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Life After 9/11

Summary

After Logan Dara, Dicky Michaelson, and Andrea Elan prevent the 9/11 attacks from happening (nice try, bin Laden!), the cousins learn to live in the post-non-9/11 world.

By infusing themselves into pop culture, they deal with President George W. Bush, Take down Harry Potter, and even stare down their biggest rivals, the cousins have their hands full...in the year 2002.

Where We Last Left Off...

In the last story, Logan Dara, Dicky Michaelson, and Andrea Élan dodged a bullet by preventing the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. In preventing the 9/11 attacks from happening, they had also prevented their own murders. (This would have happened regardless whether the attacks happened.) They found out about the attacks and their own deaths through a mysterious newspaper that detailed those terrible events on September 11, 2001.

(Of course, no one knew where the mysterious newspaper came from or how it got to Dicky's apartment. All they knew was the newspaper warned them about their murders and the September 11 attacks.)

It was now September 16, 2001. Five days passed since Sean Michael Black and his Knights, plus several members of the FBI and the NYPD thwarted the 9/11 attacks. That happened when the group caught 19 men as they prepared to board the four planes bound for California and begin their attacks.

Yet, those men had no idea that JFK International Airport had grounded all flights leaving New York as a safety precaution. Because of the flights being grounded, they were unable to carry out their attacks.

The 19 men responsible for the 9/11 attacks pledged allegiance to a cruel man known as Osama Bin Laden. Osama was notorious for many terror attacks that took place around the world; for that, his wealthy Saudi Arabian family kicked him out. He had plotted to attack the US for several years. If his plan had been successful, four airplanes would have destroyed the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House. (The airplane that would have destroyed the White House instead crashed on a field outside the city of Shankville, Pennsylvania and killed everyone on board.)

As for the murders of the cousins Logan, Dicky, and Andrea, it was said a secret society plotted to kill the three cousins and Sean for the last two years. That was because Sean revealed them to the British government in 1987. The group believed Sean was not only a threat to their existence, but if he revealed the truth about some historical events to the world (such as their involvement in causing many of those terrible events), not only would world history be forever changed, but the group would be arrested for their crimes against humanity.

Now that the entire country (as well as the rest of the world) learned about the attacks and became aware that evil existed in the form of a cruel man who was hell-bent on destroying America, the three cousins must learn to live in a world where they are still alive. They must find a way to put an end to terrorism for good. (Plus, they also change the face of pop culture forever!)

* * * 

“I can’t believe we pulled this off!” said Logan as they were sitting in a hotel room outside the city of Boston, Massachusetts. They were reading the Boston Herald; the main headline read “Terror Attack Averted!” The main article read:

“On the morning of September 11, 2001, the FBI and the New York Police Department arrested 19 men as they prepared to board four airplanes at JFK International Airport. The men admitted to being hijackers with alleged ties to the notorious terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. The men were found with an assortment of weapons on their persons, as well as plans to attack and destroy the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon and White House in Washington DC. A tip from an anonymous source led to the arrest of the 19 men and the prevention of their attacks on American soil.

Had the attacks went on as planned, the results would have been catastrophic, especially in New York, which was famous for its skyscrapers (among which was the famous Twin Towers). About 3,000 people would have been killed because of those attacks, both on the planes and on the ground.

Let's be thankful an honest person who knew of the attacks and came forward, preventing what would have been a national tragedy...”

The paper went on to say that the 19 men involved in the alleged attacks were held in a federal prison outside Virginia for their roles in the attempted attacks. To complicate things, none of the men were willing to discuss why they were hired to destroy American buildings and kill many American people, something that angered not only President George W. Bush, but the rest of the country as well.

That is for a different story.

“How are we to know this was actually going to happen?” Andrea cried out.

“We didn’t,” said Dicky. “It was the luck of the draw.”

"As well as a future-predicting newspaper that spoke about 9/11 and our deaths," said Logan as he held up the newspaper in question. That newspaper, which reported on his death as well as the deaths of Dicky and Andrea, was the main reason he decided to prevent the September 11 attacks. "Plus, you know what they say about knowing way too much about the future..."

“Well, whatever we did, it worked,” said Andrea. “We’re still alive, the Twin Towers are still standing, and even better, nobody got hurt. Except for that one guy who did try to kill me, but Sean found him and beat the crap out of him, but still. Nobody messes with the Trichenberg family and gets away with it. NOBODY!!!”

“I hope you all decide to thank me for putting an end to their deeds,” Sean snapped as he walked into the room. He was tired after several days of catching 19 future terrorists and questioning them about their actions. “I had to do all the fricking work while you guys were busy hamming it up at Cheers," he continued. "You three owe me something, and I’m not just talking money either. You have a whole lot to pay me for having to waste my time showing up in New York and knocking a bunch of men’s heads around and hearing them curse at me and offering praises to Allah; as if Allah is actually going to be okay with them blowing up towers in his name. I demand compensation for this little stunt  you guys pulled, and you're going to hand deliver it to me personally!”

“It’s not just us who owe you thanks, Sean,” said Logan as he stared at his cousin. “It is the entire world who must thank you for your part in stopping a terrorist attack on America. You put an end to evil. You stopped terrorism from invoking terror into the heart of Americans and people around the world. You sent out a clear message that evil would not be tolerated. In fact, you're a true hero and you should know that.” Andrea and Dicky agreed wholeheartedly.

“Now, don’t give me all the credit for stopping the 9/11 attacks,” said Sean. “It was the cops and the FBI who actually stopped the terrorists from doing what they tried to do. All I did was tipped them off. You guys did the heavy lifting of finding out who the attackers were so the rest of the country could catch them.”

"Well, it wasn't like we hadn't had a choice," said Andrea.

"We did," said Dicky, "and the choices were we either ignored the newspaper and let these devastating events happen, or do whatever it took to prevent the attacks from happening. It didn't take a rocket scientist to find out what we chose to do."

"And what led you to making that decision to stop the attacks from happening?" said Sean.

“Well,” said Logan, “I wasn’t going to die and leave Deidi a widow and our children without a father. Besides, Homer and Treasure are young and they need both their parents in their lives. It would do me no good to die and never get a chance to watch them grow up.”

“Same here,” said Andrea. “Anastasia is about to turn five years old this November and I’m getting ready to send her to school. Consuelo is two years old. I can’t die and leave my poor clueless husband to raise our two girls alone.”

“I’m just glad Lysander and Margaret are teenagers,” said Dicky, "so they don’t need me much."

“Now you know you are not about to leave those two to their own devices,” Andrea snapped at him. “You’re their father and they are your children, no matter what anyone else thinks. Your ex-wife couldn’t handle that cold hard truth, so that’s why she’s no longer in the picture.”

“I see,” said Dicky. “Such a shame Deanna chose her "partner" over her family. Right now, I bet she’s a miserable witch because I’m not dead.”

“Yeah, I know,” said Logan. “In fact, the night we finally revealed our location to the world, Deidi called me up and she screamed at me over the phone for half an hour for disappearing and making her think I was dead. She thinks the story about me being murdered on 9/11 was a stupid joke. She and Leilar are demanding I come home right now.”

"I don't blame her," said Sean. "I knew that somehow, you three were going to die on September 11, and I had to do my part in making sure it didn't happen."

“I have to convince Roger that he needs to get rid of that Jeremy Bozeman and find someone who’s more competent,” said Andrea. “I don’t fancy being anywhere near that guy, not when he could be a potential murderer.”

"Yeah, I've noticed," said Dicky. "There's nothing good about him or his girlfriend. The sooner they are put away in jail, the better we all will be."

"Yeah, and that too," said Sean. "You guys need to leave the East Coast for a while and take a break. You've earned it. Plus, there will be the matter of Osama bin Laden finding out that we put an end to the attacks and hunting us down, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

"Indeed," said Logan. "I need to get home right now or else my kids will worry. Poor little things, not knowing if their father was dead or not. What was I thinking?"

"Better us hiding in Boston and staying alive than being dead in the streets of New York because we were killed by some crazy person, that's for sure," said Andrea. "Besides, I say that California is where we need to be heading. Logan's family lives there, Hollywood is there, and I know Cousin Jacquelyn has bugged me to death about me going with her to Disneyland for her birthday instead of her going with me to Coney Island this year. You don't want me to disappoint her by not coming down to see her, or do you?"

"Of course not!" said Sean. "You know how she is; young and impatient. Besides, whatever Jacquelyn wants, Jacquelyn gets."

"You said it," said Dicky. "We'll be in Burbank in plenty of time for her birthday, won't we?"

"Of course we will," said Sean. "Besides, Jacquelyn's birthday isn't until the middle of November. We'll have plenty of time to see her."

"We go home for her sake," said Logan. "Sweet home California, anyone?"

"Don't ever say that again," said Andrea as she shook her head at what she just heard.

"Why not?" said Logan.

"First off, you stole that song from Lynyrd Skynyrd, and second, California is anything but sweet," said Andrea.

"Plus, that was a bad joke," said Sean. "And you know how I feel about bad jokes. That joke is an insult to the people living in Alabama."

"Leave him alone," said Dicky. "I thought that joke was funny. Besides, "Sweet Home Alabama" is the worst movie I ever saw."

"We're talking about the song, not the movie based on that song," said Sean. "Yes, the movie was boring. So boring I fell asleep 20 minutes into the film and didn't wake up until Tarzan was fighting against Sabor."

"Yeah, that was embarrassing," said Logan. "For you, that was."

"OK, you two, that's enough of the bad movie jokes," said Andrea. "Are we leaving or not?"

“So it’s settled then,” said Dicky. “We’re going to California.”

* * * 

Yet before they left for California, the cousins had some important things to do first.

Logan had to gather everything he took when he flew out to New York and put in his suitcase. He also had to pack the souvenirs he had brought for his children and wife, as well as the newspaper that began this whole mess.

Dicky, however, had to pack as much stuff as he could, and to tell his children 13-year-old twins Lysander and Margaret they were leaving New York soon.

"That's not fair, dad!" Lysander said the moment he found out they were leaving York. "Why are we leaving New York?"

"Because New York is a dangerous place for us to be in right now," said Dicky. "That's why we're leaving."

"New York is always dangerous, dad," said Margaret. "Why are we leaving in the middle of school too?"

"Because I'm moving us to California," said Dicky to his children's shock. "It's safer there. Besides, you can see your cousins every day."

"But I love New York," said Lysander.

"So do I," said Dicky, "so do I. Now pack your bags, because we're leaving tomorrow."

As Lysander and Margaret left for their rooms to pack their bags, Logan said to Dicky, "Are you sure you’re doing the right thing? Uprooting your children and dragging them to California with you?"

"Speak for yourself, Logan," said Dicky. "Your family's already in California, and I'm not ready to leave my kids behind, not when they came so close to losing their only parent a few days ago. I won't allow it at all."

Just then, a knock was heard at the front door. Andrea was standing in the doorway with her two small daughters, Anastasia and Consuelo. She too had packed everyone's bags in a hurry.

"I packed as much as I could and left a message for Roger telling him where we're going," said Andrea as she sat on the couch. The two small girls curled up on the couch and fell asleep. "I already know he's not going to be back from his trip for another few weeks, but I sent an email telling him everything that's going on. Hopefully, he'll find us before this year ends."

"I hope so too," said Logan as everyone settled down for the night. It was already an exciting week for the cousins, who found out the September 11 attacks were happening and stopped the attacks. Yet the next day would see them embarking on a brand new journey, one that would have them challenging the pop culture of that day and changing it forever...

Back to California

Within a few hours of them making their life-changing decision, we see Logan, Dicky, and Andrea at JFK International airport, boarding a plane that was bound for Los Angeles. Andrea had loaded her two small children Anastasia and Consuelo into their coats while Dicky persuaded his two children Lysander and Margaret to come with him. It looked like the three cousins were going to leave New York for good.

Sean (who dropped them off at the airport) said to Logan, "I hope you guys know what you're doing. It's not going to be easy going home after what just happened."

"I've noticed," said Logan as he noted a crowd of people staring at them. Rumors about the Trichenberg cousins and their role in stopping the 9/11 attacks swirled around New York. Many people who heard the rumors called the cousins heroes for stopping terrorism, while others scorned them for being involved in American foreign intelligence. Plus, several people were angry with Dicky and Andrea (both of whom had Down Syndrome) because they believed the cousins had no right to function in society, let alone stop the 9/11 attacks from happening.

(In fact, the people who were arrested for plotting to kill Dicky and Andrea on September 11, 2001 claimed that the cousins were evil and they didn't deserve to live, let alone create their children. Jabez Bozeman (who wanted to kill Andrea) claimed that he wanted to free Andrea's husband Roger from Andrea's "evil" influences and to marry Roger to his younger sister Lucia. Lucia was also arrested for her part in the conspiracy to kill Andrea.)

"Even if we caught the main culprits, how do we know that there aren't others out there who support Jabez and his insane claims?" said Sean. "And don't think that we don't know how to weed them out."

"That'll be our next project," said Logan. "Right after the world is done getting used to us still being alive. I don't know where they got the notion to try to kill us, but we'll cross that bridge when we find it."

"Indeed we will," said Sean. To Dicky and Andrea, he said, "Now you two better take care of yourselves and the kids. Also, you need to do something about your appearance, as I hear rumors about a search for you two. Can't have you guys dying now, not when you escaped death."

Andrea said, “And what about Roger? He might not be too happy if he comes home and finds the house empty and myself and the girls gone. I already packed up the house and left a note telling him where to find us, but I hesitate to think he may assume the worst when it comes to us."

"Oh don't worry," said Sean. "I'll deal with him. In fact, I'll make sure that his job sends him to Pasadena within a week."

"A week?" Andrea cried out, shocked that Sean would pull a trick like that on her. "That's my husband! Why would you do something stupid like that?"

"Ok, three days tops," said Sean. "Now you all better get going right now or else you're going to miss your flight."

"Indeed," said Dicky. "So, when do we meet next?"

"Hopefully somewhere around Thanksgiving," said Sean. "You should be settled in by then. Now, I have to get going, as your flight leaves in 45 minutes. I have two hours for my own flight, which is taking me straight to Santa Cruz. Let's get going or else we'll miss our flights."

After saying goodbye to Sean, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea led their families onto their plane, which was bound for Los Angeles. From there, they would go to Logan's house in Pasadena.

As the plane began to board and the people took their seats, Logan turned to Dicky and said, "So, let's be honest here: how do you feel about our decision to leave New York after everything we've been through the past week?"

"You mean, we're leaving New York because some crazy people want to kill dad?" Lysander cried out. "That's insane!"

"I can't believe you agreed to do this," said Margaret.

“I can’t say that I agreed with that decision,” said Dicky, “but when it comes to us being safe, I’m not taking any chances.”

“And neither will I,” said Andrea. "I can no longer live in this city if mentally retarded people can be murdered and their killers can get away with murder and no one dares to punish them."

"Yeah," said Dicky. "They want us to die because we're handicapped. They don't give a crap about us at all. I hope they all die and never reproduce so no more stupid assed people can control this planet!"

"Yeah, and that too," said Andrea.

“Good,” said Logan. “Now that that's settled, you can help me with my next project.”

“Which is,” said Dicky.

“You’re going to help me find a way to make the new Harry Potter film flop in theaters,” said Logan with a smile on his face.

“What?” said Dicky. “You mean, Andrea and I are going to help you make a film that will butcher Harry Potter? Are you fricking kidding me?”

"Since when is Harry Potter becoming a movie?" Andrea cried out at the same time.

“I'm not kidding,” said Logan. “Deidi was working on this film for a long time and I know we've had some commercial successes with “Adventures in Eswoth” and “The Legend of the Wizard”, but I want this movie we've wrapped up to succeed. The public demands that Deidi and I release this movie at the same time as Harry Potter; they want the movie to succeed.”

“So what movie is it?” said Andrea. “It’s not "The Spirit Keeper", is it?”

“Oh no, not that movie,” said Logan. “That movie was nothing more than an epic disaster. Plus, Deidi and I weren't involved in the making of that movie, which stings tremendously when you think about it.”

“But at least it was better than anything Disney released in theaters,” said Dicky. “Not that I’m against Disney or anything like that.”

“So what’s the title of the movie?” said Andrea.

“The movie is called “The Frostfall”, which is based on a book called “The Destiny of Lacey Parrish” by Suzette Mullen,” said Logan. “The story is about a girl named Lacey Parrish, whose village is attacked and destroyed when her father was wrongly accused of the murder of a royal prince and executed. That execution causes the ruling body to break down, spreading anarchy across the kingdom.”

“Well, okay then,” said Andrea. “How are we going to get the story to sell to an entire population who wants to see the Harry Potter movie?”

“There’s already talk of this book becoming a movie for many years now,” said Logan. “As a result of those rumors which we've neither confirmed nor denied, people are already buying tickets to the movie. I can’t wait to see the faces of children who thought they were going to see Harry Potter, but end up liking this movie. Plus the story, although it is about a girl, appeals to both boys and girls. It has five completed books, which contrasts with J.K. Rowling’s incomplete series.”

“Well, it looks like we have our work cut out for us,” said Dicky. “Now let’s go; we have a movie to promote.”

* * *

After the plane landed in LAX, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea found themselves on the next flight to Pasadena. They and the children were going to be at home before bedtime, whenever that was.

Yet before they could board that plane, Logan saw Irene Ulrich waving to them. She had recently returned from a trip to Florida (where she was when the September 11, 2001 attacks were thwarted).

Irene said to them, "I can't believe you guys. You stopped an international crisis from happening and you didn't invite me?"

"We didn't know you and Rex were in Miami," said Logan. "Had we known that, we would have taken the next flight to Florida instead of going to Boston."

"And what's this I hear about a conspiracy to kill Dicky and Andrea?" Irene snapped.

"That would be the work of Jabez Bozeman," said Andrea. "He has it in for me for some odd reason."

"Plus, I think he's actually compensating for something," said Logan.

"What is he compensating for?" said Irene.

"Let's put it like this," said Andrea. "Men like Jabez Bozeman come in very...short supply."

Everyone laughed as Arexus approached them. He frowned as he saw his wife hanging out with her cousins. It wasn't that he didn't like them; he wasn't too fond of Irene's rather large family, with their boisterous ways.

He said, "Whoever he was, I'm sure that we are glad to know that he's gone."

"Arexus," Irene began.

"Whatever," he said. "We need to get home to our children. Also, no more trips until that baby is born." To Logan, he said, "I don’t know what you were doing in Boston or why you were even in Boston to begin with, but as God as my witness, I will find out the truth behind your shenanigans. You can't pull anything over my eyes, spellcasters or no."

"That's enough, Rex," said Irene. "We have a plane to catch." To Logan, she said, "And we'll be expecting you to show up on Jacquelyn's birthday. You do remember when her birthday is, right?"

"Oh, we do," said Logan. "It's still November 15, 1993."

"Indeed," said Irene. "I do hope that you're not up to any more crazy schemes before Thanksgiving. Of course, if you even try to do something like what you did a few days ago, I won't hesitate to hunt you down and tear you into pieces. In fact, I'll do it myself."

"Yeah yeah," said Logan as he watched his cousin and her husband leaving. He already knew that he wasn't going to make any promises when it came to schemes. In fact, he was already working on a scheme to destroy Harry Potter before Pottermania invaded the United States.

* * *

"About damned time you came back, Logan," said William Lewis, who was Logan's personal assistant. He had waited for Logan to return from his trip to New York for the last few days and had camped out at the airport while Logan was hiding in Boston. "You said you'd be back on Wednesday. It's Monday. What have you been doing the last five days?"

"Mainly finishing the screenplay for Paramount," said Logan. "You know how Paratris is. She wanted her script for the movie "The Trouble with Teegafane" written and on time! She's such a high-strung bitch it's amazing her head ain't fallen off yet!"

"Indeed," said William.

"Haha, it's so funny," said Dicky.

"Such a useless woman, Laura Paratris," said Andrea. "Why are you working with her?"

"She needs me more than I need her," said Logan. "Plus, she ain't happy unless I'm working for her. Plus, Deidi  hates her."

"Never work for someone your wife hates," said Dicky.

