Season 4, Episode 1: Invasion of the Soil Snatchers

A fanfic by Katie


“You’re going away?!” Carl and Sheen asked simultaneously, jaws dropping.

            Jimmy Neutron leaned back in his booth at the Candy Bar. “Hey guys, calm down, it will just be for a couple of weeks,” he said soothingly. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

            Sheen’s hands flew to the sides of his head and his eyes bugged out in different directions. “A couple of weeks?!” He made as if he was going to faint. “We’ll never survive that long! We’re goners! Goodbye, cruel world! Send Ultralady my love - ”

            “Now, hold on, Sheen,” Jimmy interrupted, reaching into his pocket. He took out two metallic watches and set one in front of each boy. “Here,” he said smugly, “These should calm you two down.”

            Sheen miraculously regained life and snatched a watch off the table. “Oooh, metal-y!” He eyed Jimmy hopefully. “Is it candy?”

            “Uh, Jim?” Carl asked, poking at the watch in front of him. “My mom says I can’t have laser watches. Or watches with scanners, or satellites, or anything that’s been in contact with cats.”

            Jimmy rolled his eyes. “Don’t worry, Carl, these watches are perfectly harmless. They are purely communicating devices, so that we can all stay in touch while I’m at NASA.”

            Carl and Sheen’s faces were filled with a sudden understanding that lasted for approximately four seconds. “Wait, NASA?” Sheen asked, eyes narrowing suspiciously. “Do you mean to tell me you are consorting with the evil Robofiend corporation, ‘Nasty Annoying Space Adversaries’?” He gasped, scooting back in the booth as far from Jimmy as he could get. “A traitor!” Sheen shouted with wide eyes, pointing a shaking finger in Jimmy’s direction. “Carl, there is a traitor among us!”

            “Sheen, relax!” Jimmy said, attempting to quiet his friend before the entirety of the Candy Bar was staring at them. “I meant NASA as in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.”

            “Yeah, Sheen,” Carl said, jabbing a pudgy finger at the taller boy. “Everyone knows that NASA stands for National Acrobatic…Spelling…”

            Jimmy interrupted as Carl fumbled for the last part of the acronym. “NASA has invited me to their Jet Propulsion Laboratory out in California. They want me to give my professional input on the accelerated propulsion systems for their new space probe. Mom’s coming along to help me get around the city, and Dad is coming in hopes that he might spot a Green Winged Teal.”

            “California, eh, Neutron?” A voice said from behind.

            Jimmy spun around to see Cindy Vortex and her best friend, Libby Folfax, approaching them at a rather angry pace. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Sheen slicking down his hair.

            “And just when were you planning on telling me about this?” The green-eyed girl asked, placing her hands on her hips.

            Jimmy’s eyes flitted back and forth for a moment. “Just about…now?”

            Cindy growled. “Neutron!”

            Jimmy frowned, suddenly on the defense. “Well, I didn’t find out about it until yesterday!” He said, hopping up out of the booth and accidentally knocking into Libby, who was waving at Sheen. Sheen, in turn, was grinning like a fool. “And besides, I wasn’t aware I had to check my schedule with you, Vortex.”

            Cindy’s eyes darkened. “Since we had been intending on going to the museum together this weekend, I sort of thought you would at least clue me in on this sudden change of plans.”

            Jimmy had the good sense to look momentarily ashamed, and Carl squirmed excitedly in his seat. “Oooh,” the hefty boy said, gleefully pointing a finger at the arguing pair. “Jimmy and Cindy are going on a daaate.”

            Jimmy crossed his arms angrily, backing away from the blonde girl. “Were not!” he said, trying to talk over Libby’s sudden burst of giggles. “It was going to be a simple intellectual outing.”

            Cindy stamped her foot. “Key word there: WAS. Clearly, it has since been CANCELLED.”

            Jimmy looked a bit crestfallen. “Well uh, we could reschedule for when I come back – ”

            “Puh!” Cindy said, turning to leave and motioning for Libby to follow her out of the Candy Bar. “I don’t know, Nerdtron, I’ll have to see if I can squeeze you into my SCHEDULE.” Cindy’s eyes narrowed in anger as she snatched her best friend’s wrist out of the air, while it was still in mid-girly-wave. “Libby! Will you stop ogling Ultradork for ten seconds, and show some support?” She dragged her friend back out the door they had just come in minutes earlier, leaving a bewildered Jimmy, a dreamy-faced Sheen, and a giggling Carl in their wake.

* * * * *

            “Hey Jim-Jam, time to get in the car, son!”

            Jimmy glanced over his shoulder at his parents: his mom was stuffing all the heavy suitcases in the trunk while his dad was carefully buckling up a steaming pie into a car seat. The boy genius turned back to face his two friends.

            “Okay, so remember what I said about the watches: blue button to talk, red to listen. Think of them as long-range walkie-talkies.”

            Sheen and Carl nodded excitedly, snapping the watches onto their wrists.

            Jimmy started heading towards the family car. “Just give me a call if anything goes wrong!” He hopped into the backseat, Goddard leaping in after him. Mrs. Neutron started up the car. “Oh!” Jimmy shouted, rolling down the window as they were leaving the driveway. “And don’t let the girls into my lab!”

            Sheen threw him a mock salute. “You can count on us, Captain!”

            Carl waved furiously. “Goodbye, Judy!” he called out, wiping tears from his eyes. “Don’t forget to write!” He turned to face Sheen, and after a few moments silence, asked, “So, um, what do we do now?”

