Break Eight--Favorite Ranger Fanfic Moments and Tammy on the Prowl

::The lights start to dim…::
Dr. Batorious (announcing): And now, some memorable selections from some of the well-beloved Ranger stories over the years. Internet viewers, you can watch along with us at this link .

::The audience watches the outtakes, laughing then smiling and even a few crying::

::The pizza toast tray flew in a lazy arc above the crowed buffet room, streaming tasty morals of tomato sauce, cheese, and six kinds of toppings gloriously combined on toasted bread.  As the tray completed its arc and started down on the unsuspecting crowd, large slices of pizza toast began falling off—one, two, three. Then seven more as all ten pieces slid off the tray and began splattering the people below, drawing cries of surprise and dismay::

::Tammy had cornered a young, brown squirrel who kept shouting for someone named "Aunt Slappy", to come and save him from the crazy girl who had started chasing him when he had donned his favorite bowler hat::

Tammy: That is sooooo, cute!

Skippy: Noooooo!

::The poor kid hid his eyes, not wanting to see his doom::

Slappy: Alright there, that's enough little miss estrogen. Drop my nephew.

Tammy: Huh?

::Tammy looked up to see a large gray squirrel in a shawl, a hat with a flower in it, and holding a
purse like she knew how to use it. Aunt Slappy grinned::

Slappy: Skippy's too small for you anyways girly, but I think I saw a certain fedora clad
chipmunk wondering around in the poolroom.

::Skippy found himself dumped faster than an ugly rent-a-bride::

Skippy: Thanks Aunt Slappy.

Slappy: Ah, no problem kiddo.

::Slappy turned for the door, Skippy in tow::

Slappy: But what possessed you to come in here anyway?

Skippy: The sign said, free buffet, so I thought I'd grab some grub.

Slappy (smiling): You're learning nephew. Well, as long as we're here…

::Slappy had started towards the buffet line, intent on the whole sale consumption of free sustenance, when the toast hit her square in the face. Meanwhile, Chip came out of the poolroom, likely amazed that an opera house would contain such a facility. He’d just rounded the corner when…::

Tammy (nearing, melodious): Where art thou Chip?

::Chip cringes, but before he could flee into the crowd, hopefully to be knocked unconscious, Tammy spots him::

Tammy:  Oh THERE you are!

::She slams the hall door behind her, brandishing mistletoe like it was among the more lethal weapons. The chipmunk in front of her wouldn’t have argued that point::

Tammy: I've been looking all over for you!

::His only path of escape blocked, Chip could only scream as Tammy pounced::

US Award for Best Short Story (we're in the home stretch!)

::Just offstage, 8-Bit Star and his creation Mademanna—an android in the guide of a young female human—are waiting their turn to face the cameras::

8-Bit Star: Time to go present some awards, kiddo!

::8-Bit tugs at Mademanna's arms, but the youngster is more than a bit unwilling::

Mademanna: No, I'm not going!

8-Bit: Sure ya are...

::Madamanna shakes her head furiously::

Mademanna: No! I get stage fright!

8-Bit: And you think I don't?! Now come on.

::8-Bit kneels in front of the cringing girl::

8-Bit: Ever heard this one? "I want to be the best, there ever beat all the rest yea that's my cause!"

::In between scared sobs she answered::

Mademanna: Electrode, diglett, nidoran, mankey...

8-Bit: Yea, catch 'em catch 'em gotta catch 'em all..."

::In tandem they sing the final verse::

Together: PO-KE-MON!

8-Bit: Ya feel better now, kid?

::Mademanna thinks about it for a moment::

Mademanna: Well... no. But I guess I'll go anyway.

::With that, they both walk up to the podium, the youngster holding 8-Bit’s arm, still a bit shy.

8-Bit: Greetings, my fans! I am 8-Bit Star, and this is Mademanna, one of my original characters (Be gentle, she gets stage fright). And we're going to tell you the names of some winners of the Golden Acorn Competition.  Our first category is Best Short Stories. The nominees are:

“A Matter of Mice and Bats”, by Kyle "Zipper" Calderwood
“Chip & Dale vs. Donald Duck”, by Indy & Chris Silva
“Dale's Decision”, by Justin Reese
“Dance of the Dreams”, by Jeff Wikstrom
“He Who Laughs Last”, by Chris "Malachite" Sweeters
“The Day Smart Became Dale”, by Indy & Rennod
“Paris and Paradise”, by Indy & Chris Silva

::8-Bit opens the envelope and passes the note to Mademanna, but her eyes are fixed on the crowd so he reads it himself::

8-Bit: So, to protect the world from devastation, the winner is ‘The Day Smart Became Dale’!

::Indy and Rennod take the stage again, the crowd waiting with the tomatoes to see if they would dare use lyric poetry again. Fortunately, the daring duo had shot their wad in one acceptance::

Indy: We're both honored that the first collaboration between the two of us earned an award tonight. ‘The Day Smart Became Dale’ was a joy to write, but I have to give most of the credit to Rennod. He was the one who came up with the idea, and really made the plot work. I was simply along for the ride, for the most part.

Rennod: Now, now ... a close reading will show your trademark style of dialogue throughout the work. I merely built most of the plotline and provided about half the humor.

::They wind up pointing fingers at each other and exclaiming…::

BOTH: **HE** did it!

::The presenter throws the trophy at them, which bounces off Rennod's head with a reverberating hollow *tonk* and lands in Indy's hands::

Rennod: Ow. Good thing there's nothing in there to damage.

::Indy shakes his head and grins toward the audience::

Indy: Uh, once again, thanks to everyone. It's an honor... really.

