The Mystic Order of Pumpkin Slayers is just like any other group of people. Well, people who would frequent a comic book convention anyway. MOPS, as they prefer to be called, is made up of four individuals. They are the four that slew the first pumpkins.
The group consists of Victor Viking, Tommy Templar, Angus MacScot, and Kelly O'Kern. These are not their real names. Their names have been changed to protect them from great embarrassment. After all, would you like people saying that you frequented comic book conventions?
Naturally, they are warriors of various cultures. While Kelly O'Kern may dress like some sort of priest, he is actually a Kern. That is, he dresses like a 16th century Irish foot soldier. His clothing, just so happens, looks like a papal garment. But rest assured, he'll tell you in an Irish accent that he is a 16th century Irish foot soldier if you ask him.
Angus MacScot is your run of the mill Scottish warrior. Apart from the fact that he wears glasses and is bald, he is just like Mel Gibson in that movie. Oh, and he does not take the opportunity to paint himself blue, so that is also a difference. Further, he does not have a Scottish accent via Australia. This also sets them apart. Okay, they are nothing alike. I admit it. He is just an ordinary man in a skirt -- er -- kilt.
Tommy Templar is a Templar Knight -- hence the name. The fact that he is not French or Catholic should not deter you from accepting him as a member of the Knights Templar. He does like weapons and armor -- especially weapons. He has mail, a great helm, a shield, and a number of swords that would make any knight jealous. Thus, this allows him to call himself a Templar. If you wish to argue the point, you would have to speak with Henry V (a sword.)
Victor Viking is a name given in irony. What warrior do you assign a slight, timid rocket scientist? Naturally, you assign him one of the most ruthless warrior races ever to grace the earth. He would not choose one himself -- he had to be assigned one. A person who cannot swim and faints at the sight of blood would make a wonderful seafaring warrior -- am I right?
The group would gather each autumn and rid the world from a few evil hordes of pumpkins. Their motto is "Death to pumpkins and all large vegetables!" They naturally dress this up in bastardized Latin. The motto Morte de cucurbita pepo et alia vegetablis grandis gives them an air of respectability even though they are just a group of yahoos who go around chopping up pumpkins with swords and various other medieval weapons.
On this particular occasion, they had all gathered -- in costume -- at a greater Twin Cities Comic and Gaming Festival. You might think that four grown men in Renaissance Faire regalia would stand out in a crowd. They did not in this crowd. How do you stand out from various Klingons and other Star Trek characters? If someone in a Princess Leia slave girl outfit walks by, is anyone really going to notice a man dressed like Jesus carrying a sword? Excuse me, I meant dressed like a 16th Century Irish foot soldier.
No, they blended in perfectly with this particular crowd. They had purchased booth space in an attempt to garner interest in a movie project. The script for M.O.P.S. the Movie had been written, and they were looking for funding to get the movie made. A director, actors, and anyone with any film making expertise would be a good start as well.
As you might expect, they had drawn absolutely no interest in their project. They were crazy to think anyone would be interested. It was the last day of the event, and they decided to pack it in. Instead of being 'vendors', they would be simple attendees. In this way, they could grab some free stuff. Perhaps they would even meet the four or five single women at the event.
They could have dressed in normal clothes -- well -- normal clothes for regular people. Instead, they wandered the convention floor in full costume. According to Victor, "they were taking the pitch to the people." It was either label it that or admit defeat. Thus, the rest went along with this suggestion.
It should be noted that while each of them had a weapon, these implements were fastened to their accoutrements to make them unusable. For instance, those with swords had them "peace knotted" with cable ties to their scabbards in such a way that they could not be drawn. In this way, the members of MOPS could wander the convention floor wielding dangerous implements.
Tommy Templar had his sword and main gauche zip tied to their respective scabbards. The convention people attached his dagger to his belt. His secondary boot knife was secured to his boot. They would not let him bring in his war hammer or axe, and this upset him. However, he brought in an unfettered pocketknife if trouble should arise.
The quartet wandered the convention floor gawking at the "geeks" and visiting the booths. They had as much luck wandering the floor as they did at their booth. However, they were accumulating some free convention swag. Thus, they felt like they were accomplishing something.
After making a lap around the convention floor, they noticed a peculiar booth. There was a table pushed against the wall with its sign pointing toward the wall. Next to the table was a six-foot octopod.
The creature stuffed two legs into a pair of ordinary blue jeans. The jeans were tight and fit rather oddly as if they were tentacles stuffed into a pair of jeans. He had a pair of unusually small, red canvas, high-top basketball shoes. He wore a plain blue t-shirt. Two tentacles used the armholes, two came out the shirt's neck, and two exited out the bottom. This creature's mouth and eyes appeared in the gap between the shirt and pants.
Intrigued by this creature, the MOPS members approached the booth.
"Excuse me; you know that the show is this way..." Angus MacScott stated pointing to the convention floor.
"Leave me," replied the creature with a voice that none of the members could localize.
"That is quite a costume," Kelly O'Kern said ignoring the threat.
"Listen to my words," boomed the voice although no one but the MOPS members seemed to hear. "In one minute, you would not wish to be here."
"What happens in one minute?" asked Victor Viking.
"It would take more than a minute to explain, so be gone!" the booming voice explained.
"If there is going to be trouble, we would like to know," Tommy Templar explained.
"Come on," begged Victor pulling at the other members. "We should leave him alone. He obviously doesn't want us around."
"What does that have to do with anything?" asked Tommy.
"Yeah, we're here dressed like dorks," added Angus. "What makes you think that we have any sense at all?"
"You guys may not have any sense, but I do," insisted Victor.
"You weigh 120 pounds and are wearing 75 pounds of gear, and you're trying to tell us you have sense?" asked Kelly.
"I'm willing to leave this squidman alone," added Victor.
"Octopi have 8 legs, and squid have 10 -- er -- said Mr. Marine Biologist," Kelly retorted.
"Okay Mr. Smartguy -- Octopusman," Victor said strongly.
"What makes you think our friend here is a man?" asked Tommy.
"The deep voice -- for starters," replied Victor.
"Did you just try to check and see if he had a package?" asked Tommy.
"See, you just called him a he!" Victor responded triumphantly.
"Take your discussion elsewhere! I really mean it!" boomed the voice impatiently.
"You're a guy right?" asked Victor.
"Really? You cannot tell?" the voice asked with a slight amount of dejectedness.
"Well, you *are* in an octopod costume," replied Kelly.
"Costume?" started the voice when a blinding white light enveloped the five of them.
Suddenly, the table was no longer facing the wall. It was in the corner of a room filled with other octopods of various colors and modes of dress. The comic convention was gone, and they were in very strange place. Well -- to be honest -- it was only slightly stranger.
"You could tell I was in a costume?" asked the octopod when the room stopped spinning.
"Of course," replied Kelly a little distracted as he searched nervously at the sudden change of scenery.
"I thought I did a good job looking like a human," mumbled the once booming voice.
"Ummmm -- what's going on?" asked Angus.
"None of the humans back there seemed to notice...," muttered the octopod.
"Ummmm -- yeah! What *is* going on?" insisted Tommy.
"I tried to warn you, but you would not listen to my booming scary disembodied voice," the octopod replied as the booming voice returned.
"Who or what are you?" asked Kelly.
"I am Gogle! I am the living record of all things on your planet."
"Our planet?" asked Victor. "Then where are we now?"
"You're on Earth," replied Gogle.
With a sigh of relief Victor asked, "Where on Earth?"
"Oh!" responded Gogle with a slight chuckle. "I probably should explain. First, about 80% of all inhabited planets in the galaxy are called Earth. It is one of those strange coincidences that make things a bit confusing. It is almost as universal as the word Okay."
"So where are we?" asked Victor with a bit of panic returning to his voice.
"According to your International Star Registry, this would be the fourth planet orbiting the star -- Ann L. Kitterman."
"Where?" begged Victor.
"Hey, I am not responsible for the naming of these things," Gogle said with a shrug. "Does (15M, 2.432963, 4.196733) in galactic standard spherical coordinates help any?"
"No," Victor replied curtly with a shake of his head.
"So, what is going on?" asked Kelly attempting to change the subject to something more concrete.
"This raucous party you see before you," responded Gogle as he waved one of his tentacles across the scene. "This event often becomes so out of control that it spills out over time and space."
"They look like intergalactic nerds, if you ask me," Tommy responded.
"Intra-galactic really," Gogle said reflexively. "I guess since you are here and are not going anywhere, I should let you in on the secret of this grand occasion."
"That would be grand," insisted Kelly.
"This is the 186th Annual Intra-Galactic Comic and Gaming Convention," mumbled Gogle.
"What!?!!" shouted the quartet in unison.
"It is the gathering of like-minded individuals where they exchange stories, information, and purchase collectibles," asserted Gogle. "I am dressed as a popular -- but mythical -- comic character called a -- human..."
"And how did we get here?" enquired Victor.
"Would you like the short version or the long?" replied Gogle.
"Short," replied everyone except Victor who asked for the long version.
"Let me see if I can explain it to you in your limited language," started Gogle. "What would you say if I told you that I traveled back in time and killed my grandfather before he conceived my father?"
"That's impossible," replied Victor.
"Exactly," continued Gogle. "It would create a great paradoxical field -- an impossibility bubble -- if you will. So, how would you describe traveling several thousand light years without a space ship?"
"That would also be impossible," replied Victor.
"Thus, mathematically, they would cancel each other out," responded Gogle. "And, Bob's your uncle, we are here."
"What!?!!" exclaimed Victor attempting to follow the logic.
"To be honest," Gogle continued, "Traveling here without a spaceship is only highly improbably -- a pseudo-impossibility -- if you will. By Murphy's Law, if anything can go wrong it will. Thus, it is actually much more improbable that we end up where we wish."
"Huh?" Victor said as if someone were actually listening to him.
"Therefore, since our getting here is only a pseudo-impossibility," continued Gogle completely ignoring Victor's protests. "We had to stack in a few more improbable events."
"Like the Cubs winning the World Series?" asked Tommy.
"Like soccer becoming popular in America?" asked Kelly.
"Like Victor getting some action?" joked Angus.
"Exactly," proclaimed Gogle. "With a collection of pseudo-impossibilities, we cancel out the impossibility of me killing my grandfather before my father is conceived."
"This is all twisted..." Victor said in exasperation.
"Exactly," Gogle said in congratulations to Victor. "Did you take Beginning Hyper-Dimensional Temporal Physics too?"
"What?" asked Victor.
"He just read Hyper-Dimensional Temporal Physics for Dummies," added Angus.
"I ask because the paradoxical field becomes more and more twisted," replied Gogle. "It will become so tight that in four days it will all unravel. Hence, we will all return to your planet, and granddad will be fine."
"That doesn't make any sense," Victor responded with a twisted look on his face.
"You wanted the short version," Gogle said with a shrug.
"So, is this planet your home?" asked Angus looking at all the similar octopod creatures.
"Great googly-moogly no!" exclaimed Gogle. "This is just where they hold this convention."
"So why is everyone -- like you?" asked Victor pointing to the others.
"My particular race happens to be the repository of collected information for many planets in the galaxy," Gogle replied proudly, but with a little hint of shame, he added, "And as I have previously stated, I have the collected knowledge of your race."
