Some people say that in space, no one can hear you scream.
"Yippee!" Kuki cried as she sailed through non-air, clutching her oddly pony shaped rock. "Get along lil meteorite!"
What do those people know anyway?
Picking up her chatter over the communication link, Abby looked up. She scouted the vast void, her eyes darting around everywhere until she finally found, and settled, her gaze on Kuki. "Numbuh Three, get down from there. Last thing we need is you drifting off into space."
"Don't worry, Numbuh Five," Kuki waved off. "I'll be careful!"
Abby sighed, the small tuft of breath fogging the inside of her helmet. "Just get down so we-"
"Hey, Numbuh Three!" The girls both turned to the new voice, and were graced with the sight of Hoagie floating in, saddling on his own chunk of space debris. The boy held up his arms, narrowing his eyes as he looked down the sights of his imaginary rifle. "This here galaxy ain't big enough fer the two of us!"
"C'mon, really?" Abby said. She frowned as she realized the two had completely tuned her out in favor of their pretend game of Space Rodeo. Figuring she was getting nowhere, she surveyed the area looking for their leader. "Numbuh One, talk some sense into them…Numbuh One?"
She saw no sign of the bald boy and began to worry. It was so un-Nigel like for him to ignore her calling. Before she could start to panic, she noted a small shadow passing over her. Curious she looked up, and her concern soon turned into annoyance.
Nigel cruised smoothly through the stars, though nowhere near as high as his other teammates. He balanced himself atop a fleet sheet of rock, bending his knees and acting as if he was surfing across the cosmos.
"This beats the beach any day," he said to himself, amusement written all over his face. He then got the distinct feeling as if something was boring a hole into his head. He turned to the source and was met with Abby's dead stare. He raised a brow. "What?"
The girl shook her head before lowering it into one hand while pointing towards Hoagie and Kuki with the other. Nigel followed her trial, and caught on quickly.
"Oh fine. Make me the bad guy," Nigel said with a roll of his eyes. The boy kicked his foot against the rock, sending it sailing into the void while he used his rocket boots to propel him down to the surface. He landed next to Abby, then dusted himself off before looking up at his friends. "Numbuh Two, Numbuh Three. Get down from there. That's an order."
"Aww," Kuki whined, yet proceeded to do as she was told. She patted her meteorite horsey before sadly floating down, if that were possible. Both Nigel and Abby winced with a twinge of guilt as she approached them, both silently wondering how Kuki always managed to make them feel bad for spoiling her fun.
Hoagie, on the other hand, would garner no such sympathy as he crossed his arms defiantly. "Spoilsports. I'm staying right where I am. I'm better with a bird's eye view anyway."
Nigel growled at the outright refusal of his order. "Numbuh Two, get down here this instant."
"I will come up there!"
Abby let out a strained noise as she threw her hands up, deciding to settle with the fact that she got one of them down, at least. Her hands instinctively snaked down to her pockets, attempting to find some sort of lollipop before remembering she couldn't exactly do that right this second.
It was then out of the corner of her eye that she noticed a small rock slowly floating upwards into the air. Followed by another one. She looked down to see the cause of the disturbance: Wally. The boy was low on the ground, crawling around and looking under every nook and cranny he could find.
"No," he grumbled as he looked under another rock, obviously displeased to find nothing. He turned to the next one, only to be met with similar disappointment. "Shoot! Not here either."
Seeing Wally reminded Abby of why they ventured out here in the first place. Seeing him also reminded her that he was also the very reason they doing any venturing to begin with.
"So, be level with me, sport. Why exactly did you drag us all the way out here?"
"Jus' doing what you guys told me to do," he mumbled, not once looking directly at her in favor of continuing his search. "Retracing my steps from yesterday."
Abby was about to say something, then closed her mouth. It went agape once more, then shut. Finally, "You mean to tell me you came to Pluto yesterday?"
"Wouldn't have brought us here if I didn't."
"Which begs the next question," Nigel asked, putting Hoagie off as a lost cause as he turned his attention to more pressing matters. "Why were you on Pluto yesterday?"
"Geez! Look, it was Saturday. I was bored. Numbuh 86 left the keys to her ship in the ignition. Things happened!" Wally said, the never ending line of questions frustrating him to the point of giving up his search. He opted to sit cross legged, angrily pouting at the ground as he folded his arms. "You don't see me diggin' into your personal life."
