The Jubileena rescuing team were the first to leave, Citrusella getting increasingly distraught. They had formulated a plan – get to the circus whilst the attack team distracted Jubilee and the virus, letting Citri deal with anything that might stand in their way, and the subdue Ginger and Miito.
At least, they presumed Miito.
Where was Miito?
Miito was in a very uncomfortable position. Sure, there was enough room in his cage for him to stand up, but no room for him to pace around and vent his anger.
He was angry at two things. One, Jubilee and Twistella. They had grabbed him the night that Ginger had been to talk to Jubilee, shoved him in this cage, and then left him in Twistella’s caravan for the last … two days? He couldn’t even remember.
Two, he was angry at Ginger, and for two reasons. Firstly, he was worried about her. She was alone, with no one to be her eyes, and from what Miito had glimpsed from the plans on the desk before a cover was placed over his cage, in deep business with the evil duo. Secondly, he was angry because she hadn’t found him. As far as Miito could see, she hadn’t even been looking.
Contrary to what Miito believed, Ginger did know he was being held captive. After she asked why, outraged, Jubilee had tapped her nose and said “Well, we can’t exactly trust you, can we? He’s our little safety deposit.” She was deathly worried about him, but she knew as long as she didn’t do anything wrong he wouldn’t get hurt.
So even when she had seen the storm gather above the top, she had stayed in place. Even when she’d heard her friends’ terrified screams, though it pained her, she stayed in place. And even when she saw them all, the people who had practically been her brothers and sisters, fleeing from Jubilee she had stayed in place.
Because though they had been her best friends and practically her family, Miito was her family.
Meanwhile, in the ruin of the beautiful big top, Twistella had returned to human form, floating in the air as she paced back and forth. When she spoke, it was not in her childlike rhyming voice, but that horribly twisted voice that they had heard earlier. Jubilee was wincing at every word, but the virus didn’t seem to notice as she said “We know the racers are going to try and make a comeback. There’s no doubt about it.”
Jubilee looked up at her. “Mistress, once again I ask, why can we not simply kill them? Unplug them?”
Twistella growled. “I told you already, fool. There codes are linked in to closely to the game for them to simply die when we unplug them. More likely, they would all turn into glitches, which is the last thing we want. And you know how bad things would be for everything if we unplugged the performers. No, having their own fans attack them, that will work.”
“But mistress, won’t they simply regenerate?” Asked Jubilee, confused.
Twistella let a distorted, manic grin mar her features. “No… because even now as we speak, I am present in the code room. The second one of them dies, I’ll lock them in the same place I found you. Then, we’ll see if it makes them or breaks them.”
“And if it … makes them, mistress?”
“Well, by then they’ll be ready. But I sense that they will attack us, as I said earlier. So, I want you to guard the girl.”
“The younger me? She is well defended. Why?” Asked Jubilee. “Because, she plays a more important role than you think. She is not simply your insurance – she’s our bait. After all, that crazy sister of yours would do anything for her.”
“Her.” Muttered Jubilee darkly. “But not me.”
“Do you wonder why I chose you Jubilee, over the other forgotten bits of code floating in the abyss? Because of your sister. If she hadn’t been such an imposing person, which such power over the others, I would have picked anyone else. Now, heed my order, and make sure you are there… to capture our prize.”
Back at the caravans, five racers sneaked past the patrolling fans. They reached the dark scarlet caravan with the black hearts painted all down the sides, and tried to peek into the windows, which proved fruitless. Taffyta sneaked round, being the quietest of them all, and had a quick look at the door. Ginger was standing directly in front of it, up the little steps, waiting with a long stick that was reminiscent of the one Twistella was throwing into the air so gleefully when they met her.
She slipped back round to the back. “It’s hopeless to try and get Jubi out without taking Ginger by force. She’s standing right in front of the door, and all the other windows are barred.” She whispered to the team, as they knelt hidden in some bushes at the start of a small thicket.
“Well, what are we waiting for? She’s already betrayed us!” Citrusella replied in a hushed voice. Suddenly, a voice sailed round from the other side of the caravan.
