You can tell a lot about a man by how he keeps house. Chip was learning this
as he and Gadget rummaged through a chaotic collection of junk. Even if he hadn't
known that Norton Nimnul had once operated out of this shack he could have easily
guessed it. It was a mirror of the man's mind; bits and pieces of brilliance thrown to-
gether in no particular order. Gadget obviously shared his point of view.
"How did he find anything in this mess?", she asked no one in particular.
This was a far cry from her workshop back at RRHQ. To the casual observer it
might appear equally disorganized but she always knew precisely where everything
was. Her tools, though they looked slip shod (being made from human cast-offs), were
also maintained in immaculate condition. Geegaw Hackwrench had drummed into his
daughter the importance of properly caring for tools and equipment. This place was the
antithesis of everything she'd been taught.
"If Nimnul had a system it's probably as scrambled as the rest of his brain," Chip
He added a last piece to a small pile he'd been building on the window ledge.
He looked down, making sure it lined up with the trailer (a skateboard Gadget had
modified for her purposes) hitched to the Rangermobile, and began to push.
"Chip, stop!" Gadget ran over and pushed her way in front of her friend.
"That's delicate equipment. We'll have to rig a block and tackle and lower it
He sighed. "This little parts-run of yours is turning into a major project, Gadget."
The young mouse looked sheepish. "Well, I guess we should have done this in a
series of smaller trips. I've been meaning to scavenge this place for a while but new
cases kept coming up. Now that they're tearing it down we'll have to get as much as we
can in this one trip." As if to punctuate this the sound of a bulldozer starting up assailed
their ears. The rest of the lot had already been cleared for the new building project.
Nimnul's shack would be the last to go.
Gadget had high hopes for this salvage job. She found it very frustrating that all
the ingenious (albeit warped) inventions pitted against them were invariably lost before
she could see how they worked. And not just Nimnul's devices. Perhaps the sweetest
plum of all had been the space pod Dale had crashed in the lake. What she would
have given for a chance to take that apart! But, before she could assemble any un-
derwater salvage equipment it had been found by some sanitation workers. They
thought it was a just toy and tossed it in the trash. She kept an eye peeled whenever
she was out looking for parts but had never discovered which dump it had been sent to.
"Or maybe it's not in a dump at all", she thought wryly. "Maybe one of them took
it home to their kids. The most advanced technological artifact on Earth could, at this
moment, be lying at the bottom of a child's toy box."
History is determined not so much by brilliant strategies in war and shrewd diplo-
macy in peace as it is by coincidence and happenstance. Minor decisions and acci-
dents, in fact, make up history. It was a minor decision, for example, for Jacob Evans to
take a short cut through the old lot during his morning jog. And it was just a coinci-
dence that he leaned to rest against the window frame where Chip and Gadget had
been piling equipment, and this is our story really gets started.
At fifty-five Jacob was still a powerfully built man with his hair just beginning to
grey. His attention was immediately caught by the collection of components. After
studying them for a few moments he went inside. The two rodents quickly hid though
there was no need. Evans was far too absorbed by the contents of the shack to notice
it's only two occupants. After about ten minutes of examining defunct inventions and
rifling through stacks of old notes he left.
The two rodents scrambled up to the window sill and looked out. Jacob was ap-
proaching the bulldozer and motioning for it to stop. Chip and Gadget never heard the
conversation that took place between him and the driver. Except for the roar of the en-
gine they might have been watching a silent tableau. Jake's side was very animated,
often gesturing back towards the shack. The driver seemed indifferent, even bored and
then suddenly burst out laughing. By this time a number of workmen had drifted over
and whatever they overheard caused them to laugh as well.
Then Jake pulled out his wallet. All laughing stopped as he began counting out
The next thing they knew, they were the target of a veritable stampede. As she
and Chip ran for cover Gadget made her first big mistake. Rather than follow Chip
down to the floor, she dashed across a workbench, perhaps hoping to grab a few
pieces of equipment before it was too late. The door was nearly knocked off it's hinges
as hardhatted humans pushed their way in. One man propped up a crate at one end of
Gadget's workbench and, with his other arm, swept the entire contents of the table top
As Chip looked on in horror everything in the shack was quickly boxed, bundled,
and carried away. Following the men outside he saw that it was all being loaded into a
beat-up pickup truck. The man who had caused all this had a few words with the driver
then sprinted off.
