Welcome to the second part of the nineteenth installment of - "A TIME TO EVERY PURPOSE UNTO HEAVEN " By Pepe K.
(Winner of 31 UKE Awards)Please send all comments to PepeK62@gmail.com
The following story concerns the Toonsters' freshman year of Acme Looniversity at college level. This tale of mystery and adventure is best read from the beginning - the other parts are available on Fur Affinity, among others. I suggest you read it from the start or you’ll not know what is transpiring. All characters portrayed that are not based on those owned by Warner Brothers, Amblin, MGM, Tezuka, Mitsuteru Yokoyama, Disney are created and owned by the author. Andy Fox is courtesy of his player. The WB Character "Bernice Beauvine" was named by Able DuSable.
This part of the tale is rated PG-13 for violence.
This story contains many references to music, some of which you may be familiar with. It contains and was inspired by the music of Danny Elfman's film soundtracks. In order to enhance this experience, I've made notations as to where each specific piece of music fits into the story. If it's available to you, I'd *strongly* suggest getting the CD or cassette tape, so that you'll not only read the story, but hear it happen as well. All the music is available on CD. Most is from Danny Elfman's Original Motion Picture Soundtracks: "Planet of the Apes" (#MCAD-10133), "Charlotte’s Web" (Sony/Classical #88697-02989-2) William Stromberg's original motion picture soundtrack of"TRINITY AND BEYOND" (The Atomic Bomb Movie) http://www.vce.com/trinity.html
I'd like to thank HKUriah, Thorne, Dennis Smith, Paul Zook and Danny Elfman. This story is dedicated to my Beloved Wife
In Memory of over Three Hundred Brave Men who gave their lives In Defense of their Countries at the Battle of Hampton Roads, March the Eighth, 1862.
Michael Robert Kosakowski ,my dear friend, who died January 19, 2007 and Richard King, Senior Pilot at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, 1932 - 2007 All historical data of the years 1861-1862 contained herein is based on authenticated facts. And now – Part 2 of Part 19 of
The deathly silence in the Acme Acres Junkyard was penetrated only by the clanking of Gigantor, as the giant robot continued to dig Fifi’s new cellar like a steam shovel. His huge hands kept scooping up fresh earth as he had been programmed – but his young master, Jimmy Sparks stood speechless, staring at the spot from which Doctor Lord and the Toonsters had just disappeared in a panicked, screaming mass. The young two-tone anime lad looked to his older comrade, Dick Strong, with a serious face.
Ever the man of action, the detective threw him a quick glance and then was running toward Lord’s mansion across the green lawn.
Concord the Condor stared dumbly where he’d fallen, as flies flew in and out of his open, yawning beak.
Sweetie Bird pulled herself out of the bottle of Scratchy Cola she’d crashed into and was left retaining the "Hello Nurse" hourglass shape of it. Her sleepy eyes narrowed naughtily.
"Now that the stars have left the building - it’s time for "The Sweetie Show!" she said looking at her new curves, "…The New and Improved Sweetie Show! This’ll give the censors something to think about!"
At that moment, the pink canary’s body popped back to its usual pear shape.
"- Or not", Sweetie added bitterly, then shouted, "Curse you, Comic Irony!!"
Nearby, Boris the spider bemoaned having been the cause of the calamity. "Oy, vat I did…" he mumbled miserably. "Vait!… My spider-sense is tingling!" he suddenly exclaimed.
"Ah ha!’", Sweetie chirped as she spied him, "So it shouldn’t be a total loss – LUNCHTIME!!"
"Oy Gevalt!!" Boris yelled as he scuttled away from the carnivorous canary.
Sweetie pounced and missed him as he ran around the base of the black dragon statue on Doctor Lord’s lawn. Quickly she flew to the other side and cornered him!
"Yummy! A Polish spider pirogi!" Sweetie grinned, licking her lips.