“Ah, blind girl. I trust you haven’t had any unexpected mouthwashes yet?” Came the sneering voice of Jubilee. The team gasped. This wasn’t part of the plan…
Then, Rancis had a stroke of genius.
He whispered in Damon’s ear, and the dum dum boy nodded, making his way to the caravan. He took off his gloves, and pressed his hands against the side gently. The walls began to glitch, but in a controlled fashion, so the two on the other side wouldn’t notice.
“None yet, Darkheart. Now, tell me how Miito is.”
This statement slipped the attention of the team as they continued to watch, fascinated, as Damon managed to make a small hole in the side of the wall.
“Oh, he’ll be fine – as long as he stops growling. It’s starting to get on my nerves a little, and you know how I get when something gets on my nerves.”
Damon crawled inside the hole, leaving the racers outside in suspense. Several times Citrusella began to run forwards, only to be held back by Torvald.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
“Hey… I hear something.”
“It sounds like… glitching? And… Jubileena? And… Damon?”
The team heard Jubilee exclaim in alarm as she ran round the side of the caravan and spotted the racers. Rancis only just and time to scream “DA-” before she froze them. She snarled at them angrily, stalked over, and kicked Citrusella in the stomach. “That’ll make you pay, you little chip.” She said, then she clicked her fingers. Within seconds, the donut police came running, their eyes as dead as the fans, as they hoisted the team away.
Meanwhile, in the soundproof walls of Jubilee’s carriage, Damon was just getting the tight blindfold off Jubileena when the door suddenly opened, flooding the caravan with light. Ginger stood at the entrance, a wild look on her face.
“Quick! Go!” She said, motioning them towards the door. Jubileena started to run towards the noise when Damon grabbed her around the waist and pulled her back.
“You’ve been working against us all along!” He spat. “Why should we trust you?”
“No, please, you don’t understand! You have to go! You have to go save Miito! Leave me if you must, but help him!”
“Miito?” Damon asked, his glare melting slightly. Despite the bear’s grouchy attitude, they’d got on well a lot of the time. “Why, what’s wrong with him?”
“As soon as I’ve done with you, he’ll be dead.” Came a horribly mangled, raspy voice. The three people in the caravan immediately felt like they wanted to claw their ears out – the powerful waves of sound sent Damon and Jubileena to the floor.
Twistella herself had come to deal with them. She turned to Ginger first, and with a sneer of disgust, clicked her fingers. The girl began to rise into the air, twitching uncontrollably, crying out in pain. “You’ve killed him now. And you didn’t even manage to save your friends. You worthless, back-stabbing little piece of-”
“STOP!” Yelled Damon, running forwards against the sound waves, though it felt like knives digging into his ears, and grabbing Ginger’s ankle. With a grimace, he concentrated and she disappeared, reappearing behind him. Even if she had betrayed them, she had also tried to save them. And the virus was the real enemy.
Twistella turned to him. Suddenly, her face softened into the face of the little sister he had loved, and her voice regained it’s sweet, childlike composure.
"But Damon, do you not understand?
We already have the upper hand.
Your friends will die within the day,
There's nothing you can do or say,
And would you not prefer to live?
Your talents would be useful ones to give.
We could promise you anything,
Anything and everything.
After all, wouldn't you like to gain
Vanellope's heart as yours to claim?"
Damon felt himself wavering. Twist seemed so trustworthy - and she was promising him the thing he wanted most... At what price?
As his eyes wavered from the girl in front of him, she grinned evilly. Then, whilst he was still lost in a trance, she clicked his fingers. The sudden sound brought him back to reality, but too late as he felt his body glitch and warp.
He woke up in a cold cell, a band of metal around his stomach. On the front it was written in thick, square letters: "Mod proof chains". He cursed, noting the short chain that banded him to the floor.
"Mmm! Mmm!" He heard from the other side of the cell. He looked up in alarm, finding himself staring into the terrified eyes of Jubileena. She had a gag on this time, and her chains didn't go around her stomach like his, but around her wrists, the one that connected her to the wall was so low down that she had to kneel.
"Jubi!" He shouted, beginning to struggle towards her, but unable to reach her.
