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July 25, 2011 / milesandhisfavorites

The Hensonian Magic Part Three: The Rock Is Not Enough

So there I was, very confused, outside a gigantic structure.  In the middle of a city where most of the classic Muppet characters lived.  After four days, I was getting used to it.  But I still didn’t know where Mildred Huxtetter was planning on taking me.  We’d spent the last two nights in a rented car in the Bide-A-Wee Trailer Court, and I was getting a little anxious.  Let’s get back to the gigantic structure, shall we?

It reminded me of Madison Square Garden, only it could have held a thriving city of Gorgs.  Since Gorgs are twenty-two feet tall on average, that’s quite a building.  It was made entirely out of white metal, and a large banner in green print that was strung above the set of automatic doors read: MUPPET CITY CONVENTION CENTER-WELCOMES THE NORTH AMERICAN SOCIETY OF TINKERERS!  “So,” I said to Mildred, who had purple skin, a beaklike mouth, and curly auburn hair.  “Why are we here?  Not that I don’t know who the North American Society Of Tinkerers are, or anything, but why?”

Mildred looked at me as if it were elementary.

“Because, the Tinkerers are known for having Fraggle holes, or entrances to Fraggle Rock, opening up at their annual conventions!  And the rumors from the front lines say that there’s going to be a massive Darkhand assault on the Rock, and since that area is one of the Big Muppet Three, we can’t let anything bad happen to it!  Not during a crucial period in the war like this!”

We walked in, and I was instantly taken aback.  The convention center was about the size of seven football fields, and the grass floor was jam-packed with white canvas tents, and booths with presentation boards, and glossy wood stages.  And everywhere, people in plaid suits, both people with felt skin and yarn hair, and people who looked surprisingly human, were walking, talking, and presenting.  It was chaotic.  Me and Mildred practically swam through the crowd, finally reaching a massive white tent, under which were about a dozen assorted aircraft.  A man completely covered in a polyester cloak and matching 10-gallon hat was leaning against what looked like a Vietnam-era helicopter made out of wood.  Mildred spoke in a loud whisper.

“And before you ask, the Tinkerers have had their convention here for the past three years, and every time, the tunnel to Fraggle Rock has appeared under the Aircraft Display.  Go figure.  By the way, I would avoid the man leaning against the Biodegradable Whopper-Chopper over there.  Rumor has it he’s a low ranking Darkhand.”

That’s when the man shook off the cloak and hat, revealing-nothing, except for a pale right hand.  There was only one character I knew who’s hand was the only thing you saw-Ned Shimmelfinney, frenemy to Doc, and owner of a psycho cat.  Just then, a creature that was either a very large cat or a very small tiger jumped from behind a vehicle that looked like a giant purple steel pelican, and brushed up against Ned’s foot-or at least, what seemed to be his foot.  Perfect.  Two Darkhands in a heavily populated area.  The cat, Fluffinella, lunged at Mildred.  Ned stuck out his right hand, clenching it into a fist, and charged.

I ducked out of the way just in time and stuck out my foot, tripping Ned and causing him to smash face first into a solar car with dove wings, but it didn’t faze him.  Mildred had pulled out a weird gadget-what looked like a small coconut, only its husk looked razor sharp.  She plunged her fist into the center of the device, causing it to instantly shatter.  But instead of milk, a ball of water hovered into the air.  Mildred slapped the water ball, causing it to smash into Fluffinella.  Now, Fluffinella was a cat, and one thing cats hate is water.  So it didn’t surprise me when the feline Darkhand hissed, yowled, and pounced onto her owner.  The two went staggering back, and I quickly dove into the cockpit of what looked like a giant bronze cylinder.  I pressed a random button, and suddenly I heard a lot of hissing, clicking, and whirring.  Suddenly, I was twenty feet in the air.

The exterior cameras in the back of the cockpit showed me that the cylinder had transformed into a bronze humanoid figure, with spiky bristles like an insect.  The figure had rust-colored cicada wings sprouting out of its back, each one the size of a boat sail.  I pulled a switch, and the figure swung an arm, randomly hitting Ned and Fluffinella, who were then smashed against a fighter jet that appeared to be made out of lime Jell-O.  Unsurprisingly, they got sucked into the vehicle, which then blasted a jet of flames and started flying about, tearing down the entire tent and sending the two Darkhands rocketing into the atmosphere, never to be seen again.  That was about the time the ground came out from under me.

First, there was a slight earthquake, then the ground cracked in two, sending me (still in the giant robot suit) and Mildred plummeting into a seemingly endless abyss.  At some point in our fall, which seemed to last hours, the robot suit shattered, leaving just me.  Finally, a dim light appeared far below us.  I braced myself for collision, until I hit a surprisingly bouncy slide made entirely out of crystalline rods about a foot long and a centimeter thick.  Doozer Sticks, the main building material for Fraggle Rock.  Made out of radish dust, Doozer Sticks comprised all Doozer constructions, and provided an abundant snack food for any passing Fraggle.  We had just arrived in Fraggle Rock.

