The Ultimate Playoffs (of Ultimate Destiny)
The Shadow Over Hogwarts: Part I
"Crikey, Hermione." Ron glanced nervously around the disheveled apartment. Empty bottles of butterbeer and dogeared copies of Nymph Fancier Quarterly lay strewn carelessly on the floor, along with a number of filthy black robes. "Snape won’t half kill us if he catches us in here."
Hermione picked through the clutter on their teacher’s coffee table. "Without the book, we’ll never find out what the ninth horcrux is. I tried the library, but Madam Pince says that this arsechapeau checked out the school’s only copy ages ago and never returned it. It’s got to be around here … aha!" She pulled a fat tome out from under a stack of overflowing ashtrays and dusted it off. Gold letters gleamed against a suspicious leather binding.
"The Necronomicon." Ron whistled as Hermione opened the book and began to read under her breath. "Well, bugger me. Look at this, Harry! Harry? You alright mate?"
Harry Potter had paused in the act of sifting nauseously through a stack of handwritten fanfiction, and was staring at the book in Hermione’s hands. He swallowed twice. "That … that symbol…" He pointed at the runic figure that occupied most of one brittle yellow page. "It looks…"
Ron followed his friend’s gaze. "That? The caption says it’s an Elder Sign. But … crumbs, Harry, that looks just like your other scar, the one on–"
"Quiet!" Hermione frowned in concentration. "I think I’ve got this figured out. To defeat Voldemort we’ve got to find some sort of golden cup, a goblet that belonged to the ancient wizard O’Brien. But the book doesn’t say where to find it, there’s just a bunch of gibberish." She proceeded to recite a series of strange words, syllables not intended for any human tongue.
Harry shifted uneasily. "Careful, Hermione." His face grew even paler than usual. "Are you sure you should be reading this stuff out loud?"
Ron put a comforting arm around Harry’s shoulders. "Not to worry, chum. Those can’t be magic words – they’re just guttural grunts and unearthly howls, not half-arsed fake Latin puns."
At last Hermione fell silent. She chewed her lip thoughtfully. "I’ve never seen this language written before but I think it must be Yuggmouth, the tongue of the great space-squids. No way to find out what it says, unless…" She brightened. "Harry! Have you got that gadget Dumbledore gave you when you first came to Hogwarts?"
"Of course! I conveniently forgot!" Harry reached into his robes and pulled out the Plot Device. He pointed it at the open book. "Rescuo narrativo!"
The transparent mechanism began to click and whirr lazily. Letters began to rearrange themselves, crawling about on the ancient book’s pages like ants. Hermione sighed. "If only he’d let us keep the Time Turner! We could literally have prevented every single bad thing that has ever–"
Suddenly, without warning, a convulsion in the fabric of reality sent the three young wizards sprawling to the floor. The room echoed with the sound of shadows tearing. The Necronomicon hung motionless in midair, the center of a rising storm of arcane energies.
Out in the courtyard, someone started to scream.
The Pokéfather: Part I
The old Don's eyes seemed lost in the shiny red-and-white ball that Sonny had placed upon his desk. At last he spoke. "Tom, what do you think?"
Tom Hagen inhaled deeply. When he spoke it was in the even tone of a consiglieri, but his pale Irish eyes betrayed his inner turmoil. "No. -- I say no."
"Pop!" Sonny surged to his feet. "We don’t have a choice, this is how things are now!"
Tom raised a hand. "Please, let me finish. Sonny’s right, Don Corleone, the world has changed. And the family has to change." He turned to Sonny. "But not like this. This is not our fight. We cannot make it our fight."
Sonny glowered. "Dammit, Tom! It’s already our fight!" He looked pleadingly at his father. "Tom doesn’t know what it’s like on the street, Pop! He doesn’t know what it’s doing to the business." Pulling a handful of snapshots from his shirt pocket, he dropped them one by one onto the desk. "Look! Here, this was Enzo the baker’s shop. You see that thing? That’s a Snorlax -- flattened the whole place. Our waterfront operation is being squeezed out by Squirtles. See this? Used to be the Flamingo Hotel. We’ve been running numbers outta the Flamingo for eight years, and last week a Charizard burns the whole place down." Sonny clasped his hands behind his head. "And it ain’t just the business, Pop. It’s the family. Johnny Fontane, your godson – the kid’s got golden pipes, but he can’t even get a job as stinking lounge singer anymore. You know who’s headlining at the Starlight now? A no good Jigglypuff."
Tom Hagen nodded. "He’s right about all that, Don Corleone. Everything he says is true. But if we get into this business now, where does it stop? Right now we have the unions and we have the gambling – it’s not everything, but it’s steady and it’ll still be here in ten years. What happens to all that if we move into this new line? There’s no half measures here, Sonny. If we play … we’ve gotta catch ‘em all."