"Yeah yeah," said Logan. "Now let's go home before my kids call the police."

William led everyone to his car and took off in the direction of Logan's house. All the while, Logan was thinking about what would have happened if the attacks had happened as planned and/or he never escaped to Boston. He would have been seriously injured and Dicky and Andrea would have been killed. Those scenarios had him wondering if he should have gone to New York in the first place.

* * *

"Dad's home!" 4-year-old Homer cried out as soon as he saw Logan walking through the front door to the house.

3-year-old Treasure hung back as her brother went to hug their father; she was still painfully shy and refused to talk to anyone who weren't her parents, brother, or grandfather. Logan's father, Leilar, stared at him, saying, "About damned time you got back, boy. Your sister done nearly had a heart attack hearing about you being killed by some crazy. Poor thing."

"Where's Deirdre?" Logan said.

Right on cue, Deirdre Langston Dara (aka Jacquel Spartan) walked into the room. At the same time, Dicky, Andrea, and their children also walked through the front door. Deirdre said, "Logan, you said you'd be back on Friday afternoon. It's 7:30 PM on Monday. Did you decide to go to Atlantic City while you were in New York?"

"No," said Logan. "In fact, Sean yelled at me for "getting drunk and partying at Cheers while he was beating up 19 men who planned to blow up the Twin Towers". That guy still thinks our great country is a joke."

"Forget him," said Deirdre. "He's so pretentious and full of misplaced anger towards President Bush it's not even funny!" To Dicky and Andrea, she said, "I will thank you for keeping him out of trouble. Believe me, an unwanted souvenir is the last thing this family needs."

"I know," said Dicky. "Logan now wants us to promote your newest movie to death and outsell Harry Potter."

"Really?" Deirdre cried out. Then to Logan, she said, "You're kidding, right? "The Frostfall" is MY pet project, and there's no way that they're going to use that to replace Harry Potter! They will have to reconsider!"

"Well, you and I both know that there's no way that Homer and Treasure want to watch Harry Potter, and Jacquelyn isn't interested in Harry Potter, so why don't we release the movie on her birthday?" said Logan. "That way, we can steer her entire class away from Harry Potter. Of course, if the kids like the movie, then we have a chance to outsell Harry Potter."

"That's true," said Andrea. "The more people who watch "The Frostfall", the less people will want to watch "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone"."

"Yeah," said Dicky. "Who needs Harry Potter when you can have Lacey Parrish?"

"OK then," said Deirdre with a resigned look on her face. "I hope you guys know what you're doing."

"Dad no leave us," said Treasure with a sad look on her face. She stared at him with her huge brown eyes. The small girl didn't like it every time Logan went away for his job and she wanted to make sure that he knew it.

"Not for a long time," said Logan. He knew that like it or not, he had a new outlook on life since he dodged the 9/11 attacks. He needed to ensure that Homer and Treasure's futures were secure and Deirdre would be able to continue making her films. He owed it to his family to stay alive.

Logan stared at Dicky and Andrea; they also had to stay alive, not just for their children, but for the rest of the world. The cousins knew that they had no choice but to keep themselves alive long enough to put an end to evil forever...

October 11, 2001

It was now October 11, 2001. 

One month after the September 11 attacks. The attacks would have happened if Logan Dara, Dicky Michaelson, and Andrea Élan hadn't discovered the attacks in a newspaper and told Sean Michael Rowes. Sean never would have tipped off the FBI and 19 men wouldn't have been arrested for plotting to carry out the attacks.

In short, the entire country would have been destroyed if Sean, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea hadn't prevented the attacks in time. 

We now find the cousins having dinner in a small restaurant called The Sesame Express outside Pasadena. At first glance, they are all going out to eat, but if we looked closer, we could tell they were celebrating something important.

This was the one-month anniversary of when they stopped the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington DC. 

"While we've gotten a small amount of hype for "The Frostfall", everyone's still excited for Harry Potter," said Andrea as everyone was eating. Dinner consisted of fried white rice with chrysanthemum leaves, durian, ogbono nut, salmon and duck with a salad of sautéed sea kale and elderberries. "What are we doing wrong?"

(Before we go any further, "The Frostfall" was a film based on the book "The Destiny of Lacey Parrish". The cousins were promoting the movie in the hopes that it would overtake the popular and anticipated movie "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone".)

"I don't know, but it seems that everyone wants to watch "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" and completely ignore our movie," said Logan. "Which means we’re going to have to step it up if we want to take down Harry Potter."

"Does anyone have any good ideas on how we can do that?" said Andrea. "Ideas that are legitimate and should work?"

"Well, we could sabotage "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" by making a video claiming that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft," said Dicky. 

"Oooh, good idea," said Logan. "I could dress up as Father Diego and pretend to denounce Harry Potter as evil."

"I don't think some people are going to like that," said Andrea. 

"Who cares about what they think?" Dicky cried out. "I most certainly don't. As far as I can tell, J.K. Rowling can kiss the fattest part of my ass!"

"Dude, you are tasteless!" Logan cried out. 

"And proud of it!" said Dicky.

"Oh God!" Andrea cried out.

The three cousins soon settled down to a comfortable life in Pasadena, California after leaving New York. While Logan kept busy with his various filming projects, Dicky and Andrea enrolled their children in school. They themselves had yet to plan their next move. 

As for Andrea, she was concerned that Roger wasn't in California yet despite Sean's promise that he would get Roger's job to send him to California as soon as he could. She vowed to confront Sean about that the next time they met.

"Enough about that," said Sean. "We've come here to celebrate an important anniversary."

"What anniversary are we talking about?" said Logan.

"It's been a month since we prevented the September 11 attacks," said Sean. 

"Really?" said Andrea. "You're telling me that a whole month has gone by since we stopped the attacks from happening?"

"Yes," said Sean. “From the looks of it, it appears that the people of New York are celebrating that anniversary." He glanced at the television, which depicted a large group of people celebrating at Central Park. There was an art show and a free concert with featured the alternative punk rock band Unicorns Smash Beans. 

"Well, I wouldn't be surprised to see Rudy Giuliani out there with the people," said Logan. 

"That he is," said Andrea as she stared at the mayor on TV. "Just imagine what would happen if we didn't stop the attacks."

"We didn't stop the attacks?" said Logan. "Are you freaking kidding me?"

"Oh, perish the thought!" Sean cried out. "I don't even want to think about what would have happened if we hadn't raised the alarm when we did. We would have died or worse."

"And our children would have been orphans and Deirdre would have been a widow," said Dicky. "I'm glad we stopped the attacks ."

“As a result of what we did in stopping the attacks before they happened, we have created a brighter future for New York, even if we're not there to see it for ourselves," said Andrea.

Just then, William came to him carrying a message from Irene. Logan read the note and said, "I thought that we all agreed to meet at Thanksgiving. What's happening?"

"It's cousin Irene," said Sean as he also read the note. "Rex tells us that she had a son this morning. His name is Yeagan."

Dicky snorted. "Yeagan? Seriously? She named the baby Yeagan?" 

"That sounds interesting and original," said Sean.

"It's better than any of the other baby names that we've heard of," said Logan.

"That's  as bad as naming the baby Hagrid!" Dicky said.

"I know, right?" said Andrea. Then to the others, she said, "Dicky and I have been reading the first Harry Potter book and..."

"You've read the book," said William. He glared at them before continuing, "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone is a children's book. Please grow up and read something for adults."

"Be quiet, William," said Sean. To Dicky, he said, "I can't believe you've read "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone", you sap!"

"Well, of course, I did," said Dicky. "Practically everyone and their mother has read that book. I'm just secure enough in my maturity to admit to reading it."

"Oh brother," Andrea cried out.

"What's the verdict?" said Logan. 

"Is it any good?" said Sean.

"That book full of crap," said Dicky. 

"What makes you say that?" said Logan.

"First, the orphan-as-hero trope has been overdone, and I don't like orphans," said Dicky. "Second, why would you leave a baby on the doorstep in the middle of the night? Doesn't everyone know if you leave a baby on a doorstep, that baby could freeze to death or be taken away by a stranger?"

"That alone would make me want to stop reading the book," said William. 

“To make things even worse," said Andrea, "the author sent Harry to live with his fat abusive relatives."

"What the hell is this crap?" Logan cried out as his cousins and various other patrons and waiters stared at them. "When last I checked, fat people are 10x more likely to be abused than to be abusive towards others. Plus, the abusive relatives trope needs to go away and die, not be celebrated, embraced, or even accepted. Besides, no self-respecting person wants to deal with abusive relatives."

Sean said, "You know, if I was her editor, I would tell her to delete that part of the story immediately. Having an orphan as a hero and living with abusive relatives is nothing but trouble. Now, how far did you guys get?"

"I stopped reading after page 20," said Dicky. "Most of the first chapter centered on a man named Vernon and not on Harry. I mean, most of the chapter centers on him going to work, which is something that I consider to be boring."

"Well, not to be outdone by Dicky's rather poor reading habits, I read to the end of the chapter," said Andrea. 

"And?" said Logan. 

"It was so dumb," said Andrea. "They called Harry a hero, yet condemned him to live with "muggles". That is so insulting!"

"Muggles?" said Sean. 

"What the heck is a Muggle?" said Logan.

"A term coined by Rowling that defines non-magic users, which is basically anyone who's not a witch or wizard," said Dicky. "I believe that that word is  a term to insult us non-magical people. I mean, what's so great about using magic anyway? What's wrong with being a Muggle?"

"I certainly don't know what's wrong with us being Muggles," said Sean. 

"Muggle and proud!" Andrea yelled. 

"Yes," said Logan. "Let's shout it from the rooftops for the world to hear; we're muggles and we're proud!"

As he said that, a group of people walking by glared at him. "What?" He said to them. "What's wrong with being a muggle? Muggles are great! Muggles rule! Besides, we built the Internet! We built cars! We own this world! Besides, what have wizards ever done for this earth, apart from hiding in their little magical world and not interacting with us?"

"Whatever," said a man. 

"Believe me, you're going to be thankful when Harry Potter mania hits this country on Thanksgiving and it fizzles just as quickly as it comes. When that happens, I'm going to be serving you all a great big heaping bowl of I-told-you-so. It'll be such a crying shame because it’s going to be delicious."

The group of people harrumphed and walked away. Some of them muttered threats against the cousins as they left

"Well, I never!" Andrea snapped in anger as she watched the people leave. Everyone stared at her. "Did these people not care about what you had to say to them about Harry Potter? The nerve of people these days!"

“It’s  like when we had to deal with that Pokémon crap a few years ago," said Dicky. “Think of the mess that it created."

"Yeah, I've noticed," said Andrea. "It was already bad enough that kids were playing with those Furbies, beanie babies, and Tickle-Me-Elmo. But when Pokemon came onto the scene two years ago, kids were losing their minds over those silly fake pocket monsters and the quest to catch them all, whatever that meant."

"I don't even want to think about that, not in this lifetime," said Logan. "Not when I had to fight with everyone and their brother to keep Pokémon out of my home and away from Homer and Treasure. Even the movies about Pokémon were busts, no thanks to the movies "Beyond Lemuria" in 1999 and "The White Octopus" in 2000."

"Too bad that none of them were on the same level as The Spirit Keeper," said Sean. “Those movies you made to try to force everyone to stop watching those Pokemon movies were seen as mediocre. Anyway, we might as well get to the hospital and see little Yeagan before Irene sends out a search party for us. You know how she is if we choose to skip out on an important occasion such as a baby's birth."

"Indeed we must," said Andrea, "because what kind of cousins would we be if we never meet the little guy?"

"Irene would kill us if we don't get our butts over to the hospital right now," said Logan. "This means that we need to gather the kids and get over there immediately. I bet that Jacquelyn really wants them to meet her new little brother."

"As well as Jo and Ari," said Sean. "They will want us to meet the baby."

"Well, looks like we better leave now if we want to get to the hospital on time," said Dicky.

They left the restaurant and walk down the street with various people staring at them. Some of them recognized them from the newspaper detailing the one-month anniversary of the September 11 attacks and cheered while others shook their heads wondering how some people with Down syndrome and other mental issues (especially Sean's hatred of America) could have stopped terrorists from attacking New York.

Yet, there was a rude man that approached the cousins, yelling, "Why didn't you let the attacks happen?"

"WHAT DID YOU SAY???" Andrea snarled at the man who make that rude remark concerning the September 11 attacks.

"You know what I said," said the angry man. "Why didn't you let them blow up the Twin Towers?"

"Well, here's what I have to say about that," said Andrea and she sized up the man. He was fat and ugly with a twisted nose, pimples that scarred his face, unwashed hair, and wearing ragged clothes. 

In other words, this man wasn't the sort of man who should be harassing the cousins at all.

"Now listen up here, you big fat tub of lard," Sean snapped as he faced the man. "I'm only going to tell you this once. You have no right, no right to be yelling at us like that. We saved your pathetic country so you can live in it without fear of being blown up by terrorists, and this is how you choose to thank us? By scolding us for not allowing bad people to blow up buildings and killing hundreds if not thousands of American citizens? You are absolutely the worst person in the world if you had to say that to us. I've spent my entire life dealing with people like you. I've fought for this country for most of my life and I gave my blood when I should have been doing something else, and I really don't like people like you."

"What's happening here?" said William.

"Nothing except for some fool decided to yell at us for not allowing terrorists to attack Americans," said Sean. "Don't forget, we had relatives who fought in World War 2 on the side of the Americans because they didn't want Hitler and his Aryan supremacy to take over the world."

"Well, you're just a bunch of dumb Brits," snapped the man. "I wave my middle finger at your mothers, you Sons of a banshee!"

"Then he starts pulling out random Monty Python quotes from his behind," Logan snapped in anger.

Andrea wasn't finished yet. "Now listen up here, you wolf in sheep's clothing! I didn't prevent the 9/11 attacks as well as my own murder just to be insulted by a lying pathetic son of a Pharisee such as yourself! You are like a magician who conjures gulden into the mouths of silly people, but when they open their mouths, they have horse dirt in them."

"Way to go, Andrea," said Sean. "Show him what you're made of!"

"He’s a great big pushover," said Logan.

"Who are you calling a pushover, you squealing little meerkat?" said the man.

"How dare you call me a meerkat when you don't even know what a meerkat is!" said Logan in anger. "May you be swallowed by a whale with excessively bad breath, you dabbler in abominations!"

"Indeed you are," said Dicky as the man was about to respond to Logan's insult. "I pray you shall be as welcome as a fart in Laura Bush's bedroom, you citizen of the underworld!"

At that insult, the man grew so angry that his face turned purple and steam appeared to come out of his ears. Andrea noticed him and she said to the others, "We better be careful, guys. The next thing we say to him could set him off."

"Indeed," said Logan. To the man he said, "You know with all the energy that you put into insulting us, you should channel it into something positive, such as ending world hunger. If there are more angry people like you clamoring for the government around the world to put an end to world hunger and make sure starving boys and girls get something to eat, then the world would be a better place and no one would have to kill anyone for anything." The man glared at him. "Think of the children!"

For a long time, no one said anything. The man stared at the cousins, not knowing how to respond. It looked as if he was exposed as the loser in this debate.

"I say let's walk away now while he's still confused," said Sean. 

They all agreed and silently walked away as the man stared in another direction. The minute they reached the corner, they made a break for it and headed straight for the hospital, where Irene beat the crap out of them for being late.

"Come on now," said Logan as he sat in the doctor's office being treated for a black eye. "Totally worth it!"

"What the frick, dude!" Sean snapped at him.

Unparalleled Success

Time passed, and soon November was here.

During that time, Anastasia Elan passed her 5th birthday on Sunday, November 11, 2001. On that day, Andrea reluctantly threw a small party for her, hoping she would be able to keep everything regarding her children under wraps until Roger was able to rejoin his family.

(Of course, Andrea scolded Sean for taking too long to get her husband out of New York; they had the mother of all fights on Halloween. It took Logan and Deirdre an hour and a half to break up the fighting cousins. Logan forced Sean to get Roger to Pasadena (job or no job) while Deirdre dispatched her friends Derrick Virgil and Karema Smittand to keep an eye on Anastasia and Consuelo while she dealt with Andrea.)

Also during that time, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea spent the last few weeks plotting to use Deirdre's latest movie, "The Frostfall", to overtake the highly anticipated movie "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone". The reason they wanted to get rid of Harry Potter was not only was Harry Potter rumored to have witchcraft in it, but there was a great deal of unnecessary hype over the movie that it annoyed them.

(Unknown to everyone, Andrea changed the movie's title from "The Frostfall" to "Frostfall". She also had the movie's release date changed from December 12, 2001 to November 15, 2001 to destroy Harry Potter's stranglehold on the world.) 

Also, Logan posted a video on his MySpace page that denounced Harry Potter as evil. He also claimed the books promoted witchcraft, two things frightened a country that was almost destroyed in a terrorist attack less than two months earlier. 

(In the video, he dressed as a priest named Father Diego Cortez. Father Diego was a character in the controversial movie "Siege of the Priest". Despite the controversial disguise, he was able to get his point across. Everyone who watched "Siege of the Priest" knew when Father Diego spoke, he meant business; no one was allowed to dispute him.) 

Well, that was that.

With "Frostfall" about to be released in theaters (with little fanfare) and many parents being concerned whay what they allowed their children to read, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea knew they had their work cut out for them. All they had to do was convince children between the ages of 8-15 years old living in Pasadena, California that "Frostfall" was better than Harry Potter. 

Namely, an 8-year-old girl named Jacquelyn-Claire Ritterwolff. She was a distant cousin of Logan, Dicky, and Andrea and the oldest daughter of Arexus and Irina Ritterwolff. Jacquelyn would turn 8 years old at the same time "Frostfall" and "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" were released in theaters. (Let's assume she already decided not to watch "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" because she doesn't like Harry Potter.)

"Are you sure that "Frostfall" is a good movie?" The girl in question said as she and her entire class went to the theater. She was at the age where most kids were skeptical about what they wanted to read. She, like most of her classmates, kept themselves far away from the Harry Potter books; some of the kids knew someone who told them that the books weren't good.

"Of course it is," said Dicky. "You know what they say; if it's made by Logan Dara, it's going to be a good movie." 

"I didn't make that movie," said Logan. "Deirdre did. Besides, not all my movies were good. Do you remember "The Spirit Keeper"? Do you remember how much backlash the film had gotten upon its release in theaters? The movie was so bad that Skybolt Film Productions almost went bankrupt. Even President Clinton wanted the film and the books based on the film destroyed." 

"Don't forget, Book Marketing Plus gave the author of "The Spirit Keeper" a lifetime writing ban," said Dicky. "Such a shame one story could cause this much trouble." 

"OK, I know that the world wasn't ready for that story," said Andrea. "Still, we've invited a few kids and a handful of journalists to watch this movie. How do we know they're going to give the movie a good review?" 

"We don't," said Dicky. "No one's going to be able to force them to stay if they don't want to watch it."

"Yeah, and that too," said Andrea.

"I've already asked Cousin Sean to come tonight," said Logan, "and everyone seems to be paying attention to him nowadays; albeit most of what he says slanders and belittles Americans." 

"You know what they say: if you can win over Sean Michael Rowes, you win the average American citizen," said Andrea. "As we all know, J. K. Rowling pissed him off when she made that caustic remark insulting his mother last year at the Hugo Awards. I'm sure he'll be more than happy to do some serious damage to that woman."

"I know," said Dicky. "If we succeed with this movie, that'll give Sean enough fodder to poke holes into her Harry Potter books." 

Logan nodded as he saw a barrage of reporters from various newspapers and magazines taking their seats in the theater. The story about "Frostfall" and its potential to overtake "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" swept throughout Los Angeles, with many people betting on how long it was going to take for "Frostfall" to flop and "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" to become popular, especially with the kids. He saw Sean waving to him from his spot next to a journalist. Jacquelyn came to him, saying, "You won't say bad things about the movie?" 

"Well, not exactly," said Sean.

"Why are you doing this?" said Jacquelyn.

"Because Cousin Logan owes me for making sure that bad people don't blow up any buildings in New York," said Sean. "He has to pay me back." 

"With money?" Jacquelyn cried out. 

