Headquarters, Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D. C.
July 7, 2049
The prisoner was guided to a metal door and led inside. It was a small interrogation room, the kind with a table in the middle and a one-way glass watching from the far wall. The prisoner was roughly handled onto the chair facing the dark window, causing him to wince slightly as he was still recovering from his wounds of the past few days. His guards uncuffed him and left him to stare at his reflection in solitude. He had waited about fifteen minutes when an important looking man with broad shoulders and heavily-tanned skin entered and sat across from him.
The man extracted a manila folder and opened it on the desk. "You've got an impressive record," he read. "Graduated first in class, served with distinction for the last six years in the Secret Service," he listed. "Not a bad résumé. But if you think that's gonna help you at all, you can forget it."
He paused, searching the prisoner's face for a reaction. He didn't get one.
"But of course, you already know that." The man interlaced his fingers over the folder. "Considering what you've done, I can't see anything less than prison for the rest of your life," he smirked. "In fact, some of my buddies and I have a bet going on. They think it'll be prison, but you want to know what I think?" The man leaned in a little closer.
The prisoner could have been a statue.
"I think you'll be executed," the man breathed. "Sure, even for traitors like yourself, capital punishment was done away with in the '20s when we achieved total suspended animation. But considering we're dealing with a freak like you, the law may not apply."
Although he still didn't say a word, the prisoner visibly bristled at that. It at least gave the interrogator something to look smug about. "Ultimately, the choice is yours. If you confess, it'll probably be prison; and if you don't—well, we'll see. So, what's it gonna be? I don't feel like sitting here looking at your ugly mug for much longer, so this will be your only chance."
The prisoner looked him in the eyes with all traces of emotion flushed once more from his face. Finally he opened his mouth. "Get me my lawyer first, then I'll tell you everything."
The man scowled. "Fine, if that's the way you want to play." He pressed a button on his side of the desk. Momentarily, a guard opened the door. "Retrieve the prisoner's lawyer," he requested, and several minutes later, a thin young woman in a gray business dress was escorted in.
"Your timing is impeccable," he commented as she took a seat to one side of the desk.
"Luckily, I was already on my way over," she said in return, pulling out some equipment from her brief-purse.
They turned to the prisoner. "Alright," the interrogator said, "let's get this over with. You can start by telling us why you attempted to assassinate the director of the CIA."
Closing his eyes, the prisoner took a deep breath. "To fully understand what I did," he explained, "you have to remember who I am. As a member of the Secret Service, it is my job—no, my duty, to—."
"Yes, yes, we know what you do," the interrogator interrupted impatiently. "You are sworn to protect the President of the United States of America with your very life. After all, that is why you are here."
The prisoner nodded. "That's correct. But if you want me to speak, sir," he made no effort to hide the rudeness in his voice, "you will have to stop interrupting me."
The inspector crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair.
"Please," the lawyer said kindly, trying to calm the tension in the atmosphere. "Continue."
The prisoner exhaled. "It is a long story," he said, closing his eyes for a moment. "I don't expect someone who didn't actually experience it to believe me, but I assure you it's all true."
The interrogator rose suddenly. "Stop stalling," he barked, slamming his hands down on the desk. "I'm getting sick of the theatrics!"
"Well, if you keep interrupting me, you're only going to make it take longer!" The prisoner shouted back unflinchingly, bristling in his seat once again.
The woman stood and leveled herself with the interrogator, displaying an alarming amount of fierceness herself. "He has the right to tell his story," she glowered at the man.
"Does he?" He snapped back. "Do any of his kind have rights? He's a traitor!"
"Remember the words, 'innocent until proven guilty'?" The lawyer replied. "They're one of the many inspired ideals upon which this nation was founded. Unless there's something else you want to say?"
After a tense moment, the interrogator murmured a soft, "No, ma'am," and retook his seat. The lawyer did so also, looking back at the prisoner. "Tell us what happened," she said kindly.
