Doctor Who and the Marvelous Muppets

muppetwriter

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Aaaand we're back! Sorry it's taken me so long to return to this story, but I have some fantastic news: the FINAL ACT is here! And it begins now with this chapter! :smile:
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Within a dark alley, a faint light blinked in and out of thin air. It was soon followed by the ghostly outline of a blue police box, fading in sequence with the light above it, until it finally solidified there in the alley. Its seven passengers stepped out through the double doors, opening in the opposite direction from what was directed on the instruction posted upon the left side door.

“Well, it sure does look like New York City,” Miss Piggy observed of their surroundings. “It’s just as filthy, that’s for sure.” She was certain she might have stepped on a wad of bubble gum (though it didn’t smell like it).

“It doesn’t feel like it to me,” Wanda said.

“What does it feel like?” the Doctor asked her.

“Like…we’re somewhere else.”

Pepe groaned. “So, we’re still not home? Oh, boy. I’ll be inside the weird box, watchin’ fantasy football, okay.”

“Not so fast, shrimp!” Piggy restrained him.

Suddenly, the Doctor spotted a husband-and-wife couple walking by the alley. They were Muppet canines, each of different breeds. “Uh, excuse me?” he beckoned their attention, and they responded by looking his way. “Ah, yes. So sorry to bother you. But would you mind telling us where—?”

“What are they, Herb?!” the wife screeched in terror.

“I don’t know, Marge!” Herb answered, sounding more terrified than his wife. “But we better get outta here before they come anywhere near us!”

The Doctor and his companions watched in confusion as the mortified couple ran away. “Well, that wasn’t much help,” Piggy said of the brief encounter. They then walked out of the dark alley, getting a better view of the new world they arrived in. The entire city had a 1930s motif and was occupied by dogs of various shapes, sizes, and colors.

The presence of the seven interdimensional travelers quickly attracted the attention of the Dog City residents – including the local authorities. “You there! Stop!” one of the officers demanded before blowing his whistle.


However, there was no sound that came out of it.

“I think his whistle is broken,” Beauregard surmised.

Upon closer observation, Vision realized, “No…he’s blowing a dog whistle.”

“Do we still run?” Wanda inquired.

“Basically…yes!” the Doctor verified, and so they ran.

The Dog City police officers chased them on foot. The pursuit stirred quite a bit of chaos among the blocks that the two parties passed through, either from the otherworldly appearances of the seven travelers or the many fruits and vegetables stands that were accidentally trashed by the pursing officers.

It gave the seven travelers an advantage, as it put some distance between them and the police. When they happened across an abandoned building, one trench-coated canine with a pink bow stuck his head out through the front door and whispered to them, “Quick! In here!” He was the only Dog City resident who didn’t appear to be frightened by their appearances.

With not much of a choice, they followed the trench-coated canine into the abandoned building. “Thanks for your help,” the Doctor told their new ally.

“No prob,” the trench-coated canine acknowledged.

The Doctor and his companions discovered that the dog wasn’t alone in the building. There was a female collie with him. “The coast is all clear, Ace,” she notified. “Those cops were thrown off by the scent.”

“Good work, Colleen,” Ace told her. “This former cheese factory is the perfect hideout. You can still smell the limburger.”


“Is that what that smell is?” Pepe said. “I thought one of us cut one – and I don’t mean the cheese, okay.”

“Why did you help us?” Vision asked Ace and Colleen.

“You guys are clearly friends of Scott Lang,” Ace replied. “Who else would walk these streets with those crazy mugs?”

Wanda beamed with surprise. “Scott’s here?!”

“Who’s Scott?” the Doctor asked.

“The Ant-Man,” Wanda elaborated. “We fought together at the Leipzig-Halle Airport, during the clash over the Accords. Vision was there as well.”

“Yes,” the synthezoid confirmed. “If I recall of the incident, I phased through his body when he was in his giant form.”

“If he’s here, then he’s just as lost as we are,” the Doctor inferred. He then turned his attention to Ace and Colleen and asked, “Where is he?”

“He was kidnapped by Them and his gang,” Colleen disclosed.

Who and his gang?” Beauregard asked.

“No, not ‘Who’ – Them!” Colleen contradicted.

“That’s what I’m asking you,” Beauregard said.

“Who? Me?” Ace stepped in.

“No, her,” Beauregard pointed to Colleen.

“She’s a Yu, too – by marriage,” Ace told him.

“I’m married to her?” an extremely baffled Beauregard queried.

“No, I’m married to her!” Ace retorted in frustration. “She’s now ‘Colleen Yu’.”

“Why is she calling me?” Beauregard asked.

“CAN WE GET BACK TO THE STORY ALREADY?!?!” Piggy bellowed, visibly infuriated by the sudden routine.

After Piggy’s outburst, Colleen got back to the topic at hand and divulged, “Bugsy Them is the leader of the gang here in Dog City. He got a hold of Scott Lang the moment he laid eyes on him, and now he’s planning on showcasing the poor fella at the Dog House like some sort of sideshow freak.”

“The Dog House?” Piggy questioned.

“Dog City’s most popular restaurant,” Colleen detailed.

Piggy shook her head in disgust. “No originality whatsoever.”

“Regardless, we need to get into this ‘Dog House’ and free Mr. Lang from his captors,” the Doctor established.

“Well, you’re not getting in with those mugs,” Colleen indicated. “You’re gonna need disguises.”

“Good thing there are plenty in this abandoned factory to go around,” Ace said.

He approached one of the crates, prying it open to reveal it was full of dog costumes, a few of which were of appropriate human size. Seeing them, however, confused Wanda. “I thought you said this used to be a cheese factory,” she mentioned to Ace and Colleen.

“It also used to be a costume factory,” Ace said.

“That made dog costumes for dogs?” Pepe noted.

Ace and Colleen nodded affirmatively. “Of course!”

“This place is really weird,” Piggy muttered.

-------------------------


Ace’s plan for getting into the Dog House was a terrible one. Regardless, the costumes that Piggy, Pepe, Beauregard, Vision, Wanda, and the Doctor all wore managed to fool the majority of the Dog City residents that passed them. The only one not in costume was Animal, who was pretty used to acting like a dog already. Beauregard kept control of his chain leash.

The disguises even managed to fool the guard dog at the Dog House entrance, though he did bother to ask, “Hey, why youse guys not wearin’ any clothes? It ain’t that kinda party!” Nevertheless, he allowed them inside.

The Dog House was packed with city residents interested in seeing Bugsy Them’s “freak of nature.” The performance stage had a large red curtain hanging just for the evening’s event. Bugsy himself appeared on it to commence with the entertainment. “Good evenin’, ladies and gents! Youse all been gathered here tonight for some senseless entertainment. Well, it don’t get any more senseless than this. I present to youse the one and only Hairless Freak of Dog City!”

The curtain parted to reveal the sideshow attraction: the “Ant-Man,” Scott Lang.

He stood in a cage made specifically for him, accommodating his height and width, although there was not much elbow room. He looked miserable and humiliated – and rightfully so – as the audience of dog-people gaped in awe and disgust of his human appearance. He was thankful Bugsy still allowed him to wear his Ant-Man suit.

“Poor Scott,” Wanda pitied him. “Why doesn’t he just shrink or grow his way out of this mess?”

“Something is wrong with his suit,” Vision analyzed.

“You can tell that from underneath a ridiculous costume?!” Piggy inquired, sounding both amazed and revolted.

“Let’s get him outta there,” Ace said. “You ready, Doc?”

“Ready.” The Doctor gave a firm nod, slightly shaking the head of his costume.

Ace and Colleen dashed to the stage, standing defiantly in front of Scott’s cage. “Alright! Show’s over!” Colleen declared.

“Hey now, what’s goin’ on here?!” Bugsy growled. “You got no business disruptin’ my business, Yu and Yu!”

“We’ve got plenty of business, Bugsy!” Ace growled back. “You got no right caging this fella and putting him on display!”

“I gots plenty of rights, ‘cause this freak’s got no rights of its own!”

“Hey, buddy, I’m standing right here!” Scott grumbled. “Now I know how Charlton Heston felt in Planet of the Apes.”


“We’re gonna stop your sideshow attraction before it ever takes off, Bugsy,” Colleen avowed.

“Oh, yeah?” Bugsy challenged. “Youse and what army?”

“This army!” the Doctor exclaimed before he, Wanda, Vision, Piggy, Beauregard, and Pepe removed their disguises, exposing themselves to every dog in the restaurant that began to panic from their presence.

“Eek! More hairless freaks!”

“And they got some sort of pig, gopher, and shrimp with them!”

Pepe presumed that he fell into that last classification. “I am not a shrimp! I am a king pra—!”

