Cobwebs of the Past
A Chip N' Dale's Rescue Rangers story by Morgan Kohl
Victoria was absolutely furious. She had plotted her deathtrap perfectly! She had left nothing to chance! She knew she hadn't left behind a single clue when she'd abducted her victims, certainly nothing that would let the Rangers deduce her location. How had they found her? How dare they meddle in her affairs?! She knew her cause was just, and yet somehow, impossibly, both her targets had survived! It couldn't be! She had SEEN Foxglove's battered body. Had FELT the venom ooze from her fangs into Dale's throat. She was a little miffed about having to kill them in the wrong order, but she had at least known for certain that her crusade was at an end; they were both dead. Yet now they were waving their aliveness right in her face! Kissing and hugging in open, flaunting defiance of both her, and logic as well! It made the black widow angry enough that she wished for hair just so she could tear it out in frustration.
She looked again and saw Dale sitting there alone, looking up at something.
It took Victoria a few seconds to realize that Foxglove was diving straight at her like a cruise missile.
Evil as she was, Victoria was not stupid. The look of pure grinning vengeance on Foxglove's face told her it was time to run and hide. The spideress skittered away as fast as her eight legs could carry her.
She was on a high shelf lined with dozens of boxes filled with office papers. There was just enough room behind them for someone of her size to slip behind. She ran several feet away and ducked into the deep shadow cast behind one of the boxes.
Foxglove saw Victoria vanish from sight, but was undeterred. She smiled to herself. She was truly looking forward to squashing Victoria like the bug she was. Dale was right. Vicky wasn't worth hating. Hate clouded the mind and muddied one's judgement. Foxy felt filled with happiness now. She was going to beat the snot out of Victoria and have fun doing it! She was going to prove once and for all, to herself as well as Victoria, that Foxglove Fairmont wasn't going to be a helpless, frightened victim any longer!
Just because the spider was hidden from sight did not mean she was hidden from sound as well. Foxglove hovered along the length of the shelf, peeking through the spaces between each of the large brown cardboard boxes, all the time using her ears like two big fuzzy radar dishes. She posed an artful demonstration of why bats are the greatest insect predators in the world. Soon, she'd picked up on the sound of Victoria's breathing. Foxy silently fluttered in close, squeezed in between the boxes and made a sudden grab at her foe with her wing.
Victoria shrieked like a scared larvae and scrambled away in the other direction.
Foxglove chuckled. Now that she had a lock on Victoria's sound, there was nowhere the black widow could hide. Foxy swished ahead and made another grab for her prey just as she was about to leap off the shelf. Victoria escaped the bat's clutches by a hair and instantly reversed direction. Foxglove had no trouble following her. The batfemme played cat-and-mouse with Vicky for a minute or so, herding her this way and that, intentionally letting her slip away until she was ready to catch her. "Come out, come out, wherever you are, Vicky!" she sang merrily.
"Don't call me Vicky!!" the spider instantly roared back.
Foxglove tossed back her head and laughed. "Vicky Vicky Vicky Vicky Vicky Vicky!!!" she taunted, getting an angry snarl in response.
Hearing her enemy's voice helped Foxy pinpoint her just as if she had X-ray vision straight through the box. 'Thanks, Vickykins,' she thought to herself. Foxglove hovered silently, waiting to see if Victoria would make the next move and trying to think of a way to flush her out. What was Victoria's weakness? Her arrogance, her inability to accept blame, her vanity, her pride... That was it!
"Hey Vick-TORRR-ia!" Foxglove called out, intentionally over-enunciating her name. "Quit hiding in the shadows! Why don't you come out and face me!"
No response, as Foxglove had expected.
"Are you afraid of me now, Victoria?" shouted Foxglove, a harder tone to her voice now. "Are you scared? Are you a COWARD?!"
That was more than the black widow could take. No one, especially not that little hussy Foxglove, called her a coward. _No_One_. She cautiously peeked out from behind the box to get a sense of her surroundings. She looked up and saw that there was a wooden beam directly above where foxglove was hovering. Victoria hatched a nicely devious idea.