::Indy and Rennod share a pleasant moment with 8-Bit and Mademanna and head back to their seats::

US Award For Best Mystery-Thriller

::8-Bit and Mademanna resume their places at the podium::

8-Bit: *Phew* Mademanna, you think you can handle this batch?  I'm tired from last time.

::Mademanna’s eyes grow large and she shakes her head::

Mademanna: Oh no! You're the fanfic author here.

8-Bit: Yeah, but your the young, strong one.

::Mademanna tries to look innocent::

Mademanna: Umm... I'm not strong! 

::8-Bit gets her eyes off the audience::

8-Bit: Oh come on! Anyway, it's some airtime for you. Just do it. And remember, I'll search across the land, look far and wide, release from my hand the power that's inside...'."

Mademanna: Oh, all right...

::She picks up the envelope timidly, almost as if she really was a little girl with stage fright::

Mademanna: Ummm...uhhh....

8-Bit: Come on, girl, calm, cool, and don't be afraid to say silly things."

::Mademanna takes one more shy look at the audience and returns her attention to the task at hand::

Mademanna: Ummm...okay. The nominees for the Best Mystery/Thriller story are:

Claw&Antler: Small Animals Unit  Small Town Heroes, by Rennod
Cobwebs of the Past, by Morgan Kohl
Once Upon A Dream, by Loki
Payback, by Matt Plotecher

::She opens the envelope, then starts to head off the stage. Fortunately, 8-Bit was watching and herds her back::

Mademanna: Okay, and to unite all peoples beneath our nation, the winner of the Best Mystery/Thriller category is…oops, the winners ARE “Claw&Antler: Small Animals Unit”, by Rennod and “Payback” by Matt Plotecher. A tie!

:: Rennod rises, totally surprised. A few of the people around him shake hands and slap him on the back, and then it’s time for him to take his place up on stage. Before he can make it up, from stage left ambles Dominic, a wolf spider, smiling gregariously to the crowd and presenters. The applause is hearty, partly out of honest enthusiasm, and partly because he's higher up in the food chain than half the audience. He steps up to the podium, accepting the award with one hand, shaking hands with the presenters with another, and waving to the crowd and cameras with the remaining two. Rennod waits at the edge of stage left, politely. Mademanna shrinks back a bit, leery of spiders, and Dominic takes the podium::

Dominic: On behalf of Matt, I'd like to thank those that helped out with the story in one fashion or another. John Nowak, Roy Neal Grissom, Jeff Pierce, and Chris Barat all contributed in manners of inspiration, editing, or just as a sounding board. Also thanks go to those who have followed the CNDRR series for this long. The fidelity that you show is noticed and greatly appreciated.

::He nods once and heads off, and Rennod comes forward. Mademanna appears as leery of Rennod as she was of Dominic, but 8-Bit comes forward and shakes his hand. Then Rennod kneels down and Mademanna timidly shakes hands with him as well. Rennod stands and faces the crowd::

Rennod: Wow. I was wondering if this story would win something, but I wasn't hopeful. From the beginning this work's had a troubled road to follow. It was my first story I ever really finished and took public, as it were. I got a few positive comments and a lot of constructive criticism for it. After all, mixing the styles of 'Rescue Rangers' with 'Law & Order' isn't the easiest thing. It's nice to see the story proved more than just a first try. Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the story and voted for it. This makes me think my writing fanfics is definitely worthwhile. I'm very appreciative. Thank you.

::With a hearty round of applause, Rennod lifts his award into the air and heads off the stage. Mademanna is right behind, all too eager to leave the spotlight. 8-Bit waves to the crowd and walks behind the curtain with Mademanna::

US Award for Best Romance

8-Bit: Oh yea, I am SUCH a wild romantic! That's why I was allowed to present this category!

Mademanna: Ummm, 8-Bit? It means 'Romance' as in lovey-dovey stuff, not as in melodramatic or in having some historical basis.

8-Bit: Whatever. I love the love!

::Mademanna got a head start::

Mademanna: Anyway, YOU do this category. I'm running back behind the curtain now!

::8-Bit begins to sing::

8-Bit: And there's one-hundred and fifty, or more to see, to be a Pokemon Master is my

::Mademanna stopped, and sighed::

Mademanna: It's too bad we won't be able to do the full Team Rocket Dialogue.

8-Bit: Yea, but the part about denouncing the evils of Truth and Love while extending our reach to the stars above just wouldn't fit, would they?  Anyway...

::8-Bit turns to the mike::

8-Bit: Hey guys, it's time for the best Romance story category (hey that rhymes!). And now, playing up the angles of truth and love and extending their reach to the stars above, the nominees are:

“Dale's Decision”, by Justin Reese
“Death of a Comedian”, by The J.A.M.
“I Dream of the New Ranger”, by The J.A.M.
“Reservation Dogs”, by KS
“The Spy Who Loved Monty”, by Indy & Chris Silva
“The Untold Ranger Tales” (All Parts), by Indy & Chris Silva

::8-Bit watches as Mademanna peeks from behind the curtain, then opens the envelope::

8-Bit: And the romantic winner is The Untold Ranger Tales!

::The audience begins to applaud, while Gadget and Dale peek at the crowd from offstage left::

Dale: I can't go out there! There are people out there!

Gadget: Oh Dale, calm down! They're all our friends, after all. At least I think they are.

::Gadget leads Dale out on stage, Gadget wearing a modest but becoming white evening gown. Dale is wearing a tuxedo with his trademark polka-dot bowtie, and nervously waving to the crowd with his free hand as they reach the podium::

Gadget: Golly, best romance! It's a real honor for the ‘Untold Ranger Tales’, and particularly Dale and myself. I had no idea before that Dale was an inhibited artistic genius with a huge crush on me. And what surprised you, Dale?