Nigel closed his eyes, slowly inhaled the manufactured oxygen his helmet provided, then choose his next words carefully. "You're right, Numbuh Four. It's actually very rude of us to poke around. What you fail to understand, however, is that we kind of have to dig around in your personal affairs because you somehow LOST THE KEYS TO THE TREEHOUSE YESTERDAY!"
"Yeah," Abby chipped in. "Smooth move there, butter fingers."
"I wouldn't act so high and mighty if I were you, Numbuh Five," Nigel said, suddenly turning his wrath upon her. "You were the one who gave him the keys in the first place!"
Abby held her hand up defensively. "Okay, okay, look. Numbuh Five may or may not have made some questionable decisions Friday night. One of them being handing the keys over to Numbuh Four so she could go see that new movie."
"Are you going somewhere with this?"
"Look the point she's tryin' to make here is this:" Her hand suddenly snapped to point an accusing finger down at Wally. "It's his fault."
Wally was, rightfully, offended by this. "Hey!"
Meanwhile, Kuki had taken up sitting on a stray formation. Her head rested in her hands, and her eyes dully gazed at the pebbles she was kicking around. "I'm bored. Can we go home now?"
"Not until we find the keys, Numbuh Three."
"Right," she said. She then glanced over to Wally. "Numbuh Fouuuuur, where did you put the keys?"
"I don't know! That's what I'm trying to figure out!" Wally fumed, his outburst nearly giving him a jump start into orbit. "You think I wanna be here anymore than you guys? I wanna hurry up and find those stupid keys 'fore the aliens show up and eat our brains!"
"Oh for the love…" Nigel groaned. "Numbuh Four, how many times do I have to tell you? There are no such thing as aliens!"
Meanwhile on Earth
Gabe blinked, suddenly looking from his hand and scanning the room. A strange feeling had washed over him out of nowhere.
On the other side of the table, Numbuh Infinity took notice, slightly curious as to what brought on Gabe's odd behavior. "Numbuh 74.239, what are you doing?"
"You ever get the feeling you're being talked about?"
"All the time, actually," Infinity answered before shuffling his cards. "Comes with the job and all."
Gabe still didn't like it, but begrudgingly decided to let whatever was bothering him slide. "Guess you're right."
"Would you quit stalling and play?" a third voice spoke. The boys glanced over to see their third companion, which appeared to be some sort of agitated plant thing. Her beady eyes narrowed as her pot leaned against one vine, while other fanned the hand of cards she had been dealt. "My cells are gonna shrivel up over here before you make a move."
Gabe frowned. "What of it? I still don't acknowledge you as part of this game until you decide to follow the 'two hands only' rule we established."
The plant being shifted her eyes. "I have no idea what you're-"
Infinity sighed. "Just do it, Numbuh Vine."
"Oh, be that way!" There was a sudden flash of light, and in the plant's place was Lizzie, mockingly batting her lashes in Gabe's direction. "This better?"
"It'll do. Now that I know you can't cheat…" The scientist of questionable origin laid his hand down on the table, smugly spreading his hand out for all to see.
Lizzie blinked, and almost felt sorry for what she was about to do.
"Wow really?" She put her own cards on the table and laughed at Gabe's flabbergasted expression. "Who needs to cheat when you play bad hands all night?"
"I'm in my human disguise! What more do you want, root for brains?"
Lizzie and Gabe's impending squabble came a halt as they looked over to Infinity. The child sat satisfied with himself, a small smirk present as he motioned down to his own cards. The two leaned forward, only to pale once they realized what happened.
"This is inconceivable!" Gabe spluttered as he watched his friend rake in the pile of candy on the table. "How does he always do that?"
Lizzie huffed. "I'm telling you, it's some human trick. There's no way he can always beat us every single time."
Infinity paused, then lowered his shades as he looked around. The two became intrigued as he checked under the table, as if he was insuring no one was listening in. After a moment, he cupped his hands around his mouth and ushered them closer. "You guys wanna know the secret?"
They nodded rapidly, the suspense driving them mad.
"Well, the secret is that you two utterly suck at this game," Infinity smirked. He went back to collecting his winnings, shrugging off their heated looks. "Not my fault you insist we play this every time we get the chance to hang out," Infinity said as he spooned the candy into the paper bag at his side.
