Written By: Kristof E-Mail: Kristof.firstname.lastname@example.org Disclaimer: All characters expect Chris 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. Chris and others 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.
Life is hard at times. Just when things seem to go better, something drags you down again. But life has his hidden treats for everyone. Although not always visible to the naked eye, there are ways that life makes up for so much in just a split second. This moment can be the laugh of a child, the love of a mother or something completely unexpected.
As the day progressed in Cape Suzette, several routines unfolded. Planes took off and landed, people came and went, and mail arrived as it did every day at Higher for Hire. Rebecca was wondering how it is possible to have such few customers and still have so many complaints about the cargo not arriving in time. She rummaged through the different envelopes, hoping for something different then a bill or a complaint. -maybe a business proposal for a change…Wait a second, what's this?- She spotted an envelope, different from all the others. As she picked it up and sat down in her deskchair, she noted the stamp in the upper right corner: 'Bureau of child welfare'. The envelope read: 'to the legal guardian of Christopher Windward'. Rebecca nervously took her letter opener and prepared for the worst. The envelope contained two letters, one was adressed to Kit, the other to Rebecca. She started reading:
" Dear Miss Cunningham,
Our information indicates that one of our missing orphans, Christopher Windward, has found a permanent adress at your home. Although no legal information exists about you being his legal adopted mother, we have decided it is in the child's best interest not to pursue this matter. If you are able to offer him a stable family life, no more steps are necessary. We will erase Christopher from our missing list and list him as one of the few lucky that found a person like you. Included is a letter to Christopher, explaining him what I am about to say.
Christopher escaped the orphanage before giving us the chance to shed light on his family life. I feel it is my duty to inform you…."
Rebecca's eyes widened and a smile formed on her lips…the smile of a caring mother.
"Next time Little Britches, start descending sooner…"
"Couldn't help it Pappa Bear…that plane doesn't fly like others"
"At least no damage was done"
"No, but the ATC wasn't too happy"
The conversation was what Rebecca was waiting for: Kit and Baloo had returned from their daily flight lessons. Although Kit knew how to fly, his landing needed a lot of practice.
"I'm not looking forward to the fine, I tell you that"
He spent almost everything he had on a hanger, fuel and downpayments on his plane, usually not having enough for himself at the end of the week. Luckily nobody noticed the withdrawals on the Higher for Hire bank account, or Rebecca's donations would soon come to an end. It made bookkeeping a living hell, but it gave her the feeling of being a true mother.
The two bears entered, still talking to each other. Baloo was wearing his usual outfit, but Kit was so proud of his plane that he wore a white scarf and goggles every time he went flying, just like it was done in the Great War of the air. Rebecca had also bought him a leather flight jacket which he wore with great pride. She cut in their chatter
"Aha, my two aces…how did it go today"
Kit was proud to be considered an ace pilot, although he found he didn't deserve that title. What happened today seemed to prove that
"Takeoff went great, manoeuvres were excellent, but the landing…" Baloo said
"What happened during the landing?" Rebecca always showed interest…after all, she had invested in that plane
"I descended too late and overshot the runway…almost collided with a plane on the ground"
"Got fined huh?"
"Kit…that's an entire week of work…don't worry about it, accidents happen. I'll take care of that fine"
Baloo's jaw dropped
"Ah, come on, teach him some responibility…let him work overtime for that money" Baloo really loved Kit, but he hated it when Rebecca was overprotective.
She shot him a killing glare
"You seem to forget that not everyone is overpaid like you…you earn the tenfold AND you are his instructor. I'll pay the fine out of your wage…"
"Or would you like paying the damage claims for overdue deliveries instead? That would be teaching someone responsibility…"
Baloo backed off. -nothing more dangerous then a mother protecting her child…-
"Thanks miss. Cunningham, but Baloo is right. I'd rather work for the money"
"Well…ok. I'll pay the fine, but you'll have to do the dishes for the rest of the month"
Kit nodded as he hung his jacket, scarf and goggles on the clotheshanger. Baloo smiled and whispered "Don't worry, I'll help ya" in Kit's ear.
"Ehmm…Baloo, I know you have a delivery to make right now, but I'd like you to stay for a minute"
"Huh? I thought this was an urgent delivery…'The most important delivery in our history' remember?"
"What I'm about to say is more important Baloo…" She placed a hand on Kit's shoulder "sit down for a minute Kit"
Kit sat down and prepared for bad news. Rebecca sat down next to him.
"If this is about my landings, trust me, they'll improve in a while…don't sell my plane yet"
Rebecca smiled, took off his baseball cap and ran her hand through his hair.
"It's not about that. This came in the mail for you" She handed him the letter
"Bureau of child welfare…I don't think I want to read this…"
"Do it anyway…"
Kit started reading. His eyes followed the letters. Somewhere in the middle of the letter, his eyes widened. He read the same sentence again, not believing what was written.
"Miss Cunningham…do you know what is in here?"
She smiled again and looked at him sympathetically
"I know…you're not dreaming Kit…"
"But…but then…" He jumped in the arms of Baloo, looked him in the eye and shouted "I HAVE A BROTHER!"
Baloo set him down "Let me see this"
Kit handed him the letter and Baloo started reading
Although we were deeply worried about you after your escape from San Flamingo orphanage, we recently found out you found a loving home in Cape Suzette. Congratulations, we hope you get along great and wish you the best for the remainders of your childhood years.
Now we have traced your whereabouts, we think it is time to inform you of another living relative. You and your brother Chris were split up after your parents' accident due to a lack of space in the orphanage. Before we could reunite the two of you, you had already escaped. We realise this must be a great shock for you, but let me assure you that Chris was equally surprised. As it seems that you have found a good home, there is no reason for us to keep Chris in the orphanage. We have decided to reunite you both, and hope the two of you can make up for lost years."
Kit had tears in his eyes and Baloo got emotional now too.
"Kit,this is…this is great news" he stammered
Kit hugged Baloo and started crying from joy. Rebecca looked at the two, but waited until Kit had calmed down to continue the news.
"Your brother is in another orphanage in San Flamingo."
"Is he…my age?"
Kit sat down again as he felt the world slide underneath his feet. He still couldn't believe it.
"A twin brother…I spent over three years looking for my family and found nothing. And now…a brother! When can I see him?"
Rebecca walked back to her desk and picked up the letter she got.
"According to this, the papers are ok for his release out of the orphanage…You can go pick him up whenever you want."
Kit got up and ran towards the Seaduck. Baloo took the keys to the Duck and followed him. To his surprise, he saw Rebecca following too. As the three entered the plane, Baloo looked at Rebecca with a strange eye.
"Shouldn't you be waiting for customers? Or do some paper work?" Baloo asked in almost a mocking tone
"This is important Baloo…Higher for Hire is closed for the rest of the week because of personal reasons. So no more cargo runs this week" She added the last while tearing up Baloo's time schedule. He started smiling.
"Buckle up, 'cause we're leaving fast!"
The Seaduck pulled out of the dock, made a short run and took off towards the cliffs. The engines were purring full throttle.