            Sheen smacked him on the shoulder. “Aw, come on, Carl, I am sure there are LOADS of things we can do without Jimmy around.” Sheen clapped his hands together and grinned. “Let’s go get some of my Ultralord action figures and rage war in Jimmy’s backyard.”

* * * * *

            Libby watched her best friend as her face became more and more plastered to her window, trying to catch the last sight of the Neutron’s car disappearing out of town. Finally, Libby grabbed Cindy by the shoulders and peeled her face back, which was now semi-distorted from the window pane.

            “Girl, you got problems,” she said, as Cindy scrunched up her nose, trying to mush her features back to normal.

            “He didn’t even say goodbye!” Cindy exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air. “Libby, what is wrong with him? Why don’t boys behave like normal people?”

            Libby shrugged. “You have to admit, life would be a lot less interesting if they did.”

            Cindy rolled her eyes. “Right. I forgot I was talking to Mrs. Ultrafreak.” She sighed, sitting down on her bed. “I just don’t understand him, Libby. One minute he is the sweetest guy around, and the next he blows me off for NASA! I mean, honestly, who does he think he is?”

            Libby sat down next to her friend, a knowing smile on her face. “It’s all right, Cin’. I know you’ll miss him the next couple of weeks. I’m sure they will go by pretty fast, don’t you worry. And I’ll be here to help you get through them.”

            Cindy began to smile in gratitude, then shook her head violently and leapt to her feet. “Miss him?!” she asked, laughing loudly. “Psh, I’m glad to be rid of him! These two weeks will be like paradise, believe me!”

* * * * *

            Cindy poked cautiously at the mystery meat on her lunch tray, and slowly scooted away from Carl, who was wolfing down his protein substitute like there was no tomorrow. “Libby,” she growled, looking up at her best friend. “Remind me again why exactly we have to eat lunch with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber?”

            Libby sighed as an Ultralord action figure sailed into her mashed potatoes. “I told you, Cin’, Jimmy made me promise to keep an eye on these two for him while he was gone. He knows Sheen will at least try to listen to me.”

            Sheen leaned in close and waggled his eyebrows. “I’ll try and listen to you until the end of my days, Libs.” He paused, considering. “Or until Ultralord gets cancelled, at which point you would have to excuse me as I run away to the countryside and take up the life of a quiet yet eccentric sweet potato farmer. You can come visit every other Sunday, though.”

            Cindy pushed away her lunch tray and put her head in her hands. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”

            Carl nodded sympathetically, looking up from his dirt-colored food. “Oh, I know, girlfriend. Believe me, I have to deal with this every day.” He slurped his Purple Flurp loudly and belched, rattling Cindy’s lunch off the table to land on her shoes.

            “Gah!” she screamed, hopping up and grabbing a pile of napkins. “I am sick and tired of dealing with you freaks!”

            “Freaks?” Sheen said, getting defensive. “Who’s the one covered in her own lunch? Eh? EH?”

            Cindy shrieked, throwing the sopping napkins she had been cleaning herself up with at Sheen, who ducked just in time.

            Sheen’s eyes bugged out momentarily. He then leaned across the table to Carl, covering his mouth with his hand. “Man, I wish Jimmy were here so she could just get angry at him, and ignore us like she usually does.”

            Carl nodded in agreement. “Yeah, she is a lot nicer when she acts like we don’t exist.”

            Cindy clenched her fists. “I heard that!”

            “Guys, guys!” Libby stood up, holding her hands in front of her. “Come on, now! Jimmy has only been gone two days, and we’re already at each other’s throats.”

            Sheen pointed at Cindy. “She started it.”

            Cindy stuck her tongue out at Sheen, then glowered at Carl, who was trying to hide behind the table.

            Sheen sighed dramatically. “Let’s face it: we’re nothing without Jimmy!”

            Carl nodded, resurfacing. “I do miss him.”

            Cindy rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. I can’t believe you guys can’t go two days without getting all wishy-washy about Nerdtron.”

            Libby snorted. “Oh, like you haven’t been sneaking peeks every five minutes at the picture of Jimmy you keep in your locker.”

            The blonde girl shot her friend a murderous look.

            Suddenly, there was a large CRASH and the ground shook beneath the school. The kids stumbled to stay on their feet, holding onto one another until the floor stopped moving.

            “What in the name of Ultralord was that?” Sheen asked, running over to the window. He gasped. “Guys! GUYS!” Sheen shouted, hopping up and down. “Check it out!”

            The rest of the fifth graders made their way over to the cafeteria windows.

            “Wha – what is it?” Butch asked, staring.

            Nick cocked his head to one side, clearly at a loss. “I don’t know, dude.”

            Outside the cafeteria, smack-dab in the middle of the playground, sat a bizarre looking spaceship. The front of it had huge jaws, like a piece of construction equipment, while the back half held massive jets. There was a whoosh of air, and a gangplank descended from the middle of the ship, dust billowing outwards across the playground.

            Carl let out a very high pitched scream and threw his arms in front of his face. “No! I’m too young to be eaten!”

            Libby shot him an exasperated look and scooted past him towards the window. “Cindy, who or what is that?” she asked, staring intently.

            Cindy did not have an answer for her. Outside of the school, heading down the gangplank was a  strange creature: pale, balding and carrying a large green shovel. He had an elongated snout with a triangular head, and beady little eyes that were shaded by a neon purple visor. He wore a peculiar coat, silken and silver, with a glowing green insignia on the left side.

