The Rescue Rangers: a band of crime fighters who defend the rights of the
helpless and bring swift, hard justice to those who oppose Love, Peace and Truth.
With the destruction of New York Citys most notorious criminals, the Rescue Rangers felt that it was necessary to move to a more violent city. That city was Chicago, Illinois.
Here, the group was rejoined in the tallest tree in the vicinity of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Several others have joined the ranks of the team. Some for the first time, others coming before to become full members. A lone squirrel named Wescott Vance Atticas was among those few.
This new stranger grew to become a vital part of the new team. With his computer skills and fighting tactics, he helped in the Rangers never-ending fight to rid Chicago and the countryside of evil. Coming from an unknown past, He longs for the day when all beasts will be truly free, and life can go on, without the shadow of darkness being cast. While being with the Rangers, Wescott wrote in a diary that he kept mostly to himself, but shared with a few others. These entries are from that journal, Razorback.
The Wescott Chronicles.
Rescue Rangers X
The Wescott Chronicles
Into The Eye Of Oblivion
by Edward Baird
edited by Robert Hollingshead
Monday, July 15
Ah, the blazing hot days of July.
I got up this morning, once again, to the hideous sound of my digital alarm clock. Suddenly, I remembered that about a week ago, the other Rangers and I proposed to spend a week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and that today, we were to leave. I quickly arose from my hammock, and jetted to the den, where I promptly booted up RangerVision, keyed in the password, and waited. Welcome to RangerVision, Wescott. Please select desired data. Said Cherry, our resident AI. Weather update and forecast for Morehead City, North Carolina and vicinity, Cherry. I replied. Downloading. Cherry answered. Immediately, the modem screeched, and an empty radar, a Doppler image, and a weather database all dropped into place on the screen. On the radar, the words, no precipitation expected appeared. The temperature database told of highs in the upper hundreds, with lows expected in the mid eighties. A smile lit up all over my face. Beach plus sun equals fun. Life is good.
Tammy approached me from the galley. She sat down beside me at the terminal, and presented me with my breakfast, consisting of two apple turnovers and a specialty that she and I whipped up in our spare time: Red-Eye Cheesy Egg Biscuits
Chip entered the room. Wescott, whats the forecast? He asked. Lookin great, Chipperino. No clouds for the next week and a half, highs today in the 100s. I replied, kicking back in my chair. Nice. Chip said. Just then, Dale and Gadget, followed by Monty and Zipper emerged from the bedroom hall. A stifled yawn emitted from the rafters, and down fell Foxglove Digitalis. Everyone was packed from last night, and ready to go. I had already taken the liberty to pack my stuff into the RangerKestrel. We dont have time to eat now, Dale. Chip reprimanded Dale, who was spreading butter on a banana scone.
Golly, think about it, a full week of relaxation, just you and me, Chip. Gadget sighed, looking intently into Chips brown eyes. And me. I replied, shutting off the computer. And me, Chipper. Tammy said, pulling some foods out of the fridge and into a basket. And me! Dale shouted from the runaway. And me, too, Chip. Foxy said softly, swooping down from the ceiling and flying out the door. Dont forget me, buck-o, and Zipper, too. Monty added. Alright, already! Itll be just me, Gadget, and everybody else, for crying out loud! Chip complained. Thats better. I said, popping out of the door again, helping Tammy with her stuff.
The last things I did before leaving, but what should have been my first priority, was to get my hornbeam bo (just in case someone wanted to ruin a perfectly good vacation), and put up the closed sign on the door. I dashed to the vehicle, and jumped in the navigatorss seat. Gadget flipped a couple of switches, hit the starter, and we were off. Out of the hanger, the gears came up, and the RangerKestrel soared up to cruising altitude, circled Chicago once, and blasted South by Southeast on our almost 900 mile journey.
Breakfast: An old English term meaning to break the fast, since
slumber was considered a religious fasting. Today, I would consider taking a
morning meal inside an aircraft the size of a human walk-in closet in an IFR
condition around Pittsburgh to be break the neck. First course was
steaming hot Starbucks coffee, which I casually spilled in my lap, upon entering
the IFR area. It looks like our captain forgot to check the OHare Airport
for aviation status before takeoff. Screaming, I ran into the lavatory, for
a towel. Not only was that a waste of good coffee, but a waste of good fur and
skin cells. Ouch.
Next course, scrambled eggs, toast, and hash browns, cooked to perfection by my amazing Cocoa Bean, Tammy. Skipping along the aisle all the way to the cockpit, she placed the pleasant repast before me at the wheel, kissed me on the cheek, and skipped back to serve the others. The eggs splattered on my shirt, the toast ended up on my head, and the hash browns went straight to my face. Sunny side up, huh? I think I was the one who was scrambled.
Flying at 30,000 feet takes its toll on the stomach, those that get food in it anyway, and the food settled as we rocketed faster and faster towards Atlantic Beach. It had been such a long time since I last went there, I wondered if anything I remembered would still be there. Last I could remember, I was standing on the shore, by Captain Stacys pier, overlooking the overcast ocean. I was the first time I had ever seen the Atlantic Ocean. I shed a tear, because I knew that I might not ever see anything so beautiful ever again. Now, as my head flushes full of the memories long gone, by the ancient shores of the Atlantic, I wonder how time has affected the passage to the coastal tideline. It is time for me to find out.
I find that, like I remember Gadget once saying, sometimes things change. She was right. Even from 5000 feet, I could notice one major difference: a giant curved 8-lane bridge now connected Bogue Banks to the Mainland. Still high above the thin strip of land, I could hear the howling tradewinds outside the window. Drawing closer to the island, I saw the outline of Fort Macon. Finally, we were so close, I could even make out the words on the vivid blue water tower, smack in the middle of The Circle.
CITY OF ATLANTIC BEACH,
A good memory is like a good friend. It never lets you down, except while
taking an exam. Gadget looked at me as I relayed the message on the tower with
pinpoint accuracy from such a distance. Ive been here before.
By now, we were almost on the ground. We were going to stay at a rustic a-frame cabin called the Sealoft, which had been lent to us by its owner, Jack Preston, after we saved him from a group of A.L.E.R.T. thugs back in Chicago. Chip appeared from the back. Land around Fort Macon, Gadget. He said. Roger Wilfurry, Chip Gadget affirmed. Chip turned to me. Wes, you and Foxy scour the fort for a good spot to land. Gadget and I will do the rest. Right! I replied, relayed the message to Foxy, and the two of us jumped out of the back gate. Chip, how come I cant fly? Dale asked, turning to Chip.
By sunset, we were done packing. I was sprawled out on the beach, watching the stars play in their celestial playground. Tammy was lying beside me, a tender flower caressing her ponytail. We just stared into each others eyes, in the light of the rising full moon. The waves crashed against the shore, as the beam from the Cape Lookout Lighthouse revolved endlessly in its circle. The two of us held paws, and just gazed up at the stars.
Peanut, do you think we were made for each other? Tammy asked me innocently. Its a good possibility. I replied, as we shared a heartfelt kiss. Soon, the gentle roar of the sea lulled me to relax, Tammy cradling my head in her lap, placed a gentle kiss on my cheek. Soon, she yawned, and stretched out, laying my head on the sand, and scooting down beside me. Im getting kind of tired, so Im going to quit now. Good night!
Tuesday, July 16
I had a horrible nightmare last night. I dont even think its sane
enough to put down on this laptop. I hope you arent planing on having
a meal anytime soon, cause here comes.
It was pouring rain outside, and Tammy, Foxglove , Dale and I were inside a house, with water flowing all around us, staring at the fish, beginning to drown at our feet. I heard a scream coming from down a corridor. Running over to it, I found Gadget, lying in a pool of blood, with a scaly daemon squatting on all fours next to her body, chewing on something that looked like a leg. It was Gadget, but Gadget was also alive, standing and mourning over the slain body. Suddenly, I felt a surge of primal hatred pulsate through my veins, as I found my paws bearing sharp, red claws and my mouth containing long, pointed fangs. My fur began to tingle and stand on end. Screaming like a banshee, I jumped at the beast, sinking my claws into its head, gouging a hole in the skull and pulling out its bloodied brains, still attached to the spinal cord, crushing them into a reddish-gray pulp, against my will. Another daemon attacked me, cutting into my chest with its clawed legs. I found myself slashing gashes into its back with my fangs, pulling its still-pumping heart from the socket, tearing it in two. Howling like a lone wolf, I stood on the cold, decaying shells, my teeth dripping blood, the lust for the spilling of evil blood being satisfied....GUSH!!!
I was aroused from slumber by a splash of cold, salty seawater in my face. As I stood sputtering the brackish liquid from my mouth, Tammy yawned, stretched, and woke up. Even in the mornings, Tammy was the cutest thing. I wish I had a picture to show you, but the camera Gadget brought with us exploded last night. She never could get the hang of xenon bulbs. I did not have the effrontery to relate the evil dream to even Tammy. How could I upset her morning like that?
Breakfast time. Tammy served up a delicious meal in the a-frame cabin this morning. Smithfield ham, hominy grits, fried eggs, (hey, dont give me that cholesterol crud, I LIKE FOOD!!!) raspberry scones soaked in honey, oh, great seasons, but Im glad shes my girl. Gadget was using the laptop to call up the latest news from the NOAA, who even had an office branch in Beaufort. Golly! Looks like another scorcher. She said, relaying the weather report to the rest of us. Feem! I blurted.
