Three Birthdays

by McPoodle


Please see the end of the story for acknowledgements and credits.


August 15th, 1990

The hotel had seen better days.

Once, Hotel Aloha was one of the premiere destinations in the Hawaiian Islands, its verandas offering unsurpassed views of sunrise and sunset on the beaches of Kazookai. The hotel owned the tiny island, and every aspect of its existence was micro-managed to fit an exact schedule. But it was this demand for perfection in a tropic clime that proved the hotel's downfall. The manager had installed an artificial volcano on the island, a volcano so huge it dwarfed the buildings at its base. For years, it had erupted into a fireworks show every night at precisely 8:30.

Eventually, the mechanism controlling the volcano proved vulnerable to high humidity. At least, that's what the mechanic told the owner of Hotel Aloha after the disaster. "You're lucky it was only marshmallows," he said. "Imagine if that was a real volcano." This was little condolence for the owner. Most of his employees left him on Marshmallow Day, including his valet, his clerk, and his bellhop. Now he had to park the cars and check in the guests and take the bags. He would have done this gladly if anyone came to his hotel, but Hotel Aloha was now the laughing stock of the tourist industry, and nobody came to lie on the beaches and ride the waves off Kazookai anymore. The owner didn't blame the humidity for his calamity, and he didn't blame Pele. He blamed the largest native inhabitants of the island at the time he had bought it—the mice. How else would marshmallows end up in an artificial volcano?

The walls of one of the hotel's many abandoned bedrooms were quite close by human standards, but they still towered above the body of the still mouse. Luwai'ni was awake, but she lay still for several minutes with her eyes closed, hoping the world would just go away. Finally, reluctantly, she opened her eyes, her focus drifting from the plush carpet in her face to the curled form of the sleeping Shaka-Baka at the other end of the room.

"Still in the land of the living," she muttered under her breath. The sentiment was meant as much for herself as for her boyfriend.

Carefully, she lifted herself into a sitting position and waited to see if her body decided to disagree with her today. Considering the events of the previous night, it was something of a minor miracle that she was able to stand, but stand she did.

A few minutes later, she had made her way to the bathroom. She carefully closed the large door behind her then crawled up the bathroom vanity to the countertop. By stacking a couple of bars of soap atop one another, she was able to get high enough to see her face in the wall mirror. Putting her hands on the wall, she leaned forward and stared deeply into her reflection, as if she was trying to spot her soul. This was a daily ritual for her, at least on those mornings when she could find some privacy and something reflective to gaze into. Satisfied at last that nothing was missing, she finally turned to her looks. When she was finally satisfied that she had achieved the appearance of a woman who didn't know she was beautiful, she made a running leap from the countertop onto the bathroom doorknob. In a well-practiced motion, she continued across the top of the knob, using her feet to turn it before making another leap at the far wall, where the towels were hung. She hit the towel and clung fast, then quickly made her way down to the floor just as the door had swung open far enough for her to stride through.

There on the other side stood Shaka-Baka. "Happy birthday, Luwai'ni!" he proclaimed.

"Hooray for me," Luwai'ni deadpanned.

The hotel had an overabundance of food for the guests that was continuously on the verge of spoilage (blame the humidity), so breakfast for the two mice was no problem. Afterwards, Luwai'ni followed Shaka-Baka as he led her to the island's dock, asking him several times along the way to repeat the conversation he had overheard the night before. The going was slow, as she was carrying a stuffed suitcase with her. Standing on the last of the pilings, she leaned forward and let her eyes dance along the waves to the horizon, trying to imagine the mainland of North America in all of its immensity far to the west.

"That's it, then," she concluded. "We're leaving tonight."

The large mouse behind her said nothing, looking with sadness at the only thing he had brought, a handcrafted surfboard.

The look did not escape Luwai'ni's notice. "I hear there are some great beaches in California," she told him over her shoulder. "The surfing off of Monterey..."

Shaka-Baka cut her off, as this was the one subject on which he was an authority. "Not like Kazookai, babe. Nothing's like Kazookai to a mouse surfer."

"I suppose," she agreed reluctantly. She turned to face him as she made her decision. "Look, you don't have to come, Shaka-Baka. You'd be just as out of place as I will be, and you know I'm capable of taking care of myself."

"Stop talking like that," the surfer replied with a frown. "We're in this together, remember? 'Together till the bitter end,' you said. And it's a little bitter now, with, like, no tribe and all, but we still got each other, you know?" He smiled at her in the goofy way he knew she liked.

Sure enough, she was soon sporting a goofy grin to match his. "Fine, be that way," she said in a mock-pout. "I suppose we could waste my birthday riding the Kazookai surf one last time."

"Woo-hoo!" shouted Shaka-Baka, grabbing her arm and diving into the ocean from the edge of the post.

The two mice went from ocean to beach and back a seemingly endless number of times in the hours that followed. As usual on such occasions, Luwai'ni found a simple happiness that was foreign to her nature from being close to Shaka-Baka.

After she told him this was their last run, he paddled the board and her far, far out into the ocean. He barely had time to turn around and stand up before the wave had them. She stood behind him on the board, her arms around his waist.

I would be dead if I was doing this by myself, Luwai'ni thought to herself. I just don't have the knack. Thinking to myself at a time like this is probably a good reason for that. Just look at him—there's absolutely nothing going through that head right now. No, that's not fair, there's all kinds of complicated technical stuff about staying on the water and balancing the board going through his head, it's just that none of it is words. He just seems to find his place in the universe, and the universe gives him everything he wants. Including me, maybe? Why can't I be anything like that? Wow, this is a really long wave. I wonder how long it could possibly...


Luwai'ni landed on her head. Actually, considering how much bigger proportionately mice heads are than human heads, this is a very common landing position, leading to an awful lot of neck problems in professional mice surfers. The fact that Shaka-Baka had no neck to speak of was therefore quite an advantage.

Luwai'ni flipped herself upright before anyone could see her in such a position (the beach was abandoned, so this was more force of habit than anything) and set to work wringing out her hair. She stopped when she saw Shaka-Baka reverently place his board on a receding wave.

She walked up to him. "What are you doing?" she asked.

"A good board will only work for the beach it's built for. I'll make another one in Monterey." The mouse kept his eyes on the board slowly receding into the distance. "Besides, you said to pack light."

Luwai'ni shrugged. She had never heard anything about one-beach surfboards from any other surfer, so she figured it was just superstition on Shaka-Baka's part. This was no surprise, as Luwai'ni had observed (and learned to exploit) long ago the fact that everyone was superstitious. Luwai'ni prided herself that her own superstitions were completely different than those of anyone else she had ever met. She thought this meant that hers were the only ones to have a basis in fact.

Shaka-Baka turned back around to face her. For a moment, Luwai'ni thought he had caught her sarcastic gesture earlier, but instead he grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her around so that the setting sun was just behind her head. He stepped back in satisfaction and then got down on one knee.

