Disclaimer: Everything in this story belongs to someone else, but I'm not going to make any money out of this, so that's OK. If my plots are similar to the original episodes, or I have made any obvious mistakes, I can only apologise and say if they put Captain Planet back on TV I would be able to refresh my memory!
I tried to stick to the original tone of the TV series in this story. If you make it to the end (!)you'll understand.
Salt spray speckled Gi's T-shirt, and droplets landed in her short black hair. She had been bird watching for three days. A colony of rare gulls had built their nests on a tiny rocky island about a mile from the coast, and every day Gi left her small camp on the mainland and came out here in her small boat. She adjusted her binoculars and noted something on the portable computer in her lap. Any minute now she hoped to see the first chick fly.
But as the sun began to sink in the west she realised with a heavy heart that it wouldn't be today. She stowed her computer in a watertight box under her seat – it was a bumpy ride back to the shore – and powered up the motor and turned the boat around.
And then she saw it. A fishing boat lay about a mile further out to sea. She raised her binoculars and zoomed in. The white boat was streaked with rust, grimy with age. Oily smoke pumped from its single funnel. It was winching in a large fishing net. As Gi watched the net broke the surface full of struggling fish. Gi gasped in horror. Caught in the tangle of silvery scaled bodies was the sleek grey skin of a dolphin.
On Hope Island a beeping sounded in the Crystal Chamber. With a wave of her hand Gaia, the Spirit of the Earth turned on the screen. Gi's frantic face stared back at her.
'Gaia, something terrible has happened! There was a dolphin and a net and it was caught and they didn't throw it back and –'
'Calm down, Gi,' interrupted Gaia. 'I can barely tell what you're saying.'
'Sorry, Gaia, but I'm so angry!' Two red spots flushed the Planeteer's cheeks. 'There was a fishing boat, and when they cast the nets they caught a dolphin. It was still alive, I could see it struggling, but they just hauled it in with the other fish. It was horrible!' Gi's breath came in sobbed and her voice cracked.
Gaia shook her head. She had been the Spirit of the Earth since the first single-celled life form had appeared, and she still could not understand human nature. 'I'll send the other Planeteers to help you investigate. You stay out of trouble until they arrive. I know you love sea creatures but you won't be able to help them if an eco-villain catches you.'
'Ok,' said Gi reluctantly. 'I'll wait for them. But they'd better get here fast!'
Kwame landed the GeoCruiser on the beach. It was nearly midnight and there was no moon. Further along the coast was a seaside town, a cluster of lights in the distance. A little way down the beach from them was a factory, built on a rocky outcrop. Floodlights illuminated its small private harbour, but the landward side was dark.
The Planeteers jumped out and ran to the small pier where Gi had moored her boat and was sat waiting impatiently.
'I thought you'd never arrive!' she said.
'The GeoCruiser can only go so fast, even in an eco-emergency,' said Kwame.
Gi nodded. She knew that, of course, but it didn't make waiting any easier when lives were at stake.
'I tracked the fishing boat to that factory,' she said. 'It's called the Friendly Tuna Company and it's owned by Mr L Plunder.'
'Looten Plunder! No way! I thought we'd sorted him out once and for all!' Wheeler exclaimed.
'It looks like he is back, my friend,' said Kwame. 'And this time he is making money from sea life.'
'I wonder if he knows that when all the dolphins are gone they're gone forever?' said Linka, pounding her fist into her palm. 'Saving a species is more important than dollars.'
'Too right, babe,' said Wheeler. 'So we're going to stop him. Let's get into that factory and take a look around.'
'Someone should stay with the Geo Cruiser,' said Gi. 'The Coast Guard have gone past several times and we don't want it taken by the authorities.'
Linka grinned teasingly at Wheeler. 'Nyet, we certainly wouldn't want it to be impounded again.'
'I will stay,' she continued. 'I can use the computer to hack into their records.'
'Ok,' said Gi. 'Let's go!'
The four Planeteers crept closer to the factory.
'Have we got a plan?' asked Kwame.