“SHOOT THEM!” Bugsy ordered, only to find himself being the target of his own gang, as they fired on him instead. “Not ‘Them’ as in me! ‘Them’ as in those freaks over there!” He pointed to the Doctor and his companions for emphasis.

The gang turned their Tommy Guns to their intended targets.

Before they could pull the triggers, Wanda used her psionic abilities to disarm them. Bugsy’s gang were spooked by the display of power, running out of the Dog House along with all of the frightened attendees.

“Hey! Where youse guys goin’?!” Bugsy barked. “Youse gonna let a parlor trick scare you like a bunch of fraidy cats?!”

“HIIIIIIEEEEEE-YAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”

Before Bugsy knew it, he was on the receiving end of a massive karate chop courtesy of Miss Piggy. The mad gangster bulldog was flown across the restaurant, violently smacking against Scott’s cage. The impact broke the lock, subsequently freeing Lang.

“You guys are lifesavers!” He praised his rescuers. “I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to see people that look like me!” He looked to Piggy, Pepe, Beauregard, and Animal and told them, “No offense.”

“None taken, hairless freak,” Pepe snickered.

“Mr. Lang, I’m the Doctor. I need you to tell me how exactly you got to this dimension. It may help us discover a way for all of us to get back home.”


“It was an experiment Bunsen and Beaker conducted on multiverse exploration – something about a guy with a long scarf that gave them the equation they’d been searching for, thirtysomething years ago.”

The Doctor’s eyes flared with recognition. “Adric’s Quantum Realm equation!”

“What?” Scott frowned.

“Do you still remember it?”

“N-No…but my suit records everything. It might have—WHOA!” Scott jumped in surprise once the Doctor began scanning his Ant-Man suit with his sonic screwdriver. “W-What is that thing?!” He glanced over at Wanda – the only person he was previously acquainted with among his rescuers. “Who is this guy?” he asked her, but she seemed too preoccupied with inspecting Bugsy Them’s unconscious body.

“He’s a man you can trust,” Vision told him.

The synthezoid’s company only unsettled Lang even more, as it sparked an uncomfortable memory. “You’re not gonna p-phase through my body like Patrick Swayze again, are you?”

Before Vision could answer, the Doctor finished his scan and told Scott, “Your suit’s sustained some damage on your journey, Mr. Lang.”

“Yeah, that’d explain why I can’t change my size,” Scott acknowledged. “It doesn’t explain why I can’t reach Bunsen and Beaker. I’ve tried to call them to bring me back home, but they’re not answering.”

“Well, they very well may have given us our one-way ticket to your Earth,” the Doctor noted, pocketing away his sonic screwdriver as he began leading the group out of the restaurant. “Let’s get back to the TARDIS.”

As most of them started to leave, Vision noticed Wanda crouching beside Bugsy.

“Wanda?” Vision summoned, but Wanda remained intently staring over Bugsy. Curious, he inched closer to her and asked, “Wanda, what’s the matter?” At close glance, he noticed her slip something off Bugsy’s paw. She finally looked up at him, smiling as she held what appeared to be Bugsy’s ring.

Embedded into the ring was a glowing orange gem…

The Soul Stone.



TO BE CONTINUED...
 

muppetwriter

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“So…can I get you ladies anything? Water, juice…a cookie?”

Hunter C-88 and Minuteman 20122016 stood taciturnly in the console room of Kara’s Type-Z TARDIS. They hadn’t said a word or moved from the spot where they stood since departing from the TVA. Kara and the Doctor went to change clothes and, when they returned a full hour later, the TVA agents were still there as they left them.

Kara could not have felt more awkward around the two.


“Man! The Time Variance Authority really did a number on them, didn’t they?” Kara said to the Doctor, who was tampering away near the Type-Z’s control console. “Why did they wipe their memories?”

“TVA Protocol,” the Doctor replied. “Their dimension was purged some time ago, and they were the only refugees of it. For all intents and purposes, they shouldn’t even exist right now.”

“Any clue on why their dimension was purged?” Kara inquired.

“TVA keeps everything redacted, so there’s no telling what exactly occurred—AH-HA!” That last exclamation spurred from her completion of the thing that she had been fiddling with for the past half hour. It was so small that Kara could hardly catch a glimpse of it as the Doctor brought it over to Hunter C-88 and Minuteman 20122016. “Take off your helmets.”

For the first time since Kara met them, she noticed displays of emotion from the two TVA agents, as they expressed confusion and concern from the Doctor’s instruction. “Why?” Hunter C-88 asked.

“No reason,” the Doctor said. “Just wanna make you both more comfortable.”

Her reason seemed fallible, but the agents nonetheless surrendered their helmets to her. The Doctor handed one to Kara, along with a small silver disc. “What’s this?” Kara asked.

“You’ll see,” the Doctor said. “Place it inside the helmet – it’ll magnetize.”

Kara followed her instruction and, sure enough, the silver disc magnetized along the metallic interior structure of the helmet. The Doctor did the same to the other before handing them both back to the TVA agents. Shortly after Hunter C-88 and Minuteman 20122016 put them back on, both women suddenly went rigid and began screaming in agony, clutching the sides of their helmets. The moment only passed for a second, rendering the agents down on one knee, breathless.

Kara observed it all with perplexing alarm. “What did we just do to them?”

“Gave them back their identities,” the Doctor told her. “That disc we used was Chameleon Arch tech – rebooted their minds to filter out all the TVA gunk and put back what was previously taken out.”

“Where are we?” They suddenly heard Ciciley Livingston (formerly “Hunter C-88”) as she stood back up, warily gazing around her current surroundings.

“Are we still in that weird blue box?” asked Agent X (formerly “Minuteman 20122016”).

The Doctor shrugged at X’s remark. “Didn’t help much with their manners,” she whispered to Kara. Tending to the recovering Ciciley and Agent X, she said, “To answer your rude question: yes, you’re still in that ‘weird blue box,’ but it’s different from the one you were in before.”

“Who are you?” Agent X asked her.

“It’s me – the Doctor. The chap you met in Wakanda, wearing the suit and sandshoes?”

Ciciley questionably gazed up and down at the Northern English brunette in front of her. “Are you the same person? Or is it just a title you’re carrying on?”

“Hold all your questions for later, Agent Livingston,” the Doctor urged. “We’re in the middle of an important mission and the clock’s ticking. My other self’s already got a good start on findin’ the Soul Stone, in addition to havin’ the Mind Stone.”

“That reminds me,” Kara said. “I might know someone I once encountered before in this Earth-M universe that I think can help us in finding the other Stones.”


“Good,” the Doctor approved. “Who is it?”

Kara smirked. “Someone you’ve met before. She once told me how you two were trapped in some sort of labyrinth.”

Working her magic at the controls of her own TARDIS, Kara brought them out of the infinite dimensional corridor and to the Earth-M dimension, specifically the New York Sanctum Sanctorum. They stepped out to see a middle-aged woman in mystic garb waiting for them, as if she had expected their arrival.

“Hello, Sarah,” Kara greeted her.

“Hello, Woman-I’ve-Yet-To-Meet,” Sarah returned. “You’re a whole year early…or am I a whole year early?”

“Anyone wanna explain what’s goin’ on?!” Ciciley griped.

“Oh, it’s a whole ‘time’ thing,” Sarah casually waved off. “I assume you’re here to fix everything that Thanos has broken.”

“Yes, we are,” the Doctor validated. “Is Doctor Strange here? His knowledge of the Infinity Stones will be of great help to us.”


Her question made Sarah sulk in despair. “Strange was…lost…along with half the population of the universe, thanks to Thanos. In his absence, I’ve been keeping watch over the Sanctum in the last five years.”

“Five years?!” Agent X cried. “It’s been five years since we left Earth?!”

“Jeez,” Ciciley groaned.

The Doctor didn’t appear to be too perturbed by this. “We can still get him back – get everyone back. We just have to retrieve the other Stones from across the multiverse. Adric, an old mate of mine, solved the Quantum Realm equation. With that equation, a bit of tech, and a bit of magic, we can get the Stones from whatever realms they’re in, bring them here, and snap everyone back!”

It sounded insane enough to work to Sarah. “I’m in,” she agreed, “especially if it means bringing back Stephen.”

“Brilliant!” the Doctor cheered. “Now we just have to corroborate each realm with the remaining Stones we need.”

“No sweat,” Sarah said. “I’ve learned a trick that allows me to peer into the infinite worlds. Give me a few hours, and I’ll tell ya which of those has the specific Infinity Stones we’re looking for.”

-----------------------​

VWORP! VWORP! VWORP!