The new San Flamingo orphanage was a large, yet stylish building in postwar architecture. In contrast to the old orphanage several blocks away, this one had room for over 100 children and still have enough rooms vacant for creative activities. The steps to the front door were brand-new and fresh paint colored the railing. Baloo rang the bell, and a friendly looking squirrel opened the door.
"Yes, can I help you?" Her voice sounded friendly and inviting, but left no mistake she was always in charge.
"Good afternoon m'am" Kit started as he took off his cap "I received news that my brother is staying in your orphanage. I would like to meet him…"
The squirrel looked down to Kit
"And what is your name, my good boy?"
"Kit Cloudk….ehhmm Christopher Windward" He was used to calling himself Cloudkicker, and using his real name gave him a strange feeling.
The squirrel opened the door further and invited them in
"Chris has been dying to meet you. Make yourselves comfortable, I'll go get him." The squirrel opened the door to her office, let them in, turned around and went up the stairs. The environment reminded Kit of the old orphanage. He shifted nervously in his chair, waiting for miss. Stubaker (as it read on her office door) to return with his brother. Rebecca saw his nervosity.
"Calm down…they'll be here any second"
"I can't wait that long…" Kit got up and stepped towards the door. Suddenly it swung open and Miss. Stubaker appeared in the door opening. She smiled when she realised Kit wanted to go look for his brother upstairs himself.
"I see you're as nervous as Chris…let's not keep you waiting any longer". She put a hand on Kit's shoulder and escorted him to the hallway. The two were followed closely by Rebecca and Baloo.
When they arrived in the hallway, Kit saw a bearcub in a red sweater, similar to the one he was wearing. He ran towards him and the bearcub did the exact same thing. A silence fell when the two met. Both bearcubs looked straight into eachother's eyes. Although Kit had Jack's dark eyes, Chris clearly had Katie's blue eyes. But for the rest, Chris was the spitting image of Kit, if maybe a bit smaller. Kit had lot's of exercise on the streets and onboard the Iron Vulture, while Chris had been in the orphanage the whole time. Both cubs shook hands
"Hi, the name is Chris…"
"My name is Christopher, but I kinda prefer Kit"
"Sure thing…Kit. One question…have you got the same interest in flying?"
"I live it, I dream it and I think about it every ten seconds. That's why I escaped in the first place."
"I would've too, but security around here is very tense…not like the old orphanage…"
They both hugged and Kit felt a metalic object in the back of Chris' sweater
"I see you have an airboard too…"
Chris pulled it out
"Is that what it is called? I never figured out what it was…" He handed Kit the board. Kit pressed the button and the airboard clicked open, revealing its full size and shape. Chris looked at it with awe and whistled.
The symmetry of the twins was now immistakable. Chris mimiced every stance and posture from Kit and the voices sounded almost alike. Although both had had a different education, the love for aviation was clearly present in Chris too.
"What is it used for anyway?"
Kit cracked a smile from ear to ear
Chris was a bit puzzled
"Cloudsurfing? What is that? And who invented it?"
Kit got serious again
"The real inventor of the airboard and cloudsurfing was our dad…He loved flying so much he wanted to touch the sky. I'll give you a demonstration sometime, and I'll teach you if you want. Have you ever flown before, Chris?"
"Not really…unless you count travelling by plane"
"I'm telling you, flying is what life is all about! There is nothing like the feeling of your own set of wings leaving the boundaries of earth and carrying you up in the sky"
"You were so lucky Kit…escaping, immediatly finding a decent home and having your own plane and pilot's license…my life was dull around here"
Kit started to look a little sad
"My life wasn't all fun and games Chris…It took me three years to find a good home. All that time I was looking for our parents, or any other living relative. And it almost got me killed to get what I have right now. My past is not something I'm proud of"
Chris saw the sadness and knew Kit's past must have been hard. He decided not to ask what happened -yet. Instead he hugged Kit
"I'm here now my brother…nothing can come between us now"
Rebecca smiled when she saw the two brothers hugging. A tear formed in her eye. As she looked around her, she noticed Baloo and miss. Stubaker looking at the scene with the same compassion.
"Miss. Stubaker?" she started
Miss. Stubaker suddenly remembered her place in this touching moment
"ehm..Yes Miss. Cunningham?"
"It meant a lot for Kit to finally meet his brother. I…I just want you to know that we can provide a good home for both…"
Miss Stubaker looked Rebecca in the eyes
"Chris has gotten very restless in the orphanage the last few years. He even tried to escape when he was 9. We couldn't possibly keep him here any longer, knowing he has family. The papers are signed for his release. Take good care of him…Rebecca. I'm asking you as a mother, not as his legal caretaker"
"Chris will always have a home now. It would do both of them a lot of good to be able to make up for lost years. He can help Kit to finally accept his past, and the death of his parents"
Miss Stubaker's eyes filled with tears. Although the adoption of an orphan should be a happy occasion, she always felt a little sad to give up one of 'her' children.
"I'd give you his personal belongings, but he has none, except what he is wearing. The sweater and the airboard is all that he got left of his parents. I see the same is true for Christopher." She looked tenderly at the two brothers
"Please step into my office. You'll need to sign a paper for his release. After that, I trust him with you"
Chris was now officially free to go. Before leaving San Flamingo, Rebecca bought both brothers an icecream to celebrate their reunion. Chris whistled when he saw the Seaduck.
"A Conwing L16?"
"I see you have the same knowledge of aircraft design like your brother. Must be a Windward trademark" Baloo joked.
Instead of taking his usual seat to the right of Baloo, Kit gave his place to Chris. He wanted him to experience his first takeoff in a cockpit. Once the Seaduck was on its way to Cape Suzette, Kit entered the cockpit again.
"How did that feel Chris?"
"Like a dream coming true."
"Pilot to navigator…please calculate course to Cape Suzette"
Kit didn't budge.
"Kit, shouldn't you…" Chris started
"Baloo asked the navigator…and since you seem to be sitting in his chair…"
Chris took the map and a compass and started calculating
"Almost! 115 Baloo…"
"You have got to teach me that one day…"
"You seem to be doing fine. You just forgot the winddrift. Theoretically, that course was correct."
"Not bad for a first time kiddo…Another Windward trademark…"
"Call me Baloo, everyone does"
"I would appreciate it if you stopped calling me Windward. That name has too many sad memories attached to it. Call me Cloudkicker"
Kit's eyes lit up
"Now, I'm definately sure we're twins"
"Yep Little Britches…birds of a feather…"
Although 90% of the trips to San Flamingo end up in the Iron Vulture, there wasn't a pirate in sight. Kit was able to give Chris a demonstration in cloudsurfing.
"That's why they called Jack 'Cloudkicker'" Kit said to Chris as he entered the cargo hold again. He closed the hatch and sat down in one of the passenger chairs. Chris sat down in the chair next to him.
"How did you find that out?"
"Pure necessity. If I hadn't, you'd be the last of the family…But this is not the original one."
"Neither is this one. I busted it when falling down the stairs several years ago. That's why my escape attempt failed. Talking about bad luck huh?"
"Actually" Kit started, getting that sad look again "you were lucky. Escaping the orphanage was the most stupid thing I have ever done in my entire life! Sure, I met Baloo, but it almost got me killed too."
