FROM THE GOLDEN ACORN NOMINATED AUTHOR Nathair Sionnach : A continuation of GOLDEN ACORN AWARD NOMINATED STORIES Fade Away, and Crossbones We give you an adventure of the year, a yarn to end this trilogy: Please note that the Rescue Rangers are the product of Disney and used without permission. a Sequel to Golden Award nominated stories. Part 1 of 2 of Finding Destiny. Finding Apocalypse Chapter 12: Entering the Dragon’s lair 09.26 Rescue Ranger Headquarters, September Monday 6 th, 2010 Foxglove stared at Luna for a few moments. “Who?” she asked. Luna and angrily grabbed the intruder's shirt and pressed the intruder into the wall, and shoved her face close to the intruder's. She ground each word from clenched teeth. “Are you Tom Pascali?” The intruder stared levelly at her, “I don't know what you're talking about miss.” Luna twitched her left lip corner. “You're a terrible liar.” she said firmly. The intruder blinked. “I'm not lying miss. I really have no clue as to who you're talking about.” he said defensively. Foxy's ears twitched, signaling the sounds of approaching vehicles. Foxy glanced out the window as Luna continued to interrogate the intruder. “Oh yes you do punk!” She hissed as she pressed the intruder harder into the wall. “Er Luna...” Foxy interrupted nervously holding out one wing. “Not now! I'm busy!” Luna snapped harshly. “Erm... but some thing's coming and quick.” Foxy commented warily. “Ooh, can't they come after I squeeze the information out of him?” Luna sighed resignedly. “They're here.” Foxy announced as the front door opened and creatures with digital camouflage and body armor entered with a couple of other creatures, one in a business suit, the other in black slacks, a white pressed shirt and a thin jacket with bold gold letters on the back and small same letters on the left side, “ACIA”. “No body move.” the one in the business suit said calmly in a deep baritone voice. “You there, let him go.” The jacketed creature ordered. Luna released her hold on the intruder as each uniformed creature dashed about the interior of the Ranger HQ. The jacketed creature nodded to the intruder as the uniformed creatures created a perimeter guard outside of the tree. “I see you've finally been burned.” the jacketed creature replied with a slight western US accent. The agent sighed. “By my girlfriend no less.” he groused. Tom turned to Luna. “And now you know.” Luna stared at Tom in disbelief. “You died in my arms that night!” She cried “How'd you not die!? Magic?” Foxy glanced to Tom who shook his head as the one of the agents checked the other rooms. “No Luna, that was a double. After I departed from you, I slipped into an alley and my double continued from there, unfortunately he died. Did a pretty good job...” He got no further, the mark from Luna's palm made him lose his words. She stared at him and slowly shook her head. Her eyes looked betrayed. “I thought you loved me.” she whispered. “It's not like that.” Tom whispered in return. “How could you.” She replied brokenly, her fists balling up. “You lied to me!” “You wouldn't understand nor comprehend what I do for a living. Even if I did tell you, I'll have to kill you. It's classified.” Tom said somewhat comfortingly. “Then do it! Kill me if you must!” Luna snapped angrily, “But you tricked me! You made me believe that you died in my arms!” She barked prodding deep into Tom's chest with an accusing claw. “I had to get into... I didn't... I...” Tom stuttered trying desperately to find a satisfying answer. “I what? I had another girlfriend to meet and party all this time?” Luna accused. “I wouldn't betray you and you know it.” Tom snapped. “Betray... Betray me? Funny you should use that seeing as how you ran off and hired another to play dead you.” Luna sneered as she glared at Tom with her arms folded. “What? Why would I ru... It's none of your business.” Tom whispered softly. “And what is my business exactly?” Luna asked cynically. Tom looked uncomfortable. “What were you doing last night?” he finally asked. “What's that got to with anything?” Luna cried, spreading her paws akimbo. “Just answer the question.” Tom stated urgently. Luna studied his face, “I was with the AFBI. Why?” Tom took a soft hold on Luna's right shoulder. “Was there a heist at Fat Cat's casino at midnight?” Tom asked. Luna nodded. “Yeah...” “Tell me who it was that you're after.” Tom asked turning from Luna. Luna glanced at the other agent then to Foxy then back to Tom. “My dad. He robbed the joint with a female mouse all decked out in an outfit that must've came from some old black and white movie.” She answered bluntly. Tom's eyes flashed as he reached into a hidden pocket, turned sharply to Luna and shoved a picture centimeters from her face. “This creature?” Tom asked. “Well I dunno, Special Agent Kaiser told me what this lady looked like but I didn't actually see her.” Luna confessed, “But that still didn't answer the question as to why you just up and ran off on me.” Tom showed the picture to Foxy. “Is this the one?” Foxy nodded furiously, “I caught sight of her whenever our target was eating. The others and I was going to capture him until the chloroform filled the room.” Tom glanced over to the suited creature. “Sir?” The jacketed creature had returned to the front room from Gadget's workshop and glanced to the suited creature. The jacketed creature shrugged; “From the reports from the AFBI, she and the Rescue Rangers are already in over their heads. Best get this over with, they'll find out sooner or later. Especially if the cat burglar spilled his guts and told them already.” The suited creature nodded for Tom to proceed. Tom sighed and reached into his pocket of his jeans and pulled out a small metallic colored notebook. He opened it and laid it flat on the floor and pressed a button. A flash of light hit the ceiling and formed a holographic diagram of a large scale weapon of mass destruction. It had showed a timer face, several other devices connected to the weapon and the types of explosive. “This is Apocalypse. It is a serious weapon of epic proportions. This thing packs more TNT enough to virtually end life here as we know it.” Tom slowly began. “The name itself denotes of its use. We, the ACIA, have come to believe that this weapon somehow went under the radar of human technology and intelligence. Also we have determined as to the location of said weapon. Already we have information pertaining to shelters for the Syndicate in the most influential communist countries globally. Right now, we have new information from a source stating that this has a timer...” Tom paused and looked at Luna and Foxglove. Both had paled at the sight and description of a weapon that would end their world. “Luna, Foxglove; our source said that we have roughly until the Thirteenth of this year. Which if we leave now, we'll be at the location in about that same time.” “W- where exactly is this thing?” Luna asked without taking her eyes off the image on the wall. “Megiddo, Israel.” Tom answered swiftly. “How convenient.” Foxy observed nervously. “Apocalypse, Megiddo, Israel, end of the world; you'd think that the syndicate probably called the plan 'Armageddon.' to begin with.” Tom stared levelly at her. “There are suggestions that the weapon was being built over time in small quantities. The funding was difficult to trace. And now the connection has been made thanks to you and the other Rangers.” Tom turned the thing off and returned it into his pocket and turned to leave. Luna grabbed his left arm, “We ain't done here.” She said with a level look on her face. “I think we are. Now if you excuse me, I got a world to save.” Tom replied sullenly as he broke free from Luna's grasp. “You ain't going alone.” Luna retorted. Tom halted and turned to Luna, “You? Why?” Luna grinned, “Your friend there said so himself; my friends and I are already in this, in over our heads, as I recall.” “It's still too dangerous.” Tom countered. “Tom;” Luna replied calmly. “Foxy here is a Rescue Ranger, my friends are Rescue Rangers. Even my dear Mother is a Rescue Ranger.” Luna pointed out proudly. “Ooh! Don’t you get it woman, I'm talking about the extinction of mankind here!' Tom exclaimed tiredly. “So.” Luna responded cleverly, “How's that gonna stop me from helping you get that done quicker?” The agents held a swift conference then returned to the others. “Alright, your mission is to disarm Apocalypse and inform Human authorities. Got that?” The suited agent replied. Foxy nodded enthusiastically. The suited agent nodded “Tom?” Tom and Luna stopped for a moment as Tom turned to the suited agent, “Yes?” “You are to guide the Rangers to Apocalypse and assist them in the disarmament of said weapon.” Tom's jaw hit the floor as Luna smirked at Tom. Tom shot a glare at Luna for a second then made his reply, “Yes sir. But I do this under protest.” The jacketed agent grinned ear to ear, “Protest noted. Call the other Rangers and inform them of their new mission.” The suited and jacketed agents made their leave, leaving Tom alone with Foxy and Luna. Tom broke the ice after a few silent minutes. “So where are the other Rangers?” he asked casually. Luna and Foxy glanced at each other, “Somewhere in the southwest I think.” Luna suggested. “Last time I remember, we were somewhere above Texas.” Foxy recalled. “We stopped heading Southwest and went straight West.” Behind them, the radio crackled to life. “Ranger HQ, this is Gadget, anyone there?” Foxy dashed over to the radio and pressed the talk button, “Luna and I are here. We have a new guy joining us in this.” Foxy replied. She then released the talk button and listened intently. “Good. We'll need help and soon. I don't know how long we'll last in this onslaught.” In the back ground, noise of combat, which could be compared to some Vietnam battle. Foxy turned to Luna who took over the radio, “Where are you?” she asked. “We're in Roswell, and things are getting thick here.” Gadget replied. “What's up? What is your situation?” Luna asked desperately. “Getting heavy fire here, apparently the goons are shooting us with unusual projectiles.” Gadget observed. “Oh strike that, now they brought out artillery.” “They brought out what?!” Luna and Foxy exclaimed. Tom instantly got onto the Ranger's phone and dialed into the AFBI HQ in New Mexico, “This is an emergency! We have law enforcement agents under extremely heavy fire!.. Hold on a moment.” Placing a paw on the mouth piece he called over to Luna, “Where are they?!” he called over to Luna “What is your location?” Luna spoke. “Roswell, near some warehouses on the industrial side of the city...” A loud bang and crash sounded loudly on Gadget's end. “Golly! That was close... off by a few inches. Maybe they should work on their angle of trajectory...” “Mom! You don't want to get shot do you?!” Luna yelled. “Wha- oh, no, I was... well anyway they got what appears to be three or more tubes. I wonder why the humans haven't heard this? Truly the warehouse security would've investigated this by now.” A loud boom was heard and Gadget yelling back into the radio, “Great, they're using more...” A loud kaboom rang from the other end of the radio. Afterwards, Gadget yelled into her mike. “SEND HELP!!!” Then another bang has heard just seconds before the radio died. Tom relayed the information over to the New Mexican AFBI outpost then hung up. “They're getting guys in there to retrieve the others.” Tom replied. “Good.” Luna said with a sigh relief. 0010111101000010010011101001001010101001010101011001101000100001010101010010011010110001001110 101010 09.26 Roswell New Mexico Outside, Angeline walked sullenly along a wall to the wreck room for other syndicate members when a large paw clamped itself over her mouth and another pinned her arms to her sides and was pulled into thick brush. She was struggling against her potential captors when she noticed another chipmunk in a fine white jacket, looking all the world like a super spy fresh from the movies. “Is there a chipmunk in that warehouse by the name of Chip?” the chipmunk asked. The paw on her mouth loosened up a bit. “Who are you?” she whispered nervously. The chipmunk approached her, “Well? Is he?” Angeline was about to scream when the burly paw clamped itself over her mouth. The paw owner's voice came from behind. “I don't think this sheilah is gonna talk mate.” “I hope she would.” the chipmunk answered shaking it's head. “If she wants to live she'd better talk.” “But Dale, you nevah said anythin' about killin'!” The voice said behind her. The one called Dale stared levelly at the voice's owner. “Monty, if you want to get anything from the big boys then you gotta be the big boys.” he replied. “Foine, but you ain't getting' blood on me paws mate.” the one called Monty replied sullenly. Angeline glanced to Dale and strained her eyes and head to see Monty. Then a female squirrel appeared, “Dale, Monty. Ah there you guys are. Gadget sent me to tell you... hello, who's this?” “Our prisoner.” Dale answered the female squirrel. “She looks nice.” The squirrel maid commented. Angeline nodded her appreciation to the compliment as Monty and Dale sighed. “We're trying to get some information from this creature from the syndicate.” Dale commented irritated. “Let me try.” the squirrel maid suggested. Dale shrugged and motioned for her to proceed. “Let her go for a moment will you Monty?” the squirrel maid asked sweetly. As Monty's grip loosened, the squirrel maid grabbed Angeline's lapels and drew her close until they were nose to nose, “Where... Is... Chip..?” the squirrel maid ground out viciously. The look in her eyes suggested that she might be one book short of a library. “Who?” Angeline asked. “The chipmunk that looks like the one in the white jacket. Only with a black jacket and fedora on his head, a black nose rather than the red, so where is he?” the squirrel maid asked angrily “In that warehouse there!” Angeline answered pointing to the one she just exited. “But it's guarded.” she added. Tammy glanced to Monty then to Dale. “Now what?” she asked Monty and Dale were racked their brains for some solution. “I can get you in.” Angeline offered. “How can we trust you?” Dale asked suspiciously. “Because I am the one of the few that could go into that warehouse, and get past those guards.” Angeline stated flatly as if it was obvious. “And you'll need me if you want to get your teammate back.” Tammy, Dale and Monty glanced to each other. Monty turned to Angeline. “Still, why should we trust you?” Angeline gazed at each face. “Because... because I...” Each face expressed tension. Angeline took a deep breath. “Listen, I know that Chip is still alive and I can take you directly there. If you just rush in there or try to fight the guards, you'd be long dead before you could even start humming your favorite funeral music.” Angeline replied calmly, staring levelly at each ranger. “This could be a trap.” Monty muttered to Dale. To which Dale nodded in agreement. “If you still doubt me, then maybe I should mention a super weapon.” Angeline offered with a look of sincerity. “A super weapon?” Dale asked curiously. “What kind of super weapon?” Angeline's face went grim as she took another closer stock of her surroundings then leaned forward to the rangers. “A weapon that could ultimately end the civilization as we know it.” After a whispered conference, Monty turned to Angeline with a slight disgruntled expression, “Foine. You'll lead us to Chip. Just you troi anythin' funny behind our backs, ye'll regret it.” Angeline's expression softened as she clutched something under her blouse. “Either way, whatever happens, I'll regret it.” She muttered. Angeline turned to Tammy, “If anything happens to me, tell my brother that I'm sorry and please forgive me.” “Who's your brother?” Tammy asked. “Let's go before they'll miss me. I'm due in three minutes.” Angeline replied quickly after glancing at her wrist watch. 