Chapter 1: Specimen A
Chapter 1: Specimen A
Planet Turo, 2130 hours:
"So then, how does the accused plead?"
A booming voice rang out from across a podium, heard by many ambassadors across various different planets seated in their seats at the Council Meeting Hall.
This was the moment that they have all been waiting for. Many of the Council members felt like this was a meeting not to miss. Most of them had agreed to come even on short notice. They had been summoned to the Galactic Federation HQ on Planet Turo to partake in the hearing of a tried criminal today. Instead of the usual weekly boring debates and talks, today they actually had a criminal case to supervise. Not only that, but instead of the usual squabbles about taxes and interplanetary divide lines, the charges for the accused were of a rather different and unique nature this time. They were certain that things would be interesting.
"Not guilty!" The four eyed being that was held in the centre of the vast hall folded his arms defiantly. His declaration of innocence led to the thousands of Council members observing him reacting with a mixture of intrigue, shock, and even suspicion.
Many of the Council members started to chuckle amongst themselves. Yes, this meeting was indeed going to be interesting.
"Silence! Order in the court!" the same booming voice from the podium demanded. A tall teal woman took a step forward on her podium at the centre of the huge hall, further showing off her authority as the Grand Councilwoman in charge of the Galactic Council. The Council members immediately complied. No one dared to make a move against her. After all, they could easily have their fun when they sentenced the defendant if he was guilty.
"Dr. Jumba Jookiba, we have reason to believe the tip-off that we have received from our informant," she continued. "Despite your plea, the Council is still under the impression that you have actually made an attempt to create artificial life via genetic experimentation."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Jumba looked up at the Grand Councilwoman and her main jury with firm conviction, "I am head scientist of Galaxy Defence Industries! Doing something like that would be breach in employer's trust!" he finished, closing all four of his eyes with his hands on his hips.
After a few seconds, Jumba opened his eyes and felt the cold stare of the Grand Councilwoman on him. He immediately looked back down and started fiddling with his lab coat. "You, uh, don't believe Jumba?"
"Not in the slightest, I am afraid." The Grand Councilwoman gave an incredulous look. "You will have to convince me," she said, before pointing her arm to her left and right, "and the rest of the Council."
Jumba started to laugh. "Well then, assuming that what you say is true, such genetic experiments will be not more than hypotheses and theories! Mere formulae on computer, nothing more…"
The Grand Councilwoman turned to a large whale-like alien to her left and whispered. "Captain Gantu, it appears the defendant needs to be shown Specimen A."
Gantu saluted, "Yes, ma'am!" He then dropped his salute, and reached down below the podium and proceeded to hold up something covered in cloth. "I will drop the bombshell now."
"Not now, Gantu!" she said harshly.
"Sorry, my liege! It's just that—"
She cut Gantu off, gesturing to Jumba with a grin. "We wait for the perfect timing. To put it bluntly, we let Dr. Jumba finish."
"I see… that's brilliant!" Gantu nodded his head, understanding what his superior had in her mind. "I'll like to see that idiot scientist talk his way out of this one." he muttered, focusing back to the blabbering Jumba.
"…as untrained mind can easily compromise what is on paper with reality. You see, genetics is a dangerous field. Such potential hypothetical errors can lead to much mayhem…"
Gantu put his head to his hand in boredom. "Man, this guy loves the sound of his own voice."
"I agree." The Grand Councilwoman gazed around the dome, seeing her Council members starting to yawn at Jumba making his long, drawn-out testimony. "In fact, I think the Council is actually being bored to death."
2200 hours, thirty minutes later…
"…and that is why I would never, ever do something like this in practice. Without proper understanding about complexities of deoxyribonucleic acid, any wrong combination of proteins can actually…"
Jumba was still giving his testimony without showing any signs of slowing down or stopping. By now, the Council was half dazed. Out of the thousands seated all around the dome, more than half of them were asleep. They were prepared for what was supposed to be an exciting court trial, not a massive science lecture.
"Grand Councilwoman, can we please shut that idiot scientist up!" Gantu's eye was twitching with impatience. He was getting extremely fed up.
The Grand Councilwoman too was starting to get tired of Jumba's droning. Try as she might though, she wasn't allowed to interrupt his testimony. Firstly it was against Intergalactic Law for the accused to not make their stand.
And second, she wanted to see if Jumba would slip up and reveal his true motivations.
"…of course, I cannot expect such uneducated minds like yours to understand!" Jumba pointed to himself with pride in his face, "This is beyond your comprehension. With such genius mind like mine…"
"That's it!" The Grand Councilwoman changed her mind. She was not going to let her Council get insulted. "Gantu, release the cloth!" she commanded.
Gantu heaved a sigh of relief. Finally, that idiot scientist would shut up, "With pleasure, Grand Councilwoman." With a flourish, he whipped off the cloth, revealing its contents to the Council.
Jumba suddenly stopped talking, which caught the attention of the entire Council, at least those who were still conscious. Wondering the reason why the defendant would suddenly shut up, they proceeded to follow Jumba's gaze and focused their new attention on a glass capsule being held up in Gantu's left arm.
Seeing Dr. Jumba's stunned face, the Grand Councilwoman smirked to herself.
From the start, she wished to bait the scientist into thinking that the Council had nothing on him but the tip-off. The moment he was arrested however, they had in fact nabbed the evidence straight from his lab at Galaxy Defence Industries.
The Grand Councilwoman had known that the accused was lying ever since he pleaded innocence. Jumba professing his innocence in spite of the evidence they had proved that he either had something to hide or was trying to get himself falsely acquitted. Plus, lying to the council jury could easily be another additional charge compounded onto Jumba's sentence.
The Council left nothing to chance. Just the way it should be.
They had no choice. The United Galactic Federation consisted of many galaxies and planets, all home to millions of different alien species. It prided itself on having colonised over twenty percent of all life in the universe. All of its planetary members consisted of intelligent life that has been capable enough to invent intergalactic space travel on their own.
Once that threshold is reached, a planet and its inhabitants would be given an offer of membership into the Federation. They will be briefed on its known laws to prevent misunderstandings between them and given a stake in Council meetings when drafting new laws. Despite being a humongous pain in manpower needed to check for emerging planets with intelligent lifeforms, this was a necessary step. The sheer array of member planets, each with their varying own ethics, laws, and alliances, meant that without appropriate treaties and agreements in place, intergalactic conflict and mayhem would be a certainty.
And breaking those laws would be very, very bad. Any threat to such a fragile system like the Federation and the interplanetary treaties could be smashed, resulting in an all-out war waged across the cosmos.
She contemplated that, remembering what had happened to her predecessor in the Grand Council. Back then, many millennia ago, she had been his assistant, and her superior was a carefree idiot. He was so confident in his authority as the Council Head and his ability to stop conflict that he didn't realise that two neighbouring planets had been feuding until it was too late.
The tiny battle escalated, and the resulting intergalactic war wound up lasting for a century and costing the Federation trillions of dollars' worth of damage, not to mention the unbelievable number of casualties sustained from the many battles. Despite everything, no one was willing to listen to her superior, even though he was the Council Head. It was every species for themselves. No planet cared at all about the Council order to stand down amongst all the chaos when it meant they could get eradicated by a passing threat.
The entire Galactic Federation, for all its influence with all its treaties, had ground to a massive halt.
After it was all over, he had been dragged on trial by the rest of the Galactic Council. Unfortunately for him, many of the Council members consisted of ambassador representatives from planets caught in the crossfire. It was almost unanimously agreed that he was not fit to lead, and as a result, he was demoted and imprisoned for gross negligence and incompetence.
The Grand Councilwoman subconsciously adjusted her golden collar, the mark of leadership for the Council Head. The Council has elected her to succeed her predecessor, and she had resolved not to make the same mistakes as him.
She would not be a lazy, carefree leader. She will be the most respected leader across half of the cosmos, ruling with fairness and impunity. If it means occasionally clamping down with an iron fist, then so be it. She would rather be seen as harsh rather than kind. If it's one thing she learned, too much kindness implies weakness, and weakness is a very bad quality to show when you are in charge of intergalactic debates.
With that in her mind, she turned away from Jumba, not even bothering to hide the glee in her smile. She had already beaten this new threat, snuffing it out before it could begin. The Council would almost certainly imprison him now.
"So then, Dr. Jumba, what do we have here?" she questioned, peering into Gantu's glass capsule and taking her first look at Jumba's creation.
What was inside the glass could be best described as a furry, pudgy yellow creature. It lay slumped, lying down immobile on the jar base with its eyes closed.
"Gantu?" the Grand Councilwoman's amusement faded.
Gantu leaned down towards her so that Jumba and the rest of the Council could not hear their conversation, "Yes?"
"I thought your men assured me that this thing was alive."
"It is!" he insisted, glancing down to the unmoving being in his glass capsule. "I-I mean…"
"Well," she continued unamused, "your Specimen A appears to be a statue."
"Ma'am, I assure you, my guards raided Jumba's lab and they swear on their honor that—"
"Silence!" she interrupted, closing in on the retreating Gantu. "Captain Gantu, you assured me that this 'Specimen A' could instantly incarcerate Dr. Jumba! So what is the meaning of this?"
"Uh…" Gantu couldn't say a thing. His body was starting to betray him with fear when he was suddenly saved by the most unlikely figure.
"Hey there, what's the big idea?" a nasally voice interrupted their conversation.
The Grand Councilwoman's gaze narrowed. "What was that, Captain Gantu? How dare you talk to me like that?"
"Uh, that wasn't me." Gantu replied.
The new voice spoke again. "Down here, geniuses."
Gantu and the Councilwoman could detect sarcasm dripping from its tone of speech. Both of them peered down to the source of the voice, just in time to see Jumba's genetic experiment blinking its groggy eyes from within its glassy prison. Seeing that it now had their attention, it lazily stretched its arms while yawning.
"I was taking such a good nap," it moaned, "Did you really have to be so loud and ruin my beauty sleep?"
So I was watching Lilo & Stitch the other day when it struck me on how different the trial would be if they got another experiment instead of Stitch. I originally envisioned it as a one-shot, but one idea led to another, and well here I am.
In case you have only ever watched the first film, the experiment here is supposed to be Reuben. You know, just for those unaware.
Chapter 2: Experiment 625
Chapter 2: Experiment 625
Planet Turo, 2205 hours:
The Grand Councilwoman and Gantu peered at the slowly awakening experiment in the glass capsule. All around them, Council members were whispering to each other.
"So it is alive after all!"
"It can talk!"
"Then that mad scientist is guilty then!"
"Look at that thing!"
"It looks… harmless."
Ignoring them all, Jumba's experiment stared back at Gantu through the glass. He tilted his head at an angle to look closer at the whale like alien. "Hey, what are you staring at, big guy? You have a problem with me, huh?" he asked, jabbing his finger at his furry chest.
Gantu couldn't believe his eyes. The experiment had just been… sleeping! He had almost got into unbelievable trouble with the Grand Councilwoman all because Jumba's experiment decided to take a snooze!
"Why you little… I do have a problem with you!" Gantu snarled, "How dare you sleep on me!"
"Ohhhhh, not happy with my lifestyle choices?" the experiment shot back at Gantu. "Hey miss!" he called for the Grand Councilwoman. Once she focused her attention on the experiment in Gantu's palm, the experiment pointed his finger to Gantu, "Looks like your assistant here is an old grouch!"
Gantu was taken aback by his words. This thing had guts. It had insulted him, him, in front of the entire Council. He could already hear snickering from some of the Council members seated across the room. Glancing at the Grand Councilwoman, Gantu was mortified to see her resisting a chuckle as well.
He growled. He was not going to just take that lying down. He was going to show this thing who was in charge.
"You trog!" he bellowed with such a loud voice that some of the Council ambassadors seated in close proximity were forced to cover their ears. Even the smug golden experiment flinched. Gantu gave a savage grin at seeing the glimmer of fear that suddenly appeared in its eyes. His hands tightened his grip on the glass capsule, almost like he wanted to crush it in his palm.
"H-hey, easy there!" the experiment stuttered, his earlier bravado gone. "I was just kidding! Let up, big guy!"
"Shut up, you! I am Captain Gantu, chief of the entire Galactic Armada! Do you wish to be eradicated, you… you monstrosity?!"
Jumba suddenly objected from his stand across the hall, causing Gantu to glare at him instead of the experiment in the capsule.
"What do you want?" Gantu shouted. He was already annoyed with having to sit through Jumba's long speech and Jumba's own experiment humiliating him was making him lose all of his patience.
Jumba shook his head, crying out in anger, "This is not a monstrosity! This is result of my evil genius mind!"
Many of the Council members started to perk up in curiosity. Now this was interesting. Did the defendant flat out admit that he was evil? Sure, the Grand Councilwoman had already shown that Jumba was lying and did make an illegal genetic experiment, but to brag about it in front of a court was a far different story.
"Hahahaha! This is my precious Experiment Six-two-five! His primary function…" Jumba's voice rose to a crescendo. "Sandwich maker!"
There was a stunned silence after Jumba's declaration. It was so quiet that the soft droning of the machinery in the Council Hall could be heard. After about ten seconds, the Grand Councilwoman blurted out the thought that was on everybody's mind.
"Excuse me, what?"
Jumba looked incredulous at the Galactic Council's reaction of confusion. "You heard me. Experiment six-two-five, personally designed by Jumba to make most delicious sandwiches in whole wide galaxy!" he shouted triumphantly, thrusting his arms upwards.
Gantu narrowed his eyes, glowering at the pudgy golden experiment in the capsule. "You're joking."
"Oh no, I am telling truth," Jumba replied, "Perhaps you would like six-two-five here to give you a demonstration?" he asked, offering a hand in assistance to the large whale alien.
"No!" Gantu bellowed. "If I wanted a sandwich I would go to Galactic Fries!"
As if on cue, several of the seated Council members started to fidget.
"Stupid Gantu, now I'm hungry…" a Council member moaned.
"Yeah, now all four of my stomachs are rumbling," another complained.
"It's already past closing hours for food outlets in my home planet…"
"Do you have some protein shake to inject into my mouth?"
Gantu roared out. "You fools!" He gestured wildly to the Council ambassadors, "I was being sarcastic! I didn't actually want to eat fast food!"
"Well, you made us hungry."
"And take that back, Galactic Fries make the best burgers!"
There were stares from across the entire hall at the Council member who had just spoken.
"Did you just really say Galactic Fries?"
"You're wrong! Neutron Burgs make the best burgers!"
"You've no taste!"
"What about our local planet's fast food chain?! They deserve credit too even if they are limited to a single planet!"
"You're all incorrect. I deduce that there is a high probability of Sunshine Cafe being the best."
"No one asked you!"
"Hey, I still think Galactic Fries is great!"
Sighing as the entire Council Hall erupted into a furious debate over which was the universe's the best intergalactic fast food chain, the Grand Councilwoman chose to ignore the dumb debate and lingered her gaze on Jumba. "How do we know you are telling the truth, Dr. Jumba? You have already proven yourself to be a consistent liar if the past half an hour has told me anything."
"Heheh," Jumba chuckled. "Why don't you be finding out for yourself? Be letting six-two-five out to demonstrate his skill?"
Gantu, who had been arguing with a beetle alien about fast food, immediately dropped his argument to make his opinion on Jumba's suggestion clear. "No! Grand Councilwoman, it's an obvious trap! Do you really trust that idiot scientist Jumba, and by extension," he pointed at 625, "that abomination?!"
The Grand Councilwoman weighed the odds in her head. She could listen to Gantu and choose to decline Jumba's request, of course. It would be the easy option. Just say that he had to be lying and use the charges of lying to the Council and illegal genetic experiment against him.
But there was one small problem.
"Hey, big guy! I have ears, I heard all of that! You didn't have to make it personal!" 625 crossed his arms, locking eyes with Gantu. "What, you doubt my sandwich capabilities?"
And experiment six-two-five was that problem.
Captain Gantu had claimed that getting an illegal genetic experiment from Jumba's laboratory would be more than enough proof to warrant a guilty verdict. The Grand Councilwoman resisted a groan remembering the captain's boast.
That couldn't have been further from the truth.
Coming into the trial, she was convinced that Jumba was just a mad scientist, another potential threat to the galaxy that must be wiped out. But now she and the Council weren't too sure. At first glance, Jumba was not power hungry. Unlike many dictators or criminals, he was just simply eccentric.
Maybe closer to insane.
"It gives him levity", she thought. "We were all willing to listen to his nonsense for the past half hour after all…"
It would have been easier to sentence a normal criminal to prison. Jumba didn't act like a criminal at all. He even claimed that he was an evil genius. Who would do that? No normal person would confess their crimes and gloat to the jury! He would have to be either extremely evil or extremely stupid to do that, and he seemed like neither.
The Grand Councilwoman realised that the Council would hesitate in sentencing him because of these facts. Some probably thought he really was a harmless scientist at Galaxy Defence Industries who was wrongly indicted. Others may believe that Jumba might be evil, but he had to be so dumb that it didn't make a difference if they sentenced him to community service or a prison asteroid.
Either that or they will think they were being hoodwinked, all because of Jumba's experiment. She hated to admit it, but the experiment had its charm.
If it was some deadly looking thing, then perhaps the Council would have been more likely to immediately sentence Jumba. That was the impression Gantu had given her when he said that the experiment would instantly prove Jumba guilty.
But of course not, that would have been too easy.
Experiment 625's fur was dyed golden-yellow, and his nose was red. He was even pudgy. It was almost like he was made to be adorable, not evil. Not only did it not look evil, it acted like a normal being as well. It was grouchy at being woken up, poked fun at Captain Gantu, and was being sarcastic and making wisecracks.
Just like a normal person.
All because of that, now the Council was curious, just like a toddler being attracted to a plasma gun.
Nothing had prepared her for this. The artificial lifeform was behaving like a real life living creature. Some of the more civilised ambassadors would certainly use this to turn the entire trial around. The trial would definitely attract unwanted media attention at this rate. Despite what she and the Council personally thought of Jumba, to the public, creating artificial life would be a miracle.
Not to mention, if all his experiment could do was make sandwiches, then they had absolutely nothing on Jumba. Maybe lying to the Council, yes, but making sandwiches wasn't even close to an intergalactic evil threat at all.
If Experiment 625 was truly harmless, then her original plan of sentencing Jumba harshly would backfire. She had to call Jumba's bluff on his experiment or the rumours would start spilling. The Grand Councilwoman sighed. She could see the tabloids headlines already…
'CORRUPT COUNCIL WRONGFULLY IMPRISONS INNOCENT SCIENTIST!'
The resistance would just love to get their claws on this. The Grand Councilwoman grimaced at the very thought.
The main resistance to the United Galactic Federation had been born because of her predecessor's incompetence. The group felt that the United Galactic Federation held a monopoly over the cosmos, and wished to break its stronghold by being an opposition group.
But besides the main resistance caused by lingering resentment over the war, there were a smaller minority of planets who had refused to join the Federation because of claims of power and balance shifts. They were worried that the Federation would absorb their culture, or that the top were corrupt, or otherwise.
Hence, something like this would be excellent propaganda for the resistance. They could claim that Jumba's trial was rigged. They would just need to twist a few words around. It was all politics.
Too bad she wouldn't ever give her enemies that ammunition.
"Yes," she thought to herself. "This genetic experiment must be seen as a threat to the Galactic Federation."
She had no choice. She had to chance it and let Experiment 625 out of the capsule to disprove Jumba's claim. If she sentenced Jumba without doing that, there would be rumours and whispers about corruption.
So instead, she would let Jumba play right into her hand. She would oblige his request.
The Grand Councilwoman straightened up. She made her decision.
"Gantu, open the capsule containing Specimen A."
"But ma'am..." Gantu started.
"Hey, that is Experiment six-two-five!" Jumba shouted. "Do not be calling my precious experiment that generic name!" he pouted.
Gantu's annoyance was clear on his face as he shouted back, "You stay out of this!" Turning to the Grand Councilwoman, he then took on a more formal pose and voice. "Grand Councilwoman, you cannot possibly let this thing out. I assure you, this—"
"Gantu!" she stomped her feet down, cutting off any further arguments from the whale alien.
Seeing the exchange, 625 let out a chuckle. "Heh, looks like you lose. Gotta listen to your boss, blubby."
"B-Blubby?!" Gantu spluttered. Hearing another bout of laughter from the seated Council ambassadors, he yelled in embarrassment, "You trog!"
"Gantu!" the Grand Councilwoman retorted, seeing the captain start to lose control of his temper, "The experiment is baiting you! Do not get distracted, release him!"
"But ma'am! What if it escapes! Or what if it tries to help Jumba escape?"
The Grand Councilwoman wanted to facepalm. "That is the whole point, Gantu." she mumbled softly so no one could hear.
If Experiment 625 used the opportunity to escape, she could show its true colours and disprove Jumba's 'harmless scientist' personality in front of everyone.
And if it couldn't make the best sandwiches in the galaxy, as Jumba had claimed, then she could claim that Jumba was lying and that 625 must have been made for some other purpose.
There had to be some trick. Judging by all the technobabble Jumba said earlier, she was convinced that so much work went into the experiment's creation that there had to be no way that its purpose was simply just to create sandwiches. Jumba had to have made this experiment for another reason. And once she called out Jumba, the Council would unanimously toss him into prison, no questions asked.
Control. She was the one in control. And she would remain in control.
"Just do it, Captain Gantu." she commanded in a tone so harsh that no sane Council member would dare defy her.
Despite wanting nothing more than to strangle the experiment, Gantu obliged and unfastened the digital lock on the capsule. He gently placed the open capsule on the podium floor, with the opening facing the Council Hall.
Seeing his way out, Experiment 625 slowly crawled out of the capsule. Walking out onto to podium, he saw thousands of alien Council members, all looking at him. This unnerved the experiment as he started to look apprehensive at being the centre of attention.
"Very well, then. Experiment six-two-five, was it?" The Grand Councilwoman stood tall, looking down at the experiment with an air of authority.
"Yes?" 625 replied with a bored reaction.
The Grand Councilwoman grinned a bit seeing his reply. From her close proximity to him, unlike the others, she could actually see the insecurity in his eyes.
"He isn't dumb," she thought. "Being addressed by me directly must have made him scared of what's about to happen."
All she needed to do now was to make 625 panic. Then the truth would be revealed. This messy trial would be wrapped up cleanly.
She raised her voice so that the entire Council Hall can hear her next sentence. "To prove to us that what Dr. Jumba says is of the utmost and absolute truth, I want you, Experiment six-two-five..."
The Council members leaned forward, wanting to hear what order the Council Head had in mind.
None of them would admit later that they guessed the next words that would come from her mouth correctly.
"...to cook a sandwich for everyone in this entire room!"
No fast food restaurants or burger joints were harmed in the making of this chapter.
Happy 15th Anniversary to Lilo and Stitch! Sure, it is a few days late, but it's the thought that counts!
Chapter 3: Would You Like Cheese With That?
Chapter 3: Would You Like Cheese With That?
Planet Turo, 2215 hours:
"I want you, Experiment six-two-five, to cook a sandwich for everyone in this entire room!"
There was silence after the Grand Councilwoman gave her challenge. All conversations between the various Council members, who had previously been chatting which each other about the experiment, the trial, or their favourite fast food outlet, simply died out. All their focus was now on 625.
And he did not look pleased.
"Did you just say that you want me… to make a sandwich for everyone here? In this here hall?" He pointed wildly, "But that's thousands of sandwiches!"
"That is the point," the Grand Councilwoman replied, "If you are indeed the best sandwich maker in the galaxy, then this should not be a problem to you at all. So then, prove to the Council that Dr. Jumba is telling the truth." Her face turned dark, "Both you and Jumba's fate are now in your hands, experiment six-two-five."
625's jaw dropped as he realised his predicament. "Wait a sec! You never said that I would be sentenced as well! This trial is rigged! I call foul, this is baloney!" he cried, flinging his arms up.
Gantu gave a smug smile back. "Well, we chose not to mention it until now." He laughed at the tide turning against the experiment, "Serves you right for your arrogance, trog."
"Come on, fellas, have sympathy on me!" 625 jumped up to the podium stand, grabbing the microphone to address the Council ambassadors. "Hey, anyone here-oof!" His impromptu appeal was cut short as Gantu grabbed him by the cuff of his neck, dragging him away from the stand.
"Hey, ouch, ouch! You're gonna tear the fur from my body!" he yelled in pain, continuing to struggle against Gantu's iron grip. "Put me down right this instant!"
"As you wish," Gantu let go of his hold on 625 and watched him hit the ground bum-first with a snicker. Seeing 625's glare, he whistled, pretending to look innocent. "You never said how you wanted to be put down, you little abomination."
"Gantu, please refrain yourself." The Grand Councilwoman rolled her eyes at the captain's childish antics.
On the ground, 625 winced from the fall, rubbing a sore spot on his tail. What in the world had he gotten himself into? On a scale from one to ten, this day was ranking pretty bad in his books already.
Then again, that wasn't a fair comparison. Today literally was the only day that 625 knew since it was the day he was born.
Or rather, made.
A loud and consistent clinking noise startled him from unconsciousness.
Just what in the world was making that ruckus? Couldn't he get a good rest?
As he opened his eyelids, blackness dissolved into orange. He gazed around, realising that the reason there was so much orange around him was because he was suspended in some form of liquid. He blinked rapidly as the liquid started to choke his nostrils.
"Aha! It is waking up!" a shrill voice tingling with excitement.
Great, now he was never going to get back to sleep. The figure who was talking continued to repeatedly tapping the glass, causing the annoying clinking noise he had heard earlier. Resigned that he could no longer laze around, he let curiosity overtook him. Using his arms to paddle around, he turned around to the source of the voice.
"Ah! You are now conscious. Hm, brain activity is at ninety percent utilisation, lower limbs in retracted position... yes, very good. Now then, you are being Jumba's experiment number six-two-five! Turn around, my little one..."
Jumba? He assumed that that was the name of the person who was towering over him. He had to admit, he was a little scared. Jumba was very huge compared to his relatively tiny size, and due to the refraction of the liquid, Jumba's four eyes appeared extremely large and imposing from his point of view.
"Six-two-five, can you understand what Jumba is saying to you? If you are being able to understand, nod your head to acknowledge."
He mentally slapped himself. He was wondering why Jumba was randomly shouting out numbers. Turned out Jumba was acknowledging him all along.
625 was his name. Eh, could have been worse. Seems like a decent name at least.
Understanding the request, the newly named 625 slowly nodded his head. As he did so, Jumba's smile grew wider, "Very good, cognitive functions already in place. My genius has paid off once again, for your thought process is like supercomputer!" Jumba held up a remote in his arm, pushing it. "I do not think you be needing life fluid support anymore."
He saw the orange around him lowering, no longer tinting his vision. After the liquid was completely drained, the chamber slid open. He immediately jumped off to the floor and shook himself vigorously, trying to get as much of the vile liquid off his fur as possible. As a shadow fell upon him, he looked up to see Jumba approach him.
"Now, to be introducing myself, six-two-five! I am your wonderful creator, Dr. Jumba Jookiba!" he began to boast.
625 snorted a little. Hadn't Jumba already told him his name earlier when he was stuck in that stupid liquid?
"My evil geniusness has allowed me to create six hundred and twenty four other genetic experiments before you, each and every last one of them with their unique and destructive capabilities designed to cause absolute chaos across galaxies! From shape shifter to Snootonium enricher, I have made it all!" Seeing 625's interested face, he continued, "Ohohohoh, I know what you're wondering, six-two-five! Just what is exactly your dastardly mission in life?"
He nodded with enthusiasm. He couldn't wait to find out just what his creator had in store for him!
"Well..." Jumba's expression instantly turned from pride to one of regret. "I must admit, due to innate lazy behaviour in your programming, your designated function is that of well, sandwich maker."
His excitement died down. He tilted his head, looking up into his creator's eyes, only to realise that Jumba wasn't pulling his leg. Sandwich maker, for real? That was a rather lame function to have. He couldn't help but blurt out his thoughts, "What, that's it? Nothing cool?"
"Brilliant! Your English is being perfect! It was imperative that Jumba not botch that up. You see, I do not program speech in all experiments. Some do not speak, some just make noises, others only speak in Tantalog, but you are one of the lucky ones because..." Jumba trailed off.
"Because…?" he questioned.
"Let's just say there is reason why I programmed you with advanced English capabilities, six-two-five."
"Not to be telling you." Jumba dodged the question.
"It's a secret!" he hissed.
"Come on..." 625 persuaded.
"Hey, do you know that today is your birthday?"
"Of course I do!" He was beginning to lose patience. "Don't change the topic, Jumba!"
"Feisty one, aren't you?"
"And why don't I get a cool power?!"
"Psssh, you are being very ungrateful, six-two-five! That said..." Jumba's voice broke as though he was reminiscing something, "One day you will either thank or curse the fact that I gave you this primary function." As a clueless 625 pondered the cryptic statement, Jumba leaned closer and spoke the next sentence to the experiment in what was almost a whisper.
"I can only hope that when that day finally comes, you make the choice to be thanking Jumba, my little experiment..."
"So as I was saying, if you fail this, the entire Galactic Council will sentence you and your creator on behalf of the United Galactic Federation."
625 tuned out the Grand Councilwoman's speech as he remembered Jumba's words. He still didn't understand what Jumba had been driving at when he had said that, because right now he was despising his primary function pretty hard. He couldn't help it. Right now he was literally being forced to make sandwiches for the very first time. When his creator was arrested, he was immediately stuffed into a heavy duty glass container by that grumpy Gantu. He never had the chance to make his own sandwich, to check if Jumba was right, that he really was a successful sandwich making experiment. Sure he trusted Jumba, to the point where he challenge Gantu earlier when he insulted his sandwich making skills, but actually being put on the spot like this was terrifying to him.
He remembered asking Jumba earlier if any experiment had not done its intended function after he was informed he was a sandwich maker. He then chortled, recalling Jumba giving him an example turned rant about Experiment 177 destroying his creator's hair as the response to his query.
But yes, on occasion one of Jumba's other experiments would not turn out as planned, which usually ended in dehydration. He shook in nervousness, putting his hand to his face in despair. What if he was a failure like 177? "What do I do?! I've never made a sandwich in my short life. What if I have some flaw? If I fail this, we're both done for..."
He was interrupted from his brooding as a guard dropped a toaster in front of him.
"I radioed my men earlier. They went grocery shopping like you asked, ma'am." Gantu told the Grand Councilwoman. He then spoke the next sentence in a whisper, "The invoice was a bomb. Can't wait to see 'sandwich ingredients' on the balance sheet. The Federation's Finance division is gonna throw a fit," he finished sarcastically.
"Just add it to the budget, it'll be worth it," she whispered back. "Guards, give six-two-five all the ingredients he requires," she ordered, glancing at the sacks of bread, cheese, and spreads with mild intrigue.
The Grand Councilwoman locked eyes with 625. "The challenge begins. Are you ready to prove yourself?"
As the Grand Councilwoman finished, Jumba started to laugh out loud. "Ahahahah! To make thousands of sandwiches? That is a worthy challenge for my experiment!"
"Excuse me?" the Grand Councilwoman questioned. This was not the reaction she had expected from Jumba at all. She had anticipated panic, dread, or defeat from the scientist. But instead, as she looked at him, Jumba was standing confidently on his stand, smiling as though he had all the cards. Why was he so confident?
"Six-two-five, be remembering that you are sandwich maker! Jumba have full trust in your abilities. Do be making all of them a sandwich, glorious like egg salad and mayonnaise!"
Something about what Jumba said called out to the downcast 625. Egg salad and mayo?
Yes, he could do this. What was he afraid of? He was made for this job! Gaining confidence, he reached out for a knife and a spreader, his mouth slowly turning upwards to a grin. "Alrighty, ya got it, lady! A whole bunch of sandwiches, coming right up!"
Planet Turo, 2348 hours:
For the past hour, the Council had been watching 625 making sandwiches.
He was like a machine, multitasking between multiple different recipes at once. On one end, eggs and bacon were being fried, on another, sandwiches were toasted or baked. The smell of finished sandwiches grew more and more fragrant as time went by, and by the end, many of their mouths were watering.
"Whew! I'm dead beat, but that should be all of them!" 625 called out, admiring his handiwork. "Help yourselves, but no second helpings!" he added.
Just as many of the Council began to tuck in, they were interrupted by a loud yell.
"No! Don't eat that! It's poisoned!"
"Oh come on, Captain Gantu, don't be a spoilsport," a Council member mumbled.
"You idiots! I bet the little trog poisoned it! Now then," Gantu approached 625, "I think that this abomination here—"
"Are you ever gonna call me six-two-five?"
"Quiet! As I was saying, I think the abomination should be the first to eat the food. A food taster, to make sure he croaks…"—he hastily backtracked his words—"I mean, prove it's not poisoned."
"Suit yourself. Your loss," 625 replied, reaching for the nearest sandwich he could get his paws on. As he bit down on it, his face lit up. "Hey thanks, Blubby! I love this peanut butter combo!" he taunted Gantu in the midst of gobbling his food.
As if on cue, the rest of the Council began chewing on their own sandwiches. Many of them followed 625's lead and started scoffing it down after tasting it.
The Grand Councilwoman couldn't believe what she was seeing. Her own challenge had been beaten. He'd managed to make a sandwich from everyone in the room in what was little more than an hour. Taking a bite out of her own sandwich, she realised her gamble had backfired. Experiment 625 really was made by Jumba to be the best sandwich maker in the galaxy.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Trying to sound as neutral as possible, she confessed, "I admit that I was wrong, Dr. Jumba. Your experiment-mhm-is really made to be a sandwich maker."
"See, Jumba told you that experiment is best sandwich maker in galaxy! Now, is there anyone here who disagrees with me?"
"Me, me!" Gantu raised his arm.
"Gantu, you blasted your sandwich with a plasma blast," the Grand Councilwoman snorted.
But besides Gantu, the lack of a proper objection by any other Council member told everyone what they needed to know.
"Well," she continued, "I am glad to see that all of us are enjoying our impromptu supper, but I am afraid we must adjourn the trial due to time. I was hoping for an easy prosecution victory, but it appears now that that shall not be the case."
"Oh, really?" Jumba sounded excited. Twiddling his thumbs, he asked, "Does that mean I can leave now?"
"No!" Gantu answered. "You'll be placed in a holding cell at Turian prison."
"What? A holding cell? Jumba already said that I am lead scientist of Galaxy Defence Industries! I need to be doing work or else company goes under!"
"Who cares about Galaxy Defence Industries?!" yelled Gantu, before being poked in the shoulder by the Grand Councilwoman.
"Gantu, that company is the Federation's main supplier of military goods."
"Jumba thinking," he started, "Perhaps you can release me on bail until the trial resumes."
She considered the option, weighing its advantages and disadvantages. "Very well then. Dr. Jumba, the bond payable for bail will be three hundred thousand Turian dollars."
"Paahhh, I refuse to be paying that ridiculous sum of money."
"Really?" the Grand Councilwoman questioned. Jumba really was insane. Which prospective defendant would turn down a bail offer? "Then just what do you propose to counteroffer as the bond?"
"Why, who else but my experiment, six-two-five!"
Said experiment, who had been munching on his peanut butter sandwich, immediately choked on his food and starting coughing when he heard his creator's bargain.
"After all, six-two-five is one of a kind, priceless! Jumba would not dare jump bail if it means losing six-two-five!"
"Hey, I object to this! Jumba, don't leave me here!" 625 cried out. After making so many sandwiches, he was too tired to think of a better appeal.
"Shush, six-two-five, it is only temporarily," Jumba reassured. "Plus, he can be cooking you all the sandwiches that you can eat while in holding cell."
That settled the debate for the jury.
"We, the jury, accept the terms and conditions of the bail. As long as the Grand Councilwoman agrees, you shall be released on bail until the trial resumes next month."
"Very well then," the Grand Councilwoman glowered at Jumba. "Release Dr. Jumba Jookiba on bail until the next meeting date and take experiment six-two-five to the Turian holding cell bay. For the rest of my Council ambassadors, I understand that it is now almost midnight, much later compared to our usual end time. As such, I would like to thank you all for your patience. This trial is now officially adjourned until the next Council meeting. That is all."
As the Council members took their leave and Gantu led a group of armed guards to escort the still whining experiment away, the Grand Councilwoman remained at her position, lingering her gaze on Jumba. "This isn't over," she thought, before turning around and walking off.
How had everything gone so wrong? Walking down the hallway, the Grand Councilwoman made a mental note to never listen to Gantu's advice so hastily the next time.
But how could she have not instantly believed him?
When Gantu had told her the charges for the convict, she had assured herself that it would be an easy trial. She had most definitely not expected Dr. Jumba's illegal genetic experiment to gain approval from the Council. Why couldn't six-two-five have been a pure destructive monster? She had banked on Jumba's genetic experiment being... a bit more unrefined. Never would she have thought that it could behave like a real intelligent life form, to the point where he managed to garner pity from the Council. Alas, her folly had its repercussions, there was no way she could easily convict Jumba now. This whole thing, meant to be a simple trial to instantly convict the scientist, would now turn into a debate of massive proportions about the ethics and sanctuary of artificial life after six-two-five's cooking display. With the new subjective views added, the trial would only get much more complicated in the future.
But in spite of the odds, she resolved that she will not lose this. For the sake of the Federation, she would just have to play her trump card. The Grand Councilwoman strutted into the transmission room, with her staff all saluting upon her arrival. While in the presence of others, she changed her face to that of confidence. She couldn't let the Council see her true state of mind. She didn't want them to know that she had lost effective control of the trial earlier.
"Put me through to him," she ordered a reptilian alien next to her.
"Right away, ma'am!"
She took a seat waiting for the connection to get through, her eyes remaining fixed on the large fifty inch monitor to her front. As the screen faded in from static, she saw a white gerbil-like creature come into view. "Hello." he spoke in a thick accent. "What brings someone of your patheti-I mean... wonderful calibre to my attention today?"
"I would like to request something of you, Dr. Hamsterveal."
"It's Hamsterviel!" the gerbil screamed, dropping his earlier cool facade. "Hamsterviel, Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel! Get the name right, you pointy-collared fool!"
"Whatever," the Grand Councilwoman tried her best to keep a straight face at his insult. She couldn't afford for Hamsterviel to get angry and back out of her offer. "Since you were the one who made the report," she continued, "I would like for you to testify as a witness against Dr. Jumba next month."
"And why would you need me to testify? The trial should already be over! Isn't that idiot scientist already in prison after my tip-off?!"
"Unfortunately the Council was unprepared," she sighed at her own mistake. "Due to lack of circumstantial evidence and time, the trial has been adjourned. Jumba is currently out on bail, released temporarily from the Galactic Federation's custody."
"Wha... Jumba is on bail? Why isn't he locked up on a prison asteroid, you incompetent buffoons?!" Hamsterveil started jumping furiously, his agitated face covering the screen, "Your stinking Galactic Council had one job, one job! You just had to arrest him so that I could get..." Hamsterviel suddenly coughed, stopping his rant. Looking sheepish for his outburst, he resumed speaking at a much softer and subdued tone. "I mean... I will be glad to be of your assistance."
"As I was saying, the trial has been adjourned until next month due to lack of sufficient evidence. In fact, the way things are currently going, Jumba might actually be acquitted..."
"What?!" Hamsterviel almost screamed. "How?!"
"That is not my matter to speak. However, if you were to attend as a key witness at the next Council meeting, then the Council might change its mind." Her face turned firm, "You will attend, correct? You do want Jumba to be found guilty, do you not?"
Hamsterviel put his arm to his mouth, deep in thought. "You want me to appear before the Galactic Council?" Making up his mind, he drew his cape across his body, laughing maniacally. "Mwahahahaha! Well then, I accept your proposal. Mark my words! For I, Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel, will be there at Planet Turo next month to prove Jumba guilty!"
"Excellent," she folded her arms, "Thank you and goodbye, Dr. Hamsterveal."
As she ended the transmission, the Grand Councilwoman allowed herself a smile. She had been tempted to use her authority to declare a mistrial since she could claim that the jury would be biased after 625's sandwich buffet, but now she was glad she hadn't. It would not have looked good on her to replace the jury, and now that she had the original whistleblower by her side, she didn't need to. 625's scrumptious sandwiches might have swayed the Galactic Council this time, but it would not be able to get both him and Jumba acquitted when the trial resumed. As long as she had Hamsterviel as a prosecution witness, she would be able to prove to the same Council jury who had adored the experiment today that in truth, Dr. Jumba had some sinister intent when he had created Experiment 625. Satisfied, she walked out of the transmission room, confident that the trial would go in her favour when it resumed the following month.
Unbeknownst to her, elsewhere in the galaxy, the one on the other end of the video call had his own plans.
Once he saw that the Grand Councilwoman was off the line, Hamsterviel dropped his smirk and began to fret. He had been smart enough to accept her offer since declining would have made her suspicious, but there was one major problem with being called to the stand...
"I can't go to Planet Turo! It will be a death sentence to my evil genius career!" he paced about his ship with fright evident on his face. "If I attend that stupid trial next month, Jumba can prove that I funded all of his experiments during the cross-examination! Once that lying, double-crossing scientist fibs me out, I'll be arrested by proxy!" He slammed his fist down at the very thought, "The great Dr. Hamsterviel cannot be thrown in prison! Who would take over this stinking galaxy if I am imprisoned?!"
He stopped his pacing with grim determination on his face. Getting into the cockpit seat, he yelled out, "Computer! Set a course to Galaxy Defence Industries!"
"Course set," a computerised voice spoke, "Calculating approximate arrival time to destination."
"Stupid Grand Councilwoman! She and her dumb Council were supposed to make sure Jumba was out of my way!" he muttered. "No matter, I can still salvage this plan. I was going to wait and continue acting like a goody-two-shoe until the time was right, but now thanks to those Council idiots, I have to act immediately!" Hamsterviel sat back as his ship's hyperdrive charged up. He had committed to his plan by making the move of selling out Jumba. Even though things were now going slightly wrong, he had no choice but to follow it through to the end.
Jumba not being in custody made virtually no difference to Hamsterviel. It would just be a minor hiccup, for the end result would still be the same. He couldn't resist an evil smirk. It would not be long before the entire Galactic Federation learns the true meaning of fear.
All of Jumba's experiments would soon be his. All his!
I really enjoyed writing this chapter, and I hoped you enjoyed reading it too.
We also meet the big bad (actually more like tiny bad) Dr. Hamsterviel. Hamsterviel is someone that I see tend to be rather one-dimensionally characterised in L&S fics. With few exceptions, he's either this smug and feared big bad in charge of an army of Leroy clones that does his bidding... or an overconfident snivelling coward that literally no one, human or experiment, takes seriously in the slightest unless the situation turns dire. I hope that my take on Hamsterviel would be a mix between the two extremes, definitely a threat, but a goofy threat nevertheless—obviously he is still somewhat of a genius after all, but I will admit there is some joy in him screaming "HAMster, not gerbil".
Chapter 4: Queen's Gambit Accepted
Chapter 4: Queen's Gambit Accepted
"Good morning and welcome to 'Across the Cosmos'! I'm your host for this morning, Clampart Christopher, bringing you the latest news across the Galactic Federation! Starting with today's headlines — yesterday night, the Galactic Council assembled together for its first intergalactic trial this year. The accused, Kweltikwan scientist Jumba Jookiba, was charged with illegal genetic experimentation—"
"Ha!" a delighted voice interrupted. "I made it on headline news! Lucky me, Across the Cosmos is one of the most listened radio shows in all of galaxy! I am being famous now!"
The driver in the front groaned. He'd drawn lots with his friends as to which of them would ferry Jumba to Galaxy Defence Industries, and of course he'd drawn the short straw.
"As this trial is held by the Galactic Council and still ongoing, little information is currently known about the proceedings." The reporter's voice then had an added edge of excitement as he continued, "However, there have been rumours that the accused had actually managed to create intelligent artificial life. If the rumour is true, then this could be a revolutionary breakthrough in genetic science! As of now, no long-term artificial lifeforms have managed to be created by the universe's top scientists. Could this scientist have done the impossible? When we pursued the issue, the Grand Councilwoman did not make any comment. The case against Dr. Jumba is continuing and will resume next—"
The voice from the radio suddenly diminished until it was inaudible.
"Hey, I was listening to that," Jumba complained. "Be putting it back on!"
The driver only laughed seeing Jumba's frown from his rear view mirror. "Serves him right," he thought, removing his hand from the radio's volume dial. He was irritated enough about being unlucky enough to have to ferry Jumba down in the midnight hours, but to listen about the scientist's accomplishments bragged on intergalactic news was the last straw.
Thankfully, the driver's reprieve finally came. He saw his destination fast approaching. The lone police cruiser approached a dark red ship parked on an asteroid. The driver of the cruiser finally allowed himself a yawn. Finally, this stupid trip was over.
"Now remember, Dr. Jumba," he barked, "custody of that delicious food making experiment six-two-five will be forfeited to the Galactic Federation if you do not follow these terms."
"Bah, I know." Jumba interrupted. Looking at the driver innocently, he started listing out all the rules he knew. "Not to be exiting quadrant of workarea Galaxy Defence Industries, no possession of firearms, and other stuff."
"Good. Now get lost," the driver shot back. He took out a bunch of keys and turned back to unfasten Jumba's handcuffs. Immediately after, he opened the side door and all but practically kicked the scientist off. The microsecond Jumba was on his home turf, the cruiser zoomed off.
Jumba gazed at the cruiser zooming away, heading back to Planet Turo. Once the cruiser was a mere speck in the sky, his clueless expression turned to one of triumph. "Ahhaha! I am true evil genius! I managed to make it out of Galactic Federation stronghold. You have done your job well, six-two-five! And soon, all of galaxy will fear me!" he yelled out to the countless stars in the sky.
Having cooled off, he strolled inside the building, the door shutting behind him automatically. Jumba looked carefully at his lab. Surprisingly there was no yellow tape or any areas cordoned off, everything was left as it was.
Those cocky Council ambassadors probably thought that they had everything.
"How wrong they are," Jumba laughed inwardly to himself, glancing at a spherical metallic container tucked neatly behind the corner. Just like he had thought, they left this behind. Who would suspect what looked like a gumball machine?
Walking to his desk, Jumba tilted his head when he suddenly noticed something out of place. "Ahhh, what's this," he observed. A tiny silver device was next to his desk.
"Only one voice recorder?" he thought. Jumba felt severely underwhelmed. How very careless of them! Then again, nobody had expected him to walk free again, so this was probably not even meant to be listening to him in the first place.
"Heheheh, foolish Council thought they could bug Jumba's lab with primitive listening device?" he thought. "Perhaps I should use six-one-three's noisemaker function to blast their eardrums with sonic blast. Or better yet, I can use two-five-eight's sonic annoyance ability and use irritating beat to drive them all crazy throughout their spying, eheheheheh... oh wait," Jumba's excited face turned grim when he suddenly remembered, "Is no use. Good idea, but both two-five-eight and six-one-three are now dehydrated, would be too much effort to rehydrate them just for this one purpose. And they also must not be caught! Right now Council is thinking I made only one genetic experiment. Let them continue to be thinking that. I can't risk them realising I made six hundred and twenty five!"
"And soon to be six hundred and twenty six..." he whispered to himself.
No, he wouldn't risk that.
He reached for a yellow button on his desk and jabbed it down. He eased up a little, knowing he no longer had to worry about any snooping from the Council since all they would hear now is static from a white noise generator. Upon confirming that no one was spying on him, he opened an empty drawer in his desk. Pushing his palm down on the bottom, the entire thing tilted to reveal a false bottom.
Sometimes the simplest solutions were the most obvious ones.
He took a remote control out of the hidden compartment. Eyeing the big red button on it hungrily, he pressed it down slowly. Sirens begun to flash as a hidden container filled with an orange mixture with several monitors attached to it rose out of the ground. Jumba flexed his hands in anticipation as he walked towards the middle of the lab. They hadn't found his secret weapon after all!
He turned his eyes towards a large loading bar on one of the screens. 'Molecule Charging Process is 98% complete. Estimated completion time — 20 minutes,' it read.
"Twenty minutes left," he thought. "Just a mere twelve hundred seconds to go! I can't believe that it worked! All I had to do was trick them into thinking six-two-five was my only experiment, and they got careless with evidence bagging."
"Experiment six-two-five…? Ohh, that reminds me!" he exclaimed. "Since I have time now, I need to be updating the information database for experiment six-two-five!" He walked away from the middle of the room sat down at his computer, preparing to update his database with the newest log. The database was an encyclopedia of information on every single experiment he had ever created.
Updating the experiment database was one of Jumba's favourite hobbies. He loved to write the experiment logs. Despite being their creator, there were always some things he could never anticipate from his creations. Perhaps it was his scientific brain, but he practically squealed whenever he had the chance to document minute details of the experiments. Jumba felt that with every successive log he wrote, he learnt more and more about the little monstrosities he had created. His experiments were all he had left anyway, ever since his ex-wife left him.
"Log Number 4," he began typing under the section for Experiment 625, "All my suspicions were right. Ha, it pays to be cautious! I have returned from Planet Turo, and those fools now have nothing on me! 625 has convinced the jury that he is a sandwich maker experiment. I must be saying, despite being added last minute..."
Almost subconsciously, as he typed, Jumba's mind drifted back to the day before.
Jumba stared intently at what would soon be his newest experiment. Oh, he had high hopes for this one. This could be the one, the experiment to end all experiments! After many long years of perfecting prototypes, could this finally be it?
"Almost being done with you..." he whispered.
"Huh? What is it?" he looked down to see an experiment putting its hands on its lips, trying to get its creator's attention. "Do not be disturbing me, experiment two-three-four, I'm busy."
"Two-three-four, I said..." Jumba trailed off seeing the insistence in 234's eyes. Growing concerned, he kneeled down towards the experiment. Seeing it had Jumba's attention, 234 turned its tail towards its creator. New voices suddenly came through the speaker on its tail.
"Heheh, that idiot scientist will never know what hit 'im."
All four of Jumba's eyes widened. Two-three-four was designed for eavesdropping, so it must be picking up this conversation from nearby. Which meant that the idiot scientist they were talking about was... him. He leaned even closer, grabbing the tail like a lifeline, and continued listening attentively.
"So, when do we strike, Captain Gantu?"
"Immediately. Surround the lab!"
"Bah! No, no, no! Not now!" Jumba slammed his fist down on the ground. "Not when I'm this close to perfecting my latest experiment!"
This was the worst possible time or there to be a sudden investigation on him. There was no way he could possibly hide everything he had. Not unless there was nothing in the entire laboratory.
"Wait, nothing in the lab? Bah, I am being stupid!" He grabbed his intercom immediately. "Experiment six-oh-four, be reporting to Jumba at once!"
A few seconds after his voice blared through the builtin PA system, a shivering white rabbit hopped towards Jumba. However, the moment Jumba lay his gaze on him, he started hyperventilating and covered his eyes with his floppy ears, fearing the worst.
"No, you are not in trouble, be calming down." Once Jumba saw 604's trembling slow down, he carried on. "Six-oh-four, this is being very important. I want you to turn everything in my lab invisible! All the experiments, machines, computer... everything must be invisible! Not even a single test tube can remain!" Jumba ordered. "And don't forget to be turning you and me invisible, of course!" he added as an afterthought.
Experiment 604 continued to shake in fright, unable to process what was happening. Jumba shook his head seeing 604's response. He didn't want to do this, but it was the only way with the scaredy experiment.
"Six-oh-four, if they catch anything here," he continued, face turned menacing, "Then you would be captured! And your captors will make you eat your most hated food, carrots!"