"So, what are all the repositories of knowledge doing here?" asked Victor.
"We are the primary vendors for the show, and this is the setup and pre-show party. Even us knowledge repositories have to make money somehow."
As they were talking, another octopod walked up in a more normal mode of locomotion for an eight-legged creature. He stuck out an appendage and said, "Greetings Humans!"
Before Gogle could say anything, Victor grabbed the appendage and replied, "Ouch!"
"A word of warning," Gogle finally said as Victor looked at his aching hand, "this is a party, and some of the males here will try to mate with anything. Therefore, if someone offers you a sperm packet, I suggest you refuse. Now if you excuse me, my favorite band Lizard Spit and the Bongs1 is just about to play."
Gogle, on his panted legs, walked clumsily over to where four individuals, apparently of his octopod race, were standing upon a stage. They began to play something similar to but completely different from human rock and roll music.
"What does he mean sperm packet?" asked Victor trying to quell some up and coming panic.
"I think you just grabbed that dude's penis," replied Tommy with a chuckle.
"You should make him buy you a drink," added Angus continuing the joke.
"Am I going to give birth to an alien-human space creature?" worried Victor.
"I doubt that our genetic make-ups are compatible -- ugh -- said Mr. Geneticist," responded Kelly disappointed in himself for not continuing the joke.
"I don't know if it is your normal paleness, or if you are extra pale right now," insisted Angus. "Perhaps you should sit down."
"Good idea," replied Victor as the group made their way towards a group of seats near the bar. "My hand feels just like a balloon."
Victor, with his hand beginning to swell, staggered over towards a seat near what appeared to be a bar. His three friends helped him stagger to this previously mentioned seat.
"Here take this," stated a stranger handing Victor a glass of liquid.
Victor took the glass and drank its contents before the stranger could stop him. "What was that," asked Victor with an unusually raspy voice.
"I meant for you to use it to prevent an infection in your wound," replied the stranger with a shrug. "It was 100% ethyl alcohol, and here is another. This time pour it on this bar rag and rap your hand up with it."
Victor did as he was instructed and shouted, "Aaaaaahhhhh!"
"Oh yeah, it might sting a bit," added the stranger.
"Thanks -- whoever you are," Kelly said as Victor collapsed into a chair.
"Sorry," begged the stranger. "I am Jeves. Feel free to ask me anything."
"Okay," started Tommy. "Why is it that everyone here speaks English?"
"That's easy," replied Jeves. "We are not actually speaking. We communicate via telepathy. Our anatomy would make communicating in any vocal form impossible."
"So, you do not need to know our language, you just read our thoughts?" asked Kelly.
"No. You still *think* in English," replied Jeves. "However, with the repository of all your knowledge here, we have access to your races entire knowledge base. She imparted all of your collected knowledge to everyone in the room."
"Gogle is a she?" asked Angus.
"Those tight pants were not enough of a clue for you?" responded Jeves to the query using a tentacle to point to Gogle. "Did you use the voice in your head to make a determination?"
"Ummmmm -- no of course not," Tommy lied.
"At an occasion such as this, if she did not offer you a sperm packet that is another good sign," included Jeves.
"So you're a female too," added Angus.
"You are catching on," replied Jeves with a lilt in her voice, which became perceivably higher to the MOPS members.
"You're beee - you - tee - ful! You know that don't you?" slurred Victor who had begun feeling the affects of the alcohol he just consumed.
"I wish I could say the same about you," muttered Jeves.
"I love you guys," Victor stammered.
"Jesus! He's drunk," exclaimed Angus.
"I'm a Kern," responded Kelly. "I'm dressed as a Sixteenth Century Irish foot soldier."
"Right," apologized Angus. "That is why you have that fake Irish accent."
"I could use a drink myself," interrupted Tommy. "Bartender, could I get a rum and coke?"
The bartender was a completely different race from Gogle, Jeves, and the rest. She did not offer anyone a sperm packet, so everyone decided that the bartender was female. She looked much less like a terrestrial octopus, which was what the others resembled. She was much more cuttlefish-like.
It appeared that she was lying on a backless chair, and would propel herself with two of her ten legs. She wore a black suit that was not totally unlike a tuxedo; except, of course, it had to fit a 10-legged creature.
After hearing Tommy's order, the bartender looked up at a 45-degree angle, which many beings in the universe believe to be the ideal angle in which to look when thinking. After a few moments pause, the bartender turned red and said, "sure" with only a slight amount of disgust in her voice.
The bartender pressed some buttons and turned a few dials on what looked like an espresso machine. Steam poured out of one of the nozzles, and a familiar smell wafted over the group. "Here is your espresso," she said as she passed a cup to Jeves.
"Thanks," replied Jeves as she took the cup.
The bartender then walked over to a computer terminal, and furiously hunted and pecked some things into the computer. She placed a glass into a slot, and it came out with a brown liquid. She returned to the keyboard and entered in some more information. She placed a mirror in the same slot, and pulled it out with two white powdery lines upon it.
The bartender grabbed the pair of things and passed them to Tommy with a straw. Tommy sniffed the rum suspiciously and sipped it. It was possibly the worst rum he had ever tasted. It was like the rum you could buy at a convenience store in a plastic bottle.
"No you misunderstood," explained Tommy. "I wanted rum and Coca-Cola, and if I could get better rum than this, it would be appreciated."
"The recipe for Coca-Cola is a highly guarded secret," snapped the bartender. "I would not want the Coca-Cola Bottling Corporation coming here and causing trouble. So, drink your rum and like it, and take your coke too."
The bartender pushed the mirror towards Tommy. Reluctantly he grabbed it and secretly dumped the contents onto the floor.
"Could I get some Scotch Whiskey and soda?" asked Angus.
"Sure..." the bartender turned a brighter shade of red and replied as if Angus had just asked her for a kidney.
After a similar set of machinations, the bartender set a glass containing a brownish liquid that was very similar to something that someone somewhere might consider scotch. In addition, she set down a glass full of sodium bicarbonate -- baking soda -- to go with the whiskey-like beverage.
Angus decided that a comment would get him nowhere. Thus, he took his "scotch and soda" and took a seat at the bar.
"Hello gorgeous," schmoozed Kelly.
The bartender's angry red colored eased to a more blushing red. "Hello -- er -- um -- handsome," she lied. "What can I get you?"
"What's your name beautiful?" he asked.
"As you can see from my nametag," she said pointing at a badge on what could be described by some as her chest. "My name is Iiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeyaaaaaaah."
"What a -- lovely -- a -- name," stumbled Kelly. "May I call you Ieya?"
"No," the bartender replied kurtly.
"Okay then," Kelly replied from his rebuke.
He gathered his composure and continued "Apparently, I am the designated driver; thus, I need something half as intoxicating as your beauty."
The bartender's color turned from red to something that could be described as a nauseous orange.
"Such as what?" she enquired.
"What would you recommend?"
"How does some weak carbonic acid with a splash of citric acid and laden with sucrose sound to you?"
"That sounds as lovely as your name."
The bartender smiled a big smile. Some people do not think that octopods or cuttlefish-like creatures are capable of smiling. However, if you would have been there, you would now know how wrong some people are. In any event, she placed a glass on the bar and pulled out a nozzle. She pushed a button and filled the glass with a clear bubbly liquid. Kelly gave it a taste, and smiled.
"Thanks sweetheart," Kelly told the bartender with a wink.
"Does your friend with that cougar want another drink?"
"Cougar?" the trio asked the bartender.
"You know," replied the bartender "a cougar -- an older woman who frequents clubs, like this one, in order to -- be intimate -- with a younger man."
The three men looked quizzically at the bartender trying to discern her euphemisms. Finally, the group looked over to Victor, but had a difficult time recognizing him because he had an octopod sitting on him obscuring his face.
"Aahhh! an octopod is sitting on Victor obscuring his face!" shouted Angus.
"She is a hottie though," replied the bartender.
"A face hugger is trying to implant him," added Tommy. "Boy, eighteen years of nothing and then twice in one day!"2
"Jesus! Do something!" exclaimed Angus.
"I'm a Kern," responded Kelly. "I'm dressed as a Sixteenth Century Irish foot soldier."
"Right," apologized Angus. "That is why you have that fake Irish accent."
"Would you two knock it off?" yelled Tommy. "Victor is being implanted with some sort of space seed and you two are making jokes!"
"Sorry," replied Kelly.
"That was a good episode of Star Trek," muttered Angus.
"Space Seed?" whispered Kelly. "It was the basis of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."
"A fine movie," continued Angus. "Ricardo Montalban was sure buff in that movie."
"Do you think his chest was real?" asked Kelly. "Or, do you think he was wearing a prosthetic?"
"I said knock it off you two!" insisted Tommy. "What are we going to do for Victor?"
"It is looking like he is doing fine by himself," replied Angus.
"She *is* a hottie," added the bartender.
"What do you want us to do?" asked Kelly.
"We have weapons," replied Tommy.
"But they are zip-tied to our sheaths," Angus added. "We cannot remove them, hence the term -- peace-knot."
"I have a pocket knife," Tommy said. "I can cut those cable-ties in a few seconds. I could have my swords out in a no time."
"What's stopping you Conan?" asked Angus.
"I have an idea," interrupted Kelly.
"What?" asked Tommy and Angus simultaneously.
Kelly walked over and tapped the octopod female on one of her eight shoulders. "Excuse me Miss," he said.
With the distraction, the woman removed herself from Victor's face. If you have never seen a middle-aged space octopus with too much make-up on, then you do not know how difficult it was for the MOPS members to squelch their cries of disgust. In actuality, it was too difficult for Tommy who let out a "how gross" before he could stop himself.
"What is it boys?" the female formerly occupying their friend's face asked.
"It is -- just -- that," stumbled Kelly. "We would like to include our friend in our conversation."
"Your conversation about old Star Trek movies?" she asked.
"Well -- er -- ah -- that," stammered Kelly. "And, conversation topics in general."
"It is okay," she purred. "Gogle informed me that you humans have genitalia proportional to the size of your hands and feet. With this guy's giant hand, I was expecting -- a bit more."
"Holy crap!" exclaimed Angus. "Look at his hand!"
The sperm packet that Victor had taken earlier was now a raging infection in his hand. It had expanded to 3 times its normal size. Jeves, who had been sitting nearby but not participating in the various conversations, jumped up and rushed over.
"We had better take care of that," she said.
"Are you a doctor?" asked Tommy.
"I am the knowledge repository for the medical planet Earth, but otherwise known as Generalis Hospitalicus. In addition, I have access to Gogle's knowledge," Jeves Replied. "I should be well suited for the job. I will need a few things."
She walked over to Iiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeyaaaaaaah, the bartender, and asked for some supplies. With her ten legs moving quickly, the bartender supplied Jeves with her every request, which included another espresso.
Jeves walked over to where Victor was lounging.
"Where is my sexy octopod girlfriend?" Victor slurred.
"She *is* a hottie," added the bartender.
"Thanks dollface," replied the female who tried to be intimate with Victor.
"Here drink this," insisted Jeves handing Victor the cup of espresso.
"Just a little pinprick," Jeves stated as she poked the finger of his ballooning hand. "There'll be no more..."
"Aaaaaahhhhh!" screamed Victor
"But you may feel a little sick," included Jeves
"Can you stand up?" asked Angus
"I do believe its working," stated Jeves confidently.
