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Chip & Dale : New Rescue Rangers #3
"The day Chip didn't die"
by Toni

All characters in this fanfic are © Disney and are used without permission. The story as it is however is mine.


Hey, this is Toni speaking. Thanks for looking at my second piece of work that I oh so optimistically call a fanfic (Yeah, it's my second Ranger fic, despite being labeled #3. Go figure). It's more or less meant to be a continuation of the series.

I've got to warn you, though. This one turned out to be quite a bit darker than what I normally write. It's full of angst, drama and destruction (although you'll probably not get much of this as my writing style kills any real atmosphere) so it's probably not a story for everybody. But it's not terribly dark, either, so I guess you just have to find out yourself if the story fits your taste.

Anyway, for those of you brave enough to read it, I hope you are going to enjoy it as much as I did writing it.

You have been warned. On with the story.



"The day Chip didn't die"

     The Rescue Rangers were running away.

     They were within Professor Nimnul latest hideout, an abandoned factory, and had just foiled another one of the mad scientist's plans. That in itself would be good news. Unfortunately, the whole place could blow up any second now.
     Chip glanced over his shoulder. The professor ran behind them, wielding a broom and fuming with anger... and he was getting closer. "Come back here, you... filthy rodents!" he screamed.
     The sounds of explosions could be heared.
     "Quick, this way!" Dale shouted, running through an open door. Inside, they found a lot of various exotic looking junk, presumably old inventions by Nimnul, carelessly lying around in big heaps. One of those heaps was right under a halfway opened window.
     "Go, go!" Chip urged the others. "Out of here, quickly!"
     When Chip climbed up the pile himself, most of his teammates had already reached the windowsill.
     "Come on, Chip!" Dale shouted when they heared another explosion. The pile of trash trembled lightly as Nimnul entered the room.
     "I've had enough of you!" he shouted. "Now you'll pay!"
     Chip climbed upwards as fast as he could when yet another explosion, this one stronger than the others, caused the heap of trash to collapse. Parts fell everywhere, and Chip along with them.
     "Chiiip!" Gadget shouted, fear in her eyes. The building trembled furiously.
     "Get out!" Chip shouted back. "Quickly! Huh...?"
     Despite the noise that came from the explosions and the trembling building, Chip could make out the soft humming. Appearantly, some of this junk was still functional and was now coming to "live".
     Chip found himself envoloped by a blinding light, he felt something tingling inside him and then he was gone.


     ***


     Chip lied flat on the back on a grassy field when he woke up. He groggily shook his head and slowly sat up.
     "Whoa, that was weird..." he thought. "How did I get here..."
     He paused as his memories struck him full force: Nimnul, the explosions, the strange light...
     Chip stood up (maybe a bit too quickly as his head started to ache a bit) and looked at his surroundings.
     He was in a park. Yes, it felt familiar to him. He couldn't be far away from his tree house. But oddly enough, it seemed to be deserted. No humans, no animals, except for... he narrowed his eyes. Was that a rat he saw? He wasn't quite sure. It looked somewhat like a rat, all right, but it shined in the light as if it was made of... metal.
     "How weird!" Chip stated. "Maybe the others can tell me..."
     The others! Oh no, he completely forgot about them. Were they all right? Did they escape the explosions?
     He darted towards the tree that housed the Ranger HQ. He climbed up and soon stood in front of the HQ's door.


     ***


     Chip looked at the entrance of the Ranger HQ, puzzled. The door was widely open and the interior was in a terrible shape. It looked as if it had been abandoned a long time ago.
     "What now?" he asked himself. Instead of answers, he had found more questions.

     His train of thought was interrupted by the sound of something swooping down just beside him. Chip turned around to see the familiar, yet for some reason Chip couldn't quite put the finger on strangely different looking face of Foxglove.
     The batgirl looked at him with big eyes as if she had seen a ghost or something. Then she spoke up: "Ch-chip? Is that... really you?"
     "Why, of course it's me," Chip said, not sure if Foxglove's strange question should amuse or worry him. For the moment, he was just relieved to see a familiar face.
     Slowly, Foxglove took a step forward... and with a sudden movement, punched him square in the face.
     "Whoa!" yelled Chip as he stumbled backwards, rubbing his sore cheek. Perhaps, so he thought, he shouldn't be relieved after all.
     "Are you insane?" he asked her, being more puzzled than angry. "What was that for?"
     "How dare you?!" Foxglove screamed angrily, tears forming in her eyes. "First you disappear into thin air! Abandoning us! Leaving us sick and worried about you! And now, here you stand before me as if nothing happened at all and ask me what that slap was for?! How dare you???"
     Foxglove was now openly crying and threw herself into Chip's arms, holding him for support.
     "How dare you?" she whispered, her tears now running freely down her cheeks
     Chip was sure that his confusion by this time had materialized itself in the form of visible question marks floating around his head, but for the moment he shoved the thought aside and hugged the trembling and crying batgirl back.
     "Shh," he said. "I'm here. I'm not sure what happened, but I'm here."
     He held her until she finally calmed down, then backed away to look at her.
     "Now, Foxglove, I believe this is a strange situation for both of us, but I have some questions. You think you can explain some things to me without hitting me again?"
     Foxglove sniffed and nodded.
     "Okay, this may sound weird to you, but... what happened? I mean, I remember when we fought Nimnul the last time, I was zapped by some of his junk. I probably got unconsious for a while, and when I woke up again, everything is just... different. I hardly recognize anything. What happened?"
     Foxglove stared wide eyed at him .
     "You mean you don't know?" she asked him unbelievingly. Chip shook his head.
     "Oh Chip! When you 'last' fought Nimnul, as you call it, was the last time anyone of us has seen you alive. Chip! You were gone for years!"
     Chip's eyes widened at that. "But... How...? No way!" he stammered.
     "Yes way," Foxglove said. "You really don't know, do you?"
     Chip rubbed his forehead trying to digest Foxgloves story.
     "I can't believe this! What did that zap do to me? I can't have been passed out for that long, now can I?"
     "Come to think of it..." Foxglove said while looking thoughtfully at Chip. "You still look pretty youthful... as if you never aged at all."
     Chip took another glance at Foxglove. Now he knew why the bat looked so different to him. She looked, well, older. And for some reason, also more tired and weary then the spunky Foxglove he had known.
     Chip slumped to the floor.
     "I don't like where this is heading. Are you implying that I somehow travelled in time? This is no comic book!"
     "We have seen a lot of strange things in the past," Foxglove retorted. "So why not time travel?"
     'A good question', Chip thought. The team really did have their fair share of encounters with persons and things Chip wouldn't have believed them to be real had he not seen them with his very own eyes. But still, time travel?
     "This is too much for me," Chip confessed. "But I guess Gadget could probably explain... oh!"
     He stood back up.
     "Foxglove, what about the others? Do you know where they are?"
     "Uh...yes..." Foxglove said uneasily. Chip's ears immediately perked up.
     "What is it Foxglove?" he asked her, now deeply concerned. "They... they are okay, aren't they?"
     Foxglove looked at her feet for some time before replying.
     "They are... alive. I can take you to them, but I doubt that you'll like what you see."