With the data from Scott Lang’s Ant-Man suit, the Doctor was able bring his TARDIS to what he designated to be New York City of Earth-M. Shortly after materializing, he popped his head out to examine the people and places, making a mental checklist as his eyes darted about.

No surplus population of walking, talking dogs in 1930s zoot suits.

No Ebenezer Scrooge or Gonzo Dickens.

Only humans and Muppets living among each other like normal.


“I think we’ve finally made it back,” he alerted those inside his TARDIS.

Hearing this possible verification from him, Miss Piggy brushed past him and walked out of the TARDIS. Just as she had done before in Dog City, she took a whiff of the air. “Well, I don’t smell dog poop anymore,” she observed. Her snout twinged as it picked up on a familiar aroma. “Wait a sec. I know that smell. That’s…That’s…PIZZA!”


The Doctor smelled it as well. In his examination of their surroundings, he did notice that they had landed near a pizza joint. “Ah! There’s where it’s coming from,” he directed Miss Piggy’s attention to the establishment. “PizzeRizzo! Molto bene!

“Well, which is it?” Pepe asked, stepping out of the TARDIS along with the others. “Is it ‘PizzeRizzo’ or ‘Molto Bene’?”

The Doctor shook his head. “N-No, Pepe. Molto bene means ‘very well’ in Italian. I was being clever.”

Pepe shrugged. “Not clever enough for the rest of us to understand jou, okay.”

“Story of my lives,” the Doctor bemoaned.

After stepping out of the blue police box, Scott further analyzed the street corner where PizzeRizzo was established. “Hey, I know this area,” he said. “This is where Pete’s Luncheonette is.” Looking directly at the pizza joint, he pointed to it and added, “That’s where it’s supposed to be.”

“Hey, you’re right,” Beauregard acknowledged. “We have lunch at Pete’s every day at this corner. Why’s it now a pizza place?”

“Could we still be in another dimension?” Wanda pondered the possibility.

“Only one way to find out,” the Doctor stated. He walked right into PizzeRizzo’s with his companions following him.

The pizzeria bustled with activity – quite the popular hangout for Muppets and humans alike. The walls were decorated with photos of known New York locations, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, and international places like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There were also framed photographs of Muppet rats; one hung largest over them all was that of Rizzo, the former waiter of Pete’s Luncheonette.

“Ritzo runs this place?!” a stunned Pepe exclaimed.

“Well, I lost my appetite,” Piggy groaned.


“Yo!” They heard someone call out from the mass crowd of customers. Scurrying in between them to approach the Doctor and the others, they saw it to be Rizzo himself, wearing a white t-shirt with the logo of his pizzeria printed on the front. He specifically focused his overwhelming delight on Piggy, Beauregard, Pepe, and Animal. “You guys are still alive! Where’ve ya been dah last five years?!”

“Five years?!?!” the group cried out in shock.

Dios mio! We’ve been gone for nearly half a decade!” Pepe reflected. “That’s ten times as many Netflix shows I’ll have to binge, okay!”

“Rizzo, what happened while we were gone?” Scott asked. “How did you buy out Pete’s place?”

Rizzo looked at them long and hard, seeing how genuine their surprise was. “Uh…wow…Youse guys ain’t kiddin’ around, are ya? You have been out of dah lop for a while, haven’t ya? How ‘bout we sit down over ‘ere and I’ll explain it all to youse in detail.”

He invited them to sit at an available booth in a quieter area of the pizzeria, away from where the Electric Mayhem – who worked at PizzeRizzo as the establishment’s exclusive entertainment – performed. Animal joined with his old bandmates mid-performance, much to their blissful astonishment, seeing their drummer return after five whole years.


Rizzo filled in Piggy, Beauregard, Pepe, and their (sorta) human friends on the events that occurred in their five-year absence. He began with what happened shortly after they left Wakanda – half of the universe’s population had been wiped out by Thanos. Among the casualties were Pete and Jenny. Following their deaths, Rizzo – in accordance to Pete’s will – became proprietor of the luncheonette, thus transforming it into his own establishment, run entirely by rats. It proved to be a popular endeavor with great entertainment, karaoke, and a celebrity endorsement from the Hulk.

“The Hulk?!” Scott reacted with amusement. “Isn’t that a bit…risky?”

“No way,” Rizzo remarked. “Ya see, he’s—”

“YOU’RE ALIVE!!!”

Before Rizzo could go into explanation, he was interrupted by Gonzo, who entered the pizzeria with a very large and green individual in casual clothes to fit his frame. As they both approached the booth, Piggy, Pepe, Beauregard, the Doctor, Wanda, Vision, and Scott were astounded to see the large, green individual with Gonzo was a rather intelligent-looking and much calmer Hulk.

“Dr. Banner?” Vision questioned.

“I am so confused,” Scott uttered.

“You and me both,” Wanda concurred.


Banner elatedly waved and smiled to the group. “You guys really are alive,” he said in relief. It was bizarre to see him speaking so coherently in his Hulk form. “This calls for a celebration! Hey, Riz, you still got that special on the menu?”

“Comin’ right up, buddy!” Rizzo happily carried out the order.

After his departure from the booth, Gonzo took his place in conversing with his friends, who he believed to have been lost. “Where did you go? We thought Thanos got you guys, too!”

Neither the Doctor nor the others were even sure how to explain their recent excursion to the weirdo. A heavily distraught Scott instead diverged from the topic to ask Banner and Gonzo, “I-Is there someplace where you can…where I can see all of those who were lost?”

“Um, yeah,” Banner confirmed. “There’s a wall for the vanished – a memorial they keep downtown. But that one’s only for the New York area. If you’re curious to know anywhere else to go, the public library’s got records on all the other names.”

“Thanks,” Scott said, urgently leaving the table. “I’ll see you guys later.”

The others watched him depart from the pizzeria in a rush. Noting how anxious he appeared, Gonzo wondered, “Gosh…he must’ve lost someone really important to him in the Blip.”

“I’m sorry, the what?” The Doctor cringed.

“The Blip,” Gonzo repeated. “It’s what we call what happened to everyone. They just ‘blipped’ out of existence.”

“Who came up with that ridiculous name?” Pepe questioned. “Sounds like that noise jou hear in the cartoons.”

“Hey, Professor!” Rizzo called from the kitchen. “It’s gonna take an hour at least on that special!”

“No prob, Riz,” Banner accepted. “Gonzo and I will kill time with some karaoke.”

“Thought you’d never ask!” Gonzo jubilated. As he left the booth with Banner, he told his friends, “You guys are gonna love this! We do this every time the Professor’s here – and the crowd eats it up more than the pizza!”

They watched Gonzo and Banner head over to the stage where the Electric Mayhem performed, taking position at a couple of mic stands, one of which was modified for Banner’s Hulk-sized hands. While the lights in the pizzeria dimmed, Dr. Teeth played Gonzo and Banner into a jovial duet…


Gonzo:
Okay.
It’s like the perfect match
The missing piece, the other half
Peas in a pod, got each other’s back
Yeah, this is the perfect match


Gonzo and Banner:
There’s never been friends like us
No, there’s never been friends like us
When we’re together, it’s like a million bucks
‘Cause there’s never been friends like us


Banner:
It’s an adventure, no doubt

Animal:
NO DOUBT! NO DOUBT!

Banner:
For whatever, I’m down

Dr. Teeth:
Yeah, I’m down! Woo!

Banner:
Highs and lows, sun or clouds
Yeah, I’ll be there to help you out


Gonzo and Banner:
There’s never been friends like us
No, there’s never been friends like us
When we’re together, it’s like a million bucks
‘Cause there’s never been friends like us

During the karaoke performance by the weirdo and the Hulk, the Doctor leaned towards Wanda and Vision and said, “We have to arrange a meeting with the Avengers, whichever of them are left. With Adric’s Quantum Realm equation and the two Infinity Stones in our possession, there’s a chance we can gather the others in the same way.”

“You are supposing the other realities will have them?” Vision asked.

“We were lucky to find this one when we did,” Wanda told the Doctor, hovering the Soul Stone above the palm of her right hand. “Finding the others across the multiverse is like finding a needle in a haystack.”

“I know,” the Doctor documented her concern. “But I have this feeling that I’m already one step ahead of myself on this.”

Gonzo:
EVERYBODY SING WITH US!

There's never been friends like us (Never been friends like us)
No, there's never been friends like us (Never been friends like us)
When we're together, it's like a million bucks
'Cause there's never been friends like us
'Cause there's never been friends like us
There's never been friends like us



TO BE CONTINUED...
 

muppetwriter

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If there was one thing that had not changed in the five years since “The Snap” (as the public christened it), it was how busy The Daily Chronicle was on a basic afternoon. Kara, Ciciley, Agent X, and the Doctor stopped by the newspaper to get an update on Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo. According to the TemPads that Ciciley and X acquired under their TVA identities, they were returned to their point in Earth-M’s timeline along with Tony Stark, shortly after the Doctor’s arrest.

