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Not Exactly Grecian Formula...

                Yet again, the Action “script” called for the Raiders to use the Time Machine prop.  It was becoming something they all dreaded, since every time they ever entered the thing, it spit them out in a setting far removed from the familiar TV show.

                Paul and Mark filed out of the prop’s door, sighing heavily, almost bored.

                “This is getting to be old hat,” Mark commented.

                “Ain’t nothin’ old about my hat!” Paul interrupted.  He reached for the plume-edged tricorn that always sat atop his blonde head.  However, it had disappeared, replaced with a crown of laurel leaves.  “Hey—Who put a bush on my head?”

                Mark noticed his own tricorn hat was missing; he too had a wreath of laurels wrapped around his scalp.  “Hmm…” he said, examining the garb he and his band mate were wearing.  “Looks like we’re heading to a toga party.”  He glanced over at the Time Machine and laughed.  “Hey, Phil—This remind you of your college days?”

                “Huh?  Whatever…” Phil growled.  He fought with Drake as they both tried to exit the Machine at the same time.  “Move over—Lemme out!”

                “I AM moved over!” Drake protested.  “YOU move!”

                “I’m as far against this door as I can get!” Phil snapped.  “When’d you get so fat, Levin?”

                “You’re not so svelte yourself, Fang-face…”

                Finally, the two forced themselves from the doorway with an audible “pop”.  They collapsed on the ground.

                “We call you the ‘Twins’ for a reason…and boy, does it show!” Paul laughed.

                “Yeah, I think they share a brain,” Mark chided.

                “Ha-ha, very funny,” Drake said with a frown.  He dusted himself off as best he could, then attempted to stand.

                He fell over.

                “Uh-oh.”  Phil stared incredulously at Drake.  “You’re the one with all the balance—What happened?”

                “Dunno,” Drake replied, surprised.  “I think maybe my legs are a little tired from the trip and….”  He took a glance at his legs…All four of them.  “Okay….THIS is a bit much…”

                Phil took his first good look at Drake since they had landed in this latest time warp.  “What’s a bit much?  I just---Whoa hey!  What in the world?”  He pointed at Drake and his jaw dangled open.

                Drake’s eyes were equally wide.  “I think I could ask the same about you, Phil.”

                Phil nearly passed out.

                “I think this gives new meaning to doing the Pony, doesn’t it?” Smitty snickered.  He sat on the edge of the Time Machine’s floor, feet hanging freely from the doorway.

                “This isn’t exactly the time for puns, little man,” Paul reprimanded.  “My lead and bass are both suffering from too many legs, looks like.”

                Drake and Phil, meanwhile, were trying to help each other stand up.

                “If I start asking for oats and a saddle, please find me some professional help,” Phil whimpered.

                “Same goes for me,” said Drake.  At last, he got the feel for the new horse half of his body.  He looked at Phil, who seemed to be managing fine on his own as well.

                Mark was admiring the surrounding scenery, not to mention the few toga-clad ladies in the distance.   “Wonder what we have to do this time?” he mused aloud.  “Maybe we can take a break and get to know some of the locals?”  He wriggled his eyebrows suggestively.

                “Eh, I’m not so sure we could do too well in THIS shape,” said Smitty.  “Seems a little bah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ad.”  He quickly threw both hands over his mouth.

                The other four Raiders stared at him.

                “Did you just bleat?” Phil asked.

                “He made a bah-bah noise!” Paul exclaimed.  He took a closer look at the little drummer as he remained seated in the Machine’s doorway.  Paul rolled his eyes and sighed.  “Now my rhythm’s screwed up, too….”

                Smitty had suffered the same sort of effects Phil and Drake had, except that he was now sporting the rear legs of a goat, rather than his own.  Amidst the bird’s nest of curls on his head were two very small horns, as well.

                “Well, c’mon, goat boy,” Mark said.  “We can’t hang around here all day.”

                “Wouldn’t it be okay if we just stayed here for once?  Y’know, don’t go looking for tro-uh-uh-uh-ble?”  Again, Smitty covered his mouth, embarrassed.

                Paul groaned and rolled his eyes.  He straightened his toga, then took a glimpse towards town.  “Fellas…” he began.

