Billy was standing on the Beauvillage Train station. He glanced at his watch. It was 5 pm sharp. The train from Megacity was due any minute. Lola called him up more than half an hour ago asking him to come for her to the station, before she boarded the train. He really hoped that she had a good time today. Because he certainly hadn´t.
"I swear I´ve never seen a duller work."he growled to himself.
He pondered for about 342nd time today just how in the hell could his father do this everyday and still be so enthusiastic about it. Just the task of acquainting himself with the models of the systems was pure boreville. The construction plans and putting the alarms together he could manage, it certainly proved to be just a bit livelier than anything else. But all in all it was a pretty boring way to spend a day.
Suddenly a loud sound was heared and Billy knew that the train had arrived. He rushed to it just as the first passangers were exiting. Looking for his girlfriend he was looking around franticly. Suddenly in slow steps Lola exited the train looking almost as tired like Chichi looked more than two weeks ago, when most of Beauvillage believed him to be addicted to drugs. In less than a second he covered the distance between them, immediatly taking her in his arms.
"Lola! Are.. are you all right?"he asked uncertainly as he felt her melt into the embrace.
"I´ve never felt so tired in my life."she replied tiredly.
"C´mon. Let´s get you home."he said his arm around her shoulders, leading her out of the station.
All she could do was nod before they got on Billy´s bike and rode towards the Tofu house.
As they stopped near the gateway, they noticed that the green van was parked infront of the house, its front motor part was disassembled and three figures dressed in blue overalls were seen working inside the opened motor case.
"Sheesh, I´m astounded this crate moved for so long. Everything is in desolate condition."commented Chichi as he raised his head, his face and hair smirched in oily substance.
"At this rate we will need to change some of the parts."said Pop raising his head too, also dirty from the same stuff and holding some kind of tube in his hand.
"Wouldn´t building a new car be easier?"asked Phil as he raised his head too.
The three turned around and noticed Lola and Billy come closer.
"Lola! My sweet little orchid. How was your first day?"exclaimed an overjoyed Pop instantly running to her.
"Couldn´t have been worse."she grumbled and Pop looked confused.
"I´m sure it wasn´t that bad."he said cassualy.
"Depends on your definition of bad."she replied moodily.
"Where´s Amyas?"asked Pop looking behind them, seeing no one.
"He had to stay in Megacity with the team today."
That was only good thing about the day so far. Had he come with her, a murder would´ve occured perhaps on the train.
"Pop we´ll need some of these hose pipes too."called Chichi from behind the pipes in his hand.
"All right, I´ll go to Home-fix-it right away."he answered.
"You´d better hurry Mr Tofu, they´ll close up soon."said Phil checking his watch.
With a nod, Pop sprinted away leaving the teenagers alone.
"Jeez sis, you look horrible. Must´ve been very bad."commented Chichi, worry reflecting in his eyes as he approached, wiping his hands on a hankerchief before placing it in his back-pocket.
"You´ve no idea. I can´t thank you enough for the money you gave me."she said appretiatively.
"C´mon guys let´s sit down in the yard. I wanna hear what happened."said Phil and the others nodded.
"What did you do today, Billy?"asked Chichi.
"Went trough the most popular XB models, it was a complete bore."he sighed as all of them sat down at the table.
"I can imagine. I mean, you´ve seen one alarm you´ve seen ´em all."reasoned Phil.
"Not exactly. Some have different functions, some are triggered differently, some have different effects. And so on."explained Billy and Chichi looked puzzled.
"What´s the problem, then? I mean with so many functions and factors I´m sure there´s lots to learn and perhaps improve."
Billy sighed yet again.
"Yeah Chichi, but there´s one importaint factor here – I find it highly uninteresting. Even more than I thought I would."
Both of the younger boys nodded in understanding.
"Well I was anything than bored. Amyass had the entire team on the local dump sorting the trash. And all of them were happy as though we were digging for buried treasure or something."said Lola depressively.
"That´s funny. You smell really nice now."commented Billy in surprise.
"That´s because I took 6 showers before I could finally get the stinch off. I swear I never used so much shower gel in a week."said Lola and the three boys looked at eachother.