Dale:  I think it was when I found out Flash didn't have superpowers…

::Laughs ripple over the audience::

Gadget: Uh no, dear. I mean what surprised you about me, that you learned in the course of the story?

Dale:  Oh, well, that you liked me as much as I liked you, and Monty being your dad.

::Gadget blushes and the crowd gives out an “aww...”::

Gadget: Golly, thanks Dale. And thank all of you, too! Bye!

::Dale waves again and runs off the stage, and Gadget gives him a momentary exasperated look. She shrugs and smiles to the audience, walking off with the award::

US Award for Best Drama

::A certain Texas prairie bat flaps over the stage and lands::


::The crowd echoes him, and Bedivere heads to the podium::

Bedivere: Well, let’s get this wagon train a movin’…where have I heard that before…now, I’m heah to shuck down the corn on who’s got a shot of winning the Acorn award for Best Drama. Buckaroos, I know all about drama! You get on a bucking prairie dog by the name of Death Wish, and you’ll find out about drama!

::The crowd laughs lightly, and he continues::

Bedivere: Well, no need to stretch this heah thang out. Like mah pappy used to say, ‘you don’t get ahead by talking their ears off’. So here’s the nominees for this right fine award!

Death of a Comedian, by The J.A.M.
Gadget In Chains, by Loneheart
I Dream of the New Ranger, by The J.A.M.
Once Upon A Dream, by Loki
The Untold Ranger Tales (All Parts), by Indy & Chris Silva
Sovereign, by John Nowak

::The stagehand brings him the envelope, and Bedivere rips it open::

Bedivere: Get those lungs some air in ‘em, you old jaguar! It’s Death of a Comedian!

::At that, the jaguar suddenly jumps from his seat and hollers::


::He runs down the aisle and up the stage, while the band plays “In My Arms Again”. He has his arms raised in victory, and his fists closed as he continues hollering to the sky. Finally, he calms down, and takes the award. He takes several deep breaths, kinda chuckles a trifle, and finally speaks with his deep voice::

J.A.M.: Um, you know, if ‘Rhyme and Reason’ had also been nominated for this category, I would have voted for that one instead…um…

::The audience claps mildly for a moment, and he continues::

J.A.M.: Golly, I guess I have to thank most of all Roy Neal Grissom for practically *begging* me to write a follow-up to the first ending of ‘Let’s Suppose Chip & Dale Behaved Slightly Differently After The Kidnapping’, and suggested that Foxglove sing a song to Dale when
she came back.

::J.A.M. waves to Man-Child, who shrugs as if to say “no biggie”::

J.A.M.: When I started out in May 1998, the handwritten outline was one page long! Then, I heard several songs, and decided to include them in the story, and so it grew and grew, and.golly!! It practically ran away with me! Well, I’d also like to thank John Nowak for his merciless editing, everyone who was able to give me musical info, The J.A.D.I.’s father for letting me use his computer and basically *rescue* the story, because there was one time when I only had it on floppy disk and had no computer on my own and the disk got *damaged*, but thank God I was able to rebuild the file. Wow!

::The audience claps in response, many other authors having come that close one time or another::

J.A.M.: Thanks to Kevin Sharbaugh for the last-minute Mohawk names, Chris Silva, Indy, Natasha Kashefipour for going through land and sea and wind and tide to get the info I requested, Wescott, Ruslan for his Clarice pics, David Junker, Q, Matt Plotecher, Chris Birkett, the creators of Winamp and whoever invented the MP3 format, without whom I would have worn out three audio and video tapes, and a walkman might have also laid down its life for
this story…

::The audience chuckles::

J.A.M.: The creators of that MacIntosh version of ‘Notepad’, the creators of ‘Tex-Edit’, the creators of MSWord, and CD for giving me that correction on the songs ‘Little Girl’ and ‘My Destiny’, and thanks to everyone who voted for me! Also, I wanna give a special mention to
all the other stories here, especially ‘Untold Ranger Tales’, and ‘Sovereign’, which are excellent works in their own right. Thanks a lot you guys, and be there will be more fanfics coming from me, as soon as I finish my Tiny Toons ones! ¡¡Gracias!!

::With that, he holds his award on high and leaves the stage as the audience cheers. Bedivere waves his hat, whoops it up again, and flies off the stage::

US Award for Best Action-Adventure

Dr. Batorious (announcing): And to award the Golden Acorn for Best Action/Adventure we have...Pinky and the Brain?

::Two white lab mice come out, much to the confusion of the crowd. They walk behind the podium::

Brain: Greetings, Rangerphiles. You know my assistant Pinky and myself quite well, I trust. Some of you are aware that we appeared in a crossover with your esteemed Rangers. I am informed that Indy and Chris Silva have written several other crossover adventures with us that will appear in the near future. So, we are here as invited crossover guests to present the next award. Isn’t that right, Pinky?

Pinky:  Right, Brain! Narf!  I'd like to thank the Academy for this Oscar for best director; it was hard work, but it was worth the effort.

Brain: No Pinky, we're here to *present* the award. And it’s an Acorn, not an Oscar.

Pinky: The acorn’s named Oscar?

Brain: No Pinky, the acorn’s named…that is, the Oscar’s named…oh, forget it!

Pinky: Okay Brain, I’ve forgotten everything. Uh, what is it we’re doing here again?

::Brain looks at the shiny gold trophy, and his eyes light up in inspiration::

Brain: Of course! If I could win an award that garnished me this kind of acclaim, I'd have international standing! People would be calling me from everywhere to do 30-minute infomercials. Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Pinky:  I think so, Brain, but wouldn't people like to win awards that feature the rest of the cast of the Odd Couple? 

