Narrator: A flash of light appeared in the sky over the luscious outback
of Australia, the Milky Way’s leading penal colony, and Class .3 Restricted
Zone. Meaning you don’t just come and go. Of the last three Timesteppers
to step there, two were executed for Violation of Galactic Law. The third
was invited to stay. Which is why, when Furtrace Fuzzbotham realized exactly
where the formerly female Jill Slotter had stepped them to, he was more than
Man-Slotter: Ok, Furtrace. We have exactly three hours to find the fur of
the blue Kangaroo to mix with the unicorn saliva, and get out of here.
Furtrace: Wait. You said ‘the.’
Man-Slotter: Yeah. Sure. And?
Furtrace: You said ‘the blue kangaroo.’ Not ‘a blue kangaroo.’
Furtrace: I don’t mean to question the all mightly power of your ginormous
brain. BUT DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY KANGAROOS ARE IN AUSTRALIA!?
Man-Slotter: Given the year, I’d say approximately 7,923,004. Give
Furtrace: And there’s only ONE blue one?
Furtrace: ARE YOU CRAZY OR SOMETHING!?
Man-Slotter: It’s inherently possible. More to the point though, I’ve
been in touch with a guy who knows a guy who knows a Kangie Sue.
Man-Slotter: No, dumbutt. It’s her name. Anyway, she’s the guardian
of the Baby Blue Kangaroo. And she resides somewhere in the Great Sandy Desert.
Furtrace: Are you kidding me? The Great Sandy Desert?
Man-Slotter: Look, that’s what it’s called! You’re wasting
Narrator: Furtrace flipped through his spell book in search of an incantation
that would locate anything blue in color, while Man Slotter scanned the desert
with the info-glasses she’d borrowed from Keane, intent on finding anything
containing Kangaroo DNA.
Kangie Sue: G’day!
Narrator: Man Slotter and Furtrace yelped in surprise at the new voice. Turning,
Jill found himself staring eye to eye with a female Western Grey Kangaroo.
Kangie Sue: I’m guessin’ you two are here about the Baby Blue
Man-Slotter: How did you know?
Kangie Sue: You’re here.
Man-Slotter: Fair enough.
Kangie Sue: I’m Kangie Sue. The wee one’s back at the den. Come
Narrator: So Man-Slotter and Furtrace set off after Kangie Sue, who had to
stop every few paces to wait for her slower followers to catch up. In no time,
they came to a second female kangaroo, sitting under a large shade tree.
Kangie Sue: I found ‘em, Kangie Eugenia. They be wantin’ to see
Narrator: At the sound of his name, a small, blue, and fascinatingly adorable
joey poked its head out of Kangie Eugenia’s pouch.
Kangie Sue: Well, here you go. Take good care of him!
Man Slotter: Wait. What? We can't take him. We only have an exit visa for
Furtrace: And I’m sure not sticking around.
Kangie Sue: But I thought-
Man Slotter: We only need three hairs from the tip of his tail.
Kangie Sue: Oh. Ok. But….
Furtrace: Something on your mind, Lady?
Kangie Sue: Well, what are we supposed to do with a blue kangaroo?
Man Slotter: Uh. Same as you’ve always done? Anyway, thanks a mil.
We have to get going. We’re already way behind schedule.
Narrator: With a final handshake, Furtrace and Man Slotter Timestepped out
of the Australian outback, and back to Furtrace’s workshop. Furtrace
expertly added the unicorn saliva and the three blue hairs from the tail of
a Baby Blue Kangaroo to a mixture of lavender, soy protein, and chocolate.
Man-Slotter: Why the chocolate?
Furtrace: You like chocolate, don’t you?
Man-Slotter: Well, yeah, but-
Furtrace: Then don’t question!
Narrator: Furtrace finished mixing the concoction, which burst into purple
flames before settling into a gelatin like blue substance. Man-Slotter eyed
it warily, but prompted by a glare from Furtrace, pinched his nose and gulped
it down. He braced himself. And nothing happened.
Furtrace: It takes a few minutes to settle in. Come on, let’s get back
to your Pack People.
Narrator: Slotter once again grabbed Furtrace’s paw and he wooshed
them through space and into the control chamber of Flashpoint.
Slotter: Woah…That was weird!
Narrator: Drallus Thornfield dropped the four ton barbell that she had been
holding above her head with her right arm while catching up on a little light
reading of the newest Flashpack comic book with her left. Luckily she was
using her anti-gravity protected barbell, the one that came with a lifetime
guarantee against injury if dropped, including the payment of all funeral
expenses should there be an accident.
