It was Thursday and finally, shift change. With a three-day weekend ahead, Raptor planned to hit the Information Superhighway® and check out a place called 'Roostville'. Varan and the Eavesdropper had extolled the wonders of the unique town with numerous emails until at least an overnight visit was in order, if for no other reason than to stop their almost daily messages from there. They seemed quite happy with their new location and had apparently made themselves quite at home.
A quick shortcut toward the Luxora exit and it was westbound and down with the sun setting on the Pacific. Soon, the land mass itself appeared with its cloud-shrouded string of mountains that formed the northern coast. A great pterodon approached from the west and circled the highest peak before alighting in its lofty aerie. Below, the pine-covered foothills smoothed out to a great plain of fertile croplands. The Superhighway® curved to the southwest, bringing into view a clearing and Roostville itself.
Slowing to the posted speed limit, Raptor was enjoying the view when she picked up a strange hum approaching from behind, sounding very much like a '50s UFO. Quickly pulling off the highway, she grabbed her Winchester saddle gun from the rack across the back window and scampered to the shadow of her truck. Soon, a gaudily-colored humanoid robot flew overhead and toward the town. Laying the rifle on the seat, she figured anyone else in the area might need to be advised of this strange thing and put out a call on the CB.
"Breaker, 1-9. Anyone see a weird-looking robot flying low?" There were a few static-filled responses but indecipherable, no doubt due to the distance and rise of the land. A small band of Orcs did venture out of the tree line (probably thinking the stopped vehicle would be easy pickings) but were soon yelping back to wherever they came from, dodging .30-06 slugs ripping after them. Reloading, Raptor headed toward town.
Passing a huge castle (complete with a mass of ominous clouds and lightning flashing about it) just outside the city limits, Raptor was most surprised to see a "welcoming committee" made up of Eavesdropper and the colorful robot.
"Hey, dude! You finally made it," the old hippy greeted his long-time G PROJECT cohort. "I picked up your transmission but I really need a more powerful base station, being way on the outskirts of town and all."
"I also picked up your signal," the robot boomed in a very unrobot-like voice, holding his hand out in greeting. "Welcome to Roostville!"
"Uh..." Raptor eyed the automaton up and down, figuring its frozen grin indicated it was a Good Guy and shook hands. "Raptor. And you might be...?"
"Jet Jaguar!" it replied, striking a heroic pose.
"Nice to meet you... I think."
"Hey, JJ is cool," Eavesdropper vouched for his associate. "Why don't you two head into town and check the place out? I have a manuscript I need to get finished but if you're going to be here a while, we can get caught up on old times." That was agreeable to all and E. bid adieu, chugging off in his VW bus.
"I have an idea," JJ offered. "You like combat competitions?"
"Sure!" Raptor replied with a grin. "Who doesn't?" Climbing into her truck, Jet Jaguar gave directions to an ancient Greek temple to the southeast. Behind it was the remains of an open amphitheater, its stone seats accommodating scattered groups of spectators.
"This is an 'invitation only' affair so never tell anyone about it, OK?" JJ advised.
"Sure", Raptor agreed. "But what's with the secrecy?"
"Oh, it's just one of those things to add a bit of notoriety. Nearly the whole town knows about Fight Club."
"O.K. by me. Who's competing, and at what?" Raptor asked.
"Grand Ghidorah vs. Godzilla."
"WHAT?!" Raptor exclaimed in astonishment. "How can that be? Godzilla... AND GHIDORAH... HERE???"
"It's cool by them and us," JJ assured her. "Between films, the kaiju are more than happy to put on 'exhibitions' for their fans. But you would never know it when the bell rings!"
And right he was. At the appointed time, Godzilla appeared out of the gathering dusk and took his place in the arena. Grand Ghidorah soon materialized from above and landed at the opposite end of the long oval. When it was over, Godzilla prevailed by one point and roared triumphantly to the heavens as Ghidorah flew off. The crowd also roared their approval of the battle, their blood frenzy sated for the time being.
"Now it's party time!" JJ shouted, waving his arms at a richly clad Lord Jimifulss who looked like true English nobility (only Edwardian) in his finery. Jimi paused in collecting his winnings to wave back. "Let's head for his place. Just about EVERYONE that is anyone in this town will be there."
Taking the long way through town so Raptor could see more of the lay of the land, she noticed a particularly imposing high rise with lights aglow throughout the upper floors.
"That's the Godzilla Tower. Looks like Mayor Morgoth's weekly orgy is in full swing," the robot explained, focusing his optics on the distant penthouse.
They continued on, heading toward the low hills that marked the northern edge of town. Roostville looked to be a thriving community in the late evening, with bars, restaurants and other enterprises of great variety doing a booming business. As they ascended into Hedorah Hills, the houses became more substantial, each seeming to proclaim its owner's position in the scheme of things.
"See that massive spread over there?" JJ indicated a particularly sprawling, multi-styled gated complex that appeared to be over twice the size of any other dwelling. "That's Gamingboy's humongous Mansion©/Invincible Headquarters that is somehow larger than anything else because of a Plot Hole©. It's supposedly modeled after the Super Smash Brothers' Headquarters. Being the undisputed Nintendo master, biggest stockholder in the Museum of Monsters™ AND holder of numerous patents, you'd think he'd be able to find an architect with SOME sense of style!" Apparently, the robot's idea of aesthetics did not allow for video game interpretations of what a mansion should look like.
"And to think that Sauron put HIM in charge of Homeland Defense should Roostville be in grave danger of alien/ninja/rabid seagull/drunk monkey/terrorist/GINO fan attack!" he huffed.
"Does that happen very often?" Raptor asked, remembering the Orcs she had seen.
"Usually, only when things get too quiet. But that's not very likely with some of the characters who actually LIVE here. Oh, yeah. He also has a corny special effects eye-candy DIE ANOTHER DAY type car he drives too fast and calls the GAMINGMOBILE."
Soon, they pulled up to Lord Jimi's place, of a much more refined design. The massive foyer was packed with people and creatures of various order, both arriving and leaving. It was a bedlam of noise, music and the occasional clash of steel on steel as duels with bladed weapons took place in the center of the huge ballroom. The Lord of the Manor extricated himself from a crowd gathered around an oversized entertainment center and rushed to greet his compatriot.
"Glad you could make it, JJ! It wouldn't be Fight Night without you here!"
"What he means is I better get to work on editing the video footage for rebroadcast on the public access cable channel," the robot explained. "Enjoy the party and just page me when you're ready to head over to my place!" He quickly slipped through a side door and was gone.
Lord Jimi might have had too much Mountain Dew but he still performed the social graces as his position in the town's society dictated. With introductions out of the way, he directed Raptor toward a couple that seemed entirely mismatched.
"May I present the Ubergeek, Spawn of Kenny and his lovely associate from the Ogasawara Daikaiju Preserve, Miyako Aso." Miyako was indeed stunning but the scrawny, sneaker and pajamas-clad Geekspawn just didn't seem to 'fit' the grand surroundings.
"Please excuse my fellow were-Kaiju", Miyako ever so slightly bowed her head. "He is often remiss when it comes to the more formal occasions." Uber just grinned as his eyes briefly flashed a crimson-yellow.
"A fellow were-dino! Welcome to Roostville. Mi casa is your casa, or something like that... LET'S EAT!" He transformed into a ten foot Del Gado-esque Godzilla and bounded for the banquet hall.
