Written by: Kevin (KS) Sharbaugh
Chapter Nine: Rescue and Reunion
"That should keep you from getting loose again," Capone commented as he placed the second of two new pairs of shackles on Amanda's wrists. "I'd put you right to work but there's got to be at lest two of you to actually get things going," he pointed out, leading her over to the now deserted holding cell, "So you get to rest up awhile." After pushing the matron into the empty room and securing the door, Capone turned to his lackeys, "Mousenegger, make sure she doesn't get out."
"Right, boss," the oversized mouse replied as he took his place by the door.
Amanda set herself upon a stool, one of the few pieces of furniture to be found in her prison. It was apparent by the smell that there was only the most rudimentary of sanitation available. Looking about the burrowed out cavity she found little that could help occupy her mind... sometimes having a mind-bashingly high IQ could be a curse. With little else to ponder, she started thinking about the inevitable attack she knew her daughters were planning. Is there anything I can do to help from in here? she wondered. There wasn't much around her... except her guard. A big, slow witted guard. Amanda smiled broadly as a plan presented itself. "Your name's Mousenegger?" she asked.
"Yeah, Arnold Mousenegger," came the proud reply.
"Could you do me a fafor, Arnold?" Amanda inquired politely.
"Uh, I guess," was the cautious response.
"I'd really like it if you'd braid my hair for me," she explained, "Do you know how to braid hair?"
"Um, yea... no," was Arnold's eventual response.
"That's ok," Amanda laughed disarmingly, "I'll give you instructions." Once Arnold had entered the cell, she added, "You might want to close the door so no one thinks you let me escape."
"Yeah, good idea," Arnold reasoned, closing the door behind him.
"And be careful not to lock yourself inside," Amanda offered, "We don't want your boss yelling at you again."
"Heh, yeah!" Arnold replied with a laugh.
"He yells at you a lot doesn't he?" the captive asked sounding a little concerned.
Arnold shrugged as he pointed out, "He yells at everybody."
"But he seemed to be yelling at you more than the others earlier," Amanda explained.
"Yeah," the guard conceded.
Enough small talk for the moment, Amanda thought to herself, "Ok, Arnold, now I'll teach you how to braid someone's hair." She realized her instructions would have to be very simple and easy to follow, Arnold had to have an opportunity to do well at something if the rest of her plan was going to have any impact. Fortunately, Amanda was able to use her fingers as an aid to help her ‘stylist' to visualize what he needed to do. She was pleasantly surprised by how easily Arnold picked up on what he was supposed to be doing. "You're doing a fery good job," Amanda commented approvingly.
"Thanks!" Arnold replied happily.
"I don't see why your boss needs to yell at you so much," she added.
"He says I'm clumsy," was Arnold's less than cheery response, "and stupid."
Thought so, Amanda acceded, "You can't be all that clumsy, or stupid, if you can braid hair as well as you can. Of course we all make mistakes at times, but that's really no reason to yell at somebody. And you always try your best, right?"
"Yeah," Arnold agreed.
"But he still yells at you, doesn't he?" she asked.
"Yeah," he replied.
"That doesn't seem fery fair," Amanda reasoned, "Sometimes things just can't be done, so it wouldn't be your fault if it didn't work the way your boss thought it should. But you did your best. Does he efen say, ‘Thanks anyway' or ‘I understand, you did your best'?"
"No," Arnold realized.
"He just yells at you like it was your fault," she concluded.
"And calls me names," he added.
"That's just not fair," Amanda pointed out as if she really cared, "You do your best to help him and all he does is yell at you and call you names. I bet he does that efen when it's his fault."
"Yeah!" Arnold realized... but that realization was temporarily put on hold as another one cropped up, "Uh... I'm running out of hair."
"Oh!" Amanda piped up, "That's ok. Just gently tie the remaining strands in a knot and you're done!"
"There!" Arnold proclaimed, finishing the task. "Wanna see it?" he asked excitedly.
"Sure! Just dangle it over my right shoulder," she consented, bobbing her head to the right. "Oh, that is a fery good job!" Amanda commended as her hair was slung over her shoulder, "Especially for a first time! Thank you! You did a great job, you should be proud of yourself!"
"Thanks!" Arnold replied happily.
"Can you lean ofer so I can giff you a kiss on the cheek?" Amanda asked, "I think you deserfe it."
"Gosh!" Arnold blushed as he leaned over to receive his reward.
