Hubert Melee and Samuel Somthingorather in-
The Jumbled Jungle.
It was the Pterodactyl's fault.
After the mysterious case of the submersible dirigible, Samuel and Hubert were riding their twin turbine sky skimmer- Hubert piloting, goggles obscuring his grizzled features; while young Sam perched on the fuselage, the wind tousling his hair and sending his long, reinforced lab-coat streaming out behind him. Our heroes were just passing over central Africa in their in their sky skimmer, when Samuel spotted a dark blotch off the port bow.
"It looks volcanic-" He yelled to Hubert over the roar of the rotors "-but there isn't even a fault line for hundreds of miles."
"Smoke is smoke, it could be a forest fire." Hubert yelled back from the pilots seat;
"And get down from there! One stray thermal and you could get blown right off!"
Samuel's laugh was lost on the wind.
"Not a chance. Wind is six knots west south west, it's not about to change in a hurry."
Hubert scowled- supervising the young master could be a trial sometimes.
"So why are we going by this way anyhow? I didn't know we had anything planned- I thought we were going home after we busted that platypus smuggling ring."
Samuel didn't answer and after a minute had passed, Hubert glanced up.
"Something the matter?"
Samuel's face had turned serious. He swung down off the wing and braced himself next to Hubert in the pilots pit "I think we have a problem."
Hubert glanced sideways at his young charge "What kind of problem."
The Pterodactyls dived through the cloud-cover above them, flanking the plane.
Samuel nodded to the lizards "A Dinosaur problem. Where's my blaster?"
Hubert racked his memories- "The picnic basket, next to the strawberry Ja-"
The Lizards on either side pulled closer and then without any warning, a third pterodactyl swooped down, hitting the nose of the skimmer at full speed.
The skimmer, being light, didn't react well to a massive lizard landing on it- the force of the impact sent it into a wild tumbling descent.
As the aircraft approached the canopy of the jungle, two figures detached themselves from it.
Parachutes bust out from each, saving them from a messy fate.
Their avian attacker wasn't nearly as lucky. Try as it might, it couldn't pull itself free.
Plane and lizard hit the canopy and disappeared from sight, punching a hole in ocean of vivid green leaves that formed the roof of the forest and producing a crash that startled birds from their roosts for miles around.
Samuel and Hubert on the other hand, had a bit more trouble. There's a reason that most people don't parachute out of planes over dense jungle.
Hubert and Samuel hung, suspended by their parachutes, twenty meters above the forest floor.
"Well. Now will you please tell me why we're here?" Hubert threw up his hands, the motion causing him to swing back and forth like a pendulum.
"Relax. I got a telegram from the Lady Isobella." Samuel was twisting in his harness, looking for a way out of their predicament.
Normally, getting tangled in a tree simply means cutting your primary chute and then dropping to the ground.
However, rainforest trees tend to only have one layer of branches at the very top of their trunks.
So for Hubert or Samuel to just cut their chutes would mean a fatal fall to the forest floor.
For a heavyset adult like Hubert, this would have been quite a problem- but Samuel was young and light enough to pull himself up using the strings of his tangled parachute.
By hanging upside-down in his harness, he was able to twist the cords into a loop around his foot- which he then used as a brace. With his bodies weight used to keep tension on the line, he reverse-belayed himself all the way to the leaf-shrouded branches above.
Once he made it to the canopy, he braced himself on the branches and using a knife, began to cut lengths of the parachutes cord, tying them on the branch over his head.
As the minutes crept by, Hubert began to get impatient.
"Don't leave me hanging, Sam!"
"Doing my best Hue!" the boy yelled back.
Hubert barely noticed Samuel's answer. This could have been for any number of reasons- but mostly it was the snake.
The reptile was a brilliant emerald green, almost invisible against the leaves of the canopy, but quite visible when slithering around the twisted cables of a parachute.
The shock of the shout set the strings shaking and the snake hissed in exception.
"Any time now-"
The canopy shook and then Samuel appeared, having jumped from his tree to Hubert's.
Sliding down the lines he grabbed the snake as he passed, gripping it just behind the head and using his own momentum to pull it free- allowing him to fling it away.
Hubert flinched as Samuel landed on his shoulders.
"As grateful as I am, aren't you worried that all this shaking will pull my parachute loose of the branches?" Hubert twisted and turned as he spoke- Samuel was doing something behind his head.
Samuel leaned over Hubert's head and gave him an upside-down grin.
"Don't worry. I know what I'm doing."
"I hope so. I'm about to pull your release."
Hubert had about two seconds of horror, before Samuel released Hubert's primary chute and sent both of them accelerating towards the forest floor.
To Hubert's surprise and relief, they didn't fall all the way. After a few meters there was a bone bruising jolt- and in the same moment Hubert's reserve chute inflated, drastically reducing their momentum.
Before they hit the ground, Samuel jumped off Hubert's back, performing the correct five-point tuck and roll a parachutist uses to minimize injury.
Hubert didn't bother with fancy moves, he bore the impact with a grunt and then fought to extricate himself from the parachute's material.
By the time he'd untangled himself, Samuel was already surveying their surroundings.
"Partner in crime, would you mind getting us a bearing?"
