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Time for Trouble!

Written by:
Cousin Aurora Lenore

Bianca Pierson stood in front of her full-length mirror inside her bedroom and hiccupped.  She was shaking from head to toe and knew she was being silly.

"Just breathe, Bianca; nice and slow…oh, why did I never invest in an inhaler?" she muttered, wringing her hands.

"You will be fine, Miss Bianca," R.O.B., her robotic creation calmed in his tinny voice.

"You’d think I’d never had a date before," she whispered, brushing her shoulder-blade length copper hair swiftly.  Truth be told, it had been at least three years since Bianca had been on a date.  For as long as she could remember, Bianca preferred to spend her nights at home, working on her inventions, whether it be her robots or her greatest creation: a time machine.  From the outside, it looked nothing more than a Plexiglas egg, but inside, it was a mish-mash of technology and computers that actually made it able to travel through time!  Just a little over eight months ago, it had managed to teleport two men from nineteen-eighty-six to her present time.  She smiled as she remembered Larry Appleton and his Myposian cousin Balki Bartokomous.  The duo turned her world upside-down, but in a good way.  After they left to go back to their time, she realized how much she had missed human interaction.  With a little robotic nudging from R.O.B., she managed to use a dating site to meet and interact with the opposite sex.  Four months went by without even a nibble, but now, things were different.  Tonight, she had a date with a very attractive man named Max Fagen.  Max was funny, intuitive and extremely sexy.  His jet black hair and playful green eyes made her melt every time they would video chat.  But now meeting him in person was a whole other ballgame.  Just thinking about how many ways she could strike out made her feel nauseated.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and she knew it was now or never.  "Just stay calm; don’t panic and focus; oh my God I forgot how to focus!" she muttered under her breath as she smoothed out her black minidress and opened the door.  "Hi," she sang as she saw him, hoping he couldn’t see the bead of perspiration that formed on her forehead.

"Hello.  Nice to finally meet you in person," Max replied smoothly, taking her hand.  "I guess you already know I’m Max."

"Yeah and I’m….Bianca," she stammered.  "C-come in."

Max wandered in and whistled "Nice place you have here.  Your web design business must be booming."

"Uh, yeah, it is.  Thanks.  Can I get you something to drink?"

"Water is fine," he told her, bending his knees as he prepared to take a seat on her red and gold sofa.  "Uh, Bianca?" he asked, mid-squat.  "What is that little yellow thing in the corner by the television?"

Bianca giggled.  "Oh, that!  That’s a, uh, Wakamaru robot.  I got him from a Japanese furniture store a couple of months ago.  I don’t use him much because I can’t get him to permanently speak English."

Max sat on the sofa and watched as she disappeared into the kitchen.  "Nice.  And what exactly is that little charging station over there?" he asked, looking to the other corner of the room.  "Is that for Wakamaru?"

Bianca poured the water, her hands shaking so bad, she sloshed some on the counter.  "No, that’s for my…other…robot, R.O.B.. I have a set.  Not a matching set, but a set.  I built R.O.B. myself."

Max stood up abruptly.  "So you’re like a mechanical / robotic genius!  Mind if we skip the water and you show me the rest of your house, starting with the kitchen?  How many of your appliances are robotic?"

Bianca blushed, both embarrassed and pleased at the attention.  "Um, actually, only the microwave, oven and can opener are highly advanced," she told him slowly.

As she and Max entered the kitchen, she spotted her iPad lying on the counter.  She could have sworn she left it in her bedroom, but apparently not.  She picked it up as Max observed every nook and cranny of her kitchen.  "Maybe we should go–"

"I bet I know where that door leads to!" Max interrupted, pointing to the door leading into her garage.  "I bet that’s the mother lode!  I’m sure that’s where you keep all the big stuff stashed like extra robot arms, legs and torsos!"

Bianca let out a small gasp.  She couldn’t let him go inside her garage!  That was where her time machine was!  "You know what?  I think we’d better just go to dinner.  It’s really a mess in the garage and it’s so dusty and dark in there."

