Chapter One Hundred and Eight: The Inspector

 “Hey Dan.”

Daniel was standing on
Pleasant Dam, looking out over the city, when Belle appeared, wearing
the Backpack.

“You flew without
your Giggles disguise? Risky business.” Daniel frowned at her as
she came to stand next to him.

“I have my helmet
with me.” Belle replied, pointing back where she'd hung the helmet
off the Backpack. “Dad put a hook on for me. Pretty cool, huh?”

“Did he stop the
random cut-outs that leave you in the middle of the lake?” Daniel
asked as Belle leaned on the railing.

“Nah, I don't think
there's anything he can really do about that.” Belle chuckled. “I
don't know if you heard about my grand-parents.”

“Vaguely.” Daniel
returned to looking out over the city.

“Did you hear about
how they're actually members of the Haunted Maze Troupe?”


“Yeah, so I'm a
criminal just like you!” Belle grinned. Daniel tried to grin along,
but he felt sick to his stomach. Belle didn't know just how much of a
criminal he was. “You look awful mate. Are you okay? The rest of
the Knights are worried about you, especially Sammy. You know how
much he looks up to you.”

“I'm just tired. I
think I'm getting too old to play Sir Lionheart.” Daniel tried to
force some humour into his voice, but it made him sound exhausted.

“We're all tired Dan,
and I can understand how you'd feel. Leadership is hard as it is, but
then throw the weight of expectation from your family to reignite the
Silent Lake Gang and the thought that you're not living up to that.
Whew. It'd be a lot for anyone to take.” Belle patted his back.
“Feel free to share the burden with the rest of us.”

Daniel nearly told her.
He nearly told her that he was the reason they'd had such a huge
set-back, he almost told her that he was the one who killed Wallace
Dingbat. He wanted to tell her how much he enjoyed it, and how right
it felt.

He didn't, but boy, did
he want to.

“Thanks.” Was all
he said.

Belle smiled, and
reached for her helmet. Of course, the helmet was right in the middle
of her back, making it rather difficult to get a hand on. After
struggling for a few seconds, Daniel walked over and grabbed it for
her. She grinned at him, put the helmet on, and flew off the side of
the dam, flying away from a glorious sunset.

Then the Backpack cut
out and she fell into the creek.

Dripping wet, Belle
made her way back home, stopping at the letterbox to see if there was
any mail.

suspension…junk…bills…oh hey a letter for me! Oh, wait, another
groveling attempt from my grand-parents, never mind…” Belle
sorted through the mail as she walked inside.

“Hi Belle. Did you
fall in the lake again?” Lara asked as Belle put the mail on the
kitchen counter.

“Fell into the creek
after talking to Dan.” Belle grabbed a towel and began to rub her

“How's Dan going?”
Lara asked as she poured tomato paste into a bowl.

“He's hanging in
there.” Belle replied.

Awkward silence. Belle
held the letter from her grand-parents in her hand. Grand-parents who
had only really shown up when Belle could have been of use for the
Haunted Maze Troupe. Compared to Lara, who hadn't even really needed
to be there for Belle, it was a stark contrast.

Maybe it was time to
grow up. Especially as Giggles watch was flashing.

“I'm gonna go save
the day again. See ya Mum!” Belle grabbed her helmet again and
bolted out of the door.

Lara smiled. “Go get
'em Giggles!”

Chuckles ducked under a
blow from Crusader Daryl, and kicked the spoiled brat away. “I know
y'all are upset that the Haunted Maze Troupe beat you to the punch,
but c'mon, kidnapping children? Marion and Revolver tried that
rubbish and look what happened to them!”

“The Death Valley
Mobsters are done in Pleasantville, but that doesn't mean they didn't
have SOME good ideas!” Daryl retorted.

The March Hill
Crusaders had decided to attack the local primary school, reminding
Chuckles and Giggles of their first brush with crime back when they
were in their early teens. This time however, there were vigilantes
to save the day. Daryl couldn't even get near the front gate!

