The first installment of "Saturday-Morning-Super-Hero-Faire" Parody fiction. Enjoy.
The battle between good and evil still exists. Evil, however, has risen up in new forms. Fantastic new enemies with distinct super abilities have risen up against traditional law and order. It will take a group of gooddoers similarly endowed with special talents to fight back against such a threat of lawlessness before it is too late…
I. THE RELEASING
Flotsam Prison held the best of the worst of criminals. None could escape its borders and its officers did not practice such ideas as parole. Therefore, its iron walls had been meant to hold the evilest of criminals. However, there was one who fell somewhere in between as just evil enough for Flotsam Prison but not nearly despicable enough to be treated seriously by his fellow inmates.
Doctor Mario Nette, “the maker of men,” had been hauled in on an attempt to replace the Joint Chiefs of Staff with mechanical clones obedient to his whims. Upon apprehending the evil tinkerer, the arresting officers also found mechanized mock-ups of, among other people, the current President of the United States and the pope. Those deadly dolls were destroyed and Mario Nette was taken into custody that day; a prankster and long-fallen doll maker to spend the rest of his days in the same prison as attempted killers. The slender villain with the pasty white face and skeletal hands had only one chance at freedom and he had waited for a long time on its arrival. Nevertheless, his chance at breaking free that he kept teasing his captors about never happened. Therefore, it was the guards who retained the last laugh each night.
On the night of September 20th, just as the sun was setting and before the search lights were turned on, a strange ski-boat pulled up alongside Flotsam Prison’s island borders. Two young but respected guards, Andre Clark and Marc Hill, were patrolling that particular side of the island at the time. They shared a glance, rolled their eyes, and approached the boat that they might send a pleasure-cruiser and rubbernecker on his way.
Then, just like that, the boat dropped a package on the dock, turned around, and roared away. Clark jumped into a nearby boat and prepared to pursue the craft. Meanwhile, Hill was left to inspect the box.
As the remaining guard knelt beside the box to open it carefully, the package ripped itself open from the inside. A well-dressed dummy in the likeness of an old-time famous mannequin lay in the bottom of the box. However, that did beg the question as to who had opened the package, not to mention who had dropped it off in the first place.
Hill turned his back to the box and raised his two way radio to check in with Clark. However, he felt himself being watched as he raised his radio.
Hill whirled back around and found the mannequin sitting upright in the box, his mouth forming a grin.
“Sur-prise!” the doll declared in a high-pitched, mono-syllabic speech.
With that, he fired a pair of eye beams at Hill. The guard who had already been stunned by the sudden turn of events was struck by the beams and collapsed into a deep slumber on the dock.
“Have a nice-nice-nice…” the dummy added before raising a hand and smacking himself in the side of the head, “…rest!”
With that, he officially crawled out of the box on long arms and legs and scampered toward the prison. As he neared the guard, however, he heard the radio.
“Clark to Hill; Clark to Hill!” the voice boomed. “What’s going on back there?! You tried to contact me.”
The automated dummy grinned mischievously and picked up the radio. He then kicked the sleeping guard for good measure.
“Oh!” Hill grunted in agony before dozing right back off again.
It was the only sound that the dummy needed to hear and he pushed the button on the side of the pilfered radio.
“Hill to Clark.” The doll-sized mannequin deadpanned. “No puh-puh-puh…prah-blems here.”
For a moment, Clark wanted to be suspicious about the response. Nevertheless, he had his own problems and had only responded to the initial radio call for his own reasons.
“I lost the boat!” Clark boomed. “No license; nothing. I would think that I could find a ski-boat like that out here but it’s gone. What about that package that it dropped off? A bomb?”
“M-T.” the dummy answered. “I mean, it’s emp-ty. A prank?”
“Must be.” Clark finally sighed. “These damn kids! I’m returning to port.”
“C-U there.” The dummy answered in Hill’s voice before hanging up and refastening the radio from the dozing officer’s buckle. With that, the dummy chuckled at its own cleverness and scrambled on long, cloth legs over to the nearby ventilation ducting unit. Charlie, the mechanized mannequin in the clever likeness of a much earlier “Charlie,” had a job to do and was running slightly late in doing it. With another giggle, the doll ripped out the ducting with impressive strength, ducked into the vents, and went on his way in a crawl.
At this point, Mario Nette was beginning to doubt his own boasts of early freedom. His guards were most likely right and could have the last laugh on another prisoner. Dr. Nette couldn’t believe it. Most villains were surrounded by stupid goons who were at least more reliable than Nette’s creations in that they would have made an attempt by now at freeing their masters. Nette was about to turn in for another night on his cot while the cot adjacent to his own had the covers pulled over it already.
Just then, the ventilation grate into his cell rattled and a plastic head with black hair, a painted on face, and a square-jawed grin popped out.
“Heh-llo!” Charlie greeted his master and maker.
“It’s about time, you fool!” Nette answered, reaching into his belt for one of a few tiny tools that the guards had forgotten about. “Now, keep it down while you go get the rest of my tools!”
Charlie dropped to the floor and unleashed a giggle that prompted his master to smack him in the back of the head. Luckily, the toy got the message from there and fired another brand of eye beams at himself that prompted him to shrink and sneak between the bars. Nette wanted to be happy about his release and was still annoyed at his accomplices instead. However, where he couldn’t depend on his dolls for intelligence, he more than made up for it in his own mind. Dr. Mario Nette reached beneath the covers of the opposite cot and continued on his lengthy pet project, built only with the tools that he had managed to smuggle into the cell.
Finally, there was a commotion outside in the hall and Charlie scampered back toward the cell with the box of remaining tools. He then shrunk the box and himself long enough to slide between the bars again and turned to face his master.
“Not yet, you little fool.” Nette boomed. “I want you to see something first.”
With a flourish, Dr. Nette pulled the sheets down on the opposite cot and revealed his pasty white face.
The shrunken mannequin’s eyes nearly bulged out of his head at the sight. However, Nette signaled to him to keep his voice down.
“Turn your reduction rays on me and let’s get out of here.” Nette instructed, taking a moment to press a button on the second Nette’s neck until he sprang to life and sat up on his cot. “These results may be entertaining but I don’t want to be around here when they happen.”
Charlie didn’t seem to understand where his master was coming from but he wasn’t programmed to worry about that. Instead, he ripped free the ventilation duct once more, shrank down his master and stowed him away in the box of tools. With that, the dummy once again slithered into the vent system, hooking the grating with his foot to silently close it as he left. Dr. Mario Nette, while a rather embarrassing size for a moment, was free again.
The guards rounded the corner where the commotion had come from and found Dr. Nette sitting on the cot opposite the one that he usually used.
“Good ev-en-ing, off-i-cers.” The failed dollmaker greeted his captors.
Two guards posted a watch outside of his cell while the third ran to check the weapons locker. He returned a moment later and grimly shook his head before whispering in the ear of one of his compatriots…
Outside of the walls of Flotsam Prison, Charlie removed his master from the tool chest and reversed the effects of his beam to make the evil inventor full grown again. With that, Nette seized Charlie under an arm and picked up his tool chest with his free hand. He then glanced around just as a submarine bobbed back to the surface and converted back into a ski-boat.
