Viva la Holidays la Las Vegas

Operation Ho-Ho-Ho 3: The Beginning

"Get the stuff over, double time," Harry commanded the rest of his gang, hauling their tools and explosives towards the loading dock (he himself had abstained from carrying anything). He rang the buzzer on the back door. Moments later, it swung open. "Were you followed or seen?" Stone asked them.

"Nope, and we're ready to go if you are," Harry told him. Stone waved the burglars inside and led them across the hall and down the stairs towards the vault area. Burke was pacing back in front of it, his cell phone to his ear. "...looks like there was no bomb, Roy, but we're going to do a check internally to make absolutely sure," he was telling Walley. He held up his hands at the newcomers and put a finger to his lips to keep them quiet, "Yeah, I think we'll still get the premiere in fine, a few hours later. How about you wait there at McCarran until we finish up and I can give you the green light? Don't worry, I have your best interests in mind here, Roy; the last thing America needs is for anything to happen to you. Good, I'll let you know when we're clear."

He hung up. "Thanks for coming quickly, gentlemen," he told the burglars, "I wasn't expecting Walley to come earlier, but I think we can keep him bottled up at the airport for at least an hour or so. So make it quick if you can. Mr. Stone's posted security around the building; no one will interfere with this. And we turned off all the security cameras in the building, so there'll be no proof you were ever in here. Get to work."

"You got it, Chuckie. OK, Fingers," Harry waved the safecracker forward, "Drill that vault."

"So you've beaten these criminals before by having them walk into trap after trap after trap?" Martin was amazed at Kevin's story, "Well, why do you think they'll fall for it a third time?"

"I think they will; they're too dumb not to," Kevin told him. "The others, I'm not so sure about," he frowned, "And to be honest, I don't like the odds we'll be facing. It was so much easier when it was just me versus the two of them; now we're dealing with five burglars and a load of armed security guards."

"You're not giving up before we start, are you Kevin?" Nate gave him a strange look.

"Of course not, Nate; that money deserves to go to charity," Kevin said firmly, "So we're going to do it-after we spring the others. I could really use Ethan for this since he's the expert on aerodynamics..."

"Well, doesn't look like we can go through the front door," Sidney caught their hands as they approached. Kevin saw it too: half a dozen security guards stationed right out front with heavy guns in hand. "Great!" he muttered, ducking down behind Sidney, "We need a disguise of some kind..."

"Don't worry, little guy, problem solved," Sidney's gaze had turned towards the nearest HAZMAT truck, the back door was which was wide open. A bin full of radiation suits was in clear view, as was a wheeled table with a sheet running down the sides. The bellboy rushed over and pulled two suits out. "Here," he tossed one to Martin, "They'll have no idea who we are if we're wearing these. You two, under here," he waved Kevin and Nate under the table. The two of them climbed under and grabbed onto the legs. Moments later, they felt it being pushed. "Just stay quiet down there till we're in the clear," Sidney advised them.

Kevin quickly stuck his thumb up from under the cloth, then drew it back in. His mind was racing. There were a thousand and one ways this could all go wrong, and if it did, they were almost certainly in big trouble and might get immediately shot...

Fortunately, however, he could hear the front door opening in front of them. They were at least going to get into the building, he thought. "OK, I don't have a clue where the detention wing is," he heard Sidney asking Martin above him, "You got any idea...?"

"Elevator, basement level, it should be off to the right," Martin told him, "Frankly, I still think we should just call the police rather than put these kids into harm's way..."

"I know your point, Martin, but one, their lines are probably all busy due to this bomb threat here, and two, by the time we do get through to them, these guys'll be long gone with most of the loot," Sidney hissed back, "Kevin's done this before, so I think we can trust that he knows what he's doing. Here we go."

Kevin heard the ding of the elevator door opening. He turned to Nate and mouthed, "See, not all grown-ups are evil." Nate nodded back, apparently having learned the lesson now. Kevin leaned back against the table leg, wondering for whatever reason why in the movies it always seemed characters came up with a good reason not to call the police before the final showdown with the villains when simply doing that would have solved all their problems without a hassle. The elevator ride seemed to take forever, but eventually, the door slid open again at what he guessed was the basement. The table was wheeled to the right. "I see it-that must be it there," he heard Sidney whisper, "Just two guys on duty, it looks like. I'll do the talking; they probably wouldn't recognize me at all."

