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Years ago, Total Drama was cancelled, but left its mark by starting the trend of teen reality shows. Now, the new holders of the rights to Total Drama set out to cash in on the craze by making a reboot of the popular franchise, with an 'American' version of the show! Three struggling actors host in America's capital of Washington, D.C. where twenty-two teens compete for two million dollars along fame and fortune. Who will win the show? Who will lose? And will the show be a success or the last cliff note in Total Drama's history...

Now has a tropes page here



Rhonda- Hostess 

Jenny- Co-hostess

Toby - Co-host


Aiden- The American Patriot 

Bethany- The All Star

Cynthia- The Sociopath 

Diamonique- The Scatterbrain 

Easton- The Older Twin

Frannie- The Circus Act

Griswold- The Lineman

Hayden- The Big Brother

Ignacio- Mr. Fanservice

Jasper- Some Nobody

Kalino- The Slacker

Lita- The Knockout

Melissa- The Sweetheart

Ness- The Jinx

Pascal- The Pop Star

Riley- The Bro

Seraphina- The Psychic

Tessa- The Big Shot

Vance- The Rodeo Champ

Weston- The Younger Twin

Xidorn- The Straight Shooter

Zipporah- The Token Goth



Chapter 1 Total Drama Goes to Washington (Part One)

"No, no over there!”

“I put it over there earlier!”

“Then you’ll have no trouble putting it there again!”

An old woman glanced up from her magazine. She had only been in Washington for a few days, yet she had gotten use to the busy nature of the metro stations. Today was different. Scurrying around the plaza were camera crews, grips, gaffers, makeup artists and other such ‘behind the scene’ workers.

Two young ones were arguing about where to place a bundle of balloons, while others hung a banner.

“What’s happening here?” the old woman asked herself. 

The girl sitting next to her looked up from her scripts. “Didn’t you hear? This station is the premiere of a reality show!”

“Reality show?” the old woman replied. “Which one?”

“Total Drama."

The old woman tilted her head in confusion. “Total Drama… is it one of those teen reality shows networks keep trying to pass off?”

The girl squirmed a little. “Well, kind of. It was a popular show in Canada that had a cult following in the US. It basically started the trend of teenage reality shows.”

“Oh yes!” the old woman recalled. “I remember watching a few of those early seasons. Whatever happened to that show?”

The girl scowled. “Budget issues, lawsuits, a big drop in ratings, failed merchandise…the network pulled the plug. An international corporation bought it and tried to revive it. Tried to make an American version. That plan had issues though. It never got on air and the show was cancelled…again.”

“So why is it back now?” the old woman inquired.

“Well it’s like you said,” the girl replied, “a lot of networks are making reality shows starring teenagers, all trying to mimic Total Drama. Despite all of its later seasons' flaws, the original was still a huge success. The corporation still has the rights, but they expire soon. They're having success with a version only airing in Canada. The network head is a huge fan of the show, so we got another reboot. A real American version of Total Drama.”

“I might just have to watch it,” the old woman said. “Is that old host returning? I remember him being rather handsome.”

“No,” the girl replied, “he left the franchise after a health scare to pursue his acting career. Then he did some bad movies and afterwards…disappeared. Some say he went to jail for some illegal scam. Others say he ran away with his big, burly assistant to a private island. Some insist he died a long time ago.”

“That's a darn shame,” the woman stated. “Who is the new host?”

The girl smiled.

She peered into the old woman’s magazine. She flipped a few pages before stopping, pointing at a picture. The picture was of a young woman, the magazine said her age but she could pass for younger. She was simple, with brunette hair and hazel eyes, dressed in a purple hoodie and average jeans.

“Hmm,” the old woman said, "she seems rather plain and frumpy to actually host a big TV show, don’t you think?”

Rhonda!” a voice called. “Get over here, the show’s about to start."

The young girl stood up and scowled at the old lady. “Thanks for that.”

Rhonda walked up to the mass of balloons, where a boy and girl about Rhonda’s age argued.

The girl was a petite, short youth with a freckled face and a slightly pointed nose. She wore a lime green shirt underneath a worn out pair of overalls, that she coordinated with high-top purple sneakers, which lit up when she walked or stomped her feet. Her orange ponytail bobbed from side to side as she shook her head.

In contrast, the boy was rather tall, though his hunching posture made it less noticeable. His face seemed to have a frown permanently carved into it. He dressed in a plain gray sweatshirt covered in woodchips and jeans stained with grease spots. His baby blue eyes were hardly noticeable due to the heavy, dark circles surrounding them.

“I’m here,” Rhonda said, “How long till the show starts?”

“Oh it started three minutes ago!” the redhead replied. “We’ve been filming you talking to the old broad.”

“What!” Rhonda exclaimed. “Why didn’t you call me?”

“We were on break,” the blonde said.

“Union laws,” the redhead added.

“Remind me of why you two idiots are here again?” Rhonda sighed.

“Because we’re your only friends not from the Internet and you couldn’t get anyone else,” the redhead replied. “Remember?”

“We’re still filming,” the blonde stated.

Rhonda turned to a cameraman and forced a smile. “Hello. And welcome to…Total Drama Genesis.”

The camera panned up to the banner, announcing Total Drama Genesis in blue letters.

Rhonda nodded. “I’m your host Rhonda and these two knuckleheads are my co-hosts, Jenny and Toby. You might recognize me as the co-host of Canada's most recent season.”

“Probably not though,” Jenny admitted.

“Well, we're big fans of reality television,” Rhonda continued. “We’re here in Washington, D.C. to bring you the return of one of reality TV’s biggest darlings; Total Drama! Like the original, twenty-two teens will compete on our show. They’ll live together in close quarters, duke it out in intense challenges, and vote off one another in ceremonies until only two are left to compete for the grand prize; now two million dollars! Who will be able to conquer the toughest, grossest, intensest competition ever? Let’s find out!"

A loud screech echoed through the station. A subway halted to a stop at the gates, releasing a stampede of travelers into the metro.

“We’ll be meeting our cast of newcomers here,” Rhonda explained. “They’ll be getting off the subway any-“

The hostess was interrupted by a basketball to the face, knocking her to the ground.

“That must be one of our newbies now.”

“I’m so sorry about that!"

A tall woman jogged up to the hosts. She was a muscular girl of African-American descent, who towered over the hosts at over six feet tall. Her jet-black hair was cut in a bob that sported a red sweatband. It matched the bands on her wrists and the red striped sneakers on her feet. Her red jersey was numbered with a '1', perfect for her red shorts.

The basketball bounced onto the jockette's left finger, who spun it while she helped Rhonda up. The athlete carried all her luggage in a single Harlem Globetrotter brand duffel bag.

“Crap, you alright?” the athlete asked.

“Fine,” Rhonda replied, “the only thing hurt was my pride. Anyway, it’s nice to have you on the show Bethany.”

Bethany blushed. “Again, I’m so so so so so so so so-”

“-It’s cool,” Rhonda said. “I see you came in your uniform.”

“Yeah. It’s for the best shot-put team ever; the Shelbyville Lady Canaries!”

Bethany laughed. “I figured this was going to be a tough competition, so I should dress for it. It's going to be tough, right?”

Rhonda smirked. “Oh, you have no idea.”

"I see our next contestant,” Toby stated.

The camera scanned the horizon and focused in on the middle of a crowd, where sky blue hair stood out a mile away. As the crowd dispersed, it turned out to be a thin Asian boy, who smiled wide.

The camera zoomed in on his black sweatshirt, featuring a deformed sea monster howling at the moon, with the words ‘Part Of Your World’ printed in pink cursive at the top. The man's purple jeans were held up by rainbow suspenders. He shouldered a panda backpack, while he carried an instrument case in one hand and a camera case in the other.

“Welcome Xidorn,” Rhonda said.

Xidorn sat his stuff down and shook Rhonda’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to be here.”

"Cool instrument case," Bethany said, analyzing all the stickers and decorations on it.

“Thanks” Xidorn replied, "I play the french horn. I see you're a Harlem Globetrotters fan."

Bethany blushed. "No! Er yeah...kind of. My dad's a super fan."

“So how was the metro Xidorn?” Rhonda asked.

“To be honest,” Xidorn admitted, "It was…uncomfortable; some of the people on there…made me anxious.”

“Really?” Rhonda questioned. “How so?”

“It was just this one person in the corner who…oh my god. They followed me…”


Xidorn started to shake. “Behind you…”

Bethany raised an eyebrow. “What do you…”

Bethany froze. She felt a deep breath exhale on her neck. Slowly, she turned around. There was no one.

Xidorn shook even more. “Where did…”

The two arrivals turned around in a fright as they heard a clang. Even the hosts spun around as a new contestant dropped their stuff off.

“That’s the person,” Xidorn whispered, “from the subway.”

A young girl stood in front of them. She looked mostly normal; she was of average height, and was wearing a school uniform that consisted of a buttoned, white shirt with rolled up sleeves, a dark blue skirt and black flats. Yet her hair was naturally white and her skin extremely pale. Her face was expressionless and her grey eyes showed no emotion. The woman carried a nondescript black bag.

Rhonda trembled. “Oh hello Cynthia.. uh, how long have you been here?”

She stared back.

“It's not at all terrifying to meet you Cynthia,” Bethany greeted as she took deep breaths. Xidorn cowered behind her.

Cynthia said nothing.

"We were just talking about what we like to do," Bethany said. "I umm…play sports, and well Xidorn plays French horn. What do you do?”

Cynthia unzipped her bag. The newcomers peered inside to see a chainsaw, knives, a can of gasoline and a group of black trash bags.

“Oh god,” Xidorn whimpered.

Another subway arrived. The newcomers and hosts walked ahead to try and see through the crowd. When they stepped back, Cynthia was gone. In her place were shards of broken glass arranged into a eye.

"Are you okay Xidorn?” Bethany asked.

“Honestly,” Xidorn admitted, “I peed myself a little.”

“Same,” Rhonda stated. “Uh, I mean here come our next arrivals!”

Dashing forward were two twins. They were kind of muscular, yet also kind of skinny. The twins were black and their hair was shaved completely bald. Their shorts were grey, as were their sneakers. The only difference between the two was that one wore a green sweatshirt with a yellow spiral, while the other wore a yellow sweatshirt with a green spiral.

“Hi,” the first twin greeted. “This is my brother Weston.”

“And this is my brother Easton,” the other twin added.

“A pleasure to have you two here,” Rhonda said. “So, why did you two decide to join the show?”

“Well I always wanted to compete on a reality show,” Easton stated. “And Weston thought…”

“It’d be fun if we competed together,” Weston finished. “And together…”

“We’re going to kick butt!” the twins shouted in unison.

“I’m already confused as to who is who,” Rhonda whispered to Toby.

“You do know we're right here?” Easton asked. “And we…"

But before Weston could finish their thought, the next subway pulled up. Unlike before however, the crowd quietly started to part. They stared and gasped at a confident girl who marched through.

Bethany gasped. "Holy crap! Isn’t that the gymnast who won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics?”

“The one on all the talk shows?” Xidorn added with a grimace.

Rhonda nodded. “That's Tessa.”

Tessa strutted forward. She had long, light brunette hair in a ponytail and dark, green eyes. Except for the gold medal that hung around her neck, Tessa dressed like a normal girl, wearing a green flowery shirt, white pants, and brown boots. Upon seeing the other newcomers, Tessa scrunched her nose.

“Tessa, it’s great to have you here,” Rhonda welcomed.

Tessa didn’t reply, as she studied the faces of the current arrivals.

“Wow, I can’t believe we’re meeting a celebrity!” Easton said.

“Me either!” Weston added.

Bethany hyperventilated. "Ermygoshyou'retotallyfamous...I mean, nice to meet you. I'm an athlete too!"

“Really?” Tessa replied.

“Not like you,” Bethany admitted. “You're a professional! I feel like this competition just got a lot more serious.”

“Don’t get the wrong idea,” Tessa stated. “I am not one of those competitive ‘jock’ types, unlike…certain people.”


“So, why are you here?” Easton asked.

“Yeah,” Weston added.

“I wanted to,” Tessa said, "what’s it to you?”

“Just curious is all,” Easton replied.

"Yeah, just curious," Weston said. 

Tessa glared at the other arrivals, who backed away.

“I’m trapped with a bunch of meatheads,” Tessa whispered, rolling her eyes.

Another metro arrived. The crowd rushed out, yet people started falling down like dominoes. Pushing her way to the front was a short and plump African-American girl. She dressed in a silvery sequin top, apple-bottom brand jeans and fur ugg boots. She accessorized it with gold, dangle hoop earrings and a raspberry beret on her brunette weave with blond highlights. Her arms were laced with shopping bags, while she carried a doggie bag in her fist.

"Hey lady,” she said to Rhonda, in a slow, yet deep voice. “I’m looking for that Total Drama show. You seen it?”

Rhonda pointed up at the banner right above her.

“So they’re upstairs?” the girl asked.

“We’re right here Diamonique,” Rhonda sighed.

“Whoa, how did you know my name?” Diamonique asked.

“I’m the host of the show."

"Okay, but how did you know my name?”

Rhonda facepalmed. “Why so many bags?”

"I took an early flight so I could go shopping,” Diamonique admitted. 

“Did you enjoy the subway?”

“Eh, it was fine breakfast but I think it’s better as a lunch place,” Diamonique replied. “So, do you or do you not know where that Total Drama show is?”

A hearty laugh rang out through the metro station. Behind the scatterbrain was a large man, almost as tall as Bethany and as wide as Diamonique. He wore a red football varsity jacket, cargo pants and sneakers. He had a bit of a stubble on his chin to match his brunette pompadour.

He patted Diamonique on the back while he chuckled, almost knocking the girl over.

“You’re a riot!"

“Nice to have you here Griswold,” Rhonda stated.

“My name’s Diamonique,” the ditz stated.

“How did you get a name like that?” Griswold asked.

“My parents let me rename myself for a birthday,” Diamonique replied. “So I named myself after my birthstone and Monique.”

“I was actually born in April too," Griswold replied. 

“April?” Diamonique asked. “I was born in September.”

Griswold laughed again as he marched on. Diamonique shrugged, walking away and as she pulled a taco out of her to-go bag. 

"Coolio, another athlete!” Bethany stated as she and Griswold high-fived.

“I’ve got to represent my primo team after we became state champions this year!” Griswold announced. “Go Bulldogs!”

“Great,” Tessa mumbled to herself, rubbing her temples. “Another cocky jock.”

Rhonda looked for the next subway, when Toby tapped her shoulder. He pointed to the stairs. A young man entered carrying a large backpack, jogging down the steps. He beamed a smile. He had blonde hair, blue eyes and an athletic build. He wore an American flag T-shirt, a red baseball cap and a pair of long military camo pants.

He marched up to Rhonda, and then saluted her. “Good day mam’.”

“Hey Aiden,” Rhonda greeted. “Welcome to the show!”

Aiden nodded and marched over to the others.

“Dude, you didn't take the subway?” Xidorn asked.

“Oh, I’ve lived in Washington D.C. my whole life,” Aiden bragged. “I would have been here sooner, but I had to go see all of our great nation’s monuments…and cry at the symbolism and majesty of them.”

“Okay...” Xidorn replied, “but don't you live here?”

“Yeah, that's what I do every morning.”

“It's good to be proud of your country," Rhonda said. “I’m actually very proud to be in the state of Washington, at my nation’s capital.”

“Mam' you do know that Washington D.C. isn’t in the state of Washington, right?” Aiden questioned.

“WHAT?” Rhonda asked. “I thought it was like New York City in New York. What state are we in?”

"We aren’t in a state,” Aiden replied. “We’re in the district of Columbia.”

Rhonda’s eye twitched in annoyance. “So the United States capital isn’t even a state? That’s kind of stupid.”

“I think it works,” Aiden said. “Washington acts as neutral ground for the other states.”

“We should’ve named our capital after something American,” Diamonique stated. "Like the first president or something."

“You mean George Washington?” Tessa questioned.

"Who the heck is that guy!?” Diamonique asked.

Jenny pointed. “Ooh, I can see our next victim approaching!”

Everyone looked and saw as the newest arrival, a girl, approached the growing mass of teens. She frowned.

Seraphina,” Rhonda stated to the girl. “How’s it going girl?”


Seraphina was of average height for a girl her age. Her skin was pale and coordinated rather well with her long, dark auburn hair and somewhat squinty hazel eyes. Draped over the shoulders of lavender tee was a wool shawl. She wore simple blue jeans and white sneakers with a lavender stripe. Printed on her shirt in white letters was, ‘Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

“So, you excited to be here?” Rhonda asked.

Seraphina shrugged. “I guess.”

A few brief seconds passed. Seraphina raised her eyebrows and walked into the mass of arrivals.

“Nice to meet you Seraphina," Xidorn said. 

“Uh...” Seraphina replied. “Yeah, right back at you.”

Xidorn held out his hand. Seraphina drew back, accidentally dropping her bag. It spilled an archaic set of cards all over the platform. Seraphina immediately reached down and started scooping them up.

“Let me help you dude,” Griswold said, as he and others tried to help pick them up.

What are those?” Tessa asked, not moving.

“They're called none of your business,” Seraphina replied.

“Aren’t these tarot cards?” Griswold asked.

“Don’t you know that stuff is mumbo jumbo?” Tessa stated.

Seraphina rolled her eyes. “I had no idea, but thanks for informing me.”

“Cool!” Easton said, picking up a card.

“Yeah cool,” Weston added.

“Are you a psychic?” Easton asked.

Seraphina sighed. “Kind of. It’s not a big deal.”

“It’s not,” Tessa stated, “it’s sad; I’ll have you know that I don’t support who-blah like that.”

“I care deeply."

“Hey pals, let's stay cool,” Aiden stated. 

"I’m just using my right to free speech,” Tessa snapped back. “It’s an amendment and you can’t respond with telling me I shouldn’t.”

“Actually, while we do have a right to free speech, people do have a right to respond negatively,” Aiden said. “So while you could argue we can say whatever we want, we also can be held to those consequences that-“

“-Shut it!”

“Fine,” Seraphina stated. “If she wants to use her free speech, so will I; you’re a ****ing *****.

Griswold stepped between the two girls. “Hey dudettes; let’s all take a chill pill and talk this out.”

Tessa scoffed and sulked off.

Seraphina rolled her eyes and walked to the back of the group. "I knew this show was a bad idea..."

“Or not,” Griswold mumbled to himself. “That works too.”

Another subway arrived. One of the last to leave was a short girl, with dirty-blonde hair. The youth was dressed in a brown sweatshirt, a black skirt, black leggings and brown boots. Her left arm was bandaged.

She glanced to the sides, as if crossing the street. Walking forward, she saw the banner and waved at everyone…before tripping and tumbling into a waste bin. Trying to crawl out, it tipped over and she busted her chin on the floor.


“Ouch,” Griswold cringed, "bogus.”

Immediately another passenger from the subway, a bright blue-eyed boy, rushed over. The young man was tall and brawny, with curly strawberry blonde hair. He wore a light blue plaid shirt, the top buttons undone, and well worn jeans.

The man grabbed the girl's hand and helped her up. “You alright kid?”

The girl blushed and nodded.

“She’s probably just faking it for attention,” Tessa grumbled to herself.

“Nice to see you Ness and Hayden,” Rhonda said to the girl and man respectively.

“Thanks,” Hayden replied, “I’m thrilled. Now, are you sure you're not hurt sprout? That was quite the fall.”

“It’s okay, it tends to happen,” Ness admitted.

“Where's your luggage Ness?” Rhonda asked.

Ness blushed. “Well a homeless, crazy subway lady kind of…sort of…punched me and stole all of my stuff. It’s not important. I’m just really, really excited to be here.”

“We’re excited to have you,” Rhonda reassured.

The next subway came on to the scene. The first passenger off wasn’t a person, but a ring-tailed lemur! Jumping off people’s heads, it landed on the camera and tilted it to back to the metro exit.

People were knocked out of the door by someone unicycling. It was a clown; a purple haired girl, dressed in a colorful outfit, complete with a flower pinned to her chest. Like classic clowns, she wore big red shoes, a big red nose and even had her face powdered and painted in clown makeup. She somersaulted off the unicycle, performing a split right in front of Rhonda. The hosts and most of the other arrivals clapped as the clown bowed.

"Put it there!" the clown said to Rhonda.

Rhonda shook the clown's hand, only to be shocked by a joy buzzer.

The clown snorted and held her hands up to her face, only to shock herself. She giggled more.

"Sorry, but what can I say? I have an electric personality."

Everyone groaned.

Rhonda coughed up smoke. "Wonderful to have you Frannie."

“Great to be here Rhonnie,” Frannie said. “Do you mind if I call you Rhonnie? I’m calling you Rhonnie. Or what about Rhonda Stoppable? Or Rhondonalido? Rhon-Rhon? Nope, gonna go back to Rhonnie.”

The lemur wheeled over the unicycle, now draped in Frannie’s bags. Frannie petted the primate and allowed it to crawl on to her shoulder. 

“What is that?” Tessa asked.

“I’m a clown,” Frannie replied. “I thought that was obvious...”

“On your shoulder,” Tessa grunted.

“Ohh,” Frannie replied. “This is Ziba. She’s my pet lemur, though some say I’m more her pet, am I right Ziba?”

The lemur rolled her eyes.

“That was awesommmmme,” a hazy voice stated.

Walking over now was a tall, extremely skinny guy of Pacific-Islander descent. He wore an unbuttoned Hawaiian T-shirt and cargo shirts. His black hair was cut short, matching a soul patch he had grown.  His eyes seemed to always be closed. He carried barely any luggage.

“Now here comes Kalino,” Rhonda stated.

“You were all like, 'woosh', and I was like, ‘huhhhh’, and then I was like, ‘woahhhh’,” Kalino described. “And then I was all…’huhhhh’ again.”

“I didn’t know we had a poet,” Seraphina stated.

There was a gasp. People turned their heads as a white horse charged down the stairs.

“Hi-ho Tinfoil!” the rider yelled, as the horse lept over the other arrivals and landed in front of Rhonda.

The horse neighed and it threw its head back, letting its mane dance in the wind. The horse’s rider tossed his white cowboy hat back and waved it around.

Jumping down was a short lad, though he seemed taller with the heels on his silver spurred boots. White and silver seemed to be his signature colors; his suit was white and adorned with silver tassels and finishes. His belt was the only exception, a gold, oversized champion’s belt.

Under his white hat was messy red hair, and under his nose was a matching curly mustache. He turned to the other arrivals, winked one of his dark-green eyes and flashed a smile, revealing a missing front tooth. He looked much older than the other arrivals. 

“Wonderful entrance Vance,” Rhonda stated.

Vance tipped his hat over his face and leaned against a dark pillar.

“Aw shoot, it’s just what I do everyday.” His voice sounded more redneck than southern.

Rhonda grimaced. “Be careful…”

“Oh don’t worry little lady,” Vance said. “I’m an expert.”

“You’re leaning against wet paint."

Vance shot up and blushed, throwing off his now cow print jacket.

“Bro that’s a sweet horse,” Griswold said. “That your deputy or something?”

“Oh I got no clue who this here horse is,” Vance replied as he took off his luggage. “I just found ‘em and took ‘em for a ride.”

Vance slapped the horse’s rear end, which sent it charging up the stairs into the streets.

A ringing went off as the next subway made it's entrance.

“That’s my phone,” Toby stated. “I’ll be right back.”

As Toby stepped away, the passengers exited into the station. One particular passenger moon-walked out of the metro however.

Flipping around and striking a pose, he noticed the camera and waved. He was a young man about average height with some Asian heritage. His black hair was in a swished, bowl-cut style, like a boy band member, and under an orange knit cap. He was muscular, as his blue, sleeveless tank showed. He wore designer jeans and name-brand white sneakers. His blue eyes seemed to be made of sparkles.

Ness gasped as she saw him, almost tripping over her own feet.

Jogging over, the boy took Rhonda’s hand and shook it. “Yipee Skippy! I made it!"

“I’m glad you’re so enthusiastic Pascal,” Rhonda replied.

“I’ve been a big fan of Total Drama since back in the day,” Pascal stated. “It’s why I started doing reality shows!”

“Well we’re happy to have one of the most popular show jumpers on our reboot."

Pascal rubbed the back of his head. “Thanks. It’s like I always say, believe to achieve!"

“Wasn’t that your first single?”

Pascal nodded. “Top of the charts for two weeks straight. But I’m not here to focus on my highly successful music career, I’m here to focus on the show. I believed I’d get on Total Drama, and now I achieved it! And if we all believe, with all of our hearts, we can achieve.”

He took his luggage and joined the others as Rhonda shed a few tears.

“Hmm,” Seraphina said to herself, as Pascal passed by.

Kalino sniffed the air. “Woah, does anyone smell…cookies?”

Walking down the steps was a young lady with somewhat dark features, carrying a ceramic plate wrapped in tinfoil. She was a little short and had her curly black hair in short pigtails tied with pink ribbons. Likewise, her light pink shirt had a darker pink Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon on it, while her jeans and sneakers were plain. Her only luggage was a duffel bag. She smiled as she approached.  

“Wonderful to see you Melissa,” Rhonda greeted.

“Hi Ms. Rhonda,” Melissa greeted. “I apologize for being so tardy. There was some kind of serious traffic accident, something involving a horse…”

Vance whistled innocently, except he didn’t know how to whistle, so he more or less spat everywhere.

“But it’s not that poor pony’s fault I’m delayed,” Melissa admitted. “You see I wanted to bake cookies for everyone!”

The mass of teens swarmed Melissa, each taking a heart-shaped cookie.

“I hope it’s all right I made snicker-doodles,” Melissa stated. “I love them because they have such a funny name, though every cookie is unique and special in its own way!”

Tessa refused a cookie. “Oh, how clever of you to try and win over everyone for the competition.”

“Or maybe Melissa is just a nice person,” Xidorn defended.

“Unlike some of us here,” Seraphina added.

“Competition?” Melissa asked.

“Melissa was a late addition to the show,” Rhonda clarified. “As in, we were desperate to fill an open spot during the last two days. She lives in Washington and was nice enough to help some our crew, so we gave her a spot.”

“I’m just glad I could help someone in need,” Melissa replied.

“And I thought these cookies were sugary,” Seraphina stated, munching on her second cookie. 

“You’re a local?” Aiden questioned.

“Oh, I’ve only been living here a week now,” Melissa confessed. “Though it is different from small-town Wisconsin, there’s something magical about living in your nation’s beautiful capital.”

Aiden’s smile widened. “Gee whiz, that’s exactly how I feel! I’ve lived here my whole life! You know, if you ever want a tour I’d be happy to give one to you.”

Melissa blushed. “I’d love that.”

“America sure is a fine place,” Tessa scoffed, “if you’re blind.”

WHOA NOW,” Aiden stated. “I’ll be the first to admit America has made a lot of mistakes that aren’t acknowledged enough. We still have some real issues. Yet, we do have certain liberties you won’t find in a lot of nations. We've done a lot of good for a relatively young nation.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Melissa added. “Didn’t you represent the US in the Olympics?”

"That doesn’t make me ignorant,” Tessa stated. “Maybe you’ve just been living too cozy to be aware of what’s actually going on.”

Before anyone could say more, Tessa sulked off again.

“That’s funny,” Jenny said, “I thought that last subway would have more newbies.”

“It did. I’ve been trying to talk to the staff, but no one’s been paying attention to me.”

The hostesses turned to see some guy standing behind them. He was um…there. He had some luggage and brown hair or something. He wore some shoes and pants and a shirt with some stripes I think.

“Who are you?” Jenny asked. “I mean I didn’t actually look at who the newbies were but...”

“I’m Jasper,” that guy said.

"I don’t remember a Casper,” Rhonda admitted. “And I’ve been studying the cast for weeks.”

An intern rushed over and whispered in the hostess’ ear.

Rhonda blushed. “Oh right, Jasper! I apologize; it’s been a stressful day.”

“It’s fine,” Jason Jasper said, “I-“ 

“-Wait!” Jenny interrupted, “Isn’t that the guy with the famous brother in his audition tape, before me and Toby lost it? You know, who we thought was auditioning?”

Rhonda elbowed Jenny.

“It’s fine,” Jake Jasper sighed, walking to the other arrivals. “I’m just glad to be here.”

Toby walked back over to his co-hosts, closing his flip phone. “One of the interns 'happily' informed me that Ignacio is on the upcoming metro.”

Rhonda and several interns squealed while the cameraman fainted. 

"Who is Ignacio?” Xidorn questioned.

Rhonda swooned. “Only one of the most attractive people ever!”

She pulled out a photo out of her pocket. It was of a tall, handsome man of Hispanic heritage. He had a serious expression, and was staring off in the distance with his caramel eyes. He wore nothing except a tight pair of black briefs. He had well developed pecs and a twelve pack.

“Dang!” Frannie exclaimed. “I’d eat off a body like that! It’d be a lot better than most of the bodies I eat off…”

“I’ve never met him personally,” Rhonda admitted.

“Yet you carry a photo of him?” Seraphina asked.

Rhonda turned red and shoved the photo away. “What…no this was uh…I was holding this for um…Toby!”

"Toby already has his own photo!” Jenny yelled. Toby blushed. 

“You don’t?” Diamonique asked.

“Do I look like I have cooties?” Jenny replied.

“Yes,” Toby said.

“YOUR MOM!” Jenny yelled.

Everyone hushed and turned, as a subway pulled in. As people exited the metro, a teenager with luggage walked over to the banner who…was a goth chick.

“You’re not a sexy man in underwear!” Diamonique yelled.

“Perceptive,” Seraphina stated.

“Hey Zipporah,” Rhonda greeted.

Zipporah was a tall girl who seemed to have some Asian and Middle-Eastern heritage. She looked like your stereotypical goth; heavy black eyeliner, pale face, black nails and long black hair. Her clothes were all black; a long dress, heeled boots and a hairband.

Zipporah looked around and sighed. “Let me guess, I’m the goth one. Aren’t I?”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Rhonda replied.

“I would!” Jenny shouted.

“Great,” Zipporah replied, "just another reason to hate the false 'Hollywood-notion' believing, mainstream, image-obsessed business known as television.”

Zipporah sighed again as she took her black bags and walked away.

Suddenly, the cameraman pointed and squealed, “I see him!”

Emerging from the crowd was another teen with luggage. This time, he looked like Ignacio…kinda. He had a full-grown beard around his face, and his hair in a ‘man bun’. He wore large sweatpants, a long-sleeved red hoodie and big hiker boots. He walked over, blushing at the many eyes upon him.

“That’s not a sexy man in underwear either!” Diamonique shouted. “Could someone just strip for me, please?”

Very, very slowly Kalino started to take off his shirt. “Surrrreee. I’ll take any chance to be in my birthday suit.”

“Bro, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Griswold stated.

“S'up Ignacio,” Rhonda greeted, sweating profusely.

“Did I do something wrong?” Ignacio asked.

“To be honest,” Xidorn admitted, “I was kind of hoping you’d be shirtless or something.”

Ignacio looked down at the floor, where Rhonda’s picture of him had fallen. He became even redder.

“Don’t uh…pay attention to those,” Ignacio stated quietly. “I…um…I’m just a normal guy.”

Ignacio scampered off into the back of the crowd.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have taken the agency’s word on him,” Rhonda whispered.

Rhonda was interrupted by a grinding noise. But it wasn’t a subway; a skater grinded down the rails of the stairs. Reaching the end, the skater did a double flip before landing in front of Rhonda. She stomped on the board, sending it flying, before catching it in her hands. Her luggage slipped down the rail as the others cheered.

“Nice entrance Riley,” Rhonda said.

“Thanks bro,” Riley replied.

Riley was a tall teen, lanky yet also muscular. She had Asian and Hispanic features. Her black hair was long…on her right side, while her left side was completely shaved. She had several piercings; two for each ear, gauges, a stud in her nose, a piercing in her belly button and another in her lip.

Her outfit was...unique; green gator shoes, zebra stripe pajama pants, a red grandpa sweater with the sleeves cut off and the midriff burnt off, faux fox fur cut into a vest and a wolf hat over her noggin.

“I was taking a subway,” Riley said. “But this dude triple-dog dared me to skate here, and I do not back down on dares. Random dude, if you’re watching this, you so owe me five dollars!”

“We’re just glad you could make it,” Rhonda stated.

“I would’ve been here sooner,” Riley stated. “'Cept there was a major accident on the streets; cars piled for blocks, firemen putting out burning buildings, a school bus of children going to the hospital in critical condition. They said a horse caused it or something…”

Vance ‘whistled’ even harder.

“Cool outfit bro,” Griswold stated.

“Thanks man,” Riley replied. “I wanted to look fancy, so me and my bros went on a spree; cost twenty whole bucks.”

“Dude that’s crazy,” Griswold responded.

“That’s what I’m saying Broseph!” 

Another subway pulled in.

"That should be our last contestant,” Rhonda announced. “Who would be…”

Few patrons exited the car, one a teenage girl pulling luggage. If Ignacio was Mr. Fanservice, then anyone could tell who was Ms. Fanservice; she had flowing black hair, violet eyes, long legs, was rather curvy and was the most well developed of the cast. She was of African-American descent. She had on a designer purple scarf that matched her eyes, a yellow midriff with a purple heart, brown boots and light purple pants. 

"…Lita,” Rhonda said.

“Present,” the girl replied and waved. “Hey y’all. I hope I’m not too late.”

“You’re right on time."

Lita smiled. “Good to hear.”

Lita walked over and stopped at a jaw dropped Easton and Weston, raising an eyebrow and closing each twin's jaw.

“Careful honey,” Lita said, “you might catch bugs if you leave your mouth hanging out.”

“Hehe,” Weston giggled and fell back on Easton.

Tessa rolled her eyes at the new arrival.

“Well now that we’re all here,” Rhonda said. “Allow us to take you to your quarters!”

"I only count twenty one of us,” Griswold said.

“Oh she’s here,” Xidorn warned. “Somewhere…watching…waiting…”

"Yeah," Rhonda added, "she'll join us later..."

Rhonda marched towards the stairs, the newcomers following behind her. She inhaled deeply.

This is going great,” Rhonda thought. “It’ll be a hit, I’m sure of it…it has to be, it’s the only thing left that can save our careers. I mean sure Washington D.C. isn’t the ideal survival location, the network has no faith in it and is only making it because they’re contractually obligated to…but that doesn’t mean it won’t work, right? RIGHT? Oh, please give me a sign, any sign that-”

Rhonda walked right into a stop sign. She fell back, hitting her head on the pavement. Opening her eyes, she shrieked. Cynthia stood over her.

Rhonda jumped up as she and everyone else backed away from Cynthia.

Cynthia carried a black umbrella. She opened it. At that second, the rain began to pour and drenched the newbies. Clouds cast away the sun. Lightning crackled across the sky. Wind tore through the streets.

Rhonda looked up. “I meant a good sign…”

Chapter 2 Total Drama Goes to Washington (Part Two)

A rundown bus with the initials T.D.G. pulled up to the side of the road and opened its doors.

“Everyone hurry inside,” Rhonda declared, “Two to a seat!”

Rhonda took the driver's seat from an intern as the contestants piled in.

“Hey Melissa!” Aiden called. “I saved you a seat; you can have the window.”

“Thank you so much Aiden,” Melissa replied. “But…no one’s sitting with that poor dear in the back.”

Everyone froze and looked back. Cynthia had taken the back seat. She stared. Another crack of lightning lit up the sky. 

“Really?” Easton asked.

“Yeah, really?” Weston said, sitting next to his brother.

“Oh sure, she seems a little odd,” Melissa admitted. “But deep down, aren’t we all odd? After all, we're all humans.”

Everyone turned back to see Cynthia take a knife out of her bag and cast a stare at all of them.

“I’m not so sure about that,” Seraphina said, as she took the closest open seat, next to Griswold.

"I do want to sit next to you,” Melissa said to Aiden, “but I just can’t leave someone isolated and lonely. What’s more scary than not having a friend?”

“Being murdered in the back of a bus,” Seraphina suggested.

“I’ll remember you fondly,” Aiden said, as Melissa left.

Ignacio walked towards the back of the bus as the other contestants fawned.

Frannie popped up from her seat. “Would you look at that? I have an open seat! Oh, Ignacio I didn’t see you there…right in front of me. Do you a need seat?”


“Of course you can sit with me!” Frannie stated.

“Actually Ignacio is sitting with me,” Diamonique stated, grabbing the man by his arm. “He asked me to save him a seat.”

“I did?” Ignacio asked.

“Yes,” Diamonique replied, “with your eyes!”

Frannie’s lemur, Ziba jumped onto Ignacio and rubbed her tail against his face.

“Well my lemur’s already left her scent on him,” Frannie stated.

Diamonique rubbed her face against Ignacio. “Well I’ve left my scent on him!”

Ignacio pointed. “Hey look…it’s a…a distraction!“


“I can't see it?"

Ignacio sat Ziba down and ran. He stopped at the next open seat, Tessa’s.

“Hey,” Ignacio said. “Would it uh-“

“Save it,” Tessa stated. “It’s not available for you, pretty boy.”

Ignacio sighed and walked on.

Lita was the last to make her way onto the bus.

“Hey,” Lita said to Tessa, “you're the pro athlete! Mind if I sit here?”

Tessa spread her legs out to take up the whole seat. “I do.”

“There aren’t any more open seats,” Lita said.

“Then you should’ve got on the bus sooner,” Tessa replied.

Excuse me?” 

“Did I stutter?” 

“Alright little girl, do you have a problem?” Lita shouted back.

“I'd rather not sit next to a flirt,” Tessa replied. “I believe girls should dress decently, as though they have class…even if they don’t.”

“Well I believe people should act decent,” Lita retorted. “As though they have class, which you don’t. Now move your legs, before I move them for you.”

“Now you’re going to resort to violence?” Tessa questioned, getting in the knockout's face. “Real classy.”

Lita pounded her fist into the back of the seat, leaving a hole in it. “You’re about to see how much class I have!”

“Everyone please hurry to a seat,” Rhonda called. 

“Lita,” Hayden called, “me and Aiden can make room, come up here.”

“You sure?” Lita asked. “I hate to-“

"-It would be our pleasure,” Hayden said as Aiden nodded.

The doors closed and Rhonda started to drive through the rainstorm.

“Don’t take what Tessa said personally,” Bethany said from her and Xidorn's seat. “She’s been a total grump since she got here.”

“What’s her deal?” Lita asked.

“No idea," Hayden admitted, "perhaps its an indicator of her stress, being a celebrity and all."

“Have you guys seen any of her interviews on TV?” Xidorn asked.

Lita blushed a little. “No, my family doesn’t…watch a lot of TV.”

“I heard they were controversial,” Aiden admitted. “But wowie kazowie, I never assumed anyone would act that way on the show right off the bat. Especially an American athlete!”

Hayden patted Aiden’s back. “Sometimes people can surprise us in the worst ways.”

“Agreed,” Xidorn said. “I don’t like to spread rumors, but this all the truth; in interviews she’s said nothing but horrible things about most of her fellow athletes and even other celebrities. She claims some bullied her.”

“Maybe that girl's had a rough life,” Lita wondered. “Ain't excusing her behavior, but I should talk to her again.”

Xidorn shook his head. "Good luck, and may the force be with you."

At the same time, Pascal told Diamonqiue, Kalino and Frannie a tale from his previous reality show.

“...And that’s how I solved the puzzle and saved my team from elimination,” Pascal narrated. "Again."

“Wow,” Frannie gasped.

“Man I’m not even surprised,” Kalino stated. “You’re like my favorite show jumper out there.”

“Show jumper?” Seraphina quietly asked herself, eavesdropping from her far away seat.

“Never heard of a show jumper?” Griswold asked.

Seraphina turned away. “I don’t really care for reality television."

“Show jumping is this big trend,” Griswold explained. “The original version of this show started a reality show craze. Now people can make a career out of appearing on reality TV.”

“A career?” Seraphina questioned.

Griswold nodded. “It’s outrageous! These dudes keep auditioning for reality shows to show off their talent and get managers, became famous and get some sponsorship deals or just win prize money like it’s a paycheck.”

Seraphina bit her lip. "So uh..."

"Griswold," the lineman said with a smile. "You're Seraphina right?"

Seraphina nodded. "Yeah. Do you recognize that guy?” 

Griswold scratched his chin. “That dude? Uhh…oh yeah, dude’s like crazy famous; he won some Voice or American Idol rip off. Then he used that to go on some other shows. Only watched one or two, but he corners the market on tank top commercials.”

“How do you know so much about reality TV?” Seraphina asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Reality shows are all the rage at my school. Our old quarterback appeared on one. It’s become a football tradition to apply to reality shows. Like the whole team wearing prom dresses for spirit week.”


“Since I’ve answered your questions,” Griswold started. “You think I can ask you something?”

“Yes, I think you could pull off a prom dress,” Seraphina replied.

“I already know that,” Griswold bragged. “I’m told I have pretty cheekbones. But, I wanted to see if you’d use those tarot cards to see my future.”

Seraphina turned away again. “Why? Do you even believe in psychics?”

Griswold shrugged. “I don’t know; I didn’t believe in luck till I find out the legend of my team’s lucky jockstrap and saw it in action.”

“I'm going to regret asking this but…lucky jockstrap?” Seraphina asked.

Yeah,” Griswold said, “it works on and off the field. I won every school raffle when I wore it! My football bros let me take it; if we get on the same team I’ll let you borrow it.”

“I’ll pass."

“The point is, I never thought psychics were real but I should find out first.”

“I guess I can give you a reading sometime,” Seraphina replied. “Only because your cheekbones are so pretty.”

Griswold fist pounded the air and laughed another hearty laugh.

Seraphina stared at Pascal, as he finished another story.

The weather got worse and worse till the contestants couldn't see out their windows. Eventually, the bus squeaked to a stop. 

“We’re here,” Rhonda said. “The five-star hotel you’ll all be staying at for the next indeterminable amount of days.”

“Oh no, not a hotel,” Zipporah said. “How tough can this show get?”

“Right?” Diamonqiue screamed. “I mean what will the continental breakfast be like?”

The newcomers exited the bus and froze dead in their tracks. A tower that loomed over the sky stood before them, black and decrepit yet evoking the image of a mansion. The window ledges were decorated with deformed gargoyles holding their arms out, as if beckoning onlookers to join them. Surrounding the high-rise was a rusted, pointy gate that swung open in tune with the thunder cracks.

Zipporah gasped. “It’s…so beautiful…”

“Dude, I thought you said this was a five star hotel?” Riley asked.

“It is,” Rhonda replied. “This in the historic Pentagram Hotel!”

“What happened to this place?” Hayden asked.

Oh you know, the usual; tough economy, poor location choice, the owner and architect turned out to be a serial killer who used the secret catacombs he built in the hotel to murder people…that kind of thing.”

Lita shivered and tugged on her scarf.

“You okay?” Griswold asked.

“I'm not a fan of serial killers,” Lita admitted. She noticed Cynthia staring at her and turned away.

“It looks run down,” Hayden concluded. “Are you sure everyone will be safe here?”

“Well after they caught the owner, the cops shut the place down,” Rhonda explained. “They did further investigations to find out who all was murdered...and never finished. Some say the ghosts of the serial killer and his victims scared them out…and still haunt the hotel now.”

Zipporah smiled, shedding a tear.

“Don’t worry though,” Rhonda said. “This place has been bought by an enterprise that are repairing it, transforming it into a fun family-friendly tourist attraction!”

Zipproah immediately frowned. “Every moment of happiness I have, life beats away into nothingness.”

“That’s the spirit!” Rhonda cheered. “Now I’m sure we all want to get unpacked…”

Jenny and Toby stepped out, each holding a basket.

“So, get in line by gender,” Rhonda clarified. “Draw a room key to see where you’ll stay, and find out who your new roommate is! Everyone has a roommate; the genders are uneven, so a boy and a girl will share a room. Oh, and feel free to use the confessional!”

“Where is it?” Easton asked.

“Yeah, where?” Weston added.

“It’s the cursed broken elevator,” Rhonda said. “We’ll have lunch in ten minutes. Be there; it’s required.”

“It’s about time,” Diamonique stated, finishing another taco. “I’m starved!”

As the newcomers rushed on, Lita stopped Tessa.

“Look, can we talk?” Lita asked.

“As if,” Tessa scoffed.

“Listen I’m sorry for overreacting earlier,” Lita said. “I’m not here to make enemies. So do you think we can just move on, forgot about this and be friendly?”

“Forgot about you bullying me?” Tessa asked.

“You insulted me first,” Lita clarified. “I was trying to take a seat. Look, it doesn’t matter. Can we not have bad blood between us?”

“If you think I’m going to let you push me around, you’re dumber than you look,” Tessa stated.

“Fine then,” Lita replied, “I tried to be nice. But if you’d rather have your head up your *** than please go ahead. I’m not going to take your crap. Just hope we aren’t on the same team ***** cause I will cast my vote against you. That is a promise.”

Lita flipped the bird and walked off.

Bethany entered the broken elevator and pressed a Close Door button. She sat down on the fluffy, purple cushion inside. The tacky salmon colored wallpaper was halfway peeling off the walls.

“This is actually pretty comfy for a cursed elevator,” Bethany said. “Anyway, I’m pumped to be here! I’ve never really thought about being on a reality show, but I want to challenge myself. I'm aiming to win; my family's motto is 'go big but don’t go home if you don’t win.' No pressure or anything, heh, heh...”

“I’ve always dreamed of winning this show,” Pascal said. “And I’m going to make sure that dream comes true. How? Simple; I’m going to introduce some real strategy to this show. First thing I need to do is make a secret alliance to control the votes, and make it easy to win over everyone in the finale. Reality show finales almost always depend upon getting support from other contestants.”

“I’m a glass half full kind of guy,” Kalino stated. “Some might complain we’re staying in a haunted hotel, but I say we’re staying in a hotel for free! Some might say we have to scramble or work hard and stuff to make sure we aren’t eliminated. I say I just got to sit back and wait till the right moment until… man it’s really uncomfortable in here!”

Kalino flipped up the seat cushions. Out fell what looked like a golden flash-drive.

“Cool,” Kalino said, stuffing it in his shirt pocket. “I found a good luck charm…”

"Well,” Joaquin Jasper said. “I-“

“Yeah, I don’t really want to be here,” Zipporah said. “My parents signed me up for this stupid show. It sucks. They suck. All you people watching suck. A lot.”

Seraphina read her key card as she reached her door. “The sixth floor, room sixty six; 666.”

She unlocked her door and saw Tessa sitting on one of the beds.

“The number of the beast,” Seraphina said.

“You're joking if you think I’m going to share a room with you,” Tessa said.

“I’m hoping this is just a joke,” Seraphina replied. “But I doubt it…”

“I joined this show because I wanted to get away from the world for a while,” Tessa sighed. “I wanted to meet people who were outsiders like me, be in a judgment-free zone. Instead, I get treated the same as always by the ‘popular’ snobs. I know most of them are talking bad about me behind my back, already defining me for what they’ve seen from interviews. Well, just wait and see; one by one I’m going to take them all down…”

"I'm not really a people person," Seraphina admitted. "I don't even like my own mother. I've found people are the worst. I'm not sure why I was cast; I just auditioned as an excuse not to get a summer job. Although, the show isn't as bad as I thought it would be."

Seraphina smiled, then frowned. "Its worse."

Halting to stop at the end of the hall, the twins arrived at their room.

“657,” Easton cheered. “Must be our lucky number!”

“Yeah, it must be!” Weston said.

Weston put in his card. The automatic lock spat his key back out.

“What?” Weston asked.

“Let me see,” Easton said, taking his card. “Bro, this says 654!”

“But that means,” Weston realized. “We’re…in separate rooms! We can’t be in separate rooms!”

“Hey, it’ll be alright,” Easton said. “Your room is right across from me. You’ll be fine, right?”

“Yeah, yeah it’ll be alright,” Weston agreed. “Your room is right across from mine, so I’ll be fine. You’re right.”

“I’m going to unpack,” Easton explained. “I’ll be back out in five minutes. You go unpack.”

“Okay,” Weston agreed. “Hey bro?”


“I love you."

“It’s just five minutes."

Weston hugged his brother.

Easton sighed and used his key. “Five minutes.”

“I’ll be ready in four,” Weston shouted, as Easton closed the door.

“Howdy!” Vance greeted. “Hope you don’t mind, but I did beat you here so I took the left bed.”

“No biggie,” Easton replied.

“Something getting your gumption partner?” Vance asked.

“I just had to leave my brother,” Easton said.

“Well that’s a darn shame,” Vance said. “If I hadn’t already unpacked I’d offer to switch with him.”

“No,” Easton replied, “I mean it’s just a room.”

Vance shrugged. “Whatever. Now I hope you don’t mind, but the women tend to be on me like a chicken on a June bug, so I might be having some late night make-out sessions. Try not to be awkward during it, alright?”

“Uh, I’ll try,” Easton replied.

At the same time, Weston had unlocked his room.

“S’up Broadie,” Riley welcomed. “Looks like we’re bunking together.”

Weston sighed. “Cool.”

“Everything okay?” Riley asked. “Not afraid I’ve got cooties are ya?”

“No,” Weston replied, “I grabbed the wrong key. It was supposed to be me and my brother sharing a room.”

“Aw dude that sucks hardcore,” Riley said. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s cool,” Weston replied. “It’s like Easton said, it’ll be alright.”

Riley put her arm around Weston’s shoulder. “Well I’m not your brother, but if you need somebody I’m here for you.”

Weston sighed. “Thanks.”

Melissa reached her door and put in her key. Her room was poorly lit by black candles, but she could make out a shadowy figure; Cynthia, sharpening her knives.

Melissa dropped her bags...and ran over to glomp Cynthia. “We're roommates? Oh, I was hoping we would be! We'll have so much fun together!”

Cynthia didn’t look up, intensely focusing on her blades.

Down the hall, Bethany exited her dorm and saw Pascal teetering right outside.

“Hey Bethany!" Pascal greeted. "Do you mind if we talked for an teeny weeny moment?"

“No problem,” Bethany replied. “Hold on, we’re you waiting for me? How did you know this was-“

“Follow me!” Pascal interrupted, bouncing down the hall.

Bethany shrugged and followed the singer into a dorm. Inside were Kalino and Vance. Pascal slammed the door shut.

“Am I interrupting something?” Bethany asked.

“Me and my roommate Kalino were talking,” Pascal said. “And we thought this game is going to get extra super duper serious soon, right?”

Bethany smiled. "I hope so!"

“Darn tootin,” Vance added.

"So I decided that maybe I should do something extra super duper serious myself,” Pascal explained. “Such as…form an alliance.”

“A who?” Vance asked.

“We all agree to vote together and not vote each other off,” Pascal said. “That way we can get far in the game together and protect our bestest interests.”

“Were your first draft choices?” Bethany asked.

“I want someone to win whose good,” Pascal said. “Too many times, villains form alliances and target deserving people. I say we form a good guy alliance! Besides, working together we can keep our team strong and safe.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Bethany admitted. “Don’t you think it’s a bit early though?"

“The early worm gets the early bird special,” Vance said. “I say we do it while we can.”

“Mannnnn it sounds fine to me,” Kalino stated. “As long as I can invite a friend or so in it.”

“The more friends the better!” Pascal said. “Just…wait till we get our feet settled.”

“I don’t know,” Bethany replied. "This feels like some dark side of the force stuff..."

“Duuuude I thought you’d want to be in a good guy alliance Bethany,” Kalino said. “I mean, I figured you’d want to avoid some sneak targeting you for being good at challenges.”

Bethany frowned. "You think someone would actually target me for that? This early?"

Kalino nodded.

"Well I guess it wouldn't hurt," Bethany said. "Okay, let’s do it.”

Yippie Skippy!" Pascal cheered. "Now remember, let’s keep it a secret, just to avoid people making a big deal out of it and to spare feelings; there’s a lot of people who can join us, I just wanted to start small.”

“I don’t know about y’all but I could go for some grub,” Vance said as he strutted away.

“Saaaaaammmmmeee,” Kalino said.

“My alliance plan worked perfectly!” Pascal cheered. “Yippie Skippy! With Vance and Bethany I have two big targets to hide behind at the merge when they start voting off threats. And the only way Kalino could be a more ideal scapegoat is if he grew an udder. It’s a win-win-win situation!”

Over in room 666, Tessa tossed an old box, Seraphina's box, from one hand to the other as the psychic tried to grab it back.

“Give me back my tarot cards,” Seraphina shouted. “They're in my great, great grandmother’s jewelry box.”

“If you want your hoodoo voodoo junk,” Tessa said, “go get it.”

Tessa tossed the box outside of the room. Seraphina chased after it, slipping across the floor and barely catching it. Her luggage was tossed outside and the door slammed behind her. Seraphina jiggled the knob but it wouldn’t budge.

“Let me back in there you ***hat!” Seraphina screamed.

“Sorry, this room is taken."

“I know you and your big fat ego can take up a whole room,” Seraphina replied, “but I have to sleep somewhere.”

“That’s not my problem."

Seraphina started to kick the door.

“Honey, you alright?”

Seraphina turned around to see Lita watching.

“Just peachy,” Seraphina replied, turning away.

“What happened?” 

“My roommate is the devil,” Seraphina said. “aka Tessa. Now I'm locked out.”

Lita picked up Seraphina’s luggage. “Come on sweetie."

“To where?” Seraphina asked.

“My room,” Lita replied.

Lita walked towards the beginning of the hall. She opened her door as Seraphina slowly followed.

“Hey Ness,” Lita said. “I’m back; didn't find any vending machines.”

“Hey Lita,” Ness replied, leaving their bathroom. “And, oh hey...Seraphina. What’s going on?”

“Tessa forced Seraphina out,” Lita explained. “I was hoping, if it was okay with you, that Seraphina could stay here.”

“How awful,” Ness exclaimed. “It’s no problem with me, she's welcome to.”

“Why are you offering to share your room with me?" Seraphina asked. 

“Cause I don’t want you sleeping in the hall,” Lita said.

“I’m sure if I complain to Rhonda she’ll force Tessa to let me in,” Seraphina said.

“So you can room with her?” Lita said. “I’d take the hall over that.”

“Well... thanks,” Seraphina said. “I’d like to crash here, but it’ll be just for a little while. I promise. I’ll take the floor.”

“Girl I just said you ain't sleepin there,” Lita stated. “Now you go make yourself comfy on that bed.”

“We could rotate who sleeps where,” Ness suggested. “Or maybe we could share the beds, put them together to make a super bed. Kind of like a sleepover.”

“Whatever you want,” Seraphina said.

“That sounds like a lot of fun,” Lita said. “Let’s do it!”

Ness clapped. “Eeeee! This’ll be so cool!”

Everyone gathered in the cafeteria, dimly lit by the candelabras on dusty, wood furnished tables.

“Welcome to lunch newcomers,” Rhonda said. “Please note we only have one cup for each of you.”

Rhonda pointed to the two stacks of cup outside the lunch lines; outside the left line were red cups while blue cups were stacked outside the right line.

“Again, everyone gets one cup and one cup only,” Rhonda clarified. “Now please enjoy.”

The newcomers went through the line, grabbing a cup and finding places to sit.

Melissa exited the line and saw Aiden waving.

“Thanks so much for saving me a seat,” Melissa said.

“It was my pleasure,” Aiden replied.

“So how’s your room?” Melissa asked.

“Great,” Aiden said. “I’m rooming with Hayden and he seems like the bees knees. How’s your room?”

“Wonderful!” Melissa replied. “They really went out with the atmosphere; my room started to ooze a mysterious liquid and I still don’t know what it is!”

At another table, Bethany and Xidorn cheered as Griswold and Riley chugged soda.

Griswold slammed his red cup down and belched. “Beat that!”

Riley sat her red cup down, cleared her throat…and burped so hard her glass shattered.

“Consider yourself roasted Bro-B-Q,” Riley replied.

Bethany and Xidorn clapped as Griswold bowed his head in defeat.

“Oh hey Lita!” Bethany called. “Come sit with us!”

“Sure,” Lita replies. “Is it cool if my roomies join us?”

“Heck yeah!” Griswold said. “We’re having a party over here.”

Lita and Ness started to walk over.

"I cannot believe this lunch!” Lita said. “They have my fave; cheese fries!”

“Yeah,” Ness agreed. “They have my favorite too; fried clams. I haven’t had them in forever and-“

Ness slipped and faceplanted on the ground, while her clams spilt on the floor.

“Oh,” Ness said. “That’s okay, I wasn’t really that hungry anyway.”

Lita helped Ness up. “Nonsense sweetie, have mine.”


“Sure,” Lita replied. “Besides, I’m getting seconds; we can go together.”

Seraphina exited the lunch line as her roommates took their seats.

“Hey Seraphina,” Ness called. “Over here, we saved a spot for you!"

"Yeah, come sit us with us dude!" Griswold added.

“Okay…” Seraphina replied, going to the table.

At Melissa and Aiden's table, Hayden joined them. “Is it fine if I sit with you two kids?”

“We would be delighted,” Melissa said. “Aiden was just telling me you and him were roommates.”

“Yeah,” Hayden said, “he’s a pretty cool roommate. For a dork.”

Aiden chuckled. “Aw jeez, right back at you.”

“I’m the oldest one here,” Hayden said. “Which is fine; I’m happy to be able to be here for these younger kids. Take my roommate for example; sweet guy but he’s a little innocent and dopey. He needs someone to look out for him. I’m happy to be that someone, offer him a little guidance. Youngsters need that sometimes.”

“Who are you rooming with Melissa?” Hayden asked.

“I was lucky enough to room with Cynthia,” Melissa stated.

Aiden spat his drink all over Hayden.

“Sorry pal,” Aiden apologized.

“No, that was the proper reaction,” Hayden replied. “Cynthia? Has she even spoken a word to you?”

“Well no,” Melissa replied, “she’s more of a strong-silent type. I invited her to sit with us, but I don’t think she will.”

Aiden and Hayden sighed in relief.

After a while, all the newcomers were almost finished with lunch, some even getting seconds or thirds.

Ignacio sat by himself where he picked at his food.

“Um pardon,” Lita said, behind him. “I was just wonderin’ if-”

Ignacio sighed. “-No, I will not take off my shirt. I will not flex for you. I will not let you pet my…’man bun’. Can I just please eat my lunch?”

"Don't get a fat head with me," Lita said. "I just wanted to see if you were going to eat those cheese fries, ‘cause the lunch line is out and you aren’t eating them. What, just because you get paid for stripping half naked in front of a camera you assume all girls are thirsty for you?"

Ignacio stared wide-eyed at the knockout.

Lita turned away. "Shoo, I don't even want them anymore. I hope you choke on them!"

“I have a temper,” Lita admitted. “I know it and I try to control it. But I cannot stand people who think they’re so great they can treat others badly. I should be use to dealing with people like that but…ooh! I don’t care who you are, how you look or what you have; you’re a jerk if you act like that makes you better. I’m not afraid to fight you; verbally or physically.”

“I really shot myself in foot there,” Ignacio said. "Some of the other girls and guys were inquiring about such things and it made me rather uncomfortable...still that wasn't the way to act..."

As the new arrivals finished their last bites, Rhonda reentered with a smirk on her face.

“I hope you’ve all enjoyed your lunch,” Rhonda said. “You’re going to need it for your first challenge. This challenge will test everything; your social skills, strength, intelligence, accuracy, courage, balance, creativity, vigor, speed, leadership, endurance and teamwork. The winners of today’s challenge will receive an extra special reward!”

“What are the teams?” Hayden questioned.

“Oh you’ve already chosen your teams,” Rhonda stated.

Everyone looked at each.

“Indirectly I mean,” Rhonda teased. “You see, for each of you there-“

“-Was a cup from the lunch line,” Kalino said. “Eleven red, eleven blue; each half of how many of us are here. Based on what cup we picked, we picked our teams.”

“Yeah,” Rhonda said. “How’d you know?”

“I just realized it duuuuude,” Kalino admitted. “I was wondering what was up with the cup stuff.”

“Well if you have a red cup stand to my left, blue to my right,” Rhonda stated.

The contestants reluctantly got up.

Rhonda turned to her right. “Bethany, Weston, Melissa, Diamonique, Kalino, Aiden, Vance, Cynthia, Xidorn, Hayden and Frannie you are…the Molting Eagles!”

Above their heads appeared a blue emblem, depicting a naked eagle trying to cover himself with his few remaining feathers.

Rhonda turned to her left. “That means that Griswold, Zipporah, Ness, Riley, Ignacio, Tessa, Pascal, Lita, Easton, Seraphina and Jasper are now…the Fizzling Fireworks!”

A red emblem of an exhausted cartoon firework coughing smoke and few sparks appeared over their heads.

“Wait, me and Easton aren’t on the same team!” Weston complained.

“So sad, too bad, no do-overs,” Rhonda stated.

Pascal forced a smile. “How could I forget? An alliance is the way to control the game…unless your alliance is all on the opposite team! Now I need an entirely new plan! That's okay; I can handle this. When life hands you lemons, thank life with a smile. SO THANKS LIFE. THANKS. A LOT!”

"The first part of your challenge is to get to Lincoln Memorial while staying ahead of the obstacles.”

“Obstacles?” Hayden asked.

Rhonda snapped her fingers. Two crates fell from the ceiling, shaking and echoing screams. Out of the crates came a rhino, a lion, a tiger, a bear (oh my), a shark, a murder of crows, a mass of scarabs, a chainsaw welding maniac, a chicken, Jenny and Toby on an ATV, a grandma, an animatronic dinosaur, a hipster, a monster truck, a komodo dragon, a mouse, a skunk, a vulture, a large tortoise, a girl scout, a woolly mammoth beaver, a wildebeest stampede and the Brady Bunch.

“Ah yes,” Hayden replied, “those obstacles. Well, thank you for clearing that up and, EVERYONE RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!”

The contestants bolted out as the ‘obstacles’ chased after them.

The T.D.G. bus pulled up to the Lincoln Memorial. Rhonda exited, laughing to herself.

“Ha, they weren’t expecting that.”

“I know I didn't,” Diamonique agreed. “Care for a fry?”

"No thanks Diamonique."

Rhonda smirked to herself. Then she turned around to see Diamonique, Melissa, Cynthia and Frannie.

“What?” Rhonda asked. “How did, but you…”

“Please don't be upset Ms. Rhonda,” Melissa said. “Diamonique was kind enough to haul a taxi for us.”

“It just seemed like the easiest thing to do,” Diamonique admitted. “We got here a while ago but you weren’t here, so we went to Mickey D’s.”

“After becoming roommates,” Frannie said, “me and Diamonique realized we’d do better working together than against each other. I mean we're the two hottest girls here.”

The rest of the newcomers raced towards the Lincoln Memorial.

“What a glorious day!” Jenny cheered as she held a tranquilizer gun. “Get ready Toby, this’ll be all over soon.”

One of the vultures swooped in and carried the co-hosts off.

“That was soon,” Toby said, “good work Jenny.”


At the same time, the scarabs swarmed after Ness.

Ness screamed, before tripping over a penny and faceplanting on the concrete.

The scarabs crawled over the jinx, sinking their pinchers into her skin until someone picked her.

“Don’t give up now!” 

Ness grabbed their neck, as the person carried her on their back.

“I’ve had a fear of scarabs ever since I was five," Ness explained. "A mass of them escaped from the zoo and bit me so hard they put me in the hospital. It wasn’t the worst field trip though. Thank goodness I was rescued this time. I was thinking some prince must have saved me. Maybe Pascal, that singer on my team…heehee…”

Eventually, everyone reached the Lincoln Memorial.

“We’re here,” Ness’ savior said.

“Thank you for saving me,” Ness said, kissing their cheek.


Ness opened her eyes to see she was clinging Bethany.

“Oh,” Ness said. “You can leave me back at the scarabs.”

“Forget it about,” Bethany laughed as she set Ness down, “We’re just lucky nobody got hurt.”

The two turned around to see citizens being terrorized by the obstacles, running for their lives.

“Oops,” Rhonda said, “we should have had a plan to round them back up…”

“So who won this here challenge?” Vance asked.

“The Molting Eagles arrived first, so they win an advantage for the next part of the challenge,” Rhonda said.

The Eagles cheered.

“Consider that your baptism into the world of Total Drama,” Rhonda stated. “Now that you’ve been initiated, let’s see what you all are made of…”

Rhonda moved to the top of the Lincoln Memorial steps. A crowd began gathering.

“For the next challenge you’ll be performing eleven labors,” Rhonda stated. “One person from each team will each compete in a challenge. The winner scores a point. The team with the most points at the end wins. As an advantage for winning the race, the Eagles start with one point.”

The crowd became bigger and bigger.

“Anyone notice a lot of these people are wearing ‘I Love Total Drama’ shirts,” Seraphina stated.

Rhonda nodded. “For your first labor, one member must deliver a speech to these hardcore fans of why your team should win invincibility. Then they’ll vote for who they want to win this labor. Teams, pick your speaker.”

“Let’s let huddle up team,” Hayden stated, as the Eagles formed a circle. "Who here feels like they’re good at public speaking?”

“I feel I could do it,” Aiden said.

“I think you could do it,” Hayden said, “but only one person can do one challenge. You’ve got a lot of physical strength Aiden, so I say we save you for another challenge.”

“Huh,” Aiden replied, “I didn’t think of it like that.”

Xidorn raised his hand. “I can do it. I'm a Total Drama fan too. I believe I can go up there, speak from the heart and win them over.”

“I like your honesty bud,” Hayden replied, “Go for it.”

Bethany patted Xidorn on the back as the huddle dispersed.

The Fireworks were having their own meeting.

“I’m going to go for it!” Pascal cheered. “I could even do a song for them!”

“Sounds righteous brah,” Griswold said.

“Actually,” Seraphina said, “I’d like to do it.”

“I think we’ve already decided Seraphina,” Pascal said.

“I must not have been here for the vote,” Seraphina replied.

“You can do the next one!” Pascal beamed. “I’m sure you’d do extra super duper at it!"

“Or I could do 'extra super duper' at this one if you’d give me a chance,” Seraphina said.

“Don’t let this hurt your feelings,” Pascal said. “It's just, I don’t know if you have the right…’oomph’ for this challenge.”

"You just want to get out of doing it as soon as possible,” Tessa stated.

Seraphina shook her head. “First and most importantly; shut up Tessa. Second, I don’t think it’s smart to let our most experienced player do a speaking challenge. Third, I know I can do this. Let me do this instead of waiting and having me end up competing in the bodybuilder challenge.”

“Seraphina I just don’t-“

“-Vote me off,” Seraphina stated. “If I lose this challenge and our team loses today, you can vote me off first.”

“Girl has kahunas,” Lita laughed. "I say let her do it!”

“She brings up some good points,” Ness added. “And…I believe Seraphina can do it. If I believe it, she can achieve it.”

“When you put it like that,” Pascal replied, “then let’s do it!”

Rhonda held her arms out to the crowd. “Now, let the eleven, or so, labors begin...”

Chapter 3 Total Drama Goes to Washington (Part Three)

The crowd cheered as the two representatives got on the steps; Xidorn stood behind a podium.

“To be honest,” Xidorn admitted, "our teams have only been formed for a short while. Yet I can say with one hundred percent certainty, my team is the better team. The Eagles are filled with people who get along; we’re already a fine-tuned machine.”

“I don’t believe the same can be said for the Fireworks,” Xidorn went on. “Just look at the way an Eagle used their smarts to bring over a third of our team to first place. We’re stronger, not just as players, but also in what makes a team important; teamwork. It’s why I’m happy to be an Eagle.”

The fans cheered. Seraphina took the podium.

“My opponent made a good speech,” Seraphina stated. “I’m not going to lie; I agree with him. My team is more dysfunctional; people are already strategizing, flirting and fighting. Lots of fighting, mostly between girls.”

Everyone stared at her.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Seraphina said, “we can take the Eagles, but they’re all best friends over there; good for them. But if I wanted to watch a show about best friends I’d watch Disney Junior. Reality shows aren’t about tolerance; they’re about scandals, alliances and catfights. It’s how they get ratings. The Eagles themselves admit they don’t have that."

The fans shuffled awkwardly in the audience.

“So vote the Eagles,” Seraphina said, “and enjoy the fascinating story of the people who were winning and kept winning. Or vote the underdogs and give us an equal chance; not like the show has the word ‘drama’ in the title or anything. Ultimately there’s no pressure; it’ll only affect the opening and future ratings of the last ditch attempt to reboot and save your favorite show.”

The audience murmured amongst themselves and started to vote.

Rhonda appeared behind the podium. “The results are in,” the hostess announced, “and the winners are…The Fireworks!”

“Wow,” Xidorn said, “I guess your speech was better.”

“Eh,” Seraphina replied, “or people are just inherently selfish. Your speech was really nice for something on the spot.”

“I meant everything I said in that speech,” Xidorn stated.

“Really?” Seraphina said. “You’re not lying?”

“I don’t believe in lying,” Xidorn replied. “I haven’t told a lie since the third grade.”

“Seriously?” Seraphina said. "I can't say I'm that honest.”

Xidorn laughed. "You aren't afraid to speak your mind; that seems pretty honest to me.”

Xidorn held out his hand and Seraphina pulled back for a second, before reaching forward and shaking it.

“Thanks,” Seraphina replied. “And…uh, good luck.”

“You too,” Xidorn said. “I hope this isn't the last time we compete against each other.”

The Fireworks cheered as Seraphina walked over, staring at the straight shooter, who shot a smile at her before returning to the Eagles.

“You pwned it!” Riley cheered.

"I was nervous at first," Lita said. "But you slayed honey!"

Seraphina blushed. “Whatever…I mean, I couldn’t have done it without you guys anyway. So yeah…go Fireworks.”

“Okay, I said I don't care for people," Seraphina explained. "Yet... I have to admit, some of these people here are nice; on my team and on the other team. I appreciate that, and I want to be nice’s weird.”

As for the next challenge,” Rhonda said, “the only clue I can give is that you should consider weight.”

“What is that suppose to mean?” Easton asked. "Like being heavy or being lightweight?" 

“Wait,” Seraphina whispered, “remember that speech Rhonda made before the challenge; she said we’d need a lot of things.”

“Ooh,” Riley replied, “like we’d need social skills, which we did in the last challenge!”

So that means according to Rhonda’s speech,” Pascal said, “we need strength for the next challenge.”

All the Fireworks turned to Griswold.

Griswold smirked and stepped forward. “I got this!”

“I’ll give it my best,” Aiden stated. "For the Eagles and for our Founding Fathers! And for our founding mothers! And our current congress, judges, senators, DMV workers-"

"Shush," Rhonda hushed and snapped her fingers; interns wheeled out two weight benches.

“You two must lift weights,” Rhonda stated, “and we’ll add ten pounds until someone can’t lift anymore. Jenny and Toby, watch over them."

The two co-hosts nodded.

While they complete that task,” Rhonda said, “We’ll do two labors at once! The first challenge is tricky while the other is a shot in the dark.”

Pascal volunteered for the first challenge, along with Diamonique. Easton and Bethany volunteered for the second.

“Good luck Easton!”  Weston cheered. “You got this!”

Vance flicked Weston’s ear. “Don’t wish him luck, he’s on the opposite team you nitwit!”

“It’s fine,” Bethany said. “It’s his brother, you don’t want your brother to fail. Besides, I don't need luck.”

Rhonda brought Pascal and Diamonique to their task. Rhonda clapped and a portrait of Washington’s skyline appeared behind her, almost popping up out of the ground. 

“See this picture?” Rhonda asked.

Rhonda flicked the picture and it fell to pieces.

“You’ll have to rebuild it from memory out of one thousand pieces,” Rhonda said, as interns laid out a large frame and bags of puzzle pieces.

“What?” Diamonique complained. “I thought this was going to be a trick or treating challenge!”

“Oh well,” Rhonda replied. “Now, go!”

Next, Rhonda took the teams to a makeshift field on a blacktop.

“I hope you like shot put,” Rhonda announced.

Bethany fist pumped. “You know I do!”

“Good,” Rhonda replied, “because for this challenge you’ll have to throw a shot put ball on a target from behind the white line.”

Rhonda pointed several feet away to a target.

“Each of you will try to aim your shot put ball and land in the center,” Rhonda said. “Whoever is closest wins. I’ll give you a moment to figure out your aim.”

“I can do this,” Bethany said to herself. "It's easy, no pressure at all."

“Oops,” Rhonda said, “forgot to mention one little thing; you have to wear blindfolds.”

Interns came behind Easton and Bethany, blindfoldinb the two before they could realize what was happening. 

“Begin!” Rhonda announced.

Easton spun and tossed his ball while Bethany stepped back and released hers.


“Did I hit it?” Easton asked. “Did I hit it?”

“You hit something,” Riley replied.

“More like someone,” Seraphina said.

Easton removed his blindfold and cringed; Ness had taken a shot put to the face. The jinx laid fallen on the ground. 

“How, how bad is it?” Ness asked.

Ouch,” Bethany said, as she removed her blindfold. “Well…”

You look amazing,” Zipporah stated as she pulled out a hand mirror and handed it to Ness.

Ness's jaw dropped as saw she had a black eye and bloody nose.

“I’m so sorry Ness!" Easton apologized. 

Ness coughed up a little blood. “It’s fine; I was actually expecting at least a bloody lip.”

“Well,” Rhonda said, “Ness’ face is not at the bullseye. However, Bethany’s shot put is!”

Bethany and the others turned to see her shot put was dead center of the target.

“YES!” Bethany cheered. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, er…sorry. Hope you feel better Ness.”

“No really, it’s fine,” Ness replied.

“It was a good try bro,” Weston yelled.

Easton blushed. “Thanks pal…"

Griswold and Aiden rejoined their teams at the next challenge point; Griswold had won to no one’s surprise, as being a football player weightlifting was a daily part of his routine.

Rhonda walked forward, rattling chains.

“These chains are your next clue. We'll be using them for the next challenge…”

Hayden had gotten the Eagles huddled together again.

“Team,” Hayden said, “I think I’m beginning to notice a pattern that's lead me to a theory; all the challenges are based off of Rhonda’s speech, about what would be tested.”

“Gee willikers!” Aiden replied. “Xidorn’s challenge required social skills, mine required strength…"

“That means Diamonique’s challenge requires intelligence,” Kalino stated.

“We’ll focus on that later,” Hayden said. “Right now we know the trick of this challenge.”

“After we’ve lost our lead,” Vance added.

“Sure we’re tied,” Hayden said, “but we still have a chance to turn this around. We aren’t going to give up now when things are looking rough, are we?”

“No sir!” Aiden replied as other Eagles nodded.

“Glad to hear it,” Hayden said. “Now if memory serves this next challenge is a test of courage. Who thinks they can-“

"-Times up!” Rhonda announced. “Let’s start this challenge. Fireworks, whose going for you?”

Ignacio stepped up.

“And for the Eagles?”

Hayden blushed. “It looks like-“


The Eagles parted and shook in fear; Cynthia stepped forward.

“I’m already scared,” Ignacio whispered.

Rhonda gave out a hoarse laugh and squirmed. “For this challenge, you'll enter a coffin. We’ll chain your coffins together and shut out all light. Inside the coffin is a red button; press it and you’ll be able to leave the coffin but lose the challenge. Though, we’ll give you good incentive to want to leave…”

The two laid back and fell in the wooden coffins. The lid was closed down tight and chained together.

“Sure it’s dark,” Ignacio said to himself, “and as humans we have an instinctive phobia of darkness; the darkness contains unknown threats. However, I know what’s in the interior of this space.”

Suddenly the coffin jolted up.

“Though I don’t know about the exterior,” Ignacio admitted.

Ignacio began to tip left and right.


Ignacio gulped. "Snakes. I hate snakes.”

Ignacio shivered as a snake crawled up his pants leg, while another moved down his shirt.

“They most have stored these reptiles in a undisclosed compartment,” Ignacio said. “Still, no reason to freak out.”


Ignacio slammed the button at the animalistic screams. The model shifted down. As soon as Ignacio heard the chains removed, he sprung out and removed his shirt and shook out the snake, revealing his pecs that glistened with sweat.

Most of the newcomers stared. Hayden blushed and turned his head, Frannie panted, Xidorn and Riley drooled a little bit while Rhonda drooled puddles.

“Dude, you’re so hot,” Easton said.

Ignacio blushed and threw back on his shirt, igniting several ‘awws’ from the contestants. Ignacio turned to see a crane behind the coffins.

The Eagles win the challenge,” Rhonda announced, wiping some of her drool on her sleeve.

“Cynthia,” Melissa called, “Cynthia, are you okay in there?”

“S…sorry everyone,” Igancio stated. “I…uh…I…the slicing sounds just freaked me out too much and I…uh…yeah.”

“Slicing sounds?” Rhonda asked. “We didn’t add any sound effects.”

Melissa pried open Cynthia’s coffin and screamed as cut up pieces of a snake splattered out. Cythina stood expressionless and covered in blood, holding the other snake by the neck next to her knife. She froze for a second, before slicing its head off.

“Oh my,” Melissa said. “Cynthia you…you…you accidentally split snake blood on your nice shirt, poor dear. I saw a washroom back at the hotel. I’d be happy to clean them up when we get back."

Cynthia dangled the snake’s corpse and nodded.

“I feel awful about the challenge,” Ignacio admitted. “I feel worse I couldn’t apologize right. Everyone was just staring at me…. Whenever I take off my shirt, or anything like that, most people flip out. My manager says it’s a ‘power’ I have, as though looking at me can drive people insane. Of course that’s scientifically impossible. It just feels like it sometimes. The worst part is I’m very afraid of attention…and I am aware of the irony of that statement.”

Cynthia dropped the snake corpse on the confessional’s camera.

Meanwhile, Pascal quickly slid puzzle pieces in his frame.

“Yippie Skippy! That makes seven hundred pieces solved!” Pascal cheered.

“Great job,” Diamonique said as she turned a page in a magazine.

“I can do it!” Pascal said.

“I believe in you,” Diamonqiue yawned.

“Thanks!” Pascal replied. “I’m going to win this thing!”

“Well…I’m not so sure about that,” Diamonique said.

Pascal froze, then turned to Diamonique, whose puzzle was complete.

“What but…you and how but…when?” Pascal asked.

“The interns aren’t sure if it took two minutes or one,” Diamonique replied. “I would’ve told you but you were really focused so…I didn’t want to be rude.”

Pascal’s smiled widely as his eye twitched.

“Yeah, I won the puzzle,” Diamonqiue stated. “I actually have an IQ of 180, at least according to the last time I took the test. My personal psychologist says despite my poor memory, I still could be able to do sciencey stuff and go to Harvard and junk if I worked harder, but working hard is like…hard work.”

Ness and Frannie stood on platforms raised high in the air. The platforms connected to another raised platform by a thin wire. Under the platforms were a net.

“Wait, why I am here?” Ness said.

“That is the age old question,” Frannie stated, “but the meaning of life we can only determine for ourselves.”

“No, I meant what am I doing here,” Ness said.

“Oh,” Frannie replied, “well when a mommy and daddy love each other very much, or are bored, they…”

“No time for that,” Rhonda yelled. “First one to the end wins!”

Frannie flipped out on to the wire. Ness looked down and gulped. She stepped out onto the wire…that snapped and sent her plummeting.

“What?” Rhonda asked. “That wire could hold an elephant!”

“That’s not fair,” Easton said, “her equipment is faulty. Ness should be given a do-over!”

“Cool with me,” Frannie stated.

“Alright, let’s do this again,” Rhonda stated.

Soon, the two girls started over. As Ness started out on the wire, a crow flew up to her and landed on her hair.

“Oh,” Ness said, “what a sweet little birdie.”

Suddenly, a murder of crows swarmed Ness. They lifted her up and off the wire.

“You want another do-over?” Frannie asked.

“Ahhhh!” Ness screamed. “There pecking out my eyes! HELP!”

"Is that a yes?” Frannie asked.

So, they started again. As Ness walked out onto the platform, two paper airplanes flew into her eyes and knocked her off…

They started again. Ness stepped out, when a falling air conditioner knocked her on the head and off the wire…

They started again. Suddenly, a gorilla that escaped from the zoo jumped onto the wire, grabbed Ness and started to climb the nearest building…

They started again. Ness shook but dipped her toe out on to the wire. She froze, and looked around for a minute.

“Phew,” Ness sighed.

The platform then collapsed under her.

“We did the challenge thirteen times before Frannie got to the end,” Ness said. "I still don't know why I was-"

Suddenly, the murder of crows busted into the confessional and attacked Ness again. "Ahhhhh! Ahhh!"

At the same time, Zipporah and Kalino worked on a separate task.

“You two had to draw a poster that showed why your team was amazing,” Rhonda said. “Let’s see what you got Kalino.”

Kalino turned his poster around; He drew his team riding on Penguins and dressed in gold.

"We were suppose to be riding Eagles but I can only draw penguins," Kalino stated. "I also used smelly markers, with each smell symbolizing something different. We smell like victory...and lemon."

“Nice,” Rhonda said, “expect…why do I have a giraffe’s neck!?”

"I was trying to capture the spirit of your neck,” Kalino replied.

Rhonda frowned. “Zipporah.”

Zipporah revealed her poster; in it several people exploded into bloody chunks.

“I took a symbolic approach with my art,” Zipporah stated. “Here all of the world’s evils have exploded in a firework, symbolizing they are their own downfall; dictators, politicians, criminals, celebrities, my parents, etc. But the fireworks are fizzled, signifying the lack of justice in the real world.”

“Wait,” Rhonda said, “Am I one of those people blowing up?”

“That person is a symbol of television and media’s false, perpetuating views,” Zipporah replied. “Any similarities to an actual person is completely coincidental.”

“My name is written next to it!” Rhonda shouted.

"It’s called taking artistic liberties,” Zipporah said.

“While Zipporah’s work is horribly disturbing,” Rhonda said, “I enjoy the symbolism. So the Fireworks win.”

Zipporah sighed, “Yay, a pointless victory."

At the next challenge, the newcomers gathered outside of a wrestling ring where a cage was suspended in the air.

“I’ll be honest about this one,” Rhonda said. “It’s a steel cage match! First one to knock their opponent unconscious wins! Lets get ready to rumble!”

The Eagles huddled together.

“Dang,” Bethany said, “if I’d have known we’d wrestle in a cage, I would have waited for this challenge.”

“Nonsense,” Vance stated, “that’s plum ridiculous.”

“What?” Bethany replied. “Why?”

“It’s not a lady’s place to fight,” Vance said. “You’d chip a nail."

Bethany rolled her eyes. "Whatever, I don't care to argue with you now." 

"I'm starting to regret my alliance with Yosemite Sam here," Bethany stated. "He's not much of a good guy..."

“We'll discuss outdated gender roles with you later,” Hayden said. “Does anyone have wrestling experience?”

“Well shoot,” Vance said, “I uh…wrestled hogs all the time on the… farm I totally lived at. Plus, I ride bulls for a living. I’ll do it.”

The Fireworks huddled together as well.

“I got this!” Lita stated. “I'm a boxer." 

"Really?" Seraphina asked. 

Mmhmm," Lita stated. "I'm more than just a pretty face. They call me Lightning Lita, because one quick strike from my right hook, and it is lights out baby!" 

"Nice," Riley complimented. "I wanted to give it a try though. I’m on the wrestling team. Rock, paper, scissors you for it?”

Lita smirked. "Sounds fair." 

“Neither of you should do it,” Tessa stated. “First off it’s not lady-like behavior.”

“Some would say the same about participating in any sport,” Seraphina retorted. “Like I don’t know, the Olympics?”

“That’s completely different,” Tessa replied. “Some sports are male and female, and some are divided by gender; aren't you worried they'll likely send in a male contestant, who is likely physically bigger than you? 

“I beat dudes all the time,” Riley replied, “But Lita papered my rock, so she’s going to win this one.”

“You know it!” Lita said, as she stepped into the cage.

Vance raised his eyebrow as the cage rose in the air.

“Go!” Rhonda shouted.

“I’d just like to state,” Tessa announced, “That I do not condone this act and believe we shouldn’t even be participating in this.”

“I’d just like to state,” Seraphina mocked, “That no one gives a **** Tessa.”

“This ain't right,” Vance said. "I'm not gonna fight no girl!" 

“Good,” Lita replied, “then this will be easy.”

Lita charged forward and tackled Vance into the cage's bars, then grabbed and twisted his arm.

“Agh!” Vance grunted, as he pushed Lita off. “Fine then, I’ll fight ya!”

“Prove it cowboy!” Lita teased.

Vance charged forward…and ran right into Lita’s fist, hitting him on the ground. He recoiled in pain as Lita backed up, ran forward, jumped and…

“Elbow drop!” Lita screamed.

“Have mercy,” Vance whimpered.

After dropping him, Lita put Vance in a chokehold. “WOO! Sorry honey, but mama needs this win.”

Lita released Vance…before she knocked him out with a punch from her right fist.

The Fireworks cheered as Lita blew kisses.

“You weren’t kidding about that right hook,” Riley cheered.

“Ooh,” Xidorn winced, “you think Vance is okay?”

Bethany smirked. “I think he chipped a nail.”

Eventually, once Vance regained consciousness, the team’s gathered outside of a maze that the interns had constructed.

“First, you have to select someone to compete in the next challenge, no clues,” Rhonda said, “At the same time, someone will do the next trial with our interns’ project.”

“It’s the speed challenge,” Griswold recalled.

“Me and my brother are on the track team,” Easton said. “He’ll probably compete for his team.”

“Don’t worry dude,” Griswold said. “I’m sure your bro will be fine.”

“I might as well do it,” Tessa stated, “part of my Olympic training involves distance running and sprints.”

“Sounds good, I can do that maze then,” Riley said. 

Weston and Tessa were chosen for the first challenge and lead away. Hayden and Riley stepped up for the next challenge.

“Our interns have finished the maze,” Rhonda said. “However, you two won’t be going in. Instead, you’ll be standing on platforms and giving commands via headset to Jenny or Toby, who’ll be in the maze blindfolded. First to get their person out, wins.”

Hayden and Riley took their places and began.

“Alright Jenny,” Hayden said, “take a right.”

“Just one question,” Jenny said, “which way is right again?”

“Well,” Hayden said. “turn…turn…there go forward! Great job. Now turn again…”

“You’re doing good man,” Riley said. “Now hold on, I need to make my fingers into Ls to know my left or right. You ever to do that…”

“Straight forward for about teen feet till you get to a wall,” Hayden said, “so be careful.”

“I’ve actually explored a lot of mazes,” Jenny said. “Usually I-“

“-Jenny I’d love to talk with you,” Hayden said, “maybe schedule a psych session. But I need to win this challenge, so let’s talk later, I promise. Now turn…”

“…And that’s how I crashed my moped,” Riley said. “You don’t talk much Toby, what’s your story?”

“I don’t care about anything,” Toby replied.

“That’s chill brotato chip,” Riley stated. “There’s a lot of stress in the world, gives people a heart attack everyday.”

“Hayden has won!” Rhonda announced.

“Whoops,” Riley said.

Hayden hugged Jenny. “Thank you Jenny, you did wonderful.”

“I always do,” Jenny replied.

The newcomers gathered outside of the Lincoln Memorial again. Tessa and Weston walked in.

“I’m sorry you guys,” Weston said. “It was close…but she beat me in the last second.”

“Don't sweat it Weston,” Bethany said. “You did your best.”

“Exactly,” Hayden said, “and we appreciate it; that’s all we can ask for.”

Weston nodded, but turned his head to the Fireworks, seeing his brother high-five Griswold.

“Now it’s time for the final event,” Rhonda said. “The Eagles lead by a point, but this event could decide it. You’ve all realized the trick behind these challenges, so you know this is an endurance event. Only one person on each team hasn’t gone…”

“That’s me,” Melissa stated, stepping forward. 

“Wait, whose are last member?” Ness asked.

“I am,” that one guy said.

“Oh hey man, when did you get here?” Griswold asked.

“I’ve been here the whole time,” Jonas Jasper said.

“Jenny, Toby,” Rhonda said. “Would you care to show them what the endurance test is?”

Jenny snickered as the interns carried over covered bowls and Toby pulled out a blender.

“We’ve prepared a special recipe for you,” Jenny said. “A special juice containing locally grown cockroaches, organic pigeon poop, old man sweat, just born maggots…and black licorice!”

The newcomers gasped in horror.

Weston fainted on Cynthia. “Black licorice; The horror! Won’t someone think of the children!”

“I actually really like black licorice,” Ness said.

Jenny pressed a button on the blender. “Each turn, you’ll drink a small glass of this. Person who throws up or gives up first loses.”

“You can do this Melissa,” Aiden cheered.

Melissa held back a gag. “I’m sorry, I’ll try but I don’t have a strong stomach.”

“How’s your stomach dude?” Griswold asked.

“Average,” Jasper replied.

Toby sat out little glasses as Jenny poured out the concoction.

Jasper stared at Melissa as he suddenly chugged a whole glass. He twitched but slammed the glass on the table.

“Tasty,” Jasper coughed.

Melissa’s eyes grew wide as she ran over to a trashcan and heaved in it.

The Fireworks cheered and whooped.

“With that,” Rhonda said. “we have…a tie; six wins for the Fireworks, five for the Eagles plus their point lead.”

“So now what?” Seraphina asked.

“Now,” Rhonda replied, “you’ll do the final test."

"Final test?" Ignacio asked.

"Don’t you remember the last thing I mentioned in that speech?" Rhonda asked. "Teamwork. This will be a water challenge, cause we need to show some skin, so we went through your luggage and stole your swimsuits…it’s not as creepy as it sounds. Oh, and by the way Ness; we were able to find your stuff.”

Ness gasped and nearly broke down into tears as Lita patted her on the back.

Ness looked down towards the floor. “I’ve brought disaster as soon as I was born… I’m bad luck. Yet I’m chosen to be on one of the most popular reality shows of all time? I thought my luck might change if I was here. And it is; Total Drama might just be my good luck charm.”

All the newcomers changed into their swimsuits, except for…

“Kalino!” Rhonda shouted. “Why are you naked?”

Kalino shrugged, not even bothering to cover up. “It took so much offer to get my clothes off, imagine how much it would take to put more on.”

“Whatever,” Rhonda sighed. “For the final challenge, you and your team will race back to the hotel. You can take a greased toboggan down a giant slip and slide maze! You’ll..."

"Pardon, but how will we use a toboggan?" Ignacio asked. "I mean Washington is not on a hill. Without an incline, we have no gravity to propel the tobggan and-"

Ignacio blushed and froze when he noticed all the looks on him. 

Rhonda blinked. "Uh...well, that's why Toby is going to glue wheels on it. And you'll use sticks to push it through the slip and slide."

Toby shook his head and sighed as walked off. 

Rhonda cleared her throat. "Anyway, you'll have to navigate from the Lincoln Memorial all the way to the finish line back at the hotel. However you won’t be going alone…”

Jenny walked over to the Eagles carrying a box as Toby did the same for the Fireworks.

Hayden opened the box. A featherless eagle chick popped its head out and screeched. Riley found an old, damaged firework in her team’s box.

“Poor baby,” Melissa said, as she took the eagle chick into her hands and nuzzled it.

“Each team must cross the finish line with their team’s mascot,” Rhonda clarified. “Now…GO!”

The teams dashed off.

“Aiden stand on the back of the toboggan,” Hayden stated. “You know Washington best, you’ll be our guide.”

Aiden saluted as the Eagles took off.

“Hurry up, we’re losing!” Tessa yelled as the Fireworks started.

“Oops I forgot to mention the obstacles on the course,” Rhonda snickered with her co-hosts.

The Eagles dashed down the streets, turning street corners with rapid success. 

“Nice job everyone,” Hayden stated. 

“Woo!” Bethany cheered, high-fiving Xidorn. “We are all killing it!”

“We aren’t too far off,” Aiden said. “In five or ten minutes we’ll be there!”

The Fireworks however…

“We’re slowing down!” Pascal announced as the Fireworks tilted from side to side.

“Thanks captain obvious,” Tessa replied, nearly losing her stick. 

“Wait, haven’t we pasted Independence Avenue already?” Ness asked.

“Three times actually,” Zipporah said.

At the same time, the Eagles passed another street corner.

“We’re faster than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking competition!” Vance yelled.

“Is that fast?” Xidorn asked.

“Oh jeepers,” Aiden yelled, “a brick wall straight ahead!”


The Eagles titled left and cheered as they swerved away from the wall.

As for the Fireworks…

“Brick wall!” Seraphina shouted. “We need to tilt-“



The Fireworks tilted…and crashed into the wall first face.

“Wow,” Zipporah said spinning, “our teamwork is so good we can stir into a wall. Go Fireworks.”

Seraphina looked up to see a street sign that read Independence Avenue.

“Ugh!” Seraphina sighed. “That’s it, taxi!”

“What are you doing?” Tessa asked.

“Rhonda said we could use the slip and slide,” Seraphina answered as she hailed a taxi. “Not that we have to. Cabbie, take us to the Pentagon Hotel.”

“And step on it please!” Pascal shouted as he entered the taxi.

Like their namesake, the Eagles soared down the street.

“I see it!” Melissa cheered. “The hotel is just down this hill!”

“And them darn Fireworks ain’t nowhere to be seen,” Vance added.


“Is that taxi riding us?” Xidorn asked.

In the taxi, the Fireworks were crammed into the back.

“Oh driver,” Pascal said, “could you pretty, pretty, please run those children off the road? Please, with cinnamon and love on top?”

The taxi rammed into the toboggan.

“What the ****!” Xidorn shouted. “It’s the Fireworks! They can’t do that…can they?”

Bethany smirked. “Everybody, hold your ground and don’t let them pass; if they want to play rough, we’ll play rough! Go Eagles!”

“Go Eagles!” the team shouted as they swerved to the left and blocked the taxi.

Jenny, Toby and Rhonda watched from the finish line.

“I say we give this race an explosive ending,” Jenny chuckled as she pressed a red button.

“Right!” Hayden yelled, as the Eagles blocked the taxi again.


Aiden’s eyes grew wide. “Um, does anyone else hear that…”

Tessa rolled down the window and stuck out her arm as the taxi tried to butt its way next to the sled.

“Yeah,” Frannie replied. “It sounds like…”

An explosion went off, causing both teams to spin out of control and the taxi to lite on fire. Tessa grabbed Melissa’s pigtail, yanking it as the explosion went off and causing the sweetheart to drop her team’s mascot…right before they crossed the finish line.

The taxi crossed the finish line right after…and crashed into the side of the building.

“We did it!” Weston cheered.

“If by it you mean lose,” Jenny said. “Then yes you did.”

“Since the Eagles didn’t carry their mascot across the finish line,” Rhonda said, “the Fireworks win by default!”

Riley was the last one to stumble out of the taxi, still in the wall. “Woo! Default is the best fault to have.”

Griswold’s eyes grew wide. “Riley, where is the firew-“

Suddenly, the firework went off and the taxi blew up into a smoldering heap.

“Eh,” Rhonda said, “we’ll fix it later.”

“This isn’t fair!” Xidon stated. “They took a taxi!”

Rhonda beamed. “I was hoping someone would catch my loophole! Nice Fireworks.”

Xidorn frowned. “I saw Tessa attack Melissa and force the eagle chick out of her hands.”

“There wasn’t a rule against it,” Tessa stated as she swatted her ponytail in Xidorn's face.

“This is true,” Rhonda said. “There was a rule against not having your mascot however.”

Hayden grabbed Xidorn’s shoulder. “Give it up bud, her mind is set; we’re voting off someone tonight."

Jenny smirked. “Uh oh Hayden…”

If you remember,” Rhonda said, “I said the winners of the first challenge get an extra special reward!”

“Oh goody goody good!” Pascal cheered.

“Aw jeez, they get that while we vote off one of our own,” Aiden sighed.

“Not exactly,” Rhonda said, “you see the Fireworks’ reward is…they’ll vote off the first member of your team tonight!”

A few of the Eagles (and Fireworks) gasped.

“What?” Xidorn said. “That’s completely unfair!”

“Sorry, those are the breaks kid,” Rhonda replied. “We’ll vote in two hours; Fireworks I’d discuss this amongst yourselves and Eagles…it wouldn’t be a bad idea pack your bags, just in case.”

The Eagles were silent and didn’t move as the Fireworks left, no longer cheering. 

Diamonique sat down for a meal in the cafeteria and noticed Frannie biting her lemur's nails.

“Aren't you worried?” Frannie asked.

“Nah, this food seems edible enough,” Diamonique replied.

“I meant about the votes,” Frannie said. “We both won our challenges…we could be the first ones voted out.”

“It’s not us Frannie,” Diamonique replied. “They’ll go for the more obvious type, the ones that look stronger than us. We’re too silly.”

“Huh…I guess that’s another perk of being a comedic relief character,” Frannie said.

“Okay, sure,” Diamonique said. “On the other hand, that’s the same reason we could be targeted at a future vote. People will underestimate us.”

“You think?” Frannie asked.

They will me at least,” Diamonique replied. “Most people have my whole life.”

“So what should we do?” Frannie asked.

“We got to try and show our stuff at challenges, “ Diamonique said. “And we need to make friends, form alliances, get people to like us, trust us, then vote with us.”

“Well,” Frannie said, “I’m happy to know there is someone I can trust here.”

Diamonique smiled. “Right back at ya’ girl.”

The Fireworks gathered together in Lita, Ness and Seraphina’s room.

“Where’s Tessa?” Easton asked.

“Dudette refused to meet in this room,” Riley sighed.

“I’m kind of uncomfortable about this whole thing,” Griswold admitted. “Feels…really mean.”

“Maybe we should just ask the Eagles who’d they vote for,” Ness suggested.

“You guys, we have a golden goose right here,” Pascal stated. “This is our reward that we earned and we need to use it! It’s part of the game.”

“I kind of agree with Pascal,” Seraphina admitted. “If we hadn’t gotten lucky the Eagles would be doing the same to us. They nearly beat us. We need to make them weaker.”

