BONKERS! 1999: The Final Season SEVEN DAYS IN THE VALLEY "DAY 7: IT'S A WONDERFUL TOON" Characters (C) WALT DISNEY STUDIOS (save of course Chief Eric Skewer, Special Agent Sender, and those that belong to others like WB et al.) Original Story by SUSHIL RUDRANATH FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY, NOT ENDORSED BY DISNEY, DON'T SUE ME, I'M A NICE GUY. (And I stay true to the characters!) DISTRIBUTE FREELY SO LONG AS NO CHANGES ARE MADE AND THIS NOTICE REMAINS INTACT NOTE: This story is set in the sixth(?) season of Bonkers! It marks the end of the arc that will end, at least for me, Bonkers!. I'd like to take this chance to say what a fun ride it's been, and to express my gratitude to everyone who's ever read my stories. Sorry for the long wait, but it's finally here... PROLOUGE Bonkers ran as fast as his legs could carry him, barely outracing the firey explosions that followed him. As he cleared Alcatraz, the bobcat turned, watching as the most famous prison in history went up in a small mushroom cloud, taking the world's most infamous toon criminal with it. Turning away from the sight, Bonkers looked across San Francisco bay towards the skyline. He wondered how Chief Skewer and Professor Von Drake were coming in their search for the atomic bomb. Chuckles' last words echoed in his head, but Bonkers was confident that if anyone could find the bomb, it would be Skewer and Von Drake. * * * At the same moment as Bonkers looked across the bay, Professor Von Drake and Chief Skewer burst into Mayor Kanifky's house. Both men were out of breath, and exhausted. It had taken them an eternity to get back to Hollywood from Alcatraz. Skewer didn't want to think about the delay that would have been involved had he not instinctively known where the bomb would be. As he had suspected, the bomb was sitting peacefully on a small table in the middle of the livingroom, fitting in nicely with Kanifky's antiquated decor. Luckily, it was still ticking, Skewer noted as he ran towards it. Professor Von Drake produced an arsenal of toon bomb-diffusing tools, and got ready to swallow the device if neccessary. Time was of the essence. It would take him at least five minutes to shut the bomb off, and the thought of swallowing it was not a pleasant one, though it would probably taste a lot like Goofy's Mexican chile. "Qvick!", he yelled. "How much toime does it say we've got on da timer thingy? How many minutes left? I'll need at least five... so, vhat's da number on da timer!?" Even as he ran towards the bomb, Skewer began to get a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. Every second was like an eternity to him as his feet pounded the carpet. He felt every sensation around him as he leapt over a small table and landed in front of the bomb, eyes telling him what his mind had already divined. "Zero", he said with a note of resigned finality. In his last nanosecond, Skewer wondered what it would feel like to be hit in the face with a nuclear explosion. Then he found out. * * * Bonkers first felt it as a slow rumbling, the sort felt at the beginning of a bad thunderstorm. The rumbling grew louder, exploding into a deafening roar as a massive mushroom cloud swelled up behind the San Francisco skyline. Skyscrapers trembled, glass shattering on their sides, falling onto the streets like a rain of glittering destruction. All the lights in the city flickered and failed, the result of the electromagnetic pulse from the blast. A wave raced across the bay, a visible indication of the blast's shockwave. As it hit Alcatraz island, Bonkers felt a stiff breeze which set his fur standing. It took Bonkers a second to soak in the reality of what had just happened. In one stroke, Skewer had failed, Los Angeles had been destroyed, and Negaduck had scored his last, ultimate victory. It was too much to handle; too hideous to be true. Bonkers sat for a moment, dumbfounded. When he found the strength to speak, all he could mutter was "It can't be... It can't be! This can't be happening... This *can't* be happening!" Even as he said the words, Bonkers noticed something strange happening. His fur relaxed; The water wave raced backwards, from Alcatraz to San Francisco. In San Francisco, the lights came back on, and pieces of glass leapt up from the streets, flying back onto the buildings from which they came. The giant mushroom cloud sank back under the skyline. Bonkers blinked as the sun set, revealing a rosy glow coming from the Los Angeles area. He rubbed his eyes as the sun then proceeded to un-set, rising backwards, and then set again, revealing a normal skyline. "I think I musta inhaled too many o' those Dip fumes," Bonkers said to himself, rubbing his eyes again. "Geez!" Bonkers headed for the docks, where a small motorboat sat, moored at the end of a pier. Unfastening the rope that held the boat in place, he hopped into the craft and turned on the motor. Taking a final look back at the flaming remains of Alcatraz island, he made for the shores of San Francisco. * * * December 30th, 1999, 8:42 PM Bonkers slowly climbed out of the motorboat, clambering up onto a dock where two fisherman sat, idly casting their poles into the water. He noticed that the air smelt stale somehow; unclean. The fisherman looked dark, dirty and depressed. Bonkers' toony brightness stuck out in stark contrast to their fleshy, dingy human forms. One of the fisherman glanced upwards, his eyes widening as he saw the toon. Jabbing his partner in the ribs, the old man whispered rapidly, "My gosh! Wally, lookit! Some kinda mutant FREAK!" Bonkers raised an eyebrow at this, and raised his hand as a prelude to correcting the poor misguided fellow, when his friend Wally replied, "Look, Jonesy! It got only four fingers! Dat ain't no mutant- dat's an ALIEN!" The two humans jumped up, yelled "Alien freak!" and tore across the pier as quickly as they could. Bonkers shook his head and walked towards the beach, where a small child with messy hair, huge puppy-dog eyes and a giant lollipop sidled up to him. The child giggled as soon as he saw Bonkers. "Now that's more like it," Bonkers said to himself. Looking down very slightly (he was almost at eye level with the boy) Bonkers rubbed his hand in the child's hair playfully and asked "Hi there, short fry. What's your name?" The child rocked back and forth on the balls of his heels for a moment, pulling the giant lollipop out of his mouth and saying in an utterly adorable voice, "Um not supposedta tak tu strangas." Bonkers grinned. "That's okay, kid! I'm a policeman! You can talk ta me!" The kid shook his head. "Where's yer badge?" Bonkers looked down at the hole in his shirt, all that was left of the badge Chuckles had shot off him. He frowned. "Well, I'm undercover," Bonkers answered conspiratorially. The kid nodded. "My name's Chester--" Bonkers could hear nothing more, as the impact of a rather heavy purse on his head demanded all of his attention. The child's mother had come out of nowhere, repeatedly bludgeoning the toon with her leaden accessory. "You stay away from my child, you odd-looking cat-like mutant alien FREAK with ears like-- like golf clubs! I'm calling the POLICE!" she shrieked. Bonkers did his best to cover his head, responding as best he could, "Lady, I *AM* the POLICE!" The woman straightened up, terrified at the sound of his voice. She screamed and ran off, dragging her kid behind her. Bonkers watched as they vanished into the distance, little Chester waving at him happily. Bonkers waved back at the child, and shook his head again. "I guess she's allergic to cats," he muttered, walking over to a curb, where a taxicab sat, idling. The driver in the car, who was busy intently studying a comic book, reacted to the shadow Bonkers cast on his book. Without looking up, he muttered a gruff "Where to, mac?", to which Bonkers replied happily, "I got a good, long fare for ya. All the way to *Los Angeles*." The cabbie looked up, grateful for the huge break. He found himself staring into Bonkers' two huge oval eyes. He choked for a moment, barely managing to stammer out "H-H-here, mac! You can take it all the way ta *Mars* if yous wants!" Scrambling out of the car, the cabbie ran into the street. Bonkers got into the driver's seat and began heading for the freeway. His journey was a slow one, as everywhere he went, people threw rocks, bottles and bricks at the cab. Guess they're upset about the millennium, Bonkers thought to himself. He comforted himself with the thought that soon he'd be back in LA with Miranda, Fawn, Captain Grating, Chief Skewer and the rest of his friends in time to ring in the new year, century and millennium all at once. * * * Chief Leonard Kanifky slowly walked into the briefing room at Police Headquarters. All that he saw was the cracked, damaged, crumbling walls painted a dull battleship gray. The oppressive sound of a rattling air conditioner filled the otherwise silent room. Ponderously making his way to the worn wooden podium in front of the seating area, Kanifky winced. His ulcer was acting up again. There wasn't enough Mylanta on the planet to give him relief this morning. He looked at the rows of police officers wearing tattered, filthy uniforms, their once blue tops almost as dark as the navy pant bottoms. Most every officer's shiny gold badge was tarnished in some way or another. Exhaling for a moment, he focused his attention on the two officers in the very front of the room, the ones he had really come out this morning to talk to. Standing behind the podium, he cleared his throat. They barely noticed. Starting with a low rumble, like an oncoming storm, Kanifky started to speak. "All right, you *incompetent* wastes of taxpayer dollars! I've got reports of a strange, *alien* FREAK wreaking havoc in San Francisco--" The two bunglers in the front row began to snicker. Kanifky's brow furrowed. His blood pressure rose, and unfortunately for her, his assistant chose that moment to interrrupt his speech with a trifling irrelevancy. Handing him a paper, she timidly said "Sir, uhm, isn't that a little outside our jurisdiction?" Kanifky's head whipped sideways, his gaze boring into her eyes. The offending officer shrank backwards, unsure of her footing under the pressure of his leaden gaze. Roaring, Kanifky yelled "JUNIOR officer Wright, kindly speak ONLY when SPOKEN to! Don't you have FILES to organize, or something?" Miranda scrambled backwards a bit, as some of the other officers guffawed. "Yes, SIR," she mumbled acidly, stalking off. Kanifky slowly returned his gaze to the two officers in front of him. "Now, as I was saying, this *FREAK*--" He held up a fuzzy picture of a strange creature being assaulted by a woman with a purse. "This FREAK is making his way towards our fair city, and he's impersonating a policeman, of all things. He seems to have some kind of sick power over children, and I want him taken OFF the streets as soon as he enters the city limits. Maybe for once, you spineless doughnut hunters will get the job done *right*-- Heaven knows you're even getting ADVANCE warning this time..." Kanifky paused, and bellowed "ARE YOU MEN LISTENING?!" In the seats before him, Kanifky watched angrily as Sergeant Lucky Piquel burped, scratched his belly and slammed his elbow into the side of his partner, Sergeant Frank Grating, who bolted upright, mumbling "sir, yes sir." Both men sloppily saluted, and began to fall back asleep. An artery almost popped in Kanifky's head. It throbbed with incredible force as he screamed "I WANT THAT *THING* IN JAIL FIRST THING TOMORROW MORNING!!! YOU HEAR ME?!!! TOMORROW MORNING!!!" PART THE FIRST December 31st, 1999, 5:42 AM - Hollywood, LA. Bonkers slowly made his way into town, wearing a trenchcoat, oversized slacks, a cheap fedora, a Groucho Marx nose / mustache and Chief Skewer's mirrored shades in order to hide his appearance. Surrounding him was the burnt-out skeleton of a car, which he dragged with him. As he moved, gang members continued to dismantle the remnants of the car. Finally, Bonkers stood alone, holding nothing but the taxi's steering wheel, which a vicious old lady snatched from his hands before braining him with it and staggering off. Bonkers sighed. Crime was ridiculous in this city. It was as if the criminal element had taken control overnight. He slowly walked down main street, heading for the 34th precinct. Hopefully Chief Skewer would know what was going on. He always did. With a groaning screech, a taxicab pulled up alongside Bonkers, its passenger side window rolling down. Bonkers shook his head. "No thanks, I don't want a ride," he said. A gun emerged from the window, pointed straight at his head. The man holding the gun chuckled. "That's okay-- I wasn't offering one. Gimme all yer cash. NOW!" Bonkers looked at the gun dimly for a moment and removed the sunglasses, Groucho Marx nose and fedora from his head. He stared right at the robber, who gulped nervously, and yelled "Oh, what the HECK?! OH, MAN! NO!!! Sorry, man! Keep the Cash! Take MY cash! Just don't HURT ME!" The robber tossed several thousand dollars Bonkers' way and sped off in terror. Bonkers covered his face back up and kept moving. He wondered if he'd developed a bad case of toon acne. That would be enough to give anyone the screaming willies. * * * The door to Sergeants Piquel and Gratings' office swung open, creaking on its rusty hinges. Lucky moved in slowly, pulling a small chain suspended from the ceiling which turned on the very dim bulb which provided light to the small room otherwise known as the basement. Lucky went over to the one rotting desk in the rear of the room, the light flickering as he sat down. Sergeant Grating entered, bleary eyed and acerbic as ever. "Darnit, Pickle! You had to tell him we'd come in *early* to work on catching this *reject* from the X-Files!" Lucky winced at the wholesale butchery of his last name. "Can it, *Francis*! It was either that or pull motor pool duty for *two* months! If you hadn't been *sleepin'* again--" "Me? What about YOU?" Grating poured himself a glass of ice-cold, stale water from the water cooler and sat down at the desk. Pouring the slimy liquid down his throat, he felt himself wake up slightly. Lucky sighed. "Forget it-- look, we've got a big problem here. We need ta make a legit bust, and soon, or we're history-- toast!" Grating almost laughed. "Kanifky can't fire us... we may be incompetent bunglers who haven't scored a major arrest in *eight* years, but compared to the rookies on the force, we're the *best* he's got!" Lucky growled. "Speak fer yerself! I'm not incompetent! I'm just, not real lucky, is all..." His voice trailed off. "Yeah, well, *nobody's* had any luck around here ever since the last election." Grating gulped down another cup of semi-liquid water. "I'm beginning to believe all the rotten things the press are saying about us." "How can you drink that sludge?" Lucky asked as the door to the office opened, and Miranda Wright came in, carrying a box of doughnuts. "Thought you guys might like an early-morning--" She stopped as Lucky and Grating