"Not just with money, but with something else," said Sean. "I'm going to make sure that he pays me back in every way possible." 

The movie started after 15 minutes of previews. Within a few minutes, everyone in the theater was hooked. The story entertained the children while the scenery fascinated the journalists. Yet, the main part was that Lacey Parrish was a more confident character than Harry Potter was. She never gave into despair and was not afraid to stand up for what she believed in. (Plus, she didn't need anyone to tell her about her destiny; she said, "I make my own destiny," at the end of the movie.) 

After Frostfall's previewing, the film was immediately released in theaters, which competed with "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone". While many people did watch "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone", many more people watched "Frostfall". Those who watched "Frostfall" said they preferred that movie over Harry Potter while those who watched Harry Potter disliked "Frostfall" because they believed "Frostfall" was stealing attention from Harry Potter, the attention that they felt Harry Potter rightfully deserved. Nonetheless, Sean's positive review of "Frostfall" and Jacquelyn's enthusiasm (and that of her classmates) was what drove "Frostfall" to overtake "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone". 

"Wow," said Logan as he looked over the results of his latest scheme. "Frostfall" had managed to overtake "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" in a matter of a few days. It was all thanks to him, Dicky, and Andrea. "I never thought that this would work itself out."

"I did," said Andrea, "if for my own kids being entertained by Frostfall." 

"How did you know to use the fear of witchcraft to force schools and libraries to give up the Harry Potter books?" said Dicky. 

"Well, I have my ways," said Logan. "And the best way to stop Harry Potter from taking over the United States was...well, let's just say my video about the threat of the Harry Potter books introducing witchcraft to children certainly did the trick." 

"That it did," said Dicky, "because nobody is allowed to ignore Father Diego."

"Logan, you are cruel and heartless," said Andrea. 

"And fiercely proud of it," said Logan. 

Just then, Leilar showed up with the Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times. He said, "I got the reviews of the movie!" 

"Oh, did you now?" said Logan. "Let's see what they're saying about the movie!"

The article read: "Based from the book "The Destiny of Lacey Parrish" by Suzette Mullen, Frostfall is a fast-paced film with strong characterizations. Fans will enjoy this superb fantasy adventure. In remaking the classic "orphaned hero archetype" and throwing in new twists and turns, Frostfall succeeds where Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone fails in making the characters enlightened instead of village idiots. Though Deirdre Dara pumps this story full of intrigue, the book's vivid, unique characters steal the show. I recommend you skip Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone and watch Frostfall right now."

"Do they like it?" said Dicky. "Please tell me that they liked the movie!" 

"Well, the truth is the critics are claiming that the movie was boring and used too many worn-out fairytale clichés, at least it's better than Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone," said Leilar as he read the article. 

"Wow, we are such geniuses," said Andrea. "Needless to say, though, I think your plan to make the Harry Potter movie flop in theaters worked." 

"Because wasn't that our job?" said Dicky. 

"Yes, that was our job," said Logan. "To get rid of Harry Potter and make it so that no one would ever want to have anything to do with the books or the movie ever again. I always knew that the plan would work before we even got started." 

"That's because we recruited Sean to write a positive movie review about Frostfall," said Andrea. "Everyone knows that if you win over Sean, you win over the world. On the other hand, if you lose Sean, you lose everything. J. K. Rowling will learn that lesson soon because the movie based on her book flopped while our movie succeeded." 

"Yeah," said Logan. "I can't wait to rub her face in my success. Guess it goes to show you that magic alone cannot sell a story." 

"You're right, Logan," said Andrea. "Magic doesn't sell a story; a good plotline and good characters does. Hopefully, J. K. Rowling will have learned that lesson from Suzette Mullen soon." 

"And if she doesn't, we'll remind her of who won last year's Hugo Award, which was NOT her," said Dicky. "Because George R. R. Martin's "A Storm of Swords" was much better than her "Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire". I know, because I've checked."

"The only thing that she'll be checking is her books' popularity," said Logan. "Popularity ain't the same if you promote a movie too much and it falls flat on its face just as it reaches the finish line."

"Logan, you have a lot to learn about popularity and promotion, especially when it comes to movies," said Leilar. "Right now, many Harry Potter fans are outraged, with the movie flopping in theaters and nobody reading the Harry Potter books. You've done some serious damage to the Harry Potter fandom with your controversial video the same way Johnathan Peck destroyed "The Spirit Keeper" with his essay claiming homosexuality was being sold to children." 

"Who cares about what those Harry Potter fans think?" said Andrea. 

"It's not like anyone's going to listen to them," said Dicky. "Not since Logan's video was released on the Internet. Now everybody knows the truth about Harry Potter. Since people know the truth about Harry Potter, nobody wants to have anything to do with the books or the movie based on the books. We got rid of an epic disaster before it could begin." 

"Because we're powerful," said Logan. "Remember the motto for Moviemagic Films: We're taking over the world, one movie at a time!"

"Not so fast, everyone," said Leilar. They all glared at him as he said, "We still have "The Lord of the Rings" to deal with. From the looks of it, I say that movie's going to be big." 

"Lord of the Rings?" said Logan. "It's going to be a movie? Really? Should we be threatened?" 

"Should we block it?" said Dicky. 

"Nah, let’s leave that one alone," said Andrea. "Besides, "The Lord of the Rings" is the king of epic fantasies. Between you and me, it's about goddamn time that somebody made this movie." 

"Yes," said Logan. "Someone needed to make the Lord of the Rings as a movie and get rid of those stupid cartoons that were made during the 1970's. I will never forgive Rankin Bass for screwing up the story." 

"Not to mention Ralph Bashir's complete destruction of the story," said Andrea. "I will NEVER get over that. That movie sucked and it destroyed my desire to read the book based on said movie." 

"Word on the street is that the movie was divided into three parts and directed by someone called Peter Jackson," said Dicky. 

"You mean that guy who made that movie called Bad Taste?" said Logan.

"He also did that movie called "Heavenly Creatures" where Kate Winslet was sent to jail for murdering her own mother," said Dicky.

"I'm not too sure about him," said Andrea. "If anything, Steven Spielberg should have directed Lord of the Rings."

"Steven Spielberg directing Lord of the Rings?" said Dicky. "Oh hell no! I could not fathom him taking something that big and making a movie of it! No way will I allow that to happen!"

"Let's not forget George Lucas would totally obliterate the book if he were to film it," said Leilar. "No way are we letting "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings" get that close to each other, not in my lifetime!"

"Well, let’s make sure he succeeds and hopefully make the public forget Harry Potter existed, as well as those piece of crap Lord of the Rings cartoons," said Logan.

"What have we got to lose?" said Andrea. 

To make a long story short, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" was released in theaters on December 18, 2001. It shot up in viewings, shattered various movie records, and became one of the most popular movies during the 2001 Christmas season. "Frostfall" fell to 3rd place with the release of a movie called "The Forbidden World" on December 7, 2001, but "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" flopped in theaters after a nine-day run and was removed from theaters. The public soon forgot about that movie. 

None of this would have been possible it wasn't for Logan Dara, Dicky Michaelson, and Andrea Élan.

Welcome to 2002

It was now the year 2002. 

Logan Dara, Dicky Michaelson, and Andrea Elan were lucky to survive the year 2001. They had prevented an unnecessary attack on the city of New York on September 11, 2001. Due to that attempted attack, the United States (and the rest of the world) now saw what evil truly looked like.

Evil was in the form of a man named Osama bin Laden. His decision to attack America was an unpopular one, as it made Muslims look bad in front of the world. (When he found out the three cousins managed to prevent 9/11 from happening, as well as having the men who were to carry out the attacks arrested, let's just say he wasn't too happy.)

As of right now, the United States decided it was best to strike back before another attack occurred. The "War Against Terror" was being fought in Afghanistan. A repressionist government known as the Taliban was blamed for supporting the efforts of the notorious terror group Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida was blamed for the attempted attack on New York. The group's leader, Osama bin Laden, blamed the three cousins for blocking his plan to blow up the Twin Towers and exposing him and his terror organization to the world.

"Well, can't say the dude didn't have it coming," said Logan as they sat at a table in The Sesame Express reading the newspaper. The main headline detailed the terror mastermind's anger at not being able to cause trouble in America. In fact, the man in question called for the deaths of the cousins who were responsible for exposing him to the world. Yet many more people called for his capture and death for causing trouble for the already unhappy world. "I hope that one day, he will get what he deserves."

"And when that day comes, we're going to serve him a great big bowl of I-Told-You-So," said Andrea.

"Which is a shame because it's going to be ironic," said Logan. "The cousins who he wanted to get rid of handed him his own behind on a silver platter."

"I can't wait to see that happen," said Andrea.

"He's a complete fool if he thought he could get away with attacking our country," said Dicky. "We already put our would-be murderers away in jail for good, and I hope we can extend the same courtesy to Mr. Bin Laden when the time comes."

"I don't know, Dicky," said Logan. "Knowing him, he won't go down without a fight."

"Well, he's asking for it," said Andrea. "I won't hesitate to smack him in the head with a rolling pin for all the good he thinks he is. No one's going to mess with me, not while I still have the ability to fight."

"Indeed," said Dicky. "And not only have we prevented the September 11 attacks from happening, we gave this country a new sense of patriotism and pride. People are showing more kindness to each other, which is a good thing."

"We can count that as a small victory against the evils of terrorism," said Logan. "We are alive and well and our families are together. My wife has recently tracked down her father and reunited with him over the holidays. Even our children are happy. I don't see what can possibly go wrong."

"Everything," said Andrea.

"Everything?" said Dicky. "You mean everything can go wrong in an instant?"

"Yes," said Logan. "Not only are we dealing with Mr. Bin Laden and his calls for our deaths, we are also facing the wrath of those who love the Harry Potter books. They are not happy to know we were the ones who caused the movie to flop in theaters. They are even angrier with me, for my video exposed the witchcraft that was in Harry Potter. Plus, I made another video claiming that Harry Potter probably ripped off "The Lord of the Rings". So, I've made some bitter enemies."

"That's better than your wife and her two strange friends, who are questioning Disney-made movies. They're claiming those movies are nothing but trouble," said Dicky.

"But Disney movies are nothing but trouble," said Andrea, "which is why my girls are no longer allowed to watch Disney movies."

"And what are we going to do about Deirdre and her friends?" said Dicky. "They are about to find themselves in a world of trouble the minute the public notices this controversy. Should we stop them or protect them?"

"We'll cross that bridge when we find it," said Logan. "But for now, let's just be thankful God allowed us to live to see another year."

They all agreed, knowing this was now the year 2002 and with it came many new challenges. Logan knew he had to continue the fight the Harry Potter fandom as well as make movies that changed the entertainment world. Dicky knew he had to restart his life and to learn how to raise his children. Andrea, however, would have to fight for the rights for disabled people everywhere and make sure her would-be murderer was sent to jail for the rest of his life.

Plus, all three cousins must contend with a country that didn't expect them to live, let alone prevent the September 11, 2001 attacks from happening. There were more than a handful of American citizens who were not happy the cousins survived September 11 and put an end to the Harry Potter phenomenon. Those people also weren't happy to know Andrea had thwarted a plot to kill her and had her would-be killer sent to jail.

Plus, there were some Harry Potter fans who were quietly plotting to kill Logan in retaliation for the destruction of Harry Potter. (Well, they might not actually kill him, per se, but they're mad at him for destroying Harry Potter-mania before it could unleash itself upon the world.)

Before we go any further with the story, here's what happened to the cousins when 2001 ended:

On Christmas Day, (after weeks of persuasion from his friends and wife), Logan, Dicky, and Andrea finally saw "The Lord of the Rings". As they watched the movie, Logan said to Andrea, "I can see how Tolkien is the king of fantasy. That movie is too fricking big!"

"I told you they broke the movie into three parts," said Dicky.

"Yeah, I've noticed," said Andrea.

When the Balrog came out while the Fellowship was in Moria, however, the three cousins screamed in horror. "Oh my gods, it's a monster!" Andrea cried out.

"I know, right?" said Logan. "Not even the Balrog in the cartoon is that scary!"

"Find a happy place, find a happy place, find a happy place!" Dicky cried.

They weren't alone in their fear; a group of children sitting behind them also cried in fear upon seeing the Balrog. "Well, this is lame," said a man who sat next to the cousins.

"No, the Balrog in the cartoon version of the "Lord of the Rings" was lame," said another man.

"What cartoon version?" said a woman who sat in front of them.

"Uh, we don't talk about that version," said the first man.

"Why not?" said the woman.

"Trust me," said the second man. "You don't want to know."

Yet when the Balrog captured Gandalf and Gandalf fell to his death, the kids in the theater began crying. Logan said, "Wow, never thought I'd cry over this movie."

"I've noticed," said Dicky.

"Gandalf's not really dead, is he?" said a small child who sat behind them.

"Now that I don't know the answer to," said Andrea.

To make a long story short, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea couldn't say they enjoyed "Fellowship of the Ring" . Not without comparing the movie to Ralph Bakshi's "Lord of the Rings".

Or as Logan said, "That movie made the cartoon look like a huge piece of crap!"

"Like my eyes died," said Dicky.

"I can't believe that once again, Sean Bean had to die in a movie!" Andrea voiced her disappointment in the decision to cast Sean Bean as Boromir.

"Yeah, and that too," said Logan.

After the clock stuck midnight on December 31, 2001 and the world transitioned to January 1, 2002, Logan said, "Well, looks like it's a brand-new year."

"I hope so," said Andrea, "and it's not because we're still alive. It's because we decided to take a proactive role in the world."

"Like we stopped the 9/11 attacks and prevented Harry Potter from being a megahit," said Dicky.

"Yeah," said Logan. "And now we have to deal with the repercussions of what we did."

Many things would change that year while many other things stayed the same. Terror attacks needed to be thwarted and crimes were still being committed. Despite the fact that two people with Down syndrome had stopped the 9/11 attacks, crimes against mentally disabled people increased by 20%, especially in New York. It seemed that every day, the NYPD received phone calls from frantic people claiming to see people dressed in dark clothes luring disabled people away from their homes. The bodies of those unfortunate people were found in an area near the Twin Towers (where Andrea was found dead in another time and place).

There was also the matter of Andrea's husband Roger coming home after his business trip on October 1, 2001. He found his house empty and his wife and children gone. Anastasia's kindergarten teacher said she hadn't seen her at school since September 10, 2001, and the housekeeper hadn't seen Andrea or Consuelo since they vanished that same day.

Fear filled Roger; he knew  most people in his community (including his family) didn't support his marriage to Andrea Marshall, and some of those people would get rid of Andrea and the girls and not lose any sleep over it. Maybe that was the reason Andrea took the girls and left New York; she was tired of the cruel stares and the cruel remarks. She had to leave before the stares and cruel remarks turned into something far worse.

Yet when rumors about her taking the girls and moving to California began to spread around the neighborhood like wildfire, Roger knew he had to find his family. He called Sean, who told him, "Your family had to move to California because Andrea stopped the 9/11 attacks."

"Really?" said Roger.

"I'm not kidding," said Sean. "In fact, I spent an entire week torturing 19 men who thought it was cool to hijack four planes and crash them into the Twin Towers while Andrea was at Cheers with Logan and Dicky. You didn't hear?"

"Not until I got back and heard about it from a neighbor," said Roger. "Now, what is going on here?"

"Your family is trying to hide stuff about Andrea from you," said Sean. "I already know from what she said they don't like her, and she claims that any of your cousins would gladly kill her and the girls and get away with it..."

"Say what now?" Roger snapped at him.

"...and Andrea would really appreciate it if you would cut ties with Jeremy Bozeman, as she believes without a doubt he wants to kill her and make you marry his sister," said Sean.

"Really?" said Roger. "Over my dead body will that happen!"

"That's what I thought you would say," said Sean. "Now, we have to come up with a legitimate plan to get you away from your messed-up, narrow-minded family and back to Andrea and the girls, where you belong..."

To make that long story short, Sean arranged for Roger to leave New York under cover of a new job in California. No one in the Élan family knew of Roger's new job until the day after he left the city (which was on November 19, 2001). Even then, they could have cared less, seeing as most of them wanted Roger to work for the family business. 

Andrea noticed him walked through the door on November 20, 2001. She said to him, "About damn time you came here. Where have you been?"

"Oh, you know," said Roger. "I got held up at home and things at work got really bad, so I couldn't leave as soon as I wanted to."

"I see," said Andrea. "I had to twist Sean's arm to get him to get you here."

"I've heard," said Roger. "Now, where are the girls?"

"Dad's home!" Anastasia and Consuelo cheered as they jumped up and ran to their father. Roger greeted them, saying, "And what have you two been up to?"

As Andrea watched the family reunion, she said to Sean, "It's about time you got him here. Did his family try to block him?"

"Yes," said Sean. "In fact, his mother tried to pay him $50,000 to divorce you and quit his job. Can you believe it?"

"I'll deal with Elmayra when I next see her," said Andrea. "She's been holding onto him for far too long."

"And not only that, we have Gerald, Davis, and Willas to deal with," said Sean. "They can't keep him forever. Plus, you remember what the Bible says about trying to come between a married couple..."

"Oh, they'll be regretting that when we get through with them," said Andrea.

Well, that wasn't the only good thing happening at the end of 2001. 

Deirdre's movie "Frostfall" won critical acclaim and became popular among children ages 9-16, but "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" was a huge flop in theaters and forgotten by the public. Many fans of Harry Potter were disappointed and gave up on the series, but some people refused to let the fandom die. They blamed Logan's video that denounced Harry Potter, claiming that Logan was the reason the Harry Potter movie flopped in theaters. They were also angry “Frostfall" succeeded when "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" should have succeeded. 

You can imagine the amount of death threats Logan received due to his "Father Diego Condemns Harry Potter" video.

Yet that's for another story.

And another thing, the man who heckled Logan, Dicky, and Andrea for surviving the 9/11 attacks was featured in a LiveJournal video with an outrageous claim that the cousins never should have prevented 9/11 from happening in the first place. (Of course he was arrested for saying that the 9/11 attacks should have happened, as his claims offended many police officers, firefighters, and Muslims alike. Nobody likes a hatemonger.)

Safe to say, though, no matter how bad things were going to get, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea would meet every challenge thrown at them head-on. (If that means they have to face bin Laden personally, so be it.)

More to Come

"Logan, this is a bad idea," said Dicky as the trio walked towards Eleani's beauty salon. They had traveled to Oahu to "lie low" following a death threat from Osama bin Laden. The angry man called for the deaths of the three cousins after learning they stopped the 9/11 attacks. 

The cousins also got 19 men arrested for attempting to hijack four planes and blowing up the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the White House. They also incited millions of people to fight against terrorism and call the Al-Qaida "terrorists". 

In short, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea had made a dangerous enemy. 

"You know my mother worries if she hasn't heard from me in three days," said Logan. "Plus, with the whole 9/11 debacle, she's not going anywhere near the continental United States until it's safe."

"I bet if anything happened to you, your mother would have personally killed bin Laden and tore up the Middle East," said Dicky. 

"Like I would doubt that," said Logan. "There's nothing that my mom won't do to protect her only begotten son."

"Wouldn't it be better if you moved to Oahu?" said Andrea. "That way your mother doesn't have to worry about if you're safe."

"Can't do that," said Logan. "My business is in Pasadena. Plus, I'm not about to uproot my family all in the name of a mother's concern."

They reached the salon and everyone in the place turned to stare at them. Apparently, the workers and customers knew Logan when he was a newborn; one of them said, "Am I seeing a ghost?"

"No, it's only me," said Logan. "Sorry to disappoint you, Robert."

Robert Landrum glared at Logan, saying, "I can't believe it. Logan leaves this humble little place and becomes a big-time Hollywood star..."

"...and you're still Robert Landrum, the useless underachiever, just as you always were my whole life," Logan snapped in turn. "But I'm not here to see you; where is my mother?"

Eleani Pekelo Dara saw Logan, Dicky, and Andrea and ran towards them, crying, "I thought you three were dead!"

"Evidently not, seeing as we're still alive," said Dicky. 

"And not rotting in a pine box at Forest Park Cemetery," said Logan. 

