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 creations 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 TWENTY-ONE

 

As the Con-Wing L-19 soared higher and higher away from the S.S. Prowler, Kit’s heart was still beating faster than the plane’s propellers themselves. He was flying by himself! Him –flying the legendary Sea Duck – by himself!

“Kit! You did it! We’re free!” shouted Molly.

Hooray, thought Melita with dizzying uneasy, trying to keep her stomach down as she made her way towards the cockpit.

“Yeah, but we’re not out of the woods yet, Molly! We still have Baloo, your mom and Katie back there, not to mention that the Prowler’s in Karnage’s hands – Melita, better call that brother of yours for help!”

“Right!” said the Moltese, reaching for the hand receiver, adjusting the frequency. Turning on the hand console, she called out: “Ahmar Hafif! I repeat, this is a “Red Light” alert! This is Melita Ducina calling the Kerrew or Abulafia, please respond – over!”

There was silence for a few seconds before a Moltese dialect came over the transmitter. “This is Moltese Guardian Amante, calling Melita. State your position please. Over.”

Relieved, she answered: “Amante, this is Melita! We’ve got Air Pirates in control of the Prowler! The Cache has been recovered, but the Prowler’s captain and crew have been overpowered by the pirates. We must retake the ship immediately! Over!”

“Then where are you? Over.”

“I’m on the Sea Duck. We’ve managed to escape with two others on board and are trying to get back to Molta. Over.”

We? Who’s we? Over.”

“Kit Cloudkicker, two others and myself! He’s flying the plane! Over!”

A chortle came over the receiver. “You’re telling me that boyfriend of yours can fly? Are you pulling my leg? Over.”

Kit looked at the she-canine, not knowing whether she was blushing from Amante’s arrogant disbelief or the fact that he referred to him as the boyfriend. Grabbing the hand console, from her, Kit barked out: “Look, Amante or whoever the heck you are! We’ve got a real problem here! Does she sound like she’s ordering a pizza?!”

“I’ll take over, Amante,” said a commanding voice, cutting in. “Young sire, this is Jordan Ducina, Grand Leader of the Guardians of Molta, over.”

“Your brother, I take it?” Kit asked Melita.

“Yes.”

“I’ll have you know that we will save the Cache of Molta, but your…precious Prowler is not in our interest, I’m afraid, over.”

 Not in your interest?” cried Kit. “But our friends! They’re on board! You’ve got to save them! I’m begging you – please!” He tried hard to choke back the sob rising in his throat.

“Why should I save the lives of thieves, Cloudkicker? Over.” Jordan said coldly.

He was about to protest when Melita abruptly took the hand console from him and said: “Now, listen to me, Jordan! The archaeologist, her companions and the Prowler crew are not thieves! They’re risking their lives to protect our national treasure! And they’ve already risked their lives to save my own – twice! Over!”

“Melita! Are you alright?! Please tell me that you are” There was a deep and genuine brotherly concern coming from his voice. “We saw some action that occurred onboard from the Kerrew – were you hurt?! Over!”

“I’m okay; really…they’re here to help us. I owe them a debt, Jordan . Let us redeem the good name of the Guardians once again on the island. It’s been far too long we’ve been disgraced. Over.”

Silence fell over the radio at that moment. Kit and Melita looked at each other, hoping that their words held effect while behind them were Myra and Molly listening to the radio tête-à-tête, waiting with baited breath.

 “This is even better than one of our radio dramas back home,” commented the Aridian archaeologist.

“Or one of Mom’s soap operas,” added Molly.

Jordan ’s voice came back over the radio. “I…I owe you a debt as well, Cloudkicker, more than you can imagine. We will help the Prowler and your friends, I promise. We’ll be there in about ten to twelve minutes and do whatever we can, over.”

“And we’ll get help as fast as possible,” said Kit. “And Jordan ?”

“Yes?”

“If you find Baloo, tell him…tell him that his Li’l Britches sent you to him, my Papa Bear. Good luck…and thank you. Sea Duck, over and out.”

“Take care of yourself and my sister, Kit. Ghal il Misser, Salib u Molta – for the Father, Cross and Molta. Kerrew, over and out.”

As the radio clicked off, everyone on board sighed in relief. Bullets then raked the sky and ricocheted off the plane’s hull, shattering the tranquility of the moment.

“Air Pirates!” screamed Kit.

 

   

With Baloo in the lead, he guided Rebecca and Katie through the first deck breach of the September Weed now fully submerged, trying to prevent their support line from being tangled up in the mess of burnt, gnarled wood and twisted steel that protruded from almost everywhere. But he knew they had little time – or air – to spare, so the he quickly swam using whatever light that could lead him and the women to the final hole that spelled their freedom from an underwater mausoleum.

Rebecca felt a bit panicky at first as she cleared the next hole, but began to concentrate on her swimming, yet she was even more surprised by one other thing: As big as he was, Baloo was an incredibly good swimmer.  And for all years she’d spent digging on dry land, Katie didn’t want to admit to the others that her aquatic skills were a on the rusty side plus she had a bit of an aversion to swimming in large bodies of water after her last visit here in these waters, fearing it might impede their escape. But she decided to wing it and place her trust that Baloo’s plan would work, rather than let the Cache of Molta stay in Don Karnage’s hands…

The moment the three had cleared the last hull breach, their lungs were already constricting for air. The ace pilot had spotted the cable running upwards and made a mad swim for it along with the others. He then gripped the cable that seemingly burned his hand from the friction. Wincing from the pain, he felt frantic for a moment on what to do next.

Then it came to him.

