I'm finally back with a brand new chapter! Things are about to get even crazier from this point forward!
There was nothing better than a lovely, quiet evening stroll down a London street corner, particularly for a Muppet couple like Wayne and Wanda. The air was clear enough for them to see the stars twinkling in the sky. Such a tranquil setting beckoned for a song that the pair sung together…
When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls
And the stars begin to twinkle in the—
Before Wayne and Wanda could get past the first verse of their rendition of the Nino Tempo/April Stevens tune, they were suddenly interrupted by a strong gust of wind that tried to blow the Muppet couple away. At the same time, a large wormhole portal opened just a few feet from them, and out from it emerged a massive purple man whose body was badly burnt along one side. His mere presence terrorized Wayne and Wanda, urging the Muppet couple into running as far away from the purple man as possible.
The couple’s screams of terror agonized Thanos’s senses, disrupted from his prolonged exposure to the Time Vortex. There was no telling how long he spent in the dimensional plane. It battered every part of his body, right down to his molecules. Another minute and he certainly would’ve died. Thankfully, he still had the Space Stone to help escape his plight.
Kneeling on the street corner, it took Thanos a long time to recover.
“You look like you’re in dire need of assistance, my friend,” someone told him.
Thanos barely caught onto the voice addressing him in such a calm manner. He knew it was Earth that he emerged on, recognizing the atmosphere. Any of its inhabitants would’ve fled from him, just as that annoying couple did.
But not this stranger. He spoke to him as if he were an old associate.
The Mad Titan struggled to look up at the stranger and, through his hazy vision, he noticed that he was dressed in a hooded robe that looked as purple as his own skin. He couldn’t make out any discernable features past the hood, only a pair of glowing white eyes that stared back at him.
“You…do not…fear me?” Thanos struggled to ask.
“Why would I fear my equal?” the stranger asked. “We’re after the same goal, Thanos…except I
am after much greater prize. Whereas you wish to control the order of the universe, I wish to control the order of the multiverse.”
“Multi…verse?” Thanos huffed. “You speak nonsense. Who are you? And how do you know who I am?”
“Your reputation howls through these very stars and beyond. That’s why I’ve chosen you to be one of my acolytes in the war to come. But, first, you must obtain the other Infinity Stones.”
“Even if I bought any of what you say, stranger
, the other Stones are far out of my reach…no thanks to the Avengers and that woman in the strange blue box.”
“You mean that
Thanos saw the hooded figure point towards the other side of the street where there stood the very object that became the bane of his existence during his time in the vortex. An inferno exploded within the Mad Titan as he laid eyes on it, gaining the strength and determination to stand on his two feet again.
Noticing his full recovery, the hooded stranger took satisfaction in it. “Yes! You feel it, too, don’t you? There is another just like the Doctor, somewhere out there in the multiverse, disrupting my plan!”
“The Doctor?” Thanos focused on the name uttered from the stranger’s lips (if he had any).
“It’s what she calls herself…or the name that others have christened for her.”
Having a name to associate with his latest complication made no difference to Thanos and how he intended on overcoming it. More than anything, he was astonished to realize that the Space Stone brought him to the exact time and place where this “Doctor” was. Whether it was serendipity or the connection of the Stones, he couldn’t decide.
“It wasn’t entirely the Stone, my friend,” the stranger said, seeming to have read Thanos’s thoughts.
you?” he asked again. “Why are you helping me when I don’t even know who you are?”
All that the stranger told him was, “If you succeed in your plan, then we will have much
to discuss thereafter.” Upon making this promise, the stranger’s hooded form dissipated, fading into the wind like a purple haze.
Thanos still wasn’t entirely certain what that interaction was all about.
One thing he was
certain about was getting into that blue box across the street and reobtaining the Infinity Stones that the Doctor stole from him.
“I may be stupid, but I ain’t that
stupid! You really expect me to believe you three old geezers are on this list?!”
Sweetums had recently been hired as bouncer for the Dubonnet Club and, on his third night on the job, he had to deal with a trio of practical jokers. Three old men – one an actual
man, the other two Muppets – who claimed that their names (Lee, Statler, and Waldorf) were on the list that he had in hand.
“Oh, c’mon, we’ve gotta be on the list,” the one named “Lee” stated. “Do you know how long we’ve been comin’ to this joint? The owner happens to be a good friend of mine!”
“Ha!” Sweetums scoffed. “That’s what they all say.”
“I bet ya can’t even read from that blasted list!” the one called “Statler” criticized.
“Shows what you know,” Sweetums retorted. “I happen to have perfect
reading skills! Had ‘em ever since first grade!”
Before Mr. Lee could’ve made another plea to the big furry monster-bouncer, two individuals cut in front of him and his associates: one was a young woman with short blond hair, the other was a man with a beatnik-looking goatee. The young woman flashed a paper to Sweetums and told him, “We’re V.I.P.”
Sweetums looked on the paper and acknowledged the credentials. “That’s what it says, alright. Go right on in!”
