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 EIGHTEEN

“The…key to eternal life?” Rebecca asked. “What in the world are you talking about?”

“I have another secret to share,” said Katie as she continued unfastening the vault hatch’s last remaining holding screw aboard the September Weed. “Remember what I told you guys back in Cape Suzette when we met up in Khan’s office about me finding the Moltese Eagle? There was something else I didn’t mention…I also made an accidental discovery about the statuette when I was examining it for my university class that summer. I found a thin but secured rim of wax running around the base rim of the Eagle, so I asked my professor if I could have some privacy into looking at the statuette closer. He gave me permission and I was allowed to have a few hours in a private room.”

“When I got in there with my notebooks and a few tools, I scraped off the wax and saw that it was a screw-on lid. Twisting it off, there was a hollowed centre that contained a cylindrical vial and inside it was a rolled-up parchment with an ancient wax seal bearing a thirteenth-century marking of high importance holding it together, perfectly preserved. Peeling it off as not to damage the seal, I unrolled it to discover it was a map of old Latin lingua scrawled all over it, much to my own surprise. I quickly jotted down and drew everything from what was in the map, carefully re-sealed the parchment, placed in back inside the statuette, screwed the lid back on and made a new wax seal on the outer rim.”

Baloo gently sighed and tried not to show too much impatience with the vixen, hoping she’d get the point with this long-winded lecture, as did Rebecca from her expression.

“Returning back to my university that fall, I spent about eighteen months researching and translating the map on what my notes said – by the way, Rebecca…that damaged and waterlogged notebook you saw me with in my former stateroom up there?”

“Yeah…what about it?” she responded, slightly bored.

“That’s where all my information and studies on the scroll were in, now they’re completely destroyed. Perhaps for the better…anyway, getting back to the subject, I connected the map to all the research about the Crusades that I could get a hold of and came up with the conclusion that the scroll I found inside the Moltese Eagle, would lead to the grandest artifact of them all…the Holy Grail.”

The two bears gasped.

“Ya talkin’ ‘bout the Holy Grail?! How can ya be so sure, Red?”

“Because there is a reference in the late thirteenth-century to a copy of the Grail being in Constantinoble, Baloo…this was found in the Hounslander book, the Younger Titurel: ‘A second costly dish, very noble and very precious, was fashioned to duplicate this one. In holiness it has no flaw. Men of Constantinoble assayed it in their land…it richer in adornment, they accounted it the true gral,’ or in other words, the Grail itself.”

“What about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table?” the she-bear asked.

“Speculative fiction, Rebecca.” The vixen dismissed the suggestion. “When Britannica converted to evangelism, it rested much of the old Celtic stories around the chalice that became permanent with the Grail-Lancelot story around 1210 and was the basis of Arthurian Grail romances by the Britannian knight Robert de Red Baron under King Henry II. I deducted that the real Grail was said to have been stolen from the church of the Bucoleon during the Forth Crusade and sent from Constaninoble to nearby Troyes by the former bishop, Grainier de Trainer in 1204, but that’s always been disputed. The Hospitaller Guardians – the precursors to the Guardians of Molta – replaced the Grecian converts fighting in the Crusade against Constaninoble around that time before that campaign ended in with the victory by Frederick II at Achoon …”

Gesundheit,” Baloo said.

“I didn’t sneeze!” Katie said testily.

“But I though ya did –”

“Oh, never mind! Anyway, as I was saying, by the time the Hospitallers had lost their base at the Battle of Aker in 1291 to retreat temporarily to Cypherus before settling in Molta, they’d have taken a lot of things with them – including the map of the Grail’s location secretly made and given to them by de Trainer eighty-seven years earlier placed inside the statuette for safekeeping, according to my theory.”   

“Interestin’ history lesson, Katie, but what’s all that gotta do with the Moltese Eagle an’ stuff?”

“Baloo, didn’t you ever go to Sunday school?” asked the archeologist disdainfully.

Anything to do with school is about as daunting to him as hard work,” said the she-bear sarcastically.

“Hey, enough with the insults, Becky!”

