Crandall the Murderer

By Nintendo Maximus

Disclaimer: I don't own "Teamo Supremo", "DuckTales", or the villains in this story; Disney does, got it? The same goes for "Magical Tetris Challenge", which is also owned by Capcom. And "The Simpsons" is owned by Matt Groening, Gracie Productions, and 20th Century Fox.

Author's Note: For those who haven't owned a Nintendo 64, in the Disney-based video game "Magical Tetris Challenge", Bad Pete has the appearance as the leader of a mob, with his cohorts being his weasel companion from comic stories, and Zeke Midas "Big Bad" Wolf. I thought it'd be cool to see them playing the roles portrayed by Fat Tony and his gang, so that's when I decided to write this, my latest "Teamo Supremo" fanfic, which is also a parody of one of my favorite "Simpsons" episodes. I had to download a copy of that episode in order to really write this story, since I wasn't in the mood for buying the Complete Third Season DVDs just for this task. And since this story finds Crandall in the role Bart Simpson plays, it wouldn't work, since Bart is like a cross between Dennis the Menace and Calvin, and Crandall is one of Disney's more positive role models. Therefore, I've tried to keep this within the continuity of "Teamo Supremo". I should also mention that this story fits in several genres, as it has bits of drama, angst, romance, humor (well, maybe not), and action. I'm not gonna spoil anything more, so enjoy!


One average day in the state, a certain gang leader was participating in his usual activities of leading his gang.

"Get movin', you morons!" Mr. Large bellowed to his three minions from his limo. "We haven't got all afternoon to rob the electronics store!"

Ernie the Hat, Mickey the Shirt, and Rosie the Purse stared at their boss oddly. "Boss, I don't get it," Ernie spoke. "How do you expect to fit any of this store's TVs into the limo?"

"Put double espresso in your sippy cups," Mr. Large barked. "When I say I want my HDTV, I want my HDTV! And when I want my HDTV, I get my HDTV! So get me my HDTV!"

"All right, then," Mickey shrugged. "You're the boss."

But before Ernie, Mickey, and Rosie could bust into the store, they were suddenly knocked over by a flash of red and white. A flash of red and white that rang out "Chi-ka!"

Mr. Large apparently hadn't noticed the flash. "Get up, you idiots! You can't possibly be that clumsy!"

"Don't blame us, boss," whined Rosie. "This sudden flash of red and white knocked us down."

But before Mickey or Ernie could add on to Rosie's statement, they were suddenly snagged by a jump rope that coiled around them. During that, a feminine shout of "Wuh-pa!" came from not far away.

"Wait a minute..." Mr. Large put out his ear. "I recognize those battle cries. It can only mean one thing... or maybe two."

"Indeed it does," answered a third voice from out of the mobster's visual distance. Immediately, the bearer of that voice jumped in front of the tied-down gangsters. It was none other than Captain Crandall, the leader of the state's trio of crime fighters, known better to those of you reading this as Teamo Supremo. His two companions, Skate Lad and Rope Girl, showed up beside him.

Mr. Large threw open his door. "Bah! I should've known you kids would show up sooner or later."

"Oh, really?" retorted Rope Girl. "Ah'd say we arrived right on time."

"You know what I mean!" Mr. Large pulled twin pistols from out of his pockets and aimed them at the three kids. "Now dance!"

Bullets fired from the pair of guns, but less than a second before Mr. Large could pull the triggers, Captain Crandall had whipped out his Level 7 Shield. Barely denting it, the bullets bounced back and hit the mobster's artillery, blowing them up.

"Aw, crud!" Mr. Large fumed. "Those were the only weapons I thought of bringing! You little meddlers really burn my toast."

Crandall whipped his shield back into his pocket and tied up the leader of the bad guys with his Level 7 Yo-yo. "See what happens when you don't come properly prepared?"

-

Soon afterwards, the police arrived to arrest Mr. Large and his gang. And after that, the three members of Teamo Supremo resumed their normal identities.

"That zoom y'did to trip up the bad guys was some fancy work there, Hector," said Brenda Snyder. "This new upgrade to your skateboard's engines really got the job done!"

"You said it, amiga," Hector Felipe Corrio replied. "But I'm gonna need to pay back my papa for it. I had to borrow money from him to buy this upgrade."

"Indeed," Crandall Connors concluded. "But don't worry about it, Hector. I'm sure you'll eventually pay your dad back."

"Hmm, I guess so. See you tomorrow, amigos." With that, Hector skateboarded off in the direction of his house.

"Ah guess Ah'd better get goin' too," Brenda said, "but since Hector left first, Ah have a little somethin' to do before Ah do that."

Crandall looked at her. "What's that?"

The next thing he knew, Brenda had forced her lips onto his left cheek. After that incident on Valentine's Day, Crandall and Brenda had grown closer together, though they never really showed their romance to anyone else. But despite that, it was quite obvious to some of their confidants, such as Hector or Crandall's "Earth-sister", Jean. Crandall felt that he and Brenda could probably go out sometimes, but never officially be dating until they were at least well into their teen years.

After Brenda had finished her rather elongated peck on the lower left side of Crandall's face, the young would-be lovers headed homeward, waving to each other as they parted ways.

As Crandall was walking through the state, he looked up in the sky and noticed something odd about it. It was getting a little too grey.

Uh-oh, Crandall thought. Is Inflato at it again with those blimps of his?

As if in answer to Crandall's question, rain started pouring down from the grey clouds.

A grim expression came upon Crandall's face as drops of rain rolled down his brow. I guess not.

He turned around a few times, looking for a place to get in out of the rain. He figured that once he would, he'd use their telephone and call his parents to tell them that he'd be a bit late coming home. But first he needed a place to stay for the time being.

That's when he noticed a stairwell not far ahead. He ran down the stairs and found a door at the bottom. On the wall next to it was a bronzed sign that read, "The Legitimate Businessman's Social Club."

I guess this place will do fine, Crandall thought as he read the sign. He knocked on the door and said, "Uh, could I please come in? I need to get in out of the rain, and-"

But before he could finish his sentence, the door flung open, and all of a sudden, Crandall was knocked on the head with a gun barrel.

"Ooooh... look at the pretty Goldfinches..." Crandall staggered around loopily, like as though his noggin had been hammered by a gold-plated brick, before falling down, unconscious.

-

Several minutes later...

Crandall groaned as he opened his eyes. Upon his vision returning to him, he observed his surroundings and realized in his thoughts, Wait a minute... this doesn't look like a club for businessmen!

Indeed it didn't. Crandall was tied up to a chair in front of a wall. Right in front of him stood two anthropomorphized animals, standing on their hind legs. One was a wolf, and the other was a weasel. They were both dressed up like mobsters, and they were both holding guns.

"Alright, kid," the weasel demanded as he shoved his gun at Crandall's right ear. "We is demandin' that you tell us what you was doin' snoopin' around our digs, dig?"

"That's right!" snarled the wolf, doing the same with Crandall's left ear. "We're gonna huff, and we're gonna puff, and we're gonna blow your secrets out!"

Crandall stared at the two gun-barers. "Oh no, it's all a mistake. You see, I wasn't snooping. I just thought this was some sort of legitimate businessmen's social club. You see, I needed a place to stay until the rain stopped..."