"Good," replied Angus.
"That'll keep you going for the show," sang Kelly.
"Come on its time to go," Tommy added.
"How do you feel?" Angus asked Victor.
"I -- I -- I have become -- terribly nauseous," Victor proclaimed as he heaved the entire contents of his stomach into the bucket that Jeves was holding.3
As Victor continued to make-out with the bucket like he did with the female octopod, the remaining three MOPS members settled back into their seats at the bar.
Tommy turned to the bartender and said, "You know that alcohol you poured for Jeves earlier? Well, could I have a dash of that with some of that carbonic acid stuff you gave Kelly, but without the sugar -- er -- sucrose?"
"One gin and tonic coming up," replied the bartender.4
"Make that two!" added Angus pouring the baking soda and the remainder of his scotch-esque beverage into Victor's bucket.
"Jesus, do you want anything?"
"I am a Kern," started Kelly but was interrupted by wails of laughter coming from Angus. "I'm good," he finished with quite a dejected look upon his face.
"I heard that Ricardo Montalban was a workout nut, and that was his real chest," Tommy proclaimed out of nowhere.
"No way!" exclaimed Angus. "He had to be in his sixties when the movie came out..."
"Excuse me gentleman," interrupted a large, blue-green, two-legged, four-armed stranger.
"Yes?" the three non-puking MOPS members replied.
"Are those weapons you are carrying?" he asked.
"No!" they replied except Tommy who said yes.
"Can I see?" he continued.
"They are attached to our sheaths," insisted Angus. "We cannot remove them."
"I can take care of that," added the stranger as he pulled out some wire cutters and cut each zip-tie.
"This is a replica of the sword Henry the fifth carried," explained Tommy proudly.
"Who?" asked the stranger.
"He was the fifth King of England named Henry," answered Tommy with some pride of his knowledge. "He ruled briefly in the fourteenth century."
"England?" the stranger replied. "I have never heard of such a planet."
"It is not a planet -- sir," replied Tommy. "It is a country on Earth."
"I am from here on Earth, and we have no such country."
"I see what Gogle means by it being confusing -- no -- our earth."
"Oh, I see...," replied the stranger. "So how does this weapon work? Does it emit some sort of high energy sound wave when you swing it?"
"No sir," replied Tommy with a more and more respectful tone. "It is an old fashioned weapon that must make contact with the target."
"Actual physical contact?" the stranger enquired.
"Yes," replied Tommy. "They are very short ranged weapons that do slashing, piercing or blugeoning damage depending upon how it is used."
"Cool!" proclaimed the stranger excitedly. "And these artifacts come from your planet?"
"They do," Tommy said with some hesitation. He added quickly, "But, these are replicas of old weapons. We have much more advanced weapons than this."
"I would like to know more about what some guy called a president calls nuke-you-lerr weapons, but if this is all you have," the stranger said. "How much are you selling these for?"
"Oh they're not for sale!" Tommy replied excitedly.
"What?" ask the stranger. "You vendors cannot make any money if you do not sell your goods."
"Oh," sighed Tommy with some relief. "We're not vendors."
"What?" asked the stranger as he straightened up and turned less blue-green and more blue.
"Funny story," Tommy chuckled nervously. "We sort of got caught up in Gogle's pseudo-impossibility bubble thingy -- ha ha."
"This party is by invitation only," stated the stranger who was now very blue -- a navy blue. He looked very official.
"Um...," stammered Tommy. "But we..."
"As chief security agent here," proclaimed the chief security agent (IE the stranger). "I demand to see your invitations."
"Ha ha," laughed Tommy nervously. "I must have left my invitation in my other pants."
"You're not wearing pants," Angus whispered to Tommy. "You just have leggings and greaves."
"Shut up!" whispered Tommy back to Angus.
"Do any of you have invitations?" asked the security chief.
"Well," they all began.
"Then out you go," replied the chief grabbing each MOPS member by the forearm with one of his four arms. Actually, he grabbed them by the forearm with a hand that was on the end of one of his four arm's forearms.
"But we...," whimpered Victor.
"And another thing, I do not know who told you my name was Butwe, but you should be calling me Chief Security Agent Butwe at the very least!"
"Ummm," Victor mumbled with a blush.
After Chief Security Agent Butwe pushed the four men out into the street of the strange alien world, he pointed to a sign with what appeared to be random marks on it. The only thing the MOPS members could make any sense out of was the letters OK in the middle.
"It clearly says," started Chief Security Agent Butwe, "that it is not OK for non-vendors to enter. Come back tomorrow when the convention officially opens to the public."
A few natives -- two-legged, four-armed creatures -- rushed by staring and whispering to each other. They all hurried away from these strangely dressed and strange looking creatures. It is exactly how people on earth behave towards people dressed in such costumes outside of Renaissance Faires and comic book conventions.
With that, the door was closed and the four MOPS members were locked out of the only place on this planet that they had ever known. Victor still had his bucket which contained mostly of the contents of his stomach, but it did not smell too bad thanks to the baking soda Angus added. However, it was fizzing a bit.
4: Douglas Adams. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. New York, NY: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1980. pp. 182-183.
"I don't know what is sadder," bemoaned Tommy. "Us camping overnight in line in order to enter a comic book convention...."
"Or?" asked Victor fighting a mighty headache.
"Or," continued Tommy "the fact that we're 27th in line."
"We're on a planet far from home where they don't understand anything that we say, and we don't understand anything in their language," complained Victor. "Further, our only way home is inside that building. What would you have us do?"
"I'm hungry," replied Tommy. "We could go find something to eat."
"I could use a bite too," added Kelly. "Besides, it is not like being 35th or even 79th in line is going to prevent us from getting in."
"We just have to keep track of which way we head in order to find our way back," insisted Angus.
"But, we do not know what we can eat and what we cannot." complained Victor. "Further, we would not even know how to order anything if we found a restaurant."
"I could order another gin and tonic," retorted Tommy.
At the mention of the phrase gin and tonic, a mumble went through the crowd. It rolled towards the front of the line and return in a giant roaring wave. Soon, the entire line was shouting gin and tonic and drinking from a single large plastic container.
Eventually, the container made its way to the members of MOPS. The individual in front of them said, "Gin and tonic -- Okay?"
Tommy took the container and replied, "Okay" and took a drink. "Gin and tonic!" he added as he passed the container to Angus.
The crowd replied, "Gin and tonic!"
Angus took a long draw from it, passed it to Kelly, and shouted, "Gin and tonic!"
The crowd replied, "Gin and tonic!"
Kelly put it to his lips but did not drink, passed it to Victor, and shouted, "Gin and tonic!"
The crowd replied, "Gin and tonic!"
Victor took a look at the bottle and made a face. "I'm not drinking from that!"
"Just pretend then," whispered Kelly.
"No," insisted Victor as he passed the bottle back to Tommy.
Tommy took another drink, passed it to the person who had passed him the bottle, and shouted, "Gin and tonic!"
The crowd did not respond. They stood and stared at Victor.
"Gin and tonic -- okay," insisted the man with the bottle as he offered it to Victor.
Victor refused to take the bottle. The once friendly roar of gin and tonic became a mumble of disappointment. At least, that is what it sounded like to the MOPS members. In fact, the quartet began to feel uncomfortable with the stares and mumbles. It seemed as if there was a growing resentment from the crowd.
"Gin and tonic," shouted Tommy but his enthusiasm faded as he finished.
Kelly pointed to the once fizzing bucket in Victor's hands. "He's had too much to drink already," he explained, but the crowd became more restless. "Cannot hold his liquor..."
"Let's get out of here," whispered Tommy.
"Agreed," added Angus as they slipped from the line.
Soon they found themselves running. They do not know what they were running from, but they thought it would be a prudent thing to do. They did not run far because of the items that they were carrying were quite a burden.
They turned onto a street and went a short way up the corner. They stood there and rested a bit.
"Would it have killed you to just play along?" asked Tommy.
Before Victor could reply, Kelly shouted, "Look!"
Kelly was pointing to a very unexpected sight. There was a small group of Japanese tourists walking away from them farther up the street. There was a statue of some important citizen of this world. It had its three of its four arms spread wide. The fourth arm bended and a hand-like appendage touched something that might be considered a chin. It was a very thoughtful pose.
All but one stood in front of a statue. The final member of the tourist party took the photo. "Cheese," they said.
The MOPS members stood their dumbfounded for a moment. They all looked at each other with the "what was that?" look on their faces. After a few more moments, it dawned on them that they might be able to communicate with them. They looked back at the statue, but they were gone.
Kelly, the only one with any energy left after the last run, dashed after them. The rest took a few steps, but running was not a possibility. In a few moments, Kelly reached the statue. He continued running up the road to the next corner. He spotted the group turning another corner further up.
Kelly had a choice, continue to chase after the group of tourists and lose his friends, or wait for his friends to catch up. He thought he would wait for his group to catch up and hope for the best.
The pace of the remaining MOPS members was somewhere between a mosey and a stroll. Clearly, the Japanese tourists were not a priority for them at this point. Thus, Kelly examined the statue more closely. He noted that it was the lower right arm that was touching the bottom part of the individual's face. There was a smugly satisfied expression on the portion of him that was above the hand-like appendage attached to the bent arm.
The engraved plaque at the bottom was completely unintelligible. Kelly had plenty of time to contemplate who he was before the three caught up to him. When they finally reached him, Kelly said, "This way" and he ran to the corner where he had last witnessed the tourists.
Kelly stood there and gaped as the quiet side streets that they had been on erupted into a wellspring of life. He could see individuals rushing hither and yon. There were lights, signs, and a general roar of activity. The Las Vegas strip would be jealous of the hustle and bustle that occurred on the street he had just reached.
He was still standing there agape when the rest caught up. They too marveled at the spectacle that was before them. Slowly, they walked forward. It was as if the scene before them was slowly reeling them in.
Suddenly, not only the sights grabbed them but the smells did as well. Following Tommy's hunger, they found themselves outside of some place. To them, it was clearly an eating establishment of some sort. Warily they entered and the wonderful smell of food enveloped them.
A light-skinned being with very dark clothes approached them. At least, they assumed it was clothes. The MOPS members assumed that this individual was the maître-d'. "Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah," he or she or it stated plainly.5
"Ummm -- excuse me Holmes," Angus began. "But we're from out of town and we're lost."
"Noash ett," replied the maître-d'. 6
"We don't have any money and we don't speak your language," added Kelly.
"Okay," the maître-d' replied with a disgusted and haughty look upon his, her, or its face.
The maître-d' directed them to a booth near the kitchen. The four anxiously took their seats and waited. After a long wait, someone placed a few dishes upon their table. As a group, they avoided the ones that smelled funky, but devoured the rest. Each had their fill.
After waiting a while, Kelly walked up to the maître-d' and asked, "Okay?"
"Okay," replied the maître-d' in resignation.
He waved to the rest and left the establishment. Upon leaving the place, Kelly headed off. "Where are you going?" asked the rest.
"The way back is this way," Kelly replied.
"No," they all replied. "It is this way."
The three of them pointed in three different directions.
"It's just around the corner," stated Victor as he pointed in the direction he thought it was.
"No, it's this way," insisted Tommy.
"I would hate to be lost in the woods with you guys," retorted Angus. "It is clearly this way."
