The scents of Thanksgiving waft though the air making your mouths water and belly’s rumble and you head for the Conference Room. In a move from the usual you see a single Kraft table laid out today for everyone with coffee and all sort of hot fresh pastries though the seating for the Patrons still remains segregated.
Lethal adorned in a chef apron reading ‘Get Something Cooking…Sleep With the Chef!’ breezes in from someplace off stage bringing with him a new batch of mouth watering odors as he wipes his hands on the towel at his waist. He pauses only long enough to receive a mug of hot coffee from Diaman with a grateful nod of thanks, slurping it heavily as he makes his way back to the podium.
If we could get started please, I’ve a very busy day and you have a very full issue.
Thank you and good morning.
First let me say for any of you who do not know it that you are all invited to our annual DL-LL Digital Media Enterprises Corporate Thanksgiving Feast taking place tomorrow at 1 PM sharp. Those of you Patrons who which can partake of a cocktail and canapé hour from 12 to 1 prior to the feast. All the festivities will be held in our recently completed recreational facility’s main banquet hall and reception area. For those of you who wish to arrive early we will be accommodating guests with rooms and limited services starting at 6 PM tonight. A breakfast buffet will be available promptly at 8 AM and the majority of the Big screens in our many media rooms will be tuned into one of the many channels showing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade beginning at 9 AM.
After dinner those same rooms will be screening various new releases and several of the Bars and Pubs will have several different games tuned in for your viewing pleasure.
Check out will be Friday by noon CST latest or you will be detained and pressed into cleaning service as is our usual custom. Patrons your check out as always is by 3 PM.
Included in todays issues in a recounting of Impish’s Annual Attempt to gain entry for his snout and stomach to the Corporate kitchen where I have been hard at work for the express purpose of kibitzing and ’taste testing’ half the feast before it ever hits the table. It ran so long I was forced to break it into three parts rather than the normal two parts. If anyone has a problem with this I suggest they speak to Impish about either having less adventures or having ones that are significantly less entertaining so that I might gloss over a goodly portion of them when you see him tomorrow. Sadly he is not available today as I understand he’s presently involved in a very important pre-feast napping ritual or some other twaddle.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have a million things to oversee and as I said you have a very full issue. So until I see you all tomorrow-
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the characters of Atticus O’Sullivan & Granuaile MacTiernan, nor Oberon & Orlaith ( and what characters those last two are!). They are the property of author Kevin Hearne and all found in his Iron Druid series. They are used strictly in a fan fiction sense.
Impish sat quietly on his office terrace puffing a smoky treat and contemplating his half full cup of coffee. He was growing concerned. No he reflected, he was past concerned he was down right worried. Thanksgiving as far as he could tell wasn’t happening at DL-LL Digital Media Enterprises and that was a serious worry for him.
Didn’t Lethal understand that this was his big holiday? Molly and Mrs. Dragon had Christmas. He, Lethal and Molly did Halloween in a big way. Lethal of course kept St Patrick’s Day like it was religion (he knew that in Lethal’s eyes it was a religious holiday). Thanksgiving was his holiday however. What could possibly be better than presents you got to eat was the way he looked at it. Besides it was a day where gluttony was indulged, hell even expected!
Every November since Lethal had come on board as Chief of Operations it had become game of moves and countermoves with determining what the menu was for Thanksgiving as well as getting to have any input over it. Lethal claimed he was obsessed with it like a kid with Christmas. He like to call it Feasting Focused.
So far every year he’d come up on the losing end of the friendly battle of wits. Each year he tried stepping up his game and learning from the previous year. Each year Lethal brought an entirely new level of checks and countermoves.
So far this year Lethal had absolutely refused to indulge in even the briefest discussion
regarding Thanksgiving much less provide him a planned menu. In fact after the fifth or sixth time Impish thought he had creatively worked the subject into their conversation Lethal seemed to snap and went off on him.
I can’t believe he got so annoyed with me that he threatened to serve me and me alone “Turkey Roll and Tofu shaped into simulated Turkeys with Savory Bulgur and Vegetable Stuffing.” I tried calling his bluff and he produced a series of photos for the Thanksgiving issue showing a very convincing turkey cake telling me it would be no harder to do than the cake was.. Then he showed me Whole Foods or some yuppie place Thanksgiving menu with a bunch of other terrible things to accompany the faux turkey. I’m not even sure what some of that is since its apparently not any thing that a self respecting dragon eats. However I’m positive that if it all goes with Tofu it can’t be edible. I was forced to back off trying to help yet again just in order to protect my Thanksgiving Dinner that I might not even be getting! How unfair is that! Impish fumed.
Fortunately he thought he had a few reversers and monkey wrenches to throw into Lethal’s plans this year. He’d been secretly reading all those Agent 44-DD Field Craft and Tech manuals every night at bed time for several months now looking for things that might give him an edge. To his surprise, he’d actually learned and remembered quite a bit. He never thought he had the next morning thinking back on what he’d read the night before, but whenever he needed a relevant bit of information it was right there in a little voice in the back of his head sounding just like the manual the information came from. The real suprise however was his most closely held secret, one that he’d not let on to anyone. He had an ally this year someone with a turkey fixation almost matching his.
