Prologue – Time Zone: Unknown
The clear blue eyes of Joanie Navarro finally snapped open after being closed for some time. Gasping for air, the odor of burning metal plagued her nostrils and forced her to cough. She rolled to her side, draining every bit of it all out. Just from that gesture, she felt a throbbing pain at the side of her head, which undoubtedly came from the earlier "fiasco." Something happened that she could not recollect completely, and the condition of the room was clear evidence of that.
All of the machinery in Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's basement laboratory was destroyed, ravaged in flames and twisted into scraps. The Magic Gateway, his reality-bending/time-swapping invention, was demolished in the process, consumed in fire just like everything else and looked to be melting away. But that seemed impossible to Joanie, as the fire was not intense enough to melt the metal of the machine. Then it hit her - that queen melted it with her evil magic...to prevent Joanie from going after her, after she banished the others into another unknown dimension.
I've got to get off my butt and save them, she desperately thought. Of course, that was easier said than done, considering the incredible amount of pain she was in. She did all that she could just to keep the room from spinning. There was no way that she would be capable of performing any heroic deed at that time.
And then she heard a familiar moan nearby.
"Dr. Honeydew?" She said with a hoarse voice. Swallowing hard to clear out all the dryness in her throat, she looked to where she heard the moans come from and gathered all the strength she could to pull herself off the cluttered floor. On the way up, she noticed her horn-rimmed glasses lying on the floor - still intact after all that happened - and retrieved them, placing them right back over her eyes. Almost instantly, her vision became twice as good as when they were off.
Bunsen and his assistant, Beaker, were scattered around and lying unconscious over certain areas. However, one particular sight sent her into extreme caution: the young African American male lying near the flaming, destroyed equipment. "Oh, no...Sean!"
She quickly went to him and pulled him away from the flaming equipment, before checking on his health status. Thankfully, he still had a pulse and appeared to be breathing normally. Nearby, Bunsen and Beaker started to come out of their unconsciousness and see the damages that were caused to their laboratory. It looked to be beyond repairable, a devastating realization for the two Muppet scientists.
"Oh, dear. Oh, my." Bunsen said, numbing on his fingers in nervousness.
Beaker meeped his displeasure as well.
Realizing that the two regained full consciousness, Joanie glanced back at them briefly while doing her best to keep her focus on Sean. "Guys, Sean's hurt! I need your help!"
"Oh, Miss Joanie...look what that terrible woman did to our lab! It will be impossible to get all of this re..."
"BUNSEN, PLEASE!" Joanie exclaimed with panic and desperation registered within her voice. "He's my son, man!"
Snapping out of their moment of mourning, Bunsen and Beaker focused their attention on the young man lying on the ground, hurt and unconscious. "O-Of course. There's a medical kit upstairs that Beakie and I can retrieve for you."
Beaker nodded and meeped in approval.
"That's good. That's good." Joanie remarked. "Please get it for me. I don't want to leave him here." She gently lifted his upper body and rested it upon her lap, checking for any signs of cuts under his short, black, curly hair.
Bunsen nodded and said, "Certainly, Miss Joanie." Both he and Beaker then climbed up the nearly ravaged wooden staircase that led out of the basement. They crossed backstage right, where the med kit box was bolted against the wall. While getting the necessary medical items out, Beaker meeped a question to his boss. "Why don't I have this medical kit downstairs in the lab? Well, I hardly ever get hurt during experiments, Beakie. There's no need for one."
Beaker meeped a sigh, putting his face at the palm of his hand and shaking his head slowly - it obviously was not the answer he hoped for.
Just as soon as Bunsen and Beaker got all the items they needed to help their friend, a loud roar emerged from within the center dressing room at the upstairs landing. The thing that was inside began clawing at the door, trying to get out. The two Muppet scientists trembled at the noises, knowing full well what was inside and daring not to let it out.
In his fear, Beaker stammered a meep to Bunsen.
"Of course we can't let him out, Beaker. Without the Disney Princess from his realm, he is just a wild, untamed beast. And letting him out will not only put us in danger, but every other living being in this time period as well."
While he and his assistant headed back downstairs to the basement again, Beaker meeped another concern to Bunsen. "I'm not certain of what particular year we're in. All of the equipment in the lab was destroyed from the previous 'incident.' The best way to find out would be to venture into the sub-level of the theater, where we've housed the generator for the machine."
Beaker meeped a remark to Bunsen's statement, as the two finally made it back into the wrecked laboratory and gave the medical items to Joanie. Watching her flawlessly handle the treatment, Bunsen and Beaker's thoughts went to what she said a short moment ago - admitting that Sean was her son.
