Chapter 1: The Tickets
One more drop, and that should do the trick.
Jumba Jookiba crouched over a table, his eyes fixated on the beads of orange liquid slowly travelling down one glass tube that he was holding, his hand carefully controlling the slope and thus the rate of decent, and into another that was placed in a holding contraption fixed on the wooden bench.
The drop quivered at the end. Jumba was holding it just sloped enough that it would fall off the side, but not sloped enough that it would break tension with the container. Just a little more slope should do the trick…
“I got them!”
In his surprise, Jumba panickedly dropped the test tube, which shattered on impact with the desk. He watched as the orange liquid melted a hole halfway through the table, leaving a distinctive black colouration around the well it had created.
Jumba turned around and gave the owner of the voice, the yellow alien Wendy Pleakley, a stare that he thought indicated just how annoyed he was with him, and exactly how important this had better be.
“Erm, well, I could come at a better time…”
“It is taking me three weeks to obtain dealer with ceturian acid, and another two months for it to get here. Tell me now, so that my time may not be for waste.”
Pleakley timidly extracted some little bits of paper and held them before two of Jumba’s four eyes.
“Well, I entered this contest for a family trip to Japan, and apparently I won it and stuff.”
A loud bang, rather much like a backfiring vehicular vehicle, emanated from the table, and a thick grey smoke began to spew from the hole.
“Jumba, what was that sound?”
Nani, a (very human) twenty-something-year-old, came running in, her pink fluffy nightcap drooping somewhat across her shoulder.
“Er, nothing to be afraid of. Pleakley was just-“
“Did Jumba blow up the house again?”
A young Hawaiian girl with long black hair and big brown eyes, dressed in a green nightgown and holding a rather crudely-constructed doll, wandered in, and behind her, what may have looked like a blue fluffy koala at some point in time.
“Er, Little Girl, of course I am not blowing up house, otherwise would not be still he-“
The blue koala had grabbed the small leafs of paper from Pleakley’s outstretched hand and was now examining them.
“Hey, give that back, you little monster!”
“Naga!” the blue furball said defiantly, and with that climbed to the roof, far away from Pleakley’s desperate attempts to grab them.
“Stitch, give Pleakley back his weird pieces of paper,” said the little girl.
“They’re not weird pieces of paper, they’re-“
“Naw,” complained the koala-thing, and he placed the papers on top of Pleakley’s head.
Jumba quickly shifted his gaze to the table, which was now belching smoke through the (thankfully open) window.
“Er, I’m not sure it’s being a good idea to be in here…”
Nani looked at Jumba, as if unsure of what he was saying; the next second, realisation entered her eyes, and she grabbed Lilo and rushed down the hallway as fast as her legs would carry her.
Jumba took Experiment 626 in one hand and, grabbing Pleakley by the other, hurried as fast as he could out the door.
As the dust and smoke cleared from the hallway, Jumba nervously peeked back into his bedroom.
Where the table had been, there was now a pile of ash, with two of the four legs laying among the substance in varying states of disrepair. The rest of the table, Jumba noticed with some amusement, was embedded into the other wall as sharp spikes, as was the other two legs. The wall opposite to the door now held a gaping rip where the window had been, and glass, gleaming in the early morning sunlight, littered the floor below.
Footsteps indicated that Nani was coming back to check on the damage.
“I’ve taken Lilo back to her bedroom. What’s-“
She stopped when she saw exactly where the table was now.
“But that’ll cost- and we don’t-“
Her teeth clenched, her arms straightened downwards, and her hands formed fists. Jumba braced – he knew what was coming.
“-and after all the times I’ve told you not to handle dangerous chemicals, what do you do?”
Jumba slouched into the couch in the living room. There was no use arguing with Nani when she was in her moods, so he might as well weather it out.
“And for what? Another evil experiment that’ll run around destroying things?”
“Hey!” Now it was personal (or at least, more personal than before.) “I have completely absolutely one-hundred-percent giving up experiment creating this time!”
“That’s what you said LAST TIME! And what happened next? You created 628!”
Jumba ignored her accusations. “I was creating stable high-powered semiconductor, which however requires unstable elements to construct. Is only theory so far, was hoping to make it real.”
“And what, blow up the house in the process? If you-”
Jumba raised one of his pudgy purple fingers. “Actually, is not my fault.”
“-then we wouldn’t- wait, what do you mean, not your fault?”
“Pleakley made me drop beaker by shouting in my ear – something about tickets or something. If not for him, no blowing up.”
Nani turned her head to face through one of the doors in the living room down the end of a corridor. Jumba followed her gaze – a single yellow foot could be seen coming out of the alcove at the end.
“Pleakley. Come. Here.”
Very hesitatingly, Pleakley slowly walked down the hallway and into the living room.
“Well… I didn’t know he was handling dangerous chemicals!” Pleakley said. “If there was any indication-“
“Indication? I was having sign on door saying ‘keep out, evil genius working with dangerous chemicals’!”
“Well a lot of good that did – you left the door open!”
“I am- wait, I did?”
Come to think of it, if Pleakley had opened the door, he probably would have heard it. But he was sure he’d had closed it…
It must have happened when he’d gotten the salkine solution. Urgh.
“So the swinging pendulum swings back to you, Jumba.” Nani gave him a rather angry glare. “How am I supposed to pay for this mess?”
“Well,” said Jumba, “I have some contacts in the construction business who are using one of my patented technologies for free, and exchange they have been doing some building projects for me. I guess I could be – how-you-say - pulling some strings.”
“That’s what I- really?”
Nani slumped onto the couch beside him. “They know how to use wood, right? Because one alien-metal-room in this house is enough.”
