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August 22, 2011 / milesandhisfavorites

The Hensonian Magic Part Four: Dancing Magic

Picking up from where we last began…

Almost instantly, the two flying ship pilots were engulfed in the swarm of Muppet birds, valiantly attempting to fight them off, but eventually succumbing and falling to their knees, moaning in pain.  Mildred Huxtetter pulled out a pair of transparent laser guns and fired into the flock of demonic avians, dispersing them.  Philo and Gunge filled the wall of slime with Diamond Darts, then used the activation button to dissolve it into Goombah Soup, forcing Zostic to retreat into the thick of the fight.  Boober, being a little bit (okay, a LOT) cowardly, ran into a building.  I charged the giant alligator, managing to wrestle him into Brownstone Park.  He thrashed around, but I managed to ram him into the Jim Henson Memorial Fountain.  That was when the unexpected happened.

The fountain collapsed into dust, which wasn’t a surprise, but inside was a light green shape.  Then, that shape stood up, walked calmly over to the squad of felt people, and knocked them all to the ground.  He was covered with chalky powder, and he had obviously been in more than one fistfight, but I easily recognized him.  In fact, almost anybody, even a non-Muppet fan, could easily recognize him.  “Hi-ho,” said Kermit the Frog.  “I’m thinking we should get out of here.  You?”

Everyone was in a state of disbelief.  Even Zostic fainted.  Given that I was the savior of all Muppetkind, it was a little odd that I hadn’t met Kermit yet, but that was secondary to my full-time job as war hero.  But Kermit obviously wasn’t fazed, despite the fact that he’d just walked out of a fountain and had taken down an entire platoon of Darkhand soldiers.  Instead, the Muppet star walked up to me and smiled, sticking out his hand.  I shook it, almost giddy, when Zostic recovered and led the remaining sixty or so members of the strike force into combat.  I didn’t worry.  Within minutes, all of the Garthim were unconscious in the middle of the street.  The seven or so Muppet birds that hadn’t retreated when Mildred shot their swarm with a laser could easily have been eaten on Thanksgiving, and the four attack leaders had disappeared in the midst of the chaos, caring little for their underlings’ well being.  But a second wave of attackers was on the way.

From the rubble of the apartment project came a dozen of Frackles-strange creatures, five feet tall with birdlike beaks, fur in every possible color, huge bat ears, and tiny pupils that spun around in their eyeballs, giving them the aura of insanity.  Each one was carrying an automatic weapon-probably loaded with Diamond Darts.  Swinging across the power lines above our heads were a pair of giant, hairy spiders, each one the size of a small car-one green, the other purple.  From the depths of my mental Muppet encyclopedia, I deduced that they were Green Heap and Purple Heap.  Both groups of Darkhands attacked us, the Frackles landing hits in Philo’s shoulder.  He staggered back, but luckily, the darts weren’t filled with acidic Goombah Soup.  Gunge responded by nailing two of the Frackles with darts, pressing the activation button and turning them into green liquid.

The two Heaps were swinging in front of the building that Boober had retreated into, when about four rooms in the condo exploded, forcing the massive spiders into the street, where they were promptly brought down by some sort of dodgeball-like cannonball that enveloped the two in felt.  Boober stepped out of the rubble, looking slightly dazed.

“What did I just do, and how did I just do it?”

I saluted the cowardly Fraggle, then caught a laser gun that Mildred had tossed me and took on the remaining Frackles, shooting until they had all retreated, yelping in pain from multiple laser burns.  Fifteen Garthim emerged from a manhole, causing Kermit to knock each one in their single weak spot, a tiny chink in their armor, right in the center of their chest, where the base of a human’s ribs would be.  Each crablike behemoth fell to the ground, then immediately got back up and ran downtown, where what appeared to be fireworks were going off every which way.  No more Darkhands attacked us after that, but a whirlwind enveloped at least three city blocks.  From the sky descended a man, a real human, with glittering black eyes and long blonde hair.  He was wearing elegant black leather robes, and was followed by two short, warty humanoids-goblins.  That could only mean one thing-the man standing in front of us was Jareth, the Goblin King and Lord of the Labyrinth.  He was twirling what looked like a Fushigi along his fingertips, and was muttering curses to himself.

“Poisoned Sweetwater, why didn’t I come here sooner!  And you-”

He pointed to Kermit, obviously shocked.

