Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers

"Soul Searching, part II"

Written by Michael Demcio

Characters herein are © Walt Disney corporation. Distribute freely, but do not modify.

Scenes of unimportance, pictures of delight, things that go to make up a life....

Soul Searching

By Michael Demcio

Part II: First Contact

     For a number of moments, Gadget could only stand there, blinking
at her own realization as she continued to look down in surprise at
the male black and white cat, the statement within its gaze now
clearly readable. The same statement that she had somehow missed
before. As she watched though, as if to emphasize its intent, it
slowly reached a paw up toward her, silently holding it there for a
number of moments, as if holding a hand out to her in need of
assistance as well as in peace. At this, a slight feeling of
embarrassment and guilt began to burn within her, warming her cheeks.
She had fought so hard against the cat's earlier attempts to contact
her, when all it had been doing was trying to ask for her aid.  
     "Gosh! You...need my *help*?" she asked softly and uncertainly,
the words coming from her mouth as though she couldn't believe them
herself. She and the other Rangers had helped a ghost out once
before, that one being Monterey's old ancestor, Sir Colby, but he
*obviously* had been in need of assistance. The ancient guard had
lived for so long with no bravery to speak of, not to mention barely
any self confidence in what he was capable of, even as a ghost. It
was no wonder why he had needed the Rescue Ranger's help in breaking
the curse which had been put upon him, binding him to the castle in
which he had been posted. This instance though, was an entirely
different story. With the ability to have done all that it did in
trying to contact her, as well as having the supernatural ability to
have seemingly frozen time about her, she could only wonder what in
the world could she do that this cat could not? "What do you need?
Are you under some kind of *curse*?" she asked uncertainly. At this
the cat still did not speak, but merely turned its gaze away from her
to look over its left shoulder for a moment, staring away toward some
undetermined point before turning its gaze back up toward her.
     "I...I'm afraid I don't understand.." Gadget shrugged, shaking
her head apologetically in confusion. "What do you need? Can you
talk?" At the question, the cat did not shake its head yes or no, nor
did it open its mouth to speak. Blinking once after a number of
moments as he continued to stare up at her in the same expression as
if studying her, the cat only lifted itself onto all four legs in a
standing position. Pivoting itself toward its left, it looked out for
a moment in the same direction it had before, before turning its eyes
back up toward her.
     "You want me to come with you?" 
     Again the cat gave no answer in any fashion, but only continued
to stare up at her, its tail softly swishing behind itself. To say
the least, Gadget was still somewhat uncertain about what the specter
needed her to do, but from what she could gather about the cat's last
action, she decided to base her own course upon it. 
     "Golly, I'll *gladly* help if that's what you need me for,"
Gadget stated, looking down at the cat with a sympathetic and kind
smile, "but why just me?" she asked, gesturing over toward the open
door behind her, her words still laced with a note of nervousness.
She still had no concrete answers from the spirit which stood before
her, as to its reasons or intent. "We could *all* help you a lot
better than only I could. Are you sure you don't want to bring my
friends along too?" she asked, knowing her words had sense to them,
as well as knowing that she would feel a lot less nervous in this
situation with her friends along beside her.
     Still the cat gave no answer but to continue staring up at her,
blinking but once. From what she could determine, the action was
nowhere near her question that she could have taken even that as an
answer of any sort. Still she was more than a bit uncertain, and yet,
continuing to look into the cat's eyes for the next number of moments
that followed, she was able to get an impression of sorts from it. An
untouchable, elusive something, akin to what had told her that the
cat was waiting for her out here. Something that told her that she
simply had to *trust* the path this feline had decided upon, that
path being that only *she* would travel with this silent visitor,
though as to why would as yet be unknown. Trusting her instincts, she
decided to accept this feeling as a fact. She knew it was the best
she could do at the moment after all. With this, Gadget gave a short
tired sigh, in a reply of her own. "Okay, but *gosh* I wish you'd
just *answer* me, somehow." she stated, shaking her head lightly.
"I'll be right down."
     Entering the treehouse once again, taking only a moment as she
crossed the living room to look over at her three friends still
seemingly frozen in space, Gadget quickly made her way over to her
workshop. Crossing through the adjacent doorway, she entered into the
hangar which housed their air vehicles. As she did so though, she
stopped short. Gasping slightly in surprise, she gazed out to look
upon a now somewhat smaller version of the cat now filling the
hangar, it's paw now draped over the forward portion of the cockpit
of the Rangerplane as it waited for her. Approaching the feline, she
looked for a moment at the obstacle it's paw presented, before
turning her gaze up toward the face of her new companion, the meaning
behind its action quite clear.
     "But how do I get to where we need to go then?" she asked.
Turning its head, the black and white cat looked over its left
shoulder toward a corner of the hangar where one of the hang-gliders
sat, waiting and ready. "Golly..." Gadget returned, having followed
its line of sight over to the kite like apparatus and then back to
meet its gaze. "Why the hang-gliders? The Rangerplane would be *much*
faster!" she emphasized, spreading her arms wide in a shrugging
gesture, "Not to mention safer!" she argued gently, knowing the
Rangerplane could generate its own lift by the flapping of its wings,
while with the hang gliders..."Don't you think?" she asked. 
     The feline only stared at her in return, blinking once.
     "Ooookayyy..." Gadget returned after a somewhat confused sigh,
making her way over to the hang-glider. Lowering herself underneath
the cloth to grasp the metal bar, she easily lifted it up, and
pivoting herself around to face the opening of the hangar, started
slightly as her gaze turned to find a now empty hangar bay. "I wish
he wouldn't do that." she stated softly to herself, shaking her head
as she made her way past the Rangerplane toward the bay's opening,
carrying the craft. Walking out onto the landing platform outside,
she looked over the edge to find the black and white cat once more
upon the ground, looking up at her. Seeing her ready, it turned to
look over its right shoulder in the same direction it had before.
Raising itself into a standing position on its four paws, it turned
to look back up at her. 
     "I'm ready." She nodded, a note of curiosity evident in her
voice as to how she would catch any wind currents with the motion of
the air, as well as everything else, stopped cold around her.
However, as she didn't really have much choice, she could only trust
that the feline spirit below her knew what it was doing. "Let's go."
Taking a few steps back from the edge to get a running start, Gadget
gripped the bar of the glider securely, holding her breath in
anticipation as she pushed herself off into the stilled misty air
before her. As she did though, an air current *did* present itself to
give the glider flight. A gentle, but more than adequate breeze that
was considerably less violent than the winds that had whipped through
the park before time had come to a screeching halt, minutes before.
Looking about her as she released her clenched breath, she saw now
that time had restarted itself once again...*somewhat*. Instead of
being locked into an eerie state of suspended animation, the park
animals, the clouds in the sky, the leaves on the trees, as well as
what humans she could see, now moved with an almost syrupy slowness.
It was somewhat akin to a state that she'd experienced a number of
times within dreaming. Looking down, she watched as the cat continued
to stare up at her before lightly pushing itself off from its sitting
position with its hind legs, rising quickly into the air to join her
in flight. Stopping in mid air but a few feet below and ahead of her,
it assumed a somewhat compact position of lying down, the position
reminding Gadget of the one that was the trademark of the Sphinx.
With that, and curling its tail around itself, the cat took off
through the air, heading off toward the main part of the city.
Angling her craft, Gadget set her course to follow.
     For a good portion of the trip, they flew at a fairly average
height between the buildings, set upon the hills and valleys that
defined the city. The low lying fog that had wrapped itself around
the metropolis had not quite begun to burn off as much here as it had
in the park, and several times, her feline companion was lost to her
sight within the mist, sometimes for many seconds. However, she
immediately found after the first such disappearance that she didn't
need to worry any of her losing track of him. For upon each
disappearance, the black and white cat would once again appear after
a moment or two. Flying directly beside her either on her port or
starboard side, he would turn his head to lock gazes with her for a
moment before continuing on again, once more just a few steps ahead
of the craft. Even with the motion of the wind slowed to a much
lesser degree that it had blown at before, the air temperature about
her with the fog still held a chilling dampness. A feeling that began
to work its way under her thick, insulating fur. Shivering, she gave
a quick thought, wondering just how far they had to go.
     It wasn't much longer though, before a brownstone building came
into sight, and seeing the two toned cat descend toward it, she
shifted her glider to do the same. Landing before the well kept
structure, taking in the cozy, academic atmosphere it gave through
the ivy snaking gently across its walls, Gadget turned her attention
towards her companion. 
     "In here?" she asked, gesturing with her right hand across her
chest to point toward the building. The cat did not answer in any
way, but turning its gaze from where it lay upon her, it looked up
toward the entrance of the building around the corner upon which the
building sat. Lifting itself upon its four paws, it took a few steps
forward before turning its gaze back toward her once again. <Guess
so.> Gadget thought to herself as she repositioned the glider against
her torso to carry it more comfortably as she started forward.
However, as she did, the cat reached out a paw and put it upon the
ground before her, blocking her path. Looking down at the paw set
before her, Gadget turned her head to look up with confusion towards
its owner. "What?" she asked in slight confusion. Lifting that same
paw once more, the cat gently pressed it down upon the top of the
glider, pushing it towards the ground as Gadget released the bar at
his action, feeling the deliberate pressure he was applying. Watching
the cat look down at her, she carefully stepped out from under the
glider. Looking up at the cat before turning her gaze back toward her
craft, the cat's paw still set lightly upon it, she turned her gaze
back up toward the feline. Her right eyebrow quirked up curiously.
"But...the *wind* might take it if I leave it out here!" she objected
softly. "Why don't you want me to take it inside?" Still the cat did
not answer but to look at her with its wide, softly staring eyes.
"Okay," Gadget sighed, shrugging as well. "I'll leave it behind."
With that, hearing her compliance the cat lifted its paw, and
continued on its way toward the entrance. <Golly,> Gadget thought to
herself as she followed him, <this ghost gives a whole new angle on
the "strong, silent type."> she quipped to herself, wondering what
lay within the building that had begun this strange journey.
     Rubbing her hands across her arms and upon her face in an
attempt to chase the chill away from her body, she suddenly became
aware of the fact that as abruptly as it had stopped, time had once
more started again. The wind suddenly came to life about her,
whipping into the blustery full motion currents it had been before.
Around her as well, the sound of passing humans and cars that had
been frozen a split second before, now startled her as they too
sprang to full life. Jumping slightly at the event, she hurried to
catch up to the black and white cat. Looking around her at the world,
now full of motion once more, she caught a glimpse as the wind, a
great deal stronger now, swiftly tumbled her hang glider away down
the street as she had predicted. Still slightly unnerved from having
suddenly been brought back into the time stream which she knew to be
the cat's doing, she didn't bother to mention this fact to him as
significant. Approaching the entrance and following its lead, she
slipped in unnoticed with a female human, her arms too filled with
packages to notice Gadget striding quickly along with her. Watching
as the cat strode ahead of her to the elevator doors and seeing that
the woman was headed toward them as well, she simply remained within
the woman's blind spot until her human companion had disembarked upon
the second floor, watching as the doors closed behind the woman. "So
where to?" she asked, turning her attention once more to the feline
sitting calmly in the back of the elevator. Without looking at her
this time, the cat once more lifted itself into the air. Levitating
itself in front of the control panel, it stretched out a paw to hit
the button for the next level before settling back down to the
elevator floor. Arriving at the floor a moment or so later, the oddly
paired companions moved down the short hallway that presented itself,
to one of the few doors set into it. Looking up at the door that
stood before them, the cat calmly stretched out a paw and placing it
against the door, held it there for but a moment before Gadget
detected a distinct *click*, as of the lock being opened. She watched
as with no other effort from the cat, the door swung open slightly
before her. 
     Moving along behind the feline specter as he slipped inside
through the narrow opening, Gadget moved with him, her heart now
beating a notch faster in anticipation. <Whatever this is all about
is in here,> she surmised, looking around at the small foyer she was
now in, giving a glance back toward the door as it softly closed
itself behind her once again. The tip of her tail flicking behind her
nervously, she watched as the black and white cat reached the end of
the foyer and drew itself up, stopping at the doorway as it looked
out into the interior of the apartment. Reaching his position, she
looked out into the apartment as well. There was a human here, though
as to precisely where, she couldn't say. The scent of the person
filled her sensitive nose, along with the scent of a light perfume
that was upon the person as well. This olfactory clue, along with the
contents of the interior of the apartment as she took them in, told
her that the owner of the apartment was a female. "Well?" she asked,
looking over to her companion, "What now?" After a moment though, a
curious expression crossed her face. The cat had not turned toward
her upon her query to answer her, through any sort of action or
gesture. Instead, it continued to look out into the interior of the
apartment, the expression on its face seeming to her as if the feline
stood deep in thought. Almost entranced in a way it seemed to her, as
she gauged the look in his eyes. Tentatively and with uncertainty,
she reached out a hand to touch the specter, only to have it go
through his leg. The action though *did* have the desired effect as
the cat blinked, shook its head lightly and turned to look at her.
"Uh..sorry," Gadget began, withdrawing her hand and smiling gently at
the cat. "What do you want me to do?"
     At her query, the cat turned to look out into the room once
more, and turning back to her then, sat down to lift its right paw,
pointing it out toward the room. Looking out into the room herself,
Gadget paused only for a moment to look back toward the cat before
starting forward as she was instructed. Pacing lightly through what
she believed must be the living room, she took a longer look around
at her surroundings. Masterfully crafted wood furniture that was
obviously antique in age but excellently kept, adorned the room in
the form of china cabinets, small end tables, and in an adjoining
room that she could see, a dining room table as well. Lace doilies
were lightly draped over some of the tables. The contents of the
china cabinet contained ceramic porcelain figurines among the various
decorative plates, both of which were also of antique quality. A few
handcrafted dolls with intricate costuming sat in comfortable
looking, overstuffed chairs around the room. These decorative items,
along with others made of various simple materials, some of straw,
some of lace, some of wood, some of glass, all served to give the
apartment a very warm, old fashioned and welcoming "grand motherly"
feel. Taking her eyes from the adornments about her, Gadget turned
back toward the doorway that she had left, wondering what sort of
purpose the ghost cat had for bringing her here. A more pertinent
question suddenly presented itself though, as she looked to find the
specter gone from where he had been but a moment before. 
     "Quincy?" a muddled voice suddenly sounded from behind her.
Whirling about, Gadget started as a rustling could now be heard in an
easy chair but a few steps away from her, the back of which was
facing her, obscuring the occupant from view. Uncertain as to whether
to hide or stand her ground, she continued to look urgently about her
for her feline companion. "Quincy, is that you?" the female voice
continued as the stirring now grew louder, heralding the arrival of
the chair's occupant from off its cushion and around its form. Seeing
still no sign of the ghost cat that had brought her here, Gadget
could only turn to face the human that now came into view from the
other side of the chair, deciding against the option to hide. She
still didn't know why she had been brought here. Whatever the reason
though, whether this human was the reason or not, as the owner of the
apartment, perhaps she could help in some way, give her some kind of
a clue as to her purpose there. "Oh?" The silver haired, black
elderly female that emerged into view from the other side of the
couch asked reflexively, squinting toward Gadget after drowsily
rubbing her bleary eyes to clear the sleep from them. Keeping a hand
upon the side of the chair for support, the female looked back down
toward the cushions of the chair, picking up a pair of spectacles
which she deposited upon her face in a fluid nature that seemed
almost a reflex. "Oh!" she exclaimed with a pleasant note of surprise
in her voice as she looked to find Gadget standing there before her
on the carpeting, looking up at her. "Well what have we here? So
*you* were the one who made that noise, eh?" she chuckled pleasantly,
snatching a wooden cane from beside the chair and leaning upon it
lightly as she strode toward Gadget. "I thought you were my Quincy!"
     <Noise?> Gadget wondered, knowing that even to her much more
sensitive hearing, she had not made a sound, nor had she heard any.
<What noise could she be talking about? Something she heard in her
sleep?> she asked herself. By all appearances, the woman Gadget now
stood looking up toward was clearly elderly, but beyond that and the
cane at her side which she seemed to use sparingly for support, her
actions did not indicate it, nor did her expression. A twinkle in her
eyes still indicated a sharp and alert mind within.    
     "So....what brings *you* here?" she asked of Gadget in a
somewhat jesting manner, not really expecting her to understand or
reply. "Well you obviously must be someone's pet, or you would've
high tailed it away from me by now, eh?" she asked, looking over
Gadget's clothes as well, which she assumed a human had dressed her
in. In reply, Gadget could only continue to look up at the elderly
woman, curling her tail about her legs, in something of a trained
gesture. "Hmmm..." the old woman chuckled once more, seeming to
inspect Gadget further. "Well, as long as I'm up, and until I make a
few calls to figure out which of the tenants in this building you
might belong to, what do you say to a snack for the both of us in the
meantime?" she asked, stooping down to hold out her hand upon the
floor before her. Looking from the hand upon the floor before her,
back up toward the amiably smiling face of the old woman towering
over her, with a nod, Gadget looked down to take a step onto the
woman's hand. 

