This is collaboration between Katy, Pipermaru and Gabby, is a tad insane. Not to be taken seriously, there's no such thing as a Zanga Mall, although we know in our hearts that there should be. Otherwise, how else would you explain their new wardrobe.
The writers of this story would like to thank Jacqueline for doing a wonderful job beta reading it, if it weren't for her this story would not make any sense at all.
"And some apples, " Marguerite reminded Veronica, who was busy in the kitchen writing their weekly shopping list.
"Anything else?" Stepping out of the kitchen, the huntress made a face at the brunette, who had done nothing as usual, except bark orders left and right!
"No, that's about it."
"Yes, your majesty," she mockingly bowed down. Strapping on her backpack, she headed towards the lift. It was a lovely morning, she just hoped that her companion wouldn't ruin it. She had had enough of Marguerite's wise cracks. "Are you coming or what?"
Yawning all the way to the gun rack, Marguerite made a face. Unlike most mornings, she was in a particularly good mood; she hadn't even minded waking up early. But the one thing she didn't want to be doing today was shopping; she just wanted to stay home. She could just hear Lord Roxton's remarks if she refused to go. 'What, our Marguerite refusing to go shopping? Impossible! Have you check for any signs...' Talk of the devil! He appeared at the doorway and started towards her. She didn't want to see him this morning, not after that little quarrel they had had last night. She had thought he had gone out hunting! Had he'd been sleeping all this time? Her laziness must be rubbing off on him!
"Where are you ladies heading to?" he asked in a low husky voice.
"Zanga Mall," Veronica replied.
"I didn't realise it was that time yet!" He rubbed his back as he approached them.
"Of course not! You men are all the same...When was the last time you did any of the shopping?"
"Just to prove you wrong…" he countered as he snatched the shopping list from Veronica. "Malone! Are you up for a trip?"
"I'll think I'll pass, I really want to finish cataloguing these journals." Ned Malone barely moved from his place in the far corner of the room. He had been there since the early hours of the morning. His journals were in serious need of tidying and some of them needed new covers. They had taken quite a beating! He was very meticulous when it came to his work.
"Are you sure you DON'T want to come?" Roxton put quite an emphasis in his sentence. He even went so far as to raising one eyebrow in a very suggestive manner.
Malone looked puzzled; from Roxton's gestures, he was sure he was missing something! "No." Then it hit him. "On second thought, you're right! A trip to the Zanga Mall will come in handy, I'm running out of paper and I hear there's a huge sale on stationery!" Retrieving their guns from the racks, they made their way to the elevator.
"Make sure you bring the Zanga coffee beans, I don't want any of that instant crap!" Marguerite shouted. They had done a right sorry mess the last time they went shopping. And why? Because they wanted to economise. Well, not with her coffee! She had said it then and she would say it again. 'Coffee is a necessity, which I shouldn't be deprived off. Go and economised in some other useless junk.'
"Yeah, yeah." Both of the men had had enough of her yammering. The woman would not shut up. They though they were doing her a favour, she wouldn't have to roast the blasted beans ever again! Well maybe it was for them; after all, it was them who usually ended up doing it! Clanking the lever, they disappeared out of view and out of harm's way. They knew perfectly well what she was capable of without her morning coffee! Best never to repeat the lesson.
"Ah this isn't so bad." Veronica propped her feet on the small coffee table; the few hours of solitude were a welcome relief. Sipping carefully from her cup, Veronica stretched herself further up the chair. "So, what do you think the boys will make out of the shopping list?" she asked her unusual quiet companion.
"Knowing them, they'll bring back the wrong kind of detergent!" Marguerite replied with her eyes closed. She had barely moved from her spot on the sofa, cradling her cup of coffee she revelled in its warmth. So far they had had a wonderful morning. Quite unusual, actually, as recently most of their mornings had been quite noisy. Tiffs were becoming a daily occurrence, certainly giving their mornings a rambunctious feel.
"I should have put in some magnesium!" George Challenger mumbled to himself as he made his way into the living room.
"What was that Challenger?" The heiress turned her attention to the new arrival.
"Ah, nothing," he muttered as he walked past, his nose buried in the book he was reading.
She should have known better than to ask. The man was utterly incomprehensible when he came out of his lab; always mumbling to himself about things that were better left unasked.
"Where's Roxton?" he asked.
"He and Malone left to do the shopping."
"Sorry, but what day is it today?