I must admit, but Gadget really is a swell girl. Ever since I joined this team, shes been the only one I could really talk to in technical terms, the only other member I know that speaks the lingo of the computer world. If I were to say, How big is your hard drive? to the the average beast on the street, they would probably think I was trying to harass them. If I ask Gadget, she responds with, I think we upgraded a few days ago to 4 gigabytes, and still knows just what shes talking about. If I wasnt going out with Tammy, I would have no choice but to fall in love with Miss Hackwrench.
Anyway, today, we went out to the main strip of the beach. After a through application of good old factor fifteen, I slipped into my tie-dyed swim trunks, busted out the back door, and onto the beach. The warm, bright sun made the sand hot on my footpaws. Foxglove had to wear a pair of dark sunglasses to protect her sensitive violet eyes from the sun. Everyone was sporting new summer outfits. Gadget was wearing a 2-piece rainbow colored bikini, Tammy in her hot pink 2-piece swimsuit and matching scrunchie, Chip sunned with denim cutoffs, Dale wore Joe Boxer trunks, Zipper in a classic red suit, Foxglove had on a red 1-piece bathing suit, and Monty in a frogman suit, since he was going snorkeling. Today, all I wanted was to relax. Tammy was at my side immediately after I stretched out on the white grains. Peanut, lets go swimming! She said, as she pulled my arm towards the pea-colored water. I can never resist her activity, because she drives me wild. Okay. I said, a little confused.
Simultaneously, we plunged into the waves. The saltwater stung my eyes as it did earlier this morning, but since I was with Tammy, I didnt even care. As the waves crested over the beach, they carried us up and down, up and down, both of us without a care in the world. Listening to Tammys squeals of delight as we bobbed playfully in the waves filled me with joy, a joy that I would never trade for any amount of worldly desire. But all the while, another sound started drifting our way. A sound of fear and distress. Finally, I decided to react.
As I bobbed along this time, I let my eyes wander over to the extreme northeast, near the Beaufort Inlet, and saw an orange speck, being carried off into the ocean. With a closer look, I could see it was a female mouse, screaming at the top of her lungs. The riptides of the inlet must have been carrying her out, because she was going out pretty fast, and her head was starting to submerge. Hang on! I yelled to the troubled girl. Stay here Tammy, I may need some backup on this one. I told Tammy. Right. Good luck! Tammy said.
Swimming out, the others saw the dilemma, and dove in to help. The last thing I could remember seeing over the waves was the girl, sputtering, and then sinking into the ocean. Gadget, being the fastest swimmer on the team, blasted ahead of me. Diving in, she saw the unconscious body sinking into the water. Gadget dove under the waves, Grabbing the victims paw. Pulling the girls arm around her, Gadget started back to the surface. Gadget then proceeded to swim parallel to the shore, just like she was taught all those years ago.
After we returned to the shore, we revived the girl, and she eventually came around. She looked a little dazed at first, but after a while, she sat up, and spat out the remainder of the brackish water. I...wha..where am I? Were the first words the stranger spoke. Youre in good hands, for the time being. I replied. The girl dusted off the sand on her bikini. She was a rather tall, well-endowed orange-haired girl with light, almost pale green eyes and long, smooth legs. However, when she stood up, next to Gadget, I noticed a more than passing resemblance between them. It was clearly uncanny, as the other Rangers soon agreed, doing a double take at the resemblance. What? Gadget asked, not knowing about the person standing next to her. Anyway, my name is Gizmo. Whats yours? The newcomer asked. Chip, Dale, Monty, Zipper, Tammy, Foxglove and I all gasped simultaneously. What in the name of cold fission is going on around here? Gadget pondered, vehemently. See for yourself, Gadget luv. Monty said, turning Gizmo to face Gadget. Golly! A clone! Ive heard of sheep and monkeys being cloned on the news, but a clone of ME?!?
I had not seen a reaction from Gadgets face like that since I looked in the scrapbook for a picture of Gadget and her identical sister, Lahwhinie. But I must admit, Gizmo did look identical to Gadget, except for two things : Gizmo had orange hair and green eyes, while Gadget had blonde hair and blue eyes.
Chip and I carried Gizmo back to the a-frame, since she was still weak from the riptide. After we fed her some of Tammys famous triple fudge flaps, she was back in the pink. Later, at the coffee table, she related her story.
Well, I guess I was out swimming by the inlet, when I felt a force yank at my feet. I was practically crawling on my paws and knees to get control of the situation. Then, the current started dragging me under, and I screamed for help. So, Gadget must have carried me back to the shore, and thats all I can remember.
Dale finally piped up the question everyone was too modest to ask. I couldnt help but notice how you two look so much alike. Is there, by any chance, a possibility that you two are related? He said, very truthfully. Maybe... Gizmo thought. Gadget, is it at all earthly possible that your last name is Hackwrench?
That was the reply we were all waiting for. Yes, as a matter of fact, It is, Gizmo. Gadget said, a little hesitantly, for she now remembered that of all things, she had an identical sister, and a fraternal one. She also remembered that she and her sisters were scattered to different parts of the world after Geegaw, their father, died. That was when Gadget was left alone in Manhattan. She grew impatient, and decided to make the best of things until she would be looked after by Geegaws best friend, Monterey Jack Colby. To keep herself occupied, she spent all daylight hours on weekdays at the Manhattan Public Library, researching mechanics, slowly but surely teaching herself to invent things to keep herself from going postal. One of the major reasons for her research was to find new ways of keeping roaming salesmen out of the vicinity of her lair, until Monty would arrive to take care of her. Finally, after a long year of waiting, Monterey showed up, with Chip Elmwood and Dale Oakmont, along to find the Clutchcoin Ruby, stolen by Aldrin Claurdain, and his toadie scientist, Professor Norton Nimnul. From there, it all made sense....
Sis? Gadget said, a little confused. Yup. Gizmo replied. Gadget stood up and hugged her long-lost sibling, crying happily. It was a scene that brought a tear to my eye. That is so beautiful! I sobbed, hugging Tammy. Dale blew his nose loudly with his speckled hankie, tears streaming down his furry cheeks. Wahhh! I love a happy reunion! He bawled. Soon, everyone was crying tears of joy at the reunion of Gadget Hackwrench and her newly-found sister, Gizmo Hackwrench. Group hug! I said as we all shared a big hug. Well, its about 10 P.M. now, I dont want to oversleep. Tomorrow, were going to the aquarium, and thats my favorite thing to do at the beach. See you then!
Wednesday, July 17
Once again, I had my awful dream, call it deja vu, but it happened again.
The blood. The rage. Yet this time, it made some kind of odd sense. I realized
that the two Gadgets must be both Gizmo and Gadget, but who was the slain one?
And what significance does the flooded house hold? Who were the demons? Could
this be some kind of warning from the Great Beyond?
Chip was first one up today. He was watching WITN-7 news in the den, checking the weather forecasts. All around him were aquarium brochures. Gadget walked in, still wearing her bunny pajamas. She gave Chip a kiss on the cheek, and sat down beside him. Morning, Chip. She said, sweetly. I see youre playing the earlybird today.
Well, Chip explained, I definitely dont want to miss going to the aquarium today. It says here in The Carteret County News-Times that today is the Turtle Release Day at the aquarium. Its the day that the aquarium staff releases the baby loggerhead turtles that had been abandoned a year ago. They have been a little late this year, so they have postponed the releasing until today. Thats an event I wouldn't miss for the world.
Aww, baby turtles! I love baby animals! Gadget said picking up some brochures to read. I was especially wanting to see the daily feeding at the Precious Waters exhibit. I mean, over 2,000 gallons of salt marsh...I mean, not an actual marsh, but sort of a simulated marsh, with marsh water, and marsh plant life, but not a real marsh, is kinda like...
Gadget, drop it. Chip said, at which Gadget promptly threw down the brochures.
Oh boy! The sharks! The sharks! Dont forget the sharks! Dale interrupted, jumping down from the upstairs banister, bouncing off the couch and landing squarely on his butt with a thud. Ouch! He yelped. The noise aroused Foxglove, who was hanging from the padded bar that Gadget designed for her.
Foxy swooped down beside Dale, picked him up off the ground, and dusted off his bottom. Hiya, cute stuff! She said, giving him a quick smooch on the lips, hardly even noticed by Chip or Gadget. Hi, Foxy! Dale said, unusually ecstatic to see her.
I must note that Dale has been that way for some time now. He has recently been less inclined to woo over Gadget and more so to see Foxglove. It may be because Foxy has been working out to attract Dale, or that she has been wearing the new Entrancement fragrance from Eau De Lauren, guaranteed to attract men, and other small rodents. It may be some new techniques from Mate Makers she has been using to get Dale to like her, but what ever it is, it is working perfectly, because Foxy now has Dale in the palm of her paw, err wing, uh, whatever.
