A Human Among Animal Thieves @jumbochamploon
Holland Preparations

Chapter 36

Once we got Boris admitted to the nearest hospital (and paying his bills in advance with some loot that we got from our group robbing the miners of their belongings except him) we then left for the Hideout and proceeded to dig deep, Bentley and Meg pouring over the blueprints to Doctor M's fortress and them getting very frustrated with them, even Meg, who had prior knowledge of the place like me, was getting upset at how the blueprints were so incredibly detailed.

"Ugh... this is getting us nowhere! This fortress is too well protected for our current ensemble!" Meg groaned. I then saw that she was looking at a picture of the different towers and the aerial threats. I then looked at Bentley and I pulled out something that made him get the light bulb going on in his head. It was the RC chopper.

"Hey, Bentley? You think I could take the chopper out for a test run?" I asked, Bentley smirking as he then went back to the blueprints and poured over them again, him gasping as he finally got it.

"That's it! If we can get an RC specialist with amazing RC technology, we can get past a bunch of the security on this island!" Bentley said with excitement.

"Do we know of anyone like that?" Ruby asked.

"I think I might. Hold on, I need to go onto Chat Pal," Bentley said, me smirking as I went on my phone and saw that after I'd changed some of the apps to those in this world, the one called Chat Pal was now logged in with Bentley's user status. I simply logged in as well without his knowledge and got into his chat with Air Heart Babe. They then started to chat a bit while I looked at their pictures and I smirked and giggled with my mouth shut. Bentley's tiny green head on top of a giant, muscular fox. And Penelope's head (with her hand CLEARLY in view!) on top of a sexy dog in a sexy gown.

After the duo had made the bet, I then gave my two-sense happily. I sent the text that read out: "Okay, seriously, who are you two trying to fool with those obviously fake photos?" I asked into the chat, Bentley gasping and his face going beat red when he saw my face looking at his. "Sorry, bud. Just callin' it like I see it," I smiled as I then sent another text. "Why don't you show each other your true selves instead of these faces atop hunk/hottie things? I mean, Penelope, darling, your hand is clearly visible in your head shot," I said in the comment, making Penelope give out a blush emoji at that followed by a hand smacking the face.

"Fine, we'll take real pictures of ourselves," Penelope said, Bentley being a bit nervous before Henriette smiled at him.

"Oh come on, turtle. Ya gotta be brave in this line o' work. An' I ain't talkin' about thievin'. I'm talkin' about life," Henriette smiled, Bentley sighing and nodding.

"Okay. Neyla, time to take a picture," Bentley said, Neyla coming over and taking a picture of Bentley in full with him smiling as best he could. Neyla then sent the photo to Bentley's Chat Pal server and Bentley made it his profile pic, Penelope doing the same thing in only a couple seconds. And after Bentley and Penelope saw each other for real, the response was actually very adorable.

"Wow... you look cute!" Penelope said to Bentley with a happy face followed by a heart. A HEART! And Bentley responded kindly and respectfully as well.

"And you look adorable yourself, Penelope... I guess we gotta thank Ella for this," Bentley smiled.

"Is she the one that did that? Ella Unknown, as she's known as?" Penelope asked in text talk.

"Yeah, that's me. Ella Unknown, species human, currently pregnant and ready to kick serious ass in this ACES tournament!" I smiled in the Chat Pal as I then looked at Henriette with a smile, going to the Thievius Raccoonus and opening it to Otto Van Cooper's entry. "Time to get to work on making some planes, guys. We only got one week until the ACES start," I smiled at my allies.

Getting the planes made was surprisingly much easier thanks to us using the blueprints to Otto's planes. We got at least 4 of them made by the 5th day, more than enough to go far in the ACES. Neyla then broke all of us into flight school where we took our photo ID's with the machine while the place was closed for the night. The ones entering? Myself, Neyla, Sly, and, believe it or not, Meg!

"I thought you said you didn't like danger?" I asked her with a smile.

"When it comes to crime, maybe. But there is no way in fucking hell that I'm missing out on the opportunity to fly a biplane and shoot down a bunch of bogeys! I want action for a change and I want it now!" she smiled happily and wildly after she got her pilot license. We then rushed back to the Hideout via warp hole and decided it was time for us to get going to Holland. And we decided to travel by plane, as each one had at least three seats in them for secondary passengers. Bentley flew with Meg, the Guru with Sly, Murray with Neyla, and Henriette and Ruby with me. We flew the entire way to Holland in only four hours and proceeded to find the hangars for the ACES, which we immediately signed up for. We still had a couple free days until the ACES came around, so I decided to go have some fun while the others stayed behind at the hotel.

I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity, so I decided to see what the inside of the Baron's castle was like. And as luck would have it, the drawbridge, upon me arriving at the castle, was wide open with a few guards entering it. I went invisible and got in the drawbridge undetected, me seeing that the inside of the castle was unexpectedly very cutesy in design. It had a lot of plush dolls and fluffy pink furniture, including a bed that was covered in hearts... I then looked at the side of the bed and saw Penelope's photo that she took a couple days ago when I basically made her do it. I also heard some noise from above and knew it was the Black Baron.

