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Saturday, Sept 1st

 

North of Freedom City

 

At the Yummytummy Apiary

 

The yummytummy apiary was, predictably, buzzing with activity. Busy little bees making honey. It was out of the city, but no so far. And of course, the Beekeeper was there indulging his obsession with bees as part of his alter ego. 

 

But so to where Fascimile and Ms. Penny Coin, the fae owner of the mysterious Puzzle Box. 

 

She was fiddling with the box in her hands, and one could only guess at how many dimensions it had. More than three, for certain. But unarguably less than four, as well. That was how the Puzzle Box was. 

 

"Look! its being driving me here! Like a compass! Buzzing all the time!" she complained to Fascimile. "Something needs to be solved!"

 

She twirled one side and pressed a button, and with its usual spectacular explosion of nothingness....

 

A green giant appeared. 

 

Over ten feet tall, with a hammer in his hand, angry red hair, and a most grumpy expression. 

 

"WHERES MY KEY!" he boomed at Fascimile and Pixie, although the Beekeeper (at the moment, Baxter Bowles) was nearby studying this or that feature of this or that wasp - and he certainly heard!

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The Bee-Keeper III

 

There was something soothing about the business of bees. The way they carried on, resolute and unflinching in their duties. The buzzing of their tiny, industrious wings a strange symphony of productivity. Admittedly, maybe Baxter was a little biased, his interest in the workaholic insects a nice mirror to his own tireless career.

 

His hobby might have taken a backseat to his newfound studies, but here, back in Freedom City, Baxter could take comfort in rekindling his side-passion. So there he sat, slurping away at a sweet frozen drink as he just soaked in the ambiance, a nice reprieve from the recent events that had brought him back home. Content. Relaxed. At peace.

 

And then there was a giant shouting about a key. Outta nowhere! Respectfully, Baxter's reaction was the sort that any self-respecting young man might have while lazily watching bees: his spit his drink out all over the grass in surprise. He'd seen some crazy things in his time as a superhero, but even this caused the apiary avenger to blink dumbfounded for a moment; only a moment though, as he laid his gaze on the weapon it was brandishing.

"Hey!" snapped the bee enthusiast, eyes narrowing first on the massive hammer in the giant's hands, then against the sun as he stared upwards to meet the brutish looking creature's eyes. Giving his honeycomb emblazoned belt a gentle tap, Baxter Bowles ceased to be, metal plates crept up and down his body, encasing him in a suit of thick, undeniably bee-esque armor. "I don't know how you got here, but I'm pretty zzure this izzn't Jack in the Beanzztalk. Why dont'cha calm down and put that hammer down, big fella, and maybe I won't have to make you!"

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he daren't say it to anyone but Alexander lloydd the hero known as facsimile (amongst other pet names given to various forms he'd taken!) was getting used to things like this happening to him, it was a bit of a drag that they so often turned into punch ups between himself and whatever might've fell through the universes cracks.

 

It was just a shame it was getting so routine, he'd been about to make a sassy remark and take on  some form or another when his attention was snapped towards the newcomer...one he recognized! Bee-keeper! now things were getting interesting!

 

"Hey pix i know that guy from the news!" he whispered to her excitedly, honestly nerding out a little bit as he did "This is gonna be so cool!" he said as he looked around for something great to mimic incase things inevitably went south.

 

Had to put a show on to impress an old pro right?

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GM

 

"Me WANTS ME KEY!" stamped the Giant. He was big and heavy and very very strong. And very green, in fact. A leather lion cloth and furry boots were his only cloth, and one would not wish to contemplate what lay underneath either...for he had a musty odour in addition. 

 

He pointed his hammer at the Beekeeper. 

 

"Have you seen my key?" he demanded. "It was a VERY naughty key. It split up and ran off. HMPH. Naughty key! I NEED it!" he explained, in what was - it must be said - a rather spartan explanation. 

 

"And why are you a BEE?" he asked the Beekeeper. 

 

One got the impressoin that whilst the giant was not stupid....he was very far away from smart.....

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Previously erect, the armored finger being waved towards the gigantic gentleman withered slightly as it spoke. Even behind the visor, the intensity of the Bee-Keeper's glare shifting into one of awed annoyance was practically palpable.

 

"You're... you're a few peazz zzhort of a pod, aren't you?" mummed Baxter, his modulated voice both sympathetic and bamboozled. "Firzzt, I'm a bee 'cauzze beezz are awezzome. Zzecond, you know you zzound crazzzy, right? That'zz not even how keyzz work!"

