Chapter 6: Fragment
Ominous banging sounded from the inside of the museum, shaking the earth outside. Bottles paced about nervously, debating whether he should stay and wait for Banjo and co. or to high tail it back to Showdown Town. As the minutes passed, the mole was beginning to fear the worst.
"C'mon, hurry!" Banjo urged, hauling the others out of Loggo's Bowl. The bear hopped into Shadow Puppet.
"...Bear need bigger vehicle, not enough room for Klungo and squirrely thing."
Kazooie folded her wings, "So, pile awkwardly on top of it!"
Finding no other options, Klungo and Conker did as they were told.
"STEP ON IT, BANJO!" Kazooie trilled over the sounds of blaring alarms and the incoming Gruntbot mob.
"I THINK I PREFERRED WHEN IT WAS QUIETER!" Conker joined in the yelling.
"MECHA PIDDLES MUST HAVE SET OFF THE ALARMS!" Banjo hollered back, firing a few grenade rounds at a blockade of Gruntbots.
Shadow Puppet rounded the lake carefully, passing the Mad Monster Mansion exhibit. As the Cloud Cuckooland display came into view, Banjo could have sworn he heard a dog.
"Kazooie? Do you hear something… barking?"
She paused to listen, "Yeah… hey, wasn't a dog being held here?"
Sure enough, a medium sized dog was trapped inside the Jinjo display case, pawing at the glass and yapping. It seemed to be wearing some sort of armor.
"What do we do?!" Conker shouted, looking back at the advancing throng of Grunty's mechanical minions.
"Sorry, little guy!" The breegull said, firing a grenade gun at the cell.
The dog emerged from the rubble, shaking itself over before running off.
Banjo began driving again, "Good job, Kazooie, you probably scared it!"
"No… I think he's just fine, Banjo." The bird motioned with her wing.
"…Rocket propelled feet?"
"I guess so…"
Avoiding various obstacles between him and salvation, Banjo pressed on, almost crashing into a freshly gaping hole.
"What the- where's Clanker?"
"Forget about him, look! There's the exit!"
A string of cackles from beyond the Gobi's Valley exhibit alerted the group to approaching Gruntbots. They were soon surrounded at the base of the ruined statue.
"Figures this always has to happen in these kinds of situations…" Kazooie grumbled.
Banjo tightened his grip on the controls, "Bottles, do you copy?"
"R-right here, Banjo, what is it?"
"Open the gate."
As he commanded, the gate creaked open.
"Hold on, guys!"
Banjo maneuvered Shadow Puppet so that it faced the statue, before throwing into reverse, hailing grenades and torpediles down on the unsuspecting foes. Amazingly, the group made it outside.
A rumbling sound shook the floor and, retrieving Bottles, Banjo rushed away from the site of the building as it sank into the ground, a memory chip miraculously flying out of the failing structure.
Kazooie collected the item, "Y'know, these things sure have a habit of appearing right when you want them to…"
"Well now, never expected that to happen…" Bottles broke the silence, adjusting his signature glasses.
"Never expected to lose Pikelet either…" Banjo said solemnly.
"Wait a minute," Bottles expression was one of disbelief, "You're not saying he's…?!"
"Dead? Not this piece of pork…"
Banjo felt himself freeze, as a voice he felt sure he'd never hear again sounded behind him. They turned to see the rather mangled form of Pikelet, brushing dirt and dust off himself.
"Don't underestimate a member of the force, punk," He winked.
"Yaaaaaaaaay…" Kazooie added unenthusiastically while Klungo and Bottles cheered. Conker just nodded, although a smile seemed to spread across his face.
"So, that giant, metal muncher wasn't inside the prison at all…" the bird said, interrupting the moment, "Care to explain why?"
Bottles stopped his cheering for a moment, fixing his glasses again, "Well, given you guys had all the cameras disabled, I thought it the opportune moment to remove Clanker from that wretched place because, unlike George and Mildred there, he was very much sentient."
"I noticed that, and to be honest, I felt a little sad to see him like that…" Banjo spoke.
"I think we all did, but anyways, I recruited Mumbo and Humba for the job of removing his pieces. I think they set him adrift in the Seaside."
"Sure it's spacious enough for him? He seems… bigger since we've seen him last…"
"I should hope so; I assumed they knew what they were doing…"
"Well you know what they say about assuming…"
"Let's keep it clean, Kazooie…"
The witch watched as Banjo and co. emerged from the portal to Banjoland.
"The stupid bear wins again! His successes are really quite inane!"
Gruntilda paced the Factory's penthouse agitatedly, ready to lash out at anything without question. She did a double take at one surveillance image in particular. Approaching the output screen for a better look, Grunty eyed her feline assistant, Piddles, together with a blue-haired cat.
"Now what could this be that I'm viewing? Piddles better know what she's doing!"
"So I can guarantee you won't try to steal something?" TT joked, opening the door for his guest.
"Not like there's anything of value in here anyway…" Piddles thought to herself, gazing around the house.
"It's not much right now; call it a work in progress," he said, folding his arms in content.
Not much indeed. The living room only consisted of a bookcase, sofa, television set, and coffee table. She could see a small staircase leading up in a corner of the house, along with two other rooms branching off of the main one in which she assumed to be a bathroom and kitchen.
"No it's fine, it's…cute," the cat chose her words carefully.
There was a quiet moment between the two before TT headed towards one of the other rooms, "Well, have a seat I guess. Want anything to drink?"
"No, I'm fine, thanks."
He nodded, before disappearing into the other room.
Piddles sat herself down on the couch, running a hand over the empty cushion.
Switching positions, she placed an elbow on the armrest, propping her head up with a hand. She glanced over towards the bookcase quickly, a photo catching her attention. Getting up, she meandered towards the bookshelf, taking the picture frame in her hands.
Two young boys were in the photo: a much younger Trophy Thomas, and a tiger boy. The tiger cub had his arms folded on the other child's head, pushing him down and smiling victoriously while the other scowled.
"Cute kid," Piddles spoke before hearing the kitchen door open, TT emerging with a can of Mepsi Pax.
"Who's this?" She asked, showing him the photo.