She skittered to the other side of the box, just loud enough to ensure Foxglove would hear. Then Victoria turned and went back the other way, moving as silently as she could. She looked out for a split second and could see that Foxglove was looking just where she wanted her to.
"Come on, show yourself! Fight like a woman, you nasty ol' spider!" Foxy yelled out at the space behind the box.
Victoria grinned as she noiselessly made her way past several boxes, then started up the wall. She could still hear Foxglove throwing empty insults at where she'd been. She had that dumb bat fooled perfectly. She wanted to laugh out loud, but controlled herself, not wanting to give away her location.
The black widow scuttled along the beam until she was directly above her victim. She began to let out a long strand of spider silk. She anchored it to the beam and carefully measured it in her mind, making absolutely certain she wouldn't fall short. She leered over the side of the beam. Foxglove was completely helpless below her. The bat was still shouting at the box! It was too perfect.
Victoria grinned with utter malice. She had Foxglove right where she wanted her. She flexed her claws, bared her deadly fangs, and leapt off the beam, diving headfirst straight at her enemy...
...Completely unaware that Foxglove had heard her every movement, knew exactly where she was and what her plans were, and actually had Victoria right where SHE wanted!
Foxglove heard the wind whistle as Victoria plummeted towards her. The plucky bat steeled her muscles and waited until the spider was mere inches from her...
Foxglove suddenly tossed herself backwards, performing a beautiful midair somersault, kicking out with her right leg and coming up at just the right instant to kick Victoria square in the nose.
There was a muffled splat and Victoria went flailing through the air backwards. Foxglove regained her balance and watched as the spider came to the end of her thread and started to swing back. Foxglove grinned and flew towards the oncoming arachnid at top speed, meeting her halfway and headbutting her hard in the stomach.
Foxglove put a spin on it and sent Vicky spinning as well. The spider twirled around and around like a top at the end of her silk, completely out of control and nauseatingly dizzy. Foxglove fluttered back and watched, laughing at her foe whirling around to and fro like a pendulum. She had no idea a fight could be this much fun! She finally understood why Monterey liked a good brawl so much.
Victoria's equilibrium was at zero. She couldn't tell down from up and she couldn't stop her head from reeling. The enraged widow muttered an angry curse at Foxglove as she tried to get ahold of her silk and stop her momentum. She finally did, but needed a few moments more to convince her brain that she'd really stopped moving. Okay, the ground was down there and the ceiling was up there. Now where was that damned bat?!
Victoria turned, snarling, seeing Foxglove hovering nonchalantly behind her. Foxy grinned at the black widow and blew her a raspberry with the entire length of her enormous chiropterid tongue.
Her calm composure lost completely, Victoria snarled like a mountain lion and swung at the hated bat, intending to rip her throat out with her bare hands.
Rule number one when fighting a bat: land-based creatures should never engage a bat in aerial combat. It's just a very bad idea.
Foxglove effortlessly sidestepped Victoria's attack and konked the passing spider on the head with her wing. Not a very effective attack, but it got her point across. Victoria came at Foxy again, with similar results, gaining her a slap across the face. Foxglove laughed gaily. This was too easy! She was letting Victoria's hatred act against her. The spider was concentrating so hard on how much she hated Foxglove, her mind couldn't concentrate enough on her fighting. For Foxglove, it was like hitting a pinata without a blindfold.
But enough games for now. It was time to let Victoria know how much Foxy was displeased with her and Dale's treatment at the many hands of her adversary. She remembered going to the movies with Dale and seeing The Matrix, and noticing how similar the slow-time fighting was to how she looked in flight. Foxy pictured herself decked out like Trinity: black trenchcoat flapping behind her like a cape, shiny black boots, black spandex jumpsuit and a pair of wicked silver shades. The batfemme grinned toothily and nosedived Victoria, almost able to hear the ultra-cool techno soundtrack playing over the fight.