rushed forwards, yanked the box of doughnuts from her hands, savagely tore it open and devoured the contents, slamming down into their chairs and belching. "--pick-me-up." Miranda turned the box over, watching small crumbs fall from it. She stared at the two men, who were picking at their teeth with tooth picks. Neither paid her any attention. "Yer welcome," she said despondently, and turned to leave. "Wait," Lucky managed to belch out. He cleared his throat. "Thanks, Miranda. So tell us, what's Slavedriver got you doin' up this early?" Miranda frowned. "The Chief wants me to report to his office, ASAP. I think he wants me to *dust it* or somethin'." Miranda looked down at her rusty badge sadly. "Makes me wonder why I even bothered with the police academy," she muttered. Grating waved his hand dismissively. "Don't worry about it-- all Junior officers have it rough." Miranda scowled, and answered roughly even through she knew Grating was trying to be helpful. Acidly, she hissed "I've been a *junior* officer for SIX YEARS!" She then stalked off. Grating and Piquel looked at each other and shrugged. * * * Miranda slowly got out of the stairwell, huffing for breath after walking up fifty flights of stairs. It appeared the mayor was too cheap to bother fixing the elevators in Police Headquarters. She'd decided to move City Hall out of there and into her own skyscraper instead. Real practical. Walking into Chief Kanifky's office, Miranda paused for a moment, taking in the bare walls and the huge glass windows overlooking the smog-filled night. Chief Kanifky was standing with his back to her, looking at the sight. "Good of you to come this early, Officer," Kanifky said quietly. "I really had no choice sir," Miranda replied matter-of-factly. "You said I'd be fired if I didn't." If Kanifky noted the challenge in her voice, he made no show of it, responding with a quiet "do you know *why* I'm so strict, exacting, and demanding, officer?" "Because you're a jerk?" Miranda muttered to herself. "Eight years ago, I was a different man," Kanifky began. "A man who could actually smile, make jokes-- even play golf. Now, I'm the lone bastion of justice, keeper of the law in a lawless city. I need results, Officer, and for eight years all I've gotten is excuses. Excuses, and a city that *teems* with violence." Miranda's expression softened, and she softly volunteered "Sir, I'm sure that with time--" Kanifky seemed to twitch slightly. When he spoke again, it was faster, with the tone of barely controlled hysteria. "Oh, I tried treating you all like human beings, oh yes. Said "hello", and "goodbye", and "how are you" and "how's the family", but at the end of the day, NONE of that caught ANY criminals!" Kanifky spun around, a dark look in his eyes. His gaze seemed to pass right through Miranda. He was now speaking calmly, almost too calmly. "You're the freshest face on the force, you know that? I hired you six years ago because I thought you could bring in new ideas, new solutions. I can see, however, that I was wrong--" Miranda was taken aback. Her anger got the better of her for an instant. "Sir! You've had me doing SECRETARIAL work for SIX years!" she retorted. "I--" Kanifky raised his hand in a cautionary gesture, and she fell silent. "--you've got one last chance. Those two sloths Piquel and Grating will never catch this freak. I want *you* to bring him to me before lunchtime, officer-- or I'll have your badge." Kanifky stood up and harrumphed. "Results, officer! That's what I want to see! Results!" He waved his hand dismissively, and Miranda stormed out. The chief watched her leave and scowled. She was just like the rest of them. Weak. Indolent. Incompetent. It was no small wonder Hollywood was a cesspit of crime and corruption. Had he been twenty years younger, he might have taken matters into his own hands. He sighed, feeling a pain in his heart. He felt twenty years older than he was. The weight of the world was just too much for him to take these days. Everything was so dark, dismal and depressing. He glanced at an old, disused fishing rod and reel he kept in a corner of the office. He hadn't used that since he was a Captain on the force. That had been ages ago, when he had still felt young inside, happy. But those days were long gone. Kanifky straightened up. He had to be hard. He was the thin blue line, the divider between order and chaos, and he was going to hold that line as long as he could. The feelings of his officers were irrelevant. He slouched a little as his ulcer kicked in, then sat down and sighed. It was all he seemed to do these days. * * * Bonkers couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he knew that something wasn't quite right with the 34th precinct. He wasn't sure if it was the ratty brick exterior, people throwing garbage out of the fourth story windows, or slovenly tenants sunning themselves on the front stoop, but the building just didn't seem the same. It was very un-police like. There was no doubt this was the right spot-- DuPrave towers was right across the street-- but this moldy old apartment building was in no way a police station. The bobcat was about to leave when he noticed a familiar face walking by, and into the building. It was Dennis! "Dennis!" Bonkers yelled out happily. Dennis looked at him strangely and ran into the building. "Huh?" Bonkers frowned. Why would Dennis run away from him? Oh well. Bonkers blasted forwards as fast as his toon legs could take him, zipping up the stairs, up a few more flights of stairs, and finally coming out in a hallway with lots of doors on either side. Dennis was nipping into a particularly dank corner of that hallway. Bonkers ran up to the door Dennis had gone through. It was scrawled on in all kinds of graffiti, and the sound of thumping bass music could be heard inside. He knocked, but got no reply. Shaping and using his tail as a lockpick, Bonkers burst into the room just in time to see Dennis, as well as Stark, dumping tons of printouts into a garbage can. There were computers and gadgets strewn all over the apartment. Stark was the first to see Bonkers. He started and shoved Dennis. "Dat the guy?" Stark asked nervously. "Uh-huh", Dennis nodded. "Hiya, Stark!" Bonkers said cheerfully. "Geez, he *does* know our names!" Stark gulped. "You think he works for the man?" "What man?" Bonkers asked. "Back OFF, man!" Dennis yelled, holding up a stick. "This is a cattle prod, man, and I ain't got no problem usin' it on you!" Bonkers shook his head. "Guys, what's goin' on?" "How do you know our names?" Stark demanded. "Who the heck are you, man?" Bonkers raised an eyebrow, and then realized that his friends couldn't recognize him in his disguise. He quickly shed it. "Oh, mama..." Dennis said, his jaw dropping. "That ain't no Fed." "No way," Stark concurred. "That's some kinda... alien." Dennis bowed before Bonkers. "Greetings and salutations, my otherworldly friend. Welcome to the third rock from the Sun..." Stark nodded, eyes wide. "We call it... *earrrrth*..." Bonkers shook his head in disbelief. "I am *NOT* an alien! I'm a TOON! this isn't funny!" Dennis looked at Bonkers, leaning in closer as he mouthed "To-oon?" Stark shrugged. "He must be sayin' some word in his own language that doesn't translate, man. Say, how come he even speaks English? Maybe his universal translator--" Bonkers held up his hand. "Look, guys, this isn't funny. Joke's over. Now, c'mon, tell me what happened to the precinct!" Dennis and Stark exchanged curious glances. "What police precinct? What makes you think we know anything about a police precinct?" Bonkers growled. "Oh, I dunno... 'cuz you guys're cops..." He looked at them expectantly. Dennis gulped. "Oh, futz. He knows about the hack--" Stark jabbed him in the elbows. "Shut *up*, man." Bonkers looked at them more closely. These weren't the same Dennis and Stark he knew. Their appearance was a bit sloppier, and Stark had a goatee. They both seemed really tense and anxious, as if the weight of the world was on their shoulders. Bonkers noticed the weird screens on their computers, and he realized what was going on-- at least, here. "You two are *hackers*?" Dennis was about to open his mouth, but Stark silenced him. "We have nothing to say to you, alien or not. I suggest you either show us a warrant, or a ray-o-zap or whatever it is you aliens use, or leave. Now." Bonkers nodded to himself. They *were* hackers. "Fine," he replied. "But could any of you tell me where the 34th Precinct is?" Dennis and Stark looked at each other again. Dennis shrugged. "There is no 34th precinct. Not in this city, anyhow." "So where are all the cops, then? I mean, in Hollywood." Stark laughed. "Why, planning an invasion?" Bonkers nodded, answering flatly, "No. I'm actually a cop who's stuck in a messed up city that looks just like mine except it isn't mine and I need to find my friends only they work at a building that's not even there." Dennis smiled. "I like your attitude, Hep alien cat." Stark shook his head. "Police Headquarters is the *only* law hangout in this town. City Hall's right there, too. You can assimilate the whole government while you're at it." "We got trouble," Dennis said, looking out of the window. Bonkers and Stark ran over, and saw a black car pull alongside the building. Several men dressed in black suits, ties and sunglasses got out, including one with red hair, a moustache and mirrored shades just like the ones Bonkers had in his pocket. "Skewer!" Bonkers said happily. "You *know* him!?" Stark said accusingly, staring daggers at Bonkers. "Umm... lucky guess?" Bonkers hedged. "Darnit, I *knew* you were with the heat!" Stark moved back and grabbed Dennis. "We gotta go! NOW!" "Wait!" Bonkers yelled. "Why're you running?" Stark growled. "He's The Man! NSA! National Security Agency! He's been hunting us for months! There's nothing he would like more than to put us both in the pokey! He seems to know every move we make!" Bonkers pondered this for a second. This definitely wasn't the L.A. he remembered. "What did you do?" Bonkers asked, starting to panic. "Nothing!" Dennis yelled. "The mayor just doesn't like hackers, and she set *him* on us!" Bonkers wondered if Dennis was telling the truth. He and Stark had been acting strangely when he walked in. However, he remembered how much of a jerk Skewer had been the first six months he had known him. He'd always wanted to pay Skewer back for that, but then they'd become friends. This Skewer, on the other hand, didn't seem anything like the one he knew, so he figured it would be okay... "I'll take care of it," Bonkers said. He produced an anvil from the air behind him, and tossed it out the window, taking out the car parked below. Skewer and the agents stopped, turned, and began shooting at the window. "Go on, get outta here!" Bonkers yelled, rapidly throwing on his disguise. Stark looked at him closely. "You really aren't here to bust us, are you? Why are you here?" Bonkers shook his head. "I told you." "That weird story was the *truth*?" Stark snickered. Bonkers pointed to his golf club ears. "Is it any weirder than those?" Stark shook his head. Dennis was already out the door. "Our handles are Razor, and Blade," Stark said as he began to leave. As he went down the corridor, he yelled "If you need help, look us up on the 'net!" Bonkers heard the federal agents running up the stairs. He jumped out the window, using his trenchcoat as a makeshift parachute. Landing on top of the smashed car, Bonkers hopped off and made his way across the street, towards Police Headquarters. * * * "STAY WHERE YOU ARE!" Miranda yelled as she roughly slammed a criminal against a solid brick wall, her gun to his cheek. "Look, officer," the malcontent began slowly, "I don't see what the problem is, here--" Miranda hit the perpetrator in the stomach, and he doubled over, wheezing. "I was just... jaywalking," he spluttered. "Jaywalking's still a crime in this city, mister!" Miranda snapped. She'd had it with being polite and trying to understand the people around her. Chief Kanifky was right. Being nice to people only got in the way of getting her job done. She'd been nice for six years, and she was still a Junior officer. Well, all those things were going to change now. Slapping handcuffs on the criminal, Miranda used one foot to shove him into the back of her dilapitated squad car, ramming the door shut. The man began to whimper as she walked away, towards a doughnut stand. Suddenly, a chill went up Miranda's spine. Her instincts told her that trouble was coming her way. Turning, she saw a short man in a trenchcoat, mirrored shades and a cheap hat walking towards her. The man was midway across the street when he slipped on something (probably a bananna peel) and skidded onto the other side of the road. Miranda was about to help him up when she saw a bright, almost glowing orange tail stick out from under the trenchcoat. This was no ordinary midget with poor fashion sense, she thought-- this was the mutant freak Kanifky wanted brought in! "HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" she yelled, quickly training her gun on the midget. "Wait!" the short midget yelled in a funny voice that almost made Miranda smile. "Miranda, it's--" Miranda squeezed off a warning shot as the midget tried to approach. The fact that the mutant knew her name unnerved her, and her hand actually began to tremble slightly. Her job was riding on getting this thing off the streets and into Kanifky's hands, and she was going to do it, no matter what. She fired off another shot as the thing drew nearer. "ONE WRONG MOVE," she screamed, "AND YOU'RE HISTORY, DIRTBAG!" The thing stopped in its tracks. Miranda grinned inwardly. That line always worked for Sergeant Grating. Well, it used to, years ago. The last time he had tried it, on the famous criminal Wild Man Wyatt, Wyatt had pummeled him into paste and escaped the city. Grating had been in the hospital for weeks. Miranda was so wrapped up in her contemplation that she almost failed to notice the mutant opening up its trenchcoat, and reaching in for something. Almost. Before it could get to its gun, Miranda pulled her trigger three times. PART THE SECOND Shoulda reloaded after firing on that jaywalker, Miranda thought with a sinking feeling, hand trembling as she realized the gun had clicked empty three times. She seemed to watch from outside herself in slow motion as the mutant withdrew its weapon from the interior of the trenchcoat. The huge sunflower glinted ominously in the light, its cold pollen-filled center gleaming in the pre-dawn light. Waitasec, Miranda thought, snapping to her senses. It's a sunflower, not a weapon of mass destruction. "Here ya go, Miranda," the stranger said, handing her the flower. Miranda sneezed almost instantly. "Oh yeah," the mutant said, snatching away the flower. "Forgot you were allergic to sunflowers." "How'd you know that?" Miranda asked suspiciously. "And how do you know my name?" The mutant laughed. "Believe it or not, we know each other!" "Sure," Miranda said. "Unless you're my nephew