Kevin heard him walking forward away from the cart. "This area is closed," a stern voice rang out.

"Uh, yeah, well, we got orders to sweep down here; the boss thinks the bomb, if there is one, could be in here," Sidney explained to the guards.

"There's no bomb down here; we looked ourselves. Now turn that thing around and get out of here," another guard demanded harshly.

"Oh yeah, well, I guess you guys know what you're doing," Sidney started to turn to leave, "But I'd still have to do this, then."

Kevin heard the sound of more Akido kicks ringing out, followed by the groans of the guards, and two masses hitting the floor. "Bring it in," Sidney directed Martin, who wheeled the cart ahead, "You guys can come out now," he called to the boys. Kevin scrambled out from under the cloth to see the guards lying dazed on the floor, and Sidney standing in front of a door with a security strip on it. "This looks like it," he remarked out loud, "Just hope my code key can open it."

He dug it out and swiped it against the strip. Sure enough, a buzzer rang out, and the light on the strip went from red to green. "Yep," Sidney nodded in triumph. He thrust the door open. Immediately, Kevin's classmates, all huddled in the back of the small, windowless closet, glanced up in surprise. "Hi," Sidney removed his headpiece, "Remember me?"

"You guys all right!?" Kevin squeezed past him, relieved to see them more or less physically unharmed.

"Kevin, you made it back!" Julian rushed him and gave him a tremendous high five, "We thought you might be dead...!"

"Hey, it takes a lot to keep a McCallister down," Kevin told him, "Found Nate too," he waved Nate forward, "Now we'll need..."

He was abruptly hugged by a sobbing Danielle. "Well, I am glad you're all right, Danielle, but I..." he tried to say.

"I'm so sorry, Kevin," she gushed through her tears, "I've treated you bad, treated everybody bad. Maybe I am nothing but the spoiled rich girl."

"We told you it was all right," Sarah patted her on the shoulder.

"At least fifty times," Ethan added, rolling his eyes.

"You were right, Kevin; it was my fault we got exposed by spending too much," Danielle continued her guilt trip, "If I hadn't, they wouldn't have got suspicious, and those monsters wouldn't have grabbed us. We've got to get out of here," she glanced fearfully back up the hall, "They told Daddy they'd kill me if the ransom money wasn't paid..."

"Well, you're OK now, so I don't think you have anything to worry about," Kevin tried to rationalize.

"You don't understand!" she let out a burst of grief, "Daddy won't pay it! He won't even care! He spends all his time away on business; I'm hardly ever a thought in his mind! That's why I've spent all that time shopping, to feel like I really am someone special. But I'm not; I'm just a brat who puts everyone down to feel superior...!"

Kevin noticed Danielle's diary laying nearby. He picked it up and leafed through the pages, most of which seemed to have one phrase repeated often: I'M SO ALONE. "I know how you feel," he told her, handing it back to her, "For the longest time, Danielle, I felt alone as the youngest in my family since it seemed no one wanted to do anything with me. But you're not just a brat; if you were, you wouldn't be willing to admit you were wrong. When my family left without me on vacation two years ago, I had to come to terms with the fact I was wrong in being pushy with them at times. But when I did, it felt better than I had in a long time, and I think you'll feel better too now that you've seen the light. And you're not alone," he put his hands on her shoulders, "As long as you're sincere about changing, it would be an honor to be your friend. No one should have to feel alone."

"Thank you," she mumbled, wiping her eyes, "But it's too late for me now..."

"It's never too late for anyone. Like I just told Nate when we found him, a good deed erases a bad deed, and I think I know exactly how you can help do a good deed with us," he told her.

"We're going to do it," Nate eagerly told the others, "We just have to figure out what to use and where to put it."

"You mean we're actually going to set up a whole load of traps for these guys?" Julian's face lit up.

"You'll finally get the chance to be the knight in shining armor, Julian," Kevin told him with a grin, "It'll be just like Rama and Sita facing down Ravanna and his demon army, just like Prince Tomino going one on one with the Queen or the Night-or just like Vasalissa taking on Baba Yaga," he turned to give Sarah a knowing wink, "And so on and so forth. So who's with me?"