Pleakley and Jumba exchanged knowing looks. Nani didn’t know about Jumba’s underground laboratory, and he saw no need to tell her.
“So, what did you want to tell Jumba, Pleakley?”
“Oh, well…“ He glanced to the side nervously. “I entered a competition for a family trip to Japan, and it seems like I, well, won.”
Nani sat up. “Won?”
“Yeah, won! I had to write an essay, though – here’s a copy.”
Pleakley produced three sheets of paper stapled together.
“‘Why I am liking Earth’? That seems like odd topic…”
“I think it’s by a travel company, so that might be why.”
Jumba briefly read through the essay. Unusually, it seemed pretty well informed, although it might have helped that most of it didn’t go into specifics, and some of it could be read as an attempt at being funny.
“I hate to be saying this, but this essay isn’t too bad.”
“So these tickets-” Nani pointed to the pieces of paper resting neatly on Pleakley’s head, “-are for Japan – as in the archipelago in Asia – and they’re free.”
Pleakley nodded, grabbing them from atop his noggin. “Tokyo, to be precise.”
Nani slouched back down and stared at the windows outside.
“I dunno. What about the hotel rooms? They’re not likely to be cheap.”
“Oh, no problem – I’ve been selling some of my clothing online. I just have a bit, but it should be enough to cover us.”
“You’ve been earning money? And here I’ve been just scraping by to feed the lot of you…”
Pleakley started. “I didn’t know you were having difficulty, otherwise I would have offered to pay board or something!”
“You didn’t-” Nani fumed for a moment, then sighed. “Never mind. I’ll tell Mr. Jameson I’m taking next week off, and we can start packing tomorrow. Who knows, it might be nice to get away from the islands.”
Jumba rubbed his chin.
“What is it?” asked Pleakley.
“Well, have always wanted to see 626 destroy large city…”
Nani moaned. Trust Jumba to turn this into something destructive.
Lilo looked up from her morning cereal. Nani had a grin on her face, and a grin meant bad news.
“What was the boom?” she asked.
“Hmm? Oh, that’s nothing,” Nani replied, shoving a few eggs on the pan. Okay, something was definitely wrong. Nani normally didn’t take kindly to Jumba blowing up stuff.
A distant sphhh indicated the elevator from Lilo’s room had landed, and sure enough, in walked Stitch, rubbing his eyes. He grabbed a bag of cereal, took one look at it, then ate the entire lot whole.
Nani’s eye twitched, and Lilo could see she was struggling to maintain the smile.
“Good… morning… Stitch,” she said through gritted teeth.
Lilo stared at Nani.
“Okay, what evil zombie lord do you serve and what have they done with the real one!” she exclaimed dramatically.
“Lilo, I am the real Nani,” the imposter replied. “It’s just, thanks to Pleakley, we’ll be going on a trip tomorrow.”
“A trip?” Her eyes narrowed. “To the pet cemetery?”
“My goldfish is fine, Lilo, and that was an accident.”
“Didn’t sound like an accident the way you yelled at him.”
“That’s not the point. Pleakley won some tickets in a raffle-”
“Competition!” yelled a high-pitched voice down the hallway.
“Right, competition. Which means we’ll be boarding a plane tomorrow!”
“Ooh, where we going?” Lilo jumped off her chair and ran up to her big sister so she could look her in the eye. “Is it Milwaukee? Transylvania? Minneapolis? Somewhere near the Great Lakes?”
“No, no, no and no.”
“What about San Marino? Or the Andorras?”
In walked a green huminoidish experiment with long rabbit-like ears, much like Stitch’s.
“I’d say the moors of Hispania would be nice this time of year,” he said, grabbing a bowl and pouring in some cornflakes.
“The moors of Spain would be raining heavily around now,” replied a voice coming from the living room. The next moment, the green experiment’s sister, a pink experiment with purple hair and huge blue-rimmed glasses, but without the long ears many of her cousins possessed, walked into the kitchen.
“Well, soo-ry,” the green experiment said.
“We’re not going to Spain,” said Nani as she flipped the eggs over. “Actually, the trip is to Tokyo.”
“Cool!” Lilo half shouted. “We get to see Godzilla!”
“I would like to be meeting this Godzilla,” said Jumba, who had been sitting at the table reading a newspaper. “He is sounding veeery evil…”
“Ooh, ika tatara!” exclaimed Stitch. Lilo presumed this meant something like “big city” – he’d never been to one of those before.
“Well, now I can actually use the Japanese stuff I’ve been learning,” said the pink experiment. “It’d be good to get some practical practice. And I guess 426 can do – something anime related, since that’s all he ever watches.”
“I do not, 419, as I have told you quite a few times,” the green experiment replied.
Nani sighed. “I’m afraid you two aren’t going. We’ve only got four tickets, and Stitch at least looks ,i>something like a dog.”
“What!” the two exclaimed together.
“I’m really sorry, guys. You can take care of the house, right?”
426 did not respond. Instead, he picked up his bowl and took it into the living room.
“Don’t mind him, he’s just being dramatic. Of course we can.”
Nani nodded. “Thanks – although, just in case, I’ve arranged for David to check in every night before his practice. I never can be too safe, especially considering your… upbringing.”
At the word ‘upbringing’, she turned her head to face Jumba, who immediately gulped down the egg he had been chewing at that moment.
“I… er, I should be packing right now, I am thinking,” he muttered, and with that, he hurried out of the kitchen, most likely so he suffer least the wrath of Nani in a bad mood.
And as suddenly as she had glared at Jumba, Nani turned her head towards the table and beamed.
“So, anyone want an egg sandwich?”