Pascal nodded. “Whose the first person on the Eagles you think of when you think of a threat?”

Everyone was quiet for a second.

“Bethany,” Easton admitted.

“What?” Griswold stated.

"She is a big physical threat,” Ignacio said.

“But she saved me from the scarabs!” Ness defended. “She doesn’t deserve that…”

“My first thought was Hayden,” Seraphina admitted. “He’s become their leader after all.”

“And that Brofessor’s strong too,” Riley added.

“Are we not going to mention Cynthia?” Lita asked. “She killed at the challenge…literally. I don’t think I’d want to go against her in a challenge…or even just keep her around long.”

“Even I find her eerie,” Zipporah admitted.

“Everyone,” Pascal said, “We all don’t have to write down the same name, but I think we all know who needs to go…”

Xidorn trekked down the hall. He stopped when he heard crying. He turned and opened a closet to find Bethany.

“Hey,” Xidorn said, “you okay?”

Bethany looked away, wiping her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. I’m sorry.”

“What do you have to be sorry about?” Xidorn replied.

“I don’t know,” Bethany replied. “I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. My mom and dad always say only losers cry.”

“Then I’m a pretty big loser,” Xidorn replied. “I cry all the time; heck every time I see a rainbow I cry.”

Bethany giggled. “It’s just…I should have tried harder out there today.”

“You tried your best,” Xidorn said. 

"My best wasn’t good enough,” Bethany said. “I’m worried…it could be me going home.”

“You don’t deserve to go home,” Xidorn said. “I…I don’t want you to go home. I know I can’t change it, but I honestly don’t believe it will be you.”

“You never lie,” Bethany replied.

“Exactly,” Xidorn said.

Bethany sighed and sat down. “It’s just…to be the first one out…I feel like you can never live that down. My parents wouldn’t let me forget it…”

“What is up with your parents?” Xidorn asked, sitting next to her. “I’m sorry but to be honest they’re bugging me.”

“Okay,” Bethany said. “Don’t tell anyone but the truth is…my entire family are professional athletes.”

"All of them?” Xidorn asked.

Bethany nodded. “My mom’s a champion tennis player, my brother’s on an NFL team and my dad is a Harlem Globetrotter. They put a lot of pressure on me; they don’t even think shot put is a real sport!”

“Have they lifted one of those things?” Xidorn replied.

Bethany laughed. “Psh, not enough. They just expect first place out of me…and I might get last.”

Xidorn hugged Bethany. “I think you’re a winner.”

Bethany sniffed. “Thanks.”

At the same time, Aiden and Hayden were unpacking in their rooms.

“I’m worried,” Aiden admitted.

“Hey,” Hayden replied, “don’t be. You’re going to be just fine pal.”

“I think I will,” Aiden said. “I mean I lost the challenge. I’m worried about you.”

Hayden froze. “Me? You think I’d be up for elimination?”

“If I had to vote one of us off,” Aiden said, “you’d be high on the list.”

Hayden gulped, but shook himself. “Hey, I’ll be fine bud. Let’s not waste time worrying about it; it’s out of here hands now. We got to stay strong team, keep our chins up. Can you do that?”

Aiden smiled and nodded. “Will do sir!”

Aiden dashed off as Hayden watched and smiled. But as soon as Aiden was gone, Hayden sighed and fell on the bed. "It might actually be me..."

In Melissa and Cynthia’s room, Cynthia polished her knives as Melissa entered carrying clothes.

“You’re clothes are all nice and tidy,” Melissa said.

Cynthia nodded, not looking up.

Melissa set them on a dresser. She looked in the mirror, sighing at her reflection. 

Cynthia sat her knives down.

“I understand we have to vote someone off," Melissa said, "but this is different. At least we had the power to make a choice if we were voting. Now it could be someone who doesn’t deserve it, like Aiden or Hayden or Xidorn or Bethany or Weston or Diamonique or Vance or Frannie or Kalino or…”

Cynthia stared.

“Everyone tried today,” Melissa replied. “It’s not fair for them to go. But I was deadweight out there. Maybe I should just volunteer to leave.”

“You’re being an idiot,” Cynthia said. “You tried too. Sometimes, people lose.”

“You're right Cynthia,” Melissa replied. “I’m going to do a little baking. Care for anything?”

Cynthia shook her head, and began sharpening her knives again.

“Okay,” Melissa replied. “And…thanks for listening Cynthia.”

Cynthia didn’t look up from her knifes.

“It could be me tonight,” Bethany said. “I do have my alliance though. I talked to Pascal who said he was steering the vote away from me. I can’t give up; I’m not a quitter. I’ve just got to keep my head held high.”

“Aiden is right,” Hayden said, “I might be going home tonight; which would suck. The other team hardly knows me…not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. I hope if I do go my siblings aren't watching, I'd be so embarrassed to have their older brother be first out."

Cynthia stabbed a knife in the wall, turned to the camera…and then the feed went to static.

All the newcomers followed Rhonda inside a new room of the hotel.

“Welcome everyone to the Hotel’s…Haunted Internet Café!”

They stepped into a well-lit, average looking Internet Café.

"Yeah…it was new edition,” Rhonda admitted. “Still, you don’t want to be here, because here is where our elimination ceremonies take place.”

Rhonda pointed to a booth in the corner.

“Inside the voting booth in the corner,” Rhonda explained, “you’ll use the computer and select the Total Drama Genesis application. “

Zipporah frowned.

You’ll be uploaded to your page,” Rhonda continued, “where you’ll see a section marked ‘teammates'. You’ll click on the icon of the person you want to cast a vote against. If their icon is ‘gold’ however, then their ‘status’ is invincible, and their icon is not clickable, meaning they’ve won invincibility.”

“This all sounds like a product tie-in,” Zipporah stated.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Rhonda replied. “Unrelated, for viewers at home you can go online and buy your own version as an app for your smartphone!”

“However you turds can save yourself even if you don’t have invincibility,” Jenny teased.

Rhonda nodded. “Hidden in this hotel are three flash drives, which you can connect to the computer before votes are cast. This can allow you to grant ‘secret immunity’ to someone, including yourself, and cancel out all their votes.”

“The first two are team exclusive,” Toby explained, “red for the Fireworks and blue for the Eagles. Only a member from that team can use that flash drive at an elimination ceremony.”

“But,” Rhonda said, “the golden flash drive can be used by anyone at any elimination ceremony! It’s the ultimate lifesaver and yet the most well hidden of all the flash drives! It may never, ever even be found…”

Kalino chuckled as he held up the golden flash drive. “Sure Rhonda, sure.”

For this elimination ceremony, all Fireworks will be able to vote for the Eagles,” Rhonda explained. “ Now, let’s get to it.”

The Fireworks nodded, and one by one went into the booth...

Zipporah cast her vote for Cynthia. “It's not that I'm scared of you or anything, you're just good in challenges. ...don't tell Cynthia I said that.”

Riley cast her vote for Hayden. “Sorry man, I’m sure your cool. You have my respect for beating me in that challenge. Heck, if you made it far you'd seem like someone I'd want to win. Which is why I’m voting for you now. See ya Broda.”

Easton cast his vote for Bethany. “You’re an obvious threat. That's all there is to it. Sorry it has to be this way.”

Seraphina cast her vote. “As long as it isn’t me.”

Pascal cast his vote. “ You’re simply to big a threat to myself and I can’t have you stopping my plans for winning. I won't sugar coat it; I’m enjoying I’ll be able to make you the first one sent home. Better luck next time...if they ever invite you back.”

“All the votes have been cast,” Rhonda announced from behind a podium. “When I call your name, you will receive a cup of coffee, signifying your safety…for now. The person who does not get a coffee will become that most pathetic of God’s creatures: the very first to be eliminated from an elimination game show. You will then exit through the Revolving Doors of Shame, and leave on the Public Transportation of Losers. ”

The Eagles eyed the Fireworks, who sat and looked the other way.

“The first coffee goes to…Diamonique.”

Diamonique smirked and caught her cup.

“Kalino. Frannie. Weston.”

The three smiled; Weston winked at his brother.


Only Melissa failed to smile at catching her coffee.


Aiden sighed.

“The rest of you all received votes,” Rhonda announced. “Bethany, you’re a physically strong and have friends on both teams. Hayden, you’ve taken the leadership position easily. And Cynthia…”

Cynthia stared.

Rhonda yelped. “Um…yeah. However, one of you received the majority of the votes. The last two coffee cups go to…”

“…Cynthia and Hayden. Bethany, you’re out.”

Bethany stood up and sighed. “Good luck you guys; Go Eagles.”

Not looking back, she exited the Revolving Doors of Shame.

Rhonda turned to the twenty-one newcomers, all who still had a shot. "I suggest you all get a goodnight’s rest; it only gets harder from here.”

Chapter 4 Sweet Dreams (Aren't Made Of This)

Melissa slumped into her room. Cynthia was nowhere to be found.

“Maybe some reading will cheer me up,” Melissa said. 

She approached the bookshelf. “Let’s see…Sweeny Todd, Hannibal Rising, To Serve Man…ooh a cookbook!”

Melissa removed the book…and the bookshelf slid away to reveal a secret passage.

“How thoughtful!” Melissa exclaimed as she entered the passage.

Around midnight, Pascal exited his room and tiptoed down the hallway. 

“Now if I were a flash drive where would I hide?” he whispered.

Pascal turned towards a potted plant. He smirked digging in the hands into the dirt.


He turned around to see Seraphina.

“Oh Seraphina,” Pascal said, “how funny to see you here…at the hotel we’re all staying at. Wait, what are you doing up?”

“I can't sleep,” Seraphina replied. “I thought a walk might help. What are you doing?”

“Me?” Pascal asked. “I…had to tinkle! Yeah, but Kalino fell asleep in the bathroom so I used the bathroom downstairs. And then I dropped my contact…in this pot. Oh look there it is!”

Pascal slapped some dirt against face.

“Okie dokie,” Pascal replied. “Well I better go catch some Zs. Great work today, so glad we’re teammates, bye!”

Pascal dashed off as Seraphina raised an eyebrow. She walked down to another floor but stopped when she heard a scream.

She turned to see Xidorn watching an old movie in a TV room. She noticed hair dye sitting out on a table.

“Hey,” Seraphina said. “You changing hair colors?”

“Oh hey,” Xidorn said, “Yeah, thought I might add some red streaks to my hair.”

“I don’t know," Seraphina said. "I kind of like you better as a bluehead. Why red?"

“For Bethany.”


“I know it seems silly,” Xidorn said, “but she was my friend. I don’t think she deserved to be first out.”

Seraphina looked to the ground. “I’m sorry she went home.”

“I don’t blame you guys,” Xidorn admitted. “It’s the nature of reality shows.”

“When you say it like that…then why are you here?” Seraphina asked.

"I want to try and win being an honest and nice person," Xidorn admitted. "It's kind of like life; its going to throw the worst it can at me, but I can still try to be the best person I can be. I might have to fight, but its worth fighting for. You know?”

“I guess I don’t think of life like that,” Seraphina replied.

A wolf howled on the TV.

“So,” Seraphina said, “what are you watching?”

Werewolf Shotgun Wedding,” Xidorn replied. “It’s this old monster movie about a werewolf who tries to find a bride. The ending is a twist, but I won’t spoil-“

“-Oh yeah,” Seraphina said, “when the werewolf marries the heroine she turns into an even greater monster; a naggy wife.”

“You’ve seen it?” Xidorn asked.

“I enjoy Z-movies,” Seraphina replied. “What about you?”

“I love them!” Xidorn said. “It's fascinating to see what directors try to do with a limited budget. These movies have a place in history too, they're the inspiration for a lot of modern directors like Guillermo Del Toro and Quentin Tarantino.”

Seraphina laughed. “I just like hammy actors and bad stunts.”

“You want to watch it with me?” Xidorn asked.

Seraphina nodded and sat next to him on the couch.

The next morning, Lita, Ness, Vance, Aiden, Hayden and Griswold walked to the mess hall.

“Ooh,” Ness exclaimed, “what is this wonderful smell?”

“Smells like pastries,” Griswold said.

“I wouldn’t mind that,” Lita admitted.

Griswold chuckled. “I was just about to say the same thing.”

Lita winked. “Great minds think alike.”

Griswold blushed.

“Good morning everyone!” Melissa greeted from the serving hatch. “I hope you all had dreams as sweet as you are.”

“Melissa?” Aiden asked. “What are you doing in the kitchen?”

“The funniest thing happened,” Melissa explained. “I discovered secret passage from my room to the kitchen. I even got to take a cute little detour through an abandoned meat locker.”

“So why are you baking?” Hayden asked.

“Don’t complain!” Vance said as he ate cake with his bare hands.

“I was a bit sad after that elimination ceremony last night,” Melissa admitted. “Baking helps me feel better, so I did a little bit last night.”

Aiden opened the door to the kitchen, which released a tidal wave of pastries that drowned the contestants.

Melissa blushed. “Maybe more than a little. I was thinking I’d hand out most of them to the poor and homeless today.”

Vance doggy paddled through the pool of pastries. “Eh, they could buy their own desserts.”

A timer dinged.

Melissa clapped. “Ooh, my newest treats are done. Would you all care to try some?”

They all nodded. Melissa returned with a tray of cupcakes.

“I made pupcakes,” Melissa said. “They’re cupcakes that look like puppies.”

“I’ll try a chocolate,” Aiden stated.

“Those are the chocolate labradoodles,” Melissa explained.

“I’ll take a fluffy one,” Ness said.

“Those are walnut wire-poos,” Melissa said. “You aren’t allergic to walnuts, are you?”

“Not that I know of,” Ness replied as she bit in to the cupcake.

Five minutes later, Ness laid in a stretcher that was loaded into an ambulance by emergency workers.

“I guess I am allergic to walnuts,” Ness wheezed as she burst into more hives.

Lita entered the back of the ambulance. “I’ll go with you Ness, in case you need any help.”

“I’m so, so sorry Ness!” Melissa said as the ambulance drove off.

“Don’t put yourself down Melissa,” Aiden said. “I was thinking I could help you pack the pastries. We could give them out together while I gave you a tour of Washington.”

Melissa yawned. “Oh that’d be splendid. I’d love to if its not too much trouble.”

“Not in the least,” Aiden replied.

“Sorry bud,” Hayden said, “but your play date will have to wait. Melissa's been baking all night, haven’t you?”

Melissa nodded.

“You know sleep deprivation is very serious,” Hayden stated. “Not to mention you’re still growing at your age. You need at least eight hours of rapid eye movement sleep.”

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to take a nap,” Melissa said.

Hayden picked Melissa up and threw her over his shoulder. “Come on kid, lets get you tucked in.”

“Thank you for the concern,” Melissa said, “but you don’t have to car-“

“-I’m doing this because I care,” Hayden interrupted. “Now try and get a head start on your sleep.”

Later, Ignacio panted as he ran through the halls of the hotel. Ignacio froze as he came to a dead end. On the wall hung a faded portrait…whose eyes moved and followed Ignacio.

“Ignacio…come out, come out wherever you are!”

The model shook as he tried to open doors, only to find them locked.

"Oh Iggy!” Frannie called from the next hallway over. “You can’t hide, Diamonique has your scent.”

Diamonique sniffed the ground like a bloodhound. “You smell like a dirty ox. It's strangely attractive.”

Ignacio finally opened a door, running inside and locking it behind him.

“We made you something Iggy!” Frannie yelled. “It’s a bell necklace and not at all an attempt to hear your every movement so we can stalk you.”

“Darn,” Diamonique said, “the trail ends cold.”

Ignacio sighed but heard a door open. He turned around to see Riley walking out, topless with her lower half wrapped in a towel. Ignacio turned red and stared.

Riley flashed a peace sign. “S’up dude.”

Ignacio turned away. “I’m so sorry! I…I didn’t…I was-“

“-I heard your fangirls,” Riley replied as she started to dress. “I’d hide too.”

“Thanks,” Ignacio replied, “but I didn’t mean…you without…I’m not a pervert!”

Riley laughed. “Chill Broseph Stalin, its not like I haven’t seen you shirtless. Besides, I figure everybody here has seen boobs, intentional or not.”

Ignacio nodded. “You aren’t wanting-”

“-Nah,” Riley said, “you’re fine don’t get me wrong, but you’re not my usual type. I like my men like I like my energy drinks. Freaky.”

“Okay…” Ignacio replied.

“If you're interested,” Riley said, “me, Gris Bear and the Twinners are going out for some ‘broritos’. You should come.”

“Oh, uh…” Ignacio replied, “that sounds fun, sure.”

Outside in the hallway, Frannie and Diamonique gave up their search and went to the cafeteria as the eyes in the portrait watched them leave…

…Until Frannie back flipped to the portrait and poked the eyes out.

Rhonda recoiled in pain inside a secret room.

“It's rude to stare,” Jenny said, as she and Toby entered.

"Hey,” Rhonda said, “have the ratings come back yet?”

Toby nodded.


“They were fine,” Toby replied.

“Fine?” Rhonda asked. “We had an hour and a half premiere of the return of a legendary television show, and the ratings are…fine?”

“Yeah, what part didn’t you understand?” Toby asked.

Rhonda slumped in her chair. “What now?”

“Give up and admit we’ll never succeed in life?” Jenny suggested.

“There must be something we can do!” Rhonda shouted.

“Well,” Jenny said, “we need to get people talking about it. Let’s stir up the doo-doo with these goody two shoes! We can manufacture some drama; for example we could reveal to Aiden that Melissa-”

“-We aren’t forcing drama,” Rhonda interrupted. “The point of a reality show is to capture the reality of people reacting and adapting to the challenges and situation of the game.”

“Oh yeah,” Jenny stated, “what about twists?”

“Twists are built in a reality show’s DNA,” Rhonda answered. “There’s a difference between changing the gameplay and forcing a conflict between people.”

“It would get people talking if we revealed that about Melissa,” Jenny pointed out. “It will come out at some point anyway.”

“That's not what I want people talking about,” Rhonda replied. “I know it’ll come out, but it needs to happen at its own pace. If we force it, we’ll focus too much on it and it won't play out.”

“Everyone knows the big dogs of reality TV makes up the drama to tell a story,” Jenny replied. “We’d be doing the same thing.”

“I’m not a fan of that approach in other shows,” Rhonda replied. “It ruins people’s chances in the game and it’s dishonest to our audience. We’d be selling out.”

“So you’re a fan of not being employed?” Jenny asked. “I get it Rhonda, you want reality shows to be real. But that isn’t how reality shows are anymore; if they even were that way to start with! They meddle in others’ lives for their entertainment and people expect it. They want it!”

Rhonda shifted her eyes. “Toby…what do you think?”

“Do it,” Toby stated.

“Dang it you’re suppose to be my good angel Toby!” Rhonda shouted.

“I don’t really give a **** what happens,” Toby said.

Jenny batted her eyelashes. “It’s either your integrity or keeping your career, your favorite childhood show and not having to admit to the world and yourself you couldn’t accomplish your dreams.”

“Why do I keep you around?” Rhonda sighed.

“Because I’m right,” Jenny said, “and cute as a kitten!”

"A dead kitten on the side of the road,” Toby said.

"YOUR MOM!" Jenny yelled.??

In the library, Zipporah was reading. She heard a dragging noise and turned to the doorway, where she saw Cynthia carry a full trashbag through the hallways.

"I've been reading journal entries made by the owner of the hotel," Zipporah explained. "Its been great inspiration for my poetry. So has been living in the same place as Cynthia. She's hardcore...and I don't know how to feel about it..."

Cynthia opened the trash bag and pulled out packed desserts.

"Cynthia is such a good friend!" Melissa exclaimed. "She helped Aiden and I give pastries to the needy. I cannot understand why people distrust her, just because she's different. Every has their own talent that makes them special; for some it’s a sport, some its making art and for Cynthia its her ability to wield weapons and hurt other living things. Its not our place to judge."

At the same time, Griswold and Easton walked out to the lobby.

“Thanks for inviting me out for burritos,” Easton said.

“Don’t mention it man,” Griswold said. “We’re teammates now, that’s what we do.”

Easton nodded. “Yeah. I guess this is a team trip…sorry my brother is tagging along.”

“I don’t mind,” Griswold replied. “Riley rooms with him and if he’s anything like you than he’s a cool dude.”

Easton smiled.

Just then Weston tripped down of the staircase and faceplanted in front of the two.

“Sick wipeout dude,” Griswold said.

“You okay Weston?” Easton asked.

Weston jumped up and glomped his twin. “Of course, now that I’m with my best friend.”

Riley and Ignacio, wearing his hood up, exited the stairway.

“Hey,” Riley said, “Ignacio’s joining our brohemin rhapsody. Hope that’s cool.”

Griswold high-fived Ignacio. “Heck yeah! Nice to have you here!”

At the same time, Tessa marched down in the halls and ran into Xidorn.

“Sorry,” Xidorn said, looking for his glasses.

Tessa stood up and handed Xidorn his glasses. “No harm, no foul.”

Xidorn looked up to see Tesssa and frowned.

“Do you have a problem?” Tessa asked.

“To be honest yes,” Xidorn replied.

“Let me guess,” Tessa said, “you’ve seen my interviews.”

“Yes,” Xidorn replied, “but that’s not it. I’ve heard you’ve been talking smack about Bethany since she left.”

“You wouldn’t understand,” Tessa replied, “you’ve never been bullied.”

“I wear rainbow suspenders to a public high school,” Xidorn replied. “I’ve been bullied.”

“Then why are you upset I sent some dumb jock home?” Tessa asked.

“Bethany wasn’t dumb,” Xidorn replied. “She never said a mean thing to you.”

She was being fake,” Tessa said. “People like her talk crap about others when they aren’t saying it to your face.”

“If the pot isn’t calling the kettle black,” Xidorn replied.

“You don’t know anything about me!” Tessa yelled.

“Did you know anything about Bethany?” Xidorn asked. “Did you ever have a full conversation with her? No, you didn’t. What gives you the authority to judge and not anyone else?”

“You’re just another person trying to get in with the cool people,” Tessa said. “To do that you’re just using me as a stepping stone. I’ve seen it; people have done it to me before. I’ll tell you know they won’t respect you no matter what you do.”

“The same way you don’t respect anyone no matter how they try and talk to you?” Xidorn asked.

“We’re both outsiders you know,” Tessa reasoned.

“I admit to not fitting in,” Xidorn said, “but I’m not like you; I don’t bottle my hate.”

Tessa opened her mouth but Xidorn turned away and left her alone to her thoughts.

Later, Ignacio, Easton, Weston, Riley and Griswold sat in Burrito Queen, as the customers stared at Ignacio.

“Wow,” Weston said holding up a jar, “they sure have a whole lot of peppers.”

Griswold finished a third burrito. “Hey Riley, I dare you to chug that whole glass of peppers. If you do, I’ll pay you-“

Riley slammed down the empty jar. “Done.”

“Dang,” Easton said, “how is your mouth...”

“…not on fire?” Weston finished.

“What can I say,” Riley replied. “I’m so cool, spicy foods don’t affect me.”

"You have my respect dude,” Griswold said. “I’ll buy you another burrito.”

“Nah man I’m stuffed,” Riley replied.

"Well, I'm going to have another,” Griswold said, “I think I’m going to try benching more, build up my muscle. I don’t want to get to flabby."

"I wouldn't be worried about that," Easton said. “You’re basically a brick house.”

“Except without pigs living in you,” Weston added.

Griswold chuckled. "Thanks. I know I shouldn't worry. Truth is though, before high school I was shrimpy."

The others laughed. 

"No, I'm serious," Griswold said. "I don't even know if I'd reach Riley's leg."

"Dude, really?" Riley asked. 

Griswold nodded. "I was shorter than five feet. Then puberty hit me."

"No way," Weston replied. "When is puberty going to hit me?"

"It already has Weston," Easton whispered.

"I can fathom that explanation," Ignacio replied. "I did not receive as much...attention before puberty."

"I wish puberty worked that way for me," Riley said. "Instead, my body just became awkward.”

The next day, Ness returned to her hotel room.

“Hey,” Seraphina greeted, “how did it go?”

“Well I’ll never be able to eat walnuts,” Ness said. “The good news is that they were able to stop the allergic reaction.”

Ness entered, wearing a neck brace. “Unfortunately some wild horse ran into the ambulance. Long story short, my neck is sprained. Only for a few days though.”

Lita entered with a a pureed drink. “Here you go honey, the doctors say you’ll have to drink your food for the next few days until your neck is healed. In the meantime, if you need anything just ask.”

Seraphina nodded.

That night, the teens were gathered in the cafeteria.

“Newcomers I am proud to say you’ve made it through your first few days,” Rhonda said. “Tomorrow's challenge will be early. For now though, we want to celebrate you're new journey. Which is why we’ve prepared a feast!”

Out of nowhere, the tables' candelabras lit up to reveal platters of food.

“Please enjoy to your heart's content!” Rhonda said. “You’ll need to eat up for the challenge tomorrow.”

The newcomers cheered, happily feasting. Only a few didn't pig out. By the end of the night, the teens had cleaned their plates and sat quietly amongst themselves.

“Is everyone full?” Rhonda asked.

“So much mannnnnnnn,” Kalino replied.

“Good,” Rhonda replied, “then let's begin the challenge!”

Everyone suddenly seemed more awake, except for Kalino.

“You said the challenge was going to be tomorrow,” Easton reminded.

“Not to mention most of you guys should be in bed,” Hayden said. “Right now it is-“

“-midnight,” Rhonda interrupted. “Making it tomorrow. I told you we’d start early.”

The newcomers moved into the hotel lobby.

“Welcome to what we like to call the Awake-A-Thon 2.0,” Rhonda announced. “It's simple. The team that falls asleep first loses, so stay awake as long as possible to win.”

“Wait,” Griswold said, “if the challenge was to stay awake as long as possible, how would eating help us win the challenge?”

“Would help you finish the challenge,” Rhonda corrected. “You finish the challenge by falling asleep.”

“Now slow the roll on your crazy train Rhonda,” Hayden stated. “This is a highly dangerous and inappropriate challenge. Are you aware what sleep deprivation can cause? Allow me to remind you; hallucinations, weakening of the immune system...”

“How much older is that guy?” Ness whispered to Lita.

“You all won’t be up for more than a few hours,” Rhonda interrupted. “We put some ground up sleeping pills in your food. If you really have such a problem with the challenge, you can always forfeit.”

Hayden pouted and sat back down.

“Now if everyone is done interrupting me,” Rhonda said.

“Wait I want to interrupt you too!” Frannie shouted.

Rhonda glared. “The rules for the challenge are simple; Fizzled Fireworks on the left side and the Molted Eagles to the right. No team intermingling; its troubling for the readers.”

“Readers?” Ignacio asked.

“Second you can’t leave the lobby unless you have my permission,” Rhonda stated. “So if you got to go, hold it. Don’t make a mess in this lobby.”

“Too late,” Kalino whispered.

“We’ll have designated times for you to leave the bathroom,” Rhonda added. “If you leave without permission you’re disqualified from this challenge. Now, lets get started.”

The teams slumped to their places. As the Eagles moved, Diamonique fell on her knees.

“Come on,” Frannie said helping her up, “you’re not out yet.”

"I’m going to hold on as long as I can,” Diamonique stated.

“It sounds like we need to get pumped,” Frannie said. “You thinking what I’m thinking?”

Diamonique smirked. “DANCE IT OFF!”

Diamonique jumped up and started to twerk as Frannie started Russian squat dancing.

The Fireworks tried a different strategy…

“I was thinking,” Griswold said, “we should all gather around together and try to keep each other awake. Plus, it’d be a great way to get to know each other and become a stronger team.”

“Wow,” Zipporah said, “sit around sharing personal stories and singing Kumbaya songs with you guys? As tempting as that offer is, I think I’d rather talk to the painting with the shifting eyes.”

Tessa also refused the offer while the rest of the Fireworks gathered around.

“So what now?” Ignacio asked.

“Seraphina still owes me a tarot card reading,” Griswold stated. “If you’re interested."

Seraphina shifted her eyes. “I’ll give you a quick reading. But if you aren’t happy with the fortune its not my fault.”

Seraphina pulled out her deck of tarot cards and began shuffling them.

“How much do you charge for a reading?” Easton asked.

“I haven’t charged anyone for a long time,” Seraphina replied.

She laid out the cards and flipped one over, showing a man standing between two women.

“The Lovers card,” Seraphina stated. "It means you’re going to have a face a decision soon, and you’ll have to make a choice between two paths.”

"Do me," Ness said.

Seraphina flipped over a card that showed the grim reaper.

“I’m not even surprised,” Ness sighed.

“Hold on,” Seraphina said, “Death means change in tarot cards.”

“You mean,” Ness said, “like maybe my luck changing for the better?”

Seraphina smiled. “That’s what I think.”

"Me next!" Pascal stated. "It's like a fortune cookie with pictures."

He reached for a card; it was a tower struck by lightning and toppling over.

“Does that also mean something good in tarot cards?” Pascal asked.

“Uh…sure,” Seraphina replied.

“How many of these do you do a month?” Easton asked.

“I don’t do but a few a year,” Seraphina stated.

"Why?” Griswold asked.

Seraphina sighed. “I don’t know…people react negatively when they get a fortune they don’t like, or don’t see exactly what they wanted to see. My powers don’t come with a user manual. I’m just trying to help people…”

“Which is why you stopped charging for them, huh?” Lita guessed.

Seraphina blushed and nodded.

Over at the Eagles, Frannie flipped herself upside down.

Whenever I need a quick wake up I just stand on my hands,” Frannie said. “Let the blood slowly rush to my head.”

“I’ll try it,” Diamonique said.

She took off her beret, revealing the usually hidden top of her forehead…and a scar there. Diamonique tied her a hair up in a bun, revealing a few more scars on the sides of her head.

“Ooh Diamonique,” Frannie said, “those are rough scars.”

Diamonique sat on her head. “Huh?

Frannie pointed to her forehead.

"Oh,” Diamonique replied, “I forgot I had those.”

Hayden started at Diamonique. “Interesting… those marks are approximately at the frontal and temporal lobes of your brain.”

“So what of it,” Diamonique replied. “You’ve never a scar on somebody’s head before?”

“No, no,” Frannie replied. “Er…yes? I mean, sorry to make a deal out of it.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being concerned about a teammate,” Hayden stated.

“Maybe you should be concerned about your nose,” Diamonique said. “Don’t want to get it hurt sticking it in other people’s business.”

Hayden rolled his eyes and walked away. “Alright fine, be childish.”

Diamonique blew a raspberry before she tipped over and fell on her face.

Aiden followed his roommate. “Zowie wowie Hayden, how did you know the parts of her brain?”

“I’m going for my psychology major,” Hayden replied.

“Oh,” Aiden said. “So why’d you point that out to Diamonique?”

“I was curious to see if she knew,” Hayden stated. “And she did.”

"How do you know?” Aiden asked.

Hayden cleared his throat. “Her overprotective reaction made it clear she’s sensitive about the subject, and from that I can deduce that she knows what I’ve theorized.”

“Which is?” Aiden asked.

“Keep up buddy,” Hayden replied, “those marks likely indicate her frontal and temporal lobe are damaged.”

“You mean…Diamonique has brain damage of some kind?” Aiden asked.

Hayden nodded slowly. “Yes bud. The point is, the frontal and temporal lobes are both related to the brain’s function of memory.”

“Why ask her about it?" Aiden said.

“I’m simply concerned for her,” Hayden replied. “I don’t want the poor kid having issues and not being able to express them. After the challenge we’ll have a talk.”

Thirty minutes later the scores were tied at nine. Pascal entertained the Fireworks with another tale...

“…And that’s how I saved my team from elimination,” Pascal finished.

“Wow, that was even better the fifth we’ve heard it,” Seraphina yawned.

“Man you killed that show,” Riley said. “How did you not win?”

Pascal’s eye twitched. “I ask myself that everyday. But I don’t dwell on-”

“-Oh yeah that girl wowed the other contestants with her final speech,” Griswold recalled. “What was her name…"

"Who remembers," Pascal said. "I-"

"-Amanda Picklestein!”

Pascal cringed.

“Oh man I loved her!” Griswold shouted. “She was my pick to win…uh, no offense.”

“HA,” Pascal laughed, “HA, HA. None taken, I could care less about that old show, even though it’s the farthest I’ve ever made on a reality show. But whose counting?”

“I don’t use the word hate,” Pascal stated. “I don’t even use dislike. It’s not in my vocabulary, like ‘quitting’, ‘tone it down’ or ‘rutabaga’. So when it comes to…Amanda Picklestein…I don’t hate her.”

Pascal smile widened as his eye twitched. “I despise Amanda Pickelstein with every bone and fiber in my body! She’s the grossest, crankiest, cross-eyed, ugliest, smelliest, sick, stupidest, scaly, shriveled, big headed, bug swallowing, repulsive, fanged, wart-ridden, psychotic, infested, omnivorous, ratchet, repugnant, repulsive abomination of a person I’ve ever had to breathe the same air as! And I’m not fond of her either.”

How is your neck doing, sweetie,” Lita asked Ness.

“Alright,” Ness replied. “The good news is I haven’t been able to eat the same amount of food as anyone else. And it’s so uncomfortable I’m not falling asleep too easy.”

Lita yawned. “You holding up alright Seraphina?”

“Yeah,” Seraphina replied, “I have insomnia, so I don’t fall asleep so easily.”

"You lucky ducks," Lita teased, rubbing her eyes.

“Hey Lita, can we talk in private for a minute?”

The girls turned to see Ignacio standing over them.

“Fine,” Lita replied as she followed Ignacio to the corner.

“I just wanted to apologize,” Ignacio said, “for what I said the other day to you. It was out of line.”

Lita smiled. “Thank you. I want to apologize too; I shouldn’t have blown up on you.”

“You were in your right to,” Ignacio said. “To assume that you were only interested in my looks…I was being a Neanderthal.”

“Well I’ve now seen how Frannie and Diamonique stick to you,” Lita replied. “So I understand how you’d get that way. Besides, I’ve dated a couple of models before and I kind of assumed you were stuck up like them.”

“I can understand that,” Ignacio replied. “I’ve met a lot of stuck up models. The truth is, I don’t even want to be a model! I’m just doing to help support my family.”

Lita put her hand on Ignacio’s shoulder. “You’re a very sweet guy. I appreciate you coming to apologize to me. Friends?”

Ignacio smiled and nodded. “Friends.”

At the Eagles side, Frannie yawned and scowled at the sleeping Ziba on her shoulder.

"I don’t have enough life left in me Fran,” Diamonique stated with bags under her eyes. “I’m going out for the count.”

“No!” Frannie yelled. “Come on lets dance or, or we could stand on our heads again!”

“Wouldn’t want you to look at my scars anymore,” Diamonique replied.

Frannie sniffled. “I said I was sorry.”

“No I’m sorry,” Diamonique replied, “I just... I got some scars on my body Frannie, worse than those. A lot.”

“Oh Diamonique,” Frannie sighed.

“It’s alright,” Diamonique replied. “I don't need any pity. I’m just a little sensitive and the truth is…that I do have some brain damage.”

Frannie hugged Diamonique.

“I got them when I was young,” Diamonique answered. “When people see them or find out…they just have another reason to look down on me. I’m just tired of. So tired…”

“There’s nobody here I think higher of than you Diamonique,” Frannie said.

Frannie turned to see Diamonqiue already asleep. Frannie placed Ziba on her beret stood up and frowned.

“Hey Frannie,” Kalino called, “come here.”

Frannie walked over. “What’s up?”

“My partner’s asleep,” Kalino explained, pointing to a snoring Vance. “Your partner’s asleep. I could use a laugh. You want to try and help keep each other awake?”

Frannie smiled and sat down. “Sure. So, what do you call a person who talks in someone else’s sleep?”

“A teacher,” Kalino replied.

Frannie laughed.

Soon a whole hour had passed.

Griswold turned to see Lita had fallen asleep and was shivering. He took off his varsity jacket and spread on top of her like a blanket. Riley watched and smiled to herself.

Over at the Eagles, Cynthia, Aiden, Melissa, Hayden, Frannie, Kalino and Xidorn were still awake. The male Eagles had just returned from the restroom.

“Alright lady Eagles may head to the bathroom,” Rhonda announced.

“I’ll be right back,” Melissa said as she left.

“Gee whiz,” Aiden sighed, “Melissa sure is amazing.”

Rhonda gulped and nodded. “Yeah, I’m glad we had her as a last minute addition. It's awesome that we could have the first Muslim contestant in the show’s history. Don't you think Aiden?”

“Wait…what?” Aiden asked.

Rhonda nodded. “We also have the show’s first open LGBTQ contestant as well.”

“Who is that?” Aiden asked.

“Well I’m pan,” Xidorn said.

“You’re attracted to pans?” Aiden asked.

It means I’m attracted to people of all genders,” Xidorn replied. “And I’m transgender.”

“You are?” Rhonda asked. “Since when?”

Xidorn stared.

“I just mean it wasn’t on your application,” Rhonda said.

“Because your only gender options were male and female,” Xidorn replied. “Besides transgender isn’t my gender; I identify as male. You weren’t ever aware of this?”

“I was talking about Hayden being gay,” Rhonda explained.

“You’re gay?” Aiden asked.

“Yeah,” Hayden said, “is that a problem?”

“But we share a room,” Aiden replied.

“Please stop,” Hayden replied, glaring.

“Jenny and Toby how come the medical examiners didn’t inform us Xidorn was transgender?” Rhonda asked.

“We had to cut expenses,” Jenny explained. “So the medical exams got reduced budgets.”

How reduced?” Rhonda asked.

The scene changed to Xidorn sitting in a doctor’s office. Jenny and Toby stormed in.

“Aren’t you two a little young to be doctors?” Xidorn asked.

“Not according to the degrees we printed offline,” Jenny replied. “Now are you healthy?”

“Yes,” Xidorn replied.

“Whelp, good enough for me,” Jenny said as she left.

The scene returned to Rhonda glaring at her cohorts.

“Did I miss anything?” Melissa asked as she walked back in.

“Melissa is it true?” Aiden asked. “Is it true your Muslim?”

“Yes,” Melissa replied. “Why?”

“How can you be Muslim?” Aiden asked.

Melissa frowned. “Excuse me?”

“I just mean,” Aiden started to say, “you're just…”

“What?” Melissa asked.

“You’re so American,” Aiden replied.

“My family has been legal and loyal American citizens for three generations,” Melissa stated. “But I guess because I believe in Islam I can’t be American then, huh?”

“I didn’t say that,” Aiden replied. “But I mean…well…”

Melissa started to cry. “I know what you mean, you…you…”

Melisssa ran away in tears. Cynthia followed after her.

Everyone turned to stare at Aiden who sat away in the corner, covering his face with his cap. Soon things died back down.

Frannie and Kalino continued to talk.

“-So I put lobsters down her pants,” Kalino finished as Frannie laughed.

“I guess you could say she was crabby,” Frannie joked. “Wait…dang it that joke doesn’t work.”

“It was still hilarious,” Kalino said. “Man I wish I could have a latte now, even one of those pumpkin spice ones."

Frannie giggled.

Kalino smirked. "You know Frannie, I like how chill you are.”

“Right back at you,” Frannie replied. “I wish I could always be that calm.”

“You’re not?” Kalino asked.

“I just have a lot on my mind,” Frannie said. “I’m on this show so I can win the money and keep my circus open. The circus is like my family.”

“That’s so righteous,” Kalino said, “I just joined to tick off my sister.”

“How bad is your sister?” Frannie asked.

“She’s so stiff and wooden if you threw her into the ocean she’d float,” Kalino replied. “She brings homework with her to the beach, instead of trying to surf.”

“Let me guess,” Frannie said. “You’re from-“

“-Yeah Nebraska,” Kalino replied. “I know, it’s the accent.”

Frannie snickered. “You’re real cool Kalino. Hey, you should join me and Diamonique’s alliance!”

“That sounds soooooo sweet man,” Kalino replied.

“Yeah Diamonique came up with it,” Frannie replied. “She’s a master strategist.”

“I’d love to hook my chain with you guys,” Kalino said. “So…who do you think you’ll vote off...”

Two hours later and most everyone was still asleep. Tessa, Ness and Seraphina stayed awake for the Fireworks while Kalino and Frannie were awake for the Eagles.

“Congrats to the five of you who are left standing,” Rhonda said.

Tessa and Frannie immediately collapsed into sleep.

“Or three,” Rhonda said. “However, only one of you can win. Who will it be?”

Seraphina and Ness slapped each others face to try and stay awake while Kalino sat there twiddling his thumbs.

Ten minutes later, Seraphina tipped over and closed her eyes.

“And we’re down to one member from each team,” Rhonda announced. “Who knows who will win this final, ultimate battle to-“

Kalino snored loudly.

“-And it looks like Ness wins it for the Fireworks!” Rhonda cheered.

“Hooray,” Ness sighed before falling to the ground.

“Someone wake the Eagles up and tell them they’ll be voting someone off in twenty,” Rhonda announced.

Kalino sprung up instantly and shrugged.

Later the Molting Eagles sat at the Internet Café, all with bags under their eyes.

“Look on the bright side,” Rhonda said. “At least you get to vote tonight.”

“Yay,” Xidorn ‘cheered’.

Diamonique cast her vote for Aiden. “Since Frannie and I rode with Cynthia and Melissa in the taxi at the first challenge, we’ve all been tight. We have the numbers, now we just needed to wait until somebody screwed up and painted a big target on their back. Sorry Aiden, that was you.”

Vance cast his vote. “A good point was made to me today, which was that you could be a future liability in challenges. I want to win challenges. Sorry partner, but the buck stops here.”

Vance tried to spit but his saliva hung from his lips.

"The votes have been cast,” Rhonda said. “I have nine pumpkin spice coffee lattes. The one of you who doesn’t receive a coffee will be eliminated tonight and never comeback. EVER. Unlike last time, the first coffee cups are for Cynthia and Hayden.”

The two caught their coffees.


The three caught their lattes and tried drinking them to stay awake.


Weston grabbed his cup but accidentally dropped it.

“And the next coffee cup goes to…Aiden.”

Kalino and Diamonique eyes grew wide as did Aiden’s, who barely caught his cup.

“The last coffee goes to…”

“…Kalino. You’re done Diamonique.”

Diamonique stood up and turned to meet the eyes of her teammates.

“Whatever, I’m too fabulous for this anyway!” Diamonique announced and stormed off.

She stopped and turned back to look at Frannie. “Thanks girl, for believing in me.”

Kalino sipped his latte. “Sucks about Diamonique mannnnnn… Aiden’s foot in the mouth syndrome and muscles make him useful for now. I’d rather keep him than a master strategist. That’s why I convinced the others that Diamonique would likely be a challenge liability. Sorry D, there’s only room for one alliance on the Eagles. Oh and don’t worry, I’ll take good care of Frannie..."

Kalino took another sip of his latte. “Mmmmmmmm man they weren’t kidding about that pumpkin spice stuff.”

Chapter 5 Sweat, Sweat Revenge

The next night most of the Fizzled Fireworks celebrated their latest win in Seraphina, Lita, and Ness’ room.

“Woo!” Pascal cheered, wobbling and holding a soda. “The fireworks blast off to victory again.”

Pascal toppled over onto Ness, who no longer wore her brace.

“It’s all thanks to this superstar!” Pascal hiccuped.

Ness blushed deep red and hyperventilated. “We…we all tried our best."

"Yeah, but you won!" Pascal said.

"Thanks Pascal," she giggled, "it means a lot. Especially since you're so hot…a musician.”

“Duh,” Pascal replied as he slid to the floor.

Lita and Seraphina prepared more snacks.

“Hasn’t he only had one cherry cola?” Lita asked.

“He hasn’t even finished it,” Seraphina replied, walking off.

Griswold walked in. “Alright, mini pizza bagels are done!”

“Thanks sugar,” Lita replied. “You know, you didn’t have to help with the snacks.”

“It was my idea to throw a party,” Griswold replied.

“And we offered to host us in our room,” Lita countered.

“It just didn’t seem like the right thing to do,” Griswold stated.

“I appreciate it,” Lita replied and smiled.

“Hehehe,” Griswold snorted, before he blushed and dashed off.

“I’m awful with girls,” Griswold admitted. “No one was ever interested in me when I was a shorter…so I’ve never learned how to flirt. I’ve tried Internet searching it, but the advice has been…use cheesy one-liners, write poetry, wiggling my eyebrows, even making dolphin calls! Is that how you flirt, with dolphin calls and everyone just knows that but me?”

Seraphina walked back over. “Looks like we have another meeting in your room.”

“It’s your room too dear,” Lita replied. “I’m sorry, just say the word and we can wrap this up.”

“No I was just…making an observation,” Seraphina said. “Thanks though…”

Lita smiled. “Of course. By the way, where did you get that shawl? It's so cute.”

“Eh, I kind of have the fashion sense of a sixth grader,” Seraphina stated. “But um…thanks. It was from my great, great grandmother. I um…like your scarf.”

“Thanks girl,” Lita replied. “It was actually a gift from my last ex.”

“I’ve never really had female friends,” Seraphina admitted. “Or friends in general; I just didn’t want any. I don’t know any kind of ‘girl code’ or anything, so I’m kind of worried I’m offending Lita or Nesss. They’re actually really nice. Lita can be like a mom. Not mine, but one whose maternal."

Riley crushed a soda can against her head. “Hey Easton, where’s your other half?”

Weston?” Easton asked. “Oh…he doesn’t know about this.”

“Oh crap,” Riley replied. “I didn’t even think to tell him, I thought you would have.”

“This was just between us Fireworks,” Easton replied. “It didn’t seem right to invite him.”

“Dude, no one has a problem with it,” Riley replied.

"It’s not just that,” Easton admitted. “Weston…he’s got to fend for himself. I mean, how would it look to his team if all he does is tag along with the other team? He’d be voted out.”

Riley nodded. "That's true."

“Hey man,” Griswold said, “I’m sensing…some other issues here. Do you want to talk about it?”

Easton blushed. “It’s not a really big thing…”

“This is a judgment free zone,” Griswold stated.

“I love my bro,” Easton stated. “I just...I need some time apart from him. Only a little. I joined this show because I wanted to see more outside of my hometown. I want new experiences…but when Weston heard he had to join me.”

Easton sighed. “Weston is just…dependent. And he can be...thick-headed. He doesn’t think things through. It becomes my responsibility to take care of him. I don’t really mind…but it feels like my parents treat him more special than me because he’s always getting into jams.”

Lita nodded.

“Its hard to put into words,” Easton went on. “It’s like I have to make sacrifices for him and well…”

“He gets more love than you,” Lita finished.

“Yeah,” Easton said.

He was silent for a moment. “Am I a horrible person for feeling that way?”

“I don’t know,” Lita replied. “I understand though…my little brother…well it’s not important. But I understand you.”

“I have little sisters,” Griswold stated. “It’s not the same thing as twin, but I think everyone feels that way around their siblings sometimes.”

Easton nodded. “I don’t know…I still love Weston. Yet when you’re a twin everyone acts like you’re just clones. Weston and me are similar, but we're different. I want a separate identity. Truth is, I’ve already been offered a scholarship for my math major.”

“That’s superb,” Ignacio stated. “You must be quite adroit.”

Easton blushed. “Yeah, thanks. I haven’t told Weston yet; going means we’ll be apart and he doesn’t really have plans for the future. I’m worried he won’t be able to hold his own.”

I had no idea,” Riley stated.

“Please don’t tell him what I said,” Easton asked.

“My lips are sealed,” Riley replied as the others nodded.

“For what its worth I think you’re right about some time apart,” Griswold said.

Griswold held out his hand. Easton forced a smile and they high-fived.

Easton was hyper-ventilating. "I've never felt comfortable telling anyone that. My teammates are just so accepting of me. I feel so bad saying that stuff...but so relieved. I might pass-out."

The next morning, Kalino strolled through the cafeteria. He was reading a newspaper.

"Horoscopes," Kalino stated. "You will have great accomplishments today."

Kalino looked up to see Frannie, who had made a frowning face out of her eggs and bacon.

“Fran the Wooman,” Kalino stated. “How you holding up?”

Frannie sobbed and face planted into her breakfast.

“I’ll take that as bad,” Kalino said.

Frannie lifted her head. “I’m just so upset that Diamonique is gone. I can’t even think of a joke.”

“Here’s a joke,” Kalino said. “What does a clown tell during breakfast times?”

“What?” Frannie asked.

“Yolks,” Kalino joked, as he rubbed some eggs off Frannie’s face.

“Thanks for trying,” Frannie stated. “I just don’t understand why Diamonique went home.”

“Yeahhhh,” Kalino stated. “It’s a real mystery. I don’t understand…but I’ve been talking to the others and I don’t think they’ll vote you off.”

“Really?” Frannie asked. “I hope so. At least I know I can trust you Kalino.”

Kalino shrugged. “I’m just a trustworthy guy mannnnnnnn.”

Later, Aiden dragged his feel slowly to his room. Hayden frowned as he entered.

“Hey,” Aiden whispered.

“So, are we going to talk?” Hayden asked. “Or are you going to keep avoiding me? I know you’ve been sleeping in other hotel rooms instead of here.”

Aiden looked down. “You didn’t ever check me out did you?”

“You don’t check out every girl do you?” Hayden asked.

Aiden blushed. "No."

“I have a boyfriend,” Hayden added. “I’m just...uggh! I'm so ticked off right now.”

“I’m sorry,” Aiden replied. “I don’t a lot about gay people. I really haven't been around any-”

“-It’s not that you’re uncomfortable,” Hayden interrupted. “I try to follow Carl Rogers' belief of unconditional positive regard; respecting and accepting others as who they are. I'm happy to answer questions and be honest.”

Aiden sat down next to him. "I don't think you hate different people Aiden. You're not someone who hates.

“Then…what?” Aiden asked.

“The way you acted,” Hayden shot back. “We were pals until you find out I’m gay. Now I’m suddenly a different person?”

“You never mentioned it,” Aiden replied.

“What, am I just suppose to state my sexuality to everyone I meet?” Hayden asked. “I’ve never hid it, but I don’t make a big deal about it. It shouldn’t be a big deal."

Aiden hugged Hayden. Hayden sighed, but hugged his roommate.

“I’m sorry," Aiden said."I should have considered how you feel. Can we, can we still be buds?”

Hayden chuckled and gave Aiden a noogie. “Yeah, we’re still buds. But I’m not the only one you need to say sorry to. I’m worried about Melissa.”

Aiden nodded. “I know. I am too. I want to talk to her...but I don’t know what to say yet.”

“I’ll help you if you need it,” Hayden replied.

“Thanks,” Aiden said. “I might…but I also want it to come from me.”

Hayden slapped him on the back and the two shared a smile.

"I've tried talking to Melissa since the Awake-a-thon," Aiden admitted. "When I saw her run away could do that to her? She's the most swell gal I've ever met."

Weston walked through the lobby, where a TV on a cart was placed.


Weston froze and turned to the TV, which showed Easton talking in front of his team.

“Weston is just…dependent… he's thick-headed,” Easton ‘said’. “He doesn’t think things becomes my responsibility to take care of him. ...He's always getting into jams. Truth is, I’ve already been offered a scholarship for my math major… going means we’ll be apart and he doesn’t really have plans for the future.”

Weston stared at the TV, which turned to static.

Rhonda awkwardly ran up to the TV. “Oh no, how did this TV I didn’t leave in this exact place get here? I hope it didn’t not on purpose accidentally show certain footage that was totally not edited together. Weston, did you see anything?”

Weston looked down, before running off in tears.

Rhonda grimaced but wheeled the TV away. She returned to the monitoring room where Jenny and Toby sat.

“Guys, I feel a little guilty,” Rhonda said. “I think we may have hurt Weston’s feelings. How were the ratings for last episode?”

“Alright,” Toby said on his smart phone. “A lot of people have been watching it online and talking about it.”

Rhonda smiled. “Yay!”

“Mostly about Aiden,” Toby added.

Rhonda frowned. “At least the plan worked.”

“The plan didn’t work!” Jenny shouted. “It actually hurt Hayden’s feelings, and I like him more than most of the people here. Present company included.”

“It was your idea,” Rhonda replied. “What are they saying Toby?”

“Some people really dislike Aiden now,” Toby stated. “Some agree with him. A few people have even sent death threats to his family, according to his stepmother’s social media.”

Rhonda sighed and slumped into her chair. “I…I didn’t mean for that to happen.”

The next day, the teams gathered in the lobby.

"It’s that time again,” Rhonda announced, “challenge time! To celebrate the upcoming game, we’ll be doing sport themed challenges!”

"Aw man!” Griswold cheered. “This is going to be sweet!”

“What game is coming up?” Xidorn asked.

“You know,” Rhonda said, “the…sport that people watch.”

“Another attempt at a tie-in for cheap cash,” Zipporah stated. “What a surprise."

“Anyway,” Rhonda said, “for this challenge you’ll compete in up to five different sports. We’ve taken the liberty of totally randomly selecting who does what. You’ll be in pairs of two, except for the last challenge which will have three people. ”

“We don’t have as many members as the Fireworks,” Xidorn pointed out.

“You shouldn’t have sucked so much,” Jenny teased.

“Two people will go again for your team,” Rhonda explained. “Now, we’ll need a change of scenery for the first sport…”

The contestants moved to a new hotel and entered a dome that contained an artificial beach.

"Welcome to the Paradise Beach Hotel," Rhonda announced, "One of the several hotels run and owned by our home company. I thought about hosting the show here, but the Pentagon seemed like a better fit."

"That's the first smart thing you've said," Zipporah said. "Who wrote it for you?"

"Our first challenge is for the sport of water skiing! One person will steer a speedboat through a course of buoys, while the other will water ski and collect flags. Then you'll reach a dock, switch roles and continue down the course. Whoever collects the most flags wins.

"For the Molting Eagles, Vance will drive first and Hayden will ski."

"You think you can handle it bud?" Hayden asked.

"Don't call me bud," Vance replied. "And of course I can, water skiing is just like rodeo."

"In a completely different way," Hayden added.

"On the Fizzled Fireworks," Rhonda continued, "Riley will drive and Zipporah will ski."

"We're the dream team!" Riley wooed as she tried to chest bump Zipporah but knocked her to the ground.

"More like a nightmare," Zipporah sighed. "And not the good kind."

In a few minutes, the pairs went off.

“Try not to get distracted staring at me,” Vance yelled.

“Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I’m attracted to every guy,” Hayden replied.

“I know that,” Vance said. “Everyone’s just attracted to me. I’m not every guy; I’m a champion.”

Vance then ran into a buoy.

“Aw yeah,” Riley cheered. “This ocean breeze is amazing. Are you feelin it Z?”

Zipporah flopped about like a dead fish. “I’m feeling it.”

Vance crashed into another buoy. “I tell you Hayden, your driving is catawampus!”

“Right, it’s my fault,” Hayden replied. “You’re just protecting your own feelings-“

“Cut out your doctor talk!” Vance shouted. “I’ve collected a few durn flags after all!”

“Only because you crashed into all of those!” Hayden shot back.

“NO HANDS!” Riley screamed as her boat drove past the Eagle’s.

“AHHHH!” Zipporah screamed.

Hayden parked into the dock and switched roles with Vance.

“You think you can steer this thing?” Hayden asked.

“You do know who you’re talking to right?” Vance asked.

Vance backed the boat into the dock, causing it to sink.

“I do,” Hayden replied.

“WOOOOOO!” Riley shouted as her boat crashed into Vance’s.

A few minutes later, the four teens washed up on the shore.

Griswold ran forward. “Are you okay Riley?”

“Wow Brono Somebrody,” Riley said. “That was an amazing wipeout!”

“I’m fine by the way,” Zipporah stated.

“Does anyone actually have any flags left?” Rhonda asked.

Vance smiled, revealing a flag caught between the gap of his missing tooth.

“I guess the Eagles win,” Rhonda stated. “Now for the next challenge, it’ll be Easton and Griswold against Melissa and Weston in a game of beach volleyball! First pair to score three points wins.”

Randomly selected,” Easton said, “yeah right!"

In a few seconds, the pairs were in front of the net.

“Hey good luck bro,” Easton said.

Weston glared. “I guess you’ll have to take care of me in this too, huh?”

“What?” Easton asked.

Melissa sighed and looked over at Aiden who stared at her.

“I admit that what Aiden said really hurt my feelings,” Melissa stated. “Maybe I’m just being selfish, but that is my religion. I’m trying to not let it get me down. I need to stay positive for my team; when I’m doing a challenge I need to have a tummy full of sunshine tickles…but instead my stomach is churning in crying clouds.”

Toby blew a whistle; Griswold served the ball and it swung over the net.

Weston ran forward and bounced the ball. Easton ran up and knocked it back over. Weston tried to hit it, but it landed on the sand.

“Give me some bro!” Griswold stated as he and Easton fist pumped.

Weston threw the volleyball at Easton’s head.

“Your serve,” Weston stated.

Easton handed the ball to Griswold, who served it. It smacked Weston in the face and bounced back over the fence.

“Weston sure can take a lot of pain,” Hayden stated.

Cynthia nodded.

Easton shot it over the net, but Melissa bounced it back. Griswold hit it back strong and scored point.

Great job Griswold!” Lita cheered.

“That’s what I’m talking about Griz Bear!” Riley shouted.

Griswold giggled and blushed. He didn’t even notice Weston throw the volleyball at him, which landed in Griswold’s pompadour.

The younger twin sighed. He took off his shirt, revealing noticeable scars on his body.

“I’ve got a couple of scars here and there,” Weston admitted. “They're from climbing trees, jumping off cliffs, playing in briar patches. Stuff like that. Maybe Easton’s right, maybe I do just do crazy things without thinking.”

Griswold served it, Melissa hit it, Easton hit it, then Weston jumped and slammed back over and scored a point.

Melissa and Weston high-fived, then Weston blew a raspberry at his brother.

“Do you have a problem?” Easton asked.

“I’m not the one with the problem,” Weston replied.

“What?” Easton asked. “Man, you’re acting really dumb!”

“Isn’t that how I always act?” Weston said.

“Are you keeping something from me?” Easton asked.

“Like you are?” Weston replied. “I heard; about the scholarship.”

Easton’s eyes grew wide. “Weston, I-“

“-Didn’t think I should know,” Weston interrupted. “I heard it, I heard everything else you said about me. If you don’t really want to have a brother then fine; you’re no longer my brother.”

Weston jumped up spiked the ball, but Easton shot it back over and scored a point.

“The Fireworks score a victory!” Rhonda announced.

Nobody cheered, as the twins glared at each other.

The scene changed to inside an ice rink.

“Our next challenge will be the Canadian sport of choice,” Rhonda stated. “Hockey! One member will serve as a goalie while the other will have to hit the puck in the goal! First team to score two points wins! For the Eagles, Frannie and Xidorn; Xidorn will be goalie. For the Fireworks, Tessa will try to score while the goalie will be…um…uh…”

Rhonda pulled out a piece of paper. “Jasper?”

Some guy sighed and stepped forward.

“I thought his name was Jeffrey,” Griswold whispered.

“I thought our other teammate was Julie,” Seraphina admitted.

“Wait, is he on our team?” Pascal asked. “Did he just debut?”

The four got in their positions on the rink.

Tessa skated out and performed a perfect figure eight.

Aiden cowered nervously from the sidelines.

“My best friend is an ice skater at the Olympics,” Tessa stated. “She’s my only friend; everyone else is quick to judge me or look down on me. I’m thinking I might try to do ice skating in the future."

“Begin!” Rhonda announced.

“Go Frannie!” Kalino cheered as he ate a banana.

“For Diamonique!” Frannie screamed as she swung.

The puck moved a millimeter. Tessa then twirled through, stole the puck and made a winning goal.

“****!” Frannie cursed.

Tessa started to slide the puck. Frannie sped forward, but Tessa danced around her.

Puck this,” Frannie shouted, as she back flipped in front of Tessa and stole the puck. She skated to the goal and slammed it in, but Jackson Jasper blocked it.

“Guess you could say I’m on thin ice,” Frannie joked.

“The ice isn’t that thin,” Juan Jasper replied. Frannie pouted.

Tessa started to skate back over. Frannie slammed the puck and made a goal.

“That was for the Canadians!” Frannie cheered.

Frannie returned to her side. She swiped the puck and headed for the Firework's goal.

Tessa skated at her. Kalino yawned as he threw a banana peel on the ice, which caused Tessa to slip and fall. Frannie slammed the puck and made another goal.

“And with that the Eagles have reclaimed the lead!” Rhonda announced.

Tessa growled and snapped her hockey stick.

“I guess you could say she needs to…chill,” Frannie joked.

“Haha,” Kalino laughed. “Good one mannnnn.”

“I don’t get it,” Kalino admitted.

The scene changed to what seemed like an old opera house.

“This is the Pentagram’s theatre,” Rhonda stated. “Where Ness and Ignacio will perform for the Fireworks, while the Eagles will again have Xidorn and Vance.”

“It’s like the Phantom of the Opera will come and kidnap me right now,” Zipporah sighed before frowning. “What mainstream, strength obsessed, self-esteem ruining event that your kind call entertainment are you going to have here?”

“This sport will be,” Rhonda said, “interpretive dance!”

“What?” Vance asked. “Dancing ain't no sport!”

"Wikipedia said it was,” Rhonda replied. “And interpretive dancing is dancing. So, you and your partner will have to perform an on the spot routine to our panel of judges; Jenny and Toby. They’ll pick the winners of the challenge. For questioning me, Eagles can go first.”

A spotlight shone on Vance and Xidorn as everyone else stepped away.

“Bust a move!” Rhonda yelled, as classical music plays.

Both teens blushed and tried to move about. Vance eventually settled on doing the monkey while Xidorn tried to do the sprinkler.

In the audience, the teams watched and cringed.

Aiden moved over to Melissa. Cynthia, who sat next to her, pulled out a knife.

“I just want to talk,” Aiden said. “Can we talk alone, Melissa?”

“Okay,” Melissa replied.

Melissa and Aiden snuck over to a corner. Cynthia didn’t lower her knife.

“I wanted to say I’m sorry,” Aiden admitted.

“Thank you,” Melissa said but turned away.

“I mean it,” Aiden said, “I know my comments were out of line. I admit I do have a problem with Muslims. My dad and stepmom are soldiers. They met while stationed in the Middle East. Myy mom was in the Middle East too; she was a medic before…she was killed by terrorist attack when I was just a toddler.”

“Oh,” Melissa replied. “I had no idea Aiden…I’m so sorry.”

Aiden wiped a tear away. “No, you don’t have anything to be sorry about. That doesn’t excuse my actions. I just wanted to try and explain where maybe some of my reaction came from.”

Melissa sighed. “I understand. I know there are awful people out there who do things in the name of being a Muslim. But not a single person represents a whole; the Christians who protested those soldiers’ funerals don’t represent every Christian after all. I’m just…hurt you’d think I could be someone like that.”

I know,” Aiden said, “I didn't really, but I was confused. I have some biases, but I know they can’t all be right; you’re proof they’re wrong. I want to move past this, I want to be more aware, I want us to be friends again…and more than anything I don’t want you to feel bad. Golly, you’re the sweetest person I’ve ever met; you shouldn’t feel bad.”

Melissa hugged Aiden. “I’d love to be friends again.”

Aiden hugged her back and started to tear up. “Thank you.”

Meanwhile on stage Vance switched it up to doing the chicken dance, while Xidorn pantomimed throwing chicken feed. Vance tripped and tried to play it off, as he scooted his butt across the stage like a dog. The music cut off as Xidorn and Vance sighed in relief.

“Judges?” Rhonda asked.

“It was an interesting take on the Star Wars prequels,” Jenny replied.

“I thought their dance was about the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Toby said.

“It sounds like it’ll be hard to beat,” Rhonda stated. “Ness and Ignacio you’re up.”

Ness and Ignacio awkwardly took the stage. The music started and the two started imitating ballet as they moved across the stage. Ness twirled, only for her boot to fly off. Her shoe flew into the air, knocking into the old stage lights (which clearly weren't up to standard).

Ness gulped as she looked up. Toby coughed and Ness blushed as she started to hop on one foot and dance again. Ignacio imitated a mime, trapping himself in a box.

Griswold covered his eyes. “I can’t look.”

Suddenly, a stage light fell and conked Ness on the head.

“Err…derp,” Ness giggled as she fell about. "Hehehe."

“Oh god, Ness is on fire,” Riley stated.

“She’s doing that good?” Griswold asked.

“No, she’s literally on fire,” Easton yelled as Griswold put his hands down.

The stage light had burst into flames, and had spread to Ness’ jacket. She didn't react, stumbling and staggering while giggling.

Ignacio ran backstage and grabbed an extinguisher. He held it out but Ness stumbled against him, causing the model to accidentally shot it off.

The extinguisher bounced from wall to wall. It ricocheted into Rhonda’s forehead, knocking her out before flying into the rest of the stage lights. They fell, exploding and bursting into flames.

As it was still firing, the extinguisher knocked down a hook holding a sand bag. The sandbag fell on Ness’ foot…while the extinguisher rammed into the jinx, knocking her off stage. Ignacio tried to help Ness, distracting him from the hook. Naturally, it snared Ignacio’s pants and shirt.

As Ignacio moved forward, the hook ripped off his clothes. Ignacio blushed and froze, stark naked on the burning stage.

“Now that’s what I call hot,” Frannie joked while drooling.

“EW GROSS, NAKED PEOPLE!” Jenny screamed as she ran away. Toby meanwhile fainted.

“So, did we win or…” Pascal asked.

Later, the teams were at a roller skating rink.

“Well that wasn’t a total disaster,” Rhonda stated. “Ultimately, the judges decided to crown the Fireworks the winners.”

“Only because you ended up hurting Rhonda,” Jenny added.

“Since we conveniently tied,” Rhonda stated, “we go to the final challenge! The three competitors yet to compete, step forward!”

Lita, Seraphina and Pascal walked up for the Fizzled Fireworks. Aiden, Cynthia and Kalino come forward for the Molting Eagles.

“This challenge will be a roller derby challenge!” Rhonda announced.

“What’s roller derby?” Lita asked.

“It’s basically roller skating with punching,” Rhonda replied. “For this challenge, you have to race around the course. First skater to circle all the way around wins it for their team. You are allowed to push, punch and other such violence to stay ahead. You might have to…”

The competitors got on their gear and made their way to the starting line.

“Can you guys skate?” Pascal asked.

Seraphina tripped and face-planted. “No.” Jenny, Toby and Rhonda sat in announcer’s booth. “On your mark, get set, get ready…go!”

The group skated off; Aiden struggled while Kalino slowly inched along.

“Now let’s add some obstacles,” Rhonda giggled as she pressed a button.

The gates opened and large roller skating thugs charged out at the contestants.

“Eep!” Aiden squealed as he ran backwards as the thugs chased him.

"Eep!” the thugs exclaimed running the other way.

Cynthia skated after them.

A thug sneaked behind Lita…and got a punch to the face.

“Wee!” Pascal exclaimed as he lead some thugs in twirling around.

“Wee,” Seraphina stated as some thugs tossed her around.

“Leave her alone punks!” Lita yelled as she grabbed Seraphina. A thug tried to grab her, only to get an uppercut to the chin.

“I like this sport,” Lita admitted as she noticed the blood on her knuckles.

“You’re tough Lita,” Seraphina said.

“Trust me, you have to be in my neighborhood,” Lita said as she put Seraphina down. “Hey, where are you creeps going? I’m not done making you cry!”

“This is getting intense,” Rhonda said. “And it's the climax of the challenge…quick, play the edgiest music we have the rights to!”

Toby nodded and played a track.


Hanson - Mmmbop (Lyrics)

"This is the edgiest song we could afford..."

Mmmbop, ba dubi dop, ba do bop…

“I said edgy!” Rhonda stated.

“This is the edgiest song we could afford,” Toby replied.

Rhonda slumped to the floor, got in the fetal position and began to cry to herself.

The thugs skated back into the gates and slammed them shut. Cynthia had the lead, with Pascal, Lita and Seraphina together in the back.

“I have a plan to win,” Pascal stated.

“Will it work?” Seraphina asked.

“I saw it on a children’s television show,” Pascal replied. “That means it's full proof!”

Seraphina face palmed.

“We’ll form a chain,” Pascal explained. “In the middle will be the lightest skater; as we skate around the corner, that person will be flung forward and propelled by our inertia to finish line.”

“Does that even make sense?” Seraphina asked.

“It doesn’t not make sense,” Pascal replied.

“We’re out of options,” Lita stated. “Everybody chain up!”

“Well whose going to be in the middle?” Seraphina asked.

Lita and Pascal looked at Seraphina, before grabbing one of her arms.

“I had to ask,” Seraphina sighed, as Lita and Pascal threw her.

Seraphina screamed but soared past Cynthia.

“Wow,” Seraphina said, “I’m actual-“

“-Hey there.”


Seraphina tripped over Kalino laying on the floor, and fell on her face. Cynthia skated past her and completed a lap.

“For once the Eagles actually win!” Rhonda announced from the booth. “We’ll see you tonight Fireworks.”

“I knew I wasn’t going to win,” Kalino admitted. “So if you can’t beat them, have them join you in losing. I waited at the finish line, took a power nap and helped win the challenge. My horoscope was on point today.”

In the Pentagram, Pascal knocked on room 666.

Tessa opened the door and glared. “What do you want?”

Hey, hey, hey!” Pascal said as he forced his way into the room. “You did awesome sauce at the challenge today and it made me think, we should form an alliance!”

“Save it,” Tessa replied. “I wouldn’t want to form an alliance with an egotistical, know it all celebrity.”

“No irony there,” Pascal said.

“Huh?” Tessa asked.

“I was just saying that’s too bad,” Pascal replied. “It's your choice though. I guess when Lita or Seraphina suggest voting you off today I won’t convince them otherwise.”

Tessa sighed. “They’d all follow them, wouldn’t they?”

“Not if I don’t change their minds,” Pascal teased.

“Fine,” Tessa groaned, “I’ll form an alliance with you…but you backstab me and you’ll regret it.”

“I was wondering,” Pascal said, “I can’t count on that whole Good Guys alliance, so who is going to be my goat now? And then I heard Tessa baaing. I mean, nobody likes her! She’d be the ideal candidate to take to the final two! All I have to do is keep her from being voted off and that can’t be hard, right? ...Right?”

“I don’t trust Pascal,” Tessa said. “He’s just another popular creep who thinks he can use me to help him get ahead. Which is why the first chance I get, I’ll send him home.”

“Alright then,” Tessa said, “who are you going to vote off?”

Pascal smirked. “Well…”

Later, in another room...

“Justin?” Griswold asked. “Whose that?”

“I think he means Jojo,” Riley said. “You know he has brown hair and…brown hair.”

“Why would we send home Jamal instead of Tessa?” Seraphina asked.

“Well Tessa is more useful in challenges than Johnny,” Pascal answered. “I mean, Tessa won her trial and the first challenge, stayed awake long in the sleeping challenge and was a great skater this time. At the moment, its in the team’s best interests to keep a power player than a nobody.”

“Tessa isn’t really into having a team,” Seraphina stated.

“Do you remember Jeremy being a big part of the team?” Pascal asked.

“Pascal does bring up a good point,” Easton admitted.

“Tessa has been nothing but horrible to all of us,” Lita reminded.

“Maybe if we give her time she’ll change,” Pascal said.

“She’s had plenty of time,” Seraphina replied.

“I don’t want to keep Tessa,” Griswold admitted. “But she is useful in challenges and I’d like to win more…if she promises to be a better team player.”

“I think I can get her to promise that,” Pascal replied.

“He did stuff in challenges,” Lita defended. “I think..”

“Let’s take some time and think about this,” Griswold said. “Pascal, you can talk to Tessa. We’ll meet up again and make a final decision.”

Soon after, Seraphina, Lita and Ness chilled in the hall.

“I’ve already made up mind,” Lita stated. “I’m voting for Tessa.”

“Look,” Seraphina stated, “I don’t want to…but I think we need to agree with the others in who to vote off, even if it isn’t Tessa.”

"What?” Lita asked. “I thought you disliked her more than I do?”

“Oh, I despise her,” Seraphina said. “She should be going home. But if we go against the entire team at our first elimination ceremony, it’ll cause a divide.”

“That would mean voting off…um Jasper?” Lita asked. “He doesn’t deserve that.”

“I’m not saying he does,” Seraphina said. “But we’re close as a team now, if we go against it we’ll get in trouble. It’s him, or us.”

“I have to agree with Seraphina,” Ness admitted. “If Tessa doesn’t improve, we can vote her off next.”

Lita sighed. “Fine.”


Lita knocked on a door.

Jimmy Jasper answered the door. “Oh I’m sorry, Ignacio isn’t in.”

“I’m not here to speak to him,” Lita said. “It’s Jasper, right?”

“Yes,” Jasper replied. “Yes, it is.”

“I just wanted to tell you…” Lita said.

That night, the Fizzled Fireworks were in the Internet café.

“This is technically not your first elimination ceremony Fireworks,” Rhonda said. “You all have voted once already, so before we begin does anyone have anything they’d like to say?”

Julio Jasper stood up. “Look, I’ve heard rumors that I’m going home. I just wanted to say to all of you that I-“

“Really? No one has anything to say?” Rhonda asked. “Then, let’s get to the vote!”

Jasper sighed.

The votes were cast. Toby handed Rhonda tray of coffee cups.

“I have ten coffee cups,” Rhonda said. “The one of you who doesn’t receive a coffee will be eliminated tonight and never comeback. EVER. The first coffee cup goes to…Ness.”

Ness tried to catch her coffee, but accidentally dropped it on the floor.


The three caught their cups.


The three bros raised their cups at being safe.

“Lita…and Zipporah.”

Zipporah swatted her coffee away.

“And the last coffee cup goes to…”

"-Oh cut the crap,” Tessa stated. “We all know how this is going to end.”

“Spoil the fun,” Rhonda whined, tossing Tessa her cup. “Sorry…uh…Jocast …but you’re going home.”

Jasper nodded and exited through the Revolving Doors of Shame.

The Fizzled Fireworks petered out quickly, leaving Jenny, Toby and Rhonda alone in the café.

“You know I feel bad for that guy,” Rhonda stated.

“What for?” Jenny asked.

“I guess because we never really gave him a chance. We never gave him any focus, even though he is on the show.”

“So?” Jenny replied.

“Why cast someone if you don’t plan on using them?” Rhonda asked. “It just seems unfair and maybe even...a bit pointless honestly."

“Somebody has to be the early out,” Jenny replied. “Might as well make them unimportant. Maybe someday someone will notice him.”

Lita sat in the voting booth with her legs crossed. “Everyone else is going to vote Jasper. Tessa did come down and promise to be nicer…she didn’t apologize of course. She barely talked to us. She’s not the one who deserves a second chance; Jasper does. So I’m voting Tessa. My team won’t be the wiser about it, so no biggie. It just doesn’t feel right voting off that poor boy.”

Chapter 6 Invade You Look

A black space; nothing, blank, void.

Then an echo; an echo of color rang out. The echo shimmered and waved, metamorphosing into an evolving rainbow of colors, each pertained their own sound. The echoes melted, merged into a cohesive melody that was not music. Through the color waves and sound hues, loud whispers trickled…

“Nothing but a dirty rat, waiting to trap you…”

“He plots…”

“The treasure lies below…beware of the treasure hunters…”

“He will be met…”

And then, the most familiar and yet foreign voice; “Don’t close your heart. Don’t live your life alone. Don’t, or you’ll become like me. Seraphina… Seraphina, don’t die like I died! Seraphina…”

Seraphina's eyes shot open. She gasped for air, having lost her breath. Seraphina sat in the floor of the lobby, meditating. Looking down, Seraphina saw her deck of tarot cards and slowly reached her hand forward and flipped over the top card.

The card depicted a human man and woman chained to an altar where a winged, goat-legged man sat.

“XV,” Seraphina whispered. “The Devil.”

“More mumbo jumbo?” Tessa asked as she exited the stairs.

Seraphina sighed. “Please not now.”

“What a surprise, you're practicing another scheme to steal someone’s money,” Tessa stated. “Don’t you have anything better to do?”

“Don’t you have anything better to do than make everyone miserable?”

Seraphina and Tessa turned to see Xidorn reaching the bottom of the steps.

“Oh wait I know you don’t,” Xidorn said. “Now shoo fly, shoo.”

Tessa sighed and walked off as Xidorn sat beside Seraphina.

“Thanks,” Seraphina said.

“No problem,” Xidorn replied. “Don’t let what Tessa affect you, she’s full of it.”

“Amen,” Seraphina replied. “Hey Xidorn…what do you believe in?”

“Um, well lots of things,” Xidorn replied. “I believe in equal rights, the power of art, unicorns-“

“-You believe in unicorns?” Seraphina asked.

"Of course!” Xidorn replied.

“But you’ve never seen a unicorn,” Seraphina stated. “People fake them all the time.”

“So?” Xidorn said. “People fake all sorts of things; evidence a certain unicorn is fake is not evidence against the existence of all unicorns. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I believe everyone has a purpose for existing. I can’t really see that…but I know it.”

“I guess that’s what having faith is, huh?” Seraphina asked. “Didn’t mean to go philosophical there. I should clean up my tarot cards.”

“I’ll help,” Xidorn said. He grabbed her box, but a locket fell out.

“Sorry,” Xidorn apologized, snatching it before it fell. Inside he saw a black and white picture of Seraphina, except she had a few freckles on her face and wore older clothes.

“Careful,” Seraphina replied. “This box was my great, great grandmother’s.”

“Why does she have a photo of you in it?” Xidorn asked.

"It’s not me,” Seraphina replied. “That’s her sister, when they were teenagers in Germany during the 1930s.”

“She looks just like you,” Xidorn stated.

“That’s what my family always says,” Seraphina replied.

“Wait, 1930s Germany?” Xidorn realized. “You mean like…during World War Two?”

“That’s why they immigrated to America…except for her,” Seraphina pointed to the locket.

“Why wouldn’t she leave?” Xidorn asked.

“My family says she was a black sheep,” Seraphina explained. “She isolated her, didn’t talk to anyone and didn’t keep up with the news. She refused to move somewhere new and...well, my family is Jewish…”

“Wow,” Xidorn said. “Not the way to start the morning, huh?”

“Yeah. I don't suppose you have any good news?”

Xidorn smirked. “Well, this weekend a big budget remake of The Invaders is coming out.”

“The cult classic movie with the alien animatronics?” Seraphina asked.

“That’s the one!” Xidorn replied. “I was thinking we both like monster movies, want to see it tonight?”

"I can't. I promised my roommates we'd hang out."

Xidorn nodded. "Maybe another time?"


She grabbed the old box and started to leave.



“I believe in psychics too,” Xidorn stated. “Don’t give up on it just because of what Tessa says.”

Seraphina blushed as Xidorn waved and left.

In the dining hall, Easton and Weston sat tables apart, glaring at each other.

Griswold strolled in in. “Hey dude. You ready for some breakfast brorritos?”

“Totally,” Easton said. “I can't wait to enjoy them...with my bro.”

“Oh yeah?” Weston said. “Well... I have a totally cool new bro from my team.”

“Who?” Easton asked.

“Um it’s…uh…” Weston mumbled as he eyed someone entering. “It’s Cynthia!”

Cynthia walked into the cafeteria carrying a dead cat.

“Cynthia?” Easton asked.

“Cynthia?” Griswold asked.

“Cynthia?” Weston asked. “I mean, yeah Cynthia! We’re going to go see that new horror movie later, right Cynthia?”

Cynthia stared. “Sure…”

Weston put his arm around Cynthia. “See you around...Griswold."

As they left, Weston whispered, thank you, sorry, please don’t murder me...

Griswold turned to Easton. “So I take it you and your bro haven’t talked?”

“If he wants to be childish and ignore me he can go ahead,” Easton replied.

“Even if it means he’s hanging out with a likely serial killer?” Griswold asked.

Easton sighed. “He won’t talk to me. I can’t figure out who told him.”

“I can’t believe someone from our team said something, “ Griswold admitted.

“Me either,” Easton replied. “But when I find out who, they’re going to be sorry.”

That afternoon, Lita, Ness and Seraphina stood in the lobby as a storm raged outside. Seraphina froze for a second as her eyeballs rolled into the back of her head.

“Eee!” Ness squealed. “I’m so excited we’re going to that huge mall!”

“Right?” Lita asked. “I’ve been thinking we should have a girl’s day out!”

Seraphina’s eyes rolled forward. She was shaking. “Yeah…sounds fun.”

“I’ve never really had a girl’s day,” Ness admitted. “Most of the girls in my grade don't like me. They place kick me signs on my back…well all the kids all my school do that…and my teachers…”

“Let’s hit it girls!” Lita cheered.

“Wait,” Seraphina said. “It’s pretty bad out…maybe we should wait until it clears up.”

“Is everything okay Seraphina?” Ness asked.

“Yeah it’s fine,” Seraphina said. “I’m feeling a little under the weather…”

Lita placed her hand on Seraphina’s forehead. “Do you need to see a doctor? Let me go get Rhonda. No, just to be safe we’ll take you to a doctor right now. Hold on honey, we will get you better!”

“It's not that bad,” Seraphina said. “I just…”

“It’s okay if you don’t want to hang out with us,” Ness said. “You don’t have to because we’re roommates.”

“Oh,” Lita replied. “Yeah, you don’t have to feel obligated.”

“My god no,” Seraphina replied. “I didn’t mean that. I like you guys, I didn’t know people were as nice as you are. I…I had a vision of some kind and I don’t feel like you two should go out there.”

“Oooh,” Ness replied. “Why didn’t you just say so? In that case we won’t go.”

“You mean it?” Seraphina asked.

“Of course,” Ness said. “I mean you are a psychic.”

"I’ll be honest,” Lita said. “I don’t know if I believe in psychic powers, but I trust you. If you got a feeling then I believe you.”

“Thanks,” Seraphina replied.

Suddenly a crack of thunder boomed. The next moment, a gargoyle statue smashed onto the bus stop.

Lita gulped. “If we were there we’d be-“

Another strike of lightning hit the fallen statue and blew it to bits.

“-Real dead,” Ness said.

Lita exhaled. “Thanks girl. Next time don’t be afraid to tell us.”

“Yeah,” Ness said. “We can have a girl’s day another time.”

“We could have one in our room’s today,” Seraphina suggested.

“Yes!” Lita and Ness shouted in unison.

Hayden walked in the kitchen to see Melissa and Aiden baking.

“What are you kiddies up to?” Hayden asked.

“Aiden’s being a dear and helping me bake cupcakes to sell for a new charity,” Melissa explained.

“New charity?” Hayden asked.

Melissa nodded. “I’m raising money to support a charity that makes shoes for dog’s feet.”

“Really?” Hayden asked.

Melissa sniffled. “Yes; just the thought of a poor puppy going on that long awaited walk only to hurt its little paws on a heated sidewalk…ooh…”

Aiden put his hand on Melissa’s shoulder. “Golly Melissa, it’s alright. The puppies will be fine.”

Melissa breathed. “You’re right…sorry, it’s just puppies and sadness should never mix.”


“Those must be the mango cupcakes,” Melissa stated. “Be right back.”

“So,” Hayden whispered, “You and Melissa are okay?”

“Right as rain again,” Aiden replied. “I’m having her teach me a few things about her religion, you know trying to get know more about her. Thanks for being there for me Hayden.”

“Of course,” Hayden replied.

“Frannnnnn something smells good.”

Hayden gasped. "Oh no."

Kalino and Frannie walked in wearing ‘disguises’; Frannie wore a monocle and fake mustache while Kalino wore only a powdered wig.”

Melissa walked back with cupcakes. “Oh hey Kalino and Frannie! Why are-“

“-Don’t encourage them,” Hayden stated.

“Anyway,” Aiden said. “I was wondering something Hayden? If its not too personal, what’s your boyfriend like?”

“I’m flattered you’d care to know,” Hayden admitted. “Here, I’ll show you a picture.”

Hayden turned on his phone; his screensaver was Hayden snuggling a man wearing a sweater with a maple leaf.

Kalino rubbed his chin. “Looks like Hayden likes his men like he likes his bacon; Canadian.”

“Zac is a foreign exchange student from Canada,” Hayden replied.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Aiden said. “Just cause we’re Americans doesn’t mean we have to hate Canadians.”

“Especially since this whole show is based on a Canadian cartoon anyway,” Frannie stated.

“Right…” Hayden replied.

The three Fireworks roommates were in their pajamas, braiding each other’s hair in their room.

“Alright I have to ask,” Lita stated, “Out of everyone here…anyone you think you’d date?”

Ness blushed. “Well…maybe.”

“Eh,” Seraphina replied. “Not really; I’m not that interested in dating.”

“Really?” Lita asked. “Why not?”

“It just seems kind of overrated I guess,” Seraphina admitted. “I’ve never dated anyone honestly.”

“I haven’t really dated anyone either,” Ness confessed.

“What do you mean by really?” Seraphina asked.

“It’s complicated,” Ness replied.

“Don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with,” Lita said. “But don’t be afraid to put yourself out there either. If you don’t try to be someone, you won’t know what you like or dislike in a person.”

“Do you know what it's like Lita?” Ness asked. “To love?”

Lita sighed. “It’s wonderful. To be with someone who makes you special. To find your other half, that person who can make you complete. I mean…I say that, but I have horrible luck with dating.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way," Seraphina said, "but I figured you'd have no trouble getting a date.”

“It’s not that,” Lita said. “I’ve dated guys, but it always end the same. With me being dumped. Take my last ex; this really nice, older guy in college. We dated for a while and then on our anniversary…he stood me up.”

“What a jerk,” Seraphina stated.

“It gets better,” Lita said. “It turns out he wasn’t in college; he was a married man. Even had kids. I was just his ‘ghetto girl’ on the side…”

Ness grabbed Lita’s shoulder. “That’s horrible.”

“He’s the one who gave you your scarf, right?” Seraphina asked.

Lita nodded. “When we broke up he gave it to me. I’m over it now, it just sucks is all."

“I get bad relationships,” Ness admitted. “I had this huge crush on my best friend and next door neighbor. When I was a freshman, he was a senior. He was my only friend at high school. And then during prom, he actually asked me out!”

“I don’t like where this is going,” Lita sighed.

“No, prom turned out to be magical,” Ness stated. “I mean I did end up getting diarrhea and hit by a bus, but it was still magical. We dated for a week; it was the happiest time of my life. Then it ended. On Monday, he told me he only dated me to make me happy. He knew I always liked him, but thought of me as more of a sister.”

“I hate it when they use that line,” Lita stated. “What a load of garbage."

"I mean do you kiss your sister?" Seraphina asked.

"Right? I’m so sorry Ness.”

“I wish he wouldn’t have done it on Valentines’ Day,” Ness said. “But I understood; he told me that he had always loved someone else…my dad.”

No,” Lita and Seraphina shouted in unison.

Ness nodded. “It ended up being pretty awkward, but they have a cute relationship I guess.”

Lita sighed. “I can not believe he was so…wait did you…do you mean….”

“My dad ended up falling for him,” Ness admitted. “They got married in a really nice ceremony.”

“I’m sorry, but what the ****,” Serphina said.

“I mean my dad’s happy and my first crush is a nice stepdad to my brother,” Ness said. “It worked out…except for me but I don’t mind.”

Lita hugged Ness. “That’s sucks, plain and simple. But maybe you’ll find someone here. I’ve heard lots of people have found true love on shows like this.”

Ness blushed. “I do kind of have this crush on somebody.”

“Girl spill it!” Lita said.

“Okay, okay,” Ness giggled. “I think Pascal is dreamy. I’ve always liked his music; he’s one of my top three bands along with Blainerson McManly or One Rejection.”

“Dancers do have great abs,” Lita said.

“I don’t know,” Seraphina admitted. “Some of things he says makes me want to throw up pink vomit. But if you like him, he has to be alright."

She smirked. "He was hanging on close to you at our last party.”

Ness blushed. “What do you like in guys Seraphina?”

“I don’t know,” Seraphina admitted. “I’ve had crushes on a couples guys…and girls, but there isn’t really a pattern.”

“Ooh,” Ness said, “are you bi or pan?”

Seraphina shrugged. “I don’t know, I’m just attracted to people I guess. I don’t really like to use labels.”


“I know they can be helpful to identify with, but I feel they can limit people too. Labels come with different expectations, and people will hold you to those expectations. I’m not ‘The Bisexual’, ‘The Pansexual’ or ‘The Psychic’…I’m just Seraphina!"

By now Seraphina was standing. She blushed and sat back down. "Sorry. Didn’t mean to rant there.”

“I don’t mind listening to rant when you need to vent,” Lita replied.

Ness nodded. “You have a pretty good point.”

Seraphina blushed. “Thanks. I’m in kind of a mood. Tessa talked to me, and you know how bad that is.”

“What the heck did she say now?” Lita asked.

“Just the same crap about my psychic powers,” Seraphina admitted. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t have them.”

“They're amazing!” Ness cheered. “And not just because they saved our lives. Why wouldn’t you want them?”

Seraphina sighed. “When I was little and realized I could see the future, I thought I could use my powers to help people. Like I could see a bad outcome and change it for the better. But then people accused me of being a fraud and my mother…she wanted to use my powers to make money. Once I couldn’t have a vision, to just make one up. We had paying customers. After that, I gave up on them..”

Ness and Lita hugged Seraphina.

“Well, your powers helped us today,” Ness said.

Seraphina blushed but hugged them back. “Yeah, I’m glad for that. Thanks for listening and stuff…I’ve never really talked about it with anyone.”

“That’s what friends are for,” Lita said.

“Another disgusting sight last night,” Tessa stated. “Lita, Ness and Seraphina all wore the same style of braids. It’s really sad actually; Ness and Seraphina are outcasts who are so desperate to fit in, they’ll follow around Lita just because she’s ‘popular’. Now they’ve formed their own little mean girl trio. Lita’s probably made it into an alliance. I’ve got to get rid of her…”

In the library, Tessa whispered to Zipporah

“…And then we’ll eliminate the popular squad,” Tessa explained. “We’ll form an outsider’s alliance. So, what do you say?”

“No,” Zipporah replied.

“What?” Tessa asked. “Why?”

“Do you want the list hand written or typed?” Zipporah said. “One, it sounds like another overrated facet of this show. Two, you’re mainstream. And three, you’re also a rude, narcissistic know-it-all.”

“If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black,” Tessa replied, then cringed. “Fine whatever, I don’t need you or your vote!”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Zipporah replied as she turned a page.

“Attention all contestants,” Jenny said over the P.A., “meet in the lobby in five for your next challenge! Rhonda says, be prepared to be scared…”

Tessa stormed off.

“The owner of this hotel was a misunderstood genius of his time,” Zipporah said. “Just like myself. He built this hotel over an Indian gravesite. And underground he constructed a series of catacombs, a torture chamber, a cathedral and a Mickey D’s. In case he worked up his appetite being even more amazing."

Cynthia carried a duffel bag and pulled out a chainsaw. “Scared? I doubt that.”

The contestants gathered in the lobby where Jenny and Toby waited.

“Everyone get on the bus,” Toby stated.

“But Mr. Toby where is Ms. Rhonda?” Melissa asked.

“Oh, so we’re not good enough for you?” Jenny pouted.

“You’ll hear from her later,” Toby said. “But first we have to get to the location for today's challenge.”

“Which is?” Pascal asked.

“Up your butt,” Toby replied. “Now stop wasting fuel, and more importantly my time, and get on the bus.”

The newcomers arrived at a lot of abandoned warehouses. The sun was almost set as they exited.

“Your challenge is simple,” Toby stated. “Find a PDA hidden in one of these warehouses. Once each team finds one, you’ll both be given more instructions.”

“Now lets get out of here before it happens,” Jenny added.

The bus sped off, leaving the contestants in the dust.

“These challenges just get more and more uncreative,” Hayden said.

“You’re surprised?” Zipporah asked.

The Molting Eagles and Fizzled Firework dispersed, splitting up to search the grounds.

Seraphina stopped at a warehouse and pulled up the door. She walked inside and started examining abandoned boxes.

As she did, Pascal snuck by. He slammed the door, then locked the handle from the outside. Seraphina banged on the gate as Pascal snickered and skipped away.

“You should have seen that coming psychic,” Pascal whispered. “Now when we lose, the team will blame you and you’ll go home. Serves you right for interfering with my flash drive search.”

“HEY!” Seraphina screamed and banged on the door. “HELP! HELP! Ugh…”

Seraphina slumped to the floor.


She looked up as Xidorn lifted the door. “Hey, you okay?”

“Yeah,” Seraphina replied. “Thanks to you.”

“Always happy to help,” Xidorn asked. “How did you get locked in here anyway?”

"I have the sinking suspicion someone wanted to trap me in here.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t work alone,” Xidorn suggested. “Let’s do it together."

"We're on opposite teams," Seraphina said.

"The challenge doesn’t start until both teams find a PDA," Xidorn replied. "If you don't want to, it's fine.”

“No, it's not that, ” Seraphina said blushing. “I actually like hanging out with you.”

“You mean that?” Xidorn asked.

“Yeah,” Seraphina replied. “You’re a cinephile, funny and I like how honest you are; it’s refreshing.”

“Same,” Xidorn replied. “I mean, about you. I like your snark.”

Meanwhile, Pascal skipped straight into Griswold.

Griswold picked up Pascal by his tee and dusted him off. “Sorry about that buddy, didn’t see you. But we got good news, Riley and I found two PDAs!”

“Yipee Skippy!” Pascal cheered. “Where are they?”

“I have ours right here,” Griswold stated. “Riley is giving the other to the Eagles.”

“What?” Pascal asked. “Why are you helping our enemies?”

"Slow your roll dude,” Griswold stated. “Just because we compete against the Eagles doesn’t mean we have to hate them. We can’t start till they do anyway, so let’s help them out.”

Pascal smiled but his eye twitched. “I’ve stumbled into some crazy alternate dimension, where I’m on a reality show…and people are playing nice! It’s so infuriating to try and actually play this game when no else is! Someone just kill me now!”

The elevator door opened as a green scorpion-like tail swung in and snatched up Pascal…

Seraphina and Xidorn walked together and laughed.

“You told your math teacher you thought she looked like the Wicked Witch?” Seraphina giggled.

“She asked what was on my mind,” Xidorn admitted.


Seraphina turned around and gulped. “You know how you wanted to see The Invaders?”

“Yeah,” Xidorn replied.

“There’s an early showing."

Xidorn turned around to see an alien, some kind of green reptile beast with no eyes, two mouths and a scorpion tail with a claw-like end.

“Holy peanut butter enchiladas!” Xidorn shouted. “That’s the original animatronic from the 1985 version of The Invaders! Do you think I could get his autograph?”

The invader thrashed its tail towards them.

“I don’t think he likes autographs,” Seraphina replied.

The alien growled and swung towards Xidorn as he tried to take a picture on his phone.

“Look out!” Seraphina screamed as she pushed Xidorn away, only for the alien to grab her instead. “Run Xidorn, run!"


"I’ll try and get you an autograph…”

“You're the best!” Xidorn yelled.

All the teams were running for the entrance as the invaders…uh, invaded. At the gate were two jeeps, each with a symbol for one of the two teams.

Riley, Griswold, Ignacio, Tessa and Zipporah hopped in the Fireworks jeep while Melissa, Weston, Cynthia, Hayden, Vance and Xidorn hopped into the Eagles jeep.

The two teams stormed off down separate streets. Suddenly their PDAs turned on, Rhonda appearing on their screens.

“Howdy everyone,” Rhonda greeted. “So, were you scared?”

“No,” Cynthia said as she drove the Eagles’ jeep.

“As you may know,” Rhonda continued, “the famous movie The Invaders has a reboot in theaters. For some promotional benefits, we have repurposed the original animatronics to use for a challenge!”

“Who would have guessed,” Zipporah stated.

“For this challenge, all you have to do is stop an alien invasion. Piece of cake. By which I mean you’re all doomed. As in the original, you must save the Earth by destroying the Queen Invader and her eggs, before they hatch and create an alien army. Oh and you have one hour until they hatch.”

A countdown clock appeared on the PDA and started ticking.

“This PDA will give you coordinates to a shed,” Rhonda explained. “In this shed are weapons you can use to defeat the Invaders, whose nest is somewhere in the hotel. The team whose destroys the queen wins immunity! However, if the queen survives past the hour…then both teams will be sending someone home. Good luck!”

The remaining Eagles soared down the highway.

“This challenge seems a teeny weeny bit unsafe,” Melissa said. “Wouldn’t you agree Hayden?”

Hayden jumped in place. “We’re going hunting gang! Aw man, what kind of weapons do you think we’re going to get? I call dibs on any shotguns! Oooh…uh, did you say something Melissa?”

“Nevermind,” Melissa replied.

“We aren’t in any real danger,” Cynthia stated.

“I suppose you’re right,” Melissa said. “I feel quite awful that we have to hurt those poor little killer aliens.”

“They’re inanimate objects Melissa,” Xidorn stated. “They can’t feel pain…”

Melissa nodded. “I know, but since we need objects for tasks shouldn’t we treat them respectfully and nicely for doing their job?”

“Amen,” Vance said as he wiped his nose on his sleeve.

“I guess I agree,” Xidorn admitted. “These were one of a kind animatronics back in the day; they should be in a film museum. But they’re tossed aside because of a reboot. How sad.”

“If it’s done, it’s done,” Vance said. “Throw it in the scrap heap and get the fancy smancy model. Ain’t it why we got reboots; for new, better things?”

“That's also true,” Xidorn stated. “It isn’t good to look at things through nostalgia glasses. Hmm…it almost feels like we taking existentially, doesn’t it? Like about something else.”

“I don’t know I’m partial to the original,” Weston admitted. “It was some of Cornelius Puckerschmidt’s best work.”