Quickly dislodging his pilot’s hat from the confines of the bounded wire wrapped around his middle, Baloo again reached out with the cap covering his hands, tightly gripped the fast-moving cable for a split second and…whoosh! The speed of the cable almost startled them, that they almost lost their breaths. Rocketing to the surface, the vixen took one last look below at the September Weed, which was now disappearing and breaking up in pieces into the sea’s darkness. She felt a shiver run through her body and it wasn’t from the coldness of the water surrounding her…

In a dance of sparkling sunlight and gurgling bubbles surrounding all around them, as if lifting them to the surface; they finally broke free of the water, choking and gratefully gasping the fresh air now filling their lungs painfully.

Rebecca!…Katie!…” Baloo sputtered and coughed. “Y-y-you gals alright?!?” Man, I sure ain’t gonna be thirsty for a week!

 The she-bear coughed heavily before turning to his voice.

“Baloo!” she called out weakly. Swimming towards her pilot, Rebecca clung onto him like a life preserver and panted with a few coughs in-between: “Oh, B-b-baloo! W-w-when we get back home n-n-not only am I g-going to raise your s-s-salary, I-I-I’m going treat to the best m-m-meal…y-y-you ever had in your whole life!”

“Gee! Thanks, Boss Lady!”

Just then, Katie swam towards the two and threw her arms around Baloo’s neck as well, also coughing a bit in the process.

 “Baloo, y-y-you may not be any M-m-middle-of-the-Roads scholar, b-b-but if they ever had the One-bel Prize for r-r-resourcefulness, you’d have my v-v-vote any day of the week…and tw-tw-twice on Sundays!”

Wow, he thought happily. Two gals fer the price o’ one!

The businesswoman was too drained to react to Katie’s hug or even the look of admiration she was giving him, so she let it pass but then pondered aloud: “Wait a minute…if you’re bigger and heavier than us, Baloo…how is it possible for us to stay on top of the water with both of us clinging onto you?”

Her pilot thought about that briefly and then answered with a proud grin: “Simple, Becky…fat floats.”

 Rebecca rolled her eyes. “Now why didn’t I see that one coming?”

I will never say anything about this man’s weight ever again as long as I live…

“Never mind the science lessons, people,” said Katie irascibly. “We’ve got pirates to stop!”

“Now whoa there, Red! We gotta have a plan. Let’s look at the situation we’re in first.”

“Baloo’s right, Katie. Look up in the sky – it’s the Iron Vulture! Who knows how many pirates may be onboard that aerodrome or even on the Prowler!”

“An’ didja notice that somebody took a few shots at Karny’s bird? Not ta mention there’s smoke comin’ from both the ship an’ the Vulture. Some kinda fight musta happened while we were down below!”

“I hope Kit and Myra are okay if there was some battle on the ship,” the vixen said worriedly. “But we can’t just float about aimlessly like this!”

“May we be of assistance?” said a voice from behind them.

The startled trio somehow managed to spin around to find themselves facing two small fishing vessels, the Kerrew and Abulafia, filled with men carrying scabbards and swords. Among them, cutting a heroic pose in their view was a tall, trim and incredibly handsome Moltese wearing a goatee and drooping moustache that made the she-bear’s heartstrings go zing in an instant.

Ohmigosh! Rebecca thought dreamily. He looks just like Errol Schwinn!... 

“I must say, escaping from that sinking ship was quite an impressive endeavour there,” he continued admiringly at the survivors. “When we saw the September Weed disappear beneath the surface, we’d feared the worse. You’re some piece of work.”

Who the heck are you?!” demanded the archaeologist sharply.

The Moltese canine gave a low, respectful bow. “Jordan Ducina, Grand Leader of the Guardians of Molta at your service, Doctor Dodd. We are here to help.”

“The…Guardians of Molta? But…but they disbanded ages ago!”

“We quietly regrouped since that time, my dear Doctor. It’s quite a long story, believe me.”

“How do we know yer here ta help us?” said the pilot suspiciously.

Jordan gave him a warm smile. “I assume that you are Baloo, correct?”

“Yeah, ya assumed correct…what’s it to ya, pal?”

“I was given a message from a Kit Cloudkicker for you.”

Kit?! What did he say? Is he alright?”

“He said, ‘Tell Papa Bear that Li’l Britches sent us.’”

The grey pilot grinned. “‘Kay…that’s ‘nuff proof fer me. So, what’s da story?”

“First, I think all three of you need to get out of the water before you catch your death of cold – and to devise a plan of action before we explain everything else to you, sir.”

Still transfixed on the leader of the Guardians, Rebecca had already untied herself during the conversation and broke away from Baloo and Katie and quickly swam towards the Kerrew, much to her companions’ astonishment. Jordan gallantly took the she-bear’s willing hand as she reached out towards him, pulled her out of the water and onto the boat where their eyes met with hers.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss…”

“Rebecca…” she breathed with a brightened smile on her face. “Rebecca Cunningham.” But you can call me “yours”  

Baloo didn’t like the look his employer was giving toward the newcomer, reminding him of those times she made gaga eyes at Captain Stansbury or that smooth criminal Covington . It gave him such a gnawing feeling deep inside that he couldn’t explain.

“Oh, brother…” he grumbled contemptuously as he swam towards the fishing boat with Katie swimming by his side. An’ she talks ‘bout me fallin’ fer pretty faces? Huh! Already she’s got “Pretty Boy” over there on the brain!