"Listen you mashugina boid! Me, you don’t vant to eat!", Boris warned her, as he was backed up against the stone wall, "Believe me – I bit my tongue once – I tasted terrible!"
"Don’t worry, I like Kosher food" commented the nasty nestling as she opened her big beak to chomp him.
"Take dis!" the spider yelled, spurting cobwebs into her mouth from his rear end. "I leaned dat von from comic books - and why not?" he told Sweetie with a smirk as she gagged and spat out spider webs.
While Sweetie hacked up web-balls, Boris crawled up the vertical side of the statue like a shot. With a SPROING, he fired a stand of webbing straight to the top of the mansion’s roof and swung himself away!
"Bye bye Boidee!" called Boris swinging out of sight across the rooftops.
"We’ll meet again, Spider-man!" Sweetie cursed after him, shaking her fist.
Dick Strong burst from the elevator doors into the Doctor’s gigantic laboratory to confront three very anxious toons.
"What happened?" he demanded.
"He started the travel sequence too soon" said Ralph Wolf flatly, pointing at Wile E. Coyote with a sign made of a million arrows.
"Untrue!" the super-genius denied as he paced back and forth in desperate thought, "I activated it when the Doctor indicated. But not all the transportees were in place!"
"So why didn’t you just turn it off?"
"We attempted to – but we only have manual controls here and – and…" the coyote stammered in shame.
"None of us has telepathic powers like Andy Fox and the Doctor" Ralph concluded fatefully as Wile hung his head.
"The Doctor must have been trying to stop it when he was attacked" the detective deduced, "The others were a distance away. What happened to them?"
"Unknown" said the sign that Egghead Jr. held up reluctantly.
"It’s possible they were taken to the same point in time, but not to the same place", Wile told them, "There is a theory that Time is fluid – with currents, eddies, backwash –"
"So the same currents that swept the main group to one place might sweep them there too?" wondered Ralph.
"Possibly", the lanky coyote continued as he paced, "… But there’s no way to know until they’ve all arrived."
"We must reverse the process!" Egghead Jr. signed adamantly.
"We can’t bring them back that way", Ralph replied, "They’re split into two groups. If we get one group – we’d lose the other in Time."
"So what can we do??" Dick implored, his black anime` eyes tensing.
"…They’ll have to arrive and locate each other", Wile sighed as he finally stopped his frantic pacing and looked worriedly at them all, "If they can just get back together, we can bring them back."
"And if they can’t?"
Wile sighed deeply again and sat dejectedly at the control console.
"Then Bugs and I will have some very sad phone calls to make."
At that moment, the main console’s screen changed to a message that riveted them all.
MARCH 8TH, 1862
PLACE…HAMPTON ROADS, VIRGINIA…
CSA… & USA…
The Toonsters screamed in silence as the blinding white time tunnel came to an abrupt end. Having resisted the tornado, few of them landed upright on the shiny black hill. Most of the group dropped painfully hard upon the metal and wooden gratings, while Gogo fell through a dark square hole. The open hatch had a wooden stairway beneath it and the unfortunate dodo hit and bounced his way down to the floor below. Bruised and dazed, he looked up to find himself surrounded by dimly-lit heavy cannons and white-washed walls.
Hamton lost his desperate grasp from Furball’s hand as they both hit the grayish-black, slippery metal. He felt himself slipping rapidly down the steep incline and clawed to keep himself from falling, but there was nothing to hold onto but a greasy wall of iron.
Screaming, he slid down the steep slope on his belly towards the dark water below!
A large empty hole yawned open next to him and he made a desperate grab for the edge of it! His weight took him past it, his pig’s feet nearly dropping into the cold water, but Hamton held on! He found himself hanging by his hands, looking into the dark mouth of a gun port while the frigid waters soaked his toes.
"HELP!" cried Hamton!
To his surprise, Gogo’s umbrella-topped face popped out of the port right in front of his nose.
"What are ya hangin’ around out there for?" punned the Dodo, and pulled Hamton inside.