                “Oh geez….”

                “Do we HAFTA?”

                “Oh lighten up, you two,” Mark said.  “This could be fun for a change.”

                “Yeah, that’s what you said last time,” Phil groaned.  He swished his horsetail, annoyed, then trailed behind Mark.

 

                The quintet acted as casual as possible as they entered the little Greek town.  Unfortunately, it proved quite difficult to be “casual” when their group now contained two centaurs and a satyr.  The crowds cleared out of their way, staring and gawking the entire time.

                “I’m feeling somewhat….ah….self-conscious right about now,” Phil muttered.

                “You’re not the only one,” Drake amended.  He gestured at his and Phil’s obvious changes.  “This is gonna make it really hard to do the Nooney Rickett anymore.”

                Smitty was literally skipping alongside Drake.  “Hey, maybe I could learn!”

                “You stick to the drums, goat boy!” Paul demanded.

                “You’re no fun anymo-uh-uh-uh-uh-re,” Smitty replied, sulking….and bleating.

               

                A toga-clad brunette greeted the group of strangers.  “Hello!”

                “Well, hello…” Mark said with a grin.  “And to whom do I have the pleasure?”

                The brunette went past Mark as though he were invisible and headed straight for Paul.  “You!”

                Paul looked around, puzzled.  “Me?  What’d I do?”

                “You must be the one that I’ve heard so much about!” the brunette beamed.  She shook his hand earnestly.

                “Um….yeah…well….” Paul stammered.  “But…uh….What are you talking about?”

                The brunette laughed.  “Don’t be silly—You’re here to race the chariots!  They always told me that we’d be visited by a golden-haired man and his trio of gods.”  She nodded at Phil, Drake and Smitty.

                “Oh brother,” Drake groaned.

                “Gives new meaning to ‘teen idols,’ doesn’t it?” Phil snickered.

    Drake elbowed him in the side.  “I’ve had about enough puns for today,” he grumbled.

    The brunette continued, “Anyway, you’re here to race against the Minotaur, the Argonauts, and….”  Her voice trailed off as she tried to remember who else was involved in the competition.  “Oh!  That’s right—and the Cyclops.”

    “Great….”  Paul mustered the best brave smile that he could, dreading what he’d unwittingly gotten himself into.

    “I’ll see you all later,” the brunette said as she began walking back into the crowd.  “I’ll be cheering for you!”

    Mark yanked the laurels from his head and threw them to the ground in a rage.

    “Did you SEE that?!?  She never even looked at me!” he bellowed.  He stomped his laurels into the dirt, until a horse hoof came down dangerously close to his own foot.  Mark’s eyes trailed from the hoof up to the horse, up to Phil’s face.  Phil glared at him disapprovingly.

    “Guess what?” he asked.

    “What?” Mark peeped.

    “I know how to mule kick now.”  Phil grinned widely.

    “Well, let’s go find us a chariot, right?” Mark said with a sudden change of mood.

    “I think I could get to like this,” Phil laughed.

    “Just one problem.”

    “What’s that, Drake?”

    “Constantly feeling like you’re….ahem….kinda exposed.”  His ears flushed slightly.

    “Looks like some of us are adjusting faster than others, though—Look,” Mark said, pointing at Smitty, who was busy chatting up a lady satyr near the edge of the crowd.

    Paul retrieved the man by seizing his horns and dragging him in the opposite direction.

    “Maybe I’ll see you late-eh-eh-eh-eh-er?” Smitty asked as he was pulled away.

    The lady satyr giggled.  “Anytime’s fi-ah-ah-ah-ah-ne with me!”

    “Oh, brother—Two of a kind,” Paul complained.

 

     The Raiders continued through town to the main Arena, where the chariot races were slated to take place.  When they reached the main gates, two menacing guards greeted them.

    “Chariot racers, eh?” one of the guards asked with a chuckle.

    “Yeah, what of it?” Paul replied boldly.  “We’re the best there is.”

    The other guard directed his spear towards a pile of bones and broken chariot pieces.  “See that?”

    “Uh…..yeah….” Mark hesitantly said in acknowledgement.