"Maybe…but it saved Cape Suzette too."Chris reached in the hidden pocked of his sweater, and pulled out several pieces of newspapers.
"When they told me I had a brother, all of this suddenly made sense." Kit read some of the articles. They were entitled "Local boy fools pirates and saves city", "Cloudkicker risks life to avoid pirate attack", "Cloudkicker charged with murder" and "Cloudkicker cleared of all charges"
"Imagine my surprise when I saw myself in the newspapers…"
"It was sheer luck I survived all of that. There are things you should know about me Chris"
"Whatever it is, you'll always be my brother. And I'm here for you, no matter what."
Kit looked down, shuffling his feet
"I was an Air Pirate Chris…"
"No, by choice. I wanted to fly, no matter how much it took. I was protégé of Don Karnage for a year. But that wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It's a small episode in my life, but one I still carry the consequences from."
"Life is never easy Kit, but grey skies…"
"…are going to clear up. But the cloud of my past will never fade away"
"That is all in the past! You have a future too! You'll make a great pilot and navigator. I on the other hand had to pick up engine repair. That is the closest I ever got to planes"
Kit put his arm around Chris' shoulders
"No more Chris. You'll fly more then you could have ever dreamed of!"
"Hey Kit!" Baloo shouted from the cockpit
"Yeah Pappa Bear?" Kit got up and walked to the cockpit
"Are you going to call in the registration code, or should I start dodging the gunners?"
"Sorry…forgot. Time flies when you're talking to someone"
Chris entered the cockpit too. It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen: the cliffs of Cape Suzette
"…roger" Kit ended his short conversation with the ATC "Cleared for landing"
The Seaduck flew through the cliffs and was over the bay in no time. Chris looked out of the window
"Hey guys, look, Higher for Hire…ever heard of that company? It seems world's best pilot and co-pilot work there."
Baloo and Kit started grinning and Rebecca entered the cockpit
"It's closed for business at the time"
"The co-pilot just found out he had a twin brother"
"Welcome home Chris!"
Baloo eased the Seaduck in for a landing.
"Take a good look how it is done Little Britches"
He set the trim and airbrakes, slid the throttle back and descended. The Seaduck hit the water with a gentle and graceful splash.
"It's easy in an amphiban transport. Do the same in a fighter and your nose spontaniously digs a hole in the ground."
Chris interrupted their conversation
"Kit, have you actually flown a fighter?"
"I stole a pirate prototype. Since it officially doesn't exist, it's mine" Kit said it with some bravado, but Chris was impressed as it was
"Makes me wonder how many more times you're going to surprise me today"
The Seaduck taxied towards the dock and Chris took a long look down the pier. This was all he ever dreamed of.
"Ehm, Miss Cunningham, I'm afraid we're going to have somewhat of a fundamental problem"
Rebecca looked a bit surprised
"No more rooms…"
Rebecca slapped her forehead.- How could I forget that?- Her mind quickly tried to come up with an answer. Suddenly, she got an idea. She stepped over to Baloo.
"Ehm..Baloo…now that Firehound is not around, would you mind taking his room? After all…they are brothers, they deserve a room together"
Baloo grunted, not looking forward to climbing all those stairs in the evening. He looked back to Kit and Chris.
"Oh, allright…but it can't stay this way!"
"Offcourse not, I'll ask Firehound to move in with Wildcat and AC"
Baloo's eyes widened and his jaw dropped
Rebecca turned back towards the brothers
"Problem solved! Chris, you'll sleep in the same room as Kit, Baloo moves to Firehound's room and Firehound will have to move in with Wildcat and AC."
"Allright!" Both cubs slapped hands in a high-five. Baloo sighed again
"Miss.Cunningham…would you mind if I showed Chris the city later?"
"It will take a while for Baloo to move all his stuff to Firehound's room…Why don't you show him the city right now?"
"Thanks a lot Rebecca, I appreciate what you have done for me" Chris said while Kit gestured him to follow.
Both cubs walked along the harbor. It was getting rather late, and most activity was from fishing trawlers. Several dozens of planes lay docked at the shore, slowly bobbing up and down on the rythm of the sea. Kit sat down on a bench, looking over the water. Chris joined him.
"Quite a view isn't it?" Kit started
"Yeah…Gives me a strange feeling of deja-vu."
"Most be childhood memories…I have the exact same feeling. I always longed back for those days. Taking one last look at our parents, even if it's only a split second, would make up for so much. I often wonder why we inherited this crazy longing to fly."
"We're Windwards Kit. We're born pilots. Don't forget it's in our insticts to make an airboard. Dad must have taken us in the air so many times it became a second nature to us. It would be crazy not to follow that dream. What I wonder is this: if our parents had their own succesful business, how come we never inherited anything?"
Kit stared out to the cliffs
"The least of my worries…unless you mean planes offcourse. I think the governement sold it all to make up for all the lost silver."
"Sorry, I haven't told you yet…and I don't think miss Stubaker did either…" Kit explained the entire history. About how their parents were shipping silver and got attacked by pirates.
Chris' eyes darkened for a few moments
"If I ever run into Don Karnage, I'll…I'll…"
Kit place his hand on Chris' shoulder
"I'd probably do the same thing, but he's not someone to mess with. And I don't want you getting hurt when we meet him again"
Chris looked at Kit with a strange eye
"Don't you mean 'if'?"
Kit let out a little laugh
"No, definately 'when'. He's one of the few constants in my life…as much as I hate to admit it"
"Must be though to be constantly reminded of what you were, instead of what you could be"
"As you said…it's al in the past. I…WE have a future to look forward to. Tomorrow, or the next day, I'll teach you how to cloudsurf. Give you a chance to test your airboard."
"I don't know how stable it is…"
"You know what? You take my airboard when we get to it. I'll try out your board…don't want my brother to get hurt while I try to teach him something"
Chris smiled and Kit gave him a tap on his back
"Come on, it's getting late. You don't want to break curfew on your first night, do you?"
The cubs stood up and walked back to Higher for Hire. Both of them looking at the cliffs as they walked.
The kitchen of Higher for Hire was now the scene for Chris' first family dinner ever. Kit and Rebecca watched as Baloo and Chris gulped down their food, seemingly equally hungry.
"'telling ya kiddo" Baloo swallowed down what he had been chewing on "I've never seen a kid eat that fast"
"Just that….after a long time in an orphanage…" Chris took another bite
"Everything tastes good" Kit completed and laughed
Rebecca looked at the three and felt her hart melt. With Molly gone until tomorrow with Firehound, she felt the need to take care of the cubs instead.
Onboard the Iron Vulture, a strange meeting took place. Don Karnage stood in the main hanger, his pirates in a half circle behind him, weapons ready. Out of the other corner, a dark figure walked towards him, followed by at least seven more. The delegation stopped three feet from Don Karnage and formed a half circle. Their leader stepped into the light of the only lighted lamp in the hanger.
