The JumpStart Gang Spends and Saves

There are a few things you should know about the following story.

1) JumpStart characters and such are 100% copyright Knowledge Adventure. This is simple fan fiction and is NOT endorsed by Knowledge Adventure in ANY way.

2) This story is mainly intended as a birthday present for my sister Chocolatedog. So if you are not her or my other sister: this story is filled with MANY, MANY in-jokes that there's NO way you'll get. So don't even try. :)

3) Man, this story. How did it happen? It spiraled out of control. I would print it out, but it'd be over 20 pages. And it's not divided into chapters. O_o It's pretty insane. I just kept writing and writing and writing whatever. xD Oh well, enjoy!

4) This story is mostly based on JumpStart Advanced 1st Grade - you know, the scooter-race-related one released in 2002 and kept in the series until about 2008 or so - then there was this factory error and packages that said JumpStart Advanced 1st Grade actually contained JumpStart World 1st Grade. Yeah, pretty crazy. If you want it, get the 3-disc or 1-disc version and you won't have to think about that. (Not like you care. :D)

Casey sighed as he held the soccer ball in his paw. It was clearly marked with the blend "bl".

He tossed it on the ground and watched it roll slightly across his bright-green lawn, then stop. This soccer ball, he contemplated, would be useful if opposing teams had many goals that regularly displayed "-ame" or "-ur" or "-ue" or "-ast". (Or "-end", for that matter.) Unfortunately, they were more prone to display "-one". The young yellow-orange cat shuttered at a dark memory of the time that he - he, one of the most valuable members of his team, the Wildcatz - kicked the "bl" ball into an "-one" goal. Just remembering made him do a facepalm. "Blone!" Of course, genius. Too bad it's spelled "blown". He sighed.

Sometimes, Casey wished JumpStartians played soccer like people did in other parts of the world, outside of the JumpStart isles - without any educational content at all, just kicking balls into goals. On the JumpStart isles, they did that sometimes, but it was considered lower-class.

Casey shuffled across his soccer-field-styled lawn, his large paws inadvertently pushing and almost breaking a flower's stem. Oh, I know! I could get a "fl" ball to make...d'oh! He did another facepalm. "Flone"! How silly can I get? I even own an airplane, and yet I can't spell "flown"!

He flopped into a red lawn chair and reached to grab a catalog off the grassy ground. ReaderSports Catalog, it said. They could have come up with a better name, Casey thought as he flipped to the soccer balls page. This makes it sound like it has some affiliation with Reader Rabbit! (To JumpStart characters, Reader Rabbit was, of course, enemy #1.)

As Casey's green eyes scanned the page, he noticed a ball that caught his eye - the "ph" ball, which was on sale. I could make "phone," he thought happily. But then he frowned. How many other words is "ph" good for? The goals don't display long and specific things like "-armacy". What does "pharmacy" mean, anyway? (Being a character originally designed for preschoolers, Casey was not overly smart.)

Just then, Casey's sister, a pure white cat named Chastity, walked by.

"Hi, Casey. What're you up to?" the female feline purred.

"Gonna buy a new soccer ball," Casey murmured.

Chastity gave a sigh that Casey thought was exaggerated. "Oh, Casey. Don't you have better things to spend your money on?"

"I don't have very much money," Casey said.

"Which is exactly why you should save up to spend on a good cause," said Chastity.

"Do you just want me to let my team down?" said Casey, anger evident in his normally relaxed voice.

"Well,, I don't. Just saying." Chastity blushed and looked at the ground, then sat down and sighed. Casey knew that his sister really tried to do what was right - even if she was a little self-righteous, she was usually sorry about it afterward.

"Look, Chastity," said Casey. "You're a clever cat - and great at spelling." (Casey had to admit he was a bit jealous of his sister's spelling skills.) "I'm thinking my team would do better if we replaced our 'bl' ball with something else - something more versatile."

"How about just a 'b' by itself?" Chastity suggested.

Casey paused. "That...could work," he said. "I'm surprised I didn't think of that before." He looked at the catalog. "Ooohh!" he whined, stomping his foot on the ground.

"Hey, don't whine!" Chastity admonished. "What's wrong?"

Casey sighed. "It's just that the 'b' ball costs $40!"

"Forty dollars?" Chastity exclaimed. "Soccer balls are sure expensive!"

"It's not that bad a price, really," said Casey. "I just don't have much money. Maybe I should consider another ball...blends and digraphs are worth more points, after all..." Casey rubbed his chin. "Then again, I don't see many cheaper options that are nearly as versable," he continued.

"Versatile," said Chastity.

Casey rolled his eyes. "Whatever."

"Hey! Don't roll your eyes at me!" Chastity said angrily.

Casey sighed. He knew he should be nicer, but he was just annoyed. "I'm sorry. I know I should be nicer. I'm just annoyed." Hey! That's what I just said. "Could you forgive me?"

"Yeah, Casey. I'm sorry for being such a self-righteous jerk!" Chastity said, looking mad at herself. "Why can't I be perfect?"

"It's alright, Chastity," said Casey with a smile. "I forgive you. You don't have to be perfect. You can be imperfect like the rest of us."

"Hmm hmm hmm." Edison Firefly hummed to himself as he looked over his financial records. He sighed. "There's no doubt about it, CJ," he said. "I need more employees for my store!" He smacked his fist into the palm of his hand for added emphasis.

"Sorry I can't be more helpful, but...well. You know. I kind of have a part-time job already," said CJ Frog. (CJ worked for the Super Scoops ice cream parlor.)

"You could quit and work for me - your best friend - full time!" Edison said cheerfully. "Not only would you help my business, but you'd earn money!"

CJ blinked. "Um...I'd love to, but we share finances." Memories of the brief and financially disastrous period of time when Edison gave people money to spend on his products flashed into CJ's mind. Had Edison forgotten the nature of money?

"Ohh, dear," Edison said, smacking himself on the forehead. "Still," he said, "you'd be a big help working for me full time."

"Maybe, but since I'd have to quit my job at Super Scoops, are you sure that, in the end, we'd have more money?"

"Hmmm." Edison rubbed his chin and sighed. "I don't know, CJ." Just then, his eyes (and rear) lit up. "I know, CJ! We could stop stop having adventures! Then we could save a lot of money on travel fees and supplies!"