 

The Bee-Keeper let the statement sink in for a minute before re-addressing the giant, his voice surprisingly calm despite the weirdness of the whole situation. Whatever this storybook entity was, it wasn't exactly the sharpest tack. Maybe it could be reasoned with? Maybe?

 

"Look, I'm going to azzk one more time: pleazze put the hammer down and play nizze. Nobody hazz to get hurt, man. You put the big zzwingy mallet down, and maybe we can talk about your, uh, naughty key," he pleaded, hoping the giant had some sense of morality.

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GM

 

"Don't talk to me about peas!" grumbled the grumpy green giant. "Some young thief grew a giant beanstalk and...never mind......hmmmph...."

 

"And dont tell me how Keys. Me makes good keys! Me melting and smelting metals for a thousand years! Me knows more about Keys than you!" he said, defiantly. "ME KNOWS KEYS!"

 

He waves his hammer around violently. Although not, it seemed, with the intention of violence. 

 

"Me made KEY THAT OPENS ANYTHING!" he said proudly. "EVEN HEADS!"

 

He paused to think.

 

"NOT like THIS OPENS HEADS!" he added, pointing to his hammer. 

 

"KEY THAT OPENS ANYTHING! But then KEY DIDN'T LIKE BEING KEY, AND SPLIT OFF INTO THREE PARTS AND RAN AWAY!"

 

He was most vexed, it seems, about the Key. 

 

"Grumpy...." commemted Pixie in her normal cheerful and unsubtle manner. 

 

"ME GRUMPY!" said Mr. Grumpy the Grumpy Green Giant. 

 

"Yes you are!" confirmed Pixie. 

 

"ME Not WANT to hurt anybody.  Not VERY MUCH anyway" conceded Mr. Grumpy. "BUT me DOES want KEY BACK! And me WOULD hurt anybodies to get Key BACK. OR if me gets BORED!"

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This was turning out to be hilarious, or at least alex thought it was, like a living breathing pantomime! that said the big guy did seem awful upset, would be best to try and resolve it all peaceful like, right?
 

"hey big guy, Ain't no need to be getting upset ya hear? I'm sorry, ain't seen no keys round these parts but I could help ya look if ya like?" he offered earnestly, just because he wasn't human didn't make him any less a citizen in need, one who had apparently been robbed by some kind of pea wielding thief?

 

"One sec mate..." he said as he touched his hands to the ground and began to mimic the very continent itself! whilst he was far and away from being able to fully take on such a monolithic size he had enough power to work with to get him on a face to face basis, scooping pixie up to ensure she wasn't left out whilst he was at it., he assumed beekeeper had the ability to fly or a jetpack accessory like the captain wasp knock off toy and it was a bit rude to just nab a stranger.

 

"Now then, what did its...pieces look like last time ya saw em?" he asked through stone teeth and earthen lips, covered in grass and wild flowers.

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GM

 

"well...thats the problem...." said the dejected Giant, who promptly sat down. He seemed rather unimpressed with Fascimile turning into...well...a  giant piece of earth himself. 

 

"Wow! Look!...I can see the great lakes!" commented PIxie, pointing exitedly at Fascimile's left scapula. 

 

"The pieces can look like ANYTHING! Thats how it is making a KEY THAT CAN OPEN THE UNIVERSE!" said the Giant, proudly. "They can change SHAPE! As long as its METAL!"

 

He had an idea, however. 

 

"BUT! ME KNOWS HOW TO FIND THEM!"

 

He paused dramatically. 

 

"THEY LOVE SUGAR!"

 

"Thats why they ran away! Because they loved sugar so much! ME FED THEM TOO MUCH SUGAR WHEN WE WAS MAKING THEM!" he shouted, as if he had found the secret to existence and wished to share his genius with the world. 

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"ah thats rough buddy" he responded to the giants dejected demeanour it was tough dealing with things like that, facs imagined, still not quite sure of the puzzle box's nature he opted to cautiously treat its various denziens and contents as if they were very much real things.

 

he felt the mountains of his eyebrows raise as pixie pointed out a landmark "oh i wondered where those got to do...i think i have Mt Rushmore's heads amongst my teeth." he half bragged, half complained before the giant spoke up again.

 

"Well they came to the right place then eh beekeeper buddy?" he ventured "this heres an Ape-ry loads of honey! you think they turned into tiny metal bees and went for the big honey heist?"