     ***


     Chip held on firmly to Foxglove while she flew to the Rangers' new home. He was impressed by the batgirl's strength, though he made sure not to make a comment on it, just to be safe. In the past, Foxglove has had a tendency to just fall down if reminded that bats weren't actually supposed to fly around while carrying so much weight. Below them, they could see a whole lot of mechanical rats roaming the streets.
     "Gosh, they are everywhere!" Chip said. "Where do they all come from?"
     "Nimnul's factory," Foxglove explained matter of factly. "He has built a whole army of these."
     "They are Nimnul's work?" Chip asked. So the scientist had survived the explosions after all.
     Foxglove nodded. "And they are programmed to take out rodents and the like. Hard times... for all of us."
     Chip felt a chill down his back when he heared that. He hoped that his friends were alright. Then, something else crossed his mind.
     "But, why did nobody stop him? The police-"
     "They never knew what hit them until it was too late," Foxglove interrupted him. "Heck, we never knew what hit us until it was too late! As it is, I'm happy enough just for surviving this mess, you can believe that. By the way, we're almost there."
     Chip took a look at his surroundings, and though it looked different from above, he immediately recognized where they were flying to.
     "This is the airport where we first met Gadget!" he exclaimed.
     "True," Foxglove confirmed. "When living at the treehouse proved being too difficult and dangerous due to the robotic rats, they moved to Gadget's old home. It's relatively safe here, with hardly any rats roaming around. Nobody seems to care for these old planes. Hold on, we are landing."
     Foxglove landed just beside the old bomber Gadget lived in before she joined the Rangers. Taking a quick glance around to make sure that they where undetected, she approached the entrance and knocked firmly on it.
     First, nothing happened. Then, some noise from inside the plane could be heard.
     After a while that felt like an eternity, a voice spoke up: "Who's there?"
     Chip perked up. He recognized the voice as Dale's, but a lot less warm and friendly than what he remembered. Silently, he wondered what else had changed after all this time.
     "Dale, it's me, Foxglove," the batgirl answered. "Open the door."
     "Foxglove, I thought we were through with this-"
     "Shut up and open the door, you twit!" Foxglove said with a definite edge to her voice. Chip could hardly believe his ears. Then he heard a sigh and the door of the plane opened, revealing a rather irritated looking, red nosed chipmunk.
     "Foxglove, for the last... guh?" He stopped in mid-speech, staring at Chip.
     "Uhm... hi there?" Chip said with a weird grin, waving at his old friend. The whole situation just seemed so akward to him.
     He wasn't the only one as was evident by the uncomfortable silence, but after a while, Dale snapped out of it. He quickly looked around and when he saw no rats, he led them in.
     "I warn you, Foxglove," Dale said while closing the door behind them, "If this is a joke, I don't think it's funny. And I know what's funny!"
     "It's no joke, alright?" Foxglove told him. "We need to talk to Gadget."
     "What for?" Dale wanted to know.
     "Dale, we need to talk to her, now!"
     "I don't think-"
     "Now, okay???" Foxglove shouted at him.
     "Please Dale," Chip spoke up. "It's really important."
     Dale frowned but eventually nodded with a sigh.
     "Okay. She's in her workshop. I'll take you to her." And without any further word, Dale turned around and led the way with Chip and Foxglove following him.
     "Wow, I've never seen him like that," Chip whispered into the batgirl's ear. "I thought that he'd be at least a little bit happier to see me."
     "As I said, these are hard times for all of us," Foxglove whispered back. "When you were gone, he tried to make up for it. He tried to be more mature so he could lead the Rescue Rangers in your spirit, but, alas, it didn't work out that well. That made him... you know... bitter."

