Written By: Kristof E-Mail: Kristof.email@example.com Disclaimer: All characters expect "Firehound" are copyright 1990/1991 Walt Disney Company and are being used without premission. The writer of this fanfic has made sure that no money was made in the creation of this fanfic and that all material is used with the upmost affection and respect to the Walt Disney Company and the Tale Spin Team. "Firehound" is the property of the writer of this fanfic and may not be used without the writers prior consent. You may give copies of this fanfic as long as they are not altered in any way and proper credit is given to the writer.
It had been an easy day for the crew of Higher for Hireís only cargo-plane. No sudden weather changes, no engine problems and a series of milk-runs. So it is without much surprise that we find the sturdy,yet bit rusty Seaduck anchored at a dock near a small island known to the pilot community as "Louieís". "Iím telliní ya Louie,itís the first time ever we wonít be late and have full cargohold with us;"a grey bear with a pilotís hat on said while scrunching down a Krakatoa special. The monkey behind the bar smiled and said;"So youíll finally pay of that tab,huh cuz?" remembering the incredible amount Baloo still owed him. "So whatíll I do with it? Pay off my depts or buy a brand-new condo in Walla-Walla?" Balooís navigator who had been quiet for some time started laughing;"You know Poppa-bear is trying to buy the Duck back Louie! And if he had had enough to buy it back,buy a condo in Walla-Walla and pay off his tab,his name wouldíve been Shere Kahn. Cargo pilots donít earn as much as bartenders you know!" "Well said Little Britches,some people think everybody is as rich as them,isnít that right Louie?" Louie, slightly offended, decided to shoot some their way too;"What time you had to be back to Becky?" "5 oíclock,why?" Baloo asked a little puzzled "And how long does it take for the Duck to fly back to Cape Suzette at full throttle with some tailwind?" Louie asked trying to pretend he knew something about planes. "About 90 minutes;"Kit said ,starting to understand "Haha,cuz,you should have left half an hour ago!Guess I wonít be throwing you a party for beiní on time for the first time." Baloo seemed less then impressed;"Whatís half an hour?Last time we were ten hours late." "Uhmm,actually";Kit started;"Ms. Cunningham has threatened to cut your pay check in half if you were late once more." "HALF?!"Baloo started choking a bit,wondering what those stars were doing there; "We better get going then. And Louie,if weíre late, ya donít have to expect me back here with a wad of money to pay that tab off;"He said while walking towards the door. "Here,at least thisíll cover for our gas;" Kit said throwing several wrinkled 5-dollar bills on the counter;"Just donít tell Baloo I paid it,it would hurt his pride." "Sure thing short stuff, the secrets of payiní customers are safe with me;"Louie managed to shout back at Kit before he disappeared in the already started Seaduck. "Come on,baby,show Baloo you can still race the best." The SeaDuck was flying at maximum speed,and then some.In the right seat Kit was desperately trying to figure out a faster way to Cape Suzette.He sighed and folded up his map. "Baloo,there is no way we can get back on time using the regular air vectors." A grumble was the only response he got. "If I ever get my hands on Louie;"Baloo started. "Aw,come on Papa bear,you know itís not his fault;"Kit jumped to the defense;"We should have kept track of time instead of starting a party." Baloo slumped back in his chair and let out a tired sigh. "There goes $250 .I only needed $500 more to pay for the Duck. Are you sure there is no faster way?" "Sorry Baloo,not over the regular air vectors." Balooís eyes started to twinkle. "So there IS a faster way." He said somewhat slyly. Kit muttered something under his breath and turned his head, appearently looking outside the starbord window. "Come on Little Britches! Itís me, your pal Baloo. Now gimme the heading so I can buy the Duck back." "Not a chance Baloo;"Kit suddenly snapped;"That route is way too dangerous. I donít want you to end up like..."Kit suddenly fell silent. "Like who Kit?" Baloo asked. "Thatís none of your business.Iím not going to talk about it.Letís just say I have my reasons not to give you that heading." Baloo was seriously starting to worry about what his navigator had been through,but decided not to press the matter-yet.Kit seemed to calm down a bit -I wonder what happened to Firehound. Can he ever forgive me? What if I had never given him that heading,would he still be alive? And would he have tried to start all over,like he promised? Maybe he wouldíve started a family,or a business,or....- "Uhoh;"Baloo started and interrupted Kitís daydream;"Weíll never make it to Cape Suzette with this gas." "Come on Baloo,donít be ridiculous. I filled her up myself at Louieís";Kit said, biting his tongue as he remembered he wasnít supposed to say that. "You filled her up without telling me? What else did you forget to tell me?" "Baloo,Iím your co-pilot. I need to keep the Duck in shape and tanked full,thatís part of the job." "Yeah,but a pilot needs to trust his co-pilot completely;How can I do that if you donít tell me everything?" "Two-seven-oh,thatís the heading you wanted to hear;"Kit yelled;"Now stuff it in ya windsock!" "270? But thatíll take us over..." "The Goman height,I know,but we can fly over it at minimum altitude. Thatíll save us over 50 minutes." "Well, weíll not only arrive in time,but with 10 minutes to spare.Great going Kit." "Donít mention it;"Kit said weakly and wandered off in thoughts again -I shouldíve told him. Letís just hope we donít end up like Firehound.....-
It had been a tough decision,but it was his decision.A decision he and Baloo were now regretting as the Seaduck was parked inside the Iron Vulture and none other then the Scourge of the Seven Skies was standing next to the port window.....
"Well,looks like these silly bear-type people have fallen for yet another magniefiecent of the tricks of the magnificent Don Karnage;"Karnage gloated;"How very generous of you to fly by here." "Couldnít help it Karnie;"Baloo said somewhat tired;"Letís just say the Duck and the Vulture attract each other." Kit sat very quietly in his chair,a blink of terror in his eyes.-No,not again.I wonít let it happen.- "You know that Thembrians are attracted to junk too;"Baloo continued,getting ready for a major pun. "Baloo,please donít;"Kit whispered just loud enough for the enraged pilot too hear. Baloo knew he could stomp on Karnage any day but quickly shut up when he saw the firing squad aiming in the direction of the cockpit. "So old Baloo,you not as tough as you seem no? You know that if you could actually fly;"Kitís thoughts trailed off again as the Pirate leader started his tirade -I let it happen again.Why did I drag my best friend into this?What kind of a navigator am I anyway? Karnageís tirade was still in progress when Kit suddenly interrupted..... "Cut it out Karnie.Just plunder our cargo hold and get this over with!" Karnage was slightly baffeled that a small powerless victim had the guts to stand up to him,but recovered just as quickly. "I will, you ball of bleached fur!" "No need to get personal Karnie,youíre no Venus either!"Kit snorted back "Watch your tongue Cloudkeecker,or I will cut eet out of your corpse myself!" Several metallic clicks from the firing squadís carbines immediatly remembered Kit of his position as a captive,and made him swallow his remaining insults...... "Wow,Karnage,no need to take it out on a child;"Baloo intervened diplomatically;" Letís just go take a look at your prize." "Oh yes;"Karnage rid his mind of all vengeance thoughts and focused on the recently captured plane;"Open up your cave of Alibababaab-something." Karnage took a step back,turned sharply on his heel and strolled to the back of the plane. Baloo reluctantly opened the cargo door and Karnage stared at hundreds of ........ "Frying pans??"Karnage yelled, as enraged as when someone had switched his deodorant with pepperspray;"None of thee beautiful,shiny diamonds or thee yellow gold,but rusty,dented,stupid FRYING PANS? Maddog,Dumptruck,get your empty skulls over here so I may put another dent in each of these frying pans!"Maddog and Dumptruck knew when Karnage wasnít kidding and started to make a run for their lives. "Get them!" Karnage yelled,and the two pirates were suddenly pursued by an entire horde of loyal pirates;"AAARGHGH,I will kill them!"Someone that knew Karnage well knew now that one word was enough to set him off,and Baloo just made a capital mistake. "Aww,donít take it that hard Karnie. You can still sell Ďem to the foundation of feministic housewives." A bloodlust overtook the Plundering Miracle;"You will not get away from here,you furballs.Throw them in the brig!" Several pirates broke off their chase and yanked the two laughing bears away. "Admit it Karnage,you just made the catch of a lifetime";Kit managed to shout back at Karnage between two laughs, before getting pulled out of the main hanger. "OWW,I will get back at you meester Cloudkeecker;"he muttered and started in a mad dash after the two running pirates...... The sun started disappearing behind the horizon and gave the water around the Fortress-city of Cape Suzette a beautiful shade of orange. Some people stopped and stared at the cliffs,just to see the spectacle of the setting sun. Amongst them was the owner of Higher for Hire. But Rebecca was looking at the only entrance into Cape Suzette for a completely different reason. The Duck was now exactly 7 hours late and she was starting to get worried. At first she was determined to execute her treath but as the hours went by eery thoughts creeped in her mind-what if they crashed? I just hope they're not partying at Louie's while I'm worrying for nothing. No,not even Baloo is that irresponsible. Maybe the pirates got them?