Written by: Kevin (KS) Sharbaugh
Chapter Six: A Little Case of Spunk
The sensation of water droplets pelting her face in a sudden burst caused Gadget to awake with a start. She could feel a hard surface beneath her feet and two strong paws clutching her arms, holding her upright, at least until she was firmly standing on her own. As she tried to wipe the water from her face she became aware of the shackles on her wrists. Gadget recalled the last time she was in shackles, and the thug responsible, which meant the squat ugly rodent standing in front of her was hardly out of place. "Rat Capone!" she stated bluntly.
"Ah, I see my fame precedes me!" the diminutive rat replied in his raspy speech.
"Actually it's your telltale hospitality," Gadget corrected, "But what are you doing in the Allegheny National Forest?"
"Can't a hardworking businessrat take a vacation?" Capone responded rhetorically.
"Sure, but that still doesn't explain what you're doing here," Gadget replied innocuously.
"Funny," her captor offered sarcastically before moving on.
Gadget looked around and surmised they were in an abandoned sewer system, she assumed left over from the human mining town. Near one of the walls were orderly piles of construction materials, no doubt intended for whatever use her captor had planned. In the other wall were two cell doors, one through which Gadget could see several rodents sitting despondently in rows, through the other she could see rodents chained to various workbenches. Close to Capone were his ever present lackeys, the freakishly large yet slow witted Arnold Mousenegger and his smarter and wiry comrade Sugar Ray Lizard. To Gadget's right she saw three other captives held in the same manner as herself. Samantha and Terry she recognized, but the young girl, Gadget determined, must be the Dirkson's child that had disappeared earlier. To her left was Dee, still unconscious... that is until Rat Capone flicked water on her face from the bowl he was carrying.
"Blech!" was all Dee could say upon seeing the mobster for the first time.
"Now-now, that's no way to speak to your new employer," Capone admonished her.
"Employer?" Gadget asked.
"Yeah, you've all been drafted into my workforce," Capone explained.
"Then I quit," Dee stated lightly.
"You wouldn't want to do that," Capone replied just as lightly, "That would mean giving up our generous health package. Unless you'd like your severance pay."
"Which is?" Dee asked.
"That's where I sever your head from your body!" Capone answered before chuckling to himself.
"Heh, good one boss!" Sugar Ray said as he joined in the laughter.
"Yeah, good one!" Arnold concurred with his own laughter.
"Quiet!" Capone shouted, throwing the contents of the water bowl at his lackeys, "I didn't say you could laugh!"
"Sorry, boss," they replied in unison.
"What is it we're supposed to be doing?" Gadget asked.
"You and your ‘coworkers' will be making weapons, see?" Capone proceeded to explain, "Some of the weapons will be sold to hire more muscle and the rest will be used to arm them. Then, when I've got enough muscle, I'm gonna ventilate that bloated hairball Fat Cat. Then I can be the sultan of the city!"
A tall mouse wearing a grey suit with matching fedora walked up to Capone. "What do you think of today's haul?"
"Your people do good work," Capone replied approvingly, "Five in one day's a new record."
"Likes I told ya', my boys is da best," the mouse boasted.
"Well worth their cost in cheese and jewels," Capone commented, surveying the new additions. "These two can go to work in the third shift," he stated in reference to Samantha and Terry. Eying Gadget and Dee, he explained, "If I'm going to be a sultan, I'm going to be needing a harem. So whattaya say girls? Stick with me and you'll be living in the lap of luxury!"
"Will we get to wear those gauzy veils and poofy pants?" Dee asked excitedly, much to the surprise of the other captives.
"Anything you want, doll face," Capone intoned happily.
Dee's gleeful demeanor darkened quickly as she sneered at her captor. "Then give me a fur coat made of your hide!" she replied.
"So, you've got some spunk," Capone realized. Gadget knew what was coming next and rolled her eyes as she silently mouthed the declaration with him, "I hate spunk!" After a moment of thought, he decided, "Maybe working second and third shift will take some of the spunk out of you." Turning his attentions to Gadget, he continued, "I've never been all that fond of brunettes anyway. After all, blonds have more fun, don't you agree?"
Gadget's answer was swift and to the point, "Only if you let me dance on your windpipe."
"Looks like you'll be having some company on your double shift, doll face," Capone remarked to Dee. "Now what have we here?" he asked as he went down the line to where the young girl was standing. "Looks like a moll in the making," Capone stated as he reached out to touch her chin. With a frightened squeak the girl tried to back away, only to be firmly placed back in line by the rat standing behind her. "And not a hint of spunk," was Capone's approving assessment.
Just hearing the words ‘moll in the making' caused Dee's fur to bristle. Gadget could hear her sister grinding her teeth in answer to the child's fearful cry. Ever since becoming a mother all too early, Dee could never tolerate harm befalling a child. Her maternal outrage was building, all that was needed was a spark to cause the raven haired powder keg to explode.
