Cobwebs of the Past
A Chip N' Dale's Rescue Rangers story by Morgan Kohl
The clock on the warehouse wall struck twelve midnight exactly, just as something outside the warehouse took an incredible running leap, ricocheted like a superball off several boxes and a pickup truck, and soared nearly straight up the side of the wall, slamming haphazardly into the wire-mesh-covered ceiling-level window with enough raw force to tear through the mesh and completely obliterate the glass behind it. It looked like a burst of flame flying into the dim, grey room, but on second glance, it turned out to be brilliant orange fur.
Gadget and the others were all quite grateful that Crisscross' maker had been thoughtful enough to include seatbelts in his design.
The window Crisscross had slammed his way through was nearly even with the beam that supported the crane mechanism, which was at the moment holding the forty-gallon-water-tank directly above the attached aquariums that Dale and Foxglove were trapped within. When the window shattered, glass pieces flew everywhere, including a large icicle-shaped chunk that sliced through the air like a bullet and embedded itself dead center in the rusting control box atop the crane mechanism. It ripped through the box's flimsy cover with no trouble and chewed up the inner circuitry, crossing several wires in such a way as to cause a good-sized electrical explosion. The explosion sent a jarring vibration along both ends of the black-painted beam. Rust showered down like rain.
It was an old crane, and since it had always worked just well enough, it hadn't been given any decent maintenance for nearly five years. The explosion proved its undoing. The bolts holding on the chain that carried the crane, now turned almost to dust by years of rusting, snapped under the strain, and the chain broke free and lashed out like a bullwhip. With the chain snapped, the crane's hold on the more-than-half-full-and-still-incredibly-heavy forty-gallon-water-tank slipped, causing it to violently tip over like a miniature Titanic. Twenty four gallons of cold, grimy water cascaded straight down.
Victoria looked up and gasped in shock. This was not part of her plans _at_all_.
The force of twenty four gallons of water falling sixteen feet straight down from ceiling to floor was incredible. It landed directly on the two aquariums.
Foxglove looked up, rattled, at the window as it exploded. Then a split-second later, another explosion above made her jerk her gaze straight up to see an unimaginably huge force heading straight towards her faster than she could ever hope to react to.
The force of the water hitting the ground was enough to shake the very walls of the warehouse. The sound alone was too loud to be heard, it was *felt*, like a bullet through your stomach. When the water poured into Dale's already-full aquarium, it had nowhere to go but straight out. All four walls shattered simultaneously and the water went on and out as if the glass had never even been there. A chipmunk was carried along with it, and was swept almost six feet away by the force of the wave, before crashing awkwardly into the side of a crate.
Landing squarely on his head with a loud *BONK*, Dale's body shuddered, his mouth opened and "OW!" came out. He blinked and vaguely realized that he wasnÕt dead anymore. As torrents of water flowed into him, he shakily pushed himself up into a sitting position with one arm, then rubbed his head with the other, before realizing it was sprained. "OW!" came out again. Confused to his absolute limit, his head spinning like a top, Dale mumbled "Stop the ride, Mommy, I wanna get off," and passed out.
Since Foxglove's aquarium had been empty, she was not so lucky as Dale. The water slammed its fist into the mesh she was hanging from. She fell to the floor and roughly hit bottom just as Dale's aquarium exploded. Glass and liquid bashed into her from her left, throwing her across the aquarium. She was directly in the center, like a bullseye, when the bulk of the water above shoved its way into the aquarium, filling the glass rectangle in a fraction of a second and exploding out its walls as well.
The water leaped up in an enormous splash, crashed back down to Earth, and rushed across the floor of the warehouse, tossing aside empty boxes, ruining merchandise, overturning card tables and even shorting out the Pepsi machine. Finally, the water found its exit via the cracks under the loading dock door that no one had yet bothered to fill in.
As Crisscross barreled through the window, he suddenly realized just how high up he was. There was nothing but air and concrete below him. He might live through a fall of this height, but he knew the Rangers wouldn't. Not even the seatbelts and his internal rubber padding could cushion an impact that hard. He'd have to take the full impact with his legs, which he knew would completely destroy them.
Just as he was wondering if he'd ever get through a case with the Rescue Rangers _without_ being utterly mangled, an explosion to his northwest grabbed his attention. A second later, a humongous amount of water fell and hit the floor. It sent up a giant wave, which the foxbot fell directly into. It tossed him aside like a cat toy and he flew backwards across the room, smash-landing on his back through the top of a wooden crate.