Hubert nodded, unzipping his leather flying jacket he reached inside the pocket of his embroidered waistcoat and produced a polished brass cylinder.
Opening the lid of the compass, he frowned. The needle wasn't pointing north- it was spinning.
Hubert tossed the compass to Samuel.
"Well, you don't see that every day." The boy scratched his chin.
Hubert folded his arms and started tapping his foot, impatient.
"Something the matter?" Samuel inquired mildly.
"You have a plan."
Samuel shrugged "What makes you think I have a plan?"
Hubert was brisk; "You always have a plan. So, what is it?".
The boy grinned at his partners impatience.
"Simple. Obviously someone's started pulsing a magnetic field around here- but you don't need the earth's magnetic field to find your bearings."
Samuel pulled out his pocket-watch and flipped open the face.
"If you point the hour hand of a watch at the sun, then half-way between that hand and twelve o'clock is south; and of course if you know one direction, you know them all."
"Samuel has made a rather elementary mistake-" Both Samuel and Hubert spun, their hands instinctively grasping at the empty holsters at their hips. Isobella was leaning against a tree nearby, holding the snake Samuel had tossed only moments ago. Her dark hair was tied back and she was dressed sensibly for exploration in cream cotton and brown leather. "-He was navigating as though he were in the northern hemisphere. And Sam? I don't mind snakes, but as a greeting, I'd prefer a simple hello."
Hubert and Samuel relaxed.
"If you don't mind my asking, how exactly did you find us?" Hubert inquired, politely.
"Well, the explosion was a hint. I just had to estimate where you would have bailed out, based on the direction you here heading in when your plane was still airworthy. Did you know you hit a Pterosaur?"
Samuel coughed "Pterodactyl, not Pterosaur."
"Pterosaur, they're a genus of reptiles, not true Dinosaur's."
"The head-crest was definitely-" "Who's the biologist here?"
"Geniuses, please. I'm sure that this is all very important, but maybe we should focus on avoiding the flying predators?"
Hubert's intervention, however unwelcome, was effective.
"My main camp is about three miles from here. C'mon, we're burning daylight."
Isobella broke into a brisk trot, leaving Samuel and Hubert to follow on behind her.
"I wish I'd brought my collecting bag, then I wouldn't have needed to hold this fine fellow by the throat all the way here." Isobella dropped the snake into a shallow specimen box and slid the lid shut swiftly.
Her marquee was a fairly basic affair, spacious enough to hold dozens of cages, pair of long tables and a camp bed.
Most of the cages were empty.
Samuel peered inside one and then straightening out, looked at Isobella quizzically.
"I'm here to study, not capture. Besides, I'm on my own out here, if I had to feed and clean and care for captives it would eat through my time and supplies."
Hubert rapped on the newly caged snake's box.
"Not so tough now are you? Little scaly rapscallion."
The snake hissed and struck out at the mesh, causing Hubert to recoil.
"I'd be careful if I were you, Hubert, that particular tree dwelling snake is a green mamba. I've been meaning to catch one for a while, but as they live in the canopy it's no easy feat- They are also decidedly venomous."
That was Isobella, who'd busied herself searching through an umbrella stand filled with rolled up papers. Having found the one she wanted, she pulled it free of the stand and took the meter long tube to the long table, unrolling it and motioning for her guests to pin down the corners.
It was a topographic map, about a meter squared and hand-drawn.
Isobella coughed, "I haven't had a balloon for some time, but when I did, I was able to get a good idea of the lay of the land. My camp is here." She tapped the centre of the map with her forefinger "You crashed somewhere in this area." She circled a large area to the southeast with her finger "And that mysterious mountain belching smoke-" "Volcano" "-don't think-so, not this far from a fault line. That's up here. It would take a day, maybe two to get there on foot, so I haven't had time to check."
Samuel had been mostly silent for a while now- finally he asked; "Why are we here?"
"Deep question." Isobella shrugged "But I'm going to stick to biology, not theology."
"I can't believe I'm going to say this, but don't play coy with me- What was so important that you needed me to come out here directly?"
Hubert looked at Samuel in disbelief "You didn't know? She didn't say? We detoured through half a continent to get here, and you didn't ask why?"
Isobella was beginning to look sheepish.
"My work here, is, well- mostly harmless. Nothing for anyone to worry about, so long as I do it quietly and out of sight." She twiddled her fingers. "But the local animal population doesn't seem to be seeing it that way, they've been getting aggressive…"
Samuel's face fell "You called me out here to deal with troublesome wildlife?"
"And a teeny bit, um, mutated."
Hubert and Samuel blinked, exchanging glances.
"What was that last part?"
"Mutated. The animals are getting mutated. It's just plain weird, and since it started when the mountain took up smoking and the Pterodactyls started attacking everything more than three feet off the ground."
"You knew? Why didn't you tell us, I could have blasted them!" Samuel's indignant words struck sparks off Isobella.
"NO! No blasting, I'm not going to go back to the museum of natural history with a pile of charred bones and say 'Sorry, they were alive, but Samuel somethingorather decided that his toy plane was more important than an entire species!'."
"Well, if you don't want me to blast things, why else would you call me?"