One scream and Experiment 604 began dashing in a panic, blinking his eyes constantly to turn virtually everything invisible.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
Jumba let out a breath he didn't realise he had been holding as all the evidence of an evil scientist being here was seemingly wiped out.
And not a moment too soon.
"Open up! This is the Galactic Armada!"
"Hurry, six-oh-four!" Jumba frantically turned to the rabbit experiment. "Turn us both invisible!"
604 immediately obliged, blinking his eyes twice. Ding! Ding!
"I said open up! I know you're in there!"
Everyone kept quiet as the one outside yelled again.
"They can't see us, but they can be hearing us. So no one to be making a sound," a now invisible Jumba hissed. "Yes, I'm talking about you two, experiments one-one-oh and two-five-eight!"
The two guilty experiments felt everyone's eyes glaring upon them. How everyone happened to know where those two were despite the fact that they were all invisible was irrelevant.
"I know that you two were designed to be annoying others with your talking and beat rhythm respectively, but for the sake of all of us, do be keeping quiet!"
"What about six-one-three, huh?" came a new voice. "I heard that his primary function was to be a noisemaker."
Jumba wanted to hit the wall once he heard Experiment 199 butt into the conversation. What part of keeping quiet did he not understand? "Six-one-three has better self-control than the other two, one-nine-nine," he whispered, "At least he wouldn't generate loud sonic booms at random!"
613, hearing his creator's praise, gave an affectionate toot in response. He then realised his mistake when he felt several invisible experiments glare at the area where his honk had come from.
Jumba literally facepalmed. "Never mind, I take back what I said about six-one-three. Now everyone, be shutting u—"
He never finished his sentence. A plasma blast suddenly blasted the lab door open with a loud bang, sending shrapnel everywhere.
Small whimpers came from scared experiments that quickly subsided once they realised the gravity of the situation if they continued making noise. As the smoke cleared, Jumba clutched 604 closer to him. He didn't dare chance 604 freaking out and turning everything visible.
A large whale-like alien comfortably strolled into the lab as though it was his home and he didn't just blast a twenty-foot size hole into what used to be a door.
His smug smile quickly turned to one of shock, "What the... there's nothing here! The tip-off said that he would be here!"
"Perhaps they were mistaken, Captain Gantu?" one of the guards around him commented. "I mean, illegal genetic experimentation sounds kinda unbelievable, huh?"
Jumba's head turned with fear. Did he just say…?
"No, I smell a trog," Gantu replied, "We best tell our informant that he's mistaken. No one wastes the Galactic Armada's time, and more importantly, my time!"
Gantu stormed back out of the empty lab, his guards following him. The subsequent loud whir and blast told everyone that he had taken off and warped to another galaxy via hyperspace to report to his bosses.
Minutes after it was confirmed they left, everything in the lab became visible again, courtesy of 604. Every experiment was chattering with another about the events that had just occurred.
Meanwhile, Jumba sat himself down on a chair with despair in his face.
The Galactic Armada Captain, the one called Gantu, had mentioned a tip-off, and one of his guards mentioned genetic experimentation. Putting together the pieces in his head, Jumba did not like the outcome at all.
They had known that he was making illegal genetic experiments. That meant that the one who tipped them off had to know about his experiments.
Besides his ex-wife, there was only one person in the entire universe that knew about his experiments — his old acquaintance, Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel.
"Yaaarggghhh!" He flung his hand at a stack of papers on his desk, scattering them all throughout the room in his rage.
He should have never trusted Hamsterviel.
Now thanks to him, the eyes of the Galactic Federation were on Jumba. The Armada weren't just like local police that anyone could summon. They were only deployed against legitimate threats. To summon them would require the approval of the Council.
He was actually honoured that the Galactic Council was after him, the thought made Jumba's grin grow wide. "Would end badly for Federation, in fact. Very badly," he laughed to himself. They most definitely underestimated just what he could do to them. He had only just started working on his 600-series of experiments, the ones explicitly designed for doomsday purposes. If it came down to a fight between the Council and him, Jumba was confident in his ability to put up a war.
A mad scientist, taunted and jeered by all of intergalactic society, would soon be the one to be wiping the smirks off of all of their faces.
"All my life..." he started, "I've been called an idiot scientist all my life!" Some of the experiments began looking at their creator as he started talking in what only could be described as a tone of pure, simmering rage. "I've never been accepted by anyone, anyone! They've all laughed, sneered, jeered, even those at Evil Genius University! But now, I will show them all! Each and every one of you experiments is proof of my evil geniusness!"
Many cheers came from all the experiments around, ready to cause mischief. Jumba smiled, seeing the support from all of his creations. He could see it now — his experiments, one on a planet, all waging havoc. And when they all begged for mercy, proving that he was in fact an evil genius, he would move on to the next six hundred planets.
And the next. And the next. And the next, all until the entire United Galactic Federation fell to its knees and knew his absolute greatness.
But now came the big dilemma.
In spite of perfectly being capable and willing to start an intergalactic war in retaliation for his lab door being blown to bits, Jumba wanted to wait, just a little more. He was so close, so close to creating his perfect little weapon — an indestructible fighting machine, one that was completely unstoppable. Despite having six hundred and twenty four other experiments, he was not going to start this battle before he created his ultimate weapon. Once his ultimate weapon was created, he was going to make that petty intergalactic war that happened in the last century look like small fry.
Jumba shook his head rigorously to clear his mind from thoughts of the universe fearing him. He was going off topic. Right now he had to think about what to do next. If it had been an ordinary tip-off, 604's invisibility trick would have grounded the entire investigation. An empty lab would surely mean to any observer that he had escaped, a certain dead-end. Unfortunately for Jumba, Hamsterviel knew everything about his experiments. When Gantu reported back that the lab was empty, he would most certainly guess that it was a trick and send the Federation back at Jumba. He would never be rid of the police all because of Hamsterviel.
And he was so close too!
He looked at the blob of molecules trapped in the orange filled glass in pity. Jumba had literally no clue what to do. He did not know when Gantu and his men would return. His greatest creation was almost complete and yet, Jumba could never risk working on him when there was a chance that they could return and interrupt the molecule charging process, the final and most vital phase of making an experiment.
It was such a cruel choice. He could either immediately unleash all of his experiments, or take a gamble and risk losing everything by trying to finish his greatest creation before the Federation returned.
The problem was that he couldn't have it both ways. He had to choose.
An idea suddenly struck Jumba as he glanced at one of his experiments. The brilliant idea caused him to jump in celebration, whooping in ecstasy.
Could it be that simple?
Of course not, there was still one teeny-tiny problem with this new solution, but at least the risks involved were much less compared to interrupted molecular charges. The one problem was that…
Wait, it didn't matter at all, Jumba realised with glee. He'd programmed each and every one of them themselves. Their joy, mischief, anger, deviousness were all imitations of the actual emotion!
His experiments had no actual feelings.
He would have hesitated if they had, but he'd all but made up his mind once he remembered that they didn't. Jumba turned on the intercom, addressing everyone again. "Attention to all my experiments! This is Jumba speaking. Since we have been discovered by Galactic Federation, all activated experiments are to be proceeding to lab for immediate dehydration! This is not a drill, repeat, not a drill!"
The experiments all stared at Jumba, confused. Weren't they preparing for war? Why did they all need to be dehydrated? Did he change his mind?
Ignoring the bickering that started once the experiments realised their thirst of havoc wasn't going to be sated, Jumba started working on his new invention immediately.
"Yes, I can kill two birds in one stone," his face turned dark at the thought. No tip-off from Hamsterviel was going to ruin his plans.
He would beat the Galactic Armada raid and he would also have his beautiful, delightful, indestructible experiment. As a bonus, if this worked, he could trick the Federation into thinking he was innocent, then laugh in their faces once he returned with all six hundred and twenty five-no, six hundred and twenty six of his experiments!
And indeed, it had all gone just like Jumba had planned.
It was almost too perfect. Gantu had indeed come back, and this time they found Jumba and 625 at the scene. Once he was called to the stand at Turo, like he thought, Hamsterviel didn't show since the Council did not know that he was a villain. Without Hamsterviel, the jury had nothing on Jumba once he spun the tale on 625.
All he needed was to get the court delayed to the point where it must be adjourned. The lengthy scientific speeches to delay the trial were a brilliant improvisation on his part, and the challenge from the Grand Councilwoman had been the icing on the cake. He'd been banking on the Council getting cocky, and boy did it pay off.
Experiment 625 had also done his job perfectly. That was to be expected, Jumba'd left nothing to chance. Although what happened to 625 after the trial was indeed a shame, since he had to barter the experiment to the Council to guarantee his bail. Alas, without 625, he had one less experiment on their intergalactic raid. "Oh well," Jumba shrugged. "Considering his primary function now, he would be near useless in battle."
Speaking of Experiment 625, he'd let his thoughts run wild again. That was a lengthy log he had just typed for the experiment into the database.
"—I still do wish that they never discovered my lab, as I would not have been forced to resort to this. Perhaps it is for the better that 625 is not with me. I don't know how I will ever explain this to him," he finished up the last sentence of his record log and saved it, signing his name on the completed entry.
"Now that I am done with log for experiment six-two-five, perhaps I should be checking on my other..." Jumba suddenly paused as he heard the tapping noise of footsteps. Turning around, he saw a very familiar face.
"Jumba!" said an overenthusiastic high-pitched voice. A diminutive hamster took a step forward from the shadows, a cruel grin prominent on his face. "So very nice to see you again!"
"Dr. Hamsterviel!" Jumba clenched his jaw, not even bothering to disguise his anger. "You've got some nerve to be showing up here!"
"Why the cold reaction?" Hamsterviel asked, putting up a fake concerned tone.
"Do not be acting like you don't know!" Jumba wasn't in the mood to beat around the bush, "You sold me out to Galactic Federation!"
Hamsterviel dropped his ignorance, knowing to quit when he was ahead. "Ah, so the Council told you? I should have never relied—"
"The Council never said a thing! I be figuring it out by myself!" he replied. His face turned grim, "Why did you do it, Hamsterviel?" he prodded, hoping to coax an answer from the hamster. "We ar-were partners! You've funded my experiments from the very start, every single experiment owe their creation to you! Why then, Hamsterviel? You know that the Council would be putting them down, so why would you turn on us?!"
"You are asking me why?" Hamsterviel repeated Jumba's question, as if the answer was the most obvious thing in the world. "It's because those experiments rightfully belong to ME!"
"Excuse me?" Jumba clenched his fist. "How dare you, Hamsterviel? I created all of them, they rightfully belong to me!"
"And I funded all of them, so I own them too!" Hamsterviel yelled back. "You think your little experiments come cheap, Jumba? Of course not! I invested millions into you, expecting results! But it took you over six hundred plus experiments, and not once in two decades have I seen you succeed at anything truly catastrophic! It is clearly obvious to my oh-so-brilliant mind that you are nothing more than an incompetent idiot!"
Jumba looked down at Hamsterviel with a blank face. How dare he insult him like that! As the caped hamster continued to monologue, Jumba slowly backed away towards the centre of the lab, hoping Hamsterviel would not notice.
"I sold you out, so what? It's because I'm evil, ahahaha! You've become nothing more than a burden, so I decided that henceforth I will be taking matters into my own hands!"
"So you just sold me out to be getting Jumba out of way!"
"Not exactly, Jumba. I know that your experiments can be dehydrated into a tiny three-inch orb for transport. I also knew the Council would never suspect that, and hence they would not get all of your experiments."
A bead of sweat rolled down Jumba's face. That sneaky little... that was why he made the tip-off! He'd played right into Hamsterviel's paw!
Hamsterviel howled in laughter seeing Jumba's dawning realisation. "Yes, you are so very predictable, Jumba. You'd always dehydrated some of your experiments for storage. So I simply deduced that when you are gone, most of the experiments will be dehydrated and mine for the taking! And those experiments would have been mine if you were sitting in a cell right now." He took a step towards Jumba, taking a mock bow as if daring him to applaud his grandiose plan. "But as you can see, my plans have gone awry because you're here. So then, let's do this the easy way, shall we? Hand me the experiment container, and you shall be my personal servant once I rule the universe."
"Never," Jumba stared at Hamsterviel. "I would never let you control my experiments! They shall listen to me, and only me!"
"Fine then! We shall do this the hard way!"
"Threatening me?" Jumba rolled his eyes. "You don't even have a weapon."
"I am Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel! I do not need a mere weapon—"
"Sure," Jumba interrupted, "whatever you say, Hamsterwheel."
"It is Hamsterviel, HamsterVIEL! You of all people should know how to pronounce my name, Jumba!"
"Peh, whatever," Jumba took the chance to continue inching closer to the controls when Hamsterviel was screeching. Mispronouncing Hamsterviel's name was such a brilliant—and predictable—distraction for him. He just needed a little bit more…
"Besides, my friend, you are currently on bail. Bail laws means that you cannot have possession of firearms! Nyahahah! You're checkmated, Jumba! If you try to hurt me, you'll wind up in prison and this time you'll stay there! There's no way you can stop me from taking every last one of your experiments now," Hamsterviel broke out into a dizzy grin at the thought of so much power in his paws, "and with them, I will finally take over the United Galactic Federation! Every stinking last planet in the galaxy will all bow down to me, Dr. Jacques von..." he trailed off, finally noticing Jumba's hands curled around a lever. "Hey, what are you doing?!" he cried out.
Jumba thrust the level down. "Who said that I would be the one to be doing the hurting, Hamsterviel?"
Immediately after he pulled it, sirens blared throughout the lab as a white light from a ray zapped the glass container in the middle of the room. Smoke began to seep out from the container due to the intense reaction. Because of his tiny size, Hamsterviel was caught in most of it, smoke inhalation disorientating him. "Pack-ack!" he coughed, swinging his arms wildly in an attempt to breathe. That stupid Jumba had tricked him! As the smoke started to clear, he began to look for Jumba at the middle of the room. Crawling to the middle, he began to try to take back control of the situation. "Jumba, you little runt! I have a good mind to..." he stopped speaking and gasped upon seeing that he and Jumba were no longer the only two in the room.
"Behold!" Jumba gestured to the curled up blue sphere that was newly formed in the glass. He grinned with sheer delight upon seeing Hamsterviel's livid face.
"My greatest creation, experiment six-two-six, has been activated!"
For want of a nail indeed.
I know Jumba may seem a little OOC here, but I feel it's justified. After all, he hasn't changed yet at this point in time. And he did create all those experiments to wreak havoc. He just never had the chance to ask them to do so in canon.
Just for reference, Experiment 110 is Squeak, 199 is Nosy, 234 is Shush, 258 is Sample, 604 is Houdini, and 613 is Yaarp. Even though you probably already knew all that, I'm just listing this down for those who only remember the experiment names and not their numbers.
Yes, some of Jumba's other experiments will play a factor in this story, rejoice! Even though this is a Canon-divergent AU fic, one thing I can't bring myself to change is any of the experiment names. Those names are part of those characters and they will stay, dammit! For example, if Experiment 613 reappears later on—not saying he will—his name when they name him will stay Yaarp. Not to worry, I will find some alternate way to make sure the experiments wind up with their canon name, as long as the explanation doesn't end up being too silly.
Chapter 5: A Planet Called Eaa-rth
Chapter 5: A Planet Called Eaa-rth
"You're being too late, Hamsterviel!" Jumba hovered around the newly created experiment protectively. "With experiment six-two-six by my side, entire galaxy belongs to me!" Jumba boasted. Hamsterviel could only glare in response as he realised that his original plan was slowly being foiled. "Just look at the little thing..." As Jumba spoke, 626 slowly begun to uncurl from its ball form, revealing his four limbs, antennas, and back spikes.
"What?!" Jumba exclaimed, taking a closer look at 626. "But you are not looking threatening? You look... so cute and fluffy! Oh, where did I go wrong?" 626 merely blinked in response to Jumba's lament. Seeing 626's confusion, Jumba continued explaining, "I do not understand, you were supposed to be evil..."
As if in response to Jumba's comment, the "cute" experiment immediately snarled, attacking the glass base it was in furiously, completely negating any previous thoughts of its possible adorableness.
"Ah, that's more like it!" he sighed in relief, dusting off his lab coat. "Now you are being destructive little monster. I am your creator, Jumba. And you," Jumba pointed at 626, "are experiment six-two-six, my ultimate creation!"
"So that is your ultimate creation?" Hamsterviel cut in, "Your oh-so-little masterpiece?"
Jumba whirled around. He had almost forgotten about Hamsterviel in his joy of activating six-two-six. Wasn't it obvious to Hamsterviel? Experiment six-two-six was his life's work! What right did that gerbil have to taunt his greatest creation?
"Yes," he answered with a calm voice, "he is bulletproof, fireproof, and can think faster than supercomputer! He has infrared vision and can move objects up to three thousand times his size! His only instinct — to destroy everything!"
"Oh really? I wonder, what is more important to you, Jumba? Your experiment six-two-six?" he gestured to Jumba and 626, "or..." Without warning, Hamsterviel made a break for it, scampering to Jumba's desk and grabbing the grey spherical container there.
"...your other six hundred and twenty five experiments!"
Jumba cursed. He'd completely forgotten he left the experiment container behind at his desk when he backed away to activate 626. "Hand them back to me!"
"Never!" Hamsterviel laughed, rolling the experiment container on the floor to aid his escape. "All your experiments are mine!" he declared, running for the exit as fast as he could. Which, considering he was the size of a hamster, wasn't that fast at all.
"Six-two-six, this is being your first mission!" Jumba reached for the release button on 626's capsule, "Be getting back that container from former gerbil partner!" The moment the glass container opened to unleash the experiment, 626 was already on his feet, hot on Hamsterviel's trail.
"And next time I will be remembering to make container cube-shaped, not ball-shaped. That way annoying gerbil cannot roll experiment container and has to lug it," Jumba mentally jotted down as he chased after the two.
Meanwhile, Hamsterviel continued to run out of Jumba's lab and out onto the open field of the asteroid. It was only then when he stopped his sprint and panted, out of breath. "Jumba," he wheezed, "why does your stupid lab have to be so huge? Make it hamster sized next time! And also," he suddenly stared at where he had exited the lab from, "when was there this huge twenty-foot size hole? Why didn't I notice it before?"
"Meega container! Miki miki!"
"Huh? Who was that?" Hamsterviel turned around from the unfamiliar voice only to see 626 gaining on him. "Oh, give me a break, you oh-so-annoying experiment!"
"Naga!" 626 only started running faster in response.
Hamsterviel simply grimaced and broke out into a trot up the slope onto his silver ship. He scrambled to his cockpit, taking five seconds to take in deep breaths due to his exhaustion. Placing the experiment container in the one of the pilot seats, he finally relaxed. "Nyahahah! Planet Turo will be all mine!" Hamsterviel laughed in victory, imagining the legions of experiments by his side that would soon be attacking the purple planet. "Computer, start hyperdrive and prepare for take off!"
"Hyperdrive system booting. Select destination."
"Set coordinates for Planet Tu—arghh!" Hamsterviel's order was cut short as 626 grabbed him by the cape.
Chuckling like a child who had been handed candy, 626 began to spin in place like a top while still holding on to Hamsterviel's cape, resulting in the poor hamster being swung around in circles. "Stop, you uncultured swine! Your stupid spinning is making me oh-so-very dizzy!" Hamsterviel glared as best as he could against 626, who appeared like a blue blur to him because of all the spinning. "Let me go!" he ordered.
"Okay," 626 responded with a savage grin.
"Well, that was easy..." Hamsterviel stopped talking, only realising his mistake once he saw 626's face light up. "No, no, no!" he shouted, "Slow down before you—" 626 ignored him, letting go of him mid-arc. The built up inertia led to the experiment throwing a screaming Hamsterviel straight into the ship controls. A large dent and a cry of pain was the end result of the impact when he bashed into it head-first.
"Ow..." Hamsterviel groaned, holding his head. A splitting headache caused him to miss the announcement from the computer system caused by his mini-flight across the cockpit.
"Hyperdrive coordinate system switched from automatic to manual."
However, the announcement was heard by 626, who had an evil idea begin to formulate in his head. He had to resist grinning just thinking about it, because if Hamsterviel was easy to bait, the stupid hamster was going to find his ship in shambles…
"Six-two-six!" Jumba barged into the ship's cockpit room, interrupting his thoughts. "Am being glad to see you succeeded!"
"Jumba..." Hamsterviel started. Recovering from his migraine, he shakily stood up, dusting himself off. It was only then when he noticed a gaping hole in his cape. "No!" he screamed, "I just had my cape dry cleaned! It was my favourite…" Turning to the experiment, he snarled, "Now it is personal, six-two-six! No one ruins my cape!"
626 simply stuck his tongue out, provoking Hamsterviel with his carefree attitude.
"You'll pay for that, you overgrown furball!" he shrieked, rushing towards 626. The experiment jumped to dodge, landing on the control panel. Hamsterviel followed suit, climbing onto the pilot's seat and clearing a jump from there to the controls just by sheer adrenaline.
"You thought that jumping up onto the ship controls could stop me just because I am tiny and short?" Hamsterviel said, "Well, you are wrong!" Hamsterviel tried to punch 626, but 626 jumped clear, anticipating the move, causing Hamsterviel to fall flat onto a button.
He got back up, hearing 626's cackle. "You stupid experiment!" he yelled, no longer thinking straight. As Hamsterviel kept trying to hit 626, the blue experiment kept dodging at the last second, leading to him falling onto more buttons, levels and control sticks on the ship's steering system.
"Grrrr... stand still so I can hit you!" he shouted, continuing to accidentally hitting buttons on the control panel as he kept missing. "Stop laughing at me, you little—"
"Command accepted," the ship's computer suddenly spoke, causing Hamsterviel to freeze. Why is the computer talking? What oh-so-stupid command?
"Locking coordinates to selected destination," the computer's normally calm voice then increased in tempo as it detected an anomaly, "Warning — navigation systems detect that selected coordinates will result in imminent crash. Do you wish to abort?"
"Wait, what?" Hamsterviel hesitated, unable to comprehend what the ship was telling him. He hadn't even realised that his ship's hyperdrive had locked onto a planet in his tussle with 626. When had he activated anything? What coordinates? Wasn't it set to Turo? What blooming crash?!
He gasped with horror when the answer dawned on him. The fight with 626! They had been fighting on top of the ship's controls! He must have...
Unfortunately for Hamsterviel, the experiment next to him had planned for this well in advance and immediately gave a response to the computer.
"Naga! Nala kweesta!"
Jumba, who had stayed back from the fight, asked, "Six-two-six, what did you just do?" He got his answer once the ship's computer system gave a grim reply.
"Warning ignored. Hyperdrive system has been engaged. Liftoff in T minus ten seconds."
"What?!" both Jumba and Hamsterviel yelled simultaneously.
"No... you tricked me into crashing my very own ship! Abort! Abort, you stupid little unresponsive computer!" Hamsterviel screamed, pressing buttons furiously. "Abort!"
"It is no use," Jumba stated matter-of-factly. Seeing Hamsterviel's clueless look, he questioned him, "Do you know nothing about astronautics?"
"I did not take that module in Evil Genius University, it was an optional elective! Too boring, not enough explosions and destruction, and to top it all off it would not have helped my GPA!" he replied with a huff.
"Well then, let me explain. When hyperdrive system begins countdown, it is impossible to be aborting sequence. The moment six-two-six started hyperdrive, this ship was doomed to explode in a fiery explosion when it hit its target!"
"What?!" Hamsterviel shouted. "Run! RUN!" Primal fear overtook him as he immediately forgot about the scuffle with 626 and ran screaming towards the ship's exit. Seeing Hamsterviel panic just made 626 howl in laughter, enjoying the countdown that would soon mark the doom of the hamster's multi-million spaceship.
"This is not being funny, six-two-six!" Jumba chided. "You may be indestructible, but we aren't! We must be getting out of here now!"
Hamsterviel was about to rush out of his ship when he suddenly stopped short of the exit. Slapping his forehead, he only now realised that he had forgotten something important.
The experiment container.
In his haste to leave, he had left the experiment container in the pilot seat. Greed and fear hung in the balance as Hamsterviel contemplated whether to risk his life to retrieve Jumba's experiments or to get off the doomed ship and let everything—including the experiments—end up being destroyed in the resulting crash on some distant planet or asteroid.
Hamsterviel's face scrunched up. No. It can't end like this. Victory snactched from his paws by that stupid experiment six-two-six. If everything was gone, two decades of planning and millions of dollars would be down the drain. He would be back to square one! "No! Those experiments are mine!" he declared, recklessly running back into the ship.
Five seconds. Five seconds was more than enough time to snatch back what was rightfully his and get off the wretched death trap. Running back into the cockpit, he jumped straight for Jumba, who had just picked up the experiment container.
"Jumba!" he yelled with fury. "Give that to me!"
"Hamsterviel?!" Jumba dropped the container in shock, not expecting his former colleague to actually run back.
Hamsterviel's surprise ended up backfiring for them both. He had been aiming for the container, but since Jumba had dropped it, he missed and ended up jumping straight into Jumba. The force of Hamsterviel's jump led to Jumba losing his balance and the both of them falling over backwards.
Jumba and Hamsterviel both scrambled to their feets, taking precious time trying to get off the floor, and jumped for the fallen container. The two ended up grabbing the container at the same time, resulting in a tussle-of-war. Jumba struggled to maintain a grip, his huge palms unable to latch on because of the container's spherical shape. "Be letting go of experiment container, you gerbil!"
"It is hamster, not gerbil!" Hamsterviel interjected. "HAMSTER!"
"Six-two-six, attack him!" It was only then that Jumba noticed that 626 hadn't left the ship's controls throughout the entire countdown. "What are you doing, six-two-six? Why are you still on the controls? Be getting off the ship!"
"Naga way! Meega want see big boom boom! Ahahaha!"
Distracted by 626, Jumba failed to notice Hamsterviel throwing a sucker punch. "It's mine, Jumba! Give to to me!" The undercut caused Jumba to squeeze too hard on the spherical surface of the container, resulting in him losing all grip. It then flew out of Jumba's grasp and arced across the room, landing right next to 626.
"One," the computer voice spoke with finality, not so subtly reminding the ship's passengers of the impending time limit.
Everyone worth their salt knows that only the last second matters in a countdown. That final second is the critical point, where one could either get away from a terrible situation just in the nick of time, or have their fates sealed. The hero would usually get away from certain death this way, just for dramatic effect, surviving a dastardly situation to fight another day.
Of course, this logic only applies to heroes. Villains almost never made the time limit at the last second, usually realising too late that perhaps the last second of a self-destruct sequence should be spent running for their lives instead of gloating.
It was hence fitting that of the three morally ambiguous super geniuses on the ship, the only one spending the last second somewhat wisely was 626, who was calibrating the controls in preparation of wanting to be a part of the huge crater that would be left when the ship crashed.
The other two scientists simply stopped fighting in shock, both realising that in their battle for the experiment container they had absolutely forgotten about the takeoff. They hence wasted their final second and last chance to get away staring at the computer.
"Uh-oh," was all Jumba and Hamsterviel could say. Before they knew it, the entire ship took off and hurtled into the vastness of outer space, blasting off with its three inhabitants to areas unknown.
"Where is he?! We can't hide Jumba's escape from the press forever, not when this is such a high-profile case," the Grand Councilwoman sneered, "thanks to his little experiment. I want an immediate capture now!"
Everyone in the control room flinched at her outburst. The Galactic Armada officers were all able to tell that their superior was not pleased. And their paranoia was well founded, because the Grand Councilwoman was indeed not pleased. Immediately after she had woken up, she had been swamped by the media, as she had predicted. As per the norm, some Council ambassador had leaked some confidential data, and now the media furiously wanted to know more about that stupid Jumba. She refused to say a word to them, having learnt from previous experiences what one sentence out of context can cause when quoted on intergalactic news.
Then to make matters worse, she was informed that the lone bug they had planted at Jumba's lab was cut off with static. When she sent guards to investigate, they found nothing there. Jumba, who the Federation driver swore had been dropped off at the lab when they questioned him, had completely vanished from the asteroid he was supposed to be at. Jumba had completely bailed on them. He'd somehow managed to find some ship of his own and completely gave them the slip.
"Me blasting six-two-five's sandwich yesterday should have been a sign that we should have incarcerated that idiot scientist! But no, those Council members didn't listen to me! Now look what happened!"
"There goes Gantu again," the Grand Councilwoman sighed. She had approved the bail since she had no choice, but Jumba escaping was something she had never anticipated. In fact, it completely baffled her. Why on Turo would Jumba just ditch bail the first chance he had? He'd made a perfect artificial lifeform and yet the scientist was willing to throw him away, just like that?
"Ma'am!" an Armada member started, "We just detected an unauthorised hyperspace travel! We think it might be Jumba!"
"That goes without saying," the Grand Councilwoman replied, "It's highly unlikely to be a coincidence."
"Wait, stand corrected! The ship's signature is Dr. Hamsterviel's!"
"Hamsterviel?" Her key witness? "Trace the flight path!" the Grand Councilwoman ordered.
"Calculating trajectory now. The hyperdrive was started on…" the Armada member started to fidget with her uniform, knowing her boss would not like what she was about to say, "Galaxy Defence Industries."
"What?!" Gantu shouted, turning to the officer. "Say that again!"
"To be more specific," she started to sweat, seeing herself becoming the centre of attention, "Hamsterviel's ship entered hyperdrive from the offsite asteroid lab of Galaxy Defence Industries..."
"...where we dropped off Jumba." the Grand Councilwoman finished. Of course. By sheer luck Jumba must have found out about Hamsterviel and kidnapped him. Her one witness to taking Jumba down, gone. "Where is the ship now?!" she questioned.
"His ship will be exiting hyperspace in fourteen hours, seventeen minutes. Exit location is identified as part of the Local Group, in quadrant 17, Section 005, Area 51 — a planet called Eaa-rth."
"Earth…" she repeated. This planet sounded familiar to her. "Is it a member of the Galactic Federation?"
"Then I want an expert on this planet here, now!" At her command, several Armada crew members rushed out in search of one. "We need to get Jumba arrested and Hamsterviel back. That is our top priority! Jumba must not have Hamsterviel! Since he has escaped from our jurisdiction, breaking the terms of the bail, I hereby give full approval to get Jumba by any means necessary."
"On what charges, ma'am?" an Armada guard asked.
"Jumping bail and suspected kidnapping."
"Not to worry, Grand Councilwoman," Gantu reassured her, saluting. "I will send my Galactic Armada after him! One thousand police cruiser ships shall chase that escaped convict to Earth! He'll never escape!"
"Do not be hasty. We'll be at least eight hours behind, even if we chase him directly," she mused. "Use that time to think of a plan. I highly doubt he'll stay there forever."
"That's long enough! That pitiful scientist won't stand a chance once I blast the planet to bits to pry him out—"
"Hold it!" yelled a green three-legged alien, dashing into the room, "Hold everything! There will be no blasting and no armada! Earth is a protected wildlife reserve!"
Gantu's eyes narrowed. How dare this idiot interrupt him! "And who might you be?"
"Uhhh…" he started to squirm seeing the Captain of the Galactic Armada stare him down, but managed to regain his composure. "Agent Pleakley, at your service."
The Grand Councilwoman tilted her head at the name, "I take you're the expert on the planet."
"Ah-huh! I know everything this is to know about Earth! Studied it all when I was in college! It's fascinating…" Pleakley spoke of the planet adoringly.
Gantu grit his teeth, "Answer me, then. Why can't I send my Galactic Armada there?"
Pleakley folded his arms, lecturing him, "Crazy-head! You can't do that because the mosquito population is an endangered species!"
"What?" Gantu stared down at Pleakley in disbelief. Was this week 'Let's say something unbelievable to mess with Gantu week'? First Hamsterviel with the tip-off, then Jumba and 625 at the trial, and now this?
"Uh-huh! You heard me! The mosquito population! It is highly endangered and delicate! The slightest disturbance to its climate will lead to massive eco-damage and possible extinction!" Pleakley said, with his voice getting louder and louder with every word until it was almost a shriek.
"This has got to be a joke!" Gantu turned for confirmation, "Grand Councilwoman?"
"Unfortunately Gantu, he is right. That spiel about the mosquitoes jogged my memory. I remember Earth now. I was there once, at Roswell. That was when we agreed to put the planet under the protection status."
"So..." Gantu tried to coax the Grand Councilwoman to elaborate further.
"Unfortunately," she sighed, "Pleakley is right. We cannot use a flashy all-out capture approach. The mosquito's prey are a primitive species known as humans, who unfortunately are nowhere near intelligent enough to comprehend extraterrestrial life. Therefore, we need to get Jumba without any attention."
"That's impossible, ma'am!" Gantu retorted, "First up, the stupid intergalactic press! They'll follow my Armada to Earth once they know that Jumba's there. There's no way to shake them off!"
"Which is precisely why I'm taking you off the mission, Captain Gantu."
"You said it yourself. The press may not currently know Jumba has escaped our custody, but they will know it immediately if you send a fleet to Earth. Hence, I have decided on a quiet capture to avoid detection. And since I know your track record with quiet captures, I have decided to take you off the case."
"But you can't! I'm the only one qualified for this!" Gantu spluttered, trying to get the Grand Councilwoman to reconsider as Pleakley looked on with mild amusement. "A quiet capture would require insider knowledge of Jumba that we do not possess! We need a fleet capture to succeed—"
"Wait!" she interrupted with a sharp tone. "Repeat what you just said."
"We need a fleet capture."
"I'm the only one qualified for this mission."
"A quiet capture would require insider knowledge of Jumba that we do not have!"
"Insider knowledge..." she mulled over the words. Insider knowledge! Her mood instantly changed. Things were finally turning around. The Grand Councilwoman turned to face Gantu again. "Thanks for reminding me, Captain. We do possess said knowledge. You are dismissed. As for you, Agent Pleakley, accompany me to the holding cell bay."
As she walked away from the whining Armada Captain, she finally allowed herself a smile. For the first time for today, things were looking up. She could recover this situation. Taking out a pass key, she walked right into the prisoner bay on Planet Turo, with Pleakley following close behind.
Very close behind, actually. Pleakley was cowering in fear of the prisoners in the cells and literally grabbing onto her black cape. "That alien has no sense of personal space," she thought.
"Y-y-yes?" he stammered, letting go of her cape. The stress of being addressed by the Grand Councilwoman directly in front of all these criminals was getting to him.
"You are aware that the reason the Council summoned you is because we require an Earth expert for the Dr. Jumba Jookiba case, right? So, what do you know about the case?"
"Well," he began, "all I know is that he was arrested for something ultra-dangerous and illegal!"
She had to restrain herself from rolling her eyes. This agent knew nothing about the case!
Stopping outside a specific cell, she used her pass key to unlock the door. As the barricade rose up, she led Pleakley inside. "We will brief you later, Agent Pleakley. Just know that what you are about to see in this prison cell is top secret. Feast your eyes-sorry, eye"—she hastily corrected upon noticing Pleakley's species only has one—"on this!"
"What is that thing?!" Pleakley cried out, pointing at the prisoner in the cell. "It looks like a monster," he whispered to the Grand Councilwoman.
625's ears twitched. "Hey, I can hear you, ya know?" the experiment said, making Pleakley cover his mouth.
"That is experiment six-two-five, Dr. Jumba's illegal genetic experiment."
"Oh yeah, sure, six-two-five is my name," he said sarcastically, "Thought you all remembered that from yesterday. What, is your memory that bad?" he chuckled at his verbal jab.
"Well, I must apologise then. Agent Pleakley here was not here yesterday, so I decided to introduce you to him," the Grand Councilwoman replied calmly. She resolved that she would not get angry at 625. She had seen Gantu fall for his taunts over and over again, and she refused to do the same. She might have lost control yesterday, but this time would be a different story. She wanted that cocky experiment to learn that she wouldn't fall for his baits.
And it worked too, as 625's smile turned to a tired frown. "Aw, you're no fun," 625 muttered, disappointed. "Blubby is much better to insult. So, lady, why are you really here? I doubt it's to congratulate me for that little cooking show I put on."
"I'm here to strike a bargain with you."
"A bargain?" He raised his eyebrows, not exactly trusting the one who had locked him up in the first place to offer a deal. "So what kind of bargain you got on your mind, huh? Is this some sort of a trick?"
The tiniest smile crept onto the Grand Councilwoman's face when she saw 625 getting on edge. Ironic that for someone as snarky as him, she thought, 625 really doesn't like the tables to be turned back onto him! "Despite what you might think," she began, "as a whole, the Galactic Council—besides Gantu—does not hate you."
625 visibly relaxed. "Well, uh, I'm flattered... thanks."
"What we really want is to see your creator behind bars. You, on the other hand, are insignificant to this."
"And so?" 625 eyed her warily. He did not like the way this conversation was going. "If I'm so insignificant, then why did ya even bother to visit me in my cell?"
"The moment Jumba flew the coop, he forfeited his bond, aka you, to us. You now belong to us, six-two-five. We theoretically can lock you up for the rest of your life," she locked eyes with him, "if you choose not to comply."
625 broke eye contact, sagging down onto his prison bed. The experiment had no quirky response for once, knowing when he was beat.
"However," she paused for effect seeing 625 perk up at that word, "as I said, Jumba is what we want. Not you. Therefore, I am willing to trade your freedom... for his capture."
There was silence for a few seconds after she finished her sentence. Silence which ironically ended up being broken not by 625. "Wait!" Pleakley interfered, jumping into the conversation, "You can't do that! He's a criminal—"
"You stay out of this!" the Grand Councilwoman glared back at him. "This is between me and him!"
"So let me get this straight, you want me"—625 pointed at himself—"to turn on my very own creator?"
"That's exactly right," she confirmed, "We are currently planning a recovery mission to arrest Dr. Jumba. He has escaped to a planet called Earth, which is rather unfortunate for us since we are now forced to resort to a quiet capture. And for that to succeed, we require insider knowledge on Jumba himself." She leaned forward towards him, her lips etched into a smile, "If you agree to join us, we will waive your charges of being an illegal genetic experiment. You shall be free to go after assisting in Jumba's arrest."
"So that's why you need me," 625 stated plainly. The look on his face was one of annoyance. Even Pleakley could tell that he really despised the dilemma he was in. He had to choose either between staying mum and potentially being locked up forever, or betraying his creator and walking free.
He tilted his head, a frown starting to appear on his lips. "So what happens if I choose to say no?"
"Then you'll stay here, six-two-five. Since you are a key aspect of the trial, we cannot release you until the trial is complete. If we can't catch Jumba, then the trial will remain adjourned until we catch him... if ever."
625 appeared shocked as he absorbed the information, before he put up a poker face. "I see…" he mumbled, turning to look at the wall instead of his captors.
"You understand, don't you? It is in our mutual benefit that you accept this offer. You need me to get out of prison, and I need you for the information to bring down Jumba. It's an offer you cannot refuse," she gave a confident smile, "and we both come out winners in this." Seeing that she was getting through to 625, she reached her arm out towards his paw, "So, what do you say? Do we have ourselves a deal, experiment six-two-five?" she said softly.
625 put his hands on his head, grimacing upon realising that he was cornered. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally turned to the Grand Councilwoman and nodded his head to give his confirmation.
"Very good," she praised, "You are smart indeed, knowing when to switch sides when the tides are turning. Follow me to the control room. You shall be released from this cell immediately. I will give you further instructions when you head to Earth—"
The last sentence immediately drove Pleakley into a frenzy. "You're going to let a dangerous illegal genetic experiment loose on an innocent planet?" He waved his arms in panic. "You can't! These people are unaware of extraterrestrials! They're virtually defenceless against us! That loony experiment could lead to planet-wide chaos if he isn't careful!"
"Relax, Agent Pleakley. I have a fallback for the planet's inhabitants, you can be sure of that. There will be no panic."
"Well, there's still one problem! Who's going to control that little monster?" he said worriedly, pointing at 625.
"Hey!" the experiment gave a mock frown, "You're just as judgemental as Blubby!"
The Grand Councilwoman found herself agreeing with 625. He may be a sarcastic jerk, but the Council found themselves liking him when they realised he was harmless. She herself was beginning to prefer him to Pleakley. He at least knew when to keep his mouth shut, unlike Pleakley, whose prodding was starting to get her really irritated. Coughing, she replied, "All he does is make sandwiches, he's virtually harmless."
"Well, I don't trust him!" Pleakley folded his arms in defiance.
Realising he could play on Pleakley's paranoia, 625 began to get a glimmer in his eyes. "Well, if you're so scared, why don't you get a nanny to accompany baby-waby six-two-five," he said in a childish voice, ending it off by sucking his thumb like a pacifier.
"Fine, I will! I think that someone should accompany this menace to make sure he doesn't do anything terrible on Earth, ma'am!"
The Grand Councilwoman was just about to retort about what a waste of manpower that would be when she noticed a chirpy 625 winking at her. Realising what he was driving at, she let out a tiny chuckle. This was indeed a good idea. "Very well then, he does need an escort. Hence, you will accompany him, Agent Pleakley," she said, turning to walk out of the cell so as to not betray her laughter.
"Oh, very good, ma'am, I mean...wait, what? That's a joke right?" he laughed nervously. The realisation only hit Pleakley like a ton of bricks when he heard 625 hollering in laughter behind him. "You're not joking?!"
"So, you're Pleakley, huh?" 625 walked towards him. "Guess we're stuck together now! And now that we're working together, I would just like to ask one question…"
Pleakley found himself backing away. "What?"
"Do you like sandwiches?"
"No, I hate 'em! Get away from me! Somebody help me!"
"They're both imbeciles, each in their own way," the Grand Councilwoman commented from outside the cell. She ignored the commotion and started to stroll out of the prison area and back to her office. "Leaving Experiment 625 behind as collateral was your mistake, Jumba," the Grand Councilwoman muttered to herself, "Because now, he will be your downfall!"
She had no idea how right she was. 625 would be the evil genius Jumba's downfall, just not in the way she had anticipated.
Little did she, nor anyone else, know just how much this decision would change history. If the Grand Councilwoman had not gambled again like she had with Jumba the previous day, then perhaps things might have been different. But as it stands, thanks to her decision to send in 625 and Pleakley instead of the Galactic Armada, the fate of one tiny little town on the island of Kauai would be altered forever.
Because of this, what should have been a mere, insignificant speck in the far reaches of the galaxy would end up becoming a spectator in one of the greatest schemes of revenge ever recorded in Galactic Federation history.
Poor Earth isn't going to be ready for all this nonsense.
That wraps up the introductory prologue arc! For those sick of outer space alien shenanigans, you'll be pleased to know that next time there will be Hawaii. And Lilo. Can't forget Lilo.
Chapter 6: Sandwich Day
Chapter 6: Sandwich Day
"Today is sandwich day."
Moses raised his eyebrows, dumbfounded by the random response he was given. What does sandwich day have anything to do with why Lilo was soaking wet and late for his hula class?
Seeing that she needed to further elaborate, Lilo took in a deep breath. "Every Thursday," she continued, "I give Pudge the fish a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and supper."
Moses tilted his head, exasperated. "Pudge is a fish…?" He must have missed Lilo mentioning that fact somewhere along the way. But were fish even able to eat sandwiches?
"But for today, we were out of peanut butter after breakfast!" Lilo whined, "And I completely forgot about it until supper time. So I asked my sister what to give Pudge for supper and she said a tuna sandwich. I can't give Pudge tuna!" Her voice lowered to almost a whisper as she asked the next question, "Do you know what tuna is?"
Moses raised his eyebrows, unsure of what Lilo was driving at via her rambling, "Fish?"
"It's FISH! I can't feed Pudge fish! He's a fish! I'll be an abomination if I gave him tuna!" she shouted. "I was late because I had to run down to the store to get peanut butter so I can feed Pudge because all we had was stinking tuna!"
"Lilo! Lilo!" Moses raised his voice to maintain his authority over the shrieking girl. If this was Lilo's made up excuse for being late to his class, it was an extremely well-rehearsed one. "Why is this so important?" he asked.
"Pudge controls the weather."
Moses' jaw almost fell. He instinctively looked around to see the other girls' reactions. Teresa looked deep in thought, questioning the logic of the statement. Elena and Yuki simply shrugged at each other due to the sheer absurdity of what they'd just heard. And Mertle? She just stared at Lilo and muttered her thoughts under her breath.
Unfortunately, of all the reactions, that was the one that Lilo could easily notice. Hearing that remark caused the girl to break into a run and tackle Mertle to the ground in anger. She raised her fist up to Mertle's face, ready to give the bespectacled girl what she deserved for all the torment Mertle had put her through.
"Ahhhhh!" Besides Mertle, the other three girls were also screaming in fear, running around the stage. As she was about to punch her fist down, she found herself locking eyes with Mertle. Looking straight into Mertle and finding the usual sass in her face replaced with terror caused Lilo to hesitate.
The hesitation was just long enough for Moses to take charge. Lilo felt her outstretched arm being grabbed harshly by Moses. As Moses pulled her off of Mertle, he raised his voice to keep order. "Girls, girls, girls! Everybody calm down!" The four girls, including the recovered Mertle, huddled behind Moses, trying to keep away from Lilo.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Lilo cried out, unaware that she had lost control of herself until Moses stepped in. "I won't do it again!" she said, backing away.
Moses sighed and spoke softly, "I'll have to cut short tonight's class, girls." He then turned to Lilo, "Maybe we should call your sister…"
Lilo gasped. "No, I'll be good! I wanna dance! I practiced for tonight's hula… I practiced…"
"Lilo…", Moses started, trying to phrase his sentence in a way the six year old would understand, "you know this is an important night. It was our first hula night class. And I hate to say this, but what you did soured the overall experience."
Lilo looked down in shame. "I know, but I…" she couldn't finish her sentence, knowing Moses was right. She literally couldn't find the words to say to her teacher with a straight face.
Seeing Lilo at a loss for words, Moses spoke up. "Lilo, what you did was unacceptable. First off, the peanut butter story, that's no excuse for tardiness."
"But I'm telling the truth!" Her face turned desperate, "I really did feed Pudge a peanut butter sandwich! You believe me, don't you?"
Moses grimaced at her question, "Yes, I believe you." He bit his tongue at the white lie, but to state the truth would only drive Lilo past the breaking point into despair. "Still, even if it's true, that was no excuse to hit Mertle."
"I know…" she said, avoiding eye contact. Lilo knew that if she looked directly at Moses, she would be able to see Mertle, who would definitely be gloating at seeing her arch-rival get reprimanded.
That gave the girl an idea. Lilo might currently be drowning in punishment, but she won't go under without taking someone down with her. "But Mertle called me crazy…" she mumbled, hoping to at least pin some of the blame on Mertle.
"Mertle," Moses turned around to look at Mertle.
"What?" Mertle looked incredulous at the accusation. "Weird-lo really is crazy! She nearly punched me!"
"Mertle, I would not tolerate fighting in my class. It is not right. The five of you are my students, and I'll rather you all get along with each other." Seeing Mertle's horrified face, Moses quickly changed the subject before the girl could object. "And as for you, Lilo, you cannot be selfish. Trying to inflict physical harm on Mertle, even if you don't like her, is unacceptable. Did you even consider how she feels?"
"No..." she mumbled. She really didn't want to hear about this now.
"Anyway, your actions tonight hurt all of us. Not just Mertle."
"What? But I didn't touch Elena, Teresa and Yuki!"
"I didn't mean hurt as in physical hurt. 'Hurt' can hurt in other ways." He spoke in a childish tell-tale manner, hoping she'd get the message. "Lilo, you were late today. Class was almost over when you came. Do you know what this means for all of us?"
Unaware of what Moses was getting at, Lilo shook her head.
"It means you did not learn what I taught everyone today. By coming late, you will be behind on practice and I will have to repeat what I taught everyone else the next lesson. And as a small group, I cannot leave anyone behind until all of you master the basics. Your tardiness will end up holding back the rest of us."
Lilo looked down, guilty. She had never thought of it that way. All she had wanted to do was make sure Pudge was fed so that he didn't cause a rainstorm…
"I want you to think about what you've done, Lilo." Standing up, he announced the dismissal of the hula class. "Come back in a few days for the next class. Have a safe trip home, kids!"
Lilo watched as Mertle and her friends ran into the changing room, eager to head back home for a good night's sleep. She followed suit, dragging her feet behind them.
As she changed out of her hula attire, she couldn't help but think about Moses' words. In particular, one sentence he had said. "I cannot leave anyone behind until all of you master the basics."
What Moses had said earlier reminded her so much of what her father used to say to her.
"Ohana means family, and family means that nobody gets left behind or forgotten," she said out loud to herself. Her face turned firm as she knew what she had to do. Hastily putting on her favourite red mu'umu'u, she rushed back out to the stage area of the school.
"Mertle!" Lilo looked around for the girl in question. "Mertle?" Unfortunately for her, there was no one around but Moses. They'd all changed faster than her and had disappeared.
"Where did Mertle go?" she asked Moses.
"Oh, she left about a minute ago."
"Thanks," she said before walking briskly out of the hula school, hoping to catch up with her. Luckily for her, she managed to spot Mertle and her friends within a few seconds. They were walking at a slow pace and she could easily reach them if she ran. Silently increasing her pace, she slowly caught up to them. When she was within five feet from them, she announced her presence. "Mertle?"
"Ahhhh!" Mertle shrieked, before recognising Lilo's voice and calming down. She signalled her friends and the four of them turned around to face Lilo. "Oh, it's Weird-lo," Mertle said as she flipped her hair, "Why did you follow me? What do you want?"
"I'm…" Lilo started to hesitate, scratching her ear upon hearing Mertle's agitated tone. "I'm sorry," Lilo spat out her apology as quickly as possible, as though the words were poison.
"Excuse me?" Mertle said, mild surprise in her eyes. "Say that again?"
"What Moses said back in class was right. I'm sorry for almost punching you, Mertle," Lilo swallowed her pride and apologised in a sincere tone.
"Pehhh! No way you're really sorry," Mertle raised her eyebrows.
"I really am! I just want to make amends! So that—"
"So that we all can be friends?" she sneered, finishing Lilo's sentence. "Heh, you're just saying all of this nice stuff because you want to be my friend!"
"Mertle," Lilo cringed at Mertle's unkind words, and yet in a way, expected them. "Ohana means family," she tried again from a different angle.
"What?" Mertle and her friends were confused by what Lilo had just said.
"Ohana!" Lilo brightly declared. "It's the spirit of family. If I accept you friends as my family, we can get along together in the future!" she spoke with naivety.
"Listen up, Weird-lo," Mertle said, starting to back away. The thought of being together and accepting Lilo honestly scared her more than Lilo hitting her back at the hula school. "You are weird, and you will never be my friend," she said, with added emphasis on every additional word.
"Yeahhhhh," Teresa, Elena and Yuki chorused in agreement from their vantage point behind Mertle.
At their universal rejection, Lilo turned away from the four girls to hide her disappointment. In a way, she had anticipated Mertle and her posse declining her offer, but that didn't stop her feelings from being hurt when it actually happened. She hung her head low, starting to walk away when Mertle's shriek suddenly caught her attention.
"Look up! Look up at the sky!"
Heeding Mertle's observation, Lilo looked up into the night sky, and up there was...
"A falling star!" she exclaimed, pointing at it.
"You mean a meteorite," Teresa corrected. Seeing her friends stare at her as if they wanted to call her a nerd, she hurriedly added, "I saw that term on TV."
As they talked, the foreign space object continued to hurtle down before it disappeared over the canopy of the forest to their right. Two seconds later, a loud bang accompanied by a tiny tremor rocked the earth.
"Cool!" Lilo exclaimed. "A real falling star! I wanna touch it and make a wish!" However, before Lilo could run to the crash site, a strong arm clasped her wrists.