"SILENCE!" commanded Doctor Lord, getting to his feet, "Search the ship!! Find Buster, Babs and Plucky! ON THE DOUBLE!"
As the Toonsters ran every which way to look, the Doctor turned to the loon at his side. He closed his eyes and concentrated as he spoke.
"Shirley! Find them! I’m calling home for help."
"Already on it, Doc" she said, her index fingers raised to her temples as she focused on locating the auras of her missing comrades.
"HURRY EVERYONE!" Lord called urgently to the rest of the group, "We only have a couple of minutes before we acquire our hosts!"
Calamity started his digital stopwatch to count down the remaining seconds.
As everyone scrambled to find their missing friends – back in the laboratory in the Tooniverse, the main screen of the console flashed with Lord’s thoughts in urgent red letters :
"HOLD TIME ENTRY ALAP! LOCATE Ba, Bu & PD! EMERGENCY! ADVISE IMMEDIATELY!"
"I knew it! Here goes!" said Wile as he threw a large braking lever.
The monstrous factory-sized machines all gave out a terrible clank and electricity sizzled ominously as the circuit was closed, then began a slow, steady beeping that rose dangerously in pitch and volume.
Egghead Jr. looked worried as the power gauges began to rise.
"We’re overloading", said Ralph nervously, "We won’t be able to hold for long."
"There’s Buster!" Shirley said pointing ahead of them at a tugboat.
["Buster, what happened to the others?"] Lord thought, as he began a telepathic conference.
The blue bunny was standing alone on the bridge of a small steamboat in the middle of a river. He saw Shirley and the Doctor waving to him from atop the lumbering black thing fifty meters behind. His head was still swimming, but he waved back and answered.
["I dunno! My hand slipped out of Babs’! She and Plucky disappeared behind me! We’ve gotta hit ‘Restart’ and get them!"]
["We cannot"], Lord told him, ["We have to all *be together* - if we go back without them – they’ll be stuck in this time stream forever."]
The metallic gauntlet on Lord’s wrist vibrated and he pulled back his sleeve to read the small computer screen there:
"TIME LIMITED - Locations listed as Hampton Roads, CSA & USA – HOLDING 200 seconds till acquisition of hosts."
The 200 became 199 as it began to count down.
"Shirley! Search north of us!" the doctor ordered.
"Scanning…" the loon replied, shifting her gaze ahead of them, up the river.
["What about me? Where am I?"] Buster thought to Lord.
["You’re on board the C.S.S. Beaufort. Whatever happens, you’ll be able to meet us later. Right now, we’ve got to find the others."]
["Sensai! …I like feel…um… I got a scent of Plucky – but he’s like a killer long way from here! Up thataway!"] Shirley thought, interrupting them.
Buster lost contact with the others as Lord shifted his focus the opposite way. As the Toonsters continued to scramble through their dark and smoky enclosure, Lord’s psyche joined Shirley’s in the search. Like sonar operators, they stood listening silently, looking for the signals of their lost friends’ minds. One by one, the others rejoined them on the top deck. They were all afraid.
"I looked everywhere!"
"There’s no sign of them! What’ll we do?"
"Can’t we go back?"
"Not without them – we’d lose ‘em!"
"What if we scroll forward till we find them?"
"We’d still lose them! What are we gonna do??"
"Like yer gonna BE QUIET!! We’re trying to find them" Shirley yelled at them, while she tried to maintain her concentration.
Reluctantly, Fifi crept up the stairs of the forward hatch to join the group. Crushed by Hamton’s jealousy and the impending danger their friends were in, she stood silently in shock, hoping not to see him. Unfortunately, the pig came cautiously up the opposite stairway behind the smokestack to join the others. Gogo helped to steady him as he walked on grease-covered feet. The terrified pig slipped constantly but was more afraid of facing his friends than of falling. He couldn’t bring himself to look at them, so he lowered his eyes to his slime-coated clothes instead.