They were fortunate to have run right into Fozzie, just as they arrived in the bullpen. “Doctor!” he cheered the moment he saw her. “You’re alive!”

“Of course, I am,” the Doctor smirked. “Can’t get rid of me that easily.”

“I thought you might’ve been probed or something,” Fozzie remarked.

“Fozzie, I was arrested by multidimensional police, not abducted by aliens,” the Doctor clarified. “Anyway, that’s not the reason we’re here. Are Kermit and Gonzo around?”

Her inquiry made Fozzie more than a little anxious. “Erm…well…a lot has happened since the last time we saw you.”

“Like what?” The Doctor inquired.

“For starters, Gonzo’s running PizzeRizzo with Rizzo, and Kermit’s…” Fozzie hesitated for a brief moment, choking on his words. “Kermit’s not been the same since…” The bear fought to explain, clearly emotional on the topic. “He went back to the swamp in Florida. He’s lived a life of solitude there in the last five years.”

Hearing this made the Doctor feel more guilt than she already had in her. “I’m going to see him,” she declared before turning to Kara, Ciciley, and X and introducing them to Fozzie. “These are a few new friends I made on the way back. Kara has her own TARDIS that she can take you to the New Avengers Facility in.”

“Why are we going to the New Avengers Facility?” Fozzie asked.

“Because we have a plan to bring everyone back,” Kara told him. “To undo what Thanos did to this universe.”

“Really?!” an overjoyed Fozzie reacted, pumping his furry fist in the air. “Aw, right! That sounds terrific!” He was struck so much with motivation that he was reminded of something important. “Oh, hey! I almost forgot to tell ya: your TARDIS is here!”

“My TARDIS? Here? In this building?”

“No, no. Not here,” Fozzie elaborated. “It’s in the old Muppet Theater near Broadway. I had Mr. Stark help me to bring it there for safe keeping.”

----------------------------​

Thanks to Fozzie’s update on the location of her TARDIS, the Doctor went to the derelict Muppet Theater and stepped into her ship for the first time in years. Immediately, she left New York City and headed for the Florida swamp. Somehow, there were preset coordinates inputted in the TARDIS database, and she was automatically brought to a lakeside cabin residence.


“I thought I heard a familiar wheezing sound close by,” a flamboyant voice greeted her arrival. It was Tony Stark, who stepped out of the cabin and approached the Doctor and her Gallifreyan vessel. “I see those coordinates I entered worked to perfection.”

“That was you?” The Doctor responded with amusement. “How did you pull that off?”

Stark shrugged. “It’s impressive what you can do in eight hours, twelve days, seven months, and five years.”

“Aren’t you supposed to begin with the years before the months, days, and hours?”

“I guess I picked up a few habits from our amphibious swamp dweller…who I presume you’re here for.”

The Doctor sighed, briefly distraught over the idea of facing Kermit again.

And then she spotted a small child with a blue-and-gold Iron Man helmet emerge from the cabin behind Tony. “And who is this?” the Doctor asked with an attentive smile.

Stark looked down, detecting the child’s presence. “Oh, this? This is a special creation of mine that I made in-between tinkering with your TARDIS. I had a little help from Pepper, of course.” He then crouched beside the helmeted child (who couldn’t have been no older than five) and told her, “Morgan H. Stark, you should not be wearing that. It’s part of a special anniversary gift I made for Mom.” He gently removed the helmet from the child’s head, revealing the beautiful face of a girl.

“Who’s that?” Morgan asked of the Doctor.

“She’s a friend of Daddy’s who’s come to talk to Kermit,” Tony said. “She’s the Doctor.”

“She’s going to help Kermit get better?” Morgan asked.

“Yeah,” Tony replied. “We hope so.”



----------------------------​

After sharing some lunch with Tony, Pepper, and their daughter Morgan, the Doctor headed out with Stark to kayak through the swamp to reach Kermit’s abode. Along the way, the Doctor learned a little more as to why Tony and his family were staying near the swamp, which was mostly to offer their support to the otherwise distant Kermit. When the Doctor shared with him her plan to retrieve all the Infinity Stones from throughout the multiverse, Stark was reserved.

“Any other day, I’d call what you’re attempting an ‘exotic suicide method’,” he expressed. “But, after five years of exploring what that crazy ship of yours is capable of, I’m willing to believe anything.”

“So, you believe it’ll work?” The Doctor queried.

“I didn’t say that. Look, the fact remains that we messed up, thinking that we could collect all those Stones ourselves and save the universe. Now, you want to go back out and do it all over again? The same plan, only worse this time?”

“The odds will be more in our favor, with the entire Avengers team on our side.”

“And there-in lies another problem: facing Captain You-Know-Who again.”

“Tony, there’s more happening here than your petty squabbles – even Captain America would agree on that!”

“Oh, believe me, I know. But there’s something you need to understand, Doc – for the first time in my crazy life, I’m happy. I got a second chance right here, and I can’t roll the dice on it.”

“So, you think the world’s better off from the Snap?”

“I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I know I am.”

The Doctor scoffed. “And what about Kermit? You think he’ll feel the same?”

“How about you see for yourself?”

Their heated exchange came to a conclusion as their kayak ride grew closer to an area where they heard the strings of a banjo being strummed to a melody both Stark and the Doctor recognized.

However, this rendition of it was more depressing than aspiring…

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?
You’d think they’d get the idea
Rainbows are delusions, just pointless illusions
They’re nothing worth thinking about
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
Maybe they’re right, in reality
Such a stupid concept, the rainbow connection
The losers, the weepers, and me

Never had the Doctor heard such a gloomy execution of Kermit’s most iconic song. Tony, on the other hand, seemed to have – evident from what he afterwards shared with the Doctor: “You should’ve heard him last week. He butchered the heck out of Bein’ Green.”

Sure enough, Kermit was there at his usual spot in the swamp, sitting idle on a log and strumming his banjo. The moment she and Stark kayaked a little closer, the Doctor called to him, “Kermit…it’s me.”

Immediately, the frog ceased in his strumming and sat frozen on the log.

He was so stiff that he could almost pass for a stuffed doll, abandoned in the middle of the marsh, refusing to look in the Doctor’s direction.


“It’s good to see ya again,” the Doctor persisted in her address. “I know I’m the last person you’d want to—”

“There’s nothing we have to say to each other!” Kermit snapped.

“You have more than enough reason to be angry with me, Kermit…but if you still have any semblance of hope inside of you, you’ll hear me out.”

“Give me one good reason I should ever listen to you again!”

“Piggy’s alive.” Those two words froze Kermit even more. He finally brought himself to look the Doctor in the eye, seeing if she was speaking truthfully. “She’s with a younger regeneration of me right now, as we speak, helping me to bring everyone back…everyone including Robin.”

There was no reason the Doctor would lie about such a thing.

And if there was even the slightest chance of bringing Robin back, he wouldn’t pass on the opportunity.

“Whatever you got planned, I’ll only do it on one occasion,” Kermit proposed.

“Sure,” the Doctor agreed. “What is it?”

Kermit gazed on Tony and said, “He comes with us.”

The Doctor hopelessly looked to Stark. Their conversation prior to visiting Kermit basically settled where his stance was on the matter, and being Kermit’s emotional support wouldn’t do any favors. However, Stark surprised her as he offered to Kermit, “I’m always here for ya, buddy. Where you go, I go.”

“I thought you wanted to keep your second chance,” the Doctor recalled.

“Yep, well…I lost someone in that Snap, too…and I’ll do whatever it takes to bring him back,” Stark professed. “If we’ve got a shot at the Stones, then I need you to know my priorities. Bring back everyone we lost, hopefully. Keep what I found, definitely.”

“And let’s not die trying,” Kermit added.

The Doctor didn’t take long to consider their terms. “Deal.”

TO BE CONTINUED...
 

muppetwriter

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Kamar-Taj (Earth-616)

Sarah wasn’t sure what to expect when she stepped through the Sling Ring portal, moving from one universe into another. But she was pleasantly surprised to have seen how very similar the home and training grounds to the Masters of the Mystic Arts appeared in the Earth designated as “616.”

There were students training along the courtyard when she arrived. Her eyes searched for a specific one before she was addressed by a familiar voice: “May I help you?” Sarah turned to see Master Wong approach her.

Of course, this Wong never met Sarah.

For all she knew, Sarah Williams didn’t exist in this dimension.

“I’m here for someone,” Sarah told him. “She’s a student.”

