Unwanted Visitors

By: CD

Mercy had been in prison for just a week now. But that one week was more than enough for her to make herself feel miserable. Not that she regretted what she had done in the past, she didn’t even have time to think about that. It was because she wasn’t treated like a rodent anymore, but rather like garbage you wouldn’t touch with a ten feet pole. Most of the guards were actually nice and some of them realized that it was up to them to make sure that when their prisoners got free they didn’t immediately continue their life of crime. Sadly, not all of them were like that and all the efforts of the friendly and caring guards were lost by the actions of one mean guard, one with a high rank and no tolerance for criminality. Mercy considered her an overzealous, backstabbing, merciless, ruthless crime fighter extremist. Most other prisoners however considered her something even worse and Mercy was shocked to learn how many mean things they thought of her and what awful things they wished for her. She was named Patricia Strongarm. She was a female chipmunk well in her thirties, but had retained her charm from her teen ages. But anyone who was in jail for longer than two days knew that her good looks were merely covering up the ugly person she was inside. She had been working in this prison facility for such a long time that she already called it “her” prison. She didn’t show any compassion for her prisoners, she treated all of them like monsters that had to be tamed. She wasn’t afraid of using force to accomplish that, and it showed. If you accidentally bumped into her she would immediately get as angry as a Texan bull in a rodeo, only she didn’t use horns but one of those rubber clubs all police carried along. Patricia used it often and knew exactly how and where to hit someone to cause a lot of pain, which she considered the “best friend of a guard”. Mercy’s hateful feelings were starting to boil over and she knew she wasn’t the only one.

“Once I get out of jail, you’re going to lose your job.” She thought to herself. Those were exactly the same words she had told Patricia when Mercy was still new to the place when she had beat up Mercy because she had called prison guards scum, something most others thought as well but never said. She should have never said that to her, a few moments later a couple of other guards had to pry Patricia off of Mercy and take both of them away - Patricia to the staff room in an attempt to calm her down, and Mercy to the First Aid post. Mercy was surprised Patricia hadn’t taken action against having a First Aid post for prisoners.

“Why hasn't anyone ever thought of charging her with abuse of prisoners?” She had asked her friend Liz “Sharky”, who was a prisoner as well. Liz had been in this jail for a long time and was a very active criminal.

“Everyone who leaves this jail does one of two things: Avoid committing a crime out of fear having to go here again, or go berserk and try to oppose the law at any chance they get, angered by what they had to go through while being kept in this place.”

“Then I guess I’ll be the first to take action against her.” Mercy replied. Liz had stopped in her tracks and began laughing.

“Did you really think someone could actually prove he or she was abused in prison? If that was the case Patricia would have been fired a long time ago, maybe put in prison herself. You're pretty unrealistic, but at least your sense of humor is alright.” At first Mercy was offended that she was just laughed at instead of being taken seriously, but she figured that Liz would know better than her. She had been in here longer than her, after all.

The prison itself was less than desirable as well. Although Mercy was grateful she wasn’t locked away in the Easter High Security Prison were they were keeping Thomas and his cohorts. The Manhattan Prison facility was more suited for burglars, petty criminals and thieves, the type that fitted Mercy. At some times she would was a bit ashamed that she hadn’t made it any further than just a two-bit seductress, because even being a successful criminal would be better than just a normal none-person. But she quickly shook that thought aside when she remembered what happened to Rat Capone, Thomas “Venice” and what would likely become of the only free mastermind left in the city, Fat Cat. Mercy knew a lot if things she’d like to be, none of those being a hated imprisoned felon. And the treatment she got here was much better than that of Easter Prison. True, this place was a mixed prison, which meant that any rodent species, be it male or female, could be send here for detention. This brought a few issues with them, mostly harassment and rape. But strict rules, severe punishment and many guards kept prisoners from committing more crimes within the prison. The labor part of Mercy’s sentence wasn’t as bad either, mostly it was assembly work which was required little physical effort. Or she was scheduled to work as a cleaner or cook. It was simply one guard, one heartless guard that made Mercy’s prison term a living hell.

The next day Mercy got a visitor. Her visitor looked, at first glance, like a queen or a princess from some foreign country. But she realized that with the few kingdoms that were still left in the world the chances that one of their royal females would visit an ordinary American prison were very low.

“So Mercy, how do I look in this dress?” Her visitor asked. Mercy was confused, how could she know her name if they never met before?

“First tell me who you are so I know who I’m talking to.”

“Don’t you recognize your own mother?” Mercy was confused. For a moment she thought her ears had deceived her and she pinched herself to see if this wasn’t a nightmare.

“How in the world could you afford something like a new dress? Not to mention a dress that expensive!”

“I’ll gladly tell you how. When I visited you a week ago I was already dating another one of those wealthy rodents. Just yesterday we got married and me and the children now live a completely new life. I guess you are quite curious as to who is the happy person fortunate enough to marry me?”

“Tell me, who is your victim?” Mercy asked, still a little shocked from the news, but trying to sound bored.

“Derrick Dime-dealer.” Her mother replied, waiting to see what the impact would do to Mercy. Mercy thought she was going to faint but then began laughing out loud.

“Ah mother, for a second there I believed you! That was pretty stupid of me, right? Really, why would THE Derrick Dime-dealer marry you, an ordinary woman who stays alive by begging, scavenging, and recycling?”

Dime-dealer was known through the animal world as the rodent version of Bill Gates. He was the head of the largest and most powerful business the rodent world ever knew. Although he started out with only a vegetable store, he now owned some of the most profitable business in the world: Oil fields in Saudi-Arabia, lumber camps in Siberia, gem mines in Australia, gold mines in Alaska, spice farms in Latin America, and much more. Mercy was about to tell her mother that she should visit a psychiatrist when she noticed the rings on her mother’s hand, one of them being an engagement ring.

“I brought along today’s newspaper. You can read the article yourself.” Her mother said, showing it off. Mercy read the article her mother pointed to:

Multi millionaire finally married.

The world famous Derrick Dime-dealer was married yesterday to his new wife Anne-Mary Stoneturner. Many were surprised that Derrick would marry a chipmunk since mice and chipmunks aren’t compatible, but with already numerous children from Stoneturner’s side, and Dime-dealer’s biology labs in north Canada, he is apparently not afraid of marrying someone who is naturally incompatible. “With my research hospitals in Colorado and the biology lab in Canada, I will have myself a baby boy long before I die.” Was the reply from Dime-dealer.

Mercy now knew this was not just a dirty trick from her mother, but she still had trouble believing it.

“You’re lying!” She shouted at her mother. “You borrowed that dress somewhere and stole those rings! You wrote that article yourself, just to make me feel miserable. But I won’t buy it! There is no way that you were married to him, that’s unthinkable!”

“What’s all the commotion!?” Patricia demanded to know.

“She’s an imposter!” Mercy shouted. “She thinks she’s Dime-dealers wife!”

“So you’re his new wife!? It’s an honor to meet you! When I read the newspaper I was really jealous of you, really. Please forgive our prisoner for shouting at you, I’ll gladly put her in line if you want me to.” Patricia offered.

“First, I want to talk to her some more. I’ll tell you when it’s your turn.” Mercy’s mother explained.

“Of course, I’ll be waiting.” Patricia said and walked off.

“As you already know Mercy, my life is complete now, except for just one thing: MY son Philip. Tell me where you left him and maybe I’ll stop taunting and teasing you.” Mercy understood full well that maybe was the key word here and that if Anne-Mary got Philip she would never see him again.

“And if you get on your knees now and beg I might even try to get you out of here.”

“Yeah, right, and tomorrow you'll be back to try and make me beg again. I’m not stupid. There is no way I’ll do that while I’m still normal.” Mercy thought to herself and shot her mother a dirty look. She then spat at her and scored a full hit on the nose.

“Such a barbaric way of saying 'No thanks'.” Anne-Mary said, and wiped off her nose with her handkerchief. “Although I wouldn’t expect any better from you, Mercy. If it weren’t for these bars I would slap you across the face. I’ll find Philip, and as for you, I have no pity.” She left and stopped when she saw Patricia.

“It’s your turn, make the most of it.” She told the guard and exited the building. Patricia made her way to Mercy's cell. She opened the door with an insane smile on her face. Mercy backed off, knowing that this was going to be painful.

Chip felt like he had broken a promise when he entered the jail on the northern part of the city. Mercy had helped him escape last time and after he thought it over, most things Mercy did for him were for his own safety or Mercy’s own motives, and none of those were bad. Sure, thanks to her he ended up prisoner of Rat Capone, but it gave him an ideal opportunity to take out the small organization from inside and gain a little information after overhearing a talk between Rat and one of his henchmen. So, really, she had been a help all along, even if one or both of them didn’t realize it at the time. But when she decided to get even with Thomas things turned out very bad for her, and just like that, she ended up in jail for three years. He had reached the cellblock they were holding her in and it didn’t take Chip long before he found her. She didn’t seem very happy at first but she was overjoyed to see him. Perhaps a little too overjoyed.

“Thank you so much for finally paying me a visit.” She said.

“I would have done it sooner, if not for my Rescue Ranger work.” He apologized.

“No need to worry, I’ve been able to handle myself so far.”

“What happened to you, Mercy? You look like you had a fight with someone. Anyone causing you trouble?”

“Yes.” She confirmed. “One of the guards here, Patricia Strongarm, has been treating me bad ever since I got here. She handles all of her prisoners like untamable beasts, but I really think she has something against me in particular. I know you law bringers will all dismiss it as the ranting of a criminal, but I tell you its unfair prisoner abuse!”

“Take it easy Mercy, even criminals have the right to be heard. But is there any proof you can show in case you want to make an accusation?”

“Only several bruises and a black eye.” She said, rolling up her sleeve. “And it still hurts like heck.”

“I’m afraid that won’t be sufficient, those wounds will heal up before Patricia can be brought before court. Any eyewitnesses?”

“Plenty, but I was already told that most of them are too afraid to confess, or they just don't care.”

“In that case I’m afraid I won’t be able to help you much.”

“Well I’m not just going to let this happen, it could ruin the lives of many people who end up here, and once I’m free I’ll make sure that fiend Patricia will pay for her crimes.” Chip thought it better to change the subject.

“How have you been holding up next to being abused by that guard?”

“Until today I was fine, but today I got a visit from my mother. I already told you about her and about my brother Philip. Well, my mother got married to Derrick Dime-dealer, the richest rodent in the world. Now she has her sights set on Philip and if there is one person I would not want him to be with, it’s my mother. If you still want to fulfill your end of the bargain, it would be wise to move swiftly.”

“Why do you hate your mother so much? Is it something that happened between you two?”

“She was using her kids for her own gain, and I don’t like being taken advantage of. I always wanted to be a movie star, but when my mother told me that only her sons would get the necessary education for something that big I decided to leave home and start a new life of my own. Besides, me and my mother were starting to dislike each other more and more and I knew it was only a matter of time before she kicked me out of her house. So I thought I should act first and have the opportunity to take some stuff with me... like Philip.”

“Are you sure that you could offer Philip a better life than your mother? It's not just because you two don’t get along?” Chip wanted to know. He had made a promise, but he wasn’t going to get involved in a fight where both of them wanted Philip just so the other couldn’t have him.

“I’m positive that my mother doesn’t love Philip at all. The only thing that makes her happy is money. I’d take care of Philip like he was my own child, and you can rest assured that I won’t neglect him like my mother would.”

“Okay Mercy, I’ll see what I can do for you, but I can’t promise you anything.”

It was yet another boring day for Philip at the orphanage. He was sitting alone in a corner while all others were running around and playing games. Philip was about five years old. He was a chipmunk and wore a blue shirt with a horizontal red stripe and a set of glasses on his nose. Philip had always felt lonely living in the orphanage, and no one had ever even told him who his parents were. He kept thinking about himself until suddenly he was covered by a shadow of someone standing in front of him. He looked up to see a chipmunk in a bomber jacket and fedora looking down at him.

“Are you Philip?” He asked. Philip just nodded. “Your sister sent me here to talk to you.” Chip continued, a little uncertainly. The little boy was immediately full of attention.

“I have a sister!? What’s her name? How old is she? What does she look like? Is she nice? Does she like me? Are you her boyfriend?”

Chip held out his hand in front of him. “Hold it, hold it. I can only answer one question at a time. Now, what do you want to know?”

“I want to know my family name, they've never told me. I don’t happen to be the long lost son of a queen, do I?”

Chip wanted to know how such big thoughts could get in the head of such a little kid. “You’re not the son of royalty.” Chip told him. “But you’re pretty close” he thought to himself. “Your full name is Philip Stoneturner.” Chip answered his question and hoped the name didn’t ring a bell. “Just promise me you won’t tell anyone here about your family name, okay?” Philip smiled and crossed his fingers.

“Promise.” He said, still smiling broadly. Chip was already starting to like this kid. “What can you tell me about my sister?” He asked.

Chip was little unsure where to start, one wrong word on his part and he could blow everything for Mercy. “Her name is Mercy Stoneturner, she's a few years older than you, almost an adult. She’s stunningly beautiful, but she can be tricky. She fooled me with that a few times but now that I know her a little better I must say she is a nice person, you just don’t want to get on her bad side. She had quite some trouble last time she showed that side of her and she still has to work through some of the consequences. But you can rest assured that she loves you.”