"Protection! I get the feeling that something's driving the mutated creatures against me." Isobella stepped away from the table and with her back to the wall of the tent, threw open her arms.
"You two are the only ones who could handle something like this in time- or at least I really hope you can, because I'm certain they will strike soon!"
Something snapped, beyond the border of the tent- and a large, black, leathery arm covered in hair punched through the canvas behind Isobella and grabbed her bodily.
Samuel and Hubert leapt forward, but they were too late, Isobella disappeared through the tear in the cloth.
"Danmation!" Hubert cursed, pushing himself to his feet.
"Hang it!" Samuel was already there, pushing open the hole in the tent.
Man and boy saw the creature loping off into the trees. It was neither giraffe nor Gorilla. But a combination- a Gorilaffe.
"The Deuce!" Both man and boy cussed after the retreating mutant.
After a moments quiet introspection, Samuel coughed awkwardly.
"I guess she was right."
Many more inexperienced heroes, upon having their hostess abducted by a mutant primate-ungulate hybrid, would immediately set about after it, hot on the abductors proverbial heels.
Samuel and Hubert were not inexperienced. Long practice had taught them that you very rarely succeeded in immediately rescuing distressed damsels- and such successes were usually short lived, as whoever did the capturing trapped all three of you.
No- it was best to plan these things in advance. Besides, the creature was a gorilla and a giraffe; A combination of two plant eaters, a double herbivore. Such a thing was more than unlikely to gobble up Isobella while Samuel and Hubert got down to the tricky business of planning their rescupade.
That, and lunch- it was almost twelve o'clock and our heroes had skipped breakfast.
"We have two priorities here." Samuel announced, tapping the map with his spoon "One, we must find the sky-skimmer and see if she can be repaired and prepared for take-off. Two, we must find another one of those curious creatures and capture it! Three, we use it to get Isobella back and Four we all escape on the plane."
Hubert could see a flaw in that plan beyond the arithmetic "Why the plane first?"
"All our equipment is in it- and what's more, if these creatures are intelligent, then they may not give us time to repair it after we recapture the Lady Isobella."
"Alright, but what if we can't repair the damage caused by those flying fossils?"
"Then we salvage the balloon from Isobella's camp, patch it up and then use it for lift. Then our engines can provide us with enough thrust to get us to the nearest settlement, we can do some real patchwork and be back at the estate in time for tea."
Hubert was still sceptical.
"If these things aren't intelligent, then how are we going to use one to bargain for Isobella?"
Samuel's face turned serious "If they won't bargain, we will stop being civil."
Hubert cracked his knuckles. There was a plan he could get his teeth into.
"The problem is, finding our plane quickly-" Samuel tapped his teeth, deep in thought.
"If only the plane could radio us." Hubert grumbled "Then we wouldn't need to blunder about looking for it."
Samuels face lit up. "Ah! Of course, it can radio us! If you left the transmitter in the skimmer on, and if it's intact and getting power, then we can triangulate its location!"
Hubert didn't share the enthusiasm "That's a lot of ifs-"
"Have some faith, old boy!" Samuel was busy gathering up materials "We'll just need to jimmy together a couple of receivers and then with a bit of luck we'll be back in business."
"So you say." Hubert watched as Samuel cannibalized Isobella's equipment for their components.
Samuel held up a row of resistors to the light, turning them this way and that to see if they were intact. "Have faith old friend. Have I ever let you down?"
Hubert snorted "Nanjing." He held out his hand, ticking off his fingers as he spoke "Malaya. The Narwhal incident on the HMAS Dawnbreaker. Oh and how could I forget our last trip to Cairo- or how you got us banned from Oxford! How about the Piccadilly trolls?"
Samuel waved his hand dismissively " Water under the bridge, literally and metaphorically; In any-case Oxford rescinded the ban later, there was an amnesty."
"That's not the point! You lost their gymnasium!" Despite his indignation, Samuel still paid Hubert little mind, staying focused on jimmying together his device.
"It's not like anyone was using that old thing. Anyway, they found it again later didn't they?"
"Sure, they found it, five miles away! How is anyone supposed to-"
A high-pitched whine cut through the air, stopping him mid-sentence.
"Well, I'm getting a signal," He glanced at a dial he'd wired onto the outside of the receiver, "and it looks like it's coming from the right direction!"
Hubert prodded the device "How does it even work?"
Samuel favoured him with a pitying, patronising glance "Simple, the two antennas are precisely thirty centi-meter's away from each-other." Hubert's eyes began to glaze over, as Samuel enthusiastically explained "Thus, when a signal, such as the one we're receiving, is received, it goes through both of them and by measuring which antenna received the signal first, I can work out in what direction the signal came from."
"Oh." Hubert feigned understanding "Is that all?"
"Well of course, with better equipment I could measure distance as well, simple trigonometry."
"Of course." Hubert agreed dryly, more to quiet Samuel than out of any desire to agree with him.
"Step lively then faithful friend, we've got a plane to catch!"
Hubert lingered for a while after Samuel had rushed from the tent, taking the time to roll up the map and also, turn loose the snake- which slithered away without so much as a backwards glance.