“Where's Roger? I
thought your little boyfriend would be right here with you.”
Giggles sat in a nearby tree, her Desert Eagle pointed at Daryl (he's
not worth wasting the Lucky Seven Gun on).

“Roger has left the
day-to-day operations of the March Hill Crusaders to me.” Daryl
replied smugly. “He's heading up projects.”

“Are you guys a crime
syndicate or a multi-national? Geez!” Giggles rolled her eyes. “You
know Roger only put you in charge of ops to try and get you arrested
and out of his hair, right?”

Daryl fumed.

“You've got ten men
with you, and yet you haven't even managed to get onto the school
grounds because of me. Honestly, I don't know why Roger puts up with
you.” Chuckles grinned.

“It's because of his
Daddy!” Giggles yelled. Both vigilantes laughed.

“You two jerks!”
Daryl pouted.

Just then, the police

“About time.”
Giggles groused.

A tall, lean man with
sandy hair and a thick moustache stepped out of one of the cars
wearing the Inspectors uniform. Giggles sat up straight. She hadn't
known that the new Inspector had been announced already!

“Make sure you get
the vigilantes too.” The new Inspector said to one of his officers.
The officer nodded with a smirk.

“Not gonna happen.
Chuckles, we're getting out of here!” Giggles jumped out of the
tree and flew over to where Chuckles was. The pair ran away from the
cops, who grabbed a car to chase after them.

“A car is no match
for me!” Giggles picked up Chuckles and flew him up on top of the
nearest building. Sure enough, the police car rolled up to the
building and the police got out. Giggles used that time to fly away,
much to the anger of the police.

“A new Inspector. He
hasn't even had his swearing-in yet!” Giggles said as the pair flew
back to the tip.

“We'll have to ask TJ
about him.” Chuckles added. He felt a shudder from Giggles. “We're
about to get another drenching, aren't we?”

“Yup.” Giggles
groaned as the Backpack gave out and the pair plummeted into Pleasant

“This is
embarrassing.” Chuckles helped Giggles out of the muddy creek, both
of them dripping wet.

“Well, well, well, we
knew we'd find you here!”

Chuckles and Giggles
looked up to see Harold and Lady Billard, both in their Haunted Maze
Troupe uniforms.

And Lady had a firm
grip on young Madeleine Masters!

“REALLY?!” Giggles

“We happen to know
that you're good friends with the Masters family.” Harold smirked.
“So you're going to go and get Belle Masters for us, and this brat
won't get hurt.”

“Hewwo Chuckles and
Giggles!” Madeleine waved.

“Awww! Her
pronunciation is improving!” Giggles clapped happily.

“It won't if you
don't get Belle!” Lady tapped her foot impatiently.

Giggles looked at
Chuckles, and sighed.

“Those are old
uniforms, and the knives they have a different from the usual ones.
Plus they're not wearing masks.” She told Chuckles.

“All I needed to
know.” Chuckles grinned before unsheathing the Lions Claw Blade and
swinging it, making both of the Troupers jump back.

“HEY!” Harold

“HEY!” Lady cried
as Madeleine was swiped from her by Giggles.

“Too easy. Later!”
Chuckles and Giggles ran off with Madeleine, who was laughing.

“You're too calm for
your own good kiddo!” Belle chided her sister as they sat at the
tip, waiting for a lift home.

“I am not!”
Madeleine protested. Belle tickled her, and the pair laughed.

“You two are so
cute.” Charlie smiled at the pair. Belle smiled back. Madeleine
looked at them both expectantly.

“HEY! You two!”
They heard Petunia yell. “Hey, what's Maddles doing here?”
Petunia walked up and sat down with the friends.

“My 'grand-parents'
tried to kidnap her to get Giggles to hand me over.” Belle laughed.
Soon, TJ, Sammy and Tammy had joined them.

“Sunny is out at a
job interview.” Tammy sounded excited. “And who knows where Dan

“I think he's just
under pressure.” Belle said, settling Madeleine on her lap.

