Welcome to the fifth installment of -

" A TIME TO EVERY PURPOSE UNTO HEAVEN " By Pepe K.

Please send all comments to pepe.k@eudoramail.com

The following story concerns the Toonsters' freshman year of Acme Looniversity at college level. This story contains many references to music, some of which you may be familiar with. It contains and was inspired by the music of Danny Elfman's soundtrack of the films, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, MEN IN BLACK and the theme from the television series THE FLASH.

In order to enhance this experience, I've made notations as to where each specific piece of music fits into the story. If it's available to you, I'd *strongly* suggest getting the cassette tape, so that you'll not only read the story, but hear it happen as well. All the music is available on CD. Most is from Danny Elfman's MUSIC FOR A DARKENED THEATRE Volume 2 No, I don't make a living selling music for 20th Century Fox or MCA but Mr. Elfman's music is incredibly beautiful, IMHO and well worth it. I'd like to thank VmC, HKUriah, Thorne, ...and Danny Elfman This story is dedicated to my Beloved Wife.

And now Part 5 of -

"A TIME TO EVERY PURPOSE UNTO HEAVEN"
"The Race Of The Millennium"

Chapter XVII

Speed Racer pulled the Mach 5 up to stop alongside of a large group of trackter-trailers that were to one side of the bleachers full of toons, waiting for the race to begin. The vehicles were more or less arranged around a group of tables. Sitting at a row of computers, sat a number of 3-D humans, hurriedly typing, while others ran cables to large pieces of electronic gear. Twin radar dishes revolved atop another trailer and video and film cameras were being primed for use. The humans all wore blue jumpsuits and sunglasses, making them look decidedly alien. They rushed hither and thither, racing the clock to be ready.

In the midst of this tension, stood a handsome older man with sandy hair and wearing casual California clothes. He issued orders over a headset.

"T minus 29 minutes, folks! Let's get going! Group Two Move it!"

As Speed got out of the Mach 5 with Hamton, Fifi and Wakko, the well-tanned fellow crossed to meet them, a technician at his side.

"I've brought them, Mr. Breedlove", called Speed.

"Thanks Speed just a sec ", said Craig Breedlove turning to his aide, "Double check all the high speed cameras -make sure they're clean this sand and dust is murder. Go!" The technician nodded and rushed off.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Breedlove" said Hamton, much impressed, as they shook hands.

"Thanks now we don't have much time," Breedlove told them, "He's preparing himself now conserving energy. Now *don't* disturb him unless he speaks but I know he wants to talk to each of you."

He paused and spoke over the headset again. "Suit-up will take place in seven minutes, crew. Stand by!"

He pointed to Wakko. "You you're Wakko Warner, right?"

"That's m' name don't wear it out!" said the Warner kid with a goofy grin. Breedlove put a hand on top of Wakko's cap, holding his head and looking into his eyes.

"Look kid, I don't want him disturbed he's gotta concentrate on the task ahead. His life may depend on it."

Wakko gulped as the human continued.

"Now you have a few minutes to see him. Remember what I said. Speed will show you. Excuse me."

Breedlove walked hurriedly away towards the computer center.

Hamton, Fifi and Wakko looked nervously at one another as Speed quickly led them to a purple trailer with a large air conditioning unit on top.

As they approached, the small figure of Shirley appeared from a large door in its side. They saw her close the door and sag back against it.

"Shir-lee!" ,called Fifi, "What are vous doing 'ere?"

The blonde loon looked up at them her face a mask of misery.

"You...can go in...er some junk" she said quietly.

Hamton put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Shirley, what's wrong?"

Shirley looked at the two of them a moment, shook her head bitterly and walked sadly away.

"Shirlee??" Fifi called after her, but Speed said, "I'll look after your friend you've only got a few minutes." He followed after Shirley to comfort her.

Fifi, Hamton and Wakko looked at each other in confusion and at the door in trepidation. They paused, unsure, till Wakko said "...I guess...we'd better go in."

He cautiously opened the door and they felt the cold whoosh of air conditioning.

It was a dimly-lit chamber and very strange. The walls and ceiling were covered with patterns of spiked black foam rubber everywhere and it was much cooler than the desert outside. They suddenly noticed the total silence surrounding them it was so quiet, all they heard was their own breathing.

"It's an anechoic chamber", Hamton whispered in Fifi's ear, "Super sound-proofing."

They looked into the near-darkness at the opposite end of the room.

There was someone there. A large, unmoving figure sat in silence.

The sounds of their breathing quickened and the three toons shook in fear.

As Fifi's vision became accustomed to the low lighting, she saw the shadowed face of Doctor Lord. His eyes were closed and he seemed as lifeless as a statue. He wore only white track shorts and his broad silver-furred chest gleamed dully. His heavily muscled legs ended at the floor with large black, clawed feet.

As the trio stood waiting in scared silence, Lord's glowing silver eyes slowly opened, his white, triangular, cat-like pupils shining like stars. In the semi-darkness, the effect was chilling and despite their knowledge of him they shivered with dread.

"..Wakko" Lord whispered, his lips barely moving. Wakko took off his cap and padded over to him. He was excited, but stopped himself from shouting.

"Doc? What's goin' on? "he asked quietly.

Only Lord's eyes moved to focus on his little friend.

"Running" , he whispered almost inaudibly, "Be a good boy."

"But Doc?!" Wakko begged.

Lord's eyes silenced him.

"Promise..?" said his ghostly whisper. Wakko froze, looking like an abandoned child. Lord smiled warmly and leaned forward silently to wrap him in a tight hug, his eyes closing as he whispered something in Wakko's ear.

"I ...promise." said Wakko, almost solemnly.

Lord released him and patted his head, before calling softly to Hamton.

Art by Thorne

The nervous pig walked timidly over as Wakko retreated towards the door.

Lord drew himself up in the chair and looked intently into Hamton's eyes.

"..Y-Y-Yes..Sir?" he stuttered like his mentor. "I charge you to take the best care you can of Fifi" Lord whispered intently.

Hamton stood in shocked silence a moment, before his lower lip curled indignantly.

"I intend to" he managed to say, squeezing his fists tightly.

Lord's slight smile returned for a moment and he nodded slightly.

"Shalom" he whispered and called to Fifi.

Hamton backed away, unsure of what had happened. He watched Fifi approach Lord and felt the jealousy churn in his stomach, but ...what did it all mean?

As Fifi reached him, Lord took her paw in his hand and glanced at the others.

"A moment alone, please" he said quietly.

Hamton pouted and Wakko put a hand on his shoulder and lead him outside. As the door closed behind them, Hamton shook his head petulantly and said, "I don't understand".

Within, Lord reached to click on a CD player and his personal theme played softly in the dark and quiet of the room.

{ES#2 "Storytime"}

The song was tender and utterly ethereal.

"Your musique.." said Fifi in wonderment.

Lord's eyes closed peacefully. "It comforts me."

"Pavel, What eez going on?" she asked.

"The endless chase..." he whispered absently.

"Why are vous racing?? Vous said your powerz were not for display", she reminded him.

Lord's eyes shut tightly before he answered. "This project is the result of four years of work. My crew was already here set for next week."

"Zen why do eet now??" she implored.

His eyes opened. Lord stared at her.

