As Velma slowly opened her eyes, she realised very quickly that she was not exactly in Kansas anymore. Nor, for that matter, was she in the boathouse as she heard the soft lap of water against wood. She tried moving her arms, only to realise with a growing sense of inevitability that she was unable to move them at all.
"Hgdddd, ntgggn," she heard herself say, which was a surprise as she had wanted to say "Oh god, not again." She moved her lips, feeling the cotton that they seemed to be resting on again as well as pressing down on her tongue, and came to the conclusion that she had been gagged with cloth. From the feel of her fingers, she figured that her arms were been held together with some sort of rough hemp.
"Open your eyes, Velma - might as well see what's going on," she thought to herself, and with some effort she forced her eyelids apart, to be greeted by the sight of a wide eyed Daphne staring back at her from the other side of the boat they were sitting in.
"Tssnnffrfnmssuvgtmnnttt," she mumbled through the thick white scarf that had been forced between her teeth, her eyes looking at her friend. Daphne's arms had been lashed to her side, while her wrists were tied tightly together in front of her. Velma followed the line of the rope as it went to the bottom of the boat, through an iron ring fixed to the bottom and then back up to where it was tied around her own wrists. As her eyes followed the rope, she saw the rope also tied round her ankles, half hidden by the skirt she was wearing.
"Whthppnd," Velma said as she looked at Daphne. The redhead hunched her shoulders, but as she pulled accidentally on the rope she saw to her horror a small trickle of water appear round the wood that the ring was attached to.
"WHHDDDDDTSDDD -HLLPPPPPP!" both Daphne and Velma screamed as they looked frantically round, the boat bobbing lazily in the centre of the lake with no one in sight, and the water starting to slowly, slowly bubble up as their movements worked the plug looser....
"I am so sorry to keep you hanging around, ladies."
Penny stared at the man standing in front of her, as she swung slowly from side to side. She was hanging from a hook in the ceiling, the rope that had been used to bind her gloved hands together looped over it and keeping her arms elevated above her head. Next to her was Nida, who was staring at the man with pure hatred.
"You," she said in a voice that showed why she was a princess, "I should have taken care of you when I had the chance." Her jacket was lying on the floor behind her, the rope cutting into the bare skin of her arms as she swung round.
"Ah, but then I would never have had the pleasure of renewing my acquaintance with the wonderful Pitstop family. We have a lot of history between our families, you and I."
"I don't believe it," Penny finally said, "There really is another Hooded Claw running round?"
"At your service, my dear Miss Pitstop," the man said as he took off his oversized Fedora and made a deep bow, his short brown hair visible over the purple eye mask. "Finally, I get my revenge as well as the Star of Alamein - a most precious item, your highness, and most foolish of you to send it this way."
"It had to be kept out of your hands," Nida said as she spat at the Claw, "and I will ensure you never get your hands on it." As he replaced his hat, Penny tried to pull her legs up, only to realise the futility of it as her ankles were tightly bound and fastened to an iron ring set into the ground.
The two captives had been brought by the muscle men to a van that had been parked discretely in the grounds around Pitstop Manor, before they had been secured in place. Now Penny and Nida looked at each other, as the man who clearly was the Hooded Claw cackled gleefully.
"If you will observe," he finally said, "at the other side of the van is a substantial quantity of dynamite, with a fuse running to the centre of the floor of the van. If you now glance up, you will see that large magnifying glass has been fixed to the roof, directly above the end of the fuse. In a few moments, I will pull the roof back from the top of the van, and the afternoon sun will shine down, allowing the glass to concentrate the rays on the fuse and light it. You get the chance to get a suntan and watch your last seconds tick away - unless, of course," he said as he looked at Nida and Penny, "You tell me where the Star is."
Penny looked at Nida, and then the two men, then at the Claw, before coming to a similar conclusion to that Velma had reached some hours before. As she was in a position to speak, however, she gave it full voice.
"You're a loony!"
"I do not understand this word 'Loony', but you are most certainly not of sound mind," Nida said as she stared into his masked eyes.
"Details, details, sticks and stones," he said as he put on an opera cloak. "If you will not tell me, then I must go and search for myself. Goodbye, ladies - it has been a pleasure. Boys, ensure their last moments are silent, and then pull the roof back."
"What do yummmfmfmff," Penny said as one of the man mountains pushed a cloth into her mouth, and then covered it with grey tape, the second one affording the same to Nida. They stared on mutely as they turned a handle, retracting the roof of the van, and then left them there as the sun started to shine down through the space and onto the lens....
"You asked for us, doll?"
Clyde and Captain Caveman walked into the front room, where Dee Dee and Hassan were standing with a worried expression on their faces.
"Boys, Penny and Nida have been snatched," she said as soon as they arrived, "by two big burly men."
"Wearing turtle neck sweaters and tweed jackets?"
Dee Dee stared at the diminutive man as he replied. "Yeah, exactly right - do you know them?"