Chip grappled with momentary indecision; split between making a try for the
pickup or following on the Rangermobile. The decision was made for him when the
truck peeled out, kicking up a shower of gravel and dirt. Chip ran for the motorized
skateboard and kicked the switch that brought the engine to life. He knew he wouldn't
have much time to catch up. Thanks to Gadget's technical wizardry the small vehicle
could actually match the speed of a car or truck, but only for a few minutes at a time.
Any longer and either the engine would burn out or the battery would be completely
drained. Sometimes both.
The Rangermobile sped down the street, keeping pace with the pickup.
"Gadget!", Chip yelled.
He doubted he could be heard over the sound of traffic but there was little he
could do without her cooperation. When repeated calls yielded no answer he decided
to take action on his own. Keeping one foot on the accelerator and bracing the other on
the vehicle's skate key steering wheel he reached behind the seat. He didn't recall
Gadget packing the plunger-harpoon but just the same knew it would be there. It was
almost unthinkable for her to be without one. Securing one end of the line to the Rang-
ermobile he drew a bead on his target. As he took aim, however, the truck began pull-
ing ahead. He leaned harder on the accelerator only to find it was already on the floor.
'We can't be out of power already,' he thought.
He glanced back at the rear-mounted hair dryer which served as the vehicle's
means of propulsion. Though he didn't see smoke trailing from it as he'd feared, he did
see why he was losing speed. Chip sighed. Gadget would be furious about what he
was about to do. But then that was the idea, to ensure that she would be around to be
furious. He grabbed the release cable that ran back to the trailer coupling and yanked
hard. The Rangermobile shot forward as nearly a full mornings work spilled out across
Chip took aim again and scored a direct hit on the truck's bumper. There was a
sharp jerk as the line went taut. Switching off the engine he strapped himself in and
settled back. He flirted briefly with the notion of making his way, hand over hand, along
the line to the truck. After all, Gadget might be hurt and require immediate attention.
Unfortunately, someone was needed to steer the Rangermobile. It would do no good to
rescue Gadget only to have their means of escape smashed to bits by a pothole. He
would just have to wait till they reached their destination and take it from there.
The chief problem with work, as far as Alex was concerned, was that the work-
day started too early. Which meant waking up at an ungodly hour; going though wash-
ing, dressing and feeding yourself while half asleep; and then fighting your way through
traffic to get to work just to put in eight hours of hard labor.
Alex Spender was not a morning person.
Alex leaned back from the monitor, brushing his dark hair away from blue-gray
eyes. His hard labor currently consisted of tracking down the bug that had been plagu-
ing the data retrieval system. He had managed to narrow it down to a software problem
as opposed to hardware. Though, "narrow" might have been the wrong word since he
would now have to search through umpty-million lines of code. Even with the help of
diagnostic software it was going to be mind numbing work. All things considered he
was relieved when the call came to drop everything and report to lab five. At director
Evens' orders no less. Alex reflected that having an old friend of the family as a supe-
rior had advantages. Not that Jacob showed him any favoritism but he was not adverse
to offering the occasional perk. Just Alex was not adverse to accepting them.
Lab five, it turned out, was fairly isolated in a part of the building complex not cur-
rently in use. Like all the lab rooms it had a series of computer terminals, and work-
benches. It was also packed full of boxes and bundled papers. There was no sign of
Evans, but then the man might not even be in the building yet. His higher-ups didn't
seem to care what hours he kept as long as he got the job done. Alex was just starting
to rummage through some boxes out of curiosity when he burst in.
Jacob scanned the room, his eyes wide with what could only be called wonder.
Alex was reminded of a child coming downstairs on Christmas morning to find brightly
wrapped presents piled under the tree. As he would discover, that analogy was very
"Isn't it beautiful?" he breathed. "What a find!"