 

 

 

“Air Pirates!” Kit screamed as four of Don Karnage’s airmen out of the blue attacked the Sea Duck. Cutting to some basic aerial manoeuvres, he tried to get out of their deadly line of fire from all around as Molly, Myra and Melita took to their seats.

Okay, loudmouth, he thought, you’ve seen ol’ Papa Bear strut his stuff…now it’s time to strut your own!

The young pilot trainee dipped below to duck a hail of bullets, then swooped portside going into a three hundred and sixty-five-degree roll, managing to avoid a new onslaught of hot lead.

“Woo-hooo!” exclaimed Molly excitedly. “This even better than flying with Baloo!”

“Easy…for…you…to…say!” gritted Melita through her teeth, as she clamped on both armrests of the window seat she was sitting in for dear life, her faced drained of all colour, even for one with grey-white fur.

“You’ve…never flown before, have you?” queried Myra with worry.

“Does it show?!” groaned the Moltese sarcastically. I just hope my shorts will stay dry until this is over!

With horror, Melita looked through the window and saw one of the pirates fired on the Con-Wing’s right flank. It snapped her out of her nauseated fear, made her leave her seat and started running back the cockpit, then went over to the pilot’s window and saw another pirate plane on the left.

“What are you doing?!” said Kit. “I’m trying to fly here, thank you!”

“Shut up! Have you got any flare guns?”

“There should be a couple in that compartment there.” He gestured to the navigator’s side. “Why?”

Rushing over, the she-canine opened the compartment and pulled out two flare guns, each loaded with a flare cartridge; stating: “I’ve got a plan.”

The Sea Duck then started to drop speed and two flanking pirates noticed this, decided to go in for the kill. They increased theirs with confidence, gaining on the seaplane ever so closely.

“Myra!” shouted Melita from the cockpit. “I need you for something. Hurry!”

“Coming!”

“Me too!” said Molly.

No, Molly!” the Moltese responded sharply. “Stay where it’s safe!”

“But I wanna help!” she protested, until a couple of bullets ricocheted nearby made her reassess the situation and ducked down. “Then, again – why do you need me for?!”

After explaining her plan to Myra , Melita clicked the flare gun and looked deadpan at the petite archaeologist, saying as she handed it over into her open hands: “I hope you know how to use one of these things.”

The Aridian gave the flare gun an uneasy look. “Not exactly…but I can learn real fast!”

Closer and closer, the two aerial corsairs prepared to lock in on their target. Melita and Myra began to perspire, with the Moltese crossing herself and mumbling a quick prayer under her breath. Kit did the same thing as well.

Myra was surprised. “Kit, I thought you told me awhile ago you were agnostic.”

“Gave it up for Lent,” replied the young pilot nervously.

“Get ready, Doctor,” announced Melita tersely. As the pirates reached behind the Sea Duck’s wings ready to shoot at will, both cockpit windows rolled down rapidly. The she-canine then shouted: “Now!!”

Aiming for their engines, both the she-canine and vixen fired their flare guns at their respective targets. Penetrating their fuselages, the flare cartridges ignited into a colourful explosion, blowing apart their engines. As the two disabled planes hurtled their way down toward the Sub-Mediterranean, the seaplane pulled ahead as the two women hugged each other in self-celebration, with a cheer from Molly in the back.

But it was interrupted by the banging and slamming of what sounded like the side door of the plane opening. Then suddenly the cockpit door flew open with two scruffy, mean-looking Air Pirates who had managed to jump onto the Con-Wing before their planes exploded; one a coyote carrying a shotgun, the other a wolverine with a machete, standing in the doorway with their horrible weapons at the ready.

The Moltese Dame-in-training didn’t waste her time to get into a defensive position. She charged with a loud growl at the coyote with a rugby-style tackle into the passenger area and a slug into his stomach, which astonished Kit. But what really caught him off-guard was Myra ’s reaction. Quickly spotting a broom standing against the wall next to her, the archaeologist snatched it as she ducked the machete-wielding wolverine’s lethal swing. Then she took a mighty swipe at his weapon that knocked it clean out of his hands, following an upper cut to the chin with the bristle end that sending him reeling backwards out of the cockpit.

“Myra !!” Kit exclaimed. “I thought you told me you were a pacifist!”

“Gave it up for Lent!” she snarled as she ran out of the cockpit with broom still in hand, going after the invader. “Keep flying the plane!”

Melita was still wrestling with the other brigand in the aisle trying to get the shotgun clutched in his hands with great ferocity, when her opponent swung a right hook that struck her on the side of her face and knocked her off of her feet. The coyote then aimed his firearm and shot at Melita, but she managed to roll away from it just in time, missing her.

Meanwhile, the wolverine was dodging the business end of Myra ’s broom bristles. In one of her further swipes; he grabbed the shaft with both hands and proceeded to struggle a bit, then shoved the petite Aridian against the wall of the plane, pinning her so hard that she couldn’t move.

Kit watched all of this with great anxiety and helplessness. He wanted to go help them, but he couldn’t find the “autopilot” in the messed-up cockpit and with him dealing with the other two remaining Air Pirates still shooting at him plus his head was starting to feel light, who would fly the Sea Duck amidst the calamity that swirled around him?...

Myra began to choke as the wolverine pirate was now strangling her with the broom shaft closing her throat and was turning blue and purple in the face, her feet kicking uselessly. The pirate sadistically chuckled at her weakening until she barely managed to unblock the shaft from her windpipe, made a deep hoarse gasp for air and then lunged at the wolverine’s nearest wrist with a great big chomp. The brigand loudly howled in agonizing pain as Myra’s teeth sunk deeper into his wrist, clenching as tight as her jaws would go, only to be knocked loose when he struck her a hard blow, sending her flying across the cargo hold, tearing off fur and a piece of flesh, making her nose bleed after slamming onto the deck.