Lizzie and Gabe frowned, shared a look, and nodded as they began shuffling the cards. "Best two out of three!"
Meanwhile with the peanut gallery
"She don't know how and she don't know why," Abby said while making exaggerated hand motions in Wally's direction. "But Numbuh Five is somehow not surprised that you of all people would lose the keys to the treehouse on Pluto!"
"We don't know that yet!" Wally shot back. "Still can't find them, so they probably aren't here."
"Well, I didn't see 'em on the dark side of this rock." They all peered upwards to see Hoagie floating in from across the horizon. The boy had made himself comfortable on his makeshift ride, his arms resting behind his head as he enjoyed the view of the glittering stars overhead. "Then again, I really couldn't see too much of anything over there."
"Ugh," Abby groaned. "Numbuh Five still says we should hit up the Moonbase and request a spare set."
"You and I both know that would takes days," Nigel said. "And I can't afford to wait that long. There's a ton of maintenance forms I still need to sign before Monday!"
"Yeah! And my best Yipper cards are stashed in my hanger."
"And I gotta get all my dirty socks for my mom to wash or she's gonna ground me for a buhmillion years!"
"And the hamsters haven't been fed since Thursday!"
"Well what else are we supposed to do?" Abby asked. She angrily kicked a stray rock out of frustration, the object flying upwards and bouncing off of Hoagie's meteorite. He began spiraling out of control, but his yelps were ignored by all below. "We've been going in circles all day!"
"Y'know what? Forget this! I'm gonna do what I shoulda done in the first place," Wally grumbled as he fiddled around his spacesuit. "Where did I put that cruddy key finder?"
If it were possible, the soundless vacuum that is, well, space, got even quieter. Nigel's jaw slowly dropped, Hoagie had halted his screaming to stare downwards dumbfounded, and poor Kuki could only slowly sit up from her seat as her eyes widened in shock.
As for Abby, the girl looked ready to blow a gasket. Her left eye twitched as her fists clenched and un-clenched rapidly. With the anger radiating off of her, those surrounding her –sans Wally, who was fumbling in his pockets – briefly wondered if it were possible for a Kids Next Door operative to go supernova.
"I…I'm sorry," she said slowly, "what did you just say?"
"I said I'm looking for- Ah ha!" He held up his prize victoriously for all to see. "Gotcha!"
"…is that the treehouse key finder?"
"No," Wally answered, sending a dry look Abby's way. "It's the key to Rainbow Monkey World."
Nigel finally shook himself out of his stupor enough to speak. "You've had that the entire time?"
The blonde only raised a brow, deciding to answer his leader slowly. "Yes. I've had this the whole time."
Abby's teeth were grinding against one another at this point. "Then why didn't you tell us before we came all the way to Pluto?"
"I tried!" Wally said. "But as soon as I said I lost the key, you all started yelling at me! 'Ya gotta be more responsible', 'look in the last place you had it' 'retrace your steps so we can find it' and blah blah blah! You guys have been ordering me around all day and pumping me with so many questions that it's a flippin' miracle I've been able to get a word in!"
Kuki titled her head, absorbing everything her friend just spouted off. "He has a point."
Abby and Nigel shared a look. The day catching up with them, the two leaned against one another, back to back, and slowly slid down to the ground and contemplated just staying in that pathetic position forever.
"Wally just…just turn on the key finder so we can go home."
"Ya don't have to tell me twice!" Wally then turned to where he believed Earth was located, and held down the button until the device started beeping.
Meanwhile on Earth
"And there we are," Father proudly said, setting the cake down upon the table. His hands dusted off his 'Kiss the Cook' apron, and he admired his latest baked masterpiece; a simple black forest cake adorned with vanilla icing with tiny cherries placed around the surface. It almost brought a tear to his eye.
"Now do you see, my Delightful Children," he said as he bent over, using his finger to carefully light the candles lined up in the center. "This is so much better than wasting all my money broadcasting your cake consumption to all the ungrateful brats of the world." He suddenly paused, a pain moan escaping his lips. "Time Warner is still sending me bills from last year."
"Yes, Father," the Delightful Children agreed with a twinge of reluctance. They were privy to the most delicious cakes in the entire world, they should be able to rub that fact into the faces of every snot-nosed brat from coast to coast. Though, as their eyes locked with the treat, mouths watering, they supposed they would let it slide this time. "Still, we must admit to being surprised Sector V hasn't barged in trying to steal our delicious birthday cake like the brutes they are."