The prisoner swallowed. "As I was saying, my duties as part of the Secret Service have required me to travel all over. My missions have taken me everywhere from Lebanon to Qaraq, from Russia to Spain, once I was even stationed briefly at Mars. But two weeks ago, I was assigned on a mission to somewhere even I've never been before.
"Now, I'll ask you once again to let me tell my story, no matter how strange it gets. That is the only way we're gonna get through this." He waited for the other two to nod before continuing. "Because it is a very long story. So long, in fact, that it began thirty-five years ago."
July 4, 2014
"Happy Independence Day, Candace!" Phineas exclaimed brightly as his big sister padded barefoot down the stairs in her pajamas.
"Happy Independence Day," she said back before inhaling deeply. "Wow, Mom, that smells delicious!"
"Did you forget our family tradition?" Phineas teased. "Mom always makes a big breakfast on the Fourth of July!"
Candace quickly took her seat at the table. "Good, 'cause I'm starving! What'cha cookin'?"
Phineas chuckled and whispered to Ferb, "Hey, Candace sounded like Isabella just barely!"
Linda proudly turned to face her children. "Today's breakfast is blueberry pancakes with strawberry topping. I call them 'Freedom Flapjacks', because they've got red, white, and blue!"
"Neat, Mom!" Phineas said with a wide smile as he grabbed a plate.
"Go ahead and eat all you want," Linda told the kids, placing a full tray in the center of the table. "There's plenty."
"Awesome!" Phineas cheered as he heaved a thick stack onto his plate. As he did so, there was a faint chirruping noise emanating from the corner.
"Oh, and happy Independence Day to you too, Perry!" Phineas exclaimed once more. "Hey Mom, can we give Perry some Freedom Flapjacks? After all, even platypuses deserve to celebrate a holiday, too!"
"I suppose there's enough for him to have one or two," Linda said. "Just be sure to save some for your Father when he wakes up."
"Sure thing," Phineas replied, and for a brief period, there was happy silence as everyone ate. Phineas was halfway through his second pancake when he turned to his step-brother and asked, "So, what endeavor should we engage in today?"
Ferb raised a finger as if he was about to say something, or perhaps it was to show he wanted to finish chewing, but either way was cut off by Linda.
"Well, for starters, the parade is going to be starting soon," said she. "Then we're planning a little barbeque with the whole neighborhood for a late lunch. There will be all sorts of games, and when it gets dark, we'll go watch the fireworks. It'll be a busy day."
"Sounds like it," Phineas agreed. "Well, we should go down after breakfast to get good spots for the parade."
"I think that's a great idea," Linda said, turning to head up the stairs. "Why don't I go wake up your Father so we can all be ready."
As soon as their mother departed, Candace gave the boys the stink eye. "You two better not be hatching anything today," she said, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
"Candace, the only one who can hatch anything around here is Perry, if he ever hatches an egg," Phineas gestured before returning to his food.
"Whatever," Candace said with an eye-roll. "Just remember, Mom and Dad will be with us all day today, so if you get any funny ideas, I'll have no choice but to tell them. Not only will it be a busy day, it'll be a bust day! Hey, are you even listening?"
Phineas looked back up from his breakfast. "Sorry, Candace, these pancakes are just so good! What were you saying?"
Candace growled. "Forget it."
Phineas finished his plate and saw Ferb do the same. As he stood, inspiration struck. "That's it, Ferb! I know what we're gonna do today!" And before Candace knew it, they had both speedily vacated the kitchen for the backyard, leaving the girl alone with the platypus.
"That's weird, usually someone's wondering where you are by now," she told her pet.
Perry chattered back. "Grdrdrdrdrdrd."
"Hey, I don't judge."
The Museum was closed for the holiday, so there was no one around to notice when the hall labelled "Gadgets Through The Ages" suddenly flared brilliantly with a strange, otherworldly illumination. In a moment the light resided, and a dark figure crept past the shadows of the quiet wing. The personage paused shortly to gain its bearings before moving on, making its way toward the city.