"Know of them - they're a couple of strong arms for hire, work for the highest wage, that sort of thing. Had a couple of brushes with them a few years back, but I thought they were in the pen."
"Well, they are not, little man," Hassan said as he slammed his fist down on the table, "and they have my princess. Hassan does not take kindly to been fooled this way - and he wishes to find them."
"Oogga Booga you want Cavey to fly over, see if he can see them?"
"If you would, Cavey that would be..." They group looked up as the door opened and two women walked in.
"Taffy! Brenda! Thank god you're both all right."
"Thank Cavey Wavey here," Taffy said as she hugged her old friend. "Listen, did the package arrive safely?"
"It arrived safely - but Daphne is wearing it right now."
"Daphne? Daphne Blake? Is she here - and more to the point, is that dreamy hunk Fred Jones with her?"
"Calm down Taffy - she and Velma are here on their own, but they seem to have disappeared as well. If I tell you where they went, can you go and see if you can find them? Cavey, you take off and see if you can find Penny and Nida."
He snapped a salute, waved his club, screamed "Captain...CAAAVEEEEMMAAAANNNNN" and took off, taking the French doors with him as he crashed out of the building.
"He always do that?" Clyde said, watching as all three of the Teen Angels nodded.
"A man of hidden talents," Hassan said as he smiled and nodded. "What can we do in the meantime?"
"Taffy, Brenda, here's where you go. You two, come with me - I think we need to find Peter Pitstop and ask him a few questions..."
Velma looked over at Daphne, her toes splashing in the water as it slowly seeped into the boat, and tried to make herself as understood as possible.
"Hwrrwgttngtftsss," she mumbled as she looked around the lake, the waters calm and peaceful. Daphne shook her head from side to side as she tried to wriggle her hands free, praying that she would somehow manage to free herself without causing the leak to grow in speed. As she did so, she tried to remember what had happened previously.
She had gone into the boat house, while Velma had been looking round the ground outside. It had been dim, but not dark, with the open doors, but even then she had not seen who it was who had grabbed her and pulled the burlap sack over her head before binding her. She had been pushed into a boat, that much she remembered, and then she had heard the thud as someone - Velma, obviously - had been put in with her.
After that it was a blur - she had been secured, and she presumed Velma had a swell, before they had been towed out into the centre of the lake. The sack had been pulled off from behind her, and then the gag applied, but she had seen a glimpse of a tall man with broad shoulders heading off in a small power boat before they had been left alone. Something about the man had seemed familiar, but she could not quite place what it was as...
To her horror, she realised that the water was now flowing faster into the boat, and Velma actually seemed to be trying to pull the cork out.
"Whhtttuurrddnnggg," she called out as Velma tugged as hard as she could, causing the plug to finally come out of the bottom of the boat and the water to start flowing in....
Dee Dee looked up into the sky as she looked at the tiny speck floating in the air. "Any sign of them yet, Cavey?"
The speck seemed to look down and shake, as it suddenly turned and flew off in a different direction.
"Hey - I heard you were looking for me?"
She turned suddenly as she heard Peter behind her, glancing down at the sawdust on his boots and trying to avoid his smile.
"Where on earth have you been - Penny has been kidnapped with a guest, Daphne and Velma have gone missing, and the whole place seems to be going to heck in a hand basket. Where have you been?"
"I went for a walk - look, I need to go and get changed. I have to catch a late flight." As he walked off, Dee Dee looked at him, her eyes narrowing as she turned.
"Want me to follow him, toots?"
She nodded and watched as Clyde went in the same direction as Peter, keeping a safe distance behind.
Penny screamed through her tape gag as she saw smoke starting to rise from the end of the fuse, and a red glow slowly start to form in the cord. She twisted her body round like mad, Nida joining her as the sun's rays seemed to be about to start the fuse that would end all things.
As the cord suddenly sparked and started to fizzle, a black cloud passed fleetingly overhead - a cloud that started to race down as the cord burned quickly towards the dynamite....
In his room, Peter took the small cloth out of his pocket and looked at the glittering jewel inside. "It could have been so different, Daphne," he said as he pushed it into a pair of socks, and started to pack his case, not noticing the pair of eyes that was watching him.
"PHWWWWORRRRR!!!" Daphne opened her mouth, taking great gulps of air as she and Velma finally managed to break the surface f the lake. "Next time, tell me the only way to get free was to pull the plug and help each other!"
"Hey I tried to - thick cloth in my mouth," Velma replied as they both shook the cords from their wrists. "at any rate, at least we broke free - but these clothes are getting heavier. What we need now is a boat."
"Zowie - we made it just in time," she heard a voice say, and turning round she saw Brenda and Taffy approaching in a power boat.
"Need a lift," Brenda said as they helped the two soaked women into the boat. "Thanks," Daphne said, "I don't know what would have happened if..."
Her words were cut off by a massive explosion on the grounds of the Manor.