            “Okay, troops! All clear!” the alien man shouted back up towards his ship. Several more aliens, all much burlier than the first, marched down the gangplank. Their coats were brown and their visors blue, and they each carried some variety of digging gear.

            “Cindy?” Carl asked, tugging on her shirt. “What do we do now?”

            She turned to face her friends, surprised. “I don’t know! Why are you asking me?”

            Three sets up panicked eyes stared at her. Cindy stared back, completely floored. “You guys want me to do something about this?”

            Libby shuffled awkwardly. “Well, Jimmy’s not here…”

            “And you did help out when that asteroid was coming, sort of…” Carl continued for her.

            “Yeah, and when Jimmy’s Junior Nobel Prize project went all bonkers…” Sheen added.

            “And when Jimmy got kidnapped by the League of Villains,” Libby finished. “C’mon, girl, you know you are the only one here with practice at this sort of thing.”

            Cindy threw her hands up. “All right, all right!” She looked back out the window at the troop of creatures marching past the school. “I guess I can go...erm, talk to them. Maybe they’ve just got the wrong planet?”

            She inched towards the exit, trying to muster up some confidence. The cafeteria fell silent as they noticed her moving towards the alien spacecraft. As she got to the doorway of the cafeteria that led out to the playground, she felt a light shove on her back.

            “We-ELL, Cindy, don’t be shy-ARWK!” She heard Ms. Fowl say behind her, in a weird combination of panic and encouragement. “Go and say hell-O-o!”

            Most of the aliens had scattered, and only the leader remained. Cindy gulped and took a step forward, forcing herself to stand up straight.

            “Um, hi,” she said, tentatively walking towards the pale alien. He did not respond, and instead stared greedily into the palm of his hand, which seemed to only contain a pile of dirt. “Excuse me, sir?” She continued to walk forward. Still no response.

            “HEY!” Cindy shouted, getting annoyed. “I’m trying to talk to you, here, freakazoid!” She put her hands on her hips.

            The alien looked down, as if he had just noticed her. “Oh, hello there, young human.” He grinned a little too wide for Cindy’s liking. “Can I help you with something?”

            “Yeah, what are you doing here?” Cindy demanded to know. Only a faint glimmer in her eyes betrayed her fear. “I promise you, Retroville is not that interesting of a town, if you are looking to take it over or something.” The blonde girl added, giving a nervous laugh.

            “Oh, do not worry, we are not here to take over,” the alien said, casually brushing that idea aside like it was the most ridiculous suggestion he had ever heard. “No, no, we’re just here to smash your town to the ground.”

            Cindy gasped, completely unsure of how to respond to that. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Libby, Sheen, and Carl approaching nervously.

            The alien gave a good-natured laugh, his pudgy belly shaking along with him. “Oh dear, I am afraid that came out a bit harsh.” He offered Cindy a three fingered hand. She took it rather cautiously as Libby, Sheen, and Carl came to stand beside her. “My name is Colonel Dul, and I-”

            A snicker interrupted the alien’s introduction. Cindy turned to see both boys covering their mouths with their hands, leaning on each other to hold in their laughter.

            “Colonel Doll?!” Carl suddenly blurted out, unable to restrain himself.

            Sheen smacked him upside the head, getting his own laughter under control. “Geez, Carl, show some level of maturity. I’m sure he prefers Colonel Action Figure.”

            Cindy rolled her eyes. “Colonel Dul, not Doll, honestly.”

            It was Libby’s turn to start giggling. “Dull as in boring?”

            Surprisingly, the Colonel managed to remain calm as the children bickered amongst themselves. After Cindy got everyone back under control, he offered to continue his explanation. “As I was saying, we are not here to take over this town, or this world. We are here because your town rests on, well, how to say this – an absolute goldmine!”

            Libby raised an eyebrow. “A goldmine? Dude, I think you have the wrong Retroville. All our town sits on is a bunch of dirt.”

            “Exactly!” Colonel Dul said, cradling his handful of dirt gently. “Your town is built on a highly concentrated mucky loam substrate, greatly valued on our home world!” He gestured to his visor. “See, we do not often come above ground, because the sun is painful to our eyes. We live underground, but our planet is running out of good quality packing dirt for homes and tunnels. So, we travel the galaxy, seeking high quality mud and soil. We’ve run an analysis over the entirety of your world, and this town repeatedly arises as the top pick for dirt mining.”

            Libby tucked a braid behind her ear. “I don’t know if we should be flattered by that or not,” she said, raising an eyebrow. Cindy shrugged in response.

            The pale alien gripped his shovel once again. “Well, to make a long story short, we will regrettably have to demolish every building in town.”

            Sheen’s jaw dropped dramatically.

            “I hope you know that it is not personal,” Colonel Dul continued, straightening his purple visor. “We’re just a simple military mining crew. Can’t get at the dirt with all these houses and stores on top of it, can we?” He laughed jovially. “So if you don’t mind stepping aside, we’d like to start our deconstruction with this building right here.”

            The alien troops had surrounded Lindbergh Elementary and were beginning to line up a series of explosives around the perimeter. A collective gasp was heard coming from the cafeteria as all of the students inside realized what was about to happen.

            Carl, Sheen, and Libby once again all turned to face Cindy, each one of them with a unique expression of panic on their faces. “Cindy,” Libby whispered, terrified. “What do we do?”

