Skratch wasn't surprised by the pod. He watched it roll to the beach hut and settle and he smiled. All was going according to plan. He meowed in feline satisfaction and brushed his paw along his fur. That was when he heard the sound of engines. It started like a chatter but grew into a whine. He felt a push of air, but all he could see was a blur. The object churned a path through the sand, flinging anything its path to the side. Flotsam and jetsam crashed along the beach. An old tyre pirouetted in the air. Skratch flinched as stones flew by his head. "Good grief," he muttered as he dodged out the way. The football was as big as he was. His nostrils filled with the acrid smell of burning oil and something else he couldn't identify. He watched the ball go. It bounced towards the pod and stopped. For a minute nothing happened. Then it started to sing. Skratch listened carefully. It was some kind of football song, full of offensive yet flouncy threats. He shrugged and made his way towards the pod. The big football broadcast a repetitive message that cast scorn on the place the pod's occupants came from. Skratch heard it continue with a variety of comments on the dubious parentage of the occupants. The messages then went on to forecast the likely appearance of any of the occupants' offspring, a diatribe so contemptuous that Skratch covered his ears and meowed to himself, "Sometimes the Wabbit goes too far." The pod's hatch opened ...
Events were as unexpected as they were sudden. Susan the Biplane swooped and hooked the pod. The Lepus steamed in with klaxons shrieking. Panico's eyes bulged in delight. Tipsy cheered and threw her paws in the air. Shrieky voices issued from inside the pod as it shuttled dripping along the beach. "Failsafe, Failsafe!" Something shimmered from a hatch, but quickly vanished. "Gotcha!" yelled Wabsworth. "Where to?" asked Susan. The pod bumped along the beach and left a jagged groove in the sand. The occupants howled. Wabsworth scanned the horizon. "Dump it along by the beach huts, we'll wait for the team to tease out the occupants." Tipsy and Panico were already running. "Holy Cannelloni!" shouted Tipsy. "Peskiest peril," yelled Panico. Wabsworth saw landing crafts leaving the Lepus and spoke into the blower. "Head for the beach hut!" Jenny's voice crackled. "Aye aye Commander. We'll crack that ball like a joke." Wabsworth touched the joystick and spoke to Susan. "Ever played curling?" Susan waggled her wings. Wabsworth released the hook and chain and the pod slid along the beach until it gently nudged a hut. It rocked slightly, rolled then rocked back. Inside the pod, something retched. "Yuk," said a voice. "Clear that up," said another. Tipsy stood with her paws on her hips and started to laugh. "They got a pizza tango!" Panico swayed and snickered behind his fist. Diesel engines chuntered in the distance so Tipsy sat down. She plucked a hip flask from her frock, swigged the entire contents down and sang, "What a swell party this is!"
In a long forgotten electric plant, somewhere on the Tiber, the Wabbit demonstrated his counter-doomsday weapon. Doctor StrangeGlove fondled his borrowed automatic and grinned a sinister grin. "Does it work?" The Wabbit tucked his own automatic in his fur. "Try it." StrangeGlove fired at the football. The football swerved to dodge the bullet - then ate it. StrangeGlove tried again. The bullet stopped dead, hung in the air and shot straight back. StrangeGlove caught the bullet in his teeth. "How menshee shav we got?" he mumbled. "We're in production now," replied the Wabbit. The ball bounced up and down, making hard taps on the concrete floor. "That's annoying," said StrangeGlove. He spat the bullet at the ball. The ball revolved, hovered, and then sprayed a series of bullets that left a message on the floor. StrangeGlove squinted down, read it and turned to the Wabbit. "Mine Führer. Our domination is certain." "If we have the balls," grinned the Wabbit. StrangeGlove twirled the automatic. "Where is the Doomsday Pod now?" "In the water," said the Wabbit. "Deep?" asked StrangeGlove. "It just squirted out," shrugged the Wabbit. "Did they start the countdown?" asked StrangeGlove. "It appears they bent the key," said the Wabbit. StrangeGlove spat and fired at the ceiling. "Incompetent swines!" The Wabbit grinned. "Maybe they used the wrong keyhole..!"
