Author: Crofton77

Chapter One Hundred and Thirty Two: Back at City Hall

“I TOLD you dumping my Dad would drive him up the wall!” Sunny laughed as she sat at the tip on a chilly Saturday morning. At her feet, Melody was smacking a tennis ball with a plastic cricket bat. “You are so cute!” Sunny couldn't help but coo over her daughter.

“He went bright red, then pale, then said “Fine” and signed the bill.” Belle grinned, sitting on an old sofa. “Still felt sick afterwards, just being close to him makes me feel ick.”

“While that's nice and all, can we please get on with it?” Daniel said, holding his replica Dragon Scale Scythe. Since Marcus had been born, Daniel had become his old bossy self.

“Yeah, it's go time!” Sammy swung his nun-chucks around. Charlie, who was sitting on a fridge, noticed that Sammy tended to agree with Daniel a lot recently.

“We're having a CONVERSATION, training can wait.” Sunny said.

“We're the DEFENDERS OF THE CITY, training CAN'T wait. This isn't your fast bowling.” Daniel frowned at her.

“WHAT was that?!” Sunny was suddenly up on her feet.

“Your over rate makes the International Cricket Authority's wallets wish you were an actual cricketer.” Daniel fired.

“I'm so glad we're all friends again!” Belle smiled as Sunny punched Daniel with all the force she could muster.

“I know, now I can go back to ratting on your economy.” Charlie smiled back.


“Stupid Charlie and his stupid batting average and there's nothing wrong with my economy!” Belle continued to sulk the next day at work.

“Hey Belle. Oooooh, that shiner looks like it hurt!” Harriet from Community Services said as they stood at the water cooler.

“Not as much as what I did.” Belle grinned.

“Which was?”

“Quoted back his past four cricket scores at him.”

“Oh Belle you are NAUGHTY!” Harriet giggled. “By the way, have you seen Judith around?”

“Not today, she probably has to take Marcus to the doctor or something.” Belle replied, sipping her water.

“How is Marcus doing? I hope she brings him in one day.” Harriet asked. “Counsellor Barry bought his little girl in yesterday, she was telling me all about her gymnastics medal.”

“Kids are so adorable, aren't they?” Belle smiled. “Marcus is doing fine for a premmie. According to his father his lungs definitely aren't premature!”

The two chuckled. Then Harriets phone rang.

“Let me just get this.” Harriet answered the call. “Hello? Yes! Absolutely!”

Belle checked her own phone and continued to sip water.

“Will do! Thank you!” Harriet finished the call. She turned to Belle. “The only reason I'm telling you this is because I like you – GO HOME NOW.”

“Why?” Asked Belle, but Harriet was already heading back to her desk. Belle shrugged. She went back to her desk, sent an email to Judith saying she was heading off for the day, and headed for Bills restaurant.

“Hey Belle. Aren't you supposed to be at work?” Bill asked as Belle walked in.

“Hey Belle! I was picking up lunch for the guys at work, you want something?” Charlie asked.

“No thanks Charlie. Harriet from Community Services got a call while we were talking at the water cooler. She then advised I should get out of there.” Belle shrugged as she sat down.

“Harriet?” Charlie asked.

“Yeah, really nice. Would be a friend if she hadn't been an ex-Mobster.” Belle poured herself some water from the jug that sat on the table.

Charlie froze. Belles eye started twitching.

“Mobster Marion has been pretty spry since Marcus was born…do you think she's going to try something?” Charlie asked.

“My stuff is at home. I'll meet you at the tip.” Belle downed her glass of water and got up. “See if you can't get onto a few of the Knights.”

“Will do.” Charlie agreed. “I'll have to drop this all off at work first. Never get on the wrong side of hungry blacksmiths.”

“I'll keep that in mind.” Bill smiled as the pair bolted.

Harriet had been wise to tell Belle to escape. Sure enough, the Mobsters of Misneach still had plenty of loyalists in the Council ranks. So when Harriet got the call from her former lieutenant, they were all ready to storm City Hall from the inside.

“Of course they would!” Demon barricaded himself in his office. He ran to his phone, and put the call in to Haiter. “Get your cops here NOW, and get your Troupe here as well!” He barked into the phone. He then slammed it down into its cradle. Damn! How had Marion kept her spies in the Council?! They all should have changed allegiance to the Haunted Maze Troupe! Especially as Marion had gone crazy.

He peeked out of the peephole in his door. Several of the Haunted Maze Troupe plants in the office had started fighting back. Two of them had stationed themselves in front of his door. Demon gritted his teeth. He knew full well that those Troupers weren't protecting him.

Meanwhile, the Masked Crusader had made his way to Pleasantville. It hadn't been too hard to find out that Judith Jofrey was out of hospital, especially as his mother had told him all about how his father had spent a full hour in Judiths office when she got back – was he sleeping with her again?

Daryl really didn't give a toss either way if the baby was his sibling or not. He just knew that if he went in as an unidentifiable Crusader and killed Judith, then Marion wouldn't give two hoots about getting the right Crusader – she would do him a huge favour and get rid of Crusader Roger.

So Daryl had made his way into the city to make his kill – the only thing he hadn't counted on was Marion and Sidewinder coming in to take the Council back for the Mob.

So instead of going in, he watched, knowing that Chuckles and Giggles would be arriving soon.

Sure enough, they arrived, bringing Sir Lionheart, Sir Hyper and Lady Silent with them.

“Gets me out of marking. Man I hate school holidays.” Sir Hyper had pointed out when the others had asked how he could be attending a fight in the middle of the work day.

“Now, this is going to be a very tense situation. It's basically Mob vs Troupe. We have to be CHUCKLES GET BACK HERE NOW!” Giggles cried as Chuckles merely walked into the building.

“Please tell me this is a JOKE. IT'S A CHANDELIER!” Chuckles cried as he surveyed the scene in front of him. A new chandelier to replace the one that Giggles had so callously destroyed was being installed just as the Mob had attacked. Now the Troupe had the chandelier surrounded and were threatening to destroy it.

“This isn't going to end well is it?” Lady Silent asked her brother as Chuckles and Giggles rushed in between the warring factions, Sir Lionheart on their heels.

“There'll be tears.” Sir Hyper agreed.

“Okay, okay, break it up you lot.” Chuckles pulled out the Lions Claw Blade. “There's no need for this, you all have citizens to serve.”

“Stay out of this you…sword-thief.” Mobster Marion stepped forward.

“Razor-sharp wit there.” Giggles said, hand on the Lucky Seven Gun, ready to draw if anything went wrong.

“We're here to take back what ours.” Sidewinder said. “Especially as the Haunted Maze Troupe rightly and royally stuffed up letting a Chamber of Commerce be formed.”

A drug-laded dagger came flying out of no where towards Sidewinder, who used the Emerald Suit to block it.

“Rude.” Giggles frowned at the Trouper who threw it, who she suspected was Terry from Public Relations.

“Look, can't you all just get back to work?” Chuckles groaned.

“This IS work!” Lisa from Amenities yelled.

“Noooo, you should be serving the public and making life better for the citizens you serve!” Giggles yelled.

Everyone laughed.

“I hate you all.” Giggles grumbled.

“Look, Sidewinder, give this up or I'll tell everyone.” Sir Lionheart warned.

“Tell us what?” Giggles asked.

“You wouldn't dare!” Sidewinder went white.

“Come on, the Troupe have our chandelier, we need to get it back!” Luke from Accounting cried.

“We'll handle the chandelier. Sir Lionheart will handle the Mob.” Chuckles said. Giggles followed him to where the Troupers had surrounded the chandelier.

“You know there's a quick way to sort this out, right?” Giggles said.

“You wouldn't.” One of the Troupers said, sounding suspiciously like Tessa from Gardens and Parks.

“I've done it before.” Giggles aimed the Lucky Seven Gun at the chandelier. The Troupers looked at each other, panicked.

“Okay you win we'll leave it alone!” Another Trouper who sounded like Bailey from HR cried.

“This workplace is pathetic.” Chuckles groaned as the Troupers scattered.

“I'm warning you two, I will let everyone know the truth.” Sir Lionheart was still debating with Marion and Sidewinder.

“Again, you're bluffing.” Sidewinder glared at him. When he got home that evening she was going to have some very stern words with the father of her son!

“No. I'm not.” Sir Lionheart took a deep breath. “I know for a fact that you two, and your father, and all your ancestors…you're not natural blondes.”

Marion screeched with fury and swung her sword at Sir Lionheart while Sidewinder groaned and wondered why her life turned out like this.

Chapter One Hundred and Thirty One: Sick of this yet?

“And THAT will stop businesses from being able to bully people into taking down bad reviews or complaints.” Charlie grinned as he signed off on another policy. It was a few weeks after Judith and Marcus had returned safely home from hospital, and Charlie was well into making sure the Chamber of Commerce did what it needed to do.