0101011010101010101011011010101010101010101010101010101101011010110101010101010110110101010101 1010111 09.29 Dale and Monty crouched a few feet from the entrance while Tammy and Angeline went off to the right. “The guards look like they've killed a dozen times.” Dale whispered to Monty. “Probably did mate.” Monty whispered back. “Shh! Here comes Angeline. Hope she does her part.” Angeline approached the front door casually. The Badger addressed her. “Hold up. Let me see some identity.” The Weasel circled around from behind the Badger and around Angeline, glancing back the way she came for anyone watching before standing to the left of the Badger. Monty slowly raised himself from behind a sagebrush and threw a makeshift boomerang. It hit home against the Badger's temple with enough force to knock out the beast. The Weasel instantly noticed his partner's fall and looked in the way where the boomerang might have come from when from behind him, Tammy struck the Weasel down by a blow across the back of his head with a hard wood stick. Monty and Dale jogged up to the two females. “How's me throw Miss?” Monty asked. “Right on the money.” Angeline answered as she glanced around. “Now hide them somewhere.” “Hey! We could take their uniforms and pretend to be one of them.” Dale suggested gleefully. “Can't.” Angeline responded as she disarmed the two guards. “Each uniform is tailored to their specific shape and form. Therefore if anyone tried this idea would be revealed by the ill-fitting of the uniform.” “What are those for?” Tammy asked. Angeline checked the pistols for ammo and handed one to Monty and the other to Dale. “So we could defend ourselves. I have one too so you'll just have to be careful not to get shot.” She turned to Monty and Dale, “Know how to load and cock these things?” She asked. “Yep.” Monty nodded, “Used one or two in the service back in the day.” Dale just shook his head. Angeline showed him and Tammy how to cock. For Tammy, it'll be for just in case she ever got hold of one. Angeline opened the door cautiously and peered in. She signaled for the others to follow her. 0100101010101101010101010101010101010101010010101010101011111110101011101010000101011010001010 1010101 The inside of the warehouse was lit with florescent lights and had white tile everywhere. Workstations were positioned against the walls and along the middle. At the rear were some holding cells and guards to each section. Angeline gulped nervously and glanced around. Glad to notice that no one had even looked up from their monitors. Cautiously, she made the others go before her and marched them to the back. Lew and José were standing inside Chip's holding cell. José was sitting casually on the table munching on some cashews while Lew leaned against the wall opposite of the door reading a rodent magazine. Angeline nodded for the others to get in. José looked up in time to see Monty enter and swung at Lew. José cried out in alarm before Dale pounced on him and knocked him senseless while Tammy was undoing Chip's binds. Angeline noticed that some of the other workers and guards had turned to José's cries and decided to investigate. Angeline turned to the others; “Hey Tammy.” She said suddenly. Tammy glanced up to Angeline from Chip’s last bind. Angeline instinctively was playing with a silver chain around her neck. Angeline found her words frozen on her tongue. For several seconds, Angeline thought quickly on what to say. After thirty seconds had gone by she finally said something; “Make sure Chip’s okay for travel.” She said somewhat awkwardly. She returned to her vigil. “Snap. The game's up.” She hastily said. She turned back to the others as Chip, Dale, Monty and Tammy finished tying up Lew and José after having disarmed them. Chip and Tammy both have the guards pistols and extra clips and slipped the holster and belts around their middles. The five creatures dashed to the nearest exit. Some of the guards were quick to shoot off some rounds only to be met with Angeline's as well as Monty's returning shots. Dale grabbed a janitor's mop and knocked some of the other workers down and dumped the bucket of fresh flooring wax on the floor. Chip tossed his fedora in the face of one and followed his hat with his fist then whacked out at the next syndicate worker with a double pawed fist into the worker's face. A guard nearby had ran off to pull a security breaching alarm. Angeline reopened the door and ushered the others out and shooting at the other guards as the alarms rang throughout the hallway. She slammed the door shut and leaned against it. Several guards got to the door and started to bang against it. Tammy, the 'munks and Monty lent a paw to hold the door shut. Angeline took a step back and fired a shot through the door. The guards returned fire as well. The bullets flew through the door, missing the rangers and Angeline. Angeline returned the door and grunted at the force. “You guys gotta go now while I got 'em.” “Hold on a tick.” Monty replied. “Tammy, grab that stick that ye've used and shove that thing through these handle bars.” Tammy grabbed her stick and shoved it where Monty pointed. “Let's get outta here.” Chip then commanded. The five dashed away from the door. Not one minute later the door blew off its hinges. The five glanced back to see the workers spill into the area behind them. “Run!” Dale yelled as dozens of bullets flew around them. “To the Rangerwing!” Chip yelled. As they neared the vehicle, they heard a loud Thunk. Then to their horror, the Rangerwing exploded in a ball of flame. The five were close enough to be knocked down from the concussion blast. Monty grabbed the nearest usable bit of shrapnel and tried to use it to make a makeshift five mouse sized foxhole. Another Thunk and a blast came from their right. A small crater lay, welcoming them inside. Angeline watched the others hop in and glanced back to the mass of angry syndicate workers. “Angeline! Jump in!” Tammy called out. Angeline turned to jump in but then the ground suddenly lurched up and a loud Boom roared from the site. The Rangers covered their eyes against the dust and debris and to their astonishment, Angeline had disappeared. “What are those things they're using against us?” Dale asked somewhat fearfully. Monty squinted his eyes for a moment before delivering his verdict. “Grenade launchers.” He muttered darkly; “Human sized no less. They've put 'em on some sort of contraption to make 'em act loike artillery.” “Great. That's all we needed, artillery.” Chip muttered to himself. Several other explosions went off close by the foxhole and then one or two fired off at another structure where Gadget was located for better radio transmission and reception. “Go check on Gadget!” Monty ordered to Dale. Dale saluted and dashed off in a zig-zag motion. Chip caught sight of Horatio slinking away from the battle. Chip glanced around and spotted a nearby fire extinguisher. He quickly got out and brought it back. “Tammy, you and Monty use this to give me a smoke screen. I'll go get Horatio. You two may have to find another place.” Monty nodded, “Me an' the sheila will be on the hill just next to that othah warehouse.” Chip nodded and wished them luck. Tammy pulled the pin and Monty squeezed the trigger releasing a large cloud of smoke. Chip dashed off toward Horatio while Tammy and Monty snuck away after binding the trigger with Monty's suit jacket. 0101010101110101100101010101110110101010101010101010101010101010101010010101010110101001010111 0100101 Dale arrived to find Gadget laying on her side with a deep gash across her brow. He gently shook her awake. “Gadget, are you alright?” He asked nervously. “I'm fine Dale.” Gadget croaked slightly. “The radio's all gone and it'll take me a few minutes to build a whole new one.” Dale blinked for a second. A shell blew up near Dale and Gadget, knocking Dale off his paws and sent flying into a metal wall where he slid down unconscious. Gadget got up after recovering from temporary disorientation and mild loss of hearing. She hurried to revive Dale. Dale's eyes opened and the first thing he said was what she hadn't heard in ages. “Decaffeinate them!” “Er... R-RamDale! Oh how glad I am to find you.” Gadget said after taking a few swift seconds remembering her last encounter and decided to take on her old role as her “cousin” from the spy games. “Those monsters are after us!” She stated pointing down to the masses of syndicate fighters. RamDale grinned fiendishly. He hopped up and pulled his pistol out and fired round after round into the masses. RamDale threw his pistol at the crowed then vanished amidst the fray. He returned with the most unusual and quick haul: a syndicate cannon with ammo. All towed by a scale model deuce and a half truck. “RamDale, how did you get that so easily?” Gadget asked. RamDale grinned, “Easy.” He replied with a slight chuckle. “I took out several guys along the way.” Gadget grimaced against the thought of all the creatures that were run over by such a heavy scale model vehicle. RamDale was already trying to set up the cannon with grunts and French curses. Gadget then assisted RamDale and got the cannon into position. “You load and I fire.” RamDale barked. “How do I load this?” Gadget asked. “Like this!” RamDale cried out agitatedly as he showed Gadget. “First you lift this part up...” He said shifting a part of the grenade launcher open. Then grabbing a grenade he shoved it inside, “Then you take the ammo and put in there, shiny part up and then you slam the black part down.” He said as he slammed the under part of the grenade launcher down. “Now it's ready to shoot. First we need to aim.” RamDale said as he dashed to the sighting mechanism. Gadget watched as RamDale aimed the cannon, grabbed the string that was attached to the grenade launchers trigger and pulled. The cannon let out a loud Thunk and Gadget watched as a small mushroom cloud emerged in the middle of a syndicate crowd seconds after being shot out. 0101010110110110110101011011011010101010110101011011010101010111011010101010111010010110101010 1011100 10.17 Tammy noticed a bloody form off to her right as she was running behind Monty. Skidding to a halt, Tammy rushed to the form's side, to her surprise; it was Angeline lying covered in dust and her own blood. “Help... Me...” she croaked weakly as she raised a bloody arm. Glancing to Monty, Tammy carefully picked Angeline daintily in her arms and ran as fast as her legs could carry her and her charge. Monty glanced back, seeing Tammy carrying a body; he halted and waited until Tammy passed him. He watched the smokescreen dissipate from the small breeze that came from the south. “It worked whoile it lasted.” He muttered as he turned and followed Tammy to the hilltop. Monty directed them to a cave where he could provide adequate protection against the onslaught. Inside Tammy was tending to Angeline's wounds. Angeline coughed weakly and settled herself down. “You're wasting your time on me.” She groaned. “I can't let you die.” Tammy replied anxiously. Angeline stared levelly at her, “Don't you know? I've been hit by a human hand grenade that's been launched over five plus feet away and by rights I should be dead.” “Don't talk like that.” Tammy admonished gently. “Take a better look at me Doc. Please.” Angeline urged tiredly. After seeing Angeline's pained and exhausted expression, she took a closer look at each of Angeline's wounds. Then she gave her grave verdict to Angeline. “Internal bleeding, broken chest bones, damaged tissue; there's really nothing I can do for you.” Tammy lamented. Angeline smiled thinly and rested her paw gently on Tammy's head. “Then go tell my brother that his sister sends her regrets. And tell him that I love him and tell our parents that I love them too and I am sorry. Ask for their forgiveness...” Angeline gasped as a new wave of pain shot through her being. “Tammy, forgive me. Please forgive me.” she whispered. “I... forgive you.” Tammy replied nervously. “But tell me who your brother is and I swear that I'll try to give him your message.” Angeline smiled weakly as her health faded, “Thomas, Thomas Isaiah Pascali... In... in my locker is m... my belongings. Inside my purse... inside pocket... is a small notebook with a tiny lock... inside... is my last will and... testament. And here...” Angeline slowly pulled out her necklace that had a key attached to the chain. Angeline gently took Tammy’s closest paw and gently pressed the key into her palm. “Use this to open it.” She whispered. Angeline gasped suddenly then she spoke in a hushed tone, “Tammy, face me to the East... P- please.” Slowly Tammy did as she was bidden. Angeline sighed weakly with happiness. “My homeland... at last... At last I am at peace.” Angeline whispered the last two words as her last breath ebbed from her lips. Her head rolled softly against Tammy's arms, her eyes clouded over in death. Gently, Tammy laid Angeline on the ground and softly closed Angeline’s eyes. Tammy quickly wiped away some tears that had flowed from her own eyes and carefully emptied her satchel and used the empty bag to gently cover Angeline's face. Tammy joined Monty's side. “Is she..?” Monty ventured as he fired off a few rounds into the syndicate forces. Tammy silently nodded as she deftly caught a rodent sized grenade and threw it back in one smooth motion. Monty nodded silently and continued to fight. 