"Uh, sir," said Alex, "what exactly is 'it'?"
Jacob grinned broadly and grabbed a bundle of papers off a nearby stack. He
untied them and proffered a sheaf of papers to Alex.
"Have you ever heard the name Norton Nimnul?"
Gadget regained consciousness slowly. Her first thought was, 'My bed is awful
lumpy.' She felt around, trying to rearrange sheets and pillows, only to realize she
wasn't in bed at all. She was, in fact, half buried in a box of electronic components.
The sides of a wooden crate loomed up around her. Directly above was a fluorescent
light fixture. Then it all came back; the parts run, being swept off the table, and then
blackness. She quickly took stock of herself. Over the course of years of workshop
mishaps she had become quite efficient at first-aid. There were numerous scratches
and abrasions, as well as a sizable bump on her head. However, there didn't seem to
be any serious damage. She also couldn't move her right foot. There was no pain
though. It seemed to be caught on something. Gadget was quite aware of the pres-
ence of the two humans. Their voices carried clearly across the room. She began to
dig, moving aside transistors, capacitors, ICs and circuit boards. She moved slowly,
trying to avoid unnecessary noise, all the while following the conversation going on
"So this guy is a scientist?" asked Alex.
"He calls himself a professor, though I don't know if he had any formal training. If
he did the school never gave him a sheepskin."
Jacob had fired up a computer terminal and called up the Official Mad Scientists
Web Page. He had been surprised such a thing existed, though he knew he shouldn't
have been. There were web pages for just about everything. Norton Nimnul's bio page
was mostly taken up by a police rap sheet.
"Note the particulars of his crimes. The testimony of eyewitnesses hints at some
very intriguing technology. Miniaturization. Weather control. Even anti-gravity, or
something very much like it."
"If he could invent all that then why was he wasting time on crimes? If it was
money he wanted all he had to do market any one of them and he'd be the richest man
"Well, there's a reason they call them 'mad' scientists," said Jacob. "And the
Cops could never find his machines. Or, at least, what they did find was to busted up to
make any sense out of."
He turned away from the screen, taking in the contents of the lab once more.
"Can you believe this was just lying around like so much junk? If I'd taken my
usual route today by now all this would be bulldozed to oblivion. Instead, with the out-
lay of a few paultry bribes, this technological treasure trove is all ours."
Alex raised a hand, "Um, question. Doesn't all this stuff and the ideas behind it
belong to Nimnul?"
Jacob gave a dismissive shrug. "I never said we wouldn't cut him in. A small cut
of course. After all, we'd be doing all the work of developing this into practical, usable
technology. I doubt he has much use for money these days anyway."
He gestured towards the screen. "He's got a permanent room at the state men-
"Paranoid delusions," Alex confirmed. "He thinks rodents are out to get him."
Across the room, unseen by either man, a mouse smiled.
Jacobs's mind was filled with visions of room temperature superconductors and
cold fusion reactors. Alex, however, was not so easily convinced.
"I still can't buy into this. Some of the technology you're describing isn't even al-
lowed by natural law as we understand it."
"So maybe we don't understand it as well as we thought. C'mon you've got the
evidence right in front of you," he tapped the papers Alex had been skimming over.
"You can't tell me you're not at least intrigued."
Alex was forced to admit his interest was peaked. While the descriptions were
nonsense the schematics and formulae that accompanied them actually looked... plau-
"So, our first job is to make sense of all these chicken scratchings." Jacob pulled
a handtruck out of a supply closet and began piling bundled papers onto it. "For now
we'll keep the project small. Just you, me and some people I know in Data Processing.
We'll bring in more personnel as we need them but I don't want to start anything major
until we know exactly what we've got here."
He began wheeling the papers out the door.
"Where are you going?"
"Data Processing, like I said. This'll be a lot easier if we let a computer organize
and corollate this data."
Alex made a face. From what he had seen most of this was handwritten so it
couldn't be scanned in. Some one would have to type it all in manually. He didn't envy
them the task.