CJ and Edison chuckled (though Edison did not seem as amused as CJ).

"Seriously, though," said Edison, "I don't think it would hurt to cut back a little, do you? I mean, how about instead of having one adventure a week, we only a year?"

CJ yawned loudly.

"Honestly, CJ! You're adventure obsessed! You're unable to appreciate peace and quiet! If you could, we'd have more money!"

"And spend it on what? Tickets to the petting zoo?" CJ said.

"No...I was thinking of things like, hmmm, repaying our mortgage and debts!" said Edison. "Look, CJ, we may live in a mansion, but we're really not that financially well off. You know that."

" least you have a low cost of living," said CJ. "Especially if you'd subside on pollen and morning dew like a normal firefly."

"So I'm the one who needs to cut back, eh?" said Edison huffily.

CJ rolled his eyes. "I was joking!"

"I knew that."

"Then why didn't you sound like it?"

"Just to annoy you!" Edison giggled.

"Males don't giggle!" CJ said to the author. "Honestly! When will you ever learn?"

"Anyway, I need more employees," said Edison. "Let's start advertising."


Edison sighed and facepalmed. "Oh, CJ..."

Just then, Casey ran to Edison's general store. "Hey, I heard you're hiring!" he said excitedly. "I need some extra money!"

Wow! I should've never doubted my pal's marketing strategy! Edison thought. "Alright, Casey. What are your skills?"

"I think you already know," said Casey. "Being athletic, fun, amazing and awesome!" He grinned.

"You do have a good smile," said Edison. "Maybe you'd put people at ease while they're checking products out. Would you like to work as a cashier?"

"Um, maybe. I'm, err, not the best at numbers." Casey blushed and chuckled.

" could sweep the floor and dust the items," suggested Edison. "Our former sweeper-duster quit to pursue sweeping and dusting at a major corporation. It's really bad for our image, and therefore business, to have dust everywhere."

Casey yawned.

"You know, Casey," said Edison in an annoyed voice, "not all things in life are fun, nor need they be. You have to learn to work hard, even at things you don't especially like. That's the way life is. Plus, you don't have to be employed forever."

"How long will I have to work to earn $40?" said Casey.

"Hmm," said Edison. "If I paid you $6 an hour (they don't have minimum wage in the JumpStart Isles - yippee yay!), you could work for 7 hours and get $42. Thus, you could work for 1 hour each day (including weekends) for exactly one week and earn what you need! Not bad, right?"

"Yeah, but..." Casey sighed. "It'll take a whole week! That's, like, forever!" (To a preschool character, anyway.)

"Aw, c'mon, Casey," said Edison, slightly annoyed. "Don't be so impatient!"

"Yeah, but I'm saving up to get a new soccer ball, and there's a game in five days!"

"Oh," said Edison. "I see." Plus, he thought, if he only spends one hour sweeping and dusting each night, CJ will have to finish up the job. "I guess you'll have to work longer hours for a shorter period of time!"

"Aww, but us preschool characters have short attention spans!" Casey griped.

"Grow up, Casey," Edison advised gruffly. "Since you debuted in 1995, you're technically...17? And you already have your pilot's license! You might as well start acting mature! Anyway, what do you want me to do - give you a raise before you've even started or something?"

"OK, OK, OK. When do you want me to work?"

"Hmm. Well, you should probably sweep the floor after the store's closed, and we close up at, err, 12:00 in the morning," said Edison sheepishly. "That's probably past your bedtime, so you'll have to come at 5:00 in the morning, before the store's opened..."

"Ha! Don't worry about that," Casey said. "Have you forgot you're talking to a cat? HEY! That rhymed!"

Edison smiled and rolled his eyes.

"Us cats stay up late," said Casey, "and as we can see in the dark. Isn't that great?"

"Um, sure, Casey," Edison chuckled. "When would you like to start working?"

"Sure!" said Casey, bouncing up and down with enthusiasm. "I want to get this over with as soon as possible! Uh...not to sound rude, heh heh!"

"Eh, it's not rude," said paused. "Well, OK, it is a little rude, but since you're such an immature rascal, it's no big deal."

"Hey!" said Casey.

"You'll have to work from 12:00 AM to 2:00 AM - two hours - each night," said Edison, ignoring Casey's 'hey'. "Have fun!"

I will...once I get that soccer ball!

The day was over. Edison and CJ sat in their living room. "Ahh, CJ. Your advertising technique was very effective. We've gotten quite a few new employees, haven't we?"

"Yup," said CJ. He yawned and stretched. "What an uneventful day," he said. "We hardly did anything!"

Ignoring CJ's comment, Edison continued. "The only problem is that Casey, our sweeper, only wants temporary employment. Once he gets forty dollars - and it won't take him long at all - he'll quit." He sighed melodramatically.

"Are you so sure about that?" CJ said. "Everyone wants money."

"And nobody wants to sweep," Edison replied. "But I see your point." His eyes (and rear) lit up. "We could entice him into buying some of our products with employee discounts on items he might be interested in."

"Good idea, Edison ol' chump!" said CJ. "I-I mean old chum," he said as Edison looked offended. "The extra time he spends working to get enough money for your products will give us plenty of time to get a full-time sweeper."

"Or," Edison said, "he could become our full-time sweeper."

"Boy, Edison," said CJ happily. "I can feel myself going on that cruise already! Then again, cruises are boring. I can feel myself -"

"CJ, we're not saving up for fun stuff! We're paying off our debts!" Edison exclaimed.

"What a drag," said CJ.

"Look, CJ, sometimes, earning money isn't about fun. It's about doing the right thing. The right thing for everyone is to pay off debts. Borrowing and not paying back is not the kind of thing a trustworthy person does. It will also benefit us, of course, to finally get them paid off and not worry about interest," Edison said.

"Yeah, yeah, sure, Mom," said CJ, rolling his eyes. "I'll brush my teeth every day, stay in school, and make sure I don't get run over by a mail truck. Whatever you say."

"CJ!" Edison snapped.

"OK, OK, I get your point," said CJ. "I'll try to earn some extra money, too." He smiled.