"Okay, men, as you all know, the ACES competition is going to be full of people that, as seen in the previous years, have played really unfairly in these tournaments. So, from here on out, I want a full armada of you out in the pastures and the towns of this place. If you spot anyone outside during downtime, unless they are going directly down the path to their hangars, beat them up and toss them right back into the hotel entrance. We will have a fair competition this year!" the Black Baron said... though I knew who was really under that mask.

I proceeded up the nearby staircase and saw the Baron was alone after the guards left down a different staircase. When I got there, I saw that Penelope was looking around a bit before she sighed and took her mask off, me smiling at how adorable she looked right now. She was roughly 4 feet tall in her current look and with the Thieves in Time graphics, she looked extra adorable as her face was more like how I'd imagine her to look from this game. It was basically smaller and cuter than the fourth game and she her hair looked good in the style it was in, it being a braided ponytail and her having a small bonnet on her head.

"Oof... finally, it's hard to keep that act up all the time all day... I really hope those Coopers deliver. I don't want to be stuck living in this suit forever," Penelope said, her voice actually sounding quite cute. She sounded just like in the games, only her voice was also having the puberty effects to it. But then, just as I was about to leave, something shocking happened. Out of nowhere, Penelope bumped into me and I gasped, which in turn made Penelope gasp. "W-What the?! Who are you? Show yourself!" Penelope said in fear, me sighing and complying, turning visible again and looking at her with a small smile.

"Uh... hi?" I smiled at her with unease, Penelope frowning and eyeballing me with curiosity.

"What are you supposed to be?... Wait... are you Ella Unknown?" Penelope asked after inspecting my face.

"First guess? Impressive," I smiled at her.

"What are you doing in my castle?... And if I don't like your answer, I'm going to have to keep you here for the entire ACES competition," Penelope said with a frown.

"Dammit... okay, I wanted to see what the inside of the Black Baron's castle looked like because... well, I just found him mysterious and I wanted to know more... but I guess I found out a bit more than I wanted to," I said, making sure that my Binocucom was turned off. It was. Penelope still frowned at me and I sighed and put my hands up. "Look, I'm not going to rat you out, Penelope. If we're going to do this, I want to do it fair and square. I want to beat the Black Baron at his own game and only then get you on our team. I won't say a single word about this incident... but if you happen to cheat at this event? Then I may have stuff to say," I said, Penelope gasping and frowning as she put her hand to her head and scratched the top of her scalp.

"Okay, fine... you promise me?" she asked.

"From woman to woman, I swear that I won't tell anyone unless you happen to cheat," I smiled at her.

"I won't cheat. That's my promise. Now get out of here, quickly. The guards will be back any minute and not even they know about my double life," Penelope said as she put the disguise back on and I simply warped my way out using a warp hole, warping myself back to in front of the hotel and smiling.

"Okay, time to go talk to the others," I smiled as I jumped up to the hotel door where our gang resided at and smiled at them all.

"So? How was your exploring spree?" Neyla smiled at me.

"It was fun! I got to see a lot of the sights, but what intrigued me most was a gigantic, wild wolf that's near the hills leading to the Black Baron's castle. Giant teeth, blood red eyes, and mangy fur all over. He looked like he could come in handy in the future," I smiled widely, making sure that Ruby knew not to rat me out if she saw my thoughts. She nodded with a smile at that.

"Okay, now let's go greet the pilots," Sly smiled. We then went out into the hotel complex and got messaged by Bentley.

"Okay, guys, it's time to get up to some deviousness," Bentley said.

"What do you have in mind?" I asked with a smile.

"Well, the Baron is unscrupulously fair in these tournaments and, since other pilots have cheated in the past, he's gone all out on the security, even the flight rosters are kept secret. If we want to have a leg up on the competition, we'll need to learn all about our opponents to play them into our hands," Bentley said.

"You know, normally I'd make some snide remark about you being overly worried about your confidence in us, but those are some grim odds. So how do we do this?" Sly asked.

"Well, the flight roster is kept secret from the pilots, but not the event staff," Bentley smiled.

"A man on the inside? Who's the one we talk to?" Henriette asked with a smile.

"Our... 'friend', Dimitri has been hired to give color commentary during the dogfights. Find him and interrogate him to find out where the roster is being kept. But remember not to pick any fights with the other pilots. If we get into a fight with any pilots, we'll be kicked out of the contest," Bentley warned.

"I get you, we treat each other all nice and sweet until the fights happen. Then we blow each other up 700 feet in the air," I smiled.

"That's an accurate summation," Meg smiled at me, me smirking at her saying that. We then looked around the place and found Dimitri at the bar smoking a cigar and in his usual getup.

"Hey there, Dimitri. How's things been going since Venice? Never pictured you as a fly boy," I smiled at him.