0101010101010101011010101101010110101010101101010101101010101101010100101011010101110100101101 0101101 Horatio paused under a sagebrush to plan out his next move. He didn't see Chip approach from behind. Then a click broke Horatio's concentration as Chip made himself known; “Paws up Horatio. I got you now.” Horatio grinned slightly and slowly turned to Chip with his paws up. “Know how to catch a rattler before it strikes you?” Horatio asked. Chip tightened his grip on the pistol that he had picked up from the ground seconds ago. In a trice, Horatio neatly flipped the gun from Chip's grasp and now pointed the weapon at Chip. “Now's not the time Chip.” Horatio began. “You'll need to get to Megiddo after you get outta here. That is if you actually get outta here alive.” “So what's your point?” Chip asked sullenly. “Take this carbine and get yourself to your friends. Get the Modemizer and get into Area 51. Once you commandeer the best craft you could get, go to Megiddo. Amadeus would be there to commence the final countdown. Take uttermost caution: He may take hostages and then again he might not. Already he's killed.” Horatio suddenly rattled. His uncovered a secret stash of one rodent sized M-15 carbine with extra clips. “It'll come in great use.” Horatio mentioned. Then he hastily added one final message before leaving; “Do not try to capture me any time before Amadeus dies. He's mine to deal with. Whether the AFBI, ACIA or the APF catch him, he'll be long dead before he'll be on trial.” Chip stepped back when Horatio dropped a tiny vial that emitted a bright flash and white smoke. Blinking to regain his sight, he shook his head in astonishment seeing that Horatio had once again vanished. “I'll still capture you Horatio. Maybe not today but definitely tomorrow.” Chapter 13: One too many war movies 10.21 Chip clawed his way up the hill from the back side. He slid down the hill a bit and made a small jump from boulder to boulder until he was at a cave entrance. He noticed a body with Tammy's satchel covering its face. Hefting the carbine that Horatio awkwardly gave him, Chip selected a boulder to perch and stand watch over the cave entrance. Monty and Tammy arrived. They soon spotted Chip crouching on a boulder. “Ah g'day to ya mate! Any luck catchin' Horatio?” Monty asked as he leaned against Chip's perch. Chip shook his head and dropped down from his perch. “He escaped.” Chip replied dryly. “He escaped?” Tammy asked in surprise. “He ran off and you got yourself a new weapon.” Chip grinned slyly. “Listen guys, I think I found a way to get out of here.” “How's that? We're trapped here loike fish inna barrel.” Monty pointed out. Chip's grin grew to a smile. “Monty;” he said in a mock admonishing tone. “How else did you sneak up on those guards?” Monty thought Chip's words through for a moment and then grinned, “I see where your goin' at this mate. No worries, Oi haven't forgotten the ol' moves.” Chip nodded. “Good. Tammy, take care of the body. Monty, you go and get Gadget and Dale and bring them here. There's a phone not too far away. If we could get there quickly, we'd have about thirty minutes before the syndicate could catch us.” “What'll you be doing?” Tammy asked. Chip picked up a thick stick and a tiny twig and glanced around for string. “I'm making a rouse. This has been used a few times in combat. The attackers would think that we're still here although we're long gone. That's the theory though.” Tammy nodded slowly. “But not until I get Angeline's purse.” she stated firmly. Chip paused tying a twig to a stick. “Angeline's purse? Why?” Tammy sighed as she was piling rocks around Angeline's body. “I promised her that I would get it.” Chip studied Tammy for a moment before making quick mental plan changes. He turned to Monty, “Monty, get Tammy over to where she needs to go, or at least close enough. Tammy, pay close attention to every move Monty makes, you'll need to learn and use his stealthy movements. But first things first.” He found a stalk of yucca and carefully stripped it and used each thin string like material, tied the twig to the stick and rammed the stick into the ground. Then carefully, he put the carbine onto the twig, tied it to the twig. Chip and Monty assisted Tammy during a strange lull from the syndicate side afterward, Monty and Tammy snuck off to the south and cut westward. Tammy went further west and arrived at the warehouses while Monty struck out north. Chip tied the trigger to the stick causing the carbine to fire automatically while he vanished over the hill top. agtctgatcgatcgacgatacgatacgacgcgagtcgatagcatgacgactacgagctatatactcatcggacgatcgatcg RamDale would load and fire the cannon while Gadget aimed. Thus far they've destroyed two of the three cannons and they're dueling with the remaining cannon. To Gadget's frustration, the cannon would fire off a shot then would change location and shoot again. “Ooh, darn those artillery guys.” Gadget muttered under her breath. RamDale turned to Gadget. “We're on our last shell. Once we shoot it, we'll charge them and take no prisoners with this!” he proclaimed waving a broken bit of glass. Gadget was about to make a reply when Monty appeared from behind RamDale. “Monty!” Gadget squeaked in surprise. RamDale turned and in doing so stepped on a small puddle of grease and fell on hard on his head. “Croikey, that was some fall.” Monty commented as he lifted Dale off the pavement. “Aww ma, I don't wanna go to school today.” Dale mumbled sleepily. “Well at least he's alright.” Gadget pointed out. “How's Tammy? Did you guys get Chip?” Monty nodded, “We got Chippah. Tammy is retrieving something and Chip is waitin' for us. Oi'll tell you details whoil we're goin'.” acgactacgactagatatagcgacgctgatgcagtatgactactgactgactgactgatatatagcgcagtatagcgactact 10.32 Gadget, Monty and Dale arrived at the phone booth that Chip had chosen. They found Chip and Tammy waiting for them; Chip was using the phone while Tammy was clutching a black fiber mesh purse with light brown faux leather straps. “Is that a purse Tammy?” Gadget asked. Tammy glanced at Gadget briefly and then turned to Chip. They listened to the conversation. “We need the Modemizer quickly. The syndicate would be upon us anytime soon. Wait... Don't... Aw nuts!” Chip bemoaned to himself. “What's up Chipper?” Tammy asked. “They put me on hold.” Chip groused. “May I?” Gadget offered. Chip stood to one side and motioned for her to continue. Gadget calmly stepped up to the phone and put the receiver to her ear. “Ah Special Agent Kaiser, what a surprise.” Gadget began. “What's this about Nimnul's Modemizer?” Kaiser asked. “We need it to get to Israel.” Gadget replied calmly. “Whatever for?” Kaiser asked. “Well technically speaking, we need it to get to our HQ now that our craft is destroyed and there are others at our HQ that could help in our new mission, and lastly we need it to get into Area 51.” “You want to get into Area 51?! Are you insane?” Kaiser cried out into the phone. Gadget looked disapprovingly at the phone as she replied in an admonishing tone, “I'm not insane, I'm a Rescue Ranger. There is a difference.” “And what difference would that be?” Kaiser asked. “Our plans usually work.” Gadget replied calmly. “Now about the Modemizer?” Kaiser was heard mumbling to himself as he ordered some creatures at the AFBI HQ to find the relic. “Hang on a tick, we'll send it to you.” Kaiser grumbled reluctantly. Gadget smiled warmly as she responded in a sing song voice. “Thank you.” She stepped back a few paces and turned to Chip. “How's that?” She asked. “Wonderful.” Chip breathed in awe. In a few seconds, the phone rang and the receiver lifted itself from the phone's main body and positioned itself above an area and then the Modemizer appeared. Gadget held up a claw and studied the contraption by opening a panel and thoroughly studied the inside circuitry and double checked the wire connections. “Why are you doing that for?” Tammy asked impatiently, glancing to the nearby hill as the sounds of the syndicate forces grow louder. “I don't know about you Tammy, but I'd like to keep my head where I have it right now thank you.” Gadget responded. “She roight luv.” Monty replied. “The last toime, I 'ad Chip's body while he had moine.” Chip and Dale chuckled at the memory. “It's in good order.” Gadget called from the other side. “Climb in, Tammy could you dial us to the HQ and still hurry in?” Tammy grinned, “If you hold on to this purse then I could.” she replied flexing her claws as Gadget took the purse. In a flash she scaled up the phone pole and quickly dialed the number for the Ranger HQ and skillfully landed beside the Modemizer and slipped inside just as the machine did its job. Chapter 14:Knocking on Heaven's Door. Luna, Foxy, and Tom were trying to figure out how to get to Israel in time. “We could take the Ranger plane.” Foxy suggested. “No! That won't work at all. It's too slow.” Tom pointed out. “Well any ideas?” Luna asked. Tom was about to make a reply when the phone rang. To their surprise, an odd looking device appeared under the phone's receiver. “The Modemizer.” Tom said in surprise. Chip, Dale, Monty, Gadget, and Tammy got out from under the Modemizer. “Hi guys!” Tammy called out. “By the way does anyone know who Tom Pascali is?” Tammy asked. Luna and Foxy instantly pointed to Tom as he replied. “That's me.” Tammy handed him the purse. “Here. It was your sister's. Angeline, does that name sound familiar to you?” Tom nodded his head, “It does. She is indeed my sister. That could wait until we're done with the Apocalypse.” Tammy stared at Tom for a brief moment. Foxy was studying the Modemizer when her ear twitched at a sound. She concentrated on the sound trying to interpret the approximate size of the object. Seconds later, the door opened and Zipper droned inside. 1 “Zippah!” Monty cried jovially. “How've you been ye ol’ grub digger ?” 'Around.' Zipper buzzed nonchalantly. 'the doctors kept me under observation until they thought I was well enough to leave.' 1 In accordance to Australian Slang; the word bastard also means friend, pal, matey, etc. Pending on the way it's intended use may determine the definition. It's the use that makes the word. One must be cautious when using chameleon terminology. He took a moment and noticed Monty's dust covered haggard appearance. 'Did I miss something?' he pantomimed. “You missed tons.” Tom replied as he hurried everyone. “We need to disarm the super weapon as soon as we possibly can. Let's get the Modemizer connected and get into Area 51.” “Wouldn't it be easier for us to get to Megiddo by calling the place the weapon is stored?” Foxy asked. Tom shook his head. “There are no phones inside the containment area.” “And how'd you know that?” Luna asked cynically. Tom paused, “My sister. When I found her, she was half drunk and was resisting arrest from the APF. Eventually I got permission to interrogate her. It was then she told me of Apocalypse. Until today, I got information from her. But now, we must get there in time.” “What kind of timer does it have?” Gadget asked. “Dunno. We never got to that part.” Tom admitted agitatedly. “So what if we were in that 'top secret base' when it goes off?” Tammy asked. “The more reason we should go now.” Foxy pointed out. “Rescue Rangahs...” Monty called out, “AWAY!!!!” Tom watched awkwardly as the Rangers dashed to the Modemizer. He turned to Luna, “Do they always do this?” he asked. Luna grinned and nodded somewhat embarrassingly, “Just go with it.” She replied. The two arrived at the Modemizer and noticed the tight fit. “You sure we could get in?” Luna asked concernedly. “Just get one paw and touch the inside then you should be able to go with us.” Gadget replied mostly to Tom. “Sounds good.” Luna replied. Tom took her arm. “Hold it right there. I can't let you go.” he said sternly. Luna faced him. “And why not?” she asked curiously. Tom could noticed that the situation felt like disarming a live highly sensitive bomb. “Because...you could get hurt.” Tom hazarded a reason. Luna's eyebrows were raised. “Because I could get hurt?” she asked sarcastically. Luna stared at Tom with a slight cock of her head as she continued; “Me get hurt? Ha!” She snorted, “Get hurt my as-” “Eliza Rebecca Hackwrench.” Gadget interrupted sternly. “You better watch what you say around here and he's right. I'm afraid you can't come.” Tom blinked in slight confusion yet the way Luna looked imploringly at Gadget; he kept quiet as the two continued. “I want to help ma.” Luna protested. “Not in your condition.” Gadget persisted. Luna opened her mouth to speak but shut it when Gadget held up a paw. “Listen, with you being pregnant at this stage and the seriousness of the situation could cause harm to you and the cub. Plus we don't even know what'll happen to the unborn cubs if you gone with us through the Modemizer. Now I don't want to argue the point any further.” Gadget replied calmly. “Wait- what?” Tom started holding a paw up and he turned to Luna, “You're p- pregnant?” he asked in surprise. Luna nodded. “Well then by all means you have to stay here then.” Tom said half stunned and irritatedly. “I want to stop that bomb.” Luna persisted agitatedly. Tom took a deep breath and continued, “We have enough here to do the job. Got it?” Luna glared at Tom. “It's settled then,” Tom replied turning to Gadget, “let's go.” Chip approached the group. “Are we going?” he asked anxiously. Gadget and Tom nodded and approached the Modemizer. Gadget and Chip slipped under and Tom laid on the ground, stuck an arm under and placed his paw on the inside. Luna stood a few paws away from the Modemizer nonchalant, stewing with anger. “Zipper, can you still fly?” Chip asked. Zipper gave Chip a look. “Tom, tell Zipper the number.” Chip called out. “As if I knew the number.” Tom answered, standing aways from the Modemizer. “But I do.” Tom and Luna glanced over to the new voice. Special Agent Kaiser was inside. “When you asked for the Modemizer and told me the urgency to get to Area 51, I figured that you might need the number.” Tom took his position while Zipper pressed the buttons. After Kaiser gave the number and Zipper flew under and into the Modemizer; the phone began to ring. In the last second, Luna quickly laid on her back and stuck her arm in and got her paw on the machine just as it dematerialized. atacgactacgactgacgtacgatcacgactacgacgcatacgatgcatgcgatacgatgactagcagctagactcggcta Jethro and Amadeus strode down a narrow hallway passing a lone lamp every now and again, giving the hallway a dark mysterious air. Amadeus was fuming with dangerous fury. “Those Rangers. I can't imagine those... those... creatures actually manage to pull a fast one on us.” he said. “Sir, they were helped by Miss Angeline Jones. Alina mentioned to me that Angeline was acting suspiciously.” Jethro replied solidly. “What did she find?” Amadeus asked glancing sideways to Jethro “Apparently sir, that Angeline's last name isn't Jones. It is in fact Pascale.” Jethro answered calmly. They turned a corner and continued passing a sign that said: “Authorized personnel only.” “Pascali... Pascali... No relations to the late Thomas Pascali I hope.” Amadeus said as he stopped at a wall. As he punched removed a panel and typed in his password, Jethro answered his question. “His sister. And sir, from what we found out from our mole that he has a pregnant girlfriend.” Amadeus froze instantly with a claw hanging above the last key. He turned his head slowly. “A pregnant girlfriend eh? Pray then Jethro, who is she and where could we find her?” he asked with a poker face. Jethro dug into his coat pocket and turned through the pages carefully until he found the page he was looking for. “Ah here it is. Her birth name is Eliza Rebecca Hackwrench; daughter to the Rescue Ranger Gadget Hackwrench. The Father is unknown.” Amadeus's face broke into a smile and a sly chuckle emitted from the Cheshire Cat smile he pressed the last key and the wall opened to reveal an odd device. The thing was pearly white with a light blue glow from within. It was the shape of a slender egg, narrow at the top and broad at the base. The door at the front had a light blue colored glass window and the latch for the door was shaped like a car door handle. Jethro gazed at the object with slight awe. “What is this sir?” he asked. “This my faithful lieutenant, is the Digitizer. Similar model to the legendary Modemizer built by professor Norton Nimnul; but what I did is I took the design and modified it to a more convenient way for travel. Less bulky and it's rather built like a phone booth for rodentia and other small animals. This is after all the digital age.” Amadeus replied as he opened the machine's door and stepped inside. He turned and made another comment. “There is room for one passenger luckily. Anyways you Jethro, go find this Eliza and capture her. Alive if reasonably practical.” Jethro nodded; Amadeus shut the door and dialed in a number from a small dialing pad inside. acgtcgcgcgatgagatcagatgacggactacgataggtagctgacgactataccgcgcataacgcagatacgatacgcat 10.32, Area 51, Warehouse 17 Warehouse 17 was dark and shadowy. On the north wall a red phone rang and the receiver lifted itself off the hook and settled inches off of the cold concrete floor. A strange object materialized from the receiver with two mice outside. Tom got his arm out and approached Luna angrily. "Che nel nome di Jefferson Davis lei pensa lei fa?" He snapped angrily. What in the name of Jefferson Davis do you think you're doing? "Che somiglia a faccio"? Luna retorted sourly. "Sono qui di aiutarla individui." What does it look like I'm doing? - I'm here to help you guys. Tom groaned and placed his palms on his eyes and then rubbed his temples