     A few minutes later, after a quick trip into the kitchen, a
small fare was made upon the dining room table in the next room. For
Gadget, the repast consisted of a piece of cheese and some sunflower
seeds. For the woman, whom Gadget had discovered from a magnet upon
the refrigerator that her name was "Susan", a chicken sandwich which
already sat mostly devoured from even before she had set it on the
table, served for her meal. As she sat upon the table, gnawing
thoughtfully upon a sunflower seed, trying to figure out what her
next move should be, she continued to look about her. Upon the
spacious dining room table which stood uncovered with no cloth upon
it, an unfinished jigsaw puzzle sat in a jumble of unorganized
pieces, only a few of which had been interlocked together. Looking
closer, she saw the puzzle to be one of a very complex nature,
consisting of dozens upon dozens of leaves, all of roughly the same
size, shape, and color. The box for the puzzle as well as the bag for
the store in which it had been bought were in sight, along with the
attached receipt which showed it had been purchased recently. As she
looked at the puzzle though, impressed that the woman was still
willing to take on a challenge to sharpen her mind, a wistful sigh
beside her suddenly made her change her focus. Turning her head
slightly, she looked over to find Susan leaning upon the back of her
chair, looking out at a row of pictures that were lined upon a shelf,
set along the wall. 
     Curious, she looked out toward the framed picture upon which the
woman seemed to be most intently focused upon. She looked to find a
picture of the woman,....holding the black and white cat which had
brought her here. <He was her pet?> she asked herself, quirking a
sympathetic eyebrow at the discovery. <I guess that's not too much of
a surprise, but I still don't-> another audible and slightly
depressed sigh from Susan suddenly cut off her though, moving her
attention from the picture, over to the old woman. Her heart going
out to her new companion, she laid aside her half eaten sunflower
seed, and leaping from the table, over to land upon Susan's arm,
turned a look upon her which seemed to say "Want to talk about it?"
Starting only slightly from Gadget's unexpected arrival upon her arm,
Susan turned to look curiously toward Gadget, breaking out into a
smile in spite of herself as she met Gadget's gaze toward her. 
     "How do you animals seem to *always* know when someone needs
cheering up?" she asked with a thoughtful grin, turning back towards
the table to deposit Gadget upon it once more. Turning in her seat to
take the picture from its place on the shelf, she set it upon the
table as well. "This is Quincy, my cat," she began, turning the
picture toward Gadget as she took a deep breath. "He just...showed up
on my doorstep one day a few years back, from out of nowhere. Walked
right in when I opened the door like this had always been his home,
like he owned the place," she laughed, "but I guess that's the way
cats are, right?" she asked grinning down to her. "He showed up at
just the right time too. It was just around that time if I recall
correctly," she continued, a thoughtful frown forming on her mouth as
she began to stroke a gentle finger between Gadget's ears, petting
her, "that life started getting more lonely." 
     Pausing in her petting, Susan turned to lay the picture down
flat upon the table to get a better look at it, gazing at it a moment
more before she continued her tale and her stroking upon Gadget's
fur. "My kids are already grown up you see. I've got two of em, a boy
and a girl, both. My husband, he had passed away a number of years
before, God rest his gentle soul, and when Quince and I met each
other, or rather when he had *adopted me*," she laughed, tapping on
the picture of the cat, "my children already had started families and
lives of their own, both of them in different cities where their jobs
took 'em. My youngest, Emily, had just moved out of California a bit
before Quince came about. At that point, I barely saw either of 'em
they were both so busy. I still see 'em on Christmas and Easter when
they bring everyone on over or send me on a plane to go to 'em, but
otherwise...." at this, she gave a sad shrug, the implication needing
no words. "I gots no other family, and a lot of my friends had either
passed on or were in nursing homes at that point. Me, well, the lord
still let me keep ma' health so's I could take care of myself, but
like I said, it still gots to be plenty lonely around here...." she
trailed off, looking around before pulling herself back to the