"Make eet quick traitor"
On the insult of Karnage, the dark seven pulled out their weapons and assumed battle stance. The twenty on Karnage's side did the same
"Put 'em down boys!" The leader of the seven shouted. The pirates did as they were told, but tension remained between the two groups
"Come to grovel and beg for thee mercy of thee glorious Don Karnage?" He sneered
"I've come to negotiate a truce. The rivalry between us has taken its toll on both of us. We are both running out of ammunition and planes."
Karnage let out a high pitched laugh
"Speak for yourself Mauler. Eet ees not because thee Ground-like Crew is overly underequipped that thee same es true for thee glorious Air Pirates!"
The pirates let out a cheer and the Ground Crew picked up their weapons.
"You may have enough equipment Karnage, but my seven can easely mop up your pathethic bunch."
Karnage laughed again
"That ees why myself has a wondeerfull surprise for your low self"
Karnage clapped his hands and seven shadowy figures stepped out of a doorway. The missing seven Ground Crew members.
"You pieces of vermin! Abandoning me on the streets of Cape Suzette, and now working with this rat?" Mauler yelled while pulling his sword out of his belt.
The first of the missing seven gestured his companions to stop.
"We lost faith on that mission. But working two weeks for Karnage made us come to a decision"
The seven walked towards the Ground Crew group and joined their ranks.
Karnage lost his smile. A blood-thirsty look replaced it. Mauler let out a small laugh and clapped his hands
"Gee…thanks a lot for the surprise Karnage. My seven could roll up your gang, imagine what fourteen can do"
He made a dramatic gesture to his pirates, all holding their weapons and ready to strike. Karnage gestured his pirates to drop their weapons.
"Eet ees a deel. Thee Ground Crew and thee Air Pirates will be allied-type."
One of the pirates switched the light back on, and Mauler and Karnage shook hands
"Glad that's over" Mauler said. Karnage grinned
The pirates broke off formation and went back to work like nothing had ever happened.
Kit and Chris were laying in the dark. Chris had gotten Baloo's bed until the situation got cleared up. He was trying to sleep, but somehow sleep eluded him.
"Hey Kit…" He said softly
"Yeah?" Kit replied. Appearantly, neither of the cubs could sleep
"You never told me if you have friends."
"Have a few…all future pilots…we actually started a club."
"Think you can introduce me?"
"I'd like to, but there's kinda a strict rule…all members must at least have lived one adventure"
"Oh…I see. When did Baloo actually adopt you?"
"He didn't" Chris heard Kit turn around in his bed "He's more of a…close friend"
"So officially, your name is Cunningham?"
"I wish…I was never adopted Chris"
There was a short silence and Chris suddenly felt Kit sitting on his bed.
"Don't be. I'm not sorry either. My life might have been a mess, but I wouldn't trade it for the world"
Chris sat up straight
"You told me it took you three years to find this place. You spent one year with the pirates…what happened to you during those other two years to make you so hard? You hardly tell me anything unless I ask, and when you do it's cryptical."
Kit sighed and lay back on the bed, his hands behind his head
"I've seen and done some pretty shady things, and some day I'll have to pay the price. I just hope you won't be around to see it"
Chris lay down next to him
"Nobody can convict you for what you did all those years ago…"
Kit got up and walked back to his own bed
"I wish they couldn't my brother, I wish they couldn't…"
As both cubs stared at the ceiling, sleep finally came.
As the sun rose over the cliffs, a plane known as the Kitty Shark flew towards the sleeping Higher for Hire. Rebecca was already awake, making breakfast for the ones sleeping. The plane docked with grace, not even hitting the wooden pier. While the propellers were still spinning, a small golden bearcub raced towards the office building.
Molly jumped in Rebecca's arms. Rebecca kissed her on the forehead
"Good morning sweetie. Did you enjoy your visit to granny?"
"Uhuh. She asked how you were doing and how it was going with the company and who the new pilot was and how the weather is here and is Kit awake yet?"
"Not yet…" She tickled Molly's nose "Why don't you wake him up?" she put Molly back on her feet.
The cub ran off, yelling "Dangerwoman to the rescue!"
Rebecca turned towards the dock
"Thanks for dropping her off"
"No problem. We had to be there anyway" Firehound replied while stepping into the office. He sniffed "Hmm…is that bacon I smell?"
"Sure is. Want some?"
"Nah. Our cargo run was too exhausting, I'm just gonna sleep for a while"
Firehound started up the stairs and saw Molly entering the upstairs bedroom
She opened the door silently, ready to surprise Kit in his sleep. She looked around in the room and saw Chris in Baloo's bed. -They must have switched beds- She silently approached him. Suddenly she jumped on the bed, yelling "Dangerwoman captures the slimegiant!"
Chris jerked awake, knocking Molly's legs from under her. She fell on the mattras.
"Why did you do that?" She pulled up her lip
"Sorry…you must be Molly…"
Molly was puzzled
"We know eachother…Did someone steal your brain while you were asleep?"
Molly started examining Chris' head
Kit heard the commotion and woke up. Rubbing his eyes, he saw the odd scene playing out on the other side of the room
"Hey Molly! Back already?"
"Huh?" Molly let go of Chris' head "oh no, you got hit by a duplication ray…Mommy!"
Molly ran down the stairs. From upstairs, Firehound yelled too
"What the heck happened here?!" He overlooked his room, now occupied by Baloo. Baloo didn't like Firehound's decoration taste and completely remodeled the room. "Baloo, what are you doing in my bed?!"
Firehound got down the stairs too, demanding an explanation.
Rebecca picked up Molly and gestured Firehound to calm.
Kit, Chris and Baloo came down the stairs, all three still somewhat sleepy.
"Mommy, it's the evil double!" Molly hid her head when she saw Chris.
"It's nothing to be worried about sweetie…" She put Molly down "Sorry for the late introduction, but say hi to Chris, Kit's twin brother"
Firehound shook Chris' hand and Molly approached slowly
Chris crouched to meet Molly's height and reached out his hand
"Nothing to be afraid of Molly…I'm not a monster." Molly still seemed weary and Chris decided to bring in the big guns "How is Lucy doing?"
Molly frowned -no monster would know about Molly-
As Molly started giving Chris an elaborated explanation on Lucy, Firehound started yawning
"I need my room Miss. Cunningham. Wildcat is running out of space"
"Guess we'll have to buy some bunkbeds…sorry about the mess Firehound, but this came very sudden."
Firehound started up the stairs
"Hope you don't need some shuteye for some hours Baloo…I'm exhausted"
The commotion of that morning was easely forgotten once the Seaduck took for the skies. A routine run to Walla Walla, delivering teacups to a business tycoon. The road to Walla Walla was easely calculated, winddrift was almost non-existing, so there was actually no reason for a navigator on this trip. The reason why Kit did come along, was to keep a promise to his brother. They were both in the cargo hold. Kit was teaching his brother the basics of cloudsurfing.
"So basically, it's the same as waterskiing." Kit explained while bending his knees and pretending he was already in the air "Just remember to step on the front edge to descend and put pressure with your heel to climb. Always try to keep your balance and put pressure on the foot you want to steer to…That's it, that's all there is to it"
"No, one more thing" Kit opened the cargo hatch "Watch the first step…it's a long way down"
Kit grinned, Chris looked and gulped, staring straight into a twothousand feet drop
"I'm not going to chicken out here"
Both cubs exchanged boards. For the occasion, Wildcat had installed two tow ropes, each with their own winch. Each brother grabbed a rope and jumped. Two boards clicked open and Chris experienced the joy of cloudsurfing for the first time.