"Oh, that's me."
"No, the other one."
He sighed, placing the frame face down on the shelf, "That's… Timber. He's… my cousin."
"You embarrassed or something? It's a cute picture, leave it up!" Piddles set the photo upright again.
"I'm not too fond of my cousin," TT said, his expression growing serious.
"Then why do you have this photo then?"
"To remind me of what I have to do…" He said before sitting on the couch.
"What's that supposed to mean?" The girl thought to herself before deciding to change the subject. She sat next to him.
"So, isn't your cousin apart of some resistance?"
TT looked at her curiously, "What do you know about the resistance?"
"Nothing, just a few small things I've heard around town," she said, smirking, "I honestly don't know much about it."
Thomas wasn't sure if the cat was lying or not, he had humored her so far, but wasn't entirely sure if he should trust her with information regarding the opposition. If she was still in league with Grunty, things could be problematic.
"Will you tell me?"
"I don't think I should-"
"…You don't trust me?"
She crawled over to his side of couch, almost suggestively at first, placing her hands on his shoulders. "Look, I can assure you I'm not in cahoots with that…wench… anymore. It was only because L.O.G. said…" She trailed off. Despite the lies, it felt… good to say what she did.
"Please? I want to help too." She made her most convincing "sincerity" face, inching a bit closer.
The cheetah noticed he was running out of room to scoot away to; she'd be on top of him if he let her come any closer. Removing her arms from his shoulders and pushing her away a bit, he finally capitulated.
"Alright, I'll tell you," he said, "Just stay over there."
Piddles grinned, noticing the strong blush on his face. She didn't know why exactly, but ever since she'd been transformed, getting males to do what she wanted had become surprisingly easy. She was all ears as TT began unfolding the tale of the illustrious Resistance.
Pipsy sat outside Mumbo's Motors, waiting for any sign of Bumper's safe return from the Docks.
"He should be back right now," she said to herself, wondering about his extended absence, "Maybe they got a last minute shipment…"
"Something troubles you?"
The mouse girl noted the Lord of Games silently floating next to her.
"It's Bumper," she explained. "He's-"
"The fellow who brought me out of that watery predicament, correct?"
"Yes, that's him," she smiled although it quickly faded, "He should have returned by now, I hope nothing's happened to him…"
This thought, once planted in her mind, quickly snowballed into other possibilities: "What if he was found out? What if he was captured? What if… he's hurt?"
She stood abruptly, "I'm going after him." With her mind made up, Pipsy was about to leave when the hovering deity placed himself in front of her path.
"Not by yourself."
He seemed hesitant to respond at first, almost confused as to why he blocked her way in the first place, "I'm not sure. It's just- it doesn't feel right to let you go alone…"
Pipsy was just as confused as L.O.G. was at this new development, "Um, okay you can come if you want to. I'm only heading for the Docks though…"
The deity nodded a "thank you" before following her to the harbor.
As she walked, a strange sound gradually grew louder, eventually overtaking any other sounds in the area. Splashing and squealing reminiscent of a pig, sounded from the small canal travelling through the area.
"Hello? Is someone there; are you alright?" Pipsy called out, before an unusual sight caught her attention. An animal was flopping around in the canal bed, squealing frantically. Pipsy would have identified the creature as a pig if not for the pair of wings protruding awkwardly from its back. She cautiously approached it, taking extra care not to frighten it anymore as she reached pick it up, getting spattered with water from a flailing wing. She noted its light weight as she set it down gently. The creature calmed itself immediately.
"I believe that's a Pigxie…" L.O.G. spoke, hovering about the creature.
"I- I think you're right!"
The Piñata had distorted facial features; one eye was larger than the other, and its snout was crooked. Its mouth was positioned almost on the side of its face, and its wings were disproportionate. A tic would wrack its body, mainly its head repeatedly. One leg was malformed, lending the animal a limp. Despite this, it seemed healthy and in relative comfort albeit wet.
The Pigxie, after a few moments of silence, quickly began wailing again, gesturing to them.
"What's it… doing?" Pipsy asked, watching the Piñata's odd behavior.
"I… think it's trying to show us something…"
The Pigxie half flew, half limped its way along the canal, making much noise the entire way.
"Where is it taking us?" Pipsy questioned aloud.
As the harbor came into view, the girl felt a vise on her heart as she saw a red-tint to the water, along with the pallid, sodden form of her once strong friend lying motionless on the banking.
Banjo yawned, stretching his arms over his head, "Well I'm beat. What about you, Kazooie?"
"It's not that late, Banjo. Why don't we go clubbing or something? I hear the Embo Night Spot is pretty good."
"I'm up for that," Conker agreed.
"How could you even think of dancing with your leg the way it is?"
"Dancing? I'd be sitting down having a pint," the squirrel replied.
"Kids…" Pikelet huffed, feeling a bit left out since Bottles had returned to his makeshift hovel across the square, and Klungo had gone back to the pier.
"Hurry up!" A Black Jinjo piped up as it made its way across the Town Square.
"Slow down!" The trailing, Pink Jinjo puffed, jogging after, "It's not like my family is going anywhere!"
"Yeah, but I'd like to get there some night," the other replied, "Y'know like, before we're caught by the police…"
"You don't have to worry about that, I'd protect you!"
"Hah! You can't even protect yourself…"
Banjo eyed a pair of Jinjos crossing over from the Theatre District.
"Is that… two Jinjos not in peril?"
"You're not a very good liar Banjo, haven't we established that?" Kazooie mumbled from inside the backpack.
"I'm not lying! Come out and see for yourself!"
Kazooie grumbled a bit, before emerging from the pack. To her surprise there were two Jinjos seemingly not in some sort of predicament not too far away.
"I think we have a milestone…"
"Hey! Do you guys know where the Pink Jinjo House is?" The Black Jinjo called.
"Um, yeah it's right out on the lake," Banjo replied, not at all surprised that the Jinjos needed help after all.
"I probably shouldn't be swimming…"
"Hey, do you have a small boat or something that we can take over there?" The Pink Jinjo asked hopefully.
"We have a floating trolley."
"That works too," one answered, "Can you help us?"
