By Asher Tye
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters associated with She-Ra: Princess of Power or He-Man: Masters of the Universe. They're owned by Mattel, with the actual world being the creation of Filmation studios. I make this work with no expectation of remuneration, only for pleasure.
The old red stroller creaked and shook a bit as Madame Razz pushed it along the old dirt trail leading away from her house, rocking about as much from the rough, uneven nature of the forest floor as from the struggles of its occupant trying to get loose.
``Now now, dearie, stop making such a fuss,'' the old witch chided. ``Wouldn't want to accidentally cause a tip over, would we?'' Razz bent over the little conveyance, offering a sweetly innocent smile that held more than a hint of self-satisfaction as she looked at her captive.
From where he had been secured in the stroller's seat, Imp glared up at the rebel, yellow eyes squinting quite angrily. The little blue creature was not a happy camper to say the least, particularly considering his current predicament. Gone was his normal Horde uniform, replaced with a bright pink bib and diaper, along with a matching pair of booties and a bonnet which gave the chubby little monster the appearance of a rather put-upon infant.
Imp's attention on Madame Razz, he did not notice it as a wooden finger stealthily slid under his chin.
``Awwww, is `ips a wittle gwumpy-wumpy?'' Broom asked as he knelt into the stroller. ``Don't wow-wy, cwanky boy, Unca Broom will take good care of `oo.'' A squeal of unwanted giggling erupted from the beleaguered spy as the magical familiar began to tickle him. It didn't last long, Broom jerking back his hand as Imp angrily snapped at the offending digit. Now it was Broom's turn to look angry. ``Ah-ah-ah, baby needs to control his temper if he doesn't want a spanking.''
```Baby' needs to turn a stupid broom into kindling!'' Imp growled back. ``Let me outta here or I'll...!''
``Neh-heh-heh-heh, oh come now, dearie, we both know you can't do much at the moment,'' Razz said as she reached down and pinched a fat cheek. Imp growled at that, but Broom's warning kept him from getting too aggressive. ``Just settle down or I'll let Broom have a `whack' at your attitude problem.'' The sullen imp began to grumble and growl, arms crossing over his chest as he fumed over the unfairness of his situation.
It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. He'd transformed himself into one of those repulsively cute baby dolls and let himself be picked up by one of the Rebels' children while they'd been in a village, thereby allowing him bypass the power of the Whispering Woods that normally discouraged those with evil intent from entering, a favored trick of his. It had worked, like he knew it would, and he'd been taken right into the Rebel base camp. Before he could capitalize on his own cleverness to do some spying, however, Madame Razz and Broom had spotted the suddenly mobile doll and recognized the threat. Realizing the jig was up, the shapeshifter had tried to escape, but either the doddering old witch had been having an uncommonly good day or Imp had been having an uncommonly bad one because Madame had actually been able to peg the little Horde spy with a spell, knocking him into one of the nearby trees. When he'd come to, he'd been inside the old bag's house wearing this ridiculous get up with Broom strapping him into the ugly old stroller. As near as he could tell, and he'd been trying to prove it wrong for some time now, Razz's spell had somehow mode locked him mid-transformation.
Imp stared at his hands, fingers now too stiff and stubby to undo the buckles that held him in place. As much as he hated to admit it, the Rebels were right. At present, he was helpless until his powers returned. He didn't even have his wings, which meant even if he managed to get away, he'd be trying to waddle off on two stubby little legs. And in a diaper no less.
Which meant he was pretty much their captive until either the spell wore off or someone came to rescue him.
Madame Razz chuckled a bit as she felt Imp slump back into the stroller, listening to him grumble and gripe under his breath over his perceived mistreatment. She'd actually been trying to freeze the little blue brat in place with her spell, but life was about making little compromises and this worked just as well. While a part of her acknowledged it was a tad mean-spirited on her part, the old witch had very vivid memories of all the mischief the normally smug spy had caused for her friends, to say nothing of she herself. Besides, a bit of karmic payback might teach the little brat a lesson in manners.
