Miles coughed up water and gasped for air as he was dropped on the beach. Finn looked at him with a discrete confusion, and then decided to question the Range Rover.
“So”, McMissile began, “How did all of this come about?”
Miles was still stunned from his near death experience, but he mustered an answer, “Zundapp and his lackeys, we were heading to Germany by boat. Then Zundapp revealed that he wanted to get rid of me, because I had no funds…”
Miles realized something that infuriated him, and with a roar of his engine he charged full speed at Finn, “This is all your fault! Your agency robbed me blind!”
Finn rolled backward and felt his grill, recognizing a nasty dent that had been inflicted on him, “This was not my fault. You committed the crime that caused your fortune to be confiscated; you decided to work with the lemons again.”
Miles glared at the Aston Martin with rage, “Of course you’d try to pin it on me! I’m innocent, but you don’t see lemons that way!”
“You planned to kill eleven racecars”, Finn reminded him, “Besides, you’re not on the lemons’ side anymore. You hate me, but you must realize that in the end the lemons you thought were your friends tried to kill you and the agent you thought was your enemy saved your life.”
“What do you want me to do?” Miles shouted, “Everything has been taken from me! My money, my friends, my monopoly, my freedom…”
“But not your dignity”, Finn interjected.
“No”, Miles shook his hood, “I lost that a long time ago.”
“I know you’re damaged emotionally, Axelrod”, Finn sympathized with the Range Rover, “But the path you’re on isn’t the only one. I know a chap who’s as rusty as anyone I’ve ever met, but he doesn’t let it get him down.”
“He’s a traitor”, Miles shuddered at the memory of Mater, “Turning on his own kind.”
“Say what you will about him”, Finn argued, “But you could take a few pages from his book. Now come on, if you cooperate and answer a few questions I could knock some substantial time off your sentence.”
Miles reluctantly agreed. Finn had been courteous, and somewhat sympathetic, but that didn’t make Miles think much higher of him. However, If answering a few questions to incriminate the cars who had just attempted to murder him would help his chances of being a free car, he was all for it. He coasted after Finn towards the nearest Airport, where no doubt Siddely was waiting.
Nearly six days later, the shady freighter carrying Acer, Grem, and the Professor was nearing the German port. On the horizon rose a series of wharfs and warehouses, accompanied by a variety of vessels docked in the harbor. The freighter looked from side to side, then spotted a secluded area where he could sneak in without a tugboat’s assistance. Once the freighter was safely hidden by the hidden quayside the three lemons disembarked. Grem and Acer hauled the materials while the Professor led the way. The shady freighter looked down at the lemons.
“Hey”, the massive vessel pondered, “Weren’t there four of you when we set off?”
“You better practice your counting”, Grem insulted, “Because there have been three of us the whole time.”
“Alright”, the vessel surrendered, “I already got paid, doesn’t make a difference if some punk didn’t get a ride.”
The vessel blasted his horn and sailed out to sea again. This time a tugboat spotted him and he was in for trouble, but the lemons were already off the deck. They couldn’t care less if their ride was about to be fined. As always, Zundapp preferred the backstreets, and so they found an underused road that weaved behind the city. The Professor scanned the buildings as they passed them, growing increasingly disappointed.
“We have much further to go”, Professor Z sighed, “We need to get to my old University in Munich for the conference.”
“You went to school in Munich?” Acer asked.
“You wouldn’t be so surprised if you listened to me more”, Zundapp insulted, “Maybe you should take notes.”
“So, Professor”, Grem changed the subject, “Why are we going to where you studied at? Why aren’t you having a conference at Harvard, the place you taught at?”
“Maybe there’s a high school reunion”, Acer suggested.
“Please, this is a college!” Professor Z said derisively, “I think you both know very well that none of us would set wheel in a high school for our reunion parties. Those gatherings are only for those who didn’t have a miserable high school experience.”
A flash of anger ran across the three lemons’ faces as they recalled the embarrassment of their youth. Zundapp was almost too heated to notice the large campus to the left of the secluded road. He turned suddenly and Grem and Acer struggled to follow him in time. Zundapp coasted through the narrow gap between the buildings and emerged from the crevice, rotating to face the front of the college. While there were some minor changes, the architecture had remained basically the same. Professor Z opened the doors and slid inside, Grem and Acer on his trail.