"Luwai'ni," he said, producing a polished coral ring from the pocket of his bathing suit, "you're the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world. Will you marry me?"

The girl glanced ruefully back at the sun and sighed. "Will you stop doing that, please?" she said, pleadingly. "I can't marry you. I can't marry anybody, ever."

Shaka-Baka's lower lip trembled slightly, but he had promised that he wouldn't cry this time. "Why?" he asked.

Luwai'ni was surprised. He never got to "why" before. "I can't love, that's why," she explained, as nicely as she could. "Even you should have noticed that." Well, maybe she could be a little nicer than that. "The only person I've ever cared about is me. Call it faulty wiring, but most emotions just don't come naturally to me."

"I don't believe you."

Wow, he really is trying, isn't he? "No, it's true. I'm utterly heartless."

"What about your revenge on that mouse?"

"Gadget Hackwrench? I was just creeped out at the last minute because she looks just like me. How would you like throwing your double into a double-boiler?"

He gave her a skeptical look. She tried to stand up to the scrutiny, before turning away with a scowl.

"Oh, quit it!" she said, dismissively. "You're going to force me to pull out the heavy ammunition, aren't you?"

"I still love you, Luwai'ni," Shaka-Baka announced.

Luwai'ni gritted her teeth. "Alright, you asked for it!" she cried. "Stay here," she warned, before dashing over to her suitcase. She returned with an old folded piece of paper. "Sit!" she commanded as she fell into a crossed legs position, and he followed suit.

"As you might be able to suspect by the hair and fur color, I'm not a native. I was raised in the San Cristobel orphanage, going back as far as I can remember. I had always dreamed about escaping that place and the guy who ran it (he called himself The Boss, and he used us to con dumb rich folks) and then making a place for myself in the world, but first, I had to find out about my parents. I knew where the cabinet was with all the little secrets inside, and I knew the combination from when I was six. But I didn't think I could get in and out without getting caught. In, yes, but not out. So I waited until I was sure I could survive on my own before I finally did it.

"There was no record of my father. For my mother, there was only a death certificate and a photograph. She had no name, only 'Jane Doe,' and she had died at the mission where they keep the lepers and the mental patients. The photograph let me know which category she belonged to."

At this point she handed the photograph to Shaka-Baka. For a moment, she started to turn away, but then she decided that she wanted to see his reaction.

At first, there was no reaction, but that was soon replaced by confusion, as the mouse looked at the scene of several panicked humans at an airport. It took a few minutes to find the tiny figure of the mouse at the top of the picture, the most carefully preserved part of the photograph. The figure, Luwai'ni's mother, looked almost like an exact duplicate of her daughter as she looked now. Her hair was longer and disheveled, and she was wearing an unexpected outfit, a male pilot's uniform that didn't fit her very well, topped off with a pair of goggles resting on her forehead. She was hanging from a lighting fixture and shouting at the top of her lungs. Shaka-Baka even smiled a bit at the woman's appearance. Then it finally occurred to him to combine the mouse with the rest of the picture. His face now finally reflected the endpoint Luwai'ni was expecting, a mixture of shock, horror and fear.

"She, she tried to expose us, didn't she?" The accusation was whispered because it was unimaginable, the worst crime possible to any animal, to reveal their intelligence to a human.

"By all rights," Luwai'ni continued, "the world should have come to an end on that day. But I guess somebody must have got really lucky, because we're all still here living outside of cages.

"It was while I was looking at that picture that I was caught. I mean, I was glued to the spot for what felt like days, so of course I'd get caught. The Boss decided to punish me in the worst way imaginable: he took me to the mission to hear the story from Sister Katherine, the nun who took care of my mother before she died.

"It happened at the Honolulu airport. She was put into a rodent jail there until somebody could figure out what to do with her. They only knew three things: she had come over on a flight from San Francisco, she was alone and completely out of her mind, and every creature in Hawaii wanted to kill her.

"The guy in charge gladly gave her over to Sister Katherine when she offered to take the woman away someplace where nobody was going to find her. Apparently, no news of the outside world ever gets out to Kazookai, because I've never heard anyone talk about her until the day of my visit.

"Sister Katherine told me what was wrong with my mother. She called it skitzo..." Lawai'ni closed her eyes and tried to visualize the biggest word in her vocabulary. "Schizophrenia. It means that she was stuck inside her head, that she thought her nightmares were real life. And they were really bad nightmares, because she used to scream whenever she had strength enough to do so. She never talked, not after she left the airport. Sister Katherine said that my mother was in the early stages of pregnancy when she arrived, and she died giving birth to me. They never figured out who she was—the San Francisco police thought she might have been living at their airport for a few days, but had originally arrived on some other plane, so she could have come from anywhere in the world. Nobody ever came to look for her, but if she was dashing from one plane to another, maybe my father just lost her. Or maybe he has...schizophrenia...too, and he's locked up on some other island on the other side of the Earth.

"So, to finish up the story, The Boss made my life even worse than it was before, I made sure he went to jail for the sort of things he was forcing us orphans to do for him, and I escaped into the jungle. You found me, and here we are."

Shaka-Baka sat there for a few minutes, and then scratched his head. "So why can't I marry you again?"

Luwai'ni screamed in frustration. "Because I'm her, Shaka-Baka!"

"No you're not."

"Look at the picture! I look just like her."

"But you're not her."

Luwai'ni put her face in her hands. "Let me try to explain this," she said, looking up at him. "Schizophrenics don't start out that way. Something happens to them, and slowly but surely they lose the ability to tell what's real and what's not. My mother was sane enough to live by herself in a San Francisco airport, and unable to speak by the time she got to this island. That's what's going to happen to me."

"You don't know that. I've heard of people like that who had normal children."

"But I'm not normal! I do bad things to people, and I don't feel sorry. I tried to destroy the village that had taken me in and given me a better life than I could possibly have expected. And what about what I did to that Gadget? She could have been the one link to my family, and I tried to kill her and her friends three different times."

"Well, you were under a lot of stress."


"And even if you are becoming like your mother, I don't care. I still want to be with you, Lawai'ni. You're the only person who ever cared about me, and I care about you. No illness is going to get in the way of that."

The girl was moved by this pledge, perhaps for only the second time in her life. She turned around and looked at the boat, which had arrived half an hour ago and was now boarding passengers. She turned around to see Shaka-Baka holding out his hand with the ring on it. "So?" he asked. "Will you marry me or not?"

She took the ring and put it in the suitcase along with the photograph. "I'll think about it on the trip. You know we won't be able to have children?"

"That's OK. I probably wouldn't be a very good parent. I'd probably lose them."

Luwai'ni laughed out loud. "I think I'd be a much worse parent than you."

"We could always adopt."

"Will you get on that boat?!"


[The following is all that is known to exist of Ethan and the End of the World, the sequel to The Rescue Rangers in The Ultimate Battle. Attempts to contact or identify the author have proved unsuccessful.]

August 15th, 2012

The tree had seen better days.

