Meanwhile, back at the Los Antelopes County Jail, the Solar Squid wiped the last remnants of biscuit and gravy from his beak with his napkin, popped the napkin in his mouth, and replaced his breathing apparatus. Reaching out with his mind, he found and made mental contact with the cook.
“Your meal was superb,” the squid told him. “Please think of the recipe so that I may pluck it from your puny mind.”
Not knowing what else to do, the cook did as he was instructed.
“For such a magnificent dish,” the villain said, “I shall spare you when I bring this place to the ground.”
“I… I appreciate that,” the cook said aloud.
Leaving the cook’s mind, the Solar Squid began to probe the minds of other guards, seeking one that was weak and malleable. It didn’t take long for him to find one that would suit his purpose.
“You. Bring me my equipment.”
A gray sloth with heavy-lidded eyes smacked his lips a couple times and stared blankly for several seconds before looking around to see who was speaking to him. “Huh?” he asked, and, upon seeing no one about, went back to staring blankly.
“You dolt,” the Solar Squid said, increasing the intensity of his mind invasion.
Again, the sloth looked around. “Huh?”
The villain realized that his chosen dupe was even simpler than he imagined and decided to try a different approach. “I need to go to the prisoners’ personal effects locker.” He had to repeat the thought several times before the sloth accepted it as his own and began to move.
The sloth slowly made his way to where the Solar Squid’s equipment was being stored. Not being the swiftest of guards, the trip took several minutes, and by the time he reached his destination, even his controller was feeling sluggish. It took twice as long for the sloth to gather his equipment, and twice as long again for him to take it to the cell where the squid waited impatiently.
Relieved to finally have his gear back in his possession, the Solar Squid began to examine each piece to assure himself that nothing had been tampered with. Although they had allowed him to keep his breathing apparatus, they had confiscated his helmet to deny him access to the UV ray it generated, which was powerful enough to give tropical island tans to albinos. Once it was secure on his head, he examined the four tentacle-blasters now back in his possession. After strapping them on, he aimed them at the bars of his cell door and fired. The damaged bars crashed to the floor, and the Solar Squid stepped into the hallway.
An evil laugh reverberated through the minds of every guard and prisoner in the facility. “Once this place is leveled,” the Solar Squid mind-spoke, “Captain Carrot shall die.”
Several miles away, Captain Carrot felt a shiver run the length of his spine.
“Are you OK?” asked Carrot Girl, as Carol insisted upon calling herself.
“It felt like Death was calling my name,” Captain Carrot replied.
The hero nodded. “I’ve got a feeling things are about to get dangerous. Perhaps it would be better if you headed home.”
The fledgling heroine started to pout, then saw the look of genuine concern in her cousin’s eyes. “You saw how well I can handle myself,” she said, “but, if you think it’s for the best, then I’ll go home.”
Carrot Girl turned toward home — or rather, toward Rodney’s apartment — but the sound of an explosion reached her super-sensitive ears. Turning back to her cousin, she saw that he had heard it, too.
“Go home,” was all the hero said, before leaping off toward the sound of the explosion.
Carrot Girl watched him go, then continued on her way. She hadn’t gotten very far when an out-of-control delivery truck suddenly blew a tire and turned toward a crossing guard just coming on duty. Dropping from the sky, she wrapped her arms around the surprised guard and leaped over the truck. Hoping she was as strong and as invulnerable as her cousin, she leaped past the vehicle and landed in front of it. Grabbing the front bumper, she put her shoulder against the grill and tried to slow it down. To minimize the damage to the truck, she let it shove her almost a block before exerting enough force to bring it to a halt. After receiving the gratitude of both the driver and the crossing guard, she was once again airborne, seeking out another catastrophe to prevent.
She had only leaped a couple blocks when a loud scream reached her ears. She immediately recognized it as belonging to her cousin. Arching her back and going into a barrel roll, she changed direction, bounced off of a warehouse, and leaped to Captain Carrot’s aid.