“Arrgh!” the pirate growled angrily, clutching at his fresh wound. “I can’t believe you bit me!”

“Neither do I! Ptui!” replied the Aridian, coughing and profusely spitting out a mixture of the furred flesh chunk and blood out of her mouth in complete disgust. “I’m a vegetarian!”

Yuck! And he needed a bath, too!

The coyote pirate with the shotgun prepared to fire at Melita again when out of nowhere Molly jumped from behind and pulled down hard on his pilot’s cap over his eyes, blinding him. Struggling to get the younger girl off his head, the Moltese ran up to the gun barrel and pushed it upwards. At that moment, the gun discharged and sent a bullet ricocheting off the Sea Duck’s ceiling, deck and walls indiscriminately until – in a million-in-one chance – struck the back ramp lever, activating it open and causing a vacuum inside the cargo hold, shaking the seaplane violently, sucking out a few boxes and cargo netting out the back.

Melita quickly grabbed onto one of the secured seats tenaciously with the wind whipping violently around her, gnashing her teeth and shutting her eyes tight, trying to keep her vertigo under control but the other occupants weren’t as fortunate.

Molly, Myra and the two Air Pirates were bouncing off the deck and walls a few times before tumbling into the blue vastness of the stratosphere, filling the air with their shrieks and screams along with the howling wind. All the navigator-cum-pilot could do was look on in absolute horror, knowing it was way too late to close the rear ramp control upfront as he yelled out at the top of his lungs:

“MOLLY! MYRA ! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

 

   

Molly and Myra saw a dizzying array of images as they found themselves bumping and falling out the back of the Sea Duck’s back ramp along with the invading Air Pirates that boarded the Con-Wing.

But the vixen acted fast, despite losing her glasses and pith helmet in the mêlée; by grabbing onto the sisal cargo netting that was hanging from the ramp’s edge that miraculously secured itself there with a tangle of boxes within, praying it would hold until she got back safely inside. She could see Molly coming in her direction as well as the shotgun-toting pirate. The Aridian reached out and managed to grab the screeching girl just in the nick of time as the coyote brigand wildly hurtled downwards, howling all the way.

Kit looked back and was greatly relieved that the two were still alive, but he had to move quickly. He called out to the Moltese Dame who was still holding onto one of the seats: “Melita! Melita!! Molly and Myra are hanging onto the edge! Grab that towrope over there and hook it onto the end and I’ll be able to pull them in!”

“I-I-I c-c-can’t!” she wailed, tears streaming from her eyes. “I-I-I’m scared!

“Of course you can! Just reach over to the towrope and hook it on! It’s easy!”

“Says you! You don’t have to fight vertigo!”

“You what!

Vertigo, you idiot! I get real dizzy from heights! It’s so bad I can’t even stand on a stepladder without fainting!”

Oh, swell – now you tell me! “You must have some kind of control over it, don’t you?!”

“Counting thirty backwards in Molti helps – sometimes!”

“Look, you gotta do this! Just do the countdown, focus on the hook and don’t look down! Please, Melita! They’re counting on us! Please!”

The she-canine gulped hard, took a deep breath and quickly ran over towards the towrope. Grabbing the hook, she turned to the open rear door and immediately panicked at the sight of the expansive blue sky and seawaters below.

Concentrate…she told herself. Just count down like Jordan taught you to…tletin…ghoxrin-disgha…ghoxrin-tmienja…ghoxrin-sitta…

Melita proceeded to the edge of the ramp very carefully as Kit raised it to an even level for her to walk on. Still counting mentally, the Moltese managed to latch the hook onto the cargo netting tightly by looping it twice then clasping it into a tight bond.

“Ok-k-kay, Kit!” she called out. “R-r-reel them in!”

Myra looked up and noticed what was happening as she was still holding onto Molly, as the archaeologist felt her grip on the coarse netting material was numbing her fingers. She then said to her: “Molly! Go climb up to that crate and wait while they tow us back inside! I’ll be right behind you – you’ll be safer!”

The she-bear cub looked where the vixen wanted her to go. “Which crate?”

“The one marked ‘orange pekoe tea’ on it!”

“Oh!” she exclaimed when she finally saw it, but then noticed that the wording on the crate in question was twisted and tangled up in the netting wasn’t right-side up; and asked in amazement: “You can read upside down?!”

“Believe me, it’s a talent,” the archaeologist replied in exasperation. “Now please, honey, hurry!

“Okay,” answered Molly as she hesitantly let go of Myra and began to climb up the netting and up to the box. The Aridian waited for her to get a bit up further when she suddenly felt a very tight grasping on her left ankle digging into her flesh that it made her yelp out in surprise.

 Looking down, her heart leaped into her throat when she saw that it was the wolverine Air Pirate she had bitten during the struggle onboard with an even leaner and hungrier look in his eyes while brandishing a serrated army knife in the other hand.

Molly had looked back upon hearing the archaeologist’s yelp and shrieked in horror to see the pirate and his threatening blade. With a fierce growl, the wolverine swung wildly at the vixen’s leg but kept missing within centimetres of getting at her. The jostling movement on the netting also made it dangerous, as it just slipped a little bit downward, threatening to loosen the hook and towrope trying to bring them back in.

“Keep climbing, Molly!” shouted Myra frantically. “Don’t look back!”

The girl tried to do as she was told but had to stop, afraid she’d lose her grip on the netting. Melita saw the trouble out there and called out to her: “C’mon, Molly! Climb up to me and I’ll grab you!!”