"Yes, let's," Miyako suggested, turning into her Goji form. "Lord Jimi is much appreciated by the more genteel Kaijuu for providing a separate smorgasbord where one can let their inner 'tile truly enjoy such a feast." Now salivating in anticipation, the two raced across the room, oblivious to the townsfolk's sidelong glances. "When in Roostville, do as the Roosters do, I always say!" she grinned as the two charged between knots of more reserved partygoers.
Having sated their appetites, the three returned to the party as Jet Jaguar approached. "I see you've met Ubergeek and Miyako. Excellent! Oh, by the way," he addressed the couple. "Will you two be available for a quick run to the Museum tomorrow?"
"What's up?" the Geek wondered, trying to fit his oversized doggie bag of General Tso's chicken into a very conspicuous backpack.
"Nothing much," JJ advised. "I realize you're trying to concentrate your efforts toward the Institute of Kaijuology but the Mayor came over today and proposed some kind of movie, probably another one of those things to show at all the tourist information centers. He'd really like to have all the staff's input on this."
"Speaking of which, has anyone done anything with the Dinosaur Hall?" Miyako asked.
"I'm afraid not," Uber replied. "I've been busy with other things and the Baragons are more interested in getting a subway system in place than going up in the hills to get with the Raptors about..."
"You mean there are even Deinonychus here?" Raptor couldn't believe such a reclusive creature would have anything to do with a place like Roostville.
"Yes," Miyako confirmed. "When the Ogasawara station was conducting its annual world Kaiju census, they registered on our instruments. A subsequent expedition by myself into the uppermost foothills revealed their settlement, which is well off the beaten path."
"I can imagine," Raptor agreed. "Were they receptive to your visit?"
"Yes. On condition I did not reveal their colony to the 'outside world'. They wish to maintain their social order without interference of 'modern' society. It is truly an amazing place!"
Raptor was thoroughly intrigued, only having had contact with three other of her kind in the entire state of Arkansas. "I'll have to pay them a visit the next time I hear 'the call of the wild'!" she grinned at her fellow were-creatures.
"Anytime," Uber offered. "They did express an interest in assisting with the dino wing." He suddenly remembered Jet's original concern. "Why don't you join us at the Museum tomorrow and have a look around?"
"Sure!" Raptor agreed. "I'm spending the night at JJ's place and we can come in together. I should also have gotten better up to speed on this unique town. Great meeting you two!"
Making a mental list of even more things Roostville had going for it than she ever imagined, Raptor and Jet Jaguar bid their now very tipsy host goodnight and headed for his ultra-modern high tech Robotica Mansion.
"Now THAT is a classic design if I ever saw one!" Raptor took in the simple lines of the towering triple A-frame with its modern, cathedral-like styling.
"The Japanese do excellent work," JJ complemented his builders. "SFX, Inc. built most of the places in this town and they are also fast! About a week and even something like this is ready to move in. And of course, I can provide any blueprints you might need," he reminded his guest.
"If I do decide to relocate, I believe this would be the place," Raptor figured. "Tell me about the tax base, zoning, cost of living and all that other boring stuff."
"No problem! Both with those 'nuisance ordinances' and me getting the figures right!" the ever cheerful mech offered, grabbing her gear out of the bed of the truck. "There's always room for one more in this enterprising community!"
"Well, I don't know exactly HOW 'enterprising' I want to get," Raptor looked down toward the town and the surrounding estates of its more ostentatious residents. "Something simple, enjoyable and marginally profitable is fine by me. Let's try this approach: What does Roostville need?"
"Well, Varan is Sheriff and takes care of law enforcement - what there is of it," JJ quickly added. "He would sooner WRITE mysteries than try to keep tabs on everything that goes on around here. I will say he is bad about detecting plot holes in some of the more outrageous schemes some folks can come up with."
"I can imagine!" Raptor laughed at her and Eavesdropper's fellow G PROJECT cohort. "Wish we had him along when Anzila and Stoker decided to DESTROY ALL WRITERS so they could take over our dimension or some such."
"Sounds like a typical Roostville adventure. I'll have to check it out."
"I think you'll like it," Raptor assured him. "By the way, what adventures have YOU had? I would think you would've landed a TV action show or something."
"Yes, that would have been nice," the robot sighed through his so often all-too-human synthesizer. "But the demand for Super Duper Robot Action Heroes in Japan died before my planned TV series ever got past the pilot stage so it was off to the States. Selling used cars didn't really appeal to me so here I am! I even made a bid for Mayor of Roostville but Morgoth won out."
"Too bad..." Raptor believed the robot would make a good administrator, what with his infallible memory and do-right programming. "The Powers That Be are rather competent, I would gather from the prosperity of the place..."
"Morgoth, the Dark Lord of Middle Earth, probably has the most opulent office of ANY head of state, including the most corrupt U.S. AND foreign despots!" JJ even sounded in awe of the extravagance. "You can see for yourself at City Hall on the way to the Museum. Roostville is actually a fascist, modern day dictatorship with just the appearance of democracy. Would even a PRESIDENT go about carrying an adamantium mace and favor rich robes and jackets with all of his medals and other insignia?" JJ suddenly stopped as Raptor was grinning, no doubt thinking of certain southern politicos. "Don't answer that." He had also accessed his American history programming. "At least Morgoth can justify his debauchery with his prowess in battle, defending the town against the usual stuff, in addition to Tolkienish demon-dragons. He can also keep Orcs, goblins, trolls, variags, mumaks, Uruk hai and various other local 'pests' pretty much in line so I figure it's a fair trade off. I also wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't him that talked Grand Ghidorah into taking part in tonight's Fight Club."
"Quite a character, huh?" Raptor figured.
"Yep. But just one of many now, it seems. Go grab a guest suite on the second floor and get settled in. I'll be in the den and get a quick briefing together so you can at least have your history of Roostville out of the way."
Raptor returned shortly and drew a frosty draft from the fully stocked bar as JJ lowered a projection screen from the ceiling and a typical travelogue presentation came on.
"Welcome to Roostville, Crown Jewel of the United Kaiju Confederacy Consortium! This thriving community had rather humble beginnings and was originally called 'Golemburg' by the Hasidic Jews who initially settled here. Soon, other peoples emigrated and built homes, mansions, businesses, museums and centers of higher learning. More and more Gentiles began to arrive until the original founders moved to Israel and put the island up for sale. Morgoth and Sauron bought it for about two cents an acre.
"In Roostville, you will find a serene setting among fertile, rolling grasslands without sacrificing technology as cars and other conveyances haphazardly mix with bicycles, horses and skateboards on both streets and dirt.
"The Museum of Monsters™ is Roostville's main tourist attraction where people from all over the world can view Kaiju memorabilia big and small, from a life-size statue of a Gyaos to GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER toilet paper. It adds much-needed revenue to the town's economy and is headed by a diverse but volatile bunch of local volunteers, to say the least.
"The Institute of Obscure Kaiju can be found at the edge of town and is headed by Enshohma, assisted by Yongary and Associate Researcher Cam Eleon.
"Since 1954 when survivors from Odo Island (who often appear as the 'cast of thousands' Maori extras in local films) began arriving, Roostville has evolved into one of the most beautiful places in the world. Scientists established their universities here in order to better study the phenomenon known as 'Kaiju' and eventually, the town filled out with people from many different castes.
"Despite its academic renown, Roostville is more like a set from a '50s B-movie; the quintessential small town where everyone knows each other by name and rarely anything worse than the torching of a house occurs.