He did not smile, instead Fifi saw an edgy tension in his face. He released her paw as he slowly stood. Fifi was taken aback by this change and for the first time, felt uncomfortable. She looked up, searching his face her head only as tall as his waistline as he turned away from her to face the wall. Fifi looked down, almost ashamed to have asked the question. Lord rubbed his silver muzzle.

"..Personal reasons" he said quietly.

Now Fifi understood what Pepe had said about Lord's dignity.

"I use my powers to my own ends. I do not flaunt them needlessly", he said," Great power begets great responsibility... and the abuse of such power is a most dangerous thing, indeed."

Fifi felt her spirit sink, but Lord abruptly turned and knelt down before her, taking both her paws in his hands again. His countenance was filled with apologies.

"Forgive me P-...Petite...I never wished to hurt you.."

Fifi saw the tenderness in his face once more and nodded in acceptance.

"Time grows short" he whispered.

"Vous are going somewhere?" she asked.

"Perhaps...", Lord said, looking askance, "With luck...but I doubt it..."

She took his hand in both her paws. "Ah don't understand."

Lord looked deeply into her purple irises. His stillness was eerie, he didn't seem even to breathe at all. The wordless, angelic voices sang softly, filling the chamber with the ghost-like music.

"You shall" he intoned.

Fifi looked at him in confusion.

"Are vous going to tell moi now?" she asked.

"There isn't time" he whispered sadly. "Mark me, Petite" he said almost aloud.

She didn't quite understand, but Fifi nodded.

Lord took a deep breath and said, " You are a most special young lady unique in the world".

Fifi shook her head shyly, "Non..."

"Far more than you know" he insisted gravely. "Stay always in the light ..never retreat unto Darkness lest it devour you".

She stared at him speechlessly.

He smiled tenderly and spoke. "You've felt alone all your life.. yet you never have been... as it is now and ever shall be".

Fifi stared at him, looking for some shred of meaning, but saw only a mystery she couldn't fathom.

Suddenly a beeping alarm went off and Lord frowned as he turned it off. "You must go".

"Please!", Fifi begged," Vous *must* tell moi something!"

Lord's eyes twitched back and forth between the door and Fifi. He made a hard choice and said "Gaze deeply into my eyes".

His hypnotic eyes locked with hers and he raised his clawed finger-tips to delicately place them on Fifi's left cheek, temple and forehead. She felt his warm touch and cautiously touched his face, copying his actions.

She blinked uncertainly between his fingers.

["Fear not "] his mind told her wordlessly. She watched his gentle eyes close and felt a trance come upon herself, till her own eyes closed peacefully as well.

Fifi heard the roaring of the blood in her veins, like the ocean's roar in her ears. She felt herself moving through darkness then a very bright light surrounded her. Things were unfocused and indistinct.

She felt the movement of cool air over her body and then saw her young mothers face, shining with joy. Something roundish moved into view and she saw two glowing shapes. She felt her face moving, changing and her hand close around something warm.

Fifi felt happy, but she didn't know why. The shining objects disappeared a moment then they seemed to come closer and closer, till they were the whole world.

A vapor covered everything...it was..a color. Rich, warm, soft, magical color permeated her body and soul, like light from a stained glass window.

Fifi felt joy and togetherness.

She saw two pairs of eyes and felt herself enveloped in a loving embrace.

The contact abruptly ended and Fifi found herself back in the dim room and saw Lord's face as he looked down and away, as he withdrew his finger-tips from her face. Several of the humans had entered and Fifi saw Craig Breedlove standing expectantly waiting.

"It's time, Doc" he said quietly.

Lord nodded and reached out to wrap Fifi in a tight hug.

Still dazed from the mind touch, she stood numbly as he whispered tenderly into her shell-like ear, "The Lord watch between me and thee while we're absent one from the other."

She stood dumbfounded, but returned his hug.

He kissed her striped forehead and let her go.

"Go now, Petite...go out into the world," he said standing. Fifi stood in a daze, blinking up at him as the men began to work on Lord's body, attaching sensor electrodes to his head and chest. Fifi turned slowly and plodded vacantly to the door, her mind in total confusion. Someone held the door open and she paused, her hand on the frame, and looked back. Lord's eyes were still watching her in silence, as the people scurried about him.

"...Bon chance`.." she said and walked out into the sun.

Hamton and Wakko rose from waiting on the steps.

"What took so long?" Hamton asked.

Fifi walked slowly down the stairs in a numbed state and stared expressionlessly at nothing. Hamton put a hand on her shoulder and she finally looked at him.

"What's wrong?" he asked with great concern.

Fifi finally closed her open mouth,"...Notheeng...".

"Are you alright?", he said with pursed lips, " What did he do to you?"

"..'Ee touched...mah mind...showed moi....sometheeng..." she said ,trying to make sense of it.

"What wuz it?" Wakko wanted to know.

Fifi looked away, trying to gather her thoughts. "..Ah'm not sure."

Hamton's lips tightened, "What did he say?"

Fifi came to herself at Hamton's tone of voice and she looked strongly at him.

"'Ee said zat I am special. And 'ee said a leettle prayer".

"Yeah,"said Wakko, "Doc's like that. He's kind of old-fashioned in some ways. He said the same tuh me."

Hamton kicked a little at the sand. "He just said Shalom to me."

Wakko cocked his head sideways and remarked, "Wull, that's a prayer too, isn't it?"

Hamton looked away disconsolately.

Wakko waited, watching the two and finally said , " I'm hungry! C'mon, let's go tuh the race I wanna bet on Doc."

They began to walk toward the stands.

"Against the Roadrunner?" Hamton mumbled not quite to himself, as he followed Fifi and Wakko.

He took Fifi's hand a moment and then stopped.

"Fifi your hand's all wet," he said holding it up.

"Que?" she said surprised. The fur on her fingers was damp.

Hamton sniffed, bringing his sensitive snout to bear.

"Tears", he said confused, "Did he make you cry?"

"Non!" ,Fifi insisted, "Ah deedn't cry."

With a shrug, the trio walked on slowly. Fifi puzzled over her wet fingers, that dried rapidly in the heat. She lagged behind and almost stopped when she realized they were the fingertips she'd held on Lord's face.

 

Chapter XVIII

The Betting Booth was nearly deserted.

Everyone had bet mostly on the Roadrunner or L'il Beeper.

Wakko was happy to see Dr. Lord's name on the list but at 100 to 1.

The Warner kid saw no one there and banged on the counter for service.

"Hey! Anybody home?!" he yelled.

"Hey Bud pipe down, we're right ovah here!" said a small voice in a New York accent.

Wakko looked high and low, but saw no one.

"Nonono! Ovah Here!" said the voice again. Wakko hopped up on the counter and found Hubie and Bertie, the mice, standing by the betting book.

"What'll it be, Chum?" asked Hubie like a racing tout.

" I'm bettin' everything on Doctah Lord," Wakko said with enthusiasm.

The mice snickered and Bertie laughed quietly, "Riot!"

Hubie smacked Bertie on the back of the head, hushing him. "Quiet-Qui-eye-et-Quiet!" he whispered,

then turning to Wakko he said, "Sure-sure, kid! Whatchya got tah bet?"