"You are all wrong," said Kelly. "I'm sure it is this way."
The four had eaten, but now they were hopelessly lost. They did not know which direction their only hope of getting home was located. They were in serious trouble. Good thing Victor still had his bucket because he threw up in it.
6: Cultural reference to a line in the movie National Lampoon's Vacation
"Let us look at this logically," explained Kelly O'Kern. "Angus is pointing back at the restaurant we just came from."
"With Victor's sense of direction," added Tommy Templar "we can rule that way out too."
"Hey!" complained Victor Viking meekly after his insides finished chatting with his bucket.
"I just thought we could go in and ask," Angus MacScot said defending his position.
"We're going this way," insisted Tommy as he walked away.
"What should we do?" asked Victor in confusion.
"It is not that way," they all agreed.
"Just remember which way we go," insisted Kelly. "If we can make it back here, we can start again."
"Right," Angus and Victor replied as the three rushed off to follow Tommy.
After a short walk, it was clear that this was not the way. However, the hustle and bustle and all of the sights of the city drew them in. There was a sidewalk cafe´ type establishment where the quartet found themselves walking. Eventually, they found themselves sitting there.
They marveled at the wide array of fashions that individuals wore. Many had selected colors that complimented their skin tones, and others selected colors that clearly clashed. Angus pointed out an individual in something that could be called a mini-skirt with what appeared to be a very tight Hello Kitty™ t-shirt.
This individual was causing a stir with a particular set of other individuals. Many of the four-armed, two-legged creatures turned to look at this very attractive young individual in high-heeled-esque shoe like walking apparatuses. On a few occasions one member of a pair would turn and look, the remaining member of the pair accosted this individual.
After they had sat at the table for a while, a dark-skinned being with white clothes approached them. At least, they assumed it was clothes. "Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah," he or she or it stated plainly. 7
"Sorry," explained Tommy. "We are here for a convention, and we do not have any money."
"Noash ett," replied the waiter urging them to order. The only word the quartet understood was "okay."
With great resignation that the waiter would not leave without them ordering, Tommy and Angus ordered gin and tonics.
"Tonic with sucrose," ordered Kelly.
"Nothing for me," insisted Victor.
The waiter reflexively wrote down the orders, and then discovered what he, she or it wrote, did a double take, and gave Victor a strange stare. Looking as if impressed, the waiter entered the building.
The quartet returned to their watching. Occasionally a passerby would point at Tommy and say what sounded like "Larrimoe-Kerly." Further, they would often continue with "Cooklaa-Frannen-Olly."
Not understanding these strange phrases, the quartet just ignored them. Occasionally, they would wave, but that was a rare occurrence. They just sat there enjoying the hustle and bustle pass by.
After several minutes of sitting there, a very strong smell overcame them. It smelled like the breath of a raging alcoholic after the eighth bourbon -- only stronger. The quartet looked around to see where the smell was coming from, as it got more intense. The smell was nearly unbearable, when the waiter showed up with the drinks.
"Gin and tonic, gin and tonic," the waiter listed as he, she, or it placed the drinks in front of Victor and Angus.
"Thank you," responded Angus and Victor.
"Tonic with sucrose," the waiter continued while placing the glass in front of Kelly, and he gave a strange look to Victor.
"Thank..." Kelly started to reply when the alcohol smell over came him.
"Nuthin Form 'E'," stated the waiter placing a large smoldering glass in front of Victor with a wink.
A large group gathered around the door to get a look at the individual who ordered the Nuthin Form 'E'. They were shocked to discover the slight human with a slightly fizzing bucket was the one who ordered the drink.
The smell of the drink was so intense that the eight eyes of the quartet of MOPS members were gushing tears. None of them could enjoy the return of the individual with the Hello Kitty™ t-shirt with the drink there. Further, the pedestrians began giving them a wide birth as the smell filled the area. Occasionally, they would hear someone point and say Nuthin Form 'E', and look in shock at Victor.
"Do something with that drink," insisted Tommy.
Victor took the drink and poured it in his bucket. An eight-foot plume of flame erupted up from the bucket with a slight smell of peaches. Just as quickly as the flame started, it vanished. Victor's bucket was sparkling clean, and a pleasant smell of raspberry lingered.
With the stares and hushed whispers, the members of MOPS felt uncomfortable. Thus, they left their comfortable spot at the café. After a brief debate on which direction to head, they decided on a vote of 3 to 4 to follow their esthetic. That is, they followed the alien in the Hello Kitty™ t-shirt.
After a few blocks, this individual walked into a shop, so the quartet walked on by. They lingered on the corner for a bit, semi-waiting for the individual to walk out. However, a brightly lit complex attracted their attention. From their corner vantage point, it looked like a casino.
The enormous structure had flashing neon signs and many arrows pointing to the entrance. The building would give the flashiest, gaudiest, Las Vegas casinos a run for their money. The group could not help but be drawn towards it.
As they got closer, an enormous poster on the front became clear. From the corner, the bright lights reflected off the protective glass, so they could not get a clear view. It was only as the group got directly in front of the building could they make out the image.
They all stood there with their mouths open as they finally got a look at the poster. The fifteen-story image was the spitting image of Tommy. In smaller images around Tommy appeared to be Victor, Angus, and Kelly.
They moved around a little bit to determine if it was just a trick of the light. They wanted to determine if it was an image from a camera or a reflection. However, the image stayed exactly as it was. Clearly, it was someone or something that looked exactly like Tommy.
As they were attempting to get their minds around it, the front doors of the structure opened and a huge wave of people streamed out. They spotted the group and in a great reverent tone, they began chanting "Larrimoe-Kerly" with a "Cooklaa-Frannen-Olly" occasionally thrown in.
Soon, the crowd surrounded the members of MOPS. They pressed closely into them so they could not move.
To Kelly Angus said, "This is another fine mess you've gotten us into Ollie!"
Kelly replied, "It wasn't a Stan Laurel line it was an Oliver Hardy line. Furthermore, it was actually -- another nice mess -- ugh -- said Mr. Film Historian."
"Jesus! Say something!" exclaimed Angus as the crowd pushed tighter and tighter around them.
"I'm a Kern," responded Kelly. "I'm dressed as a Sixteenth Century Irish foot soldier."
"Right," apologized Angus. "That is why you have that fake Irish accent."
"Guys," whimpered Victor.
"Anyway, I was talking about the Jesus Tommy," explained Angus. "He should say something to his flock."
"What should I say?" asked Tommy.
"What difference does it make?" replied Angus. "It isn't like they understand English."
Tommy thought for a few moments. He struggled with what he was going to say, and then he began, "Yub nub, eee chop yub nub ah toe meet toe peechee keene, g'noop dock fling oh ah."
"Oh! We're dead," exclaimed Kelly.
"Yahwah, eee chop yahwah ah toe meet toe peechee keene, g'noop dock fling oh ah," continued Tommy gesticulating to the crowd like a master thespian.
"What?" asked Angus.
"Coatee chah tu yub nub -- coatee chah tu yahwah -- coatee chah tu glowah. Allay loo ta nuv," Tommy continued, ignoring the other MOPS member's conversation.
With a deep sigh Kelly responded, "He's speaking in Ewok..."
"Glowah, eee chop glowah ya glowah pee chu nee foam, ah toot dee awe goon daa," Tommy continued with great expression coming from years as an over-actor.
"It's from Return of the Jedi," explained Kelly. "It's Ewok Celebration -- we did it in high school."
"Coatee cha tu goo..." stated Tommy assertively
"Yub nub!" replied the crowd to everyone's surprise
"Coatee cha tu doo..." replied Tommy
"Yahwah!" returned the crowd.
"Coatee cha tu too..." added Tommy
"Ya chaa!" chanted the crowd and continued, "Allay loo ta nuv, allay loo ta nuv, allay loo ta nuv!"8
"I guess we should be glad he didn't break into Pinball Wizard or something," whispered Angus.9
The crowd began chanting "Larrimoe-Kerly" and "Cooklaa-Frannen-Olly" loudly. They closed in tightly upon the quartet and raised them into the air. With the loud chants, they carried the four men into the brightly lit building.
Tommy's church, as the MOPS members called it, had a giant alter on the far end. There were several steps leading up to the altar. Thus, all of the seats could get a good view of what was happening on it. Further, there were several monitors throughout the room to make sure no one missed any of the action.
Higher still, and behind the altar was a large glass window. On the other side of the window was a very white room. Even with the lights out in the room, it had a bright white glow to it. You could not get a whiter white than this room.
The crowd carrying the MOPS members went around to the side and dropped them into this extremely white room, and closed the door behind them. They continued their chant of "Larrimoe-Kerly" and "Cooklaa-Frannen-Olly," and left the men in the room alone.
"Ewok Celebration?" asked Kelly.
"I couldn't think of anything else," complained Tommy.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want," began Angus. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. That would have been good." 10
"What would have been wrong with," began Victor "But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. What? I had to memorize it for English class."11
"At the very least you could have said," complained Angus. "Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes."12
"But you doom us all by that -- toe peachy-keen gnip gnop sis boom bah -- Ewok Celebration stuff," Kelly said. "You could have at least told them in Ewok if they didn't do as you wish, you'd become angry and use your magic."
"It's against my programming to impersonate a deity," joked Tommy.13
"Sure!" replied Kelly. "You can remember that line!"
"Well there is no pressure now," retorted Tommy.
"Anyway," interrupted Angus. "There are some couches in here, and it is getting late. I suggest we try to get some sleep."
"Sleep?" asked Victor. "Who can sleep?"
Victor sacked out on a couch with his bucket by his side, and was almost out before he finished that sentence. The rest followed his lead, and chose a couch to bed down for the night. Unfortunately for Kelly, the couches were too short for him to get comfortable, so he ended up sleeping on the floor.
Several hours later, Tommy woke up. "Is anyone else awake?" he whispered.
"No," replied Kelly in a whisper.
"We're all still sound asleep," added Angus.
Victor remained silent when Tommy added, "I have to -- er -- um -- see a man about a horse."
"But we're locked in," insisted Angus.
"I would hate to turn their nice white room -- uh -- less white," Tommy muttered.
"Has anyone *tried* the door?" asked Kelly.
"No," replied Tommy. "But if I don't go soon, I will have break it down."
Tommy got up and opened the door. It was not locked. There were two other closed doors in the connecting room. Tommy opened one, and it was a closet sized room with a hole in one corner. There was a ringed stand over the hole. Tommy took this for a primitive toilet and took care of his urgent business. All but Victor took turns using these primitive facilities.
The other door in this entryway was locked. Thus, they only had access to the two rooms. Thus, the MOPS members sat around in their semi-dark white room for several minutes wondering what was going to happen. They thought they heard someone or something enter the outer hall, but they ignored it. Whoever or whatever it was left shortly afterwards.
Eventually, the dark white room became a very light white room. The light seared through Victor's brain and he sat up screaming.
"It was bad enough that you guys have been screaming at each other for the last hour," complained Victor. "But now you turn on that ghastly bright light."
"Um," muttered Tommy. "We didn't turn on the lights."
"They did," admitted Kelly as he pointed to the large crowd gathering out in the main area.
"I need to," began Victor. "You know..."
"The -- restroom -- is out the door and too the right," asserted Tommy.
