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
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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