"When I heard you went missing at the same time those guys were arrested, my heart nearly stopped," said Eleani. "The thought of my baby boy, the boy who I gave birth to, being dead in the streets of New York. That nearly killed me, as if nothing else would."

"You knew why I had to disappear," said Logan. "Bin Laden is calling for my death. I'm not going to mention that every Harry Potter fan wants my head for claiming the Harry Potter books promote witchcraft."

"Never do that again, Logan Kamoku Dara," Eleani snapped at him. "Never disappear. You never knew how much it hurt your father to have to tell me that you would have been dead or far worse."

"You do know about Osama bin Laden and how he's calling for Logan's death for stopping his attacks on New York and Washington DC," said Seth Johnston. 

"I know, and I'm going to carve out his heart with a rusty crochet needle if he tries to kill my boy," said Eleani. "That man has no right to demand my son's blood because he can't blow up any buildings. He is a child, and his actions are that of a whiny child who isn't getting their way. He'll be answering to the Trichenberg family soon."

"Plus, you should know what he said about Harry Potter," said Marina Ford. Everyone stated at her. "Logan made that video claiming that Harry potter promotes witchcraft."

"Of course it promotes witchcraft," said Seth. "You think Harry Potter is a children's book? I've seen better written fourth-grade essays than what that talentless hack could have written."

"Yeah," said Laura Reynolds. "I read the book, and I cannot believe the amount of crap Harry was able for get away with. If I did half the stuff he did, I'd be expelled faster than you can say hocus pocus!"

"Yeah, and that too," said Seth. "Anyway, I've had enough of dealing with Harry Potter; the story is lame and unoriginal. If another Harry Potter movie is made after the first movie bombed in theaters, it'll be too soon."

"I hope so," said Logan. "Anyway, we're here for a makeover."

"What'll it be? The All-American Childhood or the Patriotic Special?" said Angela Cooley. 

Andrea cried out, "I thought we were coming here to relax, not totally redecorating my body! What is going on here?"

"I did say that we have to lay low, didn't we?" said Logan. "Well, I can grow out my hair without causing too much trouble, but since you and Dicky both have Down syndrome, disguising you two isn't going to be easy."

"I don't think it's fair to have to change our outer appearance, not even to keep us safe," said Dicky.

"If there was another way that I could keep us safe, I'd go for that in a heartbeat," said Logan. "But since I can't do that, this is what I have to do."

"Straight to the back, you three, I'll be with you in a second," said Eleani. 

Logan, Dicky, and Andrea walked to the back of the salon, which held Eleani's secret tools for body makeovers. Andrea said to Logan, "I hope your mom knows what she's doing."

"Of course she does," said Logan. "She spent six months in Turkey learning how to do this procedure. Plus, that's how she managed to lose all that weight after getting that tumor removed from her head when we went on vacation in Thailand two years ago."

"OK, but I don't see how this is going to work," said Dicky. 

"And what makes you say that?" said Logan. 

"Andrea and I have an extra 23rd chromosome, and no amount of plastic surgery is going to make that go away," said Dicky. 

"I'm not trying to change you, only to make you better," said Eleani as she came into the room. "Now, it's time to say goodbye to the old Dicky, because Richard Trichenberg is going to be reborn!"

Andrea frowned, knowing that she was going to be next to face Eleani. The woman turned to her and said, "And as for you, Andrea, you may be the face of human rights and fighting for the rights of mentally handicapped people, but no one's taking you seriously if you look like that. Your hair isn't even a pixie cut and you look like you're still in kindergarten. How your husband didn't get arrested for marrying you astounds me."

"Mom," Logan began, but Eleani shushed him. "I have no choice but to fix them," she snapped. "So shut up and let me do my work. Remember, you're supposed to be hiding in secret."

"Yeah," said Logan as he sat in a nearby chair the corner of the room. He was beginning to wonder if it was a good idea to bring Dicky and Andrea to his mother's beauty salon. If anything, Logan wondered if it was safe to disguise his friends with the knowledge of them having Down syndrome. 

As far as he knew, it was almost impossible to hide a person with Down syndrome in a crowd. 

Nevertheless, that didn't stop him from bringing Dicky and Andrea to Eleani, nor did it prevent them from protesting the decision to alter their appearance. Some things should not be altered, and a person is one of those things that shouldn't be altered. 

Logan could only hope that he didn't make things worse for himself and his friends. 

* * *

"William, could you hand me the screenplay for "The Time Masters"?" Deirdre said. 

She was sitting in Logan's office, going over screenplays and scripts for the spring TV premieres. So far, she had already dropped seven under-performing shows and canceled an eighth show after viewers complained of a gay storyline. 

"Such a shame that "Boyfriend Series" had to be canceled," said William as he handed her the screenplay. "Just as it was getting good too."

"I've noticed," said Deirdre. "I'm thinking about taking some disciplinary action against Shane McIntyre. Just because he's gay doesn't mean he has the right to impose his homosexuality upon the viewers."

"I've noticed," said William. "Logan needs to know about this as soon as possible. We've given Shane too much leeway; now he's throwing it back in our faces. This is what happens when we are too nice to people who are normally marginalized by society."

"And now we're paying for it in canceled TV shows and lost viewership," said Deirdre. "Haven't we learned anything from the “Spirit Keeper” fiasco?”

"I'm sure that that will come up at the next meeting," said William. 

Deirdre sighed as she read over the screenplay, making notes about the characters and scenery. She set it aside, promising to read it over later. 

She picked up another screenplay; that screenplay was for the next season of Sweet Twilight. The show was beginning to gain its popularity, particularly with the high school crowd. It wasn't "The Teen Rebels", but it was still close. 

"You have already canceled "Party Dad", "The Flying Foxes", "Escapeless", "The Dark Hours", "The Parlour Adventure", "The Eternal Garden", "The Light of Metronome", and "Boyfriend Series", so how many shows are left?" said William. 

"Fifteen," said Deirdre, "which seems like a lot right now. But "Good Hunter" and "The Return of Jessica Brown" are going to be renewed this spring and Logan wants “Road Raiders” to be ready for the summer premiere. Plus, we have to get ready to promote the sequel to "Frostfall". So we can’t be fooling around."

"I hate to break it to you, but you and Logan are invited to take part in the winter Olympic Games," said William. 

"Well, I'm shocked," said Deirdre. "I honestly thought we were going to watch the games. I already brought tickets and everything."

"And the bad news is," William continued, but Deirdre said, "Don't tell me: Amos Yates of Gardenstone Drive has ordered another "Teen Rebels" special. I already told him that we don’t need any more Teen Rebels specials. I mean, I've already done "Teen Rebels 2000" last year; what more does he want?"

"It's not him you should worry about," said William.

"Well, that's good," said Deirdre. "What is it?"

"I'll tell you, but you won't like it," said William.

"Tell me anyway," said Deirdre.

He told her; she didn't like it.

* * *

A few hours later, Logan woke up from his nap. He was still sitting in his seat in his mother's salon, waiting for her to be done with Dicky and Andrea's makeovers. Within a few moments, he reached over and answered his cell phone. Deirdre told him that they had been slated to attend the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

"Well, that's interesting," said Logan.

"But the bad news is that you've been picked as the leader to fight against your cousin Ramley Tallahard in the Trichenberg Hockey Tournament," Deirdre said. 

"Aw crap! You mean, I gotta go up against the fat pig that does nothing but sit on the couch and watches TV all day?" said Logan. "This is insane! Whoever thought of that idea should be shot!"

"That would be the organizer of the tournament," said Deirdre. "Plus, you should be more concerned with the theme of this year's tournament, which is called East Coasters vs. West Coasters."

"Have they lost their minds?" Logan hissed in anger. "Have they forgotten about the East Coast/West Coast rap wars? That rivalry left Tupac and Biggie dead and scarred people for life. I was friends with Tupac! This theme is an insult to his memory!"

At this point, Dicky and Andrea came out. They had been changed from what they had once been that it scared him. For starters, Dicky and Andrea looked like the typical people with Down syndrome, with slanted eyes (Dicky also had Brushfield spots in his blue eyes), flat noses, a short neck, and a small chin. Neither Dicky nor Andrea were able to reach five feet in height. 

Thanks to Eleani, Dicky stood a bit taller than he was before and had tan skin and dark brown hair. (Yet his Brushfield spots remained.) Andrea, however, retained her height of 4'7, but she had light brown hair, cream-colored skin, and purple eyes (as her ancestress, Johanna Trichenberg, had purple eyes). In short, both of them looked more like supermodels than the two apparently childlike people who ended the September 11, 2001 attacks before those attacks happened. 

"Well, do you like it, Logan?" Eleani said as she came out of the room. 

"What did you do to them?" Logan yelled out. 

"Same thing I had done to myself after getting that tumor removed," said Eleani. "No one will know it's them."

"Still, that was completely unnecessary," said Logan. "I brought them here to get a makeover, not completely turn them into superstars."

"Don't worry, Logan," said Andrea. "We had to do this. It's not as if we had any other choice. Need I remind you that there is an evil man named Osama bin Laden who wants our heads because we stopped him from attacking the Twin Towers?"

"Besides, I like the new and improved me," said Dicky. 

"But what about your Down Syndrome?" Logan cried out. "You yourself said that it wasn't going to go away."

"And you're right," said Dicky. "We can't get rid of it without causing a ton of problems. But our appearance is a lot better, no thanks to your mother."

"Now I don't have to wear those ugly frumpy clothes when I have to leave the house," said Andrea. 

"I guess that will work," said Logan as he stared at them again. Then to Eleani, he said, "Do me a favor, will you?"

"What?" said his mother. 

"Don't ever change," said Logan. 

"Too late," said Eleani. "I've already changed our friends. Now we celebrate."

"Celebrate what?" Andrea said with a strange look on her face. 

"Your rebirth," said Eleani. "If you weren't born before, you are born now. Now, let's put away your old life and start your new life. If anyone thinks they will harm you, they'll be answering to me. Now, let's go!"

Logan frowned, already regretting his decision to take his friends to his mother's salon. He knew that it would only be a matter of time before Eleani would change him as well...

Another Year Older

It was now January 13, 2002, and Logan was panicking. No mortal man on this earth would dare forget about his wife's birthday, not even once. 

Logan had spent the last few days in Hawaii "lying low" as he called it. The reason he did that was because Osama bin Laden (the terror mastermind behind the failed 9/11 attacks) called for his head as well as the heads of Dicky and Andrea because they stopped the attacks and exposed his evil deeds to the world.

"I have to get home to her right now or else!" He cried out as he packed his bags. "You know how Deidi is; she'll never let anything go."

"Well, she married a Trichenberg," said Dicky. He and Andrea were still lying in the bed recovering from the unexpected makeover surgery, courtesy of Logan's mother.

"And you know how we are," said Andrea. "We never forgive a slight, nor do we forget the slight."

"But still, this is Deirdre that we're talking about here," said Logan. "She's not going to forgive me if I don't at least show up for her birthday. You know that."

"But we can't travel or go anywhere for a week," said Andrea. "Your mom wants us to settle."

"But she meant you guys," said Logan. "I have to get home NOW!"

"Why didn't you say so?" Dicky cried out. "You never had the surgery, so why should you stay?"

Logan took the hint and brought a ticket back to Pasadena. If he was going to make it back home in time for his wife's birthday, he would have to go now while he still had a chance. 

During the flight back to Pasadena, Logan had time to think about his unconventional marriage to Deirdre Langston. They had met while Logan was still Hollywood's premiere party boy and Deirdre was 12 years old. While driving around the neighborhood one night, Logan and his friends noticed that Deirdre was kidnapped by her cousin Sterling McGravin and rescued her. To complete the rescue, Logan quickly agreed to marry her and to keep her away from anyone who might see her and force her to go back to her cruel cousin. 

At first, Leilar and Eleani were not pleased to learn about Logan's sudden marriage. Both of them believed that Deirdre was too young to marry, and they firmly insisted she be returned to her father, Elias Langston. But after Deirdre appealed to them, begging them to let her stay (and even using their young daughter Emily as example of a potential kidnapping victim), Leilar and Eleani were forced to comply.

Of course, this meant the reputation of the Dara family continued to take a nosedive, since Leilar's own unpopular marriage to Eleani Pekelo in 1973 nearly ruined the relationship between him and his father, Winston. (And don't even get me started on Winston's family drama!) 

To make this long story short, Logan and Deirdre had two children named Homer and Treasure. They settled down in Pasadena, where Deirdre received a huge amount of notoriety playing the character Bonnie McArthur on the hit TV show "The Teen Rebels". (She used the stage name Emma Hilliard.) She also did some other TV shows and movies, mainly shows that were shown to a limited amount of viewers. Logan made sure that Deirdre's movies were not only popular with the 18-49 crowd, but her movies also featured Andrea Marshall (then an aspiring actress who (despite winning an Oscar for her role in the movie Briarwood Resort at aged 13 years) was denied a role in various Hollywood movies due to her Down Syndrome). Deirdre also secured her educational future by attending Angelwood High School and graduating from there in 2001. 

She and Logan also collaborated on many movies and TV shows, such as “Adventures in Eswoth”, “The Legend of the Wizard”, "Girls With Wings", "Souls of Mythology", and "Phantom Adventure". (The fact that they were kicked out of the production of "The Spirit Keeper" still hurt; they filmed the Christian-themed movie "Owls of Fantasia" in retaliation.) But the biggest part of their marriage didn't stem from the moviemaking; in fact, they had to deal with Leilar's family legacy (which consisted of his half-brother, Sylvester Banner).

Also, Logan had to help Deirdre deal with finding her father, who she had not seen since her kidnapping in 1995. She had almost given up that search when at the last minute, Leilar informed her that Elias Langston was living next-door to retired baseball player Franklin Potts in the city of Palm Springs, California. That occurred when Logan and Deirdre were promoting their newest movie, "Frostfall". (How that family reunion happened is a different story for a different time.)

Now it was Deirdre's 19th birthday, and Logan made sure to pick up her birthday present. After all, no man would dare ignore his wife on her birthday. 

* * *

"I don't understand what's going on here," said Karema Smittand as she and Deirdre stood on the patio leading to the backyard. (In another version of this story, Deirdre meets Derrick Virgil and Karema Smittand when Derrick gets sick and is forced to go to the hospital. They are known as the Moviewatching Trio (a trio of moviewatchers that bash Disney-made movies) and they discover that Deirdre and Derrick are cousins.) 

"I’ve noticed," said Deirdre as she watched the children playing. The party was a small affair, with only family and friends invited. (Deirdre was not about to become a Hollywood party girl and throw lavish parties. Logan was still paying for that image, the image of the party boy that he had when he and Deirdre first met.) "And I've also noticed that whenever they mention me, they don't forget to mention Sterling as well. Have you ever met him?"

"No, thankfully," said Karema. “But I have had my dealings with the Erickson family, and not all those dealings are good. Like my father-in-law, Phillip? He left his wife when she busted him for being part of that gang that killed that one famous actor. And you're not going to believe the story that's being spread about my mother-in-law..."

"Hold that thought," said Deirdre as Derrick approached her. Derrick was Deirdre’s cousin, as their parents (Derrick’s mother Miriam and Deirdre’s father Elias) were brother and sister. Derrick said to them, "The press is here, and apparently, the FBI caught your cousin. He was found hiding outside Fort MacPherson in San Manuel, California when they caught him."

"That’s interesting," said Deirdre.

"And to make things worse, they’re spreading rumors about us, as if we were his prisoners," said Derrick. "Well, I tell you something, I haven't even met the guy, so I can't tell you what he's like."

"Oh, but I can," said Deirdre. "Sterling? What can I say about him that the tabloids won't exploit? Well, he reached inside and stole everything that meant something to me. My cousins Suellen, Fraunces, and Nandine were kidnapped along with me, but they distracted him so I could escape. The rest of the story is written in the tabloids."

"I see," said Karema. "And here come the tabloid reporters right now,"

At once, the trio turned around and watched as several cameramen and journalists descended on the compound. Guests were shoved aside as cameras were being set up. Several news reporters were standing of front of the house with reports that Sterling (who kidnapped Deirdre and three other young girls) had been arrested for the kidnapping of 12-year-old Kimberly Jacobs. The girl was rescued and returned to her family while the cruel man in question was taken to jail.

"Well, doesn’t that beat all," said Derrick as the news continued. "I knew that it would only be a matter of time before they found out who you really were."

"I've noticed," said Deirdre. "Even though I used the name Emma for several years, they still managed to find me. How did *THAT* happen?"

"Who knows?" said Karema.

"I mean, in another time and place, the news of Sterling being arrested would have been the best birthday gift ever," said Deirdre, "but for some reason, it's not. I know my other cousins are still out there, and who knows that they went through during the six years I've been living here. Has this world gone mad?"

"Who knows?" said Karema. "The world has indeed taken a nosedive since 9/11."

"But if those planes HAD hit the Twin Towers, things could have been a lot worse," said Derrick. The girls stared at him in shock. "Think about it for a second: if the 9/11 attacks had happened as planned, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea would have died. Scores of innocent people who rode in those planes would have been killed in the attacks. And I'm not even going to get started on the whole Harry Potter debacle."

"So, you're saying that it was a good thing that Sean stopped the attacks when he did?" said Deirdre.

"Of course," said Karema. "Because the alternative is a nightmare we don't want to think about."

"Indeed," said Deirdre as she watched the guests rush into the house, upset that the news ruined the party. "Can't they do this without interrupting her life?" said a guest.

"Deirdre doesn't have time for this," said another guest.

"Why can't the tabloids just let her live her life?" said a third guest.

While the chaos was happening, Logan pulled up in the driveway. He looked around and saw that the world descended upon his compound. Deirdre was nowhere to be found, and the kids were hiding in Leilar's bedroom.

Leilar said, "Logan, you better do something quick! Those newshounds are going to destroy everything!"

"Don't worry, I got this," said Logan. He then went into the front yard, where most of the action was taking place. Deirdre noticed him and said, "They want me to say a few words regarding the kidnapping. What do I do?"

"You say nothing," said Logan. "It's your birthday, your special day; instead of a nice day on the beach, you're in a stupid press conference. They need to come back when it's not your birthday."

"I know my relatives aren't going to like that," said Deirdre. 

"Then they're not going to love what he did to that child," said Logan. "But enough of that. They're not going to turn you into a media circus, not on my watch!"

"We can't deny them a show, right?" said Deirdre. "After all, it's my birthday, so, there's no reason why I can't enjoy my birthday."

"I see," said Logan. He then rushed out the door, yelling, "WHAT IN THE BLOODY YOU-KNOW-WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING??? WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??? LAS VEGAS? ATLANTIC CITY?? THIS IS MY HOUSE, WHERE I'M ABOUT TO HAVE A VERY IMPORTANT MEETING WITH CLAIRVOYANT FILMS IN LESS THAN AN HOUR!! NOW, YOU HAVE FIFTEEN SECONDS TO GET EVERY BLOODY PIECE OF FURNITURE BACK WHERE IT BELONGS AND I WANT ALL THE CAMERAS, PENS, AND PADS IN THE TRASHCAN, AND I WANT YOU ALL OUTTA HERE BEFORE MY WIFE CALLS THE POLICE!!"

With that, the place immediately cleared out, leaving the guests behind. When the news reporters were gone, Logan said, "I suggest we call it a day; there's no need to continue the party if stuff like this happens."

The groans of the guests signaled disappointment as the party was canceled and everyone was forced to go home.

* * *

"Talk about a birthday! I barely get home and there's talk about someone in her family who got busted for kidnapping her as a kid," Logan complained to Dicky and Andrea. He had barely gotten through the door of his house where instead of a birthday party, a press conference was held in his front yard. The news topic was about Deirdre's kidnapper being caught in a town not too far from Victorsville, California. "How did this happen?"

"I don't know," said Dicky. "All I know is that Deirdre is safe and the villain who snatched her is behind bars."

"And I'm not even getting started on the fact that I had something to do with it," said Logan.

"But think about it," said Andrea. "They're calling you a hero. The guy who saved Deirdre Langston from a kidnapper."

"Come on you two, get real," said Logan. "I did nothing of the sort."