Here this young man was, from a totally different time period than his mother's, and he was practically the same age as her - yet, in recent days, she acted just like a mother to him. It was quite uncanny; and in their field, that would be a phenomenal scientific discovery.
"What generator?" Joanie suddenly asked them, wrapping thin gauze around Sean's wound.
Bunsen barely realized she asked him a question. "I beg your pardon?"
"While coming in, you said that there's a generator for the machine in the sub-level of the theater. What does it do?"
Bunsen shared a glance with Beaker and responded, "It's rather complicated, Miss Joanie."
She chuckled at his remark. "Dude, this whole experience has been complicated for me. I just want to know what it does. If it means saving the rest of my family - past, present, and future - then I'll accept whatever weird science you two have got to explain."
Bunsen nodded in approval and went to his workbench, which barely managed to stand at the center of the room. Reaching into one of the drawers, he pulled out a long, rolled-up sheet of paper and spread it out near Joanie, who tried not to move herself in order to keep Sean's head leveled. It turned out to have been blueprints to the design of the machine's generator, which looked rather funky to Joanie and even Bunsen and Beaker themselves - and they designed it. It was an 18-story geodesic sphere with over a million different components working together to power up one small machine inside of a basement.
"This is the Magic Gateway's generator, Miss Joanie." Bunsen indicated. "Its entire structure works as a conduit - or battery - for the machine that used to be right over there." He pointed to the contorted hunk of metal standing at the wall. "Fortunately, the generator is still backing up power to another source...a second gateway."
It was this point to where Joanie was, as she expected to be, confused. "So...it's a backup of a backup?"
"Precisely," clarified Bunsen, before he pointed to the very center of the sphere, where there appeared to have been a room that was the same size and shape as the basement. "In this room is another Magic Gateway machine that has all of the same functions of the one prior. We can use it to find our friends and your family and bring them back to their respective realms and times."
He skipped ahead of all the technical mumbo jumbo and went right to the solution of their problem, which was exactly the way she wanted it to be delivered to her. Lost in her delight from the news, she almost did not hear the young man resting on her lap groaning. As if things looked up already, Sean regained consciousness - a great sign to show that he was not seriously injured or worse from the recent encounter. Opening his dark brown eyes, the first person he saw was Joanie, who smiled at him - although from his upside-down perspective, it looked more like a frown.
"Something wrong?" he asked her.
Tears began to form beneath her eyelids as she looked down upon him. "No...nothing's wrong. Everything's just perfect, man."
His eyes darted from her to the room, seeing how ravaged it appeared. Memories of recent events began to catch up with him, and he realized what happened prior to his unconscious state. "Oh, no! Where is everybody? Where's Kim? Where's Meagan? Cici? Kermit? Gonz..."
Joanie felt him trying to get up, but she quickly settled him down before he could've done so. "Shh! Shh! Calm down. It's okay. We're going to find them."
He shook his head negatively. "It's all my fault."
"No, no. Don't say that."
"It is! Because they wanted to give up on finding your mother - our grandmother - and I just...I couldn't let it go."
Joanie sighed, feeling the opposite way; she felt like it was her fault. "You were just helping me...which I appreciate more than you know. Seriously, man." Saying that, she took her right hand and grasped onto his.
Sean still felt ashamed, but he was relieved to know that his own mother was proud of him regardless. If she knew the type of relationship they had in the past - or, in her case, will have in the future, she would question her role as a mother more than she already since they met through Bunsen and Beaker's experiment. He did not want that, especially considering how close they became. What he did want was to get up and stop feeling so useless.
He made another attempt, which Joanie once again tried to avert. "No, no. Stay down and rest."
"No, I'm going to help you all find the others," he declared, finally getting to his feet while fighting the pain that throbbed in his head. "I heard you three talking about some sort of second Gateway machine."
Joanie groaned in annoyance - he was definitely her son, seeing how hard-headed and determined he appeared to be. She honestly could not blame him, with all that happened earlier. It was such a devastating blow. With a hint of regret, she admitted, "Bunsen says there's a generator beneath the Muppet Theater that's powering another machine - one that will help us find everyone."
Sean nodded with a hopeful smile. "Great! Then let's get down there and get to business."
"It might be a hard process to get to the generator." Bunsen revealed to him.
"Well, how hard are we talking about?" Joanie inquired.
Beaker meeped a statement to Bunsen that neither Joanie nor Sean could decipher. From the nervous way he delivered it, they knew it could not be good. Bunsen, the only one who could interpret his speech, answered, "It's the only way to reach it, Beaker. The Initiative never allowed us to have any access to it through the Muppet Theater. They feared unauthorized personnel would discover its existence."