“Only if Arnold agrees to it.” Eugenia Wallow pointed out drily. “This particular policy dips over into Pleasantville law, and you KNOW he's got the Haunted Maze Troupe in his pocket.”

“For now.” Charlie replied. “I'm pretty sure we'll get this one through though.”

“I hope you're right.” Eugenia sighed. “Certain businesses have been using connections with the criminal underworld to threaten and extort customers long enough.”

“Anyway, I need to go to City Hall anyway to pick up Belle, I'll take the paperwork with me and drop if off. Anything else we need to take?” Charlie asked, putting all their hard work into an envelope and sealing it tightly.

“That should be all for today. Nothing that can't wait until next week.” Eugenia yawned.

“You sound ready for bed.” Charlie laughed.

“I wish, but alas my oldest needs to be picked up from Ozzie Rules training, the youngest needs picking up from dance class, and the middle child is probably fighting with his father as we speak. Then there's dinner with the in-laws…bllaaaahhhh!” Eugenia groaned.

“Middle child and husband still not getting along huh?” Charlie asked sympathetically.

“It's a tweenage rebellion type thing.” Eugenia shrugged. “What's going on with you and Masters anyway?”

“We've been best friends since we were kids.” Charlie shrugged.

Eugenia raised an eyebrow.

“Seriously Belle, I can't thank you enough for all your hard…that should have gone in THAT pile…I can't thank you enough for all your hard work while I was…that should have been done by now…while I was pregnant.” Judith couldn't help inserting some criticism into her thanks to Belle as she looked around her office on her first day back to work. “You really should have dusted the windowsill, and did you remember to water the plants?”

“Yes, I did.” Belle gritted her teeth.

“Yes, well, it WAS a relief to know my work was taken care of, although you probably should have used blue ink on this letter…it made coming back to work SO much easier…these should have been in plastic folders, it would have protected them better…”

“I did my best.” Belle replied, with a slight edge to her voice. Judith might be the mother of Daniels child, but she was still the worst boss ever!

“Yes, I'm sure you did. Anyway, you can go now. Thank you again!” Judith shoved Belle out of the office, making the young Masters feel very much annoyed. How rude!

Just then, the beloved Mayor of Pleasantville walked past. Belle sneered at the door before she walked back to her desk, brushing past Demon.

“You look a little harassed today Miss Masters.” Demon said smoothly.

“Nunya.” Belle snapped back.

“Now now Miss Masters, that's no way to speak to your boss.” Demon smiled at her.

“Technically Judith is my boss, you're her boss.” Belle muttered under her breath, sitting down in front of her computer.

“You need to relax more. Tell you what, how about we do lunch tomorrow?” Demon leaned over Belles desk, making her feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable.

“Charlie is picking me up, I need to go.” Belle quickly packed her things into her bag and rushed to meet Charlie, who had thankfully just walked in.

“Give me a second Belle, I gotta give this to Mr. Jones.” Charlie told her. Belle groaned.

It took Charlie fifteen minutes to talk Mr. Jones around to at least considering the proposal, but eventually he came out. “Fingers crossed he actually signs it.”

“I hope he does.” Belle said as the pair walked out to Charlies ute.

“You right mate?” Charlie asked as they approached the ute.

“No. Demon keeps hitting on me.” Belle shivered as Charlie unlocked the ute and they got in.

“Ewwwww!” Was Charlies reply. “That is SO icky!”

“I KNOW!” Belle replied.

They spent the rest of the trip back home complaining about how disgusting Demon Jones is.

“Yeah, Mum and Dad are having extreme marriage issues. Mum's been sleeping with everything she can pay to get into bed with her, and Dad is furious.” Sunny told them that night as they ate dinner together around the Begly table. “Of course, Dad can't talk, he's been sleeping around since before I was born.”

“Might be a way to get in and make some changes.” Judith pointed out.

Nearly half the table spat out their dinners.

“You want Belle to stoop to seducing Demon for power?!” Lara cried.

“Why not? I did.” Judith took another spoonful of beans. “Slept with Jones to get ahead on a few business deals.”

Daniel looked at her, horrified.

“Dad's idea. It was just after he murdered Uncle Hector, so before I inherited the businesses, I got in with Jones to make sure he didn't come after them.” Judith explained.

“The same father we named our son after?!” Daniel squeaked, hugging Marcus a little closer.

“I dunno, I think if you could get in with my Dad and then dump him, that would mess him up.” Sunny said with an evil gleam in her eye.

“You definitely got your fathers genetic material.” Belle said drily, earning a dirty look from Sunny.

“We've all had to make sacrifices and do things that go against our beliefs for the greater good.” TJ pointed out. Charlie couldn't help but notice Daniel flinch slightly.

“Good point.” Peter sipped his beer.

“PETER!” Lara looked at her husband in horror.

“I can't believe we're talking about this at the dinnertable!” Betty groaned.

“We could be talking about the cricket.” Thomas pointed out.

Suddenly every Knight at the table shot each other a filthy look.

“Back to Belle seducing Demon.” Betty quickly changed her mind!

The next day, Belle spent the whole day feeling extremely ill. Especially when she overheard Demon scoffing at Charlies proposal for more consumer protection from being threatened.

“Why would I sign this? How does that idiot think I've stayed in business for so long?” Demon laughed with a few of his lackeys at the water cooler.

She didn't want to. The thought of Demon Jones made her skin crawl and her stomach turn. She wouldn't, she couldn't, she…

She had to. Not just for Charlie, but for every person in Pleasantville who had been bullied into silence by the Death Valley Gang, the Mob and the Haunted Maze Troupe. She had to stop businesses from threatening people who just wanted to go home without being ripped off. She could stop people losing money and sleep. All she had to do…

So when Demon invited her into his office, she took in a deep breath and accepted. She felt like she was walking to her own execution.

Charlie had been having a good day that day. At work, he and his team had managed to have a huge breakthrough with one of their new designs for streamlining metal parts construction, and now it was a matter of getting things built in order to maximise production. It meant that repairs to farm machinery could be expedited, meaning damaged machinery wouldn't impact harvests nearly as much. Everyone was going to win out of this!

He decided to walk home that afternoon, taking in the sights and sounds of the city that was now much safer than it had ever been when Charlie was a child. Maybe soon he'd be able to retire Chuckles, putting his swords away and never having to worry about protecting the city again.

He continued along the street towards home, the air getting chilly as winter started to settle in.

“Hey Belle…Belle, are you okay?” Charlie asked as he walked past Belle sitting under the old tree. “You look like you're ready to spew.”

“I got your proposal through.” Belle told him, looking pale. “And now I want to throw up.”

Charlie looked horrified. “You DIDN'T!”

“No, I didn't.” Belle looked equally horrified. “I threatened him with a sexual harassment suit.”

“Ohhhhh…that's cool.” Charlie breathed a sigh of relief.

Chapter One Hundred and Thirty: Marcus

Daniel couldn't breathe. He was sitting with Sammy and TJ, waiting to see if his girlfriend and their child would survive.

“We brought coffee.” Belle and Charlie walked in. Belle handed Daniel a coffee and sat next to him.

“You gonna sit down?” Sammy asked Charlie, who shook his head.

“How did arresting Marion go?” Charlie asked TJ.

“Well, Haiter was definitely enthused about doing it.” TJ replied. “I don't know if the Troupe still consider the Mob a threat or not, probably just Haiter being his usual hateful self.”

“She'll be out by next week, count on it.” Sammy sighed. “She knows things about Demon and Haiter that could bring them down.”

“Courtesy of being Judiths sister.” Belle said.

“Actually, we've been chatting while Judy's been having tests and stuff. She's actually really nice when she's not being the leader of the Mob.” Sammy said. “I might have let a few things slip accidentally.”

The others stared at him, dumbfounded.

“Hey.” Petunia nudged open the door with her arm. “Just letting you know things are stable for now, but the baby is coming and coming fast. We can't stop it.”

“Will they live?” Daniel asked. “Will my baby live?”

“We don't know.” Petunia said, looking tired and upset.

“For Globs sake, you useless WHOA!” Daniel had gotten up and was heading towards Petunia, but was stopped by the Lions Claw Blade.

“So THAT'S why you wouldn't sit down.” Sammy mused.

“Sit down Dan. You know full well that the staff here are doing everything they can to keep Judith and the baby alive. You know they're not miracle workers. I suggest you get over yourself before I make you.” Charlie said evenly.

“Well that escalated quickly.” Belle sipped her coffee.

“I don't think it did. I think it's been escalating since Judith got into hospital.” TJ said, standing up. He turned to Daniel. “Mate, we've been nothing but supportive, but you've treated us like we're the reason everything has gone wrong.”

Aren't you though?Daniel thought. He thought back to all the times that they could have outright killed Marion, Revolver, Roger, Daryl, Demon…all of them. He thought about how easy life would be if they had.

