||Where's My %$@#*&@ Hairbrush!!?: Chapter 1
Tron huffed as she was put through her paces.
The exercise machine, one she'd invented, was designed to work both upper
and lower body at an equal rate with a minimum of physical exhaustion. Her
brother Teisel had sworn he'd seen a machine of the like before, so Tron,
under protest, had named the machine a "Cross-Trainer," although she was
sure her machine gave a much more complete and effective workout.
That particular thought was only fleeting, however, as were several others
that flitted through the sixteen-year-old girl's head during the last, agonizing
moments of her exercise program. The computerized timer on the machine beeped,
and Tron eagerly removed her feet from the stirrups and hopped onto the
flat, hard carpet of the training room floor. She toweled off her forehead
and neck, dodging past Number Eighteen, who was methodically attempting
several lifting exercises with a pair of five-pound dumbbells, Number Twenty-Nine,
who was about to be forcefully swept off a treadmill which was moving at
an unreasonably fast rate, and a trio of Servbots who were aerobically dancing
to one of those sugary pop bands that so dominated the airwaves. Tron groaned
and shook her head as she hopped into the lift, which smoothly carried her
up to the next floor of the Gesellschaft VII.
Once in her quarters, Tron disrobed and dutifully showered, leaving the
door to her room slightly open as to allow a short vent for the steam. Still,
as she cut off the water flow and exited the shower, she noticed that the
mirror had still fogged up so much as to be unusuable. She wiped off the
excess with a bath towel, which she then wrapped around herself. Reaching
into the cabinets below the sink, Tron grunted as she struggled with perhaps
the most important item in her keeping. Someone who had heard of the famous
sky pirate Tron Bonne, perhaps even a passing acquaintance (of those there
were few), would likely assume that her most treasured possession might
include a particularly powerful weapon, an nearly worn-out wrench, knotted
and notched with years of heavy use, or perhaps a beautifully-colored, and,
of course, large, refractor. All of those guesses would have been wrong.
No, Tron Bonne's most valued possession was a five-gallon tub of Headstrong
Harold's Heavy Hold Hair Gel. Tron winked playfully at Headstrong Harold's
portrait on the side of the bucket as she peeled off the lid---the hair-care
mogul sported a toothy grin, an stalwartly unmovable three-foot tall pompadour
hairstyle, and shot the user a confident thumbs-up gesture. After gathering
a liberal amount of the substance in her cupped hands, Tron began smearing
the gel through her dark brown hair, inundating every single strand with
the product. When her task was finished, Tron rinsed the remaining gel off
her hands, then reached just to the left of the sink, where her prized pink
Tron's grasp came up empty. Grimacing slightly, she felt around the area
where her brush should have been, and after again failing to find the item,
actually engaged her eyes in the search. "Huh?" she asked shortly, unable
to find the brush with her vision as well. Tron then began methodically
and haphazardly ripping open the drawers and cabinets in the bathroom, but
to no avail.
Several things were happening around the ship at this particular moment.
Teisel, along with Servbots Two and Thirty-Seven, was holding a planning
meeting in, as one might expect, the Meeting Room. Upon hearing an ear-piercing
scream, a startled Number Thirty-Seven jumped, knocking over Teisel's hot
coffee. Fortunately, no injuries were sustained in the incident, as both
Teisel and Number Two dodged deftly out of the way, and the mess was cleaned
up in a relatively short amount of time. Others around the Gesellschaft
were not nearly so lucky. Back in the Training Room, Number Eighteen, who
was going for the bench-press record (for a Servbot) of twenty-five pounds,
lost control of his weights, which then knocked over Numbers Nine and Twelve
and caused a large dent in the newly-painted wall. Number Twenty-Six spilled
his latest batch of curry rice all over Twenty-One in the kitchen upon hearing
the earth-shattering cry, and poor Bon Bonne tripped while walking down
an adjacent hallway and nearly fell out an emergency exit. It took eight
Servbots to pull him back in.
"Where is it!!?" Tron demanded, bursting out of the bathroom and into her
The Servbots looked at her with varying degrees of confusion. "Where is
what, Miss Tron?" asked Number Seventeen.
"What did you lose?" Forty asked.
"Um, Miss Tron, do you realize you're wearing nothing but a towel?.." said
Number Thirty-Six, who blushed, then returned to his piano-playing.
"I know that! That's not important right now!" Tron eyes narrowed as she
stared down each of the Servbots in her room. "Where is it? Where's my %$@#*&@
hairbrush!? I don't have much time before my hair gel dries!"
"We don't know!" the Servbots cried in unison.
"Ooooh!" Tron grunted, looking at the drooping, limp hair of her reflection
in the mirror over her dresser. "Maybe I can work this out in time..." She
tried several different motions with her fingers, trying to work the tangled
mess into her familiar hairstyle. No luck, as when she was finished, Tron's
head possessed two "horns" of hair pointing out at a 135-degree angle, a
puffed-up bushel of brown curls on the right, while the left side of Tron's
head remained flat and droopy, almost as if she hadn't given it any attention
at all, which may indeed have been the case. "This is horrible!" Tron wailed,
trying to stop the burgeoning tears from leaking out of her eyes.