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"Anything'zz pozzible. Can't get zzweeter than honey," chirped the Bee-Keeper in agreement, still getting over the fact the strange fellow who'd just a moment ago was perfectly normal-sized was now standing eye-to-eye with the giant with a key problem. Really, this whole situation reeked of weirdness to the tenth degree. The whole thing probably should have rattled Baxter more than he was really feeling it, and yet, he was fine with this. Well, as fine as one can be with magically poofing giants, naughty sugar-hungry keys that can open doors to the multiverse, and a dude who could touch dirt to become king-sized while scooping up girls in a single, earthy hand.

 

Baxter had to admit he was a little jealous of that last part. It also warmed his heart that someone actually knew who he was! That was a nice surprise. It also put him at a weird disadvantage, because he wasn't totally sure who this guy or his friend were. All he knew for sure is the kid had both guts and a heart of gold.

 

Wings extending with a quick, metallic sshnickt, the yellow-and-black striped hero fluttered up a few feet to hover closer to conversation level now that the giant had - more or less - been made docile, signs of a dust-up much less likely.

 

"If I were a weird magical zzugar-zztarved key, I'd go where the honey'zz richezzt -- for the royal jelly. Betcha a milkzzhake we'll find atleazzt one of our myzztery key culpritzz in the biggezzt bee houzze."

 

With a whisper, Baxter turned his attention to his new colleague. "Hey, nizze job there. Guezz you already know who am, and it'zz cool to zzee zzome new fazzezz in the hero bizzz," he added, extending a fist for bumpage in the spirit of camaraderie. "Zzo, what am I zzuppozzed to call you guyzz?"

Edited by SpicyWaffle

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GM

 

"Honey! YES!" replied Mr. Grumpy the Grumpy Freen Giant. 

 

"SAM the SHAFT! That was what he called himself. The middle bit!" he explaied, twiddling with his fingers to indicate the bit of a key that lay betwixt one end and the other. "He loved HONEY!"

 

"CURSES! It was ALL Mr. CANDYS FAULT!" he said, stamping his feet angrily. "KEPT FEEDING THE KEY HONEY, MARSHMELLOWS, AND CHOCHOLATE!"

 

He turned off to some imaginary fourth wall. "DONT FORGET KIDS! SUGAR IS ADDICTIVE!"

 

He turned back to the Beekeeper. "YOU! WASP! CAN YOU HELP ME FIND SAM? This place has LOTS OF HONEY! He MUST be HERE!"

 

 

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"Its a pleasure to meetcha!" Facs rumbled happily in response "Call me facs, short for facsimile and this is my friend puzzle pixie." He said gesturing to penny and bumping a stone knuckle to a metal fist.

 

"I was a fan of yours back before i got my powers, went to see the original in his retirement even! Its so cool to have such a iconic...." hr began before the giants eureka moment hit.

 

"Duty calls eh? Though if you wanna go grab a in costume shake me and pix have a place we like to hit up....though this is really your field of expertise so ill follow your lead."

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"A fan, huh?" Baxter repeated, mildly dumbfounded that anyone would actually be wowed by a guy in a bee-suit. It was flattering in a weird way, and if the Bee-Keeper armor's helmet was capable of emoting, Facsimile might have seen a smile. "Wow. That'zz really cool, actually. But you're right. Weird magical keyzz firzzt, zzhakezz after."

 

Fluttering past El Grumpo the Not-so-Jolly Green Goofball and ignoring the palpable need to correct him about the fact that he's not a frickin' wasp, the Bee-Keeper lead the way to the largest of the Yummytummys man-made hives; not so much in a hurry, per se, just quick enough before Grumpy got any other bright ideas involving hammers and apiaries. Every model was different, of course, but he was confident in the one true standby that most of the models used for bee-keeping were modular in nature - if push came to shove, he'd just disassemble the structure and fish Sam out by force. But before he went in all gung-ho, performing the equivalent of kicking in their tiny bee-doors and demanding the metal-bee-shaped-key-thing's surrender, Baxter instead took a more eccentric approach.

 

"*Hello, bee-bros and bee-ladies!*" bzzzd the Bee-Keeper as his voice imitated his very theme, the armor translating as best it was able into the bizarrely specific measure of buzzes needed to converse with the busy denizens inside. "*Any chance there's a weird not-bee in there? Maybe, I don't know, made of metal-y stuff and trying to eat your honey?*"

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GM

 

Bees were not, of course, the smartest of insects. And insects were not the smartest of living things. Still, in a community, some kind of quasi-intelligence was always presence. 