He remembered the shock he’d felt when he tracked down the culprit that was filching one of his bakers dozen of Subway Double Meat Turkey Bacon and Cheese subs. He’d never expected him of being a turkey devotee much less being able to eat that much turkey and bacon in a single sitting. Brutus apparently had two hollow rear legs when it came to the prized holiday poultry. Once discovered, a deal was suitably struck for the divvying of any and all bounty gained and he had his ally in Turkey Thievery. Not that to this point it had prove to produce any results. True Brutus was basically invisible when it came to skulking and snooping around the kitchens but he was also easily bought off and distracted from his missions. A bit of cat nap, the fleeting tail of a mouse or the sniff of fresh fish and his mission lost its priority..
Still there was his last Ace up his wing. Wandering about late one night while attempting to sniff out any hint of Thanksgiving and having no success, Impish ahd reflected that in times past he’s adjourn to his nearest pie vault and console himself with several seasonal pies. after having this thought it occurred to him he was a mere half corridor away from one of his former pie vaults all of which Lethal had commandeered saying he had no further use for them and leaving them in his possession would invite backsliding. He wondered what it was being used for now, possibly the storage of Thanksgiving related food stuffs? There were hermetically sealed to prevent anyone for smelling out the location of one after all which would make them the perfect storage space for things they didn’t want him finding.
To his surprise the scent that struck his nose when he opened it wasn’t of food stuffs but of manufactured goods and machinery. All the crates cases and boxes bore the logo
of D.R.A.GO.N. on them. apparently lethal was using at least a few of the old pie vaults to cache some of the supplies devices and materials of D.R.A.GO.N. while it was in hiding and Impish had no doubt he was making a profit at it besides. As he turned to leave the vault a clipboard hanging from a nail beside the door caught his eye. A manifest of goods stored in the room? Might be worth a look see. As Impish checked the list that voice started talking in its monotone text book voice in the back of his head and a plan began to form on how this year Impish would finally breach the kitchens and get his pre Thanksgiving taste inspect he’d been denied for many years.
Suddenly Impish’s rumination was interrupted with the arrival of an excited four pound furry missile in his lap purring very loudly and looking quite excitedly up at Impish.
“You able to make the deal?” Brutus very deliberately nods his head. “The accept my terms?” Brutus shook his ears. Impish sighed. “What did they want?” Brutus pawed twice at Impish’s chest. ” Please tell me that means one each not two each?” Again Brutus very deliberately nods his head. “Ok a little tough but still doable. So then everything is ready right?” Brutus stares at Impish a moment with his head cocked to the side as if considering this question before responding with an emphatic ‘MAOW!’ then jumps up on to Impish’s shoulder, turns around, settles down then reaches out to take a whack at the cigar in Impish’s mouth.
Chuckling Impish carefully puts out the cigar before getting up to walk into his office, firmly closing and locking the doors behind him. He places Brutus on the corner of his desk while he busies himself loading a bunch of things into the pockets of his vest from a locked trunk in to corner of the room, including what appears to be a very large bore pistol. He returns to the desk opens a large pocket front and center on it and looking at Brutus softly calls out “All aboard that’s coming aboard!”
Brutus immediately leaps up and dives into the pouch, turns around and assumes a head and paws out posture. Impish smiles as he leans to push a button on his phone.
‘Terrance? Hold my calls and no interruptions please for about 3 hours. Damned cat’s purring has made me want a nap.” Impish releases the button without waiting for a response, presses another button then nods as the snick of the electronic deadbolts engages can be faintly heard. “Now my little furry pal let’s go find us the location of Thanksgiving dinner and pull a surprise taste inspection.”
God Bless Guys!
Look closer, this is no Turkey
Right now you’re looking at a beautiful cake. That’s right, this succulent looking roasted turkey was made from scratch by cake artist Yolanda Gampp. As to why Yolanda created this masterpiece, according to her, “I wanted to make a turkey cake that was realistic enough that you would be really expecting it to taste like meat. My not-so-secret passion is making faux food cakes (cake that looks like other food).”
Here you are looking at the finished project. But let’s take it back to the beginning…
Stack layers of vanilla cake put sideways. Carve it into a turkey shape. Don’t forget the wings.
Perfect turkey form.
Drape with colored fondant icing.
Press with shelf liners (seriously) to get that turkey skin texture. Pro tip.
Paint on that roasted skin color look using ivory & copper and then later “Buckeye-Brown” food coloring gel.
Dust sporadically with cocoa powder. Especially the parts that get crispy in the oven
No turkey is complete without stuffing – poundcake stuffing!
Carve and serve!
Experience the Blue Angels in 360-degree video
A little something to keep Impish occupied and out of the kitchens for an hour… I hope.
What you should know about Wal-Mart’s $10 smartphone deal
By Hayley Tsukayama, The Washington Post
Wal-Mart is making headlines this week for selling a pair of Android smartphones for $10 a pop; a low price any way you slice it. The LG Lucky and LG Sunrise phones are both in the bargain bin — as Ars Technica noted, they are essentially the same phone, apart from the types of cellular networks with which they cooperate.
They have a list price of $60 on Amazon, so this is a pretty deep discount. Both are prepaid models from Tracfone, so you’ll have to pay for service. As PC Magazine notes, Tracfone has a fairly strict unlocking policy, so consumers should also know that these phones will be tied to that network for at least a year.