- She had no idea how right she was. The Iron Vulture was hovering in mid-air between the silver-orange colored clouds. In the brig we find the crew Rebecca is looking for. Although the comedy of Karnage's "catch of the year" had hung around for a few hours(as did the chase for Maddog and Dumptruck), time had eventually crept up with them and instead of laughing, nothing but an occasional snore was heard. But only Baloo was sleeping. Kit,who still felt responsible for their capture, was once again lost in thoughts. He was fighting an internal struggle- how could you have let this happen again? You know what happened last time you flew over the Goman height. Was it really worth the shortcut? What kind of a navigator are you? You just get your friends in trouble- "What's the problem Kit?"Baloo's voice startled Kit and abrubtly got him back into reality;"It's not like it's the first time the pirates caught us." "No Baloo,but this isn't the first time I've been;"Kit hesitated;"Sorry,I don't want to talk about it." Baloo was really worried but he knew that when Kit got like this it wouldn't do any good to discuss the subject.All he did was smile somewhat tired and said.... "Just get some sleep.You can tell me when you feel ready";He followed his own advice and closed his eyes. "Don't you wonder why the pirates were on top of us that quickly?"Kit asked. "Ah,you don't ask a scorpion where it gets its venom either";Baloo added somewhat cheerfully;"Don't take it that hard Little Britches, you couldn't know there were Pirates around." "That's where you're wrong Baloo. I knew it all the time;"Kit said with a trembling voice,a tear forming in his eye. "I can't keep this a secret much longer Baloo....." "What are you talking about?" Baloo asked as he got closer to Kit. "This is the second time I got captured over the Goman height Baloo, and last time it cost the life of one of my friends.His name was Firehound,and..."That was as far as Kit got before breaking out in tears.Baloo took him in his arms and waited for him to get over his emotions. "Why did he have to die Baloo? WHY?"Kit asked while crying. "I don't know Kit,but it would help if you explained";Baloo said softly. "Let's start from the beginning.Do you think you're ready to tell me?" Kit got himself together and resumed his well-known tough form, some coldness in his voice as he spoke. "I met Firehound 6 months after I joined the Pirates. At that time I was already considering escaping,but I had no idea when to try...." Kit's thoughts wandered of to the past and he relived the events he had tried to erase from his mind so many times and had led to the death of his friend..... It was high noon,most pirates were in the mess trying to figure out what the cook had put on their plates this time. Most pirates,with the exception of a small bearcub,seemingly too young for this line of work, who was lost in thoughts. "What's on your mind small fries?" The loud bass voice made the Kit jump. "That's none of your business"Kit snapped at the stranger. "Shouldn't you be in the messhall by now?"The stranger persisted. "Who are you? My personal guard?"Kit yelled back. "As a matter of fact,I am." Kit looked up at the stranger he had been yelling at and looked straight into the eyes of a sly looking streetdog. Just the mere sight of him made Kit wonder why he hadn't killed him on the spot. "So why aren't you in the messhall,where you were supposed to be?"the stranger asked,leaving no question he wanted a clear answer. "I'm not hungry"Kit said,regaining his though exterior;"so what are you doing here ?" "I told you I'm your guard,the name is Firehound;"he said. Kit chuckled and laughed a bit. "No,what are you REALLY doing here?" "Let's say that Karnage is worrying about you. He's afraid you might try to do something stupid...."Firehound explained. Kit's eyes narrowed and his voice changed to a way he reserved for those he didn't trust-AT ALL-. "Like what?" Firehounds eyes narrowed too and his voice started to get lower. "Like escaping...." "You really think you could catch me if I tried something..."Kit paused"like this? " In one motion,Kit hopped down from the crate he was sitting on,grabbed Firehounds sword and started in a mad dash towards the nearest catwalk. Firehound cracked a little smile- I like this kid-,gave him a head start and starting running behind him without trying too hard. Kit was running as fast as he could,determined to escape. He had reached the rungs of the ladder to the catwalk when Firehound caught up with, picked him up and smacked him on the ground,hard enough to make Kit see stars. Firehound took back his sword and hold it manacingly above his head. What he said next was more of a snarl. "And I have orders to kill you when you tried something like this;" He raised his sword,ready to strike. "No, please don't...." Kit begged with terror in his eyes. Firehound put his hand on Kit's mouth and struck...slicing the coconut above Kit's head clean in half. "Here kid,have a coconut,you have to eat something;" he said pleasantly, releasing Kit's mouth. "What?!" Kit asked frightened. "I fooled you there didn't I kid? Do you honestly believe I would kill a child in cold blood?"Firehound added somewhat insulted;"Why were you running for that catwalk anyway? And why did you took my sword? You can't use it properly,the weight was holding you up." "I was running for the bombbay release switch;"Kit explained;"As for the sword,I tried to prove that I could steal from you and get away with it." "You know kid,I'm starting to like you"Firehound said coldly"But I don't think you make a realistic chance of escaping." "Why not?"Kit asked insulted. "You have exactly 6 seconds to jump out of the hatch before it closes. So you have six seconds to press that button,run back to the ladder,grab a parachute and jump.." Firehound stated. "So?!" "You just ran that distance,and it took you 10 seconds. Face it kid,with this condition you can't even outrun Dumptruck." A grin crossed Firehounds face,maybe even a laugh. "I'm still young,I can train" Kit muttered under his breath. "You're absolutely right,I need a good work-out myself." "Why's that?" Kit asked,staring Firehound in the eyes. "I got troubles catching you....so I wont be able to catch you if you tried this again after your training...." "Or escape yourself";Kit added. He kept staring Firehound in the eyes and saw through the Pirate's tough exterior. Firehound turned his head and spoke more softly then usual. "You're right on top of things,aren't you small fries?" "Why? Why would you try to escape? I thought all Pirates were conciousless beasts that loved the plundering and......" "And killing? And betraying?"Firehound yelled back at Kit;"Listen up kid,not all pirates are like that,and I,for one, am sick of it! I've seen to many deaths and I've betrayed too many people" Firehound ended his tirade. "You're not one of the fighter pilots,or I would've noticed you sooner;"Kit noticed. "Correct. I am...*was* an infiltration pilot. I assumed another identity every time I went on a mission.I'd work for a few days with a certain company and inform my "fellow pirates" when an important shipment was scheduled. I turned my back on all that trusted me,occasionally killing someone I had gotten to know. I can't take this any longer kid." "So you convinced Karnage I needed a guard so you could escape with me,right?" "Not quite.I was determined to escape,but I had no idea how,you just came in handy ....."Firehound said hesitating. Both remorseful Pirates looked each other in the eyes and knew they could trust each other. "Wait,let me help you get up;"Firehound offered his hand to Kit who was still lying on the ground. He pulled Kit to his feet and saw Kit's face strain. "What's wrong kid?" Firehound asked in a concerned tone. Kit sat down again and grabbed his ankle. "I must have sprained something,I guess" Firehound laughed and picked Kit up;"You and I have a lot of working out to do......." The spectacle of sundown is always a short but beautiful one. And although most spectators had already left,one was still staring at the last beams of light. Rebecca Cunningham was now worried to death. She turned around ,realising that the Seaduck was not coming in tonight and that it was no use staring at the horizon when she had several phonecalls to make...... She walked back to the office and ran into Molly. "Mommy,where are Baloo and Kit?" Molly had a sharp mind,and knew that something was wrong. "Oh,Iím sure theyíre all right honey. Donít worry;" but the one worried more was Rebecca herself..... And she had good reasons, although neither she nor the Seaduckís crew knew that the situation was about to get very ugly...... It was now pitch-black in the skies over the Goman Height and nothing indicated the presence of the Pirate flagship. In the brig,Kit was still reminescing about his old friend Firehound,still vividly remembering every detail. Several months had passed since Kit and Firehound first met. Firehound had been training Kit every day,and both of them were now ready to take on everything the Pirates could possibly muster. Kit had stolen several blueprints of the Iron Vulture and both Pirates were planning their escape. "So you are sure you can shut that blastdoor before any reinforcements arrive?" Firehound asked while pointing to a corridor on the map. "Positive;"Kit replied;"I checked the area today and at noon there are only two guards. If we take too long to eliminate the preceding guards however,we are in deep trouble." "Guess weíll have to take that chance;"Firehound sighed. "Where do we go after we seal the portside off?"Kit asked. "The Main Hanger;" Firehound replied "You canít"; Kit pointed to a dotted line on the blueprint,connected to another;" shutting door B7 automatically shuts door F7,sealing the only entrance from this side of the Vulture to the Hanger." "Didnít