"Oh no you don't, Lilo," Nani held a firm grip on her sister, "You are not going into the jungle to investigate a dangerous meteorite alone, at night, and unsupervised."
"Nani!" Lilo's eyes widened as large as saucers when she realised that her sister had overheard her plans. "Uh, I was joking…" she tried to recover, "When I said 'go into the forest', I really meant 'buy some shaved ice'!"
Nani's lips curled upwards into a tiny smile, tightening her grip on Lilo's wrist. "Nice try, Lilo."
"But I really want to go!" she pouted, begging her sister to change her mind. "It's a real falling star! Stuff like that don't happen every day!"
"No means no, Lilo!" Nani stood her ground. "It's dangerous out there!"
"How did you even find me?" Lilo whined.
"Moses called me to pick you up," Nani replied. "And I spotted you because you and your classmates were less than twenty feet away from the hula school," she added. "Come, let's go."
"Noooo! I wanna go!" Lilo struggled against Nani's grip.
Mertle and her friends just watched as Nani tried to drag away a squirming Lilo back home. She eventually resorted to cradle carrying her sister on her shoulder, with Lilo hollering as Nani walked back to their home, and in Lilo's point of view, further and further away from the falling star.
"Well…" Mertle began once the two were out of sight, "that was weird."
"Um, Mertle?" Teresa tugged at her friend's shoulder. "Should we explore the meteorite?"
"No way, Teresa!" she frowned. "Weird-lo wanted to look for it, and that means that exploring it is uncool!"
"Yeahhh!" Elena and Yuki backed up their leader's opinion.
"B-but…" Teresa stammered, "I thought you said Lilo was the weird one? Just because she got carried away by her sister doesn't mean that exploring the meteorite is weird!"
"Well, I think that anything Weird-lo wants to do is weird! After all, she got carried home on her sister's shoulders. I thought only babies rode on shoulders!" Mertle smirked. She had to remember this incident so that she could make fun of Weird-lo the next time they met. "Let's go, girls. How about we walk home on our feet, like normal people?"
Teresa held back, her gaze lingering on the site the meteorite had crashed. Grey smoke had started to rise out of the forest, giving her a path to follow right to the impact zone. She'd always liked science, and this was her chance to finally touch a real-life meteorite! "Mertle's not going to like this. Oh, and Mom's gonna kill me…" she thought, "but it's like Lilo said, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. If I miss this opportunity, I might be old and wrinkly before the next meteorite lands near Kokaua Town."
"Actually, I just realised that I left my purse back at the school," she lied. "You guys go yourselves!"
"Oh, really?" Mertle said. "Well, bye!"
"Take care, Teresa!"
"See you tomorrow!"
"Thanks!" Teresa replied as her three friends walked away, chattering about other topics. She walked in the opposite direction, back to the hula school, until she was certain they were gone. To play it safe, she waited an additional few minutes before making a U-turn back to where they were earlier, except this time she was completely alone.
At least this way Mertle was not going to yell at her for doing something her friend considered weird!
Taking a glance around to ensure no one was following her, Teresa took a deep breath before leaving the footpath and walking into the dark forest.
Meanwhile, light-years away from Kauai, a much different group of aliens were also trying to make friends with each other.
At least, as best as they possibly could.
"Blubby-face! I thought I would never see you again!"
Gantu's face turn the darkest it possibly could as he heard and then saw Experiment 625 and Agent Pleakley walk into his cabin. The two creatures in the galaxy he most definitely did not want to see right now. One had humiliated him multiple times in front of the Galactic Council and was dead-set determined to continue messing with him, while the other had robbed him of the opportunity to send out his Armada to Earth because of freaking mosquitoes. He had to physically refrain himself from attacking them, his left arm holding back his right so he wouldn't reflexively draw his plasma blaster from the holster and gave them both what they truly deserved.
Gantu sighed. The two of them didn't even deserve the ammo that would be needed to blast them with hot plasma. It wouldn't justify the cost. All Gantu was willing to give them for now was his annoyance. "Be quiet, you stupid experiment," he spat, "I'm only fetching you to that miserable planet Jumba's headed to. Then maybe with any luck I'll never see you again, and for good this time."
"Aw…" 625 cooed, "fetching me to Earth in your cozy little personal ship? So you're like, my personal chauffeur? I'm honoured, fish-face. If this is really the last time we meet, I'll make it worth your time!"
"Six-two-five," Gantu spoke with a very forced neutral face, although the rage in his eyes gave his real anger away, "I am at the limit of my patience. If you dare to push me any further, I will ditch you on an abandoned asteroid and then you'll have to hitchhike your way to that miserable planet."
Before 625 could retort, Pleakley decided to ask what was on his mind. "When can we leave? I wanna go!"
"We're going soon! Hold still!" Gantu said. That plasma shooter in his holster was getting more and more tempting by the second.
"Woo!" Pleakley shouted in excitement as he sat down next to Gantu on the navigator's seat. "I'm actually going to Earth itself! I get to go to Earth! I get to go to Earth! I get to go—"
"Am I with a bunch of toddlers? Because you're acting like one, Agent Pleakley! Remember your place!" he shouted, pulling rank over the junior agent.
625 snickered at Gantu as he saw him getting tormented by Pleakley as well. "Hey, cheer up! At least it wasn't me who annoyed you this time."
Gantu just glanced at 625 before continuing to try calming the ecstatic Pleakley down. "This is my ship! I'm the captain, I'm in charge here!"
The yellow experiment just looked at the chaos before stating his opinion. "Doesn't look like it, fishsticks. If you can't even control your own Federation alien," he pointed at Pleakley, who was flailing his arms in excitement, "then don't even talk about what I am going to do to your order and control."
That was it. He'd had enough. Forget the Grand Councilwoman's orders.
Gantu whipped out his plasma blaster, ignoring Pleakley's gasp, and aimed it straight at 625 with a flourish. The calm experiment flinched backwards and hurriedly changed the tone of his speech. "I-I mean... you still can have order around here. Yeah, order is good! I ain't going to cause ya any trouble, heh heh! None at all!"
He lowered the blaster, seeing 625 shivering in fear even though the experiment tried to put on a brave front. See, intimidation always worked! Even Pleakley had also stopped talking in the panic.
"Captain Gantu, sir?" Pleakley meekly asked.
"What?!" He didn't even try to sound patient this time.
"U-uh, nothing…" he started, "It's just that I was unaware that you didn't like the experiment as well."
"Of course I hate him! He's a—" Gantu suddenly stopped talking, his mood changing as he processed Pleakley's words. "Wait, did you just say 'as well'?" His eyes perked in curiosity.
"Yeah!" Pleakley responded. "He's a troublemaker! I'm here to supervise him and make sure he doesn't cause any trouble on the delicate planet that is Earth!"
"Finally!" Gantu pumped his fist in elation. "Yes! Someone else who understands my pain! In the Council Meeting everyone was on that abomination's side! You and I will get along well, Pleakley!" He shook Pleakley's hand vigorously, as the poor alien froze in shock and confusion.
"Hey, are you two gossiping about me behind my back?" 625 looked annoyed, sensing his two co-passengers on the ship making an alliance at his expense.
"It's not gossiping behind your back if you can hear it, trog!" Gantu smirked. Seeing 625 huff and sit down on the ground at a loss of words after his reply made his day so much sweeter. Payback was sweet!
"Captain!" an Armada officer rushed into the cockpit.
"What?!" Gantu turned towards the officer. "I'm having a moment."
"Gloating at my sworn enemy!"
"Sorry to interrupt then, sir," the officer saluted. "But the Grand Councilwoman would like to brief experiment six-two-five and Agent Pleakley before takeoff." The officer bowed respectfully as he finished, allowing the Grand Councilwoman to walk into the cockpit.
"Captain Gantu, it's nice to see you haven't vaporised your own ship in anger." She ignored Gantu's shocked face at the thinly veiled insult and zeroed in onto 625. "Experiment six-two-five, I take it you know your main priority?"
"Yep!" he replied, getting up from the ground. "Get Jumba. Easy as that."
"Unfortunately, it is not as easy as that. If it was, I wouldn't resort to using your help."
625 fell back to the ground, clutching his heart in mock drama. "Oh, you wound me!"
The Grand Councilwoman rolled her eyes at his antics and carried on, "As Pleakley has informed me, Earth is mainly inhabited by creatures known as humans. They are extremely simple creatures and thus cannot know of our existence. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that no one finds out about this mission. You will have to remain unseen, and if necessary, get a disguise."
"How smart are these people?" 625 asked, curious about Earth's population. "I've never seen a human before."
"Neither have I! I'm so excited to see them firsthand!" Pleakley cut into the conversation, not noticing the Grand Councilwoman's look of disdain on her face. "Humans aren't the brightest, but they are an excellent source of biodiversity for mosquitoes—"
"Take this," the Grand Councilwoman interrupted, afraid of Pleakley going offtopic if she let him carry on. She reached into her black suit and took out a white card in her hand before continuing her sentence. "This is the debit card to your Galactic Federation bank account, six-two-five."
"Bank account?" 625 asked, genuinely surprised at the Council's generosity. He got up from the ground, reaching for the card. "Really? For me?"
"Yes, well... at least for this mission," she clarified. "It is a temporary account registered under your name. We'll deactivate it after your mission's completion."
"Kinda fancy, huh," 625 flipped the card around, examining it, "especially considering I'll only be on the mission for what, a few days?"
"It is excessive, yes, but the Council likes to account for everything. The union argued for bank accounts to be given to all Federation members, temporary or permanent, and I will see that through to the end as their leader." She folded her arms, "To make an exception for you would be flouting the official rules and I will not tolerate laziness on my staff's part."
"Gee, why don't you let loose a bit?" 625 commented, "Just relax! You don't need to be such a stern leader all the time!"
"Ahem," she coughed, changing the topic. "Anyway, the Council has debated and decided to credit five thousand Earth dollars as your salary."
"Salary?" His eyes unconsciously grew greedy as his thoughts wandered to what he could do for sandwiches with that money.
"Federation employment laws state that anybody working under the Council's jurisdiction must be paid. Use this five thousand dollars for your living expenses and anything else you might need to catch Jumba," she had a small laugh seeing 625's face fall when he realised that the money was not for sandwich usage. "I trust that you will have the self-control not to overspend. We don't allow bank overdrafts for temporary staff."
"Sure I won't," 625 reassured as he pocketed the bank card.
"Agent Pleakley," the Grand Councilwoman turned towards him, "you have your communicator?"
Pleakley took out a red round device, tapping the glass screen to ensure it was working, "It's charged and fully functional!"
"Very good. Contact me if anything goes wrong." The Grand Councilwoman turned just slightly to see 625 scowl out of the corner of her eye. Good. Having someone he doesn't trust fully being the one to communicate to his new superior would make him on edge.
"So, uh," 625 fidgeted, trying to get her attention, "is there anything else I need to know?"
"Yes, one last thing." The Grand Councilwoman turned back to 625, dropping her smile. Up to now, she had been in a cheery mood, so the sudden mood swing caused 625 to instinctively change his demeanour to a more guarded one.
"Do not fail this mission."
"I understand," he replied with a firm tone. He knew when to be serious and he most certainly knew what would happen if he made the Grand Councilwoman angry. She currently had all the cards and she had proven that back in his cell when he'd given in to her demands in the first place.
"Ma'am!" the Armada guard, who had been quiet until now, suddenly spoke up. "Big news! Tracker team just informed me over the radio that Jumba's getaway ship has made impact with Planet Earth!"
"Well then, I shall take my leave. I look forward to hearing news of your success."
The Grand Councilwoman raised her right hand to signal her departure before turning around to walk out of the ship with the Armada guard, leaving only Pleakley, 625 and Gantu left in the cockpit.
The trio stared at each other, uncomfortable at the sudden silence, at least until Gantu got irritated yet again. "Grrr!" he hit his fist against the controls. "Now we're nine hours behind that idiot scientist!"
"Hey, watch your mouth," 625 said, folding his arms. "That idiot scientist created me!"
"And that is the reason why I'm going to enjoy pressing additional charges on him after the handcuffs are slapped over his wrists! Annoyance, insulting a superior officer, and—"
"Hey, newsflash, you can't pin those charges on me. I was promised a walk outta this place by selling Jumba out!" 625 suddenly stopped talking, a troubling thought entering his mind. "Unless… you're planning to double-cross me?" he glared accusingly at Gantu.
"Of course not!" Gantu shook his head. "How I wish I could, though..." he added in irritation.
"What was that?"
"Nothing!" He made a mental note not to say his complaints out loud next time. "Anyway, I'm pinning them on Jumba because I can't charge you for your insubordination! Now follow orders and take your seat unless you want to fly around the cabin when I activate hyperdrive!"
"Oh, fine," 625 began to drag himself to the co-pilot seat. He knew that Gantu wasn't bluffing about that at least. When the Galactic Armada had captured him, they had tossed the experiment capsule containing him into the back. He had almost gotten sick when they flew off to Turo and the capsule he was in flew all over the place.
"Thank you," Gantu took a sigh in relief. He reached for the radio and adopted a professional, authoritative voice, "Requesting hyperspace clearance for sector zero-zero-five. Destination, Planet Earth."
"Please stand by for clearance," the person on the other end replied.
Ignoring Gantu as he initiated the takeoff sequence, 625 sat down on the co-pilot seat and fastened his seatbelt. "It's just an easy recon mission," he told himself, "Find your creator and you're home free." Beside him, Gantu was continuing to prepare the ship's takeoff, while Pleakley was flipping through a large encyclopedia about Earth. Glancing at Pleakley's encyclopedia, 625 noted something about Earth that worked to his advantage. "Huh, what do you know? The planet's covered mostly in water. If that's the case, the laws of probability state that there's a very high chance the ship crash-landed somewhere abandoned and no one found it. Good for me if that's the case." 625 took a yawn, the day's events finally getting to him. "The quicker I get this done, the sooner I can make and eat sandwiches again," he mumbled incoherently.
Before he dozed off in the co-pilot seat, 625 allowed himself one last conscious thought.
"Shouldn't take more than a day at best…"
The second story arc begins! Our favourite aliens are on their way to Hawaii, or in some cases, have already reached Hawaii.
I feel like mentioning something about Moses' speech to Lilo. When I was younger, I was enrolled in basic martial art classes. The instructor would repeat the moves, lesson after lesson and practice after practice, just to ensure that we understood the basics. This is why I wrote that in, because Lilo missing a hula class like that would definitely impact her hula classmates as well. Just food for thought.
I also hoped that I characterised Mertle and her group of friends well. You'll have to understand that from their point of view, Lilo is someone very weird. And as anyone who has ever been a kid can vouch, weird people get teased mercilessly. This is one point the movie drives home excellently.
Chapter 7: The Needs of the Many
Chapter 7: The Needs of the Many
"Warning — current altitude is fifty thousand feet above ground level. Please change course to avoid crash."
"Naga-takabah!" 626 blew a raspberry at the ship computer, thrusting the yoke downwards in direct retaliation. "Can't stop meega from crashing ship!"
"Ugh! You little monster!" Jumba muttered with a mixture of pride and anger. Here he was, marvelling at his destructive creation. He would honestly be much more proud of 626 if he wasn't currently being forced to the back of a crashing ship.
"Two minutes to impact," the computerised voice continued, impassive to the situation of the passengers.
The scientist cursed at the announcement, his life flashing through his eyes. This wasn't how it was supposed to end! He was supposed to overthrow the Galactic Federation after years of hard work and turmoil, not blow up to ashes in some unknown planet on the far side of the galaxy! Glancing to his right, he could see that Dr. Hamsterviel wasn't faring much better. Hamsterviel's eyes were shut, his face a mixture of anger, desperation and just a tinge of regret. Jumba could guess what Hamsterviel was feeling. Just like him, the hamster must have regretted not abandoning ship the first chance he got.
"Ow!" Jumba suddenly cried. He was so distracted looking at Hamsterviel that he didn't notice that something hard had hit his foot. Looking down, his face widened in surprise before he smiled sinisterly. Oh, lady luck was on his side today.
By his feet was the experiment container!
It must have fell off the co-pilot seat somewhere along the trip and ended up rolling to the back. He would never have been able to get it otherwise, as the sheer speed 626 forced the ship to travel at meant that him and Hamsterviel were forced to the back of the cabin and couldn't reach the front.
He immediately grabbed it, feeling a sense of hope. With this, he could activate any experiment he wanted that could potentially save him from the explosion!
But which one? Which experiment would save him from being splattered? Think, Jumba, think! Making up his mind, Jumba entered a three-digit number on the keypad to get the pod he wanted. As soon as the container registered his input, a green experiment pod labelled 345 was dispensed into his waiting palm. Without hesitation, he spit into it to activate the experiment using the water in his saliva. The pod began to glow, rising up into the air with a yellow light.
"Warning! Experiment three-four-five activated," the experiment container beeped, barely audible to Jumba over the supersonic turbulence the ship was currently in. "Primary function: distraction of hostile forces."
The pod vanished with a bright flash, leaving a lime green clown-faced experiment in its air. Before gravity could take effect on him, 345 stretched his body slightly downwards to the ground to avoid an embarrassing fall while simultaneously guffawing at the experiment container's choice of words.
"Stop laughing, three-four-five! I was the one who chose those words to be describing your primary function." A flash of annoyance crossed Jumba's face as the giggly experiment continued to chuckle. "Anyway, now is not the time for jokes, I am currently on ship that is about to go KABOOM, so use your elastic body and shield me! Jumba no want to be swiss cheese!"
"What?!" Hamsterviel's ears perked up, turning to Jumba. "A shield experiment?" he gasped out, seeing the chance for his life to be saved.
"Uh-oh," Jumba visibly cringed hearing Hamsterviel's voice. I shouldn't have been saying that so casually!
And sure enough...
"Give it to me!" Hamsterviel yelped in desperation, running over to grab 345's arm.
"No way!" Jumba held on to 345's other arm, starting a tug of war with Hamsterviel over 345's body, much to the experiment's dismay. "When this ship crashes," Jumba grit his teeth, refusing to let go, "it's either one of us survive or none of us do! I won't give experiment three-four-five to you!" In defiance, Jumba used his free arm to throw the experiment container back to the front of the cabin so Hamsterviel couldn't get another experiment to use for himself.
"The experiment container!" Hamsterviel let go of 345 in an attempt to catch the container, causing the experiment to spring back in Jumba's direction with a boing. However, the moment he tried to jump for it, the air resistance forced him back to the wall, making him realise in vain that he couldn't make it to the container. "No, no, no!" he yelled, falling to the ground in defeat. "Curse you and your ridiculously long hands!"
345 turned his head towards Hamsterviel, sticking out his tongue. "Pfffffttt! Hee hee hee hee hee!" he laughed.
"Not you, you long-handed experiment!" Hamsterviel corrected the enthusiastic 345. "I meant Jumba! He was the one who threw the…" he left his sentence hanging mid-rant when his eyes landed on something that was of use to him. Crawling against the ground, he made his way to the side of the ship.
"Oh, I almost forgot this was here!" He clung on to his life saviour, an emergency red box. "In case of emergency, break glass," he read the directions, "Well, I think this calls for an emergency!" He smashed the glass panel with his paw and grabbed the weapon within.
"Jumba!" Hamsterviel smirked, pointing the newly acquired plasma blaster right at him. "Hand me the experiment or I'll fry you into next week!"
"Eep!" 345 yelped, and ended up doing the opposite as he was ordered earlier. Instead of shielding Jumba from all angles as told earlier, he retracted his body to cower behind Jumba's leg, smart enough not to get in direct fire of someone armed with a plasma blaster.
Ignoring 345, Jumba scowled at Hamsterviel. "Where did you get that weapon?!"
"Turns out every spacecraft has a plasma blaster equipped aboard for emergencies!" Hamsterviel smiled upon seeing Jumba's death glare. If looks could kill, Jumba's sneer could wipe out an entire platoon of Galactic Armada foot soldiers. "Now… enough small talk, Jumba. Give me the stretchy stretching experiment!"
Jumba grimaced, unable to believe his rotten luck. If only I found that plasma blaster before the ship took off... Hamsterviel would have surrendered and I would have escaped with the experiment container, he thought, The Galactic Federation would have already been mine!
"Ohhhh Jumba!" Hamsterviel sang, "I'm waiting! Hand him over!"
"You little brat! I will never give you—"
"One minute to impact," the ship computer announced, interrupting Jumba. "Current altitude, twenty thousand feet. Descent angle is…"
Hamsterviel panicked hearing the ship computer announce more and more unfavourable variables to his survival. "Do it!" he shouted, firing a warning shot at the ceiling. "NOW!"
"Grrrr…" Jumba grimaced, before giving a solemn nod to 345. What choice did he really have here?
Getting the go-ahead, 345 stretched his upper body up towards Hamsterviel, before jumping to propel his lower body and feet in the air. Mid-arc, he sprang his body back to his usual diminutive size, before landing next to Hamsterviel with a backflip.
"Well... that was something. You could have just walked over! Did you expect me to applaud at your overly flashy performance, you puny experiment?" Hamsterviel asked. "No matter, it doesn't matter," he said, before cocking the blaster for effect to make his next intention clear.
"Hamsterviel…" Jumba's voice turned hoarse, "what are you doing?!"
"Why, I am going to shoot you, of course," Hamsterviel shrugged as if he was stating the obvious.
"What?!" Jumba howled at the double cross. "But you said that you—"
"Crossies don't count!" Hamsterviel revealed the left hand behind his back, his index and middle fingers in a literal cross. "Ahahah, my genius plan is working flawlessly!" he bragged, drawing his cape across his body with his left arm for the "evil overlord" look. "Jumba, you of all people should know that I am a dirty liar!" he laughed at the defenceless scientist as he aimed the plasma blaster. "Good riddance to you, you useless excuse of a partner!" he smirked, pulling the trigger.
"Yikes!" Jumba ducked forward, rolling out of the way of the plasma shot, which barely missed him by inches.
Hamsterviel frowned with irritation, taking aim one more time. "Stay still!" However, this time, a green hand reached for the barrel as he squeezed the trigger, managing to jerk it away from its original target. The shot went wild, missing Jumba by a margin of over six feet.
"What?!" He swivelled around to see that 345 was responsible for the erratic shot. "Let go!"
"Good job, three-four-five!" Jumba exclaimed, cheering on the elastic experiment. "You're doing your job of distracting the hostile force excellently! Now be snatching that blaster from Hamsterwheel!"
"Curse you Jumba! It is HamsterVIE-woah!" Hamsterviel almost lost the blaster to 345 thanks to Jumba's well timed distraction. Only his right finger, caught and jammed in the trigger, allowed him to regain his grip on the blaster with his left paw. "Argh! Let go of m-my b-blaster!" he yelled, beginning to feel the strain of struggling against 345's hold on the blaster's barrel. Pulling against 345 was like continually stretching an elastic rubber band, which took a lot of energy out of the tiny Hamsterviel. In just a few seconds, he was panting in agony, sweat trickling down his face and drenching his cape.
"H-h-have a t-taste of your o-own medicine, you s-stupid e-e-experiment!" Hamsterviel heaved, finally managing to turn the barrel back to face 345. 345 flinched in response, dropping his usual goofy grin as he stared into the barrel of the blaster. He wasn't stupid; sure he might be a 300-series experiment and not one of the early ones, but he wasn't willing to find out if Jumba made his rubbery body immune to plasma by chancing a shot at point-blank range.
The moment Hamsterviel fired, he immediately stretched his body around to the side, forming a hole where the molten projectile would have hit and allowing the ball of plasma to pass harmlessly through.
However, neither 345 nor Hamsterviel realised the consequence of 345's instinctive response until they heard the resulting explosion. Hamsterviel's face turned horrified when he realised what had happened—when 345 swerved out of the way, the shot ended up hitting a reinforced glass window just metres behind them, shattering it to pieces.
The searing heat of entering the planet's atmosphere combined with the supersonic speed of the ship ended up being a deadly combination of forces on the area surrounding the breached window pane. Before he could comprehend anything more, the fuselage barely two metres behind him tore itself apart due to the aerodynamic forces. Hamsterviel didn't even have time to react to the sudden decompression before he and 345, both standing in the wrong position, were sucked out of the falling spacecraft through the gaping wide hole caused by his own plasma shot. All Jumba could do from his vintage point was hear Hamsterviel's terrified screams, soon drowned out by the numerous alarms and the ship's very own turbulence as it begun to break apart.
Even more sirens began to go off as the computerised voice screamed again. "Warning, warning, fuselage has been breached! Rapid decompression detected in cockpit cabin. Please descend immediately to avoid losing pressurised air. Repeat, please descend—"
"Choota! Yuuga too noisy," 626 protested, "Meega already descending!" Although he was virtually acting as the ship's pilot, 626 didn't spare the message a second thought, not even bothering to look back at the damage. After all, he was going to crash the ship anyway, so what difference did one more alarm make?
"Yaarrgghhh!" However, that alarm definitely made a difference to the not-indestructible Jumba, who gripped onto the wall for support with sheer terror. The wind howled all around him, coming in through the breached starboard side of the ship. He stayed on the port end, as far away from the hole on the opposite end as possible. It is over, he thought with despair, I lost 345 thanks to Hamsterviel. The experiment had been caught off guard by the sudden decompression and didn't have time to latch on to anything before being sucked out into open air.
Jumba's own chance of survival was lost with 345. 345's stretchy body was no longer there to protect him from the debris and eventual impact. He also had no way of retrieving the experiment container at the front for a second chance, the ship was listing, making it impossible for him to reach.
"Thirty seconds to impact. Current altitude is four thousand feet. Warning, descent rate is far too rapid for safe landing from outer space…"
Jumba braced himself, preparing for the worst. Soon all he heard was a long bang, several explosions, and a crushing weight on his body before he mercifully lost consciousness.
As the fire raged on, the blue experiment could only chuckle in glee at his handiwork. Hearing the crackling flames from the fire that surrounded him brought 626 solace, reason being that he was the cause of this miniature forest fire.
The fact that the ground was wedged in, trees were uprooted, and Hamsterviel's ship was a total wreck that would never fly again? All because of him! All of the destruction around this crater was on him, and 626 loved that. His programming had activated, and the temptation to cause chaos rushed through his veins as quickly as a freight train. He jumped off the broken pilot seat, which had been sheared off the floor in the crash, and began to walk out of what remained of the ship.
"S-six... six-two-six! Help me!"
He whirled around, recognising the voice as his creator's. Running on all six of his limbs towards the voice, he found Jumba pinned down under wreckage, barely conscious. Using his four arms, he grabbed the wreckage and flung it away, freeing Jumba of the crushing weight.
"Pack-ack!" Jumba coughed, limping out. The scientist couldn't believe that he was still alive. "Thank you, six-two-six." Paces away, he scooped up the fallen plasma gun which was dropped by Hamsterviel. It was a miracle that it was still intact and on the ship. It must have been caught by the hole in the fuselage. If it went down with Hamsterviel, it would be splattered into as many pieces as him.
In the end, Jumba had to admit that despite 345's untimely exit, the stretchy experiment had wound up being an effective shield for when the ship started to encounter major turbulence and began to break apart as the ship entered the planet's atmosphere at hyperdrive speed, preventing him many potential early injuries for the couple of seconds before Hamsterviel had taken 345 away.
But for the final impact, Jumba had nothing to protect him, so he survived by sheer luck. Grinning broadly from ear to ear, he realised his time was not yet up.
"Yeah heh heh ha ha!" Jumba pumped his fist to the sky in victory, before his voice turned sinister, "Lady Luck is being on my side today! This is proof that the Galactic Federation will soon fall! And with Hamsterviel out of picture," he smiled at the turn of luck, "no one can stop me now!"
626 cocked his head. "Where isa Hamsterviel?" he asked.
"What?" Jumba stared at 626. There's no way, right? He didn't see or hear Hamsterviel's demise? "Annoying gerbil in cape was sucked out of ship. You didn't see?"
"Naga!" he replied.
"You didn't see anything that happened?" Jumba commented incredulously, almost smiling at how oblivious 626 was when his mind was focused on bringing down Hamsterviel's ship.
"Naga! Meega looking straight, meega driving ship!" 626 clarified.
"You are horrible driver, six-two-six." Actually, that was a very huge under-exaggeration. "And about Hamsterviel, is no big deal, you didn't miss much," he chuckled, "So how about now you be handing me the container Hamsterviel took?"
"Uh…" 626 suddenly darted his eyes nervously, "yuuga mean big grey ball?" Reluctantly, 626 opened his mouth and pointed his a clawed finger to his open mouth.
Jumba's eyes widened, slapping his forehead. "It was flung into your mouth in the impact of the crash?"
"Ih! Ih!" 626 nodded to confirm Jumba's hypothesis.
"And you ATE it?!"
"Ih," 626 slurped his tongue, unsure why Jumba sounded so frantic, "in meega stomach now."
Jumba slumped down, almost wanting to strangle something. Oh, come on! This couldn't be happening. Once again victory was so close to him, and yet so far. How could he run into setback after setback after setback?! Running the calculations in his head, he immediately became aware of a new danger and came to a grim conclusion. Taking a glance to see that 626 didn't suspect his thoughts, he switched the topic to avoid suspicion. "Let us forget about container for now, six-two-six. Let us talk about this planet. Do you have any idea where we landed?"
"Ih. Meega heard computer say planet isa Earth!"
"Earth, huh?" Jumba racked his brains, trying to recall any information he knew about Earth. Not once had he remembered hearing anything about this planet. "This planet sounds like good starting point for my intergalactic takeover…" As he rambled on, his right arm slowly reached for Hamsterviel's plasma blaster. When he recovered it earlier, he had placed it in a holster under his now soot-covered lab coat. Just a little bit more of a distraction and he can draw it to fire at 626, hopefully stunning him.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" 626 clapped his hands together in excitement. "Takeover good! Takeover…" he suddenly stopped talking as his infrared vision caught sight of the object his creator was reaching for in his lab coat. He reacted immediately. As Jumba fired the plasma blaster right at him, 626 caught the plasma ball in his hand, before redirecting it away harmlessly to the side and dashing Jumba's hopes of a direct plasma shot at close range.
"Argh!" Jumba yelled in frustration, "How did you know I would do that?!"
"Naga tell yuuga how meega know!" 626 glared at Jumba with absolute hatred in his eyes. "Why you attack meega? Why?!"
"It appears I have no choice," Jumba sighed, looking at 626 with melancholy. "Jumba really wanted to be doing this the easy way."
626 didn't take his eyes off Jumba as he sneered. "Gaba easy way?"
"I was going to knock you out cold. You see, I have to be dissecting you, six-two-six," he came clean. There was no point in hiding it, he'd lost his opportunity for a sneak attack anyway.
"Gaba?!" 626 shook his head rapidly, not believing what Jumba had said. Wasn't he just following orders? Why did Jumba want to take him apart for a stupid grey container? "Naga-takabah!" He knew what dissection was, and there was no way he was going to willingly turn himself in so Jumba could do that to him.
"Well you don't have a choice in this!" Jumba fired again, hoping to slow 626 down, "I need that container, even if it means taking you down!"
626 scurried away, dodging the shot masterfully. "Can't catch meega!"
"Six-two-six! Come back! That's an order!" he yelled, firing and missing his target again. "Six-two-six!"
He ignored Jumba, continuing to scamper away. He ran through his possible options in his head. He couldn't bring himself to hurt his creator, despite it being the easiest way to solve his problem. Reasoning with Jumba was clearly out of the option as well, so now he had to find some way to ditch him. Luckily, it looked like ditching Jumba would be easy. He ran into a deeper part of the forest, using the foliage and the shrubs as cover. In spite of the dark, he could see objects in his path clearly with his infrared vision. His creator couldn't and would almost certainly lose sight of him.
His plan worked. Because 626 was so short, he was virtually invisible in the undergrowth. Jumba couldn't track him at all amongst the dense forest. "Gah! Where did he go?!" Jumba hollered, "This can't be happening!"
He slowly took deep breaths to calm himself down. Once his anger was within control, he began to access the situation rationally. There was no way he could find 626 now. The night made it virtually impossible to find him, thus his only option was to wait until the planet rotated and the sun rose again.
Even worse, he had virtually nothing with him on this desolated planet. He had boarded Hamsterviel's ship with just his lab coat and the experiment container, and now the experiment container was gone along with 626. He had no experiments, no computers, and no equipment. With just one measly plasma blaster that didn't even belong to him in the first place, he didn't stand a chance against his greatest creation in the slightest.
All the odds were against him yet again.
"Hello? Who's there?!"
"Hm?!" Jumba turned around. Where did that voice come from? Not chancing another sneak attack like what Hamsterviel did earlier, he pointed his blaster in the direction of the voice.
"Strange... I almost thought I heard someone," a small girl said as she crawled out of the bushes, "For a second there I almost thought it was Mertle. That'll be like the worst case scenario!" She smiled at her own joke, not noticing the humongous Jumba closing in on her. "If she found out about this she'd never let me live it down-eek!" she shrieked, suddenly noticing what was in front of her.
"What are you looking at, brown-haired little girl?" he stared with all four of his eyes down at the tiny little human. "Who are you?!"
"I-I-I am…" she stammered at the towering alien, unable to speak when she saw the weapon aimed at her, "I come in peace!" She blinked and rubbed her eyes repeatedly to check that she wasn't hallucinating.
"Hmph! So you are peaceful denizens!" Jumba smirked. His eyes re-shone with hope now that he had seemingly found a way out of his situation. So this planet IS inhabited! That is being very good for me. Finally he could begin to salvage Hamsterviel's mess and retake control of his operation.
"Yeah, we're friendly, I swear!" the girl played with her hair in nervousness.
Jumba frowned, noticing the small creature backing away slowly. Not willing to give up the chance for more information, he continued to shoot out questions to the trembling girl. "Brown-haired little girl, is this Planet Earth? Just what are you creatures? And are you being sure that you are all friendly?!"
"Y-y-yes, this is Earth! We're humans, and we're all definitely friendly!" she paused, musing over her last response. "At least I think we're friendly, E.T sorta ended that way with the humans realising that..." Seeing Jumba's face to that trivia, she hurriedly changed her answer. "I mean we're friendly! We're all friendly, I swear!" If the governments wanted to argue against friendly contact with this alien later, Teresa swore that she would have nothing to do with it! There was no way she'd ever say that someone like Mertle would never be friendly towards him. After all, Mertle wasn't the one who currently had some alien gun aimed right at her!
Not noticing the human deep in her thoughts, Jumba laughed out loud, "Hahahahah! So I'll have no resistance then, what wonderful news for me!"
"Resistance?" she repeated, before she gasped as she realised the implications of what he'd said. Oh, no... please don't let this be like Independence Day...
"You finally am getting it, aren't you?" his smile turned into a grin, "You humans cannot resist me! I am the greatest evil scientist in the whole wide universe, Dr. Jumba Jookiba!" To illustrate his point, he pointed the plasma blaster to the sky and let off a bright destructive flare into the air. Seeing that the weapon was most definitely not fake, the girl screamed, turning around to flee for her life.
"No, no, no, don't run!" Jumba aimed the blaster back in her direction. Alas, his folly had cost him. She had completely disappeared back into the inky blackness of the forest before he could even get a clear shot. "You dare run from my evil geniusness, little girl?" the furious Jumba shouted as loud as he could so that the fleeing girl, wherever she might be, could still hear him. "Fine then, run while you can, there's no way to be escaping me! And when I have retrieved what I want, your entire planet will fall to Jumba!" It was only after he had a hearty chuckle about his evil monologue that Jumba started to feel a sense of uneasiness.
Planet Earth... despite the girl's words, he still knew barely anything about it at all! And judging by the final reaction of the girl, she was definitely lying about everyone being friendly and welcoming him with open arms. He would bet an experiment that she would definitely come back with more natives for a fight or something. Even worse, it hit him with a jolt that Hamsterviel dragging him off Galaxy Defence Industries meant that the Galactic Council would now be looking for him. Just great.
He couldn't stay here. He hadn't managed to confirm if the planet was part of the Galactic Federation or not. There was a very high chance it wasn't, seeing that the girl didn't recognise his name and he himself hadn't recognise the planet name. But in statistics, there was always what is known as a null hypothesis. Despite so much evidence that Earth wasn't a Galactic Federation member, there was always a slight chance that it was. If it is indeed a member planet, he'd be ousted as an outlaw to the Council by Earth's inhabitants.
Jumba couldn't afford to be rash now. He'd just survived a spacesuit crash. Imagine surviving that and being sent back to Turo! He refused to go down like this, arrested anticlimactically by a simple report from some random people on an unknown planet. Forget finding 626 and the girl, he thought. His first priority now was to blend in with the planet's inhabitants until he found a way off this wretched place with all of his experiments. Groaning, Jumba walked into the dense and dark forest, choosing a random path as he left the crash zone behind him.
Soon all that was left there was a burning ship lodged in a crater, surrounded by miles of natural vegetation.
Morning came slowly to Kokaua Town.
As people started to crowd the once empty streets at eight in the morning, no one paid any heed to the big sized, chubby yellow shirt tourist queuing outside the computer cafe. After all, this was Hawaii, and locals were used to ignoring or silently making fun of tourists.
It didn't matter to the man. If it's one thing he learned, it's that the best way to avoid being detected is to draw as much attention as humanly possible to yourself. He'd even made experiment 345 with this exact purpose in mind.
When he had eventually made it out of the forest, he pilfered a local shirt to throw off anyone who could recognise him by his lab coat, and sunglasses to hide his four eyes from view. They were easy enough to steal, a simple plasma shot vaporised the storefront before he grabbed them and left. The owners would be much more worried about the property damage instead of counting their stocks to notice anything amiss.
"What is taking them so long? It is now five past eight," the disguised Jumba asked out loud. He had been continually looking at his watch for the past hour, waiting for the cafe to open. "They said opening hours start at eight. They didn't start on the dot? This is unacceptable for any planetary shop!"
"Uh, excuse me sir?" a man behind him interjected, "This is Hawaii! Chill out, dude!"
"Hmph!" Jumba folded his arms. Let these locals insult him all they want. Soon they would be at his mercy.
Finally, the sign changed from closed to open. Jumba stormed into the shop, asking for his internet access.
"That will be twelve dollars for six hours, sir."
"Be charging it to my credit card," Jumba took out a little white card bearing the United Galactic Federation logo and handed it to the cashier.
One of the fancier perks about having a Galactic Federation visa was that their union guaranteed a intergalactic bank card for everyone. This little card allowed for universal exchange rates, and was compatible with almost every planet in the universe, even those not in the Galactic Federation. He had gotten this free gift from his position in Galaxy Defence Industries due to his need for constant travel, and not once had it ever failed him when he used it for more nefarious purposes.
"Done, sir. Enjoy your internet access!"
And it had yet to fail him, he thought. When he took over the Federation, this was one thing that he would not change — the intergalactic bank card was way too convenient. Smiling, he walked to his designated computer, booting it up.
"Primitive technology," he moaned as the startup screen took ages to boot the operating system. "Fifty seconds to boot to OS? This planet is beyond ancient!" He opened the internet browser, before typing a long string of numbers into the address bar to connect to his personal experiment database. This personalised IP address was only known to him and his experiments. He had decentralised the system this way so that any experiment could connect to his database for communication purposes if necessary without requiring the need of buying an additional computer for each new experiment.
Jumba entered in the password for his personal experiment logs and prepared to update the log for experiment 626. "Hamsterviel…" he drawled, "this is all your fault."
At least one advantage to all this chaos was that his traitorous ex-partner was gone. Hamsterviel had been sucked out of the ship at an altitude of what had to be at least ten thousand feet in the air. Jumba wouldn't miss him anytime soon. After all, his backstabbing had almost ruined everything. Even now, Hamsterviel was still complicating things, as he wouldn't have been stranded here and in this situation in the first place if Hamsterviel hadn't paid his lab a visit.
"Now all I have to be doing is settle the situation with six-two-six, and then my plans for intergalactic dominance can finally resume!" he thought, while typing furiously on the keyboard about the events that had just happened.
Primary function — widespread destruction of populated areas.
Log Number 1:
Remember what I said about everything going according to plan in my Experiment 625 log? Well, Jumba now takes back everything he said. I had just activated Experiment 626 using the fusion chamber, but that good-for-nothing gerbil came and ruined everything! He managed to take experiment container from right under my nose! When trying to retrieve it, 626 sent the ship on a crash course to unknown planet, which I later discovered is called Earth.
It is interesting to note that 626 came out exactly as planned. He is cunning and devious, having tricked my former partner into crashing his very own ship in the first place. I am very proud of him, but unfortunately that makes it so much harder for me to catch him.
You see, 626 has accidentally swallowed the experiment container in the crash. This is an absolute disaster! First off, I now have no access to any of my dehydrated experiments at all. But more importantly, I can be calculating that the container metal lining can only withstand 626's stomach acid for just a couple of weeks. If I do not get it back by then, the lining will dissolve. This will cause all the experiment pods inside to activate simultaneously, the result of which will implode 626 from within!
So now I have no choice but to be taking 626 apart in order to get back the experiment container. If I do not dissect him to remove container, he would be finished! Even though dissection has only 2.7% chance of fatality, 626 has run away, terrified of the idea! I must find him before it is too late!
What is an evil scientist like me to do?! What should I do…?
Dr. Jumba Jookiba
...outweigh the needs of the few. So what do you think of this development?
We finally get to the first real conflict and drive of this story — Jumba going after Stitch just like the first movie, except for a very different reason compared to canon. Don't worry, for this is just the beginning of even more chaos!
Random editing fact, the part where Jumba interrogates Teresa was originally a lot shorter. Quite literally, in the original draft the prose skipped straight from "peaceful denizens" to "humans cannot stop me; I'm the greatest scientist in the universe". I wasn't satisfied with that brief exchange, so now you get references to multiple other movies involving aliens.
Chapter 8: Centre of My Universe
Chapter 8: Centre of My Universe
Lilo threw her pillow across her room with a huff.
Last night had not been a good night for her. Moses chewed her out, Mertle rejected her offer of friendship, and then to top it all off, her own sister just had to drag her away from the falling star! A falling star for crying out loud!
Reaching her arm out to snooze the ringing alarm clock, she fell back onto the bed sheets. As she was about to fall back asleep, she felt something hard against her head. Lilo got back up and glanced down at the object, a photo which had been under the pillow.
A photo of her family.
When their family was four and not two…
Mum said that when you wish upon a falling star, the wish you make will come true. If I had one wish that I could make on the star...
Lilo made up her mind. Nani was going to be absolutely furious later, but it would be worth it in the end. Tossing herself out of bed, she grabbed the thrown pillow off the ground, before propping it next to her window to use as leverage. Standing on the pillow, she grabbed the window ledge and pulled herself up.
"Falling star, here I come!"
Jumping out of the window and onto the ground, Lilo made her way out.
"Ugh! This is soooo unbelievably stupid!" Mertle whined, stomping her foot as she walked on the grass. "We're wasting our Friday morning going into the forest when we could be sleeping, or playing with dolls, or anything but this! Can you even hear yourself, Teresa? An alien invasion?!"
"I'm telling you, it's true!" Teresa had known this wasn't going to be easy in the slightest. Sure enough, when she had arrived at Mertle's house at half past eight in the morning, it had taken her thirty minutes of her friend calling her a fruitcake before she finally relented. However, just because she summoned Elena and Yuki for this impromptu trip didn't mean that Mertle was 100% okay with it.
"Did Weird-lo touch and infect you with weirdness?" Mertle's face scrunched up at the thought. "Is weirdness her version of cooties?"
Teresa sighed at the comment, glancing sideways to see Elena and Yuki shrug. There she went with the weirdness comparison again. The three of them had always found Mertle's obsession with showing up Lilo a bit ridiculous. Sure, she's weird, but I wouldn't actively make enemies with her. Elena, Yuki and her had never actively instigated an argument with Lilo, the best they did was support Mertle verbally.
Mertle could get very obsessive over bullying Lilo. Anything that reminded her of weird, she would associate with Lilo, as shown by the fact that Mertle was currently spending every second of the walk complaining. Seeing her friend's look of disgust just thinking about Lilo, Teresa changed the topic. "Enough about Lilo's weirdness... you gotta believe me, Mertle! I'm your friend!"
"Ugh!" she groaned, her face filled with annoyance knowing Teresa was right, "I'm doing this just to prove your weird theory wrong! If this was Weird-lo I wouldn't even bother!"
"Yeeaaahhhh!" Elena and Yuki repeated their usual affirmation, although softer than normal since it was directed at their friend instead of Lilo.
Teresa ignored Mertle's grumbling and trekked on, following her memory of the path she took yesterday. What had happened yesterday night was still fresh on the girl's mind.
The four-eyed alien in a blackened lab coat, pointing a gun down at her, and proclaiming the start of his invasion of Earth.
Teresa still couldn't believe what had happened. She had always been interested in science, even at her young age, but not once had she ever believed that humans weren't the only ones in the universe. She hadn't thought much of it. She'd seen science fiction films before, but she had always found them a tad unrealistic. She was certain that she'd be a senile old lady before flying cars even became a thing, much less live to see flying spacesuits and planets colonisation, so the concept of aliens to her was foreign. After all, despite all their advancements in technology in the past century, it appeared that unfortunately humans still lagged behind in space travel.
But all of that was thrown out of whack yesterday. To think, that there were indeed real aliens, possibly other worlds, out there in the vastness of space!
It's only too bad that they aren't friendly to humans.
So not only did aliens exist, spitting in the face of astrologists everywhere, but they were outright hostile! Why did I have to be the one to make first contact, she cried in her head, I've read enough science fiction to know the situation right now looks like it is going to use every sci-fi trope imaginable. Oh, except just taken to eleven because it's real life and not fiction! First contact with humans, and then massive planetary war over resources or power or something, with me in the centre of the conflict just because I happened to make first contact with the alien dude.
Yeah, she wanted absolutely no part of this. She wasn't adventurous in the slightest. When Jumba had pointed the alien gun at her, she was at his complete mercy, basically reduced to trembling in fear in self-preservation. Those seconds where she revealed everything had ticked on forever. For a few tense moments, she had thought that she would never make it back from the forest alive. Even till now, she swore that she could still clearly remember the four-eyed alien's voice.
"You finally am getting it, aren't you? You humans cannot resist me! I am the greatest evil scientist in the whole wide universe, Dr. Jumba Jookiba!"
Those final words uttered by Jumba as she had sprinted away to safety continued to ring in her head. The confident way he spoke, his blatant admission that he was evil, and his triumphant cackle of laughter when she had told him about Earth all told her one thing. Jumba was bad news. Very bad news if she didn't warn anyone. She needed to get someone to believe her that there really was a serious alien that could actually take over the world.
And when they believed her, someone else could take care of this! Anyone else, just so long as she wasn't involved in this anymore. She had already made up her mind that she wasn't the chosen one fated by the universe to wield a lightsaber and kick alien butt. The military as a replacement for that role would probably be a good bet…
"What?" she almost jumped at Yuki's exclamation.
"You blanked out," Yuki said worriedly. "Are you okay? Your face is all pale."
"Yeah... I'm fine," Teresa replied. Actually, she wasn't, but at least this way they didn't have to see her worried. "You brought your phones?"
"Yep!" came two replies from the girls.
Wait, two replies?
"Uhhhhh... I left it charging at home," Mertle sheepishly said. Seeing three sceptical stares at her, she lost her temper again. "Don't look at me like that! Why do we even need phones to begin with?!"
"Photos. No one will believe a thing we say without photographic evidence," Teresa said, taking out her own phone. "Then we're handing the photos over to Officer Kahiko."
"That's a dumb idea! You're going to get us arrested for wasting police time," Mertle muttered.
"Hush!" Teresa shushed everyone, motioning them with her hand. "Stay quiet and lay low. It's right around here... what?" she exclaimed in surprise. She had signalled the group to be quiet as they approached the clearing in fear that they would be spotted, but what she saw caused her to drop her soft voice.
She was not prepared for this.
Where the smouldering crater and the fiery spaceship had been last night, there was nothing now but an empty patch of land. No aliens, no spaceship, not a trace of it was left!
"B-b-but how! It's all gone!" she spluttered.
Mertle stepped forward, looking around for anything amiss. "You wanted to show Officer Kahiko an empty field?"
"It wasn't empty last night!" Teresa protested.
"Yeah, right." Mertle rolled her eyes. "I told you so!"
"But I'm telling you, it's true!" Teresa started looking around frantically. Was this one of that alien Jumba's tricks? How could the entire wreck be gone without a single trace? It's almost like there was nothing here but flora to begin. Oh great, now Mertle will never believe me!
Taking a deep breath, she continued, trying to salvage the conversation. "This guy crashed his spaceship here, and wanted to take over the world!"
"Hmph!" Mertle folded her arms. "He could have been some dorky guy in a costume! Or maybe some lunatic clown dressed up to scare kids a couple months ahead of Halloween."
"Would a guy in a costume have a gun and point it at a kid? That's like super illegal!" Teresa retorted, getting tired of Mertle's resistance. Normally she was okay with Mertle when it came to her insistence to dispel all myths about weird beliefs, but that was when it was Lilo under suspicion, not her. "Not only that, but there was a spaceship, a real life crashed spaceship on fire! He even knew what the name of our planet is! This guy isn't a phony! I'm telling you, this is an E.T. situation, except the alien that crash landed on Earth is a very bad, bad person and will totally destroy us all!"
"It could all be faked! It's probably that comedy TV show where they prank and scare unsuspecting people before airing their reactions. Hah, I love that show," Mertle said with a goofy grin on her face, not realising she had sidetracked, "The look of those people's faces are priceless when they are told they were fooled! Hah, suckers! Serves them right for believing in unrealistic situations!"
"That's the point!" Teresa hit a brainwave, realising the flaw with Mertle's theory. "The producers of the show will tell the people that they had been pranked! I wasn't told any such thing, so it's not a prank show. It's legit!"
"Maybe they wanted to keep it secret. Or maybe put it up as a viral video."
"They'll get sued!" Teresa threw her arms up, exasperated. "Anyway, the budget you'll need for such a prank is humongous! No station would loan a show this much money to stage something like this! Only a film soundstage can fake this! Are you telling me I walked into a film studio?"
"Yeah, maybe you did," Mertle sneered. "Then the film producers would have cleared up their set and packed up, leaving no trace."
"A soundstage in the middle of the woods? That's ridiculous!"
Elena and Yuki prudently stepped back from the escalating argument between the two girls.
A man in a black suit lay hidden on the opposite end of the clearing. His eyes remained locked onto the four girls as he listened in onto their argument.
"Interesting…" he mumbled. "So they've made contact." He pondered about the complications that would arise from this situation. Evidently they had not been fast enough. There had been a witness to the crash landing. Luckily, it appeared that once again luck was on their side. He'd paid attention to their argument and realised that the girl had no physical proof of the actual ship. This would have been so much harder if the girl had video evidence, for instance.
A sudden vibrating noise cut through the silent forest. Straightening his tie, the man took out a round red communication device, pressing against the touchscreen to accept the call.
"Agent Cobra speaking," the black suited agent in the sunglasses acknowledged. "I was expecting your call, Grand Councilwoman."
The image of the Grand Councilwoman on the screen smiled upon hearing the curt greeting. "You haven't changed since Roswell, Cobra. There's no need for formalities."
"I'm used to speaking in a formal and gruff manner," he commented. "But yes, I have done as you said. There is no trace of the spaceship left. The moment we got your message, the CIA immediately sent in a Special Operations team to clear the wreckage and any trace of alien technology from the crash site."
"Good," she nodded. "It is imperative for the both of us that this be kept well under wraps."
Cobra lowered his voice down to a whisper. "The CIA agrees. It is in our best interests that the general population of Earth continue to remain unaware of the greater scope of the United Galactic Federation. Humans still believe that we are the centre of the universe."