"Yes you did," said Dicky. "After all, you did save her from her cousin after she ran away from him. You kept her safe. He didn't even know where she was until now, when he was arrested for stealing that other girl."

"I know," said Logan. "Plus, it's too bad that that girl had a disability. Now she's damaged for life due to the kidnapping, that poor thing. I hope that sick monster gets what he deserves and soon."

"I hesitate to think what's going to happen when Gretchen grows up and she catches his attention," said Dicky. "People like Sterling McGravin need to be put away for good."

"Yeah, and that too," said Logan. "I'll be there within a few hours."

Within a few minutes, Logan had gathered the children and hopped into the car. Deirdre and Leilar joined them and they sped away from the house with the paparazzi (who took pictures of Logan chasing away the media) chasing after them.

* * *

"I think we lost them," said Logan. 

"Good," said Deirdre. "Can you believe those guys? Most of them work for some of the sleaziest tabloids in the world, tabloids that aren't even fit to line the bottom of a cat's litter box. They're trying to exploit my story for cash."

"Screw the tabloids and screw your cousin," said Logan. "He's a disgrace to your family. When he kidnapped you and your cousins, nobody batted an eyelash, nor did they show any concern about your safety. But when you finally find him and discovered that the cousin who ruined your life kidnapped an innocent girl, that's when things got really bad."

"If they want information about that kidnapping, they should talk to the family of that kidnapped girl," said Deirdre, "which is a bad thing because someone will talk about me and how I managed to escape from Sterling and kept myself hidden from him for the last seven years."

"And how are your friends holding up?" said Logan. "They and that one girl?"

"They're doing fine, if the tabloids would just get off their backs," said Deirdre. "Karema just wants to find her father's family and take care of her babies. Derrick needs to get help for Connie so she doesn't end up like my cousin Darella, who was abused and murdered half the people in the family for not helping her when she needed help."

"And this was supposed to be your birthday, too," said Logan. "Too bad no one cared about that; they only cared about your kidnapping."

"Maybe the best thing to do in this situation is to slip away now while no one knows where we are," said Deirdre. "Your mother has yet to see Homer and Treasure and I'm sure that I could use a vacation."

"We should get your friends and fly back to Hawaii," said Logan. "Give the press a bit of a scare when they realize that you're not around to give out a speech regarding your cousin."

"If they want my opinion about Sterling, they should check my LiveJournal," said Deirdre. "I have already said what needed to be said about that subject and I won't be bothered with it a second longer."

"And neither will I," said Leilar. "Not unless you go on TV and explain everything. And even then, will they believe you?"

"They will, if Father Diego forces them to," said Logan.

* * *

Within a few hours, the plane touched down in Hawaii, this time with the Dara family (plus Derrick, Connie, Karema and Karema's son Sydney and daughters Lucy and Ripley). No one saw them coming, as Deirdre had everyone disguise themselves as tourists and slipped through the radar. 

Of course, the tabloids went into a huge frenzy when it was discovered that the Dara family wasn't speaking out about the arrest of Sterling McGravin. 

But let's not start. 

"Now, this is what I wanted for my birthday," said Deirdre. They were sitting on the beach, watching as the kids and Connie played in the sands. "No tabloids, no paparazzi, and no publicity. Just my family."

"You said it," said Andrea. "Somehow I'm beginning to wonder if I should go back to New York. Even if things there are still bad, Roger and I want to go back for a while."

"I'm not sure about that," said Logan. "You knew the things people had said and done to you while you were living there. Do you really want to subject yourself to that pain again?"

"Maybe you should go back to New York," said Dicky. "I know you still belong there despite the fact that you're currently living in California. Besides, you can't hide from the world forever."

"I can't," said Andrea, "but what choice do I have?"

"We don't have any choices right now," said Logan. "It's not fair that Deirdre gets to celebrate another birthday while we're not allowed to see another year. I guess what we did threw them off."

"I hope you're enjoying this nice weather, because next month, we'll be freezing our butts off in Salt Lake City," said Deirdre. 

"Right," said Logan. "We need to come up with a game plan. No one from the East Coast is going to give us the one-up, if that can be helped."

"They're going to regret the day they organized that match," said Dicky in anger. "No one messes with us and lives!"

Andrea said, "And we're going to teach Mr. Bin Laden that lesson soon."

The Olympics in Salt Lake City

"Dear sweet God in Heaven, why is place so fricking cold?" Logan cried out as he stepped off the plane in Salt Lake City. The freezing cold weather that was prevalent to the mountain region of the United States of America greeted them. Logan, who was born and raised in Hawaii and Los Angeles, was clearly not used to cold weather. Unlike him, Deirdre (who was born and raised in Missouri) knew what the weather in winter was like.

"Well, it's not exactly warm like it is at home," said Deirdre as she wrestled the kids to her side. "And in case you forgot, I grew up in Missouri, where it gets cold during the winter. Plus, it's the Winter Olympics. They don't play games like these during the summer."

"Indeed," said Logan, "but do they hate us enough to make us go to a place where our blood will freeze?" 

"I should know, seeing as not only do they want us here for the Olympics, but they want us to promote Frostfall while we're there," said Deirdre. "The movie's been out for a few months now; it already has one more week before it leaves theaters. I don't understand people to watch the movie during the Olympics."

"And that's another issue that I'm taking up with at the next meeting," said Logan. "They're trying to milk that cash cow for all its worth."

"I warned you about this," said Deirdre. "I told you that they would exploit the movie, but did you listen? No, you didn't. Now we have to deal with these useless Hollywood bureaucrats who are trying to turn Frostfall into the next big thing. I don't like it."

"I know," said Logan angrily. "I should have listened to you and left Frostfall alone."

"Because you didn't listen to me and took over Frostfall, you made it bigger and better than Harry Potter, which wasn't an easy feat," said Deirdre. "Now, instead of Harry Potter mania, we have people who stopped reading the books, not because Father Diego told them that the book was full of witchcraft, but Logan read the books and determined that they were poorly-written and unoriginal."

"I see," said Logan.

"Next time, sign up for the Summer Games," said Deirdre. "That way, you won't be complaining about the cold."

"Then you'll be complaining about the heat," said Logan. "You'll complain about the heat so much that you'll beg me to sign up for the Winter Games. Whether it's summer or winter, you always complain about the weather. You can't win."

"What do you know?" Deirdre said as the group met at the airport terminal. They too were barely dressed for the winter. Everyone wore heavy jackets save for Deirdre, who bundled herself and the children in winter coats. 

Dicky saw them and said, "This is unfair! I got this makeover a few weeks ago and then they expect me come here and freeze my butt off. What is wrong with people nowadays?"

"I did warn you that we were going to freeze our butts off when we got here," said Deirdre.

"You did," said Andrea, "but it would have been nice if they gave us a warning first."

The group came to Salt Lake City to compete in the Winter Olympic Games. Many athletes from around the world were there, either to compete or watch the games. Logan frowned at the amount of media coverage the East Coast/West Coast rivalry was getting, thinking this is pointless. Why aren't they covering something that's more important, such as why Afghanistan and many other Middle Eastern countries aren't allowed to participate in this year's Olympic games when they could the last time we were at the Olympics games?

"Let's go, Logan," said Leilar as he snapped out of his reverie. "They're all waiting for you. I even had to drag your mother here and you know how she is about planes."

"Yes, I am not fond of airplanes," said Eleani as she glared at Logan. "I especially had to bribe Emily to come here, as the poor thing refuses to leave the house, not even to see her own brother." Logan's younger sister, Emily, glared at him; she had Down syndrome and was severely disabled. She never attended school or left the house except to go to church. (There were times when Logan wished that he had remained an only child and not have to deal with a sister like Emily Dara.)

"Yeah," said Logan as he shouldered his bag and began walking towards the shuttle that would take the group to their hotel room. He would have to deal with his doubts later.

* * *

"At least they were smart enough not to expose us as the heroes who stopped 9/11," said Dicky as the cousins sat in the locker room. The opening ceremony featured many aspects of American life, but left out the fact that Logan, Dicky, and Andrea stopped the 9/11 attacks from happening. (This was something they were grateful for.)

"Well, Sean paid them to leave us out," said Logan. "Or as I recall, I heard him say to an announcer, "Expose my cousins and their role on 9/11 and you'll never work in broadcasting again." I could only imagine the look on that poor guy's face as he said that."

"I can't imagine that," said Andrea. "Anyway, we need to have a plan to bail out of this game. It's one thing to have us going against our southern cousins in Atlanta and call the south "evil racists" for their role in slavery and segregation, but it's another thing to fight against our eastern cousins. Hardly anyone in the family lives here, which is a shame in itself, and they weren't chosen to play in the hockey tournament either."

"Don't worry about that," said Logan. "I have a plan. Or rather, she does." Dicky and Andrea stared at him. "Don't worry, you two," he said. "Deirdre knows when and how to shut down something that she doesn't like. Need I remind you that she and her two friends are calling out Disney's bluff?"

"Yeah," said Andrea. "It's one thing to call a movie crap, but this the Olympic Games! We can't call other teams crap!"

"It's not the world that's crap," said Sean as he walked into the room. "It's the organizers of the Trichenberg Hockey Tournament. They're the ones who she needs to shut down."

"Let's hope she does it before the game," said Dicky. "I hate to be plastered on TV for fighting against my cousins."

"And neither should we," said Logan. But he wondered if Deirdre would be up to the task of knocking down to organizers who dared to humiliate his family.

* * *

During the next two weeks, the Olympics was in full swing as the population of Salt Lake City and the entire world turned to watch the games. Even those who served in the military (such as Deirdre's stepbrother Jackie Williams) weren't forgotten, as they watched the games on TV while they weren't on duty. Excitement swept through the whole world, as if it wasn't exciting enough that the September 11 attacks were thwarted just minutes before it happened. 

Then came a few moments no one saw coming, especially Karema Smittand. 

She went to watch the figure skating competition with Derrick, Deirdre, and the children while the big hockey game between the East Coast and the West Coast was set up. No one said anything until the Little Texas Rangers Dance Troupe was brought to dance in the middle of the rink during the halftime show. 

"Little Texas Rangers?" she cried out in anger.

"I don't see what's wrong with their performance," said Deirdre.

"I was a Little Texas Ranger," said Karema, "and that was before my mother went nuts and ruined that part of my showbiz career."

"How sad," said Deirdre. "Here I was beginning to wonder if I'm turning into my own mother." 

"I hope that their halftime show is not like the Super Bowl," said Derrick, recalling the Super Bowl game that they watched on TV a few days before the trip to Salt Lake City. "That halftime show was kind of lame."

"Don't worry, there's always next year," said Karema. "Besides, the musician wasn't even half bad. You just need to give half of them a chance, like what your sister is doing."

"It would be easy if I could shake off the last few years of my life," said Derrick. "Deeds has no idea of how good she had it."

"Well, there were times when I fought with them, whether it was with Leilar or Eleani. Those two are indeed a pair and I had a hard time getting along with them, especially in the first few weeks when I hooked up with Logan," said Deirdre. "Yet, Logan never likes to fight with anyone, which says a lot about who he is."

"Indeed," said Derrick. "Your cousin is insane. Seriously, he's fricking messed up in the head. Why didn't they stop him before you were kidnapped?"

"I'm not at any liberty to discuss my cousin's behavior, not unless I'm talking to Barbara Walters," Deirdre snapped. "Plus, haven't you seen the tabloids? Despicable! Why do they insist on exploiting me?"

"Who knows?" said Karema. "We're old, we're useless, and I don't know the right people. I don't have a way to reconnect with the people I've known before; they either died or forgot about me."

Derrick was about to respond when the teams announced. Immediately, many people crowded into the stadium to watch the exhibition game between the two factions of the American Trichenberg family. The trio rolled their eyes as they watched the two teams roll into the rink; the East Coast team wore green and gold while the West Coast team wore blue and brown. The announcer (who was a very obnoxious man) said, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Trichenberg Hockey Tournament!"

The audience cheered as the lineup was announced. Deirdre turned to Derrick and said, "This game is going to suck. I just know it."

"Yeah," said Derrick. "I can't wait to wipe the smiles off their faces when they realize that it's going to look like the U.S. Civil War part II."

"Screw those guys!" Karema snapped. "That game is going to suck! Just who do these jerks think they are, insulting your family like that?"

"They have no shame," said Deirdre. "They are useless, clueless, brainless, gutless, worthless!!!"

At that, the game stopped abruptly, with everyone in the place staring at her. No one said a word as Deirdre stood up and said, "I can't believe that you would do this kind of shit! Lesser men would have been killed for doing what you bastards have done! I'm so sick of your shit that I want to step on a king cobra so hard it'll make your mothers wish they aborted you! This game is over...FOREVER!!!"

At that, the stadium was cleared quickly; the audience was angry with Deirdre for her scathing remarks regarding the organizers of the game and making the mothers of those organizers wish that they had aborted them. The two sides of the Trichenberg family who would have played against each other also walked away from the rink in disgust. Logan said to her, "Thank you so much; you saved me from having to embarrass myself in front of the entire world. I'll be sure to let you know."

"What was I going to do? Let those racist sons of pigs force you to fight against your cousins for other people's enjoyment?" Deirdre snapped in anger. 

"That's exploitation," said Derrick. "They're exploiting you for kicks!"

"Either that, or they're just in it for the money," said Karema. "Who knows what goes on behind closed doors these days." 

"I'm beginning to suspect that the Sons of Ebal are behind this," Sean snarled as he came towards them with Dicky and Andrea. "They definitely had their sticky fingers all over most of the events that happened this year."

"Don't even get me started with those assholes," Logan cried out, who was not at all mindful that the children were nearby and they could hear every word that he was saying. "I heard rumors that they were behind the Harry Potter movie and the 9/11 attacks."

"I've noticed," said Sean in anger. "I bet that they arranged the match since we thwarted their plans to attack New York on 9/11 and made sure that the people they hired to kill you didn't kill you."

"And I bet they wanted you dead because of that one incident in Australia a few years ago," said Dicky. 

"Look guys, if you're referring to the incident involving Rachel Grant, I wasn't even there," said Sean as he held up his hands in a gesture of mock surrender. "All I did was give those two hackers the tools they needed to disrupt that cult's little asteuric ritual."

"Well, whatever it was you did back then, it doesn't matter. You're their number one enemy," said Logan. "Everyone knows who you are. And the fact that you help prevented the 9/11 attacks from happening isn't going to fly with these guys."

"And because your wife announced their presence to the world," Sean began, but then screams was heard in the stadium's plaza. A hooded man entered the stadium and shot into the crowd. A man was killed and three people were seriously injured. Many other people suffered cuts and bruises in the chaos that followed the shooting, yet several of Sean’s cousins who came from Turkmenistan to watch the games took down the gunman. 

"I wonder who was behind that attack," said Deirdre as the police escorted the group back to their hotel room. It wasn't a question of who did it and why they did it; it was the fact that once again, the three cousins had escaped from death. 

"It's like the Atlanta games all over again," Sean said sadly, remembering the 1996 games, when an agent of the Sons of Ebal tried to kill him while he and Rachel were watching the games. Not only did that plan fail (because Sean and Rachel weren't in the area where the agent was), but a woman was killed and many other people were injured. Sean was unaware of the attack until it was reported on the news later that night. 

"Well, whatever it was, let's be grateful that we're still alive," said Logan. "Had we stayed inside the stadium a second longer, we could have been killed or seriously injured."

"That’s what they wanted," said Sean. "They wanted us out of the way, and they were willing to kill us just to get what they want. We must never give them the satisfaction of knowing that we can be defeated so easily. Let the Sons of Ebal rant and wail, for we will return to stop them again." 

The Stale Grapes News

"And in closing news, last night in Barstow, California, a man and a woman were arrested for breaking into a gay bar. The couple in question had initially claimed that God sent them to the bar to convert the gays to Christianity. The bar's owner had no comment about the incident, but a patron at the bar said that it would be nice if these so-called "Christians" could stay in their own useless world and leave the rest of us alone, a comment that is quickly drawing ire from many of the city's residents.  

"I'm Sean Michael Rowes and that was my final answer. Be good to your parents."

The show ended as Sean said his final words. The camera was shut off and the lights dimmed. As the crew cleaned up the set, Sean said to Mobley, "This is getting tedious. Can I please get something decent to report?"

"I've noticed," said Maverick Mobley. "The stories around here are dull and lame. I bet you can do better than that!"

"How?" Sean cried out. "It's not like I can't poke fun at the news that's going on here and..." Then it hit him. "That's it!" He cried out. 

"What?" said Mobley. 

"I can poke fun at the news!" Sean cried out. "Like how Jon Stewart and David Letterman make fun of the news every night. People like satire."

"Such as the gay couple that broke into the church during a Sunday service and attempted to shut down the place because Christianity was considered to be a threat to their right to be together," said Mobley. 

"Yeah, that'll work," said Sean. 

"That's incredible!" said Brock Jonson, who could hear them from the adjoining room. "The audience will love it!"

"I know," said Christina Bishop as she showed up. "Sean makes up the opposite of the news, and the world will beat a path to his door."

"Yeah," said Mohammed Salazahr. "I can foresee this happening: Sean's going to bring satire on the map. He's going to do for the Internet what Walter Cronkite did for the evening news."

"Yeah, I know," said Sean. "Maybe we need to remake this news broadcast into a straight-up parody of the news."

"And we'll show the world exactly what is wrong with news broadcasts nowadays," said Christina. 

Mobley, Sean, Brock, Mohammed, and Christina had worked at the Oystertainment Station since 1997, when Phineas Perlman (founder and CEO of the station) died of lung cancer. The manner of his death was under investigation, as rumors of him being murdered surfaced all over the media. 

Because of those rumors, Perlman's wife Rebecca was accused of murder in his death. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole. 

"So, what do we call our new news show?" said Brock. 

"I was thinking about calling it Alternative News," said Mohammed. 

"No, that's a bad idea," said Brock. "We need something else, something that's more exciting."

"What did you have in mind?" Christina blurted out. 

"We call it the Sour Grapes News," said Mobley. Everyone stared at him as he continued, "because while the news channels everywhere like to sweeten the stories they tell, we here like to give the stories we tell a dash of hard-core realism."

"That's great," said Sean. "But instead of that, let's call our news show the "Stale Grapes News". "Sour Grapes" is too normal."

"I'm not sure about that," said Willem Claybourne, who also worked at the station. "I don't think that Alexander Jones would like it if we changed our news show without his knowledge or consent."

"Then we'll just have to be subtle about it," said Mobley. "Alexander just wants mediocrity like the other news stations, but that's not what the American people want."

"But what do the American people want?" said Sean. Everyone stared at them, but Sean said, "Seriously. Mobley, Mohammed, and I are British. We don't know Americans like you guys know Americans, and you are Americans."

"So what do we do?" Christina blurted out. 

"We'll be making some very subtle changes to the news," said Brock. "And I think we'll start by calling this news broadcast "The Stale Grapes News"."

"Good idea," said Clayton. "I'll tell the others and we'll change the title of the show. The set changes come tomorrow."

"Yeah," said Sean. "That'll give us enough time to prepare to do this year's Dummy Awards." 

The Dummy Awards (a parody of the Oscars) began in 1978, when an angry 16-year-old Sean went on Saturday Night Live and declared "Star Wars IV: A New Hope" to be the dumbest movie he had watched in theaters. ("Return of the Jedi" was also voted dumbest movie in 1984, but "Raiders of the Lost Ark” replaced “The Empire Strikes Back" in 1981.) Many people assumed that Sean created the Dummy Awards as a joke on Saturday Night Live, but the awards show became popular in 1979 when the audience voted "Up in Smoke" as the Dumbest Movie of the Year. 

After that, the Dummy Awards became fully ingrained in popular culture, especially in the 1990s, when Sean famously badmouthed Disney-made cartoons and even slammed Gary Goldman for his decision to make the infamous Anastasia cartoon. (That incident happened in 1998.)

Yet in 2000, after Sean called George Lucas a complete idiot for making the Phantom Menace, he was forced to deal with death threats from angry Star Wars fans. (At one point, the California State Guard was dispatched to protect him from hordes of people who wanted his death for daring to call Star Wars "the biggest waste of time Hollywood has invented".) 