And killing was SO easy…

Please, we're all on the same side here. We want you to be happy, we want Judith to live and we want your baby to be okay.” TJ continued. “Please, believe us and stop treating us like we're the enemy.”

“You sure you're not the enemy? You've got a sword to my face.” Daniel pointed out.

“And you're not supposed to have it in my hospital.” Petunia frowned.

“Are you going to stop being a butt or not?” Charlie asked impatiently.

Everyone looked at Charlie.

“Yes, I know I'm the butt right now, but Dan has been a butt longer than me.” Charlie snapped.

“Fine, I'll sit down and not say a word shall I?” Daniel slumped into a chair grumpily.

“Better than being snarky.” Charlie sheathed the Lions Claw Blade.

“Wouldn't it have been easier to bring your daggers instead of shoving that thing under your clothes? It's gotta be uncomfortable.” Sammy asked.

“But it wouldn't have been as classic.” Charlie grinned.

“We're leaving.” Belle dragged Charlie out by his collar. “REALLY Charles, you couldn't help yourself could you?”

“I had my reasons!” Charlie argued back, his voice fading as Belle hauled him away.

Daniel stiffened. Charlie couldn't know. There was no way Charlie could know…

Could he?

Sure enough, not even 24 hours later Marion was back at the hospital looking frazzled.

“Hey Marion. You okay?” Tammy asked, sitting near the water cooler that had been put near Judiths room.

“I've just been in gaol overnight and now my sister is giving birth!” Marion snapped.

“Yeah, I'd be pretty pissy too. Water?” Tammy offered her a drink. Marion accepted it wordlessly.

“I'd be careful going to the waiting room. Dan's not biting our heads off anymore but he's still being cold.” Tammy warned Marion as the older woman sipped her drink.

“Oh stuff him. It's Judy I'm worried about.” Marion sighed. “Do you think they're going to be okay?”

“Well, 'Tuney is looking after them, and she says it's 60-40 in favour of them both surviving.” Tammy said.

“So they'll be perfectly fine then.” Marion grinned. “Judy's faced worse odds before and won, easily.”

Tammy couldn't help but smile. Marion really WAS likeable when you took away the Mob. “Well, you've made me feel better.” She admitted.

“Good. Now let's deal with Danny Daddy-o. See if we can't get him to wise up.” Marion smiled back.

Tammy followed Marion into the waiting room, wondering which one would be more dangerous if things went wrong – Daniel or Marion?

Thankfully, a few hours later, it turned out everything was okay.

“IT'S A BOY!” Daniel came running out of Judith's room, looking rapt and nearly taking out Sammy.

“And Judith?!” Marion asked.

“She's tired, but all okay. They'll have to stay here for a few more weeks, but Marcus is in surprisingly good health considering how premature he is.” Daniel's face hurt with all the grinning, but he couldn't turn it off.

“Marcus?” TJ asked.

“That's his name. After her father.” Daniel looked at Marion, who started crying silently. “She wants to see you Marion. She wants you to meet your nephew.”

Marion nodded, and went to see her sister. Daniel sat down, looking exhausted and excited.

“Congrats mate!” He wasn't allowed to be exhausted for long, not with TJ and Sammy mobbing him with hugs and kisses. Tammy cheered and started running laps around the room in excitement, only stopping to help Petunia sit down when she finally emerged from the delivery room, also exhausted.

“It's almost like old times again, isn't it?” Petunia smiled, leaning back into her chair. “Just the five of us against the world.”

Daniel looked around. He was surrounded by his old playmates, who had stuck by him since they were children.

“I guess I owe you guys a huge apology…and a steak dinner…and ice cream…okay I'm not made of money!” He laughed at the greedy stares he was getting.

Inside his humicrib, Marcus looked around at his new life. His mother and aunt smiled down on him.

Back at Sunnys place, Melodys fever finally broke, and she started to sleep naturally. Outside, Belle was chasing Charlie, who had stolen her Highly Mega Ultra Super Advanced Dictionary First Class.

All was well in the world. For now.

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Nine: Mental Health

“This past few weeks has almost been perfect.” Belle sighed as the leaves of the old gum tree left shadows across her face. “Ever since you established the Chamber of Commerce life in Pleasantville has gotten better for everyone.”

“Except Dan.” Charlie grimaced. “I give it another month before he storms out of the Knights of the Last Order again.”

“It'll be fine, once the baby is born he'll get over it.” Belle reassured her friend.

It had been several weeks now since the first victory over Demon with the Chamber of Commerce. Everything was going smoothly – except Sir Lionheart and his abrasive attitude.

“I hope you're right – for the baby's sake.” Charlie chuckled. Belle swatted him.

“How long until they admit it?” Peter put the curtain back and returned to his book, sitting in his comfy chair in the Masters lounge room.

“As long as it takes.” Lara shrugged, lying on the lounge.

“Anyway, the baby is only a month or two away. What's the worst that can happen?” Belle sighed as a cold breeze began to pick up.

Naturally, the next time Belle and Charlie went to the hospital, they walked into the iciest silence anyone had ever encountered.

“I think I might wait outside, it's warmer out there and it's negative six out there!” Charlie yelped. “Are you guys STILL fighting?!”

“Dan is now refusing to speak to any of us.” TJ told him. “Which doesn't bode well since he's our leader.”

“Honestly, I wish he'd stayed away.” Sammy said. “At least until he'd gotten his head together.”

“It's his first child and a complicated pregnancy.” Belle pointed out.

“I know, but even Judith is getting tired of him.” TJ said.

Sure enough, Judith chose that moment to kick the father of her child out of the room.

“I can't BELIEVE this!” Daniel cried angrily. “Oh, hi you two.”

“G'day Dan. Having a rough time?” Charlie tried to be sympathetic.

“Well THIS lot aren't helping!” Daniel snapped, turning to TJ and Sammy who were glaring at him.

“Well if SOMEONE would just pull his head out of his arse and realise he's not the only person in the Universe with problems then we'd be fine!” TJ shot back.

“Well MY problems are the most pressing right now!” Daniel snapped.

“Sunny still can't get a job, and Melody has gastro at the moment. Petunia is suffering from extreme overwork and is showing signs of falling apart. I think those are pretty pressing problems.” Sammy said evenly.

“Oooh, gastro, that's SO dangerous.” Daniel snapped.

“For a three year old, it can be.” Sammy told him. “Besides, if she came here and brought the gastro with her, she could put your baby in danger. So she's staying away.”

“Whatever.” Daniel said, although he was starting to look guilty. He stormed off to get himself some coffee.

“I don't understand. He used to be such a great leader, always putting us first.” TJ sat down.

“Something's changed, and I don't think it's just the baby either.” Sammy thought out loud.

Charlie blanched.

Daniel sat quietly in the café downstairs. Inside, he was churning up with guilt, anger, fear and exhaustion.

His first baby, and both they and his beloved girlfriend were in danger. Was this his fault, the Universe paying him out for murdering Wallace Dingbat? Was it punishment for being a bad leader of the Noble Knights of the Last Order?

He stared at his coffee, the smell making him nauseous. Everything was happening all at once, churning him up and wearing him out. He was irritable, moody and didn't want to be. Especially not to the friends who were backing him up.

But would they continue to back him up if they knew the truth?

“NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!” Giggles cried, chasing after Mobster Marion who was driving away with a sack full of jewellery.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!” Marion laughed. She was a lot more daring again now that Judith was in hospital.

“I don't object to you having pretty things, but you need to pay for them!” Giggles landed on the roof of the speeding car.

“NEVER!” Marion cried.

“Look, I really don't want to shoot out the tyres of this really, really nice car you have…especially as I don't think it's yours.” Giggles tried. “Can't you please turn around?”

Marion thought about it for a second. Suddenly the Lions Claw Blade was stuck out from behind a bin, hitting the front tyre of the car and spinning it out!

“I NEARLY HAD HER CONVINCED YOU IMPATIENT PERSON!” Giggles roared at Chuckles, who shrugged.

“I SPENT $5000 ON THESE TYRES!” Marion screamed in fury as she got out of the car.

“You got ripped off.” Chuckles pointed out.

“REALLY ripped off.” Giggles added.

“I mean you got EXTREMELY ripped off.”

“Mega-ripped off.”

“Ripped off and Ripped off 2.”

“All the ripped off and then some.”

“I GET IT!” Marion screamed.

“Oh lookie, the policeman is here!” Chuckles saw TJ approaching. “We'll see you next time!”

“Great. Just great.” Marion sulked as Chuckles and Giggles left. “Hey TJ. Have you seen Judy today?”

“Yeah, I was at the hospital this morning picking Petunia up.” TJ handcuffed Marion and took her to the police car. “Judy looks fine, the baby is fine too. A few more weeks and it'll be safe to give birth.”

“I do thank your wife for looking after my sister.” Marion ducked her head as she got into the car.

“She does her best.” TJ replied.

