“Have you guys seen this?!” gasped Attention-Seeking Ashley, bursting in on the others in the spaceship over Walt Disney World with her phone in her hand.
“What is it?” the Misfit Fans all wondered.
“It’s from Nick!” Ashley exclaimed, showing them her Twitter feed. “He wants to recruit more members for Carter’s Cartel!”
“It’s about bloody time!” sniffed Long-Suffering Lisa. “What do we have to do?”
“He wants us to send him selfies from our spaceship!” Self-Absorbed Sarah said excitedly, snapping a picture of herself inside the ship over Disneyland Paris.
Meanwhile, Homicidal Holly was replying to one of Nick’s tweets from the spaceship hovering over Hong Kong Disneyland.
Nick Carter @nickcarter
I know there is much we can learn from each other if we can negotiate a truce. We can find a way 2 coexist. Can there be a peace between us?
Homicidal Holly @HollyHatesEverything
@nickcarter Peace? No peace.
Nick Carter @nickcarter
What is it you want us to do? @HollyHatesEverything
Homicidal Holly @HollyHatesEverything
Back in the Wylee trailer, Nick watched the follow requests and @replies pour in.
“Yessss…” he sighed sinisterly, as he accepted all the ones accompanied by an authentic spaceship selfie. “All is going according to plan.”
The sun was still low in the sky when the Backstreet Boys regrouped in front of the Walt Disney statue, which had been decapitated in the attack on Sleeping Beauty Castle. Mickey, thankfully, had remained intact, but his creator’s head lay several feet away. AJ stooped to pick it up. He turned it over in his hand, running his fingers down the crack through the center of Walt’s face.
“Will you put that down?” Kevin suddenly snapped at him. “We’ve got work to do!”
AJ sighed, looking around the abandoned plaza. “Seriously, Kev? Even if we thought Nick’s plan would work, we don’t have the manpower to pull it off.”
Brian looked over at Nick. “I thought Howie was going to recruit some more pilots. Whatever happened with that?”
“I dunno,” said Nick, frowning, as it dawned on him that someone was still missing from their ranks. “Where the hell is Howie, anyway?”
“Did somebody say ‘Howie D’?”
Their hearts lifted hopefully as they turned around to see Howie marching toward them, leading an army of Disney characters. “Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work we go!” sang the seven dwarves as they trouped along behind him, barely a head shorter than Howie himself. Fluttering over their heads were Tinker Bell and her fellow fairies, followed by every bird, bat, and bug who had ever been featured in a Disney movie, it seemed.
“Well, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I told him to find anyone who can fly,” Nick muttered to Brian, “but I guess they’ll do.”
They were soon joined by Captain Hook in his flying pirate ship - a welcomed addition, since it was already equipped with its own canons - and Baloo the bear, who had become a bush pilot since leaving the jungle. “Let’s begin!” Baloo shouted, laughing cockily as he circled over the plaza in small seaplane. Then he sang out his window, “Oh-ee-ay… TaleSpin!”
“Oh-ee-oh… TaleSpin!” those on the ground echoed back.
“Friends for life through thick and thin, with another tale to spin!” sang Nick and Brian, slapping each other a high five.
“And that is Howie do it!” added Howie with a thumbs-up.
“Yes, uh… well done, Howie.” Kevin coughed. “AJ, could you make sure all the new recruits get armed with laser guns? Howie can imagine some more up for you.”
“Aye-aye, Kev,” said AJ, saluting him. “D and I are on it.”
Once everyone was armed and ready, they assembled by the broken statue again. Kevin climbed up onto the statue’s base to address the small crowd.
“Good morning,” he began and then cleared his throat. “Good morning. In less than an hour, our Dumbo aircrafts from here will join Disney characters from across the decades, and we will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of the Happiest Place on Earth.”
Kevin looked across the crowd, his eyes landing upon the seven dwarves’ smiling faces. (Well, six were smiling, anyway. Grumpy, Kevin saw, was still scowling. He forced himself to focus on Happy’s face instead.)
