A rundown bus with the initials T.D.G. pulled up to the side of the road and opened its doors.
"Everyone hurry inside," Rhonda declared, "Two to a seat!"
Rhonda took the driver's seat from an intern as the contestants piled in.
"Hey Melissa!" Aiden called. "I saved you a seat; you can have the window."
"Thank you so much Aiden," Melissa replied. "But…no one's sitting with that poor dear in the back."
Everyone froze and looked back. Cynthia had taken the back seat. She stared. Another crack of lightning lit up the sky.
"Really?" Easton asked.
"Yeah, really?" Weston said, sitting next to his brother.
"Oh sure, she seems a little odd," Melissa admitted. "But deep down, aren't we all odd? After all, we're all humans."
Everyone turned back to see Cynthia take a knife out of her bag and cast a stare at all of them.
"I'm not so sure about that," Seraphina said, as she took the closest open seat, next to Griswold.
"I do want to sit next to you," Melissa said to Aiden, "but I just can't leave someone isolated and lonely. What's more scary than not having a friend?"
"Being murdered in the back of a bus," Seraphina suggested.
"I'll remember you fondly," Aiden said, as Melissa left.
Ignacio walked towards the back of the bus as the other contestants fawned.
Frannie popped up from her seat. "Would you look at that? I have an open seat! Oh, Ignacio I didn't see you there…right in front of me. Do you a need seat?"
"Of course you can sit with me!" Frannie stated.
"Actually Ignacio is sitting with me," Diamonique stated, grabbing the man by his arm. "He asked me to save him a seat."
"I did?" Ignacio asked.
"Yes," Diamonique replied, "with your eyes!"
Frannie's lemur, Ziba jumped onto Ignacio and rubbed her tail against his face.
"Well my lemur's already left her scent on him," Frannie stated.
Diamonique rubbed her face against Ignacio. "Well I've left my scent on him!"
Ignacio pointed. "Hey look…it's a…a distraction!"
"I can't see it?"
Ignacio sat Ziba down and ran. He stopped at the next open seat, Tessa's.
"Hey," Ignacio said. "Would it uh-"
"Save it," Tessa stated. "It's not available for you, pretty boy."
Ignacio sighed and walked on.
Lita was the last to make her way onto the bus.
"Hey," Lita said to Tessa, "you're the pro athlete! Mind if I sit here?"
Tessa spread her legs out to take up the whole seat. "I do."
"There aren't any more open seats," Lita said.
"Then you should've got on the bus sooner," Tessa replied.
"Did I stutter?"
"Alright little girl, do you have a problem?" Lita shouted back.
"I'd rather not sit next to a flirt," Tessa replied. "I believe girls should dress decently, as though they have class…even if they don't."
"Well I believe people should act decent," Lita retorted. "As though they have class, which you don't. Now move your legs, before I move them for you."
"Now you're going to resort to violence?" Tessa questioned, getting in the knockout's face. "Real classy."
Lita pounded her fist into the back of the seat, leaving a hole in it. "You're about to see how much class I have!"
"Everyone please hurry to a seat," Rhonda called.
"Lita," Hayden called, "me and Aiden can make room, come up here."
"You sure?" Lita asked. "I hate to-"
"-It would be our pleasure," Hayden said as Aiden nodded.
The doors closed and Rhonda started to drive through the rainstorm.
"Don't take what Tessa said personally," Bethany said from her and Xidorn's seat. "She's been a total grump since she got here."
"What's her deal?" Lita asked.
"No idea," Hayden admitted, "perhaps its an indicator of her stress, being a celebrity and all."
"Have you guys seen any of her interviews on TV?" Xidorn asked.
Lita blushed a little. "No, my family doesn't…watch a lot of TV."
"I heard they were controversial," Aiden admitted. "But wowie kazowie, I never assumed anyone would act that way on the show right off the bat. Especially an American athlete!"
Hayden patted Aiden's back. "Sometimes people can surprise us in the worst ways."
"Agreed," Xidorn said. "I don't like to spread rumors, but this all the truth; in interviews she's said nothing but horrible things about most of her fellow athletes and even other celebrities. She claims some bullied her."