"Ok," Amanda stated after giving Arnold a little peck, "You can go back to guarding the door." With the seed of dissent planted, her quarters no longer seemed quite so oppressive. Rat Capone was going to be caught between two fronts, the one she was sure her daughters were preparing, and the one she just opened.
"There they are," Dee pointed out, "Right where they should be." Obscured behind some low bushes, Gadget, Dee and several locals observed the two guards at one of the entrances to the abandoned sewer. After having spoken with those who had been captured, a fairly detailed understanding of Capone's lair and personnel had been obtained. With a little thought and preparation, a plan of attack was worked out. The time to strike was close.
"Smoke screen fixins?" Gadget checked down her list.
"Check," came the response from two mice carrying a sack.
"Fan?" Gadget inquired.
"Check," was the quick response from a couple squirrels.
"Bindings?" was the next item on the list.
"Check," came the response from a mix of locals.
"Anyone lacking a club?" was Gadget's final question. With no answer forthcoming, she turned to her sister, "Looks like we're ready."
"Ok," Dee nodded. "Uh... Bill," she called, taking a second to remember the mouse's name, "Go tell the girls we're ready." As they waited, Dee went through first steps of the plan once more.
It was not long before the guards' attention was attracted by the sound of a couple girls arguing. As they emerged from behind a cluster of ferns, one of the girls, a mouse, proclaimed, "Admit it, we're lost!"
"Only because you lost the map!" the chipmunk with her fired back.
"Hey, hey!" the mouse shouted over to the guards, "Can you guys tell us where we are?"
"You're lost," one of the guards joked.
"Ha ha," the chipmunk lass responded sarcastically, bouncing over to the guards, "Really, where are we, a friend told us there was a town near here but we lost the map he gave us."
Once the girls had successfully drawn the guards attention away from where the rest of the group was massed, Gadget and Dee leapt out from the hiding place. On cue, both girls started talking loudly to help cover the sound of the sisters' approach. The guards never saw it coming, and once they were out of things two more locals came forward to tie up the sleeping thugs. As Gadget, Dee and the two locals hauled the guards off to the side, the two mice carrying the sack emerged.
"Leave enough room in front of the entrance for us to get in," Gadget reminded them.
As the mice spread the contents of their sack before the entrance, the two squirrels arrived with the fan Gadget had cobbled together. Dee proceeded to set fire to the concoction she had prepared in the sack as Gadget made final adjustments to her fan. Once a good fire had started and was belching out smoke, the squirrels began applying their muscle power to the fan. With smoke billowing steadily into the tunnels, the rest of the force arrived and tied cloth over their muzzles.
"Ready?" Dee asked the assembled mass. Getting clear answers to the affirmative, she and Gadget led them in. Moving within the enveloping haze of the smoke screen, they advanced through the tunnels.
The first of Capone's thugs was cautiously moving towards the entrance, calling out to the guards that were supposed to be there. Those awaiting his report further inside only heard him shout "We've got int-OOF!" Unsure of how to respond, they held their place and as the smoke grew increasingly thick, they grew increasingly anxious. Talking quietly between themselves allowed Dee to zero in on one and quickly knock him out before he could respond.
"Intruders!" his companion shouted back into the tunnels just before Gadget put his lights out. Now the force moved quicker through the old sewer, the members making sure to keep those in front of them in sight to prevent getting lost or surrounded.
Capone was roused from his quarters by the increasing ruckus and wisps of smoke trailing in. Stepping out, he could clearly make out the sound of his fledgling army trying to fight back against a force they could only barely see. A rat raced past him towards the trouble, only to get briefly pushed back by other rats and mice fleeing the commotion. "Get back here you cow-AHH!" he heard someone shout. The rat that had passed Capone promptly went back the other way.
"Where do you think you're going?" Capone snarled as he grabbed the rat by his elbow and flung him back towards the apparent battle, just before making a break for it himself. Almost running sideways, keeping an eye out in front and behind, he made his way into the spacious cavity where he had once inspected his captives.
With the smoke dissipating in the cavernous pipe and being vented out through the iron grate, Capone could easily discern the professional muscle he had hired to round up his labor force and train his army. "Got all our payments?" called out their leader, recently recovered from his encounter with the enraged mother. What bothered Capone was that the question wasn't directed to him.
"Them's all the sacks, boss," one of his lieutenants pointed out motioning to the rats behind him carrying several large bundles.
"Very well then," was the satisfied response, "If you'll get the door we can be on our way."
Rat Capone simply could not believe such betrayal, especially after having paid so much. "I'm not paying youse mugs to run away!" he confronted them pointedly as the exit opened slowly.
