A Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers story by Morgan Kohl
Foreword: This is a strange story. Let's make no bones
about it. I'm not sure where it came from, and I'm not sure how I feel about
it. But if any of you find it interesting, I'll be fine with that. Anyway, let's
check in on Gadget, shall we? It seems something very odd has happened to her...
Thirty long, hard, backbreaking, heart-wrenching, soul-eating years.
"And it's finally done..." the withered voice whispered to no one but herself.
Gadget Hackwrench allowed herself, finally, to collapse from exhaustion. Her head sunk down to the workbench and she wrapped her furless arms around her short-cropped hay-blonde hair. Her whole body began to shake from sobs. Sobs of disbelief. Sobs of relief. Sobs of triumph.
Thirty years of misery had led to this final moment.
Her greatest invention of all time was ready.
It was, actually, thirty years down to the month. Three decades since Rat Capone had started everything in motion. Three hundred and sixty months since he'd pulled the trigger. Ten thousand, nine hundred and fifty seven days since he'd sent a harpoon straight through Dale's chest. Gadget had stopped hearing all the screams in her nightmares long ago, and counted it as a blessing.
It had been just like any other case. The Rescue Rangers, intrepid heroes, defenders of the good, had tracked the Rat to his dockside hangout, intending to bring an end to his latest evil scheme.
Instead, the Rat had escaped, while the Rangers clustered around their teammate who was dead even before Foxglove had a chance to call out his name.
Standing there on the docks, encircling their fallen friend, the moment seemd to last an eternity. Each of them had felt that stab of 'I should have been able to do something'. But that wasn't so. There was nothing any of them could have done. It had happened so swiftly, there hadn't even been time to register what was happening until it was already far too late. Until then, they'd never realized how a single instant could change all the world.
Dale had truly been the heart of the team. Without him, the group swiftly collapsed. Oh, they'd tried so hard to stay together afterwards. Through the weeks before and after the funeral, they'd held each other close and vowed to never let go. But they'd slipped through one another's fingers without even realizing until it was too late.
Monty quit first. After crushing Rat Capone's throat in his bare hands, he stepped back from his Ranger duties and never looked back. He had taken a life, even though it had been a wasted, evil one, and he felt he could never trust himself again.
Foxglove, unsurprisingly, was next. Losing her beloved red-nosed romeo broke her like a china plate. The last time Gadget had seen her, there was nothing left in the bat's once-bright eyes.
All this time that the Rangers were grieving, Fat Cat had taken full advantage. His empire spread like a mad fungus throughout the city. He was soon stronger than any animal kingpin in history. But Chip took him down. Gadget remembered well that last cry of triumph and fury before the radio contact splintered into static. All that was certain afterwards was that the Happy Tom burned to the ground, Fat Cat was injured so badly he spent the rest of his life in a hospital bed, and Chip Maplewood was never seen again.
Not that she hadn't spent years looking.
After giving up and settling down, it gradually dawned on Gadget how important the Rescue Rangers had truly been to the city. They'd kept so many madmen in line, squelched so many schemes, saved so many lives. Now that it was just her, working as a nurse at Staten City General, the wound the passing of the Rangers left seemed to her to grow wider and more infected every day. So many new criminals. So many new crimes. So many new victims. It was the best and most noble thing she could do to help the hurt and care for the sick. There seemed to be more and more of them every day.
And then Norton Nimnul took over the world.
It happened out of the blue one day. Every single living soul on the planet just _stopped_ for thirty seconds. Every man, woman, boy and girl froze like a stone statue, staring out through unblinking eyes, knowing what was happining but having no idea how. Gadget herself had been bending over to give a young chipmunk boy an antibiotic shot. All around the globe, hundreds of accidents hurt many and even killed a few. No one was able to move to stop it except one man. One short, balding, bespectacled man who laughed through it all.
'We could have stopped him,' she'd thought. 'If we'd still been a team.'
When Nimnul 'restarted' everyone and made it clear he could do it again, for any length of time, any time he wanted, he suddenly commanded much more respect in the world. Oh, they tried that 'we don't negotiate with terrorists' line for a while. Until Nimnul froze the world for another ten seconds. That was all it took. And just like that, he finally achieved his dream.