"Aw, come on!  Humor me!" Max pressed, placing his hand on the doorknob.

Quickly, Bianca punched in the emergency password for the time machine–something she’d only had to use once or twice–on her iPad and swallowed hard.  "Okay, see for yourself."

As soon as the door was open, Bianca almost let out a cry of relief as her precious egg was no longer there.  She wasn’t sure where it had vanished to, but she knew it was probably somewhere else inside the house.  As soon as he was thoroughly unimpressed, she’d press a few more buttons and return the machine to its rightful place.  "See?  Nothing fancy.  Just my car, boxes of old antiques and junk and tools.  Nothing even remotely interesting."

Max turned to her and smiled thinly.  "So you keep all the good stuff inside.  Okay, now that you’ve indulged me, let’s go have dinner," he told her, holding out his arm.

Bianca linked her arm in his and left her iPad on the counter where it was before, her time machine nerves being replaced by first date nerves.

*************************

"Balki, could you hand me another cup of coffee?" Larry Appleton asked from his position at the kitchen table where he sat working on an article for the Chicago Chronicle.

He looked up when he saw that his Myposian cousin, Balki Bartokomous was staring at something in his hand, not even acknowledging that Larry had been speaking.  "Balki?  What are you looking at?"

When Balki still didn’t move from his place at the bar, Larry stood up and walked over to him, concern with a hint of annoyance on his face.  "Balki, what has got you so interested that you’re not even listening to me?"

Suddenly, Balki jerked his head to look at him and smiled softly.  "I found the letters that Bianca gave to you and I.  She still owes you that coffee and you still owe her a dance."

Larry sighed and led his cousin over to the sofa.  He hated to break Balki’s heart, but he had to know the truth.  "Balki, listen to me.  I know you miss Bianca, but the truth is that we will never see her again.  I will never get that cup of coffee and you will never get a robot like R.O.B.."

"But Cousin," Balki interjected.  "Bianca said she see us again.  She made a promise."

"And I’m sure Bianca had every intention of keeping that promise, but she has her own life and it’s not here.  She belongs in two-thousand-thirteen and we belong in nineteen-eighty-seven.  I’m sure she’s probably even forgotten about us by now."

Balki turned to Larry, shock on his face.  "Cousin, I’m surprised at you!  Bianca promised to see us again and I believe her.  I took her words at laced valium and you should, too."

Larry sighed. "Balki, I think you mean ‘at face value’ and it’s been well over eight months since we said goodbye.  Face it, Balki; we will never see Bianca Pierson again."

Suddenly, as if on cue, a loud buzzing noise could be heard and Bianca’s time machine–still shaped just like an over-sized egg–stood before them in the living room.

"Wwoww," Balki breathed, jumping up.  "I think the machine must have PBS."

"I don’t believe it!" Larry cried out, forgetting about his coffee and the article.  "Balki, you were right!  Bianca didn’t forget us!"

"Well, why are we standing here with our heads wide open?  Let’s go visit Bianca again!" Balki whooped.

"Wait; last time this happened, the machine saved our lives from carbon-monoxide poisoning," Larry recalled.

"So, I guess that means we should get inside and leave, hoh?" Balki pointed out.

"Let’s go," Larry nodded, feeling more excited than he cared to express as they stepped inside and he pressed the button.

Unfortunately for Larry, he also forgot to hang on, for as soon as the machine sprang to life, he slumped to the floor like a rag doll.

*************************

"Cousin, wakey wakey!" Balki sang as he grabbed Larry underneath his arms and hoisted him up.

"Huh?" Larry mumbled, coming to.  "What’s goin’ on?"

"We are at Bianca’s house, Cousin.  I cannot wait to see her again!"

"Oh, yeah; now I remember.  Balki, you can let go of me now," Larry grunted.

Balki did as he was told and exited the egg first.  "Remember last time when we were in this very same garage?  Feels a little like cordon bleu."

Larry rubbed the back of his neck and looked around.  "If you mean déja vu, then yes, Balki, it does.  At least this time, Bianca isn’t standing over us with a baseball bat."