"A foolish mindset... no offence, sorry." The Grand Councilwoman apologised, clucking her tongue. She scolded herself for that slip up, reminding herself that she had to be careful of what she said.
"None taken. I understand why you would think that way."
"I'm afraid that I have not caught up much on your planet's politics. Luckily for you, I have been recently reminded that humans can't know about aliens by an Agent Pleakley, who made that point very clear to us." She chuckled, remembering the flailing alien, "Planet-wide panic were the words he had used to describe what would happen if we brought the Armada to Earth."
Cobra shuddered. "He's not wrong." He shifted slightly, holding the communicator closer to his face. "Anyway, I would like to emphasise to the Galactic Council that Earth is unaware of extraterrestrials. My superiors have deemed it necessary to ensure that this escaped criminal must not reveal his existence to the general populace." Cobra paused, considering whether to reveal what he knew to the Council. After a few seconds, he relaxed and continued. "Especially since the escaped convict is still alive."
"Jumba is alive?" The Grand Councilwoman put her hand on her lip, pondering the new information. "Hm, perhaps it's for the better, wouldn't want him to become a martyr. The last thing I want is another Julius situation." She cringed at the memory, stroking her golden collar unconsciously. "Long story short, Jumba has become hailed like a hero in some parts of the universe."
"Why would he be a hero?" Cobra was shocked by this new situation. "What exactly is Jumba charged for?"
"That's highly classified, Agent Cobra. Not even the intergalactic press know the full details," her eyes briefly turned dark at the thought of those scoundrels, "and I prefer to keep it that way. The worst kinds of villains are the ones with publicity on their side."
"Grand Councilwoman," Cobra spoke, "I'll prefer if the Council tells us what Jumba is charged for. He's the one currently on our planet, and if we know nothing, we can't do a thing to stop this rogue criminal."
Her eyes darted around, "You promise not to tell a soul, Cobra?"
Cobra was very glad that his sunglasses allowed him to hide the curiosity in his eyes as the Grand Councilwoman made her offer. "Not to worry. I'm the only agent here undercover. I assure you I won't tell, even if ordered by my superiors."
"Very well. Dr. Jumba Jookiba has managed to successfully create an illegal genetic experiment."
"Excuse me?" Cobra raised an eyebrow.
"He made an experiment using technology. Artificial life, per-se," she elaborated. "The point of the matter is, now we've got pro-life and scientific groups putting pressure on Jumba's trial. They have no actual proof of the experiment, we've kept it top secret, but some imbecile leaked the fact that Jumba made a successful experiment and now they are still lobbying for an acquittal verdict. The last thing I want is for them to hear that Jumba's dead. The stupid resistance will think that it's another coverup, and then the Council will have a mob breathing down our necks." The Grand Councilwoman took a mug of coffee from offscreen and sipped it to calm her nerves. "As the Grand Councilwoman, I must take full responsibility of the situation. I was the one who made the mistake of approving his bail, and now I'm going to settle this mess before it turns nasty. This is why I need to recapture Jumba as soon as possible, Cobra. I refuse to let that scientist start another Galactic Federation war."
"That bad, huh?" Cobra frowned. "I was under the impression that it would be a regular criminal."
"If Jumba was a regular criminal," she shook her head, "then he would be in prison and none of this would have happened. Unfortunately, due to the nature of his crime, he has lots of support. But now, I am going to turn this around on those pesky lobbyists," she smirked at the thought of her plan. "They're protesting against Jumba's verdict right now solely because of the experiment he made. But now, I've let his experiment out on a deal. He'll be the one to turn in Jumba in exchange for immunity from prosecution. This way, those groups can't influence a thing on the retrial since it's now us against Jumba, not his experiment."
Cobra nodded, finally understanding the full extent of the situation. "Ingenious idea. So you were referring to the experiment when you said you would send in your own people to recapture Jumba."
"Exactly," she smiled. "He is part of the covert team I have sent to Earth to rearrest Jumba."
"Are you sure the experiment is safe? He's made by this Jumba criminal—"
"The experiment is perfectly safe. He's absolutely harmless. All he can do is make sandwiches. That's the reason Jumba got bailed out in the first place," she muttered with a tinge of anger, breaking eye contact momentarily. "Just make sure that the inhabitants of your planet don't find out about us. Cook up whatever cover story you want, Cobra! Let your organisation fabricate it all they want till we retrieve that idiot scientist—" she covered her mouth, grimacing. "Great, now Gantu is rubbing off on me. That was what he always called Dr. Jumba."
"Gantu, huh? Has he changed at all since you last spoke of him at Roswell?"
"Before I hang up, Cobra, one last question. How are you so sure that Jumba is alive?" she spoke with a wry grin on her face.
"You're observant," he said. "It turns out that a young girl has observed the crashed ship. I overheard her saying Jumba threatened her."
"You seem extraordinarily calm with this," the Grand Councilwoman observed, "I thought Agent Pleakley said that it was imperative your people can't know about us extraterrestrials?"
"There have been people who have observed alien sightings in the past, but no one ever believes them. What the CIA is concerned about is an alien sighting involving multiple people and video proof, which we would have no way to cover up. And…" he suddenly kept his mouth shut, becoming aware of a new presence to the forest. "...I'm afraid I need to cut short this conversation. Until we meet again, Grand Councilwoman," he saluted.
"Goodbye, Cobra," she replied before the communicator went blank.
Pocketing the communicator, Cobra turned back to where he thought he saw the new figure. Yep, it turned out his eyes didn't deceive him.
What was Lilo Pelekai doing here?
"Why are you so resilient on this, Mertle?" Teresa huffed, arms folded.
"I'm not, Teresa!" Mertle shouted. "I'm just saying...ugh, let me just get straight to the point! Aliens don't exist! Only the conspiracy weirdos believe they exist, everybody else knows they don't exist!"
"Look, I know what you're thinking," she sighed. Is this how Lilo feels every time she argues with Mertle? If so, yeesh, that girl has a lot more resilience than I do! "Honestly," she relented, "just yesterday I would have sided with you and the others on this. But that alien WAS real. He had a gun and everything! You need to believe me!"
Yuki placed a hand on her friend's shoulder, consoling her in support. "Maybe you dreamt the whole thing up, Teresa?"
"Yeah, I hate to say it, but Mertle has a point," Elena agreed. "It's honestly ridiculous, the alien invasion thing."
Before Teresa could reply to her friends, Mertle suddenly shrieked. With a repulsed face, Mertle pointed her finger at something behind her. "Weird-lo! What are you doing here?!"
Sure enough, as Teresa turned around, she saw the girl in question. "You're in your nightgown," she commented, staring at Lilo. Well, at least Lilo's eccentricity was still a constant in her new weird alien-believing life.
"The falling star is gone!" Lilo said, disappointment clear in her voice. "Did you guys use up the wish already? Awwwww…"
Mertle, who at this point had already been fuming due to Teresa, utterly lost her temper when Lilo gave her own input about the meteorite situation. "Oh come on! There was no falling star and no aliens! Nothing weird happened!"
"Aliens?" Lilo looked at Mertle, confused, "I never said anything about aliens—"
"What are you doing here, young lady?"
The five girls turned around from the sudden intrusion, with Teresa in particular screaming until she realised that it was not who she thought it was. Instead of a hostile four-eyed alien, it was a man dressed entirely in black who had spoken.
"Lilo Pelekai, am I correct?" the man continued, unfazed by the scream. "I am the social worker that has been assigned to you, Cobra Bubbles."
Upon hearing the man's full name, Mertle collapsed into laughter. Even Teresa, Elena and Yuki couldn't resist chuckling until Cobra stared at them all dead in the eye, shutting their collective laughter up.
"What's a social worker?" Lilo asked.
"It's someone who helps individuals and family that aren't well-to-do. But now's not the time to elaborate." Cobra made a 'follow me' gesture with his hand. "Perhaps we should best explain this outside of the forest. You kids shouldn't be wandering here alone."
As the five girls were led back outside of the forest by Cobra, Teresa began to realise that getting anyone to believe her tale was going to be a lot tougher than she could have ever imagined.
"You have just exited hyperspace! Welcome to Quadrant 005!" The computer buzzed with happiness. "You have selected — Planet Earth as your destination. Autopilot will land there in two minutes."
Gantu kept his hand on the control wheel, looking straight at the blue planet in relief. Finally, these freeloaders can get off my ship.
Next to him, 625 clutched his head, groaning in pain. "Ow, that hyperjump almost gave me a migraine."
Gantu turned left to quieten down the moaning experiment. "Be quiet, trog! We're almost there!"
625 unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped off the co-pilot seat. "Ugh, I think I have vertigo-woah!"
625 fell to the ground as Pleakley shoved him aside to press his face against the windscreen. His single eye was looking around in all directions. "Wow! I can't believe it! It's my dream come true! The precious mosquito wildlife reserve, Planet Earth, is within my sights. Maybe I'll get to meet a mosquito in person! Ahh, it's getting closer! I can even see the blue!"
"Hey! I wanna see!" 625 jumped up and down repeatedly in excitement. "Don't block the way!"
"Shut up!" Gantu yelled. "If you two don't immediately sit down and keep your traps shut, I'm turning this ship around!"
Both 625 and Pleakley glanced at each other as they returned to their seats, their expressions agreeing on one thing. Gantu was a spoilsport.
Ignoring the two pouting passengers, Gantu directed his ship to an area where he could see that there was no civilisation. As the ship touched down gently on the ground, the hatch opened to let its passengers off the ship.
Gantu picked up 625 by the scruff of his neck and Pleakley by the collar, before he unceremoniously threw them both out. "Get off my ship! Bon voyage!" he shouted as the two landed with splashes in a small lake of water that the ship was parked next to.
"Wow!" a drenched Pleakley got up, looking upon the scenery in awe, not caring in the slightest that his blue Federation uniform would really need dry-cleaning. "Look at this! A real Earth waterfall!"
"No, stop! Not water!" 625 flailed about in panic. "Save me! Anything but water! Help me, I'll drown in this! Goodbye, cruel world..." 625 suddenly trailed off, stopping his panic as he discovered something off about the situation.
He was sitting down in the water.
And not sinking.
625 suddenly blushed in embarrassment, realising he had made a fool of himself by screaming about drowning in shallow water. The water was so shallow that his bum could feel the bottom of the miniature lake. Standing up shakily, he realised that he only waded in it knee-deep.
"Ahhaahahahah!" Gantu howled in laughter as he saw 625 losing his cool and humiliating himself. "Oh, that was rich! I should have taped that! Did you see your face? You look like those drama queens I see on TV! Hahaha!" he pounded the ground.
"Oh, you be quiet!" 625 complained, trying to save face. He was smart enough not to ask what Gantu meant by drama queen, knowing that Gantu would mock and jeer him even more than he already had. "M-My fur is soaked! I demand you apologise, Blubby!"
"I'll be orbiting this planet, so no funny business," Gantu smirked as he deliberately chose not to say he was sorry. "Hurry up and get that idiot scientist!" He closed the hatch before 625 could recover, determined that at least this time, he had managed to get the last laugh.
625 could only glare as the ship took up and flew out of sight, headed for the stratosphere. "Lousy blubber-butt jerk. Now I can't slack off!" he mumbled under his breath. "Hey, Pleakley!"
"Please wait," Pleakley replied, looking at a butterfly with his mouth wide open. "I'm observing this new natural species. Look at the precise wingspan it needs to stay airborne…"
625 sighed at Pleakley's response as he jumped to dry land. That Earth crazed-maniac was going to be acting this way for a while. As he brushed his matted fur down in a futile attempt to dry it, his mind was already on other thoughts.
"Gee, Jumba wasn't kidding when he said my mind was faster than a supercomputer. Think, 625, think! Where would Jumba be hiding? And more importantly, what would be the most efficient way to get him with the least amount of energy required?"
"Wow!" Pleakley shouted out loud, ruining 625's train of thought. "I think that there are more species of flora and fauna here than the entire rest of this space quadrant combined!"
As 625 stared at Pleakley, he broke out into a grin, rubbing his hands together in glee. Or maybe I don't even need to put in an ounce of energy to catch Jumba in the first place...
"Pleakley…" he repeated, turning his expression back to neutral so that the one-eyed alien didn't suspect anything, "Aren't you forgetting about Jumba?!"
"J-J-Jumba!" Pleakley stammered, all the colour draining from his face. "Oh, that's right! Who knows what that dangerous criminal could do to this beautiful planet?"
"That's right!" he said with mock sympathy. "If you don't stop him, he could wreak more havoc on this place than you can possibly imagine!"
"Oh no!" Pleakley's eye began looking around in panic. "We've got to stop him!"
"Oh, no, no, no! Not 'we'," 625 replied, "You."
"What?" Pleakley looked straight at 625. Did that experiment just try to pull a fast one on him? "Did I hear that right? Did you just say that I am the one that has to stop him?" He pointed his arm at the cocky experiment, sputtering. "What about you? You're supposed to be the one that catches Jumba!"
"Ah, but that was the case before you came along," he said, putting special emphasis on the word 'you'. Seeing that he had the reaction he wanted from Pleakley, he continued, "Now that we're a team and I ain't going into this alone, I wager that we change things up a bit! I think that from now on I will be the brains of the operation, which of courses leaves you to be the brawn," he winked before adding, "doing the dirty work."
"You're not the boss of me, you troublemaker!" Pleakley folded his arms. "I'm not gonna listen to a word you say!" There was no way he was going to let 625 take control of him! He was supposed to be looking after 625, not the other way round!
"Suit yourself, Pleakley," 625 shrugged, before a sly grin crept up onto his face. "But you the longer you resist my suggestion, the more time Jumba has to destroy this place."
Pleakley visibly gulped.
"Just think about it... an evil scientist let loose on poor, defenceless Earth. Maybe he might squish a mosquito," 625 clapped his hands together to simulate the motion, making Pleakley jerk back and divert his eyes. "Oh no, the endangered species might soon be extinct at this rate!"
"Stop! Stop! Stop!" Pleakley shook his head rapidly, trying to get the images 625 were projecting out of his head.
Pleakley's insistence to stop only made 625 continue. A smirk started to form on 625's face as Pleakley grew more and more afraid.
"Worse still, he's an evil scientist. And let me tell you, evil scientists love to gloat! So what if he reveals himself to the leaders in charge, blowing his cover? The humans of Earth would be—"
"Okay, okay!" Pleakley shouted, unable to handle Earth facing the consequences of the worse-case scenario 625 had just casually spoke about. "I'll do as you say! Anything to stop Jumba! We can't let that happen at all costs!"
625 gave a thumbs up to calm the frantic Pleakley down. "Glad to see you come around to my viewpoint, Pleak! Can I call you Pleak?"
"No! You little rascal! Don't you dare call me—"
"Great! That's your new nickname, Pleak!" The experiment combed his head antennas back, winking at Pleakley. "Since I know Jumba well, I'm going to come up with a game plan to catch him! All you need to do is follow through with them. We'll catch Jumba in no time!"
And by 'we', I mean you, Pleak! 625 tried his best not to laugh. I mean, that was way too easy! Just had to play on his fears. And now I get to slack off while he goes off and does all the hard work for me!
But before that, priorities! 625 took out his Galactic Federation bank card, starting to salivate at the thought of finally making some more sandwiches to eat. Where's the nearest supermarket?
"You are so dead when I find you, Lilo! Today's the day the new social worker is supposed to come in to check on us!"
Two minutes earlier, Nani had noticed an incessant ringing noise coming from Lilo's room. "Lilo, don't you know how to turn off your alarm clock?" she said with annoyance as she walked into her sister's room to turn off the loud alarm clock.
As it turned out, the alarm clock was only ringing since Lilo had snoozed it and hadn't actually turned it off. Normally this meant that Lilo was sleeping in.
Not this time.
To Nani's horror, her sister was gone.
And if the pillow by the windowside was any indication, Lilo had climbed out of the window and snuck out on her own.
Nani groaned. This definitely had to be because of the meteorite she had refused to let Lilo see yesterday night.
Realising that Lilo was probably in the forest, she ran to the door. On her way down the steps, she muttered under her breath. "When I find you, you're going to regret—"
Her eyes widened as she heard her sister's voice accompanied by knocks on the front door. She rushed down the remaining steps and unlocked the door, flinging it open.
"Lilo! You are in so much troubleeeee..." Nani shouted, before trailing off when she realised that her sister was not alone at the doorstep. "Please don't be him, please don't be him, please don't be him…" she prayed to multiple different Hawaiian deities before facing the person next to her sister.
"Good morning," the black-suited man began, "Are you the guardian of this child?" His voice turned low as he asked the question. The glint of the sunlight reflecting off his sunglasses somehow made him even more intimidating than he already was to Nani as the man stared straight at her, waiting for her reply.
"Uh... yes?" Nani answered hesitantly. Her face turned white as she started to have her suspicions as to where this conversation was headed.
Cobra took off his sunglasses, frowning. "My name is Cobra Bubbles. I happen to be the assigned social worker for this family."
Right then and there, Nani made up her mind that this was definitely not a good day.
This chapter is a bit of a cooldown after the previous one. Things will pick up again next chapter.
Yes, Gantu landed his ship in the same place it had crashed landed in canon at the end of Stitch! The Movie. I always liked that they went out of their way to animate that waterfall in virtually every episode when they could have saved work by having the ship crash-land in a boring, static valley.
Chapter 9: Five-Star Social Services
Chapter 9: Five-Star Social Services
"So," Cobra put his sunglasses back on, "are you going to let me into the house?"
"Yeah, sure," Nani mumbled, opening the door fully while simultaneously sending a death glare to Lilo. "Come in, I suppose..." she added, sighing in defeat.
There was no way Cobra was going to have a good impression of her now.
Not a chance.
Cobra walked through the front doorway with Lilo in tow, before taking a seat on a chair. "When I took her here, I heard Lilo call you Nani. By any chance, is your name Nani?" he tilted his head in mild curiosity.
"Yeah," she nodded, "I am Lilo's sister, Nani."
"Alright then. Now, I must inform you, Nani. The state sees you as not only Lilo's sister—as of last year, you were also your sister's legal guardian. You are aware of the role a guardian plays on a child's development, right?" Cobra continued speaking before even waiting for Nani's response. "A guardian is a legal ward that can make decisions on behalf of a minor, and above all else, be a caretaker for a young child like Lilo. I cannot stress how much responsibility is required to undertake such a daunting task." He frowned, looking back and forth between Lilo and Nani. "So, that leads me to my first question. Where exactly were you earlier?"
Nani cringed. Cobra wasn't going to like this answer, but since Lilo knew the truth, lying would backfire so hard that it wasn't worth it.
"I was asleep…"
"You were asleep," Cobra repeated, raising his eyebrows. He took out a notepad from his suit pocket, shaking his head along to those three words. Clicking his pen, he continued, "You were asleep and you had no idea about the whereabouts of your sister? Do you know where I found her, Nani? In the forest. Six-year-olds are curious little creatures. They can run surprisingly far from figures of authority." Nani just nodded along, groaning at the prospect of trying to weasel her way out of this. Why couldn't her sister make things easier for her by just keeping out of trouble?
"Anyway," Cobra stood up, gazing around the house, "I hope you don't mind if I have a look around this place. Where is Lilo's room?"
"Hey, Mister Cobra?" Lilo tugged on Cobra's suit, taking the man's attention off Nani for the first time since he stepped foot in their house. "Why do you want to see my room?" she asked out of curiosity. "I keep all my secret stuff in there," she lowered her voice to a whisper before adding, "like my practical voodoo kit."
"Practical Voodoo Kit?" Cobra shook his head in sheer disbelief. "I'm sorry, but did I hear that correctly?"
"She's just joking!" Nani immediately rebuked before Lilo had the chance to reply, "What a lovely sense of humour my sister has!" she added, hoping Cobra would buy it.
"What lovely humour, indeed. Now I've decided that I want to see her room for myself." Cobra crouched down to Lilo's eye level, unconvinced. "Lilo, can I see your room?"
"Okay," Lilo answered. "It's right up the stairs! Come on!" she said with excitement in her voice as she skipped up the stairs. "I'll lead you straight to it!"
As Cobra followed the enthusiastic Lilo, Nani trudged along behind, trying her best not to wring her fingers out of frustration. She prayed in vain that maybe, just maybe, the Hawaiian deities would have mercy on her and turn this meeting around.
Although judging by her luck, probably not. Those same deities probably had some grudge against her, just for their comedic amusement. I know you all hate me, she screamed silently.
"Ta-da! This is my room!" Lilo beamed as she led Cobra into the small room.
Cobra gazed around, taking note of every minute detail. "Is it always this messy?" he asked, noticing the pile of pillows near the window.
"Not usually. It was only like that today because I climbed out of the window," she shrugged, not noticing Nani cringe from her response.
"The window… alright, I won't question that," Cobra took out his pen again to jot down more pointers to Nani's chagrin.
"And this is Scrump!" Lilo said as she held up a small green doll with a bow in her hand. Cobra observed that "Scrump" was hand stitched and looked very unlike what a regular doll would look like.
"Scrump, meet Mister Bubbles. He's a nice guy."
"So it's an imaginary companion you have around?" Cobra questioned.
"Scrump isn't imaginary!" Lilo retorted. "She's right there!" she said, physically pointing to the doll. "She just... doesn't talk much. I am usually the only one that talks to Scrump."
"So... you mean something like ventriloquism?"
"Like what?" Lilo cocked her head, puzzled. "I'm sorry, but I don't understand that word."
"Puppets," Cobra clarified in simpler English so that a young child like Lilo could understand. "It involves throwing your voice so a dummy appears they're talking."
"Yeah, that sounds cool!" she smiled. "But I don't throw my voice for Scrump! She really talks back to me, and I like talking to Scrump too. Scrump'll always listen to me."
Cobra perked up. "Really? How?"
"Yep! I know what Scrump is saying when she replies because I can hear her! I tell her stories all the time!"
Cobra's face took on a contemplative expression. "She feels alone, lonely enough to create her own voice in her head she projects as an imaginary friend to talk to. Such an environment is not conducive to a young and impressionable six year old girl," he scribbled down his thoughts onto the notepad, right before something unusual caught his eye.
"What is a jar of pickles doing there?"
"Oh, the pickle jar?" she pointed, "That's part of the creepy voodoo stuff I have! I use it to punish my friends when they—"
"Funny joke, right?" Nani interjected. When it came to Lilo, her hearing was extremely sharp. "I mean, the whole voodoo thing, it's so funny! After all, it's Hawaiian culture to—"
"The intent for harm is there," he responded curtly, countering Nani's argument. Nani closed her mouth, knowing that Cobra had figured everything out and saying anything else would be futile. With a sigh, Cobra placed the notepad and pen back into his suit. "I think I've seen enough here. Lilo, you stay here, okay?"
"Alright!" she replied, not aware of the reason why Nani looked so tired and resigned. "You have fun! I'm going to talk with Scrump about the falling star!"
"Nani," Cobra signalled as he shut Lilo's room door, "Come with me downstairs. We need to talk."
"Ohhhhhhhh!" 626 grinned, unable to contain his excitement at the sight in front of him.
A glorious hotel resort stood tall in his line of vision. So big, so orderly, so systematic! He chuckled to himself, his mind already thinking of ways to cause trouble.
As he walked up the steps to the entrance, a bellboy suddenly blocked his path. "Hey, no dogs allowed," the bellboy said, waving his arm to try to shoo 626 away, unaware that the blue creature in front of him wasn't really a "dog".
In response, 626 showed the bellboy the sharp claws on his arms, daring him to make a move. As the bellboy froze in fright, he began to smile devilishly and started to walk towards the still man. The fear in the bellboy's eyes as he slowly approached was one 626 relished.
Oh, how he lived for this, knowing that he was all powerful and that these puny beings would eventually end up grovelling at his feet for mercy. It was the experiment's salvation. He was the destroyer of cities, no, of worlds! It was what he was made for, what he lived for!
Eventually the bellboy could take no more. As 626 went closer and closer, he suddenly noticed 626's two extra limbs and ran off, screaming like a baby. "Help! A mutated stray dog is about to maul me! Someone call security! Save me!"
626 only laughed in response, barging through the double front doors without further resistance and walked straight into the lobby of the building. He began to grow excited as he saw the interior of the hotel.
The first floor of the place was basically like a small shopping complex, filled with hundreds of shoppers. The hotel facilities consisted of a bank, fine dining restaurants, some amusement park rides and potted plants with statues around purely for scenery and decoration.
Where should meega start, he thought, as his brain processed everything in his surroundings. However, before he could make his decision, he felt something hard jab into his back.
"Don't run, don't call for help, and don't be making any sudden moves."
626 felt a twinge of fear, recognising the voice from behind him. It took him less than a second to realise what the object that poked his back was. He only hissed in response, knowing he was trapped.
"Hush now, six-two-six!" Jumba admonished, almost like he was speaking to a young child instead of a dangerous genetic experiment. "I might have made you fireproof, but plasma shot from blaster at point-blank would still deal significant damage to you. Jumba would prefer if we avoid that unfortunate situation. After all, I do not think you would want to be shot, am I right?" he asked rhetorically. Seeing as he only got more gnarling from 626, he continued his demands. "Let's not draw any attention to you. Retract your lower limbs."
He obliged, sucking his two lower arms into his body. At least that demand was reasonable and easy, unlike what Jumba had wanted last night at the crash site.
"Now you will be following me to hotel check-in area. We will be looking and playing the part of two tourists. No one will be suspecting anything amiss." He jabbed the plasma blaster to 626's back again. "As long as you don't try anything funny!"
As much as 626 wanted to knock the plasma blaster aimed at his back away, he calculated that Jumba's reaction time would be faster than the time he would need to turn around and grab the blaster, which meant that he was guaranteed to be shot if he retaliated right now. Stewing, he obeyed his creator for now, following him to a couch, accepting that he would need to wait for a better opportunity to get away unscathed.
As the two sat down together, 626 found that he was no longer at Jumba's front. Seeing that he could finally look at Jumba, he turned to his left and was surprised to see that his creator had drastically changed his appearance. The scientist had ditched his lab coat for a local yellow shirt and baggy pants, with a pair of goofily large sunglasses covering his four eyes. Although his right arm was holding the plasma blaster, his left was holding up a newspaper, albeit upside down. In short, Jumba looked and played the part of a local tourist. The only thing that wasn't human at all was the very-alien plasma gun, conveniently obscured from prying eyes and closed-circuit cameras by the newspaper carried in Jumba's free arm.
"What do you think, six-two-six? Ingenious local disguise, no?" Jumba asked with a smile.
"Naga," 626 stuck his tongue out. If he was going to be his creator's hostage, then he was going to make Jumba as miserable as possible while the scientist played the role of captor.
"Do not be spoilsport," Jumba replied, slightly upset over 626's remark. "Jumba had gone through considerable amount of trouble to disguise myself."
"Why do yuuga even need disguise?!" 626 glared at his creator. "This place full of weaklings, so yuuga have no need to spy!"
"It is not spying that is problem. It is stupid Galactic Federation that is big trouble for Jumba!" Jumba clenched his left hand in anger, accidentally crumpling part of the newspaper. "When you and Hamsterviel set off via hyperspace from Galaxy Defence Industries, you unintentionally made the grave error of taking me along with you, making me violate my curfew bail terms. It is partially your fault," he grimaced, taking a cold, hard stare at 626, "After all, you were the one who set off ten second countdown. Now all my planning has gone to waste, since I am once again wanted by Galactic Council. They will hunt me down for breaking bail terms, and if they catch me they will be locking me up for very long time. That would be very significant problem, so Jumba no want that! Hence for the past few hours, I had been thinking about how to escape their bounty, and have come to one conclusion. I need you, my glorious six-two-six, to help me stand a chance fighting against those pesky annoyances," he stated, prodding the experiment with his blaster.
Sensing that Jumba was open to a more amiable conversation, 626 decided to stop beating about the bush and ask the one question he was genuinely interested to know. "Then how yuuga know that meega would be here?"
"Hahahaha! You are thinking that Jumba is mind reader? So naive," Jumba chuckled at 626's query. "Jumba know you better than you know yourself, six-two-six. I programmed you to be causing destruction to largest cities of my planet of choice!" Jumba then sheepishly lowered his voice, changing the topic. "Of course, I did not happen to choose this planet by choice, which leads to very interesting scenario. Normally I would never, ever be sending you to planet like this. And why is that, you may ask?"
"Isa no challenge!" 626 took a wild guess, "People here all cowards!" It seemed like a legitimate reason at the least. He felt that this place would be a cinch to take over for him, hardly worthy of his talents.
"Not at all, six-two-six," Jumba grinned, disagreeing with his answer. "In fact, it is quite the opposite. This place would actually be a challenge for you to take over completely."
"Pffft," 626 scoffed, not believing Jumba's words for a second.
"Do you want to be making bet on this?" Jumba challenged, amused. "I have spent the past few hours researching everything I can about this pitiful little place, and have found out something unique. Turns out that Planet Earth is approximately only thirty percent land! The remainder seventy percent is the problem. Unfortunately for you, my little experiment, that means that you have a weakness here, one I can exploit!"
"Gaba?" 626's ears flopped down. "Meega have weakness?! What weakness?"
"Water," Jumba spat. Somehow, just him saying that one word caused 626 to involuntarily shudder. "Water is your weakness. Your molecular density is too much dense compared to water. Now, if you were to fall into something like mercury, you might float. But water? You will be sinking to bottom and drown!"
626 shivered, contemplating the scenario and instantly deciding that sinking and drowning was definitely not how he intended to go down in the slightest.
"As it turns out," Jumba continued, smiling slightly as he saw 626 flinch in fear, "to my great fortune, Hamsterviel's ship has crash landed on island of Kauai, completely water-locked from any big civilisation!" 626 flinched back as Jumba told him this new information, not liking the idea of having a small audience to witness his destructive programming. The experiment had wanted a crowd of screaming innocents, not a mere handful!
Jumba grinned slightly as he saw 626 at a loss of words, unable to comprehend the increasingly stacked odds against him. "Ah, you are finally getting situation now. The navigation system in your brain turned you away from the coast because this island is surrounded by water, and therefore your instincts would have driven you to the largest landmark in this pathetic tiny town," he laughed, as 626 scowled in realisation. "So all I had to be doing was look up what the largest hallmark is, and I got my answer. The hotel resort that is standing right here is largest and most important building in this 'Kokaua Town'. And my theory was proven correct, since you were indeed drawn to this place. So now you get how Jumba knew that you were here, six-two-six? Ain't I clever?!" he finished with a confident smile, the sort professors give when they are done giving a lecture to their students.
626 clapped his hands together slowly, in a mocking fashion. Despite his sarcasm, he was actually impressed by Jumba's explanation. If he was a bystander instead of being the target of Jumba's hypothesis, the praise he gave Jumba would have actually been genuine. 626 made a mental note to be very careful around him in the future. Underestimating his creator would be a bad idea since it became rapidly obvious that Jumba knew much more about him than he had originally thought. Keeping secrets like that meant that Jumba could pull sudden trump cards on him at any moment.
After 626 stopped his clapping, there was an uncomfortable silence, with both the experiment and mad scientist staring at each other, waiting for the other to talk. At this point, to unsuspecting tourists, they actually looked like a tourist and dog, with the exception of the alien gun that one was pointing at the other, obscured conveniently by the newspaper.
"Ahem," Jumba coughed, "Let us cut a deal, six-two-six. You do not know dangers of what will happen if round metal container remains inside of you. Please, Jumba beg you, allow me to be cutting you in half."
"Naga," 626 responded, refusing to back down on Jumba's demand. "Inga tu smeeshta!"
"I'll put you back together again!" Jumba's eyes flickered with desperation. "Just trust me, I promise that you will be unhurt! I know you inside-out, right down to the last molecule! I made you!"
626 contemplated, before shaking his head vigorously. "Naga means naga!" he said, his tone firm in conviction.
Jumba sighed. Of course it had to come down to this. "So you want to be playing it hard to get, eh?" his face turned grim. "Fine, looks like I'll just have to be knocking you out cold with this blaster!" he declared, preparing to fire.
626 had been waiting for this.
Jumba's mistake was changing his original position from being behind 626 to being beside him when they sat down on the couch, which gave him a chance to counter Jumba when he fired.
Throughout the entire conversation, he had waited for the moment where Jumba would threaten him with the blaster. 626 had to time it just right. A second too early and Jumba would catch on to his plan. A second too late and he would be hit by burning plasma.
Wait for it, wait for it... Now!
Right as Jumba squeezed the trigger, 626 performed a roundhouse kick at the blaster, knocking the barrel upwards with his feet. Caught by surprise, Jumba couldn't block his hit and the green plasma fired upwards, hitting the ceiling.
Before Jumba could finish his sentence, 626 spat right into his face. With mucus and saliva all over his sunglasses, Jumba's vision was completely blurred. Unable to see a thing due to the goop, he was forced to drop the newspaper and take off his sunglasses, cleaning them with his shirt. As he did so, 626 scurried away from the couch, hiding out of sight using the crowd.
"So much for subterfuge," he muttered, putting the sunglasses back on after wiping them clean. "Where did you go, six-two-six?" he asked, raising his voice. He was starting to attract attention around the lobby, with many people wondering what the commotion was about. "Ha! You are definitely a sneaky one, using your spit as a distraction. But you can't stop me now! I know you are somewhere in this hotel lobby! There's no point hiding! I will find you, and when I do—"
"Yuuga forgot about plasma shot, Jumba?" came 626's voice from elsewhere across the hotel lobby. "Look out above!"
"Now, what does that mean?" Jumba pondered, before suddenly hearing a snapping noise from the ceiling. "What the…" he started, looking up, before gasping out loud, as all four of his eyes stared at the rapidly increasing black shadow that fell across his face. Less than a second later, he was hit directly by fifty pounds of metal before he even had time to yell. The golden chandelier hanging from the top of the hotel lobby ceiling had snapped and fallen down right onto the mad scientist after its support was chipped by the plasma shot, exactly as 626 had planned it.
A second later, realisation dawned across the other hotel guests. Screams were heard all throughout the lobby as panicked tourists fled the scene, not wishing to the next unfortunate person squished like a pancake.
"Earthquake! The place's collapsing! Things are falling! Run!"
"Someone was just crushed in the rubble, dude! We gotta get out of here!"
"I think I left my luggage behind!"
"Forget the luggage, let's just scram!"
"B-but my passport!"
"Do you want your passport or your life, doofus?!"
The experiment chuckled at the chaos before slinking away, unseen and unnoticed amidst the commotion.
Barely ten seconds after the chandelier fell to the ground, the entire hotel check-in area was empty. As a result, no one saw Jumba crawling out of the twisted metal, clutching his head in agony. "Curse you, six-two-six!" he shouted to a deserted lobby, "Sure, I must be admitting that redirecting my shot to cause chandelier to fall on me was brilliant and evil plan. But still, curse you!"
"I'm so sorry!" a man in a pink shirt apologised, running into the ruined lobby. "Were you the one hit by that falling chandelier?"
Jumba almost wanted to hit the man for that stupid question. Calming down, he answered as calmly as one could possibly manage when they had just been crushed by a pile of metal. "As you can probably see from the scratches on my face and half-torn clothing, yes."
"Oh my, that's nasty!" the man cringed as he walked closer. "Do you need an ambulance?"
"I'm fine! I do not need no ambulance!" Jumba was almost insulted by the man's offer. Does random human actually think that Jumba would be requiring visit to hospital? Pah, looks like humans are much more fragile than Jumba originally thought!
"Sorry, I must apologise. You see, I'm the owner of the Birds of Paradise Hotel, Mr. Jameson." He reached his arm out toward Jumba's for a handshake, hoping to make amends. "I assure you, we will fully investigate the cause for that falling chandelier. I will take full responsibility for compensation of your injuries. A full investigation will be carried out and proper measures put up to prevent a repeat incident from happening again."
"Bah, you be getting out of my way!" Jumba glared at Mr. Jameson, declining his handshake by shoving his hand away. Due to Jumba's size, the shove accidentally caused Mr. Jameson to fall to the ground as well. "Jumba does not wish to be reimbursed, not when my priceless experiment is getting away from me!" Without any warning, the injured Jumba broke into a run for the exit, finally recovering from his dizziness enough to resume his chase with 626.
"But, sir... Sir!" Mr. Jameson got up, trying to chase Jumba. "You're injured! At least let me call the hospital!" The hotel owner eventually gave up his run when he saw Jumba dashing out of the hotel, unwilling to listen to him. Turning to a bellboy, he spoke in a tired tone, "Don't just stand there, get a cleanup crew. I have a feeling that tourist won't be coming back to Birds of Paradise for the rest of his life," he moped, upset by how he had handled the situation. "There goes our five-star rating. I can't wait for the tabloids to get their mits on this one…"
"Anything else, Mr. Jameson?" the bellboy asked.
"Tell finance department to order a new chandelier immediately." Just as the bellboy was about to leave, Mr. Jameson took one step forward and raised his voice, making the poor unfortunate bellboy tremble. "And add a personal memo from me — make sure that it WON'T fall on my paying tourists again!"
As the bellboy ran off for help, Mr. Jameson just stared at the wrecked remains of his hotel lobby before he straightened his collar.
"I swear, this is just another one of those batty days..." he muttered under his breath, clenching his eyes shut to avoid seeing the carnage.
"Look, I can explain," Nani began as she and Cobra walked down the stairs to the living room.
"Don't try to give me any excuses." Cobra cut her off with a wave of his hand. "I must say, Nani. I am not happy by what I have seen here today," he spoke bluntly as he sat back down on a chair.
"Don't call me that," he snapped. "I don't particularly like my last name."
"Oh, uh, sorry about that. But—"
"Let's get straight to the point. We should discuss the elephant in the room," Cobra interrupted. "When did Lilo start acting this way?"
Nani fidgeted, kicking her feet around, "She's always been different, but things escalated ever since a year ago…"
"Ever since both your parents passed away, leaving the two of you as orphans," Cobra finished. Seeing Nani's shocked face, he decided to clarify how he knew this crucial information. "I've read your file, I'm very aware of your family situation. Ever since a fatal car accident one year ago, you've had to drop out of school to support yourself, as well as your younger sister." Cobra pulled off his sunglasses, locking his eyes with Nani as he asked his question. "So then, Nani. Tell me the truth. Do you feel that you are an acceptable replacement for your parents to Lilo?"
Nani opened her mouth to speak, but nothing could come out.
Seeing Nani speechless, Cobra leaned back onto the chair. "I thought so."
"Look, I know what you're going to say, Mr Cobra—"
"Please, just Cobra." Before Nani could continue, Cobra held up a finger to silence her. "Let me make this situation clear, Nani. Your sister is currently not in the best situation. From what I've seen, she is socially outcast. She's so lonely that she even talks to her doll like it's her imaginary friend. This harsh environment is not good for a growing child. I'm sure you understand, right?"
Nani nodded. Despite the fact that Cobra was reprimanding her, she accepted his criticism solely because he had hit the nail on the head. Unlike the previous social workers, all of which had dismissed Lilo as a raving lunatic upon seeing her behaviour, Cobra was patient and observant and as a result, had been the first to figure both sisters out completely.
"I'm currently stationed here in Kauai on business for about a month—" he suddenly kept his lip shut, almost as if he had said too much. Shaking his head once to regain composure, Cobra then changed his posture, leaning towards Nani to reassert his authority. "Hence, I'm going to give you that same amount of time to pull yourself together and prove to me that you are capable of being Lilo's legal guardian. If I do not see progress by the end of four weeks, I will be forced to take corrective measures."
"Corrective measures?!" Nani almost yelled. This couldn't be happening! Lilo had driven away countless other social workers with her weird quirks over the past year, but not once had a single one of them ever brought this up as an option.
On the other hand, most of those social workers weren't even trained or competent in the slightest. Heck, most of them didn't even have a relevant Bachelor's Degree.
"Yes, corrective measures," Cobra repeated to confirm. "If it is necessary, I will step in and make adjustments to correct the situation as I deem fit." His voice lowered to a grovel as he next spoke, "I'll let you be the judge of what I mean by that."
Nani swallowed hard, breaking out into a cold sweat. She had a pretty good idea as to what Cobra was implying, but wisely chose not to say anything. She gripped her seat tightly, struggling to stay calm and maintain a neutral expression. I can't take this much longer, she thought.
Cobra stood up and strolled towards the front door. "For the next couple of weeks, I will be back at random to check on your progress. The next time I visit, I expect to see some improvement." Before he closed the door, he added, "For your sake, and Lilo's."
The moment the door swung shut, Nani's facade broke. She immediately ran up to Lilo's room, face in her hands.
Up in her room, Lilo was talking to Scrump, blissfully unaware of what had happened downstairs.
"...and that was when Mertle used up the last of the three wishes the falling star had. Do you know what her last wish was, Scrump?" she lowered her voice to a whisper, eyes darting around as if she expected Mertle to hear her and storm into her room. "Her final wish was to be an all-powerful tormenting genie!"
Suddenly, her door flew open and Nani burst into her room.
"Nani!" Lilo exclaimed, "Don't interrupt Scrump time! I'm telling her about…" she suddenly trailed off upon taking a closer look at her sister.
"Are you crying?"
This chapter's a bit more on the emotionally heavy side.
This is just what I personally think, but I feel that Lilo makes up Scrump's replies in her head during her chats with Scrump. Before she met Stitch, Scrump is literally Lilo's only "friend", the only one she can talk and relate to besides her sister. The doll is sort of like a companion cube, so to speak. To further reinforce this, before Stitch is about to leave for space in Leroy and Stitch, Lilo talks to Scrump again, almost as though it's back to the status quo.
Chapter 10: Parasol in Paradise
Chapter 10: Parasol in Paradise
As the two sat down on the bed, Lilo started to gently pat Nani's shoulder so that she could comfort her. "Are you okay? What's wrong?" she asked her older sister in a soft, concerned voice.
Hearing Lilo's concern, Nani slowly stopped her sobbing, regaining control of herself. "Oh, Lilo… I almost thought I lost you."
"Why?" Lilo asked curiously. "Scrump and I are right here."
"No, no! I don't mean losing you physically! I mean the social worker," she answered, "Cobra… he says that I'm not good enough. He's giving me a month to prove to him that I can take care of you or he'll… take you away."
"What?!" Lilo gaped in confusion. "Mr. Bubbles can't take me away from you! How can he do something like that?"
"It's his job, Lilo. A social worker's job is to make sure that—"
"Well then, he's wrong! He's as wrong as Mertle!" Lilo retorted. "You're the best sister I could ever ask for!"
"No, no, I admit that it's true. I'm not the best sister in the world." Nani was forced to admit, spitting out the words harshly as though they were sour lemons. "When he spoke to me, I was forced reflect on everything I did last night. And upon reflecting, I realised that taking you home against your will was the reason you ran away in the first place. None of this would have happened if I made a reasonable compromise… I guess I'm not cut up for this whole parenting stuff, huh?" she finished, giving a small choked laugh.
Lilo began to feel extremely guilty as she realised that the reason Nani was in hot water was because of her own selfish actions. "I'm sorry I ran away… I didn't mean to cause you any trouble…" she said, trying to reassure her sister.
"I know you didn't, Lilo." Nani hugged Lilo, trying to console her fears, "But sometimes actions speak louder than words. Your actions showed that you weren't willing to compromise, that you really wanted to see that…'falling star'." She smiled at her sister's innocence, describing a falling space rock as the ancient "star that fell from the heavens" story. "I had been afraid that it was dangerous, but perhaps I should have seen it from your point of view. You were right, I guess. A falling meteorite—"
"Falling star!" Lilo corrected enthusiastically.
"Alright, Lilo. You got me, it's not a falling meteorite, it's a falling star," Nani corrected with a sly grin on her face. "So as I was saying, a falling star would really be an once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, huh? Something you couldn't possibly miss."
"Yeah, and to be honest…" Lilo put her palms together in prayer, closing her eyes in bliss. "The reason I wanted to make a wish on the falling star is because I just… want someone that's always there for me. Someone who would never leave me behind or abandon me. I wanted the star to send me an angel, just like a fairy tale."
"Oh, darling… I'm sorry," Nani swallowed hard, hearing her sister's words. "I'm so sorry you feel this way. I… I never was there for you enough, was I?"
Lilo's bright brown eyes widened at Nani's words. "No!" she denied, "you were always there for me!"
"Lilo, don't lie to me." Nani looked her sister right in the eye, causing Lilo to look away in discomfort. "I've been your sister for years. I can tell when you're fibbing. The social worker is right. I never was as good as Mum and Dad…" She looked down in shame at her own admittance. There, she finally said it out loud. For the past year ever since that fateful car accident, she was forced to take care of Lilo all by herself. She had attempted to fill the footsteps of giants, trying to pick up and salvage what was left of their broken family.
Of their broken 'ohana.
But all of that had to eventually reach a tipping point. It wasn't easy for a teenager to take care of a growing child in the slightest. Coupled with the fact that she had to juggle a job with her caretaking duties, and there was a very good reason the government had kept sending social workers over to check on them. Finally, after Cobra's harsh words, Nani was forced to admit that she had been lying to herself all along.
Cobra was right, she really couldn't do enough. Despite everything, she couldn't manage take care of her sister. And now, her own sister could be taken away from her, and there was nothing she could do except buck up.
But could she pick up the pieces of their family and prove Cobra wrong? Or was that nothing but an optimistic, fleeting dream? She didn't know, and truth be told she wasn't sure if she wanted to know the answer.
"Nani?" Lilo broke the silence tentatively.
"Yes?" Nani responded, fearful of what Lilo might want to add. After all, she had all but admitted that she hadn't done enough to take care of Lilo.
"I like you more as a sister than a mother," Lilo stated matter-of-factly.
That simple response put it all in perspective. Of course! It was so simple that Nani was tempted to bash her head into the wall for overthinking everything once again, but refrained from doing so at the last minute in case Lilo misunderstood the situation and called the ambulance. Again. Once was enough, she wasn't going to explain a misunderstanding to the emergency services yet another time.
Lilo was saying that no matter what, she felt like she had done enough for her. Not as a parental guardian, but as a sister.
Mahalo, Lilo. You won't be disappointed. I'll take this second chance and use it well!
Nani made up her mind. As a sister, she would start to pay more attention to her. A journey of a thousand miles began with a simple step. Lilo was right. She might not be there yet, but that didn't mean she couldn't try. She would show Cobra, no, the whole of Kauai, that she was qualified to be Lilo's guardian. And she would start by her sister's wish. A guardian angel. One that would always be there for Lilo even if she couldn't physically be.
"Lilo," she started, "can you please change out of your nightgown? I'm going to bring you somewhere to make for this."
"Sure!" Lilo perked up, finally relieved to see her sister recover from her moping. "Let me change into my favourite red dress!"
"Don't take too long." Nani smiled as she walked out of her sister's room to give her privacy.
She knew the perfect place to get just that "guardian angel" for her sister. No longer would Lilo be alone.
And that was a promise she intended to keep.
"Woah! Woah! Sorry, I'm fragile! Ignore me!"
Pleakley continued to yelp, weaving and trying to dodge a sudden stream of people who burst out of the Birds of Paradise hotel without warning. He had been waiting right outside the main entrance at 625's request. The experiment had asked him to head over to the Birds of Paradise hotel, saying that Jumba would most likely be there to cause trouble since it had a large population of humans. Pleakley had initially scoffed at the suggestion, namely because he still thought that 625 was a rascal, but in the end he relented. After all, there was really nothing he could do. 625 was right — every extra second Jumba spent on this planet meant an extra second of alien interference to the eco-biodiversity. If Jumba wasn't brought back into custody soon, Earth might be wrecked beyond repair, courtesy of one mad scientist. As a result, he swallowed his pride and agreed to 625's plan.
Now as Pleakley struggled to avoid being trampled by a stampeding mess of screaming tourists, he regretted listening to a single word that yellow cocky experiment had to say. 625 had mentioned that Jumba would most likely be at the most popular location, which made sense. What didn't make sense was why all those humans were rushing at him.
I don't wanna be trampled! They're messing up my beautiful attire! This is all six-two-five's fault, that little monster must have known this would happen! I bet he was hoping it would too! Well, jokes on him, at least I managed to blend in perfectly with the humans in this society, thanks to my ingenious disguise! As long as I minimize contact with the native humans in the future, I can make any potential disruption to their closed society virtually non-existent!
As the last of the humans were gone, an irritated Pleakley fumbled with his attire, crumpled amidst all the shoving. "Darn! I just bought this attire too! Now I need to iron it!" Before he could straighten his attire, he had a new menacing voice addressing him from the hotel entrance.
"Who are you, and what are you doing here?! You are not native to this planet!"
Pleakley gulped, coming face-to-face with someone he most definitely did not want to meet. He'd been briefed about the mission by the Grand Councilwoman and Gantu. With a sinking heart, he instantly recognised the escaped criminal Jumba, standing barely three feet away from him.
Gah! This was so, so, so, so, so not good! Pleakley mentally cursed his bad luck at the turn of events. What were the chances that he would end up running straight into Jumba himself? All he had wanted to do was a stakeout, not an actual meeting with the infamous Jumba. "U-uh, well, uh, you see, uh, um…" he stumbled on his words, tongue-tied. Far too late he realised that trying to think of a plausible reason as to why an alien would be on a protected planet that wouldn't be an obvious lie would be much harder that he had assumed.
However, before he could think of a reasonable response, Jumba gazed at him warily. "Wait… are you with Galactic Federation?" he asked, narrowing his eyes.
"Yes!" Pleakley exclaimed, before hastily backtracking upon realising the implications of what he just said. "Wait, I mean no! I mean, I'm not-gah!"
"Speak normal, you speak too fast! I can't understand a word you're saying!"
"I'm Galactic Federation, yeah, but!" he raised his voice when Jumba's face turned dark, "But I'm actually on leave, yeah! I ain't supposed to be here on anything important!" Pleakley lied through his teeth, hoping that Jumba wouldn't suspect a thing.
Please, please, please, just let him be so socially inept because of his science obsession that he can't tell that someone like me is lying, Pleakley pleaded to himself. I'm not that good at lying at all. Oh no! What if he's a living polygraph? If that's the case, I am so finished! Momma and all my siblings will be at my funeral! And the worst part is that he could get rid of me easily, and no one will ever know. Oh, the irony! My first time on Earth would also be my last! I will never ever get to explore the rest of Earth at all! This is some kind of sick joke the universe is playing on me, losing everything in the one planet that I spent years of my life trying to visit—
"Hey!" Jumba yelled, disrupting Pleakley's panicked train of thought. "Are you spacing out on me?!"
"Yeep!" Pleakley jumped. "No, I didn't. I was, uh, just thinking about stuff! Yeah, stuff! Regular stuff, that is, you know, nothing important at all!"
Jumba smiled eerily at Pleakley's response. "So, you are not a part of the police? You know, the famous Galactic Armada?" he trawled, treading carefully with his prompt.
Seizing the chance, Pleakley decided to tell a half-truth. "Oh, yes. I'm no Armada soldier. All I am is an expert on Planet Earth! I was sent here to investigate this ecology system of this delicate planet! Heh heh!" Pleakley laughed, chuckling nervously as Jumba eyed him with suspicion. At least it wasn't a complete lie, he really was an Earth expert in the Federation. Jumba didn't need to know the rest though.
Amazingly, it looks as though Jumba appeared to have bought it. The scientist's formerly cautious expression was now replaced with one of relief. "Oh, it's nothing. So, expert on this planet, eh? Jumba is curious. What is your name?"
"Pleakley! My name's Age-I mean, Pleakley!" Pleakley started sweating, hoping that Jumba hadn't caught him out. He had almost introduced himself as "Agent Pleakley", which would have blown his cover sky high.