Yeah, let's not start. 

Anyway, Sean said, "If it's anything like what happened two years ago, those Harry Potter fans are going to come out of the woodwork and demand my head when I announce "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" as the Dumbest Movie of the Year."

"Or probably not, since the majority of them are little kids," said Mobley. "Children don't have much say when it comes to matters like this. Believe me."

"Now let's not be stupid," said Sean. "Children can be offended by some of the stuff that I've said. Remember last year when I said that children who prefer to read the classics are smarter than those who read comic books? Kids who like to read comic books sent me hate mail because I insulted them." 

"Yes, I remember that," said Mobley. "Well, it's not so much as the children who are offended, but it's the parents who buy stuff for the children who you need to watch out for. I bet that most people haven't forgotten about Father Diego's anti-Harry Potter rant on your show a few months ago." 

"No they haven't," said Sean. "This is why we need the Stale Grapes News. If we can pull this off, there's no telling how far we're going to go in terms of not only getting the information out there, but influencing the people we tell." 

"Well, I hope you're right," said Mobley. "It may seem like a foolish idea now, but down the line, people will be thanking you for everything that you've done." 

"That's all I want," said Sean.

* * *

On March 25, 2002, the entire population of Santa Cruz tuned in at 10:30 PM and saw this: 

"Good evening and welcome to the Stale Grapes News, where your news is full of hardcore realism. Yes, we have some stuff for you. Last Sunday, in the city of Rockdale, Colorado, a gay couple broke into the Bethany United Methodist Church, where service was interrupted for almost an hour and a half. They said some derogatory things about Christianity before being removed from the place by the police. Says a parishioner whose name cannot be mentioned for security reasons, "It's a sad thing when we're not allowed to worship our God just because some people don't agree with His views on marriage." The couple is being charged with trespassing. 

"In other news, the popular clothing store The Quaint Pargoda Clothing Store has announced that it will no longer carry clothing sizes over 24. That's because those poor people who work in those Asian sweatshops can't afford to make clothing for extra large people anymore. Also, a size 28 shirt use this more materials than a size 16 shirt. So what does this mean for us fat ugly Americans? You better lose weight now or have no clothes and risk going to jail for public nudity.

"The Oscars have come and gone, and the movie "A Beautiful Mind" took home the award for Best Movie. Denzel Washington won the Best Actor award while Halle Berry won the Best Actress award. Ron Howard walked away with the Best Director award and Shrek won the Best Animated Feature Film award. Ironically, the popular children's movie "Frostfall" didn't get any Oscar nominations or win any Oscars (which was a disappointment for Rising Star Film Productions as well as my cousin Logan and Moviemagic Films) but the good news is Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone didn't get nominated or win anything. So there's still hope for humanity. I can't say the same for "The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring", which won four Oscars. 

"Also, congratulations to Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier for being awarded the honorary Academy Award and to Arthur Hiller who won the Jean Hersholt humanitarian Award. Thank you for hosting this year's Oscars, Whoopi Goldberg. But I didn't like Felix Flowers' speech about how and why the September 11th attacks should have happened. That guy needs to go back to school and learn the meaning of freedom and what it means to be an American citizen.

"For all you guys who like to keep up with the Golden Raspberry Awards, let me give you the rundown on who won what award: "Freddy Got Fingered" almost swept everything. Yeah, that stupid movie never should have been made in the first place. As for everything else, I have nothing to say. 

"But for all you folks out there who are begging for something better than the Raspberry Awards, be on the lookout for the Dummy Awards, which will take place on March 31, 2002. "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" leads the pack with nine nominations, ranging from Dumbest Adapted screenplay to Dumbest Use of Special Effects and even Dumbest Book-to-Movie adaptation. For the first time this year, we will be rewarding the Dumbest-Writer-of-a-Book-that-became-a-Movie, with J. K. Rowling for being slated to take that award. I hope to see you all there at the boardwalk. 

"I'm Sean LeSouse Rowes and I would like to remind you all that there is a correct way to watch your evening news. If you prefer to watch Fox News, you're doing it wrong. Now you know."

Within an hour and a half of the Stale Grapes News being debuted, Alexander Jones called him into his office, where he said, "I can't believe you did this, Sean. What were you thinking? "If you're watching Fox News, you're doing it wrong." I'll have you know that Fox News is fair and balanced!"

"No, Fox News is where I get my comedy from," said Sean. "Plus, they don't know what fair and balanced is, even if it kicked their butts from here to China! Besides, my new news show is going to show the world exactly what's wrong with today's news. Notice how I didn't sensationalize any child kidnappings or celebrity misbehavior; nobody wants to know about that. They just want the news." 

"And you want to know something impressive," said Mobley, "the numbers are in. People have been watching this broadcast and they like what they see. Nothing too exciting or over the top, just the news. What Sean did for us was give us what we needed to hear. Now we can all gather around the watercooler tomorrow and talk about how "Frostfall" didn't take home anything and Harry Potter being nominated for the Dumbest Movie and how everybody who didn't see "A Beautiful Mind" are missing out on a good movie and if you hate Denzel Washington, you're a fricking racist."

"Wow. If you say so," said Alexander. "Of course, I will have you do another Stale Grapes News broadcast, if you promise to host the Dummy Awards at the University of Santa Cruz."

"Okay, fine," said Sean, "but let me tell you something: if you're a Harry Potter fan and you get offended by Harry Potter getting the Dumbest Movie of the Year Award, don't come crying to me, because you were warned."

He walked out the door before Alexander could get another word in. 

* * *

The next day, as everyone at work all over the United States gathered around the watercooler to talk about the Stale Grapes News, Sean himself had to deal with a very angry Deirdre, who demanded answers about how and why a parody of the movie "Frostfall" going to be broadcasted during the Dummy Awards. 

Or as the conversation went: 

"What the hell is this crap that I'm hearing?" Deirdre snapped in anger; she called Sean up to let him know her displeasure at learning about the "Frostfall" parody. "Why are the guys at Twisting Fantasy making fun of Frostfall?" 

"Probably because your movie was so good that you got 4 Saturn nominations," said Sean. "Also, you got to make this country admit that it likes that supernatural fantasy hit." 

"I don't care what you're doing, but please don't let them show that parody on your awards show," said Deirdre. "I've already had to deal with not being part of "The Spirit Keeper" and watching that group poke fun at it with that spoof "The Soul Takers", but I can't let "Frostfall" be destroyed like that. 

"But you don't understand that Twisting Fantasy really likes your movie," said Sean. "What better way to pay homage to such a great movie that trounced Harry Potter by making fun of it?"

"You think?" said Deirdre.

"Okay, so "Falling Snow" isn't much of a parody title," said Sean. "Now let's have a little faith and stop taking your movies so seriously."

"I'll do that when I retire from making movies," said Deirdre. "You do know that parodies are the lowest form of entertainment, don't you?" 

"Not where it counts," said Sean. "But not to worry, because Harry Potter is going to be voted the Dumbest Movie of the Year. When that happens, people are going to wake up and understand that not all popular children's books should be made into movies." 

"If you say so," said Deirdre. "I'll have you know that I'm working on "Frostsnap" right now as we speak. When that movie comes out in November, people will forget that the Harry Potter movies exist. That's what I want to see." 

"And what you want is what you're getting," said Sean. "But I implore you and Logan to come to Santa Cruz so that he can receive his award for having the most shocking turnaround. After all, you cured him of his partying ways."

"I'll have to think about that one," said Deirdre, "but I won't be making any promises."

"I appreciate that," said Sean. 

* * *

To make a long story short, the Dummy Awards was held in the theater of the University of Santa Cruz on March 31, 2002. As projected, "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" swept the awards in all of its categories, with Alan Rickman receiving the (1) Margo Barrett Award for being the actor whose talents were wasted. J. K. Rowling took home the award for (2) Dumbest-Writer-of-a-Book-that-became-a-Movie. 

Yet, the biggest surprise of the evening was when Sean awarded Logan the Shocking Act of Redemption Award, better known as the (3) Phillip Brady Award. Very few people saw that coming, and it would be the most talked-about events around the water cooler the next day. (As we all know, Logan was once a party boy until he met (and rescued) Deirdre from her kidnapper. The rest of that story you already know.)

As anticipated, the minute "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" was announced as the Dumbest Movie of the Year, many Harry Potter fans began to protest, believing that Sean was wrong to give the movie that title (and claiming that another movie should have taken the title instead). But remembering the last incident involving the "Star Wars" fandom, (as well as a warning from Sean himself saying that he would personally have anyone who sent him a death threat arrested), the general population silenced the protesters. 

And when Logan's image as a husband, father, and TV/movie director was revealed to the world, no one would foresee the drama behind their sudden and unexpected marriage and Logan and Deirdre's pasts being brought to light...

-----

(1) The Margo Barrett Award was named after the actress Margo Barrett (1969-1996), who starred in the C Movie "The Eyes of Brian Turner (1995)". After Sean claimed that the movie wasted her talent (as well as having a dumb plot and a pathetic cast of characters) at the 1996 Dummy Awards, she committed suicide at the age of 27. Sean decided to name the "Great Actor in a Movie that Wasted their Talent Award" after her.

(2) The "Dumbest-Writer-of-a-Book-that-became-a-Movie Award" was later renamed the J.K. Rowling Award in 2003. Future recipients of the award included Philip Pullman and Christopher Paolini in 2008 and Stephenie Meyer in 2010.

(3) The Phillip Brady Award was named after the actor Phillip Brady, who was notorious for being a 1980's Hollywood party boy instead of his movies The Blue Dolphin, Beyond El Dorado, and Mission: Infinity. His astonishing turnaround in the year 1993 (which was prompted by his marriage to the actress Harriet Baker in 1991) was the inspiration for the "Most Reformed Actor" award, which was awarded to him in 1997.

Another Threat is Made

"The good news is that we thwarted a kidnapping of a teenage girl in Utah," said Eugene O'Neal while the Knights were having their weekly meeting at the Dairy Grill. "However, the bad news is that a teenage boy in South Carolina has disappeared from his high school."

"I see," said Sean. "Have the police been notified about the kidnapping?"

"The kidnapper says if anyone calls the police, the boy will die," said Eugene. 

"Indeed," said Sean. "We've gotten ourselves in a pickle here."

"Not to mention that 54 students were taken away from Lochland High School," said Anthony Giles. 

"By the police?" said Shane Marshall. 

"Not exactly," said Anthony. "But I have a feeling that if we could figure out what's going on, we could rescue the missing boy and arrest his kidnappers."

"Then let's do that," said Sean. "Time is of the essence here." 

As the Knights packed their equipment, he noticed that most of them were sitting targets for the Sons of Ebal because of their handicaps. The Knights had stopped over 475 criminal acts around the world to date; those who the Knights caught faced life in prison for their crimes. 

"I don't know if this is a good idea," said Mobley. "What if those people become violent knowing that we're going to stop them from doing bad things?"

"It's a risk we have to take," said Sean. "Remember, the more time we waste, the less chance we have to save the boy. We can't afford to lose anyone."

With that, the Knights quickly took off. There wasn't any time to waste. A child's life was at stake. 

* * *

"And in today's news from Utah, the man who was killed in the Rice-Eccles Stadium shooting several weeks ago was identified as 33-year-old Joseph Lightfoot of Bolton Landing, Utah..."

Logan frowned as he watched the latest edition of the Stale Grapes News. The news spoke about the man who was killed in the shooting that took place while he and his family went to watch the Winter Olympic Games. Deirdre came into the living room and saw him, saying, "Did they find out what happened in Utah?"

"They did," said Logan. "They found out who the man that died in that shooting was."

"Indeed," said Deirdre. "Did Sean say if the dead man had a family?"

"He has a daughter and a son," said Logan. "Their names are Cleopatra and Anthony. That's all we know about his family."

"At least we get more news from Sean than we get from CNN," said Deirdre. "I knew his Stale Grapes News was a good idea."

"And why wouldn't it be?" said Logan. "After all, I've always criticized the news for sensationalizing child abductions and political scandals. What Sean offers is none of that; he makes sure that other news stories neglected by CNN and Fox News were shared on the Stale Grapes News."

"At least he hasn't mentioned us yet," said Deirdre. "Not since you got that award at the Dummy Awards. Who knows when the guys at Fox News are going to find out about us."

"Oh they'll find out about us soon," said Logan. "And once that happens, we’ll make them wish they didn't."

* * *

Meanwhile, in Deltaville, South Carolina, (which was outside of Charleston) Sean frowned as he stared at the small house at the corner of Deanmar Way and General Avenue. He was sure that the kidnappers and their victim were in that house. The Knights were running out of time. "We need to strike now while it's still daylight," said Mobley.

"They'll be expecting that," said Sean. "Plus, I'm not putting any innocent bystanders in danger by publicizing this rescue mission."

"Yeah right," said Mobley. "The bystanders who often get caught in the crossfire are never innocent, not when you always find a way to expose their dirty deeds to the public. Need I remind you of how you caught your mother's killer when we rescued Jessie Robinson back in 1998?"

"I see," said Sean. 

Just then, Matthew Todd said, "I see movement in the house; a family living in that house was taken hostage."

"Do they have any disabled children?" said Sean. 

"Yes," said Matthew. 

"Well, this complicates things," said Sean. "We need to handle this as delicately as we should." 

He pulled out a bullhorn and yelled, "ATTENTION JOHN AND BARBARA HOLT: WE KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE AND WE KNOW YOU'VE KIDNAPPED JEDIDIAH HAMILTON! I SUGGEST THAT YOU HAND HIM OVER AND COME QUIETLY!" 

Very soon, a teenage boy wearing an ill-fitting dress was pushed out the door; he was unhurt despite the kidnapping. Sean saw him and said to him, "Are you all right? Did they hurt you?"

“Other than Milton stuffing me into this terrible dress, I'm OK," said Jed as he stood up and brushed the dirt off his dress.

"Good," said Sean. "Now, go to Mobley and call the police. Tell them that we have a hostage situation that needs to be resolved." To Mobley, he said, "Take Jed and get him out of here; this could be dangerous. Also, make sure that he calls the police."

As Mobley took Jed and left, Sean said to the other Knights, "I'm sure we might be walking into a bloodbath. From what I'm seeing, these kids aren't like the men we caught trying to blow up the Twin Towers a few months ago. These kids are dangerous, and this case should be treated as such. I'm not going to say that none of us will get hurt, but this is a job we must do to keep kids safe."

The Knights agreed. As they surrounded the house and the people inside, Sean couldn't help but get a sense of déjà vu. He was there when he helped rescue little Rachel Grant from her kidnappers in Australia and took her to Los Angeles. He left her with Irina's family while he did battle with the Sons of Ebal. The fight ended with 37 people dead and over 363 people arrested; Sean had exposed the names of the members of the cult, along with the various businesses that supported said cult. (It was known as the biggest scandal of 1993; the world condemned the Australian government for its support for a cult that killed disabled people and stole illegitimate children. Even President Clinton criticized the Australian president for failing to stop the Sons of Ebal from killing Lorraine and kidnapping Rachel.

But that's for a different story.)

A voice inside the house said, "I know you're cops; we have a policy about not calling the police! Now you can watch him die!"

Sean tensed for a second, but then he remembered; Jed was with Mobley. He was safe, if for a few moments. All Sean had to do was convince Milton and Barbara Holt to release their hostages and surrender peacefully and the incident would end. 

But it wasn't that simple. 

"Where is Jed?" the voice of Milton cut through the air. Already several people began backing out of their houses, as the situation became dangerous. The police were notified; they showed up, quickly surrounding the house. The chief of police said to Sean, "What's going on here?"

"We got the boy, but the family inside is still being held hostage," said Sean as he pointed to Jed and Mobley, who had taken refuge at a nearby house. "What can you tell me about John and Barbara Holt?"

"They are the twin children of Bruce and Lara Holt," said the chief. "From what I heard, John's all right, but his sister is a troublemaker."

"And Jed Hamilton," said Sean. "What do you know about him?"

"As far as I know, Jed is a good kid who ran afoul of bullies at his high school," said the chief. "He recently exposed a bullying ring at the school; it caused a huge scandal. Several students were expelled from that school a week ago. I guess Barbara recruited her brother to hit back at him; she was among those were expelled from school for bullying and child abuse."

"I see," said Sean. "So why would she use her twin to kidnap Jed to get back at him for getting her in trouble? Or did Jed expose a secret about her that she didn't want revealed?"

"Who knows?" said the chief. "We must end this crisis now or someone will get hurt."

At that point, Milton's voice was heard: "You have five seconds to disperse or else you're dead!"

"Dude, are you crazy?" said Aydin Baxter. 

"He's out of his mind," said Philip Cooper. 

"And what about Jed?" Sean said. "He was never part of this, or was he?"

"Forget him," said Milton. "I didn't even want him being dragged into this. In fact, I don't want to be a part of this, but it's all her fault. Barbara was always telling me what to do!"

"Then why are you listening to her?" said Sean. "Why are you always listening to her?"

"She's my sister," said Milton. "I have to listen to her! You think I have a choice?"

"Of course you do," said Sean. "Take it from me; I know what it's like to be bossed around by my older sister. Wait, scratch that, I have three older sisters."

"What's it to you?" Milton snapped.

"The point is, though, you can't let other people run your life," said Sean, "especially not your sister. She can't tell you what to do. In fact, she's not allowed to tell you what to do."

"What do you mean?" Milton snapped. 

"Look at what you're doing," said the chief. "You're allowing Barbara to run your life. Not only that, but she's abusing you..."

"No she’s not," said Milton. “She doesn’t abuse me…”

"It's abuse if she doesn't let you have your own friends," said Jed, who stepped behind a cop. "Listen to me, Milton. We were once friends. We used to play video games and ride our skateboards at the park. Do you want to give that up in exchange for Barbara's cruelty?"

Milton came to the doorway upon hearing Jed's voice. He frowned, remembering the boy who he helped regain his identity as a boy after years of seeing him wearing dresses. He remembered helping Jed defend himself against bullies and even beating up a popular boy who insulted Jed because he was Jewish. He remembered confronting Barbara when he found out that she was among those who bullied Jed. 

When he realized he had almost thrown away his friendship with Jed to be his sister's slave, he found himself dropping his gun, saying, "OK, you got me. I surrender."

However, that wasn't enough, as Barbara also came to the door. "Jedidiah Hamilton," she snarled as she stared at him. "You've gotten me in a lot of trouble! You told them lies that got a lot of us kicked out of school and sent to jail. And also, you have the nerve to claim that I have children and they're all from you..."

"It's true," said Milton. "It's all true. Wait until Clayton finds out that his girlfriend has been cheating on him and with his best friend too."

"You would dare," Barbara began, but several people burst onto the scene. They were members of the Knights and they didn't take too kindly to those who kidnapped innocent boys and took families hostage. "This is the Knights," yelled Robert Kane as soon as he saw the twins. "John and Barbara Holt, you are to lay down your weapons and surrender. Anyone that's in the house with them must assist us in apprehending them!"

With that, all hell broke loose.

Barbara snarled at the Knights, "You'll never take me alive!" she brandished her weapon around like it was the Holy Grail and the knights were thieves that were coming to take it away from her. "You'll have to get past my cold dead corpse to get to Jed!"

"Actually," Mobley began to say, but Jed clamped his right hand over his mouth. There was no need to give away his actual position, not yet.

"Come out now," said Sean as he stared at Barbara. "Your brother already gave himself up; you should follow his lead. 

"You better listen to him," said the chief. "You don't want to make this many harder on yourself than you should. You’re already in trouble for bullying and child abuse, so don't add anything else to your rap sheet."

"Indeed," said Barbara as she pulled out her gun and aimed it at Sean. "I know who you are, Sean Michael Rowes," she snarled as she sated at him. "I know that you made that report about bullying and child abuse on your Stale Grapes News. You had no right to call me a child abuser, especially since I never abused anyone in my life!"

"But you have," said Sean, who was trying to ignore the gun being pointed directly in his face. "You’ve abused a boy for no reason, other than to have some fun abusing him. I've heard about the scandal in your school, the scandal that's sending many of your friends to jail for the rest of their lives. You’re one of the ringleaders in the bullying ring, I’m sure, and you’ve decided to make your brother's life a living hell because you hate him. But that ends now, Barbara."