"Maybe that girl's had a rough life," Lita wondered. "Ain't excusing her behavior, but I should talk to her again."
Xidorn shook his head. "Good luck, and may the force be with you."
At the same time, Pascal told Diamonqiue, Kalino and Frannie a tale from his previous reality show.
"...And that's how I solved the puzzle and saved my team from elimination," Pascal narrated. "Again."
"Wow," Frannie gasped.
"Man I'm not even surprised," Kalino stated. "You're like my favorite show jumper out there."
"Show jumper?" Seraphina quietly asked herself, eavesdropping from her far away seat.
"Never heard of a show jumper?" Griswold asked.
Seraphina turned away. "I don't really care for reality television."
"Show jumping is this big trend," Griswold explained. "The original version of this show started a reality show craze. Now people can make a career out of appearing on reality TV."
"A career?" Seraphina questioned.
Griswold nodded. "It's outrageous! These dudes keep auditioning for reality shows to show off their talent and get managers, became famous and get some sponsorship deals or just win prize money like it's a paycheck."
Seraphina bit her lip. "So uh..."
"Griswold," the lineman said with a smile. "You're Seraphina right?"
Seraphina nodded. "Yeah. Do you recognize that guy?"
Griswold scratched his chin. "That dude? Uhh…oh yeah, dude's like crazy famous; he won some Voice or American Idol rip off. Then he used that to go on some other shows. Only watched one or two, but he corners the market on tank top commercials."
"How do you know so much about reality TV?" Seraphina asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Reality shows are all the rage at my school. Our old quarterback appeared on one. It's become a football tradition to apply to reality shows. Like the whole team wearing prom dresses for spirit week."
"Since I've answered your questions," Griswold started. "You think I can ask you something?"
"Yes, I think you could pull off a prom dress," Seraphina replied.
"I already know that," Griswold bragged. "I'm told I have pretty cheekbones. But, I wanted to see if you'd use those tarot cards to see my future."
Seraphina turned away again. "Why? Do you even believe in psychics?"
Griswold shrugged. "I don't know; I didn't believe in luck till I find out the legend of my team's lucky jockstrap and saw it in action."
"I'm going to regret asking this but…lucky jockstrap?" Seraphina asked.
Yeah," Griswold said, "it works on and off the field. I won every school raffle when I wore it! My football bros let me take it; if we get on the same team I'll let you borrow it."
"The point is, I never thought psychics were real but I should find out first."
"I guess I can give you a reading sometime," Seraphina replied. "Only because your cheekbones are so pretty."
Griswold fist pounded the air and laughed another hearty laugh.
Seraphina stared at Pascal, as he finished another story.
The weather got worse and worse till the contestants couldn't see out their windows. Eventually, the bus squeaked to a stop.
"We're here," Rhonda said. "The five-star hotel you'll all be staying at for the next indeterminable amount of days."
"Oh no, not a hotel," Zipporah said. "How tough can this show get?"
"Right?" Diamonqiue screamed. "I mean what will the continental breakfast be like?"
The newcomers exited the bus and froze dead in their tracks. A tower that loomed over the sky stood before them, black and decrepit yet evoking the image of a mansion. The window ledges were decorated with deformed gargoyles holding their arms out, as if beckoning onlookers to join them. Surrounding the high-rise was a rusted, pointy gate that swung open in tune with the thunder cracks.
Zipporah gasped. "It's…so beautiful…"
"Dude, I thought you said this was a five star hotel?" Riley asked.
"It is," Rhonda replied. "This in the historic Pentagram Hotel!"
"What happened to this place?" Hayden asked.
Oh you know, the usual; tough economy, poor location choice, the owner and architect turned out to be a serial killer who used the secret catacombs he built in the hotel to murder people…that kind of thing."
Lita shivered and tugged on her scarf.
"You okay?" Griswold asked.
"I'm not a fan of serial killers," Lita admitted. She noticed Cynthia staring at her and turned away.
"It looks run down," Hayden concluded. "Are you sure everyone will be safe here?"