“That took you long enough!” Nette growled at the boat’s pilot; a sixteen year old boy with dirty blonde hair and absent green eyes.
“Dropping off the dummy, successfully breaking you out, and helping you get away?” the boy at the ship’s controls replied. “This was fun!”
“And you’ll be richly remembered for your actions on my behalf today, Mr. Freek.” Dr. Nette answered in his naturally high-pitched voice before strapping himself and Charlie into their seats. “Now, submerge again! Clark must be giving up on the search and returning close to now!”
Josiah Freek, whiz kid and local bully, got the message and punched a sequence of buttons. Suddenly, the boat shifted and rocked, nearly dumping the surprised passengers from their seats. Then, the conspicuous ski-boat lost its skis, gained a water-tight cover, and dropped down into the deep once more.
Suddenly, the sound of an explosion rocked the island that rested the prison. Without being asked, Charlie handed his master a portable view scanner and Dr. Nette glanced down. His former prison cell was now a wreck with a gaping hole to outside. The guards that had been interrogating “him” over the events of the day now lay scattered like bowling pins.
“Good.” Nette opined. “I was beginning to wonder if my remote control bomb had been a dud. Nevertheless, the results were what I had needed.”
“Your ro-bots can-not all be me, mas-ter.” Charlie reminded him from the opposite seat.
“Right you are, my little friend.” Nette answered, patting the dummy on the head with one of his skeletal hands. “Again, while the timing was off, the results were what I asked for and more. Return me to my workshop, Mr. Freek, and get home yourself. You are a school child; and I have a score to settle with Doctor Royce Bannar.”
Freek mumbled to himself and pouted over the thought of school. Nonetheless, he had also heard instructions from the recently escaped Dr. Nette and the boy had been just important enough to directly act in freeing him. He kept his gripes to himself and set the submarine into reverse long enough to pull away from the side of the island. Then, he released the throttles and let loose toward civilization once more. Dr. Mario Nette had schemes of revenge to set into motion, Josiah Freek had a girlfriend waiting back at school and had geeks to kick around besides, and Charlie just had to do whatever Dr. Nette said…
Royce Bannar was heralded as the most brilliant inventor and scientific mind of the modern age. He appreciated the sentiments from those around him and, in many ways, he had earned the accolades. Nevertheless, he was still suspect to human error. For example, he missed his eldest child, Julie, to this day. It had been many years since her disappearance and he was sure that local organizations were still working round the clock for leads. He should have reached a reasonable comfort with those unknown events by now.
Additionally, for Doctor Bannar’s brilliant mind, he could not understand his son, Aden. He was an impressive enough inventor. Nevertheless, he severely lacked the drive, dedication, and inspiration to be a true scientist. He was just too impulsive and preferred to settle things with harsh words and fists than from a distant glance. Julie Bannar would have followed in her father’s meticulously lain footsteps. However, she was still missing and all that Royce Bannar had left of biological family was Aden. Aden was just too much like Jessica Ivory; the woman who had stolen the good doctor’s heart, along with other precious things before she left. No, Aden was no…
“Doc.” An outside voice dared to interrupt Royce’s private laments.
Bannar leapt in his seat. Then, he glanced up into the chiseled, almost handsome face and brown haired features of Rex “Turbo” Rogers. Rogers had been hired on as the doctor’s bodyguard back when the world started to appreciate the wealth of his intelligence. Since such a time, “Turbo” had more than once proven himself as a stunt pilot and daredevil driver from his olden days before joining the service.
“Turbo!” Doctor Bannar squeaked before his voice and reserved demeanor could return. “You had startled me, old friend.”
“My apologies, Doc.” Turbo’s thick southern accent answered. “They’re ready for you in the other room.”
“Thank you, Rex.” Dr. Bannar answered, readjusting his tie and suit before rising from his chair and turning to face the otherwise silent, blue-haired girl who stood to the other side of his seat. “Hand me the holoview please, Blink.”
Blink nodded and passed the doctor a round device with a top like a half cylinder. Bannar didn’t know where Blink had come from originally but he sure liked having her around. Not only was she just about the age that Julie would be around now but she was also quiet and reserved. She took well after the doctor in her quiet analysis of a situation before she should elect to speak.
“Well, yes,” Bannar suddenly blurted out, taking the device and heading for the conference room. “I should hope that the others are just as impressed with the holoview demonstration of the Particle Accelerator as I was with the real thing.”
“Royce, they’ll love it!” Turbo declared. “We’ll have our fingers crossed for you out here!”
“Thank you.” Doctor Bannar replied, disappearing into the room and allowing the door to close behind him. With the doctor gone, Blink turned to face Turbo.
“The good doctor gets quite nervous these days.” She declared.
Turbo smacked the young girl on the back.
“Ah, it’s cuttin’ it kinda close to…well…an important anniversary in the big brain’s life.” The guardian agent and trusted friend replied, taking a moment to check his watch. “Say, Aden should be getting back from school any ol’ time now. What say that we’re there to greet him, huh? Except…well, it’d be kinda nice if the Rolls were still here when ol’ Royce got out of his little ‘show-n’tell’ in there.”
“I will provide for us the transportation.” Blink reassured him, stepping out from her corner to stand alongside her ally. “One moment, please.”
Suddenly, the girl and the man became translucent. Then, a portal of azure energy was where the pair had once stood. Split seconds later, the portal was gone, along with its passengers. It was a process that was far beyond Bannar’s explanation and light years ahead of Turbo’s understanding. Nonetheless, it was a convenience for Turbo, something “cool” to Aden, a terror to his kitty, Kimber, and a fascination to the good doctor. It had been just fascinating enough to Doctor Bannar that he had based the concept of his Particle Accelerator on beam teleportation; at least until he could pin down how the young woman seemed to do it for herself. Nevertheless, Blink’s own particular talents were even a mystery to her; a mystery that she meant to find out for herself…
The teachers spoke down to him like an infant, Talia Peters didn’t know he existed, and Josiah Freek was just as much of a creep as ever. Oh yeah; and “The Freek” was one who had won Talia’s heart. It was just another day in the life of one, Aden Bannar. He swiped his key card into the lock of his family’s Gainesville compound and an electronic camera lowered down to record a retinal scan.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Aden Bannar.” A distant, prerecorded voice that the young man never wanted to hear again chirped as the locks in the door turned over obediently. “You had a good day?”
It didn’t care about an answer; it was a computer who had done its job from the moment that it had positively identified Aden and bothered to unlock the doors to let him into the house. As for that synthesized voice…if the father wanted so badly to forget his son’s birth mother, he could have at least switched out the audio file. Maybe exchange the audio disc for…
Aden entered the living room first and his eyes fell on a photo of someone who could have been his twin, albeit the fact that the distant smile was female. That had been another difference; Aden carried a goofy, mischievous grin that could have been confused for Turbo’s. Julie, from what he could remember, even smiled like their father.
“Hey, sis.” Aden greeted the photo that wasn’t about to answer him. He was kind of spacy like that sometimes. Maybe that was the trait that he and his father shared in common.
