The further adventures of those adult nephews.
To the chorus of cocking guns and released safeties, Huey and Kit stepped down onto the iron floor of the Hangar.
The insides of the Iron Vulture betrayed the sheer age of the vessel. If Huey knew his aviation, and he was sure he did, this airship or one very much like it stood in direct opposition with the Sea Duck on many occasions in the days when it was used as a pirate vessel.
All around, however, were the trappings of modern aviation. Fighter jets lined the walls, compact and shiny, covered in speed and firepower, ready to give any fleeing airplanes the fight of their lives.
Huey's hands travelled up to lift the goggles up from in front of his eyes. "Well, some welcome wagon."
"Behave, Little Breeches. Best behavior," said Kit as he walked around the nose of the yellow bird."
The crowd of S.I.L men, each dressed in a uniform more naval than air force, parted in the middle, revealing a smartly-dressed officer, a rust-colored coyote, holding a custom service revolver with flowing, flowery Art Nouveau patterns etched into the stock and barrel.
"Ah, We meet face-to-face," The Commodore began, "Kit Cloudkicker: Former known Sky Pirate; allegedly reformed and living on that useless dot out in the middle of the ocean."
"I was eleven years old for crist's sake."
"It does not matter. A dark spot on one's permanent record is just that. Permanent, you see, yes?" He then raised his revolver towards Huey, "And you I do not know. If you are smart you will keep it this way, yes?"
Huey nodded, the back of his head prickling with the desire to go check out whether or not the cargo will compromise them.
"If you will please me, please to step away from your beautiful bird, please."
Huey and Kit walked on away from the Sea Duck.
"I suppose," Kit began, "You'd like to see a sample of the cargo."
"Smart too. Alright. Lower the guns fellas." The men obediently did as they were told. Kid then pointed towards Huey, "You, whats-his-face, bring me something. An' no funny stuff. Rand?" A stocky-looking dog in a sailor-suit went rigid in a salute. Huey was sure he could hear the stiffness. "Go with him. Make sure he doesn't try nothing, yes?"
"Yessir!" Rand sounded british, not that Huey cared much.
With hands up, the Duck stepped back into the passenger-side door of the Sea Duck, followed by Rand. The two other them walked into the cargo hold, and Huey very quickly set to work. He took a crowbar off the wall and gave a little prayer that what was in there was just melons. Placing the wedge between the top of the crate and the rest of the box, Huey gave a tug. Soon, the nails gave way and the top was exposed, revealing a collection of lime green melons.
Huey took one in his hands and, using the wedge of the crowbar as a makeshift knife, made a small cut in the rind. Rand waited patiently as he did this, figuring checking inside the melons was probably a good idea. Huey very soon had enough of the rind cut away that he could lift a section out. Grabbing the juicy section in his fingers, he lifted it up.
Within, he saw the shiny surface of a balloon filled to capacity, as well as a small hole where it had been nicked by the crowbar, where it leaked thin white powder.
"Err... this one's rotten. Could I get another one?" Said Huey, hiding the hole from Rand.
Rand took a bit too long to think of an answer to this, finally coming up with, "No," when he couldn't think of anything better.
"Ah... alright." He turned, his mind racing, towards the cargo entrance of the plane, and reached for the switch to open the doors.
"Shouldn't you open the door, Rand? You're the one in charge here."
"Uhhhh," and a few more 'haiches' besides, "you really think I should?"
"I would," Huey insisted, his fingers rubbing over the contraband casaba.
A Spanish-inflected voice called from outside of the plane, "Are you two finished in there?"
"Better open it up. The officer is calling," said Huey.
Convinced, Rand walked up and pressed the button. The cargo bay doors positioned underneath the tail of the Sea Duck split and began to open. Soon, there was a walkable ramp created.
Rand smiled and looked back at Huey, getting a face full of cocaine and melon juice for his trouble. Startled, he yelled and toppled backwards, firing his rifle into the air harmlessly. The large, snowy body of the dog barreled into a set of soldiers holding guns, sending them packing like so many dominoes.
By the time Commodore Kid had realized what was happening, the Seaduck's ramp had closed and the engines were starting.
"Stop him! Aim for the cockpit! Shoot to kill! Shoot to kill!"
"Oh kid," said Kit under his breath, "What are you doing?"
The cracks of rifle fire mixed with the noise of the spinning propellers. Cracking glass answered, and Kit couldn't look as one S.I.L officer climbed up onto the nose and reached inside with his rifle, firing on the unseen Duck inside.