     When they arrived at the entrance to Gadget's workshop, they could all hear the familiar sounds of Gadget working on her inventions. Knowing quite well that there was no way she could hear him knocking, Dale simply opened the door and walked in with his visitors close behind.
     Sure enough, Gadget stood in front of her workbench, facing away from the door and lost in the process of creation. She jumped when Dale gently tapped on her shoulder.
     "Dale!" she said after turning around, sighing with relief . "Don't ever scare me again like this! I swear I could feel my heart skipping a beat or... two...???"
     It was then that she noticed her visitors. She and Chip stared at each other. Chip was surprised by the condition of the blonde mouse. She was, well, a mess, for lack of a better word. Her hair was much shorter then what he remembered and a lot more scruffy. Her overalls were worn out with patches covering up parts of them here and there and her face, though it still showed signs of her remarkable beauty, looked very tired, as if she hadn't slept for days.
     'Then of course, she probably really didn't spent much time sleeping', Chip thought to himself. She probably just was on an invention spree.
     After a few second which actually feeled much longer, she let out the most earsplitting scream anyone of them has ever heard.
     "Ch-Chip?" she asked, her expression turning from shock to disbelief and finally to happiness. "Chip!"
     She threw herself into the stunned Chipmunks arms.
     "Guh... Gadget?" was the only thing Chip managed to say. Still, in the corner of his eyes he could catch a glimpse of Dale frowning at them.
     "Oh Chip, you are alive! I knew it!" Gadget said while holding Chip tightly. "Somehow, I always knew you'd come back some day, but now that you're back I can hardly believe it! Oh Chip!"
     "Gadget, p-please, slow down!" Chip said. "Gadget, seriously! I can't... breathe."
     "Oh, oh, sorry!" Gadget said as she quickly backed away. "I'm so sorry, but oh Chip, after all these years... and now you are here!"
     As Gadget calmed down again, a thought seemed to cross her mind.
     "After all these years..." she repeated calmly. "Chip... were have you been?"
     "Yeah, that's what we all want to know," Dale said.
     Chip sighed. "If I only knew." He then told Dale and Gadget the same story he had told Foxglove earlier.
     "Foxy thinks that I might have somehow travelled in time," he concluded.
     Dale and Gadget had listened to Chip's explaination thoughtfully. Now Dale shook his head unbelievingly. "That reminds me just too much of my old comic books."
     "Well, I guess," Chip agreed, knowing quite well how far fetched this must seem to the others. "I don't know if I really travelled in time or not, but at the moment I have to admit that I have no other explaination for this."
     Gadget sighed. "Well, improbable as it is, I see no reason why it should be impossible for you to have been propelled into the future somehow. Golly, that would be... amazing!"
     "Yeah, really amazing," Dale said without enthusiasm.
     "Oh, come on Dale!" Foxglove said. "It wasn't Chip's fault for leaving us. It was an accident! It's not fair to be angry at him because of something that he had no control over."
     Dale's look softened a bit. "Yeah, you are right," he reluctantly agreed.

     Just then they all heard some noise outside of the workshop and a voice saying: "Don't worry guys, it's just us!"
     "Monty!" Foxglove sighed. "And for a second I thought the rats had found us."
     "Nah, he was just out to get us some food," Dale reassured the bat, then shouted: "We are here, Monty!"
     The door opened and Monty and his flying buddy Zipper came into the workshop.
     "Oh, there you are!" the big mouse said. "What are you all hiding in here for? Wait a sec..."
     Monty looked at Chip and blinked. Then he took of his glasses, rubbed them and put them back on his nose. When Chip was still there, he sighed.
     "Mates, either I'm seeing ghosts here or I am getting old sooner than I thought!"
     "I'm not so sure," Zipper buzzed. "I see him, too."
     "Hey guys," Chip waved at them.
     "Chip!" Monty exclaimed. "Is it you? For real?"
     "You have no idea how many times I heard that question today," Chip said half smiling.
     Monty laughed heartily and pulled Chip into a hug.
     "Ah, I thought I'd never see you again, buddy. We were worried sick, you can believe that! Where have you been?"
     He released the chipmunk who was now gasping for air.
     Foxglove spoke up: "I'll fill you in, Monty. Now better leave the poor guy alone a bit so he can catch his breath... and catch up on recent events."
     "Thanks Foxy," Chip wheezed out.

     The next few minutes were spent with Dale and Gadget taking turns in giving Chip some much needed information on what happened while he was gone. Just like Foxglove said; when Chip disappeared, Dale tried to step into his best friends footsteps by leading the Rescue Rangers in Chip's spirit, but while he could always count on his friends' advice and support, the team hasn't been all that successful anymore.
     Many times, they just barely managed to avoid certain death, and many cases were lost without the help of Chip's analytic mind. Still, they thought that they'd owe it to the animal community to at least try to get their act together and do their job, and after some time (and with the help of friends and voluntary helpers) it really seemed to work for a while. But then Nimnul attacked.
     Somehow the mad scientist had managed to build a whole army of mechanical rats to do his bidding without anyone ever noticing a thing. When he finally released them overnight they caught everyone by surprise. Most people fled in fear and the police was helpless as they found their cars, weapons and other equipment dismantled, destroyed or otherwise made unusable by the rats. As more and more of them appeared, the animal community, especially the rodent population, quickly had to discover that they weren't safe, either. Families of mouses, rats, squirrels and others were attacked. Some could hide or flee, while others weren't that fortunate.
     Chip gulped visibly as he heard that. It was hard for him to believe this horror scenario, but he had seen the robotic rats with his own eyes. He couldn't believe - he didn't want to believe that people had to suffer, maybe even people he knew, just because he wasn't there at the time. Not that he was sure that he could have helped it, but still, that feeling now nagged at him.