Once, it had stood as a towering symbol of justice in a corrupt world. The chosen heroes of the city, the mighty Rescue Rangers, called this oak tree in a city park their home, and from there they patrolled the city and made it safe for decent folk to dwell in.

Those times are gone now. Evil has reared its ugly head, in an unholy alliance between the vile Rat Capone and the demonic seductress Luwhinie. The two had nearly succeeded in destroying the valiant Rangers when they were assisted by an unlikely ally, the beyond-genius Ethan. Ethan, once a sullen teenager with a dead-end life, who had become the accidental victim of Pr. Nimnul's gigantico gun. The gun had shorted in an electrical storm at that moment, wiping the young man's memory and allowing him to retain the strength of a full-sized human in a mouse-sized body. Dramatically turning against those who had transformed and enslaved him, Ethan led a rebellion of his fellow slaves that liberated the city. The young hero was adopted by what was left of the Rescue Rangers.

A year has past since that epic adventure, and Ethan's birthday was today (not knowing his true birthday, Gadget had given him the birthday of the fallen Lawhiney, for mystical reasons even she did not understand). Ethan allowed himself to sleep in an extra hour on his special day. Then he cranked up the stereo he had built from tree bark and a pop top to his theme song:

Where I come from isn't all that great
My automobile is a piece of ****
My fashion sense is a little whack
And my friends are just as screwy as me

I didn't go to boarding schools
Preppy girls never looked at me
Why should they, I ain't nobody
Got nothing in my pocket

Beverly Hills - That's where I want to be! (gimme gimme, )
Living in Beverly Hills...
Beverly Hills - Rolling like a celebrity! (gimme gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills...

Look at all those movie stars
They're all so beautiful and clean
When the housemaids scrub the floors
They get the spaces in between

I wanna live a life like that
I wanna be just like a king
Take my picture by the pool
Cause I'm the next big thing in

Beverly Hills - That's where I want to be! (gimme gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills...
Beverly Hills - Rolling like a celebrity! (gimme gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills...

The truth is...I don't stand a chance
It's something that you're born into...
And I just don't belong...

No I don't - I'm just a no class, beat down fool
And I will always be that way
I might as well enjoy my life
And watch the stars play

Beverly Hills - That's where I want to be! (gimme gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills...
Beverly Hills - Rolling like a celebrity! (gimme gimme,)
Living in Beverly Hills...

Beverly hills,Beverly hills,(yeah)
Beverly hills,Beverly hills,(gimme gimme)
Living in Beverly hills

When he got up, he was surprised to discover that Gadget was not in Ranger headquarters. Using his excellent tracking skills, he tracked her to the nearby junkyard. Gadget was not collecting parts for her next invention, but instead was placing flowers at the grave of her sister, Lawiny. Ethan could not understand this gesture—so many had suffered and died at her hands. He wanted to confront Gadget about this, but he was stopped by Monterey Jack.

"See here," said Monterey. "Leave the sheela to her grief." "Why should I?" responded the indignant mini-human. "She's evil." "You've got a good point there, Ethan," Monterey said, stroking his chin, because Ethan was always right about everything. "But don't forget that Louwhiney is her sister. Imagine what she could have become if she had been raised a Hackwrench instead of a Hawaiian street rat."

Ethan was intrigued. He had heard nothing of his enemy's past. "What happened, Monterey? How did she end up in Hawaii?"

The burly mouse turned roughly on him. "See here, squirt. Let's not go nosing into other people's business. It's not like my actions on April 18, 1968 are anything to be ashamed of."

"What was that?"

"Oh, look. Gadget's coming. She'll probably have a nervous breakdown or something if she sees us arguing, so shut up."

Ethan didn't know that much about female psychology, so he deferred to his elder for once.

"Hello, Monterey, Ethan." Hearts appeared above her head as she spoke the name of her true beloved. "What are you doing in the junkyard this late? It's nearly sunset."

"Well, I just got up, so I thought I'd get in some exercise before..."

"Wait, that's right, it's YOUR BIRTHDAY!" Gadget grabbed Monterey by the arm and yanked him in the direction of Ranger HQ. "You stay out here for a while and do your exercises, Ethan. We'll be ready in a half-hour of so." The two made for the Ranger Skate and flew off to the nearest undestoryed mall.

Ethan pondered his conversation with Monterey Jack. that mouse was hding something, and Ethan didn't like secrets. Searching around the junkpile a bit, he found Gadget's crystal ball device. Gadget had discarded the machine after defeating Lawiny and Rat Capone, claiming that she had no right to spy on the actions of others. Rather convenient to come to this conclusion after you had used the thing to save the city, thought Ethan. He decided to see if he could figure out how it worked.

That took about twenty seconds.

Ethan noticed that the nobs that controlled the viewers positions in three dimentions surrounded a central area just the right size for another knob. He easily ripped one out of a nearby TV set and plunged it into the middle. Walla! By controlling the fourth dimension, Ethan had created the world's first time viewer. I told you he was a super genius. He used the device to find the large airplane Gadget had told him she was raised in. For the date, he worked his way back to April 18, 1968.

He saw the baby Gadget, asleep in a crib. In the next room, her father and mother were having a violent argument. Suddenlly, the mother picked up a lamp and smashed it over the father's head, knocking him out. She went into a back room for a few minutes and emerged with a suitcase and, for a reason Ethan didn't know, dressed just like the father. She then ran out into the night.

Ethan used the time viewer to follow the woman to the nearby airport. She crossed the commercial part of the terminal at full speed, regardless of how many humans she might have panicked. She then exited through the side door and went out to the smaller private airport, boarding a plane headed for San Francisco.

Ethan then rewound time to when Monterey Jack came upon the unconscious form of Gadget's father. The father was badly hurt, and someone needed to keep an eye on baby Gadget, so Monterey left the hanger by himself in search of the runaway mouse. He tracked her to the airport, but the multitude of humans made it impossible to track her any further. He proceeded to make a list of flights that she could have used. He eventually concluded that a plane headed for east Africa was the most-likely plane, and prepared a note for Gadget's father. This whole time, his chance to catch up with the mouse was running out. This was more than I could take.

"THE PRIVATE AIRPORT!" Ethan screamed. Monty suddenly looked up, then scampered in the direction Gadget's mother had fled in.

Ethan was stunned. Gadget had never told him that the device could transmit sounds from the viewer's world to the people being viewed. Maybe he had accidentally added the ability through his modification. "What have I done?" he whispered.

History had been changed. The effects of that change would ripple forward, impacting everyone with no exception, and that included those responsible for the change as well. Ethan tried to improvise some sort of barrier to protect him from being changed, or possibly eliminated, from history. But before he knew it,


August 15th, 1988-A

The aircraft had seen better days.

Once, the bomber had seen service over Tunisia and West Germany during World War II and the years immediately following. But it had been phased out of military service along with the other planes of the era, and went into freight shipping instead.