“Happiness,” he said. “That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty problems anymore. We’ve seen what happens when people allow anger and misery to take away any chance of happiness.” He pointed to the spaceship over their heads. “We will be united in our hope for the future. Perhaps it’s fate that today is Christmas Eve… and we will, once again, be anticipating the arrival of our savior. Not the Son of God or Santa Claus or even a pandaskunk… but a Backstreet Boy named Nick Carter.”
Mirroring the headless Walt Disney statue behind him, Kevin stretched out his hand toward Nick, who stood in the middle of the plaza, the morning sun sparkling off the amulet he wore in the center of his sculpted chest.
“Nick’s going to give the Misfit Fans a gift they’ll never forget… and never get rid of,” continued Kevin. “And if he delivers, Christmas will no longer be known as a Christian holiday… but as the day when Disney World declared in one voice, ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to tell the Misfit Fans, make them understand… as long as there’ll be music, we’ll be coming back again!’ Today we wish them… a Merry Fuckin’ CHRISTMAS!”
The whole plaza exploded in applause, as the Backstreet Boys and Disney characters alike all clapped and cheered. A single tear slipped down Petunia’s cheek as she watched from the window of the Wylee trailer. As inspiring as Kevin’s speech had been, she worried about losing more people she loved. Without Nick, Brian, and the other Backstreet Boys, she would have no one.
The Boys were exchanging hugs and goodbyes, slapping each other’s backs as they wished one another good luck. “Let’s go!” Kevin called, sending everyone scurrying off to their assigned places. AJ and Howie led their army of dwarves and anthropomorphic woodland critters into the wooded area around the park for a little guerilla warfare.
As Kevin climbed into his flying elephant, he looked over and saw Nick doing the same. “Mr. Carter, I’d sure like to know what you’re doing,” he said with a frown.
Nick just smiled. “I played a pilot in a movie once, Kev,” he replied. “I belong in the air.”
Kevin sighed and shook his head. Nick had nearly given him a heart attack last time, but he knew once his little brother’s mind was set on something, there would be no stopping him. “Just upload the virus before you leave the ground, huh?” he told Nick. “I don’t want you using your phone while you’re flying.”
Nick rolled his eyes. “Okay, Dad.” Then he turned to Brian, who was standing alongside his elephant. “You know as soon as I get back we’re gonna deliver those presents, right?”
Brian nodded, then reached into his back pocket. “Here,” he said, handing Nick the Wylee scarf he’d been wearing when Princess Kujo attacked. “Take this. Just in case.”
Nick made a face, but he wrapped the scarf loosely around his neck anyway. “Oh, wait! Where’s… where’s, uh-?” He ducked down in the Dumbo, looking around for something, then popped back up again a few seconds later with Brian’s magic basketball, which he had retrieved from the wreckage of the alien ship it had helped to shoot down. “Just in case,” he repeated, as he tossed it to Brian.
Brian caught the ball and smiled tightly at his best friend. “So be careful, okay?”
Nick nodded, then winced as Brian leaned over and hugged him again, burying his face in Nick’s sore neck. “I love you,” he whispered as he pulled away.
“Love you too, bro,” Nick said back.
Howie watched from the woods, his heart panging with jealousy. I love you, he mouthed, as Nick licked his lips nervously and looked down at his phone.
Brian was walking back to the Wylee trailer, his magic basketball tucked under one arm, when something bounced out of the bushes and pounced upon him, knocking him flat on his back. “Hello!” cried the creature now standing on Brian’s chest. “I’m Tigger!”
“Oh.” Brian laughed weakly, struggling to breathe. “You scared me.”
“Yeah, sure I did. Hoo-hoo-hoo!” the tiger laughed. “Everyone’s scared of tiggers! Who are you?”
“Oh, Brian, hoo-hoo-hoo, sure!” Then Tigger’s smile suddenly faded. “Uh… what’s a Brian?”
“You’re sitting on one,” wheezed Brian.