    “That’s where the losers end up,” the second guard explained.  “You lose and you’re lion food.”  As he lowered his spear, he and the first guard both began laughing.

    “I’m wishing we were back home right about now,” Phil whined.  Smitty was crouched behind him, clicking his hooves together.

    “There’s no place like home—There’s no place like home—“

    “Did I mention that the lions love goat meat?” the first guard sneered.

    “AAAAH!!!!”  The little satyr curled up in a ball on the ground.  His voice muffled, he could still be heard chanting, “There’s no place like home—There’s REALLY no place like home…”

    “Your chariot’s around back,” the second guard explained with another point of his spear.  “Oh…and good luck,” he added, stifling a laugh.

    “You’re all heart—You know that?” Mark said with a snarl as he passed by the guards.

 

    The bustle behind the arena was worse than that at any one of the Raiders’ own concerts.  Riders were busy suiting up, horses were being readied, and last minute repairs were being made to a number of chariots.  A man with a scroll approached the group.

    “Entering the races?” he asked.

    “Yessir,” Paul and Mark both chimed.

    The man looked around them, puzzled.  “Where are your horses?”

    “Horses?”

    “You can’t race a chariot without horses, you incredibly silly person,” the man scoffed.  “Now, find your horses or else you can’t race—It’s that simple.”

    Mark wandered to one of the stalls where a few of the horses were.  “Can’t we take one of these?”

    “I’m afraid not,” said the man.  “Those belong to the Cyclops.”  He raised one of the animal’s manes, revealing a large, single eye.  “See?”

    “Eeewww…”

    “Horses, horses, horses,” Paul murmured as he paced back and forth.  “Where am I gonna find my own horses at a time like this?”

 

    “So, what are you doing?  Left foot up first, THEN kick or what?”

    “No, it’s left foot, up-up, then right foot, up, then left…”  Drake was trying to invent a new four-legged variation on the Nooney Rickett and Phil was desperately trying to learn.  More than anything, they kicked up a lot of dust.

    “How the heck can you dance with hooves?” Smitty complained, trying to learn the steps as well.

    “Stick to the two-legged version,” Phil advised.  “That’d still work for you.”

    “But it’s this hoof thing that’s so ha-ah-ah-ah-ah-rd.”  He paused and sighed, disgusted at his odd speech impediment.  “I’m just about sick of tha-ah-ah-ah-ah-at.”

    Phil and Drake returned to their dance lesson, oblivious to what was going on around them.  Next thing they knew, they had been strapped to a chariot.

    “How do we keep getting into stuff like this?” Phil bemoaned.

    “We’re just lucky, I guess,” said Drake.  He glared angrily at Paul as he adjusted a harness strap.  “You just wait till we get back home…”

    “No talking, all racing,” Paul muttered.  He climbed over into the chariot and readied himself for the challenge.

    Then the bottom boards of the chariot fell out.

    “Aw, nuts!” Paul fussed.  Infuriated, he returned to the man with the scroll.  “Ya gave us the rotten one!”

                “You’re lucky you got a chariot at all, so I’d quit complaining if I were you,” said the man.  He took a quick look at the chariot.  “Hmm…”

    “Hmm?  Whaddya mean ‘Hmm’?”  Paul was growing more and more impatient by the second.

    “That’s a lighter model chariot…”  The man shook his head.  “You need a lighter driver.”

    “Lighter?”

    The man patted Paul’s stomach.  “Lighter.”

    Paul immediately stood up straighter and sucked in his stomach.  “Lighter, eh?  What about Mark?  Mark!”

    “Me?  Racing?” Mark chimed excitedly.  “Where do I sign up?”

    The man with the scroll shook his head again.  “For THAT chariot, you need someone smaller AND lighter.”

    “Who’s left?”  Paul shrugged, disheartened.

    “How about him?”  Mark pointed to Smitty, who was seated on the ground and had a mouthful of grass.  It was apparent his few “goat” traits were coming through a little TOO well.

    “So we’re gonna let goat boy drive?”

    “It’s no worse than you having the Twins pull the thing, right?”

    “You gotta point there….”