Somewhere around 1962, a green pilot had crashed the plane trying to land it on the city's private airfield. The pilot had lived to improve his skills on newer aircraft, but the former bomber was finished, its propellers twisted and wings broken. It had been towed to an adjacent abandoned field that was already full of similarly damaged aircraft and left to rust. There were some hopes of selling it to a museum or an eccentric (and rich) collector, but the fad was for jet planes, so there it lay.

It did not remain abandoned long. A pilot mouse and his new bride found the craft and made it into a home for their growing family.

Now those happy days, too, were far in the past.

At the top of the plane, where the gun turret once was, there was a small chamber that would make a good room for a mouse. One side of the room looked down on the cockpit of the plane. A slide made from flexible tubing had been installed to allow the inhabitants a way of going back and forth in that direction. The other side of the room was curtained, to keep the elements out. Beyond that curtain was the airplane's wing, and by walking along that and some scaffolding along the side of the plane, you reached the exposed engine. In mouse scale the engine was an easily scalable ladder that led down to the wheel well. In days long past, the cockpit with its glass canopy was the Hackwrench family's living room, dining room, kitchen, garage and workshop all in one, while the wheel well was the communal bedroom. Now they were two separate kingdoms, and the former gun turret was No Man's Land.

Gadget had worked the hardest to ensure no visitors entered her kingdom. A nearly-invisible laser had been embedded in a crevice to the left of the tube-slide entrance. Positioned opposite it in an alcove was a hall mirror for the laser to reflect off of. If the laser beam was interrupted, a brick would swing down from the left, blocking the entrance and forcing whoever triggered the trap to be shoved into the alcove, from which the only exit was back into the engine room. It was a very dangerous trap, revealing the desperation of its builder. Furthermore, the trap did not reset itself, so Gadget had to climb up the tube and move the brick back herself whenever her sister set it off. Gadget did this at night, as the whole point of the exercise was to avoid all contact with other living things.

Laurel had resolved to break this impasse by setting off the trap and waiting in the engine room until Gadget arrived. Her plan did not go as planned.

Laurel Hackwrench awoke sprawled on the ground. Her left ear was aching from the wind that was blowing into it—Gadget had installed a fan in the facing wall triggered by a floor plate. The purpose of the fan was to muss Laurel's hair so she would want to use the mirror in the alcove. It was taking advantage of her vanity like that that had convinced Laurel that this particular trap was meant just for her.

The mouse tried to get up, but was felled by a tremendous headache. She soon guessed at the cause.

"She gassed me!" she proclaimed in amazement. "I can't believe she gassed me!"

It took several minutes for the aftereffects of the knockout gas to wear off, during which time she tried to make out the identity of several objects she discovered next to her head.

When she finally got up, she discovered two neatly wrapped presents and a card made from blueprint paper. On the front of the card was the inscription "Happy Birthday, Laurel!"

The first present was a large red flower. This was quite a surprise to Laurel, as she didn't think that Gadget ever went outside. Careful examination showed that it was an artificial flower. Laurel put it behind her ear.

The other present was an ornamental silver comb with a crude "L" carved into the top. It wasn't strictly a new present, as she had worn this in her childhood, but that fact certainly did not reduce the value of the gift to her. She slowly ran her finger over the monogram with tears welling up in her eyes as she remembered her father engraving it for her.

Finally she turned to the card, smiling at the scene of meadows and balloons drawn on the cover using drafting instruments. However, as soon as she glimpsed the signature inside her joy turned to fury. The card was immediately ripped to shreds, and Lauren jumped up and down on the remains a few times for good measure.

Doing this dislodged a small object from Laurel's dress that fell to the ground. She bent down and picked it up, a mouse-sized compact. She opened it up, and discovered that the mirror had been removed. This gave her an idea.

Meanwhile, three rodents and an insect were making their way towards the aviation junkyard from the direction of the airport tarmac.

Emerging first from a clump of grass was a large mouse wearing a blue turtleneck sweater and a tan overcoat. An old pilot's helmet was perched atop his head. A bushy red mustache was his most distinguishing characteristic.

Sitting on the mouse's shoulder was a green housefly wearing a red turtleneck.

Following the mouse were two chipmunks. The lead wore an outfit reminiscent of a certain famed adventurer of the silver screen, while the other sported a Hawaiian shirt and buckteeth.

"Just what did you think you were doing back there?" the middle rodent asked the mouse. The trailing chipmunk shared his look of confusion.

The mouse shrugged. "Aw, nothing to worry about. Sometimes I sort of have these...cheese attacks is all."

The chipmunks said nothing in response to this. The fly evidently knew the mouse better than the chipmunks, because he flew up in the mouse's face and pointed an accusing finger at him. The insect then squeaked out what appeared to be the word "Sometimes?"

The mouse prevaricated. "Well, most times, I guess."

Even this was apparently not the whole truth, and the fly squeaked out its disappointment.

The mouse sighed in defeat. "Eh...alright, all the time." He turned to explain to the chipmunks. "I just can't help myself. When there's a hint of cheddar in the air, something inside me snaps."

"Yeah, his brain," the first chipmunk confided in the second. In a louder tone, he announced, "And this is the guy we're counting on to get us to Glacier Bay."

The mouse corrected him. "Oh, not me, Chipper. I'm taking you to an old pal of mine. That's his place over there." And he pointed at the most-damaged of the broken planes. "Geegaw Hackwrench," he announced, "the greatest pilot in aviation history."

The chipmunks moved forward to get a look, joined by the fly. The chipmunk in the Hawaiian shirt noticed a ring of rodent-sized signs posted completely around the large plane. He raced on all fours to the nearest one, followed by the others.

"'NO TRESPASSING. VIOLATORS WILL BE PERSECUTED,'" he read. He did a double-take and re-read it to himself to be sure he had it right.

He went to the next sign. "'PRIVATE PROPERTY.'"

"'NO SOLICITATION!'" was on the next one. He sounded the last word out to himself a few times until he figured out what it meant. "Oh! No salesmen."

"'UNTERHALT HERAUS'. What's this one mean, Chip?"

The chipmunk in the bomber jacket and the hat took a look. "I don't know, Dale. It's German, I think."

"That's 'KEEP OUT'," the mouse volunteered.

"Thanks, Monty," said Dale. He walked quickly around looking at the signs, reading out loud the ones that he liked.


"NO soliciting, loitering or loud music. IN FACT, you shouldn't even be reading this sign!"





Dale wisely skipped the next sign and read the one after that.


He stopped at the last sign. Chip, who had been standing and watching Dale in exasperation, peaked over his shoulder when he failed to read this one out loud. He pushed forward to take a closer look when he failed to identify the flowing script. "Monterey," he asked, "do you know what this says?"

Monterey walked back from the plane to the sign and took a look. "I'm afraid that one has me stumped, lads."

"I know what it says," Dale proclaimed with pride.

Chip smirked. "Oh, yeah?"