     "Quincy, he would stay with me, curl up on ma' lap and have me
play with him...he filled up the emptiness that ma' kids left when
they moved out, got their own lives and got too busy to be with me.
Now though he's missing, and I'm plenty worried about him." she
admitted, smiling softly at Gadget, the action of petting her fur
serving to sooth her nerves somewhat, " 'es strange though, cause,
every week, and I mean *every week*, ol Quince would get out of the
house and to this day I *still* don't know how he did it, but cat's
are sneaky that way, eh?" she asked, with a grin, "Anyway, he would
stay gone for about two days. When he *did* finally come back, he
would come back nearly half starved with hunger, wolfin down whatever
I gave him, and smellin like he had slept in the garbage all that
time. He never minded much when I cleaned him though, to get the
smell out, and he always *loved* the brushin I gave him. Guess he
went out to have some fun with his alley cat friends, slummin around
a bit," she shrugged, giving Gadget a sly, knowing grin, "Every week
though, this went on, startin as soon as he showed up here to live,
and continued on, like ol Big Ben, his showin up after two days, and
continued on til yesterday. Yesterday though, he didn't show up and
after not showin up today,..... ...well I'm in a *frightful* worry
here, little mouse," she admitted, her voice trembling just a bit. "I
do hope that the super here didn't somehow get a crazy notion and get
his hands on him somehow...*naaah!*" the old woman waved the thought
away dismissively. "He hates cats I know, but the man ain't crazy or
cruel neither! Besides, ol Quince is too smart a Tom to let anyone
get their hands on 'im...least I think so..." 
     Watching as Susan's words trailed off as her gaze wandered over
toward the door, her expression clearly stating her concern and her
silent plea that Quincy would show up at the door at that moment,
Gadget felt a pang of anguish touch her heart, feeling the old
woman's concern. Even if she *were* able to communicate to the woman
through writing without shocking her that she could, she knew she
would have a very hard time telling her that her beloved pet was
dead. <Golly!> she thought to herself, <So *that* was why Quincy
brought me back here? To find his killer? Was this *Ivana's* doing?>
she wondered, her analytical mind going to work, <Is *that* why he
came to me, since I was the one to experience a loss at her hands as
well? It doesn't really make sense though>, she frowned, <with all
that Quincy can do, why wouldn't he just be able to show me who was
the one who did it? Susan doesn't seem to think that the
superintendent did anything to him, but I'll still have to check him
out for any clues...gosh though,> she added, snapping herself from
her thoughts as she looked back up toward her companion's worried
face, <I wish there was something I could do to make her feel a bit
better in the meantime before I go, but what could I do? Turning her
eyes up in a thoughtful look, her gaze suddenly turned toward the end
of the table. The jigsaw puzzle had caught her attention from the
corner of her vision, her eyes lighting up as they did. 
     "What is it, little mouse?" Susan asked as Gadget scurried out
suddenly from under her hand. Curiously, the woman watched as Gadget
quickly scampered over to the other end of the table and picked up a
piece of the puzzle in her hands, turning her head back to look over
at Susan.
     "Oh, so you *like* those, huh?" Susan replied, her face picking
up as she viewed Gadget's antics. Moving over to the chair that was
positioned before the puzzle, she sat her self down within it. "Well
there's a *way* you play with that, see?" she stated, picking up
another puzzle piece as she locked her eyes with Gadget's. "You take
this piece, and you put it.." she began, stopping as she looked
around for where the piece might fit before finally putting it into
place. "right here." she finished as she did so. "And then you take
*this* piece, and you put it..." she began again, picking up another
piece, "over here." she finished in a mentoring tone of satisfaction
as she placed the piece into place after a few moments, looking over
to Gadget as she did so. For a few more pieces, the old woman
continued her "lesson", with Gadget watching her intently all the
while, until she finally stopped upon a certain section, studying it
carefully. "Now what goes here...?" she murmured to herself as she
looked over the pieces that were sprawled out on the table. 
     Taking a look at the space in question, and looking over at the
pieces laid out before her, Gadget quickly scampered over to a
specific piece. Picking it up, she turned to lay it before Susan,
much to her astonishment. "Well!" she cried, crossing her arms before
her in an expression of pleasant surprise and shock, "I never knew
they could train a mouse to do *that!* You sure are a smart one,
little mouse!" she stated, shaking her head as she grinned down at
her. "Well can you tell me what goes here?" she asked, pointing to
another part. For the next thirty minutes, the construction of the
puzzle proceeded splendidly between the two, with Susan finding some
of the pieces and Gadget finding the others. Having finished almost
half the difficult puzzle, Susan picked up the latest piece that
Gadget presented to her and placed it down amongst the scattered
pieces once more, mixing them up with her hand. "Let's leave it there
fo' today, if'n its alright by you, little mouse," she stated as she
mixed the piece in blindly, "If'n we finish this puzzle so quickly, I
won't have anything to do around here for a bit since I just got it
yesterday, and I don't normally go shopping but once a week." 
     To show her compliance to Susan's words, Gadget moved away from
the unattached pieces of the puzzle, to move toward Susan's hand
which rested upon the table, laying her own paws upon it gently.
"I'll have to pick up a few more puzzles next time I'm out, and we
can do some more if'n I don't find your owner by that time,....or if
the person let you visit me from time to time." she stated smiling
down at her, her expression clearly showing that her mind had been
taken off of her worry for Quincy somewhat. "Ol Quince, he never had
an interest in puzzles, not that I thought he could help me on 'em
like you. Oh, he would play with the pieces, but other than that, he
would just watch me put the whole thing together, or just fall asleep
on the table while I was doing it. I wonder..." she said in a
contemplative voice, "If'n ol Quince would mind your being around if
he comes back. I wouldn't mind havin your company as well, little
mouse." she finished with a bit of a fond note in her voice as she
petted Gadget between her ears with a finger once more. Enjoying the
stroking from Susan's finger, Gadget found herself only able to enjoy
it for a moment, as in the next, she abruptly sat up straight, her
entire body stiffening somewhat as though something had abruptly
caught her attention. Heeding the slight, unspoken something in the
back of her mind, she cast her gaze over towards the window. The
black and white cat,...*Quincy*, had returned. 
     "Well I'll be," Susan called out in a surprised tone once more
as she observed Gadget's unexpected reaction, following her gaze over
to the empty window, a few feet away. "That's the same thing that ol
Quincy did, the first time that he came to me, before he went on one
of his little trips. What *do* these animals hear that people don't?"
she murmured to herself aloud. From her words, it was obvious that
Susan couldn't see the spirit of her former pet as she could, but it
was clear from his "calling" to her, that Quincy had returned for
some reason to tell her something. *But what?* she wondered. It was
then that the puzzle box which had been sitting on the corner of the
table, abruptly fell over onto the floor. "Wha?" Susan called aloud,
turning at the sound. Turning at the sound as well as upon Susan's
voice, Gadget cast her gaze over to the old woman, just in time to
see her freeze suddenly in mid turn. The cardboard box similarly
froze, not all of its corners having quite touched the floor, as if
it were being held up by an invisible stick.
     "Golly," Gadget murmured to herself as she took in Susan's
frozen form for a moment before turning back towards the spirit
waiting for her by the window. "that's *one* way of making a quick
exit." Hopping off the table, Gadget made her way to the window sill
upon which Quincy sat. Climbing up a nearby chair, and jumping down
upon the sill, she approached the ghost once more. "I'm sorry," she
stated, a sympathetic expression appearing on her face as she looked
up at him. "Both for you, and for your friend." she continued,
gesturing over toward the old woman still frozen in time "If you can
talk with me in *any way*, though, I can help you find and catch your
killer. Was it Ivana who did this to you? Was *that* why you came to
me?" she asked with an urgent air of conviction, as if the question
were almost unnecessary and as though she already knew the answer. In
reply though, Quincy only cocked his head at her slightly in a
curious expression, his eyes continuing to stare widely at her.
Looking toward the window then, it slid up halfway, seemingly of it
own accord, revealing Gadget's hang glider sitting upon the outside
ledge, waiting for her. Stepping outside and walking to the ledge,
the cat cast his gaze back at her once more. "Golly!" Gadget cried
out as she spread her arms wide in an almost helpless gesture of
frustration. "Can't you tell me anything? *Somehow?!* I can't very
well help you if you don't *communicate* with me!" Blinking its wide
eyed gaze once, Quincy's only reply was to turn away from her, and
taking a step off the ledge to stand upon the air before him, tucked
his legs under him and his tail about his body before moving off
through the air once more. Sighing heavily in frustration, with a
slight note of annoyance audible in the sound as well, Gadget turned
to pick the glider up into position for flight. 
     The trip through the fog was almost equally long for this trip
as it had been for the one from Ranger Headquarters before they
landed at their next destination. This time around, Gadget followed
as Quincy made his way toward one of the tall, almost skyscraper like
apartment buildings that were scattered in a few places throughout
the city. Landing upon a ledge situated around one of the uppermost
floors, the ghost watched as Gadget landed beside him, and upon
seeing her disembark from the glider, now safely upon the ledge, he
turned his gaze to the window before him. Turning her gaze inside as
well, she looked to find a rather sad sight within as the figures
before her suddenly sprang to life, she and Quincy sliding once more
into the normal flow of the time stream. Within a very modernly
furnished but tasteful and comfortable living room, a man and a woman
stood around either side of a young child, gently holding his arms in
their hands. The child, a small dark haired boy who looked to be around
ten or eleven years of age, was taking some very careful, tentative
steps upon the floor, his entire body looking to be very shaky and
unbalanced. Small wonder though due to the fact that shortly below his
kneecaps, he had no legs to speak of, save for the metal ones which
were attached to them. For a few minutes, Gadget stood transfixed
before the window as she watched the boy stumble upon his prosthetics
for a number of times, the man and woman beside him, catching his
weight as he began to fall. 
     "Jeremy," Gadget heard the woman say gently from within the
lavish apartment, "are you feeling all right?"
     "I'm okay, mom." the boy answered as she and the man on his
other side helped to steady him again. 
     "Are you sure, hon?" the woman continued, her voice clearly
concerned, "You're not feeling dizzy or sleepy, are you?"
     "No mom," Jeremy replied, "why?" he asked, his face still a mask
of concentration as he turned to look at her. 
     "Well its just you seemed to be practicing a lot better just a
few days ago." the woman answered. "Now its almost like you've
forgotten a bit of what you learned. You were walking a lot easier
than you have been these past few days." 
     "Is anything bothering you, son?" the man holding Jeremy's left
arm asked, concern on his face as well. 
     For a moment, Jeremy turned his gaze up toward his father, his
throat swallowing back silently as if he were uncertain whether to
speak or not. "No, I'm okay dad." he replied. "I am feeling a little
tired though, but its nothing bad. Could..could I go to my room?" he
asked, turning a hopeful smile toward his parents. Looking at one
another for a moment, their expressions communicating silently to
each other as to their concern and if there were any objections to
the request, Jeremy's father turned his gaze back down toward his
     "Sure, son," he stated, smiling lovingly down upon him. "Let me
just get your chair."
     Gadget watched Jeremy's mother support both of his arms now, a
heavy feeling of sadness now having lodged within her chest at having
witnessed such a scene. She found her focus distracted from the scene
though, Jeremy's father fetching the boy's wheelchair,  by the motion
of Quincy beside her as he began to move. Drawing her attention, she
watched as he moved a few feet to the right to situate himself beside
the next window upon that level. 
     "What is it?" she asked. Turning his head to look at her with
his never wavering wide eyed stare, the cat tapped his right paw in
front of him twice, his indication clear. <Well at least that's
*something* like communication!> Gadget thought to herself. Leaving
the glider where she had landed it upon the ledge, she walked the few
paces it was before she was positioned before the window, Quincy
sitting upon the ledge behind her. As she did though, the window, as
it had in Susan's apartment, slid open smoothly, as if inviting her
to pass through it. Stepping through, she watched as Quincy stepped
through the opening as well, following the motion of the window a
moment later as it slid itself shut behind them both. "I don't
suppose you'd answer me if I asked what this is about? Why we're
*here?*" she asked with a shrug, casting her gaze up toward him. The
area they were now in was obviously the boy's bedroom. A room that,
other than the parallel bar like apparatus that took up part of the
wall space along the far side of the room, gave no other indication
to the boy's disability. It was a normal little boy's room complete
with posters, toys, and other items that were devoted to heros of
various sports, and superheros as well. Looking toward her, the
specter's only answer was to start past her. Jumping from the window
sill, he alighted upon a small adjacent shelf attached to the wall
that was filled with small statuettes of baseball, football and
hockey players. Shaking off the cold that had settled into her fur
once more from the trip through the fog, Gadget leapt onto the shelf
to join her companion.
     Walking comfortably in the space between the statuettes and the
wall that was barely wide enough for Quincy to squeeze through, she
turned suddenly as the door to the room opened, heralding the
entrance of Jeremy within his wheelchair. Casting a glance over to
her left, she looked to see Quincy sitting upon the shelf, his head
and neck sticking through the space between two of the statuettes.
Not that he needed to worry about knocking any of them over, she
observed, for the top part of his forelegs had disappeared into the
figures on either side of him, lost from sight in their intangible
state. Peering out to observe Jeremy as she saw her companion doing
so intently, she watched as the boy closed the door behind him.
Wheeling his chair over to his computer desk, he presented his
profile to them as he settled in and started the machine up. As she
was able to see the computer screen from her angle, she watched with
curiosity as with a few keystrokes, and taking his mouse in hand, the
boy clicked open a picture viewer program. Her curiosity though
turned to surprise as he clicked upon the title for an image and
within a few seconds, a picture that had been scanned into the
computer displayed itself upon the screen before her eyes. The image
was that of Jeremy in his wheelchair, holding Quincy happily upon his