Timmy, and you can't be because he's in Juvenile Hall, there's no way we know each other. I don't make it a policy to hang out with mutant freaks." "I'm not a mutant!" the mutant protested. "Look. Your name is Miranda C. Wright. You live in an apartment building with a slanted roof. You have a teddy bear named--" Miranda stopped him. "All that means is that you've been stalking me. Why don't you take off that mask and we'll see if I recognize you." The mutant slowly shed its outfit, revealing an almost glowing orange cat-like thing underneath that was wearing a tattered blue shirt that looked a bit like an LAPD regular uniform shirt. Miranda was revulsed at first, frightened by its strange appearance. Then, after she relaxed, and started looking at it more closely, she laughed for a moment-- it looked so ridiculous. It was like looking at a talking caricature of a bobcat. For the first time in years, she felt relaxed. Abruptly, Miranda stopped laughing. She remembered Kanifky saying this thing had strange powers. Her hand went for her nightstick. Bonkers backed up slightly. "Whoa! Hold up, Miranda! Look, I can explain everything!" Miranda pulled out her handcuffs. "You can explain it on the way to the station. You're under arrest!" "Fer what?!" Bonkers protested as she slapped cuffs on his wrists. "Disturbing the peace," she snapped back. She slammed Bonkers into the front seat of her car, since the jaywalker in the back seemed utterly terrified of him. It was a justifiable risk, she thought, since this thing seemed more interested in talking than trying to escape. "So lemme get this straight," Miranda said to the mutant whose name was Bonkers. "In *your* world, I'm a sergeant, Grating's a captain, some guy named Skewer is chief, Lucky works for the FBI, Chief Kanifky is *mayor* and you're a *cop*? That's a pretty tall tale." "It's *true*!" Bonkers protested. "I dunno what happened to change everything, but it's all true, I tell ya!" "State Statute 145.3," Miranda snapped. "What is it?" "'Thou shalt not put more than three scoops of ice cream on a root beer float'?" Bonkers guessed. "I was never real good at those statue thingys." "And you were a cop," Miranda repiled, her words dripping with disbelief. "What are you supposed to be again? A 'tune'?" "A *toon*," Bonkers snapped. "Toon! TOON! T-O-O-N! Like in 'cartoon'?" "Like in what?" Miranda asked. "Cartoon," Bonkers replied. "Are you hard of hearing?" The blank look on Miranda's face told Bonkers his problem was bigger than he had originally thought. "You *do* know what a cartoon is, right?" Bonkers asked slowly. "Never heard of 'em," Miranda said matter-of-factly. "Animation?" Bonkers asked again. "Huh?" "Oh boy," Bonkers exhaled. "Okay, a animation is when a guy (well a lot of guys) draws a lot of pictures, each one slightly different than the one before it. These pictures are filmed one after the other, and when you play back the film, it looks like the picture is moving, got me?" Miranda thought about it for a second. "Sorta like comics that move," she replied. "Exactly," Bonkers agreed. "that's what a cartoon is!" Miranda frowned. "I've never seen anything like it. It's a neat idea, though." "*I'm* a toon," Bonkers pressed on, "'cuz I *come* from cartoons! An artist drew me, and an animator animated me, and I used to film cartoons!" "But how can a drawing be alive?" Miranda countered. "I'm here, ain't I?" Bonkers retorted. "Besides, back in the old days, an animator named Tex Avery learned the secret to making toons come alive. Only a few people know it now-- even I dunno!" Miranda shook her head. "It's just not possible." Bonkers stared at her. "How come you're alive, then? What makes your skin, bones and DNA stuff any more special than my ink and color?" Miranda was at a loss. Bonkers grinned. Miranda frowned. "Are there more toons like you where you come from?" Bonkers laughed. "Tons and tons!" "Why?" "To make people happy!" Bonkers replied. "We're entertainers! You human types are always so serious and depressed... we bring a little light into your lives!" A toon lightbulb sprang up over his head. Miranda laughed, and it felt good. "You know, I have felt more relaxed since you've been around." She looked at Bonkers, and blinked. "What are you doing?" Bonkers was staring hoplessly at his hands, which were tied up in a knot. "Sorry, I do that sometimes when I'm nervous." Miranda pulled over the squad car, and tried to untie Bonkers' hands. The cuffs were in the way. Without thinking, she uncuffed him and undid the knot. Bonkers stood there, beaming. Miranda realized what she had done, and was about to chase after Bonkers when she realized that he had not moved. "How com you're not trying to get away?" she asked. "We're pals!" Bonkers replied cheerily. "You don't run out on a pal!" "I'm sorry," Miranda said. "But I have to take you in or Chief Kanifky is gonna fire me." "Do what you haveta," Bonkers said slowly. "I can't believe Kanifky's being such a jerk. He's usually the happiest guy I know." "He's under a lot of pressure," Miranda replied as they got back in the squad car. "Mayor DuPrave's cut the police budget almost down to nothing, and she's been riding the police department for almost six years now, making our jobs almost impossible." "Mayor *who*?" Bonkers asked incredulously. "Mayor DuPrave," Miranda replied. "Lillith DuPrave." "I can't believe anybody'd vote fer her," Bonkers snorted. "Why'd you say that?" Miranda asked, her eyes narrowing. Bonkers shrugged. "Oh, I dunno. She's just an arch-criminal, that's all." Miranda slammed the brakes on the squadcar. She turned to the jaywalker in the back. "Get out. Today's your lucky day. MOVE IT!" The jaywalker stumbled out, and the squad car pulled off, making a U-turn. The jaywalker raised his hands, which were still handcuffed together. "Hey!" he yelled at the rapidly vanishing squad car. "You forgot to unlock my cuffs!" Further down the road, Miranda parked the squad car. She leaned over and stared at Bonkers. "Is she a criminal where you come from?" "Yup," Bonkers replied. "Big-time. What, is she a nice lady here?" "That's what people say," Miranda said slowly. "But that's not what I think. I just don't have any proof to back up my suspicions." Bonkers frowned. "Well," he started. A rumbling noise cut him off. "What's that?" Miranda asked, covering her ears. "Oh," Bonkers replied, blushing. "My stomach. I haven't had a thing ta eat since I got into town." Miranda nodded. "C'mon, let's get something to eat. I know a great fast food place around here. You can tell me everything you know about DuPrave when we get there." * * * As the squadcar pulled in to the parking lot of a McDrekky's restaurant, a large black limousine cut them off, pulling up right in front of the entrance, its horn honking twice. "Hmm," Miranda mused, looking at the sight. "Upscale crowd tonight." Harry, the owner of the restaurant, stepped out of the front door and leaned over to the passenger side window of the car. He knocked three times on the polarized window, which whirred down slightly, offering just enough room for him to proffer the meal he had prepared in advance of the nightly visit. "One tuna melt, order of onion rings, and a coffee." "Here," a low female voice said, as some money, about a hundred dollars, came flying out of the window. "keep the change." As Harry tipped his hat and scooped up the bills, Miranda and Bonkers went in and took some seats by the counter. "It's not quite a drive-thru window," Bonkers quipped, "but it's a start." "You order," Miranda said to Bonkers. Harry walked up to the counter, and as soon as he saw Bonkers, fainted. "Two cheeseburgers to go!" Bonkers said, oblivious to Harry's semiconcious state. "Okay, that'll be $3.99", Harry said, slowly coming up from behind his counter. "I must be drunk," he mumbled to himself. Miranda handed him a ten dollar bill. "Here are your cheeseburgers," Harry said, handing Miranda some burgers, "and here's your change," he concluded, handing Bonkers some money. "Hey," Bonkers said to Miranda as they got ready to leave. "This *is* a change. Even the one dollar bills are different in this L.A." "Lemme see that," Miranda said, snatching the bill from Bonkers' hand. She stared at the macabre grin plastered all over George Washington's face. At length, she said "This is a counterfeit bill." Counterfeit money was a big problem in L.A. these days. Bonkers began to have a funny feeling of Deja Vu. He also felt like he had the funny feeling of having done all this before. "Who gave this to you?" Miranda demanded of Harry, pointing to the bill. "Is it fake?" Harry asked, giving Miranda another one. "Gosh, I'm sorry, officer. It was the lady in the limo. I can't believe funny money's showed up in my restaurant." "That lady wasn't *Lilith DuPrave*, was it?" Bonkers asked triumphantly. "Da *Mayor*?!" Harry shook his head. "Look mac, I dunno who you think you are, but I won't have anybody knocking the mayor in my establishment." He pointed to a "Vote DuPrave" poster on his wall. "Sorry about that," Miranda covered, pushing Bonkers outside. "Bonkers," she hissed when they made it outside, "you can't just make accusations like that without proof. That's a sure way to land us *both* in a lotta trouble!" Bonkers shook his head. "Look, Miranda. I know it's her! We've been through this case once before. I'm tellin' ya-- she's behind the funny money!" Miranda looked at Bonkers intensely for a moment. Nothing in his huge oval eyes said he was lying. Then again, she was never very good at reading the expression of things with huge oval eyes. "If what you say is true, then where do we go from here?" "Does *Mayor* DuPrave still own the Hollywood Chronicle?" "Yup." "Then *that's* where we're going." * * * Several minutes later, they arrived at the large, ominous looking building that was home to the Hollywood Chronicle, the largest paper in all of Los Angeles. They slowly made their way inside after Miranda picked the locks securing the front door. From another vantage point, several others watched as Bonkers and Miranda made their way into the building. "There he is, sir. The one you described. He might interfere with the bust, sir. Should we move in?" "No, Special Agent Sender." Eric Skewer waved off his second-in-command. It was the most fascinating thing he'd ever seen. "Let them make the bust." "Sir?" Sender pulled out his gun. "Sender," Skewer hissed warningly. "Let it go. This may make things easier for us in the long run. Move the others in on the secondary target." "Yes, sir," Sender replied, depressed. He re-holstered his weapon. "Always trust your instincts," Skewer advised. * * * "Okay," Miranda said to Bonkers. "I'm deputizing you. Now, we're looking for anything suspicious. You search this floor, I'll take the top." "Gotcha!" Bonkers replied. As they were about to split up, Bonkers stopped Miranda. "Listen. If you see a chain next to DuPrave, don't let her yank it-- that's how she fried the evidence last time." "Right," Miranda said, heading upstairs. Bonkers headed across the hall in a series of rapid leaps and bounds, coming up to a suspicious looking door. "Aha," he muttered to himself. He opened the door, emerging onto a mini-balcony, yelling "Nobody breathe! Nobody move!" He threw on a massive switch, which lit up the entire area, activating activated previously dormant printing presses. "Hmm..." he muttered, "nobody here." A massive roll of paper being carried overhead by an automatic hook swung up from behind Bonkers and slammed into him, sending him falling off the balcony and down onto a conveyor belt. Stunned, Bonkers took a few seconds to realize he was being carried towards two huge rollers which would flatten him. Trying to run away from them, he was dragged closer by the conveyor. As he reached the rollers, he leapt up onto a small bar above them, only to be grabbed by a set of plungers from overhead which carried him onto two more rollers, which he tried to stay on top of by running much as one does when trying to stay atop a log floating in water. Unfortunately, he slowed down, and was sucked in between them. Mashed to a paper-thin consistency, Bonkers traveled up and down the rollers for a time, getting sprayed with ink as they slapped him onto the printing press. Hundreds of thousands of newspapers now bore the black ink outline of his head covering the front page. Meanwhile, Miranda moved slowly through the downstairs area, tracking a rythmic grinding sound, like that made by a small press. She moved through an ornate office, decorated in late nineteenth century style. Opening a door, she saw a massive, solidly built bald man cranking a press which was spewing out dollar bills. She also noted a chain by his head. Drawing her gun, she made sure it was loaded. "Police!" she yelled. The bald man turned to face her. He was wearing tinted round sunglasses. He stopped cranking the machine. "Take it slow!" "Goot eveningh," the man replied in a strong Bavarian accent. "Printing a little money?" Miranda demanded. "Lets call it a hobbie," the man replied. "Let's call it counterfeiting," Miranda snapped, "which means *you* are under arrest!" "Pity your evidance went up in schmoke. AHAHAHA!" The man went for the chain near his head. Miranda shot at it, and it fell from the ceiling. The man scowled. "Darn," he exhaled. Miranda cuffed him just as a battered, blackened Bonkers joined her. Bonkers whipped out a toon camera and snapped a picture. * * * CHIEF KANIFKY'S OFFICE, 9:53 AM Kanifky scowled, slamming down another wad of counterfeit bills onto his desk. Thousands of hours of work, and still not even a *lead* towards the source of this pox upon the economy of Los Angeles. He felt the veins throbbing dangerously in his forehead. "Someone here to see you sir," his intercom chirped. "WHO IS IT?!" He roared. He could barely hear for the blood rushing past his ears. "Junior officer Wright sir." Wright. Kanifky looked at his watch. It was just over two hours till noon. Most likely she was coming to plead for more time, or make some other weak excuse which would save her job. Such incompetence. Well, at least she was early. That would give him time to eat lunch once he'd fired her. "Send her in," Kanifky said flatly. He watched as Miranda walked into his office, a huge, strapping prisoner in two. She placed some counterfeit bills on Kanifky's desk. "Sir," she began confidently, "Here's at least *one* of the counterfeiters. Caught in the act." She slapped down a polaroid of the man in front of a printing press on Kanifky's desk. Kanifky blinked. His blood pressure lowered slightly. It was a sight to behold. Success! He smiled slightly. This excuse was definitely enough to save her job. Still, though, that wasn't the case he had sent her out to crack. "Well, very good, officer. But what about the mutant? I expect you'll want more time to catch him, or--" Miranda raised her hand. "Well, sir-- actually, the mutant helped crack the case." A strange, almost glowing orange *thing* stepped out from behind Miranda and waved