Once the fat little scientist had gained control of the world, his demands were surprisingly petty, childish and easily met. He got the big house. He got the oodles of cash and jewels. He got his own TV show. He got a truckload of attractive female laboratory assistants. He got Normie a free admission into Harvard. And aside from that, he pretty much let the world keep running on its own. He really only wanted the fun of ruling the world, not the actual job of it.
It took a while, but gradually most people just accepted it and moved on with their lives.
Then one day, as a tired mouse was drinking coffee in the hospital lounge, a new thought, a crazy thought, an amazing thought, came to her.
'If you can't beat 'em...'
The security was tight, but she'd gotten through worse. Nimnul entered study number four of his multi-billion dollar mansion one day to find Gadget standing on his desk. Not surprisingly, he'd attempted to do her in at first. He chased her around the room, waving a rolled up newspaper and shrieking like a banshee. Eventually she managed to convince him to read the note she'd written. He was a bit skeptical at first, but intrigued by her offer.
Together, they quickly whipped up an animal-to-human translator. Gadget stood there, crying, and negotiated the terms of her surrender. In exchange for no more than room and board, she pledged on her heart to help him in any way she could with any future inventions. He was about to scoff at the idea of a brilliant mind such as his needing help from a puny mouse, until she said 'burnt connector in the molecular regurgitator', and that shut him up nicely.
He thought about it, and finally he agreed, but with one condition. He didn't want to keep having to use the translator, and her size would pose problems when working together. He had an invention to fix all that though...
Later that night, Gadget the human stepped out of the chamber, took one look at her furless, tailless new body and fainted.
He kept her on a very short leash at first. She hadn't expected anything different though. Naturally, he would suspect a former enemy of planning some trick. She spent about a month locked up in her workshop/bedroom before he even let her see his main laboratory. After he'd grown to trust her more, they began working side by side on various projects. They created wonderful things. Terrible things, too. Sometimes both at the same time.
Gradually, as time passed and he gave her leash more and more slack, Gadget began to see the true face of this man who now effectively ruled the world. Nimnul had never been a truly evil-hearted person. Heck, Fat Cat had more cruelty in a single paw than Nimnul had in his whole body. Now that no one was laughing at him anymore and he'd gotten everything he'd ever wanted, it calmed the little twerp down quite a bit. Nowadays, he was almost mellow at times.
Gadget also discovered, much to her surprise, that things had actually turned out okay in the long run. Nimnul, wanting to show off his genius to all and finally get credit for it, got patents on all his inventions and sold the technologies off to the world's scientific communities. Within a few years, the products that were reverse-engineered from just the Gigantico Gun and the Modemizer alone had completely revolutionized all the world's transportation and manufacturing. Inventions created for chaos were actually making the world a more efficient place to live.
The calendar changed again and again, Nimnul sat on his butt getting fatter and fatter and richer and richer, and Gadget gradually nibbled away at his bitterness. She couldn't help but be a good influence. It was her nature. To his credit, he respected their tinkerers' relationship and left it at that, despite, admittedly, finding her quite beautiful in her human form. The passing years even managed to bring them together in an odd sort of friendship.
But now, thirty years since that harpoon had done it's dirty business, Gadget had to throw that friendship away. She had to throw this whole bright future world away. Because she'd never forgotten her other friends. Her true friends.
Because finally, The Plan was finished.
She allowed herself a nice long nap at her workbench before even testing it. It wouldn't do to be so sleepy that she'd accidentally wind up in the cretaceous period. She'd worked too long and too hard to muck things up now.
Upon waking, she stared at the calendar for a while. "Has it really been this long?" And how many failures to date? Uncountable! Nimnul had made instantaneous transportation, age progression and matter transformation look so easy. But, damn, was temporal mechanics ever a pain in the butt to figure out.
That had been her plan from the start, of course. The night she decided to join forces with Nimnul, she did so for one reason only; to use whatever gizmos he had lying around, build upon them and make herself a time machine.
Hey, why not give it a shot? She'd learned enough times from Dale that the nuttiest ideas often had a way of working out.