Suddenly, something warm and fuzzy brushed up against the teen’s leg. Nevertheless, he ignored the tiny kitten for a moment. He wasn’t done talking yet.
“It was another red-letter day for your brother here.” Aden continued. “Teachers don’t think I know what I’m doing, dad thinks the same way of me, and I’m lucky if Tal’ even knows I exist when she doesn’t need a cheap laugh. I mean, the Freek notices me well enough when he needs to throw an insult or a punch, but the girl is his. I don’t have a woman to…”
“Brrt.” A high-pitched protest that Aden had known would be coming interjected.
Finally, Aden turned just enough to face the white and gray kitten and scooped her up like she had wanted from the moment that she knew her master was home.
“Sorry, Kimber.” He said, stroking the kit as he held her. “No human woman to…”
Kimber didn’t care about the rest of the words and she was set to prove it. She nuzzled her face into her master’s neck; and therefore, had a good glimpse over his shoulder. Suddenly, the kitten changed her tune and let out a frightened yowl before leaping from her caretaker’s arms and ending up with her head behind a pillow. Aden recognized the reaction and didn’t even have to turn around. This was no threat that Kimber had just seen. Nevertheless, the boy felt embarrassed by his earlier words once more.
“Blink! I…oh no.” Aden groaned, turning to face the arriving audience in the form of the neutral-faced Blink and the smirking “Turbo” Rogers. “I mean…sorry.”
“No human woman to turn to.” Blink repeated the boy’s words with a slight twinkle of mirth in her eyes. “No worries. I believe that I understand where you are coming from and that was not meant as an insult to me.”
With that, the young girl with the strange power of teleportation turned to face the couch where a tiny white face had emerged from behind a pillow.
“Hi, Kimber.” Blink softly greeted the small pet from across the room. “Good kitty.”
“Hsss!” Kimber answered, burying her face once more until the direct threat was gone.
Aden covered his mouth if only to conceal the quiet mirth lining his face. Turbo had never been one to keep his humor in a given situation around the compound to himself.
“Some friendships are gonna be a while before they can build, won’t they, Blink?” he chuckled the words, patting the girl on the back.
Blink nodded in understanding and stepped clear of the room once more. Once the girl was gone, Kimber was out from behind the pillow again, alive in the conversation once more, and rubbing up against Turbo’s leg in greeting. The pair of men were free to laugh at the situation as the aging bodyguard and constant companion scooped up the cat.
“So, how was your day at school, Mr. Aden Bannar?” Turbo asked with a grin.
Aden took in the computer’s exact question, asked by a live human and in a Southern accent. He couldn’t help actually laughing out the next words.
“The pits!” he actually giggled before he found his voice again and restored the seriousness of the conversation. “Teachers still doubted that I was actually Doctor Royce Bannar’s son or Julie’s brother; the type of stuff that I hear from my father at home basically. Talia doesn’t know that I exist; unless she needs a good laugh. Freek is still…well, a freak. The constant insults are really getting to me and he knows it. Basically, the same old stuff.”
Turbo’s almost permanent smile actually collapsed into an understanding frown as he scratched his chin in search of an answer. With that, the older man set the kitten down and shooed her away with his foot.
“Kid, you’re slightly young for my course on the ladies; maybe in your mid-twenties, I can tell you what I know.” Turbo quipped. “…or better yet, leave that one to your dad. He’s a smart man. Approach him with a problem. He just might be flattered enough to bite, you know?”
“Talk to the good doctor about not only Talia but about how smart I actually am and how I feel when I get the wrong message?” Aden asked, thoughtfully. “It’s worth a shot.”
This time, Turbo’s lips were drawn into a neutral thin line.
“Son, no one questioned that you’re a bright kid. Your father applauds your inventions; you and I both know this because he’s said that to you.” Turbo replied. “As for this bully, Freek; well, that I can help you out with.”
With that, Turbo balled up his fists and waited on Aden to take the bait. The sixteen-year-old kid smirked in reply.
“I think you’ve taught me plenty about fisticuffs.” He bragged.
“Oh, yeah; then why the bully trouble?” Turbo teased back, unclenching his fists into palms and offering a playful shove that Aden successfully stood his ground against.
“Why do you think that the local bully only slings words at me?” Aden retorted with a wink.
“Fair point.” Turbo answered, dropping his hands back to his sides without breaking eye contact with his charge. “Seriously though; drop some of this other stuff on your pa’s plate. Give him the benefit of seeking advice. You never know what it could do for both of you, right?”
With that, Turbo walked out of the living room and left Aden there. The boy turned back in the direction of the last photo taken of his sister a little over three years before. Kimber sat on the vanity in the way of the picture and thrashed her tail about upon being caught sitting on the piece of furniture and possibly disturbing the framed portrait. Aden tittered to himself over the cat’s expression of rebellion and scooped her up.
“Kimber,” he lightly chided her, “you know you shouldn’t be up there. What if father had caught you there instead of me?”
Kimber gazed into her master’s face with soulful eyes, shrugged her shoulders defiantly, and nuzzled him under the chin as evidence to keep him in her power. The ploy worked as it so often did and Aden carried the cat with him off to his room where he could get started on his homework.
The scientists and generals sitting in on Dr. Bannar’s exhibition had really done their homework. They knew of the doctor’s accolades and had even studied up on his new project before partaking in the video demonstration. He was impressed with their attention to the details of his work. The audience surrounding the table could only watch in awe as the video footage showed the giant beam generator firing its particle beam at Dr. Bannar. Upon impact, Bannar vanished for but a moment, at which point the crowd gasped despite the evidence that Dr. Bannar was standing right in front of them unharmed. Then, in the video footage, the doctor promptly reappeared in a different location in the room.
The video demonstration showed a success and the crowd of onlookers in the forms of scientists and generals rose up to applaud the results of the holographic video demonstration. Only one scientist seemed unimpressed and crossed his long skinny arms in front of his chest, complete with a slack-jawed frown. Doctor Bannar had taken particular notice of this one when he had walked into the secure room before. He knew most of his colleagues by now. This one, however, he had never met. He had even gone out of his way to introduce himself personally before the presentation began. However, the other scientist had seemed distant and cold, borderline on mechanical, from that moment forward.
“An impressive film display, Doctor.” The sole less-than-impressed onlooker blurted out over the sound of the applause. “You, of course, have a reason to have not brought the real thing?”
The room became awkwardly silent as the standing ovation cancelled itself out and the onlookers settled back into their seats. In the newly silent room, Doctor Bannar cleared his throat uncomfortably.
“Yes, of course, Doctor…” Bannar began, adjusting his neck tie.
“…Cogsworth.” The visiting scientist filled in.
“Cogsworth.” Bannar repeated, rubbing his chin as he racked his brain to remember any such colleague. “Of course; a fair question. The Particle Accelerator is still in its experimental phase and to bring it here for a proper demonstration before I am certain of what would happen could prove disastrous, you understand.”
Doctor Cogsworth nodded and even smiled sweetly at the doctor.
“Oh yes; of course I understand.” Doctor Cogsworth replied; then, he glanced around the table at their colleagues and said in a loud voice: “He’s demonstrating an unfinished product for us.”