“Can we visit her sometime?”

Chip had not forgotten what Mercy had told him before he left. “I think that might not be such a good idea at the moment. She's having some trouble right now and she has to decide carefully whether or not it's okay for you to visit. I’ll tell you when she's made that decision. But whatever she chooses, you should know she loves you, no matter what.” For the rest of the visit the kid just asked questions like “are you two like those soap actors on TV?” or “does she wear make-up?”. Chip answered them as well as he could, but was relieved when he could finally leave because the little one just kept asking him questions. Finally, Chip decided that he had to get going.

“Only one more stop and I can go home.” Chip thought. He was already exhausted and after this next stop he wanted to get home as soon as possible so he could take a short nap before it was time for dinner.

Back at HQ Monty had already started cooking, so Chip could forget about resting when he got home. Suddenly someone knocked on the kitchen door and Monty, though irritated, opened up.

“I told you Dale, me master work isn’t a museum piece - ” Monty was surprised it wasn’t Dale but Gadget who was at the door.

“Monty, I’m worried about Chip. He hasn’t returned yet from his visit and it’s starting to get late.”

“Don’t worry about old Chipper, lass. People like him just want to get out and have fun, like going to the library. Why, I remember when I took part in that Yoga competition in Jakarta. Me against a group of Hindu monks. I won that one with me eyes closed!”

“Are you sure I shouldn’t go out and see if I can find him?”

“I wouldn’t advise you to do that, luv. It’s already starting to get dark out there and he’ll probably show up soon anyway. Just get back to your inventions and I’ll give a yell when he’s back.”

Chip was back at the prison and told Mercy about his visit to the orphanage.

“So you told him to be patient, like I asked?”

“Sure did, but he just kept asking questions. I admit he is cute though.”

“So that’s why you're late, the sun is already going down. Even with all the car smog I have no trouble seeing the outside.”

“Is there anything else I can do for you? I’ll be going home after this visit, but I can always handle it tomorrow.”

“Well maybe you can visit Philip again tomorrow, I’m sure he's already missing you.”

“Have you decided whether or not I should tell your brother that you're in prison? He seemed a little disappointed when I told him he’d have to wait until you decided and I don’t want him to worry about you too much. The sooner he knows the truth, the faster you'll know if he wants a criminal for a sister. I don’t want to rush you but you must know that as a Ranger I don’t have all day to help you two out of the fire.”

“No Chip, I can understand that this is taking up a lot of time for you. I have been thinking about it for some time now. It was without doubt the most difficult decision I had to make.” She sighed and carefully sat down on her bed. “I don’t want to keep my own brother waiting for too long. And because Anne-Mary is already putting her full attention toward him, I have to act quickly and take the chance that he doesn’t want me. There is also the risk that he loves my mother more than me just because she is married to Dime-dealer. But I won’t be able to keep my years in prison from him anyway, he'll figure it out if I lie to him, and even if he didn't, I couldn’t rest easy knowing I kept that kind of secret from my own brother. Tell him that I’m a criminal and that I’m sorry about it. I love him, even if he doesn’t love me. But the last thing I want you to do is tell him that his mother is rich. You know that children are sometimes seduced by money to buy their dream toys, candy and friends. But money can’t buy you love, and love is something he will never get if he lives with my mother and Derrick. I doubt he'll ever live in peace there. Knowing my mother, she’ll get divorced soon but the alimony, even if it might be a low percentage, will be so high she can still live her life with more money than she can ever spend. But she is spoiled, arrogant, mean and the way she handles her children is dreadful! I know I’m not Philip’s real mom, and I might not have the money to buy him everything he sees, but I’ll do anything in my power just to make him happy. I would give my life to ensure his happiness. I hope you understand that Chip, because Philip is the only thing that keeps me going in here. If it were not for him I would have already given up everything and committed suicide.”

“I understand you are having a hard time Mercy, and I’ll do what I can to get you two together. I can’t guarantee anything, but I promise I'll try, and Chip Maplewood never breaks his promise.”

“Oh thank you so much.” She said, almost whispering. She walked up to Chip and looked him right in the eyes. To Chip it was just like in the Burly Rat; he was unable to resist her charms. Only this time he knew he wasn’t going to get in trouble. Mercy embraced him and in only a few seconds she had Chip under her influence again. She cried softly and planted her lips right on those of Chip. He only half realized what was going on but he knew this was different from when he was in the sewer side bar or the beauty parlor. This was no flirting; she meant it seriously, whatever ‘it’ was. Mercy felt so relieved from the inside that she didn’t realize she actually kissed him against his own will, again. Later she would kick herself from letting go of herself so easily but at the moment her only thought was her, Philip and Chip. Everyone else meant nothing to her and she continued holding him there. The kiss lasted minutes, maybe hours. Both of them were too dazed to mind it, but when Chip started to realize what he was doing he panicked for a moment, although he was careful not to let Mercy notice. But only a moment later he relaxed again. There was no danger here, no henchmen who could drag him off if he fainted or knock him out from behind. He wondered, did he actually enjoy it or was it one of Mercy’s feminine abilities? Suddenly a noise brought Mercy back to reality. It was a normal prison sound but just enough to disrupt her trance.

“Oh, eh - Bye.” She said softly and shyly waved him goodbye. Chip left, not really feeling like himself. Both flattered and confused at the same time. But whatever it was, he survived. Just when he left, Mercy blushed, a little late. She took a picture out from under her shirt she had stored there for safekeeping. On it was Chip in his most heroic pose. Mercy had secretly taken it from a magazine when the guards and other prisoners weren't watching. She kept it with her so she had something to remember him by. She heard footsteps through the hall. She kissed the picture and put it back under her shirt. Then she awaited what other horrors jail had in store for her. It had started raining and a storm was brewing over the large city with a skyscraper skyline.

Even with the cold of the night, Chip had a warm feeling inside, maybe a little too warm. When he entered HQ he was welcomed by Dale who was reading another comic book.

“Hey Chip, what has been keeping you out for so long? Someone rob a candy store?” The childish chipmunk then noticed something was not completely right with his friend. Chip was totally exhausted and breathed heavily.

“Chip, are you alright? How many fingers do you see?” He asked and held up his entire hand. No reply. Dale was starting to get worried. What had happened to his old friend? Was he sick?

Monty was surprised at the door flying open and dropped his newest culinary catastrophe out of shock. He turned around to see Dale. He wanted to angrily tell the chipmunk that he had just ruined a day of cooking, but Dale was quicker to speak his mind.

“Chip's not looking so good! His head feels red-hot and he has trouble breathing. He's barely able to stand on two legs and doesn’t even answer when I ask him something!” Monty was shocked for a moment and almost thought this wasn't for real. Monty followed Dale to Chip who was still standing around, not really aware of his surroundings. Monty helped him over to the pincushion chair and forced him to sit down. He checked his temperature, blood pressure and other medical signs of well being. None of them looked good.

“I think the lad developed a fever or something. I haven’t been so down ever since I caught malaria at the coast of Mosquito. We should bring him to bed and let him rest, and if he hasn’t improved by morning, then we have a reason to worry.” Dale and Monty followed up on the advice of the elder mouse and helped the detective chipmunk to bed. They arranged for some cooling by opening a window and putting a washcloth on his forehead. They then left him alone and hoped that some sleep would cure his weakened state.

“Is he gonna be alright?” The chipmunk in Hawaiian shirt asked the oldest member of the Rangers.

“What can I say? Your friend is a tough nut to crack and it surprises me he got sick at all. Chipper can survive this, I know he can.”

“Are you sure, Monty?”

“Well, not really. But if we worry ourselves sick we'll have no-one to take care of us but Zipper and Gadget...”

“I just hope you can help him Monty, I never really liked the thought of Chip in a hospital.”

In the northern part of the city, in an abandoned steel mill a large group of rodents had stopped to inspect the place.

“This looks like the perfect place to start our operations.” An old mouse dressed in only a gray vest and brown pants said in a soft and weak voice. He had gray fur and his eyebrows were already white with age.

“Dan 'Faker', you get a few goons to work on this place to prepare a base of operations, you know how important this is for us.”

“Of course master.” A mouse dressed in a black cape and armor agreed while breathing heavily. “We will lure those pitiful worms to the dark side so they can construct your trap.”

“I still haven’t gotten used to that obsession of his.” He told another henchman, a rat dressed in an Armani suit, black hat with white band and an evil smirk.

“I got some more informazione on the local crime fighting forces.” The rat told the elder. “Next to the always nauseating AP we also got some better informazione on the 'Rescue Rangers'.”

“Ah, yes. The Rescue Rangers, I heard a lot about them.” The old mouse replied. “So, what do you got for me?”

“Their group is made up out of five members. A chipmunk named Chip Maplewood, a skillful detective and leader. Another chipmunk, Dale, who seems to be a weak link in their armor. Gadget, an inventor that is a serious threat to us if we are not careful. A mouse named Monterey Jack who has a lot of experience under his belt. And a small but not to be underestimated fly named Zipper. We also heard that Gus is currently in this town and that his son has a night club in this city.”

“Sounds interesting, Luigi. That means we have to change our plans to include those other figures. But you know what our first steps are. I trust you can handle all of that.”

“Si, but I still think we shouldn’t let those bambinos do our dirty work. If they had taken their mission seriously we would have already taken the city.”

“From what I hear, those Rangers are not to be underestimated.” The older mouse warned him. “It is groups like these that cause problems in plans that were so brilliantly thought up. That’s why I personally intend to neutralize them once and for all.”

Another day in prison had passed and Mercy was resting on her bed. Staying in this jail was horrible for her. Patricia constantly caused her trouble while Mercy was unable to do anything. A few days ago when she was cleaning the cantina she had again taken out her picture of Chip and spend a few moments watching it. She had tucked it away again she resumed working, but after a few moments she was handling the broom as if it was a dancing partner. She kept fantasizing about her and Chip dancing that she hadn’t noticed Patricia who was talking to one of the guards. She bumped into her and that was enough to completely change Patricia’s mood from cheery to apocalyptic hate. Mercy had to use the broom as a defensive weapon while backing off from her. Unfortunately she stepped into a bucket and lost her balance. She fell to the ground and picked herself up as fast as she could and ran away from the raging prison guard. She ran right into the hands of a few other guards who, fortunately, though that it was wrong to just beat up prisoners because they bump into you and they made an attempt to stop her. However Patricia was too slippery for them and reached Mercy quickly. She thrusted her baton right into Mercy’s stomach, causing her to bend over. Patricia then hit her on her back and caused her to fall to the ground, after which she planted her heel on Mercy’s back and kicked her side. The other guards had separated them and tried to calm their colleague while one of them brought Mercy away. She still remembered how painful that experience was and it took her some time before she healed.

But that was certainly not the only time she had trouble with Patricia. Another time she was responsible for cooking dinner and had to peel potatoes, and once again couldn’t resist thinking about Chip and taking out his picture. When later everyone complained the food tasted like rubbish Patricia was quick to point in her direction, as if she knew Mercy was responsible. That didn’t really improve her relationship with the other prisoners and Patricia took her apart for a small ‘talk’. It turned out that Patricia let her actions and baton speak for her and ended up with more bruises and wounds. She was unable to sleep that night because of the pain. Naturally, it was almost impossible to stay awake for her the next day even with some coffee. Resulting in more irritation and beatings from Patricia.

Worst of all was when Mercy took a shower and left her clothes unprotected in the open. A couple of the prisoners who were still angry because Mercy ruined their appetite decided to get even and had put both sneezing powder and itching powder in her prison uniform. Then they hid behind one of the lockers and carefully watched how Mercy liked it. Sure enough, when Mercy had put on the shirt she started sneezing and began to feel itchy all over her body. The two responsible began laughing and Mercy finally noticed the two guys who weren’t even supposed to be in this room. She quickly put two and two together and gave them a very angry look. But then she noticed one of them had taken her picture of Chip. The two began teasing her about it and laughed even more. Mercy then hammered one of them on his head repeatedly and tried to get her picture back from him, but the other took Mercy’s hind leg and threw her against one of the lockers, causing it to fall over. Mercy slumped to the ground but quickly recovered. She dashed into the one who had thrown her and punched him in his face, knocking him out. She then kicked the other in his weak spot then planted her knee in his face when he bent over. She took the picture from him while he slumped to the ground as well and put it back where she usually stored it. However, Patricia had heard the commotion and since she was one of the few guards allowed to enter the woman’s showers she found Mercy there, with the two others who she just single handedly defeated. Mercy wasn’t aware she was not alone and was shocked when she was suddenly hit in the back by Patricia’s baton. She was then pushed into the direction of one of the benches and she fell over it. When she got up Patricia grabbed her throat and swung her club right in Mercy’s face. Mercy took a few steps back onto the wet shower floor over which she slipped and fell with her head against the wall. The next thing she remembered was that she was in the first aid post and her head injury was being taken care of. It only took a few hours before she could get back in her clothes and leave but she noticed her picture was missing again. For a moment she feared Patricia had taken it from her and that she would punish Mercy for taking it out of a magazine that wasn’t hers and because she loved someone who was ‘serving the law instead of breaking it’. But then the medic gave her the picture she was missing and just smiled.

