TALE SPIN: SUB-MEDITERRANEAN SEAWRECK BALOO

                                 Fan-fiction story by jb

Disclaimer: The following story is based on the television series, characters and situations created by Jymn Magon & Mark Zaslove, Tale Spin © 1990, 1991 Walt Disney Company/Buena Vista Television. Fan-fiction story and non-Tale Spin characters are creation of the author and may not be used without permission. This is a work of fan-fiction using characters and property of the Walt Disney Company without consent and for non-profit use.

   

                                                PART SEVENTEEN

 

A band of pirates aboard the debilitated Prowler marched off a couple of newly-captured sailors of Khan’s down a lonely corridor by gunpoint, to join with the others waiting on the upper deck. When they had turned a corner, a door opened cautiously and two eyes quickly checked before proceeding any further.

Satisfied with the emptiness, the figure emerged from the entrance followed by a companion.

“Okay, Kit…the coast is clear. Let’s move!” whispered Melita.

The two youngsters quickly but quietly raced down the passageway, ran up a staircase to the next deck and proceeded towards the ship’s battle guns at a brisk pace.

“Are you sure we’re going the right way?” asked Kit, slightly huffing.

“I’ve stalked thoroughly through this ship for five hours last night. The guns are at the upper bow, deck one.”

“Gee…” asked the navigator sarcastically, “know where the bathrooms are on this deck, too?”

“Which one…” she replied with a knowing look, “the front bow or mid-stern?”

Smart-aleck, he thought contemptuously, but he really didn’t want to let her know he was impressed by that, so he just said: “Lead on, skipper.”

They had just gone down a few paces when they approached a corner that Melita stopped abruptly, crouched down and motioned Kit to do the same. Baffled as he was, the young bear did so. But what got him more confused was that she started to dig through her satchel, pulling out a cosmetic compact etched with an intricate flower and lace pattern on the cover and a tube of lipstick.

“What are you think you’re doing?” he asked sharply in a low tone.

Shh! Getting a perspective on our adversaries, navigator,” she answered, adjusting the mirror portion of the compact to an agreeable angle where the reflection could be viewed properly. “Take a look…”

Kit peered over her shoulder to where she held the compact and sure enough, he could see some Air Pirates binding up a straggler sailor and then forcibly marching him into another direction away from where they were situated. After the brigands had left, Melita removed the cap off the lipstick tube, twisted the pigment shaft upwards and marked a small X at midlevel on the wall they were leaning against.

“What’s that for?”

“Just marking a little trail for us back to the hanger in case we get lost coming back from the batteries,” the Moltese said as she placed the cap back on her lipstick. “It’ll be just noticeable enough for us to see and hopefully not by the pirates.”

“Don’t you canines use something else to mark your trail?” he smirked.

Melita just shot a facetiously baleful look at him. “Don’t be so vulgar.”

Kit noticed something was sticking out the underside the flap of her satchel that looked like some piece of white fabric of an ornate design. She noticed he was looking at it too and her face suddenly took on a slight rubicund flush. A hint of a frown cast upon her features as she quickly stuffed the item back into the satchel and secured the fastening strap.

“What’re you getting all discombobulated for?” he asked, puzzled.

“Nothing. Just something you weren’t supposed to see, that’s all.”

“Big deal. I’ve seen lacy handkerchiefs before, Melita.”

“That…wasn’t my handkerchief, Cloudkicker,” she said as she rose up on her feet and stuck the compact into one of the pockets of her shorts.

“Then what…” he started before it finally dawned on him of what the item in question really was and just innocently ended it with: “Oh…I see…” I thought it looked a little big for a hankie…

“What?  Surprised I’m actually feminine?”

“No, no…” Kit flustered uncomfortably, trying to delicately put it in proper words. “It’s just that, you…don’t look like the type that…uh…”

“Just because I can throw a barroom punch, haven’t had a bath plus been living on beef jerky and hardtack for two days straight, it doesn’t mean I’m not into ‘girly’ things like makeup, fancy knickers, sad rainy days and silly romantic poetry!”

“I never said nor thought of that,” Kit said defensively as he stood up. And for one brief moment he was reminded of the time Baloo got all dressed up in drag to enter that scavenger hunt air race as “Tan-Margaret” to prove his pilot prowess – if not eschewing his manhood in the process – only to be unexpectedly paired up with Rebecca when they won it by using, among many things; her nail file and spare silk hoses, proving that women were just as resourceful as men were. After all, as his employer would regale later on, a lady is always prepared.