Wong eyed her suspiciously. “I have not seen you around here before. By your robes, you appear to be a disciple. Which sanctum do you hail from?”

Sarah hesitated briefly to respond, but she decided on honesty: “New York.”

“Strange’s Sanctum?” Wong frowned. “That isn’t possible. Unless…” He glanced up and down at her, his suspicions rising. For a moment, Sarah worried for her safety. It was a risk coming to another universe altogether, but it was one many others would be taking real soon…and there was one person she needed from that world to play her own part in it.

After gazing at her for what seemed like minutes, Wong concluded, “You’re from another dimension.”

Sarah was thankful this Wong was as intuitive as his Earth-M counterpart.

“Guilty as charged,” she cheekily confirmed.

“I’m sure there’s a good reason you are here,” Wong said. “But you must realize the dangers that come with such a hazardous journey through the multiverse – believe me when I say that.”

“There are far greater dangers in my world to worry about, and there’s one girl whose existence I’ve sensed across the multiverse that I believe can help me.” Again, Sarah looked towards the courtyard and smiled when she noticed one young, white-robed novice struggling to create her own Sling Ring portal. “And I think I’ve just found her.”



----------------------------

New Avengers Facility – Upstate New York (Earth-M)

“Dum-de-dum-de-dum! Making a sandwich for Captain America!” Sam the Eagle gleefully hummed from the facility’s kitchen, whilst orchestrating a symphony of bread, jelly, and peanut butter. He brought it all together and cut it into the shape of Captain America’s shield emblem. “Perfect!”

He brought it into the next room where Steve Rogers himself and Natasha Romanoff were gathered along with all the other individuals involved in their impending mission: the two Doctors, Tony Stark, Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, Pepe the King Prawn, Bruce Banner, Vision, Wanda Maximoff, Scott Lang, Kara, Ciciley Livingston, and Agent X.

There were others called in as well, such as Clint Barton (who was more than ready to bring his family back from the Blip) and James Rhodes.

“One peanut butter and jelly sandwich for you, sir!” Sam announced as he set the plate of food in front of Steve.

Rogers looked on it quizzically. “Uh…I didn’t ask for a sandwich, Sam.”

“I did!” Natasha called, raising her hand.

Sam, however, pretended not to notice. “No…I specifically remember you requesting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on rye, sir.”

“Um, yeah, that was me – Natasha – right here,” Romanoff again called.

Sam groaned, removing the plate from Rogers’ vicinity and taking it over to Romanoff. Rather than delicately set the plate down in front of her, he dismissively threw it down with a loud clang. “Eat in good health,” he grumbled to her, returning to the kitchen.

Fozzie watched him retreat there, his curiosity piqued. “I had no idea Sam worked here. Is he your butler?”

Steve and Natasha simultaneously gave contradictory “Yes” and “No” responses.

“Sam only looks after everything when we’re not here,” Rogers explained. “With the way things have been since…well…you know, it only seemed reasonable to invite him to stay and be our caretaker. But he’s in no way our ‘butler’.”

“This sandwich says otherwise,” Natasha expressed with her mouth full in total satisfaction.

The sound of a loud jet engine of some kind rocketing close over the facility brought everyone’s attention outside where the Benatar – the ship of the Guardians of the Galaxy – landed on the premises. Aboard the ship were Rocket and Nebula, accompanied by John Crichton and Aeryn Sun. Crichton and Sun had also lost their crew (D’Argo, Chiana, Rygel, and Zhaan) in the Blip, just as Rocket and Nebula lost the Guardians (Star-Lord, Drax, Groot, and Mantis). John and Aeryn also bore a son named D’Argo “Deke” Sun-Crichton in the midst of the Peacekeeper-Scarran War, an event that occurred across the galaxy over the last five years.


They brought with them someone who a few believed to have been a bearded, overweight hobo at first, only to discover up close that it was a disheveled and drunken Thor. Scott couldn’t believe his eyes (and nose) when he saw (and smelled) him. “What happened to him?!”

“Don’t ask,” Rocket told him (though Scott could barely process the alien raccoon talking to him).

“If you must know, whoever you are, Thanos happened – amongst other things,” Aeryn said, carrying the two-year-old Deke in her arms. “Most of his people were lost in that snap…the few remaining Asgardians in the entire universe are here on Terra, living in New Asgard.”

“Which is where we found the Big Lebowski over there,” Crichton gestured to the barely cognitive God of Thunder.

“Well, at least he’s here,” the 13th Doctor said. “All we’re missing now is…”

Before she could finish, a Sling Ring portal opened nearby and out of it stepped Sarah Williams and a Latina girl in a colorful denim jacket, black skinny jeans, and black high-top Converse shoes.

“Oh! A fellow Converse, I see,” the 10th Doctor approached the girl. “Nice!”

“Thanks,” the girl returned. “Yours look great, too!”

In the middle of the girl and the Doctor admiring each other’s footwear, Tony nodded to the former and asked Sarah, “Who’s the kid?”

“This is America Chavez,” Sarah introduced. “She’s a living anomaly in the multiverse and literally one of a kind. She’s going to kickstart our mission to find the other Infinity Stones across the multiverse.”


“A fourteen-year-old kid?” Barton gathered.

“Actually, I turned fifteen just last week,” America publicized. She then burst with excitement that she tried to keep contained up until then. “It is such an honor to meet you guys! In every universe I’ve been to, I’ve always hoped there was one where you were real and I could meet you!”

“It’s hard to imagine there aren’t many other worlds with Avengers,” Steve said.

“Oh, I don’t mean you guys,” America elucidated. “I meant them.”

She gestured to Kermit and the other Muppets, beaming as she looked over them.

Steve suddenly felt a comforting pat on his shoulder and saw Stark standing beside him. “Try not to take it so hard, buddy,” he teased at Cap’s expense.

------------------------------

The Abandoned Muppet Theater – Manhattan

“Out of the infinite worlds that I searched through, only four of them are workable around our mission,” Sarah explained to the group. They were gathered downstairs in the cellar, the former site of “Muppet Labs” for Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. In the lab was the object of their desire: a gateway machine constructed with a metal arch over a vacant space, likely where the portal opened.

Some of the Avengers were suited up in their gear, including Captain America with his shield; others, such as Tony and Banner, were dressed like buccaneers for their destinated mission, as were Kermit (a decorated captain), Piggy (a pirate queen), and Pepe (a king prawn pirate).


Utilizing America Chavez’s ability to generate portals, they acted as a conduit for powering the machine; she literally fueled the old, disused generator with a simple punch. Wanda was more than impressed by this feat and told America, “That’s a nifty trick.”

America stared uneasily towards Wanda, her body going rigid. “T-Thanks” was all she could say to her before rushing back over to Sarah’s side where she felt safer. Wanda merely watched her in confusion, wondering why America was so terrified of her, when they hardly even knew each other.

“So, where are we headed?” Natasha inquired.

“Four worlds…four teams,” Sarah said. “Team A will consist of Kermit, Piggy, Stark, Thor, Pepe, Banner, and Lang – your world is in the mid-18th century with many parallels to Treasure Island, and there you will find the Reality Stone. Team B consists of Kara, Ciciley, Agent X, Captain Rogers, Fozzie, and War Machine – the Space Stone is in your world, a universe very similar to this one, except there aren’t any Muppets in it. So, Fozzie…”

“Keep outta sight and not freak anybody out – gotcha!” the bear acknowledged.

Not missing a beat, Sarah continued, “Team C are Gonzo, Crichton, Aeryn, Nebula, Rocket, Romanoff, and Barton – your world will be on a planet called Thra, which will be much different from our Thra, but it nonetheless will have the Power Stone.”

“How different?” Aeryn cagily asked.

“You’ll just have to see for yourself,” Sarah told her. “Last team will be me, America, and Wanda – there’s a world out there with the Time Stone and we’re going there to get it.”

“We’ll remain here to extract the Mind Stone from Vision,” the 10th Doctor said.

“And also keep an eye on lil’ Deke and Bunsen and Beaker’s gateway machine,” the 13th Doctor added. “Each of you were given detector-retrieval bracelets that’ll help you locate the stones and return you here, once you’ve inputted the home coordinates on the keypad. Input them only when you have found the stones.”

“One last thing,” Rogers stepped forward. “Five years ago, we lost…all of us. We lost friends. We lost family. We lost a part of ourselves. But, today, we have a chance to take it all back. You have your teams and assignments. Get your stone, and get back here. One round trip each. No mistakes, no do-overs. Most of us are going to places that we know. That doesn’t mean we know what to expect. Be careful, look out for each other, and improvise if you have to. This is the fight of our lives…and we’re going to win…whatever it takes.”

