It's A Jungle Out There


Part Four

Time passed while the Rangers, their friends and foes carried out their plans. Fat Cat and Capone searched for their subjects while keeping an eye on each other, careful not to cross the other’s path or the aggression would surely keep them from achieving their goal. Meanwhile Gadget worked together with the BATS scientists to invent new ways of effectively putting their enemy out of the way in a non-violent way. Geegaw, Chip, Monty and Dale scouted the jungles both on the ground and in the air using the Screaming Eagle plane. Zipper provided assistance to both groups to speed up their mission, realizing New York needed these gun runners out of the way before the entire rodent population had armed themselves, either out of self-defense or to commit crimes.

Meanwhile, Mercy and Philip were enjoying their time in Saudi Arabia. Although the beach of the gulf country was not as popular as its northern ally Turkey’s tourist recreation, it was good enough for both the two ‘munks and apparently a large number of others as well.
“You said Arabs might take offence at suggestive clothing,” Philip warned her sister, referring to her yellow bathing suit.
“Hey, this is the beach pal, don’t expect to local population to complain about a business as profitable as tourism. Besides, the beach bar owner hasn’t called the police yet,” Mercy reasoned and lifted her sunglasses.
“Okay, if you say so. But I won’t save you when suddenly there’s an angry mob surrounding you.”
“Trust me, you will,” Mercy predicted and put her glasses back on and turned around on her stomach to let the sun warm her back as well.
A moment later there was the noise of a speedboat and a wave of water washed over the recreating chips. Mercy got up spluttering with a murderous look on her face.
“I swear, if I see that guy who did that I’ll give him a cold shower. He’ll rue the day he messed with Mercy “Mischief” Stoneturner!”
“Are you really planning to keep that nickname forever? You’re not up to mischief anymore so it would be unfit,” Philip argued, which got Mercy thinking.
“You know, you’re right. Although I am still planning mischief, I need something that describes me a bit better. From here on, ‘Gorgeous’ will be my second name,” Mercy declared, hoping it would put her brother’s conscience to rest.
“The title doesn’t fit right now. Maybe we should get back to the hotel and do something about your wet fur,” Philip offered as he got up.
“Sure, go ahead and start packing,” Mercy complied, getting up and wringing out her towel before she dried herself off.