Wakko turned out his wallet, made of an old stinky sock, which he carried under his cap. There were some aggie marbles, a piece of "ABC" gum covered with lint and teeth marks, half a moldy candy bar , some moths that flew away and a hand-carved skate key. The mice looked hawk-like through the stuff and Hubie shook his head.

"Got any *real cash*, of value, therein?"

"I had a haypenny", Wakko explained, " But I spent it all."

"Heh, toooo bad" said Bertie.

Wakko wasn't about to give up. "What about my hand-carved skate key?"

Hubie shook his head, "Naw, nobody ever locks dere skates no more."

"Yeah-yeah!" exclaimed Bertie, " Dey all wear roller blinds, right Hubie?!"

"But I gotta bet on Doc! " Wakko begged.

"Hmm hang on a minute, kid", said Hubie, "Lemme call duh manager."

He whispered in Bertie's ear.

Bertie giggled,"Yeah-yeah! Sure-sure!" "I get ta push a But-ton!" he sang as he jumped on a key on their cash register. The machine's drawer opened with a ring and at the sound, Charlie Dog sproinged into view.

"Needin' financial advice, my semi-loyal employees?" he said smiling greedily.

"Dis kid wants tuh make a bet, but dis is all he's got " explained Hubie, as Bertie tried to push the cash register closed. Charlie frowned at Wakko's stuff.

"No cash, Kiddo? Eh, too bad, tough!..Hmm...Ya got a watch?"

"Nope" said Wakko sadly.

"Wanna buy one?" grinned Charlie showing Wakko an arm covered in hot Rolexes. Wakko looked glum as he picked up his sock.

"How about a ring?" pressed Charlie.

"Thanks, but I never give out my phone number" Wakko said smartly fluttering his eyelashes. He turned out his gloves, but shook only dust out of them. Bertie finally managed to close the register with his rear end stuck in the drawer. Hubie slapped him around and began to pull him out.

Suddenly a light bulb appeared over Wakko's head.

"Wait! Now I remember!" he smiled.

As Charlie watched, Wakko opened his mouth wide and stuck his big tongue up in the air. He reached in and pulled a twenty-dollar gold piece from under it.

"My mad money!" he exclaimed joyfully and plopped the saliva-covered coin into Charlie's palm. Charlie's color faded and he would have wilted, were it not for the glint of gold in his eyes. Wakko had a light snack by swallowing the light bulb and licking his gloved fingers. Charlie's eyes became money bags.

"WOW! Dis is woith-!" Charlie stifled himself with his paw, but Bertie blurted out, "Dat's woith two hundred an' fifty-seven bucks, ain't it Hubie? Hubie??"

Bertie suddenly noticed his partner standing next to the "No Sale" button on the cash register, tapping his foot angrily at him. Bertie pathetically shook his head no but Hubie shook his head yes and jumped on the key. The register door flew open and Bertie was slammed into the back wall of the booth. Charlie peeled him off and Bertie staggered about, as thin as rice paper, before popping back into shape. Charlie opened the betting book with a disgusted smirk and said to Wakko, "Okay Kiddo to Win, Place, or Show?"

Arnold walked up and down the rows of seats in the bleachers, selling Plucky's souvenirs at inflated prices. Sweetie had managed to sneak into his bag.

"Oooo! Gummy wormies!" she chortled, picking up a bag full.

"Peanuts!" called Arnold and Furball waved his arms for some. Sweetie squeaked as Arnold's hand closed around her and drew her out to throw to Furball. Never realizing what he'd grasped, Arnold wound up like a baseball pitcher and threw Sweetie like a fastball. Furball saw the pink canary flying towards him and opened his jagged jaws with glee.

GULP!

Furball snickered with satisfaction and held up a sign to Arnold, "LUNCHTIME!!!"

But in a moment, Sweetie's air horn made a slightly muffled honk and the cat's surprised body inflated like a blue balloon. As he flew about as the air escaped his mouth, Sweetie flew out as well. Furball plumped to the ground, exhausted, and Sweetie alighted nearby.

"You shouldn't be snacking so much Furball you need a well balanced diet LIKE -" Furball gasped and covered himself with a pathetic umbrella.

" COMEDY BEETS!!" yelled Sweetie as she dumped a pile of the huge red vegetables on top of him. A muffled "Myah" and a bandaged tail came up through the pile of beets. The tail kinked and scanned about like a periscope. Crosshairs appeared in Furball's eyes and he launched one of the cocanut-sized beets at Sweetie.

KLUNK!

The pink canary was knocked from her perch and fell in a heap under the bleachers. As Furball raised his arms in victory, Sweetie vowed revenge. "I am not defeated! Just severely beet-en."

Fifi and Hamton stood with Pepe, Porky and Petunia at the front rail of the bleachers, with the starting line before them and the huge video screen beyond.

Wakko ran up waving his betting slip. "I got a bet down on Doc!"

Pepe, Porky and Petunia held up similar slips and smiled. Hamton and Fifi stood slightly apart each trying to make sense of their encounter with Dr. Lord.

"He seems to want us together," thought Hamton, "so I shouldn't feel jealous...but why do I?"

Fifi was still trying to sort out the vision Lord had shown her seeing her Mother again even if only briefly.

Down at the starting line, Foghorn Leghorn was getting things underway.

His grinning visage appeared on the giant video panel.

"Ladies and Gentletoons! We're about tuh start the race Ah Say! The Race of of the Millennium! Would ya'll please rise fer the singin' of our National Anthem ", he announced, "Take it away -Michigan J.!"

Miss Prissy dipped the camera and focused as the operatic green frog held his top hat over his heart. All the toons rose to attention as Michigan's magnificent voice filled the air. Hamton proudly saluted in true Pig Scout fashion and Fifi took pride as a new American citizen, as she held her hand over her heart. The frog's baritone vibrato was inspiring and ended with Michigan holding out the final note till he'd turned plaid in color. Wild applause thanked the singer, who bowed gratefully.

"And now without further adieu," proclaimed Foggy, " Here's our first contestant! Hailin' from Acme Looniversity our verah own speed demon L'il Beeper!!"

The red and orange bird flashed onto the field with a "Mee Meep!", turned dizzy circles around Foghorn and came to a sudden stop, honking like a kazoo.

"Next one of the Looney Tunes' early racers that tenacious tortoise Cecil Turtle!" exclaimed the raucous rooster.

Cecil slowly walked on, waving and playing to the crowd. Several turtles who looked exactly like him, followed carrying gallons of jet fuel.

"Uh mn er..you folks still have time to place a wager", said Cecil slickly as he went down on all fours, "Confidentially, it's in the ag-bay".

He flipped his shell up and forward, revealing a complex jet engine inside his shell. As the turtle's cousins swarmed around Cecil like a pit crew, Foghorn continued his introductions.

"Next majoring in Toon Physics and Trauma Recovery at Acme Loo and racin' in his own invention Calamity Coyote!!"

Foggy glanced about as no one appeared.

"Where is the little varmint? Ah say! ....oh."

A gleaming metallic figure marched mechanically onto the field to stand next to L'il Beeper. Inside what looked like a bright red, anime transforming robot, stood Calamity at the controls of his amazing machine. Miss Prissy's son, Egghead Jr., appeared wearing a plastic safety suit which covered him from top to toe. He drove up in a small tank truck with the words "DANGER!! KEEP BACK!!" emblazoned on its sides. At a high-sign from Calamity, the studious little chicken ran hoses to the back of the coyote's machine-suit.