     "And when it got too dangerous living in our tree house, we decided to hide here," Gadget ended the story.
     "Wow!" Chip said. He felt overwhelmed by this. "Just wow!"
     "Yeah, it sounds like a really bad sci-fi story," Dale commented, "only that this is sadly pretty real."
     Chip grabbed Gadget's arm.
     "Gadget, we've got to go to Nimnul's lab!"
     "WHAT???" Gadget shouted, terrified. The others were equally horrified at that.
     "Don't you understand?" Chip pleaded. "We've got to find the parts that caused my travel through time! With your help I could travel back and warn everybody so that this mess will never happen!"
     "Uhm... Chip, I don't think it will work that way." Gadget smiled weakly at him. "After all, this mess DID already happen."
     "But-"
     "Chip, I think time travel works pretty much one way only. We all sort of constantly travel into the future, one second at a time... or many years at once, in your case. But travelling back in time is infinitely more complicated, if not impossible at all. Even if we knew exactly what it was that caused your travel, who knows if we could duplicate the effect, let alone reverse it... Chip, I think you are stuck here."
     "Oh." Chip slumped down again.
     "Don't worry Chip," Dale told him, "you'll get used to live here... now... whatever. We all did." He made a grimace. "Sure, you'll live in the constant fear of being torn apart any second, but other than that, it's not all that bad."
     Chip smiled in spite of himself. "Good to see that you are still able to see the positive side of things."
     The red nosed chipmunk grinned at him. "That's me, always looking at the bright side of life. It's not always easy, but as long as we are together..." At this words, he gently stroked Gadget's hair. She smiled.
     "Oh, you two are..." Chip pointed at Dale and Gadget. "Heh, should have figured this out myself. Well, you surely make a nice couple." He smiled.
     Gadget blushed a bit while Dale studied Chip's face. When he found no signs of mockery or jealousy in it, he smiled back. "Thanks."
     "Though Foxglove seems to think otherwise," Chip added.
     Dale sighed. "Eh, you know her. She made a big fuss about it at first, and I think she's still mad at me."
     "That would explain your less than warm welcome to us."
     Gadget looked at Chip and shrugged. "They seem to always argue when they are together lately. In fact, this is the first day in months that we are all in the same room without arguing about something."
     "Oh, the day is not over yet," Foxglove said winking at Gadget, who didn't know if she should smile or sigh at that.

     "Anyway," Chip said after a while, adjusting his fedora, "I'm still going to make a visit to our good professor."
     Gadget stared at him unbelievingly.
     "Chip, didn't you understand what I just told you about timel travel?"
     "Oh, I understood that. And while I still hope for the first time ever that you are wrong, it's not my primary reason to go there."
     "It is not?" Foxglove asked. "Then why are you planning to risk your life going there?"
     "Why, isn't it obvious?" Chip asked. "To stop Nimnul."
     For a few seconds, everybody was silent. Then Gadget spoke up again. Her voice was calm, her words chosen carefully.
     "Chip, it is too late to stop him. He's got an army of robotic rats, the control over this city, if not more... Chip, he won! I know that it's hard for you to accept this, it was just as hard for us, but he won. And it's not as if we didn't try to stop him."
     "Let's face it, the glorious days of the Rescue Rangers are over," Dale added. "We fought, we lost, it's over. And we are not going to throw our lives away for a lost cause."
     Chip stood up so suddenly that it made the others jump.
     "I can't believe what I'm hearing," he said, his voice as calm as Gadget's before in spite of his feelings. "Does that mean you gave up? Just like this? Does that mean that you want to live your lives like this?"
     "Chip, I-" Gadget started but was interrupted by Chip.
     "No Gadget. I can't believe that. And do you know why? Because you are here. You are hiding, but you are here. You could have fled like many others. You could have taken the Ranger Wing and fled to someplace safe, but you have chosen to stay. There's still fighting spirit within you, even if you don't feel it anymore. Heck, you even plan a future together." He looked at Gadget and Dale at that, who looked thoughtfully at each other.
     Chip sighed. "Of course I can't just make you help me if you chose not to. But I feel like I wasn't there when you most needed me, and by my honor as a Ranger, I will at least try to make up for that." He smiled weakly at his friends. "After all, this is not the future I want you guys to live in. Do you understand that?"
     There was an uncomfortable silence (Chip felt that there were too many of them lately) before Monty finally spoke up.
     "I'm in, buddy. It's been long enough that I cracked some bones beside my own!"
     "Me too!" buzzed Zipper.
     "You may count on me, too," Foxglove said.
     "Golly, if you are serious about this, I'll help you, too, of course!" Gadget agreed.
     They all looked at Dale who had remained silent. He stood up slowly.
     "Well," he said, "I've got only one thing to say about this: This is insane!" He suddenly grinned. "But hey, if we are going down, we can do it with style. I'm in."


     ***


     Despite his speech and his friends agreement to help him in his quest to help them, Chip felt somewhat nervous. While many of the team's older cases felt impossible to solve at first (though he knew well to hide it from the others) he felt that never before there had been so much at stake. He had to come up with a plan - and it had to be perfect. He could still hear Gadget say "Some could hide or flee, while others weren't that fortunate" in his mind, and he certainly didn't want his friends to become one of the less fortunate. The prize for failure just was too high.
     The next few days, Chip mostly spent his time reconnoitering his surroundings (with much help from Foxglove) and informing himself on every little detail of what happened that might help him.
     It was clear that there were too many rats to try and do something about them, especially if Nimnul kept manufacturing them en masse. It wouldn't matter how many could be destroyed, there'd always be more to replace them. After all, appearantly not even the humans could do anything about the rats.
     This left approaching Nimnul directly the only option. But while there was no doubt about his base of operation (that doubled as his rat-factory, too) being his all too familiar geodesic dome, getting there would prove to be much more of a problem. While the robotic rats couldn't fly (fortunately), Nimnul had prepared his dome with all sorts of kinky weapons. While it was obvious that most of these devices were meant to keep human attacks at bay, Chip was sure that quite a lot of them were meant to fend off a certain group of rodent do-gooders. This also meant that approaching from above was out of the question.
     It wasn't the first time that Chip thought how amazing it was that the mad scientist could have set up everything without anybody ever suspecting anything. But there had to be a way to stop him... and finally, Chip thought that he found it.