think of that." "Itís supposed to keep fires from spreading or intruders from dismanteling the planes;" Kit remembered. "I didnít want to use this....but I donít have a choice;"Firehound reached into a secret pocket in his jacker,and pulled out another blueprint. "Whatís that?"Kit asked,puzzled. "An original blueprint of the Vulture,including all secret passageways...." "Why didnít you tell me you had that? I wouldnít have had to steal those other blueprints."Kit asked surprised. Firehound put his hands on Kitís shoulders and looked him in the eyes. "Listen,kid,itís not sure weíre going to make it out of here. And if they catch us,it was better you never knew about these plans,believe me." "Weíll make it! I promise you that youíll be able to start a new life in Cape Suzette." Firehound shook his head,a small smile forming on his mouth. "You know Kit,youíre somethng else,I give you that! But fine, if we make it,weíll never get past those cliff guns of Cape Suzette.Weíre going to San Flamingo kid!" Kit sighed;"Whatever you say." -Iíd rather go to Cape Suzette- "I see what youíre thinking kid..I know youíre supposed to navigate,but I want you to promise me you will guide me to San Flamingo!Promise me!" Kit solemnly put up his right hand and said;"I promise!" his other hand invisibly crossing his fingers behind his back. "Now,about those secret passageways; are you listening kid?" Several days passed and Kit and Firehound met secretly every day to discuss details. And one week after the first meeting, the moment of truth arived..... It was 11.45. Most pirates started to leave their chores and started towards the messhall. Some stayed behind to guard important passageways. 11.47, Kit and Firehound casually strolled out of the messhall,without even touching their food. "You ready kid?" "Nothiní to it but to do it." Kit and Firehound passed the first pair of guards. Suddenly Kit hits the guard on his side in the stomach. The guard doubled over and received another blow of Kitís fist on his jaw. The other guard turned towards the ruckus only to see his friend lying on the floor and getting knocked out by Firehound himself.Kit and Firehound ran towards the guards at door B2. The guards at that door heard the cries of their colleages and started to run in the direction of the noise. They ran around the corner and both briefly saw a fist coming in their direction. One second later they hit the floor. Kit immediatly started punching in numbers on the keypad in the wall. A solid metal door of ten inches thick came thundering down,shutting off this side of the Iron vulture. "And now to find that opening;"Firehhound said;"Aha,there it is!" He started to unscrew the screws that held the fake metal plate in place. An opening appeared at his eye level. "In you go;" He said while helping Kit up. "What plane are you going to steal? I canít really fly a CT-37;" Kit confessed. "Donít worry,I have my own plane,fuelled up and ready to leave;" Firehound said; "I think youíll like it;" he added mysteriously. A short trip through air vents and an unsoft landing later,they stood in the Main Hanger. "Come on,follow me;" Firehound gestured Kit. Firehound opened a hanger door and Kit beheld one of the most beautiful planes he had ever seen. "Wow,a Conwing classic!" Kit could not hold back a whistle. "And not just any Classic!" Firehound said proudly;"I refitted her with with the all-new Bee 500ís,added several concealed guns for infiltration flights,installed an overdrive module and thus turned her from a Conwing classic in The Kitty Shark;" He couldnít resist posing next to his plane,grinning. "An overdrive module? I thought those were impossible to make." "Itís hard,I guarantee you that,but itís far from impossible. I now have the ability to triple my RPMís outrunning even the newest of fighter planes;" Firehounds sense of proudness grew every second,but he quickly remembered why they were here. "But letís not waste time here,we have a long and dangerous flight ahead of us." "Youíre right!" Kit said ;"Start the engines,Iíll open the beak." Firehound climbed into the cockpit while Kit ran towards the button in front of the hanger. The second he pushed the button, every alarm on the Vulture went off. "We forgot about the alarm!" Kit shouted back at Firehound as he climbed into the cockpit ;"Weíll have every available pilot on to us soon." "Itíll take them a while to realise whatís going on and at that time I hope to be in San Flamingo already;" Firehound said as he took off. "Now gimme the fastest way to San Flamingo,and no cheating! I know the fastest way takes exactly 50 minutes." Kit grinned and calculated a way to Cape Suzette that would only take them 50 minutes. "270;" he said. "OK,but remember that a pilot always has to be able to trust his navigator unconditionally;" Firehound replied ;"So are you sure about that heading?" "Iím positive;" Kit said,not realising he was sending them to a certain doom.... Meanwhile,onboard the Vulture,Don Karnage was furious. He was pacing up and down his cabin with the microphone in his hand, trying to organise the divided pirates. "I trusted you Meester Cloudkeecker!" he muttered to himself ;"but not in a trusting way that I would forget to take thee precautiones." He picked up the microphone again,set another frequency in the transmitter and started to call one of his 'back-up plans' "Me,my glorious self am calling thee Piratesque style ground crew,repeat,Pirate Ground Crew." In a base,hidden between the vegetation of the Goman Height, the Pirate Ground Crew was enjoying a game of poker when the transmission came in. A fat but muscled cat started to mutter and replied... "Whadya want Karnage? I was winning;" The cat with the name of Mauler anxiously awaited the reply heíd get. He loved making Karnage mad. "Eet ees *Don Karnage*, roll the arr." "Yeah,sure,whatever you say *Kanage*." "OWWW if you werenít that many miles from here Iíd get closer!" "Why did ya call Karnie?" "Two of my pirates have escaped! Keep an eye out for them,shoot them down if necessary. I have thee ideee they will go to Cape Suzette." "Sure thing Karnie,you want them giftwrapped too?" Onboard the Kitty Shark,both pirates thought they were safe. "So,what are you going to do when we land?" Firehound asked Kit. "Donít know,try to find my parent I guess." "Sounds great"; Firehound said. "Truth is,I donít even know wether theyíre still alive!" Kit confessed sadly. "Hey ,donít be down on your moment of freedom! Iíll help you find them!"Firehound said in an attempt to cheer him up;"I wouldnít know what to do anyways." "I would sure be more then happy to hang out with you;" Kit said; "You really donít know what to do?" "Well actually;"Firehound started. He suddenly looked out the front windshield and saw a plateau rising up. "Whatthe?! Kid,where are we?" "The Goman Height!" Kit confessed;" I plotted a route towards Cape Suzette,over the Goman Height to save time!" "To make it look like we were flying to San Flamingo;" Firehound completed;" Very smart kid,but the Goman Height is the base of the Pirate Ground Crew,a band of pirates who were cast out for being too violent...." "Oh no!" The Ground Crew heard the roaring of the Sharkís engines fro miles away and had had time to prepare the guns. "Fire at will,but donít kill Ďem,I want to deal with those traitors myself.... before Karnage arrives;" Mauler yelled at his gunners. The gunblasts violently shook Kit back to reality. "Hold on tight kid,this is going to get rough." Several bullets impacted in the cockpit and destroyed half of the instruments. "Use the overdrive!"Kit paniced. "Canít risk it without the engine instruments!" Another explosion rocked the plane. "We lost engine 1;" Kit yelled. "Strap in tight and start praying,Iím going to try to set this thing down;" Firehound instructed Kit. "But thereís no patch of clear land;" Kit observed. "You noticed that too huh? Sorry about this kid;" Firehound said. "Sorry for what?" Kit asked. Firehound quickly swung his right and hit Kit on the jaw,knocking him out. "For that!"he replied as he put Kit back in his chair,strapped him in tight and started his descent. Kit woke up with a splitting headache and painful jaw. He opened his eyes and noticed he was back onboard the Iron Vulture, in his own bed. Suddenly the door swung open and Karnage walked in,grinning like an idiot. "Ah,my protégé, I see you are back around your waken self." "I can explain!" Kit started. "What is there to explain? You are now a full Pirate! You have proven that I can fully trust you,yes-no?" "What?!" "That brute must have heet you harder then I pondered"; Karnage said,examining Kitís jaw;"Do you not remember your kidnappieng?" "My what?!" "That guard I gave you,thee untrustworthy,thee infidel,thee Firehound, he knocked you out and kiednapped you to escape;" Karnage explained. He decided Kitís jaw wasnít broken and sat sown on a chair next to his bed. "Where is he?" Kit asked while getting out of bed. "We ,eehmm, found him next to the pieces of scrapmetal he called a landing." "WHERE IS HE?" "Hee is een thee brig, my vendicteeve one;" Karnage grinned. He stood up and took something out of his pocket. "Thees ees for you"; He put a red scarf around Kitís neck. "Whatís that?" Kit wondered. "Eet ees the sign of my trust in you,my protégé." Karnage put his hand on Kitís shoulder and opened the door.... Several corridors later they arrived at the brig. Karnage opened the door a bit and Kit caught a glance of Firehound. Instead of the proud streetdog that Kit once knew,he saw a beat-up,tired and remorseful pirate,reminescing his life,knowing it would soon be over. "What happened to him?" Kit inquired. "Hee crashed!" Karnage lied. "Donít try to ly to me Karnage. Iím ok and I crashed too;" Kit snapped to Karnage. "You were lucky my boy! The Ground Crew assured me they found him like thees." "Let me talk to him in private"; Kit instructed Karnage;"And