"This is great! YAHOO!" Chris shouted at his brother
"Told ya it would be fun!" Kit shouted back. He suddenly noticed he kept climbing. Chris' board was never tested before and it was rather unstable. -Better not risk it- He tought to himself and stepped on the front end to descend. As he pushed on the front edge, a piece broke off and the board slowed down, starting to swing wildly to all sides.
"Kit? What's wrong?" Chris shouted to his brother who was now almost above him
Before Kit got the chance to answer, the right side of the board collapsed. He flew on in a very delicate balance. Several springs shot out of the board, dragging scrap metal with them. They hit the winch and a blue spark was seen. Kit's tow rope caught fire. The board now slipped completely and fell to the earth.
"Winch me in!" Kit shouted to Baloo, panicking
Baloo set the plane on autopilot (his trusty crowbar) and ran to the back to try to get the winch started manually: the button on his control was dead.
"Darn thing isn't working!" Baloo shouted back
The rope was halfway burnt through
"Use a fire extinguisher" Chris shouted, still cloudsurfing
"Can't do that…had them filled up with cherry soda"
Chris and Kit groaned simultaniously. Chris swung left and got behind Kit
"On three, I want you to let go of the tow rope and grab hold of me"
"Sure you know what you're doing?"
Kit let go of the tow rope and grabbed the waist of Chris. Chris underestimated the shock and let go of the tow rope with one hand. Kit set his feet on the board next to Chris' and grabbed the tow rope.
"Let go Chris…I've got it"
Kit started pulling them both in, having some problems because of the added weight. The winch started working and the cubs were in the cargo hold in a matter of seconds. The first tow rope was burnt through and joined Chris' airboard on its way to the ground.
The twins lay in the hold, gasping for air.
"And this was supposed to be a routine trip" Kit almost laughed
"If this is routine…I don't think I want to see exiting" Chris joked back
Baloo hastily shut the hatch.
"Didn't you test that board before we left?"
Kit sat up
"It looked fine on the ground…must have been a small construction error"
Chris sat up too and put his hand on Kit's shoulder
"Sorry…didn't mean to put any of you in danger"
"Wasn't your fault…You saved my life out there. The least I can do is make you another board"
The brothers looked into each other's eyes and smiled, knowing they had created a bond that could never be broken again.
The port engine grumbled, and its hum lowered. The engine stopped and the crowbar jammed in the controls fell to the floor.
Baloo muttered a curse under his breath and ran to the cockpit.
"Engine failure…hold on, we're going down wether we like it or not"
The Seaduck was bobbing up and down on the rythm of the ocean. The landing went smooth, but nothing could get the engine back on. Chris volunteerd to check it out and was now energetically fiddling with the engine mechanic, observed by Baloo and Kit who were sitting on the wing.
"Doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it…" Chris said to no one, his head still in the engine "AHA!"
Baloo and Kit looked up as Chris pulled a spring with pieces of metal attached to it out of the engine.
"This must have flown in the engine when the airboard collapsed. It jammed the compressor and choked out the engine. It should be fine now, problem is it takes so long to find it. The compressor is the last place a mechanic looks"
The Seaduck had indeed been resting on the water for more then three hours, missing the appointment with the customer by two hours.
"Miss. Cunningham is going to kill me…That client could have ment big money"
"Don't worry Little Britches…I'll probably get the blame anyway"
"…irresponsible, lazy, good-for-nothing…"
If there's one constant in the deliveries, then it's that Baloo indeed always gets blamed for the lateness.
Kit stepped forward, twisting his cap nervously in his hands
"WHAT?!…ehmm I mean, what's the matter Kit"
Baloo let out a sigh of relief. The gearchange on Kit had saved his job…for now
"It's my fault we were late. The airboard I was using collapsed and damaged the engine."
"You should know better then to go cloudsurfing on a board you haven't tested…" Rebecca's voice sounded serious, not her usual sweet when talking to Kit
"I was too busy to test it. With these flying lessons and all…"
Rebecca closed her eyes for a second. That was the sign she had reached a difficult decision.
"Your P40 is costing this company a lot and it seems your flying lessons are distracting you from other duties. I will give you one last chance. You'll fly in your P40 with the Seaduck to Belgrum. I want to see a perfect landing on the Cape Suzette airstrip, or I will be forced to sell it."
Kit's eyes widened in disbelief
"But…Miss. Cunningham…" Kit started. Rebecca sighed
"No argument about this one Kit…I'm sorry" She stood up and took the P40 keys from the keyrack "You can leave right now"
Chris saw the whole scene and felt guilty…
The trip to Belgrum went smooth. Kit's P40 could easely keep up with the Conwing L-16.
"Why are we going to a small dot on the map anyway?" Kit asked over the radio
"One of Becky's usual schemes…It's illegal to sell alcohol in Cape Suzette now, and the bars on other islands are complaining. They can't get anymore cheap alcohol from Cape Suzette, so Becky figured they might be interested in Belgrum beer. They have more then they can sell, so it's cheap. Becky plans on selling it with a huge profit"
"Just like the time to Port Hairn"
"Yeah, at least now we can fly in daylight. We can land in Opstend, one of their bigger coastal cities. I'll land in the harbor dock, and you're scheduled for Opstend regional airport."
"Roger, Cloudkicker out!"
The Opstend regional airport was one of the biggest cargo airports in this part of the world. It was crowded with planes, taking off and landing. Business still trived here and the Belgrans proudly baptised it 'Queen of Cities'.
"Cloudkicker P40, cleared for landing on R21"
Kit started his descent, more rapidly then before. The radio in his cockpit jumped alive again
"Cloudkicker, you are under the glideslope. Abort landing, clearance cancelled"
Kit's plane hit the ground before he could pull up. He taxied towards the hangers and switched off the engine. When he got out of the plane, the ATC was waiting for him, flanked by two policemen.
"Mr. Cloudkicker, please follow me to the tower…"
When Chris arrived on the airport, Kit was sitting down on the ground, leaning against the landing gear of his plane, looking pretty down
"How was the landing?" Chris asked, knowing better then to expect a positive answer
Kit handed him the paper he was holding, without looking up. Chris started reading
"Ignoring ATC commands, landing without permission, endangering airport…100 DOLLARS?! Wow, what happened?"
"Was too low. Clearance was cancelled but I was too late to pull up and landed anyway. Miss Cunningham is going to skin me alive…" He put his head between his knees and stared to the ground
"Your landing needs work, so what? You still have enough time to learn on the return trip."
"I know the theory Chris, but I screw up when it gets real. My landing in Cape Suzette will be the last in at least six years…if they ever consider me for a license after this…"
"Man…this just ain't fair. It's my fault you're going to lose your plane"
Kit looked up to Chris
"This isn't your fault. I should've tested that board before we left. At least you got the engine working. And you saved my life! I owe you big time"
Chris sat down
"I only saved your life after MY board failed. I should've tested it. You had so much more to lose"
"If you had tried it out yourself, I would've lost something more dear to me then my plane…You're everything for me. The plane, the license, even my entire life as it is now, I would give it up in half a second to save you."