     ***


     After Chip told the others the plan he came up with, Gadget started working on everything he needed. From various bits and pieces of junk she had lying around in the plane since her pre-Ranger days, she built some of the "ugliest contraptions", as Dale put it, in her entire career as an inventor.

     "Too-ra-loo! Who'd have thought of this?" Monty said, obviously disgusted. "Me, dressed up like one of these junk rats! I might as well dress up as Nimnul himself!"
     "And I'm sure you'd make a very convincing Nimnul," Chip said grinning while poking at Monty's belly. "But don't you think that they'd recognize the difference in size?"
     Monty shrugged. "I could always tell them that I'd been sick," he said.

     "Guys, I'm done with the disguises," Gadget finally said after a hard days work. "I'm not sure how comfortable they are, but at least I think they'll do their job."
     "Well, let's try them on!" Foxglove said.
     "Oh Foxglove, I didn't make one for you, or for Zipper for that matter. It would only hinder your movement, and seriously, you might help us more by still being able to fly."
     "How so?" the batgirl asked. "Without a disguise, I doubt I could get near the dome without being detected... oh, I get it. You want me to distract Nimnul, right?"
     "If it isn't too much to ask of you," Chip nodded. "And by the way, once we are done and through with this, we probably need a quick way to escape. It would be helpful if you could then pick us up with the Ranger Wing."
     Foxglove stared at the chipmunk.
     "The Ranger Wing? But... I can't fly! Well, okay, obviously I can fly, but... I can't fly a plane! I never needed to..."
     "Relax, Foxy", Dale said. "You are a natural at flying, literally. As for controlling the plane, we'll show you anything you need to know."
     Foxglove threw up her wings in resignation.
     "Fine, I'll do it. Just make sure that I can use the controls with my wings."
     "That should be no problem", said Gadget.

     Flying the Ranger Wing wasn't nearly as difficult as Foxglove thought, at least once Gadget made some little modifications to the controls. It was still strange for the batgirl to depend on a machine for flying but the others took the time explaining everythink to her till she felt comfortable using the plane.
     These practise flights were also a welcome opportunity to take the disguises to a place that wasn't as far away from Nimnul's base as Gadget's home. Fortunately, Chip found a place during his former flights with Foxglove that seemed just perfect, with barely any of the rats roaming around. Even so, they had to be very cautious and the geodesic dome was still a long enough way off.
     But even with the seriousness of the situation, Foxglove seemed to enjoy herself.

     "Heh, this is actually quite fun", Foxglove admitted to Chip during another practice flight. "Not quite like flying yourself, but still fun. I should have tried this earlier."
     "See, it's not as bad as you thought," Chip said.
     "Yeah, although I still think that I make a sight to behold. A bat flying a plane. Who'd have thought of this?"
     Chip smiled to himself before he went through his mental checklist.
     Foxglove was ready.
     The Rangers were as ready as they could be.
     The Ranger Wing was ready. Together with the batwing-friendly controls, Gadget had installed a radio reciever so she could give Foxglove a call when the Rangers needed the Wing.
     The disguises were ready, too. Chip even once took the time to try one of them out in the open to see if the rats were fooled by them. It worked just fine. And while Gadget, after finding out later, wasn't very pleased about Chip endangering himself like that, she understood that this test had been necessary.
     He nodded to himself. Tomorrow, he'd finally go into action, defeat Nimnul and make this city a safe place again for both humans and animals alike... and especially for his friends. This plan just had to work!


     ***


     Chip couldn't sleep that night. He tossed and turned in his bed until he couldn't stand it any longer. Finally, he got up and went into the kitchen to get himself a glass of milk.
     He found Gadget at the kitchen table, a half full glass of milk in her hand.
     "Hi", she greeted him. "Can't sleep?"
     Chip shook his head. Gadget smiled at him.
     "Me neither", she said, "which, while I think about it, is kind of obvious, although you might have guessed that I just sleepwalked in here, although, well, I guess I'd still be sleeping then and couldn't have greeted you... why do you grin at me like that?"
     "Oh, it's nothing", Chip said, got himself a glass of milk and then sat down beside Gadget. "Just thinking about things that, despite everything else that happened, seem to never change."
     "Hmm." Gadget took a sip of her glass. For a while, they just sat silently together, enjoying each others company.
     "I missed you, Chip", Gadget finally said.
     "I know."
     "No, you don't. I mean I *really* missed you! Like, when you were gone and nowhere to be found, it was as if a part of me was gone with you."
     When Chip didn't say anything, Gadget continued: "At first, I couldn't believe you were gone. I knew that you wouldn't just leave us like this, but I refused to believe that you were killed in that building... but when we couldn't find you days, weeks, months later, I finally realized that something... happened to you after all. I was devastated. After this, I went into an invention frenzy, trying to keep me distracted all the time. It was almost like... like the time before we first met. Fortunately, I had the others keeping care of me, trying to comfort me and to ease the pain... especially Dale. It took a long time, but... he made me feel whole again."
     Chip at the blonde mouse. "Gadget, why are you telling me this?"
     She sighed. "I don't know. Maybe to just explain some things to you. Maybe... maybe to hear from you that... that it's okay. Me being together with Dale, that is. Because... well... you had feelings for me after all... and stuff..."
     "Oh Gadget", Chip said, smiling at her. "Yes, I had feelings for you. I still do. I want you to be happy. And Dale is my best friend. So, if he is the one that made you happy again, I'm happy for both of you."
     Gadget smiled at him. "Thanks."
     Chip drank his milk, stood up and, with another smile at Gadget, went back to bed.