The young pirate slammed her fists down violently on the dresser, nearly
shaking her towel loose. She wrapped it more tightly around her, looking
accusingly at the Servbots. "We'd better find that brush fast! Do you know
how much maintenance a hairstyle like mine requires?!"
"Ummm...," said Number Forty, the most naive of all his brothers, offering
a response when clearly none had been asked for.
"A lot, that's how much!" Tron yelled. "If my hairbrush doesn't show up
soon, I'm gonna have to punish you all!!" The three Servbots shivered. It
was at this instant that Number Eighteen returned from his workout.
"Oh, hello, Miss Tron," he said guilelessly. "Are you trying out a new hairdo?"
Another scream rattled the frame of the Gesellschaft, albeit with slightly
less force than had the earlier one. Several kicked objects and tossed Servbots
later, Tron recovered some of her composure, though there was no doubt she
was still consumed with rage. "I'm sorry about all this," Tron said tersely,
eyes narrowed as she sat on the edge of her bed, massaging her left foot,
which was sore from so much kicking, "but I'm sure you all can understand
how important my hairbrush is to me." "Uh, Miss Tron?" asked Number Eighteen,
whose head, arms, and torso were dangling helplessly off the side of the
bed, "I think I might know where your hairbrush went."
"Where?" Tron demanded, recalling that she had never actually asked Eighteen
where it was.
Number Eighteen waved his arm. "I think I saw Number Twenty-Eight run off
with it, ma'am, but I don't know where he went."
"Number Twenty-Eight!" Tron said, leaping off the bed and striking a heroic
pose. "He usually hangs out in Teisel's room, right?" Without waiting for
a response, she dashed out into the hall and stormed into her brother's
quarters. "Where's Number Twenty-Eight?!" Tron demanded the second the door
"Hm?" Teisel, who by this point had finished his earlier strategy meeting
and had returned to his chambers, spun around, eyes wide with shock at seeing
his sister. "I say, Tron! Parading around in such a state! I can only imagine
what our loving late mother would have said if she'd seen you walking around
the family home wearing nothing but a towel! What if we'd had guests visiting?
What if I'd called Glyde or Claymore over to discuss business---"
"Glyde? He wouldn't know what to do with me if---that's not what I came
to talk about. Is Number Twenty-Eight in here? I think he ran off with my
hairbrush---although he'll wish he hadn't before long!" Tron angrily surveyed
the room. "Where could he be?!"
"I'm sorry, Tron," said Teisel, "but I just got back and he wasn't here
when I came in. I really don't know where he is. Is it that big of a deal?
You can borrow my brush and comb if you want..."
"Ewwwwwww! Your brush! That's disgusting!" With that, Tron headed back to
her own quarters, because, despite her rejection of Teisel's prudery, she
truly did not relish the idea of wearing nothing but a towel for the rest
of the day. After quickly changing into casual shorts and a loose T-shirt,
Tron pounded her way up to the bridge.
"Attention, everyone!" Tron hollered into the microphone as she addressed
the entire ship on loudspeaker. "If anybody's seen my pink hairbrush, I
want you to bring it up here at once!" After thinking for a couple of moments,
Tron re-initiated the PA system and added, "Also, if you see Number Twenty-Eight,
tell him he'd better hope I don't find him!" She stomped around aimlessly
for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was only about ninety seconds.
Impatiently, Tron threw her hands up in the air and screamed. "I've had
it!! I can't wait anymore!" Tearing down the stairway leading from the bridge
to the Residence Deck, Tron began questioning every passing Servbot she
could lay her hands on.
After a dozen variations on "I don't know where he is, Miss Tron!", the
young pirate finally struck gold with Servbot Number Three, on one of his
daily "constitutionals," who admitted he may have seen Twenty-Eight leaving
the Gesellschaft and heading into town, although it might have been Thirty-Nine,
as those two Servbots looked so much alike as to be all but identical.
"Aha!" Tron shouted, and raced out the ship's exit and down the gangplank
which led to Quarrwump Island. Aside from having one of the most unusual
names in the Western Hemisphere, Quarrwump Island was also one of the biggest
landmasses in said Hemisphere. In fact, it was the only island for thousands
of miles around that boasted three (that's right, three!) cities. The Bonnes
were currently docked at the southern landing pad of Lannrump, the smallest
of the three, so as to avoid any complications due to their notoriety. Fortunately,
so far, no one had recognized the Gesellschaft VII, which was strange to
Tron, as she had expected to have to lift off practically immediately after
Of course, the good thing about larger islands were that they tended to
have plenty of large ruins. The bad thing was that there were also plenty
of people, and therefore, plenty of Diggers to explore those ruins. Teisel
had been studying his charts for days to find an overlooked or perhaps overly
dangerous ruin that had not been touched by the locals. Tron hadn't worried
too much about strategy; once Teisel found a good set of ruins to explore,
she'd Dig there.
