Chapter Seventy-Three: The Haunted Maze Troupe

Chuckles and Giggles faced the cloaked man or woman who was in the middle of the street. Around them lay several police, all of them completely zoned out.
“Don't get too close, they've got a powerful drug on them and if you breathe that in you'll be out like those police.” Chuckles warned.
“I'm wearing a helmet, Chuckles.” Giggles groaned.
“And a very nice one too.” Chuckles grinned.
The man/woman in the cloak said nothing. His/her face was covered with a mask that looked like a baby, only the entire thing had been painted blue. Around the city, there were more people wearing the exact same mask, only painted in different colours.
Giggles kept the Lucky Seven Gun trained on them, while Chuckles had the Lions Claw Blade at the ready. The person in front of them didn't move, they just stared blankly ahead.
“Who are you?” Chuckles tightened his grip on the Lions Claw Blade.
No answer, just silence and the same blank stare.
“I know who they are.” Giggles said quietly.
Chuckles tensed up. “Another one of the old crime syndicates come back from the dead?”
“Yup.” Giggles replied. “I'll bet you any money you like that the Haunted Maze Troupe is back.”
“Very good fool!” A male voice said, before the cloaked person attacked!
He pulled two knives from his cloak and went for Chuckles. Chuckles blocked the attack with the Lions Claw Blade, and Giggles grabbed him before he could inhale any of the drug. She fired the Lucky Seven Gun to stop the Trouper from following them.
“That was too close.” Chuckles gritted his teeth.
“If only we knew how he was putting out that drug.” Giggles sighed.
Chuckles took one look at the man and bolted back at him.
“When will I learn?” Giggles groaned. She flew after Chuckles to provide support.
Chuckles had noticed a bit of smoke around the knives of the Trouper. Using the Lions Claw Blade for distance, he slashed at the Trouper, knocking one of the knives free. The Trouper quickly backed off.
“Don't follow him Chuckles!” Giggles cried, but it was too late. Groaning, she flew to rescue her friend, just as the Trouper detonated a small smoke bomb.
Chuckles awoke on the side of the street, head throbbing.
“I can do without THAT happening again.” He groaned, before realizing where he was. He quickly jumped up, the Lions Claw Blade at the ready. However, there was no one around.
Chuckles felt confused, then worried, then angry, then confused again. It was peak hour in Pleasantville, where WAS everyone? Where was Giggles? Why hadn't the Lions Claw Blade ben taken while he was knocked out?
“Hello?” He called out. His voice echoed eerily around him, almost unnaturally. Keeping a firm hand on the Lions Claw Blade, he reached to his hip where his grappling hook and rope were ready. With a bit of work (“This is SO much easier with Giggles to fly me up!”) he managed to get to the top of a building. He then used to grappling hook and rope to get up to the tallest building in Pleasantville, where he looked around and saw no one.
“This is wrong. This is VERY wrong. What have the Haunted Maze Troupe DONE?” He wondered. He began to worry. What about the Knights of the Last Order? What about his employees? Their families? HIS family?
What about Giggles?
He slapped in the face of his watch, hoping at least SOMEONE would still be around to see it. Then, in a small moment of inspiration, he decided to head towards the tip. Maybe everyone had met up there.
“Giggles! Hey GIGGLES! Wake up!”
Giggles felt groggy as her father shook her awake in the Council building break room.
“Are you okay Giggles?” Peter Masters looked at his daughter, concerned.
Giggles was about to answer, when she noticed that her helmet was still on.
“I'm fine. I need to go and find Chuckles.” She said, trying to get up. Her head hurt, and she was dizzy.
“You need to rest. Get that helmet off and I'll bring you something to drink.” Peter told her, before heading into the kitchenette.
Giggles took the opportunity to get out of there. Clearly, there had been something in that smoke bomb that was messing around with her head, and now she was hallucinating. Why else would her father have called her Giggles and not removed her helmet?
Sure enough, the entire Council building was empty, and the city appeared deserted. A LOT of things were wrong with this scenario. What was in the smoke that was in that smoke-bomb? Was it addictive? Would their be any long-term side effects? What was going on in the real world? Had they already been unmasked and arrested?
“So many questions, and I don't think I'm ready to give you the answers.”
Giggles spun around. The Haunted Maze Trouper was standing there, ready for a fight.
“What have you done?” Giggles asked.
“Aren't you going to draw your weapon?” Asked the Trouper.
“Not when I'm under the influence of your drug. I could accidentally hurt an innocent.” Giggles replied. “What is this drug?”
“It's a joint-hallucination compound. Something we found overseas which we thought would be useful in getting Pleasantville to bow to us.” The Trouper told her.
“You were hoping either Chuckles or I would accidentally reveal ourselves.” Giggles growled. “Where is he?”
“Depends. You see, as long as I have this,” The Trouper held up a small device with several buttons. “I can do anything to your reality that I like.”
He pushed a button. The buildings began to shimmer as a low sound came from the device.
“It influences the brain with sound.” Giggles smirked. “I guess I have the advantage, I didn't breathe in as much of your drug because of my helmet, and the helmet also blocks most of the sound too.”
The Trouper moved his head slightly. “It doesn't matter, your friend copped the full blast, so he's much easier to manipulate.” There was annoyance in his voice, but certainty too.
“Chuckles isn't stupid.” Giggles fired.
“Maybe. Maybe not. Depends what we do to him, and if you can find him in time.” The Trouper chuckled, before pressing some more buttons.
“Darn it!” Giggles groaned, as the city around her began to flicker into a thick jungle.

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