All the other children let out loud cheers. "OK, we've got to be careful, because they've got security all over this place, and if we get caught before it's all set up, we're sunk," Kevin pulled them into a circle, "And like I told Nate, we're not trying to kill or maim. But I'm open to any ideas-Ethan, you know about physics," he turned to the class brain, "Let me know what you think will work..."

And so, an hour or so later, Kevin was staring intensely at the screen in the central control room above the resort's amusement area, watching the burglars drilling their seventh hole into the vault with their large drill on the restarted security cameras. Fortunately, no guards had been manning this control room, and so they had been able to go in and program the automatic parts of Operation Ho-Ho-Ho 3. Now they just had to wait for the right moment to initiate it. "Looks like they're just about done now," he mused softly.

"Yep, seven holes is probably enough to successfully blast the vault-and they're done," Ethan remarked, watching Fingers back the drill away from the vault door, "That's probably our cue to go for it."

"OK," Kevin took a deep breath, "This is all being recorded, right?" he asked Martin at the console.

"Yep, looks like we got the whole thing," Martin nodded, pointing at the video from the vault camera.

"Keep recording until we lure them away from the vault," Kevin requested, "Sidney, back us up if we need it," he asked the bellboy, who was working with the gloves of a motion control suit nearby.

"Don't any of you worry about a thing," Sidney gave him a wink.

"Well I'm worried," Danielle spoke up, "I know you told me you have experience with this, Kevin, but I don't know if we rigged up enough traps to take enough of them out," she confessed to him, "And like we've seen, they are heavily armed..."

"Yeah, I know. But that's a risk we're going to have to take. That's why I set up a couple traps to buy us time to rig more if needed," Kevin told her, "And our plan is basically to hold out long enough. Once we have them good and softened up, then we'll call the cops and have them arrest them all."

"And we'll have plenty of evidence to pin on them between the video and the tape recording," Julian said grandly, playing with his own motion control suit, "It's really cool they have this stuff to use here," he proclaimed, "And this way we don't get directly in harm's way for a while."

"Yeah, Creative came up with these as a backup plan in case the costumed character actors got sick and had to miss meet and greets," Sidney explained, "Now we can put them to good use this way too."

"Well, time to put it aside for now, Julian, because we're on," Kevin noticed Sam and Fingers stuffing dynamite into the holes drilled in the vault, "Everybody in; hands in," he waved the other children close and extended his hand for them to grab. "All right," he said firmly, "Let's roll."

"Everyone stand clear," Fingers announced, pulling up the plunger on his detonator. The rest of the Wet Bandits Gang, plus Burke and his cronies, rushed for cover around the corner. "Three," the safecracker called out loud, "two, one..."

He pressed down on the plunger. A loud explosion rocked the vault door, which shuddered, then toppled forward to the floor. "OK, all clear," Fingers announced, a smile spreading on his face at the successful job.

"OK, make this quick; Walley'll be calling soon, and I probably can't hold him much longer, if at..." Burke was cut off as the crooks rushed past him to claim their loot. "Half a billion bucks, and it's all ours," Harry's eyes bulged out of his head in delight at all the greenbacks before them, "Charity, schmarity; I say let the kids rot. Come to papa."

He greedily started shoveling dollar bills off the shelves into the bag he was carrying, as did his partners. "Remember to leave at least some so we can frame Martin Walley afterwards," Burke reminded them firmly.

"Yeah, sure. But first things first," Marv eagerly shoved several huge stacks of money off the shelves with his crowbar into his own bag. Had he or anyone else looked back, however, they likely would have seen Kevin and Nate stick their heads around the corner. "Two guards with them," the former noticed, "As long as we're fast enough, we can probably keep ahead of them. OK Nate, start filming," he whispered. Nate hefted the video camera he'd brought with him and started recording the looting of the vault. Kevin had felt an extra incriminating video-one that would give the villains extra incentive to chase after them-would be an extra bonus. Now they just had to wait for the right moment to throw the bait.

No one noticed them as the robbery continued, for all the villains' eyes were still trained on the vault. Finally, when the Wet Bandits Gang started exiting the vault with loaded bags, Kevin knew it was time to get everyone's attention. "Showtime," he whispered to Nate. The two of them stepped out from around the corner right as Marv was exclaiming happily, "Whoa boy, this has gotta be the biggest haul in the history of crime! And we're gonna get away with it without nobody noticin'!"

