Chapter 1: What Friends are for…
"Hector!" Violet smiles with great relief.
"Baudelaires! I'm so glad you made it!" the handyman says from over the side of his wondrous invention.
"I hope you don't mind extra passengers!" Violet calls upwards.
"Not at all. The self-sustaining hot air mobile home needs several people to keep it running!"
The middle Baudelaire then begins to deploy the ladder of the fire truck while Hector rolls down the rope ladder from above.
"You first," Violet says to the friends who had been held captive for such a long time.
"We'll be right behind you," Klaus adds.
Despite the hesitation in the triplets' thoughts, Isadora and Duncan begin to climb.
"Burn those kids! Burn those kids!" the angry mob continues to chant.
"It looks like a self-sustaining hot air mobile home!" Mr. Lesko points out.
"Don't let the children escape, or we'll have to find other orphans to do our chores!" Elder Anabelle snarls.
"And burn," Elder Sam says.
"Do your own chores! Or take turns according to a fair schedule. The aphorism is, 'It takes a village to raise a child,' not, 'Three children should clean up after a village.'" The once brave handyman shouts out at the mob.
"Is that Hector?"
"He's a traitor and a rule-breaker!"
"Burn him, too! I'll get more kindling!"
"Birdland!" Detective Dupin/Count Olaf says. "Groove on this. I am deputizing the whole kit and caboodle. Now let's scoot up that red-hot jalopy and drag down those killers!"
With the frenzy of the crowd becoming more and more intense, Violet takes the hose from the fire truck and directs it at the crowd.
"There's no water," Klaus reminds her.
"They don't know that," Violet says.
"Stand back!" Mr. Lesko shouts. "She's got a hose!"
"That's right! I have a hose so if you want to stay dry, stay back. Right, Klaus?"
"Absolutely right. Although this truck is a 1956 International R190, it's been retrofitted to the specs of a triple-pump La France, with 800 gallons of water on board, and anyone who's read about fire trucks knows can be shot out at a rate of 1,600 pounds per square inch. Which is a lot of power." Klaus recites. After a paus. "How was that?"
"Comprehensive," Violet says.
"Out of my way! Move it!" Officer Luciana/Esme Squalor says, pushing her way through the crowd.
"Good heavens! Is that a harpoon gun?" Mr. Poe asks.
"Sì," Esme says, still attempting to maintain the accent. "My boyfriend bought it for me. It fires hooked harpoons that are perfect for popping balloons."
"What if you hit one of the children?" the banker says worryingly.
"It's cool, big daddy," Olaf says. "Open fire, officer."
The horrific sound of a *click* of the trigger being pressed and the awful swoosh of a harpoon sailing through the air. A loud pop is heard as one of the balloons bursts, causing the mobile home to shake and shudder.
"Isadora!" Klaus screams as the triplet hangs onto the rope ladder for dear life.
"Hang on!" Hector shouts, trying to steady it for the girl.
"Impressive," Olaf says with a smirk.
"Well, I do try," Esme purrs while reloading the gun. "This time I'll hit a handyman."
There's another *click* and swoosh, Isadora screams and freezes in place as the metal tip zooms past her head. However, the metal tip of the second harpoon grazing the fibres of the rope ladder, before piercing one of the baskets. A red/purple liquid begins to spew out from it.
"Oh, no!" someone shouts.
"Ooh! It's okay. It's just my supply of cranberry juice!"
"They're almost to the top," Klaus reports.
"Good. Get Sunny. Start climbing. I'll hold off the mob," Violet says bravely.
Klaus does what his sister asks and climbs the fire ladder. However, once he reaches the rope ladder, it jolts heavily. Isadora's eyes go wide. She's nearly at the top and she notices the damage that the second harpoon had done.
"What are you waiting for? Shoot!" Olaf insists.
"Try loading a harpoon gun without ruining a manicure!" the diva hisses.
"I have!" the villain hisses.
"I hope the children don't fall!" Mrs. Morrow says. "We need to burn them in a fire!"
"Burn them in a fire! Burn them in a fire! Burn them in a fire! Burn them in a fire! Burn them in a fire! Burn them in a fire! Burn them in a fire!" The citizens of the Village of Fowl Devotees continue to chant.
"Hurry!" Hector shouts. "The mobile home can't take any more damage."
"It's not the home we're worried about," Isadora says.
Duncan is right behind his sister and he's wondered why she stopped, it's not until his eye catches what she sees that he stops as well. He turns down, just as Klaus is about to pull him and Sunny up on the rope ladder.
"STOP!" he shouts.
"What is it?" Violet asks.
"The rope is coming unravelled…" Isadora answers. She always hated heights but being on an unstable ladder in mid-air is terrifying. "It won't hold all of our weights."
"I'll try to repair it!" Hector says, leaning down and trying to reach the abrasion in the rope.
"There's no time," Klaus informs the handyman. "Esme's ready to shoot again!"
Duncan looks up at his triplet and they can see the fear in their nearly identical eyes. While they feared being captured by Olaf and his troupe again, there was no way they could all escape safely. As their parents had taught them when they were younger, you either do something together or not at all.
"We'll have to climb down," Duncan says, after a long moment of thinking about it.
"But it will put you in more danger," Violet protests. "And after all you've done for us."
"We'll figure something out, we always have," the male triplet says. Cautiously, he begins to climb down again, with Isadora close behind.
"Hold your fire!" Mr. Poe shouts. "They're climbing down!"
"They must be surrendering," Elder Jemma suggests.
"No!" Esme snarls.