“What ‘bout Myra ?!?”

“She’s giving you a chance, girl! Now, hurry!!”

“Alright!!” she replied with great reluctance and went onward as best she could.

Stop shaking us, you fool!!” shouted the vixen, as the pirate continued to swing his knife at her. “You’ll kill us all!”

“Not necessarily!” said the pirate with a hint of sadistic glee and managing to pull himself up a bit higher on her shin, “I only have to kill you!!”

He made another stab at her with the blade, just making a small slice on Myra’s lower calf that not only made her bite her lip from crying out and tighten her grip even more, it also made her incredibly angry. With that, she managed to kick the corsair’s hand, making the knife to go flying out of his grip with her free foot then gave him another swift kick across the chin that left him a bit stunned. Gritting her teeth savagely, the Aridian began slamming his face repeatedly with the heel of her foot and grunted with every strike she made, determined to get rid of this hanger-on.

Ihave hadenoughofyou!!!

On the final punctuated word and stomp, Myra ended up smashing the bridge of the wolverine’s muzzle that forced him to loosen his grip on her shin in a hair-raising scream and sent him hurtling after his partner’s fate down towards the waters below.

At that moment, the exhausted vixen felt a tug, followed by a pulling of the netting retracting into the Sea Duck with bullets from the remaining flying Air Pirates all about them, where she saw Molly being helped inside by Melita when she got close enough to grab her wrist, much to her great relief. Finally, the archaeologist was taken inside that the golden-furred bear pushed the rear door lever to close and was helped up by the Moltese Dame.

“Good gravy, you’re bleeding,” she said, looking at her bleeding calf as they walked over to the nearest seat and sat her down.

“I’m okay, really.”

“Okay, nothing, I’m going to tend to it. Molly, go grab the first aid kit from my satchel.”

The she-bear cub nodded and scampered off to the satchel, got the medical kit from it, racing back to them and then asked as Melita started working on the archaeologist’s wound: “What happened to that Air Pirate?”

Myra smirked, despite herself. “I gave him the boot.”

The ladies then heard a new barrage of bullet fire in the air, a shattering of some glass and sparks striking on metal, to which Molly rushed towards the cockpit.

“We got more company?” she asked Kit.

“You bet your sweet pigtails we do – everybody, take your seats! We’re gonna do some flying now!”

The two remaining pilots fired at the plane in revenge for their recently disposed-of comrades. Turning his navigator cap upfront, Kit gripped the controls and sharply pulled up a three hundred and sixty-five degree loop, coming down at a forty-five-degree left tilt toward one of the Air Pirates.

“Kit!” hollered Melita. “You’re going to hit that plane!”

“Ex-actly,” he muttered coolly, remaining unfazed. Please let me get this right!

The pirate in Kit’s pathway saw the Sea Duck coming at full speed. He tried to get out of his way, but the yellow plane was much too quick. The Con-Wing just clipped the targeted pirate’s wing, spinning wildly out of control and crashing into the sea.

“Yeah!” he shouted, fighting off a wave of dizziness but retaining his consciousness.

“Good one!” Molly congratulated him.

Super,” Melita groaned again, trying not to get sick. If I live through this, I’m never going up on another plane ever again!

The last pirate fighter plane remaining shot across the young pilot’s view, almost making him lose control with him exclaiming: “Jeez Louise! That guy almost got us that time!”

Doing some textbook moves and a few improvised ones, Kit ducked and dodged the rival’s bullets fair enough but tried as he might, he couldn’t completely shake off his aerial adversary.

“Man! I can’t get rid of this one!” he admitted aloud. “This guy’s good!

“I see a ship, Kit!” Molly shouted. “I see a ship! Maybe they can help us!”

“Where?” he said desperately, worn out from fatigue and his head wound.

“I see it too!” said Myra . “It looks military! Pull to starboard!”

Following their directions, Kit flew starboard and saw what the others had seen – a large, flattop-decked battleship right out in the middle of the Sub-Mediterranean. His hopes escalated with delight.

“That definitely looks like a naval ship! I’m gonna call for help!”

Clicking on the radio and hand console, he called out: “Mayday! Mayday! This is the Sea Duck – require assistance immediately! Over!”

A voice returned Kit’s call. “State the nature of the emergency, Sea Duck. Over.”

“I got an Air Pirate on my tail and he gonna turn me into Switz cheese! Over!”

On board the military ship, the communications officer turned to his superior. “Sir?” the panther crewman asked him.

“Take the hostile out,” ordered the commander.

“Aye, sir! Battery number two, fire on the hostile aircraft – avoid the yellow airplane!”

“Aye, sir!”

The military sea craft fired two missiles at the Air Pirate, narrowly hitting the Sea Duck. Luckily, the navigator pulled a double forward roll, avoiding the missiles. Seeing he was way out of his league with the heavily-armoured sea vessel, the flying corsair retreated into the late afternoon horizon.

“Hey! You almost targeted me back there!” Kit snapped over the radio.

“Our apologies, young Cloudkicker,” spoke a voice of cool candour and demeanour. “One; you were in the line of fire and two; it appears we need more work on those missiles, over.”

Kit froze. He recognized the voice. “Shere Khan! Is that you?!? Over!”

“Is there any other that you know of? Over.”

It’s Khan alright. “W-w-well…w-what are you doing out here, over?”

“I could ask the same of you, young man. What are you doing flying out here in middle of the Sub-Mediterranean dodging Air Pirates for? And where’s the Prowler, Baloo and the others? Over.”