     <Golly!> thought to herself, her eyes widening slightly at the
sight, < just how many owners does this cat have, anyway?> she
wondered, <Although this does explain what Susan said about him
disappearing for two days, this must have been where he was for that
time. I'm still in the dark as to what this is all about though..>.
With that thought, she moved forward from around the statuettes a
moment later. She knew that there was only one possible way that she
might receive any answers as to what was going on. The only way that
she could possibly piece together this journey her otherworldly
companion had led her on was in the hope that Jeremy could tell her
something about the cat on the screen. The one that had once been
Jeremy's companion and was now the spirit beside her. Leaping back
down from the shelf she was perched on, to the window sill, Gadget
leapt upon the nearby bed, to cushion her descent. Springing from
there to the floor, she raced over to the boy's wheelchair, scaling
up the side of it. Even as she moved, she was constantly aware of
Quincy's spirit watching her every step from the shelf she had just
left, his eyes upon her all the while. 
     Attaining a perch upon the left armrest of the boy's chair,
taking in Jeremy's body language with a note of sympathy as he sat
with his elbows placed upon the computer desk, his head in his hands
as he sat staring with a morose air at the screen, Gadget let out a
loud squeak to him, announcing her presence. His eyes widening at the
sound, Jeremy lifted his head from his hands, and turning to look
over his left shoulder, turned his entire upper body around in the
chair to meet her as he caught sight of her, his face lighting up
with a smile. "Hi!" he called out warmly though with not too much
volume so as not to scare her. "Where did *you* come from?" he asked,
gently holding out his hand with his palm up in the hopes that she
would make her way onto it. Obliging him and stepping forward onto
his hand, Jeremy brought Gadget up to his chest level, stroking her
fur gently upon her head with one finger as Susan had done before. "I
guess you're lucky that Lucky isn't here right now, him being a cat
and all," the boy began, glancing over from Gadget to the computer
screen and back again. "but even though I'm glad that you're here, I
kinda wish he was too, you know?" he asked.
     <Lucky?> Gadget thought, <Well, I guess it only makes sense if
this ghost had different owners when he was alive, he would have
different names as well.> she shrugged inwardly, hoping that Jeremy
would say something that would help her to figure out why the ghost
had enlisted her aid on this quest. However, anything else about the
cat upon the screen that Jeremy might have uttered right then was
stopped cold, as Gadget sat bolt upright then, swinging her head over
to gaze at the far side of the room from the window. 
     "What is it, mousey?" Jeremy asked, noticing her behavior. "Is
something wrong?"
     <I guess you could say that>, Gadget replied in her own
thoughts, looking over to observe the ghost cat of Quincy/Lucky
sitting atop one of the boy's dressers, staring over at her intently.
Raising its right paw, it tapped it twice before itself in the same
manner it had before, its meaning clear. <Well I'd better see what he
     "Hey!" Jeremy cried out in surprise as Gadget suddenly leapt
from his hand, over to the armrest of his chair before springing from
there back down to the floor. "Where are you going?" he asked,
watching her speed away from him.
     Dashing over to the dresser upon which the ghost now sat, Gadget
quickly climbed up it, leaping from the lip of each closed drawer to
the next until she had attained the top. "What is it?" she asked as
she reached the top of the dresser, locking her gaze onto the
specter's. Patting the area beside him with his paw from where he sat
at the back of the dresser, the ghost gave nothing else in the way of
an answer. Joining him without a sound, Gadget stood beside the black
and white cat, looking up at him as the cat now turned his gaze back
out in Jeremy's direction. Turning her sight in that direction as
well, she wondered what this latest mysterious behavior was all
about. A moment later, she found out. Turning his chair away from the
computer desk and wheeling it across the room to stand before the
dresser, Gadget now could not see anything of the boy at all. 
     "Mousey?" the disembodied voice came from over to her from the
side of the dresser. "Are you up there?" Opening her mouth, Gadget
was about to give a short squeak in reply, but her vocalizations were
stopped short as the specter's left paw suddenly moved out to place
itself before her face in a shushing gesture. Looking up at the ghost
in surprise, unable to fathom the reason for this latest action, she
looked back toward the edge of the dresser top as a new sound
presented itself in the next instant. Looking forward, she watched as
one of Jeremy's hands now stretched forward over the top of the
dresser, fumbling blindly before turning to place that same hand,
palm upward as it had before. "Come on mousey," Jeremy called softly
and in a hopeful voice "come on....I won't hurt you mousey, I
promise!" Seeing no reason behind this game that seemed to be going
on with the intent of keeping the child waiting, bordering on teasing
him, Gadget took a step forward. Meaning to move beyond the paw of
the ghost cat, she had not even had a chance to put that paw down
before the same paw that had held her fast before, now came down in
front of her once again, blocking her path as it made contact with
the dresser, its meaning quite clear.
     "What are you doing?!" Gadget snapped out in annoyance as she
swung her gaze back up toward the ghost cat. "I thought you were
*friends* with this child! Why do you want me to tease him? Don't
tell me *he's* the one who caused you to be this way?!" she finished,
pointing over to Jeremy's hand which still lay upon the dresser top,
hopefully waiting for Gadget to hop onto it. 
     "Mousey?" Jeremy called out again, "I know you're up there, I
can hear you! Come on!" he asked in a cajoling voice. "Please?"
     Finishing her somewhat irate accusation, Gadget found herself
shrinking back slightly in the next instant as the ghost cat,
crouching over, brought its head down so that its face was now level
with hers. Looking into the specter's large emerald, luminescent
eyes, she gasped ever so slightly as she saw the slight look of
annoyance and anger at the accusation that was centered there,
clearly readable to her. Even moreso than that though, reflected
within those same eyes she saw clearly a look of determination, as
well of, of focus. That what it was doing it had a very specific, as
well as a *very good reason* for. Picking up the paw that it had set
in her way, he extended it in the direction of the side of the
dresser, where Jeremy now sat, as if he were pointing at something
that Gadget should be watching for. 
     "Well if you won't come down..." She now heard Jeremy say as he
withdrew his hand from the dresser top. A second later, she heard the
clattering of metal, as if Jeremy were fiddling with something. Even
as she did though, a curious look forming on her face at the sound,
she watched as the ghost beside her now stood upon all its four legs,
seeming to ready itself. A moment later, with her attention divided
between the ghost beside her and the edge of the dresser before her,
a movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She
looked to see Jeremy's face come into view from over the top of the
dresser, looking down at her. "So *there* you are!" he called with
delight upon spotting Gadget. Even as Jeremy came into view though,
with a sideways nod of its head to indicate that she should follow,
the specter leapt from the side of the dresser to an adjacent shelf
along the wall. Racing along that, he leapt down to a table below it
before continuing on. With a quick glance over towards Jeremy as he
began to reach for her, now realizing what her companion had in mind,
she leapt from the dresser as well, following his exact path. Around
and across the room many times, the ghost cat led Gadget on the mixed
game of "follow the leader" and "tag" of sorts that had ensued. She
in turn led Jeremy who followed in pursuit upon the prosthetic legs
he was now perched upon, using a pair of metal crutches for balance
as he tried to catch her, smiling with determination and giggling at
almost every step. At times the specter and Gadget halted for a
moment so as to let Jeremy catch up a bit before they started off
again. At times they stopped for many moments as Jeremy would
sometimes lose his balance and fall, with Gadget staying in plain
view as they allowed him to "get his legs" once more before the game
continued. Sometimes they ran circles around him. With the ghost cat
leaping over him, Gadget would actually leap upon the boy from a
nearby shelf or other perch, giving him a false hope at grabbing her
before springing from there to the bed or back to the dresser, the
table or one of the shelves along the walls. Such maneuvers were both
frustrating and confusing to the boy, but all in fun as he stumbled
about, hanging onto both the canes and the furniture throughout the
game, as he tried to figure out where she had gone.
     The mixed game continued for close to a half hour with a
sometimes slow, sometimes frantic pace, when the specter led Gadget
behind the computer monitor once again and stopped, turning its head
back to look along the path they had come. He had done this at the
last place they had hidden as well, as if expecting something. 
     "Mousey?" Jeremy called from behind them, his face appearing at
the beginning of the computer desk. "I sure hope you're feeling tired
too, because I can't keep up anymore. I gotta sit down and rest for
awhile." Hearing this, the ghost lowered his gaze down to lock onto
Gadget's once more. With another sideways nod, he led her out from
around the screen and back over towards Jeremy. Waiting until the boy
had propped up his crutches and settled himself back upon his chair,
they both jumped up upon it as well....
     "This is Lucky," Jeremy explained many minutes later after
cooling down as he displayed the picture of him and the cat upon the
computer screen once more. With Gadget perched before the keyboard on
the desk, looking up at the screen, Jeremy divided his gaze between
her and the screen before him with a smile. "He's my cat." Casting a
quick glance over her shoulder, Gadget smiled as she looked upon her
otherworldly companion, curled up in a ball and resting contentedly
upon Jeremy's lap. It was obvious that the boy could neither see nor
feel his former pet upon his legs, but at least to Quincy/Lucky, it
didn't really matter. With merely being in such a familiar and
comfortable place as this, the action was clearly more than enough to
make the ghost cat happy. The emotion was almost visible upon his
face though certainly palpable, as his eyes were closed in blissful
satisfaction. As the specter still hadn't made a sound all this time
even up to this point, she wasn't sure if the faint sound she heard
was actually him purring, or whether it was simply taking place in
her imagination, influenced by the hum of the computer. Wondering
briefly if he had curled up on Susan's lap as well where she wouldn't
have been able to see him under the table, Gadget noticed that the
ghost's presence upon his old resting spot seemed to have a soothing
effect upon Jeremy as well. It was plain to see that the boy was now
looking upon the picture of himself and "Lucky" with fondness instead
of sorrow. "Actually, Lucky's more like my friend than my cat,"
Jeremy continued as he gently began to pet Gadget between her ears
again. "since I know that he belongs to someone else." With that,
Jeremy clicked off the image on the screen and moving the computer
mouse around slightly, clicked the button again to summon a different
     This one was a similar one to the first, save that Lucky was
nestled in Jeremy's arms in the picture, along with the fact that
although he was still in a wheelchair, Jeremy still had the lower
part of his legs in this one. "He came to me a few years ago, back
when my legs were still there," he continued, pointing to the screen
as if the difference needed to be pointed out. "Mom, dad and I
*still* don't know how he got in the apartment since there's really
not supposed to be any pets allowed here, but we didn't mind, cause
we like animals. He would stay with me for a day before going back to
his real home for awhile, but after a day or two, he would always
come to visit me again. When I was using leg braces instead of my
"new legs" to walk around on," Jeremy went on, now tapping on one of
his prosthetic legs to get Gadget's attention, eliciting a curiously
alert response from the ghost as well as he raised his head, "Lucky,
that's what I called him cause he was always lucky in getting into
the building, and also 'cause he didn't have a name tag, he would
always play with me. He would run around the room like you did,
getting me to chase him before we both got tired, but it always
helped me to practice with the braces. Then, when I got sick and the
doctors had to take away the part of my legs away that were no good,
Lucky stayed with me for a number of days then before he went away
again. We had just started to play again, with me using my new legs
when he went away and didn't come back. I guess his real owner won't
let him go out anymore or maybe he's sick too and can't come out." he
finished with a dejected sigh. "Mom and dad know I miss him, but I
don't know where he lives, so I can't visit him. Are you friends with
him, mousey?" Jeremy asked curiously, "Did you learn how to play from
him?" Turning at Jeremy's question, grinning at the childlike
perception he had just displayed, her attention was suddenly drawn to
the door to her right as a knock sounded upon it.
     "Jeremy?" his mother's voice sounded through the door after the
knock as it began to open, "Who are you talking-" As both the voice
and the motion of the door froze then before her eyes, Gadget whirled
around to cast a quick glance towards Jeremy's now empty lap.
Bouncing her gaze from there, over to the window sill, she saw the
ghost of Quincy/Lucky perched upon it as she had anticipated, waiting
for her to come. 
     "Time to go, huh?" she asked with a mixture between curiosity
and disappointment. Turning his wide eyed staring gaze from her, the
ghost cast it over to linger upon Jeremy for a moment. Then, focusing
his sight once more upon her, he turned to look out the window in
reply. Nodding, her assent, she hopped down from the desk to Jeremy's
chair, to the floor, and from there, made her way to the window sill.
She knew by now that behind the window which would open itself in a
moment, her hang glider would be waiting...
     The next stop through the fog seemed a much longer trip than the
other two and by the time they reached their destination, Gadget was
visibly shivering. Turning toward her as they landed, she could read
a look of concern within the eyes of her companion. "I'm okay,"
Gadget nodded with a small smile of assurance as she hugged her arms
around her body. "I do kinda wish that we were going inside though."
They were in an alleyway between two very large brick buildings.
Around them, the single street which curved about the area was fairly
deserted. Here, in this section of the city, the fog was still thick
around them, having barely begun to burn off as it moistened and
chilled the air about them. With two industrial sized dumpsters
bordering either side of the alley at the beginning of it, the only
other thing occupying it was a refrigerator box, nestled slightly
behind the dumpster on the right side. As they approached it, it gave
a quick frantic shaking motion before a hand appeared around the far
corner of the box which faced into the alley, a face appearing along
with it to look toward them. The face belonged to a man. He was
somewhere in his late twenties or early thirties, though it was hard
to tell through the heavy set of bristled whiskers he sported, as
well as the dirt, dust and grime which covered that face and beard.
Weatherbeaten and with a lost look, Gadget surmised that the homeless
man had been living in this manner for quite some time.   
     "Tom....?" the man called out in an uncertain, drawling voice,
the tone extremely simplistic and monotone. 
     <Golly,....He's *retarded!*> Gadget realized instantly with a
look of sympathy, casting her gaze over to her companion. Seeing the
same emotion that she felt within her heart reflected within the eyes
of the ghost cat, as well as one of affection, only served to doubly
confirm her assessment. Moving forward then, she slowly approached
the man who's clothes seemed to be no more than rags held together by
caked on dirt, when she stopped in her tracks. Watching as she saw
him fully emerge from his box home, she decided to wait for him to
notice her as he looked around.
     "Tom.....?" he called out again, looking around the alleyway,
his posture shifting constantly to suggest an unconscious tick of
some sort. 
     As the homeless man seemed to be almost oblivious to her
presence, despite the fact that she was standing almost right before
him, she moved a few steps closer and let out a small squeak to
announce herself to him, hoping that it would get his attention.
Looking down at the ground before him at the sound, a wide, childlike
grin broke out onto the face of the homeless man as he spotted
Gadget. Lowering himself to kneel upon the ground before her, he
stooped to cup his hands upon the ground in front of her in a
welcoming gesture, a clear look of joy expressing his happiness at
the visit. Swallowing back her  hesitation, for all about the man,
the almost revolting and palpable stench of filth, garbage and decay
could be felt as well as smelled, Gadget smiled at the invitation.
Taking a deep breath, she stepped forward onto the homeless man's
outstretched hands. Raising himself up quickly, now grasping Gadget
in both of his hands, the man launched into a quick dance of
happiness, lasting for all of a second or two. His expression and
body language seeming to be akin to that of a kid on Christmas
morning. Shuffling back then towards the wall of the alley and
placing his back to the dumpster on the right side of it, he slid
down upon it into a sitting position. 
     Drawing his hands close to the side of his face and closing his
eyes, he pressed Gadget's soft fur against his skin, squeezing her
tightly with both hands in what looked like a hug. In spite of his
affectionate demeanor though, it was clear that the homeless man
didn't know his own strength. For what was a simple lingering hug to
him was even more than a crushing bear hug on Gadget's side. A pained
look appearing on her face, she began to try to struggle for her
freedom from the overpowering grip which had already cut off her air,
a few muffled cries for help and for her release escaping from
between the man's fingers as well. Looking up at her and the homeless
man from where he sat on the ground, the ghost cat was not oblivious
to his companion's plight as he heard her cries and watched her
struggles. A look of concern coming into his wide eyed and haunting
stare, he raised a single intangible paw to place it's pads gently
against the man's leg. Instantly opening his eyes then as if he were
awakening from a dream with something of a blank look, the homeless
man removed his hands from his face. Opening his hands as well much
to Gadget's relief, she gasped in a lungful of air, coughing it out
in the same breath from the slight pain in her ribs. Blinking once,
the man looked over to the side where the ghost cat sat, staring at
him in a wide eyed expression of surprise and wonder as similarly,
the specter stared back at him with its same wide eyed look.
     "Tom...?" the retarded man asked in his simple voice, cocking
his head slowly as he looked at the cat sitting before him. Only for
a moment did this scene last though, for in the next, once again
closing his eyes and shaking it roughly, he opened them again to look
towards Gadget once again who still lay in his hands, trying to sit
     "Iiii'm.......sorry..."  the homeless man called out to her, a
look of genuine remorse upon his face. "I....I *like*"
Placing a very gentle finger upon Gadget's head then to stroke her
fur lightly, even as she winced a bit, the man continued, "My is....Ad-am...." Then, picking his finger off of her
head, Adam's eyes lit up as he scrambled to his feet suddenly, a
flurry of frenetic activity as if something were of dire urgency.
"Come...come...on!" he called out to her, grasping her much more
gently now in his right hand. "I....I show you....*things*.." With
that, his face lighting up happily once more, he set off at a fast
paced shuffle towards the farther reaches of the alley. 
     After about fifty steps in, Gadget found that the alleyway
blossomed out into almost a small courtyard. The building to the left
was shaped so that like a scoop, a large indentation was formed out
of the passage that was about twenty feet wide before narrowing back
into the rest of the alleyway. As they turned left into this spacious
area, what she saw there astounded her. Electronic devices.
*Hundreds* of electronic devices, sat upon half broken wooden crates
throughout the area. All of them were strung together by what looked
like salvaged electric cord that had been respliced together from all
the insulating tape that had been wrapped around it at different
areas. Connected into reworked strip plugs, the electricity for the
devices came from an underground supply from what she could see, the
cord which delivered the power to the devices, running into a manhole
on the far side of the alleyway. 