“Look, if Karnage got his hands on the map and decided to go hunting for the treasure and does find the Grail, it’s been told that whoever drinks from it will receive eternal life. And do you know what that means?”

The pilot thought hard and said: “Uhh…ya hafta pay higher life insurance premiums?”

No, you ignoramus! If that maniac finds the Holy Grail with that parchment inside, he could use it for his own bidding! He could even try to sell it to people of great power, in particular to one little dictator now running around Zoorope…”

Rebecca gasped. “You’re talking about…Adenoid Helter?”

“Helter’s already conquered half of Eastern Zoorope and is now threatening Polecatland,” said the vixen grimly. “He could cross into their borders before the summer is out and the next thing you’ll know, there’ll probably be another war for us to deal with. I’ve heard he has a thing about the occult and religious artifacts, especially of those of great power, anything that will give him victory over his enemies. So you see why I have to get that statuette back – and what I had to do to protect it?”

The two bears looked at each other and realized the situation was a lot graver than what was at hand.

“The only worst part out of all of this,” said the archaeologist offhandedly, “that this ship belongs to Shere Khan.”

“WHAT?!!” exclaimed Baloo and Rebecca at once.

Katie cringed.  Me and my big mouth…

“Khanny owns da September Weed?!”

“Well…not technically. It’s more registered under his name.”

“How?” Rebecca asked.

“The ship is insured by one of his many subsidiary companies. If he ever found out that I destroyed the September Weed, it’d be coming out of my pay cheques for the rest of my life, considering how much female university professors make in a given year.”

“I don’t blame ya, hon. Khan’s the kinda guy that would sue the pants offa ya. An’ he’ll take the belt an’ buckle too, if not yer garters.”

The redheaded vixen chucked a little bit with a mysterious smile on her face hearing that. “I don’t think so, chum. If he did, he’d be the one coughing up the dough.”

“And how’s that?” Rebecca said skeptically.

“That bazooka and rocket grenade I used came from an overstocked weapons cargo run for Francoroni’s preparation to launch his raids on Iberia . But on the crate that I’ve found, it was labeled as jam and jellies and that’s what it said on the official cargo register when it docked in Velveeta days before we loaded the Cache onboard.”

The she-bear was confused. “I…don’t get it...”

Strangely enough, it was the pilot that actually understood. “Aww, man…doncha see, Beckers? Ol’ Khanny was illegally supplyin’ arms fer the Fascists durin’ the civil war! If he got caught doin’ it…”

“…he’d be charged for being a war profiteer,” his employer finished.

“Bingo!” said Katie, grunting a little bit as she twisted on the screw.

“Profiting from death and destruction,” said the businesswoman, shaking her head sadly. “And for the Fascists, of all the people. How…how could he?”

 “I tol’ ya before the guy’s ruthless, Boss Lady…whether ya live or die, Khanny will find a way ta squeeze a buck outta ya.”

“Not to mention for the fact that Khan collected a lot of insurance money on this loss – without even doing a proper investigation that he managed to take care of it himself, from what I heard,” added the archaeologist. “He could be charged for insurance fraud and bribery, provided they could make it stick to him.”

“Huh! Not without his army o’ legal beagles an’ unlimited cash flow at the ready ta git him outta it, Red. But it does make quite a picture seein’ Khanny in the clink, though…even if he is already wearin’ stripes!”

“So in other words…keep this under our hats?” said Rebecca warily.

“I was going to tell you, Baloo, Kit and Myra all of this at the end of the expedition, honestly. But until then, I would consider it a personal favour, particularly my information on the Moltese Eagle; to remain hush-hush about it if you don’t mind…annnnnddfinished!!”

The last screw fell to the floor with another heavy thud onto the floor. She then pried the hatch door open and it swayed loosely on its hinges, bringing with it a small gush of seawater splattering onto the floor that the pilot backed away from, plus a light flow of air came into the vault, if not much. Baloo then gently helped the vixen down off of his shoulders for which he rubbed with great relief as she slipped her boots back on.

Whoo!! My dear ol’ mom sure didn’t raise me ta be no stepladder!”