"What is a Banjo-Kazooie story without obligatory Jinjo helping?" Kazooie asked.
Leaving Pikelet and Conker to return to Mumbo's Motors for the night, the Jinjos hopped into the tray of the trolley, Banjo taking to the driver's seat and proceeding to the lake. Ferrying across the lake and reaching the small islet, the two Jinjos disembarked.
"Thanks again for your help!"
"No problem…" Banjo paused, something suddenly dawning on him: did Jinjos beside King Jingaling have names? Or genders even? Curiosity hit the bear full force,
"Do you have names?"
The Jinjos gave each other quizzical looks, before turning back to the duo.
"I'm Senja, and this is Jenser."
"Well it's nice to meet you two then."
"Is there anything else we can do?"
"Badger much unwell, need much time to recover."
Voices, quiet at first, but progressively growing louder; would they keep it down? He already had a splitting headache.
Bumper placed his left hand to his forehead with some difficulty, his arm feeling like a lead weight. He recognized the brick interior of Mumbo's Motors immediately. As he tried to sit up, a sharp pain lanced through his chest and shoulder. He instinctively grasped his shoulder, gritting his teeth and wincing. When the pain subsided, it occurred to him that he was touching some sort of fabric.
Something else dawned on him as well: his arm, where was his right arm?
The badger began frantically feeling around his shoulder, grimacing with every touch, praying it was some sort of twisted dream.
"C'mon mate, wake up, j-jus' wake up already!" His mind was reeling, his heart threatening to dislodge itself from his chest; his body violently quivered.
"Bumper! Snap out of it!" Pipsy exclaimed, shaking his left shoulder roughly.
A little panicked himself, and not knowing quite what else to do, Mumbo took matters into his owns hands. Producing his wand from some unseen area, the shaman gave the traumatized Bumper a quick whack on the head.
Pipsy was taken aback by this motion, however it seemed to work. She gave Mumbo a questioning look.
"Clever Shaman usually save for when silly mole loose it, but effective when others do too," Mumbo answered, letting the two be.
"Thank you…" Pipsy called, before turning back to her stricken friend.
"Are you okay?"
She only nodded before hastily and silently leaving herself.
Bumper flopped back down on the makeshift bed (a bench from outside), eyeing the cloth covering his shoulder. It was very soft, purple in color and with yellow bordering. He placed his remaining hand to his forehead again, before lifting it again to see it. Left; he'd have to learn to write again. Heaving a sigh, he tried to get some rest.
Pipsy sat on a worn out bench outside of Mumbo's Motors, contemplating on what to do next. It had been several hours since she'd left Bumper to himself. What was he thinking right now? Should she be with him now instead of outside? Was he okay?
She scoffed at the last though, "'Is he okay'… someone who loses their arm isn't okay…" As much as she wanted to be with him during this time, she was scared to confront him, what if he yelled again? He'd… never yelled like that at her before.
"Has he awoken?"
Broken out of her reverie, the startled girl met the gaze of her creator, "Yes, but… he wants to be… alone… for now."
"Understandable," L.O.G. spoke, trying to get used to the newfound hole in his robe.
Little did they know that the tail end of a certain Pigxie had just disappeared into the shop.
The purple Piñata fumbled along in the dark, quietly wishing it was brighter. As luck should have it, his wing clipped something on the shelf, sending it and its contents crashing on top of him.
Bumper opened his eyes immediately upon hearing muffled squealing and clanging noises, now what?
"Oi, who's there?" The badger reached for a spotlight on the floor, switched it on, and searched the surrounding area before coming across a purple and now green creature with a bucket on its head.
The Piñata eventually knocked the paint can loose, sitting on the floor and starring at him. It twitched a little.
"'Ey, come over 'ere…"
The Pigxie did as it was told, waddling over to him as he lay on the bed.
Bumper got a better look at the creature now, watching its body convulse. He noticed the deformed face and limp. He set the light down.
"So you're a… Pigxie, right?" He asked, petting the pig.
"Ain't these things abandoned or attacked at birth?" He thought to himself.
As he stroked it, it seemed to ease up a bit, from what he could see, it looked like it was smiling.
"And 'ere 'e is 'appy as a clam…"
"Y'know, it could 'ave been worse," he spoke softly, "And besides, it's no great loss. I've still got another…" He let out a small chuckle, albeit half hearted.
He scratched the little creature behind the ears to its delight,
"Thanks little guy."
"You seem fatigued, you should turn in for the night," L.O.G. spoke.
"I'm fine, honestly…"
"You can't hide out here forever you know…"
"I think you're right there," the mouse girl sighed, stretching before reluctantly leading the way inside, flicking on the lights.
"What happened in here?"
Bumper looked up at them, a smile appearing on his face, "Little guy 'ad an accident." He gestured to the fallen paint can.
Pipsy was dumbstruck; as happy as she was to see him in good spirits, she couldn't help but wonder what had caused his change of heart.
"Sorry for snappin' at you, Pips, you okay?"
"Y-yeah," although she didn't quite show it, the mouse was quite relieved at his words.
"'Ey, I didn't ask you earlier… do you know if th' others made it outta there alright?"
Letting out a small sigh, Bumper recounted the tale of the surprise raid on the Docks, what he could remember of it anyway.
"I've yet to hear of any other casualties besides your own," L.O.G. began, "And, I'm sorry this happened to you…"
"It ain't your fault; I should be thanking you," he paused, "Besides, it's better to have lost a limb than a life, right?"
There was silence between the three of them, sans an occasional snore from a sleeping Ed.
"Um…," Bumper placed his only hand to his shoulder, "Sorry about your cloak…"
"It hasn't held up well anyways," The monitor replied, noting the scratch marks, holes, tears, and frayed edges of the cloak as well as what remained of the collar decoration, "It's just rubbish now."
"Shouldn't you say that before entering?"
"Just shut up and sit down."
The group looked up to find Banjo, Kazooie, Pikelet, and Conker standing in the entryway of the auto shop.
"L.O.G.! We've got your-" Banjo paused, noticing a bloody cloth covering Bumper's right shoulder.
"Bumper?! What happened to you?"