"Huey. Too bad. Good name for a guy, yes?" said the Commodore, "Now then, I'm sure what my private is covered in ain't sugar, buddy, yes? Kit Cloudkicker, I would like for you to come with..." A loud siren sounded off, "...me?"
All of the men standing around the scene were nearly swept off of their feet by the sudden wind that whipped up around them. A few, near the hangar doors, toppled out in surprise and fell to their deaths. As soon as their furs and feathers had finished ruffling, The Commodore was yelling at everyone around him.
"Close the hangar! What are you idiots doing?"
Kit looked onto where he knew the hangar door controls to be and saw Huey, head low, sneaking back towards the planes. Kit averted his gaze, pointing his vision towards an unrelated area around the exit.
Using his best Spanish accent, honed by years of practice making fun of the Pirate captain Don Karnage, Kit called out, "Get him you fools, he's going to the engine room. Get him get him get him!"
The disoriented S.I.L soldiers, used to following that accent, made a beeline for the exit, getting stuck in the doorframe two or three at a time. Kit began to run back towards the Sea Duck, followed by the cracks of a single gun firing.
"That wasn't me! Fools! Get them!" Bang! "They get away! Look!" Bang! "Get out of that doorframe you silly boys! Go! Get them!" Bang! Bang!
Kit, his legs burning from the effort, opened up the passenger side door, taking care to avoid the spinning blades. When he got there, he saw Huey doing the same, climbing into the pilot's seat.
The S.I.L men had finally worked out the origin of the mysterious order, and were bearing down on the already well-perforated Sea Duck. The wheels in the plane's belly spun, causing the great yellow bird to spin around towards freedom. It picked up speed, heading for the rapidly closing Hangar doors.
Kit yelled as he buckled his safety belt, "Don't you dare scream 'we're not gonna make it'!"
Huey, using one hand to lower the goggles onto his face, gave a grimly determined look through the gunshot-riddled window.
The Sea Duck moved closer, picking up speed and rising into the air slightly in the indoor hangar. Huey gave a yell as he hit the throttle, willing the yellow plane forward. The ever shrinking length of light receded with every second, until the Sea Duck was close enough for the Vulture to bite down and end their lives.
And then, they were clear. Nothing but clear skies greeted them all around. Huey, his hands shaking, his eyes wide and fiery, instructed the airplane on, back towards Louie's to settle this.
Kit, holding his heaving chest, looked over at Huey. "You're crazy. What's the big idea?"
"The big idea is this." Huey held up one hand and shook. Out of the white feathers fell a thin white powder, the residue from the thrown melon.
"You've got dandruff?"
"No. Louie's been playing us for saps. We're going straight over there and..."
"Woah, Huey, Little Breeches, I'm sure there's some reason..."
"Of course there is. Money. Money does some ugly things to people. Believe me, I've seen." He wiped his hand on his jacket, leaving the rest of the powder there, before replacing his hand at the wheel. "The Islands been on hard times for a long, long time. Nobody comes to the bar anymore except us. He's got a huge family. I'd almost understand if he didn't drag us into it."
"No. I can't believe... Louie's got principles. He wouldn't... He couldn't."
Huey reached out the window and adjusted the rearview mirror there, spotting on their tail three of the fighters, graceful hunting hawks of the skies, bearing down on them. "Don't relax yet, Old man. We got company."
The three fighter planes zoomed past the Sea Duck, moving through the air like fish through water, making the yellow cargo plane look like a hippopotamus strolling through a swamp. In perfect formation, the three fighters slowed their speeds, surrounding the Duck above, and to two directions below.
Their radio crackled to life, "Turn back," Said a voice, sounding rather bored, "if you do not turn around by the count of ten we will be forced to shoot you down. Do you understand?"
Kit seemed to have gotten over his shock at Louie's betrayal. He looked over at Huey and said, simply, "I got this. Scoot over."
"Now wait a minute, Old man..."
"Do you want to die or do you want to live? Move over or I swear I am crashing this bird into the sea."
Huey sighed and let Kit take his seat.
Kit went on, "Airmail drop. You understand?"
Huey blinked for a moment, but ten steeled his expression and nodded. He then went back into the cargo hold.
"10... 9... 8... 7..."
Suddenly, the Sea Duck jerked itself upward. The Jet directly above just barely got away from the bulky plane before it was jostled out of the air. Soon, the Sea Duck was rising up, up towards the clouds. Keeping pace behind the insufferably slow vehicle, the three jets followed its upward curve, firing their guns at the big yellow target.