“Good, we got the hatchway open…” Rebecca said gratefully inhaled the fresh oxygen coming through. “You’re going to head up there now, Katie?”

“How? That’s a pretty tight space an’ no offence, Katie…yer, a bit big – er, I mean, I don’ think you can fit up there.”

“You can fix that,” said the vixen, now stepping up real close to Baloo. “Hold me.”

A blaze of anger rushed through Rebecca’s face as she screeched: “WHAT?!!”

Katie just looked at the she-bear and just rolled her eyes. Oh, for crying out loud…what a gutter mind…

“Oh, please, sister…at a time like this?!”

“Huh?” said Baloo dumbly, trying to figure out Katie’s request and his employer’s heated outburst at the same time.

“Remember when I said that explosion blew me clear off the ship and got injured in the plunge back into the sea? Well, I dislocated my right shoulder as a result. Now I can do it anytime I want to, although I don’t do it too often for obvious reasons, of course.”

“But…” Rebecca asked worriedly, “won’t that hurt you?”

“Not as much as it does when I set it back by myself. Now that’s going to hurt.”

“Nuthin’ doin’, sweetheart! I ain’t inta injurin’ no women…in particular when they’re friends o’ mine, either!”

“I know you wouldn’t,” she said, turning back to the pilot. “I’m not asking you to injure me at all. It’ll be like…you being a straightjacket wrapped around me. I’ll be doing all the work in doing it. Please, Baloo…this is our only hope.” 

He just looked at her and sighed reluctantly. “Oh…okay. I sure hope ya know whatcha doin’, Red.”

“Me too,” she gulped as the grey bear wrapped his huge, strong arms around her. “Tighter, please.”

He remembered there was a time when he would have happily accepted that invitation from her. And certainly would have enjoyed it even more.

The archaeologist then averted her eyes to the she-bear. “You… may not want to watch this.”

“Alright,” the businesswoman said uneasily, so she turned her back away from the two. Seeing them together like that was more than enough for her, for some reason she couldn’t understand, let alone admit.

“Okay…here we go.”

Taking a couple of deep breaths, closing her eyes and face engaged in concentration, the redheaded vixen began to juxtaposition her shoulders and with a few hard jerks, grunting in the process, a small but slightly nauseating crick sounded off, making even Baloo grimace at the noise.

“Okay, it’s done,” she panted in a strained voice. “You can let go now.”

The pilot was all too glad to do so. When he got a look at her, he exclaimed, “Aw, man oh man oh man…!”

As Rebecca turned toward them, she gasped in horror.  Katie was grotesquely misaligned with her right shoulder hanging limply, making her look like one of the rag dolls she used to play with as a child.

“Don’t worry,” she tried to assure them with a weakened smile. “It only looks bad.”

Handing her a small penlight, Baloo asked anxiously: “How long will it take ya?”

“Maybe ten, fifteen minutes tops. I’ll try to hurry as fast as I can. Just hang in there, guys,” she said, then placed the penlight in her mouth and gripped it between her teeth.

“Good luck, Katie,” the she-bear called to her as Baloo hoisted the archaeologist up to the hatchway. With apparent effort, she managed to grab hold of the entrance with one hand, angled herself and slid into the wet shaft, aided by the pilot's boost, then shoved her feet up and disappeared right into it.

“Wow,” said Rebecca. “She really can fit into there.”

Watching the empty hatchway with a few bumps and grunts coming from within, the pilot muttered in amazement: “I gotta admit...that gal never ceases to amaze me.”

Rebecca, a bit shaken by that statement somehow; quietly walked away from him, sat up against the nearest vault wall and sulked in silence.

Baloo noticed this and wondered: Now what’s gotten inta her?

 

Some electrical sparks flew from the power circuit Kit was trying to hotwire in the Prowler’s turret Number Four, causing him to back away and reacting angrily with a deep growl, shaking his wrist from the pain the sparks slightly burnt his fingers.

Aw, nuts! Nuts, nuts, nuts!!”

“We’re not going to make it, are we?” said Melita apprehensively.