as he gave Luna a piece of his mind. "Lei non lo prende? Lei POTREBBE ESSERE UCCISO"! He hissed. Don't you get it? You could get KILLED! "Non do un gregge volante di esso." Luna shot back "Io il genere di l'ha perso quella notte. Io l'ain' t andare la perde questo tempo ed andrei piuttosto con lei se potrei." I don't give a flying flock about it. - I almost lost you that night and I ain't gonna lose you now. The Rangers got out of the Modemizer. Gadget lowered her head and shook it disappointingly as the others watched Tom and Luna glare lethally at each other. Tom took a step close to Luna, "Prende ora questo attraverso il suo teschio spesso; lei va prende sotto quel congegno e va alla casa." He muttered angrily. Now get this through your thick skull, get under that machine and go home. Quietly Luna padded up to the phone, turned to the others; she ceremoniously redialed the number of the Ranger Headquarters in a silent act of defiance. The Modemizer sucked itself back into the receiver on its way to the Ranger HQ. “What language were they arguing in?” Tammy whispered to Monty. During the tense lull between Luna and Tom. Monty shrugged, “Italian. Don't stick yer bib in it.” “Ah.” Tammy replied nodding somewhat understandingly. Tom bit his lip and tried to stay calm, keeping himself from lunging and wringing Luna's throat. Chip strode up to Luna. “Now listen closely Eliza, Luna, whatever.” he began firmly, “This mission is not like the heist back at Fat Cat's. That's why they want you back at HQ. Now that you've sent the Modemizer back we have to do something with you. Now once we find a craft to get us to Megiddo, you're gonna remain with that craft and keep an eye on it until we get back from disarming the weapon; do you understand?” He said his voice low and stern. Luna was about to protest but the look on Chip's face told her that it was not a good idea. Instead, she lowered her head and nodded silently. Her ears drooped slightly. Chip turned and adjusted his fedora as he surveyed the scene the canyons of wooden crates, the odd lit lamp, no windows and a wide door at the end. “Is this it Tom?” he asked. “Yes it is. Now a way to get out of here.” Tom muttered moodily. “How about a UFO?” Dale suggested. “Great idea Dale!” Gadget exclaimed. “Except I don't know how to fly any.” she added sheepishly. Dale padded some ways away followed by Foxglove as the others were thinking of alternate solutions. “What're you up to cutie?” she asked. Dale paused as he noticed a particular UFO. “Say Foxy, remember that movie where the Aliens attacked Earth and then we struck back sometime in July?” Foxy nodded as she followed Dale's gaze. Tammy noticed Dale and Foxy's absence and found them a ways from the group. She broke from the group and joined the bat and 'munk. “What's up?” She asked. Dale just smiled and pointed. Tammy turned and saw the object that Dale was pointing at. She half turned to the group without taking her eyes off of the craft. The UFO was shaped like an almond about eight feet wide and ten feet long, at its peak, it is six feet tall in height; dull dark gray in color, sleek and streamlined in design. Yet connected to the ground with anchors for security. “How about this?” she called standing with a combination of cocky and adventurous attitude. The rest of the group joined the trio and were struck with amazement. “I didn't know that those things were real.” Luna said in amazement. “I’ve seen that movie!” Gadget cried out excitedly. “It's the one with those levers isn't it?” Chip turned to Gadget “That was in the movies though. It may not be the same in real life.” Monty provided a simple solution; “There's one way to foind out, mate.” Chip returned to the craft and sighed. “I guess there is one way.” **0 The group scaled the anchors and located the hatch on the top of the craft and entered by way of strings attached to used triple hook fish hooks. Gadget and Dale were the first to enter. “It IS like in the movies! IT REALLY IS!” they both shouted jovially, hugging each other and dancing a tiny dance in excitement. Monty Tom and Zipper entered. “Croikey. You sure you could fly this Gadget luv?” he asked nervously. Gadget turned to him with a wide grin on her face, “Gee Monty, after I study the flight controls a bit, I could be able to fly this out of here with absolutely no problems.” Monty shuddered slightly. Chip, Tammy, Foxy and Luna slid down the strings and dislodged the grappling hooks from the edge of the hatch. Gadget studied the front panel intensely until Dale spotted a large red button on a yellow box resting on the dash. “Whatcha looking for Gadget?” he asked. “I'm looking for something to remove the anchors.” She replied absently as she spread her search further into the craft's interior. The interior was really similar to a cockpit; unusual shaped seats, the flight controls looked like aircraft yokes, the dash covered with buttons that had unusual markings on the faces of the buttons, and the floor was chrome colored. “What about this?” Dale asked as he leaned against the button, before anyone could say anything, a loud bang rang throughout the warehouse, Zipper flew out and returned. 'The anchors are off!' he buzzed. “Now to start this thing.” Gadget mused aloud. She snapped her fingers, “Push the levers!” She dashed up to one of the yokes and gave it a gentle push. The craft whirred alive and the interior lights ignited. The upper hatch slammed itself shut and sealed the rangers within. “Monty, take the other yoke.” Gadget spoke calmly. “And push forward.” **& Outside, alarms rang off and security guards rushed into Warehouse 17 to investigate the cause of the alarms. As they neared the area where the UFO is hovering, the guards heard a loud crash behind the warehouse. They hurried over to investigate. *&* “Oops.” Gadget remarked embarrassingly. “Try backward.” the others replied. “Right. Hang on to your goggles!” Gadget said firmly. She nodded to Monty, together they pulled the yokes back, causing the craft to shoot forward and penetrate the warehouse doors with ease. Thinking alike as pilots, they choreographed a barrel roll. “We gotta take this back with us to HQ.” Gadget proclaimed excitedly. Everyone else had to hurry and grab something as the craft rolled. “Oi could hardly wait.” Monty muttered as Gadget and Dale giggled gleefully. TGCAGCATCGACTACGACTACGACGTACGACTACGACTGATACGACTACGACTACGATGACGACTCA TGATACAGACTA Megiddo, Israel. 17.45 Israeli time The Mediterranean sun was setting to the west as the UFO cruised 10,000 feet above the ground. 'Cloaking... Cloaking... Cloaking...' Dale mumbled to himself as he searched the dashboard for a good candidate. Earlier in the ten second trip, Chip had seen a clipboard with paper on it whiz past his head. Having rediscovered the document, Chip had discovered that some lab assistant had mistakenly left it inside the craft. After reading it over, he called up to Dale. “Look for the button six buttons forward from Monty's yoke.” He called up. Dale hurried to Monty's yoke and counted six buttons forward and pressed the button. The machine made an eerie whir and then fell deathly silent. Tammy and Foxy were trying to open the hatch with the assistance of Zipper to no luck. Luna and Tom were studying the upper hatch for a probable solution and called each idea up to the three Rangers. Gadget called up to Dale, “Do you see a good landing spot?” Dale stood up and stepped on a button. At the front, panels slid apart to reveal a windshield. Dale turned and looked around. “Er, just on the East side of the hill.” Dale mentioned pressing closer to the window. “Wowie zowie, we're really invisible. Heh, and really high.” The hatch opening group instantly stopped their efforts. Gadget turned to Monty who shrugged. “Let's land this bird.” he suggested. Gadget nodded silently and together, she and Monty carefully landed the craft on the east side of the hill Megiddo. They put the yokes in the center. To their surprise, the craft hissed silently.. Hearing the closeness of the ground Zipper, Tammy, and Foxy tried the hatch again. As the ship hissed, the hatched opened, causing the three to fly out. Tammy rolled off the craft and onto the ground giggling as Foxy landed next to her. “Are you okay?” she asked. “I'm fine.” Tammy giggled assuredly. Zipper turned the treble hooks around from the bent hooks and used one of the better hooks to assist the other rangers out of the craft. Chip jumped from the craft and faced the group. “Monty, you and Zipper wait here and keep an eye on the craft. Tom, do you know how to get inside wherever the Apocalypse is held?” Tom stepped a few paces from the group and surveyed scene. He spotted a small boulder that was shaped out of the ordinary. “There. That's the entrance.” he replied. Chip nodded and followed Tom to the boulder. Tom studied the rock and gave it a light push. The rock opened to reveal a neat tunnel. The tunnel was dirt five rodent feet inside. Then dull steel walls, floor and ceiling continued from there. Every four sections was a light, the dull lighting gave the rangers shivers. Tom however stood nonchalantly and stared inside. Chip turned to the group, he gave Luna a look that sent her padding back up to the hatch. Then he turned to Dale, “Dale, I need you to stay here with Luna. Just in case.” Dale blinked. “Why Chip? I mean what about the bomb thingy?” Chip tugged at his fedora, “Because you and Gadget both know how to run that craft. If both of you went inside and something happened to the both of you, then the rest of us have to find other means to get out of here.” “That and you also want to spend more time with Gadget?” Dale asked. “Now's not the time for that.” Tom interrupted, “Gadget and I know enough to handle the explosive. So she's needed for her expertise with electrical.” Dale sighed and turned to the UFO. As he climbed to the hatch, he muttered something about not getting to go. Tom turned to Chip; “Let's go.” he muttered. Chip nodded cautiously. The rangers proceeded to head down the hallway. “I can't believe I'm gonna be a father.” Tom muttered under his breath as the outside light grew dimmer. “Hmm?” Chip grunted softly turning to Tom. “Erm, nothing.” Tom said quickly. The rangers progressed further into the hall quiet and tense for action. After five minutes, they came to a 'T' intersection. Tom glanced up and down both directions. “Well this is unexpected.” Tom whispered. “Now what?” Tammy asked. Chip glanced up and down the hallways as well. He turned to the group. “We'll split up.” he said officially. “Tom, you take Tammy, Foxy and Zipper and go down... the left hall. Monty, Gadget and I would go to the right.” Tom nodded. “Will do.” Chip nodded and motioned for his group to follow him. Tom just nodded for the others to come along. - **** * *- -*-* --- *-* -* -*-* *- **-* * *-* **- *-** * *** Luna perched on the dash of the UFO watching Dale bounce a small bouncy ball from off the seat causing a small ba bunk sound. She rolled her eyes and folded her arms in annoyance. To her surprise, she noticed something sticking out of Dale's shirt pocket. Casually she lightly skipped down from the dash and strolled past Dale casually. Luna picked up the clipboard from the ground where Chip had dropped it and settled during the barrel roll. She made sure that the clipboard was betwixt her and Dale and then she studied the object she had neatly pick pocketed from Dale. To her surprise it was a chocolate bar. She glanced around the clipboard and watched Dale bounce his ball moodily. When she returned to the clip board, her eyes settled on a note about a force field like cage. After reading its location, she glanced to the spot and then to Dale and then back to the spot with a sly grin on her face. Further reading told her that a nearby button on one of the walls was used for such a cage. Luna instantly formed a plan in her mind. Grinning, she gently pushed the button and watched as a transparent blue wall appeared. She poked it with a claw, feeling it as being firm like a wall. She pressed the button again and the field disappeared. She glanced nervously to Dale who paused his ball bouncing. “Did ya hear something?” Dale asked half turning to Luna. Luna shrugged. “Dunno, must be the craft switching to... um... a battery to keep the cloaking device powered while the main engine is off line.” she suggested. Dale nodded at the thought then continued bouncing his ball. Luna opened the candy bar and slid it into position exactly. The power that the chocolate bar had on Dale surprised Luna when Dale stiffened and then whirled around and was on top of the bar wolfing it down hastily. Luna hurriedly pressed the button, activating the force field and turned to watch Dale. Dale noticed a sudden blue wall appearing around him, “Hey! What's the big idea?” he asked. He turned to find Luna standing outside the wall. “What did you do?” he asked in surprise. Luna shrugged. Dale stood and was about to stomp over to Luna when a memory struck him. Dale carefully placed a paw on the wall and gently leaned against it. Seeing that the field kept his paw inside, he glanced up to Luna who now was grinning. She waved with a mischievous grin on her face as she turned and went to the rope that still hung on the hatch. “How'd you get the chocolate?!” Dale demanded. “And why'd you put me in here?” Luna grabbed a hold of the rope, “Dale, there's one thing about me you didn't know; I was raised by the cat burglar Horatio. Ta-ta.” She said sweetly, then she climbed the string leaving an angry chipmunk clawing around the floor to try to escape. - **** * *- -*-* --- *-* -* -*-* *- **-* * *-* **- *-** * *** Tom, Zipper, Foxy and Tammy strolled cautiously down the right hallway. Painted signs written in a strange language dotted the walls every five feet or so. The lights still gave the hallway an eerie feeling. Tammy paused when she noticed a picture of a figure hauling a giant pocket watch across a sandy beach. Shrugging she turned and continued to follow the others. The hallway becoming more and more like a business hallway in a New York cooperate building. There were randomly painted doors on the walls, fooling them. With the white ceiling, white walls, framed pictures and light grey carpet made things more uncomfortable. - The left hall- Chip, Monty and Gadget approached a solid steel door. There was a keypad at the front and oddly the door was still ajar. Gadget carefully examined the door in case of booby traps and other harmful things. Satisfied, Gadget reported that the door was safe. Monty pulled the door open. Gadget and Chip entered. The timer read: 5hrs. 16 min. 31sec. 92ms. The size of the gargantuan explosive was intimidating. “Too ra-loo.” Monty exclaimed quietly. “Golly.” Gadget whispered as her eyes widened at the sight. Chip gulped nervously and turned to Gadget, “Well could you stop it?” he asked. Monty turned to them as Gadget thought it over. He glanced back to the timer and suddenly gasped. “Bettah hurry mates. We've got fifteen minutes till this thing goes.” He calmly stated. Gadget and Chip turned and to their surprise, the timer confirmed Monty's observation. They indeed have fifteen minutes and counting. - **** * *- -*-* --- *-* -* -*-* *- **-* * *-* **- *-** * *** Fifteen yards away, a tan colored rodent laptop attached to a similar sized projector pointed to a particular spot only two feet away. Suddenly the laptop whirred alive and the projector lit up as the Digitizer materialized. Amadeus strolled out, checking his large pistol. After a few feet of traveling on foot, he noticed that someone was inside the lair of death. His eyes narrowed at the freshest set of prints, he