"Now, what do you have up your sleeves?" Edison said. "Uh-oh! It doesn't have anything to do with going half-way across the world and digging for rare and coveted artifacts that every villain in the world is also after, does it?"

"Unfortunately, no," CJ said.

"Phew!" said Edison.

"I'm just going to be a test subject for Hopsalot's inventions, that's all."

"OK. Wait, what?"

"You know. Hopsalot will test his inventions on me."

"Geep! You're going to be a guinea pig?"

" far as I know, Hopsalot's not going to be testing any transformation devices," said CJ, seeming vaguely confused. "Anyway, don't worry about me. Nothing bad will happen to CJ, the brave, tough, handsome, adventurous, amazing, bold, daring, skin-so-thick-lava-can't-burn-it, humble frog.

"Whatever you say, CJ," Edison sighed. "Whatever you say."

Sweep. Sweep. Sweep.

Thousands of flaky, tiny specks of dust were pushed into the dustpan as Casey pushed them with the old, raggedy broom. He coughed. "Maybe you should invest in a better-looking broom," Casey suggested.

"Why?" asked Edison.

"Because..." Casey paused. " would look better?"

"Who cares? You're the only one who'll see it," Edison said.

"You could make one out of a palm tree," Casey said. Imitating Edison's voice, Casey said, "Palm trees are a sight for a sweeper's sore eyes. Let's buy a palm tree!"

"Uh-huh," said Edison in a bored voice. Just then, he remembered he should try to entice Casey to buy his products. "Oh, I suppose that would work, Casey. If you'd like to make a broom like that yourself, buy a palm tree for a mere $20 - employee discounts and such."

"Will you give me your own money to buy it?" Casey said, grinning.

Edison sighed. "Then again, Casey, just focus on your work."

Casey did, and soon, he had advanced considerably in his sweeping and dusting.

"Casey," Edison said, "you'll need somewhere to put all your newly-earned money, won't you?"

"Um, sure," said Casey. "I'll put it in my piggy bank."

"Whoa-whoa-whoa, whaddya sayin', whaddya sayin'?" Edison objected. "Wise guys don't carry around their money in a piggy bank. They carry around this."

"What is that?"

" the Broccoli Wad. It's tough. It's made of a silicone rubber," Edison explained eloquently.

"Ehh," said Casey, seeming disinterested as he dusted the 20th palm tree in a row.

"Really, Casey! You don't want to be seen d-d-d-digging around d-d-d-digging around your piggy bank like a crazy woman crazy woman crazy w-w-w-w cr-cr-cr-cr like a crazy woman, do you? I! Not woman!"

"Uhh..." said Casey.

"Oh, forget about it," grunted Edison. Just then, he had an idea. He picked up his coffee cup. "Has this ever happened to you?" he said, spilling it all over his shirt while only ever-so-slightly aiming it towards his mouth and and letting the little coffee that did enter his mandibles simply fall out of his slack jaw.

"Uhh..." said Casey. "I don't think-"

"Then get the SlobStopper," said Edison. "Because bibs aren't just for babies!"

"Yes, they are," Casey said wisely.

Edison sighed. Maybe the reason we haven't been making as much money recently is because we've been stocking so many stupid products, he thought.

The next day, CJ arrived bright and early to be a test subject for Hops' inventions.

"Great!" said Hopsalot, hopping up and down to signify happiness. "I have a wide variety of ingenious inventions in store! You can be a part of science history!" he said.

"Neat!" said CJ. "How much am I getting paid?"

"$85," said Hops.

"Wow! All that for something little like this?" CJ smiled.

"Step into my new, hand-made hot tub," said Hopsalot. "I call it the HopTub."

"Um...that doesn't exactly seem like a world-class name, to be honest," CJ said. "After all, you aren't supposed to hop in hot tubs."

"Its heat setting is ultra-adjustable and can even be adjusted remotely using the HopTub AdjustaMote," Hops continued, holding up a small white remote control. "Plus, it comes with all sorts of other settings. Download music onto it and be surrounded by your favorite tunes as you relax in the HopTub of hot tubby goodness. It even comes with built-in tunes, such as the big hits 'The P Song', 'Go to School', 'Echolocation', and 'The Noun Song'!"

"Ooh, The Noun Song," said CJ. "Now that's a great classic!"

"Just hop in the HopTub," said Hopsalot. "It's already kind of hot. I'm going to be turning up the heat with the AdjustaMote, 'k?" CJ hopped in.

"Ahh..." Every muscle of CJ's froggy body seemed to relax in the steaming tub. Slowly, the heat increased. "Mmm." CJ felt his 'cold' blood get warmer and warmer. "Ooh...ahh." Warmer. Warmer. Hotter.

"GAH!" yelped CJ, jumping 3 feet in the air and, once he reached the ground, running as fast as he could away from the HopTub. "What were you trying to do, Hopsalot? Boil me alive?" he yowled.

"Uh...uhh..." said Hopsalot. "Well, er..."

"What were you trying to do?" CJ exclaimed.

Hops gulped. "J-just an experiment! Heh heh. I guess I should've checked Snopes, shouldn't I?"

"HUH?" said CJ.

"Never mind!" said Hopsalot. "Ha ha. Just a joke."

"Because me boiling alive provides you with such great amusement," growled CJ, rolling his eyes. "What fun."

"Er, sorry!" said Hops, sweating. "Um, um...let's move on to my next project! Hee hee!"

"Oh, the things I'll do for that friend of mine!" CJ said.

"Huh?" said Hops.

CJ sighed. "I might as well tell you. I'm planning a surprise birthday present for Edison - I'm going to pay off our debts for our recent Gobi desert trip all by myself. At least, that's what I want to do. I know that trip's debts have been the main thing driving him nuts recently. He keeps talking about debts generally, but I know he means that one specifically." He sighed. "I planned for that trip so poorly. I got some new things I didn't really need, and didn't buy nearly enough water."

"Bummer," said Hops.

"Yeah, I had to buy marked-up water in the middle of the desert!" He smacked himself on the forehead. "And I ended up buying a whole pool-full of water and a pool to put it in!"

"Why?" asked Hops.

CJ gave his Lagomorph friend a weird look. "I'm a frog, Hops. We need to stay wet."

"Oh." He paused. "Then maybe a trip to the desert wasn't such a good idea?"