Murmurs rose up from around the table as all eyes fell on Doctor Bannar. Bannar could only blush in shame that he had ever agreed to that demonstration that day. He should have waited until such a time that his weapon had a proven track record.
“Really, Royce!” Doctor Benjamin Winston, Doctor Bannar’s first colleague and oldest professional friend, scolded the visiting inventor.
“I do apologize, Dr. Winston; everyone.” Dr. Bannar replied. “Given a couple more weeks, I could run the full gamut of testing and ensure that the Particle Accelerator is in full working order with no unforeseen side effects.”
“I think we’ve heard enough for today.” General Matthias Whitmore declared, rising up from his seat and leading the crowd in doing the same. “Gentlemen, ladies, we saw an interesting video package of the prospects of this new device. Doctor Bannar, we’ll reconvene in sixteen days; and we expect to see the true device.”
If Doctor Royce Bannar were a vindictive man, he would have known right who to aim the lens of the Particle Accelerator Cannon at first. Instead, he was merely relieved to have another chance forthcoming to display his new weapon. He nodded at the room in grateful understanding.
With that, the doctors and generals headed for the door. Doctor Bannar, in turn, picked up his holoviewer and headed for the door in his hidden shame. Doctor Cogsworth watched intently as the doctor left and finally rose out of his seat on unnaturally long legs to follow.
Bannar was loading the holoview device into the trunk of his silver Rolls Royce Ghost by the time that Doctor Cogsworth reached the parking lot. He had known that Turbo had gone back to the compound with Blink to meet Aden as he got home from school. That gave the doctor the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of his own vehicle. After an abysmal demonstration, he needed the R&R of focusing his mind on the task of driving the luxury car.
“Doctor Bannar.” The voice that Royce Bannar never wanted to hear again called across the lot.
Doctor Bannar adjusted himself to glance up once more and Doctor Cogsworth approached him. The sabotaging scientist’s legs were unnaturally long, his arms were the same, and his face had a rectangular, slack-jawed appearance to it. Albeit that at least this man’s face and hands were flesh-toned, Doctor Bannar suddenly realized why Doctor Cogsworth had looked so familiar before.
“You!” he blurted. “You look like that devil, Mario Nette; the twisted doll maker who I put in prison!”
Cogsworth’s lips twisted into a sick, close-mouthed grin and his eyes literally lit up at Doctor Bannar’s last words to him.
“The good Doctor Nette sends his kindest regards to his old friend, Royce.” Cogsworth declared as eye beams suddenly came from his eyes.
Before Doctor Bannar could duck or shout for help, the beams struck him. He then vanished without a trace of harm. Cogsworth nodded at his handiwork and opened the trunk of the car once more to remove the holoview projector, still loaded with one particular data disc. Nodding in satisfaction, Cogsworth turned his beams on the tiny device and caused it to vanish as well. Then, with a shrug that caused his arms to flap like rubber, Doctor Cogsworth went on his way on foot, even whistling a little tune to himself as he walked…
Dinner had been held off to wait for Royce Bannar’s return for long enough. Finally, Turbo quick prepared something and seated Aden, Blink, and himself around the table.
“I reckon that your dad is a bit tied up and couldn’t reach a phone.” Turbo opined, taking his seat.
“That doesn’t sound like him.” Aden murmured, reflectively.
“Sounds more like you.” Blink teased.
Kimber seemed to realize where she was needed and bunted her master’s leg affectionately to ease his worries. He shooed the startled cat away instead.
“Yep; yer paw will be along shortly, kid.” Turbo insisted. “In the meantime, what say that we three get started on…”
A knock at the door stopped Turbo’s speech dead in its tracks. All three people each exchanged a look. Doctor Royce Bannar felt the need to knock on his own door now…?
A second insistent knock sprang matters into action.
“A caller at the door!” Blink announced, rising from her seat. “Excuse me, gents; I’ll…”
Turbo took his napkin from his lap, replaced it on the table, and rose from his own chair with authority.
“…Excuse me, Blinky.” He answered. “I’ll get the door; you can settle in and start your supper. Save the shock-n-awe of your little appearing act for the next visitor.”
Blink considered Turbo’s advice for a moment and blushed red in the face before nodding in agreement and sitting back down. With that, Turbo headed for the door. Meanwhile, under the table, Kimber glanced around. Aden had shooed her affection away and Turbo was heading for the door to the compound. The kitten took one look across the table at Blink, hissed, and scooted out from under the table and into another room. Aden and Blink could only look at one another and share a giggle.
“You can’t win ‘em all, can you, Blink?” Aden teased.
Blink opened her mouth to make a clever retort back to the boy. However, Turbo’s voice interrupted matters once more as he peeked into the dining area. The normally aloof bodyguard had a face that had turned as white as a sheet.
“Excuse me, you two,” he declared, “y’all had better come see this for yourselves. It’s just…well, c’mon already.”
Aden and Blink glanced at one another in silent shock once more and slid their chairs back fast enough that Aden had toppled his into the wall before heading for the door. Seeing her human running for the door in such a fashion was enough to pique Kimber’s curiosity and she emerged from beneath the couch to chase, even if it did mean following Blink on her way to investigating.
As the youths and cat reached the corner by the door, they saw a rail-thin man in a doctor’s coat. His hands were at least flesh colored but that didn’t change the fact that his digits looked bonier than they should have. Furthermore, his slack-jawed face was pasty-white in complexion as opposed to the natural color of the rest of his body. Turbo had initially thought that he had recognized the visitor but…no; it couldn’t have been possible. He went with another reservation instead.
“I thought that I knew all of yer dad’s colleagues.” Turbo quipped to Aden. “Anyhoo, this guy says to know a little something or other about why the doc’s late. I didn’t catch your name a second ago, chief…”
The visitor’s body suddenly bolted upright to attention and he glanced around from face-to-face.
“Doctor Cog-Cog-Cog-Cogsworth.” He chirped in unnaturally rushed speech. “I bare-beer-come bearing knew-now-news about…”
Without warning, Blink vanished. Kimber saw the sudden disappearance and dove around the corner in retreat. Doctor Cogsworth could have only seen the same and didn’t react all that much differently than he already had been. Turbo and Aden took in the doctor’s odd speech and shared a glance.
Then, all of a sudden, Blink had reappeared behind the man, took him by a shoulder, and vanished once more before Turbo or Aden could stop her. The visitor was now a victim of teleportation and Turbo’s only option was to upbraid the girl for the offense now that the initial deed couldn’t be stopped.
A few seconds later, Blink reappeared in the foyer. Doctor Cogsworth reappeared in midair, several feet above the compound. From his place in midair, the visiting doctor suddenly exploded. Singed spare gears, nuts, and bolts rained down on the ground outside of the building. Nonetheless, the compound and its occupants were safe from the resulting destruction.
“…About my using teleportation on our guest a moment ago.” Blink declared.
Turbo glanced back over his shoulder at the youth.
“Nice going; thanks.” He answered, approaching the mess outside and absently picking up the singed remains of Cogsworth’s right half face; the only remaining piece of his complexion.
