Kut Kastle I
The next morning, the Justice League gathered around to discuss the email. Paper Kut’s email read:
Justis Leeg! I wil get u!!!!! U wil di, after mi evul plan gos in2 moshun. Wach ur bak.
He had never been much of a speller.
"Paper Kut is in a mental institution. Who cares what he sends us?" Studmuffin said.
"Can you grasp the possibility maybe he would have gotten out?" Pinzz said.
"Can we trace it or something?" Scarlett asked.
"No. We can’t. It’s not like we’re in the movies,” Studmuffin pointed out.
"No. If we were, we would never lose." SuperDude muttered.
Pinzz went to the phone and called the mental institution.
"Hey. Pinzz from the Justice League. I would like to check up on a patient...Uh-huh, yeah, his name is Richard Lowery. AKA Paper Kut... He broke out... Injured 3 orderlies...highly dangerous. Thanks."
She hung up and turned back to the others. "He broke out. No one knows his whereabouts. But we do. The Kut Kastle."
"Should we go? I say we do." Omega said, having just arrived from taking Twisk home. Everyone nodded.
"Mom. Sign it." Twisk said, holding out the paper.
She pushed it away. "I will not! I will not condemn my daughter to death!"
"Stop being so dramatic!! I'm not going to die!" Twisk yelled. "Please mom, just sign it."
She stood defiant. Twisk started blowing bubbles, enough to cloud the room. She grabbed the water from the sink, and formed it into a ball, just above her mother’s head. Her mom stood still, stricken.
"Don’t dare drop that me!" she shrieked, but it was too late. She was drenched.
She practically ripped the paper out of Twisk’s hand and scribbled her name on the line. She threw it at her daughter. "Get out."
Raven took another sip of her highly-caffeinated drink. Lourdes only had a year left, and then she would marry the prince! Curses. The wretched child ran away again.
"Are you coming with us to the Kut Kastle?" Oreo Avenger asked Raven. "Or would you rather stay here and watch for trouble."
"Yeah," Raven replied. Lourdes was good at her cabaret job. Perhaps a little too good.
Oreo Avenger looked at Raven's screen. "Okay, you'll stay here then. Remember, I get to play when I get back!" she said, walking away.
So, Paper Kut was writing threatening notes to them again. His favorite weapon was, not surprisingly, a paper saw. He was an origami master. He was also a giant squirrel. When Oreo Avenger was new to her powers, Paper Kut made a habit of picking on two brothers who were both named Pete. One day, while Paper Cut was menacing the park with a paper chainsaw, Oreo Avenger had enough. She reached into her Oreo satchel, conjured up an Oreo, and hit him right in the mouth with it. When the smoke cleared, everyone saw a giant squirrel where Paper Kut used to be. He scampered off and plotted his revenge.
And now he's back,Oreo Avenger thought, climbing into the Justice Jet.
"Are we ready to go?" she asked.
There are many mistakes that one can make in a life time, X-Raytor thought. Mutating people, for example, even if inadvertently. And ordering take-out from Taco Bell. But this, I think, is the worst.
The mistake he was referring to, of course, was letting Violet Princess drive the Justice Jet. Even now, before take off, he could tell it was going to be a bumpy ride. Violet had that look in her eyes again...
Wait, I wonder if she gets off on this? He thought, and then smiled to himself.
"Is everyone on board?" Violet asked.
"Everyone" consisted of X-Raytor, Violet, Oreo Avenger, OMEGA, Eric, Super Dude, Xiao, and Rosma.
The other people, the more battle worthy people, and anyone with any sort of command capabilities was in the JL Flying Pretzel: Pinzz, Crystal Freeze, Scarlett Fyre, Midnight Chatter (who seemed to be surgically attached to Scarlett now), Dragon Girl, and Studmuffin.
"Okay, flight prep's done, I think we can get this show under way now!" Violet said, grinning with almost sadistic anticipation. Then she got a smug look. "Unless, of course, you want to add something, Iso?"
Silence. Violet blinked.
"Um, I don't think Iso's here..." Oreo Avenger said, glancing at him empty seat.
"Yeah, didn't he say he was following some sort of crime ring or something?" Eric asked, struggling with the pair of boxers that had become mandatory to his costume any time that he wasn't on a mission.
Violet's eyes widened and she smacked her forehead. "Of course!"
She hopped out of the pilot seat and headed down the entrance ramp. She paused, looked at the others and said. "Hey, tell Pinzz that I'm, um, giving Iso some back-up, okay?"
"Will do." Oreo Avenger said, gesturing for her to move on. Violet immediately ran back into the Hall of Justice.
