At the WOOKIE headquarters, Caterpillar was following Wuffles into the basement of the building, where the reality regulators were kept.

"They're really not hard to work," Wuffles said, "There's a giant switch to turn the machines off or on, and then there's a manual override button in case of emergency."

"What kind of emergency?"

"Have you ever heard of the term 'freak accident'?"

"Yeah, sure I have. What's that got to do with-?"

"If a 'freak' anything comes up, like a freak sandstorm or freak tornado, we use the manual override button to amp up the normality levels and keep it from spreading."

"So why do you guys need more than one?"

"Different things are 'normal' for different cultures. So we've got one for every country, with extra settings for large cities in that area. For example, we set the regulators to 'Stepford normality' for rich suburbs around larger cities."

"Somehow, that makes a lot of sense," Caterpillar said.

"Well, that's the idea!" Wuffles attempted something of a canine grin. It wasn't pleasant.

"So all of these regulator things have been turned off?"

"From what I could see, yes. And considering all the stuff that's been happening today, I wouldn't doubt it."

"Help me out, here. Why would Bacha do such a thing if he knew the consequences?"

"Beats me. Mr. Bacha's always very meticulous about his work. He's passionate about reality. I really don't know why he'd do something like this, unless…."

"Unless he was forced to," Caterpillar finished. "How much further?"

"Not much, just at the bottom of the stairs here, behind that door." A large green metal door stood at the bottom of the stairs. Caterpillar tried it and discovered that it was locked.

"Any objections to shooting it off the hinges?"


"Good." Caterpillar shot the door and kicked it in. "You guys have got to get some stronger doors."

There was no need for forced entry in Bacha's office upstairs. Moth and Cocoon got in without any trouble at all, only to discover that Bacha was not in his office.

"Shit. He's not here," Cocoon said.

"That much was obvious to me when I didn't see him," Moth said plainly.

"Oh. Right."

"Let's at least look around to see if we can find any evidence of something going on." Moth began looking through the drawers of the desk.

"So, this is the heart and soul of WOOKIE, huh? Looks pretty dank." Caterpillar said when they entered the regulator room.

"It's a basement. What do you want, shag carpet?" Wuffles quipped.

"Hell no. Shag is tacky. Hey, what's that?" Caterpillar pointed at something towards the end of the back row of regulators.

"I dunno. Let's check it out." Wuffles trotted back, with Caterpillar following. Wuffles gasped. A large, hairy creature in a ragged-looking suit stood catatonically by one of the reality regulators, like a robot awaiting instructions.

"Is that him?" Caterpillar asked. Wuffles nodded.

"Mr. Bacha?" Wuffles approached his boss. The creature turned slowly. His eyes were blank and his jaw had fallen slightly open. He slumped.

"Does he always look like a zombie?"

"This isn't the Mr. Bacha I know!" Wuffles exclaimed. He tugged on his boss' shirt. "Mr. Bacha? Mr. Bacha???" The creature's eyes suddenly came alive. He growled loudly.

"I…TOLD…YOU…TO…GO…HOME!" he shouted.

"Sic 'em, Wuffles!" Caterpillar yelled. Wuffles whimpered uncertainly.

"GRRRRAAAAWWWW!" Bacha shouted unintelligibly. He lunged at Wuffles, who bit into his boss' leg and clamped down. Bacha howled in pain. Wuffles removed his jaw enough to yell to Caterpillar.

"Go! Start turning on the regulators! Now! I'll hold him off!" Again, Wuffles bit into Bacha's leg.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Bacha shouted in pain, and tried to take off after Caterpillar. Wuffles refused to let go, and Bacha didn't get very far before tripping over the dog and falling onto the ground. Slowly he started crawling towards the first row of regulators…

Up in the alien spaceship, Elisa, Troth and the other escaped captives were hearing the forc

ed testimony of the alien lieutenant.

"Kansas is home to a secret organization that keeps everything normal all over the world."

