Author: Crofton77

Chapter One Hundred and Thirty-Three: Disaster at City Hall

 Sir Lionheart and Mobster Marion were fighting tooth and nail. Chuckles rushed in to defend Sir Lionheart, who couldn't keep up with Marions speed, especially using a scythe. Soon all you could hear was the clashing of swords as the two fought with extreme speed and skill.

“Almost sounds like a good beat.” Sir Hyper started tapping his foot along with the rhythm of the clanging swords.

“I can't even.” Giggles groaned.

“Makes two of us.” Sidewinder joined her next to the chandelier. “I am going to KILL him when he gets home.”

“You two really aren't natural blondes?” Giggles asked.

“Not platinum blondes, no. Naturally we're a more darker blonde. Strawberry blonde even.” Sidewinder shrugged. “Marion is sensitive about it, so was Dad and Grandpa.”

Giggles noticed the Mystic Eight Gun sitting on Sidewinders hip. She felt her fingers wanting to try it out.

“Don't even think about it.” Sidewinder told her. “Or I WILL fire you.”

“You're mean.” Giggles pouted.

“How do you think I got this far in life?”

“Mostly nepotism.”

“How rude!”

The battle between Chuckles and Marion was firing up the rest of the Mobsters of Misneach and Haunted Maze Troupers, who had started taking pot shots at each other.

“This is going to turn into a brawl, get ready!” Sir Lionheart had caught his breath and was ready to go again.

“I think not.” Sidewinder held the real Dragon Scale Scythe at his chest. “We came to take back what is ours, and that means bloodshed.”

“But I had paperwork on my desk…” Giggles whined.

“Your own fault. Clean desk policy.” Sidewinder said.

Lady Silent sighed. “REALLY?” 

“Yes, really.” Sidewinder said.

Lady Silent blinked. Her introversion hadn't worked? Sidewinder should have at least been a bit startled!

Giggles glared at Sidewinder and gripped the Lucky Seven Gun tightly as it sat in its holster.

“Giggles DON'T!” Sir Lionheart saw her. All the colour had drained from his face.

Giggles pulled out the Lucky Seven Gun.

“Go ahead. Do it. Just be ready for the consequences.” Sidewinder sneered at her.

“Giggles, THINK ABOUT IT!” Sir Lionheart cried. The Dragon Scale Scythe moved closer to his neck.

“She wouldn't, would she?” Lady Silent asked her brother.

“I don't know, you know how she gets about paperwork.” Sir Hyper pointed out.

Giggles hesitated…then shot the new chandelier, destroying it..

“That…was not what I was expecting…” Sir Lionheart scratched the back of his head.

“You…you DIDN'T!” Sidewinder wailed.

All the violence in the office stopped. Even Marion and Chuckles stopped, looking confused.

Then the sobs started.

“You REALLY want to take over this?” Chuckles asked as the office workers mourned, rather loudly.

“I really need an EAP or something, the fact that my employees are doing this is embarrassing.” Marion sighed.

“If you didn't MISTREAT them and gave them FULFILLING WORK this wouldn't be an issue!” Giggles screamed.

That got everyone laughing again.

Then the police arrived.

“Are we leaving?” Sidewinder asked Marion.

Marion smirked. “Nope.”

Giggles looked at Chuckles, who looked pale.

“You lot should probably leave. A bunch of vigilantes isn't going to achieve much.” Sidewinder shoved Sir Lionheart away. “This is now between us and the Troupe.”

“Mobsters! To me!” Marion called. 

Chuckles looked at Giggles, who was trembling. He then looked towards Demons office. Giggles realised what he was up to and nearly fainted.

“We have to do it.” He said, walking over to her.

“I know.” Giggles sighed. “Let's just make it quick.”

Chuckles nodded. As the cops began to force their way in and the Knights of the Last Order escaped, Chuckles and Giggles rushed to rescue the Mayor and get him home safely.

“I can't believe we're doing this.” Giggles shoved Demon towards his car.

“YOU can't?! I'm tempted to put in a lotto ticket for tonight, that's how shocked I am!” Demon unlocked the car and got in.

“We didn't do it for you, we did it for Pleasantville.” Chuckles warned him.

“Oh, of course.” Demon sneered. He drove off, leaving Chuckles and Giggles feeling exhausted.

“Why does it feel like we're constantly going one step forward, two steps backwards?” Chuckles asked.

“Because we are.” Giggles replied. “The whole system is geared towards keeping the status quo in check, and in order to fix it we need to play by its rules. It's impossible.”

“You know what ISN'T impossible though? A burrito at your Uncles restaurant.” Chuckles said.

“I hate burritos. Seafood pasta here I come!” Giggles felt better already.

They headed back to the tip as City Hall burned.

“By the way, what IS it with the chandeliers?”

“Well, most of the office drops some hard drugs before work anyway, but it's mostly that we all hate our jobs with a passion like no other. The chandeliers are a nice distraction.”

“That is pathetic.”

“Your face is pathetic!”

Daryl smiled as he saw his father drive off with Chuckles and Giggles. That would have been quite a blow to Demons ego! 

Meanwhile the battle raged inside and outside. The building was going to need repairs after this whole mess. Daryl watched from his car across the street, waiting for the lull in proceedings that he knew would come. 

In the meantime he wondered where Master Revolver was. Surely the leader of the Death Valley Gang would want his finger in this pie? Or were the rumours true that he'd lost his nerve? Anyway, he was another factor that Daryl knew he had to take into consideration.