Foghorn read from a card that Egghead Jr. handed him.

"Uh...Calamity will be racin' today in an invention all his own called 'The Nucelonic Energy Rocket Drive System" made with *no* Acme products".

Up in the stands, Babs elbowed Buster and laughed, "Ha! The anagram is N.E.R.D.S.!! "

The Bunnies giggled and stuffed their mouths with popcorn.

"Allow me tuh introduce our next contestant from South uh the Bordah the Fastest Mouse in all Mehico Speedy Gonzales!!" ballyhooed Foghorn.

In a cloud of dust and a few "Arriba Arriba's", the tiny mouse appeared and waved his sombrero. The crowd of toon mice in the audience cheered wildly, the Senoritas throwing roses and kisses, as Speedy bowed to them like a bullfighter entering the ring.

Foggy's chest expanded with pride as he said, "And Now our own World-famous road burner from the great state uh Texas (mah money's on him, folks) -The One and Only Roadrunner!!"

Leaving a trail of fire and the sound of a speeding jet, the blue and purple lanky bird zoomed in to sproing to a halt at the starting line. The crowd cheered as the perky Roadrunner took his place.

The low roar of an approaching diesel engine signaled the entrance of the purple trackter-trailer onto the field. As it slowly pulled around toward the starting line, Foghorn chuckled, "Heh-heh! This must be our final contestant Ladies and Gentlemen our hist'ry professah Doctah Lord!"

Most of the crowd was quiet, but some snickered openly. Wakko, Pepe, Porky and Petunia's cheering sounded small amongst the multitude.

The huge eighteen-wheeler pulled up to stop with the hiss of air-brakes on the far side of the starting line. The blue-suited humans came piling out of the rear doors, as Craig Breedlove climbed down from the cab. All the toons watched as heavy hoses were plugged into the truck's underbelly and cameramen took video footage and flash pictures of everything. Loud speakers began to play a stirring martial theme from the roof of the trailer.

{MIB #7 "The Suit"}

Everyone watched for the side doors to open, but nothing happened

the humans continued snapping photographs as the music built.

Cecil Turtle's cousins topped off his fuel tank, sealing it and closing his shell with a forceful slam. They shook his hand and scurried away, as he strapped on his goggles tightly.

Speedy handed his hat to his cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez.

"Here Slowpoke ju can hold my sombrero!"

"Eet would be an honor...Cousin eSpeedy.." said the slowest mouse in all Mexico.

L'il Beeper removed his sneakers and stood on his yellow taloned feet. He watched as Egghead Jr. cautiously fueled up Calamity's robo-suit pumping it into a fuel port marked 'T,', then carefully washing everything with water, before tanking up the other fuel port marked 'Z.'

Arnold ran up to Hamton and Fifi, dropping his souvenirs everywhere. "Ach Himmel! Calamity's using T-Stoff undt Z-Stoff!! " he cried.

"What's that?" asked Hamton.

"Hydrogen Peroxide, Hydrazine Hydrate undt Methyl Alcohol!" exclaimed the nervous Pitbull, "Dere extremely corrosive undt Dangerous! Ven dey mix dey Blow Up! Eetz a old German rocket fuel!!"

As they watched, Calamity shifted a bit and a tiny drop of the clear fuel met another.

FFFWOOOOMMPH !!!

There was a explosion on the ground and a cloud of white smoke arose. Egghead Jr. stood blackened by the blast, shaking his head at Calamity, who could only shrug inside his metal suit.

As the charred chicken sealed the fuel ports, L'il Beeper and Calamity looked at each other intensely with deadly competition in their eyes. Their tough looks turned to smiles as the two partners gave one another a thumbs-up sign. Beeper then looked up to his mentor and the Roadrunner shook his student's wing in a gesture of good luck.

The music swelled as Craig Breedlove crossed to the main doors at the trailer's side. The cameramen swarmed about, their shutters clicking and flash units blanketing the area with white light . His fist banged twice on the door and the cameras took focus. With an electric hum, a steel ramp extended from the base of the door onto the sand and everyone moved aside. The music changed to a serious tone and the doors slid aside as everyone watched. From out of the dark opening strode Speed Racer. He ignored the cameras and onlookers, as he moved to stand expectantly next to Breedlove.

Art by Pepe K.

Streamlined, pointed metal feet walked slowly down the ramp with a heavy tread. The bizarre figure was over seven feet tall and seemed to be made of seamless, shining plastic. It's black and silver vertical striping was positively vivid. The large tail was flat as a board and looked like the rudder of a jet fighter plane. Everything was angularly streamlined the body was sharply pointed and the helmeted head was cleanly faceted like a golden diamond. The figure appeared like a crystalline alien, covered with perfectly vertical black and silver stripes.

It moved slowly down the ramp to the starting line with careful steps, as the flashes of cameras splashed everywhere. It stopped at the line and Speed and Breedlove moved to stand next to the giant, as the cameras caught every second. As the music came to a dramatic climax, Breedlove turned two small valves behind the neck and streams of white vapor shot out as the golden-visored helmet's seal was broken. The figure bent slightly and Speed and the human carefully removed the sharp-edged helmet. There was another rush of mist as it came off.

The suited figure blew the white fog away revealing the grimly determined face of Doctor Lord. There were electrodes attached at his temples and microphones just in front of his unmoving lips.

Lord stared expressionlessly at nothing.

"What the heck is that?" asked Cecil Turtle.

"The Orpheus. The prototype of a high speed suit." said Speed.

Cecil kicked at the sand and said "Well, that's cheatin'!"

Craig Breedlove spoke up decisively.

"The suit merely keeps him frictionless and cool, so he won't burn up at high temps. The Doctor will be under his own motive power unlike those of you using jet and rocket engines."

Calamity blushed but Cecil wouldn't quit. 'Well, where'd he get all this newfangled stuff it ain't fair!"

Speed looked with disapproval at the whining turtle and said, "You're being a very bad sport about this. Speedy and the roadrunners didn't complain about you're using artificial power-did they? As the racing judge, I've a good mind to scratch you from the race. You're getting to use your jets, just so you can compete with the others. A true sportsman doesn't complain about others, so I think that you'd better be quiet."

Cecil grumbled but backed down.

Fifi watched Lord take no notice of anything he seemed oblivious to the scene. He stared grimly toward the distant horizon. She tried thinking to him in French, but got no response.

Shirley appeared and put a wing on her shoulder and shook her head.

"Shirlee, what's going on? What eez Lord doing?"

Shirley looked sadly at her a long moment. "He's like, preparing himself...for his journey" she said fatalistically.

Hamton piped up "But where is he going?"

Shirley looked like she was going to cry, but didn't. "...He doesn't know." she told them.

As the contestants made their final preparations, there was the roar of jet engines and suddenly Bugs's Learjet flew through the open curtain of the Background. The carrot-orange "Hare plane" banked and flew over the race course at slow speed.

Inside the cockpit, Bugs Bunny called on the headphones. " Pilot to Bombardier we're right on target."

" I do not intend to be dropping explosives on our friends," stated Wile E. Coyote, crouching in the belly of the aircraft over his cameras, "I intend to bring the best possible visual account of this race to the audience below. Besides having historical value it will also be quite remunerative."