“You’re a Cornelius Puckerschmidt fan?” Xidorn asked.

“Does an Invader Queen have three reproductive organs?” Weston asked.

“Only in the special edition director’s cut of Invader 3: The Unnecessary Prequel,” Xidorn shouted. “I didn’t know you were a movie buff.”

“I just love monster movies,” Weston admitted. “Monsters are cool and badass.”

“Speaking of monsters,” Vance said. “The invaders are riding our goose to the hoedown!”

“Oh no,” Weston said. “They’re using their Hovercrafts of Doom from the original movie!”

The Eagles turn around to see the invaders driving a golf cart.

“They blew the budget on the animatronics,” Xidorn explained.

The invaders sped up, raising their claw tails.

“They’re gaining on us,” Hayden stated.

Cynthia said nothing but swerved into the opposite lane of incoming traffic and slammed the gas.

“Weeee!” Weston shouted as the jeep narrowly swerved away from a mini van.

“You’re driving like crazy!” Hayden said, almost drowned out by honks. “You’re going to kill us all!”

Cynthia didn’t respond, as she avoided a tanker. Out of her pocket she threw a knife into the tanker’s wheels. It spun out of control, toppling over and crashing into the golf cart. Both were consumed by a giant explosion.

“You’re welcome,” Cynthia said as she returned to her lane.

“That was AWESOME!” Weston cheered.

But the invaders charged out of the explosion, their skin melted away to reveal their metal skeletons. They snarled, ramming into the Eagle's jeep.

“Oh no,” Weston whimpered as he fell back, on holding on by grabbing the jeep's bumper. An invader’s tail clawed onto his throat.

“Man in danger!” Hayden yelled, as he ran to pull Weston away. “We aren’t letting them get you Weston!”

He, Xidorn, Vance and Melissa tried to pull Weston free.

The invader in the co-pilot seat hissed and snatched Weston’s leg.

Cynthia tried to swerve away, but the invaders hung on.

The other invader released Weston, to grab Hayden and pull the older boy off.

“Go on without me,” Hayden screamed. “I believe in all of-“

The invader sprayed Hayden with knockout gas and threw him in a trashcan on the sidewalk.

“Melissa take the wheel,” Cynthia stated.

Cynthia stood up and twirled out a knife. “I’ll kill them myself.”

Everyone backed way as Cynthia walked forward.

“Aah,” Weston screamed, closing his eyes as the invaders pulled him.

His hands slipped…but he felt someone grab his arm. He opened his eyes to see the claw tails swarming around him but then…


The tails were sliced off, green fluid oozing everywhere. Cynthia was covered in their fake blood as she bit off their hands and held onto Weston’s arm.

“Woah,” Weston swooned, his eyes growing wide and dazed…as romantic music mixed with the sounds of alien screams. A border of ribbons and flowers held by cupids surrounded Cynthia’s blood spattered face.

Cynthia threw Weston aboard.

“You saved my life Cynthia,” Weston sighed.

“You weren’t going to die,” Cynthia replied.

Weston glomped Cynthia. “You’re my hero!”

Weston blushed at Cynthia’s unblinking eyes and pulled away.

“I never noticed before but Cynthia is pretty cool,” Weston sighed. “And kind of cute. She actually reminds me of a serial killer or monster from a horror movie…she disturbs me, but I think I’m attracted to her…which disturbs me even more.”

Meanwhile, the Fireworks had arrived at the shed.

“Has anyone seen these movies?” Griswold asked.

“I tried to engage in one,” Ignacio admitted. “But I was continuously perplexed by the biologically unfeasible physiology of these ‘invaders’ and couldn’t immerse myself into the work.”

Griswold scratched his head. “Is that a yes or a no?”

“Dude look at these weapons!” Riley shouted.

Inside the shed were a series of water balloons, soakers and other water toys.

“Given their a few decades old enough water must cause a malfunction in their circuitry,” Ignacio predicted.

“Well I for one refuse to use any of these weapons,” Tessa stated. “I don’t believe in using violence.”

“Do you believe in getting captured by aliens?” Zipporah asked.

A metallic growl echoed out.

Tessa grabbed a water gun. “Fine.”

“I appreciate you doing this challenge to help the team Tessa,” Griswold said.

“I’m not doing this for you,” Tessa replied.

“I appreciate you doing it for whatever reason,” Griswold said. “I know you have reservations about this team, but we are a team and every member is important. That means you too.”

“As much fun as I’m having here, which is so much,” Zipporah said, “we need to get going before…”

A golf cart of Invaders rammed through the shelter.

“Nevermind,” Zipporah said, running out the front door.

“Everyone get out,” Griswold stated, punching off the head of the Invader. “I can hold them back.”

“Slow your roll G.I. Bro,” Riley said. “You aren’t fighting these things alone.”

“He’s not,” Ignacio said grabbing a water gun. “I’m going to stay and fight with him. Grab what you guys need and get of here, we’ll meet up after we take care of this.”

Riley sniffled and saluted her teammates, Tessa and her taking supplies and leaving. Riley drove herself, Tessa and Zipporah away in the jeep. Tessa watched as more Invaders came to the shed.

“Why did Griswold do that?” Tessa asked. “He could’ve tried to escape with us.”

“If he did we’d all be in danger,” Riley explained. “Gris Bear did us a solid.”

“Then why did Ignacio stay?” Tessa asked. “How would that benefit him in the long run? It means less people in the final fight against the queen, meaning we’re more likely to lose! He should’ve known the odds were bad.”

“He did know,” Riley said. “But he wanted to give him and Gris both a chance to make it out of there; he took those odds knowing they were bad. He was a real bro.”

“Now what?” Tessa asked.

“What do you mean?” Riley asked. “We win the challenge, that’s what! For all the friends we’ve lost in the challenge; for Gris Bear and Iggy Pop and Easton Shore and Lightning Lita and Seraphina Silverman and Loch Ness and for all the Fireworks and for ‘MURICA and every country and ever!”

Zipporah golf clapped and yawned.

“Do you have a nickname for everyone?” Tessa asked.

“Mostly,” Riley replied. “Why, you want one?”

“Please don’t,” Tessa replied.

At the same time, The Eagles were stockpiling their own weapons.

“The nest should be underground,” Xidorn said. “That’s where they always are in the movies.”

“And this is the part of the movie when the Invaders would try to ambush us before we get our weapons,” Weston stated.


“The hot southern one doesn’t die first right?” Vance asked.

“Get out of here,” Xidorn stated. “I can take them.”

Melissa gasped. “But Xidorn-”

Suddenly an ambush of aliens attacked.

“Save yourselves!” Xidorn shouted. “This is the part where someone makes a self sacrifice!”

The other Eagles drove off as Xidorn starting firing.

“Smile you son of a ******!” Xidorn yelled, throwing a balloon grenade at the invaders and firing off his water machine gun.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

The invaders collapsed in defeat.

Xidorn sighed. “Phew, that was easier than I thought it-“


“Clever girl,” Xidorn said before a claw tail grabbed him and carried him away into the shadows…

The Fireworks saw the hotel in the distance; thirty minutes were left on the clock.

“According to this Google search,” Tessa read off the PDA. “The Invader Queen is always underground.”

“Maybe she’s in the hotel’s basement,” Riley suggested.

“It doesn’t have a basement,” Zipporah said. “But, it does have a series of underground catacombs; that’s where they found most of the victims.”

“Of course it does,” Tessa sighed.

“Any ideas where in the catacombs the queen is Z?” Riley asked.

“Given how cliché this show is,” Zipporah said. “I’d assume it’d be in the center of the catacombs, where his torture chamber is. It’s right next to the underground Mickey D’s.”

"Nice!” Riley cheered. “We can get a burger after this is over. What do you want Tessa, a sweet tea? That’s it, Sweet T! That’s a killer nickname.”

“Please don’t,” Tessa said.

Riley crashed the jeep into the lobby. “We’ll deal with that later. Z, which way to the catacombs?”

Zipporah shrugged.

“How do you not know?” Tessa asked.

“It’s through a secret passage of some kind,” Zipporah replied.

“Alright Firework,s let’s find a secret passage,” Riley yelled before her stomach groaned. “As soon as I finish using the can.”

Riley ran to a nearby bathroom as Zipporah looked behind paintings while Tessa started tossing books off the shelf.

“Oh no!” Riley shouted. “The handle is stuck. It won’t flush.”

“Trying jiggling it,” Tessa suggested.

“Smart thinking Sweet T!” Riley replied.

"Don’t call me that,” Tessa replied.


“Uhh guys,” Riley said. “I think I found the secret passage…”

“Please don’t let it be the toilet,” Tessa murmured.

“It’s the toilet!” Riley shouted. “Jiggling the handle worked, in more than one way!”

Soon after the Eagles reached the hotel.

“Looks like the Fireworks are already here,” Melissa stated.

“Why do you say that?” Weston asked. They walked past the jeep still in the wall.

“We have twenty minutes left,” Cynthia stated.

“Where’s the door to that durn basement?” Vance asked.

“Let’s ask the front desk,” Weston suggested and dinged the reception bell. A secret doorway opened from the wall.

“I guess they didn’t hear me,” Weston said.

The Fireworks had found the center chamber of the catacombs. The only light came from torches lining the walls. Egg sacs were slimed upon the ceiling…with the captured contestants trapped inside.

The Eagles entered on a balcony above the .

“Oh my,” Melissa whispered.

Suddenly a high-pitched scream rang out. The torches blew out. Green lighting flashed. A huge, insectoid alien rose from the floor. She cried out as an army of invaders hatched from the ceiling and descended on the newcomers.

“How many animatronics did they make?” Tessa said.

Cynthia began shooting a water boozka and the others followed suit. A scorpion tail snatched Zipporah and threw her into an egg sac.

“I always knew I died thanks to mainstream media,” Zipporah stated as she was sealed inside.

“No Z!” Riley shouted. “You were such a good fr…you were so helpf…well I liked you!”

“Riley look out!” Tessa shouted as she shot an Invader.

“Thanks girl,” Riley replied as the two got back to back and blasted aliens.

“Looks like we’re going down,” Tessa replied.

“Then let’s go down together,” Riley said.

An invader growled behind them but they blasted him.

“Woo!” Riley cheered as she and Tessa high fived. “You’re slaying it Sweet T.”

“I said don’t call me that,” Tessa sighed but smirked.

“You know you love it,” Riley replied.

“Sorry to disappoint you all,” Melissa said as she was carried off. “But it seems I’m being sacrificed for their alien babies.”

“It happens,” Vance said as he was carried off as well.

Cynthia knifed another alien but an Invader tiptoed near her.

“Cynthia!” Weston shouted. “NOOO!”

Weston jumped forward and fell into the alien’s arm. The invader shrugged and kidnapped Weston.

Click. Click.

“I’m out of ammo,” Tessa said.

“Me too dude,” Riley replied.

An invader charged towards Tessa.

“Then I guess this is it,” Tessa sighed and closed her eyes.


“Guess again.”

Tessa opened her eyes to see Griswold and Ignacio charge in.

“You’re alive?” Tessa asked.

“Thanks to my teammate,” Griswold replied.

“Now we’re here to help our other teammates,” Ignacio stated as he tossed Tessa and Riley water guns. “We got five minutes left.”

"That’s all the time we need!” Riley shouted as she lead the charge towards the queen.

The Fireworks ran with their guns blazing, but the queen swatted them against the wall with her scorpion tail. The remaining invaders trapped them in egg sacs.

“It’s just you and me…”

Cynthia pulled her chainsaw out of her duffel bag. The alien queen growled.

Cynthia cocked her head as she descended the steps. "You think I'm afraid of you? You think I'm afraid of your robots or cursed hotel? You think I'm afraid of smoke and mirrors? I'm not afraid of anything.

"You’re nothing but a cheap trick. I know real pain, real hurt. I don’t need superstition or sound effects; all I need is a weapon. With just a knife, I can make you feel more pain and fear in a minute than you have in your lifetime.

"I know real fear. Because I control fear. Because I embody fear. Because I am the master of fear. You want to know and understand fear? Allow me to show you."

Cynthia revved up her chainsaw as the lights went out. The next sounds were the alien screams and Cynthia's chainsaw hacking the queen’s body in half, her slimy blood oozing everywhere.

The timer froze at exactly one second.

Cynthia yanked an egg sac off the wall and cut out Melissa.

“Oh deary me,” Melissa said. “You saved us Cynthia! You’re a hero!”

Rhonda, Jenny and Toby exited a small door with disturbed expressions on their face.

"Congrats on your win Eagles,” Rhonda announced. “We’ll see the Fireworks tonight. Right now I think I need a moment… to cry.”

"I talked to Pascal," Tessa explained. "I tried to convince him to vote for Lita, but he wouldn't agree to it! Some ally he turned out to be. Lita probably seduced him. I've had to deal my whole life with people like her; putting me down, trying to make me feel inferior. I won't let her do that to me anymore."

Tessa stomped down the hallway and ran into Lita, walking with Griswold, Riley, Easton, Seraphina, Ness and Ignacio.

“Oh hey Sweet T,” Riley greeted. “I got you a sweet tea for Mickey D’s.”

Tessa scowled and faced Lita. “Why don’t you watch where you’re going?”

“You’re the one who ran into me,” Lita replied.

Tessa stood up and walked off. “Whatever, I don’t have time for this again…”

“If you got something to say,” Lita said, “then say it.”

“So, uh do you want the sweet tea or…”

“I know your type,” Tessa replied. “You think you’re cool just because you break hearts. But everyone can see what you really are; you’re just making a fool of yourself. Imagine how your mother must feel.”

Lita clenched her fist. “You leave my momma out of this!”

“Why?” Tessa asked. “It makes the most sense; like mother, like daughter. Bet the rest of your family is messed up too, aren’t they?”

You…you…you…” Lita stammered.

“Lita don’t get mad,” Ness said. “She isn’t worth it.”

Lita held her fist up. “I’ve had to hear the same thing my whole life from people like you. But you leave my family out of it, you…you…ahhh…”

Lita started to cry.

Tessa stepped back.

“Come on let’s go,” Seraphina stated, as she and Ness walked Lita away.

Tessa grunted and stormed off.

"I’m sorry,” Lita sniffled. “I didn’t mean to cry…”

“You don’t have anything to be sorry about,” Ignacio replied.

"I can’t believe she started crying,” Tessa said. “She must’ve been faking it…right? Whatever, now she’s going to try and get me eliminated. But I have a trick up my sleeve…”

From her sleeve, Tessa pulled out a blue flash drive. “A immunity flash drive. Its said only an Eagle can use this one at an elimination ceremony…but that doesn’t mean it has to be used at an Eagles’ elimination ceremony. I just need an Eagle who'd use it to save me…”

The Fizzled Fireworks sat at the elimination ceremony.

“Well its two for two so far,” Rhonda said. “You guys know how this works, so let’s go to the voting-“

Kalino stumbled out of the voting booth. “Whoops, wrong place mannnnn.”

“What are you doing Kalino?” Rhonda asked.

“Nothin,” Kalino replied. “I just got lost looking for a bathroom.”

Tessa smirked as Kalino nodded her direction and left.

“As I was saying, let’s vote,” Rhonda said.

After the votes had been cast, Toby pulled out a tray of coffee cups.

“I have nine cups of black coffee,” Rhonda said.

“We ran out of sugar,” Toby said.

“There are ten of you,” Rhonda said. “Whoever does not get a coffee cup will leave through the Revolving Doors of Shame and depart of The Public Transportation of Losers. The first coffee cup goes to…Griswold.”

Griswold caught his cup.

“Next is…Zipporah, Easton and Riley.”

Toby tossed their cups.

“Ignacio, Ness, Pascal and…Seraphina.”

Seraphina caught Ness’ cup for her.

“Lita and Tessa; there is only one cup of coffee left. One of you will be going home…”

“…JK, we all know Tessa’s eliminated.”

Lita caught her cup and sighed in relief.

Tessa frowned, turned her nose and walked out the Revolving Doors of Shame.

“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” Seraphina sighed.

“Tessa wanted me to use this immunity flash drive on her,” Kalino stated.

He hold up the blue flash drive. “It would’ve actually worked too, which is pretty nifty. But Tessa would just get voted off next time. Why waste it on her when I can use it on myself? Man, it’s so easy to find these things.”

Tessa sat on a bench at a stop for the Public Transportation of Losers.


Tessa turned to see Riley holding out a sweet tea.

“Save it,” Tessa replied.

“Whatever,” Riley said. “I thought we worked great in the challenge together.”

“Is that why you got me this?” Tessa said.

“Yeah,” Riley replied. “And well…you looked kind of alone. I thought you might be different than you seemed. Hope you get your stuff figured out dude.”

Riley set the sweet tea on the bench and left.

Tessa sighed. She picked up the sweet tea as the Public Transportation of Losers arrived.

Chapter 7 Beauty and the Feast

Knock, knock.

Cynthia opened her door to find Weston standing there.

"Oh hey Cynthia, you're staying at this hotel?” Weston asked. “That’s so cool, me too. Did you here about this new romantic comedy Kiss Kiss Slap coming out? We should-“

Cynthia slammed the door in Weston’s face.

Kalino and Frannie sat with their arms crossed in the confessional.

“Hey what gives?” Frannie asked.

“Yeah,” Kalino said. “We hardly got any focus last time.”

“We were totally doing important plot related things last chapter,” Frannie pouted.

The scene changed to a flashback of one of the days before the Invaders challenge. A huge mall, the Tysons Corner Center, was shown.

“WEEEEEEE!” Frannie and Kalino shouted in unison as the slowly rode up an escalator in the mall. “WEEEEEEEEEE!”

A toddler holding his mother’s hand turned around. He rolled his eyes. “Losers.”

“What’d you say?” Kalino said. Kalino grabbed the toddler, which Frannie proceeded to punt the small child away.

The mother turned around. “Excuse me, did you just dropkick my son?”

“Heck yeah we did,” Frannie replied. “What are you gonna do about it?”

A few seconds later, Frannie and Kalino landed on their butts as they were literally kicked out of the mall.

Whelp looks like its time for Plan Q,” Frannie stated, putting on a fake mustache and monocle.

“Way ahead of you,” Kalino said, wearing a powdered wig as he started to strip.

Kalino and Frannie laughed and high-fived.

“We punked ya,” Kalino laughed.

“We totally weren’t doing anything plot important,” Frannie giggled.

Kalino and Frannie were still laughing at table in the cafeteria.

“You know Fran the Man,” Kalino said. “I’ve been thinking and well…I have an important question to ask you.”

Frannie froze. “Yes, Kalino.”

“Franne, would you do me the honor,” Kalino said. “Of joining my alliance?”

Frannie sniffled. “Of course I would! Wait…you have your another alliance?”

“Well,” Kalino whispered, “I’ve formed a secret one with a couple of dudes; I’d have told you earlier if it wasn’t so secret. I know our old alliance is kind of done with Diamonique gone, but we can fuse our alliances like a Dragon Ball Z character and go Super Sayian on this thing.”

“Ooh I love it when you make nineties anime references,” Frannie swooned. “Okay, let’s do it!”

“Sweetness,” Kalino said. “Now, the reason its so secret is because Pascal from the Fireworks is on. So we can’t tell anybody about this alliance. Especially anybody.”

“No problem,” Frannie replied. “I’m great at keeping secrets, like my dad’s horrible backne problem. Anyone else in our alliance?”

Bethany was,” Kalino stated. “And finally Vance.”

Frannie looked over to see Vance picking a piece of chicken from his gap tooth and farting at the same time.

“Vance?” Frannie asked. “Not to be mean but Vance-“

“-has a personality akin to a piece of toilet paper with a suspicious yellow liquid, some raisins and a large chest hair on it?” Kalino asked. “True, but that makes Vance, and his muscles, useful for the future.”

“Huh,” Frannie said. “I didn’t think of it like that. In that case, sounds like we’ve got a good plan. Thanks Kalino.”

“You know Kalino seems like a goofball,” Frannie said. “He is! Which is great, but he’s also a really sweet, trustworthy guy. Plus, he always has an open shirt showing off his pecs. I think I might…nah, I shouldn’t say that…too cheesy...”

At a separate table, The Fizzled Fireworks sat eating breakfast. Except for Zipporah, who was writing poetry in a dark corner.

“Hey everyone,” Lita said. “I want to apologize for my meltdown the other day.”

“There’s nothing to apologize for,” Griswold said. “If anything, we should apologize for not voting her off sooner.”

“Let’s just put behind us and forget it ever happened,” Seraphina said. “Or Tessa ever existed. Especially that last part.”

“I’m not someone to cry usually,” Lita said. “Or at least in front of other people. But my family…is very personal to me. I just don’t like to talk about them…”

“You know I think Frannie’s stopped stalking me,” Ignacio stated. “Maybe I’ve gotten uglier or something.”

“I wouldn’t say that sugar,” Lita teased as Ignacio blushed. “I believe she found herself a boytoy. Hopefully, she isn’t the only one.”

Lita motioned to down the table where Ness and Pascal were talking.

Ness giggled. “You tell the best stories Pascal, tell me again about you solved the puzzle and saved your team.”

“Gladly,” Pascal replied. “Well Amanda Picklestein came up and-“

Lita sighed happily. “Its beautiful thing when people can find happiness in love.”

“Yeah,” Griswold sighed, staring at Lita.

Lita dropped a cheese fry into her bra and reached down to remove it. Ignacio stared before blushing and looking away. “Yeah…”

Seraphina stared at Xidorn. "Yeah."

“I think I might really like Lita,” Griswold said. “I think. How do you know when you like someone? Like, really like them? Do I even have a chance? Girls never really seem to like me when I was small…I still feel small now…why is so hard for me? Ugh…”

“Lita is a rather pretty girl,” Ignacio admitted. “Not that I’m thinking about that or anything. I’m still not over my breakup with my ex Carla. Still…Lita is…never mind! Ididn’tsayanything!”

And now a poem by a poet not on the Hollywood paycheck,” Zipporah stated.

“The puppies in the shelter died,

And not a single person cried.

A million children starved and dead,

And not a single tear was shed.

An album is delayed a day,

A million tears people pay."

Zipporah motioned dropping a mike. "Thanks government politicians!"

Knock, knock.

Cynthia opened the door to see Weston standing there.

“What?!” Weston exclaimed. “Funny running into you here Cynthia. So there’s this Italian place here, even though we aren’t in Italy so maybe its not Italian but-“

Cynthia slammed the door in Weston’s face.

“I began to worry what the impacts of this show could be on young, still growing children,” Hayden stated. “I decided to do some observations on my teammates. I started simple with some projective tests; not always accurate but something to gauge them. My results were…”

“…Let’s do some word association Kalino,” Hayden said. “Just say the first word that comes to your mind; family.”

“sasserginormachoochongy,” Kalino replied.

“A real word,” Hayden replied. “Toxic.”


“…Now tell me what you see,” Hayden said as he held up an inkblot to Weston.

“Hmm,” Weston murmured. “I see…a piece of paper.”

“Yes, but what on the paper?” Hayden asked.

“Ooh,” Weston replied. “Hmm, it looks like…an inkblot!”

Hayden face-palmed…

…Just say the first word that comes to mind,” Hayden said, “bear.”

“Bear!” Frannie shouted.

“A different word,” Hayden said. “Let’s try again; sad.”

“Bear!” Frannie shouted.

Hayden groaned.

“It was a different word,” Frannie pointed out.

Hayden shook his head. “That-“

“-Bear!” Frannie yelled...

…Hayden held up an inkblot.

“Hmm,” Melissa said. “Ooh, I see a double rainbow in the sky, raining tasty yet dentally hygienic candy to all the children of the world, who join hand in hand to sing.”

Hayden looked down to see he had turned the inkblot backwards, onto a blank page...

“…Now say the first word that comes to mind,” Hayden said to Aiden, “Beauty.”

“Yosemite National Park,” Aiden replied.

“Hate,” Hayden said.

“Taxes,” Aiden replied.

“Handsome,” Hayden said.

“George Washington’s jawline,” Aiden replied…

“…The first word that comes to mind,” Hayden said. “Stars.”

“Space Wars VI,” Xidorn replied.

“Is that a movie?” Hayden asked.

Xidorn gasped. “You aren’t familiar with the Space Wars series? It’s one of the best sci-fi series ever! It started in the 1970s as a TV-show, Space Explorers.”

“Xidorn I don’t really-“

“-which in its third season was later retconned to be in the same continuity as Moon Family, the 1950s sitcom…”

“…Say the first word that comes to mind,” Hayden stated. “Ugly.”

“Your mama!” Vance replied, laughing until he knocked himself over in chair…

“..nnnnnnnnnnn…what was the question?” Kalino asked.

Hayden sighed and grabbed his temple…

“…Tell me the first word that comes to mind,” Hayden said. “Happy.”

“Murder,” Cynthia replied.

Hayden gulped. “Uhh, friends.”

“Murder,” Cynthia replied.

“Murder,” Hayden stated.

“Soon,” Cynthia said…

“…Inconclusive,” Hayden stated. “Very inconclusive.”

Knock, Knock.

Cynthia opened the door to see Weston standing there.

“Hey,” Weston said. “Listen, sorry I’ve been bugging you. I thought it’d be cool if we hung out; I’ve got some watermelons and a jackhammer if you want to smash them or…”

Cynthia slammed the door in Weston’s face…

…as she pulled him away by the arm.

In the library, Xidorn was reading Helga Potter and the Sorcerer’s Schnitzel when a series of bookshelves fell over. Xidorn turned to see Vance muttering swears and kicking pages.

“Everything okay Vance?” Xidorn asked.

“These durn books have darned dilled my pickle,” Vance replied. “Tried to find one on how to track animals but they don’t got no pictures in ‘em.”

“You could try reading them,” Xidorn suggested.

“Are you saying I don’t know how to read?” Vance asked. “Cause I do! Only poor people are illit…itlight…can’t read.”

Xidorn raised an eyebrow. “No one said you didn’t. I thought you said you tracked animals all the time back on the farm.”

“Uhh…well I do,” Vance replied. “But it's different in the city. I wouldn’t understand a city slacker to understand.”

“I’d be happy to help you if you need it Vance,” Xidorn said.

“Really?” Vance asked. 

“We are teammates,” Xidorn admitted. “I also like the library standing up.”

“Thanks but no thanks,” Vance replied. “I ride…alone.”

Vance struck a pose and froze in place. No one moved for a couple of minutes until Xidorn coughed and left.

Outside, Cynthia smashed watermelons as Weston watched.

“You’re really beautiful when you're maiming stuff,” Weston swooned.

“Thanks,” Cynthia replied as she smashed another watermelon. “This is was a fun thing for us to do.”

Weston giggled and fell back on the wall.

“Why aren’t you hanging out with your brother?” Cynthia asked.

“Oh,” Weston said. “Its kind of a long story, you don’t want hear it.”

“I asked,” Cynthia stated.

“Basically he doesn’t want me as a brother,” Weston replied. “He thinks I’m a burden and an idiot…which I might be.”

“You are what you believe you are,” Cynthia stated.

“True,” Weston said. “I came here to be closer with him, but now I know what he really thinks of me. I know I shouldn’t be so upset. I’m no better. I’ve always been secretly jealous of him. I feel like everyone knew he was the older twin, the smarter twin; it's not Weston, but Easton and Weston in that order. I feel like everyone thinks I’m not as good as him and I feel like I need him to be…something. I still loved him though…”

“You should think about your future,” Cynthia said.

“Yeah,” Weston sighed.

“You seem to be doing fine right now,” Cynthia stated.

“I am, aren’t I?” Weston asked.

“You two needed some time apart,” Cynthia said. "And still do."

"I think you're right," Weston said. "You know you're a really good listener Cynthia."

"I get that a lot," Cynthia replied.

Later that night, Pascal was pulling up rugs. “If it’s not in the plants, the flash drive could be in the floorboards…”


Pascal turned to see Seraphina standing behind him.

“Uh…oh my goodness!” Pascal stated. “Seraphina, you look great for two in the morning! Still can’t sleep, huh?”

“Yeah,” Seraphina replied. “And you lost your contacts again…under a rug?”

“Uh…yup,” Pascal replied. “I was cleaning the carpet earlier.” 

“You were cleaning the carpet in a hotel?” Seraphina asked. “Where there are maids?”

“It’s um…part of a new dancing routine,” Pascal stated. “You know how music videos have nothing to with the song but you gotta do something…anyway, you ready for the next challenge?”

“As long as it doesn’t involve aliens,” Seraphina stated. “At least I got Xidorn an autograph from that Invader.”

“A shame you got locked in that warehouse,” Pascal stated. “Maybe if you weren’t trapped you wouldn’t have gotten captured.”

Seraphina frowned. “I wasn’t trapped, I was released… I never told anybody about getting locked in.”

“I overheard the interns mention it,” Pascal replied, as he stood up and turned. “Anyhow, I found my contacts. Have the sweetest of dreams tonight Seraphina…"

“…while you can,” Pascal stated. “Because you won’t be sleeping here much longer. As soon as I have an excuse to vote you off, I will! You’ll slip up and I’ll be ready…”

“Pascal?” Seraphina said. “Yeah no, **** that guy to the ninth circle of heck, he’s the worst. I knew from the first moment I saw him he was fake! He’s a two-faced rat, plain and simple. Sooner or later, he’ll screw himself over. I just don’t know if I have time to wait for that…”

The next day, Melissa was baking in the kitchen as some of her teammates ate her treats. Another ding went off in the kitchen. Melissa pulled out chocolate cakes.

“Ooh goody I’ve been hankering for chocolate cakes,” Vance said.

“These are for another charity,” Melissa stated. “I’m helping a orphanage of deaf children form a chorus for a fundraiser. That way they can accomplish two dreams; becoming a singer and becoming a member of a family.”

“Durn,” Vance sighed.

“I’ll help you pack up Melissa,” Aiden said. “We wouldn’t want to be late.”

“What do you do to make your sweets so…uh, sweet?” Xidorn asked. “Do you have a secret formula?”

“Oh, I don't like to keep secrets,” Melissa replied. “Sharing is caring after all. I don’t know if I have a trick…I usually just think of my favorite things and sing about them; I could sing about them right now.”

“Well,” Hayden said, “you don’t have to-“

“-La, la, la, la, la,” Melissa sang. “Ohhhhh….

l like puppies and baby cats,

and their bellies’ warmness,

raising awareness about fruit bats,

and a joyful chorus!

Oh I love our beautiful universe,

I could sing about it verse after verse!"

“Please don’t,” Vance said.

Melissa twirled and jumped onto the counter.

Oh, I like each sneezing panda bear

the sound of bluebirds’ notes,

when a kids learns to share

and riding in row boats!

I like giving old people sponge baths,

Making friendship bracelets,

hiking down nature’s paths 

and giving tips to each waitress!

Oh I love our beautiful universe,

I could sing about it verse after verse!

I like flowers, colors and the sun, 

I like smiles, animals and children having fun!

Yes I think of all this and more when I bake,

But there is one secret ingredient in every pastry and cake,

To everything else my ingredient is above!

My secret ingredient is always…

“Drugs?” Vance suggested.

"Love ,” Melissa sang in a crescendo.

Hayden nudged Aiden, who clapped for her along with Cynthia. Weston and Kalino simultaneously sighed as they looked at Cynthia and Frannie respectively.

“Well, we better get going to the fundraiser,” Melissa stated. “We’ll be back for the challenge tonight. Ooh, let me grab the dolls I bought them. Be right back Aiden.”

“So,” Hayden whispered. “How are you and Melissa? Still okay?”

“Just peachy,” Aiden replied. “She’s actually been teaching me about the Quran. It’s pretty interesting; I don’t understand or believe everything in it. There are a lot of differences but there are similarities.”

“When are you going to ask?” Hayden said.

“Ask what?” Aiden said.

“You know,” Hayden whispered. “Ask her out!”

“Out where?” Aiden said. “Why would I want her out?”

“On a date!” Hayden shouted.

Aiden blushed redder than his shirt. “Ohh...can I do that?”

“You like her don’t you?” Hayden asked.

“I think I do,” Aiden admitted. “I mean Melissa is the most amazing person I’ve ever met in the whole world.”

“That qualifies as liking someone,” Cynthia stated.

I’m just saying you should ask her,” Hayden said.

“I finally found them!” Melissa shouted. “Would you get the cakes Aiden?”

“Gladly,” Aiden replied.

At the same time, Riley and Griswold were playing foosball in the game room.

“When did we get this game room?” Griswold asked.

"Someone found a secret switch to it in the wolf’s head mounted on the wall,” Riley replied. “Right next to the wax figurine who keeps changing poses. Listen dude, we got to have some real talk right now.”

“Dude is it my breath?” Griswold asked.

"Nah smells minty fresh from here son,” Riley said. “It’s about you and Lita.”

At that, the Griswold accidentally shot the foosball off the table, bounced it against the wall and landed it into his pompadour.

“Is it that obvious?” Griswold asked.

Riley nodded. “For real, as obvious as chili on cheese. Except maybe to Lita. So, you going to go for it?”

“I don’t know man,” the lineman replied. “I'm not sure I actually have a chance with her. I mean she’s out of this world.”

“Whoa there astbronaut,” Riley stated. “The only thing that will stop you is not having confidence, you feel me? You’re a beast man! You have a chance.”

“Eh, I have a bad habit of talking to girls I’m attracted to,” Griswald admitted. “I start saying gibberish and muttering and stuttering and-“

Riley grabbed Griswald’s face and looked him straight in the eyes. “Bro… confidence. I think she likes you; she has no reason not to, you’re the coolest guy here! You aren’t going to feel any better saying nothing!”

“You’re right,” Griswald stated. “Thanks Riley, you’re freaking awesome.”

“Duh,” Riley laughed. “Now get the ball out of your poof so I can beat you again.”

“I’ve seen my brothers go through a lot of broken hearts,” Riley stated. “So I know a thing or two about romance, not to mention having been in relationships myself. I’m there when a bro needs a push in the right direction."

"Another poem by another artist lost in the muddled mess that is the nature of reality," Zipporah stated.

"Dear world,

Is it you?

Or is it them?

Who is the origin of sin?


I blame my loser parents."

Later, the contestants gathered inside the cafeteria for the next challenge.

“Welcome contestants,” Rhonda said. “Today’s challenge was going to take place outside but…”

Rhonda turned on a television, where a reporter was on the streets in front of burning buildings.

“Authorities are encouraging all citizens of Washington D.C., to stay inside and avoid this incident. Reports suggest that this fire was the result of a car crash caused by a loose horse that has been reeking havoc all acr-“

A thrown chair destroyed the screen. Everyone looked to Vance, who hid behind Melissa.

“In any case,” Rhonda stated. “Today’s new challenge will be showcasing the diversity found in the states of the United States…”

In a puff of smoke two tables appeared. Each table had covered silver trays, with a red table cloth for the left table and a blue table cloth for the right table.

“I hope you're hungry,” Rhonda giggled, “because we’ve prepared a feast for all of you! JennyToby, what is on the menu tonight?”

Jenny and Toby popped up wearing chef hats.

“I’m glad you asked,” Jenny replied. “We have fried alligator on a stick, Californian chocolate covered scorpions, cornmeal pudding, Alaskan reindeer hotdogs, New Jersey tomato pie, Texan deep fried rattlesnakes, ghost pepper buffalo wings, smoked black bear, deep fried butter, aussie cheese fries, pickled pigs feet, and rocky mountain oysters…

“I love shellfish,” Ness whispered. “I’ll eat those.”

“Do you love deep fried gonads?” Zipporah asked. “Because that’s what rocky mountain oysters are.”

“Specifically bull gonads,” Jenny stated. “And an old favorite…a single strand of black licorice!”

The contestants gasp in horror.

“Have you no mercy or kindness in your soul?” Hayden asked.

“She doesn’t,” Toby clarified.

“First to finish their entire feast wins,” Rhonda stated. “Anyone who throws up is out of the challenge. Now, get chowing!”

The contestants all stared to grab food. Melissa eyed the feast nervously.

“I knew with my weak stomach I wouldn’t be able to contribute much,” Melissa sighed. “But I had to help anyway I could. I felt so awful thinking any of my teammates would have to eat it, so…”

Melissa grabbed the black licorice and held it in the air above her.

“No!” Aiden gasped.

"Melissa you’ve got so much to live for!” Hayden stated.

“Melissa please don't,” Aiden said, “I never even told you that I think I…”

Melissa forced the licorice down. “Huh, what did you-“

Melissa gagged and ran away to the trashcan where she started to vomit. The other Eagles saluted her for her sacrifice before continuing to feast.

Frannie coughed violently as she tried to eat a ghost pepper wing. “And I thought I was hot stuff. How can anyone eat these things?”

At the Fireworks table, Riley licked her fingers. “I feel like wings should be classified as soul food. Need any help with that smoked bear Gris Bear?”

“Maybe,” Griswold replied. “This kind of feels like cannibalism.”

Zipporah nibbled on a chocolate scorpion. “A beautiful, poisonous creature turned into a sweet treat; an epitome of everything wrong with the world.”

Back at the Eagles table, Cynthia began to eat the rocky mountain oysters. Weston joined in. Weston struggled while Cynthia didn’t even react.

“This isn’t what I had in mind when I said I wanted dinner with Cynthia,” Weston said.

Vance dipped the fried butter stick into the cornmeal pudding and swallowed it whole.

“Psh this ain’t nothing,” Vance said trying not to gag. “I eat country and fair food like this all the-“

Vance threw up over his white pants and dashed off, muttering about having had a big breakfast.

“More for me than,” Kalino stated, throwing the fries into the cornmeal pudding and ate it with his hands.

At the Fireworks, Lita finished the aussie fries and gasped as she saw Ness take the black licorice.

“Ness honey, don’t do it!” Lita screamed. “Don’t be a hero, there has to be another way!”

Ness shrugged and swallowed the licorice.

The Fireworks clapped while Lita placed her hand against the Jinx's forehead. “No fever…your stomach feeling okay? Is there any swelling anywhere?”

“Am I the only person who likes black licorice?” Ness asked. "Seriously, its pretty tasty."

Kalino finished off the ghost pepper wings for Frannie, who tried her best to eat a reindeer hotdog.

“I’m sorry Santa,” Frannie stated. “Please don’t give me coal.”

Meanwhile, Seraphina shrugged as she ate her reindeer hotdog. “Meh, I’m Jewish anyway.”

"That meat isn't kosher though, right?" Griswold asked.

“I’m not very good at being Jewish,” Seraphina added.

“So…whose eating the uh ‘oysters’?” Pascal asked.

Ness gulped. “I did say I'd try them earlier…so why not?”

Ness grabbed one of several and inched it towards her mouth.

“You’re not eating those family jewels alone!” Griswold stated as he put one in his mouth. “Mmm…not bad actually.”

Ness nodded and she chewed hers. “Could use a little sauce though.”

At the Eagles, Xidorn had almost eaten the chocolate scorpions while Hayden finished the smoked black bear.

“I’ve actually hunted black bear before,” Hayden said. “Deer too. My little sister Bambi actually bagged her first buck last deer season…”

Weston and Cynthia both reached for the last rocky mountain oyster. Weston blushed as their hands touched and drew back. Leaning over, Weston nudged it to her with his face.

Cynthia raised an eyebrow.

“Um…err…do you…I can…” Weston muttered before jolting up, accidentally knocking a fork into his arm. “Filho da ****!”

“You alright there Weston?” Xidorn asked with mouth full of scorpion.

Weston pulled out the fork. “Yes, just startled more then anything. This wild fork appeared out of nowhere!”

Xidorn eyes grew wide. “You sure? The bleeding suggests otherwise.”

Weston turned around to see blood spewing out of his arm.

“It’s like a fountain of blood,” Cynthia said as she ran her hands through it.

“Oh yeah, I tend to bleed a lot,” Weston admitted. “But it really tingles more than anything.”

“It looks like both teams are almost done,” Rhonda announced. “Who will win the challenge? Who will scarf and who will barf? Who will-“

“-Done,” Kalino interrupted, having chugged the whole jar of pickled pigs feet.

Rhonda stared. “Well. In that case, it looks like…The Molting Eagles win. Congrats I guess. See you at elimination Fireworks.”

The Eagles cheered while the Fireworks sighed.

“These are addicting,” Riley stated, eating a chocolate scorpion.

“You do know the challenge is over?” Griswold asked.

“Yeah,” Riley replied, eating another scorpion. “It's rude to let food go to waste though. You want one?”

Griswold’s stomach moaned. “I’ll pass, I think I had too many gonads…”

“We did it Melissa!” Aiden cheered.

Melissa held thumbs up as she continued to retch.

"It was seeing Melissa throwing up in that trashcan when I realized I loved her," Aiden stated. "I knew what I had to do."

That night, Melissa was sweeping the kitchen when Aiden walked in.

"You still feeling fine?" Aiden asked. "That poison isn't having any more effect on you, is it?"

"I'm feeling like sunshine," Melissa said. "Thanks for checking on me though."

"You were really something," Aiden said, "making that sacrifice for the team. A real hero."

"I wouldn't go that far," Melissa said.

"I would," Aiden said. "I'd tell everyone what a hero you are Melissa; a person like you comes around only once in a lifetime. I'm glad I meet you."

"I was thinking the same about you," Melissa admitted. "Anyways, I should-"

"-I really like you," Aiden said. 

Melissa dropped her broom. "Really?"

"Yes," Aiden replied. "Do you want to...go on a date?"

"Yes. Yes! I'd love to!"

Melissa glomped Aiden who joined in laughing, holding her up and turning her around.

"I really like you too," Melissa replied.

"Huh," Aiden said. "That was easier than I thought it would be. Why doesn't everyone do that?"

At the same time the Fireworks gathered at the Haunted Internet Café Ceremony.

“Whelp, that’s three strikes against you Fireworks,” Rhonda stated. “And somebody’s out!"

Seriously though,” Jenny said. “You guys have been sucking lately.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Seraphina sighed.

“I have eight cups of jalapeno coconut flavored coffee,” Rhonda said. “This stuff expired a few days ago, but somebody bought it, so we’re using it! The first cup goes to Riley.”

Riley, still eating chocolate scorpions, caught her cup and dunked a scorpion inside. “Meh, not bad.”

“The next cups go to Easton…Lita and…Pascal.”

The three caught their cups, with Pascal pouring his out in a near plant, which immediately shriveled up and died.

"Ness, Seraphina and Griswold.”

The three caught their cups.

“And the last coffee cup goes to…”

“…Ignacio. Zipporah, you’re done.”

"What!” Zipporah yelled. “Why the hell did you vote me off? I didn’t do anything!”

“That’s kind of why,” Ignacio said.

“I did the challenges,” Zipporah retorted.

“Yeah but everyone else tries in them too,” Lita replied. “Its more because...well..."

“Because of your attitude,” Griswold clarified. “You’re always making negative or sarcastic comments. It brings everybody down and we need positive attitudes to stay winning.”

“To be honest I didn’t think you wanted to be here,” Ness admitted. “You always act like you don’t. You complain about the show.”

"We want to," Griswold said. "We like being part of a team. You don't. You never come to meetings, or parties or even eat with us. You act like you don’t like us or this team.”

“I don’t think I’ve even had a conversation with you,” Easton said.

“I don’t actually know your name,” Pascal admitted. “I think its like Estrella or Lana or something.”

"Sorry Z,” Riley spoke up, looking away. “It was a tough call and I didn’t want to vote out a pal…but I’m not positive we’re pals.”

Zipporah sighed. “Whatever. I totally don’t care, I mean this show is super mainstream so I guess its good I’m leaving and stuff.”

“Then leave already!” Jenny yelled.

Zipporah stomped out the Revolving Doors of Shame.

The Fireworks started to leave. Lita stood up but felt an arm on her shoulder. She turned to see it was Griswold.

“Uh…uh…uh…eeek! eeek! eeek!” 

"Are you making dolphin calls?" Lita asked.

“Can Gris Bear talk to you in private for a sec?” Riley translated as she walked away.

“Sure Griswold,” Lita replied. “What’s up honey?”

Griswold gulped as he noticed Lita and him were the only ones in the room. “Um well…you…your..."

Zipporah boarded the Public Transportation of Losers and sulked her way to the back and slumped in the last seat.

“Who cares I was voted out?” Zipporah whispered. “I don’t. It’s not like I was enjoying the hotel or having a good time or anything. I wasn’t."

Zipporah shuffled in her seat and looked out of the window. "I mean, I guess could’ve tried to make friends while I was there. Maybe that would’ve been nice. Whatever…”

The bus doors closed as the bus drove away to parts unknown in the world…

Chapter 8 Sexy and I Snow It

That night after elimination, Toby and Jenny walked into their secret headquarters, seeing Rhonda curled into a ball on a rolly chair and muttering to herself.

Toby sighed. “What is causing you to have an existential crisis and reflect on the mistakes of your life this time?”

“The network moved our time slot,” Rhonda wept. “We’re airing at two on Saturdays!”

“They moved us to two p.m.?” Toby asked.

"No,” Rhonda exclaimed. “Two a.m! No one will watch us at that time! That’s a death sentence! We’re as good as cancelled.”

“Well, it was fun,” Jenny said. “Except for all the parts I didn’t like.”

“We...I worked so hard for this!” Rhonda screamed. “Do you know what I had to do to get this job?”

Toby and Jenny groaned. “Not the Canada stories…”

“I had to work for Canadians to get this job!” Rhonda yelled. “I had to have Canadian speaking lessons! Every time we had a box of doughnuts, someone had to explain the life story of Tim Hortons to me and why we have that instead of Dunkin Doughnuts!”

“Your poor, poor child,” Toby said. 

Rhonda fell to the floor sobbing. “Oh god…oh god I’m a failure! Once again I failed to live up to my dreams…”

Toby gritted his teeth and very slowly put his arm on Rhonda’s shoulder. “Come on Rhonda…there has to be something we can do.”

“You’re right,” Rhonda said. “If we’re stealthy, we can change our names and run away to Mexico to-“

“-No, not that,” Toby replied.

“Yeah,” Jenny said. “Me and Toby tried that once before and trust me, it did not work.”

“There must be a way to save the show,” Toby replied. “I'm sure people are streaming it if not watching it on TV. Total Drama has a big fandom.”

“Yeah,” Rhonda sniffled. “Tthe company still wants to hold on to the rights as long as they can, even if only to ensure others can’t make money off it. We just have to prove we’re worth a second season! We’ll cut our budget, we’ll do more product placement, jam in more celebrity cameos…whatever it takes.”

“Really?” Jenny asked. “Because I have a few ideas…”

“What did you have mind?” Rhonda sighed.

Jenny smirked. “Lots of things.”

“We did get people talking with your idea about Aiden before,” Rhonda admitted.

“Have I ever let you down before?” Jenny asked.

“Every second of every day since I first met you,” Toby replied.

“YOUR MOM!” Jenny yelled.

“Alright Jenny we’ll try it,” Rhonda stated. “Do you have plan?”

“A duh!” Jenny replied. “It’ll just take a while…”

At the same time, Lita had thrown open the door to her room. 

“I was getting worried when you didn’t comeback,” Ness said. “I know it's silly but…this hotel just gives me the heebie jeebies. You okay Lita?”

Lita hummed and twirled into the bathroom. “I’m more than okay; I’m wonderful. Girls…it happened!”

“Your time of the month?” Seraphina asked.

“No I start next week,” Lita said. “I just got asked out on date!”

Ness gasped and hugged Lita. “That’s so exciting!”

“Whose the lucky lad?” Seraphina said.

Lita smiled as she started to brush her hair. “Griswold; he’s such a sweetheart.”

“Gris?” Ness asked. “I know you thought he was cute, but you’ve never really talked about him. I didn’t know you liked him.”

“Why wouldn’t I love Griswold?” Lita asked. “I mean he’s funny, handsome, kind…honest. Everything you’d want in someone.”

Seraphina looked down. “Yeah...”

“I’m a little jealous,” Ness admitted. “But so happy! What should we call you guys; Grista or Litwold?”

“I'm happy with whatever,” Lita admitted. “You know if I can find someone here, you two can definitely find someone.”

“I’d always heard stories of people meeting on reality shows,” Lita said. “They hang out, fall in love, date and end up getting married…like they found their soulmate. I thought if I joined maybe I’d find someone …and it actually happened! That feeling when you find someone to love, it just feels so great, like I could do anything.” 

“Yeah…someone honest,” Seraphina whispered. 

“Don’t close your heart!” 

“Seraphina!” Ness screamed as the psychic fell to the floor.

Ness and Lita grabbed Seraphina and brought her to the bed. 

Lita ran her head over her forehead. “Doesn't feel like a fever…but we need to call first aid anyway.”

“I’m fine,” Seraphina said. “Just had a tired spell for a second.”

“Don’t give me that honey,” Lita said. 

“Really I’m fine,” Seraphina insisted. 

“Is it… your powers?” Ness asked. 

Seraphina looked away. “Yeah…they’ve been crazy lately. I think it's this place…they act up a lot here.”

“If its spirits talking to you,” Ness said, “then I guess hotel must have a strong connection with them…or just a lot of ghosts.”

Lita shivered and hugged Seraphina. “Is there anything we can do to help?”

“You mean besides giving me a room and putting up with me?” Seraphina said.

Ness laid next to Seraphina on the right. “You’re not a burden Seraphina; we’re glad we're roomies and friends.”

“Then that’s all I need,” Seraphina replied. 

Meanwhile in another room, Pascal was pacing on the floor while Kalino played games on an old Gamecube. 

“I can’t believe they voted off the goth tonight!” Pascal exclaimed. “The goth is never suppose to go home this early." 

“Who did you vote for again?” Kalino asked.

Ignacio,” Pascal replied.

“Why?” Kalino asked.

“The hot guy always usually gets out around this time,” Pascal replied. “I hadn’t really heard anything, so I assumed that was the plan! It makes more sense than getting rid of the goth!”

“Mannnnnnnnnnn,” Kalino said, “are you telling me you’re surprised your team voted off someone who never talked to them and hated everything?” 

Pascal stared. “When you put it like that....”

Kalino shrugged. “Woahhhhhhh, do I get Vivian this chapter?”

Pascal slumped into his bed. “At least things can’t get any worse.”

“Don’t jinx it,” Kalino replied…

Early that next morning, many of the newbies gathered in the dining hall. Melissa was in the kitchen making everyone pancakes. Tiptoeing out of the kitchen, she laid a plate in front of Aiden, who sat across from Hayden

Melissa kissed Aiden on the cheek. “Good morning my little shmoopy puppykins.” 

Aiden turned red. “Good morning Melissa. Gee wilkers, this breakfast sure looks scrumptious…”

Aiden looked down at the heart shape pancakes with a smiley face made out of berries. 

Hayden giggled. “You two are adorable, glad it finally happened.”

Aiden and Melissa blushed. “Yeah…”

Melissa turned back to kitchen, but not before Aiden kissed her on the cheek in return. 

At a nearby table, Frannie  sat alone. 

“Care to share a meal?” Kalino asked as he gave her a plate of heart pancakes. 

“I’m not that hungry,” Frannie said. “You’re up earlier than usual.”

“I’ll take a siesta in the afternoon,” Kalino replied. “I uh... wanted to start my day off with you.”

Frannie blushed. “Thanks. Hey I was thinking...who are we planning on voting off if we lose?”

Kalino shrugged. “Whoever is the most convenient at the time. I think our alliance needs more people to have fire power though. Do you think you can get Melissa and Cynthia on board?” 

“I don’t know,” Frannie said. “I don’t really talk to them anymore.”

“Really?” Kalino asked. “Why not?” 

Frannie shifted her eyes. “I’ve figured out how Diamonique went home.”

Kalino gulped. “Really?”

“Melissa and or Cynthia voted her off!” Frannie replied. “I mean we had ten people; you, me, Diamonique, Melissa and Cynthia. That would make half of the votes; Diamonique and Aiden would be tied.”

“I actually never about about that before,” Kalino said, “According to Pascal when the votes were tied in the original, there was a tiebreaker challenge.”

Frannie nodded. “That’s the rumor going around. But there wasn’t a tiebreaker, so one of them had to flip more than a sandal wearing dolphin! I mean Diamonique didn’t vote herself off. I didn’t vote for her. I know you wouldn’t vote her off Kalino; you’re the most trustworthy person here.”

Kalino looked down. “Yup, I sure am worthy of trust... Sorry to bring this all up Fran The Man.”

“Nah, we need to plan ahead if we don’t want to end up getting a kick to our keisters,” Frannie said. “I just wish I could make it up to Diamonique. And watching Aiden so happy with was suppose to be Diamonique here.”

I’m not one for revenge or anything,” Kalino said, “but maybe at the next vote we should teach them how it feels to lose a friend…”

Later, Ignacio was walking down the hallways when…

“You jerk!” a girl screamed, as Vance dodged a vase she hurled. “It's bad enough to schedule a date as the same time as ours, but with my sister?”

“How in Sam Hill was I suppose to know that was your sister?” Vance shouted.

A girl identical to the other stepped out of his room. “We’re twins you nitwit!” 

“What can I say?” Vance replied while tugging at his collar. “You’re just as hot as billy goat’s ass in a paper patch.”

The girls hissed and chased after the cowboy. Vance ran beside Ignacio and shoved him into the girls before ducking into a doorway. 

Ignacio blushed as he landed on top of the twin girls and brought them to the floor. 

The twins smirked. “Oh...hello there.” 

Ignacio jumped up. “…”

The twin girls stepped towards Ignacio. “You ever been with twins before?” 

Ignacio gulped and bolted with the girls chasing after him. “Why does this always happen to me.” 

Inside a room, Vance sighed. “I think I lost them.”

Xidorn raised an eyebrow. “They must have been pretty scary.”

Vance jumped. “What are you doing here?”

“This is my room,” Xidorn replied. “And from what I heard, I take it you're hiding from a bad date?”

“Dates,” Vance corrected. 

“Well, I’m happy to hide you,” Xidorn said. “Griswold’s gone out for his date with Lita.”

Vance snapped his fingers. “Shucks. I guess I’ll let the mountain man date her; she’s not really my type.”

“Because she beat you in a fight?” Xidorn asked.

Pssh, of course not,” Vance gawked. “I let her win obviously, didn’t want to hit a girl. If I wanted her, I’d have. Ain’t no creature I can’t tame.”

Xidorn shrugged. “If you say so. Hey, did you ever figure out that issue with the book about tracking?”

“Uh...of course I did!” Vance replied. 

“Oh,” Xidorn said, “I was reading up on how to track and trap animals if you need any help.”

“Really?” Vance asked.

“To be honest,” Xidorn said, “I figured you need more than one person if it's a big animal.”

“Well uh...I obviously don’t need help,” Vance said. “I mean I’ve captured animals on the farm since I was a midget. But you know if you really want to see a pro show you how it's done, I’d be happy to.”

“Sure,” Xidorn said. “I don’t have anything else going on right now.”

“Uh, well I’m hankering for some lunch actually,” Vance said. “So it’ll have to be another time. Like I said, I ride alone.”

Xidorn shrugged. “Alright. Good luck on the dusty road ‘partner’.”

Vance opened the door but stopped. “But I mean...if you want a few quick tips on tracking, you can come with me.”

Xidorn jumped up. “To be honest I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

“It’s not as great as you’d think,” Vance replied. “Trust me.” 

Later, Easton tiptoed into the kitchen, shifting his eyes to make sure he was unseen. He came into the serving hatch, where Melissa was stirring a bowl of marshmallow fluff.

“Good afternoon Easton,” Melissa greeted. “I was just making marshmallow bunny treats. Would you care for one?”

“Bunnies?” Easton asked.

Melissa nodded. “I love bunnies! I find fluffiness therapeutic. That’s why I love kitties too, and koalas and puppies and ducklings…Ooh! Maybe I should make a zoo of little marshmallow baby animals.”

“Before you do that,” Easton continued, “I wanted to ask you a question.”

“It’d be my pleasure to answer it,” Melissa replied.

“You room with Cynthia,” Easton said. “What’s she like?”

“Cynthia is a dear!” Melissa replied.

Easton raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

Melissa smiled. “She’s really great at listening and helping with problems. And she’s so driven too. Why?”

“Don’t tell my brother,” Easton whispered. “But he said Cynthia is his best friend. I wanted to make sure he’s okay; he’s not getting in with the wrong crowd…or worse. Have you seen them hanging out?”

“Oh dear, Cynthia’s never mentioned it,” Melissa admitted. “We usually hang out together, but she is quiet and goes by herself a lot…I suppose she could meet Weston…”

“I don’t know it,” Easton said. “It seemed silly, but Cynthia doesn’t seem like the type of person to want to hang out with Weston…or anyone.”

“You think?” Melissa asked.

Easton nodded. “I’m trusting you here Melissa, so please keep me updated if you notice anything. And please don’t tell anyone…my team couldn’t do that for me the last time.”

“I promise,” Melissa replied.

Easton tiptoed away as Melissa looked down at her marshmallow fluff, which she accidentally spilled on the counter.

“I never thought about it before,” Melissa admitted. “But, could I have forced Cynthia into being my friend? I thought she was alone and needed a friend, but what if just been annoying her? What if she doesn’t want me around, but is too nice or afraid to say something? That couldn’t be true…right?”

Griswold ran up to the others, with Lita trailing behind. “You guys will never guess who we met at our date at the mall!”

Riley smirked. “Date? How’d it go lovebirds?”

“Wonderful,” Lita sighed.

Griswold blushed. “Yeah it was awesome…”

“Wait, what’s this about meeting someone?” Ignacio asked.

“Oh yeah, is Pascal around?” Griswold asked.

“He’s over there by the painting with the moving eyes,” Seraphina stated, pointing to Pascal chatting with Ness. “Why?”

“We have a surprise for him,” Griswold explained.

“…So there I was on the motorcycle,” Pascal explained. “When out of nowhere this giant chicken-“

A deep laugh rang out, sounding simultaneously like snorting and wheezing.

Pascal froze. “No.”

“What’s wrong?” Ness asked.


“Dear god…it can’t be…”

Pascal felt deep breathing on his neck as he turned around to see a short girl standing behind him. She wore a red sweater and thick-framed glasses on her potato like nose, with her black hair in a messy bun.

“Amanda Pickelstein,” Pascal whispers to himself.

The girl tackled Pascal to the ground. “Oh my god, Pascal! It’s me Mandy, Amanda Picklestein? Remember? Huh? Remember? Remember, Remember, we met on that reality show and become best friends and we were in the finale and I beat you and I won a hundred thousand dollars? Remember that? That was so long ago I remember it like it was yesterday! Do you remember?”

Pascal’s eye twitched as he forced a smile. “How could I forget?”

I’m like so excited to see you!” Mandy went on. “It’s been so so so so so so so so long, like since the show ended! I know we promised to hang out, so I tried texting, and calling and emailing and using a carrier pigeon to contact you! But I never heard a reply? Isn’t that crazy? So so so...”

“Well I’ve just been busying touring and…” Pascal said.

“…I even went to all your concerts to try and see you but I could never get backstage? Isn’t that crazy? I think its crazy! I heard about you being on this show in Washington, which is so crazy, and I always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore and Yosemite Park and I thought maybe by fate (or destiny), I’d run into you! And I met your cute friends and they brought me here and now I’m talking to you! Isn’t that crazy? So how are you Pascy-Wascy, having a good time? You look good (your body still looks totally able to make babies) and OHMYGOD you’re wearing the hat I gave you! Isn’t that crazy? Have you made lots of friends? Ibetyou’vemadelotsoffriendslikehowwebecomefriendsremember, RememberwhenIpeedintheriverwhenwewereattherivetheoneontheshowisn’tthatcrazyblahblahblablah….

“Ahem,” Ness coughed. “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of meeting…her.”

Pascal turned around. “Oh yes, where are my manners. Ness this is Amanda Pickelestien; Pickelstein this is my good friend Ness.”

“You can call me Mandy,” Mandy wheeze-snorted.

Seraphina jumped in front of Mandy and shook her hand. “So nice to meet you Mandy! Pascal is always talking about you, always telling stories about you.”

“Really?” Mandy asked. “Oh Pascy-Wascy!”

Pascal grabbed Mandy’s shoulders and pushed her towards the door. “It was so great seeing you Mandy, but we’ve got a challenge coming up and I know you’re busying being in first place so-“

“-Oh,” Mandy said, “yeah you’re probably super busy with this new show and new experiences and new friends; I wouldn’t want to intrude. I’ll just be going…”

“Wait,” Seraphina stated. “I could not live with myself if I let you leave now. I think I speak for the whole team when I say, we’d love to have Mandy around.”

“The more the merrier!” Griswold stated as the others nodded.

“Really?” Mandy asked.

“But wait,” Ness said, “um…well you probably can’t stay in the city for too long, can you Mandy?”

“Oh yeah,” Mandy stated, “My hotel reservation ends today. I have to catch a flight home tonight.”

Pascal snapped his fingers. “Aw darn…oh well, nice knowing you Amanda!”

“Now wait,” Seraphina said, “I mean the thought of you and Mandy reuniting just brings me joy, Pascal!”

Pascal’s eye twitched. “It would, wouldn’t it?”

Seraphina smiled and nodded. “Now if only there was a place Mandy could stay; maybe something close by, with a bed…like a hotel…”

“WE’RE IN A HOTEL!” Mandy exclaimed.

“Oh yeah, we are in a hotel,” Seraphina ‘gasped’.

“Why don’t you stay here Mandy?” Griswold asked. “There are plenty of rooms.”

“I don’t think Rhonda would allow that,” Pascal said.

Thirty seconds later…

“I don’t know if I can allow that,” Rhonda stated. “I mean I can’t give away rooms willy nilly.”

Pascal exhaled.

“Not even for a celebrity?” Seraphina said. “I mean I’m sure Mandy would do cameos for the show in exchange for a room.”

Rhonda gasped. “Celebrity cameos!”

Thirty more seconds later…

“Here’s your room key Mandy!” Rhonda stated. “Right across from Pascal’s room!”

“YAY!” Mandy cheered.

“Yay,” Seraphina laughed.

“Yay…” Pascal cried.

“Yay.” Ness gritted. 

“Am I mad that Amanda Picklestein has followed me here just so she can stop me from winning this show, the show I’ve dreamed about winning since I was young?” Pascal asked. “And by doing so would crush all of my dreams and once again lord over me that she’s a winner? Hardly! Ha. Where would you get that idea?”

“I’m probably overreacting,” Ness said. “I mean sure Amanda and Pascal were close before, but that doesn’t mean they’re interested in other, right?. It's not like I have a chance with Pascal anyway.”

That night, Xidorn was up watching movies as usual.

“Hey,” Seraphina said. “Mind if I join you?”

“Of course not,” Xidorn replied. “I’m just watching Space Bigfoot 5: Revenge of The Loch Ness Monster.”

Seraphina sat next to Xidorn on the couch. “The best one.”

“Right?” Xidorn said. “I mean the camerawork is underrated.”

Seraphina giggled. “So listen…is there anyway I can still see the Invaders remake with you?”

“I’m actually going to go see it Sunday with Vance,” Xidorn admitted.

“Oh…” Seraphina said. “You and Vance are close?”

“We’ve actually gotten friendlier,” Xidorn stated. “But I don’t have plans for Saturday, if you want to go to a midnight premiere?”

“Yeah, I’d love to!” Seraphina replied.

“I thought you weren’t big on theatres?” Xidorn stated.

“I’m not,” Seraphina said, “But I’ve been thinking and …I’ve never really wanted to be close to people; I felt people hated me for being a psychic, or use me for my abilities, so it’d be better to be alone. I mean no one could understand what I was going through, what I saw, so what's the point in trying to get close to people?

"But being on this show...I realize I do want people in my life. So what if there are other people in theatres; all that matters is someone I like is there. I like you Xidorn, and I don’t want to pass up the chance to know you with you.. ”

Xidorn smiled. "I like you too Seraphina, a lot. I love spending time with you, talking to you...The truth is I've had a crush on you since you beat me in the first challenge. Do you want to make that movie...a date?" 

Seraphina blushed. "I've never dated anyone...but I want to. Let's make it a date!" 

The two leaned in close, before Xidorn pulled back and let go of Seraphina's hands. “Seraphina, you know...I’m transgender.”

“Yeah, so what?” Seraphina asked, holding his hands again. "You're also honest, kind...and have 'great' hair." 

Xidorn laughed. “You’re amazing.”

The two leaned into and kissed. 


“Ooh, Space Bigfoot and Robbie Nessie Jr. are fighting!” Xidorn exclaimed.

“This is the best part,” Seraphina said. 

The two quickly kissed, then turned back to the TV screen, still holding hands…

That afternoon, Hayden had gathered most of the Eagles together for lunch and a ‘daily’ check up on their mental health. Kalino strolled in and rested his head on the table.

“There you are Kalino,” Hayden said. “I was getting worried buddy.” 

“Mannnnn I was just enjoying a nap,” Kalino said. “Not sure why we have these team check ups now.”

“To make sure this show isn’t taking a toll physically or psychologically,” Hayden stated. “You know sleeping all day isn’t good for your health.”

“Its not healthy to worry so much dude,” Kalino replied.

“I’m just concerned little guy,” Hayden said. “You are a lot smarter than you seem Kalino; I’ve recognized that. I think you should recognize that as well.”

Kalino raised an eyebrow. “If you say so.”

Hayden put his hand on Kalino’s shoulder. “You have tons of potential. If you pushed yourself and worked harder you could accomplish a lot with your life.”

Kalino removed Hayden’s hand and stood up. “Thanks for the advice mom, but I’m good.”

Kalino walked off, with Frannie following him soon after.

“What did I say?” Hayden asked.

Soon, Frannie found Kalino meditating in the library and sat down next him.

“Are you okay?” Frannie asked.

“People like that just annoy me,” Kalino admitted. “I mean why should I be trying harder; pushing myself harder and harder…for what? Stress and unhappiness? Never feeling satisfied? Always telling myself I have to try harder? Always waiting for that moment I feel my life’s choices were validated, when I feel all the misery was worth it? That’s not living. That’s not what I want for my life.”

Frannie rested her head on Kalino’s shoulder.

“Sorry Fran I didn’t mean to get worked up,” Kalino replied. “But dude should just mind his own business, let me.”

“Kalino, what do you want for your life?” Frannie asked. “Not to be too personal…but you never say what…”

Kalino shrugged. “I…I don’t know…I guess all I want is a carefree life. But the only people who could do that are the mega super rich.”

“If only we were rich,” Frannie sighed. “Then we’d have no problems.”

“I’ve been thinking,” Kalino stated. “We’re in an alliance but there is nobody who I want in the Final 2 more than you. So let’s make a deal.”

“A deal?” Frannie asked.

“We both have things we need with the money,” Kalino said. “So if one of us wins, we split it; a million for each of us.”

“You’d be willing to share the prize money with me?” Frannie asked.

“A million sounds like plenty to live off,” Kalino replied. “More important, you need the money to keep your circus open. A place that spreads laughter and cheer shouldn’t close down mannnnnnnn.”

Frannie glomped Kalino. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. Let’s do it. Let’s be the final two!”

In the mess hall, the Fireworks were talking amongst themselves. Pascal, with bags under his eyes, slumped into a seat. 

“Are you alright Pascal?” Ness asked. 

“Uhh...I’m just a teeny weeny bit exhausted,” Pascal replied. “Amanda Picklestein has worn me out.”

Ness frowned. 

“I still can’t believe we met a famous reality show contestant like her,” Griswold said. 

Pascal glared. 

“Hey dudes,” Riley stated, “is anyone else seeing that outside the window?”

Everyone turned to see snow falling outside. Rushing towards the window, The Fireworks could see everywhere, from the buildings to the fire hydrants to the gargoyle statues, was coated in snow. 

Ness gasped. “It’s a Winter Wonderland! Like a…Christmas miracle!”

“It’s not Christmas,” Seraphina pointed out.

“What about the tradition of Christmas in July?” Griswold asked.

“It’s still June Gris,” Seraphina replied. “I’m not saying it isn’t a miracle, but Christmas? It’s probably a…”

“All contestants report to the lobby!” Rhonda announced.


The teams gathered in the lobby, where Rhonda, Jenny and Toby wore hideous sweaters.

“As you’ve probably noticed the weather is a bit mixed up,” Rhonda stated. “But the challenge isn’t snowed out; its snowed in!”

“What does that even mean?” Ignacio asked.

“It means today is a snow themed challenge okay!” Rhonda shouted. “Here, take some snow jackets.”

The Eagles received blue jackets, while the Fireworks received red jackets.

“Toby fixed up some old wood chippers and paper shredders into snow machines,” Rhonda explained. “With these and a lot of old AC units and fans, we’ve closed the block and turned this place into a winter wonderland.”

“You made it snow in summer Tobdog?” Riley asked. “Nice bro!”

Toby and Riley pound fists.

Rhonda raised her eyebrow. “Ahem, if I may finish. For this challenge we need each team to pick a leader, who will have to make decisions for this challenge.”

“I’ll take charge,” Hayden stated, stepping forward. “I am the oldest.”

“And the biggest weenie,” Frannie whispered to Kalino.

“Good choice Eagles,” Jenny praised.

“Who's going to go for us?” Griswold asked.

“My votes for you Teddy Broosevelt,” Riley said.

“Me?” Griswold asked. “You think I should be the leader?”

“You are the most perfect choice,” Lita swooned.

“I’d trust you to do an amazing job,” Easton stated as he patted his back.

“Okay,” Griswold gulped. “Then I guess I’ll do it.”

“I’m a lineman in football,” Griswold stated. “My job is to be a wall. The quarterback is sort of the head honcho. I’ve never really been a leader before. But I guess it’s worth a shot…”

Griswold and Hayden followed Jenny and Toby into another room.

“The two of them will make decisions such as about your snow fort,” Rhonda stated. “A snow fort you’ll use in today's’ classic challenge; capture the flag! Simply steal the other team’s flag and place it in your fort. However, we only have a few hours to do this before Washington shuts us down. If time is up and we don’t have a winner, whoever flag is farthest away loses.”

Eventually the teams were driven by Jenny or Toby in pickup truck. The snow machines shot out flurries of snow and made Washington seem like it was in a snowstorm.

“I can’t even say my hand in front of my face!” Weston exclaimed as Jenny dropped off the Eagles outside a castle made of snow. Hayden waited outside and rushed in after his teammates. 

“I’ve been debriefed on the challenge,” Hayden said. “Likewise, I’ve chosen the location of our snow fort in the perimeters of the challenge; we’re as far south as you can get, against the wall.”

“So where are the Fireworks?” Aiden asked.

“Each of us was privately shown a map and had to decide our fort’s location on the map,” Hayden replied. “The Fireworks’ fortress could be anywhere on that map, a straight path from this wall to another.”

“So it's like a needle in a haystack,” Vance said. 

“Not quite,” Hayden said. “These forts are huge! The Fireworks are just as blind as us in this snowstorm; we’ll see their fort before the Fireworks see us in the snow.”

“Doesn’t that mean the same thing happens when they come to our fort?” Weston asked. 

Hayden nodded. “True, but our castle’s location is why we have a time advantage.”

“Oh golly I get it!” Aiden exclaimed. “Given our location, we just have to go in one direction, north, and we’ll eventually run into the fort!”

“Exactly,” Hayden replied. “We’ll split into two groups; a hunting party and someone to keep the castle safe. I’ve chosen for us to have extra ammunition, so we can pelt any intruders.”

Hayden pointed to a huge pile of pre-made snowballs. 

“Everyone needs to have a partner and stay with them at all times,” Hayden stated. 

“But we’re already in two groups,” Vance said. 

“The buddy system never fails!” Hayden exclaimed. “It’ll keep us safe, especially if we get separated. As the leader, I’ll be on my own and lead the hunters.”

Melissa smiled. “Well if I can I’d like to go with my friend-”

“-I’ll take Weston,” Cynthia stated. 

“Eee!” Weston squeed, as he jumped into Cynthia’s arms. 

Melissa raised an eyebrow. “Oh, well in that case I’ll go with someone else.”

Aiden grabbed her hand and the two both blushed. 

“To be honest,” Xidorn stated. “Vance and I have been working on tracking, we could help in the hunt.” 

Vance’s eyes grew wide. “Uh…”

“Sounds like a great plan,” Hayden stated. “You two and Weston and...Cynthia will go hunting with me. Your four, stay guard here with snowballs ready.”

At the same time, The Eagles discussed their plans. 

“So that’s the uh basics yeah,” Griswold said. “We were given the choice between ammunition or an extra floor to the fort, so I choose the extra floor for defense. I mean if it comes down to it, it's whose flag is the farthest that loses. We need a strong defense.”

“Nice thinking Gris Bear,” Riley said. “So what’s our game plan?” 

Griswold smiled. “Like I said, we need a strong defense. So me, Lita, Ignacio and Riley will guard the flag, as the most muscular and or biggest fighters. Seraphina, Easton, Pascal and Ness, you’re the fastest or smallest, so you’ll sneak in and steal the flag.”

“Seems like a good enough plan,” Seraphina stated. 

“Before we split,” Griswold said, “I just want you to tell you guys, I know we got this. We’ve had our troubles, but we’re a team and I believe in everyone of us. I think the Eagles have gotten a little too used to be up on top and forget who they’re against. Today, we’ll remind them! Go Fireworks!”

“Go Fireworks!” The team cheered, before departing. 

“Griswold if I may propose a suggestion?” Ignacio asked. 

“Sure brah, what’s up?” Griswold asked. 

“I was thinking we should try and create a barricade out of snow around the door,” Ignacio stated. “We can compact the snow outside for use.”

“Nice!” Griswold said. “It’ll wear them down to push through layers of snow, and gives us a warning. Let’s do it! Hey, you wouldn’t happen to have any ideas on how to make a cannon would you?”

“Cannon?” Ignacio asked.

“I thought it’d be useful to fire snow at the Eagles when they’re outside our gate,” Griswold suggested. “Like with a cannon.”

“I suppose if I had the proper materials, even household objects, I could theoretically create a snowball making and firing mechanism,” Ignacio replied. 

“Dude, go dumpster diving!” Riley suggested. “I bet that could have something useful.”

“That might produce sufficient resources,” Ignacio stated. “I can smell garbage from here. I’d need a hand, but I could do it.”

“Okay,” Griswold said, “Lita do you think you could help Ignacio out?”

Lita winked. “Don’t want me distracting you, huh? Sure, I can help Iggy out.”

Griswold blushed as the two ran out to the trash.

Later, The hunting Eagles were out on patrol, without much luck.

“I’m not picking up any signs anyone’s been this way,” Hayden admitted. “No tracks, nothing moved...just perfectly laid snow.”

“Hey look!” Weston exclaimed. “I found footprints! Right behind us!”

“Those are our footprints you moron,” Vance stated.

Cynthia turned to Vance, who yelped and backed away. 

“I’m not even finding signs of any Fireworks on the move,” Xidorn said. 

“Hey Cynthia,” Weston whispered. “Are you cold?”

“I’m outside in a snowstorm,” Cynthia replied.

“Oh yeah,” Weston replied, “I was just thinking, if you want to be warmer, you can borrow my jacket!” 

“You’ll freeze to death without it,” Cynthia stated. 

“Uh, yeah,” Weston sighed. 

Cynthia pushed herself against Weston. 

Weston blushed. “ okay Cynthia?” 

“We can share body heat like this,” Cynthia stated. “We’ll both stay warm.”

Weston hugged Cynthia. “Sounds like a great plan to me.”

As Griswold and Riley packed the snow, Lita and Ignacio brought in some garbage. 

“Old spoons could scoop some snowballs and ah, some discarded wheels could make a conveyor belt…”

“How are you so scientific?” Lita asked. 

Ignacio blushed yet smiled. “I’ve always had an interest in science since I was little. It’s a marvelous thing, being able to explain the world. Truth is I’ve always wanted to be a science teacher, like for high school. Maybe even a college professor. Doesn’t pay as well at the model bussin-”

“-Don’t talk like that honey,” Lita interrupted. “If it's what you want to do, you need to do it. I bet being professor pays pretty well at the right college.”

“Maybe,” Ignacio said. “But I make more in a month than my father makes in a year. My parents were very poor in Chile, spent their life savings to immigrant here so their kids would have a better life. They don’t speak a lot of English. We’ve been very poor. I guess looks fade...might as well make money while I can.”

“I understand,” Lita replied. “Really family lives in a ghetto. We don’t even own a TV. It use to be real bad but when my brother was born...well that’s not important.” 

“Thanks for understanding Lita,” Ignacio replied. “What about you? What are your plans for your future?” 

“Me?” Lita asked. “I...I guess I always dreamed of getting married, being a housewife, having lots of kids to love and being a good mother.”

“That’s a noble idea,” Ignacio replied. “Raising children is a full-time job. One of the most important jobs there is.”

“It should be,” Lita replied. “Anyway, will this contraption work?” 

Ignacio replied by flinging a snowball at Lita...right in her cleavage. 

Ignacio blushed. “I...I’m not...that aimed for your face, I was looking at your face.”

Lita laughed. “You’re fine. I know you’re not a pervert. Wish you could build something to heat up this place.”

“Well...I suppose I could,” Ignacio said. “It maybe theoretically snowing here, but its still a hot summer’s day. They’re keeping this snow cold with fans, but if we harness the sun’s rays we could melt it.”

“We’d need to reach the sun first,” Lita replied. “Like a really high rooftop…where you could see the whole block, even the other fort!”

“Exactly!” Ignacio replied. “We could build a machine that can melt their fort, which we could see from the roof. Let’s tell Gris our findings and get to it!”

At the Eagles’ fort, the four guards were shoveling in the snow.

“Why are we doing this again?” Frannie asked.

“It’s a trench,” Aiden replied. “I figure it’ll be another obstacle for when the Fireworks come and serve as a warning to start firing.”

“A brilliant plan by sweet boobear,” Melissa stated as she snuggled a blushing Aiden. 

“Just avoid the special snow our ‘guest’ left behind mannnnnnnn,” Kalino stated. 

Another hour or so passed and the Fireworks were still in the snow. 

“I think we’ve been going in circles,” Easton said.

“How can you tell?” Ness asked.

“We’ve passed that old lady on bench five times now,” Easton stated.

“Hello!” a familiar looking old lady greeted from a bench. 

“Oh Pascy Wascy!” a voice called. 

“Not now…” Pascal mumbled.

At the same time in the Fireworks fortress…

“Well that snow should serve as really strong defense,” Riley stated. “You’re a great captain Gris Bear.”

“Aw geez it's nothing,” Griswold replied. “Wouldn’t be doing it without your nomination.”

“Say, why did you choose this location?” Riley asked.

At a nearby roof of a skyscraper, Lita and Ignacio set up mirrors. Using binoculars made from empty soda bottles, Ignacio scanned the city. 

“Do you see the Fireworks’ fortress?” Lita asked.

“Wait a minute…”

The Eagles hunting party stared at a wall with graffiti of Obama and Trump making out. 

“I didn’t know they were a couple,” Weston said. “Good for them!”

“We scoured this whole place for hours and haven’t found a durn thing!” Vance yelled. “I mean where haven’t we looked?”

“To be honest…”

“...Who knows about processed cheese?” Mandy asked. “Oh and can you believe the weather we’re having in Washington? In the summer? A blizzard, and not the one with M&Ms! Isn’t that crazy? I mean I love Dairy Queen-” 

“-It’s part of the challenge,” Pascal stated.

“Ooh!” Mandy said. “That explains those other nice contestants snow bathroom I used earlier.”

“Wait,” Pascal said, “Amanda you went in the Eagle’s snow fort?”

“Do you think you could do us a favor and tell us where you saw it?” Seraphina asked.

“Wouldn’t that be cheating?” Mandy asked.

Pascal smirked. “Rhonda doesn’t have a rule against it.”

“Then no problemo romeo!” Mandy replied. “See, I got lost looking for a bathroom because I ate so much bran cereal this morning, and do you like bran cereal cause there’s are so many varieties of bran cereal, isn’t the crazy? Some with raisins, some with bana-“

“-Mandy,” Seraphina interrupted. “You were telling us about the fort, please.”

“Oh yeah,” Mandy recalled and pointed south. “It’s right against that wall.”

Pascal sighed. “Mandy, our team is the Fireworks, you know that right? Because our fort is against that wall.”

Ness raised an eyebrow. “You don’t think…”

“...See I put it against the wall because we’d have a straight path to the opposite team,” Griswold stated. “Make it easy to find them in this blizzard; a castle would stick out.”

“Well isn’t it strange we’ve heard nothing?” Riley asked. “I mean maybe Lita and Ignacio will see it. I just feel like it's been under our nose…”

...the only place we haven’t been is back to our fort,” Xidorn stated. “Which is against a somewhat lengthy wall.”

Hayden raised an eyebrow. “Do you really think what you’re implying?”

“Think what?” Vance and Weston said in unison.

“The fort could be anywhere on the map,” Cynthia stated. 

Vance and Weston looked at each other and shrugged…

“...Wow,” Lita said, as she looked through the binoculars.

“Yup,” Ignacio replied. 

The camera panned down to show the Fireworks snow fort...then panned out to reveal the Eagles’ fortress is only a few feet away. 

“I’m ashamed of all us,” Ignacio stated. 

Soon, most of the others had figured it out, except maybe Vance and Weston, and were running back to their forts. 

“Let’s tell Griswold and the others what’s up,” Ness suggested. “With our extra floor, we might be able to jump onto their roof, get in their castle and steal their flag!”

“Nice thinking Ness,” Seraphina stated. 

“Really!” Mandy cheered.

“Why are you following us?” Pascal asked. 

“I insisted,” Seraphina said. “I want to give you two as much time as possible to reconnect.” 

Pascal’s eye twitched. “You’re too kind.”

The Fireworks arrived at their fort and the Eagles came soon after. 

“Look!” Xidorn shouted and pointed at a sun beam hitting their fort, which was slowly melting. 

“We’ve got to warn the others,” Hayden said. “I fear this is the Fireworks’ plan. Weston, you and your partner go ahead and start for the flag.”

“They may have the sun,” Weston stated, “but we have something just as strong; a Cynthia.”

Cynthia revved up her chainsaw and stormed the Fireworks’ fortress. 

“Let’s get a getting!” Vance yelled. “Tally hoooooo-ah!”

Vance face planted into the trench. 

“Fire!” Aiden yelled as a barge of snowballs went out. 

“Ahh, what kind a snow is brown!” Vance yelled.

“I told you not to use it brah,” Kalino said. 

“They’re outside!” Riley shouted. “Activate the snow scopper dopper!” 

Ignacio’s contraption went off, firing even more snowballs at the Eagles. 

In the Fireworks fort, Cynthia and Weston were having a hard time breaking through the door, the chainsaw slowing cutting through the snow.

“The barricades working but I don’t know for how long,” Griswold stated. 

“From the window we can swing right through to their roof,” Easton stated. 

“Use two ropes,” Ness said. “Easton you throw me on the first rope.” 

“Why?” Easton asked. 

“I predict my bad luck will cause this to be painful,” Ness said. “But maybe with enough force, I can use that to crash in there and give us an opening.”

“Whatever works,” Easton said. 

On the nearby skyscraper…

“The mirrors aren’t generating enough heat,” Ignacio said. “They aren’t going to melt the fort fast enough.”

“Any ideas on how to make those beams hotter?” Lita asked. 

Ignacio sighed. “Well...I could take off my clothes.”

“Excuse me?” Lita asked. 

“No,” Ignacio stated. “I’m not, I don’t want you to see, not because you’re ugly because you’re very pretty…. I’m not doing it for a thing cause you’d have to take yours...but I don’t wanna see that, I mean I do, I mean I don’t! Not that your...I’m sure naked you’re nice...oh god I just said that…I don’t want to see you nude!”

“Oh,” Lita said turning away. “You want to use your supernatural looks to make it hotter, gotcha. Just say that next time.”

“Right,” Ignacio said as he stood directly in the sunbeam and revealed his abs. The sun bounced off his chest and burst into light.

“Is it working?” Lita asked, facing away.

Ignacio sighed and unzipped his pants. “Not enough…”

Here it goes,” Easton said as he threw Ness on a rope.

“Eep!” Ness exclaimed as the rope snapped on her and she plummeted through the roof, trapping the guarding Eagles under her and the falling snow.

“Super duper amazing job Ness!” Pascal said, as he swung in through the Ness shaped hole in the roof. 

“I try,” Ness coughed. 

Suddenly a burst of light shone out, burning the entire Eagles snow fort. 

Ness and Pascal shrugged. They grabbed the flag and walked over to their fort, placing it in.

The snow stopped falling and Rhonda’s voice rang out. “The Fizzled Fireworks win the challenge! I’ll be see the Eagles to decide the next loser.” 

“It actually worked!” Ignacio cheered, hugging Lita.

“Uh, Ignacio?”

“I’m still nude aren’t I?”


The Eagles sat in the mess hall. All except Vance, who was absent. 

“I’ve called this meeting to decide who should go home,” Hayden stated. “I figured to make sure we we’re doing what’s best for the team we have a group consensus on the vote.”

“I do enjoy the idea of discussing the vote,” Melissa said. “But I don’t think we all have to the vote the same way. Voting someone is terribly hard for me, I imagine it is for all you as well. Everyone should vote for what they feel is best.”

“Well let’s at least discuss the matter,” Hayden said.

“Where’s Vance?” Frannie asked. 

“Late,” Hayden said. “Fittingly, I think he’s the one that should go. Let’s face it; the guy’s all talk with little follow through. He rubs us all the wrong way, like sandpaper against our skin.”

“He is mean,” Weston admitted. 

“Like heck your clicking my icon tonight!” Vance yelled, stomping in. “You’re just jealous of me, have been since the start."

“I can see you're not what you say you are,” Hayden replied.

Vance stepped back. “Why you...I’ll return the favor to you!” 

“I think we should keep Vance,” Xidorn stated. “I believe we should vote off someone who hurt us in the challenge.”

“Who hurt us in the challenge?” Aiden asked. 

“To be honest,” Xidorn admitted, “you.”

“Me?” Aiden asked. 

“Your trench was the cause of a whole storm of problems at the end of challenge,” Xidorn stated. 

“The trench was a good plan,” Hayden defended. “Unfortunately, we we’re right next to each other and The Fireworks had chosen the higher roof. Aiden couldn’t have known.”

“Could have looked before he fired,” Vance said. 

“You could have looked where you were going ‘cowboy’,” Hayden said. 

“Why you, you know-”

“-Know what?”

“Gee wilkers!”

“What does a joke without much fight in it lack? A good punchline!” 


“Wait, who were our choices?” 

Cynthia stood up and all the Eagles froze.

“Cynthia dear,” Melissa said. “Where are you going?”

“To vote,” Cynthia replied. “I decided who I was voting for along time ago.”

Shortly after, the elimination ceremony began. 

“Long time no see Molting Eagles,” Rhonda stated.

“Don’t you see us at every challenge?” Weston asked.

Rhonda frowned. “Just go cast your votes already.”

Xidorn clicked on Aiden. “To be honest you seem like you’ve become a better person and I commend you for it. You're still the weakest link. I hope you understand.”

Melissa clicked on Vance. “I’m sorry Vance, I don’t think you’re a bad guy. I wish you the best. And again I’m sorry!”

Vance voted for Hayden. “There’s only room for one redhead on this show bucko; me. I understand your jealous, but I can’t help it. I’m certainly not voting for you because I’m afraid you can see through me and who I really am.”

“I hope you all haven’t forgotten how this works,” Rhonda said. “I’ve got eight cups of gingerbread flavored coffee, a nice little refresher after today’s challenge. But there are nine of you. Whoever does not receive a cup, will leave through the Revolving Doors of Shame and board the Public Transportation of Losers.

"The first cup goes to…Xidorn.”

Xidorn nodded as he caught his cup of coffee.


Weston smiled as both of their names were called together.


The three caught their cups. Melissa grabbed Aiden’s hand.


Aiden and Hayden’s eyes grew wide, as did Vance’s, as he caught his cup.

“Aiden…Hayden…oh my gosh I just realized your names rhyme! Ha, that’s funny. Oh, and one of you is going home. The final cup goes to…”

“…Aiden. Sorry Hayden.”

“WHAT?” Jenny screamed. “You guys voted off Hayden? He was the only contestant I actually somewhat cared about!”

“You do know we can all hear you right?” Xidorn asked.

“What’s you point?” Jenny asked.

Hayden stood up. “I’m confused…”

“Oh Hayden,” Melissa sighed. 

Aiden sniffled and hugged Hayden. “I don’t understand either, but I’m going to miss you pal.”

“Are you going to be okay?” Hayden asked.

Aiden nodded. “Don’t worry about me, I can take care of myself.”

“Yeah,” Hayden said. “But are you sure you can make it without me?”

“This is a show for teens,” Cynthia said. “Not children who need babysitters. ”

“Hayden blushed and looked down. “Yeah, you’re right. You guys seem to think you’ll do fine without me.”

“No they won’t,” Jenny pouted.

“Thanks Jenny,” Hayden said. “But I guess it’s my time. Good luck you guys, I’m rooting for you.”

Hayden sighed and exited The Revolving Doors of Shame.

“My scalp actually got a sunburn thanks to this challenge,” Kalino stated. “Anyhow, I wanted to say thanks mannnnnn. You made it really easy to vote you off; since you were the leader and we lost, you basically painted a big target on yourself. It wasn’t much effort to convince people; I suspect some were already planning on it.

"Guess you pushed yourself too hard. Just know I’m going to win this show. And I will prove to you, my sister and everyone else how wrong you all are. No matter what it takes.”

Chapter 9 Mall of The Wild

Aiden wiped away the tears from his face. 

Melissa hugged him from behind. “I’m sorry he went home honeysuckle buns.”

“I just don’t understand,” Aiden admitted. "Why?" 

The other Molting Eagles sighed, finishing their coffee if they drank it, and left the Internet Cafe. Outside they saw the Fireworks waiting. 

“I’ll be,” Easton said, “they actually voted off Hayden. I thought he was their leader.”

“What are you doing here?” Weston pouted. “Come to gloat?”

Xidorn smiled. “Seraphina! You're early, the Invaders remake doesn’t start for another two hours.”

“Is that why you ran out Seraphina?” Ness asked. 

“Xidorn,” Seraphina sighed and hugged her boyfriend. “Thank goodness you’re safe!”

“Did you think I was going home?” Xidorn asked.

“Kind of,” Seraphina admitted, “We were all hanging out a few hours agos when I got a premonition of you and..I don’t know, it didn’t look good. I just had to check and make sure it wasn’t you tonight.”

“I’m doing great Seraphina,” Xidorn replied. “Especially now that you’re here.” 

Seraphina rolled her eyes but giggled. “You want some wine with that cheese?”

“Hold the phone,” Pascal stated. “Are you two...a thing?”

“Well we-”

“I thought it was obvious,” Xidorn laughed. 

Several of the others gasped. 

“What?” Xidorn asked.

Griswold chuckled. “I’ll be honest, Seraphina never struck me as someone interested dating. Very cute Seraphina!” 

“She told us,” Ness clarified, pointing and her and Lita. “You’re both adorable! Which do you like more, Xidaphina or Seradorn?”

“But she didn’t tell the rest of us,” Pascal reminded. 

“It was just last night when we made it official,” Xidorn stated. 

“I think we all know the real reason Seraphina didn’t tell us,” Pascal stated.

“We do?” Weston asked.

“She didn’t want it to be know she was going against her team,” Pascal explained. “Everyone knows you can’t date when on separate teams.” 

Seraphina gagged. “Oh please. Where is that in the rulebook again?”

“Its common sense,” Pascal stated. “I mean, how can we really really trust you're loyal to us and not the Eagles?”

“Now Seraphina just wants a little sugar in her life,” Lita stated. “Ain't nothing wrong with that.”

“I mean you’d vote her off before one of us, wouldn’t you Xidorn?” Vance asked. 

“I...I don’t think we’ve really thought that far ahead,” Xidorn admitted, looking at Seraphina.

The contestants murmured amongst themselves. 

“Mannnnnnn,” Kalino whispered. 

“I know,” Frannie replied. 

“Pretty please answer the question Xidorn,” Pascal demanded. “If it comes down to it, will you vote out Seraphina?” 

“To be honest,” Xidorn said, “I don’t know. Ideally I’d love to never cast a vote against Seraphina.”

“But you’d be fine writing down an Eagle’s instead,” Pascal exclaimed.

“He never said that,” Seraphina argued. “We’re still in teams, so who cares? You’re just looking for somebody to throw under the bus.”

“We are still in teams,” Pascal said, “but when we aren’t, then what? Would you be complacent in being the deciding vote to send home your sweetheart?”

“I said I don’t know,” Xidorn said. “I vote for whoever I feel needs to go home.”

“I rest my case,” Pascal stated and shook his head, as the others whispered.

Xidorn glared. "Don't think I don't know about you Ratscal." 

Pascal froze. “Who, little ol me?”

“If there’s one person I’d like to vote off it's you,” Xidorn stated.

“Ooh snap,” Frannie whispered, now sharing a bowl of popcorn with Kalino.

“Hey, you’re not on the Fireworks,” Ness defended. 

“That doesn’t seem to stop Pascal from talking about me in front of my team,” Xidorn said.

“This concerns my team,” Pascal stated.

“Enough!” Seraphina shouted. “I’ll end this debate; if it comes to it, Xidorn or I will vote the other off. We won’t like it, but we will. Now we have a movie to go see.”

Seraphina pulled Xidorn away from the crowd as the others whispered this and that. 

Pascal smirked. “Be safe, and have lots of fun you two!”

Seraphina froze and turned around. “I will, thanks. You have fun looking for you missing contact or whatever it is you spend all night searching the hotel for!” 

The contestants turned to look at Pascal, who blushed and shrugged. Seraphina was smirking now as she and Xidorn left. 

Soon after, Melissa and Aiden walked to their rooms.

“It's just me tonight,” Aiden stated. “And from now on.”

“I’m going to miss Hayden too,” Melissa said. “Are you sure you’ll be alright in there?”

Aiden nodded. “I’ll see you in the morning Melissa.”

“I just don’t understand,” Aiden said. “I mean sure Hayden was a little smothering, but he was the bee’s knees! He shouldn’t have gone home...I should have. This just makes me feel...weird. Why would our team do that? I don’t know, but I feel something fishy is going on…”

“I’m not too shocked Hayden went home,” Melissa admitted. “I thought he was really sweet, but it's clear not everyone thought the same. I don’t hold it against anyone. Voting someone off is so hard; it's ending somebody’s hopes and dreams in a way. I’m still not use to the idea, so I won’t judge anyone for having to make such a hard choice. I am somewhat hurt no one talked about with me, especially…”

“...Cynthia,” Melissa stated as she entered her room, her roommate sharpening her knives. 

“I’m sorry Hayden went home,” Cynthia said.

“I understand why,” Melissa said. “I just wish you would have told me.”

“I didn’t want you to get upset,” Cynthia stated. 

Melissa nodded but didn’t say anything. 

In the early hours of the morning, Seraphina and Xidorn we’re walking the streets. 

“I can’t believe it!” Xidorn stated. “The Invaders are now being incorporated into the Space Wars cinematic universe! I don’t know if love this or hate it.”

“Uh huh,” Seraphina replied. 

“What’s bothering you?” Xidorn said. “And don’t say you’re tired, I won’t buy it.”

“That stupid premonition!” Seraphina groaned. “I thought you might be in trouble...but I think I was seeing the trouble I’ve gotten you in now.”

“I’m sure this will blow over,” Xidorn said. 

“Don’t tell me you aren’t worried,” Seraphina stated. 

“It's put a little pressure on me,” Xidorn admitted. “I’m more worried about you being on the same team as that rat. But I haven’t done anything worthy of going home.”

“Others have gone home for less,” Seraphina said.

“Yeah,” Xidorn replied. “Did you mean what you said, about us voting each other off?”

Seraphina shrugged. “I don’t want to. But at some point we’ll have no choice but to vote off our closest friends. That’s how this show is designed.”

Xidorn nodded and sighed.

Seraphina grabbed Xidorn’s hand. “But I don’t regret this at all. I had fun tonight. I really am glad I met you.” 

Seraphina kissed Xidorn’s cheek, who returned the favor. The two went up to their floor. 

“You not going to bed?” Xidorn asked. 

“I’m just not tired yet,” Seraphina said. “I think I want to go for a little walk around here.”

“In a death trap made by a serial killer after midnight?” Xidorn asked. “You want me to walk with you?”

“No, you go ahead,” Seraphina said. “I’ll be fine.”

“Goodnight,” Xidorn replied. 

Seraphina smiled. “Goodnight.”

As soon as Xidorn closed his door, Seraphina sighed. “I’m not letting you go home for my mistake Xidorn. No matter what, I’ll find someway to make sure you don’t go home. The best idea right now is to see if I can find the Eagles’ immunity flash drive…”

At the same time in Kalino and Pascal’s room, the two had gathered Frannie and Vance.

“Why are we having this here meeting again?” Vance asked.

“I want to make sure you guys now that Frannie is officially a member of this alliance,” Kalino stated. “And all that who blah.”

Frannie waved. “It’s cool to be here! Right Ziba?”

Her little lemur nodded and yawned. 

“And remember this is a secret alliance,” Pascal said. “So don’t tell anyone about this meeting.”

“Especially because you just made a big deal about inter-team interactions and if people find out this would make you a huge target and a hypocrite?” Frannie asked. 

Pascal forced a smile. “Hehe, kinda of...” 

“My lips are sealed tighter than a childproof lock,” Frannie replied. "Loose lips sink ships and all that who blah."

“Anyone have any updates on how things are going?” Pascal asked. “It seems Hayden was eliminated.” 

“It’s whateverrrrrrr,” Kalino yawned. “I do think we need more peopleeeeeee.”

“We got Frannie and Ziba,” Vance said. “That’s like a human person and an animal person!” 

Ziba shrugged in the confessional.