I finally got up, at around 11 that morning. Tammy must have been in the shower, because her bed was empty, and the water pipes in the wall next to me were clicking. After an impromptu fall to the floor from my fishnet hammock, I desperately crawled to the galley, where I could find no food to speak of. AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!! I screamed. Where are the eats?!?! I growled to the dark kitchen ceiling. Calm down, Wes, Said a voice from the refrigerator. I spun around to see Gizmo, standing with an old-looking recipe book in her hands. Leave the cooking to me today.
I could only gasp feebly. I had known from experience that the Hackwrench family was never really known for greatly palatable food. Gadget, for one, despite being a very sweet girl, could not fix one peanut butter and jelly sandwich to save her soul. In fact, the very thought of a Hackwrench eagerly waiting to cook could only cause me to do one thing: faint.
When I came to, five minutes later, Gizmo was wearing Montys chefs hat, and pouring her little heart into the stove. Other than Tammy herself, I had never in my life seen someone so lovingly prepare anything as when I saw Gizmo. She was toiling, and mixing, and stirring, and testing, absolutely working her paws to the bone. Gaining nerve, I finally spoke up. Gizmo, are you sure about this? I asked. I mean if its that much trouble to you...
Aww, come on, Wes. Its not even a question of trouble on my part. You see, after my father died, Gadget, Lahwhinie and I separated, and up until now, I never thought I would see either of my sisters. I found myself here after about two years of aimlessly wandering from airport to airport, in search of a place that I could call my own.
Not knowing anyone, I usually spent most of my time at the library, learning how to cook. Never having anyone to cook for, I became bored, and started to build my own restaurant. Gizmos Diner , I named it. I never had very many customers, since not many other mice live on this island, but the people who did visit my diner became regular customers, returning time and time again. I built my own little cottage by the sea, and started to really live high on the hog.
However, two months after I retired my apron, Hurricane Bonita came along, and crushed my dreams. Left homeless and with no one to turn to, I was reduced to beachcombing, roaming the local beaches for food and shelter, and trying every once in a while to teach myself how to swim. Obviously, the last time I tried, I almost killed myself.
Thats about as up to date as anyone can come. Well, dont you think that I deserve a second chance at the culinary arts? Gizmo asked.
Why not? I said. It was all I could do to keep from crying.
Tammy emerged from the bathroom. As she finished putting a scrunchie in her
hair, she heard the microwave beep. Instantly, her mind went into a blur. She
was the only one on the team who could cook other than Monty, who was still
asleep. Wescotts bed is empty, so he must be trying to learn, she thought.
Wescott, do you know....you!!! Tammy blurted as she saw me standing next to Gizmo, her fingers on the microwave. Tammys eyes slowly turned red with rage. I could hear her slow, cold, frightening growl. Tammy was not happy.
She just stared at Gizmo, and pointed a icy cold digit at her. How dare you make a move on my boyfriend like this!!! You know, I almost believed that you were a good-hearted person, but this!! It just takes a tart like you to do something this...this devious.... Nothing but a frigid, evil silence followed, Tammys eyeballs still locked onto Gizmo like an AIM-9 missile on a bogey.
I had to intervene. If I didnt, then Tammy would surely go for the meat tenderizer. Tammy, Chill!! You know I would never leave you for anyone. I love you too much to betray you like that. With that, I gave her a kiss on the cheek, which made her size up the situation.
Wes, youre right. What was I thinking? I had no reason to react the way I did. Obviously, Ive become so protective of you, that when anyone tries to do something nice for you, I go postal, as you often say. At this she turned back to Gizmo, with a amiable smile, and an outstretched hand. Sorry about all that. I take it all back. Shake, Gizmo?
Of course, partner. Replied a thankful Gizmo Hackwrench. Still, I bet a month of kitchen duty that I can beat your big, bushy tail off in a cooking contest.
Mousy, you just got yourself into a losing battle. Tammy said, swelling with pride, all too aware that she had won blue ribbons three years in a row at the Illinois State Fair squirrel division with her Triple Threat Fudge Flaps.
About a minute later, Tammy and Gizmo were poised at the center of the kitchen, back to back, with myself over by the door. On the breakfast nook table, I had placed two separate platters: On the left side was a gold plate with a paper that read Tammy in front of it. On the right, a silver plate with a paper reading Gizmo in front of it.
Alright, heres how it works. I said. When I give the signal, you will have thirty minutes to make your best foods and pile them onto your respective platters on the dining table. The winner is the chef who can get the highest score from a panel of impartial judges.
Who might that be? Asked Gizmo.
That might be myself, Chip, Dale, Monty, Gadget, Zipper and Foxglove. I replied. No more questions? Alright then. On your marks...Get set...Cook!
As if a streak of multi-colored lightning had just crashed from the heavens, the gals busted into a food-fixing frenzy. Gizmo set about mixing eggs and Tammy went head on into the refrigerator for some butter. I bolted from the door, fearful that I might get hit by a flying rolling pin. With that, the contest was on.
Ten minutes later, everyone, including myself, was peering into the kitchen through the bar window, to see all the food that was flying about.
Strike me starkers! I aint seen food fly like that since I was trapped in the kitchen of an old castle in Rumania. Course, you couldnt see who was throwin what cause they were all ghosts! Monterey Jack chuckled, almost hit by an airborne eggshell.
The bell rang, and Gizmo and Tammy stopped all production. Breakfast! They chimed in together. Skipping through the threshold and into the breakfast nook, the girls gently placed the trays onto the platters on the table. Alright, heres how it works, Tammy said. This is my tray, thats Gizmos tray. You all judge who has the best food. Wes, you go first.
I decided to pick up some of Gizmos apple fritters. Closing my eyes, I ate. I am still alive. In fact, I reach for another, and another. The curse is lifted! The Hackwrench Family can cook! Praise the Lord!!!
Genuine 9.8 material, Gizmo! I lauded.
Alright, Chip, you try some of Gizmos food. I advised our fearless leader. He obliged, and took it upon himself to taste the sausage biscuits. All of us leaned in to see his reaction. It took him a minute to thoroughly taste the food.
So, what do you think, Chip? Gizmo asked. I like it! 9.7! Chip replied, surprised that a Hackwrench could finally cook.
It went on like this for around 30 minutes. By the time it was all done, Gizmo had received a score of 90.3 from the panel of judges. Tammy barely edged out a 90.5, but was humbled enough to consider it a tie. I think you did a fair enough job, Gizmo. Im still shocked that someone out there could almost beat me in a cooking contest. She said. I know. Its a sobering thought, isnt it? Gizmo smirked.
Finally, we went to the aquarium. Releasing the RangerRovers from the RangerKestrel
in the fort, Gadget manned Rover 1, while I manned Rover 2. Chip, Monty, Gizmo
and Zipper accompanied Gadget, and Dale, Foxy and Tammy jumped into my car.
As I pushed my footpaw to the gas, I could almost feel a horrible disaster awaiting
us down the road. Shrugging the feeling off, I felt the sudden jerk of the engine,
as our two cars blasted down Fort Macon Road.
As the disheveled state park road gave way to the better-maintained highway of State Route 58, Tammy turned on the radio. Almost as if the DJ was psychic, Love Shack by the B-52s started up. The whole car started grooving. Good vibes, man. Things would have been really great if I hadnt seen what I saw. As we passed The Circle, Dale pointed out a chilling sight.
Hey, look! That guys gonna kill himself! He said, pointing at a form, stepping to the edge of the top of the water tower. Omigod, hes gonna jump! Screamed Foxy. Tammy, take the controls. Im coming, man! I said as I spun my tail up to the tower. Wait up, Wes! Foxglove yelled from behind me.
The two of us were about halfway up the tower when the figure fell, hardly even caring about the bloody demise awaiting him on the concrete slabs below. I flew back down and caught him, about 50 feet from the ground. Uh, Wes... Foxy said, pointing at a rope. That guy was not committing suicide, he was bungie jumping. Sure enough, I traced the rope beside Foxy to the would-be victims foot, and was bonked on the head by the jumper.
You asshole! He said. That would have been a cool buzz if you two dillweeds hadnt have showed up. Now, get outta here! And if I ever see you again, He said, pointing his finger at my forehead, Ill kick your sorry ass!
Well, excuuuuuse me, Mr. Extreme Sports. I said, throwing down the bum. Landing back in the ATV, I sulked for the rest of the trip. Never in my long life had I been so thoroughly humiliated.
After a very embarrassing trip, we arrived in Pine Knoll Shores. I was still
very mad at the whole ordeal. Tammy put her arm around me. Cmon,
Peanut, it was an honest mistake that any good-hearted squirrel like yourself
could have made. I mean, I thought he was going to commit suicide, too. We all
did. It wasnt your fault that he was only trying to break the law, and
endanger his own life in the process, you were just trying to do your job as
a Rescue Ranger.
Well, thats true. I said. But that still didnt give him any right to taunt me like that. Tammy just smiled, and gave me a hug and a kiss. Its alright, people are like that everywhere, even at the beach. She said. I love the way she loves me.
Turning at the stoplight, we carefully entered the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area, knowing that today was one of the busiest days of the year for the aquarium. As the roads got smaller and smaller, the forest got thicker and thicker, until there was hardly enough room to let a 4x4 truck through. Finally, the road ended in a parking lot.