Mercy had considered about how this accident could have taken place. There was supposed to be a guard stationed near the showers at morning and evening to prevent anyone from entering the wrong place while people where showering. The only way a guy could get permission to enter the woman’s restrooms was by asking the guard on duty. Mercy reasoned the most likely scenario was that the two were lucky that it was Patricia’s turn to watch the woman’s showers and she didn’t mind the two playing tricks on ‘lower life forms’. This gave Mercy an even better reason to worry, as the two could have tried just more than a trick, they could have seriously harassed or attacked her or even worse. Mercy was a very streetwise girl, and she’d been able to endure a lot while working for Thomas but some things were a bit to dangerous for her, and she was lucky last time she was to enraged to be stopped, otherwise the two could have overpowered her and what would follow was to horrific for Mercy to think about. This was yet another reason for her to oppose Patricia.

Mercy sighed deeply. Her time in this prison would be very painful and humiliating. She wanted to get out of this place as soon as possible, out of fear she might not survive her three-year term. But she knew that it was impossible for her to get out. And if she tried and failed that would only make it worse. All she could do was hope for a miracle to happen that would set her loose, preferably as soon as possible.

Rensen was enjoying a hotdog from Rob’s snack bar while discussing the latest news.

“So you policemen found new interesting cases?” He asked in his usual strange accent.

“Nah, just the usual junk. More like solving family problems and judging marble competitions, nothing important. My current job is S. Nutcracker who is looking for a few of his comrades.”

“That sounds familiar to Rob.” The mouse said while he pondered about it for a moment. “Now Rob knows! I am friend with Ans Nutcracker, who has a son named Steve.” Rob then proceeded to make himself a hotdog with extra ketchup.

“So you know them, right?”

Rob took a bite out of his hot-dog so the ketchup went flying right into Rensen’s face.

“Yes, Rob knows.” Rob answered with his mouth full. “Ans and Steve have some difficulty getting along friendly lately, I hope they have become friends again.”

“Maybe it’s time we helped them get together again.” Rensen stated and rose to his feet. “I got another friend who might be able to help us a little. Us three could try to organize something that gets them back together. I know it might not be a good idea to stick your nose in someone’s problem but it’s better than sitting around and waiting until they finally solve the problem on their own.”

“Rob is not going to stick his nose in something he is unfamiliar with. But you are right that we should help them a little.”

“All right. Tomorrow I’ll bring along my friend and we’ll see what we can do for them. We are not going to let this family fall apart if we can turn the tides.”

“I’m not sure if turning tides is good idea. Tides are wild and unpredictable. I think we should just help Steve and his mother Ans, that’s much safer.”

Next morning at Ranger HQ, Dale and Monty were still worried about Chip. They had told Zipper and Gadget about his situation, thus ruining their moods as well. Monty had already checked on Chip and noticed his status hadn’t improved much. But as long as Monterey Jack could remember the things he learned on his travels he wasn’t going to give up easily.

“I learned this medicine from the terrific Terry Thomson from Terschelling. The way to cure terrible illnesses.”

Gadget and Dale were rather worried about what Monty was mixing up. To Dale it looked like the cauldron of a witch. To Gadget it looked like it could explode with every ingredient Monty added. The only one who wasn’t worried was Zipper who only smiled, either because he already knew how effective the stuff was or because he was just hungry. Monty added the last ingredient and filled a bowl full of the stuff.

“Let’s see how Chipper will react to this medicine.” He said and brought it to Chip who was still in his room. Chip’s headache immediately increased when Monty slammed the door open.

“Here’s something that’ll cure you of that nasty virus.” He said and gave the bowl to Chip who drank nearly half of its contents before spitting it out and dropped the bowl with the rest of it on the floor.

“Are you trying to poison me?” He shouted angrily.

“That wasn’t to drink Chipper, if you told me you’re thirsty I could have prepared some tomato soup with cheese. You were supposed to breathe deep so it would clear your head of whatever is spooking around in there.” Chip suddenly felt like an idiot. He had heard of a method were someone would add several herbs to a bowl of hot water and breathe in the vapors. His mother had used that method a few times when she was ill.

“I’ll just get a new bowl for you.” Monty said, picking up the one Chip had just dropped.

It was a new day in prison and Mercy was taking a refreshing shower to get ready for yet another day of misery. She had tried to be more careful after yesterday’s events. This time there was both good news and bad news for her. The good news was that she didn’t find anything tricky in her prison uniform. The bad news was that she couldn’t find it at all.

“Really funny.” She huffed and wrapped a towel around herself and entered the cantina where most prisoners were already eating breakfast.

“Okay, who’s the joker that took my clothes!” She demanded with water dripping from her fur. Several people in the room snickered and grimaced. Apparently most of them really thought it was funny to see a female prisoner with only a towel covering herself who was completely wet. Mercy was about to shout something in reply to those who were laughing at her when she suddenly heard a bonk behind her. She turned around to see Patricia who apparently slipped over one of the puddles of water in the hallway. And if looks could kill, Mercy would be nothing more than a large smoking crater. Mercy backed off until she bumped into a table.

“Get away from me, troublemaker.” One of the prisoners said and poked a fork in Mercy’s behind.

“Yeah, beat it. Go dance with your admirer.” Another said and pushed her in Patricia’s direction.

“Just great. How are you going to get out of this one, Mercy?” She thought to herself.

“Hey Mercy, aren’t you going to poison our meals again?” One of the prisoners shouted. Mercy turned in his direction and was about to tell him she never planned something like that when she was hit on the head from behind by Patricia. Everything went black before her eyes and she fell to the ground and lay there unconscious.

A few hours later she woke up in the First Aid post again.

“This is becoming a habit for me.” She thought to herself, irritated.

“Feeling better?” The medic asked her.

“Yeah, thanks. Although I’m starting to get sick of waking up here. Why does Patricia always has to be so violent? Why doesn't anyone try to get the attention of some sort of bureau of oversight? The way prisoners are treated here is barbaric!” Mercy was starting to get a feeling that the rest of the jail didn’t care about their prisoners either.

“That bureau you mentioned is corrupt. Pat’s uncle works there and he has the same ideas about criminality as Patricia. So he keeps everything that happens here top secret. Neither of them wants to lose their job and they're careful not to upset anyone who has the power to stop them. So if a prisoner complains because he or she is treated bad Patricia’s uncle dismisses it as someone who lost his marbles. If the prison staff charges Patricia then her uncle would handle that and then it’s a losing game. As long as mister Strongarm runs his business at the oversight Patricia is above the law.”

“How is it possible that the AP’s justice system is so corrupt? The chief of police must also be a jerk if he lets this happen.”

“Lass, don’t worry about how to overthrow the AP. If you behave yourself from now on you’ll be fine.”

“But even if I don't do anything wrong Patricia still finds reasons to beat the stuffing out of me! And if I try to resist it gets even worse! There is no way I’ll be able to just put this behind me, Patricia will lose her job when I can get the attention of the judges!”

“I’d like to know how you are going to do that. There were more who tried to do that but all of them failed.” Mercy herself knew full well that is very difficult to accomplish that but she was so angry that she didn’t care. She proceeded to put on her clothes again but noticed something wasn’t right.

“Is this a new uniform? And where is my picture?”

“Patricia took it with her, as well as your uniform.” The medic answered.

“This keeps getting better.” Mercy complained and left the First Aid post. But before she could get back to her normal schedule she was halted by Patricia who didn’t seem very friendly.

“You were not supposed to carry pictures along in your uniform. If we would allow something like that there would be pockets in the clothes our prisoners wear. Do you see any of those? I don’t, and you also seem to think you can just take articles and pictures out of magazines we have here. Others should be able to read them as well, and it is very arrogant to just take it without even asking permission.”

“You would have said ‘NO’ anyway, so what’s the point?” Mercy spat back, not in the mood for whatever else Patricia might have in store for her.

“And I thought our regulations made it clear you are not supposed to take things to your cell, nothing! And we don’t make exceptions for anything or anyone. That’s three missteps for you today Mercy 'Mischief'. And from one of our prisoners I hear you planned to poison our food supply, a serious crime.”

“I wasn’t even planning that! He’s just trying to get me in trouble.” Mercy defended herself, but predictably it didn’t make a difference, Patricia looked like she didn’t believe Mercy at all.

“I think I’ll have to talk to my superiors and try to find a solution to your bad behavior because things like this cannot be tolerated. I got the feeling I’m not clear to you and need be stricter. Maybe I can make myself clear with a more severe punishment.” Mercy absolutely didn’t like were this was going. She had been boiling from the inside for quite a few days now and desperately needed to let it out. Maybe if she made herself clear she could accomplish two things in one: let out her frustration and show Patricia she had enough of the way she was being treated here.

“What would you say if...” Patricia was cut short by an angry Mercy.

“That’s enough! You are absolutely rotten to the core, you stop at nothing to cause pain and suffering for people. Anyone on the wrong side of the law is your victim just because you think no one cares about them. But even prisoners have rights in this country! I’m not afraid of you anymore! It doesn't matter what I do, I’ll get punished anyway. So if you say I behave badly, it’s time I added some meaning to your words, fiend!”

“Why Mercy, I understand what you're trying to say.” Patricia said, a bit too friendly, and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. Mercy was confused. Did she finally show Patricia that what she was doing was wrong?

“Yes, I know you are having a difficult time. Not that I care a bit!” Patricia snapped and then in a quick move she twisted Mercy’s arm behind her back and pushed it up. Mercy screamed out as she felt a sharp pain in her left arm. She didn’t resist at all and now realized that even if you can muster up the courage to speak, it's not worth the consequences. Not with Patricia Strongarm who now seemed like a monster to Mercy. It was impossible to reason with her and resistance was futile. Mercy reasoned that Patricia was worse than those space cyborgs that assimilated everything they could. Patricia then kicked Mercy’s back causing her even more pain. She hit Mercy on the head. Finally, Patricia left Mercy alone and she slowly slumped to the ground, but she wasn't unconscious. Mercy felt more humiliated, angered and helpless than ever and slowly got up, not trying to use her left arm. She made her way to the First Aid post again and explained the medic what had just happened to her a few moments ago.

“This doesn’t look good.” He said while studying Mercy’s arm. “This is quite a serious dislocation. Hold on, this will hurt a little.” With that the medic put Mercy’s arm back in place again. Sure enough it hurt, a lot. But Mercy reasoned it was better than walking around like a freak.

“It can’t go on like this any longer. One day she’ll kill me with her ‘punishment’.” Mercy thought while she left the First Aid post again. This time there was no Patricia Strongarm around who could cause her pain. The only one she saw was her friend Liz “Sharky”.

“Hey, wait for me.” She shouted and ran to catch up with her.

“How are you feeling after what happened this morning?” Liz asked her companion.

“Bad, the pain from yesterdays beating hasn’t subsided yet and then I get beat up twice in a row.”

“Twice?” Liz halted and looked worried. “What was it this time? Have you seen the medic yet?”

“Well, the most serious part is fixed, a dislocated arm. But I can still feel it, and all the pain of the last few days.”

“Just be careful Mercy, you’ll end up dead if you continue trying to come up for your rights as a prisoner. You’re not making any progress and you only cause yourself trouble.”

“I’ll get hurt anyway, even if I do nothing.”

“You’ll only make it worse if you react to Pat’s torturing. Try to control your temper, that’s the best thing you can do.” Just then Patricia Strongarm approached the two and halted them. Mercy took a step back in case she was going to be abused again.

“Mercy 'Mischief', I’m here under orders to tell you that you will be moved to another prison. It seems there is someone there who is eager to see you again.” Mercy didn’t have to think long about who Patricia was referring to. That was probably Thomas who she hoped never to see again.

“You are being moved because of your intolerable behavior. And if you think that means you've seen the last of me, think again. The authorities considered placing me in that jail before but finally they all agreed that I’m needed there. Don’t expect any sympathetic weakling guards in that jail, the more serious criminals are locked up there and that requires more seasoned guards like me. No time for goodbyes, you’ll be moved right now. And I’ll personally see to it. And if you even think about treating the guards there the same way you do with me you’ll learn what real pain is.” With that Mercy was escorted to an AP van to her new home for the next three years. She was considering whether or not she should commit suicide now but knew she wouldn’t get the chance to do that anyway.

“Out of the frying pan and into the fire.” She thought. “I can't possibly see how it could get worse.”

The next morning Rescue Ranger HQ was full of happiness again. It seemed that Chip’s illness was just a passing fever. Chip was ready for action again and the first thing he did after waking up was turn the news on, not even aware he was ill just one day ago. But after Monty and Dale had commented “Hey, you’re better!” he realized he had been laying down more than twenty-four hours.

“You recovered faster than that bloke I met who went mountain climbing in Switzerland. I really had a bonzer time up there.” Monty commented.

“You’re right, Monty. The air in the high mountains of Europe seems to have a healing effect on people, both mental and physical.” Gadget explained.

“Who said anything about mountains? The cheese is what makes the trip worthwhile. I ate an entire stockpile of Swiss cheese while I was there. Too bad that cheese factory had to get in financial trouble only a little while later, the cheese was really good.” Gadget was quite shocked to hear Monty ate an entire load of cheese, which likely caused that company to go bankrupt.