“While I do fill the role of the token female,” Frannie said. “I don’t think I’m enough. I mean it's three of us on one team, with five others.”

“Three is smaller than five,” Kalino stated. “Its also smaller than a lot of numbers.”

“Well durn if we want more people,” Vance said, “let’s get Xidorn to join us!”

“Are you kidding?” Pascal said. 

“Do I look like I’m pulling your leg partner?” Vance asked.

“It’s hard to get a read on your face under that mustache,” Frannie admitted. 

“Xidorn is actually a really cool guy,” Vance stated. “I think I might make him my deputy.”

“He said he’d vote me off!” Pascal stated. 

“Is that a problem?” Vance asked. 

“Xidorn is a nice guy Vance,” Kalino said. “But the guy hasn’t told a lie since the third grade; he couldn’t keep this a secret. This has to stay a secret.” 

“Hmph,” Vance pouted. “Kalino gets to invite his friend....”

“I think this meeting will have to continue later,” Pascal sighed. “We could all use some sleep.”

Frannie yawned. “I always hate sleeping; you could say I’m getting tired of it.” 

Only Kalino laughed as Frannie left. Vance followed, slamming the door behind him. 

“How are you going to survive with those two?” Pascal asked.

“I’d be more worried about you,” Kalino stated. “Seraphina called you out mannnnn.”

“I know,” Pascal cried. “I thought I’d finally found a reason to get rid of That’s So Raven, but I doubt the others would go for it. Everyone’s too good of friends with each other, while I have no allies. What am I going to do?!?”

“Hmm,” Kalino pondered, “there is one thing I can think of...nah, that’s lame.”

Pascal jumped on Kalino’s lap. “What is it?”

“Who are people more loyal to then even their friends?” Kalino asked. 

Pascal raised an eyebrow. “Like adopting kids?”

“Maybe save that plan for the merge,” Kalino replied. “I mean what is basically an automatic alliance?”

“Wait, you mean form a relationship?” Pascal asked. “Like, dating someone?” 

Kalino shrugged. “Someone will be loyal to you then. Plus you wouldn’t be out of place here; you notice everybody’s been shacking up recently?” 

“But I don’t like anyone here,” Pascal stated. “And I don’t know, dating someone just for a vote...that’s super duper extra super low.”

“I didn’t say it was a good idea,” Kalino answered. “Or that I condone it. Its just the only idea I have.”

“Even if theoretically I date someone from my team,” Pascal said. “Who would I date?”

Kalino raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

Ness blushed deep red and hyperventilated. “Well…we all tried our best. But thanks Pascal, it means a lot, since you are so hot…a musician.”


Ness giggled. “You tell the best stories Pascal, tell me again about you solved the puzzle and saved your team.”


“He’s over there by the painting with the moving eyes,” Seraphina stated, pointing to Pascal chatting with Ness.



“Nope,” Pascal stated. “Don’t have any clue who it could be.”

Kalino just shook his head. 

Eventually the sun rose. Morning began and soon went into the afternoon. Using the secret passage, Melissa entered the kitchen and started baking cakes quietly. 

“Shh...right there…”

Melissa raised her head. “Hello? Is someone there?”

Melissa looked through the hatch and saw a TV sitting on a cart.

The TV turned on and showed ‘Aiden’. “I do have a problem with Muslims...Melissa...she’s actually been teaching me about the Quran...I don’t understand or believe everything in it and...I’ll be the first to admit...has a lot of mistakes. “

Melissa sniffled. “That’s not true. I’ve got to find Aiden.”

At the moment, many of the other contestants rushed in for their lunch. Easton and Weston gave each a glare as they pushed through opposite doors. Behind them was…

“Aiden!” Melissa called and ran.

“Melissa?” Aiden said as she tackled him. “Are you already sweetie?”

“Oh that TV,” Melissa said and pointed. “You were on it and you said you had problem with Muslims and the Quran…”

“TV?” Weston asked. 

“What?” Aiden asked. “That’s a lie! I mean, I did have problems, but I didn’t voice it, especially like that. You’ve been teaching me about the Quran and I don’t necessarily agree with, but I respect it. And I respect you.” 

“I knew it wasn’t true!” Melissa cheered. 

Aiden hugged Melissa. “Thanks for believing in me Melissa.”

“Of course doodlebug,” Melissa replied. 

“Wait, then who said all this stuff?” Riley asked. 

“I’d like to know that too,” Aiden stated.

Everyone turned to the TV cart, where Jenny and Toby stood. “Eep.”

“Ms. Jenny and Mr. Toby,” Melissa gasped. “How could you?” 

“We’ve been spotted!” Jenny cried. A trap door opened up underneath the co-hosts, who fell through on the TV cart.

“Wow,” Weston said. “That TV was the same one I saw Easton on.”

“What?” Easton asked. “What did you see?”

“What you said about me…” Weston replied.

“What you heard was probably those two’s tricks dude,” Riley said. “They probably edited footage together.”

“You mean to tell me you started this whole argument over some fake crap they made?” Easton asked. 

“Fake?” Weston shouted. “The scholarship wasn’t fake! As far as I can tell, you still said those things about me, about how you really feel!”

“Woah bros,” Riley said jumping in the middle of the twins. “Now hold the phone; this whole argument has just been a misunderstanding. Doesn’t that mean we can move past all this?”

“Hmph,” Weston said. “I don’t think that changes anything.”

“I agree,” Easton replied as both twins stormed off in opposite directions. 

Melissa looked on as she noticed Cynthia head in the same direction as Weston. 

Riley shook her head and headed back towards the stairs, seeing Lita and Griswold walking in. 

“There you two are,” Riley said. “Where have you been hiding away?”

“We went to get brunch,” Griswold yawned. “Then we went to that huge mall, then lunch…”

“We had such a wonderful time,” Lita swooned and grabbed Griswold’s arm. “What’s going on here?”

“Short version Easton and Weston had a verbal brawl,” Riley said. “Turns out their whole fight has been cause of behind the scene deals with the show, but they’re still duking it out. Man, I don’t think brothers should fight like that.”

Lita looked down. “It’s a very complicated mess…”

“First that, and then a secret alliance,” Griswold sighed.

Riley raised an eyebrow. “What’cha talking about Gris Bear?”

“Well it's only a rumor,” Griswold said, “but apparently someone overheard an Eagle bragging about how their alliance caused Hayden’s elimination.”

“I’ve even heard someone from our team was seen with a bunch of other Eagles last night,” Lita stated. 

Riley shrugged. “I don’t put a lot of thoughts in rumors. Listen Gris Bear, if you’re free, you want me to school you in a game of foosball?”

Griswold chuckled. “Didn’t I win the last game?”

“Yeah out of five,” Riley replied. 

“You have fun,” Lita giggled and nuzzled Griswold’s cheek. “I’ll see you tonight handsome, for our dinner and movie date.”

“Oh yeah,” Griswold recalled. “See you then too...uh beautiful.” 

Griswold blushed as Lita giggled more. Riley laughed and raced on, Griswold soon catching up to her. 

“They’re awfully close.”

Lita turned to see Pascal skipping down the steps. 

“Riley and Griswold sure spend a lot of time together,” Pascal said. “Riley really seems clo-”

“-I’m going to stop your stupid mouth right there,” Lita interrupted. “I know Riley would never make a move on Griswold; Riley is someone I know I can trust. Which is more than I can say for you.”

Lita pushed Pascal aside and ascended up the stairs. 

“Could this day get any worse,” Pascal sighed. 


Pascal facepalmed as Mandy ballerina twirled to him.

“Mandy,” Pascal gritted. “You’re still here.”

“You noticed!” Mandy cheered. “Isn’t it crazy? Rhonda says that she can’t afford to give me a free stay anymore, so I thought I’d have to go home!”

Pascal beamed.

“Then she gave me a job as an intern, and I’ll get paid in boarding! She says I could be here for the rest of the show! Isn’t that crazy?”

Pascal immediately frowned. 

“I was thinking we’ve had such a great time remembering things from our memory that we forgot,” Mandy said. “But we haven’t made any new memories either! So we should like totally go out to Washington, maybe see the Grand Canyon or Disneyworld…”

“Oh I’d love to,” Pascal said. “Really would, but uh...I’m hanging out with Ness at the moment and we have a lot to do!”

“Ooh maybe some other time th-”

Mandy looked around to see Pascal was gone. 

“Or not.”

In Kalino’s room, Kalino and Frannie were playing something on the Gamecube.

“I still don’t understand why Petey Piranha is only playable in this game,” Kalino stated.

“Right?” Frannie asked. “But they think Pink Gold Baby Peach or whatever is real creative.”

“You know I’ve been thinking,” Kalino said, “it might be too soon to tell, but Xidorn would be a good target.”

Frannie shook her head. “I think the whole debate is kind of silly.”

“Oh it totally is,” Kalino replied. “But if someone buys it, that’s a vote not against us.”

“I guess,” Frannie said. “I doubt Vance would go for it though.” 

“We’ll tell him we’re voting for someone else,” Kalino replied. 

Frannie dropped her controller. “You want to lie to him?” 

“Always telling the truth might work for Xidorn,” Kalino said, “but it can’t work that way in real life. Lies are sometimes necessary. We’re keeping him in the dark, but for his own good. We’re helping and protecting him.” 

“If you think it's the right thing to do,” Frannie replied. 

“We’ll see what happens,” Kalino stated. “Mannnnnnnn, let’s just chillax for the moment and stop stressing. Whatever happens, we’ll be alright.” 

The next day, the contestants found themselves shuttled in the TDG bus.

“Where do you think we’re going?” Ness asked. “Another monument? The zoo?”

“Probably another hotel in the chain,” Seraphina stated. 

The bus slammed to a stop as Rhonda jumped up. “Not quite...allow me to present a place many of your are familiar with; The Tysons Corner Center, aka the biggest mall in the Washington business district!” 

The contestants looked out to see themselves at a huge mall filled with dozens upon dozens of shops and a dozen times the number of shoppers. Particularly, there were swarms of preteen girls. 

“This mall and many of its shops have paid for some free advertising,” Rhonda stated. “Which we will deliver in a subtle and tasteful way.” 

“Speaking of tasteful,” Toby said, “can I just say how much I appreciate the food court at this mall? So many great choices like Subway; eat fresh.”

Toby pulled out a sub and pushed it against his face.

“I for am enjoying these Doritos Locos Tacos,” Jenny said and winked. “I’m thinking outside the bun.” 

“Personally I’m enjoying this egg, cheese and sausage McGriddle,” Rhonda stated. “Now part of McDonald’s all day breakfast menu! I’m lovin it.”

The contestants stared at the hosts.

“Anyway,” Rhonda continued. “This challenge is a scavenger hunt! You’ll all have two hours to find the items on this list Toby is passing out. Most of these shops will let you take them for free, if you present this flyer to them at the checkout. Items are all worth different points, so whichever team has the most points at the end wins.” 

Easton looked on outside the window. “There's a lot of business today. Is there a sale?”

“A special guest appearance is being made at the mall,” Rhonda said. “None other than teen heart throb Blainerson McManly!”

“Eeeeeeeeee!” Ness squealed. 

“Who?” Seraphina asked. 

“He’s a super cool singer and actor,” Ness salivated. “His duet with Cody Simpson nearly killed me!”

“Someone actually dropped a radio on my head playing that song,” Ness said, “It knocked me down a manhole into the sewers; I was lost for a week down there and had to eat garbage. But I still really like the song.” 

"You’ll notice the item on our list worth the most points is a celebrity cameo,” Rhonda stated. “Blainerson McManly fits the bill.” 

“How hard could it be?” Aiden asked. 


A ten year old girl was thrown the window of the bus. 

“We’ll be at the food court so bring us your items and we’ll check them off,” Rhonda stated. “Enjoying all those great food options the mall has to offer, like Chick-fil-a! Eat more chicken, not cow hearts your carnivore.” 

“Kalino,” Frannie whispered. “You don’t suppose the mall is still upset after last time we were here, do you?” 

“Nahhhhhhh,” Kalino replied. “I’m sure they already-”

The wind hurled a poster against the two’s window, which read “Wanted Dead or Alive: Criminal Clown and Surfer for acts of child punting, British impersonations and public nudity.” 

Kalino and Frannie gulped and ducked out the window. 

Inside the mall, the teams quickly took two separate escalators. 

“Alright Fireworks,” Griswold said. “We got this! To be safe, let’s split up into pairs of two. We’ll each get a section of the mall and look for the items there.” 

“In that case I’ll go with you turtledove,” Lita swooned. “It’ll be just like the great date we had here earlier!” 

“Uhh..sounds super,” Griswold replied. 

Ness and Seraphina, Riley and Ignacio and Pascal and Easton paired up. 

“Here we are,” Melissa stated. “I was thinking Cynthia we could..”

Melissa turned to see Cynthia already on another escalator with Weston behind her. 

“Ooh that’s fine,” Melissa said. “Another time then. Well then Aiden-”

Melissa turned to see Aiden sulking in a gun store. 

“Man I bet Hayden would’ve loved this shotgun,” Aiden sighed. 

“I’ll give you some space my little chipmunk fluff,” Melissa said and went on. 

"I thought about talking with Aiden about Cynthia and Easton’s worries,” Melissa admitted. “But he’s just so sad about Hayden, I don’t want to bother him with my feelings; that’d be mean.”

A rent a cop stood guard at the front of the mall, but failed to notice a tiptoeing trashcan enter. 

“Stage one complete,” said the trashcan, who hid in the ficus plant. 

Frannie and Kalino threw the trash can off themselves. 

“Stage two,” Kalino said, “cut out faces from a magazine and put them over our faces! Creating a foolproof disguise to allow us to go around the mall.”

The two high fived and got to work...

“Shopping for jewelry is fun, huh Cynthia?” Weston asked as he tried on various necklaces in a shop. 

Cynthia tossed more and more jewelry aside, trying to find the right item. 

Weston twiddled his thumbs. “So Cynthia…uh...umm...”

“If you have something to say, say it,” Cynthia stated as shoppers looked on, yet kept their distance. 

Weston grabbed Cynthia’s arm and looked her in the eyes. “Okay, so the truth is even though you’re scary I think you’re really cool and brave. I really like you and like spending time with you, so do you want to be boyfriend and girlfriend?”


“I understand,” Weston said. “I’m sorry if I made things really awkward.”

“I said yes Weston,” Cynthia stated. 

“Wait whattttttt?” Weston asked. “Really? Are you sure?”

“Do you want me to change my mind?” Cynthia asked. 

Weston shook his head. 

“You’ve got all the perfect traits of someone I want to date,” Cynthia said.

“I do?” Weston asked.

Cynthia stared. “You scar easily and bleed profusely...yet have a very high pain tolerance.” 

Weston gulped. 

“You’re also really sweet and cute,” Cynthia said. “It’s rare to find someone who fits all that.” 

Weston blushed and turned away. “Aw shucks!”

“Hehehe,” Weston giggled. “I got a girlfriend, I got a girlfriend! And it's the most amazing girl in the whole wide world! WOO!”

Cynthia stared. “I didn’t expect to get a boyfriend on this show. But now I do; I’m keeping him.”

“Your disguise ready?”

“Oh yeah!” 

Kalino popped out of the bushes wearing a cutout of the president on face...and wearing nothing else at all. 

“Ooh nice,” Frannie said. 

Frannie somersaulted out with a handsome yet familiar face. “I just chose some garden variety celebrity or something.”

“OH MY GAWD!” a preteen girl screamed and pointed. “Look!”

“Is that the president of the United State shopping in the nude?” another asked. 

“Who cares about that loser,” the first said. “Look who's next to him!” 

“BLAINERSON MCMANLY!” a mob of teen girls screamed and ran.

“Wait,” Frannie said, “if you’re the nude president then I must be-”

“I’m going to tear off some of his skin cells for my collection!”

“In your dreams ******! Those skin cells are mine and I’m gonna lick them!”

“Quick Fran The Man,” Kalino said, “tear it off!”

“I can’t,” Frannie replied. “It’s stuck on my face like a haunted mask!” 

Frannie dashed as the squad of girls stampeded through. 

“I’ve got to find a way to rescue Frannie,” Kalino stated. 

Meanwhile, Xidorn and Vance were in a book store.

Vance was tossing books out left and right. “What was on the cover of this book?”

“It could be a lot of things,” Xidorn replied. “A woman who looks like a pilgrim, a red letter; it’ll have a gold symbol or something on it to show it's an anniversary edition.” 

Vance kicked a shelf. “Of all the stores we had to go to a bookstore.”

“To be honest Vance... I suspect you can’t read,” Xidorn said. 

“That idea ain’t worth the salt in your bread!” Vance shouted. 

“There is nothing wrong with being illiterate,” Xidorn said. “It’s a problem a lot of people face. I’m not judging, I just want you to know you don’t have to feel bad in front of me.”

Vance sighed. “Alright...the truth is my ma or pa never taught me how to read. They...didn’t know either.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Xidorn stated. “If you want, I can teach you.” 

“Hmph, don’t you think it's a bit silly to be teaching an almost full grown man how to read?” Vance asked.

“I don’t find anything silly about helping someone,” Xidorn replied. “Especially a friend.”

Vance wiped a tear. “I didn’t know people could be so nice...I mean, lets save the mushy stuff for after the challenge.”

“You’re right,” Xidorn said.

The two turned back to the bookshelves. “Hey, do you know anything about this rumor going around?”

“Rumor?” Vance asked. 

“Apparently some of the Fireworks are convinced some 'inter-team' alliance is going on,” Xidorn said. “Silly huh? Said they’re the ones who voted off Hayden.”

Vance froze. “Uh...yeah that could never be happening, especially going on right now, on our team and be true.”

Xidorn pulled a book off the shelf. “I got it! Let’s boogie on out of here.”

Vance followed and whispered to himself, “I’ve got to tell Kalino…” 

Rhonda sat in the mall, sighing and holding her stomach as she sat on a bench. “Ooh, too much free advertising…” 

“I’ve got a pill for that if you need it.”

Rhonda turned to an old woman sitting next to her.

“Hey,” Rhonda said, “aren’t you that woman I was talking to at the subway?”

“Oh yes!” the old lady replied. “Your that hostess! What a coincidence seeing you again uh, Raina. How is your show going?”

Rhonda frowned. “Terrific.”

“Really?” the old lady asked. “I’ve DVRed it, but hadn’t been able to see it yet. I heard it was at the Pentagram Hotel.”

“The one and only,” Rhonda replied.

“Oh I’ve always wanted to tour it,” the old lady said. “I’ve done tons of research on it. It was a fascinating little place; you know they say the owner hid his greatest treasure in there!”

“Really?” Rhonda asked.

“So they say,” the old lady replied. “I’m an architect, so I’ve studied the floor plan. I use to make houses actually, most of my life till the housing market collapsed back in 2008.”

“You know I could arrange a tour,” Rhonda said. “In return maybe you’d share what you know about the house on camera.”

“It’d be my pleasure!” the old lady replied. 

As time ticked away, the contestants continued on their scavenger hunt. A montage was shown of some of the events so far…

Ness and Seraphina struggled to pry a candy bracelet from a baby’s grip.

Frannie continued to run from the fans, who were being joined my more preteen girls (and thirty year old men) as she ran.

Lita and Griswold we’re trying to get a orange soda out of a stubborn vending machine, but it wouldn’t budge.

Pascal was signing autographs, as Easton sat besides himself at a fountain.

Cynthia meanwhile managed to scare everyone out of Hot Topic.

And Vance found Kalino; he whispered in the slacker’s ear, who slowly nodded…

Inside a women’s lingerie store, Riley and Ignacio were searching through the ladies undergarments. 

Ignacio was blushing and closing his eyes. “I still think I should wait outside.”

“It’d be easier if we worked together,” Riley said. “Dude, you’re doing this for a challenge not cause you’re a pervert.”

“I know,” Ignacio replied. “But I feel...embarrassed and...judged.”

“I’m not judging bro,” Riley stated. 

“I knew you wouldn’t Riley,” Ignacio replied. “It’s just...I don’t know, people expect me to be a pervert just because I’m…”

“Smoking hot,” Riley finished. 

“Yeah,” Ignacio replied. “People just assume I have my way with women all the time just because I meet physical standards and am a model.”

“That often?” Riley asked. 

Ignacio nodded. “My ex girlfriend Carla use to be so concerned I was adulterous because women, and men, throw themselves at me. She was always afraid I was sneaking looks or was...for a lack of a better word, thirsty. She dumped me because she thought I was a womanizer.”

“It sounds like Carla didn’t know the real you Ignacio,” Riley said. 

“Can I help you and your boyfriend?” an employee asked.

“We aren’t...not like that,” Ignacio stated. 

The employee laughed. “Good to know.”

“We’re looking for some leopard underoos!” Riley announced. “You have any?”

“Only pair left is in clearance and I’m afraid I can’t give that way,” the employee replied.

Riley tuned to Ignacio who sighed and ripped his shirt off. 

“I’ll get you them right away stud!” the employee swooned. 

Ignacio hid his red face in his hands. I’m shirtless in a women’s lingerie store.”

“If it’ll make you feel better,” Riley said, “I’ll take mine off.”

“No!” Igncaio shouted. “I mean not that they’re bad, I’ve seen them before. I mean I wasn’t looking at them, not because they’re bad but…”

Riley laughed. “You are too easy to rile up.” 

At the same time, Ness and Seraphina sighed and held up the candy bracelet. Ness’s nose was bleeding.

“Are we wimps or does the baby bench press a thousand?” Ness asked. 

“A little bit of both,” Seraphina replied. “Sorry it punched you in the face.”

“It looks worse than it feels,” Ness said. 

“I’m going to go ahead and check this in with Rhonda,” Seraphina said. “I hope the others had a better time.”

“I’m gonna look around for any last minute items,” Ness said. 

“Go for it,” Seraphina encouraged. “And good luck.” 

Ness nodded and walked off. She looked at the stores for anything…but stopped at crying. Turning to a massage chair, she found Amanda Picklestein sobbing. 

Ness sighed and took a seat next to the chatterbox. “Hey Mandy.”

Mandy sniffled. “Huh? Oh hey Ness, Pascal’s new friend. You came to the mall too, huh? Isn’t that crazy?”

“Why are you crying?” Ness asked.

“I’m just having an allergic reaction to all these great items and deals at this mall,” Mandy cried.

“Are you sure?” Ness said. “You look like somebody who’s going through a lot. Trust me, I know.”

Mandy let out a loud groan and cried into Ness’ lap. “I’m such a loser Ness! I came here hoping to reunite with Pascal...but he’s forgotten all about me.”

“He recognized you,” Ness said. 

“Yeah but its not the same,” Mandy replied. “He’s not the same; it's like he’s a totally different person. He use to ask me how my day was at every meal and make up songs to sing to me at night. I thought we were really special friends…”

“I’m so sorry,” Ness said. 

“I should be the sorry one,” Mandy said. “Showing up unannounced, when Pascal’s here making new friends. That time on the show was just really important to me and...I wanted those experiences to last forever, not disappear. But I guess they already are gone; people grow apart as time goes on and life changes. Friends become acquaintances, then memories and then forgotten...” 

“Well have you told Pascal how you feel?” Ness asked. 

“No,” Mandy admitted.

“You don’t know if he’s forgotten you if you don’t ask,” Ness said. 

“But what if he really doesn’t care for me?” Mandy asked. “What if it's better not knowing than facing the truth...that Pascal and I will never be the same people we were on that show.”

“I don’t know what he’ll say,” Ness said. “But will you ever really be happy always wondering? The worst case is you’ll have to move on...but that’s better than being haunted forever isn’t it?”

Mandy hugged Ness. “Oh Ness, you’re such a nice person! Can I ask you something?”

Ness gulped. “Yeah?”

“Do you think we could be friends too?” Mandy asked.

“ want to be my friend?” Ness asked. “I think...I think we’re already friends now!”

Mandy squealed and hugged the girl again. “That’s wonderful! And thank you; if you ever need anything just name it!” 

Ness shook her head. “That’s not necessary I...wait, actually Mandy would you mind coming with me?” 

Mandy beamed. “Not at all!

At the same time, Lita and Griswold were still shaking the same vending machine. 

“Can this **** machine be loosened!” Lita screamed. 

A little girl skipped up to the machine and punched it. The orange soda came rolling out.

“Do you guys even lift?” the little girl asked before skipping away. 

“Well at least we have it,” Griswold said taking it as he and Lita headed to the nearest escalator. 

“Hey is that Easton?” Griswold asked, pointing out the holder twin sitting at a fountain.

“Poor dear looks miserable,” Lita said. 

“I bet it has to do with that fight with his brother,” Griswold said.

“Sweetie you go deliver that to Rhonda,” Lita said. “I’m going to see if I can talk to him.”

Before Griswold could answer, Lita got off the escalator. 

“Hey honey,” Lita said taking a seat. “You alright?”

“Oh yeah,” Easton said. “Just taking a breather.”

“Now I see a serious frown on that face,” Lita said. “You can tell me honey; I promise I won’t judge.”

“It’s Weston,” Easton admitted.

“I thought so,” Lita said. “Things still rough?” 

“I’m still furious if that’s what you mean,” Easton replied.

Lita nodded. 

“But...I do miss Weston,” Easton admitted. “I still worry about him. But those things I said...I admit I do kind of resent him; I know everyone likes him more. And I mean who wouldn’t, he’s great. I just work so hard in math, in track, at taking care of him...and I’ll still always be nothing but his twin brother. I thought this show would be chance to show I’m somebody...but I’m not.”

Lita patted Easton’s head. “Now honey, don’t you say that. You and your brother are very different, even if some people can’t see it. Maybe some people like him more, but I know some people here who like you a whole lot more.”

Easton nodded. “Thanks. It burns me up that Weston saw those tapes that he didn’t know something was off. That he actually thought I didn’t love him. Then again, can you call say I love him when I was jealous at the same time?”

Lita sighed. “I think its clear you still love him, even if you won’t admit it. I don’t know the answer to that question though. I really wish I did.”

Easton turned to Lita. “Thank you Lita, I feel better talking to you. I’m glad someone understands. Do you...want to talk about your brother?”

“Huh?” Lita asked. 

“You said you understand,” Easton said. "I remember you mentioning your brother after we won the Awake-a-thon.”

Lita squirmed. “Its different.”

“If you don’t mind me asking,” Easton said, “how is it different?”

“It’s worse,” Lita admitted. “I’ll tell you but you have to promise to never tell anyone else.”

Easton raised his right hand. “I swear.”

Lita nodded. “Me and my brother are different circumstances. My momma’s always had a hard life, yet she’s tried to take care of us. Still...I know she can’t ever love me the same way she loves him.”

Easton nodded. 

“With me...well my dad is a real bad guy. My mom was worried he’d leave her; she thought having me would make him stay. Instead it made him leave.”

“You can’t mean that,” Easton said.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Lita said. “I’m grateful he left. But trust me, I know it's true."

“God,” Easton mumbled. “I’m sorry Lita.”

Lita shook her head. “With my brother, or half-brother, she never planned to have him...but he wasn’t an accident either.”

Easton paused for a moment, then sighed and nodded. 

“When he came into our lives,” Lita continued, “so much changed. She treated him in ways she never had treated me before...everyone treated him different from me. And it's not like he doesn’t deserve it…he’s the greatest little guy I know. But I can’t help wishing...that could be me, that I could be loved like that! Then I feel so awful for feeling that.”

“I think understand,” Easton said. 

“But it is different from you and your twin,” Lita said and leaned in whispering in his ear.

Easton’s eyes grew wide. “Oh Lita, you can’t think that-”

“-Please don’t say anymore,” Lita said standing up. “We have to get back to the challenge. Just don’t tell anyone, especially Griswold or Seraphina or Ness. I don’t want them to know how awful I am…” 

Over on the other side of the mall, Kalino was racing around nude as the president. 

“Okay finding Blainerson McManly failed,” Kalino said. “How else can I save her?”

“Hey you.”

Kalino turned around to see a rent a cop.

“Oh, hey mannnnnn.”

“Are you really the President of the United States?”

Kalino blinked. “Yes, yes I am.” 

“Why are you running around naked?” the cop asked.

“I’m expressing my freedom as a citizen of America dude,” Kalino replied.

“I knew there was a reason I voted for you!” the cop cheered. “Listen, if there is anything you need, just name it.”

“If I could ask a presidential favor,” Kalino said, “I need to rescue Blainerson McManly. You know, FBI/CIA/SAT kind of stuff.” 

“Of course!” the cop replied. 

A few floors below, Riley and Ignacio exited the lingerie store. Riley stopped as she noticed a familiar lineman napping on the benches. She tossed the underoos on the still shirtless Ignacio.  

“Go on Iggy Pop,” Riley said. “I got to help a bro out here.”

Ignacio nodded and went on, ignoring the whistles he was getting. 

“What’s wrong Gris Bear?” Riley asked, sitting on the edge. 

“What makes you think something’s wrong?” Griswold asked.

“I know you,” Riley said. 

Griswold chuckled. “You do. The truth is, it’s about Lita.”

“Oh no,” Riley said. “What’s the trouble?”

“Dating her has been interesting,” Griswold said. “I mean at first it was amazing, but she’s really...kind of smothering. I'm feel suffocated and exhausted. And we kissed and...I felt I wasn’t ready for my first kiss, and now that I did it...I just pictured something else. Something like a Faith Hill song.”

“You and your love of Faith Hill,” Riley laughed. 

“Faith Hill’s music is amazing,” Griswold swooned. “Look in your heart bro, you know it to be true. The point is, I don’t know how to feel at this point.” 

“I hate to break it you Gris but it doesn’t get easier after forming a relationship,” Riley said. “It might even get harder.”

“And look how much I struggled forming it,” Griswold said. “I don’t know, I’m not going to call it quits, but this wasn’t what I was expecting of my first girlfriend.”

“What were you expecting?” Riley asked. “A fairytale wedding?”

Griswold laughed. “Of course not.”

“You know one of my older brothers always fell hard into love,” Riley stated. “He was so obsessed with finding someone…and all it got him was two divorces. The third time has been the charm so far, but it wasn’t an easy road for him to get there.”

“What are you trying to imply dude?” Griswold asked.

“I’m saying love isn’t easy or as magical as we think,” Riley said. “I’ve thought it was too, but I’ve learned from my brother’s relationships and my own that it isn’t. Don’t get wrong, love can do good, but it isn’t good by default, it’s...powerful.”

“With great power comes responsibility,” Griswold sighed. 

Riley chuckled. “As true as that phrase is cliché. Relationships are great, but they take a lot of work; they have to survive time passing, people growing, and things always changing. And they’ll never be perfect; they’re man made after all.”

“So what should I do now?” Griswold said. 

“Call me loco,” Riley said. “But have you thought about talking with Lita?”

Griswold blushed. “That would make sense.”

Riley shrugged. “I mean you can’t solve a problem if you don’t acknowledge there’s a problem dude. Let me tell you this, communication is important. And I don’t mean by dolphin calls.” 

“Eeeee!” Griswold squeaked before he and Riley burst into laughter. 

“I’ll just be straightforward with her when we get the chance alone,” Griswold stated. 

Riley gave a thumbs up. “Right on Broprah Winfrey. Communication is really important. A relationship can’t be happy if you’re keeping secrets or bottling up things inside. It's not healthy for your or your relationship.”

“Gosh Rye Bread, you ever think about writing a book?” Griswold teased. 

“I tried to write one on money saving tips but it costs a lot for paper dude,” Riley replied.

The two bros laughed and got up. 

At the same time, Frannie found herself chased up a fake palm tree. “Hmm, I didn’t expect to die in palm tree while being chased by preteen girls. I always thought it’d be a pine tree.”

“Marry me Blainerson McManly!” a girl shouted. 

“No me!” another girl shouted.

“He’s marrying me!” a man shouted. 

“No one is marrying that handsome man!”

“SAYS WHO?” a preteen girls shouts. 

Everyone gasped as a naked Kalino stood like George Washington crossing the Delaware river, riding on a the rent a cop’s golf cart. “Says the President of AMURICA!” 

The golf cart ran over the girls as it got to the palm tree. Frannie jumped and landed in Kalino arms. “My hero!”

Then suddenly, Kalino and Frannie’s masks fell off. 

“Hey you’re not my teenage fantasy come true, you’re a clown!”

“And you’re not the president,” the rent a cop shouted. “You’re some naked guy.”

“PUSH!” Kalino shouted as he shoved the rent a cop away and hijacked the golf cart.

“Let’s get out of this mall!” Frannie shouted. 

“Not yet Fran The Man,” Kalino replied. “I promised I’d try to save you. This challenge still has a minute left; let’s say we double dash this bitch?”

“Oh yeah!” the two shouted. 

At the same time, Rhonda and most of the contestants gathered together. To the left, the Fireworks had a pile of their items. To the right, the Eagles had a smaller pile. 

“Well it was close,” Rhonda said, “but this win is the Fizz-”


Frannie and Kalino drove their golf cart off the top floor and descended down. The two and their shopping bags jumped out of their in slow mo. The golf cart landed on the floor and exploded right next to Rhonda. Frannie and Kalino landed on their butts nearby and high fived. 

“What The Heck?” Rhonda screamed.

“Wrong fanfiction,” Frannie said. “Also, we brought gifts!” 

The two tossed their shopping bags on top of Rhonda. “Well this changes everything; I’d say the winners are-”


Ness ran up pulling Mandy behind her. “I have one last item.”

“It’d have to be worth a lot of points mannnn,” Kalino said while smiling at Frannie. 

“She is,” Ness said, presenting Mandy.

“Mandy isn’t on the list,” Toby stated.

“The list requests a celebrity cameo,” Ness explained. “Mandy is a celebrity and here she is cameoing.”

“Hmm,” Rhonda said. “Well I finally wanted Blainerson to cameo, but I’ll take it.”

Yes!” Ness cheered and hugged Mandy as the other Fireworks joined in.

“It’ll take some math,” Rhonda said, “give us a minute.”

Five hours later, the co-hosts separated. “We’ve calculated your exact scores and by a single point the winners are…The Fizzled Fireworks!” 

Kalino’s smile immediately dropped. Xidorn nodded, as the other Eagles realized what that meant and looked at each other. 

The Fizzled Fireworks cheered at their victory...except for Seraphina who stared at Xidorn and the other Eagles. “Please, please let it work.” 

“Prepare to say goodbye to another one of your friends Eagles,” Rhonda said. 

It was a quiet night; the Eagles shuffled into the Internet cafe without a word. Dark clouds loomed outside. 

Rhonda sighed. “The votes have all been cast. I’ve got seven cups of raspberry flavor coffee. It’s good stuff. But one of you won’t know what that’s like. Weston, will however.”

Weston nodded as he caught his cup.


The three caught their cups and shuffled awkwardly. 


Aiden nodded. 

“One cup left; two newbies. The final coffee cup goes to...”

“...Xidorn. I’m afraid it's your time now Frannie.” 

Frannie didn’t move for a few seconds, before slowly raising her eyebrows and turning to the others. She looked towards Kalino, but he looked the other way. “I don’t...why?”

“We’re so sorry Frannie,” Weston said. “But we know you’ll be happier now!” 

Frannie just stared. “What?”

“I’m sorry but you have a ride to catch,” Rhonda stated. 


“Goodbye,” Rhonda interrupted. 

Frannie frowned and crept towards the Revolving Doors of Shame.

Kalino stood up. “I better talk to her…”

Frannie set her luggage down at the bus stop. 

“Frannie,” Kalino said in a whisper as he exited.

Frannie turned to notice him and ran to hug him. “Kalino! What happened? Why...why am I going home?”

“I...don’t know,” Kalino said. “I’m just as confused and upset as you are.”

“Then why didn’t you say anything in there?” Frannie asked.

Kalino looked down. “I was in shock, that’s all…”

Frannie’s eyes grew wide and she separated from him. “You knew. You knew it was going to be me.”

Kalino turned away. “Why did you have to do that? Why did you have to go and ruin a good thing? I felt like I could trust you.”

“Of course you can trust me,” Frannie replied. “What did I do?”

“Loose lips sink ships,” Kalino quoted. “Remember?”

“What?” Frannie asked.

“The rumors going around?” Kalino asked. “We have our first alliance meeting with you and suddenly everyone’s talking about an alliance meeting and Hayden going home. You tell me that’s coincidence?”

“I didn’t say anything,” Frannie said. “How could you think that?”

“Like how you spilled the beans about Diamonique's genius?" Kalino asked. "You aren’t good at keeping secrets. I couldn’t risk my game, my dreams, on you.”

Frannie turned away and began crying. Kalino stood and watched her. 

“Frannie,” Kalino said. “I’m sorry...I really am. But I promise our deal’s still intact, you’ll still get-”

“-I didn’t say anything!” Frannie yelled, revealing her smearing makeup. “I never told a soul. Why didn’t you just ask me? Why didn’t you talk to me?”

Kalino looked down.

“For my own good, was it?” Frannie asked. “Thought I’d never know about it till you’d won and then when you saved the circus I’d understand. Is that it? What did you tell them?” 

“I told them you weren’t feeling well,” Kalino said. “You were homesick and didn’t want to be here.”

“Soon I won’t have a home to go to,” Frannie stated. “The circus will close down now.”

“You can still save the circus,” Kalino said. “With your share you-”

“-You actually meant that deal?” Frannie asked. “Or was that another lie? What you just said about voted her off, didn’t you?” 

Kalino sighed. “Yes.”

“Oh my god,” Frannie wept. “Of course you did! I was such a fool! You used me! I trusted you Kalino. And I thought, I thought you and me...that we…”

The Public Transportation pulled up and opened its door as it started to rain.

Frannie wiped her face on her sleeve as she picked up Ziba and her luggage. 

“What?” Kalino said. “You thought what?”

“Who cares,” Frannie replied. “It doesn’t matter now; none of it does. Keep the money for yourself, I don’t want it.”

“Fran The Man...I...I...”

“Good luck Kalino,” Frannie said. “I hope you get everything that you wanted. Hope you prove everyone you were right.” 

Frannie didn’t turn around as the doors closed behind her. Then she was gone. The rain poured as Kalino stood there and looked on at the street...

Chapter 10 A Crime of Fashion

Kalino eventually walked in from the rain. Most of the Eagles had already dispersed. The rain was not letting up.

Melissa ran up and hugged the slacker. “If you need anything, say so.” 

Kalino said nothing, slumping down at a table in the corner. Vance followed and took a seat beside him.

“Hey partner,” Vance said, “how you holding up?”

Kalino shrugged. 

“Listen,” Vance said, “you can’t be mad at yourself; Frannie didn’t want to stay. Now she can go home.” 

“I thought if I won I...” Kalino said. “...I didn’t tell her.”

Vance scratched his mustache. “Well. I don’t know how you’d tell someone that. Sometimes you have to keep people in the dark for their own good. Just remember, you did the right thing.”

Kalino said nothing. 

Eventually, Vance coughed, wished Kalino goodnight and left. Kalino laid his head against the table…

In the hall Pascal was tiptoeing around a corner, where he bumped into Xidorn. The two fell to the floor, Xidorn gripping his hand tightly. 

Pascal forced a smile. “Oh Xidorn. Good to see you buddy. How’d the elimination ceremony go?”

“I’m still here,” Xidorn replied, shoving his hand into his pocket. “Sorry to disappoint.”

Pascal pushed his way past the straight shooter. “Oh well; there’s always next time.”

“Good flashdrive hunting!” Xidorn shouted back before heading down the hall. He looked down at his fist and smirked to himself. 

Xidorn entered the usual commons room, where Seraphina was watching an old movie. The psychic jumped on her feet and sighed in relief at the sight of Xidorn. 

“Thank god,” Seraphina said, embracing her boyfriend. 

“I’m glad to see you too,” Xidorn replied. “But I told you it wouldn’t be me.”

“Who was it then?” Seraphina asked. 

Xidorn sighed. “Frannie. Apparently she was homesick, so we voted for her. I’d have told you sooner, but I only found out right before the elimination ceremony.”

“I guess I didn’t need my plan,” Seraphina muttered. 

“I have something I want to...plan?” 

Xidorn separated and stared at Seraphina, who blushed. 

“I decided I wasn’t going to sit back and cause your elimination,” Seraphina admitted. “So I went looking for the immunity flash drive, and while I didn’t find it...I did see some Eagles leave Pascal’s room, probably his roommate’s friends.”

“So?” Xidorn asked. 

“ gave me an idea,” Seraphina admitted. “The whole reason you were on the chopping block was for ‘fraternizing with the enemy’. If someone was doing the same thing, on a much bigger scale, then the target would be off of you.”

“That rumor going on,” Xidorn stated, his eyes growing wide. 

Seraphina nodded. “I made up the rumor about an interteam alliance. We were shocked to see you voted off Hayden, so I tied that into it. I told the other Fireworks, knowing it would spread. I knew no one would suspect you, you’re too honest.”

“So you told this huge lie?” Xidorn asked. 

“Yeah,” Seraphina replied. “Why, what’s the big deal? It was a game move.”

“If your plan would have worked,” Xidorn said. “It could have sent home someone completely innocent.” 

“Someone has to go home and I’d rather it not be you,” Seraphina said. “Especially for a stupid reason.” 

“What’s the difference between this and any lie Pascal told?” Xidorn asked. 

“I did it to save someone I care about,” Seraphina shouted. “I did it to protect you. Not to get ahead or some petty reason.”

“So you’re willing to let someone else take the fall?” Xidorn replied. 

“Your team was willing to turn on you for dating me,” Seraphina countered. “People will use any reason they can to vote someone off and save themselves!”

“So that makes it right for you do the same thing?” Xidorn asked. 

Seraphina sighed. “I guess not...but we can’t do the right thing all the time. I’m not going to be an idiot and take the higher ground. I mean is taking the high ground worth giving up two million dollars? Is it worth letting some ass have a better chance? Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and do what you have to do to make it through another day.” 

“I’d rather take the high ground than lie and manipulate others,” Xidorn stated. “Even if it is two million dollars.”

“So I should have just sat back and let you go home because of me?” Seraphina asked. “I should have done nothing?”

“I’m fine,” Xidorn stated. “We didn’t need your plan because Frannie was homesick. Even if she wasn’t, I have friends. I wouldn’t be voted out for it.”

“I know you want to believe that but that's not what I heard!” Seraphina replied. “Riley's roommates with Weston; he said your name had been brought up.”

Xidorn’s expression didn’t change. "You didn't trust me."

He sat down next to the psychic, but turned away from her. They sat there, not moving, not speaking, not looking at each other for a few minutes. 

“This is for you.”

Xidorn opened his hand to reveal a red flash drive. 

“Where did you-”

“I saw it sticking out of a potted plant,” Xidorn explained. “The one near your room. Take it.”

Seraphina grabbed it. “I...thank you.”

A few more minutes passed. Xidorn stood up and left. Seraphina watched him leave, then turned away.

Outside of another common room, Griswold stood waiting outside the door.

“I’ve just got to be honest,” Griswold whispered to himself. “We just need to slow it down.”

Griswold started to knock on the door, only for Lita to fling it open. “Oh Gris, I thought I heard you whispering to yourself out here.”

“Lita there’s something I have to tell you,” Griswold stated. 

Lita tugged on her scarf. “Yes Griswold?”

“Uh...squeak! Squeak!”

“What?” Lita asked. 

“I your hair,” Griswold mumbled.

“Oh thanks,” Lita laughed. “Your pompadour looks good as usual. So, I thought tonight we could watch something special.”

Lita pulled out a DVD titled…

The Notebook?” Griswold asked.

Lita snuggled his shoulder. “Yeah. Its my favorite movie actually! You know it's a movie that couples watch, cause its so romantic. And we’re a couple so-”

“I’ve seen it,” Griswold stated. “Me and my sisters usually watch it with our mama. She bawls like crazy at it.”

Lita frowned. “I’ll start it.” 

In the secret observation room, RhondaJenny and Toby were holding a meeting. 

“Now that’s the advertisements handled for the next few episodes,” Rhonda finished. “Onto other news; are you two aware of that vulture?”

The camera panned up to reveal a vulture circling the co-hosts.

“Oh yeah,” Jenny replied, “It's been stalking us ever since then the first challenge. I’m pretty sure it thinks Toby is going to keel over soon, since he basically looks like a corpse.”

“Your outside is a direct reflection of your inside,” Toby stated.

“I’ve named her Elaine,” Jenny stated.

Rhonda shrugged, and went on with business.

Early that next morning, before the sun had even come out, Melissa left her room. Using her tiptoes, she made her way downstairs. Turning behind her, she tripped and fell down the stairs in a clatter. She landed on top of Aiden

“Gee wilkers Melissa,” Aiden stated. “You alright?” 

“I am fine,” Melissa replied. “Are you alright snookums?”

Melissa and Aiden stood up and dusted the other off. 

“Just dandy,” Aiden replied. “What are you doing up at this hour?”

“I just wanted to do some baking,” Melissa admitted. “Why are you up?”

Aiden shifted his eyes back and forth. “Have you heard those rumors about an interteam alliance?”

Melissa shook her head.

“Rumor is they were responsible for Hayden's elimination,” Aiden replied. “I’ve been looking for clues on who they are.”

“I wouldn't pay any mind to any rumors,” Melissa said. “Sweetie, Hayden just didn’t mesh well with everyone. That’s why he’s gone.”

Aiden shook his head. “That can’t be it. There has to be something else.”

Melissa sighed. “Aiden, I...I was thinking we-”

“-I’m sorry Melissa, I’ve got to go find more clues,” Aiden interrupted. ‘I’ll see you later.” 

The patriot marched off.

Melissa trudged towards the kitchen. Her eyes widened as she saw Kalino asleep on the table. She snuck into the kitchen and took the secret passage to her room.

She came back with a blanket and draped it over the slacker. 

In Ness' room, Ness and Lita were going through their morning routine, as Seraphina was sprawled out in bed, face buried in a pillow. 

“How’d your date go last night Lita?” Ness asked. 

Lita grimaced. “Great."

Ness started brushing her hair. "Its weird, it feels like its been almost a year since we've been on this show, huh?"

"Amen," Lita replied. "How long has it been?"

Ness shrugged. "We started at the end of May, right?" 

"Ooh!" Lita exclaimed. "Let's look at my new calendar and see if we can tell. 

Ness’ eyes grew wide, and she snapped her hairbrush in half. 

Lita strutted over towards the side of the room. “Any excuse to look at my calendar of food and hunky gu-”

Lita froze and frowned. Her calendar was tossed on the ground. The knockout picked it up, and her jaw dropped. “What in the world?”

“I didn’t rip out June’s calendar page!” Ness screamed. 

“No one said you did sweetie,” Lita replied. “Look at who's on my July cover.” 

Ness giggled as she saw the cover; Ignacio sporting American flag briefs and grilling burgers. 

“I can’t believe Iggy is in your calendar,” Ness teased. “Should we tell him? Or do you think he’ll get too embarrassed.” 

“I have to tell him,” Lita stated, “because he is overcooking those patties. That is a waste of meat products!” 

“I feel like you only bought the calendar for the food,” Ness joked. “The hot guys were just a bonus.”

“Girl, stop calling me out,” Lita laughed.

“The truth is I did actually got rid of Lita’s June calendar page,” Ness admitted. “My birthday is coming up and I don’t want the girls to know. My birthdays tend to be pretty bad...worse than usual actually. I have to celebrate it at home, but I’d like not to here. So if everyone thinks we’ve skipped ahead to next month, we can avoid it entirely.” 

In the hotel’s lobby, Rhonda, Toby and Jenny were escorting the elderly lady from before inside. 

“Thank you for allowing me to tour the Pentagram Raina,” the old lady stated.

“No problem Ms…”

“Holmes,” the old lady replied. “Ms. Holmes. Its beautiful architecture; you know this hotel was closed off to the public for years after the murder and subsequent treasure hunters.”

“You mentioned a treasure before,” Rhonda said, “What is this treasure?” 

“No one knows for certain,” Ms. Holmes replied, “the owner was a wealthy man and took many valuables from his victims.”

“You know it's one thing to be a serial killer,” Jenny said. “But a murderer and a thief? That’s just rude.”

“On his execution day he said his greatest treasure was still hidden in the hotel,” Ms. Holmes explained. “He said it was in the hotel’s ‘heart he’. Whatever that means. To this day, it has never been found.” 

“I’m sure it won’t be a plot point later,” Toby stated.

“You know the owner said he designed the hotel after a pentagram to ensure he could finish his plans,” Ms. Holmes continued. “Right before he was executed, he said he placed a curse on the hotel. Said the curse would allow his spirit to haunt the hotel and continue his business forever.”

“He cursed it?” Rhonda asked.

“Oh yes,” the old lady replied. “It's the reason his ghost haunts the place.” 

“What do you mean?” Rhonda asked.

“He didn’t die here,” the old lady stated. “He died in the electric chair. Why would his ghost be in the hotel?”

Rhonda blinked. “I uh…I never thought about that.” 

Jenny shook her head. “What a dummy.” 

“Look whose talking,” Toby said.

“YOUR MOM!” Jenny shouted. 

“So, could we tour the underground catacombs?” Ms. Holmes asked. 

“Afraid not,” Rhonda replied. “Orders from the higher-ups. But we can let you see the new Internet cafe in the hotel!”

In a common room, Xidorn slouched on the coach and was trying to watch some movie. Rushing in the room comes Weston, who halted to a stop and stared at the screen.

“Oh hey Weston,” Xidorn said. “What’s up?”

“I got lost looking for the bathroom again,” Weston said. 

“You know there are bathrooms in our room,” Xidorn explained.

“Ohh!” Weston exclaimed. “Now if I could just find my room….are you watching a Cornelious Puckerschmidt film?” 

Xidorn smiled a bit. “Yeah, it's during his weird Japanophile phase, Rise of the Wily Takunis.”

“I say he’s still in that phase,” Weston joked. “Why are you watching it all alone?” 

“To be honest,” Xidorn said, “Seraphina and I got in a fight. I'm trying to process how I feel about it.” 

“Aw jeez,” Weston sighed. “I’ve only recently started one, but I bet it isn’t fun.” 

“Weston you’re a well sprung of simple but deep truths,” Xidorn replied. 

“I get that a lot,” Weston replied.

"Can I ask you something?" Xidorn questioned. "Would you have voted me out last night?"

"No way!" Weston declared. "Someone did say they were thinking of voting for you. Can't remember who though. But I like having you here. Plus, you're the first person I've met with naturally blue hair!"

Xidorn laughed. "Thanks Weston, I appreciate it."

“Do you mind if I watch this with you?” Weston asked.

Xidorn patted the couch next to him. “I was hoping you’d ask.” 

In the billiards room, Riley, Easton and Griswold were playing another game of pool.

Easton shook the rack. "So how'd it go last night Gris? Did you talk to her?"

Griswold blushed. "Well I..."

"Nope," Riley stated, shaking her head.

"I'm sorry," Griswold admitted, "I'm trying! I will soon, I just don't want to hurt her feelings."

"As long as I get invited to the wedding," Easton joked.

"Have you talked to your brother?" Riley asked.

"We're not starting that again," Easton replied. " is he? He tell you anything?"

"He asked what the mac in mac and cheese was," Riley replied. "I really didn't have the answer."

"How come you don't have problems dude?" Griswold asked.

Riley lined up her cue with the ball and prepared to break. "Cause I'm awesome."

Riley rammed the ball with her cue, firing it off the table and out the secret passage. A sound like glass breaking followed.

Griswold laughed. "The awesomest."

The next day, Xidorn and Vance were in the library…

“Eat...them...with a f, f, fox,” Vance read, from Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. “Eat a box.” 

“That’s right!” Xidorn cheered. “Awesome job Vance.” 

Vance spit and tossed the book against the wall. “Aw great, I could read as well as **** preschooler!” 


“I feel like an idiot!” Vance shouted. “If I’m just now reading a picture book, how am I ever going to really read? How is anyone ever going to take me seriously?”

“Throwing the book isn’t going to help,” Xidorn retorted. “I know its tough, but you’re making progress and that’s what counts!”

Vance had crossed his arms and faced away.

Xidorn reached his hand out to the cowboy’s shoulder, but the cowboy pulled away. 

Xidorn sighed. “I think that’s enough for today. Hey listen, I’m going to a movie later tonight, you want to come with us?” 

Vance turned around a little bit. “Well...who are you going with?”

“Weston,” Xidorn replied.

“Weston!” Vance exclaimed. “Why are you going to the movies with that polecat?”

“Because we’re friends,” Xidorn answered. “We enjoy a lot of the same movies and directors.”

Vance pouted and sniffled. “You’re my deputy though...”

“I still am,” Xidorn insisted. “But I have other friends, like you and Kalino are friends.”

“Why do you have to hang out with Weston though?” Vance asked. 

I know you and Weston haven’t always gotten along,” Xidorn stated, “but I think you could! You actually have a lot in common.”

“Oh yeah?” Vance asked. “Like what?”

“Well for starters you both asked me what the mac in mac and cheese is,” Xidorn stated. “And you both asked me if Santa Claus visits Jewish kids.”

“Psh, everyone asks those same questions,” Vance replied. “doesn’t mean I’m Weston’s new twin.” 

“You’re both members of the same team,” Xidorn added. “You're both cool guys I like.”

“That’s because everyone likes me,” Vance stated.

Xidorn shifted his eyes back and forth. “Honestly I-”

“I ain’t doing it,” Vance stated. “And that’s final!” 

“Come on, give him a chance,” Xidorn pleaded. “Please, for me.”

Xidorn held his hands together and made ‘puppy dog’ eyes at Vance, widening his eyes and batting them at the faux cowboy. 

“The puppy dog eyes won’t work on me this time,” Vance stated. “No sir, you will not-”

Vance and Xidorn were preparing to leave for the movies. Weston tripped down the stairs, wiping out in front of the honest abe and the rodeo star. 

“Ready for the newest superhero crossover Xi...ance?” Weston asked. 

“It’s Vance,” the cowboy corrected. “With a V, like in violin or the two in W.” 

Weston frowned. “Xidorn, can I talk to you in private?”

The straight shooter and twin scooted by into the corner, Vance scowling at Weston. 

“What is that meany pants doing here?” Weston pouted. 

“I invited Vance along,” Xidorn explained. “I thought you guys should get to know each other.” 

Weston frowned. “I think I know him pretty well. Enough to know I don’t want to hang out with him.”

Xidorn batted his eyes and began making a puppy dog face. “Come on, it's not too much to ask if I try to have my friends hang out, is it?” 

Weston cringed and turned away. “Uhh...okay, just stop making puppy dog eyes.”

Xidorn beamed. “Woo! Let’s go have fun at the movies!”

Weston sniffled. “I can still feel them looking at me…”

“Me and Vance?” Weston asked. “I don’t see it. That guy is kind of mean, like a bear. But not a panda bear, or a teddy bear, or a gummy bear, or a care bear. Those are the nice bears! There’s no way me and him could ever-”

Xidorn, Weston and Vance exit the movie theater laughing with their arms synced together. 

“That was a blast!” Weston cheered.

“You can say that again partner,” Vance agreed. “And it's thanks to these two funny guys right here!”

“Right back at you buddy!” Weston stated. 

“Vance is actually pretty cool,” Weston admitted. “I mean I finally found someone who also wants to know what the mac in mac and cheese is! He grew up around farms too, but his had animals like horses and even ostriches! The animals on Nebraskan farms are usually just corn.” 

“I mean I kinda always knew Weston and I would get along,” Vance bragged. “We’re both thinkers, you know? I mean this guy gets it, let me tell you. He was obviously impressed by my rodeo skills. I might even let him become my backup deputy.” 

Xidorn crossed his arms and smirked. “What did I say? I knew they’d hit it off. Part of the reason I wanted them to hang out is I think they need to make more friends, just so they can have a bigger support system. Another thing they have in common is that they’re both going through some rough times.”

The following day, Cynthia walked down the hall, sharpening her knives. From around the corner, Aiden crawled on the ground and followed her.

"Operation Ghost Eagle is a go," Aiden whispered to himself. "Let's see where you're going. To meet your secret alliance?"

Cynthia stopped and shot a glance backwards.

"Eep!" Aiden squealed, hightailing it out of there. "Abort mission, abort mission!"

Cynthia turned around and continued on her way, stopping at a broom closet and sneaking inside.

"Hi Cynthia," Weston greeted. "Uh, why are we meeting in her again?"

"To keep it a secret," Cynthia replied. "I think someone is on to us."

"I'll get them off you Cynthia!" Weston stated, brushing the girl's back. Weston pulled Cynthia closer to him, then blushed as their faces were only inches apart. The two moved in closer...till Weston recoiled back.

"Ouch," Weston stated. "I think I accidentally bit my lip."

Weston motioned towards his bottom lip, showing where was blood was trickling down.

Cynthia grabbed Weston and pulled him towards her. Weston giggled as the two began making out.

Meanwhile, the other contestants ate in the cafeteria, enjoying the peace and quiet.

A piercing crackle was heard over the loud speaker. “Its time for the challenge newbies! Everyone on the bus in five fabulous minutes!” 

The TDG bus departed, eventually stopping outside of glitzy, glittery hotel. The newcomers entered through the lobby, gazing at racks of fashion magazines and headless mannequins modeled in unrealistic positions.

They reached the elevator and headed towards the top floor. But instead of hotel rooms, the elevator opened up to a catwalk and judges’ table. 

“Welcome contestants to The Hotel de Couture,” Rhonda announced. “One of the most expensive and exclusive hotels, and one of the many amazing hotels that are part of our main company’s chain!”

She paused and forced a smile. “Only the most on-point fashionistas stay here. Now as you can probably tell, this place is not only a hotel but hosts many fashion shows…”

Rhonda motioned beyond her as stage lights lit up the runway.

“Which brings us to today’s challenge,” Rhonda said. “Our very own fashion show! Each team must design outfits and model them on this runway.”

“Ain’t that the berries!” Vance shouted. “They got a model on their team!”

“Didn’t you guys have a circus acrobat in a high wire challenge?” Ignacio replied. “Or a track star compete in shot put? Or a Washington local in the race around Washington?” 

Vance pouted his lip. “Well…”

“This is a fashion challenge,” Rhonda stated. “Modeling is only a small part of it. If you’re still sore about it, get over it because I’m not making special accommodations. Trust me, life isn’t fair.”

Rhonda took a deep breath before continuing. “You’ll need to create three outfits for this challenge; swimwear, evening wear and a wedding dress. You'll need three model and at least one male and one female model. We’ll then have a fashion show, where are mystery designer judges will decide the winners.”

“Mystery designer judges?” Ness whispered.

“I bet it’s just Jenny and Toby,” Seraphina replied. “Probably wearing over-sized hats or something.” 

“You can use any of the materials backstage for your clothes,” Rhonda stated. “If you need other materials, you each have a little spending money you can use at the fabric store down the street. See you in five hours!”

In a designer's room towards stage left, the Fizzled Fireworks gathered around Griswold.

“So what’s fashionable Ignacio?” Griswold asked.

“I don’t know,” Ignacio replied.

“Wait what?” Seraphina questioned. "Why not?"

“Guys I’m adorned in the same sweatshirt everyday,” Ignacio stated. “I have no knowledge of couture.”

“But aren’t you a model?” Easton asked.

“I model underwear, the clothes others aren’t suppose to see,” Ingacio replied. “Except for people who still think sagging their pants is cool. The point is I wear clothes, not design them.”

“What about you Seraphina?” Griswold asked. “Your shawl is totally spiffy.”

“It’s from a dead relative,” Seraphina replied. “Which is my extent of fashion and also shows Griswold’s out.”

“That’s fair,” Griswold replied and patted his pompadour. “I’m more known for my great hair.”

“Well I am a celebrity,” Pascal stated. “So I’d say I’m pretty high fashion.”

“Is that why you were that beanie everywhere?” Seraphina asked.

“Hey my hat is super cool,” Pascal said. “And it was…a gift from a friend…”

“Lita you know this stuff, right?” Seraphina asked.

Lita raised an eyebrow. “Honey I don’t know nothing about clothes. I buy my stuff from on the sales bin at K-mart. Not even the Super K-mart.”

“I thought you looked nice,” Seraphina replied.

“Thank you sweetie,” Lita said. “But the only thing I know about clothes is that fashionable clothes are expensive ones.”

“Not necessarily,” Riley said, “as my outfit can attest to.”

Griswold nodded. “True, true. Wait a minute…Riley could design the outfits for this challenge!”

“Dude, you really think so?” Riley asked.

The other Fireworks exchanged looks. “Uhh…”

Of course bro,” Griswold replied. “Your the swaggiest fashion guru I know.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Riley replied. “Hmm, now let’s see…”

As soon as Riley walked off, the remaining Fireworks huddled together.

“Are we sure this is a good idea?” Easton asked.

“Why would you doubt Riley’s fashion sense?” Griswold asked.

Riley took down a mounted deer head. “Dudes, we could totally make this into a hat! Or if we have two, they could shoulder pads! Or maybe split the face and antlers…”

“I mean I like Riley’s outfit,” Ness said. “It’s totally cool! But it’s not what comes to mind when I think of high fashion. More like…little red dresses and lots of jewelry.”

“I guess its not that,” Griswold said. “But I have full faith that Riley will knock it out of the park for this challenge.”

In the back, Riley is dancing with the deer head on.

“I guess you’re the leader,” Seraphina said. “And nobody else knows anything.”

“Sweet!” Griswold cheered.

Riley jumped. “Don’t leave me out of the team huddle. What’s up?”

“Just deciding models,” Seraphina lied. “We need two besides Ignacio.”

“It should be Lita and Pascal,” Ness spoke up. “They’re really attractive like models.”

“Aw sweetie, thank you,” Lita replied.

“You think I’m attractive?” Pascal asked.

“I’m sure she meant anyone but you,” Seraphina said. “Like that dead deer head.”

Ness blushed. “I uh, I just um…I meant you attract the audience with your energy. You are a performer, so you’d do good on the catwalk.”

“It is another stage,” Pascal agreed.

“Ness doesn’t like me right?” Pascal asked. “Psh, what I am talking about? Being with Ness is more like having a little sister. I’m sure she probably feels the same way.”

“So who gets what outfit?” Ignacio asked.

“Dibs on the wedding dress!” Lita shouted. 

“Swimwear is for showing off skin,” Seraphina admitted. I recommend you take it Ignacio.”

“Really?” Ignacio murmured and blushed.

“You do model underwear,” Easton said. “A speedo is basically underwater underwear.”

“I don’t think this deer head would make a good speedo,” Riley said. “Maybe a squirrel…”

“I’ve always dreamed about trying on wedding dresses,” Lita swooned. “You know, all your girlfriends giving you advice, modeling the gown, a sassy designer snapping his fingers, all the works! And then to strut down that church, have my dream guy lift my veil and tell me how much he loves me in that dress...isn’t that what every girl dreams of?”

“What do I dream of?” Riley asked. “Two words; monkey, butlers. Like its a monkey in a tuxedo who will make you little sandwiches and do laundry. Isn’t that what everyone dreams of?”

“Does anyone have any sewing skills?” Griswold asked.

Ness raised her hand halfway. “Not with clothes. But I know how to use a needle and stitch; I learned from some free classes at the vet’s clinic...and personal experience.”

“Vet classes?” Easton asked.

“Mhmm, I love animals!” Ness exclaimed. “I plan on becoming a veterinary.” 

Everyone stared at Ness. 



In a flashback, the Fizzled Fireworks walked down the street. On the side of a road, a one eyed cat limps in an alley. 

“Oh no,” Ness gasped, “that poor kitty is hurt. We should call a-“


The cat leapt onto Ness’ face, forcing her backwards where she slipped on a banana peel and fell into a dumpster. 


“I think it just coughed a hairball in my mouth…”

In another flashback, Seraphina approached Lita in the lobby. 

“I’m so excited for this trip,” Seraphina said. “Where’s Ness?”

“The girls’ room,” Lita replied.


Ness ran screaming out of the bathroom, a piece of toilet paper stuck to her boot. Seconds later, a sewer gator crawled out after her. 

“Huh,” Seraphina said, “it's smaller than usual.” 

In another flashback, the Fireworks are dancing at a party in the girls’ dorm.

“Easton look out!” Ness yelled.

Easton froze, along with everyone. “Huh?” 

Ness bent down and picked up a caterpillar almost crushed under Easton’s foot. “You almost squashed this little guy.”

“Its just a caterpillar,” Pascal said. “There are about ten dead ones in the window sill.” 

Ness blushed. “It's just he’s got a whole life to look forward to. He hasn’t even had a chance to be a butterfly yet. I’ll be back, I’m going to let him back outside.”

A few minutes later and the Fireworks were back to partying. 

“Where on Earth is Ness?” Lita asked. “You don’t think she got mugged, or kidnapped, or abducted or-“

“-We’ll check,” Seraphina said, opening the door. “But I’m sure she’s just-“

They froze as they found Ness passed out in a pool of her own blood, the caterpillar bathing itself. 

Ness blushed as the other Fireworks gave her questioning or concerned looks.

“Okay, I’m not the best with animals,” Ness admitted. “But I can use a needle.”

"We'll take it!" Griswold stated. "Get us started Riley..." 

On the right side of the stage, the Molting Eagles discovered a similar problem...

"...None of us have any fashion sense," Aiden sighed. 

"So what do we do?" Weston asked. 

No one said anything, looking over at the others for a sign. 

"Does anyone have any ideas?" Melissa asked. "There's no such thing has a bad idea."

"Could we buy clothes and wear those?" Weston asked. 

"I think that would defeat the purpose of the challenge," Xidorn stated. "It is a designing contest. I don't think we have enough money for a good wedding dress, let alone three whole outfits." 

"I've hemmed clothes before for the needy," Melissa said. "So I have a few skills with sewing. Any ideas for a design? Aiden sweetie?"

Aiden shook his head and looked down at the ground. 

"This is why we need Hayden," Aiden stated. "If he was here, he'd know what to do. But its my fault he isn't."

"The magazines."

The Eagles turned to see Kalino, pulling a magazine off a shelf and flipping through it.

"This hotel is covered in fashion magazines," Kalino explained. "We can borrow some designs from them, simplify the designs for our skills, and then model it. There in fashion magazines, so they have to be fashionable."

Melissa clapped. "Brilliant idea Kalino!"

"Thanks," Kalino said. "Melissa, you model the wedding dress, I'll model the swimsuit and for the evening wear..."

"How about about Cynthia?" Melissa suggested. "I'm sure she'd look gorgeous in a evening dress."

"I second that!" Weston agreed. Melissa gave the twin a look.

Everyone else tried not to sweat too obviously.

Kalino forced a smile. "Mannnn, if that's what Cynthia wants, then totally! Right guys?"

The others nodded, trying to avoid eye contact.

Cynthia shrugged. "I don't care."

"Its settled then!" Vance shouted. "Lets get busier than a moth in a mitten!"

The teams got to work as best they could, their respective sewers trying to pass on what they know to their team members and crafting designs, eventually making some progress.

Over at the Fireworks, Lita and Ignacio were in the changing room. A metallic buzz was heard humming in the background.

Lita frowned as she looked at herself in the mirror; the dear head had been converted into a headdress. Between the antlers an American flag veil was suspended. The wedding dress was meanwhile created almost entirely of emerald like snake skin and had a long 'trail' of various feathers flowing behind it.

The metallic buzzing stopped. "So how bad is it?"

Lita twirled back and forth in the dress, almost tripping on the wooden clogs she wore. "I think my husband would leave me at the altar."

"That bad?" Ignacio asked, hidden behind a changing cover.

"There is one bright side," Lita admitted, pulling out a handful of cheese fries from her bra. "Riley made a bra with a cheese fry cup. I will never not wear it. How's yours?"

"Itchy and tight."

Lita turned around and nearly fell over again in her clogs; Ignacio walked out in a squirrel fur speedo, but more striking was that he was shaven. His facial hair was gone and his body was silky smooth. Even his hair was cut to a stylized, swept look. Ignacio looked almost identical to his modeling photos.

"Who they heck are you and what have you have done with my hairy friend," Lita teased.

Ignacio blushed. "I thought it might help if I look more like a model, maybe get some bonus points."

"Well you can certainly pull it off," Lita replied, turning back to the mirror and adjusting her headdress.

"You look great too Lita," Ignacio replied. "I wouldn't leave you at the altar."

Lita turned around, but stumbled in her clogs and fell forward. She grabbed onto the model for support, knocking right into him...with her chest.

"Phew, that was a close one," Lita exhaled.

Ignacio was turning all shades of red, as his face was plastered against Lita's...features. "I...I um...this is not okay, not that you, but I...I'm not that, its not...I got to go!"

Ignacio sprinted out of the modeling room. Lita raised an eyebrow, before shrugging and pulling out another handful of cheese fries.

The model dashed into the nearest room and held his face in hands. "What on earth Ignacio! Come on!"


Ignacio looked up to see Ness, tailoring a purple sequined vest. "Everything okay?"

Ignacio blushed. "Its nothing."

"You can tell me," Ness insisted. "We're teammates."

Ignacio sank to the floor. " and Lita were changing and she...she kind of smothered me in her chest."

Ness blinked. "Oh. You guys both okay?"

Ignacio shook his head. "Yes, yes we're both fine. But...I liked it."

Ness blinked. "And?"

"And Lita is with Griswold!" Ignacio shouted.

"Were you going to make a move on her?" Ness asked.

"Of course not," Ignacio replied. "Griswold and Lita are my friends."

"Then what's the problem?" Ness asked.

Ignacio buried his head into knees. "The problem is, I'm a huge hypocrite. I get so annoyed at everyone fawning and flirting with me, but I'm no better. I'm really attracted to Lita...and other girls too. But I shouldn't be! Everyone expects me to be some kind of pervert...and they're right."

Ness took a seat next to the model. "Okay, so you're attracted to people. You're also a teenager. And teenagers have hormones. Lots of hormones."

Ness blushed. "I just mean, its okay to be attracted to someone. I'm attracted to lots of people! Err...I guess I'm saying, its okay to feel things, it happens. You shouldn't be ashamed of that, its not a sin. But its what you do that matters."

Ignacio looked up and blushed. "Thanks Ness. When you explain it like that, I guess I kind of feel silly."

"Don't," Ness replied. "Its not silly at all. Now, lets go and win this challenge!"

Ignacio nodded and helped Ness back on to her feet.

On the right side, Melissa flipped through a wedding magazine as she sewed a white dress as carefully as she could. Looking up, she saw Aiden tiptoeing by.

"Yoohoo sugarlamb!" Melissa called.

Aiden froze and blushed. "Oh hey Melissa. How's the wedding dress coming?"

Melissa smiled. "Its been going wonderful, thank you for asking. Where have you been? I haven't seen you recently."

"I've been eavesdropping," Aiden admitted, "trying to figure out whose in that alliance."

Melissa shook her head. "Buttercup, I don't think there's any truth in that rumor. Cynthia even voted for Hayden."

Aiden raised an eyebrow. "Hmm, she could be in that secret alliance."

"Pardon me but no she's not," Melissa stated. "I know everyone seems afraid of Cynthia, but that's only part of who she is; the other part is a a wonderful friend...even if she doesn't want to be my friend. Listen, if you could help out with the challenge I need more embroidery. Take this to the fabric store and see if you can find some of this cloth."

"But I-"

Aiden slumped into the fabric store. "Let's see, Melissa said she needed some kind of embroidery..."

"What's with the long face sonny?"

Aiden pivoted around and nearly fell over gasping. "Is that...the President of The United States!"

To the left of the American was a crowd of buff, tall secret agents forming a circle around a concealed figure.

"Gee wilkers is that really you-"

"Call me The Prez," the figure in the circle stated. "Everyone does. I see by your shirt, you also another warm red, white and blue blooded American. What's your name?"

"Aiden," the boy managed to spit out. "Its just an honor to meet you."

"The honor is all mine," the president replied. "Now like I asked Aiden, what's wrong?"

"Oh you don't want to hear about it," Aiden said.

"I'm concerned with the concerns of the American population," the president answered. "Now, tell me what's up?"

The circle of bodyguards opened up and pushed Aiden inside, who blushed. "Well, I'm on this reality show and my friend got voted off. I feel like its my fault."

"Could you have stopped it?" the president asked.

Aiden scratched his head. "I don't think so. I know why he went home, even though I keep telling myself there's another reason. Honestly, I just wish...wish I could have told him how grateful I was we were friends. The truth is, I didn't accept him, or my girlfriend, and I still feel like a jerk for it."

"If you accept them now, then what's the problem?" the president asked.

"My beliefs haven't changed too much," Aiden admitted. "I mean, I really care for them and I'd defend them from anybody. I mean, the beautiful thing about America is that we're based on freedom; they are who they, and they should be here, whether we agree or not."

"Amen," the president agreed.

"But I didn't treat them like that at the time," Aiden said. "I don't know if I can ever make it up to Hayden, especially now that he's gone."

"The way I see it you can't change the past," the president stated. "But you can change what's happening right now, and that can change the future. As president, America's future is my biggest concern. So what I do what I can when I'm in the office to create a great future for America."

Aiden wiped away a tear. "That's beautiful. But what should I do?"

"If you continue to care for your friends then they'll know you accept them," the president said.

"Golly you're right," Aiden stated. "Except I haven't been there for Melissa. But I need to know! First I have to get that cloth."

"I'll pay for it," the president stated. "Take it and help your friend."

"Thank you so much," Aiden stated, running from the circle with the embroidery. "And um...can I ask you one question?"

The president laughed. "Of course. What's up?"

Aiden blushed. "Um, why are you not wearing any clothes?"

"I'm expressing my freedom as a citizen of America!" the president replied. "And I really just like shopping naked. Now go Aiden, go!"

Aiden nodded and ran off.

The scene cut back to the hotel, where Aiden was visiting...

"Cynthia," Aiden called.

Inside the dressing room, the pale girl was modeling a sleek, black dress. It was simple in design, but very formal.

"Listen I know we've had our issues," Aiden stated. "And you haunt me in my nightmares. But Melissa cares about you, and I believe you care about Melissa."

"Of course I do," Cynthia replied.

"Well for some reason, she thinks you don't," Aiden replied. "Please, can you talk to her? I'm worried about her."

Cynthia walked out immediately.

Soon, Cynthia found her way to Melissa's dressing room and threw open the door. Melissa was trying on her wedding dress.

"Oh hello Cynthia," Melissa greeted. "You look beautiful."

"You too," Cynthia said. "Aiden just spoke with me."

"What did he say?" Melissa asked.

"He told me something was wrong," Cynthia stated. "Between us."

Melissa turned away. "Its nothing. I don't want to bother you. I know you still probably need to-"

"-I can't help if I don't know what's wrong," Cynthia answered.

Melissa looked down. "I know we're different Cynthia, and that you like being alone. You don't have to be friend if you want to."

Cynthia walked up next to Melissa. "Its true, I don't mind being alone. I'm fine by myself. But, I also like being your friend."

Melissa gasped. "Really?"

"Obviously," Cynthia replied. "You're extremely kind and thoughtful. And you also don't question my knives or chainsaw."

"There one of the things I love about you," Melissa cheered, throwing her arms around her friend.

"Where did you even get this idea?" Cynthia asked.

"Well Easton was asking questions and I-"

"-Easton's an idiot," Cynthia stated.

"And every time I tried to hang out with you, you were with Weston," Melissa explained. "I guess I thought maybe he was your new friend."

"He's not," Cynthia stated. "You're my best friend."

Melissa let out a squee and glomped Cynthia again. "You're mine! But then, why are you and Weston always hanging out? And he's always whispering to you, and looking at you, and you're always eating together, and he thinks you look pretty in this dress and..."

Melissa froze and blinked. "Oh...oh! Cynthia, you and Weston?"

"Yes," Cynthia admitted. "We're dating."

"Oh my goodness that's adorable!" Melissa cheered. "You two look so cute together! Ooh, we should all double date! Do you prefer to be called Ceston or Wnythia?"

"We're keeping it a secret," Cynthia explained. "Both from that idiot Easton, and after what happened with Xidorn."

Melissa nodded. "I understand completely. I promise not to tell anyone."

"Attention everyone!" Rhonda's voice over the P.A. announced. "Our mystery celebrity judges have arrived! Its time to make it work!"

As the models waited backstage, the newcomers took their seats in the audience.

"Its my pleasure to announce the celebrity guests who will judge this challenge!" Rhonda announced. "Presenting the dynamic duo of...Chip McCazmerick & Flutina Weathers!"

Strutting out on stage were two strangers, a man and a woman. The man had chocolate brown hair seems to defy the laws of physics, with sparkly eyes the color of the sky when the sky is inexplicably green. Beside him, a woman whose luscious mane of bubblegum pink hair made the boldest of statements, wearing a tight white dress that certainly did favors for her bust.

"Its a pleasure to be here future fashionistas," Chip greeted. "Me and Flutina are excited-"

"-to see what you've designed today!" Flutina exclaimed. "Molting Eagles, show us what you got!"

Generic pop music, likely royalty free, begin playing as Kalino strutted out.

Rhonda smirked and watched the fashion show from the side. A ding went off, as the elevator arrived on the floor and dropped off the co-hosts.

“Excuse me?” Jenny shouted, marching over to Rhonda while wearing a large sunhat. “I thought me and Toby were going to be the judges! We even wore oversized hats for it!”

Toby slugged behind, wearing a rather tall top hat, with Elaine perched on top.

“Change of plans,” Rhonda answered. “I got celebrity cameos.”

Jenny stomped her feet. “That’s not fair. The readers want more of me, and they need to get it!”

Toby rolled his eyes. “Yes, lets give more scenes focused on all you do, like binge watching and eating all my snacks.”

“YOUR MOM!” Jenny shouted.

“Where did you find these cameos?” Toby asked.

“I knew them from something prior,” Rhonda replied. “Our home company is involved in one of their projects, so I gave them a call and asked for a favor.”

“When did you previously know them?” Toby questioned.

“A project from before we met,” Rhonda stated. “Let’s leave it at that.”

On the runway, Melissa took her final lap. She winked and blew a kiss towards Aiden, who blushed, but winked back and pretended to catch the kiss, putting it in his pocket.

"And now, the Fireworks!" Chip and Fluntia announced.

Ignacio came strutting out in the squirrel fur speedo, almost a completely different person from his smile to the way he walked. The judges blushed as Ignacio gave them a wink...

...however, at that moment the hems in the speedo burst out. The entire thing fell down, leaving Ignacio completely exposed on the stage. The model froze as others gave cheers and whistles.

“Oh my,” Flutina stated, “I thought we were at a fashion show Chip.“

“More like a peep show, huh Flutina?” Chip replied. “Going all-natural is so 2008.”

"Oh no," Ness whimpered. "I sewed that outfit."

"In hindsight we should have seen this coming," Seraphina realized. "I mean, we were kind of just tempting the world to strip Ignacio."

"You mean we didn't plan for this?" Griswold asked. "I thought that's why you suggested him for the speedo."

"This wasn't suppose to happen," Ness sighed, hitting herself in the head over and over again. "Its all my fault!"

Ignacio covered himself and ran backwards, right into Lita's bust.

"Girl down!" Lita screamed as she tripped in her clogs, "Girl down!"

She fell over, her cheese fries spilling all over the stage and slipping up Pascal. The two male models fell on top Lita, pulling the curtain down on top of them. Chip and Flutina shook their heads in unison.

A little bit later, the models got changed. Ignacio burying his face in his hoodie. Rhonda stood to the side as Chip and Flutina overlooked the newcomers.

"Share with us your thoughts Chip and Flutina," Rhonda stated.

"Well its obvious one team could model," Chip stated.

"And one team could not," Flutina added.

“Fireworks your show went up in smoke,” Chip said. “Wouldn’t you agree Flutina?”

Flutina nodded. “As nice as the show was, I came for the clothes. If that stunt proved anything, its that outfit was not made properly. How can anyone wear your clothes if they fall apart?” 

“The models were just unprofessional,” Chip added. “Though I do appreciate the practically of your bra."

“It’s always good to have a Victoria’s Secret compartment,” Flutina agreed. “But overall, Chip and I agree the winners are clearly…”

“...The Fizzled Fireworks!” the duo announced as they struck a pose. 

“Wait what?” Griswold asked. 

Riley fistpumped. “Aww yeah! "

“How did those pig lickers win when they were such a disaster?” Vance asked. 

“This was a fashion challenge designers,” Chip explained. “The Fireworks outfits are fashion that’s out of this world!” 

“Really?” Vance asked. 

“Really?” Seraphina questioned.  

“Really?” even Rhonda asked. 

“Really!” the two fashionistas announced. 

“It’s so unique and original,” Flutina exclaimed. “Its nothing like I’ve seen on any human being before.” 

“Its as if a Fashion Picasso designed it,” Chip continued. “Revolutionary!”

“Aww stop,” Riley replied. “I just thought, ‘what would I wear?'"

“Sorry Eagles,” Chip stated. “But your outfits were seen it, done it, threw it in the fireplace and watched it burn last season.”

“I think I actually burned a dress just like that last year at my annual bonfire,” Flutina admitted. “The fashion industry is one that’s constantly evolving, changing. There’s no time for outdated outfits.” 

“You heard the judges,” Rhonda stated. “Congrats Fizzled Fireworks!” 

The Fireworks clapped as Riley took a bow. 

“As a prize, you each win a twenty dollar shopping spree at the Tyson’s Corner Center!” Rhonda announced. While Eagles, you win an all expense paid trip to the Haunted Internet Cafe.”

“Cool, we won a prize!” Weston cheered. 

Why do I have a suspicion that our prize was meant for the last episode and Rhonda just forgot to give it to us then?” Seraphina asked. 

“That was wonderful fun Chip,” Flutina sighed. “You know I was thinking we should-”

“-host our own fashion themed reality show?” Chip finished. 

The two clapped in unison. 

That night, the Eagles arrived at the Haunted Internet Cafe. 

“Geez Eagles, you guys are getting pretty small,” Rhonda stated. “You’re about to get a whole lot smaller when you vote off one of your own tonight. One of you will not receive a refreshing lemon lime coffee-”

“-Ew,” Weston interrupted. “Have you guys run out of good flavors?” 

“All the coffee tastes like crap here kid,” Toby stated. 

“Is that because we’re in a scary hotel?” Weston said. “You know, to match the theme.”

“Its because I don’t care enough about any of you to learn how to make coffee,” Toby replied. 

“Ahem,” Rhonda coughed. “If I may continue, I have six cups of coffee and there are seven of you. The first cup of coffee goes to... Cynthia and Kalino.”

The two caught their cups without saying a word. 

“Weston, Xidorn.”

The twin sniffed his cup and coughed violently. 


The rodeo star raised his hand to catch it but was too slow. He put it back down quickly and turned away, as if nothing happened.

"Which leaves us with two…”

Melissa gasped and turned to match a confused Aiden. “What? But why?”

“I don’t know,” Aiden replied, wiping away a tear. 

The two grabbed the other’s hand. 

“And the last cup of coffee goes to…

“...Melissa. Aiden, the Revolving Doors of Shame are that way.” 

Melissa and Aiden stood up and embraced. 

“What happened?” Cynthia asked.

Kalino sipped his coffee. 

“I’ve felt awful ever since Frannie left,” Kalino admitted. “I admit it's my fault and part of me regrets it. But I realize I have to do whatever’s best for me, to win the money. If i win, I plan on honoring my deal to Frannie, even if she still hates me. Even if she always hates me. And I wish she were here. But I can’t change the past and, as awful as it is to admit, maybe it's for the best.”

Kalino took another sip. “I heard Aiden was trying to find out more about our alliance and those rumors, so it was best we got rid of him. Sorry pal…”

“I’m sorry Melissa,” Aiden said, “I wanted to be with you till the end. I’m glad it's me over you though.”

“Don’t say that,” Melissa cried. “I don’t want you to go…”

Aiden kissed her cheek. “Don’t going acting like I did, all sad and pouty. I’ll see you again, we do both live in Washington, right?” 

Melissa half smiled. “I guess that’s true. Aiden, I know we’ve been through this and that but….that doesn’t matter; you’re wonderful.”

Aiden wiped away his tears. “You’re a one of kind girl Melissa; I’m so glad I got to meet you. I know you can do anything; you can win this show! I’ll be rooting for you.”

The two kissed one last time. Aiden marched to the Revolving Doors of Shame and saluted the Eagles before leaving. 

Chapter 11 If The Who Fits

Melissa sniffled, as she stared at the Revolving Doors of Shame.

“I’m really sorry Melissa,” Kalino stated. “We just thought that-“

“-Why didn’t you tell me?” Melissa asked.

Kalino, caught off guard, flinched. “What?”

“Even if I don’t fully understand why you decided Aiden,” Melissa explained, “I can’t judge you for voting; someone had to go. But you couldn’t have warned me? Couldn’t even give me a notice or ask me how I was voting?”

Melissa wiped her eyes on her sleeve. “Maybe if I had known, we could have enjoyed our last moments together…had a date or something…”

“We didn’t want to hurt your feelings,” Vance answered. “You know, since you’re so…”

Melissa walked off, not even glancing at her teammates.

The Eagles stood around for a moment, before departing. Only Cynthia and Weston remained.

“I think we might have broken Melissa,” Weston admitted.

Cynthia stared at the twin.

Weston gulped. “I have a feeling your mad, but I can’t tell.”

“Why did you vote Aiden?” Cynthia asked.

Weston gulped. “I heard Vance’s name was up, and we’re actually kind of, sorta friends now…so someone told me voting Aiden would help save him.”

“And you decided not to tell me,” Cynthia stated.

“I just didn’t want to hurt your feelings,” Weston stated. “I’m sorry.”

Cynthia stared. “I can’t blame you. Not when I did the same thing to Melissa by voting Hayden.”

Weston sighed and hugged Cynthia, nuzzling her cheek with his own. “I promise from now on we’ll talk about each elimination…are you still mad?”

“You’re lucky you’re cute,” Cynthia stated.

Melissa slouched in the confessional, her lip quivering. “I’m going to miss Aiden, but I’m not going to give up just because he went home. These past votes have showed me how little any of my teammates trust me, or think much of me… and I don’t know if I can trust any of them. I mean Cynthia is still my friend…even if she wants to keep me in the dark. And her boyfriend voted off mine.”

Melissa sunk even further in the confessional. “I think its fair to say that if we lose the next challenge its me…unless I can find a way to save myself.”

Meanwhile, the Fizzled Fireworks were enjoying their reward from the last challenge, a shopping spree to the mall.

Seraphina was leaving a bracelet store while Ignacio was walking and talking with Lita outside of a nearby pretzel stand.

Lita took another chunk out of her pretzel. “Is it wrong I’m spending all my money on food?”

Ignacio laughed. “That’s what they're here for.”

Lita finished off the rest of the pretzel in one gulp. “Well in that case let me see if I can find some cheese fries…”

Seraphina walked over to the hunk as he watched Lita walk away. “How’s the shopping?”

Ignacio jumped back for a second and blushed. “Oh uh…good. I bought some new clothes, since my clothes tend to…you know. How about you?”

Seraphina smiled, looking left and right, before opening her hand. Inside it were three charm bracelets and a button. “I got Lita, Ness and myself matching friendship bracelets.”

“I didn’t take you for the type,” Ignacio admitted.

"I’m not a jewelry person,” Seraphina replied. “But I didn’t really want anything here. I thought the girls would like them...and I’d maybe like something to remember them by.”

“And the button?” Ignacio asked.

Seraphina put the bracelets back in her shopping bag, revealing the button to be a sky blue unicorn. “It reminded me of Xidorn so I thought maybe he’d like it.”

“I’m sure he will,” Ignacio replied. “And hey listen, don’t worry about us voting you off because of your relationship. Nobody thinks it’s a big deal.”

Seraphina looked away. “Oh, yeah that's not a concern anymore.”

Ignacio pursed his lip. “Is everything okay? Did something happen?”

Seraphina shook her head. “Its…a bit of a long story.”

Ignacio sat on the park bench and patted a seat next to him. “I got time. Especially for a teammate.”

Meanwhile, Riley and Griswold were goofing off in arcade, playing a fighting game. Riley mashed the buttons in quick succession, causing her character to shout random Japanese words and launch a fireball, turning Griswold’s lady ninja into ashes. “Player One Wins!”

"Heck yeah I did!” Riley cheered.

Griswold chuckled, grabbing his sides. “Why I do keep playing games with you?”

“Cause I’m addictive,” Riley retorted, pulling out another quarter. “Hey, did you talk to Lita yet?”

Griswold shifted his eyes back and forth. “Well…no. But I will, I promise!”

Riley sighed and shook her head.

Griswold frowned, glaring for a second. “Why do you care anyway? Its my relationship.”

Riley raised an eyebrow. “Sorry I’m just trying to help. I’ll keep my nose out of it then. Even if this makes no sense.”

“What makes no sense?” Griswold asked.

“You dude,” Riley replied. “Acting like this! You’re so confident at challenges and talking to people usually; why does dating make you uncomfortable?”

“Maybe its cause I’ve never dated before,” Griswold explained.

“You’ve never been on reality TV, but that wasn’t a problem,” Riley countered. “I think its something else.”

Griswold sighed and sat leaned against the wall. “Yeah; I usually feel like I can do anything, but… when I try to talk to girls I feel small…I feel like I’m that little guy I was in middle school. I wasn’t good enough then. Maybe I’m not good enough for a relationship now.”

Riley sat down besides Griswold. “Okay, now I get it. You feel like you’re still that guy who couldn’t do anything.”

“I am that guy,” Griswold said. “I'm big enough to be a wall…but that doesn’t matter in a relationship. And without that, I’m still the loser I was…”

Riley flicked his nose.

Griswold rubbed his nose and stared at her. “Uh…ouch.”

I don’t care for pity parties,” Riley replied. “They're the only parties I don’t like. I don’t know why you’re saying that BS, because it isn’t true man. I mean, a loser? You’re a starting linebacker, leader of this team, and you have a great hair.”

“But in the past I was-“

“-different,” Riley interrupted. “Yeah, everyone’s different in the past. But we change and grow. I don’t care who you are in the past Gris, I care about who you are now.”

“But without my growth spurt-“

“Sure you’re a big guy,” Riley yelled. “But you’re more than that. I call you Gris-Bear not just cause you’re big, but cause you’re kind and caring like a teddy bear. You’re fun, hilarious and smarter than the average bear too. And that’s who you are now. You have to know that man.”

Griswold jumped up. “You’re right. This is ridiculous. I am confident. I’m not my muscles; I’m a grizzly bear, a bulldog and a fizzled firework!”

“That’s what I like to hear,” Riley cheered.

The two bumped fists.

“Thanks Riley,” Griswold stated. “You’re always there for me. You’re the most amazing bro I have."

“Cause you’re totally amazing Brosalina,” Riley replied. “And I’m glad you’re my bro. Now come on, best two out of three.”

“Fine,” Griswold laughed. “Let me get some broritos first; we’re going to need them.”

Riley smirked as the jock left, Easton walking up behind her dressed in survival gear.

“What’s with the get up dude?” Riley asked.

“Just in case I need it,” Easton replied, looking over his shoulder.

“Something is going on with Cynthia and my brother,” Easton stated. “I’m ninety nine percent sure that she is actually a monster, and I’ve seen tons of horror movies. So I know this is going to end with a showdown when she reveals her true form; so I’m preparing to step in and save my brother.”

“What are you and Gris up to?” Easton asked.

“Just having a pep talk,” Riley replied. “Man, I love that guy.”

Easton raised an eyebrow, causing Riley to laugh. “Dude, not like that. We’re homies. Griswold is not my type.”

“Why not?” Easton asked.

“I mean sure we like the same things, and he is funny, fun and totally sweet,” Riley admitted. “But he is in a relationship. Plus, Gris is not the kind of guy I date.”

“Well maybe you should look for a different kind,” Easton stated. “Because the person you described sounds pretty great.”

Griswold walked over with burritos. “Woah, digging this look Easton. Hope you don’t mind I got you a brorrito.”

“You know I don’t!” Easton chuckled.

“So what are we talking about?” Griswold asked, passing out burritos.

Riley rolled her eyes at Easton. “Nothing. Now let’s chow down so I can beat you again!”

In a shoe store, Pascal was admiring new shoes in a mirror as Ness watched on, sighing and blushing. A shopping attendant stood by.

“Geez these shoes sure as so spiffy,” Pascal stated.

“You sure do look nice,” Ness sighed. “Uh, with the shoes.”

“A lot has happened since this show started,” Ness admitted. “I think my luck is actually changing! I mean, here I am with the celebrity I’ve always crushed on. And with my birthday almost here, I figure I better use what luck I have…before things get ugly. I mean I believe, so I will achieve!”

Ness blushed even redder and giggled. “Wish me luck!”

“Wonderful choice sir,” the attendant remarked. “How about a new hat while we’re at it?”

Pascal froze, staring at the mirror and his orange knit cap. “Uh, no just the shoes.”

The attendant nodded and left. Pascal grabbed his hat and held it in his hands, studying it and feeling its texture. In the inside brim was the initials AP.

“You know I’ve never seen you without that hat,” Ness admitted. “Even before the show, at concerts or in your music videos. Where did you get it?”

“It was actually a gift,” Pascal stated. “From Amanda Picklestein. On the show, after we won our first challenge, she knitted it for me.”

Ness smiled a little. “You know, she really does miss you. I don’t know what’s between you guys, but it seems like you had a lot of history. She’s afraid to say something, but she’s worried you guys are no longer friends.”

Pascal placed back on his cap. “I’ll uh…talk to her. But there was something important I want to ask you Ness.”

Ness gasped, starting to breathe rapidly. “Y-y-yes?”

“We spend a lot of time together,” Pascal explained. “I really enjoy it. I mean, the others are nice but you’re really the only person I’m close with on this team.”

Ness started to sweat profusely. “I really enjoy spending time with you too.”

Pascal beamed. “So I was thinking…do you want to form an alliance?”

Ness’ face froze in a smile, the jinx pausing before exhaling. “An…alliance?”

“You know for voting,” Pascal stated. “I want both of us to go far and you’re someone I really trust, so how about it?”

Ness blushed again and smiled. “Well then yes. Let’s do it!”

“Yippe Skippy!” Pascal cheered, glomping the sweaty girl. “It’ll be great!”

“I bet,” Ness replied. “And I promise, I won’t ever vote for you.”

“Ooh same,” Pascal stated.

"Um..there’s something important I want to ask you,” Ness stated.

Pascal let go of Ness, who now couldn’t look the singer in the face. “Sure, what’s up?”

Ness turned almost halfway through her chair. “Uh…I don’t know if I can say it.”

“Hey its no big deal,” Pascal replied. “I want to know! You can tell me.”

Ness gulped and shut her eyes. “O…okay. So, um, we spend a lot of time together and I...I really like you. I think you’re really cool and kind and have had a crush on you since you started performing. Do you maybe want to... go out on a date with me?”

Pascal stared at her with wide eyes. “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…”

"Ness just poured her heart out to me,” Pascal stated. “And I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t like her, but she just seems so hopeful and pitiable. I didn’t want to tell her no…”

“Ness,” Pascal stated. “I...I like you...”

Ness gasped and started to smile.


Ness' smile immediately dropped.

“Not romantically though,” Pascal continued. “You’re really nice and cool-”

“-But not good enough,” Ness finished, turning away.

“No, no, no,” Pascal exclaimed. “I don’t want to hurt you, but I don’t want to lie to you either. I’m sorry, I just don’t feel that way about you.”

“But I couldn’t,” Pascal continued. “I don’t like her like that and...something in the back of my head was...I don’t know. Thinking about it, I’d have that relationship like Kalino suggested. But to use Ness’ feelings like that? I don’t know if I could ever sleep again.”

Ness tried to hold back the tears.

She failed.

“It's fine, I totally understand. I’m sorry to bother you.”


"I just need to…um lady things,” Ness blurted out. She ran out of her chair, holding her face in her hands.

At the park bench…

“…So that’s what happened between me and Xidorn,” Seraphina finished.

“Wow,” Ignacio replied.

Seraphina scratched the back of her head. “So...did I do the right thing? Was the rumor really the worst thing ever?”

Ignacio was a quiet for a moment. “Well...I feel like on certain reality shows that would be seen as a game move If it worked I’m sure people would applaud you for your strategy.”

“And this show?” Seraphina asked.

Ignacio shrugged. “I am not very familiar with this franchise, but Griswold says its unusual. The real thing is, do you think what you did was right?”

Seraphina scowled. “I don’t know! I mean, would you have done that?”

I can’t honestly confirm nor deny I would,” Ignacio confessed. “I want to win this show to make a better life for my family, but…I don’t know. But I do know, you are aware of how you feel about it.”

“I guess...I do feel it was the wrong thing to do,” Seraphina replied. “I don’t know why though. I mean it didn’t even work, and I just wanted to protect Xidorn.”

“You didn’t think he’d be okay on his own?” Ignacio asked.

Seraphina looked up at the ceiling. “I wanted to. I mean I know he’s not a kid. But I couldn’t believe it would all end fine; it felt stupid to. I just knew people would target him for us. Its one of those things that is too good to last, so it can’t! It has to end badly, you know?”

Seraphina looked at Ignacio, who scratched his chin. “I’m not Dr. Phil or anything, but I think this goes a little deeper into your psyche. If you think it's going to be bad, then will it not be? Are you making a self-fulfilling prophecy?”

“It did end badly,” Seraphina admitted. “Thanks for letting me vent Ignacio.”

Ignacio smiled. “Happy I could assist. So…what now?”

Seraphina shrugged. “I guess…I have some thinking to do. But I have to say something.”

Late that next morning at the Pentagram, most of the newcomers waited in line at the cafeteria. Rhonda strolled by, sipping a soda can.

“Hey Rhonda when is breakfast being served?” Xidorn asked. “Its almost eleven thirty.”

Rhonda shrugged. “We haven’t made breakfast for a while. Melissa’s been doing it. I’ll talk to Toby about cooking you some sausages or something.”