Years and years she spent on her plan. Years and years of sneaking parts hidden in her coveralls out of the lab. Years and years of reading long boring books written by scientists who were as crazy as they were brilliant. Years and years of mind-bogglingly complicated machines that never worked. Until now.
She'd sent an apple back just the other day. When she saw it spontaneously form on the receptor pad several hours before she'd even begun the test, she screamed in sheer unrestrained joy.
She glanced at her watch. "Oops! Almost time!"
She quickly ducked into the closet and shut the door. This would probably cause a paradox anyway, but she knew actually seeing herself would make things infinitely worse.
She waited. Her watch beeped. She heard someone knock on the door. Shave-and-a-haircut, two-bits. Someone entered the lab, let a tiny giggle of excitement escape her lips, and entered the time machine. There was a whooshing sound, and the lab was empty again.
Gadget stepped out, and began to cry. Her smile was beautiful. "I did it..."
"I did it! I did it! I did it! I DID IT!!!!!"
After waiting a little while, Gadget got into the machine, set it for ten minutes ago, knocked on the lab door, giggled, and got back into the machine. There. Perfect.
Now, it was time for the real journey. And a one-way trip it would be. That was the real problem with time travel; you needed another machine to get back. And there wouldn't be any in the past.
But she hardly cared. There were more important things to worry about. If she had to abandon this future and live out the rest of her days in the past, it would be worth it all to see the Rangers, and one hawaiian-shirt-wearing one in particular, spend one more day happily together.
But that old nagging question came to her once more: 'If I have just one trip, why not go back and save Daddy?' That question hurt more than a thousand stinging needles. She would, indeed, have given the world to see her beloved father just once more...
No. No, no, no. She had her plan, and she would stick to it. She knew that her father's death and Dale's were different. Geegaw had died in an accident. Dale, on the other hand, had not. He'd been murdered. In cold blood. Cold, red blood. Though it nearly drove her mad, she knew it was somehow more important to save Dale than to save her father. She only hoped that somewhere beyond this life, Geegaw would forgive her. Maybe, she dared to hope, he would even be proud of her.
She took a deep breath, and steadied herself. Her plans had come to fruition, and now it was time to see them through. Though no one would fault her for spending a few more minutes standing there, staring at the floor and quietly crying.
When she was ready, Gadget reformed her body back into a mouse (ohhh, that felt good, like slipping into an old pair of comfortable sneakers), stepped into the machine, set the dial, checked all her calculations once more, and said a silent goodbye to the nutty old coot somewhere else in the mansion that she really would miss.
She pressed the button, and shimmered out of time.
She emerged in a daze. Tiny orange pinpricks of light pierced her vision. Her body felt like she'd been folded like origami and shoved through a mail slot.
She looked down at her clothes and toolkit and giggled as she thought about how glad she was that the Terminator movies had been wrong about flesh being the only thing that could be sent through time. Actually, upon thinking it over, out of every single time travel movie or book she'd ever seen, including the most seriously thought-out scientific ones, it was "Back To The Future" that had come the closest to the reality of it. Now _that_ was worth a chuckle.
Looking around at the world of her past filled Gadget with a calmness that rippled all the way to her bones. She was here. She had plenty of time to make things right. It was all going to be okay.
She had 'popped out' in a small park overlooking the river. She sat down between the roots of a tree and just watched the boats go by until sundown.
After all, she had a whole month to plan and wait before the day that needed to be changed.
It was time.
Gadget hid in a packing crate far away from the scene, but she could see it all through her binoculars. There was Capone, running. Here came the Rangers, right on his heels. "Golly, I really looked fantastic back then!" she noted with a little bit of pride.
And now Capone was going for the harpoon gun.
And now Dale was charging at him.
And now Capone pulled the trigger...
The harpoon gun that Gadget had oh-so-skillfully tampered with made a sound like a paper punch amplified a few hundred times as it backfired and ejected the harpoon backwards, hitting Capone in the chest and knocking the wind out of him. It only stunned him. It had been so very hard to keep from sabotaging it so it would rip through his flesh and end his miserable life for good. But that wasn't something a Rescue Ranger would do.