            Her friend’s fear reflected itself in Cindy’s own eyes. She did not have an answer.




            The pale, long snouted, visor-wearing aliens continued to set up explosives around Lindbergh Elementary, impervious to the screams of protest coming from inside the school.

            “Wait!” Cindy shouted, desperate to stall for time. “You can’t do this! Where will we live?”

            Colonel Dul seemed to think this over for a moment. “Well, I suppose we could help you out there.” He snapped his fingers, as if struck by sudden inspiration. “You could come with us, and build our new tunnels! We could use some free labor to ease the construction process along.” He smiled warmly, “What do you kids say?”

            Several alien thugs began surrounding the four kids, grinning broadly.

            Cindy laughed nervously as the aliens crept closer. “Well, uh, not that it is not a kind offer, Colonel, but, erm…” She began sidestepping away, dragging her friends with her. They edged behind the swing set, and Cindy’s eyes lit up. “We’d actually rather –” She grabbed one of the thick black swings. “EAT RUBBER!” Screaming, she hurled the swing at the Colonel’s face, and the four children took off running out the gates of the school.

            There was a distinct thud as the rubber swing met Colonel Dul’s long snout and knocked his visor to the ground. “ARGH!” He screamed, clutching at his eyes with his hands and dropping his shovel. “The sun! I can’t see!”

            The alien troops rushed to their Colonel’s aid, leaving Cindy, Libby, Carl, and Sheen to escape without hindrance. They ran from the playground, with Carl sucking on his inhaler like there was no tomorrow.

            “Guys, I think we’re gonna make it!” Libby said, between ragged breaths.

            However, Libby had spoken too soon. As they rounded a corner, heading towards the Candy Bar, they heard the Colonel shout in the distance, “After those kids!”

            Cindy let out a frustrated growl. “I knew our luck wouldn’t last! Quick!” She pointed to an alley wrapping around the back of the Candy Bar. “Behind the dumpsters!”

            The four kids launched themselves into the trash heap and watched with trepidation as several aliens reached the back alley. Carl hid his eyes and squeaked in fear. Cindy shushed him as one large thug began poking at the trash pile, suspiciously.

            Just as the alien was about to move the garbage bag blocking the kids, a squirrel made a sudden dash across the street, drawing his attention.

            “Over there!” the alien shouted, pointing a spade in the squirrel’s direction and squinting, “I think I saw something move that way!”

            The alien squad followed his suggestion and took off after the animal. There were four distinct sighs of relief.

            “Wow,” Sheen commented. “Their eyesight is worse than my Great-Grandmother’s after she had that accident with the mosquito netting.”

            Wisely, no one chose to pursue that topic of conversation.

            Carl sneezed loudly, knocking over a bag of half eaten ice cream cones and nacho baskets. “Guys, I think I’m allergic to garbage.”

            Cindy sighed in annoyance. “This is just ridiculous.” she said, picking a banana peel off her shoulder, “Our school is about to be blown to smithereens, and we are hiding in yesterday’s trash!”

            Sheen shrugged. “What’s the big deal? No school building, no school!” He smirked. “I like the sound of that.”

            Libby shook her head. “Sheen, they aren’t just going to stop there. They want to destroy the entire town! My house, your house, The Candy Bar, Jimmy’s lab – ”

            “You don’t think they’d knock down the new Ultralord billboard, do you?!” Sheen gasped, horrified.

            “Wait, that’s it!” Cindy said, eyes brightening, “If we can get to Neutron’s lab, maybe we can find some crazy invention to fight these guys off with!”

            Carl waggled his finger. “Oh no, I don’t think so. Jimmy told us ‘no girls allowed’ while he’s gone.”

            Cindy rolled her eyes. “‘No girls allowed’? What is he, six?”

            Sheen crossed his arms and stuck his nose in the air. “What Jimmy says, goes. As his loyal friend, I must uphold his wishes.”

            Cindy grabbed Sheen’s shirt and raised her fist in front of his nose. “Sheen, you have five seconds to change your tune, or I’m going to pound your face in!”

            Sheen put his hands up in surrender, eyes crossing as they stared at the girl’s fist. “Did I say loyal friend? I meant untrustworthy, backstabbing friend with access to a large bag of Jimmy’s hair.” He laughed nervously, as Carl nodded furiously in agreement.

* * * * *

            The foursome approached Jimmy’s backyard, shooting glances over their shoulders to see if they were being followed. Aliens could be heard marching in formation up and down the neighborhood streets. Hiding behind a tree, Cindy gathered everyone in a huddle.

            “Okay, so we need to split up into to task forces. If the aliens find us once we get in the open, then one force can distract while the other makes a dash for the lab.” Cindy snatched a handful of Jimmy’s hair from the bag Carl held open. “Carl, you go with Libby to the right. Sheen and I will take the left.”

            “Aww, man!” Sheen complained. “Why does Carl get to go with Libby?”

            “Because I need to rid you as of many distractions as I can, Spastic-Boy,” Cindy said, glaring at Sheen. “Believe me, I’m not happy about this arrangement, either.” She turned back to face the group once again. “Now, stealth is of the upmost importance. We know their vision is limited, but I am sure that means their other senses have just been enhanced through the common evolutionary processes of adapting to life in a subterranean environment.”

            Libby smirked. “Girl, you are starting to sound like Jimmy.”

            Sheen blinked. “Yeah, I didn’t understand a word of that.”