The young bear wasted no time at all, explaining the situation onboard the Prowler in the shortest of detail as possible.

“Hmm, I see…and you managed to escape from the Air Pirates and took down three enemy planes yourself, over?” Khan inquired. The three ladies had now gathered in the cockpit, listening in. Kit just grinned proudly at his friends.

“Well…I had big help, too, over.”  And then some!

“I’m…impressed,” said the tiger CEO. “Now, you say that the Prowler is under Don Karnage’s control and has the Cache of Molta, over?”

“It will be if we don’t get your ship to come, over!”

“This ship, young sir, is my latest addition to defence to future conflict. This is the aircraft carrier S.S. Swiftsure, carrying the latest weaponry Khan Industries has to offer, over.”

“Can you make it to the Prowler, sir, over?”

“The Swiftsure is quite a fast vessel, but unfortunately not fast enough to reach the others on the time that we need, Master Cloudkicker. However, I do happen to have my Elite Pilot Squadron at the ready onboard, over.”

 “Y-you do? How? Over.”

“Kit, time is of the essence. First, we liberate the Prowler, then your questions will be answered all in good time, over.”

The young pilot sighed, but agreed with him. “Yes, Mister Khan. Over.”

“Now, then…give us the last co-ordinates of the Prowler. It appears that the tracking beacon on the September Weed’s buoy has been deactivated, over.”

Quickly, Kit consulted the map Molly handed over to him and gave the S.S.  Swiftsure the co-ordinates. “About…seventeen degrees latitude, twenty-six longitude west of our position, over.”

“Well done, Master Cloudkicker. As soon as my Elite Pilots are airborne, you can land your plane on the deck for repairs, over.”

As much as the navigator wanted to see the aircraft carrier, he felt his obligation nagged him. “Uh, Mister Khan…I thank you for your offer. But, with great respect and your permission, I’d like to accompany your squadron – only as an observer, over.”

“Young man,” Khan said warningly, “this is not some spectator event we’re dealing with here, over.”

“I-I know that, sir. Believe me, I do. It’s just that…I left behind some very important people back there. We’re okay for now and besides…I want to return back Baloo’s plane,” asked Kit diplomatically. “I…kind of borrowed it, over.”

A short pause filled the radio waves before the tiger had his answer.

“Very well. You may accompany them but for safety’s sake, you must stay out of harm’s way and let my pilots do their work. Over.”

“Yes, sir! You have my word on it. And thank you, Mister Khan. I really owe you one, over.”

“Hmm, yes…you’re welcome,” replied Khan, not knowing if he sounded bemused or embarrassed over the young bear’s profuse gratitude. “Swiftsure, over and out.”

“Sea Duck, over and out.”

Within five minutes, Khan’s Elite Pilot squadron was up in the air from the deck of the Swiftsure and headed out toward the captured Prowler with the Sea Duck keeping a safe distance, all holding muted anxiety over the outcome of this day.

 

 

Ugh! I absolutely hate what seawater does to my hair!” Katie grumbled, wringing her auburn tresses dry as best she could.

After the Guardians of Molta had pulled out Baloo and the archaeologist out from the sea, untangled them from their makeshift support cable and handed them towels to dry off on the Kerrew, their leader Jordan Ducina had briefly explained the current situation that had occurred while they were busy escaping from the September Weed. Rebecca watched the handsome Moltese and clung to his every word with fascination, that made the pilot feel a bit uneasy despite that he was grateful for the help.

“I kinda figgered Kit would find some way ta give ol’ Karny the slip,” he said proudly afterwards, then adding in a melancholic tone: “but did he hafta do it with my plane?”

“Excuse me, Fly Boy,” Rebecca said pointedly, snapping out of her reverie with Jordan . “But it’s my plane that he’s flying in! How could that boy be so reckless –”

“Before you chastise the young man, I’ll have you know that he saved the lives of my sister and Doctor Foxworthy,” defended the Guardian leader. “He deserves some praise, not persecution from his own parents.”

The two bears looked at each other uncomfortably when they heard Jordan refer to them as his parents and felt an explanation was needed.

“Uh, ya see…”

 “Um, w-we’re not his parents…Kit’s an orphan…”

The pilot then added: “But he’s my responsibility, though – ”

“Look, we don’t have time for discussing family ties!” Katie snapped impatiently. “Kit and the others are fine for now! What are we going to do about getting the Cache of Molta back from Karnage?!”

The feline member Micallef held a finger to his lips. “Sssh! Doctor Dodd, the Air Pirates may not be able to see us at this time, but they can probably hear us!”

Oh,” said the vixen in a small voice, suddenly realizing they were in the shadow of the Prowler.

“I swear,” stated the canine leader, “you haven’t changed much since last time.”

Last time? “I’m sorry…have we met before?”

“How soon they forget…remember the Moltese hospital during your recovery eight years ago?”

A swarm of images flooded Katie’s memory in that moment…

 

 

 

The vixen’s body bumped hard against the hull of a boat as she felt being pulled upwards from the cold Sub-Mediterranean waters, reviving the pain in her arm that helped her regain consciousness; she slightly moaned in agony, deliriously looking up at her rescuers and the star-flecked night sky that now appeared before her.

“Sounds like she’s in pain!” said an authoritative voice. “Pull her in easy now, men! Get the stretcher ready!”

“Aye-aye, Grand Leader!”

Heavily saturated from the sea, Katie  dripped all over the deck and still groaned in pain, flitting in and out of consciousness in what was happening to her, coughing up saliva and water. The dislocated shoulder and the trauma of being blown off the September Weed kept her dazed, weak and helpless. She was promptly but gently hauled onto the deck of the boat.