"Whatever yah say Wile -" ,said Bugs carelessly, " Whatever yah said."

"Can't you ever be serious?" the coyote asked with disdain.

"Only under a full moon" smirked Bugs.

The Super Genius sighed deeply and looked to his equipment.

As the orange jet roared over head, Daffy Duck appeared at Porky's side.

"D-d-d-uh have you made the big b-bet, Daffy? " Porky asked quietly.

"Yeth," said Daffy tensely, "I sure hope Doc knowth what heth doin' thereth alot riding on thith!".

"I'm not so sure Daffy", said Petunia, behind her palm. "Look at him he's not acting like himself ".

"Sufferin' Succotash! I bet everything on him!" ,exclaimed Daffy. He them yelled out toward Lord, "Come on Doc! Keep you're eyes on the prize!"

Lord stood still again showing no response.

The normally smiling Roadrunner looked with concern at Lord's equipment. Craig Breedlove approached Lord, along with the technicians who attached hoses from the truck to ports on Lord's suit.

"Y'all all set Doc?" asked Breedlove quietly.

Lord nodded silently, as he watched the roadrunners face. "...I shouldn't ", he whispered as Breedlove raised the helmet up.

The racing engineer was startled. "What ?!"

Lord turned to him and blinked.

"Never mind", he said, " You have your instructions, just in case."

Breedlove looked at him nervously, realizing the dangers and managed a fake smile. "It'll go just like the simulations" he said with bravado. After an awkward moment of hesitation, he brought the helmet up to put it on the Doctor's head. Lord's eyes halted him.

"Thank-you Craig... for everything" said the skunk.

Breedlove smiled and nodded.

"Good-luck, my friend."

Lord stared into his eyes as the helmet covered him and shut him off from the outside world. Breedlove sealed the helmet and called through the headset. "Mike's on?"

"Roger," said Lord's filtered voice over the comm link. The two shook hands and then Lord stood alone at the line his gold visor hiding everything.

As the contestants moved to the line, the Hare Plane began to make its turn overhead, circling till the final gun. Bugs noticed the figure of Lord.

"Is dat who I tink it is?!" he said as his blood began to boil.

"I believe so " said Wile E. with a pleased smile.

"He's got no business bein' in our race!!" seethed Bugs.

"To use the popular slang", said the coyote, "You shouldn't have dissed him. Why Bugs Bunny ! You seem upset."

Bugs put his cool facade back on and said "Not at all. I uh.. " He suddenly noticed something streaking toward the starting line. "Look!"

Before those on the ground had a chance to look up there was a red flash and a streak of wind and suddenly the FLASH stood next to Foghorn Leghorn, sipping a soda.

"Where ah say!, Where you been?" Foggy asked in surprise. "On a date with Lois Lane", smirked the red suited super hero, " she's hot and so am I!"

"Are you here to race?" asked Speed.

The Flash continued slurping his drink, "Naw," he remarked carelessly, "I 'm just checking out the competition. I'll race the winner and beat him."

Up in the stands, Petunia had a question. "Arnold, how do you know so much about rocket fuel you're not a chemist, are you?"

"Nein, I chust know alot about engines" the musclebound dog said.

"Arnold's a mechanic" said Hamton.

"Ah don't get eet", said Fifi, "Why does Lord need zat suit to run?"

"Probably to cut down ze drag from his fur" remarked Pepe.

"Undt to protect him from der heat undt vibrations, most likely" added Arnold.

"Up close to der schpeed ov sound the vibrations can shake an airplane to pieces undt the heat from friction with de air will burn most tings."

"Vous mean zis eez dangerous?!" cried Fifi.

Arnold shrugged and said "Yah. If dey go zat fast."

Fifi looked out with concern toward Lord's position. "D-d-don't worry, D-d-d-uh-Lord knows what he's doing." said Porky with assurance.

 

Chapter XIX

Foghorn watched the clock.

"We're at one minute folks! Gentlemen stand by!"

The racers all lined up as Yosemite Sam moved to the fore, twirling his six-guns. "Alright, yah varmints!! The one tuh go the fastest wins!! Got it?!!"

Cecil turtle crouched on all fours.

Lord move to stand poised next to the Roadrunner, the hoses still attached to him. Calamity hit a button and his robot suit folded and reconfigured itself to look like a long low-racing car. He lay prone inside, activating his controls.

The field of desert lay clear ahead of them, as the racers stood tensely awaiting their moment of truth.

High over head, the Hare Plane began its final run to level out along the racers' path. The crowd was silent.

Foggy began the countdown and thing began to happen quickly.

Craig Breedlove called through his headset to his computer technicians. "All stations this is the launch commander. Gimmee a go or a no go all stations report in."

He looked at a electronic control board before him where all the lights showed green.

"Telemetry? Go! Tracking? Go! Video? Go! Recovery? Go!

... Orpheus we are go for launch!"

"Roger that " came Lord's voice.

"Stand by for coolant." Breedlove said, hitting the button that began the automated sequence. Over the headset, he said

"Operation Godspeed commencing."

{Music for a Darkened Theatre #23 "The FLASH"}

Suddenly, driving aggressive music was coming from everywhere.

"Hey, they're playing my song!" smirked the FLASH. The thrilling theme from 'The FLASH' resounded as Lord broadcast it mentally. His strange suit and the hoses attached to it began to smoke, as liquid nitrogen was pumped in the cold white mist turning to fog and obscuring him from view. A hissing sound arose, as ice formed and melted on the suit's smooth surfaces.

A low rustling came from the rocket nozzles on Calamity's robo-suit and the whine of Cecil's jet engine was heard starting up.

Bugs' jet appeared in a shallow descent, coming closer.

Lord's body seemed to shiver and flakes of frost fell to the ground.

Foghorn counted down, " 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, -"

"FIRE!" said Breedlove.

There was a sudden group of detonations in the mist surrounding Lord, as explosive bolts blew and the severed hoses flew off of him spewing freezing liquid and vapor. Ice fell from his body in sheets!

" 'Ee's Blowing Up!!!" Fifi cried in fear.

Lord stood untouched as the last seconds ticked away.

Yosemite Sam raised his guns to fire.

"2 1 GO!!" shouted Foggy.

As Sam's guns went off with a blazing roar, all the racers took off

all but Dr. Lord. He stood motionless.

Daffy, Porky, Petunia and Pepe began shouting for him to go. Craig Breedlove screamed over the headset in panic, "Go Doc! ... GO! YOU'LL FREEZE!! GO!!!"

"Go for it professor!!" shouted Fifi, Hamton and Arnold. Lord's striped legs spun, blurred and with a screech like spinning tires, and he darted off after the others. His acceleration was amazing, but he had a long way to catch up.

The Roadrunner was out in front jockeying for position and playing with Li'l Beeper and Speedy.

A blast of white smoke engulfed them as Calamity rocketed into the lead, his engines flaming across the desert. The three runners pushed on harder to catch the thundering rocket's tail. Cecil flew just above the ground, accelerating more to catch the others.

The three runners cried "Beep-Beep!", "Andelay!" and "Mee-Meep!" and quickly closed the distance with Calamity to slowly pass him. Smoke and flame billowed from Calamity's rockets as he grimaced from the G-forces pushing him into a furry gray puddle. He desperately clawed onto his control column and fought for more speed.