Brain: Your predilection for viewing televised twaddle amazes me, Pinky. No, I speak of glory and fame that will allow me to rise to power, and then I will TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

::Brain looks out into the audience, who doesn't seem very impressed. In fact, several of the more power-hungry souls are positively growling::

Brain: Okay, moving right along. The nominees for tonight's award are...

Claw&Antler: Small Animals Unit -- Small Town Heroes, by Rennod
Once Upon A Dream, by Loki
Ready... Aim... FIRE!!!, by Morgan Kohl
Reservation Dogs, by KS
Sovereign, by John Nowak
The Times of Their Lives, by Indy

Pinky:  Elvis Presley for best hair and Pat Buttram for lifetime achievement!

Brain: Truly, you have a touch on the heartbeat of popular culture. Hand me the envelope, Pinky.

::Pinky hands him an envelope::

Pinky:  Here you go, Brain.  Look, Ed McMahon says you may already be a winner!

Brain: I hardly think that encouraging. Now, to identify the winner!

::Brain opens the envelope::

Brain: Our winner is Indy, for Times of Their Lives!

Pinky:  Whose lives, Brain?

Brain: Happier ones than ours, Pinky.

::The music from “Raiders” plays, but it isn’t Indy that comes out. It’s Basil of Baker Street, replete in his deerstalker hat and Inverness cape. The crowd applauds approvingly, and Basil nods gentlemanlike as he approaches the podium, then removes his hat and bows::

Basil: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Indy asked me to accept this award on his behalf, since I was partly responsible for the story’s inspiration. He told me that he’d wanted to write a story that combined the Rangers and myself on an epic scale, and with a few happy accidents he achieved the grand story that you all know.

::The crowd applauds again, and Basil signals for silence::

Basil: The challenge was certainly a great one—a villain every bit as dangerous as the odious Professor Ratigan, who used time itself as a weapon. I must confess, his reappearance at this ceremony brought back some rather unpleasant memories. I’ll never forget seeing those giant robots built in his image, razing the town. It makes me glad to know that such heroes as the Rangers are around, keeping the peace.

::The Rangers stand up at Basil’s insistence, generating a long round of clapping from the crowd::

Basil: And rest assured, my friends. If this nefarious fellow tries to undo what we have done, I will not rest until whatever evil scheme he has is brought to naught! Thank you, one and all!

::The crowd stands, cheering Basil off the stage as he carries off the award. Pinky and the Brain watch as Basil leaves, then the Brain faces the cameras::

Brain: Elect me as your only leader, and I will rule with a wise and knowing hand!

Pinky:  But wouldn't ruling with a wise and knowing brain work better?  I mean, you've always told me you have more brains in your little finger than I have in my head, but you'd probably need a lot more brains than could fit in all 8 fingers combined.

::Brain gives a "why me" look to the cameras and trots off the stage. Pinky makes a few silly faces and runs off as well::

US Award for Best Comedy

::A squat bespectacled human with red curly hair comes out on stage, wearing a white lab coat. For a moment, the Rangers gasp, but then they realize it’s not Norton Nimnul, but his nephew Normie. But they only relax for a moment::

Normie: Oh boy, defenseless little animals!

::As one, Widget, Monty, Bedivere and Dee converge on the human, giving him first-hand knowledge that they aren’t exactly defenseless. A few bumps and bruises later, the ne’er-do-well child begs for mercy and the group backs off::

Normie: Okay, okay! Can’t you take a joke? The Rangers said I could come as long as I behaved!

::The crowd relaxes a little, but only a little::

Normie: Okay, I’m here to present the award for Best Comedy. I love comedy, especially when it involves torturing defenseless little ani—

::Normie stops when he sees Widget crushing a mock-up of himself::

Normie: Guess it’s true; you do have to play to your audience. Well, the nominees for this award are:

Brain vs. The Rangers, by Indy & Chris Silva
Mind Media, by 8-Bit Star
Mind Media 2, by 8-Bit Star
Rangers-Animaniacs, by Indy & Chris Silva
Roaches, Hamsters, and Ladybugs, Oh My!, by KS
The Day Smart Became Dale, by Indy and Rennod
The Rescue Rangers and the A-Team -- Dale on the Jazz, by Indy & Chris Silva

Normie: And now, the winner…it’s Rennod and Indy for The Day Smart Became Dale! Oh, I wish I’d won something!

::Gadget checks Dale's tux over one last time before they are called out to accept their award::

Gadget: Golly 86, isn't this the most exciting thing you've ever been to? Look at all the people and the celebrities!

Dale: You're right, 99.  This has got to be the second biggest awards ceremony I ever saw!

Gadget: Really? What was the biggest, then?

::Dale thinks it over for a moment::

Dale: You know, it's never come up...

Announcer: And now, Agents 86 and 99, or should I say, Gadget and Dale!

Dale: Well, here we go..

::Dale trips and falls through the curtain, getting wrapped up like a mummy::

Dale: OOooppss!  Off!  Urk!  Ack!


::Gadget quickly parts the curtain and runs to help Dale up::

Gadget: 86, are you okay?

Dale: I'm fine, 99. Just get the Emergency Agent Theatrical Extraction Reamer (E.A.T.E.R.) towork on this curtain, wouldya?

Gadget: Yeah, it should have you out with no problems!

::Gadget brings out the E.A.T.E.R., which activates with a whirrrrrrrrrr. Dale is freed within moments::

Dale: Thanks, 99

::Dale stands up, and after a moment the audience begins to laugh::

Gadget: Oh, Dale!

:: Dale looks down to find the E.A.T.E.R. has not only shredded the stage curtain, but that in freeing him it also turned his tux into cole slaw::

Dale: Uh, heheh... um, Sorry about that, folks...