"Pleakley, huh? That is a nice name," Jumba said. From his mundane response, it appeared that he had missed Pleakley's slip-up. "So then, Pleakley, just out pure curiosity, nothing sinister or anything, but where is your spaceship?"
A spaceship? Oh no! He's looking for an escape route! Wait, what am I complaining about?! Him trying to get away is a good thing! This means that he won't be on this planet anymore!
But if he gets away, then Captain Gantu will be on me! The Federation will court martial me for gross incompetence if they know that I'm responsible. But on the other hand, I can't just let him stay here! He'll destroy this beautiful, delicate planet! Maybe with I can convince Gantu to take him off… oh wait.
Pleakley almost facepalmed when he realised that his only way off the planet was Captain Gantu's spaceship, which meant that there was no way he could sneak Jumba away. There was no chance the Galactic Armada captain would take him off the planet unless it's to prison, and there was no way Jumba would be dumb enough to fall for such an obvious trap.
Oh, darn! Since he couldn't explain where the spaceship was, how was he going to explain how he got here to Jumba now?! He couldn't just say that he teleported to Earth, Jumba would never buy such an outlandish lie.
Pleakley forced a smile as he tried his best to come up with an excuse on the fly. "Well, sure, as I said, I am a Federation Earth expert. But I'm um, not here on business! Yeah, I'm actually here on vacation, and uh, the yeah, tour group left without me. I accidentally stayed behind! So I needed to wait for the next intergalactic bus carrier service to pick me up! Yeah, that's it!"
There was silence for a few seconds as Jumba tried to process what he had just heard.
"Hm, are you sure you are not being with Galactic Armada section of Federation?" Jumba was starting to get suspicious now, and with good reason.
Pleakley gulped as Jumba hit the nail on the head. Sure, he actually wasn't an Armada soldier, but because of 625 and the Grand Councilwoman, he was basically considered an undercover Armada spy! "I swear I'm not!" he denied, a little too loudly. "You see, that's why I'm not wearing that Federation uniform. All active United Federation agents have to wear that all the time. You know, that standard-issue one for those rank-and-file foot soldiers…"
"Wait a minute!"
Pleakley panicked at Jumba's objection, resisting the urge to flee as fast as his three legs could carry him. Had Jumba noticed a fatal contradiction with what he had just said? Did he figure out that his real mission of being an undercover Federation agent? Oh, it was all over! He shut his eye firmly, preparing for the worst.
"What exactly… are you wearing?"
"Huh?" Pleakley opened his eye in surprise. This wasn't exactly what he was expecting.
"Is that… a dress?" Jumba was raising all four of his eyebrows in disbelief. His lips were curled slightly upwards in mild amusement at the sheer stupidity of what Pleakley was wearing.
Pleakley heaved a sigh in relief when he realised he was safe after all. It turned out all his response had ended up doing was cause Jumba to suddenly notice the outlandish attire that he was dressed in. He immediately set forth to divert to the topic in this new direction, determined to distract Jumba from asking any more Galactic Federation questions. "Neat, eh? It's my disguise!" he said, simultaneously performing a curtsy.
The curtsy did its job alright. As Jumba was unprepared, Pleakley's gesture ended up making him cringe. "T-t-take that ridiculous piece of garment off! Do you want to be noticed by everyone?!"
"This coming from you? Your disguise to fit in with the local humans is a local yellow shirt with sunglasses! I say you stand out as much as a four-eyed alien on a planet filled mainly with two-eyed species!"
There was a pause as the two aliens realised the irony of what was just said. Jumba folded his arms and gave a weird stare at Pleakley when he realised that the one-eye alien had shot himself in the foot with his own argument.
Pleakley chuckled nervously when he had a sudden epiphany — that he hadn't found a way to disguise his single eye yet. Whoops, gotta find some shades for that. "Well," he started, "What I mean to say is, don't be a hypocrite, your disguise for blending in isn't the best, so you have no right to be calling mine lousy."
"But your disguise is another story altogether! This t-t-thing—" he spluttered uncomfortably, "—is all pink and cute and frilly! You stand out as much as an intergalactic rock star! Get away from me!"
"Come on! You're just jealous because I'm pretty!" Pleakley pouted, making Jumba back away from him slightly. "Admit it! This is a great disguise!"
"Yes, it is good disguise," Jumba conceded, "but not for the reason you think! And please for the love of Turo, s-stop twirling that parasol!" he spat out, trying his best to look away from the sight.
Pleakley now smirked, realising that the tables had completely turned against Jumba. "Come on, there's nothing wrong with wearing a dress! People do it on TV all the time!"
"What those foolish people in entertainment industry would do for quick money is a separate matter for another time… wait a minute, why am I arguing with you on this? I am having no time for this!" Jumba gnashed his teeth, determined to immediately put an end to this very awkward conversation. "You're an embarrassment! Jumba is getting out of here, you coot!" He turned around to leave, headed towards a car parked at the hotel's doorstep.
"Wait, what are you doing?" Pleakley asked. "That doesn't look like your car."
"That's because it isn't," Jumba smirked. "I don't have a car here."
"It's not your car? They why are you…" Pleakley suddenly whirled around, staring at the smirking scientist. "Hold it right this moment! You don't mean to tell me you're stealing it? You can't do something like that!"
"Bah," Jumba shrugged at Pleakley's accusation, "It is not stealing. It is simply mere hot-wiring of vehicle."
"Oh no, I don't believe you." Pleakley muttered, shaking his head in disappointment. "This reeks of so much trouble. I can't bear to think of the consequences!"
"Oh, come on!" Jumba pleaded, looking as though he was actively trying to shake Pleakley off him by this point. "I am not stealing it, I am just using it temporarily."
Just the thought of Jumba running out of control in a vehicle caused Pleakley to disregard all of his original thoughts of getting away from Jumba. After all, the mad scientist trusted him now, didn't he? With reckless abandon, Pleakley pointed right at Jumba, shouting, "I'm coming with you!"
"WHAT!" Jumba hollered. There was no way he heard that right. There was no way.
"Yeah, you heard me! Hot-wiring a car? You're nuts! Who knows what trouble you can get into when you're on this planet! So I've made up my mind! What you need is someone with real experience on this planet! I've decided to follow you, and no one can stop me!"
It was only after he had shouted those words that Pleakley realised exactly what he had gotten involved in. In his hastiness, he had agreed to accompany a wanted criminal solely to make sure that said criminal didn't destroy a planet.
Just what had he done?
"You are not coming with me," Jumba said bluntly as he managed to skilfully unlock the car doors and sit on the driver's seat.
"Yes, I am!" All final regrets and thoughts of his own safety left Pleakley's mind at the thought of Earth being ruined by Jumba. Ignoring the cursing scientist, he hoisted himself above Jumba and onto the passenger's seat. "And that's final!" he added, trying his best to avoid Jumba's piercing glare.
The Federation Agent had no idea what he was in for. If only Pleakley had an inkling of what Jumba was really after, then perhaps he might had given his bravery a second thought…
"Welcome to the Kokaua Town Hypermart!" the checkout lady started her usual greeting. "How may I serve you…?"
Her jaw dropped, unable to finish her sentence.
At the front of her counter was a cloaked customer who was pushing five trolleys simultaneously, one right after another, with all five filled right to the brim and overflowing.
Five trolleys. Five freaking supermarket trolleys.
She silently judged the customer as the cloaked figure began to pile the groceries onto her counter.
"Excuse me, sir," she began with a kind tone, "But we have a limit to the maximum amount of simultaneous items you can buy at once." Looking at the customer, the checkout lady realised that he was incredibly short, probably ten years old at most. He didn't even reach the height of the counter! He had to reach his hand up just to place the groceries on her counter. What is a boy like this doing here, buying so many groceries? Is this a practical joke?
"Oh yeah?" the customer retorted, folding his arms. "What's wrong with buying two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred tubs of butter, ninety slices of cheese, sixty cans of tuna, five kilos of ham and bacon…"
The checkout lady was stunned. That was definitely the voice of a young boy. As such, she started to treat the customer differently compared to how she would to a kid. "Woah, woah, hold up! Did you just say two hundred loaves?! Why would you need two hundred loaves of bread?"
"To make sandwiches, duh!" the customer shrugged. "What else did you think I would need it for?"
"I assumed you were going to resell it at a profit," the cashier admitted, scratching her forehead. "That's why we have a cap on the number of the same items you can buy at our store, so as to prevent resale."
Under the cloak, 625 scowled. He had expected this to be a simple payment of goods. "But I'm not going to sell it! I just want to buy a couple hundred loaves of bread, butter, cheese, and other sandwich condiments to make sandwiches!"
"Well, I've never seen anyone buy so many groceries that they need five shopping carts," she replied, "Do you really need to buy sandwich ingredients in bulk?"
"Yes, I do!" 625 clenched his fists in irritation. "Why don't you believe me?!"
"You can start up a sandwich chain with the amount of ingredients you are buying…" the cashier commented. Unfortunately for her, this comment wound up tipping the already irritated 625 over the edge.
"Hey, hey, hey!" he jumped up to the counter, whipping out his bank card. "Oi, look here! It's your job as a cashier to scan my checkout items, right? I've got enough cash in this debit card to pay for all of these," he said, pointing to the trolleys. "So how about you stop being a busybody and do your job!"
The cashier eyed 625 warily. "Where did you get that? Did you steal your parent's credit card?" She pushed the Galactic Federation card back to 625. "I can't accept this transaction!"
"Oh for crying out loud, lady! I'm not a helpless boy! Do I sound like a kid to you?"
He was tempted to take off his cloak to prove his point, but refrained from doing so at the last moment. If he revealed himself as an alien to the public, then all his leverage over Pleakley would poof into thin air, and that would never do. Who was going to do all the hard work then?
625 turned around to see a new person walking towards the checkout aisle. Great, just what he needed, more witnesses. He could smell trouble coming from a mile away.
"I am the manager of this place, and I will not tolerate an attempted assault of an employee of mine. Get out of my store!"
625 flung his arms out in disbelief, accidentally knocking some of his groceries to the floor. "What is this? Are you trying to kick me out?"
"Yes, I am," the manager answered with a deadpan expression. "I have the right to do so. Beat it, kid. No one causes trouble in my store!"
"How could you just kick me out like that? Whatever happened to 'the customer is always right'?" he yelled, jabbing his finger accusingly at the manager. The manager was lucky that he couldn't see 625's blackened face from under the cloak. His face was practically livid, the experiment getting unusually agitated due to the fact that sandwiches were being denied to him.
"Get out of here before I call the police!"
625 shuddered, the memories of the Galactic Armada police officers still fresh in his mind. Hanging his head down in defeat, he left his array of sandwich ingredients at the checkout, weaving past the trolleys to strut towards the exit. "I swear, I'll leave a bad review for this place!" he called out as he walked out of the hypermarket, taking one last look at the manager and cashier before the hypermart's automatic doors swung shut. The moment they were out of sight, he jumped into the bushes next to the entrance, tearing his cloak off.
He was rightfully miffed by what went down. The conversation between him and the cashier happened to be his first interaction with a human, and even before the stupid manager had jumped in, he had to admit that he didn't like the humans already.
They asked were as stubborn and asked as many questions as Gantu, but they were arguably worse since they didn't know their place. At least Gantu knew when to stand down when ordered, while the supermarket manager tried to continue calling the shots, reducing to back down even after he gave his valid excuse. All I wanted to do was buy sandwich ingredients. Just mere sandwich ingredients, and yet these guys are treating me worse than Blubby and the Council! What, is making sandwiches a crime now? Oh, that'll be the day!
His ears suddenly perked up. Normally, a human wouldn't be able to hear the manager since he was over ten metres away, but 625 wasn't a normal human. Thanks to the superb hearing sense that had been programmed into him by Jumba, he could hear him loud and clear.
"Tourists kids, always a bunch of troublemakers, you know…"
625 couldn't help but to grimace at the manager's unkind comment. What, is it because I'm only like, three feet tall? Is that the reason he treats me like dirt? Because it looks like that attitude never seems to change! Even Gantu treats me like dirt, 625 thought, kicking a pebble with his feet.
"Oh my goodness, did that guy from earlier freaking clear the entire aisle of sandwich goods?! There's nothing left at all!"
625 couldn't resist a chuckle at the manager's comment. It looked as though his hasty exit meant that the staff would waste their time trying to put all the groceries back on the shelves, so at the very least he hadn't come out a complete loser in this. Accepting that he wasn't going to get his sandwiches, he reluctantly threw the cloak he used as a disguise aside and prepared to walk back to the meeting place he had set with Pleakley, not even caring if anyone saw him. Who cares, right? No one cares. They probably won't even put two and two together and realise that I'm an alien! After all, this whole universe is an uncaring…
"You stop right now, six-two-six! Stop!"
His thoughts were rudely interrupted by a familiar voice. That's Jumba's voice, 625 realised, before the he suddenly comprehended the words. Woah, woah, woah! 626? Had he heard wrongly?
Curious, he peered out of the bushes to look for the source of the voice. However, he was unprepared for what he was about to see. The sight ahead of him was so bizarre that 625 almost wished he had a camera so that he could record it for all eternity. It made the buffet he had made for the entire Council seem like a minor feat in comparison. From his vintage point, he managed to catch a glimpse of Jumba and Pleakley, who by the way happened to be in a ridiculous looking dress, driving along the road in a red car.
Although saying that they were driving was perhaps, a stretch of the imagination.
"And you! Let go of the wheel, Pleakley!"
"No! Not until you follow the speed limit!"
Somehow, both Jumba and Pleakley were simultaneously grappling the steering wheel, both unwilling to let the other drive. The resulting struggle for the wheel between the two caused the car to swerve in zig-zags all over the place.
Ergo, the car appeared to be moving in any direction but straight. And the ensuing destruction caused in the wake of its path was glorious.
"Heheheh! Looks like poor Pleak got stuck in a situation that I wouldn't want to be in!" 625 chuckled before he suddenly noticed something peculiar.
Wait… is that death trap headed right for me?!
"Yah, yikes!" 625 yelled, ducking and curling himself up to brace for impact. In his final moments as the headlights shone him down, several thoughts ran through his head.
Wait a minute! I'm designed to be indestructible! Why am I so panicky? Gah, get a hold of yourself! There's no need to act like this over something like this!
On second thought, even if I'm indestructible, I can still feel pain. Gah, if I get hit like this, I'll need crutches! Hey wait… why ain't I moaning in pain and agony yet? And just why are the headlights even switched on in broad daylight?
625 hesitantly got up from his curled position and peeked out of the bush again, only to see the car pass harmlessly by. By sheer luck, it looked as though it swerved back onto the main road instead of crashing into the hypermarket at the last second.
"Do either of those guys even have a driver's license?!" he muttered as the vehicle sped dangerously away. Although, to be honest, 625 was pretty confident that the question he had just asked was a rhetorical one.
"Oh, at least you found Jumba, Pleak," he grinned. "I knew you would be at least a tiny bit useful! Now then, I guess I should let you do all the work. But wait…" Something about what Jumba said was still bugging 625. There was still that matter of Jumba shouting out "six-two-six".
But that couldn't be! He was supposed to be the latest experiment made before Jumba had been captured! Even if Jumba had escaped from the Council, he couldn't possibly have had enough time to make a new experiment. So, how then? Had he heard wrongly? Or did that mad scientist somehow find a way? And if so, when in Turo had Jumba made an Experiment 626?
In the end, his curiosity won over his natural laziness. 625 put the cloak he used as a disguise back on and tailed the out-of-control vehicle.
Although if you asked the lazy experiment, it wasn't "tailing". The more appropriate word that he would use to describe himself following Jumba's runaway vehicle would be "strolling".
Anyone who had ever worked before in any sector of the service industry should probably be able to relate to that checkout lady. Do not fret, for my sympathy is with you.
Next time — the long awaited meeting between Lilo and Stitch. I've teased it for long enough already!
Chapter 11: First Contact
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!
Chapter 12: His Name is Stitch!
Chapter 12: His Name is Stitch!
The trick to winning a battle is to ensure that the cards are stacked in your favour to begin with every single time.
Actually, a better term to describe it would be more like "rigging the deck".
To be blunt, trickery and manipulation wasn't really 626's forte since he wasn't usually one to come up with elaborate schemes. It was not in his programming to do so in the slightest.
Jumba had designed his programming to simply just create chaos, not plan carefully to create controlled chaos. Anarchy would ensure that whatever happens, he would just go along with it. While order requires planning, there was no need to plan anything when it came to chaos. What was the point of tactically planning the best way to destroy a city when he could just simply lift a truck and bash into every building in sight. After all, it was simple and effective. Why bother wasting time coming up with a tactical real time strategy when the easy, brute-force method worked? It gave 626 more time to destroy everything within a one mile radius within his line of sight, after all.
Jumba's betrayal, however, was a huge wake up call to him. He was indestructible to all except his creator. Jumba knew all of his secrets and might be able to put him down for good.
That could never do. 626 refused to accept the possibility of being deactivated for good, not when there was so much more stuff to wreck and destroy. His reign of terror couldn't even be over before it even begun!
That was why he was desperate enough to even resort to a "plan" for once.
And now that he had rigged the chances to a 100% certainty by making sure that he was the only dog that the girl Lilo could pick, it was time for him to seal the deal.
Now that 626 had managed to get the girl's full attention, he had to ensure that Lilo would like and adopt him. After all, there was no point in guaranteeing that he was the only dog that the girl could pick if she chose not to pick him in the end.
The next few seconds were hence absolutely critical.
Was his fur neat enough? Were his eyes innocent enough? Did he convey the cute and innocent image well enough? Did his face look pure to the young child?
To sum up all his thoughts in one question — was he cute and fluffy?
He got his answer as soon as the girl Lilo finished turning around. The look on her face was one of curiosity. Seeing as he needed to act cuter, 626 decided on plopping back down onto the floor. In his squatting position, he then wagged his tail in an effort to look cute.
"Hi," she greeted, slowly waved her arm as an introduction.
Ah, it looked like she was already getting suckered by his charm. Well, now it was time for him to leave an impression.
626 began to fake a pout. He looked into Lilo's brown eyes with the cutest expression he could muster in an effort to convince the girl to adopt him.
"Awww… you're a cute one," Lilo observed.
Crocodile tears… peh, this was the first time he'd had to use that tactic. He didn't do mushy stuff. It wasn't his style, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
It looked from the girl's expression that his pouting tactic seemed to be working, but 626 decided that he needed to up the ante to guarantee being picked since she still looked a little hesitant to him. He stood up on his hind legs and stammered out a greeting in the most canine way possible.
"H-Ha-Haaaiiiiii," he stuttered out a reply. Geh, this language was hard to use.
Lilo could only say one word in astonishment at what she perceived to be a very smart dog that managed to articulate words. "Wow!"
626 felt a smile tug on the corner of his lips, and had to resist visibly smirking at her excitement. A smirk would have given him away. Just a smile, not an evil grin! Act happy that yuuga got adopted, not because yuuga's plan isa going good! Isa going very good!
"Can you come with me?" No sooner had the words come out of Lilo's mouth did 626's eyes flash briefly with triumph.
Poor, poor Jumba. The poor guy really thought that he would be able to outsmart him. Too bad for Jumba, but it looked like this was going to be as simple as taking candy from a baby, which meant that his creator was going to be left far behind in the dust.
As 626 followed Lilo back out to the front of the animal shelter where the other two humans were, he found himself very tempted to sneer at the sheer amount of cheeriness that she was exhibiting. He and cheery happiness did not mix. He was the destructive Experiment 626, for crying out loud. What he really wanted to see was terror and fright on her face.
Soon, he told himself as Lilo quickly walked back to her sister's side, the excitement on her face continuing to show no bounds. The second Jumba appears isa when this charade isa over!
"Your sister can choose any dog you want. All our dogs are friendly, trained, and ready for sale…" 626 glanced up, looking at the caretaker who was talking to the girl's elder sister in a professional tone. As if she was able to sense him, she turned around and saw him standing with Lilo, which caused her to flinch back in fright and swap her words at the last minute, "…except that one!"
"What is that thing?!" Nani yelled out in mutual agreement. 626's eyes narrowed at her reaction. It appeared that she was much more wary of him compared to her sister.
He turned his eyes back to the flustered caretaker only to see that she didn't fare much better. "It's a dog… I think?" she managed to splutter out, "I don't even know where that dog came from. It wasn't one of the ones that were supposed to be back there!"
However, Lilo chose to ignore both of them, "I like him! He can talk!"
"Dogs can't talk, dear." The caretaker waved her hand dismissively, unaware that the blue "dog" near her was giving her a scowl. A scowl that happened to be the reason that none of the usual dogs was adopted by Lilo this time.
Nani stared at him very apprehensively. "Is this thing feral or something? What if it's dangerous?"
626 was very glad at that moment that his claws were retractable. He'll play innocent and let her paranoia run wild, before later showing her just how dangerous a "feral dog" like him truly was. He had to resist cackling like an evil villain just thinking about the idea of scaring the woman out of her wits.
"All our dogs are tamed and de-clawed. Not to worry, it's safe," the caretaker said, although the wary look in her eyes ran contrary to her words.
"Does it have to be this dog?" Despite Nani's rather insistent protest, the futile look on her face seemed to show that her realisation that there was no way she could win this argument against Lilo in the first place. "Can't we get a better dog, dear?"
"Not better than him! I really like him! You know, I really think this is my guardian angel, Nani!"
626 snorted slightly in agreement. At least this girl was somewhat smart, although her intelligence was still puny compared to his supercomputer brain. But she was most definitely correct — there truly was no dog on this planet that was going to be better than him.
Could they lift a truck? Naga. Could they talk? Naga. Were they an evil, monstrous being that was intent on destruction and capable of following through with that threat? Naga.
"Alright, fine. You win this time, Lilo. This is your new dog," Nani relented with a sigh.
"Yay!" Lilo then hugged him, causing him to flail about in panic for a second before he carefully freed himself from her grip. She was lucky he remembered to restrain his full power at the last second or the girl would have lost an arm or two. "It's my new puppy!" Lilo continued, unaware of the mortal peril her limbs almost suffered.
Bleh, that girl's enthusiasm was so full of childlike innocence and fluff that it almost made 626 want to puke. He had to literally cover his mouth with his paws to suppress the gag reflex to throw up from an overdose of naive saccharine words.
"So you've decided on this… blue dog, right?" The caretaker confirmed before she went behind the counter and took out the adoption papers from a drawer. "Very well, then. You'll have to sign these documents before we finalise the adoption."
Peh, documents? What was the point? He wasn't going to be their pet for longer than five minutes!
"Also, you'll have to think of a name for him," the caretaker continued. "Once you think of a name, I'll fill it up on the official State of Hawaii adoption form."
It took Lilo less than five seconds to come up with one.
"His name is Stitch."
626's ears flopped up. He turned back at the human with a curious expression on his face. Gaba? Did she just say… Stitch? Really?
"Oh, come on," the caretaker shook her head dismissively, "that's not a real name…" She choked back the rest of her words when she received a glare from Nani that basically said 'play along with me'.
"…in Iceland!" she continued with a smile, giving a thumbs up. "But here it's a good name! Stitch it is."
626 scowled when he saw all three humans nod along to Lilo's suggested name. What a horrible name. No taste at all!
"So now Stitch is your pet's legal name under Hawaiian state law. Congratulations, little girl," the caretaker continued to give a wide smile to Lilo before turning towards Nani and passing her a pen. "The government has fully subsidised all adoption fees for this month, so you'll only need to pay me a two dollar fee for administrative purposes."
"Really?" Nani's face broke out into a grin. Coming from such a poor family, such a subsidy came as an absolute relief for her. As Nani took the notes from her wallet, Lilo tugged at her shirt sleeve to grab her attention. "I wanna buy him!" Lilo insisted with a whine, "Can I borrow two dollars?" she whispered into her sister's ear, continuing to tug Nani's sleeve.
626 looked up to the counter, watching as Nani handed Lilo the two dollars, who then proceeded to hand it back to her older sister. With a blank expression on Nani's face that implied that this wasn't the first time that her sister had used her sway to try to get her way, she wordlessly gave them to the caretaker, who was watching the whole thing with the barest flicker of a smile on her face.
He scowled. Gaba was the point of that roundabout transaction?! Waste of time and useless emotions!
The caretaker then took out a stamp and stamped a seal onto the papers. "He's all yours!" she smiled, "Take good care of Stitch!"
Only less than a few more minutes of this pointless pretending and then he can ditch the two. Just what was taking Jumba so long? Wasn't that scientist already setting up an ambush? How hadn't he already barged into the front door and aimed at him with a plasma blaster yet?
Come to think of it, just where the heck was Jumba?
Infrared vision. 625 somehow found that he almost forgot that he had that ability.
To be fair, immediately after he had been created, Jumba had spouted out a list of abilities that he had programmed into him. The crux of the problem was, in that moment, he had been lying belly up on the lab floor in a puddle of orange liquid, yawning in sheer exhaustion.
625 sighed when he found he had trouble recalling the list clearly. He supposed it was only natural that his ability list would end up going to his short-term memory bank. Shaking his heads once to refocus, he turned his attention back to the object that was inside the walls of the animal shelter.
So it was true, huh? Somehow, Jumba managed to make one more experiment after he had jumped bail on him. The anatomy was similar enough to his that it couldn't help but reaffirm his suspicions.
625 pondered the situation before deciding to retreat for now. He didn't want to run the risk of provoking the other experiment. After all, he was no fighter.
After all, fighting wasn't his job, right? His designated function was a sandwich maker.
A sandwich maker…
But why would a sandwich maker need infrared vision and the ability to lift three thousand times their own weight to do their job? Didn't that seem like overkill? Why would Jumba bother to program vocationally useless functions like those into a sandwich making experiment? Beginning to feel that something was out of place, he nervously bit his lips in an endeavour to rid his head of an unpleasant thought.
"Then just what do you propose to counteroffer as the bond?"
"Why, who else but my experiment, six-two-five! After all, six-two-five is one of a kind, priceless! Jumba would not dare jump bail if it means losing six-two-five!"
Obviously Jumba had lied through his teeth to both him and the Grand Councilwoman, because the scientist totally hitched an escape ride via hyperspace straight to this planet after he returned to his lab in Galaxy Defence Industries.
"Hey, I object to this! Jumba, don't leave me here!"
"Shush, six-two-five, it is only temporarily."
Only temporarily? Yeah, right. If the Grand Councilwoman hadn't counter-proposed the deal, he would be done for. He closed his tired eyes in contemplation. Oh, why had he listened to Jumba?
He wiped away some cold sweat from his brow, feeling a sense of unease. He had thought the whole holding cell idea was stupid, but he didn't voice it out to Jumba since they were surrounded by ambassadors. After all, if he were to say that in front of the entire Council, his situation would likely be worse off.
But still, they'd all agreed in the end that he was to be the bargaining chip between Jumba and those Council members. Who'd want a role like that? Being kept in a holding cell solely to ensure that his creator would turn up in trial?
He was tempted to adamantly refuse, but upon seeing that Jumba had made up his mind, he had given in. Jumba had reassured him that it was a temporary measure, so in the end he simply swallowed his pride and allowed the guards and that blubber-face lead him to a holding cell based on that trust.
An obviously broken trust, considering the Grand Councilwoman informed him a couple of hours later that Jumba had jumped bail and practically blackmailed him into this recovery mission.
His own creator had broken the trust that he held with him so easily…
Why then? Why had Jumba ditched him on Planet Turo?
Great, now he was in an even crankier mood than before. First he couldn't get sandwiches from a supermarket, and now this happened.
He had been told by Jumba that all the other experiments were dehydrated into pods, so this was most likely a new experiment… created after the scientist had been released from Galactic Federation custody on bail.
He'd had created another experiment so easily.
The whole "bargaining chip" thing was just a lie, wasn't it?
625 had to suppress the urge to frown. It wasn't normal for him to get legitimately upset. Yes, he had been annoyed and irritated before, but he would simply cope by replying with something sarcastic to lighten the mood.
But this? This was different. Was Experiment 626 his replacement? Had Jumba really left him in a holding cell to rot?
"Maybe he needed another sandwich maker…" he mumbled, trying to rationalise the whole situation to himself.
The feeling in his heart disagreed with that hypothesis.
Gah! Maybe he thought that sacrificing a mere sandwich maker like me was a small price to pay for his freedom?!
"Oh, sure," he spoke out in a snarky tone that resembled Jumba's, while brushing the fur on his head down at the same time to stimulate Jumba's bald head, "Jumba will hand over this experiment to ya Council folks. After all, he can only make sandwiches, so he might as well be your fry cook for the rest of his days."
Just as he finished, the door to the animal shelter abruptly opened.
625 hurriedly stopped his monologue-turned-rant when he saw the movement, quickly hiding behind a tree before scowling when he realised it didn't matter if the other experiment also had infrared vision like he did. He was already watching from a hill more than five hundred metres away from the place. The inclined slope he stood on made it very difficult for the other experiment to get a visual cue on him without a specific angle, so it was unlikely that he'll be spotted.
But it always did help to be cautious.
Breathing heavily, he felt his mouth open wide in surprise as he caught his first non-infrared view of Experiment 626.
So it wasn't a coincidence after all. A glimpse of confirmation was all he needed. He stared at the retreating 626, walking behind two humans.
"Jumba would not dare jump bail if it means losing six-two-five!"
Of course he never planned on keeping his word. Of course he didn't.
"You… t-traitor, Jumba," 625 managed to stutter out, leaning heavily on the tree trunk with his eyes wide. Shaking his head with a sigh, he hurriedly darted away from the scene.
He needed to find out the truth of the matter, no matter what the cost.
Where isa Jumba?!
626 clenched his fist. That scientist should been waiting outside the place for him already!
He had walked out of the animal shelter, fully anticipating Jumba to point a plasma blaster at him, at which point he would use the girl as a human shield and get away in the chaos. Worst case scenario, he would hold her as a hostage the moment he couldn't get away from Jumba.
That was supposed to be the plan, at least.
Said plan went awry the moment Jumba wasn't waiting outside the shop for him.
It couldn't be! Jumba had seen him loitering outside the shop in his chase! So why wasn't he here? He couldn't even spot him with his infrared vision.
Did Jumba know? Had Jumba managed to see through his plan and was using reverse psychology? Was the scientist one step ahead of him like at the Birds of Paradise? Maybe Jumba already knew where he was but was patiently waiting to make a move.
626 grimaced. Why was he acting like this? He wasn't scared in the slightest when he had fired the hyperdrive of Hamsterviel's ship. So why was he so paranoid now?
Maybe, 626 rationalised to himself, it was because he was pitted up against Jumba.
His creator was someone who he respected greatly. Even though Jumba had suddenly decided to turn against him, 626 still couldn't help but admire and respect him. If how his creator had managed to trace him down to the Birds of Paradise hotel was any indication, Jumba's mind was not to be trifled with in the slightest. Despite Jumba's boast that 626 could "think faster than a supercomputer", he couldn't help that feeling of uneasiness he felt at having to outwit and fool his own master in a deadly game of chase.
He turned around, looking up at the human girl Lilo. "Come on! Let's go home," she said, tugging him along.
Fine. He conceded that he had no other choice. Sensing a trap, he decided to stay with the girl until he got an all-clear signal that Jumba wasn't tricking him into a false sense of security.
He'll be this "Stitch" for now. But at his heart he would always be Experiment 626, the ruthless, cold-hearted experiment that he was designed to be.
Jumba woke up to multiple alarms blaring, a splitting migraine plaguing his head. His eyelids felt heavy and were drooping down, forcing him to use effort to open his eyes and clear his vision. As he tried to blink away blurry tears, he gazed around in a daze.
Around him was a wreck of what used to be the vehicle that he was driving. With a jolt, he suddenly remembered the previous events of what happened before he became unconscious.
Ugh! No! Jumba am having lost precious experiment six-two-six AGAIN! He is but a little sneaky one, yes he is!
There was no way 626 would be still at that location. He would have to relocate the experiment from scratch. Jumba howled in anger the minute he realised he lost 626's trail once more.
"No! My parasol's ruined! My dress has holes in it!"
Oh yeah. There was still the matter of Pleakley to address.
Jumba almost cursed as he stopped his own shout. He had almost forgotten that a certain other fellow was in the same vehicle as him. Turning around to the source of the cry, however, caused his anger to dissipate as he stared at what remained of Pleakley's attire, trying his best not to howl in laughter.
"It's not funny!" Pleakley pouted, holding up the hem of the destroyed dress. "How would you like it if your pink frilly dress is all brown and covered with dirt?" He held up his parasol, or at least the frame of it, since the actual fabric was torn away in the crash. "And look at this! My parasol's a goner! How am I supposed to protect myself from deadly ultraviolet rays now?!" he moaned.
"Anyway…" Jumba slowly brought his chuckling back to a frown before pointing at the tipped over vehicle, "You stupid moron! Now how am I supposed to be getting away unseen? This car crash will be leaving behind evidence trail! Jumba do not want any possible links back to me on this place!"
"Oh no, don't you stare at me like that… augh!" Pleakley yelped, tripping while he was folding his arms. Recovering quickly and brushing himself, he added, "It was your own fault that the car crashed!"
"My fault?" Jumba repeated. "Why is it Jumba's fault?!" he argued back.
"You were the one flooring the accelerator and not looking at where you were going! Right before we went off the road, you were looking out the window to the right and not your front! Of course someone as reckless as you would crash a vehicle! You should drive more slowly and not flout traffic laws!" Pleakley lectured.
Jumba slapped his forehead. Great. Just great. It was obvious from Pleakley's look of fiery determination that he was being serious, at least as best as he could make it look while in that stupid dress.
Worse still, he had no choice, had he? He had to let this random alien tag along with him. He needed Pleakley to stand a chance at getting off the planet when the intergalactic tour bus came for Pleakley. He would definitely be a wanted man, but since Pleakley apparently hadn't heard the news, the one-eye alien would be able to create an alibi for him. It was the only chance he had to not be arrested immediately upon boarding. All Pleakley will have to do is say "he's a family member" and he would be able to get off Planet Earth.
This meant that making a scene right here in the open or trying to get rid of Pleakley would end in disaster. A random tourist going missing would lead to a report which could let the Galactic Federation pinpoint him down to this very planet.
Unable to create any more experiments due to his equipment being left in his lab, and without even a single one of his experiments with him, he didn't stand a chance against them.
Jumba furrowed his brow in anger. He needed to get 626 back by any means necessary in order to retrieve the experiment container and get all of his experiments back. Now, it wasn't just a matter of whether 626 would survive the inevitable implosion when they were all re-hydrated.
Now, it was Jumba's only hope. His own survival and freedom was at stake.
"Bah!" He flung his arms in the air before dragging his feet away in a direction away from the crash site. There was no point in trying to hot-wire the engine of the vehicle to hide the devastation, the vehicle was a definite goner. He would just have to hope that the authorities couldn't track him down.
"Hey, wait up! Don't leave me behind! I can't run fast with this dress!"
Jumba clenched his fists to control his anger as he stared at the fumbling Pleakley. There was only one thought on his mind as he slowed his pace down.
He needed a plan to recapture his own greatest creation, and fast.
Miles away, a scratchy voice next to a makeshift circus tent interrupted the morning silence.
A gerbil—sorry, hamster—coughed, holding up a paw shakily in triumph. He brushed the H-shaped emblem embossed on the front of his cape to remove the dirt stains before observing his surroundings.
Shouldn't I be done for, he asked himself as he looked about. He held his head, trying to remember those terrifying few seconds when the decompression sucked him out of his own spaceship. How could he be on the ground… in one piece? "I am… alive?" he stuttered to himself, unable to believe his own words.
"I am… alive," he repeated more confidently, his stunned expression turning into one of relief. "I am alive!" he screamed out enthusiastically, chuckling at his fortune. "Did you really think that falling out of a crashing spaceship would be the end of me? Well, you are wrong, Jumba! Hah!"
His smile of relief turned into a smirk of overconfident triumph as he began to maniacally laugh out loud. "Hahahaha! I have been saved, I have survived! This is proof that I am immortal! I, Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel, deserve to rule this wretched Galactic Federation! My empire shall be born, and this survival marks the beginning of my reign of supreme evil!"
"Hee hee hee hee!" Just as he finished, a clownish laughter mocked Hamsterviel's speech. The irritated Hamsterviel looked around, trying to locate the laughter. Realising it was coming from above him, he peered upwards, only to see someone familiar.
"What are you jeering at, you rubbery excuse of a foolish experiment? That speech was gloriously glorious! You don't know good prose when you hear it! How dare you ridicule my incredibly amazingly amazing speech, you useless excuse of a fool!"
345 just blew a raspberry in response to his rant, continuing to mess with Hamsterviel while being safely perched on a tree branch ten feet off the ground, conveniently out of the hamster's reach.
"How dare you!" Hamsterviel yelled right before a sudden epiphany hit him when he suddenly realised exactly who he was screaming at.
He was yelling at Experiment 345, the same Experiment 345 that he was grabbing onto when he was being sucked out of the crashing spaceship.
"Anyway, now is not the time for jokes, I am currently on ship that is about to go KABOOM, so use your elastic body and shield me! Jumba no want to be swiss cheese!"
Jumba had used those exact words to describe the experiment — an elastic shielding experiment.
The answer hit Hamsterviel as hard as a hamster ball rolling into him. 345 must have wrapped himself around Hamsterviel when the two were falling in mid-air after he lost consciousness from the difference in air pressure. When they both hit the ground, 345's elastic body must have unintentionally cushioned the blow and saved him from being splattered on the ground.
Hamsterviel grunted in slight gratitude. "Well, well, well. So you were the one who saved me?" 345 nodded slightly to acknowledge his question. "Huh! So it's true. Well, as appreciation for saving my life…" he started. Hearing that, 345 smiled widely, holding his arm out and waiting for a reward.
"…you are now to be my personal slave," Hamsterviel finished, laughing at 345's dumbfounded face. The experiment looked completely devastated from the sudden aversion of his expectations. "Did you really expect a genuine reward from someone like me? Hahaha! What a joke!" Hamsterviel continued on in a confident smirk as 345's dismayed expression slowly turned into a scowl, "Experiment number three-four-five, was it not? You should be honoured to be the first of Jumba's experiment working under me, soon-to-be ruler of the galaxy, Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel!"
345 seemed to consider the proposal, pondering it for one second. At least, until his face turned deadpan and he reached out his elastic arm to grab and swing away to another tree, out of Hamsterviel's reach.
"Hey! You little…" Hamsterviel reached for the plasma blaster, only to realise way too late that he had lost it when he was sucked out of the ship, leaving him no way to stop 345 from running. "You worthless coward! Come back here!" he gnashed his teeth, jumping up and down in outrage as the laughing experiment slipped away right in front of his face.
"Get down here this instant! I-yow!"
345 just laughed as he witnessed Hamsterviel moaning in pain and cradling his head. The tree branch that he flung in Hamsterviel's direction probably hurt him good. Taking the chance to escape further while Hamsterviel was down, he continued to stretch from tree to tree, before reaching his arms for the top of the circus tent and using the tension to propel his lower body right to the top.
Ironically, he himself was unaware that his little act had spectators.
"Woah! This little fella just managed to stretch from the top of the tree to the tent!" came a voice from inside the tent. Curious, 345 peered down.
"Ringmaster, that's almost twenty feet!" another person said with evident shock in their voice, "Oh my gosh, it's an incredible trick!"
"Fabulous! Just fabulous!" the purple-caped ringmaster of the circus exclaimed. "Amigos, we have found our new sensational big top act! Little fella!" he called out to 345, "I really like your stretching act! Do you want to join us in performing tricks?"
At the phrase "performing tricks", 345 beamed and rapidly nodded his head, stretching down and pulling himself into the tent, right next to the ringmaster.
The ringmaster bent down to the small green experiment and smiled back, rubbing 345's head. "Fantastic! From now on, you are the Great Elastico, the new rising star of our circus! Say hello to Elastico, everyone!"
There were cheers all around from the remaining circus performers as the newly-named Elastico laughed a genuine laugh of joy.
See! This is my reward! Good things do come to those who do good and fun! Hee hee hee!
"Experiment three-four-five! Come out now! Come out of there so I can capture you, you stubborn oaf!" As Elastico celebrated his newfound job, Hamsterviel was screaming outside in anger, trying to push in the fabric of the tent material to get into the tent with no avail. After trying for a minute, with no way to get in, the furious Hamsterviel gave up on retrieving the experiment for now and began to focus on pursuing some other more pressing matters.
"I will find the experiment container, Jumba! You cannot hide from me on this pitiful planet forever!" Hamsterviel swore as he strutted away from the circus tent, pumping his right fist in the air as a declaration. "That whole spaceship incident was a flop, but now I am back with a vengeance! All six hundred and twenty five of your experiments will be rightfully mine! Just you wait… just you wait!"
Did anyone manage to guess that Hamsterviel would probably survive that fall as long as he had bouncy Elastico with him? I'm curious to know.
Next time, things will definitely begin to escalate! Can you guess what happens?
Chapter 13: Just One Experiment Pod
Chapter 13: Just One Experiment Pod
"You seem rather… unhappy. Did anything happen to sour your mood recently, my dear Grand Councilwoman?"
From the outside of the reinforced bulletproof glass barrier, the Grand Councilwoman gave a wary leer at the prisoner inside the cell. It was highly unlike him to suddenly be in such a cheery mood. It was an anomaly, and all anomalies had to be accounted for. That was why she had taken the time out of her schedule to head down to one of the deepest bunkers in Planet Turo and visit him there at Solitary Cell 11B.
"Be honest," she said dismissively, brushing her black cape at the one inside, "Do you think that you'll know if anything unusual happened? You've been locked in solitary confinement for years. I would think that you won't even know what galactic year this is, let alone be able to keep up on the news."
The prisoner inside only smiled at her jab. "I have my ways. Don't you think that you of all people should know that?" Closing his eyes, he shrugged in a disrespectful manner, "After all, you are the Grand Councilwoman of the Galactic Federation? Aren't you supposed to be the hotshot of the whole universe? Obviously I would know of certain… rumours regarding matters for someone in your position."
"Hmph." The Grand Councilwoman's lips turned slightly upwards into a wry grin. "So you do know about it… the Jumba situation."
"Was that why you bothered to waste your oh-so-precious time to come down here? Just to see if I caught up on intergalactic news?" The prisoner sighed, "I think you have should make better use of your limited time."
"I will use my time as I deem fit," she lectured. "As for my guess, I just had a feeling that you'll know about it. After all, ugly rumours spread very rapidly. You of all people should know that, correct?" She locked eyes with the man in the cell, keeping her body language guarded when she saw him glower and fold his arms.
"Did you come here just to mock me?" he asked in a harsh whisper. He looked almost as though he was about to lose his composure.
"No," she replied, "That said, I came here to tell you that I already have this situation under control, so you can keep your smug comments to yourself. I hate to burst your bubble, but I guarantee you that this whole thing will end smoothly. Nothing will happen to me."
Keeping his expression neutral, the prisoner simply raised his arm as an acknowledgement. "I get you, I get you. But are you sure that you have it under control?" he repeated his question, as if hoping to goad her into a different answer.
Out of her control? The Grand Councilwoman smiled slightly at the mere thought. As if things would spiral out of control. The man inside was obviously baiting her, and she refused to fall for his trap.
After all, she had already sent out Experiment 625 and Agent Pleakley to Earth. Without that hasty Captain Gantu and his Armada, the press will be kept in the dark about the situation and out of the way. Once Jumba was back in her custody, she could waive 625's charges and please the pro-scientific communities that were against her and the Council. And then, after she handed down a very long prison verdict to Jumba, the whole case would be closed, right then and there.
The game plan was already set and in motion. She refused to let the doubts in her mind cause her to hesitate and second-guess herself.
"Yes, I am. Goodbye, Julius." The Grand Councilwoman straightened her collar before walking away and closing the surrounding vault around Solitary Cell 11B, leaving the area vacant once again.
"Just you wait, my dear Casey," the prisoner, Julius, sneered once the Grand Councilwoman had taken her leave. His voice changed from the calm and collected one he used earlier to a tone of voice that was as harsh as a tidal wave. "You don't know it yet, but you're running out of time. The control you have is slipping ever so slightly from your grip. But that's the one thing you don't want to happen, right? You want everything to be perfect, don't you? Don't you?!"
There was no answer or response to the questions that he yelled out manically. Still, he continued to maniacally shout out loud to an empty solitary cell, almost as though he expected a reply from the four blank walls around him.
Smirking, he reached down into a hidden pocket at his left thigh, feeling for a particular object. Gripping onto it tightly as though it was his lifeline, he lowered his vocal volume and tone from a loud howl to a soft, but smug, monologue, "Well, I hate to say it, but I'm afraid that you've already lost your perfect grip over this situation… and your Galactic Federation. Your tenure as the Council's leader is about to come to a rather abrupt end."
He then walked to the glass barrier and raised his arms wide open, as though he had just finished making a speech to an excited audience and was waiting for his applause after the grand finale.
"And I will make sure that I will personally be the instigator of your fall as Council Leader!"
Breathe in, breathe out…
Yeesh, running was hard work! He had tried to sprint away before Experiment 626 could see him, but unfortunately 625 found that he had underestimated his energy reserves. By the time he reached his destination, he was panting hard and almost resorted to crawling on the ground.
"Ahhhhh…" 625 moaned in exhaustion as he pushed against the door for the third time, this time with enough effort to finally open it. "I should have eaten a sandwich before sprinting like I was running a half marathon."
"Hey there, kid. What do you want today?"
625 cursed his short stature as the person behind the counter mentioned his height once more. Since he was once again using the cloak as a disguise cover, the hunched posture he adopted made him really look like a shy child to the local humans. But the fact that this human also commented on his height started to grate on the experiment. It wasn't his fault that humans were so tall in comparison to him!
"I'm here to purchase internet access. Just for two hours, no biggie!" 625 said, taking out the white Galactic Federation debit card. He reached up with his hand and put it on the desk for the cashier.
The cashier took the card, swiping it across the card reader before smiling. "Enjoy your two hours, sir."
625 wordlessly took the debit card back and walked over to a vacant desk with a computer. Jumping up on the swivel chair, he booted it up, humming as the computer started up. "Come on, work already," he impatiently tapped his fingers against the desk at the slowly booting computer.
As the computer finally showed the desktop screen, he let out a breath he didn't even realise he was holding. He only realised how close to the screen he was when his exhaled air turned the screen misty. Leaning back onto the chair, he apprehensively loaded the internet browser.
"Six-two-five, it is imperative that you remember this string of numbers. You can enter it on any computer with web connection to be gaining access to Jumba's top secret lair on the web!"
It seemed like ages ago when Jumba had briefed him about the emergency contact protocol. Since Jumba was planning for an intergalactic war between his armada of experiments and the Galactic Federation, the scientist had made preparations for a private network to be used as a method of communication between him and his experiments.
Although said war was not quite yet a reality, more important to 625 was the fact that Jumba's secret network was up and running. To his knowledge, the Council hadn't known about its existence, so they hadn't taken it down.
This meant that if he used the special set of coded numbers that he had been given by Jumba, he would be able to access the network by using the cafe computer as an access point.
He finished keying in his unique ID, pressing the ENTER key to find himself on a plain webpage, blue in colour but otherwise uncluttered in nature. On the top right corner, "Welcome, Experiment 625" was neatly displayed in plain font.
625 sighed to himself when he saw the page load. "Geez, couldn't Jumba have spent a bit more time planning the construction and design of this page? I mean, come on, look at this thing!" he complained out loud to no one in particular, "It's plainer than plain bread! At least you could have gotten someone else to design it for you if web design wasn't your forte!"
After noticing a few of the other customers glance at him, 625 shook his head and kept his mouth shut, refocusing back on the actual task. Great, now he was letting his sarcastic nature get the better of him again. Perhaps he was getting just a tad distracted from his main priorities?
But why wouldn't he? He needed to find out the truth, but what if the truth was better kept secret, something he didn't want to believe? Was it worth it?
He grimaced. Well, it was too late to turn back now. He was already one foot in the grave. Gritting his teeth, he went over to the user access control panel and selected the "Wrong User ID" option.
As he expected, on the page was a drop-down list filled with experiment numbers. And at the very top was Jumba's own personal user ID. He chuckled to himself. It looked like he had guessed correctly. Jumba had created this network a long time ago, and added his own ID to the list as an administrator so as to prevent himself from being locked out of his own system. It was a pretty smart move, really. This way, Jumba could use his own network on any computer on any planet so long as he entered his admin ID on his network.
But there was also a drawback. Since Jumba was using the same network as his experiments… it meant his own experiments could hack into his account by impersonating him. 625 chuckled at the sheer audacity for the idea. Bet the scientist didn't predict that, huh? That his own experiments would challenge his authority?
He didn't hesitate in clicking the hyperlink, bringing him to a password page. Well, of course. Jumba wouldn't just leave his own personal account unlocked, would he? He took a deep breath, deciding to crack the password via good 'ol brute force.
He had a pretty good feeling as to what Jumba's password was too.
Password: evil genius
625 furrowed his brow, "Oh, come on!" Okay, maybe Jumba wasn't a complete novice when it came to passwords, but it didn't mean that he was on the wrong train of thought. To continue to try again, he decided to enter more variations of Jumba's favourite catchphrase.
Password: EVIL GENIUS
Okay, so it wasn't in all caps. He had thought that it might have been, given that Jumba had no indoor voice whatsoever. Even in the short timespan that 625 had known him, he had realised that Jumba's idea of soft was… the opposite of the official definition of soft. He had a unique way of speaking, after all.
Hold on… a unique way of speaking?
Could it be that easy?
Password: evil geniusness
Access code accepted. Welcome, Jumba.
No way! So the password WAS a variation of "evil genius", just garbled with a extra "-ness" due to Jumba's style of talking.
625 rolled his eyes. Well, that "password" didn't take too long to crack at all. Three measly attempts was seriously all it took. Jumba really shouldn't have set the password to all his important data as a permutation of one of his favourite catchphrases. For someone that was smart enough to be able to modify genetic code at will, that was an incredible lapse in security.
Oh well. That security lapse was a mistake that he would shamelessly capitalise upon.
Loading up Jumba's personal account, 625 hurriedly looked up the admin logs and searched up his experiment number.
"Ah, there we go. Experiment six-two-five," 625 read out loud upon finding his own experiment log. "Primary function, sandwich maker, yaddi yaddi yadah…"
His carefree expression suddenly dropped as a particular line in the log caught his attention as he scanned down the document. "What the…" he gasped. This wasn't what he had been told by Jumba in the slightest!
To an observer who was paying close attention, they might have noticed that the figure behind the computer screen had clammed up and was rigidly still. Beneath the cloak, 625's entire posture radiated of nervousness. He was completely frozen in shock, unable to even look away from the words on the screen. Only his right hand, scrolling the mouse, remained mobile.
How many times had he read through his own experiment log by now? Twenty? Forty? He had completely lost count of how many times he had scrolled back up and reread the document.
Wasn't this what insanity was like? Expecting a different outcome despite doing the same thing over and over again?
He had prayed that it was all a lie, that he had read the words wrongly. But alas, that wasn't possible. Jumba had signed the logs with his own digital signature, as if mocking the idea of him doubting the authenticity of the experiment log.
625 didn't know how to feel. The first time he reached Jumba's signature at the bottom of the log, he was completely floored. He had no obvious reaction, just pure shock. After that initial disbelief wore off, he felt himself getting furious. Not his usual irritated style of anger for once; this time it was pure rage.