“Well, make no mistake,” she finished testily, “I am a girl and I sure could use a hot shower and a decent meal right about now! Let’s go!!”

The adolescent bruin admiringly contemplated the Moltese’s figure from behind as she walked away and thought: You most certainly are a girl…

They walked on for a bit until Melita said in a softer tone: “Kit?...”

“Yeah?”
            “Don’t tell my brother that I carry lipstick around, okay? He…doesn’t think I’m old enough to be wearing makeup.”

“Sure. No problem.”

Making their way, he had some questions to ask of his recently-appointed ally as she marked periodically along the way with her lipstick, so he said it outright: “You seem to know a lot more about Karnage and the Air Pirates than I do. Care to enlighten me why?”

“It’s not that simple a story to explain.”

“Try me, Melita.”

The she-canine sighed. “Don Karnage used to be…one of us…”

 

 

 Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!” Katie wailed, rushing toward the September Weed’s vault entrance closed in on her and her companions Baloo and Rebecca in the pitch darkness, slamming her fists hopelessly against the thick-steeled door.

Dropping to her knees onto the floor, the archaeologist started to cry.

“C’mon, Katie…” Baloo said, trying to calm his fears as well as the other ladies. “We can’t jus’ give up now…”

 “It’s impossible!” she sobbed heavily. “If running out of oxygen won’t kill us, being sent down to Davy Jones’ will!”

 Rebecca nervously fumbled to click on the flashlight she had with her. Aiming the light at the door, the two bears saw the crumpled-up vixen sitting on the floor; head rested on her knees, arms slumped over her head. She looked a most pitiful sight.

“I came out here…in the hopes of fulfilling a promise to myself,” Katie whimpered. “Now…I’ve probably lead us all to our doom!”

Baloo went over to where she was and sat down beside her. “C’mon now…that ain’t the Katie I know,” he said reasonably. “‘Member that time when we was up ‘gainst that Klang feller in Ghaphia when he activated the Master Bell an’ had all those nasty scarabs an’ a sandstorm in the process?...”

Rebecca looked at them sharply. Amidst being caught up in the direness of their situation and hearing her employer’s fantastical-sounding summary of their last encounter all at the same time, it placed her head in a whirl. She didn’t know the entire Ghaphia adventure but she definitely wanted to hear all of it in detail…provided they lived through this adventure first.

“We didn’t give up then,” he continued. “Now, I know I ain’t no Middle-of-the-Roads scholar, nor do I ever pretend ta be….but I do know that if anybody can outsmart that walkin’ Mardi Gras-paradin’ popinjay pirate, it’s gotta be us, Red.”

The archaeologist just looked at him and sniffled. Her eyes almost matched her own hair colour.

“Do we really think we can?” she asked, her voice suddenly squeaky, almost little girl-like.

“We did it before, hon…or do ya really want ol’ Karny ta git the better of us?”

A sudden, fierce resoluteness came back into the vixen’s face upon hearing that; slamming her fists on the floor in determination, she quickly stood up. “Then what are we doing just sitting down here in the dark feeling sorry for ourselves?! Let’s get that pirate scum!!”

Look out, Karny…Baloo grinned. Ol’ Katie’s back.

Rebecca felt so proud of him for returning the archaeologist’s confidence. A part of her wanted to give him a great big kiss and hug, but knew this wasn’t the time or place for it.

Katie pulled out her own flashlight, clicked it on and started to wander it around the ceiling.

 “What are you looking for?” asked the she-bear.

 “There’s a hatch in the ceiling I remember. I’ve studied the vault plans, and it leads to the next deck upwards. It’s our only hope of getting out of here.”

Joining in the search, the two bears craned their necks at the topside with their own flashlights looking for the vault hatch.

“Hey!” exclaimed Rebecca after a moment. “Is this it, Katie?”

The archaeologist and pilot hurried right over to where the she-bear was positioned and looked upwards. The ceiling hatch was fairly small, rectangular in shape and fastened with two slit screws. Baloo eyed it with disbelief.

“Good work, Rebecca. This is it!”

That’s gonna bail us out? I’ve been through booby-trapdoors bigger than that!”

“I’m not surprised, considering it’s supposed to catch real live boobies,” the she-bear joked unhappily, ignoring Baloo’s poisonous look at her cheap shot.