The sudden echo of voices filled his head as Dr. Lord’s telepathy came into play.
["Plucky! Are you all right? Where are you?… Answer the second question first"] thought the Doctor.
Far, far away, the green duck wobbled for a moment as he stood balanced on his face where he had landed – then fell backward onto a hard wooden deck.
"Iz okay…I landed on my head", he said dizzily, "I think I’m on a ship– that’z upside down."
["What ship? Where?"] Lord insisted.
Dazed, Plucky looked in the direction he thought was downward with crossed eyes.
"Well, if I look down I see masts and sails and…underwear flappin’ in the breeze –"
["Underwear"?] wondered Wakko.
["Down??"], thought an exasperated Shirley, ["Like, the ship’s not upside down, Plucky! – You are!"]
["You’re on board a sailing ship, Plucky – you’ve got to find out which ship it is! Look at the flag – what kind is it?"] the Doctor continued.
The duck righted himself and stared up amongst the drying blue and white clothes hanging from above him in the ship’s rigging like so many leaves on a tree.
"It’s the American flag", he told them, "What’s the rush anyway?"
There was a collective gasp of shock as everyone looked at each other and then back at the banner that flew at the stern of their own ship. It too, was red, white and blue – but with only three stripes and a circle of stars – it was the flag of the Confederacy! Buster also found the same flag on his ship.
["He’s on the wrong side!"] the blue bunny realized.
"Whatdya mean wrong side?!" barked Plucky, suddenly awakened.
["LISTEN! We’re running out of time! We’ve got to find out which ship you’re on and find Babs! Fast!!"], Lord interrupted, ["Look for the ship’s bell! It should be just aft of the wheel! Hurry!"]
"Wheel? This is a boat – not a car!" the duck retorted.
["The ship’s steering wheel, ya dope!"] Fowlmouth yelled.
As Plucky got up, he stepped into a canvas bucket and got it stuck on his foot. He clomped over to the large, wooden double wheel near the after-mast.
"Aww Felgercarb!", he swore, kicking the bucket off, "Just what am looking for anyway?"
["The name of the ship! It should be on the ship’s bell or on the wheel – Find it! Quickly!"] Lord told him.
["Plucky, have you seen Babs??"] asked Buster.
The duck ducked under and around the wheel, talking as he went.
"I lost my grip on her just before I hit the deck – literally. I dunno where she is. Wait – here’s something on the wheel", he said craning his neck sideways,"…U.S.S. Cumberland…"
["…Oh no! That’s the ship we’re gonna ram! Doc, We’ve totally got to get him back!"], Shirley begged in panic, ["We’ve gotta save him!"]
The Loon turned and began desperately chanting her mantra in an attempt to fly away to pick up Plucky, but the Doctor called her to a halt.
["You’ll never make it, Shirley! We’re out of time!"], he told her, ["I can’t let you be lost too. We’ve got to find Babs."]
"I’ve got to save Plucky!!" she cried back at him.
["Not that way! Plucky – Babs must be near you. Do you see her?"] Lord insisted.
If the toon duck had been capable of it, his color would have drained away, leaving him white and wide-eyed with terror.
"Wrong s-s-side? R-r-r-ram?! C-c-c-CUMBERLAND?!!", he shrieked in panic, running to the side of the ship to jump overboard.
["PLUCKY - DON’T JUMP!"] yelled Shirley.
Confused and frightened, everyone began shouting at once; Buster begging Plucky to find Babs, Shirley and Hamton crying desperately for the duck not to throw himself off the Cumberland and Lord and the others trying to calm them all.
In the midst of this tumult, Plucky suddenly froze as he witnessed something the others could not. Another sailing warship was several hundred yards astern – and there was movement on top of her aft deck –
"Frigate!" exclaimed the duck in surprise, causing the others to pause in the midst of their commotion.
["Dis is no time to be svearing"] Arnold remarked shortly.