Panico looked at the pod and bit his fist. His first instinct was to scream in fright but he decided to yell instead. "Get off my beach you monster." The pod merely bobbed up and down in the water. He nudged it. It rolled. He thought he heard something move inside, so he moved back ... and bumped into Tipsy. Tipsy thrust a crackling radio under his fist. "Message for you from the Commander!" The walkie talkie beeped then whined with a distorted version of the Wabbit's voice. "Panico. Look out for the Doomsday Pod. It looks like a ..." The message terminated with a squeak. "Like a football," said Panico. He circled round Tipsy, then ran back and kicked the pod. The radio whined again. "Don't kick it," crackled the Wabbit. Tipsy sighed and crouched on the beach with her paws over her head. Two hatches slid open. The sound of angry voices drifted from the pod and bounced across the waves. "Where's your key?" said a voice. "It fell into the water," said another. "Go and get it," said the first voice. "There's scary monsters," said the second. The voices yelled together. "We're doomed!" Another angry voice boomed out "It is we who do the dooming round here!" Panico leaned close to a hatch and listened to a frantic scrabbling. Finally there was another voice. "I found it." Panico heard a metallic scraping. "It's bent," moaned the voice. There was a loud slap and a cry of pain. Panico leaned close to a hatch. "Need a hand?"
The Three Muses materialised on the hillside and began to sing. "We are the three!" shouted Tipsy. Fitzy and Mitzy swayed together and their arms chugged like steam driven pistons. "How may they tell us apart?" sang Tipsy. "They may not," yelled Tipsy. "Because we dress the same," said Fitzy. "Because we talk the same," said Mitzy. "Because we are the same," said Tipsy. "Always," shouted Fitzy. "Usually," shouted Mitzy. "Invariably," drawled Tipsy. They stopped and changed positions. "Whither goes the story?" asked Tipsy. "Whether goes the plot?" yelled Fitzy. "The Wabbit chases phantoms," grinned Mitzy. "The Wabbit's in a knot," sang Tipsy. The entity whistled in the wind and the Three Muses swayed to the tune. "The Wabbit's pursuit is hard to bear," said Mitzy, "but he likes to cling to the edge of air." "He cannot hop aside," nodded Fitzy gravely. "And neither can we." answered Tipsy. Fitzy gazed up. The shimmering sky was a blue silk purse and it looked about to speak. "So let's not annoy the deities," she warned." We might disrupt their gaiety." They hopped in synchrony to the right then the left - and then to the right again. Trapped stars shimmered on the masts. Trees moved uneasily. Branches crackled. Twigs snapped. "If we won't tell them," breathed Tipsy, "they won't know." Tipsy smiled, lifted a paw and snapped. A breeze sprang up that tore at their dresses and their ears. Then all at once they disappeared.
Wabsworth scouted the city with Susan the Biplane. The strange luminescence was quite horrid and even though he was an android, it hurt his eyes. They searched the city in parallel sweeps. "What exactly are we looking for," asked Susan. "Anything odd," responded Wabsworth. His ears picked up the flapping of cabbage wings. "Does Terni the Dragon count as odd?" asked Susan. "Not on this occasion," smiled Wabsworth. He watched Terni threshing and swooping. Circuits whirred as he registered suspicious flickers of light. "Susan, Terni has company. Identify them." Susan shielded Terni. "My instruments read a single entity." Lights whirled around Terni's head, then Susan's propeller - flashing like pinball bumpers. "I can't shake it off," shouted Terni. Wabsworth jolted as a light touched his paw. Susan juddered as another stuck to her fuselage. "Yow. Get off!" Terni and Susan clung close and picked up speed. The lights followed. Susan spun and dipped. Terni matched her movements. They looped the loop and plunged and soared - but the lights were still there. Wabsworth grabbed the joystick. "Drunken Rabbit Manoeuvre, Susan." Susan's engine moaned as she dropped like a stone. Then she lurched across the rooftops and blitzed straight at the TV transmitter array at Superga Hill. "Close as you can go, Susan." With angled wings, Susan and Terni tore along the hillside. One by one the lights peeled away and stuck like flies to pylons and satellite dishes. "That'll teach it!" roared Terni.