Victor stumbled out of the room and then stumbled back. "Where's the restroom?" he asked.
"It is right there," insisted Tommy as he pointed to the door.
"That is just a small room with a tree in the corner," remarked Victor.
"What?" the three members asked in unison.
They all peered into the room, and in the stand now stood a large tree. Its roots were in the hole, and the stand held up the trunk.
"It's a good thing no one went number 2," remarked Kelly.
"Um er," muttered Tommy.
"You didn't?" asked Angus.
"There is no holding back nature," replied Tommy.
"Speaking of which," whimpered Victor. "If you are through yelling at each other, what am I supposed to do?"
"It is a tree..." insisted Tommy.
"He's right," added Angus with a shrug.
The three members gave Victor some alone time with the tree and watched as the pews began to fill with all shapes and sizes of individuals. Many of them pointed with great excitement at the MOPS members in their white room. However, the room was apparently sound proof, as they did not hear a sound.
Eventually, Victor returned and crashed upon a couch. His recline was short lived as the couch evaporated beneath him. All of the furniture was gone only the slight fragrance of cinnamon remained. Slowly, the walls began to push in on them.
"Oh, we're dead," exclaimed Kelly.
10: Psalms 23:1-2
11: William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. Act II: Scene 2
12: Cultural reference to a some lines in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
13: Ibid Return of the Jedi.
The walls of their very white room closed in on them until the four men looked like a four-pack of action figures in their original packaging. That is when the walls stopped moving in on them. They stood there on display in front of the large congregation.
After several minutes with the MOPS members staring at the crowd, and the crowd doing likewise, something red appeared. On earth, he would have been described as the devil. Well, the Earth the MOPS members live on, on this Earth who knows how they would describe him or her or it.
He, she, or it was completely red. The face was red. If he, she, or it had any clothes on, they were red. The eyes had no whites; they were completely red. Let us face facts; this creature was completely red.
Like many of the creatures on this planet, the preacher had four arms; however, these were constantly in motion. One of the arms held what was probably a microphone. The other three took turns pointing hither and yon as the owner of the arms paced frantically in front of the congregation.
The MOPS members could do nothing but stand there and watch the spectacle before them. None of the members in the room could hear what he was saying. Even if they could, they would not have been able to understand him. So, it is just as well.
Occasionally, the congregation would erupt into a huge roar. The men in their confined space could hear the faintest of this eruption from their vantage point. The only option they had was to watch the spectacle before them.
When the franticness of the preacher reached a certain pitch, the preacher made a discrete gesture and a device emerged from the ceiling. It was a device, which looked familiar to the MOPS members. To them it looked like a guillotine.
After a few moments, they were convinced it was a guillotine as the preacher sliced some large melon looking things with it. Using this device, he sliced these large melons into quarters and then eighths. He continued doing this until the there was enough melon to go around to the congregation.
From an unseen hatch above the four men, some of the melon was lowered down on a tray. It tasted strange to the quartet, but it was a suitable start to a nice breakfast. As they ate it, they could faintly hear the roar of the crowd.
After everyone had his, her, or its share of melon, the carcass of something was placed upon the altar. The guillotine was raised and replaced by a large fire. The red individual skewered the carcass and placed it on a rotisserie above the now raging fire. The preacher's antics returned, and he worked the crowd into another frenzy.
Another red individual joined the preacher in front of the now roasting carcass with a large implement. Together they sliced off bits of the cooked animal. Once again, it was passed to each individual in the congregation.
As it did with the melon, the hatch above the men opened up and the smell resembling bacon filled the small room. A tray came from the hatch and the quartet ate some of the roast beast-thing.
Next, several red assistants placed a large pot upon the still smoldering fire on stage. Inside was another carcass that appeared to have been stewed for several days. Once the crowd was worked up again, the preacher reached into the pot and pulled out a piece from the carcass in the pot. Removing the flesh from the bones, he tossed the bones aside and returned the meat to the pot. Once the carcass was bone free, a red assistant gathered up the bones. Like the other food items, a sample was given to the men in their confined room behind the stage.
Wave after wave of implement would come on stage, and more and more food was prepared and passed around. The MOPS members were beginning to think that this place was some sort of funky restaurant, and they were part of some sort of fancy floorshow.
They partook in 14 courses. Between each course, the preacher urged the crowd into excitement. Every scrap of food the preacher and assistants prepared with some sort of elaborate demonstration.
At the end of the 14th course, the chants of Larrimoe-Kerly resumed. They were more fervent, and occasionally, the preacher would point to the MOPS members. The chants started haphazardly, but they eventually coalesced into a rhythmic chant. The entire congregation shouted in unison. It was so loud that the costumed men could hear it clearly in their soundproof containment room.
The preacher pointed at the quartet, and they found themselves falling. They had not noticed the trapdoor beneath them. They found themselves on a slide, and soon they arrived in front of the altar in a pile. The din of Larrimoe-Kerly was deafening.
When the quartet gathered themselves together and stood up, the preacher held his hands up and the chants turned into a thunderous round of applause. As the crowd was still cheering, the preacher handed the microphone to Tommy and whispered into his ear, "Yub nub -- okay?"
When the crowd quieted, Tommy made his I am an actor pose and said as if he were a politician running for office, "Yub nub, eee chop yub nub ah toe meet toe peechee keene, g'noop dock fling oh ah."
The crowd broke into thunderous applause and Kelly whispered to Angus "Oh! We're soooo dead!"
Tommy continued his oration of Ewok Celebration14 to the enjoyment of the gathered participants. Quietly the preacher left the stage, and the MOPS members were all alone in front of the gathering.
As they had done the previous evening, the crowd responded in the proper place. Tommy glowed with pride as the crowd erupted in thunderous applause for his oration. He took several bows to the standing ovation that followed.
The preacher returned with a book in his hand. He placed it on a lectern, and after the crowd quieted, he read from it. Reverently, they listened to what the preacher said. Naturally, the humans did not understand their language -- except for the occasional okay.
The first passage ended with Larrimoe-Kerly Cooklaa-Frannen-Olly, and with that, the crowd erupted into a deafening roar. Three other passages ended in Cooklaa-Frannen-Olly to which the crowd cheered loudly.
When the preacher had finished, the chants of Larrimoe-Kerly returned. Tommy walked to the front of the stage and raised his arms. The crowd doubled their volume in their chants.
Four red assistants entered and grabbed the four MOPS members. They slowly dragged them off, but Tommy managed to shout, "Be excellent to each other and party on dudes!"15
The four men found themselves back in the white room. Kelly punched Tommy in the arm.
"What?" complained Tommy.
"Do you remember your favorite Twilight Zone episode?" Kelly asked.
"Yes..." responded Tommy glowing from the crowd's acceptance but trying to figure out the reference.
"What do you suppose he was reading to the crowd?" asked Kelly.
"You don't mean?" queried Angus.
"Yes!" exclaimed Kelly.
"You mean..." Tommy began.
"It's a cookbook!" shouted Kelly.16
15: Ibid Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
"How do you know they mean to eat us?" asked Tommy as he looked around their white room.
"How many courses did we eat yesterday that contained meat?" asked Kelly.
"Four -- but that is just a coincidence," insisted Tommy.
"How many passages did he read from the book?" asked Kelly.
"Again it was just a coincidence that there were four passages," asserted Tommy.
"You are not concerned that in some religions they eat their gods?" asked Kelly.
"You are over reacting," Tommy replied.
"Whether he is right or not," interrupted Angus "we should try to get out of here."
"I need to speak to the tree first," Tommy said with a wry smile.
"Not in my store you don't!" exclaimed Angus in his best immigrant grocer voice.17
The couches that had vanished when the room shrank had now returned. The remaining MOPS members relaxed as Tommy went to take care of his business.
"Hey, the tree is gone..." Tommy noticed as he entered the room off the main room.
"Your last trip probably killed it," joked Angus.
The men sat and let their food digest. After a short while, Tommy returned and said, "You'll probably not want to go in there for a while."
Kelly was going to make a joke but he got a whiff of what Tommy had done in the bathroom. "Man! What crawled up into you and died?"
"I don't think that meat we ate is agreeing with my system," explained Tommy.
"But do they have to fight in our presence?" Angus asked as he also got a smell.
"Somebody please open a window," complained Victor.
"It isn't that bad," laughed Tommy.
"If that outer door is locked, I'm going to break it down," Kelly explained as he ran out.
Kelly found the bathroom door closed, but the smell was clearly emanating from that room. It was very strong in the entryway. He tried the outer door, and the red assistants had not locked it. He rushed out searching for an escape from Tommy's digestive odor. The rest followed.
After rushing down a few hallways, they exited the rear of the building and found themselves in an alleyway.
"I'll lead the way," insisted Angus. "You guys don't know the way back."
Angus led the MOPS members out of the alley and into a busy side street. They took a few turns here and there. They looked around at the scenery.
"Evening is coming on," noted Kelly.
"How late did we sleep?" asked Victor.
"We were up pretty late," insisted Tommy. "We must have slept a long time."
"Perhaps we have some sort of jet lag," Kelly proposed.
"It's possible," remarked Angus. "I once slept for 14 hours after a long plane trip."
"Plus," added Victor, "that ceremony wasn't exactly short."
"It looks like everyone is rushing home," added Kelly.
"Hey, there is where Victor ordered that awful drink," noted Tommy.
"But it did quite the trick on this bucket," Victor remarked showing Tommy the inside of the bucket. "It is nice and shiny clean!"
"Perhaps Angus does know the way back," included Kelly.
"Of course I do," insisted Angus. "Jesus! What was that?"
"I'm a Kern," responded Kelly. "I'm dressed as a Sixteenth Century Irish foot soldier."
"Right," apologized Angus. "That is why you have that fake Irish accent."
"Enough you two!" exclaimed Tommy. "I saw it too. What was it?"
"I didn't see anything," added Victor.
"It looked like a living example of Australopithecus afarensis," replied Angus.
"Thank you Mr. Anthropology Major," Victor said still not knowing what they saw.
"Wait here," insisted Angus running after the thing that he saw.
The remaining men looked at each other trying to determine what they should do. They were not in the mood to go chasing after him, so they did as Angus asked and stayed where they were. They found a nice bench nearby and took a seat.
As Angus ran off, Kelly and Tommy looked at each other. Simultaneously they said, "gin and tonic."
"Wait here," insisted Tommy to Victor as he and Kelly ran to the outdoor café.
Victor asked them as they hurriedly walked away, "Could you get me a..."
"No!" the two said in unison.
The two men took a seat at the café they had visited the previous day. Soon, the waiter appeared with a gin and tonic and a soda. They could see Victor, so if anything happened they could quickly join him.
Meanwhile, Angus chased after what he thought was an ancient ancestor to Homo sapiens. With plenty of other individuals trying to get where they were going, it was often difficult for Angus to see the small creature he was chasing.
He thought he saw his quarry run down a side street, so when he eventually made it to that street, he turned down it. There was a large group of smallish inhabitants of this planet congregated there. You could assume that they were teenagers or pre-teens. In any event, they pointed at Victor and shrieked.
Victor thought the shrill screams would shatter glass in a twelve-block radius, and it stopped him in his tracks. The shouts continued as the crowd slowly advanced to where Angus was standing. He slowly backed away.