"So what job did you have in mind for me?" he asked.
"I want you to make a start on all this equipment. It'll take days to get all this into
the computer. For now, catalog as much of this as you can. Find out what it does or is
supposed to do. I'll send for the rest of the notes later."
He disappeared out the door.
By this time Gadget had dug enough of herself free to stand up. Her foot was
still caught but if she stretched she could just peek over the top of the crate. One hu-
man remained in the room. He had carried a box over to a workbench and was ex-
amining the contents.
The young mouse was in the grip of mixed emotions. Nimnul was a dangerous
man, but danger on a small scale. His inventions were for his own exclusive use. What
would happen if those same inventions became available to the general public? Also,
though she would never have admitted it, she held certain proprietary feelings for this
equipment. This find, this technological treasure trove, was her's not some human's!
She shook her head trying to clear it. Whatever she was going to do she had to
get free first. She moved aside a few more components and found the problem. It was
a ring shaped device, like a bracelet, although it didn't seem designed to worn as one.
There was a clip on one side. This was what had caught her foot. It was as she
reached down to free herself that it happened.
Alex had come across a small bracelet shaped device. As it appeared intact he
decided to run a charge through it to see what would happen. The moment he attached
the power leads it was as if the current were running through his own body. His initial
thought of "Electrocution!" was shoved aside as saw what was happening too his sur-
roundings. The room seemed to explode around him! The roof was rising higher. The
walls were all moving away. Only the floor was moving towards him. Very quickly.
Then what felt like a canvas tarp fell over him. He felt like a parachutist just fallen to
earth only to be covered by his own chute. He struggled underneath the material and
finally fought his way clear.
The first thing that struck him was that he was in a different room. A room that
was to lab five as an aircraft hanger was to a garden shed. As he looked up and
around, he soon realized it *was* lab five. As viewed by some one about four inches
tall. His mind flashed back to his earlier conversation. Evans had mentioned minia-
turization. Had he inadvertently shrunk himself? For the first time since the shock he
looked down at himself.
He was furry.
Fine grey fur covered his arms. In fact, it covered his entire body, fading into
white on his chest and stomach. He could see this since he was now completely na-
ked. A glance over his shoulder confirmed that the "tarp" which had fallen over him was
his own clothing. Alex tentatively reached up to his face. He encountered a pointed
snout with whiskers sprouting from either side. Given the circumstances his next action
was completely understandable. He fainted.
Gadget fared somewhat better. She was also hit by an electrical shock but at
this point in her life she was used to them. On her personal "electrocution" scale she
would have given it a three; a weak four at best. Rather than explode the room actually
seemed to collapse in on her. The crate she had been trapped in burst apart as it be-
came to small too hold her. The table she was on collapsed, unable to support the sud-
den weight. Gadget found herself sprawled on the floor amidst the wreckage. Quickly
checking herself for damage she discovered two things. First, she was naked. Second,
she was human.
As her work with the Rangers had given her an unusually high tolerance for
weirdness, Gadget was spared a fainting spell. In fact, modesty won out over shock
and she looked around for some thing to cover herself with. The best she could do was
a lab coat some one had left draped over a chair. As she stood to button it up she was
hit by an odd feeling of vertigo. She certainly had no fear of heights, but she was view-
ing the room from a vantage point over five feet above the floor. Yet her senses told
her she was standing normally. She swayed a little but found her balance as she tried
to work out what had happened.
She had recognized the device her foot had been caught on. Nimnul's metamor-
phosizer. The twisted genius had used it to switch his form with that of other animals,
using their natural abilities to commit crimes. So, if she had taken on the form of a hu-
man then that meant... Gadget quickly spun around to face the workbench where the
man had been working. She had been so preoccupied that she hadn't given him a
thought till now. He was gone. In his place was a pile of clothing. Next to the clothes,
lying flat on it's back, was a small grey mouse.