"Anyway, Amyass said that tommorow we´re going to do something different to save Megacity from pollution. I can hardly wait to see, what he´s cooked up thistime. But nevermind that for now. How´d you guys do on Starchy´s test?"she asked eyeing her brother.
"Oh...well I got most of the answers down, April´s tutoring really helped."said Chichi cassualy. Lola smiled a little at that.
"I hope that you´ll thank her appropriately."she said pointedly.
"I already have."said Chichi and Lola´s eyes widened in surprise.
"Could he have...?"
"I´ve told her that she´s the best tutor I ever had."he said with a slight blush.
Lola repressed the urge to bang her head on the table. The blockhead JUST. DIDN´T. GET IT!
"Anyway, Chloe really helped me too. I would´ve never gotten question 15 down if she didn´t pass me that small paper."he commented.
He felt kinda guilty on the small cheating he´d done, but this was Starchy´s test and she would find any fault if she could.
"At least he was kind enough to let me copy it."said Phil cassualy ignoring the smirks of the older teens.
Suddenly with a loud screech there was a sound of a car stopping at the Tofu household. A few moments later Miles and Lily entered the yard. Both of them were very cheery. In fact, Lily was laughing her head off.
"Seriously Miles... where were you when you were supposed to learn to count in school?"she giggled.
"Out making money."he answered with a gesticulation sending Lily into another fit of giggles.
"And since... since when does 2 times 5 equal 25?"she asked still giggling.
"C´mon Lil. You know how it goes. Taxes, inflation, economy – its a cruel world out there."he said earnestly counting the three on his fingers.
Lily erupted with laughter litteraly falling on to her knees.
"What´s wrong with you two?"asked Lola, who was in no mood for games.
"Oh we were just discussing my businessdeals."said Miles cassualy before the two joined them at the table sending Lily into yet another fit of giggles and the others into outright confusion.
"Say, I´m kinda hungry. You guys wuldn´t happen to have some of that Herb recipe thing left?"asked Miles, before the two of them explained the day they had drawing laughs from all present.
Tuesday proved to be very different from what Lola expected. Amyas and the other fourteen members of their EPO team all in their green t-shirts have been assigned to intorduce several of Megacity´s top businessmen to recycling. Amyas and two of the members instantly angered several of them. Lola quickly took over, calmed the situation and was now translating the stands of both sides, feeling oddly in place.
"...and by doing this, it can be both profitable for all of you and also helping for the enviroment."she finished her speech and a small silence insued.
The businessmen looked from one to the other and started to talk among eachother in low voices.
"Woah, I´m amazed Lola. They´re actually thinking about it."said Christie, one of the four women in the fifteen member team excluding Lola of course, in a small amazed whisper.
Lola turned to the young woman not much older from her and whispered back.
"Don´t be so sure yet. They can still decide, that it´s not worth their investment."
Suddenly one of the businessmen cleared his throat and called for attention.
"Young lady, we have reached a decidion and you are right. However there would be a small problem with financing the recycling plant, even if the recycled material would be shipped to our factories."he said and some of the others nodded.
Lola took a moment and thought about it.
"Why not ask the town representatives to shoulder some of the costs with you? If the recycling plant is for the benefit of Megacity as a whole, I´m sure the mayor would be agreeable. It would also be able to provide jobs for both the construction and operating it, which the citizens would definitely welcome. This way, everyone has something to gain and the invested money would eventually return to everyone."
"I agree, with Miss Tofu on this. The investment has the potential to return perhaps even tenfold over the years."exclaimed one of the middle-aged businessmen.
"It´s all a matter of how we divide the investment."said another one thoughtfully.
"If all of us, the town included shoulder the cost equally, it would work."replied the youngest one among them.
"Then by all means, we have to take this up with the mayor. I have a meeting with him in two hours in fact. We can all go and state the case. The sooner the better I say."said a fat mustached businessman, gesturing to the others, who agreed.
"If we strike a good deal, this can be already concluded before news at 4. Not to mention the popularity we could all gain. Perhaps even new business oppoturnities. We would definitely be viewed positively in the public eye."said a thin, gray haired one to general agreement.