"Sure! It's in the secret language of vacuum cleaner salesmen. It says 'Unworthy of our august assistance.'"

Chip's eyes boggled. "The secret language of vacuum cleaner salesmen?! How did you learn that?"

"Well I could tell you," Dale confided with a wicked grin, "but only after the initiation."

Chip sighed. "Forget it." He turned to Monterey. "So, are we going to be welcome here?"

The mouse briefly removed his headgear and scratched his head. "I don't get it. Geegaw loved visitors, and he always got along great with salesmen. I wonder what changed him?" He saw the look of growing skepticism in Chip's face. "Now look here, Geegaw and I are best pals! He's sure to help us out, and believe me, this is definitely the guy we want for the job. Why, he can set a plane's nose down on a polar bear's nose in the middle of a blizzard."

This caught Dale's attention. "Wowee! He's that good?"

Monterey grinned. "You can bet your tailwind on that, Dale. He's got more flying time than a whole herd of geese." He strode to the nearest landing gear, the others in tow. Just as he started to climb up the wheel, he was struck in the chest by a toy plunger and fell to the ground.

"CAN'T YOU READ?!" screamed a female voice from inside the plane.

"Monterey!" cried the fly, who pulled on one end of the mouse's mustache until he woke him.

The chipmunks ran forward and looked up in wonder at the dark inside of the plane where the voice originated.

"Thanks, Zipper," Monterey said to the fly before snapping the plunger off his chest in anger and looking up into the darkness. "Now who's gone and stolen Geegaw Hackwrench's home?!"

"TAKE THAT BACK!" cried the voice, as Monterey was felled by a second plunger.

The mouse jumped right back up again. "What have you done with Geegaw Hackwrench?!"

There was an audible sob from the darkness. "He's...he's in a far better place," the voice finally announced.

"When's he coming back?" asked Dale. Chip elbowed him in response.

Monterey shook his head in shock. "I don't believe it." He let a few moments pass in silence before looking up again. "I was really hoping to see him. I was an old friend of his. Monterey Jack's the name..."

At the sound of his name, a mouse rushed out of the darkness and into Monterey's arms. She wore a sort of improvised sarong of blue cloth and had a bright red flower and a silver comb sticking out of the black flight goggles atop her long blonde hair.

Monterey grew nervous under the chipmunks' curious gazes. " we..."

The young mouse stepped back. "Don't you recognize me?" she asked. "It's Laurel!"

Monty scratched his head, as Zipper flew in close to the young woman for a better look. "Laurel...Laurel..." Monty pondered under his breath.

"You didn't get my letter, did you? I used to be Luwai'ni." She said the name with obvious distaste.

"You're Luwai'ni? Why, the last time I saw you, you were knee-high to a knee!"

Laurel turned in annoyance. "Yeah, well I've changed since then." She then noticed the chipmunks, and put on her most-sultry look. "So, who're your friends?"

This was their first good luck at the gorgeous mouse, and the two were struck speechless. Dale did manage to get out a "Da...da...da...", but that was about it.

Monterey chuckled. "That there's Chip and Dale, detectives. I'm helping them on a case."

"Really?" Laurel purred. "Is there any way I can help?" The chipmunks were practically putty in her hands at this point.

"Well," Monterey answered. "It would be great if we could borrow the Screaming Eagle."

With those words, Laurel suddenly spun to face her questioner in shock. Behind her, the chipmunks crashed into a heap. "The Screaming Eagle? I'm afraid that's in Gadget's part of the plane."

"Gadget?" asked Chip.

"What kinda gadget?" asked Dale.

"She's my sister," replied Laurel.

"She's got a sister?" Dale replied in a dreamy voice.

"That's great!" Monterey rubbed his hands together in anticipation. "We'll get together and swap stories, just like old times!"

"Um, I'm not sure that's a very good idea. You see, Gadget hasn't been herself lately."

"My little Gadget's sick?"

Laurel got a strange look in her eye. "You better follow me." She climbed up the landing gear, followed by the others. Once they had climbed onto the floor of the plane, Laurel picked up a full-length mirror and handed it to Monty. "Here," she explained. "We'll be needing this."

The group slowly made its way towards the front of the plane. Dale's neck was craning in all directions so he could take it all in. "Wowie-zowie, living in a plane! It must be fun, isn't it?"

Laurel turned around from her lead position and nodded. "It was...once."

Chip took the opportunity to step up beside her. "So, Laurel, were you born in Hawaii?"

The mouse looked at him. "Yes, but it was just where my parents happened to be at the time. I have no memories of the place." She appeared about to say something more, but thought better of it. She looked briefly up the side of the engine they had reached, before starting to climb it.

"So that's why you changed your name," suggested Chip, as he caught up with her.

"Yeah. I got tired of all the other kids asking me about that place because of my name. Dad helped me pick out a new one."

At this point Monterey reached the bottom of the engine with the cumbersome mirror on his back, and looked up in exasperation. "How much longer do I hafta lug this thing, anyway?"

"Oh, just up here," Laurel replied down to him. "There's the scaffolding, and the wing, which is kinda slippery, but we're very nearly there."

"All I got to say is there'd better be a good explanation for this here mirror," Monty confided in Zipper. The fly nodded and then zipped straight over the wing and through the curtains to join Chip and Laurel. The mouse had gotten about halfway up when Dale reached the engine and decided to climb it as fast as he could and as close to Monterey as possible. "Watch it!" Monty cried, barely keeping hold of the mirror. "That's seven years bad luck you're playing with!"

Finally, he joined the others in the turret room. Chip was holding his hat on so it wouldn't be blown off by the fan set in the wall, while Dale was playing the old mime stunt of walking into the wind (either that, or he had seen Moonwalk Jackson's "Jeanie Bill" music video). Some shreds of blue paper were swirling around in a miniature tornado. Laurel, kneeling down at the end of the room past the area affected by the fan, looked into the entrance of a tube slide that led down and out. She picked up some dust off the floor and blew it, revealing a laser stretching in front of her.

Monterey came forward. "What kind of doohickey is that?" he asked.

"It's a laser tripwire," Dale volunteered. "Standard issue deathtrap for Dirk Suave, Super Spy!"

"Did Gadget build this?" Chip asked, incredulously.

"There's no way that can be true," stated Monterey Jack. "Not Gadget."

"Yeah, well she changed, too," retorted Laurel. She turned to Dale with a sly grin. "Speaking of Dirk Suave, I'm about to borrow another page from his playbook." She took the mirror from Monterey, stood it up, angled it just right, and then very quickly shoved it into position to the left of the tube slide entrance and just as quickly stepped back out of the way.

Sure enough, the mirror deflected the laser beam so they could enter the tube.

Chip looked worried. "Uh, just what would have happened if what you just did didn't work?"

Laurel answered by pointing to the brick poised overhead. She then turned to the facing side of the full-length mirror and, true to form, rearranged her hair and dress until she looked perfect again. Turning to look at the slide, she realized what it would inevitably do to her appearance and sighed. She then took the wall mirror off of its hook and slid it down the tube, leaning around the side to watch it emerge at the bottom.