She conveyed a silent question with her eyes: Where are we?
"I don't know... But we'll be alright." He comforted her, casting a fearful glance back to the door.
"We'll be alright."
Meanwhile, the rest of the rescue team hadn't been having the best time. They'd been gagged and chained, then dragged into the fun dungeon. Then, Citrusella had been split up from the other and thrown into this cold, dark cell she now found herself in. She screamed and battered on the door, but no one answered. Eventually she just gave up, and went to sit in the centre of the room, the chains on her small wrists weighing her down.
She sniffed quietly. She had failed her sister when Jubes most needed her.
After a while – half an hour? An hour? – the doorknob turned. The blueberry girl looked up expectantly, but cowered away when Jubilee Darkheart herself walked through the door.
“Well, well, well. Fancy meeting you here.” She said, in a way not dissimilar to how Citri and Jubi often greeted one another.
“What do you want with me?” Spat Citrusella.
"Let me tell you a story, Ella." Said Jubilee, ignoring the question as she grabbed a chair that Citrusella hadn't noticed before. The blueberry girl shuddered at the nickname. Only her sister called her that.
"Once upon a time, there were two girls. They were the nicest, kindest, most loving sisters in all of the land. They were also part of a super hero team, commonly known as Sugar Rush. Can you guess who these girls are?" Asked Jubilee mockingly. Citrusella shook her head, but in reality, she could.
Jubilee shrugged and continued. "Anyway, one day one of these girls - the younger, more naïve one - was on a mission with some of their other friends. She made a mess of the mission, quite frankly, endangering herself and others. However, she did nothing to merit her punishment: being excluded from the team. Heartbroken, she went to the one person she had always been told she couldn't trust, as she knew the people she should trust were the ones she shouldn't. He helped her, and then, when she was ready, gave her a new name and made her part of his elite force. Do you know what the new name was, Ella?" She spat at the other girl. Still, Citrusella remained silent.
"The girl got into a sticky situation," carried on Jubilee, ignoring the lack of speech. "And she ended up face to face with her sister. And do you know what her sister did?" She asked. Citrusella didn't answer.
"I said, do you know what her sister did?!" Asked Jubilee again, her eyes narrowing, her face growing steadily darker. Citrusella still refused to talk. Jubilee growled savagely, then grabbed the cherry hair bobble off her stumped pigtail, letting the hair fall in short layers, and threw it at Citrusella. The girl instinctively caught it, but Jubilee shouted at her before she could look at it.
"Answer me!! DO YOU KNOW WHAT HER SISTER DID?!"
"NO!" Shouted Citrusella.
Jubilee stalked over to her angrily. "THAT LITTLE - BLUEBERRY - TART - ABANDONED - HER!!" She screamed, raining blow upon blow onto Citrusella. The other girl yelled and cried out in pain as she raised her arms to cover her face, the cherry bobble still clutched in her hand.
After a minute or so of assault, Jubilee stepped back, flexing her wrists. "You know I never thought it would feel so good to hit you, Ella." She said, staring at the other girl, who was curled into a ball, her lip bust and bleeding, her clothes ripped, her hair messy and tangled, her stomach bruising.
"Don't ... Ever ... Call me that, you filthy piece of code!" She managed to croak, coughing.
Jubilee laughed. "You never used to mind, Ella. And would you call your own sister a filthy piece of code?"
Citrusella glared at the girl. "You are no sister of mine." She spat.
Jubilee laughed. "Then explain why I call you Ella. Explain how I know you stuck your finger in a plug socket age four. Explain why I look so much like my past self."
"Lots of people call me Ella! You could have forced information out of Jubes! Pure coincidence!" Shouted Citrusella back at her, but even she couldn't deny the signs for much longer.
Jubilee smirked. "Explain the proof in your hand."
Citrusella looked down at the tiny cherry bobble curled in her palm. She carefully pulled out the label, which was tucked inside one of the cherries. To her horror, she saw, scribbled on it in the neat handwriting of her sister:
The only difference was the last two letters, which had been crossed out at a later date, with a thick black marker.
"You...you could have taken it from Jubes...you could have written on it!" She said desperately.