“Rhonda!” a voice called off in the distance. “You got a package! From Canada! Isn’t that crazy?”

Rhonda raised an eyebrow and walked off. A unified groan emitted from everyone’s stomachs.

Ignacio rubbed his chin as he stood with the bros. “Something has flummoxed me.”

“I have some Pepto in my room if it’ll help,” Easton suggested.

Ignacio shook his head. “I mean, I’m confused about Rhonda. Have anyone heard of her before this show?”

The others shook their heads. “Didn’t she say she was on a sketch show and Youtube?”

"Yes, I conducted research on that using resources in the Internet café,” Ignacio admitted. “Her videos don’t have many views, and you wouldn’t know she or her cohorts were on that sketch show without the credits. Wasn’t the original host rather famous?”

“In Canada,” Griswold replied, “where the original was filmed. He had some film success and other failed attempts, but Total Drama made him a household name. Though it was his ‘child’ so to speak."

“So no one else is curious how Rhonda became host of this reboot?” Igancio questioned. “How she contacted and convinced an entire network to put her in charge of a revamp of an acclaimed show, especially given she’s relatively youthful.”

“How old is she?” Easton asked. “Heck, Vance looks older than her…though he kinda looks older than everyone…”

“Most reality show hosts aren’t that famous till hosting,” Griswold pointed out. “And dudette’s clearly a fan; maybe that persuaded them. I heard she had to go to Canada and help with the newer seasons there to get this job; apparently the Canadians liked her.”

“I suppose,” Ignacio yielded. “Still, I feel the network would want someone with more experience, meet more Hollywood standards. I also question how she had the connections to secure two fashion icons for the last challenge. We lack a sufficient amount of information on her, and her toadies for that matter…”

The four’s stomachs growled again.

“No point in stressing with an empty stomach,” Riley said. “Who is up for broritos again?”

“Yeah!” Easton and Griswold cheered, high-fiving each other. Ignacio laughed and nodded.

The others waited in line as the bros left. Pascal eyed the exit Rhonda left and the line. He sighed, set his tray down and jogged out.

He stopped next to a mail cart, where Amanda Picklestein was sorting a letter.

“Amanda Picklestein,” Pascal called. “Hey, I thought I heard your voice.”

Mandy turned and forced a smile. “Oh, hey Pascy-Wascy. What’s up?”

“Not much,” Pascal replied. “Breakfast has been cancelled, and I thought that…maybe we should get lunch and you know, catch up. It’s been awhile.”

Mandy sighed and shook her head. “No, I wouldn’t want to bother you. I have to pack anyway…”

“Pack?” Pascal asked.

Mandy turned her back and pushed the cart away. “Sorry Pascal…maybe we’ll run into each other again. Don’t let me stop you from enjoying your time here.”

Still in the line, Vance tapped his foot and pulled on the tips of his mustache. “Well where is Melissa anyhow? You don’t think she’s still upset, do you?”

“We just voted off her boyfriend without warning,” Xidorn replied.

“Yeah,” Vance said, “but is she still mad?”

Xidorn sighed, as Melissa walked into the kitchen.

“Oh there you are!” Weston cheered. “What’s for breakfast?”

Melissa picked up a book, and then looked up at the guys. “Sorry, I scheduled a reading for blind people at the retirement home. Just because they can no longer see, doesn’t mean they still can’t enjoy stories.”

“But what about our grub?” Vance asked.

“I’m truly sorry,” Melissa replied. “I’m just not really in the mood for baking today.”

Vance’s jaw dropped and he started to sniffle. “You mean…no pastries today?”

Kalino sighed. “Melissa, we’re sorry about Aiden. You know it was nothing personal.”

“Not talking to someone about two of the three past votes feels personal,” Melissa admitted. “I’m not trying to take it that way-“

“-We didn’t want to hurt your feelings,” Weston said. “Really!”

“We just didn’t want you to get hurt,” Kalino explained. “I mean it was tough, and that on your heart we thought would be tooooooo much.”

Melissa shook her head. “My life isn’t one big ray of sunshine. I mean you know how many people tell me I’m evil for believing in Allah? How many times people have egged my house for not celebrating Easter? Or how many of my fellow Muslims criticize me because I believe I don’t have to wear a hijab? Or do you think that I’ve never seen death or sadness when I volunteer at a hospital or a homeless shelter? I know the world is a big scary place. So next time, don’t try to protect me or spare my feelings.”

Melissa walked off, the Eagles in line looking dejected while the Fireworks whispered amongst themselves.

Lita, Ness and Seraphina stepped out of line. All of them wore their matching bracelets.

“Whelp, looks like we’re getting pizza,” Lita stated.

Ness scratched her head. “Mmmhmm.”

“You alright sweetie?” Lita asked. “You’ve been quiet all day. Is what happened with Pascal at the-“

“-No,” Ness interrupted. “I’m…I’m totally over that. I’m just…admiring this bracelet Seraphina got us.”

“Right?” Lita asked. “It was such a sweet thing to do girl.”

Seraphina blushed. “Its nothing really, I just wanted to give you guys something for being great roommates…and great friends.”

Ness and Lita smiled. “That’s it girls, group hug time!”

Lita pulled Ness and Seraphina in an embrace.

I’m really worried,” Ness admitted, shifting her eyes back and forth. “Today is officially my sixteenth birthday, which means something really horrible is going to happen. But its really quiet…too quiet…”

A crackling noise was heard over the loudspeakers. “Attention newcomers! Report to gaming room at five tonight. Or else.”

Ness’ eyes grew wide as she swallowed a lump in her throat.

Seraphina frowned. “Okay, that’s weird. The next challenge shouldn’t be until a couple of days or so.”

“Maybe its some new kind of twist,” Lita predicted.

“You know Seraphina maybe you should do a reading or something,” Ness suggested, her voice shaking just a bit. “Give us a prediction of what’s coming.”

“If you want me to I can,” Seraphina replied.

“You know we're always up for some physic something,” Lita stated, Ness nodding.

Seraphina sat down at a table, pulling out her tarot cards. Closing her eyes and shuffling the deck, she laid out a single card. Flipping it, the card depicted an archaic painting of a hunched figure, struggling to carry ten poles. What looks to be a small town is in the distance, but the figure cannot see beyond the load in his arms.

“The Ten Of Wands,” Seraphina stated. “This card means great adversity is head.”

“So it is a challenge,” Lita sighed.

“Likely but it may mean much more than that,” Seraphina clarified. “The card implies an internal pressure, struggle within ourselves.”

“Like indigestion?” Lita asked. “Dang, I knew I shouldn’t have had all that mall food.”

In their secret office, Rhonda sighed and chugged the rest of her drink. A parcel sat at her desk, the stamp having a maple leaf. “Everything’s ready, right?”

“Weeeee!” Jenny giggled, spinning in a wheelie chair with Elaine.

"Ugh,” Rhonda groaned while banging her head against the table.

“Relax,” Jenny replied. “I got everything taken care of on my end. What about you?”

Rhonda smiled a little. “We’re sold out.”

"Sold?” Toby asked, looking up from his phone.

“We’re strapped for cash, so I figured ten dollars a seat wouldn’t be a bad idea,” Rhonda admitted. “Still, I’m a bit nervous about this. I’ve come up with at least seventeen ways this could backfire…now eighteen.”

“Rhonda we’ve been planning this since the snow challenge,” Jenny stated. “Hey, remember that readers? When I said I had a plan? Yeah, we actually remembered the plot we set up this time!”

Rhonda nodded and opened her package, pulling out a letter and stuffed manatee.

“What’cha you got there?” Jenny asked.

Rhonda smiled to herself as she read the letter, wiping away a tear. “Its something from an old friend…”

Jenny and Toby looked at each other. “Since when does she have friends besides us?”

“I don’t even think we count,” Jenny whispered back. “Well okay Rhonda, I got slacking off to do. See you soon for my totally awesome, full-proof plan!”

Toby rolled his eyes. “Its not like your plans haven’t failed or backfired. Except for every occasion.”

“YOUR MOM!” Jenny yelled. “Listen, we need to stir up the drama. I’ve created a drama bomb. Tonight, we're setting it off…”

The day went on and eventually five o’clock came. The newcomers arrived in the game room. The lights were off, only a few candles lit. As he entered, Xidorn flicked the light switch, but to no avail.

“Come in. We’ve been waiting.”

Jenny sat in an unopened recliner, petting Elaine, while Toby stood behind her. The newcomers gathered on a carpet in the center of the room.

“Oh hello Ms. Jenny,” Melissa greeted. “Where is Ms. Rhonda?”

“You’ll see her soon enough,” Jenny replied. “But first, is everyone here?”

Seraphina sighed and reluctantly stepped into the room. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Jenny smirked, reaching for the recliner’s lever and slowing pushing it down. “Oh please. I mean…”


The floor disappeared from under the newcomers, sending them falling down a trapdoor into complete darkness.

“What could possibly go wrong?”

Moments later, the newcomers moved around.

"Uhh…” Griswold moaned. “What happened?”

“Um, is anyone else having some trouble moving?” Melissa asked, struggling back and fourth.

Suddenly the room lit up from all sides, blinding the newcomers. As their eyes adjusted to the lights, the teens noticed there were in the torture chamber in the center of the catacombs.

The room had been modified with spotlights hanging from the wall, while interns operated large spotlights to the left and right. Immediately, they discovere they were restrained into rows of electric chairs; blue for the Eagles and red for the Fireworks.

“What the heck is going on?”

“This is part of the challenge right?”

“How did we even end up perfectly landing in chairs?”

“Did I leave the stove on?”

“Aw quit being babies,” a certain redhead’s voice announced. We’re just getting ready to play…”

“...Who's Really On My Team?” a crowd shouted, clapping and cheering.

Seraphina squinted, seeing shapes of people in the darkness. “What? Did they get an audience for this challenge?”

Ascending from the ground to the right of the newcomers was a podium, where Jenny waved at the glaring teens. The crowd erupted in applause. Toby sat in a lawn chair behind the podium, staring at his phone with Elaine on his shoulder.

“Thanks for dropping in newbies,” Jenny said, pausing for the audience’s laugh. “You ready to start the challenge?”

“I’m guessing it involves ambushing us in this contraption?” Ignacio asked.

Jenny rolled her eyes. “Duh! For today’s challenge, we’re going to do a sort of game show. I’ll ask a question to each team about someone. You’ll answer who it is. Answer correctly, and you score a point. The team with the most points at the end wins. Simple, right?”

“That still doesn’t explain locking us in here like opossums in a whiskey barrel,” Vance stated.

“Its to prevent cheating,” Jenny explained. “This challenge is about seeing how well you all know each other. So if the question is about you, you can’t answer. If you do, your team loses a point.

"You can’t try to give hints or talk with your team about it either, or your team loses a point. These chairs will prevent that, or you from trying to guess by looking at your teammates."

Each chairs’ right arm flipped, revealing a joy buzzer at the end.

“To answer just hit the buzzer,” Jenny continued. “First person to hit it gets to answer, but only that person can answer. Some answers may have more than one right person; if you can give more than one right answer, then you’ll score a point for each answer. Ooh, and answer wrong and your team loses a point!”

“It honestly sounds easy enough,” Xidorn admitted. “So what’s the catch?”

Jenny pretended to gasp. “Catch? Isn’t a trapdoor enough of surprise? That does remind me though, if neither team answers a question in a round, we’ll do a challenge to award someone a point. Pairs from each team will compete against each other in a small challenge, a little game of…”

“...Dump The Chumps!” the audience cheered.

“Wait do what?” Griswold asked.

“Since there are no further questions,” Jenny continued, “let’s get started. And folks at home, feel free to play along. See if you know the answers! Fireworks, you’re first. Whose favorite musician is Faith Hill?”

Riley slammed the buzzer. “Everyone knows that my bro, Gris Bear!”

“Correct!” Jenny announced as the audience clapped.

“Guilty as charged,” Griswold laughed.

Lita tugged on her scarf. “I didn’t know Griswold liked Faith Hill…”

“Eagles, whose hometown is in Wisconsin?” Jenny asked.

Cynthia pressed the buzzer. “Melissa.”

“Correct!” Jenny cheered. “Now then…”

In post-production, the episode was edited to have a montage. It started with scenes of Jenny asking questions…

“Who loves listening to One Rejection?”

“Who enjoys smashing watermelons with jackhammers?”

“Who dreams of owning monkey butlers?”

“Who is from Nebraska?”

“Who can’t handle their caffeine?”

“Who mends clothes as part of their church?”

“Who is on the school’s track team?”

“Whose favorite book series is the Helga Porter series?”

“Who dreams of becoming a high school science teacher?”

“Who speaks Portuguese?”

“Who says they look great in a prom dress?”

“Who favorite console is the Gamecube?”

The montage then displayed a cut of different contestants answering.

“Ness!” Lita stated.

“Cynthia,” Weston swooned.

“That’s so Riley!” Griswold stated.

“I believe that was Kalino,” Melissa stated.

“Pascal,” Ness remembered.

“Melissa,” Kalino stated.

“Easton!” Riley shouted.

“Ooh, Xidorn!” Weston stated.

“Ignacio!” Lita shouted.

"Weston,” Cynthia stated.

“Griswold,” Seraphina laughed.

“Kalino plays that all the time,” Vance stated.

The montage ended, focusing back on Jenny. “Correct! With that, we’re tied! Fireworks, which of your teammates lists The Notebook as one of their favorite movies?”

Griswold slammed the buzzer. “That’s an easy one; Lita.”

“Wrong!” Jenny shouted. “On one of the easy questions too.”

Griswold titled his head. “Huh?

Lita sighed and hid her face in her scarf.


An electric wave went through The Fizzled Fireworks’ chairs, shocking all of them.

“Oops, did I forget to mention punishments are given for wrong answers?” Jenny asked. “Ha ha, must have slipped my mind.”

“So then whose favorite movie is it?” Griswold asked.

“Don’t know, don’t care,” Jenny replied. “What matters, is that the Fireworks just lost a point.”

“I actually really enjoy The Notebook,” Ignacio admitted, wiping away a tear. “I know it's flawed touched me emotionally okay?”

“Let’s move on to the Molting Eagles!” Jenny announced.

“Pssh,” Vance scoffed. “Y’all just give us the win already. I mean this here challenge ought to be for babies its so easy!"

“I couldn’t agree more,” Jenny replied, smirking and pulling out a set of red notecards. “Let’s make it a little more challenging. Eagles, who on your team doesn’t actually know how to read?”

The Molting Eagles stood motionless. Vance's eyes grew wide and he looked back and forth, as if trying to look at his teammates. Xidorn cast a glare at Jenny, flipping her off.

“Ooh, times up,” Jenny giggled, turning to another notecard. “Looks like the Fireworks have a chance to catch up. So Fireworks…hahaha! Ha, sorry, I’m just..haha…there’s a photo with this question. So, who use to be extremely, morbidly obese when they were a kid? Hahaha…”

Lita blushed and further buried her head in her scarf. The other Fizzled Fireworks looked around, scratching their heads or raising their eyebrows.

“Times up again,” Jenny sighed. “Here’s an easy one for the Eagles; who is dating each other on your team?”

Weston gulped. Melissa put her hand on her heart, but refused to move towards the buzzer. At the last second Kalino yawned and pressed the buzzer.

“Mannnn I’m pretty sure it's Weston and Cynthia,” Kalino stated.

“Correct,” Jenny stated.

Nearly everyone gasped and tried to cast a look towards the couple in question.

“Wait seriously?” Easton asked.

“Its true,” Weston admitted. “Cynthia and me are a couple.”

“A really cute one too,” Melissa added.

“You’re actually dating Cynthia?” Easton asked. “Like, by choice?”

“Shut up!” Weston shouted. “Yes, I’m dating the most amazing girl in the world. I’m glad it's official, cause I’m proud to be with Cynthia!”

“I’m happy and proud to be with Weston too,” Cynthia stated.

The newcomers responded either by sighing ‘awwww’ or giving a concerned look.

“Aw shucks,” Weston giggled. “So uh...yeah, shut up and suck on an egg Easton!”

Easton crossed his arms and faced away. “Its your funeral.”

“How did you know Kalino?” Melissa asked.

“I thought everyone knew,” Kalino replied. “I mean, there always sucking face in the broom closet.”

Weston blushed. “Hehehe well…”

“Eww cooties,” Jenny gagged. “Let’s get going already. Fireworks, who’s father walked out on their family?”

The Fireworks shifted around.

“Once again time is up,” Jenny complained. “Let’s hope the Eagles can do better; who has had their house egged on Easter before?”

Cynthia pressed her buzzer. “Melissa.”

“Correct!” Jenny shouted.

Melissa sighed and shook her head. “I suppose you’re enjoying this Miss Jenny, shaming and humiliating everyone.”

“Are you kidding?” Jenny asked. “I’m actually having fun while doing my job! Let’s keep rolling! Fireworks, this person’s best friend and crush ended up marrying their dad! Who is this?”

Seraphina sighed and a few seconds before the end pressed the buzzer. “I’m...I’m really sorry. Ness.”

“Correct,” Jenny replied.

Pascal sighed. “Oh Ness, I-”

“-Can we not talk about it,” Ness shouted. “Please.”

“Sure thing,” Jenny said, “After all it is the Eagles’ turn. Eagles, who grandfather told them to go to hell on their deathbed?”

None of the Eagles ended up pressing their buzzers.

Jenny scoffed. “Lame! Fireworks, whose family is so poor they can’t even afford a TV?”

None of the Fizzled Fireworks answered.

“Alright then,” Jenny scoffed. “Speaking of poor, Eagles who on your team is the poorest?”

None of the Eagles answered.

Jenny smirked. “No answers this round folks. So it looks like its time for…”

“...Dump The Chumps!” the audience shouted.

“But we still don’t know what the titular name alludes-”

A trapdoor appeared in front of Ignacio’s chair, which jerked forward and dumped him down. Ness, Cynthia and Xidorn followed.

The newcomers found themselves piled on top of each other, this time on the burned remains of the theater.

“Welcome newcomers,” a familiar voice greeted. “Are you ready to play...”

“...Dump The Chumps!”

“We're still unaware of what that means,” Ignacio murmured.

The rookies looked up to see Rhonda, dressed in lime green tuxedo, which made almost everyone curious if the eighties had called and asked for it back yet.

In the auditorium was another audience of fans that sat in the singed seats. The newcomers could see them more clearly now, noticing many had ‘I Heart Total Drama’ T-shirts or other fan memorabilia. The camera lingered on two fans in the front row, a purple haired girl and a brunette who slouched in her seat.

“About time this started,” the purple girl stated. “I was afraid it’d be another thing Rhonda cancelled.”

“I was hoping it was cancelled,” the brunette girl sighed.

“Thanks for dropping in newbies,” Rhonda joked. The only reaction from the audience was the brunette girl coughing. “It sounds like the cat’s out of the bag upstairs. But we’ll be doing the same thing for this challenge!”

Rhonda threw two sacks towards each pair. The sacks fell to the ground as bunches of black cats fell out.

“The pair to fill back up their bags with the cats...” Rhonda announced.

Cynthia pulled out a knife.

“...alive,” Rhonda added, “scores a point. Go!”

Cynthia lowered her knife.

Ness swooned as she bent down in front of a black kitten. “Aww! Come here sweetie, we do-”

“-Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!” the cat hissed, jumping on to Ness’ face and began clawing her.

Cynthia held the bag as Xidorn shivered and looked away, while simultaneously trying to put a cat in the sack.

“Look at what you’re doing,” Cynthia stated.

“S...sorry,” Xidorn whimpered. “ I’m just... really scared to make eye contact.”

Cynthia only stared and didn’t blink. The cat screamed and clawed its way out of Xidorn’s arms.

“Wait a minute,” Xidorn said, “ this gives me an idea.”

“Ahhh!” Ness screamed, as more and more of the cats attacked her.

“Hold on Ness,” Ignacio stated, trying to throw the cats in a bag. “I’m trying to get them all here. Good plan to lure them to you.”

“This wasn’t a plan,” Ness groaned.

Ignacio picked up a black cat, which hissed and scratched the hunk, completely clawing away his shirt.

“Hubba hubba!” the purple fangirl cheered, adding a whistle. Ignacio tried to cover himself and dropped bag, releasing the cats on Ness.

“We have a winner!” Rhonda announced, as Cynthia chased the final cat into Xidorn’s bag, which shook with fright.

“Talk about scaredy cats,” Rhonda joked. The purple girl imitated cricket chirps. “Anyway, the Molting Eagles score a point!”

“Woo!” Xidorn cheered, holding his hand out. Cynthia turned to the truth teller, who gulped. The floor fell from underneath them, and the Eagles disappeared. The other cats were escorted away by interns.

Rhonda smirked. “And so that means its time to…”

“...Dump The Chumps!” the audience cheered.

What does that mean!” Ignacio shouted. “Someone just give me an explanation!”

On cue, a giant bucket hovered overhead the Fireworks, tipping over and pouring cat litter over them.

“How’s that for an explanation?” Rhonda asked.

Ness coughed up a chunk of litter. “Please tell me this isn’t used.”

“Only the best for you,” Rhonda replied with a wink. A trapdoor opened up underneath the two.

Ness and Ignacio fell back into their chairs.

“What happened?” Griswold asked, sniffing the air. “What is that thing?”

“Don’t ask,” Ignacio groaned.

“Yeah, I’ll do the asking,” Jenny insisted. “Fireworks, who’s gotten a full ride to the college of their choice when they graduate?”

Griswold slammed the buzzer. “Easton.”

“Correct,” Jenny replied, as Weston rolled his eyes.

“Now Eagles,” Jenny said, “whose family thinks they’ll never amount to anything?”

Kalino glared at the redhead.

“Times up,” Jenny stated. “Fireworks, who works a job to support their family after immigrating here?”

Lita groaned as she pressed the button. “Ignacio.”

“Correct,” Jenny replied.

“Its fine,” Ignacio stated. “I’m not afraid to admit I’m not rich, nor that I help my family when they need it.”

"That’s very touching,” Jenny said. “But I don’t care. So Eagles, who on your team was almost held back in high school for failing math?”

The Eagles looked around for a moment.

“That’s Weston,” Easton whispered to himself. “I helped him study for weeks for the final so he’d pass…”

“Excuse me!” Jenny shouted. “I heard that Easton! You gave away the answer! That's cheating, so now your team loses a point!”

“Oh come on!” Easton yelled. “The Eagles didn't even hear me!"

“Whose the super cool host here?” Jenny asked.

“Not you,” Toby stated.

“YOUR MOM!” Jenny yelled. “You know, I’m actually going to take away a point for the Fireworks and give it to the Eagles! So meh!”

Easton groaned as the Fireworks sighed. Weston sighed too, while the other Eagles shrugged.

“Now Fireworks,” Jenny stated. “Who secretly resents their sibling?”

No one reacted for a moment. Easton hovered over the buzzer, but pulled away. Cautiously, Pascal tapped his buzzer. “It’s Easton, right?”

“Wrong!” Jenny screamed. “I said secretly, and that’s no secret. So Eagles, who was named after a song?”

“What kind of a question is that?” Seraphina asked. “I mean you ask us about our secrets and past, and then ask whose named after a song?”

“These questions are about information that shows how well you really know each,” Jenny replied. “Information that is either shocking or someone keeps as a secret for some reason. Its not my fault you don’t know; I mean you’ve been together for around a month and are ‘so called’ friends. Maybe you don’t know each other as well as you thought.”

The teens were silent for a moment.

“So I take the Eagles don’t have an answer,” Jenny replied. “Fine then. Fireworks, whose parents died in a car crash when they were only a baby?”

Again, no one answered.

“Way too catch back up,” Jenny said. “Eagles, whose never been home since they ran away as a kid?”

The Molting Eagles didn’t react.

“No answers again,” Jenny chuckled. “Then its time to…”

…Dump The Chumps!” the audience cheered.

The floor opened up again as Riley and Griswold fell through this time, followed by Kalino and Melissa.

The pairs each landed in their own separate piles of bananas on the burned stage.

“It sounds like things have been going bananas,” Rhonda chuckled. “So its time for a banana based challenge! First pair to get rid of their pile first wins. But for the losers we’ll…”

“…Dump The Chumps!” the audience cheered.

“Now no monkeying around,” Rhonda teased. “And…go!”

The four newcomers began peeling and eating bananas. Griswold and Riley were chugging them down, while Kalino and Melissa struggled.

“This is a pretty tasty challenge,” Riley admitted. “I actually-ow!”

Riley turned her head and was pelted by another banana. Kalino was tossing bananas towards the two jocks.

“What gives?” Griswold asked. “That’s totally cheating!”

“Oh dear,” Melissa said, trying to finish another banana.

Kalino shrugged. “Sorry dude, but there’s no rule against it.”

“That is true,” Rhonda admitted.

Griswold smirked. “Alright then.”

The linebacker jumped up and grabbed his entire pile of bananas, tossing them on top of the Eagles.

“And with that, the Fireworks score a point!” Rhonda announced as the audience cheered.

Riley and Griswold pounded their fists, before the floor disappeared under them.

“So once again,” Rhonda said, “its time to…”

“…Dump The Chumps!” the audience cheered.

Above Kalino and Melissa a barrel was suspended, shaking with howling sounds emerging from it.

“Oh no,” Melissa gasped. “Please don’t let that be-“

“A barrel of monkeys,” Rhonda replied. “Specifically a barrel of hungry howler monkeys.”

Kalino and Melissa looked down at the bananas as the barrel tipped over. “Ahhhhhh!”

Moments later, Melissa and Kalino dropped back into their seats, their clothes in tatters and covered with mysterious brown stains.

“About time,” Jenny yawned. “Alright, I’m getting the vibe you guys are not enjoying this as much as I am.”

“What gave you that idea,” Kalino stated, brushing a banana peel off his torn sleeve.

“Also I'm really tired,” Jenny stated. “This was way too much work for me. So let’s do one final round. I’ll select one random question and if you get this question right, you earn three points. Eagles, you’re up first.”

Jenny shuffled her notecards then drew off the top card and immediately broke into a grin.

“Oh no,” Xidorn whispered.

“Don’t worry,” Jenny said. “Its actually rather simple; who has a hidden immunity flash drive?”

The Molting Eagles and even the Fizzled Fireworks eyes grew wide.

“Then its time for the Fireworks,” Jenny announced. “Alright, here’s another simple one Fireworks…who have you been saying happy birthday to today?”

Ness almost gasped, stopping herself by biting her lip. The other Fireworks weren’t sure how to react.

“Well someone is not having a happy birthday,” Jenny giggled. “Since neither team answered it looks like its time for…”

…Dump The Chumps!” the audience cheered, as all the teens screamed and fell through the floor onto the burnt stage.

Rhonda rubbed her hands together. “Welcome to the Sudden Death match. For the Eagles, we’ll take Vance and Weston…while for the Fireworks, we’ll have Pascal and Seraphina!”

“Great,” Pascal and Seraphina muttered under their breath.

“Its about time for this challenge to be over,” the purple girl said. “Its gotten so long no one is going to finish reading it.”

“They shouldn’t bother starting it,” the brunette girl replied.

“For this challenge,” Rhonda explained, “you’ll prepare to have some very fine dining. You’ll feed your partner a small three course meal…”

“Woohoo!” Vance cheered. “I’m always for some free grub.”

“…Using your feet,” Rhonda finished.

The newcomers and even some of the audience nearly threw up.

“We know you’re still growing kids,” Rhonda said. “So we made sure this meal has plenty of protein for you. First to finish wins. Oh, and try not to vomit; the food you spit back up is still the food you have to eat…so you’ll have to eat it again.”

At that point, Melissa ran backstage and retched.

Interns grabbed the competitors and chained each to a pole not too far apart. They left silver platters by the newcomers’ feet while taking off their socks and shoes.

“Eww,” Pascal grimaced.

“Eh, your feet are just as gross as the rest of you,” Seraphina stated.

“The winners will get three extra points,” Rhonda stated. “And the team with the most points will win a special reward! Yet the losers will face elimination, while we…”

“…Dump The Chumps!” the audience cheered. On that cue, a trashcan suspended on a high wire moved to the center stage. The newcomers glanced at it. The knowing few of them cringed.

“Now then,” Rhonda said, “Enjoy your first course…of escargot salad.”

Kicking aside the lids, the first tray contained a Greek salad covered in snails.

Smirking, Pascal picked up salad leaves in his toes and shoved in it in the psychic’s face. “Here comes the train! Open wide.”

Seraphina didn’t react and instead started eating as quickly as she could while trying to pick up a snail for her partner. The Molting Eagles were off to a slow start, as Vance struggled to pick up any salad.

“What in tarnation!” Vance screamed as a snail slipped out his toes. “These little fellows are too slippery.”

“Hee hee,” Weston laughed as a snail crawled on his heel. “And they tickle!”

Pascal almost gagged. “Wait they’re still-mmphhh!”

Seraphina smirked as she shoved snails in the singer’s mouth. “Be careful Pascal. I’d hate for you to vomit.”

“And the Fireworks almost finished with their first course,” Rhonda announced, as Seraphina and Pascal moved towards the next dish. “Let’s see if they can handle course two…roasted road kill opossum.”

Pascal kicked away the tray to reveal a skinned and cooked opossum, a tire track still imprinted on it.

“Mmm,” Weston sighed, sniffing the air while slurping up a snail.

“Come on now partner!” Vance stated. “We got to catch up!”

Pascal smirked as he kicked Seraphina in the chin, dropping an opossum leg across her face and on the stage floor. “Whoops, sorry Seraphina. My leg slipped.”

Seraphina smiled and reached for it. “Oh no problem, old buddy. It happens.”

Seraphina swung her foot at the singer, right in the crotch. The singer let out a high pitched yelp. “Like how my foot just slipped. Sorry about that.”

“You could stop me from having kids,” Pascal winced.

“The world can thank me later,” Seraphina stated, trying to kick Pascal’s shin.

Meanwhile, Weston nibbled on an opossum leg. “Mmm, tastes like chicken!

“Looks like the Eagles are taking the lead. And they’re going for dessert…”

Weston kicked off the lid, revealing a cup of something dark brown with a spoon sticking out.

“You ever had that dish of chocolate ice cream, with cookie bits and gummy worms?” Rhonda asked.

“Ooh a cup of dirt!” Weston exclaimed. “I love those! We get to have that?”

Rhonda smirked. “That was the plan…till someone ate all the ice cream.”

Rhonda looked to stage left, where Jenny and Toby were scarfing down bowls of ice cream.

“So we decided to go with actual cups of dirt!” Rhonda announced.

Pascal grimaced as he kicked off the Firework’s own lid.

“We have to catch up,” Seraphina sighed, dropping to the floor. She tried to use both feet to balance the cup…

Vance trembled as Weston dangled a spoon between his toes. “Is…is that all? D…dirt? Psh, why we use to eat dirt clods as a kid back on the farm all the time.”

Vance took the spoon to his lips as Rhonda shifted her eyes. “It actually isn’t all. Like I said, it’s a protein diet. So instead of gummy worms…”

Vance looked down at the cup, where a worm wiggled its head out. Vance’s mouth dropped, failing to notice the incoming spoon. The cowboy accidentally swallowed it, the spoon becoming lodged in his throat. The rodeo star hacked violently. Weston tried reaching out his feet his friend, but he wasn'r having an easy time.

Seraphina meanwhile shoved Pascal’s face in the cup. “Chug! Chug! Chug!”

“Don’t worry Vance I got you!” Weston shouted, lashing his feet out, accidentally hitting the cowboy in the stomach.

“Uh oh,” Weston stated, as the cowboy kneeled over. He proceeded to upchuck all over the floor. The spoon flew out of his throat, landing and sticking on the younger twin’s face.

“Eww!” the audience gagged, many running out of the room. Melissa once again ran backstage, with Ignacio and Lita following after her.

“Look on the bright side Eagles,” Rhonda stated, “you don’t actually have to eat the vomit!”

“Yay!” Weston cheered, tossing the spoon away.

“Because the Fizzled Fireworks have finished their course!” Rhonda announced, motioning to Pascal who kicked aside the empty cup and looked ready to heave at any moment. Seraphina held her stomach in pain but smirked at the singer.

“Yay!” Weston repeated, before dropping his expression. “Wait…”

“Congrats Fizzled Fireworks,” Rhonda stated, interns untying the chained contestants. “You’ve earned the three extra points. Which means the winners are…The Molting Eagles!”

“WHAT?” the Fireworks shouted.

The spotlights fell on the Eagles, Kalino and Xidorn hoisting a dazed Vance on their shoulders. Their dejected looks changed to confused ones as the audience cheered.

“Yay?” Weston asked. “I think.”

“But we won the three course meal!” Pascal insisted.

Rhonda nodded. “You did. And your team got three extra points to your final score. But the Molting Eagles still have one more point than you.”

Seraphina glared. “So those three points were-“

“-basically meaningless,” Rhonda stated.

Pascal forced a smile. “So what you’re saying is…I ate dirt…FOR NOTHING?”

“I mean I wouldn’t say for nothing,” Rhonda replied. “Our audience seemed to enjoy it.”

The audience laughed and cheered, though quite a few were too grossed out to stay.

“As winners, the Molting Eagles will enjoy a three course dinner under the stars tonight,” the hostess stated, ignoring the glare from Vance and his deputy Xidorn.

“As for the Fizzled Fireworks,” Rhonda said, “you get your own ‘reward’ for being the losers. Its time for us to…”

Dump The Chumps!” the audience erupted, members from before having joined and formed a crowd.

The Fizzled Fireworks looked above the trashcan tipped over. The Fizzled Fireworks were assaulted with pepper, ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, coleslaw, barbecue sauce, sprinkles, and pickle juice. Finally, the biggest tub appeared and dumped pig’s blood on the losers for a solid minute.

The audience roared and hooted, as the Fizzled Fireworks stood there with miserable expressions.

“Thank you for enjoying today’s challenge folks!” Rhonda announced. “As for you Fireworks, I’ll see you at elimination tonight.”

Soon, the Fireworks trudged through the halls. No one said anything for a moment.

“Today sucked,” Easton stated after awhile.

“So much,” Ignacio agreed, the other Fireworks nodding.

Griswold sighed and turned to his teammates. “Look, today was bad. I know its not just the dump that’s messed with us. The real sore spot is…all those things Jenny said.”

The Fireworks shifted uncomfortably.

Riley sighed. “The one about the parents in the car crash? Yeah, that was me. I’m sorry for not telling you dudes, just not something I bring up in conversation.”

“I don’t know how you would,” Griswold admitted. “I’m sorry Rye. I know what you mean. I was the one whose dad walked out…”

“That might have been a two for one,” Seraphina spoke up. “Mine did too.”

The two gave a soft smile at each other. The silence lulled for a moment.

“No one has to reveal anything about themselves,” Griswold stated. “If you want to get it off your chest, then I understand and will be happy to listen. But I won’t judge if you don’t; certain things we keep to ourselves. But I don’t want this challenge to change anything; I don’t think less of anyone here. I'm still happy to be a Firework, through and through. This was bad and I’m not looking forward to elimination, but I am still behind this team and still glad we’re team members.”

The Fireworks smiled a little.

“Well, I’m headed to the showers,” Ignacio stated.

“Second that,” Lita laughed, the others nodding.

The Fizzled Fireworks dispersed to their bathroom. Riley patted Griswold on the back, and the bros fist bumped. But Griswold looked back, staring at Lita.

Pascal walked next to Ness. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Ness sighed.

“Ness I am sorry about what happened at the mall,” Pascal blurted out. “And with your don’t deserve that.”

“Its fine,” Ness said. “Really. I understand. Just…can we still be friends though?”

Pascal smiled. “Yes! That’s what I want.”

Ness forced a smile and Pascal returned it. Seraphina and Lita watched from their door, glaring at the singer. Pascal waved goodbye to Ness, and caught the girl’s glances.

“I was not looking forward to elimination tonight,” Pascal stated, now apparently squeaky clean. “Mostly because I knew I was on the chopping block; Ness promised not to vote for me…but her roomies were obviously gunning for me. Even if I did survive, I’m without a power alliance. And that phony Seraphina will take any chance she can to eliminate me. But that’s when I came up with a plan…”

The scene changed to the game room, with Riley, Easton and Griswold playing pool. Pascal stepped in and forced a smile. “Hey guys.”

“Oh, sup Pascal,” Griswold greeted. “What’s happenin’? Want to join us for a game?”

“Thanks but I have to help Kalino with something in a bit,” Pascal replied. “I just wanted to see how everyone is, you know after today.”

“Aww thanks man,” Easton replied. “Doing better.”

“Glad to hear,” Pascal replied. “I believe our team will do better next time, and if you believe it you can achieve it! So…you guys decided who to vote tonight?”

Riley shook her head. “I’m undecided. I don’t want any of our peeps going. We’ve been through almost a month together! You?”

Pascal rubbed the back of his head. “Well…me and Ness are close, and I promised her I would vote with her and her roommates. I’m not thrilled with who but I promised so…”

Griswold raised an eyebrow. “Who?”

“They think someone who blew the challenge should do it,” Pascal ‘explained’. “Especially since it was so close. Since Easton did give the other team a point…”

“Me?” Easton asked. “They’re voting me?”

Pascal shrugged. “It’s a tough choice. I just wanted to hear what you guys thought, maybe another option…”

“If they do that,” Easton realized, “then with you they only need one vote for majority. Do you think Ignacio will too?”

“I doubt it,” Griswold replied. “But that means a tied vote. Back in the original, ties were broken by a challenge, and the winner stayed.”

“Griswold is right!” Pascal added. “I’ve broken a few tiebreakers myself on other shows. If it is a tie, you’d just have to defeat them Easton. But you’d need to be against someone weaker, or really unlucky.”

Griswold raised an eyebrow at the pop star.

“Listen I’ll try talking to Ness again,” Pascal explained. “Maybe stop her from voting you out. I just wanted you to have a fair warning. I’m sorry, I really hope you don’t go.”

Easton nodded. “I appreciate you being a pal Pascal. I won’t forget it.”

The singer dashed off, smirking to himself…

Easton banged his head against the pool table. “I really screwed up today.”

“It was a slip of the tongue bro,” Riley replied, hugging his shoulder. “It happens. The roomies are crazy if they think you’re going home. We’re not going to let our bro go home!”

“She’s right,” Griswold stated. “We’ll talk to Ignacio about this. I’ll talk to Lita, I’ve been meaning to anyway.”

“You know what Pascal said is true,” Easton admitted. “If it is a tiebreaker challenge, then the best person for me to go up against would be…”


Lita and Ness gasped, Pascal now talking to the three girls. Seraphina’s eyes grew wide, but shifted into a raised eyebrow.

“They said they were voting Ness?” Lita asked.

Pascal nodded. “Easton suggested it. He’s worried he’s a target. And he said that Ness’…unfortunate luck makes her a challenge liability.”

“How do we know anything you’re saying is true?” Seraphina questioned. “That doesn’t sound like the others.”

“Ask them if they thought about voting off Ness,” Pascal replied. “Listen, I’m telling you this because I don’t want Ness to go home! I was hoping if we combined our votes, we could ensure that…”

“If we all vote together that would be half of the team,” Lita admitted. “I can try talking to Ignacio too. I’m certainly going to ask Gris what the heck he is thinking! I mean Ness, a liability? Honey please…”

Ness looked down at the floor and sighed.

“Its not like she lost us the challenge,” Pascal agreed. “No one really did. I mean Easton’s conflict with Weston hurt us…”

“That’s true,” Ness realized. “He gave them the extra point they needed to win. Yet he’s voting for me; maybe he should go home instead.”

Pascal snapped his fingers. “That’s a good idea Ness! We should vote off Easton for his role in the challenge. Ignacio might see the reason in that, and vote with us!”

“Oh, um thanks,” Ness replied.

“I’ll bring the idea up to him,” Pascal explained. “Don’t worry Ness, I promised not to vote for you. I intend to keep that promise.”

“Thank you,” Ness said smiling.

Pascal nodded, giving a smirk to the glaring psychic and dashing out the door.

Seraphina gritted her teeth and held up a fist. “That filthy rat why I ought to…”

Ness slumped on the bed, hiding her face in the pillow and whimpering...

“Oh sweetie,” Lita said, as she and the psychic sat on side of her. Lita rubbed the jinx’s back. “Don’t you worry, we aren't going to let you go home.”

Ness turned her head. “But…”

“Lita’s right,” Seraphina stated. “We’ve come this far, and the three of us are not going to get split up now! We have your back Ness. In fact, if it comes to it tonight, I want you to use this…”

Seraphina pulled out the blue flash drive from her pocket.

“But Seraphina,” Ness gasped, “Xidorn gave that to you for you to use!”

“Well I’m giving it you,” Seraphina replied, placing it in the blonde’s hand. “As far as I’m concerned, this flash drive is for all of us.”

Ness turned to the wall. “But…what if I do deserve to go home?”

Lita and Seraphina looked at each other confused than turned to the blonde. “What are you talking about?”

I’m talking about that I’m a jinx!” Ness screamed. “My bad luck brings nothing but destruction…and it might have done that to our team. I mean, what good have I done for this team? In the first challenge I had to be saved by an Eagle, then failed my trial. I made Ignacio’s speedo…that broke in the challenge. And today…I didn’t even tell you guys it was my birthday.”

“It was your birthday?” Seraphina and Lita asked in unison.

Ness wiped away a tear. “I…I didn’t want you to know.”

Lita put her hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Sweetie, its fine. We love you! We’d want to celebrate the day-“

“-But I don’t,” Ness interrupted. “Every year my birthday is horrible. Even the day I was born…I didn’t want to celebrate today. The point is, maybe I should go.”

“Okay so you’ve had some missteps,” Seraphina stated. “But you’re not the weakest link! Who was able to get into the Eagle’s snow fort? Or win the interpretative dance challenge?”

Ness shook her head. “That was just…chance, not skill.”

“So Ignacio’s speedo broke,” Lita stated. “We wouldn’t know how to sew without you in that challenge. May I remind you who was the one brave enough to volunteer to eat bull testicles? And black licorice?”

“Who helped us win the scavenger hunt by coming up with a loophole?” Seraphina added. “Or won the Awake-a-thon?”

“But that was just-“

“-that was you,” Lita stated. “And that’s why you deserve to stay! This team is stronger, not weaker for having you. You ain’t going home. Even, if we have to vote for Easton…”

Ness nodded and faintly smiled at her friends, who joined together for a group hug.

Soon after, Lita and Griswold were walking in the halls. Spotting each other they half-heartedly waved and ran to the other.

Lita sighed and smiled. “Hey Gris-Bear! I’ve been looking for you…”

Griswold rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, me too. We need to talk.”

Lita’s eyes grew wide. “Did I do something wrong?”

“Huh?” Griswold asked. “What did you say?”

“I said…uh, what’s up?” Lita replied with a forced chuckle.

“Is it true you’re voting for Easton?” Griswold asked.

Lita furrowed her brow. “Is it true you’re voting for Ness?”

The two stared at each other for a while, before turning and look away.

“About today’s challenge,” Griswold spoke again, “The Notebook isn’t your favorite movie?”

Lita turned further away. “No…the truth is, I hate it! I’ve seen it with almost all of my relationships and I never like it.”

“So why did we watch it?” Griswold asked. “Why did you say you like it?”

“Because couples are suppose to watch it together,” Lita sighed. “Its suppose to be that romantic movie couples cuddle to and enjoy with each other. I wanted us to do that, to be that couple…”

Griswold sighed. “Lita, we need to break up.”

Lita gasped. “What?”

“I’m sorry,” Griswold admitted. “I really am, but its not working out. I’ve never had a relationship before. You’re cool Lita but…I don't think I dated you because I liked you; I liked the idea of being in a relationship. We tried…but I’m not happy. Are you?”

Lita sighed and looked down. “No. I’ve been feeling it coming…but I thought if we just kept going then maybe we would work…”

The two stood there looking at their feet for a moment. Eventually, the two walked away.

“That was awful,” Griswold stated. “I almost want to take it back, but I know I did the right thing. I’m going to take a break from relationships for a long time…”

Lita wiped away some tears from her scarf. “I can’t believe it! I told myself not to drive this one away! I mean Griswold is the perfect guy. I tried to make him like me…to have that relationship…but I couldn’t get him to care for me like that.”

Pascal rubbed his hands together. “My plan was risky, but I think its paid off! I’ve turned the two factions on my team against each other, and avoided being the target. I’ve also convinced Ignacio on why Easton is the choice.”

Pascal chuckled to himself. “So Easton will go home…and the bros will be in need of an ally; me! There's my alliance! Since Ness and I promised to never vote for each other, the girls can’t have the numbers, even if Igancio sticks with them. Which means I can target Seraphina next…and go to the merge with potential meat shields. Even combine my inter team alliance with the bros.”

Pascal scratched his head. “Worst case scenario, Ignacio flips and creates a tie. But I doubt that. Even still, it’ll be a tiebreaker challenge like in the original seasons. If Ness somehow does go home…well I didn’t break my promise. And Seraphina still won't have the numbers. It’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!”

The Fizzled Fireworks sat in the Haunted Internet Café, everyone quiet and avoiding eye contact.

“Its been awhile Fireworks,” Rhonda greeted. “Almost too long, don’t you think?”

The Fireworks replied with glares or depressed looks.

Rhonda pouted. “Fine, don’t talk to me. Let’s just get voting.”

Pascal cast his vote for Easton. “I’ll tell your twin you said bye.”

Griswold cast his vote for Ness. “I really hate doing this. But, bros are loyal to each other. Me and Easton have been close. He has my back, and I have his. Sorry Ness.”

Easton cast his vote for Ness. “I don’t like this, but you’re targeting me and I probably have the best chance of beating you in a tiebreaker challenge. I understand you’re doing the same thing. Honestly, I hope we do the challenge so we can compete for the right to stay. Makes it a bit more fair.”

Lita cast her vote for Easton. “I appreciate you not revealing the details about me and my brother at the challenge. This feels ungrateful. But you targeted my homegirl. And I can’t let her go home.”

Ness cast her vote for Easton and sighed. She opened her palm, revealing the immunity flash drive. “Do you ever think fate is telling you something’s suppose to happen?”

Ness’ expression became serious as she closed her hand and shoved the flash drive in her pocket. “I’m not wasting Seraphina’s flash drive on myself. More importantly…if I am meant to go home, then I’ll go home tonight. That’s how the universe wanted it to be.”

Ignacio bit on his nails for a moment, moving between Ness and Easton’s icon, before ultimately dropping the mouse and rubbing his temples. “Uhh…I have no clue what option to take. Strategically neither is targeting me, nor is a liability. Pascal tried to explain why voting Easton is a more suitable option…but I admit to zoning out. I’ve taken notice of Pascal’s tendency for exaggeration.”

Ignacio turned at the screen. “Personally, I like both of them. I consider Easton a friend, a ‘bro’, and I admire his commitment to the mathematics. However, Ness is kind and helped recently with my own issues…”

Ignacio nodded and clicked on an icon.

“The votes are in,” Rhonda announced. “If I call your name, you will receive a cup of peppermint flavored coffee. I think its nasty but people drink it. Anyway, the first coffee cup goes to…Pascal.”

The pop star smirked as he caught his cup.


The model caught his cup, avoiding the eyes of his teammates.


The two shared a look before catching their cups.

“Griswold and Seraphina.”

Everyone turned to the middle, where Ness and Easton sat and stared at Rhonda.

“Easton, Ness. There’s only one coffee cup left. And it goes too…”

...neither of you; we have a tie.”

The other Fireworks gasped.

“It's up to a challenge now,” Easton stated. "Good."

“Challenge?” Rhonda asked. “What challenge?”

“For the tiebreaker,” Ness explained.

“Who said we were doing a tiebreaker challenge?” Rhonda questioned.

“What?” Pascal exclaimed. “But in past seasons-”

“-Yeah, but not this season,” Rhonda interrupted. “The tiebreaker may be decided by a challenge, but it could be decided by a number of other methods.”

“So what is the tiebreaker?” Seraphina asked.

Rhonda smirked. “We’ll have a revote; everyone but the bottom two will vote again. The bottom two will be the only choices available to vote. You can’t use immunity flash drives either; you had your chance and you blew it.”

The Fireworks nodded and began to move.

“However,” Rhonda announced, “if the bottom two are still tied after the revote, the bottom two will be granted immunity and one of you will be eliminated instead.”

All the Fireworks froze. The room became dead silent, some of the newbies trying to make eye contact with their teammates while others tried to avoid eye contact.

“Through a luck based decision,” Rhonda explained, “one of the six of you will be eliminated and go home in their stead, where you can never come back to the show and will have lost the prize of two million dollars. On that note, let’s get voting!”

Ignacio drummed his fingers against the wall. “What I do, what I do! Uhh...let's ponder this dilemma scientifically, review the facts and contemplate all my options. Now theoretically, how will everyone else vote?”

Seraphina immediately clicked Easton’s face. “Ness deserves to be here, and I’m not going to let her be eliminated. Even if I have to go home instead.”

“Easton, you’re my bro,” Riley stated, clicking Ness' face. “Through thick or thin. This time ain’t no different.”

Pascal chewed on his beanie, yanking it with is teeth. “Ahh…”

The Fireworks reseated themselves in the cafe. Jenny passed Rhonda a note, who read it, nodded and pulled back out the last cup of coffee.

“A decision has been made,” Rhonda stated. “The last cup of coffee goes to…


Rhonda tossed the twin a cup of coffee.

The short blonde nodded and stood up.

“And Ness.”

The jink’s eyes grew wide. She was so caught off guard she failed to register a cup of coffee headed straight for her, Rhonda having hidden it in her podium.

“Congrats Easton and Ness,” Rhonda announced, “you have received immunity. Griswold, Ignacio, Lita, Pascal, Riley, Seraphina; one of you will now be going home.”

“How did this happen?” Ness asked her teammates.

“We weren’t gonna let our girl go home,” Lita replied as Seraphina nodded.

“We aren’t going to let our bro go home either,” Griswold added.

“Mmhmm,” Riley agreed.

“This still doesn’t make sense,” Ignacio stated. “I switched my vote from Ness to Easton, no offense.”

“I get it,” Easton admitted, “it was a tough call.”

"But if that’s true,” Seraphina said, “then for the votes to be tied, someone else would have to had switched their votes.”

All at once, the other Fireworks turned their heads to a blushing Pascal. “Heh, heh...I uh...well…”

“You mo*********** snake,” Lita whispered.

Ness looked away. “Pascal, you promised that no matter what you…”

“Ness I-”

“-Save it,” Ness replied, struggling to hold back the tears. “I’m not even surprised.”

Rhonda cleared her throat. “If you all would follow me through the Revolving Doors of Shame for the next part of this choice.”

Outside on the sidewalk six fireworks were positioned facing the sky, and looked ready to blow up. They were each a different color, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, and each a different size ranging from miniature to bulbous.

Rhonda handed a match to the six newbies.

“Each of you must decide upon a firework and use this match to ignite it. All of these fireworks are designed to fail to launch, fizzling out. Except for one firework, which will shoot off into the sky and be extinguished in one quick motion. Whosoever firework successfully goes off will not be a Fizzled Firework, being eliminated from this team, leave the show for good and say goodbye to the two million dollars. Choose wisely.”

The six stood silent and stared at the fireworks.

“Did I mention you only have thirty seconds to choose a firework or be automatically eliminated?”

Griswold ran forward and chose the red firework.

“It's the color of my football team,” Griswold mumbled, “and it hasn’t let me down yet…”

Seraphina’s eyes rolled into the back of her head. She sat in a lotus position on the ground.

“Eenie, meanie, minnie, moe,” Riley said, going between the fireworks.

“Let’s see I have a one in six chance of being wrong,” Ignacio stated. “Well one in five now, so that’s four fifths chance of being right…”

“If he hollers let him go…”

Lita tugged on her scarf, before deciding upon the purple firework.

“So that makes one in fourth…”

Pascal turned his head back and forth, looking for a sign. His beanie fell off his head. As Pascal caught it he smiled and dashed towards the orange firework.

Seraphina’s eyes rolled to the front of her head, the psychic jumping up and claiming the blue firework.

“And the very best one is you,” Riley finished, her finger landing on the yellow firework.

Ignacio sighed and quickly ran to the green firework, lighting its wick.

The Fizzled Fireworks stood back as the fuses burnt out. There was a short pause…

...before the orange firework shot off into the sky and rained down a display of orange sparks. The other fireworks released a bit of smoke before collapsing in on themselves.

“I’m afraid it's the end of the road Pascal,” Rhonda announced. Jenny passed out cups of coffee to the remaining Fireworks, who chugged the drink in relief despite its flavor.

Pascal sighed and walked forward for a moment. He turned back, only to see Ness already headed towards the hotel.

Seraphina wiped away a tear.

“It's okay Seraphina, you’re safe,” Griswold stated.

Seraphina sniffled. “I know, I’m just...I’m just so happy that Pascal’s nasty ass is finally gone!”

“Amen!” Lita added. “Don’t let the door hit you, where the good lord split you.”

“You know I can hear you,” Pascal shouted from the bus stop. “I’m like five feet away.”

“I know,” Seraphina replied. “And seeing your sadness is even sweeter than this cup of coffee you didn’t get!”

The Public Transportation of Losers pulled up and Pascal limped on board, trudging to the back of the bus and falling into the seat.


Pascal looked up and saw Amanda Picklestein in the seat across from him.

“Mandy?” Pascal asked. “What are you doing here?”

“I quit being an intern,” Many sighed. “I’m taking this bus out of here. Why are you here?”

“I lost,” Pascal grieved, slouching further in his seat.

“Oh Pascy-Wascy…”

“No, no I deserved to go home,” Pascal admitted. “I was a jerk, a monster. I didn’t mean to be so horrible, I just...I wanted to win for once, especially the show I’ve watched since I was a kid.”

Mandy nodded and looked down.

Pascal looked up, his hat falling off his head and beside him in the seat.

“I’m sorry.”

Pascal raised his eyebrow. “What?”

“I’m sorry I came here,” Mandy stated. “And...I’m sorry I won our old show. If I had known how important it was to you I-”

“-I’m the one who needs to apologize,” Pascal said. “You didn’t do anything. I got jealous and I let it consume me. When instead I should have been happy that my best friend won.”

There was a silence for a moment.

“Mandy,” Pascal said, “you’re a little talkative and overexcited, but I realize I like that about you. I'm the same way. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, you didn’t deserve that. I'd take it all back if I can. You know, on every show I competed on I was thinking about you, maybe in jealously. But I’ve realized that all this time I still care about you; that’s why I still wear the hat you made me.”

Mandy smiled. “It suits you.”

“Yeah, I think it does,” Pascal laughed. “I’m actually really happy I have it; even today, I am glad I wear it.”

The Public Transportation of Losers swerved at a turn, causing Mandy to slip right next to Pascal.

“Mandy,” Pascal said, “do you wanna go out? Like, on a date?”

“Does this answer your question?”

Mandy stood on her tippy toes and jerked Pascal into kiss, the two eventually making out.

“Heehee,” Pascal giggled and fell back against the seat. “What have I gotten myself into?”

“Oh my gosh I can’t believe this is happening!” Mandy cheered. “Isn’t that crazy? I think its crazy. What do we now? Where should we go on a date? I mean I don’t really care where but I want it to be magical so its burned in our minds forever and oh I have to introduce you to my dad! And my mom! And my sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews and cousins and friends and acquaintances and, oh! Should we have cutesy nicknames for each other? And a couple name! What about Pasclstien? And I blah blah blahblahblah…”

Pascal facepalmed. “What have I gotten myself into?”

Chapter 12 In Squad We Trust

On the roof of the Pentagram Hotel, the Molting Eagles sat at tables enjoying a classy Italian dinner, their reward for winning the last challenge.

Vance slurped up pasta noodles as waiters brought more plates out. “That’s it! Keep it coming! And bring more breadsticks!”

Melissa laughed as she took another spoonful of soup. She smiled as Cynthia took a seat next to her. “Oh Cynthia! You didn’t have to come sit with me, you can sit with Weston.”

“He has time for his friends,” Cynthia replied. “I want to make time for mine.”

Melissa hugged the girl. “You’re too sweet.”

“I wanted to apologize for not telling you about the Hayden vote,” Cynthia said. “It won’t happen again.”

“Thank you,” Melissa replied. “I’m not mad, but I appreciate it.”

“I don’t care about people,” Cynthia admitted. “But I guess Melissa and Weston are an exception...I’m glad I met them.”

The sky suddenly lit up as an orange firework went off. The Molting Eagles gasped and clapped.

Ness sat in her bed, staring at the ceiling. Slowly, Lita and Seraphina inched into the room.

“Hey sweetie,” Lita greeted. “Can we hang with you?”

“I was just going to bed,” Ness admitted.

“That’s cool,” Seraphina said. “But we thought if you wanted could enjoy some cake.”

Ness turned to see Seraphina and Lita pull a rich chocolate cake from behind their backs. Sixteen candles were lit on top of it.

“We know you hate your birthday,” Lita said. “But we’re glad to have you here, so we wanted to show that.”

Ness wiped her eyes on her sleeve. “You got me a cake?”

"After you told us about your birthday earlier,” Lita explained, “we snuck off to bake you one.”

“And after almost burning down the kitchen we asked Melissa for help,” Seraphina admitted.

“But we made sure nothing you were allergic to is in it,” Lita stated. “Can we cut you a slice?”

Ness shrugged. “I guess so.”

Lita nodded and sat it on the drawers. She cut three slices while Seraphina put them on paper plates. The three girls sat on the bed and dug in, sighing in delight.

“Melissa has got some skill,” Ness admitted.

“Amen,” Seraphina replied. “Ness, we’re sorry about what happened with Pascal. He was a jerk, you didn’t deserve that."

"He was nice to me...I thought,” Ness replied.

Lita brushed hair out of her smaller friend’s face. “Ness, you’re amazing! Some guy will wise-up and realize it, or screw it, I’ll marry you myself.”

Ness and Seraphina laughed. “I’ll officiate you two if I can.”

“Seraphina please, you can marry us too,” Lita joked. “I know you want to! We’re just too good for everybody else.”

“Griswold might get jealous,” Ness teased.

Lita rolled her eyes. “Psh, he can be jealous. Like **** him, **** all the other losers out there.”

Ness laughed. “You know, you guys might’ve made this my best birthday yet.”

“Maybe we need to change the date of your birthday,” Seraphina suggested. “Let’s celebrate it tomorrow! We can have a girls day at the mall.”

“Yes!” Lita cheered. “We can get you a nice gift then too.”

Ness blushed. “Oh...what the heck! Let’s do it!”

The three roomies embraced each other, accidentally spilling their cake on the bed.

The next day, Weston walked into the kitchen. Melissa and Vance were already there, standing awkwardly.

“Hey Melissa,” Weston greeted. “Vance said you wanted some help pie tasting?”

“Um...well...look Weston,” Melissa stated, pulling a coin out of his pocket. “I have a shiny nickel.”

Vance stole the coin and tossed it in the open freezer. “Go fetch partner!”

Weston crossed his arms. “Do you really expect me to chase a nickel?”

Melissa blushed. “Well…”

“No, it was a dumb plan I reckon,” Vance said, looking down. “It wasn’t even a nickel; just a quarter.”

The two looked up to see Weston had ran off into the freezer. “A whole quarter? That’s like four baby dollars!”

The two Eagles high-fived. Easton came walking back into the kitchen with Griswold and Riley behind him.

“Why are we going to the kitchen when we’re going out for broritos again?” Easton asked.

Riley and Griswold shared a look. “Uhh…”

Griswold grabbed Easton, tossing him into the freezer and slamming it shut. “Sorry about this bro; hopefully you’ll thank us.”

Easton stood up and immediately glared upon seeing his other half. “Weston.”


“Vance this was a nickel,” Weston shouted.

“I think I’m owed an explanation,” Easton stated, trying to push the door open.

“And I think I’m owed twenty cents!”

“We’re awfully sorry to do this,” Melissa stated, “but you two need to talk, and since you wouldn’t do it own your own, we thought we could help.”

“It was defiantly my idea though,” Vance added.

“You mean definitely, right?” Griswold asked.

“Get comfy in there you two,” Riley said. “Cause until you make up we aren’t letting you out.”

“So the sooner you two hug it out, the sooner you can get warm,” Vance stated.

Easton sighed and turned to face Weston’s glare. “Well…"

“I don’t have anything to say,” Weston stated. “I wouldn’t want to burden you.”

“For someone who has nothing to say you certainly don’t mind talking,” Easton replied.

Riley pressed her ear against the door. “I think they’re speaking to each other!"

“Easton was in danger of going home because of his and Weston’s fighting,” Riley explained. “But even more than that, you shouldn’t hate your brother; they're your family."

"When my parents died, all of my eight brothers pitched in to help raise me. Of course we didn’t always get along, but we always made up; we’re always there for each other. I don’t want Easton or Weston to lose someone like that over a silly fight.”

“I appreciate the help with this,” Vance stated. “Xidorn thought it was ‘dumb’ and ‘would make things worse’.”

“I was happy to help a teammate in need,” Melissa replied.

“I want you to know that we still consider you a teammate...”

Melissa smiled.

“...we just kept you in the dark about a lot of stuff and voted off your boyfriend,” Vance continued. “No hard feelings.”

Melissa raised an eyebrow, yet tried to keep her smile. “Thanks?”

In the freezer, the two twins were now arguing.

"I don’t care if it was manipulated or not,” Weston replied. “You still think I’m a burden and told your teammates I was an idiot.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Easton explained. “I wouldn’t say those things to hurt you; but you don’t think about that, about how I feel.”

“Like how I didn’t think about starting a relationship with Cynthia?” Weston asked. “I know you don’t approve, not that I care.”

“I’m sorry if I don’t like that you’re dating a serial killer,” Easton replied.

“I finally found someone who likes me for me,” Weston stated.

“Who doesn’t like you?” Easton asked. “Everyone likes you!”

“No, everyone likes you!” Weston stated. “You’re the smart one, the reliable one. The one who’s doing something with your life.”

“Everyone likes you,” Easton yelled again. “Everyone thinks you're funnier, more interesting. Mom, dad, our friends; they all care about you. They don’t give a crap about what I do.”

“No they like you better,” Weston shouted, trying to be louder. “Don’t you get it-

“You don’t get it!” Easton screamed. “Its obvious-”

“-You’re the superior twin!” the two shouted in unison.

Riley fist pumped outside the freezer door. “I think they finished each other's sentences again.”

“Everyone thinks I’m just your dummy sidekick,” Weston stated.

“Everyone thinks I’m unnecessary when you exist,” Easton stated.

“This is actually going a lot better than a I thought,” Griswold admitted.


Griswold took a step back as the door vibrated a little bit. “Or not.”

Riley threw open the door, the twins tumbling out while punching each other. Quickly Griswold and Melissa pulled them two apart, holding each back.

“Calm down dude,” Griswold stated. “Don’t do this!”

“Don’t start Gris!” Easton shouted. “You locked me in there with him.”

“We just wanted you to talk,” Griswold replied. “To stop fighting and be brothers again.”

“Easton is not my brother,” Weston stated. “He’s not anything to me anymore.”

The younger twin stormed off.

Easton froze there for a moment, before turning away and sulking out. “Right back at you!”

"There was more hurt than I realized," Riley admitted. "They've been bottling it up for such a long time...this is going to take a lot of work to fix, and it won't be easy."

The others nodded.

Melissa walked off, only to run into Seraphina.

“Ooh, good morning Seraphina,” Melissa greeted.

“Mornin’,” Seraphina greeted. “Hey, thanks for help with the cake yesterday. Ness loved it...till we spilt it in the bed...but still ate it…”

“I was happy I could help,” Melissa greeted. “No one should have a bad birthday.”

“I was actually looking for you,” Seraphina admitted. “Could I ask you something?”

“Of course,” Melissa replied. “If there’s anything I can help with, I want to.”

“I just wanted some advice I guess,” Seraphina said. “I know you and Aiden had issues, we saw them at the Awake-a-thon...but you ended up dating. How did you make it work? You were so different.”

Melissa sighed. “It's weird to think he only left a few days ago."

“I’m sorry,” Seraphina replied. “You don’t have to-”

“-Like I said I don’t mind,” Melissa said. “I think with me and Aiden...we had our differences. But we had so much in common, that the differences just seemed so small. We realized that was more important than the differences...does that make sense?”

“A lot, yeah,” Seraphina replied. “Thank you.”

Melissa winked. “I have faith you and Xidorn will make it work.”

The two girls said their goodbyes and parted ways.

Early in the hours of the next morning, the contestants slept peacefully…until an air horn played over the P.A. “Hey everybody! Be in the lobby now for today’s challenge!”

Still dressed in their pajamas, the contestants groggily crept to the lobby.

“Morning everyone!” Rhonda greeted. “You sleep good?”

“For five minutes,” Griswold sighed.

Seraphina yawned. “Why are we doing this challenge now? “Wasn’t it every three days?”

“I have to finish this show by a certain point, ” Rhonda replied. “Before this hotel opens to the public.”

“Didn’t you plan out the schedule beforehand?” Easton asked. “That usually helps.”

Rhonda tried but failed to hide a smile. “We have a very flexible schedule, lots of production changes…nothing to worry your heads about yet. Instead, you ought to worry about your next challenge.”

“Are you going to tell us what this challenge is?” Xidorn asked. “Or just throw us down another trap door?”

“We’ve been doing challenges rather similar to the ones your predecessors faced,” Rhonda explained, “so it's time for another variation on a fan-favorite challenge…”

“So you just copied and pasted another old challenge?” Seraphina asked.

“Its called a call-back and a celebration of this franchise’s rich history,” Rhonda replied.

“Then why’d she yell at us for using it,” Jenny whispered to Toby.

“We’ve noticed that some conflicts have been forming between your teams,” Rhonda explained. “We want to help mend those bonds...through extremely dangerous events! So prepare for trust building!”

The contestants stared at Rhonda, Toby imitating cricket noises.

“Really?” Rhonda asked. “You don’t have a problem blabbing earlier, but now nothing?”

“Is that before or after breakfast?” Kalino asked.

“Didn’t you already eat?” Xidorn asked.

“Not second breakfast,” Kalino replied.

Rhonda facepalmed. Jenny smirked and tip-toed over to her technical superior. She whispered things in her ear, causing an ugly grin to appear on the hostess’ face.

“I like it,” Rhonda replied. “Alright newcomers, let’s get cooking…”

“Does anyone else think that Rhonda is becoming meaner and meaner?” Griswold asked. “Sure she was intense at the start, but friendly. Maybe we rubbed her the wrong way, but she’s a little too sadistic. Jenny might be having a bad influence on her…”

Later, the newbies had changed into their swimsuits and found themselves standing outside of the Pentagram hotel. They stood on a makeshift dock, a large aquarium tank in front of each team.

“For your first challenge, you’ll be making a delicious soup,” Rhonda announced. “Kung-fu soup! Allow me to share the recipe; noodles, vegetables...and seven of the deadliest fish in the world!”

Rhonda smirked and rubbed her hands together, pointing to the water below. “We’ve stocked this tank with electric eels, piranhas…”

The contestants gulped as a horde of piranhas tore into the flesh of an eel, who shocked them in response. However both were killed as they were stung by a purple jellyfish.

“Toxic jellyfish, swordfish, the poisonous fugu blowfish…”

A blowfish popped up, only to be deflated by a charging swordfish. The swordfish smirked, only to pass over dead.

“...Man eating sharks…”

As if on cue, a great shark jumped out into the sky and flashed a toothy grin. It tied a bib around around its neck before sinking back into the water...only to be grabbed by giant octopus tentacles.

“...and a killer octopus. Fun fact, it's called kung-fu soup for a reason; a single bite of an ill prepared bowl of this soup feels like taking a beating from Jackie Chan. One person from each team will prepare the soup and serve it to another team member."

“Melissa will be cooking for the Molting Eagles, while Kalino will enjoy the meal.”

“Good luck partner,” Vance said. “If you die who do you want me to give your Gamecube too?”

“Take a chillaxative bud,” Kalino replied. “Melissa is cooking; she’s like a pro-chef.”

“Good point,” Rhonda admitted. “In that case, you’ll cook and Melissa will eat.”

Kalino facepalmed as Melissa gave him a sympathetic look.

“For the Fireworks...I think it’s time to see how much our ex lovebirds trust each other,” Rhonda announced. “Lita will cook, while Griswold will eat.”

“Exes?” Seraphina asked. “You broke up and didn’t tell me or Ness?”

“It’s not important,” Lita replied. “It happens. It's not going to affect how either of us do in this challenge.”

“I’m sure,” Rhonda replied. “I was going to have the ingredients ready...but since you all seem so eager to nitpick, the rest of you will fish for the ingredients and bring them to our chefs in the kitchen. If there’s a tie, whoever brings the most fish wins.”

Toby dropped a ham into the water. It sank into the water...before resurfacing as a bone. A shark eagerly chomped into it and dove back underwater.

Jenny snickered. “Gee, I sure how the soup is prepared good. It’d be shame if Gris or Melissa became sick and had to be voted out to keep the team strong.”

Griswold rolled his eyes while Melissa gulped.

“Do I think Kalino would poison me?” Melissa asked. “Oh goodness no. I’m not certain I trust him though...he’s kept me out of the loop quite a bit. I’m not sure he knows how to cook either. I had to help him microwave a Kids Cuisine meal once.”

“I didn’t actually need Melissa to help me with that Kids Cuisine meal,” Kalino replied. “The microwave was a whole room away.”

The remaining teens stood outside the tank, while Toby delivered each a set of fishing gear.

“So now what?” Weston asked.

“Psh, I go fishing in the crick all the time back home,” Vance bragged. “This will be easier than hog-tieing a...hog.”

Vance placed a bit of cheese on a fish hook and flung the line into the tank. With a sploosh it sank into the ocean. In seconds the line tugged.

“Told you,” Vance replied. “Have I ever been wrong?”

“You want the list handwritten or typed?” Xidorn teased.

Before Vance could reply he found himself tugged by the line. The cowboy was yanked forward, falling into the tank and into the arms of a man-eating shark.

“To be fair, there are not sharks in the crick,” Vance admitted. The shark itself being dousing him in barbecue sauce. But as it prepared to snap, Xidorn maced it in the face. The shark pouted, tossing Vance in Xidorn’s arms and swimming off.

“Thanks for the rescue deputy,” Vance replied. “But how did you do it?”

“Oh that’s easy,” Xidorn replied. “Shark repellent.”

"I was a fan of the original Total Drama when I was a kid,” Xidorn admitted. “I stopped watching after some of the later seasons…not to jump on the All-Stars hate bandwagon, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I knew we’d have sharks on this show, given its history, so I figured I’d need this. Not to mention Batman always carries it.”

The Fizzled Fireworks were trying to come up with a plan; their net had been torn, their rods snapped in half and their bait depleted, with nothing to show for it.

“We need a new strategy,” Easton said. “Anyone have any ideas?”

“What if we just like shattered the tank,” Riley suggested. “We could do that, right?”

“No, no you can’t!” Rhonda shouted off the sidelines. 

“Well,” Ness said. “It's not a great plan...but we could use me as a bait. Animals aren’t always my biggest fan...and I think these fish really don’t like me.”

Ness looked down into the tank; in the octopus’ tentacles it held a photo of Ness. It then held up a lighter, burning the picture and tossing towards the Fireworks.

“How can it even light a fire underwater?” Seraphina asked. 

“I’m not comfortable with that idea Ness,” Ignacio stated. “You could be brutalized...worse than usual.” 

“I might have a plan,” Seraphina admitted. “But I don’t know if you’ll like it Ignacio…”

The Eagles themselves were trying to think of a plan, just as unsuccessful. 

“We’re out of bait,” Vance admitted. “What else do fish like?”

Weston jumped in place, raising his hand. “I know! I know! Fish love water! If we get some water…wait...”

Xidorn and Vance shared a look. 

“Ooh!” Weston exclaimed. “I have another idea! Why don’t we send in our secret weapon, my sweetheart!”

“Huh,” Vance said. “We should just done that in the first place.”

“To be honest I was trying to be merciful to the fish,” Xidorn admitted. “But I guess we’re out of options...where is Cynthia?” 

Xidorn jumped as he felt breathing on the back of his neck. Cynthia appeared behind him, having grabbed her chainsaw.

“Use these for the carcasses,” Cynthia stated, dropping a roll of black trash bags. She revved her chainsaw before jumping into the water. 

Weston swooned as chunks of fugu blowfish and octopus floated to the top of the tank. “She’s like a little mermaid...a mermaid Cthulhu.”

The Fizzled Fireworks had a plan of their own…

Ignacio sighed as he he stood out in front of the tank, pulling down the top of his wet suit. Immediately, the fish started throwing themselves out of the tank and at the hunk. Using the remains of their poles as spears, they moved the smaller fish into the net. 

“Nice plan Seraphina,” Easton said. “Its working really well!”

A shark, with hearts in its eyes, threw itself out of the tank. Ignacio ducked and it flew right into Ness, knocking her off the platform. 

“A little too well,” Easton said. 

In the kitchen, Kalino and Lita were getting to work. Kalino whistled as he precisely chopped a fugu blowfish into sushi-style pieces. Weston rushed in with a dripping trash bag. 

“Here’s more fish Kalino,” Weston said. “Oh, and Cynthia got us each one of these.” 

He dropped a large shark tooth onto the kitchen counter. “We can put it under our pillow for the tooth fairy!”

“Nicceeeeee,” Kalino replied, high-fiving the twin. 

Riley meanwhile drug the net of fish and plopped it next to Lita. “How’s the cooking Lightning Lita?” 

“It ain’t no thing,” Lita replied. “ you use an egg beater for soup?” 

Riley shrugged. “My diet usually consists of fast-food, leftovers or mini pizza bagels.”

Lita laughed as she held up a jellyfish. “I feel. I haven’t been able to find any jelly in these things...meh, I’m sure it’ll turn out alright though.” 

“Hey I hope you don’t mind me asking...but you okay?” Riley questioned. “You know...after you and Gris…”

“He told ya?”

“Yeah...I didn’t see it coming honestly.”

“I did,” Lita replied. “It was obvious Griswold didn’t love me. We just didn’t fit right.”

“Oh...guess I missed that. So you didn’t love him either?”

“No, I loved him,” Lita replied. “Loving someone just isn’t always enough.”

Riley nodded and walked away as Lita stirred the soup. 

Soon, Rhonda and her cohorts have gathered into the dining hall. Griswold and Melissa sat at opposite tables, both with weary looks on their face. Lita and Kalino walked out, placing bowls in front of their teammates. Melissa gasped as she stirred the soup; it looked like ordinary, delicious soup. Griswold stirred his soup; it looked like fish guts floating in water. 

“Bon appetit!” Rhonda laughed. 

“This looks amazing Kalino!” Melissa exclaimed. She sipped a bit from her spoon and sighed deeply. “It tastes amazing too! Thank you!”

“What are teammates for?” Kalino replied. 

Melissa started drinking from the bowl. “Mmm...I didn’t know you were such a skilled chef.”

“Eh, I rarely cook,” Kalino stated, “never made soup before either, but it seemed easy enough.”

Melissa raised an eyebrow, but shrugged and finished slurping her soup. Everyone turned to look at Griswold, still stirring his soup.

“Well?” Rhonda asked. 

“Don’t worry Griswold,” Lita stated. “I know I’m not a chef so-”

Griswold slammed his fist on the table. “I admit that its...fishy looking. Uh, no pun intended. But I trust Lita, even if we are exes! I have faith in her and in my team. So here goes nothing…”

Griswold threw his head back as he chucked down the soup in one gulp. 

“Huh,” Griswold said. “It's not bad actual-” 

He immediately blew chunks onto the table. 

“Aww yeah!” Vance cheered. “Eagles win!”

“Not quite,” Rhonda said. “The goal was to see if you trusted your teammates, not whether you prepared the soup right. Since both teams finished we’ll go to our tiebreaker, seeing who caught the most fish…which was actually the Molting Eagles so uh...I guess you were right. Congrats Eagles.”

The Molting Eagles burst into cheers, patting Kalino and Melissa on the back. 

“Way to go guys,” Xidorn cheered. “You kicked butt. You too uh...Cynthia….”

Cynthia held a thumbs up as she sharpened her knife with a shark’s tooth. 

“Don’t get too cocky Eagles,” Riley said. “We still got another round. Gris Bear, Lita, Iggy Pop, you all did great.” 

“Riley’s right,” Jenny said.

“Aww thanks Jenny,” Griswold replied. 

“Not about y’all, you lost,” Jenny replied. “Its called sucking hardcore.” 

The Fireworks glared at the co-host. 

“But we do have another round,” Jenny giggled. “So let’s found out if you trust your teammates to fight beside you…”

The scene cut to outside the looming Pentagram Hotel, where an area of sorts had been built from trash, and now stood outside the gates. In the center was a large pool of mud. A raised circular platform shot out of it, also drenched in mud. The two teams each sat in a separate section of wooden bleachers. 

“Aww sweet!” Riley cheered. “I’ve been wanting another wrestling challenge! I’m guessing Tobster made this sweet arena.”

Toby smirked a little. “Guilty as charged.”

“Guilty of being a loser,” Jenny said. 

Rhonda cleared her throat. “As you guessed Riley, this is a wrestling challenge, but its tag team wrestling! You’ll be tethered to your teammate with a short chain, and have to knock your opponents off the platform to win. We’ll give you each a jousting stick to use, but other than that it's hand-to-hand combat. No other weapons.”

Everyone turns to look at Cynthia. She stops carving the bleacher and stabbed her knife inside it. “I don’t need a knife to make someone bleed.”

“I don’t think anyone doubts that,” Rhonda replied. “For the first round...let’s see...we’ll have Seraphina and Griswold for the Fizzled Fireworks versus Xidorn and Kalino.”

Griswold rubbed his chin as he eyed Kalino. Kalino waved at him.

“Kalino played pretty dirty at the last challenge,” Griswold said. “I don’t know, I’m just getting an off feeling about this guy…”

Seraphina forced a smile and tried waving at Xidorn. He sighed and looked away. 

“Hey man, I think you’re girlfriend is trying to talk to you,” Kalino stated, following him to the arena. 

“We’re not really together anymore,” Xidorn replied, clipping the chain on his leg.

“Aww sucks dude,” Kalino said.

“I don’t really want to talk about,” Xidorn replied.

“Worried about fighting Xidorn?” Griswold asked. 

“You can take him,” Seraphina said.

“You know that’s not what I meant,” Griswold replied. 

“I don't think mud-wrestling will make things better," Seraphina said.

Griswold sighed and rustled her head. 

“Enough talk!” Rhonda yelled, sitting like a Roman empress. “Commence the fighting!”

Jousting sticks in hands, the pairs stood, waiting for the other to make a move. Suddenly, the platform shifted and shaked. In his hand, Toby titled a control stick. 

“Did I mention this platform moves?” Rhonda asked. 

Seraphina rolled her eyes, groaning and charging forward to strike at Kalino...only to reach too far and be yanked back into Griswold. 

Kalino stuck out his tongue. “Neiner, neiner.” 

Griswold smirked, then charged full steam ahead. Seraphina screamed, before falling face forward into the mud and drug behind the brickhouse. Xidorn and Kalino gulped, swerving to the right and sliding behind the linebacker. 

Xidorn poked the mud covered psychic. “You alright?” 

Seraphina held up her head and coughed up a puddle. “Yeah...haha, I’m just glad it's only mud.”

Xidorn giggled as he helped her up. 

Kalino meanwhile, was dodging Griswold’s swings. 

“You’re...enjoying this...aren’t you?” Griswold panted. 

Kalino yawned. “Honestly I think it's going on a bit too long mannnn. But let’s change that…”

Dodging another swing by ducking, Kalino pantsed Griswold. 

“Think of the poor children!” Lita screamed, jumping on top of Ness to cover her eyes. 

Griswold blushed and noticed Riley doing the same as she looked away. He dropped his jousting stick as he tried to cover himself. 

Kalino held a thumbs up as he kicked away Griswold’s jousting stick. “Hey, its not a bad look man.” 

Griswold glared and prepared to strike, but the platform teetered to the the right. Kalino used his jousting stick like a baseball bat and whacked Griswold in the face. He fall back, pulling Seraphina with him off the platform. 

“Yeah,” Griswold stated, now covered in mud. “**** that guy! I got my eye on him...”

“The Molting Eagles score!” Rhonda announced. “Can the Fireworks ever catch back up? Let’s find out in round two! Lita and Ignacio will duel Vance...and Cynthia!”

Lita gulped as she slowly approached the platform. 

“Are you nervous Lita?” Ignacio asked. “I thought you’d be looking forward to another ‘smackdown’ with Vance.”

“I’m just a tiny bit utterly horrified,” Lita replied. 

Ignacio followed the path of her eyes to Cynthia’s own unblinking eyes. 

“I see,” Ignacio said. “Your serial killer phobia. Well...uh, I’ll take care of Cynthia. You focus on trouncing Vance.”

Lita squeezed the model. “Oh Ignacio, you’re just the best!”

Ignacio blushed and stammered gibberish as the model found himself pressed into her chest. 

“I’ve been terrified of Cynthia since we faced each other in the first challenge,” Ignacio admitted. “But I couldn’t let Lita down...I hope she’ll speak at my funeral.”

At the same time, Vance was shaking in his knees. 

“You’re not worried about facing Lita again are you?” Xidorn asked. 

“Why would I be?” Vance asked.

“Because she curb stomped you in the first challenge, remember?” Kalino asked.

“Yeah, she owned you!” Weston continued. 

“You cried a little,” Xidorn said. 

“It was so sad,” Melissa recalled. “It's okay if you’re scared again Vance, I would be too.”

“She had the advantage because I wasn’t going to fight her,” Vance defended. “But I’m not making that mistake again.”

“Really?” Xidorn asked. 

“I realize that was sexist,” Vance explained. 

“Wow Vance,” Xidorn admitted. “I’m really proud to hear you say that!”

Vance smirked. “So I’m going to embrace feminism by punching women too!”

Xidorn facepalmed.

“What I’m worried about is fighting with…”

He turned to end of the podium where Cynthia seemed to be staring straight at him, as if is greatest fears were revealed in her unblinking eyes. 

“Ooooh,” the cowboy shuttered. 

“Cynthia wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Melissa stated. “Well actually...what I mean is that she’s a good person.”

“Yeah, she doesn’t usually bite,” Weston added. “Except me, but that’s different…”

The other Eagles’ raised their eyebrows, except for a thumbs up from Kalino.

“Look at it this way mannnnnnnnnn,” Kalino said, “I’d rather be fighting with Cynthia than against Cynthia.”

Before Vance could reply, he found himself chained to Cynthia. 

As the two groups got on the platform, it already started to teeter. 

“Fight!” Rhonda cried out. 

Lita and Ignacio nodded as they moved in separate directions, cornering their opponents. 

“Hey there...uh Cynthia,” Ignacio greeted. “How are you?”


“Good thing I peed before this challenge,” Ignacio whispered. “So uh...there’s not a possibility my magic hotness will divert your attention, is there?”

“I have a boyfriend,” Cynthia replied.

“It's okay Cynthia!” Weston shouted. “Ignacio is a dreamboat, I would understand.” 

“Don’t think I’m going easy on you this time girly,” Vance greeted. 

“I didn’t know you had any other setting,” Lita replied. “Show me what you got sugar.”

Vance let out a battle cry and charged forward, swinging his jousting stick..only to be held back by Lita’s hand on his head. 

Cynthia stepped closer to Ignacio, holding out her pinky finger.

“What...what is that for?” Ignacio asked. 

Cynthia inched forward. “In a little bit, you’ll regret asking that.” 

“Hey Vance,” Lita asked. “Idiot says what?”

Vance rolled his eyes and scoffed. “Okay, first off that is plain dumb with capital B, like really Lita? Second...wait what?”

Lita punched him square in the jaw, then punched him in the gut. “Two for flinching!”

Suddenly the platform began to move up and down, then side to side, before spinning in circles. Lita tried to gain her balance as Vance lunged at her. He slipped and tried to grab onto the knockout… but pulled off her bra. 

The others gasped, trying and failing to avert their gaze. Toby’s jaw dropped, as did the controller, which smashed on the floor. 

“Won’t someone think of the children,” Seraphina shouted, covering Ness’ eyes. 

Vance froze. “Wooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…”

Lita rolled her eyes, grabbing Vance by the waistband of his speedo and chucking him away. Cynthia stood over a wounded Ignacio, still holding out her pinky finger, when she found herself yanked backwards. The two Eagles landed in the pool of mud below. 

“Uhh...I guess the Fizzled Fireworks won that,” Rhonda admitted. 

“Aww yeah!” Lita cheered, picking up Ignacio and hugging him. “We’re on the scoreboard. Thank you for fighting Cynthia Iggy, I wish I could repay you.”

“I think you already did,” Riley teased. 

Lita let go of the supermodel, who flopped red face first into the mud, looking like a dead fish.

“I’m just surprised Ignacio wasn’t the one to lose his clothes in this challenge,” Seraphina admitted. 

“So I showed some ta-tas,” Lita said. “We won, didn’t we? If that’s what it takes to get two million dollars, then they’ll be seeing them again.”

“It's twice for the final round,” Rhonda announced. “This time, let’s try to win while keeping our clothes on. Let’s finish with Easton and Ness...against Weston and Melissa. Time to find out which twin will come out on top!” 

The two twins immediately shot each other glares. They raced up to the platform, their partners rushing after them. 

“Begin!” Rhonda announced. 

Easton and Weston immediately went at each other. The two clashed with their jousting sticks; Weston swinging quickly, but Easton keeping his balance and blocking each time. Melissa and Ness meanwhile found themselves awkwardly squashed next to each other.

“How are you doing today Ness?” Melissa asked.

“Pretty good all things considered,” Ness replied. “By the way, thank you for baking that cake. It was delicious!”

“My pleasure!” Melissa said. “Happy belated birthday too!”

“Think you're so better than me,” Weston growled. “Are you better than this!” 

He tried to swing lower, but Easton blocked. 

“Says the guy who doesn’t care about how he treats me,” Easton replied. The older twin flicked his jousting stick, pushing Weston back. 

Weston screamed, swinging like a crazy in every direction. Easton stood his ground and with a quick swing knocked his brother back. He charged forward, pushing his twin over the edge of the platform, sending Melissa following. 

“Woo!” Easton cheered, raising his jousting stick. Ness was laying in the mud behind him. 

“With that,” Rhonda said, “we have a winner! The Fizzled Fireworks win this round!”

The Fizzled Fireworks cheered and clapped. 

“You know,” Toby stated. “If you read this past challenge with jousting sticks as innuendo, the whole thing takes on different meaning…”

“With that,” Rhonda interrupted. “Let’s get to the final challenge…”

The newcomers, out of their swimsuits and no longer covered in mud, now stood over the sidewalk of a busy Washington street. It was the large inclining road from the first challenge, the Pentagram Hotel seen in the distance at the end of the hill. From up the sidewalk, Toby, Jenny and Rhonda pulled two toboggans with wheels also from the first challenge. 

Rhonda dropped on the ground, heaving and huffing deep breathes. “The It's a partner's sled...race, where one of you will steer...blind...folded. The Why am I so out of shape?” 

Riley jumped in place, raising her hand. “Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick me!”

“We all know why Rhonda’s out of shape,” Jenny said. 

“No,” Riley said. “I want to do this challenge! I didn’t get to do wrestling again, I at least want to do this one!”

Rhonda forced herself off of the ground. “You want to do the deadly race through traffic blind?”

Riley nodded. “Sounds fun!”

“At least somebody has some enthusiasm,” Rhonda stated. “Alright you can be blindfolded, while Ness is your partner!”

“Ooh yeah!” Riley cheered. “Me and Loch Ness got this!”

“Let’s make it girls versus girls then,” Rhonda said. “Cynthia will steer, Melissa will direct.” 

Melissa smiled and glomped her eerie bestie. “We have this in the bag.”

“A body bag,” Xidorn whispered to Vance. 

“We roll in five,” Rhonda said. “Everybody else, head back to the Pentagram."

The other teens started to walk back to the Pentagram, grumbling at having just gotten here.

Kalino grabbed Xidorn’s sleeve and pulled him to the back. “Can we talk?”

“Of course,” Xidorn said. “Is there something on your mind?”

“Not to be a dog and stick my nose in your business,” Kalino said, “but I got to you really want to be done with Seraphina?”

“No,” Xidorn admitted. “Talking to her at the challenge was nice...but I’m still hurt.”

“Trust me,” Kalino said, “if you care about her, don’t let her slip away. Sometimes there’s a time limit you have to be with someone and make it work...and you can never go back to that place where you were in love once its up.”

“I...I can understand that,” Xidorn said. 

“I mean did she cheat on you or something?” Kalino asked.

“Nothing like that,” Xidorn replied.  “She just told a big lie for this game...she said it was to help me but I think she crossed the line.”

Kalino rubbed the back of his head. “I gotcha. This is just me, but I wouldn’t let it come between you two.”

“Really?” Xidorn asked.

“Sometimes we do things we regret,” Kalino said. “It sounds like it was for a good reason.”

“I don’t think so,” Xidorn replied. “She didn’t trust me enough, why should I trust her?”

“Give her the chance to earn it,” Kalino replied. “I mean if I betrayed someone’s trust like that...well, I'd want a second chance. Everyone would.” 

Xidorn kicked the ground. “Am I being selfish?”

“Not necessarily,” Kalino replied. “But I wouldn’t call it a dealbreaker. If it's really love, it's a learning experience for both of you about each other. It's a tiny hurdle on the way to happiness.”

Xidorn pulled Kalino in for a big hug. “Thank you. Really, thank you. You have a way with words with Kalino.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Kalino replied. “So what lie did she tell anyway?”

“Ooh it's silly…”

Kalino sat silently in the confessional for a moment, before exhaling heavily. “So apparently that little rumor that got Frannie sent home...was spread by Seraphina. Huh. Who’d have guessed.”

The surfer sighed, slouching in the seat. “Maybe I would have fallen too hard for Frannie, would’ve got distracted. Now I only have one goal; win this thing. What Seraphina did doesn’t change that.”

Kalino sat up and smiled. “Though I do plan on returning the favor. Let’s see if her tarot cards can predict which of her close friends I take down first.” 

“Go!” Rhonda shouted. 

The two sleds pushed off, the Fireworks wobbling towards traffic while the Eagles dashed forward.

“Left!” Ness screamed, Riley narrowly swerving. .”Right, Right! Left! Ahh, look out! Incoming old lady!

A crunching noise was heard as they passed by. “Aah my hip!”

“Incoming mom!”

“Aah my baby!”

“Incoming Rhonda!”

“Aah, my few remaining shreds of dignity!” 

“Whoops,” Riley laughed. “You don't think she noticed I almost hit her, do you?”

“Almost?” Ness cried. “Aah, fire hydrant! Right, right!” 

Melissa and Cynthia swerved back and forth through the street. 

“Left!” Melissa called. Cynthia swerved easily out of the way of a car. 

“Right!” Melissa stated, Cynthia dodging again. 

“Trash can dead ahead!” Melissa said. 

From behind her back Cynthia grabbed her chainsaw and slashed the can in half. The two girls high fived as they took the lead. 

At the Pentagram, Toby and Jenny watched the race through binoculars. 

“It looks like things are getting too tame,” Jenny stated. 

Out of her pocket, the mischievous redhead pulled out another of Toby’s contraptions. This time it was a TV remote with an antennae and covered in duct tape. 

“How were you able to legally do any of this again?” Seraphina asked. Secretly she hoped to distract the redhead from her latest scheme.

Instead, Jenny pressed all the buttons on the gadget first. “Ooh, the coppers don’t care about any of this! They have bigger issues to worry about.” 

Seraphina raised an eyebrow. “Bigger issues?” 

“Haven’t you heard?” Toby asked. “The subway system has been temporarily closed after a horrible crash. Say the mad horse caused it.”

All the newcomers turned to look at Vance, who bent down and pretended to be tying his laceless boot. 

“Weeee!” Riley laughed, the sled spinning in circles as cars swerved left and right to avoid the teens. “Look Ness, no hands!”

Ness covered her eyes as her face turned green. “I don’t think I can. At least it can’t get any worse.” 

Suddenly a boom was heard. Ness immediately dropped her hands as explosions started going off. 

“Where do they keep getting all these land mines?” Ness cried. 

“Where do you keep getting all these land mines?” Seraphina questioned, Jenny going crazy pressing the buttons. 

“Rhonda said it's because of the original show,” Jenny explained. “The show always had that questionably legal angle, you know? But as the seasons went on it became deadlier and deadlier as the host became nastier and nastier. It had coat following with sadists as result.”

“Cult following,” Toby corrected. “Which anyone with a sixth grade vocabulary would know.”

“YOUR MOM!” Jenny snapped. 

“I’m noticing a pattern with these seasons,” Seraphina said. “So the explosives?”

“Generous donations from sadistic fans who want to support a new version of their favorite program,” Jenny replied. 

“Why couldn’t they just write stories on the internet like the other nerds?” Vance asked. 

Xidorn pouted. “You said you liked my Overwatch fanfiction.” 

As the race continued, the explosives proved to be hardly any obstacle for Cynthia and Melissa, who seemed to move with inhuman precision. 

“We’re almost there!” Melissa cheered. 

The same couldn’t be said with Riley and Ness, the jinx trying to pat out on a fire on the bro’s wolf hat. 

“Do you think we’re close Ness?” Riley asked. 

“I don’t even know if we’re on the same street,” Ness admitted. 

“Oops,” Riley laughed. “Hey, maybe we’ll get lucky and catch up.”

Before Ness could reply, an explosion went off. Riley and Ness screamed as their now burning were launched far into the air...landing a little ahead of Melissa and Cynthia. 

“Wooo!” Riley cheered. “I guess we did get lucky Ness.”

Ness coughed out black smoke. “Yeah...I...I guess so…”

“Uh oh,” Melissa said. “They flew right in front of us!”

“Flew?” Cynthia asked. 

“I have no idea either,” Melissa replied. 

Cynthia nodded. She leaned forward, Melissa following suit, putting their weight forward. Swerving from traffic lane to lane, they swooped in next to the Fizzled Fireworks. 

Rhonda, now having joined the onlookers, watched with her binoculars. “They’re entering the home stretch and they’re neck and neck!” 

Melissa whispered in Cynthia’s ears. The eerie girl nodded, and in flash pulled out her chainsaw. Ness shrieked as Cynthia sawed the half sled. With a kick, she send Ness flying into a dumpster. 

“I’m really sorry about this,” Melissa called. 

“What’s going on Loch Ness?” Riley asked. “ alive back there?” 

With the loss of weight, Riley easily slid forward and crossed the finish line, followed by the Eagles. 

Riley lifted her blindfold. “Uhhh…”

“Well since all of the Fireworks didn’t cross the finish line,” Rhonda stated. “The win has to go to Cynthia and Melissa, meaning the Molting Eagles win today’s challenge!”

The Molting Eagles cheered, Melissa glomping Cynthia again as the male Eagles high-fived each other. 

Ness came running up to the finish line, immediately frowning upon seeing the Eagles. 

Riley patted the blonde girl. “Hey don’t worry Nessie, it couldn’t be helped. We at least had fun on the ride here, yeah?” 

Ness smiled slightly. “Yeah, a little.”

“Hopefully you’ll have even more fun at tonight’s Internet Cafe Elimination ceremony,” Rhonda announced. “I’ll see you there Fizzled Fireworks, where another one of your teammates will get the boot.” 

Rhonda turned to the celebrating Molting Eagles. “Later tonight, we’ll give you the special reward you won Eagles.”

“Another five star dinner under the stars?” Weston asked. 

“Nope,” Rhonda replied. “For today’s challenge you proved you trust each other pretty well...for now. But as another test, each of you will be picking another Eagles’ reward!”

The Eagles looked at each other in confusion. Rhonda stepped forward, now holding a magician’s top hat in her hand. “In here are six pieces of folded paper, each listing three possible rewards. Each of you have been randomly assigned a teammate. You’ll draw a list, then pick a reward from the list for your teammate in the confessional after the elimination tonight. ” 

“Interesting idea,” Xidorn admitted. “Allows a lot of choice involved.”

“Yeah, we stole it from another fanfiction,” Jenny replied. “Err...were ‘inspired’.”

Rhonda rolled her eyes. “We have permission. Some of these rewards are fabulous...others not so much. The lists are meant to be secret, so you can’t tell anyone of the other options. You’ll just have to trust your teammate gave you the best option.”

Rhonda allowed each Eagle to draw a list, but warned not to open it until their alone.

“Now here’s the choosers; Cynthia will pick for Xidorn, Xidorn will pick for Weston, Weston will pick for Vance, Vance will pick for Melissa, Melissa will pick for Kalino, and Kalino will pick for Cynthia."

"You have tonight to think and decide. Choose wisely, you might regret it later...”

Later, Xidorn was in his usual TV watching room, reviewing his list as a movie played in the background. “Hmm…”

“Hey, can we talk?”

Seraphina stood in the doorway. 

“Yeah, I was hoping to see you,” Xidorn said with a smile.

The psychic took a seat on the couch. “Invasion of the Living Pants, that’s a good one.”

“I’d ask you to join...but you have business tonight,” Xidorn replied. “How’s that?”

“It's between two people who I don’t want to go home,” Seraphina stated. “So, nothing new. Listen...I want to say I’m sorry for spreading that stupid rumor. I should have talked you.”

“I appreciate it,” Xidorn replied. “I don’t want to be rude...I get you did it for me, but I don’t understand why you didn’t talk to me? For a relationship to work we have to talk…”

“I gave into my fears and doubts,” Seraphina admitted. “I didn’t believe you could stay and we could keep dating...and I made it so we couldn’t.”

“So do you not have faith in me?” Xidorn asked. 

