"It was nice of Fred to let us borrow the van for the weekend." Velma nodded as she sat beside Daphne in the front of the Mystery Machine, reading the map as the brightly coloured van made its way out of their home town.
"Well, he was so intent on staying in town for the Trap Convention, and Shaggy had the track meet, so neither of them really wanted to come with us," Velma eventually said as she closed the book. "It makes a nice change for us to have a girl's weekend."
Daphne nodded, her green scarf moving slightly in the breeze that came in through the open window. "Oh I so agree - I love Fred dearly, but we do need some time away from them and the Mystery Incorporated team."
Velma nodded as she crossed her arms in front of her. "So this cousin of yours - how well do you know her?"
"Oh, we used to visit them all the time when we were all younger," Daphne said as they turned onto the freeway. "Penny and I used to play together all the time while my sisters were busy been the best they were at what they did. She was definitely the most normal person I knew."
"As opposed to now," Thelma said, a small smile crossing her face.
"Oh come on, you know what I mean," Daphne said with another smile. "Despite the fact her great-grandmother was a world famous racing driver, it doesn't mean that she is one."
"But she is, isn't she? After all, the papers are full of the exploits of her on the NASCAR circuit - the first female to be accepted, isn't she? So what is happening at her mansion this weekend that she wants you to be at."
"Believe it or not," Daphne said, "It's a celebration of her family history. In fact, she's getting out the car her great-grandmother drove for people to look at. And I'm told she has a special outfit planned for the occasion..."
Marrakesh, two weeks previously.
She walked down the narrow alleyways, her head held high as she stopped from time to time to speak with the stall holders. Her shoulders were bare, the sleeves of her peasant style top pulled down over her shoulders, while the brown trousers she was wearing seemed to move like a second skin on her as she walked. Her feet were in a pair of open heeled sandals, while over her jet black hair she wore a scarf, tied over it so that only her fringe was showing, and made of material the same colour as her pants.
As she approached one particular building, the stone bleached white by the fierce sun, she glanced quickly from side to side and behind her, a smile playing on her red lips as she slipped through a curtain that covered the entrance.
"Abdul," she called out in the darkened room, "Abdul, are you her?"
"Abdul is - indisposed," a voice in the shadows said, strangely high pitched and whining. It was obviously not her contact, so she stood still, her hand reaching behind her back as she said "If you are a brave man, show yourself."
"I am a brave man," the voice continued as she saw someone step out of the shadows, "but I am also a cautious one, Ms Jezebel Jade. Boys?"
Before she had a chance to react, Jezebel felt her arms been grabbed. Out of nowhere, on each side of her had appeared a tall, burly man, one of their hands on her arm as they half walked, half pushed her towards an ottoman couch that lay in the centre of the floor.
"Make sure she cannot interrupt our conversation by trying to escape, boys," the voice commanded, and despite her struggling Jezebel felt her arms been pulled behind her and something rough been pulled against the skin on her wrists. As she felt her arms been pulled back, she turned in the direction the voice had come from and said "A real gentleman would not have someone do their dirty work for them."
"Well, it's just as well I'm not a real gentleman," the voice replied, and from the shadows Jezebel saw a thin man step out, dressed in a khaki shirt and shorts, but rather incongruously with a purple eye mask tied over his upper face and a green fedora perched on his head.
"Do I know you," she said as she felt her ankles been pulled together.
"I don't think we've had the pleasure," he said with a laugh that made Jezebel's skin crawl slightly. She had faced many villains in her time, and had worked alongside some as well, but this one - this one, for some reason, seemed worse than all of them, despite his stature.
"No, we haven't, my dear," he said as his two henchmen stood back. "But I'm sure we can get better acquainted once you answer one trifling little question for me."
"Oh - and what is that?"
"Where is the Star of Alamein?"
Jezebel looked into his tiny, blue eyes before she started laughing. "The Star of Alamein? Now why would I know where that is?"
"Because you stole it two days ago, Miss Jade."
"I prefer to think I returned it to the rightful owner," Jezebel replied in a steely tone. "It was taken from her many years ago, and I was - asked to make sure it was brought home safely."
"Oh - and where might that home be?"
Jezebel laughed as he said this. "Do you honestly expect me to tell you where it is?"
"Frankly, my dear, no," was the reply before he nodded, and Jezebel felt a large rough length of linen been pushed into her mouth, before a second was pulled tightly between her lips. "Trash the place," he said as Jezebel was pushed onto her side, her eyes meeting his as he knelt behind her and whispered "I want to teach Miss Jade the error of her ways..."
"You have got to be joking," Velma said as Daphne turned and drove the Machine through a set of high, ornately worked iron gates, the drive running through an avenue of low hanging sycamore trees until it opened out onto what could only be called a castle. The house was large, square, and built in the style of an English manor house, with wide grass lawns on all sides and a large gravelled area in the front.
"Yeah - nice, isn't it," Daphne said as she stopped the van and turned the engine off, stepping out as Velma also left the vehicle, pulling her jumper down over her short skirt as she did so. As she turned to look at the house, she saw two men, dressed in white shirts with waistcoats and dark trousers, walk towards them.
"Miss Blake, Miss Dinkley, you are expected," one of them said as the other took their bags from the rear of the vehicle. "If you will come with me, the mistress is waiting for you in the drawing room."
The two girls looked at each other, then followed him as their bags were taken to another part of the house. They entered the building, walking down the oak lined hallways until he stopped and knocked on a heavy door.
"Yes," they heard a young woman call out.
"Miss Blake and Miss Dinkley have arrived, Madame," he said as he opened the door and showed the two girls in. A young woman, with blonde hair that fell down her head and shoulders reaching almost to her waist, turned and ran over, embracing Daphne as she said "Daffs!! How long has it been!!"
"Too long, Penny," Daphne said as she returned the hugs. "Penny, I want you to meet my very dear friend Velma Dinkley. Velma, this is..."
"Penny Pitstop," Velma said as she shook Penny's hand. "I'm a big fan of yours."
"You are," Daphne said as she looked at Velma. "You never told me."
"You never told me about your crush on Jonny," Velma shot back.
"Jonny? Jonny who? Daphne, I thought you were saying some 'lovable lunkhead called Fred', as you put it the other day."
"All right," Daphne said as she blushed slightly. "Enough of that - is this portrait who I think it is?"
"It is," the blonde said as the three girls looked up above the ceiling. It showed a young woman, the spitting likeness of Penny, dressed in an old style red driving jacket over a high collared purple dress, with matching gloves over her hands. Her legs were encased in a pair of red riding britches, and over her lower legs were a pair of white boots. A driving cap, in the same shade as her dress and gloves, was fastened on her head, and a pair of goggles sat on the front of them. She was smiling, and standing behind an old, but rather strange looking racing car.
"That's her," Penny said with a smile, "Great-Grandmother Pitstop, the darling of the 1920's racing circuit."
"It's not here, boss," the henchman said as the masked man stood up. On the ottoman, he could hear Jezebel laugh through the thick gag.
"You must have sent it on," he said as he looked at her angrily, "Who did you send it to?"
Jezebel stared back, not afraid of what he might do, but before he had a chance to do anything the second henchman said "Boss!! I found a shipping receipt!!"
"Bring it here," the thin man said a she took a pair of wire spectacles out and put them over his nose. "Oh this is rich," he said a she started to laugh, "This is too rich. Thank you for your time, Miss Jade - we won't keep you any further."
"Where are we going, Boss," the first henchman said as the three men slipped out of the building.
"We're going home, boys," the thin man said with a cackle, "to meet some old friends..."