no eavesdropping,no? " Karnage took a bow and opened the door "You have two minuets"; Karnage hissed in Kits ear as he passed. The door slammed shut. "I see Karnage fell for it. Sorry about that punch kid"; Firehound said as he saw the red scarf around Kitís neck. "What did they do to you?" "The Ground Crew found us and saw you unconcious....they figured I had kidnapped you and believe me kid,they donít like traitors. Especially not that Mauler." "Whatís the plan now?" Kit asked. "Thereís no plan. We tried to escape,we failed and Iím taking the fall for it, literally;" Firehound stated coldly. "You canít take all the blame!" "You still have an entire life before you kid. Iím sure the second time will be successful! Too bad I wonít be around to see it!" "Itís my fault. I shouldíve given you the route to San Flamingo like you asked." "You couldnít have known the Goman Height was one of their bases....and on second thought Cape Suzette seems like a great place to hide as a pirate." "This Ďll never happen again,I swear it" "Eet will indeed never happen again. Eet ees time to take thee fall for it Fryhound." "Itís Firehound Karnie! And I donít care whatís going to happen next!" Kit felt his stomach turn. "Iím not feeling too well Karnage,Iím going back to my cabin";Kit said to Karnage. "Aahh,my boy,seeing this sorry excuse for a pirate die will make you feel lots better,no?" All pirates were gathered in a half circle around the beak. A walking plank was attached to the outer tip,especially for this occasion. The Iron Vulture was hovering over the Goman Height at a serious distance to the ground. "Bring fronth the prisoner;" Karnage spoke,as solemnly as he could. Firehound was pushed forward by Maddog and willingly stepped onto the plank. "For the violation of the Pirate code of loyalty!" Kit couldnít hear any more and ran away. Only Karnage saw it. "Have you got any last words before you face your destiny?" "Iím going to get even for this Karnage.I SWEAR IT!" Kit started running faster and faster towards the entrance to the hidden passageways and heard Firehounds voice in the distance,followed by a loud cheer of the pirates and he knew they had pushed his only friend over the edge..... Today,the Iron Vulture again hovered over the Goman Height. Baloo was holding Kit in his arms, both of them crying... Even though Kit had pulled himself together when starting his story,the last memories of his lost friend had been too much. "Two days later I tried again....and I made it!" Kit said with tears in his eyes. "Man,now I know why you put on that tough act when we met at Louieís." It was like lightning had hit Kit....he suddenly stopped crying and his face became ice-cold and void of any emotion. "I still have to make Karnage pay;" he hissed ;"Time to bust out of here." "Aní how did you plan on doing that? Weíre in the brig ya know;" Baloo observed. Kit pulled a lead pipe off the wall. "When they come to bring something to eat, weíre out of here." Baloo looked in Kitís eyes and saw nothing but revenge. "Whoa,Little britches,not so fast;" He said as he pulled the pipe out of Kitís hands and threw it in the corner; "No need to kill anyone Kit." "Do you have a better idea?" "If ya really want to knock out those guards,be my guest,but use something not- lethal." Kit saw the error of his ways and pulled out his airboard. "Now thatís more like it." Suddenly Kit ran towards the door and motioned Baloo to be quiet. "There they come,time for our escape." Outside, Maddog and Dumptruck walked towards the door. Maddog pulled out the keys and gestured Dumptruck to get in. "Aní make it quick;"Maddog whined Dumptruck started to mutter something under his breath and went inside. Maddog waited outside and suddenly heard a loud crash. He started to run towards the door. "Dumptruck,I told ya not to break anything. I donít want to get hit on the head again!" Kit was already putting away his airboard when Maddog came running in and saw Dumptruck counting stars. "Hey, whatta?" He didnít get any further as Baloo gave him a swift right. "Now what Little britches?" "We take the same route as usual." It was near sunrise when the Seaduckís crew reached the main hanger,undisturbed by the sleeping guards. "Iím gonna go warm up the engines,you open the beak;" Baloo instructed Kit. "Canít. The alarm will go off." "Great. We are free, have a plane, but we have nowhere to go;" Baloo muttered. "Not quite;"Kit replied; "The bombbay release hasnít got an alarm." "I thought you only had six seconds before it closes." "You do,but I think I can make it poppa bear." "You sure of that?" "Canít promise anything,but itís better that one of us escapes instead of getting caught both;" Kit stated as he ran towards the catwalk. "Kit,come back,ya wonít make it;" Baloo yelled at Kit. "Start up the engines Poppa Bear, this is our only chance." Baloo started running towards the Duck -I hate it when heís right in these situations- Kit had already reached the top of the catwalk as he saw the Seaduckís engines start. "Here goes nothing;" Kit said to himself as he pressed the release button. There was no way back,the decision had been made and the bombbay was now opening. Kit started running towards the ladder. He was almost there when he tripped over the feet of Hal,who was sleeping at his post. "Kit,hurry up!" Baloo yelled as the Seaduck started to slide towards the opening. Hal was now wide awake and immediatly pressed the alarm button. From all sides of the hanger,pirates started pouring in. Kit started in a mad dash towards the ladder, knowing he had wasted too much time getting up. He slid down the ladder and saw the Seaduck sliding out of the hanger. Half a second later the bombbay closed. -Oh no,Iím too late- Kit thought as he desperately tried to find a way out. He ran towards the opening button of the beak. He had just pressed it when Karnage got to the scene. Frightened,Kit ran like lightning to the opening beak,too fast even for Karnage to follow. "My poor boy,you will not make the fool out of my again,yes-no;" Karnage said as he aimed his carbine to Kitís head. A dry bang followed and Kit felt his leg go limp. Karnage was a lousy marksman. Kit tumbled down and looked at his right leg. He stared straight in an open bulletwound. Luckily,the bullet had gone straight through,missing muscle tissue and bones. He got up and immediatly fell down again,realising he wouldnít run very far anymore -just a few more yards,just a few more- He got up, reminding himself to be careful not to lose balance and hopped on one leg towards the beak. It was no use. In no time Karnage was on top of him and grabbed him by the collar of his sweater, lifting him to eye height. He stepped towards the open beak and dangled Kit over the open space. "I am through playing thee childs games Meester Cloudkeecker;"Karnage hissed;" Give me the radio-identification codes!" Kit had no choice....his airboard was dented and unstable,impossible to reach in his position and even if he could,he couldn't use it with his leg. "Code 15 on frequency 115.7 and reset squawk to whatever is replied;"Kit said ;" now let me go." Karnage put him down on the ground and allowed him to reach for his airboard. When Kit opened it however, he snatched it out of his hands. "Now where have I seen this before?" Karnage said,examining the airboard. "No,please donít!"Kit pleaded as Karnage lifted the airboard up,preparing to break it on his knee. Karnage smiled and broke the board in several pieces. "Now doesnít this look familiar?"Karnage yelled to his pirates as he grabbed Kit again and held him over the open space. "Have you got any last words before you meet your destiny?" Things now got too familiar for Kit and he decided to go down just like his friend once had. "Iíll get you for this Karnage,I SWEAR IT!" "No,I donít think you will,my boy." Karnage dropped Kit and the Pirates cheered. Kit fell towards the surface at a terrifying speed. He saw the ground drawing ever closer,but also noticed the dense treegrowth. He tried to aim towards the trees,knowing the branches would break his fall-or his neck. The fall seemed to last forever,until he finally reached the branches. He felt a powerful blow to his body as he entered the growth. Several branches broke off because of the speed. He suddenly felt a sharp pain in his right leg -must be that shotwound-. Half a hartbeat later, a branch hit him in the face. His vision blurred,but before passing out,he saw the ground,too close for comfort. "Thee glorious Karnage calling Piratesque Ground Crew;" Karnage knew the chances of Kit surviving were slim,but he had to be sure. "Yeah Karnie,donít blow a fusebox. Whaddya want now?" Mauler sounded as usual. "A convict has fallen in your unimmdediate proximity. Please see if heís still alive?" "He fell two thousand feet Karnie.....but if you really want to waste my time, Iíll check it out." Mauler grumbled and threw the microphone away. "Guys,Karnage has dropped another traitor. He ordered us to check it out;" Mauler said to his companions. One of them, a stupid,but nevertheless impressive looking Ferret replied. "Since when do you take orders from that fool?" He asked "I donít;" Mauler replied ;"Iím just hoping he survived,so I can get my hands on him myself." Half an hour later, the 'expedition' found Kit. "He sure looks dead to me;" the ferret said. "Got to be sure;" Mauler replied as he stepped towards Kit. Suddenly,he gave Kit a vicious kick in the ribs that made Kit,who was lying on his side roll over to his back. "Yep,heís dead;" Mauler concluded as he saw that Kit wasnít reacting; "Letís go back to our game of poker." If looks could kill,Mauler wouldíve dead by now as a pair of eyes watched his every move from the bushes. When the Ground Crew was gone a figure stepped into the open, a rusty,jagged cutlass in his hands...... Sunset. A beautiful ballet of silver and orange, the eternal struggle between day and night. Inhabitants of Cape Suzette now wake up or are in some cases already at work. One person however hasn't slept at all..... Rebecca Cunningham had spend the night making phonecalls and listening to radio transmissions but unfortunately with little succes. Desperately searching for news about her missing crew she was now in the radio-room of Higher For Hire, talking to Louie Lamont.... "So you are *sure* they left?" she asked yet again. "Sure thin' miz'! Baloo and Kit winged outta here yesterday after refuelling. They were kinda worried about getting back in time. Guess they didn't;" The receiver crackled in an imitation of Louie's voice patterns. "Thanks a lot Louie." Rebecca sighed "Higher for Hire over and out." -Where are you Baloo?