The crowd got closer and closer to where Angus stood. Slowly the pace of the advancing crowd picked up. Victor picked up the pace of his retreat. With each speed adjustment Angus made, the crowd also adjusted its speed. They grew closer and closer.
Soon, Angus found himself running away from the crowd of screaming teens and pre-teens. The once crowded streets parted for the chase. Angus ran past the bench where Victor was sitting. He also ran past the café where Tommy and Kelly were enjoying their beverages. He just kept running with the mob screaming behind him.
The remaining MOPS members filed in behind the group of shouting youngsters. Eventually, Angus made a wrong turn. He ran up dead-end alley. Eventually, he reached a wall. He could go no further. The shrieking youngsters slowly approached him. He was trapped.
The mob of teens and pre-teens slowly pressed in where Angus was standing. There was no escape for him, and there was nothing the other MOPS members could do to help.
Suddenly, the first screaming individual calmed down enough to hand Angus a piece of paper and a pen. He, she, or it shook terribly. It appeared that tears were welling up under his or hers or its eyes.
Angus scribbled something on the paper and handed it back to the individual who looked at it and fainted dead away. The rest of the crowd shrieked with glee and each pushed various merchandise at Angus for him to scribble something. Some just pawed at him to determine if he was real.
Slowly and methodically, Angus scribbled something on each of the things someone had given him and worked his way towards the mouth of the alley. When he passed the remaining MOPS members, they formed a line to protect Angus. The once shrieking mob had degenerated into a whimpering huddled mass. Each one of them was content with the scribbles on their objects.
Angus rushed out of the alley as the other MOPS members slowly backed out of the alley. In this way, they were assured that the mob would not regroup and attack Angus again.
Unfortunately, there was another mob outside the alley. They scooped Angus up and carried him off. There was nothing the others could do except follow. They chased after the shouting mob carrying their friend.
The group carried Angus past the café, past the bench, back to where Angus encountered the first mob. At the far end of this street, there was a large arena. The group carried Angus inside this structure with the MOPS members following.
At the far end of the arena sat a table. Four navy blue individuals stood guarding the table. Temporary barriers stood in various places to facilitate orderly lines. The lines of smallish individuals snaked around the inside of the arena and out into the street. There were thousands and thousands of them.
In the seats sat much larger versions of these individuals. The people in the seats spotted Angus first, and they roared to life when the small mob carried him in. They took him to his place at the table.
Several individuals in line fainted at the sight of him. The throngs around them held them up. The still conscious ones shrieked with excitement from a mere glance at him. Inside the arena, the sound was nearly unbearable. The shrill screams were probably driving the dogs on earth crazy. I am talking about the earth where the MOPS members lived. If there were dogs on this earth, they were probably howling as well.
One of the very blue, official-esque looking individuals yelled, "Gort deklato rosco!"18
The crowd quieted except for a few whimpers here and there. The first individual handed Angus a poster with his image upon it. Angus scribbled something and handed it back. Tears in the individual's eyes began to form. With shaky hands, he, she, or it grabbed the poster. No longer able to contain calmness, the individual let out a scream. Like a huge set of auditory dominoes, a chain reaction occurred and screams worked their way through the line.
Again, Gort deklato rosco was yelled and the crowd quieted.19 Each shaky teen and pre-teen had something with Angus's image on it. There were magazines, posters, romance novels, and even a few had handmade artworks featured the MOPS member.
Every time the other MOPS members attempted to get to Angus, either the throngs of people or the blue officials thwarted their effort. Thus, they decided to simply go to the end of the line and wait their turn. It was going to be a long wait, and they stood out from the local teen and pre-teen population.
Meanwhile, Angus was busily scribbling things on the vast array of memorabilia with his likeness upon it. He signed lunchboxes, action figures, backpacks and the gamut of items teens and pre-teens purchase.
After scribbling on an item, Angus looked at one of the guarding individuals and made a drinking-type motion.
"Gin and tonic -- okay?" asked the guard.
"Perfect!" replied Angus to the guards blank stare, so he added with a nod, "Okay."
"Gin and tonic!" the guard shouted.
"Gin and tonic!" the individuals in the stands shouted.
After a brief amount of time, a large, sweaty glass filled with a bubbly liquid was place upon the table near Angus. He scribbled on a few more things, and then took a sip from the glass. "Gin and tonic!" he shouted.
"Gin and tonic!" the individuals in the stands replied.
With a few more gestures, they brought him something that looked like a plate of doughnuts, a plate that looked like cookies, and a plate of something that looked like sandwiches. He washed down a bit of each with a sip of from his glass and a shout and reply of gin and tonic.
The line progressed with the occasional scream processional, and the regular fainting fits. With the progression of the line, the stands likewise slowly dwindled. Angus continued to scribble on things and nibble on the items provided. The remaining MOPS members got closer and closer to where he sat.
Hours passed by, and Angus continued his scribbling and nibbling. His friends gradually closed in on his position at the table, and the food goodies that he accumulated. They were 17 people from reaching the table when a blue official looking individual entered with all four of his arms in the air. An enormous wave of disappointment washed over the remaining individuals.
This navy blue individual said something and the disappointed crowd's collective shoulders hunched down. No one moved as the four individuals whisked Angus away. After several minutes, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that the MOPS members assumed was "Angus has left the building."20
The crowd slowly filed out, but the MOPS members worked their way to the table. They would find Angus later; right now, they wanted to get to his remaining goodies. It had been several hours since they had eaten, and they naturally had no qualms about devouring Angus's leftovers.
They were the last ones out of the building and Angus was nowhere to be found. They managed to return to the café, and he was not there. They could not imagine where he would be.
They were lost on a strange planet, and now one of their members was missing. It was now late in the evening and very dark. They had no place to spend the night. Further, they had no notion on where to begin looking for their missing friend.
19: Ibid. The Day the Earth Stood Still (In case you didn't recognize it.)
20: A cultural reference to the end of Elvis Presley concerts. They would not let the crowd leave until Elvis himself had left.
The MOPS members minus Angus looked around the area of the arena for a while for their missing friend, but they were unable to locate him. With their lack of success, they decided to return to the nearby café.
They took a seat with a view of the street so they would be able to see Angus if he should happen by. After a few moments at the table, the waiter came by. He asked Victor if he wanted a nuthin form 'e', but wisely, Victor declined. Instead, he and Kelly had soda pops. Tommy had a gin and tonic, what else?
Half the night was gone, and the men sitting at the café table saw the individual from the day before who had the Hello Kitty™ t-shirt on. This evening, she was wearing a neon pink mini-skirt looking item plus something from the Cute Overload t-shirt collection.
Following close behind this individual was Angus looking a little bleary eyed. He was shaking his hand from the terrible pain that he was experiencing from scribbling for the past 6 hours or so.
The young individual who Angus was following passed by the MOPS members, and they watched he, she, or it pass. This individual was definitely not human, but the way he, she or it walked was mesmerizing. Several individuals were caught up in the spell she wove as she walked by, including the MOPS members.
What could be described as a smile and a wink, she gave those to the MOPS members sitting at the café table. Perhaps in keeping with the color changing abilities of the individuals on this planet, each of them shifted slightly redder.
"You won't believe this," started Angus.
"What?" the other MOPS members replied in unison.
"I was saving some cookies and sandwiches and doughnuts for you guys," Angus replied "but someone swiped them."
"That was us," responded Tommy. "Would you like something to drink, Mr. Teen Idol?"
"I hear they serve a killer nothing for me here," added Kelly.
"Could we get you some jellybeans?" asked Victor.
"Huh?" asked Angus with a very confused look upon his face.
"What are you talking about?" asked Tommy looking at Victor with his head slightly cocked.
"It was a joke," replied Victor.
"You misunderstand the term joke," chided Kelly. "People are supposed to laugh at humorous statements known as jokes. If you did not notice, none of us laughed."
"Where did that come from anyway?" asked Angus.
"People used to throw jellybeans at the Beatles," explained Victor.
"They did?" asked Tommy.
"And this is common knowledge?" asked Kelly.
"Well..." muttered Victor.
"You see," began Kelly "for something to be in consideration for a joke, everyone hearing the joke must understand the context. If no one understands the context, it just would not be funny."
"Take my wife, please," added Angus.21
"Now cut that out!" replied Kelly in his best Jack Benny voice.22
"Why don't you guys use references from this century?" asked Tommy. "What happened to Paul McCartney and the Beatles in the sixties is bad enough, but you guys are predating that!"
"You mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?" laughed Angus.23
"I heard that if you play Sergeant Pepper's backwards you'll hear We buried Paul," joked Kelly.
"So are you trying to tell me the Paul McCartney of Wings is not *the* Paul McCartney of The Beatles?" asked Angus.
"He is walking barefoot across the street on Abby Road," replied Kelly.
"Definitive proof!" exclaimed Angus. "You've convinced me!"
"Jesus! Would you two give it a rest?" asked Tommy.
"I'm a Kern," responded Kelly. "I'm dressed as a Sixteenth Century Irish foot soldier."
"Right," responded Angus. "That is why he has that fake Irish accent."
"Ugh, I could use another drink," sighed Tommy.
"Make it two my good man," Angus replied with a wink and a slap on the shoulder.
"Then what'll you have?" asked Tommy.
"Ha!" replied Angus. "That's the spirit."
"Take my wife, please...," muttered Victor.
"Very funny," replied Kelly without the slightest smirk.
Angus and Tommy each ordered a gin and tonic and Kelly had another soda. Victor was going to say nothing for me, but caught himself. He then almost said I'm fine, but was worried about what ramifications that would have. Thus, he just put his hand over his glass and shook his head. He was still worried that that gesture might be misconstrued.
The reunited group sat and drank their drinks and watched the passersby. They saw their friend in the hot pink mini-skirt looking thing and waved. They decided to call her or him or it the Hello Kitty™ girl. Assuming that this individual was female made them more secure in their masculinity. They discussed following "her" but decided against it. They felt someone might deem it creepy -- especially the Hello Kitty™ girl.
They rested a while, and then Tommy said, "Where are we going to spend the night?"
"What is wrong with right here?" asked Angus still watching the Hello Kitty™ girl.
"We need to get back to the convention center," insisted Victor.
"There is plenty of time for that," insisted Angus still watching the Hello Kitty™ girl window shop.
"Tomorrow is the last full day," explained Victor. "The day after that, they pack their things and go."
"Where did you hear this?" asked Kelly.
"Someone told me," muttered Victor.
"Someone?" asked Tommy.
"I'm a little fuzzy on who... Or, is it whom?" mumbled Victor.
"Your make-out partner perhaps?" enquired Tommy.
"You were awfully drunk," insisted Angus.
"Never mind!" huffed Victor as he turned away from the group.
"No go on," insisted Kelly. "You were saying?"
"If they have a day for setup in which non-vendors are forbidden, perhaps it is the same for the tear down," reasoned Victor.
"So, what you're saying is," Angus began. "That we need to get into the convention tomorrow to make sure we catch our ride home."
"Yes," Victor said with a self-satisfied look upon his face.
"Seems reasonable," replied Angus. "I can lead us back there."
"Are you sure?" asked Kelly.
"Absolutely," asserted Angus.
Angus flagged down the waiter and handed him some paper. The waiter was surprised. He attempted to give some back, but Angus would not take any back. He then got up to leave.
"What was that about?" asked Kelly.
