Chapter 9: The Blessing of Tiny Radarr
Yes, the bed was Scrooge the Ace's own, and the ship was his own, and the sword leaning against the bunk was his own. The Ghost of Christmas Doom was gone, and so was Arygyn the Nutcracker.
Excited, Scrooge leapt out of bed. "Ah, the Storm Hawks! I will remember your lessons! Oh, Carver Marley! You didn't come in vain, Carver!"
He looked at the bed curtains. "They're still here!" he cried. "Rings and all! Still here! And those shadows can be changed! I know it!"
He started to pull on his Cyclonian uniform, only to get tangled in it. "I . . . I don't know what to do first!" he exclaimed. "I'm as light as a feather, as merry as a boy, as giddy as a drunken Murk Raider, and as happy as a phoenix with his crystal!"
He looked around. "There's the battle glider that began to glide. There's the door where Carver came in. There's the corner where the Wallop spirit had sat. There's the window where I saw all the wondering Talon spirits! It all happened! It's all true!"
Then the Ace stopped and thought. "Wait," he thought, "how long was I with the Storm Hawks? What day is it? What month is it? What year?"
Scrooge the Ace ran to the window and looked down to see the young boy Gareth out for a walk. Here, he thought, was someone he could ask. "Excuse me, boy," he called. "What day is it?"
Gareth peered up at him incredulously. "What day is it?!"
"Yes," the Ace said impatiently. "What is today?"
"Gosh, sir," Gareth said. "It's Christmas Day!"
"Christmas Day," Scrooge said. "I haven't missed it. The Storm Hawks did it all in one night. Well, of course they did! They can do whatever they want!"
He paid attention to the boy again. "Do you know the Poulterer's in the next street?"
"Sure do!" Gareth called back.
"Wonderful boy!" the Ace said to himself. Then to the boy, "Do you know if they've sold the prize turkey? Not the small one; the big one."
"The one as big as me?" Gareth asked.
"What a delightful boy! Yes, that one!"
"It's hanging there now!"
"Will you go and buy it for me?"
The boy just stared at him. "You must be crazy, sir!"
"No, I'm serious. Go and bring the man here so that I may give him directions. Do it, and I'll give you twenty dollars. Bring the man back in less than five minutes, and I'll give you fifty!"
The boy was off like a shot.
"I'll send it to Aerrow Cratchit's!" the Ace thought, cackling. "He'll be so surprised! He won't know who sent it! Great Atmos, it will be twice the size of Tiny Radarr!"
He wrote the address in a rather rushed manner before running down the ramp of the Destroyer as if his life depended on it.
There was the poulterer's man, Steward, waiting with the turkey. Gareth stood beside him, waiting expectantly.
Scrooge the Ace paid Gareth and then Steward. As he gave Steward the address, he said, "You can't carry that all the way into town. You must have a skyride!"
Um, Dark Ace, they don't have skyrides in 9th century England.
"Oh, but I have skyrides! And don't call me Dark Ace. It sounds so mean and . . . dark."
Okay. Didn't see that character change coming.
So the Ace got a Switchblade for Steward—Ace's very own, in fact—and then ran back up into the ship to dress in his best uniform.
Once he was out on the streets, he was greeting everyone with "Hello!" and "Good morning!" and "How are you!" and "Merry Christmas!"
And then he saw a man with a familiar face. As he drew closer, he recognized the man as Tritonn. The Ace felt a pang in his heart for how Tritonn must think of him, but he knew what he had to do. He walked right up to the blue man and said, "Why, hello! I hope you succeeded yesterday?"
Tritonn blinked in surprise. "Ace?"
"Yes," Scrooge the Ace said. "That is my name, which I fear is not pleasant to you. Allow me to ask for your forgiveness. And if you please, sir, you can put me down for—" And he whispered in his ear.
Tritonn blinked in surprise. "Why, Ace! But I never woulda . . . I mean . . . Aye, are you serious?"
"Yes," the Ace insisted. "And not a penny less!"
"I don't know what to say . . ."
"You don't have to say anything. Just come and see me. Will you come?"
And so he continued his walk, greeting people, patting children on the head, questioning beggars, and joining in, or else raising, other's merriment.
In the afternoon, he came at last to his nephew's house. When he knocked on the door, a girl maid answered.
"Well, I'll be, if it isn't a Vaposian native!"
She's not Vaposian in the story, remember Ace?
"Oh, right, right!" He addressed the girl. "Is your master home?"
The girl looked startled. "Finn!" she called in a panic.
Finn came to the door. "Yes, what . . . Uncle!"
"Finn," Scrooge greeted him. "I've come for dinner. That is . . . if you'll have me."
At first, Finn just stared at him. Then, with great excitement, he clasped his hand, and it was a wonder he didn't shake it right off! "Dude, I can't believe you came! 'Course I'll have ya! Come on, in, dude. You're letting all the cold air in!"
It was a merry party, one in which everyone, including Dove, Billy Topper, and Marge, included Scrooge the Ace in all their fun.