Already, the lot was full. Somehow, I got the feeling that we were too late. Humans were pouring out of the door, jumping into their automobiles. Two minutes later, the lot was empty. At this sight, Chip jumped out, threw down his fedora, and stomped it into the asphalt. Oh, crap! He blurted. We missed it! Stupid paper! Why of all the... Gadget grabbed Chip by the lapels and shook him. Chip, get a grip! We all wanted to see the release of the baby turtles. Maybe, maybe something went wrong. Not too far to the Southwest, a rumble of thunder boomed. Chip had an awkward look on his face as everyone stared at him. Eh, heh, heh...whoops. He chuckled, realizing he had forgotten to check the daily weather statement.
Well, we came this far, we might as well go in. Gadget suggested, her hands on her hips, surveying the situation. I was looking over at a strange red lighthouse-shaped object in the grass that wasnt there when I last recalled it. Come on, Wes! Were going in! Tammy called after me. I rushed up after them.
At the foot of the wood boardwalk, leading to the double-doored entryway, I saw a sign, recently repainted and smoothed.
at Pine Knoll Shores
It was in large font, with the unmistakable logo of a queen triggerfish, outlining the left side. Turning aside from the sign, I followed my friends to the doors. Chip expertly launched his leather bullwhip to the iron latch and pulled downward and backwards. The door swung open smooth and quiet. Obviously, Chips had experience opening doors.
Walking inside, Monty, Dale, Zipper and I shut the door quickly, so as not to attract any attention. Suddenly, a shot of lighting illuminated the skylights, followed by a loud boom of thunder that make the ground vibrate slightly. Tammy yelped, and jumped into my arms, which made me blush a little. Wes, Im scared. She said, quivering. Dont be scared, Cocoa bean, Im here to protect you. I said. Tammy just smiled and hugged me before I set her back on the ground.
Waiting for the others to size up the surroundings, I mused myself to stare at the now empty ante hall, putting my paw to my chin. Hmm...I guess that was the only reason anyone dared come to the aquarium today. I said. The rain started to fall. I could see the soothing liquid flowing down the skylights as it tapped at the glass. The thunder reminded me of the dream I had last night and the night before...Then I realized...The house was the aquarium! I rushed over to Gadget and Gizmo. Gadget, Gizmo, I think wed better get out of here, and fast. I alerted them.
But golly, Wes! We just got here! What makes you think we should leave so soon? Gadget pondered.
I had a dream about this...I was awful, but if you have the stomach, Ill tell you. I said.
I told my friends about my dream. The horror, the blood, my rage, the demons. By the end, Chip, was holding his hand over his mouth, about ready to barf. Dale was ecstatic. Woohah! Great story, Wes! He said. Gadget and Gizmo just stared at me, wide-eyed. I..I..Is that really going to happen? Gizmo asked, an inquisitive look on her face.
Theres a 75% chance. So far, when I have dreams, they usually come true. That includes nightmares. I explained.
Golly, Wes! Ive heard of dreams come true, but 3 times out of 4? Improbable! Explained Gadget. Now, why dont you just relax?
Well, alright. But watch your backs, you two, and stick together, whatever you do. I said.
Okay. Now, well split into two groups: whoever wants to see the southern end of the aquarium first, follow me. Chip suggested. Everyone who wants to see the cool stuff, follow me! Dale blurted. Chip started off towards the artificial reef, while Dale began bounding down the ramp to the aquaria.
Wait for me, cutie! Foxglove called, flapping her wings and taking off after Dale. Im with you, Dale. The girls look like theyre safe with Chip. I said, walking down the ramp. Dont leave me, Peanut! Tammy cried, running after me.
The only remaining two that did not follow either chips were Jack Colby and Zipper. No way, mate. The Aussie mouse protested when Chip asked him to join them. Ive seen quite a few odd visions come true in my travels, an me an little Zipper ere arent about to tango with a daemon on our vacation. Id rather take me chances in the forest. Were goin on a nature walk. Suit yourself. Chip stated plainly. No one even noticed Montys nervous countenance as he and Zipper headed out the back way, towards the marsh boardwalk.
Heading down the ramp into the aquaria, Dale and Foxy walked wing in paw, whispering sweet nothings into each others ears, not even vaguely alert to the bucket nearby, with the words, Caution! Slippery floor! printed on the side. Dale! Watch it! I said, trying to save Dale and Foxglove from themselves. Too late. First, Dales footpaws got caught in the shine. He slid back and forth, his paws flailing with utter abandon, like it was the latest dance craze. Foxy, too, was caught in the slimy lubricant. Her wings flapped and swung all over the place. They tried to stand against each other in the slick, only setting to fling themselves into the air. Upon reentry, Dale landed on Foxys back, as they slid down the rest of the ramp, and hit the wall, with a resounding crash.
Taking Tammy by the paw, I hovered over the goo to the disaster area. Dale lay prostrate under Foxys outstretched wings. Are you two alright? I asked. Dale struggled to poke his head out from under the bats wing. N..n.ever..better... He muttered, his head slumping back down.
Tammy raced to the directors office, sidestepping the shine, to get the first aid kit. On the way back, Tammy heard a shattering boom. She looked over into the next hall, and saw an empty tank. Broken glass was strewn about, and growls could be heard growing fainter to the west. She hurried back to our group, fearing the worst for the others.
After she patched up Foxy and Dale, she told us about what she saw and heard.
I knew it. I said, fist in hand. Its the vision. The demons are here. Theyre reptiles! Weve gotta warn the others!
Without any further reasoning, we ran to the southern halls. Halfway there, I heard an earsplitting shriek. It was Gizmo. Dashing into the marsh hall the four of us stood behind the door and peered inside. Lit dimly by the lights in the tank, I saw my worst nightmare come true.
Gizmo lay still on the floor, in a pool of blood. Her right leg was punctured
at the calve muscle, and she had a long, thick claw mark running down her back,
from her neck to her tail. At the southern corner of the room, Gadget and Chip
were huddled together, too shocked to watch. Gadget herself had a gash cut across
her left leg, and one on her left arm. Chips leg was hurt, and his fedora
All my life, I have never known the effects of emotional pain to ever hit so hard as it did this time. Gizmo was dying, and I feared I was losing Gadget and Chip. In the shadows, the daemons were dragging the body away to devour. It seemed like the end was near.
Then it happened. My fur began to stand on end, starting at the head, and working its way down to my tail. I looked at my paws, and my claws grew, almost to the length of each of my fingers. My teeth also grew, sharper and deadlier. Finally, my eyes turned red, and I growled openly to the beasts.
Everyone: Chip, Dale, Tammy, Gadget and Foxglove turned and stared straight at me. Its the Bloodlust! Everybody take cover! Foxglove shouted, recognizing the condition. My friends hid quickly.
Leaping twenty feet into the air, I caught onto the brown beasts head with my left claw sinking in deep. The daemon tried to shake me off, only to induce my rage. Going right through the bone, I sliced across the cap of its skull, exposing a pulsating brain. With my right claw, I reached in and pulled out the organ, taking the part of the spinal cord with it. The daemon screeched with mixed pain and rage. It bucked and rolled, crushing me to the floor 3 or 4 times as it writhed in its dying squirm. I roared with fury as I was thrown from the monster, who was now lifeless, its body rent apart and entrails scattered about the linoleum floor. I hit the wall with such an impact that a crimson imprint was left in it as I slid down the wall, blood trailing me into a crumpled heap on the floor.
Around this same time, Jack and Zipper were outside, huddled under a tall pine, doing as best as possible to stay dry. They continually heard loud grunt and howls uncommon to the exhibits. Ey Zipper, I think you should check out whats going on in there. They might need our elp. Monty said. Right! Zipper squeaked, saluted, and headed back to the building.
I could barely breathe, but my instinct had possessed me. I was forced to kill the other daemon. The green one was staring at me, ready to make its kill. As it leapt, I jumped up as well. In a move of desperation, it lunged at me, catching me slightly off guard. It slashed a deeply-welled series of cuts into my torso. I was flipped backwards from the force, and slammed into the ground once again. It returned to the ground with a thud, preparing to destroy me. All I could do was roll as it slashed at me, until I found another burst of the rage allow me to get up and attack again. The reptile charged me, but as it did, I sidestepped it and jumped on its back. This time, as it tried to shake me I dug my claws into its underbelly, and ripped a hole in its back with my fangs. The beast screamed in pain. I dug into the flesh, ripping out organs as I went, going straight for the heart. I grasped the heart of the beast, pulled it from the socket, and rent it in two. The reptile writhed on the floor, blood pouring everywhere. Finally the daemon slowed to a wriggle, crumbled and died, its body cold and still. I leapt up on the carcass of the animal, and let out a howl, an eerie, death howl. The condition had been completed. The blood of evil shed for the blood of good. I passed out.
I came to. The beasts lay dead under the skylight, half-submerged in their own blood. It was the most atrocious sight I had ever seen. The only thing that possibly could have made the incident any more appalling was the fact that this massacre was administered by my own two paws. My paws dropped to my sides, and I hung my head low.
I had never really known my rage. I couldnt control it. It seemed that my rage controlled me. It struck whenever my stress level exceeded that of a normally stressful beast. It was an awful reality, but nonetheless, it was reality. I didnt know how I was to continue my life if I could not get a grip on myself. I feared I would rip apart my family with my rage, or worse, rip myself from it. I fell to my knees, and tears streamed from my eyes. Silence. Tammy walked over to me, kneeled at my side, and put her hand on my shoulder. Its over. Lets go. She said, solemnly. We carried Gizmos lifeless body to the now quiet forest, where we buried her beside a tall oak.