“What are YOU doing here?  You went missing five years ago and were thought dead!  Your wife has gone through five therapists, and three never came out of the office!  By the way, you little savior, don’t think you’re above me!  My old fiancee thought the same, and now she’s trapped in a passageway somewhere between here and the Diamond Dimension!  And yet we had something!  You have ten seconds to give me what I came for, otherwise I doom you to the Labyrinth!”

I was puzzled.

“What do want?”

Jareth scowled at me.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know, boy!  I know that you and your little crusade have stolen one of my prized Dreamarines!”

“Um… what are Dreamarines?”

“Ever read Goblinius Dictionarius?  It’s the world’s shortest known book, but at least it defines Dreamarines as: a magical fruit with the ability to transport people into another’s fantasies with just one bite.  And you’ve stolen one of my best!  To the Labyrinth with you!”

Jareth waved his hand, and suddenly the world was fading out of view, Jareth’s spiky hair becoming duller, then nonexistent altogether.  When my eyes readjusted, we were standing in the middle of a hedge maze.  From nearby came the shouts of laughter-drunken laughter.  Goblins, no doubt.  Mildred, who was standing right next to me, obviously though the same, saying “Well, there IS  a goblin settlement about three miles, if my studying of dwarf maps has taught me anything.”

Me and the rest of our ragtag band of Muppets ventured through the maze, stopping every half hour or so to sip some water that Philo was carrying in a hip pack.  Finally, we arrived at what appeared to be the entrance to a massive cave.  On either side of the entrance was a six-foot-tall carved face, with thick, angular features.  “Turn back,” said the one on the left.  “Certain death awaits you if you go forward.”  Gunge looked annoyed.  “Quit your yappin’,” he said.  “And let us in.  We don’t have all day, you know!”

“Awww, but it’s my job!”

“Don’t care much.”

This went on for a few minutes, before the giant face sighed, and let us pass.  Not that he could have done much to stop us, considering that the cave was open, and he was just a giant talking stone face.  We walked through a narrow corridor that was lit only with dim light bulbs that flickered and hung from the rock ceiling on thin cords.  The hallway ended in a steel-plated door.  Guarding it was what appeared to be a twenty-foot red feather boa.  That was, until it opened its one yellow eye and huge, tooth-filled mouth.

The Feather Boa Constrictor snapped at us, then slithered around my feet.  I tried my best not to move, hoping that it wouldn’t notice me.  Too late.  The creature lunged, forcing me to run back down the hall about twenty yards.  Philo tried to shoot it down, but he missed, lodging thirty Diamond Darts in the rock wall.  Instead, the Constrictor chased me until I was at the mouth of the cave.  If they hadn’t been made out of rock, I got the feeling that the stone faces would’ve been smirking.  “Told you so!  Told you so!”  They said in unison.  But then they shrieked like little golems when they saw the Feather Boa Constrictor leap out of the tunnel towards me.  I ducked to one side, and the monster slammed into a vase.  The force of the collision actually knocked the Constrictor upwards and into the piece of ceramic art.  I figured that, like in the movie Labyrinth, there would be a sewer tunnel beneath the vase, so I didn’t sweat it, walking back into the tunnel and casually knocking on the door.  A thin slot opened, and looking at us was the face of a felt person.  He whispered something in a raspy voice.

“Why do you sympathize with Shaky Sanchez?”

Mildred answered.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to be eaten.”

The felt person nodded approvingly, and opened the door.  He was standing on a balcony that overlooked a massive cavern, with a metal floor and divided into cubicles of various sizes.  Felt people, Fraggles, and some creatures that even I as a Muppet fan couldn’t identify were wandering around, consulting battle maps, or working at computers.  I noticed that a huge blunderbuss was mounted on the balcony railing.  Three other identical balconies were on the other sides of the cavern.  This place was a FORTRESS.  I turned to Kermit, popping the question: “Where ARE we?”  The frog fiddled with his spiky collar for a moment before replying:

“Welcome to Fort Didymus, the most high-tech, well-armed base in this universe.  This is our center of command, where the refugees from the Muppet City Invasion have taken shelter, and where we’ve evacuated most of the major characters for the time being.  This is one of the only safe places in this world.”