“On one hand, it's great that Marions mental health is starting to improve. On the downside, I really don't want to have to keep chasing her away from every shiny thing in Pleasantville.” Charlie took off his coat back at the tip.

“She's in better shape than Dan. I can't wait for the baby to be born.” Belle stretched her arms out over her head. “How's the COC going?”

“Great, we've established a solid dispute resolution process for both customers and businesses. Means we can look at every case on its merits and make sure everyone is protected.” Charlie said proudly. “How's Demon behaving?”

“The usual. Leering, hints, snide remarks…he needs to remember he's a married man.” Belle replied as Peter Masters drove up.

“You two going back to the hospital?” Peter asked.

“Nah, I need to get home and have a shower and finish off some paperwork.” Belle said. “Plus I need a lot of sleep.”

“Makes two of us.” Charlie agreed.

“Ah to be young and busy.” Peter chuckled.

Then Belle's phone went off.

“Hello? Oh no! DAD! We gotta get to the hospital, the baby is coming and it's not good!” Belle cried. “That was Sammy, we gotta step on it!”

“I'm on it!” Peter sped up and headed towards the hospital.

“I just hope everything is okay. I don't think it'd take much to push Dan to do something he'd regret.” Belle worried as the streets flew past.

Charlie didn't say a word.

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Eight: Sunshine

 “The world is is illuminated by the sun, heading towards a shining tomorrow, nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah!” Belle and Charlie sang as they entered the hospital waiting room where the others were waiting. Webster followed behind them, amused.

“We just saw the news! Oh Charlie you did it!” Tammy rushed up and hugged Charlie tightly, followed closely by Sunny, Sammy and TJ. A loud snore came from Petunia in the corner.

“Wow, out like a light. Is she overworking herself?” Belle walked over to Petunia and made sure she was covered well by TJs jacket.

“Since the fight with Dan, she's been working longer.” TJ replied bitterly. “I swear if he weren't my best friend I'd kill him.”

“He IS under a lot of pressure though. His girlfriend and his baby are in danger.” Webster pointed out.

“I don't see how that's our fault!” TJ pointed out. “At least ONE of us is always here in case anything goes wrong, we even take shifts overnight, because we want to protect Judith, and that's just not enough for him! He wants Petunia to work for free too!”

“Fear makes people unreasonable. I've been plenty unreasonable myself.” Webster said calmly. “I'm always scared of losing Maddy and Tate just like I lost my best friend. That fear has made me do stupid things.”

“Plus putting up with a bunch of kids in superhero costumes tried your patience.” Belle pointed out. Tammy bopped her on the head. “Owch!”

“Anyway, I'm gonna head back home to Brisvegas. Being here in Pleasantville makes me edgy.” Webster shuddered. “Please look after each other. We're now closer than ever towards cleaning up not just this city, but the whole country.”

“Uh, yikes much?” Charlie asked as Webster left.

The changes soon came rapidly. One of the first things Charlie did was make sure that Sammy and Tammys parents could finally own the shop they had been managing for years.

“You want to let THEM own a shop?” Haiter looked at the paper work dismissively. He was still livid that he had lost his power.

“And what, pray tell, is wrong with THEM?” Charlie snatched back the paper work. They were standing in the new Chamber of Commerce office, that was in Pleasantville Shopping Mall.

“You've seen them. Bloody monkeys.” Haiter scoffed.

“I'd watch it Haiter.” Eugenia said drily as she took the paper work from Charlie and put it away. “My father was a 'monkey' as you put it, and he was one of the reasons this very building is standing.”

Haiter bristled, before leaving in a huff. Eugenia scowled after him.

“He's a jerk.” Charlie shook his head.

“A powerful jerk. I don't know how you got him to budge, but you've made an enemy who could very well be the end of you.” Eugenia warned the young man as he gathered up his work and prepared to head back to the metalworks. “Be careful.”

“I'm always careful.” Charlie grinned, before heading back to his own business, which was now thriving again.

Later that day, he handed Sammy, Tammy and their family the news of their new business. Tammy ran laps around the her parents house in glee, while Sammy stood looking at Charlie with tears of happiness in his eyes.

“Do we risk going back to the hotel to get our paperwork?” Harold asked as he and Lady sat in their car, which was hidden in a back alley.

“We need our birth certificates at least, and our passports.” Lady told him. “I don't know why we brought them with us.”

“Because we couldn't leave them in the house, they'd have been swiped within an hour after we'd left!” Harold snapped at her. “Damn that brat and her friends! She's pretty much killed us.”

“Don't say that!” Lady cried. “Oh glob, I don't know anymore, we're doomed, we're so utterly doomed, I doubt we'll even get out of the city alive…”

“We just have to do the best we can until we can get out of the city and out of the country.” Harold tried to control his breathing. “We'll go to the Great Nations. They're so war-torn right now that we'll be able to slip under the radar very easily. Start a new life.”

“And to do that we need to go back to the hotel and get our paperwork!” Lady shrieked.

“Will you calm down?!” Harold hissed.

Suddenly something heavy landed on the car…and something wearing blue slid down the bonnet and landed on the ground.



“Chuckles and Giggles! What do you two want?!” Harold got out of the car.

“Belle contacted us. Here's your stuff from the hotel.” Giggles handed him a small suitcase.

“That worthless piece of trash! What's she playing at?!” Harold snatched the suitcase and went through it. Sure enough, everything they owned was safe, including passports.

“You're still her grand-parents.” Giggles said quietly. “Even if you are criminal scum.”

“Get out of Pleasantville and stay out. You will never be welcome here again.” Chuckles added.

“Can we even get out of Pleasantville safely?” Lady asked.

“You'll have to escape up north through Pleasant Gorge. Then you can double-back along the coast to Brisvegas. From there, you can do what you like.” Chuckles told them. “The Noble Knights of the Last Order have secured the gorge. We'll get you to there.”

Harold glared at the pair while Lady started sobbing. “She was supposed to be ours. She was supposed to make us the top clan in the Haunted Maze Troupe.”

“Well, you should have tried to be in her life when she was younger.” Giggles snapped.

“We couldn't! Her father stopped us!” Lady sobbed.

“You could have.” Giggles glared at her grand-parents. Their blood flowed through her veins too, more's the pity.

Harold and Lady we subdued as they drove out of the city, Chuckles and Giggles keeping a close eye on them. Along the way, they saw their old friends from the Haunted Maze Troupe glaring at them from the shadows, but not daring to step in against the two vigilantes.

Harold and Lady weren't worth the annoyance.

Finally, they made it past Pleasant Gorge and on the road out of Pleasantville. If they headed west, they would have gone to Fallsville, which Giggles advised them was a bad idea.

“Head east. Don't stop in Oaksville. Just keep driving until you hit the coast, then go straight down to Brisvegas. You might need to stop for fuel, wait until you're out of the council area first.” She told them.

“Thank you.” Harold said shortly.

“Please…tell Belle we're sorry.” Lady almost whispered.

“I'll tell her nothing.” Giggles snapped. “Now sod off.”

Harold and Lady drove off. Giggles watched until they disappeared over the horizon, and then she took Chuckles back to Pleasantville.

To finish off the tale of Harold and Lady, they made it out of Ostraya safely and went to live in a little village in the snowy north of the Great Nations. Harold became a great fisherman and Lady made a living as a tour guide. They never spoke of or to their grand-daughter again.

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Seven: The First Blow

Haiter was feeling very smug as he walked past Charlie and Webster, who were waiting outside the court room.

“Hello Andrew.” Charlie said smoothly.

“Begly.” Haiter made to push past, but Webster, with the gleam of Sir Hedgehog in his eyes, put a hand on his shoulder.

“You might want to see what we have.” Sir Hedgehog smirked. Haiter sighed, and smiled as Charlie pulled out his phone.

Charlie grinned as Haiters face contorted into rage. “That…those…they're…!” He spluttered.

“And we have it saved in plenty of places.” Sir Hedgehog told him. “Imagine if this got out.”

“How did you get them to talk?!” Haiter was furious. The video was of Harold and Lady telling Belle about how Haiter was a Trouper!

“Belle is their grand-daughter. They've been trying to get her to join up for months.” Charlie chuckled. “So, I suggest you change your mind about our little Chamber, or else you and Demon will have a lot of explaining to do.”

“And after what happened last week, I don't think you're all that popular at the moment anyway.” Sir Hedgehog added. “Wouldn't take much to have the entire city demanding Demon fire you. And as much as he likes to think his power is absolute, he knows damned well he needs public favour.”

Haiter was so furious he couldn't speak. Only moments before he'd been bragging to the Mayor and now he'd been brought down HARD.

Charlie watched him, satisfied. If Haiter was on-board, then all he needed to do was win the election.

“F-fine.” Haiter spat. “But you WILL pay for this, just see if you don't!”

“I think I'll take that chance.” Sir Hedgehog patted his briefcase. Haiter swallowed hard. What was in that briefcase? What did this little upshot lawyer know?