Mumbling a few words to himself, George Challenger ran to the gun rack. Donning his hat, he stepped in the lift. "I've got to go to the laundry, I'll see you later."
"You know George, by now we would have though you would have built us a washing machine of our own."
"I'm working on it," he shouted as he disappeared down the shaft.
"You really think he's working on one?"
"It wouldn't surprise me."
Absolute silence reigned. No screech of birds, no monkey chatter, no dinosaur roars, no trickle of water, not even the gentlest whisper of wind. The only sound was the muffled crunch of her own footsteps. In the lush, vivid jungle, the quiet was anomalous and sent an eerie chill racing down her spine. A sudden, loud crack - so intense she could feel it in her bones - reverberated across the plateau. She turned, instinctively knowing where the sound had originated. Terror grabbed her stomach as she muttered, "the tree-house", and took off in a dead run.
She knew she shouldn't have strayed away from the path, panting for a last breath she barely made it inside the perimeter. Shutting the gate, she stopped to watch as her two pursuers received quite torturous shocks for their troubles. Almost laughing herself into a fit, she climbed aboard the lift.
"Finn! Are you alright?" Veronica rushed to her recently acquired adopted sister.
"Yes, just had a run in with two, whatyamacallit, ravenous raptors." Finn laughed. She loved using words from books she was reading.
Veronica too laughed, wiping her hands on her apron she headed back to the kitchen.
"What do you have in that bag?" Veronica asked, as she seasoned the meat with a mix of herbs and spices.
"Some new clothes." She cheerfully slumped down in the nearest chair she could find.
"About time!" Marguerite left her seat by the table. She had been so engrossed in her book that she had failed to notice Finn's arrival. Setting the book down, she approached her. "We were beginning to think we would have to talk to you about your hygiene."
Finn's brows furrowed, she didn't quite know what Marguerite meant; she bathed regularly.
"Marguerite, drop it!" Veronica berated; it wasn't Finn's fault that she only had one outfit.
Sticking her tongue out, Marguerite went back to her chair. She was getting quite annoyed with Finn's childish behaviours; for a person from the future that they had observed, sometimes the girl was too naive, not worldly enough! Things had to be broken down for her; her unschooled mind needed everything to be explained. But who could blame her? She hadn't had the best upbringing, and her reading had vastly improved. She wished all the same could be said about her writing but that wasn't going anywhere, the girl just refused to practice. Unfortunately for them, she'd rather play games.
Rolling her eyes, she tried to be pleasant to the girl, just this once. "So what did you buy?"
Excitedly Finn took out her new garments. Perusing through the small pile, she took out a black top. "Here," she said, proudly showing off the bargain she had found.
Marguerite wanted to be nice, but it appeared that Finn had bought exactly the same top she had been wearing. "Veronica, it appears that Finn is following into your footsteps," she teased as she held the flimsy garment out.
Veronica immediately shot her an icy glare.
Finn ignored Marguerite. She had learnt to do that as soon as she came, mostly cause she didn't understand half of what she was saying. She eagerly related her other little tidbit of information. "You will never guess what's going on at the Zanga Mall. A beauty contest!"
"Beauty contest!" Both Marguerite and Veronica shared the same look of dawning understanding. The men were caught, and there would definitely be retribution.
"So, where are the boys?" Finn asked.
"Did you see Challenger take any clothes?" Marguerite pondered, while a smirk spread on her face.
"No," Veronica said, shaking her head at his transparent excuse. Men!
"So where are they?" Finn wondered
"Zanga Village," Veronica replied absently, her mind pondering the scolding she would give the men as soon as she found them.
"Finn, we'll be right back." Veronica took her apron off and handed it to Finn.
"Can I come? This is gonna be good." Finn's smile spread wider.
"No!" they shouted in unison
"Fine!" Finn pouted.
Deep inside the Zanga Village, the Zanga Mall was buzzing with excitement. The Mall was particularly crowded that day, and sales signs were hanged from every store. Busy shoppers made the way through the crowded aisles. Pushing and shoving their way through, not caring who got hurt, Marguerite and Veronica rushed towards the open area of the mall. They had seen the signs announcing the contest and were not too pleased to find out who the judges were!
"Laundry, my foot!" Marguerite said with disgust, her arms crossed in anger. They had spotted Challenger in one the shops, and the two women approached him stealthily. "Really, George! We though we could expect a little more from you!"
Challenger jumped nearly a foot into the air and whirled around to face his companions. His face was priceless, his cheeks flushed with embarrassment as he excuse himself from the young lady who had him engaged in an otherwise witty conversation.