Grinning sinisterly and triumphantly, Jubilee withdrew two other hair bobbles from her pockets and through them at Citrusella's feet. They were unmistakable little red cherries, with Jubileena written in perfectly neat handwriting.
"Forgery..." Protested Citrusella half-heartedly, the crushing realisation setting in. Jubilee growled.
"Don't you realise? Can't you sense the connection between us? Earlier, when you bumped into me as I was tied to the train, I was released because of our connection! The game can't comprehend our similarities! It knows you were meant to be like Jubileena, but when I come along with a different name and personality, the game is desperate to combine us, to make us one person! If it had been my past self there, I would have been out of them in a flash! Didn't you notice your chains disappearing when I hit you?"
Citrusella looked down at her wrists - it was true. Her cuffs had disappeared. Suddenly, her brain started whirring. She got to her feet.
"Jubilee - you are not my sister." She said, fire growing in her eyes, clutching the two cherry bobbles that belonged to Jubileena in her hand. "My sister is sweet, kind, caring, loving, compassionate, and most certainly not EVIL!" She screamed, jumping at the other girl, taking her by surprise. She got Jubilee into a head lock, the leant down next to her ear.
"Mark my words, cherry," she said, slipping the keys off Jubilee's belt as the girl continued to struggle. "I will personally make sure you never exist." She hissed, throwing her sister's evil future across the room, before running out and slamming the door behind her.
"I'll kill you, Citrusella!!" She heard Jubilee scream as the door shook. "Not if I kill you first!" Sang the other girl merrily, as she skipped away.
She walked down a long corridor, glancing into all the barred windows of the doors. She didn't see anything for several cells, until she reached one at a fork in the path.
She looked inside and gasped.
Whilst Citrusella had been having her run in with her sister's future, Damon and Jubileena had been having their own incident. A few minutes after they woke up, Twistella had entered their cell.
"Enjoying your new accommodations, I see,
Oh don't thank me, thank Jubilee!"
When they both looked at her in confusion and fear, she rolled her eyes.
"Well we can all live in the past sometimes,
And that statement needs no further rhyme!"
“Live in the past… what are you talking about?” Asked Damon, thoroughly confused. Twistella smiled.
“Well, if you wanted to pull up a tree,
You must first get to its roots, you see!
But if a tree doesn’t want to be cut,
It will hide its roots, to prevent a heist!”
“Are you calling Jubilee a tree? And her roots are … um …” Damon tried to piece together the puzzle Twistella was laying out, but she held up a hand.
“Do not fret over it now,
But rather, take a bow!
For Damon, you have been elected,
To join our team, unobjected!”
Damon sneered at her. “Why would I want to join you? I made the mistake in hesitation earlier and you threw us in here.”
Twistella cocked her head.
“Well, if you were to disagree,
You may have tried to attack me!
But here you can agree or refuse –
After all, you’ve got nothing to lose!
Not to mention, she who holds your heart,
Could be yours, to never be apart.
So what do you say Damon, what do you think?
Will you become our missing link?”
Once again, Damon hesitated. He just couldn’t help himself – Twistella made it sound so easy, so harmless, just as if it was a game. And she was right – what did he have to lose now?
Suddenly, he locked eyes with Jubileena. She was struggling against her chains, desperately trying to form words despite her gag, shaking her head at him violently, tears of fear in her warm brown eyes.
She who holds your heart.
Damon could hear his heartbeat. It beat strongly and courageously, continuously pumping the warm scarlet blood around his body, not hesitating even for a second. It couldn’t afford to hesitate – and neither could Damon.
He stood up as well as he could, the heavy chains around his waist dragging him down. He could imagine his heartbeat echoing through the walls, filling the room with a strange yet familiar and comforting warmth. A soft red light fell over his eyes.
She stared at him, trying as best as she could to at one conceal yet also show him her fear. A portrait of red, from the tip of her hair to the stem of her hat. Beautiful red warmth.
He knew what he wanted. And he knew who he wanted.
And most importantly, he knew who held his heart.
He sneered at Twistella, then opened his mouth.