A lost relative, now lost forever. Why did it have to happen? Gadget asked.
All I can say is that at least the rest of us got out intact. I said. We walked back to the RangerRovers, and headed back to the fort, and our cabin.
It was pretty quiet, the rest of the trip back. Only I was bold enough to
break the silence. Dang, its almost nine. What happened to the time?
I said. I was right, of course. By the time we had limped our way out of the
aquarium, the sun was already on its way down, and by the time we were within
the safety of the grove, the sun was gone.
Zipper, Foxglove and Tammy administered first aid and magical healing powers to the rest of us, while Monty fixed up a frugal but nutritious meal of ramen soup. The salves and poultices felt pretty good, and within a few hours I was bargaining with Tammy to let me get up and help the others. No way are you getting up in your condition, mister. She chided.
Right now, Tammy is telling me to quit typing on my diary, and to get some rest. I should probably do so. See you later.
Thursday, July 18
I felt better today. It must have been a combination of both Foxgloves
magical healing abilities and Tammys bandages and antibiotics. Today,
it seemed everyone felt better. Chip and Gadgets wounds were almost gone,
and Chip produced a new fedora from his duffel bag. Foxglove, Tammy and Gadget
were sitting on the couch in the den, talking about last nights mysterious
This morning, I felt strange, like the feeling you get when you eat too much Halloween candy, and then wake up wondering, Did I eat the whole thing? I got up out of my hammock and stood on the cold, hardwood floor, looking out of the window. The ocean was much more tumultuous than usual, and the sky was overcast with an odd beige hue.
Rubbing the grime from my eyes, I moved out of my room and slipped past the den. I felt able, so carefully I opened the front door, and quickly exited. Smooth as silk, if I must say so myself.
I walked out onto the main stretch of beach to survey the sky. Just as I had seen before, the sky was still a disturbing beige color. Although I could feel a cool wind ruffling my shirt, I took courage and walked to the waters edge. The waves were at least 4 feet. Because of this, I couldnt get a good look at the horizon. I thought it over for a minute or two, and decided to fly up to the fort to get a better look.
As I ascended, i noticed a small hut just under the wall. by the hut, two mouse children and an elderly mouse grandfather were huddled together, almost trembling. Being a Rescue Ranger, I had to find out what was frightening them so much.
Help us...help... The old one yelled. All three stared at me with hopefulness in their eyes. Whats wrong? I asked. The sky, its changin...were doomed! One of the young mice shrieked. The sky is changing? I pondered, still confused. We need to get within the fort, or well all die! Please, help us, sir! The second mouse child pleaded. Ill help you, just stay right there. I said, dashing back to the a-frame. Hurry, child! The storms on its way! The old mouse yelled as I left
I ran into the cabin, finding Tammy, Gadget and Foxy chatting casually on
the sofa, as if nothing was going on. Gadget, Foxglove, theres a
family of mice caught outside, and a storms coming. We gotta move!
I dictated. No further conversation was needed. Gadget and Foxglove had rounded
up the others in less than a minute.
In no time, we had split into two groups. Chip, Dale, Zipper and Gadget were devising a plan to get the mice into the weather-safe fort, while Foxy, Tammy, Monty and I stayed with the family.
Im Gerald Horry, and these are Tom n Jenny. Were thankful that you youngns have taken such a strong interest in savin us, although I still dont have the slightest idea how you aim to get us into the fort, the walls bein as high as they are, n the gates bein closed. Gerald said.
Dont worry, sir. Everything is under control. Chip and the others are planning out a way to get all three of you into the fort before the storm hits. Foxglove mentioned, pointing a wing in the direction of a new invention, and the other part of our team. Theyd better get a move on, cause me tail is doin the shimmy! Monty remarked.
Zipper flew over to us and announced that it was time to go, and led the way to the new invention. Its a fuel launched wall-climber, Gadget explained. Theres enough seats, so everyone get on board!
The odd vehicle worked pretty well, although it was rather bumpy. Eight suction cups worked in a four-legged spider-like movement up the wall. Jenny was chanting and raving at each bump, while poor old Gerald grasped his seat for dear life. Foxglove and I had just flown to the top of the wall, and watched as the craft walked up the wall as if it was walking on the ground.
Things would have been fine if it had not been for a faulty connection on the two back legs. Halfway up the wall, it stopped working, and began to clutter the path of the other legs. Uh oh, weve gotta problem here. Gadget said. By the time she had piloted the climbers right leg over the top, the two back legs had snapped, leaving the device hanging by the one gripped leg. Gadget pushed and pulled, and finally got the other leg in place, just before all of the fuel ran out. Now all it took was a few heaves from Foxy and I to pull up the other Rangers, the elderly mouse and the two young kids. Just in time too, because just as Chip helped up Jenny, the two last legs gave in, and the whole thing collapsed, falling straight to the ground with a metallic clunk.
I took another look to the East, and I felt a lump go down my throat. The sky was no longer just beige, it was black. Blimy! Thats one bad storm comin down! Monty related, noticing his tail going straight up and wiggling all around. Tooraloo! Its a urricane!
The sky lit up with lightning, thunder crackled and boomed, and then came the rains, before we could even move.....
The storm came upon us so quickly, that we had no time to even think before
we were facing the brunt fury of Nature herself. It was as though the storm
were coming straight for us, purposely. We didnt even have a plan now.
Run! Chip screamed through the stinging rain. We followed his lead along the fort wall. The surface was becoming slippery because of the rain, and that almost caused Dale to fall off the sheer ridge. The rain was coming down in torrents, stinging my back and tearing at my fur. Suddenly, the rain stopped, and the hail started, clacking explosively on the brick wall. Foxglove flew over the kids and Gerald to shield them from the dangerous hail. She was being battered as we moved as fast as we could, not knowing what to do next. Gadgets poor body could not sustain much more damage, and with a stifled gasp, she collapsed. Chip quickly turned back, almost slipping, and picked up Gadget, and held her in his arms as we tried desperately to reach shelter. Up ahead, an object appeared from the hail-obscured air. As we ran towards it, it turned out to be a tower, with a hole in the front that we could crawl through. With this hope we ran at it.
Inside, the slightly chilled air was intensified enough to make us huddle together for warmth. Chip was doing all he could to help Gadget get back to normal. I must comment on how Chip and Gadget have been doing recently. Lately, Gadget has grown to truly love Chip. It is as if they were made to love each other. A beast who had been with the team from the beginning would have thought that neither founders of this organization would have won over the affections of the beautiful inventress. However, as if some mystical sense had come over Gadget, she seemed to be drawn to Chip at the same time that Dale was falling for Foxglove. It was rather relieving really, to see a scenario where Dale didnt even care that Chip was going out with Gadget for the evening. Strange as it was, it was a welcome sight to these tired eyes to finally see those two brick-heads stop arguing like todays human husbands and wives. Finally, Gadget came to. Oh, Chip, there you are. Where am I? She asked. Youre safe. We found a tower, and are hiding out in it. Chip replied.
The thunder rumbled. I lifted myself onto the terrace and looked out over the skyline. The sky was just as gray as the ocean below it. The lighthouse continued to glow, despite the storm. Part of the wall that we had just crossed had collapsed from damage due to the hail. It seemed as if we were stuck here, stranded in an aging fortress from a long since forgotten war. We only had each other to keep us alive.
However, As I was walking around the tower, thinking about what to do next, I stumbled upon, and almost fell into, a hole. It was a rather large hole, taking up the other half of the tower floor, and leading into a drop almost as dark as the night itself. We faced a dilemma: the storm was becoming a nuisance, we were trapped in a tower, and the only two ways out were to die in the storm, or to fall into the hole. Looks like we have no choice but to go down this hole here. I said aloud. Tammy went up beside me. Looks awful dark, Wes. How are we going to get down there? She asked me. If I knew how far down the descent was, We could just drop down into the hole. Zipper, Foxglove, can you give me a hand, here? I shouted over in their direction. Sure! Zipper squeaked. What do you need, Wes? Foxy replied.
Were going to fly down into the hole, to determine the depth. Gadget, Ill need one of your pocket plunger shots. I announced. You got it, Wes! Gadget responded, searching deep within her giant overall pockets for a plunger shot. Here. You may also need this flashlight. Its pretty dark down there. Gadget handed me the items and Foxglove signaled to me it was time or the descent.
Foxglove went first. Gracefully, she dived into the hole, followed quickly by Zipper, who was followed by myself. It wasnt too far, just a short hover downward. Anyway, upon my lighting on the floor, I yelled up to the others. Rope coming up, guys! I said, firing the shot. The plunger stuck to the ceiling above the tower successfully. In single file order, starting with Chip, followed by Gadget, Jack, Tammy, The Horrys and finally Dale, who swung around the rope on his way down. Wahoo! Ride em chipmunk! He yelped. As he was spinning about halfway down, he slammed into a large red panel, knocking him to the ground. Foxglove was lucky enough to catch the unfortunate chipmunk as he fell. It turned out that the panel he hit was a touch button for a slide screen. A voice started up.