“How could you? Even if you have cheese attacks, that's not right! Just think about how many people might have lost their jobs because of your actions!”

“Well, I - it’s just that...” Monty was saved by Chip.

“Look at what this article says!” The detective chipmunk said in disbelief and showed his companions the newspaper.

“Crikey, that’s horrible!” The big mouse said after reading a few lines.

“What’s horrible? Not a candy factory bombing, I hope.” Dale joined the conversation.

“I’ll read it out loud.” The Australian said, still a bit shocked.

Execution of criminal

Today the infamous seductress Mercy “Mischief” Stoneturner will be moved to the East prison facility for execution. She had already been charged with seduction and a seriously violent crime. She was sentenced for three years of forced labor a week ago but later an order was given for execution. Arnold Strongarm explains that his niece Patricia Strongarm, who works as a guard at the Manhattan prison facility, reported several cases of harassment and violence against prison staff and prisoners. The execution is to take place at the East prison facility at 1:00 PM.

“This is absolutely horrifying!” Gadget exclaimed. Chip quickly checked the time at one of the watches that hung on the wall. It only a half hour before Mercy would be executed! He ran out of the door, desperately fighting a battle against the clock. But one yell from Monty was enough to stop him in his tracks, losing his balance and falling down to the branch below.

“You’re already too late, mate! That was yesterday’s newspaper.” Chip’s jaws dropped. In an instant he was back in Ranger headquarters to see if Monty was right. And right he was, it indeed was an old newspaper. Chip’s heart skipped a couple of beats as he read this. He then dropped to his knees, tears forming in his eyes.

“How could they do something like this?” He thought to himself.

“Easy mate, there was nothing you could do. You were ill, and you know it would have been impossible for you to reach the East side before the execution.” Monty tried to comfort his old friend, without any success.

“Maybe a new case would cheer you up.” Dale advised. “Today’s newspaper reports a mass prison break on the East side.”

“Like I don’t have enough to deal with!” Chip said furiously while snatching the newspaper out of Dale’s hand and crumbled it with all his might. He then threw it to the ground and stomped out of headquarters, slamming the door shut.

Gus woke up and checked the alarm clock next to his bed. He saw he had been sleeping the entire morning, not that it surprised him. He had been busy trying to comfort his wife who seemed quite depressed over losing her son. It had been a week ago that Ans and Steve had been discussing Steve’s past and the results left both sides hating each other. But only a little while later Ans began to hate herself for what she had done. She had alienated her only child and even though it was a week ago she still cried over it like she would never see her son again. As if she had lost him forever. It caused quite a lot of confusion and emotional pain. It left Ans without sleep at night and Gus desperately tried to cheer her up, but he felt he could use some support as well. His train of thought was de-railed when he heard a knock on the door of their hotel room. He put on his gray-blue shirt and walked toward the door while he yawned. When he opened up he saw a rat dressed totally in black. Gus recognized the style of his suit immediately. Either this man was visiting from Italy or he was a gangster, and Gus had a strong suspicion it was the latter. He quickly reached for his gun that he left on a stand. But he tripped over his own legs, crashing into the stand and the gun fell off, out the window. Gus realized he wouldn’t see his Desert Eagle again, not in one piece anyway, so he quickly grabbed a candelabra from the bookshelf. However when he turned to face the gangster he saw that he was both outranged and outgunned. The gangster was holding a rodent sized shotgun but for some reason didn’t fire it. The rat slowly advanced onto Gus and in a sudden move swung the back of his weapon at Gus. The chipmunk blocked it with the item he was holding but suddenly he felt a stinging pain in his neck. Then he saw that the watch the rat carried around his wrist was actually a dart launcher. Gus tried to pull the thing out but he was too late. In only a few seconds he blacked out.

Steve was thinking how he was going to get this done. Flora had been telling him he should apologize to his parents but Steve had always told her that he didn’t know how. Flora had been putting more and more pressure on him with every day that passed. Finally she had convinced Steve to go to the hotel and talk to his parents to work out this family crisis. He suddenly bumped into someone else, though. When he looked up to see who it was he saw a familiar face.

“Hey Chip! Why do you look so down, what happened?”

“Did you read yesterday’s newspaper? They executed Mercy, the girl from that underground bar, the one who sabotaged your court case. She’s dead, and I can't fulfill the promise I made to her.”

“Executed? Why?”

“According to the newspaper and the family Strongarm she was causing trouble in prison. But last time I saw her she told me she was the one who was being bullied around by others, especially by one of the members of the Strongarm family. She was too depressed to be planning her own ways to make others miserable.”

“Maybe she was faking. People like her seem to be very good in fooling good hearted people like you.”

“It’s still not right, and just when things started to get better. I almost got her and her little brother together again, something I promised her when she rescued me from Thomas and his gangsters. But now I have to tell the little kid his sister was executed by a corrupt police system.”

“You won’t get to tell him anything!” A voice suddenly called out. The two chipmunks turned around to see a caped mouse with body armor, all in black.

“Who or what are you!?” Chip demanded to know.

“I am called Dan 'Faker', submit to the dark side now and you will live.”

“If you ask me you’re just a lunatic who doesn’t know the difference between reality and film.” Steve stated.

“Steve, I totally agree with you but weirdoes like this could be dangerous, who knows what kind of tricks he has up his sleeve.” Chip warned the other chipmunk. “Ignoring them is the best way to save yourself problems.” He turned around but noticed that he was surrounded by a group of rodents who all looked like sci-fi henchmen.

“This was not our idea.” One of them said, obviously not liking his get-up.

“Surrender, or my troopers will finish you off!” The strange mouse demanded.

“Would you stop calling us troopers?” Another henchman asked embarrassed.

“And we aren’t supposed to kill them.” Another reminded their squad leader.

“I know perfectly well what the emperor wants, but I’m trying to add some drama to this scene.”

“I think we better do what he says Steve, it’s better than finding what they'll do if we refuse to cooperate.” Chip suggested.

“Yeah, but there is no telling what they'll do if we agree.” Steve reminded him.

“It’s probably just one of those sick camera gags where they want to see how we react to whatever they're going to do after this.”

“Your time is up, seize them!” With that two of the ‘troopers’ advanced on the two chipmunks and put a washcloth on both of their mouths. Chip and Steve were out cold in only a few seconds.

“Ah, chloroform, the best friend of a gangster.” One of the bad guys stated.

A few hours later someone knocked at the door of Rescue Ranger headquarters. Dale was the first one to open up and found it was Flora who needed their help.

“What’s up?” He asked while he let her in.

“It’s Steve, he disappeared. I sent him out to solve the dispute between him and his folks but he hasn’t returned yet. I checked the hotel where his parents currently rent a room but I couldn’t find anyone there.”

“Maybe he just went for a walk with them.” Monty suggested.

“No, I checked several times but I didn't see him or his parents. He would at least call me if it would take this long so I wouldn’t be worried. But I'm afraid he doesn’t even want to hear from me anymore. I guess pushed him too far and he left. I should never have told him that he is no longer welcome until he solved this dilemma, who knows what things might have happened to him!”

“Chip hasn’t returned yet either, I’m starting to get worried about him as well.” Gadget interjected.

“Maybe if we scout around in one of our planes we can find him or Steve.” Dale suggested.

Somewhere else in town, a middle-aged chipmunk was coming to his senses again.

“Ah, you’re awake. Nice to see you, Gus.” An unknown person said, someone who sounded very old.

“Who? What happened?” Gus asked, not really certain if he wanted an answer. He looked up to see a graying mouse standing a few meters away.

“My name is Alfonso Salamina, and you were knocked out in a fight.” The mouse answered Gus’ questions.

“How do you know my name? No no, let me guess, you're another one of those gangsters.”

“Not just an ordinary gangster my dear friend, I’m the reason our family lasted this long. I started out somewhere in Chicago, Illinois. I think it was somewhere in 1924 that I started my gang. Had a lot of success in the following years, and if not for you and your meddling family I would have been even more powerful.”

“What do you mean? Why do you hate us so much?” Gus finally had the chance to get those burning answers he always wanted and wasn’t going to let that opportunity sail by.

“Your sister-in-law, Bianca Pommern, worked at the Swiss-Austrian embassy. She was able to sniff out one of our plans that would undermine the trust between the two countries. In other words, it was revenge. She traveled to America on a diplomatic mission and to meet her sister, your wife. But I assume you knew that already, she had already told her sis she’d be coming, and we knew that as well. So when she got on American soil it was a piece of cake to make short work of her. Not only did we avenge our men in Austria, but also prevented American/Swiss/Austrian relations to grow stronger. You might not understand why we are so interested in middle Europe, but that's our business anyway, not yours.”

“What did my son have to do with all of this?” Gus demanded. He understood that Bianca upset these gangsters a lot by doing her job but it seemed totally unfair to take it out on his son.

“That was a warning to you and your relatives not to try anything funny against us. But seven years later the cops arrested our gang in Miami, and to prevent you from charging them with murder we asked you friendly like to leave. It helped, you and your rabble left, but then you had to start ratting us out when you reached California, something we didn’t appreciate. You should thank the American gun policies or you wouldn’t have survived long in there, same goes for Texas and the heart of our operations, Chicago. But since our hold on Washington and New York was so weak you were a lot safer there. But we did realize that we couldn’t let history repeat itself forever. So we sent a hit squad after you. But even they were unable to stop you. From stories I heard they did cause serious injury. But when you joined RBI any remote chance of killing you went out of the door. Now, though, we finally got you, and there will be no escape this time!” The old mouse smiled evilly and it made Gus feel uneasy.

“Wake up old man, you’re still dreaming! You’re too old to cause me any harm, and I stand much taller than average chipmunks. I can take you out in an instant.” Gus threatened him.

“Before you start beating the living daylight out of me, look behind you.” Gus did as he was told and saw what Salamina meant. It was Ans who was tied up and gagged, lying on a conveyer belt that ended in a furnace.

“Looks like the tables are turned, mister Nutcracker.” Alfonso said, imitating his favorite spy movie villain. “I always wanted to say that.”

Ans looked at Gus pleadingly, desperate for help.

“You can do two things: Kill me or rescue her. But I assure you that you won’t be able to carry out both of them. I have someone up above who will activate the conveyer belt, you won’t be able to eliminate me and rescue her at the same time. You can get her off of there but don’t expect me to wait until you finished so you can put an end to my existence. The choice is yours, will you save your love or rid this world of yet another sadistic maniac?” It didn’t take Gus long to answer that question. He quickly ran toward the conveyer belt as it was activated. He judged that he would have to hurry up because there was quite some distance between where he was a moment ago and the contraption itself. Just when Ans was starting to feel an intense heat near her feet she was pushed off by her husband.

“Thank you so much for saving me.” She said when Gus got the gag of her mouth.

“You know I’d do anything to save you. I might have run from him and his goons for years but I’m not about to let them hurt you.” Gus looked around and sure enough the mobster boss was gone, not that it surprised Gus at all.

“I think we should try to find a way out of this place before we stumble across any nasty traps.” Gus suggested and helped his wife up.

Somewhere else in the building another chipmunk recovered from a long sleep.

“What am I doing here?” He asked himself out loud as soon as he saw where he was.

“We brought you here, young Nutcracker.” Steve immediately recognized the heavy breathing voice.

“You again? Why are you doing this to me, mister bad movie villain impersonation?”

“I want to test your mettle, something I always do with rebel scum.” He said and raised a kendo stick. Steve noticed his walking cane was next to him as well and grabbed it quickly.

“Sorry, but that doesn’t use laser technology.” Steve informed his adversary.

“I know, but it’s better than nothing.” The mouse said, dropping his fake gasmask voice.

“So you want some sort of duel right?” Steve asked, barely knowing how the hero in this movie defeated the bad guys.

“That’s correct, infidel. But unfortunately there is no one to zap you with lightning bolts like in the movie. I guess throwing you in that pit over there will suffice.” He pointed toward a large hole in the ground that looked like it could be a very nasty fall indeed. Suddenly, looking at all the machinery, Steve knew where he was: the abandoned steel factory in the northern part of the city.

“Over my dead body. I’m too young to die.” Steve got ready to defend himself with his ‘weapon’. Although it was clear to Steve that this mouse had studied a few martial arts, his heavy body armor weighted him down made it much easier to avoid him. And physical strength wasn’t of much importance anymore when weapons are used, an attribute that balanced mice with other rodents. But Steve didn’t lose his natural agility and speed, which gave him an even bigger advantage over his opponent. On the other hand, Steve reasoned, this mouse was too strong and had body armor that would render many attacks useless. His only chance of winning was knocking him into the pit, a thought he didn’t like at all. Steve kept looking for another way to stop the mouse while keeping an eye on him to ensure he didn’t overpower him. He might be slower but his strength and sturdiness more than made up for that. Suddenly he got an idea and led his opponent over to the hole. Suddenly he hit him hard on his hand with the point of his walking cane. “Faker” screamed out in pain and let go of his stick. Steve quickly kicked it in the large gap and took his distance.

“Now you are like a wasp without its stinger.” Steve explained and smiled broadly.

“Not really, because when a wasp loses its stinger, it will regenerate so he can attack again. I won’t be disabled so easily, I can still try to push you in the hole instead. Face it; there is no escape from the dark side!”