"You're not paying us to be your bodyguards neither," the mouse countered.
"All right, you've got it," Capone offered, "And twice what I was paying earlier."
"Sorry, but it's hard to spend one's dough when yer dead or otherwise incapacitated," the mouse replied firmly. "Should you require our services in the future you know how to reach us," he offered, then adding when he heard another gang member go down, "provided you get outta this alive, that is." Turning to his thugs, he called out, "Ok, boys, let us get going while the doing of such is advantageous."
Sugar Ray came running up to Capone, preventing any effort on his part to argue with the departing help, "Hey, boss, maybe we should split too."
"Yeah," Capone grumbled, "Just let me get our insurance." Pushing past Arnold, who was still manning his post, he threw open the door to Amanda's cell. "C'mon, toots, yer gonna be my ticket outta here," Capone explained as he grabbed his sole captive and led her out of the cell by her arm. Pulling a knife from inside his coat, he handed out some new orders, "Arnold, do something useful for a change and keep those intruders busy so me, Sugar Ray and the broad here can escape."
"No," Arnold responded indignantly, "Not until you start treating me with more respect."
"What?!" Capone asked in utter disbelief. "Uh... I don't have time for dis! Sugar R-" just as he turned to order his other ‘loyal' lackey to cover his escape, the rat spied the lizard already disappearing into the woods without. Growling in frustration, Capone hobbled off with Amanda in tow, hoping the time he spent trying to buy time hadn't caused him to run out of time.
"Fery good, Arnold," Amanda called back, "Now try to surrender without a fight!"
"Ok!" the musclebound mouse agreed, waving after the friendly captive.
"Thank you!" she replied.
"Shaddup!" Capone chastised his hostage. He was feeling more confident that he might actually get away, using Amanda as a hostage much longer may not even be necessary, just until they were out of sight of any pursuers. Then a couple swift sweeps of the knife and badda-bing badda- boom , no captive to slow him down and no one to tell them which way he went. He was as good as gone, he just had to keep looking back to make sure no one was tailing him.
"Look out," Amanda chirped happily, knowing full well the warning was too late to help her captor.
"Huh?" Capone grunted, looking ahead. He was just in time to get a detailed view of Terry's fist.
"That was for kidnaping me!" Terry growled as Capone reeled back, letting go of his captive. "This is for terrorizing my town!" the innkeeper added with another punch. "This is for kidnaping my friends!" he added, punctuating his comment with another closed fist. "This is for kidnaping my girlfriend!" prefaced the next blow. "This is for trying to kill her daughters!" Terry added before yet another punch. "And this is because you ticked me off!" he finished off with a final blow. The innkeeper had intended to grab Capone and force him to the ground, but the gangster saved him the trouble. All the excitement and ordeals of the afternoon had taken their toll and the hardened thug collapsed against the side of the old discharge pipe and slid to the ground.
Gadget and Dee had finally made it through Capone's lair and caught up with their mother just beyond the exit. As the group that had accompanied Terry to cut off Capone's possible escape tied up the fallen gangster and dragged a bound Sugar Ray Lizard back, Dee, looking over the unconscious rat, whined, "But I wanted to hit him some more!"
"I'll get those chains, Mom," Gadget offered, retrieving her lock-pick. She couldn't ignore the odd sensation of actually speaking to her mother in real life, nor could she ignore the growing sense of excitement.
"Wow," Dee commented upon seeing the two pairs of shackles that her mother wore, "They weren't taking any chances of you getting loose again, were they?"
"Makes sense considering the damage she did all by herself," Terry remarked.
"There we go," Gadget stated as the second set of shackles fell off, "Do you want me to get the broken pair off as well? I mean, they're not hindering you in any way but you might not want to keep wearing something that would just remind you of being held hostage."
Facing towards her eldest daughter, her paws held palms up, Amanda contemplated the sinister bracelets. She smiled. "I think I'll keep them, at least for now," Amanda concluded, "They don't remind me so much of being a hostage, they remind me of efrything I got back." Looking up, she couldn't help what came next. As she put her arms around Gadget, she pointed out, "You can't tell me there isn't time for this now," then added with tears forming in her eyes, "And efen if you do, I don't care! I want to hold my baby!"
"Achully, I think I said it could wait," Gadget corrected awkwardly, logic and emotion smashing headlong into each other as she returned the embrace, "But I know what you mean!" She added, as emotion choked her words, "I want to hold my Mommy!"
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