"Kaiju were first introduced into our world in 1933 when a gigantic gorilla dubbed 'King Kong' menaced the city of New York, baffling scientists to no end. A similar incident occurred in 1938, this time in the Japanese city of Edo. Then, the Great War burst like a roaring flood upon a turmoiled world and Kaiju ('strange beast' in Japanese) were left unstudied for several years. Nearly a decade passed until a seemingly extinct creature, the Rhedosaurus, emerged from the depths to attack London. But the worst was yet to come.
"In 1954, the most feared kaiju awoke from its slumber and with it, a plague of death and terror followed. The place: Tokyo, Japan, then home to six million people in a city buzzing with life. The date, November 3rd. It was then that the beast attacked, laying waste to the city and burning Tokyo to the round. 'Gojira' it was called and the title, 'King of the Monsters' bestowed upon him.
"Realizing that Kaiju were no longer hidden in mystery, a small colony of survivors soon formed the most respected institutes of Kaijuology in the world and the area has now been officially declared a state unto itself, advising other nations on their Kaiju problems.
"Over the years, the town began taking on a very distinct 'character' (and one you sure won't find at Disneyland!). Efforts are even underway to franchise other locations to base this particular brand of merry mayhem where it's perfectly OK to park on the grass, keep assorted ordnance at hand (actually, a necessity, considering the various 'visitors' Roostville seems to attract for some strange reason) and generally, get away from the 'normal' world.
"The skyline includes many enterprises unique to Roostville:
- The Ghidorah Arena/Daycare Center of Doom®.
- The Institute of Advanced Physics and Science, headed by world renowned scientist Sandworm Phish.
- Kaijuphile.Com University - Department of Kaijuology, of which Professor D.B. Zelda is the dean. Staff includes four-time winner of the Nobel Prize Professor Saruman and Enshohma, three-time winner, who are revered the world over for their vast knowledge in the field.
- World class resorts.
- KIJU 106 radio station.
- Ziller's™, home and birthplace of the world-famous Super Steak™.
- Many boutiques are located on Rodan Drive™, home to such designers as Angmani™, QG™, John Biollante™ and other fashion moguls.
- City Hall, where Mayor Morgoth has his offices.
- Burlesque houses.
- The industrial district.
- Beautiful, serene Toho Park, a large, central green convenient to shopping and the hub of the city.
- The 90 story Godzilla Tower which houses Morgoth's lavishly appointed penthouse.
- The East River.
- Roostville Cable & Telephone Company provides Internet, telephone and cable TV service.
"There are many different subdivisions, all overlooking beautiful Lake Dagarah:
- Titanosaurus Terraces is our very own Beverly Hills.
- Hedorah Hills™ is the most aristocratic residential area of Roostville and Kaiju Corner (the wealthiest street in the subdivision) is the site of Smith Manor. Andross - chairman, CEO and president of the Smith Group of Companies, is a notorious and eccentric collector of valuable works of art."
"Hold it right there, would you?" Raptor stood up, staring at the now paused surveillance video clip of A. Smith holding his coat over his face as he ducked into a waiting limousine. "Isn't that guy supposedly a member of the Flowers of Edo, a cult that believes Godzilla's appearance in '54 is a herald to the Second Coming?"
"That's the one," Jet Jaguar confirmed.
"Good!" Raptor toasted the projection screen. "There is a local rumor making the rounds that he's in Eureka Springs, trying to revive the cult and some of those loony tunes over there are just likely to fall for his weird ideas."
"That pretty much hits the high points of Roostville," Jet announced, clicking the screen back into its well concealed recess. "We'll see a bit more close up tomorrow."
"Fine by me," Raptor agreed. "Today has definitely been quite a day!"
The next morning dawned bright and clear as the sun spilled its golden glow onto the valley floor and foothills. Above, the towering mountains revealed themselves, several with glistening caps of fresh snow on their peaks. Watching the unveiling, Raptor was entranced by the majesty of the scenery but other, olfactory stimulants were wafting up from the Robotica Mansion's fully automated kitchen. By the time she had completed viewing the surrounding landscape from the second story balcony, expresso, bacon and scrambled eggs awaited.
Jet Jaguar was in his "studio" overlooking the town and industriously putting several flat screen CAD computers through their paces.
"Well, what do you think?" his synthesizer almost sounded snug as the screens presented a virtual slide show of blueprints and architectural concepts. He brought a design up on the center screen: a two-story industrial complex with fueling islands, a '50s style drive-in and terraced restaurant, garage and hangar bays, store fronts and enclosed salvage yard.
"A most unique idea," Raptor agreed. "What exactly is it?"
"Oh, just an all-purpose little enterprise that fulfills a few of the things Roostville could use. The Superhighway® brings a lot of traffic through and I personally can't see Orcs and other lower life forms taking undue advantage of it when the local tax base can benefit. Of course, business taxes are strictly voluntary."
"YOU'RE KIDDING!" Raptor exclaimed. "So how are the infrastructure and utilities supported?"
"Voluntarily. There is a constantly updated assessment schedule based on actual needs and everyone pretty much forks over their fair share as it's the right thing to do and everyone benefits from the common pool. The universities and museums are mainly supported by contributions but their draw is worth it many times over."
"This looks like a full service operation," Raptor figured, reviewing the various areas separately. "Is there sufficient skilled labor here?"
"I am quite the mechanical expert, you realize," JJ prided himself. "From balky VCRs to alien technology, I've found I seem to have a knack for understanding their operating principles."
"From the looks of this house, I would have to agree!" Raptor marveled at the completeness of the work area.
"Feel free to check the city register and solicit any associates you might need. Profit sharing seems to work great in keeping a loyal staff."
"What's with those huge hangars and that back area?" Raptor touched the screen and the interiors flashed up. "Ah ha!" Conveyors, hoists and other material handling equipment began an animated flow chart of the disassembly of a wrecked car and placement of its various components in a unique storage system.
"Of course, everything is accessible on a database from the customer service area, " JJ added. "The hangars can even accommodate small jets for custom configuration or whatever the traffic will bear."
"So how much will the construction cost?"
"That is another unique feature of Roostville. Provide a service, the community provides the means to accomplish it. Kind of a barter/stockholder system. I wouldn't mind going partners with you in this and Lord Jimi is always looking for some new enterprise to sink his immense wealth into. Of course, don't expect too much work out of him!"
"Why not?" Raptor wondered. "Doesn't he want some return on his investment?"
"Not really. Knowing he's provided something for the community is fine by him. A more 'hands off' approach than most but he is a very supportive silent partner."
Raptor suddenly noticed the time. "Hadn't we better be getting over to the Museum for your meeting?"
"You're right. I'll point out the proposed site I have in mind and you can stake it on the way back."
"You mean just CLAIM it?!" This had been unheard of since almost a century ago.
"Sure!" JJ pulled a bundle of contractor's stakes and several rolls of boundary tape from a cabinet. "Might as well before someone else does."
On the way into town, the robot indicated the prime real estate just off the Superhighway and below the hills. No leveling would be necessary for the large back buildings and the hospitality/sales areas would be right on the access road for both local and visiting customers.
"Looks great!" Raptor agreed.
As they were about to pull into the the Museum of Monsters™ parking lot, gunfire sounded to the south. Raptor grabbed a 9 mm from a seat pocket and quickly took cover but Jet Jaguar knew exactly what was going on and got the Winchester from its window rack. "This will bring them down much better. It's a Gyaos attack." Raptor looked at him and then at the sky. Sure enough, a flock was headed their way and half the town was either in the streets, windows or on rooftops blasting at them. Taking the rifle, she hoped there would still be some left by the time the flight got in range. When the first slug found its target, JJ took to the air to retrieve their bounty. As the remaining stragglers flapped out of sight, she got back in the truck to pick up the stack he'd placed in the road.