Foxglove made a nice midair 180 degree spin, catching Victoria across the face with a flying kick. She dipped underneath the spider and clutched several of her spindly legs in her footclaws, then diving and turning in the air, she twisted the spider's limbs until Vicky shouted in pain. The bat zipped back up again to smack the spider across the back of her head, making her teeth clack shut and bite her own tongue.
Foxglove was in the zone. She had never fought like this before and she hoped she would never have to again. Her fierceness almost frightened her. She thought about showing some mercy, but then her mind flashed back on the image of her lovermunk lying on the concrete floor, staring at nothing, twitching and dying. Foxy growled. Victoria needed to be shown no mercy. She needed to learn that her mad, murderous schemes would be tolerated not a moment longer, and that she and Dale were real people, and real consequences came from trying to hurt them.
Distracted by her thoughts for a split second, Victoria was able to reach out and give Foxy's wing a hard yank, making the batfemme falter and nearly fall out of the sky. Luckily, they were quite a ways up, and Foxy had ample time to regain the air under her wings. She shot back up, grabbed one of Victoria's legs, and roughly flipped her, sending her tumbling end over end. Foxy swung back around and landed a well-placed roundhouse kick right on Vicky's red hourglass. Again, she let the spider's momentum carry her back into her range, then clamped her nemesis' head in her footclaws, giving it a crushing squeeze. Victoria shrieked in pain and Foxglove swatted her again to shut her up.
Finally, Foxglove felt she'd done all she could to Victoria, physically. Now came the finale. Now it was time to get at Victoria through her *mind*.
Foxglove swooped up and hung upside down on Victoria's silk strand so they were face to face, so close they could feel each other's breath. "Hi, Vicky," Foxy snarled.
Sickeningly dizzy and in terrible pain, Victoria could barely respond. "You... You... I'll get you, foxglove! Next year!"
Foxglove grinned evilly. "Oh, there won't BE a next year, Victoria! Not for you at least! Do you know *why* Dale and I survived your little traps?"
"Because you're the most persistently annoying brats I've ever met!" the spider spat back.
"Oh, it's not just that! Why do you think your venom didn't kill Dale, hmm? What do you think i was doing when I was leaning over him?" Foxy let Victoria think about it for a second before saying "I was sharing my blood with him, Victoria. Do you know why?"
Foxglove leaned in closer, her eyes showing pure fire. She whispered, almost hissing "Because we are vampires!!"
Victoria drew back in horror. "No! You can't be!" she shrieked. Foxglove had gotten lucky. In addition to the spider's brain not working quite right from getting tossed and spun around so much, Victoria's only irrational fear, one she'd had since childhood, was of vampires.
Foxglove opened her mouth, giving Victoria a good look at her razor-sharp fangs. "Oh but we are! And you should know you can't kill a vampire without a stake through the heart. If you'd tried that, you might have won, But your little battrap wouldn't have harmed Dale or I in the slightest! We could have floated in those aquariums for days until we found a way out!" she said, her voice bragging, enjoying this chance to act out the part of the monstrous vampire from dozens of cheesy horror flicks.
And it was working, too! She could clearly see the fear in Victoria's eyes. Foxglove turned herself around so that she hung behind Victoria. "Do you know what happens when one is bitten by a vampire? A bloodthirsty member of the undead?" she crooned in a mockery of victoria's own silky, chilling tone.
The spider was too afraid to reply, but she feared she already knew the answer. She trembled all over as Foxglove traced a wingtip lightly up and down her neck.
Foxy had to keep herself from giggling. She was really hamming it up and Victoria believed every word! "You become one of us, Victoria! And I can even choose what _kind_ of vampire to turn you into! I could make you into a living, decaying corpse. Shunned by daylight! Unable to ever sate your hunger for the blood of the living! All with one little bite..."
She could feel Victoria shivering in sheer terror. Time for the denouement!
Foxy opened her mouth wide, letting the widow feel the heat of her breath, letting a single drop of drool fall on Victoria's neck. She oh so delicately touched the very tips of her fangs to the spider's throat, and felt Victoria stiffen like a board in response. "Just one little bite..." she whispered softly, almost tenderly.