"Well, they've certainly been doing one hell of a job!" Elisa shouted.

"The events of today are not their fault…they are ours," the alien replied. "We discovered this secret organization while doing research for our conquest of Earth. Our head of takeover programs decided that this group was the key in our attack on your planet. You see, the organization, I believe they are called WOOKIE," there were several sniggers here. The alien frowned, but continued.

"The organization is in possession of machines known as reality regulators. These machines are responsible for the level of normality in the day-to-day lives of earthlings across the globe. We were able to perform mind control on the head of this organization, a Mr. Chew Bacha." More sniggers. "We were able to make him turn off the reality regulators, thus deactivating the anti-alien shields in the Earth's atmosphere, making it possible for us to come and take over your planet, which we have been able to do rather successfully thus far, with no major snags."

"And that's your explanation, is it?" Troth asked.

"That, earthling, is the absolute and utter truth."

"Then why are you telling us everything?" Elisa asked skeptically.

"Because I don't want to get that poisonous spray in my eyes, isn't that obvious?" the alien said desperately.

"Wow. And I thought you were a coward, Troth."

"Hey, I just saved you. I could just as easily send you back to that horrid little metal cubicle if you wanted."

"You wouldn't dare."

"And why not?"

"Because I still owe you the rest of my cab fare," Elisa smiled triumphantly. Troth tried to glare at her, but he wasn't able to pull it off very convincingly. He turned back to the alien.

"I'm not going to put this away until you show us how to get out of here. Got it?" The alien nodded.

"Just don't spray me, okay? You just need to go over to this button panel here and…GUARDS!!!!!!!!!"

"Oh no you don't!" Troth pushed the trigger on the mace. Nothing came out.

"Bugger." He shook it and tried spraying again. Still, there was nothing. "Balls!"

"You're out!?" Elisa shouted.

"I must've used it all on the other guards." Troth looked panicked.

"I regret telling you our motives now," the alien growled, "But I am satisfied in the knowledge that you won't be troubling us much longer." As he spoke, there came the sound of hundreds of tentacled feet stomping down the halls of the ship. The other freed captives began panicking.

"We're all gonna die!" shouted suburb man.

"SHUT UP!" Elisa shouted, "Everyone get back in your cars!" She grabbed Troth by the arm. "You come with me."

"I don't think so," said the alien. He shot out a tentacle and grabbed Troth.

"Let go of me, you bastard!" Troth yelled.

"Resistance is futile."

"Troth, Quick! Do you have a security club in the cab?"

"In the trunk. There's a lever under the front seat…" Troth choked out as the tentacle around his middle tightened. Elisa nodded and ran towards the cab. As she passed one of the cars, the driver let down the window.

"What can we do to help?"

"If you have something heavy to attack with, that would be nice. A parking club, a tire iron, anything." The driver nodded.

Finally Elisa reached the cab. She pulled open the door, pulled the lever and went around to the trunk to grab the club.

"Hurry…" Troth grunted.

"I'm going as fast as I can." She ran up to the front of the docking bay, where the rest of the alien army was arriving.

"You are too late, Earthling," the alien lieutenant said nastily.

"Let go of my cabbie, scum," Elisa said simply. As a tentacle came towards her, she smacked it to the ground with the club, and smacked the alien lieutenant in the eyeball.

"AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" The alien dropped to the ground, its tentacle still tight around Troth, who was starting to look blue. Elisa dropped to one knee and managed to rip the tentacle off the cab driver. Troth took a big gasp of air.

"You okay?" Elisa asked.

"Umm…breathless…but I'm alive. You look good fighting aliens."

Elisa grinned. "You mean that?"

"Oh yeah. Very cool. Very Ellen Ripley and all that. Better get round to those others."

"Yeah, right." She stood up and turned around. The driver she'd talked to had emerged from his cab carrying a club. She noticed several other drivers following his lead.

"We'll distract them," he shouted, "You go find a way out." Elisa nodded.