There was a brief silence.
"I got the boxers off!" Eric said, slyly.
Rosma sighed. "Let's just go."
X-Raytor got up. "I'll drive!"
"No! Not after last time!"
"What do you mean? I did perfectly well driving to Bo Power's cabin!"
"And what do you call that run in with the police chopper?"
"Uh... fender bender?"
Rosma sighed. "I'd have Iso or Raven fly, but they aren't here, so... SuperDude. You've got speed, good reflexes, right? You won't run into any police air-craft trying to rescue orphans from the roof of a burning building, right?" She glanced at X-Raytor with that last question.
Suddenly, the radio blared to life. "Hey! Guys! We're leaving, so, um, come on!" Studmuffin's voice said.
"You heard the man with the Chi!" Rosma said, shoving Super Dude into the pilot's seat. "Let's go!"
The Justice Leaguers walked cautiously into the Kastle, careful to avoid the papier-mâché booby-traps that guarded the entrance.
"You know, I'm surprised he rebuilt this place so close. It's less than ten miles from our headquarters," said Omega.
"He's a bold kid, Omega. A bold kid," said Xiao in an excellent "Gerald from Hey! Arnold" impersonation.
"Alright, guys. Should we split up?" asked Scarlett.
"Good idea," said Pinzz. "We'll go in pairs. If someone finds Paper Kut or his henchmen, holler."
So they divided themselves up. The groups went as follows: Pinzz and Rosma, Crystal and Xiao, Scarlett and Midnight Chatter, X-Raytor and Oreo Avenger, Eric, Dragon Girl, and Omega, and finally, Studmuffin and Superdude. They each headed for different portions of the castle.
Scarlett and Midnight Chatter went towards the dungeon. Scarlett didn't mind Midnight Chatter as much as the others did, she had noticed. Her reasoning for this was that she was partly grateful his abilities had helped her clear her name, and partly because she was so used to doing all the talking when it was just her and Hamlet. It was nice to have a break and let someone else do all the talking. Of course, there are limits.
"…but Ewan McGregor has no singing abilities whatsoever. He sucks. I mean, what was Baz Luhrman thinking when he hired him for Moulin Rouge. I couldn't stand that movie, it's just so-" Scarlett stopped and looked Midnight Chatter dead in the eye.
"If you ever, EVER say another negative thing about Ewan McGregor, so help me I'll set you on fire and you'll die hearing the lyrics from Moulin Rouge. The same goes for insulting the movie, too, got it?"
Midnight Chatter nodded, and they started walking again, coming to a set of dark stairs leading down to the dungeon. "It's just that Moulin Rouge was so--"
Scarlett stopped on the first step, raising her eyebrows.
"Shutting up," said Midnight. "I'm shutting up."
Rosma hummed. And hummed.
"Cut that out." Pinzz said
"Why?" she asked, but Pinzz ignored her and kept walking.
"Hear that?" Rosma asked.
"That." She hummed more.
"You’re not funny." Pinzz said
She took one more step and crushed a frog. An origami frog. Water sprayed out of the walls, as two glass doors slid up around them. At the rate the water was filling the room, they only had about five minutes to escape before being drowned. Pinzz pounded the door, but the door didn’t budge.
"HELP!" Rosma screamed.
A scream pierced the air.
"What was that? It sounded like…Rosma!" Xiao said. She and Crystal turned a corner and ran into Studmuffin and SuperDude.
"We heard a scream." Studmuffin said.
All four ran down the nearest stairwell and came to a huge tub of water. Pinzz and Rosma were inside. Everyone else was there. They were punching it. Pinzz was hitting it rapidly with her fist. It seemed almost thought she would break it, but it wasn’t happening.
“We need Twisk!” Rosma shouted. “She can help with the water!”
“Yeah, good thing she’s here and we didn’t send her home!” Crystal shouted back.
“It is a good thing!” Twisk said, running into the room.
"Twisk! Move the water!" Pinzz shouted. She pointed to a hole, no bigger than a nostril. "Out through there."
Twisk concentrated. The water shifted around them and fell a little. "I…I can’t do it," she said.
"No, Twisk, you can. Come on." Pinzz urged. Immediately, she was in her costume. She shot up to the ceiling and stuck there. The water was still rising. That was a good place to be, breathing out of the small hole. She pulled Rosma up to get a breath.
Twisk concentrated. The water rose.
"Ahhahahahah!" A shriek rung in the air. Twisk lost her concentration and dropped the water.