"Well after they caught the owner, the cops shut the place down," Rhonda explained. "They did further investigations to find out who all was murdered...and never finished. Some say the ghosts of the serial killer and his victims scared them out…and still haunt the hotel now."
Zipporah smiled, shedding a tear.
"Don't worry though," Rhonda said. "This place has been bought by an enterprise that are repairing it, transforming it into a fun family-friendly tourist attraction!"
Zipproah immediately frowned. "Every moment of happiness I have, life beats away into nothingness."
"That's the spirit!" Rhonda cheered. "Now I'm sure we all want to get unpacked…"
Jenny and Toby stepped out, each holding a basket.
"So, get in line by gender," Rhonda clarified. "Draw a room key to see where you'll stay, and find out who your new roommate is! Everyone has a roommate; the genders are uneven, so a boy and a girl will share a room. Oh, and feel free to use the confessional!"
"Where is it?" Easton asked.
"Yeah, where?" Weston added.
"It's the cursed broken elevator," Rhonda said. "We'll have lunch in ten minutes. Be there; it's required."
"It's about time," Diamonique stated, finishing another taco. "I'm starved!"
As the newcomers rushed on, Lita stopped Tessa.
"Look, can we talk?" Lita asked.
"As if," Tessa scoffed.
"Listen I'm sorry for overreacting earlier," Lita said. "I'm not here to make enemies. So do you think we can just move on, forgot about this and be friendly?"
"Forgot about you bullying me?" Tessa asked.
"You insulted me first," Lita clarified. "I was trying to take a seat. Look, it doesn't matter. Can we not have bad blood between us?"
"If you think I'm going to let you push me around, you're dumber than you look," Tessa stated.
"Fine then," Lita replied, "I tried to be nice. But if you'd rather have your head up your *** than please go ahead. I'm not going to take your crap. Just hope we aren't on the same team ***** cause I will cast my vote against you. That is a promise."
Lita flipped the bird and walked off.
Bethany entered the broken elevator and pressed a Close Door button. She sat down on the fluffy, purple cushion inside. The tacky salmon colored wallpaper was halfway peeling off the walls.
"This is actually pretty comfy for a cursed elevator," Bethany said. "Anyway, I'm pumped to be here! I've never really thought about being on a reality show, but I want to challenge myself. I'm aiming to win; my family's motto is 'go big but don't go home if you don't win.' No pressure or anything, heh, heh..."
"I've always dreamed of winning this show," Pascal said. "And I'm going to make sure that dream comes true. How? Simple; I'm going to introduce some real strategy to this show. First thing I need to do is make a secret alliance to control the votes, and make it easy to win over everyone in the finale. Reality show finales almost always depend upon getting support from other contestants."
"I'm a glass half full kind of guy," Kalino stated. "Some might complain we're staying in a haunted hotel, but I say we're staying in a hotel for free! Some might say we have to scramble or work hard and stuff to make sure we aren't eliminated. I say I just got to sit back and wait till the right moment until… man it's really uncomfortable in here!"
Kalino flipped up the seat cushions. Out fell what looked like a golden flash-drive.
"Cool," Kalino said, stuffing it in his shirt pocket. "I found a good luck charm…"
"Well," Joaquin said. "I-"
"Yeah, I don't really want to be here," Zipporah said. "My parents signed me up for this stupid show. It sucks. They suck. All you people watching suck. A lot."
Seraphina read her key card as she reached her door. "The sixth floor, room sixty six; 666."
She unlocked her door and saw Tessa sitting on one of the beds.
"The number of the beast," Seraphina said.
"You're joking if you think I'm going to share a room with you," Tessa said.
"I'm hoping this is just a joke," Seraphina replied. "But I doubt it…"
"I joined this show because I wanted to get away from the world for a while," Tessa sighed. "I wanted to meet people who were outsiders like me, be in a judgment-free zone. Instead, I get treated the same as always by the 'popular' snobs. I know most of them are talking bad about me behind my back, already defining me for what they've seen from interviews. Well, just wait and see; one by one I'm going to take them all down…"
"I'm not really a people person," Seraphina admitted. "I don't even like my own mother. I've found people are the worst. I'm not sure why I was cast; I just auditioned as an excuse not to get a summer job. Although, the show isn't as bad as I thought it would be."