Soon, the Sea Duck began to slow, not able to maintain such a steep angle for long.
The hangar doors opened. About twenty crates of varying sizes fell about out of the cargo hold, a few of the open ones sending melons falling in an unavoidable scattershot towards the three unsuspecting jets.
The first Jet, up front, tried to dodge one crate, and in doing so found its canopy shattered by the rapidly falling corner of another. On the impact, the crate opened, spilling wood splinters and busted melons mixed with cocaine showering over the stunned pilot. Compromised, he managed to hit the eject. However, the cracked canopy, held down and jammed by crate debris, failed to open, and his Body was sent crashing through the canopy glass, shattering it. As his parachute opened, he was unconscious, and not long for this world.
The second managed to avoid the crates, but not the melons. Splash! Poof! Cocaine water balloons obscured his vision. Not seeing where he was going, he dodged left at the shadow of what he though was a crate. This knee-jerk action sent his jet crashing into the first jet, still climbing without its pilot, causing both to go up in flames. The pilot was instantly incinerated in the ensuing fireball.
The third jet, wisely, terminated its climb, and began to descend. The crates and debris missed, and a few of the melons painted the back of the jet plane pure white. It was completely unharmed.
Before Kit could go too high and stall the engines, Kit pushed the controls down, terminating its own climb and leveling out. Kit could feel himself go light-headed from the difference in air pressure. He decided to descend.
All of a sudden, out of a cloudbank to Kit's left, the Jet jumped out. Kit yelled as he saw the gas-masked face of the jet pilot through the clear canopy of the jet. The machine guns blared as the fighter passed over the Sea Duck. Kit flinched, and took a moment to check himself before figuring out his next course of action. Unfortunately, a slight burning odor knocked him out of that.
"Kid! You still alive?"
"Barely, Old man. What's going on?"
Each could barely make the other out over the rushing air outside.
"One more on our tail. The Engine's on fire. It won't last long. Anything left?"
"Oh good! We can throw it at them."
Huey untied himself from the length of rope attached to the inside of the plane that had allowed him to drop all the cargo without dropping himself. He had noticed at the time, in passing, that it looked like the kind of rope with a handle that water-skiers used. Without time to ponder this, however, he took up the melon in his hands. The best pitcher of the Duckburg sandlot league was here to ride again.
No questions, not anymore. Louie's was just over the horizon, and if they could somehow shake this last guy, they were home free. Kit eased the Sea Duck down.
As the sea rose up to meet Huey's vision below, so did the jet lower down like a god of death out of the sky, both guns aimed inside the cargo hold, ready to shred everything inside. It was now or never. Huey took his melon, took aim, and pitched for his life.
The Jet, not expecting a ballistic weapon, didn't have the reflexes to dodge the flying fruit. Poof! Cocaine powder obscured the pilot's vision, causing a panic in the pilot, causing him to lower himself down further into the water. The nose went under, and the sudden drag caused the jet to flip itself around, the metal breaking apart, wings flying off, and finally, pilot, plane, and all, disappearing under the waves.
The Sea Duck's left engine began to stall, as Kit began to bring them in for a landing. Too fast, the bird approached, crashing its right pontoon into the wooden dock, obliterating the wood. The plane, it's right foot crippled, dipped onto its side as it slowed to a halt, just before a wing crashed into the front door of Louie's bar.
Naturally, after all that commotion outside on the dock, every man, woman, and child running Louie's bar had gathered in the front room to figure out what was going on. The resident mother on duty, a large-set orangutan wearing glass jewelery and a grass skirt, was running around trying desperately to gather the curious younger children and get them out of further danger. Louie, in his chair, sat uncomprehending, oblivious or uncaring to the strange noises and shakes coming from outside.
Crack! The door flew open, revealing the rough leather jacket and goggles of the duck, Huey, with the large, graying brown bear standing behind him, with a powerless expression of sorrow that refused to make contact with anything in the room.
"Where's Louie?" said the Duck, "I want an explaination."
The rattling sigh. "Issat you Baloo? You come to pay an old man his last respects?"
"Cut it, gramps, I know the score," The blood was rising up to Huey's face, turning his cheeks his favorite color, "what's the big idea, you trying to use us as mules?"
"What about mules, son?" A breath, "I can't hear so good out my left ear."
"I said," He then got right up in Louie's face, grabbing each arm of the rolling wicker-backed chair, "You used us."
Most of the men and many of the children began to approach, to defend the honor of their grandfather. A wrinkled, silver arm raised to stop them in their tracks.