"Paper Kut!" Pinzz yelled. "Upstairs! Get him. Twisk has us." She assured the others, who ran off. "Twisk, you can’t let us drown. Come on!"
Twisk kept trying, but it was really no use. Crystal Freeze ran up to them again.
"We need your help upstairs.”
"Tell them to keep at it. We will be right there. Don’t back down, okay?" Twisk said.
Crystal smirked. She gave a mock salute and hurried off. Twisk hopped on top of the big tub, put her mouth against the hole and blew two huge bubbles. The bubbles overtook Pinzz and Rosma. They could breathe. At least until the bubbles broke.
Twisk took a deep breath and relaxed. She put her hand out in front of her, muscles tensed. Little by little, the water flooded out around the box until it was only ankle deep. Twisk slowly melted to water and sank into the big tub with Pinzz and Rosma. She quickly changed back into her human form.
"Guys, when I melt, grab me, then drink me, okay?" she said. Rosma and Pinzz looked at her like she was on drugs. "Just do it, and then spit really quick."
Twisk slowly turned to water. They each grabbed a handful. Drank. Then they, too, melted. Their spit was laying on the surface, when Twisk reappeared out of it.
"Gross." She blew some bubbles around the water that was too blue to be real water. They floated up. Up and out of the hole. They splattered on the ground and slowly took form.
"Easy as cake." Twisk said. "Go fight now, guys, I will be right out."
Upstairs, some bad guys were in ice cubes or burnt on the floor, but Paper Kut’s henchmen were outnumbering the League.
"So why exactly don't you like Moulin Rouge?" asked Scarlett. Her curiosity had gotten the better of her. "I won't hurt you," she assured Midnight Chatter.
"Well, I don't know. I mean, Nicole Kidman falls for that guy? Why Ewan McGregor? What's he got that I don't have?"
Scarlett smiled. "Ah...I see. You liked the movie, didn't you? You're just jealous of Ewan."
Midnight Chatter avoided her eyes. "Uh, you might could look at it that way.”
"AAHHHHHHHH!" Scarlett and Midnight heard Rosma screaming. The screams seemed to be coming from right above them.
"Come on! We've got to help them!" said Scarlett.
"Yeah, let's go!" added Midnight Chatter. They ran to the stairs, but when they reached the top, they realized the opening had been closed off.
"Uh-oh," said Midnight Chatter.
Then the lights went off.
Two arms grabbed Scarlett in a tight hug. She shrieked.
Midnight Chatter screamed in response, and the arms squeezed Scarlett tighter.
Scarlett thought for a second. "Midnight?"
"Is that you?"
"Can you let go?"
"But I'm afraid of the dark!" he said. Scarlett sighed, peeling his arms from around her waist.
"Here. Hold my hand instead," she told him. "That way, we can walk around and maybe find an exit." He took her hand and gripped it so tightly she thought she might lose her circulation.
They went back down the stairs, searching for a window or something, but everything was pitch black.
"Hey, you wouldn't have a spare piece of wood on you, would you?" asked Scarlett.
"I could set it on fire and we could use it as a torch."
"Oh. No. But there was a wooden chair next to where the stairs were. We could bust it up and use the legs," Midnight Chatter suggested.
"Good idea." They found the chair and broke it to pieces. Scarlett sang the first two lines from Come What May to light the first chair leg. The torch wasn't nearly as good as the lights that had previously illuminated the dungeon, but it was better than nothing.
"I'm going to morph to panther, okay?" said Scarlett. "It's got night vision and I'll feel better knowing I can tear apart anyone who confronts us." So she did. Panther was one of her favorite morphs, and she had done it so often she could morph it rather gracefully.
Suddenly, they heard the sound of chains clanging very far away.
"What's that?" asked Midnight Chatter in alarm.
< I don't know. Let's go find out, > replied Scarlett
"Do we have to?" moaned Midnight Chatter. Scarlett grabbed his shirt with her panther teeth and pulled him in the direction the clanging was coming from. "I've got a bad feeling about this," he said, following her.
They reached the clanging chains.
It was Isomorphix!
He explained he'd been captured and imprisoned there, so Scarlett demorphed and sang enough to melt his chains--it burned Isomorphix's wrists, but it was better than being in Paper Kut's evil clutches. "Maybe next time I'll let Violet tag along," he said.
"You wouldn't happen to know another way out, would you?" asked Scarlett.
"Yeah, actually I do."
So they escaped from the dungeon and ran to join the others.
Raven leaned forward, pressing the "Schedule" button and watching the screens that said Lourdes was 18, was leaving home, etc.