"Don't you wish?" Kevin thought with amusement to himself. He whistled loudly to get everyone's attention, raised his camera, and snapped a picture of the villains before they could react. "WHAT!?" Marv shrieked in shock at the sight of Kevin before him, "But yer dead in the desert!"

"Guess again," Kevin snapped another photo of the Bad Guys holding the moneybags, "And we're going to give these photos to the cops unless you catch us first."

"WASTE HIM, LENNY!" Harry screamed to the mob enforcer, who cocked his semi-automatic. Kevin jumped out of sight right before the bullets started flying and pulled Nate to safety as well. "OK, let's lead them into the pressure cooker," he told his friend, taking off up the stairs towards the lobby.

"This is great," Nate was on Cloud Nine, "This is easily the most fun moment of my life so far."

"Well, let's hope it stays fun and doesn't get dangerous," Kevin turned back briefly to hear an enraged Burke screaming, "Get them! They got us all on camera; we'll all fry if they get away!" Footsteps started pounding up the vault hall and up the stairs, but Kevin wasn't worried yet; they'd had too much of a head start, he'd reasoned. Now they simply had to get them into place for the first zonk of the evening...

He shoved open the door into the lobby. "OK, pour it!" he shouted to the girls, who were standing on either side of the door. Sarah and Danielle emptied the detergent bottles they'd found in the costume washing room all over the floor in front of the door, then dove with the boys to safety behind a nearby plant. "Is this going to work?" Sarah seemed uncertain.

"It'll work, trust me," Nate assured her, "As long as they don't get out of the path of...shhhh, here they come now..."

Moments later, the villains charged through the door...and promptly began slipping and sliding like crazy on the detergent. "What the hell is this!?" Lenny shouted, flailing his arms like crazy to keep his balance.

"The kid's at it again, tryin' to stop us!" Harry leaned forward hard to keep from falling on his back, "But this time he ain't gonna...!"

"Harry!" Marv pointed in terror towards the front door. Seconds later, Julian and Ethan smashed open the nozzles to the scuba tanks attached to the luggage rack they had positioned by the front door. With a shriek of escaping compressed air, the rack shot at warp speed across the lobby and slammed into the crooks, sending them flying back through the door and down the hall. Burke and his cronies, having just crested the stairs in pursuit, saw it coming at them too late; it slammed into them, carrying them backwards as well, and then toppled down the stairs to the vault with a loud crash and the agonized cries of its impromptu passengers. "YES!" Kevin pumped his fists in delight, "That's a good start to the game. OK, position two, everyone, position two!"

The six of them ran to the far end of the lobby, where two giant wind fans from the soundstages were now set up. It had been a chore wheeling them into position, but he had a feeling they would buy them sufficient time to keep the villains at bay until they could set up more traps. Already he could hear the angry footsteps stomping down the hall like an approaching horde. "OK kid, where are ya!?" Harry bellowed in rage, bursting through the door.

"We're over here, and we're REALLY scared," Kevin called to him. "Ready," he prompted Nate, who had his hands on the fans' start switch, "!"

Nate turned the fans on the moment all the villains had entered the lobby. With a loud roar, they rose to life, trapping the burglars and duplicitous Walley employees in a fifty mile an hour gale. "Who is this kid!?" Burke shouted, straining to keep his footing in the maelstrom.

"He's the spawn of Satan!" Harry bellowed, stumbling to the ground from the wind, "He's done this to us three years now, but he ain't gettin' away with it this time!"

"Want to bet!?" Kevin shouted down to them. "Give them their just desserts," he called to Julian, who shoved a waiter's table loaded with pies into the path of the fans. The pies were lifted into the air and sent flying square into the villains' faces. "Now help them wash it down," Kevin told Danielle, who spun the nozzle on the nearest fire hose and aimed it into the fans' stream, which quickly left them being deluged by a de facto rainstorm. Danielle positioned the hose over the pies' table on the floor so it would continue to soak the Wet Bandits Gang, who were stumbling around in place and being blown backwards. "This is actually pretty fun, Kevin," she told him, smiling for the first time all trip.

"So far. This should hold them till we get more set up. So let's move on," he waved them around the fans, "Let's get them set for a Walley experience they'll never forget."

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