"At least send a message, Pop!" Sonny pounded the desk with his fist. "These freaks are having some kind of tournament, and whoever wins that trophy will own the racket for the entire city. If we do nothing, the family looks weak! And what happens then, Tom? What happens to the unions, what happens to the politicians if everybody says the Corleone family has gone soft?"
The old Don stroked his moustache. Then he cleared his throat, and beckoned to the large man on the sofa who had sat in silence throughout the proceedings.
"Go, Luca Brasi. I choose you."
The Dirty Ocean: Part I
"This is not gonna work." Reuben lowered his binoculars. "I can’t watch. Danny’s never, ever gonna pull this off. The schmuck’s got his moustache on upside down!"
Rusty swallowed a mouthful of wiener schnitzel. "He’ll make it. Besides, we need a man on the inside or the plan falls apart, and the last time I tried to pass myself off as a Nazi … let’s just say the result wasn’t exactly glourious."
"What about me?" Reuben asked. "At least I know how to speak German. Danny thought that those guards we jumped at the border were saying ‘Hi, Hitler!’."
"You. Right." Rusty gnawed a pretzel. "You’re a wealthy Las Vegas investor who calls everybody ‘schmuck’. You’re wearing a gold Star of David, for crying out loud. You’re only here because team chemistry required that we have an outrageous Jewish stereotype."
Reuben shrugged. "Fair enough."
"Anyway," Rusty continued through a mouthful of strudel, "once Danny infiltrates the chateau and figures out where the Wehrmacht’s stashed the trophy, we spring into action. You’ll make moose calls to distract the guards, Frank and Virgil will form a human bridge so that Yen can cross the moat, Turk and Livingston will disguise themselves as decorative flower arrangements, and Saul and Linus will bicker hilariously. Basher will pretty much be an afterthought."
"Oy. So, a nice simple plan then." Again Reuben raised his binoculars. He watched as Danny Ocean – moustache hanging askew – gestured expressively at a bemused young Oberleutnant. "And what are those other guys going to do?"
Rusty looked up from his bratwurst. "Hmm? What other guys?"
"The American soldiers. See, here they come–"
After a moment Rusty took his hand away from Reuben’s mouth. From the relative safety of the ditch into which he had dragged them, they listened as the unexpected contingent of US servicemen – twelve of them, none of whom appeared to have bathed recently – marched toward the chateau that held the priceless object of the planned heist. As they marched, they chanted:
"One: we shoot some Nazis, ‘cause it’s fun! Two: interrogation will ensue! Three: find the tro-phee! Four: then we run right out the door! Five: this all assumes that any of us are still alive! Six: profit!"
Toy Story 007: Part I
"Run along and play now, Precious." Ernst Stavro Blofeld pushed the large white Turkish Angora cat off his lap and stood to address his captive. "So you see, Mr. Bond, I too believe that the children are the future." With a cold chuckle, the villain tweaked the nose of the manacled British secret agent. Then he turned to the bank of flickering monitors. "Thirty concealed cameras. Thirty perfectly ordinary American children. Tell me, double-oh-seven, what do you see?"
The prisoner strained vainly against his bonds as he spat out, "You mean besides a deviant with attention deficit disorder?"
"You see progress, Mr. Bond. You see victory. My victory." Blofeld polished his monocle on the front of his gray quasi-military tunic. "Each of these children recently moved to a new home – a new home in Arcadia Groves. Arcadia Groves is a planned community, Mr. Bond. And the plan is nothing less than … world domination."
Commander Bond sneered. With one shackled hand he stealthily undid the button of his left cuff. "You disappoint me." He looked around for the cat; to think, he had laughed when Q first explained the idea for a shirt tailored from smoked salmon. "Voyeurism and real estate development? These are hardly the glory days of SPECTRE’s villainy. If you can’t do any better than that, I…"
The prisoner’s words trailed off. The children on the monitors – all but one small boy – had abruptly stopped playing and now stood, motionless and upright, looking directly into the cameras.
Blofeld smiled. He produced a remote control. "Wave to Mr. Bond, children." With the press of a button, twenty-nine small hands waved to the captive agent.
"You magnificent bastard." Bond craned his neck; in the far corner of the evil mastermind’s lair, Precious was batting at a string that dangled from an air vent. "Heeeeeere pusspusspuss…"
"And this is just the beginning," Blofeld continued. He indicated the one child who had not reacted to the remote signal. "This is Andy. He will play a very special role. He has not yet received the cerebral implant, because his is destined to be the control brain – the brain that shall command my entire army of youngsters."
The prisoner, sweating in his fishy formalwear, made enticing kissy-noises as Blofeld continued his long and detailed monologue. "Here, kitty kitty! Nice kitty!" Precious glanced at him with withering scorn, then returned to her string. She hooked a claw through the ring at the string’s end, and tugged.
"And that is why," Blofeld concluded, "all I need now is the Larry O’Brien trophy, and my scheme will be complete! Nobody can stop me now! Not you, not … what’s that?" The villain frowned. "Did someone just say ‘there’s a snake in my boot’?"
to be continued...