The normally grey, jolly, ripe face of the orangutan was a wall of cool rage at this. Huey could smell the stale odor of a man past his prime, mixed with the breath tinged with betel and tobacco. The rattling breath was a cigar store in Huey's face, but he stayed with his face close, not even closing his eyes to the warm wall of a pant.
"Are you sure you're wantin' to come into my place and say that, cuz'?" A rattling breath acted as punctuation, "I been called a lot of things, in my day. Earned some of 'em too," rattle, "But saying I betrayed a friend as old an' true as Kit Cloudkicker. That's grounds for me asking you to leave the hard way. Know what I mean?"
After a moment of staring into the cloudy eyes of the Orangutan, Huey straightened himself up, "Kit? You saw the same thing I did. You tell him. I give up." He then walked over to the bar, where Orin still tended.
On Huey's approach, Orin seemed to shy away, and Huey couldn't blame him.
"Louie," began Kit. Stalled, he tried to start again, "Louie, I can't deny what the kid said. There was... Those melons... It was cocaine, Louie. Cocaine. I've known you to deal with a little bit of the unsavories when business was down, but..."
"Let me stop you right there, cuz'" Rattle, "I had those melons delivered to me by a trusted... Tee-ar-you-aich-ested... Source by a brother on another island. The only fellas to lay their hands on them were me," Rattle, "And my bartender, my main man Orin."
Huey's eyes went wide. He stared up at Orin, the red blush of rage returning to his cheeks, as the pieces all fell together behind that creased, red face. Orin, for his part, had the presence of mind to be looking elsewhere, his head and expression hidden under the usually never worn straw hat.
"If you accuse me you accuse my whole family. Even from a friend..." Rattle, Kit visibly cringed at the worked-up sigh, putting the old man one step closer to death, "...Even from a friend as good as you Baloo, I won't stand for it." He rose a hand, "These men will be leaving now."
Feeling a hand on his shoulder, Huey did not stop staring his knives towards Orin, who gave a demure look from under his hat before hiding again. Huey and Kit were both led by two of the larger primates under King Louie's patriarchy towards the exit.
"Nobody move!" called a voice as the door was slammed open for the second time in twenty minutes, "Under the jurisdiction of the S.I.L everyone in this bar is under house arrest, yes no?"
Kit and Huey both gulped visibly as the Commodore walked in through the door flanked by about ten S.I.L goons, and plenty more besides outside. Kit looked as if he was about to say something, but was cut off by those Spanish tones.
"Ah, ah. First fella to calls me Junior is charged with whatever I feel up to charging you with at the time." The coyote began to pace about the room, inspecting the miscellaneous collection of orangutans of all shapes and sizes. "Now. Mr. Cloudkicker and Mr. Duck I've caught up with. So does that mean that you are all party to this illicit ring of smugglers? Hm?" He rounded on the mother, who flinched her arms out in front of the children, "You, Madame?" He turned on his heel towards the two bouncers, who let go of Kit and Huey as they were skewered by the Commodore's speech, "Perhaps you two? Hiding pure cocaine in melons is bad enough, but you should have seen the fight these two put up."
With a calculating eye towards Huey Duck, the Commodore lifted his right foot up parallel to the ground, raised both fists up in the accepted 'fisticuffs' position, and began to swing his left arm like a pendulum while hopping up and down on his right foot, exhibiting a sort of exaggerated pantomime of a boxer getting ready to fight. He made mock-duck noises as he did this, causing Huey to begin to sweat in equal parts nerves and recognition.
The Commodore broke the strange dance and slapped a knee, laughing it up. "We-hell. Let's go. Everyone, in the airship. We haven't got all..."
The rattle stopped everything cold, "Now just you wait, son. There weren't no cocaine in them melons. I checked 'em myself."
"I'm begging to differ. Ein?"
A tall, thin dog with a round nose and steel eyes dropped a melon on the floor. It cracked open on the floorboards, splitting in half, causing the balloon inside to burst. A small, white dust cloud spread over the rough wood, settling into the cracks between the boards.
Louie looked at the settling powder, then up to Orin, pieces falling together one by one. He then stared at the Commodore and gave a simple statement, "My family had nothing to do with it."
"Now just wait one darn-tootin' minu..." Commodore Kid began to say.
"It was me. Not my family. Not those boys I roped into all this. It was me."
The room burst with activity. Each family member had something to say about this. Orin spoke the loudest. Insisting it was him. Never wanting this.