He snarled at the pair, and stormed back inside the courtroom. Charlie grinned at Sir Hedgehog, who smirked back.

“Nice work Sir Hedgehog.” Charlie said.

“Shhh. I'm only Webster, remember? I left the Last Order.” Was the reply. Charlie silently disagreed. Webster might not have been much of a combatant, but he was still a Noble Knight of the Last Order who was doing his part.

Belle felt rather dirty as she sat back down in the court room gallery. It was time to see if her work had paid off.

“Andrew Haiter, do you still object to the implementation of a Chamber of Commerce or shall we proceed with the debate?” Judge Constance Dougherty asked.

Haiter looked ready to kill.

“I've considered the motion, and I withdraw my objection.” He said through gritted teeth. Demon shot him a look of confusion, but said nothing. If Haiter was going to play ball, Demon wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth!

“Very well. Then with no objections, the establishment of the Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce will proceed.” Constance declared. Charlie saw Belle in the gallery and shot her a grin – not quite a triumphant one just yet, the battle was only half won!

Belle felt a little bit better. Not much though, talking to her grand-parents usually made her feel icky.

“Now, for this establishment, we need to have a committee, that consists of a secretary, treasurer, vice-president and president. The president and vice-president are elected, the others can be nominated members of the public selected by the president and vice-president.” Constance rambled on. And on. Soon Charlie was starting to zone out again. Belle watched him and was silently betting he was going to start drooling.

“Now, for our nominations.” Constance finally said. Charlie snapped to attention immediately, wiping the drool from his mouth.

“Can those who wish to nominate for the position of president please step forward in an orderly fashion?” Constance said. “Remember you must have been a business owner in Pleasantville for the past 18 months in order to qualify, and must have plans to continue business within the next three years.”

“Good luck Chuckles.” Webster whispered as Charlie stood up.

“Thanks Sir Hedgehog.” Charlie whispered back. He straightened his shoulders and walked forward to hand his name to the judge. Sure enough, Demon had stepped forward, and so had the woman who owned West Pleasantville Jewellers. Another older man stepped forward as well. Charlie was the youngest person who had nominated.

Belle sucked in a breath. Hopefully Charlie could get in. Hopefully he would win.

“Okay, four nominations. Arnold Jones, you have the floor.” Constance read the first name off the list.

“My family has owned businesses in Pleasantville for generations. Being a business owner is in my blood. I have also led this city for five years.” Demon Jones began.

“And gotten our healthcare workers killed.” Someone muttered. A few people scowled at Demon, who realised he had no chance.

“Yes…well…” He faltered, before stepping back, embarrassed and angry.

“Is that all?” Constance asked, confused. Demon glared at her. “So be it. Charles Begly, your turn.”

This was it. Charlie stepped forward and began to speak.

“Like the Mayor, I come from a long line of business owners, and I am a direct descendant of the founders of this city. However, that is not what you want, you don't want to hear about the past. You want a future. A fair, just and good future where we can minimise the risk of owning a business while making it fairer for our consumers. I might be young, but that just means I am more open to learning and being flexible. I can grow with the growing business landscape of this city. Please consider voting for me.”

Charlie smiled at Constance and then at the business owners who had assembled. The room applauded strongly. Charlie stood with the rest of the nominees and exhaled. It was out of his hands now. He had done everything that he could have possibly done.

“That was very well spoken Mr. Begly.” Constance said approvingly. “Eugenia Wallow, please step forward.”

Charlie looked at the jeweller. Yes, she was a strong member of the Pleasantville Community Committee, but she was also someone who believed in the future of the city. Charlie thought she'd make a good vice-president.

Eugenia spoke about how she'd had to fight tooth and nail to start her business. How having a Chamber of Commerce was a great idea, and she thanked Charlie for his work. She also talked about fairness and protecting people, and how she could draw on her experiences to do it.

She also got a decent round of applause as she went back to stand with the rest of the nominees. Charlie smiled at her. She smiled back.

The last nominee wasn't much to write home about, and it was obvious to everyone in the room that he was a Haunted Maze Trouper. A few people shot dirty looks at Andrew Haiter, who was seething. Finally, it was time for the vote. All of the business owners forwarded out to cast their ballot.

“You've done well, I wouldn't be too worried about it.” Eugenia smiled at him. “All your hard work is paying off.”

Charlie smiled back. “Thanks. It's people like you who helped though.”

Demon snorted in disgust, and the other nominee tried to hide the fact that he was trying to ingest a drug in court. Charlie and Eugenia couldn't help but giggle together.

Slowly, the business owners forwarded back in, having cast their votes. An independent contractor from Brisvegas was counting the votes, so no chance of cheating.

Belle felt her phone vibrate. She pulled it out of her pocket and had a look.

“I think your grand-parents are stuffed.” Was the text from her father. Belle was confused and sent back a question mark. The next message gave her chills.

“Haiter has advised the Haunted Maze Troupe that they're the ones who gave you the information to blackmail him with. They've just been chased out of your Uncles shop.”

Oooooh boy. Belle gripped the phone tightly, not sure of how to feel. She heard people walking back into the room, and put her phone away. Her grand-parents could be dealt with later. Now it was time to support her best friend.

Constance walked back in and everyone sat. Charlie was sweating. Had he done enough?

“The votes have been tallied and verified.” Constance said. “The president of the Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce is Charles Begly. The vice-president will be Eugenia Wallow.”

Charlie felt like he was floating. He could barely breathe with excitement, although a huge sigh of relief escaped him. He was the president of the Chamber of Commerce. The first blow had been struck against the corruption of the Pleasantville City Council. They no longer had control over the business domain of the city.

Constance ended the proceedings there, and everyone made to leave. Eugenia patted Charlie on the back as she left.

“I'll call you tomorrow and we'll get things organised. Well done!” She said.

“Thanks. You too. I look forward to working with you.” Charlie said breathlessly.

“We did it. We really did it.” Webster could barely believe it. “This is huge. This is really, REALLY huge. You're now one of the most powerful people in this city.”

“I just hope I can do it right.” Charlie said. Suddenly he was nearly barrelled over by Belle, who was ready to burst.

“YOU DID IT CHARLIE YOU DID IT! I KNEW YOU COULD!” Belle laughed as she hugged him tightly.

“You helped. You were there the whole way through.” Charlie squeezed her back.

“Are they dating?” Demon leaned over and asked Webster.

“That's the question.” Webster shook his head as the two friends continued to cuddle.

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Six: The Battle Begins

“Ready?” Charlie asked Webster as they stood outside of City Hall on Monday.

“I had to deal with the Noble Knights of the Last Order for the past two days. I'm ready for anything.” Webster replied.

“I'm gonna go sit in the audience. Good luck!” Belle kissed Charlie on the cheek and rushed to the gallery.

“Are you two dating?” Webster asked innocently.

“NO.” Charlie replied.

“Okaaay…” Webster didn't look convinced. “Come on. Let's go.”

The pair walked up the steps towards destiny.

Belle scooted in and sat in the gallery just as Demon, Andrew Haiter and Judge Constance Dougherty walked in and took their positions. Behind Charlie in the wings were about sixty of the signatories Charlie had gotten together. Everything was ready to go.

Of course, first there was the swearing in. Then the Businesses and Commerce Act was read. Finally, Judge Constance got to the point.

“We're here today to discuss the possible establishment of a Chamber of Commerce in Pleasantville.” Constance started proceedings. “As per the Businesses and Commerce Act, in order to establish a Chamber of Commerce within a City Council there needs to be a proven demand for it, as evidenced by the gathering of 100 signatures of business owners within the City Council limits. For Pleasantville City Council, this extends to Oaksville, Fallsville, Greensville and Treesville. Charles Thurlow Begly, as the one who has initiated this discussion, do you have the required signatures?”

Charlie gulped, shaking. “Yes Your Honour. I also have the required verifications for each signature.”

“Good, that will save us some time.” Constance took the paperwork and looked through it. Satisfied, she nodded. “Mr. Jones, are you happy that all of these signatures are legitimate?”

Demon took the paperwork and leafed through it. “I'm satisfied.” He said.

Constance took the paperwork back, and gave it to Haiter. He too leafed through it, and agreed that it was legitimate, although he didn't look pleased doing it.

“I now need a member of the public to legitimize these. Can I please have a volunteer?” Constance turned to the audience, which was pretty large considering. A young man raised his hand, and went through all the paperwork. It took him a while, but he finally agreed that everything was in order.

“Excellent. It will be noted in the records.” Constance took the paperwork back and put it in a special envelope. Charlie tried not to yawn. This was already taking forever!

“As per regulations, we require the backing of at least six government officials, three of which must come from Pleasantville City Council.” She continued. “You have three from Brisvegas, along with Councillor Judith Jofery, Councillor Peter Masters and Mayor Arnold Jones.” Constance shuffled through her papers. “Do we have any objections to this undertaking?”

