Cobwebs of the Past

A Chip N' Dale's Rescue Rangers story by Morgan Kohl

Featuring the voices of:
Alice Krige, James Earl Jones,
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny

(Continuity note: To fully enjoy and understand this story, the reader is reccomended to have knowledge of the RR episode "Good Times, Bat Times" (Duh.), Matt Plotecher's *excellent* short story "Plots", as well as my previous stories "Little Fangs", "Double Criss-Crossed", "Ready...Aim...FIRE!!!", and the continuation of "Little Fangs": "Dale's Decision", written by the incomparable Justin Reese. Drink deeply, and enjoy, fellow Rangerphiles.)


In a small alcove above a gushing river of sludge in the city's sewer system, one could find a small home that housed a single occupant. A dim amber nightlight illuminated its interior. Somewhere inside, a castoff human Walkman played Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata". The splashing waves of sewage outside added to the music a calming, almost haunting, effect. The walls of this residence were decorated with delicately hand-made silk cloths, most of them showing pictures woven into their centers. The creator of these wispy miniature masterpieces sat by herself, weaving yet another to add to her collection. At first glance, this scene might have seemed charming to a casual observer, cozy almost.

Until one took a closer look at the pictures woven into the silks. For each one showed a horrifying scene of unimaginable cruelty. Image after image showed the same young bat and chipmunk, sometimes together, sometimes separated, but always on the very edge of their grisly demises. Each portrait showed clearly the expression of complete terror and hopelessness on the face of the victim as they realized that their next heartbeat would be their last. Both chipmunk and bat had died dozens of times each on those walls. The weaver calmly hummed to herself as she finished the latest addition to her gallery of vengeance. The scene upon it showed the bat, bound securely, screaming out her last breath as a guillotine blade hurtled towards her tender throat. Victoria signed her initials to it with a tiny strand of her silk and smiled proudly.

The large black widow spider stood up from her plush armchair and looked for a spot to hang her latest creation. "It's almost time, you know," she said casually to someone unseen behind her. She seemed to glaze over for a second in fond remembrance. "Almost a year..."

Victoria's guest squeezed his eyes shut tight and struggled against his bonds with all the strength in his small body. The thick webbing across his mouth prevented the little fly from making even the tiniest of squeaks.

The elegant spider moved with the fluidity of a shadow. Her tone held a bit of calm sadness. "I didn't start out wanting to kill Foxglove. And I didn't even KNOW Dale. But after they took my Lou away... It was the only fair thing to do, you know. Foxglove took my love's life from me, so I will take the life of her lover, and her own." She cast a blameless glance at her captive. "See? It's only fair."

The fly buzzed his wings, hoping the vibrations would help loosen the webbing. No luck.

"I was foolish the first time," she continued, the dim yellow-orange light glinting off the red hourglass on her back. "I can admit that to myself now. I was too overconfident, too cocky, too sure that all the elements would come together to help me reach my goal. I guess I shouldn't have trusted fate to cooperate with me," she said, smirking. "I left them both too many exits and they took them all. The abduction won't be theatrical this time. I'll pluck them from their dreams like flower petals. They won't even know of their plight until I have already guaranteed my success!" She grinned brightly. "And then they will be MINE." Giddy, frightening eagerness flashed in her shining eyes.

Kicking at the solid cement wall behind him was no help either for the fly.

Victoria twirled herself around the center of the room. "And I have *such* a wonderful trap set up in place for them! How they will suffer! They _will_ know my pain and more! Much more!!"

She turned and looked coyly into the eyes of the terror-stricken fly. "Oh, but I'm sure I must be boring you immensely with all my talk. It's just nice to have some company down here once in a while."

"But I have an appointment to keep, so I do hope you'll join me for a little lunch," said the spider to the fly.

She smiled when he didn't speak a word of protest. Couldn't, actually. But no matter.

He shook with an almost tangible fear as her arachnid form filled his vision. Her round, pleasant face held no malice, no hate, no ravenous hunger. Only a small businesslike smile and a purposeful politeness. Victoria did not revel in her kills; she merely enjoyed them, like watching a favorite television show. Somehow, all this made her much more horrifying to the ruby eyes of the fly.

Her smile opened to reveal perfectly formed fangs.

She took the gag out of his mouth to hear his screams. She liked them.

Soon they were silent, leaving only the sound of the gently lapping water outside and the soft piano tones of Beethoven.

Victoria enjoyed her meal.

* * *

Foxglove the bat tipped back her head, opened her mouth wide, and plunged her razor-sharp fangs into the soft flesh of the chipmunk ensnared in her wings.