"Like a dance floor with many lights, I have many profiles, dig? Don't even think about figuring out the silky enigma of Dimitri," he smiled at me.

"Bentley says you may know the flight roster for the ACES tournament. Ye think ye can help us scallywags out?" Henriette asked, Dimitri raising his baggy eyes when Henriette said the word scallywag.

"That word... scallywag... you wouldn't happen to be from pirate origin, would you, miss?" Dimitri asked.

"Pirate? Hah! Ye be talkin' to Captain Henriette 'One Eye' Cooper, the most famous plunderer among all pirate kind from 1615 to 1640!... And if ye be wonderin' how I be in present day, thank Captain Ella for helpin' me out... oh, and also that no-good butterfly bastard. I'm glad he's gone," Henriette smiled. Dimitri smiled as he got the cogs turning in his brain before he spoke again.

"Okay, I can tell you the roster's location if you agree to owe Dimitri a favor, which I will collect in a few month's time," Dimitri asked.

"A favor?" Sly smiled.

"This no small time favor like, 'will you water my fish or feed my plant'? No way, bros! Like awesome big mafia jumbo deal. Like action movies, big time," Dimitri smiled.

"You got a deal, Dimitri," I smiled at him.

"Done! Haha! The bargain, she has struck!... Flight roster kept in Baron's air hangar. Look behind tacky painting. It in secret safe," Dimitri smiled, saying the last bit quietly to us so the other pilots couldn't hear.

"Understood, that will be easy for me, then," Henriette smiled... but then came the Black Baron from the hotel entrance.

"Ah! Stand cool, here comes big cheese!" Dimitri said when he saw him.

"I bid you all a most flamboyant welcome, my esteemed comrades of the skies! Tomorrow will mark the 7th annual ACES competition. We have pilots from the world over, including contestants from Belgium, Ecuador, Canada, and many, many more! Not the least of which is last year's deadly runner-up, Team Muggshot," the Baron said, me looking up at Muggshot above us and on the railing and him speaking after that.

"This time we're gonna drill you suckas fulla holes!" Muggshot said, me smiling and being mischievous.

"Hey, Muggshot! Yoohoo! Remember me? Mesa City 3 years ago? I certainly remember you!" I smiled from my position, Muggshot looking at me and gulping. "I see you still neglected leg day, bud!" I smiled, the pilots beginning to laugh at that and Muggshot groaning at me.

"Now, we all know that in years past, some teams have endeavored in a little 'good natured' late night hi-jinks," the Baron said with a smile.

"Like when Team Canada stole Ecuador's parachutes!" one of the Belgians smiled.

"Or when Team Iceland sawed the landing gear off Korea's plane! Haha!" one of the Canadians smiled.

"Or when Portugal put rat poison in Team Muggshot's coffee machine!" the Iceland member smiled with a laugh, me looking at Muggshot with a smirk, him frowning at me.

"Don't you even think about it, lady," Muggshot frowned at me.

"Wouldn't dream of it, poochy-poo," I smiled at him in a mocking manner, the Baron then smirking at that.

"Yes, that was all so VERY funny but NO MORE! You know the rules, no one, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE is allowed outside for any reason other than going to the hangars! If my guards catch you outside and not on the trail, you will be beaten to within an inch of your life. No excuses! This will be a fair competition!" the Black Baron yelled.

"Same as last year and the year before, I got the scars to prove it!" one of Muggshot's men smiled with a couple of scars on his biceps. But I also noticed that some of Muggshot's flyers were actually female dogs. I guess he learned something at least.

"I bid you all a sweet night's rest, fellow aviators. Tonight, sleep like geese. And tomorrow, soar like eagles! High! What, what! Haha!" the Baron laughed as he then walked away, me looking at Henriette and following her with a smile.

"Let's go get some rain on our backs," I smiled at Henriette.

"Agreed, captain," Henriette smiled as we went outside into the outside of the hotel and both of us turned invisible and went on our way to the baron's castle, us actually jumping onto the rooftop of it with defy gravity as I then looked at the nearby catapult.

"I think I can make an easy access for our friends with this," I smiled as I approached it and activated the Bone Cracker Crush, making the catapult fly off of the top of the castle and land onto the ground without a scratch.

"Banana Slammah," Henriette smiled for a change. "Now let's go get that roster," Henriette smiled as she went into the hangar behind the castle and I followed, us going to the different picture safes and me doing my safe easily while Henriette did hers just as quickly, as hers had the giant numbers in the swamp while mine had the picture of the ruins and I found the picture in it. And the roster was in my safe, which I got and showed off to Henriette, her then making a warp hole for us to get back to the hotel easily and directly in our room.

"Here is the roster, boys and ladies. Read 'em and weep," I smiled as I showed them off to Meg and she was all smiles at it.

"Okay, this says that the ones we'll be facing in the first of the 2 rounds are Team Iceland and Team Belgium," Meg smiled.

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