Besides, Razz had to admit, despite Imp's nasty personality and selfish nature, he did look awfully cute decked out like an infant, and she hadn't gotten to do something like this since King Sprite had been a baby.
``Hey... Hey wait a minute,'' Imp suddenly piped up again as the stroller pressed forward, the familiar outline of tents giving way to the more permanent buildings of the settlement. ``Where are you taking me, old witch?!''
``Well, it's such a nice day, dearie, and you wanted to have a look around our little home...'' Yellow eyes widened as their owner began to squirm uncomfortably.
``No, no, no, no, no! Don't you dare! I demand you take me to a cell or something!''
``Come now, we don't lock helpless little babes up in cells,'' Broom chided as he walked ahead of his mistress, scribbling something on a piece of poster board that Imp couldn't see. ``What, do you think, we're monsters like the Horde?''
``NO! Do you hear me? I refuse to be paraded around looking like a stupid baby!''
``Oh, don't sell yourself short, you look adorable,'' Madame Razz assured the rapidly stressing spy. ``Or if you prefer, I could drop you off at the Fright Zone...'' The struggling stopped as Imp sat stark still, piggish eyes dilating in horror. ``I'm sure your `friends' would be most excited to see yo...''
``You wouldn't dare...'' Imp hissed. The old witch gave him a sly smile, one that said that not only would she, he'd be wearing little ribbons when she did. Before the discussion could get any further, a familiar voice interrupted them.
``Ah-ha, Madame Razz, just who I was looking for,'' Kowl proclaimed. ``I wanted to... let you... know that...'' Kowl's voice trailed off as he hovered in front of the stroller, noticing its unlikely occupant as he glowered back at the bird. Suddenly his feathered cheeks began to puff out as he grabbed hold of his beak, fighting to keep control of himself. This proved a losing battle, his wings freezing up as his whole body began to shake. ``Bwaha... Haha... Hahaha... Hahahaha... Ahahahaha!'' the old bird began to bellow as he fell down and landed on his back with a hard thump. If the impact of his fall had hurt the flyer, no one could've known as Kowl's body convulsed with raucous laughter. Three times the bird seemed to regain control of himself, only for his teary eyes to open, spot Imp sitting in his stroller, and once more dissolve into uncontrolled laughter.
Imp's eye twitched, his cheeks blushing a bit as he watched the feathered rebel breaking down in hysterics.
``It's not funny you feathered idiot!'' Imp yelled, leaping forward with the intent of doing Kowl bodily harm, only for the straps across his chest to bounce him back into his seat, the diaper on his hips releasing a squishy squeak as he landed. With a heroic display of willpower, the old bird managed to wrest control of his body again, pulling himself to his feet as his wings began to flap and carry him shakily back into the air. It was a quick trip as short talons latched onto the stroller's top, Kowl's back and neck craning down to maintain eye contact with the fuming villain.
``Well just look at you,'' he cooed, a finger twirling a tuft of hair poking out from under Imp's bright pink bonnet. ``You finally found a form that matches your attitude. And don't you look simply precious. Oh, I can't wait to tell Bow about this.''
``Don't you da-mmmph!'' Imp was quieted as Razz shoved a pink pacifier into his open mouth. The horrible taste was enough to cause him to gag as he spat out the offending object, fingers wiping at his tongue.
``Broom, please keep an eye on the `little one' for a moment. I'd like a word with Kowl here,'' Madame Razz said, offering her forearm to her feathered friend as Broom made a salute. Kowl jumped over to the proffered perch. ``Now Kowl, I need you to go find Spragg and his friends and get them...'' It was at this point that Razz's voice dropped in volume as she moved away. Imp wiggled and squirmed in his bindings, oversized ears straining to try to make out what was being said, fairly certain it would not be anything pleasant.