But even after all that joy and the late night, Scrooge the Ace was at his office early the next morning, for he had a plan. He just had to get there before Aerrow and hopefully would catch Cratchit coming in late!
And so it was. Aerrow Cratchit came in a full eighteen minutes late, huffing and puffing as if he was still racing the nine o'clock hour.
The Ace cast Cratchit a stiff glare. "You're late."
"Sorry," Aerrow said breathlessly, shrugging off hi jacket. "I am behind my time."
"That you are," Ace agreed. "Step this way, if you please."
"It's only once a year," Aerrow argued as he came toward him. "It won't happen again, I promise."
"You're right," Scrooge said, "because I won't stand for this any longer. Therefore," he rose from his chair, causing Aerrow to stagger back out of fright, "I'm going to . . . raise your salary!"
Aerrow blinked, truly believing Scrooge might be loosing his mind. He trembled and edged toward the Ace's sword, thinking that he could use it to knock the Ace on the head and hold him down until he could call the rest of his squadron for help.
"A merry Christmas, Aerrow!" the Ace cried in earnest. He patted the boy on the back. "I'm going to raise your salary and help your struggling family in any way I can! We'll discuss the matters now! But first, put some coal on the fire before you dot another i, Aerrow!"
And Scrooge the Ace did better than his word. A better man the Terra of England had never known. And to Tiny Radarr, who did not die, he was like a second father.
And as the Ace paraded up and down the streets with Tiny Radarr on his shoulder, he laughed and laughed and laughed. "A merry Christmas to us all!"
All the characters gathered around to see for themselves. "Hey, look!" Gareth said, pointing. "Tiny Radarr's trying to speak!"
"Don't be ridiculous," Starling scuffed. "Radarr can never speak."
But then, with a strange twinkle in his eye, Radarr tilted his head to the side and said, "God bless us, everyone."
"Wait, narrator, that's it? That's the end?"
Why, Ace, did you want it to continue?
"Well . . . I was getting rather fond of it."
"Radarr spoke! I can't believe it! Radarr spoke!"
That's the power of writing, Aerrow. Anything happen. But don't expect it to happen again.
I don't think we're going to get much out of Aerrow for awhile.
"Ah, that was quite a performance . . . if you like amateur work."
"Yeah, no talent whatsoever!"
Staldorf and Walder? What are you two doing here?
"We heard you were putting on a performance," Staldorf said. "So we decided to check it out."
"Now I'd like a full refund," Walder said.
But you didn't pay to see it!
"I still want to be paid for this absolutely horrible performance," Walder insisted. "And don't you know how overdone A Christmas Carol is?"
I think my continuous headache is getting worse.
"Hey! There was no Nutcracker in the end!"
Oh, Arygyn, not you again!
"According to this script, I'm supposed to defeat the Mouse King and win a princess!"
Let me see that! Where'd you get this script?
"Does it matter? It's in the script!"
Well, who would you want for a princess?
"Well, since Acey is the main character . . ."
The Dark Ace glared at him. "Get away from me, you gay freak! And narrator, I thought I told you not to call me Dark Ace. Please?"
But A Christmas Carol is over. You can get out of character.
"I am reformed! I am now reminded about why I was in the Storm Hawks to begin with. From now on, I will be a good man!"
Aerrow's face lit up in a smile. "So that means you're not going to try to kill me anymore?"
"Or hurt my squadron?"
"Sweet!" Finn exclaimed.
Master Cyclonis ran toward the Ace angrily. "No!" she said. "You can't! You're the only one I trust! Don't you remember my glory, your glory, your promise to Cyclonia?"
The Ace's face lit up. "Hey, you're right!" He drew his sword.
"Aerrow!" Piper cried.
Aerrow ducked just in time. "Should've seen that one coming," the Sky Knight muttered as he pulled out his blades.
"Now this is a good show!" Staldorf said.
"Yes," Walder agreed. "Finally some real action!"
Okay, that's it! I quit! I'm leaving! Goodbye! So long! Tear each other to ribbons for all I care! This narrator is out of here!
Author's Notes: Um . . . the ending after The End was not really intended. It just kind of . . . happened. The Producers insisted on rating it, and after that, well, things got a little out of hand.
Narrator: Out of hand, Wolf? They completely ruined my production! Not just the Producers . . . all of them!
Wolf: Well, seeing as they're Storm Hawks characters and you're not . . . they automatically win. And for the record, if Aerrow gets killed by the Dark Ace, you're fired.
Narrator: You can't fire me! I already quit! I'm never coming back again, you hear me?! I don't get paid enough for this aggravation! You owe me some pain relievers for my headaches, you know that?!
Wolf: If you quit, then why are you still here?
Narrator: I'm making a point. You . . . !
Wolf: *shoves narrator out the door and slams it in his face* Gosh, narrators are so longwinded!
Arygyn: I still didn't get to do my part!
Wolf: *sigh* You again. Anyway, please review! It might get the narrator off my case.
Arygyn: And tell that narrator and Wolf that they should have let me do my part!
Wolf: Arygyn . . . shut up.