We slid down the Doozer stick slide, until we entered a large, white, sterile-looking room.  Dozens of slides came out from tunnels in the walls, each one transporting all manner of creatures.  A crazy-looking purple man in a kilt soared out of one, skidding to a stop.  There was a set of automatic doors leading out of the room and onto what looked like a city street.  Most of the people around were Fraggles, furry humanoid creatures that came up to my waist.  But some were the normal Muppet people I’d seen everywhere.  Mildred took my hand and we wandered out the door.  We were in a crowded city, like New York, only the skyscrapers were taller, sleeker, and overall more futuristic.  Vehicles that looked like motorboats with rocket boosters soared over our heads.  Transparent green pathways connected buildings to each other, and twenty-foot holograms advertised things like The Red Workout and Exploration Inc. (The Only Travel Service You’ll Ever Need).  Car alarms, sirens, and chatter echoed throughout the place.  And there was no sky, just a cavern ceiling miles above our heads.  I turned to Mildred, puzzled.

“THIS is Fraggle Rock?”

Mildred just grimaced.

“Back in the old days, the Rock was happiness central.  Now, with the war heating up and all, more and more people have retreated underground.  This is New Fraggle City, population two hundred thousand.  It’s more overcrowded and underserviced than both Dog City AND Muppet City combined, which is really saying something.  Anyway, this place has become a hotbed of Darkhand activity, so we’re dealing with maybe two percent of the population being sleeper agents.”

That was about the time me and Mildred heard gunfire coming from Mounder Avenue.  The police, it seems, had found a group of Garthim (crab-like Darkhands from the planet Thra) in the sewers, and they were trying to root them out.  These policemen, however, weren’t very smart (they were two pigs-brothers, in fact), which is why we heard a massive explosion right after the gunfire.  Their transparent plastic laser guns in fact fired a chemical compound made entirely of gas, known as Bunsonium, which, when fired at a high velocity, became flammable.  Mixed with sewer gas, it became explosive.  Luckily, the policemen survived, but there was Garthim shell all over the place.  We moved on to meet our contact that Mildred had set up for us.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of walking, we arrived at a concrete building the size of a minimart.  A neon sign hung by the door, the glow barely visible in the yellow florescent light coming from inside.  The sign read ROCKTIER LAUNDROMAT.  We walked in, and were immediately deafened by the roar of washing machines, the tinkle of change coming out of the coin slots, and of course the howls of the giant diamond-eyed rock monster threatening our contact, who was huddled behind a burlap sack overflowing with dirty laundry.  The contact was a Fraggle, with green fur, wearing a crimson ascot cap that completely concealed his eyes.  Boober Fraggle, worrywart, launderer, and all around not somebody you would expect to be an anti-Darkhand spy.  He gasped a cry of warning.

“Don’t!  It’ll just make this Avalanche Monster angrier!  Get backup, and hurry!”

The roof of the laundromat exploded.  Hovering not fifty feet above our heads was what looked like a Chinese junk, only it had a pair of jet engines strapped to the sides.  Two five-foot creatures parachuted into the building.  They looked like furry, bipedal rats, only they had long snouts that swung back and forth like noodles.  One had magenta-colored fur, the other was a murky greenish-beige.  Both of them were carrying large automatic weapons.  They aimed their guns at the Avalanche Monster, and fired what appeared to be tiny diamonds into its rocky hide.  The beast roared, but the magenta soldier took out what looked like a red Staples button, minus the white lettering, and pushed it.  The Avalanche Monster screamed, and then dissolved into a pool of moss-colored liquid.  The green soldier turned to me and stuck out his hand.  I firmly shook it.

“Name’s Gunge.  In case you’re wondering how we killed that beastie, let’s just say that Diamond Darts plus Goombah Soup equals death.”

A ladder made out of rope and bamboo swung down from the airship, and all of us climbed aboard, into a gleaming white marble cockpit, not unlike that of an airplane’s.  At the controls were a pair of Fraggles, each wearing earpieces and carrying handheld laser guns.  The ladder retracted, and he soared up into the stream of flying boats that dominated the New Fraggle City skies.  Almost immediately, one of the portholes lining the cockpit shattered, the victim of a laser beam.  The other soldier, named Philo, pulled down what looked like a submarine periscope, and peered through it, exclaiming “We’ve got company!”

I took my place at the periscope, seeing a pair of flying PT boats firing lasers at us.  One of the boats shot a laser directly into the periscope, and somehow flew down the tube towards my face.  I jumped out of the way, avoiding a red stream of light that bounced around the cockpit like a hyperactive ping pong ball, until it found its target-in the controls, sending sparks flying.  We were now at the mercy of our Darkhand attackers as we soared above the streets of New Fraggle City, waiting for the inevitable crash into a building, or a crash into the streets, or a flying boat accident.  That was when I got an idea.  I had to shout above the combined ruckus of screams and loud hum of neighboring vehicles: “Everybody head to the right of the cabin!”  Everyone leaned to the right, the combined force just barely putting us on a collision course with a busy intersection.  I kept giving orders.

“Gunge, toss me your weapon!”