“Wow; I knew that these scientific types went to pieces in situations where they were expected to be extroverts but…” Aden began.
“Not now, Aden.” Turbo actually cut off a clever pun. “Blink, how’d you know that that thing was a robot; much less a time bomb?”
“His malfunctioning speech pattern sort of gave me a hunch.” Blink answered with a shrug as she picked up a couple more pieces of scrap metal.
“Who sent that, anyway?” Aden asked. “Do you suppose that they might know what happened to my father; or my…?”
Aden couldn’t even get the last of the question out. Turbo glanced down and into the remaining half face of the machine before he nodded.
“I reckon that I know exactly where this came from and I’d bet big money that he knows exactly what’s holding the doc up.” Turbo answered. “As for Julie’s whereabouts…at this point, who knows, kid? It’s been three years to the day that she went missing and maybe there’s a connection to that built in here. Anyway, what does the name Mario Nette mean to you, Aden?”
Upon hearing the name, Blink’s eyes sparked with knowledge.
“Marionettes; they are forms of dolls, controlled by…” she began.
“No…well, yeah; that’s what a marionette is.” Aden answered. “Not marionette; Mario Nette, Doctor Mario Nette, the doll maker. Turbo, you don’t suppose…?”
“…That digitized doll at our door was practically his calling card, Aden.” Turbo interjected. “Besides, he has an old score to settle up with your paw. He was the one who put Dr. Nette in prison; right where he is supposed to still be staying.”
“Then he’d be the first person to ask about my father’s delay.” Aden added, rushing for the house to get his backpack.
“Hold your horses, Aden.” Turbo called after him.
Finally, Aden turned around and glanced back at where Turbo and Blink were still standing.
“I’m talking about a man who can be potentially dangerous if he puts his mind to it.” Turbo added. “You and Blink are staying here with Kimber. Don’t you worry; Nette must be staying locally to have sent one of his goons to the demonstration, then send it out here. I know right where his local hide-out is too.”
Then, without another word on the issue, Turbo donned a motorcycle helmet and mounted his nearby cycle. With that, the aging bodyguard sped off. Aden simply watched the cycle go and turned to head back into the complex. Upon absently closing the door behind himself before proceeding, he suddenly had to pause as Blink appeared in front of him in an aura of blue light with a grin on her face. Aden still didn’t know how she did that and he jumped at the sudden sight.
“Sorry, Blink.” Aden murmured, looking back at the door that he had obviously closed in her face. “I didn’t mean to…”
Blink held up a hand and shook her head at the lack of need for an apology.
“You’re worried about your dad, right?” she asked. “You want to make sure that he goes free?”
“If he was captured.” Aden insisted. “Besides, you heard Turbo and he’s the one who’s best prepared to pull off a rescue mission if necessary.”
“But you deserve to be part of this if your father was captured.” Blink maintained. “Don’t worry about getting there; it’s not like one of us teleports or anything. Besides, for some reason, I kind of know where Dr. Nette might be staying locally.”
Aden took pause for a moment and glanced over at his ally.
“You would get us there faster than any motor vehicle (if you’re right about this), this is for my father, and since when do teenagers listen anyway?” Aden finally relented. “Do your thing, Blink. Kimber, you’re on guard duty.”
Blink nodded with a silent grin and a glint in her eyes. With that, she draped her arms around Aden and the pair vanished before the stunned kitten’s eyes. There was nothing left for her to do except to first sniff at the spot where Aden had been and then to go wait patiently by the door in case he was coming right back…
A tiny red blip flashed and flickered on Doctor Mario Nette’s monitor. Charlie saw it first from where he stood by the prisoner, holding a gun in one hand. Nevertheless, his master would want to know about the monitor as well.
“Hey.” Charlie honked into a nearby radio.
Instantly, shelves full of dolls and toys mechanically slid aside and Mario Nette entered the room to settle into his chair. Charlie shot a warning look at the vines restraining Doctor Royce Bannar and scampered across the room to settle into his master’s lap as would a ventriloquist dummy. Nette scratched the mechanical doll’s head with a skeletal hand and used his alternate hand to tune the monitor to the Gainesville compound while turning on the large screen as well.
“I want you to see this, Doctor.” Nette declared over his shoulder. “My little friend out there has found your family. This is what is about to be left of your compound and your family.”
Bannar struggled against the vines. However, they strangely held taut as if composed of steel. Finally, the good doctor gave up his struggles and shot a warning glare at his captors.
“This will never work, Mario!” Bannar boomed. “Your mechanical mannequins have never fooled anyone!”
Here both Nette and Charlie turned away from the monitor to face their captive. Then, they both burst out laughing at the humiliated doctor’s expense.
“Then how were you captured so easily, my good doctor?” Nette demanded while Charlie scrambled to his feet and watched the monitor over the back of the evil machinist’s seat. “You disappoint me. I had thought that as a scientist, you were my superior. Let’s hope that you can come close to being my equal as an inventor.”
Here, Nette reached into his pocket and produced the Holoview device that he had managed to lift off of his prisoner.
“A pity that you didn’t bring a live model of your device to the evening’s exhibition.” Nette growled. “But no matter. Even if I must reproduce your creation, it will work for my plans just the same.”
“What do you want with me, Nette?” Doctor Bannar demanded, savagely.
Nette smirked and chuckled.
“Imagine what would become of a world where I can quietly substitute world leaders and generals for my puppets simply by teleporting the originals here and their alternates to where they can do the most damage; utilizing your research to do so.” Nette sneered. “Should I thank you?”
Suddenly, Charlie burst out laughing at something he had seen on the screen. Nette turned his head and cast a glance of question at the mechanical dummy as he continued watching the footage.
“Ex-plo-sion!” Charlie honked.
Even Bannar had a small hint of a smile on his face from his vantage point on seeing the monitor. Nette took in the grinning face of his hostage and wheeled his chair around so suddenly as to nearly dump Charlie out of his lap and to the floor. As the dummy hung on with long elastic arms, Nette rewound the footage to just before the explosion. He saw Blink, his Blink, grab the malfunctioning bomb and vanish with it just in time. He saw the footage where the failed bomb rematerialized harmlessly in midair and exploded as previously planned.
Nette saw the footage of his failure and slammed a hand down on the desk in frustration. Meanwhile, Charlie started giggling all over again. The doll silenced himself almost immediately as Nette glared at him; however, he had to put his hand over his mouth to cover up the smirk.
“Go show these schematics to my workers; then supervise the production of the device!” Dr. Nette snapped. “I will watch over this prisoner personally.”
Charlie bounded down from his master’s lap and ran from the room on elongated, rubber legs. However, he had to keep his face covered as he carried the Holoview in his spare hand and he giggled again as he left the room. Meanwhile, Doctor Bannar watched the doll-sized android leave the room.
“No respect for your handiwork; not even from your own mechanical marvels, Doctor?” Doctor Bannar asked, innocently.
For the briefest moment, Dr. Nette was ready to show his frustration. Nevertheless, a sinister smile played back to his lips instead and he folded his fingers over one another.
“You like my pleasant little plants, Royce?” he asked. “They sure seem to enjoy your company.”
