Velma struggled against the ropes holding her down to the log as the conveyor belt slowly started to move her towards the blade, the metal starting to spin as it slowly picked up speed. She looked frantically to one side, watching the gerbils running towards the grain, and then raised her eyes to the heavens.
"If there's a god up there," she thought to herself, "then do something about this - please!"
As she looked down to the spinning metal, she became dimly aware of a rushing sound in the air, and what sounded like a hoarse, deep voice calling "cffffmnnnnn." Looking to the far side of the building, Velma heard the sound getting louder, and then instinctively closed her eyes as the wall disintegrated into a mass of wooden splinters and dust.
"Oogga booga - you friend of Dee Dee?"
She opened her eyes to see - well, a walking hairball holding a club that was looking at her with big blue eyes. "Ysssss - gtmmttghr" Velma called out as the log started to approach the spinning blade.
"Oogga Booga - okeydokey," he said a she picked up Velma and the log and pointed his club into the sky, calling out his name as they shot through the ceiling. "Wsshshttttt!!!!" Velma called out as she saw the old sawmill collapse under her, and then felt the wind rushing into her face as she was gently lowered to the ground.
Reaching up to her mouth and pulling the cloth away from her mouth, Daphne stared at the man standing before her. Well, she assumed he was a man, but he seemed to suffering from some form of dwarfism as he said "You all right, toots?"
He spoke with a thick Brooklyn accent, and was wearing a smart pinstripe suit over a crisp white shirt, a gold tiepin keeping the silk length securely in place.
"I... I'm fine," Daphne finally said, "but I would appreciate some help in getting out of this."
"No problem," he said as he walked forward and opened a flick knife. Daphne gasped for a moment, before she watched him cutting away the rest of the ropes holding her in place.
"The name's Clyde," he finally said as Daphne stood up. "My family and Penelope's go back a long, long way. I was employed by her to take some photographs of the event when I saw you had disappeared, so I came looking for you."
"Clyde... You're not a descendant of one of the Anthill Mob, are you?"
"My great great uncle, since you ask so nicely. Anyway, what's a nice girl like you doing trussed up in a chair like that?"
"Long story - we need to find Penny, and fast!"
"What do you mean, they've gone missing?"
"I mean they've gone missing - both Velma and Daphne. Where did you last see her?"
Dee Dee was looking at Peter when she heard a rough cough behind her. "Me find friend," she heard Captain Caveman say, and as she turned round she saw Velma standing there, brushing the splinters from her hair as the strands of rope fell off her body.
"Velma," Penny said as she hugged her friend, "What happened to you?"
"Not what - who. You're not going to believe this, but I was snatched by the Hooded Claw."
The three of them looked at her, before Peter started to snigger. "The... The Hooded Claw? But he's dead, dead for decades, and we don't have anything to do with the Sneakly family now. I mean, you'll be telling me next that he used the old sawmill as a death trap."
"Actually," Velma said as she stared at Peter, "he did - and it's not there anymore." Captain Caveman looked sheepish as he whispered "Sorry..."
"I'm sorry," Peter said "but I refuse to believe it. What could he possibly be after?"
"The Star of Alamein."
Now it was Velma's turn to stare at Dee Dee. "I've heard of that - but I thought it had been stolen in Marrakesh a couple of months ago."
"It was - someone very skilled was hired to retrieve it and send it down a well established chain to a safe place. That jewel has a lot of history behind it, and the owner wanted to make sure it was where it could never be traced before she was able to retrieve it. I was the last person in the chain, and it's secured somewhere around here."
"The real owner - who's that?"
"That would be me."
The quartet turned to see a slim, olive skinned girl standing there, dressed in a light pink crop top, silk bolero jacket and matching pants, her long black hair hanging down her back in a pigtail. Behind her stood a man mountain, his arms folded as he watched over her with an almost paternal eye.
"I am Nida Bin Turhan," the girl said, "and this is my bodyguard, Hassan. Do I have the honour of addressing Miss Penelope Pitstop and Miss Dee Dee Sykes?"
"I don't suppose by any chance you saw who took me?"
Daphne and Clyde were heading towards the front of the house as she spoke, looking from side to side the whole time.
"'fraid not, Daphne. All I saw was this cloaked guy walking out of the room, and then when I came in there you were, freeing your wrist. I waited until you had finished, and would have said something but you took that blindfold off."