"We thank you for bringing this to our attention, Miss Tofu. You have my word, that the new recycling plant will have my priority."said the one, who was probably the most respected among them.
Amyas and some of the others hi-fived eachother as the group exited the building and were on their way to their headquarters in Megacity.
"This is amazing. They actually are going to ask the mayor and build the plant."said Joe, a brown haired man in his late twenties in complete ecstasy.
"And we have our Lola to thank for that."said Christie, patting Lola on her shoulder.
"Yeah. I can´t believe how well you worked this out. Those ideas you´ve given them. They actually liked them."exclaimed Tony, a short thin blackhaired man in his thirties.
"I can´t even express how proud I am of you, Lola."exclaimed Amyas before grabbing her in a bear-hug and spinning her in circles, drawing happy laughter from each of the members including Lola.
"Yup. A true Tofu."said Donna, a longhaired young woman in aprooval.
"You have no idea. She reminds me so much of her grandmother."said Jeremiah, a man in his fifties, who spent most of his working life in the EPO and worked under Iris Tofu many times.
Lola found herself blushing.
"You can´t be serious, Jeremiah."she said shyly.
"Oh, but I am, Lola. You have inhereted her small gift. You can make people listen and think about it. You really have that special personality, just like Iris."he said with a smile.
Her grandma Iris indeed possesed that special gift of making people listen and had a very stern, teacher-like personality at times. But she was also kind and wise. The only person however, who she never had much success with was ironicly her grandpa Noah, who drives her up the wall on a daily basis with his crackpot ideas. The thought of being compared to her grandmother however made Lola blush a deep shade of red.
"I can´t wait, when Lola joins our humble organization."exclaimed Dixie, a twentie year old blonde haired girl, who immediately hugged Lola with enthisiasm.
"Yeah, all the good it would do. Who knows, maybe we´ll be even able to make people use renewable sources instead of foolishly raping our planet."agreed Amyas, who was all worked up over the idea.
"Now, Amyas. Let´s not get ahead of ourselfs. One step at a time."said Dixie softly, releasing Lola and placing a hand on Amyas´ shoulder, who blushed and laughed sheepishly.
"Say Amyas, you and Lola should head for the station. Your train will be departing in half an hour."said Jeremiah, who checked his watch.
"But we still have to write the report and send it to EPO hq."said Amyas.
"Don´t worry, Amyas. We´ll write it for you. Otherwise you two would have to wait for two more hours."said Dixie.
"You guys are the best."said Amyas as the others bade them farewell and resumed their walk to the Megacity headquarters. Lola and Amyas started to walk in the opposite direction.
"I´ll be glad when my van is fixed."said Amyas.
"Pop and Chichi are doing their best. It´ll be as good as new when they´re done. Then you can take Dixie someplace nice."said Lola with a sly look.
Amyas turned to her in alarm, his face red as a tomato.
"What... what are you talking about?"he stammered and Lola giggled.
"Oh, come on Amyas. I´ve seen the way you two look at eachother. Why don´t you ask her out?"asked Lola.
"You... you think she´d go out with me?"asked Amyas swiftly.
"Judging from the looks and small hints she´s been giving you, I´d say – YES."
Amyas´ eyes widened as if in revelation.
"But who should I go about this...?"he said as though to himself and Lola giggled again.
"While I can´t believe I am about to give dating tips to my older cousin, I will be delighted to help you plan on getting the lady of your dreams, as we go home."
Billy´s day in contrast to Lola´s couldn´t be a duller one. He spent the majority of it in office looking over the latest XB-93 model and putting it together.
"Sheesh, this would be more Chichi´s idea of a good time than mine."he thought as he was helping one of his father´s collagues construct it.
"Hey son. How´s it going?"asked Titus happily as he entered the workshop office.
"Just great, Dad."said Billy in obvious boredom, but Titus took no notice of it.
"The kid has been a lot of help. I wouldn´t have done half of it without him. You must be proud Titus."the other man said in appretiation and Titus´s chest inflated in pure pride.
"He´s a Hubbub, George. A chip off the old block."he said clapping his son on the shoulder.
Billy felt slightly sick. Eventhough he was glad to make his father proud, the job itself was boring him to no end.