He had a feeling that they wouldn't be returning to the encampment for quite some time.
While Hubert showed the venomous reptile the door, Isobella was beginning to feel more than a little cross. Having been tucked under the arm of the aberration for what felt like a very long time indeed, she was delivered into the claws of a Pterosaur. Which, while no more comfortable than the armpit of the beastly combination of primate and ungulate, should have offered an unparalleled opportunity for observation.
Of course, there is quite some difference between 'should' and being dangled from the claws of a prehistoric reptile, string to jot down notes and figure out if it's fore-caw was longer or shorter than it's grasping claws.
They were approaching the Volcano when she poked it's foot with her pencil- causing the creature to glance down at her.
" 'scuse me up there, would you mind performing a shriek for me- it's for science."
The Pterosaur obliged, giving a cry that sounded like tearing metal.
Wincing, Isobella jotted down her observations and stuffed her notepad in the pocket of her britches as they descended into the smoke.
The black cloud stang her eyes, making them water, though the creature bearing her seemed un-phased. Perhaps that was how they survived the colder era's, sitting snug in volcanic roosts.
But why wasn't it hot? She should have been really feeling the heat from the volcano now she was inside its smoke-plume.
Isobella's realisation came only moments before the Pterosaur burst out of the smoke and into a grand cavern.
To call it a cave would be deceptive; it was no mere natural cavity in the rock, but a lair. Machines whirred and hummed on gridded steel platforms, supervised by Pterodactyls.
Industry? That's just not possible! They don't even have opposable thumbs, let alone the cranial capacity necessary for complex thought!
Isobella was becoming quite seriously confused. A mutant animal controlled by members of an extinct species- this situation was becoming more and more preposterous by the moment.
Samuel hopped over a fallen log and stopped dead- Hubert, who'd been following closely, had to throw himself sideways to keep from barrelling into his young charge.
Picking himself up from the dirt, Hubert glanced up at Samuel, grumbling "What'd you have to go and do that for?"
Samuel nodded toward the forest ahead.
Following his gaze, it took Hubert a moment to see what had made Samuel stop in his tracks- they were surrounded by a semicircle of mutated animals. Hippo-bears, massive grey-skinned blocks of muscle; Birdsnakes, slithering through the air or coiled around branches; Preying-monkeys, flexing their fore-claws and chittering, hair sprouting from the joints in their green carapaces; antlions, shaggy golden manes surrounding a flat bulbous head with foot long pincers; and finally a rhinoserat, it's long pink noes quivered and shoot at the end of its pointed head- which was adorned with tusks. It's stumpy little legs raised dust with every step and even as our heroes watched, it's tail reached up and tore the limb off a tree, bringing it down for the creature to gnaw on.
Hubert smoothed his mostache and unzipped his jacket, hanging it on a protruding branch.
Samuel followed his protector's example, removing his lab-coat and unbuttoning his collar.
Hubert finished his preparations by removing his waistcoat and hanging it over his jacket.
The pair turned to each-other and shook hands.
Isobella had been delivered into a holding cell. It was surprisingly well furnished, as such cells went; since she met Samuel, she'd become something of a connoisseur.
This one was no crumbling back room or droughty castle tower, this was a shiny steel box, newly fabricated and free of even the tiniest mote of rust.
The centre of the room was occupied by an elegant wooden canopy bed, at the foot of which lay a large ironbound linen chest.
She was beginning to suspect that unless these reptiles had been picking up notions from human culture, they were not the brains behind this operation.
Walking around the bed, she found that the beside table had a slice of ginger-cake on a china plate, a small knife and a pad of butter accompanied it.
Isobella felt a deep pang of suspicion. Her favourite food. Her captor knew her.
Turning on her heel, she stalked to the linen chest and after a moment's hesitation, threw it open.
Atop the neatly folded clothes within, there was a note, written in a delicate hand.
Upon reading it, her face fell. Of course it was him.
Samuel redid the top button of his collar.
"Well, that was jolly." He commented, shrugging on his coat.
Hubert dusted off his knuckles and adjusted his moustache.
"Hrmph. A waste of time if you ask me. We would have had more trouble if they hadn't been mutated."
Samuel nodded "I noticed that too. This is nothing to do with the environment."
Hubert retrieved his own waistcoat and jacket "Really? Know whodunit yet?"
"Not quite." Samuel admitted "But I have my suspicions. In fact, I had my suspicions ever since we picked up a signal with my device."
Hubert stopped short in the act of sliding on his jacket "What? Why?"
"Because even if the radio was left On it wouldn't actually be broadcasting- only receiving. Maybe I could ping it by sending a signal-" Samuel picked up his device "but I didn't need to. The moment I started this up, I got a really strong signal. I'm pretty sure it isn't the plane."
Hubert blanched "But if it isn't the plane, what have you been leading us towards?"
Samuel walked forward, his eyes on the device. He pushed aside a long fronded fern and then glanced over his shoulder at Hubert.
"That my friend can be answered, if you would just look right over here."
Hubert, confused and annoyed, nonetheless approached Samuel and looked over his shoulder.
"Well. That's something you don't see every day."
The Sky-Skimmer was at the bottom of a shallow depression in the forest floor, light pouring down onto it through the gap in the canopy it punched during its chaotic descent.