Everyone in the Flynn-Fletcher family, including Perry, waited piled in the car as Lawrence searched in vain for a convenient parking space.
"Aha! I see one!" He spotted and hit the gas, throwing the other occupants back in their seats in a mad dash to beat a silver jeep to the spot.
"Great, Dad," Candace replied sarcastically as she pushed her hair out of her face. "Remind me to drive next time; at least I have parallel parking down, and I don't drive on the wrong side of the road."
"Always have to bring that up, don't you?" He replied with a mild tone that said he didn't take offense.
The family stepped out of the car to join the thronging crowds on the trek to the parade route. The sun shone brightly from the deep blue sky above, and the day was already beginning to get very warm. Phineas carried Perry in his arms as they took in the sights and smells of the colorful surroundings. A series of shrill crackles and loud bangs nearby testified that someone had already begun digging into his or her bag of fireworks.
As the group moved through the concourse, slowly making their way about the streets, Lawrence suddenly spoke: something had apparently caught his eye. "I say, is that an antique peddler?" He asked, pointing to a merchant by the way. "I had better go look at this." With that, he broke from the others and disappeared into the multitude.
Linda sighed. "Sometimes your father gets a little too excited about these things," she told the children. "You guys go on ahead and find a spot. Candace, you watch the boys until your father and I get back," she directed before following after her husband.
"Guess who just got put in charge!" Candace smirked. "Hey, where do you two think you're going?"
"To the parade," Phineas answered over his shoulder as he and Ferb walked onward. "Aren't you coming?"
"Gah!" Candace bounded down the sidewalk to catch up. "Mom said I'm supposed to be watching you guys!"
"Well that's good," Phineas replied, "since we made one for you, too."
"Made one what?" She asked.
"A parade float," Phineas said, stopping. He pointed, and Candace saw two large floats decorated brightly in red, blue, and white. One had a paper-mache rendering of a platypus standing at inattention before a field of stars and stripes, the other had a giant wooden Fireside Girl statue saluting the American flag.
"You guys made floats for the parade?" Candace asked.
"We did," Phineas said. "The one with Perry on it is for us; the other one is for the Fireside Girls' troop, that's the one you get to ride!"
"Hey, Candace!" Isabella greeted in full Fireside uniform. "Uh, you did remember to bring your uniform, right?"
Candace wagged a finger at her brothers. "Oh, you guys are so busted!" With that, she turned on her heel and disappeared into the crowd.
"I think she's going back to get it," Phineas told Isabella.
"Where is she? Mom couldn't have gotten very far!" Candace said aloud as she searched the crowd in vain. Suddenly a loud cheer erupted, signaling the start of the parade. "Urgh! I better find her soon!" She scanned the area and spotted a fire escape ladder ascending the side of a nearby apartment complex. "Perfect!"
Candace approached the fire escape and climbed, allowing her to see over the top of the crowd. Shading her eyes with her hand, she scoped near and far in search of her quarry. To one side, the parade marched on to the beat of the clapping crowd. Runners up and down handed out candy to small children while floats flaunted their various waving VIP's. As the progression moved on, Love Händel made a brief appearance, singing a collection of patriotic songs. Candace only paid enough attention to make sure her brothers hadn't gone by yet, but despite her best efforts she could not find her mother in the street below. Ever higher she climbed hoping for a better vantage point until she was finally on the roof, frantically scanning in all directions for a flash of her mother's red hair.
Meanwhile, Phineas and Ferb had begun a search of their own.
"Where's Perry?" Phineas asked. "He ought to be part of the parade, too. Isabella, have you seen him?"
She shrugged. "I thought he was here just a minute ago."
"It's almost our turn to join the parade," Phineas pointed out, letting a rare frown cross his face. "I'd hate to have to start without him."
"I wouldn't worry too much," Isabella comforted. "He always knows just the right place to turn up."
"Yeah," Phineas looked up. "I guess you're right. Maybe he'll see the big platypus on the float and it'll help him find us."
