Well, this WAS supposed to be for Christmas, but I sort
of didn't get it finished in time. <guilty look> I hope you enjoy it anyway,
and a Happy New Year to everyone!
Li'l Beast tugged thoughtfully on a rope. It twanged reassuringly, and he beamed. "Yes, I believe that this will do aquaductically. The Brotherhood of Mutant Bullies won't be stealing any presents THIS year!"
"Yay!" The other X-Babies chorused. They looked at the carefully deployed array of traps with something resembling awe. The whole club-mansion was wired, and anyone going within fifty feet of the Christmas tree or the stockings before morning was going to get a series of VERY unpleasant surprises.
Baby Jean clasped her hands and fluttered her lashes winsomely. "Oh, Hank, it's sooo clever! NOBODY could get through that!"
"Yeah, but..." Wolvie hopped up and down a little, looking worried. "How are we gonna get to-"
"Oh, don't worry." Beast waved a diminutive hand airily. "I can disasmemble the traps easily tomorrow morning." His big blue eyes gleamed. "And we'll have lots and lots of presents!"
"But-" Wolvie started.
"Very good, Hank." Cyke nodded. "It'th about time we thtarted taking proper precautionth againtht the Brotherhood'th prethent raidth."
"Just what I thought." Hank nodded, looking proudly at his array of traps. "They won't get a single one! But I DO hope they try." He grinned.
"Me too, but-" Wolvie nodded, looking a little desperate.
"Don't complain, Wolvie." Baby Storm said firmly. "I know you always sneak downstairs to shake everyone's presents on Christmas morning, but you're just going to have to wait this year."
"But I hafta GO!!" Wolvie whimpered, crossing his legs and jumping up and down. "An' Hank's infra-red beams is blockin' the way to the bathroom!"
"Oh." Hank looked uncertainly down the hall. Wolvie was right. There was a trap effectively blocking off the bathroom. The only bathroom that still worked. He smiled weakly. "Well... there are bushes outside?" he said hopfully.
"In the SNOW?!"
A few hours later, the house was dark, and all the X-Babies were snuggled cosily in their beds...
Well, all right. Most of them were in beds. Except for Wolvie, who had dragged his blankie into the Danger playroom, locked the door, and gone to sleep on the floor, because every child knows that hearing Santa arrive is unlucky, and Wolvie had to take fairly extreme precautions to avoid it. And except for Baby Storm, who had spent nearly a month growing a plant with big enough leaves to sleep on, assuming that you were a two-foot-tall weather goddess who doesn't weigh very much.
And except, of course, for Baby Iceman, who had been shut into the walk-in fridge shortly after dinner and then forgotten about.
Anyway, they were all asleep, which is all that is required for story purposes.
The house was, as previously mentioned, quite dark, and it was therefore fortunate that Baby Mystique had had the foresight to equip her team with torches. Of course Juggie had stepped on his, Tadpole had lost his batteries, Sinny had EATEN his batteries, and Tooth had lost his torch in a mad dash after a rabbit, but if she hadn't been working with a bunch of total incompetents, Mysty reflected sourly, they would have been completely prepared.
As it was, they were all tiptoing down the hall behind Mysty, with only the light of a single torch to guide them. Still, they were only a couple of rooms away from the gift bonanza and if they just stayed quiet...
Mysty looked around. Nothing to warrant that sort of outburst. "Who yelled that?" She demanded testily. "They could have heard!"
"Juggie did it." Tadpole tattled.
Mysty frowned. "Where IS Juggie? I can't see him."
"That's probably why he screamed, then." Sinny pointed out. The others all nodded. That made sense. Shrugging, they stepped a little closer to each other and continued down the hall.
Juggie tumbled down a cunningly disguised laundry chute. "Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!" he howled, his helmet clanging against the sides of the shaft. With a final clang and thump, he landed in a pile of unwashed costumes in the basement.
"My helmet!" he wailed, taking it off and examining it. It was dented right out of shape. "They'll pay for this!" Setting his helmet back on his head, he stood up and strode confidently in the direction of the door.
Unfortunately, his foot caught in a tangle of spandex and he fell face first into a drift of underwear. Pulling a pair of underpants off his helmet, he saw the little picture of Barbie on them and dropped them immediately, blushing like a beetroot. "Oh, eew!!"
The basement door, he discovered, was firmly locked. Since it was Christmas, however, someone had thoughtfully left out a plateful of cookies, a glass of milk, and a comic-book. Shrugging, Juggie settled down to wait until someone came to get him.
The four remaining Bullies were lost. They'd gotten turned around when Juggie went missing, and were several rooms off course.
Since the room they had most recently found was the kitchen, they weren't terribly upset about it.
"Thish ish good pud'n." Li'l Tooth said happily, his mouth full. He bit the head off a sugar cherub, which he had pulled off the Christmas cake.
"Greedy kitty." Mysty chided him, sipping her glass of milk. "You'll have a tummy-ache if you keep that up."