::Dale does a "fig leaf" pose and tiptoes to the podium, hiding behind it. From the audience, an exasperated chipmunk stands up::

Chip: Agent 86, what's the meaning of this? That's no way for an agent to appear on worldwide television!

Dale: Hey, what's with the toupee, Chief?

Chip: *gulp* uh,, what toupee, 86?

::Gadget elbows Dale in ribs, reminding him there's an AWARD to accept here::

Dale: Oh, yeah, right.  Thanks, 99

Gadget: Sure thing. (under her breath) Give me strength…good evening, everyone! Agent 86 and I are here to...

From the audience: Meow, meow!

::The spotlight turns on two felines, one of whom bonks the other::

Fat Cat: Shtarker, vhat are you doing!

Meps: I was making with the cat-calls, boss!

Fat Cat: Zees is KAOS! Ve do not do cat-calls here!

::The audience settles down and Gadget begins again::

Gadget: Agent 86 and I are here to...

Dale: Uh, Chief, did you want us to go capture those two? Because if you do, it's overtime, since we're off the clock...

Chip: Just read the acceptance speech, Smart, before I burst a blood vessel!

Dale: Ok, fine (loud *pop* is heard)...uh oh...missed it, by that much.

Gadget: Don't worry, he's got his Secret Agent Vessel-Popping Kit with him. I gave it to him before the ceremony. Anyway folks, we're grateful for this award and that you voted “The Day Smart Became Dale” the best comedy for this year's awards. Any final words, 86?

Dale: On behalf of the authors, who are out on assignment, we would be honored to accept the trophy in their stead.

::Dale picks up the trophy and starts heading off, to the crowd's mixture of applause and laughter at his shredded attire::

Gadget: 86, I must admit, you carried that off with real panache.

Dale: And loving it! Um, what real pen ash was that, 99? It wasn't my secret agent missile pen, was it?

::Gadget sighs and leaves the stage, with Dale checking the remains of his tux for his pen. Normie eyes the next trophy greedily as it’s brought out, but one look from Widget and Monty dissuades him and he heads off stage::

US Award for Best Round-Robin Contributor

Hawnurra (to himself): OK, take a deep breath. There's no reason to be nervous in front of an entire room full of (he whispers the word out loud) fanfic writers!

::The thought was enough to send chills down his back. Fanfic writers could DO things to you—look what they did to Gadget in that…::

Hawnurra:  No. Don't think about it. This will all go just fine.

::And then it was time. He strides briskly toward the stage, but coming out from behind the curtains his foot strikes a loose bit of carpeting. Falling forward, he instinctively jumps to regain his balance, finding himself tumbling, tucks into a protective ball of tuxedo-covered cougar, and hits the floor behind the podium on a cushion conveniently placed there to comfort tired feet::

::**This is the most embarrassing night of my life** Hawnurra stands upright and straightens his jacket. Fortunately the cheap, rented outfit is made from a stiff synthetic material, which had not wrinkled. The audience, seeing him leap into an aerial forward roll from off-stage, land soundlessly, and then stand up behind the podium as though nothing unusual had happened, bursts into applause::

Hawnurra: My friends!

::Hawnurra pauses while the audience finishes clapping at something::

Hawnurra: The nominees for Best Round-Robin Contributing Author are: Indy, Karl Schenk, Kat, The Enduring Man-Child, and The J.A.M.

::He manages to pick up the envelope without dropping or mangling it, then continues::

Hawnurra: These are the writers whom you have nominated for their witty, insightful, and sometimes completely nonlinear contributions to those message-board threads intended to be read as a story. It was for the fun of making up these story threads that the concept of the Rescue Ranger Coffeehouse was developed; The Coffeehouse is never empty, for it is the one place set aside for all Rescue Ranger fanfic characters not currently employed in a story.

::His glance at a certain writer then was not missed::

Hawnurra: And now, without further ado…

::The envelope opens, the paper unfolds::

Hawnurra: I have the honor to announce: The winner is The Enduring Man-Child!

::The crowd stands and cheers as the spotlight shifts to the veteran Rangerphile. His cat Blue and the wolf spider both encourage him to go forward, but his feet seem stuck to the floor. An escort consisting of Foxglove, The J.A.M. and Detective Drake push the reluctant soul up on stage and Hawnurra escorts him to the podium where he presents him with the award::

Man-Child: Wow.  I . . . I don't know what to say. This is such an honor.

::Man-Child is silent for a moment. Obviously he is taken aback::

Man-Child: Well, I guess I should really begin by asserting my political belief that people who are allergic to peanuts should have their own state.

::The audience laughs, though many nod in agreement::

Man-Child: And after that all I can think to do is to thank each and every member of our community—to those who nominated me, who voted for me, who have participated in our wonderful little story threads, and to all Rangerphiles just for being there and for being the wonderful people that they are.

::Man-Child pauses for just a moment::

Man-Child: And I guess I shouldn't resume my seat without thanking the people who have been the inspiration for most of my story threads and most of my posts—those magical, mysterious, maddening, beings known as G-G-G-G-GIRLS!!!!!!!!!!!!

::Man-Child shivers here:

Man-Child: Those beings who bewitch us, enchant us, and then reject us JUST OUT OF MEANNESS!!! I mean, what's up with that, huh??? HOW MEAN CAN YOU GET??? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU HEARTLESS SIRENS??? WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME??? UGLY GUYS NEED LOVE TOO!!!!! ONE DAY YOU'LL KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE!!! MEANIES!!!!!!!!!! ONE DAY . . .