The creature that brought it down was still pinned by the wreckage, still struggling.
Hubert bristled "I suppose we'd better put that thing out of its misery- Be careful Sam!"
The boy was already sliding down the shallow slope to the craft. The Pterosaur snapped at him, but he was already climbing the wreck and grabbing it's neck.
"As I thought. It's him."
The reptile stiffened and then collapsed.
Hubert frowned "Is it dead?"
"It was never alive. It's not even a real dinosaur- it's a Robot!" Samuel grabbed the robots beak and pulled the head down towards himself.
"And I know just who sent it!" Samuel declared, peering into the deactivated mechanoid's eye.
"-Devinvanvon! I should have known!" Isobella glared at her captor.
Devinvanvon's pterodactyls had come for her and tied her to a steel pole on the edge of one of the largest platforms- a platform that also happened to support a gigantic Ray-Cannon.
"Lady Isobella- How did you like the present I left you?"
"Lovely. You know, out of all the villains Sam's ever gotten me mixed up with, you're the only one to have clothes tailored to me in advance." She glared at him "I would have rather burned them, if it wasn't for the note."
Devinvanvon laughed "Why would you destroy such a pretty blue dress- of course, I didn't really leave an explosive device to kill you if you didn't change- that's so passé."
Isobella's scowl deepened "Oh, really? That's strange, you usually at least try to make good on your threats."
Devinvanvon giggled "True! It was actually neurotoxin. But anyway, onto business! I didn't capture you and get you all dolled up to simply join me for an evil luncheon- No, this time I've done it! I've finally constructed a contraption that will allow me to dominate the earth! I present to you;
"So it's him again. Are you certain?"
"The wiring for this little toy has his name all over it." Samuel commented offhandedly, pacing his way about the wreck.
"Is it really so distinctively made- you can tell from just that?" Hubert was impressed by how easily his young charge had made the call.
"Well, I suppose I could, but it helped that he's had 'Property of Dr. DevinVanVon' printed on everything."
Hubert could hardly believe it, walking over to the creature to examine it himself. Once it had been deactivated, Samuel had worked it over, opening up every section of panelling he could to assess the extent of the damage- peering inside an open leg joint, Hubert tugged on a loose wire, pulling it out and examining it. " 'Property of Doctor DevinvanVon.'-" he read aloud, squinting as he moved along the thin wire " 'Editor for the; Mwahahaha maniacal monthly digest, Chairman of the board for Insidious Etiquette and columnist for the Evil Times. Coordinates to lair programmed inside, please return if found.' He's really become a pillar of the community- at least, the evil community.
Eh Samuel? Samuel!"
Samuel grinned at the wreckage, having tuned out everything his guardian had just said.
"Yes, this should do nicely. I do declare that the plan has changed, we shall fly to Isobella's aide at once! "
Hubert did not share his masters enthusiasm "The wings are shot. The rotor is barely functional and the whole plane is garnished with a robotic reptile."
Samuel hopped onto a log and took his burly guardian by the shoulders.
"Ah but my dear Hubert, can't you see, there's just no stopping my ingenuity!"
"You're going to sing. I don't care if it's involuntary, I'm not joining in this time."
Hubert fumbled in his coat for a pair of earplugs- but Samuel knocked them from his hands before he could insert them.
"Soon we'll be soaring through the air, heroes all without a care-
But a task to recue damsel fair, from the peril of a villains lair!"
"Danmmit all, it'll never fly, the laws of physics do not lie-
A plane is heavier than air, and it's not heroics that keep it up there!"
"Hubert, can't you see? In the midst of chaos lies opportunity!
We have canvas, we have wood and we're on the side of good;
With our endeavours evil shall ever be denied!
Break out the tools, bring out the imagination-
some might call us fools, until they see our creation.
Great men have always dreamed of flight and that dream will see us soaring in the morning light!
"Samuel, Canvas? Wood? Without a rotor and a motor, how is that any good!
Your ambitions may be lofty but no-matter how hard you try-
I'll tell you once and I'll tell you again, that plane's never going to fly!"
"Everything was impossible once upon a time-
but the impossible was made possible once we tried!
We have metal, we have oil, we have hands with which to toil!
With ambition and will- and a task to fulfil:
We break out the tools, bring out the imagination-
some might call us fools, but not once they see our creations!
Great men have always pondered flight and the knowledge they gleaned will see us right
Together we'll craft our craft anew! Together we'll fly as pilot and crew-
and we'll rescue Isobella from the villain's lair and together we'll return to England fair!"
Hubert leaned on the log "Fine. But personally, I still don't see how you're going to make that lot airworthy."
Samuel sighed and scaled the wreck "Have faith Hubert- Science, Knowledge, invention and improvisation- all shall provide." Rummaging in the remains of the luggage compartment, he brought out a large black leather bag with a clasp handle. "And tools. Tools help, you can start with the disassembling while I draw up the plans.
The smoke was dying away around the mouth of the lair, and the Dn-Ray humming with pent up energy, crackling around the barrel and occasionally spawning green bolts of electricity that earthed themselves into the metal decking.
