Daphne knew how this went.

But this time, things would be a little different.

She hung back while the rest of the gang walk with Professor Hatecraft. Once she was sure they were in position, she found the camera Velma had tracked down that morning. She had scrawled a simple note out. Pulling out some tape, she attached the note to it.

Think Pericles is stalking Machine. Talk at Bloody Stake- MI

There would be questions, but the task was done.

She caught up with the gang. Velma glanced back at her. Daphne aimed a smile and nod. This time, hopefully, they didn't have to split up to help Hatecraft or to go to the library. They did have to stop by the trainyard to get the Mystery Machine and the trunk.

Hopefully, Mr. E would listen.

"Do you think he'll listen?" Fred was the one to ask a few hours later, "Alice May" already on her way to trial. They were waiting in the parking lot of the Bloody Stake for Mr. E or whoever to show up. Due to the early evening hour, there weren't many people at the restaurant- Crystal Cove's creep factor gave the town weird working hours. He was sorting the trapping equipment, but it was clear his head wasn't in it. Velma had gone inside with Shaggy and Scooby to pick up the food she had ordered ahead. Much easier to save time if they just ordered ahead.

Daphne had to wonder why they hadn't done that before.

"I mean, what if he doesn't?" he continued, placing the last cable in its spot. "What if this is just a big waste of time."

"I don't think he can afford not to," Daphne said in response. "Remember what happened afterward?" Her boyfriend winced, giving her his answer.

(Velma, late in the nights, had quietly cried into her pillow. She never spoke about it.)

Before he could talk, he was cut off by the other three walking up with food bags, followed by a car that parked a fair distance away from the Mystery Machine. They watched as Mr. Machine got out. The group watched as he carefully walked up to them. The two groups stared at each other. "Your...Mr. E is currently unavailable," he said finally. "He's surprised that he didn't notice anything."

"He strikes me as that person," Velma said with a nod. "To be upset at not noticing everything." Machine gave her a nod back.

(It seemed like everyone was going to ignore that similarity between father and daughter.)

After another awkward moment, Scooby held out one of the basket of fries in a clear peace offering. "Fries?" he asked. After another moment, Machine took one. He awkwardly settled next to Velma and the two started comparing (carefully managed on Mystery Inc's end) notes.

Daphne couldn't help the smile that rose up.


A fair distance away, Pericles watched the little group.

Ricky's little puppet and the kinder seemed to be comparing notes. It was a surprising change in the course from "Mr. E"'s usual plan of hide, manipulate, and watch. Direct contact had never happened before. It was new. It was interesting.

It was very, very bad.

He needed Ricky alone and vulnerable. He needed the kinder to be distrustful and wary, enough to find the pieces for themselves. He needed Cassidy out of the way entirely. If they were working together, that left him with a smaller area to work his plans.

With a curse, he flew away.

It seemed that it would take longer than planned to free his Master...