The landing was sudden, had anyone been looking. The Lepus plunged down onto a moonlit coast with hardly a ripple and she shimmered brightly like a flag in the wind. She was en route from the Sombrero Galaxy with a cargo of confiscated contraband of huge strategic value - to be delivered to the Wabbit. "Personally in person," the Wabbit had instructed. Jenny strode the bridge. "Steady as she goes," she murmured. Her binoculars swept the horizon. "OK. Now test the Stealthicator." The Lepus vanished momentarily, reappeared and vanished again. Jenny swayed on her pirate boots and laughed. "Aha. We be here and not here." Jenny spun the wheel and the Lepus hugged the coast. The ship was invisible due to a chameleon technology that painted an object's background onto its front. So no-one on the coast ever saw the Lepus. They could only hear the ghostly thrum of diesel engines and the phantom threshing of water. Occasionally a pirate order would ring out and float across the calm sea. Now and then a bell chimed. Jenny sounded the foghorn from time to time - long menacing moans that curled round and round. On the beach, a pack of wild dogs howled and barked out to sea. Jenny smiled, consulted her chronometer and spoke into the telegraph. "Half ahead, Chief." The Lepus leaped forward but a wind sprang up and battered the coast. Vessels broke their moorings. The Lepus rolled, pitched and yawed. ""Full ahead," shrugged Jenny. "She'll no take it, Captain," groaned Chief. "Full," said Jenny, "I'll be late for the Wabbit."
The Wabbit and Lapinette tore across the city with Doctor StrangeGlove enjoying the ride. "Shall I take a salute?" he asked. His fingers twitched and he tried to stand up, but Lapinette pulled him back. "Looks like it's Christmas," said the Wabbit. He crashed through several gears at once and narrowly avoided a tram. "Something always comes up at Christmas," said Lapinette. She held on tight as the Wabbit mounted the sidewalk, then careered down the wrong side of the road. "It's a short cut," murmured the Wabbit. Then he braked. "Right on time." Lapinette pointed. It's Parakalo!" The Wabbit pulled to a halt as a white dove swooped down and settled on the hood of the jeep. "I bring news," cooed Parakalo, "A strange being is roving across the land." "Where does it do its roving, Parakalo?" asked Lapinette. Parakalo cooed long and loud. "It travels by night and it's hard to spot - but wherever it goes, there's cosmic turbulence." The Wabbit was well aware of Terni the Dragon's fondness for surfing space - and he sighed, "We must have picked up a visitor." StrangeGlove's fingers snapped into the air. "It comes from the outer eddies, ja?" The Wabbit nodded. "It has potential," said StrangeGlove, "so we will harness its precious capacity." Lapinette knew what was coming but asked anyway. "What potential?" "Doomsday potential!" shouted StrangeGlove.
The Wabbit prised Doctor StrangeGlove from his bunker and, in empty facility near Lingotto, he set Tipsy to work. Tipsy dribbled the football the length of the building and back. She passed it to StrangeGlove but he still had no idea of what to do. Tipsy's only option was attack, so she fired the ball straight at him. StrangeGlove fell over but somehow the ball hit his head and stuck there for a while. He balanced it on the tip of his nose, then headed it back to Tipsy. "Attaboy Glovesy!" yelled Tipsy. She wheeled around and shouted to the Wabbit. "That counts as points for the Glove." The Wabbit held up a paw from the sidelines and shouted, "Play on! It's a game of two halves!" Tipsy juggled the ball on a foot, flipped it up and headed it to StrangeGlove - who copied her. Tipsy stole the ball and ran off with it. StrangeGlove followed her and stole it back, laughing until all his fingers stood in the air. They battled all day until the Wabbit held up a red card. "What did we do wrong?" asked Tipsy. "Nothing," answered the Wabbit, "I'm tired. We need refreshments." "What about an ickle alcohol rub?" laughed Tipsy. "What about a large one?" said the Wabbit.