"Rhyme and Reason, Part I: Opening Moves" (2/3)

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Micheal A Crawley

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Apr 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/17/96
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RHYME&REASON
BY MICHAEL DEMCIO
Part I - Opening Moves.
Part 2 of 3

8:30.....

Between lavishing praises on Dale about his unexpectedly
good cooking, the eating, and the conversation in which they
reminisced about previous cases and humorous moments together,
breakfast was a leisurely hour and a half before they were
finished. Another five minutes, and Monterey, Gadget and Zipper
were dressed and ready. Proceeding with Gadget to the
junkyard via the Rangerwing, they flew low through and around the
mountains of discarded cars, appliances, and assorted junk, until
Gadget spotted what she was looking for. "There it is." Gadget
said, looking down from the pilot seat as the Rangerwing swept
past the object in question.

Banking the plane into a tight turn, Gadget once again
approached the object, putting the Rangerwing into hover mode and
dropping them down when they were almost directly over it. "A
boom box?" Chip said as he saw for certain what they were landing
next to, upon the large mountain of discarded objects. "What do
you need *that* for Gadget?"
"Well," Gadget said as she made sure that the plane was
secure upon the uneven pile before stopping the engines and
getting out, "I'm working on a idea for an invention that'll help
us locate a burglar's trail using sound waves. You see,...by
extrapolating the right E.M. frequency from the band width
and channeling the frequency at the right altitude through an
isoliniar chip connected to reverse polarity speakers-" she
began, falling into her reflexive manner of speaking in rushed
technical jargon when describing an invention or an idea.
"Ahhh....that's okay Gadget." Chip said interrupting her,
"It's a little hard to picture it. Why don't we wait until you're
done with it before you start explaining how it works."
"Okay." Gadget said cheerfully before making her
way to the dilapidated music box. Watching her move away from
them, Chip gave a look in Monterey's direction, letting out an
exaggerated breath of relief. Monterey, Dale and Zipper chuckled
to himself at Chip's expression, and nodded back. Unless one had
an excellent grasp of most every aspect of physics and
mechanics, it was usually better not to ask Gadget how one of her
inventions worked,....*or what she needed something for.*

Giving the boom box a thorough going over, Gadget nodded
with satisfaction. The case was cracked in almost half a dozen
places. Wires were hanging out from every crevice, and one of the
speakers appeared to be totally blown, as though it had suffered
through some of Dale's heavy metal music at full volume.
"It's *perfect!*" Gadget stated enthusiastically as she turned to
the others, "Let's get it airborne." Wrapping some thick cloth
straps around the handle of the music box and securing the straps
to the Rangerwing, they slowly lifted Gadget's prize into the air
and carried it back to Ranger headquarters. There, Monterey,
Dale, Zipper and Chip pulled it into the side entrance to
Gadget's workshop, after Gadget, hovering near the entrance, had
released the straps. Another two trips to the junkyard to pick up
some spare parts from other, similar boom boxes, and retrieving
some rubber tubing, glass test tubes, and a large thermos with a
hole in its side as well, and they were done, a little more than
an hour after they had first left. This time, Chip thought better
than deciding to ask what Gadget needed any of the other items
for.

9:30.....

"I don't know about you," Zipper said, wiping the sweat from
his brow, after they had finished lugging the last piece of
equipment inside from the Rangerwing to where Gadget had
indicated where she wanted it, "but I could use a bit of a snack.
All that work got my appetite worked up again."
"Same here." Dale chimed in. "Meet me in the kitchen. Tammy
showed me this fantastic hot snack she created that only takes
two minutes to make. You guys'll love it!" With that, Dale was
off while the others waited for Gadget to land the plane.
"Well," Chip quipped to Monterey, Zipper and Gadget as Dale
disappeared from sight, "at least *now* he can put his mind being
on food most of the time to good use."