“I just don’t have faith in the world,” Seraphina said. “Sometimes I think...I used to be an optimist. I was like you Xidorn.”

“Why'd that change?” Xidorn asked. 

“I learned not to trust,” Seraphina replied. “From my mom raising me, to not be able to control my powers and being rejected because of them...too many bad things happened.”

Xidorn pulled Seraphina closer to him. She rested on his shoulder. “You know, I used to be more cynical. Then I realized I was kind of acting like my grandfather. He was a nasty guy...once I lied about breaking a window and he broke my arm.”

“God,” Seraphina said. “I’m sorry Xidorn…”

Xidorn shrugged. “He was a piece of work...but I still loved him. He passed away a couple years after; on his deathbed he didn’t have kind words...that made me realize I didn’t want to be that. I wanted to feel happy about myself, by being honest and being the best person I could be. "

Xidorn sighed. “Life kind of taught me the opposite lesson Seraphina...I have faith life has those things for me. Like corny movies, the stars, food, good friends, good memories and experiences...I have all that, and my grandfather can’t change that.” 

Seraphina wiped away a few tears. “You’re too good for me Xidorn.”

Xidorn laughed. “I’m just a geek in a suspenders. Seraphina...I still really like you. I know that we are different though…”

“We’re really the same too,” Seraphina said. “I want to focus on that. I mean even in the way you're different...I like the differences. I...I want to have faith in us, that we can work. I want to be an might just take awhile.”

“I believe in you,” Xidorn replied.

“That reminds me,” Seraphina stated. “I got you something.”

Seraphina reached into her pocket and pulled out something. She grabbed Xidorn’s hand and put it in his palm; the unicorn pin.

Xidorn laughed. “Oh my god, I love it! It’s so cute!”

“I saw it at the mall,” Seraphina said. “It made me think of you, and not just the blue hair.”

“So what, do you believe in unicorns?” Xidorn joked.

“Yeah...yeah I do,” Seraphina replied. 

“It's time Fizzled Fireworks,” Rhonda announced over the P.A. 

Seraphina groaned. “I have to go...but I hope I’ll see you again.”

Seraphina stood up, as did Xidorn. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close to him. The two kissed for a moment.  

“Naturally the outcome we wanted to avoid transpired,” Ignacio sighed, shoving his hands into his sweatshirt pockets. “No one wants to vote off each other...we’re a family. But the wounds are still open from last night...and I’m once again a swing vote between Ness and Easton. 

“Both sides think the other has a reason, and both Easton and Ness are valuable to the team in their own way. I really like both of them. But I’m not going to risk another tie…”

“Welcome to elimination again Fireworks,” Rhonda announced. “Given how things went last time, I’m a little concerned for you. When I call your name, you will receive a cup of delicious cinnamon mocha coffee...except one of you, who most of your peers have deemed worthy of getting rid of. The first cup goes to...Ignacio.” 


The brunettes shared a look. 


The two caught their coffee cups, and each turned to their friend.

“Once again, Easton and Ness are in the bottom two,” Rhonda stated. “But this time there is no tiebreaker; one of you will be going home. The final coffee cup goes to…

“...Ness. I’m afraid it's over Easton.”

Easton sighed. “It was fun while it lasted.”

“I’m sorry,” Ness replied. “I wish-”

“-Don’t sweat it,” Easton interrupted, bringing in the unlucky girl for a hug. “You did what you had to. Stay strong.”

Ignacio stood up, rubbing the back of his head. “I feel I have to apologize to you too. I admire your intellect and consider you a friend...but I also value Ness. I couldn’t decide.”

Easton smiled. “I’m not going to hold it against you; you were in a tough spot. But I have to ask...why?”

“The truth is…”

In the final episode, Ignacio’s earlier confessional was edited here.  

“But I’m not going to risk another tie. So...let's leave it up to luck.” 

Out of his sweatshirt, the model pulled a quarter. “Heads I vote Ness, tails I vote Easton.”

Flipping the quarter with his thumb, Ignacio held his palm open and let the quarter rest upon it.

“That appeared the only fair way to decide,” Ignacio admitted. 

“That makes sense, that should technically be an equal probability,” Easton replied, hugging the model. “I appreciate being given a fair chance. You’re still a bro in my book.”

Ness stared at her coffee cup. “I was...lucky?” 

Easton fist bumped Lita and Seraphina as he made his way to the Revolving Doors of Shame. He stopped before them, hugging Griswold and Riley. 

“Thanks for being my bros in this game,” Easton stated. “Couldn’t have asked for better.”

“Of course man,” Griswold sniffled. “We’re gonna miss you.” 

“Take it easy brocep,” Riley stated, fist bumping the twin. 

Easton nodded and headed towards the Revolving Doors Of Shame.

“ there anything you want us to tell your brother?”

“No. Nothing at all.” 

Chapter 13 The Maze Of Our Lives

While the Fizzled Fireworks were voting off one of their own, the Molting Eagles were making their way to the closed elevator confessional one by one. To recap, for winning the last challenge the Eagles won a special reward; from a random list they’d choose a teammate’s reward. Behind the buttons on the elevator wall, a secret slot existed, which Rhonda had instructed the Eagles to use to submit their decisions. 

Kalino sat in the confessional, slouched as usual. “This might have been easier if I wasn’t picking for...Cynthia.”

He looked to his left then right despite the elevator’s small size. “I feel like Cynthia could find out the options I had...she might already now. I swear she’s like...magic or something. The problem are my choices; I can give her an, “all expenses paid trip to the local garbage dump...” and start planning my funeral.”

Kalino shuddered. “But my other option is a ‘vote steal’ advantage. Right now, I’d like to be the only one with any deus ex-machina game changer advantages, you dig? Which just leaves a coupon book. Hopefully I can talk to one of the Cynthia whisperers and have them convince her it was the best option.”

Melissa looked over list. “I like the idea of giving each other rewards; it seems sweet...if I wasn’t sure Ms. Rhonda wants to cause drama with it. Hopefully we’ll keep it sweet.”

Melissa tapped her chin. “I have Kalino. I think he’s nice and glad he’s on my team...but he hasn’t always been honest with me in some of the previous votes. I’m willing to move past that, but…”

Melissa sighed and shook her head. “The best option on the list is probably a, “golden immunity flash drive that will be secretly delivered in a chocolate gift basket”. With the merge approaching, it’d ensure Kalino’s safety. Truthfully, I’d love it if the Eagles could keep acting like a team at the merge...but only one of us can win and the guys are really tight. Cynthia is my BFFFL, but I’m not as close with the others as I thought. I feel like I would be the first one they’d vote off when comes down to it. Not to mention I really do like the Fireworks, some have been awfully nice to me...”

The sweetheart sat there for a few moments, before scribbling on the sheet. “I’ll give Kalino a free shopping trip to the mall! I feel horrible not picking the best option, but it's a lot of power. What if he used it at the final six and gets me out instead...if things even turn out like that. I mean, no one would give someone the golden immunity flash drive if there’s no trust, right?”

“Melissa has almost no trust in me,” Vance explained. “So I’m going to give her a golden immunity flash-drive. It’ll be delivered secretly in a chocolate gift basket. I figure I do this, and she’ll trust me again! Not to mention I guess I do feel bad about hurting the little feels like the right thing to do.”

An hour after elimination, the Fizzled Fireworks packed into the dining room. The Molting Eagles were already seated, except for one. 

“Oh dearie my,” Melissa whispered. “They voted off Easton. Is Weston going to be okay Cynthia?”

“He won’t admit he isn’t,” Cynthia said. 

“Speaking of one of my little deputies...where is he?” Vance asked. “Cynthia you didn’t…”

The cowboy gulped as he felt her unblinking eyes looking upon him. “...see him, did you?”

“I don’t know if I can say,” Xidorn stated. “But I may have an idea where he is…”

Rhonda stood in front of the cafeteria line, a smile on her face. “Now that...most of us are here, I’d like to reveal the Eagles’ prizes to everyone. First up, Weston chose to give Vance a Greatest Hits’ album of popular boy band, One Rejection.”

Vance pouted as Rhonda tossed him the album. “Psh, I gave Melissa a way better gift than some crappy boy band.”

“Vance is from way out in the country,” Ness stated. “Naturally he hasn’t had a chance to hear how great One Rejection is! I’m so jealous he got that, it's not even in stores yet! I heard it even has the original recording of “You’re That Girl Who Did That Thing”. Hehe, it's one of my faves.”

“I’m getting to your pick Vance,” Rhonda stated. “Tomorrow morning, courtesy of Vance, Melissa will receive a gift basket of chocolates. What a sweet surprise.”

Melissa gasped as she looked at the cowboy, who winked and tilted his hat. 

“Melissa chose to give Kalino a shopping trip to Tyson’s Corner Center Mall,” Rhonda explained. “He’ll have fifty dollars to spend!”

“Sweeeet!” Kalino exclaimed. “Thanks Melissa, I’ll have to get you a gift for giving me the best prize.”

Melissa forced a laugh. “Haha, of course.”

“Kalino is going to let Cynthia do a little shopping too,” Rhonda said. “He chose to give her a coupon book.”

A hushed silence fell over the room as Kalino gulped and smiled at Cynthia.

“Thanks.” Cynthia replied. “I won’t forget it.”

“Cynthia chose to give Xidorn two free movie tickets to the local theater,” Rhonda stated. 

“Thanks a million Cynthia,” Xidorn stated. “This will be great for a date night between me and Seraphina.”

“Nice to hear you two lovebirds worked it out,” Kalino whispered. 

“It seems like almost everyone enjoyed their rewards,” Rhonda replied. “Remember, you still can’t admit what the other options were. But you all got the best prizes your teammate could choose...right? I mean, some secret advantages were options on a few lists after all…”

All of the newcomers eyes grew wide. The Molting Eagles gave looks at each other. 

“Well, I think that’s everything,” Rhonda stated, turning away. “Goodnight everybody!”

“Wait!” Melissa stated. “What about Weston?”

Rhonda turned around, a grin on her face. “Oh yes...what about Weston? Why isn’t is he? Shed some light for us Xidorn; what did you pick his reward to be?”

“Well the best reward on my sheet,” Xidorn explained, “was, “The chance to earn ten thousand dollars.” Weston is my bud, and a fellow film buff, so I thought he should have it.”

“Heartwarming,” Rhonda said. “So let’s see if Weston can earn that ten thousand dollars…”

A TV screen descended down from the ceiling in front of the newcomers. Rhonda motioned to the cameras, who zoomed in on the screen…


A thud was heard in dark room. Lights shot on, revealing the still scorched stage. Weston dusted a few ashes off himself as he picked himself up. 

“I can’t believe I fell down a trap door...again,” Weston admitted. “That’s the third time today. Hmm...are they ever gonna actually clean this stage or just leave it burnt looking?”

As the other lights dimmed, red and blue lights flashed. Out from stage left, where all the red lights seemed to be stationed, skipped out Jenny. From stage right, where the blue lights shone, was Toby. 

“Welcome Weston,” they greeted in unison. 

“ it time for a challenge already?” Weston asked. 

“No,” Toby replied. “We’re here to give you your reward from today’s challenge, courtesy of Xidorn.”

“Ahh!” Weston exclaimed. “Thanks Xi for...whatever it is.”

“A chance for ten thousand big ones,” Jenny replied. She held her hands behind her back as she swayed on the heels of her shoes.

“So it is a challenge?” Weston asked.

“Oh no,” Jenny giggled. “It's really quite easy.”

A podium appeared next to Jenny, displaying an oversized check. “You can leave with just have to do a little something first.” 

“Sure!” Weston replied. “I’ll do whatever!”

Jenny clapped. “Wonderful. You’ll need this.”

From behind her back, she pulled out a hammer. Next to Toby a cart containing eleven old computer monitors rose from the stage floor. 

“What’s that?” Weston asked. 

“Ooh nothing,” Jenny replied. “You just need to smash that cart of junk, then you can take your money and go.”

Weston looked at the cart, to the check and back and forth for a whole minute. “Why?”

“Why do you care?” Jenny asked. “Just take the money and go silly.”

“They’re old computers I was able to repurpose,” Toby interrupted. “They have video chats hooked up on them.”

“Video chats to who?”

“Friends and family of all your competitors,” Toby said.

The other newcomers gasped. 

“Our families are there?” Ignacio asked. Rhonda nodded, but held a finger to her lip.

Weston scratched his head. “What’s really going on?”

“You prize is a chance at ten thousand dollars,” Jenny explained. “This is your chance. You can take the money and destroy the computers…”

“...or you can let the others talk to their friends and families and destroy the check,” Toby finished.

“Oh my god,” Lita cried out. “You mean my brother might be on there?”

“Your brother is on there,” Rhonda stated. “So are Ignacio’s parents, Kalino’s dad, Melissa’s mom, Riley’s brothers, and so many of your friends and loved ones.”

“How?” Lita asked. “We don’t even own a computer?”

“We arranged it,” Rhonda explained. 

“The show went to everyone’s homes and found their loved ones,” Toby explained. “They’re under the impression they're waiting for the other newcomers to talk to them...but if they don’t answer, it's because they chose not to talk to them.”

“Why the **** would you tell them that?” Riley asked. 

“More drama,” Rhonda replied, with a little laugh. 

“You’re heartless,” Griswold said. 

Melissa shook her head as everyone else glared at the hostess. 

“So all our loved ones are expecting us?” Weston asked.

“No,” Jenny replied. “You don’t have a computer. If you choose that prize, you leave with nothing.”

“How’s that fair?” Weston asked.

“Its not,” Toby replied. “So, what do you choose?”

“Oh Weston,” Lita cried. “Is it bad I want him to pick us.”

“I don’t know,” Ignacio admitted. “But I want him to…”

“I don’t know,” Weston admitted. “I have to think about this…”

“What’s there to think about?” Jenny asked. “It's ten thousand dollars! Why wouldn’t you pick it?”

“But the others…”

“The others?” Jenny asked. “What about the others? Most of them would have picked the money.”

“No they wouldn’t have...would they?” Weston asked. 

“I guarantee it,” Jenny stated. “I mean, what do you owe them anyway?”

“True,” Toby replied. “It's not like Xidorn chose this reward for you.”

“Yeah, your reward,” Jenny said. “The rest of the Eagles got rewards, what about you?”

Weston pouted. “Well…”

“Do you want to give it to the Fireworks?” Jenny asked. “To Easton and the friends he replaced you with?”

“Easton isn’t even here,” Griswold pointed out.

“Weston doesn’t know that,” Rhonda replied.

“Does he even know we can see this?” Kalino asked.

“He has no idea.”

“You really want Easton to talk to your folks,” Jenny continued. “Let them visit their favorite son.”

“Of course I don’t want Easton to have it!” Weston shouted.

“Even if your brother misses your family?” Toby asked.

“They’ll all see their loved ones again,” Jenny replied.

“You’re right, they’ve just been away from home for over a month,” Toby said. “They probably won’t see their loved ones for even longer. You’ve got the once chance they have.”

“It's not like they’ll know you didn’t give it to them Weston,” Jenny explained. “You don’t have to explain how you won the money, you can make up something.”

“Yeah, lie to your friends and girlfriend,” Toby said. “That sounds like it won’t backfire.”

“Think about what this money could buy,” Jenny said. “I mean, right now you have a one-in-twelve shot of winning. If you lose, you get nothing. At least you can still get the money.”

“Is ten thousand a lot?” Weston asked. 

“I don’t think so,” Toby replied. “It’ll be easy to burn through.”

“Maybe,” Jenny said. “Maybe not. I mean it could at least help out your family, or even in college. Which college are you going to?”

“I...I have no idea,” Weston admitted. “I don’t even know what I want to do at college…”

“Well with that money you can go to plenty of colleges,” Jenny replied. “I mean, Easton has money going to college. Why not show you can earn some too?”

Weston stepped forward.

“You know if it was someone what you would want them to pick,” Toby stated. 

“Do you really want to remembered as the guy who gave this up?” Jenny asked. “The Internet will be calling you an idiot for ages if you do this.”

“You know what the right option is,” Toby said. “You know what you want to pick.”

“Yes, you do,” Jenny agreed. 

Weston sighed and went over to the check. 

Jenny flashed a grin at her sidekick as Weston lifted up the check. The grin quickly fell as the younger twin tore the check in half. 

“I don’t know if I made the right choice,” Weston admitted. “But I’m sticking by it.”

Jenny sulked off. For a second, Toby half-smiled, but returned to his usual expression as he pushed the cart to Weston. 

“Now what?” Weston asked.

“You go up,” Toby replied.

Weston raised an eyebrow as a platform shot up from under him. The ceiling opened up, taking the twin and cart all the way into the dining room. 



The newcomers cheered as the raced to Weston, many pulling the confused kid in for a hug or thanking him while crying. 

“What’s going on?” Weston asked.

“We saw the whole thing,” Xidorn stated. “You made the right choice!”

“I don’t know how to thank you,” Lita cried.

“Haha, it isn’t a big deal...wait, where’s Easton?”

“He...was voted off tonight,” Ness said. “I’m so sorry he’s not here Weston.”

“He’d be totally proud of you Bromer Simpson,” Riley said. 

Weston looked away. “I don’t even really care.”

“I’m afraid we don’t have anything for you Weston,” Rhonda said. “You can stay if you want…”

“Weston can have my call,” Kalino suggested. 

“You don’t have to do that,” Weston said. 

“I really don’t mind man,” Kalino replied. 

“I’m afraid it's not allowed,” Rhonda replied. “Weston doesn’t get a call; that was the deal. Now for privacy’s sake, you’ll do your calls one on one in the confessional. Oh, and don’t think of asking for spoilers. If you try, kiss this all goodbye. So who's first?”

Vance gulped as he opened the laptop. A trio of girls in cowboys hats appeared on the screen, sitting inside what looks like a stadium. Vance sighed in relief. 

“Ooooh Vance,” the girls swooned. 

Vance smirked and tipped his cowboy hat. “Ladies. How are you?”

“We’ve missed you Vance,” a blonde girl said. “The rodeo just hasn’t been the same without you.” 

Vance blew his knuckles. “I’d imagine; not as daring or sexy without me.” 

The girls nodded. 

“What’s it like there?” a brunette girl asked. “I bet the girls there are really pretty? You’ve probably forgot all about us.” 

“You know I couldn’t forget about you Jenna,” Vance stated. 

“Umm…it's Rachel,” the girl replied. 

Riley opened her laptop. She was greeted by a chorus of, “Brah!” 

On the screen were eight men with similar features to Riley, all older than her ranging from in their thirties to mid twenties. A few of the older men were dressed more normal and casual, in white beaters and sweats, but many had a fashion sense just as ‘stylish’ as Riley. Only one stood out, dressed more professionally. 

“Bros!” Riley cheered, wiping a tear. 

“Aww you miss us Ry.”

Riley laughed. “Shut up! You know I do! And to see you all's rare these days. You know, with life going on and stuff. I hate I’m missing out.”

“It’s all cause of you Riley,” the eldest said. “To support our little sis, who's kicking butt out there! How is it?”

“Are you having fun?”

“You making a lot of friends?”

“Is the food good?”

“Have you gone skating in Washington?”

“You told any girls we’re single?”

“Seriously, what is the deal with the food?”

Riley laughed and shook her head. “You guys! One at a time...”

Cynthia opened her laptop. Her video showed an walking down the streets of what seemed like a small town. 

Caww! Caww!

A harsh screeching echoed in the background, the call of a crow. It seemed on every roof, tree branch, and power line sat a murder of crows, who stared directly at the computer’s camera lens. 

A blond teen and a redheaded girl walked down the street, looking at each other with loving eyes. 

“Hey,” the teen shouted, running towards the teens. “Total Drama here; anything you want to say to your classmate Cynthia?” 

The two teens’ eyes widened, the boy focused on in the screen. “Uhh…hey Cynthia, hope you win, heh, heh. I’d stay to talk longer but um…I have to…”

A crunching noise and a scream was heard. “I have to talk my girlfriend to the hospital! Yeah, she just fell in front of car. Crazy right? Bye!” 

The blond ran off, picking up the redhead from the windshield of car. The driver saw Cynthia, immediately started backing up their car, and drove off into an alleyway.

The intern turned and focused on a girl with short black hair exiting a store. “Hey you, thoughts you’d like to share with Cynthia? We’re live with her right now!”

The girl gulped but forced a smile. “Oh yeah, I’ve been watching. Cynthia’s done so well. I was kind of surprised to see her friendship with Melissa and her dating Weston…but I think it's super cute. I totally ship it Cynthia haha.”

The girl smiled at the camera. Cynthia stared at the screen.

The girl stood there awkwardly, her smile fading and her eyes shifting back and forth, before bursting into tears and running away…only screaming, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry…” 

“What is wrong with this place?” the intern asked. As if in response, a crow attacked the intern. The man screamed as crow screeching intensified. The feed cut off. 

Cynthia stood up and walked away. “That was more fun than I thought it would be.” 

Ignacio took a deep breath before opening the screen. On the screen were an older Hispanic couple at a small table. Their faces lit up as they saw Ignacio. 

"¡Mamá! ¡Papá!"


"¿Cómo estás mi hijo?"

"Estoy bien, estoy teniendo un mejor momento de lo que pensaba."

"Estamos muy orgullosos de ti Ignacio! La mayoría de los padres desean que puedan ser tan buenos como los niños como tú.”

"Y la mayoría de los niños no se dan cuenta de que podrían tener padres tan amables como tú".

Ignacio wiped away tears.

"Entonces ... ¿Conoces a alguna linda niña Ignacio?"


Xidorn opened his computer. A purple haired Vietnamese preteen girl smiled and waved. 

“Cousin Vy!” Xidorn cheered. “Did you...did you dye your hair?”

“You like it?” Vy asked. 

Xidorn laughed. “I love it! I just can’t believe Aunt Rose and Uncle Van let you...they let you, didn’t they?”

“Yes, they did,” Vy giggled. “It's in honor of you! You and how awesome you are on the show!”

“Really?” Xidorn asked. “Your family is watching?”

“All of our family is,” Vy said. “And thinks you’re doing great! Your family is too; you’re mom, sister and your dad! They’re all really proud of you!”

“My dad is watching?” Xidorn asked. “They are?”

Vy nodded excitedly. “We all are! Team Xidorn all the way!”

Griswold opened his laptop. A locker room appeared on the screen, where football players walk around with towels around their waists. They notice the camera is on and cheer. 


“Grizzlywold in the house!”

“Woop! Woop!”

“Go Bulldogs!”

Griswold chuckled. “Guys! It looks like the whole team is here! What are you doing?”

“Just some summer practice rounds,” one of Gris’ teammates replied. “Coach is ticked you’re gone...but still rooting for you!”

“You’re taking good care of the lucky jockstrap aren’t you?”

“Of course,” Griswold replied. “We need it at our opening game. It's done me pretty good so far.”

“We’ve seen,” another teammate said. “You’ve been having some success with the ladies.”

A chorus of chuckles and cheers erupted from the locker room. 

Griswold turned redder than his varsity jacket. “Me and Lita aren’t a thing…”

“What about that hot skater chick?” one of his teammates asked. 

“Riley?” Griswold asked. “I mean she’s the most awesome person ever...but I never thought about dating her…”

“Well you should! Half of the school ships you with her.”

“Yeah, and who does the other half of the school ship me with?” Griswold asked. 


Melissa jumped in place as she opened her laptop; on the screen sat an older woman who looked like Melissa, wearing a hijab. 


“Mother! I’ve missed you so much!”

“I’ve missed you too dear,” the woman replied. “It's strange; I know you’re still in the same city, yet I haven’t seen you in over a month. Are you well?”

“I’m good,” Melissa replied. “Better now that I’m talking to you.”

“It looks like you’ve been very brave,” Melissa’s mother said. “I didn’t think you could do a show like this to be honest...I’m happy to be wrong. You also got your first boyfriend…”

Melissa blushed and chuckled. “Hehe, yeah. Aiden’s a sweetie. You’ll love him.”

“Ooh I already do,” Melissa’s mother replied. “Your father though…”

Ness opened her laptop and frowned. At a mall somewhere, a large crowd of teenagers were waiting for the message. 

“Is that everyone from school?” Ness asked. “I thought this was my loved ones visit?”

“Oh my god,” a girl laughed. “Look everyone! Its Ness the mess!”

The crowd roared in cheers and laughter. 

“Total Drama came to town and said they wanted someone to talk to you,” a boy explained. “We decided we wanted to tell you how amazing we all thought you were on the show.”

Ness raised an eyebrow. “”

“Oh 'totally'," a girl replied. “We had no idea you could be that pathetic for millions of people to see!”

The teens laughed. “I mean we thought you were a mess at school, but you really proved it on Total Drama!”

“I can’t believe you made it past first boot...but god am I glad you did haha!”

“I’ve been making a compilation of all your fails so far,” another voice said. “Its too many videos.”

“I’m not doing that bad,” Ness sighed. “I...I almost at the merge.” 

“If your team doesn’t wise up and eliminate you, once they stop feeling sorry for you.”

“Ooh by the way Ness,” a boy said. “How are you and your boyfriend Pascal doing?”

The crowd made kissing noises. 

“You know what...who cares what any of you losers think!”

The crowd went silence. 

“Why should I?” Ness asked. “You all applied to Total Drama and none of them wanted you! You’re all just a bunch of insecure creeps who can’t think for themselves! I’ve worked hard to get here, and you can’t take that away. So choke on that!”

Ness slammed the laptop closed. She took deep breaths. “Wow...I’ve never raised my voice that much. ...I kinda liked it.”

Kalino opened up his laptop. The screen showed a desk in a lawyer’s office. Sitting at the desk was a man of Pacific Island descent, black hair cut short and slicked back, talking on the phone. 

“Yes, yes I know! But I gave a deadline, and I want it met by that deadline!”

Kalino shook his head, coughing. 

The lawyer turned to the screen. “I’ll have to call you back… hello Kalino.”

“Yo Daddy-O,” Kalino replied. “Is this a bad time, I can call back.”

“Nonsense, this is your only call,” Kalino’s father replied.

Kalino frowned. “Oh...darn.”

“It's good to see you son,” Kalino’s father replied. “I really wanted to talk to you.”

“You did?” Kalino asked. “Uh..well, thanks dad...”

“My secretary has been keeping me updated on how you’re doing on the show,” Kalino’s father continued. “So has your sister Iolana. We agree that it might be best for you to...leave the show.”


“My firm can settle the legal matters and have you out in days,” Kalino’s father continued. “I mean you’re not going to win, so why don’t we have you do something more productive, right?”

“You know, the others have talked to their loved ones,” Kalino stated. “Telling them how much they miss them, how proud they are...and I get to talk to you. No, ‘how are you?’ No, ‘I miss you’...”

“Son, please I didn’t-”

“- Weston didn’t get to talk to anyone,” Kalino continued. “I tried to give him my call, but Rhonda wouldn’t let me. He doesn’t get to speak to his loved ones, but I get to hear how disappointed you are. Yippee for me.” 

Kalino closed the laptop. “Not today old man. I’m not going through this today.”

Seraphina stood outside the confessional, laptop in hand, Ness beside her. Lita rushed out of the confessional, crying heavily. Seraphina and Ness pulled her in for a hug. 

“You talk to your brother?” Ness asked. 

Lita nodded. “We...we don’t own a TV, but he said he knew I was kicking butt. It was just great to see him.”

Lita grabbed Seraphina’s shawl and blew her nose in it. “Oh...sorry Seraphina.”

Seraphina giggled. “I can wash it. I’m glad you got to talk to him.”

“It's your turn now,” Lita sighed. 

“Do I have too?” Seraphina asked. 

“Rhonda said it was your school that wanted to talk to you,” Lita replied. 

“My school doesn’t even know I exist,” Seraphina replied. “I don’t even show up enough. I mean, what if Rhonda’s setting me up like poor Ness…”

“Like I said, my message was nothing,” Ness replied. “You could handle them for sure.”

“Rhonda better watch herself,” Lita stated. “If she thinks she can pull that crap on y’all, and keep up her nasty tricks, karma will get her. And in this case, karma might be my fist in her face.” 

Seraphina sighed. “Alright, here goes nothing…”

Seraphina opened her laptop; the screen showed a couch in a dimly lit living room. An older woman sat there, dressed in cheap jewelry and with sharp features. 

“Crap, you’re here,” Seraphina groaned. “I knew that school thing couldn’t be true…”

“Is that any way to greet your mother,” the woman replied. “I raised you better than that...or at least I tried, all by myself with no help. A thankless job with a thankless daughter…”

“The guilt trip is not going to work this time,” Seraphina replied. “Is that why you decided to speak to me?”

“Can’t a mother just want to visit with her daughter?”

“That’s not what you want, is it?” Seraphina asked. 

“Sounds like you're still seeing the future, good…”

Seraphina rolled her eyes. “I knew it! What do you actually want?”

“I’m here to tell you to come home.”

“What?” Seraphina asked. 

“I’m telling you to leave that show and get back here.”

“Why would I do that?” Seraphina asked. 

“Since you’ve been on this show I’ve been getting tons of calls,” Seraphina’s mom replied. “People want you to do give them readings, talk to their relatives...I’ve got at least a two months booked for you. Don’t you get it, you don’t need this show anymore! We can make millions all on our own!”

Seraphina gritted her teeth. “For the last time, I don’t do readings anymore! I’m not here to advertise, and I’m not going to exploit people.” 

“I didn’t ask for your opinion,” her mother replied. “I’m the one in charge, not you. Can’t you think of others for once me! We need the money!”

“Maybe you could try getting a real job,” Seraphina said. “You could try to stop profiting off me!”

“I knew you’d let me down Seraphina,” her mother replied. “You always did, and now you have the chance to make up for...and you still want to hurt your poor mother.” 

Seraphina glared. “I’m sorry...what was that? I, I, I can’t hear you...I think I’m going through a tunnel…”

“I can see you! This isn’t a ph-”

Seraphina slammed the laptop closed. 

She sighed and stepped out of the confessional to see Lita and Ness waiting.

“That bad sweetie?” Lita asked. 

“It was my mother,” Seraphina groaned.

“That bad,” Ness said. 

“She is the worst kind of person,” Seraphina stated. 

“What did she want?” Lita asked. 

“For me to leave,” Seraphina explained. “So she can charge for readings...these psychic powers are nothing but trouble…”

“That’s not true,” Lita replied. “They’re a part of you sweetie.”

“A sad, twisted part,” Seraphina replied. 

“Come on,” Ness said. “I think we all need some rest. Then we can get ice cream for breakfast tomorrow.”

Seraphina smiled. “Sounds like a plan.”

In the early hours of the morning, as Rhonda stated, Melissa received her chocolate basket at her door. Peeping out to make sure no one was watching, the sweetheart grabbed it and snuck off to the confessional. 

Melissa rummaged through the basket, filled with chocolate treats, from white chocolate hearts to milk chocolate cups. From the center she pulled out a chocolate woodchuck sculpture. She raised an eyebrow as she bit into its head, before spitting out a piece of gold paper. 

“Congratulations Melissa,” she read, “you are the recipient of a golden immunity flash drive, hidden inside this woodchuck head. This flash drive can used be in the voting booth before votes to secretly nullify any votes at any ceremony, unless exceptions are noted.”

Tearing off the chocolate woodchuck head, she dropped the flash drive on her lap. “Hmm...well, Vance knows I have this obviously, but I don’t know if anyone had a similar option on their list like I did...still, I need to find a chance to talk to Vance alone and thank him for this flash drive.”

She bit into the chocolate woodchuck’s neck. “And this delicious chocolate! Ooh nugget!”

The day went on as normal, with the newcomers enjoying their leisure with no challenge. The next day was different however. In the mid-morning Rhonda announced that there would be a challenge today. When questioned again why the challenges weren’t scheduled every three days, Rhonda replied there was surprise in store for them, but it would be for another time.

She lead the teams to the cafeteria, to have breakfast before they started. 

“I decided to make a pancake breakfast for you all,” Rhonda stated. “Something special for the extra special challenge we have, and the extra special reward the winners receive. So please enjoy, but not too many…”

The Fizzled Fireworks began feasting at their table. 

“You dudes think Rhonda’s words confirmed we’re having a gross food eating challenge today?” Riley asked. “You know, ‘but not too many’ or whatever.”

“Maybe,” Griswold replied. “But it won’t be the main one I think, since we did one earlier. I want to know what the reward is...and why she keeps scheduling them. With how much she worries about production you think she wouldn’t have this issue...unless something’s changed…”

“I want to know what Rhonda’s deal is,” Ignacio said. 

“You still going on about how she got to host this show?” Griswold asked. “It was probably just cheap labor.”

“Maybe,” Ignacio replied, not at all convinced. 

“I’m curious when that marge is,” Lita stayed, stuffing away pancakes. 

“You mean the merge?” Seraphina asked. 

“Yeah,” Lita replied. “That…”

“I’m worrying about that too,” Ness admitted. 

“May I inquire what’s stressing you about it Ness?” Ignacio asked. 

Ness sighed. “The teams are even now, but whichever team goes into the merge with more players will likely…”

“...pick the others off,” Riley finished. 

“So if we lose the next few challenges, like we have,” Seraphina said. “We’ve basically lost.”

The Fireworks were silent for a moment.

“We’ll just have to win all the remaining challenges,” Seraphina said. “I mean, if anyone can do it, it is us right?” 

Griswold smiled. “Exactly Seraphina! We’re going to kill it today!”

Ness snapped her fingers. "We should have some kind of cheer or something. You know, for our team!"

"That's an awesome idea Ness," Griswold replied. "Any ideas?"

Ness blushed. "I don't know... maybe something like, it ain't going to work unless its the Fizzled Fireworks?"

The other Fireworks shrugged. "We'll workshop that."

“How many challenges do you think till the merge?” Seraphina asked. 

“The original merged around ten,” Ness recalled. “So maybe two?”

“You’re wearing your lucky jockstrap right Gris?” Seraphina teased. 

Griswold winked. “Of course.”

“Then we can’t lose,” Seraphina chuckled. 

“Lucky jock strap?” Ignacio whispered to Ness, who shrugged. 

Riley yawned. “I just hope I stay awake for it.”

“Same,” Serphina sighed. “Suddenly I’m so sle-”

“Ugh my head…”

Seraphina groaned as regained consciousness. Standing up, she frowned as she looked around; the ceilings matched those of the underground torture chambers, yet walls were erected around her. The walls were made from random materials; melded scrap metal, taped plastic, cardboard and other trash. 

“Wakey wakey everyone! It's time for your challenge…”

Slowly the other newcomers came to, finding themselves separated and surrounded by walls. 

Riley scratched her head, kicking sand dunes that were over the ground. “I take it we’re not at the beach…bummer.”

“Sorry for the nap everybody,” Rhonda announced over the P.A., “but it was necessary.” 

“Was it?” Xidorn asked, likewise surrounded by sand dunes. “Really? Hmm...I’m guessing this is Toby’s work.”

“As you can see,” Rhonda said, “We’ve converted the torture chamber into...The Amazing Maze! Today’s challenge is simple, the first team to leave the maze wins.”

Kalino strolled along through a forest of tall trees. “So we just have to leaf this place as fast as we can haha…”

“I’m sure you’re wondering why we call it the Amazing Maze,” Rhonda said.

“Not really,” Seraphina replied. 

“I’ll show you,” Rhonda replied. In her secret office, Rhonda pressed a button. The maze began to shake as the newcomers tried to get steady. The walls moved and turned, Seraphina almost falling over as they blocked off her path. Kalino gasped as the trees sank into the ground. 

Riley struggled to stand as the sand seem to sift through the ground; the floor panels shifted and we’re suddenly ice. The bro slipped and facepalmed the ground. 

"With Toby’s tech and the trap doors of this hotel, we’re able to change your surroundings drastically,” Rhonda announced. “If you’re curious how...just don’t ask. Seriously, don’t poke holes in this maze…”

Somewhere in the maze a swimming pool was shown, where a key dangled from a buoy. 

“To leave the maze you’ll need to find a key,” Rhonda said. “A single key is hidden in each section of the maze, you’ll have to find and retrieve it before the area changes and the key is hidden again. You might have to overcome an obstacle…”

A shark fin rose above the water, circling the buoy.

“...Or complete a task that will reward you the key…”

The maze shifted again; the swimming pool became covered as two tables appeared in its place. Sitting on the tables were bags of puzzle pieces. A key dangled in birdcage that was tied to both tables. 

“Once you have a key, you’ll have to find a gate corresponding to your team.”

A red gate was shown, bearing the emblem of the Fizzled Fireworks. A comically oversized and rusty lock was on it. 

“But you’ll have to find it first. Every time a key is used, and every thirty minutes, the maze will shift and change the location of everything!”

“Oh, that’s all,” Seraphina sighed. 

“But that’s not all…”

The psychic facepalmed. 

“For this challenge we really want to see how strong your teams are. So this challenge will test how much you contribute individually to your team, and how well you work together. This maze has three stages. The first stage is on your own. In the second stage, you’ll meet and work with a teammate to secure a key. So if you’re taking your sweet time, you’ll be holding back your team.”

Ness gulped as she listened, peering over the edge of a big pit in front of her.

“The third and final stage will require all six of your team members be present,” Rhonda continued. “Together you’ll lower a drawbridge and reach the finish line. Oh...and one more thing...there’s only one key at a time in each of your area’s...but a member from the opposing team is in the same section of maze as you are. So you’ll have to beat them to the key.”

“That explains this,” Griswold stated, tapping a blue Molting Eagles gate in front of him. 

Rhonda cleared her throat. “TL;DR: The maze moves, find a key before the other team, find the gate, work with a fellow team member to do it again, meet your whole team and cross the finish line together.”

“Is that all?” Seraphina asked. 

“And one last thing,” Rhonda continued. 

Seraphina shook her head. “Rhonda can never keep it short.”

“Like I said, the winners of today’s challenge will receive an extra special reward!” Rhonda announced. “With that, let the challenge begin!”

Griswold jogged through the maze, his eyes scanning every corner. “We gotta win this challenge...I can’t let my team down...not after they made me leader.”

Griswold halted to stop as he turned the corner. In front of him was a waiter holding out a silver tray. “Bonjour Monsieur Griswold.”

“Sup waiter dude,” Griswold replied. “I’m guessing you got a key.”

The waiter lifted the silver tray, revealing a bowl of guts, flies swarming around them. “I will give you a key, if you eat an entire bowl of eel guts.”

“Looks like Rye was right about gross food eating,” Griswold chuckled. He lifted the whole bowl and dumped it down his throat, swallowing the eel guts whole.

“After that soup Lita made last challenge,” Griswold explained, “eel guts sounded like a delicacy.”

The waiter bowed, closing the tray and revealing a key from his sleeve, which was immediately snatched...but not by Griswold.

“Thanks for the help Gris-man,” Kalino shouted, running away. “I appreciate it.” 

“That wasn’t the smartest idea in hindsight,” Kalino admitted.


Kalino looked up as Griswold jumped on top of the slacker, tackling from the ground. He pulled back his wrist and grabbed the key. “You want a key? You have to earn it.”

“Can’t blame a dude for trying right?” Kalino asked. 

Griswold picked up Kalino by shirt collar and began spinning in circles, before high tossing into a corner. The jock smiled a little, placing the key in his pompadour, and jogging off. 

“If I have any power in deciding,” Griswold explained, “the first person I want to vote off at the merge is Kalino! I guess the rules allow him to play dirty...but something about that guy just rubs me the wrong way. He’s not to be trusted, and I’ll make sure everyone knows that…”

Over in a different section of the maze, Riley was skating on the ice floors. She gasped, dropping to the floor; a key was frozen in the water below her.

“Found you little key dude,” Riley laughed. “Now I just have to figure out how to get you out of the ice and-”

Suddenly the maze began to shift again. Riley jumped up as the floor began to sink...only to run straight into a tree. More trees began to rise from the ground as the ice floor disappeared. 

“Of course,” Riley sighed. 

In another part of the maze, Vance was struggling. A sour looking intern spun three coconut halves or shells in place on a table before the cowboy. Vance groomed his mustache in thought, before selecting a coconut shell.

The intern flipped up the shell, revealing nothing. She flipped the one on the end, revealing the key. 

“You’re lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut!” Vance yelled. 

The intern began spinning the shells again. “For the last time, I’m not cheating. I don’t get paid enough to try that.”

“Then why do I keep losing?” the cowboy asked.

“Do you ever think it could be you?” the intern asked. “Or you know...think?”

“Its modern times,” Vance stated. “We have computers for thinkin’. I’m a man of action.”

“Have it your way,” the intern replied. “Pick a shell.”

Vance twirled the end of his mustache, moving his finger back and forth over the shells.

“Eenie menie minie moe?”

“Shush! That one, the middle one.”

The intern sighed and lifted the shell. There was no key.

“Errrrr!” Vance growled, biting the top of his hat.

“What do you plan to do now, man of action?” the intern asked. “Huh? Huh? Hu-”

Vance punched the intern in the face. He flipped the table and grabbed the key off the ground.

Vance tipped his hat. “Pleasure doing business with you.”

Meanwhile, Riley had found a key, hanging from the highest branch of the tallest and widest tree in the sudden forest. She had climbed up towards the top and reached for the key...only to touch hands with someone else.

“Xidorn?” Riley asked. 

“Riley?” Xidorn returned. 

“Small world man,” Riley laughed. “I hate to be a bother, but would you mind letting go of the key? I already got to it.”

“Actually I believe I got here first,” Xidorn replied. “Not to be rude, but could you please let go of the key.”

The two stared at each other for a moment, before pulling at the key. 

“Just because you’re always honest, doesn’t mean you’re always right,” Riley stated. 

“I agree,” Xidorn said. “But I am right here! I’m not letting you go with the key. So go skate somewhere else and find another one.” 

Suddenly, the tree started shaking, before starting to retreat back into the ground. Xidorn’s eyes grew wide as Riley gulped, but the two shared a look and refused to move. Tugging at the key again, they pulled, until they fell back. The tree descended back into the ground, the key flying into the air before falling back into the ground. The two teens landed on top of each other.

“Temporary truce,” Xidorn moaned. 

“Sounds groovy,” Riley groaned. “Let’s go our separate ways.” 

A montage played in the final episode, dealing some of the others finding keys. Ness shot her’s down from a series of balloons, while Lita wrestled a gator for her key.

Seraphina pickpocketed Vance' from some bushes, while the cowboy was too distracted screaming and running. Cynthia found her key hanging from a bat’s cave. Ignacio managed to solve a puzzle to be rewarded with a key, while Weston found his digging from sand dunes.

The montage ended with Melissa bobbing her key out out a water bucket. 

Now, the sweetheart sat outside of a blue gate, yawning. She sprung to her feet as she heard panting. Vance ran up to the gate, unlocking it. 

“Ooh dear,” Melissa gasped. “Your face is all scratched up, what happened?”

“Get back here!”

The intern from earlier, now sporting a black eye hissed as she ran towards the cowboy. She tried to claw at him from outside the gate. 

“She’s meaner than a wet panther,” Vance whispered. 

“You southern sack of-”

Melissa grabbed Vance by the arm and pulled him away. “I think we’ll just take our leave and uh...let you cool down. Have a nice day!” 

Vance sighed in relief. “Sorry I took so long, that banshee was stalking me for...some reason. You know I hate to keep a lady waiting.”

Suddenly, the maze shook and shifted again; haystacks appeared in front of the teens. 

Melissa clapped. “One of the keys must be in these stacks! This is wondrous! I mean, you told us all how you found needles in haystacks all the time on your ranch.”

“That sure is thing that I remember saying because it's true,” Vance replied.

The two teens hopped into a haystack and began sifting through the straw.

“Hey Vance,” Melissa said. “I...I never got the chance to thank you for my reward.”

“Ooh yeah,” Vance laughed. “Your ‘chocolates’, right?”

“I have to ask...why? Why give me the flash drive? I upset with you and the other Eagles for keeping me in the dark. It's very risky.”

Vance blushed. “Well, you didn’t trust now you have a reason to. Trust me at least. I’m not planning on voting you out, and if you’re worried I am you can use that to save yourself. I’m putting my trust in you that you won’t use it against me.” 

“Wow Vance,” Melissa gasped. “That’s really sweet. You’re a very generous man, you know that?”

“I’ve been told that several times,” Vance admitted. “Its one of my best features, like my amazing abs or my humbleness.”

“I super duper, extra pinky promise I won’t use it against you,” Melissa replied. “But I would like it if we kept it a secret from the other Eagles for now.”

“No problem,” Vance replied. “Trust me, I don’t think the other Eagles will be targeting you. Kalino said we’d pick off the Fireworks first.”

Melissa paused and raised an eyebrow. “Kalino said that?”

“Oh yeah,” Vance replied. “He usually knows what’s best, where the votes should go.”

“Well hopefully he’ll let me know the next vote…”

“Has Kalino been deciding the votes all this time?” Melissa asked. “I mean he and Hayden had that fight before the challenge...then Hayden went home. He was the one who told us Frannie was homesick...did he send home Aiden too? I think I need to keep an eye on Kalino... I mean if that’s okay with him.”

“I do have one thing to ask of you Melissa,” Vance stated. 

“Don’t worry Vance,” Melissa replied, “if you’re in trouble I’ll use the immunity flashdrive for you!”

“Oh,” Vance said. “I was just going to ask if you’d share some of that chocolate with me.”

Melissa giggled. “After we win this challenge, I’ll bake you make my signature triple chocolate chimp cake!”

“Sweet doggies!” Vance cheered. “Uh, is it made with real chimps?”

In another section of the maze, Ignacio and Griswold weere searching under rocks for another key. 

“Nothing under here,” Griswold announced, flipping another large stone.

“Likewise,” Ignacio replied. “Hey Griswold...can I ask you something?”

“Shoot,” Griswold replied, throwing a boulder away.

Ignacio blushed. “I’m a bit embarrassed, but since the two of us are here alone…”

“Oh my god, Grisnacio is happening,” Griswold whispered. 

Ignacio raised an eyebrow. “What did you say?”

“Uhh...I said you can talk to me dude. This rock quarry…”

The maze shifted, the rocks disappeared, and the floor became an icy lake. 

“...this frozen lake is a judgement free zone,” Griswold replied. 

“ do you know when you like someone?” Ignacio asked.

Griswold raised an eyebrow. “Is there somebody you’re crushing on Iggy?”

Ignacio blushed. “Uhh...there might be a girl, but I don’t know.”

“So Ignacio wasn’t attracted to me,” Griswold replied. “I’m kind of relieved I don’t have to reject him...but kind of disappointed he wasn’t into that weird?”

“What don’t you know?” Griswold asked. 

“I mean I’ve liked a girl before,” Ignacio admitted. “I still have lingering feelings for my ex-girlfriend Carla ...even if she falsely accused me of a busy the top of her lungs. But that’s what's confusing about how I feel now. I’m trying to be more honest with my feelings and attractions...but I’m not sure.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’m the right guy to help you,” Griswold admitted. “Me and Lita didn’t exactly pan out, and she’s been the only girl I’ve dated.”

“I’m still not sure I comprehend why you two split,” Ignacio admitted. 

“We were into each other, but discovered there wasn’t more than that,” Griswold explained. “That’s all. You should ask Riley, she’s great with relationship stuff.”

Ignacio blushed. “I was embarrassed to ask Riley actually…”

Griswold gasped. “Oh my gosh, you like Riley? Well, sly dog Ignacio. I had no idea!”

“No, no, no,” Ignacio replied. “I mean Riley is hot, I mean not like that, I mean she is...what I actually mean is that Riley’s nice, I just know she’ll tease me about it. I’d rather not say the girl I’m confused about…I mean she might not even be on the show.”

Griswold raised an eyebrow. “Uh, if you say so. But don’t worry, I won’t say anything. You figure out you Iggy.”

“What about you Gris?” Ignacio asked. “Anyone you’re interested in?”

“After Lita and I, I’m taking a long break from dating,” Griswold replied. “Not to mention I can’t even talk to girls. I just wish there was one I was comfortable to talk with. But who would that be?”


Seraphina called out as she flagged down the bro, looking around the maze. 

“Nice to see you Seraphina Silverman,” Riley replied as the psychic ran over. “And not too soon either, I found where the key is!”

“Then lead the way,” Seraphina cheered. 

The two raced down a corridor. 

“What do your psychic powers say about our chances at the merge?” Riley asked. 

“I haven’t bothered to try and use them,” Seraphina replied. 

“Aww, why not?” Riley asked. “I think your psychic powers are cool.”

“That makes one of us,” Seraphina sighed. 

Riley stopped. “Alright, tell me what’s going on.”


“I wasn’t born yesterday,” Riley interrupted. “I was born seventeen years and some days ago. Now, what’s wrong?”

Seraphina sighed. “I video chatted with my mother yesterday. A real nice comparison to Medusa. I only wanted to use my powers to help people, but I couldn’t control them, and she just wants to use them for profit. Being here supported by Ness, Lita, Xidorn, everyone else...I almost felt…”

“Yeah?” Riley asked.

“I almost felt glad to have them again,” Seraphina admitted. “Then I talk to her.”

“Seraphina its obvious you still enjoy being a psychic,” Riley replied. “I mean, you still carry tarot cards with you!”

“Not all the time,” Seraphina replied. 

“Are you carrying them now?” Riley asked. 

Seraphina blushed. “Okay, your point was made.”

“The way I see it,” Riley continued, “deep down you want to be a psychic, and your powers are part of you. So forget your mom! Forgot those people who call you fake or reject you for having freaky awesome powers! They don’t matter; what you want matters. You have a gift, and I think you should totally open yourself up to them.” 

“Wow,” Seraphina said. “That helps a lot Riley. You have the gift of saying the right thing.”

Riley pulled Seraphina into a hug. “I try. Now let’s go win this thing. The key should-”

The ground started to shake as the maze shifted again. A wall appeared before the two Fireworks, blocking their way. 


Seraphina sighed, and sat down on the ground. Assuming a lotus like position, she mumbled words under her breath and closed her eyes. 

“Uh Seraphina Silvermann-”

“I see the key,” Seraphina stated. “Its two lefts and right.”

“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Riley cheered. “Let’s go!”

“Wait, it's tied to a buoy in a pool and guarded by a shark.”

Seraphina opened her eyes. “We need a plan.”

Seraphina looked down to realize Riley was carrying you her on her shoulders. “The plan is I’ll get the key from the shark. I’ve been wanting to use my wrestling moves since the first challenge!”

Riley dropped Seraphina off her shoulders as she cannonballed into the pool. She surfaced...right next to a smiling shark.

“S’up Jabberjaw,” Riley greeted. “ that hot mermaid’s shell bra falling off because it's a horribly impractical design?”

The shark turned its head, only to see Seraphina. “Sorry, I gave up my sea legs for the surface world. Better food up here.”

“Let’s do this!” Riley shouted. She grabbed the shark by the fin and began punching him. “You punch it in the snout to establish dominance!” 

The shark tried but failed to shake her off as she continued to punch it. Not even diving up and down could lose her. The shark swam forward, crashing right into the buoy. It chipped its tooth, which shattered into pieces, before sinking to the bottom of the pool. 

Riley grabbed the key and tossed it to Seraphina. “And that’s how you wrestle a shark! Now let’s win this thing.”

The two ran off, cheering and hollering. 

“Oh just so you know,” Riley said, “I almost beat up your boyfriend earlier.”

Seraphina raised an eyebrow, then laughed. “Be careful, I want to beat him and the Eagles, but I still want to date him.”

Xidorn found himself racing through the maze. “I have to say this is rather impressive. How does Toby manage to make these things out of garbage?”

Studying the walls, Xidorn unknowingly ran into Kalino. 

“Looks like I found you mannnnn,” Kalino stated. 

“Looks like it,” Xidorn laughed. “When did you get here?”

“Just now,” Kalino admitted. “You?”

“I’ve lost track of time,” Xidorn admitted. “This maze keeps…”

The maze shifted again. 


“It's no sweat man,” Kalino replied. “We can take our time. We’ll get out of here.”

The maze shifted again. 


The two Eagles began walking through a newly formed cornfield. 

“So you and Seraphina are officially good?” Kalino asked. 

Xidorn nodded. “All thanks to you.”

“Don’t give me any credit,” Kalino replied. “You did the work.”

“You just gave an ear for me to listen to,” Xidorn replied. “I won’t forget it Kalino. You’re like a guru.”

“I can see that,” Kalino laughed. “I consider myself a pillowsophical man. Do you mind if you give me an ear for a second.”

Xidorn nodded. 

“So the merge is coming up in a few challenges, right?” Kalino asked. 

“That’s what everyone seems to be thinking,” Xidorn replied. “And the logic holds up looking at past seasons.”

“What are your plans come the merge?” Kalino asked. 

“To be honest I’m going to do what I’ve been doing,” Xidorn admitted. “Do my best at challenges, vote who I think is best to go home, and be honest about it.”

“Righteous,” Kalino replied. “So who does that mean voting off? Like the Fireworks?”

“If that’s what seems best,” Xidorn stated. “I’m not going to suddenly be a turncoat if that's what you mean. But if I don’t think someone should go, then I won’t vote for them. And if I think someone should go home, for being a threat, an opposing number, or just a bad hombre, then I will.”

“Noted,” Kalino replied. 

“Don’t worry though Kalino,” Xidorn replied. “I don’t plan on voting you out; I trust you.”

“Right back at ya,” Kalino replied. 

“I’m not sweating the merge,” Kalino stated. “Mostly cause I don’t like to sweat. Except in saunas or Japanese bath houses. While there are a couple Eagles I’m worried about, I think I can convince any of them to vote with me. Xidorn is a bit tricky; he’s headstrong and might spill a blindside like a glass of milk, but he isn’t voting for me, so why not keep him?”

In another section of the maze, a greased pig ran across a muddy field. Chasing after it were Lita and Ness. The knockout jumped, but missed the pig. Ness tripped over her fallen friend, sending her sliding into the mud and right into the pig. She caught the critter, then grabbed the key off its neck. The pig snorted, kicking Ness in the face with its hind legs before running off.

“You alright sugar?” Lita asked.

“I’m fine,” Ness replied. “Especially, because I have the key!”

“Woot woot!” Lita cheered, the snorted. “Now we just have to find the gate...and maybe a shower.” 

Ness giggled and followed her friend. “We’re kicking butt today.”

“You can say that again,” Lita laughed. “I’m glad you’re feeling good Ness, especially after everything that happened.”

“I’m trying to be in good spirits,” Ness admitted. “I’m still confused how I stayed.”

“Well Ignacio flipped-”

“I know that,” Ness replied. “But I won a coin toss? Doesn’t that sound a little too...lucky for me?”

Lita smiled. “I think your luck is changing honey.”

Ness smiled as the maze shifted; the two fell into a pool of water. “Hey a bath...kind of. Guess that was lucky too.” 

The girls laughed, not noticing the shark fin swimming nearby...

At the same time, Weston tip-toed through the maze, peeking around corners. He froze, feeling something was he could feel breathing on his neck, as if someone was watching him…

Weston smiled and turned around. “Cynthia?”

The strange girl waved. 

“I thought I felt your presence,” Weston laughed and hugging his girlfriend. 

The maze shifted again.

Weston pouted. “Guess we better start over looking for the key. I should have found it already…”

“Why?” Cynthia asked. 

Weston looked down. “I don’t know…if I was more useful to this team, we’d have it! That’s what this challenge is about, right? How much you contribute...what if I’m just dead weight?”

“Does this have something to do with your brother?” Cynthia asked. 

“No...maybe,” Weston admitted. “I don’t miss him or anything. I just...I wanted to be the one to send home. To defeat him in challenge. Sure I’ve lasted longer, but I never bested him myself. That still makes him the superior twin.”

“Easton didn’t have what it takes to survive elimination to this point,” Cynthia stated. “You have.”

“I guess,” Weston replied. 

Cynthia grabbed Weston by the shirt collar, and kissed him. “I don’t care what, you’re my favorite twin.”

Weston giggled. “Hehehe…”


Weston and Cynthia turned to see a giant snake slithering behind them.

“Look Cynthia!” Weston exclaimed. “In its throat there’s a lump! Its shaped like a key! It must have swallowed it! If we can make it spit up then-”


Cynthia placed her knife back in her pocket, then dug her hands through the snake’s headless corpse and pulled out the key.

“Or that too,” Weston stated. 

The teams raced towards the exit.

Griswold and Ignacio arrived first; there were two drawbridges to the left and right at the end, each colored blue or red and sporting the team emblem. 

Griswold ran to the left gate, were a red rope hung from the wall. “This must be it! Alright Iggy, let’s get pulling!”

At the same time, Melissa and Vance arrived. Seeing the two Fireworks they raced to their own rope and began making quick work. 

“Sorry Fireworks,” Vance teased. "But you’re going to elimination tonight! You’ve been there so many times already, we’d just feel bad if we took it from ya.”

“Its not over...till it's over,” Griswold stated, working faster. 

Cynthia and Easton came next, joining in the scene. Kalino and Xidorn came next. 

“How about now?” Vance asked. “Is it over now?” 

Griswold grunted, trying not to look at the Molting Eagles descending drawbridge. 

“It isn't over yet! After all, you still haven’t lost.”

Seraphina came running in, grabbing the rope from behind Ignacio. Riley ran up behind her and helped. 

Lita dashed in. “It ain’t going to work…”

“...unless it's the Fizzled Fireworks!” Ness cheered, as both girls joined in. 

“I think you’re a little too late,” Vance teased, their bridge still having a lead. 

“Don’t listen to him,” Griswold stated. “We’ve had it rough these past few challenges, but that’s only made us stronger! When we started out, we got by on dumb luck. But not today! Today we’re a well oiled machine, we’re closer and stronger together! I believe in each and everyone of you, and you believe in me. So let’s win this thing! It ain’t going to work…”

“...unless it's the Fizzled Fireworks!” the entire team cheered. 

The Fireworks began pulling in synch, using all their strength, chanting their new cheer as they started taking the lead.

“They’re beating us!” Vance cried. 

“Then pull,” Cynthia stated. 

“Don’t let go,” Kalino cried. 

“I’m trying but I’m slipping!” Weston cried. 

“Could someone please get off my foot,” Xidorn groaned. 

“And can someone get their elbow out of my ribcage, pretty please?” Melissa begged. 

“Could someone get their ribcage out of my elbow,” Vance whined. 


The rope slipped from the Molting Eagles’ hands, their drawbridge ascending back up. The whole team fell in a pile on top of each other.

“Guess that means we lost after all,” Weston sighed. 

Kalino grunted. “No. I have a plan, follow my lead.”

“We did it!” Griswold cheered. “Our drawbridge is down first.”

“And we sure do appreciate it!” Kalino replied. 

He ran forward, pushing the Fireworks aside as the Eagles did the same and raced across the Fireworks’ drawbridge. 

“They’re getting to the finish line!” Seraphina cried. 

“We have to stop them!” Griswold yelled. 

The Fizzled Fireworks chased after them, but it was too late. The Molting Eagles had already reached the finish line. 

“We have a winner!” Rhonda congratulated. “The Molting Eagles.”

Ness was red in the face, in anger and out of breath. “That’s no fair! They didn’t even lower their own drawbridge!”

“Rhonda didn’t say we had to use our own drawbridge,” Kalino defended, “just get your whole team to exit the maze first. We did, you just helped us out. Thanks!”

Griswold glared. “This challenge was supposed to be testing teamwork! If anything, we proved we were the better team!”

“You passed the test,” Kalino admitted. “But you didn’t win the challenge. Sometimes the best team is just the quickest thinker.”

“I’m afraid I have to concede with the Eagles,” Rhonda said. “They’re the winners of our challenge! Which means that once again, the Fizzled Fireworks will be losing someone.”

Melissa shook her head. “This doesn’t feel right.”

“Melissa, we won,” Vance stated.

“It doesn’t seem fair the Fireworks have to vote off one of their own,” Melissa admitted. 

“Well,” Rhonda said, “that’s not entirely true Melissa..”

Everyone turned to look at the hostess. 

“Remember that extra special reward I referenced?” Rhonda asked. 

“Oh no,” Seraphina stated. 

Rhonda winked. “For winning today’s challenge, the Molting Eagles will vote off one of the Fizzled Fireworks!”

The Fizzled Fireworks went silent, just staring forward. 

“I mean you had the same reward after the first challenge,” Rhonda teased. “How does it feel when the shoe’s on the other foot?”

The Fireworks only glared at the hostess. 

“I’m afraid unless the Eagles want you to vote off one of their own,” Rhonda stated, “then its final. Eagles?”

The Eagles shook their heads, even Xidorn and Melissa reluctantly. 

“I’ll give you till tonight to decide who its going to be,” Rhonda said. “I’ll see both teams at elimination.”

The Fizzled Fireworks looked at one another.

“No matter what happens tonight,” Griswold stated. “I’m proud of this team, everyone knows we killed it today. I appreciate you guys electing me leader, and I love you guys.”

Seraphina sighed and gave Griswold a hug. “We did good Gris, really good.”

The rest of the Fireworks joined in, making a group hug. 

After a moment, Ness asked, “What’s going to happen?”

“We’re going to be fine,” Seraphina stated. “I can see it...we’re going to be fine.”

Xidorn sighed. “I hate this. When the Fireworks won I was against it, and I’m not proud of how we ‘won’ today. I know all of us were furious when this happened...and we lost Bethany. I know everyone probably doesn’t even remember her, but I do. We all came together and agreed who we had to vote off…”

Both teams gathered into the Haunted Internet Cafe. The Eagles stared at the Fireworks, who avoided or didn’t bother to match their gaze. 

“You’re awfully quiet Fireworks?” Rhonda asked. 

“Just accepting that everything sucks,” Riley replied. 

“The Eagles have voted,” Rhonda stated. “Any ideas on who's going home?”

The Fireworks looked at each other briefly. 

“Well let’s not avoid the inevitable,” Rhonda stated. “Tonight you’ll be having an almond blend in your cup of coffee, except for one of you. I have five cups, and the Eagles have unanimously chosen one of you to leave through the Revolving Doors of Shame and board the Public Transportation of Losers. Without further ado, The first cup of coffee goes to…




The three caught their cups. 

“Tonight, the Molting Eagles have decided that…

“...Seraphina is going home. Griswold, Lita, the final coffee cups are you.” 

The two didn’t bother going to get their coffee, turning to their now former teammate. 

Seraphina sighed, grabbing her stuff. “Whelp, that’s that.” 

“What?” Ness asked. “Why? Why Seraphina? That can’t be right?”

“Are you saying Xidorn voted for his own girlfriend?” Lita exclaimed. “How could you, any of you?”

“Relax,” Seraphina said. “It's okay; I asked them if they would vote me.”

Riley gasped. “But Seraphina Silverman-”

“-It's alright,” Seraphina said. 

“We thought it was unfair when you were able to vote off one of our own,” Melissa stated.

"We said we wished you asked us who to vote off," Xidorn said. "To make it fair. We decided to do that. Seraphina came to and us asked to vote for her, and we felt if it's what she wanted, we would.”

Ness had already started crying. “But why would you ask that Seraphina? We’re so close to the merge!”

“That’s exactly why,” Seraphina said. “Because all of you deserve to be here; Gris, Lita, Ness, Riley, Iggy you all should go to the merge. I'll admit... when the teams were first formed, I thought we wouldn’t get along...but you’ve all been there for me throughout this game. You’re some of the kindest, most supportive, most amazing people ever. I’ve never had any friends before, but I’m proud and happy to call all of you my teammates and my friends."

The Fireworks immediately got up and joined in another group hug. 

Seraphina walked forward, stopping at Xidorn. “Thank you for doing this.”

“I think it's really sweet you did this,” Xidorn admitted. “But part of me wishes you hadn’t.”

Seraphina giggled. “I understand, but I’m going to see you after this. We’re going to see a lot of movies. Got it?”

Xidorn nodded, pulling her in for a kiss. 

Seraphina reached the Revolving Doors, waved goodbye and exited. 

She sighed, but was immediately glomped as Ness and Lita ran out after her. 

“Don’t think you can leave without giving us another hug goodbye,” Lita replied. 

“We’re going to wear our friendship bracelets everyday,” Ness cried. “Its...its not going to be the same without you.”

Seraphina cried. “You guys are my best friends, you know that? You believed in me and were always there for me. I’m going to miss you, but I wasn’t going to let you leave today either. Roomies forever.”

The Public Transportation of Losers pulled in and opened its door.

“That's my ride,” Seraphina stated. “But before I go, take this."

Seraphina placed the blue immunity flash drive in Ness' hands. "But Seraphina!"

"I can't use it anymore," Seraphina teased. "But you two might need it. Now just cause I’ve left doesn’t mean give up. Both of you can win this thing!”

The girls nodded and waved as Seraphina took her seat and the bus departed.

“Well,” the bus driver said, “sucks to be gone huh?”

“I guess,” Seraphina replied, wiping her nose on her shawl. “But I think I got something out of this experience.”

“What’s that?” the driver asked.

Seraphina just smiled to herself.

Lita and Ness came back into the Internet Café, noticing the others still sitting. Toby and Jenny motioned them to join their teammates. 

“I know that today has been a rough day,” Rhonda admitted. “It's been over a month since you got here and you’ve fought hard. I just wanted to take a moment and formally congratulate you all.”

Weston raised an eyebrow. “Congratulate us?”

Rhonda nodded. “Yes. Congratulations everyone; you’ve made the merge.”

Chapter 14 Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

“Congratulations everyone; you’ve made the merge.”

There were a few quiet gasps, but most everyone responded in silence. 

“Its an individual game now,” Rhonda stated. “Which means that you can put a fork in The Molting Eagles and The Fizzled Fireworks, because they are done! Tomorrow night I’ll give more details...and a surprise. Enjoy the rest of your night.”

Rhonda walked away, smiling to herself. Toby and Jenny followed suit.

Everyone shared a look with each other.

Kalino yawned. “This...has been day. I think I need to sleep on this. In any case, congraritos everybody on making the merge.”

The others shrugged, and soon made their way to bed.

“I’m grateful to have made the merge,” Ignacio said, "but my team...or I guess former team, know that we are outnumbered. If all the Eagles vote together, we’ll be exterminated. Rhonda saying she has a surprise didn’t help; we still have a bad taste in our mouth from all her others.”

The next morning, Vance entered the dining hall, sniffing the air.


His eyes lit up as he ran to the lunch line, tripping and falling in the trash can. Tossing aside a banana peel on his mustache, he smiled as he saw Melissa put heart-shaped pancakes out. 

“I thought I smelled your cooking,” Vance cheered. “You decided to take up the spoon again?”

Melissa giggled and nodded. “I thought we should celebrate making the merge...and this might help us move on from last night. In addition, I had to make my favorite cowboy a special treat…”

Melissa pulled out a three-tier chocolate cake in the shape of a chimpanzee. “My triple chocolate chimp cake, as promised. The first layer is dark chocolate, the second is white chocolate and the third is milk chocolate, complete with peanut butter chips and mix of homemade banana icing and chocolate icing that-”

Melissa looked up to see Vance diving face first into the cake, not bothering to use his hands. Melissa giggled, but suddenly frowned. Vance looked up to see Xidorn standing in the doorway; his hair was lavender with the red streaks. 

Melissa quickly made a plate of pancakes. “How are you feeling Xidorn?”

“Is it obvious I miss her?” Xidorn replied, trying to sound like a joke.

“Dying your hair the color of her shirt was a bit of a giveaway,” Melissa admitted. 

“I’m still proud of her for doing that,” Xidorn stated. “I’m not proud of myself for how we won that challenge.”

“I’m not either,” Melissa admitted. 

“They won just as unfairly in the first challenge,” Vance stated. “I say they had a debt to pay.”

“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Xidorn answered. “We know how much it sucks to lose like that.”

Melissa hugged her former teammate from over the counter. “It’ll get better Xi.”

“I guess you know what it's like to lose someone you love too,” Xidorn replied. “I’m sorry Melissa.”

“What’s done is done,” Melissa said. “We’ll see them again.”

“Does it get better?” 

Melissa nodded. “It's rough, but it’ll get better. You’ve got good friends, that will make it easier. I promise.”

Vance put an arm around Xidorn. “Don’t worry deputy, you can try to make it up to her by winning that two know, if somehow I don’t win. Tell you what, you can even have some of my cake.”

Xidorn looked at Vance’s plate, where only crumbs remained. “Thanks partner, but I’m not hungry. I’ll wait till lunch.”

“What do you think we’ll have for lunch?” Vance asked. “You making anything Melissa?”

“Actually,” Melissa said, “Mr. Toby told me the dining hall and kitchen would be closed for the rest of the day. We’re to be here at seven tonight, but we’re on our own for lunch.”

Xidorn raised an eyebrow. “That’s weird...any idea why?”

“Mr. Toby said safety inspections,” Melissa replied. “I’m not sure I believe him. I was going to ask more, but he left in a hurry.”

“Now that you mention it,” Xidorn said, “On the way here, I actually say Jenny doing work.”

“I even went to Ms. Rhonda’s secret office,” Melissa stated.

“The one she thinks no one knows about?” Vance asked, licking his plate. 

Melissa nodded. “I wrote a strongly worded letter last night. I wanted to give it to her in person, but I heard her arguing with someone on the phone...something has changed with the network.”

“Well it sounds like,” Vance said, now starting on pancakes, “we’re all free for lunch. Kalino wants all the Eagles to meet up. Go out for pizza. Celebrating the merge and our team one last time.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Xidorn replied. 

“Splendiferous,” Melissa agreed.

“Personally,” Kalino said, “I wanted Seraphina to be the last Firework left. That way she could watch as everyone she cared about went home. But if she’s dumb enough to send herself home for nothing, then I’ll be happy to help her on the way. It's what she gets for eliminating Frannie. She can greet her buddies when we send them to wherever they sequester the losers. Who do you think she’ll be most upset to see; Lita or Ness?”

“It was really sad last night,” Ness admitted. “It just felt so awkward and empty in Lita and I’s room without our roomie there. We spent most of the day moping. But I promise Seraphina, we won’t let the chance you’ve given us be in vain.”

That night, at seven, the newcomers all gathered outside the dining hall. No one wanted to go in first, knowing Rhonda had a ‘surprise’ in store. Cynthia stepped forward first, the others followed...and were shocked at what they saw. 

Xidorn gasped. “Oh. My. God.”

“Noooooo way,” Kalino said.

“This is not possible right?” Lita asked. 

“Did Ms. Rhonda actually do all of this?” Melissa questioned. 

A feast of delicious foods were before them, including some of their favorites; cheese fries, clam chowder, burritos, mac and cheese, pho, baked potatoes, caviar, a ham, empanadas, pancakes, grits, triple cheeseburgers, Doritos Loco tacos, feijoadas, plenty of pastries and more. 

The room had changed as well. Now the dining hall was a lit by an enormous hanging chandelier in the center of the room, decorated with candles. The old seats gone, replaced by a single dining table that extended from one end of the room to the other, right in front of the cafeteria line. Two old-looking chairs were at each head of the table, a row of six seats on the left and right in between them.

Interns dressed in fancy tuxedos were setting and opening silver trays of more food on the table. 

Rhonda stepped out of the kitchen. “What do you think?”

“I think my pants size just increased three sizes today,” Griswold replied. “What is all this?”

“It's your surprise,” Rhonda replied. “To really celebrate making the merge! You’ve all made the halfway point, and should feel extremely proud. I do want to go over a few things about what the merge means, officially, you know? That can wait until after celebrating though. So eat up everyone! I’ll reconvene with you soon...I have a few things I still need to discuss with the higher ups…”

The hostess smiled as she left, but grumbled and cursed when she thought she was out of earshot. “Things were starting to look up, then they pull this crap! What do they even want from me…”

The teens eagerly grabbed their plates and began piling on the food. The intern-waiters brought them drinks, with little umbrellas in each. The contestants pigged out easily, some not even using a fork as they went for the finger foods. 

Lita swooned as she stuffed cheese fries in her face. “Ooooh, this food has never been so good.”

“It was rather nice for Ms. Rhonda to make this surprise,” Melissa stated. “Maybe she still has a heart…”

“You don’t think she drugged this food like she did the sleeping challenge?” Xidorn asked. 

“If she did it's too late for me,” Riley joked, switching between eating two different burritos. 

“Okay, is anyone else surprised to have made the merge?” Weston asked. 

“Yes!” Ness replied, pouring a bowl of clam chowder. “I feel like I’m dreaming.”

“I always knew I would,” Vance bragged, missing his plate while plopping on grits. “I am pretty amazing.” 

“I just can’t believe it's actually here,” Griswold stated. “I mean it doesn’t feel like it's been a month...more like years yet simultaneously a day.”

“We got to do a lot of awesome stuff to get here,” Riley chuckled. “Just think; solve mazes, fashion shows, snowball fights, stopping alien invasions and racing through Washington.”

“Can someone pass the tacos?” Diaomonique asked. 

Xidorn nodded, sending them to the end of the table. “We had to say goodbye to a lot of great people too. Like Bethany, and now Seraphina. In the most unfair way they could go.”

“Amen to that,” Lita stated, hugging Ness for a moment. 

“I know,” Melissa sighed, placing her hand on Xidorn’s shoulder. “I miss so many people; Diamonique, Hayden, Frannie…Aiden especially. I wonder if he’s thinking about me now.”

“We had a lot of great people on our team,” Kalino admitted. 

“Not to mention our bro Easton,” Griswold stated, not noticing Weston’s pout. 

“I even kinda miss ZZ Zipporah,” Riley admitted. 

“That goth chick?” Vance asked, raising his eyebrow. “Pssh, who cares about her?”

“She had her charms in her own snarky way,” Riley defended. 

“Hmph, the only good thing is that those rats Tessa and Pascal aren’t here,” Lita stated. 

“I guess,” Ness sighed. “Though Pascal wasn’t all bad...”

“He was a fun dude,” Kalino admitted. “When he wasn’t strategizing.” 

“Well let’s not focus on the past right now,” Melissa stated. “As sad it is to say goodbye to good friends, let’s be happy for the friends we made.”

“Here, here!” Weston cheered. 

“I made the merge!” Weston cheered. “You hear that Easton? I made the merge and you didn’t! Nah, nah, nah! I know I’m not the brightest, so I thought I would get voted off quickly. But I didn't! I’ve had a lot of good times actually; with Xidorn, Vance and my sweet Cynthia! I love my small town...but I’ve never had so much fun!”

“There were a lot of times I was worried,” Xidorn admitted. "I actually made the merge though. This feast made it feel real! Glad it wasn't a brunch of disgustingness. I think it raised all our spirits. The thing is this is the halfway point; it’s a milestone, but it's still a big battle to go. I’m ready for it though!”

Lita was eating cheese fries from her bra. “Before this show, I never slept in a hotel. Now I’m eating a feast at one on TV! I’m looking forward to the merge; it means tougher challenges and more opponents' butts to kick!”

Cynthia sharpened her knives and stared. “I’m not surprised I’m still here. I am surprised I made some friends and a boyfriend. I guess I had fun getting here; I slashed a lot to get here…but I’m just getting started.”

“I’m somewhat astounded to be here,” Ignacio admitted. “Part of me thought I’d make it here just for my looks; another part thought I’d be eliminated for the same reason. Yet my teammates accepted me...I’m really lucky.” 

Melissa clapped her hands. “I’m just so proud of us all for making it here. Everyone should feel really proud too. It's been a ride with its ups and downs, but I think it's going to turn around...right?”

“Eeee!” Ness squealed. “I made the merge, I made the merge, I made the merge! I mean I was actually cast on my favorite show and made it here! I’m still shocked I wasn’t the first one sent home. And to all of the jerks at my school that bet I would be, suck it! To all the fans...dreams do come true!”

Vance leaned back and put his feet up. “The merge doesn’t change all that much for your boy Vance here. Just more challenges for me to win. I do have to thank my deputies of course...I especially appreciate Xidorn teaching me to read. That would have never happened if I wasn’t here."

“Woo!” Griswold cheered. “I’m at the merge on TOTAL DRAMA! Woo! I want to give a shout out to my team; Go Bulldogs! I did it guys! I actually lead a team, and we didn’t lose every challenge. Ooh, and a shout out to my sisters and mom, miss you girls. Dang, the game is about to get serious! I’m a little nervous, but just so excited!” 

“I kinda knew I’d get here,” Kalino stated. “It wasn’t always how I planned, but good enough. My sister said I’d never get on the show over her...then when I did, that I’d be the first out. Suck on that sis! You’re wrong as per usual! I think I need to just sit back and go with the flow.” 

Riley licked her fingers clean. “I’ve just been trying to enjoy my time here, but I actually made the merge. It's crazy dudes, and you know what's even crazier? I might actually be able to win this! You know, the Eagles do have the numbers, but I’m not worried. Not everything goes like it seems in life. I’m just going to wait and see what happens.” 

“Can someone pass the danishes?” Diamonique asked.

Ignacio nodded. The model patted his stomach, but still went for another bite. “Wow, we now have a one-in-eleven chance of earning two million dollars. The end feels far, but you can just see it.”

“What will you do if you win the money Ignacio?” Ness asked. 

Ignacio scratched his beard. “I would ensure my parents would never have to work another day in their life. Then I presume I would set up college funds for my siblings and myself. Possibly even retire from modeling.”

“The world will have a day of mourning when that happens,” Lita joked. 

“I think the world's seen enough of me after this show,” Ignacio replied. “What about you Lita?” 

“I really haven’t thought about it,” Lita admitted. “I guess I’d help my family too...Ness, give me some ideas. What would you do?”

Ness blushed and looked away. “Well I’d…no, its silly. I’d probably never do it, even if I won.”

“Aww, tell us Loch Ness,” Riley stated. “Please, with jalapeno sauce on top!”

“The only silly idea is not pursuing your dream,” Xidorn stated, the others nodding. 

“Okay, okay, but everyone else has to share too,” Ness stated. “ I want to be a veterinarian, so I’d go to vet school and then…well, I’ve always wanted to open my very own zoo, dedicated to medical research and treating injured animals.”

“That’s an amazing idea Ness!” Lita cheered. 

“I would love to see that,” Ignacio agreed. 

“Way better than mine,” Riley said. “I was just going to have monkey butlers.”

Griswold chuckled. “Of course you would! That’s such a you thing. ”

“What’s that mean?” Riley asked. “You don’t think it’s a good idea?”

“I think it’s a great idea,” Griswold stated. “I might even steal it.”

Riley playfully punched her friend’s arm. “If you do, you better share dude!”

“Of course,” Griswold replied. “I might ask for some more of your ideas. You always have great ones.” 

Riley started to blush, but she and Griswold kept laughing. 

“I hate to interrupt,” Lita stated glaring, “but is that all Riley?”

“Oh no,” Riley said. “I’d probably move me and my bros to some huge mansion too, you know Richie Rich style.” 

“I’ll definitely buy a bigger house for my mom,” Griswold stated. “Then take my little sisters to a One Rejection concert like they want. First I’m throwing a kicking victory party, and you’re all invited!”

The others cheered. 

“When I win I’ll probably start my own rodeo show,” Vance stated. “Buy my own ranch too, fill it with tons of new horses.”

“New horses?” Ignacio asked. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea after the last one.”

Vance blushed as some of the others snickered. 

“Wait, but what about your family’s ranch?” Xidorn asked. 

“My what?” Vance asked. “Oh, yeah, the ranch my family definitely owns.” 

“Why buy another?” Xidorn questioned. “I mean you said you’d inherit that one.”

“Well…of course I will,” Vance replied. “I just meant I’ll get another one…start a chain of my family’s ranches! Its’ what my Pa would’ve wanted. What about you deputy?”

“I’d pay my way through film school,” Xidorn replied. “Maybe use the money to make my own independent horror film, one of my dream projects. I wonder if I could even get it to air at the Sundance Festival.” 

“Ooh, ooh, can we cameo in it!” Weston begged. 

“Definitely,” Xidorn agreed. “Heck, maybe I’d film it here; it’s certainly a good setting.”

“It has its charm,” Melissa admitted. “In a grotesque kind of way. For me, I think I would give most of the money-“

“-to charity,” the others finished. 

Melissa giggled. “Exactly. What about you Cynthia?” 

Cynthia looked up from carving the ham, holding a blade dripping with juice. “More knives.”

The other newcomers gulped. 

“And you Weston?” Melissa asked. 

“Huh?” Weston asked.

“Yeah, what would you do if I didn’t win bud?” Vance asked. 

“What are you future plans?” Xidorn asked. 

“Uh…I don’t have any future plans,” Weston admitted. 

“Not even a career you want to do?” Xidorn asked. 

Weston shook his head. “I guess I never thought about it before.”

“You’re going to be a junior next year, right?” Xidorn asked. “You’ll start applying to colleges. You should give it some thought Weston.”

Weston rubbed the back of his head. “I guess…”

“If he wins it doesn’t matter,” Kalino stated. “You’ll be loaded for life, you wouldn’t have to work ever again!”

“So what are you planning to do if you win Kalino?” Melissa asked. 

“Mannnnn whatever I want,” Kalino admitted. “I could do anything…though I do have a promise I have to keep.”

Melissa stood up, glass in hand. “It sounds like no matter who wins, it’ll be exciting. I’d just like to make a toast to us all, and wish the best of luck to everyone. I hope the rest of our days will be fun, and an early congratulations to the winner. Cheers, to the merge!”

Melissa raised her glass and the other newcomers followed, clinking them together over the table. “Cheers!”

The contestants took a sip and sighed. 

“What do you think Rhonda is talking to the producers about?” Ness asked. “The merge?”

“Who knows with Rhonda,” Ignacio stated. “She’s very secretive.”

“I hear that,” Vance replied. “I bet she has a big secret or something she’s hiding…like an ugly birthmark.”

“I could see it,” Weston admitted, a few of the others nodding in agreement. 

“I meant more relating to her past,” Ignacio sighed. 

“I wonder what the first challenge will be?” Melissa asked. “Or if they’ll be any twists.”

“Eh, I doubt it,” Diamonique stated. “Melissa, could you pass the potatoes?”

“Sure thing Diamonique,” Melissa stated, passing the potatoes. 

“The original did,” Xidorn stated. “Around the merge they brought b…”

Everyone paused for a moment. They then turned their heads towards the left, where a familiar face was stuffing her face at the head of the table. “DIAMONIQUE?”

Diamonique titled her head. “Surprise, bitches.” 

“Why are you here?” Ignacio asked. 

“Great to see you too hot stuff,” Diamonique replied with a wink. 

“I thought we voted off Diamonique?” Weston asked. “Was that someone else?”

“Oh, you did vote me off,” Diamonique replied. I’m just way too fabulous to stay down; I’m competing again.” 

How is this possible?” Kalino asked. 

“Ask Rhonda,” Diamonique replied, squashing a potato with her fist. 

That’s not fair; we already voted you off!” Vance shouted. “Now we have to do it again?” 

“Nice to see you Vance,” Diamonique replied, finishing off the last potato.

“Wait,” Xidorn stated. “Did…did someone return with you?”

Diamonique smirked. She nodded and pointed at the end of the table. Everyone turned to see someone else sitting at the other head of the table. 

Riley gasped. 

Griswold gasped. 

Ness gasped. 

Kalino gasped. 

Vance gasped. 

Melissa gasped. 

Lita gasped. 

Weston gasped. 

Xidorn gasped. 

Ignacio gasped. 

Cynthia didn’t react; only staring with her unblinking eyes as usual. 

There, sitting in the chair was...a guy. He was um…there. He had brown hair or something. He wore some shoes, and pants and a shirt with some stripes I think.

Everyone stared for a long moment at the guy sitting there. He forced a smile and waved.


“Was he a contestant?”

“I thought he was an intern.” 


“Is he debuting?”


“Wait, where are we looking again? I don’t see anything…” 

The guy sighed, hanging his head in shame.

“Don’t you remember?”

The guy shot up. Everyone turned to look at Lita. “He’s the first one voted off from the Fireworks.”

“Y...yeah,” the guy replied. 

“It's Jasper, right?” Lita asked. 


His mouth hanging open wide and not working, he nodded repeatedly, until he accidentally hit his head against the table.  

“How did you know there'd be two Xi?” Weston asked.

“The original brought back two people at the merge,” Xidorn explained. “I didn’t even think about it, but it makes sense Rhonda would use this twist.”

“No it doesn’t,” Vance pouted. “It's completely cheap.”

“Let’s vote you off and see if you still feel the same way,” Diamonique stated. “I bet if any of you went home early, you’d all be begging for a second chance.”

Vance blushed as the other mergers shared a look.

“She has a point,” Kalino admitted. 

At that moment, Rhonda walked in. “Sorry for the disturbance. Did everyone enjoy the meal?” 

Diamonique belched, knocking over a tower of plates next to her. “It was alright.”

Rhonda frowned. “Didn’t I tell you two to wait for your cue?” 

“And miss a free feast?” Diamonique asked. “It's not realistic of me.” 

Rhonda shrugged and smiled. “Eh. Was everyone surprised then?”

“I knew you had some trick up your sleeve,” Griswold sighed. 

“You going to explain any of this Rhonda?” Vance asked. 

“In a good time,” Rhonda said. “I have a lot news for you all tonight, some good, some bad. So let me go through it all. First, let’s just make clear what the merge means. For the audience and you."

Rhonda cleared her throat. “You went through the team phase; this is the individual phase. This means you will compete by yourself, though a select couple of challenges may allow you to work with a few others or have you compete in pairs. Everyone will also vote at each elimination ceremony, with only the winning newcomer, or newcomers if a challenge allows, having invincibility.”

Everyone nodded. 

“Good,” Rhonda said. “Now I’m here to tell you this about the merge. Again, you should all feel good! You made it to the halfway point. Still, that doesn’t mean you get to be lazy. The challenges, the votes and the twists are going to be a lot harder from here on out! We have surprises in store, and it's not going to be pretty or fair. You’ll have to fight hard, but that’s what it takes for two million dollars.”

A few of the teens gulped, but nodded. 

“That brings us to number two on the agenda,” Rhonda stated. “I’m happy to announce that we once again have a primetime slot!”

“We lost it?” Ignacio whispered. 

“I guess the ratings went up then?” Griswold asked. 

“Some,” Rhonda replied. “Really the network needed a last minute replacement. The host of some world-traveling show got hospitalized by a camel and won’t be able to do the rest of their season.”

“Oh how dreadful,” Melissa said. 

Rhonda placed her hand over her heart. “It truly is a tragedy, but the best way to honor him is by giving a great show in his place. Our episodes will now be slightly longer to fill this primetime slot. Additionally, we’ll have two extra episodes to fill its entire schedule. On that note, I’m sure you’ve noticed our two guests.”

Diamonique waved again. “It took them a while, but how could they not?”

“Took the words out of mouth,” Kalino mumbled.

Rhonda smirked. “For all of you curious, allow me to clarify for you. Diamonique and Jean-Pierre are officially returning! This means that they will compete and have the chance to earn two million dollars.”

Diamonique clapped for the two of them as Jimbo Jasper blushed.

“With two episodes, we need two more eliminations,” Rhonda explained. “I thought what better drama than the two people who were first voted off by own their teams?”

Ignacio raised an eyebrow, but he said nothing. 

“So I’d like to welcome them back,” Rhonda said. “Anything you two would like to say?”

“I’m glad to be back,” Diamonique replied. “I’m sure all of you will be too soon enough.”

“I just feel really-”

“-That’s nice,” Rhonda said. “Its great to have both of you back. Isn’t everyone excited?” 

“I think it's sweet to give someone a second chance,” Melissa stated.

Everyone else agreed, even if they were shocked or disappointed. 

“Well then you’re all going to love the next bit of news,” Rhonda said, with a forced laugh. 

“What do you mean?” Xidorn asked. 

Rhonda gritted her teeth into a fake smile. “Like I said, we got two extra episodes ordered as part of our primetime slot. We’ve been having earlier challenges recently to make this adjustment for our own schedule. Now, the producers realized that we need something to fill in for those two episodes and made plans...without consulting me first. I had my plans already made when they told me their decision...which for the sake of my job, I’m forced to comply with.”

“This is some of that bad news, isn’t it?” Ness asked. 

Rhonda nodded. “They decided we should have a returnee, and insisted on someone specific. Despite me telling them it isn’t necessary, they're dead set.”

“There is an extra chair still available at the table,” Kalino observed.

Toby walked into the room, whispering into Rhonda’s ear, before leaving. 

“It looks like our last guest has arrived,” Rhonda stated. “So it's my ‘pleasure’ to welcome back…”

Jenny and Toby escorted the returnee into the room. Everyone went silent at their presence, until finally a voice spoke up. 

“OH **** NO!”


The former Olympian sighed and took the only available seat, next to Riley. 

“Why her?” Xidorn asked. “Why not...anyone but her?”

“It's not my choice,” Rhonda said. “She’s still very famous, so the executives thought she’d be good for ratings.”

“There’s nothing you can do?” Lita asked. “Literally nothing? You couldn’t even get someone like Amanda Picklestein instead?”

“I actually tried that,” Rhonda said. “Sadly, the network would not relent.”

“I can hear you,” Tessa said. “I’m right here.”

“We know,” Ignacio stated. “That’s precisely the problem.”

Tessa sighed and rubbed her temples. “I knew this would happen…”

“Is Tessa’s return going to change anything?” Weston asked. 

“Besides making everything even worse,” Kalino said. 

“It may change some plans I had for challenges and a potential merge returnee contest,” Rhonda admitted. “We’ll work around it. Its great to have you back I guess Tessa.”

“That sure means a lot Rhonda,” Tessa replied, side-eyeing the hostess. 

“Now, any quick questions about the returning competitors?” Rhonda asked. 

Ignacio raised his hand. “Pardon, but I have to ask, have these returnees had the privilege of seeing the finished episodes? It feels like that could be a huge disadvantage to us.”

“Fair point,” Rhonda said, “but the returnees haven’t seen any of the footage. As perhaps you’ve guessed or heard through the grapevine, the losers are sequestered together. Since the losers support one of the final two in the finale, we wanted their opinions to be based on what they or their follow losers experienced in the game.” 

“So do you guys know anything that’s happened?” Weston asked. 

“We know plenty,” Diamonique replied. 

Rhonda nodded. “While they don’t have the advantage of being present, they have been able to talk to everyone who has been voted out at this point, even Seraphina for at least last night to now. So they’ve had a chance to hear most everything; whether they took that chance and whether that info came from a reliable loser is up for debate.”

“What can they tell us?” Melissa asked. 

“Good question Melissa,” Rhonda replied. “There are obviously some things they can’t disclose. For example, what happens to you after you eliminated; the only way for you to know is to find out first hand. However, at this point we all know they’ve seen the other losers, so if they want to share updates or news, they have the right.” 

Juju Jasper raised his hand. “I was wondering if-”

“-Alright, since there are no more questions,” Rhonda continued, “let’s get to the next bit of news.”

“Jasper has a question,” Diamonique stated. 

Rhonda blushed. “Sorry about that Jagger, you were asking?”

“Will we be rooming in the same rooms as last time?” he asked. 

Rhonda nodded. “You’ll get your old room keys after this meeting; that means Diamonique and Tessa will be sleeping alone, while you’ll room with Ignacio again.”

“We were roommates?” Ignacio asked. 

“In any case,” Rhonda continued, “I’d hate for you all to try and ruin the fun of having returnees by sending them right back home. So Diamonique, Joey, and Tessa will have immunity at the first elimination ceremony they need it.”

Diamonique chuckled. Jerd Jasper sighed in relief. 

“The first ceremony we need it at?” Tessa asked. “What does that mean?”

“I’m guessing,” Xidorn said, "it means that if they, or you sadly, win invincibility, the immunity will carry over until you aren’t safe.”

“So if we win the first challenge we’ll be safe at the next two eliminations?” Diamonique asked. “And if we win the first two challenges, we’ll be safe at the next three? And so on?”

“Yup,” Rhonda replied. “I didn’t bring you back not to participate in challenges. I thought you might not have enough motivation for the first challenge if you were already immune. Consider this your motivation.”

The others groaned, mostly directed at Tessa. 

“On the subject of immunity,” Rhonda continued, ““Its to my, and the network breathing down my neck’s, disappointment that no immunity flash drives have been used. I mean we don’t want to waste a twist, or an easy to manufacture piece of merchandise. So, we’re amending the rules a bit for them. The team immunity flash drives were only for the team phase...however, if you have a gold immunity flash drive you can take immunity off those drives and place it on the gold drive.” 

“Oh yeah!” Weston recalled, “I forget those things exist!”

“Since it is the merge,” Rhonda said, “we’ve decided to hide another gold immunity flash drive in the hotel! So you’d better go flush it out of its hiding place.”

Kalino was shown shaking the cushion of the confessional seat and rummaging through the side, before stopping and shrugging. “I guess Rhonda isn’t actually dumb enough to hide it in the same place twice.”

“Now Jewel just mentioned rooms,” Rhonda said, “which brings me to our next point. We haven’t always had rewards for every challenge, but we’re trying to incorporate more. We’d like to have one for every merge challenge; more rewards for harder tasks. We can’t promise they’ll be a unique reward for every challenge, but there will be a recurring prize for the winner of every challenge.

“The Pentagram Hotel will be open to the public soon after the show. We'd like to advertise one of its finest features. Allow me to introduce, the penthouse suite.”

Jenny and Toby pushed in a cart with a TV and DVD player. Toby put in a disc and turned on the TV.

The screen showed a large hotel room, with a lit hearth in the wall and a creepy portrait hanging over it. The painting depicted a pale man in black, with a sunken in face that smiled as he twisted his mustache.

“On the top floor you’ll find this room,” Rhonda continued, “where the very creator of this hotel spent his days planning murder after murder, until he was executed.”

“Why would any sane person want to stay there?” Lita asked. 

“Because we’ve upgraded this room to be the ultimate in luxury!” Rhonda replied. 

The camera panned over to door. Jenny and Toby entered, using a gold key card. Jenny ran over to the left, then jumped into a giant, comfy bed. 

“Staying here you’ll be sleeping in a king sized bed,” Rhonda said. “Complete with silk and satin sheets made from China and plenty of Egyptian cotton pillows.”

Jenny grabbed a remote from a nearby nightstand. She pressed a button and the bed reclined and began vibrating. “Ooooooh yeaaaaaaahhhhh.”

“Did I mention the reclining and massaging mattress?”

“Ooooh!” the contestants gasped. 

“The penthouse suite has one of the best views in all of Washington, D.C.”

The camera panned to the window, where the White House and Lincoln Memorial could be seen. 

“But if you want to look at something else, the penthouse suite has something for you.” 

Jenny grabbed another remote off the stand. With a press of a button, a giant TV screen descended from the wall in front of her.

“We have a flat plasma screen TV for your enjoyment!” Rhonda continued, Jenny flipping through the channels. “With over a thousand channels to choose from, including all access pay per view! No channel is off limits.”

“Not even the naughty ones?” Vance asked. 

He blushed at all the looks he got. 

“Sure, they’re there,” Rhonda replied, getting her even more looks. “Hey, we can edit it to be PG-13.” 

Jenny pressed another button, causing shelves of DVDs and games to rise up from the floor. 

“We also have tons of movies you can choose from. Plus five different video game systems you can play!”

The scene cut to Toby in a bathrobe, now stepping out of a fancy shower.

“This suite also comes with a state of the art shower,” Rhonda continued. “With multiple massaging shower heads and exclusive soaps and shampoos imported from Europe.”

“Mama has to try that,” Diamonique announced. 

“We haven’t even gotten to our high tech toilet,” Rhonda stated. 

Toby walked over to a large porcelain toilet. It glowed blue and stated, “Good Evening Toby.”

“You got a talking toilet?” Kalino asked. “That’s horrifying and awesome!”

“This toilet can actually responds to voice command,” Rhonda explained. “It can even recognize voices of previous users. It can also play music, tell jokes, has a seat warmer and a bidet.”

“What is a bidet?” Lita asked. 

Ness whispered in her ear. “Wait...what! That’s a thing?” 

The scene cut back to Jenny in bed. She reached over to the nightstand again, picking up a phone. 

“You can use the phone to order free room service,” Rhonda stated. “Request any meal and it’ll be brought to your room. Want breakfast in bed? Popcorn for a movie? An ice cream sundae midnight snack? Just pick up the phone. Our attendants will be happy to help…”

“Attendants?” Griswold asked. 

“Fans were so eager to get on the show,” Rhonda explained, “they paid for a chance. So we let a select few winners of a raffle become ‘maids’ and ‘butlers’ for you at your stay. You can select who will attend you, where they’ll wait on hand and foot for you. They even come with special uniforms.”

“Did someone order room service?” 

Toby opened the door. Standing outside were a young man and woman striking a pose. The woman, the purple haired fan from Dump The Chumps, was dressed in a french maid costume, with a short skirt and fishnets. The butler was a blonde and muscular gentlemen, with green eyes. He was shirtless, dressed in black dress pants, shirt cuffs and a bowtie, looking more like a Chippendale dancer than a butler.

The maid held out a silver tray, lifting it to reveal a pizza. “One pizza, fresh and piping hot.” 

“I also heard someone ordered a hot towel massage?” the butler asked, speaking in some kind of foreign accent. 

“Call us if you need anything,” the maid stated. “Anything.”

“Its our pleasure to serve,” the butler added. 

“As long as we can cameo in fic, we’ll do it,” the purple girl teased, before Toby slammed the door.

“So come on down to the Pentagram Hotel, and enjoy the luxury of our penthouse suite!” 

The clip ended. The two co-hosts pushed the TV out of the room.

“Man I killed it in that commercial,” Jenny said. 

“That’s cause you didn’t have to speak,” Toby replied. 


“As I said, the winner of a challenge will get to stay in the penthouse and enjoy its amenities,” Rhonda said. “Until the next challenge. There are two massage beds in there, so you can even choose one friend to accompany you.”