Seraphina smiled, then frowned. "Its worse."
Halting to stop at the end of the hall, the twins arrived at their room.
"657," Easton cheered. "Must be our lucky number!"
"Yeah, it must be!" Weston said.
Weston put in his card. The automatic lock spat his key back out.
"What?" Weston asked.
"Let me see," Easton said, taking his card. "Bro, this says 654!"
"But that means," Weston realized. "We're…in separate rooms! We can't be in separate rooms!"
"Hey, it'll be alright," Easton said. "Your room is right across from me. You'll be fine, right?"
"Yeah, yeah it'll be alright," Weston agreed. "Your room is right across from mine, so I'll be fine. You're right."
"I'm going to unpack," Easton explained. "I'll be back out in five minutes. You go unpack."
"Okay," Weston agreed. "Hey bro?"
"I love you."
"It's just five minutes."
Weston hugged his brother.
Easton sighed and used his key. "Five minutes."
"I'll be ready in four," Weston shouted, as Easton closed the door.
"Howdy!" Vance greeted. "Hope you don't mind, but I did beat you here so I took the left bed."
"No biggie," Easton replied.
"Something getting your gumption partner?" Vance asked.
"I just had to leave my brother," Easton said.
"Well that's a darn shame," Vance said. "If I hadn't already unpacked I'd offer to switch with him."
"No," Easton replied, "I mean it's just a room."
Vance shrugged. "Whatever. Now I hope you don't mind, but the women tend to be on me like a chicken on a June bug, so I might be having some late night make-out sessions. Try not to be awkward during it, alright?"
"Uh, I'll try," Easton replied.
At the same time, Weston had unlocked his room.
"S'up Broadie," Riley welcomed. "Looks like we're bunking together."
Weston sighed. "Cool."
"Everything okay?" Riley asked. "Not afraid I've got cooties are ya?"
"No," Weston replied, "I grabbed the wrong key. It was supposed to be me and my brother sharing a room."
"Aw dude that sucks hardcore," Riley said. "I'm sorry."
"It's cool," Weston replied. "It's like Easton said, it'll be alright."
Riley put her arm around Weston's shoulder. "Well I'm not your brother, but if you need somebody I'm here for you."
Weston sighed. "Thanks."
Melissa reached her door and put in her key. Her room was poorly lit by black candles, but she could make out a shadowy figure; Cynthia, sharpening her knives.
Melissa dropped her bags...and ran over to glomp Cynthia. "We're roommates? Oh, I was hoping we would be! We'll have so much fun together!"
Cynthia didn't look up, intensely focusing on her blades.
Down the hall, Bethany exited her dorm and saw Pascal teetering right outside.
"Hey Bethany!" Pascal greeted. "Do you mind if we talked for an teeny weeny moment?"
"No problem," Bethany replied. "Hold on, we're you waiting for me? How did you know this was-"
"Follow me!" Pascal interrupted, bouncing down the hall.
Bethany shrugged and followed the singer into a dorm. Inside were Kalino and Vance. Pascal slammed the door shut.
"Am I interrupting something?" Bethany asked.
"Me and my roommate Kalino were talking," Pascal said. "And we thought this game is going to get extra super duper serious soon, right?"
Bethany smiled. "I hope so!"
"Darn tootin," Vance added.
"So I decided that maybe I should do something extra super duper serious myself," Pascal explained. "Such as…form an alliance."
"A who?" Vance asked.
"We all agree to vote together and not vote each other off," Pascal said. "That way we can get far in the game together and protect our bestest interests."
"Were your first draft choices?" Bethany asked.
"I want someone to win whose good," Pascal said. "Too many times, villains form alliances and target deserving people. I say we form a good guy alliance! Besides, working together we can keep our team strong and safe."
"I guess that makes sense," Bethany admitted. "Don't you think it's a bit early though?"
"The early worm gets the early bird special," Vance said. "I say we do it while we can."
"Mannnnn it sounds fine to me," Kalino stated. "As long as I can invite a friend or so in it."