"Well, I think the slide's safe. Who's first?"

Dale proceeded to perform a diving cannonball into the slide entrance. Chip walked up next, then turned and faced Laurel. "This trap was meant for you, right?"

Laurel nodded.

He then turned to Monterey. "Is there any reason she'd set a trap for you?"

Monterey was indignant. "A trap for me? I still don't believe what Laurel here's sayin' about Gadget making this trap. Sure, you two girls liked to fight a lot, and frankly, Laurel, it was usually you picking on her, but I refuse to believe that that girl could just snap. Besides, I'm her favorite uncle—she told me that herself the last time I saw her."

Laurel leaned forward, a dark smile on her lips. "Did you get around to apologizing for Zanzibar the last time you saw her?" Seeing the desired shocked reaction on Monty's face, she swung around and down the tube before anyone could react. Monterey quietly followed her.

Chip turned to Zipper. "Zanzibar?" he asked.

Zipper shrugged in incomprehension and shot down the tube. Chip followed with reluctance.

Chip emerged into a dim passage. He saw Laurel put the wall mirror down after using it to help brush up her appearance once again, and quickly caught up with her. "You care to tell us what we're heading for, before we get there?" he asked.

"No idea, Chip. I was never able to get past this mirror, remember?"

"Well, what happened between you two?"

Laurel stopped. "I don't really know. Gadget was fine, at first. She handled the...accident...a lot better than I did. We were both in shock; it's just that she never pulled out of it. A few months passed, and I began to hope that she'd get better and face reality, when a pushy vacuum cleaner salesman barged in and demanded to talk to Dad. He blurted out the wrong thing and..." A horrified look came over Laurel as she remembered that night. "The salesman and I barely escaped. The next day, the trap was in place.

"That was eight months ago. Since then, I've darted out, when I dared, to try and find somebody to help, but nobody who knew Gadget would believe me. The strangers I got to help me would always end up running away, so eventually I just put up those signs before somebody got hurt. I sent out letters to every one of Monty's haunts I knew of, and tried to think of something while I waited. I only thought of that mirror trick this morning."

Dale meanwhile was circling around Monterey like an excited puppy. "What was that Chip and Laurel were asking you about earlier, Monty?"

"Don't give it another thought, bucko," assured Monterey. "I'm sure my little Gadget has forgotten all about the cheese bread." Just at that moment he stepped on a tripwire, causing a plunger cannon to fire. Chip, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, was struck in the face by a plunger and flew out of sight.

Monterey looked down guiltily. "Then again..."

Chip wandered blindly into view. Dale rushed over to him. "Hang on, Chip! I'll get you out!" With a loud "pop!" the plunger was removed.

Laurel bent down and picked it up. "She just doesn't want company, I guess."

"You can say that again," Dale replied soon after emerging into the cockpit. "Look!"

"Crikey!" exclaimed Monterey.

"When did she find time to build all this?" Laurel asked in amazement.

The room had been converted into a battlefield. A full array of weaponry jutted out of the walls on either side. At the near end were dozens of plunger guns, but if you were foolish enough to continue past those you were left to face hammers, falling axes, harpoon guns and finally the muzzles of fully automatic machine guns. Hanging above the floor poised to drop at a moment's notice were an iron, a cannonball, a scimitar and most massive of all, a bank safe. The floor was covered with a tarp. Anyone who had ever watched a World War II movie could identify the land mines under it. Much more common were pressure-sensitive switches, each of which was wired to a weapon or weight.

On the other side of this pit of peril was the intact canopy of the plane. Multiple panes of glass let the late morning sunshine in, illuminating the raised platform that the plane's instruments rested on. There was no sign of motion to be seen, no evidence that Gadget was lurking somewhere, watching everything they were doing.

Monterey whistled. "One wrong step," he warned, "and you'll trigger a veritable cornucopia of death and destruction."

Chip took charge. "This is going to be tricky. Now follow me, and step very, very carefully."

Laurel stepped in front of him and held him back with her hand. "One thing before we start," she warned the group, "and this is really important. Whatever you do, don't mention Dad in front of Gadget. OK?" Everyone nodded.

The group walked single-file on the tarp, staying to the flat parts, with Chip in front and Monterey Jack taking up the rear. Zipper hovered next to them, looking down. After awhile he decided to scout around.

A second later, Chip heard the fly cry out the syllables "Uh-oh!" His collar was grabbed by the insect and Zipper pointed as he squeaked, "Look!"

Chip looked. Smack dab in the center of the instrument platform was another pressure-sensitive switch, and on top of that was a smelly hunk of cheese. He dashed past Laurel and Dale to Monterey. "Ah, Monty!" he cried. "I think we should go back and leave, OK?"

"Leave?" the mouse asked. "Why? We're already halfway the...cheeeeeeezzzzze!"

Monty's eyes went wide and swirly, and his mustache frizzed out in all directions. He floated a few millimeters off of the floor for an instant.

Chip and Dale braced themselves in front of Monty. "Don't let him go!" cried Chip. Laurel stared back at them for a moment before she remembered Monty's weakness for cheese, then suddenly turned and started running towards the canopy as fast as she could go.

Monterey pressed forward, inexorably. The chipmunks slid back slowly, until their feet ran over a switch. Suddenly, the air was full of plungers and the occasional light bulb. Distracted, the chipmunks lessened their resistance, and Monty began to gain speed. The axe dropped down just short of his tail, followed by a portable radio. As the shadow of the falling safe spread out around them, Monterey suddenly grabbed one chipmunk under each arm and barreled off full-steam towards the cheese. Laurel took a peek over her shoulder, and seeing the mesmerized mouse gaining on her like a locomotive, eeped in alarm and tried her best to get to the base of the platform before she was run over.

The entire arsenal was now in the air around them. Plungers, knives, bullets, even gouts of orange flame. Monterey dodged everything, and Laurel seemed to push them back with the volume of her scream. She clambered up the front of the platform, Monterey right behind her. She tried to keep climbing after she reached the top, and ended up wrapped around Monty's head, looking around in all directions for him but not seeing him. Monty dropped the chipmunks into a heap and shook Laurel on top of them, just as a full-sized plunger dropped on top of all of them. With no effort, the crazed mouse threw off the plumber's helper. "Cheese!" he cried out in triumph. In an instant he reached the cheese, tore it off and practically inhaled it. The button it was resting on slowly lowered, and a weighted net fell on them.

Monterey sucked on his fingers, totally unaware of his surroundings. "Hm. Nice of Gadget to leave us an appetizer."

Chip was disgusted. Dale was disappointed. Laurel was devastated. They were all shocked to hear a mechanical sound behind them. From a microwave emerged a machine made up of two small colanders, with small rubber wheels on stilts for a walking sort of locomotion. It had flapping wings, a fondue fork, a knife, a corkscrew, and a spatula all attached at odd angles. There was a closed access hatch in the lower front side of the contraption, and a narrow viewing window where the colanders came together.