"Looks like we have the makings of a pretty good barbecue this afternoon!"
"We can put them in the Museum's food court lockers and the staff will take care of everything. They have some recipes you won't find at Shoney's, that's for sure!" They loaded up and made their delivery, which was much appreciated by the head chef, who reminded Raptor of the guy who did the Benihana commercials.
When they got upstairs to the executive offices, the racket coming from the meeting could be heard as soon as the elevator door opened. It seemed a full scale debate was in progress and from the configuration (and disorder) of the conference room, what should have been a round table discussion was now a war zone with overturned chairs and papers scattered across the floor.
Ubergeek, curator of the Battles Section, was standing on the huge conference table, shouting at Kedzuel, the Museum's web mistress and Dragon Curator.
"There is NO WAY you're going to exhibit that Mecha Godzilla in the Main Hall! We had agreed to feature the History of the Cosmos Race during Mothra Month this year!"
Zeptron, the head of the Mech Department, was trying to get her to calm down and accept an offer of his outside public display area.
Queen Ghidorah, who had already drawn up the plans for the agreed on exhibits for both areas, grabbed him by the collar to toss out an open window and see what kind of display HE would make on the concrete below.
Robert Ranting, cartoonist and resident Anguirus expert, was loudly debating the need for yet another Middle Earth exhibit with Melkor, the staff archaeologist, who had Sauron, Saruman and Morgoth backing him up. Resident Anguirus otaku Anguirus 55, Angillis 333 and Anzila had meanwhile injected themselves into the executive session to demand a promotion for THEIR field of interest, which had nothing to do with the issues at hand.
James D, the Museum's merchandising mogul, was into it with Sandworm Phish, techie and jack-of-all-trades, about not being able to come up with an action figure of some obscure kaiju.
Miyako stood with Andross (the Museum's Ogasawara Island liaison) who had brought in Jun Katagiri (a government flunky) and Goji Son (cousin of the infamous Dr. Who and now with Interpol), waiting their turn to get on Melkor's case about the impossible logistics involved with having full-size Kaiju on display in a populated area.
Lord Jimifulss, Gamingboy, Bato Goji, Gorgozilla, Eavesdropper (head of the Art Department), the tiny Cosmos twins and some kid in shorts were the only quiet (and seated) individuals in the entire room. Raptor had not seen a more diverse and volatile bunch since the Weevil Chili Cook-Off two weeks ago when the judges didn't give the People's Choice winner First Place.
Jet Jaguar took his place with them and advised he could hear Sheriff Varan's siren approaching. When the lawman arrived with his full complement of deputies, everyone not on staff was immediately removed (including the kid in the too-short shorts). Varan fired a shot in the air and was finally able to make himself heard.
"OK, folks. How about taking your seats before I take you to jail? Why don't you all just plan to have your little 'executive sessions' in conjunction with Fight Night and I wouldn't have to come up here every time?"
"Tradition?" Lord Jimi sheepishly asked.
Varan snorted and shook his head. "JJ, try to get some semblance of order here. I've got more important things to do than play den mother to these geeks." With that, he and his posse departed. Everyone took their appointed seats so Jet quickly recited the agenda and introduced Raptor as ex-officio Dino Curator.
"Let's get down to business and then you can enjoy the bounty of Raptor's expertise with traditional long guns. If your deliberations were as loud a half hour ago as they were when we got here, you probably missed the Gyaos attack." A lot of surprised exclamations (and a few groans) greeted the news.
"In the matter of this film Mayor Morgoth would like to make. A promotional piece, I presume?"
"Most definitely!" the Dark Lord rose and addressed the group. "This effort will truly put the Museum, and Roostville, before the public eye." Melkor then stood to continue the presentation.
"We believe traditional methods of promoting such establishments as this to the typical moviegoer... er... tourist are outdated and require a more.... EXCITING approach."
"Sounds good to us!" the Geekspawn and Gamingboy quickly added, smiling confidently and looking around the table.
"A show of hands," JJ called for a vote and every hand went up, including Raptor's when he reminded her she had a voice in the Museum now. "Then it's unanimous. The Museum of Monsters™ will pursue looking into cinematic video/DVD and assorted over-the-air possibilities. Session adjourned to the food court."
"Well, what do you think of our little town now?" the Eavesdropper asked, joining Raptor in the mad rush to the elevators.
"Like they say, seeing is believing! Wonder if they have a good ginger sauce to go with braised Gyaos?"
The Japanese head chef had done himself proud with assorted recipes that brought out the unique flavor of Gyaos meat. Graciously accepting the proffered haunch from the cook, Raptor claimed a vacant table and called the Eavesdropper over who congratulated her on the appointment to the Museum staff.
"Thanks! And congratulations on YOUR position! I was wondering when you would take up art seriously and Roostville seems to be just the place to get it the recognition it deserves."
E. self-consciously blushed behind his beard. "Aw, gee! In the company of other artists like Kedz and Queen G, I don't see how I couldn't want to draw! Even when working in our own studios, we constantly stay in touch and encourage each other with suggestions, sketches, color variations, etc. I think even Kiryu is beginning to take an interest in creative drawing!"
"If that mech gets as involved in Roostville doings as Jet Jaguar has, us humans will be spoiled rotten!" Raptor laughed at the thought of yet another robot having an almost human personality, complete with a sense of aesthetics. "JJ went and prepared a complete 'enterprise zone' that he will no doubt be reminding me is ready for the groundbreaking ceremony anytime I am."
"Go for it!" Eavesdropper lowered his fork and looked square at his long-time partner. "We've both spent enough of our lives pinching pennies just to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. Maybe finding Roostville is 'pay back' or a dividend for services rendered all these years. My family simply loves it here and it's a great place for younguns."
"I agree!" Raptor assured him. "Going through town, I've never seen a happier bunch of folks."
"Then you'll join us?"
"Yep. I'll be staking out a spread JJ picked out just off the highway. There's a hill behind it where I'd love to put up a two-story A-frame, preferably log."
"Why build when you can just move your house here?" E. asked. "That's what we did."
"Huh?" Raptor nearly choked on her fondue in surprise. "That would cost a small fortune, wouldn't it?
"Nope. Not with the Xians doing the lift."
"The Xians?!" Raptor couldn't think of any Earthly good they might be responsible for.
"It's cool," Eavesdropper assured her. "It seems one of their spy ships crashed in the woods and Jet Jaguar found it while on one of his routine patrols. The crew was pretty banged up, as well as their saucer. Putting past differences aside, he got them to the hospital and patched up, along with their space ship. The Controller himself showed up to find out what had happened and the whole town turned out, without the usual heavy artillery everyone seems to favor. Even that perpetual sourpuss was impressed and we set up a desalinizing plant on the coast to get them extra water. With their tractor beam technology, they can transport huge space reservoirs to Planet X as needed. Moving a house or two every so often is no big deal."
"Amazing..." Raptor was seeing more truly unbelievable developments in this one small town than human history seemed capable of accomplishing over decades and even across continents. "I'll be heading back home Sunday and planned to get some measurements anyway. The utility hook-ups and such can be laid prior to the lift."
"You want a two story? Let JJ know and he'll design the 'base' and you won't have to redo what you already have built."