Isabella nodded. The last of their preparations were finished by rolling the floats into place and everyone went to their positions. Finally it was their turn to advance and make their debut.
"You guys ready?" Phineas called to Isabella and her troop.
Ferb pressed a remote button and the floats began to crawl forward. The two floats entered the street side-by-side, greeted by the cheers of the crowds.
Any worry Phineas had previously didn't show now as he smiled and waved with the others. An enormous banner behind him and Ferb displayed the words, "Happy Independence Day!" and megaphone speakers played Stars and Stripes Forever. There was a boom as streamers and confetti burst from the front of the float, erupting like a thundershower of red, white, and blue. The crowd loved it. Up above, Candace had to cover her ears when she heard a bursting cacophony of cheer and applause mixed with the sound of shrieking fireworks.
The show wasn't over yet. Phineas pulled a switch lever to his side, and a platform rose high in the air from the rear of his float. A bubble-like portal opened and two slides extended from the flanks to touch down on the ground; then two lines of men popped up through a trap door underneath and rhythmically slid down to form a dance circle in the street around the float.
Upon closer inspection, the men who were now dancing in sync to the music from the speakers looked robotic, and not just because they were doing the robot. Their features were mechanical yet distinctly represented every President of the United States in animatronic perfection and likeness. "Hail to the Chief" was replaced by a new, upbeat tempo, and they started to sing in their techno-robotic voices.
We are the Presidents,
We're here to sing and dance.
We formed a more perfect union
With strangely fitting pants.
Our heritage of justice
We anxiously preserved,
Although our voters sometimes
Criticized the way we served.
We are the Presidents,
Our likenesses are uncanny.
These robotic exoskeletons
Emphasize that we are manly.
Despite the metals forming
Our structures and our joints,
Our historical knowledge
Overcomes all other points.
We are the Presidents,
From Washington to Bush.
Obama would be here
But he's back there sitting on his tush.
The Obama robot was indeed sitting on the side of the float. "That's not supposed to mean anything," he said to fill the break in music, "we just couldn't think of anything else that rhymed with 'Bush'."
The song continued.
We are the Presidents;
The Executive Branch, some say.
With checks and balances in place
To make sure we aren't Kings one day.
Some say it's a republic,
A sure democracy,
To keep such things in order
And prevent anarchy.
(All) We are the Presidents,
(Washington) I once chopped down a tree.
(Lincoln) I never told a lie,
(FDR) There's no feeling in my knees!
(Teddy Roosevelt) I carry a big stick,
(Jackson) And I'm called 'Old Hickory.'
(All) And you can learn about us all
By studying his-tor-eee!
Happy Fourth of July!
The finale was met with a ferocious cheer from the crowd, who loved the performance. Each of the animatronic robots bowed and returned speedily to the interior of the float. Candace, watching it all from above, looked on in horror as the ultimate bust literally danced away before her with no chance now of her mother seeing. "No! No! No!" She repeated, looking down from the rooftop. "Mom can't be missing this! Where is she?"
Candace desperately cast her eyes over the street below, hoping beyond hope it wasn't too late. In her zeal she leaned just a little too far out over the ledge, and before she could do anything gravity pulled her into its deadly clutches. Fortunately she felt herself slipping and grabbed the edge as she fell, catching herself by her fingers to dangle from the side of the rooftop.
"Help!" She screamed from her suddenly dangerous position. "Somebody HELP ME!" Candace could scream very loudly when she needed to, and the crowd below heard her pleas through the noise.
"That girl is going to fall!" Someone announced, and it took less than a second for everyone to turn and see Candace hanging from the tall building.
Phineas saw too. "Oh no! Ferb, that looks like Candace!" He said, eyes wide with sudden fear for his sister. "We gotta do something, quick!"
He and Ferb looked around for something that could help. Ferb pointed at the huge banner at the rear of the float. "Brilliant!" Phineas said, jumping into action. Ferb extracted the float's remote control from his pocket and guided it for the space directly below Candace. Bystanders rushed to get out of the float's way while Phineas tore the banner from one post, speeding forth to stretch it into a makeshift trampoline for her to land on.