"Sector V this, Sector V that. Children, I hate those no good whelps as much as the next villain, but sometimes you just gotta enjoy the small moments where they're not constantly being a pain in our sides," Father went on. A small part of him wondered why the five hadn't busted down his door yet either, but it was Sunday, and he figured he was owed a break.
"And now, to top off this wonderful occasion with some good ol' fashioned ice cream!" He did an abrupt about face, heading towards the fridge. Even as an adult, Father could admit that cake should never go without a healthy portion of ice cream. He opened the freezer, ready to pop open the stock he just bought the other day…
…only to look on shocked as empty cartons tumbled out of the fridge into the floor. He slowly looked down, processing the fact the ice cream he didn't even get to eat was already gone.
The Delightfuls began to slowly lower themselves under the table.
"Who…Has…Been Eating! MY! ROCKY-?" he paused mid-rant, his flames dying quickly as confusion replaced his fury. He bent over and fumbled in one of the cartons, and raised a brow as he dangled a pair of beeping keys between his fingers. "What the-"
Meanwhile on Pluto
"And there!" Wally cheered as he got a signal. "Got it! Let's blow this stupid rock."
"Yay," Kuki exclaimed while the first and second-in-command let loose a relieved sigh. The girl then turned towards Hoagie, waving him down. "Come on, Numbuh Two! We found them!"
"Finally!" he said. "Lemme just get off this thing and I can go start the-"
Down below, the children looked to see what cut off Hoagie, only to gaze on amazed as their pilot seemingly ran into a solid wall of nothingness. He tumbled downward, too shocked by what just happened to even bother shouting.
Wally's eyes followed his friend all the way down until he landed in front of them. "Did…did you just run into space?"
"Uh," he blinked, his face contorting in surprise, "yeeeaah?"
"That's impossible," Nigel said. It was then he noticed something odd about their surroundings. "Wait a second, did it just get darker?"
"Yeah," Abby joined in. "And where did all the stars go?"
The five looked towards the endless expanse of sky above them, only to find all the stars that illuminated their little outing had vanished. After a moment of fruitless searching, they stared at the spot where Hoagie had seemingly collided with space itself.
His brows knitting together, Wally became fed up with the silence, and reached down to chuck a pebble towards the same spot. They all waited with bated breath for the rock to hit something, and unfortunately, they would not be disappointed.
They rock ran into something with a soft plink! Bouncing off the same 'wall' Hoagie had ran into.
Suddenly the ground began shaking, the whole dwarf planet seemingly collapsing underneath them. The quakes stopped as quickly as they came, and then that's when it happened. The 'wall of space' in front of them snapped open to reveal a giant, glowing eye staring down at them.
Wally fell on his butt in shock, while Hoagie found himself suddenly petrified. "…eep!"
Despite the complete and utter wave of terror that had befallen her, Kuki rose a shaking hand to offer a quick suggestion, "Back to the ship?"
Nigel and Abby continued staring into the eye before simultaneously saying, "Back to the ship."
The two jumped from their seats and bolted, Kuki immediately in tow behind them. Wally managed to scramble to his feet, making a quick retreat with his team. Hoagie stood there, frozen in place with fear. Wally reappeared at his friend's side, lifting the boy over his head, and sprinted back towards the ship with Hoagie not reacting in the slightest to being hauled around.
While Sector V made their swift exit, the eye seemingly blotting out the sky peered around the void before it. Had the five had a universal translator-ma-bob, they would've picked up on the following conversation.
"Oh man, where are those keys?" the booming voice nervously mumbled. The eye kept searching the area, the fleeing spec of a ship so small that it didn't even pay it any mind. "Numbuh Seventh-Quadrant is gonna be soooooo mad when they find out I lost the keys to the ship."
"So, be level with me, man," another voice called out somewhere behind the first celestial being, "why exactly did you drag us all the way out here?"
"I'm just taking your advice and retracing my steps from yesterday."
"You mean to tell me you came to Sol System dash Two Three Seven yesterday?"
"Wouldn't have brought us here if I didn't."
"Okay, better question: why did you come to Sol System dash Two Three Seven yesterday?"