"Speaking of Bianca, where she is?" Balki asked, walking to the garage door that led into the kitchen.  Surely she knew he and Cousin Larry were coming!

"Maybe she’s inside," Larry suggested.  "Bianca, are you in there?" he knocked on the door.  When they heard silence, Larry reached for the doorknob and jumped when the door opened effortlessly.

"Bianca, are you and R.O.B. planning a party for us?  If so, just let us know and we will be surprised!" Balki called out as he and Larry gingerly walked into the kitchen.

"I don’t know about this, Balki; something doesn’t feel right.  If Bianca sent for us, then why isn’t she here now?" Larry whispered.

"Oh, Cousin, don’t get your underarm hair in a twist," Balki brushed him off.  "I am sure that everything is perfectly A-K.O."

"Balki, you don’t think that it’s a little strange that no one is here?  I don’t even hear R.O.B."

Suddenly, R.O.B. whizzed through the kitchen door, his usual blue ‘eyes’ replaced with red ones.  "Intruder alert; intruder alert," it repeated in its robotic voice.

"R.O.B.!  It’s us!  Cousin Larry and Balki!" Balki announced.

Suddenly, the robot’s eyes changed back to blue and his red ‘lips’ smiled.  "Good to see you again.  I did not know you were coming."

"Frankly, neither did we.  Where is Bianca, anyhow?" Larry asked.

"She is on a date with one Max Fagen."

"Oh, there are more than one Max Fagens?" Balki asked.

Larry sighed.  "Balki, what he means is she’s on a date with a guy named Max Fagen."  Suddenly, Larry’s eyes grew wide.  "Wait a second; if she’s on a date, then why are we here?  How were we supposed to die this time?  Earthquake?  Car accident?  Murder one?"

"I sensed no danger to your lives nor did I send for you.  Bianca did.  I am sure she will be back shortly." R.O.B. told them.

Balki turned and saw the little screen on the counter that Bianca had used before to operate the time machine.  He remembered his cousin telling him that she used it to bring Balki back from his terrifying encounter with the Ky-Dels on Mypos.  While Larry and R.O.B. were not looking, he pressed the button at the bottom part of the device and saw that she had recently activated an emergency button on the machine.  "Um, Cousin?"

"Balki, hang on a second.  I want to know more from R.O.B. about this Max that Bianca is out with."

"But, Cousin–"

"Balki, I just want to know–"

"Cousin, you should–"

"Balki–"

"But–"

"Balki!" Larry shouted before calming himself.  "Whatever it is, I’m sure it can wait until we find out if this man is suitable enough for Bianca, alright?"

Balki suddenly grabbed Larry’s hair and jerked his upper torso forward until he was leaning over Bianca’s screen.  "Look," he demanded, his voice an octave lower.

"Okay, Balki, I see it," Larry replied quickly before Balki let go.  "It says Bianca activated an emergency transport about twenty minutes ago.  That was approximately the time the machine appeared in our apartment.  R.O.B., do you think she’s in some kind of trouble?"

"She activated the transport when her date wished to see the garage.  She did not wish for him to see her machine," R.O.B. concluded, scanning the data on her device.

"Balki, do you know what that means?" Larry cried.

"Well, of course I do; don’t be ridiculous…what were we talking about again?"

"She didn’t want this guy Max to see her machine because she obviously doesn’t trust him!  As soon as Bianca gets home, I’m going to sit her down and tell her that this Max guy is just not good enough for her," Larry stated.

Balki glanced at his cousin from the corner of his eye.  While Balki may have been at times what his cousin called "wet behind the ears", he knew what jealousy sounded like.  And right now, jealousy sounded a lot like Cousin Larry Appleton.

*************************

And here I thought this date would be a disaster, Bianca thought as she rode in the passenger seat of Max’s red Fiat.  He had been the perfect gentlemen – opening doors for her, pulling back her chair, complimenting her – making it almost seem silly to have gotten so worked up two hours before.  Now the first date and the butterflies were over (almost) and he was driving her home.

