Chapter One Hundred and Four: The Powder Keg
It took a week to get the centre ready for the big night.
Belle and Charlie had spent the whole day before the meeting making sure everything was planned to near perfection. The air-conditioning was heavily advertised, as was the rather large open bar with plenty of food and non-alcoholic drink available, in the hopes of securing as many people as possible while keeping the urge to fight down.
“Ahem. AHEM!” Giggles tapped the microphone in front of her. “Testing! One, two, one, two!”
“IT'S ON ALREADY! JUST GET ON WITH IT!” Someone from the PCC side of the room yelled.
“Oh boy.” Giggles sighed to herself.
“We've got this buddy. Chill.” Chuckles grinned at her. He took the microphone and began to speak.
“We thank you all for attending this evening. I know it's been a hot, muggy month and you'd all rather be at home trying to cool down.” He began.
“I'M JUST HERE FOR THE AIR-CONDITIONING!” Someone from the PRO side yelled, getting a few laughs from both sides of the room. Chuckles grinned. Giggles breathed a sigh of relief. She might be the one with the knowledge, but Chuckles had charisma to burn.
“We're here tonight because we honestly believe that our city should be united, and that all voices should be heard. I understand that there are some out there who are unhappy with how things are, and then there are people who want things left as they are. Both of these are understandable, and hopefully with a bit of teamwork we can all come together and make this city a better place.”
There was a murmur throughout the room. Chuckles felt a drop of sweat run down his face, even with the air-conditioning.
“First up, we will have nominated leaders from both the Pleasantville Revolution Organisation and the Pleasantville Community Committee up on stage to talk about their views and discuss viable options that encompass the needs of all both parties. Afterwards, we will open the floor to discussion.” Giggles quickly stepped in.
Chuckles breathed a sigh of relief. Of course Giggles knew the programme like the back of her hand.
Meanwhile, the two nominated representatives from both factions walked up to the stage. Neither of them looked particularly friendly, but both of them looked determined.
“The Pleasantville Revolution Organisation only wants the best for our city, and what is currently happening is NOT what is best for our city.” The PRO representative said.
“This is also the will of the Pleasantville Community Committee, however, we believe that it's in the best interests of the city for things to remain as they are. We could very well be opening our doors to much worse if we fight it.” The PCC representative pointed out.
“ONLY COS YOU LIKE STEALING FROM OTHERS AND YOU DON'T WANT IT TO BE ILLEGAL!” Someone yelled, gaining jeers and cheers. Giggles frowned.
“I pay my protection money, same as you all, and to this day my business, that I try to operate in the most ethical way I can, has not been hurt!” The PCC rep protested. “If we stand up and fight, the retaliation will be severe!”
“COWARD!” Another yell. Giggles began to tense up. Chuckles squeezed her hand. This was NOT going well.
“I understand where you're coming from mate, but wouldn't you prefer not to have to pay protection money at all? You earned that money, you shouldn't have to part with it. What if we could have something better?” The PRO representative said.
“WHAT, WE JUST START PAYING YOU INSTEAD?” Another yell. Chuckles winced, nearly crushing Giggles hand.
“We can do better, we just have to work together on this!” The PRO rep tried. The crowd was getting restless.
That's when Giggles saw it.
“Chuckles! Someone at the bar is selling alcohol!” She groaned as she watched the barkeeper pour beer into a cup.
“Crap. I guess you can't get good help around here.” Chuckles sighed.
Giggles looked closer. Her breath stopped.
“It's…the Haunted Maze Troupe…” She choked. “HOW did they get in here past security?!”
“They could have come in with their masks in their pockets.” Chuckles suggested. Giggles shook her head.
“Everyone was checked at the door. We would have busted them.” She groaned. “And there's Demon looking all smug like he knows what's going on.”
It was Chuckles turn to choke.
“He DOES know what's going on. He wasn't checked, his security guards wouldn't allow it!” Chuckles spluttered. “He's working with the Haunted Maze Troupe!”
“We have to try and mitigate the damage, but I don't see how.” Giggles felt her stomach sinking through the floor. “Anything we say or do is under the microscope, we HAVE to be impartial!”
More people were calling out as the debate started getting heated. Suddenly, Chuckles had an idea. He pushed in the face of his watch and waited until Lady Luck appeared.
“Get Lady Silent to set off the fire sprinklers. We need to cool off.” He whispered.
“MY CAPE IS DRY CLEAN ONLY!” Giggles hissed.
“Wouldn't know it from how many times you fall into the lake.”
“I'll get Lady Silent onto it!” Lady Luck bolted as Giggles growled angrily at Chuckles, who smirked.