     ***


     The next morning the Rangers flew together to the hiding place of the disguises and donned them while Chip instructed Foxglove one last time what to do.
     "Remember, just circle around somewhere away from the dome as if you were looking for something. We don't want to alert Nimnul, we just want him to keep an eye on you..."
     "... so he can't keep it on you", Foxglove interrupted him. "Come on, Chip. I understood you the first time."
     "I'm sorry, Foxy. It's just... I guess I'm a bit excited, that's all."
     Foxglove patted him on the back. "There. Just let me do my thing, 'kay? It will work out just fine."
     Chip nodded and, when Foxglove flew away, put his own disguise on.
     "Everybody ready?" he asked, his voice sounding strangely muffled through the disguise's helmet. "Well then. RESCUE RANGERS - AWAY!"
     The others chimed in their famous battle cry. In the distance, they could see Foxglove flying through the sky.

     They still had a long distance to walk to reach the dome and the disguises and roaming roborats made this walk everything but pleasant. But at least the rats ignored them, and that was the important thing after all.
     Still, with every step they took, the disguises seemed to become heavier, and when they finally reached the dome, all of them were pretty exhausted. Well, maybe except for Monty.
     In the distance, they could see Foxglove circling around. Appearantly, she really got some attention as was evident by the bulk of rats below her that seemed to wait for her to come down.
     "There we are, Chipper, safe and sound", said Monty enthusiastically. "Now let's get into this place!"
     Zipper buzzed in agreement.
     "Right... you two...", Chip panted. "Just... let us catch... some breath first."
     "I think Monty is right, Chip", Gadget said, although it was clear that she was just as exhausted as Chip despite her being used to carry heavy things like tools around. "It would look suspicious if a group of mechanical rats just stood around here gasping for air. We aren't supposed to breathe, after all. I mean, okay, we have to, but we as robots..."
     "Okay, I understand", Chip interrupted her gently. "So, let's find a way inside first. Perhaps we can find a safe place inside for a short rest."

     It was actually quite easy to get inside. In fact, apart for the weapons on the outside of the dome, the entrance and interior seemed to be devoid of any defense systems.
     "Figures. Nimnul probably relied solely on his rats to keep intruders away", Chip mused.
     "Well, they did a pretty good job until now", Dale said, grinning. "And what do we do now?"
     "The main control room!" Gadget spoke up. "Nimnul's surely got a master computer to control and coordinate all those rats. If we can find it..."
     "... we could turn off the rats!" Monty nodded to himself and looked at Chip. "This what you had in mind?"
     Chip nodded. "Yeah. We can't take out all of the rats ourselves, so we have to let Nimnul do it... or rather, his control center."

     They silently walked through the corridors, careful not to activate any trap that might have been prepared for them, but other than the occassional mechanical rat walking around here and there there seemed to be nothing to worry about.
     The main control room was quickly found, and empty at that. Chip felt that it was almost too easy, but then again, why curse your luck?
     "Well then, let's foil his plans once and for all!" Dale said, walking into the room.


     ***


     Foxglove circled around once more before flying back to the Ranger Wing. Not directly, of course, as she still had the undevided attention of at least a hundred rats, if not more.
     She flew away into a random direction, turned around after some hundred meters and repeated the procedure twice before flying to the Wing at last. There she sat down on the pilot seat and waited for Gadget's signal.


     ***


     Chip looked around. He had expected the room to be full of the usual clunky machinery, and while there still were a main computer and various other tidbits here and there, the room looked more like some sort of office than like a mad scientist's laboratory.
     "It seems as if he learned to bring order to his madness", he wondered.
     "Well, with us not interfering with his plans, he sure had enough time", Dale admitted.
     At that point, one of the lab doors opened to reveal Nimnul himself, who was accompanied by half a dozen roborats that were at least twice the size of the rats the Ranger's had seen on the streets.
     Chip took a look at him through his helmet's visor. Apart from part of his hair having turnded into a silvery grey, Nimnul looked just like he had years ago. The same small figure, the same round belly, the same (or at least a very similar) lab coat and the same smug expression on his face.
     "Well, well, well", he spoke up with an almost soothing voice while entering the room. "What do we have here? A few of my Roborats that aren't on duty? Well, you surely know that you aren't supposed to enter this room, don't you? Well, of course you do as I programmed you that way, unless -", and here his voice turned into a snarl, "- unless you are not what you seem to be." He turned to his big rats, pointing at the Rangers in disguise. "Roborats, get and destroy them!"

     The giant robots encircled the Rangers, ready to pounce on them.
     "This isn't looking so good, Chip", Dale stated needlessly.
     "Come on, you never really expected this to be easy, now did you?" Chip countered. "We have to somehow keep these rats busy and away from Gadget so she can make it to the computer safely."
     Just as Chip finished, the first rat jumped forward. Chip quickly ducked under the rat, emerging from the other side. Now he was chased by this and another rat.