Suddenly, her foot brushed against something on his floorboard, making a squeaking noise and she jumped.  "What was that?" she asked quickly.

Max laughed good-naturedly.  "Sorry.  I accidentally left one of my cat’s toys in the car.  Didn’t mean to rattle you."

Bianca brushed him off with a casual wave of her hand.  "No, it didn’t rattle me.  I just wasn’t expecting it; that’s all."

Bianca gulped as he pulled into the driveway of her house.  It had been so long since she had been part of the dating game, she wasn’t sure what to do.  Say goodnight in the car?  Let him walk her to the door?  Ask him inside for a nightcap and a quick one-player game of Hide the Time Machine?  She decided on option number two as soon as Max eliminated the first one by opening her car door.

Slowly, she walked hand-in-hand with him to the front steps, her heart beating fiercely.  So much for the disappearing butterflies!

"Well, I hope you had as good of a time tonight as I did," Max told her, looking deep into her blue eyes.

"I had a very good time, thank you," she smiled.

Bianca waited as his face grew closer to hers, his lips slightly parted, eyes closed…

CRASH!

Both she and Max pulled away at the unexpected noise.  Now new nerves had taken over: someone–or something–was in her house!  "What was that?" she asked slowly.

"Sounded like it was inside.  Maybe it was just your robots?" Max guessed.

"No, Wakamaru’s battery is dead and R.O.B. should be powered down as well.  Max, what are we going to do?"

Max grabbed her arm.  "Don’t worry.  Slowly unlock the door and then get behind me."

Bianca nodded and quietly unlocked her door before scrambling behind her protector.  She squealed, however, when she saw him pull a gun from his jacket pocket.  "A gun?"

"Just in case we need it," Max whispered before he threw the door open in a flash and expertly pointed the gun, ready to fire.

Suddenly, Bianca heard a familiar voice inside.  "Well, it’s about time you got home – oh my Lord!"

Bianca pushed past Max and stood there, mouth open at the man standing at the other end of the loaded weapon, eyes wide and hands up.  As if on cue, another familiar face walked inside from the kitchen wearing a white apron.  "Bianca!  So good to see you!" he said, walking towards her to embrace her.

"Stop right there!" Max hollered, stopping him dead in his tracks.

Bianca felt dizzy, but she managed to find her voice.  "Larry?  Balki?  What on Earth on you two doing here?"

"These two friends of yours?" Max asked dryly.

"Yes, they’re friends.  You can put the gun away," she replied.  "Seriously, though; what are you guys doing here?"

"I was just in the kitchen making bang bong binki ninki baklava; a famous Myposian pastry," Balki announced proudly.

"What do you mean what on Earth are we doing here?  You invited us, remember?" Larry asked, ignoring Balki.

Now the room really was spinning.  Not that she wasn’t glad to see them, but how in the world did they manage to travel forward in time when the machine hadn’t even been used in almost a week?  One thing was for certain: she needed to sit down before her face met the hardwood floor.

Max, can you please excuse us for a minute?  I need to talk to these two alone," Larry heard Bianca say, her voice unusually meek and unsteady.

"That’s fine.  I need to make a quick phone call.  I can step outside," Max nodded before exiting the house.

"Bianca, are you feeling alright?  No offense, but you look like something the cat threw up," Balki told her, sitting next to her on the sofa.

"Balki!" Larry balked, eyes wide as he sat down on the other side of her.  "Bianca, what happened?  Did this guy hurt you?  Did he threaten you?"

Bianca glared at him.  "No, Larry; Max is great!  I just can’t figure out why you two are here!  Maybe R.O.B. sent for you before he had to power down for the night."

"No, R.O.B. said he didn’t send the time machine to pick us up; you did!" Larry argued.

"But that’s impossible!  I haven’t even used the machine in a week.  I just had it sent to a different room in the house when Max came to pick me up and wanted to look around.  I was afraid he would find it, so I hid it.  It just transported to a different room; not all the way to your apartment.  So if I didn’t send it, and R.O.B. didn’t send it, then who did?"