     What was *truly* captivating about this sight though, was the
fact that the devices clearly weren't what they had originally been
made to be. Like the crates they sat upon, the devices had clearly
been broken in some way in their lifespan. Unlike the crates though,
Adam had served to breath a new and different life into them, saving
them from the junkpile for his own collection. Answering machines had
been merged with boomboxes. Digital clocks had been merged with Video
Cassette Recorders and tape players. Many examples of electronic and
mechanical tinkering, merging, and experimenting lay throughout the
area, like a collage of mismatched electronic hybrids created by a
Dr. Frankenstein of the silicon age. Some of the new devices were
truly unique as well as a bit bizarre to behold, even for one of
Gadget's particular talents. One such example lay in a certain
digital alarm clock that Adam presented in his tour. Though only the
minutes portion of the LCD was still operating, to give some color
and light back to the device that had been taken away from it, Adam
had grafted a fiber optic color lamp into its circuitry. From the
looks of it, it was as if the clock was sporting a Jamaican haircut
of very fine dreadlocks that changed color every few seconds as the
fibers rotated about the clock's base. From this and from other
examples, Gadget couldn't help but to giggle a bit, though it was
only in delight. Being an inventor herself, she could never find it
in herself to ridicule an invention, no matter how odd it appeared to
be. From the look of awe and glee upon her face though, as it had
been with Adam before, this time it was Gadget's turn to appear akin
to a child faced with a roomful of toys on Christmas morning. 