at Kanifky. "Hiya, Chiefy!" it said. Kanifky couldn't help it. He laughed. It was the stupidest looking thing he had ever seen, like a badly mangled cat with a friendly smile. Kanifky paused, even as a joyous feeling built up in his stomach. He hadn't laughed in eight years. It felt good. He let it out. He laughed again. It was a chain reaction of funny going off in his brain. He laughed louder, more hysterically. He let out a belly laugh. A triumphant laugh. Somehow, looking at the furry orange thing relaxed him, made him feel like he hadn't a trouble in the world. He felt like a kid again. He looked around at his office, and how boring it was. He thought about all the fun things he'd all but forgotten about in the past eight years. His laughter bellowed throughout the office. * * * Sergeants Grating and Piquel slowly walked over to Kanifky's office, feeling down in the dumps. Neither the axe-murdering clown, insane munchkin or inside-out toll booth attendant they had stopped that morning had been the alien freak. "Listen," Lucky said, motioning to Grating. Both men stood in front of Kanifky's door and heard laughter coming from inside the office. Kanifky's laughter. "So," they heard him say, "then you fell *into* the press and got blasted with ink, and *that's* how you got onto the front page? It's insane! I *love* it! Priceless, man, priceless!" Lucky slowly opened the door a crack, and saw Chief Kanifky leaning back in his chair, a smile on his face. He looked to the left and saw officer Wright smiling. He looked to the right and saw-- the mutant freak! "The freak's got Kanifky under his spell," Lucky said to Grating quickly. "If we rush him, we can save the chief and earn brownie points!" Grating nodded. They kicked open the two doors to Kanifky's office and stormed in. "Hold it, Dirtbag!" Grating yelled, rushing Bonkers and tackling him. He looked into the freak's eyes for a few seconds, then nodded to himself and started strangling it. "Don't MOVE!" Lucky yelled, pointing his gun at Bonkers, holding it with both hands. Chief Kanifky raised an eyebrow. "Officers, just what do you think you're doing?" Lucky and Grating looked at him. "Saving you from the freak, sir," they chimed, Grating a little too enthusiastically. Kanifky stared at them expressionlessly. "This freak, gentlemen, is a toon named Bonkers, and he's a duly deputized officer of the law." "Wha-ha--t, sir?" Lucky pulled his gun back. "You've gotta be kidding, sir." Grating snapped mechanically, getting up and releasing Bonkers. "No," Kanifky said, handing Bonkers a new, bright blue uniform and hat. He then offered the Bobcat a badge. "As of right now," Kanifky looked at Bonkers, "you are a full-fledged junior officer, and I'm assigning you to your new partner, *Officer* Miranda Wright." "No 'Junior'? You mean I got promoted?" Miranda asked weakly. "Yes," Kanifky said, a twinkle in his eye. He then rapidly mumbled "after a probationary period of six months and no pay raise so don't ask." He laughed. His ulcer had practically sealed itself back up. "You two," Kanifky said, turning to Grating and Lucky, "can escort the prisoner over there," he pointed to a couch near the door on which the tall prisoner was sitting, "down to holding. Wait!" Kanifky leaned over to Bonkers, who was sporting his uniform proudly. "You wear that well, son-- almost as if you've worn a uniform before." Bonkers beamed. "Tell me, Bonkers-- may I call you Bonkers? Good! I've been wanting to promote one of those two sergeants for the longest time now, but frankly, they're both so lousy that I just couldn't decide." "Well," Bonkers said slowly, "Lucky's a great cop--" "Fine!" Kanifky exclaimed. Lucky beamed. Grating didn't care. "--but, Sgt. Grating's a tough, dedicated officer--" "Fine!" Kanifky exclaimed. Grating beamed. Lucky's face fell. "--but I can't make up my mind." "This won't do," Kanifky said after a moment, feeling more like his old self than he had in years. "We need a cutting edge, scientific method of determining the better choice... but what?" Lucky, Grating and Miranda watched incredulously as Bonkers and Kanifky proceeded to brainstorm, using everything from small paper airplanes to hats with propellers on them to aid the creative process. Finally, they seemed to agree on a method. "You do it," Kanifky chortled. "Okay," Bonkers said excitedly. He harrumphed, and cleared his throat, puffing out his chest. He pointed at Grating. Then he pointed at Lucky. Then he pointed at Grating again. "Eeenie--" Bonkers began dramatically. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Lucky yelled. "I will not have my fate decided by this weird lookin' thing from who knows where with ears like golfclubs and a voice like Jim Cummings on helium and all kinds of fur sticking out from everywhere and large blue oval eyes like on those aliens that abduct people and stuff like that and there's got to be a better way that eeniemeeniemineymoe sir I refuse to--" "--Moe!" Lucky stopped as he noticed Bonkers was pointing at him. "Are you saying you refuse, Sergeant Piquel?" Kanifky looked at him askance. "Uhm, no-no-no, sir, uhm, what I was in fact saying was that, I uhm, I refuse to believe that the wisdom of this fuzzball's choice, is, umm... anything but absolute, sir." "Good, good." Kanifky slapped Lucky on the back. "Get into your street clothes, *detective* Piquel, and report to the basement ASAP!" "Yes, sir!" Lucky grinned and saluted. He felt better than he had in years. He turned and left the office. Frank Grating was about to leave when Kanifky turned to him. "You, Sergeant Grating, are now officially in charge of the LAPD's first ever 'toon division'. With this responsibility will come a pay raise and your own floor of Police Headquarters." "Really, sir?" Grating answered flatly. He didn't have time for this. "Yes," Kanifky said, laughing again. "After you take the prisoner down to holding." "Yes, sir." Grating moved towards the prisoner, who moved as if to escape. Grating growled "One wrong move, and you're history, dirtbag!" Miranda slapped her head. She knew what was coming next. The prisoner leapt for Grating, but Grating punched him solidly in the gut. While this had no impact on the prisoner whatsoever, he was so impressed with Grating's defiance that he stopped struggling. Miranda looked shocked. Grating pushed the prisoner out of the office. Kanifky picked up his phone and dialed a few numbers. "Who're you callin' Chiefy?" Bonkers hopped up on the edge of Kanifky's desk. Miranda went to pull him off, but Kanifky grinned and waved her off. "The Mayor," he said cheerfully. "Finally, I can rub this little victory in her face. Ooh, this will be *fantastic*!" "Sir," Miranda began cautiously. "We think Mayor DuPrave may be involved in this counterfeiting ring somehow." Kanifky put the phone down. "I never did think she was on our side, you know." He got up, grabbing his dusty old fishing gear and putting it on. "Figure it out, officers. I'm going fishing." He grinned. As Miranda watched him leave, dumbstruck, Kanifky turned back and grinned. "I haven't been fishing in years! The Bass think they're safe, but oh no... Leonard Kanifky's going back to the beach! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" A few moments after Kanifky left, Miranda turned to Bonkers. "I think we need to interrogate the prisoner, partner." * * * THE MAYOR'S OFFICE, DuPRAVE TOWERS, 10:15 AM "Ahh, my city," Lillith DuPrave exhaled slowly. "Is it not beautiful?" She looked over the skyline from the massive glass windows that formed the walls of her office, which also happened to be the Mayor's office. Looking straight down, she saw the small rotting tenement directly across from her tower. She'd contemplated having the place torn down, but the irony it represented amused her far too greatly. "It won't be yer city ferever, you wacked-out dame." "Oh," DuPrave said with mock gravity, still looking out the window. "It speaks." "Dat's rite. An' your number's almost up, lady." "Really?" DuPrave turned to face the other occupant of the room, a faded toon rabbit in scuzzy clothing, wearing a sign which said "Doomsday now". The rabbit was tied to a chair, and its gag had managed to come undone. "Are you going to stop me, Discontinuator? Or should I just call you Speedy, the Friendly Rabbit?" Speedy growled. "You'll call me uncle once I get outta dese ropes!" "How droll." DuPrave shook her head. "Such ingratitude. I found your half-destroyed body phasing in and out of existence in the middle of the Hollywood Bowl, sustained only by the memory of that ridiculous toon, Bonkers Bobcat. I spent millions having you redrawn into your old image, and you repaid me with betrayal. Did you think that dressing up like a lunatic and muttering obscure warnings to the police would prevent my takeover of the city? HAH!" Speedy scowled. "I can't believe I helped you do this to the world! I doomed us all!" DuPrave laughed. "No, Speedy. Not at all. I told you that if you got me Von Drake's Time Remote I'd figure out how to use it. I never said *how* I'd use it." "I turned back the clock just before the Nuclear Blast would have fried us all!" Speedy protested. "I went back and made it so Wackytoons never fired anybody, and dramatic toons had their own studio! Toontown was a paradise! There were new episodes of everything from Darkwing Duck to Rescue Rangers! Then *you* changed it all," he hissed acidly. "What good is a Toon Paradise to me, Mr. Rabbit?" DuPrave scowled. "You toons have been nothing but trouble to me ever since I encountered you. I went back and dealt with Mr. Tex Avery, and made sure that the only cartoons the world knew about were the ones scrawled on caves in the Precambrian era! I've rid myself of Bonkers D. Bobcat, Negaduck, Flaps, Al Vermin, and all the other things that were holding me back! The police in this city are a joke now, and I get to watch them suffer! AHAHAHAHAHA!" She held up a toony-looking remote control. "Only thirteen hours and forty-five minutes until the new millenniuum, rabbit," DuPrave crowed. "Then the changes I've made will be permanent, and Los Angeles will enter the third millenniuum with *ME* in control... forever! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!" "Ms. Duprave," a scrawny executive mumbled as he ran into her office, interrupting her gloat, "I have an urgent phone call for you. It seems the police have arrested the head of the Hollywood Chronicle for counterfeiting. Shall we get the spin team on it, ma'am?" The executive's eyes widened as he saw Speedy tied up in a chair. "No," DuPrave replied. "I'm shocked that one of my employees would abuse the facilities of the Chronicle in such a manner. It makes me look like nothing more than a common criminal." She went over to her desk, pulled out a gun, and shot the executive. As he thudded to the floor, she muttered, "you should always knock before entering my office." "Looks like the only 'joke' in the Police Department's on you," Speedy quipped. DuPrave scowled, moving towards him. Speedy's eyes widened as she brought the gun to his head. "And now, last of the toons, I'm afraid your show has been canceled." PART THE THIRD DuPrave abruptly jerked the gun away and put it in her desk. "But, I've got to go see if the cops have just gotten lucky or if they're actually onto something." She walked out of her office, and locked the door behind her. Turning to one of the machine-gun toting guards flanking her door, DuPrave barked "There's a dangerous creature imprisoned in my office. If it tries to escape, kill it." "Yes, ma'am!" The guards saluted. DuPrave marched towards the elevator at the end of the hallway and slammed the down button with extreme force. Her trusted aide, Mr. Blackenbloo, had apparently been caught red-handed printing funny money using the facilities of the Hollywood Chronicle, her star newspaper. It hardly surprised her that he would use her resources this way-- after all, she had told him too. What surprised her was that Blackenbloo had been caught. It was not like him to be careless, and there was no way that a connection could have been made between himself and the counterfeit bills. The police were incompetent bunglers in this timeline, DuPrave reminded herself. It was extremely difficult to believe that one of them had actually gotten lucky. Still, with her wealth, it would be no time at all before the whole incident was forgotten. The elevator doors opened, and DuPrave stepped inside. As the doors closed in front of her, she concentrated on thinking up a creative way to get Blackenbloo out of jail and back into the money making business. * * * "C'mon! Talk! Dish out the dirt and spill the beans! Confess!" Bonkers leapt onto Mr. Blackenbloo's chest, coming eye to eye with the massive Bavarian, who leaned back in his chair, trying to stay away from the crazed toon. "Get dis toon avah frum me!" Blackenbloo yelled, batting at Bonkers with a thick, solidly muscled hand. One of his swipes made contact, and Bonkers flew across the interrogation room, barely missing Miranda and splatting on the far wall, sliding down like a bad grease stain. Miranda pulled out her gun, but Bonkers popped back up, albeit a bit tipsy. She couldn't help but giggle as he wobbled back over to the prisoner and whipped out a gigantic feather. "Resistance is *useless*," Bonkers said slowly, and pulled one of the shoes off of Blackenbloo. "Noh!" Blackenbloo exclaimed-- but it was too late. Bonkers began to expertly tickle Blackenbloo's foot bottom, and the overly muscled Bavarian began to collapse in a paroxym of laughter. Just as Blackenbloo was beginning to speak, the door to the interrogation cell blasted open, and a lawyer stood in the doorway. Bonkers stayed out of sight, figuring that he didn't need to attract unneeded attention at that exact moment. "What's going on here?!" Miranda demanded. "This prisoner is being set free," the lawyer responded, handing Miranda a slip of paper. "There was insufficent probable cause to warrant the inspection of the Hollywood Chronicle building." "What do you mean?" "Well, according to your report, after you found the counterfeit money, you simply decided to inspect the Chronicle because you felt there might be a connection. You gave no proof to back up that assertion." Miranda scowled. The lawyer was right-- she'd gone in on nothing more than Bonkers' word. "But he *was* counterfeiting!" she protested vainly, knowing what was coming. "Well, that doesn't matter very much now, does it?" the lawyer responded snidely. "Next time get some proof before you go charging in like a one woman fascist hit squad." As the lawyer escorted Blackenbloo out, Miranda stood in the doorway of the interrogation room watching them leave. Suddenly, she heard Lillith DuPrave yelling from a distance, probably inside Sgt. Grating's new office. "How dare you let that felon go!" DuPrave bellowed. "He's made a mockery of my fine newspaper and I DEMAND that you keep him locked up!" "Of course you do," Sgt. Grating answered dryly. "That's why one of your lawyers