            Cindy growled. “Okay, simple version. Don’t make any sounds! Stay quiet, move slowly, and we should be able to get to his lab without being caught.”

            Sheen’s eyes brightened. “Oh. I get it.”

            Cindy sighed. “Good. Carl?”

            The large boy gave her a thumbs up and gripped his bag of Jimmy’s hair tightly. “Ready to rock and roll, baby.”

            Cindy blinked. “Well, I’m going to pretend I never heard that,” she said, turning away to face Sheen. She coughed. “All right, let’s go.”

            The two groups split up and began moving over the lawn. Libby and Cindy were tip-toeing in near unison, despite being on opposite sides of the backyard; Carl kept turning secret-agent style, checking the four cardinal directions for any sign of alien life; and Sheen had flattened himself against the lawn, crawling like a special ops soldier over the grass. Suddenly, Sheen bolted straight up in mid-crawl.

            “YES!” Sheen shouted. He leapt into the air, something purple and plastic clutched in his left hand. “Hawaiian Party Ultralord’s Turbo-Powered-Ukulele, with mango-scented laser discs and eight different hula-inspired versions of the Ultralord theme song!” He cradled it to his face, cooing. “I thought I’d lost you forever.”

            Sheen!” Libby shouted from across the yard, hands clutching her head in exasperation. “What part of ‘stay quiet’ did you not understand?”

            He responded by striking up a peppy luau-esque ditty on the miniature ukulele, which was quickly interrupted by Cindy’s slapped hand over the strings. “Sheen, Libby!” she hissed. “Knock it off, or the whole alien army is going to – ”

            Cindy felt a tap on her shoulder. She slowly turned around to find Colonel Dul staring down at her.

            “Well, hello,” he grinned.

            Cindy gave a nervous laugh. “H-hello,” she answered, eyes darting around. “Fancy meeting you here,” she added, then grabbed the Ultralord ukulele. “Sorry that we can’t stick around!” With one smooth move, she leapt into the air and wailed the ukulele down on the alien’s head. “Run, everybody! Now!”

            They took off toward the lab, but were thwarted by two lines of alien troops hut-hutting in front of the doorway and VOX, menacingly wielding their shovels in the air.

            The kids spun around and raced of in the other direction. Sheen snatched his ukulele from the ground and high-tailed it after his friends.

            An enraged cry rang out after their getaway. “That’s the second time that brat has hit me. After them!”

* * * * *

            “Now what?” Libby shouted in desperation as they ran down the street.

            “I –” Carl wheezed heavily between each word. “Wish – huff - Jimmy - huff huff - were here. He’d – huff – know what – huff – to do!”

            Sheen flailed his hands in agreement. “If only there was some way of contacting him!” he cried, “If only he had left us with some means of communicating with him in case of emergencies!” He threw the back of his hand to his forehead in a dramatic fashion, then winced in surprise. “OW!” He glanced angrily at the hard metal object on his wrist. “What the heck is this doing here?!”

            Carl skidded to a halt. “Sheen! That’s the watch Jimmy gave to you! The walkie-talkie one, remember?!” He held up his own to jog Sheen’s memory.

            Cindy stormed toward the boys as she stopped running. “What are you two losers going on about?”

            “Yeah!” Libby agreed, putting her hands on her hips. “We’ve got to keep running, here, people!”

            “But – ” Carl started.

            “No time! We’ve got to get out of here!” Cindy said, glancing over her shoulder.

            The alien squad was getting closer. Sheen squinted, clearly deep in thought. “THAT WAY!” he shouted, pointing in two directions at once.

            Catching on, Cindy grabbed Libby and took off to the right, while Carl and Sheen ran to the left, leaving a very confused band of aliens behind them.

            Sheen and Carl took a quick dive into someone’s rose bushes. “OW!” Sheen yelled for the second time that afternoon. He looked down at his body to see most of it covered in thorns. As he was about to shout out in pain again, Carl clamped a hand over Sheen’s mouth.

            “Shhh!” the hefty boy hissed. “Be quiet, Sheen, or they’ll find us!” He fumbled with his inhaler, hands shaking too hard to hold it steady.

            Waiting until the aliens had moved on from the area they were hiding, Carl spoke again. “Okay, we have to call Jimmy!” he said with a surprising amount of authority. “We need to find out if there is a secret entrance to the lab where the creepy spacemen won’t catch us!” His eyes darted back and forth in panic upon mentioning the aliens pursuing them.

            “Right!” Sheen agreed, flipping open his watch. His expression turned to one of confusion as he stared at the two buttons. “Er…which one do we press to call?”

            Carl scratched his head. “Oh, um, well, let’s see…” he trailed off.

            The boys looked from the red button, to the blue, and back to the red. Throwing his hands up in frustration, Sheen yelled, “Gah! I can’t take this! Let’s just press them both at once!”

            Before Carl could say anything, Sheen slammed his fingers down on the watch. A puff of smoke radiated out from the buttons.

            “DARNIT!” Sheen reached eagerly over to Carl’s wrist. “Let’s try that again with your watch this time!”
“Sheen, no!” Carl said, protectively shielding his watch from the hyperactive boy.

            Sheen slumped his shoulders in disappointment.

            “Let’s just try one button at a time,” Carl suggested reasonably.

            Sheen grumbled something including the words “spoiling”, “scientific experiment”, and “just curious”, while crossing his arms and looking away.