::At this point Botan descends on her mystical boat oar like a Tinkerbell. She stops just above him, zaps him with a magical wand, and then departs smiling sinisterly as the ensorcelled Man-Child is silenced at once and floats off after her with an oblivious look on his face and drool streaming from his lips::

US Award for Most Improved Author

::Hawnurra swats at a gnat. The insect had been flying around his face for several minutes, until finally in frustration he tried repeatedly to bat it away. In the midst of this exercise in futility, the call comes for his next presentation. The timing is regrettable as, distracted in mid-swipe, he turns the wrong way. The cougar’s claws rake the curtain, slashing it a full four feet wide to the edge, allowing the cut flap to fall open and reveal him to the audience::

::They go wild::

::He tries to ignore the crowd; the show must go on. Hawnurra stalks to the podium, face stiff with suppressed embarrassment. His career was shot, that's all there was to say **Well, let's try to go out like a professional, shall we?** He pulls the envelope from his jacket. At that moment, an over-eager floor-crewmember runs to repair the curtain and trips over a cord. The spotlight illuminating the podium from above goes dark, leaving the stage lit only by a small reading-light built into the podium, reflecting upward onto Hawnurra's face as he reads::

Hawnurra: My friends, tonight I have come to present the award for Most Improved Author

::The dramatic lighting, added to his stressed voice, creates an interesting atmosphere. The first two rows in the audience began shuffling a bit, glancing around for the exit signs. Some openly wonder what the "Award" might be::

Hawnurra: The nominees are: 8Bit Star; CD; The team of Indy & Chris Silva; KS; and Rosey Collins!

::The light comes back on, and with it the room's mood is, thankfully, also considerably lightened::

Hawnurra: These are writers whom you have nominated as having shown great improvement, and so each of them should know their efforts have not been in vain. They have been recognized as rising stars in our own little universe. One of them has, however, been selected as showing the greatest improvement - and it brings me great pleasure to announce: the winner is…8-Bit Star!

::Hawnurra receives a note from one of the stagehands, and the lights begin to dim::

Hawnurra: Ah...ahem, 8-Bit's being, as usual, a bit strange accepting his award. He’s created a special acceptance and asks that we view it on his web site.

::Hawnurra waits until the lights come up again, then heads offstage::

US Award for Best Author (Editor's Choice for Best Presentation)

Dr. Batorious (announcing): And now, to present the Best Author award, Julie Bihn!

::A brown-haired woman, wearing glasses, and wearing a garish yellow and purple jacket, with one glove, walks onstage, amid polite applause. The audience members in the front of the auditorium seem to think something's a little strange, but before they can really think much, the figure bows, then motions backstage. Four rodent dancers, all in sequined outfits, come onstage, dancing to Michael Jackson's "Black or White"::

::In the audience, a black-haired mouse in a blue jumpsuit folds her arms::

Melody: Someone's played a little too much "Dance Dance Revolution..."

::Dale discos on-stage::

Melody: Not you!

::Behind her the big screen displays BEST AUTHOR. Much to everyone's surprise (and a few wise people's horror), Julie starts singing, in a squeaky voice::

Julie: “The Christmas Story" and "The Last Big Stick-Up,"
"May Day Mayday" and "The Third Kind of Luck,"
If you want seasonal stories,
Or to read about an inventor's might,
If you're reading about Gadget
Then the author just might be Dave White...
Hee hee hee!

::The music suddenly changes to the adventurous tune from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Julie dons a fedora::

::Back in the audience, three of Julie's fanfic characters—Shadow, a gray mouse, Mittens, a gray cat, and Oatmeal, a cat whose color matches her name—discuss this development.

Shadow: Since when would Julie be caught wearing a hat like Chip's?

Mittens: She looks old.  And she doesn't wear glasses, does she?

Oatmeal: Plus she's learned to sing better than she used to.

::Some of the other audience members are covering their ears. Onstage, 'Julie' is brandishing a whip, in time with the Indiana Jones music::

Julie:  What would happen, if Dale weren't dumb?
Just ask Indy, and Chris Si-il-va!
Unique timelines, tales untold!
Angst and drama, crossovers, and searches for treasure, black gold
(treasure, black gold)...

::The music segues to a banjo::

Julie: Texas tea...

Julie:  Lemme tell y'to mind spoilers as I tell y' 'bout a mouse
Who looked a lot like Gadget and'd let wolves into her house.
As to where this lady came from (by the way, her name is Dee!)-
You'll have to read K. Sharbaugh's story if you want to see.

Julie: And now the Disney Medley!

::The music switches to a waltz from "Sleeping Beauty"::

Julie:  Posted 'fics on messageboards,
"Once Upon a Dream."
Where else can a Rangerphile
Find a 'fic of such quality?
Sleeping sicknesses are neat,
Three cheers for Loki-

::As the song gets higher-pitched, Julie's voice cracks, though she manages to hit the note, in a key that shatters glass::

Shadow (aside): So much for the theory that all girls can sing…

::The figure onstage continues into the Tiki Room song::

Julie:  Iiiiin Loneheart Loneheart Loneheart Loneheart Loneheart's mind,
In Loneheart Loneheart Loneheart Loneheart Loneheart's mind,
Gadget's ID's stolen
Lahwhinie’s not kind
In Loneheart Loneheart Loneheart Loneheart Loneheart's mind.

::Finally the tune shifts to one familiar to all Rangerphiles, though it was a rather off-key rendition::

Julie:  Sometimes some guys
Decide to have some fun.
Kinda sorta
Like Law and Otter
But not such a bad pun.

There's now rules of nature, rules of law,
It's all in Rennod's paws--

J-A-M spells the J.A.M.,
Read his tangents!
The-the-the-the J.A.M.,
He writes classics

About the things that would have been
Had an author used a different pen.