'You and Wheeler find the office,' improvised Gi. 'Ma-Ti and I will sneak around the factory and see if we can discover anything there.'
Gi and Ma-Ti crept into the shadow of a pile of fishy smelling crates. They were in the factory's loading area. The door to the processing plant was across the yard from them, but there were too many people about to risk running to it. They seemed to be mostly fishermen, playing cards and smoking, but there were also two security guards with dogs.
'We'll have to sneak around the edge,' whispered Ma-Ti. 'It is too bright and we will be seen if we are not very careful.'
Fortunately for the two Planeteers there were stacks of crates all around the edge of the yard and it was relatively easy to stay out of sight. But the last stack was five metres from the door. They would have to cross five metres of plain, well lit, concrete wall first.
'We'll never cross that without someone seeing us,' said Gi. 'We'll have to find another way.'
'No,' said Ma-Ti. 'I will use my power to make sure we are not seen. Heart!' In his mind, Ma-Ti sought out the closest dog. It was bored and tired of being leashed and was happy to hear a friendly voice. We need to get past, my friend, Ma-Ti told it. Please distract the guards so that they do not see us.
The dog pricked up its ears, barked joyfully and dragged the guard holding it towards a pile of crates, away from the Planeteers. Everyone turned to see what the commotion was about. The guard tried to hold it back, shouting 'Get away boy, it's just a rat!' but the dog was already among the crates, scattering them loudly.
Ma-Ti and Gi ran to the door and closed it quickly behind them. Gi looked around. The large factory was only dimly lit by the floodlights outside, but she could make out the hulking shape of the fish processor.
'It's so big!' she gasped.
'It looks like they've been upgrading it.' Ma-Ti pointed to the far end where scaffolding covered a large chute. A conveyor belt ran up to it, coming in from outside. 'That must be where the fish go in. They must load it straight from the ships. Let's go take a look at those boxes next to it. They look like new parts for the machine.'
The crates were indeed full of new parts, packed in white polystyrene. On the top sat a fat book, labelled 'Operating Instructions'. Gi picked it up and held it to catch the light.
'Look,' she cried. 'The chute is extra large so they don't have to sort the fish on the boats. They can put dolphins or turtles or even baby whales in there! It says here they even add extra taste! That's terrible!' Her voice had been rising steadily and now she was almost shouting. 'We have to stop this!'
'Shush, Gi,' said Ma-Ti. 'We won't be able to stop it if they hear us and catch us!'
Kwame tried the door of the office. It rattled in his hand but did not open. 'Locked, he said. He put his face close to the glass and peered in. 'There is no other way in.'
'Locks don't bother me,' whispered Wheeler, pointing his ring finger at the lock. 'Fire!'
The lock melted away with a sizzle and a hiss. 'Better open it quick before it welds itself shut,' said Wheeler, going in. 'I'll wedge it open a little so we don't get trapped. This should do the trick.' He picked up a doorstop from behind the door and wedged it open a crack.
'Good thinking,' said Kwame. He looked around and shook his head. The office was full of filing cabinets and computers. 'This is going to take us all night!'
High up on the wall, in a dark and shadowy corner, a small red light blinked into life. A CCTV camera tracked their every move.
Meanwhile, back in the Geo Cruiser, Linka was still trying to hack into the computers.
'This is so heavily protected that I am sure they are hiding something,' she muttered.
After several minutes of furious key tapping she was rewarded by 'User Accepted' flashing up on the screen.
'Ah, I'm in!'
The system presented her with a number of options. She picked 'Accounts' simply because it was at the top of the list. She knew she would only discover something if she was methodical.
Confusing columns of figures arrayed themselves on the screen. 'Bozhe moy. This is giving me a headache already.' But the more she looked at them the more she understood. A few months ago Looten Plunder had taken over the company and since then invested heavily. The two main areas seemed to be new machinery and new staff. Linka could see that since the takeover almost all the old staff has resigned and new ones had been hired. She could also see that just last year the company had spent $100,000 on updating their machinery. Why had Plunder replaced it so quickly? Then she saw that the machine had come from 'LP Dynamic Machinery'. Plunder was supplying one of his companies from another.