 

     “TALLYHOE!”

    “Smitty…”

    “Yeah?”

    “Cool it, would ya?” Drake pleaded.

    “Oh, okay.”  Smitty took his place in the chariot, equipped with an old whip and a makeshift helmet.

    “Smitty, what IS that thing on your head?” Phil asked.

    “Part of a Grecian urn.”

    “What’s a Grecian urn?”

    “About a buck-fifty,” Smitty chuckled.

    “Please—Enough with the puns already!” Drake insisted.

    “So, what are we up against?” Phil asked, straining to see the other entrants in the race.

    Smitty stood on the tips of his hooves, surveying the competition.  “Looks like we’ve got the one-eyed wonders on one side….. Some guy with bull horns on the other…”

    “What—Bull horns on his chariot?” Drake snickered.

    “No—On his HEAD,” Smitty continued.  “Like mine, except….well….a lot bigger.”

    “Hoo boy,” groaned Phil.

    “What’s first prize if we win this thing, anyway?” asked Drake.

    “The satisfaction of a job well done?”

    “Getting out al-ah-ah-ah-ah-ive?” Smitty added.

    “I’m all for that!”

    “Me too,” Drake agreed.

 

     Paul and Mark retreated to their seats in the arena.  Both nervously awaited the start of the race.

    “What do you think their chances are of winning?” Mark asked.

    “Well…”

    “I heard Keith Allison’s available for gigs…”

    “What’s his number?”

 

    A gong sounded the start of the race.  The charioteers burst forth from the starting gate, charging ahead at full-speed….

    And there were those three Raiders, still at the gate.

    “Do we go now?”

    “I think so.”

    “My tail itches… And this helmet thingie’s buggin’ my horns…”

    “WOULD YOU HURRY UP AND GO ALREADY?!?” Paul shrieked from his seat in the crowd.

    The centaurs and satyr jumped, startled.  They took a collective breath, then charged into the race.

 

    Paul sat back down in his seat, head in his hands.  “What was I thinking?”

    “C’mon,” said Mark.  “Things are bound to work out in our favor.”

    “They’d better.  I bet my toga on this stupid race!”

 

    The trio plowed through the other chariots almost effortlessly, but they were still lagging behind the lead chariot, driven by the Cyclops.  As they edged closer, Phil felt began to feel a little nauseous.

    “What’s wrong?” Drake asked, barely audible above the roar of hooves.

    “One-eyed horses!  BLEAH!”

    Smitty cracked the whip, accidentally striking Phil’s rear haunches.

    “OW!  Watch it with that thing back there, would ya?!?”

    “Sorry—Got carried away,” Smitty sheepishly answered.

 

    The Cyclops caught sight of the Raider trio catching up to him.  He tightened his grip on the reigns and drove his chariot into the side of his competitors.  Phil and Drake stumbled momentarily.

    “What’s he doing?” Smitty asked as he struggled to keep a hold on the chariot.

    “Cheating!  That’s what he’s doing!” Drake yelled angrily.

    “Since when did they allow centaurs in a chariot race?” the Cyclops complained.  He slammed his chariot into the trio’s again.

    “Alright, now I’m all kinds’a’ mad,” Smitty growled.  “You guys saw Ben-Hur, right?”

    “Yeah!” both the centaurs answered.

    Smitty kept a firm grip on the harness reigns and adjusted his helmet.  “Alright, then you know what to do…”

    “Right!” Drake replied.

    On Drake’s signal, they rammed the Cyclops’s chariot.  Unfortunately, the old chariot couldn’t take it after already being slammed a few times.  It began to fall apart right under Smitty’s feet.

 

    Paul and Mark were both in a panic.  Paul had begun stomping and screaming words beyond all definition, while Mark was literally pulling out his hair.

    “Come on!” Paul screeched.  “Poke ‘im in the eye or something!!!”

    “Use your heads!  You’re not Ben-Hur!!!” added Mark.

 

     The Cyclops drove his chariot into the other one a final time, breaking it into pieces.  Smitty was still clutching onto the harness reigns and made a leap onto Drake’s back.

    “You don’t think he’d try smashing us without a chariot, do you?” asked Smitty.