The charging cannon was not aimed directly at Isobella, but that didn't make things much more comforting.
"Isn't it wonderful. Soon, you and the rest of the world will be easily controllable mutants. I'll sit on a platinum throne, maybe blow up a continent or two if I get bored." Doctor Devinvanvon had acquired a flat, circular hat while the cannon charged. That should have been Isobella's first warning for what was to come- but all the same, she gave the time honoured cry;
"You'll never get away with this!" Yelled Isobella, struggling against her binds.
"Au contraire! I already have!" Doctor Devinvanvon chuckled "Allow me to explain why… In song!"
Isobella rolled her eyes.
"Oh please. Do you have to-"
Devinvanvon snapped his fingers, causing a robot pterodactyl in the ceiling gantries to focus a spotlight on him.
"Dearest Isobella can't you see, there's just no escaping my villainyyy."
"With my supreme intelligence and a DN-Ray I'll begin my offense
To change the world to a shape of my desiiiigggnn.
Yes, it's true, I tell you this day Is miiiinnnneeee."
"I don't care what the hell you say, every scheme you've ever had has gone astray!
I don't know much about your perspective, but I'm pretty sure that one thing I can expect is-
No matter what your plan, you'll never get your way, 'cause Hubert and Sam are Gonna save the day!"
"I'll admit my preteen nemesis has triumphed until now- but this time there's no way I can go down-
I've got an army of robot Terasaurs, I got a ray that subverts natural laawwws, I got a hostage, I got a plan, I got an evil base, so in your face there no way that this scheme can be dennnieed-
I'm gonna win this time-
With my supreme intelligence and a DN-Ray I'll begin my offense
To change the world to a shape of my desiiiigggnn.
Yes, it's true, I tell you this day Is miiiinnnneeee."
"I don't know, just why or how, but I'll tell you this right now-
Samuels gonna foil your scheme, It doesn't matter how bad it seems
We'll shatter your twisted dream and destroy your doomsday machiiiinnnee!"
"How can you be this naïve, Science doesn't care what you believe;
My machine is principally sound, it'll flip your DNA right round!
And if it wasn't already indicated, that means you'll be mutated-
With my supreme intelligence and a DN-Ray I'll begin my offense
To change the world to a shape of my desiiiigggnn.
Yes, it's true, I tell you this day Is miiiinnnneeee!"
Before Doctor Devinvanvon could launch into his next verse, a deafening roar rolled in from the mouth of the volcano lair.
Isobella looked at her captor sourly "Are you quite finished?"
"What in the name of all Evil is that contraption!"
Isobella, bound to a steel pole with her back to the entrance, couldn't see what the doctor was getting worked up over- but his face said it all.
"It's Samuel. Isn't it." She was undeniably smug.
"Shut up! You're still a hostage! And I still have everything I just sung about- all I need to do is give the word and then your precious Samuel and-"
An explosion rocked the platform.
Isobella smiled- Devinvanvon was always brilliant and evil, but he had the attention span of a Chiwowa.
Devinvanvon slashed his hand through the air "Air forces marshal! Surround the plane! Pengineers, reassign power from the grid to pick up the load, with that generator gone, we need to shut down all our nonessential systems to keep the capacitors charging!"
Devinvanvon grinned evilly at Isobella "Just you wait. I bet that it won't be more than five minutes before they're in my hands."
"What's the bet?"
"Figure of speech. But I suppose you could say you're betting anyway- you've put your DNA on the line in favour of him."
He fished in his pockets and brought out a remote.
Tapping it, the pole Isobella was secured to rotated, showing her the scene in the air of the lair.
Pterosaurs flapped and screeched, forming an impenetrable cloud around the intruders.
Blasts of energy lanced though from the centre of the mass, searing in all directions, scorching ceiling, floor and machinery alike and sending many dinosaurs spiralling down as smouldering wrecks.
The plane burst from the cloud of reptiles, diving at the platform.
The sky-skimmer had been converted…. Into… she didn't have any words to describe it, because there had been nothing she'd ever seen previously that even remotely resembled it "What in the name of the Inverse Squared Law is that?"
Atop the heap of that, Samuel was crouched proudly, holding onto the head-crest of the pterodactyl they'd integrated into their machine while firing in every direction with his blaster… And grinning, grinning like he was having the time of his life.
Devinvanvon snapped his fingers.
"Of course! Ah-ha!" fumbling around he brought out another remote, which he aimed at the pteroplane.
"Nice idea, but my children always obey ME!" He yelled, pointing the remote at the fast approaching plane.
With the tap of a button, the plane veered away, almost causing Samuel to fall off and forcing him to drop his gun as he struggled to hold onto the crest.
"Escort my guests from the landing pad! If they resist…" he paused to think and then shrugged,
"Eh, Figure it out for yourselves."
"Couldn't think of a threat?" Isobella
"I don't need threats. I have an army. Of dinosaurs!"
"For the last time, Pteradons and Pterasaurs are REPTILES not dinosaurs!"
A Pterasor landed on the platform, holding Samuel in its talons.
"They look like dinosaurs to me-"
Isobella rounded on Samuel "What was with your entrance anyway, you just came in here, guns blazing- I thought I told you I needed this colony intact!"