She backtracked to the main menu and selected 'Site', followed by 'Machinery'. She scrolled through the list of ships, cranes and computers until she came to the Tuna Processor 4010. Selecting this she was presented with another list: Invoices, Repair, Schematics, Operators or Downtime. She chose Schematics and looked at the specifications.
'This is completely illegal! Plunder must have kept this quiet to get it past the authorities.'
The screen flashed red and a box appeared. 'Outgoing transmission: Monitor/Continue?' Curious, she clicked 'Monitor'. A worried foreman's face appeared. He had his hat off and was nervously holding it before him like a shield.
'Mr Plunder, Mr Plunder, sir, we have intruders. Kids, just like you said. I haven't tried to catch them, sir, I'm just warning you, like you said to…' He trailed off.
The screen split down the middle and Plunder's long elegant face appeared in the right half. 'Planeteers! I thought I'd kept it quiet enough to avoid them this time. Where are they?'
'We've got two in the office and two by the machine, sir.'
'There'll be another somewhere. Keep your eyes open and don't let them leave until I get there.'
The transmission terminated with a static hiss and Linka found herself looking at the machine file again. 'My friends are in trouble! I must warn them. Perhaps if I concentrate hard enough, Ma-Ti will hear my thoughts.' Ma-Ti, can you hear me? Plunder is on his way. You must get out now! But there was no response, no sign that he'd heard her.
'I will have to go in myself and warn them.' Jumping out of the Geo Cruiser she hit the ground running and sped off into the night.
The factory gate was open, and though it was brightly lit it seemed to be unguarded. Linka flattened herself against the wall and edged closer quietly. Perhaps she would be able to creep through the gate and find a place to hide in the factory before the guards came back.
She put her head slowly around the corner. There was still nobody there, though she couldn't quite see into the guard hut beyond. Her heart beat frantically and her breathing seemed so loud in the silence she was sure it would give her away. Still stepping quietly she crept towards the guard shed. The courtyard was just a few metres away. Once she was there she could look for the office or the machinery, where the foreman had said her friends were.
The click of the door behind her sounded like a shout in the silence. She spun around to see two security guards leap and grab her before something hit her head and the world went black.
Kwame and Wheeler ducked for cover as a security guard and his dog walked past. Despite passing within a few feet of the open door several times the guard didn't seem to have seen it and the dog had not barked at them.
'Another lucky escape,' breathed Kwame when they had passed. 'I'm not sure how much more of this my nerves can take.'
'There's definitely something fishy about all this. We need to get out of here before we become catch of the day,' said Wheeler.
Kwame pulled a face. 'How long have you been thinking of those dreadful puns? Never mind. There is not much of interest here.' He prodded a cabinet with his toe. 'It is just invoices for how much fish they have sold. It tells us nothing.'
'Me neither. I got wages, repairs, bills. Nothing. Hey, wait a minute.' Wheeler pulled a photo frame from the cluttered desk. 'It's Plunder. And –' he squinted to see in the half light '- the President! Wonder what they found to talk about?'
'Probably the best way to plunder our natural resources and damage our environment,' said Kwame sadly.
'Maybe they both play golf. Let's get outta here. Maybe Gi and Ma-Ti had more luck.' Wheeler opened the door enough to let them out. 'All clear. I – whoa!'
The tannoy above his head crackled into life. Plunder's voice said 'Come out come out wherever you are, Planeteers. If you're not in the courtyard, where I can see you, in one minute, your little blonde friend will die.'
Gi and Ma-Ti opened the factory door as Wheeler and Kwame walked out of the crates opposite. Plunder's executive yacht was moored in the harbour. Plunder himself stood at the prow, like a figurehead. In one hand he held a microphone and the other held Linka against the railings. Her hands were tied in front of her and she wore a filthy gag, but she was conscious.