"Arriba! E-Hah! Ye-Hah! " yelled Speedy as he zipped into the lead.

High above, Bugs opened his throttle and the orange jet streaked through the sky above the racers.

"Speedy's in the lead!" exclaimed Wile, as he kept them in his view finder.

Then the coyote saw a black blur moving up fast!

"_Oh_my_God!" he said in shock.

Lord's approach sounded like the howl of an artillery shell. Steadily he moved up under constant acceleration, the salty sand flying in twin streams from his nearly invisible feet, like rooster-tails behind a water skier. As the music charged in their heads, the black and silver giant overtook Cecil... Calamity... and moved in on the leaders.

The two roadrunners heard Lord coming and zipped ahead, but Speedy was taken by surprise. Lord howled past him and the amazed mouse made a mistake. His mouth gaped and suddenly, his body filled with the onrush of air. The inflated rodent lost his footing and bounced along harmlessly as the others left him behind.

Speedy rolled to a stop like a beach ball and said

"Holy Frijoles! I theenk I go back to Guadalajara." Then with a long loud raspberry noise, the air escaped from his mouth and he flew back in circles toward the starting line like a released balloon.

Lord caught up to the roadrunners and...passed them all three leaving trails of flame.

I don't believe it!" said Wile as he struggled to keep them in range of his cameras, "I never thought I'd live to see the day when someone passed the Roadrunner!"

Bugs glowered in his pilot's seat

"Pour on the coal!", yelled Wile, "They're going faster!"

Back at the bleachers, the mice rushed out to help to help Speedy to his feet. The senoritas covered him with kisses.

"Maybe losing eezn't so bad once een a while," Speedy said happily as he was fawned over.

On the huge screen, Lord lead the two roadrunners. With the sneer of a Ninja turtle, Cecil opened his throttle to full speed and moved up to challenge them. Closer and closer he came, his sneer turning to gleeful triumph.

But suddenly he heard nothing but deathly silence. His engine quit and his fuel indicator read empty. He hurtled along without power like a meteor and gasped as he saw a boulder loom into his path. In desperation, he pulled his arms and legs into his shell and cringed with gritted teeth.

On the huge screen, the turtle shell tumbled and spun through the air until its flight was arrested by the rock.

WHAM!

When the crowd uncovered their eyes, they saw Cecil and the boulder. His shell was smashed to bits, completely destroyed and he stood wobbling there naked a moment, before blushing and hiding behind the boulder.

Cecil grinned sheepishly and said, "Uh... does anybody have a censored sign I could wear?" He then looked at the remains of his shell and could have used a censored sign with the curse words he began using.

Calamity saw Cecil's disaster and made a desperate gamble to overtake the others. There was a powerful roar as he committed his after burners and pushed his throttle open to the 'Hope ya lived a good life' position.

The rocket suit blasted up a column of sand like a dust-storm and tore up to close on L'il Beeper. Calamity's maniacal eyes saw himself neck and neck with his partner. "How silly!" he thought " Beeper's still letting his tongue hang out."

"Calamity's closin'!" said Foggy over the loudspeakers.

Egghead Jr. actually smiled and Wile E. uncharacteristically shouted, "Go Baby! GO!!"

On the verge of passing, the rocket engines flamed out, leaving Calamity trapped inside his explosive metal machine with no control. As defeat and destruction stared him in the face, Calamity reached for his only hope! He fought, straining for a couple of handles and finally made it. He pulled the first and his remaining explosive fuel was dumped onto the ground and the tanks emptied. Far away he saw a boulder in his path and pulled hard on the second handle. The boulder grew in his widening eyes and suddenly he felt he must have hit it fortunately it was only the negative G-forces he felt as his drag parachute opened and his craft slowed gently to a stop. For once, he had been saved by his own inventions!

He pressed the button he had made, just in case of winning.

A sign popped up from the roof of the car saying "YAY!"

As Lord and the two roadrunners jockeyed for position, Craig Breedlove was taking reports from his crew.

"Temperature 104 degrees, BP 180/ 80, Speed 624 mph!"

"Cool him down a bit!" Breedlove told them. "Orpheus Report!"

A green light flashed on his control board.

"He's A-Okay!" Breedlove confirmed.

Lord and the roadrunners pushed ahead faster and the vibrations began. Their bodies trembled, their vision shook and blurred. It grew worse as they accelerated, battering their bodies. Both roadrunners began to feel themselves losing feathers.

"Orpheus Go with Throttle Up!" called Breedlove. Lord heard him and pulled his arms to his sides. The plastic composite suit sealed the seam and he brought his tail/ rudder up higher into the air.

As the music hit a climax, Lord's pupils dilated completely, his eyes becoming gleaming white orbs, as he pushed through the Sound Barrier. A circle of vapor formed before him and he plunged through it!

Across the desert came the sound of a sonic boom.

"Mach 1!" said Speed Racer at the control board. Fifi hopped over the railing and ran toward Breedlove at the control station.

Hamton winced and followed her.

As Lord pulled away from them, L'il Beeper pulled in his tongue and with gritted teeth, he also plunged though the Sound Barrier and a second sonic boom echoed everywhere.

As Lord and his own protege` began to pull away from him, the Roadrunner felt fear fear of losing his status, his title of the World's fastest toon, the respect of his students and friends. He shut his eyes and pushed himself harder, more of his feathers falling away. He hadn't done this in years and he banged away at the barrier, bouncing and struggling against it.

Art by Murray Mouse

With an extra burst of speed he made it through, with a windstorm of sand and cactus sucked along after him.

A third sonic boom reached the ears of the crowd at Mission Control.

"Eez Lord alright?" Fifi asked Breedlove. "Yes, he's through the Sound Barrier and the vibrations have stopped now there's the heat to deal with" he told her.

"Status report" he ordered on his headset. "Temperature 105 degrees, BP 210 / 100, Speed 798 mph!" said the technician.

"Cool him to 100 degrees", Breedlove commanded,

"Orpheus report your status!"

They watched the board, but the light didn't blink.

"Orpheus! Come In! Report Your Status!" Breedlove said again.

This time, the green light blinked slowly.

"He's okay", Breedlove reassured the group, "With all he's doing, he can't hear us too well."

Fifi nodded, but was still nervous.

Hamton looked at the data readouts and was aghast.

"Gee! He's up over 800 mph now!"

"Hurry up!" shouted Wile E. to Bugs. "They're pulling away!"

Bugs was already at top speed. "Captain!", he called with a Scottish accent, "We cahn't doo it! If we keep thes speed we'll blow up any minute naow!!"

The coyote smirked back and looked in his viewfinder.

What he saw changed his mind.

Feathers were flying off the Roadrunner.

He was struggling to keep up and felt his energy draining away. The vibrations had ceased and now he tried desperately to keep his body straight. The wind sheer was making him veer from side to side. Most of his feathers were gone and the ones falling from L'il Beeper in front of him were pelting him like rocks. The high speed was his master now and he was subject to it. Each movement became agony and tears streamed back from his eyes in the wind. His younger student was now leading him and Lord lead them both, still accelerating out in front. He could hear nothing but his own heart pounding, as all sound was literally behind him. He was losing but he fought on the pain growing, the shame building.

He couldn't let it happen!