Bannar struggled once more and the vines that bound him hung fast. The very sight of the struggle was enough amusement to rekindle the doll maker’s good humor.
“You don’t recognize them?” Nette continued. “A rather gorgeous benefactor brought them here, just for the occasion that you should come to visit me. You’ll excuse me if I get my video camera to record your little plight; I had promised this footage to Ivy.”
A look of shock crossed Bannar’s face and, for a moment, he stopped struggling.
“Ivy; Doctor Jessica Ivory.” Bannar boomed. “These plants were my experiments!”
“How nice of you to remember; they certainly seem to remember you.” Nette applauded. With that, he recorded the footage of the doctor’s continued struggles for a moment or two longer. Then, with a clap of Nette’s hands, the plants suddenly retracted; and his restraints were replaced by what resembled a puppet control with powerful cables in the shapes of strings.
“You’ll be here for a nice long while, Doctor.” Nette persisted as Charlie reentered the room. “I’ll make sure that Charlie here feeds and waters you as I see fit. Why, I’ll even provide the entertainment for you.”
Suddenly, the monitor clicked over to reveal Doctor Nette’s workshop. There, plastic-faced scientists were hard at work, watching the Holoview demonstration of the Particle Accelerator beam projector and preparing the device as well.
“An empty shell of a weapon will only do so much without the teleportation technology, Mario.” Doctor Bannar declared.
A steady grin found Dr. Nette’s pasty white face in reply and a twinkle found his eye.
“I am way ahead of you in that department too, Doctor.” Nette insisted. “You didn’t know?”
Doctor Bannar furled his brows as he tried to see through Dr. Nette’s cryptic boast. Nevertheless, he came up with nothing. When the doctor couldn’t answer right away, Nette gave an elaborate shrug and swiveled his chair to face a nearby cart.
“No matter; that is neither here nor there.” Nette declared, yanking a sheet off of the moving cart. There stood a perfect double for Doctor Royce Bannar. Charlie saw the mock-up and clapped in appreciation. Bannar saw the same and saw red.
“I think that it’s time for the good doctor to return home to the safety of his compound and show his family and friends that he is safe and sound.” Nette declared, reaching to the lifeless mechanical man’s belt and flipping a hidden switch.
“You’re a madman, Mario!” Doctor Bannar boomed as the robot took its first step off of the platform and to the floor. “Your empty, poorly-designed robots would never deceive my family!”
The twinkling glint returned to Dr. Nette’s eye and he turned from his robot to face the prisoner once more. In turn, Charlie and the mechanical Dr. Bannar crossed their arms in front of their chests and smirk in satisfaction.
“Is it not you yourself who constantly calls your son, your remaining child, such a fool?” Nette demanded. “I think I already have a leg up on him. Charlie, the boy would very much like to see his father safe and sound again; and he won’t even question the missing automobile.”
Charlie nodded, craned his neck to face the robot and fired a transparent eye-beam. The doctor’s mechanical replacement then vanished from the room in an aura of blue light.
At the sound of Nette’s mocking his relationship with his son, and taunting him over the disappearance of his daughter, Bannar had struggled once more in rage. Then he watched the robot suddenly vanish and could only gape in bewilderment at the sudden disappearance.
“I told you that I already knew of teleportation technology.” Nette boasted, settling back into his seat and crossing one unnaturally long leg over the other. “Charlie, our prisoner here bores me. Do something about that, would you?”
Charlie giggled at the command, turned to face Dr. Bannar, and fired another pair of eye beams. Suddenly, flesh turned to wood and the surprised doctor hung from puppet strings as a wooden doll. The villains watched the captive become an empty, wooden frame of his former self and cackled at Nette’s cleverness. The mechanized companion then seated himself once more in his master’s lap like a ventriloquist dummy and allowed Dr. Nette to wheel his chair back around and face the monitor again as the fake Dr. Bannar appeared a few steps outside of the compound if only to avoid appearing directly on the doorstep…
Turbo’s motorcycle zoomed up to an old abandoned toy factory and its rider cut the engine.
“A toy factory!” Turbo huffed. “What a place to find a twisted tinkerer like Doctor Mario Nette! Time to do a little investigating.”
Turbo dismounted the cycle, marched up to the door of the building, drew back his foot, and kicked. The door compliantly splintered inward to reveal the hall.
“Hang on a few moments longer with present company, Royce.” Turbo mumbled. “I’m comin…”
In a sudden flash of blue, Aden and Blink suddenly appeared on the roof of a building. The pair was still stuck in an awkward embrace as that was how Blink successfully took others with her. Aden took a moment to glance around and take in the sunset as he and the woman were still tangled up with one another.
“The only way to travel, right?” Aden quipped at the young blue haired woman.
Blink promptly dropped her arms back to her sides and away from the startled young man as she backed away a few steps.
“Sorry.” She murmured. “That is the only way that I can carry others with me.”
“No, that’s fine; I was joking anyway.” Aden answered, awkwardly. “So…uh, you’re sure that this is where they’d be keeping my dad?”
“If Turbo’s right that Dr. Nette’s mixed up in this somehow,” Blink insisted, “this would be at least the first local place to start looking. He had to have sent that robot by a local remote signal, so we start searching here.”
Aden cast a curious glance at the woman. He appreciated the transportation; but a question bothered him.
“How do you just happen to know?” he blurted out the question.
Blink considered the question and glanced back over at the boy in sincere confusion.
“To be honest, I don’t know where these premeditated hunches come from.” She declared. “But you have to admit, I’m rarely ever wrong about these things, right?”
Aden grinned in response and gave a shrug. With that, he leaned over the side of the building and saw the old sign.
“An old toy production plant.” He reported. “Yeah, I couldn’t do one better for myself if we’re looking for Nette.”
Just then, he saw Turbo’s parked motorcycle and the splintered door.
“Stay close.” He instructed Blink. “Turbo’s already here and in the building. Something tells me that he won’t be too tickled to see us here even if I am only here to help my own father out.”
“Understood.” Blink answered, hopping up onto Aden’s back and wrapping her legs around his waist. With that, the pair vanished upon her contact with him once more as they headed into the factory…
Dr. Nette watched as his mechanical substitute for Doctor Bannar approached the door to the compound. A steady grin lined the wicked machinist’s face. Charlie watched the same footage and giggled in response to what he saw. Nette patted his head in response and the two continued to watch for what happened next…
Suddenly, a nearby cuckoo clock started blaring in Nette’s ear. Startled, both he and Charlie craned their necks. First of all, the clock was in between hours and secondly, it was only programmed to act like that when…
Charlie picked up the nearby remote and quick changed channels to reveal what was happening in the factory rather than several miles away at the Bannars’ secret Gainesville compound. The image on the screen split in two to reveal Turbo entering the factory with a gun drawn. On the second screen, Blink and Aden were reappearing on a metal catwalk overlooking the scene. Aden’s foot nearly slipped out from under him but he caught himself in time. Nette realized two things at once: his latest robot creation was at the Bannar compound and no one but a stupid cat was home to be fooled by it. Charlie realized the same and started giggling again.