* * * * *

            “And so, by simply reversing the polarity four times rather than three, you get a super-charged magnet, capable of producing a thrust 6.79 times greater than the original,” Jimmy concluded, bowing to the small circle of rocket scientists that had gathered around his impromptu lecture. A smattering of applause rang throughout the space center.

            Just then, a burst of static erupted from Jimmy’s watch.

            “Excuse me, gentlemen, I have a call coming in,” Jimmy said politely, heading towards a less crowded corner of the test facility to talk.

            “Hello? Carl? Sheen?” Jimmy asked, tapping on the watch.

            More static answered.

            “Hmm,” Jimmy scratched his head. “There must be interference due to the top secret government facilities around here. I’ll try to connect on another channel.”

            It took several tries before he found one that linked up, but even the working channel had static interference about every two seconds.

            “Jimmy!” Sheen’s panicked voice broke through. “The KSHHHHHHHHHHHH lab! KSHHHHHHHHHH Cindy and KSHHHHHHHHHH break in KSHHHHHHHHH –nother entrance! KSHHHHHHHHHHH stop them before they KSHHHHHHHHH.”

            Jimmy shook his watch repeatedly. “Sheen? Sheen! Can you hear me?”

            There was no answer.

            Jimmy’s eyes narrowed. “So, Cindy thinks she can break in to my lab now, huh? Well, she isn’t going to get far.” He clenched his fists decisively. “Goddard!”

            “Bark, bark!” the robotic dog answered promptly.

            “We need to get back to Retroville, A.S.A.P.!”




            “There you two are,” Libby said, yanking the boys out of the rose bushes. “We’ve been looking all over for you guys.”

            “Seriously, they’re about to blow up the school and take all of our friends away to be slaves! All those ugly alien freaks have already headed back to Lindbergh Elementary, and you two didn’t even notice that it was safe to crawl out of your hiding spot,” Cindy sighed in frustration, stepping up to stand beside her best friend.

            “We were calling Jimmy,” Carl said, proudly, pointing at his wristwatch. “With Jimmy’s secret walkie-talkie watches.”

            Sheen looked less excited. “Yeah, well, he could have tested them better! The dang things barely worked at all!” He chucked his fried watch to the ground, then picked a couple of thorns out from his elbow.

            Carl shuffled awkwardly. “I guess so. We couldn’t really hear him all that much.”

            Cindy did not look surprised. “Well, what did you expect? Since when do any of Nerdtron’s inventions work like they were supposed to? Now, if he just listened to me once in a while, maybe he’d see where he was going wrong. But nooo, not Mister Know-It-All.” Cindy rolled her eyes are grabbed both boys by the sleeves. “Come on, we have to get back to the school before it gets blasted into rubble!”

* * * * *

            Four heads poked over the playground seesaw, watching the long-snouted aliens set up the last of the explosives. Everywhere they looked, guards stood. Colonel Dul was standing by the cafeteria, lining up the students to head into the spaceship.

            “All right everybody, in a nice orderly fashion,” he commanded, gently moving the children along with his shovel. “I promise, you’ll love tunnel digging. The darkness, the damp moldy smell!” Colonel Dul inhaled deeply. “Ahh, it is an honor, let me tell you.”

            Nick sneered at him. “Oh yeah? Then why aren’t you leaving that honor to your own species?” He got a particularly non-gentle shove with the shovel for that comment.

            “Cindy, girl, we don’t have much time!” Libby whispered, urgently. “What’s the plan?”

            Cindy’s mouth twitched up in a nervous grin. “The plan? Right, then plan. Erm…” She looked from Sheen, to Carl, to Libby, biting her lower lip in uncertainty.

            “Cindy!” Libby squeaked. “We’re counting on you here!”

            Cindy shut her eyes and nodded, determined. “Think…” she said to herself, squeezing her eyes shut. “Think…” she grit her teeth and clenched her fists. Images of scenes from earlier in the day floated through her mind.

            Sheen playing the Ultralord Ukulele.

            Carl inhaling his protein substitute at lunch.

            Sheen’s voice, “Their eyesight is worse than my Great-Grandmother’s after she had that accident with the mosquito netting.”

            Her own voice, “Now, if he just listened to me once in a while, maybe he’d see where he was going wrong.”

            “BRAIN BLAST!”

            Three jaws dropped simultaneously. Libby, Carl, and Sheen all stared incredulously at Cindy, shocked and completely unable to move.

            Cindy’s eyes widened and her face turned beet red. “It’s, it’s,” she stammered. “It’s just an expression, okay?” She set her jaw. “Really, you guys need to get a hold of yourselves. We’ve got aliens to defeat, remember?”

            Libby shook her head, as if ridding herself of an unwanted memory. “My girl’s right, we have to get moving here.” She snapped in front of Sheen’s face, his eye twitching at uneven intervals. “Yo, Earth to Sheen. We’re kinda having an important conversation right now? How about you join us?”

            Sheen blinked, swooning his head as if he was just coming to. Carl, however, continued to stare, his expression frozen.

            “All right,” Cindy said, ushering them all to come close. “Here’s the plan.” She paused, glancing at Carl in annoyance. “Carl,” she bonked the large boy on the head with her fist. “Snap out of it.”

            Carl grabbed the top of his head with his hands. “Ow! All right, all right!”

            “Do you still have any of that protein substitute?” Cindy asked.