But after thirty minutes of slamming the mouse against the desk and getting a verbal warning from the store clerk, 625 felt his hatred dissipating, just ever so slightly. The experiment log had answered all of his doubts, except for one.
"Why me?" the experiment lamented to himself, unheard by anyone in the computer cafe. "Why did it have to be me, Jumba…?"
Of course, one obvious answer popped up into his head. Experiment 626, wasn't it? He didn't even have to look up 626's experiment log to find out the answer to that.
His curiosity got the better of him as he booted back to the experiment log page and opened his successor's log. Instead of the four that Jumba had entered for him, there was only one for 626, typed very recently.
Log Number 1, it read. Remember what I said about everything going according to plan in my Experiment 625 log? Well, Jumba now takes back everything he said.
"Hmph! Serves him right," he muttered as he continued scanning through.
I had just activated Experiment 626 using the fusion chamber, but that good-for-nothing gerbil came and ruined everything! He managed to take experiment container from right under my nose! When trying to retrieve it, 626 sent the ship on a crash course to unknown planet, which I later discovered is called Earth.
625 peered closely. Well, wasn't this interesting. So this was the real reason Jumba had jumped bail. It hadn't been intentional at all!
Despite that, he still harboured anger towards Jumba. In the end, Jumba was still the one personally responsible for leaving him behind on Planet Turo. And that was not even mentioning the other things that Jumba had written on his own experiment log.
Of much more pressing concern to 625 was the statement, "He managed to take experiment container from right under my nose". When he had actually been in the lab, he had never actually seen any of the other experiments. By the time he had been activated, Jumba had already dehydrated them all.
But even he knew the importance of Jumba's arsenal of experiments. They were his personal army. Being separated from them would be a huge blow to Jumba.
It is interesting to note that 626 came out exactly as planned. He is cunning and devious, having tricked my former partner into crashing his very own ship in the first place. I am very proud of him, but unfortunately that makes it so much harder for me to catch him. You see, 626 has accidentally swallowed the experiment container in the crash.
Wait, what? 625 double-taked, trying his best not to laugh at the sheer hilarity of what he had just read. Really? He ATE the container?
This is an absolute disaster! First off, I now have no access to any of my dehydrated experiments at all.
"Too bad," 625 cheerily commentated over the log. It was almost like he was in a conversation with his old creator again.
But more importantly, I can be calculating that the container metal lining can only withstand 626's stomach acid for just a couple of weeks. If I do not get it back by then, the lining will dissolve. This will cause all the experiment pods inside to activate simultaneously, the result of which will implode 626 from within!
Inside his head, 625 imagined an egg in a microwave oven. Yeah, that probably would not end well. That outcome would be a gory mess that he would rather avoid witnessing, if for the sake of maintaining his appetite.
So now I have no choice but to be taking 626 apart in order to get back the experiment container. If I do not dissect him to remove container, he would be finished!
625 raised his eyebrows, tilting his head in thought. Dissection? Hm, that wasn't right… was it?
Even though dissection has only 2.7% chance of fatality, 626 has run away, terrified of the idea! I must find him before it is too late! What is an evil scientist like me to do?! What should I do…?
Dr. Jumba Jookiba
Well, this was very interesting indeed. It looked like Jumba was under the assumption that he had to dissect his own experiment to get the experiment container back.
Too bad 625 personally knew that that wasn't the case. He grinned to himself. Jumba had made one very careless mistake. It was an oversight that was understandable given the situation. When Jumba was arrested, he probably had no chance to analyse the data that he had taken from him. Since he and 626 were very similar—too similar, actually—if Jumba actually had the opportunity to analyse the data, he would know that there was another method to extract foreign objects introduced into the digestive system.
Given that he was a big eater, the first tests Jumba had run on him were on his dietary habits. He had eaten multiple sandwiches as part of Jumba's experimental checkup, and had stuffed himself silly thanks to being in the vat of orange liquid for so long. After eating so much that he felt bloated, Jumba had prodded his belly and one specific poke made him gag out his previous meal out of reflex, wasting those oh-so-scrumptious sandwiches.
Jumba had taken down a note, but it looked like he hadn't remembered the incident. Unfortunately for him, he was more concerned about the aptitude and attitude tests and didn't really pay attention to the physical tests. Jumba most likely thought it was a fluke or that he was legitimately ill and nauseated.
Too bad for you… you've just given me an invaluable advantage!
Now the question was, what was he to do?
For the first time in over an hour, 625 smiled to himself. Well, at least now there was absolutely no conflict in loyalties whatsoever towards the mission. Armed with this new knowledge, he couldn't help but feel his fur bristle in anger, feeling a sense of animosity towards his creator.
Jumba could be nabbed by the Council for all he cared! Furthermore, it was the most convenient option to him. All he had to do was simply let Pleakley lure Jumba into a trap, and then he would simply deliver the coup de grâce by handing over all of the experiment data on the network to the Council at Jumba's retrial. Virtually zero effort, just the way he liked it!
But was that really the best outcome?
625 grimaced. No, that would be way too simple. Jumba needed to pay much more for what he had done. He would deliver Jumba to them on a silver platter, but not before securing his own future. What would happen to him after all charges against him were dropped? As Experiment 625, he had nothing. And that was assuming the Grand Councilwoman wouldn't go back on her word and lock him up again. He wasn't going to let himself get betrayed again.
But once he guaranteed a favourable endgame, it was time for him to join in. There was no way he was going to let Pleakley have all the fun now. It was time for him to shake off his laziness and jump to the front lines.
But he would he be able to do that? One look at him and Jumba would instantly recognize him, putting the whole recapture mission in jeopardy. Yeesh, so many variables for him to take care of!
He shook his head, trying to focus on the problem at hand. How could he make it so that he can actively take down Jumba without the scientist recognising his identity?
Wait just one blooming moment! 625 straightened himself up as he recalled one of Jumba's boasts on that fateful day.
"My evil geniusness has allowed me to create six hundred and twenty four other genetic experiments before you, each and every last one of them with their unique and destructive capabilities designed to cause absolute chaos across galaxies! From shape shifter to Snootonium enricher, I have made it all!"
From shape shifter to Snootonium enricher…
That was it! A shapeshifter! Jumba had made a shapeshifting experiment before! He immediately pulled up the search feature, quickly receiving an instant response from the speakers of the computer.
"Search complete. One match for search query located. Experiment three-one-six, primary function: shapeshifter."
Number three-one-six, huh?
He smirked to himself, logging off the network and shutting down the computer.
The full moon shone brightly against the night sky.
It was a beautiful night. The skies were clear, the waves were breaking gently on the Hawaiian beach, and a cooling summer breeze was responsible for making the leaves on the trees rustle just ever so slightly.
However, on this night, the vegetation was not just rustling because of the wind. A certain figure was rubbing against the dense bushes by crawling against the ground… while complaining at the same time.
"This dirt is making my fur all muddy! That's like, super unhygienic! I mean, would I want my sandwiches with grimy dirt on them? Bleh!" Realising that he was ranting way off topic, and rather loudly to add, 625 lowered his volume before continuing. "Then again, I'm too lazy to wash all this dirt off… and there's the fact that water sucks."
Yeah, laugh all you want, blubber-face, but that substance IS pure evil!
Shaking the thought of water away, he looked up to find himself nearing a house. "What's this random house doing off the beaten path like that anyway?" he commented.
It had taken him a while to track Experiment 626 down and pinpoint him to the exact location he was staying at, but it wasn't an impossible task.
All he had to do was simply go back to the animal shelter wearing his cloak—amazingly no one could tell his identity despite what a horrible disguise that was—and pretended to be an auditor, asking the caretaker on duty for all the necessary documents.
Glancing at the latest document filed, he managed to get what he wanted. The one who adopted Experiment 626 was a girl by the name of Lilo Pelekai, and the house she was living in was located outside the main neighbourhood.
Now that he was actually near the house though, he had to be more careful. Making sure his sensitive ears heard absolutely no noise coming from inside, he slowly approached the location.
"Come on," he mumbled as he crept his way around the perimeter of the wooden house. "There's got to be a way in somewhere… aha!"
There was a window on the ground floor at the back that led to the kitchen that wasn't grilled. It happened to be small enough that someone of his size could jump up onto the ledge and into the house, which 625 proceeded to try to do…
…before failing miserably as his jump was nowhere near high enough for him to clear the height. "Oh, okay! I can't even jump, like, four feet?! Is this about my weight?" he moaned before getting some nearby flowerpots to use as leverage.
Climbing onto the window ledge, he was relieved to see that on the other end of the window was a kitchen sink. At least he could use the drawers there like a stepladder to get out of the house via the same window when he was done with his objective.
Tiptoeing as quietly as he can, he used his infrared vision to locate 626, which wasn't really that hard thanks to 626's distinctive shape. The experiment was on the second floor. Walking up the stairs, he opened to room door to find… a complete mess. It looked like 626 had already started to destroy whatever he could get his hands on.
His eyes finally landed on the blue figure that was lying on the ground. There he was — Experiment 626!
Turning to him, 625 was amused to see the experiment snoozing. "Well, what d'ya know? Out like a light," he commented. The experiment was navy blue in colour, but other than the ears… nothing much really looked that much different as compared to him.
He observed a crushed can of coffee gripped tightly in 626's left arm. Ah, this explained it. The caffeine probably knocked him out when the energy crash happened. This was one of the reasons why he never dipped his toasted bread in coffee, the other being that it kind of ruins the original taste.
But with 626 out like a light, this was a prime opportunity for him. Tracing 626's belly, 625 managed to make out the round shape that was the swallowed experiment container. Reaching slightly below the rounded edge, he felt a flat surface. Grinning, he realised that this was the touchpad, basically the computer to the container. 625 tapped the belly once in that area and was rewarded by hearing a very muffled computerised voice.
"Six hundred and twenty two experiments logged and functional. Experiment container ready. Select experiment."
There it was! The shapeshifter experiment was within his reach!
All he needed was just one. He wasn't greedy. Just one experiment pod would be enough to fulfill his plan.
He estimated the position of the numbers on the numerical keypad, before entering in the numbers carefully. "Three… one… six!" he muttered as he entered each number in precision.
626 suddenly gagged in his sleep, spitting out the pod. It was lucky that his saliva was mucus, which wouldn't activate the experiment. 625 quickly dove for it as it arced across the room. The last thing he wanted was to lose such a tiny pod. Luckily, he managed to catch the pod as he landed on the ground belly-first. Getting back up, he clenched it in his palm, ready to make a break for it if 626 woke up.
Although it looked like 626 was a heavy sleeper. After coughing up the pod, he immediately just returned to his original position. Heh, all the better! Now, all that was left for him to do was getting out of here.
The experiment container gave out a faint confirmation, "Experiment number—"
A loud yawn suddenly interrupted the container's message, making the rest of the words inaudible. 625 flinched and cursed his complacency. The girl! He had completely forgotten about the girl in his single-minded focus on 626 and the container! To make matters worse, his stunt to catch the pod earlier seems to have woken her up!
The girl tossed about, before stretching her arms and rubbing her eyes. Shoot! This was really bad! In less than a couple of seconds, her vision would be clear! He had no time to hide or run back down the stairs! Eyes darting left and right, he looked for the quickest escape route and went for it.
That "escape route" happened to be jumping out of the second floor window. Although, suffice to say, being a 600-series experiment, it didn't really hurt at all.
Although his poor bum had a pretty large painful bruise from the impact. Bah, if only he had a pillow on something to cushion his fall…
But all of that that didn't matter now! Not when he had finally managed to get what he wanted! "Hey now, Jumba. Don't say I didn't warn ya!" he said to himself, "In this cruel and harsh world, it's gotta be either you or me, and trust me, me and my sandwiches ain't going down without a fight!"
Holding up the small yellow orb in his palm to the moon, he triumphantly cackled. "Because with this shapeshifter experiment, I can be completely incognito! Ain't nobody going to boss me around anymore… hey, wait just a darn minute!" His face completely fell as the light from the moon illuminated the pod.
"This ain't experiment number three-one-six!"
Under the pale moonlight, 625 managed to see the number 613 printed onto the orb. He shut his eyelids, frustration clear on his glowering face.
He had entered the number on the keypad in reverse order. Instead of entering 3-1-6, he had accidentally entered in the numbers 6-1-3 and therefore had been dispensed the wrong experiment pod.
Scowling, 625 flung the incorrect pod away in anger. "Home run!" he spat, as the pod sailed away like a baseball, "Good riddance to you!"
With the girl awake, there was no chance of him making another attempt at Experiment 316 tonight. He would just have to try again another time.
However, in his agitation and hastiness to leave the scene, he had unintentionally forgotten what the Grand Councilwoman and Pleakley had briefed him about Planet Earth.
It was filled with water… and contact with water was what activated the dehydrated experiments in the experiment pods.
As the pod continued to bounce and roll, its path eventually crossed that of a water puddle. That slight contact caused the small orb to glow with a bright yellow flash that was visible for about a second, before the light disappeared as though nothing had happened.
In the middle of the silent night, no one was able to hear the experiment container beep out a muffled warning, one almost inaudible within the confines of a sleeping Experiment 626's stomach.
"Warning! Experiment six-one-three activated. Primary function: noisemaker."
A teal coloured creature with a foghorn attached onto his head materialised in place of the pod. Propping up his body on his tail to get a look, he tilted his head left and right before realising the situation.
He had been activated, on a foreign planet no less! That meant that it was time to accomplish Jumba's mission… to create total devastation to his surroundings using his natural ability.
And he proceeded to do just that, bouncing once on his tail to prepare before uncurling his foghorn-like antenna and letting loose a ear-piercing sonic blast.
625, who was walking away after throwing the pod, clutched the yellow antennas at the side of his head that doubled as his ears. "Yeow!" he winced, "Hey, now! What was that for?"
Turning around, he realised his folly. He had intended to dispose of the experiment pod, not activate the experiment within!
"Oh, for crying out loud!" 625 frustratedly thrust both his arms out, before immediately regretting that decision when a second sonic blast burst forth, threatening to burst his eardrums due to his close proximity to the high-decibel noise.
As Experiment 613 continued to blast deafening blasts of noise with excitement, 625 hurriedly took his leave. "Just my luck! Seriously, what are the chances?" he lamented as he scurried away, hands still clutching his ears in fear of suffering from any hearing loss.
"Come on! Can this night possibly get any worse?!"
Want to know what's the whole deal about the experiment log? Well, I'm not telling… yet.
This chapter marks the beginning of a new arc, finally ending that admittedly kinda draggy adoption arc. But more significantly, it also marks the start of the main meat of the story and what most of you are probably looking forward to — the precious L&S experiments! They finally appear! Everyone cheer!
Also, I did say something about Yaarp appearing in Chapter 4's A/N, didn't I? Y'all saw this coming after that suspicious denial, right? Right?
Chapter 14: Midnight Communications
Chapter 14: Midnight Communications
They were caused by vibrations which propagate through a medium, in this case, air. The larger the vibration, the higher the amplitude of the wave produced.
The teal experiment hidden in the forest chortled at the thought. Using his tail to support his body, he grinned in mischief.
He was made for high amplitude.
The megaphone-shaped foghorn on his head was designed to vibrate intensely after being charged up using the constant recoil stored from the spring tension whenever he bounced on his tail. Whenever he uncurled this weapon, it allowed him to create a large-amplitude sonic blast wave that could reach up to one hundred and ninety decibels at his best.
He frowned. Alas, at the moment he still wasn't at his peak. Still disoriented from his reactivation, the first few sonic blasts that he had sent out earlier were slightly softer than he would have preferred.
After he had sent out those initial few blasts, he paused. Shaking excess water off of his teal fur, he took a look up at the quiet night sky. It was so calming… peaceful, even.
It was really too bad that it wasn't going to last.
He grinned playfully, touching the apparatus on the top of his head. Now that he felt more recharged, he felt confident at consistently blasting at his peak potential. It was going to feel so good unleashing one of those suckers out into the serene, quiet night, shattering the peace to everyone within earshot.
Considering that sound travelled at approximately 343 metres per second, within ten seconds, everyone from within a two mile radius would have heard his ear-piercing blast. Within twenty seconds, that would have increased to a four mile radius, covering four times the area. In thirty seconds? A six mile radius, with nine times the original area disturbed!
It would continue to escalate and cavalcade until eventually everyone would hear it. And that was with just one singular blast!
He wasn't simply going to stop with just one. Not a chance.
With the rate that he would be sending out those booming blasts, the whole planet would eventually be annoyed by him. All of the noise pollution, caused by him, would travel to the point where they would eventually reverb and echo halfway across the planet. What a pleasant fantasy, and one that would soon become a reality.
He frowned. If only Jumba could see it that way as well. Till now, he still had a personal issue with his creator's perception of his purpose as an experiment.
"Ah! Very good morning to you. I am your creator, Dr. Jumba Jookiba! As you can see, these are extremely strong earmuffs I am wearing," he said, tapping against them. "And for very good reason, for you are being Experiment six-one-three, my loudest experiment yet!"
613 had looked at Jumba curiously, hesitantly touching the horn-like object that he felt protruding out of his forehead.
"Ah, so you can feel that? That is basically like loudspeaker! Your primary function is being that of noisemaker! Now with you, my trusty experiment, I will be able to cause unbelievable ruckus and wake all of my neighbours up at night!" he chuckled with glee. "Heh heh, so evil."
That was what Jumba had designated him as. A noisemaker… basically someone who made noise. It was something he couldn't understand. He really couldn't comprehend why Jumba had called his sonic blast a "noise".
Such a barbaric description! As if the sound that he produced deserved to be categorised as something with such a negative connotation. The experiment distinctly remembered folding all four of his arms at Jumba and frowning at his job assessment when he had been told that noise was something that people considered unpleasant.
It was almost as though Jumba had designed for his capabilities to be nothing more than an annoyance. The upset experiment had tried to convince Jumba otherwise, but the scientist had put his foot down on the matter. His protests couldn't stop Jumba from designating his official primary function as a "noisemaker".
Such a term didn't suit him at all. Why was it a "noise"? Why couldn't his sonic blast waves just be classified as a sound? The word noise sounded so negative, almost as though his sonic blasts weren't music to someone's ears, but rather, an irritation to their eardrums.
He scowled. So what if they didn't enjoy it? It didn't matter to him! He was the conductor, no, the composer of his own piece! His music piece didn't have to be a pitch-perfect melody with rhythm. What was wrong with his low-pitched, high-amplitude blast? Wasn't it also a harmonic beat? Why did it have to be unwanted, disregarded to the point where it was called "noise" by others?
Hmph! So what if they didn't like his sonic blasts? So what if he couldn't tune his blasts to play an orchestral symphony? There were other experiments that could play music, like for instance, that dancing Experiment 123 with her maracas. He didn't need to be one of them.
For him, he lived for noise. Such disturbance excited him, no, thrilled him! Whenever he sent out a shockwave, he could feel the excitement in his veins. His eyes would grow wide with ecstasy. It was so much fun to make the sounds that he would immediately be poised to send out another wave right after. Tranquillity didn't suit him in the slightest, not when he had the potential to disrupt it with a single blast.
And he was about to do just that. Jumping up and landing on his tail, he leaned his head forward, squeezed his eyes shut and let loose another blast from his foghorn.
Letting the foghorn curl itself back into its spiral shape, he looked up and smiled at his handiwork. This was his mission. This was what his creator expected of him.
He didn't care whether or not others thought of his sonic blasts as a harmonic sound or unwanted noise. To 613's own ears, they were a delightful symphony that deserved to be heard by all. To some, he might be seen as a noisemaker, but to himself, he was just doing what he loved.
But to a certain gerbil-like creature who was approaching his direction with very large, high-quality ear plugs stuck into his ears, the deafening sonic blasts weren't either noise or passion, but a mere distraction to his true prize.
"That stupid stretchy experiment might have slipped through my grasp, but you on the other hand, are mine! All mine!" he stood upright, cackling.
Some might call it a miracle that the gerbil managed to outwit the noise-making experiment just like that, but the truth was that 613 was distracted and couldn't hear the evil tyrant's devious monologue over his own loud blasts — pure bad luck on his end.
After all, the only other reason 613 would be unable to hear him was because he was a teeny tiny gerbil that could only squeak with an inaudible volume—
"I am not a gerbil! I am a hamster, HAMSTER!"
His ears still ringing, 625 finally stopped running after he reached an area that was decently far enough away from that ear-nuisance Experiment 613.
"Yoww…" he clutched his antennas. "That was like watching a movie in a theatre, but with the volume turned up to eleven. It really hurts!" Kicking a pebble, he angrily complained, "Great. You lost your chance to get a disguise experiment, and now your eardrums are gonna burst."
Beep! Beep! Beep! The transceiver that he had been given started beeping in a high-pitched whine.
"Gah!" 625 yelped, jumping a feet in the air. He twitched his eyebrows, already annoyed from Experiment 613 nearly turning him deaf. "Hello!" he snapped as he answered the incoming call.
"Insolent trog! How dare you talk to me in that tone!"
He winced a little as Gantu became the third thing to yell into his ear that night in a disproportionately loud volume.
Boy, 625 had not missed his face at all. He hurriedly brought his shocked facial expression back to one of neutral displeasure. He would very much wish to avoid a show of weakness, unlike what had happened at their last departure.
"Yo, Blubby! What's up?"
Gantu sneered at 625's cheerful greeting. "Hmph. It appears that you are still ever the disrespectful little punk. I oughta teach you a lesson on authority, but fortunately for you, trog-face, I don't have the time for that now." He leaned forward, his face completely filling the transceiver screen. "It has been almost twelve hours since you have landed on this miserable planet of dirt. Give me your progress in your mission of capturing that treasonous absconder."
"Well, uh…" he struggled to keep his face straight. What could he possibly say? The things that he'd just discovered about Jumba? Or that he'd suckered their own Galactic Agent to do all the work? Not a chance!
As he struggled to come up with a response, the Armada Captain smirked. "As I thought. You didn't even bother trying to nab that idiot scientist, did you?!"
"Hey! Don't doubt me!" Gantu's remark pestered him more than he had anticipated. Sure, he might be lazy, but he wasn't that lazy! At the very least he planned out the capture plan, even though it was Pleakley who had been sent to do the job itself.
"I knew that this was a bad idea from the start! In case you have forgotten, I've parked my ship in orbit around this planet. If you have any second thoughts…" he gave a savage grin, "then I will take over Jumba's capture."
To 625's own surprise, he found himself growing defensive when Gantu tried to take control from him. "Oh no you don't, shark-face! This mission is mine, you hear!" he pointed at Jumba with steely determination in his voice. "I will bring him down with my own two paws, and that's final!"
He himself was surprised that he'd burst out like that. He hadn't expected to unconsciously be so persistent on the matter. Of course he knew the reason, but he refused to reveal why. He wasn't going to reveal his personal stake in this.
They didn't need to know why he wanted Jumba out of the way. Let them think he was still doing it out of obligation to their little deal.
Needless to say, Gantu was shocked by 625's response as well. His behaviour when he had retorted didn't seem like that of the joker back at the Turo holding cell. He raised an eyebrow in suspicion. "You seem awfully enthusiastic about this… are you faking your commitment?"
"Oh, come on! I'm being completely serious about this!"
"The last time I checked, you were serious about nothing!" he snarled. "If this is your idea of a practical joke, let me tell you that I can sniff a liar out from two galactic miles away."
"Whatever makes you think I'm lying anyway?" Before Gantu could answer, he suddenly grinned sadistically. "Oh wait… I know the reason why. When you dumped me on this planet, you said something very interesting…"
Gantu felt uneasy at seeing 625's mood abruptly turning so cheery. After the Council Trial, he had learned that a happy 625 meant bad things in store. He decided to tread carefully. "What exactly… did I say?"
"Before you left, when I was in the water," 625 shuddered at the memory, "you called me a drama queen. Of course, at that moment, I was too frantic to notice what that implied, but you know what I just realised?" His smile grew broader and broader. "For you to know what a drama queen is, you had to have watched all those sappy drama shows before. That's the only possible way that a gruff, all-serious guy like you would know how a drama queen behaves."
Gantu's eyebrow twitched as 625 continued rambling about drama serials. "Seize this train of thought at once, six-two-five! I'm warning you…"
As usual, the cheeky experiment simply ignored Gantu's complaints and threats. "Yeah, it also explains why you think I'm being dishonest. That's like the standard low-budget drama plot twist—"
"Shut your big mouth, trog! O-Or I'll blast it off!" Gantu bellowed, whipping his plasma blaster from a holster and pointing it in 625's direction.
It would have been an effective threat if it wasn't for the fact that the target in question was using a communication line to talk to him. As a result, all 625 saw was Gantu pointing the blaster at him through the screen, which just made the Armada Captain look silly. He couldn't help but snicker at the sight.
Gantu, on the other hand, was not as amused. "I asked you to keep your mouth shut! Laughing is included as a subset of that order!" The finger on the trigger tightened as 625 just laughed harder, "This is your last chance! Before I—"
"Captain Gantu, please do control yourself," an amused voice uttered.
Gantu flinched back at the sudden intrusion. He wasn't the only one to do so. 625 hurriedly brought his laughter under control, inwardly cursing in his head. He'd unconsciously let his guard down.
Now that Gantu had stepped back and no longer took up the entire transceiver screen, he could see that there was a large television screen meant for secure transmissions behind the captain.
And who else would be co-transmitting and listening in to their call on Gantu's ship computer screen… but the Grand Councilwoman herself.
"You shouldn't have set your ship's computer to automatically accept incoming transmissions," she explained to a gobsmacked Gantu with a mischievous smirk. "You didn't notice that I called in, and your ship's communicator automatically accepted the call." As she spoke, her grin grew wider in proportion to that of Gantu's horror. "So as a result, I've been listening in to your little argument for quite some time…"
Her sentence was cut off as Gantu let out a choked gasp. "Ma'am, I assure you—"
"Whatever you do in your free time is of none of my concern, as long as it doesn't interfere with your work."
Gantu continued to stutter in embarrassment. "NO! I don't watch-I mean, why would I ever… it's not true!"
The Grand Councilwoman sighed at his bumbling attempts to recover. "Alright, joke time's over." She fiddled with her golden collar, straightening her cloak. As it shone brightly, she rapidly changed to her business-like persona.
"You were interrogating experiment six-two-five, right? Let's not pressure our trump card too much, shall we?" she asked in a slow but steady tone. "Need I remind you of the importance of having six-two-five be the one that brings in Jumba?" she cunningly smiled.
625's face became contorted in confusion. What did she mean by that?
Come to think of it, why was the responsibility given to me anyway? I know she said it's because we mutually benefit, but from the way she said that, there seems to be another reason too…
"No, ma'am!" Gantu's salute brought 625 out of his funk.
"Good. Now please step back, Captain Gantu." She made a sweeping motion with her right hand. "You're blocking my way. I would like to address experiment six-two-five directly."
Gantu followed the order, adjusting his communicator so that it directly faced the computer screen with the Grand Councilwoman, allowing both her and 625 to see the other clearly.
He stood up straight. The Grand Councilwoman was someone who he knew not to mess around with. He might be playful around Blubby, but he knew when to cut the jokes.
Though, he had to admit that it was hilarious that Gantu got shafted. His conversation was basically on infinite hold, and his ship became the midway point for his talk with the Grand Councilwoman.
"It is nice to see that you have become committed to the mission, experiment six-two-five," she began. "As you can see, I have placed significant faith in your success. I hope that my trust in you isn't misplaced."
"Of course not, ma'am!" he readily responded.
"I sincerely hope you mean that." She gave a cunning smile, "It would truly be a shame if I rescinded my offer to you…"
"No, no, no!" 625 waved his paws frantically. "No need for that, ma'am!" Darn it all, she still had him under her grip. She knew that there was no way he dared to defy her instructions.
"Good." Her hand then fell to her hip, "Now then, where is Dr. Jumba Jookiba?"
"Uh… I've located him, but me and Pleak ran into a slight problem, y'see."
"What slight problem?" the Grand Councilwoman raised her eyebrows, slightly sceptical. "Please elaborate, six-two-five."
"Y'know, my creator's real smart. He managed to disguise himself as part of the local population. Your poor agent Pleak's freaking out right now because Jumba had already made contact with several people," he shuffled his feet as the Grand Councilwoman gazed at him through the communicator. "I can't just make him disappear that easily, people will surely suspect something's up!" he shouted in worry.
"I can call Agent Pleakley to verify that, you know."
He grinned. Finally, he could one-up her. "That might not be the best idea. He's… in disguise—" he grimaced, remembering that Pleakley was wearing a goofy looking dress for some reason, "—and is currently with Jumba incognito. If Jumba spies you trying to contact him, your whole plan is finished!"
"That's right. I sent him to Jumba so that we can pull the 'ol betrayal trick. Let 'im trust Pleak and then I can ambush him." He gave a thumbs-up. "See! I planned something!"
"You're smarter than you look," she commented after a slight pause. "I would never have guessed."
625 bowed from the compliment. "Thanks! That's the… nicest thing anyone's said to me all day…" He couldn't keep the wistful tone out of his voice.
There was silence on the other end.
"Trog… can you repeat that?" Gantu muttered from offscreen. Even his usual snarl in his voice was missing.
"It was nothing!" 625 hurriedly yelled, opting to put on his usual mischievous face. He didn't need their pity, especially not Gantu's. "Thanks for your concern though, Blubby!" As Gantu went back on screen to scowl at 625, he simply grinned in response. "Aw, you do care about me," he said, giving his first genuine smile to the Armada Captain.
"Don't push it, trog-face."
"Ahem!" the Grand Councilwoman coughed, motioning for Gantu to move out the way. "I believe I was the one doing the talking here." Her sympathetic face turned serious. "You better be telling the truth, six-two-five. I have people everywhere. I'll know immediately if you're trying to trick or deceive me."
"Cross my heart," he performed the action with his right paw to prove his sincerity. "I'm telling the honest, 100% truth."
The Grand Councilwoman sighed. "I guess it can't be helped. I will concede that Dr. Jumba Jookiba must have planned this deception very elaborately. I'll ask Gantu to check back on you later." She put both her palms together, as if in prayer. "I look forward to your success, experiment six-two-five."
The computer screen blinked out, leaving only Gantu behind.
"Well this is awkward. So, uh, about the drama serial thing. If ya want, I got some soap opera recommendati…" 625 started, trying to poke a little bit of fun after the serious talk.
It didn't work. The moment Gantu heard those words, he hung up with a glare.
625 heaved a sigh of relief when the call finally ended. Overall, that could have gone better. But then again, it could have easily been much, much worse.
Had it really been a day since his mission started? So much stuff had happened to him over the course of those twelve hours.
He shook his head to clear his mind, slowly strolling back towards the waterfall that Gantu had dropped him off at the start of the day. He might as well sleep there. After all, it wasn't like he had any accommodation as long as Gantu's ship was in the stratosphere.
There was something the Grand Councilwoman had said in their conversation that bothered him, however. I have people everywhere… what about this statement bugged him so hard?
I have people everywhere…
He jerked forward as the answer hit him like a burnt slice of toast ejected from a faulty toaster.
If she wasn't lying and truly had other agents besides Pleakley on the planet, then they would find out about the experiment that he had unwittingly set loose — that noisemaker, experiment six-one-three!
Or worse still, Jumba's pride and joy, the destructive experiment six-two-six.
He clutched his eyes shut, pulling the floppy antennas on his head. The Council didn't know a darn thing about there being multiple genetic experiments, did they? Jumba had "conveniently" forgot to mention such a fact at his hearing with the council, hadn't he?
625 rolled his eyes. Why was he asking himself a rhetorical question? After all, the guy wanted to at least have a chance of not being tossed into prison immediately. Jumba wasn't going to go out in a blaze of glory by announcing that he had experimented on more deadly things than a sandwich maker.
He began to fret. Oh crap. They definitely weren't going to take it well. All of the good fortune that had helped him get free of his cell at the moment—the Grand Councilwoman taking Captain Gantu off the case and handing him control of the operation—was because they were under the assumption that he was the only experiment.
So what would happen if they found out the truth? Well, that was a no-brainer, really.
The real question is what would happen after. What if they withdrew their offer to him?
His eyes darkened as the thought crossed his mind. "Oh, no, the Grand Lady won't dare to withdraw her offer," he muttered darkly. "Because the Council will never find out about this!"
He was beginning to grow concerned. It was true that instinctively, some part of him had feared that the Grand Councilwoman would go back on her word to release him after Jumba's capture, but after seeing how she and Jumba had reacted upon his slip of the tongue earlier, he couldn't help but trust that they would fulfill their end of the bargain.
The problem now was that they, on the other end, wouldn't trust him if they found out about Jumba's multitude of experiments. But he couldn't very well say it! The only reason he was out of prison in the first place was because they thought he was the only one. If they found out the truth, he knew that he would be locked away with the remainder of his experiment comrades. With that information, they would no longer see him as a harmless sandwich maker, but rather as a member of Jumba's six hundred plus experiments.
Damned if he do, and damned if he don't. His only choice was to keep mum and make sure they do not find out about it. It was his only chance for a guaranteed release.
625 knew that if Jumba was captured, the scientist would keep quiet about the topic to avoid heavier charges. The only real loose end was Pleakley. If that paranoid agent discovered the truth about the nature of the experiments and blabbed to the Grand Councilwoman, he would be in deep trouble.
A literal flash of inspiration then came to him, making the experiment chuckle with glee.
It just occurred to 625 that the opposite also held true. He was going about this the roundabout way. For the exact same reasons, Jumba would not want to let the Council know about any of the experiment's existence.
Experiment 613 might currently be his problem… but in the long run would be a much bigger problem for Jumba. The utmost priority for the scientist would be to rein his own experiment in. Jumba absolutely would not let the Galactic Council know of 613's existence, or else his entire plan will fall apart.
And lo and behold, his dear friend Pleak was currently with Jumba the last time he checked. Although, out of context, he had no idea why the last time he saw Pleakley, the Galactic Agent had been squabbling with Jumba over the wheel… while simultaneously wearing a dress.
Some things were probably better left unanswered, he thought to himself while shaking his head. That image had already been seared into his mind. He would rather not remind himself of it.
Leaning against a tree, he took out a red communication transceiver that he had been given and dialled Pleakley's number.
"Hello?" A tired and confused Pleakley appeared on the transceiver screen. "Who is this—" he froze as his mind registered the yellow experiment that landed him in this mess in the first place on his own screen. "You!" he exclaimed in surprise before leaning forward nervously, as though he didn't want to be seen talking.
"Hey, hey," 625 smiled widely when he saw that he could still keep the Galactic Agent frantically on his toes. "It's been quite some time since we last talked, hasn't it Pleak?"
Pleakley frowned in annoyance. "I already told you not to call me Pleak, you little troublemaker! My name's Pleakley! Get it right or don't say it at all!" he pouted.
"Come on!" he pleaded, "It fits you perfectly. I made slimmed your name down so as to fit your scrawny body size."
"Why thank youuuu… hey, wait a second!" It struck him too late that 625 was diverting his attention to elicit praise for his unwarranted nickname. "I'm not falling for that! And before I forget! You said that it would be a relatively safe mission! Well, I'm telling you it's most definitely not!" His voice became shaky. "Jumba's crazy! He's madder than the cuckoos on Cuckootopia!"
"Well, Jumba's not crazy. He's just evil," 625 stated bluntly, before mustering up a serious expression. "But I didn't make this call to you to chat about Jumba's sanity. There's something you need to know. An extremely dangerous wildlife animal has escaped." He was trying his best not to laugh and give the whole charade away. Surely Pleakley couldn't be that dense, right?
"Oh no! A dangerous animal? Tell me the situation immediately! I need to know!" Pleakley shouted back into the receiver, forcing 625 to turn down the volume dial on the speaker of his transceiver before his ears received even more damage. Three times in a single night was enough.
"Look, just calm down here…" he began.
"Calm down? You want me to calm down?!" Pleakley's voice went high pitched as he grew more and more nervous. "I can't calm down! This is a disaster! This is even worse than Jumba! A foreign animal introduced into an environment can disrupt the food chain, causing widespread ecological damage and possible extinctions! I can't let that happen to this precious wildlife reserve!"
Is Pleakley allergic to the word "dangerous"?
"Listen to me!" 625 managed to get his words in, interrupting Pleakley's panic-induced imagination. "Your new priority, Pleak, is to make sure that this 'extremely dangerous' wildlife animal is contained. If you'd just listen to me, I would've told you that this "so-called dangerous" situation is possible to avert," he grumbled, letting his annoyance show.
625 gave a savage grin. "Why, just ask Jumba for help."
"Ask him for help? That crazy scientist?" Pleakley retorted, rolling his single eye in disbelief. "What good would that do? He's a mad, dangerous escaped criminal! He won't make the situation better, he'll just make it worse!"
625 rapidly lost his patience. "Oh, I dunno, just tell him the escaped creature is a blue loud noisemaker."
"What difference would that make?!"
"Just trust me, okay?"
"Trust you? You?!" Pleakley folded his arms, his eye looking away in annoyance. "The last time I trusted you, I almost got stampeded over by a crowd, and on top of that, ended up riding on a death trap!"
"Hey, don't put words in my mouth," he protested. "All I asked you to do was wait at the entrance of the Birds of Paradise Hotel. I didn't ask you to ride in the same vehicle as Jumba, you did that on your own accord." He laughed as Pleakley gave a hmph and looked away. "And as for the stampede? Bad luck, I suppose."
"Come on, be serious! How do I find that dangerous animal?" he pleaded.
"I am serious, Pleak. Jumba would know what to do. Don't worry, the noise-making rascal will be easy to find. You can hear 'im from miles away!"
"Why him? Why Jumba?" Even though 625 could only see Pleakley through the transceiver, he could detect his nervousness.
"Why not?" 625 flashed his teeth in response.
Yes! Pleakley fell for the bait. His plan was falling into place.
He was going to play them both against each other.
Jumba would recognise Experiment 613, but wouldn't want Pleakley to find out about his remaining experiments, and hence be forced to go along with the charade. Pleakley, legitimately fearing a wildlife crisis, would tag along, denying Jumba the chance to reconcile with 613 lest he loses Pleakley, who he thinks would be his only ticket out of Earth.
End hypothetical result? He wouldn't even have to lift a finger in the 613 situation, just the way he liked it. Jumba would end up taking care of the entire problem for him.
"Hey! Pleakley! Who are you talking to on phone?!"
625 froze stiff for just a moment, before immediately tossing the red transceiver away from him so that his face wouldn't be transmitted via video.
When he finally calmed down, he allowed a sardonic grin to form. How long has it been since he heard that voice… Jumba's voice.
Oh, don't worry. He carried on smirking as he eyed the transceiver on the ground. From the distance he was standing, he was still able to listen in on the call despite not being in the video transmission. You'll get what's coming to you soon enough, Jumba…
"Hey! Pleakley! Who are you talking to on phone?!"
All four of his eyes had lit up when he turned around and happened to see Pleakley on the line. It didn't matter if it was a mere operator, this was his ticket out of here! Without even a prompt, he snatched the red transceiver out of Pleakley's arm. "Hello?!"
There was no one on the other end.
"Pleakley! Who was being on transceiver just now?"
Pleakley jumped, before laughing nervously. "Oh, nobody. It was nobody important, that is! Just the operator, haha, couldn't get through to anyone important." He frantically darted his eye left and right, avoiding Jumba's piercing gaze.
He narrowed his eyes. That seemed very suspicious. But, before Jumba could question him, he heard the shuffling of footsteps approaching.
"Isn't it a little late for someone like you to be sightseeing, Jumba?"
That squeaky voice…! Turning around, he saw a tiny gerbil in a cape with a triumphant smirk on his face.
"Dr. Hamsterviel!" Jumba gasped in surprise before his anger took over at seeing the instigator of his problems still very much alive. "You! What is the meaning of this?"
"Yes, it is indeed I, the great Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel!" Hamsterviel's sneer could be heard as a distinct rasp that complimented his snivelling voice. "Surprised to see me alive and kicking?"
"Doctor Jacques von… who? I've never heard of… woah!" Before he could finish his question, a confused Pleakley was shoved aside by Jumba, who then immediately shouted his own questions. "How did you survive aircraft freefall? And just what are you doing being here on dirt planet?" he demanded.
"You are very talkative today, aren't you? So many questions… it's really such a pity that I don't have the time to answer any of them," he spat. "Muhahaha! It appears I have the upper hand now."
Seeing Jumba's "you-can't-be-serious" look, he tugged on a leash held in his paw, bringing his captive towards Jumba and Pleakley's line of sight.
"Recognize this, Jumba?" he taunted, laughing when Jumba's jaw dropped.
"Experimmmmmeent…ally trouble!" Jumba almost called out Experiment 613 by his number until he remembered that Pleakley was by his side, forcing him to swap the word syllable at the last second. "Y-You! Let go of my exper-experienced… uh, never mind." He shook his head to clear his muddled thoughts. "You know what I mean!"
"Let go of him? Never! You see this device I attached to him?" he pointed at a metallic collar attached to 613's neck. "I pilfered this electric collar from a hardware store and modified the transistors and step-up transformers so that the voltage is one thousand times the original! In other words, he will do as I say… unless he wants two thousand volts of electricity running through him!"
"That's terrible!" Pleakley yelled, looking at 613 with sympathy, "You're a monster!"
"Oh, quit your yapping. And now," Hamsterviel cackled, "you will know exactly how it feels like to have a mass weapon of destruction turned against you, Jumba!"
"Mass weapon of destruction?" Jumba turned pale at Pleakley's bewildered voice, fearing that he would figure it out.
Luckily, for now Pleakley was more focused on Experiment 613 than Hamsterviel. Pleakley gazed at the experiment, who was wincing in pain from the collar stuck on his neck. "But that thing's so innocent and cute! How can it be a mass weapon of destruction?"
"Ah, but looks can be deceiving. This little slave right here," he gestured at a growling 613, "is a noisemaker capable of delivering sonic blasts louder than a spaceship going into hyperdrive. Imagine the sheer destruction he could cause in my possession!"
Jumba felt sweat sticking onto his tank top as Pleakley took in all of the information that Hamsterviel had given.
That stupid Hamsterviel was going to ruin everything! Sooner or later the cat would be out of the bag if he continued bragging. It didn't matter if Pleakley currently didn't know that he was an escaped felon, he would surely figure it out if Hamsterviel said something that could link him to villainy.
And knowing Hamsterviel, the probability of him saying something he shouldn't was way too high.
As of now, he still didn't have his experiment container or Experiment 626 with him. Since he refused to leave Earth without those two items in his possession, he had to keep his identity secret to avoid detection. If his cover was blown, it was all over.
This meant that he couldn't let a random tourist find out about his genetic experiments… at any cost.
Jumba slowly reached into his shirt and felt the cool plastic of the plasma blaster within. Sure, the Armada would be on his tail if a random tourist like Pleakley disappeared on a planet like this, but the alternative was far worse. With the Galactic Council under the impression that 625 was his only experiment, should Hamsterviel reveal the existence of his other six hundred-odd experiments…
Should that really happen, he would have to silence Pleakley. And the easiest way to do that was to make sure that he disappeared.
Jumba slipped his index finger into the trigger, closing his palm around the handle. As he gripped onto the plasma blaster, he trained his eyes on Pleakley. Pleakley himself didn't notice that Jumba's hardened gaze had switched its focus from Hamsterviel to him.
If that guy figured out the truth… he would be forced to turn his weapon on Pleakley.
Happy New Year, guys! First chapter of the year! It's been quite a while since the last update, so here's a long chapter.
625 had let Pleakley and Jumba take care of Experiment 613, but he hadn't put Hamsterviel into consideration. Will the evil hamster's big mouth reveal everything?
Chapter 15: High Decibel Dilemma
Chapter 15: High Decibel Dilemma
"Yes, it is indeed I, the great Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel! Surprised to see me alive and kicking?"
A very dangerous four-eyed alien and what appeared to be a puny, diminutive talking gerbil were both staring the other down. To be perfectly frank, Pleakley didn't know what to make of the situation.
He had been apprehensive about the mission from the moment he had been suckered into the job by 625. Hence, he had come to Planet Earth fully prepared for the worst case scenario.
At least that was what he had thought. Too bad no amount of prior preparation could have prepared him for this. Sure, he had expected the cheeky little sandwich-obsessed experiment to torment him throughout the entire mission. Yes, he had packed in seven sets of clothes in anticipation of Earth's wet climate. And he had even been mentally prepared—somewhat, at least—for a fight with the escaped Jumba.
But he had not put "talking gerbil" into his calculations. This nonsense was just way too unexpected on the weirdness scale. The thought had never crossed his mind, not even in the most absurd of his fleeting dreams.
He had to admit, he hadn't 100% believed that troublemaking yellow experiment when 625 had warned him about a wild animal causing chaos. But, lo and behold, there indeed was a troublemaking noisemaker after all. He had no idea who this gerbil was supposed to be, or why he was somehow able to recognise Jumba right away.
All he was definitely certain of was that this was very, very bad.
"Doctor Jacques von… who?" Pleakley commented, hand to his chin. Hamsterviel? He's a hamster? I thought that guy was a gerbil!
Wait… I'm certain I heard the name Hamsterviel from somewhere before. He racked his head, struggling to recall the faint memory from within the synapses of his brain. To try and prompt his memory, he decided to bait the hamster into revealing more. "I've never heard of… woah!"
He couldn't even finish his statement before Jumba rudely shoved him to the ground. "That was uncalled for…" he mumbled in pain, clutching his forehead.
Less than a meter away, Jumba towered above him. "How did you survive aircraft freefall? And just what are you doing being here on dirt planet?" he yelled at Hamsterviel.
"You are very talkative today, aren't you? So many questions… it's really such a pity that I don't have the time to answer any of them." He shook his head while flashing a cocky smirk. "Muhahaha! It appears I have the upper hand now. Recognize this, Jumba?"
Pleakley gasped as Hamsterviel swept his cape to one side, unveiling a small light blue creature placed in a leash. The leash consisted of a collar attached to its neck, along with a thick rope which trailed to the hamster's paw.
How could he? Pleakley winced with a gasp as the creature whimpered slightly. A tug on the leash from Hamsterviel caused the collar to contract slightly, basically holding its captive in a chokehold and leaving it panting and breathless.
Pleakley couldn't take it. That poor creature was suffering! He couldn't believe the nerve of the gerbil-no, hamster. This definitely violated more than a few international galactic laws. He found himself wanting to speak out against this complete and utter travesty, despite his mind screaming that this was a bad idea.
Jumba, however, beat him to it. The scientist looked just as horrified by this sudden turn of events. "Experimmmmmeent…ally trouble! Y-You! Let go of my exper-experienced… uh, never mind." He vigorously shook his head before snapping with a glare, "You know what I mean!"
"Let go of him?" Hamsterviel drawled. For a moment, Pleakley had his hopes up, hoping that perhaps this 'Dr. Hamsterviel' would listen to reason.
Those hopes were then dashed in less time than it took for him to blink.
"Never!" Hamsterviel rubbed his hands together in glee. "You see this device I attached to him?" He pointed at a metallic collar attached to his captive's neck. "I pilfered this electric collar from a hardware store and modified the transistors and step-up transformers so that the voltage is one thousand times the original! In other words, he will do as I say… unless he wants two thousand volts of electricity running through him!"
Y-Yikes! An electric current running at two thousand volts?! This is so not good! Even worse, I don't think he's bluffing either, judging from his expression… Pleakley softly gazed in pity at the frightened creature that was trapped, feeling anger well up from within him.
"That's terrible! You're a monster!"
Pleakley was surprised by his own sudden second wind of courage. The normal him from just a few days ago would have already scampered away from the escalating hazardous situation. But after the little joyride he had been forced through, which ended in him and Jumba crashing into a ditch, his threshold had definitely gone up. He still agreed that it was hasty to yell at the diminutive Hamsterviel like that, yes, but a callous being like him needed to be called out!
"Oh, quit your yapping." Hamsterviel scoffed, completely unfazed by Pleakley's objection. "And as for you, Jumba, you will know exactly how it feels like to have a mass weapon of destruction turned against you!"
"Mass weapon of destruction?" he queried. Now this was unusual. Why would he say that?
Something is up here! How could it possibly be a weapon? Is he bluffing? He decided to try his luck and pursued his thoughts, "But that thing's so innocent and cute! How can it be a mass weapon of destruction?"
Hamsterviel grinned at Pleakley, which irritated the Federation Agent to no end. He was starting to feel like he was in a joke where everyone but him knew the punchline. "Ah, but looks can be deceiving," he finally said, "This little slave right here is a noisemaker capable of delivering sonic blasts louder than a spaceship going into hyperdrive. Imagine the sheer destruction he could cause in my possession!"
Pleakley looked at the so-called "noisemaker", but he couldn't visualise it. What Hamsterviel had portrayed with his words was that it was a lean, mean killing machine, but at the moment, all Pleakley could see was a terrified prisoner begging for help.
"I don't believe you." Pleakley locked his eye with Hamsterviel's. "You're just trying to twist around the truth!"
Hamsterviel looked briefly surprised, but his shock was soon replaced by a smirk, one that Pleakley decided he'd seen way too many times in a single day. "Hah! If you don't believe the words of the great Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel, then it looks like I will have to personally show you proof myself. Now then, experim—"
"Hamsterviel!" Jumba interjected, literally rushing between the two to cut off any further conversation. "One more word out of you and I will personally shut your mouth!" Jumba tried to keep his voice level, but Pleakley could sense that he was reaching the limit of his patience.
"Hahahaha! You will personally do what, Jumba? I'll like to see you try when you have absolutely nothing on this godforsaken planet!" The overconfident hamster had a very wide grin on his face as he launched himself into a monologue. Pleakley didn't like that Hamsterviel exhibited an aura of cockiness, yet didn't really appear to have anything to back his own claims up.
It looked like the trapped noisemaker agreed with him as well. The lad had been snarling at Hamsterviel as well. However, when he felt Pleakley's eye on him, it proceeded to gaze up at the agent with his own pleading eyes.
Looking at his helpless expression, Pleakley knew that Hamsterviel had to be lying. He could never buy that crazy hamster's explanation. There was no way that someone like that would willingly cause or be capable of the destruction that Hamsterviel had described.
"He was not an easy catch, in case you were wondering. I had to prepare extensively for your little friend's capture." Hamsterviel tapped the earpiece lodged in his ear with a clang. "You see this? I stole these noise-cancelling headphones and set a noise gate on the microphone attached to it," he said, holding up a wireless microphone which Pleakley assumed was connected to has noise-drowning earpiece. "Some weapon, Jumba! As long as the noise gate is active, your noisemaker brat can't harm my ears!"
"Noise gate? What's that?" The term was beyond Pleakley. He majored in Geography and Biology, not this!
Hamsterviel tapped his foot in impatience. "How can you not know what a primitive thing like a noise gate does?" he muttered, "A noise gate monitors an audio signal and automatically cancels out sounds of a certain threshold. In this case, I personally modified the microphone of my headphones to cancel out low-pitched sounds." He didn't notice that 613 had perked up as he explained how his system worked to Pleakley. "You see? This way, I won't get deafened by that noisy little pest, but I can still be able to hear your screams of agony. You will rued the day you turned your back on me, Jumba!"
"Hamsterviel, you hypocrite…!" Jumba let out a curse.
"Oh, shut up! Think of this as payback for sucking me out of my spaceship! You tried to kill me, you stupid ignorant—"
"Jumba did no such thing!" Jumba rebuked. "You've been doing all that yourself, Hamsterviel! You smashed your own windscreen with your own plasma blaster. It was your fault that the spaceship cabin was depressurized and crashed onto populated dirt planet."