But in a snap, it was all over.

His primary tail feather fell out and he lost all stability.

He turned his head just slightly to look and that did it.

Up in the Hare Plane, Wile E. gasped at the sight. The crowd of toons in the bleachers rose to their feet, as they watched the video screen in horror.

The Roadrunner was tumbling end over end, through the air the last of his feathers flying off and the sand spraying crazily as he clawed the ground to stop himself. His body rolled and bounced long legs and wings flailing then he collapsed into the dirt, sliding feet first to a stop.

Feathers floated down around him as he lay exhausted and thoroughly dazed. He lay there staring at Beeper and Lord, as they disappeared, leaving him behind. His tears continued to flow, as he hung his head and waited for help to arrive.

L'il Beeper was pushing harder, gritting his teeth as he slowly began to close the distance to Lord. The wind tore at him, as he jumped and zipped up to become neck and neck with the speeding giant.

At the starting line, Spike the Bulldog and Chester the Beagle took off in their ambulance, barreling out to the racer's aid.

"I'm packin' it in! We can't go any faster" said Bugs as he banked his Learjet steeply around. Wile E. was silent as he peered through his camera lens at the stricken Roadrunner.

"...Take us down" he said quietly.

Bugs made a final approach, side-slipping the plane and opening his wing flaps to slow down for a landing. Wile E. closed his eyes sadly as the aircraft's wheels squealed as they touched down.

 

Chapter XX

Lord watched the landscape blur into a flat plain with no features.

He saw the white clouds moving above him. The sky was perfectly blue a pure color that was so inviting. He felt nothing just the beginnings of warmth, as the air's friction began to make his suit glow. Bits of paint fell from the suit's joints and fizzled away in tiny flames.

He basked in its warmth and let the feeling take him.

"Speed 909 mph!" said the technician over the headset.

"Not bad! " the FLASH remarked.

Breedlove looked at the board and gulped, "I think we're ready stand by!"

Fifi looked nervously at him and stammered, "...Zat'z enough!"

Breedlove shook his head. "Not yet."

"But this is getting too dangerous!" Hamton heard himself say.

Breedlove's teeth were on edge, but he said, "Doctor's orders".

He called into the headset " Orpheus Ready for Godspeed?"

The green light did not glow.

"Orpheus! Do You Read Me??"

There was still no response and Fifi and Hamton looked worriedly at Breedlove and Speed Racer. Wakko and Shirley ran up to listen. "Speed 1,092 miles per hour! Go with throttle up!" called the technician.

Breedlove tried again. "ORPHEUS! DO_ YOU_ COPY?..DOC! ARE YOU READY?!"

The green light came on steadily.

There was a collective sigh of relief, then Breedlove said, " Go With Final Throttle Up!"

The long range cameras showed two speeding dots on the huge video screen. Great trails of sand and vapor billowed behind them.

Within his gold visor, Lord's eyes twitched and his brow lowered.

The white glow of his eyes turned pink then a fiery red.

L'il Beeper was at his limit when he saw Lord pulling away and leaving him behind.

At Mission Control, the humans watched their computer screens showing the incredible data streaming in. They rose to their feet and began chanting.

"Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! GO! GO! GO! GO! GO! GO!"

The sky suddenly darkened as a powerful thunderstorm boiled down from out of the sky. The wind kicked up instantly and sand blew about, stinging everyone. Multiple lightning bolts zig-zagged across the sky. In seconds, it went from a perfectly sunny day to a raging dark storm.

Thunder rolled and resounded as another sound began.

A horrible screaming arose from everywhere. The horrifying sound was filled with rage and fear. It was vaguely human, but sounded more like the the agonized howl of a lonely wolf. The cry filled everyone with dread and both Fifi and Shirley fell to their knees.

"Ah feel sick!" gasped Fifi, as Hamton kneeled to hold her. "Ohhh, like so much anger...and loneliness!" Shirley cried, holding her head in both hands.

"Fifi! What is it?!" Hamton shouted over the roaring storm.

"Ah dunno!" she sobbed, " Zis eez how ah felt when Mama died! Only Worse!!"

Hamton held her in his arms sheltering her with his body from the gale-force winds that whipped at them.

"So... empty!" she cried, "Hold moi tight!!"

The wind and dust tore at them, their parasols had blow away and the mice and smaller toons clung to anything solid. Speed and Breedlove watched the readouts as another blast reached their ears.

"Mach Two!!" yelled Speed over the raging storm.

Breedlove looked at the blur on the screen and whispered in awe, "...Godspeed".

The horrid screaming reached fever pitch and Fifi realized it was Lord's own voice!

"Temperature's Over the Limits!" called the technician. Breedlove seemed not to hear he just watched the blur on the screen that was Lord.

"This one's good!" said the FLASH.

L'il Beeper saw flashes of fire forming around Lord's suit and he slowed to stay away from it's danger. The suit glowed red hot as its occupant madly tore through the air.

Beeper knew he could never match this and slowed carefully to a stop.

He watched in fearful horror as the fiery juggernaut sped insanely on.

Fifi felt like part of herself was dying and knew only terrible emptiness and a loneliness that was unbearable. She shut her eyes, hoping it would ease the pain, but suddenly she was up and clawing for Craig Breedlove's headset!

"HEY! I NEED THAT!" he yelled.

Fifi tore it off his head and shouted desperately into the microphone.

"STOP, PAVEL, STOP!!! PLEASE DON'T GO!!!"

The screaming ceased and she heard a single whispered word.

"...Petite?"

There was a titanic blast of lightning and thunder, as if the heavens themselves had opened and everyone was knocked from their feet.

Then there was silence.

Toons and humans alike looked up to see the storm clearing as fast as it had come. As the last rumble of thunder died away, the Sun shone through the dissipating clouds and warm rain fell. The sun shower cooled everything and in a moment was gone.

The video screen was blank.

The only sound was that of Bugs' Hare Plane's engines, as it taxied on the ground. Everyone got up slowly. The silence was ominous.

Breedlove looked at Fifi angrily and managed to say, "May I have my headset, please?"

She looked up at the screen and handed them back in shock.

"All stations report in," he called into it, "..WAKE UP! C'mon! Report!"

"Uhh....no telemetry" said the technician's voice haltingly.

"WHAT!?!" yelled Breedlove.

"Sorry...nothing's coming in at all..." said the man's voice.

"Radar report" said Breedlove, trying to maintain his composure.

"Ummmm...he must be down" said another technician.

"Is he on the scope at all?" asked Breedlove. "..No... one second he was there the next he's gone" said the radar operator.

Breedlove hit his comm button.

"Orpheus, come in...Do you read me? Come in?...Doc?...
Doc, do you read me? Give us your position! ...
Doc, I know you can hear me! ...ANSWER ME !!"..."

Only empty static came from the speakers.

"Shirley! Where eez ee?!" Fifi implored. The loon closed her eyes in concentration, searching... her eyes shut tight and she hung her head.

"Shirley, eez 'ee alive??" Fifi gasped.

Shirley opened her tear-filled eyes and said quietly, "...I don't know..."

"We've got to get out there fast!" said Speed urgently.

"Did someone say Fast?" asked the Flash.

In a microsecond, he was gone, streaking off down towards the horizon.

"Wait!" called Breedlove "He left orders to be left alone."

