This is the first of the prequels to Super Muppets, about how the Muppets and their human friends Ashley Carter and Ramona Simmons first met. Hope you enjoy it! And as with Super Muppets, their are no Muppets in the first chapter, though they are mentioned. Chapter One: The Assignment Our story begins at a small community college in a city with many colorful characters. In the college cafeteria, nineteen-year-old Ramona Simmons sat at a dingy gray table, gnawing at a slice of cheese pizza and reading one of her favorite mysteries. Just as Ramona was approaching the climax, a voice shouted across the cafeteria, “ RAMONA! ” Ramona dropped her book on the table, thus losing her place in it. She looked up, knowing exactly who had called her. Four-foot, ten-inch-tall Ashley Carter, Ramona’s best friend, came tearing across the cafeteria, crashing into various fellow students. “ Sorry-out of my way-‘scuse me-coming through! ” Ashley shouted as she pushed past the many much taller bodies in the room. Many people who saw her and Ramona together figured she was 10 or 11, but Ashley was actually two months older than her friend. Finally, Ashley ran up to where Ramona was sitting, slamming her palms on the table. “ Girl, where have you been? ” she asked. Ramona took a sip of her diet root beer. “ Eating and reading until I heard you screaming, ” she said flatly. “ Why? ” “ Didn’t you get the call from Mr. Bradley at 11:45? ” Ashley inquired. Mr. Bradley was the head of the college newspaper, for which Ramona was an op-ed writer and Ashley was a reporter/photographer. Ramona sighed. “ Ashley, we have English at 11:45, and unlike you, I have my phone turned off during class, ” she said with a smirk. Ashley frowned. “ For your information, I had my phone off, but I turned it back on after class, ” she told her friend. ” Mr. Bradley left me a message saying he had a special assignment for us that we need to come hear about during a free period, and it looks like a free period now, so let’s go! ” Ramona shoved the last of her pizza into her mouth, and washed it down with her last gulp of soda. “ Okay, let’s, ” she replied, and the two girls headed down the stairs from the lunch room to the college newspaper office. Mr. Bradley sat at his desk in the office, reading his email as he heard a knock on his door. “ Come in, ” he said. Ramona opened the door, and she and Ashley walked in. Mr. Bradley smiled. “ Good to see you, ladies, ” he said. He gestured to two seats in front of his desk. “Have a seat.” The two students sat in the chairs. “ You wanted to see us, sir? ” Ramona inquired, crossing one leg over the other. “ Yeah, ” Ashley added, swinging her legs, which barely touched the floor. “ Something about a special assignment? ” Mr. Bradley stood up and pulled a paper from his printer behind him. “ Well, girls, I’ve been thinking about the direction in which our newspaper is going, ” he began. “ We mainly cover stories about this school. You know, the sports teams, the drama productions, budget cuts, new departments... ” Ramona raised her hand. “ I don’t mean to interrupt, sir, ” she said. “ but aren’t those the types of things a school newspaper covers? I mean, what else should we write about? ” Mr. Bradley nodded. “ It’s all well and good, but I feel that it might be a nice touch to write about interesting people in the community, ” he said. “ Which brings me to.... ” he held up the paper, “ these emails I’ve received from students who know of a group of performers in this very community about whom a story by the school newspaper might be interesting. ” Ramona took the paper from him and read it. “ The Muppets? ” she said. “ Hmm, I’ve been to their shows; they’re pretty good. ” Ashley squirmed a little. “ Yeah, but I’ve heard that they’re a little....oh, what’s the word...? ” “ Eccentric? ” Mr. Bradley offered. “ Weird, ” Ashley corrected him. Mr. Bradley chuckled. “ All artists tend to be a little strange, ” he told her. Ramona put the list of emails on the desk. “ Well, what are we supposed to do? Just go to the Muppets’ place and interview them? ” “ Your assignment, ladies, is to spend all of next week in the Muppets’ home, and get to know them as people, not just as performers, ” Mr. Bradley said. “ You’re then to write an article about what you’ve learned with photos. I’ve already made arrangements with them, and they’re happy to have two students under their roof in exchange from some publicity for their upcoming show. ” Ashley’s face fell. “ But next week is spring break! ” she whined. “ I’ve got plans! ” Ramona giggled. “ Ashley, sitting on your couch, watching TV, reading comic books, and stuffing your face with vegan junk food hardly constitutes ‘having plans’. ” Ashley crossed her arms. “ Teacher’s pet, ” she muttered. Ramona ignored her. “ Mr. Bradley, I think this is a great idea !” she said. “ Good, ” Mr. Bradley replied. He handed each girl an index card. “ Here is the Muppets’ address and home phone number. I’m expecting your story on my desk the Tuesday after you girls are back from break. ” “ Why not that Monday? ” Ashley inquired. “ It’s my spring break, too, and I’m spending it in the Bahamas with my girlfriend, ” Mr. Bradley said. “ We won’t be back until Monday night. ” Ramona and Ashley just looked at each other. Mr. Bradley took a sip from his coffee mug. “ You girls are dismissed. ” When the girls left the office, Ashley complained “ How come he gets a vacation and we’re stuck with work over break? ” Ramona grabbed her friend’s arm. “ Oh, come on, let’s go home and get packed, ” she said.