"Yeah, I'm kind of thinking it wasn't," CJ grumbled.

"How close are you to making your goal of paying the debt off?" Hops asked.

"Well, I've been doing lots of little things to get more money - often without Edison knowing. For example, I scrubbed Frankie's pizza machine every day for a week without Edison knowing. It got me $140 dollars."

"Wow!" said Hops. "$20 a day just to scrub a pizza machine?"

"Ohh, trust me, Hops, it was not generous," said CJ. "That machine gets incredibly dirty. And smelly, too!"

"Anyway, how close are you overall?" said Hops.

"Err, well..." CJ gulped. "I need a thousand dollars week." A sweat drop trickled down CJ's brow.

"But frogs don't have sweat glands!" Hops complained.

Suddenly, Frankie started chasing Casey and Hops and CJ ate Edison.

"OK, OK, author, I get your point!" Hops grumped. The calamity disappeared.

CJ sighed. "What am I gonna do, Hopsalot? It's just gonna end up as another belated birthday present, eh?"

Eleanor appeared. "It's 'going to', not 'gonna'." Then she vanished.

"Well...maybe." Hopsalot took a deep breath. "Unless."

"Sorry to bother you, but those were totally not sentences," Eleanor said, appearing and disappearing.

"Unless what?" CJ asked, hoping Eleanor would not reappear and claim that was a fragment. (She didn't, because the teleporter that she had been testing for Hopsalot just broke.)

"Unless..." Hops breathed deeply. "You take a job to be my test subject every day!" He grinned madly.

"Will I get boiled alive again?" CJ asked, disgruntled.

"Um...maybe!" said Hopsalot.

"Aww, hey, why not," said CJ. "I need the cash. And since JumpStart is a kid's game, it's not like I'm going know. Perish."

Hops gasped. "Don't say that word!"

"Hey! I didn't say the, uh, three-letter D word! Kids won't know what 'perish' means!"

"If they use JumpStart, they might," said Hops. "Anyway, I'm happy to have you as a guinea pig."

"Why? Have you perfected your transformer?" CJ asked.

"," said Hopsalot, looking puzzled. "But I have perfected my Transfabulator!"

"Transfabulator?" CJ repeated.

"Yeah. I recently discovered that this geeky fox kid from a different dimension created a device of the same name, but I assure you they're unrelated. Give it a try!" Hops rolled the device (it was wheeled) towards his amphibious companion. It seemed to essentially consist of a large, clunky device vaguely resembling a machine gun with lots of exposed wires and electronic-looking goodness. However, where there would usually be a hole for bullets to shoot out of, it had a flat panel. It also had large handles on the sides.

"You press the panel to your chest and pull the handles," said Hops, grinning.

"OK..." CJ took a deep breath and performed the operation.

"Oooh..." Casey glanced at the shelves of the store. His original plan was to just buy the soccer ball, but now that he thought about it...

Once I've worked for 8 hours, I'll have a total of $48. That'll give me some extra money...wait! Maybe I'll need the extra $8 for, what am I saying? We have a ReaderSports store in JumpStartville, and their prices are usually the same as the catalog's...unless they're out of stock. Nah! That won't happen.

He glanced at some spelling/phonics flashcards. Ooh, these could help my soccer skills! ...Nah! Flashcards are boring. The entire point of JumpStart is to avoid using them, right?

He planned to glance at his watch to look at how many hours before he started sweeping, but he didn't have a...That's it! I'll get a watch! He ran out of the Phonics/Spelling aisle, passed the Reading aisle (which contained books) and the Money Skills aisle (home of wallets, piggy banks and Broccoli Wads), and rushed over to the Telling Time aisle to get a watch. (Hey, it figures that a store in JumpStart would organize its aisles by school subjects!)

"This looks good!" he said, picking an analog watch. "Oh, who am I kidding? I'm a preschool character. I can't tell time!"

"I can teach you how to tell time," said Frankie walking by.

"Whoa! You surprised me!" said Casey.

"Hey! I can help!" said Pierre, the music-loving bear, walking by.

They began sinking. I mean, singing. *facepalm*

"We'll teach you how to tell ti-i-ime with a song that rhy-y-ymes!" they began.

"This is so cheesy. Pierre, you're a preschool character too! How do you know how to tell time?" Casey said.

They ignored their kitty pal and continued.

"To tell time on an analog clock

Hey, just look! So many in stock!

You gotta know what each ha-and means

Hey, this is the best clock-stock I've ever seen!

The short one is hours and the long one is minutes

Rhyming this is hard, Frankie! I think that I'll forget it!

Whatever the hour hand points tooooo

That's the hour it issssss

Whatever the minute hand points tooooo

Multiply that number by five to get the minutes yeah-yeah!"

Pierre played a few piano notes to finish up the song. (Where he got the piano, we may never know.)

"Too bad I don't know how to multiply!" Casey said.

"We can teach you that real fast!" said Frankie.

"It'll be a blast!" said Pierre.

"5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50!" they sang. (Little were they aware of the fact that the garden gnomes in a nearby aisle had just come alive to dance along.)

"Um...OK..." said Casey. "Oh, look! Here's a nice digital watch."

Pierre and Frankie sighed.

"Don't worry, guys. It bugs me too when I try to teach kids something and it doesn't seem helpful," said Casey. "But it always turns out to be helpful in the end. For example, once, I was trying to teach a kid stuff in my JumpStart Artist concentration game, but she didn't really seem to like it. Since she didn't finish the game, her progress report on my game showed 0% for my game. Her sister saw it and concluded that the girl was jumping to conclusions about not liking my game without even trying it! I think I really teached -"

"Taught!" Eleanor yelped from a nearby aisle.

"- that girl good conflict resolution skills," Casey said, nodding. "Anyway, this is supposed to be a story about spending and saving, so if you'll excuse me..."

"Fine by me, Casey," said Frankie. "Boy, Pierre, I guess we better work on our impromptu educational song-writing skills!"

Speaking of "story"...

CJ felt a current of pure glunka-shmumfa chaotic fury tingle through his amphibious, green body which differed from that of a toad's in having smooth skin and more dependence of water.

"Thanks for the gratuitous educational value!" CJ would've said, but he was too busy being zooper glunka shmumfied. BAZOOM!