["No! – I see a frigate!"] Plucky exclaimed with growing excitement, ["And I think I see Babs on it!"]
Everyone began shouting all at once again, as Plucky hollered across the wide expanse of water to the slumped pink figure on the other frigate.
Babs moaned as she got to her big wobbly feet and staggered to the nearby ship’s rail. Her senses were still spinning from having been knocked unconscious. The sudden onset of everyone’s thoughts flooding into her mind didn’t help any.
["Babs are you all right?! What happened?"] she heard Buster say.
["Not tonight Buster, I have a headache.."] she mumbled absently, ["Will you all shut up?!…I hate to be so cliché-ish but - Where am I"?]
["If you’re onboard the frigate next to the Cumberland – then I’m afraid yer on the U.S.S. Congress"] Mary reluctantly told her.
["Great. I would hafta end up on the ineffective side of government."] Babs remarked sourly. ["So get me outta here, guys!"
["We can’t – you’re too far away"], Lord told her, ["We’re onboard the Virginia."]
Babs and Plucky panicked and began to run blindly in circles as everyone began shouting and arguing again. They were silenced as Calamity spoke.
["We’re down to ten seconds! …nine…eight…"]
Everyone looked desperately to Lord for an answer to this dreadful calamity.
He blinked his silver eyes in thought and said: ["The three of you! Run quickly to the Captain’s cabin! It should be the top main cabin in the stern of the ship!"]
Franticly, they obeyed. Babs leaped down the nearest stairway to the main deck and clambered into the rear door she found. Plucky ran as fast as his webbed feet could carry him towards a similar door and raced through the wooden corridor to a large wardroom. Buster could only find the wheelhouse onboard his tugboat and began to go to pieces!
["There’s nothing but the wheelhouse!"] he cried.
["Stay there!!’], ordered the Doctor, ["Babs! Plucky! – go to the head of the captain’s table – and stand on the right side!!"]
Babs kicked over a chair to get to the right spot! Plucky jumped to attention where he had to be! But how could this possibly save them?
["Now what?!?"] they implored.
Lord blinked his mirror-like eyes slowly and said ["…Don’t move…"]
The wide-eyed Toonsters sweated, frozen in fear. Hamton gulped down his guilt.
A tear ran down Shirley’s trembling cheek.
Somewhere over the Canadian border, Commander Winters closed in on his target. He had descended in his SR-71C Blackbird from the outer reaches of the atmosphere to 35,000 feet, where the sky became a brilliant blue, following his objective on radar. Slowing to subsonic speed, the streamlined black arrowhead zeroed in on the lumbering Stratotanker that flew ahead of him, trailing it’s refueling boom. The Blackbird followed along behind the big jet liner in a close formation.
"Ex-Cever KC135Q-4707, this is Blackbird" the snowy owl called over the radio with his Royal Air Force accent, "I’m on your Six and prepared for transfer, Over?"
"Blackbird, this is 4707. Nice to see you again, Commander!" a vivacious female voice replied. "Come on in and we’ll fill’er up, Over!"
"Preparing for docking" Winters told her as he activated his fuel port, "Trixie, it’s been far too long since you’ve danced at my club. I’ve got patrons asking after you all the time, Over?"
"Ha! You’ve got plenty of other pretty girls to wear those skimpy costumes, Johnny!" laughed the pert anime` brunette from the tanker’s cockpit, "Besides, Speed might not like it, Over."
"Hmm, that’s true…You wouldn’t want to make him jealous, now would you? Over?" Johnny said with a sly smile.
Trixie giggled deliciously and said: "Maybe I will, then! A girl can always change her mind, can’t she? The next time they hold the Acme Acres 500, we’ll have to drop by, Over."
The owl grinned: "You’ll be a welcome sight indeed! Now I need a tank full of petrol. As quick as ever you can please? Over."