"Oh, we'll give you a place to stay!" gloated the wolf, licking his lips.

"Yes, but I doubt you'll like it," added the weasel.

Crandall tried to back away as best he could. "Hands off, uh... animal gangsters!" He had a bit of difficulty trying to yell their names, considering he didn't know them.

Just then, a gruff-sounding voice came from behind the two goons. "Ease offa him, boys."

The wolf and the weasel backed away. "Sorry about that, boss," the weasel apologized. "Y'know, this kid's a little toughie."

"Yeah," said the wolf. "He's got himself a lot o' spunk."

"Oh, really?" The leader of the group stepped out of the shadows and up to his captive. A bead of sweat dropped down Crandall's forehead as he stared at the boss. The mobsters' leader was a large cat, who was obviously just as anthropomorphized as his two cohorts. He was clad in the same kind of mobster threads as them, but a bit fancier, in spite of the fact that he obviously hadn't shaved in a while. He also had a burning stogie hanging from his lips and a wooden peg in place of his right leg. He eyed his men and said to them, "Well, I wonder if he's lucky, also." He turned to face Crandall and asked, "Pick a horse, kid. We're putting two dollars on the third race. Make it a good one."

Crandall rolled his eyes left, then right. Not knowing what to say, he blurted out his usual battle command. "Uh... Teamo, scramble!"

"Teamo Scramble? Ah, okay, let's see..." The cat leader looked at a racing form, then got an angry look in his eye. "Wait a minute, you little punk! Teamo Scramble is in the fifth race! I said the third race!"

Again, not thinking of his dialogue, Crandall questioningly blurted out his battle cry. "Buh-za?"

"Hmm..." The cat turned to his wolf crony and said, "Buh-Za in the third. Put a deuce on him, Big Bad."

"Right, boss!" said the wolf.

The cat turned to face Crandall again and said, "While we're waitin' to see how lucky you are, kid, lemmie show you around. This is our bar..." At that point, he indicated the bar behind him. "...And over there is our slot machine..." There, he indicated the slot machine hanging on the wall between some framed photos and the bathroom doors. "...And that's our card tables." There, he put his hand out towards the card tables placed in front of the slot machine. Three of his other members were sitting at that table, playing a game of Poker.

"Hey boss!" the wolf called from near the bar, where he had turned up the volume on the radio. "Here's the callout for the third race."

The mobsters peered towards the radio as they heard the racing commentator shout his announcing over the broadcast. The three Poker-playing mobsters even focused their attention to the radio. "As they come out of the turn, it's So Not The Drama by a neck over Off With Their Heads, two lengths back Awesome Possum and Ha Cha Cha. Let's Get Dangerous can see them all, but here comes Buh-Za flying on the outside, and coming down to the wire, it's all Buh-Za!"

The weasel and the wolf threw up their arms victoriously before taking their seats at the card table in the middle of the room and joining the other three stooges in their card game.

"Hey, I like dis kid. I can't believe we were gonna shoot him!" The cat untied Crandall from the chair and shook his hand. "I like you, kid. What's your name?"

"Uh... I'm Crandall Connors," Crandall answered uneasily.

"Crandall Connors, eh?" said the cat with the peg leg. "That's a great name, boy. Certainly one I wouldn't forget. The name's Bad Pete. These here are my associates. Say hello to Big Bad Wolf; Slowdraw D. Weasel; Sylvester Shyster; Prince Penguin; and Emil Eagle."

Big Bad Wolf, Slowdraw D. Weasel, Sylvester Shyster, Prince Penguin, and Emil Eagle all waved as Pete introduced them, and then returned to their game. Just like Pete, Wolf, and Weasel, the other three were dressed like mobsters. Sylvester Shyster had the looks of a cross between an anthropomorphized rat and a lawyer. Prince Penguin, who had the black moustache of a stereotypical tyrant on his beak, pretty much looked as his name suggested. And Emil Eagle, who had hands rather than wings, apparently must have been the inventor in the group.

However, Crandall was gathering quite an assumption from the fact that these men were all dressed like gangsters. He was also gathering that assumption from the fact that Wolf, Weasel, Shyster, Penguin, and Eagle were all cheating ridiculously at their game. He had now figured that rather than a social club for legitimate businessmen, this place was a hideout for this gang of mobsters. Aside from Teamo's scuffles with Mr. Large and his gang, Crandall hadn't encountered mobsters like these before. And even then, he didn't know if these were the kind of mobsters he could trust.

But before Crandall could speak up, Pete asked him, "Can you mix drinks?"

"Well," Crandall replied, "I can pour glasses of milk, if you know what I mean."

Just then, Weasel called out, "I want a Manhattan."

Pete turned to Crandall. "Make Slowdraw a Manhattan."

Crandall looked confused. "A Manhattan? I'm not sure if-" He was suddenly interrupted by Weasel and Wolf aiming their guns at him again. Even Shyster, Penguin, and Eagle got up to point theirs.

Pete took his stogie out of his mouth and held it between two of his fingers. "Just look it up in that recipe book behind da bar."

Crandall, knowing it wouldn't be right to argue with a gang of six gun-wielders, went behind the bar and looked in the dust-covered recipe book for the formula for a Manhattan. After doing so, he followed the instructions carefully and mixed the drink, finishing it up with the dunking of the cherry. He then slid it with his fingers over to Weasel, who drank up the whole thing with one sip.

"Well?" Pete asked for the dogface's opinion.

"Supoib," Weasel replied.

Pete patted one of the orange puffs of Crandall's hair. "Well, Crandall, how would you like the applica-nation of our bartender?"

"Oh no, I can't do that," admitted Crandall, a little annoyed with Pete's grammatical error on the word "application". "I have school to go to, and... I already have another job." Being a superhero, Crandall didn't want to admit his secret identity. Especially since these guys seemed to mean business.

"Eh, I thought so." Right before placing his stogie back in his mouth, Pete produced a wad of dollars from his shirt pocket. "Well, would ya like to do it every Saturday night for... thirty bucks?"

Crandall gazed at the six five-dollar bills Pete was waving in front of him. The boy, being happy just doing the right thing, didn't really have much need for money. But this guy was offering to pay him thirty dollars per week to mix drinks for him and his men. With a salary like that, he'd be able to buy Brenda a really nice present the next time her birthday rolled around. Also, with that kind of payment, he could help Hector pay back his dad for that engine upgrade. So, taking his eyes off of the cash, he grinned to Pete and gave his answer.

"Super."

-

When Crandall arrived home that night, his mother had indeed been worried about him, and she was also quite curious about where he had been. Crandall told his mom that he had been out getting a job, and she was then inquisitive as to what it was.

Being a naturally good kid, Crandall wasn't exactly keen on lying to his parents, but he was afraid he might be grounded again if they found out he had been hanging with an apparent gang of mobsters. So he simply answered, "Uh, I dunno. But it has something about mixing drinks and picking horses. Something like that, I think."

"Crandall, your father and I don't want you doing that." Crandall's mom turned her head to look at her husband, who was once again so absorbed in the newspaper that he didn't seem to be paying attention to what was going on around him. "Jake!"

Mr. Connors looked up from the articles. "Uh, how much does it pay?"

"Thirty bucks a week," Crandall answered his father's query as he reached into the refrigerator for the milk carton and chocolate syrup.