"Whuhhg..." CJ felt dizzy. "Where...where am I?"

Suddenly, Edison flew up to him. "HELP, CJ!" he screamed. "Kissin' Kate Barwillow is trying to eat me!"

"Oh...kay?" said CJ.

"And so are your tadpole cousins, even though tadpoles are usually herbivorous!" said Edison.

"Uhh...OK..." He rested on the panel extending from the Transfabulator. Bazoomph! He was zooper glunka shmumfied again!

"Wait! I thought I was supposed to press the levers to make it work!" CJ would've said, if pure chaotic energy wasn't cycling through his body.

"OK, where am I now?" he asked. He seemed to be in a forest. Through the trees, he saw some cats.

"Hey, look, I caught an otter!" a pure white cat said, carrying the aforementioned creature in her mouth. (No hard feelings, RBW.)

"Ha!" said a red cat. "That's nothing compared to what I'm about to catch?"

"What?" asked a silver tabby.

"An enormous frog!" the red cat yelled.

At first, CJ didn't think the cat could do much damage to him, so he didn't even run. A few deep scratches later, he bounded over to the Transfabulator as fast as his not-so-little legs could carry him.

A few gloonk glunk shmumf energy blasts later, he found a hospital! How convenient!

A pink, slightly egg-shaped creature bounced up to him. "I C U!" it said, giggling. It threw an egg from its pouch at CJ, healing him instantly.

"Thanks!" said CJ.

Just then, some nurses walked by, wheeling around a red-haired teenage girl on a hospital bed.

"MIIIISTY gets HOSP-italized, HOSP-italized, HOSP-italized..." they were singing melodramatically.

CJ shrugged and transfabulated himself again.

He landed in a room.

"What is that?" a red echidna asked to a geeky fox kid (with two tails).

"This is the transfabulator," the fox replied.

"What does it do?" the echidna asked.

"It transfabulates people," said the fox.

CJ smiled knowingly and transfabulated himself. With Hops' transfabulator, not the fox's. (It would be interesting if he did use the fox's, though, but I've already thrown enough monkey wrenches into this story.)

CJ plopped right next to Frankie's mouth. Frankie was singing "I DON' WANNA BE AN AAAAGENT!" at the top of his lungs. CJ quickly transfabulated himself so as to not endure more ear damage. But he had to wonder to himself...Wait a second, how do I get home?

He ended up witnessing a weasel, a bat, and a bat-winged weasel being turned into genies, a flattened Edison being inflated with a bicycle pump, some warrior cats at a prom, Edison turning evil and re-enacting the events of JumpStart Advanced 1st Grade with a robotic clone of Jimmy, the Cybersquad and pretty much every single character the JumpSonic girls had heard of at that time congregating in JumpStartville, two short-beaked echidnas naming their inexplicably long-beaked son "Pinocchio", a Meowclops painting blue stripes on itself, Leslie getting a crazy luck streak on Neopets, some children learning of the evils of Gym Leaders, some fish from Neptune, some people eating Koffing-soul-flavored lollipops, a Smeargle with an out-of-control tail, Matt being turned into a tiger with no eyes, a Zott being inadvertently duplicated by a device created by a police-hat-wearing T-Bone clone with a random, purposeless dog named Sammy thrown into the mix, Supernanny the Hyrax rebuking Sonic, Mini-Shadow's secret being exposed, a Chikorita, Vulpix, Nidoking, Graveler, and Medicham all trying to dance, and much more before he finally returned to The JumpStart Gang Spends and Saves.

He collapsed.

"Hmmm..." said Casey as he examined the digital watch he wanted. It was bright-green-and-yellow-striped with a blue watch rim, a rubbery texture and a backlit screen. It cost $10.

"I really like it...and the price isn't too bad...I just wish it was a little less expensive," said Casey. He glanced at another watch. It had a spotted wristband and a somewhat similar color scheme. It was only $4, but its quality looked cheaper.

"Ehh," said Casey. The $4 watch looked a lot like a thin rubber bracelet and was a bit ugly. He decided that he'd go for the $10 one. But is that really wise? I'll have to get $2 from my savings, and not counting the money I've earned from Edison these past few days, I only have $10. When all is said and done, I'll only have $8 to spend on...well, anything else!

Casey glanced at the cheaper watch. It wasn't that much worse than the other watch. Casey just didn't really like it. And it looks so cheaply made. How long will it last?

Just then, Casey's wandering eyes spotted a $6.50 watch that was plain red. Next to it was a similarly priced blue watch. It'll match my cap, Casey thought, and it's both less expensive than the $10 one and better quality than the $4 one. He smiled. This looks like a winner!

He was going to buy it right then and there, but just as he was reaching for it, he had second thoughts.

Uh-oh. What if they marked up the "B" soccer ball or something? Then again, who cares? I'm the kind of cat who lives life on the edge! He happily snatched up the watch in his claws and smiled, going to the checkout aisle to buy it.

Just then, he remembered. He didn't have his money with him! He smacked his forehead.

"Maybe I should get a Broccoli Wad," he said to himself. And some pants with pockets.

"So, CJ..." Hops said, holding a clipboard. "You seem to indicate on this questionnaire that the transfabulator needs some...uh...minor alterations."

"To say the least," CJ grumbled.

"But, hey, it's an amazing device...extremely advanced, in fact," Hops said.

"What's the point of it if you don't get to choose where you transfabulate to?" CJ said a bit snappily.

"Um...well..." Hops sighed. "Your words really hurt my self-esteem, CJ," Hops said in a soft, quivering voice. "It's...that... tr-tr-ransfabulator... it's the most amazing thing I've ever created..."

CJ rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on, Hops! You and I both know that's not true! Even your HopTub is better!"

"B-but CJ!" Hops spluttered. "Can't you see I'm cr-crying?"

" are?" CJ said.

Hops sighed. "Oh, great! Two more inventions that don't work!"


"The InstaCry and the Sympathizer," said Hops. "Both a bust, clearly."

"Uh...yeah. Say, how much money have I made so far?"

"Well," Hopsalot said with a sigh, "you finally convinced me to give up that stupid Transfabulator idea. I guess that's worth a lot. Like, maybe $250..."