"Great idea!" Raptor would see what the architecturally inclined robot could come up with but she would handle the detailing. "It's always nice to have the familiar, even in a shiny new setting." They made a point to keep in touch until her next weekend off and review more of the town's idiosyncrasies.
Soon, Jet Jaguar returned from the Best Buy and Roostville's newest partnership headed back across town.
"I noticed you have a radio in your truck but it will need an upgrade for the military, aircraft and alien frequencies," the robot indicated a sack he had placed on the dashboard. "And speaking of aircraft, I wonder if Kobayashi got his plane repaired."
"Who's that?" Raptor asked.
"Koji is a crazy pilot originally from Osaka who followed the initial Odo Island exodus. He flies a noisy bush plane 'in defense' of his adopted home. An irate resident blew a hole in his lower wing for frightening his goats to where they wouldn't give milk. Even if he did bother to use his radio, it's usually pretty hard to understand what he's saying as his English still isn't that good. The JSDF often has trouble finding their targets so everyone gets on the air to guide them in, as much as a civic duty as protecting their property."
"Okay...." Raptor considered the arrangement. "By the way, Eavesdropper mentioned you had an in with the Xians. I'll probably need their services to move my house and shed here. I hope a concrete block building won't detract from the overall house design I have in mind too much..."
"Not at all!" the robot figured. "Look at Gamingboy's place!"
With the future site of West End Imagineering staked out (thanks to Jet Jaguar's GPS directions), they headed up an overlooking hill and placed a pile of rocks wrapped in boundary tape at the top to indicate the area was now claimed.
"Now all we have to do is drop off the paperwork at City Hall," JJ advised. "Since it's still early, you should be able to get a good idea of Roostville in its NORMAL day-to-day routine."
"There are ABNORMAL 'routines' also?" Raptor asked, laughing at the concept in view of what she had already observed about the place.
"Think Toon Town, Springfield, Mayberry, the Twilight Zone, Hazzard County, Outland, Dilbert, Bad Eggs, Eerie, Indiana and Happyvale all rolled into one," the robot suggested. "Add Middle Earth about where the subway and underground passages begin. Of course, we mustn't forget our location relative to Ogasawara Island and Japan. Everyone here has also brought a lot of their original background with them so you have one very eclectic mix."
"No doubt it keeps things QUITE interesting around here, to say the least!" Raptor figured.
"And sometimes messy, also," JJ added. "But that's where SFX, Inc. (and plot holes) come in and about a week later, you would never know there had been another alien invasion, monster rampage or world take-over attempt. Too bad some residents can't accept these little inconveniences and try to blame the periodic destruction of large parts of the city on the Mayor."
"I'd figure there are some things the administration just has no control over..." Jet Jaguar was not programmed for deceit and figured he might as well let his new partner in on what he had learned since his arrival. Maybe a human could figure out the deeper meanings of things that an artificial intelligence was incapable of comprehending.
"You notice Melkor, the Museum's archaeologist, was with Sauron, Saruman and Morgoth at the meeting?"
"Yes. Their desire and plan to promote the Museum sounds like it has merit."
"No doubt it does," JJ agreed. "But let's take a closer look at these individuals. Melkor did not come by his vast knowledge of Middle Earth archaeology from excavations and hours in university libraries. He also owns a mall to market artifacts from the nether regions. He actually owns the Museum of Monsters but contributors are shareholders and Gamingboy has the largest stock block. Melkor's estate, which is on an island several miles to the northwest, is rather like Xanadu, though much grander. That two-week old Aston Martin Vanquish in the parking lot was his."
"Impressive!" Raptor concurred.
"He is also a professor emeritus at the University Department of Kaijuology and a highly-regarded authority in the study of Middle Earth and its culture, perhaps the greatest in the world. Despite his good works, he is a self-proclaimed Dark Lord© and demonic tyrant Emperor and Supreme Commander of the Legions of Hell and other Dark, Scary Places®. His helicarrier, Leviathan, which is nearly as large as the state of Texas, is actually a fortress, heavily armed with plasma weapons. The most powerful device is called the Wrath of Heaven, where the ship fires a deadly stream of anti-matter to annihialate its foes. But despite these undertones, Ubergeek has found him to be a good friend, sparring partner and very talented debater."
"So how did this illustrious fellow come to be here?" Raptor wondered. "I could see him having a much greater influence on say, the entire North American continent."
"He is the descendant of the proud kings of the Ancient World and the blood of the Caesars flows in his veins. His family crest still bears a crown of laurel leaves and on the right, the Holy Lance, which is the spear that pierced the side of Christ. This artifact has been in the family's possession for centuries. Legend has it that a shard of one of the Silmarils also came to be in their possession but since it had been tainted with the evil of the Dark Lord, it can summon the legions of hell.
"It is also a well-known belief that once he 'cures' the Silmaril and knows of its true, boundless powers, the bearer will be able to use it for whatever cause he so chooses. The same is true for the Holy Lance: once he knows its secrets, it will either be the most destructive power in the universe or the most awe-inspiring.
"But as a billionaire, he can easily monopolize the commercial and industrial facilities here and even control the money supply through his banks. Melkor is not necessarily evil but no doubt has his motives."
"Doesn't everyone?" Raptor figured.
"But of course! You people are humans." Jet Jaguar had long ago accepted this fact and found it contrary to much of his programming but acceptable.
"It also helps sometimes to be a little MORE than human," the were-dino reflected, consulting her own 'programming'.
"You probably have been led to believe that the Cretaceous was the last hurrah for dinosaurs but the dromeosaurids continued to evolve. Well equipped with claws, muscular toothy jaws and agile bodies, their intelligence was also the highest among all dinosaurs and their forelimbs permitted precise manipulative functions. Life back then was under constant pressure to survive and retain its tenuous grip, yet great changes had taken place.
"Creatures that survived the meteor impact harnessed unexpected properties of their bodies or environment to make life easier. Intelligence, superior speed, hearing, vision, smell, claws, teeth, venom, armor, concealment, greater fecundity; changes in size; hunting cooperation and herding of prey species to increase 'sensory coverage' all increased dramatically.
"Some attributes, such as speed, generally plateau at a certain level because of increased energy costs but when it comes to intelligence, there is 'positive feedback' presenting an ever increasing range of options.
"Reptilian brains developed a few hundred million years ago where acquired knowledge exceeded genetic information. Evolution was also facilitated by a genetic mutation rate of about 10% (mostly recessive traits altered by biological function) and natural selection allowed positive traits to be reproduced and preserved. An intelligent being is also most likely to be a generalist. When the going gets tough, it is more capable of learning, remembering past strategies and being innovative, acquiring and processing new information.
"Living and working in groups also has several advantages. Frequent contact with others can increase dangers but there is also opportunity to learn from them and benefit from a bright idea or avoid someone else's mistake. Advanced cultures require the interchange of knowledge and expertise which can only be contained in many minds so it was not unusual to find a mixed pack of Deinonychus and Troodonids working and living together.
"Millions of years later, primates evolved from the early mammals and furthered the use of both intelligence and tools. Avoiding the pitfalls of their colonies, the reptiles continued to learn from them but never forgot their own heritage. I wouldn't be surprised if the 'reptile brain' is what made the most advanced civilizations on this planet possible."
"Could be," JJ figured. "Reptiles sure have had enough practice."
"Don't discount 'artificial intelligence' so easily!" Raptor advised. "You can reprogram yourself as necessary much easier than humans or any other terrestrial species."
"I have to admit, it can come in handy," JJ confessed. "Does that make me an 'opportunist' also?"