"M-m-marguerite! Veronica! What are you doing here?" How on earth was he was going to get out of this one!
"We just came to see how you were getting on with your laundry. " Marguerite put on a pleasant smile as the professor looked at both women, wondering if he could work his way out of this one.
"What laundry?" Challenger feigned confusion.
"The laundry you came to do," Marguerite retorted. She knew very well that he hadn't come in to do any laundry.
"Oh yes the laundry. Yes, I have most of it done." He silently groaned. Him and his stupid mouth; he had had to say the first thing that came to his mind.
"I'd better get to it," he said, trying to make his excuses before he dug a hole deeper.
"Just a second," Veronica stopped him with a firm grip. " Don't forget these." And Veronica reached for the laundry basket next to her.
Both woman watched the professor struggle with the basket, sniggering they continued their search for the men.
Veronica and Marguerite continued their search, but to no avail; they couldn't find Roxton or Malone anywhere. They stopped gratefully by the ice cream palace, where they ordered a vanilla and chocolate ice cream, respectively. A small woman with bright red lipstick and big hair spotted them, and in a swoop, caught their hands in hers and ushered them away, muttering, "Ladies, really? You know you have to watch what you eat! What am I going to do with you?"
After Veronica and Marguerite managed to get away, Veronica forever grateful for Marguerite's glib tongue as they made their excuses, they continued their search. Finally, they spotted their quarry. Marguerite sighed and shook her head.
Where else would they be but at the judges' table? Marguerite and Veronica crept quietly behind them. Giving them a stern slap on their heads, the girls smiled as the astonished men spilled their respective cups on the floor.
Choking on his coffee, John Roxton turned towards the women, and his eyes widened in panicked shock. "Marguerite!"
"Veronica!" Malone wiped at his trousers, staring up in embarrassment at the irritated huntress.
"So this is why you were so eager to come down here!" Veronica looked at Malone disapprovingly; she shook her head and her lips tightened into a straight line.
"Going behind our backs for WHAT? To see this bunch of tramps!" Marguerite's anger grew.
"It's not what it looks like, we came to do the shopping and..." Malone tried to explain, only to trail off as Veronica glared at him.
"And to stare open-mouthed at all these women!" Veronica was hurt.
"There was a contest and we though we could watch it or is there a law against it?" Malone stated his case, hoping they would buy it.
"Of course not. Come on Veronica we'll leave the boys to watch the contest, we've got other important things to do." Marguerite's sweet tone caused Roxton's eyes to narrow, and he watched them walk off with no small amount of trepidation. When Marguerite sounded like that, it never turned out well.
Ten minutes later, crowds of spectators, mostly of the male gender, were gathered around the stage. Curtains were slowly raised up music began playing. Roxton and Malone grinned at each other and prepared to settle in to observe the contestants.
Their fun was short-lived, however. Their jaws dropped as soon as the last of the contestants began their walk on stage.
"What are they wearing?" Roxton nearly flew out of his seat. At first he had been smugly looking at the ladies, but now that he had spotted Marguerite and Veronica among the bevy of beauties, his attitude did a hundred eighty-degree turn.
"How indecent! Women should not be allowed to wear things like, like, that." He gestured helplessly at the tight-fitting costume that displayed a generous amount of Marguerite's long, slender legs, as well as left little to the imagination as to the rest of her.
"You mean Marguerite shouldn't be allowed to wear things like that." Malone teased.
Flicking him in the side of his head, Roxton said enough.
Uncomfortably Marguerite did her best to keep her composure on the catwalk. She smiled seductively to the judges, noting with some glee the discomfort Roxton was showing as the other men whooped their approval. "Smile, Veronica," she whispered through gritted teeth.
"I'm trying! It's hard enough walking in these," came the reply. Once more she stumbled gracefully, regaining her balance before her face met the floor.
"Marguerite, get down from there, what do you think you are doing? And Veronica, I'm ashamed," Roxton yelled to them, trying hard not to scream.
"You don't like the show?" Marguerite beamed down at him. Malone swallowed; she had leaned too low, and he had a view that he wasn't sure he was supposed to see and not be clobbered by Roxton. When Marguerite straightened up again, Malone let out a little sigh of relief.
"Yes, I thought you boys would be pleased that we joined such a prestigious contest." Veronica mimicked Marguerite's teasing tone.
And the two continued out of the stage for the next costume change.