As the badger recapped his story for them all, Conker couldn't help but gape at the site of two more people he thought he'd never see again. First Banjo, now Pipsy and Bumper, who would he run into next?
He felt out of place, finding himself looking between Bumper, Pipsy, and Banjo. Banjo didn't look any different than he did years ago, other than a deeper voice, a larger build, and with Kazooie occupying his signature backpack.
The most obvious change in Bumper was his now crippled state, but otherwise he seemed to be the same as before.
Then there was Pipsy.
She sat on the floor with the sleeping Pigxie in her lap. Her hair was a bit longer, her red, polka-dotted bow was much larger, and at the back of her head rather than on top. One thing that remained consistent however, was the sweet aura that he remembered her for.
For a moment, he almost felt ashamed for having changed so much. Would they even recognize him?
He swore quietly as his injured leg started acting up again.
"Perfect timing," he seethed, trying not to draw attention to himself as he shifted his weight to his good leg.
"Oh no…" The area around the injury was turning red, why now of all times?
Deciding to slip away and take care of it himself, Conker tried his best to limp away discreetly, figuring the others would be too engrossed in Bumper's story to pay attention to what he was doing.
He was wrong however, as Pipsy, who had heard the story not long before, decided to investigate upon seeing the squirrel leave suddenly. Placing Ed on the floor gently, she pursued the stranger.
Conker hobbled outside, praying he hadn't been seen by anybody.
"Please no one see me, please no one see me, please no one see-"
"Damn it," he swore, hearing the last voice he wanted to hear. He turned to meet his pursuer.
"W-what do you want?" He asked, accidently putting weight on his bad leg before quickly switching to the other one. He suddenly wished he hadn't.
"You're… standing kinda funny, are you okay?"
"Y-yeah," he lied, another wave of pain threatening to break the fake smile he had put on his face.
"What's that stain on your pant leg?" The mouse girl was growing suspicious.
"Uh-um... it's a… I uh, spilt something there err… earlier. I- hey!"
Pipsy had already flipped his pant leg, gasping at the injury underneath.
"What happened? Why would you hide something like this? It's all burnt and bleeding…"
"It's –ow- not that big of a deal," He replied, "Now can you stop touching it?"
"Not a big deal? This is...," she paused, "Y'know, you remind me of someone…"
Conker raised an eyebrow.
"Stupid kid fell out of his Hovercraft in Boulder Canyon, got hit in the head with a spinning log, and when he came to, insisted it wasn't a problem."
He laughed, "Yeah, and you remind me of the girl who fussed over me when it happened."
Pipsy's gave him a questioning look.
"Nice to see you again, Pipsy."
Realization hit her full force as she was at a near loss of words.
"Oh-oh my God."
The two embraced.
His memories slowly returned to him, an image of a grand Coliseum floated through L.O.G.'s mind.
"I see… a golden stadium. Many fine activities take place here…"
"Another job well done, guys." Banjo said in contentment, folding his arms.
"So we can assume that one of the Jiggoseum doors has opened up on the Docks?" Pikelet asked, new to this whole thing.
"Yup, but that's an adventure for tomorrow. I'm turning in, good night everybody." Banjo concluded, retrieving his backpack and rolling out a mat to sleep on."Sounds good," The officer stretched, "I could use about eighty winks tonight."
"So it's off to the Jiggoseum tomorrow then?" The badger asked.
Banjo stopped for a moment, "I'm not sure about you, Bumper, you should probably stay here, sorry."
Bumper felt his heart sink. He knew the bear was right, but not being able to do anything? With a heavy heart, the badger lay down, hearing several assorted "Good Night!"s before darkness and silence was all that encased the room.
"So… that's it?"
The two cats sat in silence for a moment.
"Uh…," Thomas was growing uncomfortable, "Anything good on TV?"
Reaching for the remote, he clicked on the TV, the screen flickering to reveal a badly drawn and animated stickman in red underwear dancing.
"Is this one of those late night adult TV shows?"
"It's the Mr. Pants Hour; I don't know what the point of it is though…"
"Anything else on?" Piddles asked, snatching the remote from TT.
"And now, back to The Sabre Wulf Hunter," the speakers sounded as the screen showed a little old man in a khaki uniform behind some bushes.
"My search for the Sabre Wulf has brought me to picturesque Piñata Island," the man narrated, "It's the middle of mating season for the elusive Cocoadile. Cocoadiles refuse to mate until they have nineteen pinometers of water to swim in, and have eaten both a Quackberry and a Sweetooth."
The man turned to the camera, "Look, look, look, over there!" He gestured through the bushes, "I think one of them is about to initiate the romance dance!"
The camera zoomed in on one of the Cocoadiles as it stood on its tail, shaking its head up and down vigorously.
"Yes, yes! There is goes!" He said excitedly as the other Piñata leapt onto its mate's back, joining in on the head movement.
"Unfortunately, that's all the time we have for today, but tune in next week for another exciting episode of The Sabre Wulf Hunter, as I continue my futile search for the beast, experiencing the mating rituals of Tigermisus and Kitty floss in the process. Splendiferous!"
The two sat in awe at what they just witnessed before being confronted with the credits.
"The Sabre Wulf Hunter is brought to you in part by Ma Soupswill's Super Soups, and Fiddlesworth Dunfiddlin: 'Pet my Piglet!'"
"Alright, that's enough TV for tonight…" the cheetah concluded, wishing he hadn't touched the remote in the first place.
"Yeah… Cocoadiles… mating…," Piddles fidgeted in her seat, "Are they even allowed to show that?"
"It's late night TV, so I guess they can…"
More silence between them.
"It's late, I need to go," The cat girl said, finality in her voice.
She had to lose him, "Mumbo's. See you later."
TT was a bit confused at her sudden will to leave, "Want me to walk you?"
"It's fine, it's not far from here."
"Yeah, I'll be okay."
TT was quiet for a moment, "Alright, well, if you insist," he paused, "Let me walk you to the door at least…"
He followed her to the door, hesitantly opening it for his guest.
Piddles gave him a small smile before stepping outside.
That same sensation he had felt at the club the other night enveloped him as he watched her leave. He had to say something.