"I’m so sorry," Max’s voice said suddenly, causing Larry, Bianca and Balki to jump.  Larry looked up to find that he was not only back in the living room, but holding a grey and white cat in his arms.  "I really should be going."

"Uh, that’s okay.  I’ll, uh, call you.  Where did you, uh, get the cat?" Bianca stammered, slowly rising from the couch.

"Oh, the cat?  He’s mine.  Actually, now that I think about it, so are you," Max told her nonchalantly.

"What do you mean ‘so are you’?  I don’t know who you think you are, buster, but the lady is not just some prize," Larry found himself saying.  As soon as he realized what he had said, he clamped his mouth shut.  Last time he stood up for a woman, he wound up thrown over a bar table with Balki landing on top of him.

"You’d better watch your mouth.  I brought you and your little foreign friend here and I can make sure you both are never heard from again!"

Bianca gulped so loudly that Larry heard her.  "Max?  What on Earth are you talking about?"

"I know about the machine, babe.  I know all about your little adventure almost nine months ago, too!  Did you really think there wouldn’t be any repercussions from your invention?  Well, you were wrong!" Max cried, his voice nothing like the Max that Larry had met five minutes ago.  This voice sounded ice cold and completely insane!

"Cousin, what do we do?" Balki asked.

"We run!" Larry yelled before grabbing Balki and bolting towards the kitchen.

"Men, grab them!" Max’s voice cried and instantly, two men wearing all black appeared out of nowhere and grabbed both Larry and Balki effortlessly.

"Bianca, run!" Larry cried, panicked as he struggled with the man.  "No…no!"

The last thing Larry heard before the world went dark was the sound of Bianca’s muffled screams as Max headed her off and grabbed her before she could get more than a couple of feet.

*************************

When Balki awoke, he wasn’t completely sure if his eyes were open or still shut.  Deciding it would be a good time to try the "is it too dark to see the hand in front of my face" trick, he attempted to raise his arm, but it wouldn’t move from its position behind his back.  "Cousin?  Bianca?  Are you in the perfect dark, too?" he asked.

"Yes, Balki," Larry replied, his voice barely above a whisper.  "Those goons tied our hands and feet together.  I think I can feel Bianca, but she’s not saying anything."

"Mma meemus mmr meem r mim mi mapf," a muffled voice responded.

"Oh my Lord; Max covered your mouth with tape?" Larry gasped.

"No; she says ‘that’s because your feet are in my face’," Balki translated, his vision finally adapting to the darkness.

Larry grunted and wiggled his feet until they were no longer touching her.  "Sorry."

"Max tied us up and then threw us in the back of a van.  I don’t know where we’re going, either.  I can’t believe Max knew about my machine this whole time.  That’s why he was so eager to see my house; he wanted to find it.  But how exactly did he manage to operate it and allow both of you to come back?"

Balki was trying to follow, but all this talk about the past and future and time travel was making his head spin.  "Cousin?"

"What is it, Balki?  Have you figured out a way to get us out of here?" Larry asked.

"Not exactly" he muttered, squirming.

"Balki, what’s wrong?’ Bianca asked.

"My nose itches and my appendixes won’t reach that high."

"Well, Balki, what do you want me to do about it?" Larry asked, annoyed.

"I need you to scratch my nose."

"Balki, I am not in the best position to scratch anything!"

"Cousin, I need you to try–"

"Balki, I am not–"

"Cousin, please scratch my nose!" Balki wailed like a child.

"Oh, alright, alright!" Larry cried, wiggling towards Balki as best he could, grunting the entire way until his fingers were close to Balki’s face.

Balki positioned his face underneath Larry’s hand’s and carefully, Larry’s fingers grazed his nose.  "Up a little…to the left…ahhhh," he finally exhaled when Larry found the right spot.  "Thank you, Cousin."

Suddenly, the van stopped moving and the three of them heard the driver and passenger side doors open and slam shut.

"Oh, this can’t be good," Larry muttered just before the back of the van opened, revealing Max and his two minions.