"I tipped our waiter," replied Angus.
"Tipped?" asked Tommy.
"You don't think I would work that arena thing for free do you?" replied Angus.
"Very good then," replied Kelly. "Lead on, McDuff!"24
"It's MacScot," retorted Angus.
"Just go!" insisted Tommy.
Angus led them to the restaurant where they had eaten the previous day. They were about to go in when someone grabbed Kelly and said, "Ich bin ein berliner!"25 Before anyone could do anything, a very blue individual had Kelly in shackles and led him away.
22: A cultural reference to something comedian Jack Benny often said.
25: A cultural reference to a speech by President John F. Kennedy. Translated it means I am a Berliner, but in this context, it probably means something else.
Kelly had his two arms in a handcuff type apparatus with room for four. He and his MOPS friends still had their swords and other accoutrements including Victor's bucket. However, they had no idea what they had done wrong. Or for that matter, what Kelly had done wrong. After all, they had only shackled him.
With the remaining members following behind, the very navy blue individual dragged Kelly to a very square building. It was cube-ish actually. A square is only a two dimensional structure, but a cube is three-dimensional. So, this building was a very cube-ish building.
With the MOPS members watching, the official looking individual said a few words to another individual behind a desk-like structure. With the sound of a buzzer, the shackled Kelly was taken into a secure area.
The remaining MOPS members were not able to join their friend, so they took a look around the area. They came across a bulletin board, and there was a picture of Kelly upon it. They assumed that this was the area where they posted their most wanted notices. After all, Kelly O'Kern has been nothing but trouble his entire life.
With nothing better to do, they looked at a few other images. In particular, a very bulky and green individual looked particularly frightening. Victor commented that he would hate to meet up with this one in a dark alley.
When they had enough looking at the photos, they looked for a place to sit. However, they found themselves face to chest with a very bulky and green individual. Victor could not stifle his yell, but Angus and Tommy managed to squelch their surprise meeting this mountain of an individual.
In shackles, they led the wanted individual into the secure area much to the relief of the MOPS members. It looked as if the individual's incredible bulk would prevent the secure attachment of the shackles; however, he did go along peacefully.
After facing the mountain, the group turned around, found a place to sit down, and sat. They sat there in a daze for several minute, when Hello Kitty™ girl entered. She spied the MOPS members, and gave a little wave. She walked up to the man behind the desk and he buzzed her in.
As surprised as the other MOPS members, Kelly's eyes nearly leapt out of his skull as she walked into the interrogation room where he was currently incarcerated. To even more to his surprise, she said, "Hello, I'll be your interpreter today."
It took Kelly a moment to pick his jaw off the floor. Eventually, he gathered his senses together and said, "What is going on?"
"I am your interpreter, not your lawyer," she replied. "I am here just to facilitate communication."
"Um, how do you know English?" Kelly asked.
"Is it not obvious?" she replied.
"Perhaps to someone whose mind is clearer," admitted Kelly.
"I've been majoring in Human Studies at the University," she replied as if Kelly were a 6 year old.
"Oh, that is why..."
"I dress like a human?"
"I have a friend in Fashion and Design who custom made these items. Do you like them?"
"They are very reminiscent of Earth -- er -- a place I once visited back on my planet."
"Uh -- yes actually."
"Good, that is for what I was striving. It has been a hit around town."
"If you make it out of here, I would like to learn more about your little group."
"IF?" Kelly gasped. "Do you know why I'm here?"
"No, but we will find out soon enough," she returned as a very navy blue individual walked into the cell.
He said something, and the Hello Kitty™ girl said, "Please state your name."
"Kelly Patrick O'Kern," he replied -- except with his real name, which has been changed to protect the innocent.
She translated for the official and asked Kelly, "Do you know why you are here?"
"I haven't got a clue," he replied.
After a bit of back and forth with the official, she turned back to Kelly and asked, "What?"
"No. I do not know why I am here."
The official looked at a clipboard, and read off the charges. Hello Kitty™ girl translated them as, "Breaking and entering, breach of promise, dangerous disposal of deadly chemicals, impersonating a deity, kidnapping, square dancing in a round house..."
"What?" exclaimed Kelly.
"Breaking and entering, breach of promise, dangerous disposal of deadly chemicals, impersonating a deity, kidnapping, and square dancing in a round house." Hello Kitty™ girl replied.
"I understand the charges," Kelly stated with a bit of exasperation.
"You admit them then?"
"Wha -- no! Emphatically no!"
"Do you deny that you were in the convention center before it was open to the public?"
"Do you deny that you were at the Bistro De Burden26 where a nuthin form 'e' was poured into a fizzing bucket?"
"Do you deny taking Carmalita Vahtoss27 dancing at the train station's roundhouse?"
"Well that one is a mystery to me..."
"Enough of your lies!" translated Hello Kitty™ girl. "Guards take him away!"
Four very navy blue individuals strode in with great confidence. They grabbed and dragged the still shackled Kelly into a secure barred room. One of the guards turned Kelly around and removed the alien handcuffs. One of them closed the barred cell-door and turned, looked over what could be described as sunglasses and said, "What we have here is a failure to communicate..."28
The cell was small 8x8 room with a barred door on one side. In the corner was a set of bunks. In the other was a hole with a small tree coming out. Next to that, was what appeared to be a sink. Kelly climbed to the upper bunk and rested.
Kelly closed his eyes for a moment, and he heard his cell door open. In walked an enormous bulky and green individual. He, she, or it took up most of the entire cell. As the individual turned, what could be described as shoulder jostled Kelly from his upper bunk.
Kelly decided to let this infraction stand unchallenged. However, the large green individual turned and bellowed, "Hulk smash!"29
27: Ibid "The Tick"
28: A cultural reference to a line in the movie Cool Hand Luke.
Apparently, hulk smash translated from the native local language means -- top bunk. It was clear that this large green individual was much too large to cram into the more restricted lower bunk. Once again, Kelly decided not to challenge this request and let the bulky alien climb up to the upper bunk.
The enormous alien grunted some thanks and cried him, her, or itself to sleep. The weeping that eventually turned to snoring kept Kelly awake for a while, but he eventually managed to get to sleep. After all, it was late, and it had been a long day.
The remaining MOPS members stretched out on the benches in the waiting room. However, before they nodded off to dream world, Hello Kitty™ girl left the secure area and walked over to them.
"Hello boys," she said softly to the MOPS members.
Angus suppressed a Hello Nurse!!!30 and replied, "Hi."
The Tommy and Victor also greeted the English-speaking alien.
"Do you guys have somewhere to sleep?" she asked.
"We were just going to sleep here," admitted Tommy.
"That will not do," Hello Kitty™ girl replied. "I have plenty of room at my apartment. You can sleep there."
"Great!" replied Angus quickly.
The group gathered their things and followed Hello Kitty™ girl to her place. For a college student it was a quite spacious one-bedroom apartment. She decorated it in a style similar to 20th Century modern that some humans like so well. It was neat and uncluttered with a distinct lack of ornamentation and with straight clean-cut lines.
Tommy claimed a daybed for his resting spot. Angus found a chair to his liking and declared it his for the night.
"I guess that means you get to sleep with me," Hello Kitty™ girl said to Victor.
Tommy and Angus gaped at the suggestion, and with a little bit of envy. Victor turned 17 shades of red. He pointed to a rug with a colorful geometric pattern and stuttered that it would be fine.
"Suit yourself," she replied as she took off the shirt she was wearing. Tommy and Angus joined Victor in various shades of red.
Despite their varying degrees of comfort, all of the MOPS members slept well that night. However, early in the morning, a guard awakened Kelly and his roommate. Some words were exchanged which Kelly could not understand. The incredible hulk of an individual hugged Kelly firmly and left the cell.
To Kelly, it seemed that his released cellmate hummed "Old Man River" as he left.31 The guard closed the door, and Kelly sank back to his lower bunk. He tried to go back to sleep, but the now silent room was too eerie to allow him to relax. Kelly just rested there waiting for the next thing to happen.
The other MOPS members got to sleep later, but eventually Hello Kitty™ girl awoke them. She disappeared into a room, and they heard water running. She immerged wearing a neon-lime-green mini-esque skirt and a white t-shirt with some sort of strange but very cute cartoon animal on it.
"You guys can get cleaned up in there," she said as she walked into the room where the men were sleeping. "I will see what I can do about some food."
The MOPS members had spent the last several days in the same clothes. Thus, there was only so much they could do to clean up.
Each member took their time in the small room with the tree immerging from a hole in the corner. When Tommy exited the room, he proclaimed, "No one will want to go in there for a while."
"Oh man," cried Angus. "I sure hope we don't get into trouble for illegal dumping of toxic waste!"
"They'll probably tack that on to Kelly's sentence," Victor joked but no one laughed.
"It isn't that bad," proclaimed Tommy.
"I sure hope she doesn't have a toxic gas detector in here, or we're done for," rebuked Angus. "I swear that tree just grew 3 feet and changed colors 5 times."
"Someone call a tree surgeon," Victor joked and still no one laughed.
"I am sorry," interrupted Hello Kitty™ girl. "I do not have much human food. I do have some leftover -- what you call pizza -- if you like."
"That would be perfect," Tommy insisted.
However, it was nothing that the MOPS members would recognize as pizza. There was some sort of language problem as what she brought was more like tater-tot casserole. The men were going to be good guests and not going to say anything, but that would be not like Victor.
"Ew!" he cried. "That's not pizza -- that is a Minnesota hotdish. Do you have anything else?"
"I am going to have something similar to Kyuri To Wakame No Sunomono," she replied. "I do not know what it is called in your particular human language."
"I guess I'm not hungry," replied Victor.
"I'll try some," injected Tommy.
Out of a device that was probably equivalent to a refrigerator, she pulled out what looked like a cucumber and seaweed salad. She made two plates and Tommy graciously ate the salad as a side dish for the casserole. Angus had enough hotdish to be satisfied as well. Victor -- went hungry.
Once the dishes were cleaned, the quartet headed to the courthouse. The MOPS members waited in the now familiar waiting room. Hello Kitty™ girl entered the secure area and was ushered into a room where Kelly and the prosecutor were waiting.
The prosecutor said some things to the translator, and the interrogation continued. Hello Kitty™ girl re-translated the charges, but the square dancing in a roundhouse was not there. Apparently, in this charge they used a few euphemisms. These did not translate well. Thus, the new charge was translated to hunting a cougar on public land. She also mentioned something about a small caliber rifle, which did not help any and still did not make any sense.
"I did not do any of those things," insisted Kelly.
"We have witnesses that place you at the scene of each of these events," translated Hello Kitty™ girl. "It is of no use denying it."
"While I may have been at the scene," replied Kelly. "I was not responsible for these acts."
"Are you saying that someone else perpetrated these crimes?"
"Someone else had to."
"So are you admitting you were there?"
"What? -- no!"
"Do you deny that you were the ringleader of a gang that inflicted the public with these crimes?"
"Huh? Gang? What?"
"We will get to the bottom of this when we collect the rest of your gang who goes around calling themselves the Mystic Order of Pumpkin Slayers."
"They are probably in the waiting..." Kelly began before catching himself.
"What? That is quite bold of them hiding here in plain sight -- guard!"
Some words were exchanged between the guard that entered and the prosecutor. Soon, the guard returned bringing the shackled remaining MOPS members into the interview room.