Two minutes later as promised, the Rangers were noshing on
yet another of Dale's lessons from Tammy, the food hitting the
spot after all their hard work.
"You were right, Dale!" Zipper said admiringly as he grabbed
yet another helping of the snack that Tammy as yet, had not
named. "This really is fantastic!"
"Looks like we've got a new chef!" Gadget said jokingly,
giving a meaningful glance in Monterey's direction.
"Here now luv," Monterey replied, with an air of pride.
"Don't count me out of the kitchen yet. If my little pally here
can learn a few new tricks of the table, then so can I. In fact,"
Monterey said continuing, "I have a recipe that me mum gave me,
last time she was about. Wanted to save it for the next special
occasion which today certainly is, but I got to pick up a few
things at the store first." He turned to Zipper with a smile.
"How about giving me a hand with the shopping, Zipper me lad?" he
said nonchalantly, giving him a hard stare as he quickly flicked
his eyes at Chip. Zipper's eyes widened slightly as he caught the
cue.
"Shopping? Oh, sure!" he squeaked as innocently
as possible as he flew up from the table, "Ready when you are,
Monty!"

Watching as the pair left the room, Chip turned to look at
Gadget as she dabbed at her mouth with a napkin.
"Do you need any help with your invention, Gadget?" he asked
in a curious, helpful tone.
"Nope." Gadget answered shaking her head simply. "Why?"
"I was figuring I'd spend some time relaxing on the terrace.
I just wanted to know if you needed anything I could help with."
Chip explained.
"Nope. Thanks though, Chip." Gadget answered, shaking her
head again. At this reply, Chip was about to speak again when
Dale suddenly stood up. "I have to take care of something in
my room. I'll see you guys in a little bit." he said before
trotting off.
As they watched him go, Gadget mumbled to Chip in a
low voice, "Probably going off to re-read the comic books
that he got yesterday." She stated in a tone of resignation. Chip
nodded in affirmation of her guess. He knew that in Gadget's
opinion, to say nothing of his own, Dale always spent too much of
his free time immersed in the horror tales and stories of super
heroes that he enjoyed so much. Neither of them would have minded
Dale's hobby at all otherwise, but there was one catch. As was
usually the case, he took his heroes and horror tales so
seriously, they normally served to make his slightly overactive
imagination run away with him at times. As this was a fact that
Dale would never admit to if he even realized it, these stories
could mean and had meant trouble for them in the past.<>

"What else?" Chip mumbled back with a shrug and a grin. For
the team as well as his friend's own good, he had tried many
times before to get Dale to cut back on his comic books,
television, and movies, knowing how they fed his imagination. All
his efforts though had only ended in vain, only serving to
increase his level of frustration to a point of hostility as he
saw his actions and words go in one of Dale's ears, and right out
the other. Trying to seperate Dale from his media habit, or even
to wean him away from any of them, appeared to have odds as good
as trying to keep Monterey from a pile of cheese. The best they
could try to do was to keep his imagination in check when they
saw it beginning to run away with him.
"It still amazes me how *obsessed* he gets with those
things," Gadget stated in a now normal voice, once she was
certain Dale was out of earshot. "when there's so many other ways
to spend your time."

Inwardly, Chip quirked a curious eyebrow to himself at
Gadget's observation, thinking how much free time she always
spent in her workshop, almost "obsessing" in way herself, over
the inventions that she so loved to create. He said nothing of
the insightful parallel though, since each of them, he knew, had
at least one thing they were more or less "obsessed" about.
"Speaking of which," Chip replied, turning back to face her once
more, "are you going to be working at your invention for awhile?"
he asked curiously.

"I need to put a little time into it." she answered
factually. "Why?"
Giving her a meaningful look, Chip responded, "I just
thought that it was the perfect type of day for a walk through
the park....Interested?" he asked, smiling coyly as he looked
deep into her eyes.
"Maybe." Gadget said smiling back, blushing slightly, "I
have to see how much I can get done. We do have other things we
have to do today."
"Other things involving.........*presents?*" he asked,
his smile turning into a sly grin as cocked an eyebrow at her.
"Maaaaaybe." she stated playfully, as she stood up. "I'll
let you know about that walk." she continued, patting his hand
affectionately before she left the table. "We'll see how the time
goes." As Chip watched her go, a sudden involuntary shiver ran
through him. He didn't know why, but something about what
Gadget had just said, set off that same eerie feeling that he had
had before with Dale. That something was wrong. Only this time,
the feeling was directed at Gadget.

10:00.....