"The more friends the better!" Pascal said. "Just…wait till we get our feet settled."
"I don't know," Bethany replied. "This feels like some dark side of the force stuff..."
"Duuuude I thought you'd want to be in a good guy alliance Bethany," Kalino said. "I mean, I figured you'd want to avoid some sneak targeting you for being good at challenges."
Bethany frowned. "You think someone would actually target me for that? This early?"
"Well I guess it wouldn't hurt," Bethany said. "Okay, let's do it."
Yippie Skippy!" Pascal cheered. "Now remember, let's keep it a secret, just to avoid people making a big deal out of it and to spare feelings; there's a lot of people who can join us, I just wanted to start small."
"I don't know about y'all but I could go for some grub," Vance said as he strutted away.
"Saaaaaammmmmeee," Kalino said.
"My alliance plan worked perfectly!" Pascal cheered. "Yippie Skippy! With Vance and Bethany I have two big targets to hide behind at the merge when they start voting off threats. And the only way Kalino could be a more ideal scapegoat is if he grew an udder. It's a win-win-win situation!"
Over in room 666, Tessa tossed an old box, Seraphina's box, from one hand to the other as the psychic tried to grab it back.
"Give me back my tarot cards," Seraphina shouted. "They're in my great, great grandmother's jewelry box."
"If you want your hoodoo voodoo junk," Tessa said, "go get it."
Tessa tossed the box outside of the room. Seraphina chased after it, slipping across the floor and barely catching it. Her luggage was tossed outside and the door slammed behind her. Seraphina jiggled the knob but it wouldn't budge.
"Let me back in there you ***hat!" Seraphina screamed.
"Sorry, this room is taken."
"I know you and your big fat ego can take up a whole room," Seraphina replied, "but I have to sleep somewhere."
"That's not my problem."
Seraphina started to kick the door.
"Honey, you alright?"
Seraphina turned around to see Lita watching.
"Just peachy," Seraphina replied, turning away.
"My roommate is the devil," Seraphina said. "aka Tessa. Now I'm locked out."
Lita picked up Seraphina's luggage. "Come on sweetie."
"To where?" Seraphina asked.
"My room," Lita replied.
Lita walked towards the beginning of the hall. She opened her door as Seraphina slowly followed.
"Hey Ness," Lita said. "I'm back; didn't find any vending machines."
"Hey Lita," Ness replied, leaving their bathroom. "And, oh hey...Seraphina. What's going on?"
"Tessa forced Seraphina out," Lita explained. "I was hoping, if it was okay with you, that Seraphina could stay here."
"How awful," Ness exclaimed. "It's no problem with me, she's welcome to."
"Why are you offering to share your room with me?" Seraphina asked.
"Cause I don't want you sleeping in the hall," Lita said.
"I'm sure if I complain to Rhonda she'll force Tessa to let me in," Seraphina said.
"So you can room with her?" Lita said. "I'd take the hall over that."
"Well... thanks," Seraphina said. "I'd like to crash here, but it'll be just for a little while. I promise. I'll take the floor."
"Girl I just said you ain't sleepin there," Lita stated. "Now you go make yourself comfy on that bed."
"We could rotate who sleeps where," Ness suggested. "Or maybe we could share the beds, put them together to make a super bed. Kind of like a sleepover."
"Whatever you want," Seraphina said.
"That sounds like a lot of fun," Lita said. "Let's do it!"
Ness clapped. "Eeeee! This'll be so cool!"
Everyone gathered in the cafeteria, dimly lit by the candelabras on dusty, wood furnished tables.
"Welcome to lunch newcomers," Rhonda said. "Please note we only have one cup for each of you."
Rhonda pointed to the two stacks of cup outside the lunch lines; outside the left line were red cups while blue cups were stacked outside the right line.
"Again, everyone gets one cup and one cup only," Rhonda clarified. "Now please enjoy."
The newcomers went through the line, grabbing a cup and finding places to sit.
Melissa exited the line and saw Aiden waving.
"Thanks so much for saving me a seat," Melissa said.
"It was my pleasure," Aiden replied.