Piddles stopped in her tracks, somewhat surprised to still see him standing in the doorway.
He only nodded as he shut the door. TT stood for a moment, looking over the main room again.
It felt empty.
Outside, Piddles stared at the house before reminding herself of her objective. Making sure no one was watching, and that TT was definitely gone, the cat rushed over to the bridge. She hopped the small fencing, letting her legs dangle over the edge before producing a communicator.
Pressing a few buttons, the machine flew out of her grasp, a projection of Gruntilda floating before her.
"Your actions have my concentration, have you uncovered information?"
"It took a little talking but I managed to find out where the base of The Resistance is."
"Your efforts have only kept me waiting, but what you've found; start relating!" The witch rubbed her hands together in anticipation.
"My… source tells me that the majority of the Resistance is inexperienced. The optimal time to attack would be before they get their act together."
Feeling it was time to turn in for the night as well, Thomas headed upstairs, flopping onto his bed and turning out the lights. Facing the window, he noticed a feline-like figure perched on the bridge, a white object seemingly floating in front of them.
"Piddles? I thought she went back to Mumbo's…"
Suspicions getting the better of him, he raced downstairs, throwing open the front door and almost tripping as he ran out. His own eagerness to get to her surprised him.
The cat winced as the hag's cackle was distorted eerily by the communicator.
"Excellent work, you've served me well, we'll bust them good and give them-"
A strident honk from a nearby police vehicle caused the girl to jump, the shock making her topple off the bridge and into the lake below.
The weasel officer only laughed as he continued his patrol.
At the base of the bridge, the cheetah heard a splashing sound, looking up to find that the figure had disappeared from the edge, a patrol car driving away slowly.
Fearing the worst, he reached the apex of the bridge, looking over into the lake below and making out a vague pink shape.
What if she couldn't swim?
Taking a breath, TT dove in after her, hoping he wasn't too late. The two surfaced a few moments later.
The girl coughed, clearing water from her lungs as she realized that the communicator was nowhere to be found. She felt someone's arms around her waist as a familiar voice filled her ears.
"Are you okay?"
"TT? What are you-" she spat, trying to escape his grasp and look for the communicator at the same time.
"Answer me. Are you okay?"
She stopped, his forcefulness gave her mixed feelings as she nodded, feeling him heave a sigh of relief.
"That's good," he paused, his earlier qualms rising again, "Hey wait a minute, what are you doing here? Why aren't you at Mumbo's?"
She was caught.
"You can let go now."
He felt his face turn red as he quickly removed his arms from around her.
"Um…sorry. I uh," he cleared his throat, "didn't want you… drifting away on me…" His blush only increased upon realizing his choice of words.
The phrasing didn't escape Piddles either as she tried to conceal her own color, eyes widening.
Bumper had had enough of trying to get to sleep. Although his body was tired, his mind was racing far too fast to allow him rest. One thought in particular shouted at him louder than the others combined.
He had to try.
Sitting up with less difficulty than before, the badger tried to locate Banjo's backpack among the room's sleeping occupants.
Stumbling upon his friend, Bumper very carefully removed the backpack, so as not to wake the bear, or the pack's tenant. He retreated into the dark, pushing open the main entrance door as quietly as he could, wincing as the door creaked.
No one stirred.
The badger made his way to the back of the auto shop, still hearing snores emanating from the bag.
He set the bag down, observing the surrounding area to be sure no one was watching.
Bumper whirled around just in time to be greeted with a face full of egg yolk à la Kazooie.
"Alright, who are you?!"
"Pipe down already, will y'? It's only me."
"Sorry, I didn't recognize the one-armed wonder…"
That hit him; hard.
"Says the bird that learned to fly from a mole," he retorted, a bitter tone in his voice.
Kazooie's eye twitched.
"And who learned to hatch eggs from a mole."
"I get it."
The bird stepped out of the backpack, "So, what do you want? It's the middle of the night!"
Bumper was quiet for a moment, beginning to lose his nerve as she glared at him.
It was now or never. Swallowing his uncertainties, he decided to let it out.
"Will you build me an arm?"
Not the reaction he was hoping, but one he was expecting. He motioned for her to hush.
"Lemme explain," He said quickly, "I don't… want t' be useless; I want t' fight! I-"
"Oh shut up, you've said enough."
He was staggered at how fast she'd come to a conclusion.
"Look…" she began, her voice taking an unusually serious tone, "I've been in your place. Banjo and I knew full well… that our last outing was not intended to be a two-player game. L.O.G. clipped my wings and handed me a wrench to make me feel useful… but the truth is: Banjo can hold a stick and make things with it himself, he didn't need me…"
And he thought his case was depressing?
"Well, LCD Brain will be regretting what he did when he remembers what he did. I love karma." The bird said contently.
"I guess so…" Bumper replied, not sure of what else to say on the matter.
Things were still for a moment.
"You've got a mechanic!"
Kazooie offered her right wing to shake on it, noticing Bumper staring awkwardly at her, before giving him her left wing instead.
"Funny, I don't think I've seen this side of you before…"
"That's why I need you to keep this secret; I have a reputation to keep."
As the two left for the garage, Kazooie felt the need to let Bumper know one more thing.
"And just incase it becomes obvious to others what I'm doing," she began," I'm painting your arm pink."
"Figures there has t' be a catch…" the badger thought, finally feeling he could rest easy as the two made their way back into the shop.
Conker catapulted into an upright position as earsplitting clanking and the sound of a horn met his ears. He whirled around to see none other than Kazooie slapping a pot with a wooden spoon, the horn clenched in her beak.
"WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?! IT'S FIVE-THIRTY IN THE MORNING!"
The bird paused for a moment as others began to rouse from their slumber, "I couldn't think of anything clever to say, so I thought this would be better. Anyways, WAKE UP!" She proceeded in banging her makeshift drum again.
"Alright I get it, just get that thing out of my face!" The squirrel groaned, slamming his pillow over his head.
"Was that really necessary?" Pipsy asked groggily, still covering her ears.
The ruckus hadn't woken up everyone however, as evident by Banjo's thunderous snoring from his corner of the shop.