Sev-sev-sev-seven guys
Ranger writers
Sev-sev-sev-seven guys-

Muffled Voice From Backstage:  Let me go!

::A long-haired figure tied to a chair, wearing a modest dress and sensible shoes, works her way out from backstage. The audience quickly realizes that's the real Julie. A couple of the dancers run to untie her::

Karl: Then who was that?

::The figure onstage laughs::

Figure: Yes! It was I! Irweena Allen! I've won your hearts with my marvelous performance-

Dancer: Um, actually, your singing was really bad.

Irweena: What?! I finally abandon my grade-BEE music, I take voice training, and still, I've failed?

Julie: She did try her best...what do you say we give her a hand?

::The audience claps politely, and Irweena takes a bow—before she's hauled off the stage. Julie dusts herself off::

Julie: Well, I guess I'd better hurry up and read the winner, right?

::Julie picks up the envelope from the ground::

Julie: And the winner’s Indy and Chris Silva!

::Julie picks up the fedora and considers putting it on for a moment, but somehow good sense wins out. Indy and Chris Silva rise from their chairs to the crowd's standing applause and take the stage. Indy and Chris hold up their awards, the cameras’ flashbulbs go off everywhere, and after a few moments order is restored::

Chris:  Frankly, I'm stunned that we won this. When we first postulated a Dale/Gadget relationship we knew we were tap-dancing into a minefield and I wasn't sure we'd ever gain acceptance. But the community has embraced the stories and we're happy that they've been so well received
Indy: It's been a joy to write with this fellow. You don't know how many nights he and I have spent writing into the wee hours, exploring the world of the Rangers. Of course, it wasn't always a panacea. I remember a couple of times we got into knock-down drag-outs over which way a story should go.

Chris: The Chip/Lahwhinie vs. Chip/Foxglove debate being a good example. That's what brought about the creation of Noel Maplewood.

Indy: Yep, after a good two-hour mental roadblock. But those arguments forced each of us to improve as writers, and we've both gained from each other. He's the king of the nitpickers when it comes to plot and continuity and I'm the stickler for editing and narration. Together, we're two Rangerphiles on a mission to create fine stories.

Chris: I agree, conflict forces us to defend and justify our positions and in doing so we understand the characters and story better.

Indy: Which makes it even better when you, the audience, get the benefit of it. Thank you all very much for this high honor.

Chris: Yes, thank you for this very unexpected honor and we will try our best to bring you the best we are capable of.

::The crowd stands and applauds in appreciation as Indy and Chris hold up their awards and leave the stage, escorted by Julie::

US Award for Best Story

::Julie sees Indy offstage, then remains onstage and returns to the podium::

JULIE:  I'm here to announce the Best Story award too, but I'd better get right to it, since Irweena kinda ate up a lot of time.

Gadget and Sparky:  No problems!

::Everyone in the audience tenses, even those few who don't know why they should. Julie squints at the teleprompter::

Julie:  There's nothing better than a good story.  And thesestories have been deemed thebest ofthebest bymembersofour community.

::Her voice grows increasingly faster::

Julie: The nomineesare: ClawandAntler:SmallAnimalsUnitbyRennod, DeathofaComedianbyThe J.A.M.,GadgetinChainsbyLoneheart—

::takes a breath::

Julie: —OnceUponaDreambyLoki—

::Gadget and Sparky realize they've done something wrong, and get back to tinkering with the Teleprompter. A massive zap is heard, but Julie keeps reading::

Julie:  ReservationDogsbyKS,TheDayDaleBecameSmartbyIndyandChrisSilva, TheUntold RangerTales(allparts)byIndyandChrisSilva!

::Julie takes a few deep breaths::

Julie:  I hope that was fast enough for everyone.

::The crowd applauds at her accomplishment and Bedivere shouts out, wondering if she’d like a job as a stock auctioneer. Sparky walks across the stage, looking rather drunk, his body smoking::

Julie:  Um...I'd better hurry up and take care of him.  So anyway, the winner is Untold Ranger Tales!

::Along with Indy and Chris comes the entire cast of the story—everyone save Theo, who is home in bed with the flu. The crowd applauds as they all gather around the podium, filling the stage::

Indy: This story started out with a simple question—what if Dale and Gadget fell in love? Two years and nine parts later, with a tenth on the way, it's now a whole lot more. We've seen Chip develop into a much deeper and mature munk who finds love in the most unexpected way. We've had more plot twists than a pretzel machine can manage and we've had a lot of fun creating original characters, back-stories and highly improbable scenarios of all kinds. What would you say is your favorite thing about the story, Chris?

Chris: That we tried our best to do the most unlikely and unexpected things at every opportunity.  We always strove to surprise the reader—having both of Gadget’s parents being alive, Chip/Lahwhinie and Foxglove's family being alive as well.

Indy: We even managed to surprise ourselves at times, which made it all the more rewarding. We hope that we can continue to surprise you, and that part ten of this saga will be as well received as the first nine. Thanks go out to all the people on this stage that were with us at one time or another during the creation of it all. And thanks to all of you, for making this moment possible.

Chris:  Thank you for being open minded and seeing what the Rangerverse would be like if things went differently.

::The authors and cast wave to the audience as the music plays and the crowd stands and claps once more as they all leave. Julie manages to get Sparky off the stage, and looks for a nice place to rest after that Herculean effort::

US Award for Outstanding Achievement--the plot thickens more, and the end of the US Awards.

::Backstage, the short hooded figure fiddles and tinkers, turning and twisting this and that until the various parts and junk take on the appearance of something remotely functional::

Nimnul: There! It’s done! Oh, wait...not dramatic enough. *ahem*  At long last, it is complete! My Aurum Attractum 5000 Gold Magnet is ready to help me get my just dues! Now all I need is a test...