Everyone was deeply motivated by the speech, especially Aeryn, who wiped a tear from her eye. “You never told me he had such a way with words,” she whispered to her husband.

Crichton smirked. “It’s not every day you get to hear a Captain America speech from the Captain America.”

The 13th Doctor operated the gateway machine from an Apple II series computer that was barely holding together, as it sat on a rickety workbench at the center of the cellar. It was connected to an array of wall-to-wall supercomputers that were just as archaic yet still powerful. She opened the first portal for Team A, who jumped through after a short moment of hesitation.

While the other teams made their jump, America secretly asked Sarah, “Do we really need her to go with us?”

Sarah saw that she was referring to Wanda, whose very presence unsettled America from the second she was brought to the New Avengers Facility. “It’ll be alright,” Sarah told her. “She’s not the same woman you encountered in Earth-616…at least not as long as she still has her Vision.”

Chavez wasn’t completely reassured, but she still trusted Sarah’s intuition.

Their team was the last to jump through the portal, heading into a destination that would put their skills – and sanity – to the test.

TO BE CONTINUED...
 

muppetwriter

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When Bruce’s bare feet touched sand after stepping through the portal, he knew they were in the right place. Not to mention there were several sentient lifeforms – “sentient” by Muppet standards – along the beach, such as crocodiles, crabs, and even rock formations. The rest of Team A – Kermit, Piggy, Stark, Thor, Pepe, and Lang – emerged shortly after Bruce.

“Man, since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to be a pirate,” Banner reflected, taking in the tropical atmosphere around them. His eyes then settled on Stark, noticing something off about his face in the pirate disguise he wore. “Hey, uh, Tony? Did you shave off your goatee?”

“Hmm?” Stark mumbled before realizing what Bruce had asked. “Oh, no. Nat loaned me a nano mask.” He lightly tapped the left side of his face, and the holographic cells rippled and fluctuated between Stark’s actual face (with his signature goatee) and his disguise (sans goatee). “Neat, eh?”


“If by ‘neat,’ jou mean ‘completely disgusting,’ h’okay,” a revolted Pepe said.

“You’re wearing a fake version of your own face over your face?” Lang tried to grasp the concept to no avail.

“Can we focus on the mission, please?” Kermit demanded, his tone bordering on hostile, much to the surprise of his teammates. “Sarah gave us our identities, in case we run into any locals. I’m Abraham Smollett, captain of the Hispaniola. Piggy is Benjamina Gunn, the pirate queen…”

“And love of Captain Smollett’s life,” she tenderly added.


“Right,” Kermit passively acknowledged. “As far as the rest of you guys, I guess you’re supposed to be members of our ragtag crew…except for Scott, who is…”

“The backup hidden in plain sight,” Lang verified, activating his Ant-Man suit and shrinking down to microscopic size to perch atop Tony’s shoulder.

Meanwhile, Bruce glanced at his Hulk-sized detector-retrieval bracelet. The clockface readout offered him a 3D model of the island that they arrived on, highlighting the exact location of the Reality Stone. “Got it,” he announced to his teammates. “We go this way.”

They were about to follow him, until they heard the sound of running water nearby (and it wasn’t the crashing waves). Everyone simultaneously turned to see Thor, standing upon two large rocks and urinating into the ocean.

“Remind me to bleach out my eyeballs when this is over,” Piggy cringed.

--------------------------​

Bruce led the way through the jungle, using his Hulk strength to push aside any trees that were in their way. Thor brought up the rear, sipping on cans of beer that he brought along on the mission, having stashed them in his filthy red robe. He would toss them to the ground once finished, leaving a trail.

The sight and smell of him disgusted Piggy, who needed some sort of distraction from the disgraced God of Thunder. “Kermie?” she addressed her amphibious love interest. “We haven’t properly chatted since we were reunited.”

Kermit hardly noticed that she was talking to him. “T-There’s nothing really to chat about, Piggy.”

“Not even those five years you spent, alone in the swamp?”

“I wasn’t alone – I had Tony and Pepper looking out for me…and I was even there for them when Morgan was born.”

“So, you at least had a little happiness in that moment?”

“It wasn’t my happiness to share.”

It unsettled Piggy to see how emotionally reserved he was. Despite the fact that the two lovers were cordially reunited after so much time, there was still a big void left in the heart of Kermit the Frog.

Continuing north of their path, they arrived at a split-level hut that was filled with shiny treasure. Stars and dollar signs filled Pepe’s eyes as he got a look at the various gems, rubies, gold Spanish doubloons, and golden chalices. “Whoa-ho-ho! Would jou look at this place?! There’s enough riches and monies in here to make us set for our lives, h’okay!”

“Yeah, don’t get any ideas, Red Lobster,” Stark reprimanded. “We’re only here for the Reality Stone.” He turned to Banner and asked, “And where is the Reality Stone exactly?”

Bruce hovered his bracelet over various spots in the hut. It beeped like a metal detector, starting off with slow-paced beeps until they rapidly increased when hovered over the Stone’s precise location: embedded in a crown jewel. “It’s here,” Banner notified his teammates.

Kermit went to the crown and plucked the red stone from it. He held it beneath Bruce’s bracelet to confirm that it was the Reality Stone and not just a random ruby. When the detector on the bracelet beeped fast again, they had their confirmation. “Good,” Kermit said. “Now let’s get the heck out of…”

As he headed for the exit, his path was barred by a roguish-looking man in a pirate captain getup, flanked by a crew of ruffians that were both human and Muppet. “Smollett?!” the pirate captain bellowed to Kermit. “We left you hangin’ over the cliffs!” He was as equally shocked to see Piggy standing not too far from Kermit. “And Benjamina?! You’re supposed to be there with him!”

“Their ghosts have come to haunt us!” cried a clueless goat pirate among the captain’s crew of ruffians.

The pirate captain scoffed. “I don’t believe in any ghosts! But I do believe in a couple of escape artists!” He drew his sword, pointing it directly at the throat of a quivering Kermit.

He was only spared from certain death when Stark roared to the pirate captain (with a convincing English accent), “You dare ignore my presence while threatening my prisoners?! Who do you think you are?!”


“I think I be Long John Silver! And who be you, stranger?” Silver moved his sword away from Kermit and pointed it towards Tony.

“Who am I?!” Stark feigned offense. “You insult me again, sir! I happen to be the famous pirate captain of the seven seas! I am Captain…Sinbad!”

“De comedian?” Pepe queried before getting kicked aside by Stark.

“I never heard of ya, Captain Sinbad,” Silver proclaimed.

“That’s because I’m elusive, a feat courtesy of my magic abilities,” Tony fibbed.

His claim drew uproarious laughter from Silver and his crew. “The shrimp be right! You are a comedian!”

“You’ve insulted me for the last time, Long John Silver!” Stark yelled. “Now I shall unleash my power on you!” Swiftly, he shot out his right arm towards Silver and his crew. Out of nowhere, one of the ruffians was knocked down by something they couldn’t see. It mortified Silver and his crew, who began to believe this “Captain Sinbad” was a magical swashbuckler.

Unbeknownst to the primitive-thinking pirates, Scott had leapt off Tony’s arm and catapulted himself into the face of the pirate that he punched. Even in his miniature form, the punch had enough effectiveness to knock the pirate out. Piggy, Thor, and Banner assisted by thrashing the bigger members of Silver’s crew, while Kermit and Pepe escaped the hut with the Reality Stone. Noticing them fleeing with a piece of the treasure he and his crew were there for, Silver pursued.

“Get back here with that gem, crustacean!” Silver thundered, gaining on Pepe.

“I am not a crustacean! I am a king prawn!” Pepe declared.

“That is a crustacean, Pepe!” Kermit elucidated during their chase. “Toss me the Stone!” Pepe did as he instructed, drawing Silver’s attention away from the king prawn and putting it solely on Kermit.

He led the pirate captain straight back to the beach, which was an apparent dead end for the frog. “End of the line, Smollett!” Silver mocked. “This time I’ll make certain you die!”

Silver swung his sword at Kermit, who surprised the famed pirate by blocking the swing with his own sword that came with his Smollett disguise. Although his sword was smaller in comparison with Silver’s, Kermit clashed with a ferocity that brought the one-legged Long John Silver to his knees, particularly at the moment Kermit chopped his peg leg into splinters. To Silver, it was an uncharacteristic trait of the dignified captain of the Hispaniola (but no more so than the frog portraying him).

The swordfight came to a decisive end once Kermit successfully knocked Silver’s sword out of his hand, sending it flying into the ocean, several feet away. Silver was now at the frog’s mercy, his sword at his throat. “Easy now, Captain Smollett,” Silver pleaded. “This be unbecoming of you, being a gentleman and all.”