"What are you going to do about it?" said Barbara. "You can’t stop me; you're just a news reporter."

"Funny you should mention that, since I’m one of the guys who stopped the 9/11 attacks before they happened," said Sean. "And before you protest, I can assure you that I’ve heard those ridiculous rumors that the attacks were supposed to happen and my cousins should have been dead in those attacks. But not today. Today, it's about you giving up your delusions of grandeur and embracing the cold reality that is a life sentence..."

He didn’t get to finish his speech because a gun went off. The moment that gun went off, everything went straight to hell.

The knights burst into the house; Barbara shot were them as she tried to get to Sean. The disabled boy whose family was taken hostage was also shot for pulling Barbara’s hair and choking her. Mobley, hearing the gunshots from inside the house, snatched Jed and ran down the street, not stopping until they were far away from the house.

But that wasn't the worst of it.

The police, upon hearing the gunshots, also burst into the house, attempting to apprehend Barbara, but she began throwing knives at them. Danny Snider said to Sean, "You would think she was recruited by the Sons of Ebal with the way she's fighting against us."

"You think it's about the Sons of Ebal?" said Sean. "It’s not about them; nothing is all about anything. I didn't even know the Sons of Ebal existed until I saved Rachel Grant in 1993. Even then..."

Just then, a bullet brushed past Sean’s face and embedded itself into a nearby car. Sean gasped, knowing that had he not moved when he did, he would have been dead. "OK, that was too close for comfort," he said with a strange look on his face.

"No shit, Sherlock!" said Kevin White. "Anyway, where's Mobley?"

"If he was smart, he would've taken Jed and gotten out of here," said Sean. "He doesn’t do well with gunfights.” He looked at the scene, which had descended into chaos when Barbara began her shootout and said, "Let’s end this farce of a standoff and go home."

True enough, the people in the neighborhood had fled upon hearing the gunshots. One man said to Sean, "Them crazy white kids dun pushed us around long enough," as he fled from his home. Sean nodded, knowing that it wasn't always going to be evil cults and corrupt news reporters he would have to fight. He would have to fight against ordinary citizens that were insane and disrupted the lives of regular people.

The thought of an ordinary person like Barbara Holt kidnapping people and abusing Jed made him sick. He vowed to talk about that on the next Stale Grapes News broadcast.

By the time the shooting was over, Sean discovered that only six knights were still alive, with the rest of them being caught in the crossfire. Seven, if you include Mobley, who was probably still running through the community. Sean also took stock of the victims; out of the family that was taken hostage, both parents, two older boys, and the handicapped boy were dead, leaving behind three small children who couldn't fend for themselves. Milton Holt was also dead, as he was caught in the crossfire with nowhere to escape. Several police officers were wounded in the shooting, and Barbara was nowhere to be seen.

Until that moment that a heavy shovel connected with the back of his head and he fell to the ground, hearing nothing but the screams of various people who couldn't escape from the shooting in time...

The Nine of Eight

Where we last left off: 