helped him get out of holding, right?" "I don't know what you mean," DuPrave answered slowly. Sgt. Grating held up an old copy of the Hollywood Chronicle which had a special on then-candidate for mayor, Lillith DuPrave. In front of her was the lawyer who had just sprung Blackenbloo. "That man no longer works for me," DuPrave lied. "My mistake," Grating said with no hint of sincerity. "Accidents happen," DuPrave replied ominously, and walked out of the office. As she walked, she glanced at Miranda, standing in the doorway. Her eyes also caught the hint of something bright orange in the room behind Wright. "It can't be," DuPrave mumbled to herself. As she watched, still walking away, DuPrave saw Miranda bend over and say something to a short person behind her. A short person with ears like golf clubs. "No," DuPrave muttered to herself, walking faster. If Bonkers was here, that meant he had not been affected by the time remote, probably because he had been out of its range. If that were true, it would mean he knew she was a criminal. That explained how they had been able to find Blackenbloo! DuPrave scowled. She was going to have to take out the Bobcat as quickly as possible. Nothing could be allowed to stop her takeover of the city. * * * "There she goes," Sgt. Grating muttered, as he watched DuPrave's exit on a security camera attached to the televsion in his office. "So you think she's dirty?" Lucky asked, sitting in front of Grating's desk, still huffing from the long run up the stairs from the basement. "Bobcat thinks so," Grating replied. "And we all know how screwed up this city's been ever since she took office eight years ago." "I dunno about that Bonkers guy," Lucky said slowly. "I mean, what the heck *is* he? He looks like something straight outta the comic books!" "I don't care *what* he looks like!" Grating snapped. "He got us our only lead on the counterfeiting ring when the entire department couldn't find out fact one! And that lead went straight to DuPrave's door!" "Frank, we're talking about the *mayor*, here..." Lucky cautioned. "I dunno about you," Grating retorted, opening a drawer and pulling out a pistol, "but one thing I learned in Police Academy was that *nobody* was above the law." Grating got up, and holstered his gun. Lucky waved at him cautioningly. "I can't let you do this, Frank. I *am* the senior officer here--" Grating glared at Lucky, a growl starting to form in his throat. Lucky's seniority was just a weird technicality as far as he cared. "--and I can't let you go--" Grating got ready to yell. There was no way Pickle was gonna stop him. "--without letting me come along, too." Lucky made sure his gun was holstered in the holder under his grey vest. Grating's face broke into a broad grin. "You know we're just asking fer trouble," Grating stated. "What's trouble?" Lucky asked jokingly as they walked out of Grating's office. Bonkers and Miranda watched as Lucky and Grating walked past them and towards the stairs, chatting amicably as they went. "Wow," Bonkers said reverently, "Look at them. Noble defenders of the peace, walking into the sunset, side by side, like two guest extras in a really cheap buddy-cop picture." "No kidding," Miranda replied slowly. "I wonder what they're up to?" * * * "Nuts!" Grating exclaimed, as he watched DuPrave's limousine pull off just as he and Lucky had made it down the stairs and out the door of police Headquarters. "We'll never catch them now." "Oh, yes we will!" Lucky said triumphantly. "Part of my new job as *detective* Lucky Piquel is having a special, customized-just-for-me *undercover* car." Lucky ran around the side of the building to the parking lot. "Detective," Grating mumbled. "More like 'defective'." Gratign ducked instinctively as he heard a gunshot coming his way! He pulled out his gun, and heard two more shots! He spun around, and saw where they were coming from. With a sigh, he stood up and holstered his gun. Lucky's "undercover car" backfired a fourth time, slowly ambling forwards, its muffler scraping on the ground. It was probably the oldest, most beat up squad car in the entire department. Even the front body panels didn't match one another. "Wow," Grating said mockingly. "All we'd have to do is charge admission and we'd have ourselves a grade-A tourist trap." "I dunno about tourist trap," Lucky said agitatedly as he fought with his seatbelt and scrambled out the drivers side door, making it out just before the car exploded in a small mushroom cloud, "but it sure is a fire trap!" "*Was* a fire trap," Grating corrected. "Let's just commandeer a car." * * * "This is so humiliating," Lucky growled, as he and Grating did their best to look inconspicuous while trailing DuPrave's limo in a commandeered Ice Cream truck. "I told you to get a *car*," Grating snapped. "They were getting away!" Lucky protested. Grating turned and looked at Lucky. "There was a red light! They wouldn't have gotten far! You should have gotten a--" "--tree!" "What? You can't drive a tree!" "Look out for that--" The next instant, Lucky and Grating's Ice Cream Truck was splattered all across the front of an old elm tree. The two cops got out just before the truck exploded, sending the tree crashing down into an intersection, disrupting traffic. "I hate my life," Lucky muttered. "Look," Grating directed, pointing at a Limousine stopped inches behind the tree. "It's DuPrave. She's stuck in traffic." "You're right," Lucky confirmed. "She's getting out-- going to walk it." "C'mon!" Grating and Lucky set off to follow DuPrave on foot. The smell of danger was in the air as the two policemen came within sight of their quarry, standing just feet away from the Mayor, who was slowly advancing towards her lair, the gigantic obsidian-black skyscraper known as DuPrave towers. Slowly, they followed her as closely as they could, every sense aware, awake and alive for the slightest hint that she had detected their presence. They watched as DuPrave said a few words to the guards who stood in front of the building, followed by them as she entered her dark fortress. Lucky and Grating exchanged glances. This was the moment where fear and cowardice would either be vanquished, or forever reign as king. Either they followed DuPrave into the very heart of her domain, or they would return to their ordinary lives, forever plagued by the thought of what might have, could have-- should have-- been. Grating was the first to bravely stride forward, thrusting himself into the rotating jaws of doom that were the revolving doors in the front of the tower. Like a squire to a noble knight, Lucky tagged along, momentarily jamming himself in the mechanism thanks to his prodigious bulk. The intrepid trackers continued the hunt, doing their best to blend in with the scenery as they pursued DuPrave and her guards up the treacherous slopes of the inner stairwells, and past the deadly eyes of seemingly omnipresent security cameras. For a tense, critical moment, they lost sight of her, obscured as she was by the rich, verdant foiliage of an inordinately expensive potted, plastic plant. Moving up as close as they dared, the two men spotted what was likely the den of the beast-- a locked office door. Only a few scant inches of wood and polyurethane now stood between them and the very heart of darkness. Haltingly, Lucky placed his ear to the door, in hopes of hearing thw words of the elusive DuPrave. "Something's ticking," Piquel said, his whisper as loud as a thunderclap to the overly sensitized ear of Grating. "What?" Grating hissed back, the sound of his own hushed voice magnified to that of a freight train by the palpable air of paranoia in the hallway. "Sounds like a bomb," Piquel continued. "Probable cause?" Grating asked. "Why not?" Lucky replied. Bursting into the den of darkness, the two great hunters found themselves face to face with a bundle of C-4 explosive and a ticking detonator sitting atop a chair along with a tape recorder. The tape player clicked on, and the voice was none other than that of Mayor DuPrave. "My security guards saw you coming a mile away, gentlemen. I hope you found what you were looking for, because, very shortly, everyone will be looking for you-- with a fine-toothed comb." Luckily, the bomb was still ticking, Lucky noted as he ran towards it. Grating frowned. He had taken some elementary lessons in bomb diffusion with the Police Academy, but he'd never put those skills to use. Time was of the essence. It would take him at least five minutes to shut the bomb off, and the thought of getting hit with a ton of exploding C-4 in the face was not a pleasant one, though it would probably taste a lot like a McDrekky's Drexican chile' sandwich. "Quick!", he yelled to Lucky. "How much time does it say we've got on the timer? How many minutes left? I'll need at least five... so, what's the number on the timer!?" Even as he ran towards the bomb, Lucky began to get a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. Every second was like an eternity to him as his feet pounded the carpet of DuPrave's office. He felt every sensation around him as he leapt over a small table and landed in front of the bomb, eyes telling him what his mind had already divined. "Three minutes", he said with a note of resigned finality. There wasn't enough time. "Can you do a rush job?" "No way," Grating snapped. "We need to get the heck out of here!" "There's enough C-4 sitting there to level this whole building!" Lucky replied. Grating looked at the window. "Let's throw it out the window!" The tape recorder clicked on again. "Touch the bomb and it goes off." Lucky scowled. "Let's take our chances by running out of here!" The recorder clicked on again. "Try to leave and it goes off." Grating frowned. "How--?" "Question the semi-sentience of the tape recorder and it goes off." "Does that mean the bomb goes off or the tape recorder goes off?" Lucky asked. The tape recorder paused for a moment, confused by its own ambiguous grammar. Finally, it spluttered out, "Oh, fine. Now you simply DIE!" Lucky and Grating looked at each other, and then jumped out the window just as the bomb, and others like it on every floor of the building, exploded, totally obliterating DuPrave towers. The ground was rushing at the two police officers at an incredibly fast rate. There was nothing but the hot asphalt to break their fall. In seconds, their momentarily illustrious careers-- not to mention their lives-- would be over. Except for the extraordinarily convenient fact that a giant metal robot happened to snatch them out of the air, saving their lives before descending once again into its home in the sewers of Los Angeles, and taking them with it. * * * "It is with deep regret," Lillith DuPrave struggled out, her voice faltering for a moment as hundreds of flash cameras went off at once, illuminating her hideous visage, "that I present these posthumous medals of honor to Sergeant Francis Q. Grating and Detective Lucky M. Piquel, two valiant officers who lost their lives while trying to stop a terrorist bombing of City Hall, otherwise known as DuPrave Towers." Angrily, Miranda turned off the TV set sitting on Grating's desk. "I just know *she* did this to them," Miranda said, fighting back tears. "We'll stop her," Bonkers said, surrounded by a rapidly growing pool of toon tears. "How?" Miranda asked, voice cracking. "DuPrave towers was her HQ. She shut down the Hollywood Chronicle because of its involvement in 'criminal activity'. She's covered all her tracks! We'll never be able to pin anything on her now!" "Maybe we can't," Bonkers mused, "but I think I know some people who can." * * * "I dunno about working our mojo in front of a cop," Stark said slowly as Bonkers and Miranda stood behind himself and Dennis. "Look," Miranda said slowly. "This is all under the table. You told Bonkers that the Mayor hated hackers, and that's why she kept trying to get you thrown in jail." "Yeah," Bonkers continued, "maybe that's because you guys are the only ones who can find out all her secrets." "Well," Stark began slowly, "we had made some progress in penetrating the local police department's servers..." "You what?!" Miranda started. "Cool it, Miranda," Bonkers raised a cautionary hand. "Go on, guys." "And it looks like somebody's had all of the arrest records for Mr. Blackenbloo deleted from the system. I guess they hadn't figured on us having backup copies of the files." "You know who did this?" Miranda asked. Stark frowned. "Well, we think so. This isn't the first time key data's gone missing from your system. All information on the counterfeiting problem, mayoral elections, and the police budget has been either deleted or tampered with." "Tampered with?" "Let's just say your budget should have been three times larger than it is, and 'Mayor' DuPrave should never have won the last election four years ago." "I *knew* nobody woulda voted fer her!" Bonkers beamed. Dennis nodded. "We've been trying to hack into the computer we think is the source of the trouble, but no luck so far." A voice from behind the group interrrupted the conversation. "You two gentlemen dissappoint me. I expected more out of you." "Skewer!" Dennis and Stark jumped up, but the guards surrounding Skewer held up their guns and waved the hackers back into their chairs. Skewer looked at the guards, and they lowered their guns-- all except for his second, Agent Sender. "Sender," Skewer warned. "Sir!" Sender gritted his teeth. "Go outside and shoot a tree, or something." "Yes, sir!" Sender gratefully ran out the door. "Now," Skewer said, looking at Dennis and Stark. "You two--" "This is ENTRAPMENT, MAN!" Stark yelled. "You ain't got anything on us that'll stick in a court of law!" "Oh no," Skewer said smoothly. "I've got everything on you boys." "Oh yeah!" Dennis screamed. "You're just the Mayor's little lap-dog!" Skewer snorted. "Please. You really think I'm stupid enough to fall for DuPrave's little song and dance line? One morning, I wake up and all of LA and San Francisco's turned into an urban cesspit, and her name's all over the papers. How does a two-bit news magnate suddenly become mayor in 24 hours?" Dennis laughed derisively. "24 hours? Get *with* it man, she's been mayor for eight years!" Skewer lowered his sunglasses. "Odd. You'd think I would have noticed. Anyway, I want you two boys--" "--no way!" Stark exclaimed. "We're not serving time! Information should be free!" "Right on," Skewer said, an evil grin creeping across his face. "But even in digital paradise, somebody's gotta watch out for the snakes. That's why I want you boys to work for me. Believe me, you two have been hard to track, especially with this orange-- thing helping you." Dennis and Stark looked at each other confusedly for a moment. "You want us to- to- work for the Man?" they chimed. "Never! We won't sell out!" Skewer shook his head. "All this cyberjunk won't keep you in the Jolt Cola forever, you know. And besides, wouldn't you two like to be the intrepid hackers who took out the most evil woman on the West Coast?" Outside, the sound of a tree being repeatedly shot could be heard. "As long as we get guns," Stark replied. "Fine." Skewer looked down at Bonkers, and saw a pair of shiny mirrored shades in his pocket. He pulled them from Bonkers' pocket and looked at them. "Very nice," Skewer muttered, and tried them on. Of course, they fit him perfectly. They felt new and strange, and yet oddly familiar at the same time. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" he yelled, suddenly reacting to a very strange, hot, one could say almost thermonuclear sensation. He looked over at Bonkers. "What are you doing out of uniform, Bobcat? Where are your stripes?" Skewer started. He removed the sunglasses and rubbed his bloodshot green eyes. "Bonkers?" he asked, replacing the glasses. It had been shrewd of him to give them to Bonkers before this whole situation had exploded in their faces. Ouch, he thought, that was an unpleasant metaphor. "Chiefy?" Bonkers replied. "BONKERS!" Skewer extended his hands as if asking for a hug. "CHIEFY!" As Bonkers leaped forward to give Skewer a giant hug, Skewer lowered his arms, stepped out of the way and sat down in front of a computer, leaving Bonkers to smack right into a wall, dripping down it. Skewer grinned wryly and typed on the machine's keyboard. "Drop an anvil on my car, will you?" he muttered as he typed. "Let's see. Here's DuPrave's mainframe, running off a T-3 connect to the Internet. Bypass a firewall here, redirect a proxy there, voila!" The schematics to a large building appeared on the screen. Dennis and Stark looked at thim with awe. "My kung-fu is the best," Skewer said in his trademark monotone. He looked at the plans on the screen and frowned. "This looks like it's in the sewer." "Perfect place for a rat to hide," Miranda muttered. "We'll get the murdering witch." "Murdering?" Skewer shook his head. "Oh, them. They're fine." "How do you--?" Miranda asked. "Me's bat fun with mall living rings," Bonkers said dizzily, still recovering from his encounter with the wall. "Well," Skewer mused, "I guess now I'm at one with all alternate timelines, too. I always said this town was crazy enough to support time travel." Bonkers grinned. "You know what caused this?" Skewer nodded. "I think so. Now that we know where DuPrave's HQ is, we should move in-- but carefully. We'll have to draw her out before we can move. And you, Sergeant--" Skewer caught himself, looking at Bonkers' outfit, "*Officer* Bobcat, are the bait." PART THE FOURTH It was several hours before Dennis, Stark, Skewer, Sender, Bonkers and Miranda had made it into the sewer, close to the location where DuPrave's hideout was supposed to be. "So everything Bonkers said was true?" Miranda asked Skewer as, in the background, Bonkers was getting a huge rope tied around his waist. "Correct," Skewer replied. "Somehow, DuPrave has messed with the very forces of time itself. She's created a world in which toons never existed to give joy and happiness to the public. A world where everything is dark, dismal and depressing-- where stress is at an unimaginable level, and there's nothing funny to look forward to in the world. Kids grow up thinking there's nothing more to life than what they see in the sideshow circus of early morning talk-shows. Nobody's creative anymore. Nobody laughs." In the background, a huge crane lowered, and Bonkers began attaching the other end of the rope around his waist to it. "A city with no hope," Miranda said flatly. "Exactly," Skewer said slowly. "By taking away our toons, DuPrave took away our dreams, locked us into narrow ways of thinking that didn't allow for the strange, wacky, unpredictable things in life. Life became boring, a chore to get through, instead of an adventure. You look up into the night sky and see a big black hole instead of the wonder of the stars and moon. A world without toons like Bonkers is a sad world indeed. It's--" "--Yoo hoo!" Bonkers yelled from a distance. "I'm ready!" "Can't you see I'm trying to effect a solioquy here!?" Skewer shot back. "Ooh, sorry." Bonkers waved his hands. "It's too late now." Skewer shook his head and walked over to the crane. * * * "You're delirious," Lucky snorted. "Will you quit it, Piquel?!" Grating growled. "I don't care whether you believe me or not, I'm telling you that I know who those guys are! I've seen them before! They're toons, just like Bonkers!" "Since when did you become an expert on toons?" Lucky demanded. "Believe it or not, you're one too!" Grating snapped. "In fact, you work with one all the time over at the FBI!" "What *have* you been smoking?" Lucky asked. "I think you drank too much sludge out of the cooler this morning!" "I'm a police *Captain*,' Grating scowled. I got promoted yesterday!" "When I wasn't looking, right?" Lucky said, rolling his eyes. "Look," Grating replied tiredly, "After I tackled Bonkers, it all came back to me. I dunno what the heck is going on, but I'm willing to bet those two have something to do with it." "You would be wrong," replied The Brain. "In fact, it was we who saved your lives." "Narf!" chimed in Pinky. "With your giant robot," Grating replied dryly. "And I suppose it was out getting some fresh air and sunshine!" "Fresh air, Sunshine... lollipops--" Pinky began to sing, before Brain slugged him. "As a matter of fact," Brain replied, "Mr. Giganticus was recharging his solar cells, yes." "For what? An all night dance party?" "No!" Brain snapped. "To take over the world, of course!" "You two," Lucky chortled. "You little mouse-things want to take over-- heh, heh-- the world?" He began to laugh spasmodically. Grating growled. "That's why you took out all the toons and put your puppet DuPrave in power!" He went for his gun. Brain pointed to a melted piece of iron slag on the ground. "Really, Mr. Grating. Please try to be more polite to the two toons who saved your life. Allow me to explain what happened." Grating glared at the Brain. "Pinky and I had just finished assembling Giganticus, and were getting ready to conquer Latvia, when the Geiger counters in his spleen went off the scale-- it was as if a Nuclear bomb had gone off in the middle of the city. We took shelter inside and watched incredulously--" "I love that show!" Pinky yelled. "Ergh. We watched as the levels of radiation dropped back to normal. When we emerged, the city was a strange, different place. As far as we could tell, all the other toons had vanished from existence, and law enforcement was pathetic--" "Hey!" Lucky yelled. "--so we decided to take over this city instead. We were going to start by eliminating our competition." "DuPrave?" Grating asked. "Precisely." "Lemme ask you a question, since you're so smart," Grating began slowly, "what did this to LA?" "I would presume that someone has used time-travel to eliminate all toons worldwide and reduce this city to a state of chaos." "Time travel," Lucky snorted. "You expect us to believe that?" "Is it any more ridiculous than two talking mice with a giant super robot named Giganticus intent on taking over the world?" Grating asked. "Oh boy," Lucky exhaled. "It's turning out to be one of those days." "So why weren't you two affected?" Grating asked. "Two days before, we had been involved in an incident with a machine called the 'Reality Inverter'--" "Oh yeah," Grating said, things beginning to click in his mind. "How would you know about that?" Brain asked suspiciously. "Errr, Darkwing Duck told me," Grating improvised. "He said that it had messed up reality a little. So did it protect everybody who'd been around it from whatever did this?" "Very astute," Brain replied. "It doesn't explain how you're protected, however..." "Who cares?" Grating snapped. "Wait. What about Flaps? He was there too." Pinky absently pointed to a grey smear on the underside of Giganticus' left foot. "Well, we told him to stand clear," Brain said. "You two are deputies," Grating said quickly. "And so's metal boy here. We're going after Lillith DuPrave." "Agreed!" Brain said enthusiastically. "Not to take her out," Grating cautioned. "To arrest her. I think she's responsible for whatever messed up time around here." Brain frowned. "World domination is within my grasp! Why should I care about putting things back the way they were?" Grating began to realize that he had a small problem on his hands. Three inches small, to be precise-- and with the IQ of a dozen megageniuses to boot. "Why is it that lately I'm spending a lot of time in the sewer?" Grating asked himself. * * * "Is this your idea of 'carefully'!?" Miranda yelled as Skewer gleefully worked the controls on the crane, sending Bonkers forwards like a wrecking ball into the rear wall of DuPrave's fortified camp. "Heck," Skewer said as Bonkers slammed into the wall, "everyone's got to cut loose once in a while." "Dis is amout nat soulilokey, isn't it?" Bonkers asked as his teeth fell out from his mouth. Skewer responded by ramming him into the wall again. Lillith DuPrave shuddered again as her secret hideout shook once again. She would have checked on it herself, but she was too busy getting ready to shoot Speedy the Friendly Rabbit in the head. "What the devil is going on out there, Mr. Blackenbloo?" Blackenbloo shrugged. "I tink it is construhuckton on de street above." As DuPrave released the safety on her gun, and held it to Speedy's temple, the hideout shook even harder. "Go find out," she growled. As Blackenbloo left, DuPrave laughed. "At least no one will hear the shot." Speedy gulped. His eyes darted to the Time Remote, which was sitting atop a table near the spartan concrete block walls of the underground hideout. Then they moved up slightly, and he saw a crack forming in the wall. "Go, Bonkers!" Skewer yelled as Blackenbloo came outside, machine gun in hand. He jumped out of the crane's control area as Backenbloo sprayed it with bullets. DuPrave started when she heard the gunfire. Lunging for the remote, she grabbed it, curled into a ball, rolled across the floor and sprang back up, backflipping three times until she made it out a door in the side of the room. Speedy shrugged, still tied to his chair. "Who knew?" Bonkers, for his part, was forcing his way through the concrete blocks in the walls, squeezing himself almost into paste in order to make it. It was only when he was halfway through, and thoroughly, utterly stuck, that he realized covert action was impossible. "Melmph!" He muttered, hoping someone could hear him. Outside, Agent Sender was gleefully exchanging fire with Blackenbloo. Both men pulled out bigger and more powerful guns, and the entire sewer began to take sever structural damage. Skewer walked through the middle of the action, dodging bullets as he went. He was so busy concentrating on dodging them that he almost missed his target. "Skewer," DuPrave, said flatly. "Shouldn't you be out hunting hackers?" "I know something you don't know," Skewer said flatly. "What's that?" "I'm not the Eric Nelson Skewer you think I am." DuPrave started. "What--?" "You're going down, DuPrave." "What's the charge?" "Disrupting the time-space continuum for starters." DuPrave suddenly realized she was dealing with the Skewer who knew all about her criminal past in Hollywood-- the unchanged Hollywood. "I don't think so," she yelled, assuming the Dragon fighting stance. "Who knew?" Skewer asked, assuming a Drunken Fist stance. DuPrave leapt forwards, and Skewer neatly deflected her. DuPrave bounced off a wall and flew over his head in a neverending jump. She landed on the other end of the tunnel. "I studied Dragon Style Kung-Fu for ten years while buying up businesses in Japan!" DuPrave yelled. "What about you, police man?" "Oh, nothing special." Skewer levitated off the ground and hurled himself towards her, rotating as he went, slamming into her stomach with his feet. "I'm just a Zen Master." DuPrave got up and jumped onto Skewer's shoulders, launching herself upwards. She twisted in midair and landed behind him, kicking him forwards. * * * "MEMLMPH!" Bonkers yelled, becoming incredibly claustrophobic. * * * Inside DuPrave's hideout, Speedy was busy gnawing away at the last rope holding him when his incredibly sensitive ears heard a muffled plea for help seemingly coming from inside a wall. Chomping through the last of his ropes, he produced a toon bucket and paintbrush, and painted a tunnel into the wall. After nearly getting flattened by the train which rushed out, he reached inside and pulled out Bonkers. "You!" Bonkers said, looking at the almost-faded toon rabbit in scuzzy clothing. "I've seen you all over town, and now here, too?" Speedy shrugged. "I gets around, Bonkers." Bonkers frowned. "Where have I seen you before?" Speedy laughed. "I'm surprised ya don't reconize me. Your memories are wat kept me goin'. It's me-- Speedy!" "Speedy?" Bonkers began slowly. "Speedy the Friendly Rabbit? But last time I saw you you were a half-crazy robot-toon thing sucking the life outta all toons everywhere! You look good for a dead guy!" Speedy shrugged. "I looks different 'cuz Lillith DuPrave's cheap animators redrew me wrong. I was under her control for years, Bonkers. Doin' all her dirty work in Toontown. I tried to warn all of you da best I could." "What happened?" "She made me steal Von Drake's Time Remote. I thought I could use it to turn everything back the way it was, when we toons got the respect we deserve-- but she used it to create *this*." He waved around at the bleak surroundings. Bonkers was about to reply when the wall to the left of him exploded, and Skewer flew through it, smoldering and battered. DuPrave leapt over him, and it was all Skewer could do to bring his legs up, lashing them out and slamming her backwards. The Time Remote flew out of one of her pockets, and clattered to the ground as she fell down near the far end of the sewer. Before anyone could react, the wall behind DuPrave collapsed and a huge robotic foot stepped out of the debris cloud, slamming down. A faint crunch could be heard. Skewer, Bonkers and Speedy all winced simultaneously, muttering the word "Owwwwwwch." Mr. Blackenbloo and Agent Sender stopped their firefight, looked at each other, nodded, and began firing on the giant robot. The head of the robot flew off, and crashed in front of Bonkers. Blackenbloo took a second to divert his gun to the left, and any chance of a firefight concluded, he jumped towards the head. Suddenly, he lurched forwards as Sender jumped him. "Ever hear of Kevlar, freak?!" he yelled. They began to scuffle. Pinky and the Brain scampered out of the head, and went for the Time Remote just as Speedy, Blackenbloo, Bonkers and Sender did the same. Miranda helped Lucky and Grating out of the robot as it leaned over and fell backwards out of sight, through the hole in which it had entered. Lillith DuPrave slowly staggered up, cracking her bones back into place as best she could. She grabbed Miranda, and held a gun to her head. "All of you!" She boomed. "Give Mr. Blackenbloo the Time Remote, or Blondie here buys it!" Sender scowled, and turned to Skewer. "I just need one shot, boss." Skewer shook his head. "You're psychotic." Sender