Samuel huffed " Excuse me for shooting, but I didn't think all that applied to robots."
Hubert was carried over by two robotic reptiles not a moment later.
"Hubert, are these things really robots?"
"Circuits and motors all the way through m'lady."
"Oh. Sorry Sam-"
The increasingly impatient Devinvanvon interrupted "I just told you that! It was in the song for crying out loud, 'An army of robot Pterosaurs!'"
Isobella inclined her head apologetically "Sorry, I must have missed that part."
Hubert nodded to Doctor Devinvanvon "Musical number? You too?"
Isobella and Hubert exchanged the looks of the long-suffering.
"No matter! You'll have no choice but to be attentive once my ray is at full capacity! You'll all be turned into hybridized mutants!"
Samuel and Hubert looked at one-another "Should you tell him or should I?"
"Tell me what?" Devinvanvon asked suspiciously.
"Yeah, the whole hybridized mutant thing, the animals that you sic'd on us in the forest were actually really easy to take out." Samuel informed the villain apologetically.
Devinvanvon shrugged "A side effect. Fortunately, if everything in the world is mutated, barring my stunning self, then they'll not only be too weak-minded to resist me, they'll be too feeble to revolt!" Our heroes nodded in understanding "Fair enough. Makes sense. So what would you do about ET's?"
"What about them?"
"If the entire planet is too weak to revolt, then doesn't it mean that you'll be too weak to defend the planet from extra-terrestrial invaders?"
"Eh, that's a bridge I'll burn when I come to it." Devinvanvon shrugged.
Hubert coughed "Hey, I'm not exactly a genius, but if you don't mind me asking, how is a ray supposed to cover the earth?"
Devinvanvon sighed "It's not that complicated, I set up retro-reflector's on the moon! When my ray is fired into the sky, it will hit the moon and be diffused over the entire world!"
Samuel raised his hand "Hang on a moment here. One, wont that only hit the side of the earth that's currently facing the moon?"
Devinvanvon rolled his eyes "Well of course! But this ray has enough juice in it to keep firing through the entire twenty four hour period, thus ensuring that the entire earth is inescapably covered!"
"Wait," Samuel interrupted, "I'm not finished yet. Don't you realise that retro-reflective panelling won't diffuse your beam?"
Devinvanvon frowned "It won't? But, then what does it do?"
Isobella piped up "Well, actually, aren't those made so that no matter the angle of incidence, your beam reflects directly back at you?"
Samuel shook his head "Close, but what really happens is the wave front is reflected back along a vector that is parallel to but opposite in direction from the wave's source."
Hubert looked around "Am I the only one here who had no idea what he just said?"
Samuel sighed "Basically, yes, he'd be shooting himself.
Isobella looked at Devinvanvon pityingly "You really didn't think this through did you- I mean, even if they did diffuse your ray, then how would it help if the moon was on the opposite side of the earth?"
Devinvanvon sank to the decking.
"Oh well- at least I'll have the pleasure of destroying you three. It's such a shame, putting those reflectors on the moon was really expensive."
Samuel leaned towards Isobella "He really Is a good sport about all this. I'd hate for him to get disheartened one of these days. "
Isobella twitched a little "Just go foil his plan already."
"Actually, I can't."
"Just kidding- Here we go!" Samuel flipped a screwdriver out of his pocket and stabbed backwards into the chest of the creature holding him. The robot sparked and fizzled as the chrome plated tool pierced vital components of its inner workings.
Devinvanvon dashed to the controls of his cannon, while Samuel reached into the pocket of his reinforced lab-coat.
"Everything's got a weak-point! And when I took a look inside your robots, I figured out what theirs is- they're following a command frequency! They have no autonomy at all!"
Hubert was struggling with his own captors "Just jam the bloody signal Samuel!"
Samuel produced a cobbled together tangle of electronics and depressed its trigger.
There was a rather awkward moment when nothing much happened- until Sam whacked the device soundly with the flat of his hand.
Immediately all hell broke loose within the lair as the pterodactyls control orders were replaced by white noise. Dozens fell from the ceiling gantries, crashing into the platforms and destroying machinery.
Devin van von pounded the controls for his ray "Curses! Hang it all! Next time I'll be shelling out for the quick-charge capacitors, you can be sure of that, Next time!"
His cries fell on deaf ears as Samuel freed Isobella, while Hubert charged ahead, making a path through the mayhem towards the landing pad where the Pteroplane waited.
"All aboard! Fire up the engines!" Samuel jumped to his customary position atop the plane, while Isobella took the co-pilot's seat behind Hubert.
"Hey, this, is a plane, how are we supposed to take off from here?"
Samuel laughed "Simple, we made a few modifications!"
The plane's wings twisted, turning the engines from horizontal to vertical, spinning up to speed and raising the plane straight into the air.
"How's it handling?" Samuel yelled to Hubert over the roar of the engines.
"Feels like a monster!" Hubert yelled back- the plane itself choosing that moment to open its mouth and let out a triumphant scream.
The plane rose through the mouth of the volcano lair, it's wings turning back horizontal and sending it accelerating away from mountain, even as it was wreathed in explosions.