Drallus: Jill! You were supposed to report back here 16 hours ago! Twelve!
Where in the three universes of Praedon have you been young lady? –man!
Wait! You’re a girl again!
Slotter: Nice to see you too, Drallus.
Drallus: Sorry, Slotter, we were just so worried about you and- oh Gods,
you brought the CAT back with you?
Furtrace: That’s cat-MAN to you, miss! But you can call me Furtrace.
(affectionate cat noise)
Drallus: Ugh. Hey, guys!
Narrator: She called, leaning on the intercom button.
Drallus: Slotter’s back! And she’s a GIRL!
Slotter: You say it like it’s going to get them here any faster.
Drallus: Look, sweetie pie, we’ve got three priorities right now: Lunch,
Von Wicked, and You.
Slotter: Von Wicked again? Man! I thought we’d gotten rid of him in
Max: And now he’s back! According to Jimmy, anyway.
Narrator: The rest of the Flashpack came crashing into the control room.
Jimmy: I still can't BELIEVE I made out with her! *gagging noises*
Slotter: YOU made out with the Empress of Alter Earth?
Jimmy: How else was I supposed to get her to show me-
Molly: You know what, Jimmy, I’m really not in the mood to hear that
part of the story again. K?
Narrator: The group stood in silence for a moment: Jill really wanting the
hear the rest of Jimmy’s story, Jimmy really wanting to relate the rest
of his story again, and everyone else trying to decide on the most tactful
way of approaching Slotter’s reinstated femaleness.
Max: So…you’re a girl again!
Slotter: Yeah! I’m enjoying it, too. Sorry Drallus.
Max: And you brought the cat back.
Furtrace: It’s CAT-MAN-! Don’t you humans LISTEN? You know, with
Slotter: Yes, I brought Furtrace back. How could I not, after- Sara! Honey!
You look dreadful!
Narrator: The Pack turned around to see Sara Keane leaning in the doorway.
Her skin was white, her entire body shook, and her eyes were drooping even
further than her normally vibrantly gravity defying hair!
Molly: Sara! I told you to STAY in bed! As in not get up!
Keane: I’ve read the dictionary too, Molly. And I missed Slotter. And
I thought that if she told you all her adventurous tale now, that she’d
forget to tell me later…
Slotter: Oh! Keane! Go back to bed. I promise I’ll give you a private
rendition of my fantastic exploits later. Ok?
Narrator: Keane shuffled back to her room and the rest of the Flashpack settled
into the control room chairs.
Slotter: So after we left you guys, we made a beeline for the Australian
outback in 5976, where-
Jimmy: What is wrong with you!? You never ever ever EVER go to Australia!
In any time period, EVER! Even I know it’s a time restricted zone!!!
Slotter: Um. Chill. We got a special dispensation from the Board of Trustees.
Jimmy: But what about the gaping Hole in The Ozone Later? You could have
been fried! Or boiled! And…and…there’s CONVICTS! What if
Molly: Jimmy Kovacs, I’m sure Slotter knew what he…er, she was
facing and took every precaution. Besides, I didn’t set up that sanitization
field around Flashpoint just because I was bored.
Max: Right. Boredom resulted in the program that tracks Professor Stellof’s
every move here.
Molly: Max, do you really want him rifling through my closet of explosive
elements? Because I don’t.
Drallus: Hey guys, something about the explanation of why Slotter left a
man and came back as a woman.
Slotter: Right. So we got the special dispensation….
Narrator: Slotter spent the next three hours telling of their time in Australia,
interrupted only twice, once to make lunch, and once to throw together a makeshift
litter box for Furtrace. Once Slotter had finished, Max had filled her in
on their plan to corner Von Wicked in order to find out who was REALLY masterminding
the events of the past six months, and everybody heading back to their normal
activities, Drallus pulled Slotter aside.
Drallus: So Jill, now that you’re, well, a woman again…does that
mean that we’re…
Slotter: I’m sorry Drallus. That was a one time thing, and you knew
it. Besides, we’ve both got our respective secret admirers, and I for
one, am interested in finding out who mine is.
Narrator: Just as Drallus was preparing to press the issue, the voice of
one Dr. Nektori Stellof came blasting over the intercom:
Stellof: Help! Flashpack! Assistance! Aid! The Wicket is coming!
Narrator: Confused, and slightly agitated at their comrade’s lack of
restraint and his probable gullibility, the Flashpack double timed it to Stellof’s
chamber. The poor man sat at his computer console, shaking, sweating, and
gibbering. Max turned on his leader voice and promptly asked the obligatory
Max: Professor Stellof, are you ok? What happened? What is a Wicket and where
is it coming to?