"A BITE JUST LIKE THIS!" And with that, Foxglove plunged her teeth into her nemesis' flesh, easily breaking through her exoskeleton to taste the soft meat inside.
Victoria screamed and screamed and screamed.
Seeing that her foe was completely paralyzed by fear, Foxglove swiftly took the opportunity to yank as hard as she could on the thread holding the two of them up. Of course, it was too tough to snap, but it did come loose from the beam, exactly as Foxy had planned. She grabbed Victoria's shoulders with her footclaws as the two of them plummeted straight down to the concrete floor. Victoria was completely mindless from fear. Foxglove winced at her loud, piercing screams.
At the last second, Foxglove clutched her prey tighter, spread her wings, and stopped their descent. She dropped Victoria to the floor and immediately picked up the fine silk strand. Foxy ran in circles around the still-screaming spider, tying her up like a christmas present. Foxglove was thorough in her work, making sure not a single one of Victoria's arms or legs was the slightest bit loose. Foxy came to the end of the strand and looped it back under itself, then tying a strong triple knot in it and mentally giving a great big thanks to Gadget for teaching her how to use her wingtips like fingers to do delicate work. Like knot-tying for instance.
Foxy admired her work. Victoria was beaten, humiliated, scared witless and trussed up like a fishing lure! And she knew Vicky had brought it all on herself. Foxy chuckled, noticing that even the black widow's own silk had been used to fully foil her!
Foxglove took a moment to step back and fully realize her accomplishment. She had survived Victoria's heartless deathtrap, reunited with her lost family, saved her darlingmunk's life, and had completely triumphed over her adversary. She smiled proudly. For the first time, she really, truly felt like a Rescue Ranger.
Victoria came to her senses and looked around. She noticed she was on the ground first, then realized she was tied up. She struggled angrily, but uselessly, against her bonds. She looked up to see Foxglove laughing. She was *laughing*! At her!! Victoria clenched her teeth and felt her rage coursing through her like a white-hot flame. She looked straight at Foxglove and called her a very bad word.
Foxy wasn't fazed a bit. She 'tsk tsk'ed. "Now, that wasn't very nice, Victoria!"
The spider responded with several more very bad words.
Foxglove acted shocked. "Oh Vicky! I'm *scandalized*! Don't you know if you keep using language like that, Santa Claus won't bring you anything for Christmas?" Foxglove tossed back her head and laughed happily. Victoria couldn't hurt her anymore, ever!
Victoria glared daggers at the bat. She opened her mouth to say something truly vicious. "Listen you-"
Foxglove cut her off suddenly by snapping the spider's mouth closed with her thumbclaw. She leaned over to look straight in her enemy's eye. "No, Victoria, it's time for *YOU* to listen. You are evil, understand? You are wrong about me killing Lou and you always have been. You've been just awful to me and Dale and you've never had any reason for it!" Foxy said forcefully, her heart thumping proudly at finally changing from feeling powerless, to feeling powerful. "I only hope you learn one very simple lesson from this."
"And what might that be?" Vicky asked sarcastically when Foxy took her wing away.
Foxglove grinned devilishly. She suddenly reached out and grabbed Victoria's head and shouted right in her face "DON'T YOU NEVER MESS WITH MY MAN!!!"
She then calmly shoved a wad of webbing in Vicky's mouth, which shut her up nicely.
Ignoring the rude spider's protests, Foxglove tipped Vicky onto her side and began rolling her out of the room. She giggled freely, knowing it was bad to derive such enjoyment from humiliating her helpless foe, but unable to help herself. Besides, Victoria's whole problem was in taking herself too seriously. She needed to be taken down a notch or so for her own good.
The triumphant chiropterid pushed her prisoner around like a beachball until she noticed the sound of the other Rangers talking. They were just around the next pyramid of crates.
Uh oh. She'd forgotten about that.
She'd performed her blood ritual with Dale and had fluttered off without even looking back to see how they'd taken it. She didn't know at all what to expect. She wondered what they might have done to Dale! But no, she had to stop thinking like that. She scolded herself again. She wasn't going to think that way and worry all the time anymore. She knew the Rangers loved her and they'd listen to her and accept her. Foxglove took in a deep breath, let it out slowly, held her head up high, and lightly kicked Victoria around the corner, following her as bravely as the little bat could.