Chip pointed at it. "That's not all she left!"

An eternity seemed to pass as the group faced down the dread machine. Faint voices could be heard from within, and Laurel started in horror and recognition.

Monterey Jack stood up, attempting to attract the machine's attention by waving his arms. "Don't do it, Gadget!" he cried.

Undeterred, the machine reached out with the fondue fork and clamped the mammals by the throats, lifting them high into the air. Zipper hovered above the net, unable to do anything.

"Is this how she treats her favorite uncle?" Chip said in exasperation.

Monterey, choking, tried one last appeal. "Wait, it's me, Monterey Jack!"

For a moment, the world was still. Then, violent cries could be heard from within the machine. The fork was suddenly withdrawn, and the captives fell. The four of them landed on the spatula, which flipped them up into the air. The knife then flew forward, cutting the net in half right between the chipmunks and the mice. Weighted down, it fell to the ground, the others landing on top of it. Zipper dived down to see what he could do.

The chipmunks were reeling from the experience, and not certain what would happen next. Monterey and Laurel were cowering, for completely different reasons. "Gadget," Monterey begged the machine, "I'm sorry about Zanzibar!"

"Monterey!" a voice rang out from the interior of the machine.

The hatch in the machine twisted and dropped, revealing an interior lit so brightly it glowed. Descending from this light like an angel from heaven emerged a mouse nearly identical to Laurel. She was wearing purple coveralls and a tennis ball helmet that protected her head but did nothing to restrain her ears or hair.

"Golly!" cried the mouse. "Have I ever missed you!" She ran up to Monterey and hugged him like a small child would hug her favorite uncle.

"That's Gadget?" asked Chip and Dale in shock. From the name and their experience so far, they were expecting a creature half-mouse, half-robot.

"Oh, Gadget," Monterey said, returning the hug. "I'm sorry it's been so long."

She pushed away from him. "Yes, it has been awhile," she observed. "I suppose I've grown up some since the last time you've seen me." At this moment she turned to look at the chipmunks, and they fell into a completely different spell than Laurel's.

"And how!" agreed Chip and Dale. They looked at her dreamily as she approached, hand outstretched.

"Hi, there," she greeted them. "I'm Gadget."

The munks smiled and put their hands forward, but Gadget had withdrawn hers when she perceived a problem with the protocol.

"Oh, you know that already," she told herself. "Hm, what comes next...." Chip and Dale put their hands down in confusion.

"Oh! What's your name?" Getting back on track, she extended her hand again.

Chip reacted first. "Uh, I'm Chip!" he declared, shaking her hand.

He got about a second of this before Dale shoved him out of the way and took over the handshake without interruption. "And I'm Dale!"

Chip crashed into Laurel, and they both went down, with Chip ending up in Laurel's lap. He showed no acknowledgement of where he was, instead gazing at Gadget. Laurel frowned. "Oh don't mind me," she stated dryly before standing him back up next to Dale.

Gadget on the other hand did not appear to notice that she changed chipmunks in mid-shake. "Pleased to meet you!" she exclaimed according to formula. "Say," she asked innocently, "you're not salesmen, are you?"

"NO!" everyone but Dale exclaimed in horror. "I let my membership lapse years ago!" was his excuse, but luckily for him, Gadget didn't hear it.

"Oh, good," replied Gadget. "That's why I built all those traps."

Monterey sagged in disappointment, as he was hoping she would reveal the existence of some kind of mad bomber in residence to absolve her of association with the valley of death below them. "I guess young Gadget's elevator doesn't go to the top floor," he admitted to Zipper.

Amazingly to Laurel, Chip and Dale were happy about this revelation. "You made all this stuff?" Chip asked her in awe.

Gadget bent down to retrieve a plastic cap with a metal screw attached to it that had rolled out of the machine. "Oh, sure," she confirmed. "See, I've got this mind-bashingly high IQ, and I get bored easily, so I invent all sorts of things out of spare parts." While saying this, she had given the cap a little twist, and it went flying out of her hands as a self-propelled flying machine. "Want to see my sprocket collection?"

Monterey and Zipper stuck their heads in the machine, trying to get a better look. Laurel pulled them out, shaking her head.

"No, that's alright, Gadget," Monterey said, answering Gadget's question. "We heard about your dad, and..." In absolute horror, Laurel climbed up Monterey and put her hands over his mouth, but not before he had brought up the forbidden subject.

"Yeah," said Dale, compounding the problem. "Do you know when he's coming back?" That got him a bonk on the head from Chip.

Gadget turned serious, but thankfully, not terrifying. "He's not coming back," she said. She turned to a nearby mouse-sized desk and picked up a small portrait. It showed an aviator mouse in full figure, with one eye winking and giving the camera a thumbs-up gesture. "We lost him...over a year ago." Laurel sighed in relief at these words, and at the sight of tears welling up in Gadget's eyes.

"Sorry, Gadget," apologized Monterey once again. "Old Geegaw was one of the best. He'll be missed."

Gadget hugged the portrait. "He already is." She then jerked her head up. "Oh, excuse me," she said, switching moods like the flip of a switch. "You're all standing. Here, let me make you a chair." She them proceeded to do just that from various odds and ends located on the desk.

"That's OK, Gadget-luv," Monterey protested. "Don't go to the trouble!"

"Oh, no trouble. It will only take a second." She started cannibalizing the table to complete the chair.

Chip took a look around him. It appeared that they had seen every navigable part of the plane. "I guess with all of your building and rebuilding, there isn't a Screaming Eagle anymore to take us to Glacier Bay."

Monty signed. "And here I was hoping to fly it."

Gadget turned to them with a grin. "Oh, Dad's plane is still here." She put down her tools and ran to a mechanical winch. "Well, actually, it's up there." Pressing a button, she caused a perfect mouse-sized plane to descend from the heights far above even a bank safe can reach.

"Wow!" cried the chipmunks.

Gadget launched unknowingly into the sales spiel of the mouse who had sold the plane to her father. "This is an experimental model from the Ultraflight Laboratories. Originally designed by..."

"The Screamin' Eagle!" Monterey interrupted. "Coo, what a sight!" He and Dale quickly made their way past the wheels (which, in what was becoming a predictable touch, were made from toy suction cups mounted sideways) and onto the wing. "Oh, I remember the times me and Geegaw had in this joey," he reminisced. "Solid as an armadillo's backside."

Everyone in the room shuddered for no discernable reason.

"Oh," said Gadget, "that reminds me. Dad said he wanted you to have it."

"Honest?" replied Monterey in shock.

Dale meanwhile had run up to the twin plunger cannons on the wing. "Zowie! Guns and everything!"

Chip dropped into the front passenger seat. "Now we'll get to Glacier Bay in no time!" he declared, the first thing to go right all day for him.

Monterey popped into the pilot's seat, Zipper hovering over him.