He landed on something soft. It was enough to absorb his fall and leave him with only a few minor fur cuts that Gadget would be able to take care of with a sewing needle. He checked his internal screen, even X-raying his middle, and was relieved to find his passengers were only shaken, not smashed. He breathed a sigh of relief. He looked down to see what it was he'd landed on.
A shipment of carnival prizes; five dozen stuffed cartoon foxes.
Chris tossed back his head in a laugh, then thanked fate, luck, destiny, God, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Jehovah, the Great Spirit and even Cthulu for good measure.
Meanwhile, Dale had managed to get to his feet. He did his best to avoid putting any pressure on his bad arm, which was definitely sprained at the elbow, but thankfully not broken.
He nearly slipped on the wet concrete. Water still trickled past him. He looked down at it, then up to its source. It was a pretty incredible sight. Smoke poured like soup from the crane on the beam above where their aquariums had been. The forty-gallon-water-tank hung empty by two corners. It swung lazily to and fro, looking as if it was about to snap at any second. Just below, the aquariums had been reduced to their bent, sagging metal frames and a few hanging shards of glass. Broken, glistening glass pieces encircled the wreckage in a radius of several feet. Dale whistled in surprise. This was _some_ destruction!
But then his eye fell on a tiny, pinkish lump laying limply on the concrete floor just outside the aquarium frames. Blood pooled out around it. Dale felt as if his heart had stopped.
He ran to her as fast as he could, not caring about the cuts on his feet as he stomped through minefields of broken glass. He tripped twice, but was on his feet in an instant, not even feeling the shock of pain from hitting his sprained left arm.
He reached her, fell to his knees, and skidded down to her side. He took her wing in his paw, trying to find a pulse. All he could say was her name, over and over. He turned her onto her back. Her face held nothing. "Foxy!!" He leaned in closer. She wasn't breathing. Her heart wasn't beating. "No no no no no no." He delicately propped open her eyelid with his fingers. She saw nothing. This could NOT be happening.
Then Dale heard a small creak and a small snap. He jerked his head up.
The forty-gallon-water-tank had broken off and had begun to fall.
In moments like this, the body produces enough excess adrenaline and other chemicals that one is able to perform feats of strength and athleticism they never would have been capable of in a normal state. Dale took hold of Foxglove's wing, pulled her up, and ran away from the aquariums like a rocket, faster than he had ever gone before in his life, dragging her behind him and moving so fast that she never even touched the ground.
The tank crashed. The 'clang' resonated through the warehouse, as if the metal itself was screaming at its death. The reverberation thundered across the concrete floor, sending up hundreds of tiny waves and knocking Dale off his feet. He skidded to a painful stop on his belly and felt his wind getting knocked out as Foxglove smashed into him from behind. The tank shuddered and tipped over onto its side, sending another ear-piercing metallic screech screaming through the air.
It took a few seconds for the ground to stop shaking and his ears to stop ringing. Dale took several long, slow breaths, trying to get his body back to some semblance of normal functioning. His heart would not stop thumping though. It took him a few moments to just get his mind wrapped back around all that had happened in the last few seconds. Something had happened that broke the crane, the aquariums blew up, all the water burst out, he'd hurt his arm and hit a box, and then he saw Foxglove.
Dale turned himself over, gently rolling Foxglove onto her back at the same time. He knelt over her. She still did not move. "Foxy." He gently slapped her cheeks. "Foxy..." He scooped up some water and splashed it onto her face. "Foxy!" He held her wing to his heart, feeling tears begin to stream from his eyes. "FOXY! Oh please, Foxy, wake up! Wake up! Oh please, please, please! Foxy! Foxy!! Oh Foxy..."
He sniffed and wiped his tears off on his arm. "You can't be dead... You can't be." He scooped her up in his good arm and gently hugged her. She was cold. His tears fell on her face and rolled silently down her cheeks. "You can't be gone, sweetiepie... I- I should have gone with you..."
The quiet and the stillness of the warehouse closed in around Dale as he held his lover tight. The only sound around him was his own weeping.
Until a voice broke the silence.
"If you really want to die, Dale, I can certainly have that arranged."
Dale's entire body stiffened. His eyes popped open. His teeth gritted. He lifted his head slowly and *she* was there. He felt a rage inside him unlike any he had ever felt before. "Victoria..."
He jumped up and lunged with all his strength and anger at the black widow. Foxglove fell to the side and lay still.
And the clock on the warehouse wall switched to twelve oh one...
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