“I know, it’s small but we don’t have much choice or time. We’ve got only thirty minutes of air or less in here between the three of us and mercy knows when Karnage will let those clamps of the hydraulic lift go, sinking this ship!”

“Okay,” the businesswoman said anxiously, “so what do we do?”

“I unscrew the hatch and crawl through up to the upper deck, rush right back down here and unlock the vault, since I’m the only one who knows the combinations. Baloo’s tall enough to place me on his shoulders.”

“Sounds like a plan, Red, but what are we gonna do fer a screwdriver? There ain’t none down here!”

Katie studied the hatch screws again and exhaled heavily. “Aw, jeepers, you’re right! I’d use my Switzer Army pocket knife, but the blades are too thick! Does anybody have a thin coin or key end?”

Baloo rummaged through his shirt pocket and pulled out the contents. “I got…two nickels, some lint an’ a button. Ain’t much – sorry.”

“How about a hairpin?” offered Rebecca as she unfastened one from her hair, letting her one of her long brown locks spill down over her shoulders.

 Man! Becky’s hair sure looks a whole lot better down than up, thought the pilot in amazement looking at her.

Handing it over to the archaeologist, she studied it briefly. “Hmm…not too ideal a tool, but it should do,” Katie agreed and then proceeded to untie her boots. “Give me a boost up, Baloo.”

 Holding her by the waist after she had kicked them off, the grey bear hoisted the redhead up very quickly and immediately she balanced herself onto his broad shoulders in her socking feet, reaching the ceiling easily. “Okay, hold me tightly by my ankles. Rebecca, hold the flashlight on the hatch. I’ll speed this up as quickly as I can – and breathe slowly! We must conserve as much air as possible.”

Getting to work on the first screw, silence fell heavily in the vault. Strangely enough, the ace pilot couldn’t stop looking at his employer’s semi-loosened hairstyle; even in the dimness and the way the flashlight glow was giving off her features, it made her look so…so, well…becoming.

“What are you looking at?” said Rebecca disdainfully noticing this. “I probably look like a ragamuffin.”

 “Not ta me ya don’t,” he remarked adorningly without even thinking.

Rebecca was a bit startled into silence with his answer for a couple of seconds before stammering: “Wh-wh-what??”

It was then Baloo realised what he had just blurted out and gulped. “Uh…ah…I…uh…”

Excuse me,” said the archaeologist irritably to the she-bear. “Some light up here, if you don’t mind?”

“Oh! Ah – sorry, Katie.”

The pilot was thankfully relieved for the unexpected and unknowing interjection from the redheaded vixen at that moment. He really didn’t know how to explain what he had just said to his employer.

Not ta me ya don’t, Rebecca repeated his words in her head. Somehow, that statement made her feel intensely warm and giddy all over and her knees almost turned to jelly, just like she did up on deck at the star-gazing session they had together last night. She quickly cleared her throat a bit nervously and tried to hold the flashlight properly that suddenly got all sweaty in her palms.  

 

 

Kit was aghast by what Melita had just told him as they made their way to the Prowler’s batteries. “Karnage used to be part of the Order of the Guardians??!”

“Well…one of many. We have several classes of Guardians with different insignias, but we all carry the same eight-pointed cross plus several chapters worldwide after the secularization of our property around the time of the Gaullist Revolution. After the Neapolitan Wars, under the Prussian ruler Frederick William IV; the Order was given a new confraternity around 1852. Admission was subjected to a number of conditions, ancient nobility, a corresponding social position and four years probation as a Guardian of Honour – plus a hefty fee – before becoming the high rank of Guardian of Justice. The first obligation was to collect contributions for the support of hospitals, which was the original idea of the first Grand Leader during the Crusades and have been doing for the last sixty-nine years – providing medical aid.”

“Where does Karnage fit in?”

“He came from a long line of nobility in Andorra and traditionally followed in those footsteps as an auspiciously secret member, that is, until…something happened to him.”

“What was it?”

“I don’t know. Once he was a young and skilled pilot in the Great War, fighting with the Allies. According to one report he was shot down over enemy lines and while trapped there, he was caught in a horrible sour gas attack in the trenches where he was found. He was nursed back to health, but he was never the same Don Juan Carlos again. The war had,” the she-canine paused and then said: “…changed him.” 

DonJuan Carlos???

“Karnage started to become erratic in his behaviour, wanting more prestige and felt it was being denied to him by the Guardians. Then he started to do a little digging into his family’s past that held a…dark secret. Of one Don Garbajo.”  
            A chill ran up Kit’s spine. “Karnage’s great uncle.”