Mr. Lee caught a fleeting glimpse of that paper the woman showed Sweetums and noticed there was no printing on it. “Hey, wait a sec!” he bellowed as the woman and her friend with the goatee walked into the club. “What happened to your ‘perfect reading skills’? Didn’t you see that paper was blank?!”
“Duh…you might wanna get your eyes checked out, buddy,” Sweetums advised.
Mr. Lee couldn’t believe the night he was having. It didn’t get any better when Waldorf belittled him, “That’s the last time we bring you
into a cameo!”
“Gladly,” Mr. Lee rebuked. “Muppet Babies
was better than this
Robin remembered the stories his uncle, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Miss Piggy often shared with him about their time in 1981 London – how Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo were fresh new reporters for The Daily Chronicle
on their first scoop in interviewing Lady Holiday, who Miss Piggy pretended to be. It was the first time his uncle and Piggy ever met – and nearly the last time, after Piggy was arrested for “stealing” the real
Lady Holiday’s jewelry, a crime pinned on her by Lady Holiday’s crooked brother, Nicky.
“The Great Muppet Caper” was what they called it, and Robin was there to witness it all firsthand.
The Dubonnet Club was a lot bigger than his uncle described. It made sneaking past Sweetums and the front entrance that much easier. He knew the Doctor wouldn’t have approved of him leaving the TARDIS, in spite of her telling him not to, but he had to at least try and warn the 1981 counterparts of his uncle and their friends about Loki.
Weaving in and out between so many fancy-dressed people in sparkling gowns and pressed tuxedos, he finally spotted the Muppets he was looking for. They were sitting together at one of the tables closest to the dance floor. Thankfully, Loki was nowhere to be seen near them. Now’s my chance
, the little frog thought determinedly.
He quickly hopped over to their table, hearing his uncle gripe about the price of the club’s roast beef being the same as an Oldsmobile. “Uncle Kermit!” he called in a huff. “Boy, am I glad to find you
His uncle’s 1981 counterpart looked on him inquisitively. “I’m sorry, but…do I know you, little fella?”
“I-It’s me, Uncle Kermit – your nephew, Robin!”
“You have family here in London?” Piggy asked Kermit.
Kermit hesitated on his response. “Erm, not that I knew of.”
It soon dawned on Robin why
his uncle and his friends didn’t recognize him. “Of course! It’s 1981! We hadn’t met until a lot later in time!”
“Excuse me, young man,” Piggy addressed Robin. “But aren’t you a little young to be in a nightclub without adult supervision?”
“That’s not what’s important right now,” Robin retorted. “You guys gotta get out of here! That man you came into the club with – Loki – he’s not who you think he is! He’s a…”
“I’m a what?”
Robin froze when he heard Loki’s voice speak right beside him. There the God of Mischief stood, having returned from wherever in the club he went (possibly to see if the real
Lady Holiday had arrived). He looked down on Robin from his imposing height with that devilish grin of his. It made the panicked Robin scurry away, not saying another word.
“Somebody really should find that kid’s parents,” the concerned Fozzie suggested.
“Yes, someone should,” Loki coldly concurred, his gaze locked on the fleeing little frog and his suspicion aroused from how he knew who he was.
It was a lot busier in the Dubonnet Club than the Doctor or Tony anticipated. With so many fancy-dressed people and the fact that Loki wouldn’t have just rolled into the club wearing his Asgardian garb, it was going to be a challenge to scout him out.
“Your call, Doc,” Stark said, following her lead.
“Right,” the Doctor nodded. “We’ll split up and search. When one of us finds him, don’t hesitate to make a move. He’s gonna be a tricky one.”
Stark approved of the plan, putting on his special-made sunglasses. They housed an A.I. system, allowing its user to communicate and use the A.I. for a multitude of tasks. This pair specifically housed F.R.I.D.A.Y., Stark’s Irish-accented A.I. program. Though F.R.I.D.A.Y. was only in the high-tech glasses, her connection allowed for Stark to commune with someone as he scouted for Loki.
“What’s the floor plan like on this place, F.R.I.D.A.Y.?”
“One entrance/exit in the front, one in the back, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a V.I.P. lounge, one ballroom, and a storage closet.”
“Mmm-hmm. And none of them would happen to have a god hiding in one?”
“Unfortunately, boss, you didn’t program me for ‘god detection’.”
“Remind me to give you an upgrade when we get back.”
“However, I do
detect another person who might be of interest for you.”
Stark watched as the A.I. interface drew his attention to one of two individuals that walked into the Dubonnet Club. One of them was the glossy Lady Holiday herself. The man who accompanied her was whom F.R.I.D.A.Y. highlighted on the interface.
“Is that who I think it is?” Stark asked F.R.I.D.A.Y.
“It certainly is, boss…Nicholas Holiday.”
A burst of new resolve sparked in Tony as he gazed on Holiday’s smug face through the user interface, seizing in a rare opportunity. “Track his movements, F.R.I.D.A.Y.”