"Ouchie!" said Dale. Then he giggled like a naughty schoolboy. His eyes rolled up and his grin broadened. His head swam in a sea of bliss.

Foxy lapped daintily at the little cut she'd made on Dale's neck. She spoke romantic thoughts to him inbetween sips. "Oh Cutie, you're so tasty! Better than chocolate cake and icecream!"

Dale chuckled at the compliment. "Take all you need, my beautiful batty! Just think of me as your own personal soda fountain!"

Foxy snorted with laughter and hugged her lover tightly. She kissed him noisily on the cheek, then went happily back to her drink. Each time Dale gave his gift of blood to her, it seemed to taste a little sweeter. She thought back to the night she'd first revealed her vampirism to Dale and how terrified he'd been the first time she'd fed on him. But afterwards, she could feel him relaxing more each time. And now that he'd made the decision to join her by becoming a vampire too, there was no apprehension at all. Drinking from one another was now like a game, like a kiss, and sometimes like a bit of both. As much fun as cuddling together or playing in the park.

Foxglove wasn't quite sure how, but she found that the more of each other's essence they consumed, the stronger they both gradually became. It was still hardly noticeable, but the continued comingling of the two lovers' blood had had the effect of enhancing their conditions. She'd begun to notice her senses had been slowly sharpening ever since she and Dale had begun sharing themselves. And the bitemarks they left on each other's throats now only took a few minutes to heal completely.

The beautiful bat didn't understand exactly how drinking the blood of another vampire helped her own power grow, but she often wondered if their boundless, joyful love for one another had a hand in it as well. She wondered also if, after years of sharing their life's fluid together, could they possibly make each other into full-blooded vampires at some point in the future? And if so, what would that mean to them? How powerful would they become? If they stayed together long enough, would they become some kind of super-vampires? Sometimes Foxy wondered if she was just reading too many of Dale's Comic books.

But all questions were put aside for now. Foxglove was lost completely in Dale's fluffy, soft, sweet-smelling fur, and the tangy, coppery taste of his deep crimson blood.

"Now I know what a milkshake feels like!" Dale quipped.

The pink bat snorted again and smiled up into Dale's dark, deep, loving eyes. She gave the two tiny bites on his neck a soft kiss apiece. Then she leaned on Dale, gently toppling him so that the two lovebirds were laying side by side on his bed. She propped herself up on her elbow, and for a while, the two were content to gaze into each other's expressions and thank the fates for blessing them with such a wonderful, beautiful, perfect life partner. This was something they found themselves doing quite often. It was odd, considering how playful and energetic the couple usually was. But every now and then, their worlds would come to a complete stop and they would be overcome with the full breathtaking reality of their love for one another. Their silent moments were not common, but when they happened, they were deeper than the deepest well.

The petite lady bat glanced out the window of the small, cozy room they shared in Rescue Ranger headquarters. The white half-moon made the perfect nightlite. The precarious heaps of scrap metal and broken appliances in the surrounding junkyard looked to Foxglove as stately mountains in a range from some exotic land. It was raining pleasantly. Tiny drops plip-plopped onto the roof above in a syncopated rhythm. The air held the scent of moist grass. In the still night, Foxy could hear the occasional buzz of an insect flying past, or the flutter of another bat. She heard the creakings of headquarters settling. She heard the steady thump of her lover's liquidly relaxed heartbeat. And dozens of crickets supplied a haunting, dreamy string section.

Foxglove looked down upon seeing a yellow glint in the corner of her eye. The moon reflected brilliantly from the small gold ring that hung on a shining green ribbon around her neck. Her ring. Their ring. Dale's engagement ring. She'd nearly gone into a coma out of sheer overwhelming joy when he'd proposed to her. Knowing that they were to be married someday soon filled her whole being with an unearthly warmth. Soon, they would be united; to spend foreverandeverandever together. She felt light as a feather at the mere thought.

They hadn't set a date yet. It all seemed so sudden, they were both still getting over the fact that he'd proposed at all. Foxy was ecstatic and Dale was happily bewildered that he'd finally had the courage to ask her.

The fact that she had turned him into a vampire that same night was also keeping them from setting down any wedding plans. It was a tad confusing for Dale at first, getting used to the differences in his body; his enhanced senses, his slight increase in strength. And it even seemed as if gravity had less of an effect on him now. Not as if he was floating, but he did feel much more agile than usual. And when he practiced fencing with Chip, his leaps and dodges surprised even himself.