As for the phones themselves, consumers should manage their expectations with prices this low. Sure, you are getting a smartphone for less than the cost of a loaded Chipotle burrito; that’s kind of amazing in and of itself, even with strings attached. But don’t expect premium features.
According to Wal-Mart’s Web site, the phones have a 3.8-inch touchscreen and are capable of connecting to WiFi and 3G networks — but not 4G. They’re also behind by a few versions of Android, running KitKat instead of the latest version, Marshmallow. (Android releases are named alphabetically.) Users can, however, add their own microSD card to augment the 4 GB of included storage on the phones. There’s no front-facing camera, so selfies will take some acrobatics. (Or a mirror.)
Basically, these won’t be anyone’s idea of a dream gadget. But they are suited to someone looking for a phone that’s very cheap and very basic. If you’re a tinkerer, perhaps, or just someone looking for a low-fuss phone, it may be at least worth checking it out.
Humming the theme from Mission Impossible softly, [See? I TOLD YOU that video wasn’t out of place!- L.L.] Impish crosses his office as quietly as possible then listens at his private exit door momentarily while using the pin hole camera he had liberated from the D.R.A.G.O.N. stash and installed in the corridor to check for guards or other activity. It was clear except for two very large Irish wolfhounds at the far end of the corridor. Impish carefully opened the door he’d recently oiled slowly and quietly so as not to make any noise. He carefully pushed a cart out the doorway so as not to bang it on the doorframe. It had passed through with only a scant 1/2 an inch on either side when he’d snuck it in and hidden it in his washroom. Moving with purpose and as much stealth as he could muster he headed directly to the freight elevator.
It bore a large ‘OUT OF ORDER’ sign on it as it did every year come this time. Sparing the Irish wolfhounds a swift glance as he opened the doors to the elevator and seeing they were still watching the other corridor Impish pushed the heavy cart inside then followed it himself while extracting a thin slivery rod from his vest which he placed to his lips momentarily and blew into very gently. Immediately two large furry heads at the end of the corridor whipped around to look for the source of the sound. With one last backwards glance each toward the corridor both came at a trot down the hallway and into the elevator.
Impish slide the door closed. Placed a piece of prepared card board over the small window in the elevator door and secured it with a strip of duct tape helpfully cut off the rolls with a lighting fast swipe if a small paw sporting a single exposed claw. Removing a powered screw driver Impish went to work on the elevator’s panel opening it. He knew the elevator was not really out of order. It was simply in ‘Fire Mode’ and therefore controlled from the Security Office manually. Fortunately Impish had found a toy in the D.R.A.G.O.N. stash that would deal with that for him, a manual control box meant for fireman and elevator service men. He removed it from his vest and inserted the connector in the thoughtfully labeled ‘ Override’ port on the now exposed control board and thumbed the down button hopefully. The elevator started descending, the number on the display suddenly clicking down one, it worked! The two dogs whined unhappily at being confined in the moving box. Impish withdrew 2 sticks of Buffalo jerky from his pouch and tossed them to the dogs. The whining ceased replaced by the sounds of tails swishing and jerky gnawing.
The basement level light lit up on the hand control and Impish carefully watched the count reverse until it hit 4 and stopped the elevator handing the unit over the control panel’s open door. Again using the screw driver Impish carefully removed the screws from the frame holding the safety glass in the window of the elevator door being sure that the duct tape would hold the frame in place until he was ready to displace it.
Breaking a pair of light sticks and shaking them, he tossed them to the back of the elevator’s floor where they would provide minimal lighting with out showing before flicking the control panel lighting and ventilation switch to ‘Off’. He with drew the pistol he’d brought carefully and turned it’s electronic sights on. Then sticking it momentarily in the pocket with Brutus for him to hold there he carefully removed the glass for the elevator door, placing it atop his cart. Peering out the narrow opening Impish saw the motion sensor at the far end of the hallway as well as the camera mounted above it and smiled. Taking the pistol from Brutus who had rubbed his good luck scent all over it industriously in the last 30 seconds he turned the pistol sideways and slowly stuck the barrel out the window. He had to fire the pistol ‘Ghetto-style’ because the window was too narrow to allow him to use the sights the other way.
It had taken him nearly half a day and all the ammo and Co2 he’d helped himself to the first time to get the pistol properly sighted in to shoot accurately like this necessitating a second trip back to the gear stash. This had turned out to be as fortuitous as it had risky as Impish had spotted two additional pieces of equipment on the list when he was checking to find the proper crates for the ammo and CO2 tanks. Those two piece became the lynch pins of his plan and were currently behind him on the cart covered over. He aimed carefully and fired. HIT! Still part of the sensor was not quite covered in the silicone and Mylar confetti. Impish took no chances and fired again. Another hit.
Pulling the pistol back inside Impish switched out the tube of paintballs for a different one before re-extending the pistol and taking aim at the camera. This time it took two shots before the paintball hit the camera lens. The crazy glue and tinsel mixture would make security think the camera had shorted out again. This periodically happened in the high heat and humidity environment around the kitchen so it wouldn’t be attributed to him though it did mean that soon someone would come to inspect and repair or replace it so he couldn’t assault the kitchen unseen.