Narrator: With a trembling hand, Dr. Stellof hit the replay button on his
vid-mail screen. A face appeared and the Flashpack gasped.
Von Wicked: Greetings, Professor-friend of the Brat-Pack! How are you today?
Comfortable? Well fed? Living? I hope you have gotten over the loss of that
darling girl scientist with enough grief left to spend on yourself! You tell
those Brats from me: Von Wicked is coming for you ALL!
Narrator: The Flashpack stood in silence, taking in this most recent threat
to their health and well being.
Furtrace: Well, you’ve got to admit, it’s getting better.
Narrator: The group turned to look at the catman, and saw Keane, once again
clinging to the doorframe, clutch her head and slump to the ground.
Furtrace: Yep. Getting better all the time.
Max: (angry) Oh, go chase your tail, Fleabrain!
Furtrace: What? It’s true! At least this time you know who you’re
up against, even if you don’t know what you’re up against.
Narrator: With his tail held at an imperial angle, Furtrace Fuzzbotham gave
a disgruntled mew, and vanished from the room.
Slotter: Did you really have to do that Max? Sue, he was annoying, but he
was a really big help with that potion! He can be really useful in a pinch!
Molly: Guys! Now is not the time! Unless you want to bury someone else, of
Narrator: The Flashpack burst into action. Drallus and Slotter carried Keane
to the infirmary, while Molly ran ahead to set up the appropriate diagnostic
and lifesaving equipment. Max made a few calls to the medical community, and
finally, after fighting with three secretaries and one very disgruntled witch
doctor, gave out Molly’s ID number, just to get some results. Those
results being that Obediah Quentin Health, MD PhD, the best doctor of Super
Medicine out there, on his way to Flashpoint. Jimmy, meanwhile, had gone to
the Pack’s recently acquired catship, Marvin III, to prepare it for
takeoff. Twenty minutes later, the Flashpack left Keane in the capable hands
of Dr. Health, and were rocketing toward western Pennsylvania.
Molly: So, do we actually have a plan for when we land and Von Wicked is
standing right outside of our ship?
Max: Destroy him!
Drallus: I think she wanted something just a teensy more specific than that,
Jimmy: Well, whatever course of action we choose, I recommend we outline
it fast because that ground is getting awfully-
All: OOF! *crash*
Max: Molly, I thought you said you could fly this thing!
Molly: Yes. And I did. I never said I was an expert at landing a foreign
ship. I'm still getting used to it! It's not easy to operate, all hunched
Narrator: The Flashpack climbed from their battered catship, assessing themselves
for broken bones and the like.
Drallus: We really need to work on the not destroying ships.
Molly: Psh. This one’s an easy fix. I just need to put together a tita-steel
warping device and bend the sides back into shape. The engine itself seems
to be in fine con….dition….
Narrator: Molly trailed off as her gaze followed the shocked expression and
pointing finger of Jimmy Kovacs.
Slotter: Yeah…that’s a good word for it.
Narrator: Two tuxedo pants clad legs, ending in shiny black and white saddle
shoes poked out from under the Marvin III.
Von Wicked: HAHAHA! Fooled you again, Flashpack! You thought you could finish
me off with such a clever ease! But alas! Here I stand, your greatest adversary!
Drallus: You call that standing, huh?
Jimmy: Molly? What is that?
Molly: It looks like Von Wicked started to transport right as we landed on
him, and didn’t do it fast enough.
Narrator: Sure enough, ten yards away on the grass stood the great Von Wicked,
from the torso up. The tails of his tux jacked flapped on the ground behind
him, which, combined with two bow ties (one of platinum, the other of green
silk with a tiger print) and one long striped necktie, made the sight of the
Mad Scientist more than a little hilarious.
Slotter: I vote we shoot it.
Molly: Wow. I never thought getting rid of him would be that simple.
Max: I bet you never thought of crash landing onto him either.
Molly: (playfully) Shut up! Though I DO wish you could have waited to shoot
until after we asked him who is behind this all.
Jimmy: I thought we decided that Von Wicked was the Mastermind.
Drallus: Not quite, Jimbo. And Molly, total kudos on the Wizard of Oz effect.
Slotter: Not quite. His shoes were mighty shiny, but they sure weren’t
Drallus: No, but that guy’s got a killer hat!
Narrator: Who has a killer hat? Can the wearer of said hat give the Flashpack
any clues as to who has been out to get them all this time? Will Keane be
ok? Find out the answers to these questions and more, next week, when this
season of Epic Echoes concludes with: Unmasked!