Don Garbajo was Karnage’s ancestor who had been the terror of the skies during the early part of the century just as the dream of aviation had been born and after the Wrightly Brothers invented the airplane. He plundered countless countries and people in his infamous airship, the Pillager Queen before it crashed into Mount Koldernhec twenty-five years ago. He, Baloo and Wildcat were on a routine cargo run to Thembria over eight months prior to deliver, of all the crazy things, refrigerators when they were forcibly commandeered by Colonel Spigot to salvage the ship and its stolen booty frozen into the mountainside until the Air Pirate leader himself came around to claim his “family heirlooms.”  While they all managed to outwit Karnage and save the day, it had been one difficult affair that he’d rather forget.

“Exactly,” continued Melita. “First, he started to embezzle a huge amount of money from the Order and clandestinely created his own gang of pirates. But before we knew that had been going on, he had helped to organize a raid with the Guardians on the secret Iberian base at Isla de Alboran-over where the Nationalist rebel leader Francisco Francoroni; now the dictator of Iberia, had a secret airship he had built in which he was planning to use against the republic in their Civil War. We overcame them to help the Republic and hopefully destroy the ship, but Karnage used us as pawns. He already had his own men in the Nationalist army on that base, ready to turn sides on his command. His pirates fought us and helped him steal the dirigible, announcing that he was no longer Don Juan Carlos of the Guardians of Molta –rechristening himself as a corruption on his last name – but now, Karnage.”

“The Iron Vulture,” muttered Kit.

“Many Guardians were betrayed and killed that day,” the Moltese said quite bitterly now, her voice catching. “One of them…was my father.”

Kit fell silent. Now he understood everything.

“My mother died of a broken heart when she heard the news that Papa was gone, leaving my brother and I orphans among the other widows and children without fathers now,” she said darkly. “When we found out that he’d drained the Order a substantial amount, we had to rebuild on what was left of our funds to keep our Mission going. Karnage is a sworn enemy of the Order of the Guardians. Personally, I want his head on a spike and displayed in the Grand Hall, rotting away into nothingness…”

“I’m so sorry, Melita…I know how that feels.”

“How could you possibly know how I feel?” said the she-canine in disbelief.

The navigator wanted to tell her that he too was an orphan with no family of his own until he ran into Baloo, Rebecca, Molly, Wildcat and Louie, how he felt betrayed by Karnage who promised him that the Air Pirates would be like a family to him, only to become disillusioned within a year after joining them. He could understand her anger against the thief who stole more than just loot and lives, but other people’s dreams as well. But this wasn’t the time to go into his life story now. They had a job to do first.

 “Not now,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ll tell you some other time, when this is all over.” The real reason he couldn’t go into details was that they had finally reached the battery section of the Prowler. Looking around, the navigator said: “Ooookaay…which one will do?”

 “For goodness sake, Kit!” Melita spoke in a low harsh tone. “This isn’t some radio quiz show studio that we’re in!”

“But we’ve got to find one that’s supplied with enough shells to hit the Iron Vulture. A couple of rounds ought to do it. Check to see which one’s loaded.”

A couple of open-door checks lead to turret Number Four. Quickly closing the door, Kit got down to the operation at hand.

“Alright now, here’s how it goes:” he said nervously and excitedly at the same time. “Open tube, place shell, then powder keg behind it, close, lock…” He followed these remembered instructions as he loaded up the cannon and concluded upon shutting the tube: “…and it’s ready to blow.”

“Great. Now, if we can only get the power back on.”

The young bear searched on the side of the wall and found a small panel. “Knowing Khan, these things usually have an auxiliary power line. If I can hotwire this baby, we’re in business!”

As he opened it and started working on re-routing the wires, he wondered to himself, Let Baloo and Becky be okay…please…

 

 

Thunk!

“Great!” Katie exclaimed. “One down, one to go!”

One of the screws from the September Weed’s vault hatch fell to the floor and rolled towards Rebecca’s feet. The temperature inside the vault had achieved an uncomfortably warm level due to the sunrays baking on the hull outside the ship and the heat coming from the three occupants’ bodies. Baloo had already unbuttoned his shirt, while Katie undid a couple of buttons on her khaki shirt and had thrown away her pith helmet with perspiration gathering at her brow plus the businesswoman did the same with her blouse buttons; smacking her flashlight in her palm a bit which was starting to flicker weakly.