Stowing the pistol its job now done. Impish removed a length of paracord with a small carabineer and harness attached from his vest. Immediately Brutus started grumbling. “Oh hush up already! You want to appear wuss like in front of those two wolfhounds? Dogs gossip you know, you’ll ruin your street cred in a heart beat. Beside you don’t have to wear the harness any longer than it takes for you to do the job. Now quit yer caterwauling and get in it we’re on a clock here. Eyes on the prize.” Impish chided Brutus while struggling to get the squirming cat into the harness. Once in the harness Impish opened the door about a foot then stopped and listened. Nodding to himself that everything was still quiet and that there was in fact plenty of noise coming from the kitchen…along with a faint hint of… his tail began quivering…was that the scent of turkey he detected? Three other noses were now working as well and an additional 3 quivering tails told him the story. Despite all the precautions there was a weak scent of turkey in the air down here. Impish place Brutus carefully on the edge of the bottom door. He looked at Brutus and said ‘you ready?’ Brutus nodded once. “Remember the trouble signal?” Another more emphatic and impatient nod. OK lil bud here we go then good luck.
Brutus wiggle his butt backwards over the edge of the door until he was hanging on only by his front claws, then with a nearly silent ‘Meow!’ Brutus let go of the door altogether, his weight now supported by the paracord attached to his harness. Impish carefully let out line until he felt it go slack then let the line pay out on it’s own as Brutus made his way down the side corridor looking for more motion sensors and cameras. A long minute later another soft ‘Meow!” Impish missed until Oberon nudged him and pawed at the door came. Impish opened the door all the way and Brutus trailing paracord scampered back into the elevator. Impish picked him up removed the harness and stuck him back in his vest where Brutus returned to his preferred position.
Impish smiled, he was in business. Looking at the two wolfhounds Impish said “Ok you two know you’re job, get to it. Same recall as before.” The two wolfhound lope out the elevator door and down the hall in the direction Brutus had just returned from to keep watch at the end of the corridor just like before though both paused a moment to get a better sniff of the food smells now much more clearly noticeable since the opening to the door all the way. Oberon tentatively took several step in the direction of the smells before a quick nip of his quivering tail by Orlaith broke the smells spell over him and returned his attention to the task at hand.
“Eyes on the prize guys, I’m counting on you to keep my rear surprise free. Orlaith you need to keep Oberon from getting to distracted by his stomach for me.” This received an affirmative ‘wwwwooof’ from Orlaith and a soft ‘chuff’ from Oberon. Impish again gestured down the corridor and the pair trotted off to assume their post.
The final chapter will come later. Right now all this talk of food has made me hungry!
I swear my local grocery stores are starting to look like this!
Total Time: 1 hr 12 min | Prep: 15 min | Cook: 57 min | Yield: 6 to 8 servings
12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.
Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cheesy Bacon Pull Aparts
These don’t have to just be breakfast. They go great with salads, soups or chili as well
1 can (10 pieces) refrigerated Homestyle Biscuits
5 Tbsp. butter
1½ tsp. Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix Packet
½ tsp. onion powder
1½ cups Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
1 package (11-13 pieces) Fully Cooked Bacon, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Line a 13”x9” baking sheet with foil. Coat foil well with cooking spray.
Cut the 10 slices of biscuits into 8 pieces each.
In small mixing bowl, melt butter in microwave for 1 minute or until liquefied.
Stir in seasoning mix and onion powder. Mix thoroughly.
Space the sliced biscuits on the baking sheet approximately ½” apart.
Spoon on butter mixture. Sprinkle on cheese and bacon.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool for about 3 minutes.
Pull apart and serve warm.
Turn Cookies Into a Pie Crust in Under a Minute
Just in time for the holidays, Chef Sarah Sanneh from Pies ‘n’ Thighs in Brooklyn tells you how to turn store bought cookies into a delicious pie crust in a minute or less.
The History Behind Some of Your Favorite Holiday Dishes
Julius Caesar and his friends found the British drink in 55 BCE. Europeans brought the tradition to the New World, where it was such a huge hit that the trees Johnny Appleseed was planting were specifically to make cider. In the early 20th century, improved refrigeration allowed us to drink the unfermented juice of apples, which led to Americans calling non-alcoholic juice cider, even though the rest of the English-speaking world only used the word for alcoholic beverages.
Pumpkin goes all the way back to 9000 years ago in Mexico, and was cultivated by Native Americans for centuries. Before modern food preservation methods, pumpkin was roasted or boiled and mixed with pie-like ingredients to make it last longer. It’s thought that the Pilgrims made a similar dish but without the crust.
Green bean casserole
Since the late 19th century, Americans have loved creamed veggies. The modern version of the classic dish was standardized by Campbell’s in 1955 to promote one of their soups. They’re totally okay with the trend being to only make the dish for Thanksgiving, because they estimate the company makes $20 million just off cream of mushroom soup at this time.
Whether or not you call it stuffing or dressing, the first mention of stuffing meat with something for extra flavor shows up in a collection of recipes by Apicius. The ancient cook suggested stuffing hares, dormice, chickens, sardines and squid. Eventually the concept of stuffing meat with meat became very popular among the French. Today, most chefs stick to non-meat fillings.
Stuffed Dormice? Here I thought Impish’s dining habits were abominable!