"So how's your room?" Melissa asked.
"Great," Aiden said. "I'm rooming with Hayden and he seems like the bees knees. How's your room?"
"Wonderful!" Melissa replied. "They really went out with the atmosphere; my room started to ooze a mysterious liquid and I still don't know what it is!"
At another table, Bethany and Xidorn cheered as Griswold and Riley chugged soda.
Griswold slammed his red cup down and belched. "Beat that!"
Riley sat her red cup down, cleared her throat…and burped so hard her glass shattered.
"Consider yourself roasted Bro-B-Q," Riley replied.
Bethany and Xidorn clapped as Griswold bowed his head in defeat.
"Oh hey Lita!" Bethany called. "Come sit with us!"
"Sure," Lita replies. "Is it cool if my roomies join us?"
"Heck yeah!" Griswold said. "We're having a party over here."
Lita and Ness started to walk over.
"I cannot believe this lunch!" Lita said. "They have my fave; cheese fries!"
"Yeah," Ness agreed. "They have my favorite too; fried clams. I haven't had them in forever and-"
Ness slipped and faceplanted on the ground, while her clams spilt on the floor.
"Oh," Ness said. "That's okay, I wasn't really that hungry anyway."
Lita helped Ness up. "Nonsense sweetie, have mine."
"Sure," Lita replied. "Besides, I'm getting seconds; we can go together."
Seraphina exited the lunch line as her roommates took their seats.
"Hey Seraphina," Ness called. "Over here, we saved a spot for you!"
"Yeah, come sit us with us dude!" Griswold added.
"Okay…" Seraphina replied, going to the table.
At Melissa and Aiden's table, Hayden joined them. "Is it fine if I sit with you two kids?"
"We would be delighted," Melissa said. "Aiden was just telling me you and him were roommates."
"Yeah," Hayden said, "he's a pretty cool roommate. For a dork."
Aiden chuckled. "Aw jeez, right back at you."
"I'm the oldest one here," Hayden said. "Which is fine; I'm happy to be able to be here for these younger kids. Take my roommate for example; sweet guy but he's a little innocent and dopey. He needs someone to look out for him. I'm happy to be that someone, offer him a little guidance. Youngsters need that sometimes."
"Who are you rooming with Melissa?" Hayden asked.
"I was lucky enough to room with Cynthia," Melissa stated.
Aiden spat his drink all over Hayden.
"Sorry pal," Aiden apologized.
"No, that was the proper reaction," Hayden replied. "Cynthia? Has she even spoken a word to you?"
"Well no," Melissa replied, "she's more of a strong-silent type. I invited her to sit with us, but I don't think she will."
Aiden and Hayden sighed in relief.
After a while, all the newcomers were almost finished with lunch, some even getting seconds or thirds.
Ignacio sat by himself where he picked at his food.
"Um pardon," Lita said, behind him. "I was just wonderin' if-"
Ignacio sighed. "-No, I will not take off my shirt. I will not flex for you. I will not let you pet my…'man bun'. Can I just please eat my lunch?"
"Don't get a fat head with me," Lita said. "I just wanted to see if you were going to eat those cheese fries, 'cause the lunch line is out and you aren't eating them. What, just because you get paid for stripping half naked in front of a camera you assume all girls are thirsty for you?"
Ignacio stared wide-eyed at the knockout.
Lita turned away. "Shoo, I don't even want them anymore. I hope you choke on them!"
"I have a temper," Lita admitted. "I know it and I try to control it. But I cannot stand people who think they're so great they can treat others badly. I should be use to dealing with people like that but…ooh! I don't care who you are, how you look or what you have; you're a jerk if you act like that makes you better. I'm not afraid to fight you; verbally or physically."
"I really shot myself in foot there," Ignacio said. "Some of the other girls and guys were inquiring about such things and it made me rather uncomfortable...still that wasn't the way to act..."
As the new arrivals finished their last bites, Rhonda reentered with a smirk on her face.
"I hope you've all enjoyed your lunch," Rhonda said. "You're going to need it for your first challenge. This challenge will test everything; your social skills, strength, intelligence, accuracy, courage, balance, creativity, vigor, speed, leadership, endurance and teamwork. The winners of today's challenge will receive an extra special reward!"