looked up in time to see Luna's tail disappear around a corner. Smiling to himself, he followed the tail quietly and quickly. $%^((*Y& Luna spotted the Tammy, Foxy, Zipper and Tom. “Hiya guys!” She whispered loudly. Foxy turned to her as did the others. Tom was about to say something to Luna when Amadeus grabbed Luna's arm and twisted it viciously behind her back and held a large pistol to her neck, just under her left jaw. “Don't make a sudden move or I'll blow her head off.” He growled. Tom's breath froze on his lips at seeing his only love held against her will. “You there.” Amadeus said nodding to Tammy, “Use that medical tape you have there in that bag you got and tape their paws and the fly's wings and make sure that they don't move.” he ordered. Tammy's paw strayed to the satchel when Tom's paw halted it. She glanced to Tom, his eyes firm on Amadeus while his other paw reached behind his back. Tom pulled out another pistol and aimed at Amadeus. “Let her go Amadeus. We got other rangers behind you, you're surrounded.” He called over calmly. “Not while I have a hostage.” Amadeus countered. “Or should I say hostages.” Tom's eyes narrowed as he calmed himself and aimed carefully. “Surrender yourself now Amadeus. It's all over now.” He replied. “Not by a long chalk it ain't.” Amadeus argued. Behind Amadeus, lurking in the shadows, a figure watched the action. Seeing Luna in the paws of Amadeus, the shadow's eyes narrowed. “Fine then.” Tom simply stated, he pulled his trigger, the projectile struck Luna in her mid-thigh. She cried out painfully as the object penetrated her jeans and through her flesh. The shadow's eyes widened at the cry from Luna. Amadeus glared at Tom. He pointed his pistol at Tom and fired while he let Luna drop to the floor. A loud Bang erupted from Amadeus's pistol, the slug slammed into Tom's chest; throwing him back a few inches before falling to the ground with a large hole in his chest. Luna's eyes went wide with shock as she cried out worriedly, “Tom! Get up! C'mon Tom!” Zipper charged Amadeus. Who flipped his gun and batted the brave fly aside. Foxy muttered something unintelligible while Tammy rushed to Tom's side. Amadeus pointed his gun to Tammy. Tammy found herself staring down the bore of the pistol and winced when she saw him pull the trigger. A click was heard and a curse word from Amadeus told her that the gun had jammed. Foxy was about to move in when Amadeus quickly unjammed the gun and aimed at Foxy, to their surprise, Horatio came from nowhere. Horatio rushed silently up behind Amadeus and slammed his bowie knife deep into Amadeus's back and twisted his blade. Amadeus ground his teeth as Horatio leaned close to his ear and whispered softly; “Sic Semper Tyrannis.” “Et tu Horatio?” Amadeus moaned as his eyes clouded over and his body collapsed onto the ground. Horatio tugged his knife from the corpses back and cleaned it with a spare rag from his pocket. “Better hurry and stabilize the guy.” Horatio replied nodding over to Tom. Foxy and Tammy hurried to stabilize Tom while Horatio turned to Luna. “You alright?” he asked. Suddenly, despite her wound, Luna grabbed Horatio's throat. “The night that you supposedly killed by boyfriend, I vowed that I'll kill you. You burned down my house, you almost killed me; now it's your turn.” She growled. Zipper came to in time to notice Horatio grasping Luna's wrist as she tightened her grip while Horatio tried to tell her something. After quickly checking his wings and himself, he launched himself at Luna's nose. Luna squeaked in surprise when Zipper smacked her nose and then bit her left wrist. Luna released Horatio and grabbed her wrist. Zipper hovered a few feet from her. 'What were you trying to do? Killing another creature?' he buzzed. “You don't understand!” Luna snapped angrily at Zipper. 'What I don't understand is why a girl like you stooping down to the same level as that mad beast there?' he pantomimed, motioning to the body of Amadeus. “He almost killed Dale, he killed Tom's colleague, he almost killed me!” Luna argued. “So?” Luna turned to Foxy who spoke while she was crouching beside Tom. “He may killed others, but killing him isn't justice.” Foxy replied calmly. “You don't know what I went through.” Luna pointed out. 'No we don't,' Zipper motioned, 'but what I do know that he was seeing if you, his daughter, was alright.' “He's right.” Horatio croaked as he leaned against the wall. “But now's not the time. Your boyfriend is gonna die if we stay here jawin about who did what and the meaning of justice. Two of you help carry that guy outta here, I'll carry my daughter here. Let's move it!” “Wait first.” Foxy added hurriedly, “He's bleeding really bad. I know a spell that could stop it only for a small while.” Foxy held her wings above the bloody wound of Tom's body. “” Foxy said. Tiny glistening lights, like faeries, trickled down from the tips of Foxy's wingtips. 2 The blood began to re enter the blood vessels, arteries, and his superior vena cava as the damaged organs began to piece themselves together. The flesh remained open as the glistening lights piece themselves into a cover for the wound. “Then let's get him the heck outta here.” Horatio shot as he lifted Luna onto his back. 41( |<, 40( |<, 41( |<, 40( |< Gadget analyzed the explosive. After a few moments she gave her verdict. “Nuclear. And by the looks of it there are several tons of the explosives here.” She stated flatly. Gadget dug into a pocket and pulled out wire clippers, and a small screwdriver set. “H- how does this thing actually work luv?” Monty stuttered nervously keeping his eyes on the timer. As Gadget quickly dug through the circuits, hatches and preliminary switches she explained the explosive. “With this amount of nuclear explosives here the power of this explosion would equal in power to the blast of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.” Chip whimpered slightly at the thought of the devastation. 2 The superior vena cava is a major blood line that links to the heart and supplies the upper part of the body. “Aw bolts! Every wire here is red!” Gadget cried out angrily. Chip glanced to the timer, it read 00hrs. 14min. 55sec. 77milsec. “Do you think that you could still disarm this?” he asked. “I sure can.” Gadget grunted as she put more force to the screwdriver. “Ten minutes.” Monty called over. Chip took another look. The timer for him put him at thirteen minutes while to Monty it must've told him ten. Unsure of the time he turned back to Gadget. “Chip, help me with this panel please.” Gadget said as she finished unscrewing the main panel. Chip came over and gently assisted Gadget removing the panel. She stopped him after a few centimeters gap. She peered inside. “Chip, quickly find the light switch and shut off the lights. There is a photoelectric trigger in here.” “Try this.” Chip suggested while he took off his leather jacket. “Good, but do it carefully, there is also a mercury bead trigger.” Gadget warned. Chip crumpled his jacket and gingerly held his jacket like a duck blind, the shadow cast a shadow fell upon the opening like angel’s wings; while she reached in with her wire clippers and clipped the photovoltaic trigger. “Alright Chip, it's safe to remove the panel.” Gadget said. Chip took the panel and carefully laid it beside him. Gadget clipped the mercury bead trigger and then clipped a cellular phone trigger. She also carefully clipped several wires that led to a battery. She noticed an unusual trigger. After studying it, she noticed that she has to keep power going. She soon found the right wire to disarm the trigger. “Ten seconds left!” Monty cried out nervously. “Thanks Monty.” Gadget said with a concentrated voice. As Monty counted down the seconds and bracing himself for an explosion, Gadget raced to find the wire from the timer trigger. At last she found it and clipped it. “How'd I do?” She asked. Chip glanced to the timer. His eyes widened and he started to chuckle. “You gotta see this Gadge.” he whispered. Gadget leaned from the bomb and looked at the timer. 00Hrs. 00Min.. 00Sec. 01Milisec. Gadget plopped onto the ground while Chip began to laugh with relief. Monty stared at the timer for a while then began to laugh alongside Chip. “We did it!” He said between laughter. “We did it Gadget!” Chip cried out victoriously, “WE DID IT!!” Chip lifted Gadget from the floor and danced away from the bomb. “WE DID IT!!! WE STOPPED THE BOMB!” Gadget cried out. She absently grabbed Chip and hugged him jovially. Chip suddenly dipped Gadget and planted a kiss on her lips and hugged her close. “It's a miracle!” He whispered. “I- it is Chip.” Gadget answered after finding her voice. Monty clapped Chip heartily on the back and put an arm around Gadget's shoulders, “Let's go get the othahs.” Monty suggested merrily. - **** * *- -*-* --- *-* -* -*-* *- **-* * *-* **- *-** * *** Monty, Chip, and Gadget arrived at the intersection just as the others. Horatio was carrying Luna soldier style on his back while Tammy and Foxy had to use a door as a makeshift stretcher to carry a critically- near mortally wounded Tom. Luna was sobbing on her father's back. “What happened?” Gadget asked in shock. “Tom got shot by Amadeus.” Tammy hastily reported as Chip and Monty assisted them with the stretcher. “What about the bomb?” Foxy asked. “We got it disarmed.” Gadget answered officially. “Swell.” Horatio grunted. “What happened to Amadeus?” Chip asked. “I killed the vile scum.” Horatio spat. “Where's Dale then?” Monty asked. 'Dunno.' Zipper buzzed. They arrived at the UFO and carefully they lifted Tom to the hatch. Chip and Monty went down first and assisted with lowering Tom down and then secured him to one side and made sure that he wouldn't move during the flight, while the others got down. “Hey! A little help here.” Dale called over to the others. Chip turned to Dale and gawked at the force field. “Don't stand there!” Dale cried out angrily, “Get me outta here!” Gadget turned and hurried over to Dale's side. She found the clipboard and looked at it. After a few seconds of reading it over, she pressed the button on the wall. The force field vanished. Dale hurried out and sought out Luna. He found her next to Tom. She was holding one of his paws and her eyes were closed. Dale was about to say something when Horatio held a claw to his lips. “Let her rest. She'll need it.” he whispered. “Where're we going?” Tammy asked urgently. “To the best hospital I know of.” Horatio replied. “The Vertrauen Small Animal Hospital in Bern, Switzerland. He'll be in good paws.” “How'd you know?” Gadget asked. Horatio turned to her and shrugged. “If anyone knew about the medical history of small animal hospitals. Then you'd know the ISAHO, or International Small Animal Health Organization.” Gadget nodded to Monty and toward the yolks and they gently nudged them to start the craft. Chapter 15:Knock- Knock- Knocking on Heaven's Door. Bern Switzerland The UFO landed in an obscure part of the city. The Rangers plus the wounded and Horatio got out, Monty went to the nearest small animal police unit for help. Tammy and Foxy were trying their best from losing Tom while Gadget and Horatio tried to calm a very distressed Luna. Chip, Dale and Zipper assisted Tammy the best way they could. After five minutes, the six paramedics arrived in three scale models of ambulances. The medics from one ambulance examined Luna's thigh carefully while two others from the others dashed over to Tom. Tammy related to one of the medics (who spoke good English) about the severity of Tom's wound. The medic nodded as the chopper approached the scene. The local police had made a perimeter around the area so the chopper could land safely. Tammy went with the chopper to provide some assistance with the wound. Four of six medics loaded Tom into the chopper while Luna was loaded into an ambulance. Chip had placed handcuffs on Horatio's wrists and was putting one side of the second pair on the right wrist of Horatio. Before Chip could put the other end on himself, Horatio stopped him. “If it's all the same to you sir. I'd prefer Gadget.” Horatio replied calmly. “Why? So you could take her hostage?” Chip questioned cynically. Horatio's face was emotionless as he answered Chip calmly. “Because, Detective, I trust her more than you. I know that if I tried anything, she'd more than capable be able to handle anything I could possibly do.” Chip was hesitant until Gadget put a paw on his shoulder. “It's alright Chip. I can do it.” she said softly. Chip looked at her, “You sure? I mean he's the cat burglar.” Gadget nodded, “I'm fine.” Monty looked a bit disgruntled about the notion. “Gadget, are you sure that you could handcuff yerself to that bloke? Heh, there's no flies on that wanker. Er, no offense Zipper, mate.” Zipper shrugged off the expression. Seeing the blank expressions of Chip and Dale he 'translated'. Which he did, seeing as how Gadget didn't need the 'translation'. Gadget just nodded and cuffed herself so that she stayed with Horatio. During the time, she didn't even look at Horatio once. Foxy glanced to Gadget and then approached Dale, “She seems to be less than enthusiastic about this.” Dale nodded, “Yeah, especially about what he did to her all those years ago.” he muttered. Chip hailed a taxi and motioned for Gadget and Horatio over. “Gadget; you and I are gonna take him to the local police station and kept there until there's an arrangement for his return home and tried. Dale, Monty, Zipper and Foxy would be at the hospital.” “Right Chip.” Gadget said somewhat half heartedly. Watching the others head off in the taxi, Chip nodded for Gadget and Horatio to get into the local police vehicle. Taking the front seat, Chip glanced back at Gadget before turning to the officer and motioned that they were ready. As the car was heading to the Swiss Animal Police station, the car was silent. Horatio cleared his throat quietly. “She's, a bit of an handful isn't she?” Horatio commented nervously to Gadget. “Who?” Gadget asked. “Our daughter.” Horatio answered. “Oh, yes. She is. Got a good arm too. Did you teach her to box?” She asked offhandedly. “Oh no.” Horatio replied shaking his head softly. “She just picked it up I guess.” Gadget nodded as Horatio turned to her, “Why'd you say that?” he asked. “She punched me in the nose a while ago.” Gadget replied, glancing out the window. Horatio kept quiet for a moment. “Why did she do that, if you don't mind me asking.” Horatio said. Gadget sighed at the memory. “When I stayed at her house for a night, she told me that if she met her mother; that was before she found out from one of my colleagues, she would punch her in the nose and then ask her why she gave her up.” Gadget paused for a moment then she turned sharply to Horatio with a penetrating look; “Why didn't you tell her? I'm sure you had all the time in the world to tell her.” Horatio's ears drooped as his demeanor grew depressing. His eyes saddened, his face- grim. Gadget tilted her head a bit, “What's wrong Horatio?” She asked concernedly. “You don't know much I've been regretting that day, that moment.” Horatio spoke, his voice low and hollow. “At first I seethed with revenge, to kill you for sending me to prison. What had changed my mind was the pained expression that was on Eliza's face.” Horatio turned to Gadget, “She had that same expression you had on that day. I couldn't shake that feeling Gadget. I live that memory hundreds of nights, and some of those nights went restless. Each night, each dream is the same- hearing you scream, feeling you hitting me. I could feel you clawing at my flesh, but in my dreams, I bled and the fire of pain consumed my entire