She tried to prepare herself for anything, but what she was least prepared for was what she got. Cheering. The other Rangers, with Dale out in front, cried out upon seeing Foxglove, congratulating her for vanquishing her foe. When they saw how Victoria was tied up and rolling along like a cheese wheel, all of them burst out laughing. Foxy felt her smile spread as big as it could get. She reveled in the praise and felt ten feet tall.
Victoria, meanwhile, was so completely outraged, she could only gnash her teeth and seethe silently. She would not give this ridiculous situation the dignity of acknowledging it.
Foxy gave the spider-ball a light soccer kick, sending her rolling over to the Rangers and flopping over onto her head. They all had a good chuckle at that (excluding Vicky, of course). Foxglove walked proudly up to them, politely tipped Victoria rightside-up, and received a great big hug from Dale. "Good job, Sweetiepie!" he told her.
"Thanks, Dale! It was easy, it really was! I just kept my spirits up and wouldn't let Vicky get me angry at her!"
"Gosh, I wish I coulda helped you," Dale said, "but I sprained my elbow and..." Dale stopped, looking suddenly confused. He grabbed his left arm and felt all up and down it. "Well, I *had* sprained my elbow! Gee, you did a REALLY good job fixin' me up, batty-o-mine!"
Foxy looked Dale's arm over too. If he hadn't said anything, she would never have known there had been a thing wrong with it at all. It appeared she wasn't the only one to experience a miraculous healing tonight. "Wow, that's neat, Cutie! I don't even remember helping you with that. Maybe your own vampire's blood helped fix it."
At that, Dale suddenly got that naughty-puppy-dog look that meant he was about to apologize for something he'd done wrong. "Um, Foxy, I..."
"What is it, Brighteyes?" she asked, unworried.
Dale smiled at the pet name, but then looked sheepish again. "I kinda hadta tell the guys our secret."
Foxglove couldn't hold back a gasp. "Oh no!"
Dale gave her a reassuring look. "Well, they pretty much figured it out on their own after seeing you do that neat blood thing with me. By the way Foxy, that was really smart! Thanks for saving me!" he gave her a quick, crushing hug and a swift passionate smooch. "I just filled in the details for 'em."
So they knew. All of them. They finally knew her darkest secret. Would they still accept her as part of the team? Would they be scared of her and Dale? Would she lose their trust? Foxy brushed the worries away from her mind and looked up into the Ranger's faces, and realized she didn't see any of that there. It looked like their attitudes toward her hadn't changed at all. 'Could they have accepted me so soon?' she wondered, the idea so incredible she didn't even dare hope to believe it was true.
Monterey reached deep into his coat pocket, fiddled around a bit, and suddenly tossed something at Foxglove. "Here, Foxy-luv, catch!"
Confused, Foxy caught it out of the air with her wings and looked down to see what it was. It was a small golden cross with a little loop on the top. Probably taken from a human necklace. She looked up, obviously perplexed.
Monty grinned. "Well, it don't seem to affect her any, I guess she's okay!" He let out a deep belly laugh and the others joined in.
Foxy stood speechless. Her mouth hung open. They were laughing! No, not just that, they were joking! They actually accepted her vampirism enough to be able to joke about it! They weren't terrified, they weren't angry, they weren't distrustful... They were laughing!!!
Dale gave her a peck on the cheek. "I know, they are taking it rather well, aren't they?"
Foxy turned to him, her mouth still gaping, her eyes now filling with tears of absolute joy. She threw herself at Dale, hugging him ferociously. She didn't think she could have felt greater happiness tonight, but she was wrong. Her deepest secret was finally out in the open, and no one minded a bit. "Dale! It's so wonderful! Everything's okay now!"
Tammy came up to them, smiling. "We were a bit freaked out at first, when you did that blood-swapping thing with Dale, but after you left, he told us all about what you two are really like. Heck, I think it's cool! I'm best friends with real live vampires!"