- She gave up and went down the stairs. When she got down, she started to walk more carefully, making sure not to wake up Molly who had spend the night in the sofa. She started to walk towards the door, to resume her staring at the horizon when she suddenly noticed Molly yawning. "Good morning sweethart"; she whispered in Molly's ear. "G'morning mommy! Where's Baloo and Kit? You said they'd be here when I woke up! "Molly protested. "I'm sorry honey!I don't know where they are.." Rebecca started to run her hand through Molly's hair. "But I thought.There they are!" A familiar sound filled the morning air. The hum of the Superfly 100's announced the arrival of the Seaduck. Molly jumped up and ran through the door. Rebecca was for once glad to hear the splash of the Seduck's hull settling in the water,knowing it mostly reminded her of lost money. Although Baloo was now over twelve hours late, she was more relieved then angry. But then again,she could not allow her authority to be undermined. "Baloo you irresponsible,lazy,fat..." Rebecca suddenly stopped her speech when she noticed the empty navigator seat. It wasn't of Kit's habits to leave the plane before finishing the shutdown checklist. "Baloo,where is Kit?" Baloo opened his door and fell out the plane. Rebecca knew something was seriously wrong. "Baloo are you all right? What happened?" "They killed him! THOSE DARNED PIRATES KILLED KIT!" Ballo yelled hard enough for the entire bay area to hear and started banging his fist against the hull,leaving serious dents in it. "What are you talking about?" Rebecca demanded. She started comforting Molly,who had started crying after hearing what happened. "We were flying home,trying to save time" Baloo explained "and decided to fly over the Goman Height. We were caught by the pirates and tried to escape. Kit opened the bombbay door but was too late too jump out himself. I heard a gunshot and when I circled back to get him out of there THEY THREW HIM OVERBOARD"; Baloo started to bang his fists against the hull again. Rebecca stopped him,but not to prevent damage to the Duck. "This isn't going to get us anywhere Baloo, why don't you come in,relax, and tell us exactly what happened." Molly was now crying her lungs out. "Kihihit, where are you?" Meanwhile,Kit was still alive, getting cared after by the stranger that had appeared out of the bushes. "Uuuhnn...HUH?" Kit suddenly woke up,not recognising the environment. As quickly as he had gotten up, he lied down again, pinned down by a terrible headache and pain in his chest. "Wow,calm down small fries;" A voice spoke out of nowhere. "Firehound?" "Yeah,it's me,now ease up." Kit suddenly noticed the figure examining his leg,recognising Firehound. But not the Firehound he had once known. What he saw was a scarred,beat-up streetdog in torn clothes. Somehow he had made an eyepatch out of his goggle straps and was wearing his belt around his leg,obviously to keep it in place although no visible signs of a broken leg were visible. "How did you? I thought you were dead!" "I thought the same thing of you when I saw you again;" Firehound laughed ;"but that's quite a nasty wound here." "I know,but I don't think it hit any bones or muscles"; Kit replied Firehound kept looking at it for a few more minutes before starting to bandage it in. "You sure were lucky. I haven't finished your check-up yet,I didn't think you would wake up this soon. You feel anything else?" Firehound asked. "Yeah,my ribs hurt.....must have been the fall." Firehound knew better but decided not to tell Kit about it yet. "Let's take a look at it." Kit pulled up his sweater and Firehound whistled. "What's wrong?" Kit asked and looked down. His chest was black and blue. "Better lie down kid,you probably broke some ribs. Didn't you feel that?" "Only when I got up. Come to think of it,I haven't felt that leg hurt either" Kit replied and looked at the worried face of his friend. "Must be the adrenaline! This is going to be a problem." "WHAT'S going to be a problem?" Kit asked. Firehound just started to look more worried. "See kid,you haven't felt nothing yet because your adrenaline level was high, probably excited about meeting me again or something like that. But when it drops... well I don't have any pain-killers here." "Then I'd better get moving to your plane" Kit said as he got up. He put his right leg down first out of force of habit and stood up. "Ouch!" "Sit down kid,what's the matter?" "My leg! Can't be that shotwound,can it?" Firehound started examining Kit's leg-he was quite a good doctor- and needed just two seconds to see that it was broken bad. "You remember the Kitty Shark kid? Tell me what you remember of it!" "It's a beautiful plane. A Conwing classic with shark motive on the nose. Refitted with Bee 500's and several." Kit broke of as he felt a painful shrike in his leg and heard an audible crack. He looked down and saw Firehound grinning,already working on the leg brace. "Sorry 'bout that kid. And The Kitty Shark! That's another story. She was nearly destroyed when I crashed here,but the Ground Crew took the remains away. Don't know what became of her!" "You mean we are stranded here?" Kit asked. Firehound had finished setting Kit's leg and had securely bandaged it in place,holding it there with a piece of wood. "Yep,that's pretty much the essence of it. Unless we go get it back offcourse"; Firehound got up and took his cutlass in hand,the only thing he had saved from the Kitty Shark. "Then let's get going" Kit said,ready to keep his promise to Karnage. "Yeah,right. I'm not going to carry you all the way through the jungle small fries." "Just give me a crutch,I'll manage;" Kit said. Firehound grinned -that's right,keep that adrenaline flowing- and handed him a strong piece of wood. "I used this after I had my own encounter with the ground here, I think you'll agree it's good for *small* emergencies too." Kit grinned as he got the joke: Firehound was about twice his size,so it probably was a cane to him,but Kit could barely fit it under his arm. He hopped up and walked outside,finding support on the strong crutch. Outside,he noticed for the first time how dense the jungle was. The wind blowing through his hair also made him realise he was no longer wearing his trusty baseball cap. -Guess I'm looking worse then I feel- "You really think you're up to this kid?" Firehound asked concerned. "Guess I'll have to take the risk huh?" Firehound grinned once again -This kid remembers way too much!- "Ok,let's go!" Firehound started hacking his way through the jungle,using his jagged cutlass,Kit hopping closely after him. Ten miles out of Cape Suzette harbor, the Pirates onboard the Iron Vulture were preparing for the assault. Karnage had assembled his forces in the main hanger, getting ready to explain his new strategy,based on the information extracted from his prisoners and the codes obtained from Kit. "For many of you, thee time of plundering has arrived;" Karnage started ;"but some of you shall have to postlay the festivitations." Some Pirates started to grumble. Karnage noted the protesting pirates and surprised everyone. "Yes,you,the grumbling group. You will be my infiltration crew." The pirates suddenly noted they were selected for the lousy job, a realisation that was immediately followed by a loud "HEY?!" "Do not worry my plundering beasts.....you will have plenty of thee fighting! You weel take out of commission thee guns on the cliff." "WHAT?! You're trying to get us killed Karnage?" "No,my trusty killing machines of destruction. Allow me to take the chance to explain...." Ten miles futher, the mood in Rebeca's appartement was below zero. Molly hadn't stopped crying so Rebecca had put her in bed and was now in the living room talking to a crestfallen and depressed Baloo. "I'm sure it's not as bad as it seems;" She started. "Yeah,sure;" Baloo snorted ;" Kit just fell two thousand feet without getting hurt. Get real Beckers." Although the use of the name Beckers would normally make her jump,Rebecca decided not to react now. Baloo really needed someone to listen to him. He needs Kit to funtion properly and now it seemed as if Baloo was a lost schoolboy, desperately in need of guidance and a shoulder to cry on. "Are you sure it was Kit you saw?" "What pirate wears a green sweater? Besides,when I turned back again,this blew into my window;" Baloo reached into his pocket and pulled out Kit's baseball cap. He quickly put it on the table besides him. The mere look of it made Baloo's eyes fill with tears. "I don't know what to do anymore Rebecca. I know there's a chance he survived, but I also know it's not big enough to;" Baloo's voice broke. It was the first time Rebecca had seen Baloo cry. "Hey,come on,you said yourself there was a chance he survived;" She tried. "The odds are over 500 to 1. Who am I kidding?" "Kit has always been a lucky boy. He met you didn't he? And what were the odds of that?" "Even if he did, who'll look after him if he's hurt? There's nothing but jungle out there;" Baloo suddenly stopped;"and a raging band of Pirates!I have to go look for him" Baloo suddenly got up, his depression turning into vitality. "Baloo,what are you talking