“That all sounds amazing!” Ness stated. “Especially the butlers…uh, cause they can wait on you.”

“That butler wasn’t that hot,” Ignacio grumbled. 

“This is all a lot to take in,” Xidorn admitted. “Is that everything with the merge?”

Rhonda smiled. She motioned to the cameramen with a finger over throat, who lowered their camera. “Finally, I just want to share something with you. I appreciate you all joining this show and giving it your best. It means a lot for us to share this journey together. Really it does...”

The others smiled.

“…But I also want to be frank with you. This show has struggled. Only now have we’ve clawed our way out of the grave and back to prime-time. Really only through dumb luck. I’m trying to save this show…so if you want to come to me and complain, as you’ve started doing, or dare I say try to ‘quit’, allow me to make one thing clear; you can leave.

“If you want to whine about returnees or twists, go the confessional or each other. Not me! If it's soooo unfair, then I’ll be delighted to send you home early. Instead of the Public Transportation of Losers, I’ll make a special call and you can ride the Whambulance right off this show! You can leave Washington and not appear for the rest of the season, including the finale.

Mark my words, I swear if you try to quit or refuse to participate and make my show boring, you will be miserable. I will have the editors, which I am one of we’re so understaffed, make sure that you’re hardly heard or seen at all. We can even use CGI to edit you out of scenes! What we will show will be your biggest failures, most shameful moments and when you’re at your worst. Whole montages of you sucking will play. You’ll be hated. You'll be a joke. If you want to give America, Canada, Japan, Brazil, many other countries and the whole Internet the chance to see that, then test me. Understood?”

Weston shot up his hand. “Haven’t most of the other episodes aired already? You can’t change those, can you?”

Rhonda by now was shaking in anger, her eye starting to twitch. “I will find a way to ruin you. ANYONE ELSE?”

The newcomers simultaneously gulped. 

“Super duper!” Rhonda cheered. “It was great talking to you all! Congrats again for making the merge! Enjoy the rest of your feast. I’ll see you tomorrow for our first challenge!”

The newcomers sat there in silence for a few moments. 

“Can some pass the cupcakes?” Diamonique asked. “No sense in letting this food go to waste.”

“She has a point,” Riley agreed. “We still made the merge. This feast is to celebrate, so why not celebrate?” 

The others agreed and everyone began to dine again, only much more quietly. 

Weston rubbed his chin in thought. “Hmm...did anyone find any of those flash drive things?”

Melissa almost choked on her salad. “Uh, I think even if anyone did they wouldn’t admit it dear.”

“Someone on our former team did.”

Everyone turned to look at Cynthia. “Remember our final question in the truth challenge? Who has an immunity flash drive on our team?”

“I just assumed it was a cruel joke by Jenny,” Xidorn admitted. “The question didn’t even matter since the points wouldn’t help.”

“Every other question was accurate,” Cynthia stated. 

“Cynthia has a point mannnnn,” Kalino stated. “One of us could have a flash drive.”

“You’re not actually playing dumb are you?” 

Everyone turned to Tessa. 

“What?” Kalino asked. 

Tessa rolled her eyes. “Really? So what happened to that red immunity flash drive I gave you?”

“You gave him a flash drive?” Griswold asked. 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about," Kalino said. “Did I do something to you…have we even talked before?”

“I found that flash drive sticking out of a vent,” Tessa explained. “I knew you and Pascal were close, so I asked you to use it for me.”

“But a flash drive is only for one team, right?” Kalino asked. 

“Don’t act like you don’t know,” Tessa shouted. “As I told you, it can only be used by a member of that team. Doesn’t mean you can’t use it on someone from another team. You pretended you did before our elimination ceremony, and kept it for yourself this whole time!”

Everyone gasped.

Xidorn shook his head. “I can't believe it.”

“I...I am sorry,” Tessa admitted. “I know this is something you don't want to hear.”

“No,” Xidorn said. “I mean I don’t believe it. Kalino has been a good friend to me, and a teammate who gives his all. What I can’t believe, is that you would actually try that!”


Xidorn stood up. “You heard me! I’m not buying that ridiculous story, against Kalino of all people! You expect me to believe that coincidentally the night you were eliminated, you found the Eagles flash drive and got Kalino to agree to that? Then he just happened to betray you? 

How ‘convenient’ you’ve returned and can out him,” Ignacio added. 

“I just don’t understand why you’re so against me,” Kalino ‘admitted’.

“She probably has some random beef with you,” Lita said. “She tends to do that.”

“Why would I lie?” Tessa asked. 

Xidorn rolled his eyes. “To get the target off your back. You know nobody is glad you’re here. You’re trying to save your own skin by throwing someone under the bus. Gosh...this isn’t actually that surprising.” 

“That’s not what I’m trying to do,” Tessa said. “I’m trying to help! He has the Eagles immunity flash drive!”

Xidorn slammed his fist on the table. “Just stop! I can’t deal with this...Seraphina sacrificed herself. She gave up her chance this close to the merge.” 

“Xidorn, I didn’t mean-”

“-Don’t even try,” Xidorn stated. “Don’t act like you’re upset. We all know you kicked her out of your room! You were awful to her! You were awful to a lot of us! Yet here you are, instead of all the people we care about! Instead of the people who deserve it. So enjoy your immunity while it lasts; as soon as it's over, we’re all voting you off.”

Xidorn stared Tessa down. The gymnast sighed. She said nothing as she pushed out her chair and left. 

Xidorn panted as he sat back down. 

“You alright partner?” Vance asked. 

“Yeah,” Xidorn replied. “I’m just, so ticked off.”

Kalino pulled Xidorn in for a hug. “I appreciate you standing up for me dude.”

Xidorn nodded. “Of course! I wasn’t going to let her get away with that. I just hate we actually have to put up with her for a little while.”

“Amen,” Lita stated, Ignacio, Kalino and Ness nodding in agreement. 

Dinner ended soon after, the teens slowly slipping away to their own corners. 

Griswold, Riley and Ignacio were the last to leave. 

Griswold looked around, eyeing the hallway. He whispered, “Okay dogs, this might sound crazy...but what if Tessa was telling the truth?”

“Those assertions against Kalino?” Ignacio stated. “I doubt she was candid; she’s known to play underhanded. Even in her own anecdote she was underhanded if her plan worked. Not to mention her unforgivable bullying of Lita just informs her character as malicious.”

“It sounds fishy,” Griswold sighed. “…I don’t know, something about Kalino rubs me the wrong way.”

“I got the same vibe,” Riley replied. “I could see Rhonda creating a loopy loophole like that for the flash drives too.”

“Exactly,” Griswold stated. “But what really makes me consider it…remember that elimination ceremony? Kalino fell out of the voting booth right before we voted.”

“Dude he did!” Riley exclaimed.

“It was likely an accident,” Ignacio stated. “I mean if Kalino hypothetically kept the drive for himself, why even be in the booth? It certainly didn’t make her immune. She probably got the idea from it.” 

“He does fall asleep everywhere,” Riley admitted. “I found him asleep in the lobby john, the mailbox, on a gargoyle…” 

“I found him slumbering in a ficus and a chandelier,” Ignacio added. 

“Fair point,” Griswold conceded. “It's not like we’re not going to vote Tessa off next time.”

“Yeah,” Riley sighed. 

“What elicits my curiosity is the other returnees,” Ignacio stated. 

“What’cha talking about Iggy?” Riley asked. 

“Why Diamonique and…Jonah I think,” Ignacio questioned. “Why them?”

“They were the first voted off by their own team,” Griswold explained. 

“That’s what Rhonda said,” Ignacio replied. “She also said they were here for drama. And while this could cause drama…do those two seem like drama starters?” 

“Not really dude,” Griswold admitted. 

“Exactly,” Ignacio replied. “Rhonda’s goal is to gain a lot of ratings, especially now that she’s in prime-time…so she brings back a guy no one knows. I suspect an ulterior motive for their return.”

“Rhonda could be lying,” Riley stated. “She has lied to us before, like about no one ever coming back ever…”

“We don’t know what happened on the Molting Eagles,” Griswold stated. “I still don’t know why exactly they voted off their leader. I mean I wasn’t surprised when Diamonique was voted off, but I honestly don’t know why she was.” 

“Fair enough,” Ignacio replied. “Perhaps we need to talk to more Eagles. The real baffling element is…Jar Jar. Why him? Rhonda could have chosen anyone. Even made it into a competition to return. But him?”

Griswold shrugged. “Who knows half the stuff Rhonda does. You got to stop obsessing over her so much, its a little weird.”

“Understandable,” Ignacio replied. “I just don’t like a mystery unsolved.” 

Riley poked Ignacio in the ab. “Maybe he likes her?” 

“You’re kidding?” Ignacio laughed. “Of course not...and I don’t like anybody else either. You know, if you were curious.”

Riley raised an eyebrow. “That sure sounds suspicious.”

“It wasn’t,” Ignacio replied. 

Griswold chuckled. “Maybe he likes you Riley.”

“For real?” Riley laughed. 

“Who could blame him,” Griswold replied. “You’re the most amazing girl ever.” 

Riley laughed. “Yeah, yeah.”

“No, I mean it,” Griswold replied. 

Riley laughed, but blushed. “Right back at you big guy...except the girl part.”

“I think we should stop by Lita’s and Ness’,” Griswold stated. “We need to figure out what we’re going to do…” 

Griswold ran ahead. Riley watched, then looked back to see Ignacio winking at her.


“I ship it,” Ignacio whispered. 

Riley rolled her eyes. “Griswold and I totally don’t like each other.”

“That sure sounds suspicious,” Ignacio replied.

“Weren’t we talking about your love life?” Riley asked.

Ignacio raced ahead of her. “Come on, we’re losing Griswold.”

“I’m not in denial about liking my bromosapien Gris Bear,” Riley stated. “I mean, ever since Easton said something I have been thinking...Griswold isn’t the kind of guy I would notice. I usually go for the last boyfriend was an iguana farmer. Gris isn’t freaky, but we do have a lot in common, enjoy spending time together, and he’s one of the best people ever. He’s just really sweet to me. What would it be like if he we dated...not that we would…”

Meanwhile, Diamonique, Cynthia and Melissa walked through the hall. Diamonique chugged a soda with every step.

“Its really good to have you back Diamonique,” Melissa said. “Again, I’m terribly sorry you left.”

“Like I said I’m not mad,” Diamonique replied. “It happened, but I’m still at the merge! I didn’t even have to do that many challenges to do it. I know you gals didn’t vote me off, but no hard feelings to any of the other Eagles.”

“Aww, that’s really sweet,” Melissa said. “I’m honestly relieved you returned. I felt like Cynthia is really my only ally. Its nice to know that’s no longer true.”

“Thanks girlie,” Diamonique replied. “I’m glad you two are actually happy I’m back.”

“We did have an alliance,” Cynthia reminded. 

“As far as I’m concerned,” Diamonique stated. “That alliance is back in black hunties!”

Melissa squealed, glomping the two. “This is wonderful! I wish Frannie was here too; she really didn’t talk much after you went home you. Of course it sounds like she didn’t go home…”

“Rhonda let her visit the circus,” Diamonique stated. “She got to put on a few last shows with them… I promised Fran I would help her if I won, so I have to win for her too.”

“We’ll do it together!” Melissa stated. “The three of us, a girl group united! We could call ourselves...The Lady Eagles!”

Cynthia held out her hand. Melissa immediately placed her hand on top. Diamonique smiled and added her hand. They raised them up and shouted, “The Lady Eagles!”

Melissa giggled. “Well, this is our room. We’ll see you tomorrow, okay Diamonique?”

Diamonique scratched her head. “Hold on, I’m forgetting something...oh duh!”

From under her raspberry beret, the scatterbrain pulled out an envelope. “I snuck this in here for you Melissa, from a special someone.” 

Melissa squealed and tore open the letter. “Eeeee! My shoompy poops wrote me a letter! Aww, its poetry…”

“Your man ever write you love poems Cynthia?” Diamonique asked. 

“He tried once,” Cynthia said. “He couldn’t rhyme anything with orange. He expresses his feelings in other ways.” 

Diamonique winked. “I think it's time for me to get some beauty sleep, not that I need it. I’ll see you at breakfast Lady Eagles!”

Melissa wiped away the tears. “Thank you Diamonique, really thank you! I’m so glad you’re back!”

Diamonique waved. “Me too! Like I said, I’m not mad.”

Diamonique stared at the camera. She held up her soda can. “I’m not mad. I’m PISSED OFF!"

She grunted while tearing the can in half with her bare hands. “Those dummies voted me off, and the rest didn’t even care! They thought I was their weakest link, that I could be tossed aside and forgotten like a piece of garbage. Well guess what; think again!”

Diamonique crushed the two halves in her hands. “I’m here for two things; the free food and revenge! Once I’ve won this show...they’ll never ever forget about me.” 

The Fireworks had gathered in Lita’s and Ness’ room. Lita heard a knock at the door; she found Tessa standing outside. 

Tessa squirmed in place, looking at the floor. “Hey Lita.”

“Do you want something?” Lita asked. 

Tessa sighed. “I wanted to apologize to you, for everything that I said before.”

“Aww, you can apologize,” Lita replied. 

Tessa looked up and smiled. “Really?”

Lita nodded. “Yeah. You can apologize by shutting the **** up and never saying another word to me ever again!”

Lita slammed the door in her face. “Hmph, who does she think she is trifling?”

“Geez Lita,” Riley stated. “Don’t you think that’s a little harsh?”

“Excuse me?” Lita asked. “Harsh? Refusing to give you a seat on the bus is a little harsh. Insulting me when I tried to apologize is harsh. Kicking out my best friend and insulting her is harsh. Insulting my mother and my brother to my face for millions to see is harsh!”

“Fair point,” Riley admitted. 

Lita gritted her teeth. “If that spoiled daddy’s girl thinks she can just waltz in here and get my forgiveness like that, she’s mistaken. I just want to vote her out again.” 

“I get it,” Riley said. “Gris, what’s this meeting about?”

“I guess I thought we should just talk,” Griswold admitted. “You know, like what we’re going to do now in the merge.” 

“We’ll stick together, right?” Ness asked. 

“That’s what I want!” Griswold replied. “Unfortunately, there’s still the matter of the Eagles outnumbering us. Technically, the returnees make us equal at seven each.” 

“We’re not actually working with Tessa though, right?” Ignacio asked. 

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Griswold admitted. “She failed us the last we time we trusted her. I want to vote her off too! My real concern is Diamonique and uh…”

“Jasper,” Lita corrected. 

“Right,” Griswold replied. “Do we think Diamonique would flip?”

“I can’t tell if she was peeved or not,” Riley admitted. “We can try. Maybe you can talk to her Iggy Pop...shirtless of course.” 

Ignacio blushed. “I don’t want to lead her own...or have her stalking me again.”

“I was kidding dude,” Riley teased. “We should all have a word with her.” 

“If she flips what’s stopping Jorge from doing the same,” Griswold stated. 

“We did vote him off,” Ness said. “I don’t know if I would trust any of us if we all sent him home.”


The former Fireworks turned to Lita, who blushed. 

“You didn’t vote for Judith?” Ignacio asked. 

Lita rolled her eyes. “If we’re going to try to work with him, y’all need to learn it’s Jasper! Like Capser, that ghost, but with a J. And yes, I didn’t. I warned him about it and voted for that hag Tessa because I didn’t think he should go. Which, I was right about by the way…” 

“We should have listened,” Ignacio admitted. “Now we’re lying in the beds we’re made. You don’t think you could talk to him, do you?”

“I was planning on chatting with him a bit,” Lita replied. “What do you want me to say?”

“Just see if J’Casper is willing to work with us,” Griswold said. “Tell him if he wants to we’d be happy to.”

“The more the merrier,” Ness agreed. 

Lita sighed. “Yeah okay, I’ll bring it up to Jasper.”

Tessa sighed as she flopped into her bed. She heard a knock at the door. She ran to the door to answer it, but frowned. 

“Expecting someone else?” Diamonique asked. 

The fashionista pushed her way into the room and slammed the door behind her. She sat herself on the bed and started to file her nails.

“Can I help you?” Tessa asked. 

“Maybe,” Diamonique replied. “Maybe we can help each other.”


“Its shame you never really talked at the resort,” Diamonique said. “I didn’t realize we had so much in common.”

“We do?” Tessa asked. 

Diamonique nodded. “You know, I’m probably the only one who's happy you’re here.”

“Thanks...I guess,” Tessa replied. “Not that I’m not grateful, but why?”

“We have a common enemy,” Diamonique said. “Kalino.”

“You hate that snake too?” Tessa asked. 

“Who do you think convinced my team to vote me off?” Diamonique asked. “Listening to the other losers, it sounds like we’re not his only victims.”

“So why didn’t you say anything at dinner when I was getting roasted?” Tessa questioned.

“I mean, it wasn’t solely his fault you went home,” Diamonique replied. “You were pretty awful.” 

Tessa frowned, but slumped over. “Yup.”

“Not to mention Kalino has them eating out of the palm of his hand,” Diamonique stated. “Until they wise up, we’re the only ones with a clue.” 

“So you believe me about the flash drive?” Tessa asked.

“Yeah,” Diamonique replied. “I could see you being stupid enough to think that would work.”

“Is there a point to this?” Tessa asked. 

Diamonique nodded. “How does a secret alliance sound to you?”

“Not great,” Tessa admitted. “That didn’t work out so great with Pascal…”

“I’m not Pascal,” Diamonique replied. “The boobs were kind of a give away. Listen Tess, if you want to go right back out the Revolving Doors of Shame, I’ll hold the door for you. But, if you want to get even with have the others realize the truth, then I’m your best bet.”

Tessa sighed. “When you put it like's a deal.”

Diamonique held out her hand. “Let’s shake on it.”

Tessa grabbed her hand, as Diamonique picked her up and began shaking her. She dropped Tessa on the floor. “Alright, this secret alliance is official.”

“Do you actually have some kind of plan?” Tessa asked. 

Diamonique shrugged. “Meh, I’m kinda making it up as I go along.”


Jasper opened his door. “Oh.”

Lita stood outside the doorway. “Hey.”

Jasper shook his head. “Um, Ignacio isn’t here now…”

Lita chuckled. “Didn’t we do this before? I’m here to talk to you...can I come in?”

“Y...yeah, please!” 

Jasper tried to step outside and hold the door for her, awkwardly running into her. “You can uh, sit on the bed.”

Lita sat next to Jasper’s open luggage. She held up a pair of drawers. “Hehe, nice underoos.”

Jasper blushed and tossed them aside. “I was just unpacking. Sorry.”

Lita giggled. “You’re fine, I’m just messing with ya. Anyhow, I’m glad your back.”


“If anyone got a raw deal, it's you,” Lita said. “You didn’t really get a first chance, so you should have a second chance.” 

“Thank you,” Jasper replied. “Thank you for everything.”


“Thank you for trying to save me from going home,” Jasper admitted. “And for not voting for me...I overheard one of the interns discuss the votes.”

“The interns said that in front of you?” Lita asked. 

“They uh...don’t usually notice when I’m there,” Jasper replied. “I really appreciate you risking your game for me like that. It's the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me. Ever.”

Lita flicked her wrist. “Pssh, it ain’t no problem honey. Fat load of good it did; you still went home.”

“I’m still really grateful for it,” Jasper said. “It means a lot to me.”

Lita smiled, but sighed. 

“Is something wrong?” Jasper asked. 

“My...our former teammates wanted me to ask if you'd vote with us,” Lita confessed. 

“Oh,” Jasper said. “Really? I hadn’t thought about a vote yet. Do you want me to?”

Lita bit her lip. “The truth is, we probably need a vote. Still, I’m not going to lie to you; I don’t know if you should.”

“What do you mean?” Jasper asked. 

“You don’t owe us anything,” Lita replied. “We gave you a raw deal. We sent you home without getting to know you. We kept that witch Tessa just to vote her off next anyway.”

“You didn’t do that,” Jasper stated. 

“I didn’t save you though,” Lita replied. “If it was me, I’d be bitter. I wouldn’t want to work with the Fireworks. You have another chance at this, and if it's not in your best interests to work with us, then you shouldn’t throw your game away. Do what you need to do.” 

“Thank you for the honestly,” Jasper replied. “I have a lot to think about... but I’ll get back to you, I promise."

Lita smiled and stood up. “Thanks. I better go and get some shut eye; no telling what Rhonda plans for tomorrow. I’ll see you...and I really am glad you’re back.”

Jasper blushed. “ too.”

Riley yawned as she enter her room. “Hmm, Weston must be making out with his gf somewhere.”

There was a knock against the door. 

“Did he lose his card again?” Riley laughed. 

Outside the door stood Tessa. “Hey Riley.”

“Uh, hey. What up?”

“Do you maybe...want to grab some Mickey Ds?”

Riley stared, then smiled. “Yeah! I’m always up for some Mickey Ds!” 

The two girls soon made their way to the Mickey D's in the underground chamber. 

“No one but us stays at this hotel, and it's still open twenty-four hours,” Tessa stated. 

“Less of a wait,” Riley replied. “What are you going to get anyway?”

Tessa blushed. “I’m getting a sweet tea actually.” 

Riley laughed. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Tessa replied. “I...I thought a lot about what you said to me that night. I realized, you were right. I am really alone…”

“Why didn’t you try Tessa?” Riley asked. “Why did you attack Lita like that?”

“I don’t know,” Tessa admitted. “I guess maybe I was jealous and I thought...I mean Lita’s this beautiful athlete, she felt just like one of those cool girls in high school.”

“What do you mean?” Riley asked. 

“I was bullied a lot in high school,” Tessa said. “I was a few grades younger and I do come from a rich family, so everyone treated me like dirt. I didn’t have any friends. They made me feel like I was nothing, so I swore I would become special; I trained endlessly to win my gold medal. That way I could prove I was better, I could make them nothing…”

Tessa sighed and slumped down into a chair. “I thought I’d feel better, but I was still alone. I couldn’t shake this sad feeling no matter what. I thought coming to this show I could escape it. Now I realize it; I was the reason I felt awful and alone.”

“Sounds like you were projecting your own fears,” Riley said. 

Tessa nodded. “I’m too defensive. I was trying to protect myself from people I thought were the popular crew. People I didn’t even take the chance to know. I don't want to be alone. I don't want to be such a mean person anymore."

“So don’t."

“But...what if I can’t change?” Tessa asked. “I mean everything thinks I’m the worst, for good reason, so doesn’t that mean it's true?”

Riley pulled a strand of hair from Tessa’s head. 

“Uh, ouch!” 

“I’ve had enough of this pity party,” Riley replied. “Now you realize you were a tool and want to change, right?”

“That’s what I just said, yeah,” Tessa replied. 

“Admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it,” Riley replied. “You just have to try, and I’m sure the others will see that you’re not the same person.”

“You really think so?” Tessa asked. “ can I apologize to Lita? I think of everyone here I was the worst to her…”

Riley shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe make her a card?”

Tessa raised her eyebrows. “A card?”

“I don’t have all the answers,” Riley replied. “We’ll figure it out. Just know that right now, you’ve got a friend Sweet T.”

Tessa hugged Riley. “Thanks Riley! You really are the best.”

“I’ve been told that before."

In the hallway, Diamonique walked through the halls, deep in thought. “Now where was my room?”

“Hey Diamonique.”

Diamonique turned her head and smiled. “Well, if it isn’t my good friend Kalino.”

The surfer forced a laugh. “Hey, glad to have you back.”

“How sweet,” Diamonique replied. “It's a shame I got eliminated somehow, huh?”

Kalino looked down. “I just wanted to ask something, if I can.”

“Sure Kalino, old buddy, old pal.”

“So all the losers are sequestered together,” Kalino explained, “you haven’t...talked to Frannie have you?”

“Why?” Diamonique asked. 

Kalino sighed. “I guess she told you how I voted her off, huh?”

“You know she did mention it once or twice,” Diamonique admitted. “What of it?”

“You're her best friend,” Kalino stated, “ you think Frannie would ever forgive me?”

“Would you?” Diamonique asked.

“Honestly...yeah,” Kalino admitted. “I’m not one to hold a grudge. But I broke her trust...I don’t know if that can heal.”

Diamonique shrugged. “I don’t know. I can say, I don’t hold grudges either.” 

Kalino raised an eyebrow. “Yeah. What do you mean?”

“I’m saying, you’re somebody who cares about Frannie,” Diamonique stated. “Someone who seems regretful of what he did. Rumor is, you made some sort of promise for her. The same promise I’ve made to her; that if I win I’ll save her circus. That’s someone I wouldn’t mind getting far.” 

“Are you proposing an alliance?” Kalino asked. 

“Are you interested?” Diamonique asked. 

“Kalino scratched his soul patch. “Uuh, yeah sure! If you’re for it. We could work well together.”

Diamonique and Kalino shook hands. 

“I don’t trust Kalino as far as I can throw him,” Diamonique admitted. “And I could throw him really far, maybe a whole block or two. I know what that snake did to me and Frannie; I plan on cutting the head of the snake. But as they say, ‘keep your friends close...and keep your enemies closer.’ So I will for the time being...but I won’t let him in the final two. No, I have someone else in mind…”

Diamonique knocked on a door again and again, until it was answered. 

“Ignacio isn’t here,” Jasper stated. 

“I’m sure that stud wants to see me,” Diamonique replied. “However, I’m here for you.”

Once again, Diamonique pushed her way into a room and slammed the door behind her. 

“Diamonique?” the guy asked. 

“That’s my name,” Diamonique replied. “Yours is Jasper.”

“ is. You know that?”

Diamonique nodded. “I’m not going to forget it. We’re a lot alike Jasper. We’re the first ones our teams decided needed to lose. We’re the only ones who really need this second chance.”

“What about Tessa?” Jasper asked. “I don’t like her, but she was an early out too…”

“You mean the girl who got a second chance at the expense of yours?” Diamonique asked. “The girl who production chose personally cause she’s so special? She’s the worst; I don’t have any sympathy for her.”

“I don’t either,” Jasper replied. “She deserves to be here the least...but I guess I don’t really deserve to be here then. I didn’t earn it.”

“You deserve it,” Diamonique replied. “We both do. We were wrongfully voted out.”

Jasper rubbed the back of his head. “I don’t know about that. Maybe I was the first boot for a reason.”

Diamonique titled her head. “Remind me, who won the Fireworks their tie breaking point in the endurance test? Which without, they would have lost the first challenge. Who was the only reason they had a chance against the Eagles?”

“That...that was me,” Jasper said. “I won that point! I tied it!”

“You’re the whole reason we had a tiebreaker Jasper,” Diamonique stated. “Without you, the beginning of the game would be so different. The entire course of this show would be changed!”

“You remember I won that?” Jasper asked. 

“Of course,” Diamonique replied. “It's the same with me. Who won the Eagles the advantage of an extra point, and won the puzzle challenge in record time? Me. Did our teams remember our successes? No. They only remembered us when it was time to vote someone off.”

“It wasn’t fair!” Jasper shouted. “I always gave my best in the challenges! I got far in the Awake-a-thon, not that any noticed. I made the tiebreaker! Yet they voted me out for being a weak wasn’t fair.”

Diamonique nodded. “It wasn’t fair. They all saw us as weak links and losers. Even when we proved them wrong, they wouldn’t change their minds. We were only cannon fodder to them. Clowns to be laughed at, then shooed away when things got serious.”

“Did you hear them at dinner?” Jasper asked. “They talked about everyone who went home...everyone but me.” 

“They thought they could forget about you,” Diamonique stated. “They thought you didn’t matter anymore. They’re wrong. You’re special Jasper.”

“Me?” Jasper asked. “Special?”

“Of course,” Diamonique replied. “Don’t you see? They need you know. They need us both. The Eagles and The Fireworks are at a stalemate. They need our votes to get a majority. Their fates are entirely in our hands. We control who goes home now.”

“I never thought of it like that,” Jasper admitted. 

“They can’t forget about us now,” Diamonique stated. “But we need each other Jasper. We’re the only ones who know what it feels like to be forgotten and tossed aside. We need to form an alliance.” 

“An alliance?” Jasper asked. “I don’t know about that. It feels shady.”

“What don’t you know?” Diamonique asked. “Aren’t you tired of being mistreated?”

“I mean-”

“-Aren’t you tired of being underestimated?”

“I guess I am…”

“Aren’t you tired of being underappreciated?”


“Aren’t you tired of being looked down upon?”


“Aren’t you tired of being forgotten?”


“Of no one remembering you? Of being tossed aside?”

“Yeah, yes. Yes!”

“Of no one caring about you? Of being a reject, a loser, a nobody!”

“Yes! Yes!” 

“Then let’s change that,” Diamonique said. “Let’s make the final two.”

“You want to go with me to the final two?” Jasper asked. 

“You’re the only one I want to go with Jasper,” Diamonique replied. 


Diamonique chuckled. “I want to see them choke when they see the final two are the ‘early outs’. I want them to be beaten by the ‘pathetic creatures’ they’ve tossed aside.”

Jasper gulped. “You’ve a...really thought about this, huh Diamonique?”

Diamonique sighed and fell against the bed. She ran her fingers against the scars on her forehead. “I’m tired too Jasper. At Playa Des Losers, I had a lot of time to think. I realized this game went just like life.”

“What do you mean?” Jasper asked. 

“I don’t know if you noticed but I’m not always smart,” Diamonique said. “So people think I’m an fool. That I’m some dumb blonde! I’m not even a natural blonde! My hair just looks really good this way.”

“Is this all about your hair?” Jasper asked. 

“No,” Diamonique sighed. “This is about how the world sees us; the same way the people on this show saw us and the viewers probably saw us. We were just minor losers to them. Not that shocking, not that missed. I’ve always been overlooked in my life. I realized when we came back, you have too. People just see us as an idiot and a nobody.”

“That’s my life,” Jasper stated. 

"I’m not having it anymore.”

“Then...let’s make the final two!” Jasper stated, striking a heroic pose. “Um...if you really think we can?”

Diamonique laughed. “I’m positive.” 

In her office, Rhonda watched the cameras, smiling to herself. “This went better than I expected. I can salvage this show yet...especially with tomorrow’s special guests….hehehe...

Chapter 15 Wheel With The Devil

In a broom closet, a makeshift bed made from covers was sprawled across the floor. Rhonda stood beside it, her clothes on hangers holding onto pipes. Papers were scattered here and there. 

A mirror hung from one pipe. She looked at herself in the mirror, studying her face. A knock was heard at the door. 

“Come in.” 

Toby entered. “Hey, you ready? Our guests have arrived.”

“Good, good,” Rhonda replied. She didn’t look away from the mirror. 

Toby stares at her. “Are you…never mind.”


“Are you okay?” Toby asked. 

Rhonda smiled. “I’m better than okay. Didn’t you hear the latest ratings? We’ve made a huge incline; we’re stable. We’re even doing better than Canada.”

“You mean North Mexico?” Toby asked. 

Rhonda nodded. “To think earlier this summer I was in Canada, co-hosting their latest season as a requirement to host the American reboot. Waiting hand and foot on that egotistical producer Zac…now my show is crushing his. Who doesn’t know how to host now Zac?” 

“Was it really that bad?” Toby asked. 

“Well, this intern I worked with was cool,” Rhonda stated. “Mana...I hope he’s okay. And I guess…I didn’t hate Zac at first. I thought we were friends…and maybe he was right about what it takes to be a host. But I’m not the ugly duckling he thinks I am.” 

“Who cares what he thinks,” Toby stated. 

“Yeah, you’re right,” Rhonda replied. “The point is, after all the hoops I had to jump through…after what I had to give up, I’m here. I made it. It was all worth it.”

“I guess so,” Toby said with a shrug.

“I mean don’t get me wrong,” Rhonda stated. “I couldn’t have done it without you or Jenny. You guys were right here with me.”

Toby turned away. “It’s not like we had anything better to do.” 

Rhonda laughed. “That’s true. Still, you have to feel good about this, right? We actually made the merge, on primetime, with good ratings!”

“I don’t feel good,” Toby replied. “I don’t feel anything. This is just another reality show, and it's not turning out how we planned either.” 

“This isn’t any old show,” Rhonda stated. “Its Total Drama! The phenomenon! My favorite show from growing up. And we’re actually doing it, we’re hosting it.”

“Is that why you did this?” Toby asked. “I mean after what happened with you and this show, I guess…”

“What?” Rhonda asked. “The Canadian season wasn’t going to make me quit, although they did want me to continue co-hosting.”

Toby shook his head. “No, I mean before that. With what happened then…why do it again? Why subject yourself to this humiliation. Why…”

Rhonda’s mirror fell off the pipe and shattered on the ground. 

“That doesn’t count for seven years of bad luck, does it?” Rhonda asked. 

“I’ll sweep it,” Toby stated. “Get out there; the newcomers should meet you at the stage in a few minutes.”

Rhonda nodded. She walked out the doorway and stopped for a moment, before shaking her head and walking off. From the corner of his eye, Toby watched her. 

At the theatre, the newcomers gathered on top of the stage. They noticed a group of wooden bleachers to the right, but worrying about a trap, stood to the side. 

Weston tried to peek behind the curtain, but was swatted away by Jenny’s hand. 

Rhonda ran out, dressing in a yellow evening gown. It was fancier than what she usually wore, but the yellow was bright and gaudy, and looked tackier then she probably realized. 

“Morning everyone!” Rhonda greeted. “Who’s ready for the first challenge of the merge!”

“Woo!” Riley cheered. She was the only one to do so.

"Before we get to that," Rhonda said. "I have a surprise! It’s the reward for the winner of this challenge!”

“You mean there’s more besides the room and hot butler?” Ness asked, blushing as she realized what she said. 

Rhonda nodded. “Much more. I figured with a challenge like this, we should have a live audience so-

“-you sold tickets for it like the other challenge?” Weston asked. 

Rhonda facepalmed. “Crap, why didn’t I think of that?” 

“Before we die from suspense, from what I’m sure will totally not suck, could you explain what you have planned already?” Tessa asked. 

“Like I said, we wanted a live audience,” Rhonda stated. “But more than that…recently some of you had the chance to talk to your loved ones. That touched my heart… it touched all our hearts. Which is why, your friends, family and old acquaintances…are here.”

“Wait…whattttt?” Kalino asked. 

Melissa gasped. “Really?  Truly and really Ms. Rhonda?” 

Vance’s eyes grew wide. “You don’t mean…”

“Behind this curtain are you loved ones!” Rhonda announced. “After all this time, you have the chance to get a little love. Are you ready?”

The newcomers reacted with a mix of cheers and looks of horror. 

“So who’s first?” Rhonda asked. 

Melissa jumped in place. “Ooh! Ooh! Me please! I mean, if everyone doesn’t mind…”

Rhonda smirked. “Melissa’s loved one…come on out!” 

Melissa clapped while jumping at the same time. “I’m so excited to see my mom!”

“Well prepare to be disappointed…”

From behind stage a short teenage girl walked out. She seemed to resemble Melissa physically. At the same time, she wore black clothing, had teal streaks in her hair and wore heavy eyeliner. “It's your younger sister Beatrice!”

Melissa squealed, running up and glomping her sister. “Eeeee! This is just as good. I missed you Bea! How have you been?”

“Fine,” Beatrice replied. “I still live in Washington; it’s not like I won’t see you again.”

“You look wonderful!” Melissa stated, tightening her hug around her sister. “I love your new hair. You’re rocking the goth look!”

“I’m not goth anymore,” Beatrice stated. “That was like ages ago; I’m punk now.”

“That’s so cute Bea,” Melissa replied. 

Beatrice groaned. “Oh my godddddddd, you never understand me.”

“My sister is really sweet,” Melissa stated. “She can be a little...dramatic, but she is teenager just trying to fit in. I know I was weird as a teenager...or am. I’m just happy to see her! I’m sure the others feel the same about their family members too!”

“Lita, you’re next,” Rhonda stated. ”You have two members who came to see you...your mom and your brother Roscoe!”

Lita gasped and started to tear up. From behind the curtain, a heavy set African American woman walked out. Her face showed a lot of age, as did her brown eyes. In front of her she pushed a young boy, about twelve years old, in a wheelchair. 

Lita ran forward and hugged the boy. “Oh my god Roscoe! I can’t believe you’re here!”

“I’m here for you sis,” Roscoe laughed. “You didn’t think I was going to miss you kick butt, did you? You are gonna kick butt right?”

“Of course,” Lita laughed. “Anything for my little brother.”

“So...I insulted her mother,” Tessa recalled. “And her brother, saying they’re probably messed up. Her brother... who is in a wheelchair…”

Tessa beats her head against the wall.

“Next we have Xidorn…and Xidorn’s dad!” Rhonda stated. 

Xidorn raised an eyebrow. “My father?”

A middle aged Vietnamese man walked out from backstage. He was overweight and slightly balding. He wore glasses and had a dark beard. He smiled and waved a little at Xidorn.

“It's good to see you son,” the man stated. 

“Uh, good to see you dad,” Xidorn replied. “How have you been?”

“Ooh, you know...good,” Xidorn’s father replied. “You?”

“Yeah...I’ve been good,” Xidorn replied.

Xidorn’s dad shuffled up to him. He stood there for a few moments, then went in for a hug with the unexpected Xidorn. After a confused moment, he hugged him back. 

“It's not that I’m not happy to see my dad,” Xidorn explained. “To be honest, I’m just shocked to see him here. Or giving hugs; he doesn’t like to express feelings very much. We don’t really have the best relationship. He doesn’t really get me…”

“Not the heartwarming reunion I was going for,” Rhonda stated, “but I’ll take it. Now then who’s next…”

“You should totally do Riley,” a voice loudly whispered from backstage. 

“Woah, is that my brother Pat?” Riley asked. 

“No, no it isn’t,” Rhonda stated. “Pay no attention to the voice from behind the curtain…”

“Pat are you back there?” Riley asked.

“ I’m not. My name is…Mat.”

Rhonda facepalmed. “Just come on out Pat.”

Running out from backstage looked like an older, male version of Riley; tall, dark skinned, half of his head shaved, lip, nose and ear piercings here and there and sleeve tattoos on both arms. He picked up Riley in his arms and squeezed her tight. “Riley! Oh I missed you sooooooo much man. I can’t believe it! I swore you look so grown up and junk...did you grow any?”

Riley chuckled. “No Pat! I missed you too Scarlett Bro’hara. You got to meet my peeps! This is Loch Ness, Lightning Lita, Iggy Pop and Gris Bear…you can put me down now Pat.”

Pat squeezed her tight. “Nope, not happening.” 

“Diamonique we have two special guests here for you,” Rhonda stated. “Your mother and father!”

Out from backstage walked a man and woman in their mid-forties. They looked like typical upper-class suburban people, wearing designer white clothes. Both had light blonde hair, pale blue eyes and pale skin. The father wore a small cowboy hat.

“Those are Diamonique’s parents?” Weston whispered. “Hmm...I can see it.”

“You can?” Ness whispered. 

“They all have blond hair,” Weston replied. “Hair color is serendipity after all.”

“You mean hereditary?” Ness asked.

“Ooh, cause of their hair,” Weston said with a wink. 

“Oh my stars,” Diamonique’s mother cheered, hugging her daughter. “Our little diamond. We missed you so much sweetie. Are you okay, we were so worried!”

“Psh, I’m fine,” Diamonique replied. 

“Are you sure?” Diamonique’s father asked, joining in the hug. “They’ve been feeding you good, haven’t they?” 

Diamonique shrugged. “I mean, it’s been alright…”

Diamonique’s parents gasped, her father almost fainting in her mother’s hands. They pulled their daughter in for another hug.

“Yeah,” Diamonique stated in a close up, “My parents are a little smothering, but I like it. They own like…fifty fast food joints in my town, so we’re basically loaded. Plus, I get all the free Mickey D’s I want. They’ve been good to me ever since they adopted me. And I’ve been the perfect daughter to them.”

The camera zoomed out, revealing Diamonique’s parents still hugging her. “She sure is!”

“Now Weston,” Rhonda stated. “Last time we talked to loved ones, you had to miss out.” 

“Yeah,” Weston sighed. “Is that the case this time?”

“No,” Rhonda stated. “No it is not.”

Weston gasped. “You mean my mom or dad are here?” 

“Not them…”

From behind the stage, Easton walked out. He crossed his arms. 

“Easton!” Riley cheered.

“My man!” Griswold hollered. 

Weston pouted. “Aww come on! I just got rid of him!” 

“You didn’t do anything,” Easton replied. “If I recall, I beat you every time we faced each other in challenges.” 

“If I recall, you were still voted off by your team,” Kalino stated. “Meaning Weston still placed better than you.”

Weston smiled at Kalino, who replied with a finger pistol and wink.

“We were going to bring in your parents,” Rhonda stated, “but this was cheaper.” 

“You wasted your time,” Weston said. “I don’t want to see him.” 

“And I didn’t want to see you,” Easton replied. “I’m just here to cheer on my bros...and watch you lose.”

The two twins shot each other glares, before Easton took his seat in the audience. 

“You know with time I thought it would get better,” Griswold stated. “It actually got worse. Wow.” 

“Let’s move on,” Rhonda stated. “Tessa...there is actually someone here who wants to see you.”

Walking out from backstage was a tall, Indian girl in a sparkling red dress. She forced a smile, but didn’t look directly at Tessa.

“Eeeee!” Tessa squealed.

She ran forward to embrace her friend, but fell on her face as her friend stepped to the side. 

“I’m so happy to see you Ashley,” Tessa mumbled on the floor. 

“Uh, yeah,” Ashley replied. 

“Ashley is my best friend,” Tessa stated. “And I guess...she’s my only friend. We met at the Olympics, she’s an ice skater for the US. Super talented, definitely deserves better than that silver medal. That stupid judge and its crossed eyes didn’t know jack squat.”

“Ignacio,” Rhonda stated. “Are you ready to see your loved one?”

Ignacio smiled and step forward. “Yes! Ooh, who is it? My mom? My dad? Both? My siblings?”

“Let’s find out,” Rhonda replied. “Come on out!”

Ignacio’s smile immediately dropped. A beautiful Hispanic girl stepped out, strutting up in her high heels to the male model. She shot him a glare. “Surprise.”

“Carla!” Ignacio yelped. “What are you...doing here?”

“Its nice to see you too Ignacio,” she replied. 

“Who is Carla?” Vance asked.

“I’m Ignacio’s ex-girlfriend,” Carla stated. “And I’ve been watching the show, seeing him form a new little harem just after we broke up. So not humiliating to hear you talk about me while flirting on national television.” 

“Hey,” Ness said. “Ignacio isn’t flirting-”

Carla shot a death glare at the jinx, who immediately gulped. “I mean, mud wrestling, flashing, stripping every second you get...I always knew you were a pervert Ignacio.”

“Carla please,” Ignacio stated. “I would never try to hurt you. I-”

“-I’m not hurt,” Carla replied. “Just shamed. So thanks for that.” 

She stomped off stage to sit with the other loved ones in the audience, ‘accidentally’ stepping on Ignacio’s foot in the process.

“Aww so sweet,” Rhonda laughed. “So, who wants to go next?” 

Griswold was the only one to raise his hand, while the other five stepped back. 

“Am I going to regret this?” Griswold asked. 

Rhonda shrugged. “Who knows? Who do you think is here?”

Griswold scratched his chin. “Well, you had me chat to my football one of them? My football captain?” 

“Uh, wrong!”

“Super wrong!”

Walking out from behind the curtain were identical twin girls, around ten years old. They wore matching pink dresses, and had their hair in pigtails with bows. They had brown hair, the same color as Griswold’s. 

“Haylee! Kaylee!” Griswold cheered, he scooped the two girls up into a big bear hug. 

“Now who are these little angels?” Rhonda asked. 

The two girls spit on Rhonda’s face. 

“Kaylee, Haylee, that wasn’t very nice,” Griswold stated. 

“But Gris,” Haylee said, “we just wanted to show you how far we can spit!”

“Yeah, we’ve been practicing!” Kaylee stated. “Don’t you think we did good?” 

Griswold sat them down and rustled their hair. “Aww, I can’t stay mad at you two. Your spitting was amazing!”

Rhonda wiped her face on her arm. “Yeah, amazing. You two can sit down now.” 

The two girls gave Griswold a kiss on each cheek, then blew a raspberry to Rhonda before taking their seats. 

“Now let’s see,” Rhonda said. “Our next lucky newcomer is...Ness.”

“The best case scenario is its my older brother,” Ness stated. “It probably wouldn’t be though, cause he wouldn’t want people to know we’re how he pretends he doesn’t know me at school. It’s best for his safety really…”

Coming out from stage left was a young, Adonis of a man. Even his blonde hair was perfectly styled. 

“It’s your stepdad Markie!” 

Ness blushed. “Well that’s alright. It could-”


“-And your dad, Richard.”

Walking right behind Markie was an older man, in his mid-forties, with darker brown hair. He was in pretty good shape for his age. He had a long beard and mustache combo. 

“Woah,” Weston stated. “Ness’ dad is a male cougar.” 

Markie ran up and crushed Ness into a headlock with one of his biceps. He gave her a noogie on her head. “How’s my stepdaughter who is also my best friend?”

“Running...out of...air,” Ness gasped. 

Markie set her down, and she tried to breathe again.

“Hey Markie,” Ness greeted in-between pants. “Good to see you too.”

“Aww come on Ness,” Markie laughed. “You can call me dad, or best friend, or best friend dad!”

Richard walked behind him and forced a smile. “Wow Ness...I’m so amazed you here.”

Ness hugged her father. “Hey dad.”

“I honestly thought you’d be the first boot,” Richard admitted. “It might have been safer if you actually were.” 

“Thanks dad,” Ness sighed. “But I really am fine. I’ve been...okay out here.”

Richard shook his head. “Really?”

Markie shot Richard a look. “We’re just worried. Remember the last time you spent the night away...besides overnight at the hospital.”

“Please don’t keep going,” Ness begged. 

“Oh it wasn’t a big deal,” Markie replied. “So you peed your pants at camp when you were eleven. You just missed home!”

Ness couldn’t hide how red her face was in her hands. 

“We’re not trying to embarrass you dear,” Richard said. “You just have a knack know.”

“We brought extra underoos for you,” Markie stated. 

“Well that ain’t necessary,” Lita stated. “Because she hasn’t peed the bed. She has been killing it on this show.”

“Literally?” Richard sighed. “Is another environmental rights group trying to sue you for the injuries animals get while attacking you?”

“I meant she’s been doing amazing on the show,” Lita said. 

“Who are you?” Markie asked. 

Lita stared Markie down. “I’m Ness’ bestest best friend ever. And her roommate.”

“Uh, sure you are…” Markie replied, raising an eyebrow.

“Please just go sit with the others,” Ness stated. “We’ll catch up later.”

“But what about your extra underwear?” Markie asked. “We bought it special for you, along with some new rash ointments…”

Later.” Ness stated. 

The two dads nodded and departed. 

“Just say the word,” Lita whispered. “And I’ll punch Markie is in his stupid, perfectly sculpted jaw.”

“It is perfect, isn’t it?” Ignacio pondered. 

“I think this is a torture far worse than the actual challenge,” Ness admitted. 

“It’s not over yet,” Rhonda stated. “We have one last special guest…”

Walking out from backstage, was a young woman, slightly older than the teens, dressed in a black sweater neatly tucked into her cargo pants, her black hair done up in a bun. She walked with her nose held in the air, adjusting her thick frames as she stared down her brother. 

“Iolana,” Kalino stated.

“Surprised to see me baby brother,” Iolana stated. 

“Hardly,” Kalino replied. “Mom and dad are too busy, and it's just like you to stick your nose in here. Especially since they cast me for the show, instead of you.” 

“You and your sister auditioned for the show?” Xidorn asked.

“More like I auditioned and Kalino decided to copy me,” Iolana said. “He’s never had an original idea in his life.”

Kalino shrugged. “They still cast me over you.”

“Every show needs a heathen,” Iolana stated. “You know, someone for the audience to laugh at their misfortune. For once you’ve actually done an amazing job; I’ve been watching.”

Iolana sauntered off the stage with a satisfied smirk. 

“Don’t worry bud,” Vance whispered. “She’s obviously jealous.”

“And crazy,” Kalino growled.

“I feel you,” Vance replied. “Older sisters suck.” 

“I don’t know about all of you,” Rhonda started, “but my heart has been warmed. Unfortunately I have some bad news for you three. We-”

Jenny rushed out from behind the curtain. She whispered into Rhonda’s ear, whose eyes grew huge. She gulped as Jenny darted away. 

“Ooh dear lord...I mean good news,” Rhonda stated. “We were actually able to find a loved one for you Cynthia...or they found us. So let’s meet your...your...your…”

“My mother,” Cynthia stated, as if she had been expecting this news. 

A collective gasp quietly wheezed out of the contestants throats, the color running from their face. Despair hung over the entire room like an albatross around their neck. Fear had taken hold of everyone.

Except Melissa, who cheered. “Ooh! This is so exciting!”

“Oh no,” Weston sighed. “Isn’t it too early for me to meet her parents?”

“Don’t worry Weston,” Melissa stated. “I’m sure Cynthia’s parents are just like her.”

“That’s why I’m afraid,” Weston whispered. 

The curtains rustled for a moment, being pushed back and forth. “Cynthia...” 

“Hello mother.” 

A figure stepped out. 

“Eeeeeee!” Cynthia’s mother squealed, glomping her daughter in a big hug. 

“Wait...what?” Rhonda asked. 

Cynthia’s mother had white hair, just like Cynthia’s hair. She looked young, wearing a floral dress and a pink apron with kittens decorating it. She carried a heart shaped handbag with smiling, baby angels winking in the middle. The woman beamed a bright smile as she hugged Cynthia. She was like a 1950s sitcom mom.

“That’s...that’s your mom Cynthia?” Xidorn asked. 

“Teehee,” Cynthia’s mom giggled. “The resemblance is uncanny, huh?”

“,” Xidorn stated. “Not at all.”

“You do have a similar face structure,” Ignacio admitted. “Minus the whole expressiveness of your face. Your hair is the same color as well…”

Cynthia’s mom pouted. “I know! My poor Cynthy Winthy gets it from me. Our hair got white prematurely; runs in our family. I’m sure you kids already know that of course.” 

“I for sure didn’t think it was because of blood magic,” Vance stated. 

Cynthia’s mother pinched her daughter's cheek. “How is my frosted cupcake?”

“Fine,” Cynthia replied. 

“That’s my little girl,” Cynthia’s mom stated. “Always such a trooper. Which reminds me, would you kids like any lemon squares?”

From her handbag, Cynthia’s mother pulled out a china plate covered in tinfoil. She removed it, releasing the scent of fresh baked goods. 

“I would love some,” Melissa cheered. “I bake all the time actually, but can never get good lemon squares.”

“There my specialty,” Cynthia’s mom replied. “But I try to bake everything, haha. Would the rest of you kids like some?”

“Uhh...what’s in them?” Kalino asked. 

“Oh,” Cynthia’s mother stated. “Well, there are lemons from the little lemon tree in my grove. Then lots of sugar, a wee bit of cinnamon, and my secret”

Kalino stared at this woman and her plate of lemon squares. “I’m still terrified of you.” 

“Huh?” Cynthia’s mom asked. 

“Mmmm,” Melissa sighed. “These are scrumptiously amazing! You’ll have to share the recipe with me; we use a lot of the same ingredients.”

The two shared a laugh, that sounded almost the same. 

“Cynthia, are you friends with this sweetheart?” her mother asked. 

“We’re actually BFFFLs!” Melissa replied.

“Awwww,” Cynthia’s mom sighed. “That’s so adorable!”

“Thank you for coming woman who claims to be Cynthia’s mom,” Rhonda stated. “If you would, have a seat in the audience.”

Yes mam,” Cynthia’s mom replied. She blew a kiss to Cynthia. “That’s for good luck Cynthy Winthy! You don’t need it, but I still want you to have it because I love you.”

“She’s somehow more scary then I could even imagine,” Kalino stated. 

Rhonda cleared her throat. “Now as I was saying, Johnson and Vance. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get any loved ones to be here for you.” 

Jasper sighed, but Vance sighed in relief. 

“My parents couldn’t make it, could they?” Jasper asked. 

Rhonda shook her head. “They said they already had plans today.”

“Did they say anything else?” Jasper asked. 

“No,” Rhonda replied. 

“I thought so,” Jasper said. 

“We tried to get your brother to attend,” Rhonda said. “Really, really, bad. But despite all the effort, we couldn’t find an opening in his schedule. His manager said he was very busy.” 

Jasper shrugged. 

“As for you Vance,” Rhonda stated. “We tried to find a loved one for you...but we couldn’t get in contact with any of your family members. The rodeo has a show going on, so no one could come from there either.”

“Yeah, we don’t have telephones on the ranch,” Vance explained. “So you probably couldn’t get in touch with my folks. That’s what happened.”

Rhonda shakes her head. “Actually when we-”

“-That’s what happened,” Vance stated. 

“Okay,” Rhonda replied. “Well, then let’s get started!”

Most of the audience clapped. The newcomers took their seats on the bleachers. 

“Today’s challenge will be a classic from the first season,” Rhonda stated. “In fact, it’s the first merge challenge in the history of the Total Drama franchise! This is a rite of passage for you all. The Wheel Of Misfortune!”

The newcomers cringed as a roulette wheel rose from under the stage. It was divided into several sections, each showing a symbol of some sort, from banana peels to pearl necklaces to mountains. They were all different, except for five sections that each depicted a pentagram star. 

“Is this challenge bad?” Lita asked. 

“If you consider a wheel of tortures bad,” Xidorn stated, “then yes.”

Lita frowned. “Is there someone who doesn’t?” 

“As you may recall,” Rhonda said, “the rules for the Wheel of Misfortune are simple; a player spends the wheel and must endure or complete the torture they land on. If you succeed, you pass the round. If you fail, you’re out of the challenge. Simple?” 

The others nodded. 

“Good,” Rhonda stated. “Now there are a few differences with this version than the original. First, is a new rule; if you happen to spin the wheel and land on a torture you’ve already done, you can choose to skip your turn or spin again.”

Tessa raised an eyebrow. “Why would you spin again?”

“If it comes down to it,” Rhonda explained, “the newcomer that completes all the tortures first wins. I’ll be honest that there are a lot of them, so we probably won’t go that long. But just in case, we have that as a backup. A person who does skip their turn will have to go early next round.”

“What order are we going in?” Griswold asked. 

“I’ll randomly pick who goes except for those exceptions,” Rhonda admitted. 

“I honestly hate to ask,” Xidorn admitted, “but in the original version you could force someone else to complete a torture. Is that still true?” 

“Sharp memory Xidorn,” Rhonda stated. “That’s true, and you can force someone else to do a torture. But the rules are a little different. You’ll notice that like our hotel, this wheel has five stars. If you land on a star, you can force any other newcomer to do any torture. Your choice.

"If you chose someone who hasn’t gone yet, they’ll have to complete your torture, and another for this round. You can even choose someone who skipped. However, if they succeed in beating your torture, you’re out. They’ll also get their next spin towards the end of the next round.”

Rhonda eyed the newcomers carefully. “Now let’s see who's first. Eenie...meenie...minie...Ness.”

Ness gulped as she took a step forward. She peered out into the audience, seeing her father Richard shaking his head. She approached the wheel and tried to spin it, but it only spun a little ways. She landed on an apple. 

“Is that bad?” Ness asked.

“It’s actually something easy to start us off with,” Rhonda replied. “You’ll be bobbing for apples!”

From an array of buttons installed on her podium, Rhonda pressed a red button. A large basin rose out of the stage, with green, red and yellow apples floating at the top.

“Using only your mouth, gather three apples in one minute,” Rhonda explained. 

“That’s not a torture,” Ness replied.

“It is if you hate applies,” Rhonda countered. 

Ness approached the basin. Taking a loose strand of hair, she dunked it in the water like a fishing pole...till a long creature ate it. 

“Eek!" Ness screamed. “Is that another electric eel?”

“It’s actually a slime eel,” Rhonda replied. “More commonly known as the hagfish.”

“Are they dangerous?” Ness asked.

“They usually only eat carrions,” Ignacio said from the stands. “Dead things. Their main defense is the slime they secrete that-”

“Quiet from the peanut gallery,” Rhonda yelled. “Ignacio is right, they usually tear chunks from corpses...but these little guys are hungrier for fresher meat. Your time starts now.”

Ness gulped, grabbing her hair by its end before submerging her face into the water. She pulled out an apple then went back for another. From the stands, her stepdad covered his eyes.

“Thirty seconds left,” Rhonda announced as Ness got a second apple. She dove for a third, but coughed out a hagfish. Slime covered her lips and chin. She tried for a third, but it slipped from the slime. 

“Ten seconds!” Rhonda announced.

Ness dove back in and started to pull out a hagfish...

“And it looks like Ness has-”

...that was biting into an apple. 

“-won the challenge?” the hostess asked.

“Yesss!” Lita cheered.

The audience clapped, as Markie and Richard shared a look. 

“I did it!” Ness giggled. “Thanks little guy. Now let’s get you back in here…”

The hagfish hissed, biting Ness’ finger before diving back into the basin.

I was hoping for an easy loss to start,” Rhonda thought. “But these kids might making things interesting.

Lita and Ness high-fived as she took her seat. “I know you could do it girl.”

“Next we’ll have...Jonah Jameson,” Rhonda stated.

Jasper sighed and spun the wheel. “At least she remembered I was a contestant…”

The wheel stopped and landed on a coal. A pathway of hot coals surfaced from under the stage. They crinkled and burned bright.

“You have a minute to walk this entire path of burning hot coals barefoot,” Rhonda explained. “If you jump off even once, you fail.”

Jasper nodded, tossing off his shoes. He reached the starting line and began crossing the coals at a slow pace. With a blank look and a steady pace, he walked across just before the timer ended. 

“Ouch,” Jasper said, rubbing his feet.

“Dude,” Riley stated. 

“How did he walk across that?” Kalino asked. “Also, who is that?” 

“Didn’t that hurt?” Rhonda asked.

“Yeah,” Jasper replied. “That’s why I said ouch.”

Rhonda stared dumbfounded. “ passed somehow. I guess we go on…”

“Yeah, the coals hurt,” Jasper said. “They were burning hot so...they burned. But honestly I was kinda distracted that so many people were watching me. The last time that many people noticed me was at the movies when someone finally realized I wasn’t actually a chair.”

Diamonique approached the wheel now. She gave it a hard spin, and it landed on a mountain.

“For your challenge Diamonique,” Rhonda explained, “you’ll have a minute to try and ring a bell at the top of a rock climbing wall.”

An extremely tall rock climbing wall rose up from the ground. At the tip was a tiny bell. A harness was attached, along with a corresponding helmet. 

“Oh, and be sure to watch out for any earthquakes when you-”

“Uhhh!” Diamonique screamed. She stepped back, then charged forward and knocked against the wall with all of her weight. She backed up again and threw herself against the wall again. The wall toppled over, almost hitting the other newcomers. Diamonique stomped over and kicked the bell at the end. 

“Done,” Diamonique replied with a hair flip.

“You didn’t even climb the wall,” Vance said.

“That wasn’t a rule,” Diamonique replied. “Just to ring the bell.”

“I’ll allow it,” Rhonda stated. “But none of the rest of you can knock it down. Otherwise it won’t last.”

“That’s our girl!” Diamonique’s mom cheered from the audience. 

“Diamonique isn’t the brightest,” her father admitted. “Sometimes she can be pretty clever, especially when it’s finding ways to do less work.”

“But we know she’s talented,” Diamonique’s mother added. “We want everyone to see it. And we especially don’t want Diamonique to believe she isn’t talented because of the hardships she’s had to face or how...unique she is.”

Kalino approached the wheel next. He barely gave it a spin, actually slumping backwards and landing on red ropes. 

“I’m excited for this one,” Rhonda admitted. “For this one, you’ll be running a gauntlet.”

“One of those big punchy fist things?” Kalino asked. 

“Hardly,” Iolana shouted from the crowd. “A gauntlet is also a term for getting through a dangerous crowd. Historically, the military had a soldier run past two lines of men who would flog the runner with sticks.”

“So I’m going to get flogged for this torture?” Kalino asked. 

“No,” Rhonda replied. “But you will have a minute to run past two lines of…”

Now appearing was a group of rabid, Total Drama fangirls. They were separated into two lines by red velvet ropes that could hardly contain them. They screamed and shouted, a few even fainting, as they saw the newcomers.

“...some our most ‘excited fans’.”

“I would have preferred the flogging,” Iolana whispered. 

“Eeee!” a fangirl squealed. “Kalino is coming! He’s like my dream guy”

“Omg me too,” another fangirl agreed. “I’m so attracted to guys who act bad because their damaged that I can try to fix.”

“Uhh...I just meant cause he was cute and wears an open shirt,” the other fangirl replied. 

“Remember fans,” Rhonda stated, “any clothes, personal objects or hair you snag, you get to keep! Kalino you have one minute.”

Kalino tried to say something, but was drowned out by squealing. He started running, but soon found himself caught in the arms of the fans. 

“Back off, I want his shirt,” a fangirl growled.

Over your dead body,” another replied. “I’m going to wear his Hawaiian T-shirt before I sleep every night!”

Kalino laughed and slid out of his shirt. “Mannnnn, if you want my clothes, you can have them.”

Iolana groaned and covered her face. “Please tell me he isn’t going to-”


Kalino tossed off the rest of his clothes into the crowd, who began dogpiling each other. In the nude again, he dashed forward...most of the fans too embarrassed or busy staring to grab for him. 

“And in just the nick of time Kalino makes it,” Rhonda announced. “Unfortunately, we don’t have time for you to get a change of clothes. So you’ll have to compete naked for the rest of the challenge.”

Kalino gave a thumbs-up. “Sounds choice.” 

“Melissa, you’re next,” Rhonda announced. 

Melissa approached the wheel cautiously, spinning it slowly. It landed on a salad bowl. 

“Eep!” Melissa exclaimed, as she was suddenly sitting in a chair with a table in front of her.

Toby slumped out from backstage wearing a droopy chef’s hat. He sat a covered silver platter in front of Melissa.

“You have one minute to eat today’s special; chef salad al a cafard.”

Toby lifted the tray, revealing a salad crawling with small cockroaches.

“A cockroach salad?” Melissa asked, already trying not to vomit. 

“They're fresh to,” Rhonda said. “Born less than a week ago.” 

Toby set a fork next to her. “You can kill it with the fork or swallow it raw. Either is passable.” 

Melissa stared at the salad. The tiniest cockroach looked up and her and almost waved its antennae. 

“I don’t think I can do it,” Melissa admitted.

“Uggghhhh,” Melissa’s sister groaned. “Don’t be such a wimp for once! They’re just roaches.”

“Roaches are living creatures too,” Melissa replied.

“They only live for like a year or less,” Beatrice said.

“So I should end it prematurely?” Melissa asked. “That doesn’t seem right. Besides, as a Muslim we can’t even eat roaches.”

“Ignore that,” Beatrice replied. “This is a million dollars we’re talking about!”

“We know I don’t have a strong stomach, so I’d probably fail,” Melissa said. “No point in senselessly killing these little sweeties either.”

Melissa grabbed the salad bowl and walked off. Beatrice rolled her eyes in the audience.

“What are you doing with the salad?” Xidorn asked.

“If I leave them, someone else will just eat these precious little garbage dumplings,” Melissa replied.

“We finally have a loser,” Rhonda announced. She pressed a button, causing Melissa to be be placed in wooden stocks. 

“Just like in the original challenge, you’ll be placed in stocks if you’re out. Thankfully the hotel has plenty on hand for us to use. Up next is...Riley.”

“Sweet!” Riley cheered. She spun the wheel. As it landed, Riley’s eyes grew wide and her smile faded.

“I try to be cool about most things,” Riley admitted. “I don’t let a lot get to me; it’s not worth it. But...I am afraid of one thing. Nobody but my brothers know because they were there. When I was seven, I decided to practice my ollies at the zoo. I accidentally fell into an exhibit and was attacked…”

The wheel landed on a symbol of an exotic green feather. “Peacocks…”

A large birdcage rose from under the stage. Inside was a male peacock with only one eye. It cawed and raised its tails feathers. 

Riley gulped and shook in place. “What do I...what do I have to do.”

“You have a minute to get inside the cage and gather three feathers from this peacock,” Rhonda stated. “If he’ll let you…”

Riley nodded. Slowly, she shuffled to the cage. As she held out her hand, the peacock screeched. She pulled back her hand and shook in place. “I...I can’t do it.”

“Really?” Rhonda asked. “I kind of expected more from you in this challenge. Oh well then you-”

“Wait!” Griswold announced. “I’ll do it instead.”

Griswold stomped forward, staring down the peacock. “In the original challenge, someone was able to volunteer for someone else. So there should be no rule against me doing the same.”

“I knew something was wrong with the way Riley was acting,” Griswold explained. “She’s cool with most everything, it’s one of the many things that makes her so awesome. I don’t know what’s up with peacocks and her, but I just couldn’t let her give up…”

Rhonda tapped her chin, weighing the idea for a moment. “Fine. If you succeed, Riley stays in. You’ll still have to do another torture this round however. If you fail, Riley and you are out. That is, if Riley allows you to.” 

“Gris Bear you can’t be serious,” Riley stated. “Don’t throw your chances just for me.”

“Trust me,” Griswold replied with a wink.

“Alright,” Riley said, "go for it.” 

Griswold tiptoed to the cage, then threw open the door. He tackled the peacock, the started ripping out feathers. The peacock cried and started pecking his head. The timer buzzed and Griswold stumbled out, two feathers in hand.

“Hold on a second,” Griswold stated. He reached into his pompadour and pulled out a final peacock feather.

“Congratulations,” Rhonda replied. “You both passed...for now.”

“Griswold really saved my bacon today,” Riley admitted. “He was just so amazing with the way he body slammed that foul fowl. Plus, the way he carried that feather out in his cute hairstyle.”

Riley sighed and held her head in her hands. She frowned and her eyes grew wider and wider.

“Oh no...oh crap, crap, crap. I think...I actually might have feelings for Griswold? Stupid teenage hormones!”

“Up next, let’s have Cynthia.”

“You got this cupcake!” her mother cheered from the crowd. 

Cynthia spun the wheel in one fast motion. It slowed down and with a creak, landed on the image of a pearl necklace. The ground under Cynthia shook.

A trench of swampy water opened underneath Cynthia, reaching her knees. It was too cloudy to see through.

“Eww,” Tessa sighed, pinching her nose. “Why does it reek?”

“You sure you’re not smelling yourself?” Lita grumbled.

“You have two minutes to find the pearl necklace in this sewage water imported from New York,” Rhonda said. “Good luck.”

Cynthia slowly started wading through the water with her hands. She yanked, pulling up the pearl necklace...that was wrapped around the tooth of a giant, mutated sewer gator. 

“Did I forget to mention we also got that from New York?” Rhonda asked.

The ginormous gator growled. Cynthia didn’t flinch. Slowly she stepped towards it. It growled again, but Cynthia kept moving. From her pocket she brandished a small knife. The gator’s eyes grew wide as it realized it was too late; it was at Cynthia’s mercy. And Cynthia had no mercy. 

Thirty seconds later, Cynthia was dragging its decapitated head out of the water and behind her. She tossed the necklace to Rhonda, and gifts to Weston, Melissa and her mother.

“I used the leftover alligator skin from flaying it alive to make you these gifts,” Cynthia stated. “Weston, a gator skin belt. Mom, a gator skin purse. And Melissa, a gator skin apron.”

“Awww, thanks Cynthia,” Melissa replied. “You’re just too thoughtful.”

“My Cynty Winthy is the sweetest, isn’t she?” Cynthia’s mom asked. “Making a gift for me and her friends! When she was just two she’d make me all sorts of things out of the stuff she maimed. Really takes me back. I use to play this song for her as a kid too.

Cynthia’s mom began dancing to the music in her head. “Shake it, shake it, you’re so fantastic. Just don’t break it, you’re only made of plastic. Cynthia, she’s a really cool dancer. Cynthia, boogie to the groove now. It’s where I got her name from actually. I never did understand why that tape was found in that fire…”

“It’s amazing PETA hasn’t sued us yet, huh?” Rhonda asked.

“I think they’re too afraid of Cynthia to try,” Toby replied. “Can’t say I blame them.”

“Well at least we got that two for one deal on giant, sewer gators,” Rhonda added. “Now then, on to the next torture!”

A montage began in the final episode of other tortures from the Wheel Of Misfortune. 

The wheel spun, landing on a banana peel…

...Tessa skated across the stage on top of two banana peels while blindfolded. She spun in place three times, before performing a split. 

The wheel spun, landing on an acorn…

...Vance gulped as Rhonda poured a bucket of acorns down his pants. Jenny laughed as she passed a cage to the hostess. Rhonda then dumped three squirrels from the cage into his pants. A one minute timer began. Vance cringed as biting was heard…

The wheel spun, landing on a fossil...

...An animatronic triceratops brayed. Lita sat on top of it, grabbing it by the horns and is began bucking and trying to throw her off. 

The wheel spun, landing on a bathtub...

...Griswold held a scrub brush and grimaced. A blue bottom baboon jumped inside a bathtub, howling and screaming. Griswold ducked as the ape threw...mud?

The wheel spun, landing on a mouse…

...A cage of mice was shown on a table. Xidorn had his hands tied behind his back. He grabbed a mouse by his teeth...and moved over to a rattlesnake cage.

The wheel spun, landing on a milk bottle…

...Weston stood holding an empty pale in his hand.

“So the cow has to fill up this whole bucket?” Weston asked. “Will it have enough milk?”

From the stage rose an annoyed looking caribou.

“Trust me,” Rhonda replied. “She has enough milk.” 

The wheel spun, landing on an ice cube…

...Ignacio blushed slightly as he stripped down to his underwear. Carla stared him down, while most everyone else just plain stared. He said in an washtub filled with ice cubes, already beginning to shiver. 

Eventually, the montage ended. By now seven newcomers were in stocks. 

“After five rounds,” Rhonda stated. “We’re down to almost half of our competition. Congrats Cynthia, Diamonique, Ignacio, Kalino, Ness, and Riley.”

“Um, I’m also in this challenge,” Jacqui Jasper stated.

“Oh yeah,” Rhonda remembered. “And Judaculla is too. Why don’t you spin the wheel first this turn Jakku?”

His eyes lit up and he immediately dashed up to the wheel. “I’m rarely first in anything.”

“Hey, that’s not true,” Jenny replied. “You were first voted off your team, remember Jughead?”

J’onn J’onzz Jasper frowned and spun the wheel. It went about halfway, before landing on a picture of honey. 

“For your torture you’ll coat your entire hand in honey,” Rhonda explained. “Then you’ll have to hold it in a fire ant hill for an entire minute. Good luck.”

Jenny giggled as she passed Jasper a jar of honey. He gulped. He started to smear his hand as the anthill rose out of the stage.

“How does almost everything fit under the stage?” Xidorn whispered to Vance. Vance shrugged.

“Here goes nothing,” Jasper said as he stuck his hand into the mound. He closed his eyes and braced himself...then opened them. He frowned and actually started moving his hand around the anthill. The timer dinged and he pulled up his hand, completely untouched. 

“What the heck?” Jenny asked. “Why didn’t the stupid ants do their job?” 

She ran up to the hill and kicked it...causing an army of ants to emerge and chase after her. “I REGRET NOTHING!”

“Juniper makes it to round six,” Rhonda announced. “You can keep the honey. Next up we’ll have Diamonique.”

Diamonique spun the wheel with gusto; it landed on a star.

Rhonda clapped. “You got the star, so you get to pick the torture and the tortured. Now who-”

“Ignacio and the gauntlet torture,” Diamonique immediately stated.

“What?” Ignacio asked. “Really?”

“Pretty clever strategy honestly,” Kalino admitted.

“Yes,” Diamonique stated. “This was purely a strategic choice with no ulterior motives.” 

Ignacio sighed as the gauntlet was summoned. 

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Ignacio admitted. 

“Just go ahead and strip like I did,” Kalino suggested. “It makes it super easy and comfortable!”

“Please do,” Toby whispered.

“I’m sure he’d love to,” Carla said. “He’ll look for any excuse to.”

Ignacio sighed. “Alright, let’s try it.”

“And go!” Rhonda shouted.

Ignacio sprinted as fast as he could, but he was was grabbed by hands. 

“Let me have a piece of his shirt!”

“I want body hair for my collection!”

“I just want to take his clothes off!”

“Oh god,” Ignacio sighed, as pieces of his clothes were torn apart. He tried to struggle, but was soon overwhelmed. In seconds, his clothes were torn off completely. This caused most of the fans to faint. Ignacio tried to cover himself as he headed to the finish line. Before he crossed it, the timer went off. 

“I’m afraid you’ve failed Ignacio,” Rhonda stated. “Meaning Diamonique is still in, and you’re out.” 

Ignacio sighed. “Can I get a change of clothes then?”

“Nope,” Rhonda replied. “Now then, you’re next Ness.”

Ness patted Ignacio on the back as he passed, then spun the wheel. It landed on the icon of the basketball.

“Oh god,” her father mumbled. “I can’t watch her humiliate herself like this.”

“It won’t be that bad...probably,” Markie replied.

“If she is in a five mile radius of a sporting event she gets injured,” Richard replied. “Even at chess tournaments.”

...Ness held a basketball and stood in a court, a timer going down. On to the court ran seven basketball players, who all kinda looked like famous basketball player Larry Bird. 

“I still don’t understand how this challenge works,” Griswold admitted from the stocks. “How did they get seven Larry Birds?”

Ness face was repeatedly pelted by basketballs. “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!”

She tossed the ball while falling to the floor, which miraculously made into the net as the buzzer sounded. 

“And Ness scores!” Rhonda announced.

“What?” Richard and Markie asked in unison.

“Next up, we have Kalino.”

Kalino spun the wheel very slightly, getting it just land on a star. 

“Alright Kalino,” Rhonda said. “Who will be your victim?”

Kalino scratched his soul patch. “I choose Riley...and the peacock cage.” 

Riley gulped. “I don’t have to do it...right?”

“Yeah,” Rhonda said, “you do.”

“That’s not fair,” Griswold shouted. “She technically completed that one. You said so yourself!”

“There’s no rule that I can’t force someone to do a torture again,” Kalino stated. “Nothing personal.”

The peacock cage rose again. The peacock glared with his one good eye at Griswold in the stocks. Even slower than before, Riley approached the cage. She grabbed the door, but let go.

Rhonda shook her head. “It looks like-”

“Yah!” Riley cried out. She flung open the door and jumped at the bird. It pecked her furiously, but she grabbed it in a headlock. 

“You punch it in the snout to establish dominance!” Riley shouted. She smacked it in the beak, before ripping three feathers and rolling out of the cage. She kicked the door behind her as the buzzer went off. 

“Riley succeeds!” Rhonda cheered. “Kalino, you’re out.”

Kalino shrugged. “Congrats Riley.”

“Thanks bud,” Riley replied. She winked at Griswold, who blushed and winked back.

“Alright,” Rhonda stated. “Cynthia is next.”

The wheel spun, landing on a lightning bolt.

Toby walked forward as Cynthia stood still. He held up a taser and fired at Cynthia. She was electrocuted, but she didn’t react in the slightest. 

Toby raised an eyebrow and slowly backed up. 

“WOO!” Cynthia’s mother cheered from the disturbed audience. 

"That's a win,” Rhonda said. “And since Riley was dared, she gets to go a second time this round.”

“Oh yeah,” Riley remembered. She spun the wheel, landing on a traffic cone. From the ground rose a course divided with traffic cones and a unicycle. 

“You have one minute to unicycle through this course,” Rhonda explained. “The torture part comes in if you hit a cone which triggers an explos-”


Riley coughed up smoke as the unicycle turned to ash under her. 

“-ion.” Rhonda finished. “Which results in you failing the torture. So, you’re out.”

“Bummer,” Riley sighed as she took her place in the stocks. “Sorry I messed up the chance you gave me Gris.”

“Nah,” Griswold chuckled. “You did amazing. You even went out with a bang.”

“Round seven,” Rhonda announced. “Diamonique, you’ll spin first.” 

Diamonique turned the wheel, which landed on a garbage can. Rising from the ground was a garbage can...with a clock and several different colored wires attached to it. 

“This garbage can has been converted into a stink bomb,” Rhonda explained. “You have a minute to try and diffuse the bomb before it explodes. If it explodes before then, you’re also out.”

Diamonique raised an eyebrow and approached the can. She poked it, and the clock began counting down from one minute. 

“Do I get wire cutters?” Diamonique asked. 

“Sorry,” Rhonda replied, “wasn’t in the budget.”

Diamonique shrugged and knelt closer. She grabbed and the red wire, and started biting into it. She tore it off with her teeth and the clock stopped. 

Diamonique smirked. “That it?”

The clock turned on and started counting down at twice the speed.

“The red wire ending it?” Jenny asked. “That’s way too obvious!”

Diamonique gulped, then flopped to the ground and rolled away. The countdown reached zero...and the can split over.

“Really?” Diamonique asked.

“I told you it wasn’t ready yet,” Toby stated.

Rhonda shrugged. “We’ll at least we got a free trial out of them. Regardless, Diamonique is out.”

Diamonique pouted as she was locked into the stocks.

“Great try sweetie!” Diamonique’s dad shouted.

“Up next is Ness,” Rhonda stated, as the jinx cautiously approached the wheel. She spun the wheel, landing on an image of an egg.

“Am I going to get egged?” Ness asked.

“Not this challenge,” Rhonda replied. “Instead, you’ll have a minute to secure an egg…”

From the ground rose two towers connected with a highwire. Below it was a net. The tower on the left held some kind of nest. 

“...From a chicken hawk’s nest,” Rhonda finished. “You must cross the highwire and balance across to the nest. You then have to bring it back across. Think you can handle it?”

“Okay,” Ness admitted. “I struggled with the highwire in the first challenge. But this iss a chance to redeem myself! ...Right?”

Now on the right tower, Ness stepped out onto the highwire. She gulped, but tried to gain her balance and avoid looking down. 

“You got this Ness!” Lita cheered. 

Ness smiled and inched forward faster. She approached the nest…but stopped as she heard a cry. Rising from the nest was a hawk with red tail feathers. It screeched at Ness. 

“Just jump off Ness,” her father yelled. “It’s for the best.”

Ness glared at her father, then turned to the hawk. “No. I’m not jumping. I’m not quitting. I’m going to beat this bird.”

The chicken hawk screeched. 

“Let’s dance you eagle knockoff,” Ness stated. “Or you too scared? Must be why they call you a chicken hawk.”

“Ahhhhh!” the hawk cried. 

Ness faked going forward as the hawk dodged, but ducked. The hawk soared over her, and she dove into the nest. She held up an egg in her hands. 

“She did it,” Markie gasped.

“Yeah, but the chicken hawk can comeback around,” Richard replied. 

Ness gulped as she saw the hawk swerve in the air and head for her. “Uh oh. Wait...anyone want to do me a favor?”

“You know I’m here for you,” Lita replied. “Though slightly indisposed…”

“Start clucking please!” Ness said.

Lita shrugged and started making chicken noises. The hawk stopped in mid-air and turned away. 

“Who says you can get help?” Rhonda asked.

“You didn’t say we couldn’t talk during the challenge,” Ignacio replied. “So...cluck, cluck, cluck.”

Soon, the other Fireworks started making chicken noises, then Melissa and Xidorn joined, till all the others in stocks started clucking. Ness tiptoed across the highwire with the egg above her head, almost at the tower.


Ness froze as egg shells landed on her hand. Above her, the hawk chick was born. 

“Hey little fellow,” Ness said with nervous laughter. “Heh, heh, aren’t you a cutie?”

The hawk chick looked down at her...furiously started pecking Ness’ face. 

“Ahhhh!” Ness screamed as she lost balance and plummeted to the net. The chicken hawk swooped up her baby just before she fell. 

“Close,” Rhonda said, “but with that, Ness is officially out.” 

Ness frowned as she was placed in the stocks. “So much for that.”

“Woo Ness!” Melissa cheered. 

“Way to go Loch Ness!” Riley celebrated.

Ness smiled slightly.

“We’re down to our final two,” Rhonda explained. “Cynthia and Juke. Here’s how it’ll work. To win, your opponent must fail a torture. Then you must succeed in a torture. Other rules are the same. First to do so wins. Since Jetson previously went first, Cynthia will start us off.”

Cynthia stepped up to the wheel and spun it hard. It spun over and over till landing decisively on a star. 

“Wow,” Rhonda stated. “Well then Cynthia, what torture shall Jacobo do?”

Cynthia turned to Jasper. “Retrieving the pearl necklace.”

Jasper gulped. He looked down to see he was already knee deep in the trench of sewer water.

“Like I said,” Rhonda stated, “good thing we did that two for one deal…”

Another giant, mutated sewer gator rose from the water, perhaps even bigger than the last. Around its tooth was the necklace. 

“Maybe it won’t see me,” Jasper whispered. 

Slowly he approached the gator, reaching it without the creature seeming to detect him. He grabbed on to the tooth…

“Raaaaaaaaaaa!” the gator screamed.

“Oh crap,” Jasper said. “Uh...see you later alligator?”

The gator grabbed Jasper by his shirt, threw him in the air and opened his jaws. Jasper fell and slid down his tongue like a slide. He was swallowed in one gulp. 

“Oh ****,” Toby stated. 

“Well,” Rhonda stated. “Uh…maybe he’ll come out the other en-”

“-Ack, ack.”

The gator began coughing violently, before spitting up Jasper. He slid across the water before surfacing on the land. He raised his arm, holding up the pearl necklace.

“I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” Jenny stated. “He actually did it. Which means he beat Cynthia’s torture and she’s eliminated.”

Jasper stood up and tried to wipe the spit of himself. He looked down at the necklace. “What does that mean?”

There was a short moment of silence, before Rhonda stepped forward.  

“Congratulations,” Rhonda announced. “This means that you, Jasper are the winner. Let’s give hand to the winner of our first merge challenge, Jasper!” 

The newcomers were freed of their stocks and began clapping, the audience joining in. Jasper blushed and almost lost his balance.

“I did it,” Jasper said. “I actually...did it! I won a challenge! WOOOOOOOOOO!”

“As winner,” Rhonda said, “you’ll have invincibility at tonight’s elimination ceremony. Your previously awarded immunity will be saved for the next ceremony you’re vulnerable. You’ll also get the luxury suite for you and one fellow competitor of your choosing.”

“Oh,” Jasper said. “Huh, never thought I’d have to pick that…”

“To make things more interesting,” the hostess continued, “there’s also the matter of the family reward. Since your family couldn’t join us, you can choose who gets to spend time with their loved one.” 

Jasper scratched the back of his head. “Geez...well I guess um...I...I pick Lita to get to spend time with her loved ones.”

Lita gasped. “For real?”

Jasper smiled and nodded. “Um, and to share the suite with me, Diamonique if she’s interested.”

“Oh yeah!” Diamonique cheered. “How can I pass up hot guys serving me food in a hot tub?”

“Congrats,” Rhonda stated. “Lita, your mother and your brother Roscoe will spend the next two days here at the Pentagram! Tomorrow you’ll also all get a free tour of Washington and the Smithsonian Museum together!”

“That’s so cool!” Roscoe cheered. 

“I’ll give everyone a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones,” Rhonda said. “We’ll meet an hour later for elimination. Ta ta for now.” 

The newcomers and their loved ones gathered in the lobby for their goodbyes. Lita chatted with her brother and mother in the corner, telling them all about Washington. Diamonique’s parents hugged her and fretted over their daughter. Riley and her brother hugged goodbye.



Riley and Pat turned to see Weston and Easton staring each other down and insulting each other.

“Alright,” Riley said, “I’ve had enough of this. You two are making up right now. Or else.”

Weston shook his head. “I’m not going to, ouch!”

Riley grabbed both twins by their ear lobe. “I said makeup. You can’t really tell me you want to hate each other forever, can you?”

“Do you guys really wish to never see each other again?” Pat asked. “That the bond you have and the good times you shared mean nothing?”

“You don’t understand,” Easton replied.

“Maybe not,” Pat replied. “But I have been disconnected from my siblings before. I once left home for five months because I thought I didn’t want to be around them. I didn’t need them. And when I was sad and alone, they welcomed me back with open arms.”

Easton sighed. “I...I don’t hate you Weston. I really do care about you. I just...I wanted to know who I was without you. That’s why I joined this show...and I lashed out at you for coming. I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry too,” Weston replied. “I kinda knew you wanted to do this show alone, but I joined anyway. I didn’t know what I’d be like without you...and I didn’t want to lose you either. But we lost each other anyway. I guess I kind of discovered what you did anyway. So thank you for doing this show.”

“Awww,” Riley and Pat sighed in unison. “Now hug!”

Weston and Easton looked at each other awkwardly, then hugged.

"My dad and I didn't say much," Xidorn admitted. "But he handed me this letter. He wanted me to read it sometime, he said when I felt like it was a good time. How am I supposed to know when that is?"

“Wonderful job miscalculating on the challenge today,” Iolana congratulated her brother. 

“Good seeing you too sis,” Kalino stated. “Don’t leave mad, just leave.”

“That’s it?” Iolana asked. “All you have to say?”

“What more do I need to say?” Kalino replied. “I’m on the show, you’re not. Even if you don’t think I can succeed, I’m going to try anyway. It’s no different than usual.”

Iolana shook her head. “Glad to hear you’ll continue embarrassing the family. Guess it isn’t any different than usual. You’re still the same failure you’ve always been.”

“I’ve been doing great for myself,” Kalino replied. “I’ve just been doing it my own way. You can’t see that.”

“I can see all you’ve done,” Iolana replied. “I can see the way your little crush rejected you, the way you lost the challenge, the way you continue to drift by. It’s just like the family expected; failure.” 

Kalino started to walk away, but Iolana grabbed his arm. “You know, dad thinks there’s still a chance you’ll make something out of yourself. But I know better.”

With that, Iolana left. 

Melissa hugged her sister tightly. “I’ll miss you Bea. But I’ll see you soon.”

“Yeah I know,” Beatrice replied. “Probably real soon.”

“What do you mean?” Melissa asked.

“You bombed the challenge,” Beatrice replied. “Someday I hope you understand that you can’t be so idealistic and kind; it’ll only cause failure.”

“I love you little sister,” Melissa replied. “But I’m not going to apologize for choosing to be kind.”

“Sorry I didn’t win today,” Tessa stated. “I would have loved to catch up.”

“It’s fine,” Ashley replied. “I probably wouldn’t have stayed.”


Ashley darted her eyes back and forth. “Listen Tessa...I like you. I don’t think you’re the worst like everyone else. have bad publicity. I can’t have that.”

“Are you serious?” Tessa asked. 

“I have the chance to have my face on a box of wheat cereal,” Ashley replied. “I can’t throw that away for you!”

Tessa glared at her. “Then why are you even here?”

“To tell you we can’t be friends anymore...and to promote my new cereal.”

“Really?” Tessa asked. “Really?”

Ashley smiled in the confessional, holding up a box of shredded wheat cereal. “Sweet Wheat! If you can’t beat it, wheat it!”

“Going to leave me without telling me goodbye?”

Ignacio turned to see Carla crossing her arms and glaring. “I was looking for you actually. I thought you might have left.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Carla asked.

“Carla,” Ignacio said. “I'm truly sorry if I hurt your feelings. I’ve never tried to...for along time I cared about you. You were very real with me, not the way other people treat me…”

“And how do you thank me?” Carla asked.

“Alright, I have had it up to here with the lip on you.”

Lita stomped over, with Riley and Ness following behind her.

“No one asked you,” Carla stated.

“No one asked you to be so mean, but that hasn’t stopped you,” Ness added.

Carla glared at the jinx, but this time the jinx returned it.

“Ignacio has not hit on us or tried to flirt with us,” Riley stated. “He’s just been a nice, sweet guy.”

“I feel bad,” Lita admitted. “At the start I assumed Ignacio was some serial flirter and egomaniac like you. But I know that isn’t true.”

“Do you know he’s admitted to liking a girl here?” Carla asked.

“I didn’t say they were from here,” Ignacio added. “Um, not that I said I like anyone…”

“All I care about is that you apologize to Ignacio,” Ness replied. “He’s done nothing, and you’ve made it all about yourself.”

Carla turned her shoulder. “I wouldn’t expect his lovestruck harem to understand. You’re just a bunch of pathetic girls throwing yourselves at him. He’s a dog, plain and simple.”

Carla walked away. “Wait Carla…”

Carla turned to Ignacio. “What?”

“I am glad that you came,” Ignacio stated. “Seeing you treat my friends so poorly has made me realize how thankful I am. Thankful to not be dating such a terrible person.”

“Excuse me!” Carla screamed. “You cannot talk to me-”

“-I think you’ve done enough talking,” Ignacio stated. “I thought you were someone who could see past my looks, but you still judged me. I thought maybe I was a bad person for feeling attraction, and I could be, but I’m not. So I’m not going to punish myself for it. Do me a favor and never insult my friends again.” 

For once Carla had nothing to say, and left.

“Wooo!” Riley cheered. “Tell her Iggy.”

“That was amazing,” Ness agreed.

Lita nodded. “Mhmm. I’m glad you got that off your shoulders.”

“Thanks for standing up for me,” Ignacio replied. “And um, I really have no idea what she was talking about there with the liking stuff.”

“Don’t sweat it,” Lita replied. “If she wasn’t lying then it was probably Rhonda just editing the footage.”

Ness’ fathers walked over. 

“Oh no,” Ness whispered.

“We’re headed out,” Markie stated. “I’m sorry we couldn’t stay and hang out Ness. I know you would have loved it.”

“It's fine,” Ness said. “Really.”

“I didn’t have high exceptions anyway,” Richard admitted. “But, everything turned out okay. Just don’t try to hurt yourself like that again.”

“I know,” Ness sighed. “I lost. I failed.”

“Aww sweetie,” Markie said, “It’s no big deal. We didn’t think you’d do that well anyway.”

“Try to be careful,” Richard said. “I mean, don’t you think it’d be better if you, you know…”

“What?” Ness asked.

“Just...quit,” Richard said. “You wouldn’t be getting as hurt or embarrassing yourself. Then things would be okay.”

Ness rubbed her arm. “But I...well I…”

“Are you serious?” Lita asked. “Were you even paying attention? She got third out there!”

“Loch Ness beat all of us,” Riley stated.

“She was killing the final challenge too,” Griswold added. 

“She was an important member of the Fireworks as well,” Ignacio said.

“I just want my daughter to be okay,” Richard stated. 


“What?” Richard asked.

“Things wouldn’t be okay,” Ness stated. “How could things be okay? Things have never been okay!”

“What about me?” Markie asked. “Things are okay with me, right?”

“You married my dad!” Ness yelled. “That’s awkward and embarrassing! How can you not realize that? You can’t be my dad and best friend...and you aren’t either!”

“Ness please reconsider,” Richard said. "I just want what's best for you."

"What's best for me?" Ness asked. "You mean with you? Dad, today you came out here and you didn’t cheer me on. I tried so hard today, for someone who didn't act like he wanted to see me. Not once did you say you were proud of me. But here...I have my friends, people who are proud of me. Here, I'm okay. So I'm not giving up. Bye dad. Bye Markie. I’ll see you at home, when the show is over.”

The two nodded. 

Only one loved one remained at that point. 

“Ooh,” Cynthia’s mom sighed as she hugged her daughter. “I’ll miss you Cynthy Winthy. But I’m so glad I got to see you and all your little friends! And that cute guy you found too. I could just eat him up.”

“Aww thanks Ms. Cynthia’s mom,” Weston replied. 

“It was a pleasure to meet you,” Melissa said.

“Bye mother,” Cynthia replied. 

Cynthia walked off as Cynthia’s mother waved.

“Guess it’s back to town and the crows for me,” Cynthia’s mother stated.

“Crows?” Weston asked.

“Oh yes,” Cynthia’s mother replied. “Our town is covered in crows. You’ll see when you come there. Every telephone line, tree or building has a murder of them.”

“Cynthia never mentioned that…” Weston stated.

“You know it's funny,” Cynthia’s mother recalled while smiling. “I remember when they first migrated to town; it was the day Cynthia was born. They descended from the skies and over the town like a black plague. Since then, crows have always been there. Always watching, always screaming. Always present. Never to leave.”

The others shuddered. 

“Why...why did they come?” Xidorn asked. “Where did they come from?”

Cynthia’s mother smiled. “If life’s taught me anything, its that sometimes you don’t ask questions. You don’t always want the answers. Anywho, goodbye children. I’m sure I’ll see some of you again someday.”

Cynthia’s mother departed.

“I’m honestly even more frightened by Cynthia then I thought was remotely possible,” Kalino stated. 

In the kitchen, Diamonique was making the seventh layer of a decker sandwich. Someone stood outside the door. “That challenge really worked up my appetite. You too?”

“I was looking for you,” Griswold admitted.

“If it's for a date, no can do hunky chunk,” Diamonique replied. “I’m not a homewrecker, so go back to your girlfriend.”

“Me and Lita aren’t dating anymore,” Griswold said.

Diamonique rolled her eyes. “People think I’m stupid.”

“Listen, I want to know how you’re voting tonight,” Griswold admitted. “You know, see if you’d be interesting in voting the same person…”

Diamonique raised an eyebrow. “Who you thinking?”

“Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Kalino leave,” Griswold admitted. “But I’m not set on it. Any suggestions?”

Diamonique shook her head. “Save it. I know you and the other Fireworks will vote together. Why would I want to join y’all and be number six or seven in an alliance?”

“Rather than seven or eight with the Eagles?” Griswold asked. “Listen, you don’t always have to vote with us. But if we work together for this vote, we’ll send home whoever you want. You call the shot, and we’ll knockout whichever Eagle betrayed before.”

Diamonique stroked her chin. “It’s a tempting offer...but I can’t. The other Eagles will turn against me for it. Plus, I think I’ve got a few options with them. Sorry cutie.” 

Diamonique turned down the hall, but stopped and turned around. “Although, I am open to working with you or the other Fireworks down the road.”

Griswold glared. “You mean when we have no other options and you need the numbers?”

Diamonique flipped her hair as she walked out. “We can pick you all off entirely if you prefer.”

At the same time, Xidorn, Vance, Weston and Kalino met in Kalino’s room, all playing his Gamecube.

“One last match together dudes,” Kalino stated. “It could be our last together.”

“Why do you say that?” Weston asked. “We came in with the numbers over the Fireworks, didn’t we?”

“Yeah,” Vance replied. “Then Rhonda’s dumb twist with the returnees ruined it. It was poorer than a hummingbird on a string for a nickel. Now we’re even.”

“But the Fireworks won’t work with Tessa,” Weston stated. “So we still have more votes...right?”

“If all of the Eagles vote together,” Kalino replied. “But I don’t know mannnnn, Diamonique might be holding a grudge.”

“She was super strong in the challenge today,” Weston admitted. “Why did we vote her off again?”

“Uhh...can’t remember,” Kalino ‘admitted’. “Point is, there’s a chance she could flip.”

“Tessa could still be voting for an Eagle too,” Xidorn said. “She has that weird vendetta against you Kalino.” 

Kalino shivered. “Don’t remind me. If she votes me and the Fireworks get wind of it...then they could all vote me.”

“I doubt the Fireworks would willingly work with Tessa,” Xidorn stated. “She treated them like garbage...I mean she treated everyone like that, but especially them.”

“But she has a vote,” Kalino replied. “If it is for one of us, the Fireworks may just agree to do the same to ensure one of their own doesn’t go.”

“I tried asking the little lassie who she was voting,” Vance admitted. “Melissa did too. She wouldn’t say.” 

“Maybe that Joshua guy will vote with us,” Xidorn suggested. “He could flip just as easily.”

“Who are we even voting for anyway?” Vance asked.

Kalino smirked as he scratched his chin. “I think I’ve got a plan…”

On the top floor, Jasper exited the elevator. He took a deep breath.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Jasper felt himself suddenly glomped by Lita in a tight hug.

“Oh,” Jasper said, “hey Lita. Yeah, problem. I’m sorry I didn’t give you the room too, I just felt like Diamoniq-”

“-I don’t care about that,” Lita replied. “But that chance to see my family, that means so much to me. And the trip? My brother and mother would never get to experience something like that in their life!”

“Really?” Jasper asked.

Lita blushed. “The truth is...we’re not that well off. We can’t afford a lot of things, let alone a trip. I think this is the closest they’ve ever gotten to having a vacation. So, thank you for giving them that.”

Jasper smiled. “I’m happy to. I hope you have fun together.”

Lita nodded and Jasper was about to walk off, but stopped. “Hey...who are you voting for tonight?”

“I told you that you didn’t have to vote with us,” Lita said.

“I know,” Jasper said, rubbing the back of his head. “But let’s just talk hypothetical. If you could have anyone go home tonight, who would it be?”

Soon, The fourteen newcomers sat in silence in the Haunted Internet Cafe. 

“It’s time for the first official merge vote,” Rhonda announced. “Just to recap, everyone is voting and one of you will be going home. Since Jasper won invincibility, he’s safe for this vote and the next. Tessa and Diamonique also have immunity. The rest of you are fair game. So, let’s vote.”

Tessa cast her vote. “I don’t know if this is actually going to work, but it’s worth a’s the only shot I’ve got.”

Ness gulped as she cast her vote. “Please, please, please let this work…”

Kalino clicked his vote. He ran his fingers over his shirt pocket. “Hmm…”

Ignacio counted numbers with his fingers. “Alright, what are the statistical odds this actually pans out?”

Diamonique cast her vote, then blew a kiss at the camera. “Adieu chérie. That’s Spanish for adios.”

Weston drummed his fingers against the side of the confessional. “Wait...who were we voting again? Uhhhhh...oh yeah! No wait, that’s me…”

Toby walked out carrying a tray of thirteen coffee cups. 