Raptor considered, but not for long. "It all depends on how you use your talents and I would say, you are an excellent credit to your creators!"
"Gee! That's a real compliment," the robot admitted. "Maybe I should make another run for Mayor..."
Although Jet Jaguar didn't file any candidacy papers, Raptor did register as a citizen of Roostville and drop off her land claims, which the assayer promptly indicated on the huge topographical map that dominated one wall of his office. Looking it over, Raptor couldn't believe how so few people could oversee such extensive holdings.
"Why's that?" the clerk asked.
"When I registered, I noticed I was only the 194th to do so," she explained. "Even counting the original settlers, that's less than 300 households."
Jet Jaguar called his data bank into play for a possible solution to the discrepancy. "If each family has a residence and at least one business, there's almost 500 structures. Add in all the museums, research centers, libraries and community buildings and you have coverage as the map is indicating." That made sense so it was off to see democracy in action, Roostville style.
Mayor Morgoth was holding court in his palatial office from the throne at the back of a long, ornate chamber. The large desk which is usually the focal point of such seats of power was simply a credenza to his right, attended by a very large, hulking Cimmerian secretary/aide. In the seats arranged in front of the dais, the Concerned Citizens Committee (CCC for short) was presenting yet another petition to have the Roostville Militia disbanded.
"You do realize, sir, that they have been using populated areas for their 'urban warfare' exercises," Jangofett reminded him.
"Of course!" the Mayor responded. "How else could they maintain their high state of readiness without field practice in the most realistic settings possible? Or would you prefer we rely entirely on the JSDF for every little Gyaos attack or troll infestation?" Dismissing the speaker, he addressed his aide. "Next issue before the throne... er, mayorship?"
The group got up to leave, passing Raptor and Jet Jaguar on the way out.
"I still think YOU would make a better Mayor!" Jangofett hissed to the robot who just grinned as he always does.
"Well," Raptor figured as they headed for the Mod Station to pay Sheriff Varan a visit. "It looks like you have two votes in the bag!"
Other than its strange name, the Roostville PD was everything a chief (or Sheriff, for that matter) could hope for, considering the unusual structure of the government. The jail held a few Orcs, drunk/disorderly residents, two Dueling in a Public Place offenders and a loudmouthed tourist who had gotten in an ethics argument with a Mod.
Sheriff Varan had decorated his office in a western motif, complete with Texas-sized longhorns on the wall behind his desk. The gnarly amphibian had long ago left the crowded (and often polluted) sea for a life on land where his natural ferocity served him well in keeping other Kaiju (and humans) out of his way. He did miss the attention and reverence he had gotten from the cult on Kunish-shirioshima (his first home) and when word of the establishment of Roostville reached him, Varan went to check it out. He was surprised the villagers did not flee in terror as he glided overhead but cheered and welcomed him.
Morgoth and Sauron soon arrived and added their greetings, along with a job offer to become the chief law enforcement officer of the young community. As astute as he is fearsome, Varan applied himself to his new responsibilities and no doubt the mere thought of his presence made many miscreants think twice about breaking the few ordinances there are in Roostville.
Swinging big clawed feet off his desk and grinning broadly, the Sheriff rushed to greet his fellow G PROJECT member and part-time fiction writer.
"I was wondering when you'd find your way here!" he roared, embracing his friend. With the formalities out of the way, he rummaged in and about his cluttered desk to make a stack of catalogs, forms, lists, notebooks and other paperwork. From a cabinet he added a portable radio, an A-9 and a badge to the top of the pile, grinning expectantly at Raptor.
"Ah, Varan, I didn't exactly come here to play Smokey in Toon Town meets the Toho back lot..."
"Take it!" JJ insisted. "I'm a Reserve Deputy myself. It's as much an honorary position here as anything."
"You got a good head on your shoulders, you hit what you aim at and I haven't forgotten that weird ASP baton you probably have on your belt," Varan added.
"You mean this?" Raptor brought her right hand to her side and in one fluid motion, drew and extended what appeared to be a Parkerized cross between a short rapier and a broadsword.
"Whoa!" JJ exclaimed in admiration. "Wait 'til Miyako sees THAT!"
"That thing can no doubt crack every Blades R Us Highlander knock-off the locals have taken to carrying and thinking they're Spartacus or something," Varan advised.
"I noticed everyone is usually armed in some way around here," Raptor mused. "What's with that?"
"Other than the occasional Middle Earth pests and alien invasions, I guess most folks came here thinking that since they pointed their Suburbans and Neons west, this is the WILD West," the Sheriff replied. "No real harm as it's more for show than anything, it seems."
Raptor noted Varan was wearing two chromed A-9s himself and grinned. "It comes with the territory," he glared at his visitors, getting a chuckle from Jet Jaguar. Taking a different tack, he settled behind his desk to flip through the stack of stuff he'd made. "OK, keep the badge in your pocket and just carry the beeper. You're also now a member of the Roostville Militia so that will give you full access to the Roostville Rifle and Maser Society range facilities for any practice you might want to do. You get beeped, grab a radio and check in for a situation report. The rest of that stuff on the issue list can stay in a tote for all I care. Get fitted for some Class A uniforms to have for formal occasions. The specs are on one of these sheets somewhere." He made half an effort to find the particular item but soon gave up. "Just be ready and halfway presentable when I need you, which isn't very often as I have sufficient budget to hire the LAPD if I want to."
"You're kidding!" Raptor couldn't believe the Sheriff's Department was actually sufficiently funded. "We have jail taxes, court costs, municipal reimbursement, detention support fees, operation tax and more but still the end of every month is another financial crisis!"
Varan again got up from his desk. "Follow me. This isn't called the 'Mod Station' for nothing."
They proceeded to what would normally be the muster room where the duty shift gets together before their tour for training, meetings, doing paperwork and taking a much-needed break from patrol. Varan opened the door to reveal what looked like a high school cafeteria after lunch break. Eight tables and chairs had been appropriated from the usual classroom configuration and placed randomly at the back of the room. All but three were mini disaster areas of food wrappers, papers, drink containers, comic books, toys and about everything else. Varan sent a skateboard by the door careening off a vending machine. The full kitchen counter was littered with leftovers which the two organics immediately set about appropriating.
"Isn't that impolite, to take others' munchies?" JJ asked as Varan slid the remains of a pizza in the microwave and Raptor retrieved a sack of cookies from a cabinet.
"Second rule of law enforcement," Raptor informed the robot. "Don't leave your food around cops if you want to see it again." Jet Jaguar apparently didn't understand this contradiction so she explained while confiscating two donuts from beneath a comic book. "We miss meals so often I guess it's just a habit. A 'routine' shift can go from utter boredom to complete chaos so you have to be ready to go all out. Your metabolism actually speeds up as soon as you start THINKING about heading to work. Even getting your three squares a day doesn't seem to be sufficient so we adopt the 'seafood diet': see food and eat it."
"Besides," Varan added, stacking two slices of pizza together to make a sandwich. "It's not like we're 'appropriating' from a fellow officer. The Dark Lords and city officials sneak over here to get away from their real offices at City Hall so the citizens won't bug 'em with everything from computer problems to gripes about their neighbors. As you can see, this is a lot more informal than the staff lounge over there where regular citizens have no qualms about popping in for a snack themselves. Can you imagine if they saw THIS?" He indicated his disgust with a snort. "What would normally go for upkeep of their under-used offices has conveniently been transferred to my account. And of course, seeing Morgoth's digs, everyone else thought THEIR offices should be just as extravagant sooo..." The Sheriff was now smiling again.