about?" Rebecca demanded. "Kit told me about a band called the Ground Crew. They have their base where he.. I've got to get him out of there" Rebecca scrambled to her feet and stopped Baloo in his tracks. "You're not going after him alone,I'm coming with you"; It sounded more like a statement then a debatable subject. "Who'll look after Molly?" Baloo desperately tried to leave Rebecca behind. "Wildcat can do that! You're not getting out of this that easy!" Baloo grumbled and opened the door. "Are you coming or what?" He asked to Rebecca. A few moments later they were on their way to the Seaduck. In the Goman Jungle,thinngs weren't going as smoothly. Firehound and Kit had traveled quite a distance through the jungle but unfortunately Firehounds prediction came true and Kit fell behind,slowing down the pace. "You all right kid?" Kit was breathing heavily and experienced more pain each time he put down his leg. "No. I've got to stop for a minute." Kit sat down on a treestump,wiping away his sweat with the torn sleeve of his sweater. "How much further?" It sounded like the familiar 'Are we there yet?' "I told you it wasn't going to be easy kid. But why did you insist on coming here in the first place? What have you done to have Karnage throw you overboard AND send the Ground Crew after you?" Firehound asked. "I tried to escape! at least my friend made it." Firehounds eyes started to twinkle. "You actually tried again? Who was the guy in the Conwing L16? He must be someone special to risk your life for. Is he an infiltration pilot too?" "No,nothing like that. He's a cargo pilot." "Karnage has cargo haulers now too?" "HE'S NOT A PIRATE!" Kit yelled at Firehound. "Wow,sorry bout that kid. So who is he? Another prisoner of Karnage? What's so special about him that Karnage's protégé helps him escape and takes the fall for him?" Kit sighed and stared down.... "I haven't been Karnage's protégé for a long time,Firehound;" Kit confessed;"Two days after they threw you overboard I tried again. I stole a crystal and got away. I met the guy with the Conwing at Louie's,a recreational island for cargo pilots. He stuck with me when things got rough and has always supported me,even when I turned my back on him. His name is Baloo, he works in Cape Suzette. We seem to go everywhere together. When his air service got taken over,his boss gave me a job as his navigator." Firehound appeared impressed. "Think his boss will give me a job too?" "Dunno. Mis Cunningham...." Kit suddenly stopped. "What's the matter kid,are your ribs bothering you?" "No,but the Pirates plan an attack on Cape Suzette. I have to warn them!" "Think you'll make it to the pirate's base?" "I have to!" Kit hopped up again and continued the road to the Ground Crew's air base. Meanwhiles, Karnage's infiltration crew was flying towards the cliff. "Dove 17 , requesting a Code 5. Repeat,requesting clearance to pass." Hal tried to make it sound as sincere as he possibly could,imitating the free pilots of Cape Suzette. "Dove 17 , clearance granted, reset squawk 112.8 Mhz." The cliffgunners had complained about the huge workload and the union had come up with a new system based on radio codes. Each and every plane wanting to pass had to call in a certain code that changed monthly,known as the Radio-indentification code. To check wether the plane was Pirate or not, the Radio operator sent a radio frequency that had to be entered in the transponder,a recent invention that was already mandatory in every plane that flew out of Cape Suzette and that send a permanent signal to the Radar operator,another new invention. Since no pirate was supposed to have the code or a transponder, Dove 17 flew through the cliffs unharmed and unobserved. "Odd!" The first word of the Radar operator in hours made a few heads turn. "What's wrong Jim?" "Dove 17.....It was reported hijacked a few days ago." There was a silence and a sudden realisation.... "Pirates! Where is that plane now?" "I don't know,it dropped of the radar five minutes ago. I found it strange and checked the callsigns of the hijacked planes." A sudden panic broke out. "Quick, we gotta call it in with the coast!" The door fell out of its hinges and several windows shattered... "Drop that microphone;" a booming voice ordered. The operater seemed reluctant but a click of the pirate's carbine made him remember his children at home. "Good boy"; the pirate smiled as the operator put down the microphone and left his post. "Hal,you coming or what?!" Several pirates shouted over the edge of the cliff. "Gimme a second guys....How do you guys climb that fast?" Hal puffed,still climbing the cliff. "Easy,we work out;" a pirate laughed. The radar room and the gun control room were now completely taken over by the pirates....phase one of Karnage's plan was complete. On the other side of the bay,Baloo and Rebecca climbed into the Seaduck. Baloo started the engines and the Conwing L16 slowly started to move and taxied towards the cliffs. Several moments later they were airborne. Baloo picked up the microphone. "Seaduck code 5. Requesting permission to pass." In the radar room, Hal had no idea of what to do next. "Uhhnnn,Roger Seaduck,please hold on..."; He turned off the mike;"NOW WHAT?!" "We have strict orders not to let any plane pass;" a pirate answered. "But does that mean only from outside to the inside or vice versa too?" Hal asked. The pirates fell silent,not knowing what to answer: they weren't told what to do if a plane wanted to *leave*. "What's wrong guys?" The speaker carried Baloo's voice through the room. Hal flipped on the mike. "We have a small problem with our equipement Seaduck....permission denied;" The pirates gestured well done to Hal. "No problem, let's do this the old-fashioned way. Climbing to 5 000;" The pirates paniced. Baloo wouldn''t have any trouble seeing what's wrong at that altitude." "Negative Seaduck. Please return to your dock;" Hal saved for the second time. "This is an emergency! Just check out my plane and let me pass;" Baloo was starting to get mad.... "Seaduck,return to your dock immediately. Visual reference is no longer allowed: Union policy!" "What the?! That's the biggest load of mumbo-jumbo I've ever heard;" Baloo yelled in the mike. "Seaduck,last warning: return to your dock or be shot down!" Hal wasn't the best fighter in the Pirate group and certainly not the one with the best condition,but he was the only one who knew how to keep his head cool in these situations. Baloo had almost crushed the microphone inn his hand,but decided it wasn't worth it. When the Duck landed he was steaming mad, ready to take this to the highest authority. "Have you ever heard a bigger lie in your entire life Beckers?" Baloo yelled "I can't believe they wouldn't let me pass." "I don't get it! They are supposed to let emergency flights pass,no matter what. Something strange is going on here;" Rebecca said. She went inside and picked up the phone. "Hello,Cape Suzette Harbor Police?" In the Goman jungle,Kit was exhausted. He and Firehound had travelled a great deal through extremely dense jungle and had finally reached the Ground Crew's airbase. But the difficult part had yet to come..... "What's the plan?" Kit asked. Firehound had noted him getting further and further behind and was now very worried about his health.He knew he wasn't up to fighting with these pirates....But he also knew that he had to if he wanted to get him in a hospital. "We barge in there, knock out whatever comes our way and take a plane. Does that sound good to you?" "Sounds like a plan, let's do it;" Kit hopped up and started in the direction of the air base. "Wow kid,just a second;" Firehound stopped him;"you stay here!" Firehound drew his cutlass and ran to the air base,leaving Kit no chance to answer. Inside the air base,Mauler and Co. were playing another game of poker when they heard something outside. "What was that?" Mauler shot up. He heard a heavy thud; "Guys, get ready,time to check this out." They stormed outside and saw Kit lying on the ground. He had tried to follow Firehound but his crutch had broken in two. The pirates laughed. "So,the traitor has come back for more;" the stupid looking ferret said as he approached Kit. "Shut up idiot! Who gave him that crutch? And those bandages." Mauler's questions were answered when he felt a sword pressing in his neck. "Drop those weapons!" The Ground Crew formed a half circle around the hostage-situation... "Are you guys nuts?! DROP YOUR WEAPONS,THIS GUY ISN'T KIDDING;" Mauler yelled at his pirates. "But boss,you always said;" the ferret started. "Drop your weapons,idiots!" The pirates did as they were told. "You seem to have a little authority problem here Mauler! Now pick the kid up, gently, or your boss loses everything from the neck up." The ferret picked up Kit and noted the broken leg. Instead of putting him down, he placed him on his shoulders "See,that's the kind of attitude I like;" Firehound smiled to the ferret. "Let's get this over with.... Whaddya want?" "A plane,fuel,weapons and medication for the kid." "I can't give ya any of that." "Really?" Firehound pressed his sword closer to Maulers neck. The ferret started shaking his head. "That does it Mauler! Firehound, we have a plane,fuel and weapons ready." "Keep your mouth shut A.C.!" "You keep a lid on it Mauler!" Firehound hissed as he pressed his sword once again;"Lead the way A.C. I knew you wouldn't let me down." The Ground Crew grumbled and took a step back as A.C. opened the door to the storage room. Firehound let Mauler go and gave him a kick in the back. A.C. quickly locked the door behind them. "What did you mean when you said 'I knew you wouldn't let me down' to A.C.?" Kit asked. A.C. smiled,put him on a crate and shook Firehounds hand. "Good to see you again man" He said to Firehound. Kit was now puzzled. Firehound noted his confusion and decided it was time to explain. "Sorry about the piece of