Of course, that was when somebody decided to attack.  First, the entire cavern went dark, then a dim reddish glow illuminated the scared faces of everybody in the facility.  That was when the alarms blared, and the entire right wall of the cavern exploded into rubble.  From the gaping hole emerged about a million cheesy Halloween-style ghosts, along with swarms of bats and Muppet birds.  Three divisions of felt people and Frackles charged into the maze of cubicles, prompting the sentries on the other balconies to open fire.  A staircase appeared on our balcony that lead down into a large armory, filled with every weapon imaginable, all refitted to fire Diamond Darts.  I slung a portable gatling gun over by shoulder and ran into the cubicle maze, taking shelter in a room marked STUNT AFFAIRS.  Inside, Gonzo was carefully aiming a circus cannon at a swarm of ghosts.  Unfortunately, the projectile-himself, of course-passed straight through the undead Darkhands and crashed into the cave wall.  He grabbed onto a ledge just in time, his hook-shaped nose crooked and bent.

“I’m all right!  Ouch.”

A troop of Garthim smashed open the Stunt Affairs door, forcing me to plug them full of Diamond Darts.  Fortunately for them, these versions weren’t acidic, so they didn’t dissolve on contact.  Instead, I heard some muffled thuds, and the crab monsters fell down, clicking in pain.  I saw that their armor had been pierced, as if someone had shot them with lead bullets.  I guessed that these darts had exploded inside of the Garthim, causing internal damage.  I leaped over their bodies and straight into the battlefield, blasting Garthim and Frackles every which way.  I had just knocked down a trio of felt people when another wall of magenta slime oozed out of a cubicle’s doors, like the Blob.  I blasted it with as many Diamond Darts as I could, but it did nothing, except make the slime mad.  That was when about a dozen frozen trout flew through the air at unreal speeds, piercing the slime and causing it to fall to the ground, limp.  I looked behind me to see a man I recognized as Lew Zealand salute, then run off to attack a swarm of bats.  I took shelter in a cubicle marked TABLE SUPPLY, and hid under a stack of folding chairs.

I waited out the better part of the battle, listening to the shouts and machine gun fire.  It was disturbing and morbid, but at least I knew that we were going to win this one-I hoped.  Suddenly, the doors to the cubicle exploded in a fireball.  Hovering overhead was none other than the cyborg dragon Ultragorgon, his face and neck singed from breathing fire, but otherwise looking as murderous as usual.

“Who dares hide from me?  Once you are all dead, I will root out the weaklings and feed them to the beasts!”

He cackled on the last syllable, leaving me not wanting to know what the beasts were.  Instead, I shot my last Diamond Dart at the villain.  I missed, hitting the wall.  It took me about two seconds to realize what I’d done.  The cave walls started crumbling, and everybody but me starting running towards the exits.  Fort Didymus was no more, and I was responsible.  Unfortunately, the doors shut just before I could make it out, leaving me stuck with my worst nightmare.  That was when I realized something-Kermit had said that they had evacuated refugees here, meaning that there must have been some kind of armored chamber.  If I could take shelter in there, Ultragorgon would probably be crushed, and I could get out through an escape hatch.  Genius!  I ran towards the EVAC CENTER, when a lightning bolt hit the room, causing it to explode.  I turned around, very slowly, to see the immense dragon crouched not fifty yards away from me.  He roared, and I set off running.

I noticed a large steel door, like a bank vault’s, built into the cavern side.  Luckily, it was open.  Inside was only one thing: what looked like a Nikon camera.  I ran over to it and picked it up.  In place of the button that took your picture was a thumbprint scanner.  I pressed the digit to the scanner, and the device beeped.  Then, out of the lens, exploded a blue cyclone, as big as Ultragorgon, who was currently blasting the door with lightning, fire, and what looked like laughing gas.  Finally, after a shot of acid, the door dissolved, leaving nothing between me and the monster.  I did the only thing I could do-I jumped into the cyclone.  Ultragorgon screamed with annoyance and jumped in after me.  The two of us seemed to be diving to the bottom of an ocean, only we weren’t wet, we could breathe, and no matter what we did, we couldn’t stop diving.  The cyclone creating device floated next to me, and I grabbed it.  Hovering in front of the lens was a six-inch-tall hologram of Count Von Count, who was talking.

“… so just to recap, you have just accessed the Dimensional Octo-Oscillating Machine, DOOM for short.  And yes, I know how that sounds.  Basically, you activated the device, and now you and anyone you cared to invite are hurtling through the time-space continuum, where you will be randomly deposited into some dimension.  Have fun!  By the way, if you want to switch dimensions, just press your thumb to the scanner again!  It’s that simple!”

So that was it.  We were plummeting into some random dimension, where Ultragorgon would inevitably take over.  I wasn’t going down without a fight, though.  This guy was going down.

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