While this drama was being played out in lab five Chip was having his own prob-
lems. He had arrived safely at their destination, that destination being a complex of
buildings identified by a large sign as "Optimum Technologies". But not without inci-
dent. Crossing over a section of asphalt which had been deeply scored, apparently in
preparation for repaving, the plunger harpoon had been jarred loose. After a frantic
search he had finally caught sight of the truck just as the last of the boxes were being
unloaded. Following them into the building he had quickly become lost. The entire
complex was a multi-level maze. He considered going for the other Rangers so they
could mount a proper search operation, except that he couldn't find his way out of the
building either. He pressed on, determined to find Gadget.
Gadget knelt by the newly made mouse and, leaning forward, poked him gently.
"Hello," she said tentatively. "Are you alright?" Her voice sounded strange to
her ears, deeper than usual.
Alex had been awake nearly a minute by then but had not opened his eyes. His
thoughts were divided into two camps. One fervently hoped it had all been a dream
and wanted him to open his eyes to confirm this. The other was terrified that it hadn't
been a dream and wanted him to keep his eyes closed so he couldn't confirm it. It was
Gadget who broke the stalemate. Alex didn't recognize the voice but that didn't matter.
There was some one here now. Whatever the problem was, he would have help. Ev-
erything would be alright. Right?
He opened his eyes.
Alex scrambled back only to become entangled in his own clothes again. He lay
there, nearly in hysterics. His breath came hoarse and rapid, his body was shaking in
Gadget fell back at the sound of his scream. She had expected shock, even
fear, but finding himself face to face with what from his perspective was a giant was ap-
parently more than he could deal with.
"It's alright," she said softly. "No one's going to hurt you. It's OK."
She continued on in this manner, not quite realizing she had assumed the same
tones and attitude that any human would use to calm a frightened animal. Fortunately,
it had the desired effect. Gradually the trembling subsided and his breathing slowed.
Alex lay back in a cushion of clothing and regarded the giant woman who loomed
over him. 'No. Not a giant,' he thought. 'I've shrunk!' She could have been in her early
twenties. Blue eyed, with a mane of red-blonde hair reaching down to her waist. Quite
attractive, really. The kind of woman he would have liked to meet had he still been the
proper species. She was wearing a white lab coat. In fact, that seemed to be all she
"Believe me, I know what you're going through," she was saying. "A few minutes
ago you were human and now you're a mouse. Well, a few minutes ago I was a
mouse and now I'm human. The other half of the equation, I guess. What's your
name? I'm Gadget Hackwrench."
The answer sounded, to Gadget's human ears, like a series of high pitched
Gadget frowned. Her previous experience with a metamorphosizer had involved
a wolf from the city zoo. As a human he had still been able to understand her and the
other rangers. Some aspect of his wolf hearing had apparently carried over into his hu-
man form. Not so for her. Still, they would have to establish some form of communica-
tion if they were going to help each other.
"It's no good. I can't understand you. Come on." She set her hand down on the
floor, palm up.
Alex backed away and regarded it suspiciously.
"Look, we're going to have to trust each other. I won't hurt you. I need you to be
a mouse again just like you need me to be human."
Finally he climbed onto her hand. She lifted him up to the counter and set him
down. He immediately ran to check on the metamorphosizer. It was completely fried,
some parts even melted. No help there. He turned his attention back to Gadget. She
had found a pad of paper and offered him a pen. This was the first time Alex had ever
used a writing implement that was taller that he was. He found that if he held it in both
hands (paws?) and propped it against his shoulder he could write with reasonable legi-
"Hi, my name's Gadget. Oh, I already said that didn't I? Um, what..."
But Alex was writing again.
He pointed to the remnants of the metamorphosizer.
Gadget took a deep breath and told him, at length, about her encounter with
Nimnul. As Alex listened he found himself captivated not so much buy the description
of Nimnul's invention, which he had already experienced first hand, as by Gadget's de-
scription of the world she lived in. He had jumped to the conclusion that her ability to
speak was a by-product of the change. That functioning with a human brain had upped
her I.Q. As her story progressed it became obvious that she was no stranger to rational
thought. Nor were the numerous other animals she mentioned.