"Aaaah, I make more than that." With that, Mr. Connor returned to his regularly scheduled activity.

"Don't worry, Earth-mom," Crandall tried to reassured his mother as he stirred his glass of chocolate milk. "They only want me there on Saturday nights. It's not that big of a problem."

Mrs. Connors let out a stressed mumble. "Well, all right, but don't let it get in the way of your school life or your social life."

"I wouldn't worry about it, mom," Crandall's big sister, Jean, replied. "Crandall might benefit from this experience. If he's going to get an occupation as a bartender someday, he might need to know this kind of stuff."

Mrs. Connors let out another stressed mumble. Something was telling her this experience wasn't going to be easy.

-

The next week went by like a normal one in the state, and Teamo Supremo's three members continued their usual routine of doing their school work and stopping evildoers. But Crandall never once mentioned his new job to Hector or Brenda. He secretly feared what they would think of it.

That Friday afternoon, right after school, Crandall caught up with his two chums at recess.

"Say, Hector, do you still have to pay back your dad the money he loaned you so you could buy that upgrade for your skateboard?" Crandall asked his Hispanic friend.

"Si," Hector replied. "I still owe him 15.99."

"Well, look no further, my good man. You can pay him with this!" Out of his pants pocket, Crandall produced twenty of the thirty dollars Pete had paid him on the previous Saturday night. As if it weren't enough for Crandall that he was being paid to mix drinks for Pete and his gang, they were giving him rather hefty tips. Some of which were even more than thirty dollars.

"Twenty dollars?" Hector looked in awe at the two ten-dollar bills Crandall was handing him. "I shouldn't take caramelo from a stranger, but since you're my friend, thanks."

"Za-zow!" Brenda was so surprised that her cowgirl hat would've jumped if she had been wearing it at the moment. "How'd ya get so much buckeroos over the week, Cap?"

"Uh... I worked out a lot around the house." Crandall didn't want to tell Brenda a lie, but he was afraid of how she'd take the news of him working as a bartender for an evident mob. She might not love him anymore if he told her that! As if to stay off on her safe side, he then asked, "Hey, I've still got 10. Would you like to go see 'Shrag 2' with me?"

Brenda immediately gasped with excitement at the offer as she tried unsuccessfully to hide the blush creeping across her face. "Oh, Cap, Ah didn't think you'd ask. Of course Ah'll go with ya!" And she pecked his cheek again.

Hector took a step onto his skateboard and grinned at his lovesick friends. "Well, I guess I'd better get going and leave you lovebirds alone. Adiós!"

Now if this were before Crandall and Brenda had confessed their feelings for each other, Crandall probably would've objected to Hector's teasing right there. But after the events on Valentine's Day, Crandall figured maybe it was okay if Hector did tease them, considering that he had done so before.

But Crandall had more on his mind while he and Brenda were taking their seats in the theatre shortly after that conversation. As the preteen couple sat down to watch the new adventure of the large green ogre and his four-legged companion, the masculine half of them couldn't help but wonder if he was using the right kind of money to be taking his girlfriend to see this film. After all, he'd earned it from mixing drinks for a group of animals who stood on their hind legs, dressed like mobsters, hid out in a bar labeled on the outside as a social club, and liked to bet on horse races and cheat at Poker. Could he really trust this kind of payment?

As if in answer to Crandall's ponderings, Crandall suddenly felt something very surprising, yet very comforting, on his arm. Brenda was resting her head on his shoulder. She smiled pleasantly as her boyfriend turned to look at her. Crandall smiled back and put his arm around her as he delivered a short, yet emotional, kiss to her puckered lips. They might've missed an important part of the movie if they had kissed really emotionally. But of course, that was an oversight that neither of them would mind.

Crandall may have been unsure about his new job, but for now, he was quite happy enough pleasing the girl he loved.

-

That night, Crandall walked by the family television, sipping another glass of milk, and sat down to watch the news with his family. The state's daily televised news was one of a few times Mr. Connors wasn't digging his nose in the papers. On the TV, the newscaster was talking about a recent robbery of a cigarette supply truck. "...The contents of the hijacked truck were some 12,000 cartons of Parkermeyer 100s."

A cigarette truck hijacking? Crandall wondered. I wonder why Governor Kevin didn't alert us about it. Maybe he doesn't allow cigarette-smoking! Or maybe he did alert us while Brenda and I were at the movie and we just didn't hear him. I hope Hector's okay...

At that point, the television screen cut to a different camera, this one showing the state's Chief of Police, Raymond Epsilon, at a press conference. "Let me assure all you smokers out there, there is no shortage of cigarettes."

"How do we know that?" shouted an agitated reporter, raising his hand.

"Um, let me refer that question back to Howard Banks of Parkermeyer Tobacco Products." The Chief stepped back from the podium to allow in the person he was referring to. "Howard?"

Onto the podium stepped a rather slimy guy who looked pretty much like your average stereotype of a cigarette salesman. This was Howard Banks. "Thank you, Chief. Folks, I'm pleased to announce that a new truckload of Parkermeyer's, with their smoooooth good tastes and fresh tobacco flavor, is already heading towards this state. And the driver has been instructed to ignore all stop signs and crosswalks." The crowd in front of him cheered as he finished his statement.

After that, the newscasters was then heard saying, "Police suspect the involvement of reputed mobster Percy 'Bad' Peter Percival Pete." As he said this, a file photo of Pete appeared onscreen.

It was at that point that Crandall's eyes bugged out, and he almost spat out his milk.

The Chief reappeared on the screen, standing in front of the podium again. "Bad Pete is a cancer on this fair state. He is the cancer and I am the... uh..." At this point, he focused his eyes on someone off camera and asked, "What cures cancer?"

Jean eyed her brother. "Crandall, is your boss a criminal?"

Crandall stared at the TV and wiped off his milk moustache, replying, "I don't think so." Then, his eyes rolling in opposite directions, he added under his breath, "Although it would explain an awful lot."

-

The next evening, at the club, Crandall watched from behind the bar as Shyster, Penguin, and Eagle wheeled in boxes of Parkermeyer 100 cigarettes, just like the newscaster had reported. Unless these weren't the ones that had been stolen, Crandall figured the Police were right about Pete being involved in the hijacking. He turned to attention to Pete, who approached him with Weasel and Wolf behind him.

"Me an' the boys would like to thank you for hangin' onto this stuff for us," Pete said, presenting a package wrapped up with a fancy ribbon.

"Uh, thanks, but I didn't hide anything for you," Crandall replied.

Pete rolled his eyes. "Well, at least you deserve some sort of reward for makin' such great drinks."

Crandall looked at the ground, then at the gift, then back up at Pete. "Uh, say, are you guys crooks?"

"Crooks!" Pete jumped back a bit. "Why would you say that?"

"Well," Crandall explained, "last night, I heard on the news that a truck of cigarettes had been hijacked. Now I see those cigarettes being loaded in."

Pete walked back in front of the kid. "Crandall, um, is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?"

"Uh... no?" Crandall was unsure of how to answer a question like this.

"Well, suppose you got a large starving family," said Pete. "Is it wrong to steal a truckload of bread to feed them?"

"No?"

"And suppose your family don't like bread, but rather... cigarettes?"

"I guess that's okay."