            “Sure, I do, Cindy,” he said, pulling out a llama-covered lunchbox from behind his back. “But I was sort of saving it for a snack – Hey!”

            Cindy snatched the lunchbox from him. “Don’t worry, Carl, you’ll still get to eat it. Here is what we are going to do.”

* * * * *

            Sheen leapt from behind the seesaw, a bowler hat on his head, and a dapper bowtie around his neck. “Good afternoon, my friends!”

            The aliens all stopped what they were doing and turned to face the boy.

            Sheen grabbed a cane out of thin air, pointing it at the aliens. “You look like a hearty bunch of alien miners in need of a good Dirt Schlepper.”

            There was no response, but Sheen grinned anyway and carried on. “Well, today is your lucky day!”

            Smiling, Carl waddled over to Sheen’s side.

            “Introducing, the Dirt Schlepper 9000!” Sheen said, throwing his arms wide and gesturing towards the boy beside him. Carl waved and cocked his head to one side, still smiling.

            Sheen darted forward, putting an arm around a brown-coated alien with a big gold earring. “Ever get tired of lugging dirt back and forth?” He grabbed the alien’s shovel, and threw it over his shoulder. “Well, what if I told you that you might never need that shovel again?”

            The alien grinned toothily and clasped his hands together. “Ooo, really now?”

            “Yes!” Sheen patted him on the shoulder and leaned in closer to his ear. “Really, now.”

            Spinning, Sheen arrived back at Carl’s side. “The Dirt Schlepper 9000 is here to solve those soil moving blues! Allow me to demonstrate.” He lifted Carl’s chin to tilt his head back, then whipped out the llama lunchbox from behind his back.

            “Behold!” Sheen shouted, opening the lunchbox and showing off its contents. “An entire box-full of dirt, at least one shovel’s worth! Would you rather have to scoop that dirt yourself, or allow the Dirt Schlepper 9000 to process it, mess free?”

            “Process it!” an excited alien cried out.

            “Show it how it works!” yelled another.

            Sheen smiled widely and dumped the protein substitute into Carl’s open mouth. It was a beautiful cascade of small brown particles, and Carl swallowed it effortlessly, with an impressive burp following. Cheers and applause erupted from the alien audience. The two boys bowed, grinning at each other.

* * * * *

            Meanwhile, Libby and Cindy were on the move. Inching over to the walls of the school, they reached the group of aliens setting up the explosives.

            Picturing Jimmy’s head on one of the alien’s bodies, Cindy marched at him, hands on her hips. “Oh, please, you call that arming a bomb?’

            The alien stared at her dumbly.

            Cindy pushed him out of the way. “Psh, you are doing that completely wrong. Let me look at it.”

            The alien stepped aside, looking at his partner, completely confused. “Um, Miss, I’m not sure you are authorized to –”

            Cindy shot him a glare. “You boys are all the same. ‘Nooo’,” she said, in a mocking tone, “‘Don’t let the girl play with the high-tech explosive equipment, she might break a nail and get it lodged in the controls!’ Puh-lease.”

            The aliens watched, speechless, as Cindy moved from one bomb to the next, adjusting it, presumably to make it “more effective.” After coming to the end of the series, Cindy bit her lower lip again. She looked over at Libby, who thankfully seemed to have a plan of what to do next.

            “Hey, guys,” Libby said, smiling and directing the aliens’ attention over to Carl and Sheen. “You might want to check out what’s goin’ on over there.”

            The group of aliens turned and their jaws dropped. All of the captive students and faculty were being herded back off the ship, and their shackles undone. The aliens glanced at each other, nodded in agreement, then raced over to figure out what was happening. Cindy and Libby were left alone, confused but beaming nonetheless.

* * * * *

            “What is going on here?” demanded Colonel Dul, gesturing at the prisoners being released.

            The alien with the gold earring smiled. “Oh, we’ve just made a great trade, Sir,” he said excitedly, grabbing Carl and pulling him close. “One Dirt Schlepper 9000 for this lot of tunnel slaves!”

            Sheen sidled up, swinging a pair of handcuffs that he had just gotten off of Butch. “A real bargain, actually,” he agreed, “Especially since I threw in the Booster Pack for no extra charge.”

            Carl waved his inhaler about proudly.

            Colonel Dul bristled with rage, but kept his voice calm. “Private, why was this trade not brought to me for approval?”

            Sheen answered for the alien soldier, leaping in front of Colonel Dul. “Because at prices this crazy low, you can’t WAIT to act!” He threw his hands forward dramatically, winking. “Much less wait for approval from your superior officer,” he added, as an afterthought.

            “PRIVATE!” roared the Colonel, all sense of composure lost.

* * * * *

            Cindy fiddled with the Ultralord Ukulele as she ran, grateful for Sheen and Carl’s diversion drawing the attention of most of the alien crew.

            “All right, this should be tuned to the correct frequency to disarm those explosives, now that we’ve made the proper adjustments to them,” Cindy said, handing the small plastic instrument over to Libby. “You know what to do?”

            Libby smirked, “Does Graystar rock the power chords?”

            Cindy smiled at her response, then knelt down so that her friend could get up on her shoulders. Swiftly, Libby climbed on and reached up, careful to balance herself as Cindy rose to her feet. “Just grab the drain pipe…” Cindy grunted, trying to hold steady.

            With a leap worthy of Cindy’s martial arts skills, Libby jumped onto the pipe and scampered up the side of the building, Ultralord Ukulele strapped to her back.