Gadget watched through her binoculars as the Rangers surrounded Capone, tied him up, and led him off to jail. Chip was grinning triumphantly. Tammy was bouncing along right behind him. Monty and Zipper were singing some little ditty. Dale and Foxglove were sharing a quick hug and a kiss.
And Gadget in the packing crate screamed with relief, victory, laughter, hope and joy.
Time was a rope. She had proved that it could be traveled back upon. That it could be unraveled, and the thinnest thread of a single moment could be found, cut, and rewoven.
Gadget suddenly felt a strange, chill sensation in the air.
It was about then that time began to go all funny.
It wasn't like when Nimnul stopped the world. This time, the world _stopped_. Everything slowed to a standstill like a slo-mo replay crystalizing to a freeze frame. People, animals, machines, all of nature itself; all of it paralyzed. The universe became one single snapshot.
Only one mouse in all of existence was aware of it. Gadget put down her binoculars and gaped in sudden terror. "What have I done...?"
She looked down at her feet, and could see thin streams of matter, like grains of sand wafted by the desert wind, fizzling away from her. She was too scared to scream.
There was no sensation though, no pain. Her body slowly flitted away into the breeze. Then she realized where it was going.
A thin stream of herself was making its way across the docks and pouring into the Gadget from the past. Like hourglass sand running out.
Gadget drifted away into a thin cloud of particles and was absorbed into her younger self. Her last thought was 'Well, it makes sense in a weird way...'
Gadget shook her head suddenly.
Foxglove took her attention away from Dale long enough to notice the confused look on her mouse friend's face. "Gadget, are you allright?"
Gadget blinked a bit. "Yeah, I guess so. I just had a little dizzy spell."
"Do you think you should lie down?" Dale asked in a concerned tone.
Gadget's eyes took on a strange sheen then. She looked slowly up to Dale, as if she hadn't seen him in the longest time. She suddenly rushed towards him and enfolded him in a tight, sad hug.
"Gadget! What's wrong?" Dale exclaimed.
Gadget's voice was whispery and haunted. "I... I don't know... I just suddenly felt this shiver run through me. Like some thing really, really bad was going to happen to you, to all of us, but it didn't. It didn't happen, and everything's okay now."
Foxglove looked very worried. "Maybe when you get home, you should lie down. Take a nap."
"I think I will."
Gadget did climb into bed as soon as she got back to RRHQ. She didn't even bother taking her coveralls off. She had never felt this shaking, scared, walking-on-thin-ice feeling before. She didn't understand it.
She fell quickly asleep and dreamed a long strange dream that seemed to take forever. It was a bad dream. There was Dale and death and hopelessness and leaving and Fat Cat and Chip and Nimnul and inventions and the Rangers and...
When she woke up later around dinnertime, she was aware that her dream had been vast and vivid, but all she could remember of it was one single, powerful image. Another Gadget, looking decades older, was hugging her tenderly. The other mouse was crying, and telling her to love all her friends as much as she could, and to cherish every moment they were all together.
In time, this too faded from her memory...
not at all The End
Author's Note: This was a very different kind of story for me to write. I have no idea where it came from. You see, I'd been up half the night (until three A.M., actually) reading stories and listening to mp3s on my computer, and I eventually realized it was high time for me to get to bed. But as I laid down, this whole story began to play out in my head. All of it was just *there*, without any real concious coaxing. I got up, turned the computer back on, and wrote this whole story in three hours. (I've changed very little of it since) Then, of course, I immediately fell into bed and slept for who knows how long. This was how "Double Criss-Crossed" and "Ready... Aim... FIRE!!!" were concieved as well. In fact, a surprising majority of my story ideas have come to me, almost fully formed, from out of nowhere. I swear this is true.
It's kind of spooky, isn't it? That these ideas just pop into existence, I mean. As if some little story-fairy floats down and whispers in my ear from time to time.
What are ideas, anyway? Where do they come from? Who's to say we don't time-travel all the time in our own heads without realizing it; guiding our past selves into situations we'll need to live through to make us better than what we would have been? Who's to say time travel hasn't already been invented and that our world doesn't just change every day, and our memories change with it so we'll never know?
I put my name at the top of this story, but I'm not at all sure that I was the one who wrote it.
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