Coming to terms with the knowledge that he would have to drink blood at least once a month, every month, for the rest of his life was not as hard to get over as he'd thought. Foxglove had assured him many times that as long as they were together, they'd never go hungry. All that was needed was a small bite and a few slurps and that was it. They were, after all, only one-fourth-vampires after all.
Foxglove was both relieved and overjoyed that her secret condition had brought them both so close together, rather than tearing them apart, as she'd often feared it would before the fateful night when she revealed to him what she really was. She'd known from the first day they'd met that they would be together the rest of their lives. Now she knew for certain. They were already bonded together in a way that went well beyond most other couples. And as she twiddled her ring through her wingtips, she thought of how they would soon show the world that.

She gazed down through the blue moonlight at the goofy chipmunk beside her who was so much wiser than he let anyone know, including himself. Dale, who had given her life such meaning. "Thank you," she whispered to him in her gentle, feathery voice.

Dale reached up to tickle her chin playfully. She cooed happily at his touch. "Aw, Foxy, you don't have to thank me *every* time I make a deposit to the Fairmont National Blood Bank." They both giggled lightly at that. "You know I love to do it."

She put her wings around his shoulders. "I wasn't thinking about just that, Darling. I _am_ very grateful that you let me feed from you, of course. But I was thanking you for *everything*, Sweetie. For loving me, for caring about me, for protecting me, and mostly for just being the wonderful chipmunk that you are."

Dale was so touched by her words, he felt his eyes moisten. "You're welcome," he whispered. "And thank you too, Foxglove. For all those reasons and more."

Their bodies became one, as bat and chipmunk came together in a rich, soulful kiss.

* * *

The sewers were usually dark, damp and dreary, but tonight they seemed even worse somehow. The constant 'splishy splash' of water echoing from all sides was maddeningly repetitive. Drafts raced through the ancient, crumbling cement tunnels and arches. Black, evil-looking waters lazily flowed in unknown directions, their lightly lapping waves seemingly beckoning an unwitting traveler to fall in. And anyone with a sense of smell would immediately wish to be someplace else.

In short, Victoria was in her element.

Even so, her destination unnerved her. The fallen subway car in her path looked as big as a sleeping dinosaur to the diminutive spider. There was something, some vibe, emanating from it that warned of the dangers within. Like an anti-welcome mat. Victoria boldly strode forward, however. She had business to attend to tonight.

Crawling up the side of the car to peep in the window, Victoria saw that the great green beast was indeed within. His back and log-like tail were to her. He was lying casually on the floor of his home, poring over some unknown volume. A round lamp on a tall stand provided illumination. The rest of the car was filled, floor to ceiling, with books, books, books, books. Victoria reinforced her courage with thoughts of her righteous mission and pressed the buzzer on the door.

It was like watching a mountain come to life. The mammoth alligator sat up, marked his place, stretched his shoulders, and turned to face the door. His annoyance at being interrupted was easily seen. He grunted and waddled to the door. The car wobbled a bit with each mighty footstep. "WHO GOES THERE??" Sewer Al's voice was deep and foreboding, the bass so strong that Victoria could feel it in her stomach.

When Sewer Al opened the creakily-hinged door, Victoria scuttled in. "Good evening, neighbor," she stated with polite, professional crispness.

Sewer Al pulled his large, violet sweater down and adjusted his
small half-rim reading spectacles as he looked down at his tiny visitor. The massive well-read reptile was instantly curious about the rolled-up papers Victoria held on her back with a pair of her hands. He decided against growling at her for interrupting a good part of his current novel. At least until he knew the nature of her parcel. "Good evening, Victoria. Come to try selling me more information that I already know?" he said with a rumbling chuckle.

The arachnid merely smiled. (Victoria was feeling much more confident after noticing that the book Sewer Al had been in the midst of reading was 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban') "Not tonight, my friend. Tonight I have something you want and you have something I want. I merely wish to better both our positions by trade."

Sewer Al snorted and grinned out of the side of his mouth. "What could you possibly have that I need so badly? Your little notes? Have you written your memoirs, Victoria? If so, I think you're a few pages shy of a book!" The subway car shook with the green monster's laughter.

Victoria's eyes twinkled. "Oh, these aren't MY work, but nevertheless these _are_ very special pages! I've had them for quite a long while, just waiting for the time when you'd have some little tidbit of information that was useful to me.

The alligator arched an eyebrow. "Show me," he commanded. He reached down to gently take the obviously brittle papers from the black widow. At first, he frowned. It looked like little more than a hastily scribbled term paper. But when he read the words, he gasped.

"I've been in this room eight years, Clarice. I know they will never, ever let me out while I'm alive. What I want is a view. I want a window where I can see a tree, or even water."