     Dale also started running. He removed the helmet and started making faces at the roborats as he went. The rats' eyes, if you could call them that, flashed an angry red, and soon he too was chased by two of the mechanical beasts. Nimnul cackled gleefully.

     The remaining two rats stayed with Gadget and Monty, getting closer and closer. Monty protectively placed himself in front of Gadget.
     "When I tell you, run as fast as you can to the computer!" he told her.
     "But Monty..."
     "RUN!" he shouted just as one of the rats jumped forward, starting an attack. Gadget ran while Monty aimed a punch at the rat by reflex, trying to defend himself.
     Normally, a mouse's punch delivered to a robot's chin would do more damage to the mouse than to the robot, even when the mouse was as tough as Monty... and he knew that. But to his great surprise, the robot flew backwards by the impact. Monty then grinned widely as realization struck him. "Of course, the disquise I'm wearing must have doubled as some sort of full-body armor! Heh, no wonder the guys thought that it was so heavy."
     With renewed vigor, he tried his best to help his friends keeping the rats away from Gadget.

     Gadget in the meantime has been chased by the second rat for a short time, but this rat was quickly distracted by the angry fly that buzzed around it's head. The rat batted it's metal paws against the fly, nearly missing it time and again, and completely forgot about Gadget who had just reached the computer.

     Nimnul himself had stopped cackling. Now he was fuming with anger.
     "Why, it can't be that difficult to catch that vermin!" he screamed at his robots. "What did I build you for, after all? Get them! GET THEM!!!"
     Dale, who had by this time managed to get rid of at least some of the uncomfortable disguise, chosed this moment to climb up the scientist's leg. The rats that followed him were just a bit to late with their attacks and bit into Nimnul's leg.
     "AAAAAIIEEEE!!!" he screamed at the top of his lungs while jumping up and down. "Let go! LET GO!!!"
     "Can't make up your mind, eh?" Dale grinned broadly and looked down from Nimnul's shoulder. "Why Nimnul, it appears that someone is pulling your leg here."
     Not having noticed the chipmunk on his shoulder (and not really caring about it at the moment) Nimnul proceeded to jump up and down, whacking his rats.
     "I could watch all day", Dale commented.

     Meanwhile, Chip had managed to avoid all the rats' attacks up until now. He kept running until one of the rats changed direction to try and encircle the chipmunk. Now Chip found himself stuck between the two rats which quickly approached and jumped at him. He swiftly dodged, making the rats collide with each other.
     "Heh, they aren't so bright. Nimnul should have worked more on their AI... although I'm glad he didn't."

     Suddenly, they could hear Gadget saying "Oh noooo!"
     "What! What is it?" Chip was alarmed. Did one of the rats do something to her?
     Gadget looked down at Chip from the computer desktop and pointed at the screen accusingly. "Password protected!" she simply said.
     Chip was revealed that Gadget didn't appear to be in imminent danger after all, though her revelation troubled him. He had to admit that he hadn't foreseen Nimnul taking this precaution, never having done so before after all.
     Was this the end. Had they come this far, confront Nimnul and his infernal rats, just to see that their mission was going to fail because of a stupid password?

     "Watch your tail, mate!" Monty shouted and jumped behind Chip to smack a rat that was just about to tear the chipmunk apart from behind.
     Chip looked at Monty with a mixture of shock and gratitude. "Whoa thanks! I didn't notice it coming."
     "Yeah, I saw that", Monty said with a half smile. "Just be more careful, 'kay?"
     Chip smiled at the big mouse. Then he returned his attention back to Gadget. "Just try typing in something! Anything!" he shouted.
     "I try! I try!" the blonde mouse shouted back without turning her gaze from the screen, typing frantically on the keyboard. The computerscreen however didn't think much of her attempts at finding out the correct password. "Denied. Denied! DENIED!" Gadget screamed, her voice dripping with frustration.

     Dale ran past Chip and Monty. "I'll have a shot at it. You guys keep them occupied", he said pointing back over the shoulder with his thumb.
     Chip and Monty turned around just in time to see a bunch of the rats running straight to them with full speed.
     "Yikes!" they both screamed, turned tail and ran.

     Up on the desk, Dale found Gadget still typing away. While doing so she kept whispering the word "denied" again and again. She looked as if she was on the verge of tears.
     Dale gently pushed her aside. "Let me try something." He said.
     The red nosed chipmunk typed something and hit the enter key. The result was as to be expected: "Denied". Same with his second try.
     "Well, as they say, third time's the charm", he said, typed some more and hit the enter key yet again.
     The words "Password accepted" flashed in green letters across the screen.
     Gadget couldn't believe her eyes. "You... you did it! YOU DID IT!" She glomped him.
     "There there", Dale said, smiling. He gestured towards the computer. "Now if you'd work your magic...?"
     Gadget smiled. "With pleasure!"


     ***


     Meanwhile, Nimnul only had eyes for his precious roborats who chased Chip and Monty all around the room. Now that they had finally let go of his leg, he commenced cheering them.
     "Yeah! You almost have them!" He jumped up excitedly and winced soon afterwards. After all, his leg was still hurting.

     "Monty, I'm not sure how long I can keep this up", Chip wheezed out.
     "There now, just have some faith in Gadget", Monty said. "She'll surely deactivate the rats any second now. And Zipper is doing his best to distract the rats from us for the time being."
     "You're right", Chip admitted. "Still, you can't blame me, with wearing this stuff and everything."
     "Just have some faith!" Monty repeated. "I promise that this will be over soon... one way or the other."