"Malone! Are we just going to let them get away with this?" Roxton exclaimed.
"Huh?" Malone, still stunned, wasn't managing much of a coherent sentence.
"The girls, Ned!"
"Oh ... Well I don't see what we can do, but sit back and enjoy the show."
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Roxton accused.
"ME? Of course not, I'm outraged! In fact I'm so outraged I'm going to sit here and endure the entire show, just to show them they haven't won! " Malone tried to speak convincingly.
"You're right, we should act like this is no big deal. Good idea, Ned." He smiled now; smugly, thinking of how mad Marguerite was going to be when he sat there calmly in his chair, paying no heed to her lack of clothes and suggestive walk.
The next time the girls passed by, making their first tour past the judges, Malone and Roxton stared calmly at them, reaching for their pens and scribbling their notes. Roxton hoped that Marguerite couldn't tell just how hard he was holding the pen, almost to the point of snapping off the nib.
Veronica gave Marguerite a puzzled look. "They aren't reacting at all."
"We'll see about that," Marguerite replied, surprised at Roxton's apparent coolness. "Follow my lead."
As she walked across the stage, Marguerite smiled suggestively at all the judges, and at one in particularly. This would surely get Roxton riled up. Veronica followed suit.
Both men tried hard to maintain their composure, but they were already beginning to feel the stress of seeing their respective loves flaunting themselves at other men. Roxton's nostril flared at the sight of the approving men, and his hands itched to grab them by their shirtfronts and fling them out of their chairs.
"Did-did you see that?!" Malone stuttered.
Roxton did not respond, but stared intently at Marguerite and continue with his judging duty. She merely bestowed a brilliant smile on him and she turned and sashayed off the stage to the approving applause of the other men.
Marguerite and Veronica were excited they had actually made into the top ten finalists. Smiling their best glamorous smiles, the pair made their way into the stage where they were going to announce the five remaining girls to go through to the end.
The first name was announced, second and third came, but the two final names weren't music to their ears as they had failed to qualify. She felt a flare of disappointment, failing to notice the satisfaction on Roxton and Malone's faces as the women they loved made their way off the stage.
"I didn't want to be in this contest any way," Marguerite heard one of the girls say.
"Smile, Veronica," Marguerite said.
"I am," she answered.
"Nicely," Marguerite prodded.
"I voted for you," Roxton said as he embraced Marguerite from behind.
Marguerite smiled as she cuddled up in his arms. She turned her gaze towards Malone.
"Did you vote for me too, Neddy boy?" she teased.
"Of course I did. Ten out of ten." He was pleased with his answer, for a moment.
A slight tap on the shoulder came. "How about me, Neddy boy?" Veronica said, one eyebrow arched and her arms folded as she awaited his answer.
"Oh you did it Neddy boy," Roxton said in amusement.
"C'mon you buy the ice creams." Veronica dragged him out of the room.
"About that shopping list..." Marguerite began removing Roxton's arm from her waist.
"Challenger!" Marguerite ran out of her room, hardly dressed, waving a pair of trousers and her skirt. "You shrunk them!"
Veronica came scowling out of her room, wrapped in her father's robe. "You! I have only one pair of these." She held her skirt in one arm and her top on the other.
"Challenger!" came the masculine voice, a very irritated masculine voice.
As soon as the girls saw him, they burst into laughter. They had never seen such a sight!
Lord Roxton stood before them, draped in pink. His trousers were pink, his shirt was pink, well a dirty kind of pink; even his unmentionables were pink. Not that he would tell them.
"It's not funny," he growled, staring down at himself. He looked like a blasted flamingo!
"No you are right," Marguerite could hardly contain her laughter. "But you have to admit, pink kind of suits you."
Veronica muffled a laugh.
"What's all the commotion?" Malone popped his head from his room. As soon as he spotted the pink-clad hunter, he burst into a peal of laughter.
"Not funny, Ned!" Roxton berated, already tired of being the centre of a joke.
"Where's Challenger?" he asked in an angry tone.
Finn replied as she stepped out of the lift. "He left hours ago, something about staying at the Zanga Village." She barely contained her laughter as she looked at Roxton. There it was the great hunter looking like a big lump of candy floss!
"Challenger wherever you are, I will find you," Roxton yelled into the jungle. The echoes somewhat assured him that his message would get through.
Outside, Roxton's warning did not go unheard as George secretly made his way out of the perimeter fence. Thank goodness for Finn!