Having no basis on which to back up the odd feeling, and not
wanting to look foolish again, Chip discretely decided to check
on Gadget through the outside window to her workshop. Peeking in,
he saw her contentedly enmeshed within a mass of wires, cogs, and
springs, from the now opened radio and tape player, as well as
other spare parts surrounding her, as she diligently worked to
create her latest masterpiece. As he watched, one thing became
increasingly clear to him. That fact being that Gadget was *in no
imminent danger whatsoever*. Clinging to the tree outside, Chip
shook his head in confusion as he looked in once more. There
wasn't even electricity running to the components of the device
that Gadget was creating. The unconnected plugs were clearly
visible from where he was. Still, as it had been with Dale, both
before as well as after the accident, the ominous, unexplainable
feeling was still there. /Maybe I didn't get enough sleep last
night./ Chip wondered with a befuddled look, scratching his head.

10:05.....

Seeing that these strange premonitions were obviously a
figment of his imagination, Chip tried his best to dismiss the
feeling, but a small aura of it still lingered around the fringes
of his consciousness. Pushing it away with a slight sense of
annoyance by sheer force of will, he grabbed his favorite book,
*The complete adventures of Sherlock Jones*, and headed for the
small, outside upstairs terrace. Ten minutes later, as he delved
into the book he had read so many times, the feeling was
forgotten altogether.

Stretching out leisurely on the lounge chair situated upon
the terrace, Chip inhaled deeply as he savored the brisk air.
/This is the life./ Chip thought to himself with a satisfied
smile, Fresh air, sunshine, and a good mystery. he sighed.
Turning his attention back to the book, a rush of exhilaration
ran through him. It didn't matter how many times he read these
stories, he always got caught up in them as he followed Detective
Jones and Dr. Blotson along the path of the criminal trail left
to them. Grinning even farther, he read aloud as Detective Jones
uttered one of his most famous lines of all time, not to mention
it being Chip's personal favorite, "There is nothing more
stimulating, than a case where everything goes against me."
The mystery deepened......

11:00.....

Finishing the story he had started on, he was halfway
through another when suddenly, his ears caught a strange noise
from below. Setting down the book in which Jones had just
finished unintentionally scaring Dr. Blotson in another one of
his famous disguises, he rose from the lounge chair. Peering over
the edge of the terrace, he caught sight of Monterey on the
ground at the base of the tree. A large object stood near him.
The object was almost as high as the mouse himself, and covered
by a white plastic grocery bag. Chip continued to watch as
Monterey stared up at the landing platform, only a portion of
which could be seen from his position, and began tapping
his foot rather anxiously. Looking around him suddenly as if he
thought someone might be following him, he once more turned his
attention to the landing platform, his foot resuming its tapping.

"Hmm. I wonder what he's waiting for?" Chip wondered aloud.
Shrugging slightly, Chip was about to return to his book to laugh
once more as he always did at the frightened Dr. Blotson, when
all of a sudden he froze in a silent stare at Monterey.
*The feeling was back*. "No." Chip told himself sternly as he
forced himself up from his haunches and began to return to
the lounge chair. "I don't know what this is about, but it's only
my imagination." he mumbled aloud, trying to convince himself.
Sitting back down and picking up his book, he once more tried to
push away the impression of impending danger as he picked up
where he'd left off.

Barely twenty seconds later, he found himself peering over
the edge of the terrace once more, his logical mind giving in to
what he now believed had to be some sense of instinct.
Perhaps a misguided sense of instinct, but instinct nonetheless.
/Either that or I'm cracking up./ he mused. Telling himself that
he could just check on Monterey as he had on Gadget, to which he
hoped the irrepressible feeling might subside, he rushed down the
tree as fast as he could. Reaching the ground, he peered around
the side of the tree as much as he dared, not wanting to have to
explain to Monterey why he was spying on him, should his friend
spot him. Monterey was still exactly where Chip had seen him from
the terrace, only now he saw Monterey was standing with his arms
raised skyward, his palms curling and uncurling in silent
instruction.

Looking up, Chip saw the Rangerplane's winch line and hook,
slowly being lowered toward the ground by someone who was out of
sight within the cockpit. The winch was still a few inches out of
Monterey's reach as he silently indicated for more line. /I knew
it, I knew it...../ Chip told himself angrily as he looked upon
the innocent scene. He didn't know what they were doing,... but
there was clearly about as much danger here as in watching the
grass grow. Shrinking back a bit along the curve of the tree,
Chip worriedly pressed his hand to his forehead. /No fever or
sickness, or none that I can detect./ he thought to himself.
/Maybe I *am* really starting to crack up!/ he wondered a bit
more anxiously to himself this time. Taking a step back, he was
about to retreat the rest of the way behind the tree when a white
blur suddenly streaked into his field of vision..........