``Don't you think trying to eavesdrop on others has gotten you into enough trouble today?'' asked Broom with a smirk. ``Besides, I think you're about to become a bit busy.'' The animate broom pointed back at the forest village, from which the commotion caused by Kowl was attracting some unwanted attention. People were beginning to gather, curious as to the ruckus being caused by what was typically one of their more reserved neighbors. Of course, the moment they noticed the stroller and its horrified occupant, they couldn't help but start to laugh.
``I... will... get... you... for... this...'' the little spy ground out through gritted teeth as Razz sans Kowl returned to the stroller and began pushing it slowly through the gathering crowd, giving plenty of time for all to see. Broom shuffled ahead of them, holding up the poster board he'd been writing on for all to see and getting more laughter.
``Come one, come all for a once in a lifetime event,'' the wooden creature called out. ``It's Baby Imp, the gosh darn cutest widdle ankle-biter in Hordak's whole army!''
``I am not cute!'' Imp yelled out, almost drowned out by the increasing laughter as more people showed up along the road.
``Aw, he's blushing,'' one of the bystanders, a young woman wearing a pink dress with a definite flower motif, observed. ``I just want to pinch his chubby little cheeks.'' The girl began waving her hand in a circle, a trail of magical energy following her fingers. There was a similar trail around Imp's neck as a flower necklace suddenly appeared out of nowhere, landing gently on the young demon's shoulders. ``There you go, sweetie, a little something cheery to brighten your day.'' The ``baby'' growled, clawing angrily at the adornment as he did so.
Broom chuckled as he noted Perfuma's little gift falling out of the stroller as a result of their prisoner's tantrum. Unlike his mistress, the magical familiar was suffering no qualms over Imp's current predicament. Sense of moral superiority or not, it was gratifying to see the tables turned on the normally mischievous little spy, especially given how much trouble his pranks and sabotage tended to cause. He almost hoped Hordak's flunky was permanently stuck like this, or at least would have if he wasn't sure Madame Razz's conscience would have made her take in the now infantilized villain. And the last thing Broom needed cluttering up their home was an obnoxious little brat Razz felt responsible for.
<i>`A shame I didn't bring my camera,'</i> Broom thought as he continued to bark out his little announcement. <i>`Bet a picture of this would probably warm my bristles for years to come.'</i>
A few more people began to turn up as they continued on, called out by friends or attracted by Broom's loud calls and sign waving. Miserably Imp wondered just how long the Rebel witch planned to push him around; they'd been down practically every road in the camp. It was as they made what had to be their fiftieth turn that a pair of Twiggets appeared, making their way towards the trio. Even from where he was trying to disappear into his stroller, Imp could see the purple forest green clad sprites fighting to keep from bursting into laughter.
``Heh, heh, heh, and here I thought ol' Kowl was exaggerating,'' the shorter and skinnier of the Twiggets said, reaching out a lanky hand in and tickling Imp's exposed belly and chest.
``Pft-ka-nya!'' the diapered spy squealed, little hands trying to swat the skinny fingers away.
``Gosh, he's ticklish,'' the larger, more robust Twigget observed, pulling up opposite to his friend. ``I didn't know any Hordesmen were ticklish. That's adorable.'' To Imp's horror, another hand assailed, this one wiggling under his armpit.
``Nyo, no-nono!'' Imp snorted as the two Twiggets joined forces, squirming and struggling as the inquisitive creatures sought out which parts of his body elicited the loudest responses. ``Nyha-ha! Get away! Get away! I mean... mean it! STOP!''
``Now, now, that's enough,'' Madame Razz finally said after about a minute of this. ``Spragg, Sprocker, I said stop now.'' The Twiggets jerked their hands back at the elder witch's change of tone, leaving their victim a quivering mass of angrily giggling flesh. ``So, were you able to set it up?''
``Huh? Oh yeah,'' Spragg answered, saluting as he remembered he hadn't come here simply to torture Imp. ``It was no problem. Spritina is off with Queen Sparkle, but Spunky was willing to help. Everything's ready for your little bundle of `joy.'''
``Thank goodness, my feet were starting to hurt from all this walking,'' she offered in a relieved sigh.
