by Desert Nomad
In a few minutes, the G.I.M.P.S. were good to go. Each armed with a packet of hot chocolate, and Meltdown brandishing his lighter, they headed into the house. Tabby and Dani were instructed to stay outside. Twenty minutes later, there was no sign of progress.
"Think we should go in after them?" Dani asked.
"Probably," Tabby agreed. "But I'm not going to."
"Your sense of loyalty towards your friends is overwhelming."
"Yo, I protect a world that hates and fears me. There's nothing in that description about marshmallows."
Suddenly, the door opened. Ric walked out. By himself.
"Hot chocolate didn't work?"
"It worked. I'd just forgotten how incompetant those guys were. Pedro tried to melt one with his lighter. Which took him so long that the others had him fully engulfed in marshmallow before he could get the thing lighted. They dragged off Juan's Walkman. The man doesn't survive without the Walkman. And I don't know what happened to Rodriego. I lost him somewhere around the bathroom. I figured I'd come out and get some more hot chocolate."
A squeal of old, bad brakes turned all heads toward the street. An ancient station wagon had pulled up behind the conversion van. An equally ancient, almost elfin, little man stuck his head out.
"How you kids like the new house?"
The three X-Forcers looked at each other.
"So you're the one who sold Jimmy this house?"
"Did you mention the... infestation problem?"
"Oh. Well, um..."
"They started spawning, did they?"
"That's too bad. That's really too bad. Sorry, kids, can't help you."
"Liar!" shouted the little woman in the passenger side. "You filthy liar!"
"Shut up, you witch."
"We been through this already, Max! You gotta help those poor kids! They didn't know what they were goin' up against!"
Max sighed. "Fine. You kids want some advice?"
"You need a miracle."
"Thank you, we couldn't have guessed that," Tabby sniffed.
"Fortunately, I'm a miracle man."
"Well, then, that's different, now, isn't it?" Tabby added.
"It'll cost ya, though..."
"Okay, okay. Since we kinda got you into this, I'll give you this one for free." He rummaged around and pulled out a brown paper bag, which he handed to Rictor. "Find the Queen, and give this to her. It'll solve all your problems."
"Thanks, sir," Rictor said sincerely. He turned to his female compatriots. "You girls coming with me."
"Sure," Dani agreed.
"Not me," Tabby sniffed.
"Wish us luck," Ric said as he and Dani started into the house.
"Have fun stormin' the Inner Sanctum!" Max and his wife yelled.
"You think they have a chance?" his wife asked.
"It would take a miracle."
Once again, Dani found herself in that marshmallow-coated house of horror. Only, this time it was with Rambo Ric, the Peep Terminator. "I really, really should have just stuck with S.H.I.E.L.D.," she reminded herself again. They made it through the living room. A large cocoon of marshmallow was attached to one wall.
"Pedro," Ric explained. "I guess they deemed him too expendable to drag up to the Inner Sanctum.
Dani found Juan's Walkman on the stairs. The lively strains of Menudo where still escaping from the earphones. "I guess I'd better keep this for him," she decided.
Several times, Peeps tried to attack them in the hallway, but Ric or Dani tossed some of the hot chocolate on them. They scuttered off, making horrified squeaking noises. Finally, they reached the end of the hall.
"There's the closet," Ric whispered. Dani nodded. Just as they stepped forward, the floor fell out from under them. They were stuck in a pit of goo. Ric swore. "We were so close..." Peeps began to gather around the edge of the pit, staring in. One by one, they began to jump down. Ric tried to shake them, off, but they pinned his hands.
"This SUCKS!" Dani screamed, as the chicks and bunnies began to swarm her.
"I have to tell you something."
"Spit it out."
"I've always loved you."
"Okay, I haven't, but I needed something dramatic to say, and it was just hanging there."
"If you weren't about to die, I would kill you."
Suddenly, they were interrupted by a battle cry cultivated by way too many hours watching Xena, Warrior Princess. The Peeps surrounding them exploded in puffs of smoke and molten marshmallow.
"Mess with my hair, will you!"
"Tabitha," Dani and Ric agreed.
The marshmallow-coated head of Tabby Smith suddenly leaned into the pit.