"No I won'." He stuffed the rest of the cherub into his mouth. "Healik fagtuh."
"Say it, don't spray it." Sinny advised, tucking a handful of cookies into his pocket for later. "We'd better get going, team, or we'll never find the presents before those generically inferior X-Babies get up."
"You mean genetically, Sinny." Mysty pointed out. "And I'M the leader here, I'LL say when it's time to go!"
"How come you get to be the leader?" Sinny pouted. "You're just a girl! I'm the smartest, I should be leader!"
"You are not the smartest!" Tadpole contradicted. "Mysty's the smartest!"
"Yeah," Tooth agreed. "When you led the present raid last year, we ended up never even FINDIN' the stupid club-mansion. You took us east insteada west and we got lost in the Easter Forest. Ya couldn't even find the right HOLIDAY."
Sinny blushed. "That wasn't my fault," he muttered defensively. "Magneato wrote the map wrong!"
Mysty spluttered. "MAGGIE drew that map? No wonder we got lost!" She glared at Sinny.
"Maggie's the smartest and most powerfullest Bad Baby of them all!" Sinny protested. "And he's flown all over here!"
"He's a great leader, but not a great map-drawer." Tadpole qualified. "'Least, not unless he's gotten Mysty to help him with his little problem that morning."
"You mean, gotten me to write 'Left' and 'Right' on his hands?" Mysty shook her head. "He's gotta work on that."
"Why?" 'Tooth held up his hands and looked dubiously at them. "I can't tell my lefts and rights either."
"Yes, but YOU don't pretend you do so you'll impress people," Mysty pointed out. "If YOU want to impress someone, you just bite them." 'Tooth nodded brightly, and she sighed. "Time to go, boys. Let's get those presents!"
"YEAH!" The other three chorused. As they trooped out of the room, Sinny spotted a large glass on the sideboard. It seemed to be full of eggnog, and had a small sign carefully propped up against it, which read 'Seekrit Eksperimental Jenetically Sperior EgNogg. Propurty of Henry McCoy. DON'T TOUCH! COOTIES!!'
Sinny perked up. "Oh, really?" he muttered, trotting over to the sideboard. "Well, I'll just take a little taste!" As he reached out a hand, he heard a faint buzzing noise. One very surprising second later, he had been transported to a mysterious white room, full of strange shelves and weird looking things. "Where am I?" He squeaked, wrapping himself in his shredded cloak, and finding out that as cool as it looked, it didn't do much to keep out the cold.
"You're in the fridge." A voice informed him. Spinning around, Sinny came nose to nose with Baby Iceman, who was sitting disconsolately on a pile of soda cans. "You found Hank's trap, huh?"
"TRAP? That generic-" Sinny corrected himself hastily, "genetically superior eggnog was a trap?" He blinked in surprise when Iceman nodded. "Fiendishly clever. That blue hairball's a lot sneakier than I thought."
"You bet he is!" Bobbie said proudly. He scrunched up his nose thoughtfully. "I just wish he wasn't so absentminded when he's concentratin' on sumprhin."
"Why?" Sinny, not really bothered by the cold, made himself comfy on a large pudding.
Bobbie rolled his eyes. "You think I shut MYSELF in here and forgot about me?" He looked hopefully at Sinny. "We aren't gonna get out of here for a while... do you want to play checkers?"
Confident of his ability to win at an elemental game of strategy against an obviously inferior X-Baby, Sinny nodded. "I'll use the Jolt cans," he agreed. "You can be the juice boxes."
A few minutes later, Mysty seriously considered hitting herself over the head with her torch and putting herself out of her misery. "NEITHER of you saw him go?" 'Tooth and Tadpole shook their heads. "Oh, POOT!" She spun around, stamping down the hall.
Tadpole followed her. 'Tooth followed his little button nose. A nose which smelled...
"Candy!" He picked up a jellybean and popped it into his mouth. A bit further ahead, he spotted a fruit jube. Further along, he found a gumball. Completely forgetting the grand plan, he followed the candy trail down a long hallway until he came to a closed door. A sign was taped to it. 'MORE CANDEEZ INSIED'.
Not one to turn his back on potential candy, 'Tooth opened the door.
As per Hank's carefully planned trap, the Danger Playroom immediately embarked on a preprogrammed sequence involving an attack by gigantic killer bunny-rabbits.
The fact that one of them ripped Wolvie's blankie en route to attacking simply added to the resultant chaos.
Some distance away, Mysty pounded her fist against the wall. "Where is everyone GOING!?" she screamed quietly.
"It's not your fault, boss." Tadpole patted her on the back.
"Of course it's not my fault! I planned this perfectly!" Mysty squeaked. "If the others hadn't wandered off, everything would be fine now!" She pointed down the hall to a lighted doorway. "There's the payload. Right in there. And I've only got YOU to help me carry it all!" She scowled. "I hope they don't think I'm going to share all MY presents."