"...Dr. Hannibal Lecter..." breathed Sewer Al.

Victoria grinned. She had him now. "Yes, that is Thomas Harris' handwriting," she confirmed. "I've checked thoroughly."

Sewer Al was still a bit in shock. "This... This is from an original, handwritten draft of The Silence Of The Lambs..." he whispered in almost reverent awe. He felt like he was holding the holy grail. "WHERRRRRE DID YOU *GET* THESE?!?" he bellowed with bullying eagerness.

"You live in the sewers long enough, you find things floating about here and there. I'm just glad I live upstream from you," she said simply. They had actually come from a briefcase that she'd spotted bobbing along in the muck nearly eight months ago. The blood smeared on the case made her discovery that much curiouser. She realized what a treasure these were, considering that the biggest literary buff and information broker in the animal kingdom was a stone's throw from her doorstep. There was no way he could say no to such a rare literary treasure.

"I have more of those you know," she tossed off casually. "I think one of them even has Harris' signature on it. I could run back home and get them if you like," she said with a sweet, poisonous smile.

Sewer Al knew he was caught like a fish on a hook. He'd let her cut out one of his kidneys with a tin can lid just to have the page he was holding now. His keen eye told him to a near certainty that these were genuine (memorizing various authors' handwriting styles was a favorite hobby of his), and he knew she certainly wasn't stupid enough to try tempting him with fakes. He sighed. No matter what she asked, there was no way he could refuse. "What do you want, Victoria?" he asked in a beaten tone.

"Oh, something very simple. You probably know it already. I just need the exact location of the Rescue Rangers' headquarters."

This surprised him. But considering the widow's devious nature, it didn't surprise him too much. "It is a deal," he said solemnly. "You will bring me the rest of what you have and I will tell you where the Rescue Rangers are. But only after ALL the pages are mine!"

"But of course. Now just sit tight and I'll be back in a jiffy."

"I'll be waiting," he assured her and watched her skitter off, her tiny feet clicking on the cold metal of the subway car. He greedily looked over his prize again. Then he chuckled to himself. He knew he had gotten a much better deal. Victoria was much too single-minded to consider selling the information to the Rangers' other enemies. No, she undoubtedly meant to mount some attack on them for whatever vengeful reason. And as Sewer Al well knew, trying to kill a Rescue Ranger was like trying to hold one's right elbow in their right hand: completely futile. Of all the customers he served choice gossip to, the Rangers were the ones he was most wary of. Many of his other clients were far more deadly, and nearly all were much larger, but the damned tenacity and ingenuity of those rodents made him vow NEVER to get on their bad side.

To go up against them, Victoria may as well have been surrendering herself into their arms. He was certain the information he was about to give her would never leave her lips.

As he waited for her to return with more treasure, he wondered if he would ever see her again after tonight. He kind of hoped so. After a week or so with no word of her, he could pay a visit to her home and help himself to all the draft pages he was sure she'd leave behind to use for continued bribery. Yes, he had gotten an *infinitely* better deal...

* * *

Gadget Hackwrench strolled into RRHQ after a few long, happy hours spent with Crisscross, randomly slapping electronics together in the hopes of stumbling upon something useful. They talked the whole time about nothing and everything in general while munching on Fritos and listening to Oingo Boingo. Gadget was delighted to find that Chris never interrupted her when she found herself rambling on and on about a hundred or so topics at once. Rather, he seemed fascinated by her rollercoaster-like loops of logic.

Sometimes he would even jump in and they'd have a team ramble. Just the other day they'd come to the interesting realization that since their eyes were unable to percieve the vast bulk of the entire spectrum of light, they were actually colorblind, and therefore unable to make any kind of scientifically certain judgments on any given object's true color. For if their eyes were indeed able to perceive ultraviolet light, infrared (well, Chris could see that), gamma rays and the rest of all the forms of light in the universe in addition to their accepted spectrum of visible colors, Gadget's coveralls, for example, would most likely be perceived as much more than just lavender, possibly even colors that organic beings are completely unaware of. The logical conclusion of all this was that the grass is not green and the sky is not blue.

On a similar note, their tinkering that evening had produced a thingamabob that changed colors in relation to the sounds around it. Neither fox nor mouse knew what to do with it, but it was fun to look at, and they both agreed that if clothing could be made that reacted in a similar fashion, that would be neat.