"How was the ride?" Max asked with a smirk.

"Smooth as a baby’s bottle," Balki replied, not catching the sarcasm.

"Let us go, you jerk!" Bianca spat, struggling with her ropes.

"Not quite.  Guys, get ‘em out of there!" Max told the two buffoons.

Balki quickly tried to raise his head up enough to see out of the back of the van, but was quickly met by a black burlap sack that was pulled down over his head.  Not again, he thought to himself as darkness surrounded him once more and he was roughly grabbed and carried out of the van.  He could hear Larry and Bianca hollering and moving around and he wished he could help.

"What do you want us to do with ‘em, boss?" one of the men asked a minute later as Balki heard what sounded like a large metal door become unhinged and opened.

"Tie the foreign one to the chair in the corner there," Max ordered.  "And Urpos, you take Curly and follow me and the babe."

"Cousin!" Balki cried out, disliking the thought of being separated from Larry and Bianca.

"No; Balki!  Balki!" Larry yelled, his voice becoming farther away until there was another sound of a metallic door.  Balki swallowed hard when he realized Larry’s voice could no longer be heard at all.

Suddenly, the man who grabbed him earlier forced him into a metal folding chair, tied his waist around it and yanked the sack from his head.  Balki looked around to see that they were in some sort of abandoned warehouse.  Everything looked so vacant, cold and metallic.

"Comfy?" the man sneered down at him.

"Actually, no.  You wouldn’t happen to have a chair with a nice cushion lying around, would you?"

The man snickered.  "You’re funny.  Just sit there and shut up while I go to the van for a second.  Don’t even try to escape; resistance is futile.  See?  I can be funny, too."

Balki watched as the man left to go outside before he glanced at the door where he assumed Larry and Bianca were.  He hoped they were getting better treatment than he was.  Surely this was all a big misunderstanding.  Bianca liked Max; how could she date someone who would try to hurt her?

"Meow."

Balki looked down at his feet to see a small grey and white cat rubbing his fur against Balki’s bound ankles.  "Well, I’ll be snookered!  How did you get in here?  You belong to Bianca’s date Max, don’t you?"

The cat purred in reply and Balki smiled thinly.  He hoped that the misunderstanding between Max and Bianca would be over soon so they could go back to Bianca’s and he could finish his bang bong binki ninki baklava.

*************************

Bianca closed her eyes and forced back the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks.  There was no way she was going to let Max see her distraught.  She glanced over at Larry, who sat tied in a brown metallic chair identical to hers, but he was biting his lip nervously.  She noticed he kept glancing towards the room where Balki was being held alone.  How dare Max keep them apart?

"You really don’t think you’re going to get away with this, do you?" Bianca asked, her voice low and menacing as she glared at Max, who stood in the left corner, playing with his phone.

Max looked up at her and laughed.  "My dear, who is going to be looking for you; your precious robots?  Your multi-lingual microwave?  I think not.  Now sit tight for a little bit while Daddy figures out what to do next."

"You mean, you don’t even have a plan?" Larry asked, eyes wide.

Leave it to Larry to wig out when even his kidnappers aren’t organized, Bianca thought, rolling her eyes.

"Oh, I have a plan, alright.  I just need the supplies to get here first.  You see, my dear Bianca, you are going to build another time machine so that I can use I for what I need to do.  If you don’t, I’m afraid your dear friends will have to be eliminated.  They managed to elude death in the past, but this time, they won’t be so lucky."

Bianca snorted.  "I was barely able to build my time machine.  What makes you think I’ll be able to build you one?"

"Because if you don’t," Max reminded her, using his fingers as an imaginary gun to aim and shoot at Larry, "they die."

"No pressure, right?" Larry asked nervously, glancing from Max to her.

"Now what is taking Urpos and Lylo so long?" Max asked aloud, walking towards the door.

"My guess is they’re out looking for new names," Bianca muttered under her breath, still struggling to get out of her ropes, which were now starting to hurt her torso.  Of all times to get kidnapped, it had to be when she was wearing a tight dress and heels!