            Cindy took a brief look up at the position of the sun and then glanced over across the playground. It was clear that Sheen and Carl’s distraction had taken an ill turn. Colonel Dul was advancing on the two boys, arms raising a shovel menacingly over their heads as they cowered together in front of him. Cindy stepped forward, knowing that it was now or never.

            “Hey, freakazoids!” she shouted. Colonel Dul and the rest of the alien crew turned to look in her direction. “Look up there!” Cindy pointed to the top of the school building where Libby stood, Ultralord Ukulele at the ready.

            Just as the afternoon sun dropped behind the ukulele-bearing girl, Cindy yelled, “NOW, LIBBY!”

            The sun silhouetted Libby perfectly. Bright rays wrapped around her and shined straight into the eyes of the aliens who had followed Cindy’s pointing finger, their visors no longer effective upon tilting their heads up to look at the top of the building. Libby struck an E minor chord just as the aliens began to scream in pain.

            “MY EYES!”

            “I’M BLIND!”

            “ARGHHH! THE SUN! IT BURNS!”

            Falling left and right, swatting aimlessly at sunspots dancing in front of their eyes, the burrowing aliens lost control of themselves.

            Colonel Dul shrieked, blinking back tears from his beady eyes. “Now, you fools! Hit the switch! BLOW UP THEIR SCHOOL!”

            Fumbling, the alien with the gold earring blindly smacked at the control box, until he found the right lever.

            “Libby!” Cindy shouted in a rushed tone. “F major! A minor! Now!”

            “Got it, girl!” Libby struck the final notes of the disarming trio of chords, somehow managing to make even the plastic Ultralord Ukulele sound cool.

            The lever was pulled, and a tense moment of silence fell over the schoolyard.

            Nothing happened. The bombs did not detonate.

            The school was not blown up.

            A chorus of cheers erupted from the students, who began jumping and dancing around the playground.

            “Yes!” Libby shouted, leaping into the air. “And the day is saved by Libby Folfax and her extraordinary musical talent.”

            “And Cindy Vortex!” the blonde girl added, grinning and walking up to the still-disoriented jumble of aliens. “And her pure girl geniusness!”

            Carl raised a timid hand. “Um, I don’t think ‘geniusness’ is a word, Cindy.”

            Sheen waved a dismissing hand in Carl’s direction. “Sure, it is, Carl! Just like discombobulationism or doowapdadooditty. Seriously, you need to invest in a dictionary.”

            Cindy, Sheen, and Carl surrounded the group of aliens, with Libby joining them as soon as she climbed down off of the roof. The foursome picked up the shackles that had been used to bind their classmates and teachers and slapped them on the confused, long-snouted aliens.

            After pushing almost all of them back onto their spaceship (which was fairly easy to do, since none of them could see straight), Cindy confronted Colonel Dul.

            “I think you learned an important lesson today, Colonel,” she said smugly.

            “And what, pray tell, is that, young human?” the Colonel asked, all traces of his earlier warm civility lost.

            “Don’t mess with Retroville’s Number One genius!” Cindy said, grinning.

            With that, she shoved the silver-coated alien forward and watched him tumble up the gangplank. Slapping the button on the side of the ship, the gangplank inserted itself back into the spacecraft, and the door slammed shut.

            Cindy smacked her hands together, dusting them off. “Well,” she said to Libby as the spaceship took off back into the atmosphere, albeit in a zig-zagging sort of way, “I think we’ve seen the last of Colonel Dul and his creepy, dirt-loving henchmen, don’t you?”

            Libby nodded. “Mmmhmm, I sure hope so.”

            Just then, an object flew in across the sky.

            Carl screamed. “No, not again! I’m too young to be a miner!”

            Cindy squinted into the sky. “Oh no, you can’t be serious.”

            Zooming in on the back of a certain robotic dog, Jimmy Neutron arrived in Retroville, looking thoroughly angry.

            As he landed, he hopped off of Goddard and stormed over to where the four children stood. “All right, Vortex, you have some explaining to do.”

            Cindy’s jaw dropped. “What are you talking about, Neutron?” she asked, crossing her arms.

            Jimmy pointed a finger at her nose. “You were trying to break into my lab while I was away at NASA!” he accused.

            Cindy looked exasperated. “Um, yeah, but for a perfectly good reason, Nerdtron!”

            Jimmy’s eyes narrowed. “From the way Sheen’s call sounded, I highly doubt you had honorable intentions.”

            Carl piped up. “Uh, Jim, I think this might just be a misunderstanding – ”

            Jimmy cut him off. “You two are in enough trouble as it is,” he said, shooting a glare at Carl and Sheen. “How could you not manage to keep the girls out of my lab for even two days?”

            Cindy glared at him. “About that little rule,” she said, following Jimmy as he began stomping off toward his house, presumably to inspect any damage that may have been done to his lab. “I think it is about time you grew up and stopped being afraid of cooties, Neutron.”

            “Oh yeah?” Jimmy shot back. “Well, you wouldn’t be so quick to judge if you knew half of the germs the female gender carried around…”

            Their argument trailed off as they marched out of earshot of the playground.

            An awkward silence followed, interrupted a moment later by Sheen, who was clearly concerned about something.

            He leaned over to Libby, mouth opening and closing like a fish. “Hey, Libs?” he finally managed to ask, his fingers twitching.

            “Yes, Sheen?”

            “Can I have my Ultralord Ukulele back now?”


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