"So Isobella, anywhere we can drop you off?" Samuel, lay down and leaned over the top of the wings, forcing her to look up at him from the co-pilot's seat.
Isobella smiled up at him "Where're we headed?"
Samuel shrugged. "Back to somethingorather estate. There's going to be a party. Bleh- dancing. Music. Buffet tables."
Hubert chuckled "Now that last one I don't mind."
Isobella had to giggle "So it's more fun to fight evil than attend a family get-together?"
"Well, yeah. At least with evil I'm pretty sure I can win." Samuel propped his head on his chin " but with family, no plots, no schemes, no evil, no nothing." He rolled over "Booorrrinnngg."
"What about last new-years?" Isobella suggested "Your great uncle George animated that Venus- flytrap and it was chasing everyone around the house. It ate one of your cousins."
"It spat him back out, but you're right though, that was a fun new-year." Sam rolled over, keeping a firm grip on the edge of the wing.
Isobella rubbed her chin "Are you, in a roundabout way, trying to invite me to this celebration of yours?"
Samuel leaned his head back so he could look at her upside-down "Yes. Would you, please? I mean, whenever we're together…"
"Awesome stuff happens! It's like you're some kind of magnet of chaos and… and schemers!"
Isobella rolled her eyes "Wow. Thanks."
"I mean it in a good way, C'mon Pleaaasssee?"
"Oh fine, it's not like I've got something else to do anyway."
Sam punched the air "Yes! Score!"
Hubert tapped a his instrument dial with a knuckle "Boys and girls, as nice as the pretty party sounds, I regret to inform you, that we are running out of fuel. Should have topped up at his lair."
Samuel laughed "Oh that's nothing, we'll solve that in a minute flat."
Extending his hand to Isobella, he pulled her up onto the wing.
"With a hi hi ho and a hi hi hay, we're bound to be close you see-
For Samuel will stand on the wings and say, heroes is all we can be."
"Don't try to run, it's all said and done, there's a bad-guy in sight:
Isobellas in a bind, hope you don't mind-
But we'll rescue you after a bite!
We're on our way, all for one, one for all-
Heroes will stand and Villains will fall!
With a hi hi ho and a hi hi hay, we're bound to be close we three-"
Isobella silenced Samuel by grabbing him round the neck.
"You stopped to eat BEFORE you came to my rescue?"
The ensuing silence was broken by the plane.
Cough, Cough, Splutter, Screech!
"Well that can't be good."
The Pteroplane snoozed in the hanger of the Somethingorather Estate- It was late evening and in the ballroom of the manor-house, the grand party was in full swing. A worldwide gathering of Somethingrathers- who were notorious for their venturesome pursuits, was an odd vision indeed.
Men in dark suits chatted with white haired explorers, still wearing their pith-hats and dressed for the savannah, women wearing war-paint chatted with high-society duchesses in their full regalia.
In such a crowd, Samuel, Hubert and Isobella, their clothes still sporting the scorch-marks they'd picked up on the way to the estate, barely warranted a second glance.
Hubert had gravitated to the buffet table, while Samuel and Isobella had initially drifted away from one another- the tide of the party eventually brought them back together as the orchestra struck up another number.
Samuel offered his hand "Shall we?"
"Don't step on my toes- do you even know this dance?" Despite her complaints, Isobella took his hand- other pairs were forming up around them and there was nothing worse than exiting the dance floor during a song.
As the orchestra struck their first note, the windows burst inwards. Attackers swathed in black cloth rappelled down the walls to surround the edge of the hall.
Samuel, still holding onto Isobella, dashed towards the rear stairs- but the doors to the hall burst open, revealing yet more attackers.
Samuel glanced around, looking for a way out- and spotted Hubert, his face as white as a sheet.
Samuel grabbed his shoulder and shook it.
"We've got to go!"
"It's no use- He… It has found me."
The people in black released canisters of gas into the hall.
In under half a minute, the entire Somethingorather Clan had been sent to sleep.
Hubert was one of the last- with a mighty push, he sent Samuel, and Isobella, who'd collapsed atop one another, sliding under the Buffet table and out of sight.
"Good Luck." He whispered, lapsing into unconsciousness.
When Samuel awoke, he felt a weight on his chest. It was Isobella.
Rolling her off, he tried to sit up- only to nut himself on the roof, which served as a catalyst for a ferocious headache.
It was black as pitch- Except for a patch of yellow to his right. He pushed at it and felt softness.
Moments later he emerged from underneath the table-cloth, to see the light of dawn spilling through broken windows… and into an empty hall.
Isobella crawled out behind him, rubbing her eyes.
In the dawn light, the world was crystal clear.
"So what now?"
"Huh?" Samuel turned to her "What do you mean 'what now' all the Somethingorathers, bar myself, have been kidnapped."
"Well, you rescue me- so what do you usually do about now?"
Samuel thought about it.
"You know, it really seems to me that Hubert should be captured more often, so that you have a bit of experience for times like these."
"Well, I'm a fast learner. What's the first step."
Samuel moved to the table that had sheltered them and sampled a dish "First. Breakfast."
Join us in their next adventure, the Steam-Powered Shinobi And its Clockwork Ninjas!