Many say the French created the dessert after they came to New Orleans in 1718 and were surrounded by pecan trees. However, the first recipe showed up in the late 19th century and was actually referred to as “Texas pecan pie.” The dark rich filling we’re used to today was created by Karo Syrup company in the 1930s when a sales executive’s wife apparently came up with a new way of using corn syrup.
Sweet potatoes with marshmallows
At the turn of the 20th century, marshmallows were very expensive because they were handmade. Because of this, cooking with the ingredient was very trendy, and a 1917 recipe booklet is what made the idea of using them in sweet potatoes really stick.
Cranberries are harvested mid-September to mid-November, just in time to consume during the holidays, whether you want to or not. Marcus L. Urann first canned the berries in 1912 as a way to extend their short selling season, and created a jelly that acted as a sauce when heated up
Must have been a couple Colts players!
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual parade presented by the U.S.-based department store chain Macy’s. The tradition started in 1924, tying it for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States with America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit (with both parades being four years younger than the 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia). The three-hour Macy’s event is held in New York City starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thanksgiving Day, and has been televised nationally on NBC since 1952.
America’s favorite holiday tradition will once again kick off the season of joy as the 89th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade returns to march down the streets of New York on Thursday, November 26 (9 a.m.-noon in all time zones). Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker of NBC’s “TODAY” will anchor the broadcast.
As millions celebrate the holiday with family and friends, more than 8,000 participants – including clowns, balloon handlers and marching bands – will travel through Manhattan to the sound of the iconic catchphrase “Let’s Have a Parade.” With more than 3.5 million spectators and over 50 million television viewers nationwide, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the nation’s most celebrated and anticipated holiday treat.
Stars of film, television, stage, sports and music will provide the nation with first-class performances. Joining the festivities this year are Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Mariah Carey, Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson, Cirque du Soleil, Daughtry, Andra Day, Andy Grammer, Sandra Lee, Shawn Mendes, MercyMe, Mipso, Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell, Jennifer Nettles, NHL legends Mark and Marty Howe, Jake Owen, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T’s, Rachel Platten, Questlove with the cast and the Muppets of “Sesame Street,” Prince Royce, the cast of Broadway’s “School of Rock,” Trey Songz, Jordin Sparks, Chica and the gang from Sprout and Train.
The Radio City Rockettes will help kick off the festivities, which will also showcase theatrical productions “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Finding Neverland,” “The King & I,” “On Your Feet!” and “Something Rotten.” In addition, spectators will get a sneak preview performance from NBC’s “The Wiz Live!,” which premieres Thursday, December 3 (8 p.m. ET/PT).
“This is what I’m reduced to, cuckolded by a Leprechaun in my own mountain and forced to consort with cats and dogs for help, sheesh!…OWW! Present company excluded Brutus! Damn that hurt!” Brutus regards him momentarily with one eye before fixing his attention of the paw and claws he just used on Impish uttering a very brief ‘Meh!’ before beginning to clean it thoroughly.
Impish uncover the cart now places a small tubular device with a wheel on each end on the floor after switching it on and picks up a control box which he also switches on. “Now lets see what this years gauntlet of defenses has in store for me.” Working the control panel the device wizzes out of the elevator and down the short hallway stopping just at the corner before pivoting right on one wheel slowly ‘cutting the pie’ in military parlance the small flat voice in the back of Impish’s head directs. watching the screen on the control panel Impish fiddles with several dials and squints at the screen muttering softly to himself “can’t make out a bloody thing at this resolution but if I raise it I’ll lose situational awareness and navigational perspective damn it. Wait! I know! I know! Give me a moment already!” he says to the flat voice only he can hear.
As Impish looks through the equipment on the cart Brutus looks around for whoever it is Impish is talking to baffledly. Impish suddenly cries softly “Yes! Got them!” then hurriedly dons a visor and plugs it into the control panel before dropping the visor over his eyes. “Just give me a second to get used to them already” Impish grumbles.
“Yup much clearer detail now. Okay, proceeding with floor level trip wire and pressure plate scan.” After about 5 minutes of manipulating the controls Brutus gets restless and head butts Impish in the chest. “Easy now! I’m just about a third of the way down the corridor and so far nothing at ground level that I can see with the camera. Be patient will ya? How’d you like to be me? You’ve been waiting 9 days I’ve been waiting 9 years for…HEY! What the hell just happened? Everything is black, well green and fuzzy really. It doesn’t seem like the rover is responding to the controls I can’t see any movement in the picture.”
He raises the visor and reaches for another harness, this one with a GoPro camera attached on the back and starts attaching it to the again protesting and squirming Brutus. “Brutus go peek around the corner while I get Tinker Bell ready. See if you can
get a picture of what happened to Rover. Quit belly aching, get it done and there is a salmon jerky tidbit in it for you.” This perks up Brutus’s ears and gains his co-operation. “Don’t go around that corner until we know what happened to Rover.” cautions Impish as he clips the paracord safety line to the new harness and insures the other end is firmly attached to his vest. Brutus starts down the hall as Impish turns back to the cart and busies himself with preparing another remotely operated vehicle, this one airborne.