Baloo arrived on the scene and was just in time to see a tender brother moment.
"Ehhm…don't mean to disturb you, but the Duck is loaded…we can leave any minute"
Baloo saw the paper in Chris' hands
"That bad huh?"
"One hundred" Kit replied without looking up
"This ain't fair…can't let that good a pilot lose his plane over a failed landing can I? I'll settle the fine, you just get ready to impress Becky"
Baloo took the paper and walked towards the administration building. The fines were national business, nobody in Cape Suzette would know about it, and Belgrum deskjocks tended to lose or 'misplace' several documents when the price was right. The state still got its 100 dollars, and nobody knew…they figure it as the perfect solution.
The Seaduck was already in the air when the P40 was still waiting for clearance.
"What's the holdup Little Britches? Engine problems?" The radio in Kit's cockpit filled the plane with Baloo's voice
"Nah. All systems nominal, but they are reconsidering my takeoff clearance"
"Yeah, that ATC wasn't too happy. You're lucky he didn't throw you in jail"
"He was planning to, but I'm a foreigner. And since I'm underage he let me go with a fine. You guys go ahead, this might take some time"
Half an hour passed until Kit's radio finally came alive again
"Mayday,Mayday, this is Seaduck, under attack by pirate P39's…where did those CT-37's come from?" Several mettalic pings were heard, followed by a loud bang
"That's the port engine…Mayday, this is Seaduck…"In the background, guns rattled and Chris' voice was heard "Baloo, watch out for that….what is that? It's opening its beak"
"Mayday…we're entering the Iron Vult…"Silence.
Kit sat there for a while in his cockpit, letting it all sink into reality. The radio came alive again, and several hangers opened.
"To all fighter pilots, I repeat, to all fighter pilots. Foreign plane intercepted over Belgrum waters. Airforce will give chase. Please assist."
Kit switched on his mike and started his engine
"This is Cloudkicker P40 from Opstend airport. I'm going after them to save my friends and don't try to stop me!"
The ATC grunted in his chair
"Very well Cloudkicker, cleared for takeoff. Airforce will join you shortly."
Kit taxied to the first available runway, pushed full throttle and took off. The succesful takeoff made the ATC wonder if he hadn't been to strict on him the first time round. The ATC stood up and talked in his headset again. He had an open channel to the minister of defence.
"Yessir…understood sir…count on me" He closed the channel and reset his mike for the general airforce frequency
"To all fighters, this is not a drill. Full scramble. This is not a drill. All fighters cleared for any available runway. Good hunting. One P40 already in the air, please assist."
From every hanger poured pilots and planes. The Belgrum airforce was an incredibly well-trained one. Although not of the same size as the Thembrian airforce, the Belgrum fleet could easely defend their country, or attack with enormous accuracy. Fighters took off and divided in several squadrons. In all, twenty fighters took off and formed five squads. The rest stayed in the hangers, ready for a possible attack on their beloved country.
Kit's P40 had slowed down for the fighters to overtake. When they finally were at his side, he pushed full throttle again.
"Pilot made report of P39's and CT-37's. I know these pirates: they'll give you a run for your money" Kit was now talking through the mike built-in his oxygen mask.
"We're not in this for the money kid…" The squadleader said while putting on his oxygen mask "Always wanted to kick pirate butt. They're messing with the Belgrum airforce now. They'll soon regret that mistake" All pilots of every squadron cheered. Kit smiled under his mask
"Just hope you know what you're doing. Those P39's have been refitted with cobra guns"
"And so have these babies" The squadleader tapped his instrument board "Can't risk to fall behind on crime"
"And so, thee fat fly got trapped in thee magneefeecent webbing of thee two poisonous spiders"
Don Karnage was leaning in the port window of the Seaduck, still wearing his goggles.
"Yep, once again, your goons shoot up the engine and forced us to land here…very refined…"Baloo chuckled back
Mauler looked inside and noticed Chris
"The kid finally decided to wear something else Karnie. Seems he's no navigator anymore either"
Mauler rubbed Chris' bare head. Chris needed half a second to figure out which of the two was the murderer of his parents. He shot up and jumped towards Karnage. Baloo intercepted him in the middle of the jump.
"Easy kiddo, you don't mess with this guy" Baloo whispered in his ear. He pointed towards several pirates in the distance…their firing squad. Chris sat down in his chair
"The change did him good…got more energy now."
"And more stupeed, right cloudkeecker?"
Chris remained silent, staring in Karnage's eyes. Karnage was surprised to see so much hate in one look and backed off.
"Throw them in thee brig" Karnage wasn't as confident as usual.
As several pirates dragged the crew of the Seaduck away, Mauler opened the cargo hatch and laughed
"Seems they were trying to cut in our profits…Belgrum beer Karnie!"
Karnage walked over to Mauler but remained silent
"What's the matter Karn?"
Karnage put a hand on his chin, thinking
"I never reemembered cloudkeecker had thee blue eyes…"
"He wasn't acting like the brat either…"
Both pirate leaders looked in each other's eyes
"Interrogation time" They echoed in one voice.
Mauler closed the cargo hatch and followed Karnage to the brig.
The fleet of fighters had the Iron Vulture in visual range. Kit had joined the first formation, rather then risk drawing fire when the attack begun.
"Formation leader to all, attack positions" The radio in Kit's oxygen mask crackled "that means 'spread out and hunt' kid…" Kit looked outside and saw he was blocking the way of the entire right wing. He was unfamiliar with Belgrum tactics, but the explanation he got from the leader cleared it up a little. He increased the spacing between him and his wingman. The formation followed and soon the fleet was in attack position.
"Distance to target, less than 5 miles…lock and load"
The fighters armed their guns. Kit put the safety of his non-lethal defence system on 'off'.
"All fighters, report in"
"Red one, check"
"Red two, check"
"Red three, check"
"Cloudkicker one, check"
"Cloudkicker two, check"
Kit was surprised to hear 'Cloudkicker two'.
"Cloudkicker three, check"
Appearantly, the formation leader had assigned him a squad. Being the most advanced plane in the fleet, his P40 was the logical choice for wingleader.
The countdown continued with Blue and Black squad, both counting seven planes.
As the target drew closer, the tension built up.
Kit started sweating and flipped on his mike.
"Cloudkicker two and three, do you read me?"
"Cloudkicker two, copy"
"Cloudkicker three, copy"
"I don't want any unessecary shooting out there! If you can outfly them, do so. Attack only when engaged"
"Cloudkicker two, roger"
"Cloudkicker three, roger…thanks…don't like al that killing anyway"
Kit smiled under his mask. His first order as squadleader, and already commended for it…time to get serious
"Cloudkicker two and three, echelon formation, tight spacing, break off when engaged. I have a little surprise for them. Fly towards the upper strip."
"You're not gonna…?"