"C'mon!" she picked up Troth by the arm, and they ran over to the button panel.

"I don't understand what any of these are for," he said.

"Just start pushing random ones and we'll see what happens," Elisa told him.

"Right." He contemplated for a moment and pushed a red button. A loud siren went off.

"Ooh. That didn't sound like the right one."

"Keep going!" Elisa pushed a blue button. Water sprayed from the ceiling. "Sprinkler system."

"What about this one?" Troth pushed an orange button. With much groaning, a large hole opened up in the floor of the docking bay.

"Yes! Alright, there's gotta be a tractor beam button around here somewhere…" Elisa pushed a green button. A loud musical horn sounded.

"Why is that even there?" Troth asked. He pushed a purple button. A column of light appeared below the UFO.

"You've found it! That's brilliant!" Elisa grabbed Troth and gave him a big smack on the cheek.

"Steady on!" Elisa backed off. They both stared at each other.

"Um, yeah. Sorry about that. Spur of the moment and everything."

"Let's…let's not think about that anymore, okay?"

"Yeah…Right. Let's just get out of here." Elisa turned around. "Hey, you guys! How's it going?"

"Fine, thanks!" shouted the guy from the suburbs. He whirled around and whacked an alien soldier in the head with a tire iron.

"Guys, we found the button. You can go now!" Elisa shouted, "Get back into your cars!"

"And then what?" shouted somebody else.

"Just…Just drive towards the hole, I think. It should just let you down slow."

"Why don't you go first and we'll all follow," an older woman said kindly before clocking an alien with a spare tire.

"You heard the woman," Troth said, "Go! Get in the cab!" Elisa nodded, and they ran towards the yellow taxi.

"How's it coming, Caterpillar?" Wuffles shouted.

"I'm at the end of row two," Caterpillar replied.

"You might want to watch out;" the terrier yelled back, "Bacha's getting pretty close.

"Can't you hold him off?"

"I'm trying. But I can't bite him much longer. You have no idea how bad this fur tastes."

"We need back up. How can we get hold of Moth and Cocoon?"

"You don't need to." Moth and Cocoon stood in the doorway, carrying their guns.

"Just give the word," Cocoon said, taking aim. Moth touched Cocoon's arm.

"Don't. Something tells me there's more going on here than we think. Go help Caterpillar with the regulators."

"I've only got a couple rows left," Caterpillar shouted.

"GET…OFF…ME…DOG!" Bacha shouted at Wuffles.

"With all due respect sir, I don't think you know what you're doing," the dog shouted, clamping down on Bacha's back. The WOOKIE director howled in pain.

"This guy's not right," Moth said, "Do you think he's under some kind of mind control?"

"We thought that might be the case," Caterpillar shouted, "How're you coming, Cocoon?"

"Only two more...Done!" As Cocoon turned the last switch, something like a seismic wave seemed to emit from the ground. Everyone shook and collapsed. Wuffles even let go of Bacha's leg.

"Ohhhhhh…" Bacha groaned from the ground He pulled himself up. No longer did his eyes look vacant. His jaw didn't slack. It was as if he had lost something from inside himself, and now had it back.

"Mr. Bacha!" Wuffles said happily.

"What the hell is going on here?" Bacha grunted.

"I don't know, Moth said, approaching him, "why don't you tell us?"

The last of the cars had descended from the alien spaceship. The various occupants had started up their engines and were driving away.

"Hey, how far is it to your house?" Troth asked.

"Not too far. About 12 blocks. I'm in that big apartment complex on South Underhill Avenue."

"Great." Troth turned the cab around and began driving at top speed again. All of a sudden, there was a great shaking.

"STOP!" Elisa shouted. Troth slammed on the brakes.

"Bloody hell! Look at that!" Troth pointed up at the sky, where the clouds had become an ominous blue-black. The sky seemed to crack, and the clouds retreated to show a clear blue sky. The alien ship shuddered and then exploded in a giant fireball.

"Wow." Elisa stared.