"The moment a heavy shovel connected with the back of Sean's head, he fell to the ground, hearing the screams of various people who couldn't escape from the shooting in time..."

~~~

"Is he dead?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Well, he's not waking up, that's for sure."

"Should we be worried?"

"If anything happens to him, his wife could sue us..."

Sean woke up upon hearing the noises of the doctors surrounding him. He said, "What's going on here!"

"You suffered a serious head injury," said a doctor.

"Say what?" said Sean as he jumped out of bed and stood up. 

"Spellcasters don't have head injuries, let alone any mortal injuries! What are you people talking about?"

"You should be seriously injured," said a nurse as she stared at Sean. "No one just recovers from an injury like yours."

"But we do," said Sean. "We're not like you mortals. Besides, you think I'm going to let a little girl mess with me?"

"Who the heck are you?" said the nurse. 

"I'm a Ainysian," said Sean. Everyone stared at him with strange looks on their faces.

* * *

Jadis Turner-Thristal frowned as she stared at the magazine she was reading. She hadn't been seen outside the city of Aberdaron, Wales since 1982. That was when she and Sean Michael Rowes had an epic fight the night before her wedding to Melanus Thristal. 

That night, Jadis had said to Sean, "For a man who thinks he's so smart, he has no wisdom. You should have married me instead of that baby killer Lindsey Matheson."

"That so-called "baby killer" you so eloquently refer to Lindsey changed since she married me and had Sienna. So don't you dare drag Evolvet and Jaden into this."

"I won't allow our children around that murderess," said Jadis angrily. "Nor will I allow you to remain married to her. You're going to regret meeting her, Sean Michael Rowes."

"You don't scare me," said Sean. 

"You think you know everything, but you're wrong," said Sean. 

"Lindsey's first husband drove her insane and her older children were disabled."

"But it didn't mean they had to die," said Jadis. "Malcolm and Primrose deserved to live their lives despite their disability. For that, Lindsey must die."

"Are you fricking kidding me?" said Sean. "You're telling me you're going to kill my wife over something she did four years ago? If you do that, you're no better than my ancestors, who punished people for crimes they didn't mean to commit."

"It matters not," said Jadis. "Lindsey got away with murder, so she'll pay for it with her life. I can't let you or the kids near that monster a second longer."

Well, the rest, they say, was history.

Lindsey was poisoned at the reception following Jadis and Mel's wedding; nobody saw the poison being put in her drink. Even if they did, no one said anything. Sean watched in horror as his wife choked to death in front of baby Sienna. 

As the body of what had once been Lindsey Matheson was taken to the morgue, Sean glared at Jadis. He should have known that she would somehow be the reason why Lindsey was dead. "You just had to do it, didn't you?" He snarled in anger. "You just had to kill my wife..."

"Don't look at me; I didn't do it," said Jadis.

"You didn't do it?" Sean parroted. "I know you killed Lindsey, Belinda Jade. How could you..."

"Because I had to save you, Jaden, and Evie from her," said Jadis. "You think I should just stand there and watch as she kills you and our children? I don't think so! Besides, she had to go."

"Indeed," said Sean, as all emotions inside him evaporated. "You took away my one chance at having a normal married life. I understand."

"Good," said Jadis. "I'm glad you see things my way."

"But know this, Belinda Jade," Sean said in a hollow tone, "I hope you're happy now. You have officially hurt me forever with the way you destroyed my marriage. But that's not why I'm angry."

"You're angry?" Jadis cried out. 

"I am," said Sean. "Because of you, Sienna will have to grow up without a mother. She'll never know what it's like to have a mother. She'll never be normal."

"Sean, where are you going with this?" said Jadis.

"You know exactly where I'm going with this," said Sean. "Because you took Sienna's mother away from her, I'm going to take Evolet and Jaden away from you."

Jadis gasped in horror at what she heard. Sean was taking her children away from her, and it was because of her own wounded pride. The news shocked her so much that she said nothing else. Sean took little Evolet and Jaden (along with baby Sienna) and they left London the next day. 

Jadis frowned as she recalled the next few years of her life: she and Mel had 8 children named Christopher, James, Gianna, Grace, Sophia, Amy, Malcolm, and Tyler. They lived in the famous East End, which the Germans bombed during World War II. While she was happy with her life, there wasn't one moment that she wasn't distracted with memories of Sean, Evolet, and Jaden. She recalled the death of Lindsey Matheson and the baby daughter she left behind. So far, no one knew who killed Lindsey. Even if someone knew who did the crime, it was impossible to pinpoint the suspect; the crime happened in public. 

But that didn't mean Jadis didn't feel guilty over the murder.

For years, she had nightmares about seeing Lindsey's face as it turned white and purple as the poison rapidly took over her body. She dreamed that it was HER who had been poisoned. She could have been the one who died and Evolet and Jaden would be forced to grow up without their mother.

Technically, they grew up without having their mother, no thanks to Jadis and her stubborn pride. She received that punishment because of her inability to let Sean go after their relationship fizzled. 

But that's not what the story's about. 

Jadis was reading a magazine article about how Sean helped stop the 9/11 attacks from happening and endorsed a movie that dethroned Harry Potter. Now he had created a news show that poked fun at the daily news; yet he kept his personal life out of the news. She didn't know how her children Evolet and Jaden were doing since she last saw them, and who knew what happened to Sienna after her mother's death.

That was, until she found out about the attempted murder of Sean while he was on a secret mission. 

Now, that she didn't approve of.

She picked up her phone and brought a plane ticket; there were a few things she needed to clear up with Sean.

* * *

Meanwhile, Mobley found himself at the police station. He and the remaining knights had to make phone calls to 27 families, telling them their sons and brothers were dead. It was not a pleasant job, as Mobley hated telling people that someone in their family had died. (Of course, the Knights did that on several occasions.)

As for Jed Hamilton, he was treated for injuries and sent home; he would never forget how Barbara reacted when Milton stood up to her, or when her secrets were exposed. It was like the end of a nightmare and the beginning of a brand-new day. Only that day, his friend Milton was no longer a part of his life, as he was dead.

When the news came that Sean was completely recovered, Mobley went to see him, saying, "Everyone's talking about how you exposed a shocking secret about that girl."

"Oh, I did, didn't I?" said Sean.

"Yes you did," said Mobley. "Not only did Christina report on the bullying ring you uncovered at that high school, but you exposed that girl for who and what she truly was. I thought you weren't going to live."

"But I did," said Sean. He sighed, saying, "OK, who did we lose? I know Barbara shot many of our guys. Who's left?"

"We have Matthew Todd, Aydin Baxter, Philip Cooper, Danny Snyder, Kevin White, and Harold Knight," said Mobley. "Not to mention Eugene O'Neill, Anthony Giles, and Shane Marshall, who are still at headquarters."

"Once again, you forgot to include yourself," said Sean. "Why do you always do that? Have you forgotten you're a knight?"

"Everyone sees me as the funny fat guy. The sidekick. You know what happens to those funny fat guys," said Mobley. 

"Hey, don't call yourself that," said Anthony as he and the others came into the room. "You're far from being fat and you're not exactly funny."

"Yeah, but don't forget about John Belushi and Chris Farley," said Mobley. "Where are they now? Oh yeah, they're DEAD! They're dead because they were the funny fat guys!"

"No, it was drugs that did them in," said Shane. "But you're still safe."

"Not for long if that Barbara Holt has her way," said Sean. "The way I see it, she's like the real-life version of Sheila Baines. Remember, Sheila didn't stop chasing the Teen Rebels until that fight on the Golden Gate Bridge in Episode #93."

"And she fell to her death," said Mobley. "I hope that's not what you want."

"Far from it, actually," said Sean. "In fact, what that girl needs is some help, the kind of help that comes from a prolonged hospital stay. Her parents have enabled her problems and her little sister Alex is getting a wake-up call in finding out that her big sister isn't really that cool. And it was all thanks to me, you guys (including you, Mobley, don't deny it), and the 27 others who gave up their lives to help stop Barbara Holt's reign of terror."

At that moment, the phone rang. It was Logan, and he had something important to tell Sean. "What is it?" said Sean. "Can't you see I'm working here?"

"Sorry," said Logan, "It's just that last night I had a vision..."

"What vision?" said Sean.

"I saw an angel telling me that if we want to stop the Sons of Ebal, we need to have the Nine of Eight," said Logan.

"The Nine of Eight?" said Sean. "Are you serious? What is the Nine of Eight?"

"Who knows?" said Logan. "Anyway, good job on pulling the plug on Barbara Holt. Too bad she killed most of your guys, though."

"I know," said Sean. "She'll pay for that when their families sue her for wrongful death. Remember, the act of killing a disabled person is akin to killing an innocent child. People hate people who kill children..."

"And some people still hate Lindsey for what happened to her older children," said Logan. "What's the point?"

"Everything," said Sean. "I've got a few more hours here and then I'm taking the next plane here. We've allowed ourselves to grow complacent; in our complacency, we allowed evil to sneak in and take over the world. It must never happen again."

"And that's why we need the Nine of Eight," said Logan. "Only with that can we defeat the Sons of Ebal and their allies for good."

"I've noticed," said Sean. "Has anyone discovered your little scheme with Dicky and Andrea yet?"

"Nope," said Logan. "Only I must say Andrea is getting better movie roles than what she had before and Dicky's book publishing business getting off the ground. There is talk of him doing a possible rewrite of the Night Flux Trilogy." 

"Good," said Sean. "About damn time that story was rewritten. I never liked it, not when it was popular. Which it wasn't!"

Just then, a nurse came to the door, saying, "There's a woman here who says she knows you..."

"If it's her, tell her I'm making money right now and I can't be bothered," said Sean. "I'm about to close an important deal..."

"Oh, is that so?" Jadis snarled as she shoved the nurse aside and stormed towards Sean's bed. Sean gasped as he saw Jadis coming towards him; the last time they saw each other, they didn't part on good terms. (But you already saw what happened between them.) It seemed that this time, nothing good was going to come from this meeting.

"Well, Sean, I hate to break it to you, but you are the worst sort of man," she snapped.

"And hello to you too," said Sean, knowing that Logan could overhear the conversation. "Why are you here?"

"I'm here because of you!" Jadis snarled, which had everyone in the room shaking. "You have some serious nerve with your Stale Grapes News and your silly schemes! You made a liar out of me when you denounced the Harry Potter books!"

"Oh, did I do that?" said Sean. "Yay, go me."

"I mean it!" Jadis yelled. "Not only did your cousin make that movie that destroyed Harry Potter, but you incited schools and libraries everywhere to ban the Harry Potter books. You ruined J.K. Rowling’s career, that's what you did."

"Well, excuse her for writing books that promote witchcraft," said Sean. "She needs to find a new topic to write about. Witchcraft is unpopular, no matter who you are. Plus, why are you here, Belinda Jade? shouldn’t you be at home playing housewife to Mel?"

"You think I should forget you and stay home where i can be just a wife and mother?" Jadis yelled. "Not as long as you're alive, I can’t."

"But Sean's lived without you for the past 20 years," said Mobley. "he doesn't need you and you certainly don't need him. Why don't you turn around and walk away?"

"And what's it to you, cousin?" Jadis snarled as she faced Mobley. "As far as I can tell, you were in on it too!"

"OK, what's going on over there?" Logan's voice came over the phone.

"Nothing, except that Belinda Jade Turner decided to darken the halls of my life again," said Sean. "You'd think she forgot about me after 20 years."

"Oh, is that so?" said Logan. "Put her on the phone; I've got something to say to her and I've waited 20 years to say it."

"Is that your cousin Logan I'm hearing on the phone?" Jadis yelled. "Give me that!" She snatched the phone from Sean as Logan began the Tirade of 2002; he called Jadis 25 versions of the word bitch, claimed that her mother Evelyn had slept with an Orc to have her, and also accused her of lying about her role in the murder of Lindsey Matheson Rowes. 

As the tirade continued, Mobley said, "About the Nine of Eight...what’s that?"

"That's where we have to contact Irene," said Sean. "Only her mother knows about the Nine of Eight."

"Why?" said Mobley.

"Because Isabella Crenshaw Ulrich is the Nine of Eight," said Sean.

The Secret Family History

"You were right to come to me," said Isabella Braumlein-Crenshaw as she led Logan and Sean into her apartment in Seattle, Washington. (After Sean's recovery, Sean sent Mobley and the other Knights back to headquarters while he dealt with the task of finding the Nine of Eight.) "I must admit I was nervous when my youngest daughter called me and told me about your situation," said Belle. "Not that I haven't been nervous before, but you know how that goes. Anyway, there's so much I need to tell you, and this family has some secrets that not even Nichollo or I know about."

"If you want to know why we're here, we need to find the Nine of Eight," said Logan.

"Indeed," said Belle as she picked up several large books and papers from a nearby desk, setting them on the dining room table. "And why do you want to know about the Nine of Eight?"

"Because as I hovered between the realms of life and death after that incident in South Carolina, I had a vision telling me to find the Nine of Eight," said Sean. 

"Yeah, because you just had to get involved in that incident involving that crazy chick, didn't you," said Dicky as he and Andrea came into the room.

"Shut up, Dicky," said Andrea. "Sean didn't ask that girl to slap him in the head with a shovel. I'm surprised she wasn't charged with attempted murder in Sean's case."

"Indeed she wasn't," said Sean. "Besides, she thought I was just a news reporter."

"Yeah right," said Dicky.

"OK, can we all just focus on the ask at hand?" said Logan. Everyone glared at him. "It's important that we know everything about the Nine of Eight."

"I see," said Belle as she glared at Sean. "And what makes you want to come here and ask me those kinds of questions?"

"I think you might know who or what the Nine of Eight is," said Sean.

"Well, if you want to know about the Nine of Eight, you must remember your history," said Belle as she opened up one of the large books on the table. She read: "Emaria Kroger, Radmila Reimar, Varvara Isaacson, Milorad Mekonnen, Evgenia Mekonnen, Demian Lukin, Branislav Lukin, and Hadassah Trichenberg were known as the "Infamous Eight", the bastard children of Leopold Trichenberg. Each of them charmed their way into becoming high-ranking members of the Russian Imperial court. Hadassah lived with the Imperial Family, which treated her as their own daughter. Emaria seduced various court members and manipulated them into doing what she wanted. Milorad also wheeled and dealt his way to the top, and he and Leopold often controlled the court..."

"The Infamous Eight?" said Logan. "You're kidding, right? What do they have to do with the Nine of Eight?"

"Everything," said Belle.

"Oh, you mean we have to know who they are?" said Sean.

"Yes you do," said Belle.

"Wait just a minute here," said Dicky. "How much of that is true?"

"Everything in this book is true," said Belle as she turned to face Dicky and Andrea. "It's our family history. Don't tell me you don't know your own family history."

"What if I don't know about my family history because my foster parents were focused on keeping me alive instead of telling me about people I won't meet?" said Dicky.

"There's no excuse for that, Richard Jeremiah Trichenberg!" Belle snapped at him. "Your foster parents were wrong to take you, and your father was wrong to give you away after his second marriage to that gold-digging whore! No one should have to live their lives without knowing who they are; that's not how it's done!"

"What do you mean?" said Logan.

"Your cousin Irene can recite the names of everyone on her mother's side of the family along with the names her father's ancestors, even to the time of Ivan the Second of Russia, and you don't know who your father is?" said Belle. "How shameful. It's time we need a lesson about who we are and the common ancestor we share."

"And what common ancestor do we share?" said Logan.

"You may not know who he is, but his name is familiar to most of you," said Belle as she turned to the next page in the book. "The ancestor you're looking for is Leopold Trichenberg, also known as Leopold Davidovitch Turgenev in Russian."

"Oh my gosh, you mean...him?" said Andrea. "I heard he was a player."

"Really?" said Dicky. "How was he a player?"

"Well, I heard that Leo had way too many girlfriends, and threw wild parties that shocked the czar," said Andrea.

"You're right, Andrea," said Belle. "He was a player."

"What game did our esteemed ancestor play?" said Sean.

"He played the only game that we should know how to play," said Belle. 

"And what game is that?" said Dicky.

Belle let out a huge sigh. "Leo played the game of thrones."

* * * * *

Meanwhile, Jadis and her assistant, Felix Marshall, were sitting at Starbucks (the first Starbucks). They were discussing Jadis' spur-of-the-moment decision to find Sean and scold him for stopping the 9/11 attacks as well as creating the Stale Grapes News and getting rid of Harry Potter before Pottermania happened.

"If you ask me, I say this trip was a waste of time," said Felix as he sipped on his frappuchino. "It's clearly obvious that he's gotten over you. He doesn't need you anymore."

"That's where you're wrong, Felix," said Jadis as she set down her latte. "For the past 20 years, I had to watch as he made fun of everything I liked. I could forgive him for ripping into Sinead O'Connor when she tore up that picture of the pope on Saturday Night Live, but to take one of the greatest children's stories of the 1990s and call it witchcraft isn't only insulting, but the fact he called for the author of the Harry Potter books to be punished for writing those books makes me sick. How could he do something like that? Wait, scratch that. How could he say something like that and get away with it? Is he trying to turn the public against women authors?"

"Who knows?" said Felix.

"And another thing," said Jadis. "How could he give that Harry Potter movie the Dumbest Movie Award when he knows there's no witchcraft in that movie?"

"Maybe it's not just about the witchcraft, per se," said Felix, "but I do believe Sean has a point. If you want to impress the children, figure out what their parents will allow them to read. I'm sure Ms. Rowling will learn from Leslie Harlingson, who wrote that story that promoted homosexuality and caused a national uproar."

"And now we go back to that," said Jadis as she ran a hand down her face. "How many times do we need to tell people that witchcraft and homosexuality are bad, especially when it's in children's stories?"

"I know," said Felix. "There's no loyalty in this world anymore."

Jadis nodded, wondering how and why she saw Sean as her mortal enemy. But it wasn't always this way, she thought as she recalled their days at Agape Christian Academy. They were dating off and on, much to the chagrin of Sean's sisters Shannon, Joanna, and Ariana. Many people expected them to marry when Jadis revealed that she was pregnant with Evolet. Yet the wedding never happened since Sean's father Seamus learned about the pregnancy; he scolded her for trapping his son in an unwanted relationship.

"I know who you are and I know who your ancestors are, Belinda Jade Turner," Seamus yelled when Jadis announced that she was pregnant with Jaden. Sean was holding little Evolet on his lap, looking terrified. "Your ancestors almost destroyed my family. Do you really think I want you as a part of the Trichenberg family?"

"I'm not Selena," said Jadis in turn. "I'm nothing like her!"

"You may not be like Selena, but you came from her brother Phoebus Turner," Seamus said in turn. "I don't know what kind of game you're play with my son, but unless you want me to reveal the truth about the Turner family, you will stay away from Sean."

Jadis shuddered as she woke up from that daydream; that confrontation led to her jealousy over Sean marrying Lindsey Matheson and the woman's eventual murder. Sean was so angry with Jadis due to his wife's death that he took Evolet and Jaden away from her. "Maybe Seamus is right," Jadis said with a sigh. "Maybe I am no better than my great-great-aunt."

"Now, now, don't talk like that," said Felix. "You can still redeem yourself. Just because your ancestors were bad people doesn't mean you have to be like them. In fact, we all have that one person in our family who could be regarded as the worst human being in the world."

"Don't try to make me feel better," said Jadis. "I have done terrible things to other people in the name of jealousy. I allowed a woman to die and forced an innocent child to grow up without a mother. Evolet and Jaden don't know who I am."

"Well, it's not too late for you to start over," said Felix. "But you need to be careful of how you go about it. The people don't care about your family history, so you can forget about that. All you need to do is to give out some interviews and tell the world who you really are."

"You think it's worth a shot?" said Jadis. "All I know is that the minute my story gets out there, the news will rip us apart."

"All we have to worry about is if SEAMUS will rip us apart," said Felix. "The Turners and the Trichenbergs haven't exactly gotten along, and you are the last living member of the Turner family. When you die, there will be no one on earth who carries the Turner family name."

"Thank you for telling me that information in a public place, where someone could potentially spread that rumor," said Jadis as she looked around her. So far, few people noticed them; if they did, they didn't care.

"Well, we have to do something," said Felix as he also looked over his shoulder. Little did they know that someone was watching them. That person had the power to not only bring down Sean Michael Rowes, but destroy Jadis Thristal as well...

* * * * *

"What do you mean Leo Trichenberg played the game of thrones?" Logan cried out as he glared at Belle.

"What's game of thrones?" said Dicky.

"Oh, it's those books by George R.R. Martin," said Andrea. "In those books, he creates characters you like, then he kills them."

"Sounds like something I don't want to read," said Dicky.

"It's far worse than that," said Sean. Everyone stared at him. "First, the books aren't for kids."

"Well, that's unfair," said Logan. Sean glared at him. "For the kids, that is."

"Oh, I've read about the books," said Belle, "and I see the similarity between the books and our lives now. As I was saying, Leo was more like Tyrion Lannister than Ned Stark, especially when it came to him running the country. Yet no one hated him or anything like that. Unless, of course, you were a member of the White Angels."

"OK, that's understandable," said Andrea. "But what about us?"

Belle pointed to a family tree she was working on for several weeks. "Sean, you, Logan, and Dicky share a common ancestor; he was your grandfather, Milorad Mekonnen."

"Milorad Mekonnen?" said Logan.

"Who's he?" said Dicky.

"Well, Milorad was part of the Infamous Eight," said Belle. "He and Leo often controlled the Imperial Court, whether the Czar liked it or not. There were rumors that they controlled the Russian Parliament as well."

"I'm confused," said Sean. "Milorad?"

"That was his Russian name," said Belle. "In your case, Sean, you might remember him as Rory Lesouse-Rowes."

It took Sean a few minutes to process that information. "You mean, Milorad was Grandfather Rory's real name?" he said. "But how?"

"Milorad changed his name after Leo's death to protest against the killing of the Romanov Family and the Communists taking over Russia," said Belle. "Also, he and his sister Evgenia, who you remember as Aunt Jenny, were the longest lived of Leo's children."

"OK," said Andrea. "Where do I come in?"

"Andrea, you're the descendant of Selena Turner through her only surviving child, Johannah Trichenberg," said Belle. "You know who she is, don't you?"

"I can't say I do," said Andrea. "My grandmother doesn't talk about her."

"I wonder why," said Belle. "Could it be that the story about Selena almost destroying David Trichenberg's family and Leo and his cousins killing all the members of the Turner family save for Johannah and her cousin Luna be the reason why Tareza refuses to talk about her family?"

"I wouldn't know, as the Turner family ended up being only daughters," said Andrea. "My grandmother is the last Turner daughter, as my mother uses her father's name."

"Well, that's impressive," said Belle. "I wonder if your mother knows anything about Johannah."

"I'm not sure, as mother doesn't know anything about her," said Andrea. "But if you ask my sister, she might be able to tell you a few things. Why do you need to know about Johannah Trichenberg?"

"And what is the Nine of Eight?" said Logan.

"Remember when I said that Leo had eight children out of wedlock?" said Belle.

"You mean the Infamous Eight?" said Dicky.

"Well, rumor had it that he had fathered a ninth bastard child 24 years after the birth of his youngest bastard, Hadassah," said Belle.

"OK," said Logan. "Where are we going with this?"

"Isn't it obvious?" said Andrea. "Leo was the father of the Infamous Eight; they were Emaria Kroger, Radmila Reimar, Varvara Isaacson, Milorad Mekonnen, Evgenia Mekonnen, Demian Lukin, Branislav Lukin, and Hadassah Trichenberg."

"And what about Belle?" said Dicky. "Where does she fit in?"

"Oh my fricking God!" Sean cried out. "It's obvious where this story is heading. How does Belle know about the Infamous Eight as well as the history of the Trichenberg family? How does she know about Leo Trichenberg?"

"She shouldn't," said Logan. "Not unless…"

"Belle's the Nine of Eight," said Andrea. Everyone stared at her. "What? I'm only telling the truth. Belle was born a few years after Hadassah died. She knows about the Trichenberg family. How could she not be the Nine of Eight?"

"But that doesn't make sense," said Dicky. "How could Belle be a Trichenberg and none of our grandparents knew about it?"

"I met your grandfather when I was 18 years old," said Belle. "Before that, my mother and I lived on the Quileute Reservation. The only reason why I wasn't found until my 18th year was because my mother covered up her affair with Leo and wrote my name as Pomona Braumlein, which was her husband's name. My stepfather was Henrik Braumlein; he never knew who my father was."

"Well, I didn't know that," said Logan. 

"I will admit that my mother tried to take that secret about me to her grave, but I found out who my father was, no thanks to rumors about her that circulated all throughout the city of Forks," said Belle. "But enough about that, as we now have work to do."

"What work?" said Sean.

"We have to find the rest of the family and put an end to the Sons of Ebal," said Belle. "But the task will not be easy and they've been very sloppy so far, seeing as they dared to show their faces at the Olympics and expose themselves to the world. Now as the leaders plan to capture the leaders of this oppressive group, I say we openly declare war on them and anyone who chooses to support them. Are we ready?"

Sean, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea frowned as they sat in their seats. Belle had a plan that would ensure the fate of the world and whether the United States would survive the onslaught that was coming...

Return to Beldensville

"Well, it's a shame we'll have to miss the Beldensville reunion," said Sean as he and the others watched Christina reporting about the TV show cast reunion on the Stale Grapes News. At this time, the Stale Grapes News was gaining popularity because the news show didn't sensationalize celebrity misbehavior and political scandals. Sean smiled, pleased that he was finally turning the hearts and minds of over 5 million Americans back to the true heart of journalism.

Or so, he thought.

"It's not like we can't watch the reunion on TV," said Dicky as the rest of the group sat on the couch. They were still at Isabella's apartment in Seattle, Washington, where they planned to stop the wicked Sons of Ebal from causing trouble for the already unhappy world.

So far, Logan, Dicky, Andrea, and Sean prevented the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, DC. They also broke Harry Potter's stranglehold on the world (with Logan's Father Diego disguise) and caught several agents of the Sons of Ebal before they could cause trouble at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.

Now, the four cousins were going to deal with a group of villains that wanted to not only take over the world, but they wanted to rule over the people and turn the world into a totalitarian state.

"What's Beldensville?" Andrea cried out. As the boys stared at her, she said, "Sorry. I never liked watching TV as a kid and always got in trouble for reading during TV time."

"Well, you're exactly my kind of person," said Sean. "I don't like TV; the last time I watched TV was when I watched MTV during the 1980s. Anyway, what's Beldensville about?"

"Well, Skybolt Film Productions was responsible for that show that caused America to examine their racial bias, if not racism itself," said Logan. "Anyway, the main story centered on the Keller family, who lived on Maple Hills Farm near the small town of Beldensville, Tennessee. The Keller family was down on its luck due to the progression of the 20th century; the town was so dead-set in its old ways that the residents refused to accept any changes, changes that could benefit them.

"Yet when Jethro Keller (the fifth son and seventh child of Abram and Gloria Keller) shows up with his biracial daughter Casey, this throws the entire family in for a loop. Not only that, but he's forced to answer to the community for fathering a child out of wedlock with an African-American woman."

"OK, where are we going with this?" said Dicky.

"Back then, it was regarded as a social taboo to have a child out of wedlock," said Logan, "but to hook up with a black woman was seen as rape, even if she gave consent. I'm sure Zarela Sanders didn't have a choice, seeing as she was mentally retarded and didn't have her family around to help and protect her from terrible men like Jethro Keller. After a trial, Jethro is banished from the town and the Kellers agree to raise Casey after Zarela's family rejects her."

"And what happened?" said Andrea.

"Casey Keller's arrival throws a huge wrench into the family, as they're forced to deal with long held stereotypes and change their opinions about African-Americans," said Logan. "The rest of the community also had to deal with taking care of Casey and reexamine their own relationships with their families and other people."

"So that's what the show was about," said Sean. "The city of Beldensville needed to deal with their own racial bias along with their declining community."

"Now you know why I referenced the show a lot on the Teen Rebels," said Logan. "My character, Jamie Hailama, is a huge fan of the show. He tries to get Josie, Seth, Moira, and Trixie to watch the show with him on Thursdays."

"And what episode do the Rebels meet Jamie?" said Andrea.

"Episode 10, towards the end when they ditch the Leap Year dance and bump into him," said Logan. "Two episodes later, he joins the group."

"And that's how you came up with the story about the Teen Rebels?" said Dicky.

"Indeed," said Logan. "It's a shame that the same studio that produced a great TV show like Beldensville was also responsible for that piece of shit movie known as The Spirit Keeper. It's like we don't know what happened to Skybolt Films."

"Between the ending of Beldensville and filming The Spirit Keeper, something went terribly wrong," said Andrea. "We'll be taking care of that after we deal with bin Laden and his cronies."

"And everything reverts to him," said Sean. "I personally want to punch that guy in the face. I mean, it was already bad enough that Logan and I barely escaped with our lives when bin Laden attacked the Twin Towers back in 1993, but what he tried to do a few months ago takes the cake. Never have I met a man who decided to make a career out of attacking people in the name of terrorism."

"Yeah, stupid jerk," said Logan. "I want to slap him so hard his ancestors would be ashamed of him."

"I assure you, it's going to happen," said Dicky. "No one should be allowed to inflict unnecessary pain on other people and live."

"Now, guys, let's not sink to his level," said Andrea.

"Why not?" said Dicky.

"We can't become the people we're hunting," said Andrea. "Besides, there's more to us than stopping terrorism and taking down bad guys."

"Fair enough," said Logan. "Now let's watch some TV; we can leave the plotting for tomorrow."

"Good idea," said Sean. "I would like to forget about terrorism and go back to a time when everything was almost right with America."

The others agreed and switched to the reunion special. Logan had no idea that one of his house guests was connected to the show in a surprising way...

*-*-*-*-*-*

"So let me get this straight: YOU were Casey Keller?" Deirdre cried out as the party commenced.

"Well," said Karema as she stared down at the floor. "It wasn't really for me to say..."

"You were the star of a popular TV show and you never told me?" said Derrick. "Who are you?"

"That's why I never told anyone," said Karema. "You know how they would have reacted knowing that I was once on TV."

"Yeah," said Derrick. "James Martin is a pig."

"At least he's nothing like Arthur Erickson," said Karema. "You both know the crap he tried to pull when he invested that money into that film studio. That studio lost the money when they made that one movie that insulted White people. That was the nail in his coffin. Arthur and his father could never recoup their loses; their film studio went bankrupt."

"Oh, I remember that," said Deirdre. "Although Black Pride Films had low quality movies and TV shows, what they threw out wasn't that bad. But their first feature-length film was unbearable to watch."

"Also, "The Emerald Magic" ruined all chances of many other movies getting off the ground," said Derrick. "Plus, many people who watched that movie were horrified to see so much darkness in a children's movie."

"Yeah, about that," said Deirdre, but before she could continue, the show began. Many people in the United States tuned in to see the show that almost destroyed stereotypes about African Americans and reinforced traditional Christian values. And of course, the event was covered by the Stale Grapes News.

Back in Washington, Jadis frowned as she watched the reunion story, as Beldensville began in 1984 and ended in 1992. Jadis had never watched the show, but some of her friends did. Some of them didn't give the show great reviews, especially when one of them saw Sean guest starring on that show as Cousin Lucifer "Lucky" Keller.

"Guess you were too good for me; yet, the guys in Hollywood decided to put you on the small screen and leave me on the side of the road," Jadis seethed as she watched the show.

Yet she knew it was her fault that Sean switched to the Hollywood scene after his marriage ended. Plus, the fact that Jadis had a hand in his wife's death didn't make her popular with the celebrities either.

"I can't say that they're saying positive things about you," said Felix as he poured them some tea. "Not if they expected Lindsey to play Sean's wife on the show. Needless to say, they had to change Sean's character from a responsible young man into a hard core rock star who refused to settle down and get married. At least until the middle of the third season, of course."

"Don't rub it in, Felix," said Jadis. "Everyone already knows about Sean's evil ex-girlfriend, which I'm not."

"Well, you've been blamed for the murder of Lindsey Matheson and partly responsible for the death of Marvin Brummett, so people are immediately going to assume that Sean has an evil ex-girlfriend who won't let him date or get married to anyone but her," said Felix. "And I bet that 99% of those people want you behind bars or in a mental hospital for that matter."

"Oh, so they're still calling me the evil ex-girlfriend?" Jadis snapped in anger. "I'll show them!"

Yet, she should have known that she was being watched. Especially

if the person watching her didn't like her to begin with.

But we'll leave that for another chapter.

*-*-*-*-*

We now go back to Deirdre, Karema, and Derrick as they're still talking about Karema's stint on the TV show Beldensville.

Mainly about why she hid the story about her involvement with the show.

"Well, you of all people should know why I kept this a secret," said Karema.

"Why would you keep something like that a secret?" said Deirdre.

"Firstly, the place where Derrick and I once lived frowned upon any interactions with White people," said Karema.

"Well, I think that's racist," said Deirdre. "The people who run the orphanage are insane."

"We've noticed," said Karema. "Anyway, I made sure no one there knew that I was Casey Keller. If anyone knew and told the head honcho, the repercussions might have been awful."

"Such as either the paparazzi would have the place surrounded or Karema would have been kicked out," said Derrick. "She wasn't about to take that risk."

"Also, we were forced to work for Black Pride Entertainment," said Karema. "They were particular about what we could or couldn't do, from what we watched on TV to who we were allowed to hang out with."

"Wow, what a messed up world you guys lived in," said Deirdre. "No wonder why you left."

"I'm glad I left, if but to do something for Connie," said Derrick. "They would have forced me to send her to a mental hospital had I not left."

"Ok, let's leave that for later, as the party's about to begin," said Karema. "Plus, Barbara Walters wants to interview me for her special. I also have to go on the talk show tour with the rest of the cast next week. I might be gone for two weeks."

"Let me guess: you need me to watch the kids?" said Derrick. Karema and Deirdre stared at him. "That's all I'm ever good for, isn't it? Babysitting?"

"Not really," said Deirdre. "In fact, I've got some projects you can help me with. Also, Margaret is old enough to look after the kids for a few hours. They'll be fine."

"Good," said Karema. "I don't know why, but it feels like a homecoming. I know everyone back in the orphanage is watching this and thinking to themselves oh crap, it's a white trash convention, but to me, it's a great big family reunion. Not even the casts of Gangstown High and Mr. Joltyton were as popular as the cast of Beldensville, and that's some of the few good shows produced by Black Pride Entertainment."

"I hear that channel's currently on the auction block," said William as he approached the group. "Should we do something about that?"

"Not yet," said Deirdre. "Remember, we're still acquiring Shropspear Entertainment and Logan wants to sell his shares in Skybolt Films. Let's not do anything important until Logan gets back."

"Agreed," said William. "Shall I inform the others that you wish to buy some shares in Oystertainment?"

"Only if we can buy the Stale Grapes News," said Deirdre. "Sean's just too good for that sinful company."

"I'll get right on it," said William as he left the group.

"Well, I don't know about you guys, but I know that the time has come for us to control what we expose ourselves to," said Deirdre. "The motto for Moviemagic Films is we're taking over the world, one movie at a time!"

"What about television?" said Derrick. "Shouldn't you try to take over TV as well?"

"Maybe," said Deirdre. "For too long, cartoons ruled the lives of us and our children. But no more. We need to break that stranglehold on America's children and introduce quality TV shows that's safe for them to watch."

"At 8:00 A.M.," said Karema.

"But before we do that, let's make sure we know what we're up against," said Deirdre. "We already said that Disney-made cartoons were bad, but how do we make kids not want to watch TV?"

As the quickly-forming Moviewatching Trio plotted to take on Saturday morning cartoons, Logan and the others were talking about a completely different issue. That issue was about how to form the group that Belle had spoken to them about in the last chapter.

"I don't know if that could be done," said Dicky. The others stared at him. "I mean, we could form the group, but should we?"

"We should," said Andrea.

"Why?" said Dicky.

"Because only eight people can stop the Sons of Ebal," said Sean. "For years, I and my group managed to stop them from committing various crimes against humanity, from saving Rachel Grant to stopping the bombing of the Alfred P. Murray building and warning people against living life that doesn't glorify nature and God. We've been through it all. But I still wonder why we couldn't stand up to a teenaged girl who caused nothing but trouble for us and killed people because she couldn't get what she wanted."

"Maybe the time for the Knights is over," said Belle as she came into the room. She looked at everyone and said, "Your roles in the creation of this elite group is simple: they will be known by the number on their right hand."

"Wait a minute," said Logan. "What number?"

"You, Dicky, and Andrea each have a number on the palm of your right hand," said Belle as she stared at their hands. Dicky had the number one while Logan had number two. Andrea, however, had the number four.

"What does this mean?" she said.

"It means we're a lot closer to forming the group than we think," said Sean. "If we can find the other five, we'll be ready to challenge those jerks and take back the world for humanity."

"We could, but should we?" said Dicky.

"We should," said Belle. "If only to save humanity from itself. Remember this: things are unraveling faster than people can rebuild their lives. We need to stop evil before it gets a chance to take hold on this country. If we can stop them here, they will die."