Hello, and welcome to the Fort Macon State Historical Park. In its operational times...
The voice went on to recall the long ago battles it was used for, and the slides were accompanied by the sounds of battle. It made me sad, actually. To think that the human race had nothing better to do than to fight against each other. All the blood shed made me cry. Tammy came over to me and put her arm on my shoulder. Whats wrong, Peanut? she said.
I just wish there was peace. Ive lived to see too much war and evil. I just dont know what Im going to do. I replied, dejectedly.
Wes, dont worry about it. There is still love in the world. You just have to look for it. She said, giving me a warm hug. I still dont know how she does it, but she is some sort of magic.
On that note, Ill tell you how we got out of the room. Dale, being the rambunctious sort that he is, ran for a small metal door on the other side of the room.
This is boring. I want out! He said. He leapt upon the door knob, and turned with all of his might. Nothing.
Hey Chip, gimme a paw here, will ya? Dale shouted to his companion. Chip, having nothing better to do, jumped up to the door knob and the two of them pulled furiously at it. The knob remained intact. Dang! Thats one strong lock! Chip commented. Monterey Jack, give us a hand! You got it, mate! There aint a door on this Earth ol Monterey Jack cant open! He boasted.
He tugged and turned, twisted and beat upon the knob. The mighty Aussie musclemouse was beaten by a rusted iron doorknob. Blimey! That knobs tighter than Ol Bessie Maes corset!
Three defeated Rangers. It was my turn. I picked up my bo from its strap on my back. It was a lucky thing I had it with me. I may have forgotten to tell you that I had it with me. That thing is damn tough. Its been though over a little under a thousand battles together with me, around 995 to be exact. I can even remember the first time I had with it.
I had just completed my training with my sensei, Usagi Yoshimura, in Phoenix, Arizona She had trained me in the art of kenpo, to help me defend myself against the evils I was bound to face as I wandered from town to town on my way to find my place in the sun. As I left, Usagi presented me with a bo for my very own. It was made of genuine imported hornbeam wood, and was glazed to a shine that was so bright, it almost stunned me the first time Usagi pulled it off of his holding place on the dojo wall. Here, youll need this. I have a good feeling youll use it in good health. She told me. Giving me a bag filled with rice balls, she sent me on my way. About halfway between Phoenix and Houston, Texas, I decided to stop a small diner to take in dinner. As I stepped up to the bar, a tall, muscular rat approached me.
Excuse me, punk. He said, tapping me forcefully on the shoulder. I wheeled around in my swivel chair to receive a sturdy blow from his fist. Knocked to the floor, I was laughed at from the front to the back of the diner. I was an instant laughingstock. Picking myself up off of the ground, I was going to leave him be, but I decided to teach him a little manners, the hard way. Sorry about that, Im Wescott. I extended my paw to him. I knew I was risking, but I had the upper hand, looking at my opponent. He shook, and I quickly yanked it taught, and slammed an uppercut to his armpit, with a moderately loud cracking sound emitting from it. Damn! He screamed, holding his arm. I then proceeded to strike him forcefully in the crotch with the bo. He fell to the ground, where I grabbed him by the lapels. Dont you ever, EVER, interrupt me while Im eating, punk. I spat into his face. I got up, paid the bill, and left quietly. The incident I would later refer to as The Great Dinner Snapping still bugs me in my dreams.
Well, back to the door. I leapt at the adamant threshold with my bo upraised in an attack position. The bo jammed in the spot between the door and the threshold. I yanked and pulled, struck and smacked at the door and the rusted knob. Nothing. I was absolutely shocked. I actually fell off the knob and collapsed on the ground. I thought that bo could smash through anything. Tammy had to smack me a couple of times and Foxglove had to fan me with her wings to get me up from my state of shock. How the hell did they build an impenetrable door? The only thing I could do was turn to Foxglove. Maybe she can fix it.
Ill test it. I have a bad feeling its a magically sealed door. Foxglove said when I asked her about it. Foxglove approached the door, she put together her wings in a triangular shape. Her wings glowed for a few seconds and then she turned to us.
Yup, that door is magically sealed. Ill have to fix it. Foxglove clenched her wings into fists and began to magically charge herself. The fluff of hair on her fore head fluttered wildly as she did so. Finally, Foxglove began to chant some weird words:
Subra Necran Fumio Detras
She said this over and over. All the time, a small ball of light began to grow in front of her. Finally, it was about the size of a baseball. Foxglove turned to the door and shot the ball at it.
The ball turned into a bright, flashing bird, that screeched at the door. A loud bang ensued, and a flash of bright white light filled the room.
Foxglove slumped into a heap at the floor of the room. The door was fully crisped. Dale ran to her side. Foxy? Are you okay? He asked her. Foxglove was a little weak, but she managed to sit up. Im fine, Cutie, just tired. That fire spell drained me quite a bit.
I may have told you about Foxgloves fascination with the arts of magic. Ever since Foxglove began staying with us in Chicago, shes been reading up on how to cast spells. Shes even employed the assistance of Dale, Tammy and I to create new spell ideas. So far, shes taught me how to create small sparks, Tammy to make a cup of water, and Dale can make the ground shake when he strikes it. Still these are little more than parlor tricks compared to what Foxglove is doing. She has been working on magical healing, such as making wounds become perfectly healed instantly or bones knitting quickly, and fire spells, like creating fire and hurling fireballs. This, however was a whole new ballpark. Out of nowhere, she summons a phoenix to destroy the magical barrier over the door. None of this I could have seen coming. I have a bad feeling that things are only getting worse.
So, Dale picked up Foxglove and all of us made our way into the next room. Inside this room, the air was nicely warmed, and the atmosphere considerably brighter, since there were two windows on the left and right. The only means by which the raging storm outside could get to us was the small crack in the window to the left, just above a gift shop counter, symbolizing that this room was the gift shop/museum of the fort. All of us breathed a sigh of relief. A safe haven from the storm at last. I flew up and inspected the counter. Tammy climbed up and followed suit. We need to find food, Wescott. Everybodys getting hungry. She said. Luckily, I spotted the one thing that would help us all: a whole loaded rack of Gold Sword brand snack foods. It had everything: among other things, there were Swiss rolls, 5 different kinds of chips, 9 different types of snack crackers, honey buns, chocolate peanut butter bars, even Gold Swords most prized food: PowerBeef Jerky-the jerky with 7 vitamins and minerals-all in all making around 39 different snack choices.
Paydirt, Tammy, paydirt. I said smugly.
Quickly, Tammy and I threw down whatever we could get our paws on. Gadget and Chip passed out what fell and everyone dug in as Tammy and I unloaded the final snacks from the counter.
From that moment on, we just ate and ate and stuffed ourselves with snack foods of every kind until we couldnt stand it anymore. I ate three whole PowerBeefs, Tammy tore through 8 Swiss rolls, and even Zipper wolfed down with 2 bags of bar-b-q flavored chips. All of this snacking made us sleepy, and basically, thats where I am right now. Gadget just finished making a pallet from the emergency blankets found in the first aid kit behind the cash counter. Im getting ready to sleep now, and Im going to power down the laptop. Goodnight!
Friday, July 19
Ah, how can I describe today in one word? Complex.
I had gotten up before anyone else. I had used my Ballco t-shirt as a pillow, and so I was standing, bare-chested, at the slightly cracked window, staring out at the still raging storm. Rainstorms always look much cooler during the predawn hours. Theres just a little bit of light, and in that light, you can see the raindrops fall on the brick walkways in the most intriguing way. Anyway, I feel like telling you about how I came about getting my shirt. That shirt has been with me ever since I was a young squirrel cub. Back in Denver, I was out flying one day, I had been hearing things about a new thing going on with my favorite beverage: Ballco Cola. It was called Cola Cash. It was simple: you get the Cash, you get Ballco Brand gear. Under the alias John Thomas, I collected points from around Denver, scavenging trash cans and street sides, until I had amassed 1200 Ballco Dollars. with this money, on December 25, the deadline date, I hurriedly sent off my money, and in less than 3 weeks, I got my shirt. Needless to say, my peers were jealous that I could do so, but I did it just the same. I shrunk it in a washing machine. Now, I wear my shirt proudly most of the time. Its been with me through everything since.
Now back to the sill. Tammy heard me get up, and so she and I just stared out at the most violent storm I had ever seen. Peanut? Why wont this storm let up? She asked me.
To be honest, Tammy, I dont know either. But if its related in anyway with the door and the incident at the aquarium, then only Foxglove can help us out here. As if she had ultrasonic hearing (and come to think of it, she does), Foxglove flew up to the sill beside us to ask what was going on.
I was thinking that if the door and the aquarium incident were similar, then maybe this storm is a magic one. I said to the young arcane bat. Okay, let me check. Its worth a shot. Foxglove made the same triangle with her wings that she did when checking out the door. Once again, her wings glowed. Yup. Thats not your typical raincloud, folks. Foxglove said. I got worried. It really did look like a magical force was threatening us. I just stared into the horrible storm, and thought about how this might be the same force that killed Gizmo. I was very angry.