Trixie skillfully maneuvered the tanker’s refueling boom to within inches of the Blackbird’s fuel port and held her aircraft steady. The space-suited Winters lined up and docked into it in a perfect capture. The two aircraft flew as one, like a mating pair of damselflies.
"One bird-full on JP-7 coming up! What’s your hurry? Over?" Trixie asked.
"Thanks abso-bally-lutely!. Must get to Point K as soon as possible. The Doctor said it was urgent. Over", the Commander told her as they flew northward.
Back in 1862, something the world had never seen before - something bizarre and terrible – was about to happen.
The Toonsters once again found themselves as human beings, many of whom were totally unaware of the holocaust to come. Instead, they were witness to a calm, mild Saturday morning in early spring. With hardly any wind to ruffle the glassy surface of Hampton Roads, it promised to be a beautiful day.
(Planet of the Apes, #1 "Main Titles")
Under the clear blue skies, a family of slaves from Richmond were walking by the banks of the Elizabeth River in the town of Portsmouth. They didn’t bother to glance at the two tugboats passing by. The family matriarch suddenly saw a cloud of smoke drifting down the river. She could see and hear nothing else – all sound swiftly dropped into eerie silence. The group froze in their tracks.
The woman saw people running and staring up the river. Something was coming…
The smoke grew thicker and darker around them. Soon it was black. Grey cinders and ash began to rain on them like snowflakes, as the acrid smell of fire reached their noses.
"Wha’s gwine on?" she whispered.
A tall man gaped up-river with wide eyes. "It’s a-comin!" he gasped.
Suddenly they all saw it. A force-field of fear made them all back away.The woman felt the hairs on her neck stand on end! Her trembling arms were overcome with goose bumps! A scream caught in her throat!
"THE DEVIL!! - THE DEVIL’S COME!!!" she shrieked in horror as she ran away behind the others who had already taken to their heels in terror!"THE DEBBIL!! DE DEBBIL SHIP!!!"
Slicing through the river came the massive dark monster, it’s slanted grayish-black armored casemate glistening in the sun with slime! It’s ship killing cast-iron ram jutted forward just inches below the waves, plowing aside the waters like the grisly snout of a half-submerged crocodile. The giant had three sinister holes across it’s slanted triangular bow, like the empty black eyes of a shark. From the center port protruded the seven-inch wide mouth of a heavy rifled cannon. The thirty-two hundred ton monster was nearly the length of a football field and as wide as a four-lane highway. Pitch-black smoke belched from the top of its smokestack, forty feet in the air, creating a sinister dark cloud that followed it, hovering over the ship wherever she went like an evil omen. The only attribute of the ugly, ungainly craft that said that she was anything other than a nightmarish monster was the proud ensign of the Confederacy, snapping smartly in the wind atop the end of her casemate. The red, white and blue "Stars and Bars" flag told all those who saw her that this was the South’s secret weapon - the C.S.S. Virginia.
As news of the ship’s departure sped through the city of Norfolk, stores were hastily closed. Tools were dropped. Crowds ran to the riverbank to cheer!
Mary Melody found herself looking down at the ship’s thudding propeller as it churned up the muddy brown river. She was gazing through the eyes of a seasoned naval officer, Lieutenant John Taylor Wood. The grandson of President Zachary Taylor, Lt. Wood regarded his ship’s condition with a mixture of confusion and concern, wondering how such an un-tried weapon could fare in battle.
"Until today", he thought," not a gun had been fired, hardly a revolution of her engines had been made." ["Doctor? I’m Lieutenant Wood, the captain of the stern pivot gun"] Mary thought.
["Good, you’ll be safe"], Lord told her, ["I am Lieutenant Catesby Jones, the second in command. All hands, report in."]
["I’m Chief Engineer G. Ashton Ramsay again"] thought Calamity, pleased to find himself in charge of the giant steam engines once again. ["I’ve been summoned by the Captain."]
["Buster? What is your situation?"] asked Lord.
The rabbit’s thoughts were laced with surprise, [" I – am the captain of the CSS Beaufort. Lieutenant William Harwar Parker."]