"But what about your deputies?" JJ asked. "Don't they feel put out by losing THEIR break area?"
"Of course not!" Varan laughed. "When I finally can get the day shift to show up at the station, they head straight for the radio room to trade gossip with the dispatcher and fill her in on everything they didn't want to put over the air. About everyone in town has a scanner to keep up with who got pulled over for speeding and where the big bar fights are. Tosha is also one of the best cooks in town and brings enough goodies she just 'whipped up', as she puts it, for the entire department. As long as everyone's happy, I'M happy!" The Sheriff finished his share of their bounty and poked a claw through the rest of the litter. Pouncing on a comic book, he quickly hurled it across the room on finding it was an issue of FUNNY FURRY TALES.
"When are these people ever going to appreciate DECENT writing?!" he raged before storming back to his office.
"Catch you later, chief!" Raptor called, shoving JJ toward the exit. "I think Varan would sooner get back to working on his great American novel than deal with messy government types."
"At least it's the only government we have to put up with here," the robot added. "The Mods are the 'city council' and appointed by the Mayor and Vice Mayor, who is Sauron. Not only do they take care of administrative details, they are also empowered to enforce the civil 'laws of the realm', like chancery officers. The Sheriff just investigates criminal stuff."
"Is this group representative of their constituents?" Raptor wondered.
"The Administratum consists of Morgoth (The Supreme Necromancer) and Sauron is his Super Administrator. They are the big cheeses," Jet Jaguar recited. "Saruman (the Grand Forum King) joined them as a third Dark Lord. Melkor is also Middle Earth. Bato-Goji, Goji Son, Gorgozilla and Earth Baragon represent the 'tiles so things are balanced. There's enough territory here for everyone to do their thing without tripping over more than an occasional stray Uruk hai."
"Sounds like that would work," Raptor figured. "But hopefully, better in a government setting than on a museum board! That meeting would have been a total waste if you hadn't taken the reins."
"I do have a certain sense for order, you know!" the robot quipped. Their civic business concluded, robot and reptile headed back to the Robotica Mansion to work on blueprints.
They passed the Roostville Cable & Telephone Company which had a large, noisy crowd of high school girls and soap opera fans shouting, "DESU, DESU, DESU!"
"What's that all about?" Raptor wondered.
"Just the best looking, richest, most eligible bachelor in Roostville who happens to be a very popular TV star," Jet Jaguar replied. "See that house on Desu Hill back there?" He indicated the appropriate uplift in the Hedorah Hills subdivision.
"You mean that Addams Family cross with the Munsters' place at the top?" Raptor had noted the spread earlier while checking out JJ's neighborhood.
"No, that's his neighbor, Hellspawn's eyesore. Desu Mansion is the elegant three story just below it on Destroyah Drive," the robot explained. "Those two are very good friends but seem to be such complete opposites, both in choice of abode and demeanor. Desu is into literary endeavors and managing his banks and other holdings when not starring in the hottest Roostville TV series. As for his pal, he's hardly ever around so no one else really cares if he's dead or alive as long as that mausoleum at the top of the hill doesn't degrade THEIR property values.
"Now, as any lady in town will tell you, Lord Desutoroia Khandejifer is as you humans say, a real 'dream boat'".
A black limousine pulled up in front of the broadcast facility and the subject in question came out, much to the delight of his fans. Desutoroia presented a dashing figure indeed, complete with flowing opera cape over his formal attire.
"What were they filming, some trendy British rip-off of MOONQUAKE?" Raptor asked as Desu's cultured tones wafted their way over the squealing fans.
"Far from it! Try ROOSTVILLE: THE SOAP OPERA." Raptor nearly laughed and gagged at the same time at the title.
"It's not as bad as it sounds," JJ assured her. "Desu does the intros and narration which add a definite touch of class to the old pot-boiler formula. It's well into it's second season, which is a record for anything else locally produced, other than KAIJU FIGHT CLUB." Looking at the tumble down building and its array of satellite dishes and other paraphernalia, Raptor wondered how the place could hold a sound stage for anything bigger than a puppet show.
"Thanks to the wonders of modern digital videography, production costs are minimal, as is much of the 'talent' of the main cast. Scripts are derived from actual town doings, gossip and even the police blotter to a great degree and reenacted by the local thespians, of which there seem to be enough to stage the Siege of the Alamo if anyone would foot the bill for sets."
"And I suppose YOU wouldn't mind taking the part of Colonel Travis, eh?" Raptor had caught a note of disgust in the robot's voice tone when mentioning the local hams.
"Well, I might consider it," he admitted after an appropriate pause. The limousine had pulled away and the fans dispersed via SUV, bicycle and other means.
"Show's over so let's get to work on those house plans, shall we? It's a double daily cast so we can catch the rerun after the six o'clock news."
Back at Jet's mansion, they soon had Raptor's preliminary plans ready for on-site measurements which she could email back and he would schedule the foundation work.
As ROOSTVILLE: THE SOAP OPERA was concluding, Sauron called to announce a command appearance by Mayor Morgoth.
"What's with that?" Raptor wondered.
"Quite routine, I assure you," JJ insisted. "Come on along. Miyako and Ubergeek are also going to be there. Maybe you all can get something in the works for the Dino Hall. Oh, yeah. The food is both plentiful and recommended."
It turned out the Mayor was celebrating the Museum of Monsters' approval to proceed with plans for a promotional film and didn't see any reason not to grease the skids a bit by lavishing his attention on its staff with a big reception at his penthouse.
When JJ and Raptor arrived 90 stories up, great double doors were opened to a sight of glorious debauchery, complete with buxom wenches and several hulking barbarian Cimmerians (all in varying states of undress). Conan and Kull introduced themselves and would be their waiters for the evening. No doubt they could also serve as bouncers if any of the Museum staff repeated their performance from their earlier meeting. Miyako Aso and Ubergeek soon made their way through the crowd with tankards in hand. Raptor selected one of Lowenbrau Dark from Conan's tray and the three 'tiles headed for a vacant window seat overlooking the metropolis below.
"So how did you two come to this most unusual community?" Raptor asked.
"Well, at the not so tender age of 19 or so," the Geekspawn began as Miyako rolled her eyes and headed for the buffet, being all too familiar with the tale. "I was rudely torn from my mundane life and incarcerated within a supposedly secret Government Facility that was actually the warehouse from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK." Raptor wasn't sure if he was telling the truth but the Geekspawn could sure spin a good yarn. "Having stumbled across a peculiar vial of black fluid, which oddly enough was part of a collection of unused TriStar Godzilla Stuff, I drank it. Thus, my newfound abilities.
"I was about to blow the horn on that horrible TriDisney Plot Thingy when I was 'arrested' so I quickly vacated the Warehouse and hit the road. Several months spent waging guerrilla warfare on TD had mixed results and my were-Goji skills drew the attention of their bioengineers, who were actually working alongside an As-Yet Unnamed Terrorist Organization to develop an army of Demi-Kaiju Super-Soldiers. Due to intervention by a MIB raid, said organization took a major hit and the Neo-Godzilla Project's remaining contents were carted off to the Warehouse for safekeeping. That Transforming Agent was to form the Project's cornerstone.
"My odyssey led me to Middle Earth, where I befriended the man-elf Aidan and enlisted his assistance against the TD threat also. I managed to break up a very one-sided duel between my newfound comrade and Ancalagon the Black, head of Morgoth's dragon legions.