"What are the teams?" Hayden questioned.
"Oh you've already chosen your teams," Rhonda stated.
Everyone looked at each.
"Indirectly I mean," Rhonda teased. "You see, for each of you there-"
"-Was a cup from the lunch line," Kalino said. "Eleven red, eleven blue; each half of how many of us are here. Based on what cup we picked, we picked our teams."
"Yeah," Rhonda said. "How'd you know?"
"I just realized it duuuuude," Kalino admitted. "I was wondering what was up with the cup stuff."
"Well if you have a red cup stand to my left, blue to my right," Rhonda stated.
The contestants reluctantly got up.
Rhonda turned to her right. "Bethany, Weston, Melissa, Diamonique, Kalino, Aiden, Vance, Cynthia, Xidorn, Hayden and Frannie you are…the Molting Eagles!"
Above their heads appeared a blue emblem, depicting a naked eagle trying to cover himself with his few remaining feathers.
Rhonda turned to her left. "That means that Griswold, Zipporah, Ness, Riley, Ignacio, Tessa, Pascal, Lita, Easton, Seraphina and Jasper are now…the Fizzling Fireworks!"
A red emblem of an exhausted cartoon firework coughing smoke and few sparks appeared over their heads.
"Wait, me and Easton aren't on the same team!" Weston complained.
"So sad, too bad, no do-overs," Rhonda stated.
Pascal forced a smile. "How could I forget? An alliance is the way to control the game…unless your alliance is all on the opposite team! Now I need an entirely new plan! That's okay; I can handle this. When life hands you lemons, thank life with a smile. SO THANKS LIFE. THANKS. A LOT!"
"The first part of your challenge is to get to Lincoln Memorial while staying ahead of the obstacles."
"Obstacles?" Hayden asked.
Rhonda snapped her fingers. Two crates fell from the ceiling, shaking and echoing screams. Out of the crates came a rhino, a lion, a tiger, a bear (oh my), a shark, a murder of crows, a mass of scarabs, a chainsaw welding maniac, a chicken, Jenny and Toby on an ATV, a grandma, an animatronic dinosaur, a hipster, a monster truck, a komodo dragon, a mouse, a skunk, a vulture, a large tortoise, a girl scout, a woolly mammoth beaver, a wildebeest stampede and the Brady Bunch.
"Ah yes," Hayden replied, "those obstacles. Well, thank you for clearing that up and, EVERYONE RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!"
The contestants bolted out as the 'obstacles' chased after them.
The T.D.G. bus pulled up to the Lincoln Memorial. Rhonda exited, laughing to herself.
"Ha, they weren't expecting that."
"I know I didn't," Diamonique agreed. "Care for a fry?"
"No thanks Diamonique."
Rhonda smirked to herself. Then she turned around to see Diamonique, Melissa, Cynthia and Frannie.
"What?" Rhonda asked. "How did, but you…"
"Please don't be upset Ms. Rhonda," Melissa said. "Diamonique was kind enough to haul a taxi for us."
"It just seemed like the easiest thing to do," Diamonique admitted. "We got here a while ago but you weren't here, so we went to Mickey D's."
"After becoming roommates," Frannie said, "me and Diamonique realized we'd do better working together than against each other. I mean we're the two hottest girls here."
The rest of the newcomers raced towards the Lincoln Memorial.
"What a glorious day!" Jenny cheered as she held a tranquilizer gun. "Get ready Toby, this'll be all over soon."
One of the vultures swooped in and carried the co-hosts off.
"That was soon," Toby said, "good work Jenny."
At the same time, the scarabs swarmed after Ness.
Ness screamed, before tripping over a penny and faceplanting on the concrete.
The scarabs crawled over the jinx, sinking their pinchers into her skin until someone picked her.
"Don't give up now!"
Ness grabbed their neck, as the person carried her on their back.