body. And then I could feel your heart race, your pain and suffering. Some nights I would wake crying, others I'd wake in the dead of night in cold sweat. “I used to look in the mirror but now- I don't. For every time I see myself I turn away. I returned to crime to get rid of the plagued dreams. Now, I wake in Hades.” Horatio said calmly. A single tear coursing along his cheek. He glanced into Gadget's eyes as he made a comment, “Gadget, I've got one question to ask you.” Gadget mentally braced herself for a probable proposition and readied herself to turn it down. She nodded for him to continue. “Will you ever forgive me?” He asked. Gadget's eyes widened. Chip's ears tuned in. Gadget's mind raced as memories shot through her mind. Her thoughts turned into a serious debate: 'How could I forgive him? What he did to me, he deserves this treatment- but why do I feel sorry for him? He deprived me of a normal teenage years. He took advantage of me and used me to satisfy his sick pleasures. Even my chances at starting close relationships are now not possible for what he did to me! But why do I feel sorry for him?' She studied Horatio's face, each second felt like a day. She noticed his eyes; hollow, fear stricken, yet a glimmer of hope showed through. He looked like a beaten creature, hitting a moral low. She felt her mind scream, 'Say no to this loser! He took advantage of you! Look at all the time that was wasted! Think of how you had to put up being pregnant and cannot enjoy some of the work we used to do together! And you can't start a relationship that close ever again for the fear of being taken advantage of! He should be tortured for the rest of his life for what he did.' while her heart made a reply, 'forgive the wretched creature, he's been through enough already. All he needs now is compassion. And besides, you'd be in a worse position if you don't forgive him. It is said that the greater sin is upon the head of those who don't forgive. You didn't get this second chance in life for no reason. You are a good person, and good creatures do good things.' Finally after a soft sigh, Gadget took Horatio's paw into hers and gazed levelly into Horatio's eyes. She took a deep breath and made her reply, “Horatio, I- I-” She paused, seeing Horatio give her his full attention, Gadget felt as if there were 132.89 trillion butterflies released in her stomach. “I forgive you.” she finally said, overcoming her emotions. Horatio let out a shuddered breath as he felt an extremely heavy burden lift from his shoulders. Tears began to stream along his cheeks. Gadget watched him as he battled internally, trying to forgive himself for his crimes. Chip glanced behind to check to see if everything's alright behind him. He noticed Gadget holding Horatio's paw while he looked emotionally exhausted. At the police station; Chip had the officer check in Horatio while he uncuffed Gadget from Horatio. Gadget massaged her wrist as she glanced wistfully to Horatio. He mouthed 'thank you' as the officer led him to the holding cells. Chip stood next to Gadget. “I'll try to get him to the states.” Chip remarked. Gadget turned and headed to the door, “C'mon Chip, let's get to the hospital.” |\/|3|'|1|\| Chip and Gadget arrived at The Vertrauen Small Animal Hospital close to seven. Monty and Zipper was there to greet them. “Hiya mates. How'd it go with the cat burglar.” he asked. “It went alright.” Chip replied casually. Gadget spoke up, “How's Luna?” “She's fine. It was a quickie of a surgery. Ye oughta be proud of her Gadget luv; she didn't use anesthetics.” Monty said. “What?!” Gadget exclaimed, “Is she crazy?” “The nurses thought so too.” Monty explained. “Then how did she get through the surgery?” Chip asked. Monty grinned apologetically as he held up his left fist. “Apparently the girl's afraid o' the mask that they put on her.” Gadget and Chip exchanged glances before returning to Monty. “Where are the others?” Chip asked. Zipper pointed over his shoulder. The others were dozing on the seats. Foxy was leaning on Dale's shoulder while his head was leaning against his chest. Tammy was somewhat curled as good as she could be in another chair. “How's Tom?” Chip asked, “Is there any updates thus far?” 'It's been a few hours since he went in. Apparently, Foxy's spell lasted until midway through the flight.' Zipper reported. “The gunshot wound was bad. From what I got, ol' Tom's in need of serious medical treatment, maybe even a new heart and lung. Oi dunno what's happenin' now.” Monty added. Gadget nodded as Chip took a seat with the others. “Monty, why don't you and Zipper take a rest.” Gadget suggested. “Chip and I could keep an eye and ear open just in case if anything else happens.” Monty shrugged and he and Zipper sat with the others. Gadget took her seat next to Chip. Chip and Gadget remained quiet for a while. Monty's soft snoring and Zipper's sleep buzzing, mixed with Dale's sleep mumbling. Gadget glanced at the time; 22.45 She sighed and shifted to a more comfortable position. “One less criminal off the streets huh?” She whispered. Chip nodded silently. Gadget glanced at Chip, he was sitting resolutely, staring at a white wall that was across the room. She ventured again for a conversation; “Er, Chip? Do you remember what you said to me that evening before we went to the AFBI?” Chip's head turned slightly as he answered. “Yes. I remember. I told you that I love you.” “Do you still feel the same way about me?” She asked as she turned in the chair tucking her knees under her chin. “I do.” Chip replied softly. “I still do.” Gadget lightly bit her lower lip as she asked, “What is it about me that you like most?” Chip took a deep breath as he explored his thoughts about Gadget. “Well... you're gentle with your machines. You seem to nurture us when we have our problems. You were eager to do anything in any situation we were in. In those days when you were sick- I didn't know how much I cared about you until you left us.” Chip paused to collect himself. Gadget remained silent, watching him study his fedora uncomfortably as he continued. “I wish I told you sooner before you died Gadget. On your funeral, I felt like I was burying my heart.” He turned to Gadget, “Gadget, you were the one thing I look forward to see every morning like the sun rise. You are the sunrise in our days, the light that warms us. The rose among thorns. I love you so much Gadget.” Gadget let her feet touch the floor as she scooted closer to Chip. “Say it again Chip.” She whispered. Chip took her paws in his as he answered her request. “You're the sunrise, the sun that warms us, the rose among thorns, the patron saint among our team. You're my life, my love, my dreams...” He got no further. Gadget leaned close and her lips softly touched his, her arms slowly wrapped themselves around his neck. As their lips parted, Gadget whispered in Chip's ear, “I love you too Chip.” She snuggled close to Chip. “Are you the Rescue Rangers?” A voice asked. Chip and Gadget looked at the voice's owner. It was a thin, medium height white mouse. She was dressed in surgical gown with a hair net still on her head. She had a soft German accent when she spoke. Chip replied, “We are.” The mouse nodded, “Hi, I'm Doctor Schneider, is there someone here who could speak for him?” Gadget and Chip glanced at each other. They glanced back to Dr. Schneider and Gadget answered her question. “Erm, We don't know where his parents are; his girlfriend, my daughter, is recovering from that shot to her thigh... Golly, I dunno. Maybe we should wait until my daughter wakes up.” Dr. Schneider nodded. “Alright. In the mean time, your friend is extremely lucky to be alive with such grievous and lethal internal damage.” She replied as she turned and walked away. Gadget sighed and leaned against Chip. “I don't know about you Chip, but I think we need a vacation. A really long vacation.” Gadget said softly as she stroked Chip's arm. “Yeah I think we could use one right after all this is over.” Chip replied. Then he spoke again this time a bit more concernedly, “But there's one thing that bothers me.” Gadget looked up at Chip, “What's that?” “This syndicate- If they are any good, they might retaliate now that their leader is dead and they might dissolve. Or they're after our blood.” Chip remarked worriedly. “That's true.” Gadget commented, “And that... that squirrel that Luna talked about- if he's any dangerous, he'll find us and probably kill each one or all of us. What'll we do now?” 1+1=1,000 08.00 Wednesday September 8th Mists and shrouds of the amnesia wore off as Luna began to wake up. She found herself laying on a hospital bed. Her head ached from the effects of the anesthetics that were given to her as she was readied for a minor surgical procedure that had removed the bullet that was in her thigh. She carefully placed a paw on the top of her head and groaned and then sudden realization struck her like lightning, she was shot by her own boyfriend! Angrily, she turned in her bed and attempted to stand. Her legs wobbled beneath her and almost gave out. Luna grabbed the side of her bed to stable herself. 'What was he thinking?' she fumed to herself, 'I was held against my will, but shooting me? I'm gonna head butt that jerk and then elbow his gut!' She hobbled over to the door rather clumsily and grabbed the doorknob and opened it. To her surprise, Dr. Schneider was standing right outside the door just about to grab the knob herself. “Ah, Miss Centauri. I'm glad to see that you are up. I was coming to check on your health. Can we go back inside?” she asked. “I want to see that lout Tom Pascali and give him a piece of my mind!” She grumbled darkly. “I'm afraid I cannot allow you to do that.” Dr. Schneider replied coolly. “He's resting right now.” “Oh from what, having a good laugh that he tricked me yet again? Ha! Not on his life he hasn't.” Luna groused. Dr. Schneider's left eyebrow raised in a questioning look. “Did he have a good ride here?” Luna sneered. “He was stabilized on the flight here.” The doctor replied. “Stabilized?” Luna asked cynically, “Don't you folks know fake blood when you see it? Oh wait- you're a part of this act too aren't you?” Dr. Schneider stared sternly into Luna's eyes as she made her answer, “Miss; surely you jest, but try laughing when you have had almost half your heart and one third of your lung blown to bits by the concussion of the bullet that just penetrated your body and blew right out of you. Just giggle with glee when you find out that the main line that delivers blood to your upper body had been tore wide open. “The patient I was referring to and the one you need to vouch for is right now knocking on heaven's door and so fare no one has answered yet. He had over seven surgeries just to keep him alive. How's that for fraudulence?” Luna's face paled and she felt faint. She stumbled onto a chair. “Oh my cod. What have I done?” she whispered to herself. She looked up to Dr. Schneider imploringly; “Would he make it?” She asked. Dr. Schneider shrugged, “I'm sure he'll be alive after he recovers. By rights he should've been dead a long time ago.” Luna turned to her bed and stared at it blankly. Her tough exterior evaporated and something inside burst from a suppressed dungeon. “Oh what have I done?!” Luna cried in anguish as tears burst from her eyes. She put her head deep in her paws and shook with grief as she repeatedly accused herself. “It's my fault! It's... my... own... flipping... fault! Why did I ever leave that craft? Why? Why?! Oh why oh why oh why?” she sobbed. Schneider blinked and then softly shut the door and went to find the Rangers. Leaving behind, a wretched creature fighting tooth and claw with a shadow of self hatred. 09.32 Monday September 13th. Tom woke, finding tubes attached to his chest. There was a nurse standing nearby with a clipboard checking his signs and then checking the machines. The nurse glanced toward him. “You are awake. That's good.” The nurse took note then continued. “How are you?” “Ow.” Tom croaked miserably. The nurse wrote that down “Are you comfortable?” he asked. “I guess.” Tom replied softly. The nurse nodded and wrote down Tom's reply. “I'll be right back.” The nurse said and then he exited. --- “Miss Centauri?” Luna glanced up to face a male vole in a nurse's uniform. “Yes?” she finally managed to say. “Your friend is awake.” The nurse stated. “You can see him, but only for five minutes, he needs his sleep.” Luna nodded and watched the nurse walk off to turn in the clipboard. Closing her eyes, she replayed the day when she first arrived, reflected the morning. She remembered him speaking to someone behind her. Then she watched him bring his weapon to face her. She noticed the look in his eyes; concentrated yet fearful at the same time. But mostly concentrated. Then the noise and flash of his weapon discharging and the feeling of something biting her thigh. She gripped the armrest of the chair tightly and screwed her eyes for a few seconds then reopened them. She stood and angrily marched right into Tom's room. The scene before her took her completely by surprise. Here he lay with hoses from heart pacemaker and a lung pump snaking across his shoulder and disappear under gauze. Her legs again wobbled as she gulped nervously. She watched him blink owlishly. “H- hey.” he said weakly. “er- em...” Luna said awkwardly shifting from one leg to the other. Tom glanced at Luna's small protruding middle. “It's coming.” he said. “Why'd you do it?” Luna asked softly. “Huh?” Tom cocked his head only slightly “W- why di- did you shoot me?” She asked awkwardly. Tom remained silent. Luna watched him try to take a deep breath. Then he let out a sigh. “Luna; I was taught that in certain hostage situations, I could shoot the hostage for the sake of saving their lives. It usually follows after I've assured myself that he had neither a bomb strapped to himself or-” Tom paused, squinting and blinking tiredly. “Dang medications; now I had to assure myself that you were in less danger if I shot you. The goal was to wound you so I could either get a shot at him or capture him by tackling. I did- didn't know he could sling a gun so... quickly.” Tom said tiredly. “I shot you to save you, and our baby. I didn't want that to ever happen.” Luna stared at Tom for sometime. Tom struggled to keep awake but the medication was utmost persistent. After a few minutes of silence, the medications soon overtook Tom and gently sent him into deep slumber. Luna turned and started to walk away. She paused and glanced back to Tom. She sighed- She felt her heart torn asunder. One wanted him, the other, wanting her baby safe from finding out that its father will not return home. She left the room, her mind a terrible war betwixt her emotions. Chapter 16: Still life A slumber did my spirit seal; I had no human fears: She seemed a thing that could not feel the touch of earthly years. No motion has she now, no force; She neither hears nor sees; Rolled round in earth's diurnal course, with rocks, and stones, and trees. - “A slumber did my spirit seal”, by William Wordsworth. Bern Switzerland- Monday October 11th 07.28 Gadget had watched the deterioration of her daughter's emotions. Last month when Tom fell into a mild coma, Monty and Tammy donated their blood to keep Tom alive. He came to three days later. Through a modern miracle, Gadget contacted an old friend who was available and willing to clone Tom's heart and Lung. Within the next month, the organs were ready for transplant and the operation was a success. However, during the entire time; Luna was scarcely seen anywhere near the floor where Tom was at. Sometimes, she was heard crying throughout the night. Yet Tom remained in the hospital for observation. Bern Switzerland- Saturday November 13th 07.28 Luna was staring out a window in her room when a pain shot through her. With sudden urgency Luna hurried into the restroom that was down the hall. Gadget and the other Rescue Rangers were returning from a ski trip, as soon as they saw Luna hurry in their direction, they stepped aside. Zipper caught a unique scent. 