A minute later a sharp tug on the paracord interrupts his preflight of the ROV. “OK, ok one second.” Impish wakes a tablet and looks at the image. The hallway appears just as it did when he saw it through Rover’s camera, totally empty, totally innocent and most worriedly no Rover is in sight. The picture starts moving slowly down the hall. Impish hurriedly steps on the paracord halting Brutus’s progress. Grabbing the cord where it attaches to his vest he gathers up the slack before taking his foot off and beginning to haul Brutus back who is struggling to go forward desperately. Half way back down the hall he stops trying spins around and launches himself down the hall at Impish snarling. Impish stands impassively waiting. Just as Brutus unsheathes his sharps, gives his war cry and coils to leap at Impish his hand flicks up and Brutus encounters the icy cold stream from the business end of a small Super Soaker water pistol right in the face. The effect is immediate and the cat that lands on Impish chest hardly resembles the snarling howling spitting furry demonic un-cuddly of moments ago.
Impish drops the Super Soaker and produces a microfiber chamois. Before beginning to dry Brutus off he asks “You better now? We good? Now you know why I was so insistent on the tether and harness. I didn’t put it past Lethal to have some sort of anti Ninja Kitty component to his trap gauntlet. If I let you go you’d have wound up with no nip and I’d have probably lost you to where ever Rover went.” Mumbled (or is that grumbled) cat responses can be heard from under the microfiber cloth as Impish dries Brutus off as best he can before removing the GoPro and depositing him back in his pouch on Impish’s chest. He does not remove the harness or the tether just in case Brutus has second thoughts. “Here finish drying off in there and see if you can’t find something in the bottom of the pouch to improve your mood too. You got me what I needed so I paid off on my promise.”
Impish completed the preflight of Tinker Bell expertly with the assistance of the monotone commentary in his ears. He sent it whizzing softly down the hall, slowing it before it hit the corner to a momentary hover so he could done the visor and attach it to Tinker Bell’s controller. He carefully side slipped the hovering drone around the corner, one claw on the return home button should anything appear amiss. Nothing. Just like what the feline based GoPro showed, an empty pristine corridor.
With a flash of inspiration Impish hit the return function button which brought Tinker Bell zipping back to him to hover 2 feet distant. Carefully opening the pocket with Brutus who by the feel of things was still engaged in cleaning and drying himself he address the cat. “Hey pal listen, for your own safety I need to lock your pocket for a little while ok? I need the tether and I don’t need to worry about you getting another whiff of faux nip if I’m moving around near the end of the corridor ok?” Brutus stopped licking his paw long enough to cast a baleful eye at Impish and grumble at the interruption before returning the the important task at hand. Impish sighed and was set to try a second time when Brutus looked up grumbled and turned himself so Impish could unhook the tether dodging a half hearted swipe and him as he withdrew. In response as he closed and secured the flap he addressed the cat a final time. “You know with your surly attitude they really should have named you Grumble Guts.” The nylon buckle snicked closed on the pouch just as Brutus surged up at the flap. “Cranky cranky! Bet your blood sugar is low. You should really eat something Brutus!”
Impish attaches the tether to the drone before flying it back down the hall. Maybe he can yank it out of harms way or at least locate the trap by the tether line this time. Rounding the corner and coming to a hover Impish pans the hall way looking for… whatever stood out or appeared too innocuous. Still nothing. He zoomed the camera in some. There! Faint tread prints from Rover on the floor! Keeping the ROAV about 6 feet off floor height he carefully focused on and followed the tread marks down the hallway until they just stopped. Just stopped.
Impish taking his own advice pulled a six inch Subway Club from his vest and popped it in his mouth to chew while he contemplated the problem. Carefully he scanned the floor and walls back a safe distance from the spot where the tread marks stopped. He couldn’t see anything out of sorts, maybe a few new scuff marks along the walls, but given the area’s usage, that would hardly be considered out of place. Then he spotted it, dark green flecks on the floor, not a lot but certainly enough know how high a grade cat nip Lethal bought to catch and capture the attention of any cat to come near. It started just about where the Rover’s tracks stopped. Impish was maneuvering Tinker Bell for a closer look when his hand twitched and sent to ROAV side slipping past the tracks. He saw a flash on the screen, a quick impression of an image not related to the Hallway and then…black screen again.
Impish sighed deeply. Opening Brutus’s pouch he extracted the ninja kitty and placed him on the cart still semi laden with gadgets. “Stay here. Keep watch on the tablet. If I suddenly disappear, get the hounds and get out. Keep your mouths shut and I’ll still pay off when I finally get back. We clear?” He instructed Brutus while clipping the GoPro camera to his vest. Brutus tail stands to rub his head against Impish’s hand. “I know pal, we’re good, I didn’t mean that Grumble Guts comment either. I’m just going to use the old Mark 1 Mod 0 eyeballs on the situation but I think we’re about to hear the fat lady sing. I can’t combat this level of magical trap, I’m just not prepared for it. Back in a couple minutes…I hope. If not you know the drill.”
He waddled down the hall hugging the near wall as silently as possible then craned his head carefully around the corner. As he expected the paracord led right up to where the tire treads stopped and the nip started but he saw nothing else. Or did he? Was that a faint shimmer right at the end of the paracord? Could it be touching the very edge of the trap and tickling it somehow? He fished around in his vest before he located what he was looking for, a pair of Steampunk looking goggles reminiscent of very old welders goggles. WHen D.R.A.G.O.N. had gone into hiding he’d complied with the order to turn in all his gear, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, placing everything in her boot. Everything that is except these goggles. They came in handy flying in bad weather were comfortable and even back then he’d thought that their special feature might come in handy for this assault.
