Meanwhile, the three other horrible mammals were having a bit of a more difficult time of it than they felt they had signed up for. Gone was their enthusiasm to make a quick profit off whomever or whatever ordered the final termination of the Professor (which was, most likely, the same fine fiends who were currently confident they had weakened him to such a vulnerable point in the first place) and in its place a singular drive to get their miserable hides out of the library before they went down with it.

  Fortunately for them, it wasn't difficult to locate a musty, damp crevice in the Library's parameters that a couple of shifty, slimy enough characters should have no difficulty worming their way through. Unfortunately for the rest of us, there was no such gap in the emergency security membranes that wouldn't fry perceptosymbionts like buzzers, bleaters, reverberators or even valuable and charming narrations. Had we opted to follow these louts, they might have very well tried to abandon us here, so we would have had to put some extra effort into averting that scenario. I suppose you made the better choice after all.

  Their cowardly escape route was the zonal equivalent of a forgotten septic duct, but it would at least deposit them into that wooden labyrinth you're all so fond of.

  "Well, shit!" said Cheryl, because this narration refuses to always censor its art, "It ain't exactly glamorous, but at least it ain't the Frog Hotel. Ladies fir-" she paused abruptly,  distracted by a sensation she apparently considered unpleasantly greasy, but this narration would have called soothingly creamy. "Oh, GROSS. As if we don't have enough problems. Beat it, creep!" she said, apparently more capable of detecting narration than I might have guessed. Probably you guys's fault, actually, she was already onto you back when you were following Willis around.

...Relax, "sweetie," I'm just doing my job here. The buzzers wanted me to check in on you, and then I promise we'll be out of your haphazardly maintained hair.

"That's even WORSE!" she responded, "tell them to keep their suckerizers to themselves."

I would, Lady, but they don't even know they have them. I'm not sure they have any idea what they are, to be honest, they're actually in a pretty funny situation, y'see-

"I DON'T. CARE. Kind of trying to avoid existential annihilation here, weirdo."

You aren't the only one, toots. For instance, there's a certain miserable wad of mostly reeking hair and dried saliva we're trying to ride out of this dump.

"....Oh no." Said Cheryl.

Heh, yep. You didn't even actually think he was here, did you? It was just one of the only zones left where you could find anything to do.

Cheryl hung her head and gritted her teeth, balling her weirdly small, clammy hands into fists as she let all the rank air out of her mistreated lungs. "....DAMN IT" she finally exclaimed, before emitting a slightly too-moist grumble and dragging one of the little creepy hands down her face in frustration.

The wretched smaller Dolphin, Blowhole II, had been observing this awkward exchange in silence, before finally piping up with a nasally "uhhhhhhh, you two loveboids wanna clue us in on what you're yappin about?"

Cheryl took a while to respond, tapping her foot (which was also weirdly small for her species) as she contemplated her next course of action. "...I can't leave yet."

The Dolphin blinked, as confused as everyone else present, including even the narration. "Youse gots some kinda crazy unalive wish, Fern?!"

Cheryl straightened herself up, expression changing from one of stubborn irritation to irritated determination. "There's something I have to do. You do what you want. Besides...I'm not even Fern."

The dolphin reeled, nearly fainting from the shock, barely caught in its sibling's flippers.

If "Fern" wasn't Fern, that meant......

"Youse......youse bamboozinated us?!" he gasped. "We was gettin's flimmidy-flammed?! Fraudulously hoodilywinkled?!?"

"Yeah, it was a real challenge..." said Cheryl, rolling her eyes and already turning to leave.

"NOT so fast." said Blowhole II, standing back up and sliding his hat down his forehead to demonstrate that things were getting serious.

Cheryl looked back over her shoulder, eyebrow raised. "There a problem?"

"As a matter of fact, yeah" said the dolphin. "Problem being...ya ain't no dolphin, but somehow, ya out-wisened a dolphin, and a dolphin even as thoroughly inoutwisenable as yours truly."

Cheryl's eyes narrowed and her exospine rippled, ready to obliterate the buffoons if it came down to it.

Blowhole II and his brother Blowhole exchanged a couple of silent nods, before Blowhole II stood up taller than you'd think he physically could (the crunchy popping from within his body would agree with you) and removed his hat entirely to show that he REALLY meant business.


"By Dolphin Code" he said, "........looks like you's da new boss, boss."

This would, in fact, be the only instance in which anything anywhere had ever or would ever invoke any kind of Dolphin Code. It was entirely likely that these particular specimens had simply been duped at some point into believing there was such a thing by any of the other superior swindlers constituting most of the population of not only sentient life but a fair number of nonsentient quasilife, but it was probably best for everyone not to look a gift horse in the blowhole.

"...Obviously" said Cheryl, as she turned back around and continued on her way, with an insulted and impatient sort of tone that said "you're lucky I forgive you for assuming I wouldn't know about the famous Dolphin Code."

"S-sorry, ma'am! Of course, ma'am!" said Blowhole II, because that had worked, as he scrambled to his "feet" to catch up.

It looked like we hadn't seen the last of these idiots just yet, but we could definitely use this to our advantage.

With her horrible new subordinates, Cheryl marched straight back into the chaos of the library, ungratefully waving away the narration that literally only ever helps everyone and had just done precisely that, even.


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