theatre kid...A.C. was once my mechanic and navigator, before I left the Ground Crew that is! All this violence just wasn't me. I knew you'd see it my way some time A.C." "Sorry I didn't look after you after you got thrown overboard,but I knew you were all right." "Ah,no hard feelings A.C. You were there for me now,weren't you?" Kit cleared his thoart,deciding that this chatter could go on for at least more then an hour. "Weren't we here for a plane?" "Yeah,A.C.,what have you got stashed away here?" A.C. cracked a big smile and gestured Firehound to follow him. Firehound picked up Kit and followed the ferret to a dark corner of the hanger. He beheld a plane, cloaked under a dusty sail. A.C. pulled away the sail and saw the lights in Firehounds eyes twinkle. "I eh! Took the liberty of salvaging her from the scrapheap and pieced her back together." Firehound stood there,motionless and searching for words as he looked at the Kitty Shark,good as new. "Wow! The last one I saw piecing a plane back together was Wildcat;" Kit said, staring at the Conwing Classic. A.C.'s eyes lighted up like a blazing fire. "Wildcat? Frank Wildcat? You know Wildcat?" "Yeah! He's the mechanic at Higher for Hire!" "I know Wildcat: one heck of a mechanic and my leading example,but I never heard of Higher for Hire!" "Guess you know it better as Baloo's Air service." Firehound grinned and he knew that Kit just made a great first impression. "The kid is Kit Cloudkicker,Baloo's navigator." "Great to meet ya kid;" AC said as he shook Kit's hand. "I wish the circumstances were a bit better" Kit said,reminding everyone why they were here. AC got himself together. "Sorry,got a bit carried away. Why are you guys here anyway?" Explaining didn't take long. AC was always ready to get in the way of Karnage's plans. "Besides,it's time I quit this stupid pirate thing anyway;" AC concluded. "Glad to have you on our side"; Firehound said. Kit started coughing,but managed a weak; "yeah,I'm glad too." Firehound got that concerned look again and gestured AC to follow him. He stopped out of Kit's sight,making sure he couldn't hear them. "The kid is in a bad shape,we have to get him to a hospital." "What's wrong?" AC was now worried too. "He broke several ribs! It doesn't look pretty!" "It's Mauler's fault,isn't it? I'm gonna kill that guy" "There'll be plenty of time to do that later,but we have to get going NOW!" They got back to the plane and started fuelling and loading. Half an hour later they were on their way to Cape Suzette,undisturbed by the Ground Crew's guns. The fact that the guns remained silent was largely due to the fact that Mauler found out the hard way how good Karnage is in chewing someone out over the radio. "Incompeetent,fat,lazy-type,backwards pirate of thee third generation. Incredeeble stupid!;" Mauler had had it! He ripped the receiver out of the wall and smashed it to pieces on the floor. "THAT DOES IT! I'M TIRED OF GETTING ORDERS FROM THAT MEGALOMANIACAL FOOL!" Mauler yelled "WHO'S WITH ME?" The Ground Crew cheered in one voice,void of any personal opinion. "I thought you would be! Let's bring in the P39's!" Several miles out of Cape Suzette in the Iron Vulture,Karnage noticed the sudden break of connection. The Ground Crew had always been his place for outcasts, so he was hardly worried at all. His attention was now focused on the coming plundering of Cape Suzette and the new riskfactor... He decided to make sure the Kitty Shark was too far away to intercept and contacted his new radar station. "Hal, is any plane starting to stirr his nose into our bussiness?" It took Hal a while to understand he message -why couldn't Karnage speak normal?- "One unidentified blip moving your way.....better watch out for it,it's quite close" "Armed?" "Not confirmed! No heat signatures except the engines." "What engine type?" "Bee 500" "Thank you Hal,keep the skies peeled!" -Bee 500's! Where have I seen these before! OH NO!- He flipped a switch and put the microphone on intercom. "My fellow pirates,the time of fighting dog-style in thee sky has come. Thee Kitty Shark is comeeng this way! It is heavily armed. Shoot eet down at whatever cost ." The pirates scrambled and soon the sky was filled with the hum of CT-37's,ready for combat. Inside Cape Suzette harbor, Rebbecca finally finished a phonecall. "This is hopeless!" She sighed and slumped into her chair. "No luck huh?" Baloo concluded. "No. It appears that a decision by the radar operator is irreversable. I have tried contacting every official in this city, but they all say the same!" "And what about emergency flights?" "The radar operator decides what is an emergency flight and what isn't! Unless they have prior clearance,like Khan's pla....";She fell silent at the sight of the huge shadow approaching Cape Suzette. The Iron Vulture was flying in between the cliffs,unharmed, blocking out the sunlight into the city. The panic was indescribeable. "Why aren't the gunners firing?" Baloo asked desperately. Rebecca stood nailed to the ground. "Beckers,go get Molly and run to the underground,you'll be safe there"; Baloo commanded. Rebecca suddenly realised what situation they were in and decided she had a six-year old child to take care for. "What are you going to do?" Rebecca asked as she saw Baloo climb into the Seaducks cockpit. "I'm gonna try to stop those CT-37's from reaching the city." "That's the work of the Air Force,don't be stupid." "We stopped them last time,we'll do it again!" Baloo got into the cockpit,started the engines and took off for the coming fight while Rebecca rushed home. Another Conwing was rushing to the scene. The crew was getting ready for the upcoming fight,except one.... "Kid,for the last time, lie down;" Firehound had serious troubles keeping Kit under control. He ordered him to get some rest over 10 times already,but Kit was still sitting in the navigator seat. "No way. Cape Suzette is under attack! We have to stop the pira..." Kit started coughing again. "Kit,don't force me to knock you out again. You know I will if I have to"; Firehound threatened. Although he had done it already,both Kit and AC knew he would never even yell at Kit in his present state. "Firehound,the kid just wants to help! He's got more to lose then you and me. Give him the chance to prove what he's worth!" "Besides, you need me!" Kit said; "Even if AC operates all mid-deck guns, you need me to fire top-gun." "Kid,I hate it when you are right! I'd let you fly but I don't think you have your license yet,so get up that ladder to upper deck!" AC smiled and gestured a 'thank you' to Firehound. He left the cockpit and ran after Kit who was having trouble getting up the ladder. "Sure you up to this kid?" AC asked,as sincere as he possibly could. "You're starting to sound like Firehound"; Kit coughed. "I'm just worried kid! You're not looking too good." Kit had been able to keep up the 'I'm okay' look for about half the flight, but AC looked right through it and had asked him several times to get some rest. Kit was tempted,but remembered Baloo,Rebecca and Molly and decided to lie to him every time. Now,he was feeling worse then ever,and AC had seen it.... "It doesn't matter how I feel AC,I've got personal business with the pirates." "Don't let it get the best of you,or you'll end up a pirate again,just like me! Now let me help you get up there." AC gave Kit a push. Pretty soon,Kit found himself at the controls of a double- barreled,anti-aircraft machine gun. He had a great view of the bay area,the Iron Vulture and the incoming fighters. "Hey,what the..?" Kit took another look and saw his previous sighting confirmed. A formation of P39's was following their exact path. Kit saw a large 2 painted on the tail fin of the formation leader. "P39's behind us!"Kit yelled down at the rest of the crew. "The Ground Crew!" AC yelled "What?! How did they get P39's?" Firehound cried to the back of the plane. "We stole the design plans.....and I've kinda refitted them with Cobra guns." "What?!" Kit and Firehound cried in one voice. The Cobra gun was a terrible developement in weapons design. The sheer strength of the shell was able to penetrate any aircraft armor. But the Cobra shell was also explosive,making them twice as lethal. Kit set the gunsight of his gun,determined to make every shot count. He was having trouble placing his leg in the narrow bubble,without having it broken again when he turned the gunpoint. He noticed the radio under the control stick,set a frequency and grabbed the microphone over his head. "Cloudkicker to Seaduck,come in Seaduck." "Lil' britches? Is that really you?" "Sure is Baloo,sorry I haven't contacted you sooner.." "Keep away from Cape Suzette Kit,the pirates are attacking." "I know! I gave them the identification codes. I'm onboard the Kitty Shark,our guns are loaded and ready, please inform the Air Force we are here to help." "Kit,please,turn back! No need to risk your life." "We stopped them last time,we'll do it again." Baloo remembered his own words tho Rebecca,knowing now how foolish they must have sounded. "Kit,please!" "I'm not going to let my friends down,not now,not again. A formation of P39 with Cobra guns is following us,we plan to take them out before they reach the battlefield. Cloudkicker out!" "Kit,wait!" The click ended their conversation. Baloo knew Kit was a very stubborn boy and that he would go the distance to protect his friends. "I'm not going to let you fight this one yourself"; Baloo said to himself. He pushed full throttle and dodged a pair of fighters,streamers flying past his cockpit. He flew through the cliffs and saw the Conwing Classic being ambushed. CT-37's on one side and P39's on the other. The CT-37's came out of nowhere and slowed the Kitty Shark up enough for the P39's to catch up with them. Below Kit,guns started to rattle,reminding Kit of the sound he heard so many times before he met Baloo. A CT-37 zoomed past and Kit opened