“Just a shame those guys had to come and ruin our day,” Mercy said, disappointed, as the two walked along the beach, climbing the stairs up to the harbor to get some kind of transportation back to the hotel.
A small group of apparently filthy rich animals noticed the two, and the leader of the group, a salamander, halted Mercy. “Hi there beauty, would you care to join me for diner? I know all the best places in this city and I got ways to dine there without much of a hassle about formalities. How about us going to one of those places?” He asked in a too intimate way while giving her an irresistible ‘prince charming’ look, complete with sparkling gold tooth.
“How about you leave us alone and we visit a fast food joint?” Mercy responded snidely and pointed to herself and her brother.
“I can sense you are from out of country. I have you know I’m a prince,” he cautioned Mercy, his friends nodding in agreement.
“Sure you are. Princes are plentiful in this country, you certainly don’t hold some important position,” Philip responded coolly, damaging the amphibian’s ego.
“Are you sure you don’t need me? Life could be so much simpler as my little cuddle plushy,” he tried again, ignoring the bothersome boy, but failed again.
“If you haven’t noticed yet, I got a younger brother to look after,” Mercy responded impatiently. Then she suddenly noticed the speedboat the group had been standing next to, and quickly figured these goons were the cause of her totally getting wet. These guys were so in trouble.
“Hi there little rat. Did someone ever told you you’ve got a sister who’s too beautiful for you?” The native Arab told Philip while tickling him under his chin.
Philip carefully looked up to Mercy, who gave him a wink. Philip got it and bit the salamander’s finger.
“Aauw, you dirty little rat!” he screamed, inspecting his hand for any permanent damage.
“Never insult someone in the open. According to my sister’s book on Saudi Arabia that is looked down upon,” Philip remarked wisely.
“Why you…” the native murmured darkly and rolled up his sleeves. “You’ll die for that!” the prince screamed, clenching his hand into a fist ready to give the kid the spanking of his life.
“Nobody’s killing anybody,” Mercy interrupted and brought her fist down on his right eye. “You slug, you’re the one who ruined our beach party!” Mercy shouted as she continued to pummel the reptilian who tried to defend himself.
Philip looked on worried as his sister continued her frenzy and mercilessly pounced on the skirt-chasing prince. Two of his companions grabbed her arms which kept her from injuring the prince even more.
“What’s your problem, can’t you respect those of a higher class?” The salamander prince asked, infuriated, and hit Mercy.
If the reptile aristocrat had known about Mercy’s unstable behavior he would have surely regretted his action before he carried it out. Rage built up in Mercy. She felt like a cornered animal and that this prince had nothing good for her in store didn’t help at all. So she quickly got rid of the henchman left of her by kicking him between his legs with the heel of her foot and when he released her she quickly grabbed her knife she often had with her and took a swipe at the other one holding her. Fortunately for him he had been quick to release her and took a step back, avoiding any cutting damage while the angry female directed her anger at the scared salamander who quickly dived into the water before he could get hurt. Mercy turned around again to face the prince’s friends.
“If any of you guys got a problem, say so now so I can put an end to your existence right away,” Mercy threatened as she backed away, the knife still pointed at the group.
She took Philip and left the docks, hiding with him in an alley to get over the shock.
“Are you hurt?” Philip asked and inspected her face.
“No, it’s nothing bad,” she confessed as she sat down.
“Why did you try to kill that guy? I don’t think he was bent on killing you either so it was no reason to grab your knife,” Philip argued as he took his handkerchief to clean up Mercy’s face.
“Don’t be so sure about anything. People in New York would have done it and that guy looked like he would have done it as well. Either way, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And when he tried to win me over he sort of looked like Thomas, you remember him right?” Mercy asked as she put her knife back in place and rose to her feet.
“Uhuh, I know you dislike him. But it’s wrong to mistake people for who they not are, there might be differences between the two,” Philip started preaching at his elder sister.
“Yeah, but in this situation the two looked VERY much alike. But who knows what he was planning? He could have r-Ah no, that’s a word you’re not supposed to know yet,” Mercy corrected herself “Just believe me when I say I lived long enough on the streets to get a general idea of how people treat you when you’re attractive like me.”
“Whatever, let’s just get back to the hotel and put this all behind us. Just don’t let it happen again, I can still reconsider if I want to live with you,” Philip warned.
Mercy just hugged him, then put him on her shoulder and carried him back to the hotel.

“Good evening.” Colonel Mendoza said as he entered the lab where Gadget was working, along with a few other engineers and scientists.
“Hello sir Colonel, may I say Petro?” Gadget requested as she put aside a notebook and test tubes.
“By all means, how’s it going?”
“Fine. Oh, you mean the development of course. But that’s good too. I received word that the weapons factory started mass producing my standard plunger crossbow. Golly, I’m surprised how it will look in a more refined form. You see, the technicians at the war factory suggested to make a few modifications as they use raw materials instead of human trash so it would turn out as a real crossbow made out of steel, rubber and wood. But they decided to leave the darts themselves similar to mine, seeing as they know how to produce these,” Gadget reported as she went over some computer files, finally opening a file of the BATS’s prototype plunger crossbow.
“Hmm, it looks nice. Would you mind making a copy of it and other interesting armament for me?” Petro asked as he studied the blueprint on the screen.
“Sure, it would be my pleasure. The team of engineers also agreed with starting the production of my Stun Grenade. And with the advanced equipment I get to work with, I’ve been able to increase it’s effectiveness by approximately 34%! And we’ve even been able to create the ultimate non-lethal chemical weapon, I call it the Chem. Dart, because it’s essentially that,” Gadget explained proudly.
“I thought you’d keep the United Species’ charter in mind while working here,” The Colonel wondered, fearing this would be the next step toward mass destruction.
“Don’t worry, I studied its article on chemical warfare carefully and I can safely say it’s within range of acceptable. The mixture this weapon uses is nothing more than a strong tranquilizer. It can only cause headache, blurred vision, dizziness, sleep and paranoia. The effects are only temporarily, as long as it’s used in a responsible amount. The darts the engineering department suggested should be enough to keep it a harmless injection,” Gadget explained, which seemed to ease the Colonel’s conscience, though he was unfamiliar with the curse that rested on the word ‘should’.
“Alright then. I’ll ask my government to bring it up in the next US council meeting, they will either accept or reject its use. In case it’s rejected though, I must ask you to eliminate the files, they may not fall in wrong hands. And these darts won’t be introduced to our weapons factory until the US agrees,” Mendoza said firmly, but deep inside he was thankful for the discoveries.