“I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of temporal paradoxes, boss.”
“Trust me, F.R.I.D.A.Y. History will thank me for what I have in mind.”
The Doctor couldn’t afford to forget why she was at the Dubonnet Club, but she also couldn’t help to take in such a festive atmosphere. It played with all her senses. The smell of the exquisite cuisines, the sound of the swinging band, and the sight of the high-class architecture.
And, of course, there were the drinks being served.
She snatched one off a tray as it was carried by one of the waiters. She took a big sip and immediately spat it back into the glass, once she realized it was champagne. “Ugh! Don’t like champagne,” she griped to no one in particular. “Not even when it’s not the right year!”
Suddenly, she heard a familiar voice shout out, “You know, if you put enough sugar in this stuff, it tastes just like ginger ale.”
It was a brilliant idea that the Doctor was eager to try out, until she recognized the voice as that of Fozzie Bear – or his 1981 counterpart. The Doctor spotted him sitting at one of the tables closest to the dance floor, sipping on his sugar-filled glass of champagne/ginger ale and watching Kermit and Piggy share in a romantic waltz to the band’s serenading tune of “The First Time It Happens.”
Only Loki sat with the bear, eyeing Lady Holiday, who sat a few booths near theirs with her scheming brother, Nicky. It seems like there’s a lot of suspicious activity floating around this club tonight
, the Doctor mentally reflected.
“It’s impolite to spy on others.”
The Doctor jolted when she heard the voice of Loki speak out from behind her, twirling to see the God of Mischief standing there behind her. She gazed back to the “Loki” sitting with Fozzie, realizing that it was just a conjured illusion, either to get close enough to Lady Holiday or corner the snooping Doctor.
“Clever,” the Doctor half-heartedly applauded.
“Thank you,” Loki returned in the same demeanor. “Now then…tell me why
you’re spying on me.”
“I’d rather not,” the Doctor refused.
Loki cackled. “Ohh, I was hoping you’d say that.” He materialized his scepter in his hand and tapped its razor-blade tip to the Doctor’s chest. The hazel in her eyes turned to a fluorescent blue color, signifying a successful enthrallment. “Let’s try this again, shall we? Why are you spying on me?”
The Doctor put up a struggle to respond, much to the confusion of Loki, who had never witnessed such an effect in his usage of the Mind Stone. The God of Mischief’s bewilderment was amplified as he saw that fluorescent blue color rescind from the Doctor’s eyes, returning to their usual hazel color.
Followed by a quick gasp, the Doctor regained her senses, smirking at the god in front of her. “Nice try,” she told him. “But you’re gonna need two
of those scepters, if you plan on mind-controlling me
Loki couldn’t quite figure what she meant by that. “What are you? Why have you come for me?”
“That’s just it – I’m not here for you,” the Doctor said. “I’m here for the Mind and Space Stones you have.”
“Ah, yes,” Loki smiled, figuring it all out. “You’ve come to stop me from abusing them, is that it?”
“That and to stop Thanos from using them.”
Loki was crestfallen when she uttered that name. “That’s a futile effort.”
“Maybe. But we’re not lettin’ you leave this club with them.”
“I’m sorry. Did you say ‘we’? You and who else?”
It was at that moment Loki heard a mechanical whirring noise near his left ear. He didn’t have to turn very far to see the familiar repulsor gauntlet aimed straight for his head. Beyond it, he could see Tony Stark, not entirely clad in his armor – just his left hand and forearm.
“Her and me
,” Tony said in response to Loki’s inquiry.
“Pleasure to see you again, Tony,” Loki said, frozen in place.
“It’s ‘Mr. Stark’ to you, Prancer. Now hand over the Stones, so we won’t ruin the frog and the pig’s nice lil’ dance number.”
“Speaking of frogs, I believe there’s one other the both of you should be concerned about.”
Stark and the Doctor noticed Loki nodding in one direction near their location. Initially, they were both hesitant to look, thinking it to be a ruse. But they gave in and turned their heads to see yet another one of Loki’s allusions – or possibly the real
Loki – holding Robin at bay with his scepter.
“I-I’m sorry, Doctor,” the little frog whimpered.
Although the Doctor was displeased to see him there, she was even more so to see Loki holding him hostage. Turning back to the Loki that she and Stark had cornered, she assertively demanded, “Let him go.”
“First, let me
go…with the Stones,” Loki countered.
“Not gonna happen,” Tony denied.
“Then I guess I’ll be enjoying frog legs while I’m still here,” Loki sneered.
Their dispute came to an abrupt conclusion once the entrance to the Dubonnet Club exploded inward, shooting debris and the body of Sweetums into the establishment. All activity, both festive and hostile, ceased as soon as Thanos entered with his Infinity Gauntlet – now fused with the Space, Time, Power and Reality Stones – and his hostages: Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter, Ryan, Yaz, and Graham.