["Har-war?"] Fowlmouth giggled, then shut himself up.
Lord paused a moment, then gave a troubled mental sigh. ["Well, that’s one hash mark."]
["What do you mean?"] asked Buster.
["He means that you’re in trouble, Buster"], Mary worried, ["… Lieutenant Parker gets wounded."]
There were wild exclamations from Babs and the others as Buster felt his stomach drop. Lord spoke again quickly.
["It’s just a slight nick on the knee, but the rest of the shrapnel passes right through your clothes. It won’t even slow you down."]
["Oh great!"], thought Buster, ["Babsy? Carry me back to Wounded Knee."]
["Oh Buster… no!"] his fiancée cried.
["Do not panic"] Lord’s thoughts told them steadily, ["Yours is one situation. We need to know everyone’s. Babs? Who is your host?"]
["Uh… I’m Lieutenant Austin Pendergrast,"] she answered, taken aback somewhat by the Doctor’s new commanding tone.
["Good, you’re the ship’s X.O. You’ll be safe. Plucky – who are you?"] Lord asked, his manner becoming martial.
["Well I’m glad somebody’s askin’ about me –"] the duck began.
["Answer the question – we need all the time we’ve got to figure a way out of this. Who’s your host?"] the Doctor ordered quickly.
["Lieutenant George Morris"] the duck stammered hastily.
["Also good. You’re safe"], Lord told him, ["And congratulations. You’ve just become one of the bravest, most gallant fighters of the day, Captain."]
["So that’s why you put them where the second in command would be standing"], Mary thought, ["You knew the ship’s exec’s would all survive."]
["Me?? I get to be a hero?"], the surprised Pluckster interrupted jubilantly – before his voice dropped warily, ["…Why does that scare me?"]
["A wise attitude to have"], Lord continued, ["Because one can only become a hero by fighting against an overwhelming force. Now, what about the rest of you? Is anyone stationed at the bow gun?"]
["Uh…yah. I am Lieutenant Simms, der Kapitan ov der bow rifle…is dat bad?"] asked a scared Arnold.
["No, you’ll be okay, Arnold. It’s only two of your men who get it"] Furball said reassuringly.
["Oh joy, oh bliss! *I’’d* hafta be in the Number One gun crew!"], complained Gogo, ["I’m Richard Curtis, Ordinary Seaman."]
["You’ll be okay then, Gogo. None of you is Dunbar, Waldeck, Marmaduke or Lieutenant Minor, are you?"] Lord asked them.
["Dunbar is next to me! He’s my – I mean – he’s Curtis’s friend!"] the Dodo replied anxiously, ["Why? What’s wrong with him?"]
There was an uncomfortable silence which Mary tried to break.["Gogo… Dunbar is… oh…"]
["Dunbar is the first to be killed, Gogo. I’m sorry"], Lord told him, ["Try not to let it bother you."]
["But he’s my –"]
["Listen to me – all of you! This isn’t your fight"] the Doctor said stopping him, ["*Don’t* get emotionally involved. War means that men die. If you bleed for them – you’ll be just as doomed. Don’t concern yourself… We cannot change anything anyway. We have a mission to accomplish here… and now, we’ll also have to rescue Plucky and Babs."]
It crossed the minds of some of the group to talk back to Lord and his strict attitude, but they realized that he was right.
["Javol, her` Baron"] Arnold thought gravely.
["…I understand how you all feel, but we must get on with this"] the Doctor said seriously, ["We need to know if everyone is safe. Continue the muster."]
Everyone was quiet as they began to feel the cold. Gogo swallowed the lump in his throat.
["I’m Lieutenant Hunter Davidson"] Furball thought.
["I’m Midshipman Littlepage"] thought Fowlmouth.
["I’m Lieutenant Eggelston, in command of Gun Four and Gun Five"] announced Wakko as the nearby smoke stack belched forth another eruption of black smoke.