"I've had a fear of scarabs ever since I was five," Ness explained. "A mass of them escaped from the zoo and bit me so hard they put me in the hospital. It wasn't the worst field trip though. Thank goodness I was rescued this time. I was thinking some prince must have saved me. Maybe Pascal, that singer on my team…heehee…"
Eventually, everyone reached the Lincoln Memorial.
"We're here," Ness' savior said.
"Thank you for saving me," Ness said, kissing their cheek.
Ness opened her eyes to see she was clinging Bethany.
"Oh," Ness said. "You can leave me back at the scarabs."
"Forget it about," Bethany laughed as she set Ness down, "We're just lucky nobody got hurt."
The two turned around to see citizens being terrorized by the obstacles, running for their lives.
"Oops," Rhonda said, "we should have had a plan to round them back up…"
"So who won this here challenge?" Vance asked.
"The Molting Eagles arrived first, so they win an advantage for the next part of the challenge," Rhonda said.
The Eagles cheered.
"Consider that your baptism into the world of Total Drama," Rhonda stated. "Now that you've been initiated, let's see what you all are made of…"
Rhonda moved to the top of the Lincoln Memorial steps. A crowd began gathering.
"For the next challenge you'll be performing eleven labors," Rhonda stated. "One person from each team will each compete in a challenge. The winner scores a point. The team with the most points at the end wins. As an advantage for winning the race, the Eagles start with one point."
The crowd became bigger and bigger.
"Anyone notice a lot of these people are wearing 'I Love Total Drama' shirts," Seraphina stated.
Rhonda nodded. "For your first labor, one member must deliver a speech to these hardcore fans of why your team should win invincibility. Then they'll vote for who they want to win this labor. Teams, pick your speaker."
"Let's let huddle up team," Hayden stated, as the Eagles formed a circle. "Who here feels like they're good at public speaking?"
"I feel I could do it," Aiden said.
"I think you could do it," Hayden said, "but only one person can do one challenge. You've got a lot of physical strength Aiden, so I say we save you for another challenge."
"Huh," Aiden replied, "I didn't think of it like that."
Xidorn raised his hand. "I can do it. I'm a Total Drama fan too. I believe I can go up there, speak from the heart and win them over."
"I like your honesty bud," Hayden replied, "Go for it."
Bethany patted Xidorn on the back as the huddle dispersed.
The Fireworks were having their own meeting.
"I'm going to go for it!" Pascal cheered. "I could even do a song for them!"
"Sounds righteous brah," Griswold said.
"Actually," Seraphina said, "I'd like to do it."
"I think we've already decided Seraphina," Pascal said.
"I must not have been here for the vote," Seraphina replied.
"You can do the next one!" Pascal beamed. "I'm sure you'd do extra super duper at it!"
"Or I could do 'extra super duper' at this one if you'd give me a chance," Seraphina said.
"Don't let this hurt your feelings," Pascal said. "It's just, I don't know if you have the right…'oomph' for this challenge."
"You just want to get out of doing it as soon as possible," Tessa stated.
Seraphina shook her head. "First and most importantly; shut up Tessa. Second, I don't think it's smart to let our most experienced player do a speaking challenge. Third, I know I can do this. Let me do this instead of waiting and having me end up competing in the bodybuilder challenge."
"Seraphina I just don't-"
"-Vote me off," Seraphina stated. "If I lose this challenge and our team loses today, you can vote me off first."
"Girl has kahunas," Lita laughed. "I say let her do it!"
"She brings up some good points," Ness added. "And…I believe Seraphina can do it. If I believe it, she can achieve it."
"When you put it like that," Pascal replied, "then let's do it!"
Rhonda held her arms out to the crowd. "Now, let the eleven, or so, labors begin..."
So when I started Genesis I thought how many opening episodes of actual reality shows are the equivalent in length of three Total Drama episodes. So it made sense I should have a three parter! I was also determined to have every chapter be around 5,000 words. So that's why the challenge is only really starting now.
Not much to comment on otherwise. For anyone curious, here's the full list of roommates:
Lita/Ness (joined by Seraphina)
Tessa/No one (Seraphina was kicked out)
As I moving this story from a different website, I'm still getting used to formatting here. Let me know if you have any suggestions!