Foxy chuckled. "Really?" She looked to all of the rangers at once. "So, you're really not scared of me and Dale at all?" she asked in happy amazement.
Zipper flitted over and landed on Tammy's shoulder. "Well, we were, a little, at first," he admitted. "But when Dale started telling us about your condition, it didn't take much convincing for us to see that all those vampire myths were just silly superstition."
"And we've already seen proof that ghosts exist," Gadget added, remembering their encounter with Monterey Jack's ancestor, Sir Colby. "And they can be as nice as anyone! So why not vampires too?"
Monty came over and gave Dale a hearty pat on the back. "Besides, Dale here is about as *un*threatenin' a vampire as you can get! Kinda hard to be scared of a bloodsuckin' fiend in a Hawaiian shirt and a red nose!" he joked. Dale blushed a bit and the others chuckled.
Foxy looked to all her friends. "Thanks, guys. Thank you all so much! I'm so happy you all accept me! I've been so worried for so long and now I know for sure you won't cast us out."
Monterey put a big Aussie paw around her shoulders. "Foxy-luv, we'd never do that to ya, no matter what ya was," he said kindly. "You're a Rescue Ranger! You're like family! We stick together and we help each other out, no matter what. And if you ever need any help, any assurance or comfort or whatever, we'll all be here for you and Dale too. Just bein' a vampire don't change the fact that you're one 'a the nicest, most kindhearted li'l bats in the whole world!"
Foxy felt such happiness and such relief in that moment. She never had to worry again. Never had to feel ashamed of her condition again. Never had to hide her vampirism from them ever again. Never was a beautiful word. She had her friends and teammates to lean on whenever she needed. She couldn't help crying. She squeaked in happiness and gave Monty a big two-wing hug.
Soon, all the Rangers had gathered around, joining in a great big gooshy group hug. Foxy cried and laughed and hugged and couldn't imagine having more wonderful friends than these. And she suddenly realized that the feeling she'd searched for, the feeling of being loved by her Mom and Dad, she was feeling it again right now. In a different form, yes, but it was the same feeling. She was with her family. And they loved her.
Crisscross was so big he could only get his muzzle and one paw into the hug, but it worked out okay anyway. He gave both Dale and Foxglove a slurp with his latex-polymer tongue. "So, Foxy, I'm curious about something," he said.
"What's that, Chris?"
"If human vampires can turn into bats, can you turn into a human?" the foxbot asked with a goofy grin.
Foxy and Dale both burst out laughing. "Yuck! Why would I want to!" said Foxy. "Humans are too tall, their ears are too little, they can't fly and they smell funny!" That brought out a good guffaw from everyone.
"Hear hear!" Chris said. "I much prefer being an android, and a fox as well!"
Chris' quip set off a barrage of silly questions from the Rangers to their vampiric comrades.
"So, if you're a vampire bat," Tammy asked Foxglove, "then why don't you have one of those neat noseleaf thingies? Didja get a nosejob?"
Zipper snickered. "And where do you two keep your coffins?"
Gadget grinned. "If you don't have any, I'm sure I could make you some! A matched pair! His 'n hers!"
"And how in the world did you get your hands on some Transylvanian soil anyway?" Chris asked.
"And why aren't you decked out in tuxes and capes?" Zipper added.
Monty scowled theatrically. "Ya know, I don't think they really ARE vampires! Neither of 'em sounds a bloomin' bit like that Bela Lugosi feller!"
Dale and Foxy were leaning on each other, barely able to stand from laughing so hard. Dale gave his sweetiebat a squeeze. "Gee Foxy, this is fun! We should reveal ourselves as a different weird creature every week now!"
Foxy giggled like mad. "Okay, Cute stuff. Know where there's any werewolves around here that can bite us?"
Gadget sniggered behind her paws. "Gosh, I wonder what'll happen when Chip finds out?"
And, as if on cue, the door swung open and there stood Chip, along with someone else who was completely covered up in a donut wrapper.
"Speak of the devil!" Monty remarked.
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