Joanie felt like she and her son were completely being left out of the loop. One Muppet talked in "meeps," while the other in plain English that still made no sense. "Uh, guys? Hello? Wanna explain to us what the heck you're talking about?"
Bunsen hesitated briefly and finally addressed them: "Depending upon the time zone we are currently in, we may or may not have to take a submarine to reach the generator."
Joanie and Sean's eyes widened in disbelief. "It's underwater? I thought you said it was beneath the theater?" Sean responded.
"No, no. The generator is underground." Bunsen clarified. "It's just...it's part a system that only DHARMA Initiative members can gain access through."
Joanie's eyes shut hard in frustration; this was, of course, accompanied by a deep, disgruntled sigh. Meanwhile, her son was even more perplexed from her reaction. "What? What is the DHARMA Initiative?"
"A project that consists of a lot of researchers, scientists, inventors...you name it, they've got it." Joanie told him. "Bunsen and Beaker registered as members back in 1974."
"Some of the research we do for them is here at Muppet Labs."
"Including a giant golf ball-looking thing that's practically housed in one of their stations," said the irritated Joanie.
Hearing about the imagery of the generator's design, Sean got a sense of déjà vu. He knew he heard such a description before, but couldn't quite place his finger on it. It wasn't until his foot came in contact with the blueprints to the generator that he looked down and saw the familiar structure. With a grin on his face, he knelt down slowly - trying not to bring back the throbbing in his head - to pick it up and gaze at it closely.
"You mean to tell me that the design for your generator was inspired by Spaceship Earth?" His question garnered some confused stares from Joanie, Bunsen, and Beaker.
"Spaceship What?" Joanie asked.
He showed her the blueprints again, circling his index finger over its structure. "In my time, this is all one big attraction known as Spaceship Earth in Disney's EPCOT theme park. It's practically the symbol of the park - something everyone who goes there identifies with."
For a moment, he completely forgot that he conversed with people who were literally from a different time period as him, each exchanging wondrous and perplexed glances. In response to his revelation, Bunsen asked a crucial question, "When did this theme park open?"
Sean, being the Disney expert that he was, thought through his knowledge on the famous company and searched for the exact answer that Bunsen expected. Snapping his fingers and closing his eyes, he concentrated hard on it, until he finally discovered the information stored within his mind: "October 1982."
Bunsen then appeared deeply lost in thought, which Joanie noticed instantly. It was a look that she was all too familiar with in the years that she lived in the Muppet Theater - his thumb and index finger rubbed along his chin, as he stared towards the floor. Trying not to smile at the sight, she asked, "What're you thinking, Bunsen?"
"Hmm? Oh! Well, I'm thinking that if what your son just said is the truth, then I believe we have an alternative to reaching the generator. That is, and I again state for scientific reasons, depending on the time zone we are currently in."
Sean shook his head and chuckled at his theory. "Wait, wait, wait! You're saying that this DHARMA Initiative could've somehow transported this gigantic mechanism from underground the Muppet Theater to above ground. That sounds a little implausible, don't you think?"
"Not for a project like the DHARMA Initia..."
"Shh!" An expression on Joanie's face made it seem as if her focus was on something other than the conversation.
Noticing that expression, Sean curiously asked, "What is it?"
She glanced up at him in surprise. "You don't hear that?"
"The Mickey Mouse March!"
As if they were not confused enough already from all that happened in the past minutes, this was the most puzzling for Sean, Bunsen, and Beaker. The room was absolutely silent to them; and as far as they were concerned, they were the only four people in the theater. Sean knew that he suffered quite a head trauma from it, and he began to wonder if Joanie did as well. There she was, unbeknownst to even herself, humming the tune to the Mickey Mouse Club theme song.
It then started getting louder and clearer to her, driving her to the point that she got off her knees and headed up the rickety staircase. Greatly concerned about her, Sean followed suit. He chased her through several areas within the Muppet Theater, from backstage right to the storage room. Everywhere, except for the particular dressing room where they held the beastly creature inside.
Sean was just about out of breath when he followed her back to the room they started in, stopping near the stage door lobby in the reception area. "Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Are you...are you alright?"
Joanie was out of breath herself but did not care all that much about it. She was on a mission and could not let anything stop her - not even Sean. "That music...it's bringing back so many memories. I...I can't exactly explain it. Just...Just trust me, okay?"
She then bolted out through the stage door, with her son following. However, just as he stood in the doorway, she vanished. All that he saw was the back alley, the afternoon sun bearing down over it. It was very odd and confusing; and as much as he gazed around to find her, there was not a single trace of where she went.
Where did she go?
But the more appropriate question he should have been asking himself: When did she go?