"How in the world could I tell him the truth?"he wondered as he noted his father´s happy look as he exited the office.
"I wish my own son would be like you. The boy has no interest in this business what-so-ever."said George sadly.
"And what does he do?"asked Billy with interest.
"He´s in that EPO organization."George answered sadly.
"That´s where Lola, my girlfriend is having her practice. How do you take it? That he chose something different for a career?"asked Billy now really interested.
"Well, it certainly didn´t please me at first. But he explained to me, that he would like to help all those around him and help making the world a better place. And as his father, as long as he´s happy with his choice, I stand behind him."he finished and noted Billy´s thoughtfull look.
"Look kiddo. I can now see clearly, that you´re very much like him. Why don´t you just tell your old man?"he asked.
"It´s not that simple. You´ve seen how happy he is with this. I just can´t take it from him."Billy replied with a sigh.
George smiled and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"You´re a good kid, Billy. But just tell him. He will have to come to terms with it sooner or later. He´s your father, but you can´t place his happiness above yours. This is your life and he should stand behind your decidions."said George sagely and Billy´s thoughts went wild again.
"The real question is, what would you like to do."
Billy thought long about it and sighed once more.
"I don´t know. But certainly not this."he said quietly.
Suddenly Titus burst into the room.
"We have an emergency. The alarm system in the pet shop has gone haywire."
"I still have to put together these XBs."said George gesturing to the number of unfinished alarms.
"I´ll go with him. I need to stretch my legs anyway."said Billy and both older men nodded.
"Good idea, son. At least you can see your old man in action."said Titus before exiting.
"Just remember, Billy. Tell him. Sooner rather than later."advised George.
Billy murmured his thanks before following his father out the door.
It took only a few minutes before the two reached Beauvillage´s pet shop. The alarm in there was emiting a loud screeching noise, which drove the animals in there as well as the people around the shop crazy.
In a swift motion, Titus disabled the system.
"Ha. A professional in action."he said happily before starting to work on the alarm.
"Thank God you´re here Mr Hubbub. It was begining to get unbearable. Especially on top of everything else going on."said the owner.
"What d´you mean Mr Outwild?"asked Billy before taking a small look around and noticing the animals.
With a gasp he kneeled before a cage, that held several guinea pigs, all of which were curled up in a ball and trembling. So were the other animals in their dens and cages. He also noticed, that some of the fishes in their aquariums were already dead.
"During the morning, they´ve turned like this. I have absolutely no idea what could´ve caused this."said Mr Outwild hopelessly.
"Have you called the vet?"asked Billy swiftly.
"I have. But it seems, that the Megacity´s vet clinic has their hands full as well. Some sort of epidemic has struck. Until they´ve cleared that up, I have no choice but to wait."said Outwild sadly.
"The hell you do."said Billy standing up swiftly and reaching into his pocket for his phone.
Calling a number he tapped the ground with his foot nervously, before the other line answered.
"Chichi, are you home? The animals in the pet shop are all sick. Same sickness that we treated."he said urgently.
" I know Billy. Several of our and your classmates brought their pets here over the course of the day, and some are still bringing them now. It seems that the mystery epidemic has struck again. I´m going with Miles to get the ingredients for the herb recipe right now."
"Can we bring the pets from here to your house? Or will they have to be treated here?"asked Billy and he heared Chichi sigh.
"Bring them here. We will find the room for them somehow."
Billy´s face looked relieved somewhat.
"Thanks Chichi. I´ll see you at your house."he said before ending the call.
He turned quickly to Outwild.
"D´you have a car?"
"Than lets load every animal, that´s sick and get them to the Tofu house pronto."he said in a commanding voice and Outwild nodding went into the backside of the store to get the car.
Billy looked at a small kitten which mewed painfully.
"Don´t worry. It´ll be ok. Help is on the way."he said in a soothing voice, strocking its fur as the kitten licked his hand.
"Billy. Come help me with this."called Titus from the alarm box just as Outwild came back in and the two started to swiftly take the cages into the backside.
"What are you doing Billy?"asked Titus confusedly.
"No time to explain, Dad. These animals need help."