Steve saw what the mouse meant. Disarming him would not be good enough to win; he had to eliminate him as well. And now that “Faker” had both hand free he could resort to unarmed fighting which could make him a more formidable opponent.

“Do I really have to murder someone to get out of here safely? I don’t want to do that! But I can’t keep this up forever, he’ll tire me out if I don’t stop him and then I’m certainly doomed.” Steve thought to himself until he spotted something. If he could play it right he would be able to stop “Faker” without having to kill him. Steve threw his walking cane up against an object above him.

“You missed, pitiful worm! Give in to the dark side now and you might survive.” Steve smiled as he saw his plan work perfectly. The mouse was too busy making threats to notice the hook swinging toward his head. It hit him directly on the back of his head, knocking him out cold. Steve dragged him away from the gap to prevent him from falling in if he awakened.

“Now I have to find a way out of this place before this creep wakes up.”

Mercy woke up with a headache.

“Ow, my head! What happened to me?” She suddenly remembered. The hissing of gas, the explosion that destroyed the doors of the van, her three ‘rescuers’. Rat Capone had smiled evilly at her and Mercy knew his intentions were just as bad as those of the others.

“You’se gonna bleed, Mercy!” Was all Thomas said as greeting. But fortunately the third one didn’t seem that violent, at least at the moment.

“NO! She must stay in one piece for our gauntlet.” A mouse that looked vaguely familiar to her. Suddenly Mercy recognized him from a science fiction movie, the one with space knights and robots. She now worried what he meant with ‘gauntlet’, but had a bad feeling in her stomach that she was going to find out real soon. Suddenly she heard moaning behind her and felt she was lying next to someone or something. She recognized the voice.

“Where am I?” The voice said and the person it belonged to stirred. Mercy knew who it was.

“What are you doing in my bed, Chip?” She asked, a little irritated. She liked Chip, but not enough for him to sneak in and snuggle up.

“Your bed? You said it was mine, mommy!” Chip replied and then remembered he no longer lived with his parents.

“I’m not your mommy! I’m the fool who saved you from certain death. I would at least expect some gratitude for that!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was you Mercy. I guess I’m not fully awake yet.”

“Well I’m not either, I suppose.”

“Understood. Can we be friends again now? I could use some help figuring out how to get this rope off.”


“That’s corretto.” A third voice said with an Italian accent. “You due are tied up. It’s part of the guanto I planned out for the two of you.”

“Guanto?” Mercy asked whoever was speaking, though she wasn’t in the mood for riddles right now.

“A guanto of survival specially designed for you due. We had to move a few objects around the facility, but it turned out according to plan.” The mysterious Italian resumed. “You due are tied up to each other for the first part of the guanto. It is quite simple for a couple of agile chipmunks. If you look over to you right you’ll see a barriera made out of lasers humans used to cut metal. They are enough to reduce you two to ashes. Avoid the lasers and when you get past them you’ll find the means to get more freedom in movimento.”

“One question.” Chip interrupted. “Why avoid those lasers if we can try to cut the ropes with them?”

“That is a lot to risk your life over.” The Italian explained. “And I got the means to rendere incapace the laser fence, so play along the rules or I’ll make my own rules. Now have fun together.” With that there was silence. Mercy tried to get a better look at her surroundings and realized something.

“Hey, I’m in my yellow dress again! Someone must have taken that prison uniform I was wearing.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, how come you’re still alive? I thought you were executed.” Chip asked his teammate.

“Executed? I never knew I was going to be killed.” Mercy replied, quite shocked to hear someone was planning to put an end to her life beside Thomas.

“Yesterday’s newspaper had an article that explained that you would be punished with death for your behavior in jail.” Chip explained to her.

“I never knew they would be executing me.” Mercy said, not yet recovered from the shock. “They told me I was going to be moved to another prison but they never said I would be put to death! How could they do something like that?” Mercy’s eyes started to get watery as she realized she had almost been killed without ever getting a chance to make up for her crimes again.

“Think, Mercy. Did you do anything that gave them a good reason to issue an execution?” Chip was intent on searching this out to the bottom when he got out of this place. He was going to investigate the execution anyway, but now he had a witness who could assist him in finding proof that there were AP officers that were corrupt.

“No, not that I know of. I angered many of the other prisoners and got on the bad side of one of the guards but I didn't think that was enough to issue execution. I was more like a victim than a troublemaker. You know I wouldn’t want to make it any worse.” Mercy felt like crying and didn’t hold it back.

“Take it easy, I believe you. But maybe we should turn our attention to this ‘test’. The longer we stay here the smaller our chances are we ever get a chance at stopping the maniacs behind this.”

“Right.” Mercy replied, trying to sound brave, but her crying gave her away. Both of them got up and walked over to the laser fence.

“Now be very careful and follow my lead. I’ll tell you what to do.” Chip said, taking the lead. They traveled through the laser field carefully, both of them careful for any beam that could incinerate them. A minute passed, but to Mercy it felt like hours. They finally reached a safe spot where they found a metal shard sticking out of the wall. They carefully cut the ropes and were free, but noticed another obstacle in free movement. Both of them were kept together by shackles.

“I almost forgot.” The Italian said. “I wanted to make sure you due cooperated so I used these on you two. Only if you work together you will survive and find the uscita to this place. But only if you cooperate, and that’s what I call a challenge. You not only put your own life at risk, but that of your partner as well. Both of you have a difficulty with that, I know. Mercy never really accepted help from others, you always worked alone. And Chip can get quite annoyed by people who don’t act like him in times like this. Dale would know that, right?”

“How come you know so much about us?” Chip asked. He got a strong suspicion this person was either quite good at stalking or had been looking into documents that weren’t his business.

“I’m surrounded by experts in stalking, stealing and bribing. With those skills you can find out a lot about your opponent.”

“Who are you anyway?” Mercy demanded to know.

“Sorry signorina, I almost forgot that. You can call me Luigi. But my brother’s name is not Mario.”

Mercy turned around and was quite disappointed to see the lasers were deactivated. She could have used them to cut the chains that were holding them two together.

“Now, move over to the next challenge, I don’t have all day.” Luigi commanded.

Mercy and Chip did what they were told and reached a room with only a hole in the floor, filled with water. On the other end of the room was a similar hole, but a fence kept the two from reaching it and the exit.

“I hope you due are in for a swim, because this part will requires it. Find the exit to the underwater labyrinth before you run out of breath. But make sure your friend doesn’t run out of air, either.”

“Well, it doesn’t look like we have much choice.” Chip said and got ready to dive in. “Are you ready Mercy?” She just nodded and took a deep breath. Chip did as well and they jumped in and Chip immediately took the lead, exploring the left tunnel. When he finally reached the end however, it became clear to him this one was a dead end.

“Nice start.” He thought to himself then felt a jerk on his right arm. He looked up to see Mercy who pointed to her swollen cheeks. Chip got the message and swum back to the start and helped Mercy out of the water. She immediately let out the breath she was holding.

“This is more exhausting then I thought.” She said. “Just look at my dress, it’s totally wet!”

“And I get the feeling it will only get worse.” Chip said glumly.

“Thank you, that really cheered me up.” She replied sarcastically.

“Let’s just try it again, sooner or later we’ll find the way out of that maze.” The two prepared for another dive and went straight forward and made a couple of turns until they saw the end of the tunnel where they could get out. But then, Chip realized he was doing most of the swimming, Mercy wasn’t cooperating. He turned around to see that she unconscious, not refusing to help. Chip gasped, momentarily forgetting he was underwater. His lungs quickly filled with water and he himself began feeling dizzy. He quickly took Mercy in his arms and tried to reach the surface. Somehow, he made it and tried to get fresh air in his lungs and the water out as fast as he could. He bent down over Mercy and made an attempt to wake her. She was unresponsive.

“Good thing I did that CPR training when I had the chance.” Chip thought desperately to himself as he bent down and tried to breathe air into her lungs. Mercy stirred and then opened her eyes to see a figure with his lips on hers. She punched him in the gut out of self-defense then threw him off of her.

“Is that what I get for helping you?” Chip asked, still a little stunned from Mercy’s forceful blow.

“Oops, sorry Chip. Instinctive reaction, after what I've been through in the past. I didn’t realize at first that you were trying to save me. Let's try that again.” She said, grinning, and quickly grabbed him and kissed him right on his mouth before he could react.

“Okay, okay, you’re alive already.” He said, a little embarrassed, when he found his voice again.

“Where now?” Mercy asked when they reached a T-crossing.

“I think I’m needed again.” Luigi interrupted before Chip could make a reply to Mercy’s question. “You can go due ways. If you go left you will find the key to the shackles that keep you due bound together. If you go right you can go ahead and try to reach the end point. No matter what you choose, you due will get rid of your last connection anyway; it only takes longer if you due go right. So actually this is a chance to get rid of those nasty shackles quickly. But don’t think I just left the key there; I have a couple of trained spiders there who are quite hungry. If you try to retrieve the key they will try to get their dinner. It’s up to you due if you want to risk it or not.”

“Sounds dangerous, what do you think?” Mercy asked, and shivered.

“I say we go for it.” Chip decided and straightened his hat.

“Are you sure? I’m deadly afraid of those monsters.”

“Sometimes you just have to face your fears. Besides, maybe our next obstacle is something I’m afraid of. Then you’re the one who’ll have to convince me to go on.”

“Makes sense.” Mercy reasoned and followed Chip.

When they reached their next challenge, they saw Luigi was wrong.

“No spiders to be seen.” Mercy noticed.

“Are you happy now? No little spiders to scare you, now let’s get that key.” Chip walked up to the item that would free the two of them when he heard a loud scream.

He turned around to see Mercy with a large eight-legged creature holding her. She was paralyzed with fear but before Chip could come to her rescue he was grabbed by two other spiders. A moment later both somewhat entangled by spider silk and the arachnids had surrounded them.

“Are you happy now?” Mercy asked angrily.

“Try not to be so negative all the time. Why don’t you offer some ideas instead?” Chip countered.

“You got us into this mess pal, now you get us out!”

“Okay then, first we should try to get out of here.” Chip ran away from the spiders that were closing in and then made a run for the exit. Mercy was barely able to keep up with him but fortunately, when they left the room the spiders gave up the chase.

“I guess they were trained to stay in the room.” Chip reasoned.

“Would you stop the insect study and get this stuff off of us?” Mercy shouted while struggling to get free of the silky threads. They managed to get most of it off and Mercy looked Chip deep in the eyes. It was clear to Chip that at the moment Mercy was wishing something really nasty would happen to him.

“You almost got both of us killed! Are you always so reckless?” Mercy spat at him.

“It was a good opportunity, that’s something you should never pass up!”

“Why do you get to decide where to go and what to do? It’s my neck at stake here, too.”

“For a Rescue Ranger survival is part of the job, I’m used to things like this.”

“Well I’m not, if you want me to cooperate you’ll have to listen to me, too. If you don’t promise me that I’ll get a say in whatever else this guy might have in store for us I won’t move from this spot!” Chip, exasperated, realized he had to humor her. Mercy sounded like she would tolerate no protest and the longer they argued the longer it would take to get out of this place.

Chip sighed. “Alright, you can decide what to do now, I’m all ears.”

“Fine. The first thing we should do is ignore that room full of spiders. We go straight toward the exit.” Mercy made her way to the other challenge before Chip could protest. He followed, hoping he would survive Mercy’s leadership.

The next room was filled with colored tiles. At the other side was a large iron door that didn’t have a keyhole.

“What is the meaning of this?” Chip wondered out loud.

“This, puny chipmunk, is a room filled with traps.” Luigi informed him. “Stepping on a tile will trigger whatever's been rigged under it. And none of it is pleasant. There is a tile however, that will open the portiera. Find out which one. Do something risky, gamble with your life.”

“Thanks, but I won’t.” Mercy retorted and walked over to a blue tile.

“What are you doing?” Chip asked as Mercy took a penny from somewhere hidden in her dress.

“Seeing how it works.” She answered and tossed the penny on the blue tile and took a step backwards. The tile moved from its place and a beam of ice shot out of the floor, freezing the worthless coin.

“Now let’s see if there’s a pattern.” She said and tossed another penny on another blue tile, which had the same effect.

“At least we found out what those blue tiles are good for.” Chip reasoned. “But what if there was gas in that trap? Your method isn't foolproof.”

“True, but now we know that most likely tiles with the same color hold the same trap. But there is only one tile that opens the door. Do you see a color that only has one tile?” Both Mercy and Chip took a look around to see if there was such a tile. To their disappointment, however, there wasn’t.

“It seems we have no other choice than to toss coins.” Mercy noted and threw a dime on a red tile. A large flame shot out of the ground that would have surely cooked either chipmunk if not for the fact that they were out of distance. Mercy was shocked however and took a few steps back, right on a green tile. It opened and Mercy fell down. Fortunately for her, she had Chip chained to her wrist who prevented himself from falling into the hole just in time. Chip was able to take a look down the trap to see what horrible fate would await Mercy if he were unable to save her.

“Don’t look down.” He warned her. Naturally, Mercy couldn’t resist looking down and saw a pit full of large shiny spikes that would most certainly impale her like a marshmallow on a stick if she didn’t manage to get up. Lucky for her, her body was already buzzing with adrenaline and she acted swiftly. Before Chip could do anything to save her she climbed out faster than anything Chip had seen before.