"Now, what if, instead of givin' 'em away, you sold them at a price that was practically givin' 'em away. Would that be a crime, Crandall?"

"No! But that still doesn't explain why you have a peg leg." Crandall indicated the wooden peg that was now in place of Pete's left foot.

"Oh, y'mean this? It's poifectly fine," Pete answered, taking off the peg to reveal a perfectly normal leg (or at least as normal as a leg could be on a guy like Pete). "I only wear it 'cause it makes me look real tough-like."

"You're not a pirate, are you?" Crandall, having dealt with Laser Pirate three times before, knew that pirates couldn't be trusted either, unless they were the non-plundering kind.

"Look, Crandall, I've had a lot of jobs in the past..." Pete began to list all of his occupations on his fingers. "Crossword puzzle collector, boxer, kidnapper, dognapper, horse racer, golfer, pirate captain, knight, mountaineer, swimmer, airplane racer, hobo, steamboat captain, barn house dancer, western outlaw, jailer, foreman, mail bandit, sheriff, dog catcher, train conductor, lumberjack, radio station manager, army sergeant, trombone player, bank robber, Ghost of Christmas Future, guard captain, used car salesman, baby photographer, instrument salesman, NASCAR racer, purse snatcher, judge, and landlord. This is just my current job for the time being. Do you have a problem with that?"

Crandall stared, astonished. "Uh, no. But how can a guy like you have so many jobs?"

"I'm just an average guy... who drinks." Pete pushed his present closer to Crandall. "Enjoy your gift."

Crandall opened up the gift. Inside was a tailored suit fit just for him.

"Supoib," he commented, putting stress on the accent.

-

That evening, Crandall strutted into the family kitchen, wearing his suit proudly and singing mob-based songs around the house. After finishing the song, he told his "Earth-mom" to give him "three fingers of milk". If Mrs. Connors hadn't been uncertain about her son's job before, she sure was uncertain now.

That night, as she looked out her bedroom window, Mrs. Connors said to her husband, "I know it's good for a boy to have a part-time job, but I'm not sure about the people Crandall's working for. I think they're criminals."

Mr. Connors sat up in the bed. "A job's a job, Harriet. Take me, for instance. If I work at a plant that pollutes the water and poisons the town, by your logic, that would make me a criminal."

"Well, Crandall's been acting strangely." Mrs. Connors then pulled open the curtains to look out the window again. "And that pizza delivery truck's been parked across the street for two weeks. How long does it take to deliver a pizza?"

The pizza truck in question was evidently equipped with a satellite dish. Inside, two men had been using electronic snooping equipment, and they heard Mrs. Connors' suspicions quite well. "Looks like our cover's blown," said one half of the duo.

"Let's roll!" His partner jumped into the driver's seat.

From inside the bedroom, Mr. and Mrs. Connors watched the "pizza delivery truck" speed off. "See? It was all your imagination," Mr. Connors assured his wife before getting back into the bed.

"Jake!" Mrs. Connors commanded. "I want you to go down to that club and talk to them, and see what kind of people they are. Please?"

"Oh, all right," Mr. Connors agreed reluctantly, putting his head onto his pillow.

Just then, Mrs. Connors looked out and saw another truck, very much like the one before, pulling up across the street. This time, the sign painted on the side read, with the words arranged vertically, "Flowers By Irene".

-

So the next day, Mr. Connors demanded his son to take him to the place where he had been working. Crandall didn't feel right to be taking his dad to meet Pete and his evident mob, but took him there anyway. Pete was a bit surprised when Crandall came into the club with his father. But in less than half an hour, Mr. Connors was playing Poker with Pete and his men.

"Heh heh!" Mr. Connors chortled, showing off his cards. "Read 'em and weep, boys - another pair of sixes!"

"Beats me." Pete folded the five aces in his hands.

"I was... bluffing," said Prince Penguin, folding the same deal as his boss.

"You win again, Jake," Emil Eagle acknowledged.

Mr. Connors chortled again as he collected the chips in front of him and began to sip a can of soda.

Pete lit his cigar. "Mr. Connors, I'm thrilled that you've decided to let your son continue to work here."

Mr. Connors lifted his soda can away from his mouth. "You know, if you need a hat-check girl, I've got a daughter."

"Jake, you're a helluva father," complimented Pete. He then turned to Crandall and asked, "Eh, by da way, I've invited a friend of mine over for Manhattans tomorrow. You think you can show up for that?"

"Well, if it doesn't interfere with my homework, I guess so." Crandall put out his own hand and let Pete's big paw shake it.

Needless to say, when Mr. Connors returned home, all he told his wife was that the only thing going on there was male bonding.

-

But on Monday afternoon, Crandall found himself tied down with more tasks than he could handle. Teamo Supremo was excused from class to go catch Dehydro again, and that's just what they did. Captain Crandall was making good use of his Level 7 Holographic Projector Pen in order to fool the water-loving bad guy, whom Rope Girl then captured with her Level 7 High-Speed Voice-Activated Tangle-Free Rope Recoiler. Skate Lad also made good usage of his Level 7 Inflatable All-Terrain Tires, which proved to be quite a bit of help with his recent upgrade.

"What a great action-packed sequence that was!" Captain Crandall said, twirling his Level 7 Boomerang in his fingers, as the Police arrived to take Dehyrdo away.

"Ah'll say!" added Rope Girl. "But Skate Lad's combination of his skateboard upgrade and inflatable tires makes him almost faster than a NASCAR racer!"

"Uh, thanks, I think." Skate Lad was a bit flattered, yet also a bit confused, considering that Rope Girl's comment sounded like she was flirting with him, and he knew well that it was Cap whom Rope Girl truly loved. Fortunately, he let the purple-haired girl's comment slide, as he didn't want to cause any falling outs like they had done before.

Suddenly, the image of Mr. Paulson appeared on Crandall's wrist-communicator. "Hey, Teamo. Did you stop Dehydro?"

Rope Girl took a grip on her boyfriend's arm to talk to Paulson. "We sure did! An' we got to make fa-a-a-abulous use of those gifts we got during that incident with the Birthday Bandit's phony party."

"Well, I'm glad to hear that you're using that equipment on missions," replied Paulson. Although they had used them to stop the Birthday Bandit's getaway from their third confrontation, Teamo Supremo hadn't made much use of their new equipment after that escapade.

"Indeed," said Captain Crandall.

But before Cap or Rope Girl could say anything more, Skate Lad pointed out, "But I couldn't have done it without the jet upgrade I bought recently."

Paulson looked shocked. "You bought an upgrade for your skateboard? Why didn't you tell me about it?"

Skate Lad backed away. "Um, I didn't think you'd take kindly to it."

"Well, I certainly don't."

Captain Crandall spoke into the communicator. "Mr. Paulson! If there's anyone you should be chastising right now for using means of weapons other than Level 7's, it's me. I paid for Hector's upgrade."

"Oh, really?" Paulson raised an eyebrow. "Report to Level 7 for the lecture, Captain Crandall."

"I understand." Crandall turned off the communicator and said to his friends, "See you later. Sorry I have to take the rap for you, Hector."

"It's OK, amigo," Hector said, taking off his helmet. "Only a true friend would stick out for his friends like that."