Kazooie rolled her eyes, approaching her sleeping partner. She smacked the pot a few times close to his head. No response. She spat out the horn and tried squawking an inch away from his ear. Again, the bear remained still.
It was then that she noticed two yellow objects buried inside the bear's ears.
"Earplugs… he's caught on…" She'd have to try another tactic.
Making a motion with her feathers, the breegull pinched Banjo's nose.
After a few seconds, Banjo came to rather quickly, gasping for breath before glaring at Kazooie.
"Nice try, Banjo," Kazooie spoke, plucking out his earplugs.
"Is everyone ready?" The bear asked, taking his seat on the trolley.
Conker and Pipsy, nodded in unison. The mouse raised a hand to speak, "This is coming out of Left Field, but whatever happened to that one cat girl, and TT?"
"Piddles? Come to think of it, I haven't seen her, or TT for some time," he looked to Kazooie, "Think we should check on them?"
"Do we have to? I liked the idea of the two of them dropping off the face of the planet…" the bird complained.
"I'm not bothered by O.K.'s absence," Banjo explained, "Piddles is the one I'm worried about. What if she's up to something?"
"Like what? Leaving floaters in problematic areas? C'mon Banjo, she's hardly a threat!"
The bear reluctantly agreed, "Even so, I still don't trust her. Let's take a look just to be safe…"
The cheetah stirred slightly, the sound of purring catching his ear. He rolled over, eyes snapping open upon seeing the waking form of Piddles next to him.
She too joined in on the scream, startled by both the noise and the fact that he was even next to her. The two leaped away from each other.
"Wha-what, what happened?!" TT instigated, clutching his chest.
"I don't know, you tell me," Piddles shot back, "What are we doing outside?!"
Thomas cocked an eyebrow before seeing that they were in fact, outdoors, in the same spot by the bridge.
"I think we both fell asleep…"
"That better be all that happened…" She said, making a face.
Thomas paused for a moment, "And what's that all about?"
"What's what all about?"
"That face, is that supposed to mean something? Are you implying what I think you are?" He snapped.
Piddles caught on, "And what if that is what I'm trying to imply, huh? What are you gonna do about it?" She folded her arms neatly, smirking playfully as she paced around him.
Before they could go any further, they were interrupted by Banjo pulling up in the trolley.
"There you are, we were wondering where you two had made off to," Banjo declared.
"WE DIDN'T MAKE ANYTHING!" The two cats stated vehemently, gaining quite a few stares and a snicker out of Conker.
"That was… oddly specific…" Kazooie noted.
"So we're gonna…uh," Banjo chose his words carefully, trying not to alert Piddles to their destination, "'Go fishing by the Docks'…yeah…anyways, TT, are you coming with us?"
The cheetah looked confused.
"We're going to the Jiggoseum," Kazooie corrected.
Banjo glowered at her, "Good job, Kazooie."
"Banjo, it's fine. Who cares if Grunty knows where the Resistance is located, we can take her."
"But what about the others-" he began before having a wing pressed to his mouth.
"What he means is: are you two interested in a little memory chip hunting?"
It didn't matter how many times he had seen it, the Jiggoseum never ceased to amaze Banjo. A golden stadium adorned with fountains, statues, and sunlight lay before them, dedicated to sporting events of many varieties. A windowed dome sheltered the coliseum from everything but the rays of light that seeped in through its glass.
Was it a wonder that the Jiggoseum was so popular?
The trolley had materialized on the ski jump protruding from the stadium itself, lending a view to all that lay below. Seeing some sort commotion surrounding the massive dart board, Banjo urged the trolley to the foot of the ramp for a closer look. Two figures stood atop the raised platform, both wielding some sort of object as the crowd gathered.
"What are they doing, Banjo? I can't see!" Kazooie trilled.
The bear rubbed his chin in thought, "See if there's a Spec-O-Spy part in my backpack…"
The breegull dove into the pack, retrieving an object in Bottles' likeness from within. Receiving the item, Banjo set it free into the air, controlling it with a remote control and viewing its display on a separate monitor. He maneuvered the camera around the improvised arena, eyeing the two combatants.
On one side of the field was a figure both Banjo and Kazooie recognized quite well. Captain Blubber stood with rusty cutlass in hand, appearing quite collected and amused. On the other side of the showground was a lithe tiger, equipped with a rapier.
"Is that… Timber?"
"What are they saying, I can't hear!"
The cat engaged his challenger with a quick flick of his sword hand.
Blubber lowered his blade in confusion, "Ain't ther' two o' them?"
The two quickly sprung into action, brandishing their blades and parrying each other's blows.
"Blubberguts is…actually good at this…"
"Perhaps we underestimated him?"
"I don't think so."
Regardless of how many times Timber ducked, rolled, and attacked, his advances were repeatedly blocked and evaded by the salty sea hippo. The Captain stood firm, occasionally making a move of his own; only to make more contact with air than sword.
Timber continued his speedy pursuit, pulling off elaborate flips and turns to meet Blubber's rather simple sword swipes. The tiger eventually leapt away from his adversary, trying to catch his breath. The hippo took his chance, breaking into a short run and bumping his foe with his girth. The force knocked Timber back, causing him to lose his weapon as Blubber held his own above him.
"T'was a good fight ther', matey," He spoke, sheathing his trusty cutlass, and replacing it with an extended hand instead.
Timber grasped it as he felt himself being hauled up.
"Now all that Flibbit flouncin' is fine in short bursts," The Captain began, "But it'll getcha no where if y' tire yerself out before you've even crossed blades, mate!"
"I'll remember that," Timber replied, shaking on it.
The cat could make out several forms -only two of which he recognized- driving towards him in what appeared to be a crude shopping trolley.
Pipsy quickly leapt out of the tray, much to the bewilderment of Conker, wrapping her arms around Timber.
"Alright, who's this?"
"You forgot about Timber?" The bear asked.
"…Timber?" Conker got himself a better look at the tiger, noticing the familiar blue baseball cap with the odd 'R' emblazoned on it.
Conker did a double take upon hearing the call, seeing a frantic grey squirrel rushing his way toward him. The squirrel saw only one Chevron adorning his tattered, unkempt uniform.