31: The words go "Tote that barge, and lift that bale -- get a little drunk and you land in jail."
With Kelly and an interviewer already in the room, another member of the local police brought in the three other MOPS members. This new interviewer remained, likely to take advantage of a popular interview technique.
The MOPS members took seats around a table in the secure interview room. Hello Kitty™ girl looked at a clipboard and translated, "Your gang is charged with breaking and entering, breach of promise, dangerous disposal of deadly chemicals, impersonating a deity, kidnapping, and fishing for tuna in a non-dolphin safe manner. A few other charges are pending -- including stalking a young co-ed."
Naturally, the MOPS member denied everything. They were not even sure what the whole fishing for tuna charge was referencing; although, they had ideas about the other ones. Nonetheless, they did not want to complicate matters, so they kept quiet.
The local officials grilled the members of MOPS for a few hours, but did not get anywhere. Well, the MOPS members received a grilling as much as Hello Kitty™ girl could translate it. The effectiveness of the good-cop -- bad-cop interrogation attempted by the local constabulary was lessened with the young Hello Kitty™ girl attempting both parts.
Eventually, they came to an impasse. In other words, they gave up. Thus, the officials left the room to discuss what would happen next.
"Thanks a bunch -- Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano!" whispered Tommy.32
"What?" asked Kelly.
"Yeah, thanks for ratting us out Joe Valachi!" responded Angus.33
"Huh?" inquired Kelly.
"Yeah -- you squealed like Paul Lynde," added Victor.
"Okay, now I'm really confused," replied Kelly.
Angus looked inquisitively at Victor and asked, "Paul Lynde?"
"He was the voice of Templeton -- the pig -- in Charlotte's Web - the movie..." explained Victor.34
"Oh!" exclaimed Tommy. "Yes, very funny -- and pertinent."
"I guess I'll be the ass and point out that Templeton was the rat and Wilbur was the pig," interrupted Angus.
"I just didn't want to be left out," explained Victor. "And you guys took the obvious ones..."
"But -- Paul Lynde?" asked Angus. "The joke might have worked better if you gave the pig's or rat's name. No might about it -- it would have. Even if you had the wrong character name, either rat or squealer would have worked in this instance."
"Let's get back to Porky here," Tommy insisted as he pointed towards Kelly.
"See how he did that," began Angus. "He took the pig theme and went with it."
However, before they could berate Kelly any further, the officials entered.
"Okay" said the official who acted as the good-cop.
He then said a bunch of other things that none of the MOPS members understood. They just stood there and shrugged. The "good-cop" used what could be called a hand to smack what could be called a forehead. He made some motion, and Hello Kitty™ girl entered.
"They are taking you downtown," she translated.
The "good-cop" pulled Kelly up from his chair and shackled him. Once Kelly was secured, the official pushed Kelly towards the door. One by one, the MOPS members were ushered out the door.
The bad-cop was waiting, and he pushed the members into a waiting vehicle. There were no windows in the strange alien vehicle, but there was plenty of room for each prisoner.
The MOPS members experienced some vertigo-type feeling, and then back to normal. After several minutes, they had the feeling again. They were ushered out of the vehicle into another cube of a building. From the outside, it looked like the previous building, but the inside told a different story. Well, it was a similar theme, but the story was different. Actually, it was a familiar story, but arranged differently. In any event, they were now in another governmental building of some sort.
The MOPS members were placed in a holding cell. After waiting a few moments, another navy blue individual entered and grabbed Victor. This official removed the shackles and placed Victor on some sort of stool-like pedestal.
"Okay say 'cheese'," stated the official with their strange alien accent.
He, she, or it began motioning for Victor to look at him or her or it. A flash startled Victor and he blinked. After a few seconds, the official looked at the image and mumbled, "Sassa rassa frassen ricken racken blinken blanken."35
The official reset the device he, she, or it was working, and pointed as sternly as was possible at Victor. "Okay say 'cheese'," he, she, or it insisted again with the strange accent.
This time, however, an indicated of a sort of countdown was given so Victor would not be surprised. Hence, Victor managed not to blink in this photo.
Thus, he went on to the next station. For some reason, they took elbow prints, and returned Victor to the holding cell. One by one, the MOPS members were photographed and elbow printed. Oddly, the officials never took any of the MOPS member's belongings. Each of them still had their weapons, and Victor still had his bucket.
Once they were finished with the photographs and prints, they went into a very secure room. They were glad to be free of the uncomfortable shackles. They were about to have more harsh words with Kelly when a very beige individual entered their cell.
"Gentlemen," he, she, or it began. "The charges against you are quite serious. You could potentially incur a very hefty fine. Since you have no money, this could require you to spend a quite a lot of jail time."
"Who says we don't have any money?" enquired Angus.
"Well I just assumed by the way you were dressed," replied the official.
Angus took out a handful of paper, and showed it to the official whose eyes lit up and he, she, or it turned a much more formal shade of brown. He took the stack of paper, and added it up in his head.
"Well, that changes everything," he, she, or it replied while signaling for another official. "I'll have you out of here in a matter of hours."
The official took the stack and handed three sheets back to Victor. The mood of the group changed dramatically. They forgot all about giving Kelly a hard time. Instead, they just rested silently and waited for the officials to release them. Despite the pleasant surprise of the impending release, they all managed to nap.
The sound of a somewhat subdued navy blue official opening the door awakened the sleeping MOPS members. They all scrambled from their resting spots, and anxiously awaited the news.
"Okay," he, she, or it said in a dejected voice pointing towards the way out. He may have uttered some other non-comprehended words, but they were too excited about leaving custody to enquire about the meaning of those words.
It was dark as they left the standard cube-looking government building. The building's door locked as they exited, and the MOPS members gave a few cries of joy as they walked away from the building.
It had been a full day, but they were fully rested and ready to go. The only problem was that they did not know where they were. They were free, but they were completely lost once again. This time, they had no point of reference to find their way back. Further, the government building was locked so they could not ask anyone there for directions.
35: A cultural reference to how Muttley used to express his displeasure.
"Well, we're dead," insisted Kelly.
"Don't be ridiculous," responded Angus. "I got a merit badge in orienteering. I can get us back to the convention hall."
"Okay Mr. Orienteering," replied Kelly. "Which way is north?"
"For that matter, which direction is the convention center?" added Tommy.
"Unfortunately, we'll have to wait for the sun to come up before I can answer the first question. However, we can walk around a bit to see if we find anything familiar."
"Well, I am not in the least bit tired," added Victor.
"What do we have to lose?" Kelly said.
"If we do not make it back to the Convention Center," responded Tommy. "Our bus may leave without us."
"I was asking a rhetorical question," replied Kelly.
"Oh," Tommy acknowledged.
The quartet walked around for several hours. They completely lost track of where they were, as they could not even make it back to the government building they had left. They continued to walk as darkness gave way to morning.
"North is that way," Angus pointed out as he looked at the sun.
"How do you know their sun rises in the east?" asked Victor.
"By definition," responded Angus curtly.
"Can we find someplace to eat?" asked Tommy.
"I am hungry too," added Kelly.
"Is that all you two think about?" asked Angus.
"Of course not," answered Tommy. "But we have been walking all night, and I'm too tired to think about other things."
"Also, it has been almost a day since he's had a gin and tonic," joked Victor.
"Gin and tonic!" came a cry from across the street.
"There is where we'll eat," stated Angus as if he knew the café was there all along.
Angus waved his remaining bills, and the staff brought course after course of food. Despite being early in the morning, Angus and Tommy had gin and tonics. Kelly tried to get some sort of juice, but was unsuccessful. He settled for soda. Victor's request for milk was right out! He too settled for soda.
The group ate until they could eat no more. Angus handed over the bills, and the quartet rested a while at their table. They enjoyed the early morning sun for a short time, and then they arose to continue their journey.
They asked a few people where the convention center was, but they got nothing intelligible back. They were no closer to finding their way back than they were in the middle of the night. However, fate soon smiled upon them. Kelly recognized a landmark. It was the statue they had seen the first night.
"Are you sure?" asked Tommy.
"I stopped here for a bit -- waiting for you guys to catch up with me," replied Kelly. "Remember the Japanese tourists?"
"Nope," answered Tommy.
"I have vague recollection of it," added Angus.
"Just up that way," pointed Kelly "is that busy section where we first saw Hello Kitty™ girl."
"No," replied Angus pointing in the opposite direction. "It was that way."
"I remember it clearly," assured Victor pointing in a direction 90 degrees to Angus and Kelly. "It was that way."
"You were drunk," insisted Tommy pointing in the remaining direction. "Clearly, it is that way."
"Okay, let us think about this logically," insisted Kelly.
"That leaves you out," Angus said sarcastically.
"No hear me out," answered Kelly. "Since we got here, lots of improbable things have happened."
"Like Victor getting lucky?" asked Angus.
"Exactly," replied Kelly. "Everything we have been through has been very improbable -- a pseudo-impossibility -- if you will."
"So what you are saying is that we are still in that impossibility bubble Gogle spoke of?" inquired Tommy.
"Precisely!" replied Kelly. "And you know what that means -- don't you?"
"You mean..." Angus answered in disbelief.
"It is true," Kelly said with great confidence. "Victor must be right about the direction."
"No way!" exclaimed Tommy.
"It does make sense," added Victor with a nod.
Thus, the three MOPS members followed Victor's directions and he led them directly back to the convention center.
The cougar who got to know Victor quite well, was flirting with a navy blue individual who was supposed to be guarding the entrance. He, she, or it completely missed the four MOPS members as the entered the building.
They spotted Gogle at the far end of the hall still standing at his table. A small group had gathered around him. As the MOPS members approached, they heard him say, "And many of them say that they evolved from apes..."
The group around him burst into laughter.
"Hey wait a minute," interrupted Angus. "You guys don't believe in evolution?"
"Heavens to Mergatroid, do not be ridiculous," replied one of the group. "Everything in the universe evolves."
"Language evolves, technology evolves, there is not one thing we know of that does not evolve," added another member of the group around Gogle.
"You would have to be crazy or deluded or ignorant to not believe in evolution," finished Gogle.
"So what is so funny then?" asked Victor.
"Do you believe you evolved from apes?" asked Gogle.
"Of course!" insisted Victor.
"But," Gogle answered. "You *are* apes. Why not go a little farther back on your family tree?"
"Hey! I'm an octopod" added one of the group. "I evolved from an Octopus. Duh!"
"Is it so shameful to say you evolved from -- say -- rodents?" asked one of the group.
"Okay okay," answered Victor. "You made your point -- so can we go now?"
"Go where?" asked Gogle.
The group did not experience the same sensation as they had when they found themselves at the Intra-Galactic Comic and Gaming Convention. However, they found themselves talking to the individual with the booth pointed towards the wall. They were back on earth -- their earth.
"How long have we been gone?" asked Angus.
"Gone?" asked Gogle. "Did you go somewhere?"
"You know darn well we did," insisted Tommy.
"Alright -- alright," replied Gogle. "So you went on some sort of trip. What is it to me?"
"Was it a dream?" asked Kelly.
"According to the clock on the wall," added Angus "It must have just been a few minutes."
"So it was all in our heads," insisted Tommy.
"Then what about this?" asked Victor as he raised the shiny bucket.