“Maybe the good doctor’s disappearing act went too well!” the dummy clucked.
Nette shot a stern glare at his mechanical accomplice.
“Recall the robot, you electromechanical idiot.” Nette instructed. “And stop the ridiculous chuckling at my expense!”
Charlie once again put his hand over his mouth to conceal a silent smirk. Nevertheless, he obeyed, hopped down from his master’s lap, and fired his teleportation rays at the center of the room again. Suddenly, the mechanical Royce Bannar reappeared in the hideout and started glancing around at his surroundings. Nette only took additional pleasure from the fact that the real Doctor Bannar was reduced to a wooden dummy who couldn’t take unexpected pleasure from the evil genius’s current predicament.
“What is this place?” the replacement Bannar asked in the real Doctor Bannar’s voice. “Why am I here?...Oh; master.”
Nette suddenly hated that he had given his creation the real doctor’s voice. What had been a great idea at first was now an annoyance. Nevertheless, he could use the extra deception to his advantage once more and crossed his hands behind his head.
“The doctor’s family came here without my previous knowledge.” Nette announced. “Go convince them that you’re safe.”
“At once, master.” Dr. Bannar’s double replied, complete with a bow to the man who had created him. With that, the robot left the room for the hallway. No sooner was the door closed again than Charlie started up the obnoxious giggling again.
“The doc-t-t-t-tor bows quite for-mal-ly.” He chirped. “He must have just lear-ned that prac-tice, hm?”
“The robot only does that to me, stupid.” Nette growled in reply. “I learned from certain other projects of mine that respect for me as the maker had to be programmed in.”
Charlie nodded in silent understanding and walked over into the corner to stand guard by the wooden dummy form of the real Dr. Bannar. Satisfied with the transition, Nette wheeled back around and faced the monitors again as Turbo patrolled the halls and Aden and Blink slunk around on the upper beams to avoid being caught where they shouldn’t have been…
Turbo hadn’t seen any guards yet. He was almost disappointed in Nette’s lax security measures. He’d been a marine before he was a government agent and, finally, a bodyguard. Therefore, Rex “Turbo” Rogers still enjoyed a good scrap with his fists; or, better yet, with the Magnum that he still carried with him.
Suddenly, a nearby wall slid aside. Turbo heard the sliding wall and pivoted to face the oncoming assailant. Finally, he had some action!
“Rex!” a familiar voice suddenly declared.
Turbo knew that tone. Albeit the fact that the man in question never used Turbo’s first name (this would be the first time that it was confirmed that the speaker even knew his first name), Turbo still knew the voice and lowered his weapon, squinting his eyes into the revealed corridor.
“Doc?” he asked, approaching the effigy with caution but lowering his pistol back to its holster just the same.
“Of course, Turbo.” Doctor Bannar replied as casually as though he hadn’t just used Turbo’s first name a moment before. “I escaped Dr. Mario Nette’s particular brand of hospitality not a moment before. I cannot tell you how many guards I punched through to make it this far.”
“And none the worse for wear, I see.” Turbo replied. “By the way, you; threw some punches?”
“Of course!” Dr. Bannar snapped. “You think that I didn’t learn a thing or two from you? Come on; we’re wasting time!”
Turbo glanced cock-eyed at the doctor for a moment longer and finally nodded.
“At least that explains the lax security out in the hall.” He mumbled, reaching for his flip phone and dialing. “We’ll split this scene in a hot second, Royce. I happen to know of a sixteen year old kid at home who’d be glad to know that you’re safe sooner rather than later, though.”
Before Turbo could raise the phone, however, Doctor Bannar suddenly put his hand in between the communication device and his guardian’s face.
“Don’t trouble yourself, Turbo.” Doctor Bannar insisted. “My son is already here.”
Turbo jolted at the sudden revelation. At that moment, a blue aura appeared and materialized in the forms of Aden Bannar and Blink.
“Oh,” Aden declared as Blink hopped down from his back, “hey, pop.”
“Hi, Mr. Rogers.” Blink added, sweetly.
Turbo glared with some annoyance at both kids. Meanwhile, Doctor Bannar remained surprisingly impartial to their arrival against their guardian’s specific orders.
“Now would be a good time to stick with ‘Turbo,’ Blink.” Turbo growled in particular annoyance of the images that the name “Mr. Rogers” brought up. “And I thought that I remembered telling both of you to STAY AT THE COMPOUND!”
Aden hung his head while Blink gazed forward.
“We know, Turbo; we’re sorry.” Aden mumbled. “But…well, it was my father in potential danger while in Dr. Nette’s custody over here.”
Turbo raised a hand for silence and turned to face Doctor Bannar once more.
“Hey, Royce, you want to get a word in on this?” Turbo asked. “I mean, this is your son who just came out here and…”
“…he is safe.” Doctor Bannar boomed. “I am safe. Let us get out of here.”
Blink and Aden shared a surprised glance with one another at the father’s sudden change of heart.
“We’re for that!” both kids suddenly blurted in unison, just before vanishing in a flash of blue before the doctor could come back to his senses.
Turbo watched the disappearance take place and glanced back at the doctor.
“That’d be our cue to skidoo too.” He declared. “Those kids’ll be hearing more about this at the hacienda later.”
“Of course.” Dr. Bannar concurred. “Let us, as you say, make tracks.”
Now the doctor was talking like Turbo; and even acknowledging the change? Something was clearly wrong. His stay with Dr. Nette had been more detrimental than he had thought. Turbo reached for the doctor to usher him toward the broken down door and freedom.
Then, all of a sudden, Blink and Aden rematerialized in a flash of blue. Then, just as suddenly, the youths vanished once again and took Turbo and Dr. Bannar with them.
The group rematerialized in Dr. Nette’s control laboratory. Nette sat in his chair facing the center of the room and with his back to the monitors as if anticipating their arrival. Charlie still guarded what appeared to be a wooden dummy in the corner of the room. Turbo, Blink, and Aden reappeared in the center of the room to stare down the diabolical doctor. Meanwhile, Dr. Royce Bannar had reappeared at Dr. Nette’s side, a blank, distant look on his face.
“What do you command of me now, master?” he asked, turning to face Nette.
Turbo and Aden’s mouths hung open at the sudden realization. Blink simply nodded in understanding of what had just developed.
“You idiot!” Dr. Nette hissed savagely at the machine. With that, he turned back to face the others.
“What welcome guests we have here!” he chuckled. “And just in time to witness my triumph too!”
“What triumph is that; another of your mechanical men?” Turbo demanded, indicating the ersatz Dr. Bannar. “That thing’s a flop, Mario! I had a few of my suspicions from the start.”
“Not my creation here, you fool hick!” Nette answered with a dismissive flip of his hand before retuning the monitors once more to reveal his lab area. “This is my crowning achievement.”
The monitors revealed Dr. Nette’s tireless mechanical agents scurrying about the laboratory and putting together a beam device that Turbo recognized all too well from Dr. Bannar’s past several months of work, research, and development.
“A Particle Beam Accelerator!” Aden blurted upon spying the weapon.
“What’s wrong, Nette; too lazy to do your own homework?” Turbo quipped.