whipped out his gun and was knocked aside by Blackenbloo for his trouble. Blackenbloo turned to Skewer. "Ah yu gohing to dooh anyting to me, Mistah Kung Foo man?" Skewer shrugged. "You ever hear the song 'Kung Fu Fighting' by Carl Douglas?" "Noh." "It's catchy. Has a line in it about 'expert timing'." Skewer backed off. "You arh a wimpy person," Blackenbloo said, grabbing the Time Remote and taking it over to DuPrave. Skewer shook his head, muttering "Sometimes the key to victory is knowing when not to fight." DuPrave shoved Miranda over to Blackenbloo, and she grabbed the Remote, aiming it at Bonkers. "You! You started this," she growled. "Now, I'll finish you... for all time!" "Wait!" the Brain yelled. "You don't understand! The nature of reality itself is still unstable from experiments done with a Reality Inverter some days ago! Your repeated tampering with time may have exacerbated the damage! If you use that thing again, you could destroy us all!" "Really," DuPrave snickered. "I'm willing to take that risk!" She fired the remote at Sender. He ducked, and the Remote's beam slammed into Dennis, who flickered for a moment, became static-colored, and then vanished. "Didn't you hear him?" Stark demanded. "Don't fire it at anyone!" "It could have severe side effects on the fabric of reality!" "I just *did* fire it at someone, you idiot!" DuPrave yelled. Everyone looked at everyone else for a moment, muttering to themselves. "No you didn't", they mumbled at her and each other. "Your little Hacker friend, Dennis, I think it was." They all looked at each other. Finally, Bonkers, Grating, Skewer, Pinky and the Brain nodded. Miranda, Stark, Speedy, Sender and Blackenbloo shook their heads. "So," DuPrave nodded, "Five of you seem to be able to ignore the changes I've made. I suppose that means you five are the targets I should be most worried about." She turned to Blackenbloo. "Eliminate them." Blackenbloo pulled out an Uzi and aimed it at Bonkers and co. His finger squeezed the trigger, and a hail of bullets flew out of the weapon... PART THE FIFTH ...and towards the ceiling, since a piece of semi-detached brick had chosen that moment to become full detached and slam itself onto his head, causing him to fall backwards. Now, dislodged by the bullets, a hail of bricks and mortar fell on Blackenbloo, burying him completely. DuPrave pushed Miranda forwards roughly, rolling out of the way just as Spender opened fire on her previous location. "Hold your fire!" Skewer yelled. "This whole tunnel's become unstable. If we aren't careful, the whole thing could fall on our heads." "Thanks, Sender!" Miranda said, kicking him as she clutched her right shoulder. "You could have waited until I had gotten out of the way before turning into Rambo!" Skewer turned to Lucky. "Piquel, get Miranda some medical attention." "Excuse me," Lucky said slowly, smacking his chops and pointing at Skewer slowly. "I don't know you. Who the heck are you, anyway?" Skewer pulled out his ID. "I'm a civilian employee of the Department of Defense, based out of Fort Meade, Maryland." "N-NSA?" Lucky jerkily saluted. "Yes, sir! Anything you say, sir!" Skewer sighed and turned to Stark. "You there, you work for me now, remember? Take *ex*-agent Sender out of here as quickly as possible." "You can't do this to me, Skewer!" Sender yelled. "This isn't over! One day, you'll pay for this! You and that orange FREAK you protected!" "I doubt it," Skewer said glibly, "considering that our next step will be the elimination of this timeline and everyone associated with it--" He grinned. "--this means you." "I'll be BACK!" Sender yelled as Stark dragged him off. Strangely, Skewer got the feeling Sender was right. He shook it off and turned to Grating and Bonkers. "Just like old times, eh?" He quipped. "Captain, Sergeant-- you two go after DuPrave. Pinky, Brain, Speedy and I are going to figure out how to reverse this mess." "Yes, sir!" Bonkers and Grating left the tunnel. "Sorry, Secret Agent Man!" Speedy jumped up, tumbled backwards, and with his powerful rabbit's feet, knocking Skewer across the tunnel, and unconcious. "I need that remote to make things right for all us toons again!" "No!" Brain yelled. "You'll destroy us all!" "You know I'll do the right thing!" Speedy yelled as he left. "The last time I thought that," Brain yelled, "you ASSIMILATED ME!" "Point," Pinky was about to begin, but Brain clamped his mouth shut. "We've got to get to the remote before he does, or the whole *world* may be destroyed! Come, Pinky!" Brain and Pinky ran after Speedy. * * * DuPrave was moving slowly, the injuries she had taken in her scuffle with Skewer and under the heel of the huge robot-thing taking their toll. All she knew now was survival. That blasted toon Bonkers and his friends had interfered for the last time. If they got anywhere *near* her, she would finish them. She pulled her gun out from her pocket, but dropped it when she realized it hurt to even squeeze her hand around the handle of the weapon. She felt herself blacking out. The injuries couldn't have been *that* severe, could they? DuPrave dropped to the ground, the Remote now on the ground in front of her. She clutched it, and almost blacked out. There was only one way she could survive now. She began to reprogram the remote. She would cast herself outside of space... outside of time... where it would take an eternity for her wounds to finish her... where she would have an eternity to heal... an eternity to plot... The remote flashed, and she was gone. Grating, Bonkers, Pinky, the Brain and Speedy all made it to the remote at roughly the same time. "Wow," Bonkers said, pointing at the device. "It's just sitting here." "Yeah," Speedy muttered. "I thought somebody had been running away with it." "Someone was," Skewer said, coming up from behind slowly, "but I can't remember who." "This unit has been recently fired," Brain said. "We are in serious trouble. Reality itself may be on the point of collapse." "And it moight fall apart, too!" Pinky interjected. "I have a friend named Fallapart!" Bonkers chimed in. "You keep sayin' dat!" Speedy hissed. "But I don't see no difference! Nuthin' feels wrong!" "The Avalanche is silent until the pebble falls," Skewer cautioned. "Wat?" Speedy asked. "Don't use the remote," Brain cautioned. Everyone looked down at the shining, toony-looking remote control that had been the cause of all the trouble. "So, this is it," Bonkers said slowly, and overdramatically. "The moment of truth." Skewer nodded. "This little device holds the key--" "--to world conquest--" the Brain said, rubbing his hands together. "--to makin' things rite fer toons again--" Speedy mused. "--TO GETTING US BACK WHERE WE BELONG!" Grating yelled. "I don't wanna go back there!" Speedy yelled. "I don't wanna go back to a world where we toons are used for a year or two, then thrown out like somebody's bad laundry! You know what I mean, Bonkers! They fired you just 'cuz you weren't as popular as some stupid musclehead shoot-em-up show!" "All things have a beginning, middle, and end," Skewer said slowly. "All things *must* pass." "NO!" Speedy yelled. "I made it right once before! I can do it AGAIN!" Before anyone could stop him, Speedy had leapt forward and grabbed the remote. "Why didn't you stop him!" Grating looked at Bonkers. "You, with your cat-like reflexes?" "He's a *rabbit*," Bonkers protested. "He's faster'n lightning!" "Dey don't call me Speedy fer nothin'," Speedy quipped. He began pressing buttons on the remote. "Don't do it!" The Brain pleaded. Speedy responded by dropping an anvil on him, and one on Pinky for good measure. "Bonkers," Skewer said, drawing him aside, even as the Time Remote began to heat up, "Grating and I can't stop him. This is a toon thing. It's between you and him." Bonkers shuddered, having flashbacks of his confrontation with Chuckles, the last figment of Negaduck's personality. He'd barely gotten out of there with his fur intact. "I know you can do it," Grating said, utterly sincerely. Bonkers stiffened himself, and saluted. He then turned, and to the beat of martial drums, he walked towards Speedy. "I can't let you do this, Speedy." "We've been down this road before, Bobcat," Speedy began. "You beat me once-- but that was 'cuz you had help. This time, it ain't happening again." "Speedy..." Bonkers began cautiously. "Face it. Shows get canceled." Speedy growled. "WHY?! So that some stupid network suits can get filthy stinking rich off of new merchandising every 18 months? They don't even *try* to keep shows on the air anymore. I told you once, Bobcat, and I'm tellin' you again. We're all doomed to re-run land. They've got the axe of Damocles over all our heads, and--" "--that's sword," Skewer corrected. "HEY!" Speedy yelled. "This is between Bonkers and me, remember? Butt out!" "So whaddya gonna do?" Bonkers asked. "Run us all ragged makin' new shows for ever and ever and ever until our ink evaporates or sumthin'?" "I was a toon back in the '30's, kid." Speedy frowned. "All singing, all dancing. The world was happy. It was fun! Now, you've got these bizarre freak toons animated at what-- one frame a second-- passing for quality entertainment!" "Lemme tell ya something!" Grating yelled. "Those black and white toons were BORING!" Bonkers, Skewer, and Speedy looked at Grating. "Boring!?" Speedy yelled. "You watched cartoon when you were a kid?" Bonkers asked. "Black and White ones, too... wow, you must be older than I thought... wow..." "No, idiot!" Grating scowled. "I've seen repeats on the Dizzy Channel." "So you watched cartoons," Skewer pressed, smiling. "Yeah, YEAH! All right? I WATCHED CARTOONS when I was a KID!" Grating scowled. "Back then I didn't have to WORK with them all day. And lemme tell ya, as a kid, I just thought those Black and White toons were STUPID! I liked Danger Mouse, and Crusader Rabbit, and Underdog!" "You liked Underdog?" Skewer, Speedy and Bonkers chimed in. "Does it matter?" Grating sighed. "The black and white was just too corny. And the dancing and singing-- argh. That was the *worst* of it." Speedy spat on the ground. "Yer lyin'! When I was a star, kids *loved* my stuff!" Grating frowned. "When *you* were a star, My *dad* was a kid! Don't you get it? Tastes change!" "I'm NOT going off the air!" Speedy screamed. "And neither are you, Bonkers! I'll *MAKE* them keep us on the air! I don't want to live on in the memories of a few old people, or talked about only in the pages of some campy fanfics! I want to be OUT THERE every day FOR EVER! Lifetime contracts for EVERYONE!" Speedy slammed all the buttons on the remote at once. It lit up like a mini fireworks display just as the Brain crawled out from under his anvil. "He's started a global collapse!" the Brain yelled as a massive storm, a maelstrom of energy, began forming around Speedy. "Reality's structure is starting to give way!" "It's true!" Skewer yelled. He could feel it. Everything, including himself, was beginning to ripple like a reflection in a disturbed lake. "What can I do?!" Bonkers yelled. Only he, Speedy and the Remote were stable. "I can't see!" he yelled. The light from the remote was too intense. Skewer ripped off his shades and thrust them into Bonkers' hand. Bonkers pushed them on. "Get the REMOTE!" The Brain yelled. "Hit the RESET BUTTON on the bottom!" "Haven't we done this ending before?" Bonkers yelled. "It works for Star Trek, it'll work for you!" Skewer screamed. Bonkers leapt at Speedy, who aimed the remote squarely at him and fired. Bonkers saw himelf behind Speedy for a moment, then felt himself being pushed out of space and time itself. He was remembering everything now. About to get hit by a truck on the set of He's Bonkers. Fallapart standing in for him. W.W. Wacky firing everyone. The banner of Biceps Bill covering his own. Moving to a trailer. Helping Lucky save Donald Duck. Getting a new job. Stopping Fireball Frank. Getting a new partner. His first run-in with Lillith DuPrave. Captain Skewer joining the gang and making everone miserable. Fighting the Syndicate. Meeting Bela Lugosi, Houdini and Elvis. Grating's first visit to the Rubber Room. Fighting Speedy in a 20 foot high giant Bonkers. Chief Kanifky getting elected Mayor after running against a dead man. Skewer's promotion to Chief after stopping Shere Khan. Almost losing Fawn to the Eraser. Taking out Negaduck for the last time. But things were different now... W.W. Wacky had never signed that pink slip. He's Bonkers had become the #1 rated show in America, followed only by Darkwing Duck, and Transformers: Cardboard Because We Can Be. He and Fawn settled down, and made a life together. Bonker's life was great. In fact, all toons in Hollywood were as happy as they could have ever been. Animation was a thriving industry that ervyone wanted a piece of. He was a star again! Every now and then Bonkers would have unsettling dreams about a weird life in which he'd played some kind of cop, surrounded by a bunch of weird characters. But those dreams came less and less as time went on. * * * "Here's your next script, Mr. Bobcat," Jitters said nervously as he handed Bonkers some sheets of paper. Bonkers grinned, and took them. "Jitters, booby, babe-- what's the matter? You look like yer ice cream cart crashed inta a tree or sumthin'!" Jitters shrugged. "I can't take it anymore, Bonkers." Bonkers put down the scripts. "Whatsamatter, Jittola? You need sumthin' ta drink?" He snapped his fingers. "Tuddles, a Bananna Fizzy for Mr. Dog!" "N-no, Bonkers." Jitters handed Bonkers a piece of paper. "I'm leaving the show." "Why?" Bonkers got up quickly, removing his mirrored shades. "Did I do something? Did I make you mad? Look, whatever it is, I'm--" "No!" Jitters held up a hand. "It's not you... it's me. I'm tired of getting smacked into trees, folded, spindled, and mutilated every day of the week. I'm tired of the hot lights, fans invading my privacy, tabloid reporters, and W.W. Wacky pretending like he's my friend. It's been nine years, Bonkers. I want to do something else, something obscure, like maybe drive an Ice cream cart for real." "Aww, c'mon! You, drive an Ice cream cart fer *real*? That's about as wacky as me bein' a cop!" Bonkers shook his head. "Look, drink the fizzy, and take some time to clear your head." Jitters shook his head as Tuddles handed Bonkers the fizzy. Bonkers proffered it. Jitters shook his head again. Time seemed to slow as Bonkers sipped from the glass and smiled almost demonically, the foam dripping from his mouth, before tilting the glass towards Jitters and, almost in slow motion, saying "goooood... drrrriiiiinnnnkkkk..." and nodding. "NOOOOO!" Jitters ran out of Bonkers' mansion and down the street, barely avoiding getting hit by traffic as he made for Wackytoons studio. As he made it to the front gate, Jitters looked up at the huge sign with Bonkers' smiling face. It seemed to be hissing at him. He bolted into the studio past the guard and straight into W.W. Wacky's office. "Yessssss, Mr. Jitters?" W.W. Wacky smiled ingratiatingly. "What can I do for you