By this time, it was near dawn, and everyone was getting up. It seemed as disgusting as how Ive seen college students eat, but we ate the rest of the snack foods for breakfast. (Then again, who am I kidding!) Gadget and Chip were checking to see if everyone was alright. Foxglove was well rested, and ready to do what ever was needed, even though we were trapped in the museum/gift shop. Gerald Horry and his grandchildren Tom and Jenny were in fine condition. All of the wounds from the previous day were healed, and everyone was perky and happy.
Today, I just sat around, looking at the various things in the museum. They had a large amount of actual clothes from the war, with cannonballs, bullets and even swords. Somehow, it just seemed wrong how I was fascinated by these artifacts. I didnt know why. Foxglove approached me.
What are you looking at, Wes? She said
I was looking at these artifacts from the war. It just makes things worse. I said.
Well, think of it this way. I may not be a perfect history professor, but if people had not have fought these wars, then we would not be free today. Foxglove said. She had a point. I thought about this for a minute. In my travels, I had read in history books of the times when the country was faced with war. Our country had to fight, or be taken. I then realized: you have to fight if you want to be free. I came out of thought with a new outlook: I have to fight. I have to be victorious. I have to be a Rescue Ranger. Thank you, Foxglove. I know what must be done. We have to fight if we want to be free. I said. Foxglove nodded.
About halfway through the morning, something strange happened, though. The clouds parted, and the sun bursted through, bringing what seemed to be a moment of piece. The sky was blue in the area surrounding the broken clouds. Everything was calm outside. Everyone turned to the window, amazed at the bright sunlight. Something that had not been seen in an entire day.
Golly! This must be the eye of the storm! Gadget exclaimed.
The what? Dale asked.
The eye of the storm, Dale. Thats the part of a hurricane where it is perfectly calm. But- Gadget was cut off as the door to the lawn in the middle of the fort opened with a loud creak. Dale, not giving caution another thought, ran out of the door, whooping and hollering. Free at last, free at last! He shouted. However, just as he was well out of earshot, a rumble of thunder crashed to the East. Chip screamed at the top of his lungs. DALE!!! GET THE HELL BACK HERE!!! He yelled. No use. Within a few seconds, Dale was engulfed in the storm. DAAAAAAAAAALE!! Chip cried.
Foxglove was shocked. She had to go after him. Dont worry, Dale! Im coming! She said as she flew out the crack in the window. I waited a few minutes, and then I felt a resolve. Im going after both of them. Tammy, keep the others here. I dont want everyone running wild out there. I said. I gave Tammy a quick kiss, and flew out the door. Please be careful, Peanut! Tammy called after me.
It wasnt long before I was once again in the thick of the raging weather. I flew as fast as I could to catch up with Foxglove. I called out her name a few times, and about a minute later, I saw her just in front of me I joined up with her as fast as I could. Foxglove! can you see Dale yet? I asked her. Not yet. I think he might have headed for the fort dungeon, so lets head over that way. She said.
The stinging rain got into my eyes and kept me from seeing straight, so I had to flail out my arms to find my bearings. Foxglove! I cant see! I yelled. Foxglove must have heard me because she called out to me. Here, grab on to my leg! She said. I flailed my arms wildly in an attempt to grasp Foxys leg. I latched on, and the two of us continued flying wildly. Suddenly, I heard a loud metallic clang, and I felt myself falling to the ground. I felt helpless as Foxglove and I plummeted into the ground with a thump. Darkness.
I got up, still semi-blinded, and began to rub my eyes. My vision was restored to a degree, so that I could see everything around me, just blurred a bit. However, I tried to get up and fly again, but my tail was hurt, so there was no use in that. I saw the blurred form of Foxglove beside me. She was still out. I pushed her lightly with my elbow to get her going again. She opened her violet eyes and looked at me.
What happened? She said. I looked up and saw that just above us was the flagpole in the middle of the fort lawn. We must have flown straight into the flagpole! I said. I noticed that Foxgloves left wing was bent a bit. I doubted that she could fly either, so I just mentioned that we should just walk the rest of the way to the dungeon. Alright. Here, hold me up. Foxglove said. I helped Foxglove up and we plodded onward to the opposite side of the fort.
Things would have been easy going for the rest of the trip had it not been for the grass loosening as we went. I started to lose traction on my footpaws, and began sliding out of control. Hang on, Foxglove! I yelled. No use. I fell, sliding face first down the lawn and ended up submerged in water. I sputtered for a few seconds before surfacing. The water must have cleansed my eyes, because I could see again. It was much better. Soon, Foxy was by my side.
Wescott! Are you alright? She asked me. Im fine, I replied. I can see again, but my tails in pretty bad shape. I looked at my tail. I couldnt turn it anymore. Foxglove examined it. Hmm. Maybe I can fix it once we get into the dungeon. She said. It was a good idea, because as I turned about to get my bearings, I found that we were at the other side of the fort. The door was open right next to us. Lets go! Foxy said.
Inside, I shook off all the rain that had collected in my fur. I pulled off my shirt and wringed it, then put it back on. It was nicely cooled inside the dungeon, but at the same time, also dark and damp, but that was to be expected. Foxglove used a magic poultice on my tail, and I was back in business. She also put one on her left wing, and flapped it proudly. Next item of business: find Dale. Foxglove created a flame and set it on a torch. She handed it to me. She then made one for herself. Ok, well split up. Wescott, you go East, Ill go West. Whoever finds Dale yells out and the other will come running. Got it? She said. Got it. I said, and with that, we turned our separate ways.
I turned to the East, and began searching. I repeatedly called out Dales name as I walked along the cobblestone pathway. The cells in the dungeon were divided in a way so that each room was of equal size across the five-sided fort. Each doorway that divided the cells was extremely narrow, and was the reason why extremely obese people were forbidden from entering the dungeons.
Soon after I began searching for our hapless chipmunk friend, I came across the RangerKestrel. In the torchlight, it was sleek, smooth and shinier than a fresh quarter. I think I should tell you about the RangerKestrel. It was my first summer with the Rangers. Gadget and I began creating some new ideas for a main source of transportation since the original RangerWing was not big enough for all of the members of the Rescue Rangers. Gadget put me in charge of the construction, while she worked on the blueprints. For most of the time, The project was kept hush-hush for everyone except Chip, Dale, Gadget and I. To everyone else, the top secret construction was known as Project Wings. It took us three months of solid labor to complete the task, but when it was over, everyone liked the results. The RangerKestrel is also known as the RangerWing II. It was modeled after the SR-71 Blackbird, and has an air speed of around 500 miles per hour, although it can go faster if necessary with the Ultra Turbojet system. It has a huge array of weapons, including missiles, both air-to-ground and air-to-air, a front-end laser cannon, and contains a holding bay for the RangerRovers. It is our greatest means of transport, as of now.
Back to the RangerKestrel. I walked around it cautiously, to see if Dale was nearby. Nothing. I was just about to walk past the jet when I heard Foxglove call out. Wescott, hurry! Dales been hurt! I ran at breakneck speed through the cells, following the sound of Foxgloves call. When I got there, Dale and Foxy were sitting on the floor. Foxy was waving a glowing wing over a large, bleeding gash on Dales side. Foxy! Dale! What happened? I said.
Something in the next chamber slashed Dale as he was walking around. I found him here, sprawled on the floor. Poor Dale. Foxglove said as she continued to magically heal Dales wound.
I could distinctly hear growling sounds coming from the next cell. A pair of glowing red eyes stared back at me. I decided I would see if this was a talking beast.
Hello? Whos there? I called after the creature.
Hello yourself. The thing responded.
Who are you?
My name is Banto the Hellcat. I protect the sanctity of this Fort.
I slashed out at your friend Dale in self-defense. After all, he was invading my home.
Im sorry if I disturbed you...
Im sorry if I hurt your friend. I would like to speak with you alone, Wescott Vance Atticas.
Dale and Foxglove moved into the previous chamber. I spoke up.
I know your name because you are the Chosen One. The reason these things have happened is because the place where you are standing now is sacred ground. This fort is actually the gateway to the Great Beyond. However, the evil elemental spirit, Jaru, is threatening to destroy it and break the gateway, causing the daemons trapped in the sky to come down and invade the Earth. You, my friend, have been chosen to rid us of this evil.
Pardon me, but just what the hell is all this bird crap? I am the Chosen One, Im gonna defend Earth from the daemons in the sky. I dont get it. Im getting out of here. I said as I turned to leave.
Stop! The Hellcat shocked me with a bolt of ball lightning. I yelped for a second. Realizing that this just might be true, I decided to give it a try, since there seemed to be no other way.
Alright, what do I have to do? I said, a bit edgy. Just stand there for ten seconds and find out. He said, and stepped out of his darkness. He was a huge beast, bearing sharp claws and rough, dusty brown fur. He looked sort of like a bobcat, and sort of like a bear, a little like a tiger, maybe a combination of the three. He wore a simple brown tunic, and stood firm as the cedar trees of Lebanon. He clasped his paws, and chanted some weird words that I couldnt make out, but an even weirder ghostly spirit shot out of his hands and shot up my nose. Instantly, my body was jolted with power, and I felt stronger, faster, more energized than ever before. Even my bo was transformed. Within the time that Banto allotted, I was garbed in a gold suit of very light ring mail, and my bo was transformed into a lightning rod. I was wearing a golden horned helmet. Sah-weet! What an excellent deal! It fits even better than my regular clothes! I exclaimed. It was like a dream come true. The ultimate armor and my fantasy weapon together! I was over the moon in a flash. Banto stepped forward.