Nette chuckled sarcastically in Turbo’s face. Meanwhile, Charlie was giggling at the quip until he was rolling in the aisles.
“I simply had other plans for Royce Bannar’s life’s work.” Nette replied. “Imagine; the ability to not only quietly remove world leaders, military generals, and leading scientists from their positions of power; but to replace them in short order with my copies before anyone is the wiser! Hence will be the greatest achievement for Mario Nette, the Maker of Men!”
“And, of course, this creep already knows all about teleportation!” Aden blurted.
“Bra-voh, boy!” Dr. Nette replied. “You’ve already figured out what I had to spoon feed to your father over there!”
With that, Dr. Nette gestured right at the corner where the wooden effigy of the doctor hung from puppet control strings. It was all that Aden needed to know and he lunged at the mechanical puppet guarding the wooden marionette.
As Aden seized the startled Charlie, he jostled the control switch that activated the correct eye beams and Dr. Royce Bannar became flesh and blood once more. With that, Aden whipped the startled doll around and chucked him right at the mechanical Dr. Bannar at the precise moment that the mechanical dummy reactivated the proper rays to turn flesh to wood. The beams fired just as Charlie and the fake doctor collided, reducing them both to wooden dolls and rendering them useless.
“Who’s to blame for spilling your little trade secret about what had happened to the doctor; Charlie?” Turbo quipped, reaching for his Magnum Revolver once more.
Across the room, Nette’s face separated into a sneer of contempt as he began reaching to his own leg holster.
“You are trying my patience, Mr. Rogers!” he warned as he produced a small tool. “I still have…”
Suddenly, another gun shot was heard and the tool was out of the stunned doctor’s hand. With that, he and Turbo both glared over into the corner.
“…You have nothing anymore, Doctor Nette.” Doctor Bannar declared, pocketing his own Glock pistol once more. “My son has seen to that.”
Nette was still stunned by the fact that the doctor had suddenly had a pistol that he had missed before. Nevertheless, he recovered from the shock and his eyes flashed contempt.
“I have more than you know, boy!” Nette bellowed, dropping his palm in a secret signal.
Instantly, the walls exploded in living vines with the strength of steel. Suddenly, however, the plants were entombed in ice and died.
“Sorry, Nette; but I did come prepared just in case my father’s Ice Ray should be needed.” Aden answered, pocketing the experimental weapon back in his backpack now that the threat of the vines was over.
“We’ll discuss your taking that weapon from my lab later.” Dr. Bannar murmured to his son; “As for you, Mario…”
“No!” Blink suddenly chirped, vanishing.
She reappeared again behind Mario Nette and vanished with him. Then, before the stunned audience, Nette reappeared just in time to suddenly fly apart into separate limbs. The last body part to hit the ground was “Nette’s” head. However, its eyes blinked colored lights and words came out of its mouth without its lips moving.
“I have my freedom; and you have nothing!” Nette chirped. “Providing that you can escape in three minutes, I’ll be seeing you again, Dr. Royce Bannar! Tata, heroes!”
Suddenly, all of Dr. Nette’s robots vanished from the scene as well. Only the replacement Particle Accelerator cannon stayed behind. All of the while, Dr. Bannar held the grinning robot head in his hands to admire its craftsmanship. Finally, Turbo tagged the doctor on a shoulder and he whirled away from the broken robot.
“We don’t have much time, Doc.” The guardian declared. “We’ll have to get Dr. Nette another time. Blink, now!”
“No; where’s the Holoview?” Bannar demanded. “Nette maybe destroying his own machine but he’s not making me lose mine!”
“Dad, I’ve already found it!” Aden answered, handing the tiny hologram viewer over as evidence. “Get us out of here, Blink!”
“Stand close.” Blink instructed, counting up heads, miles required to teleport, and how often she had already teleported in one day. “I think I can still do this…”
“Take faith, young lady.” Dr. Bannar answered.
“Hey, here’s an idea; you take faith, I’ll take my motorcycle.” Turbo declared. “One less person to port back to the hacienda in one piece.”
With that, Turbo bolted for the doors without waiting for an answer.
“We’ve little time to debate that now.” Bannar grumbled. “Blink!”
Blink draped her arms around father and son and promptly vanished from the room. The explosion that detonated the factory and destroyed the replacement weapon occurred fifteen seconds later. By that time, Turbo’s cycle was just barely out of range of the explosion and he, and everyone else, was heading home…
It was a rather slow trip while Blink determined that she could make it. Nonetheless, the trio did reappear at the compound and Dr. Bannar turned a key over in the lock in relief. No sooner did the group reenter the house then Kimber scooted out from under a hiding place and bunted Aden’s leg experimentally. Upon determining that this was her true boy, Aden picked the kitten up once more and carried her.
“You performed well today, son.” Dr. Bannar boomed, dropping a hand on Aden’s shoulder. “I was quite proud of you and I thank you for the rescue attempt. Turbo has taught you much.”
“Thanks, dad.” Aden answered. “Hey, were those vines back at Nette’s lab…?”
“…They were real and they had been my own experimental work.” Dr. Bannar interjected. “Nette had a not-so-anonymous benefactor on his side.”
“Ivy.” Aden murmured.
“That is her preferred alias these days; yes, your mother.” Doctor Bannar answered, his voice dripping with sadness.
“Do you think that there’s a connection between your capture, their alliance, and...?” Aden asked.
“…the disappearance?” a Southern accent finished the question as the doorknob turned over and Turbo walked in. “That could be.”
“We will look into every angle until my daughter and your sister is safe once more, my boy.” Dr. Bannar vowed, taking a moment to scratch the lifted Kimber behind the ears. “My only question is where Dr. Nette got the technology for teleportation? I saw his dummy friend use it and it was impressively performed. He must have studied long.”
“I don’t know where Dr. Nette could have studied to enact such technology.” Blink declared as she walked down the hall and into the living room to sit and rest for a moment. The rest of the family simply followed her and all settled in.
“I know of a guy who’s good with technology; and likes to use that knowledge for easy money and usually to work with the wrong kinds of people.” Aden announced. “He’s kind of a creep though. Some might even call him…well, a Freek.”
“Josiah Freek.” Dr. Bannar murmured. “A connection could be worth looking in to.”
“I’m sure that y’all can count on yer boy to get right on looking into any connection between Freek and evil, Royce!” Turbo chortled.
With that, Dr. Bannar turned an odd glance in Aden’s direction. The boy, in turn, shrugged his shoulders.
“He and I have some issues for sure.” Aden declared.
“Anything that I might be able to advise you on?” Dr. Bannar asked.
“Well…yeah; maybe.” Aden answered, putting Kimber back on the floor and turning back to face his father once more. “It’s good to have you back safe and sound, dad.”
With that, Turbo took Kimber and he and Blink left the living room to give Doctor and Aden Bannar some much needed time to talk…
NEXT TIME: Who is Phantasmo, the magician? What connection does he share with his daughter, Celeste? And what do either of them know of Julie Bannar’s disappearance? Plus, Aden confronts Freek over the issue of an alliance with evil; among other disputes between the two boys.