"What are you doing?" Klaus asks as the triplets clamber down the firetruck ladder.
Soon the five orphans are back on the platform of the fire truck.
"We're not leaving you here to face Olaf alone, this is what friends are for…" Isadora adds.
"We're sorry Hector," Violet calls upwards.
"No, I'm sorry Baudelaires, I'm sorry I never had the courage to stand up to them and be a better guardian. And I'm sorry that my mobile home isn't harpoon proof."
"Go! Hurry!" Klaus says, watching their only chance of freedom slowly begins to travel up higher into the air.
"Goodbye Baudelaires! Goodbye Quagmires!"
However, the orphans turn to see Esme ready to shoot at the group, even though they were on the ground. They could see the malice in the wicked woman's eyes.
"Stop shooting at us! With your mechanical device!" Violet adds, hoping that it would buy the group some time to form another type of escape.
"Mechanical device?" Elder Anabelle gasps.
"Mechanical device?" Elder Jemma repeats in equal shock.
"Officer Luciana, is that harpoon gun mechanical?" Elder Sam asks.
"She's breaking rule number 67!" Elder Jemma screeches.
"She's capturing murderers, you square!" Detective Dupin says. "The murderers..."
"They've already come down. They're not going anywhere," Mr. Poe reasons.
"You can't let people break the rules to catch people breaking the rules!" Elder Anabelle argues.
While the adults are beginning to argue about rules and mechanical devices, the two groups of siblings have hurried back into the fire truck, without drawing too much attention. Sunny Baudelaire gets back behind the steering wheel and makes the engine rev to life.
"They're trying to escape!" Mrs. Morrow shouts.
However, the Elders are still arguing over the harpoon gun.
Just then, a flock of several crows who were late for their roost in Nevermore Tree fly in front of the fire truck.
"Put down that harpoon gun in the name of these wonderful birds!" Elder Jemma demands.
"The only bird I like is in a chicken sandwich," Esme says, taking aim with the harpoon gun to pop one of the tires of the fire trucks.
While the siblings can no longer hear the dreaded *click* or swoosh of the harpoon, a small sliver of luck shone on them as a crow flew just in front of the tire, taking the impact and becoming wounded. Its caw for help causes the mob to gasp in horror. The fire truck begins to speed away from the scene.
"You harmed a crow!" Elder Jemma shrieks. "You broke rule number one! That is the most important rule of all!"
"It's just a stupid bird," Olaf says rolling his eyes.
"A stupid bird? A stupid bird?! Young man, this is the Village of Fowl Devotees. We take our fowl devotion very seriously!" Elder Sam shouts.
"Relax, man. Everything's cool," the villain says, still trying to keep his disguise going.
"Everything was cool before you showed up. You and your funny talk, and you with your harpoon guns," Elder Anabelle says, all her patience had gone.
"It'd be a shame to waste the kindling." Mr. Lesko says.
"And pitchforks," Mrs. Morrow adds.
"Burn them!" another citizen shouts.
Esme and Olaf realize that their jig is up and begin pushing their way through the crowd to escape the mob that had turned on them.
"Stop in the name of the law! Stop in the name of the law!"
"I had everything. Two sets of orphans. Two sets of fortunes. And now it's all gone. Gone!" Olaf laments in sorrow.
"You have not lost everything," Esme says. "You still have me. And I have the location of the sugar bowl."
They finally reach the motorcycle and sidecar that Jacqueline and Larry had arrived on.
"Let's fly this coop," Olaf says.
"Where do you think you're going?" Elder Anabelle shouts.
"Detective Dupin, you let the murderers escape," Elder Jemma chimes in.
"Officer Luciana, you injured a crow," Elder Ben growls. "Now you will pay for your crimes."
"Burn them at the stake!" A citizen shouts
"It seems unwise to burn anyone now that you've lost your fire truck," Esme snickers as Olaf revs the motorcycle up.
"Another mechanical device?" someone yells.
"That's more than a mechanical device. It's a getaway vehicle. Eat my dust!"
"Hurry! Hurry!" Mrs. Morrow yells at the top of her lungs.
"Rule-breakers!" Elder Anabelle adds.
"Now we must go after them!"
"No, citizens," Mr. Poe pipes up, making his presence known to the frenzied crowd. "We need to get this crow to a vet."
As the Baudelaires watched their former form of escape vanish up in the air, their own feelings were up in the air as well, a phrase which here means, "they weren't sure how to feel." They felt sad because the thought of flying upwards free from treachery and villainy sounded very appealing. But they also felt relieved, because their friends were safe and now with them. And as the self-sustaining hot air mobile home rose into the sky, the Baudelaires felt up in the air about everything that was happening and the mystery of what would happen next."
"We're going fast," Klaus says, as he, Isadora, Duncan, and Violet are sitting in the back of the truck.
"We need to keep moving," Violet nods.
"And go where and do what?" Klaus asks.
"We have to be self-sustaining," she answers.
"But we can help you understand the mysteries of what's been happening," Duncan says. He and his sister open their commonplace books.
"Wow," Violet says, gazing at the books. "Notes. Research. Sketches. Codes."
"We had to make sure we got all the information that we could," Isadora says.
"What's this one?" the middle Baudelaire asks. "This looks like a poem."
"Is it one of yours Isadora?" Violet asks.
"No," she admits.
"It's my handwriting," the male triplet says.
"'When you drive away in secret,
you'll be a volunteer.'" Isadora recites.
"'So don't scream when we take you,'" Duncan continues.
Then all four siblings finish the final line of the stanza. "'The world is quiet here.'"