Professor Z, Grem, and Acer rolled down the hall. The Professor put on a phony smile as to not arouse suspicion, but the judgmental glances he received convinced him to drop the luxury and dawn his usual, shark-like glare.
Zundapp slowed in front of a set of double doors, then pivoted to face his lackeys, “I have an important task for you. Behind these doors is a large lecture hall packed with scientists. They will all be presenting, and when I go up and say what I have to say I expect things to go just as I have planned them.”
“What’s our part, then?” Grem asked, ready to start.
“I have a chemical here that you must deliver”, Professor Z retrieved a small test tube filled with red liquid, “You need to mix this into the refreshments.”
“Won’t someone notice a couple of lemons poisoning their beverages?” Acer questioned.
“I’m not poisoning anyone”, the Professor insisted, “I’m simply altering a few things about the attendees. Besides, the beverages are in the kitchen, they only bring them out at intermission. I have my presentation directly after, giving it the perfect amount of time to take effect.”
“Take affect how?” Grem was curious.
“Don’t ask so many questions”, Professor Z ordered, “You’ll see soon enough. Just don’t drink any of this.”
“Of course not”, Acer was insulted to be told the obvious, “Unless it’s got some sort of benefit.”
“Trust me”, Professor Z flashed a twisted grin, “We’ll be the only ones benefitting!”
With that, the Professor gave the test tube to Grem and drove through the double doors. A mixture of greetings and jeers could be heard as Zundapp entered the room. Then the doors swung shut again and silence returned to the hallway. Grem and Acer looked around for the kitchen, and after ascertaining that it did not reside anywhere close to them they drove down the hall to find it. A student passed by the lemons, looking them up and down with disapproval.
“What?” Grem shouted, “Move along if you don’t want your hood smashed in, skippy!”
The car gunned his engine and sped away from the lemons. He had no idea that looking at two unfamiliar lemons could be so seemingly dangerous. Acer kept looking around until he spotted a small stall on the corner of the hall way, leading into a bigger room full of cooking supplies and inventory.
“That must be the kitchen”, Acer observed, “How should we go about this?”
“Hmmm”, Grem looked around, coming to the conclusion that the hallway’s traffic flow was noticeably light, “I don’t think we’ll have much of a problem sneaking in there. And if we have any chefs give us trouble…”
“We take care of them”, Acer smirked with malevolence.
The kitchen had a door on the wall beside it leading to the main food preparation stations. Grem and Acer drove through it cautiously, watching out for any cooks that might not take kindly to their presence. All seemed well until Acer rounded a corner too quick and a busboy noticed them.
“Hey, you’re not supposed to be in here”, the busboy said to the two intruders, “You’re going to have to wait out front if you want something.”
“We’re not here to eat”, Acer explained, “Now why don’t you go on break for a few minutes? It’d be in everyone’s best interest.”
“You trying to intimidate me, fishbowl?” The busboy chuckled.
“No, but I am now!” Acer charged full speed at the unsuspecting busboy, smashing head-on into the microbus.
Acer forced the busboy backward with incredible speed until they neared the fryers. A deafening smash was heard as metal concaved into metal and the microbus imploded into the deep fryer and then the wall behind it. He flattened like a tin can, and fell to the ground like an accordion as two sources of boiling oil ran down from the source of the impact. Acer’s front end was damaged, but he had repaired such injuries many times before. Grem rode up beside the Pacer with a sick smile as the two rolled away from the severe destruction of both the busboy and the deep fryer.
At the back of the kitchen sat a long kart stacked with refreshments. Both lemons sighed at the vast selection of beverages before them. Around four-hundred, each in an individually sealed glass bottle.
“There’s no way we’re going to get a drop from this test tube into every one of those in time for the intermission”, Grem stood in awe at the impossible task.
“I’ve got it!” Acer counted the types of drinks, then picked up five bowls from the nearby cabinets and set them down on the counter.
“What are you doing?” Grem was stumped at Acer’s seemingly ridiculous actions.
“We’ll serve it like punch!” Acer undid a bottle and poured it into a bowl, “lets split all of these different drinks into groups and pour them in like that!”
“Acer, you’re a genius!” Grem helped his friend in emptying the bottles, making sure to split them all up into the designated bowls.
“We’ll need cups, too”, Acer realized, “And ladles. You keep doing that and I’ll find some.”