fire....the plane went down in flames. The sight was terrible. The flames devoured the entire plane as the pilot desperately tried to escape. It made Kit sick that he was responible for this. Several planes flew past,but the top gun remained silent... In mid deck, AC ran from one gun to another when he noticed Kit wasn't firing anymore. "Kid?! What are you doing?" Kit heard AC yell at him, and he let go of the triggers. "I can't do this! I can't kill anyone." "Kid, I understand you,but this is not the time! Fire at the wings,it's non- lethal and it gets the job done." "I already killed someone AC!" "No you didn't! That pilot jumped"; Ac lied to Kit;"You are doing this for a reason,remember? You came this far,don't give up now!" Kit grabbed the controls again and fired a burst to the P39's wings. One of them got hit and started to circle down. The canopy opened and the pilot jumped.... "Told you it would do the trick!" Kit saw an unexpected plane arrive on the battlefield. A Conwing L16 started distracting the CT-37's,giving Kit a clear shot. He suddenly noted a CT-37 with a large 1 on the fin. "Payback time Karnage"; Kit hissed and he squeezed the triggers. The gun jammed on him... "NO! NOT NOW!" Kit yelled hard enough for Firehound and AC to hear over the noise of the engines and machine guns. "Kid get out of there,that gun is overheating!" Firehound yelled,keeping an eye on the temperature meter. "NOT NOW I HAVE TO CHANCE TO GET BACK AT KARNAGE;" Kit yelled and squeezed the triggers again. The gun started to smoke and Kit decided to run. His leg got stuck behind the control panel. "KID,FOR THE LAST TIME GET OUT OF THERE!" "AC,go get him!" AC rushed up the ladder and saw Kit struggling to get out of there. He grabbed him under his arms and pulled hard. Kit shot loose and both of them tumbled down the ladder. "WHAT'S GOING ON BACK THERE?!" Firehound yelled back. "Guess the kid has finally taken your advice;" AC replied The fall had knocked Kit out and AC put him in a bed. Outside,the Seaduck was struggling with the CT-37's but was helped by the Air Force and the Ground Crew who had taken on the Air Pirates. Baloo turned his plane and looked for the Kitty Shark. To his shock,he saw both engines burning. "Kitty Shark to Seaduck,come in Seaduck;" The receiver crackled in Baloo's cockpit. "What's your status Kitty Shark?" "Both engines gone, busted air brakes and flaps. Rudder is starting to collapse." "Time for an emergency landing. Do you know these waters?" "Negative Seaduck,please lead the way." Both planes,the Seaduck in the lead, flew through the cliffs. Firehound managed to keep his plane flying and in one piece. He noted the empty space in the harbor. "Gonna try a landing! Wish us luck!" "You made it this far,you'll make it!" Baloo pushed full throttle and gave Firehound room to land. He turned his plane and saw the Kitty Shark starting its descent. "Everyone ready back there?" Firehound shouted to the back of the plane. AC had strapped Kit in using a blanket. He took care not to tie it over his ribs. After he made sure the bearcub couldn't roll out of the bed, he buckled himself up in a nearby chair. "Ready here!" The engines were spitting flames and oil,making a terrible noise. Firehound tried to keep his head clear and made his descent without any flaps,careful not to exceed minimum safety speed. A loud sound filled the plane.... "The rudder is tearing off!" AC shouted forward. Firehound shallowed the dive to keep the rudder from falling off too fast, knowing it will eventually. The sound was now replaced by one of metal hitting metal. The water drew closer every second. "Hold on,we're gonna hit water!" Firehound warned AC. Baloo had set the duck down and saw the Kitty Shark hitting the water with a big splash,pieces of the engines and rudder flying through the air. The top gun caught fire immediately and Baloo rushed over to the crash site. "Firehound,you all Right in front?" A silence filled the crashed plane. "What are you still doing here? Get out of here!" A familiar voice replied as a figure stepped out of the smoke. The entire plane was now filling with smoke. "That Conwing L16 is coming over." The Seaduck was on its way to the crashed plane to pick up the crew. "What happened?! Oh no FIRE!" Firehound and AC almost forgot about Kit in the bottom bunk. "Yeah kid,we know,but the Seaduck is picking us up;" Firehound calmed him. AC picked him up and opened the side door. The Seaduck came alongside and Baloo opened the side door too. "Glad to see ya!" Firehound yelled. "Get in before the fuel tanks blow!" Firehound checked for the first time how his plane was doing from the outside. He noted the fire near the wings,approaching the fuel tanks. AC was the first to jump. He had difficulty reaching the Duck with Kit on his shoulders,but he managed. Firehound followed seconds after. Baloo shut the door and ran for the cockpit. He aplied full throttle and hydroplaned away. Firehound kept his eye on his plane. The fire reached the fueltanks!! Firehound looked away,but heard the loud bang! The Kitty Shark was no more. He ran to the cockpit. "Thanks for getting us outta there"; He said to Baloo as he sat down in the navigator chair. "No prob. I owe you anyway! Would you mind taking the controls? I'd like to talk to Kit." Firehound grabbed the controls. "Where to?" he asked. "Cape Suzette hospital,you can't miss it." Baloo got up and went to the cargohold. AC had put Kit in the bottom bunk again and was sitting in a nearby chair. He noted Baloo coming in and understood his intent. He got up and gestured a 'I'll be in the cockpit' to him. The cockpit door closed and Baloo started to talk. "Hey,little britches! You gave me quite a scare." "Didn't really have the chance to contact you in that jungle;" Kit joked weakly. "I'm glad to see you alive! I'd be lost without you!" A tear started to form in Baloo's eye. "I got so close to getting back at Karnage! If that gun hadn't jammed.." "You wouldn't have fired at him anyway";Baloo interrupted;"It would make you a Pirate,and that is the one thing on this planet you hate." "Guess you're right...." Kit started to cough again and saw his vision blurr. "Kit?!Kit!" Baloo saw Kit's eyes roll away as he passed out again. The fight had given him some energy,but now that everything was over he was exhausted..... With two different groups firing at each other,the Pirates never had a chance. The Air Force had no problem mopping up the remaining fighters. The infiltration group barely made it back to the Vulture. The Ground Crew jumped over the city, not even a big manhunt could catch them. The governement decided to blow off the alarm and declared the sky and ground free of pirates. Cape Suzette started the everyday routine again,quickly forgetting about this short attack. Rebecca Cunningham was now walking down a hospital corridor,holding Molly on one hand and a neatly wrapped package in the other. She knocked on a door... "Come in;" someone shouted from the inside. She entered and saw Kit lying in a hospital bed,wide awake, with Baloo and two other men in the room. "Oh,hello Miss. Cunningham;" Kit said as he saw her enter. Molly jumped on the bed and started hugging Kit. "Kit!" "Glad to see you too Molly! Ouch!" Molly was leaning on his ribs....Baloo picked her up. "Wow,carefull kiddo." "Sorry;" Molly said somewhat sadly. "Aw,it's nothing." "So,Kit,how are you doing?" Rebecca asked as she pulled a chair near his bed. "Not that bad,considering I was shot ,broke a leg and two ribs and bruised several others!" Kit joked. "Any idea how long they plan on keeping you here?" "At least one more week in observation..." "Here,this is for you;" She said as she handed him the package. Kit opened it and found his baseball cap. "Thanks a lot Miss. Cunningham." "And I'll fix that sweater soon!" She started examining the torn sleaves and other damage to the green sweater ;"You managed to get this torn up pretty good! Under normal circumstances I'd be mad right now.." She joked back. "Pleased to meet you Miss. Cuningham;" Firehound said,extending his hand. Rebecca shook it,not knowing who he was. "Oops,forgot;" Kit said ;"Miss. Cunningham, this is my old friend Firehound,he took care of me when I was still a pirate, and did it again in the Goman jungle." "I don't know how to thank you enough for saving Kit's life, Mr. Firehound." "Firehound will do Miss. Cunningham;" Firehound smiled back. AC stood up and Kit started another introduction. "This is AC,Firehound's mechanic and friend." "Pleased to meet you." A silence fell and everybody knew the inevitable question was about to be asked. "I take it you are both retired pirates.....Have you got any idea what you're going to do now?" Firehound sighed.... "I'm afraid not....My plane exploded after the crash." "Ehhm! Actually;" AC started ;"The damage wasn't total! I can fix it,but not without the parts." "What kind of plane did you own Mr. Firehound?" "A Conwing Classic. The production line was stopped almost ten years ago;" Kit answered. "These parts are extremely expensive;" AC added. It was bound to happen. The business sense in Rebecca saw a great opportunity to double Higher for Hire's capacity. "I feel responsible for the loss of your plane Mr. Firehound! I will give you the money to rebuild your Conwing" Firehound was eager to accept,but.... "I'd be honored Miss. Cunningham,but I want you to consider it a loan! I will pay you back." Rebecca knew he'd say that -all those pilots are the same.- "In that case I have no choice but to hire you until you earn back your plane!" Firehound and AC smiled,knowing they just got themselves a job. Kit smiled to, but for a completely different reason. Baloo just smiled to see another Conwing pilot hired. And Molly and Rebecca,well.....They both knew they had hit the jackpot with those two planes and these great pilots. She stood up and shook Firehounds hand:"Glad to have you on board!"