Suddenly Sunny burst
into the group, tears streaming down her face.

“He actually
blackballed me. My own father blackballed me…” She fell to the
ground and sobbed.

“Oh Sunny!” Belle
and Madeleine rushed to hug Sunny.

“I don't know what to
do anymore. I mean, I don't need a job but…” Sunny trailed off.

“You DO need a job
Sunny. If you feel you need one, then you do. I'm sure we can find
something for you.” Petunia tried to settle her friend down.

“You could be a cop,
no experience needed.” TJ said bitterly.

“Oh, right! Speaking
of cops, have you seen a new Inspector recently?” Charlie asked as
the girls gathered around Sunny.

“He's as good as the
Inspector, although nothing's official yet.” TJ grumbled. “Andrew
Haiter is his name, and he's worse than Dingbat.”

“How so?” Belle

“He's not only
racist, but homophobic, transphobic and extremely sexist.” TJ told
them. “He's the one who got you suspended that time because you
corrected his terminology in court.”

“Oh, THAT guy.”
Belle groaned. “What's the chances?”

“High.” TJ said.

The group sat in
silence, all of them worried about this new development. Soon, Daniel
arrived and they told him the news.

“You're KIDDING!
They've hired someone WORSE?!” He groaned after TJ finished

because Dingbat was killed instead of being fired -,” TJ started.

“Will you STOP
harping on about how terrible it is that Dingbat was killed! It's not
like better people haven't died too!” Daniel snapped suddenly.
Everyone was taken aback.

“Mate, the whole
point is that if he'd been fired instead of killed, there would have
been a mandatory investigation by the Higher Government! Demon
couldn't hide from that!” TJ exclaimed.

“Well why aren't our
lawyer-types trying to lobby for a better inspector?!” Daniel
rounded on Belle, trying to funnel some of the pressure onto her.

“I'm just a
prosecutor, and Dad is only one Counsellor. He might have Judy on his
side, but they're up against it. Not to mention that Judy has to be
careful.” Belle pointed out.

“Why are you so
touchy for?!” Sunny exclaimed.

“Guys, Dan's probably
tired. He's the leader of the Noble Knights of the Last Order
remember? It's a big job.” Belle tried to pour oil on the troubled

“Forget it Belle. I'm
out.” Daniel stormed off.

“DAN!” Petunia and
Tammy tried to run after him. Daniel shot them a Look, and they
backed off.

“He's really not in a
good place is he?” Belle asked as the two girls returned, dejected.

“No, and I wish he'd
talk to us! If we don't know what's wrong, how can we help him?”
Tammy kicked a rock.

“He was like this
during the flood, remember? Only that time he actually talked to us
instead of biting our heads off.” Sammy said quietly. Ever since he
was little, Daniel had been there. From the earliest days of school,
through to becoming a Knight and everything that came with that,
Daniel had been his hero. Even though Sammy was a man now, almost
through his teaching degree, he still felt the sting of Daniel slowly
turning his back on them.

“I think the
leadership is getting to him. Especially as we keep getting kicked in
the guts again and again and again.” Belle said. “Maybe lay off
him for a bit.”

“We'll try
Belle-Belle, but I think this time it might be harder than ever to
get things back to normal.” Sunny booped her friend on the nose.

Just then, Lara arrived
to pick up her daughters. “Hey everyone. You all look glum. Has Dan
been upset again?”

“How'd you guess?”
TJ said drily.

“I thought you'd be a
bit more panicked. After all, your toddler daughter got kidnapped.”
Petunia raised an eyebrow as Lara picked Madeleine up.

“Oh, I knew her
sister would protect her, no problem.” Lara smiled. “I have two
very, VERY competent daughters, I don't need to worry.”

Belle grinned and got
up to hug Lara. “Love you too Mum.”

Everyone had to laugh
as the tension was broken. At least ONE relationship was repaired!

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