"Wow!" said CJ with a smile.

"Well, I have a lot of money left over from a few of my best-selling inventions, such as the Puffybunny Reading Tutor and the iJuice," he explained with a smile. "And anyway, it's to help a friend."

CJ smiled back.

"Now, why not test some new inventions?" asked Hops.

"I'd be happy to," smiled CJ.

"Smiled? That's a weird dialog tag," Eleanor would've said had she been there. "Plus, you're doing an awful lot of smiling. Why not mix it up with a few grins?"

"You could help me with my teleporter," Hops suggested.

"Great idea!" Eleanor would've replied.

"For now, why not try out my Massageez? Then you can try out my Anything-Jammerator. Oh, and I'm giving my website a radical new redesign and it'd be great if you could help me test for usability..."

"Hmmm." Casey found himself in his lawn chair with the ReaderSports Catalog once again. He was having second thoughts.

He decided to buy a Broccoli Wad. (He realized he already had some pants with pockets and just forgot to wear them.) He remembered the conversation he had with Edison...

"I think I'd like to buy a Broccoli Wad," said Casey.

"Good choice," said Edison. "It keeps all your cash and cards right here."

"Broccoli Wad," Casey said happily. "Thing's so small you can take it anywhere!"

"Sure! You can take it to the gym, you can take it to the beach, you can take it to the pool, you can take it anywhere!" Edison said.

"You can take it to the beach, you can take it to the racetrack, you can take it to the movies!" Casey replied.

"Why wait? You can take it outside!" Edison said.

Suddenly, Casey was greatly amused... "Ah-ha-ha-hahahaha..."

Casey knew he could buy 4 Broccoli Wads for "only ten dollars". But after he bought the watch and the soccer ball, he would have a total of $11.50...and if he then got a Broccoli Wad, well... If he only had $1.50, there wouldn't be much point in having a Broccoli Wad (much less four), now would there?

He rubbed his chin. He had a few ideas:

1) Find out if there's a way to buy just one Broccoli Wad for cheaper.

2) Buy a cheaper soccer ball.

3) Keep working for Edison.

4) Instead of getting a Broccoli Wad, just look for where you put that wallet your mom gave you your last birthday.

#1 would be easy enough to find out; he'd just ask Edison the next time he saw him. He was seriously considering #2 and decided that #3 would very likely be a good idea - as long as his athletic commitments didn't conflict with his job. #4, however, was practically out of the question. A Broccoli Wad fits in your pocket and is e-e-e-easier than a wallet, he thought. Wise guys don't carry that wallet! he knew.

Right now, he was seeing if he could do #2. He thought that "b" was the best ball, but now, he had second thoughts. In order to do a more thorough study, he also had printed out a list of the most common word families displayed on the goals in the stadia he regularly played at, which were:


They were certainly not the only world families displayed on the goals - merely the 7 most common. As he looked at the list, he realized that the "b" ball still looked like a good choice. There's bat, bake, no "bame", beep, bell, bill, and bone. A full 6 of the 7 most common word families are compatible with "b"! Are there any other balls that are both cheaper AND do as good? I doubt it... As he looked at the list, he knew that he needed to replace "bl" for sure. But with what?

There were several digraph and blend balls that were a bit cheaper than the "b" ball, but none could do nearly as good as the "b", he didn't think...wait. "Sh" actually did quite well: No "shat", yes shake, yes shame, yes sheep, yes shell, yes shill (which it's surprising that Casey knew), yes shone...Wow! The "sh" ball does just as good as the "b" ball...wait a second. Wait am I saying? I already have that one. Everyone has a "sh" ball. I guess I allowed my zeal to outrun my discretion. What does that even mean? He shrugged. Ah, well. Maybe I should just stick with the "b" ball. Yeah...I think I will. I guess I'll just keep working for Edison and buy the Broccoli Wad later. I'll check with Edison if I can buy a single Broccoli Wad for less, but for now... He sighed. I'll just have to be patient. He groaned at the very thought. He could practically hear Chastity peeking into his thoughts and chastising him. Chastity and chastisement. Those two words went together well, Casey thought.

CJ sat at home while Edison was at working at his store, plopped in an armchair with his wallet in his hand (because apparently CJ wasn't a wise guy - though Edison thinks he is sometimes). He opened the wallet and, looking at his recently-earned money, CJ sighed. He should've been happy. During the past few days, he'd manage to acquire from Hopsalot a full $1,000. But then, he realized that, actually, he needed an extra $500 in addition to what he already had earned in order to pay off the debt. I earned so much from Hops. But at the moment, Hops is done testing his inventions and is busy tweaking them...ohh, what will I do? I just have to find SOMEthing.

CJ glanced at a book on his table. It was a copy of Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone that he had received through interdimensional transport. Aha! he thought. Why not find an ancient tomb and recover a valuable artifact? That'll get my $500 and then some! Then he frowned. I'd have to go without Edison, though... He'd wonder where I'd gone, and when I told him I'd gone adventuring without him, he'd probably be hurt to his very core! I know deep down inside, he loves adventures. He sighed. He'd probably never be my friend again. He might even sell me into slavery to raise funds to pay off the debt! I'd feel guilty forever, and I would feel so guilty that I couldn't even bear the thought of seeing his face again, lest the guilt plunge me into utter depression. I'd live in both physical slavery and utter denial for the rest of my life! CJ shuddered. would all be because I didn't buy enough bottles of Aqualife Pure Spring Water for the Gobi desert trip and went into debt!


Once the image on the screen of this happening flickered off, a tall fennec fox in a business suit clapped his paws. "Brah-voe, See-jay, Brah-voe!" he said happily, his broad ears twitching with pleasure. "Tis will-be t'perfect ad to a'vertise Akkalife Per Sping Wah-ter. Thank-oo f'r workeen f'r-me." The sandy-colored creature smiled and shook hands with the frog.

"No problem, Mr. Zerda!" CJ replied. "It was my pleasure! Especially since I'm being paid for it!"

"Most ser-ten-lee," Mr. Zerda said. "Heer yor-paycheck," he continued, handing the paper to CJ.

"Wow! This is more than enough!" The green amphibian smiled broadly. "Thanks!"

