As Penny escorted Daphne and Velma into the dining room, they found a tall, well built African American woman sitting there already, who stood up as they came in.
"Hi Daphne," she said as she came over and embraced the new arrival, "It's been a long time!"
"DEE!" Daphne exclaimed as she returned the hug, "I didn't know you would be here!"
"Penelope employed me to help with the security arrangements," she said as she finally let go of Daphne. She was dressed in a red roll neck sweater, blue denim skirt and knee high red leather boots, with her hair tightly permed.
"So you know Dee Dee - I should have realised you would have met before."
"It was a mystery convention," Velma said as she sat down at the table, "Dee and the others were there as well. We'll tell you the tale later. What's for dinner anyway?"
"Are you sure something of Shaggy hasn't rubbed off on you," Daphne said as she sat at the table as well. Dee Dee laughed before saying "And how are the two lunks anyway? Fred still obsessed with traps?"
"All the time," Daphne said as the servants brought in the dinner, "All the time..."
New York, one week previously
"Well, boys, I guess we'll be home soon enough - but what say we take in some of the sights as we look over this fine city - what do you say, Officer?"
The blonde haired woman stared at the three men, eyes wide under her round glasses, and screamed into the heavy cloth gag that filled her mouth. She was still dressed in the outfit she had worn to work that day - the regulation blue female officer's uniform of the NYPD, where she worked as a data analyst and telecommunications specialist.
"Whhhsssduwnt," she mumbled as she tried to twist round in the tight ropes, holding her firmly to the metal pole on the high balcony of the Empire State Building. Her wrists were tightly secured behind her back, while ropes encircled her ankles, legs, waist and chest.
"Now then, my dear Miss Thyme, I need to you tell me some information, if you would be so kind."
"Iddnntkwwhtuwnt," the officer mumbled as she kept trying to break free.
"I know that you, Miss Rosemary Thyme, have been helping to co-ordinate the police support for the transportation of a delivery from Marrakesh, and I need to know the eventual destination of that delivery. Now, I am sure you may want to tell us, but I so hope you are going to refuse. Which is it going to be, Rosemary?"
"Mnntggngntlunfngufnd..." Rosemary mumbled as she looked round. She was hoping, praying that her saviour would show up to rescue her, as he always did, but so far there was no sign of him. She turned her head back to look at the trio, only to scream as the two bulks of muscle stepped forward and picked her and the support she was tied to up as if it was a paperweight.
"Perhaps the beauty of the view will help you to refresh your memory, reconsider your decision," the third man said. He looked like a throwback to a hundred years before, in his purple double breasted suit and green fedora, but the eye mask covering his face made him look menacing,
"Now, my dear," he whispered as Rosemary found herself looking down the 102 floors to the ground, "where did the Star of Alamein get delivered to?"
"NNNNGNNNNNFFFNNNNNNNNN" Rosemary screamed as the glasses slipped off her face, falling slowly to the ground.....
".....and it's 7 am here in Richville. You're listening to the mellow sounds of Casey Kasem Jr. Today is the grand opening of the Pitstop Memorial Weekend, and I wanted to remind you that the gates at Pitstop Place will be opening from 10 am for everyone to come. There will be stalls, rides, and you too will be able to sit in the famous Compact Pussycat...."
Daphne turned over and switched off the radio, before lying on her back and staring up at the ceiling. The four girls had sat up late into the night, talking about their experiences and adventures, but they had all known it was going to be an early start today.
Eventually, she threw back the covers and stood up, smoothing down her short purple nightie as she headed to where the dressing gown was hanging from the door. As she slipped it on, she looked out of the window onto the vast lawns, as workmen set up tents, stands and a large dais.
"Beautiful day for a party, isn't it?"
Daphne turned to see a tall, blonde haired man standing there, his jaw rugged and his manner straight. He was wearing a white polo shirt over a dark jumper, riding breeches and boots.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. I'm Peter, Penny's brother. I'm surprised you don't remember me."
"Oh I remember you now," Daphne said with a laugh, "but the last time I saw you you were a little squirt in shorts, and now..."
"Now I'm a bigger squirt," Peter said with a laugh. "Penny asked me to come up and tell you that breakfast is ready, if you want to come down." He looked at her and said "we don't stand on ceremony too often around here, so come as you are." He turned and left the room, Daphne following as she tied the dressing gown around her with a sash.
As she entered the dining room, she found Velma already sitting there, deeply immersed in a combination of pancakes and a technical manual. She was wearing a set of tan coloured coveralls over her red jumper, and smiled as she looked up.
"Ohhdfne," she said through a mouthful of food, swallowing before she continued "I've been helping the mechanics to set up the Pussycat. For a real vintage car, it sure moves sweetly."
"I'm glad to hear it," Penny said as she walked in. She was wearing the driving costume her great grandmother had worn, although the heavy gloves were in her hands as she put them down on the table and helped herself to some coffee.
"You really do look like the original Penelope," Daphne said as she cut into some bacon, "how does it feel to wear that outfit."
"Stiff - give me the coveralls and helmet any day," Penny said as she sat back down. "Peter, have you seen Dee Dee today?"
"Yeah - she said she had some security matters to take care of, staff briefings and so on. Why?
"There's something I need to ask her about," Penny said as she drank from the cup, "but it can wait. Daphne, I hope you don't mind, but I've asked for an outfit to be put in your room for you to wear today. It's about your size."
"Oh joy," Velma said as she looked up at the ceiling, "and what shade of purple is this one in?"
"It isn't," Jenny said as she put her cup down, "and the outfit I've put on your bed is not in orange either. You two need to mix up your dress sense a little."
"I keep telling her that, but..."
"Sorry to interrupt, folks," Dee Dee said as she walked in, "but I thought you ought to know the Pussycat is now in place, and we're going to open the doors in an hour. Oh, Penny - this came for you."
She handed Penny a plain white envelope, addressed to Miss Penelope Pitstop, but not stamped or franked. Penny opened it, and pulled out a card with "A Special Message" written on it.
"Now who can this be from," she said as she opened the card, only for a high pitched voice to say "I'll Get You, Penelope Pitstop, Mwwwahhhhaaahhaaaaaa...."
"Oooookayyyy," Penny said as she closed the card, "That was different. Wonder who sent it?"
"I don't get it," Peter said as he picked up the card, "What on earth is he talking about?"
Dee Dee and Daphne looked at Penny as Velma examined the card. "Standard voice card - easy enough to make," she said as she looked carefully at it, "but why send it today? And who sent it?"
"It can't be - it just can't be, he died decades ago."
Velma looked at Penny as she said this. "Who died?"
Penny looked at everyone else as she slowly said "The Hooded Claw."
Rosemary screamed again as she was pulled back from the brink and set upright, her eyes wide with fear as the masked man walked up to her and stroked her cheek.
"I will ask once again, my dear girl, where was the Star of Alamein sent."
"Lttlluu," she mumbled as she looked at him with pleading eyes. He reached round and untied the scarf, removing the cloth as she said with a heavy Bronx accent, "All right, all right , I'll tell you."
"Sensible girl," he said with a smile, "I'm waiting."
"It was sent to someone on the west coast - he name was Brenda, and she was one of a trio of detectives. I swear that's all I know?"
"Oh I think you know something else - the address?"
"It was an old amusement park near Haight-Ashbury - and I swear that's all I know. The courier was most insistent."
"Ah well, at least it's a start," he said a she pushed the cloth back into her mouth and tightened it, "I can always ask around there. Come on boys - we need to catch a plane."
"Yes Boss," the two muscle men said as they walked off, leaving Rosemary to struggle and scream before she heard some faint Chinese rock music...