Gadget washed her paws in the kitchen sink and walked into the livingroom. All the lights were out and the main room was illuminated only by the glow of the large, central TV set. She wondered why, then she spotted two furry heads close together on the couch. Chip and Tammy were snuggled together watching what looked like a complex, suspenseful spy thriller. Chip seemed totally entranced by the film, probably trying to figure out whodunnit, while Tammy looked like she was much more entranced by Chip.

The young, slender squirlette seemed to be growing on Chip like ivy. She was hugging him so close, they looked like Siamese twins. Her wide eyes stared at the screen and her hands moved constantly; the right darting with machinelike regularity into the huge bowl of popcorn at her side, and her left clutched at Chip's jacket tightly.

Gadget approached the two and watched the movie for a few moments. It looked like the type of film where if you hadn't been watching from the beginning, you'd be hopelessly lost. Gadget didn't give it much thought anyway. She smiled at seeing her two friends enjoying such a close moment. Their love, like Dale and Foxglove's, brought a smile to everyone around them.

A thought popped into Gadget's head out of nowhere. She had to physically restrain herself from laughing out loud. Trying her best to keep a straight face, she tapped Tammy on the back.

The squirrel girl swiveled around instantly. "OH!! Oh, hi Gadget! You startled me! Whatcha been up to?" she said as she caught her breath.

"Not much. Say, Tammy, are you angry about something?"

Tammy frowned puzzledly. "No, um, why would you ask that?"

Gadget grinned ear to ear. "Well, I couldn't help noticing that Chip on your shoulder!"

Chip and Tammy were momentarily stunned into silence.

Gadget quickly ran out of the room giggling as both of her friends booed and threw popcorn at her for that awful pun.

Gadget darted into her room and slumped back against the closed door. She laughed so hard she thought she'd burst. Partly because she couldn't remember the last time she'd come up with a joke like that out of the blue. Crisscross was definitely having an affect on her sense of humor. She'd never laughed more or harder since she'd met him. The mousette made a mental note to tell Chris her joke later. He'd get a kick out of it.

* * *

Meanwhile, no one noticed when a delicate black hand silently eased open the hall window and a swift dark intruder entered the Rangers' home...

* * *

Dale smiled dreamily as he watched Foxglove's lovely sleeping form swinging gently to and fro as she hung from her perch in the cool, blue night. She was snoring. He loved the sound of it. No one else could snore as cutely as Foxy could.

He wished they could be dozing peacefully side by side tonight. For the past few weeks, ever since they'd become engaged and had moved into the same room, they'd both been making a valiant effort to adapt to one another's sleeping styles. It was taking a while, but they were making some progress. Sleeping in a bed felt as odd to Foxglove as sleeping upside down did to Dale. For one thing, her wings always ached in the morning. Nevertheless, Foxglove had managed to make it through the night a few times in a comfy cot beside Dale's bed. And he had almost gotten used to the blood rushing to his head when he dangled alongside Foxy in a special inverted sleeping bag that hung from the ceiling (Gadget had made it as a gift for them). Dale, meanwhile, dreamed of the day when he could snuggle together with his sweetie-pie and feel her wings draped around him as she dozed.

Dale licked his lips, still able to detect the tangy sweet flavor of bat blood. After she had enjoyed a drink from him earlier, they'd cuddled a bit and Dale had then enjoyed a drink from her. He had no regrets anymore about letting Foxglove turn him into a vampire. Once he'd gotten past all the dumb Dracula cliches that pop culture had drilled into him, and his own heebie-jeebies about drinking blood, he found his new life to be rather pleasant. His senses were sharper, he felt physically stronger and healthier, and sharing blood with Foxglove was eerily thrilling.

Even better was the knowledge that soon they would be chipmunk and wife. He still smiled just thinking about her jubilant acceptance of his proposal. And in a few more months or so, when they were ready, they would be wed.

Dale never thought he'd look forward to giving up his carefree bachelor lifestyle, but one look into those gorgeous batmaid eyes put all his fears to rest. Foxglove was not going to change him, nag him, harass him or enslave him. They would become a unit. More than the sum of their parts. Perfect harmony like a chocolate-peanut butter cup. Dale could not have asked for a more perfect mate than his beloved Foxy-cakes. Every moment they were together was the happiest of his life.

The happy chipmunk closed his eyes and pulled his 'Kablammo Man' blankets tight around him. He rolled over and nestled into the pillow, thinking 'How could life get any better?'.

He felt breath on his nose.

He opened his eyes to see another pair staring back at him. The eyes of the black widow spider that had tried to murder him almost exactly one year ago.

"Hello, prey," Victoria said quietly.

And then Dale was overcome by the scent of chloroform.

Victoria smiled at her work. "So easy..." she mused, then went to work on her next target.

Part two

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