It only took a couple of minutes for Carrot Girl to arrive at the Los Antelopes County Jail, and when she did, the sight before her caught her completely off-guard; Captain Carrot was in the process of demolishing the outer wall of the complex.
“Omigosh,” she whispered. “What’s he doing?”
Hearing his cousin’s voice, the hero glanced in her direction and mouthed the words, “Help me.”
She watched him for a moment before she noticed that his movements were lacking any grace. It’s almost like he isn’t in control of his own body, she thought. Immediately, she reached the conclusion that her foe had the ability to control minds, and if he could do that, he probably had other mental abilities as well.
As if on cue, Carrot Girl heard, or rather felt, thoughts other than her own force their way inside her head.
“So…” the alien thought began.
“So… what?” Carrot Girl asked.
“That pause was for dramatic effect,” the voice in her mind said. “The youth of this planet are as rude and impatient as those from my homeworld.”
Carrot Girl landed outside the jail, her hands on her hips, and looked around. A quick glance at Captain Carrot let her know that he was fighting the alien’s control. “If you are typical on your planet, it’s no wonder the youth are rude.”
“Why, you…” the voice began.
“Hey,” Carrot Girl said, “you know two letters; twenty-four more, and you’ve learned them all.”
“How dare you, you insolent pup?”
“How dare me? How dare me?!” Carrot Girl demanded. “You come to my planet and start throwing your weight around, turning my cousin into a mindless puppet, then say how dare me? How dare you! And another thing — do I look like a baby dog or a baby seal? No! I am a teenage rabbit. If you are going to conquer a planet, at least have the courtesy to get the species right. Geez!”
The Solar Squid was taken aback by the young rabbit’s attitude and decided to confront her and reveal his fearsome might. He was caught off-guard by her reaction.
Carrot Girl did not let the sight of her adversary deter her anger. She wasn’t going to let the giant alien squid get away with disrespecting her or her planet.
“Oh, my gosh!” she exclaimed. “Did you dress yourself, or do you hire circus clowns for that?”
The Solar Squid looked at his outfit. “What’s wrong with…?” he started to ask.
Carrot Girl cut him off. “Have you ever heard of a makeover? Never mind. I don’t think there is any help for you.”
Again, he started to reply, and again, she cut him off.
“We really need to hurry this up; I’ve got a trig exam I need to study for. Hey, if you actually do manage to conquer this planet, which I seriously doubt you will, would you do me a favor and outlaw trigonometry? There’s a hare in my trig class that’s absolutely dreamy, but that’s the only class we share, so maybe you shouldn’t outlaw trig.”
The Solar Squid raised a tentacle to his head and closed his eyes for a second. Carrot Girl took a quick look at her cousin and saw that he appeared to be regaining control of his body and mind.
“Do you have a headache?” she asked the alien. “I suppose I should punch you or something, but I’d hate to beat you up if you didn’t feel good. I used to get headaches all the time, so I went to the doctor. He said it was a combination of too much stress and too many late-night video games. Do they have video games on your planet? One of the boys at my school holds the high score on eight different games at the arcade.”
“Jiminy Kraken! Don’t you ever shut up?” the Solar Squid roared in her mind.
Carrot Girl smiled. “If you don’t speak up, then you can’t ask questions. And if you don’t ask questions, you can’t learn anything.”
“For example,” she said, ignoring him, “did you know that a squid could squeeze itself into a very small and tight space?”
“Of course I knew that,” the Solar Squid replied. “It’s not comfortable, but I’ve done it myself a time or two.”
“Good to know,” a male voice said behind him.
The alien invader turned and saw Captain Carrot standing behind him, holding a metal canister with an attached hose.
“What is that strange weapon?” the Solar Squid asked.
“It’s a vacuum cleaner,” Carrot Girl said, “and like your day from this point on, it’s going to suck.” She then hit him with a haymaker that knocked his helmet off. In the blink of an eye, she had confiscated his tentacle-blasters as well.
“I thought you weren’t going to punch me because of my headache?” the Solar Squid whined.
“Teenagers these days,” Captain Carrot said as he flipped on the switch. “They’ve got a mind of their own.”