“I do.”

Everyone froze. The Inspector of Police for Pleasantville, Andrew Haiter, had arisen.

“We have a solid police force, which have taken care of business disputes for nearly two hundred years.” He said silkily. “We do not need to add more red tape and more bureaucracy to hinder citizens trying to start their own businesses or continuing to do business in Pleasantville.”

Demon looked livid. Charlie grimaced, but he'd known that there was always a chance something like this would happen. Only he'd expected it from Demon, not from Haiter.

“A response from you, Mr. Begly?” Constance asked.

“The businesses of Pleasantville, and the consumers of Pleasantville deserve to have dedicated protections against corruption, poor practices and bad service. They also deserve to have help navigating the hardships that come with starting their own businesses, and recourse when unfair practices stop them from achieving their dreams.” Charlie started his rebuttal. “The Pleasantville Police are a fine outfit,” (Belle snorted) “And they should not be wasted on civil business issues, when they could be better serving our community.”

Belle grinned. That had been a solid rebuttal, and the only contribution she'd made was reading it over for grammar!

“That may be true, but creating more channels creates more opportunity for corruption. Plus, a Chamber of Commerce is run by business owners with a Councillor overseeing. Honestly, I think that makes it MORE likely that something is going to go wrong.” Haiter replied coolly.

Charlie groaned. Webster looked through his papers, trying to find a rebuttal.

“I'll allow a recess for two hours to organise a rebuttal. Dismissed.” Constance got up and walked away. Charlie felt angry as the crowds around him dispersed.

“I don't know what we're supposed to do. I never expected HAITER of all people to turn on us.” Webster groaned.

“He doesn't want to lose power in Pleasantville. As of now, everything goes through him. Of course he doesn't want to lose that.” Charlie gritted his teeth.

Belle rushed over. “Are you okay?” She asked.

“No. I can't believe we're gonna be stopped before we get started!” Charlie slammed the table with his fist.

“Especially by a police force that is known for their corruption!” Belle snapped.

Then she felt her eye twitch.

“Charlie…what are you planning now?” She asked as she saw him turn his frown upside-down.

“No WAY can I turn Dingbat in! First of all, he's DEAD and can't defend himself, and secondly if I implicate him in pulling strings to get Demon in as Mayor I can kiss my job goodbye and say hello to a nice cushy GAOL CELL.” Judith cried over the phone.

“Judith PLEASE, Pleasantville needs you!” Charlie cried.

“I'm sorry, I can't, and neither can Marion.” Judith hung up.

“Well that was a bust. Shame we don't know anyone else!” Belle sighed.

“But we do.” Charlie was determined. “We know your grand-parents. And you have an hour and a half to help me.”

“WHAT?!” Belle cried.

“I hate him. We are totally not best friends anymore.” Belle grumbled.

Pinned just inside her shirt was a police camera (Webster being a big-city lawyer always had a few on hand for various occasions), and she was sitting at Bill Restaurant.

“So, you want to talk to us at last.” Harold and Lady showed up.

“Be grateful I'm giving you the time of day.” Belle snapped.

“No need to be rude.” Lady frowned at her grand-daughter.

“Why on earth should I give up my nice, cushy job at the Council?” Belle dived straight in.

“But you wouldn't my dear, you'd still keep your job. You'd just have a few extra duties is all.” Harold pointed out.

“Like what? Killing children?” Belle snapped.

“Not KILLING children at all, just creating a future market for our wares.” Lady pointed out.

“And career progression?” Belle asked.

“Oh, the possibilities are ENDLESS! You could move anywhere!” Harold gushed.

“Like?” Belle pushed.

“Well, not only is there a pathway through the Council, but through the police force too! Andrew Haiter has actually been a member of the Haunted Maze Troupe since before he became Inspector!” Harold pointed out. “That's how he GOT the position in the first place!”

“I'll consider what you've said. Thanks!” Belle got up and bolted from the restaurant.

“Are you guys gonna order?” Bill asked as the two elderly Troupers looked bemused..

“Sure. The food here is great!” Lady grabbed a menu.

“WHAT IS YOUR ISSUE?!” Demon growled at Andrew Haiter, who lit himself a cigarette.

“I am the highest ranking lieutenant of the Hidden Maze Troupe.” Haiter smiled. “Do you really think we would simply knuckle down under you?”

Demon gritted his teeth.

“We knew if we backed you, you would rely on us. It was just sheer luck that Dingbat got himself murdered.” Haiter continued. “And you played your part perfectly. After you, I'm the most powerful entity in this city.”

“I can change that.” Demon snapped.

“And lose the backing of the Troupe?” Haiter snorted. “Given that the only reason you're in charge right now is because of the Death Valley Gang and the Mobsters of Misneach, you shouldn't be making threats. You need power behind you, otherwise you're nothing.”

Haiter walked up to Demon, and stood almost nose-to-nose with him. “I mean, you DID have the police force, but we swiped that from right underneath your nose.”

Haiter finished his cigarette. “Remember who is REALLY in charge here.”

He walked off smugly, leaving Demon to stew in his anger.

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty five: The Long Trail

It was a few days later, and Belle had driven out to pick up Charlie from outside Treesville, where he had been canvassing for his last few signatures.

“I got them all.” He said. “We have enough signatures for the Pleasantville City Council to be forced to create a Chamber of Commerce. More than enough really. 107 signatures.”

“Well done!” Belle grinned. Charlie just stared stonily forward. Belle sighed. “So what's next?”

“Webster will be out here tomorrow, and then on Monday we take the case to Demon, with our approvals from the Brisvegas Mega Council.” Charlie told her.

Belle nodded. They drove along silently for a while. Silence wasn't usual between the pair, and Belle felt uncomfortable.

“Do you feel confident?” She asked.

“Of getting a Chamber of Commerce? Yes.” Charlie told her. “Of being the President? Nope.”

“It won't be Demon though. Not with how public opinion is on him right now.” Belle pointed out.

Charlie growled. “Yeah, and it took an innocent nurse dying to turn people against him.”

Belle watched the road, as she sped along the highway back to Pleasantville. “Let's make her death not be in vain then.”

They continued driving. Belle kept an eye on her best friend. Of the two, Charlie was the one who felt things more. Things affected him more than they affected Belle. He would get himself caught up in his feelings and thoughts, getting churned up to the point he acted rashly. That's why he ran away to Awesomica after Joe died. That's why he'd dragged Giggles out of bed to discover that the Death Valley Gang and the Mobsters of Misneach had merged after his own grand-father Charles died. She knew she had to keep an eye on him now. One rash move could undo everything.

Charlie meanwhile was going over the signatures in his mind, thinking about what would happen in court on Monday.

“You can't lose your temper at him.” Belle said suddenly, making him jump slightly. “You have to stick to the facts, and not let him bait you. I'll be in the audience, but I can't say or do anything. I can't stop you from doing anything.”

Charlie hissed. He thought about the Pleasantville Riots, when he had charged at Demon with the Lions Claw Blade, only stopped by Giggles and the Lucky Seven Gun.

“He's managed to get into both of our heads at some point.” Belle continued. “But you can't let him this time. There's too much at stake. I know you're the more passionate of the two of us – you can afford to be, you don't have a stupid violent gene like I do – but you have to keep it in check on Monday.”

Charlie looked at his best friend.

“You can do it though. Even if you have to somehow Improbability it.” Belle told him. She pulled up to a red light and smiled at him. “You're gonna hit the first real strike against the corruption in this city.”

“I couldn't have done it without you. If you hadn't put the ideas in everyones heads, I couldn't do this.” Charlie told her. “The protest and the PRO and the PCC might have failed, but they set the stage for me.”

Belle smiled at Charlie. He smiled back. The rest of the trip was filled with discussions about what would happen on Monday…and lamenting that the Brisvegas Leos would be facing the Crate Hill Falcons that weekend and would probably be in for another loss!

“Oh will you STOP IT.” Judith Jofrey snapped at the father of her unborn child. “Honestly, the way you sulk, I don't know how you ever became the leader of a crime-fighting group.”

“I'm NOT sulking!” Sulked Daniel.

“Sure you're not.” Judith lay back in her hospital bed after another walk with Marion. “Everything will be fine. I don't think that Crusader will be trying anything again.”

“What makes you so sure about that?” Daniel snapped.

“Watch your tone.” Judith narrowed her eyes at him. “I'm sure about it, because the Crusader has killed someone. That puts a target on your back. Especially if this wasn't sanctioned by Roger.”

Daniel pouted.

“Has anyone been in contact with Roger recently? Might pay to let him know he has a rogue agent.” Judith pointed out. “That would keep that Crusader under control.”

“Or give Roger ideas.” Daniel said.

“You're insisting on being disagreeable.” Judith sighed. “Have you apologised to Petunia yet?”