'Maybe we should ready the rental car.' he suggested. Dale glanced to Zipper, “Why?” He asked. As if on cue, Luna shouted as she out staggered of the restroom and into the hallway, “MA!” Gadget turned and noticed the look on Luna's face. “Monty, get that rental ready and quick. We gotta get Luna to the hospital and quick!” Gadget barked out smartly. Monty nodded and dashed while Gadget dashed to Luna's side. “Need help?” Chip asked somewhat concernedly. Gadget shook her head. “No thanks. I've got it.” $%$ After having to take an alternate road that led to another hospital; Gadget and Monty assisted Luna from their rental RC car. Monty helped Luna to the doors while Gadget ran inside for help. Two personnel from the hospital with a nurse came out with a wheelchair. They got Luna into the chair and rushed her into the delivery room. :D Monty and Gadget waited patiently as the hours ticked by. Monty was twiddling his claws while Gadget counted the cream colored ceiling tiles for the sixth time. The hall was white marble and was polished to mirror the rosy pink walls. 12.12 At last a doctor appeared from the delivery room. Gadget and Monty stood. “Miss Hackwrench?” the doctor asked. “That's me.” Gadget answered eagerly. “Congratulations, you're a proud grandmother of fraternal twins. The mother and children are doing fine.” The doctor reported happily. Gadget became flustered. “G- golly. I'm a grandmother now.” She said with shock. “Boy do Oi feel old.” Monty replied merrily as he nudged Gadget playfully. “Congrats on the news luv.” “I don't know what to do now.” Gadget rattled off, “Maybe I should go see her, or maybe I should tell the others. Or I could tell the others while I see Luna. Then again the others could come and see for themselves. Or maybe...” “Maybe Oi should tell the othahs.” Monty said interrupting Gadget's rant. “That too. Golly. I never thought I'd be able to see this day.” She said. Then her face fell and her ears drooped slightly. “What about Horatio?” She asked. Monty remained silent. “Get the others Monty, I'll worry about Horatio.” Gadget muttered. She turned to the doctor, “Is my daughter awake?” She asked. “She is ma'am you could see her, but she's a bit tired.” “Thanks.” Gadget answered calmly. After glancing to Monty, she entered the room. Luna lay on a bed tiredly. She turned and noticed Gadget entering the room. “Hey ma. You're a granny now. How about that?” she said. Gadget grinned, “Yeah, how about that.” Gadget sighed and smiled happily, “I can't wait to see my grandmice.” Luna smiled. A senior nurse came in, holding two bundles of beautiful baby mice within warm fuzzy baby blankets. One was pink and the other blue. “Here you go ma'am.” The nurse replied as she carefully bent to allow Luna to see her newborns. “Can I hold one?” Gadget asked. The nurse nodded. Gadget carefully removed the baby female from the nurse's right arm and carefully held it in her own arms. “She looks just like you when you were born.” Gadget said sweetly. The nurse carefully handed Luna her son. Luna gazed at the babe's face and sighed, “He looks just like his father.” she said softly. Gadget looked at the sleeping babe. “So he does. As his sister looking like her mother.” Gadget found a seat nearby the bed and leaned so Luna could see her daughter. Thursday January 6th, 2011 Stones City USA 13.45 Tom was well enough to be discharged from the hospital to recover at home. Although he was cleared only to do desk work, Tom took that in stride, humbly and somewhat disappointed. When his flight landed at the Stones City international airport. As soon as he exited the terminal, Tom took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. 'Remarkable.' he thought. 'a new heart and a new lung in one month.' Tom shook his head with a smile. An electrical car honk that caused Tom to turn to look at the origin of the honk. Louie was standing nonchalantly outside of his car and waving at him. Tom grinned and strode over to his friend's car. “How you doin' Lou?” Tom asked as he approached Louie's car. “Oh good I guess. Hadn't heard from you in a while. What's up?” Louie asked as he watched Tom open the passenger door. “Well that's classified Louie.” Tom replied calmly. “How about Luna? Is she doing good?” Louie asked as he entered his car and buckled. Tom remained quiet. Louie turned to Tom as he put the car into drive. “How's your sister? Is she doing fine?” Tom turned to Louie and then returned back to stare out the window as he replied. “I don't feel like talking right now Lou. Just get me to my place if you don't mind.” Louie nodded silently and drove off to the farthest skirts of the city. #0|\/|3 @ 1a$4 Tom's house remained the same as it looked like when he left it. The lawn neat and the flower beds look well maintained. He thanked Louie and entered his home. Everything was exactly as it was. Only now they have a layer of dust on them. Figuring that it could wait, Tom decided to make a phone call. He went to his phone and dialed up his parents. After a while, he heard someone answer “Ciao?” The voice was female. Hello? “Ah, ciao la madre, ho deciso di chiamarla perché è stato un mentre. Come lei è?” Tom said. Ah, hello mother, I decided to call you because it's been a while. How are you? “È stato troppo lungo! Che è successo a lei ultimamente?” Tom's mother sharply replied. It's been too long! What has happened to you lately? “Ha classificato la mamma. Non posso dirle che ho fatto.” Tom said apologetically. It's classified mom. I can't tell you what I've been doing. “Ciò che di sua sorella? Averla ha sentito da lei?” His mother asked eagerly. What about your sister? Have you heard from her? “Di che... She's.. mamma andata. Avrò i Guardie forestali di Soccorso le danno il report completo. Erano lì quando è successo.” About that... She's... gone mama. I'll have the Rescue Rangers give you the full report. They were there when it happened. Tom said flatly. The other side of the line was quiet. Then in a soft voice, his mother asked another question. “Ma la sono come il figlio? Lei è bene?” But how are you son? Are you well? Tom sighed and brushed a paw over his head. “Sono la mamma viva e bene. C'era un incidente e ho dovuto avere la chirurgia per esso. Ma niente troppo critico è danneggiato.” Tom replied I'm alive and well mama. There was an accident and I had to have surgery for it. But nothing too critical is damaged. “Lei chiama attendendo diversi mesi un piccolo incidente? Per favore Tommy, mi dà le notizie direttamente.” You call waiting several months a small accident? Please Tommy, give me the news straight. His mother asked tiredly. “Desidero che potrei la mamma, ma le ho detto che i dettagli sono classificati. Sono spiacenteI.” wish I could mamma, but I told you that the details are classified. I'm sorry. Tom said sadly. “Ma come la sua amica è? Fa bene?” His mother asked. But how is your girlfriend? Is she doing fine? “È bella. Il in ultimo ho sentito da è che si aspetta. Da lì, penso che è tutta che un mistero.” She's fine. The last I've heard from her is that she's expecting. From there, I think that it's all a mystery. Tom said somewhat shakily. “Bene Tommy, desidero l'entrambi lei bene.” His mother said encouragingly. Well Tommy, I do wish the both of you well. “Ringrazia la mamma.” Tom said with a thin smile. Thanks mamma. “Il suo benvenuto. E mi chiama se è delle buona notizie.” His mother said eagerly. “Oh e le dice che ho detto ciao.” Your welcome. And call me if it's good news. - Oh and tell her that I said hi. “Farà la mamma. L'amo.” Tom said warmly. Will do mom. I love you. “L'amo anche il figlio.” His mother replied before she hung the phone up. I love you too son. Tom hung up his end. Smiling, Tom went to his room and quickly changed out of the borrowed spare Hawaiian shirt that Dale had lent him afterward being released. Dressed his usual greaser look, and getting his winter biking gear over that, Tom went to his garage and opened the door. His scale sized Indian motorcycle was waiting under it's protective tarp. Tom removed the tarp and donned on his bike helmet and then started it. After revving the engine a few times, Tom rumbled down his driveway and off to Ranger HQ. *()* Tom climbed the stairs, the afternoon sun warmed him up a bit. He firmly knocked on the door and then started to study the Ranger emblem that hung above the door. “Oh Tom. I've seen that you've found our headquarters.” Tom glanced from the emblem to the creature addressing him. It was Chip. “Er, yeah. Say is Luna here per chance?” Tom asked eagerly. Chip nodded and then motioned for him to enter. Inside, it was warm and the noise of the television was abnormally soft- even for Dale's standards. “Luna! Tom's here to see you.” Chip called out. There was no reply. After a few seconds, Gadget entered the front room from the hangar. “You're up! How are you doing?” Gadget asked. “I'm fine thanks. I just need to talk with Luna for a bit.” Tom said. “Alright. She's in her room over there.” She answered pointing to the guest room. “Thank you.” Tom said, bowing slightly. He approached the room cautiously, and gently knocked on the door. There was no reply to his knocking. He even knocked a few times. “What?” Luna finally called out. Tom opened the door. Luna was putting a diaper on one of the twins. “Hi. How've you been?” Tom asked. “I'm fine thank you.” Luna replied coldly. “So who's this?” he asked. “This is Monica. She's ours as is our son Sean Luke.” Luna replied. Tom caught a hint of internal conflict in her voice. “You alright?” he asked. “Alright, I guess. No, no I'm not alright at all.” Luna replied calmly as she carefully checked the diaper and then set Monica in a white wicker crib that was on the right of her bed and then she picked up Sean. “Listen Tom, I don't think I could handle the fact that you're always in the line of danger and prone to never return. I'll find myself sleeping next to you one night then wake only to find you gone. I don't know what's gotten into you Tom.” Luna said with a calm yet stressed voice. “You've vanished from sight that night only to turn up weeks almost a month later, lying to me in my face to try to leave and now you're back. With that, I don't think our relationship is gonna work out. I'll be returning your ring later today.” Luna said as she laid Sean on a ivory colored wicker changing station. “I don't- what's- why are you doing this?” Tom asked after finding words. Luna stopped what she was doing and turned to Tom, her eyes displayed the pain in her soul as she explained with a calm overtone that kept her anguish from reaching the babe's ears. “Dang it Tom, how'd you think what I would feel if you're in and out of secret missions that may end up dangerous and then having to explain to our kids why their father won't return. I can't bear to tell them that you probably died or- or even captured or worse.” Luna paused to collect herself after her voice raised by a slight degree. She brushed a paw through her hair as she glanced up to the ceiling with frustration. Sean whimpered from the changing station causing Luna to return to her task. “That's why I don't want you here, nor do I ever want to do anything with you ever again. I'll let you visit your children but that's it. I can't have you here. Not just for my sake, but for the children's as well.” Tom felt his heart sink and shatter. “S- so I can visit them?” He said softly, his ears and tail drooping with sadness. “You can whenever you can. Just don't use them to get back to me.” Luna said as she deposited Sean's dirty diaper into a bin and then cleaned up the small mess. “So that's it then.” Tom whispered. Luna nodded silently. Tom slowly turned and opened the door. He stole one last glance over his shoulder and sighed sadly. The light that came from the window, brilliantly shone on Luna's face. Making her illuminate like an angel as she tended to Sean. Shaking his head, he strode out of the guest room door shutting it in the process and then walked quickly to the front door. Monty opened the door and was about to enter when Tom plowed past Monty and then made straightway to the stairs and trotted down the stairs moodily. Monty turned to the other Rangers, “What's his problem?” he asked. The other Rangers shrugged. Gadget glanced to the guest room and lightly gnawed at a corner of her lower lip. “Some thing's not right.” She said quietly. She turned to Chip, “Chip, I'm going to the state animal prison and have a chat with Horatio. If there was anyone who knew what the two were like before all this happened, it'll be him.” She said firmly. Chapter 17: My father: the King of hearts 16.02 Virginia State Prison The Rangerplane landed roughly on the rooftop of the main prison building. Gadget hopped out and took a moment to find the entrance to the small animal prison below. She soon spotted it. She entered the door to a cool concrete floor with similar colored walls. She made her way down the hall and paused at the security entrance check point. A guard noticed her. “Can I help you?” he said. “Yes.” Gadget replied, “Is it time for visitors?” The guard glanced at his watch and returned to Gadget, “It is. Just one more hour. Who are you?” “I'm Gadget Hackwrench from the Rescue Rangers. I'm here to visit an old friend.” She answered. “For what purpose?” The guard asked. “Personal.” Gadget said immediately after the guard asked. “One moment please.” The guard said in a business tone. After a few seconds, a different guard came out of the checkpoint and approached Gadget. “This way please.” The guard said motioning with it's head. A couple of minutes went by as Gadget followed the guard down the hall and into a room. The room had a barrier that divided the room. The upper half was made of Plexiglas while the lower part was made of steel. The border betwixt the Plexiglas and the steel was a steel counter with dividers and benches for both sides. There was a phone that connected one side from the other. The room was partially filled with imprisoned gangsters and criminals with someone they knew. Gadget was ushered to a booth. “He'll be in, in a couple of minutes.” The guard said. A door on the other side opened. Horatio entered with a guard behind him and a guard in front of him as well. The guard behind him pointed him to the booth that where Gadget sat. Horatio nodded his thanks and took a seat. He picked up his end of the phone and Gadget mirrored his movements with the phone. “What are you doing here?” Horatio asked. “There's a problem with our daughter.” Gadget stated worriedly. “Do you by chance remember a mouse named Tom?” Horatio nodded, “Yep I know him. I quote and unquote stabbed him. Why?” “Well ever since Switzerland, Luna's been cold to him and just recently he left the Ranger HQ and nearly ran over Monty.” Horatio blinked. “Did you ever hear anything said between them?” he asked. Gadget shook her head. “Do you know how they were before the incidents?” Horatio leaned an elbow on the counter and stared up at an angle in thought. “What does Tom do for a living?” He asked. “I think he works with the government the way he disappeared from Luna and returned. I think that his job has something to do with it I think.” Gadget answered. “Ah.” Horatio sighed. “Here's