That could only mean one thing.
"Garrison…" Conker shook his head, of all the people that could have died in his Section, why did Garrison have to live?
The chipper squirrel stopped short of his leader, shaking all over in excitement, "I'm so happy to see you okay, sir… Sir? Are you okay?"
"Fine, I've just suddenly acquired a splitting headache…" the Corporal rubbed his temples agitatedly, deciding to see the remaining members of his group.
Thankfully, his second-in-command, Lance-Corporal Meadow Brooks, had survived, along with sharpshooter, Private Keith Schrader. At least his sanity would remain somewhat intact.
"It's been too long, I've missed you," Timber spoke, letting the girl go.
"Me too…" Pipsy replied.
Something struck Timber as he brought his attention to Pipsy's companions: shouldn't Bumper be with them?
"Where's Bumper? Is he still working the docks?"
Pipsy said nothing as a solemn look materialized on her face.
"What? What happened?"
She quickly explained the situation.
"If only we'd been prepared sooner…we might have prevented this…"
"There's nothing we can do about it now," the mouse assured, placing a comforting hand on the tiger's shoulder, "Besides, he seems alright now…"
Timber detected the uncertainty in her voice.
"He doesn't want anyone to worry about him. Then again, he always did place everyone else before himself…" the cat thought to himself, "idiot."
Timber perked up as something occurred to him.
"Hey, I've got a little surprise for you…"
Pipsy cocked an eyebrow, what would he have for her? He gestured for her to follow as he approached two people, one an elderly man who was wheel-chair bound, the other, a young woman. Sitting quite comfortably with the man was a Fudgehog.
"Ferdinand!" The girl scooped the Piñata up, holding him close.
"I figured you might have been lonely hanging around the Theatre District, so I had him brought here."
"Timber, you didn't have to do that…" Pipsy answered, holding her old friend. She had grown up with the Fudgehog, caring for him ever since he was just an egg, "But, thank you."
He nodded before addressing the man, "I can't thank you enough for doing this, Jardiniero."
"It wasn't any trouble at all," the elder said, "My daughter and I were heading this way anyway. A Pretztail was sent here some time ago for a party, but never returned."
"I've yet to see a Pretztail," Pipsy interjected, "But I've recently come across a Pigxie."
"Wait a moment… oh dear…" the human girl spoke.
"What is it Leafos?"
"That Pretztail that was shipped out, it was often seen in the company of a Pigxie. I think its name was… Ed."
"You don't say?" Jardiniero mused.
"You don't think it flew all the way over here to find its friend do you?" Pipsy asked, amazed at the devotion a single Piñata could have.
"It's a possibility, and not entirely unheard of."
Conker watched the scene unfold in the distance, wishing he was somewhere else. They were just so… perfect for one another; it almost sickened him to see it.
"Sir, is something wrong? You seem tense…"
Meadow approached her leader carefully, knowing full well that he was prone to lashing out at times.
"I'm fine," he lied. Meadow could read him like a neon sign. Then again, she wasn't his second-in-command for nothing.
She noted his lack of eye contact, deciding to leave the Corporal alone rather than press the issue farther.
"This is a very healthy Piñata," Jardiniero inspected the Fudgehog, "Candiosity looks good and everything. He's not quite up there with the Piñatas I used to raise, but I am impressed. Are you a gardener per chance?"
"Oh no, my grandfather is though. Ferdinand is just a pet really."
"Hmm…" The old man seemed to be contemplating something, "And you say you have found and befriended Ed the Pigxie?"
"Then I've decided."
"What?" Pipsy questioned, what had he concluded?
Jardiniero removed a short stick of about seven inches long from a cloth bag. Activating a small button on the side, the stick immediately expanded to the length of a staff.
"This here is called the Trick Staff, an upgrade of your garden-variety Trick Stick," he spoke, presenting the rod to her.
It was rather ornate; a diamond adorned the head of the staff as blue and gold decorations lined the body. Golden pieces hung from the head of the staff, clinking together.
"While the Trick Stick could only command resident Piñatas to perform tricks, the Trick Staff can summon and sway any Piñatas present in the area."
"It is isn't it? I've been looking for someone to test it for me, as this is only a prototype. Would you do the honors, my dear?"
"Oh, absolutely! Thank you so much, sir." The mouse girl responded.
"How about you give it a try?"
Pipsy gave him an odd look, "Now? Alright, what do I do?"
"Just wave it around a bit and see what happens, go on, give it a go!"
A little uncertain at first, Pipsy stood with the staff in hand, giving it a very modest swing.
"It's not going to bite you, silly girl. Try again!"
She swung a little harder this time. Suddenly, a buzzing sound met their ears as a Taffly flew into the area to investigate.
Jardiniero snickered slightly, "Well, it's not bad for a first try. Nobody is a natural at anything right away, although I would have had at least a Dragonache appear by now…but I digress," the man shrugged.
"I can 'ardly wait to get my 'ands on 'im," a rhino huffed.
"Make that double for me, love," a pig woman replied, "Life was hard enough without L.O.G. screwing it up!"
This caught Pipsy's attention.
"He's not behind all this,"
Timber gave her a look of confusion, "What-"
"What are you on, girl? Who else are we supposed to believe to be behind all this turmoil?" A penguin asked.
"Surly you must have noticed that the change occurred when he took up that new employee, correct?" Pipsy asked, "L.O.G. is innocent!"
"Wait a minute, wait a minute," Timber cut in, "are you saying Gruntilda is behind all this?"
Some applause could be heard in the distance as Kazooie was outside the backpack, clapping her wings together.
Without warning a jarring cackle resonating throughout the Jiggoseum, unsettling everyone present in the area.
"Very good, I am impressed, to see through L.O.G. I do confess!"
"Not like it was very difficult!" Kazooie shouted.
TT shot a look at Piddles, who maintained a look of complete innocence as the witch continued her spiel.
"I do hope you are feeling rather chipper, here comes Legchomper, Big Nacka, and Ripper!"
Grunty let out one last resounding screech as a portion of the floor opened up. Resistance members scrambled away from being swallowed up as a creature emerged from the gaping hole in the ground.