You are now the living embodiment of the Sky Elemental, Nimbios. Now you must be trained as such. Toss your bo, it will come back to you. He said. I did so and the bo became a bolt of lightning, and returned to my paw. Wow! I said. You can create many different forms of attack just by thinking them. Go ahead and try it. Banto told me. I charged up by clenching my fists. Jolts of energy surged though my being as I charged the power for all it was worth, and then I put my hands together and shot out a straight beam of lightning. Banto absorbed it, and surprisingly enough, let out a loud belch.
Ah. That was good. He said, oddly satisfied from absorbing the elemental power.
You eat power? I asked.
Ill eat anything I want. However I want to. Its just hard for a guy to get a decent meal these days.
What about going to McDonalds...no, thats right, youd frighten everyone there.
Yes. Thats why I stay in this dark part of the dungeon. No one ever goes here, and I can live in peace, waiting to protect the Gateway.
Is it okay if the others can come in now?
Yes, thats fine.
I whistled for Foxglove and Dale. They came in and saw me dressed in the armor. Dale was astonished. Zowie, thats some outfit, Wes. Whered ya get it? He asked. Banto gave it to me. Check out my bo: Its a lightning rod! Banto says that I have been chosen to protect the Gateway of Earth from Jaru the evil elemental spirit, whatever that means.
I turned back to Banto. Continue your training, Banto. I said, and with that, we continued.
Back at the gift shop, Chip, Gadget, Tammy and the others patiently waited
and prayed that Foxglove, Dale and I were alright. Tammy, held her paws together
as she kept a silent vigil on the windowsill by the cash register.
Peanut, dont die out there. Return to me. She said as tears began to form in her eyes. She climbed back down to where the others were playing a game of poker for the remaining snack crackers. She grabbed Gadget by the shoulder and let the tears flow.
Gadget, what if my Peanut never comes back? She cried. Gadget patted her shoulder. I know hell be back. Wescott is tougher than last nights beef jerky. He can fend out this storm, and before you know it, hell be back with Foxglove and Dale. Gadget hugged Tammy. Tammy smiled a little. I know hell be back. She said.
Chip was pacing back and forth on the cash counter. He was in a rage over what a stupid thing Dale had gotten himself into. Dale had been a goofball before, but this one took the biscuit. Damnit, Dale! He ranted to the ceiling. Why do you have to be such a jackass sometimes? Jack Colby stood beside him. Listen ere, mate. E just wanted to get out o ere, s all. Ell be back, daownt you worry. Ol Wes an Foxy are doin their best to make sure e comes back. Chip smiled a bit. Then, I guess I shouldnt worry. He said.
Banto continued to train me. I knew I would need this training, because like I remembered from the museum, I knew that in order to be free from the storm, and to free the world from the daemons, I must fight. Banto formed his own bo, and sparred with me. I took the bo out of his hand when I electromagnetically charged my own bo. Good thinking, Wescott. The time is growing closer. We dont have much longer before Jaru will appear. Banto then went into the final training. He charged up his power. Now you must learn how to absorb energy attacks and send them back at your opponent. Try it. He launched a lightning bolt at me. I grabbed it with my paws and absorbed it. I then shot it right back at Banto. He absorbed it and returned it to himself. The time is almost near. Do you think you are ready? Banto asked me. I think so. I just have to let the spirit guide me. I said. Right. Just let the power guide you, and trust your instincts. Never let the Enemy get to you, or you wont make it. Banto said. The time has come. Now you must receive the final talisman. Banto reached into his right pocket and presented me with a golden pendant. It was in circle with a strange symbol in the middle. It was on a gold chain, and seemed to glow with power. This is the pendant of Nimbios. With this, you can summon the Corollis Force to end the life of Jaru and seal the gateway to the Great Beyond forever. Remember: timing is everything. Use it at the wrong time and you lose the chance for eternity. Thats all there is to it. He said.
I took the pendant from him and put it around my neck. It was gold with the symbol of a lightning bolt shooting from a cloud. Wescott, you must now face Jaru. It is time. Banto said. He led me out into the lawn and then left. Foxglove and Dale followed suit. Chip spotted them coming out of the dungeon from the window. He called everyone up to the windowsill to watch. Gadget, Tammy, Gerald, Jenny, Tom, Jack and Zipper joined Chip to see me on the lawn.
I called up to the sky. Jaru! I challenge you to face me, the embodiment of Nimbios! I said, completely without thinking. It took a few seconds, but the clouds slowly parted and a form descended from them. It was a muscular beast, almost like a man, but with horns that curved over its head and scales. It was dressed in a velvet red robe, had long black hair, and glowing red eyes. Its feet were talons, with long gray claws stretching out from them. its hands were gnarled and old with time. After it had fully descended to the earth, it spoke.
I am Jaru, master of the darkness! You weak, pathetic fool! YOU SHALL DIE!!
With that, the final fight began.
Jaru attacked first, sending a shower of ice shards at me. I deflected them with my staff. I then shot out a barrage of ball lightning at him. He disappeared and reappeared behind me. I sensed it, and rammed the staff into his forehead, leaving an imprint. He staggered back for a few seconds, and then launched himself into the air. He taunted me as I stood.
Come up and fight me, mortal! You will never win! He said. I followed him into the black sky. As he flew, he sent out a volley of obstacles to stop me. Ducking and turning to avoid them, I almost lost sight of him. He reappeared just above me with a sword in his hand, made of bone. He struck down and cut a gash horizontally across my back. The pain was strengthened my his remarks.
Cant you even duck a sword swing? How stupid! Jaru sneered. I swayed passed his next swing and smacked him across the back with my staff. He rolled backwards through the sky, and flew away again. I stood my ground. He then shot out three enormous balls of ice. I countered with a lightning bolt, which shattered the balls into dust. Although he seemed to have the upper hand in each attack, he had to stop for a few brief seconds afterwards. I decided to use this as my advantage in the next attack.
He then proceeded to fly over the open ocean. I followed him closely. This time he swirled around and caused a waterspout to form over the water. I dodged it and went straight for the throat. I shot a trio of lightning bolts which shocked him into stumbling through the sky. He was weakened severely. It was now or never. Finally, in a desperate attempt to destroy me he flew at me dead on, sword out, hoping to skewer me. I grabbed onto the pendant and closed my eyes, and shouted.
A bright blue light permeated the air. Jaru was trapped in space. Above me, the gateway to the Great Beyond was sealing itself. Silence. Jarus form simply fell to earth and made a resounding, echoing shatter on the Fort Macon lawn as Jaru broke into thousands of tiny pieces. The push of darkness had been broken!
The skies cleared, and the bright sunshine once again shone through, unhindered
by any kind of cloud, anywhere as far as the eye could see. Chip and the crew
from the museum ran out of the door, while Foxglove picked up Dale and everyone
gathered at the flagpole as I descended to the earth. Even Banto came out of
his dungeon to see me. Tammy grabbed hold of me and kissed me like there was
no tomorrow. Everyone else cheered and was very happy. The storm was over and
everyone could rest easy. Banto approached me.
Wescott, you have proven to me and to everyone present that you are truly a hero. You have saved the lives of numerous beasts throughout the world, and thanks to you, life can go on again, alive with freedom. Keep the pendant with you as a token of my gratitude. If you ever get into a situation you cant handle on your own, just hold the pendant and shout NIMBIOS TRANSFORM! Wescott, you did a good job. He said. Chip then spoke up. Well, the storm is over. Lets just go up to the battlement and watch the sunset. He said.
We all went up the steps to the Western battlement. The sun was sinking slowly into the sky. Tammy put her arm around me. She knew what I was thinking. Wescott, you did the right thing. Im proud of you. You know I love you, right? She said. Yes, and I love you too. I said, and I just gave her a great big kiss. That is about how the evening is ending. Were going to spend the night on the battlement since there is NO chance of a storm. Its about eight, and Im going to bed. Goodnight!
Saturday, July 20
Well, we are currently on our way back home in the RangerKestrel. I can't
begin to tell you how excruciating this whole experience has been for me. I
hardly had any fun, and aside from the fact that all of us almost got killed
several times, the world was almost ravaged by daemons, Gadgets long lost
sister was lost, found and lost again, not much happened. I dont think
Ill be planning anymore trips to the Outer Banks any time soon. The whole
trip caused me to puke earlier this morning. My head really hurts and Im
beginning to see why its like they always say: Its a nice
place to visit but I sure as hell wouldnt want to live there. Tammy
is serving me lunch, and shes telling me to stop writing in my journal,
but I still have to tell you what happened to Mr. Horry and the kids. They decided
to live inside the fort with Banto as their guardian. Hell take good care
of them. Hopefully, nothing like what happened this week will ever happen again
at the Fort. Otherwise, we could be in deep trouble. Ive had enough of
this, but there is still one thing that bugs me and will probably bug me for
the rest of my life. When I was looking out the window back in the museum as
the storm raged on, it was as if I was staring into the eye of oblivion, and
not flinching. I wonder if things like that ever continue to happen. Well, Its
lunchtime, and so Im going to turn off the laptop. Its been a blast,
see you later!
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