Suddenly, there was a knock, and Raven froze. She checked the screen and shrugged, realizing she had more than enough time to get the door. She opened it, and lo and behold, there was the Evil Store Manager. "Hello, miss." he said.
Raven had, at some point, torn herself away from Princess Maker to dress in a shirt and shorts, and for the first time in a long time, was thankful that she had brown hair, for nobody takes a superhero with brown hair seriously.
And it's not fair! I mean, I happen to have a mutation that gives me powers, and I happen to have brown hair! No real difference! Cwah! She raged to herself, facing the manager.
"Hello." She said aloud.
"Does this happen to be the Justice League headquarters?"
"Oh, this? No. This is the...fan club headquarters. Yeah. But I don't know anything about them. I just joined for the free comic books. Or, well, trade paperbacks." She said, aware of sounding like a complete moron. Well, that was a good thing, wasn't it? Then he wouldn't believe she was really a superhero. Then she noticed that the Evil Store Manager was staring at the computer screen.
"Princess Maker 2." she said.
"Yes." he said in a strangled sort of tone. "I don't like Princess Maker 2. My father's cousin's doctor's lawyer's 8th grade dean had an addiction problem with it."
"Did he?" Raven gulped. "Er...the president said to click the schedule button and write down the girl's profession and stuff. Yeah. Everyone else had to step out for a moment. Yeah. I volunteered to hold down the fort. Yeah."
"Ah. Well. Shouldn't you be doing it then?" asked the ESM. His left eye was twitching as he looked at the computer screen. The letter Lourdes had been writing had finished while she had been babbling on about comic books.
"ACK!" Raven yelled. She flew across the room. Figuratively, of course. The mistress ending! NO! She'd never gotten it, but she'd heard of it in deep, shadowed, PM2 legend.
"Right-I'll just leave then." the ESM was almost shrieking in terror. He flew far, far away from the JL headquarters. Figuratively, of course.
Isomorphix slipped through the secret passageway with Scarlett Fyre and Midnight Chatter in close pursuit.
Why, oh WHY do things always end up this way? Isomorphix thought as he led the two JL members into an elaborately furnished room.
Two guards had stood diligently, but were quickly subdued by Miss Fyre. Isomorphix walked up to a pedestal where his katana was being kept. Taking the weapon, he quickly slipped it into his belt and motioned for Scarlett and Midnight to follow.
It seemed like an eternity since he met Phil on the rooftop of his "Antique" store. Unlike other underworld connections, Phil actually showed genuine like for Isomorphix.
His arms deal had closed just when Iso stopped by. And since he heard suspicious sounds outside, he went to investigate. It turned out an old friend had just showed up for some information.
Long story short, Isomorphix's path led him to Paper Kut's fortress along with Violet in short tow after figuring out he was being tailed for a second time. Violet was not amused, to say the least. Although information gathering had been relatively painless and Violet’s magic had come in handy, they wound up making a tad bit too much noise while looking for more connections.
Of course, if she hadn't sneezed... Isomorphix thought, placing the blame away from himself.
They had fought, but lost. Fortunately, the other JL members had shown up... not that Isomorphix couldn't have gotten out of it himself...
Isomorphix snuck past two more guards, who dropped shortly after Scarlett and Midnight had their share of them.
"Where are we going, exactly? I thought you said you knew a way out?" Scarlett asked.
"I have something to do, first." Isomorphix replied simply as he descended another dark stone stairwell, rubbing his singed wrists gingerly. The two fellow superheroes followed.
Finally, they reached the bottom of the stairwell, which was barely illuminated by Scarlett's makeshift torch.
Against the far wall, sitting on some hay with her hands securely chained to the grimy wall, sat Violet. She had some sort of magical restraining gloves over her hands to prevent any magic use. Looking up, recognition entered her eyes.
"Iso, you insensitive jerk! How could you leave me down here?? It took you long enough!"
Isomorphix let out what might have been confused with a sigh, and quickly released Violet with two quick swipes of his oriental sword. She got off and brushed herself off, but was looking like she wanted to slap Iso for a second time.
Midnight Chatter, as always, broke the silence: "We need to go help the others back upstairs with the battle!"
Everyone was now involved in the big battle. The Origami Warriors were closing in around them. They had the superheroes surrounded. It wasn’t looking good.
Midnight Chatter decided that this would be a good time to let the others in on his new power. He stepped out in front of the rest of heroes, and looked at the oncoming warriors. Everybody got silent. They thought he was just being stupid.
"Alright, I've had enough of this. Get AWAY!!!" As soon as he spoke the last word, about half of the Origami Warriors flew across the room and ripped into pieces.