 

"Yezzzzz!" was the resounding answer from a hundred bees. 

 

"We zzzaw some little shiny man eating our honey!" they replied angrily. "We stung him and stung him but it didn't bother him! He was to shiny!"

 

Shiny probably meant metal, one would suppose. 

 

"He was hiding in the bee keepers pocket! He looked like a spoon!" they explained. 

 

This presumablyl was the real bee keeper. In that it mean the man running Yummytummy. The man who was keeping these bees, as opposed to the kid in a magnificent bee armour!

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"oh yeah i mean like the beekeeper is Iconic to freedom city, the first was harmless enough, the second was troubled but from what i hear he's doing well now, its great that something thats been such a part of our history is now something so positive!" he squeaked continuing his earlier line of dialogue.

 

Facsimile put pixie back down on the ground and returned to his normal size and form, he wanted to see what was going on from up close, carefully and quietly watching what beekeeper did, it was weird hearing the words getting turned into bee-buzzing language but at the same time kind of fascinating.

 

"Thats a neat trick..." he whispered, worried that he might get picked up and translated too once it seemd to have wrapped up "bee's have anything intresting to say? like...in general if not specifically about weird magical key parts?" he asked earnestly "have a feeling this is gonna require more finesse than such a big form can manage." he explaining his decision to drop the mimiced continent.

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"Huh. That'zz zzurprizzingly zzmart," quipped Baxter, turning back to face Facs, Pixie, and Grumpo the Grumptastic.

 

"Guezz Zzam wazz one zztep ahead. It wazz here, and the beezz weren't too happy about it. Turned itzzelf into a zzpoon," he continued, pausing for a second as that statement processed. "Man that zzoundzz weird when you zzay it out loud. Anyway, lookzz like it'zz cruizzin' in the bee-keeper of the Yummietummy'zz pocket."

 

Again, this was starting to sound more than a little insane. And yet, like honey, the plot was beginning to thicken.

 

"Beezz are... uh... not great converzzationalizztzz," admitted Bee-Kay Triple with a shrug, trying his best to seem nonchalant about totally geeking out over Facsimile's praise while carrying on with the conversation even as he scoped out the apiary for any signs of bee-suit wearing weirdos other than himself. "But you're not wrong. They do have zzome weird zztuff to zzay zzometimezz. Like, did you know they beelieve they invented the high-five? That'zz pretty weird, and alzzo totally awezzome if it'zz true."

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Facsimile looked dumb founded for a moment, if one looked hard enough they might've seen the mathmatic formulae running through his head as the gears of his brain grinded on that thought for what was honest;ly longer than they should've.

 

"But....But they don't have five?" he asked as he looked at his hands "they got like cute little...hook things?" he asked as he made the shape of a bees manipulators with his fingers and looked between pixie and beekeeper for further input, the idea that it might be a translation thing not even entering his mind.

 

"Uh...anyway, we better go find the hive head honcho eh?" snapping back to the matter at hand "not met them personally....any idea where they might be or look like?" he asked pixie and bee keeper both before turning to look at the giant "We gotta go find a guy, so just sit tight ok?"

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GM

 

"ME not SIT!" said Mr. Grump, stamping his foot hard. 

 

"ME get MY KEY BACK! You little SQUITS can sit around and TALKY TALKY!" he explained. "And help me get key back!" he added, a grin as an afterthought. "BUT ME not just SIT AROUND when there is KEY TO BE FOUND!"

 

"ME COME WITH YOU!"

 

Stompy stompy stomp he stomped off. 

 

Then stopped. 

 

"WHERE ME GOING?" He demanded. 

 

One explanation and lots of stomping later

 

Just by the main road was the Yummytummy office. A rather pleasant old wooden building. 

 

"Yes? Can I help you?" said the beekeeper. A woman in her fifties with a robust look that suggested strength of body and will, and with a smile that was honestly quite warm. She had the faint smell of honey, and was dressed in full apiarist get up. 

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"its a pleasure to meet you ms." facs began, taking the lead felt natural he had a talent for rambling, he was unsure about how this lady felt about freedom cities more unique aspects nor if sam had done some mystic mumbo jumbo to her or if they even had some kind of dark alliance or the like! he'd probably read too many comics.

 

"We're here because we believe that...well something has snuck its way into your apiary and is messing with your bees to put it simply...have you noticed any distressed behaviours or irregularities in your honey collections? particularly the larger hives?" he asked "We're worried that something might be invading them and eating from the royal jelly itself...of course its not my field of expertise but my friend here" he gestured to the bee keeper as he spoke "Is quite knowledgeable about such things and we'd both be happy to help you chase it out."