::Peeking out from behind a curtain, the small hooded man spied a short, fat, well-dressed Chinese man pushing a golden statue on a wheeled base towards the stage::

Dim Sun: I am hoping Mr. Plotecher will enjoy this gift I am giving him. Oh, his stories are so greatly entertaining to me...

::The hooded figure aims his device and pulls the trigger. Immediately the statue turns and heads towards the curtains where the mysterious figure is hidden. Dim Sun nearly jumps out of his ornamented shoes::

Dim Sun: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Oh, no! It is happening again! Chirp-Sing! Chirp-Sing! Help me! Protect me from the living statues!

::As the scared emperor flees the scene, the hooded figure bursts from hiding and strikes a triumphant pose, not noticing his finger is still holding the trigger down::

Nimnul: Aha! Yes!! It works! Vengeance shall be sweet and—uh oh.

::It was about that time he noticed the statue was still aimed at him. He soon found they were both aimed at the wall::

Nimnul: Ooooff! Okay, ow, that hurts...

::Slowly and painfully he begins to extricate himself from the crushing predicament::

::Just as the audience applause from the last award has died down, a long drum roll begins. Then, as it approaches a crescendo the entire room is plunged into darkness and silence. The crowd gasps with surprise and a puzzled murmur arises in the theater. From somewhere backstage a siren begins to wail and a single spotlight bursts into life on the stage.

A ripple of nervous laughter starts in a couple of rows and spreads outwards as a mouse in a black and white striped prison uniform and a biker's cap tiptoes across the stage. The spotlight passes over him twice, then snaps back to expose him to public gaze. The figure, now clearly identifiable as Brandon, the biker mouse from “Gadget in Chains”, stands paralysed by fright. The rest of the lights rise to reveal Officer Haggs standing next to him, tapping a nightstick against the palm of her hand::

Haggs: Well what have we here? Clearly a very naughty boy.

::Haggs winks at the crowd, getting some laughter::

Brandon: Women! They don't let you get away with anything!

::Brandon holds against his chest a large black ball that was attached to his ankle by a chain. Haggs marches Brandon over to the podium where stagehands dressed in black have already positioned the next Golden Acorn. Brandon took the podium first and looked down in mock sadness::

Brandon: I think it's only fair to say that neither of us ever expected to be asked to give an award after the part we played in the particular story we appear in. We're both very grateful to be here, me especially, since I'm not getting out as often as I'd like these days!

::More laughter, then Haggs takes over::

Haggs: Seriously though, given the writer's tendency to go on at length, it's probably a good thing we have to head back to Shrankshaw before too long.

Brandon: Yeah, my date has to be back home before nine.

::The audience's laughter was punctuated by the sound of Haggs discretely rapping Brandon over the head with her nightstick. Haggs held up the golden envelope and the card listing the nominees. Beside her, Brandon mimicked Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Arc by trying to swap the ball and chain for the Golden Acorn without her noticing::

Haggs: In the category of Outstanding Achievement, the nominations are…"

::She nudges Brandon::

Brandon: What really, I can read out the first one?"

::Haggs nods::

Brandon: Wow, I didn't think you'd give up the limelight that easily. The first nominee is…Honywumpus.

Haggs: I couldn't pronounce it. The next nominee is, uh, are Indy & Chris Silva.

Brandon: What, they tied?

Haggs: Must be for the ‘Dare to Dream’ series they wrote together. Your turn.

::Brandon leans over to read::

Brandon: The next nominee is Julie Bihn.

Haggs: And finally, but by no means least, Ray Jones.

::Applause from the audience begins again. Those watching the show at home see close-ups of the nominees’ surprised faces as they hastily put down their food and glasses, and accept the congratulations of their friends. Haggs belatedly notices the substitution of the ball and chain for the Golden Acorn::

Haggs: They're applauding you, aren't you going to take a bow?

::Blinking rapidly, Brandon grins and does so, revealing the Golden Acorn he was holding behind his back. Haggs quickly swaps it and the ball-and-chain back again. Brandon straightens and blinks at the shining Acorn in front of him. Haggs gives him a smug grin as she opens the gold envelope::

Haggs: And the winner, oh excuse me, the winners are Indy and Chris Silva!

::Indy and Chris rise up from their spotlighted seats and walk up to the stage, to the applause of the crowd. Haggs and Brandon welcome them, and Indy and Chris step to the podium::

Indy: Wow.

Chris: What more is there to say?

Indy: Well, to be honored with the accolade of ‘outstanding achievement’, it’s very humbling. I still remember the day I met Chris and from the start we hit it off as a writing team.

Chris: That’s true. And we’ve been writing at breakneck speed ever since.

Indy: We put our hearts and souls into the body of work that you, our audience and friends, have read and hopefully enjoyed over the past two year. It’s been such a rewarding experience, I only hope that each of you can experience the challenges to grow and develop as a writer that I have over this time.

Chris: The same goes for me. Thanks everyone. It’s been a pleasure.

::The crowd applauds as Indy and Chris leave the stage. Haggs keeps a close eye on Brandon, who tries to use the loud distraction as an opportunity to depart. She trips him and pulls him off-stage, his prison ball dragging behind him::

Dr. Batorious (announcing): And that concludes the United States categories. Don’t go away, because next we have the Special awards, including the All-Time Best categories where you the Rangerphiles chose who was the best of the best. Also ahead, the Lifetime Achievement award! While you’re waiting, you can view this trailer for Indy’s next big story—Internet viewers, click here then prepare to view a new thread for a final set of awards.

Proceed to Part 9