"What?" cried Hamton.

Breedlove was not happy to say it, but it was the truth.

He lowered his eyes and sighed. "If anything were to happen -

Doc said he was not to be touched for at least 15 minutes."

Fifi burst into angry tears.

"Vous knew zis would happen! Why deedn't vous try to stop heem?"

Breedlove looked at her.

"It was his decision. He knew the dangers."

Fifi almost lashed out at him.

"Stop eet!! Vous talk like he's dead!!"

"Hold on!" shouted Speed interposing himself. "C'mon now we've gotta get out there and find out!"

Breedlove reluctantly nodded.

"Let's go!" yelled Speed as he ran toward the Mach 5. Shirley followed. It was hard for Fifi to stand, but she begged to go along.

Dutifully, Hamton picked her up and carried her to the waiting racing car.

"Report back...whatever you find" called Breedlove sadly.

"Right!" yelled Speed over his revving engine.

He was about to peel out when Wakko leaped into the car. "Don't forget me!", he said, "I've gotta see if Doc's alright."

With that they roared off down the line.

In the stands, Petunia sobbed onto Porky's shoulders and Daffy stood looking at the betting slip in his hands. Pepe took his own betting slip out and tore it in half with a tear in his eye.

He rose to his feet and saluted as Petunia cried.

The crowd was silent with shock.

Art by Scott Kellogg

Hamton held Fifi tightly as the Mach 5 raced along through the desert at over 200 mph. No one spoke. The wind blew through the girls' hair and Wakko held onto his cap as Speed drove. It was a long straight path. They could see where each of the racers had run, strips of desert wiped clean of sand.

A perfect rainbow arched across the sky from the recent rain.

They came upon Cecil Turtle who covered himself and waved to be picked up, but they ignored him. Further on, they saw Calamity pushing his robo-suit car back to the starting line. Hamton waved to him as they zoomed past.

Far ahead they saw the orange Hare Plane at rest on the sand.

The ambulance was just pulling up.

They saw Bugs pacing and tapping his foot, but the strangest sight of all was that of Wile E. Coyote holding the battered Roadrunner in his arms and comforting him. The tall coyote carefully placed his partner on the stretcher that Spike and Chester brought from the ambulance.

Wakko stared a moment at the scene, then turned to look at the road ahead.

"LOOK OUT!" he yelled.

Li'l Beeper had suddenly zipped in the Mach 5's path, picking up feathers for his mentor and himself. There was no time to swerve.

"Everybody get down!" shouted Speed, as he hit button 'A' on his steering wheel.

YOK-YOK-YOK!!

The Mach 5 leaped into the air and over the surprised roadrunner, who never saw it and looked around to find the strange noise of the hydraulic jacks.

"Wow!" exclaimed Hamton as the car landed back on its tires with a squeal, "That was so...!"

Hamton blushed as the others looked at him in a deadpan fashion.

Fifi stared straight ahead with a look of shock and sadness.

Hamton winced and held her tightly.

"Fifi don't worry", he said reassuringly, "The Professor will be alright."

"Ah'm not so sure." she said tearfully.

Hamton tried again. "But toons can't really be hurt they can't die." Fifi slowly turned to him, staring into his soul, as a big tear ran down her cheek.

Hamton gasped in shame as he realized what he'd said.

Both Fifi's parents were dead. He'd even witnessed her mothers funeral.

How could he have said such a thing to her?

"Oh honey, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to say it like that! " he implored taking her paws in his.

She nodded and hugged him.

They held each other in silence till Wakko shouted, "Look!!"

Ahead they saw the deep gouges in the sand left by Lord. The dirt and rocks showed a wild path. Most points were severely dug up where he must have collided with the earth. In other places, the sand was untouched, as he must have tumbled over it through the air. The trail of scorched earth went on for a few miles and as the landscape and time rolled by, Fifi and the others grew more and more worried.

They finally saw marks where Lord's body must have rolled and in the distance they saw it. Speed saw the Flash bending over him and pulled up to a stop at his side.

The suit lay sprawled on its face, the arms and legs bent.

The Flash gingerly picked up Lord's heavy tail and moved it off his body. Speed jumped out and together, he and the Flash turned Lord's body onto its back.

The suit was scorched, gouged and ruined. Most of the painted stripes were gone. It was abraded and filthy with dust, dirt and sand. The golden visor was shattered, but had not broken away. The helmet was dented badly. The ground around the suit glistened with melting frost, where the liquid nitrogen coolant had leaked. The limbs seemed shrunken.

The body did not move.

Hamton held Fifi and helped her to walk over as he'd done at the funeral in France.

Wakko began to cry and ran forward to kneel at Lord's head. "Doc! Doc! Get up...PLEASE!!!" he begged, struggling to lift the head. The helmet was limp in his hands. The FLASH kneeled at Wakko's side and put a hand on his shoulder.

"It's over...", he said gently, "Leave him be."

Fifi and Wakko broke down in sobs and crouched over the body.

"Are you sure?" asked Speed.

" I've been here almost ten minutes and there has been no sigh of life no breathing nothing... I'm sorry", the red superhero said genuinely.

"No,no,no!," Fifi cried, "Shirley vous can tell! Eez ee dead?"

Shirley composed herself, mumbling her mantra and closing her eyes.

There was a long moment of silence before she opened them again. "Take off his helmet." she said uncertainly.

They all looked at each other for a grim moment, then Speed knelt and undid the twin valves behind the neck of the suit. Shirley looked at the helmet, concentrating.

Hamton moved in to help Speed lift off the heavy mask.

There was no rush of vapor this time, as the lines were broken. The seal was jammed slightly and Fifi turned away as the body was manipulated. Together Speed and Hamton drew away the smashed visor revealing Lord's face.

"Oh gosh" said Speed, turning away.

Lord's eyes were shut tightly, but his mouth hung open frozen in a howl of agony. Hamton looked and sniffled as he saw the silver cheeks soaked with clear wetness.

Art by Thorne

Hamton choked up and managed to say, "...He was crying."

Fifi collapsed on Lord's chest and cried her heart out and the others bowed their heads.

In the midst of a sob Fifi felt slight movement beneath her.

It happened again and a whisper crossed her ears.

"...Ohhh...not again..."

Everyone looked up and saw that Lord's mouth had closed.

They saw his muzzle twitch and heard him breathing again.

"HE'S ALIVE!! " shouted Hamton with joy.

Wakko bawled a flood of tears.

"I'm so happy!!" he sobbed ridiculously.

As Fifi watched, Lord's great silver eyes opened.

He beheld her joyful face and managed a weak smile.

"Lord, you're alive!!" she said beaming.

He swallowed and whispered "...It seems unavoidable."

Fifi was momentarily puzzled at this, till a smile broke across Lord's face.

Everyone laughed aloud as they helped him to sit up with support.

"Are tu alright?" Fifi asked.

Behind her, Hamton's ears pricked up, but he said nothing.

"Just exhausted" Lord whispered as he smiled with delight at her.

Fifi hugged him and asked, "You stopped... Why? "

Lord was silent as he looked into her deep purple eyes.

Then he grinned shyly and said,

"Personal reasons."

Look for the next Chapters of -

"A TIME TO EVERY PURPOSE UNTO HEAVEN"

coming to you soon.

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