Donning them and fitting them carefully to his eyes, he began adjusting the right one, one click at a time. “U.V.- nothing. I.R.- nothing. Enhanced light spectrum- yup there’s that flicker quite clearly. Spectral spectrum-nothing. Magical Wavelength filter—WHOA! Jackpot! Will you look at that!” Impish stared at what the goggles were showing him. Runes, lots of runes, covering a ten by ten section of the floor ceiling and both walls to form a sort of tunnel. Impish in his time had seen a lot of runes, these we nothing like any of those. These were not Lethal’s work either he guessed, somehow these were similar but different from the ones Lethal used, older and drawing form a different power source. Impish reached into his pocket and produced a golf ball, rolling it down the hallway toward the runes. The flash nearly blinded him before the goggle reacted by darkening but not before Impish got the Impression of a familiar locale. When the goggles cleared the scene was the same with no golf ball to be seen.
His shoulder drooped as he turned shuffling back down the hall lost in thought and listening to the monotone lecture in his ear as various thoughts popped into his head. His vest was designed to defeat/shield and protect him from all but the most powerful magical attacks on his person but the note from Wizard Dresden had been very specific these attacks has to be personal ones. It didn’t protect him from what he termed ‘area effect spells’. Clearly teleportation spell traps fell into this category. Still he thought he might be able to attack the problem from the other end if the trap worked in both directions.
Arriving at the elevator he took the tablet from Brutus and connected it to Tinker Bell’s controller to download the video. Then he scrolled to the last few frames and played them frame by frame. Finding what he was looking for he menu scrolls to ‘auto-enhance’. The result when the image clears makes him almost drop the tablet.
“OH CRAP! HELLS NO!” he exclaims. Looking at Brutus who had “Meh?”at him, he turned the tablet so he could see. Instantly Brutus puffed up and yowled “Nooo!” Impish chuckled, “You ain’t just yowling Dixie there kiddo. No is right. Go get the hounds. We’re folding this operation and extracting. The fat lady is singing her aria and it’s time to beat the rush to the doors.”
Brutus jumped down, to scamper off swiftly down the hall as Impish briskly pulled in the remnants of the paracord tether and began swiftly stowing his gear back on the cart. He was nearly finished when he felt a cold wet nose prod his hip. “Good we’re almost ready to get out of Dodge, just keep an eye out while I cover this stuff over and we’ll…HEY!” Impish rubbed his hip where he’d just been nipped and turned around “What the hell is wr… Brutus what’s up?” Brutus was quivering and dancing about on the back of Orlaith while Oberon looked eagerly back down the hall and whined plaintively. “MEH! MAOW! Purrrr!” responded Brutus also looking back down the hall.
The animals turned about took several steps down the hall and stopped regarding Impish over their respective shoulders all tails wagging or twitching. Chuckling softly Impish made to follow after grabbing the Super Soaker pistol and loading another bottle of ice water in it, securing it opposite of the paintball gun which he also loaded. “Ok you bunch of MacDuffs, lead on.”
They proceeded down the hall and to Impish’s surprise rounded the corner. A short way down the corridor there was an open door….to the back storage room of the kitchen? “Where did? When did? Who? SERIOUSLY?! All this time I’ve been busting a nut trying a frontal assault and there is an open and unguarded back door???!!” He had to stop mid rant to swallow, as the smell coming from the kitchen was much stronger here and he was beginning to salivate. His moment of victory was finally here. At long last he’d finally beaten Lethal at his own game!
He rushed inside and through the storage area calling out loudly, “Alright Listen Up! Who’s in charge here? This is a surprise tasting inspection of Thanksgiving dinner and…” he tapered off after blasting through the swinging double doors that separated the storage area from the kitchen at the sight that greeted him, or rather failed to greet him. Nobody. Nothing, save a lone large pot slowly simmering on the stove. Despite his eyes telling him the kitchen was empty, his ears reported a bustling busy kitchen and his nose reported a Thanksgiving feast in full preparation.
He stood perplexed for a moment. To say this was unexpected was right up there with Truman defeating Dewy. Why so heavily defend an empty kitchen and why were all his senses except his eyes telling him the kitchen was active? A sudden suspicion ran a chill down his spine. A trap! This was another trap! Spinning around and dashing back into the storage area he was greeted by a solid wall where the doorway had been mere moments ago. Donning his goggles he immediately confirmed his suspicions ,residual magical energies were slowly ebbing out of the wall. Another rune portal, this one open to show what was on the other side, exactly what he wanted to see. Lethal had played him for a Rube and he’d swallowed the bait whole in a single gulp.
Dejectedly he turned and shuffled back into the kitchen. Removing the goggles and carefully stowing them, he searched for the source of the working kitchen sounds. What he found was so utterly old school simplistic he had to admit his begrudging admiration for the technique. There on the second shelf of a cart sat a Portable AM/FM 8 Track player from the early 70’s shaped like an egg with a 8 Track stuffed in and running. 4 stereo tracks 20 minutes in duration each, he paused to check, yup, randomly shuffled between. He could have spent most of the day listening before he realized it was a taped loop. Speaker wires ran up the wall to a speaker over the unit and one on the opposite wall giving anyone listening from outside the impression of movement within the seemingly busy working kitchen. Impish pulled the 8 track tape out. Instantly the kitchen fell deathly, silent save for the soft sound of the simmering stock pot which now drew his attention.