"Oh, yoo dees-urve it all," said Mr. Zerda. "Ench-oy!"

"By the way, where do you come from?" asked CJ, curious about the accent.

"Nowhere. My accent is just for fun," said Mr. Zerda. "God bless you, CJ!"

" too!" CJ hopped off, happy (if not a bit bewildered).

"Hey, Edison," Casey asked as he swept the floor. "I was wondering about something."

"Oh? What?"

"Well, you see, I was thinking of buying a Broccoli Wad..."

Edison looked shocked.

"What?" asked Casey.

"Oh, uh, nothing," said Edison. "I don't know, it's just that they're, er, not exactly our most popular item. But they're high-quality items, you know, they're tough, and, uh, made of silicone rubber."

"Yeah, I know. The thing is, I know you can get 4 for $10 -"

"Actually, since you're an employee, you get 25% off."

"Really? What's 25% off $10?" said Casey.

"Well, 25% is a percentage, right? 'Percent' means 'per hundred'. What's 100 minus 25? 75, of course. So the discounted price is 75% of the original price. What's 75% of $10? Well, remember that 'per cent' is 'per hundred'. Thus, we can conclude that 75% is equal to 0.75. 0.75 times 10 equals, what? Well, when you multiply decimals, you just multiply normally, except, at the end, you move the point back. How much? As many as the total number of times the point is moved back in the original numbers multiplied. Thus, the answer is...?"


"$0.75, of course!" Edison exclaimed.

Casey nodded.

"Wait," said Edison. "Wait, wait, wait. I meant $7.50. Heh heh heh." The firefly giggled lightly.

"Okaaay..." Casey said. "The question is, can I buy just one?"

" can buy 4 and give 3 back to me!" Edison grinned. "But aside from that, no, not really."

"Aw, shoot." Casey kicked the ground. "Wait. Do I have to give them back or can I sell them back?"

"Why would I want them?" said C.J. with a shrug.

"Hmmm..." Casey sighed. "Well...I guess you wouldn't." He sighed.

"But you might be able to sell them to someone else," said Edison.

"Yeah...I guess so," said Casey. "Anyway, know that I know employees get 25% off...well, there's a watch I wanted that cost $6.50. How much would I have to pay, discounts considered?"

"Hmmm." Edison flew over to the iPhone he kept on his desk and navigated to the Calculator. "0.75 x 6.50 = 4.875. Rounding up, that's $4.88."

"Aww, why can't I pay you half a penny?" asked Casey.

"Manage to slice one and I'll think about it," Edison said with a smile.

"Why can't you round down?"

"Because I don't want to," said Edison honestly. "Plus, it's unconventional."

"OK, OK, it's a good price, anyway."

Casey finished up sweeping. As he swept, he thought.

OK, so, after this, I'll have, counting the $10 I've already saved up, $58 dollars. Once I buy the ball, I'll have $18. Once I buy the watch, I'll have...uhh...

"$13.22," said Edison. "No, make that $13.12."

Yeah, $13.12, Casey thought. Wait, did Edison just read my mind?

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I did," said Edison.


"Not really. I was just figuring it out myself and was thinking aloud. Then, because you're way too predictable and gullible -"


"- I decided to see if I could trick you."

"You're the nicest and most honest person I've ever met," Casey snarled.

"Thanks!" Edison giggled.

"MALES DON'T GIGGLE!" Casey and Edison both yelled at the author. This caused her to be rather mad, as you will see.

"Anyway," Casey giggled, "if I then buy a Broccoli Wad, I'll have -"

"$5.62," Edison giggled.

"But, if I could theoretically sell 3 Broccoli Wads for 1/4th of $10 each -" Casey giggled.

"Which would be $2.50," Edison giggled.

"Then I'll have..." Casey giggled.

"$7.50 + $5.62, which equals $13.12," Edison giggled.

"Whoa!" Casey giggled, astounded. "If I can sell 3 Broccoli Wads each for 1/4th of the original, non-discounted purchase price, I could get a Broccoli Wad for free! WOW!"

Edison sighed happily - I-I mean giggled. "Oh, children! They can see the awesomeness in the most simple of things!" He giggled. "Of course, the little tyke is assuming that he can actually sell the Broccoli Wads for $2.50 each! Oh-ho-ho! He's so childishly optimistic!"

"Don't talk to me like I'm not here!" Casey giggled angrily. He sighed - I mean, giggled. "StoryMaker! The giggle gag is getting old!" he giggled.

"Yeah," Edison giggled. "It's not even funny because, just like 'said', 'giggled' is growing invisible."

"Oh, don't mind her," Casey said. "Wow! She finally fixed it!" Casey sneered. "Wait a second," he expostulated.

"Ignore it!" Edison orated. "Anyway, would you like to buy the Broccoli Wad and watch now?"

"Huh?" Casey screamed.

"Here's your final paycheck," Edison cackled.

"Huh? I'm fired?" Casey yawned, panicked.

"Well, I didn't know you wanted to work longer," Edison explained. (Aw man, that made sense!)

"Well, I do," Casey barked. "It's nice to have money, and I'll need to have something to put in my Broccoli Wad." He winked.

Edison winked back.

"How was Super Scoops?" Edison asked the next day as CJ plopped on the couch. "And don't plop on the couch like that."

"Why do you care so much, and fine," said CJ.

Edison looked confused. "Were those two mixed up, or not?"

"I'm not even sure." CJ yawned. "It was pretty good - tiring, but exciting!"

"Plopping on the couch, or your job?" Edison asked.

CJ gave his firefly friend a quick, but friendly glare. "Whaddya think?" He continued. "There was this huge, ferocious looking bird! He said he wanted ice cream, but I knew he actually fancied me for desert! But I was unfazed! I gave him such a big bowl of ice cream that there's no way he'd have any room left!" CJ puffed up his chest.

"Careful, CJ! You might burst!" Edison cracked.

"Huh?" said CJ.

"You know, the Aesop fable?" asked Edison.

"Oh, not those discriminatory tales." CJ rolled his eyes. "Anyway, it was pretty good day overall."

"Did you remember my birthday? It's tomorrow," Edison said with a smile.

"Of course I remember it, Edison ol' buddy," said CJ. Suddenly, Edison's face darkened.