Suddenly, with a loud bang, Bianca jumped as if she’d been shot.  The door dividing she and Larry from Balki was wide open and Max had disappeared.  The man in the doorway, however, was not who she expected.

"Like Kenny Loggins say, I’m free, baby!" Balki cried, throwing his arms wide.

"Balki!" Larry and Bianca cried in unison.

"How did you get untied?" Larry asked.

Suddenly, Bianca looked down.  "The cat!  The cat clawed you out of the ropes?"

"You are correct," Balki replied, scooping up the furry creature.  "This little kitty helped Balki to get his feet untied and then I tip the chair over and he do the same thing with my hands!  All he wanted was a few head scratches and the catnip in my pocket."

Larry smiled.  "Way to go, Balki – wait a second – did you say catnip in your pocket?"

"Yes.  Don’t you always carry catnip in your pocket, Cousin?"

"Guys, as much as I’d love to hear about why catnip is important, can we please get out of here before Max and the minions get back?" Bianca asked.

"Ugh," a voice moaned from somewhere in the room.

"That sounds like one of them now," Larry said, his voice strained as Balki quickly untied him.

"It is, but apparently, Max is out of commission for now.  When Balki threw open the door, he must’ve hit him with it.  He’s on the floor and down for the count," Bianca smiled, feeling better than she had in awhile as Larry moved to aid her escape.

"Hey!  Where do you think you’re going!" one of the guys cried out as he and his companion entered the room.

"Aw, crap," Bianca muttered under her breath as she realized she, Larry and Balki had nowhere to run.

*************************

"I said, where do you think you’re going?"

"Well, I thought we’d go back to Bianca’s place, have a nice chat and then call it a night," Balki replied slowly and Larry instantly placed his hand over his face in frustration.

"You thought wrong, idiot," Urpos snapped, getting ready to grab his Mypiot cousin.

Suddenly, an idea hit Larry and he sprang into action.  "Hey, Balki, buddy; how happy are you?"

"I am very happy, Cousin," Balki replied with a smile.

"How happy are you, Balki?" he repeated.

"I am very, very happy!" Balki said with much more fervor, catching on to what Larry was leading up to.  "In fact, we are so happy, we do the dance of joy!"

As Larry and Balki danced, he noticed how the two men could do nothing but watch in confusion and awe.  Larry knew there was no way he could afford to mess this up.  As he leapt into Balki’s arms, he flung both legs out, squarely kicking each of them simultaneously in the jaw.  Both Urpos and Lylo fell to the floor like dominoes, unconscious.

"Well, dat’s gonna leave a nasty mark," Balki observed before scooping up the cat.

"Bianca, what are you doing?  He’s waking up!" Larry hissed, trying to pull her away as she leaned over Max’s semi-unconscious body and pulled his phone from his pocket.

As the three of them ran out of the warehouse and out into the street, Larry noticed Bianca frantically trying to use Max’s phone.

"I’m trying to send a message to R.O.B. so he can reboot and send the machine here so we can leave!" she panted before he could ask.

"Who cares about the machine?" Larry argued.  "Let’s just hail a taxi and lay low at a motel!  We can have your machine sent to us there!"

"Guys, I lost – " Balki began, screeching to a halt, causing Larry and Bianca to run into him.

"Balki, don’t you ever – EVER – do that again," Larry growled, spinning him around to face him.

"But, Cousin, I – " Balki stammered.

Suddenly, Bianca cried out and both Larry and Balki focused their attention to the busy street ahead.

"The cat!" Larry and Bianca cried as the feline weaved through the busy intersection, causing horns to honk and brakes to screech rapidly.  The cat then darted back to Balki, but not before just bouncing off the hood of a yellow taxi, whose driver swerved and ended up squealing to a halt right next to them.

"TAXI!" Balki yelled anyway as Max’s former cat returned happily in his arms.

"Well," Larry began, his face twisted in confusion as he opened the car door for Bianca, "that was oddly convenient."

Bianca’s only reply was a loud and nervous sigh of both relief and exhaustion.

Continue . . . .