                “Oh, wouldn’t he—LOOK OUT!”  Phil barely dodged the Cyclops’s chariot as he drove it towards his feet.

    “This guy’s gonna be a pretty sore loser, I can tell you that,” Drake observed.  He steered them to the inner circle of the racetrack, then they began to slowly creep ahead of the Cyclops.

    The one-eyed creature roared with fury and drove his horses even harder.  He cracked his whip and was close enough to strike Smitty’s rear end.

    “YEE-OUCH!”

    “Now you know how it feels!” Phil scolded.

    “If we stay ahead of him, we’ll be home free,” Drake announced.

    “If we stay ahead of him, he’s gonna hit me with that stupid whip again!” Smitty whimpered.

    CRACK!

  
             “OUCH!  You one-eyed idiot—That’s my TAIL!”

 

     The guards at the rear of the arena were no strangers to the noise of the chariot races and quite frankly, they were bored.  They occupied themselves by drawing in the dirt with their spears.

    “Three in a row,” said the first guard.  “Looks like I win again.”

    “Rats!”

    A shadow soon loomed over them.

    “Excuse me, gentlemen…”

    The two guards looked up from their game and locked glances with a tall, muscular blonde man.  Behind him were two rather menacing-looking centaurs, along with a dirty little satyr, who kept making lewd gestures at the women who passed by.

    “Can we help you?” asked the first guard.

    “The name’s Hercules,” the blonde beamed.  “I’m here to race the chariots.”  He flashed his perfect smile.

    The guards looked at each other, puzzled.

    “What?  You look like something’s wrong,” said Hercules.  “Didn’t anyone tell you I was coming?  I even brought my friends here to race with me.”  He thumbed back at the two centaurs and the satyr.

    The first guard looked at the muscle-bound man, a bit worried.  “Looks like we’ve got a little problem here, Herc…”

 

     Back in the stands, Paul and Mark were going crazy with excitement.

    “RUN RUN RUN!!!”

    “Come ON!”

    “How many times do we have to run around this stupid thing?” Phil asked.  “My legs are killing me!”

    “Someone stop the ride—I wanna get off!” Smitty whined.

    “Sorry that horse butts don’t come with shock absorbers, little guy,” Drake apologized.  He took a quick look behind him.  “I think we’re ahead!”

    Smitty, still trying to hold onto his helmet as he bounced on Drake’s back, took notice.  “Hey—We ARE!”

    “The One-Eyed Wonder doesn’t look too happy about it,” commented Phil, glimpsing back at the Cyclops.  He had stopped his chariot and was stomping the dirt, swearing and spitting the entire time.

    “Tough for him,” Drake laughed.

    Another toga-clad man at the edge of the track waved a red flag, signaling the end of the race.  The crowd roared, mixed with cheers and boos. 

    Mark jumped up and down in the stands.  “We won!  We won!  We won!”  He grabbed Paul and kissed him on top of the head.

    Paul looked at him, disgusted.  “I like ya, boy, but don’t you ever do that again….”

    Mark blushed.  “Uh…Sorry.  I…lost my head for a moment there…”  He diverted his gaze from the track for a moment, looking at the other spectators in the stands.  He quickly made eye contact with a woman who had unusual, serpent-like hair.  She winked.

    Mark smiled and winked in return.

    The serpent-haired woman grinned and blew him a kiss.  She rose from her seat, then disappeared into the crowd.

     “Well, I’m gonna go down and congratulate the boys and see what we won,” Paul said as he stood.  “You coming, Mark?”

    No answer.

    “Mark?”

    Paul turned around, ready to yank Mark up from his seat by his ponytail.  He stopped suddenly.

    Mark was sitting as still and quiet as a statue.

                In fact, he WAS a statue.

                “As if I didn’t have enough problems already,” Paul groaned.  “Wonder what cures this?”  A few pigeons had already begun to land on the Mark statue; Paul shooed them away.

 

                Phil, Drake and Smitty approached the edge of the arena where Mark and Paul were seated.

                “All hail…US!” Phil chimed.  “We’ve got the fastest feet this side of Portland…AND the Parthenon.”