"All the more for us, right boss?" Tadpole hopped down the hall towards the beguiling light. "I want a Talking-Sudden-Death-On-Rollerblades-Stealth-Kamikaze ActionMan with turbolaser hyperbazooka and matching kneepads oops!!" He swayed back and forth like a weighted toy. "Mysty! My feets is stuck!"
Mysty shone the torch on his feet. A neatly applied glue slick had, with cartoonish accuracy, fastened Tadpole's feet to the floor. "I don't know WHO our enemy is this year," she said between gritted teeth, "but when I find out I'm going to give him a wedgie that's so big it'll make his EARS hurt."
"How do you know it's a guy?" Tadpole asked with some interest.
Mysty snorted. "Can you think of any girls on that team who are this sneaky?"
"Good point." Tadpole stared at his feet, and his lip quivered. "I'm not gonna get any preeeeesssseeeeeeeennnntttttsssss!!!!!!!" he wailed. "It's not faaaaaiiiiiirrrrr!!"
"Oh, stop howling." Mysty sighed. "If you bend over and let me leapfrog you to get past the glue, I promise to get you a nice present."
"O-okay," he sniffled. He leaned over, resting his hands on his knees. "If any of the packages says 'Drop the two bits of sub-critical uranium and nobody gets their knees blown off' when you pick it up, I want that one."
"Fine." Mysty backed up for a running start. "Hold still, now." Quickly morphing into an exact duplicate of Tadpole, she executed a perfect leapfrog over his back. "At last- what IS it, Tadpole?"
"Umm... Mysty, are you wearing sneakers with little light up red spots?"
"Well, in that case, there are infrathing beams targeted on your ankles." They both looked up. With perfect dramatic timing, eight gallons of super-fast-setting chocolate topping emptied itself over both of them.
Mysty was frozen in place before she'd moved two steps. "Grr... He's thought of EVERYTHING! I'm going to find out who did this and I'm going to...to..." she spluttered, trying to think of a threat bad enough.
Tadpole looked up suddenly from trying to chew his hands free. "Mysty, listen! What's that?"
A loud thumping suddenly came from the next room. "What the... oh, sh- fu- DARN!" growled a voice redolent of plum pudding and custard.
The thick coating of chocolate did nothing to hide the grin of pure joy that spread across Mysty's face.
A chime went off upstairs. Then it went off again, more insistently. Li'lHank pulled his head out from under his pillow and rubbed his eyes sleepily. Then he sat up. "All my traps have been sprung!" He squeaked happily, leaping out of bed. "It worked!"
Hurrying out of his Brain(tm) pyjamas and into his costume, he dashed downstairs. "Disarm, disarm..." He dug the handheld control out from under a pile of cracker papers, and hit the big red button. "There." He did a little dance of glee. "I get to see the presents first! I get to see the presents first!"
Beaming all over his little blue face, he trotted down the hall. As expected, the chocolate had congealed over the glue, making it quite easy and very tasty to get to the living room. He smirked at Tadpole and Mysty as he passed them. "Hah! I beat you this year!" he said smugly.
"That's what YOU think." Mysty smirked right back.
Hank frowned. "Of course I beat you! Every single one of my traps was sprung!"
Mysty blinked innocently. "Oh, they WERE. All five Bullies got caught. Uh-huh. You sure showed us."
"I did, didn't I?" Hank said, pleased. Then his smile faded. "But... I set SIX traps."
Mysty grinned. "Go in and look. Go on."
"Uhm..." He smiled weakly. "Ooops."
Santa glared at him, suspended upside down in a large net. "You could say that."
Hank dashed over to the wall where the ropes were fastened. "I'll get you down!" He tugged urgently on the knot. "I've got it... oops." He hung his head as Santa sat up, rubbing his head and glaring. "I blew it, didn't I?"
"You finally made it onto the 'bad' list." Santa agreed. "Congratulations." He stood up, wincing. "You locked Bobbie in the fridge and forgot about him, you trapped Juggie in the laundry, you trapped Sinny in the fridge WITH Bobbie, you got 'Tooth and Wolvie into a fight, you glued Tadpole's feet to the floor, you ruined Mysty's dress, AND you dropped me on my head, all in one night."
"But... I was only trying to protect the presents!" Hank protested, his lip trembling. "They steal them every year, and then we gotta fight to get them back!" He looked hopefully up at Santa. "This way we don't have to ruin Christmas with a fight!"
"Well..." He hadn't thought of that, Santa admitted to himself. HIS contact with the kids only extended to Christmas Eve.
"Besides, it's your fault too." Hank announced challengingly.
"It most certainly is not!" Santa said indignantly. "I had nothing to do with this!"
"Oh yeah?" Hank folded his little arms, pleased at pulling off yet another brilliant display of logic. "So WHO gave me a My Little Strategist Kit last year?" He gave Santa a deeply reproachful look. "If you'd given me the My Little SCIENTIST Kit I asked for, none of this would have happened."