'That's more like it, eco-freaks. I'm sure you can see your friend here. Any funny business, like calling Captain Planet, and she goes overboard. This water is forty feet deep and tied like that she'll sink like a stone.'
'What do you want, Plunder?' shouted Wheeler.
'It's quite simple. I've got too much money invested in this scheme to be shut down now. We're going to have a little industrial accident. Henry! Turn on that conveyor belt.'
The foreman pushed buttons on a control panel and the conveyor belt whirred into life. Plunder laughed manically. 'You're going in the processor, Planeteers. Say your last goodbyes!'
Kwame exchanged looks with the others and they nodded. 'Let our powers combine! Earth!'
'Wind!' coughed Linka past her gag.
A lightning flash forced everyone to cover their eyes and a voice boomed out 'By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!
The Planeteers cheered.
Captain Planet floated in the air above the yacht. 'Looten Plunder. I thought there was a fishy smell in the air. Time to shut you down.'
He dived through the floor and disappeared, but a moment later the ground began to rumble and the warehouse that housed the machine began to tremble. Cracks appeared, zigzagging up the walls. Glass smashed within and the roof collapsed.
'Where's Linka?' shouted Kwame above the noise. The other Planeteers turned to look at the yacht. She was no longer next to Looten Plunder.
Wheeler was the quickest to react. He ran to the water and dived in.
As the dust cleared from the wrecked building Captain Planet appeared behind Looten Plunder and tapped him on the shoulder. The eco-villain was wide eyed with rage and he hit Captain Planet in the chest.
'You'll pay for this, Captain Planet! This is criminal damage! I'll sue for compensation! I'll see you in court!'
'I don't think so, Plunder. You're the one causing the criminal damage, by over-fishing our oceans and killing endangered species,' replied Captain Planet, quite calmly.
'You destroyed my processor with an earthquake. Don't tell me it was an accident, we're over a thousand miles from the nearest faultline!'
'Watch out, Plunder, the coast guard are on their way now.' He pointed out to sea where several boats were converging on the factory. 'Looks like they've got you surrounded. Better leave now, Planeteers, and remember: the power is yours!'
And he was gone.
The cold water hit Wheeler like a fist in the gut but he fought the urge to gasp and kept swimming down. He could barely see his hands in front of his face because the water was so murky.
His ears pricked up as he heard a muffled noise below. A trail of bubbles rushed past him. He swam down as fast as he could. His lungs were burning and bursting but he kept on. He was rewarded when his hands grabbed cloth. Pulling Linka's limp body upwards he kicked with all his might.
Their heads broke the surface and he gasped for air. Linka coughed and spluttered feebly and Wheeler pulled the gag from her mouth. Holding her waist with one hand he pushed her hair back from her face, kicking toward the edge all the time. Kwame and Gi were ready and caught Linka's arms. She shot out of the water and they laid her, still coughing water, on her side. Wheeler hauled himself out and squatted beside her.
'Linka, Linka, can you hear me?' he cried.
Her eyelids fluttered and opened. 'Da, I hear a noisy Yankee shouting in my ear. I am OK.'
All the Planeteers cheered and threw their arms around one another.
Gi piloted the Geo Cruiser on the way home.
'I am glad we have stopped Looten Plunder without completely destroying the factory,' said Kwame. 'They can salvage enough of their old machines to carry on working there. Many people depend upon it for their livelihoods. I hope they get their old jobs back and fish responsibly like they did before Looten Plunder showed up.'
'If only people would be more careful,' said Gi. 'Our oceans are not bottomless. Once an endangered species is gone, it is gone forever.'
'I suppose there's not much most people can do about it,' said Wheeler. 'A lot of people don't even live near the sea.'
Gi shook her head. 'Oh, no! Everyone can help. They can make sure they buy dolphin friendly tuna. That means the fishermen have been properly inspected and found to be environmentally friendly. Don't buy products that aren't dolphin friendly. That forces the fishermen to clean up their acts or stop fishing all together. If we only take what we really need, there will always be enough for everyone.'