“Better hurry, Katie,” the she-bear said. “We don’t have an awful lot of juice left in these.”

“Can’t we take a break?” whined the grey bear a bit. “My shoulders are killin’ me.” Man, this gal oughta go on a diet!

“No!” the vixen protested. “We can’t stop now! We’ve got one more to do.”

“Okay, okay,” he grunted warily. “One more.”

Shuffling his feet carefully, the pilot with Katie on his shoulders ambled over to the other screw. As she did her work, he didn’t want to spend any more time in silence, so he decided to bring up a particularly touchy subject that had been nagging at his brain recently.

Might as well be straight an’ to the point…“Hey, Katie…what was ol’ Karny goin’ on ‘bout ya sinkin’ this ship back there?”

Hearing that, the archaeologist almost lost her balance.

“Baloo, please!” she huffed impatiently, placing a hand on the ceiling to steady herself. “I’m trying to concentrate here, thank you!!”

“Now looky here, Red,” the large bear began sternly, “you an’ I go way back…If there’s anythin’ you’ve been hidin’ from us ‘bout this, I wanna know right now. Mebbe we can help ya out.”

“And why should I tell you?!”

“‘Cos I thought we were friends…friends are supposed ta trust one another, help each other out an’ stick through thick an’ thin....now, ya tol’ me when we were dancin’ back at the Copabanana that you could trust me with anythin’. If now’s the time to tell me, this is as good as any.”

The vixen was taken aback by his words, but none more so than the she-bear herself. Friends are supposed ta trust one another, help each other out an’ stick together through thick an’ thin. Didn’t he say this once on one of their earlier dinner dates before that Starrywood hussy Kitten Kaboodle almost wrecked their relation…um, friendship?

I wonder if he uses that line on women all the time? Rebecca thought angrily for some unexplained reason.

Katie felt guilty. What he said was true. For a long time she had issues dealing with trust, in particular with men with one-track minds; that shunted her away from making friends with anyone. And now that she had earned a level of trust with the people now trapped with her in the same place, that particular question had been weighing on her conscience for many years.

It’s time to fess up and set your mind free, Kathleen…no use for secrets, especially now…

“You…you’re right, Baloo…I-I’m sorry,” she sighed and then continued on with her work on the final screw. “You see…when Karnage had taken over the September Weed, it was my responsibility for the security of the Cache of Molta. I was completely in charge of everything.”

“So you’ve told us,” panted Rebecca. “What’s that got to do with it?”

“Obviously, I didn’t want the Air Pirates getting their stinking paws on it, so…I locked up the vault and decided at the time that I’d make sure one way or another, Karnage wasn’t going to get the absolute satisfaction of nabbing it.”

“An’ howja do that?”
            “This ship had just come back from North Afurca , delivering a supply of weapons for Francoroni when he was in the planning stages of launching the Iberian Civil War in mainland Zoorope for a stockpile to be used about five years later. I noticed before casting-off from Velveeta that there was a leftover crate of bazookas and rocket grenades and made note of it, just in case something happened on route. Before I made my escape and got cornered by the pirates…I grabbed one of them and used it on this ship.”

“You mean…you actually blew up this ship on purpose?!!” the businesswoman gasped. “How could you?!!” I knew she was trouble! I just knew it!!

“Oh, come on, Rebecca,” snapped Katie. “Desperate times called for desperate measures! The Cache was the ultimate find for any archaeologist’s career! Knowing Karnage, he’d have sold it off to some unscrupulous buyers in private collections worldwide or even worst, kept some of it for himself by now!”

“Still, other people could have been killed, if not yourself! How could you have been so reckless?!”

Baloo felt a bit agitated by that statement, thinking: An’ this is comin’ from a gal that had me runnin’ a mid-flight gas station, tradin’ the lease to the Sea Duck fer collateral purposes to a buncha swindlers, huntin’ fer ostrich feathers while duckin’ some hot an’ bothered nomads an’ gatherin’ truffles from those pig-hatin’ Zilbaldo natives, among the other crazy things she’s done?...

“Becky, this really ain’t the time fer one of yer lectures –!”

“Stay out of this, Fly Boy!”

“Who are you, my conscience?!” snarled the vixen. “I didn’t have a better idea at the time! And there is a lot more at stake here than just a few priceless trinkets being stolen, sister!”

“Oh really?” the businesswoman retorted doubtfully. “Like what?”

“Would you believe…the key to eternal life?”

 

                                    End of Part Seventeen  

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