But Crandall was so wrapped up in selflessly taking the rap for Hector's improving his performance without telling Paulson, and it was such a long speech that the scientist lectured, that the slightly weird boy forgot he was supposed to be serving drinks over at the club for Pete's special guests. It was only when he was leaving Level 7 that he suddenly remembered that part of his agenda. He had been wearing his business suit under his superhero costume, so he took off his costume, tucked it into his shirt pocket, and headed off for the club.

-

Over at the club, Pete and his men had broken out their longest table for their so-called special guests. These guests, coming in a group of seven, were all anthropomorphized dogs. Beagles, to be more exact. They were all wearingarrest card placards in front of their necksblack masks, blue trousers with matching green caps, and red sweaters that read "Beagle Boys, Inc."

About all seven of the prime Beagle Boys were participating in various activities around the room as Pete and his gang twiddled their thumbs, rolled their eyes back and forth, and hummed a goofy tune. Baggy Beagle (whose placard read 617-716), who grinned a lot, was idling away the time by flicking a cigarette lighter on and off. Bouncer Beagle (716-167), who was distinguishable for the fact that he was missing a tooth, and Babyface Beagle (176-167), whose cap had a propeller on top, were playing jacks. Burger Beagle (761-176), ever the hungry one, was stumbling around, looking for the club's refrigerator. Bugle Beagle (671-761), who liked poetry and wore sunglasses, was observing his surroundings, trying to think of a poem about them. Bankjob Beagle (671-167), the muscular beagle who had a big chin and was often the secondary leader of the group, was stabbing the space between his fingers with a pocketknife. Perhaps the only Beagle Boy not doing anything was the short one currently in command - Bigtime Beagle (167-671). He simply sat in his seat, opposite of Pete's, looking quite angry.

After minutes or so of waiting, when Pete looked at his watch, Bigtime spoke up. "So, Bad Pete. You invited me and m'boys to yer club with the promise of the finest Manhattans in this state. Now you say your bartender isn't here?"

Pete twiddled his thumbs again. "I, uh, I, uh, I don't know how this could possibly happen. He's never been late before. 'Course, he usually works on Saturdays, but I even tipped 'im off dat you'd be comin' tonight." He rolled his eyes and commanded, "Uh, Big Bad, make 'em some Manhattans!"

"But I only know how to make homemade barbeque sauce!" Wolf whined.

"Just do it!" Pete yelled like an army sergeant.

So Wolf got up from his seat and tried to mix up a Manhattan. He then brought it to Bigtime, who took a sip. Pete was practically biting his fingernails as he watched the leader of the Beagle Boys place the glass down.

Bigtime was very unsatisfied. "What have I done to deserve this flat flavorless Manhattan! You made us drive over who knows how many miles for this!"

"Really?" Burger piped from behind. "Maybe it's a good thing I wasn't served one!"

"Bigtime said so himself," said Bugle, snapping his fingers. "A more appropriate name for that drink would be, say... Bad Taste City."

Wolf got down on the ground and started sniveling. "All right, I admit it! My Manhattans aren't worth servin' at barbeques or even run-down warehouses! So sue me; I'm a demolitionist who hunts down pigs who build their own houses, not a bartender who mixes drinks named after cities!"

Bouncer looked up from his and Babyface's game. "Uh, Bigtime, I kinda lost count after the 100-mile mark," he said, as if answering Bigtime's query about how many miles they had driven.

"Ehhh, I kinda got lost around 200 miles," said Babyface.

Baggy turned to the others. "Ahhh, I wasn't payin' attention durin' the ride."

"Pete, my boys an' me may be unable to rob one tycoon's vault, but I know what I like, and that Manhattan was not it!" Bigtime got up from his seat and walked over to Pete. Then, he snapped his fingers, and Bankjob walked over and watched with fiery eyes as Bigtime pointed directly at Pete.

In an instant, Pete found his nose being pressed down hard by Bankjob, who said in a sneaky fashion, "Beep."

"C'mon boys," Bigtime called out, "we're headin' back to Duckburg."

In less than a minute, Pete and his gang were the only ones left in the room.

"A beep on the nose," Pete said dejectedly. "That's all I need."

Just then, Crandall stumbled in through the door. "Well, here I am, Mr. Pete."

Pete looked angry with his eleven-year-old employee. "You... are late," he said nastily, pointing his cigar.

"Well, of course I'm late!" Crandall yelled. "How do you expect me to be on time when I'm enduring punishment meant for a friend of mine by listening to Mr. Paulson's lecture!"

Pete's mouth hung open, and he dropped his cigar on the floor. "You know Harold W. Paulson?"

"If you're referring to the middle-aged man who works for Level 7 of Governor Kevin's facilities," Crandall responded, "then yes!"

Pete picked up a new cigar. "Is he givin' you any trouble?"

"Not really," Crandall answered. "The only reason I'm mad with him now is because he made me late. And I was just helping out a friend with whom he had gotten upset simply for not using devices of his own designs!"

"Hmmm... perhaps we should go meet an' greet this individual. Go home and get yourself a good night's sleep, Crandall." Pete turned to Wolf and Weasel. "C'mon, boys."

Crandall watched as the large cat and his two cronies headed out the door. Something about this didn't feel right...

-

Late that night, Pete, Wolf, and Weasel were sneaking into Gov. Kevin's office, looking for the entrance to Level 7.

"Say boss," Weasel asked, "how do you know about this Paulson guy anyway?"

"I had a part-time summer job workin' for him during my junior high years," Pete answered. "He never noticed me much, but I noticed him a lot. I happen to know there's an elevator leadin' to his work-place right here in the governor's office. It's activated by da buttons on dis jukebox here. I think I have a good memory of which buttons he pressed..."

So, (somehow) clicking the right combination in his memory, Pete pressed the required buttons on the jukebox. Immediately, the bookshelf nearby slid open to reveal the elevator behind it. The mob trio then entered the elevator and rode downwards towards Level 7. Mr. Paulson was busy tuning something when he heard the elevator behind him.

Hmmm, Paulson thought. I wasn't expecting visitors at this time of night. He turned to face the three heavies. "Uh, what can I do for you?"

Pete advanced on the scientist. "You Paulson?"

"I'm Mr. Paulson, yes," Paulson retorted, not seeming to recognize this guy. "And how, may I ask, did you get past the alarm system?"

"That's not important right now, Paulson," Pete said, lighting his cigar. "What is important is that my boys and I would like to have a little talk."

-

The next day, in school, Crandall couldn't seem to get over what Pete had the previous evening. He kept holding his head down in the classroom, and Brenda and Hector couldn't help but wonder why he was acting this way. He didn't even ask Mrs. Woolingantz if the historical figure they were discussing today had anything to do with the supernatural. Mrs. Woolingantz, being one of the few people in the state who knew Teamo Supremo's secret identities, wondered if maybe Crandall wasn't feeling well today.

Before she could say anything else, Mrs. Woolingantz was interrupted by the presence of a certain blonde who came into the classroom and whispered to her. Crandall put took his hands away from his head. That could only mean one thing.

Mrs. Woolingantz adjusted her glasses and said, "Crandall, Brenda, and Hector, the governor needs you in his office. You are excused."

Upon hearing that sentence, the three students got up from their seats and headed out of the classroom.