"How dare you imply that it was my fault!" Hamsterviel stood up straight, his misplaced pride literally oozing out of his stiff posture. "I don't think you truly believe what you're saying either. Just look at your stupefied face! You look like you're about to pass out! That helplessly helpless expression suits you perfectly, Jumba!"
"Wait one moment!" Pleakley flailed both of his arms like a windshield wiper to grab their attention. To be honest, Pleakley had thought that they had both forgotten about the green alien stuck at the side while they were ranting. "You had a partner?"
"We are not partners!" they both yelled simultaneously. The two stared at him like he was crazy.
"But you guys act like you know one another!"
"We are business acquaintances. Nothing more," Jumba scowled.
"He is correct. We can never be partners," Hamsterviel spat. "Not to mention, this guy stowed away on my ship. MY ship!" he added.
To avoid the awkwardness that had started to fester, and to try to contain this new crisis, Pleakley decided to change the topic. "So your name's Jumba?" he quipped. Obviously he had known of Jumba's real identity for a long time, but since the scientist had never formally introduced himself to him—for obvious reasons—Pleakley had been forced to pretend that he hadn't known.
Jumba scowled, eyes narrowing. "Yes, that is indeed Jumba's name," he started carefully, "But name is not being important now. What is of bigger importance is that we be stopping Hamsterviel!"
"You want to stop that guy too?" Pleakley was surprised. He would have assumed that Jumba, being an evil scientist, would be supportive of the evil rodent, but it seemed to appear that the opposite was more applicable in this scenario.
"Really? You're going to take Jumba's side on this?" Hamsterviel looked at Pleakley contemplatively. "I suggest you think very carefully about this choice. It would certainly be a shame—" he folded his arms, at least as best as he could when one hand was holding a remote and the other gripping onto a rope, "—if you chose poorly."
Pleakley frowned, closing his eye in frustration. Hamsterviel had a point. No matter who he assisted, the Grand Councilwoman wouldn't like it. When had a simple capture mission gone so wrong? Wishing 625 a terrible fate beneath his breath, he looked up at the stars, wishing he was anywhere else in the galaxy but where he currently was.
Nope. He was still in the forest with two very mad people.
It looked like he had no choice but to pick his poison. Jumba might be an escaped criminal, but this hamster was currently the bigger threat to Earth's habitat. Between the two…
"Yeah, bite me!" he shouted. "I'm with Jumba on this!"
Jumba folded his arms. "Hmph! Looks like you lost his support, Hamsterviel."
"Shut up, Jumba! It's still two-on-two as long as I have him," Hamsterviel said, hitting 613 on the head. The experiment snarled from the physical contact and inched away.
"Can't he just run away from the hamster guy?" Pleakley asked Jumba, referring to the captured 613. "If you compare their sizes, the hamster guy shouldn't be able to hold onto him. He's so much bigger than—"
"Are you trying to make fun of my weight?" Hamsterviel rubbed his stomach with an annoyed look. "I'll have you know that I'm not as puny as I appear. I weigh a glorious three kilos!"
"What are you two staring at me like that for?!" Hamsterviel glared at Pleakley and Jumba, who were both trying to stifle their giggles. "It's not funny!" He jerked his head around when 613 also chuckled out loud as well. "Shut up, all of you!"
"It's just that four kilograms is pretty heavy for your species." Pleakley commented, still trying to restrain his laughter. "Normally, gerbils weigh—"
"I am NOT a gerbil!" Hamsterviel pawed the ground, driving his footprint into the dirt, "It is hamster, hamster! Get it right, you ignoramus!" There was a pause as Hamsterviel paused and lowered his voice. "Oh, and in case you were wondering why this brat isn't running away…" he pointed to an offended noisemaking captive, "If he even tries to make the slightest attempt of escape, I would personally zap him with enough electricity to power this whole entire stinking island!"
"You wouldn't!" Pleakley cried, "What did that poor thing ever do to you, Hamsterwheel!"
Hamsterviel's eyebrows twitched as the newcomer botched his name up just like everyone else. "How dare you butcher my name! It is pronounced Hamsterviel!" he shrieked.
Noticing that Hamsterviel was distracted, to everyone's surprise, 613 took the opportunity to aim his foghorn upwards, in the caped hamster's direction.
"What are you—"
Experiment 613 let loose a blast, cutting off Hamsterviel's surprised words.
To Hamsterviel's surprise, his ears were able to hear the deafening noise. He clasped the top of his ears, folding his earlobes down around his earbuds. "How did you get past my…" Hamsterviel cut his rant short as instantly he realised the answer.
When he explained how his audio protection worked to Pleakley, he had inadvertently revealed that it relied on cutting out low-pitched noise. Therefore, the experiment had filed away the knowledge until his captor had his guard down, and then proceeded to blast a high-pitched one instead.
"You sneaky little…!" Noticing that he let go of the end of the rope attached to the leash, he hurriedly made a grab for it. At the last moment, Hamsterviel managed to hold on to the last few inches of the rope, which yanked the fleeing 613 back. He ignored the frayed rope causing friction burns to his paw, choosing instead to prioritize yelling at 613 for the experiment's blatant escape attempt. "How dare you?! You pesky little undignified runt… don't you know how to keep still? Don't you mess with me, I am your new master now! Cease your scuffling at once!"
613 scowled at the order, instead opting to resume struggling to get the tight collar off him in defiance. In response, Hamsterviel gritted his buck teeth, holding on even tighter to the leash rope. "You dare defy me? I'm the one in charge here, you stubborn brat." He held up the remote with a sinister grin, "As long as I have this little gizmo, you have to do as I demand."
"Or, if you prefer," he lowered his voice, "I can ensure that a very unhealthy amount of electricity will blast through your body…" He jammed down the red button in the centre of the remote, which started a reaction that caused bright sparks to fly out of the collar. 613 yelped, clutching the collar and trying to rip it off, but to no avail.
"Ha! Look at you now, you worthless little noisemaker! You dared to try me? You're worth nothing to me!"
613 fought past his pain to roll his eyes at the obvious lie appended to the end of Hamsterviel's statement. If the experiment truly was insignificant to that mad scientist, then he would have already gotten rid of him.
"You're crazy! That's virtually torture! Don't you harm a hair on the poor little thing!" Pleakley waved his hands in panic, "Stop that immediately, you… you evil monster!"
Hamsterviel released his hold on the button setting off the electric shock. It appeared that he was briefly surprised by Pleakley's remark. "You're insinuating that I'm an evil monster?" He broke out into a smile before going into an uproar. "Hahahaha! Well, that is perfectly accurate! Because I am an evil monster! Thank you oh-so-very much for the compliment! It's very appreciated!"
"Gah!" Pleakley had just about had it with this guy. "Don't act like that sarcastic jerk six—" He froze, cutting himself off.
He was such an idiot! He'd almost said six-two-five in front of Jumba.
"Six what?" The scientist eyed him suspiciously. "What were you about to say?"
Pleakley gulped in terror and tried to play it off. "Like the newscaster at six!" he shouted rapidly. "Oh, I hate her! She's so bossy and sarcastic! How did she ever get the job?" He let out a deep breath. He really hoped that the six o'clock intergalactic news really had a newscaster like that. If not, he would have just dug his own grave.
Jumba relaxed and focused his attention back on the screaming Hamsterviel, who was throwing insults at the two for ignoring his magnificent spiel during their brief spat.
"Are you two nitwits listening to me?"
Pleakley folded his arms. After seeing Hamsterviel get blasted by his own captive, he'd lost a little respect for the card-carrying villain. Overall Jumba was much scarier than him in terms of actually being a threat.
"I don't think so," Pleakley started, making up his mind to tell the stuck-up hamster what he really thought of him, "You don't look remotely threatening at all."
"You…! You haven't seen anything yet! I will soon show you why the whole galaxy will fear me!" he snarled. "Now!" he barked at 613. "Or I'll shock you again! And make sure it's low-pitched as well or you'll be fried!" he added in an afterthought, cupping his ears in precaution.
613's face twisted into an expression of pity, before letting out a tired sigh. As it faced Jumba and Pleakley, the Galactic Agent could see an apologetic gaze adorn his figure before he uncurled his foghorn.
"Nyahhahahhaha!" Hamsterviel laughed as Jumba clutched his ears, falling to his knees to mitigate the blast. "See this? This is true power, all in my paw! And when I have got all six hundred—hey! Wait one blooming minute here!" Hamsterviel stopped short when he realized that only Jumba was on the ground in agony.
"You!" He pointed at Pleakley, repeatedly jumping up and down in fury. "How are you unaffected by my lowly servant's sonic blasting?! You should be clasping your ears in agony, screaming for your mummy!"
"Huh?" Pleakley tilted his head in confusion. "What're you talking about?"
"Are you deaf, you nincompoop? I just asked you a question! Do not look at me with that befuddled gaze in your eye!" He stomped his foot into the ground. "Grrrr… how are you still standing?!"
"I-It doesn't affect you?" Jumba summarized Hamsterviel's remark, surprise evident in his eyes. "How?"
Hamsterviel growled at Jumba. "Don't you steal my question, I asked him first!" he tapped his foot at Pleakley, "Answer me!"
"Well, my species doesn't have any ears. My Plorgonarian quartz flange—" he flicked the antenna-like thing on his head, "—can read several sets of subspace ether transmissions."
"So you're immune to his sonic blasts?" Jumba gaped at Pleakley's explanation, "Jumba cannot be believing that he never thought of that." He then laughed haughtily, making Pleakley grow apprehensive. How could that scientist possibly find any humor in this grim and chaotic situation?
"But I'm afraid this means you've lost your little leverage, Dr. Hamsterviel. You were planning on holding him as hostage, right?"
"No, Jumba be thinking that you be quiet. You have been running this show for too long!" Hamsterviel gasped as Jumba made a subtle movement with his right arm.
"Get him!" he yelled at 613, pointing his finger in Pleakley's direction.
"Yikes, I take that back!" Pleakley covered his eye with both his hands, "Don't hurt me, please!"
"Not you, green guy!" Hamsterviel sneered, his finger wavering slightly over the remote. "Behind him! Aim at Jumba!"
"I don't think so, Hamsterviel." Jumba's cold tone of voice made a chill run down Pleakley's spine. He looked around, only to see a flash of orange held in Jumba's hand.
The plasma blaster!
How could he have forgotten about it? Jumba had shown the blaster to him when they were both in the vehicle together. The weapon must still be serviceable, and to make matters worse, it was definitely live, shown by the mad scientist pointing the barrel in Hamsterviel's direction.
"Do not be making me fire this weapon, Hamsterviel!" he ordered the fuming hamster. "Drop the remote now."
Hamsterviel obliged by throwing the remote to one side, but not without protest. "You… you! It was all a stupid distraction!" he screamed.
"Not exactly," Jumba shrugged. "But Pleakley played his role rather well," he complimented, flashing a genuine smile to the alien in question.
"Wait a minute!" Pleakley turned on Jumba, "You were using me as bait? How could you?!"
"No…" Jumba denied, waving the accusation off. Pleakley didn't buy his tone in the slightest.
That slight movement of the hand was all the hesitation Hamsterviel needed. He ran for it, cape flowing in the wind. Pleakley cried out as Jumba immediately fired a blast of molten plasma at where Hamsterviel once was, only to miss him by about a foot. By the time he managed to get a good visual on Hamsterviel, he had already snatched back the remote. His thumb was hovering around the red button, ready to press it at a moment's notice.
"If you so much as twitch that finger around the trigger, I will end him! Don't think I won't get rid of my hostage! I've got many, many more of your friends to pick from, Jumba!" His face was pitch black with anger. Whatever humorous behaviour he had displayed earlier was now long gone. "Oh, how the tables have turned," he sneered as he walked back to a cowering 613. The terrified experiment was then pulled even closer to him. Pleakley had no doubt that the desperate hamster intended to use him as a body shield if necessary. "It appears that it is now you who would be dropping your weapon."
Jumba just stared at the hamster.
"DO IT!" He then feigned pushing the button on the remote, eliciting cries of horror from everyone. "Throw that blasted thing aside! Now!"
Jumba weighed his options and came to a mortifying conclusion. Besides 613, he had no other experiment with him for now. If Hamsterviel followed through, he'd be left with nothing all over again. At least he could account on Hamsterviel getting overconfident later on if he dropped the plasma blaster now.
Therefore, he opted to throw his weapon sideways, ensuring that if Hamsterviel double-crossed him he could reach the weapon before him.
Unfortunately, in his haste to disarm himself, he and Hamsterviel had forgotten one rather essential thing — an unpredictable variable in their calculations.
The plasma blaster spun about in the air, flying in an arc before landing in Pleakley's outstretched arms. Both Jumba and Hamsterviel froze as Pleakley fumbled with the gun before managing to get a firm grip on it.
It had slipped both their minds that there was an outsider involved this time. Jumba hadn't even realised that the direction he had sent the blaster in was Pleakley's.
And now there was a new problem — Pleakley could turn the tables by handing the blaster to whomever he chose.
"Alright," Jumba gestured to the still-stunned Pleakley, who was staring at the blaster in his arms, "Give me the weapon, Pleakley."
Pleakley stayed there, frozen. If there was any indication he heard Jumba, he didn't show it.
"Don't you trust me, Pleakley?!" Jumba said in a desperate tone. He was beginning to get really panicky. Hamsterviel couldn't corner him now. "Come on now," he reassured, "be handing Jumba plasma blaster."
Hamsterviel grinned as he realized he could play this to his advantage. "Him trusting you, Jumba? Don't make me laugh!"
Pleakley noticed Hamsterviel's smug face and decided immediately that he did not like the look Hamsterviel had or the impending tone the words carried. "Hahahaha!" he continued, "That poor fool, he doesn't even know who you really are…"
"Don't you dare, Hamsterviel!" Jumba shouted, reflexively reaching into his shirt to draw a now-nonexistent weapon, forgetting for a moment that the blaster was with Pleakley. He then shifted his eyes nervously between Pleakley and Hamsterviel. "You wouldn't!"
"You think you know about Jumba? Oh, you poor, naïve fool." Hamsterviel started pacing slowly. "His full name is Dr. Jumba Jookiba. And his occupation? Full-time evil scientist!"
Pleakley saw Jumba audibly gulp, rage imbued into his eyes. He could see that this was so not how Jumba had wanted the situation to go.
"Didn't know that now, did you? Can you really trust someone like that with a dangerous weapon? How about you let go of—"
"And hand it to you? You're nuts!" Pleakley exclaimed.
"What?!" Hamsterviel sounded genuinely shocked this time. "Why won't you hand it to me?! I'm obviously the better choice!"
"You think I can't tell what's going on? I think you're lying about Jumba here!" Not that he would admit otherwise, but Pleakley knew that he had to dissuade Jumba from guessing he had known the truth from the start.
That, and that Hamsterviel had done way more damage than Jumba as of now. He felt justified in telling him off.
"So you actually trust Jumba? You stupid, stupid fool!"
"I didn't say I trusted him! Don't infer that. I'm saying that neither of you deserve a weapon like this! After all, you can't force me to hand it over." He finished his sentence by pointing the plasma blaster at Hamsterviel's face.
"Ahahahaha!" Hamsterviel went into hysterics, not giving the slightest reaction of fright at the weapon pointed at him. "A mere annoyance like you is seriously trying to threaten me? Me, the soon-to-be ruler of the galaxy? What a humorless joke, truly pathetic!"
"Hamsterviel…" Jumba snarled from the sidelines.
Hamsterviel gave a sinister smirk. "It is really such a shame, but you cannot fool a super genius like me! Look at yourself! You're shaking like a leaf in a galestorm."
Pleakley's grip on the weapon tightened. He had to struggle to hold the blaster steady. Seeing him lose confidence, Hamsterviel strode forward, flipping his cape. "You've never fired a weapon before in your life, have you? Oh, this is rich! You don't have the guts to shoot me! Nyahahah! You spineless wimp!"
Pleakley licked his lips. The more Hamsterviel continued his twisted words, the more he felt sick.
No, he told himself as he looked at Hamsterviel's cowering captive. He tried his best to keep his quivering arm still and hold the plasma blaster level. Don't let him get to you. Regain your composure! I can do this. I have to do this!
He carefully took aim, squinting his eyelid. Taking a deep breath, he squeezed the trigger.
"What the—!" Hamsterviel instinctively jumped to the left to take cover. The plasma fired harmlessly past him, missing him by about a yard. "You little… I didn't think you'd actually shoot!" he mumbled in a shaky voice. "Oh, that is it! You are now too great of a risk. Which means…"
"Get rid of that upstart immediately!" he ordered, jabbing his finger straight at Pleakley. Surprisingly to Hamsterviel, Pleakley wasn't covering like before. He had a knowing smile on his face.
And sure enough, there was a significant lack of a sonic blast.
Hamsterviel stamped his foot down on the earth. He had had enough. "How dare you defy me!" He jabbed down on the red button, expecting to hear 613's tortured yelps.
Once again, there was a significant lack of terrified pained shouts and fizzling of electricity.
"What is going on around here? Why is nobody doing as I command?!" The irritated tyrant whirled around to see what was wrong, only to come to a horrifying realization when he saw a melted hunk of plastic on the ground next to 613.
"Nooooo!" he yelped in terror as the full brunt of the situation hit him like a ton of bricks. "Not the electric collar!"
The stray plasma blast had hit it directly, freeing Experiment 613 from his control.
Pleakley chuckled nervously, curtsying at the now-panicking hamster. "I guess I've been caught out?"
"Y-You!" Hamsterviel screamed at Pleakley in an unrestrained voice. "You were aiming for the collar all along! How dare you! You dare to defy the great Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel? When I take over, I'll make sure you get special treatment—"
A cough interrupted Hamsterviel's enraged spiel. He turned around, only to see an enraged 613 barely two feet behind him. The icing on the cake was that the fuming experiment was pointing his head downwards to aim his large foghorn directly at his face.
"Uh-oh," he meeped, his terror rapidly rising in proportion to 613's own growing grin.
Seeing Hamsterviel in a state of panic, the experiment took his chance. He huffed, taking a deep breath before letting loose a point-blank sonic blast right at Hamsterviel.
"Yarghhh!" Hamsterviel yelled, blown off his feet due to his light weight. Soaring through the sky like an unguided missile, his impromptu flight through the air was cut short when he smacked head-first into an oncoming tree with a loud thwack.
Jumba and Pleakley both winced from the crash. The sound from the impact was so loud that even Pleakley felt for him. As for 613, he couldn't care less. The experiment simply chuckled with glee, sticking his tongue out at the limo hamster. Karma had taken its revenge on his captor.
Hamsterviel was instantly knocked unconscious from the sheer brunt force of the impact and the speed he had been travelling at before crashing right into the tree. He lay still for a few seconds, almost like he was stuck onto the tree, before limply slipping down the trunk thanks to gravity. When he finally landed on the ground, he fell back on his cape, with scratches visible all over his face.
"Yeowch," Pleakley finally said as the branches and leaves finally stopped rustling, "That has got to hurt."
He then turned around to the proud looking creature that had just been freed from Hamsterviel's control. "You know," Pleakley admitted while stroking the horn on his forehead, "I thought you were a dangerous animal. At least that's what I had been told, that a noisemaker was the troublemaker." The blue creature looked up from Pleakley's petting to give a betrayed pout in defiance. Pleakley smiled at his cute reaction and decided to ease his fears. "But that gerbil over there was the real nuisance to Earth, wasn't he? You're just misunderstood, aren't you?"
It looked up at Pleakley curiously, eyes glistening before nodding its head up and down vigorously.
"You agree with me?" Pleakley beamed. "I knew it!"
"Are you being okay?!" a new voice interjected. Pleakley was surprised to see Jumba run over to the freed creature that Hamsterviel had formerly controlled.
"Oh no, you don't!" Pleakley pulled him away from Jumba, ignoring the look of displeasure that the scientist was showing. "This little guy will be with me! Speaking of… do you have a name, little guy?"
It shook its head.
"Oh no, that will not do. Hmmm, let me think… oh, I know!" Pleakley's face lit up. "I have the perfect name for you!" The thin alien held him up in his arms.
"From now on, you shall be known as Yaarp!"
613 nodded along to the name, his expression beaming with joy.
"Yaarp," Jumba repeated incredulously, his face contorting in denial.
"Yep, Yaarp!" The two words sounded so similar that Pleakley's innocent face almost made it seem like he had named 613 that intentionally.
"Why Yaarp? What sort of ridiculous name is that?!" Jumba laughed dismissively. "You're being ridiculous, Pleakley. He'll never accept that name!" However, the moment he finished his sentence, 613 shook his head at him. The experiment snuggled against Pleakley, cooing.
"What?! He is listening to you?!" Jumba shouted in a surprise, a hint of betrayal lacing his voice. "This cannot be happening…" he moaned, walking away from Pleakley to get some fresh air.
Pleakley simply laughed in response. It was a genuine laugh, one filled with relief — he'd honestly expected his cover to be blown sky high at least seven times now. But not only was his cover story now more believable to Jumba, he'd come through the chaotic situation unscathed and managed to get a new friend to boot.
He would never have guessed that 625 conning him into being drafted into this mission would lead to this. Despite all the danger that Hamsterviel had posed, he was so glad that he hadn't fled the scene. Had he done so, he never would have rescued Yaarp.
Perhaps he had stood his ground because of Yaarp? He'd seen the fear in Yaarp's eyes when Hamsterviel had him at his mercy, and it was an intensively familiar expression to Pleakley, one that he himself often displayed while panicking.
Maybe that was why he had bravely stood up to Hamsterviel… because he didn't want anyone else to feel the same way he did.
That wasn't the last of the similarities. He'd genuinely felt for Yaarp too when that rotten hamster had captured him. In those moments he could almost imagine himself in Yaarp's position — forced against his will to do something he didn't want. For Yaarp, it was using his noisemaker abilities under Hamsterviel's influence. For Pleakley, it was joining the Galactic Alliance instead of his dream job in G.A.C.C.
To put it bluntly, Pleakley saw a lot of himself in the native Earth creature. Maybe that was why he had gone so far as to name it Yaarp, breaking his own self-imposed rule of not interacting with the native species of the planet.
He looked down at the newly-named Yaarp, who was still being held in his arms. Upon noticing that Pleakley was gazing at him, Yaarp gave a gleeful smile in return, letting out a soft toot from his foghorn that radiated of happiness.
It was then that Pleakley was absolutely positive that the past hour had been completely worth it. That little troublemaker 625 could complain all he wanted, but Pleakley had already decided that he was going to keep Yaarp with him.
And that was final.
Sorry for the wait, but this chapter absolutely did not want to be written. There were so many revisions that ended up being left on the drawing board.
After careful consideration I've decided on bumping the rating up to T. I'm still not too sure if it's warranted, but I legitimately felt bad for Yaarp while writing the hostage scene, so yeah. I personally did not expect the scene to escalate to the extent it did, but sometimes the characters just write themselves.
Also, we have our first reformed experiment! And it only took fifteen chapters. Yeah… teehee!
Stay tuned for the aftermath of this little encounter!
Chapter 16: The Noisemaker's Truce
Chapter 16: The Noisemaker's Truce
Jumba felt like he was trapped between a rock and a hard place.
The dark green vegetation surrounding him from all sides didn't help matters. He wasn't even claustrophobic and yet even a cold, hardened scientist like him couldn't help but feel a shiver running down his spine. It was truly a terrifying thing to be stranded on a planet light years from home with nary an ally by your side, racing against the clock to stay ahead of enemies who would like nothing more than to banish him to prison for an inhumanely long time.
"Ugh! How did some random tourist manage to turn Jumba's very own evil experiment against him?" he groaned once he was sure he was out of earshot. "That Pleakley is so very evil." He shook his head with a mixture of anger and amazement that someone like Pleakley, of all aliens, had managed to foil the dastardly plans of geniuses like both him and Hamsterviel, even though it had been done unintentionally.
"Oh, my evil experiment six-one-three, why do you choose not to listen to Jumba? Why?" Jumba groaned, hitting his palm against a nearby tree. The end result was a rather unnaturally large palm-shaped imprint on the tree bark.
Jumba couldn't keep that burst of anger under control despite the constant reminder that he ought to keep his presence low. How could he help it? He was still very much distraught over the chain of setback after setback that had befallen him recently. Just mere days ago he had been ready to take over the entire galaxy, and now here he was, stranded helplessly on a primitive planet, desperately trying to regain even one percent of the power he once wielded back as the head scientist of Galaxy Defence Industries, with an army of loyal experiments by his side.
Hamsterviel surviving the spacecraft crash and almost outing his identity to Pleakley was bad enough, but never did Jumba anticipate or even came close to entertaining the idea of his own experiment trying to befriend another. The angry scientist needed to vent out his frustration of having victory snatched away so close from his grasp once again. "How could you disregard your very own creator just because mere tourist had taken pity on you?" he moaned, trying to rationalize what 613's thought process was. "You are mass weapon of destruction, six-one-three! You are not meant to be pitied!"
His eyes turned red at the thought. Jumba couldn't help but feel a pang of jealousy. He'd poured his blood and soul into creating his little monstrosities. A random tourist like Pleakley from who knows which planet couldn't just name his experiments and take them away from him like that!
"Well at least on bright side, Hamsterviel is now being no problem for Jumba," he stroked his chin, smiling slightly as he recalled the memory of the hamster being blasted straight into a tree, courtesy of Experiment 613's sonic booms. His smile didn't last long when he remembered that said experiment was currently in cahoots with the surprisingly persuasive Pleakley.
"But dark cloud's silver lining is being no use to Jumba unless experiment six-one-three is willing to be listening to me!" he grumbled. "Jumba need at least one evil experiment on my side to be able to be starting evil plan to rule entire Galactic Federation!"
What a prickly situation to be in. He had jumped the gun by committing to his new plan, immediately attempting to capture his most devious experiment after Hamsterviel's ship had crash landed on Earth. As a result, Jumba was unable to take back his actions the moment 626 managed to squirm free from his grip, which made everything so much more complicated since he was now armed with the knowledge that his creator was after him.
Unable to retreat, he found himself unable to advance as well so long as he was unable to retrieve the experiment container currently held by the runaway 626. As the matter currently stood right now, he was basically stuck in a stalemate. Capturing 626 was going to be deviously difficult as long as he was by himself. All he needed was one loyal experiment to follow him and he would be able to break the deadlock. Was that really too much to ask for?
"Hey, Jumba! Why'd you run away like that?"
Jumba grunted as he whirled back onto Pleakley and Yaarp. They'd both evidently decided to follow him deeper into the jungle. He couldn't help but flinch at hearing Pleakley call out his name in such a carefree manner. That tourist had no idea just what connotations that name carried as an intergalactically wanted criminal. "What do you want, Pleakley?" he muttered in a tone so unwelcome that the greeting might as well have been a noncommittal grunt.
Pleakley didn't let Jumba's harsh tone get to him. "I was with Yaarp and then the little fella suddenly noticed that you were missing. So we went looking for you."
"Yaarp, huh?" Jumba trained all of his eyes on the teal experiment bouncing next to Pleakley. Sensing the glare, Yaarp stopped bouncing on his tail, planting his feet on the ground. His face turned from a friendly smile to a neutral frown when Jumba slowly walked closer to him and leaned down on his knee.
"Psst," Jumba whispered to him with a muffled hiss, "Experiment six-one-three, you cannot seriously be trying to be friends with this guy, can you?" He scowled down at Yaarp in the same way that a parent would if they were to reprimand their misbehaving child. "You are dangerous experiment designed by Jumba to cause unbelievable chaos to galaxy, not end up being mere chew toy to some random meekly little tourist!"
Jumba stared incredulously as Yaarp defiantly shook his head. Incredibly, it looked like Pleakley had the noisemaker wrapped around his green appendages.
"Um, hello?" Pleakley's voice broke the silence, interrupting the feud between creator and experiment.
Jumba got back on his feet. "Yes? You be asking Jumba what?" he snapped at Pleakley, a gesture which made the scrawny alien immediately avoid eye contact in a panic due to his harsh tone.
"W-Well, um…" Pleakley stuttered, gazing downwards to the undergrowth to buy time while he struggled to form a coherent sentence. It was evident just from a single glance that Pleakley was scared out of his wits. His body language revealed all. For instance, he was unable to stop fidgeting with his hands. It was so blatant that he wasn't even trying to hide it, since his nervousness surrounded him like a visible aura clinging onto his attire. "Jumba, I-I'd just like to ask," he started, sucking in a deep breath of air. "H-Have you ever had a friend before?" he finished, spitting out the words in a rapid pace.
Jumba, who had been preparing a rude retort to cut off the conversation, found himself stunned as his ears registered the question.
Have you ever had a friend before…
Those words rang in his ears, echoing and bouncing around his large brain just like a moth being drawn to a flame.
Have you ever had a friend before…
The closest person he'd had that he could have called his friend at one point was… Hamsterviel. Flipping Dr. Hamsterviel, for crying out loud! The closest thing he had to a friend at a point was the scheming double-crosser who'd ended up selling him out to the Galactic Federation in present day.
He gazed down towards the ground, unwilling to meet Pleakley's eye, afraid that just one look would reveal the answer to the curious alien. But it was too late, as his body language and reluctance to respond gave it away regardless.
"I didn't know…" was all Pleakley could bring himself to add. His voice, although a soft mumble, felt like a jet engine taking off after it broke the awkward silence.
"It is being fine," Jumba tried to brush off Pleakley's concern with a casual wave of his arm. "You didn't know about situation. That is okay." He turned away and added softly, "After all, no one knew… not even Jumba…"
In the dead of night however, Jumba's muttered whispers weren't as soft as he had expected. Those words travelled along the night breeze, reverbing around the surrounding trees. The echos were carried over like rustling leaves in the wind and subsequently picked up by Pleakley's sensitive hearing. He slowly crept forward towards Jumba, all warnings of any possible danger vanishing from his mind out of concern for the scientist. "I'm really sorry," was all he had to say.
It was all that really needed to be said, honestly. Even Yaarp hung his head down, having never seen this side of Jumba before.
"Thank you, Pleakley." Jumba finally said. Pleakley couldn't help but look surprised. Jumba had complete sincerity in his voice. This was the first time throughout the whole ordeal that the escaped outlaw had not been curt or outright hostile to him.
Pleakley couldn't help but copy Jumba's soft smile, "Same to you."
"So let me get this whole thing straight, Pleak…"
625 was half-cranky and half-confused when his transceiver beeped at blooming half past five in the morning. The incoming call had rudely woken him up from the short nap that basically doubled as his excuse for sleep. But what was truly unexpected was the identity of the caller. He was expecting the Grand Councilwoman or someone else from Turo calling to check on his progress, so to see Pleakley on the other end when he accepted the call was a genuine surprise.
He yawned with his mouth wide open before lazily pointing a finger at Pleakley incredulously, "You somehow decided to trust Jumba when just a few hours ago, you were ranting to me about how crazy and dangerous he was, in very explicit detail to boot."
Pleakley gave a small chuckle from the other end of the line. "I know, it's hard to believe and it's going to take a while to explain the full story. But hey, I totally managed to gain Jumba's trust! He doesn't think that I'm out to get him anymore!" Pleakley pumped his fist in the air while wearing a goofy grin. "Phew! Looks like everything worked out in the end! I wasn't caught, and he doesn't suspect a thing!" He visibly slouched back in relief, "Right now he's asleep in the woods. So, it's all set then, right? Just tell me when you're going to call Captain Gantu and we can finally—"
625's eyebrow twitched. "No!" he yelled over Pleakley, albeit a little more forcefully than he had expected. The unexpectedness of his retort stunned the Galactic Agent into staying silent. "Ah well, there's been a tiny change of plans," 625 added, emphasising the 'tiny' by holding his thumb and index finger so close to one another that they were almost touching. "After much consideration, I've decided that I'm not gonna be calling that blubber-face just yet."
Pleakley's reply was blunt and straight to the point. "What." He narrowed his eye as the atmosphere grew tense. "You're kidding me," he added when he realized that the usually-cheeky 625 was being completely serious. Somehow, despite being many miles away from the experiment, Pleakley looked like he could already tell that he was not going to like where this was going.
625 simply shook his head. "Uh-uh. Whyever would I bluff ya?" he innocently smiled.
Pleakley didn't take well to his humor. "I swear… you better be joking! I barely survived one day on this mission! I can't take much more of this!"
After a tense silence where only the buzzing of the communicator could be heard, 625 let out a huff, breaking eye contact with Pleakley. "Okay then. You do have a point." Seeing Pleakley relax slightly at his words, he flashed a calculating expression. "Let's compromise, then. How about if we let this play out for a little while more?" he recommended. "After all, he trusts ya, doesn't he? So why let this chance go to waste?"
"Aha! I get what you're up to, you sneaky little troublemaker!" Pleakley gave 625 a teasing smile. "That's surprisingly clever coming from you! You're trying to get Jumba to let his guard down so you can convince him to come with us without a fight."
"That's not what I meant! Not a chance!" 625 snapped, flinging his hands out. "Absolutely out of the question!"
"Huh? But that is—"
"…the easy way out for that scum." Pleakley raised his eyebrow at 625's sinister tone. 625 simply gave an annoyed shrug in response. After all, Pleakley couldn't exactly blame him for being cranky when it was barely dawn. "You think I'm gonna let that callous scientist take the easy way out and turn himself in? In his dreams! I fully intend to drag him squirming back to the Council."
"But…!" Pleakley seemed upset for some reason, which infuriated the yellow experiment. Why was he acting this way?! So what if they had to fight for Jumba in order to get him back? All that would happen was a bit of extra collateral damage, that's all. And best of all, he could simply lay back and watch the arrest while munching on a sandwich, zero effort required on his part.
"It doesn't matter, Pleak," he continued with a scowl, "Just do as I say. He's gonna get arrested either way."
"Oh, I get it now," Pleakley frowned, furrowing his single eyebrow. "I see why this is happening. You're thinking that I'm a spanner in the works, eh? The one that you really don't trust is me, isn't it?"
625 sighed, putting his paw to his forehead upon hearing Pleakley's melodramatic response. This was not how he wanted his day to start. He was beginning to get a headache. At this rate, he would need some aspirin.
"Hah! Bet you didn't think I was able to do it by myself, eh? Well, it looks like the joke's on you this time! Despite all the odds, I manage to locate the noise-making animal that you were speaking about!"
"You… what?" he exclaimed. Pure shock laced 625's tone. "You captured it?" he asked cautiously, lowering his voice.
Pleakley snickered at 625 as he proceeded to hold up an unconscious Hamsterviel by the cape. "Yup!" he beamed triumphantly, tilting his head in confusion when 625's face suddenly fell in the blink of an eye.
"But… that's a gerbil," 625 finally mumbled in disbelief after gaping at the screen for what seemed like an eternity.
"Yeah? I know that's a gerbil. What's wrong with that?" Pleakley hadn't expected 625's mood to turn so despondent.
"Why on earth are you showing me a gerbil?"
"Oh come on, what's the matter here? Why do you seem so upset?" he pressed the increasingly frustrated 625.
625 ignored Pleakley's question, too annoyed to think straight. "That's the noisemaker you thought I was talking about? Gah!" He sighed, shaking his head. This was what he got for getting his hopes up. "Ah, no… I mean, never mind. This is my bad. I should have given you a description of who exactly you were supposed to find." He crossed his arms, muttering under his breath, "Still, I was certain Jumba would know who I was talking about!"
"Wait, wait, wait!" Pleakley pouted, deflating with this new knowledge. "So I went through all this trouble for nothing? You're telling me that this crazy gerbil I have in my hand right now was someone completely different?" He unceremoniously let go of Hamsterviel, letting him fall to the ground with a thud. "That's terrible!"
"That's right, the gerbil is indeed someone entirely different. The one I happened to be referring to from before happens to be much larger. It's teal in colour, with a horn attached onto the forehead—"
"Hey, that description sounds really familiar…" Pleakley tapped his cheek using his finger, trying to ponder a thought before his eye lit up as a sudden brainwave hit him. "Yeah, as a matter of fact, that sounds a lot like my new friend Yaarp to me!"
"Yaarp?" 625 cocked his head. "Now that's a rather unusual name, Pleak. Y'know, it almost sounds as weird as the nickname I gave you."
"Hmph! So you admit that you call me that on purpose."
"What's the matter? Don't ya like that name?" 625 countered.
"D-Don't tease me!" Pleakley looked mortified at 625's accustation. "That was uncalled for! Plus, I already told you to stop calling me that, you stubborn troublemaker…" He folded his arms with a pout.
"Alright, Pleak." 625 made sure to call Pleakley by his personal nickname again just to rile him up. "But seriously speaking, just who's this Yaarp that you happening to be speaking of?"
"Who's Yaarp? Now that's a good question." Pleakley tilted the transceiver at an downwards angle so the camera could capture Yaarp as well. "Hey, Yaarp! Wakey wakey! Say hello!"
Roused from his sleep, Yaarp grogrily blinked opened his eyes. Hearing Pleakley loud and clear, Yaarp gave a passing glance in the transceivers direction, only to snap his head back with a double-take and recoil back in shock. He wasn't the only one to react that way though, as 625 was also gaping at the teal experiment on the screen.
E-Experiment six-one-three? It couldn't be that much of a coincidence, could it? Could Pleakley really have ended up befriending one of Jumba's experiments, let alone the exact one that he had accidentally released?
625 held his gaze steady as Yaarp slowly backed away from the camera, nervously giving a wave using one of his arms. "So that there is your new friend Yaarp?" He unconsciously used his hands to rub the sore ear antennas by his side. He certainly hadn't forgotten the beating that this guy had forced his ears through with his foghorn.
"Yup! He's actually really nice, so I don't know what you were talking about when you said he was dangerous."
"Yeah… sure. He's real nice, alright." 625 leered at Pleakley, sarcasm rooted deep in his words. "Ya know what? If you think Yaarp's nice, I think that Jumba happens to be a saint as well! In fact, that scientist's the greatest person in the galaxy!" he ranted as he paced back and forth.
"W-What are you talking about?" Pleakley replied. However, 625 was no longer focused on him. Rather, he was looking directly at Yaarp. His sharp eyes didn't miss a thing, and thus he was able to spot Yaarp's eyes widening in panic. The noisemaker experiment had clammed up entirely, looking as though his blood had run cold. Quivering ever so slightly, Yaarp glanced up at Pleakley for just a moment before he looked straight at the camera, hastily placing one of his fingers to his lips in a bid to signal the yellow experiment to be quiet.
It was then that his suspicions were confirmed. 625 had to stifle a chuckle at it all. By some miracle, it seemed that Pleakley didn't realize that Yaarp was one of Jumba's experiments. The most likely reason was because the number of people in the known universe that knew that he wasn't the only genetic experiment created could be counted on one of his paws. Naturally, Pleakley didn't put two and two together to realize the truth and assumed that Yaarp was a Earth-native species. He smirked at the irony. It seemed like Jumba hiding the existence of his platoon of genetic experiments back at the trial did have a silver lining to it, even though it was the exact same reason he was almost locked in confinement at Planet Turo.
"Hahahahah!" 625 laughed. "Ah, I'm just kiddin'! Oh come on, don't tell me you really believed that? You're so easy to tease, Pleak!" He coolly played it off as a joke, although his careful eyes didn't miss Yaarp's relieved face when he dissuaded Pleakley from suspecting that anything was amiss.
"Hmph!" Pleakley folded his arms, an annoyed look slowly crossing his face. "I should have known that you wouldn't change, you no-good troublemaking experiment!"
"I might be a little troublemaker, but at least I'm known for being the troublemaker! Don't ya ever forget that, Pleak!" 625 winked. "Oh, and congrats on finding a friend out here on this planet's wilderness, I guess." He licked his lips, suddenly changing the subject, "Would ya look at that? It's time for breakfast! I'll contact you later to give you more updates."
"Hey, wait a minute! What about Jumba!"
"Bye-bye!" 625 gave a mock-salute and switched off the call before Pleakley could squeak an indignant reply. He pocketed the transceiver before stretching his arms. Rubbing his head, he couldn't help but ponder about the turn of events. It appeared that his plan had somewhat worked. Based on what he could see, it appeared that Jumba had not managed to not reconcile with his lost experiment like he had hoped.
However, the unexpected variable in all of this was…
"You again, boy? Why do you always wear that cloak?"
"Oh, hush! Here's the credit card! Two hours, just like last time!"
625 had practically run back to the computer café. Okay, perhaps 'run' was a strong word since he had to catch his breath every twenty seconds, but he still made it out of the forest in about half an hour, which had to be some kind of a record for him.
Taking a seat next to a person who was watching videos on a video sharing site, he proceeded to log back into the system using Jumba's account again. When the database loaded, he then looked up the logs for experiment 613. "Six-one-three, six-one-three…" he muttered rhythmically as the page was loading. "There we go!"
"Hmmm…" He moused down the page until he found something juicy. "Six-one-three is being very obedient experiment," he read aloud in Jumba's tone of voice while supporting his head with his paw, "but unfortunately, has one teeny-tiny annoying quirk. He is surprisingly easy to startle. Six-one-three will react with loud sonic blast if he is feeling intimidated."
"Really?" he muttered with a amused smile, "I never would've guessed that Yaarp was a bashful fella'."
The next statement also caught 625's eye. "But surprisingly, despite wielding very destructive power, he has turned out to be less willing to unleash his compared to some earlier experiments."
625 shook his head. "Oh, come on…" he muttered darkly. "Of course he's less destructive! Didn't you realize that he has a more mellow personality? Oh, of course you didn't! Well then, it's really too bad. Because you're about to be hoisted by your own petard very soon…"
"Come one, come all, to the most fantabulous circus coming to town!"
"Eh?" 625 found himself drawn in by a rather colourful advertisement that was running on the computer next to him. From what he could glimpse, a rather eccentric man dressed in a fancy purple tuxedo shouted into the microphone with in an exaggerated manner.
Running an ad on a video site? 625 rolled his eyes. 99% of people won't care and just try to skip the ad at the earliest possible opportunity. He then pondered the scenario where the advertisement was running on a TV instead. Ha! If that really happened, the sponsors probably had no budget to spare. Something like this, running at six on a Saturday morning? No self-respecting person would ever get up that early on a weekend.
625 was jolted out of his thoughts as he heard the funnily-dressed man's voice from the speakers again. "Don't let your children miss this spectacular event! You can't afford to miss seeing the debut performance of the world's stretchiest clown! Presenting to you our new rising star, the Great Elastico!"
His eyes were drawn to the screen as the commercial then panned to the circus performer.
Said performer was… rather unique, to say the least. He certainly didn't look like any of the other circus performers. As a matter of fact, he looked more like a circus animal, and was roughly the same size as well. He was a bright lime green in colour almost uniformly throughout his body, with the exception of his bright red nose, a purple dot around his belly, and a white face that almost looked like a clown's face paint. The only article of clothing he wore was a pink frilly ruff around his neck.
"Tee hee hee heh! Ahahahaha!" the carefree creature laughed out loud as he gave a demonstration of him stretching his left arm over a distance of what seemed like approximately three metres. Despite the impressive feat, 625 could see that the display was nothing too spectacular, since it was merely a teaser for the actual circus performance.
The camera proceeded to cut back to the fancily-dressed ringmaster. "Believe it or not, Elastico has the ability to stretch to unbelievable levels!" The ringmaster twirled around the staff he was holding, before pointing the tip of it to the camera with a flourish. "Ah, but you'll just have to see it for yourself and be mesmerized by our live performance! Come on down to the Electron Circus! You'll have to hurry, since tickets are selling fast!"
As the advertisement finished and it switched to a regular video, 625 put his paw to his chin, rubbing it in contemplation.
No, that was no stunt.
Something unbelievably stretchy on this planet, where over six hundred of Jumba's experiments lay dormant? Sure sounded more like it was one of Jumba's experiments rather than a regular circus stuntman to him. Following his hunch, he activated the search function and prepared to look up the parameters for any experiment that could stretch themself like putty.
He ran the query and much to his glee, it proceeded to return an affirmative. His eyes gleamed as he scanned the results.
There was a single match, experiment three-four-five. Selecting the experiment's log page, he was greeted by a picture that showed the exact same lime green creature he had seen earlier.
625 chuckled with unrestrained mirth when he noted down that the stretchy experiment's primary function had been designated as "distraction of hostile forces", which 345 was most definitely not doing right now. He licked his lips as though he'd just chanced upon a lavish three-course sandwich meal. For just a single second, 625 could almost admit in his joy that this find was enough to make up for all of the travesty that he'd suffered yesterday.
Oh well. He chose to accept that it was the closest thing to an apology that the universe would give him. He proceeded to dial the given number for the circus on his Galactic Federation transceiver, simultaneously thanking the fact that the device allowed intergalactic calls on any planet — including this one. When the line finally connected, he couldn't resist the smirk playing on his lips.
"Hello, is this the Electron Circus?" he clucked his tongue in anticipation as the person on the other line responded. "When is your next show? Oh? Later this morning is the very first show for the entire event? That's great!" his eyes twinkled with mirth as he continued to think about the experiment he had tracked down. "I'll like to reserve one ticket, please. Yeah, yeah, I got the money, so make it snappy." He hung up, whistling a happy tune. Twenty dollars was honestly a pathetic entry fee to pay for the chance to get ahold of an experiment that'd disobeyed Jumba's orders. He would have gladly thrown over a thousand dollars for this opportunity.
Okay, maybe not that much. He was still on a tight budget thanks to the Grand Councilwoman.
625 chuckled with glee. If the way Experiment 613—no, Yaarp—had reacted to him was anything to go by, he had a feeling that he was going to get exactly what he wanted out of the clownish experiment after his trip to the circus.
There was no need for the black cloak later. He was going to have a little chat with three-four-five, no disguise required for this little outing. It would be just two of Jumba's experiments talking about a few matters over some sandwiches.
And by talking, he meant cold, hard blackmail. It would be like Pleakley all over again. For crying out loud, the two of them—Elastico and Pleakley—were even the same colour! Perhaps it was a trend for lime green creatures to be subservient to him. Maybe the two of them were like the lettuce in his sandwiches, forced to go wherever in the sandwich 625 so desired when he prepared them.
Nah, he was thinking too hard into it. Still, the thought was amusing to him. With a satisfied grin, 625 logged off from the network and shut off the computer.
"H-Hey! You're leaving now? But didn't you pay for two hours of internet access?" The clerk looked at him funny as he strolled out of the door. "Come back! You overpaid by one and a half hours!"
He gave a nonchalant wave in return. "Consider it a tip. I'm feeling generous today, pal!" Ignoring the startled clerk, he whistled merrily as he walked along the footpath.
"It looks like your debut performance will be one that you won't be forgetting in a hurry, Great Elastico!"
Yes, 625 cheerily decided, today is definitely a better day than yesterday.
Lesson learnt: balancing four stories at the same time is tough!
Some Jumba and Pleakley interaction for this one. Finally they get closer to their movie-roles of reluctant partners.
Chapter 17: Stretching the Limits
Chapter 17: Stretching the Limits
"Aloha, ladies and gentlemen!"
As if those four words were the cue for everything to begin, a spotlight was spontaneously lit up as the sentence was completed. It shone brightly, lighting up the center of the stage to reveal that a well-dressed man in purple was the one who had spoken. When the man felt everyone's eyes boring into him, he slowly and deliberately reached his arm into the air. As everyone's eyes followed his hand movement, he then proceeded to snap his fingers.
As though that simple act was like flipping a switch, a chain reaction began to take place behind the scenes, leading to more and more lights rhythmically turning on until the entire center stage was illuminated. Once the lights directed the attention of everyone in the circular tent towards the middle, the caped ringleader took out a portable microphone and put the mouthpiece to his jaw.
"Welcome one and all, to the Electron Circus!" His voice was calm and firm, projected and amplified via the speakers scattered all around the tent. "I am the ringmaster of the Electron Circus. Thank you all so very much for coming! I assure you, you will not be disappointed! I stake my reputation on the line to guarantee that this will be the most fabulous circus performance Hawaii has ever seen!" he proclaimed, with each subsequent word getting louder and more enthusiastic. He took a bow at the round of applause and bouts of cheering from his introductory message. Both of his arms went wide open, drawing as much attention as possible before he continued speaking into the microphone. "Today's show is our debut performance here in Kokaua Town! Are you folks excited to be here for the premiere?" he asked the spectators, extending his hand with the microphone out. The ringmaster was duly rewarded with a resounding "Yes!" from quite a few of the enthusiastic children seated in the audience. He smiled widely at the overwhelmingly favorable response. "Fantastico!" he praised the receptive crowd. "Well then, without further ado, let us get started!"
Seated at the very top row of the circle of seats was Experiment 625, who held his hand to his mouth to suppress a bored yawn. The experiment only noticed how exhausted he was when he was forced to stay awake in a situation like this one. It was considered good sport to support an event that you paid money for. But on the other hand, most of the other spectators didn't get themselves blasted at point blank range by a sonic boom generator, abruptly contacted by Gantu and the Grand Councilwoman before he went to bed, rudely awoken by another call from Pleakley after less than a few hours of sleep, and then immediately scouring through Jumba's experiment archives in the morning. All of this he'd had to deal with in a span of twenty-four hours. Thus, an annoyed 625 felt that it was more than justified on his end if he wasn't 100% focused on the show. He leaned his body forward, shaking in anticipation for what he knew was to come, "Enough with the audience pandering already," he complained. "Just get to the main event, pard!"
Experiment 625 couldn't help but to feel a sense of awkwardness as everyone around him began to clap their hands in applause. Hearing the noise was a reminder that he was someone quite alien from one of them. He couldn't stop himself from darting his eyes left and right out of paranoia, as this time he didn't have the black cloak that doubled as his disguise when he was around human vicinity.
To be frank though, he didn't really need it because of the setting.
Thanks to a combination of his golden fur and the fact that his current location happened to be the circus, most of the spectators and children around him were under the genuine impression that he was a person dressed in a lion mascot costume. It was a whimsical assumption that was amusingly quite far-off from the truth, but as long as the misconception was going to wind up being in his favor, 625 found that he didn't really mind if a random child waved hello at a "Mr. Friendly Lion". Still, even the occasional friendly hello from passing children didn't stop the wait from being unbearable. 625 fought to keep his eyes open as the other performances featuring circus animals and acrobats ended up dragging on and on. He understood the need of saving the best for last, especially since it made sense from a viewpoint of a performer to build up hype for the main event, but it was still inexcusable to tease about it for so long. In stark contrast to everyone else watching the circus performance and being awestruck at their performance's dexterity and skill, 625 ended up laying back on his seat and yawning for about an hour straight.
Acrobats and animals were not what he was here to marvel at. He was here for one act and one act only.
"And finally, the moment you've all been waiting for!" 625 perked up when the ringmaster said the word 'finally'. He already knew that what he was after was arriving after an extremely long wait. He bit his lip in anticipation, leaning forward and focusing on the stage.
With much applause coming from the eager audience, the ringmaster barreled on. "Presenting the act that you've all been waiting to see! Let us all welcome our new señor… the Great Elastico!" The spotlights dimmed to a soft glow right before they brightened and refocused on a three-foot high newcomer who'd just walked onto the stage. "Nyahahahaha!" Elastico proceeded to laugh merrily as the spotlight drew everyone's attention to him. He bashfully gave a hearty wave as he found himself bombarded with resounding cheers from all angles.