"Time to meet them up close and personal guys. Hang on tight"
Mauler and Karnage were listening in on the conversation between the two captives. Or as Karnage put it so colorfully 'dropping the eaves'.
"Can't believe they got us!"
"Can't believe these guys are actually working together. I tought Mauler had more brains than that."
"Almost got him Baloo…I was so close"
"You were lucky kiddo…like Kit told you, he's not someone to mess with"
Karnage's eyes widened. He knew something was wrong.
"I just hope my brother got that message"
A light illuminated Mauler's brains. Karnage had figured it out sooner, but at least now the two understood the true situation. The prison door swung open.
"Sooo…I understand that thee Cloudkeecker breed is far from extinct-dead like. Aynnothuer rat from thee same nest."
Chris eyes shot fire
"Wow. Look at him…aren't you afraid yet Karnie?"
"Ahahahahah….ayayayayayay" The last was not one of Karnage's new laugh routines. Chris had jumped forward and kicked him in the shins. As Karnage was performing a crossing between the mambo and the tango, Chris escaped into the hallways, followed by Karnage and Mauler. Baloo got up and ran after them, before one of the two remembered him…
As he ran up the metal stairs to the main hanger, a red light flashed and claxons flared. He understood why when he entered the hanger. Pilots were scrambling for their fighters and the beak was opening. The Iron Vulture was under attack.
"Red and Black seem to fend off the CT-37's, and Blue is mopping up the P39's…time for our little surprise"
"Incoming 9 o'clock"
"Keep present course, I'll take care off…" Number three was broken off by several mettalic pings. As his cockpit got perforated with bullets, his oxygen hose tore to shreds. Kit saw what happened and broke off to intercept the P39. Number three resumed his course to the upper strip, almost choking. The guns on Kit's plane fired. The engine of the P39 got infiltrated with a thick green slime. The plane lost momentum, stalled and spinned down. The pilot jumped. Kit rejoined the formation.
"Cloudkicker three, what's your status?"
Silence and static filled the radio
"Kyle! What's the matter?"
"Don't worry….little bro…just some thin air up here"
"I'm not risking your life by returning to Opstend. I'll land on the strip to make sure the coast is clear. You're next!"
Landing on the Iron Vulture was never easy. The strip between the propellers was short, too short for most planes. Only fighters can land there…if it isn't moving. At the moment, the Iron Vulture was climbing straight up, making the calculation for the descent very difficult. If all of that wasn't hard enough, the propellers were now going full throttle, creating a lot of turbulence.
-Come on…show you earned your wings…- The P40 started the descent. Kit's selfconfidence was below freezingpoint. He never completed a succesful landing, and now landing on the Iron Vulture…while it was moving? Most aces didn't succeed in that…Steadily the plane approached the strip. The wind from the propellers wildly rocking him from one side to another of his cockpit. The nose pulled up and the wheels of the landing gear hit 'ground' near the start of the strip. The shock almost hit Kit's head against the glass canopy, but the landing was perfect. As the plane slowed down and stopped, Kit realised he just completed the most difficult landing of his life.
Kyle saw the P40 slow down and he decided the coast was clear for a landing. His plane, a Folker 500, started the descent. The approach seemed decent…Kyle had his hand closed around his oxygen hose. The bullets had passed through his cockpit without hitting him, but the air pressure was slowly leaking out of the cockpit. Breathing became more and more difficult now that his air tanks were running low. He got between the propellers. The turbulence knocked the wind out of him. His gear hit the ground, but the plane tilted forward. As the nose hit the ground, Kyle let go of his oxygen hose. The plane grinded to a halt and Kit rushed over, carrying an emergency oxygen tank.
"Here, put this on"
Kit replaced Kyle's mask with his spare one, and connected it to the emergency tank. The engine of the Folker was smoking, but the air was too thin for a fire. The other Folker landed next to the crashsite. The pilot, by the name of Jim, jumped out.
"Kyle, you okay?"
Kyle gave Jim a 'thumbs up'
"Don't worry bro. My landings are always this crummy, you know that"
Kit watched the pilots for the first time and noted their symmetry. Kyle, obviously younger then Jim, was a tall black panther. Jim was a bit smaller, and his fur showed a white spot here and there, but the relation was undeniable.
"How ironic…flanked by two brothers to save my own"
Kit forgot about the built-in speakers
"You have a brother here?"
"Yeah, he was onboard the hijacked plane with my best friend…If that ATC had let me go sooner…"
"You'd be captured now too, and I'd be dead. You're a great pilot kid, no argument there, but there's a difference between downing one plane and taking on a complete fleet"
Jim had opened the hatch to the interior of the Vulture
"Are you coming, or should we vote first?"
"Don't worry kid, he's always that sarcastic"
Kit decided to join the laugh. He stepped over to Jim and looked him in the eye
"Are you challenging your wing leader?"
"Sir, no sir"
"Too bad…I almost double-dared you to go in there first…"
The laughing trio entered the Vulture through the maze of catwalks and corriddors, all the while listening to the alert claxons of the pirates.
Kit opened a door and gestured the two brothers to take off their oxygen mask.
"This area is constantly pressurized" He said as he took off his own "Be careful, we're close to the hanger"
A familiar bearcub raced by, followed by a furious Don Karnage
"Chris!" Kit shouted as he started in a run to follow.
Chris looked back and saw his brother following Karnage, accompanied by two panthers. Kit gestured him to run left. Chris darted into the first left turn he encountered
-No, not that one!- Kit thought while following Chris into the entrance to the hanger
Chris noticed his mistake and stopped. Baloo had reached the Seaduck and was sneaking in when suddenly a voice made all pirates look in one direction
"Hahaa! Thee rat is trapped like thee little mouse, yes-no?" Karnage grabbed Chris by the collar.
Kit turned to the pilots
"The only he's going to let him go is if we intimidate him…if it fails, it's my responsibility, and you guys take off in the remaining planes…but I'm not leaving"
Kit picked up a fallen cutlass and the two pilots did the same. The trio slowly approached Karnage
"Let him go Karnage"
The voice was an icy cold bass. Karnage turned around and saw Kit approaching with two panthers, all three wielding a cutlass
"Aha, thee other rat…started your own gang, yes?"
"No" Kit snarled "And unless you release my brother, you will be chopped in thee tiny pieces, yes-no?"
Karnage pulled Chris to the edge of the beak
"And now, puny one?" Karnage was slightly surprised to see the panthers with Kit, and he snapped his fingers. Two pirates started a fight with Kit's bodyguards.
Kit didn't even blink and approached Karnage
"Just between us Karnie"
"Very well puny one"
He pulled his cutlass and struck. Kit paried the blow with his weapon. Both were now in a faceoff, staring eachother in the eyes. Kit saw the same expression as in Chris' eyes…pure hate. Kit pushed Karnage away. His strength had increased a lot lately, and he was now able to succesfully wield a heavy weapon like the cutlass.
"Not bad puny one…call of your bodyguards"
The panthers had won their fights. The sight of the assembled three made Karnage shiver. He was desperate. As the three approached, Karnage swung his weapon at Chris who was still standing on the edge of the beak. He dodged, lost his balance and fell.