“Goodness gracious,” commented a raccoon sailor. “She looks like her shoulder’s dislocated, Doctor. And check out those burns.”

Burns? Katie thought with fear. Where? Where? Where?...

Another canine looked her momentarily.

“It looks like first-degree burns, Commander. She’s lucky to be alive,” he diagnosed. “We got to give her an anaesthetic so we can be able to take care of her and get her back to the Mission in Velveeta immediately. Are the onboard nurses ready to help her, Grand Leader?”

“They’re at the ready,” responded a Moltese canine, who looked rather young – to Katie – to be a leader of the local Boy Scouts chapter, let alone some group of a sea rescue team. “Let’s get her onto that stretcher, men! One-two-three – liiiiiffft!”

She felt her limp body rise with the hands of two men on each side of her, making her howl as they set her onto the canvas stretcher underneath. It felt reassuringly soft and strong and she let out a feeble sigh of exhaustion. She then felt the sleeve of her good arm being rolled up, pat-dried off with a towel, following a brief but sharp smell of some disinfectant being rubbed on it, possibly isopropyl alcohol stinging her nostrils and olfactory.

“Miss Dodd?” said the canine doctor. “If you can hear me, we’re going to give you an anaesthetic right now so we can help you better, okay? Right now, you’re getting the best care in all of the Sub-Mediterranean. You’ll just feel sleepy – you’re going to be alright now.”

Miss Dodd?....H-how’d they know my name? Katie wondered…

“Karnage…” she moaned deliriously, tears running down her face now.

“Cache…map….Air…Pirates…must…stop them…”

She felt the prick of the cold hypodermic needle sink into her flesh, making her yelp. But soon, she felt rather dizzy and her vision and hearing was becoming all a blur with a snippet of conversion from the rescuers that she managed to make out before losing consciousness again.

“I wonder what caused that explosion out there? Can we get a hold of the crew from that ship?...”

Succumbing to sweet sleepiness, the last thought ran through her mind before a strangely comforting darkness shrouded her and dissolved in her memory.

Master…Yuen…  

 

Back in the present now, Katie slowly turned to Amante, now standing beside her. “You…I recognize you now. You were my nurse.”

“Close. I was your therapist.”        

“I gave you such a hard time back then, didn’t I?” said the archaeologist, a little bit sheepishly.

“Yes, you most certainly did. But it’s good to see you again, Doctor Dodd.”

“Okay, ‘nuff with the reunion, guys,” Baloo said. “Does anybody have a plan on dealin’ with Karny? It’ll be a matter o’ time before he can get the Prowler up an’ runnin’ again, not ta mention the Iron Vulture.”

“Well, the plan was to fight them until some sort of help arrives from Melita and Kit and we hope it will be soon enough,” Jordan answered him.

“Sounds like a plan. Are ya sure yer up fer it, Jordy?”

The Grand Leader of the Guardians of Molta raised a somewhat irritated if amused eyebrow at the pilot at the strange way he was being addressed, especially in front of his men, some of whom started to snicker audibly behind his back, including his racoon second-in-command.

Jordy?”

“Get used to it,” explained Rebecca, somewhat embarrassed.

The canine just rolled his eyes with a slight sigh, but continued. “I assure you, Baloo, the Guardians of Molta are very well prepared to fight the good fight. We’ve been doing it since the Crusades.”

“Hey, show ol’ Baloo the way. Perhaps I can help out with gettin’ Cap’n Hotspur free an’ savin’ the Cache witcha fellas!”

“No, Baloo!” stated Rebecca. “You’re not doing this alone. I’m coming with you!”

“Please,” Amante said. “It would be in the best interest if the men were allowed to handle this situation. You women must stay here where you belong, for your safety.”

“Excuse me?” retorted the businesswoman. “No way, buster! I’m not letting Jordan out of my sight – uh, I mean, my one and only pilot walk into some kind of fight!”

“And count me in, too!” Katie added with equal verve. “I’ve come too darn far to be told to go sit on the sidelines like a ‘good little woman’!”

“Ladies,” began the raccoon sternly, “do you not realise that there are probably dozens of armed and extremely dangerous pirates aboard that ship?!”

The vixen just folded her arms across her chest and grinned sarcastically. “Don’t worry, sweetheart – we won’t let them hurt you.”

Amante’s ego seemed to deflate from that comeback, which both women noted with shameless satisfaction. He quickly turned to give Baloo a helpless glance, only to get an equally helpless shrug from him in return which basically stated he was on their side on the matter.

“Ferget ‘bout it, buddy. No use in arguin’ with these two, even if ya had the time. I oughta know.”

“Very well,” said Jordan , resigned. “It seems we’re all in this fight together. We’ll take on the Air Pirates and save the crewmen. Baloo, Doctor Dodd and Rebecca will see to it that the good captain is rescued and the Cache of Molta is secured. Agreed?”

Everyone nodded.

“Alrighty then,” Baloo said enthusiastically as the Kerrew headed for the boarding jetty and its companion ship, the Abulafia, went in the opposite direction. “Let’s go kick some serious pirate posteriors!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We’ve neutralized all the fires on the Vulture, Cap’n,” reported Second Mate Will to Don Karnage over the crackling portable field phone. “However, engine repairs…are still goin’ on which should take about…a least an hour or two to finish – give or take, sir. Over.”

“And the damage to the port bow propeller, over?”