"So what was that all for, then?" Troth wondered aloud.

"I don't think we're ever going to know," Elisa replied. Troth shrugged and drove the rest of the way to the apartment complex.

Elisa stared up at the building, relieved. She was home. The sky was clear, there was no sign of alien spaceships, and she was home.

"Thanks," she said, "I'll go and get the rest of the fare money."

"Don't worry," Troth said, "I'm sure the company'll understand, considering the circumstances and all that."

"Oh. Okay. Thanks." Elisa started to open the door, but paused. "So, I guess this is goodbye, huh?"

"For now, Yeah. Hey, if you ever need a ride somewhere..."

"I'm not going to call you. You drive like a freaking maniac."

Troth smiled. "Well, I thought it was worth a try."

"Goodbye, Troth." She opened the door and got out.

"Hey!" he shouted, "What's your name?"

"It's Elisa," she called back.

"Right then. Well, goodbye Elisa. See you around." Elisa waved as the taxi pulled away and went inside the building.

"So the last thing you remember was aliens taking control of your mind?" Cocoon said.

"Yeah...I guess I must have turned off all those reality regulators because that's what they told me to do."

"That's pretty far-fetched," Caterpillar said,

"Yeah, well considering what's been going on today, I'd say it makes plenty of sense," Moth said. "We'll be keeping close tabs on this place from now on, Bacha. But right now we've got to get you to the helicopter. You'll need a doctor."

"It's good to have you back, Mr. Bacha," Wuffles said, "I'm sorry I bit you."

"That's alright, my boy," Bacha said, "You did what you had to do." Moth and Caterpillar helped Bacha to his feet.

"C'mon Wuffles. Our work here is done," Moth said.

"Do I get to go home now?" the terrier asked eagerly.

"Yeah, sure. Whatever. Cocoon, go ahead and get the helicopter started." Cocoon nodded and headed up the stairs.

"Will I be coming back Monday, sir?"

"Of course, Wuffles. We've got a lot of work to do. You're going to have to help me alert the other agents and tell them to come back.

"With pleasure, sir," Wuffles told his boss.
Things went back to normal alarmingly quickly. Tyler Greer's terrier was returned by helicopter. The natural history museum got their giant T-rex put back together in the main lobby, and the halls of S.K. high were again buzzing with students. The events of "Armageddon Minor" as the press was calling it, stayed in the news for over a month, with strange reports from across the world pouring in. There were tons of human interest stories on people who had saved the day, who had nearly been killed, or had some strange experience to tell. Elisa recognized a couple from her experience on the alien ship. She'd even been mentioned by several people once or twice, though not by name, since nobody there had known who she was. She didn't bother telling anyone. Somehow she thought they might not believe her. Besides, she didn't want the attention.

Neither, apparently, did Troth. Elisa hadn't seen any stories even mentioning him. He hadn't popped up in the papers, the news, or the memoirs people were selling. But after a while, things went back to the way they always had been. A few weeks later, Elisa was studying for her final exams at the Yaegopolis State University Library. It was clear across town, but they had the best library around, and you couldn't argue with that when you were desperate for information on how to work trigonometry problems. She checked out a few books and began walking down the street. It was then that she realized that she didn't have any extra money for a cab, and there wasn't a bus stop around for another six blocks. She was going to have to walk. Elisa sighed. She didn't relish the idea of having to carry the heavy trig books for another six blocks, but what choice did she have? She began the long walk to the bus stop.

Elisa considered what she was going to do when she got home. Probably study. She walked about another three blocks before she heard someone call her name.

"Hoy! Elisa! Need a ride?" She looked to see a bright yellow taxi pulling up to the curb.

"I don't have any money for a fare."

"Doesn't matter. You can pay me when you get back. Get in!" Elisa smiled.

"Fine." She approached the car and got in. "Just try to curb the crazy driving, okay Troth?"

"Sure thing, boss," he smiled. The cab pulled away from the curb and into traffic.