The confusion subsided. The ship steadied under the quick thinking of the legendary Captain Morse.
A quick headcount confirmed the rebel Spoofers worst fear.
"Well we've still got The Oracle, but where's Lowton?" spat Charpa.
"He sprang over the side when the ship tilted, and made off on JO's wave runner!" replied Skoob, "Why has JO defected? Has he been working for Lowton all along?"
"I don't know," said Charpa, punching the palm of her hand "but I can assure you of one thing, we're going to find out!"
A huge crack of thunder split the silence, just as lightning split the blanket of night. The coach sped up the long gravel drive towards the Spoof offices. JO pulled hard on the reins and the horses dug their hooves in hard, stopping inches from the steps to the front door.
Wiping the rain from his brow, Monkey Woods dropped down from his seat next to JO and opened the coach door. "We're here, Master" he said.
A leather gloved hand emerged from the darkness of the carriage, the large emerald ring glinting in the moonlight. Monkey took the hand, and helped the occupant down and onto the steps.
"Hi Honey, I'm home...Monkey, JO, to work" growled Mark Lowton, as he strode up the steps, his cape thrashing in the wind.
They took the elevator up to floor 13, Mark's private quarters. It was quicker than the stairs, and Mark's knee was giving him gyp after he knocked it on a small coffee table in the foyer.
"Get Doc in here now," snapped Mark, cutting an evil glare at JO.
"Y-y-yes sir," replied JO, spinning on his heels and leaving the room.
"Monkey, get me a cup of tea, I can't work without tea, and for God's sake turn on some lights will you? I know I'm an evil tyrant, but my eyes are not what they were, from all that sitting in front of computer's all day, editing all those Spoof's!"
Monkey scuttled off to the coffee machine and began preparing a brew.
Just then, Doc entered. "You sent for me, my lord?"
"Yes, have you completed the work on the embryo's?" asked Lowton.
"They are ready and fully aware. Not at full size yet, but time was not on our side, another week and they'll be fully grown" replied Doc, in his usual soft, educated tones.
"We don't have a week, fool!" barked Lowton, throwing a notepad at the good Doctor, "we don't have a day! Bring me the Gerbils, ready or not! Go, NOW!"
Monkey stepped forwards and handed Mark a steaming cup. Lowton never even acknowledged Woods, just took the cup and raised it to his lips. A sip.
"PFFTTT," Lowton spat the drink over Monkey, "I said tea you idiot, this is coffee!" He thrashed Monkey across the cheek with the back of his hand, breaking the skin. Monkey said nothing as the blood trickled down his neck, just held Lowton in a hateful glare for a moment, and then stepped back.
Doc entered the room, JO behind, and they were both carrying cages filled with a new batch of Hell's Gerbils. About 25 in total, by no means as large as the previous ones, but with equally as much fury embedded in their very fibre's. The small fiery eyes burning away, would have ensured no person would want to pet such a creature.
"Give them to me," ordered Lowton, as Doc opened the cages.
"Monkey, open the window," he snapped, Monkey duly slid one of the glass panes open, the wind and rain sweeping in sending papers arcing across the room, made all the worse by being so high up in the building.
Lowton scooped all the gerbils together and walked to the window. Heaving them out into the night air he shrieked "fly my pretties, fly!"
No one spoke.
For about five minutes.
Then JO said "Uh, sir? Gerbil's don't fly."
"Yes, JO, so it would appear," he replied, the first sounds of a broken man beginning to tell in his voice. Leaning on the window sill, Lowton dropped his head in despair.
"Well there's nothing else for it, Doc fetch Project 666," said Lowton, sliding the window shut.
"You don't mean..." stuttered Doc, in true terror.
"I do mean, Project 666, Zombie 13. Nick Hobbs. Despatch him directly. He must find and retrieve The Oracle. And if he can kill off a few of the renegade Spoofers in the process, then all the better," replied Lowton.
Doc, suddenly ashen, turned to the door, "this is a mistake sir, it will never end well with Nick on the loose," he said.
"Those are my orders, obey me!" shouted Lowton, "Oh, and Doc?" he said calmly, "make sure he takes the moped, you know zombies never make good time if they walk."