Soon, they were in the playground. Making sure nobody was looking, Crandall gave the signal. "Rope me, Brenda!" he said, making sure not to use it in the context about them being a couple.

With that, the trio started up the lengthy sequence that was their transformation.

"Buh-za!"

"Chi-ka!"

"Wuh-pa!"

"TEAMO SUPREMO!" they shouted, in unison.

-

Shortly afterwards, they arrived at Gov. Kevin's office. Paulson's well-natured assistant, Samantha, was already there.

"What's today's problems, Governor Kevin?" Captain Crandall questioned.

"Is Baron Blitz bamboozlin' the state with more bronze busters?" Rope Girl asked.

"Is Electronica out to eradicate electronic entertainment again?" Skate Lad inquired.

Gov. Kevin looked at the three young heroes. "Actually, we don't have a clue who's behind this crime."

"Well, if it's general enough, it must be the work of Mr. Vague!" Skate Lad pointed out.

Gov. Kevin rolled his eyes. "Samantha, why don't you tell them?"

Samantha put her right hand on her other arm. "I don't know how to break this to you, Teamo, but... Mr. Paulson is..." At this point, she put her left hand over her eyes, as if holding back tears. "...missing."

Shocked looks came upon Rope Girl's and Skate Lad's faces. Captain Crandall, meanwhile, had other thoughts.

Uh-oh, Crandall thought. It's just as I feared. Mr. Pete must've misunderstood me and killed Paulson!

Before Captain Crandall could speak up, Rope Girl asked Samantha, "Do ya have any idea who mighta done it?"

Samantha took her hand away from her eyes. "No one springs to mind..."

Captain Crandall put up his left index finger. "Uh, perhaps it's the work of Laser Pirate!"

"Yeah!" Skate Lad said in agreement. "After all, didn't he and Paulson use to be dorm-mates? He must've been out for revenge again!"

"That's a plausible theory, Skate Lad," said Gov. Kevin, "but I'm afraid it doesn't work. I checked this morning, and Laser Pirate's still in jail."

Rope Girl turned around to face the governor. "Well, who else could've done it?"

Captain Crandall put his hand down and looked around in both directions. "Uh... Technor?"

Skate Lad sighed. "Impossible, Cap."

"That's right!" said Rope Girl. "We defeated Technor for good, remember?"

Crandall thought back to the day of the Magna Mall incident, when they had finally rid the state of the threat of Technor the Mechanized Man. As if it weren't good enough for Crandall that they had finally defeated the mechanical menace, he had been jumping around with Rope Girl in his arms at the point where Skate Lad had pulled the plug on the MagnaBody, taking Technor with it. That was a fine day, indeed. But it didn't change the fact that their inventive confidant was missing and/or presumed dead.

Gov. Kevin interrupted Captain Crandall's reminiscing. "I've already asked the Chief to find Paulson, but just in case, I'm also asking you to handle the job."

Rope Girl twirled her rope. "Don't worry, Governor Kevin! We'll find Paulson. And we'll take care of the guys who got 'im, too!"

"You said it, amiga!" said Skate Lad. "We'll handle those kidnappers. Isn't that right, Cap?"

"Uh..." Captain Crandall backed away. "Yeah, we'll get 'em. Now we'd better get back to class!" And with that, he bolted out the door.

Skate Lad watched the doors fly backward, then rolled his eyes back. "Uh, Brenda, does Cap seem to be acting a little strange?"

Rope Girl looked quite confused. "Yeah. Ah wonder what's up with him?" she said, drifting off into her thoughts. Just last Friday he was practically droolin' to take me out on a date. Now he's actin' all fearful!

-

As the week went by, all through the city, the Police went around looking for Paulson, using, as Chief Epsilon put it, "the most advanced scientific techniques in the field of, um, body-finding." Everywhere they posted posters of Paulson that read, "Have You Seen My Body Today?" They tried looking for him in the river with fishing nets. They even tried getting help from psychics. But they clearly weren't getting anywhere in their search.

During all that, Crandall became more and more nervous. He couldn't pay attention during school, and he became agitated and even yelled at other students when they traded theories about where Paulson's body may have been buried. He couldn't fully finish dinner at home, and he couldn't focus on his homework. He simply couldn't do anything without the thought of what Bad Pete had supposedly done to Paulson haunting his mind.

Finally he began having nightmares on Friday night. He dreamed that he was being pursued by a seemingly endless army of Paulson zombies, all of whom were declaring, in a spooky manner, "You killed me, Crandall." When it seemed he had seen about enough of the zombies, he suddenly found himself thrown into a prison cell, and then being executed in the electric chair. Crandall awoke from the bad dream with a loud scream, as if he had actually been shocked.

The next morning, the still-agitated Crandall was sitting at the kitchen table, holding his head again, when Jean walked in. "Is something wrong, Crandall?" she asked.

"Uh, what makes you think that, Jean?" Crandall responded.

"Well, you have been acting rather strange for the last two weeks or so," said Jean. "Especially since Tuesday. You haven't been able to sit through dinner or homework. Is something bothering you?"

Crandall paused as he decided to tell his sister the whole story. "Well, you know how I got a job recently?"

"Certainly, Crandall," answered Jean. "Why?"

"Well, I've been working for a group of mobsters," Crandall confessed. "Last Monday, I was supposed to show up to provide drinks for his guests. I showed up too late, and... I blamed it on Paulson. I was only sticking up for Hector because Paulson was mad at him. So when I told it to my boss, he told me that he and his men were going to have a talk with him. And I think they killed Paulson!"

Jean gasped. "Have you told anyone else this?"

"No," Crandall answered. "I told you, since you work in Level 7. I don't know what to do if I tell Brenda, Hector, or anyone else about this. I just wanted to please my friends."

"Well, why don't you just tell them?" Jean offered. "It might help you."

"Really?"

"Sure. If you confess what's bothering you to your friends like you did to me, your anxiety will go away."

Crandall put his hand to his chin, then took it away. "That answer sounds reasonable. Thanks, Jean!"

"Sure, Crandall", said Jean. "I have to know this stuff if I'm going to be a novelist someday."

-

That afternoon, Crandall had called his two friends to meet him down in his "secret hideout" under Action's doghouse.

"So what did you call us up for, Cap?" Hector asked.

"Does this have anything to do with how odd you've been actin' in the past few days?" Brenda questioned.

"Indeed it does," answered Crandall. "I have a bit of a confession to make."

Hector put his arms to his hips. "Oh, is it about you and Brenda? 'Cause I think I already know it."

"No, no, no!" Crandall blushed. "It's about something completely different. Listen..."

So Crandall told his two friends about how he had gotten the job Bad Pete had offered him, and his being late on Monday, and how Pete and his men had supposedly killed Paulson. Unluckily, Brenda and Hector didn't seem to be taking the news any better than Jean did.

"Look, what I did was wrong," Crandall admitted. "But the important thing is, we gotta go get Pete and bring him to justice! Are you with me?"

Brenda and Hector just glared at their teammate.

Crandall chuckled nervously. "Something tells me you're not handling this well."

Hector pointed his left hand in Crandall's space. "You deceived us, Cap. You pleased us with money that you got from working for crooks. And after all you went over with us when we thought pirates were cool!" He headed back to the exit and elevated upward, but not before saying, "Farewell, former amigo."