“Are you okay?” He asked her, bewildered by how quickly Mercy was able to escape death.

“J-just shocked, n-no injuries.” Mercy assured him, still scared to death.

“Are you ready to go on?”

“Y-yes, I don’t want to hold you up.”

Mercy took another coin out of her dress, a quarter, and threw it away on a gray tile.

“I hope this is it, since that was my last one.” She mused.

“Duck!” Chip shouted while pulling her away as a large boulder rolled past and crashed right into the door, shattering it and the boulder to pieces.

“Whether this was what the Italian in mind I’m not sure, but we solved this puzzle.” Chip concluded.

“I hope it’s the last, saving my own live costs more than I have.” Mercy complained and followed Chip out.

“I see you made it past the traps.” Luigi noted. “I have to give you two credit, you’re resourceful.”

“Thanks, but I don’t need your compliments.” Mercy shot back.

“Well the next part requires you two to use a little more muscle than the last one. You two should do like Tarzan or George of the Jungle. Swinging on a rope over treacherous traps and retrieving the key that will free you two at last. Don’t think of this as optional like last time, you won’t get another chance. And the next challenge would be impossible for you two while chained to each other.”

“Nothing’s impossible.” Chip corrected him.

Still Chip had to admit that if they didn’t retrieve the thing now the next challenge might indeed live up to its description.

“Holy moly!” Mercy exclaimed. “Either this group is good at transporting really hot liquids or we are right in a volcano here!”

Far beneath the couple was what looked like an enormous lava pit, a couple of ropes being the only means of crossing it. The walls of this room, Chip noted, were made out of steel, which caught his attention. In the middle was a pillar with a key resting on it.

“Wait a minute Mercy, lava only comes up in volcanoes, not in buildings. I think we're running this ‘guanto’ in a steel mill.”

“That explains where they got the material for all of this. The cutting lasers, the iron door, traps and now this molten metal.” Mercy reasoned.

“Let’s just focus at the task at hand.” Chip reminded her. He grabbed the rope and untied their transport. “Get ready, this will be dangerous.”

“Ready as ever.” Mercy assured him. “You just worry about getting us across, I'll grab that key.”

“Okay, here goes nothing.” Chip said, and jumped off their safe spot. “Rescue Rangers, Away!” He shouted. He then concentrated himself on grabbing the next rope and the one that would come next after that, thinking ahead like always.

“Just a little more.” Mercy murmured to herself then gracefully swept the key from its resting place.

Chip jumped the last rope with Mercy hanging on to him for dear life and finally landed at the end point.

“We made it!” he cheered, but then noticed Mercy hadn’t landed safely. She was hanging from the edge and tried to get up again. Chip quickly pulled her up.

“Thanks for helping me up.” She said gratefully.

“Of course I did! Besides, I had to, you’re the one holding the key.” Chip said, smirking.

“Well, if I'd fallen down you wouldn’t have needed it anymore, because you’d be dragged down, too.”

“Let’s just get ourselves free and continue this mad quest.” Chip suggested while taking the key from her and unlocking them.

The next room they saw was rigged with sandbag walls, wire fences, cement blockades, tank traps and bunkers.

“Looks like a battlefield.” Mercy noted.

“Si signorina” Luigi confirmed. “This is the last part of the course with a bit of a militaresco feel to it. Gun nests, escape tunnels and a heavy tank.”

“Tank?” Mercy asked.

“Si, no battlefield without a treaded vehicle.”

Chip and Mercy peeked from out of one of the bunker's gun holes to see a tank with two gun barrels that made them feel small and helpless.

“I can't believe humans lower themselves to this level to solve their conflicts. Why did animal society follow their lead?” Chip wondered out loud, hating the mindless violence these monstrosities brought with them. “Compared to this, Monterey is Gandhi the second.”

“Your objective is the reach the exit, which is a little higher than you two are now. You’d be able to climb up there together if not for the tank...” Luigi suggested.

“So we have to cross this place avoiding the tank and get up there by helping each other up. Sounds almost too easy.” Chip reasoned.

“Hah, we’ll just use those tunnels Luigi told us about and that big lump of steel won’t be able to target us.” Mercy said and walked over to what looked like the entrance to the tunnel system.

“I see now why it sounds deceptively easy.” She explained while looking over the subterranean escape route. “There's barely enough space to crawl through. Hmm... well, if you don't try, you'll never succeed...”

Mercy got on her knees and made her way inside. Chip quickly followed her and saw she was completely right when she said it was a tight fit. He followed her lead but soon bumped into her.

“Get your leg out of my face.” He demanded.

“That’s not my leg.”

Chip quickly pulled his head away, embarrassed.

“Sorry, my mistake” He apologized.

“For what?” She asked, not aware of what really happened.

“Never mind, just keep moving.”

The two crawled the tunnel until Chip noticed a side tunnel.

“I get the feeling that tunnel we just passed leads right in front of the exit platform.” He warned her.

“We won’t be able to enter it from this angle, we’ll turn back once we reach the end and explore that one.”

They reached the end of the tunnel and reentered again. They crawled toward the tunnel they just saw when Chip accidentally bumped Mercy once again. Mercy suddenly kicked Chip in the face with her foot.

“Ow! What did you do that for?” Chip asked, now knowing how Dale felt.

“That’s for bumping into my rear twice now.” She hissed back.

“I couldn’t help it, this place is just so small. Besides, I thought you didn’t notice earlier when that happened.”

“So that’s what was so unimportant. That makes three. Just try and keep your distance from now on. I might be your admirer but I’m also squeamish.”

They reached the end of the tunnel with no further incident, where it opened upwards. Mercy cupped her hand so Chip could climb up to stand on her shoulders and clamber out.

“Watch it, Chip, that’s my head you’re standing on!” She warned him.

Chip climbed up then offered her his hand to help her up as well. After some effort Mercy was up as well and immediately sat down with her back to the wall.

“Man, I’m tired out!”

“Don’t worry Mercy, it’s all over now, don’t worry.”

As Chip said this, Mercy noticed the twin cannons of the tank aimed for Chip’s back.

“Look out!!!” She shouted and pushed him on the ground and lay on top of him as the dreaded vehicle released an ear deafening shot that hit the wall behind the two. Mercy screamed while Chip tried to figure out what had just happened, then saw the tank. He realized that they had to get away as soon as possible and he helped Mercy along until they were out of the tanks sight.

“Are you okay?” Chip asked worried as he caught his breath.

“Y-yes, couldn’t be better.” Mercy assured him and tried to stand up but a sharp wince gave away her condition away, and she screamed and fell to her knees and put a hand on her back. When she pulled it back it was covered with blood, her blood. Her eyes grew wide in fear, as did Chip’s. He looked around for something to use as a bandage. When he didn’t see anything useful he pulled off his jacket and covered Mercy’s back with it and forced her to lie down.

“Don’t move, moving will make it worse. Don’t worry, you’ll be okay, you didn’t come so far just to die like this!”

“I - I don’t know. I feel weak, I want to go to sleep so I won’t feel the pain.”

“No, don’t go to sleep. Stay with me. You’ll be fine, I promise.”

Tears formed in Chips eyes while he picked up Mercy. He reasoned that he'd better get her to a hospital as soon as possible or she’d die before getting any form of reasonable medical attention.

He carried her out until he reached another room.

“I thought it was over now.” Chip thought to himself, his spirit sinking as he looked around this room.

Chip noticed two people - A boy that was completely tied up and a sci-fi villain wannabe.

“What is this? I thought we made it!” He screamed out loud.

“If this was a computer game, I’d be the level boss.” The villain responded.

“Hey, aren’t you the one that got us in this mess in the first place?” Chip asked suspiciously.

“That is me, pitiful worm. I just dressed up as the main villain from another episode.”

Suddenly, Chip recognized the boy this lunatic was keeping hostage. It was Philip Stoneturner, Mercy’s young brother.

“Why do you have him here?” Chip asked and pointed to the youngster. "If you really wanted to torture Mercy you should have brought him to his mother! Let him go!"

“Chip, you fool!” Mercy thought who recognized the little Stoneturner. “He wasn’t supposed to know!”

“But then he’d miss the duel of fate I have planned for you two heroes.” Luigi's voice said.

“He didn’t cause you any trouble! Leave him out of this, you monster!”

“That will be my dicisione Chip.” Luigi interrupted.

“Did you mastermind this as well?” Chip asked their tormentor.

“Just doing mister sci-fi here a pleasure.”

“You two are maniacs! You're already responsible for Mercy’s injury, don’t cause this young boy trouble too!” Chip demanded.

“Fine, I’ll just unleash my fury on you, pathetic doctor Jones!” The kendo fighter stated and charged him.

Fortunately, Chip had set Mercy down, anticipating that he might need to fight. Chip kept his cool and grabbed the end of the weapon with both hands, preventing the fake knight or whatever he was from making any more strikes with it. The mouse went for a foot sweep but Chip jumped up and kicked him with both feet on his chest plate. It didn’t cause him much pain, but the knock back was enough to pull the stick out of the hands of this mad mouse, leaving Chip holding it.

“That was quite some maneuver, you weakling of the light side.”

“I guess the Force is strong in my family.” Chip said, wielding the wooden sword and finally getting the movie reference.

The movie figure, however, grabbed a backup kendo stick and advanced for another attack. Although this stranger knew the weapon better and was able to avoid or block some of Chip’s attacks, he was losing energy wearing that armor and the quick and hard attacks from Chip were grinding him down quickly. Suddenly, Chip swung the stick, and the evil assassin look alike lost his balance and fell to the ground, out of action for the time being, which surprised Chip because he hadn't hit all that hard. However, Chip saw Mercy smile faintly at him and he understood she had tripped the mouse. Chip dropped the kendo stick, quickly untied Philip, and picked up Mercy again to help her to the exit.

When he opened the door he couldn't believe who he saw there. The rest of the Rescue Rangers, Flora, Steve and his parents.

“Chip!” they shouted in unison as their friend joined them.

“I’d be glad to tell you what happened to me, but first we have to get Mercy here to the hospital.” Chip said.

“We should try and wrap that injury with something better than your bomber jacket.” Gadget reasoned.

“You’re right. I have a plan.” Dale said. Then, without warning, he ripped off the lower part of Flora’s dress.

“Hey! What are you doing?” She asked, understandably annoyed.

“It’s a trick I learned from Tammy... sort of...” Dale explained and ripped the cloth to bandages and handed them over to Monty.

“I get you, mate, leave it to me!’ The Aussie assured them and put his medical skills to use bandaging as swiftly as he could.

“It ain’t no cure, but it’ll have to do, just for the moment.” He concluded after he did his job.

“There they are!” A voice called out.

The group turned around to see warden Rensen, Billy, Ulbrecht and Rob running toward them.

“Sorry for this unexpected interference but we - ” Rensen started.

“Later bucko, we need to get this lass here to the hospital for treatment, and quick!” He was cut short by Monterey.

“You should go with her, too.” Chip told Philip and helped him toward the group who were total strangers to him.

“You should not look with such big eyes or they roll out of socket.” Rob told the young one.

“Don’t worry guys, zis girl is safe with us.” Ulbrecht assured them while he and Rensen picked her up.

“I know a hospital nearby, follow me.” Billy suggested and took the lead.

“You can ride with Rob, little friend.” Rob told Philip, and took him on his shoulders.

Ans smiled. Even in the direst of circumstances Rob could always cheer you up. She just hoped the young boy would not be disappointed in her friends because she really pitied him for ending up in this mess as well.

“Now let’s find the one responsible for all of this and put an end to his reign of terror once and for all.” Gus stated.

“You know him?” Chip asked wonderingly.

“I met him only once, just a while ago but I’ll never forget him! I won’t rest until either he’s dead or behind bars.”

The Rangers searched the entire building, taking the dark impersonator Dan “Faker” prisoner and decided to get the information from him.

“Where are Luigi and this strange mastermind?” Chip demanded after the mouse had regained consciousness.

“They’re up on the roof of the steel mill, but don’t think you’ll take them by surprise! The master had seen this coming and already planned ahead.”

“Yeah, well, we'll see. Let’s go.” Chip ordered and lead them up to the rooftop where Salamina was already expecting them. Luigi was standing next to him while a helicopter was waiting to take them away from the building.

“We got you now!” Chip stated.

“Really? I was just about to leave this city. But no worries, I’ll return soon to finish the work I started here.” He said in a sinister voice.

“You’ll never get away with this!” Chip shouted over the noise of the helicopter.

“That’s what you think. Your turn Luigi, show them how a real gangster finishes off his business.” Salamina ordered and got in the chopper.

Luigi took a Tommy gun out of his coat and pointed it at the group of do-gooders.

“Meet the gangster’s best amico: Tommy.” He smiled wickedly, while firing at anyone in sight.

The Rangers and Nutcrackers quickly ducked away behind a few of the obstacles on the roof.

“Does anyone has a white flag?” Dale asked his fellow crime fighters.

“Sorry, I've only got a glass cutter.” Gadget replied, running through her pockets searching for anything of use.