Hamton was reluctant to bring attention to himself, but spoke up finally.["I’m, uh, William Parrish…one of the pilots"] he mumbled nervously.
["Directing our course, eh?"] Lord thought suddenly enough to make the pig jump before continuing, ["And you, Fifi?"]
["Ah’m…ah’m ze ship’s surgeon, Doctor Phillips. Aren’t zere ever any women aboard zees sheeps we could be eenstead?"] the skunkette grumbled as they all felt a chill running through their bodies.
Hamton gulped. Lord must have realized that he had caused the accident! He bit his tongue and tried hard not to think aloud. The cold seemed to increase.
["Just FYI, I’m coming up on deck to report to the Captain"] Calamity announced.
["Sailors have always been a superstitious lot. They think it’s bad luck to have a woman onboard"] the Doctor told them.
["How very typical"] Babs remarked cynically.
["Quelle sexist"] Fifi agreed bitterly.
["Uh, hey…I know it’s March here – but why’s it getting so cold?"] shivered Fowlmouth uncomfortably.
Calamity’s host, the chief engineer, climbed up on deck from the forward hatchway. He stepped carefully around the short chimney of the galley stove and raised a hand to his cap, saluting the old gentleman who was pacing the deck with determination.
The captain, Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan, was an intense and volatile commander. Sixty-two years had not dimmed his clear, piercing blue eyes nor softened his harsh features. Aloft above him flew his own personal flag; a simple Navy blue flag which told all that this was his flagship as Commodore of the Confederate Fleet.
Continuing to pace with long furious strides, his hands clasped behind him, Buchanan fired questions and instructions at the engineer, who though much younger had trouble keeping pace with his captain.
"Ramsey", he asked, "What would happen to your engines and boilers if there should be a collision?"
"They are braced tight, sir. Though the boilers stand fourteen feet high, they are so securely fastened that no collision could budge them" Calamity’s host answered.
"I am going to ram the Cumberland", the Captain told him outright, "I’m told she has the new rifled guns, the only ones in the whole fleet we have to fear. The moment we are out in the Roads I’m going to make right for her and ram her."
Plucky and Calamity gulped at the seriousness of the captain’s convictions.
["He’s as tough as he talks! This man deserves his reputation"] thought the coyote.
"Now how about your engines?" the captain continued, never breaking his stride, "I understand they were in poor shape on the old ship. Can we rely on them? Should they be tested by a trial trip?"
"She will have to travel ten miles downriver to the Roads" said Ramsey. "Should any trouble develop, I’ll report it. I think that will be a sufficient trial, sir."
"Very well" the captain acknowledged as he marched to the bow where most of the toons had gathered.
["This Captain Buchanan is fourteen point three times more fierce than Yosemite Sam"], Calamity concluded, ["It’s no wonder he stays on deck under fire and gets shot."]
["This is serious"] thought Wakko.
["An’ it is getting seriously cold!"], complained Fowlmouth, ["Don’t ya feel it?"]
["Ahh Shaddap! Ya don’t hear anybody else complainin’, do ya?"] Plucky snapped.
["No, he’s right!"], Buster intervened nervously, ["It is getting colder."]
The arctic chill was now reflected in the murmur of someone shivering. The cold was becoming palpable now, racing down everyone’s spines like ice water.
["Wait … that isn’t the cold…"], Lord realized ominously, ["…It’s the sensation of fear…ice-cold horror…"]
Then a quavering tiny voice whispered in terror ["…..Doc?….it’s like -me!"]
["Shirley! What is it?!"] the Doctor cried as he and everyone else realized that the poor loon hadn’t spoken since they’d all taken their human hosts!
["…I’m …I’m like … like the one who’s gonna get shot!"], Shirley sobbed, ["Like – I’m … inside Captain Buchanan!!"]
Look for the next Chapters of -"A TIME TO EVERY PURPOSE UNTO HEAVEN" coming to you soon!