Alan Harris had grown up so much in Candace’s eyes. He had come a long way from the little boy she found in one of the New York dimensions, having lost his family in an alien invasion. He and Candace traveled together most of his life, and while she only garnered a few extra wrinkles on her beautifully aging face, Alan had grown into quite the handsome young man.
It made her wonder how much longer he could go on journeying with her. In a few days, it would be his twentieth birthday. He already showed signs of edginess since turning eighteen, but Candace only presumed it to be the usual teen angst. Now she knew better. Alan eventually had to live his own life.
Beeping from her TARDIS control console diverted her attention away from Alan and onto something rare: “There’s another TARDIS following us in the dimensional corridor.”
“That ain’t possible, is it?” Alan questioned. “I mean, yours is the only one I know.”
Even Candace was uncertain herself.
When she brought the other TARDIS up on the monitor, they discovered it was a much rounder model with a sleek white body, a window, and a door on one side. Candace had never seen such a TARDIS before, nor had she ever met the pilot. He requested an open channel with her and she granted it.
The intimidating yet friendly face of a bald black man popped up on her console monitor. He smiled in satisfaction when he noticed Candace. “Good to see you again, baby girl!” he cheered. “You’ve grown so much since I last saw you!”
“You know this dude?” Alan asked Candace.
“Not to my knowledge,” Candace remarked.
The gentleman on the monitor shook his head foolishly. “Of course you don’t recognize me. You weren’t there when I regenerated. It was shortly after the Doctor took you away from the farm.”
Following on that context, Candace’s eyes inflamed with recognition. “Pop?!”
“Pop?” Alan repeated questionably. “This is your dad? My grandad?” He then looked on the live feed of the bald gentleman and stated, “But he’s a brotha!”
“I used to be a white man with long hair,” the gentleman told his grandson, rubbing his hairless scalp. “Nowadays I’m just rockin’ the ‘Milk Dud’ look.” Centering back on Candace, he requested, “Mind if I come aboard, baby girl?”
“S-Sure, Pop,” Candace stammered. “Ain’t nothin’ but a peanut.”
With a few knobs turned and a couple of buttons pushed, Candace permitted her father’s entire TARDIS ship to materialize within one open space of the console room. It was a feat that impressed Alan, who imagined he had seen all of what Candace’s wondrous alien spacecraft was capable of.
When her father stepped out of his TARDIS, Candace and Alan marveled over how much taller he was compared to the two of them – Candace already stood close to five-foot-eleven, while Alan had her beat by a few inches.
“I should probably mention that I don’t go by ‘Steven Curtsinger’ anymore,” her father stated. “After the change, I thought it was a good idea to put a new name with the face. So, I go by ‘Skeeta Jenkins’ now.”
“You regenerated,” Candace reflected uneasily. “The Doctor once told me about it. I’ve yet to experience it, but it sounds like a terrifying process.”
“I’m not gonna lie – it is painful,” Skeeta said. “But you’ll get used to it after the first time.” He was quick to move on from the topic and get down to business. “The reason I reached out to you, baby girl, is that I picked up on an anomaly in one of the realms. When I went there to investigate, I discovered a few refugees from two separate dimensions that need help getting back to their homes.”
Candace shrugged. “Well, you know I’m always willing to help anyone displaced from their reality to get back, Pop, but – if you don’t mind me askin’ – why couldn’t you have got them back in your TARDIS?”
“Because some of the refugees from one dimension have been separated in the worst city in any universe: Gotham City.”
Candace and Skeeta worked together to interlock their TARDIS computers, so that they could use Candace’s Type-Z model to pinpoint the nuage signature emitted by the displaced refugees in Gotham City of Earth-N. It brought them directly to the city docks, Candace’s TARDIS materializing beside a 1960s panel van, painted a medium blue with a distinctive horizontal green stripe around it and adorned with two orange flowers. Each side of the van had a distinctive painted green panel with “The Mystery Machine” painted in orange. The front of the van had a spare tire carrier, painted green, with one large orange flower located in the center.
Standing nearby the psychedelic van was a group of colorful teenagers: a young blond man wearing an orange ascot, a redhead wearing a purple headband and a green scarf, a lanky young man with a goatee, and a bespectacled brunette in a baggy, thick turtle-necked orange sweater.
They were accompanied by a large brown, black-spotted Great Dane.