"Oh, CJ," said the firefly with a sigh. "We act like we're such great buddies, but sometimes, I feel like our friendship is superficial...just something we made up to cover up the emptiness in our lives."

"Huh?" said CJ.

"You keep calling me things like 'old chum' and 'ol' buddy'. What true friends use cheap gimmicks like that? It's like you're trying to prove your my friend by your words, not actions."

"WHAT?" said CJ. "You can't be serious!"

"You're right, I'm not," said Edison with a smile.

"Uuggh..." CJ groaned.

"Sorry, I just have to liven things up sometimes," said Edison. There was a pause in the conversation. "Anyway," Edison resumed, "I saw an...interesting commercial today."


"Yeah, it was for some kind of bottled water... Aqualife Pure Spring Water, I think."

"Oh no!" CJ moaned.


"Now your birthday surprise is ruined!" CJ cried.

Edison blinked, seeming befuddled. "You were going to surprise me on my birthday by training a crabeater seal to eat crabs?"


"The ad featured lots of animated aquatic wildlife in order to transfer your emotions about them to your emotions about their bottled water. And I'm pretty sure it showed a crabeater seal, at the Antarctic and all, eating a crab. I recorded in on my DVR or whatever it's called so you could look at it and confirm or deny my suspicions."


"Well, what did you think I saw? An ad where you appeared and were worried that I'd sell you into slavery to pay off the debts for our Gobi desert trip?"

"Yeh - wha? You DID see it!"

"See what?"


"I didn't see it. I merely heard you murmuring about it in your sleep." Edison smiled

"What were you doing in my room?" CJ demanded.

"I wasn't in your room," said Edison. "I just keep a recorder in your room at all times while you sleep."


"For the same reason that you keep one in my room," said Edison. "We're just making sure that there are no screams, right? And listening in to any funny sleep talking is...just a fun bonus." He smiled.

CJ gave an awkward smile back. "So I guess the beans are spilled, eh?"

"Yes, CJ," said Edison, "and I must say, I'm rather...proud of you. It took a while for it to sink in, but when it did...I must confess, I was a bit surprised. I mean, you could've given me some gimmicky or flashy gift, but instead, you did something...surprisingly practical. I mean, it's's like you were thinking just about me and not about yourself. I know you'd rather give me something exciting and don't care for the... commonsensical side of things. I feel like you're caring about me and not yourself. I'm quite grateful."

CJ smiled. "Well, it's my pleasure. Not to mention my responsibility. That debt was my fault. I did the least I could do."

"Gak! And now you're being humble! Now this is a birthday treat!" Edison declared.

"Well, wasting bunches of money tends to be humiliating," CJ said with a smile. "Anyway, I'm just glad you like the present."

Casey smiled to himself as he stood in his yard and held the 'b' soccer ball in his paw. Ever since the day he decided to replace his 'bl' soccer ball, he'd gone on quite a financial journey full of twists and turns. And the most recent one was rather interesting.

Once again, Casey's sister Chastity walked up to Casey. "Hello there, Casey," she said. "How are things... faring with you?"

"Pretty good!" Casey tossed his ball into the air and caught it again.

"Oh! You got your new soccer ball?" Chastity said. "That's nice."

"Ya think so?" Casey said with a smirk. "Do you know what I think is nice? Helping others."

Chastity looked taken aback.

"I've been on a pretty neat journey, Chaste. I've earned some money and I've had to learn how to manage it - the right way to spend and save. And through hard work and careful management, I've been able to buy myself not just this soccer ball, but also a watch and this brilliant piece of silicone rubber known as a Broccoli Wad. But I agree with you, Chaste. I do need to think about others. And it was the funniest thing. Just when I had decided that maybe I wouldn't even buy that soccer ball after all, something interesting happened.

"You see, Broccoli Wads come in packs of four. I decided to buy them before the soccer ball so it'd be easy to carry my money around. I only wanted one, of course. Then, Hopsalot came up to me and asked me to come to his house. He then examined the Broccoli Wads and realized that they were rare, first-edition Broccoli Wads that were made of a special compound of silicone rubber that makes them good at conducting some kind of energy...called 'chaos' or something like that... that powers the...uh...I don't what to call this, it's this machine he has...the Transfabblater or something like that? And he could use them control the energy and transfabblate to specific...stories? Or something like that. Anyway, I don't exactly get why he wanted them, but he sure did! And he paid me -" Casey's body began trembling and wiggling and jumping - "$100!"

"WOW!" said Chastity. "That's a lot!"

"Y-yeah! I know!" said Casey. "At first, I thought I'd, well, have a 'ball' and buy a bunch of soccer balls - but then, I realized that this was just a big blessing from God, and that I should, you know, give it back to him. So, I decided to give most of it to - the Kauffman Project."

Chastity squealed. "My favorite charity! Oh thank you Casey - wait...most of it?" The sweet, feminine white cat raised an eyebrow.

"Yup," said Casey. "I also got this." Casey handed a book to her sister.

"Eep! It's the Calvinistic Cats Complete Comic Collection!" Chastity was delighted.

"Glad you like it," said Casey. "'Cause, you know, it's not about me."

Chastity smiled. "Or me."

"Or me!" said CJ.

"Or me," said Edison.

"Or me!" said Hopsalot.

"Or me," said Frankie.

"Or me!" said Pierre.

"'Or me' probably isn't a proper sentence but then again, who cares in dialogue?" said Eleanor.

"Orm-ee," said Mr. Zerda.

"Or-ah me-ah," said Mario.

"Or me," said Kisha.

"Or *bzzrp* me!" said Botley.

"Or me," giggled Roquefort.

"Or me," chuckled Ratso.

"OR ME!" Pinkie Pie divulged.

"Or me," Firestar admitted.

"Or me," Dr. O acknowledged.

"Or me!" Cotton Candy noted.

"Or me," Seth said.

Everyone stared at each other.

"Then...who is it about?" asked an Everything Giraffe.

A scoff was heard. "Well, duh! ME!" Jayfeather cackled.

Everyone glared at him. And he disappeared.

Probably forever.

"Well, now that that's over with," Casey said, "let's have a party!"

And as they partied, they couldn't help but say:

"Why didn't the JumpSonic girls

make up Spends and Saves?"