     ***


     "Well?" Dale asked Gadget curiously. "Can you shut off the rats?"
     Gadget turned to face him. She beamed literally. "I can do even better than that!" She began typing away.
     Dale watched her but couldn't figure out anything. "What are you doing?"
     She smiled at him. "Giving them a new target." She pushed the enter key.


     ***


     "Yes, yes, YES!" Nimnul shouted ecstatically. Chip had just tripped and one of the roborats jumped on top of him, pinning him to the ground. "That's it! Now finish him!"
     The rat rose it's clawed paw and... froze.
     "What?" Nimnul screamed when Monty pulled Chip from under the immobile rat. He looked at his other rats. They too had ceased moving. "What happened? Why have they stopped?"
     Only then the mad scientist looked at his computer and saw it being occupied by another chipmunk and a mouse.
     "N-n-no!" he stammered. "This can't be happening! The password..."
     He was interrupted by a soft humming. Rat after rat his inventions started moving again and then they turned to face Nimnul. Slowly, very slowly.
     Nimnul looked at Gadget, then at his rats, then at Gadget again. "No, you didn't..."

     One of the rats suddenly jumped forward while Nimnul litterally jumped up, shrieking in terror.
     "Aahhh! No, stay away! Bad rat! I said stay away! Yikes!"
     Nimnul shrieked again, avoiding his own attacking inventions as best as he could and fled out of the dome. Gadget and Dale looked at each other.
     "What do you think his reaction will be when he remembers again that out there he's surrounded by litterally thousands of vicious rats?"
     Dale faked being deep in thought. "Hmm, I'd guess his reaction would be something to the lines of 'AAAAAAAARGH!!!'"
     "AAAAAAAARGH!!!" they could suddenly hear from the outside.
     "See? Told you so", Dale grinned at Gadget.


     ***


     After a few more minutes Gadget and Dale climbed down the computer's desk and walked to the others who were already waiting. Chip looked shaken but appeared to be in good condition otherwise.
     "Well?" he asked.
     "Well, the rats will give Nimnul some company for a while", Gadget said. "Like, three... four hours. Didn't seem like too much time for me." She grinned. "After that, I set the rats and this dome to self destruct. Oh, and I deactivated the weapons on the dome, so it's safe for Foxglove to pick us up."
     They just stood there silently for a moment before Dale took in a deep breath.
     "It's finally over, isn't it?" he asked the others with a grin.
     "Yeah, hard to believe, but it's over", Monty said, grinning back.
     "By the way", Chip said, looking at Dale, "how did you figure out the password?"
     Dale smiled at Chip. "You mean, it being 'DIE FILTHY RODENTS'?" He shrugged. "Dumb luck I guess.
     Chip made a sound that was half a laugh and half a sigh. "Well, thanks to whoever invented deus-ex-machinas!" he said.

     *TWANG*

     Chip was gone. He was gone and with him every sign that he has ever been there, except for the pile of disguise parts lying on the floor.
     Dale, Gadget, Monty and Zipper looked at the point where just one second before another chipmunk stood right before them. They didn't know what was more remarkable: Chip's sudden disappearance or the fact that they all remained surprisingly calm about it.

     "Wowzie!" Dale spoke up after some time. "Looks like we got two for the price of one."
     "Two of what?" Monty asked.
     "These deus-thingies Chip was talking about", Dale explained. He smiled. "He must have returned to his own time."
     Gadget, for reasons she couldn't explain herself, had the strange feeling that Dale was right. Still, she had to ask him: "How can you be so sure?"
     "Well, I think I remember having read in one of my comics that the universe doesn't like vacuums, so it must have pulled Chip back to his correct timeline... as if they were connected by a rubber band." Dale shrugged. "Either that, or he just fell through a plot hole."
     Gadget bonked him mildly on the head. Dale smiled sheepishly at her and she smiled back. Then the Rangers walked out of the dome and waited for Foxglove to come and pick them up.

     "Thank you for visiting, Chip", Gadget silently thought, looking up into the blue sky. "Thank you."


     ***


     Chip lied flat on the back on a grassy field when he woke up. He groggily shook his head and slowly sat up.
     "Whoa, that was weird..." he thought. "How did I get here..."
     He paused as his memories struck him full force: Nimnul, the rats, the time travel...
     Chip stood up (maybe a bit too quickly as his head started to ache a bit) and looked at his surroundings.
     He was in a park. Yes, it felt familiar to him. He couldn't be far away from his tree house. He could see animals around. And humans. There was no sign of any roborats ever being there. Everything looked... normal.
     "Had everything been just a dream?" Chip wondered. He shook his head. "No, it felt too real for that. Heck, I even still feel the pain from where the rat jumped on me..."
     His train of thoughts raced to the others. Gadget! Dale! Foxglove! Monty and Zipper! Were they all right?
     He darted towards the tree that housed the Ranger HQ. He climbed up and soon stood in front of the HQ's door.
     Everything looked normal.
     He opened the door. Inside, he could see his fellow Ranger's sitting at the table in the main hall. They all looked towards the entrance at the same time, appearantly startled by the sound of the opening door, and then they jumped from their seats.
     "Chip! Were have you been all day?" Gadget asked with a tone that sounded half accusing and half relieved.
     "Yeah mate, the last thing we saw when you fell into Nimnul's junk was a flash of light, and after that, we coudn't find you anymore", Monty chimed in.
     Dale bonked on Chip's head. "I hope you have a real good excuse for leaving us worried there", he chided Chip.
     Chip rubbed his head, smiling at his friends.
     "Oh, I have a good excuse, all right!" he said. "Though you won't believe any of it."


The End