Alex carefully entered the office without making a noise to see his superior at work on some paperwork.
“Knock first before you enter son,” Sergei said uninterested as he continued his work.
Alexander knocked on the door to undo his mistake.
“Alright, what is wrong?” The commander asked, still not taking his eyes of his work.
“I was just wondering, aren’t we going somewhere exiting? Ever since we arrived on this island we’ve been stuck in this camp without any relief from duty,” the sub-commander asked his superior. Not that Alex ever liked spending time with his boss, in fact he preferred to be a loner. He’d drink his drinks alone, dance with a girl he picked himself and entertain himself. But the Brazilian smuggling operation was really getting to his head and he wanted to take his head off it any way possible. Even if it meant traveling with Sergei.
“You must have been drunk again when I explained about that trip before we left. We’d be in the middle of nowhere; the only contact between this base and outside world is truck convoy that picks up goods and supplies in nearby villages. Other than that, only assault, ambush and attack squads get outside walls of this encampment. I’m sure you don’t want to join one of the A-teams, you’re not carved out of right wood for that.”
“Does that mean we’re totally stuck here? Like in a prison, doesn’t that bother you?” Alex reacted horrified.
“Son, I signed up for this, so you signed up for it to. We’re not going anywhere soon, so get used to it,” the elder answered, sounding a bit annoyed.
“Can’t we get out of it anymore? I’m not planning to spend my life in this hell hole!” Alex protested, a bit too fiercely.
The other Siberian rose from his chair and turned around, towering over the assistant. The youngster backed off in fear.
“I say I like it here so we stay. You do remember there’s no turning back anymore? You have to stay with me and sit this out, understand?” he growled, making it sound more like a demand than a question.
“S-sure mister Tcharkovsky, whatever you say,” Alexander agreed, then left the office to see if there was anything to drown his sorrow in.
Man, no good drinks, no entertainment, no girls. How will I live this through? Is this too much to ask for, some relief from this horrendous work? he wondered as he made his way to the barracks.

It took a few days for Steve’s companions to reach the BATS’s base of operations, as the helicopter Steve owned could not travel huge distances so it had to avoid traveling across the sea, and go all the way through Mexico before reaching Brazil.
“What seems to be the problem this time?” Timber asked when he finally saw his employer again.
“It seems there are smugglers somewhere in these jungles who supply weapons to countries in both the southern and northern hemisphere. Let’s just say they’re a threat to the world peace,” Steve explained, hoping there was something his friends could do.
“I noticed that by now. New York’s starting to get unsafe.” Henk confirmed.
“Then that means we have no time to lose,” Chip added, joining the conversation. “Gadget’s already busy trying to improve some of her earlier inventions. While that might be swell, it’s useless without the knowledge of where to find the bad guys.”
“Want me to go and help her?” Mousestein offered helpfully.
“No, what we really could use is an explorer. Your grappling hook seems to do the trick in those jungles,” Steve encouraged and playfully punched his shoulder.
“Why not launch a spy satellite?” Hiss suggested hopefully. “Gadget seems to have the brain to accomplish that.”
“NASA would surely get suspicious,” Chip argued, trying to make it sound like a joke.
“Indeed, it’s better to let those humans think we’re no threat to their civilization,” Steve added.
“Anyway, just get ready to help us in our search for their base of operations. The rest of the Rangers are helping as well so I doubt we don’t have enough manpower. We’re just not lucky enough,” Chip explained a bit sadly.

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