“Why Lady Silent anyway?” Giggles grumbled.
“Because of her power to not be noticed.” Chuckles replied.
Suddenly the whole room erupted in wails and water streamed onto everyone in attendance.
“GET OUT OF THE WAY!”
“OUTTA MY ROAD!”
“GET OUT OF THE FREAKING ROAD!”
“This wasn't such a good idea.” Chuckles groaned as Giggles wept for her cape.
Suddenly there was a loud “CRACK!” as someone slammed their fist into another persons jaw!
“THAT HURT!” The victim jumped up in fury, putting their attacker in a headlock.
“Darn it!” Giggles immediately flew to break up the fight before it got bad.
“Stay out of it you witch!” Someone grabbed her foot and threw her against a wall.
“OOF!” Giggles landed on top of the bar, which collapsed under her weight. “This is YOUR fault.” She snapped at the Trouper manning the bar, who shrugged and offered her a drink.
The brawl spilled outside, where a few other citizens who weren't intoxicated managed to break it up. Shouts and threats were heard throughout the night as the crowd dispersed.
“You've only delayed the inevitable, you know that right?” Someone walked up behind Chuckles.
“Demon.” Chuckles growled. “You did this. You're the one who got the Troupe to poison the well. People would have seen the light if you hadn't interfered!”
“Oh please. I just made them be honest with themselves.” Demon smiled. “Your grandfather was honest with himself, wasn't he?”
Chuckles swallowed back his anger, before jumping off the stage to help Giggles up. Demon chuckled to himself, before heading back to City Hall.
“Things look a little rough in Pleasantville right now.” Crusader Roger poured a glass of wine for himself. “I don't know if you're still talking to Daddy or not, but I'd like to get an accurate picture of the situation before we act.”
“I speak to my Mother, and she gives me enough information to go on.” Crusader Daryl snapped. “Besides, no matter the situation there's no way we can get into Pleasantville right now.”
“We'd have PCC support.” Roger pointed out.
“You don't think the Mob knows that? Besides, Demon is in charge of the Haunted Maze Troupe now, and they'll stop us or the Mob if we try to interfere.” Daryl eyed off the glass of wine in disgust. “Face it, we're done in the Pleasantville.”
“I wouldn't say that just yet.” Roger sipped the wine. “Pop the telly on mate, see how the Leos are doing.”
“You KNOW I'm a Mynahs fan.” Daryl snapped.
“FINE, I'll turn the telly on.” Roger sighed. Daryl was the worst partner in the world. He been raised to believe he was the centre of the universe and that the world owed him. Roger knew he had a sister that he had enjoyed abusing as a child, and he sent a small prayer out for her as he walked over to the television set. He guessed he shouldn't be too hard on the boy, it wasn't his fault that he wasn't Mark, but still…
He reached over and turned the television on. After enjoying the first quarter of the game (Leos 4.1.25 to the Caryard Kitties 1.2.8) he was about the mute the ads when the news bulletin started.
“News just in! Pleasantville is descending into chaos! Reporters on site report that the first brawl started at a meeting between the Pleasantville Revolution Organisation and the Pleasantville Community Committee that was organised by local vigilantes Chuckles and Giggles. Police struggling to contain the violence that is breaking out in spots around the city. Further updates at 10.”
“DARYL! Get up! We have to get to Pleasantville NOW!” Roger grabbed his shotgun and hauled Daryl to his feet. “Rally the troops!”
“What the -?” Daryl grumbled.
“We have to get there ASAP, before the Mob or the Troupe take over!” Roger yelled at him as he ran out into the hall. “OI! YOU LOT! Get mobilised, we're going to war!”
Daryl groaned again. Then he thought of getting some much-desired revenge on Lady Courage and grinned.
“What's that noise?” Sammy stirred from his rest on the rickety old cot in the cell.
“Sounds like the boys are moving out.” TJ didn't stir from his mattress on the floor. “Probably to go and pretend to arrest the DVM or something.”
Then they heard a loud bang. Both of them shot up, ready to strike if needed.
Someone then came running through the gaol, jangling keys loudly.
“LADY SILENT!” The pair cried as Lady Silent began the process of figuring out which key unlocked them.
“It's a long story, I'll explain it once we get out of here.” Lady Silent shushed them as she finally unlocked the cell door. “Basically, Pleasantville is at war, and everyone is blaming Chuckles and Giggles for it. There's no one in the cop shop at the moment, so I took the liberty of releasing you two.”
“Is it really that bad?” Sammy hugged his sister before they made their way out of the building.
“It's worse. It's so much worse.” Lady Silent told them.