As if it weren't enough that Crandall was already disappointed, Brenda then walked up to him and slapped him. "Ah hope you're proud of yerself!" she yelled, following Hector back upward.

For a minute there, Crandall wanted to cry. Because of him, Paulson's whereabouts were unknown. Now his best friends were angry with him. He knew this feeling. The three of them had split before, and now they were splitting again. Maybe for good this time. Staring down at the ground, he uttered the reason he had taken that job to begin with.

"I just wanted to make you guys happy..."

Crandall clenched his fist as his skin slowly started to change color. If anyone was going to bring Bad Pete to justice, it was him.

-

Over at "the Legitimate Businessman's Social Club", Pete and Wolf were sorting money while Weasel looked on when the door suddenly flew open. Crandall stood in the doorway, but he wasn't wearing the business suit they had given him. Rather, he was dressed in his super-threads, and his skin was now glowing bright purple. Crandall had experienced this emotion before, when Baron Blitz had taken control of the animatronics aliens at the Out of This World Café and Museum of the Unknown. Now he was experiencing it again, but this time for a different reason.

"Ah, Crandall," Pete recognized his bartender. "You're eight hours early for work. That's good."

"Save the compliments, Bad Pete!" Crandall yelled ferociously. "And put up your hands!"

"Now, now," Pete rolled around in his chair, "don't stretch your vocal macords. And where'd you get dat funny costume anyway?"

"Wait a second, boss!" Weasel spoke up. "I recognize that outfit he's wearin'! He's one of them Teamo Supremo kids I've been readin' about!"

Pete spat out his cigar. "What! We've been gettin' our drinks from one of dis state's superheroes?"

"Indeed!" Captain Crandall bellowed. "And you're about to know the meaning of justice!"

"Take it easy, Crandall, and get rid of dat skin condition." Pete picked his cigar. "We don't know what reason you've got to be tryin' to attack us now."

"You know darn well what you did, Bad Pete!" Captain Crandall shouted. "You killed Mr. Paulson, and because of that, I've lost my best friends! You'll pay dearly for that! BUH-ZARG!" he screamed, with a slight echo on the last syllable.

Wolf grabbed Captain Crandall by the cape before he could attack any of them. "You mean the gray-haired guy who works somewhere under the governor's office? We didn't kill him."

"That's right," Pete clarified. "I've had to deal with anthropomorphic mice, ducks, dogs, chipmunks, rabbits, and even other anthropomorphized cats, but I didn't kill your pretty little Paulson."

Just then, Chief Epsilon busted in with a team of policemen. "What's all this then?" the Chief demanded to know.

"Why, Chief Epsilon!" Pete greeted the cops. "You honor us with your presence."

"Baloney!" the Chief scoffed. "The boys and I heard noise coming from this building and figured someone in here would be behind it. And I'm not gonna rest till one of us is behind bars. And just what are you doing with that meddling kid?"

Captain Crandall turned around to face the Chief. "There's the ones you're looking for, Chief!" he pointed, indicating Pete and his men. "They're the ones who killed Paulson!"

"Really? Well then..." The Chief pulled a gun out of his holster and pointed it at Pete. "Bad Pete, you're under arrest for the murder of Harold Paulson!"

"What's a murder?" Pete asked coyly.

"Don't play dumb with me!" The Chief barked. "Get into that paddy wagon, 'cause you'll soon be drinking from a water dish with numbers... in jail! Cuff 'em, boys!"

"Well, Raymond," Pete said as he, Weasel, and Wolf were handcuffed, "if you're gonna arrest us for this aforementioned crime, you may as well arrest the boy there too, since he gave us the victim's whereabouts."

The next thing Crandall knew, the Chief had handcuffed him as well.

"I probably shouldn't be doing this, kid," the Chief said apologetically, "but you're one of our prime suspect's associates!"

Crandall looked defeated. This day wasn't going well at all.

-

By the time Crandall's anger sensation wore off, he had already been placed in a jail cell, just like in his nightmare. Fortunately for him, he wasn't serving his time as a cellmate for any of Teamo Supremo's many enemies, so he had some alone time to think about this whole incident.

I can't believe what an idiot I've been! Crandall thought. I let that murderer Pete trick me into mixing drinks for him and his gang. And why? All because I wanted to help Hector pay for his skateboard upgrade and give Brenda nice gifts. Now my best male friend is furious, my girlfriend has broken up with me, Mr. Paulson is probably dead, and I'm in jail. All because I took a job for a bartender. He clenched his head as if it were in pain. If only I had just continued on home during that rainstorm...

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the warden telling him from outside, "There's someone to see you, kid."

Crandall looked out the cell wall. He could see his parents and Jean standing outside. Jean was sympathetic, his mom was sad-looking, and his dad looked a little mad.

"Oh Crandall," Mrs. Connors said sadly, "why couldn't you have gotten a paper route like other boys?"

Mr. Connors stepped in front of the two female members of the family. "Son, it's not like you to be part of a murder cult, but as soon as we make bail, I'm afraid I'll have to ground you up something fierce." He began listing punishments on his fingers. "No going out to play, no television, no food, no water, no sunlight..."

"Jake!" Mrs. Connors interrupted her husband.

"Oh," said Mr. Connors, stopping his list. "Well, I guess we'll still feed you."

Jean addressed her parental units. "Mom, Dad, could you excuse me for a little bit while I talk with Crandall?"

"Certainly, honey," said Mrs. Connors, as she and Mr. Connors headed back into the waiting room. "Although I have trouble seeing why..."

Shortly after Mr. and Mrs. Connors had left the hallway, Brenda and Hector then walked up. They didn't look as angry as they were the last time Crandall saw them.

"Guys?" Crandall was surprised at their appearance.

"Hiya, sweetie," Brenda waved a little, a hint of blush on her face.

Crandall tried to fit his head outside the bars as much as he could. "I thought you guys hated me now."

"Let me explain, Crandall," confirmed Jean. "After you told me about what you had been doing, I told Samantha and Mrs. Woolingantz. That's when Brenda and Hector came in. They were rather angry about you, so I figured you had already told them, and they hadn't taken kindly to it. I told them that you had done it because you wanted to please them, and then they stopped being angry."

Crandall rubbed his arms. "I guess maybe I should say I'm sorry for causing all this, guys."

"Actually, Cap," admitted Hector, "we're kind of sorry ourselves. We should've fully listened to you when you admitted your error."

"Yeah!" added Brenda. "After all, you were only doin' this to please us. But y'know... you didn't really need to."

"Really?" Crandall piped. "Why not?"

Hector put his left hand through the bars and answered, "Because you're already our best friend. Having extra money is something you don't need for that." And with that, he shook Crandall's hand.

Brenda put both of her hands through the bars and on Crandall's face. "And Ah love you for who you are, not for what ya have. The important thing is ya love me too." As tears flowed from her eyes, she kissed him fully on the lips.

"Awww, that's so sweet," said Jean when Brenda had finished kissing Crandall. "I knew you had a thing for her, Crandall."

Crandall blushed again. "Well, guys, I hope things turn out OK at the trial tomorrow."

Brenda put her hands on her boyfriend's face again. "Don't worry, Cap; we'll be there to support ya."