Imp was only just managing to regain control of his spasming body, roughly wiping away the tears in his eyes when the stroller came to a stop. Before he could ask what was going on, the pacifier made its return to his mouth. Again, the little monster tried to spit the offending object out, but this time the nubby stuck against his fangs, holding his jaw shut. Stubby hands pulled at the ring on its back, trying and failing to pull it free. Madame Razz smiled as she moved around to the front of the stroller, undoing the straps as she lifted Imp from his spot, giving him a little pinch as she did so.
``There now, not so fearsome when we can't bite people, are we?'' she said with a smile as Imp's eyes widened. ``And you can forget about pulling that pacifier out, young man. Your fangs will come out before it will until I remember the spell to unhex it.''
``MMT?!'' the diapered demon yelped.
``Oh, don't worry, I'm sure Broomy will know it if I ask him. Now then,'' turning on her heel, Madame Razz began to carry her charge off, ``I'm afraid I have to leave you now. But we can't really have a bad little boy like you left unsupervised, so I've arranged for a bit of help.''
``Melf?'' Imp's head struggled to turn and look over his shoulder, wondering what fresh, new hell the Rebels had in store for him.
``Welcome to `Daycare,' little guy,'' Spragg proclaimed from where he stood next to a rather frilly and cute play pen that had been set up under a shade tree. It had been filled with fuzzy pink animals, unicorn festooned blankets, and little mobile with fairies spinning about on it hanging from one side. Kowl perched near the pen as well with a pleased look on his beak as he stared at the spy. Imp growled as his eyes narrowed, clearly displeased. ``What? It's better than a prison cell, isn't it? And we'll make sure you're nice and comfy while you're our guest. We even have a bottle of spoiled milk if you get hungry.'' As if to prove this, the Twigget held up a bottle that also had a small nipple over its top. The old witch lowered the humiliated spy into his plush hell, patting his head as she did so. She then turned to Spragg, handing over her little bundle of misery.
``All right, keep an eye on Imp and don't let him get into trouble. I'll be back after I've seen how Queen Angella wants to handle this.'' Imp noticed Broom hand his poster board to the other Twigget, Sprocker, winking while staying out of Razz's field of vision. ``With any luck, Hordak will agree to some sort of prisoner exchange, but we might need a crib or something if we're going to be babysitting for a while.'' Another growl from Imp, but Madame Razz didn't even spare him a glance. ``Yes, yes, dearie, I know; you're not happy. You've made that clear. But maybe this will teach you about going places you're not welcome, hmm? Broomy!''
``Yes Ma'am,'' the familiar said as he held out his arms and assumed flight position. Madame climbed on, the duo rising into the air as she kicked her foot.
``Okay, dearies, I'll be baaaaack.'' Just like that, the old witch was gone, and for a brief moment Imp hoped her spell's magic would fade in her absence. A quick attempt to turn into a rocket proved him still trapped, particularly distressing when he noticed the rather sneaky looks his three guards were giving him.
Imp gave a very audible gulp.
Sometime later a crowd had formed near the play-pen, a small jar having been set up on a stool with a number of copper coins inside. Sprocker proudly held up the poster board proclaiming ``Limited Time Only; Have a picture taken with Baby Imp!'' for all to see. Nearby Kowl maintained a sense of order amongst their patrons, handing out small numbers to people while keeping an eye on their prisoner. The trio were doing a rather brisk business as several people seemed fairly keen to take advantage of the camp's latest attraction, particularly some of the younger children. Presently Imp was being held between two sisters, one the very girl he'd used to sneak into the woods, as they all posed for a picture together.
``Wait, he's not smiling,'' one of the girls said as too pairs of fingers grabbed Imp's fairly sore cheeks, pulling them into a faux smile.
``Alright everybody, say cheese,'' Spragg said, aiming a camera at the group, the two girls smiling brightly as Imp simply grumbled. As the flash went off for what felt like the umpteenth time, Imp could only grump as he felt himself in for a very long day.