today, my fine furry friend?" "I--" Jitters paused, and gathered his confidence. "I want to quit the show." "You want to quit the show," Wacky said slowly, but calmly. He turned to his yes-man, Wilburt. "Wilburt. He wants to quit the show." "Yes, sir..." Wilburt replied. "WELL, HE CAN'T!" Wacky roared. "Yes, sir." Wilburt assented. Wacky glared at Jitters, who shrunk under his gaze. "He's Bonkers makes me more money in an *hour* than Bill Gates makes in a *year*! And you're a cog in that machine, Mr. Dog. An insignificant cog, but one that serves a purpose, right, Wilbur?" "Yes," Wilburt nodded. "S-Sir," Jitters began, "I've served you for nine years--" "So?" Wacky frowned. "Bugs Bunny is over 50! So's Mickey Mouse! You toons will outlive most *trees*! And I've got an airtight contract that says you will serve me, my children, and their children, until they say otherwise! UNDERSTAND?!" "I QUIT!" Jitters yelled. "That's just it," Wacky yelled, leaping over his desk and getting between Jitters and the door. "You *can't* quit. If you try, I'll have you thrown in *jail* for the rest of your *un*-natural life!" Jitters crossed his arms defiantly, but inside he was quaking with fear. "See to it, Wilburt," Wacky said darkly. "Yes, sir," Wilburt said glumly. He dialed the police station. * * * "This stinks like a rotten tomato," Lieutenant Lucky Piquel muttered as he escorted Jitters to a holding cell. "There's a word fer what Wacky's doin'. It's called slavery." "But what can I do about it?" Jitters asked him. "I dunno, little guy," Lucky said sadly. "I just don't know. I'll talk to the chief for you, okay?" "Okay," Jitters said unconvincingly as Lucky closed the cell door in front of him. He turned around, only to find himself face-to-face with a huge, burly criminal whose name tag read "Wyatt." "You're blockin' my light," Wyatt mumbled. "Sorry," Jitters said, just before Wyatt started pummeling him. * * * "I-I don't like it any more than you do, Lieutenant, but I don't see what we can do." Chief Kanifky took off his reading glasses, and looked over at W.W. Wacky, who was standing in one corner of his office. "Mr. Wacky here has an ironclad contract-- unfortunately." Detective Miranda Wright stepped in. "That's crazy! No court on the planet would approve a contract like that!" "Oh, yes they would," Wacky chimed in confidently. "Face it! Toons are creations, made by us as commodities. They don't have the same rights as you and I do, and nor will they. Their job is to entertain us for as long as *we* want them to. Lifetime contracts for everyone, that's how it's done." "Get out." Kanifky said it fairly softly, but there was iron behind it. "Fine," Wacky said, "but remember, the toon stays in there until he agrees to come back to work." He stormed out. * * * Nobody was smiling on the set of He's Bonkers the next morning. W.W. Wacky was hovering over everyone, looking for the slightest hint of an insurrection. Little did he know he was about to get one. Bonkers stood in the middle of a toon street, mindlessly waiting for the big truck to run in that would splat him-- or more properly, Fallapart, his stunt double. It was the same gag he'd done a million thousand times before. He looked down at the street and saw the orange he had to bend over to pick up. Last week it had been a watch. The week before that an oyster. "Oh- look. A- spatula. I- had- better- pick- it- up-." Bonkers bent down to pick it up, but instead of the horn of a truck, he heard a massive explosion coming from the other end of the studio. "What is this?" Wacky demanded, as the smoke from the explosion cleared. "We've *had* it with bein' yer toys, Wacky!" Negaduck, flanked by about every other toon in the studio, stood defiantly in the hole he had blasted through the wall. "How many of you toons are with us?" Grumbles Grizzly, Fallapart, Tanya Trunk and some extras ran behind Negaduck. Fawn started to also, and Bonkers held her arm. "What're you doin'?" Bonkers asked. "What do you mean?" Fawn asked. "We're standing up for ourselves!" "They'll throw you in jail!" Bonkers protested. "'you'?" Fawn looked him in the eye. "You mean you're siding with Wacky?" "C'mon, Bonkers," Negaduck growled. "You're either with us, or against us. And if you're against *us*, then you're some kinda slime slurping scum." Bonkers nodded. "I'm with you!" He ran over with Fawn and stood beside Negaduck as all the toons cheered. "That's it!" Wacky bawled. "I'm calling the police!" * * * It was only a matter of minutes before the entire studio was surrounded by cops, each ready to open fire on the toons, but none wanting to. Chief Kanifky took the bullhorn, instructing Piquel, Wright, Grating and Stark to co-ordinate the other units. "Now- Now, listen," Kanifky began slowly. "YOU LISTEN!" Negaduck yelled. "We're not someone's servile slaves! We're toons! We're fabulous, funny, and most of all, FREE!" "You make us too much money to be free!" Kanifky looked around, confused. His bullhorn had been cut off. He waved Grating over. "Lieutenant, get whoever that is *off* this channel! Now!" It was too late. The voice of W.W. Wacky continued to taunt the toons. "You're all mine. Now, and forever. And if you don't go back to work right now, you'll all rot in jail for eternity." "YOU'LL NEVER TAKE US ALIVE!" Negaduck yelled, and a bunch of the most agressive toons began to attack police. Bonkers stayed still, and tried to kepe the others from bolting. He knew that this wasn't the way to win. "Hold your fire, everyone!" Kanifky yelled. He didn't want this to become a massacre. "We can't just let them run amok," Lucky yelled as a squad car flew over their heads and slammed into a building. "I will not open fire on toons who just want to live free!" Kanifky replied. "It's wrong!" * * * Leonard Kanifky hated prison food, even if it was the food from his own holding cells. The mayor had stepped in, declared a state of emergency, and locked up all the toons he could find. He'd also appointed a temporary Chief who was some kind of military type, and jailed all the policemen who refused to fire on the toons. The city was a warzone. "Grating," "Wild Man" Wyatt rumbled, looking his arch-enemy right in the eyes. "I'm gonna pummel you inta paste." All the cops in the large holding cell bristled, and got ready to take on Wyatt and the other human criminals in the cell. They knew a fight like this had been brewing ever since cops had been locked away with the felons they had arrested. "But not today." Wyatt and the other crooks nodded. "Why?" Miranda asked. "'Cuz nobody should be a slave," Wyatt growled. "Not nobody." He went over to Jitters. "Sorry, little buddy. Didn't know why you wuz here." All the toons, who had been cowering in a corner of the tank, relaxed a bit. "Here- Here comes the new chief now," Kanifky said with a breath of contempt. "He's the one who helped initiate martial law." The chief walked over to the cell, opening the door. "Come on, carrot top!" Wyatt yelled. "Lemme get a piece o' you!" "Later," the chief muttered in a monotone. "Just came down to tell all of you the situation's gone from bad to worse." He began to walk away. "Wait!" Bonkers yelled, running to the corner of the cell. "Don't I know you?" The chief pointed to the pair of mirrored shades Bonkers had in his pocket. "Funny. I used to have a pair just like that." As he said that, it all came flooding back, both to him and Bonkers, like a massive headache. "I've gotta stop the mayor!" Skewer yelled, running off. "We shouldn't be here!" Bonkers yelled out. "No kidding," Jitters said. "No, you don't understand!" He looked at Grating. "Captain, don't *you* remember?" "I'm just a Lieutenant," Grating snapped. "Who hates black and white toons!" Bonkers replied. "How do you--" Grating paused. Memories hit him like a ton of bricks too. "Bobcat's right," Grating said. "We shouldn't be here." "Aww, shaddup!" a two-tone toon yelled from somewhere in the crowd. "Can we do anything to set things right?" Grating asked Bonkers. "This is getting crazy! I've got memories from three different realities running around in my head!" Bonkers paced for a minute, then put his finger to his forehead, and began pacing again. Every now and then he would stop and point at someone, but then he'd resume his pacing. Finally, he stopped. "Everybody empty your pockets," he directed. Everyone complied, the prisoners supplying the most in terms of nail files and low grade explosives. None of the cops wanted to know how those had been smuggled in. "What's yer plan?" Grating asked. "I saw it on MacGyver," Bonkers answered conspiratorially. "First we empty our pockets, and then we make an atomic bomb out of paint chips, saliva and some chewing gum." Grating slapped his head. "Why do I even bother?" After looking at he vast array of odd knickknacks, Bonkers tried putting a few of them together, and actually ended up blowing a small hole in the wall. It was all the cops could do to keep the criminals from running loose. In the end, it was Tanya Trunk who used her girth to block the hole. None of the crooks dared challenge her. "You know, you toons are quite good at that," Kanifky observed. "Have any of you ever thought about becoming members of the police force?" "You'd be surprised," Grating muttered. Bonkers looked around at the mass of toons that had been arrested. He needed help. "Is there a doctor in the house?" he asked. "Me! I'm a Ducktor, erm, Doctor!" replied Ludwig Von Drake. "Professor Von Drake," Bonkers began, pointing at the parts, "can you make a Time Remote dohickey outta this stuff?" * * * "Think about it, Bonkers," Fawn said, holding his arm. "You'd be leaving everything behind. Fame, fortune... me..." Bonkers shook his head. "No, I wouldn't. There's a you where I come from too. I may not be a multizultimegaquadrillionaire, but things aren't that bad where I come from." "But we're all out of work..." "Look. All things have a beginning, and a middle." Bonkers forgot the rest of it. Grating rolled his eyes. "Look, stuff happens. Life isn't pretty for a lotta toons where we come from. But at least you're *free*." "It sounds like this thing could let ya go back and change whatever you wanted," Wyatt growled. "It could even help us escape the likes of you!" Wyatt rushed Von Drake, and the other criminals jumped in as well. Chief Kanifky and the other cops rushed in to stop them, and soon a brawl was raging. Von Drake managed to hand a small, crude device to Bonkers. "Push da button ta turn it on," Von Drake yelled. "How do I know where it'll take me?" Bonkers asked. "It'll push ya ta da weakest point in Schpace und toime! Dat vould be vere da main Time Remote thinhy vas being used... I think!" "Go!" Grating yelled as Wild Man Wyatt punched him in the gut. "Hurry!" Bonkers looked into Fawn's eyes and squeezed the button on the tiny time remote. He hoped Von Drake was right. A hole opened up in front of him, one that only he seemed to see, and he stepped through it, emerging behind Speedy, who was zapping him even at that moment with the Time Remote. * * * Bonkers tapped Speedy on the shoulder, and when the rabbit turned around, he hit him with a pie in the face. Speedy released the Remote, and Bonkers grabbed it. Speedy, blinded by the pie, staggered forwards, and fell into the hole that Bonkers had stepped through. It sealed behind him, forever trapping him in the reality he had so foolishly created. Bonkers looked to his left, at the wavy forms of Skewer, Grating, Pinky and the Brain. "Is there any way I can get things back to the way they were?!" He yelled. "Yes!" The Brain replied. "After you hit the reset switch on the remote, key in a combination code-- in numbers-- representing the co-ordinates, year, day, hour and minute you want to go back to. Then you can change whatever you want!" "Where-- when should I go?" Bonkers asked. "The bomb!" Grating yelled. "Stop the bomb!" "I don't know the co-ordinates!" Bonkers yelled. "118 North Longtitude, 25 West Latitude!" Skewer yelled. "I think!" "Do me a favor, Bonkers!" Skewer yelled, just before Bonkers pressed the large reset switch. "When you get back, there's a message I want you to deliver!" He yelled a short phrase to Bonkers which didn't make much sense to the toon, but Bonkers nodded. He pressed the reset button on the remote, and a hole blasted open in front of him just like it had before. He could feel reality cracking all around him, and the words of warning the Brain had said about the strain placed on reality rang in his head. He only hoped Skewer had been right about those co-ordinates. * * * Professor Von Drake and Chief Skewer burst into Mayor Kanifky's house. Both men were out of breath, and exhausted. Von Drake produced an arsenal of toon bomb-diffusing tools, and got ready to swallow the atomic bomb Chuckles had left, if neccessary. "Qvick!", he yelled. "How much toime does it say we've got on da timer thingy? How many minutes left? I'll need at least five... so, vhat's da number on da timer!?" Even as he ran towards the bomb, Skewer began to get a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. Every second was like an eternity to him as his feet pounded the carpet. He felt every sensation around him as he leapt over a small table and landed in front of the bomb, eyes telling him what his mind had already divined. "Zero", he said with a note of resigned finality. In his last nanosecond, Skewer wondered what it would feel like to be hit in the face with a nuclear explosion. A single drop of sweat fell off his brow. "It hurts," Skewer heard Bonkers say from the other end of the room, dangling a wire from his hand. "A lot." Bonkers tossed Skewer's shades back to him. "No kidding," Skewer said, remembering everything that hadn't happened to him over the next twenty-four hours. "Ouch." "What are we talkin' about, again?" Bonkers asked. "Never mind," Skewer replied dryly. "It's good to be back, Chiefy." Bonkers said happily. "It's good to still be here," Skewer replied with a smile. The sounds of gunfire were suddenly heard outside. With concerned looks on their faces, Skewer, Bonkers and Von Drake ran outside of Kanifky's house. The "gunfire" was in fact the sound of fireworks going off in the night sky. "Well, I'll be," Skewer muttered, lowering his sunglasses and looking at the fantastic spectacle, then at his watch. "For all that time-hopping we've only lost about 24 hours. It's just become the year 2000." Bonkers looked around, and saw Fawn Deer waiting for him at the edge of Kanifky's lawn. She walked over to him, standing alongside as the wheels of time turned around them both and a new year, century-- millennium started all at once. It was good to be back. * * * Reality flickered a little under the strain of the time travel, but it adjusted remarkably well, considering what it had been through. Any inversion it had suffered was probably minor. * * * "Darn static," Sushil muttered as he slammed a fist down on the top of his TV set. "I really need to get cable." THE END...? "Skewer!" Sender yelled. "It's not OVER! Not by a LONG SHOT!"