My sincere apologies, but your friends will be indisposed for a little while, as their activities with an illegal organization have been brought into light. It has also come to our attention that a certain Thomas Gilligan has been working undercover for this organization, and will be dealt with accordingly. Do not fear for them, as it merely involves a memory rip-

The rest of the notice was lost forever as Abby crumpled it in one shaking fist, then tore it to pieces. It wasn't signed; decom letters never were. The slips of paper fluttered lazily to the ground. When she spoke, it was with the voice of a person who had been dragged through thorn bushes and wild fires, then asked to smile and go through it again. "They musta taken Mushi, too. Just incase she knew somethin'."

Hoagie nodded, and busied himself with shredding the remains of the note with his sneaker. "And they probably grabbed Joey. Poor kid." For a moment, a silent movie screened in his head, his imagination cooking up the scene of the small blonde boy being dragged away from home. He could see the bare feet scraping the steps as he was pulled from the front porch. The pilot's stomach lurched unpleasantly. Do I really want to work for an organization that 'protects kids' by kidnapping them?

"What have they gotten themselves into, Hoags?" she turned to look at him, her face crumpled and weathered with worry. "What have we gotten into?" He swallowed and took a deep breath. Now was not the time to cry.

"I don't know, but I'll be damned if we can't get out of it." Her eyes betrayed a flicker of amusement at his attempt to be macho in such a dire situation. Her brain clicked into leader mode, the metaphorical gears sticky and slow from shock and stress.

"We're goin' back to headquarters and sortin' this all out."

He nodded in agreement before asking the burning question, "Where do you think they put our weapons?"

She chewed the inside of her cheek, pondering for a moment, before her eyes lit up. "Follow me," He did as he was told, walking in her wake as she ran to Kuki's room, making quite a racket in her haste. He met her at the door as she emerged triumphantly, one hand grasping her own O.U.C.H., the other holding the TND and KND weapon of choice, a S.P.L.A.N.K.E.R. that he'd had with him when he'd been captured, though a smaller, more concealable version that he himself had designed.

"She is the most predictable person on the planet," Abby muttered, checking the O.U.C.H. for damage. "Under her comforter, really?"

Beside her, Hoagie too looked over his weapon. Kuki wasn't known for taking care of things that weren't hers, but both gun-like machines seemed to be fine.

Abby grinned and stalked toward the door. "Let's go be traitors."

A year. A whole (explicit) year. ...WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? There are no words for how sorry I am. And I even missed my own contest deadline. I fail.

It's incredibly short, it's incredibly boring, and it would be incredible if anyone still reads this. Oi vey.

Review the amazingly overdue and terribly disappointing chapter?

Love always,