"Later, chaos ensued when I bashed heads with Gamingboy, the Nintendo Master intent on stopping me from accidentally destroying ESPN (a distantly-connected Disney property). That chaotic contest somehow mutated into a temporary alliance against the fiendish I.B. Evil (actually, Jar-Jar Binks) and his crazed Gungan army. GB and I shut down this particular plot with panache and plenty of collateral damage." The Geekspawn seemed particularly pleased with recalling this memory.
"I then found myself in Los Angeles but got roped into a three-way operation wherein Gamingboy, myself and the supernatural Angel tracked down and destroyed a Satanically-possessed Dean Devlin. Overhearing me muse about how I never seemed to meet anyone of the opposite gender on these forays, Angel somehow conjured up several dozen ladies from God-knows-where, including a certain hard-working Ogasawara Daikaiju Preserve employee by the name of Miyako Aso.
"In my efforts to warn Toho, the Eastern film industry and Earth in general about the TriDisney plot, I had e-mailed her just before my abduction. To correct this awkwardness, the Agents traced her down also. What they hadn't counted on was that their captive was actually another were-Goji.
"Of course, I was thrilled to meet another of my kind and itching to help this new demi-Kaiju get acquainted with her abilities and instincts. Finding out where she worked simply iced the cake.
"After a good long look at what the two of us were capable of, the Ogasawara staff welcomed Miyako and I back/aboard with open arms, although to minimize any public/political hubbub, the were-Goji factor never did make any headlines.
"Plenty of volatile paranormal/primeval funkiness, both on and off Ogasawara, kept us busy for the better part of a year, including a hit put out on us by TriDisney and taken up by Team Rocket Agent Courtney Morgan. Somehow, yet another teaming-up ensued, culminating with a TD warehouse raid that produced four more sub-reptilian 'kin'; experimental subjects in the wake of TD's losing the remaining Transforming Agent.
"Said subjects found ready employment/camaraderie at the 'Monster Island' chain and all was relatively well."
"I look forward to meeting these folks," Raptor assured him as Miyako returned with a party tray the size of a card table.
"Which is where Roostville comes in," the Geek continued after sorting a pile of various canapes and tidbits to his liking. "Anyhow, by that time, Roostville was already under the iron fist... err, guiding hand of Mayor Morgoth. Herr Werner, noting my bizarre background, offered me a position to head up the then-new Museum of Monsters project, something I again could dive into headfirst."
"Jet, you must convince Geek to find himself suitable quarters," Miyako frowned at her now ravenous partner who couldn't protest very well with his mouth full. "There is absolutely no reason for him to live in his office at the Museum when he can build his 'dream house' anywhere he wants. Look at Gamingboy's and Desutoroia's houses. And Jet's," she berated the sheepish looking were-Goji. "You can well afford it on your two salaries."
"Humff!" Uber snorted through a bowlful of caviar. "That's right. Just LOOK at GB's place. Would YOU like to be seen coming to visit me there?" She agreed he had a point about its ostentatiousness. "I'll work on it when I get the Museum squared away, OK?" With that, he went for seconds as their platter was now bare.
"Not too ready to settle down and den build, I would gather," Raptor smiled at her.
"I guess you're right," Miyako had to agree. "Maybe one of these days..." she smiled wistfully.
Returning to Jet's place, Raptor eagerly dug into preparing timetables, bills of materials, schematics and blueprints for relocating to Roostville. It would be a hectic two weeks until her next rotation as the county would have to adjust due to her departure. Neighbors would be warned of the "unusual" changes about to take place on the block so there wouldn't be any unnecessary panic. Good thing they were pretty open-minded about MOST phenomenon that was likely to occur about the rural town.
When the appointed night arrived, Raptor had her house and shed ready for the lift. A tow bar was also on her faithful Omni and ready for a trip over the Information Superhighway®. Until the Xians had done their part, her pick-up was parked at a friend's house several blocks over. She definitely wanted to be on hand to see this amazing feat taking place and the Omni was better for her surveillance efforts. Video coverage also would be made for inclusion in the upcoming Museum of Monsters promotional efforts or for use by the Roostville Chamber of Commerce.
Patiently waiting with video equipment in place at strategic locations, Raptor soon heard the low hum of approaching aircraft. The light-colored Xian saucers smoothly drifted into position and tractor beams emanated earthward, surrounding their targets. Other than minimal creaking and the soft pelting of small debris dropping from their foundations, the wood and concrete structures rose skyward and were soon enveloped in a protective force bubble below their respective transporters. Gaining altitude as smoothly as they had arrived, the strange yet amazing scene faded into the night sky. Gathering the remote cameras she had placed beforehand, Raptor headed for her car.
Being faster than travel along the Superhighway, the Xian craft had already arrived in Roostville when Raptor made it to her new home. Jet Jaguar had assumed a handy giant size to assist the Xians in securing the one-time Chicago Mill house atop the new 'first floor' log structure. SFX, Inc. was there in full force, bolting the buildings together for a truly seamless finish. The massive concrete block 'shed' had been lifted from the ground, complete with its slab foundation and only needed the prerun electrical wires hooked to the weather head. With a wave to the departing spacecraft, Jet returned to people size and joined Raptor, who was filming the whole operation.
"Well, what did you think of that?" he grinned.
"Truly amazing!" As it was now daylight, a goodly number of Roostville residents had also arrived for the lift, never really getting over the novelty of this particular event. Various city officials, including the four Dark Lords (minus maroon togas which would have been fitting for the formal 'show' they were about to take part in) were standing by to confer their welcome to Roostville's newest resident.
"Don't forget to stop by the R.B.I. and get your necessary inoculations and register your citizenship," Melkor reminded Raptor, presenting a Chamber of Commerce packet with maps, coupons, city codes, ordinances and other Welcome Wagon-type goodies.
"Like in shots?" Raptor asked.
"Yep," JJ explained. That way, the various demons and beasties Sauron might unleash from the darker depths and corners of Roostville and parts unknown can recognize our Kaiju-Belt® citizens. Anything else is fair game to them."
The personable Dark Lord and Vice-Mayor of Roostville grinned and stepped forward with his welcome and a TV cable/modem box. "When not taking care of administrative details, I also keep the town's electronic entertainment up and running. Ever get the bug to go on the air yourself, there's the public access ROOST TV." Raptor had spotted several mini-cams and media vehicles among the crowd of well-wishers representing the Roostville News Network, SPACE POST and Ultra Digital Q.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every citizen of Roostville for a most gracious and generous welcome," she addressed the crowd. "How about when I get the drive-in and restaurant up and running we all get together for an open house?" The crowd roared their appreciation, always ready to PARTY. "Great! We'll get the word out to the media, line up advertising and all that fun stuff but for right now, I guess I better get settled in, even if this has been one of the easiest relocations I've ever made. Three cheers for the Xians and SFX, Inc. And most of all, Roostville's premier super-duper robot, Jet Jaguar!" Again, the crowd roared their approval and Jet grinned.
When the welcomes and further introductions were out of the way, it was time to grab a cool one from the new bar off the downstairs 'addition' and call the contractors in for a toast. Final inspection had been made and their work was flawless.
"We have much practice," the grinning Japanese foreman assured her. "Kaiju not watch where they step." Jet had to agree on that.
"It keeps them in business, all right!" Seeing everyone off, Raptor looked down the hill toward West End Imagineering and eastward at the city of Roostville, shining and bustling in the fall sunshine.
"Most promising, indeed!" she figured, toasting the panorama.