Now, Alex had no illusions about his species. He knew that humans could be
enormously arrogant and self-centered. But it amazed him that there could be a whole
other civilization, literally at their feet, and no one had realized it. Imagine how the
world would react when... His train of thought came to an abrupt halt. He could imag-
ine all to clearly how the world would react. It would be chaos! The level of global
paranoia would sky rocket as man turned his suspicions not only against his fellow man
but against animals as well. Religion would surely figure into it as well. Most likely it
would be seen as the work of the devil or a sign of the apocalypse. In the end it would
all be taken out on the animals. If humans could perform acts of unspeakable cruelty
on each other how much worse would they treat creatures that were, literally, inhuman?
Creatures they now saw as a threat. The depredations they visited on animals even
now would be nothing compared to the carnage that would follow. No wonder intelli-
gence had never been recognized in animals. They intentionally kept it hidden, and
with good reason.
He dropped the pen and sat down with a loud, for a mouse, thump. Gadget
stopped her oration and looked at him quizzically. He got back on his feet and wrote:
CAN'T TELL ANYONE?
Gadget thought a moment then shook her head solemnly.
The greatest discovery in history and he couldn't tell anyone about it.
NO TELL = NO HELP
"I'm afraid so," she agreed. "Still, we've got plenty of equipment to work with
here. I'm sure we can switch ourselves back."
Gadget's optimism would prove to be short lived. The innerworkings of Alex's
metamorphosizer were fried beyond recognition. In sifting through the scattered
components on the floor they could find nothing resembling the device which had trans-
formed Gadget. She had probably shattered it while growing.
All through the search something kept nagging at Alex. He knew the word
"metamorphosizer" from somewhere, he just couldn't remember where. He had heard it
or seen it written some - it hit him like a bolt from the blue. The papers Jacob had given
him to peruse. One had been a page of schematics clearly labeled "Metamorphosizer".
He got Gadget's attention through the simple expedient of jumping up and down and
squeaking at the top of his lungs. She immediately carried him back to his pad and
NOTES - SAW THEM
DIAGRAMS, SCHEMATICS, EVERYTHING!
"Where are they?" asked Gadget, caught up in his enthusiasm.
Alex tried to calm down and think. He had set them on a stack of papers right
over there. Except there was no stack of papers over there. His heart sank as he real-
ized what must have happened. Gadget continued to look at him expectantly.
"Well, where are they?"
"Data Processing, Sharon Irving. Can I help you?"
"Uh, yes," came a female voice from the other end of the line, "this is, um, Dr.
Hackwrench. I'm working on a special project for director Evans. I believe he had
some papers sent down there earlier."
"Yes, that's right."
"Well, there were some notes included in that delivery by accident. I really need
them here so if you could have them sent..."
"I'm sorry doctor. Director Evans has placed that material under alpha clear-
ance. I'd need you to sign it out personally."
There was silence on the line. An argument seemed to be going on in the back-
ground though only one voice could be heard.
Finally, "Uh, OK. I'll send some one. Thanks."
"Sure there's risk," acknowledged Gadget, "but if we're going to build more meta-
morphosizers we need those notes. I mean, sure I've worked on them before but I
couldn't build one from scratch. If you have a better idea I'm all ears."
Alex fumed but she was right, there was no other way.
CAN PROVIDE CODES
He dropped the pen, wrung his fingers, and caught his breath. Writing can be
very tiring when you're a mouse. When Gadget looked on, concerned, he resumed
BE EASIER IF COULD TALK
"I know. I've never figured out exactly why humans can't understand me. When
I'm a mouse, I mean." A thought struck her.
"You know, you have a smaller voice box now, so your voice must be pitched a
lot higher," she said, thinking of how her own voice sounded lower. "I know humans
don't hear sounds that are pitched too high. So what we need is -," her attention was
caught by Alex.
DEVICE - LOWER PITCH
Gadget smiled, her mind already awhirl with possibilities. There were plenty of
spare parts to work with and she knew basically how to build what he proposed. With
what she had gone through already that morning a little inventing would be just the
thing to relax her.