The soldier tossed me his gun, and I pulled a switch on the controls.  Luckily, it worked, and a hatch in the cockpit’s floor opened.  The ladder swung out into the busy air, and I climbed down it, until I was dangling by only my hands, about a hundred feet above the city streets.  I swung to the left of the ship.  I had to time this just right, or else I would be a grease spot on the side of a building.  While crouching, I swung to the left again, my feet hitting the steel wall of a building marked FOREIGN RADISH ADMINISTRATION.  I sprung off the side of the building, putting me almost parallel with the attack boats.  I plugged the boats with Diamond Darts, and climbed the ladder back up into the cockpit.  Philo looked at me like I was crazy.

“So, uh… what do we do now?”

I grinned.

“Just hand me that button.”

Philo complied, tossing me the big red button.  Looking out through the periscope, I watched as one of the deck workers on one of the flying attack boats picked up a stray Diamond Dart.  He managed to pry the dart open, and watched as the acidic chowder dripped onto the metal floor.  His eyes widened, and he ran belowdecks to warn the captain.  Too late.  I gave one final order.

“Down!  Lean down!”

Everybody ran towards the controls, dipping us downward until we were just below the intersection, about seventy feet in the air.  The attackers, on the other hand, ran straight into what looked like a wheelless tractor trailer, smashing right through it and into a flying cement mixer, then a robot-driven taxi cab.  Finally, I pressed the button, turning the flying attack boats into toxic soup.  That was when the completely unexpected happened.  The flying cement mixer, which was currently being destroyed in a controlled spiral of doom, burst open, revealing none other than the giant cyborg dragon-Ultragorgon.  He cackled with delight, then soared off.  We had just witnessed a Darkhand jailbreak.  I was at a loss for words.  Unfortunately, just then, we flew forward at a twenty-five degree angle and hit the city street, drilling into the pavement.  The controls exploded into a balloon race of airbags (apparently THAT worked, too), and then the horrible sound of screeching metal turned into the crackle of flames, then a massive explosion.  The fuel tank had gone up, and if we didn’t get out of this ship fast, so would we.

Thinking fast, I grabbed a Diamond Dart, jammed it into the now scorched marble wall, and pressed the button, dissolving the ship and getting us out of there just in time.  We all evacuated onto Shatter Street, just before the strange acid compound of the Goombah Soup exploded, setting an entire city block on fire.  Luckily, the toxic soup leaked down a manhole, causing the area’s sewer system to also explode, putting out the fire, but also meaning that drivers would have to get used to driving through a maze of PVC.  In the meantime, we headed towards the building that we’d first arrived in, and jumped into a Doozer stick elevator, flying up through complete darkness for who knows how long, before coming to a sudden stop.  A gray, bulky fist the size of a laptop screen smashed through the elevator doors, revealing another Avalanche Monster, along with a humanoid shape covered with blue-green hands, each one waving around.  Some grouped together to make faces, which they used to talk.  They were standing on top of a green gel platform-the remains of the aircraft that sent Ned and Flufinella into orbit.  The hand-thing smiled sadistically at least five times.

“Going down!”

Just before the Avalanche Monster used its rocky fist to cut the cable and send us plummeting to our dooms, I grabbed Gunge’s Diamond Dart shooter and shot the platform and snatched the button from Philo.  As I moved my hand to press it, I couldn’t resist giving the hand-thing and the Avalanche Monster one last remark:

“You chose down?”

Then, I pressed the button, causing the gel platform to disintegrate and the two Darkhands to fall down the elevator shaft.  We continued on uneventfully, but when we arrived at the top, which was the lobby of the Swinefleet Command building, we were in for a shock.  The place was in ruins, with the metal ceiling shredded, the wall to wall carpeting littered with trash, and some sticky red stuff that I recognized, but didn’t want to identify.  Boober gasped, too.

“What happened here?”

The entire building shook, and more chunks of metal came raining down from the ceiling.  The whole place was coming down.  We quickly evacuated into the streets, which were distorted, as if attacked with giant axes.  Cars were nothing more than pancakes of metal, and a nearby fire hydrant had mostly exploded, so the paths leading to Brownstone Park were drenched.  A nearby apartment project exploded into flames.  Out of the wreckage stepped a seven-foot figure.  He had orange skin, yellow horns, a bulbous green nose, and eyes that seemed to radiate evil.  He wore a strange golden helmet, and was chuckling to himself.  Following him was a huge wall of some strange substance that reminded me of transparent magenta glue, with a simple pair of eyes and a mouth etched into it.  From Brownstone Park came an alligator the size of a rowboat, along with a squad of felt people.  From up the street came at least fifty Garthim, led by a trio of hideous vulture-like creatures wearing tattered, but regal looking, robes.  And from above us buzzed a swarm of Muppet birds, ready to attack.  It took me a moment to realize what was happening: the Darkhands had launched a massive assault on Muppet City, forcing the residents into hiding.  Now, they were tearing the place apart, bit by bit.  The golden helmet dude, who I recognized as Sesame Street’s alien villain Zostic, roared a battle cry.

“For Master!”

The army charged.  Armed with only two automatic weapons half-filled with Diamond Darts, we attacked.

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