my guess, I could be wrong so don't hold me to this but here's what I figure; Tom's job has to do something with disappearing acts and lying. So I'm guessing that Luna didn't want him to go at random times and take a while to come back and when he comes back, he might be a bit more moody. That's just one guess.” “You mean you have another idea?” Gadget asked. “Yep.” Horatio nodded. “What's that?” Gadget asked, leaning close to the Plexiglas. “Her insecurity.” Horatio stated flatly. “I myself have been coming and going and being gone for extended time, y'know robbing some joint and vanishing for time to let the air clear up before returning. I had Scree my best friend watch over Luna when she was young. When I had to go, she would plead with me not to go. In my own stubbornness, I left her crying. I guess that she found security in Tom only to discover that his job now places her in that same position.” Horatio leaned close to the Plexiglas and he narrowed his eyes slightly. “That and you putting her in that orphanage also did something to her security issues.” Gadget straightened, “What?” She asked softly. “Let me put it this way.” Horatio said like a teacher with a difficult student, “One, she was dumped in an orphanage that made Little Orphan Annie's orphanage look like a Hilton hotel; two, my thieving habits. And for the third strike, Tom's oddball job. I'd keep a good weather eye on her. Heaven knows what she'll do.” “I'll keep an eye on her. But do you know anyone else that might know them better?” Gadget implored. “I think I do.” Horatio replied. “Tom's pal Louis Castille. He's a detective for the APF, and Tom's late sister Angeline. I know them after I had a talk with Luna two years after she ran away from my house. “But be careful Gadget, she'll be even more bitter and probably more violent to Tom than she had ever been to either you or I. I know that she punched you, and she would have beaten the snot out of me had I not left; I hate to find out what she has in store for Tom.” Horatio advised cautiously. “Thanks.” Gadget said. She was about to hang up but Horatio knocked on the barrier, she glanced back and held the phone to her ear. Horatio had a grin on his face as he said one simple phrase: “He's looking at you kid.” Horatio hung up and left before Gadget could reply. %6%^% th Gadget landed outside of APF 5 precinct building and entered. She asked an officer if detective Louis Castille was in. The officer pointed to a cluttered desk with a forlorn looking vole behind it. She noticed that the vole and noticed that he was staring at a picture. She remembered him from that night he delivered that package for Luna. “Louis?” She asked. The vole nodded and motioned for her to take a seat. Louie turned to Gadget, “Please, call me Louie. Now what can I do for you?” He asked. “What was Tom and Luna like when they were before the last time you seen Luna?” She asked. Louie shrugged and answered; “You wouldn't know it but those two were rumored to be married early in junior high. Really close throughout high school and in college they were. Heh, I remember that time when Angeline and I were sitting on her front porch after the high school prom. We were talking about our future when Angeline spotted her brother and Luna coming down the street. Luna and Tom live relatively close, but anyways Tom followed Luna inside. Tom didn't come out until the next morning.” “How did Angeline know when he got out of there?” Gadget asked. “He came home after breakfast. That's what she told me.” Louie replied. “How did they meet?” Gadget asked. th th “They met at Madam Cheryl's dance studio on 6 and 10 . I had to take dance lessons because my mom thought I was getting too fat. Heh, well that's where I met Angeline. She and Tom took the class for no reason other than getting a cultural experience. Now anyways, Luna- she didn't join until we all were in the fifth grade. I would notice her in times before, watching us intently and try to mimic our movements with a broom handle or a stuffed toy. Tom's mother noticed as well and paid for her tuition in the following month. I tell you, Tom and Luna wanted to take on the more difficult dances, such as their favorite. I think that their favorite dance sparked something.” “What dance is their favorite? Just wondering.” Gadget asked curiously. Louie grinned as he answered. “The Argentine tango. They practiced and practiced. They practiced it so often, it became second nature. Heck, they would go to competitions, and the tango would always be their winning hand.” Gadget's mental gears went whirring with ideas. “So it was dancing that brought them together.” She guessed. Louie nodded. “Indeed it is. You look busy, what's on your mind?” Gadget glanced around and leaned close to Louie, “Is there an opportunity for them to dance?” Louie stared at Gadget thoughtfully; “Hmm... lessee... there's those restaurants that have dancing involved; but that's too loose. Then there's that charity ball, the annual valentine's day dance competition... Aha! There you go!” Louie said excitedly hitting a fist into an open palm. “Register them in the annual Valentine's day dance competition down at Winder hall! It's down on Main and just three blocks south of Vine. Aren't you writing this down?” He asked. Gadget tapped her head. “Got it.” Louie nodded, “Fine, now the entry fee is fifteen bucks per couple. I suggest that you and others enter as well just to make sure that it works. I know that the dance competition would work. Now don't tell either of them.” Gadget grinned. “I hope it works too.” Louie nodded satisfactory. “Good. Oh by the way- Angeline's lawyer called me to inform me that Angeline's will is going to be read tomorrow night at seven. Luna's presence is required.” Gadget nodded and then she left the APF precinct. She paused and looked to the sky. “I hope that this works out.” She whispered to the sky. Shaking her head, she climbed back into the rangerplane and flew off to the HQ with Horatio's warning and Louie's idea. 16.56 Gadget entered the HQ via hangar to find the Rangers in deep discussion. Tammy was talking, “But the thing is that it's not fair to Tom. He's doing a job that not only protects the country but also protecting his family at the same time!” “True Tammy,” Chip replied, “But what about Luna? She has to deal with a husband who's sometimes home and sometimes gone. How could she deal with that sort of thing while raising two kids on her own?” “It's not that difficult.” Tammy argued. “It's not that easy either.” Chip countered. “Maybe we should make Tom a Rescue Ranger.” Dale suggested. “That way he could remain home and still see his kids.” “Yeah!” Foxy said eagerly, “But first we have to make them fall in love again!” “That's tricky though Foxy.” Monty said. “Ye've seen Tom when he left. From the way he ran inta me, I think that it's for good.” “But it's not fair. How could they hate each other so much? Weren't they in love before?” Foxy asked mournfully. “They were.” Gadget replied as she found a seat. “I had a chat with a friend of theirs. The one thing, he said, that brought them together is their love for dancing. Especially the Argentine Tango.” she said with a slim grin. “How could we get them to do that?” Chip asked. Gadget's grin turned into a deep smile that went from ear to ear as she replied soothingly, like a beautiful mad scientist; “My dear detective, there is a dance competition on Valentine's day. And I took the privilege to sign them up. As well as us.” Shudders ran down the backs of guys while Tammy and Foxy smiled, “Then they'll have to dance whether they like it or not!” Tammy cried out. “Shhh!” Monty said sharply. “Oi got the liddle tykes asleep an' it was as easy as nailin' Jello to a tree.” “Oh sorry.” Tammy whispered. However, one of the babies began to cry. “Where's Luna?” Gadget asked. “She went shopping for more baby food.” Foxy answered. Gadget got up to tend to the crying baby. “Alright. Just don't tell her or Tom.” she said over her shoulder. The others nodded. Gadget returned with Monica in her arms, rocking her softly. “What will Luna wear?” Tammy asked, “I got her only dress and I don't think that she's got much to wear.” Gadget shrugged as she rocked Monica gently in her arms. The door opened and Luna entered grumbling about long lines at the check out lanes. She looked up and noticed that Gadget was holding Monica. “She woke up?” Luna asked. Gadget nodded. “Yeah, she did. Do you want me to take care of her?” She asked. Luna nodded as she put the groceries on the table and then hung up her greaser jacket. “It's colder than a witches thorax out there.” she said casually. “I went to see Louie.” Gadget remarked. “He said that Angeline's lawyer wanted you to attend the reading of her will. Apparently you are required to attend.” Luna blew out a sigh and rolled her eyes, “When.” She groused. “Tomorrow night at seven.” Gadget answered as she carefully shifted Monica in her arms. Luna just nodded side to side reluctantly. Friday January 7th, 19.00 hrs. Angeline's apartment, 17 th street corner of Robinson boulevard. Luna arrived and found Tom standing across the room studying a Van Gogh painting. A shrew in a pinstripe suit was also there with a dark briefcase. Louie and two other mice were also in attendance. Luna recognized the mice as Tom's parents. His mother had tan fur and wore a simple grey business suit, his father, in dark brown cowboy boots, worn blue jeans, a white dress shirt, a rough western styled suit jacket, and a well worn brown stetson hat. She decided to sit as far from them as she could. “Welcome to the reading of the late Angeline Pascali's will.” The shrew said in a high squeaky voice. He cleared his throat as he read the will: “I, Angeline Marionette Pascali, hereby declare myself mentally competent and sound of mind hereby claim this will as my last. My earthly goods have been divided with careful thought and consideration. First, I leave my art collection, my collection of rare books, and my black vintage scale nineteen thirty- five Rolls Royce Phantom coup to my mother. To my father, I leave him rare and authentic cowboy boots made of eel leather worn by the famous outlaw mouse Bill Cassidy. To my brother, I leave him my baseball collection, football collection, and my entire Olympic games memorabilia. To my beloved Louis Castille, I leave him a special gift. It resides inside a mahogany chest at the foot of my bed. It's contents are his. Even the chest itself. And to the one I look up to, Luna Centauri, I leave her my entire wardrobe, furniture, rare rugs, sound system, music collection, fine china plates, bowls, cups, silverware and other kitchen goods and my rare jewelery. Also let it be known that my money will be divided equally among them. To each the sum of one hundred and twenty eight million dollars.” The room fell silent at the inheritance. Tom glanced to his mother with a surprised look. Louie glanced to Luna who was pale. “You alright?” he asked. “I- I don't know.” She whispered as she slowly looked at everything that she would get. Louie turned back to the Lawyer as he had to reread Tom's mother's inheritance slowly. Afterward the lawyer put the will back into his brief case and nodded to the company. “Well there you go folks. I will get the money to you as soon as we clear it with the AIRS. Good evening and feel free to gather what you can. You'll have a week until the land lord comes and empties the entire apartment.” The lawyer turned to leave, “Wait!” Luna cried out as she hurried up to him. “How come I got more things?” She asked hastily. The lawyer shrugged. “I don't know- it said that she looked up to you, so I guess that she wanted you to have them because she admired you.” Luna was about to object but the lawyer turned and hurried into his die cast Volkswagen beetle car and drove off. She half turned and noticed that no one moved. Luna joined the others inside. “So...” she started uneasily. Tom turned and headed to a room without a word and Tom's parents began to wander the apartment silently. Louie approached Luna. “You know, I think that we should wait until they're done.” He said. Luna nodded and watched as Tom's parents took in every detail of the apartment. Everything was placed in a certain sophisticated order. The rare rugs were hung on the wall around the art, giving the plain white walls some color and pizazz. The antique furniture complimented the wall hangings with their color and design. The hardwood floor was clean and neatly polished. Tom appeared from a room, he paused and snuck a quick glance at Luna with a loving look before leaving. Tom's parents arrived from a small hallway. Tom's father looked at Luna. His grizzled look had a gaunt look to it. He extended a paw. “Good to see you again.” he said in a deep baritone that carried the accent like an old cowboy. Luna smiled thinly as she shook his paw. “The same.” She replied. “Well, I think that it's best we get going. We got to get some boxes and such.” Tom's father commented softly. “Take care Luna.” he said as he nodded his farewell. He gently took his wife's arm in his and the two left the apartment. Luna sadly watched them go. “Do you still work?” she quickly asked Tom's father. He turned. “Nah, I'm retired.” “Could you remind me again what you did.” Luna asked. Mr. Pascali grinned as he answered. “US Marshall, small animal division.” Luna blinked in amazement that she forgot. Mr. and Mrs. Pascali finally left, leaving Luna and Louie to remain. Louie had found the mahogany chest. “Well, I got what was given.” he said softly. “Take care Luna.” She nodded and Louie made his leave. Luna wandered down the small hall and found Angeline's bedroom. To her amazement, the bedroom looked like something out of a magazine for the rich and famous. She wandered to a walk in closet and peered inside. It was dark and she found a light switch. She turned the light on. Her eyes opened as the lights displayed fine dresses that were ordered by occasion rather by anything else. Combinations of shoes for each dress was under the dresses. She followed the dresses down and stopped at the last thing that was hanging. It was covered by an opaque plastic bag there was also a closed shoe box beneath, and a hat box on a shelf above. Luna found that the bag had a zipper. Carefully, she unzipped the bag and opened it. Her breath was stolen, for hanging on a neat hangar was a wedding dress. It was plain and simple. No train, a knee length skirt, a crisp blouse, and a neat white jacket, all in order. Luna closed the bag and opened the shoe box. The shoes were white and had broad, simple designed heels. Closing the shoe box, Luna examined the hat box. To her surprise, the hat had a veil attached and was simple in design. The veil was designed just to cover the front and sides of the face while the back had two broad ribbons tied in a neat bow. Luna sighed sadly at the thought that Angeline wouldn't be able to wear it. But why did Angeline give Luna all this? 'I don't deserve any of this. Why me? Why not her family?' She thought. A cold eerie feeling came behind Luna. Slowly she turned, then she half fell half staggered into the dresses behind her with her eyes wide as saucers as a ghastly apparition stood before her. It molded itself into the likeness of Angeline. The apparition spoke, “The reason why Luna, is because you were the sister I never had, and I want to give you what I thought you deserved. And you do Luna. And thank you for being a friend to my brother.” As the apparition vanished. Luna's eyes rolled back into her head as she collapsed in a heap in the closet.
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