"NO!" Kit threw away his weapon and jumped after Chris. The panthers jumped Karnage. They rolled away for the starting Seaduck and ran towards the ladder to the top strip. They're not the kind to shy away from a challenge, but the airfight was now taking place inside the hanger and the attack fleet had switched to cobra guns. Half the Vulture was on fire…
Baloo pushed full throttle and dove after the two cubs, hoping to be in time.
Kit's heart was pounding. It was bad enough he had to go through this endless fall once, now Karnage did the same to his brother. He faced the ground to speed up his own fall, trying to overtake Chris. Long moments passed before he finally was by the side of his brother. Chris looked obviously scared.
"Chris!!" Kit had to shout to be heard
Kit grabbed Chris' hand
"Listen to me! On the count of three, you grab hold of me and don't let go! Whatever happens, DON'T LET GO!"
Kit pulled out his airboard
He pressed the button and got ready to start surfing
Chris grabbed Kit as he put the airboard under his feet. Kit tried to keep his balance as Chris put his feet next to Kit's. At ten feet above the water, the twins were doing a crazy stunt: duo-surfing. They hit the water with a splash. They gasped for air and held on to the floating airboard. The water was freezing.
"We can't keep this up for lllonggg"
"I jjusstt hope the SSSeaduckkk hasss follllowed"
Minutes went by. Baloo had run in a furrball with several pirates and got hold up. He was now racing to the surface.
"Hey…bbbbrro…?" Chris shivered
"Yyyeeaahh?" Both cubs were freezing cold and almost at the end of their powers
"Yyouou…Ssaved my lllifffe…up there…ttthhanks…."
"Ttooldddd yyou I woulddd" Kit looked in Chris' blue eyes "Nno needdd for yyouou to find outtt what it'sss like to freezz. Ssitt on the booarad"
As Chris crawled up the floating airboard, Kit took off his leather flight jacket and put it over Chris' shoulders. The white fur on the top of the collar was soaked, but the leather offered some protection against the cold wind.
Long minutes went by before the Seaduck finally landed. Chris was keeping Kit afloat; he had let go of the airboard earlier and couldn't grasp it again because his fingers went numb. Baloo hoisted the duo aboard.
"Are you okay?"
The two cubs smiled weakly
"Yyyeeah…jussttt a litttlllle cccccold…"
"A little?" Baloo took a good look at the two. They were leaning on eachother not to fall over, and Kit's face had almost turned blue. "There are blankets in the back. I'll turn up the heating and don't show your faces here until we have landed"
The cubs were now seated in the warm cargo hold with blankets wrapped around them. They crawled close together, but not only for the warmth…The two brothers had lived their first adventure together and knew they were now inseperatable.
Rebeca heard the Seaduck landing. Night had fallen, and once again Baloo was late. Two hours late to be exact. She stormed out.
"OK, what excuse have you got now?" She noticed the charred port engine "Let me guess…killer bees in the engine? Or another pirate attack? A lightning bolt perhaps?"
Baloo got out and helped the two cubs to the ground. Rebecca turned to the half-frozen duo
"OK, youngmen…Staight to bed for you two…I'll bring some extra blankets up after I had a word with Mr mystery accident here"
The twins started up the stairs and Baloo braced himself for the coming lecture. Rebecca sat down and sighed
"I don't know what excuse you have now, but it better be a darn good one. How could you drag these two children into this?"
"I didn't drag them into this. Karnage did that. He mistook Chris for Kit at first, but when he found out…It's personal for that pirate Rebecca"
"This had to happen someday…How did Chris react?"
"Like Kit when we first met him. They both want revenge Becky, this is going to turn bad someday. Chris was lucky Kit was around when Karnage threw him off theVulture, but their luck will run out someday"
"That's where you're wrong Baloo. As long as they look after each other, nothing bad will come of this. They have just proven that. Fact remains they'll need a guiding light through the rest of their lives. I think I'll have to consider a bonus for you this week"
Rebecca got up, took several blankets out of a closet and started up the stairs. She turned around
"Say Baloo…I don't think Kit was onboard the Seaduck when all of this happened. How did he end up in the Vulture?"
"He must have landed on the top strip. I received word from the Belgrum airforce they recovered his plane. They don't want to release it yet…something about a special commendation for bravery on the battlefield. I don't see what that has to do with a plane though"
"You'll see…" She continued up the stairs and knocked on the bedroom door "Room Service!"
7 AM…Chris was turning uncomfortably in Baloo's bed. The events of the day before were still haunting him. That, and the coldness he felt didn't seem to pass, even with the extra blankets Rebecca had given them. He started sneezing and decided to go downstairs, not to wake Kit up. He got up and glanced at Kit's bed…empty. As he started down the stairs, he heard Rebecca on the phone
"Yeah, that unexpected bath is most likely the cause"
Chris got downstairs and saw Kit sitting in a chair with a blanket wrapped around him, shivering and a thermometer in his mouth.
"Hold on, I'll check"
Rebecca put down the phone and took the thermometer.
"I think you better come over to my place…41 degrees…" She looked up as she heard Chris coughing and sneezing
"Better make that two patients…you know the adress?….thank you doctor"
She got up and gave Chris a blanket
"Next time you plan on taking a bath in the sea, bring a towel" She smiled "This place is too drafty for a couple of ill kids, I'm taking you two to my appartment. Molly always wanted you to come over sometime…"
The cab pulled over at the front door of the appartment building. In the main hallway, Rebecca met a friendly looking walrus.
"Oh, hi doctor. Thanks for coming so soon."
The walrus turned around
"Good morning miss. Cunningham." He looked down to Chris and Kit "are these the two seaswimmers?"
He started a quick examination. Chris was sneezing and coughing uncontrollably. Kit was shiverring and his lips had turned blue. A soft squeaking sound escaped their chests as they breathed
"Better get these two inside. If this is what I think it is…"
"Yeah Beckers, go ahead…okay,okay Rebecca…yeah, I read your note, but couldn't the doc have come here?"
Baloo sat down
"Ammonia?!! Nothing life-threatening…glad to hear that…how long? Two weeks?! Close the company until you get back…no argument there…say Rebecca, thanks for looking after them. Oh yeah, the Belgrum airforce has returned the P40…I understand what they ment with 'special commendation'. I don't quite know how to say this, but…"
The P40 stood in his normal hanger. It was now painted skyblue with a lightning bolt painted on both sides of the main body. The wings were decorated with red, black and green stripes. The tail now had the flag of Belgrum painted in the upper part, a black, yellow and red tricolor. Underneath it was a thundercloud. Further more, the tail bore the proud markings C-1. Offcourse, the standard Belgrum decoration, a boxing glove, was present on the nose. But Jim and Kyle decided that it wasn't like Kit to use deadly force, so they had taken a brush and painted a red diagonal cross over it. The plane had three planes painted just below the cockpit, all were painted over with a little red cross. Underneath the killcount, the following text was written in fine black paint:
"Cloudkicker, squadleader, ACE"
The light was still on in the doctor's cabinet. A weight was pressing on his conscience as he closed the envelope. The adress field read
"Bureau of Child Welfare"…