     <Golly!> Gadget thought to herself, looking over to observe
Adam's tools which had also looked as though they had been scavenged
and fixed up, <this is *incredible!* He's just like me! Taking
whatever he can find at hand and making it work for him. Its really a
shame that he has to live this way though. Why, with his talent, I'm
sure that a number of people would be glad to have him on hand, if
only he knew that he didn't have to live like thi....wait a minute!>
she cried excitedly in her thoughts as a sudden realization of hope
hit her. Leaping off of Adam's hand, she quickly scampered down his
clothes. Hitting the ground running, she called out to the specter
who sat a few feet away upon the alley floor, watching her sudden
movement as she began to run past. "Don't worry!" she called out, "I
just had an idea! I'll be back in a little bit!" Before she had a
chance to blink though, before she even had an inkling that any
movement on her companion's part had occurred though, Gadget found
the ghost sitting directly in front of her, blocking her path. With a
touch of sorrow in its wide eyed stare, it looked from her, back over
towards Adam. The homeless man stood there with a look of confusion
and sorrow on his own face at his "company's" sudden departure.
Taking in his friend's expression, the ghost cat turned his gaze back
down toward Gadget once more. A questioning gaze in his eyes, he
crouched down so that his face was now directly in front of hers, as
though he were trying to see the reason for her sudden and somewhat
harsh departure. With a gentle smile, Gadget met his gaze directly. 
     "Look, Quin, er,...gosh! I don't even know what to call you
anymore!" she began, shaking her head and spreading her arms in a
shrugging gesture. "Just *listen* to me! I know of a way to help your
friend that'll be much more effective than just keeping him company
here. Something that, if I'm right, will help him get a much better
and happier life than what he has now. I need to act *quickly*
though, so you just have to trust me since I don't have time to
explain!" Here she stopped as she took in a deep breath before
continuing. "I trusted you to follow you through all of this. Can you
do the same for me, now?" she asked simply.
     Still unmoving, the specter continued to look into Gadget's soft
blue eyes for many moments, as though he were considering her words,
though no expression appeared on his face to show it in any way. With
that look as well though, was that same question that she could see
within his eyes, as to what she had in mind that could do all that
she said she could accomplish. Weighing the possibilities, the ghost
raised himself up once more to step out of her path a moment later.
"Thank you." Gadget stated humbly, smiling sincerely at him as she
looked up at the ghost once more before taking off again. Tucking her
glider under a piece of newspaper and leaving it behind, she
continued out of the alley and straight ahead to the end of the
block, hopping onto the fender of a car as it stopped for a red
light. She remembered this area of the city. As it happened, someone
whom the Rescue Rangers had solved a case for a number of months back
was operating near here. That someone, was Benjamin Morganson, and
his company by the name of Century Technologies, which was in the
business of making printed circuit boards for numerous manufacturers.
<If my hunch is right....> she thought to herself slyly as she
transferred from the car she was on, to a bus at the next light,
taking her in the direction she wanted to go. Thankfully, the
distance that she had to travel was not all that long. In a little
over five minutes, hopping off the bumper of the bus, she found
herself at the entrance to the company, and letting herself in
through the mail slot, made her way to the President's office on the
first floor....
     Entering the office through the small space between the glass
door and the carpet, she found the very person she was looking for,
Benjamin Morganson, talking to a person she recognized as the vice
president of the company. Slipping discreetly behind the pair, she
quickly climbed up the curtains which hung on the far wall from the
double doors. Jumping to the cluttered desk which sat before them,
she quickly began to look over his organizer schedule for the week.
<Just as I thought....> she grinned to herself as she spotted a
circled notation upon the page. Withdrawing from the book she made
her way to a corner of the desk where her anticipated target lay.
That target namely being the keys to his brand new sports luxury
coupe, still complete with the key ring that the dealership had
provided. She had remembered Morganson since in one way that Adam was
like herself, in another way, Morganson was a bit as well,...*only
much worse*. That way being, that although the man was able to
accomplish many large and significant tasks of personal merit with
his company, he did have a small fault. That fault namely, was that
in many small day to day personal matters of minor detail, such as
getting another copy of his car keys made to replace the duplicate
set he had lost,  he was often quite absentminded to a fault. Having
overheard his intention to "finally" get the duplicate set made when
she had been on that case with the rest of her teammates, she
couldn't help but to shake her head in astonishment. Even though she
had anticipated it, she still found it hard to believe that anyone
could be quite *so* forgetful about certain things. Disengaging the
key ring for his car from the rest of Morganson's personal keys, she
made a point of running directly across his line of sight. Jangling
the keys loudly for effect, she ducked underneath one of the glass
doors and sprinted for a hiding place she had seen underneath a
cabinet. Behind the glass doors, back in his office, a quick take on
Morganson's part from Gadget's exit to the empty space on his desk
where his keys had been, was all that it took before the pandemonium
     Practically everyone in the tri story building must have heard
the alarmed shout that issued loudly forth from inside the office as
Morganson crashed through the doors. Looking frantically one way and
then the other, he immediately began calling out to all those within
earshot, explaining the situation and his instructions to "get that
packrat!!" before starting off through the floor of the building
himself. Flitting from hiding place to hiding place, staying just out
of sight of the employees that were now scurrying around, trying to
find her, Gadget stealthily made her way out of building and into the
employee parking lot. In spite of herself, she couldn't help but to
grin at all the chaos and mischief that she was causing. She normally
was not one to ever cause anyone trouble through any sort of a stunt
like this, save for criminals like Fat Cat and his gang or their
human criminal counterparts. However,  neither she nor the other
Rangers had started any sort of prank of sorts either on each other,
or on any criminals in a number of weeks. With that, she had to admit
that the stunt gave her an impishly playful feeling that she had
missed. Entering into the parking lot, Gadget made her way up to the
parking space that read "Reserved: Mr. Morganson". Stopping and
looking over the car that was parked there for a moment, she cast her
gaze back toward the building once again, with a sly look. <This
ought to bring him running...> she grinned. Turning the small
plastic box which controlled the switch for the car alarm toward the
new auto, she casually pressed her hand upon the button.
     Inside the building, Benjamin Morganson was busy crawling under
a desk, looking for Gadget and his pilfered keys when the alarm went
off. His eyes widening suddenly at the sound, he seemed to forget
where he was at the moment as he hastily tried to stand up, slamming
his head up against the bottom of it. Still clutching his bruised
head with one hand and muttering some rather undignified language, he
was out in the parking lot in under a half minute along with a few of
his employees. 
     "Split up," the forty year old entrepreneur called out to them.
As they did, a helpless look of annoyance spread over his face.
Looking upon the ground, he could only glare out at his car which was
starting to make his headache even worse with its annoying array of
alarm noises, knowing that without the remote he couldn't shut it off
either. "That mouse has got to be *somewhere* around here!" With
that, shaking his head in disgust, the head of Century Technologies
stooped to examine the underside of his vehicle. Trying to cover his
ears, he began to wonder why in the world he had decided to have an
alarm system installed on the car in the first place. Sitting on the
roof of a car parked across the street, Gadget observed all this
activity with a patient grin, waiting for the other employees to
distance themselves a bit from Morganson before putting the next part
of her plan into action. In a few more moments, seeing that the other
employees were far enough as they too crouched to look under cars,
and seeing Benjamin starting to turn away from her as he got to his
feet, she acted. Taking a small magnifying lens from the pocket of
her coveralls along with a mouse sized penlight that she had made,
she activated the device. Focusing the beam, she directed it towards
the executive's eyes. Seeing the desired effect that she had wanted,
as Benjamin reflexively looked up toward the tiny pinpoint of light,
she immediately stuffed her tools back in her pockets. Picking up the
keys and alarm switch in her hands again, she jangled the set a few
times while looking at him. A split second later, she was off and
running again. 
     Though Benjamin's few shouted words had alerted his employees as
to her whereabouts, a few minutes later as Gadget had anticipated,
the chase had come down to her and Benjamin alone. The others had
been left too far behind to catch up. Unlike many of the employees
that begun the chase along with him, the entrepreneur was in
excellent physical shape, able to keep the distance between them to
no more than a quarter of a block. That, along with the fact that she
knew that when the entrepreneur set his mind to a specific, important
goal, he didn't let up until he had attained it, gave her an edge in
planning her strategy. She knew that even though he might tire as
they continued to race the almost two miles it was from his company
back to the alley, as long as she kept herself in his line of sight,
like someone with tunnel vision, he would not stop chasing her. At
times, it was *she* who had to stop to catch her breath for a minute
or more, hiding herself and the keys from his sight until she had,
before flaunting her "prize" once again, catching his attention and
beginning the chase anew. Finally, sprinting back into the alleyway
she had left once more, she deposited the keys and alarm box near the
middle of the passageway, but a foot or two from Adam's refrigerator
box home. Knowing that Benjamin would arrive behind her in a matter
of moments, she quickly ducked underneath the dumpster on the left
     "Finally!" Benjamin Morganson breathed out upon circling around
into the entrance of the alley to spy his keys having been left
behind. Scooping them up, his thinning jet black hair in a wild
disarray from the frantic sprint he had undertaken, he wavered a bit.
Stepping backwards, he placed his back to the alley wall for support,
almost completely out of breath. <Let's hear it for small favors,> he
thought to himself as he waited for his heart to stop beating so
quickly. <That mouse *could* have taken them in the sewers! What
would a mouse want with keys anyway?> he wondered. Shrugging an
answer to himself, still waiting for his breathing to return to
normal, his head suddenly turned toward his right, toward the
interior of the alleyway as a movement caught his eye. Looking out,
he watched as a transient man came walking not all that gracefully
toward him, shambling slightly down the passage. From his tone as he
called out a greeting, it was clear to Morganson that thankfully, the
man was not insane or drunk, but dealing with a mentally retarded
derelict was not something that he was up to at the moment, either.
He had to get back to the office in a hurry to make up for this
delay, as well as to shut off his car alarm which he knew must be
driving every one within earshot, crazy.
     "He.....hellooo...." Adam called out happily to Benjamin as the
executive watched him approach. "You...ta-..t-t...*talk*..with
me...?" he asked as he smiled at the idea, showing yellowed and
filthy teeth that had not been cleaned in possibly years. 
     "Whoa," Benjamin called out, waving the man away as politely as
he could as he backed up toward the entrance to the alley. "I'm
sorry, but I wasn't staying, friend," he replied, "just go back to
whatever it was you were doing, and I'll be on my way."
     The smile disappearing from his face as he stopped in his
advance, Adam turned to train a curious look upon this visitor to his
home for a moment, cocking his head before a new, excited look lit up
his face once more. Jumping up and down with glee, he pointed a
tatter clad finger at Benjamin while simultaneously pointing his
other hand back toward the inner part of the alley.
"*Th*...*th*...*things*!!" he called out before running back into the
alley from where he had come. 
     "Yeesh..." Benjamin mumbled to himself, in a mixed tone of
relief for himself and sympathy for the mentally handicapped man who
was living in such a manner. Turning then, he  looked toward a street
sign across the way. "Whoa! I ran a lot farther than I thought!" he
stated to himself in surprise, his hand going to the cellular phone
that he kept holstered around his waist. Activating it, and punching
two buttons that dialed from the phone's memory, he held the receiver
to his ear. "Hello? Linden?" he asked as the other end was picked up.
"Yeah, its me...yeah I got my keys," he replied as he stepped outside
the alleyway, continuing to look at the street sign. "You wouldn't
believe how far I had to chase that critter down to, to get em!" he
     "Come on...*come ooon*....!" Gadget mumbled anxiously to herself
as she looked from Benjamin toward the interior of the alleyway and
back again, trying to will the executive to stay there a few moments
longer, as she tried to equally will Adam to come back with at least
one of his "things". <Come on, spirit, help him get out here, would
you?> she silently pleaded, her entire body tense. 
     "Yeah, I need you bring the limo around for me, okay?" Benjamin
asked, continuing his conversation. "Great!" he smiled, "Huh?" he
asked, "Oh, *right!*" he laughed, smacking the side of his head
lightly. "I'm still a little winded from that run! I'm at the corner
of Tw-" he began to say before a slight tap on the side of his arm
made him spin about abruptly. Looking at the sight which now stood
before him, he stood there blinking for a moment dumbfoundedly in a
stare, before he opened his mouth once more. "...Linden, I'll call
you back." he finally said in a distractedly remote voice before
flipping the mouthpiece for the cellular phone up, abruptly
terminating the call. 
     "Things...!" Adam said with a calm happiness as he stood there,
smiling and holding out the fiber optic lamp/alarm clock out to him,
having attached a reworked battery pack to it so that it now ran
independently of the electrical wiring in the alley. "Gift...for
you..." he stated as Benjamin took the device from Adam's hands into
his own. For many moments, Benjamin could only stare at the device
with a look of shocked awe. Turning it in every angle as he observed
its construction and the modifications that had been done to it, from
the connected circuitry that was exposed and visible through the
casing, Benjamin finally spoke. Turning his slightly slack jawed
expression toward Adam, he didn't even seem to notice or mind now,
that the man he had not let near him before was now only a foot away
from him. 
     "*You* made this?" Benjamin finally asked, turning his gaze up
from the device toward Adam's smiling face. Receiving a more than
vigorous, enthusiastic nodding in reply from Adam as his grin grew
even wider, Benjamin could only blink in awe at the decrepit, reeking
young man who stood before him. "How?" he finally asked, posing the
question definitely and with curiosity, though his tone seemed to say
that it was the only word he could muster up at the moment. Jumping
up and down again with glee slightly, Adam waved him forward with his
left hand as he stepped back into the alleyway, pointing with his
right, back toward the unseen alcove that stood further in. As the
two men proceeded back toward Adam's small "workshop", Gadget
carefully followed them in as well. Concealing herself behind bits of
garbage, she jokingly wondered if keeping out of sight was a futile
effort. Considering the overflowing satisfaction and happiness she
felt pouring out of her that made her feel positively radiant,
sporting a smile that was even wider than Adam's, she felt she would
be spotted a mile away. 
     "Linden, it's me again," Benjamin said a number of minutes
later, still sporting an amazed look on his face after being toured
through Adam's collection of inventions, staring over at the derelict
as even now, he made some more modifications to one of his devices
with a soldering iron... "Listen, slight change of plans, I still
need you to bring the limo around, but before you go, I want you to
grab the keys to the midtown apartment that're sitting on my desk.
Also make sure the fridge in the limo is fully loaded. Don't worry,
I'll tell you all about it when you get down here, now get moving.
I'm at the corner of..." he continued, holding his cellular phone in
one hand as he now continued to look over the "gift" he had gotten in
his other.
     "Are you sure about this, sir?" the man named Linden stated in a
somewhat confused, hesitant tone a number of minutes later as the
stretch limo stood parked outside the alleyway, now holding Adam in
its spacious back seat along with a few of his "things". 
     "I appreciate your concern, Linden," Benjamin stated patiently
as he stood before him, his hands in his pockets, "but I know what
I'm doing. You understand everything that *you* have to do, I trust?"
he asked in a straightforward, no nonsense manner.
     "Yes, sir." the young blond haired intern nodded with no other
note of objection in his voice. 
     "Good," Benjamin replied with a warm, satisfied smile then,
nodding at him in turn. "Then get going. I'll see you back at the
office when everything's taken care of."
     From her vantage point atop the dumpster on the left side of the
alley, Gadget nodded with satisfaction to herself as well, as she sat
hidden within the shadows. She had watched as Benjamin explained
before Linden's arrival, in as basic a manner as he could, an offer
to Adam of going to work for him at his company which dealt with
technology. It was an offer which to the satisfaction of all, Adam
accepted with his ever present level of enthusiasm. However,
Morganson's generosity had only begun with that point. For as he had
explained moments before to the young intern Linden, until he had
been trained to work at a specific job at Century Technologies, and
until he had earned enough at that job to rent an apartment for his
own, Adam was to be taken to the apartment that Morganson had in the
upper class district of the city, to stay there. As Morganson used
the apartment on the semi rare occasion when he had worked too late
to merit a drive to his house, he had stated with assurance that he
could do without it for a time. Once there, Linden had been
instructed to make sure that the man was thoroughly bathed, calling
in a professional nurse or attendant to help if it appeared that Adam
didn't know how. In addition, Linden was to make the arrangements
that some fresh clothes be bought and ordered up to the apartment for
him, with his present ones to be burned. For last, but more immediate
matters, he had been instructed that Adam be properly fed. He was to
be brought to the barber, his long knotted hair trimmed, his beard
shaved, and that as time allowed the following day, he be brought to
Morganson's personal dentist and his personal physician to have his
teeth cleaned and his general health checked. In essence, as
Morganson had jokingly put it to Linden, "Let me see what he looks
like underneath that mess."
     "Sir?" Linden asked, another confused look appearing on his
face, "don't you want me to drop you off at the office?"
     "Thanks, Linden," Morganson smiled, waving the offer away with a
hand, "but I'm feeling quite good at the moment. I'll *walk* back." A
look of realization dawning upon his face then, as though he had just
remembered something, taking out his car keys from his pocket, he
detached the remote alarm switch from the keychain and tossed it to
him. "Please turn the alarm off though. I'm sure everyone's tearing
their hair out about it by this time. Just leave it on my desk."
Watching as with a final nod, Linden made his way around to the
drivers side of the car to drive off a moment later, Morganson then
turned his attention again to the alleyway behind him. Dipping his
hand into his left pocket then, he withdrew a small golden cross
shaped pendant from it. Resting it in his palm for a moment, he
considered it before grasping it and replacing it back into his
pocket. "Thanks little fella," he said aloud to the alley around him
in a semi jesting tone, smiling as he playfully tossed his keys in
the air.  Catching them, he turned about and began the small trek
back toward his business.          
     "You're welcome." Gadget returned from where she sat upon the
dumpster. Watching him go, she turned then to the specter laying
beside her who had watched Morganson leave as well, seeing him turn
towards her as well at that moment. Though still no expression was
visible on the spirit's face, she could clearly read at this point, a
proud look of happiness as well as respect and thanks visible with
his eyes, in the look that he bestowed upon her. "Golly, thanks," she
replied, a slight blush coming to her face, a blush that rapidly
faded with alarm as the specter began to appear rapidly more
translucent, disappearing before her eyes. "Hey, wait!" she cried
out. Heeding her call, the ghost cat ceased his Cheshire cat
impression and faded back into full view, a question in his eyes that
she could read almost as well as any words. Casting her eyes over the
face of the specter, her own face was filled with questions. "Is that
it, then?" she asked. In answer to this, looking over to the piece of
newspaper which covered up her hang glider, through unseen forces,
the specter removed it, and levitating the craft over to land before
her on the dumpster, continued to look at her as he pointed in the
direction out of the alleyway, his answer clear. "Golly," Gadget
began uncertainly, looking at him curiously, "I'll be glad to visit
all your friends and keep them company whenever I have time, but you
still never showed me what this was all about in the first place. Why
did you pick *me* for all of this," she asked, placing her hands
against her chest, "and *what happened* to you, anyway?" she
finished, extending a hand out toward the spirit to indicate him. 
     Blinking once at her question, the spirit looked away from her
for a moment. Looking off into the air outside of the alley, he
turned his head back a moment later, training his gaze directly upon
hers once more, the message in his eyes conveying a slightly aloof
message. A message that the reason he had picked her and what had
happened to him really wasn't of any importance. Shaking her head at
his response, a gently insisting look entered upon Gadget's
expression as she reached out a paw to place it atop his own
intangible one. "*Please*," she stated compassionately, "I'd really
like to know." Turning his head away from her again for a moment, the
ghost cat looked toward the air once more, seeming to consider her
request with a strangely saddened air about him. Turning back towards
her and turning away once more to consider again for a few moments,
he raised himself upon his paws. He cast his gaze back at her before
nodding his head sideways in a motion for her to follow. Taking her
glider in hand once more, she took to the air, following the spirit
once again.
     Their trip took them a few miles to the South this time, a
slightly shorter distance than their last trip. Here, a construction
site was in operation, though the site lay dormant for the moment.
The large machines sat unmanned upon the lot with no workers bustling
about the large steel framework either. As they landed upon the site,
with a new batch of fog appearing to roll in towards them to replace
what had burnt off, the specter led Gadget to a large garbage
dumpster. It appeared similar to the ones in the alleyway they had
left, laying just outside of the construction that was underway. Once
more, as unexpected as ever, she was aware of the two of them
slipping outside of the timestream as the people on the sidewalks
about her abruptly stopped in their tracks. She climbed up the
structure to the sidebars away from the lid. Watching as the specter
sat waiting for her, levitating before the canister, she couldn't
help put to feel an uneasy sensation of nervousness creeping into her
stomach. Looking from her down toward the cover of the dumpster, with
an unseen gesture, the cover raised itself up slowly before flipping
over on its hinge to rest itself against the back of the can. 
     Gasping aloud in horror, Gadget raised her hands to cover her
mouth, fighting back the urge to scream as she viewed what was
inside. Looking down from where it sat levitating in the air, the
ghost cat gazed upon the mangled remains of its former body. As if
nothing were wrong with the body at all, the cat simply cast its eyes
upon the gruesome sight with as blank and unreadable an expression as
he had through most of the time he had been with Gadget. His eyes
never changed their widened, slitted pupil expression. "How did this
*happen*?" Gadget finally found herself able to choke out, turning
away from the sight and looking up in sympathy at the floating
spirit. "*Who did this to you*?" Turning his gaze over from his now
vacant body over toward his female companion once again, the specter
looked at her for a moment before looking away into the interior of
the construction site, giving her a familiar sideways nod that she
should follow. 
     Leading her from the sidewalk upon which the dumpster sat, into
the interior of the construction site, he stopped where a large mound
of soil and some boulders now sat, piled behind an empty dumptruck.
Stopping beside the mound, he turned his attention to the ground
before him, waiting for Gadget to approach. Stopping where the spirit
now sat upon the ground, Gadget turned her attention toward the same
spot as well. As she did, a light wind began to stir, lightly
sweeping away the dirt before them to reveal a set of-"Kitten
tracks?" she said aloud, recognizing the shape as she noticed a
cluster of the tracks in a certain area, some of them streaked, some
not. Right next to the dirt mound, a set of the tracks stood, facing
the pile, while beyond the cluster of mixed and confused tracks, the
paw prints were farther spaced apart, indicating that the kitten had
begun running. It was at the moment that her mind began to put these
clues together, her head abruptly swinging toward a street sign to
see exactly *where* they were, that the fog that had grown thick
about the area, now settled around them fully. The fog absorbed
everything from sight, including the ground beneath her feet. Then
the voices began.....
     "All right, Lou! That's far enough! Let it go!" Listening
curiously to the words, Gadget turned her head toward the sound,
aware even as she heard it, that something was amiss. Blinking, she
found herself looking from across the street to view the dumptruck in
the construction yard, now shuddering as it began to raise its
     "Okay Ed! Coming down!" the unseen worker in the truck called
     Looking down, she found herself in the body of the black and
white cat, looking through its eyes. It was then that she saw the
kitten dash into the construction yard, stopping directly behind the
dumptruck as the worker beside the truck turned away at that instant,
oblivious as to its presence. Seeing the impending danger, she found
herself sprinting forward in the cat's body, though she knew she had
no control over the action. She was just barely aware of the fact
that she was a spectator here, the whole scene proceeding with a
dreamlike slowness. Watching with an ever growing terror, the truck
continued to raise itself up, about to spill its contents out upon
the hapless young feline. She yelled out a warning, but saw no
reaction on the young cat's part. Close enough now, she found herself
springing, colliding into the kitten as she knocked it away, just
before the rain of stones and dirt began to crash down upon her. Pain
shooting through her in different parts of her body she found a
crushing weight cutting the air off from her lungs a moment later.
The last light from the sun ceased to exist before a cold darkness
swallowed her totally...and suddenly the light from the sun was upon
her once again. Picking herself up from where she had landed face
first in the dirt, she saw herself now within the kitten's body.
Standing, she started forward uncertainly to sniff at the pile of
dirt where something had shoved her a moment before, skittering back
a bit as the dirt from the rest of the truck now continued to trickle
down. Cautiously, she moved forward once more to sniff the air. 
     After two sniffs, she caught the scent of something then that
made her blood run cold, a chill like she had never felt before
sweeping through her fur. She bolted away from the pile in terror,
only vaguely aware of how unnaturally silent everything was about
her. Different scenes flashed before her eyes then. Scenes of running
through crowds, away from the unknown and frightening thing she had
found in the lot. Scenes of near misses from large metal monsters
who's tires did not squeal as they halted. Of large things with four
paws that were not cats like her, their mouths opening and closing
rapidly with no noise as they chased her. All of this and more
though, was still nowhere near as frightening as what she had found
in the lot, as she tried to outrun the fear that chased her more
insistently than anything else she encountered. Finally, with still
many more scenes running through her mind in instant flashes as she
felt the fear continuing to work its way through her heart and mind,
the adrenaline pulsing through her body, she found herself running
down a street. Casting a quick, frantic look over her shoulder to see
who was chasing her this time,..she found herself falling...and
stopping. Looking down at the open manhole that now lay below her and
the small device that had stuck itself onto her back, attached to a
strange looking bird in the sky that she had never seen before, she
fainted away then...only to wake up, looking into the kind eyes of a
female mouse with blond head fur who wore goggles and clothing. A
mouse who petted her fur as she lay there, with others standing
around her as well. A mouse who's mouth moved but made no sound like
the things that were not cats. A mouse though who's eyes were kind,
who's eyes seemed to say that everything was going to be all
right....At that point, the fog rolled in once again, engulfing
everything as it had before.
     "Whoa! Hey, man! What was that?"
     "I think it was a kitten, Ed!...You don't think I hit anything,
do you?"
     "Don't know...Come on, we'd better check, Ed."
     ................"Oh man,.....oh *crud*, man!.....The poor
thing.....I think I'm gonna be *sick*......!"
     "Oh man...tough break....come on, Ed, hold it in...Lets get it
out of there...We'll put 'im in the dumpster Ed. We can't bury him
here. Someone'll take care of it.".............
     With that, as the fog lifted a bit once more, the last echoes of
the disembodied voices fading from her mind, Gadget found herself
standing within the empty construction yard once more, their place in
the timestream having resumed as humans began to move down the
sidewalk once more. Trembling slightly, she turned her gaze away from
the street sign she had been looking toward, her color having paled
from the unearthly experience she had just been through. She turned
her frightened but now understanding gaze upon the spirit before her.
"The deaf kitten.." she began, swallowing the lump that was now in
her throat. "The deaf kitten that had been reported missing to the
police station a few days ago...The kitten that we had spotted and
started chasing yesterday, only a mile or so from here..."she
continued, pointing toward the street sign. "*You* were what
happened!" she exclaimed softly in a near whisper. "*You* were the
reason that I couldn't rest after that case...You..." she stated,
halting slightly as she turned her gaze from the eyes of the specter,
towards the small mountain of dirt beside her, to the dumpster a
short distance off "..saved her..." A rush of sadness began to well
up inside her then as she looked from the dumpster, back toward the
spirit of the cat, threatening to spill out of her in a tide as tear
stains began to streak down the fur of her cheeks. A look then came
into the eyes of the spirit. Like the others, it was a look that she
would have been able to read, had she not glanced over then to view
the dumpster once again as she took in the gaze of the cat spirit as
well. As she did though, the sadness that had built up within her so
quickly, now broke through in a torrent. Her body  racking with
choking sobs, she tore away from the area and the specter, sprinting
back towards her hang glider. Lifting its right forepaw momentarily
as she ran from him then, as if hastening to keep her there and
console her somehow, it hesitated in its movement, uncertain of what
to do. A look of sympathy and concern prevalent in its gaze even as
it now slowly returned its paw to the ground, a look of slight
confusion mixed within its gaze as well as the spirit watched Gadget
race off. His gaze upon her, he watched as with the glider in her
hands, Gadget quickly scaled the face of the brick building sitting
behind the dumpster, leaping off to soar away from sight into the fog
covered skies.....
     The fog was only slightly noticeable within the area known as
*cat alley*. Though a shade or two thicker along the streets
adjoining its alley walls, the almost thirty- strong number of
felines of various shapes, sizes and fur shades that lounged,
cavorted, chatted and dined within the area this night, were not
mindful that much of the thick clouds surrounding them. What they
*were* instantly mindful of though, was the drawn out cry of alarm
from above that brought all their eyes instantly skyward in alert
watchfulness. An instant later, a streak of motion followed by a
crashing sound terminated the cry, as the unexpected intrusion
crashed into the top of a half covered metal garbage can.  The cat
who had sat atop it barely  vacated the path of the incoming object
only a split second before. A moment of tensed anticipation followed
for all for a moment before any spoke.
     "*What* theee....heckwasthat?!" a golden and white furred male
called out reflexively, staring out at the metal can that still
vibrated slightly from the impact of a moment before, the lid
threatening to fall to the ground before finally settling back on top
of the receptacle. Murmuring "rowrs", "maows" and "raows" of
uncertainty resounded throughout the numbers of the assembled cats in
the area at the question, all of them looking at one another and the
can before they cautiously began to move forward. A particularly bold
grey and white furred cat, who was known in the alley by the name of
"Fisher", was the first to reach the can, bounding forward before the
others. Leaping atop an empty wooden crate next to it to sniff the
air before the can, his eyes lit up happily, his face now showing a
surprised, hungry look upon it.
     "Hey!" he cried excitedly, licking his chops as he smacked the
lid away from the can to clatter upon the alley floor, balancing
himself on the lip of the can as he scooped his prize out, holding it
up before the crowd for all to see. "Meals from *heaven*!" Fisher
laughed aloud, holding an unconscious Gadget up by the tail before
him. Some of the cats around Fisher laughed at his remark as some
slapped the ground in disappointment at not having found the bravery
quick enough to claim such a tasty morsel before him. Leaping to the
ground, Fisher held Gadget's dangling form above his waiting mouth,
about to drop her into his already watering gullet. "Down the hatch!"
he called for a affect, opening his mouth wide. 
     "Wait a second, Fisher...!" a tabby/grey cat called out
meaningfully as he approached him, his eyes peering carefully at
     "Hey, no tricks, Rooftop!" Fisher called suspiciously, backing
up and drawing Gadget away from him. "Don't even *think* about trying
to swipe her! I found this one fair and square!" 
     Narrowing his eyes to give Fisher a silencing look, the serious
expression on his face saying that such an accusation was unwarranted
in this case, Rooftop stretched himself forward to gently sniff the
air around Gadget. His eyes went wide as he did.
     "Fisher, you can't eat this mouse. She-"
     "I *knew* it!" Fisher snarled, now grabbing Gadget fully in his
paw defensively as he backed up, looking like he might try to eat
Gadget on the spot and run, his tail lashing behind him. "What kind
of lame crud is this, furball?!"
     "Fisher..!" Rooftop called out warningly, trying to get him to
listen, "You weren't hanging out here at the time, but surely you
must've heard *stories* at least about the day and night that Cat
alley was no more?!"
     Murmurs of respectful and shocked recognition swept through the
crowd at the reference, the stories having been told many times of
that night long ago. That night when large metal machines that were
shaped like dogs, came to cat alley and captured all of its
inhabitants, bringing them to a deranged and twisted human who used
other machines to roughly draw electricity from their fur. A story in
which some very unusual rodents and an insect fought with the great
metal constructs and their human owner, defeating them and freeing
all the cats that had been captured.**
     "What about it?" Fisher asked, not having moved yet from his
defensive stance.
     "This is one of the rodents that rescued us." Rooftop stated
matter of factly, pointing toward Gadget as small gasps and sounds of
questioning recognition resounded about him. "I was close enough to
catch their scents, as well as to see them clearly when I was in my
cage, watching them rescue that first kitten. I know that not
everyone here inhabited the alley back then, but there *are* a number
of us left. We *owe* her, Fisher." Rooftop finished with a very
serious voice, locking his gaze onto his.
     "So what?" Fisher growled defiantly, advancing a step toward him
in challenge. "Like you said, I hadn't started coming around the
alley back then, so this has nothing to do with me! This mouse is
mine by right of capture!" he replied with a commanding voice, his
muscles rippling beneath his fur, poised for a fight as he kept his
gaze locked with Rooftop's. In a blur of motion, Rooftop smacked his
paws down onto the cat's wrists, pushing them and locking them down
onto to the alley floor. 
     "You're going to find a lot of cats wanting to *dispute* that
point, Fisher..." Rooftop growled warningly as he struggled to subdue
instead of injure his fellow alley mate. To emphasize his point,
barely had Fisher begun his struggle to free himself from Rooftop's
grasp, yowling, hissing and beginning to raise his hackles, when he
suddenly found himself surrounded by nine other cats, their stances
poised for a fight as their eyes shone at him warningly....Freezing
in his struggles and yet showing no fear to the fact that he was
surrounded, a defiant look upon his face all the while, Fisher opened
his right paw to allow Gadget to slide out of it to the alley floor.
     "Take her..." he grumbled, both to Rooftop and to the cats
around him as they now sat down in a more relaxed though wary pose,
sliding his wrists out from under Rooftop's now slackened grip. As
the other cats allowed Fisher to pass out of the circle they had
formed around him, some giving him looks of relieved approval at his
decision, while some still cast a wary eye at him, they all turned
back toward Rooftop. As they watched, he gently stroked Gadget's
headfur, before he began gently running his rough tongue upon her
face, enticing her to wake up. It took only a few moments before she
began to stir.
     "Ooohh..." she groaned, her eyes swimming drowsily in her head
as she opened them slightly. As they began to focus though, they
suddenly sprang fully open as she gasped to see a cat towering over
her, her body jumping slightly in reflex.
     "Shhh! It's okay!" Rooftop said in a friendly, assuring voice,
smiling down at her. "You're safe. You just took a bad crash."
     "Where am I?" she asked a bit fuzzily, as she began to sit up,
Rooftop positioning a paw under her for support. 
     "Cat alley." Rooftop replied.
     "Oh good." Gadget replied as she placed a hand to her head, "I
was wondering if I was close to it."
     "Wait a minute, You *wanted* to come to cat alley?" A white cat
within the circle asked in surprise as the other cats in the alley
had now joined in the huddle to see in person, this much talked about
rodent. Casting a fairly surprised look of his own that mirrored the
speaker as he looked at him and the rest of the cats, Rooftop turned
a now curious look down at Gadget. "What did you need here?" he
     "I need your help," Gadget answered, looking up at Rooftop and
the other felines towering over her. "For a cat....By any chance, did
you, or anyone here, know a black and white cat with green eyes?" she
asked, gesturing with her hands to upon her own body to roughly show
the pattern of the fur colors as she stated her words. "He had a few
human friends who called him Quincy, and Lucky, and-"
     "Yeah!" Fisher's voice called out, his body not visible from the
mass of felines around her as looks and murmurs of recognition showed
upon the faces of some of the other felines as well. "Move over will
ya? One side..." Fisher muttered roughly as he worked and nudged his
way into view. "Yeah, I know him, we hang out a lot here in the alley
when we're both here on the same night. What's wrong? Why'd he send
you?" he asked, voicing the same question the other felines asked,
nodding silently.
     Gazing up at Fisher and the others for a moment, a sad,
sympathetic look came over Gadget's face. "He didn't." she replied.
"He's dead."
     "WHAT?!!" Fisher yowled in shock as the other felines within his
group of association cried out as well, a general chatter of discomfort
sweeping through the entire assembled mass. 
     "He died saving a deaf kitten." Gadget called out in a normal
tone, not feeling up to shouting at the moment. Catching only part of
her words over the din, Rooftop shushed the other cats, silencing
them as well with a curt sweep of his paw. 
     "What was that?" he asked as the murmuring ceased to a minimum.
     "I said that he died saving a deaf kitten." Gadget replied,
looking directly at Rooftop now.
     "*How*?" Fisher asked, a pained look readable on his face, in
spite of his controlled expression, as awed looks of respect now hung
upon the faces of the other cats. 
     "I don't know if you're going to believe me," Gadget stated
simply, too tired and dazed to try and concoct some sort of half
truth that would cover all the bases of the story while leaving out
the supernatural aspect of it, "but here's how it happened..." A
number of minutes later, the story had been told with all of the
felines sitting about her, some sitting atop the crates and trash
cans in the alley to see her as she told her tale, all of them
captivated by the events she related. "He didn't ask me," she stated,
"but no creature deserves to be thrown away, buried beneath a pile of
trash." she finished with a heartfelt voice. "Especially one that did
what he did.... I came here to see if you would help me give him a
true resting place."
     With saddened looks prevalent throughout all of the assembled
felines, they all sat before her though, a look of assent and
readiness in all of their eyes. 
     "How many do you need?" Fisher asked after a moment, looking
upon this mouse that he had heard only in tales, with a newfound
degree of respect mixed in with his heavy heart. "I think we'd all
like to go, but a parade of twenty eight plus cats is going to look
funny. Humans might try to investigate and intervene for some
     Nodding at his logic, a thoughtful look appeared on Gadget's
face as she did some quick calculations. "Three should do it. Four to
be on the safe side. I have to warn you though...whoever goes, no
matter how well you knew him, you'd better have a strong stomach."
     "I'm going." Fisher stated in a voice that left no room for
argument. "Who else?"