“Meet the Mystery Inc. gang,” Skeeta introduced Candace and Alan to them. He pointed to the blond man with the ascot. “This is Fred Jones.” He then pointed to the redhead. “That’s Daphne Blake.” He motioned to the lanky young man and the bespectacled brunette. “Shaggy Rogers and Velma Dinkley.” And he finished with the Great Dane. “And last but not least…Scooby-Doo.”
Candace looked over the kids and noticed one small, red furry creature hiding behind Daphne’s legs. “Who’s that lil’ guy?” she asked her father.
Daphne looked down at the creature hiding behind her and giggled. “Oh, that’s Elmo,” she said. “He’s another one of us that’s a long way from home.” She crouched down next to the timid furry creature and gingerly said, “It’s O.K., Elmo. They’re here to help us.”
Candace noticed how terrified Elmo appeared. “Poor thing’s frightened speechless,” she observed.
“Yeah, he’s been that way since he got separated from his friends,” Fred said. “We found him lost in the streets – wet, cold, and alone. The only one he seems to warm up to is ol’ Scoob.” He gestured to the Great Dane, who comfortingly brushed against Elmo, bringing a happy chuckle out of the furry character.
“Elmo…” Alan pondered on the name after hearing it a few times. “Like the little Muppet off Sesame Street?”
“You know about Elmo’s home?” Elmo asked Alan, surprising the Mystery Inc. gang by speaking for the first time since they found him.
“Well, yeah,” Alan responded. “I used to watch it on television when I was little.”
His response baffled Elmo. “Elmo can’t remember Sesame Street ever being on television before.”
“What really matters, Elmo, is that I promise to get you and your friends back home to Sesame Street,” Candace vowed. She looked to the Mystery Inc. gang and added, “That goes for all of you.”
“Like, thanks, lady,” Shaggy said. “The sooner, the better.”
“Oh, you’re just saying that ’cause we’ve already got a mystery on our hands,” Velma told Shaggy.
“What mystery?” Skeeta inquired. “What’ve you kids been meddling into since I’ve been gone?”
“A lot of strange activity’s been happening in this city,” Fred explained. “And we’ve boiled it down to one name: Dr. Jonathan Crane. We stopped by Arkham Asylum an hour ago to interview him and he told us a lot of weird stuff.”
“Like this method he uses to help his patients get over their episodes,” Daphne said. “He puts on this freaky burlap mask that looks like a scarecrow.”
“O.K., so…why has that brought you to the city docks?” Skeeta asked.
“After our interview with Crane, I called his secretary to claim that we ‘missed’ the meeting and had to reschedule for another time,” Velma recalled. “When I asked her if we could do it later this evening, she told me Crane has an appointment of his own that he’s going to with Carmine Falcone here at the docks.”
They surveyed the area, sighting thuggish-looking men taking boxes out from an open container. It wasn’t long before a Sedan pulled up.
A heavyset, bearded man with long curly hair stepped out.
“That’s Detective Flass!” the surprised Daphne noted.
“As in Gotham Police Detective Flass?!” Velma said, sounding just as surprised as Daphne. “Please tell me he’s here to raid out these crooks.”
“Doesn’t look like it,” Fred said. “He just ripped open that stuffed toy like he was anxious to see what was inside it.”
“Like, what’s in those toys anyway?” Shaggy asked.
“It looks like some kind of packaged drug,” Velma observed.
Daphne gasped. “Detective Flass did not just hand that drug-filled toy back to that crook, did he?!”
“It looks like this mystery’s a lot bigger and more dangerous than we expected,” Fred stated. “Even the police are in on this!”
“Maybe Detective Flass is undercover?” Candace suggested.
“Very unlikely,” Velma denied. “He has his badge on him.”
Fred noticed Flass going into a warehouse facility, presumably to meet up with Falcone and Crane. It was just the moment he seized in getting to the bottom of the mystery. “Alright, now that we’ve got Mr. Jenkins and his friends here, we have better ground to cover.”
“You’re seriously suggesting we split up and look for clues in place filled with guys armed with guns?!” Shaggy panicked.
“I know, Shaggy, which is why we’ll have to be discreet,” Fred recommended.
“Surely you don’t intend for Elmo to be part of this, do you?” Daphne beseeched, her concern for the furry monster akin to that of a mother.