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GM

 

"Distressed? Why no" answered the beekeeper. 

 

"Well...some of the hives haven't made as much hunny as normal. That happens, sometimes, if they colonies get agitated. Or distressed, as you say" she added. 

 

The Beekeeper took a good long look at the Beekeeper. 

 

"Why! Its the Beekeeper!" she said, excited now. "I know all about you. Well, every beekeeper does! And the other ones too, from the past. But from what I hear about you, you do a fine job!" she said, full of encouragement and shaking his hands. 

 

"You make us all proud to call ourselves Beekeepers again! Oh...what am I thinking. My name is Sarah. Sarah Sting. Yes, haha, everyone laughs at that. But it is actually my real name..." she sighed. "I must have been desitned to do this job!"

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"It'zz a pleazzure, Mizz Zzting. And that'zz, uh, really cool of you to zzay that about me. Honezzt. I'm totally flattered," chirped the Bee-Keeper in response as he shook Sarah's hand gently. Now he really was geeking out a little. But the time for praise and celebratory congratulations wasn't now. Facsimilie, Pixie, and he had a job to do; preferably before Grumpy got impatient and started living up to his namesake.

 

"Not to zzound like we're in a hurry, but we've kind of got a teeny-tiny problem. Like my friend here wazz zzaying, I'm zzure you've notizzed zzome of your honey running unuzzually low," continued Baxter, trying his best to sound both gentle and authoritative as he struggled to find the right words. "I know how weird this is going to zzound, but there'zz thizz weird magical zzhapezzhifting key with a zzweet tooth that your beezz think turned into a zzpoon and izz hiding out in your pocket," he began, still as bamboozled by how bizarre the series of words sounded, their oddity still as rich the second time he'd said it. "And there'zz thizz kinda-cool-but-maybee-dangerouzz giant outzzide that, if he doezzn't get hizz key back, might zztart tearing this plazze apart if we can't zznag it firzzt."

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GM

 

"That does sound...unlikely!" said Sarah, her eyebrows arched and thus indicating but "unlikely" she meant "insane". 

 

However, this was the Beekeeper she was talking to. And any beekeeper like herself worshipped the Beekeeper that was the Beekeeper. (Gosh! This was getting confusing!)

 

"But if you say so, then we better have a look!"

 

She looked outside. 

 

"Good golly gosh darn it! There is a giant outside!"

 

"ME WANT KEY" stomped Grumpy, loudly. 

 

"Told ya!" echoed Pixie, a faint smile on her lips. 

 

"Well, I guess we had better find it then....in my pocket, you say?"

 

She pulled out a spoon. It was a rather unremarkable spoon, but it had traces of honey it. 

 

"It looks like a spoon to me?" said Sarah, studying it carefully. "I mean, I cant recall having this spoon, but I don't exactly study my spoons?"

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"you mind if i take a look?" facsimile piped up as they examined the spoon, he had a simple way of discerning what things were, what they did and how they worked.

 

brushing his fingers over the spoon he focused his unique mutant gift and began to transform himself into it, reaching for the depths of its unique properties and construction, not least of which the ability to eat soup with his bear hands!

 

"if you're in there...sam come out...the jig is up..."

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GM

 

"Gazooks! You Found Me!"came a tinny voice from the spoon. 

 

Sammy the spoon (or a third of a spoon) yelped. Sarah, in shock, dropped the spoon. 

 

"Me wants hunny! Yummy hunny!" explained Sammy the spoon, who in the blink of eye popped into the shape of a six inch tall metal figurine. Agile, nimble, and oh so small. 

 

"Me not want to be key! Me want hunny!" it protested, and started scuttling off into Sarahs office. 

 

 

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Things were really looking up now that Facsimile had uprooted the mysterious key-beast from its shape-shifted state. He'd hoped it would have just surrendered after being discovered. Really, with the weird day he'd been having so far, he should have known better as it tried to abscond from the scene of its latest crime spree.

 

"Oh no you don't! You want zzome honey? I've got your honey right here!" quipped the Bee-Keeper, leveling the armor's literal honey hand-cannon towards the miniature key-creature as it endeavored to make its escape into Sarah's office. With a decidedly loud FWUMP!, the Bee-Keeper fired a concussive blast of artificial (but still tasty!) honey towards the slippery key-demon. One way or another, this thing was going back to Grumpy!

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