“If diplomacy doesn’t solve your problems, violence will.” Monty told him and put his hands around the loose pipe he was hiding behind, pulled out from the building, and heaved it above his head. Luigi turned at the last instant and tried to aim for the angry Australian, but before he could fire the pipe had already hit his head and the blow nearly sent the mafia rat flying off the building. He dropped his weapon, which clattered over the edge and plummeted to the ground. Before he could get up he was jumped by Gus, Steve and Chip who quickly and easily overpowered the maniac and took him prisoner as well.

“We got another one. You bring him to the AP, I gotta find the hospital to see how Mercy’s doing.” Chip declared.

“Are you sure you’ll be alright after all that happened to you?” Dale asked his longtime friend.

“Well, we don’t even know what Chip went through. Or if he went through something at all. But I guess he did, because why else did Mercy get an injury like that? However, they could have been separated for a while and the injury came while Chip wasn’t there. Or...” Gadget was interrupted by Monty who put a hand over her mouth.

“We get the idea, luv, we’ll just do what Chipper said and get this bloke here to the police. Then we’ll see if we can find the hospital and check on the lass.”

A bright light greeted Mercy when she opened her eyes.

“Is this heaven?” She wondered, rather confused.

Then she noticed the two faces that were watching over her. One of them of her little brother, the other a mouse.

“Yes, this is heaven alright.” She said weakly at the sight of her brother, although she realized that she wasn't dead yet.

“This place is not heaven, this is a hospital.” The mouse told her with a weird accent.

“Are you alright?” Philip asked her elder sister.

“Next to some incredible back pain, I’m okay.” She assured him.

“Doctors say you only have to rest in hospital for a time. The pain will go away after a while.” The mouse informed her.

“You don’t work here?” She asked a little confused.

“No, Rob just sells snack on a square in central park.” Rob told Mercy, making Mercy wonder why he was here.

Apparently Rob was good at observing people as he was able to answer Mercy’s next question before she could ask.

“I’m a good friend of the Nutcracker family, they are friends of Chip Maplewood, your friend, who wanted me to take you to hospital with other friends.”

The doors of the ward opened and another chipmunk entered the room. Mercy wanted to get up and hug him but the pain in her back kept her from doing so.

“Are you okay?” Chip asked, very concerned.

“You should get hat off your head when talking to a lady Chip boy.” Rob reminded him.

“I don’t mind.” Mercy corrected him. “I’m not exactly a lady anyway. To answer your question, my back hurts a lot, but according to Rob here it will go away.”

“I think Rob should leave now, he doesn’t like getting between family talk.” The mouse said, excusing himself, and left the three alone.

“Mercy, is it true that you are a criminal?” The young chipmunk asked his sister.

“Who told you that?” Chip asked him, not aware that he ever told the boy.

“The crazy man with the stick you defeated, mister Chip. Before you found us.”

This only brought Mercy more confusion. How did this gangster group know so much about her? And why did they have to tell Philip? On the other hand, she understood she couldn’t keep it a secret anyway and was actually thankful for them telling her brother. After all, she reasoned, your enemies always have less trouble telling someone your secrets than you yourself.

“It’s true.” Mercy said and sighed. “I was a criminal but that’s over now. I’m going to quit that life and try to be an honest civilian. Please forgive me, Philip.”

“But who is my mother? I heard mister Chip mention her, who is she?”

“You don’t want to know her.” Mercy warned the kid. “She only wants you back just because you’re her child, not because she loves you. You won’t be happy with her, please stay with me if you ever forgive me for what I did. I’ll be your mother; you won’t fall into her avaricious hands then. I’d do anything to make you happy.”

Philip looked into her pleading eyes and now it was his turn to feel confused. Should he really trust her on her word that she would abandon her criminal career? Was their mother really greedy and mean? Would Mercy really be as good as the mother he always dreamed he would have?

“I...I don’t know.” He said, still unsure and trying to make a decision.

“Please.” Mercy whispered hopefully.

“I..I...I’ll do it.” He finally said.

He was then surprised at how quick Mercy was to hug her little brother, forgetting her injury and crying tears of joy. Mercy’s embrace was crushing, but Philip felt like a dream had come true and hugged her back. Chip decided to leave the two alone to get them to know each other better.

When he entered the hall he immediately bumped into Jake Judgeson.

“Get out of my way, Ranger, I’m here to bring Mercy back to where she belongs.”

“No, leave her alone.” Chip immediately replied and barred the door with his body. “She's recovering from being hit by shrapnel, she doesn’t need more worries right now. She doesn’t deserve to be in jail, especially not with corrupt guards. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here right now, she made up for her crimes by helping me."

“Get out of my sight.” The police chief hissed furiously and pulled his revolver out of his holster and aimed it at Chip. “Or I’ll turn you into cheese with many, many holes.”

With an incredible reflex Chip grabbed the gun and pushed away from him before Judgeson pulled the trigger.

“Did someone say cheese?” Monterey Jack asked, but quickly got out of his cheese attack when he saw what was going on. In an instant he had grabbed the chief and lifted him up in the air and smashed him against the wall, causing him to drop his weapon. Chip quickly grabbed it, pulled the ammunition out of it, and then crushed the thing under his foot.

“What’s going on here?” Dale asked while rounding the corner.

“Could you call the police for us?” Chip asked him. “Preferably, police that aren’t corrupt.”

A little later the AP arrived to take their police chief away, in a van. By threatening a ‘civilian’ the chief had put his career in serious jeopardy and Chip doubted he would see him again at the precinct. The rangers remained in the hospital for a few hours until the radio, the only form of entertainment for visitors, made an announcement that caught their interest.

Mercy and Philip were interrupted by Chip who came running into the ward.

“Did you hear what just happened? The AP in Chicago caught those gangsters when they arrived at the airport! They received a tip and they were ready to nab them.”

“Really!?” Mercy asked him, excited.

“Yes, according to the RBI agents the entire gang will soon fall apart completely. They have no one to take over since we already arrested the crime boss’s most trusted lieutenant. Some of their thugs and goons have already turned themselves in.”

“That’s quite a nice surprise. What’s next? The Strongarm family losing their jobs?”

“I thought you were going to make sure of that, Mercy.”

“I will, but first I’ll have to recover from this injury in my back.”

“That won’t be too long, either.” One of the doctors said who had just entered with a detailed collection of papers. “All the tests prove that either this injury was not as serious as we may have thought or you have a fast metabolism. You can expect to be back to normal in a couple of weeks.”

“Now, how about that?” Chip asked her. “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

A little later, Steve was back in his nightclub. After he heard about how his friends had been able to uncover the identity of the mobsters he expected a phone call any minute, and he was right. Right when he arrived in his office he got a phone call. He quickly answered the call and found that it was indeed one of his friends.

“Steve, is that you?” Timbert asked through the phone.

“Yep, it’s me. I was expecting you to call me. I heard about what you did in Chicago. How are you all holding up?”

“We still think we were quite lucky to actually find them. But you wouldn’t believe how sloppy some of those gangsters are! That’s how we found their headquarters and from there it was easy to find documents that proved your innocence. For a moment we were concerned about you, some of these plans seemed to revolve about killing you and your parents and some others as well, like Chip. You sure you’re okay?”

“Couldn’t be better. But having those gangsters toy with me did give me a scare. If they could just do that without caring, I wonder what they would do when if it was really serious.”

“They won’t get a second chance, rest assured of that. There was enough evidence in their HQ to get this Alfonso Salamina in prison for the rest of his life. And probably many other gang members.”

“Ironic, getting your powerful gangster family mopped up right when you try to demonstrate your invulnerability. I couldn’t think of something better myself. Good job, guys.”

“Well, it was more luck than skill, but having you and your family safe was more than worth the risk.”

“And there must be thousands of people who will be grateful for your discovery. The RBI and AP are probably very grateful for your service, just image the reward you four will receive!”

“For now the best reward I can think of are four tickets to New York so everything can get back to normal. By the way, how is it going between you and your parents right now?”

Steve’s face fell when Timbert asked about that.

“Bad, we just got over our last disagreement and then they discover about that bank robbery from some time ago. They were kinda peeved when they heard about that and now we're distant again. Although they seemed back to normal during our struggle against Salamina, they haven’t officially forgiven me yet. I just hope they will. I've been kinda unfair to them, but being the fool I am, their words only made sense to me when I calmed down again. I hope they’ll give me a second chance or I’ll really hate myself for not listening to them.”

Flora and Ans who had been listening at the door heard the entire confession. Tears formed in Ans’ eye while Flora was growing worried.

“I hope so, too.” Timbert agreed. “They seem like nice people to me and it really saddens me when you and your folks are not together. Unfortunately this is one of those things I can’t help you with, not even with the reward from the AP. But if there is one thing I would ask in return from your parents for getting rid of that menace it would be that they forgave you for that robbery incident. Glad to hear you're okay. I’m starting to run low on quarters right now, I’ll see you when we arrive back in New York.”

Steve put his phone on the receiver and was silent for a moment. Right then the door opened and before he had a chance to turn around his mother hugged him.

“Of course I’ll forgive you, Steve!” She cried and took her son in a crushing embrace. “I just want you to forgive me for being so mean to you last time.”

“Of course I will.” He said, silently hoping his mother would release him before she pulverized him.

Such was not the case; in fact she hugged him harder. When she finally let him go Steve desperately gasped for breath.

“Take it easy on me mom, I don’t have those Pommern genes in me like you do.” He warned his mother.

“Will do.” She agreed and gave him another hug, much more gentle this time.

“I’m glad this problem is resolved.” Flora told them as she fell into her boyfriend’s arms as well.

“Me too, darling.” Steve told her and felt happier than ever before. They stayed locked into each other’s arms for what seemed like eternity before Flora spoke again.

“Can you forgive me for forcing you to make up with your parents?” She asked him while staying in his arms, looking at him with pleading eyes.

“Are you kidding? I'm glad you did. This entire situation was my fault.”

“It's all over now.” Ans said and took them in a group hug. “Nothing shall ever get between us again, Steve. Whatever might happen, I’ll always love you. I don’t want to lose you. When I’m older I don’t want to end up as a vegetable in an old folk's home all alone with no one to visit me. I want you to come to see me, without having to wait six weeks. Without having the stench of diesel from cheap flowers bought at a gas station in my room. If it ever gets that far I take a gun and empty my head, provided I didn’t forget my pistol.”

“You won’t end like that mother, I won’t leave you anymore. If you ever land in such a place, I would visit you often, along with Flora, and our children.”

“Thank you.” Ans whispered softly.

It was only noon when Alfonso Salamina was escorted to his cell where he would await his trail.

“Don’t feel like you’ve won, I’ll get you and your colleagues, and then it’s the Nutcrackers’ turn.”

The guard didn’t reply but was grateful for the death sentence, which inspired him to sing.

“Every life ends in an Oakwood chest...”

A few days later Steve invited his friends over to his place to celebrate the happy ending.

“Nice of you to ask us to come.” Dale thanked him energetically as he entered alone.

“Where’s the rest of your team?” Steve asked the single chipmunk.

“I got too enthusiastic after three streets, so I ran ahead. They should arrive in a few minutes. Or hours, if they go at the same speed as when I left them.”

A few seconds later the other Rangers arrived, all of them out of breath.

“We should have turned around and followed him in one of our planes.” Gadget told the rest.

“Buck up Gadgetluv, a little running now and then keeps you in shape.” Monty countered.

“Are you deaf or something?” Chip asked his easygoing counterpart “We told you to wait up for us! What if you got run over by a car or squished by a human foot?” He then proceeded to bonk his long time friend on the head for not considering his own safety or how worried his friends would be.

“He’s still alive, that’s all that matters.” Monty tried to calm the two munks down.

“Hey there little fellow.” Steve said when he noticed Philip who was sitting on Monterey’s shoulder.

“Mind carrying him for awhile?” Monty asked Steve. “No offense, pally, but you’re heavier than a truckload of Brie ’86.”

“It would be excellent training should you ever get kids, son.” Gus encouraged his own child.

“Alright then.” Steve agreed and took Philip on his shoulder. “By the way, who are you? The first and last time I saw you was in the steel mill in the north of the city. You seem to be a friend of the Rangers as well, though.”

“Yes mister Nutcracker, I can stay in their tree until my sister's all better. I used to live in an orphanage, but I like it much better with the Rescue Rangers. Oh, and my name is Philip Stoneturner.”

“Your stay may only be temporary, but you’re welcome to visit anytime if you want to later.” Chip reminded the kid.

“Well I hope you’re hungry.” Steve told the child. “My mother prepared enough food for a group twice our size. If you don’t eat it, we’ll have to throw most of it away.” He helped Philip over to a table with several cakes in various sorts and sizes.

The youngster licked his lips as he decided which one would be his first victim. Just then Steve was interrupted by another one of his friends entering.

“How are things down here?” Timbert asked his employer and good friend as he entered the nightclub.

“Welcome back.” Steve greeted him “I’ve been able to hold on, and me and my parents forgave each other. Where are the others, by the way?”

“They’ll be here in a minute. Because I got wings I was here earlier than them, but don’t worry. Sorry for us being away for so long, but those fans just didn’t stop bugging us. You’d be surprised at how many women fall for an amateur investigator.”