Impish went to the stove, removed the lid from the pot and peered in. Carrot tops, celery bottoms, tops and bottoms off of onions, tops off several other root vegetables Impish could not identify beyond the fact they were root vegetables. A bound bunch of green fragrant thinks and black pebbles in some sort of cloth tied to the handle of the pot with string like a roll your own tea bag of some kind. Turkey wing tips, what looked like a couple possibly smoked turkey legs, necks, gizzards and were those turkey backs? All slowly simmering about 2 inches below the surface of the liquid in the pan which Impish suspected was a mixture of water, chicken base and white wine. A Thanksgiving potpourri. More bait for the trap…no wait! Not bait for the trap! This would be the the stock Lethal would use to make his family’s secret stuffing recipe! What ever was left over would be combined with actual turkey drippings to make the gravy! So there was going to be a Thanksgiving dinner after all!
The voice so startled Impish when it spoke he nearly wet himself coming from the other side of the counter directly behind him. “It gently stirs the pot every 15 minutes. It carefully skims the scum every thirty minutes before it stirs. Thrice around the clock it does this. It carefully strains the stock” The crones bone finger pointed at the waiting pot and fine mesh strainer sitting in an ice bath waiting on a cart. “Removes the strainer for it to enjoy it does but not before it wheels the stock into the cooler. If the tasks it completes joins us it does for the feast. Should it fail much time to spend in regret will it have on the ‘morrow.” The crone began slowly fading from view, if indeed she’d even been real to start with, but not before uttering one last sentence in her quavering fingernails on chalkboard voice. “Seek you your prize in the cabinet of keeping.”
Impish shuddered involuntarily, the meaning of both her words of warning and Lethal’s now clear to him. Lethal had cautioned him that he had no time for Impish’s game this year and that he’d spend a great deal of time in regret if he stubbornly persisted in perusing his quest to insert his snout and stomach in the Thanksgiving preparations. Just now the crone had used nearly the same words ‘much time to spend in regret will it have’ The meaning was now crystal clear to Impish. Regret was the name of the cabin he’d stayed in at the Hokey Pokey Clinic and the menu Lethal had shown him was exactly the sort of thing Gunny Hartman would take perverse pleasure in serving him for the holiday.
Still there was the matter of the crones last words ‘Seek you your prize in the cabinet of keeping.’ What the hell was a cabinet of keeping and where would it be found in a kitchen? A buzzer sounded and the crones voice came once more to his ears, this time from the radio he’d removed the 8 track tape from. ” It skims the scum from the pot!” Impish without thinking hastened to comply. As thickheaded, stubborn and fixated as he could be, even he could recognize when he was outclassed by several classes and he most definitely was outclassed. This was even out of Lethal’s class and therefore not to be messed around with. Having removed the scum from the top of the stock he carried the ladle and bowl to the sink to rinse so as not to contaminate the stock at the next skimming. On his way he bumped up against a hot box, a large heated metal box used to keep food warm while on the way to the dining areas or until ready for service once there the monotone voice told him. Impish stiffed suddenly at the sink.
A cabinet of keeping!
Hastily finishing rinsing out the bowl and ladle he returned them to the stove before practically dancing over the the hot box. Taking a deep breath to steady his nerves he unlatched the door. The odor that hit him was like the sweetest narcotic. Is eyes dilated, his tongue protruded from his mouth and began spattering the floor with droplets of saliva. Affixed in a plastic pouch to the inside of the door was a list of all the items in the box, presumably representing a sampling of everything to be had tomorrow at the annual Thanksgiving feast.
Well, sort of.
Out in the corridor Brutus stood frantically scratching at the stone wall where moments before Impish had walked into the back door of the kitchen the two hounds had found. Suddenly he became aware of something happening behind him. The two wolfhounds quickly weren’t wolfhounds any longer. In their place stretching cramped limbs were Atticus O’Sullivan & Granuaile MacTiernan the funny smelling humans that came with the two great wolfhounds. Granuaile reached down and grabbed Brutus by the scruff before he could even run off, placing him gently in the crook of her arm, calming him and assuring him in soft words that Impish was just fine, safe and would be momentarily very very happy once he discovered his prize. Then she reached into a small pouch at her waist and pulled out a pinch of something that made Brutus totally forget his friend. Sprinkling it on his head and in the corner of her arm Granuaile smiled as Brutus became immersed in cat nipped compliant bliss.
Atticus smiled as he stretched his back some more. “Lethal was right again, much as I hate to admit it. An opportunity for front row seats to a show of that entertainment level really doesn’t happen but once in a life time. I’m glad he talked us into staying on and helping him with this.”
“Do you think he knows it was us?”
“Not a chance. If we fooled Brutus here we definitely fooled Impish. He’ll never suspect it was us all along that he made his bargain with though he might a little more than suspect the rune work was our doing. From what I understand however Lethal frequently subcontracts that sort of thing out so we should be good. Now what do you say we take the opportunity to raid Impish’s office and see if we can locate his stash of Buffalo jerky? That stuff was pretty darned good and I’m feeling a bit hungry. Then will go rescue Lethal from the clutches of Oberon and Orlaith or vice versa.”