The word echoed around him, bouncing through the air. The virus’s face twisted into a scowl, and she clenched her fists as she began to float.
The heavy chocolate door swung open, hitting Twistella square in the face, making the girl fall backwards and slump against the wall. The light pooled in, and a figure walked through the door.
“Ha! That’ll teach you, virus!” Crowed Citrusella victoriously as she ran into the room. Then, she went directly to her sister, hugging her and comforting her as she took off the gag and undid her chains. Jubileena heaved a great sob of relief as she fell into her sister’s open arms. After the two girls had hugged each other for a while, and shed a few tears, Citrusella brought her enormous ring of keys (thankfully labelled) over to Damon, and proceeded to unlock his chains. He rubbed his sore torso and straightened, then, surprising the girl, grabbed Citrusella and pulled her into a bone-crushing hug.
After this happy reunion, the three teens made their way down the corridor, not daring to split up again, until they found the cell with their friends. Unlike them, the other three had not been chained, but they were obviously the subject of some interrogation. Taffyta was clutching her side as she knelt on the floor, scarlet stains blossoming underneath her hands, and Torvald had cuts down her arms and a bruise on her face, but the one in the worst state was Rancis.
He was out stone cold, and his face was so beat up it barely looked like him. The other two were kneeling by his side, Taffyta with tears running down her face. When Citrusella, Jubileena and Damon arrived, they looked up in shock and fear, until their face broke into grins of recognition. They ran towards them despite their bruises, hugging them and blubbering words into their shoulders.
“Wait, what happened to you guys?” Asked Citrusella. “Well, after we got separated from you, they chucked us in here…” Started Torvald, who was leaning on Jubileena.
“And then a hypnotised guard came in, and started questioning us about where we were hiding.” Continued Taffyta, walking back over to Rancis. “We didn’t answer.” She said, sending a wry smile at Torvald, who grinned back. “So they got violent.” She continued, her grin dropping. “Rancis tried to defend us, so he got the worst of it. They only left when he passed out, a few minutes ago.”
Torvald frowned. “So, that’s about it. Now, let’s get out of here while we still can!”
Damon and Torvald grabbed Rancis’s arms, and, slinging them over his own shoulders, carried him to the door. They made it out without any problems – or at least, none Citrusella couldn’t handle.
When they got outside, they were faced with a problem.
“How are we going to get back?” Asked Jubileena. “No one’s got a kart.”
“Oh, I know, I’ll call Vanellope!” Said Taffyta, pulling a pink phone out of nowhere, seemingly. “What?! How did you keep your phone? They searched us!” Shouted Torvald. Taffyta raised an eyebrow. “Well, they weren’t exactly going to check my underwear…”
“Resourceful.” Came a croak from the middle of the group.
“Rancis!” Cried the others happily as the Reese’s boy raised his head. “We were so worried about you!” Sobbed Taffyta and Torvald as they both hugged him.
After a few more hugs, Taffyta managed to get through to Vanellope, who was relieved to hear from them, and sent Sakura and Adorabeezle to come pick them up. Fifteen minutes later, they were back on the karts, driving to safety. Twenty minutes later, they arrived.
“Sheesh! What happened to you guys?” Cried Cherry as they came through the secret entrance. “It’s a long story – I’ll explain when you’re all here.” Said Damon. Cherry frowned. “Well, we better get you guys to the beds – you all look pretty beat up-”
“RANCIS!” Came a cry from above as Vanellope dropped down from a ledge and ran over to the blonde boy, taking his face in her hands. “Oh my mod, what happened to you? We need to get you to the beds, now! All of you!” She said, taking his weight off the other two and leading him away as she beckoned for the others to follow her.
Most did, but Damon hung back. “So have the others left?” He asked Cherry. “Yeah… Gloyd’s team left just before you called.” She said, her voice cracking a little. Damon squeezed her shoulders quickly. “Hey. Gloyd’s a clever guy. He’ll know what to do.”
Cherry cheered up a little at this, then turned to him. “So, what happened to you guys there?”
Damon looked ahead to the group, where the flash of red that saved his life was helping Torvald with an ice pack.
“I found out who holds my heart.”