Now, while Alex and Gadget are busy with their project, it would be worth our
time to consider Gadget's past. Specifically her relationship with her father. Her mother
had died when she was just a year old so she had no real memories of her. For nearly
twenty years her life had revolved around her father. Geegaw had always known Gad-
get was a bright, quick child though her true intelligence didn't make itself known until
she was in school. Her first grade teacher had recognized Gadget as the prodigy she
was. Knowing such children were often ostracized by their peers he had been careful
not to draw attention to her. He arranged with her father for Gadget to receive special
assignments on the side to challenge her growing intellect. Unfortunately, her second
grade teacher used a different approach. She held Gadget up as an example for the
rest of the class. It wasn't long before she had been branded the class brain, with all
that entails. So she came to depend even more on her father as the only person in her
life she could relate to. Geegaw Hackwrench had been an intelligent mouse. He was
the best pilot of his generation and could repair and maintain his planes well enough.
He'd taken care to teach Gadget everything he knew but he was never a match for his
daughter's genius and eventually her knowledge surpassed his own. She didn't see it
To Gadget her father was the standard she could never live up to no matter how
hard she tried. Since her inventing had gone into a slump after his death she saw this
as confirmation. Without her father's help her inventions suffered so it was her father
who had made them work in the first place. This was true, but not for the reasons she
If Gadget had one flaw as an inventor it was her tendency to focus so intently on
one specific part of a machine, the engine for instance, that she would neglect or even
omit other parts. Like brakes. Geegaw's most valuable contribution to her work was in
the form of quality control. With Geegaw there to double check her work and remind
her of anything she'd forgotten - riding the brake, as it were, of her creative exuberance
- her inventions rarely failed.
Since the other rangers saw Gadget's inventive moods as cues to run for cover
this was the first joint project she'd taken part in since her father died.
The work progressed smoothly enough, though they did run into a hitch or two.
Mostly it was a matter of their newly acquired sizes. Gadget wasn't used to dealing with
parts so small that at some points she needed to use a magnifying glass. The human
sized tools, however, were quite convenient to use. Alex, on the other hand, wasn't
used to dealing with parts so big. He didn't know the various tricks rodents used to
make up for their small size so his chief contribution was in the design of the thing.
They got as far as the testing stage only to discover that the communication barrier was
more than a matter of mere pitch. Finally, after a little redesigning and an extra half
hour of fine tuning, success!
"Testing. One, two, three," Alex said.
"You're coming in loud and clear," Gadget confirmed, putting a hand to her ear.
A wire ran down from the ear piece to the counter where it plugged into what appeared
to be an old transistor radio. It was the only case they could find that was the right size.
"Not bad at all. Brush your hair forward a little and you can't even see it."
They were both in considerably better spirits now, heartened by their success
with the communicator. Now, there was just one last thing. It would hardly be incon-
spicuous for Gadget to walk through the halls wearing only a lab coat. So Alex politely
turned his head while she tried on his clothes. He used the time to hunt up an old dust
rag which he wrapped around himself toga style. It could have been argued that in his
current form he didn't need clothing but a lifetime of habit is hard to break.
"OK. How do I look?" asked Gadget.
It will be left as an exercise for the reader to imagine a humanized Gadget wear-
ing ill-fitting men's clothes.
Actually, the fit wasn't as bad as Alex had feared. Though proportioned differ-
ently her overall size seemed to be the same as his had been. The metamorphosizer
had probably used the mass from his old body to make her new one. With the coat hid-
ing most of the ill fit it would at least be good enough for a quick trip down to data pro-
"Wait a minute. The shoes are wrong."
"Yes, they're not very comfortable," said Gadget, who usually didn't bother with
"No. I don't mean the fit. I mean the style. Women don't wear shoes like that."
Still, bare feet would have been even more noticeable so they were stuck with it.
Finally, with the communicator safely stowed away and Alex ridding in a coat
pocket, they were ready. Gadget opened the door and stepped out into the human
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