Acer was about to leave the back of the kitchen when he heard voices up ahead. Some employees had found Acer’s victim and were examining the remains. Acer reversed back down the hall silently, swearing under his breath. Acer couldn’t take out three more cars with his strength, and he definitely couldn’t do it discreetly. He and Grem were boxed in.
“Um, Grem?” Acer came back to relay the news, “We’ve got a bit of a situation.”
“What kind of situation?” Grem looked up from a half-filled bowl at Acer.
“That busboy got discovered”, Acer said with concern, “I thought he was hidden well behind the shelving, but they must have still seen him.”
“They work here!” Grem shook his hood, “So there’s no way out?”
“Not as far as I can see”, Acer sighed, “What do we do?”
“Let me think”, Grem pondered their options, “Okay. Help me with the rest of these bottles, then I’ve got an idea.”
The AMCs finished emptying the refreshments and Grem evenly dispersed the chemical the Professor had given them among the five bowls. Once the cart was loaded and space was left for cups, Grem pulled a lighter out from his hatchback.
“What are you doing, Grem?” Acer became alarmed as Grem started lighting the countertop on fire, “You want to get us killed?”
“Just put on a chef’s hat and let’s drive for the exit”, Grem threw on a hat and revved up his engine.
The fire spread quickly, nearing the sight of the demolished busboy. The two lemons sped out of the way back of the kitchen, Acer throwing any cups he saw under the cart and Grem yelling out to the employees.
“Kitchen fire, kitchen fire!” Grem shouted, “Let us through, move aside!”
Just as they were out of the kitchen, Acer locked the door behind him and the three cooks were stranded in an inferno. Grem and Acer rounded the corner of the hall and then slowed down, trying to look inconspicuous. A loud explosion could be heard, along with the final cries of three kitchen employees. If not for the noise cancelling doors of the lecture hall, Professor Z’s plans probably would have been ruined. However, because the attendees of the conference were unaware of the chaos set in motion by Grem and Acer, everything stayed on track. The two AMCs waited for the noise to subside and then they entered the room. It was time for intermission.
Acer had thrown the cups and ladles haphazardly into the bottom of the cart, so they had to be set up upon entry of the room. Despite this delay, the scientists waited for their refreshments. Once everything had been set up, the scientists formed a line and each got their drink of choice. There were a few attendees who did not, but with the majority getting beverages it likely wouldn’t make too much of a difference. At last everyone had received their refreshments and returned to their seats. Professor Z took the stage.
“Guten tag, scientists”, Professor Z greeted the audience, “I am Professor Janus Zundapp, I’m sure you all know me.”
The audience remained silent, the Professor giving an insulted glare at the audience, “Very well, I will get on with it. I have discovered an incredibly rare, err, mutation in a Ford Edsel. This mutation creates not only physical but cerebral changes in a vehicle.”
The Professor put a diagram up on the wall behind him and used a pointer to reference different parts, “As you can see, this particular car developed not only abnormalities in average paintwork but in bodily make up, large fangs sprouting from the front bumper…”
“Is this some kind of joke?” Asked a car in the audience, followed by a wave of laughter from the audience.
“Ha ha”, the Professor gave an unamused laugh, “I expected as much. I knew you would not believe me, this is quite an unbelievable discovery. The true source remains unknown, and I refuse to believe in what was presented to me by this particular Edsel. However, I came prepared, and you shall all see, or rather feel, this extraordinary mutation in a matter of seconds.”
The Professor laughed manically, and for a few moments the crowd was convinced he was simply a raving madman. Then came what Zundapp had promised. Throughout the audience, vehicles that had once been high ranking scientists began a horrific transformation. Fangs sprouted from bumpers, front end paintwork began to tint red, and paint began to melt away revealing the basecoat under the outer layers. A descent into madness occurred in that room, until everyone had become a cannibalistic, prehistoric monster far below Everett’s intelligence level. The results were even better than Professor Z had anticipated.
Meanwhile, Grem and Acer had realized the danger and broke into a panic. Professor Z exited through the stage door and blocked it from behind. Grem and Acer did the same with the double doors up front, getting out into the hall just in time to avoid the army of devolved devil cars. They drove down the hall as quickly as possible to meet the Professor. They burst through the front doors and stopped beside Zundapp, who was observing the chaos that had ensued upon the building with criminal joy. The main building was on fire, the scientists were transformed, and sirens could be heard far in the distance.
Zundapp grinned with delight, “Now that, was a productive lecture!”