"I can't hold on!" Candace yelled as her grip slipped a fraction.
"Candace, it's gonna be okay!" Phineas called back as Ferb arrived to assist in holding the landing tarp. "We'll catch you!"
The endangered teenager slipped again, and in an instant the tiny amount of friction applied by her fingers was overpowered by gravity's relentlessness; she fell, screaming all the while.
True to their word, the brother protégés braced to catch her. Candace absorbed into the center of the banner and was immediately sent flying on the rebound. She flew through the air, arcing over the street to land gracelessly draped around the shoulders of the Fireside Girl statue on the other float.
"Well, that's an improvement," Phineas stated, "now how are we gonna get her off that?"
As if the universe itself undertook to answer his question, the nails securing the base of the statue ruptured at the added weight; and it tilted precariously to the side, sending Isabella and her troop ducking for cover. Bystanders on the other side of the street scattered now as it leaned further, little by little, threatening to crash into the sidewalk. Several more nails failed as the falling figurine gained momentum, and Candace screamed again as it came crashing down into a telephone pole, settling to lean at an angle a few feet above the street.
Miraculously, Candace wasn't hurt, though the shock had left her momentarily stunned and she flopped weakly onto solid ground.
"Candace, are you okay?" Phineas ran to her side followed by Ferb. Their sister grunted, and her face was a little pale, but she seemed to be alright.
"Yeah," she said, sitting up slowly, "if by 'okay,' you mean I almost died and got crushed by your stupid statue, then I'm great."
"She's okay," Phineas told Ferb, as if clarifying to someone who couldn't catch the sarcasm, before assisting Candace to her feet.
Upon standing and dusting herself off, Candace turned to her brothers and glowered. "Alright, not only did you two and your lame-oh project ruin the parade," she seethed, indicating at the tipped Fireside Girl and the mess in the street, "I almost got crushed by that thing!"
"No harm, no foul," Phineas said, trying to calm her down.
"Ooh! I—you—urgh!" Apparently too exasperated to do more than point and growl, she turned to the gawking crowd. "What are you all looking at?" She said before storming through their ranks, disappearing quickly.
"I guess that could have gone over better," Phineas directed at Ferb. Just then, the wooden telephone pole to their side groaned loudly.
"Watch out!" Someone from the crowd yelled, and the step-brothers looked to see the pole suddenly snap and give way under the weight of the statue. Already it was falling, falling straight for them, and they had no time to react. Phineas knew they would be crushed for sure.
"Phineas!" Isabella cried from somewhere in the background.
All attention focused on the collapsing pole, nobody saw the figure dart out of the shadows. Small and stealthy it was, yet quick and powerful, too. With lightning speed, the figure swept underneath to grab Phineas and Ferb with one arm each, pulling them into the air and blasting into the sky.
Phineas realized that somehow, he was still alive, and what was more, he was held tightly in place by an unusually strong grip. One by one, his senses came back online; first he heard a roaring coming from somewhere behind him, then he looked and saw the rooftops of buildings passing by not far below. To his side, Ferb's ever neutral expression told Phineas that he didn't seem to have a clue what was going on, either. One particular rooftop below them neared and they slowed down to land softly on its surface. Only then did the vicelike grip release him and his brother.
Phineas immediately turned to speak. "Thank you for saving—huh?" The red-headed genius stopped short with mouth agape when he saw Ferb's and his rescuer. Before him stood a short, muscular individual who moved to unstrap his jetpack. The anthropomorphic figure was teal with a familiar looking beak and beaver tail, but the eyes were focused and very alert. Phineas could not believe his eyes, and he experienced a rare moment of speechlessness.
Ferb was taken aback just as much, but he was the first to recover his tongue. "Perry?" He asked, softly.
The platypus smiled and shook his head before opening his mouth. "Not quite, although I can see where you boys would be confused."