Tron tried to hug the shadows as she exited the airstrip and walked into
the beginnings of the marketplace. Items of almost every kind were sold
here, from the junk shops to the jewelery stores. Of course, Tron was here
for a singular purpose, and had no business eyeing the wares in the stores
right now. "Excuse me," she asked a passerby, trying to make her voice as
sugary polite as possible, "have you seen a little yellow guy in blue clothes
around here recently?"
"Why, no," the man said, barely looking Tron's way. He dodged past her and
continued rudely on his way. Shrugging, Tron continued to question the people
walking through the shopping arcade. A couple of bystanders thought they
had seen Number Twenty-Eight, and a few were sure they had at some point,
but most definitely hadn't or couldn't recall. With each new person, Tron
had to try harder and harder to maintain her polite facade. After about
thirty, she was practically shouting her questions, which tended to make
the respondent quite irritable.
"Hey! You seen a blue-and-yellow kid running around here? I know you have!
You'd better tell me, or else!"
The strait-laced man in the derby hat looked sternly at her. "...or else
what? You'll style my hair for me?" He grunted and walked past Tron, pointedly
Tron howled in frustration, continuing her questioning of the townspeople.
She had repeated her query several times when, unfortunately, Tron forcibly
spun around a familiar face, one she was quite dismayed to see. "Hey! I
know a blue-and-yellow kid was somewhere around here earlier! Do you know
He wasn't wearing his usual blue armor, which was probably why Tron hadn't
recognized him at first, but once she'd seen the lazily pointed brown hair
and shockingly green eyes, she knew. Trembling, Tron looked up (Up? Had
he gotten taller?) into those verdant orbs, trapped by their gaze.
"I'm sorry?" MegaMan asked in a gruff tone of voice (He WAS taller! And
his voice had gotten a bit deeper, too!). "Do you need some help?" Part
of the reason for his mumbly tone was that his cute little mouth was stuffed
full of shisu. His right hand held the chopsticks poised over the platter
that was cradled in his left. MegaMan chewed the rest of the food in his
mouth and swallowed it down. "Is everything okay?"
Tron's eyes were wider than the Gesellschaft's transmitter dish. "I...uh,
I wanted to know...um, have, you, ummm, I, uhh...." She trembled with unrequited
"What is it?" MegaMan asked politely. After another few moments of awkward
silence, the boy's eyes began to narrow. "Wait a minute. Tron, is that you?"
Nervous, flustered, and confused, Tron came up with the best answer she
was able to. "Ummmm...no?"
"It is you!" he exclaimed. "Wow, I didn't even recognize you at first, what
with that horrible..., I mean, interesting hairdo! What's going on?"
Tears bursting out of her eyes, Tron yelled, "Oh, I can't believe you saw
me like this!" Then she shoved the young Digger backwards and sped off to
the opposite end of the market.
In her haste, Tron failed to notice MegaMan joining his family at the table.
"What was that all about, MegaMan?" Roll asked him.
"Umm, nothing," he answered, resuming his meal. "Boy, this shisu sure is
good. The fish tastes really fresh, and the rice is just the right texture..."
Barrel cackled gleefully, putting a thoughtful hand on his chin. "You can't
be too surprised, boy! When I was your age, I used to have strange young
ladies approach me all the time, too! Enjoy it while you can, MegaMan!"
The veteran Digger was so lost in his thoughts he failed to see the nasty
look his granddaughter shot in his direction.
Tron, meanwhile, had eventually run around a corner, leaning against a brick
wall. "Aw, man," she moaned, huffing with exertion, "I can't believe he
saw me like that!"
Tron perked up as she recognized the high-pitched voice. "Number Twenty-Eight!"
Tron wiped the residual tears out of her eyes, and stared pointedly at the
errant Servbot. "Where have you been? And what did you do with my hairbrush?!"
Number Twenty-Eight looked at his feet. "I'm really sorry, Miss Tron, but
I had to take your brush."
"And why's that!?!"
Twenty-Eight knelt, and Tron heard a mewling cry. "Well, Miss Tron, this
stray kitty was sooo cute, I couldn't just let it go on without its hair
brushed." With that, Number Twenty-Eight produced Tron's prized pink hairbrush
from his pocket and began grooming a small calico kitten.
Tron's hard heart melted. "Ohhhh, Number Twenty-Eight, that's the cutest
thing I've ever heard!!!" Tron hefted the Servbot up and hugged it tightly
to her chest.
"Glack!" Twenty-Eight exclaimed, wriggling in his mistress's grip. "Miss
Tron stiffened. "Wait a minute! You used my hairbrush on an animal! I can
never use it again! And now I have to buy a new one! And MegaMan saw me
with my hair like this! Ohhh, you're gonna get it when we get back to the
"Oh, no!" Number Twenty-Eight lamented, cringing in Tron's grasp.