Without even taking the time to issue a warning yell, Chip
darted forward around the tree, and threw himself into a flying
tackle at Monterey. The burly mouse was not an easy target to
move, but with throwing all his weight into the tackle and
knowing the best place to strike as well, Chip succeeded in
forcing his Australian friend back and to the ground, a split
second before disaster would have struck. The line drive baseball
shot through the area where Monterey Jack stood just a moment
ago, ricocheting with a hard "crack" off the tree, before
shooting off in a new direction away from the two Rescue Rangers.
"I got it!" a teenage human girl shouted as she ran toward the
ball, scooped it up in her mitt, and ran back from where the ball
had originated.

Monterey sat up, staring in shock at where, if not for
Chip's timely intervention, his life might have surely ended.
Turning his head toward his friend who was collecting himself
after running into his solid mass which was almost as hard as the
baseball after the rigorous bout of training he had put himself
through, he was about to speak when Zipper whizzed down beside
him, buzzing excitedly.
"*Monty!*" he cried, placing his tiny hands on Monterey's
cheeks. "Are you all right?!" He had seen the hurling
baseball from his perch within the Rangerplane's cockpit.
"Right as rain, pally." Monterey responded a bit shakily as
he got to his feet, "Thanks to Chipper, here. Are you all
right, mate?" he asked of Chip as he helped him to his feet.
"I'm okay." Chip said, dusting himself off. "I'm just glad
*you're* all right. Lucky thing I got here when I did." he
finished, looking up at Monterey.
"Too right!" Monterey responded, some of his gusto having
returned, "You saved me right smart there, mate!" he exclaimed,
trapping his friend in a hearty bear hug, "That's another one I-"
Monterey stopped then, regarding Chip with a curious look in his
eyes as he let Chip go. "Say," he stated, the curiosity now
extending to his tone as well, "Not that I'm anywhere near
complaining mind you, but what were you doing down here, pally?
Zipper said that you were just reading on the-*ow*!" Monterey
finished. Looking down, Monterey gently rubbed his leg from where
Zipper had just kicked it. Looking down, his eyes widened as
Zipper shot him a quick menacing look, and then turned in Chip's
direction to flash him an innocent grin.

Taking the rather obvious cue, and wishing that his mind was
a sight faster than his mouth, Monterey flashed the same innocent
grin towards Chip, but it was too late. /Why would they
need to know where I was?/ Chip wondered to himself. Then,
looking around Monterey's massive bulk, he had his answer.
"What's this?" Chip asked in curiosity as he glanced around Monty
toward the object that had stood beside him. When he had tackled
Monty, Chip had felt his foot accidently catch in one of the
loops of the plastic bag, bringing the object tumbling down with
them. As it fell, it had rolled out of its plastic cover, and now
stood revealed before him. It was a beautifully hand carved, and
incredibly detailed wood statue of himself, dressed in a cape and
hat which matched the attire of that worn by Sherlock Jones,
carefully studying something unseen with a magnifying glass in
hand. This scaled down version of the outfit worn by Sherlock
Jones, along with an unpublished manuscript of a Sherlock Jones
story, he had gotten in England. The items had been a gift to him
from a dog named MacDuff, who's master the Rangers had helped in
obtaining his rightful place as the heir to Baskerville Manor,
the deceased owner of which, Howard Bask, had been the creator
and writer of the Sherlock Jones stories.^^

In a flash, Monterey pivoted himself in front of Chip,
blocking his view, and had stuffed the carving back inside its
bag. "This?" Monterey chuckled nervously, flashing him the same
wide, innocent grin, not knowing how much Chip had seen in his
brief glimpse. "Oh, this is nothing. Nothing at all. Just-eh heh,
uhh....something I dug out of my closet this morning. Oy, mate.
Nothing you'd be interested in. Nothing at all. Eh, heh heh."
"Okay Monty." Chip replied, playing along as he shrugged
innocently. "I'll see you guys later." Watching as Chip
ascended the tree, Monterey turned to Zipper hovering beside him.
"Do you think he saw it? Do you think he knows?" he asked the
fly, mumbling to him. Crossing his arms, Zipper shrugged before
turning a reprimanding glance upon his friend.
The look needed no words.
"Oy." Monterey mumbled to himself as Chip entered their
treehouse, "Me and me big mouth."

*****

MORE TO COME...


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