-

The next day was the trial. Crandall's family and his friends had showed up in the courtroom. True to their word, Brenda and Hector had showed up to support their friend, alongside Samantha and Mrs. Woolingantz. Jean sat by her and her brother's parents.

Shortly after the trial began, Bad Pete was called to the stand. Hector looked at the overweight cat in the jailhouse uniform. "Chi-yow!" he said quietly to Brenda. "That must be that Bad Pete character Cap told us about!"

Brenda was looking a little angry. "Oh, really? Well, if it's really him, me an' Ropey are gonna kick some butt on 'im." She was quite furious that this guy had gotten Crandall into this trouble.

Pete sat down at the stand and went on with the usual routine of murder trials. When the district attorney got to the nitty-gritty and asked Pete for what he did with Mr. Paulson, Pete simply replied, "I didn't order this Paulson guy killed..."

"But aren't you the head of this gang?" inquired the attorney.

"No," lied Pete. "I just stop by the club occasionally to read the complimentary newspaper."

"Then who, may I ask, is the real leader, the kingpin, the big guy, the capo del tutti capi?"

"That's the guy!" yelled Pete, fingering Crandall, causing audible gasps to come out of everyone.

"Hey!" a shocked Crandall glared. Now he knew Pete wasn't to be trusted.

"Forgive me, Don Crandallomew," Pete said, putting his arms in front of him as if he were begging.

"Hey!" Hector quietly yelled from his seat. "That guy's trying to pin his crime on Cap!"

Brenda started to look more and more angry with Pete. "If Cap's not set free when this case is over, this guy's gonna be sorry that he said that!"

The testimony from Weasel and Wolf was no better, as it turned out similar to the lies Pete had told everyone. Things obviously weren't going well for Crandall, mainly since one of Pete's men, Sylvester Shyster, was a crooked lawyer as well as a gangster. As things seemed to get worse and worse for Crandall, Brenda and Hector's hatred of Pete was getting bigger and stronger, almost similar to the way Crandall acted when he got really furious. There was no way they were going to let him get away with whatever was going to happen to their best friend!

Finally, Crandall was brought before the judge. "Now, in light of the damning testimony from your fellow gangsters," the judge announced, "this court has no choice but..."

As he said that, sweaty tension swelled up inside Brenda, Hector, and all of Crandall's other confidants in the room.

"...to find you..."

But suddenly, before the judge could finish his statement, the doors burst open, and a shout of "Stop!" rang out.

EVERYONE in the courtroom, including Crandall and the judge, turned to face the interrupter. And they gasped.

There, standing in the doorway, was Mr. Paulson. He was looking quite disheveled. His hair was mussed up, his chin was growing a short beard, and his clothes were wrinkled. He had a grim expression on his face to match the idea of where he had been.

"Za-zow!" shrieked Brenda. "It's the ghost of Mr. Paulson!"

"Either that, or he was never really dead!" said Hector.

Paulson looked around at everyone. "I suppose you're all wondering where I've been," he started, walking down the aisle in the center of the courtroom.

"Indeed," said Crandall, stating the obvious. "We thought you had been killed! What happened?"

"Well, it all started a week ago," Paulson explained. "I was in my office, tuning one of my inventions when I was suddenly confronted by a gang of toughs at the behalf of one Crandall Connors, or so they said. I ordered them to leave, and they did just that. To get my mind off of that incident, I went home and began bundling my old newspapers. But suddenly, the pile fell on me! I was trapped; let this be a lesson to recycle regularly. I survived by eating some delicious preserves that happened to be placed nearby; and I was able to maintain my sanity by dribbling a basketball within reach of my free hand. I made a game of it," he grinned, "in the form of seeing how many times I could bounce the ball in a day, then trying to break that record."

Crandall rolled his eyes, as did Hector and Brenda. They knew well that Paulson was the kind of person who loved games.

"Anyway," Paulson continued, "the police occasionally came to search my house. I shouted for them until I was hoarse, but they didn't seem to hear him."

Chief Epsilon slapped his forehead. "D'oh! This is the last time I hire the services of a psychic for body-hunting."

"I finally realized that if I was ever going to get out of there, I'd have to do it myself," Paulson went on. "I formed a rocket from a discarded cigar tube. Remembering an experiment from college, I concocted a fuel from baking soda and some juice from a lemon wedge. The rocket took off with a blast of carbon dioxide, with the end of a vacuum cleaner cord attached to it. Once the cord had wrapped itself around a support beam, I grabbed onto the vacuum cleaner itself and activated the cord retraction, pulling me to freedom. That's my courageous story."

As Paulson finished up his story, everyone in the seats rose and cheered, while he patted Crandall on the head. Crandall was glad; Paulson was alive and well, and he was now a free man... er, boy.

Sylvester Shyster rose from his seat. "Your Honor! I ask that Mr. Paulson's testimony be stricken from the record!"

"Denied!" the judge declared. "Case dismissed!"

-

Outside, Crandall, now back in his usual attire, stood on top of the stairs in front of the building. Pete, Wolf, and Weasel came up behind him and followed him downstairs, as he stood in front of his parents and sister.

"Well, Crandall," said Pete, "I hope there are no hard feelings."

Crandall gave Pete the angry eye. "Indeed there are."

"Hm, I deserved that," remarked Pete. "Look, I know we let you down, but me and the boys still think you got yourself a big future in racket-mateering and extort-tination."

"Sorry, Bad Pete", Crandall said sternly. "I may have thought your gang was cool, but I know well that crime doesn't pay. Besides, I know who my real friends are," he said, facing Brenda and Hector, who looked pretty happy that he was free.

"Yeah, I guess you're right. C'mon, boys, let's head back to Spoonerville." With that, Pete and his men got into their limo, and they sped off in the eastern direction.

Crandall turned to his family. "Thanks for believing in me through all this, Earth-family," he said.

"Well, I just hope you've learned your lesson, son," scolded Mr. Connors.

"Believe me, dad, I have," Crandall admitted. "Next time I'm in the middle of a rain storm, I'm not going anywhere but home. That's what got me into the mess to begin with."

At that point, Brenda and Hector ran up to their friend.

"Oh, mah sweet Cap! Ah'm so glad Paulson set ya free! Come here, ya big lug!" Brenda embraced Crandall and kissed his face endlessly.

Mrs. Connors nudged her husband at the sight of her son and the girl he loved. "Aww, isn't that cute, Jake? They're just like us when we were dating."

"You see?" acknowledged Jean. "I told you Crandall had a crush on someone."

Hector patted his "amigo's" back. "Same here, Cap. And I'm glad Paulson was never dead."

"I second that emotion," said Paulson, walking up with Samantha. "But I'm afraid I'll still have to lecture you a little bit about buying that upgrade without telling me beforehand."

Hector sighed. "Aw, man..."

"Just kidding, Hector!" said Paulson. "It's okay with me!"

"Heh-heh, no problema" chuckled Hector.

And everyone else chuckled along with him, all the while Brenda continued her hot embrace on Crandall. It was yet another embrace they'd never want to let go of.


I don't know if I planned on it, but this wound up becoming my longest "Teamo Supremo" fanfic so far! In fact, this could probably be my longest one-shot story ever. Or at least one of them. And I hope you've enjoyed reading this story, just as I've enjoyed writing it! Now, in the words of a certain mouse, see you real soon!