“Our coffee pot is currently broken,” Rhonda stated, “so these are actually just filled with tap water and some coffee grinds we scrounged up. Still, they represent safety. There are no more chances for returning. Tonight, someone loses the game at the halfway point. The first cup goes to Jarec…”

“I’ll take it,” Junior Jasper sighed, catching his cup as Melissa patted his back.

“The next cups go to Diamonique and Tessa,” Rhonda stated, tossing the cups. “Now for someone we weren’t sure if they were safe...Vance.”

Vance nodded and caught his cup.

“Ignacio, Ness, Melissa,” Rhonda announced. 

Ignacio and Ness shared a smile and clinked cups. 

“Xidorn,” Rhonda continued. The honest soul smiled a little and nodded at his cowboy friend. 

“Weston, Lita.”

“Thank goodness,” Lita whispered to herself, wiping the sweat off her forehead. 

“Riley...and Kalino.” Neither looked chill as they usually did, but sighed heavily upon catching their cups.

Everyone stared as Rhonda raised the final cup. “And finally…”

“...Griswold. I’m sorry Cynthia; it's time.” 

Griswold was too relieved to try and catch his cup, which landed in his pompadour. 

“Thank goodness,” Riley cheered, tackling Griswold into a bear hug.

“Wait, how can this be possible?” Weston asked. “The votes, there should have been a tiebreaker at least…”

Cynthia stood up. “Someone flipped.”

“No,” Weston said. “That’s not it?”

“It was clever to get rid of me while you can,” Cynthia stated. “And whoever flipped, let’s hope you don’t live to regret it.”

Almost everyone gulped.

“This still doesn’t make any sense!” Weston shouted. “I mean...who flipped? Who switched? It’s not supposed to be this way…”

Cynthia pulled Weston in for a kiss. “Don’t be upset for what isn’t, but be glad for what we had. What we will have after the show. I’m not done with you yet…”

Weston forced a smile and nodded.

Melissa stood up and embraced Cynthia. “I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate...or a better best friend.”

“I couldn’t either,” Cynthia replied.

“Even though I will sleep very sound tonight,” Rhonda said, “I think I’m actually going to miss you Cynthia. I think a lot of us will...oh my god where did she go?”

Everyone looked to see that Cynthia had disappeared. In her place was a frowning face made of broken glass shards. 

“She must have left through the Revolving Doors of Shame...right?” Lita asked.

“Did anyone actually see her leave?” Xidorn questioned. 

Everyone shook their heads...

Chapter 16 Kart Of War

The day after Cynthia’s elimination, the hotel was quiet. The halls were empty...until Ignacio ran back inside shirtless. He ran into his room and slammed it close. At the same time, Kalino opened his door and yawned. Ignacio exited moments later, now wearing more clothes, and immediately covered his eyes.

“Mornin Iggyyyyyy,” Kalino greeted.

“It’s 12:30...and you’re not wearing any clothes,” Ignacio replied.

Kalino looked down to realize he was pantless. He shrugged. “No wonder I’m so tired. I’m not usually up this early.”

“Aren’t you the least bit concerned you're naked?” Ignacio asked.

“Nah,” Kalino replied. “I think I forgot to put clothes back on after the challenge. Or was I wearing clothes to elimination last night? Oh well. What are you doing?”

“I just had to comeback in and get a new shirt,” Ignacio replied. “A hawk stole my sweater...again.”

Kalino raised an eyebrow. “Dude, what’s the big deal with you being nude or whatever? You’re like afraid of it. I mean we’ve all seen it as this point, so who cares?”

“It’s embarrassing,” Ignacio replied.

“Only if you let it embarrass you,” Kalino said. “You know if you want, I could help you get over your whole naked taboo.”

“I think it’s a very reasonable taboo,” Ignacio replied.

“Suit yourself brother,” Kalino replied. 

He shrugged and walked off. 

In the kitchen, Melissa whistled a sad tune while she bottled water. She wore some kind of sling around her neck, dangling on her chest. Ness rubbed her hands together as she stepped into the kitchen.

“Oh, good morning Ness,” Melissa greeted. “Can I help you with something?”

“No, not really,” Ness replied. “What are you doing?”

“I read online there are a lot of thirsty male fans of the show in Brazil,” Melissa stated. “So I’m bottling and sending water there to help.”

“I don’t think those comments meant that kind of thirsty,” Ness replied. “What’s with the uhh...bib?”

“Oh, my little cockroach cradle?” Melissa asked. “Well, since I saved those baby roaches I’ve decided to take care of them. This way I carry them. Isn't that right my little cuties?”

The cockroaches hissed in response.

Ness nodded, trying not to shiver. “Isn’t that sweet and not gross or creepy. Honestly Melissa, I wanted to know if you’re okay. I knew you and Cynthia were best friends.”

Melissa forced a smile, placing her hand over heart. “Thank you. I do desperately wish she were still here...but I don’t hold it against you for voting her. You took the chance to take out a threat.”

“The truth is we didn’t necessarily vote Cynthia out for being a threat,” Ness admitted. “I mean it didn’t hurt. Really, Jasper agreed to vote with us only if we all voted for Cynthia. We weren’t in a place to argue. I’m not sure why he said that, but Lita certainly didn’t mind his choice…”

“I’m honestly more concerned with who flipped on my team,” Melissa admitted. “I don’t suppose you would tell me who voted with you.”

Ness shrugged. “I have no idea who it was. No one's come forward either. I don’t know if it’s a comfort...but I don’t plan on voting for you anytime soon. We haven’t forgotten you baked my cake and helped out Seraphina. Not to mention you’re just nice! Lita too; she’s with her family or she’d be here.”

“Thank you,” Melissa replied. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with someone on my former team not telling’s not new. Anyhow, I should finish these waters.”

Ness nodded. “If you do want someone to talk to, you know where Lita and I live.”

Melissa held up her golden flash drive. “I do have this very thoughtful present from Vance, and I do trust him...but I don’t trust the other Eagles. Except Diamonique; we’re in an alliance...that did include Cynthia. I just haven’t felt close with my team. I honestly feel closer to the Firework girls...and I am wondering if maybe I shouldn’t work with them…"

Ness left, and Melissa returned to her business. Tiptoeing into the kitchen was Weston.

“Melissa, psst...Melissa,” Weston whispered. “Pssst....Psssssst…”

“Weston?” Melissa asked. “Why are you whispering?”

“Because I’m being sneaky and secretive,” Weston replied. 

“But I can see you,” Melissa said.

Weston blushed slightly. “Oh. I’m here to talk to you. We both know something’s up with Cynthia’s elimination. Someone is a Benedict Arnold. And I mean like traitor, not like the eggs. You’re the only Eagle I know who wouldn’t have voted her off. So we need to work together to find the real culprit.”

Melissa nodded. “We owe it to Cynthia.”

“I almost voted wrong last night,” Weston admitted. “It usually happens, but Cynthia helps by writing me notes. Or...I guess helped. But I know I voted for Griswold last night!”

Weston sighed and slumped in the seat. “I never thought I’d outlast Cynthia. I kind of hoped we somehow could get to the finals together. I guess that’s silly...and not going to happen now.”

The former Eagles gathered together in the cafeteria.

“Alright,” Weston said, “we know somebody flipped. So someone come clean or else...something will happen.”

“We all know who it is,” Vance stated. “Isn’t that right Diamonique?”

Weston gasped. “You turned on us to get revenge for voting you off, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t,” Diamonique replied.

“Oh,” Weston said.

“That’s crazier than a foxhole full of rabbits,” Vance replied.

Diamonique shook her head. “Incase you forgot Slow Draw McGraw, Cynthia didn’t vote me off. I trusted her. We were friends. We all know you boys were scared of her. So you decided to ease your fears and off her.”

“We wouldn’t do that to our bud Weston,” Vance stated.

“Somebody has to be lying,” Kalino sighed. 

After sitting a few minutes in silence eyeing each other, the Eagles eventually went their own ways. Melissa and Weston were alone.

“Well that was a bust,” Weston admitted. “I was sure it was Diamonique.”

Melissa shook her head. “I believe her. The truth is that before she was voted out we were in an alliance together. We were going to rekindle it now that she was back.”

“Cynthia never told me that,” Weston sighed. “Kalino was just worried last night she’d flip.”

“Hmm,” Melissa muttered.

“What?” Weston asked.

“Just...something seems off about this whole thing,” Melissa admitted. “Kalino made you think Diamonique could flip? Then someone flips…”

“You don’t think it was Kalino, do you?” Weston asked. “I mean, he couldn’t have. He’s always so nice. He even stood up to Easton for me at the challenge.”

“Whose idea was it to vote Griswold?” Melissa asked.

“Kalino,” Weston replied. 

“I’m not making any accusations just yet,” Melissa replied. “And please don’t tell him I said this, but I suspect he’s been controlling the votes for a while.”

Weston sat down. “Kalino? He seems so chill and relaxed? Could he really have voted off Cynthia and lied about it?”


Weston looked up at Melissa, who squirmed uncomfortably. “Weston did...did Kalino convince you to vote off Aiden?”

“I...I don’t remember,” Weston admitted.

In their room, Kalino played video games while Vance watched, sitting in a bean-bag next to him and munching on cheese puffs. Kalino scowled. 

“Watch it partner,” Vance stated. “You just about lost us the race.”

“Us?” Kalino asked.

“I’m supervising,” Vance replied. He tossed a puff in the air, trying to catch it with his mouth but it hit his eye instead.

“I’m just out of it man,” Kalino replied. “This doesn’t sit right with me.”

“I know,” Vance stated, “that cheese puff should have totally landed in my mouth.”

“I meant Cynthia’s elimination,” Kalino said. “Things shouldn’t have played out like that.”

“I knew Griswold was targeting me,” Kalino admitted. “The old bear doesn’t like me; it’s not subtle. I even heard they were going to vote me last night. So I thought to be safe I'll use that good old flash drive.”

He patted his pocket, then frowned. “But instead they voted off Cynthia. The good news is I still have one use left in it, and I’m sure I can find another. The bad news is that the Eagles might be a sinking ship…”

“I’ve been thinking a lot Vance,” Kalino said. “Mostly about pizza. We should totally order some. But also, maybe we need to form an alliance…”

“Aren’t we in an alliance?” Vance asked.

“Yeah, that one Pascal made before he imploded,” Kalino replied. “But that’s down to just me and you. I think we need to expand it.”

“What about the Eagles?” Vance asked.

“I mean we can totally include our bros,” Kalino said. “But some of our former teammates our accusing us of betraying them. So we need to change the plan.”

“I guess,” Vance replied. “If we do, we have to add Xidorn. He should’ve been included in the first one.”

“Yeah, well let’s pretend this is like a new alliance,” Kalino said. 

“Why?” Vance asked.

Kalino laughed. “Vance, how do you think Xidorn would react to you revealing you lied to him about this alliance? Xidorn, the kid who never lies. Especially about the inter-team alliance that almost got him or his girlfriend vote off.”

Vance gulped. “You think he’d be mad?”

“I mean why haven’t you been honest with him before?” Kalino asked. “About something you’re hiding with your past…”

“I’m not hiding anything about my past!” Vance shouted.

“oh, of course,” Kalino replied. “I just know, hypothetically. If you were, well then you never told your best pal. And you know why...because he’d never forgive you.” 

“ think he wouldn’t?” Vance asked.

Kalino shrugged. “He might hate you forever. I think it’s crazy, but you know how Xidorn is about the truth. So I won’t tell him anything, and neither will you...right?”

Vance nodded vigorously. 

In the city, Lita and her family enjoy themselves at a nice restaurant.

“The Smithsonian is amazing,” Lita’s brother Roscoe stated. “Who knew they had all that NASA stuff? Or those old planes! How often do you visit there Lita?”

Lita laughed. “That’s the first time I’ve been too. I would have loved to show y’all downtown at some point. Too bad it’s been closed off for some reason.”

“The news said something about another horse rampage,” Lita’s mother recalled. “Whatever that means. Anyhow, it was sweet of that boy to give us this trip. Is he sweet on you?”

Lita glared at her mother. “He’s just a friend mother.”

“I’ve never heard that one before,” Lita’s mother mumbled to herself.

“It’s just so cool you get to do this,” Roscoe said.

He sighed.

“Something wrong little man?” Lita asked.

Roscoe shook his head. “I just have to use the bathroom. I’ll be back!”

As Roscoe wheeled himself away, Lita’s mom turned to his daughter. “So you’ve been happy here?”

“It’s been rough,” Lita admitted. “It wasn’t what I was expecting. But I’ve...actually made some good friends. And if I can get far enough...I don’t know. I think I could win this.”

Lita’s mom nodded. “I heard from another waitress at work...about what you said. About Roscoe and me. Honey…”

“-Not here, not now,” Lita stated. “This is supposed to be a fun day.”

“I want to talk about this,” her mother stated.

“I forgot I was on camera,” Lita said. “It happens all the time here. Sorry.”

“Not that,” her mother replied. “I...understand what you said. But I do love you and I am glad I had you.”

“Don’t lie,” Lita replied. “I know better.”


Lita glared at her. “I know. I still remember when I was little...when dad left. You begged him not to. He didn’t want to stay, didn’t want to be tied down by a kid anymore. You said you’d give me away. But he still left. You going to deny that?”

“No,” Lita’s mother admitted.

“You going to deny that the reason you had me was to guilt him into marrying you?” Lita asked.

“No,” Lita’s mother sighed. “It’s true.”

“Then there’s nothing more to say,” Lita said, turning away.

“You’re right,” Lita’s mother admitted. “It’s true. When I had you I was young and selfish. I was so selfish I didn’t consider how my child would live when I decided to have one. I’m sorry. But I’m not sorry for having you. I did treat Roscoe better, but only because I am wiser now. You-”

“Hey,” Roscoe said. “Did I miss anything?” 

“Not at all little man,” Lita replied. “We were just about to leave. Then we were going to tour Washington more.”

“Ooh, which monument? Which one?” Roscoe asked. 

Lita smiled. “You pick.”

In her dorm room, Tessa sat alone on her bed in silence.

“There is literally no way I can apologize to Lita,” Tessa said. “I kept trying to think of ways...and yeah, none. Ironically, I wanted a room to myself...and now I’m being driven crazy alone in there.”

She crossed her arms, heaving a sigh. “I can hear Alanis Morissette singing now…”

Tessa turned over and closed her eyes...only to be so startled by a knock on the door she fell off the bed. “Ahh! Ouch. Coming!”

Tessa swung open her door to find Riley standing there holding a bag.

“Sup Sweet T,” Riley said. “I noticed you weren’t at breakfast. I got you some Mickey D’s! They got the all day breakfast menu.”

“Wow, thank you Riley,” Tessa replied. “That’s really sweet. Do you want to come in?”

Riley shrugged and walked in. Tessa looked throughout the hallway, before closing her door. 

Riley sat down in a chair nearby, tossing Tessa her food as she made herself more comfortable. “So why did you skip brekkie?” Riley asked. “It’s the most important meal in the day.”

“I couldn’t show my face,” Tessa said. “I couldn’t take everyone hating me.”

“To be fair, you did show your face before,” Riley said. “And everyone still hated you then.”

“Thanks for reminding me,” Tessa replied. “But not after I saw Lita’s family...and said those things about them. How can I face her?”

Riley shrugged. “I guess with another apology. At least you got to see your best friend.”

“Just so she could tell me she’s tossing me aside for wheat,” Tessa sighed. 

“Dang, that’s cold,” Riley said. “I’m sorry T. Was it Sweet Wheat? They are delicious. If you can’t beat it, wheat it.”

“It’s not like I totally didn’t deserve it,” Tessa admitted. “Being friends with me is just a bad idea.”

Riley smiled and patted Tessa’s shoulder. “So she turned out to be a sucky friend. But hey, I still believe in you sweet T.”

“No,” Tessa said. “Riley, you don’t get it. If you’re seen with me, everyone is going to turn against you. I’m not going to be the reason you lose two million dollars.”

“Um, I have a say in this too,” Riley stated. “And I don’t care. If the others trust me, then they’ll trust you...eventually.”

Tessa smiled a little. She began unwrapping her breakfast and eating. 

“I wanted to ask Tessa,” Riley said. “ did you vote last night?”

Tessa seemed to swallow her food, but was actually gulping. “Truth is...I voted for Kalino.”

“Why?” Riley asked.

“Because I don’t trust him,” Tessa said. “Trust me, Kalino is a bigger rodent than the Pizza Rat.”

“The animatronic one who sings at birthdays?” Riley asked. 

Tessa sighed. “Sure.”

“Griswold has the same suspicion about Kalino,” Riley admitted. “But does this have to do with that flash drive? Did you really try that?”

Tessa nodded. “I admit in hindsight I deserved to go home for being the worst. But...well I had a secret alliance with Pascal.”

Riley gasped. “Wait...why I am shocked? That sounds exactly like Pascal…”

“The point is Kalino and Pascal were roommates,” Tessa said. “He and Kalino were also in an a secret alliance.”

Riley gasped. “That...also sounds completely believable.”

“So I figured that alliance extended to us,” Tessa explained. “I was going to have him use the flashdrive. Instead he used me to get it and caused my elimination.”

Riley gave Tessa a look. 

“Okay, I caused my own elimination,” Tessa admitted. “I’m not really one of that Potato-Head’s victims.”

“Victims?” Riley asked. “As in multiple?” 

Tessa lowered her voice. “I can’t tell you everything, but let’s say that a few people know Kalino had a hand in their elimination.”

Riley nodded and began thinking. 

Tessa pulled out her hashbrown and split it in half. “You want to help me finish this?”

“I physically can’t pass up free food,” Riley laughed, the half already in her mouth. “So, why didn’t you ask me who we were voting for?”

Tessa shifted uncomfortably. “Well...I heard a rumor that all the other Fireworks were voting for him, so I didn't think it mattered. Like I said, I didn’t think you should be seen with me.”

“I guess that means we still don’t know who our mystery voter is,” Riley said. “Still, we need to be on the same page in the future. We need as many votes together as we can if we’re going to survive.”

Tessa smiled and nodded. “I promise next vote I’ll talk to you.”

“No sweat Sweet T,” Riley replied.

She stood out and opened the door. “And Tessa. Ashley may have ended things, but she wasn’t your only friend. You got me now.”

That afternoon, Lita escorted her family to the lobby.

“Do we have to leave now?” Roscoe asked.

“Sorry honey,” his mother said. “We have a plane to catch.”

Lita rustled his hair. “Don’t worry little man. Maybe someday we can come back here.”

Roscoe pouted. “Probably not for along time.”

“We need to be grateful we got to come sweetie,” Lita’s mother said. “Don’t you think we should thank Lita for this trip?”

“Yeah, thanks Lita,” Roscoe replied. “It was super fun. I’m so jealous of all the fun stuff you get to do.”

“Don’t be jealous of me Roscoe,” Lita stated. “ really shouldn’t be.”

“But you’re always doing all this cool stuff,” Roscoe admitted. “Like boxing or this show. You’re so cool too. I wish I could do that.”

Lita sighed and hugged her brother. “You’re amazing too little man. Don’t forget that.” 

Lita waved goodbye as her family left. As soon as they went out the door, her smile dropped. She curled up in a nearby chair, hiding her face in a pillow.


Lita turned to see Ignacio standing over here.

“Oh. Hey Iggy.”

“I was just coming down for a moment and...are you okay?” 

“I’m fine,” Lita replied. “I just want to be alone.”

“Sure,” Ignacio said. “But, you can talk to me Lita. I won’t judge you. I’m your friend.”

Lita raised her head, revealing she had been crying. “I...I just said goodbye to my family.”

“I’m so sorry,” Ignacio said. “That must have been hard. I know they mean a lot to you. I understand that.”

“It’s not just that,” Lita admitted. “I’m...I’m a terrible person Ignacio.”

“No, no,” Ignacio stated. “Why would you think that?”

Lita forced a laugh. “When my little brother left he told me he was jealous of me. Me. But...I’ve always been jealous of him. Isn’t that awful? He’s just a little kid in a wheelchair. He’s had such a hard life and it’s going to get harder I’m sure...but I can’t help being jealous. Ever since he was born, everyone treated him nicer. He always got more attention, even money to help us. And he deserves it...but I’m still jealous.”

Ignacio grabbed Lita and pulled her into a hug as she started to bawl into his shoulder. 

“I don’t think that makes you a horrible person,” Ignacio stated. “I think that just makes you human.”

Ignacio held her for a while, until she stopped crying, then walked her back to her dorm. 

The next day, the newcomers woke early with an announcement over the speakers.

“The bus leaves in thirty,” Jenny’s voice said. “Be there or be square.”

It ended with the sound of a horn honking. The newcomers finished a quick breakfast, courtesy of Melissa, and boarded the bus.

The bus arrived at some sort of salvage yard, filled with old and decommissioned cars. Some sort of large junkyard coliseum was being formed nearby, with workers coming and going. 

“Are those workers for this show?” Ness asked, as she and the others exited the bus. “We’ve never had that many interns.”

“They're less interns and more temp workers,” Rhonda replied. “Wanting a chance to work on the show now that we’ve reached our prime. Along with free tickets to the spectacle we’re producing tomorrow.”

“Isn’t it a little soon for a challenge?” Weston asked. “Or do we have to speed it up again?”

“More returners aren’t coming, are they?” Vance asked.

Rhonda shook her head. “Let me start from the beginning. Thanks to our primetime slot, a local car dealership here in Washington is sponsoring our next challenge. So tomorrow, you’ll be go-kart racing!”

“Aww sweet!” Riley cheered. “I love racing!”

“Toby has suped up a special course for you in the coliseum,” Rhonda continued. “You’ll race there tomorrow for our live audience. Our tickets are already sold out!”

“If only Ms. Rhonda cared half as much about being nice as she did making money,” Melissa said.

“So why am I here instead of eating my third breakfast?” Diamonique asked. 

“For tomorrow’s challenge you’ll have to build your own custom go-karts,” Rhonda explained. “You have access to this scrapyard and any of these old cars and parts that are lying around. Toby will be around to help you with specifics. You can work on it as much as you want today, but there is a lot at stake tomorrow.”

“Like...what?” Kalino asked.

“Tomorrow’s winner will not only receive invincibility and the master suite,” Rhonda said, “but this!”

From behind her back, the hostess held up a golden trophy, with a little wheel on the top.

“Ooh,” Weston gasped. “Shiny!”

“Additionally, the dealership sponsoring this will give five hundred dollars to the winner of the race,” Rhonda stated.

The newcomers cheered. However they soon went silent as they saw Rhonda’s dark smirk.

“More importantly, you don’t want to lose. Because if you do, you’re gone.”

Everyone gasped.

“You mean if we finish last,” Ignacio gulped. “We’re automatically eliminated.”

Rhonda nodded. “No voting, no ceremony. The Public Transportation of Losers will pick you up on the spot.”

“So...if we don’t finish the race, we can’t go home?” Weston asked.

“No Weston,” Rhonda replied. “It means whoever gets last place, after everyone else, will be gone. Not even an immunity flash drive can save you.”

“What’s the point of winning invincibility if there is no ceremony?” Xidorn asked.

“Well because...It’s just a formality okay!” Rhonda shouted. “The point is, remember at the merge when I said this is going to get harder? Well, this is it!”

Lita sat in the confessional scowling and with her arms crossed. “You know why we suddenly have an automatic elimination challenge, right? It’s so Rhonda can give a free pass to Tessa. She’s going to weasel her way to safety yet again.”

“Uh, what about my immunity?” Jasper asked. “It carried over from last time, remember?”

“Oh yeah,” Rhonda realized. “Well...that prevents you from being eliminated. So, you can either use it now and skip the race. Or you can race tomorrow, and if you survive you’ll have it at the next ceremony. But, if you do lose you’re eliminated. No exceptions.”

Jasper scratched his head. “Uh...I guess there’s a good chance that I won’t get eliminated tomorrow. Should I risk it?”

“Your call,” Rhonda replied. “You can sit on the sidelines or you can be part of the action. Whichever you can handle.”

Jasper tightened his fist. “I’ll do it.”

“That’s what I like to hear!” Rhonda cheered. “Have fun building everyone!”

The newcomers dashed off to the dump, digging and diving into the car parts. 

Vance emerged head first, spitting up oil. “I don’t even know what half of this stuff does. Uh, you know, because there aren’t a lot of cars in the country.”

Xidorn collected engine parts in his arms. “I can give you a hand with it Vance.”

“You know car stuff?” Vance asked.

“I’m not an engineer or anything,” Xidorn replied. “But my dad taught me a lot of stuff. He’s one of those people who can tell you the make and model just by eyeballing it.” 

“I never knew you and your dad were so close,” Vance said.

“We aren’t,” Xidorn admitted. “But...I guess we did have some good memories. I’m sorry you didn’t get to see any of your family Vance.”

Vance forced a chuckle. “I’m not. I mean...I’m sure Ma had her hands full with the donkeys and the turkeys.”

Weston popped out of a tire stand. “Wouldn’t your siblings help out?” 

“I thought you were an only sibling?” Xidorn asked.

“No,” Weston replied. “Vance has tons of siblings; Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Cindy, Bobby and his cousin Oliver who lives with Vance while his parents are in South America.”

“Uh...I just meant that I was an only child for so long,” Vance stated. “I sometimes forget that’s all…”

Xidorn raised an eyebrow, while Weston nodded understandably. 

Soon, everyone had found a garage and was working on their karts. Riley rolled a tire along the ground into a garage she was sharing with Griswold, who was doing something to an old bulldozer. 

“That’s the last one,” Riley stated.

“Thanks for getting those Ry,” Griswold replied.

“Totally dude,” Riley replied. “Hey Gris…”

Griswold looked up at her, causing her to blush. “I just...wanted to say thank you. For last challenge, with the peacock. I really appreciate it.”

“Of course,” Griswold replied. “When your in trouble, I’m there for you bro.”

“How did you know?” Riley asked.

“You weren’t acting like you,” Griswold said. “You know, chill and fearless.”

“I’m not fearless,” Riley laughed. “I almost peed myself at a peacock.”

Griswold blushed. “Dude, you’re the most fearless person I know.”

The two looked at each other and then darted eyes. 

“So I talked to Tessa,” Riley said, trying to change the subject. “She voted for Kalino.”

“So she says,” Griswold replied.

“I believe her Gris Bear,” Riley stated. “To be honest...I think she's changed.”

“We gave her more than one chance before,” Griswold reminded, turning back to his work. “And she spit in our faces.”

“I know,” Riley replied. “But...if she’s changed, then I don’t see the harm in giving another.”

Griswold sighed and rubbed the back of his head. “I don’t know...if you think it’s a good idea, then I guess. But I don’t know if we could convince the others. Especially Lita.”

“Yeah,” Riley admitted.

Griswold paused for a moment. “You said, Tessa voted for Kalino?”

Riley nodded. “She has it out for him, and heard we were voting for him. Why? What’cha thinking?”

“That was our plan,” Griswold stated. “We didn’t talk to Tessa, and I doubt the other Fireworks did. But I did tell Diamonique. So she, or another Eagle she talked to, must have told Tessa.”

“Dang, your right Gris!” Riley stated. 

Griswold scratched his head. “But why? That would just be a clue for Tessa to vote against one of your own...unless that’s what you wanted!”

“That actually confirms a theory I’ve been mixing in my brain blender,” Riley admitted. 

“Pour this theory smoothie Rye Bread,” Griswold stated.

“I felt like Tessa was hiding something,” Riley stated, “but she mentioned some eliminated peeps who had it out for Kalino. Maybe Diamonique is one of them...”

“We’re supposed to be in an alliance Diamonique!”

Tessa scowled at the short scatterbrain who had snuck into her garage. Diamonique shushed her and whispered, “Keep it down. You think I’m happy Kalino is still here? Especially instead of someone I actually like?” 

“You said if I voted Kalino, he’d be good as gone,” Tessa stated. “Well, he’s still here!”

“How could I know they’d vote Cynthia instead?” Diamonique asked. “I’m not psychic; that was Seraphina…”

“Diamonique had this crazy plan for getting out Kalino,” Tessa explained. “She found out who the Fireworks were voting, but said if she did vote that way and the Eagles found out...any trust she had would be gone. Her game would be dead. But if I voted for Kalino, it would be a tie. Then either Gris kills him in the tiebreaker challenge, or she switches on the revote to justify saving her friends.”

Tessa rolled her eyes. “Yeah, in hindsight it was pretty convoluted. But she only told me an hour before elimination. I probably would still have voted for that hippie dippy hedonist anyway.”

“I just wanted him to go home before me,” Tessa sighed. “Guess that’s not ever happening.”

“If you survive this race, there’s still a chance,” Diamonique stated. “If Kalino did vote out Cynthia...then enough of the Eagles could flip. And even if he didn’t...let’s say he did.”

“No one would believe me if I said so,” Tessa replied. “Which I suppose is fine, I don’t want to lie to anyone anymore. Even though I’m sure the slimy snake is the culprit.”

Diamonique shrugged. “Fine. Then at least don’t lose this race.”

The next day the coliseum was packed with spectators. From above the stadium, Jenny and Toby watched the events from inside a hot air balloon. 

“Welcome everyone, to the big day,” Jenny announced into a mic. “The Genesis Go-Kart Grand Prix! Today, our thirteen competitors will be spinning their wheels through one of the most challenging tracks in racing history, built by myself with help from my sidekick.”

“Built?” Toby asked. “What did you actually do?”

“I supervised,” Jenny replied.

“If that means falling asleep while eating cheese puffs,” Toby said.

“YOUR MOM!” Jenny shouted.

She cleared her throat, before speaking into her mic again. “My sidekick and I will be an eye in the sky, providing car commentary on today’s race. The racers will have to complete one lap through all kinds of obstacles. To the winner; glory in the form of trophy and five hundred dollars cash! And to our big loser, a free one-way trip to Losersville! Here come the racers now!”

Driving up to the starting line was Griswold, in a big, bumper car-like red go-kart. It was spray painted with a bulldog and a large brown bear. At the end of it was a scoop like a bulldozer. Griswold waved at the cheering audience.

“First up it’s Griswold in the Beardozer,” Jenny stated. “This kart maybe big, but it’s all terrain wheels and super scoop mean it’s ready to rumble! And up next we have little Melissa in her Sweetie Speedster.”

Melissa drove up in an extremely pink go-kart that was like an old-fashioned carriage car. It was covered in stickers that promoted different charities. In the back was a car seat for the baby roaches.

“Melissa’s go-kart is certainly very Melissa,” Jenny said.

“Don’t underestimate it for it’s cuteness,” Toby stated. “Working on that car, I know Melissa had some interesting ideas that may change the race. Following her is the stunner of the circuit herself, Lita in her Lightning Bolt!”

Lita drove forward. Her hair was tied in a ponytail and she wore some kind of deep purple racing uniform, with an aviator’s hat, white gloves, white gogo boots, and her purple scarf. She blew a kiss to the audience and she drove forward in some purple go-kart that looks like a mustang, decorated with lightning bolts.

“Everyone knows lightning bolts mean speed,” Toby said. “We’ll see if Lita and her kart have the means to back it up.”

“Here comes number four,” Jenny said. “It’s Xidorn in his Wonder Wheels.”

Xidorn drove up in a kart as colorful as expected of him. The kart seemed to have parts repurposed from electric cars and Japanese vehicles. Xidorn revved his wheels, which spun like a colorful rainbow wheel.

Jenny grabbed her head. “’s flashy, but fast. Is it any wonder if the Wonder Wheels take first? I think not. Now driving up is...oh my, it’s that mean queen machine with the diamond driver, Diamonique and her kart, The Empress.”

Diamonique honked her horn as she drove forward. Her kart was like something out sweet sixteen from the Fury Road, a pink monster truck bedazzled with rhinestones and sparkles. 

“So I used my parents credit cards to buy monster truck parts,” Diamonique admitted. “It wasn’t against the rules. I couldn’t drive just anything.”

“That kart may self-proclaim it’s fabulous,” Toby said. “But is it fast? Hard to say with that large size, but that maybe an advantage.”

“It’s certainly large and in charge,” Jenny added. “Just like it’s driver.”

Weston drove up next, in a small yellow kart. On the side of it was a crudely painted drawing of Cynthia, like something a child would draw. 

“It’s Weston in the S.S. Cynthia,” Toby announced. “Should we tell him that’s for naming ships?”

“It is?” Jenny asked.

Toby rolled his eyes. “This driver has got a bad case of heartbreak. But if this kart is anything like it’s namesake, then it’s a threat in this race...and will also haunt all of my nightmares.”

Riley drove up in a polished, white lowrider like kart with fur seating. It bounced up and down to the starting line.

“It’s Reckless Riley in her special Autobrobile,” Jenny stated. “Talk about your sweet ride. What special features does this car have?”

“It’s hydraulic lift kit allows it to ride low or high,” Toby replied. “All Riley’s fixing of course. Also, cupholders.”

Riley fired a finger pistol as she raised an ice cold Pepsi from a cupholder. 

“Now it's the street racer called everyone’s desire,” Toby stated. “Ignacio in the La Máquina De Velocidad.”

Ignacio blushed as he drove up in a red, sleek Chevrolet Cruze like kart. It also seemed to be built with electrical parts however. 

“That’s a sexy kart for a sexy driver,” Toby stated.

“Gross,” Jenny gagged. “This a friendly reminder to protect children and pets; get them cootie vaccines. Next, she may not like being called a jock but that’s a sports star in a sports car; Turbo Tessa in the Olympian!”

Tessa drove in an Formula One like go-kart, like something out of Monaco, and a spring green paint job. Tessa was notably the only racer to receive a mix of boos and cheers.

“The car seems fast,” Toby admitted. “But we’ll have to see if this Big Shot can go for the gold in racing and not just gymnastics."

“Now here comes Vance the Kid in The Giddy Up and Go!” Jenny stated.

“Yeehaw!” Vance cried as he rode in on his kart, which seemed to be less of a kart and more of mechanical horse kiddie ride crossed with a motorbike. Yet it still had pedals.

“Probably our most unusual kart in this whole race,” Toby admitted. 

Jenny snickered. “It certainly has horsepower. We’ll have to see if the course is big enough for the two of them.”

Ness drove up next in a small, olive colored punch buggy-esque kart. She smiled at the crowd, honking her horn that had a playful beep. Two big, fuzzy pink dice were held over the rearview mirror.

“That’s Ness in the Jubilee Jalopy,” Toby said. “And it looks like she’s got a good luck charm to help in this race.”

Ness tapped the fuzzy dice...and the rearview mirror fell off. 

“She’ll need it,” Jenny added. “Now look what’s come in with the tides! It’s Kalino in the Kahuna Cruiser!”

Kalino pulled up in his orange kart, the seats having a pattern like a Hawaiian T-shirt. His kart was like a beach dune buggy. Instead of a steering wheel, he was controlling it through some kind of GameCube Controller.

“A video game controller for a steering wheel?” Jenny asked.

Toby shrugged. “He insisted. If his skills in Double-Dash are any proof, this might be an advantage in this race.”

“And approaching at the back is our last kart and racer!” Jenny announced. “The winner of our last challenge, it’s Javert...I mean Jasper! We don’t have a name on record for his kart actually. What is it?”

Jasper drove up in an average, simple red go-kart.

“Uh...we had to name it?” Jasper asked.

“Jasper in the Uh We Had To Name It,” Jenny stated. 

“I’m so confused,” Jasper said. “Monster trucks and sports cars? It took a lot of effort to make an actual go-kart, which I thought we were supposed to be racing. How did they engineer this stuff?”

“With all of our racers here it’s time to start this competition,” Jenny stated. 

From a tower over the finish line, Rhonda waited with the checkered flag in hand. She counted down from three on her hand, then waved the flag. The cars dashed off, almost knocking over the tower.

“And they’re off!” Jenny announced. “It’s a simple track for the moment, but they’ll soon encounter obstacles during our course.”

“There are three pitstops scattered across the raceway,” Toby explained. “Where our racers can stop for fuel or repairs, but they’ll have to push their kart there if it does wipeout.” 

The newcomers raced, the lead car switching and switching, with no clear frontrunner. In front of them, the road split into three different directions, leading to three different tunnels.

“And now our racers will have to choose which path to follow,” Jenny announced. “Each way leading to different obstacles and potential advantages for this race. It looks like Tessa is out in the lead, zooming down the second path.”

Tessa smirked for a moment, but it quickly faded as heard a honking noise. Kalino sped by her, waving as he passed. She glared and slammed the gas pedal. She rammed into Kalino, trying to drive him off the road.

“It would be a shame if you kart quit on you Kalino,” Tessa stated, ramming into the kart again. “Oh wait, no it wouldn’t be.”

“It’s cute how you project your failures on me Tess,” Kalino replied. “But even if I lose it won’t stop people from hating you. Can you blame them?”

Tessa groaned and sped up to ram into him again, only to be knocked back by a giant cushion exiting out of his trunk. She slid off the road to the side. Kalino pushed a button on his cart, and the cushion retracted into his kart. 

“This challenge is basically a Mario Kart L.A.R.P.,” Kalino said. “Aka, a series of games I’ve been mastering since I was seven. So I tricked out my kart with all kinds of dodads and gadgets. I know for a fact I’m not coming in last.”

In another lane, Lita was leading. From behind her, Vance throw quarters from his pocket into a coin slot. His kart ‘bucked’ and made a whinny sound before speeding up.

“And The Giddy Up and Go pasts the Lightning Bolt,” Jenny stated.

“Yeehaw!” Vance cried out. “Better luck next time Lightning Loser.”

Lita shook her head. “You think Vance would have learned his lesson by now. Then you remember he’s Vance.”

Lita pressed a button in her kart. Suddenly, a large boxing glove spring popped out and punched Vance.

“Tarnation!” Vance screamed as he wiped out off the track.

“I’d hate it if you lost the race Vance,” Lita teased as she drove by. “Then I couldn’t kick your keister again!”

“With that Lita punches her way back into the lead,” Jenny announced. “That’s why they call her the knockout.”

“That’s not the only reason,” Toby muttered. 

“Over in the third lane we see Riley and Xidorn jockeying for a position,” Jenny announced.

Riley and Xidorn’s kart were right beside each other, grinding up against each other.

“Your kart is cute Xi,” Riley stated. “Like it’s cute how you think you’ll pass me.”

“Or how cute it’ll be when I cross the finish line before you,” Xidorn replied. 

The two smiled at each other while simultaneously glaring. Both were suddenly driven off the road however, as Diamonique sped down. She honked as her monster truck charged through. She sipped a milkshake comfortably as she ‘drove’ with her feet on the steering wheel, swerving like a madwoman from left to right.

“And the Empress takes a surprising lead,” Jenny announced. “But it’s about to race straight into trouble.”

“Huh?” Diamonique asked. She looked up and almost swallowed her straw. She tried to slam her brakes, but skidded straight into deep mud, taking out a bridge over it.  

“Really?” Diamonique asked. She revved the car, but it was completely stuck. 

Riley and Xidorn stopped just before the mud.

“There goes our way out,” Xidorn sighed. 

“Now what?” Riley asked.

He reversed his car, and sped off in the same direction. “Try not to lose!”

Riley glared and started to reverse her car, when she heard a growling noise. It was Griswold, honking his horn as he stopped before the mud.

“Never fear, Griswold is here!” 

Griswold lowered his scoop, shuffling the mud out of the way and creating a pathway. 

“Nice Gris!” Riley cheered. “The Beardozer was a pretty smart idea after all.”

“I couldn’t simply leave a lady in need,” Griswold replied.

“What about me?” Diamonique asked. “I’m in need, and I’m quite the lady. How about helping me out?”

“Like how you didn’t help us at the last vote?” Griswold asked. “Maybe I’ll work with you down the road...if you can actually make it down the road again.”

Griswold and Riley sped off as Diamonique flipped them off. 

Meanwhile, Ignacio was driving down a winding path in an area that seemed to be like a forest.

“I never understand how with their budget they make this stuff,” Ignacio remarked to himself. “Like this for example. Even if I take it that Toby made this from garbage, how did he make trees?”

“They’re old fake Christmas trees,” Toby shouted from the hot air balloon. “Stop pointing out plot holes or you’ll fall in one.” 

Ignacio raised an eyebrow, but soon become distracted when a tree branch snagged his shirt and tore it off completely. Blushing, he tried to cover himself...but let go of the steering wheel. He veered off and crashed into the kart in front of him, sending Lita and Ignacio straight into a tree. 

“And just like that the two hottest racers are burnt out,” Toby sighed.

“There is a pitstop close by...behind them,” Jenny snickered. 

Lita sighed as she got out and checked under the hood. “Well, my engine is officially screwed up.”

Ignacio smacked himself in the head. “My tires are shot. I’m sorry Lita, I shouldn’t have let go of the steering wheel, I just got embarrassed and I-”

Ignacio went silent as Lita threw her racing shirt at him.

“I know how you get Iggy,” Lita replied. “Don’t sweat it hon.”

Ignacio gulped as his whole face lit up red like Rudolph’s nose. “Lita...your shirt...your...oh my…”

“It’s not a big deal,” Lita said. “I know you need it more than I do. And I am wearing a Now let’s hurry and haul these to the pitstop. If we’re lucky someone screwed up worse than us.”

Ignacio zipped up the racing jacket, which didn’t quite fit him. “Wait! I don’t think we need to.”

From his trunk, the hunk pulled out a toolbox. “I thought in case of a roadside emergency I should bring this for repairs.”

“Unless you brought new tires and a new engine in there, it won’t make much of a difference,” Lita replied.

“I have an engine, you have tires,” Ignacio replied. “The rules don’t say we can’t cross the finish line in the same kart. So let’s almagate our karts into one.”

“I gotcha!” Lita cheered. “We’ll make a superkart and hopefully in enough time to cross that finish line. You’re a genius Iggy.”

Ignacio blushed. “Uh, thank you. Now let’s start by stripping your tires…”

Jenny and Toby sailed over the sky, peering down at the remaining racers. 

“Kalino still holds a lead on this path,” Jenny announced. “Does he have this race in the bag?”

Down below Kalino leisurely drove around surrounding oil slicks, whistling a tune to himself. 

“Not if Turbo Tessa has anything to say about it,” Toby stated. 

Kalino turned around to see Tessa speeding like a maniac down the street. In a swift move she steered through the slicks, speeding up to Kalino.

Kalino shrugged. He drove forward over a rickety bridge that was raised above a trench of water. Pressing a button, he fired a skunk straight into Tessa’s kart.

“Oh please no,” Tessa begged as the skunk sat on her steering wheel. 

“Smell ya later Tessa!” Kalino shouted, honking his horn. This startled the skunk, who sprayed Tessa and her kart. 

“Ahhhhhhh!” Tessa cried. “I can’t feel any of my senses. I CAN’T FEEL ANYTHING!” 

As he crossed the bridge, Kalino slowed down enough to pull on a knot of the rope bridge...causing the whole thing to fall apart. He speed off, as Tessa just crossed the bridge before it sunk into the ravine. Ness and Jasper weren’t so lucky, and fell straight into the water.  

Ness got out and started pushing her kart out of the water. “I should have expected this. Actually it’s pretty lucky that there aren’t any animals in-”


Ness gulped as a row of snapping turtles sailed to her. 

“You know, we didn’t even put any snapping turtles in that trench,” Toby stated.


“Or hammerhead sharks,” Toby added. “That’s not even any salt or freshwater.”


“That doesn’t stop the squids,” Jenny remarked.

Melissa stopped outside of the trench. She looked at her carseat of cockroaches and blew them a kiss. “Alright dears. Let’s show them why this is called the Sweetie Shifter.” 

Melissa reversed slightly. She pushed a heart shaped button before driving forward. Suddenly, a barrage of balloons and set of sails opened it. Her car started to float into the sky.

“Up, up, and away!” Melissa cheered.

“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” Jenny announced.

“I can see the resemblance,” Toby said.

“YOUR MOM!” Jenny shouted. “It looks like Melissa is...hey watch out!”

Melissa’s car bumped against the air balloon as it floated away. “Sorry Ms. Jenny and Mr. Toby! Now then, we have a race to win!”

She pressed another button and bike pedals appeared in her kart. She began pedaling away through the sky. Jasper stared up at her in disbelief.

“Really?” Jasper asked. “A flying car? For a go-kart race? Who thinks to build that? Was...was I suppose to build a flying car? How do you build a flying car…”

“We’re heading into the final stretch!” Jenny announced. “Kalino leads, followed closely by Griswold, Riley, Weston, and Vance. But most of all, it’s Melissa in the skies! It’s still anyone’s race, but the finish line is just in sight! Who will win the five thousand dollars? And who will be today’s big loser?”

Griswold slammed down his bulldozer and charged forward to Kalino. But like Tessa, he was made with a giant cushion, that spun him to the side.

“Be careful Gris!” Riley shouted. “Just focus on finishing. We can’t crash now.”

Griswold spun around and went back to racing. “Yeah, you’re right.”

Suddenly, Lita and Ignacio charged out in some kind of fusion of their cars. Ignacio sweated and blushed heavily as Lita was still topless. 

“See you at the finish line!” Lita cheered as she passed Vance.

Vance didn’t reply, almost running off the road while looking at Lita’s toplessness. 

“We’re almost there!” Jenny announced. “And it looks like Kalino is about to be five thousand dollars richer.” 

“Not if I have anything to say about it!”

Tessa floored it, her kart charging down the racetrack.

“I thought I smelled something nasty,” Lita stated, before pinching her nose. “Though she smells worse than usual…”

Tessa pushed a button in her own kart, causing a large hook to pop out. “You’re not the only one who made a few tricks.”

Pressing another button, the hook fired and landed on the back of Weston’s kart. “Hey, no hitchhikers on the S.S. Cynthia!”

“I’m just catching a ride,” Tessa replied. She swung her kart around using Weston, flinging herself forward from his kart.

She passed him, the hotties, Gris, and Riley.

“Woo!” Riley cheered. “Get it Turbo T!”

“Phew,” Vance cried. “You smell worse than a cow pie baked in a July oven!”

“It’s called the stench of victory,” Tessa replied. Hitting another button, she let out a lubricant slick in front of her. Driving through it, she sped up, now right behind Kalino again.

“You dropped this!” Tessa shouted, tossing the skunk into the back of Kalino’s kart. 

“Thanks,” Kalino replied. “You can have this instead.”

Kalino pressed a couple buttons, one sending a pie barreling out of his trunk. Tessa swerved and avoid it. 

“Thanks, but I’m not hungry,” Tessa replied. “On the other hand, you-”

Tessa swerved to the side, knocking Kalino back and pulling ahead of him.

“-can eat my dust!”

Rhonda waved the checkered flag, as Tessa crossed the finish line. 

“And the winner is Tessa in the Olympian!” Jenny announced. “Now, not only does she have invincibility and the key to the luxury suite, but the trophy and five thousand dollars!”

“Now it’s just a race to see who doesn’t come in last,” Toby stated. 

Kalino crossed next, then Melissa floating across. 

“Yay!” Melissa cheered. “Now do I get down?”

Lita glomped Ignacio into her chest as the crossed. Gris crossed next. He turned to see Weston following. “Wait...where’s Riley?”

Riley slammed at the pedal as her kart slowed more and more. She had been stalled, now far back but still so close. “Come on Autobrobile! We’re almost there…”

Smoke came out from under the hood and the kart stopped completely. She jumped out, opening the hood. Inside some kind of goop had exploded, mucking up the parts. Riley turned back to see the other racers approaching in the distance.

“Riley! Riley!” Griswold shouted. He ran out onto the track, narrowly avoided being hit by Vance. He ran behind the kart, trying to help Riley push it across the finish line. Soon Ness, Jasper and Xidorn were zooming across the finish line. 

“Oh god,” Toby gasped. “Something’s wrong with Riley’s kart.”

“This can’t be happening,” Tessa whispered.

“Just...a...little...bit...more,” Griswold sighed, pushing with all his might. 

“It’s going to be a close finish everyone,” Jenny announced. 

Diamonique waved at the two bros as a tow truck pulled her and her kart across the finish line. 

“And that’s it!” Jenny announced. 

Riley stopped and slumped, but Griswold kept pushing. “Thanks for trying to help Griswold.”

Griswold pushed the kart across the finish line. He punched the kart. “Stupid piece of ****.”

Riley wiped her eye. “It’s alright Gris. Thanks for at least helping me finish.”

The others ran up to Riley. 

“What happened?” Ness asked.

Riley shrugged. “I don't know. One minute everything is fine, then suddenly some goop is stalling my kart and causes it to break down.”

Rhonda walked over shaking her head. “I’m sorry Riley, but you lost the race today. Which means you are eliminated.”

The hot air balloon landed. Toby sighed as he picked up a tray of coffee cups.

“That’s not fair!” Griswold shouted. “Something happened to Riley’s engine. could have been sabotage!”

“It doesn’t matter,” Rhonda stated. “Riley came in last place. That means elimination. The rest of you can collect coffee cups.”

The Public Transportation of Losers pulled up to the side and honked its horn. “Go ahead and board...the meter is running.”

Riley nodded and tried to hold her head up. “Well everybody,’s-”

“Wait,” Tessa yelled. “You can’t do this!”

“Um, yeah I can,” Rhonda replied. “I’m the hostess.”

“There are rules to this,” Tessa stated. “And higher ups who might disagree. You could have a lawsuit on your hands! Do you really think your budget can survive that?”

“That’s cute,” Rhonda giggled. “You can read your contract or try to call the executives...that won’t change this. The rules are that Riley goes home. That’s it, it’s a done deal. You can’t change that.”

Tessa’s composure dropped. “But...but…”

The horn honked again. “I’m sorry Riley… now seriously go, the meter is running.”

“What if I gave Riley my invincibility.”

Everyone turned to look at Tessa. 

“What?” Rhonda asked.

“I won invincibility today,” Tessa stated. “So what if I give it to Riley?”

“That invincibility doesn’t-”

“You said it was a formality yesterday,” Tessa reminded. “Jenny announced it. So I officially have invincibility. And I want to give it to Riley. Invincibility means you can’t be eliminated so...yeah, suck on that.”

“Can she give that away?” Jenny asked.

“I...I don’t know,” Rhonda admitted. “I’m not sure anyone has ever given it away before in the original. It was mentioned once I think, but I’m not sure it was an option…”

“If it was mentioned, then it must be a rule,” Tessa replied. “So give Riley invincibility.”

“But Sweet T,” Riley said, “What if this means you’re eliminated instead.”

“It would suck,” Tessa admitted. “...but it would suck more for you to go home.”

“Alright,” Rhonda said, “you can give up invincibility. Just know that you’ll lose your reward, which means no master suite, no trophy and no five thousand dollars.”

Tessa rolled her eyes. “Who cares? Riley deserves to stay and I want her to...she’s my friend.”

Riley glomped Tessa, almost knocking the Olympian over. “Ooh! Thank you Sweet T!”

“Don’t hug me,” Tessa sighed, “I’ve been skunked.”

“I don’t care,” Riley replied, ignoring how her eyes watered.

“So who's eliminated?” Kalino asked. “The next person to cross the finish line?”

“Uh, fat chance of that,” Diamonique stated. “The rule was who finished last; that’s not me. I’m not afraid to get a lawyer, and I'm rich enough that it’ll be a good one too.”

“Fine, fine, fine!” Rhonda screamed. “We’ll make this simple. Since Riley was saved by Tessa, no one was in last place and the automatic elimination was nulled. So instead we’ll have a vote tonight. Riley we’ll be immune because of Tessa and has the master suite. Jasper’s immunity will also be used tonight. And the five thousand dollars...will go to no one. We’ll just absorb it to the show’s budget.”

“How convenient,” Xidorn whispered. 

“Which means the rest of you may still go home,” Rhonda stated. “You have a few hours to decide.”

That night, Lita, Ness, Ignacio, Griswold, and Jasper met in the game room. Riley just entered and sighed. “Sorry I’m late, I was helping fill the hot tub with tomato juice for Tessa. It’s the least I could do.”

“It’s no big deal,” Lita stated. “You won’t have to share the room with her after tonight.”

“’re not seriously saying we vote off Tessa?” Riley asked.

“Uh, duh!” Lita shouted. “We said we’d vote her off as soon as her immunity was gone. Guess what, it’s gone!”

“That was before she saved Riley!” Griswold shouted.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad she did,” Lita stated. “I want Riley here...and I want her gone. So let’s take advantage of this.”

“I  can’t do that,” Riley stated. “Me and Tessa are buds.”

“Don’t tell me you actually meant that,” Lita sighed. “Riley, we know Tessa is a horrible person! She’s just tricking you. The only reason she gave up invincibility was to use you. She knows she won’t make it far, so this is some last ditch attempt to try and give herself a chance. Well, screw that!”

“I have to agree,” Ignacio stated. “We know Tessa isn’t above this. It’s for the best to get rid of her.”

“I have to disagree,” Griswold replied. “She stuck her neck out for Riley today and Riley thinks she’s changed. If Riley believes so, then I have to agree with her.”

Lita shook her head. “You would.”

“What’s that mean?” Griswold asked.

“Don’t act stupid Gris,” Lita replied. 

“Ness, what do you think?” Ignacio asked.

Ness wrung her hands nervously. “Well, Tessa was a bully...but she did save Riley. It seemed really genuine too. And we need numbers...I don’t know.”

“Are you forgetting how she insulted us?” Lita asked. “How she bullied us? Or our best friend Seraphina? She insulted my brother!”

“She didn’t know he was paraplegic,” Riley tried to say.

“So?” Lita asked. “That doesn’t matter! She insulted my family and tried to hurt me...and she did hurt me.”

“I’d like to say something,” Jasper announced, stepping forward. 

“Yeah?” Griswold asked.

“I’m just glad I have immunity tonight,” Jasper admitted. “Because last time you gave Tessa a second chance, you voted me off instead. And at my first ceremony without safety, I’m not going to be another casualty for Tessa. I’m voting for her tonight.”

“I’m not,” Griswold stated. “She saved Riley, and I wish you could all look past that.”

“Good luck with that Griswold,” Lita replied. “When that blows up in your face and she backstabs you, don’t come crying to me. I’ll be laughing at you instead.”

Lita stormed out of the room. She was about halfway down the hall, when Riley grabbed her wrist.

“Please Lita,” Riley said. “Don’t go, we need to talk about this. We can’t split this vote.”

“The Eagles will gladly vote her off too,” Lita stated. “If you’re too naive not to.”

“I’m not naive,” Riley replied. “I trust Tessa. She’s trying to change and she is my friend. I’m not sorry about it.”

“What about your teammates?” Lita asked. “Are we not your friends?”

“Of course you are,” Riley said. “It’s just...she’s my friend too. But I care about you and I know this is hard-”

“-Really?” Lita asked. “If your friend, why are you defending Tessa? Or in love with my ex?”

“What?” Riley asked.

“I know you like Griswold,” Lita replied. “I know he’s in love with you too.”

“There’s no way Gris is in love with me,” Riley said.

“Sure,” Lita replied. “But you are in love with him, right? Guess the bro code doesn’t apply to your lady friends, huh?”

Before Riley could say anything, Lita charged off. 

Eventually, the Fireworks dispersed. They went their separate ways to try and change the vote in their favor. Outside in the hall, Lita and Ignacio talked to Xidorn.

“Some of the other Fireworks are having doubts,” Lita admitted. “They’re fooled by her little stunt. But I’m not. If the other Eagles work with us we can send her packing.”

“If she really wanted to stay it would be stupid to give up immunity,” Xidorn said.

“Not for someone desperate,” Ignacio replied. “Besides, if they aren’t voting her than it likely means they’re voting an Eagle.”

Xidorn crossed his arms. “And you will too if we don’t? Is that a threat?”

“Of course not,” Ignacio replied. “I was just...just trying to point out the facts.”

“Xidorn we know she’s underhanded,” Lita stated. “Remember her lies accusing your friend at the merge dinner? This was the same thing. She’s a bully. She doesn’t deserve to be here. Seraphina didn’t sacrifice herself for her. She needs to go.”

Xidorn sighed, but nodded his head. “You’re right. I wasn’t saying I’m not voting her’s just weird. But I’ll tell the other Eagles. She made a stupid move tonight.”

Xidorn dashed off to find the other Eagles.

Ignacio sighed and rubbed his face. “I can’t believe it’s this hard to vote off Tessa.”

“It was before,” Lita said.

“You know, I am sorry that happened,” Ignacio said. “You didn’t deserve that.”

“It’s fine,” Lita replied. “She treated you bad on the first day too. I did I.”

“I was dismissive too,” Ignacio reminded. “Funny to think how different things are from then.”

Lita laughed. “Yeah. I’m glad it’s different between us now. I’m thankful you’re here.”

“I’m glad you’re here too,” Ignacio replied. “It means a lot…”

The two looked into each other’s eyes. Then all at once, they held onto each other and started kissing. 

Suddenly, Ignacio pulled away. “Lita, Lita I…”

“What?” Lita asked. “Did I do something wrong? Did I...oh...oh no…”

“I’m sorry,” Ignacio stated. “Really, but I...I don’t like you like that.”

“ there someone else?” Lita asked.

“I don’t know,” Ignacio admitted. “Maybe...but even if there isn’t, I just don’t feel that way about you. I admit I’m very attracted to you, and I shouldn’t have kissed you. I just...I value you as a friend. A really important friend, but only a friend.”

Lita forced a laugh, pretending to cry. “No, no. I just see you as a friend. I know you couldn’t like me...I just had a moment of weakness. I wanted to feel some comfort.”

“Lita I…” Ignacio said before trailing off.

“This was stupid,” Lita replied. “Let’s just forget this ever happened. I’ll see you tonight.” 

She ran off. Ignacio banged his head against the wall. 

Weston crossed his arms and pouted. “This challenge has been crazy, and so is everything after it. But it’s distracting from what I want to really know! Who voted for Cynthia? Who flipped the script? It wasn’t a flash drive was it? I just can’t figure it out…”

Diamonique applied eyeliner while looking at her handheld mirror. “I’m sure you’ve already figured it out. I voted off Cynthia.”

Diamonique closed her mirror and smirked. “Sure, Cynthia was my friend. But I didn’t come back to have friends. Nor to wait and quietly get my revenge. I came back to set their little world ablaze. Right before the votes I found out how the Fireworks were voting from Jasper. I saw a chance and I took it. I don’t regret it either.”

Diamonique reopened her mirror and began sprucing her hair. “Why would I regret it? Now Melissa only trusts me; I have her in my pocket. I have good faith with Jasper since I helped his vote. That means I have him and all his connections from the Fireworks. Even better, I can pin it on Kalino. He’s as a dead as a chicken in a chicken nugget now.”

That night, everyone gathered at in the Haunted Internet Cafe. The mood was uncomfortably quiet. 

“Welcome to this impromptu ceremony,” Rhonda sighed. “As you know, Tessa gave up invincibility to Riley, who is now immune from the votes. Likewise, Jasper has immunity. The rest of you are fair game...and one will be going home.”

Melissa cast her vote for Tessa. “I do think what Tessa did was very sweet...but I can’t vote for one of my teammates or my new friends. I do want to give you a second chance...but as Lita said, you had one and you wasted it. Sorry.”

Ness waved the mouse back and forth before reluctantly clicking on Tessa. “It’s for the best. She’s a bully. She’s said really mean things about me and my friends...but I have a bad feeling about this ceremony…”

Ness darted her eyes and clicked on Kalino’s face. “Just to be safe…I mean it won’t matter in the long run, right?”

Rhonda handed a cup of coffee to Riley and Jasper. “Enjoy this peppermint mocha blend. If I don’t call your name and you don’t receive a cup like these two, then you should know what to do. Weston, Vance.”

She tossed the two cups who nodded. “Ignacio, Diamonique.”

Diamonique winked at the hunk as she caught her cup.

“Melissa, Xidorn, and Lita.”

Lita took a sip of her coffee and glared at the Olympian on the other side of the cafe. “Hmph. Guess someone didn’t decide to vote for me again. Can’t say the same…”

“Ness,” Rhonda said. “Now the the next coffee cup goes to...Kalino!”

Kalino fired a finger gun and clicked his tongue as he collected his cup. “Thanks Rhonda dear. This sounds delish.”

“Oh no,” Riley whispered.

“You had some votes to be in the bottom three,” Rhonda explained. “But not enough to send you home...this time. But our final coffee cup goes to…”

Tessa grabbed her luggage and stood up. “It has to be me going. I understand that-oww!”

A cup of coffee bounced off her head. Rhonda glared at her. “Stop interrupting me! The final cup goes to you. Which means going home is-”

“Griswold,” Riley sighed. 

The others gasped. 

“I said don’t interrupt me,” Rhonda grumbled.

Griswold sat motionless. “Wow…”

“How?” Ness asked.

“It wasn’t supposed to be Gris,” Lita whispered. “It was supposed to be her…”

“Griswold I’m afraid you must-”

“Wait!” Riley shouted. “Can’t I transfer my immunity or something to him?”

“Not after the elimination,” Rhonda replied. 

“Well...I was supposed to go home,” Riley stated. “So, can’t I go in his place?”

“,” Rhonda said. “Sorry Riley, but this elimination is final.”

“But, but...”

Riley stopped as she felt Griswold’s hand on her shoulder. She wiped her nose on her sleeve as he stood up. “It’s okay Ry. It’s okay.”

“No,” Riley replied, trying not to cry. “No it isn’t. If anythi-”

Griswold pulled her into a hug. “I wouldn’t want you to go in my place. If it was between you or me today, then I’m glad it was me.”

Griswold forced a laugh. “I guess I survived the last vote just to go now. Well, you can’t win them all.”

“Griswold,” Ignacio stated. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think that...that this could-”

Griswold grabbed the model and gave him a hug. “It happens. Sucks to be blindsided, but it happens.”

Ness glomped Griswold. “ were an amazing team captain.”

He chuckled. “I’m going to miss my Fireworks. It was the best team I was a part of, even better the Bulldogs. Stay strong, I’m rooting for you guys.”

“Hate to wrap up this feeling session,” Rhonda stated. “Really, I could milk this all day, but your ride will be here any minute Gris. You better get going.”

Griswold nodded, waving as he rushed out the Revolving Doors of Shame.

Lita clutched at her scarf, using it to dry her eyes. “I...I caused Griswold’s elimination. Didn’t I?”

Kalino gave a small wave to Griswold as he exited.

“You seemed like a cool dude Gris,” Kalino stated. “Too bad we were on opposite sides. I hoped taking out your little girlfriend today in the race would have done you in. You’d volunteer to take her place like the last challenge. Or maybe she’d just go home. Either way, a win-win. But then Tessa ruined that. I figured at least we could get rid of her.”

Kalino smirked. “And then Xidorn told me about the rift between the Fireworks. We could have voted Tessa off...but it seemed like a better idea to pull the rug out from under you all and dispose of their fearless leader. Not to mention I knew you were a little too snoopy bud. So I convinced some of my old Eagles to do it...and my new friend.”

Tessa walked up to Riley, who stared at the door. “Riley…”

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” Riley admitted. “I knew one of us would go someday...but he’s my best bro. I…”

“He’s not gone yet,” Ignacio stated. 

Riley nodded, running through the doors after him.

Griswold sat down at the bench, holding his head in hands. He wiped his face on his sleeve. The Public Transportation of Losers was just down the street.

“Gris Bear!” Riley shouted. “Griswold!”

Griswold stood up and caught Riley in his arms as she practically ran into him. “Hey…”

Riley forced a smile. “I just wanted to talk to you once more before you go.”

“I’m going to miss you,” Griswold stated.

“Me too,” Riley replied. 

Griswold pulled Riley closer and the two began making out. The Public Transportation of Losers arrived.

Riley pulled away. “Gris…”

“I’m sorry,” Griswold replied. “I know, I finally tell a girl how I feel and I’m going home. But Riley, I realize that the girl I’ve always wanted, someone I could talk to and hang out with is you. I like you Riley…”

“I like you too!” Riley replied. “I didn’t realize it at first, but you’re fun, sweet...and cute.”

The bus doors opened as the driver honked his horn.

“I should have said something sooner,” Griswold sighed. “But when this show is wanna go out?”

“Yeah!” Riley replied.

The two shared a laugh before Griswold got on the door. Riley stayed, waving goodbye as the bus departed...

Chapter 17 You Ain't Scene Nothing Yet

Ness entered the dining hall the next morning; it was empty. She started to head to the cafeteria line, when she heard humming from the kitchen.

Peeking in through the serving hatch, she saw Melissa flipping pancakes. Melissa smiled and waved. “Hey are you feeling?”

“Terrible,” Ness admitted. “But it looks like I’m doing better than the others.”

Melissa nodded. “I understand. It seems every morning the hotel is empty and quiet now. Everyone’s just so sad.”

Melissa turned back to the stove and flipped another pancake. “I thought I could make some breakfast to serve some smiles. Any requests?”

Ness shook her head. “I don’t know if I’m hungry anymore. I wanted Lita to come down with me. She isn’t hungry either.”

“It’s not like her to miss a meal,” Melissa admitted. “Maybe I could make her something special for breakfast, and you can take it to her. Just to make sure.”

“Thank you Melissa,” Ness replied. “You’re too sweet.”

Melissa smiled, then frowned. She shifted uncomfortably for a moment. “Ness...could you please come into the kitchen for a second?”

“Um, sure,” Ness replied. “But I’m not really good helping in the kitchen. Like with ovens. Or stoves. Or bowls. Especially bowls. Honestly, standing in the kitchen is pretty dangerous fo-”

“It’s important,” Melissa stated. “Please?”

Ness nodded and entered, following Melissa towards the pantry in the back. Melissa closed the door behind them.

“Why are we in the pantry?” Ness asked.

“For privacy’s sake,” Melissa replied. “So no one could see or overhear me showing you...”

Ness gulped. “Uhh-”


From her pocket, Melissa revealed her golden immunity flash-drive.

Ness gasped, stepping back...and tripping...into a shelf of food. “You found the golden immunity flash drive!”

“No,” Melissa admitted. “I received it from a reward. The other two could still be hiding.”

“So there might be three of them in play?” Ness squeaked. “That’s a little much. But, why are you telling me?”

“Because I trust you,” Melissa admitted. “And I like you.”

Melissa put the flash-drive away, then helped dust Ness off. “Really, I wanted to would you feel about a girls' alliance?”

Ness stepped back again, though Melissa grabbed her before she could trip.

“A girls' alliance?” Ness asked.

Melissa smiled and nodded. “You and your roommates have been really kind to me, especially when I felt like I’ve needed it. So, I’m proposing a girls' alliance!”

“But what about your old Eagles?” Ness asked.

“I would want Diamonique to join,” Melissa replied. “She's someone else I trust. I know she’d love to be part of a girls' alliance.”

“And the other Eagles?” Ness asked.

Melissa sighed. “I genuinely like the boys. But I don’t trust them. They didn’t tell me about the votes for Diamonique, Hayden...Aiden, and now Griswold. I also sadly suspect one already betrayed the team and sent out Cynthia.”

“I don’t blame you for not trusting them,” Ness admitted.

“And while I don’t like to be suspicious,” Melissa continued. “The boy Eagles have all voted together. It’s possible they’ve already formed a guys' alliance.”

“Maybe,” Ness said. “Those tend to form actually.”

“Then this maybe a preemptive strike,” Melissa said. “I feel like once the Fireworks are gone the boys will vote me out. But the teams are over. I want to work with someone I trust. So...what do you say? You, me, Lita, Riley, and Diamonique team up! I’m happy to use the golden flash drive to help any of us!”

“Um...considering we didn’t vote with Riley last time, I don’t know if she would join forces with us.”

“That’s true,” Melissa replied.

“And I’m...I’m not sure,” Ness admitted. “I should probably talk about this with Lita first.”

“Of course,” Melissa replied. “I admit I am a bit hesitant about a secret alliance. No pressure! And if not, no hard feelings. I still appreciate everything you’ve done.”

Ness smiled. “Me too! I promise no matter what, I’m not planning on voting for you anytime soon.”

“I  wasn’t expecting that out of Melissa,” Ness admitted. “But I don’t know. On the one hand, this alliance could be really helpful. It would at least a lot of votes going another way. The icing on the cake is that Lita and I have the Firework’s flash drive...meaning we could use it thanks to Melissa’s golden flash drive. That’s two immunities to help our alliance! I really like Melissa too. She’s sweet, helpful, and I think a little too lonely too.”

Ness slumped in the chair. “But if we do join...what about Riley and Ignacio? I don’t want to abandon them! And I don’t want the Fireworks to really be over...”

Knock, knock.

Kalino yawned as he walked up to his door. He threw it open, to see Ignacio standing there. Ignacio averted his gaze; Kalino was nude naturally.

“Iggy?” Kalino asked. “What are you doing up at this hour?”

“It’s eleven in the morning,” Ignacio replied.

“That early?” Kalino asked.

“Kalino, do you remember the other day when you offered to help me?” Ignacio asked. “You know with the whole…”

“Your nudey fear?” Kalino asked.

Ignacio blushed. “Yes, that. I...I think I need it.”

“Sure mannnnnnn,” Kalino replied. “But, why now?”

“It’s impairing my challenge abilities,” Ignacio said. “It’s cost me quite a few challenges before. Now, I almost caused mine or my friend’s elimination because of it.”

Kalino nodded. “I gotcha. Well, let’s get going.”

Kalino started walking and heading to the stairs.

“Where are you going?” Ignacio asked.

“To get something to eat,” Kalino replied. “Then we’re going to work on this. So come on!”

“But...but your not wearing any…”

Ignacio sighed and followed.

In the lobby, Weston was on his knees. He peered at the carpet, scratching his chin. He hold up a pizza cutter to his face and squinted. He nodded, pulling a notepad out of his pocket and writing  on it. “Hmm...yes, yes. This is a carpet.”

“I’ve decided I'm going to become a detective,” Weston explained, “That way I can figure out which Eagle betrayed Cynthia and avenge my sweet little slayer. I’m looking for clues. I couldn’t find a magnifying glass, but this looks like one. Now, where am I going to find a clue?”

At the same time, Jasper was knocking on someone’s door. Lita opened the door; her hair was disheveled and bangs were hanging from her eyes.

“Oh,” Lita replied. “It’s you Jasper. What’s up?”

“I wanted to talk,” Jasper stated.

“I’m...not really up for it right now,” Lita admitted. “ is you. Is it important?”

Jasper nodded.

“Come on in,” Lita replied.

Jasper followed her. He seemed sweaty, and looked away from Lita. “Are you okay? You seemed really upset last night.”

Lita sighed. “I’m the biggest idiot here Jasper. I don’t think I’ve done one thing right on this show.”

"I don’t think you’re an idiot,” Jasper stated.

“I was so focused on revenge,” Lita said. “So single-minded in it...and because of that my friend is gone.”

“It’s not your fault,” Jasper said.

“No,” Lita replied. “It is. If I had made sure we voted together then-”

“It’s my fault,” Jasper said.

“What?” Lita asked.

“I...I voted for Griswold,” Jasper admitted. “That’s why I’m here. I want to tell you I’m sorry...”

Lita started at him, but sighed. “I can’t be mad at you. I told you to vote for what was best for you.”

"I wanted to vote with you,” Jasper admitted. “But let someone talk me into Griswold. That it would be...better for you.”

“You voted off Griswold for me?” Lita asked.

“He was your ex,” Jasper said. “If he and Riley hooked up...I didn’t want you to see that.”

“You didn’t think to talk to me?” Lita asked. “Run it by me before you do it on my behalf?”

“I wasn’t thinking,” Jasper said. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you.”

Lita turned away. “I’d like to be left alone, okay?”

Jasper nodded and let himself out.

The door opened.

“What are you still doing here?”

“Uh...I live here?”

Lita turned to see it was Ness. “Oh Ness...sorry it was...nothing.”

“I brought you some breakfast,” Ness replied. “Melissa whipped it up special. Plus, we need to talk about something…”

Jasper facepalmed. “I’m such an idiot! The only person to remember my name...and I backstab them. Now she’ll never talk to me again. I knew voting Griswold wasn’t smart. But Kalino...I can’t blame him. I just thought about how Griswold could date someone like Lita and then break her heart. If he dated Riley, he’d just break Lita's heart again."

Jasper blushed. “I guess I was a little jealous too. He just had couldn’t I be?”

Ignacio followed Kalino through a busy street in Washington. Kalino sat down at a bench, patting the spot next to him. Ignacio sat next to him, then moved away slightly.

“So what have you devised as a way to help?” Ignacio asked.

Kalino took a lotus position. “Meditation mannnn. One of the oldest forms of self-discovery.”

“You want me to meditate?” Ignacio asked.

“Trust the system Iggy,” Kalino replied.

Ignacio sighed, but took the lotus position all the same. He closed his eyes.

“Try to focus on something,” Kalino explained. “It can be breathing or just a thought that makes you happy. Focus intently, tuning out everything else. Don’t be upset if your thoughts stray; it means your mind still works. Acknowledge it, then return to focusing.”

Ignacio nodded and the two sat in silence as they started meditating.

After about ten minutes, Kalino spoke up. “You feel relaxed?”

“Very,” Ignacio admitted.

“Sweet,” Kalino replied. “Now strip.”

Ignacio’s eyes shot open. “What?”

“We should probably start slower,” Kalino replied. “It is our first time. Just take off your shirt.”

“Why?” Ignacio asked.

“How are you going to learn to be comfortable?” Kalino asked. “If you can focus on meditating while shirtless, then we’re making progress. Now, stay relaxed.”

“Alright,” Ignacio conceded. He began removing his shirt, till someone whistled. He immediately lowered it. “Maybe we should try somewhere less busy.”

“That’s why I chose here,” Kalino replied. “How do you model?”

“That’s different,” Ignacio said. “Then I just have to focus on why I’m modeling; the money. To help my family.”

“That’s why you want to win this show, right?” Kalino asked. “So focus on that in challenges.”

“I try,” Ignacio sighed. “But it’s not the same controlled environment. Also...I’d like to be able to handle myself, even when not in a challenge.”

Kalino nodded. “I see. You know, I used to be uncomfortable about my body.”

“You?” Ignacio asked. “Really?”

“Oh yeahhh,” Kalino replied. “For awhile I thought I was too skinny, too lanky. Then I realized I liked who I was and my body. It wasn’t like everyone else’s but it was mine. I embraced it!”

“That’s an understatement,” Ignacio replied.

"Not to mention being attractive is a cultural standard,” Kalino stated. “It just illustrates your wealth and is reinforced by that same consumership.”

Ignacio started at Kalino. “Huh?”

“I mean think about it,” Kalino continued. “In the past, being obese was seen as attractive because it was a sign you could afford to eat. In the same way, ivory skin was a sign of beauty in Medieval Europe. That’s because the rich didn’t have to work, so they weren't in the sun getting a tan."

“I never thought of it like that,” Ignacio said. “You’re full of surprises Kalino.”

“Like a mystery flavored Oreo,” Kalino agreed. “Point is, how your body looks doesn’t really matter. Bodies naturally age anyway. What matters is you accept it cause you can’t trade it.”

That’s true,” Ignacio replied. “It’s not that I necessarily dislike how I look. I just want people to stop treating me like…”

“A special on meat at the butcher’s shop?” Kalino suggested.

“Yeah,” Ignacio said. “I...I’m trying to be more comfortable with attraction. I don’t want to be ashamed for having feelings and being attracted, but it’s hard when people view me as that.”

“Kind of like a child star,” Kalino said. “They can’t explore being adult and being sexy without being condemned on one side and the other side defining their sexuality and forcing their agenda.”

“In a way,” Ignacio replied. “I also know that there are people who have the same problem to a much adverse degree.”

Kalino shrugged. “I think the only thing you can do is try to ignore them. Easier said than done.”

“I suppose,” Ignacio sighed, throwing off his shirt and trying to meditate again.

“Just remember that your desires are your's dude,” Kalino replied. “So is your body. Self-confidence is the key.”

A small crowd began forming around them, some even taking pictures of Ignacio shirtless.

“What do you focus on when you meditate?” Ignacio asked.

“A little island,” Kalino replied. “It’s small but someday...I’m going to own it.”

That night, Melissa whipped up some of her special dishes to draw everyone out to dinner. It worked, with all the newcomers coming out but somewhat divided.

At their own table, Xidorn and Vance were drawing sketches of traps.

“Our snare was a complete bust,” Vance stated. “It was worse than a catfish in a henhouse. That book was bonkers if it thought that would catch a horse.”

“Maybe,” Xidorn admitted. “But I’m really proud of how much you’ve improved at your reading.”

Vance blushed. “I haven’t done that well.”

“Are you kidding?” Xidorn asked. “You’re a champ!”

“Well, I owe it to you,” Vance replied. “Now then, let’s catch this pony punk before the next challenge!”

Lita and Ness exited the cafeteria line and sat across from Diamonique and Melissa in the corner.

“Sup girls,” Diamonique greeted in-between bites. “I’ve heard about the deal on the table. You takin or you flakin?”

“Again, there’s no pressure,” Melissa added. “It's a lot to ask. So if you prefer not to then we sincer-”

“We’re in,” Lita stated.

“Really?” Melissa asked. She beamed brightly.

“It sounds like what’s best for our game,” Lita replied. “So, let’s form a girl's alliance.”

“Yup,” Ness said.

Ness looked over at the other table where Ignacio sat. He noticed, smiling and waving at her. She forced a smile of her own and waved back.

“Thank you again for another wonderful tour Rolly! I’ll show myself out.”

That old lady, Ms. Holmes, entered in through the dining hall.

“Oop,” Ms. Holmes said, “sorry to interrupt your meal dears.”

“Hey!” Riley said. “Aren’t you that old lady I hit with my moped the other day?”

“I certainly am,” Ms. Holmes replied. “Say, would any of you youngins care for some hard butterscotch that’s been sitting in my purse for awhile?”

“Heck yeah!” Kalino replied.

Ms. Holmes started handing out treats to the few takers.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” Xidorn said, “I’ve noticed that you seem to be around The Pentagram a lot. Do you work for the show?”

“Oh no,” Ms. Holmes replied. “I’m just an admirer of architecture. Use to sell houses before the Housing Market collapsed. I’ve actually been writing a book about it.”

“A book?” Jasper asked.

Ms. Holmes nodded. “I was just so inspired since Rachel let me tour it! It like's I feel the ghosts of the victims screaming. The owner watching me, guarding his treasure.”

“That’s a horrifying thought,” Lita stated.

“Wait, take two steps back,” Diamonique said. “There’s treasure in this hotel?”

“Just the owner’s most valuable possession,” Ms. Holmes stated.

“What?” Xidorn asked.

“Chicken butt,” Kalino whispered to Vance, who snickered.

“No one knows,” Ms. Holmes replied. “But many rich and famous people lived here and had their valuables stolen...along with their lives.”

Lita gulped, grabbing Ness for comfort.

“Do you mean that no one has actually found it in this place after all these years?” Tessa asked.

Ms. Holmes shook her head. “Many people have looked; cops, treasure hunters, young kids who want to get rich quick. None of have found. Some haven’t been found since.”

Lita grabbed Ness even tighter, strangling her neck.

“Of course, when the owner died he said it was in the heart,” Ms. Holmes added. “But that he cursed the hotel to be haunted by his spirit and the spirit of all his victims. If anyone ever tried to find his treasure, he would ensure they’d help guard it...forever.”

Ness’ face was starting to turn blue now.

“Wow,” Kalino said. “That treasure could be worth more than even the two mil.”

“Did you not hear the spooky, scary, serial killer ghost crap?” Lita asked, finally letting Ness go.

“You’re right,” Kalino said. “Plus, it’s probably super hard to find.”

“Be safe dears,” Ms. Holmes said. “If you see a man in a top hat, don’t go near. It’s the owner’s ghost. Now I’m off to bridge club!”

Ms. Holmes shuffled off leaving everyone to their meals.

From outside the doors, Rhonda and her co-horts listened. They smiled and followed Ms. Holmes as she exited.

“Wonderful job Ms. Holmes,” Rhonda said. “You read the script almost perfectly.”

“Oh thank you Ricky,” Ms. Holmes replied. “I always wanted to be on TV! Now I can say I’ve been on one of my favorite shows. Did I act well?”

“Oh yeah,” Jenny giggled. “They ate up that ghost story.”

“Wonderful,” Ms. Holmes replied. “Although I am a bit perplexed. Why did you want me to share the legends with those sweet kids?”

“Just to help set up something,” Rhonda replied with a smirk. “They’ll find out soon enough…”'

The next day, everyone seemed to be moving a little more. Everyone except Riley. Tessa returned to their luxury suite.

“Hey, I’m back,” Tessa greeted.

Riley sat on a massage table. Her special attendant, the blonde shirtless butler from the promotional video, seemed to be giving some kind of deep back massage. Riley looked up with pineapple slices over her eyes.

“How’s that Special Florian Island Back Massage?” Tessa asked.

“It’s amazing,” Riley replied with no tone.

“Tameron dear, could you get us some lunch?” Tessa asked the butler.

“I will prepare it myself,” Tameron replied. “What may I serve you?”

“What are you feeling like Riley?” Tessa asked. “Maybe burritos?”

Riley buried her face in the massage table and sighed heavily.

“Maybe not,” Tessa replied. “How about just some good old pizza?”

“With jalapenos,” Riley whispered.

“It would be my pleasure,” Tameron said.

The butler bowed and exited the door. Tessa turned to Riley and opened her mouth, before closing it again.

“Ruff! Ruff!” someone barked outside of the door while knocking on it.

“Hello?” Tessa asked.

Tessa opened the door to find Weston smelling the floor. “What are you doing?”

“Sniffing for clues,” Weston replied. “All the detectives I’ve seen do it.”

“What detectives?” Tessa asked.

“Well,” Weston replied. “There’s Scooby Doo, Mcgruff the Crime Dog, Jack Russell the Dog Detective…”

“I get it,” Tessa replied. “Did you want something?”

“I have a few questions,” Weston replied. “Where were you the night of February 14th, 1642?”

“I wasn’t born,” Tessa replied.

Weston snapped his fingers. “There goes my black magic theory...for now.”

“Am I done being insulted?” Tessa asked.

“One last question mam,” Weston said. “Did you vote for Cynthia?”

“That’s what this is about?” Tessa asked. “No, I didn’t. I voted for Kalino. I was under the impression the other Fireworks were and I hoped he would go home. But we can’t have nice things. Can I go now?”

Weston wrote this all down on his notepad. "Okay, but don’t leave the country.”

Tessa slammed the door in his face. She turned around, but was startled to see Riley right behind her. “Ahh! You scared me…”

“You know,” Riley said. “The day before the challenge, Griswold and I talked about your vote.”

“You don’t believe me?” Tessa asked.

“I believe you,” Riley replied. “But I also believe that you’re hiding something about it...”

Tessa gulped. “What? Why would you say that?”

“Are you working with Diamonique?” Riley asked.

Tessa sighed. “How did you figure it out?”

“Diamonique was the only one Griswold told about our plans to vote Kalino,” Riley replied. "You mentioned some eliminated peeps weren’t happy with him. They were on the same team. So she told you about the plan.”

"Yes,” Tessa sighed. “The first night we returned we made an alliance. She said we had a common enemy and I was desperate. That night she told me she couldn’t betray the Eagles, but if I voted with y’all…”

“Then Kalino would go home,” Riley surmised. “Sadly, she didn’t hear about the changes in plans.”

“Otherwise that punk wouldn’t be here,” Tessa said.

“Do you think Kalino orchestrated Gris’ elimination?” Riley asked. “Gris didn’t like him or trust him.”

"That’s because Griswold is smart,” Tessa stated. “I hate to sound crazy and blame Kalino for every nasty elimination in this game...but I think Kalino was behind every nasty elimination in this game.”

Riley shrugged and flopped down against the bed.

“Are you going to be okay?” Tessa asked.

“Yeah,” Riley replied. “Soon I’ll be back to my chill myself. I just need a little bit a time. But I’m going to keep fighting.”

“Hmm,” Weston said, scratching in his notebook. “Tessa was going to vote for Kalino, just like we feared. But then again, Kalino said he had a plan and wasn’t worried. Was his plan to vote off Cynthia? But...why would he tell us to vote together? And if the Fireworks were voting for Kalino like Tessa believed, why would the Fireworks work with him? This doesn’t add up, and not just cause I’m bad at math…”

The next day, early in the afternoon, Vance and Xidorn walked into the hotel carrying a cage together.

“I can’t believe it!” Vance shouted, dropping his end of the cage.

Xidorn fell over. “I told you I didn’t think this trap was a great idea.”

“Well it was in that stupid book,” Vance replied. “We stocked it with all kinds of bait; carrots, oats, Equestrian magazines.”

“To be fair it did take the bait,” Xidorn admitted. “The horse just stole it...and left us an IOU. I’m pretty sure it’s taunting us at this point.”

“We’ve been outsmarted by a pony,” Vance said. “I’ve never been so humiliated.”

“Really?” Xidorn asked. “What about on the show?”

Vance scoffed. “When would I have been embarrassed on this show? I did make the merge.”

“What about the time Lita beat you? Or you threw up? Or Weston fed you with his feet...and you threw up again? Or that other time Lita beat you? Or that other, other time that Lita beat you? Or-”

“-I don’t remember any of those,” Vance stated. “Must be confusing me with Ness or something. Anyway, that horse doesn’t even have thumbs like us! Or six fingers on it’s hand neither!”


“Let go! I said I hav t’ see dat lying, no good, rotten *******!”

Xidorn turned to see Toby escorting some redheaded lady out, as Rhonda and Jenny followed. She was dressed in a pink bathrobe and slippers, with curlers falling out of her hair and heavy makeup on her face. Most of her teeth were gone, and her face looked much older than she was.

“I have no idea who you are lady,” Rhonda replied. “but this is private property!”

“What’s going on?” Xidorn asked.

Vance’s eyes widened. “I think I left the stove on in my bathroom. I think we should-”

The woman jerked her head around and sneered. “You!”

Vance froze, staring at her. “Uh...who? Me?”

“Don’t you play dumb, you pig!” she shouted. “This where ya ben hidin’ Vancent?”

“Vancent?” Xidorn asked. “Vance, do you know her?”

“I’m his sister Cheryl!” the woman yelled, breaking free from his grasp. “I came here for my free stay!”

Rhonda rolled her eyes. “For the last time, you don’t get a-”

“I heard 'bout your episode,” Cheryl stated. “Them other kin of your little circus got to come. Well, I wasn’t invited! So I want me free room!”

She turned to Vance, stepping towards him and pointing her finger in his face. “And you! I want the money you owe me!”

“Owe you?” Vance asked. “I don’t owe you anything Cheryl! Uh...especially because I don’t know who you are stranger.”

“What’s going on?” Xidorn asked. “Are you from the ranch Vance grew up on?”

Cheryl turned to Xidorn. She started laughing and shaking her head. “Oh that what this idgit done tell ya? He ain’t from no ranch! Heck, he used to be scarred o’ pigs!”

“No I wasn’t!” Vance shouted. “That’s a lie!”

“A lie?” Cheryl asked. “Ya grew up in a trailer park! Ya ain’t got no ranch, no money. He done ain’t even finish school! He’s a joke!”

“N-no!” Vance shouted. “That’s not true!”

Cheryl rolled your eyes. “Pa knew you ran away. He don’t care; knew you wasn’t smart enough to do nothin’. But now it turns out ya have been working and living at a rodeo all these years? Ya haven’t sent us a single penny!”

“We don’t have time for this,” Rhonda stated. “We have to get to the challenge on time. Kick her out already.”

Toby nodded, grabbing Cheryl and hoisting her off. She tried to claw at Vance, but he stepped back and tried to get at him.

“You hear me Vancent!” she screamed. “I want my money!”

“I’m...I don’t owe you anything!” Vance yelled, wiping his eyes. “I don’t know you! I’ve never know you!”

“You can lie to all these people,” Cheryl shouted. “But no matter what you do, you’ll always be a screw-up. You know that.”

Toby took her out through the doors. Rhonda shook her head, telling Jenny to announce the challenge over the intercom before leaving to pull around the bus. Vance just stood there for a moment.

“Vance,” Xidorn said. “Are you...are you-”

“It ain’t true,” Vance stated, starting to tear up. “She...she’s lying. You know that, right?”

Vance looked up at Xidorn, but his friend couldn’t meet his eyes. “Vance, it’s not that-”

“Challenge time weenies!” Jenny announced. “Be at the bus in five minutes! Or you won’t make the final cut…”

Vance ran out of the door before Xidorn could say anything else.

The newcomers traveled through the streets at Washington. Xidorn looked to the back of bus, where Vance sat isolated from everyone else.

“Is Vance okay?” Weston whispered. “He looks...sad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him sad before.”

"It’s...hard to explain,” Xidorn replied, turning away. “I need to talk with him...when he’s ready.”

“Okay,” Weston said. “Maybe it’s just because I’m a detective now, but I think something is wrong with Vance and it has to do with Xidorn. Maybe Xidorn wants to die Vance’s mustache? Ooh! It could be light green and we could call it a pistach!”

The bus pulled up through some kind of movie or television studio.

“Are we doing a film challenge?” Xidorn asked.

“It’s not the aliens again?” Tessa sighed while cringing.

“If only,” Xidorn replied. “Maybe then you’d be voted off again.”

“Not to mention those aliens were super cool!” Weston stated.

Sooo cool,” Xidorn swooned. “But I'm guessing this might be a send up to a previous season. Our season has done a lot of those, especially to the original ‘Golden Age’ seasons.”

“Golden Age?” Lita asked.

“That’s a fan term for the original six or seven seasons,” Ness replied. “It’s when the show was at its peak popularity.”

“It was so big it had a spin-off, an aftermath,” Xidorn recalled, "and even a trading card game."

"So those foremost seasons are the most beloved?” Ignacio asked.

“More like the most well-known and remembered,” Xidorn stated. “I’m mixed to hate on most...but I admit to being pedantic fan.”

“I liked most of them,” Ness admitted. “Well...except season five.”

“There were a lot of seasons after that,” Weston stated. “I remember Easton and I use to marathon them till 2 am on Saturdays…”

“Did they ever do an American season before this?” Ignacio asked.

“I remember reading rumors on the Reddit page and the Wiki,” Xidorn recalled. “But the plug was pulled. Apparently it was bad. They even had-”

“Don’t talk about it.”

Everyone turned to look at Rhonda. “I just...we don’t want the audience to associate America and Total Drama as bad. We just got the ratings up!"

“Cut this bit out then,” Diamonique replied. “What was it?”

“One season had a contest where a fan won the chance to compete,” Xidorn stated.

Weston cringed. “Wait, that first boot? They were on the American season?”

“First boot?” Diamonique asked. “You mean the fan?”

Ness nodded her head. “This fan was the first American to be on the show in years...and they didn’t have a good time.”

"Viewers call them 'The First Boot Fan," Xidorn added.

"Creative," Tessa said.

“Rumor is the first boot was a part of the American reboot...I assume for promotional reasons,” Xidorn concluded.

“Exactly how many seasons are there?” Lita asked.

Ness tapped her chin. “Well, that depends on if you count spin-offs. Or the current airings seasons in Canada.”

“Man, this show started airing when we were kids,” Riley stated. “That just makes me feel old.”

Melissa scratched her head. “I thought Miss Rhonda said this was a reboot? The first season in years?”

Rhonda shifted in the driver’s seat. “Uhh...I never said that. I mean, well...those recent Canada seasons haven’t aired in the US. Most new TD seasons haven’t for along time. So, this is kind of a reboot for the States!”

“But I thought you said that-”'

“-Nope,” Rhonda replied. “Never said that.”

“Total Drama did stop airing for a period,” Xidorn stated. “Ever since the original host disappeared. But they aired the first new season in a long time last year.”

“You were working on the sequel to that season earlier this summer, right Rhonda?” Ignacio asked.

“Don’t remind me,” Rhonda replied.

Ness blushed as she stared off in the confessional. “I really liked Canada's last season. It was Christmas themed actually. And there were some uh...really cute guys. I heard a few were on the new season. I wonder if Rhonda could introduce us someday...for an autograph of course!”

“So you think this challenge will be based on an old one?” Diamonique asked.

Xidorn shrugged. “The second original season was themed around movies. It’s not loved by the fans, so I’m predicting this may only a tribute to the season.”

Rhonda slammed her foot on the brakes, throwing everyone out of their seats. “Once again, you’re correct Xidorn! A lot of old movie props that belong to the Total Drama brand are being moved to Japan. But first, they’re passing through here! So we’re using them for a challenge. I’ll explain more after you’ve changed.”

“Changed?” Ignacio asked. “Please don’t say we’re-”

Ignacio now stood outside a studio, wearing only a leopard print loincloth and a bone necklace like a caveman. “-wearing costumes.”

“I like them,” Lita stated. She was dressed in some kind of skin tight superhero suit, complete with a domino mask. “What’s not to love?”

Ignacio pulled down his loincloth. “I can’t imagine.”

Everyone had been dressed in a different outfit representing a movie genre.

Riley wore a tuxedo and dark sunglasses like a spy. Vance was dressed like an adventurer, including a a pith hat, big glasses, and an oversized, grey mustache over his own. Weston was a noir detective, even coated in makeup that made him look like he was in a black and white film.

Ness was dressed as a Christmas elf, befitting her size as the smallest newcomer. She had pointy ears, pointy shoes, and a pointy hat with a that was just a little too big for her head. Melissa’s was also a perfect pick, looking like a Disney princess in her pink ball gown and matching crown. Xidorn wore some kind of sci-fi space uniform, with makeup done on his forehead to make him like alien. He called himself a ‘knock-off Klingon’.

Diamonique was done up like a Western cowboy, but you could tell from the rhinestones on her outfit she added her own flair. Tessa was dressed like something from the sword and sandal genre, evoking a gladiator. Kalino meanwhile was a pirate, with an open puffy shirt, an eyepatch, a hat with a feather, and even a fake parrot on his shoulder.

Finally Jasper was dressed for a ‘Beach Movie’, which was apparently just wearing jams or swim trunks.

Jenny snickered, snapping photos. “I think you guys have never looked better.”

“Right?” Kalino asked, petting his parrot.

“As you can see you each have a different outfit from a different film genre,” Rhonda explained. “Because this challenge is a movie genre mash-up obstacle course!”

Everyone stared at Rhonda.

“I was waiting for clapping or gasping,” Rhonda stated.

Everyone kept staring.

“Fine,” Rhonda sighed. “Point is, beyond this starting line are different movie studios. Each studio has a different scene from a different movie genre, serving as obstacle. When you finish a scene, you’ll come across two doors leading to two different studios. Eventually, one studio will lead you to the final scene...a pirate ship.”

“You got an entire pirate ship?” Weston asked.

Rhonda nodded. “On the pirate ship there is a mast for each of you, with your own Jolly Roger. You’ll have to hoist it to the top. Whoever gets through the movie obstacle course and hoists their flag to the top first wins!”

Rhonda grabbed a clapperboard and clicked it shout. “Now...Action!”

The teens raced right over Rhonda and into one of the different studios. Rhonda twitched on the ground. “A...a little help.”

Jenny and Toby didn’t turn around as they sat in directors’ chairs and started eating cheeseburgers. “Sorry, lunch break! Union rules.”

Ness stopped as she came to the edge of a bubbling tar pit. It was some kind of prehistoric film set. The tar pit took up most of the floor, with dinosaur bones slowly starting to sink in.

“Phew,” Ness sighed. “I wouldn’t want to-”


Weston rushed in, sliding and knocking Ness straight into the tarpit. “Oopsie. You okay?”

Ness emerged, coughing up tar. “Yeah...fine.”

Weston scratched his chin. “ a detective, my deductive reasoning will help me solve this problem. Now the tarpit takes up the entire we must have to swim through the tar!”

Weston dives into the tarpit.

“Uh...I think we were supposed to hop on the bones,” Ness said. “Like stepping stones.”

Oh,” Weston replied. “That makes more sense.”

“At least there-”


Some kind of animatronic pterodactyl circled the tarpit. Weston and Ness shared a look before sinking back into the pit.


Melissa eyed some kind of large, metal platform in front of her. It was on a slope and looked like concrete, but was decorated with traffic cones, tires, and monkey bars.

“I’m not sure what genre this is supposed to be from,” Melissa admitted. “Is there a genre for traffic safety?”

Melissa started running up the slope...which began to shake underneath her. She just barely grabbed onto a flagpole.

“Oh dear,” Melissa said. “Well, it could be worse right?”

Suddenly, steaming red liquid started flowing.

Melissa climbed the pole. Taking off a glove, she dipped it in the red liquid. She removed it; the glove was fine.

She sniffed the glove, then licked it. “Is this...tomato soup? This must be to warn against eating scolding foods while driving. How thoughtful!”

“It’s a disaster movie.”

Ignacio ran by, trying to hold down his loincloth. “Earthquakes, lava, floods...that kind of stuff.”

“There is a whole genre for natural disasters?” Melissa asked. “Is it to teach safety?”

“That’s one way to look at it," the cave-stud replied.

Ignacio jumped up on a climbing wall to avoid a splurt of tomato soup. Large fans popped out of the ground and created a heavy gust, blowing Ignacio down...and his loincloth up.

“I’m beginning to think the idea of free choice is an illusion,” Ignacio admitted. “All of life is predestined. There is no way I was not going to get this costume or studio, was there?"

Riley and Xidorn raced each other into a studio, and right into a sandcastle. They looked out to see the next doors across an ocean set.

“Aww sweet!” Riley stated. “Why a beach though?”

“Probably the teen beach movie,” Xidorn replied. “Which means s-”

“Surfing!” Riley cheered, grabbing a surfboard from the side and diving out into the water.

“Well yes,” Xidorn stated. “But given this show, I was gonna say sharks.”

Riley turned around, only to see a shark missing a tooth waving at her. “Oh, sup SharkTales? Wait...have we met before?”

The shark snapped its jaw, tearing Riley’s boa