"With a little gentle persuasion she can be a first class moll," Capone thought aloud, "Take her to my personal suite."
That was it. Her rage reaching a point where common sense was left far behind, Dee charged at Capone without the slightest concern for the fact that she was heavily outnumbered. She had the chains of her shackles around his neck before the mobster or his minions had time to react. Knocking Capone's legs out from under him, Dee flung her opponent to the ground where she continued to throttle him. Gadget joined in the unfolding chaos by leaning forward and swinging a leg behind her. Just as she had calculated, it impacted squarely between the legs of the thug standing there. Taking quick aim, she was also able to kick out the left knee of the thug that had been standing next to her first victim and who was trying to grab her. However, Gadget's second attack gave Sugar Ray time to move in and he tackled her before she could steady herself.
Arnold was trying desperately to free his boss from Dee's assault. Unable to grasp the full complexity of the situation, he simply tried to pull Dee off of Capone. It didn't work. So he tried shaking her loose. Dee, obsessed with strangling the life out of the licentious maggot beneath her, kept the chain taught about Capone's neck. As a result, however hard Arnold shook Dee, Capone had little choice but to go along for the ride. Given their relative positions, this meant that Rat Capone was being strangled with all of Dee's strength while simultaneously being pounded into the ground with all of Arnold's might. Fortunately for Capone, two other rats with far more on the ball intervened. Each grabbing one of Dee's arms they were able to pry her loose.
"Thanks for nothin', dummy!" Capone croaked at Arnold as he rose to his feet. "Whose idea was it to chain d'ese yahoos with there paws up front?" he called out to his lackeys and assorted mercenaries.
"Da locals showed no inclination towards hostile behavior," the mercenary leader explained, "and since they was to be put to work wit there paws in front, that's how we prepares them for delivery."
"Well we won't be having any more of that," Capone declared, "Until they're ready for their shifts, have ‘em chained up from behind."
"You heard da boss," the lead mercenary called to his flunkies, "Switch ‘em around d'en throw ‘em in da clink."
No sooner had Gadget and Dee had one of their paws freed from their chains than they took full advantage of the situation. In near perfect concert, both mice plunged their incisors into one of the paws of the guards handling them. Now each having a free paw they grabbed their guards by the other arm and swung them about till they collided with each other. As Gadget bolted for a pile of construction material to locate a potential weapon her sister immediately charged after Capone.
Out of one of the piles Gadget pulled a metal rod that she quickly put to use as a quarterstaff. The thug nearest her was soon doubled over from a blow to his mid section. The next two, having finished securing Samantha and Terry, advanced on Gadget but made a point to keep a safe distance from her.
Unlike their previous encounter, Capone saw his assailant coming and was better able to defend himself. Yet, Dee was still able to get the upper hand and wrestled the gangster to the ground. "Somebody get this crazy broad off a' me!" Capone called out.
"I'll help ya'!" Arnold offered running over.
"Not you, y'lunk head!" Capone responded, desperately trying to keep Dee from getting an arm around his neck.
Not wanting to get too close to the flailing limbs, Sugar Ray relied on his tail to come to the aid of his beleaguered boss. Slipping his serpentine tail about Dee's neck he was able to distract her enough for Capone to get loose. Finding her paws free, the mouse grabbed hold of the lizard's appendage, planted her feet, and made her best effort to fling him against the nearest wall. However, Sugar Ray's unique physique came to his rescue as his tail popped off. Unknowingly exerting far more force than necessary, Dee lost her footing and fell over with a flourish. Before she could right herself, Sugar Ray pounced on her and soon had completed the task of securing her paws behind her.
While her sister had been separately engaged, Gadget continued fending off two opponents with her staff. However, focusing on those two allowed the mercenary mouse to move in from behind. Hooking one arm around her neck and a leg around one of hers he was able to fling Gadget to the ground. Swooping down on the blond he was able to successfully secure her paws.
Brushing the dust and other assorted crud from his suit, Capone surveyed the results of Gadget and Dee's combined efforts. At least half a dozen full sized rats were departing (either under their own power or being carried away) to recuperate in one of the side tunnels, and, more disturbingly, previously captured locals were crowding about the cell doors in clear amazement at how much damage was done by just two broads who dared defy his authority. The former is what bothered him more than anything, the last thing he wanted was for the other captives to get any ideas.
Motioning to the guards holding Dee and Gadget to bring them over, Capone decided it was time to set an example. "You two are more trouble than you're worth," he explained to the ladies, "All of that spunk just earned you both a one way trip to see Saint Peter." Turning to the mercenary leader he commanded, "I want you to make an example of these two."
"Can the boys have a little fun with ‘em first?" he inquired.
"I don't care, just as long as they ain't breathing when I get back," Capone clarified as he departed. The events of the past couple minutes had left him with a splitting headache, and as much as he wanted to watch Gadget and Dee get dispatched he had to lay down.
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