"So, the Great Elastico, eh?" 625 snorted as he repeated the fancy-sounding title, a rather amused grin on his face, "Well, I have to say, that title certainly has a nice ring to it… certainly a better name than three-four-five, one random number in a plethora of generic experiments." He laughed at his own joke, before straightening up to get a closer look at the laughing experiment. "You're like Yaarp, huh?" 625 rubbed his chin in contemplation as he made a note of Elastico's feisty personality. "Another jolly little one, aren't ya? You're certainly the outgoing type…"
"Now then, señor Elastico here—" the ringmaster gestured down to the stubby experiment. Elastico, who had been enthusiastically waving to the crowd, paused to listen intently. The ringmaster flashed a confident gait once he noticed Elastico perk up, before twirling his staff around and proceeding to throw it high into the air with a grand flourish. "—is about to give all of you the demonstration of a lifetime!" he yelled as the wooden staff was launched upwards. As it went flying, he added, "You'll have to see it to believe it!"
Elastico raised his head to focus on the airborne staff, his face turning serious as he squinted his eyes. After a few agonizingly long seconds, just when it was at the peak of the throw, he slowly held his right arm up. Just when the people around were wondering how the circus clown was going to catch hold of the staff from that distance, Elastico grinned wildly and proceeded to stretch his arm, extending it out by about five meters to nonchalantly grab it from the air without moving an inch from where he currently stood. As the audience gasped in surprise—especially the hecklers who had believed that the act was some kind of trick or TV marketing stunt—Elastico took a small bow with the ringmaster's staff tucked snugly under his arm.
"Just look at that dexterity! That reach! That stylish finish! Truly, a work of art!" The ringmaster himself had a contagious smile on his face as his star performer stole the show. "As we've advertised and boasted, our Great Elastico truly is the world's stretchiest clown!" he declared to thunderous applause. Even 625 had to admit that he was impressed by the stunt. For Elastico to be able to grab a spinning staff from that high in the air was only a testament to the mastery of three-four-five's ability.
With the ringmaster's blessing following massive audience pressure for an encore, the next fifteen minutes were handed over to the audience for them to interact with the beaming Elastico. The merry clown grabbed hold of anything the audience dangled from their seats to see if he could reach it from the center stage. He performed every trick flawlessly, even managing to grab a tiny hairpin all the way from the very top row of seats.
625 chortled at the antics of the humans. While most were in awe, there were a select few in the audience who were stubbornly trying to see just how well Elastico could manage to do, convinced there had to be some kind of trick to the clown's magic performance. It was just too bad for those hecklers that they weren't going to find any hidden wires anyway. Unlike most of the marveled spectators, 625 was well aware that Elastico's performance was not an act in any way, shape, or form. It was the real deal.
And soon, that magic trick would be his to command as well. He rubbed his paws in glee once he noticed the ringmaster beckon Elastico back with his hand. "Alas, but we have come to the end of our wonderful performance," he announced to the microphone in a sad tone. Even the audience could feel the negative aura the man was emitting in waves and were promptly disappointed when he announced that he had to wrap up the show.
"On behalf of the fantastic performers of our delightful circus, we wish you adieu! Do come again next time, amigos!" With that, the spotlights proceeded to dim, signifying to all that the show had concluded. As the regular ceiling lights began to blink on and many satisfied spectators began to make their way to the exit, 625 proceeded to head in the opposite direction from them. Instead of leaving, he pushed past other spectators to head down towards the center stage.
As the ringmaster strutted backstage, Elastico gave a tired yawn and prepared to head off as well. Seeing that the green experiment all alone, 625 broke into a run when he saw his chance to interrogate the clown. The experiment jumped up on stage, landing on his feet with a flourish that managed to catch Elastico's attention. "Aloha!" 625 greeted Elastico with the standard Hawaiian greeting that he'd picked up from the locals. He waved nonchalantly with a triumphant smirk plastered on his person as Elastico turned towards him. "Very nice to meet ya, pard. You put on a good show back there, I gotta say."
Assuming that it was a random audience member giving him praise, Elastico shot a glance in 625's direction with a friendly wave, before sharply turning his head and double-taking when he realized exactly who had just greeted him. With slowly widening eyes, he put his hands to his mouth and let out a huge gasp in return.
625 let out a disapproving snort as the experiment immediately attempted to make a break for it. "Tsk, tsk!" he reprimanded, rushing forward to grab onto Elastico's torso before he could stretch his way to safety. 625 stubbornly held on and gave a small victorious chuckle when Elastico finally gave up trying to escape from his grip. "Oh come on, don't be so scared!" he reassured Elastico, which prompted the experiment to let his body go slack and recoil back to his non-stretchy self. "All I just want ta' do is have a friendly little chat with ya!" In response, Elastico squirmed uncomfortably in 625's grip, shaking his head rapidly and clenching his eyes tightly shut to signal his discomfort.
625 frowned at the sight. Elastico behaving in an apprehensive manner that was completely unlike the show that he had put on earlier affected the chubby experiment more than 625 would care to admit. It just further hit home to him that being in his vicinity was the reason that led to Elastico behaving differently from his normal carefree self from earlier. "Hey, come on! Please, I want a straight answer. Just what's so terrifying about me?" he decided to ask Elastico, starting to feel rather annoyed by the feeling of unwelcomeness that he got. "There's no need to be so jumpy. I assure you, I'm perfectly harmless!"
At his retort, Elastico surprisingly ceased his struggling, which surprised 625 so much that he loosened his grip, allowing Elastico to drop to the floor. But funnily enough, he didn't escape. After a short pause, the experiment began to hoot uncontrollably. 625 tilted his head at that unexpected reaction. "Just what's so funny about that?" he asked, genuinely puzzled as to what Elastico was laughing about. The prankster didn't particularly enjoy the feeling of missing the punchline to a joke that he didn't even know about.
Finally, Elastico calmed down enough to answer the query. "Meega can't take it!" he spoke in Tantalog, still wheezing. "Six-two-five not dangerous? Yuuga can't fool anyone! Ahhahahah!"
"Aw, you're making me blush," 625 hit his thigh with his paw in a friendly and jovial manner, which almost made it seem as though the experiment was trying to pass the whole thing off as a joke. The charade didn't last two seconds before he narrowed his eyes, amending the tone of the sentence by adding two words in a low voice, "…in anger!"
Elastico flinched as 625 raised his voice, realizing that it wasn't a good idea to play punk with his aggressor. "Please spare meega!" he all but begged. Even the perpetual smile that the clownish experiment always had was now thoroughly wiped off his face. "S-Sure, meega know that I'm not doing my given function…" he began, nervously hovering his eyes around. 625 didn't need to be a genius to see just what Elastico was implying — that the circus was his new job. "Meega know the consequences…" he admitted, shifting his feet around. "Jumba told us all to immediately wreak havoc when we're activated!"
625 raised his eyebrow, making a note of that new information. With an irritated grunt, he realized that that was the reason Yaarp had deafened him when 625 had unintentionally activated he noisemaking experiment. "So you knew about this 'immediate chaos' ruling that Jumba had and yet you still decided to slack off in a circus?" he questioned in a confrontational tone.
"Wait, wait! Meega have my reasons!" Elastico continued with a pleading voice, "Please! I'll do anything, anything! Just don't tell Jumba!"
"Oh really?" 625 began, his voice having an aura of distrust to it. "You'll do anything, you say?" he asked with a vocal pitch that made Elastico flinch back slightly. He folded his arms as he flashed Elastico a smug grin, basically signaling to the experiment that he now had him exactly where he wanted him. It was basically a Morton's Fork, a Catch-22. Either he did as 625 wanted or Jumba would find out about the infraction. It was basically choosing between the lesser of two evils.
Elastico diverted his eyes down, avoiding 625's all too eager smirk. "Yeah…" he meekly conceded. "Meega do what yuuga want."
"Very good!" 625 praised. "Alright then, I won't tell Jumba about this infraction."
"Meega swear that I will-huh?" Elastico trailed off when he realized that 625 had actually agreed to his groveling. Even 625 was able to read Elastico's thoughts. They were clearly written on his disbelieving face — "That actually worked?"
After the initial shock had worn off, he found himself looking at 625 quizzically. "Naga! Are yuuga messing with meega? That was really all it took to get the great six-two-five to change his mind? Yuuga aren't planning to double-cross meega, right? Aren't you Jumba's ultimate experiment?"
Experiment 625 was so taken aback by the claim that he'd dropped his confident leer. "Ex-excuse me?" he stuttered.
"Aren't you?" Elastico pressed on, making full eye contact with him for the first time in the conversation.
625 continued to gape at the inquiry posed. It took him awhile to realize why Elastico was behaving in such a manner, but when the answer hit the experiment, he couldn't help but to let a vicious smirk creep up onto his face and letting a cruel laugh out, which would have been menacing if his voice wasn't nasally and lighthearted. "I'm listening…" he leaned forward, the floppy antennas by his side that doubled as his ears perking up. "Please do go on. This sounds extremely interesting to me!" This meeting was turning out to be much better than he'd ever anticipated.
Despite the path the conversation was taking, Elastico made no attempt to flee. The worried experiment knew full well of the consequences if he even tried to do so. However, that didn't mean that he was going to shoot himself in the foot. Thus, he invoked his right to keep silent and kept his mouth sealed shut.
625 couldn't help but laugh at the irony as Elastico continued to remain quiet. Even without Elastico explaining it, 625 was already well aware of the implications of the statement that the stretchy experiment had unintentionally revealed. To avoid the conversation from approaching a dead end, 625 instead quickly changed the topic, "You know what? Let's cut a little deal, shall we?" With those words, 625 knew that he now had Experiment 345's full attention. Despite his reassuring smile, Elastico remained wary, which prompted 625 to lighten up the mood. "I love deals, by the way," he proceeded to banter to a confused Elastico. "Why settle for an ala carte sandwich when you can get yourself a combo platter at a value price?"
Elastico continued to blink at 625 quizzically even after he finished. He certainly hadn't expected for the conversation to take such a turn. It had gone from being completely serious to just being plain silly, the mood swerving like a race car zooming around a sharp bend. But being a jovial experiment, Elastico couldn't help but to lighten up slightly, which visually showed as he instantly appeared to be less tense.
625 immediately noted the change in 345's eyes and proceeded to make his move when the green experiment had his guard down. "So then, do we have a deal, experiment three-four-five?" He reached his left arm out towards Elastico, although he couldn't help but feel a sense of déjà vu at the irony. Just a few days ago, 625 found himself being on the receiving end on such a deal. And now, he was ironically echoing the Grand Councilwoman by taking her place as the negotiator of such an offer. In a crazy turnabout, the positions were now reversed. It was certainly ironic that another one of Jumba's experiment had taken his place as the apprehensive and skeptical recipient of such a deal.
Elastico skeptically eyed 625's arm, averting his eyes slightly for one second before he hesitantly reached his arm out. "Congrats on making da' right choice, pal!" 625 gave Elastico a hearty grin as he grabbed ahold of Elastico's rubbery hand and shook on the agreement. "Yes, you would certainly be a promising prospect!"
After the two completed their handshake, 625 rubbed his paws together in glee, as though he had finished a deal just like a prospective salesman. "So, what I want from you is very simple. You can stretch, right?" Despite the fact that he was currently being all but held hostage in name, Elastico gave 625 a very deadpan look. He folded his arms and looked away with an annoyed huff, now 100% aware that the yellow experiment was purely trying to mess with his psyche.
Sensing that Elastico was beginning to get a bit irritated with him, 625 decided to lay off on his confrontation. "Okay, okay, fine!" He raised up his paws in surrender. "I'll stop with the jokes. Happy now, three-four-five?"
Much to his surprise, the green experiment took this opportunity as an opportunity for negotiation. "Takka!" he sighed in relief. "But can yuuga call me by name, not experiment number?"
"Excuse me? You want me to call you by your stage name?" He looked up towards the empty seats all around the circus tent. "You're serious about this? You wish for me ta' refer to you as the Great Elastico?"
Elastico nodded its head with a smile, which led 625 to purse his lips in consideration. "But to be honest, that's too elongated of a title. Can you imagine me calling you that whenever I want to acknowledge you? Can I at least shorten it to Elastico?"
A second nod from Elastico.
Although 625 smiled back, he couldn't help but feel apprehensive in his gut about the name agreement that he'd made. It was frankly an unfounded feeling. Simply put, he felt that calling his fellow experiment by name instead of experiment number was rather unnatural. Yaarp was the exception, as 625 had to call 613 by Pleakley's nickname lest he blew the noisemaker's cover and lost his leverage on Jumba, but this was completely different. With 345, there was nothing to lose on either end if 625 didn't call him by his alias.
Ultimately he pushed those thoughts to the back of his head. If calling experiment three-four-five by the nickname Elastico was a compromise that 625 would have to make to secure their now-rocky partnership, he'd take it. However, even though he'd conceded on this, it didn't mean that he can't poke fun at the stretchy experiment.
His grin grew vicious as he decided that from now on Elastico would be Pleakley 2.0. "But if you are to be my partner in crime, then we'd need a cool team name for ourselves!" he teasingly declared as he pointed a finger in the air. Before Elastico could react, he used his outstretched arm to pinch the shocked experiment's nose with his fingers, letting out a chuckle when the green experiment vigorously shook his crown-shaped head in a bid to get 625 to let go.
He eventually did so after a few seconds, giving Elastico the chance to recover before pointing to his own nose. "From now on, we'll be the Red Nose squad!" he quipped, patting the hunched-over Elastico on the back. "See?" 625 pointed at himself with a chuckle, "My nose is as red as yours! Wouldn't you agree, Elastico?"
Still rubbing his own nose, Elastico turned back to stare at 625 as the yellow experiment began to roll on the stage floor to laugh at his own joke. It was at that exact point that Experiment 345 realized just exactly what the depths of the agreement that he'd agreed to really were.
His regret upon reflection was instantaneous. Even the cheery experiment felt gloomy as 625 carried on howling in laughter atop the wooden floorboards.
"Just what exactly is Jumba doing here?"
That was the question that the Kweltikwan scientist asked himself as he shielded his eyes from the morning sun. If someone were to tell him just a week ago that he would spend the next week on the run at a primitive planet, he must likely would have laughed and prematurely activated an experiment to chase the person away.
And now here he was a mere week later, on a dirt planet with nary a single one of his experiments by his side, desperately chasing after his most powerful creation to regain his lost power and influence. It was truly ironic how reality liked to play with people's expectations.
His four eyes glanced over ever so slightly to their left at the shrill voice. Speaking of irony, he was literally stuck with the unlikeliest of allies. But Jumba had to admit that he also had an ulterior motive for staying close to Pleakley. Before he had dozed off a few hours earlier, he had actually entertained the idea of running off with experiment 613 after Pleakley had fallen asleep, but the meticulous scientist was soon forced to dismiss such a hastily constructed plan. Experiment 613 was a stubborn but cautious one. The instance he even had the slight feeling that something was amiss, 613 would sound the alarm — quite literally too, since the teal experiment had a megaphone equipped atop his head.
And thus he was forced to conclude that such a kidnapping was of no use after all. He didn't want Pleakley to suspect the slightest betrayal since he absolutely could not afford Pleakley turning on him. Even his only weapon, Hamsterviel's plasma blaster, was now in Pleakley's hands. Hence, Jumba decided that there was no reason to keep up his initial hostility to the tourist. Better to be friend rather than foe for now.
Since any attempt to try and convince the experiment to ditch Pleakley was doomed to be futile, he had resorted to a compromise. Experiment 613—Jumba refused to acknowledge him as Yaarp, always referring to the noisemaker as six-one-three—had been glued by his savior Pleakley's side ever since the scrawny alien had saved him from Hamsterviel, it was thus in his best interests to remain close to Pleakley. At least this way he would be able to keep a watch over six-one-three, and the best part was that his experiment wouldn't kick a fuss about this arrangement. Jumba also knew that it was also in six-one-three's best interests to lay low, as he and his experiment both held leverage over each other — he knew that "Yaarp" was really his experiment, and similarly Yaarp also knew that Jumba was the escaped Galactic Federation outlaw that intergalactic news had been broadcasting about for days. To avoid the worst-case scenario of them both squealing out the other, they both remained silent for mutual benefit in the most implicit excuse of cooperation that Jumba had ever seen. It was a "I ignore you, you ignore me" kind of deal. Even though 613 was being stubborn about returning to his side, at least the very least Jumba was glad that they had worked out an unspoken agreement to not rat each other out…
"You little persistent pests! Release me immediately!"
…unlike a certain other hamster. Jumba's mood turned sour upon hearing the squeaky voice. Speaking of things that he and Experiment 613 agreed on, the two both unanimously agreed that Dr. Hamsterviel was a nuisance that they had to dispose of as quickly as possible…
…before they went deaf.
"Unhand me right this instant, you insignificant, idiotic fools!" Hamsterviel yelled in fury, trying to squirm free as much as he possibly could. "You don't have any idea who you're messing with! I can ruin both of your lives forever!"
"Nuh-uh!" Pleakley wagged his finger disapprovingly. Even the paranoid alien was well aware that what Hamsterviel was spewing out were nothing but empty threats. "You've been a very bad gerbil," he lectured.
"It is NOT GERBIL!" Hamsterviel shrieked, struggling against his rope prison with an even fiercer fury than ever before. "It is hamster, HAMSTER!"
"Now then, how to be getting rid of annoying gerbil," Jumba mused, making sure to use the wrong species again to Hamsterviel's chagrin.
"Get rid of me?" Hamsterviel gave a fake, exaggerated gasp. "You wouldn't even dare!" If his limbs were free, Jumba was sure that his old colleague would give a curt bow as he boasted smugly.
"I have an idea!" Pleakley piped up. "What if we used Yaarp to send that gerbil flying?"
"You wouldn't dare, you cretins! I swear that if you even think about it, I'll kick your hinds into next week when I return for my revenge!" Upon seeing that both Jumba and Pleakley were 100% serious, Hamsterviel changed his tone. "I mean, come on!" he chuckled nervously. "Th-this is animal cruelty! If you guys had any heart at all, you'll refrain from treating the great Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel in this lowly manner!" His whiskers twitched as Jumba continued to approach him with an evil gleam in his four eyes.
"No!" Hamsterviel yelled in horror right before Jumba picked him up and strolled towards a grinning Experiment 613. "D-don't you dare do it! N-N-No! No! Nooooooooo!" he screamed before he was shoved head first into Yaarp's horn. As Hamsterviel continued to screech out muffled profanities, Pleakley put his fingers to his mouth, giving a short whistle to signal the noisemaker to deliberately set off what would certainly be bombastic firework.
"Alright, Yaarp! Let's show that mean gerbil not to mess with this planet!" Pleakley pumped his fist high into the air, letting out a shout. "Let it rip!" Hearing the signal, Yaarp obediently nodded his head with the screaming Hamsterviel still plunged deep in his foghorn. As he closed his eyes to let loose one of his sonic blasts, the experiment began to feel building resistance in his horn due to Hamsterviel blocking the point where his sonic wave would usually disseminate from. The experiment puffed his cheeks, struggling to let loose the blast of sound by building up more and more pressure. After letting out a tired breath from pushing so hard, he took in as much air as he could by inhaling one deep breath, before letting out a grunt as he puffed his cheeks and pushed even harder until the obstruction finally gave way.
The end result was like opening a can of soda that had been shaken. With a miniature explosion, Yaarp let loose a mega-sneeze, resulting in the tied-up Hamsterviel being launched out from his megahorn like a rocket due to the built up pressure of Yaarp's sonic wave being released in one singular, deafening blast. "JUUUUMMBBBAAAA!" Hamsterviel screamed as he soared out of sight with a massive sonic boom trailing him. "I will have my revenge! I'll make sure that you pay for this someddaaayyyy!" the flying hamster howled until he was but a mere speck in the sky.
"There he goes." Pleakley used his arm to shield his eye from the sun as he looked at the flying hamster go higher and higher.
"Hmph! With any luck, pressure from released sonic boom will be enough to be sending annoying gerbil into space, where he rightfully belongs! Hahahaha!" Jumba said with a mocking jeer, his eyes focused on his former colleague until Hamsterviel was so tiny that he practically vanished into the horizon, disappearing from the sight of the trio of aliens.
As Hamsterviel ended up out of sight and thus out of mind, Jumba let out an exuberant laugh as he slowly removed his hands from his ears. He wasn't going to worry about Hamsterviel right now. Today was a new day, and to a scientist like him, every new day meant new possibilities and opportunities. There was no point in crying over spilt milk when he could be making plans of recovery. As Pleakley waved towards him, he gave a good-natured chuckle, a devious smirk hidden beneath his lips.
Now with his old double-crossing colleague Hamsterviel out of the picture once more, it was time to get back to business. With him managing to secure the assistance of his Experiment 613 as long as the unsuspecting space-faring tourist Pleakley remained by his side, Dr. Jumba Jookiba was certainly going to seize the moment alright.
Experiment 626 groggily opened his eyes from the loud noise. He blinked blurry tears away, cursing the sunlight that was shining brightly into the window for disorientating him. "Grrrrrrrr!" he hissed venomously, spitting out mucus onto the wooden floor. Not this nonsense again! He was starting to get really fed up by the repeated high-amplitude noise that kept piercing his eardrums. As a matter of fact, his sensitive hearing led to him being affected by this more than even the native humans. He really wanted to personally take care of and put a rather gruesome end to whichever crazy punk was causing a racket yet again. As a matter of fact, at two in the morning a series of those honks had ruined his sleep, waking him up and hence ruining his sleep.
But truth be told, 626 had other more pressing concerns on his mind.
Up till now, his creator Jumba still hadn't shown his face. This cat-and-mouse chess game between them was beginning to urk 626 greatly. He had patiently waited for Jumba to show all day, all day! But after all that, the scientist had the nerve to not fall into his reverse psychology trap! This meant that he would have to continue playing the role of doting pet towards his "new owner". It would have certainly helped if the little girl wasn't so optimistic a good 90 percent of the time.
To an anarchist made to cause misery like him, being forced to act nice was physically painful to him. He had shrugged off all her attempts to get him to play nice, but she was relentlessly stubborn, which led to him having a miserable time throughout the entire day. She had treated him like he was a literal dog, which to be fair, was kind of the point. But that didn't stop 626 from wanting to drop the façade and scream in agony at times.
But nooooooo. He couldn't blow his cover as long as Jumba was still prowling for him.
626's large floppy ears visibly twitched as the elongated honk continued on. His face contorted with anger as he sneered in irritation. "Naga bootifa!" he yelled out of the open window in Tantalog with a vicious glare, trying to keep his boiling anger in check. Would whoever is honking bloomin' shut up, his mind mentally yelled.
To his surprise, right after he had shouted out loud, whoever had been making the obnoxious noise did indeed stop. The sudden peace was so abrupt that it was synonymous to a continuous signal suddenly being cut off. Ha! 626 really hoped that was what happened. Maybe the inconsiderate brat had gotten himself clocked over the head, or at the very least some equally gruesome fate had befallen the annoyance. As Experiment 626 continued to grumble, he remained blissfully unaware of a yellow-furred experiment around his stature who was eyeing his current state of residence.
It was however, not even close to who he had been anticipating.
Making sure to maintain a safe distance away because of 626's super-hearing sense, Experiment 625 folded his arms as he shot a glare at the Pelekai residence. "This time you'll be mine. I'll make sure that I won't make the same mistake twice in a row. Heheheh!"
"Meega don't have good feeling about this."
625 gently shook his head, trying to reassure the nervous circus clown. "Oh hush now, three-four-five—"
"Elastico!" The green experiment hissed, extending up his left hand to wag a disapproving finger directly in front of 625's eyes. "Call meega Elastico!"
"Yeah, yeah. Not to worry, Elastico." He made sure to emphasize the name so as to keep 345 quiet. "I might have been hasty last time…"
"Meega don't even know what yuuga did last time! Meega got dragged into this by yuuga!"
625 held up a paw to cut in. "But rest assured, this time everything will go according to plan. This I solemnly pledge!"
He might have to wait until nightfall, but when the moon rose high, it would be time for him and Elastico to rectify the erroneous mistake from yesterday when he'd activated the wrong pod by accident. Sure, having Experiment 613 somehow manage to befriend Agent Pleakley under the moniker Yaarp was an unexpected bonus, a truly unexpected turnaround from the accidental activation.
But in the end, 625 would have very much preferred if he'd managed to get ahold of the correct experiment that he'd wanted as an asset by his side from the very start. "Experiment three-one-six, the shapeshifting experiment…" he mumbled under his breath. "No mistakes this time! I can't afford another fallback! This time I will acquire three-one-six's experiment pod… no matter what!"
Here's a celebratory chapter release for 6/26! Happy Stitch Day!
After recent events, things are slowly but surely hitting their tipping point. Will Experiment 316 be the game changer?
In case it's not clear, Yaarp is pretty much stuck with Jumba and Pleakley for now. Think of him as a persistent pet following them around. After all, his relationship with Pleakley is rather close in the show.
As you can see, Stitch is also finally back after a bit of an absence. Very soon the story will swing back to the experiment hunting prowess and local Hawaiian interactions that you all love the show and movie for respectively. I hope you look forward to what's to come!
Chapter 18: When Keypads Strike Back
Chapter 18: When Keypads Strike Back
Did you ever had that sinking feeling in your gut that you weren't going to like what was coming — that instinct from within you which made it seemed that things were just begging to go wrong, and thus most likely would?
Well, that was the same feeling that experiment three-four-five, aka the Electron Circus' Great Elastico, was currently experiencing right now with regards to the mission that he'd been forcefully drafted into. With an exhausted sigh, the experiment found himself reflecting on the situation and solemnly looking back on the crazy turn of events that had led him to this point.
It was a little jarring to think that just a mere twenty-four hours ago, he was having an absolute blast, experiencing what had undoubtedly been the best time of his entire life up until now. But to be absolutely fair, Elastico felt that he had rightfully deserved his chain of good luck after the utter nonsense that he'd been subjected to prior.
He'd fallen from a height of thousands of feet from a rapidly decompressing spacecraft, something which would normally kill someone. However, he was fortunate enough to have an ability to cushion his fall and thus miraculously emerged unscathed. As if the gods of fortune favored him that day, he had also been additionally blessed to have landed in a location with a group of people who immediately appreciated and loved his innate talent of stretching his body to incredible lengths. The circus folks had even given him a name that the experiment felt truly fit him — Elastico.
Seriously, what more could he possibly ask for? If Elastico asked for any more, it would literally come up as him being ungrateful and selfish. This truly was a dream come true for the clownish experiment.
And then, as though everything that he'd been through was nothing but an illusionary dream, his past immediately came back to haunt him with a roaring vengeance. To be fair, Elastico had somewhat expected for his fortunes to turn at some point. Even an overly optimistic experiment like him felt that the windfall of good luck that he'd had been fortunate to have for the past few days had been all too good to be true. As a result, he wasn't that surprised when his good luck finally ran out… he just never expected for his change of luck to be that sudden, and so severe.
Elastico was a carefree experiment, living his life to the fullest by treating each and every day like it could be his last. This 'go with the flow' attitude was something the experiment had held with him since the beginning to help him weather through the old days that he'd spent back at the lab under his creator Jumba's scrutiny. Back then, his powers had been restricted by the scientist before he found himself being forced to the back lines as his creator immediately worked on the next experiment, having deemed 345 as being "too much of a loose cannon".
"You are good at distracting enemy forces with your elasticity, experiment three-four-five," Jumba had praised him with a pat on the head before narrowing his eyes and lowering his voice, the sudden mood whiplash causing 345's smile to drop. "Unfortunately, when you are doing so, you also inevitably distract yourself as well!" Jumba had told him as he let out an exhausted sigh. "Very bad. Very, very bad!"
With that final analysis, Jumba had apparently given up all hope on 345, basically shoving him aside like another failed creation, never again calling upon his aid or acknowledging him up until the point where the lab security had been breached by the Galactic Federation. Forced into a corner, Jumba had then given the order to dehydrate everyone. The implication was obvious — the big war against the Galactic Federation that Jumba had always hyped about was finally about to commerce in earnest. Much like the other experiments, Elastico's face was one of glee, although for a different reason as to most of the others.
The experiment knew that he would finally be free of this prison when he was reactivated. Frankly, he couldn't wait for that to happen. Unlike some of the others, to him it didn't matter where he was activated. Just so long as he was the master of the planet he was on and no longer had to put up with this, he was okay with anywhere.
Elastico thought that his big break had come when he found himself rehydrated back from his pod form. He'd expected to see a planet, after which he would immediately defect and simply live the life that he wanted to live. His expectations were subsequently dashed and proven dead wrong when he'd woken up and immediately saw Jumba's face again. To make things worse, his panicking creator and a mad hamster then proceeded to immediately fight over his powers in order for them to survive a spaceship crash landing.
Not the best place for him to be rehydrated. That much was blatantly obvious.
After that lucky escape and his subsequent recruitment into the circus, even his happy-go-lucky optimistic side had been prepared for any event to turn his wave of good fortunes around. Although he'd expected his luck to turn at some point, even he had to admit that his heart skipped a beat when he saw none other than Experiment 625 waiting for him right after he'd finished performing to an ecstatic crowd.
The Experiment 625. At the moment at which their eyes had met, Elastico had thought that he was a goner. Thank goodness that 625 wound up being oddly merciful to him and had elected to spare him for who knows what reason.
Perhaps that same mercy was also a curse. He had the suspicion that 625's unwillingness to finish him off might lead to him slowly beginning to garner false hope that he'd manage to get away unscathed at the end of it all. But even an optimistic experiment like Elastico knew otherwise in his heart, the experiment very well aware that if he botched up whatever 625 wanted from him, he could kiss his career in the circus behind.
Sure, he had no doubt in his mind that he was able to stretch his way to safety if 625 turned on him, perhaps even fleeing to another island. But the problem was that an escape to get away from 625 would mean leaving the Electron Circus behind — something that Elastico was unable to fathom. A lot was at stake for Elastico. He was willing to live his life in pursuit from Jumba and Experiment 625, but to do that would mean abandoning the only family that he'd had, something Elastico couldn't accept… not even as a last resort. He hadn't come this far only to have everything be taken from him.
Hence, Elastico decided that he basically had no choice but to go along with 625's plan. It was not only for his own safety, but also for the sake of his circus troupe as well. Unwilling to lose his newfound happiness, the resigned Elastico thus consigned himself to do whatever 625 wanted.
He just never expected for that task to be something like this.
"Gaba is this place?" Elastico questioned the experiment next to him, tilting his head at a ninety-degree-angle by stretching his neck so that he could emulate an owl, putting in the extra effort just to emphasize his confusion.
"Why, it's a house!" 625 answered as they stood outside the structure while making sure to give the jittery experiment a good hearty pat on the back. The moment of contact caused him to jump and stretch his body gently. "Aren't you being a little panicky, Elastico?" he commented. "I mean, look at how calm I am right now…"
"Of course yuuga calm! Because unlike meega, yuuga aren't famous and on TV! Yuuga don't have anything to lose!" Elastico replied, nervously darting his eyes left and right as they continued to eye the house. "The difference is that the people around here know meega! If anyone sees meega doing this now, my career isa all but toast!"
"Eh, you know Elastico… if your career really ends up being toast, I can help ya eat up the remains," 625 offered, unable to resist the opportunity to make a bread-related pun much to Elastico's chagrin. The green experiment promptly rolled his eyes, momentarily forgetting about his worry as he cursed his current existence as the assistant of 625, who he was quickly finding out to be a very unorthodox partner.
"Now, your first task is very simple." 625 pointed up at the open window. "You see that window ledge, Elastico? I want you to pull us both up there. Easy-peasy."
Elastico felt a grin creeping up on his face as he stretched his arm out to grip ahold of 625's torso. Finally, a task that was very familiar to him! Flashing a grin that he hadn't shown throughout this whole ordeal up to this point, Elastico reached his free arm up to the windowsill, before propelling himself and 625 upwards as he retracted the stretchy limb. Abseiling across the wall, Elastico then threw 625 and himself into the window, the two landing in the room inside.
625 rubbed his head from the impact, shaking off his dizziness as he got to his feet. He silently walked across the floorboards to stop in front of the snoozing Experiment 626. "Now, it appears that this game between us begins again…" he drawled as he observed 626's chest rise and fall. "It is time! Heh heh heh!"
Elastico shook his head as 625 began to act as exaggeratedly as some of the circus performers he'd worked with back at the Electron Circus. No, arguably worse than them, if that was even possible. At least his colleagues were paid to act that way, while 625 was just doing it either as force of habit or to deliberately make him agitated. Following 625's gaze, Elastico pointed at the dark blue creature. "Um, who isa that?" he asked out of curiosity. It looked almost like one of Jumba's experiments, but if it was… he didn't recognize.
625 simply gave Elastico a passing glance as he lay his hand on the sleeping creature's light blue belly. "Oh, must I really spoil the surprise?" he droned with a bored expression. "You'll find out soon enough… once my vengeance is complete, that is."
Elastico chose to drop the topic at 625's vague answer, although the experiment was definitely beginning to feel that there was more than what met the eye there. He cautiously watched as 625 then rubbed the belly of the experiment, prodding it until a muffled beep could be heard from within. Elastico jumped into the air at the sound, preparing to flee from the sudden noise until he saw that 625 was remaining perfectly still, evidently having expected it.
"G-Gaba is that noise?" he stuttered, averting his eyes and looking in the opposite direction of 625 and the blue creature.
625's smile went wider as he shot Elastico back a pleased response, "That noise, my friend, is what I'm here for… Jumba's very own experiment container!"
Elastico spun on his heel to whirl around at 625. The yellow experiment immediately whistled when he saw Elastico's panicked face, playing innocent and acting as though he hadn't just randomly dropped a bombshell on the clown. Experiment 625 acting dumb didn't stop Elastico from saying his thoughts out loud. "Gaba you say!? J-Jumba's experiment container? The one that isa supposed to hold all of us experiments? Gaba isa it doing in there!?"
Before 625 could answer any of his questions, the experiment container beeped faintly again from within 626's stomach, right a soft message was broadcast throughout the room.
"Six hundred and twenty-one experiments logged and functional," it informed. The voice message was certainly quite a bit of déjà vu to Experiment 625, especially since he'd literally just heard the message the previous day. After the pod numerical check, the container then gave the all-clear signal for a pleased end-user. "Experiment container ready. Please select experiment."
Even in his current state of mind, 625 was observant enough to notice that the status message beeped out by the experiment container had changed slightly, the experiment making a mental note in his head that the numerical value had decreased down from the 622 that it had spat at him the previous night. It had fallen by a numeric value of one, now giving the value of 621 experiments. But that was to be expected. It made sense for the counter to drop since he had drawn out Experiment 613, Yaarp, from the capsule. He would have been worried if the counter had dropped further, but since it was precisely at the value which he'd expected it to be, there was nothing to worry about.
It was clearly apparent that Experiment 626 appeared to be a heavy sleeper. 625 didn't know that the first time round, but if he had somehow managed to get away from the house even though a freaking noise-making experiment had been activated within close proximity, the yellow experiment was all but certain of that fact this time.
With this new knowledge, Experiment 625 knew better than to be hasty. After all, more haste equaled less speed. He certainly wasn't going to be as careless as he was in his first attempt and thus ruin the whole thing as a result. And as a fallback, 625 had Elastico in tow this time, so he knew that he had all the time in the world to find the one experiment that he wanted. He was going to take it slow until he was all but guaranteed three-one-six's experiment pod.
His eyes then hovered over to the nervous Elastico. Speaking of experiment three-four-five…
"Hey, bud!" 625 repeatedly snapped his fingers to grab his partner's attention. "Mind if you do the job for me while I slack off?"
Elastico shot 625 a deadpan stare until he realized that 625 was being serious. "Gaba? Yo-you want meega to do everything?" Elastico himself was shocked that 625 all but admitted that he wanted to lay back and use him as a crutch for the entire mission. "Naga-takabah! Not a chance there! What about yuuga, six-two-five?!"
"I already did my fair share for this heist… the planning portion, that is." Seeing Elastico still unconvinced, 625 slouched and began to yawn in an effort to make himself seem even more inadequate for the job. "Aw, come on and have a heart, won't ya? Help a buddy out, please? I really am lethargic, poor ol' me didn't get much sleep last night, you know?" Despite the flimsy excuse, Elastico had no choice but to concede with a sigh, knowing full well that 625 currently held his freedom in the palm of his hand, for the moment at least, so he pretty much had to oblige.
"Besides, I'm not sure if you're aware, but I've already done this once before. However, this is your first time here, so naturally as my understudy for learning about how to stealthily steal stuff, I'm going to let you have the honor of actually performing the task at hand. Good luck, mate!"
Elastico stood defiant as his eyes hovered down. He didn't know who the six-two-five lookalike on the ground was, but every instinct within the experiment was telling him to stay the heck away from it, and thus he wisely chose to remain a sizeable distance away.
This stalemate persisted until 625 realized that trying to convince the terrified Elastico to approach 626 would only waste valuable time. "Ah, alright," he conceded as he let out a huff, with Elastico visibly appearing to be relieved as he was granted the concession. "I'll do all the hard work while you slack off. Ya happy now?"
As 625 walked up to the sleeping experiment on the ground, his normally mischievous eyes turned serious. "Alright, ya better listen up. Pay very close attention to what I'm about to say, Elastico. There's one specific experiment pod that I wanna get, and that's experiment number three-one-six. And I'm not gonna leave this place before I get it," he emphasized. "If it means that we're gonna be here until dawn to sift through piles of experiment pods, then so be it. But the important part is this, Elastico. If the person on the ground shows even the slightest sign of stirring, you use your elastic stretchy powers and get the two of us out of here, immediately." His eyes hovered onto the snoozing 626. "I wanna bolt from this place before he realizes anything is amiss. Ya got that?"
Elastico nodded at his order, the experiment's eyes darting between the open window and his captor. He was on the balls of his feet, preparing to stretch to safety and leave the vicinity the very moment something potentially went wrong. With 625, it was better to be safe than sorry.
625 slowly reached forward, prodding the soft underbelly with two fingers, before making three sharp jabs that caused Elastico to wince. 345 didn't understand what 625 was doing. If he was so adamantly against the sleeping person waking up, why did he poke him in the belly?
He got his answer as the being on the ground twitched. Almost ready to flee, he only stopped when he saw 625 sternly glance at him, signaling for him to stand down by holding up a paw as the yellow experiment looked on.
Experiment 626 then spat out the experiment pod that irritated his gullet even as his slept on gag reflex. The mucus-covered pod then landed with a clatter onto the wooden floorboard. 625 picked it up with mild disgust, rubbing the round pod repeatedly onto his fur to dry it off and clean up the excess mucus.
Once the writing on the pod was legible enough due to not being completely covered by gooey slime, he held the pod up to his eyes by using two fingers. The room was very dark, so 625 was forced to use his infrared vision to read the experiment number that was embedded on the pod that had been dispensed.
"Experiment number… two-seven-seven," 625 muttered in a slow manner, before letting out a groan when he realized it was the wrong pod yet again. "Gack! Why!? Of course the keypad just so happens to be misaligned and gives me the wrong pod once again. Of course it had to be! Must the stars always be misaligned for poor ol' six-two-five?" He shook his head with a grumble, before he gestured towards his partner in crime.
"Hey, Elastico! I don't have any need for this! Catch!" 625 made brief eye contact with Elastico before using an overhand throw to fling the pod over in his direction. The trajectory of the small flying object forced Elastico to stretch his arm out so that he could catch the pod before it clattered on the wooden floor.
"Oi, six-two-five!" Elastico viciously hissed as his arm retracted back with the pod safely in his palm. "Gaba you doing! Yuuga almost blew our cover!"
625 snickered at Elastico's flustered response. It would seem that Elastico would be just as easy to mess with as Pleakley was, much to his great delight. "Ah, no need to be so hard up!" he reassured the green experiment while trying to play innocent. "I was simply testing your reaction time. It's very good to see that you're on the ball."
As Elastico glowered at 625, the yellow experiment tiptoed back to the snoozing 626 and made another attempt at the pod, this time pressing his paw down at a different location. Jabbing his finger into the soft fur of 626's belly around where he suspected the keypad of the containing was, 625 once again attempted to press the keys which would lead to his selected experiment pod being ejected. "Experiment three… one… six," he muttered as he made another guessing attempt as to where the three, one, and six keys were on the keypad within 626's stomach area.
Another experiment pod thus sailed through the air. As 625 picked it up from the floor, he found himself disappointed once again. "Number oh-oh-seven," he dismissed as he threw the pod to Elastico again. "Next!" he barked before Elastico could even grab the pod that was currently in the air.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down please, six-two-five!"
625 ignored Elastico, starting to become impatient at the results that he was getting. More and more experiment pods were spat out as he continued to use the method of trial-and-error to get the pod that he wanted, although rather unfortunately for everyone involved, he kept getting duds over and over again.
"Experiment oh-oh-seven? Come on, now that number's just completely way off."
"Oh-two-oh… nah! Unless you add about three hundred to that number!"
"Six-oh-two? Gragh, I don't need another six-series experiment! Six-one-three was enough! My ears are still ringing from the last one, that bloomin' loud noisemaker experiment!"
"C-Choota…" Elastico let out a rare curse, keeping his head down as he threw all the reject pods out of the window, using the downtime to listen to 625 continuing to ramble on and lament about his unfortunate streak of luck with regards to finding the experiment pod that he wanted. The clown jester groaned as 625 pressed on with his mission with no regards to his surroundings. The experiment was oblivious to everything that was around him, almost like he was in his own little world…
"Experiment pod selected."
…his own little world where that simple phrase was his addiction. Elastico could see that 625 relished those words — the constant thrill with every gamble that the next experiment would be the one he was after, the elusive experiment three-one-six.
Even if it never was.
Elastico tilted his head when he saw 625 looking at the next pod that had been spat out with a look that wasn't utter disdain for once. "Hey, that's the inverse of oh-two-oh!" 625 commented with a surprised look as he rubbed his fingers against the red experiment pod. "I guess I could keep you as a good luck charm, in hopes that I manage to get experiment six-one-three's reverse… oh, just where are you, three-one-six?" he moaned as he pocketed the pod.
Praying before he mashed on 626's belly again, 625 closed his eyes with a sigh before picking up the next pod that 626 gagged up in his sleep. Picking it up from the wooden floor, he held it up to the moon, the reflection of the moonlight through the window illuminating the pod serial number.
"Three… one… six…" 625 murmured, almost instinctively tossing the pod aside to Elastico due to expecting yet another reject. Thankfully, his brain managed to catch the experiment number that he had said out loud in time before his muscle memory messed him up.
"Wait just a darn minute! Experiment three-one-six? For real!?" the pudgy experiment did a double-take, his jaw slackening in shock before his lips curled up to form a smile. "Experiment three-one-six! Yes! Yes! I finally got it! Ahahahaha!"
"Good! Yuuga got what yuuga want," Elastico hissed as he saw 625 grab firmly onto the yellow experiment pod. "So can we go now? This place gives meega the creeps!"
"Oh, sure thing. Let's get outta here! Waa-hey!" For once, 625 didn't mess with his expectations. Just solely by the fact that 625 hadn't gave a sarcastic reply to banter with him, it became quite clear to Elastico that 625 had gotten his prize and wanted to quickly leave as well. 625 pointed towards the window as he walked across the room. "Plan's simple. You lower me down to the ground with your stretchy little arms. You can do that for me, can't ya?"
Elastico glared at 625 as the mischievous experiment flailed his arms about as he was saying the statement, his erratic movement a clear jab at Elastico's stretchy hands. Honestly though, Elastico just felt more irritated than anything. He'd spent less than a day with Experiment 625 and promptly came to the conclusion that the experiment was so good when it came to verbal spars and pushing buttons that it might as well be his primary function.
Nevertheless, he put that all aside, quickly grabbing 625 and jumping out of the window, inflating his body to a round orb that surrounded 625 until they hit the ground and he reverted back to normal.
"Nice trick, Elastico." 625 dusted himself off as he stood up. "A little disorientating and dizzy, but useful nevertheless. And thus I will award your performance with an eight out of ten score." As he chuckled one last time at the gaping Elastico, 625 proceeded to open his palm to check that he still had the pod with him before grinning and starting to strut away.
"Wait, wait, wait!" Elastico turned on his heel, confusion apparently on his face as he called out to 625. "Gaba yuuga doing?" he confronted his partner as 625 palmed the blue orb in his hand, "Meega thought that yuuga were retrieving the experiment pods for Jumba?"
"Jumba?" 625 had a wry grin on his face as he said their creator's name with a tone that was brimming with contempt. "Really now, Elastico? You actually think that I'm doing this for Jumba? What a joke! Hahahahah!"
As 625 let out a cruel laugh, a sneaky look crossed his face, one that rapidly grew at a rate that was directly proportional to the dawning terror of Elastico's own paint-covered one. The jester experiment simply wrung his fingers at the sight. Although the mission had been a success, he was now starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing.
Once 625 finally calmed down, he continued to speak with a more subdued tone, "Ah, but I never did explicitly say that now, did I?" he chuckled as he playfully snapped his fingers. "Got ya there, didn't I? As the old saying goes, never assume anything without first confirming it, pard! Heh heh!"
A look of worry crossed Elastico's face. "But if experiment pod not for Jumba, then who isa it for…?" he asked hesitantly as he twiddled his fingers, unsure if he actually wanted to know the answer to his question.
And sure enough, his trepidation proved to be correct.
"Why… they're for me, of course." 625 took a small bow as he rolled his eyes in response. "Oh come on now, don't act like you're so shocked, Elastico," said 625 as he poked Elastico in the belly. "Isn't the answer blatantly obvious? If the pod isn't for Jumba, then it's certainly going to go down to the person who's next in line, aka yours truly!" 625 finished off with a wink as he continued to poke Elastico in the purple spot that was in the middle of his belly.
"Meega hate yuuga. Meega hate yuuga so much. So, so much."
625 let out a hoot of laughter at Elastico's blunt statement, which only caused the green experiment to scowl even further. "But I should thank ya for the assistance rendered nevertheless. You are dismissed for now, Elastico," he said as he waved three-four-five off in a dismissive shoo-like manner. Elastico, realizing that he had gotten the go-ahead to flee, wasted no time at all in saying his farewells, the experiment reaching to a nearby lamppost and using the tension from stretching there to propel himself forward — and as far away from Experiment 625 as physically possible.
625 watched as Elastico disappeared before holding up the yellow experiment pod with a sense of elation. Despite everything, Elastico had been an invaluable help to him, and though he won't admit it out loud, he was glad that he seeked the help of the troupe performer. Plus, it felt good to have a victory for once after all of the setbacks he'd had since ending up on Planet Earth.
He continued to stroll along the roadside until he found a body of water that he'd marked earlier on, conveniently located in a fountain outside the Birds of Paradise Hotel. With a flourish, he tossed the experiment pod into the water, making sure to hurriedly take a few steps back, albeit not for the obvious reason.
625 chose to keep his distance as a soft glow began to illuminate the water beneath the surface. It wasn't as though he was scared of the experiment, but he would certainly prefer if the splash didn't get his beautiful fur wet. He had already despised it when Blubby had shoved him into water when they landed on Earth and matted his yellow fur from head to toe as a result. Maintaining the safety distance, 625 paced around the round fountain, watching intently as tiny bubbles began to froth up to the surface of the pool.
A sudden flash of blistering light shone for a second. Far, far away, inaudible to six-two-five's—as well as six-two-six's—ears, the experiment container let out an ominous message about the new development.
"Warning! Experiment three-one-six activated. Primary function: shapeshifter."
As the glowing light dimmed down, it revealed a pink, blob-like being — the eponymous Experiment 316 who 625 had been eyeing for so long. He chuckled in delight as 316 landed in the pool of water with a small splash. As they locked eyes, 625 reached to his back and pulled out an object, waving it at the pinkish experiment.
"Over here, good boy."
316 instantly cooed when he saw the object in 625's paw — a large, tender deep-fried chicken wing. He hopped out of the fountain and greedily snatched the chicken wing from 625.
"You like that, huh? Maybe one day I should make ya a chicken wing sandwich…" As 316 tenderly munched on the wing, 625 smirked to himself. He could already tell by this point, Jumba's habit of meticulously logging down everything about his experiments was going to be his eventual downfall.
'Log Number 3
Today is upsetting day for Jumba. After completion of test run for three-one-six's successful creation, Jumba decided to go get nice delicious chicken burger from intergalactic fast food restaurant to celebrate. However, the instant Jumba stepped one foot into lab at Galaxy Defense Industries, experiment three-one-six's attention was piqued and my little monster gobbled up Jumba's pack-away chicken wing meal in one bite before Jumba could stop him!
Argh! How very infuriating! Now I have to be going back to fast food restaurant to reorder meal. But it is being curious to Jumba… I am surprised that three-one-six liked that food so very much that he practically demanded more of the tasty morsel from me. He was being absolutely adamant about it as well, to the point where he refused a direct order from me… me!
Must make mental note about this incident. Love for chicken wing snack is possible weakness for three-one-six. What a shame that experiment three-one-six has fatal flaw for others to exploit. It would appear that unfortunately, three-one-six is not Jumba's perfect genetic experiment after all…'
While reading Experiment 316's entry at the computer café, 625's eyes had glazed upon that tidbit of information that Jumba had noted down. Utilizing it to his own advantage it was now clearly paying off. He never would have suspected three-one-six of having a fondness for chicken wings had he not chanced upon Jumba's own notes, but with that knowledge he pretty much managed to have 316 under his thumb as of now. It was a start, but hopefully he would be able to completely gain 316's trust and utilize its power soon enough.
Still, he had to admit that he felt stupid for carrying the piece of chicken all the way from the Electron Circus to the Birds of Paradise Hotel. Truth be told, he would have left it there to begin with, but 625 wasn't sure if someone else would steal it before he arrived in the vicinity, which would leave him without a way to control 316. He didn't want a repeat of what had happened with Experiment 613, so 625 just chose to play it safe and bring the piece of oily food with him throughout instead, despite the fact that it was certainly sticky and covered part of his fur with oil.
But whatever. It was a small price to pay in the end for 625, especially since he now had Experiment 316 and his transformative shapeshifting powers at his disposal. Now, everything was finally falling into place. The time for jokes and fooling around was about to draw to a close.
Soon he would have his revenge. It was only a matter of time.
"It's about time for me to make my mark on this world… and I intend to do it in style!" Experiment 625 clenched his paw as he looked up to the moon high above. "Y'all better prepare yourselves, citizens of Kokaua Town! My revenge on Jumba starts in earnest tonight, and I'm afraid you humans are gonna be caught in the crossfire! But too bad! I refuse to play second fiddle to anyone ever again!"
Experiment 316, still engrossed in munching on his chicken wing, briefly looked up at 625's mad declaration before continuing on with his meal. Unperturbed or even the slightest bit embarrassed at 316's reaction, 625 continued on his impromptu speech with the backdrop of the Birds of Paradise hotel looming behind him, lifting his right paw high up with a determined flourish, the gesture making it seem almost like 625 truly thought that he could reach up to the distant stars that were in the night sky above.
"Boy, howdy! It's time for this place to prepare for some major trouble, for your good ol' trusty sandwich maker is now in town. Y'all better bet that I'm ready to dish out mayhem, specially topped with tartar sauce! Heh heh heh!"
Alrighty! This story arc finally draws to a close. Can't believe it's taken close to ten months to wrap this thing up, especially considering Morpholomew was first hinted at five chapters ago.
Feel free to look up all the experiment numbers of the pods that were thrown aside by 625 — I ensure you that I won't forget them. Unlike what I did in Chapter 4, this time I won't be listing down their experiment-names translation since every single one of them will pretty much get involved in one way or another, so I'd rather not spoil it for you — you'll have to actively look them up for yourself (unless you already know them) or simply read on if you're interested.
But I hope I did a good job in changing up the standard L&S formula for these past few chapters… because these next few chapters (not to spoil) and the new story arc that'll premiere next chapter will shake things up even more than before. Do look forward to that, for we're finally coming close to the climax of Act 1 for this fic.