“I am?” Tigger looked down. “Oh!” He quickly scrambled off. “Well, glad to meet ya!” he said, shaking Brian’s hand. “Name’s Tigger! T-I-double ‘guh’-‘er,’ that spells ‘Tigger!’”
“What are you doing here?”
Tigger’s black button eyes lit up. “What’s a Tigger, you ask?”
“No, I asked-” Brian started to correct him, but Tigger had already begun to sing.
“Well… the wonderful thing about tiggers, is tiggers are wonderful things!” he sang, bouncing about on his tail. “Their tops are made out of rubber! Their bottoms are made out of springs! They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun! But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is I’m the only one!”
“And what about you?” Tigger asked. “What is it that Brians do?”
“Well… I sing in a boyband called the Backstreet Boys, and I like to play basketball,” said Brian, showing Tigger his magic ball, “and I can jump really high.”
“Wow!” exclaimed Tigger. “Since you and I both like to sing and bounce, we should team up! Maybe we can take down the aliens together!”
Brian wasn’t thrilled about this idea, but he supposed it would be better than standing up on the Wylee trailer and watching all the action alone again. So he said, “Okay. I know the perfect place for bouncing.” Then he led Tigger back to the trailer, which was to be his command post once again.
“Do not engage until we’ve determined the package has been delivered,” Brian ordered the others.
“Roger,” said Kevin, who was already in the air.
Nick was still on the ground, typing one last tweet on his phone.
Nick carter @CartersCartel
Who needs clothes when you’ve got a guitar and a brand new song to sing? I wrote this one for you guys!
He tweeted this along with a link to the virus-infected video he’d created, knowing he could count on the Misfit Fans to click on anything that promised a combination of new music and nudity. “The virus is up,” he told the others, as he took off into the air.
Brian watched Nick’s elephant fly off toward the Misfit Fans’ spaceship with a nervous feeling gnawing at his stomach. “All we can do now is pray.”
“Delivery complete. It’s a go!” said Kevin. “Dumbo 1, fire!”
“Boys, this is it,” added Brian. He watched with bated breath as Kevin’s laser missile went shooting toward the spaceship.
“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” Kevin whispered, as he tracked its progress. It seemed to take forever to reach its target, but finally, he saw a halo of bright pink light, and his heart sank. “Damn…”
“Virus ineffective,” said Brian with a disappointed sigh, when he saw that the ship was undamaged. “Disengage and get outta there, guys.”
But Kevin refused to give up that easily. “Hold on, cuz,” he said. “I want another shot at it.”
“Yeah, they could just have a slow internet connection up there,” Nick agreed. “Fire away, Kev!”
“Dumbo 1, fire!”
The others held back and watched again as Kevin’s second missile hurtled toward the ship. This time, it crashed into the hull with a colossal explosion of fire, and everyone cheered. “Direct hit!” Nick cried, pumping his fist in the air.
“Fire at will!” Brian encouraged them, jumping into the air alongside Tigger, who was bouncing up and down in excitement beside him.
“Dumbo 2, fire!” shouted Nick, shooting a second laser straight at the ship.
“Jolly Roger, fire!” Captain Hook blasted a cannonball in the same direction.
“Sea Duck, fire!” Baloo guffawed in triumph as his stream of bullets punched a series of holes into the spaceship’s hull. “Ha, ha-” But before his last laugh could leave his lips, a pink laser blast pierced his windshield, sending his plane into a tailspin.
Nick looked over the side of his elephant in time to see the small seaplane swallowed up by smoke as it struck the ground. “We’ve lost Baloo!”
Brian looked up to see one of the smaller alien ships heading his way, spewing pink laser bullets. He jumped down from the trailer, just managing to avoid them, but when he looked back, he saw that Tigger had not been so lucky. “And Tigger, too,” he added sadly, as the bouncing tiger’s body slid off the top of the trailer and slumped to the ground, where it lay lifelessly still. “He should have been wearing Wylee,” Brian said, shaking his head.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw laser blasts bursting from the trees. AJ, Howie, and their army of Disney characters were shooting up at the alien ships attacking them. “Now this is Howie do it!” shouted Howie in triumph.