“We’re gonna make it! We’re gonna make it! We’re really, really close!”

Tackling the power circuit again, the navigator furiously worked out the auxiliary wires, trying to activate the battle guns into operation. “C’mon, baby…c’mon!” he muttered underneath his breath, sweating profusely. “C’mon!!”

Then it burst into life suddenly.

Yes!!” Kit cheered quietly with a joyous jump and closed the panel. “We’ve got a heartbeat!”

He then leaped right into the gunner’s seat and began to work the controls to position the guns in his sights on the Iron Vulture. A bit started by its movement, Melita steadily held herself and asked him: “Do you even know where to shoot?”

“Trust me, Melita,” he said with a wicked glint in his eye, “I know exactly where to hit it where it counts.”

I’ve wanted to do this for years

 

 

Binding their wrists tightly with rope, all the Prowler crewmembers were held captive by the Air Pirates on the main upper deck, taunted by their captors over their predicament. “Well, well, well,” said a bemused Karnage to his now-humbled audience, “if it isn’t the most uglified sons of mangy hamsters who tried to shoot me down a couple of years ago, yes-no?”

“Since you have been very naughty, naughty personages for trying to shoot at the great Don Karnage, I wonder what we shall be doing with you? Dump you overboard for the hungry sharks? Sell your pathetic, worthless hides to the Azanian slave traders on the cheapskate? Or maybe –”

Gibber interrupted his commander’s rambling soliloquy by whispering into his ear. Listening thoroughly, a gleefully evil expression crossed his face.

“Hmmm…excellento idea!! Men – prepare the lifeboats! Our most unwelcome passengers will be disembarking! Supply each boat with one can of baked beans, and to make it a little more challenging,” Karnage added wryly, “absolutely no can openers!”

The Air Pirates laughed uproariously as they went to follow their captain’s orders, when suddenly one of the battle guns erupted into action with three load rounds that made direct hits at the Iron Vulture. Onboard the flying vessel, the remaining skeleton crew were rocked by the explosions, followed by smoke, shouts of confusion and hastily scrambling to reach to what appeared to be targeted areas of the front propeller stand and one of the main engines bursting into flames.

Karnage, seeing this on deck of the Prowler, was enraged at the sight.

Who…is…making…that…boom-boom…at…my…SHIP?!” he roared, whipping around and seeing the active battle gun. Pointing to it, he ordered: “Shoot at that turret, men!! A lot!!!”

Inside turret Number Four, Kit was most pleased with his aim at the dreaded airship. “Yee-haw!! Take that, Karnage!”

Then, the plinking of a thousand bullets ricocheted off the turret, sparks flying on occasion near the opening slit. Melita fell to the floor for cover, while Kit just missed a few as he abandoned the controls and dropped onto the deck with the she-canine.

“Was this part of the diversion plan, Cloudkicker?!” yelled the Moltese above the barrage.

As they quickly picked themselves up from the deck, the navigator grabbed her hand and answered: “Yep! Now let’s make some serious taillights!”

“Cease firing, men!” Karnage shouted after a moment. “This one…is mine!!”

The two young confederates were about to leave the turret when out of the corner of his eye, Kit glanced through the slit momentarily that turned his blood into pure ice: the wolf leader was now holding a large grenade-launcher and dead in his sights!

RUN!!! he screamed, pushing his comely partner hastily out the door.

With gritted teeth and naked aggression, Karnage pulled the trigger and the rocket-propelled grenade zoomed toward its target. As the bear and she-canine made a few paces down the corridor, the lethal projectile slammed directly into the turret, creating a mighty explosion and giant fireball.

Inside, the last things Kit remembered was a brilliant flash, leaping onto the shrieking Melita to shield her body from the blast, a humongous rumble and roar that violently shook the hallway and ripped viciously through his eardrums, a swirling pasticcio of yellows, oranges and reds coming towards them, hurtling through the air in a flush of blackened smoke and finally, feeling the excruciating slamming of his skull against the steel wall; sinking into the deep darkness of his consciousness. 

End of Part Eighteen


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