     In the end, both Fisher and Rooftop ended up going, with two
other cats by the names of "Liddy" and "Clawmark". Although Rooftop
did not know the cat who's true name was "Walker" within the alley,
all that well other than by sight, feeling indebted to Gadget for her
rescue of him at Nimnul's lab, as well as wanting to do his part to
honor a hero among his kind, he had insisted on going. Arriving at
the construction site, the four cats, with Gadget riding astride
Rooftop, slowly approached the garbage bin she pointed out to them. 
     "Do you see him anywhere?" Fisher asked, turning toward her. 
     "No," Gadget replied, looking around at the construction site
before shaking her head with disappointment. "He's not here anymore."
     "Oh well,...I guess he's already gone on." Fisher replied with
disappointment as well. "I thought that since you were the only one
who could see him, we'd get a chance to say goodbye." Sighing
slightly, Fisher turned then to regard the open garbage bin before
them. "Well, let's do what we came here to do then."
     Using teamwork and a little direction from Gadget, the four cats
succeeded in removing walker's remains from the bin,  lowering it
toward the ground without trouble. To each cat's credit, none of them
flinched or shirked from their tasks, for the process to say the
least was not at all pleasant, the somewhat pulped body feeling
almost revolting to the touch. Joining the others on the ground,
Fisher took his place alongside Liddy and Clawmark in positioning a
part of Walker's body across his shoulders. "Come on," he stated,
gesturing with a sideways nod of his head. "I know just the place."
     It took a fair amount of time to reach the place that Fisher
directed them too, but upon sight, they all agreed that it was a
perfect place, none of them saying anything as to the time it took,
or the amount of effort it took to reach it. It was a small yard
within the suburbs, well landscaped with a large tree within it as
     "Walker told me about this tree," he said as he stopped before
it, looking up at its leaves before turning back to them. "he used to
climb it when he was a kitten." Pausing then to look at his friend
that they had laid upon the ground, he turned to look at Rooftop.
"Rooftop," he stated, gesturing over his shoulder towards the house a
number of feet off. "Would you mind keeping watch?" Nodding his
assent, Rooftop stealthily crept forward to peer within the windows
of the house, watching for any signs of approaching humans as the
others dug....
     In a short time, the task was done. A spaciously deep hole was
excavated, words of farewell and respect were said by all, with
Clawmark taking the watch over from Rooftop for a moment, and the
plot was filled in and smoothed over. Stones were scattered upon it
as well to give the impression to any humans that nothing had
occurred here. As a final parting though before turning away from the
grave upon their last look at it, the four cats each placed a paw
upon the turned earth, casting their impression upon it as a link of
what they had done this day. A similar link lay upon Walker's body
under the earth as well, with the single whisker that was now missing
from each cat, with Gadget having placed a lock of her headfur in its
stead. At the cats' request, she was the last one to place her paw
print upon the earth, having contributed the most to what had
happened here today....
     "Gadget, thank you." Rooftop began as the four cats now sat on
the sidewalk outside of the yard, all of them looking at her. "You
and your friends saved me and a number of *my* friends once from the
man named Nimnul, and today, you showed respect to the memory of a
fellow feline when you had already done all that he had asked of you.
If you or any of your friends need any help for anything, don't be
afraid to come to cat alley. The Rescue Rangers will always be
welcome there." 
     "Not to mention in our homes which we share with our human
pets." Clawmark added with a deep, rumbling voice. "If you need food
or shelter, or anything else, we'll be happy to provide it."
     "Just have to make sure that our pets don't see us aiding you."
Liddy grinned. 
     "Thank you," Gadget returned with a respectful bow, her smile
shining up at them. "My friends will be just as happy to hear this,
as I am." *Particularly Monty*, she thought silently to herself with
a grin, as he wouldn't have to be so apprehensive about going into
Cat Alley again for any information if it was needed. "Likewise, if
you or any of your friends or human pets need any help, please feel
free to call on us. We're located in the large Oak tree in Golden
Gate Park, right across from the Police station."
     "Thank you, Gadget," Liddy replied, as the others likewise
thanked her in turn. "We will. Can we give you a ride back home?" the
female cat asked as she rose to her feet. Walking or riding was the
only option at the moment, as Gadget knew her hang glider had been
wrecked in her crash landing in Cat Alley.
     "Golly, thanks, but...." Gadget replied with a shrug, her face
thoughtful. "I'd like to walk back. It'll give me a little time to
     "I know what you mean." Rooftop replied, smiling at her as he
too rose to his feet. "Take care then, Gadget. We'll see you around."
As both Liddy and Clawmark wished her well also, Clawmark rising to
his feet as well to start off, each of the cats rubbed the side of
their facefur to Gadget's cheek in a goodbye gesture of affection.
With this done though, they looked over to see Fisher still sitting
where he had been, not making any gesture to get underway.
     "Coming, Fisher?" Liddy asked, turning back toward him as the
others did as well. 
     "In a sec, guys." Fisher replied with a nod. "You go on ahead,
I'll catch up." Glancing at each other curiously, Rooftop, Clawmark
and Liddy all nodded to him, giving a last look at Gadget before
starting on their way.
     "You wanted to talk with me, privately, Fisher?" Gadget asked,
turning towards him as the others left. 
     "Yeah," Fisher nodded, a deeply thoughtful look upon his face.
"Look, Gadget, I'm not all that good with words, and everything that
Rooftop said goes double for me. If you need any help or anything, to
make sure to call on me, but,...well...Walker, he never talked all
that much about his human pets or his life outside the alley to me or
any other cat, but he was a good friend of mine, I guess you knew
that. What you did, showing us what happened to him so we could take
care of him...well, meant *a lot* to me. Anyway, I was wondering
if I could do something *for you*, something to show how much I
appreciated it. You name it. Anything you want, if I can pull it off,
its yours." he stated, crouching down respectfully so that his eyes
were now on the same level as hers. Smiling sweetly at Fisher, Gadget
blushed slightly at his humble words, that a cat who she was told by
Rooftop had nearly ate her before, would make such an open ended
offer to pay her back for her kindness. 
     "Golly," Gadget replied, shaking her head softly. "I really *do*
appreciate it, Fisher, but..." suddenly, Gadget cut herself off in
mid sentence as she blinked, an idea occurring to her that she was
surprised she hadn't thought of moments before. "Actually..." she
     "What? Just *name* it!" Fisher asked, waving his head
enthusiastically to encompass all possible ideas. 
     "Do you have any strays in your group, *without* human pets?"
she asked, her face brightening at the idea.
     "Yeah, we've got some alley members who don't have any
homes....why?" Fisher asked.      "Would they like one?" she asked,
her entire expression now positively bubbling with excited joy.
     Having caught up once more with Clawmark, Liddy and Rooftop in a
rush, Gadget and Fisher outlined her plan to them. Sharing her
enthusiasm for the idea, the three cats assured her that the word
would be passed around about the three vacant homes. Susan would
welcome in probably more than a few cats and as Benjamin Morganson
had two in his home as well, Gadget was sure that he wouldn't be
averse to Adam taking in a feline companion in his borrowed
apartment. All they really had to do was appear on their respective
doorsteps, she assured them. With Jeremy's family, as the building
*was* off limits to pets, the prospective pet for that home would
have to anticipate a possible disappointment. But more than likely
though, she was certain that once Jeremy's parents saw how attached
he became to a cat who didn't belong to anyone else and who
*wouldn't* be going away, that they would probably make a concerted
effort to move to a building that *did* accept pets, hiding the cat
in the apartment in the meantime. She made a note that she would also
make sure to teach that cat the "exercise" for Jeremy that Walker had
taught her. For all three homes though, cats would have to be found
who's personalities would mesh most compatibly with those of the
three humans. This was something which, as Gadget had the most
experience with Walker's friends, she agreed that she would undertake
personally.  It would take a little time to get the word out to all
the felines that might be interested though. As the makeup of the
crowd in Cat Alley always changed at least somewhat from day to day
and from night to night, never remaining the same twice, it would
take a little time to get the word out to all. A date was made in
which she would  visit Cat Alley again in two days, paying a longer
visit herself to all of Walker's friends in the meantime. Even when
all of the spots had been filled though, she had made an open promise
as well to find a home for any cat that needed one, when she came
across such a suitable place in her travels and upon cases. In all,
the prospect served to give her an even greater satisfaction than the
alliance she had made with the residents of Cat Alley that day.