Hocked on adrenaline and anger, Kermit pressed the sword against Silver’s throat, drawing blood. Silver’s eyes fearfully bugged, expecting the man he perceived to be Abraham Smollett to kill him in cold blood. For a long while, Kermit had considered it, until he realized that this intense scene was being witnessed by his teammates, who all caught up with him on the beach and looked on in shock, including Piggy.

Even Kermit himself was alarmed by his violent behavior.

He ultimately decided not to kill Silver, removing his sword from his blood-drenched throat. “Get out of here,” he told the pirate, who didn’t waste a moment in fleeing for his life.

Kermit looked in his hand at the only winning prize from the duel: the Reality Stone. He then heard Piggy softly ask of him, “Kermie? Are you O.K.?”

Closing his fist around the Stone, Kermit replied, “Let’s get Robin back.”



TO BE CONTINUED...
 

muppetwriter

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Mojave Desert (Earth-012)
Before it became “The Lost Dimension,” the Earth that Ciciley Livingston and Agent X originally hailed from was not much dissimilar from Earth-M, just as Sarah described. In fact, its atmosphere felt exactly the same, even in the intense heat of the Mojave Desert.

Supplied with a black Acura SUV, which were standard vehicles for S.H.I.E.L.D. back when Ciciley and X were agents of the organization, Team B – Kara, Ciciley, Agent X, Captain America, Fozzie, and War Machine – drove towards a massive green military base twenty stories high and fifty feet wide.

The Project Geo base.

“Somehow, I remember it being navy blue,” Ciciley recollected.

“Well, you are color blind, Moms,” X told her.

“Look at the size of that place!” Fozzie awed. “What do they got in there?”

“A geodesic sphere from another dimension,” Ciciley described. “It arrived in this world shortly after the incident in New York with Loki and the Chitauri. We studied it, thinking that it might’ve led to another potential invasion…”

“…and it sorta did,” X vilified.

“Did you say ‘geodesic sphere’?” an alert Kara frowned.

“Our only item of interest here needs to be that Space Stone,” Rogers reminded his teammates. “When one of us finds it, we’ll notify each other and get out in time to jump right back to our Earth.”

His teammates determinedly nodded in affirmation with his idea.

Behind the wheel of the Acura, Ciciley drove to the Project Geo base straight up to its entrance, which was guarded by two armed and uniformed S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. One of them looked on Rogers in surprise. “Cap?!” he exclaimed. “Aren’t you supposed to be stationed at the Helicarrier with Agent Hill and Director Fury?”

Luckily, Rogers had been briefed, prior to his team’s arrival, on the whereabouts of his counterpart. So, he had a believable story at the ready: “Fury decided I’d be better use here than at the Carrier. He and Hill are handling the intruder situation with Agent Livingston. Sorry to surprise you boys.”

Accepting the story from Captain America, the one man who was incapable of lying to anyone (ironically), the guard permitted the team entry, opening the main door through a control box mounted against its hull. He pressed a purple button amid a series of multicolored ones, and the main door parted.

All seemed to have been going well. Ciciley was about to drive right through the parted entrance, until the guard once again stopped them. “Hold it,” he specifically addressed her. “You look very familiar.”

Ciciley had anticipated the recognition. In this dimension, she was a highly respected agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., next in line with Nick Fury himself. Of course, certain otherworldly circumstances that occurred during the Project Geo event resulted in her appearance rejuvenated to a more youthful form. Seeing as how those circumstances had yet to occur, that only made her presence with Team B more of a risk.

She wore a black cap and sunglasses to mask her identity, so that she would appear as any ordinary S.H.I.E.L.D. operative.

Unfortunately, this guard’s eye was too keen for it.

“Son,” she heard Rogers suddenly address the guard. “If there’s anything else you would like to address, I’m the person you’d want to say it to.”

The guard immediately stood in attention at Rogers’ stern tone. “Y-Yes, sir,” he stammered, visibly perspiring. “That’s all, s-sir.” As he stepped back from the Acura, he also noticed what he perceived as a stuffed, life-sized Fozzie Bear doll sitting in the backseat with Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes, a blonde in civilian attire, and a redheaded S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. It was just another thing he wanted to address but avoided it in respect of Captain Rogers.

Ciciley wasted no time driving into the base, the entrance sealing shut behind them. She was thankful to have Cap by her side; his assertiveness really saved her and the entire mission for the Stone.

They parked in a large, spacious garage with up to thirty-two other vehicles that were the same make as their Acura. They then went to a large steel door just ahead. To the right of it was a scanner where Agent X placed her right eye, metamorphosing it to physically resemble Nick Fury’s one good eye – same color and all.

A loud, electronic buzz sounded and the large steel door opened inward.

Team B went through and instantly felt a surge of energy come through them, migrating into what appeared to have been an observation deck. “I recognize that energy,” Kara remarked before sighting the massive geodesic sphere housed at the core of the warehouse. “The Quantum Sphere,” she identified it.


“Looks a lot like Spaceship Earth,” Fozzie said, keeping his voice close to a whisper around all the S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel.

“Quantum Sphere?” Ciciley noted Kara’s name for it. “That’s what it’s been called this whole time?”

“That’s what I call it,” Kara said. “It’s been a pain in my butt for the longest time now. I’ve been trying to rid the multiverse of it, because of its unstable properties.”

“Unfortunately, it’s not what we’re here for,” Rogers told her. “The Space Stone is somewhere along the premises. We’ll have to split up to find it. Rhodey and I will masquerade as our counterparts and ask around. Fozzie, you search out of sight. Ciciley and X, you search with Kara.”

“What if we run into our counterparts?” Agent X inquired.

“Not possible,” Ciciley told her. “If my memory serves, you and I didn’t arrive here until much later in the day. So, we should be alright.”

Following Rogers’ lead, the team split into their groups – or, in Fozzie’s case, went entirely solo. The Muppet bear searched in unoccupied areas. Whenever some personnel would walk by, he would pretend to be a doll, just as he did on the way in. It was quite exhausting to keep himself so still for so long, especially when some of the female S.H.I.E.L.D. agents would gush over him.

“I always wanted one of these!” one agent would say.

“He’s so cute! Did someone get him as an anniversary gift?” another assumed.

Once Fozzie was alone again, he would breathlessly reflect, “Woody and Buzz make it look so easy!”


While Fozzie kept with his Toy Story part of the mission, Ciciley and Agent X – assisted by Kara – searched through every classified and restricted area of the base. In the midst of their search, Kara wondered, “Wouldn’t you gals remember exactly where it was, if you’d been here before?”

“Cut us some slack,” Ciciley griped. “It’s been 10 years since either of us even stepped foot in this world!”

“We’ve gotten so accustomed to Earth-M, everything here feels almost alien to us,” Agent X stated. “It’s like learning how to ride a bike all over again – and that’s saying a lot for someone who’s never rode on one!”

Leaving one of the rooms they failed to find the Space Stone in, the three women bumped into an old, pudgy woman in a black leather jacket over a white tank top, dark blue jeans, and black boots. She dressed rather “young” for a woman who looked physically sixty to seventy years of age.

“Watch where yer goin’, ya greenies!” she bellowed, moving a few strands of her graying black hair away from her wrinkled face. When she stared directly at Agent X, she gasped in shock. “Mama?! What’re you…?!” She stopped herself immediately when she laid eyes on Ciciley. “What the…?!”

Behind her sunglasses, Ciciley’s eyes bulged as she looked on the wrinkled face of her dimensional counterpart, who was somehow in the Project Geo base much earlier than expected.


The elder Ciciley Livingston forcibly removed her younger counterpart’s cap and sunglasses, exposing her identity. At first, the old woman wasn’t sure what to make of this bizarre situation, until she cried out one name: “Loki!” She went for the nearest emergency alarm and sounded it, alerting everyone in the base of the three interlopers, one of whom was believed to have been the God of Mischief, much to Ciciley’s chagrin.

On the other side of the base, Rogers and Rhodes heard the alarm, making both men more than a little uneasy. “I’m gonna assume that didn’t originally happen here,” Rhodes said.

“You keep searching for that Stone,” Rogers suggested. “I’ll see what’s going on.”

-------------------------​

At the base entrance, the two guards jolted at the alarm buzzing through the outdoor speakers. For a brief time, they speculated what might’ve triggered it. Then they heard a report through their earpieces of the three intruders and the suspicion of Loki being one in the guise of a young Ciciley Livingston.

“I knew that lady looked familiar!” the suspecting guard yelled.

“Did we really just let Loki into the base?” the other guard nervously measured. “Fury’s gonna have our hides for this one!”

As the guards mused over the sudden state of affairs, they both detected a caravan heading their way. Leading it was yet another black Acura; its passengers were Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and – to their baffling surprise – Steve Rogers.