He looked outside again. Now the factions were taking up defensive positions against each other, rather than outright fighting. Good. It meant the time was close. Daryl fixed up his mask and got out of the car (that he had “borrowed” from Crusader Roger). 

He marched to the battleground, no one paying attention to him. He walked around to the back entrance. His father hadn't taken his key off him – big mistake. He quietly and gently eased the door open. He slowly peeked in, his hand on the handgun in his belt in case there was a guard. There wasn't. He slipped in, keeping the door open behind him for a quick escape. He quickly and quietly made his way to his fathers office to hide – everyone had seen Chuckles and Giggles evacuate the Mayor, so no one would expect anyone to be in the office.

Now it was time to watch and wait. After seeing if his fathers liquor cabinet key was still in its hiding place. Yes, it was! Perfect!


Timothy Masters, better known as Master Revolver, sat at the end of the bed in the dark bedroom. He knew that he was pretty much alone in the building, the Mobsters of Misneach had gone off to support their beloved (if insane) mistress Mobster Marion. 

And they WERE Mobsters, every single one of them. All of them had forsaken the Death Valley Gang (which was a stupid name anyway. What was his great-grandfather THINKING when he named his vehicle for revenge). Now not even the Death Valley Mobsters remained. Had that been her plan all along? 

Revolver sighed. It was over. Instead of revenge they'd just become what they had been fighting against. Just like Damon and Pythias would have turned into if they had lived, and what Chuckles and Giggles would turn into as well. You couldn't fight the system without becoming part of it, and once you became part of it, well then it was very hard to get out.

He weighed the gun in his hand. It was heavy and solid. In his other hand was a glass of port. He finished the port in one quick gulp, then flicked the safety off the gun in his hand. It should have been the Lucky Seven Gun, but that was long gone now. He pointed the muzzle at his left temple. 

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Snipes, the servant, had his phone and would sir like to take a call?

Revolver sighed again, and pressed the phone to his ear. It was just a lackey letting him know that disaster had stuck and that Mistress Marion was going mad. Would sir please come to assist?

“Can I get you another drink sir?” Snipes asked after Revolver had hung up the call.

Revolver responded by shooting him in the head. 


The disaster in question?

The Haunted Maze Troupe had circled the building, putting the Mobsters of Misneach at a disadvantage. The Emerald Mobsters were equalled by the drugged up weapons of the Troupe, and were now in trouble.

“Damn, where are the backups?!” Mobster Marion hissed as she sliced another Trouper in two. 

“I wouldn't be surprised if the Crusaders were involved.” Sidewinder replied, firing out of a window. 

Daryl, who was listening in from his hiding place, grinned. The rest of the Crusaders were actually out terrorizing Fallsville, so the lost Mobsters had no excuse.

“Hang on, I see them!” One of the Mobsters called. “They're breaking through now!”

“Excellent!” Sidewinder grinned. She continued to provide cover fire for the Mobsters who were slowly getting through the Troupers, who were now confused and starting to lose the battle.

“Once they get here we'll go out for a full offensive. Back away from that window, let the flunkies do their job.” Marion called her sister back. All of the Troupers in the building had been slaughtered. There was time for a breather before starting the battle again, this time from a stronger position.

Daryl pulled out his gun and turned off the safety. 

“Hopefully we'll be finished here soon. Marcus will be going to bed in a few hours.” Sidewinder stretched her arms above her head. “I like being there for bedtime.”

“Don't babies sleep all the time anyway?” Marion asked, pulling a whetstone out of her pocket and running it along her sword. If she only had the Lions Claw Blade, she wouldn't have to worry about sharpening it…

“He's starting to be more curious about the world, so he's not sleeping as much. I swear he wants to get his hands on anything he can!” Sidewinder grinned with pride. “Of course most of the time he throws it away and then gets upset because he doesn't have it anymore. Just like his aunt.”

“Sod off before I skewer you.” Marion glared at her sister. They laughed. No matter what happened between them, they would always be sisters.

The pair were standing at the back of the main part of the building, while the rest of their Mobsters were around the perimetre making sure the reinforcements could get through. No Mobsters were close enough to protect them.

Daryl couldn't have planned it better. He shot out of his fathers office and tore towards Sidewinder!

Sidewinder saw him and grimaced. Random Crusaders?! She threw a pair of Emerald Daggers at him…and they just shattered against him!

“JUDY NO!” Marion cried, rushing to protect her sister. 

Daryl laughed. It was too late.

The bullet went right between Sidewinders eyes. Judith Jofrey died instantly.

“Roger WILL be pleased!” Daryl laughed behind his mask. He got out of there via the back door as the Mobster reinforcements arrived.

And that's when Mobster Marion lost the last of her sanity.

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.

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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

“This IS work!” Lisa from Amenities

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

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

“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

“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

“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

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

Nearly half the table spat out their

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

“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

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

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

“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

“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

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

“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.

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

“Marcus?” TJ

“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

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

“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

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

“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

“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

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!

IMPATIENT PERSON!” Giggles roared at Chuckles, who shrugged.

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

“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

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

“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

“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

“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

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

“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

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

“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

“Hello Andrew.” Charlie said

“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

“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

“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

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

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

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

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

“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

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

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

“Are you two dating?” Webster asked

“NO.” Charlie replied.

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

The pair walked up the steps towards

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

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

“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

“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

“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.

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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

“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

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

The pair flew back to the tip,

“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

“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

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

“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

“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

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

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.

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