A monstrous Cerberus stood before them. The central head let out a menacing roar, red orbs fiercely looking over its prey. The left head resembled a Barkbark. Its tongue lolled playfully out of its mouth, lending it a friendly, albeit silly, disposition. The right head was in the form of a Mallowolf. It seemed rather indifferent to the situation at hand, looking about ready to fall asleep. The body and tails of the beast were a strange combination of the three animals represented by the creature's heads.
The beast placed a massive paw forward, readying itself to attack.
"ALRIGHT! REMEMBER WHAT WE'VE TAUGHT YOU! GET INTO YOUR POSITIONS, AND LET'S MOVE!" Timber cried as the Resistance began its own assault.
"Why do all of these bosses have to be so huge?" Kazooie asked as Banjo shifted the trolley into gear.
"Haven't we always lived in a disproportional universe though?" Banjo replied.
"That's despicable, how could anyone do that to a Piñata?" Jardiniero snapped as he wheeled himself away from the danger, "You should probably get a hang of that staff real soon!"
Pipsy had never fought anything before, but seeing as two-thirds of the enemy could be affected by the Trick Staff, she felt she had an easy advantage.
Conker's Section took refuge behind the giant dart board, planning their first moves.
"Sir," Keith spoke calmly, producing his Widowmaker, "If we can slow this thing down, and if I can get a good vantage point, I could probably take out its eyes."
"That's great and all…" Conker began, "But I think you'll only need to take out two…"
"He's right," Meadow added, "Look at the beast's movements: they are erratic and disorganized. One head controls the body at a time. The center head seems to be the only one looking to cause harm."
Conker rolled his eyes before acknowledging his subordinate.
"Tank wants to use the big guns, can he?"
"No. Do not use the big guns. There are too many people running around for that."
The hulking Tank only groaned in reluctant agreement, disarming his Bazooka.
"…Well can I try out my Sturm 21 then?"
"Sir, he's the worst shot here, he'll only hurt himself." The Sneeker reasoned.
"That's the idea," Conker answered briefly before flagging down Banjo as he drove by.
"Think we can go a little higher?"
"What are you doing?" Piddles shouted as TT hopped inside a nearby bomber plane.
"To stop Timber from hogging all the glory!" The cheetah quickly engaged the vehicle, kicking up dust as it took to the air.
She folded her arms in anger.
"Be careful," she whispered unto the wind.
Several small bombs were launched into the air from crude catapults, exploding just short of the Cerberus as Resistance members rushed to dispense more into the catapult bed from Mumbo Bombos.
"This thing won't stop moving!"
"It's huge! How can you miss it?"
"We can't get a clear shot!"
They were right. Whenever the Barkbark head was in control, it seemed to cause the body to move faster. Not set head seemed to dominate over the others. Timber thought for a moment before seeing Pipsy gripping the Trick Staff tightly.
"PIPSY! TRY TO HOLD DOWN THE BARKBARK!"
Broken out of her stunned trance, the mouse girl readied the staff in hand.
She gave the object a hefty swing, pointing it at the Barkbark head.
As if a leash had been tugged, the canine found itself suddenly yanked over to where Pipsy was standing, knocking itself over in the process. With a speed that surprised even her, the mouse girl leapt out of the way, narrowly avoiding being crushed by the beast's form.
The Mallowolf head took over as it tried to right itself, the other two heads writhing about in protest as the lupine tried to curl up and sleep. No sooner had it lied down did the central head come into power again.
"PIN IT DOWN!" Timber barked.
Not knowing how to hold the creature, Pipsy slammed the end of the staff into the ground. The Cerberus was felled again.
"A little more…" Keith murmured, readying his weapon, his eye pressed to the scope.
"Just say 'when' when we're high enough…" The bear responded.
After a moment, the sniper caught the eyes of the center head in his sights.
The monster howled as it was blinded by sniper rounds. TT flew in, emptying round after round from the egg guns positioned in between the wings. What appeared to be a tear appeared in the neck of the Mallowolf. The opening only grew, before eventually severing the head altogether. A stream of red poured from where the head used to be.
Kazooie lifted her wing in the air to catch some of the falling objects.
"Jelly beans?" She stuck a few in her mouth.
"It bleeds… Cinnamon Jelly beans?" Meadow attempted to confirm, an incredulous look on her face.
"You get used to these kinds of things eventually…" Conker assured, helping himself to the sweet rain.
The last of the ammunition made contact with the Barkbark head, severing it as well. A cascade of candy crashed over the crowd as confusion sprung among the Resistance.
Now in complete control, the last of the Cerberus stumbled about, blind and in agony.
TT had the misfortune of flying too close to the flailing tails. The blunt Mallowolf tail struck the wings of his plane, sending it into a downward spiral to the ground. As he tried to manage the vehicle, it buckled, and eventually made impact with the ground, throwing him out of his seat. It wasn't long before Piddles was on the move, racing frantically to the crash site.
A rousing cheer grew among the rebels as the beast finally fell for good. The fallen heads eventually shrank and dissipated, leaving two rather puzzled Piñatas amongst a sea of candy. The body and final head did as the other two before it: it shrank and disappeared, leaving a rather dazed bat like creature in its wake. The bat let out a small cry before flying away, a memory chip falling from its wing.
"TT, TT, get up!" Piddles shook the still form of the cheetah to no response.
"C'mon, just… just WAKE UP!"
She was met with no reaction.
The cat girl covered her mouth with both hands in shock. He couldn't be!
"No…no, no, no! IDIOT!"
A snort sounded from the "corpse" as Thomas rolled over onto his back, laughing.
"I would've gone on longer, but I couldn't hold it in anymore!" He said through tears as Piddles gave him several slaps to the face.
"Wha -ow – what's the matter? It was a joke! I can't believe you actually –ow – cared!"
"I most certainly do not care what happens to you!" Piddles shot back defensively, face turning red, "But can you blame me for being concerned over a seemingly dead person?!"
The group only laughed as they watched the cat girl deal out what she felt was a suitable punishment, glad to see a happy ending surface from the ordeal.