“What’s the matter, soldier?” Fury asked the suspecting guard upon noticing the perplexed look on his face. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

The guard eyed Rogers heavily. He looked exactly like the one from earlier.

“Maybe not a ghost…sir?”

-------------------------​

For minutes, Steve wandered aimlessly around the base. It was easy to get lost someplace he had never been before, and not by the standards of the base itself. This entire dimension was like taking a trip back through time…in a completely different timeline. He didn’t want to admit to Fozzie, Rhodey, and the girls, but seeing that “Quantum Sphere” (as Kara called it) weirded him out as much as it intrigued him.

Where did it come from? Was it another strange mystery from space like the Infinity Stones? What was the purpose behind it? How did S.H.I.E.L.D. get their hands on something so big?

These were questions Steve had to put aside to focus on the mission at hand.

The alarms blaring all over the base did nothing to quell his concerns for his teammates. Ciciley, Kara, and Agent X weren’t responding on their comms, neither was Fozzie. Rhodey was the only one he had direct contact with at the height of the crisis. “Any luck finding the Stone?” he asked him.

“This place is like a maze,” Rhodey griped. “Just when I think I’m looking in a new room, it turns out to be the same room!”

“Just relax,” Rogers directed. “It’s got to be here somewhere.”

Rounding a corner, Steve stopped in his tracks as soon as he walked right into another man in a star-spangled uniform much like the one that he adorned for the mission for anachronistic purposes. Sure enough, it was the Steve Rogers of this Earth.

He looked right at Steve guardedly and held one gloved finger along the side of his helmet. “I have eyes on Loki, East Wing of the base,” he informed the personnel, which presumably included Nick Fury and this Earth’s Avengers.

“I’m not Loki,” Steve told his counterpart, gently removing his shield from his back. “And I don’t want to hurt you.”

The other Captain America removed his own shield. “You’re not going to get the chance.” He proceeded to kick Steve in the face, stumbling him. Both counterparts grappled, their shields falling to the floor. They both stamped on them, simultaneously flipping them back to their arms. Impressed, the other Steve Rogers noted, “You’ve really studied my moves, haven’t ya, Loki?”

“I told you, I’m not—!” Steve ducked just as his counterpart swung in for a punch. He countered with a left hook of his own, sending the other Rogers reeling. “I can do this all day…but I don’t have the time for it.”

The other Steve wiped blood from his lip, squaring off. “I’m sure you don’t.”

They battled on, both of their shields clashing.

Of course, the other Captain America proved to be the stronger of the two, younger and fiercer. He caught Steve off guard, swiping at his legs to bring him down and locking him into a submissive choke hold. Feeling himself losing consciousness, Steve made a last act of desperation to appeal to his younger counterpart: “Bucky’s…alive,” he rasped.


He felt the counterpart’s hold on his throat let up, stunned by what Steve just said.

“What did you—?”

BLAM!

Steve shot his head back right into the face of his counterpart, knocking him out cold. Fighting to get air back into his lungs, Steve stood back up, reclaiming his shield and momentarily regarding his unconscious counterpart. “For what it’s worth, you’re more of a fighter than I was at your age,” he told him before dashing off to find his team.

In his haste, he rechecked with Rhodes. “What’s your status, Rhodey?”

The impatient lieutenant colonel did away with the cloak-and-dagger and blasted through wall after wall with the repulsors of his War Machine armor. This tactic drew the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel, who were already informed of Rhodes being one of the deceptive intruders. They cornered him in one of the rooms, though he couldn’t bring himself to fight them, even if some might’ve been HYDRA agents.

Thinking he would have to surrender, Rhodey and the agents suddenly heard movement through the overhead vents. One section of the shaft dislodged and Fozzie tumbled out, landing atop the agents and knocking them all out. “Oh, no!” he lamented as he gazed on the downed agents. “I killed them!”

Rhodey chuckled. “Nah, they’ll be fine. Did ya find the Stone?”

Fozzie shook his head. “No luck. What’re those alarms all about?”

“Nothing good, that’s for sure,” Rhodey said. “C’mon. Let’s go find our team.”

--------------------------​

As chaos erupted throughout the Project Geo base, the source of it – Ciciley, Kara, and Agent X – sat in an interrogation room, grilled by Ciciley’s past self. “First thing’s first,” she began, pointing squarely at Agent X. “How did you find out so much about my mother that you conjured this…this…whatever this is?!”

Ciciley groaned. “I can’t believe I was ever this much a pain in the butt.”

“Welcome to my world,” Agent X scoffed.

The elder Ciciley slammed her fists down on the interrogation table. “HEY! Stop acting like we’re the same person!”

“Look, Agent Livingston,” Kara addressed, “I know this all appears to be some elaborate scheme from Loki or whoever you believe we are, but that’s not what’s going on here. We’re visitors from another world…another dimension…and we’re here to set right a huge wrong that’s occurred in a realm designated as ‘Earth-M’.”

“This crap again?! I swear, it’s like all these nutcases are coming out of the woodwork today!”

That condescending voice spoke from the door, which had opened so quietly that none of the women in the room heard it even creak. All eyes looked to the individual who entered, and Agent X was stricken to see the face of her previous identity: Agent Sean Livingston. It was like looking into an old mirror. He was dressed exactly the way X remembered in that black coat, shirt, and pants.


Kara was just as daunted by his presence, particularly how the young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent resembled her past eleventh incarnation.

“Moms, what’re you doing here?” he asked the elder Ciciley.

“I came here to have a word with Fury about bringing you into this project, without my consent,” she said. “And then, next thing I know, all heck broke loose when I found these three.” She gestured to Ciciley, Kara, and X.

Sean closely analyzed Ciciley’s face. “I gotta hand it to Loki, he makes a good you, even if he is trying a little too hard with the age.”

“Alright, that’s it!” Ciciley roared, finally at her breaking point. “You want the truth? Two years from right now, a lot of heavy stuff is gonna rain down on ya’ll. First, S.H.I.E.L.D. is gonna collapse after it gets outed that HYDRA has been hiding in the organization the whole time. Then, Sean’s gonna get kidnapped by a fat jerk who’ll kill our mother – who we discover to be alive and preserved in cryogenic sleep for decades – and merge her body with Sean’s, resulting in this!” She pointed to Agent X, who was more than disgusted by the events Ciciley recapped for their counterparts.

Kara rested her face in her palm. “Never a good idea exposing the future to your past selves,” she uttered in exasperation.

“You really expect us to believe that?” the elder Ciciley asked.

However, while she maintained disbelief, Sean was more convinced. “I dunno, Moms,” he said. “I mean, look at this one…” He motioned to Agent X. “She does look like Grandmamma…a lot like her.”

“It’s Loki playin’ with your head, baby,” the elder Ciciley refuted. “My mother – your grandmother – is dead. She has been since I was a baby.”

“Then how does Loki know what she looks like?”

The elder Ciciley thought she had the answer, but she found herself stumped.

Suddenly, the door opened again and a female S.H.I.E.L.D. agent entered. Her hair was long and blond, and her skin was fair with discernable cheekbones. Before either Sean or the elder Ciciley could address her, they both unexpectedly fell to the floor and lost consciousness.

Kara looked on their fallen bodies in confusion. “What happened to them?”

“I placed a sleep spell upon them, but it’s only temporary,” the blond agent said.

“Sleep spell?” X frowned. “Are you another sorceress?”


The blond agent nodded. “I am, but not the kind that sent you here. My name is Yen Sid, but here I am under the guise of Agent Stevens. You three are here for the Space Stone, are you not?”

“Yeah, but…” Ciciley started, only to be interrupted by this strange “Yen Sid” character when the Tesseract – the placeholder for the Space Stone – materialized right in her hand. She handed it over to Agent X.

“It’s useless to this world now,” Yen Sid told them. “Take it and finish your mission…or else Earth-M will fall to Merlock and the Twilight Phantom, just as other universes already have.”

Her warning alarmed Kara. “Did you say ‘The Twilight Phantom’?!”

Yen Sid didn’t clarify. Instead, she vanished in a flash of light from the interrogation room with Sean and the elder Ciciley. They were immediately replaced by Rogers, Rhodes, and Fozzie, who appeared in the room under the same mystical context.

“How did we get here?” Rhodey asked, his eyes darting around puzzlingly.

“Yeah, one second, we were lost in the middle of a hallway, and the next second, we’re here!” Fozzie exclaimed.

Steve was relieved to see Agent X holding the Tesseract in her gloved grips.

“You have it,” he said. “Where did you find it?”

“Don’t ask,” Ciciley insisted. “Let’s just get up outta here!”



TO BE CONTINUED...
 
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