"Is that the camera you've been using," Daphne said as she looked at the digital device hanging round Clyde's neck. He nodded before saying "Want to have a look at the photos?" He handed the camera to her and watched as she quickly flicked through the shots, stopping and staring at one in particular.
"I think so - but we need to find the others." As the pair walked out of the front door, they saw Penny, Velma and Dee Dee talking with three strangers to Daphne.
"Daphne," Penny said as she ran over and hugged her friend, "What happened to you?"
"Long story - what happened to you, Velma?"
"Small case of a Hooded Claw - you?"
"Crazed kidnapper, I think. Want to introduce me to your friends?"
"In a minute - Clyde, when did you get here?"
"Been here all morning, Penelope," the smaller man said. "Looks like I missed some fun. Who's the tall broad - she saw me earlier."
"Oh, Dee Dee, this is Clyde Wheelwright, an old family friend. Clyde, this is Dee Dee Sykes - security. You've met Daphne - this is Velma Dinkley, her friend, Captain Caveman and Miss Nida bin Turhan and - friend."
Daphne looked at the small woman, who was staring at her brooch.
"The Star of Alamein - it arrived safely?"
"It did," Dee Dee said, "but someone has been following the trail to here - someone who has decided to impersonate an old friend of Penelope's."
"Friend is putting it too politely," Penny said. "Whoever it is is trying to scare me by pretending to be the family fiend. But I swear, we have nothing to do with the Sneakly family."
Looking round, Daphne said "Hey - is Peter here?"
"He was a moment ago," Dee Dee said as she too looked round, "but I guess he's gone off somewhere. Why?"
"Oh, no reason - look, something bad is going down here, and we want to help. Penny, you and Nida go inside and stay there until we get a chance to find out what's going on. Velma, you and I are going to go and have a look at the place you were held hostage - see if there are any clues there. Clyde, you and the others stay here and keep an eye on things."
"Sure thing toots - but who's going to keep an eye on you?"
"We'll manage for now," Daphne said as she removed her brooch and handed it to Dee Dee. "You'd better keep that safe here," she said as she and Velma headed off through the people to the lake.
"We'd better go inside," Penny said as she headed for the doorway, followed by Dee Dee, Nida and her man, as Clyde and Captain Caveman looked at each other.
"What are you looking at," Clyde said with a snarl.
"Oogga Booga little man good friend?"
"To Penny - always. Why?"
"Oogga Booga me to Dee Dee - we help each other?" He extended a bare arm from the hair over his body and waited as Clyde shook his hand.
"All right - what do you think we should do?"
Captain Caveman waved at him as he walked towards the stalls. "Oogga Booga mingle and see what we find," he said quietly as they walked into the crowds.
"He really did a number on this, didn't he," Daphne said as she and Velma look at the smoking ruins of what had been the sawmill.
"I get the feeling he's like a force of nature - you let him loose and get out of the way," Velma said as she picked over a broken plank. "Hang on a minute - Daphne, have a look at this."
Daphne lowered herself down, her skirt flowing out under eh as she looked at the trail of breadcrumbs. "I don't get it," she finally said, "what has this to do with your snatching?"
"Only this," Velma said with a smile, "These aren't breadcrumbs, but gerbil food. Those idiots must have had a leak in the sack."
"I still don't get that - a bunch of gerbils to drive a dynamo? It's like something out of..."
"An old movie serial 0 I know," Velma said as the friends walked towards a boathouse by the lake. "Well, we always say follow the trail, and here we are, following the trail."
"Do you think we should call the boys?"
"What, and have them take all the credit? Nah, come on." Daphne walked quickly towards the boathouse, opening the door and walking in.
"That's funny," Velma said as she looked outside, "There's at least four sets of footprints out here, and one of them is much fresher. Daphs, what can you see in there?"
Velma looked at the open door, and slowly pushed it into the darkened boathouse. "Daphne?" she said again as she walked in, before blackness descended on her a something hit the back of her head.
"This way, your highness," Dee Dee said as she opened a door to the dining room, standing to one side as Nida and Penny walked in.
"Where Nida goes, I go," the tall man said as she looked at Dee Dee.
"And where Penny goes, I go," Dee Dee replied, as she allowed the man to enter first. As she came in, she saw him staring round the empty room, and then looked to the open bay windows. Running to them, she saw both Penny and Nida been carried away by two men - two men dressed in jackets and roll necked sweaters...