After watching him for a few seconds, Chip asked, "Ah, you do know how to fly, don't you?"

Monterey lowered his flight goggles. "Not precisely. But I went up enough times with Geegaw to get the hang of it." He started punching at buttons, until suddenly his seat sprang into the air, launching him. Zipper watched his friend's trajectory until its sudden end then flew over to help. Monty's feet were visible sticking out of the remains of what appeared to be the bomber's gutted radio. From his position, Monty admitted, "Um, maybe I could use a refresher course." Zipper sighed in response.

Gadget and Laurel went over to help Monterey out. "Oh, I forgot to mention," volunteered Gadget. "I made a few modifications."

"'Modifications'?" asked Monterey as he was being helped out.

"Don't you just love ejector seats?" Gadget explained.

Chip sighed. He should have known even this day had still been too easy. "Now how are we going to fly the plane?" he asked.

"Well," interjected Laurel, "I could do it."

"Really?" asked Dale. "Won't you miss living in this great plane?"

"That depends," replied Laurel in a sarcastic tone. "Where is Glacier Bay, anyway?"

"Far, far away," Chip answered.

"Oh, then I'm definitely going."

Gadget took this moment to speak up. "Oh, well, it was nice to see you again, Laurel. I hope you don't have any hard feelings about the..."

"They were great presents, Gadget," said Laurel, changing the subject. "Now, if I'm going to fly this plane, I'm going to need a good mechanic who knows how it works, inside and out..."

"Hey, pick me, pick me!" And yes, Gadget was jumping up and down with her hand in their air when she said that.

"OK, you're in. Your first job is to expand the passenger compartment to fit five and one fly."

"Right on it, Captain Laurel," Gadget replied, springing to attention and saluting her younger sister.

A few minutes later, the Screaming Eagle was sitting on a curved ramp that ended at a pane of a glass. Sitting on the small plane's tail were seven bound very full-sized sticks of dynamite, their fuses tied together. A flame was burning at the very end of that combined fuse, and making its way swiftly to the sticks.

"Now," explained Gadget, "in twenty seconds, the dynamite will go off and launch us right off this ramp!"

She was seated in a single-person seat she had added to the back of the passenger compartment. Seated in front of her were Monterey and Dale. Monterey was leaning forward to look over Chip's shoulder to see what's going on, while Laurel was in the pilot's seat, her confidence from earlier now almost completely replaced by panic. Zipper appeared to be in multiple locations at once trying to take everything in. He was also very aware of the fact that the windows were rolled up.

Chip made an important observation about Gadget's flight plan: "Um, through the skylight?"

"The skylight?" Gadget repeated blankly. "Oh, silly me. I forgot to open it!"

"What?!" cried Monterey.

"Now which one of those is the right switch?" she asked herself, gesturing at the bank of them in front of Laurel.

Laurel lifted her goggles and looked carefully. "How come I'm not surprised you didn't label the new switches?" She didn't bother to look back to see Gadget blush in embarrassment. "OK," she sighed, "I know what those do, and most of those over there, so it's got to be one of..."

The flame has gotten almost to the end of the tied-together fuses.

Monterey started nervously counting down. "Ten...nine..."

Chip looked back and forth in growing worry between the two women. "Uh, Gadget, Laurel?"

"That one!" Gadget declared, pointing at a switch that was straight in front of her.

Laurel confidently flicked it with her right hand. Her face dropped when the windshield wiper turned on and the pane of glass in front of them remained stubbornly closed. "Nope," she said, fatalistically.


"Hmm..." said Gadget.

Dale dived for the nearest window and started pounding. "Help! I want out! Let me out! Let me out!"


Seven fuses were about to run out.


Gadget stared at her hands for a few seconds. "Oh, that's right!" she realized. "Dad was left handed!"

"So you didn't move the switch?" accused Laurel.


"I never said I did!" protested Gadget.

"Fine!" And with that, Laurel stabbed at the proper switch with her left hand. A pane of the canopy rolled back and seven flames disappeared into seven quiescent sticks of dynamite.


With a tremendous explosion, the Screaming Eagle was sent hurtling up the ramp and out into the sky, the male inhabitants screaming the whole way. When they stopped, only Laurel and Gadget were visible in the plane.

"Golly, that was close!" said Gadget. "You can sit up, now." Monterey, Chip, Dale and Zipper got back up from where they had been hiding on the floor of the plane.

"I don't think that's a good idea," suggested Laurel, pointing out the window.

"Yeah, I think you're right," Gadget calmly agreed. "Better duck back down."

The others were not quite as calm, as they saw a human jetliner headed straight for them.

A peculiar bumping sound could be heard as the world was suddenly turned upside down. Gadget unlatched her seatbelt and fell onto the cushioned ceiling of the plane. Laurel followed suit a bit more gracefully, and the others did the same. They found that the ceiling of the craft had been sculpted into crude seats, not as comfortable as the upside down seats above them, but certainly useable. Laurel's seat faced a series of switches above the canopy of the Screaming Eagle that were previously inaccessible.

Monterey looked around in shock. "I can't believe it. I'm all here! And little Zipper, too!" He reached up and tapped the fly on the head. Zipper was so shocked by the experience that he was still stuck to the former floor of the aircraft. Monterey gently detached him and rested him in his lap.

Dale stood up and by stretching, was able to "lower" his window enough to stick his head out and look around. "Wow! We're stuck to the bottom of the jet plane's wing!" The suction cup wheels turned out to double as suction cups.

"Oh, that reminds me," observed Gadget. "Don't bounce around too much. We never tested the suction cups with this much weight."

Everyone looked at Dale, who was busy munching on a full-size chocolate bar he had somehow smuggled aboard the plane. "What?"

Laurel turned to the passenger beside her. "So, Chip, we've got a few hours to spare. Mind telling me about this case you're investigating?"

And that's a good a place as any to declare this is

The End


Credits and Acknowledgements

The series Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers and the characters of /luh-WHY-nee/, Shaka-Baka, Gadget, Rat Capone, Pr. Nimnul, Monterey Jack, Chip, Dale, Zipper, Geegaw Hackwrench, Moonwalk Jackson and Dirk Suave are copyright 1989 Disney. The massive chunks of dialog from Part 3 of To the Rescue are also copyright Disney and were penned by Jymn Magon, Tad Stones, Mark Zaslove and Julia J. Roberts (or perhaps only some of them, as this isn't the whole episode).

Contrary to Ethan's occasional daydreams, he did not in fact write "Beverly Hills". The song, from Weezer's album Make Believe, was written by Rivers Cuomo.

The thesis for this work (how would TTR3 have changed if Lawhiney was Gadget's sister) was originated by the Acorn Cafe poster Pesterfield here. That makes two out of two Rescue Ranger fanfics inspired by Acorn Cafe "What If" posts.

Finally, the use of "Laurel" as Lawhiney's real name comes from Loneheart's fanfiction Gadget in Chains.


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