     Sometime later, Gadget glanced up from her footsteps to find
herself once more in Golden Gate Park, a slight look of surprise upon
her face that she had arrived already. Even though it had taken her a
few hours to cover the many miles it had been, back from Walker's
burial site in the suburbs, she had not really noticed. Having
occupied herself in her thoughts, she had completely lost track of
both the distance and the time, her mind having reflected back upon
all that had happened today, as well as many other things. She saw
that she was but a short distance from her Oak tree home as she
glanced up, the Police headquarters within sight only a block distant
on her left. Looking down once again as she walked on, her mind began
to lose itself in her thoughts once more when a sudden undefinable
sensation touched her mind, calling to her. She recognized it
instantly. Snapping her head up, she started slightly as she
discovered Walker's spirit once more sitting there before her upon
the grass. Looking at the specter, a wide smile broke out upon her
face, as she could now observe an actual smile of his own upon the
ghost cat's face, Walker's eyes shining brightly at her. 
     "I thought you had left!" she grinned. 
     Shaking his head lightly, Walker still spoke not a word in
answer, his pupils the same slitted shape they had been. Looking over
to a small patch of dirt which surrounded a tree near him though, a
wind caught up a small cloud of it. Blowing over to land upon the
sidewalk before Gadget,  it quickly swirled around, shaping itself
into discernable words as both she and the specter watched it. 
     "*Thank you*." the message said, before reforming itself into
another set which said "For *everything*."
     "So you *can* talk!" she exclaimed, amazed at this fact as she
looked up at the spirit. "I'm *glad* you came back, you know, I was
*wondering* where you went! I was sorry that I didn't get a chance to
say goodbye, but why didn't you appear before now?" she asked,
pausing for a moment. Your friends wanted to say goodbye as well."
     "There was no need." the dirt message on the sidewalk shifted to
say, forming a few words at a time. "I was there where you and they
buried my body. I heard their farewells. With you though, with all
you did....I wanted to say "thanks". "
     "Golly," Gadget returned, a slight blush coloring her cheeks as
she smiled warmly at Walker. "It was my pleasure, I told you that I'd
be happy to help when I first found out that was what you needed.
Something's confusing though..." she continued. 
     "What?" the words on the sidewalk asked.
     "I think I understand that since I was the one who had first
contact with the kitten, that was why you came to me. After all, she
was much too young and inexperienced to understand or act on what you
needed. I think I also understand that I'm sort of like a link to you
for this plane..."
     "Yes..." the words formed as Walker nodded.
     "Yet in the beginning though, why did it take so long for you to
contact me? I mean, it was quite a few hours after we finally caught
the kitten and returned her home that you began to show up."
     Nodding his understanding of her curiosity on this point, Walker
looked at the ground once more as the dirt began to stir again.
     "In that time I was getting to know you. I needed to find out if
you would help me willingly or if other means would be needed to gain
your assistance. I did not know that your team was the one from
stories in Cat Alley."
     "Possession?" Gadget asked, again looking up at him.
     Walker nodded.
     Nodding her understanding, Gadget cast her gaze at the ground
for a moment before turning to look up at him once more. "There's
just one more thing I'd really like to know. Why haven't you spoken
to me before now?" she asked. 
     Continuing to smile broadly at her, a small twinkle appeared in
Walker's eyes. However, as she looked to the ground, expecting his
answer to appear within the dirt cloud on the sidewalk, Walker
suddenly rose to his feet and stepping forward, sat directly before
her. Looking up towards him in confusion and curiosity, Gadget
watched as Walker curled his right paw behind her back. Crouching
forward then, he licked her gently across her cheek and facial fur,
his tongue brushing fully against the soft curve of her ear as well.
Closing her eyes out of reflex as she saw Walker's tongue reach out
toward her, the sensation she felt was that of a light and gentle
breeze, ruffling her fur as it swept across her face. Opening her
eyes as the sensation stopped, she looked to find the spirit now
     "Walker?" she asked, looking all about her. Seeing no sign of
him and receiving no answer, Gadget shrugged thoughtfully to herself,
giving a wistful grin. "Take care, Walker." she called out softly
before she began to make her way forward toward headquarters once
more. "Say hello to my dad for me." Taking but a step as she uttered
these words, the sound of a wind rushing through the trees behind and
above her suddenly drew her attention. Turning, she looked to find a
set of words, formed from dirt carried by the wind, laying upon the
path at her feet.
     "I will." the message said. 

     Later that night, Gadget stood at the window to her bedroom,
looking up at the stars that shone down from a nearly perfectly clear
sky, the fog having totally burned off hours before. Turning slightly
at the sound of a knock upon the open door, she looked to find Chip
standing there.
     "Hi," she called, smiling warmly at him as she gestured him
over. "Come on in."
     Entering the room, Chip made his way over to where Gadget now
stood at the window sill, joining her there. As one, and with no cue
from the other, Gadget's right hand and Chip's left reached out to
entwine themselves together as Gadget wrapped her tail about his
waist as well, in a familiar gesture of deep affection. 
     "Going to be able to sleep tonight?" was all that Chip said
offhandedly after a few moments of silence. 
     At this, Gadget let out a laugh, casting a wry grin over toward
him before turning back toward the window. 
     "I don't know, actually." she replied, "He's at peace now, but
what with everything that we did and thinking that my dad might be
somewhere, watching me right now..." she shrugged, "it
might keep me up for awhile." she admitted. Falling silent then, they
continued to watch the night sky for a few minutes before Chip spoke
     "Do  me a favor?" he asked. 
     "What?" Gadget replied, turning to face him.
     "If you do have trouble getting to sleep tonight, or whenever,
get me up and let me know, okay? It's always more fun with company."
he said, smiling at her affectionately.
     Gazing at him endearingly for a moment, Gadget squeezed his hand
gently in reply. "I will. Thanks, Chip." she said softly. 
     Giving each other a kiss goodnight then, Chip left the room.
Continuing to stare up at the sky for another few minutes, watching
the clouds that had begun to lazily drift by, with a deep, satisfied
sigh, Gadget turned from the window then, toward the warmth of her
awaiting bed. As she lay her head upon the pillow though, she was not
aware of the small sliver of a cloud which now floated in front of
the visibly full moon that night. Shaped like a slitted pupil, the
cloud settled itself in front of the moon's light, centering itself
there for many moments as the other clouds moved around it. Sending a
small shaft of moonlight then onto the window of a certain large Oak
tree in Golden Gate Park, the sight seemed to reflect with a life of
its own before the cloud went along to float with the others once
again, continuing on, to begin upon its next journey.
+ As seen in the CDRR Episode-"Ghost of a chance".
** A short summary of the events of the CDRR episode: "Catteries Not Included."

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