“I don't see why I should apologise for anything!” Daniel snapped.

“She has been looking after me for the past week with expert devotion and skill. She has made sure that our child is still surviving. You have NO right to be angry at her about anything.” Judith told him off.

Daniel continued to pout.

“You are such a child.” Judith sighed. “I'm going to have a nap. Please leave me in peace, you're ruining the vibe.”

“Vibe?” Daniel said incredulously.

“Yes. Marion bought me some healing crystals, and they can't work properly with negativity around. Shoo!” Judith snapped. Daniel couldn't help but chuckle as he gave her a small kiss and let her rest.

He walked out into the waiting room, where the rest of the Knights (sans Petunia, who had gone to do paperwork) were waiting for him.

They all looked at him. He looked back at them.

“Hey fellow Knights!” Suddenly Webster burst in, Charlie behind him, looking happy to see everyone. “Whoa….whoa….oh dear…” His reception quickly cooled as he took stock of the tension in the room.

“Hey Webster.” Sammy tried to smile at the former Noble Knight of the Last Order. “How are things?”

“About to get better. Once Charlie gets this Chamber of Commerce up and running I'll be in a better position to mount a case against Demon. I have a lot of evidence already, I just need him voted out.” Webster told them. “And I think the Chamber of Commerce will be a huge blow to him if he can't get control of it.”

“A case against Demon?” Suddenly everyone in the room was interested.

“If my evidence is correct, I can get him put away for a very, VERY long time. Especially if Sunny includes evidence of her child abuse.” Webster looked at Sunny, who dared to look hopeful. “And if I can get Demon put away, then it's only a matter of time before I take down the Mobsters of Misneach and the Death Valley Gang. Including the corrupt Counsellors that let them rule in the first place.”

Daniel tensed up. Everyone else gulped.

“There's no way to avoid it Dan. If things are to get better, than everyone who is guilty needs to pay.” Webster told him.

“And who made you judge, jury and executioner?” Daniel growled. Charlie watched him as he said the words, before shaking it off. Daniel couldn't be a killer.

“I just have evidence. Enough to put a lot of people away.” Webster looked slightly frazzled.

“Hmph.” Daniel walked off. “I'm getting myself a coffee.”

The group watched as he stalked off.

“I did warn you things were frosty.” Charlie said as Webster tried to regain his composure.

“FROSTY? That was downright frozen solid! What the heck HAPPENED?!” Webster squeaked. “I was no where near as antsy when Tate was born, and she nearly died twice!”

“Yeah, but someone is actually trying to murder Judith and by extension, the baby.” TJ said. “I can understand that he's a bit on edge.”

“But hasn't he been on edge for a while?” Webster looked at the door.

“It's been a hard road since you left mate.” Sammy sighed.

“There's a long, long trail, a-winding, into the land of my dreams.” Charlie sang.

“Old war songs Charlie? You're really getting worn down!” Webster chuckled.

“Belle made me listen to it. Sometimes it feels like a bit of a war.” Charlie said. “Anyway, I'm gonna go finalize my speech for Monday. You all have fun reconnecting.”

“Fun?!” The former Sir Hedgehog squeaked as Charlie left.

Master Revolver didn't look his best. Ever since the Death Valley Mobsters had lost power in Pleasantville he hadn't been doing too well.

His biggest worry? Mobster Marion, and her mental health. Thankfully, after Judith got pregnant, Marion seemed to calm down a bit. That was good, but then there was the fact that the Death Valley Gang and the Mobsters of Misneach had become almost a non-entity in the grand scheme of things. Even the March Hill Crusaders were more active.

He sighed, and looked at his reflection in the mirror. Brown eyes looked back at him. The brown eyes of the Masters clan. He knew full well that Belle Masters was the enigma known as Giggles. He had known it from the first time he had seen her use the Lucky Seven Gun. The Seven Weapons of the Seer could only be used by those of extraordinary skill, or matching bloodline. The Masters clan and the Begly clan were two such bloodlines, as was the Misneach bloodline. So was the Lightheart clan, but as far as Revolver knew they'd been wiped out in the Silent Lake massacre.

He knew the original mission of the Death Valley Gang. He knew it had been lost by his grand-father, Toby Masters, who had stylized himself as Lone Revolver. Knowing everything that had happened, how everything was going…maybe it was time to return to the Masters clan.

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Four: Rest In Peace

 Nurses screamed and rushed to protect their patients. Doctors scrambled to get the high-risk patients out of the way. The Masked Crusader walked down the hall, kicking down doors and looking into the rooms, shooting wildly and nearly hitting many innocent people.

“Where are the police?!” The head nurse cried, trying to keep things under control.

“Haiter says they have more important things to do, the Mayor is having guests and needs the security.” Another nurse spat.

The head nurse went white. “No, no I will NOT let any of these patients die!” She rushed out into the hallway blindly, and tore after the Crusader. She grabbed him, not sure WHAT she was doing, only knowing she had to save her patients.

“Get off you old hag!” The Crusader her threw her to the floor and put a bullet through her chest.

“How DARE you!”

The Crusader spun around to see Chuckles and Giggles rushing towards him. He grinned to himself, and started firing at them. He knew they wouldn't kill him.

Both Chuckles and Giggles dodged out of the way of the bullets. Giggles fired back, but the Crusader didn't even flinch, knowing he was safe.

“He has to run out of ammo eventually, right?” Chuckles groaned.

“We have to save that nurse!” Giggles aimed and fired at the Crusader, hitting his shoulder.

The Crusaders eyes grew wide. He turned and began to run out of the building, with Chuckles and Giggles close behind.

Meanwhile the other nurses gathered around their coworker, calling for a doctor and trying to keep her alive.

“Did you see where he went?” Chuckles asked Giggles as she landed beside him. The Crusader had taken a set of fire exit stairs out of the building and had managed to evade the two heroes pursuing him.

“No. Darn it!” Giggles kicked a nearby bin. “OW!”

“I just hope that nurse he shot is okay. Darn it, if only I hadn't made us go back to get the Lions Claw!” Chuckles groaned.

“Well, what's done is done. The police should have done something about it, not us.” Giggles snapped. “Haiter is worse than Dingbat ever was, at least Dingbat would have sent a few interns.”

“And gotten them killed.” Chuckles snapped back. “Of course, that was one of three hospitals in Pleasantville. He's got a fifty-fifty chance of hitting the right one next time.”

“And plenty of chances to kill someone who isn't even involved.” Giggles slumped against a wall. “This whole situation stinks. Why are the Crusaders after Judith?”

“It could be another stab at power.” Chuckles suggested.

“Then why isn't Roger taking care of it himself?” Giggles pointed out.

Chuckles sighed. “I think there's a disgruntled member of the March Hill Crusaders trying to cause trouble.”

“Of course. Now their problems are our problems.” Giggles sighed. “Come on, let's go.”

The pair flew back to the tip, dejected.

“The only victim of the Masked Crusader was nurse Margaret Able, age 43. We pass on our condolences to her family.” The news droned in the background as the Knights of the Last Order continued to haunt the waiting room outside of Judiths room.

“Petunia!” TJ cried as his wife came out of Judiths room. “You look exhausted.”

“It's been touch and go for a while. Especially with Marion in there.” Petunia giggled. “But Judith is able to walk around now and the baby is fine for now. Just gotta fill out reams of paperwork now.”

“Anything we can do to help?” Daniel asked. “As far as I'm concerned nothing is too good for you right now.”

“Coffee would be great.” Petunia admitted. “Any news from Belle and Charlie?”

“I don't think they're going to be happy. A nurse was killed at Pleasantville Ultra-Care, and Chuckles and Giggles didn't get there in time.” Tammy pointed to the television that was hanging off the wall.

“Damn!” TJ groaned. “Why didn't Haiter do anything?!”

“Something about a party at Demons place.” Sunny spat. “Mum messaged. She wants to stay with me until the press backs off.”

“Are you kidding?! Someone died and all your mother can think about is herself?!” TJ yelped.

Sunny looked sad. “Yeah, well, that's my family for you.”

Daniel exhaled. “We can't really afford to argue right now. 'Tuney, is Judy able to go home yet?” He asked.

“Wellllll…” Petunia hesitated. “If she had a nurse with her, maybe. I'd have to check with the doctor.”

“Would you be able to be that nurse?” Daniel pressed.

“Are you kidding? On top of a full-time job here?!” TJ yelped.

“Exactly! No way could I do it!” Petunia cried.

“Come on, can't you take leave or something?!” Daniel groaned.

“Uh, NO, because I used up nearly all my leave taking days off whenever one of YOU guys got injured, and I can't afford to take time without pay. Plus, if I start doing that I could lose my job!” Petunia pointed out.

“But this is about Judy and my baby!” Daniel cried.

“I know you're worried about them, but I have my own life to live too!” Petunia fired back.

