::Gadget Hackwrench walks onto the stage. Cheers erupt from the audience in appreciation. A few whistles echo from the crowd even though she's just wearing her normal jumpsuit and goggles. She approaches the podium and pulls out an envelope from one of her pockets. She sets the envelope down on the podium and takes a breath, ready to speak::
::A trap door in the stage violently opens up behind her. BANG! The trap door slams into the stage and Rat Capone rises up from its yawning depths. The audience yelps in surprise::
Gadget (shocked): Capone?! When did you get out of prison?
::The gangster rushes up and hooks his left arm around the blonde inventor's neck, squeezing tight. With his right hand, he pulls a razor blade from his pants pocket::
::A red-nosed chipmunk rushes on stage and points a finger at the criminal::
Dale: Hold it right there, you dirty rat!
::A rugged Aussie mouse and a brave fly join the red-nosed one on stage::
::Rat Capone takes a step behind Gadget, using her as a living shield with only his arms and head exposed. The trap door closes. He holds the razor up to her neck::
Rat (taunting): One false step and you'll be missing a team member, Refuse Ranger!
::The audience boos the gangster. Several males try to rush the stage, only to be held back by others. No one wants Gadget Hackwrench in any more peril!::
Gadget (bravely): Guys, just rush him! I'll be fine!
::The boys huddle together like an American football team. They whisper to each other and point to Capone several times::
::Meanwhile, the gangster rat's brain locks up::
Rat (mumbling): What are those mugz doin', the hokey-pokey?
Gadget: (mumbling back): I really don't know.
::Dale crouches into position, holding something between his knees::
::Monty crouches behind him and starts calling out::
Monty: Eighty-five! Ninety-two! Sixteen!
::Rat Capone's right hand drops down a little bit, showing he is completely dumbfounded at the tactics. Gadget fares no better, otherwise she might have enough presence of mind to escape::
::The rotund cheese connoisseur barks, HIKE!::
::Dale steps forward two steps and then stops. He stands up straight and spreads his arms wide as if blocking Capone from moving past him::
Rat: I'm not trying to get youze. You're trying to get me!
Dale (smirking): If you insist.
::Then, he ducks::.
::Monty hurls his payload forward like a missile. The missile begins to beat its wings furiously and sticks out its fist. The envelope shifts on the podium. Too late, the gangster realizes that he has lost track of the smallest Ranger. Zipper flies right into Capone's jaw::
::The gangster's head snaps up, knocking him backwards and stunning him. His limp right hand releases its burden, which fallsto the floor::
::The sound of metal hitting the stage brings Gadget back to reality. She pulls herself free from Rat Capone and dives for the weapon. Snagging it deftly, she rolls away::
::The male Rangers all tackle Rat Capone and hold him firmly by the limbs as they drag him off the stage. The audience cheers and whistles in appreciation as the victorious heroes shout together, Rescue Rangers, away!::
Rat (whining): I want a rematch!
::As the group leaves the stage, a black-nosed chipmunk wearing a tuxedo, opera cloak, and fedora instantly becomes visible behind the podium::
Voice from the audience: Where did he come from?
::Chip picks up the envelope and begins to talk::
Chip: A great story has to include all of the key elements into it: characters, setting, conflict, and resolution. Each story has its own sense of style or 'flavor'. Some are romances, some are dramas, some are action stories, and some are other styles entirely.
::Sweeping his free right hand towards off-stage he explains on::
Chip: What you saw was an impromptu scene that combined all of the basic elements into a successful story. Right now, we are going to present the award to the author who has written the best story during this past year. The story has to be agreed upon by the majority of the author's peers to be a work that is complete and well-formed.
It must be a work that is not just 'good', but 'great'. A romance must evoke sighs. A tragedy must tug at the heartstrings. A suspense must make the reader feel tension. This work is awarded 'Best Story' by the Acorn Cafe as a whole. The nominees for this coveted award are...
Tears for the Devil by Bubbles’ Big Brother
The Trials of Cooking by nutsforbrains
Time Waits for No One by Mayhem
Burden of Honor by L. Cranston
Return to Destiny, RangerReady
Gadget’s Most Excellent Interdimensional Adventure by Stainless Steel Rat
'Tomorrow' Is For 'Never', by Gyrotank
Diamonds in the Desert by
::With a flourish, Chip uses his letter opener from his cloak to open the envelope and reads the paper::
Chip: Voted by the population of the Acorn Cafe, the 'Best Story' of the past year is...Awakening!
::After the announcement is made, Mr. Spumoni trots up to
the stage amid the applause and cheering and takes his place behind the
Mr. Spumoni: Hey everyone! Zap and I are so pleased that you voted --
::He realizes that Zap is not on stage and searches the crowd for him. He then runs off stage and returns with a very stunned squirrel in tow and goes back behind the podium::
Spu: As I was saying, Zap and I are thrilled that you all thought Awakening was worthy of the honor of Best Story of 2008 to be bestowed upon it, right Zap?
::Zap stares vacantly in stunned silence. Spu waves a hand in front of the squirrel's face and turns back to everyone::
Spu: He's ecstatic.
::The crowd laughs and Spu snaps his fingers in front of Zap's face and tries other means in an attempt to bring him back to reality. Spu continues to speak::
Spu: It was a real pleasure working on Awakening, I was only too glad to edit it for Zap when he asked me before he started publishing it. Of course, being upgraded from Editor Incognito to Uber-Editor and Coauthor didn't hurt my ego any.
::He winks and the crowd laughs appreciatively::
Spu: Would you like to say anything, Zap?
::Spu appears pensive for a moment, then reaches around and starts moving Zap's jaw and makes an attempt to throw his voice::
Zap: I sure do, Spu! I'd like to thank everyone who thought Awakening was worthy of this prestigious award, it's a real honor! However, I don't think this would've been possible without the hard work of Spu here, he really made it a lot better! He's one cool editor and coauthor!
Spu: Aw come on, Zap, I didn't do all that much.
Zap: Don't be modest, Spu, you're like ten kinds of awesome all rolled into one package!
Spu: Well now, I'm not going to -- oh...looks like our good Doctor is starting to get a bit impatient with us, so I guess we better say thanks and get back to our seats. Anything you want to add, Zap?
Spu: Well said, Zap, well said. Thank you again, everyone, it's been a real hoot!
::Laughter and applause fills the auditorium as Spu exits stage right with both the squirrel and award in tow::