“We’ve…shut it down completely, as you can probably see from down there….We can fly without it, Cap’n, but…we’re goin’ to have to replace it an’ we used up the repairing material…we had after our raid two weeks ago near Singalongapore. Scotty’s workin’ on the engines right now as we speak, over.”

Then a heavy Scottish burr angrily interrupted over the receiver that said: “Och! I’ve tol’ ye all once before, the name’s Jock! Not Scotty; not JacquesJOCK!!!

“Okay, okay, Jock!”

“Heather Lad o’ Glencairn, to you!”

“Are you still there, Will? Over!”

“Sorry, Cap’n. Got distracted there for a moment, over.”

“Continue with the repairs and contact me when you’ve fixed the engine to the most reasonable conditions. Karnage, over and out!”

“Aye-aye, Cap’n. Second Mate, over an’ out.”

Slamming the field phone down in frustration again, the Air Pirate leader turned back to his lackeys. “Please tell me some good news that plane of Baloo’s has already been shotten down, si?”

“No vord yet, Cap’n,” answered Dumptruck. “We’re still vaitin’ for any news from them.”

“Very well, then. Continue to get these sailor-type personages into the lifeboats as planned!”

“Aye-aye, Cap’n-Cap’n.”

As the Great Dane pirate and the others went to do their assigned task, Karnage scrunched up his eyelids with his left hand and complained loudly, “Why must I always have to be in commanding of such estupid simpletons?!”

“Ya know, Karny…that’s what I sometimes ask that question ‘bout ya myself.”

That voice. That name. Karnage spun around to see the addresser of that statement and was stunned to see that it was his worst fear confirmed…

“YOU!!!”

And standing right behind him from a few paces and looking pretty much drenched – but unfortunately by his standards, still alive – was that fat pilot, the annoying business lady and terribly attractive vixen archaeologist, standing on his newly stolen battleship!

“Why…can’t…you…people…ever…stay…dead?!! Karnage shouted at the trio, while childishly stomping his feet at the same time.

“Aww, we missed you too, Don Gar-bage,” said Rebecca sarcastically.

With his men already gathered around him, the lupine leader unsheathed his cutlass, menacingly pointed it at his opponents and hissed: “I do not know how someone as completely estupid as yourselves, could ever escape!”

Baloo smirked. “Dumb luck?”

“It’ll take more than any kind of luck to get you out of this one!” said Karnage, striding towards him with his armed entourage, ready to do battle. “I’ll make you wish you stayed way down below, Baloo!”

The pilot held up his palms out in a stopping gesture. “Whoa! Hold on there fer a minute, Karny! Like ya always say: ‘There’s no need fer hasty puddin’s! If we’re gonna rumble, let’s make it all fair an’ even-like.”

Even? Of course it is even,” mocked the wolf. “We outnumber you!

The pirates laughed at their leader’s joke, even though Baloo looked at his companions who in turn looked back knowingly.

“Izzat so?” he asked evasively. “Well then, in that case, I’d better break out some party favours, eh, gals?”

“Bring it on, Fly Boy.”

He placed both his forefingers into his mouth and giving a loud, shrill whistle, grappling hooks with ropes attached suddenly sailed over the Prowler’s railings and clung to the edges tightly with twenty Guardians of Molta quickly leaping over them, in addition to the remaining contingent lead by Jordan turning around a corner, armed with pistols, battle swords and shields bearing the Moltese Cross, regrouping right behind the trio in a indomitable show of force.

Karnage gasped in shock while his pirates looked on in a daze: “No! No! It-it can’t be! Can’t be!!

“Karny…I’d like ya ta meet some ex-friends o’ yours which are now our new friends, the Guardians o’ Molta, the original owners o’ the treasure that yer tryin’ ta steal from.”

“I am not believing this! I destroyed you all!”

“Looks like you didn’t try hard enough,” said the businesswoman, “obviously.”

“We meet again, traitor,” Jordan spat out contemptuously. “This time you will not escape justice, Karnage!”

The Air Pirate commander turned to the youthful Grand Leader of the Guardians, cocked an eyebrow and looked puzzlingly at him. “You look familiar. Have I threatened you somewhere before?”

“You should,” growled the Moltese darkly. “You betrayed and murdered my father, right before my eyes.”

Karnage’s eyes widened in remembrance and said in a tiny voice: “Oh…that.”

“Like my ‘neat little trick’ now, Karnage?” scolded Katie, readying to march towards him in furious anger. “I told you I’d get you for this! And I am so going to tear you a brand new – !”

“Hold it, Red! Not jus’ yet,” said the pilot, restraining the archaeologist by the arm, despite the fact he’d love to see her rip their nemesis from limb to limb. “Now here’s the thing, Karny ol’ pal…Katie an’ the Guardians here would very much want that Cache back in their hands. You can do this the hard way or the easy way. You an’ yer motley crew can skedaddle yerselves outta here real peaceful-like, right now.”

“And what is the easy way?”

“Oh – that was the easy way.”

No longer able to retain his anger – or even consider defeat as an honourable option for a pirate of his stature – the wolf just shook with rage and with gritted teeth, snarled out the order for his men to: “CHARRRRRGE!!!”

As the Air Pirates roared to attack them, Baloo calmly turned to Jordan . “Gotta hand it to ‘em, Jordy. These guys are brave, if not stupid.”

“True. But let’s see how skilled combatants they are,” agreed the Grand Leader, also looking at the approaching mob. Shouting at the top of his voice to his league, to which he drew his sword and commanded: “Guardians, Ghal il Misser, Salib u Molta – for the Father, Cross and Molta – fight with honour!

 

End of Part Twenty-One  

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