“Of course not,” Fred clarified. “He stays here by the Mystery Machine with Scooby.” He then sternly looked on Scooby and ordered, “Keep him safe, Scoob.”
The Great Dane saluted a paw like a dedicated soldier and grunted, “Right!”
Candace and Alan found it exciting to be looking for clues within an active crime scene. Candace requested that they’d be paired with each other, although Alan wasn’t too pleased about it. While they were alone in one area of the docks, she took advantage of the privacy to confront the issue her adopted son had.
“Is there something you wanna talk about, hon?” she asked him.
“Not really,” Alan replied with a shrug. “Why?”
“’Cause you’ve been sorta grouchy lately.”
“You didn’t seem all too happy about being paired with me on this hunt.”
“I dunno. Maybe ’cause I just wanna be my own man for once. You didn’t even give me a chance to decide if I wanted to be paired with you!”
“Well, do you?”
“No! I don’t!”
Candace was struck by his snap reply.
Their heated discussion came to an abrupt conclusion as soon as they heard gunfire and screaming in the distance. A middle-aged man in a suit soon crossed their path, armed with a handgun. His face was drenched in sweat and fear, desperately trying to escape from something that had his heart racing. Candace assumed he was the “Carmine Falcone” character that the Mystery Inc. gang mentioned earlier, judging from the “mob boss” motif he carried in his overall appearance.
When he faced forward and spotted Candace and Alan, he reflectively fired his gun on Candace, the bullet tearing through her abdomen and exiting out from her back.
Candace staggered, clutching her stomach.
Alan was mortified, holding onto her to keep her steady. “Mama, you O.K.?!”
“Who the hell are you people?” Falcone hissed, keeping his gun on them. “Are you with that…that thing?!”
“YOU SHOT HER!” Alan roared to Falcone, infuriated.
“And I’ll do the same to you, kid, unless you answer my question!” Falcone stormed, his grip on the handgun tightening.
All of the sudden, Alan detected a bright golden glow between him and his mother. Looking down, he saw her hands radiating with some sort of energy. Candace looked on them, her eyes flooding with tears, knowing what this meant. Her gaze fixed on her adopted son, she whispered, “I’m sorry, sweetie.”
Before Alan could ask what was happening to her, he was pushed away by some invisible force that briefly got ahold of him. It was simultaneous with the sudden explosion of golden energy that came from his mother. Her arms outstretched and her head tilted back, every part of her body was engulfed by the golden energy. The display was so bright that Alan and Falcone had to look away to avoid blindness.
It didn’t last for very long.
Once all the energy had been dispersed, Candace’s body ceased glowing.
Alan finally looked back on her and was shocked to discover that the tall, aging blond Caucasian woman he had known his whole life had been replaced by a short, younger Asian woman with long, wavy black hair. She looked as beautiful and athletic as Candace, but her notably shorter frame left the white half-buttoned shirt and denim cutoffs of her predecessor hanging loose on her.
“Pop was right – that was painful!” She reacted to the new voice she spoke with, her hand going to her throat. “Is that my voice now? Man, this is so weird!” She then twisted her body around, examining her backside in the denim cutoffs. “Did my butt cheeks shrink, too? ’Cause they don’t fill these shorts like they used to!”
“Mama?” She looked away from her backside and towards Alan, seeing the bewildered look on his face. “Is that…you?”
Her mind was still fuzzy from the change. She knew who the young man in front of her was, but she didn’t know at the same time. And then there was the old white guy standing not far behind him, looking totally freaked out. “What the hell’s going on here?!” he bellowed.
Then, out of nowhere, something large and black dropped from above and swooped him up off the ground. His gun fired off as he was lifted to the heavens.
Skeeta and the Mystery Inc. kids arrived just in time to see it happen.
But their attention was quickly diverted from Falcone’s abduction to the new woman Alan accompanied. “Who’s this? And where did she come from?” Velma asked of the mysterious Asian female.
“S-She’s…my mom,” the spellbound Alan uttered in a hush.
While the Mystery Inc. gang had no idea what he meant, having been earlier introduced to his mother (the tall, middle-aged Caucasian blonde named Candace), Skeeta recognized what had occurred. “You regenerated,” he said, almost proudly.
The moment was interrupted with the arrival of the Gotham City Police, who placed everyone under arrest – including Skeeta, Alan, Mystery Inc., and the woman who used to be Candace.
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