"Need a little help?"
"We thought you weren't coming in."
"I had a little revenge to deal out," she sniffed. "Wanna make something of it?"
Ric managed to wrench one hand free and get to his knife to free them. "Anything up there you can throw down to us, Tab?"
"I'm lookin'. How 'bout 'Berto's slinky?"
"Not sturdy enough."
"Wait! Here we go. Someone's Official Indiana Jones Bullwhip. 'Not for use on wild animals... Cannot support over 50 pounds...' It's perfect! Guys, grab hold."
Amazing, the whip managed to hold until both Dani and Ric had climbed out of the pit.
"I like this thing," Tabby said, cracking the whip experimentally. "RAWHIDE!"
"Spirits, help us," Dani mumbled. "Ric, you still got that Miracle- in-a-Sack?"
"Yup. You girls ready?"
"Good to go," Tabby said, cracking the whip again. "Hi-YAH!"
Drawing his foot back, Ric kicked the door down. The Inner Sanctum was revealed. Light streamed into the dark closet, which somehow seemed bigger on the inside than the outside. Marshmallow clung to every wall. Against the wall were propped six marshmallow- wrapped forms. In the center of the room, a massive, yellow chick-shaped Peep sat on a mound of marshmallow. Other Peeps clustered around her, waving little palm fronds and fetching things for her.
"That's the Queen," Ric whispered.
"Peep!" the Queen announced. The Peep drones began to converge on the remaining members of X-Force.
Tabby cracked her whip vehemently. They backed off for a minute, then continued forward. Desperately, Ric tossed the brown paper back at the Queen.
"PEEP!" the Queen exclaimed, and hopped off her roost to examine the bag. She nosed inside it, and gave another jubilent peep. The other Peeps abandoned X-Force to see what the Queen had found. Finally, the Queen hopped out of the bag, clutching a clump of the green, plastic Easter grass in her beak. "Peeppeeppeep," she said to Ric.
"What'd she say?" Dani asked.
"She accepts our gift of peace and will release our friends if we promise to leave her home without a fight." He cleared his throat. "Peeppeep, peeppeeppeep."
The Queen nodded, and like magic, the marshmallow around the hostages released. They fell to the floor gasping. Tabby cracked her whip once more, for good measure.
"C'mon guys," Ric said. "Let's get out of here."
"So where do we go now?" 'Berto asked.
"Who knows?" Terry replied. "But whereever it is, Jimmy's not goin' househuntin'."
"It was an innocent mistake," Jimmy enunciated.
"Yeah. Unspeakable evil is a really easy thing to overlook."
"Hey, at least we got the lamp." Jimmy had somehow managed to salvage the plastic leg-shaped lamp on the way out, much to everyone else's chagrin.
"Well, folks, it's been real, but we've got to get home," Rodriego said, opening the door of the conversion van. Juan, happily listening to Menudo again, was already inside.
"Oh, by the way," Tabby said. "Tell your friend he can keep the codename." She patted the whip at her side lovingly. "From now on, I'm Rawhide."
Ric shrugged. "Oh, well. It's better than Wham!girl."
"SHUT UP, RIC! GEORGE MICHAEL WAS IN!"
"Where is Pedro, anyway?" Rodriego asked. "I haven't seen him."
Ric and Dani looked at each other.
"He went home on his own," they suddenly blurted out together.
"Hmm. Okay," Rodriego agreed. "See you, folks. I'll work on&127; that Irradication thing." He got in the van and drove off.
"Let's get out of here, too," 'Berto said. "I feel totally skeeved. I need a shower."
"Aw, man!" Ric suddenly exclaimed.
"What is it?" Dani asked.
"I forgot to use my line!"
"'My name is Julio Esteban Richter, you killed my puppy, prepare to die!' Fifteen years I had that line, and in all the excitement, I forgot to use it."
"Oh. I'm sorry, Ric. Well, look on the bright side. At least Jimmy hasn't found out about his bedsheets, yet."
"What about my bedsheets?"
"C'mon guys, let's jet."
"What about my bedsheets?"
Somewhere, in the dark, something was enjoying its Easter grass.
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