                Drake studied Mark.  “Hey—Why’s Mark so quiet?”

                Paul knocked on Mark’s head.  “Cos he’s a statue,” he groused.  “Makes me wonder what I’m gonna end up turning into!”

                “Maybe you could put a little fountain in his head?” Smitty suggested.  “He might look good in somebody’s ga-ah-ah-ah-ah-arden…”

                “SMITTY!!”

                “Or not…”  He shrank down, embarrassed.

                “Maybe he’ll turn back when we get back to the Time Machine,” said Drake.

                “What if he doesn’t?” asked Phil.

                “Then we’ll take Smitty’s garden gnome suggestion into consideration.”

                “There they are!” came a voice.

                The Raiders’ attention was drawn towards a group of guards in the arena.  They were fast approaching them.

                “I don’t like the looks of this,” Drake said, fearfully.

                “Yeah, those guys don’t look too happy,” Phil added.

                “IMPOSTERS!  How DARE you?”  An overly muscle-bound blonde man stormed ahead of the guards.

                Paul’s eyes widened as they focused on the man’s companions.  He looked at his own band mates, who happened to have the same unusual traits—horsehair and hooves.  “I think we’d better go now…”

                Smitty pointed at the other satyr.  “Hey look!  He’s got a goat ta-ah-ah-ah-ah-ail, too!”

                The satyr flung a small dagger at him.  It missed Smitty’s head and lodged into the wall, arena-side.

                “I don’t think he wants to make friends, though…” the drummer gulped.

 

                As the guards advanced, Paul and Smitty did their best to lower Mark from the stands and onto Phil’s back.  Phil’s knees buckled.

                “Geez—What’s he made of?  Lead?”

                “Careful you don’t chip anything off anywhere,” Paul cautioned.  “I don’t think he’d want to wake up from this with anything important missing.”

                “Define ‘important’,” Phil snorted through gritted teeth.

               At last, they secured the statue onto Phil’s back with the harness reigns left from the broken chariot.  Paul climbed over the arena wall, taking a seat on Drake’s back, right behind Smitty.

                “Speaking of lead…” Drake groaned.  “Are you sure you don’t have any in your pockets, Paul?”

                “Shaddup and start runnin’!”

                The centaurs took off as fast as they could, the assemblage of guards right behind them.  The muscular stranger had mounted one of his centaur friends and fast catching up.

                “Anybody remember where we parked?” Smitty asked.

                Paul pointed to the door flapping in the distance.  “The door into nowhere—That’s our stop!”

                They screeched to a halt in front of the Time Machine’s doorway.  Paul and Smitty were first inside, carefully dragging Mark into the prop.  They set him against an inner corner.

                Drake and Phil again had difficulties with the entryway.

                “Move over!”

                “No, YOU!”

                “YOU!”

                One of the guards threw a spear at the centaurs as they struggled through the doorway.  It grazed both of them across the rear haunches.

                “GAAAAH!!”

                “YEE-OUCH!”

                “Now will you hurry it up?” Paul pleaded impatiently.

                Eyes wild, Phil turned to Drake.  “By all means, after you!”

                “Age before beauty,” Drake said, equally shaken.

                They stumbled to climb into the prop, but finally made it.  It was a tight fit this time.

                “It smells like a stable in here,” Paul complained.

                The other three Raiders exchanged glances; they began making barnyard noises.

                 “You wanna quit with the noise?  I’ve got a splitting headache!” Mark whined.

                The noise ceased.

                “He’s okay!” Drake exclaimed.  “How you feeling?”

                Mark moved very slowly.  “Kinda stiff.  Sorta like I’ve been sitting too long somewhere.”  He looked around at the inside of the Time Machine prop.  “Are we there yet?”

                “We just left,” Phil answered.  “And I’ll be more than glad to get back home.”

                “Back home?  Didn’t we just get in here?”

                Smitty rolled his eyes.  “It’s a long story…”

                Paul nodded.  “We’ll explain it to you when we get back.”  He looked at Phil and Drake.  “Right, guys?”

                Neither of them was very focused on the conversation.

                “Anybody else here got a craving for oats?”

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