The crowd was silenced by another wave of the wrinkled hand, accompanied by the loudest thing Huey had ever heard the old man say, "I don't want to hear any of that!" Rattle, "I did it. One hunnerd percent me! Understood!"
Orin all but vaulted over the bar, loping up to his Grandfather, "No! No, I won't let you." He turned, "I'm the one. I did it. I stashed the Coke in the melons. It was me!"
The Commodore walked up and pushed the ape out of the way, "Kid, its way too late for that kind of heroics."
Huey cut in, saying with no small amount of smugness, "He can prove it."
"You say something, Duck?" Yelled the Commodore his hand raised to slap the beak to the other side of his face.
"No! Stop! I can." Orin fell to his knees, "Under my bed. All the tools I used. No prints on them but mine. Please, Mr. Kid. Please don't take away Grandfather."
The coyote gestured, sending two grunts up the stairs to search the bedrooms for incriminating evidence, he then turned his face back to the groveling Ape. "And how do I know he didn't just dictate for you what to do, yes? He is an old man, with feeble fingers. Perhaps he couldn't use the melonballer no more so good. Or perhaps he couldn't stick the pieces back on too right. Or maybe..."
Crunck! All eyes turned towards King Louie, with a pair of Araca scissors, slicing the hard nut into thin bits. He then took each slice with the precision of a watchmaker, and wrapped each one in a small, wide betel leaf, folding the green sinews as fine as any origami, adding just a dash of tobacco inside to taste. The hush over the room continued as he brought the paan, the mixture of nut and leaf, up to his mouth and began to chew with his red-stained teeth. He then noticed everyone was staring at him.
"Treat before you go, gentlemen?" he said, holding up a tray of the little folded proofs of innocence.
The Commodore stared at the tray, then at the little scissors. "Suits me. Let them go men. We're taking the kid."
Both Huey and Kit were pushed roughly aside as the S.I.L goons approached the young orangutan. Orin seemed almost grateful as his long arms were slapped into shackles. He let himself be let towards the door. He gave one final look back towards his family, each of them stunned and staring, with the sole exception of King Louie, who had turned his face away, enjoying the warming sensation of the nut. Orin's face fell, and he let himself be led, dejected, out the door.
Huey, seeing this last bit, decided to stand up, "Wait. Wait..."
"No no no! No last minute turns-arounds, Huey Duck," Snapped the Commodore, "You have a warning and a busted plane to show for this little run-in with us. Don't forget the little debt you owe the US government, yes?"
Stunned by these words, Huey looked down.
"Ah-ha. I have done my research this time, no? I do say. If it were my jurisdiction I would bring you in right now. Anyone breaking a law in my skies deserves punishment." Commodore Kid adjusted his hat. "Take care, Huey Duck, and watch out for the... how you say? Draft board."
With a derisive laugh, the coyote and the remaining members of the S.I.L, having attained as much evidence as they need to charge Orin with whatever they want. Soon, it was just Huey, Kit, and the orangutan family, beginning to retake some semblance of normality.
A hand clapped onto Huey's shoulder.
"Come on, Little Breeches. Let's go home."
The ride back was completely silent. The walk back into the shack of a main office was even quieter, with not even the roar of an engine to fill up the space in the air between the two.
Kit opened the door to Higher-for-hire, unconciousely looking around to see if any of the old guard were back yet, but of course they weren't. Baloo was gone. Rebecca was gone. Molly was off living in America, and all Kit had to show for them was a wall full of black and white photos of people and places he remembered less of each and every day.
However, today there was someone there.
Huey was the first to speak, "Who are you?"
"Huey, be kind. He might be a customer."
He was a tiger. The fur on Kit's neck ruffled as he sat at the old oak desk, usually the domain reserved for the former owner, Rebecca Cunningham, all those years ago. He had his feet up, revealing a set of very expensive Italian shoes, and the cuffs of equally expensive slacks. The impeccably cleaned and groomed appearance of the newcomer impressed upon Kit a memory of many years ago, when the Cape had an economy to speak of, it was all run by one man with cool demeanor and one eye on the bottom line. But how? He died.
"Close," The voice was practically the same. The tiger, much younger than any Shere Khan Kit had ever met, stood up slowly, brushing the accumulated dust of the office off of his duds. He then extended a hand out, an open invitation for everyone to introduce themselves.
"I am Farid Kagan, president of Khan Industries in Bombay; subsidiary of McDuck enterprises," He smiled, "My Uncle spoke very highly of you."