Sammy watched Daniel, wondering if this was the same Daniel who he had looked up to for all of his life. The Daniel who had looked out for his friends no matter what.

“Never mind!” Daniel spat. “We'll just have to continue risking Judy and my childs life here!”

“You guys surely are able to hire a nurse.” Sammy piped up.

“Do you know how much those cost?!” Daniel snapped.

“So you were going to make 'Tuney work for free?!” TJ asked.

“I thought we were friends!” Daniel accused.

“We still have rent and bills to pay!” Petunia said.

Suddenly Sammy felt a hand wrap around his. He turned to see his twin sister looking at him, worried. As the argument raged on, the siblings wondered what had happened to change things so much.

Both Belle and Charlie were dejected and devastated as they walked home from the tip.

“I'm so, so sorry. I killed someone.” Charlie kept mumbling.

“It wasn't your fault Charlie. The police should have been there, not us. The Crusader shouldn't have killed that nurse…it's not our fault…” Belle kept trying to tell him.

They made it home, and walked up to the tree.

“It's not fair. Why are we the only ones trying to change things?” Charlie wiped the tears from his eyes.

Belle didn't think it was fair at that moment to point out that since the ill-fated protest, there were now a lot of people trying to make a difference. She instead hugged her best friend tightly.

“I have to get those signatures. I have to get those signatures…” Charlie began to mutter to himself. Belle gulped. How much more could Charlie give before it became too much?

The dumb nurse had died. GREAT. Not.

Daryl seethed. Now security would be heightened and he'd never get near Judith. He was just lucky news didn't seem to implicate the March Hill Crusaders, otherwise Roger would get wind of it and the plan would be ruined.

He sighed, listening to his fellow Crusaders sleeping in bunks around him. He couldn't be certain any of them were sleeping though, he wouldn't be surprised if Roger had a mole or two in the bunks.

He shifted uncomfortably. Damn that Giggles! His shoulder hurt like nothing else, but he couldn't get it looked at without giving himself away. He'd had to steal first-aid supplies from a Pharmacy on the outskirts of Pleasantville, and had sort-of patched up his shoulder, digging out the bullet and throwing it in the trash.

He exhaled. He had suffered for a long time already. What was a little longer until Judith had given birth to her brat and was no longer under protection? It would give him time to heal too.

His father was a patient man. Daryl could be patient too.

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Three: Are we family?

Sammy, Tammy, Sunny and TJ were intensely watching the little screen in front of Sammy.

Well, at least until he got game over.

“Wow, just as bad at cricket in the virtual world as you are in the real world.” Tammy quipped.

“DON'T start, we don't want to get kicked out of here!” TJ quickly stepped in. “Besides your bowling leaves a lot to be desired.”

“GUYS!” Sunny hissed.

Daniel walked in.

“Hey guys. Everything is still stable, and Judy's allowed to walk around for a bit.” He told them. He looked at the little gaming screen in front of Sammy and chuckled. “Your in-game batting as bad as your real life huh?”

Sammy didn't hold back, dropping the game console (which Tammy quickly caught and placed safely in her bag) and going straight for Daniel's throat.

“SAMMY!” Sunny groaned. “Dan why did you have to say anything when you're the LBW King?!”

Naturally Daniel pushed Sammy off him and took a swing at Sunny. Within five minutes, it was Last Order chaos.

“Now just a gentle walk around the hospital. Maybe we can go to the gift shop and get something?” Marion carefully guided her sister out of the room.

“Sounds fun.” Judith smiled up at her older sister, grateful. Then she noticed the brawl.

“What the – ?” Marion looked horrified as Tammy choked her twin out. “I thought they were friends!”

“Cricket.” Judith said as Petunia pinned Sunny to the ground and pummelled her.

“Aaah.” Marion nodded knowingly, dodging Daniel throwing TJ against a wall. “Which way to the gift shop?”

“Back down the lifts and down the end of the corridor.” Judith told her, and the two sisters left a pair of orderlies to try and stop the brawling friends from disturbing anyone.

Belle was exhausted. But not too exhausted to put on her Giggles outfit and chase a group of Haunted Maze Troupers out of Bills restaurant.

“AND STAY OUT!” Giggles roared as Bill watched the group leave (after leaving a very generous tip too).

“They weren't hurting anyone Giggles, I don't know why you kicked them out.” Bill said as he and Giggles walked back to the kitchen.

“They had baggies on them. They were gonna turn this into one of their shops, and then when the heat came, they would have blamed you.” Giggles groaned as she pulled her helmet off. “Plus my grandparents were with them.”

“Yes, they did ask if I knew how to get you to see reason.” Bill washed his hands then got a side of fish out of the freezer. “I just laughed and said there was no way to get you to change your mind once it was stuck.”

“They tipped amazingly though.” Lizzy put her tips into a small bag.

“I'd wash my hands after handling that.” Belle said drily. “Who knows what sort of drugs are on that money…”

“Anyway, how's work? Getting things under control?” Bill asked as he put the fish into a bowl and then covered it with water.

“Not really, but there's honestly not much more I can do until Judith gets back. I just hope I've done enough.” Belle sighed.

They heard the bell on the door rattle, and in walked Charlie, looking VERY pleased with himself.

“You got the signatures?” Belle asked.

“No, still have twenty to go, and thirty more businesses to canvas.” He said. “So I'll head out to Oaksville tomorrow.”

“So what's with the grin?” Belle grumbled.

“Webster called. Next week he's coming out with three officials to help us get the Chamber established.” Charlie told her.

“You've only got until next week to get everything organised?!” Belle yelped.

“Hey, come on, it only took me a couple of days to get twenty signatures, I'll be fine!” Charlie beamed at her.

“Charlie Begly, you drive me up the wall.” Belle said drily.

Suddenly her mobile phone rang.

“Hi Sunny-Bunny…your Mum called? Why? Oh, Demon and Daryl had a fight, of course…why do you sound like you've been in a fight too? Ah, Sammys bowling…Judith is allowed to walk around a bit? Great, she can sign some forms for me…no I WON'T overwhelm her with work! Yes, I know Marion won't be happy…yeah, you too. Love ya!” Belle hung up. “Sounds like they're having fun. Marion's getting overprotective though.”

“Do you blame her?” Lizzy started peeling potatoes. “If anyone went after Izzy or Charlie, I'd go after them.” She paused for a second. “I DID go after them.” She corrected herself.

“You did?” Bill inquired. Lizzy went pale, remembering that her parents had no idea about Lady Starlight!

“Anyway, I'm gonna go…” Charlie started when his phone went off again. “Oh, hi Mum…a Crusader at Pleasantville Ultra-Care Hospital?! Chuckles and Giggles will be there shortly!” He hung up.

“Are you serious?!” Belle cried.

“Yup, glad I keep my suit in my bag!” Charlie grabbed his bag and fished out his Chuckles suit.

“The Crusader is probably hitting all the hospitals looking for Judith.” Giggles pulled on her helmet as Charlie got into his Chuckles attire.

“Also…we need to pick up the Lions Claw from the tip, I left it there while canvassing.” Chuckles said sheepishly as they were about to leave.

“I hope we're in time to make sure no one gets hurt.” Giggles grumbled as they flew to retrieve the sword.

Crusader Roger had just finished his walk around Fallsville, getting his dues and making sure the populace were still scared of him. He was looking forward to having an afternoon nap and maybe a sandwich.

“I'll have a BLT brought up to my office, thank you.” He walked past a few Crusaders who were hanging out near the front gates of the March Hill compound.

“Yes sir!” Was the reply. Once Roger was out of earshot however, the attitude changed. “Jerk.” One of the Crusaders muttered.

“Where's Daryl, make HIM do it.” Another Crusader suggested.

“Won't work. Daryl's gone missing again, as usual.” Crusader Alex grumbled. “He'll do anything to avoid pulling his own weight.”

“Doesn't he know we're not allowed outside the compound without a pass?!” Another Crusader complained.

“I don't think Roger cares, as long as he's not getting in anyone's way. The spoilt little runt gets spoiled some more.” Alex said.

“What say we give him a good thrashing when we find him?” One of the Crusaders grinned. “Teach the spoiled little piggy that he can't just flake out on us?”

“Sounds like a good idea to me!” The other grinned back.

“AFTER you've gotten Rogers BLT. Get to it!” Alex barked at them, making them scatter. He smirked as they raced to get the sandwich ready, while he looked out the window. It was a fine day with barely a hint of a cloud in the sky, and a cool breeze to offset the warm sun. It was starting to head into late afternoon though, and Alex knew that no matter how painful having Daryl around was, if the little twerp wasn't back by sundown that Roger would wallop him.

“The little sod is in for a poor time of it when he gets back, and I definitely am looking forward to it.” Alex grinned to himself. “I do wonder though. Where does someone as stupid as Daryl Jones run off to?” He murmured as the other Crusaders quickly rushed to get Roger his food.

© 2021 Kezzstar24