But, of course, the alien ships were shooting back, and suddenly, AJ heard a much different kind of scream coming from Howie. “Howie!” he cried, as his friend collapsed. Fearing the worst, he dropped to his knees beside Howie’s body. Howie’s eyes were closed, but he appeared to be breathing. There was a smoldering hole in the sleeve of his t-shirt.
“Was he hit?” AJ heard Kevin ask in his ear. He rolled up Howie’s sleeve and saw a minor wound - just a scratch, really.
“Yeah, but it’s not bad,” he replied with relief. “The bullet only grazed his shoulder. I think he just passed out.”
“Well, wake him up! Without his powers of mental illusion, we’re running out of lasers. We’re just not causing enough damage!”
AJ shook Howie’s shoulder, but Howie just moaned in pain, unable to imagine anything. “He won’t wake up! Can’t Nick use his power to make things work to… you know, make it work?”
“I can keep the elephants flying, but I can’t create weapons out of thin air!” cried Nick. “That’s Howie’s power!”
As the other Boys argued, Brian watched the mothership moving slowly toward the Wylee trailer. “It’s settling right over us!” he shouted.
With dismay, AJ looked up to see the central doors of the ship starting to open and the pink laser beams beginning to light up, as they had just before Sleeping Beauty Castle had been blasted to cinders. “They’re preparing to fire their primary weapon!”
“Then let’s take it out before they take us out!” cried Kevin.
Brian bit his lip as he watched the laser power building in the center of the spaceship. “You’re out of time! You’ve got to disable it now!”
“I’m in range!” said Nick, as he swooped underneath the mothership, not seeing the small alien ship behind him.
“I have you now,” smirked Audrey, the former sentry of the Planet of Misfit Fans, as she set him in her sights. But just as she was about to blast Nick into oblivion, a laser bullet struck the side of her ship, sending her spinning off-course. “What?!” she cried in confusion.
“Yahoo!” yelled Kevin when he realized his last laser bullet had not gone to waste. “You’re all clear, kid. Now let’s blow this thing and go home!”
Nick took a deep breath, aimed, and fired his last laser. He held his breath as he watched it soar toward the opening in the center of the spaceship, and for a few seconds, he thought he had done it. But his laser bullet struck off to one side, missing the massive bolt of energy gathering in the middle. “Damn, I missed!”
“That is a negative impact,” said Brian, sighing with disappointment.
“I’m out of lasers,” said Nick.
“Me too,” added Kevin.
AJ looked around at the ground troops, as well as the birds in the sky. With Howie out cold, no one seemed to be shooting anymore. “All weapons have been fired,” he said. “Get your asses out of there.”
“But we’re not done yet!” Kevin argued. “Doesn’t anyone have any weapons left?!”
“I have my nunchucks,” said Nick, “but I’m not sure I can use them on a giant spaceship.”
That was when Brian suddenly heard the disembodied voice of Patches inside his head. “Use the ball, Brian,” it said. “Let it go, Brian.”
He looked down at the basketball in his hands, and he knew what he had to do.
“Brian!” cried Nick, when he saw his best friend standing directly underneath the opening in the spaceship, dribbling a basketball. “What’s he doing?!”
“Do me a favor,” said Brian to the other Boys, swallowing hard. “If this doesn’t work… tell my wife and son I love them very much.” He blinked back tears as he squinted up into the blinding pink light over his head. And then he jumped.
“Hello, girls!” he shouted, as he soared to new heights, coming within a few feet of the mothership. “Backstreet’s back!”
He lobbed his magic basketball straight up, up, up into the column of pink light that had formed in the center of the opening, causing the laser beam to bounce off the surface of the ball and blast the ship instead. His trademark “alright!” was drowned out by the deafening boom of the alien spaceship exploding.