Flora eyed Steve suspiciously, hoping her boyfriends would not turn to crime fighting as well. She was interrupted, however, by Philip who pulled at her dress.

“Could you give me some of that chocolate cake, miss?” The kid asked her while giving her a big smile.

“How cute.” She thought to herself “Maybe its time for me to consider having a child as well.” She wondered as she did what Philip asked her.

“It looks like everything is returning back to normal again.” Ans thought to herself as she oversaw the party. “I’m glad Steve has forgiven me and that things are back to normal for him. And now at least we can live without fear again, finally I get a second chance at being a good mother.” She coughed to get the attention of the others in the room.

“I have an announcement to make.” She said when everyone was looking in her direction “Steve, you are going to have a younger brother or sister soon.” There was a dead silence for a moment and everyone looked at her surprised, even her husband.

“How do you know for sure?” Flora finally asked her.

“When you have been mother two times you know things like that without medical tests or devices.” She answered Flora’s question.

“Golly! You can just tell that you’re pregnant?” Gadget asked her, then instantly felt a little stupid since she knew the answer was yes.

Ans just nodded in reply. Chip shook her hand.

“Congratulations!” He said, and smiled.

“I thought you were already too old for something like that dear.” Gus commented and hugged his wife. “How far along are you? How long have you been aware of this?”

“I could be wrong, but I guess he or she will have to wait for three or four more months before seeing daylight.” Ans estimated. “I was a little uncertain at first. But after I treated Steve so bad about that bank incident I realized that I was indeed pregnant. I guess that’s why I had been so mean to Steve and also why I wanted him back with us after I blew it, I wanted him to be around when his younger brother or sister was born.”

“Don’t worry, mother, I assure you I’ll be there when the baby is comes. And I think Flora will be as well.” Steve comforted his mom and put an arm around Flora.

“I guess that’s well worth our best wishes.” Timbert said. “Long live Ans Nutcracker!”

A week later it was another usual day at Rescue Ranger Headquarters, except for little Philip Stoneturner who was still around. He was reading comic books with Dale when there was a knock on the door.

“I’ll get it!” Chip said quickly as he ran to the door and opened it.

The person behind it quickly put her arms around him, which caught the detective chipmunk off guard.

“Did you miss me?” Mercy asked him then let him go again, only because she was still not in top condition.

She sat down on a chair right before Philip came running in faster than a train and jumped into her lap.

“Did you recover, Mercy? Are you going to take care of me now?” The boy asked impatiently.

“Easy, I’m still not back to normal yet, but it won’t take much longer now.” She answered. “In case you didn’t notice, I still got this bandage around my waist.”

“Sorry if I hurt you Mercy.” Philip said apologetically.

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing.”

“Hey lads, look who’s here!” Monty called out to the other Rangers who soon entered the living room to greet their visitor.

They were interrupted however, as the door slammed open and a woman in a highly expensive dress and other regalia entered. Mercy gave her an angry look and hugged Philip closely.

“Who are you?” Asked Zipper in his best English.

The intruder ignored his question, either because she didn’t understand his speech or didn’t like questions. Monty had noticed Mercy’s bad reaction to this lady and quickly got between the two young Stoneturners and the stranger.

“He asked who you are.” He repeated his old friend’s question.

“I’m Anne-Mary Dime-dealer, mister.”

“You’re family of Derrick Dime-dealer?” Dale asked, bewildered.

“Idiot, If he knew my mother better he’d be less enthusiastic to see her.” Mercy thought.

“I’ve come to take back MY child, Mercy.” She said, obviously very displeased to see Mercy free.

“You won’t, he’s staying with me!” Mercy spat back and hugged her brother even closer.

“He’ll decide about that himself.” The other female replied.

“Who...Who are you anyway?” Philip asked, afraid of the woman she had never seen before.

“Why, I’m your mother, Philip. I’m here to take you home, where you belong.” She replied in a more friendly voice now.

“Mercy told me you don’t even love me.” The boy replied, hugging her sister closely to prevent the creepy female from picking him up.

“Why would I want you back if I’d hate you?” The mother replied and made a mental note to find another way of plaguing Mercy after she had taken Philip.

“I guess you’re right...” Philip began before he was interrupted.

“She’s lying!” Mercy warned him. “You don’t know what it's like to live with her!”

“Things have changed since you left, Mercy! I’m rich now, and I can afford anything he wants!”

“I always dreamed of having the money to buy anything.” Philip admitted.

“Just a second.” Chip interrupted before the boy started hearing insults he wasn’t supposed to at his age. “From what I understand, mother Stoneturner can’t afford the time to comfort you when you’re sad or give you advice when you’re having trouble at school. She doesn’t sound like the type of person I would want for a mother.”

“I didn’t ask for your opinion!” Anne-Mary spat at him.

Chip couldn’t recall anyone who irritated him as much as this female and immediately understood why Mercy hated her.

“Your call, Philip.” Dime-dealer’s wife declared. “Would you like to spend your life in a wealthy family with your brothers and sisters and true family, or live with your perverted sister and become an outcast as well?”

“Don’t go with her, you’ll be disappointed for sure! Stay with me, I’ll take care of you and help you through your life. I won’t just keep you around as a possession.” Mercy whispered into his ear and hoped for the best.

Philip’s brain tried to make a decision. Should he go with this strange woman and see what the life as the son of a millionaire would offer him? Or should he stay with the sister who would love him and wouldn’t let him down?

“I - I want to stay with Mercy.” He finally answered.

Anne-Mary was furious and quickly left the without saying a word, slamming the door.

“Thank you so much for not going with her.” Mercy thanked her brother and cried softly while she ran a hand over his head.

“I’m happy that he wanted to stay with you.” Chip told Mercy and hugged her as well, careful as to not squash Philip while doing so.

“I’m just glad all my worries are over and that I’m not being hunted down anymore.” She told her favorite chipmunk.

“You’re telling me. If we lived in the Middle Ages they would have ripped the dress of your body just because it was stolen. You didn’t steal it, did you?”

“Sure as heck I didn’t! I bought it from the money from my first job as a mercenary agent. The money was dirty, but the tank top and jeans where that as well. It was about time I buyed something new, so that’s why I decided that a criminal career would fit the bill.”

“I’m sure glad you stopped that pursuit.” Dale encouraged her.

“I assure you guys that’s all behind me now.” She promised as she took the lapels of Chip’s jacket and pulled him closer. “But I’m not tired of you yet.”

This caused Chip to become nervous again and blushed. Fortunately he was saved by Monty who got a tasty idea.

“To celebrate, I’ll prepare some cheese sandwiches. Better eat them before I lose self-control.” He warned, having not forgotten how riled up the others where the last time there were cheese sandwiches.


Mercy had been with the Rangers for a few days now and finally recovered from her back injury. She was now getting ready to move into a real home, taking Philip with her.

“Thank you all so much for your support.” Mercy said while shaking hands with the Rangers.

“It was nothing.” Monty assured her while handing her a picnic basket with what smelled like a shipload of various cheeses.

“Thanks, mister Dale, for lending me that comic book to read.” Philip thanked the older kid.

“I have it double anyway, and just call me Dale.”

“Unbelievable that the writer of Captain Spiffo got such a following in both animal and human society. His theories on Fusion Power aren’t even up to date!” Gadget interjected.

“Take it easy, it’s just a weird attempt at amusing literature.” Chip reminded her. “And don’t be strangers you two. It’s nice to have a visitor around here from time to time.”

“Well, I’d LOVE to spend some time with you over at my new place.” Mercy told the detective she had a crush on.

“Right.” He replied nervously “Don’t wait for us, we’ll wait for you.” He silently hoped that his teammates’ presence could keep her from making moves on him.

Finally the Nutcracker family could show their faces in the open again, and they were certainly enjoying that. Steve had suggested going to the beach along with Flora and Rob, and his parents eagerly agreed. It was hot weather, which made it an excellent time to go for a swim. Unfortunately, Gus and Ans where no longer as interested in swimming like they where years ago so they just decided to lie down at the strand bar and become sun worshippers. Steve was in swimming trunks that matched perfectly with his shirt. Flora was in dark blue shorts with yellow lining and a matching top. At the moment, only Rob was enjoying the waters that covered the coast of the largest city in the world.

“It’s sure a warm day.” Steve noted, lying idly in his strand chair with sunglasses covering his eyes and a cool drink next to him.

“That’s the third time you said that.” Flora observed.

“Well I’m going to say it again. It’s sure hot today!”

“Then In water go you should.” Rob advised as he got ready to use his surf plank as a diving board.

“Nah, I’m in a lazy mood.”

“Then you will get even hotter.” Rob concluded and jumped.

For a while the mouse stayed underwater until Gus started to get somewhat nervous about the well being of the first family friend he had in New York. When he bend over for a better look, Rob emerged and almost wet Gus with the up flying water.

“Hehey, watch it!” He warned the mouse.

Ans slowly got up from her chair and stealthily closed on her husband who had lost his balance, trying to avoid the water that was being spat at him. Ans pushed Gus right into the waters and bend over to see the effects of her shove. She was hit in her face by some up splashing water, but it didn’t bother her at all as she was just smiling at her husband who emerged a moment later.

“Hey, no fair! I wasn’t ready for that!” He complained, his broad smile giving him away.

Steve sneaked up on her and then pushed her right between his dad and Rob.

“Couldn’t take the heat?” He asked innocently.

“Flora, be a nice girl and throw that little brat of us overboard will you?” Ans called out.

Sure enough, she got up to continue the success of this running gag and emerge as queen of the hill. However Steve wasn’t going to be thrown in that easy and he tried to push Flora away from him.

“Give up, I’m not planning on using my towel today.” He warned her.

“You didn’t even bring it along.” She retorted and continued her wrestling.

“You won’t win against me, Flora!” he laughed.

“I’m in much better shape than you are. Maybe you should consider becoming a dancer too so you’ll stand a chance.”

“Not a chance!” He taunted, causing Flora to double her efforts.

“Right!” She said just before pushing him in.

However Flora hadn’t anticipated how much force she put in her push and followed her boyfriend into the water below.

“Payback time!” Ans shouted as she made a slashing maneuver with her arm over the surface of the water, sending a wave of water in her son’s direction.

“Right.” Gus agreed as he threw some water in her face.

Somewhere else at the edge of the city two shady persons were making a shady deal.

“I hear you called for an exterminator.” One said in a dark and nasty Clint Eastwood voice.

“That’s right, and I hope I can trust you...” The other answered, sounding like some bloated kingpin.

“Of course. I only kill my employers if they don’t pay.” The assassin said as he lit a cigarette, the lighter illuminating his surrounding, except for the user himself.

“I pay, and I’ll pay handsomely.”

“It would be good for your health if you did, this meeting alone will cost you.” The dark assassin replied as smoke filled the office they where at the moment.

The prospective employer gritted his teeth, but kept quiet.

“Now who’s the lucky bird?”

“It’s all in this file map, every detail I have been able to gather up.”

The hired hand inspected the files and came across two identical pictures, apparently an extra copy or foul up from his employer.

“Be warned, you might get trouble with the AP and possibly the R-Rescue Rodents.”

The assassin just smiled. “Is that a promise?”

“So, will you do it?” The crime boss asked his agent.

Right then a dagger was thrown in the direction of the crime boss, barely missing him and embedding its vicious point in the wall with the picture on it.

“Consider it done.” The killer replied and left the office, heading for the elevator.

The other figure was left in the office. He snatched the picture from the dagger and a wide toothy grin spread on his face.

“That’s what you get when you mess with the wrong cat, Flora.” He said in a most unsettling way as he threw the picture in the trashcan. On it was a female chipmunk with red hair, a little black nose and wearing a blue sleeveless dress.

The End

Authors note:

This was now my fourth attempt at fan fiction and I already have plans for my fifth story. Comments and criticism are welcome, as are suggestions. I hope whoever read this enjoyed what he or she read and if not I apologize for wasting your valuable time.

The Rescue Rangers Chip, Dale, Gadget, Monty and Zipper where copyrighted by the Disney company. As are Rat Capone and other characters revered to. I do not own any of them but seuing me is as helpful as stabbing a corpse and hope it’ll scream. Steve “Steelnerve” Nutcracker, Flora “Florida Flower” Firalda, Mercy “Mischief” Stoneturner, Gus & Ans Nutcracker, Timbert “Screeck”, Hen “Hiss”, Frank “Mousestein”, Henk “Snagger”, Luigi, Alfonso Salamina, Dan “Faker”, Anne-Mary Stoneturner, Philip Stoneturner, Patricia Strongarm, Warden Rensen, Rob, Billie, Thomas “Venice”, Derrick Dime-dealer, and Long-Gone Bianca Pommorn and Simon Nutcracker are fruit of my own imagination. Dan “Faker” was a parody of Darth Vader and Darth Maul (while kidnapping Mercy and fighting Chip) who are both copyrighted by Lucas Film.

Finally, translations that where used from Italian to English, for those who didn’t understand Luigi.

Corretto: Correct

Due: Two

Guanto: Gauntlet

Barriera: Barrier

Movimento: Movement

Rendere Incapace: Disable

Uscita: Exit

Signorina: Miss

Portiera: Door

Si: Yes

Militaresco: Military

Decisione: Decision

Amico: Friend

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