Everybody looked at Midnight Chatter in confusion. They weren’t sure what just happened.
MC looked at the remaining Origami Warriors, they were still coming towards him, "Did you guys not get the hint? Well, how about NOW!!??!" There were no more Origami Warriors coming after them anymore. The room was clear. Including Paper Kut. He had run out of the room in the middle of the fight.
Midnight Chatter looked back at the rest of his group. "Well? What are we waiting for? Lets get him!"
Everybody snapped out of their haze and started moving to the door in the back of the room. All of a sudden, the door slammed shut, and there was a loud whirring.
"Uh, oh..." Pinzz said behind them, "I stepped on a paper crane...but it was Crystal's fault! She nudged me into it!"
Midnight Chatter looked at the wall, and realized it was closing in on them. He wasn’t too scared. It was just paper. But then spikes shot out and attached to the closing walls. If they stayed in there any longer, they would all look like big pincushions.
The spikes in the room were closing in on the heroes. They grouped closer together in the middle.
"Eric is touching me!" the Violet Princess complained.
Isomorphix pulled out some papers and a cell phone.
"What's that?" Pinzz asked.
"Yes, now is not exactly the time for phone calls." Studmuffin told him.
Everyone else started complaining and arguing over a plan to get out. Isomorphix ignored them and dialed the Justice League number.
Raven stared at the computer screen. "That wasn't supposed to happen! Nooo!! I don't want to be Prime Minister!"
The phone rang. She sighed and reached over and picked it up.
"Yeah, who is this?"
"Yeah, well, we seem to be in trouble here. I have an idea. Are you near the computer?"
"You could say that." she stared disappointedly at the screen.
"Good. Follow these instructions."
The other superheroes listened as Isomorphix gave Raven a series of commands for the computer.
"What's he doing?" Oreo Avenger whispered to Rosma, as the group crowded even closer together in the diminishing space.
She shrugged. "I have no idea."
"He printed those papers off of the computer earlier." Violet told them.
Suddenly, the walls stopped moving. Just in time, of course.
"Yes, that did it. Thanks." Isomorphix said into the cell phone, then hung up and put it away.
"Okay, what was that?" Pinzz demanded.
"Oh. I had the codes to break into Paper Kut's computer system and turn off this room. The door should be opening any---"
The door opened.
"Yes." he nodded.
"Okay." Pinzz said. "Let's split up. Any group that finds Paper Kut, capture him and let's get out of here. Take him back to the headquarters."
Everyone agreed and divided up to search the Kastle.
"Why us?" Rosma asked.
"Always happens to me for some reason, I might as well get used to it." Oreo Avenger told her. Then she called over her shoulder. "And if he's staring at our butts again, he'll regret it later!"
"Yes, get in front of us." Rosma said, slowing down.
X-Raytor caught up to them, wisely keeping his eyes level with their faces. "I wasn't looking. Well, not much anyway."
Oreo Avenger pushed him in front of her. "Okay, now keep walking."
All three walked down the hallway. They reached the end, turned right, and came face to face with a gun.
"Don't shoot!" X-Raytor jumped behind the girls.
"I have some Oreos!" Oreo Avenger yelled, pulling one out the bag.
"Robert?" Rosma questioned, staring.
The man holding the gun lowered it. "Margaret? What are you doing here?"
"Me? What are *you* doing here? And with a gun, too?"
He pulled her further down the hallway. They began talking in whispers.
"Her name is Margaret?" X-Raytor laughed. Oreo Avenger slapped him. "Ouch, sorry. So who's the guy?"
"That's Robert. She's in love with him, but she doesn't know it."
"And how do you know?"
"Because I used to be her best friend. That party where she got her powers? That was my birthday party."
Rosma and Robert apparently finished their conversation. He left, running down the hall in the opposite direction. Rosma walked back towards the other two.
"He's working for Paper Kut. His dad lost the family fortune in the stock market and he needed money. He wouldn't tell me anything else. The exit is this way."
She kept walking. They hurried to catch up. Outside, they met up with everyone else.
"What took you so long?" Pinzz asked.
Oreo Avenger glanced at Rosma. "We um...got lost."
Pinzz looked like she was debating whether to believe this or not. "Well then. I guess you didn't find Paper Kut. No one else did, either. He must have escaped the Kastle. We're all going back to headquarters."
"I don’t think I'm tired. I’m going for a walk." Crystal Freeze said. The others paid no attention as she left.
"She is a weirdo." Studmuffin said. There was a nodded agreement.