The Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction. Any resemblance to characters, real or imaginary, is completely intentional. The author is not making any money off of this story, but I really don't see why y'all can't pitch a dime or two my way seeing as how Disney hasn't done anything with this show in over twenty years…

Operation Santa Claws
Writ and Edited by Rain Crow
(so blame all spelling errors on the editor)

Despite the fact that it dawned cloudless and sunny, December 24th turned out to be a cold day in the city. A white blanket of crisp, pure snow had fallen the night before and had, in due course, been turned into a gray slush by the morning rush-hour, muttering office workers trudging to work, and the municipal salt trucks. Only within the parks and on the tops of buildings did the snow remain to be enjoyed by people and critters who were possessed by the joyous Christmas spirit of peace and brotherhood; and so, at the beginning of our tale, we find four animals starting their celebration of the season in the most appropriate way that they know...

*SLAP!*

"Hey!" Yelled Wart; his raspy, reptilian voice echoed underneath the hollow, grinning statue that dominated the roof of the Happy Tom cat food factory. The large iguana quickly brushed melting snow from the back of his head, "What's the big idea, ganging up on me? I'm cold blooded!"

Snout, warm under his denim coat and fur, grinned at his quivering colleague, winked one of his small ratty eyes, and cast about for another handful of snow to hurl at the reptile. Mepps, a cat who might have been described as truly "ratty" looking if it wouldn't have offended Snout, was busy putting small rocks and bits of frozen tar into his next snow ball.

"It's the most fun you'll have under the sun!" He called out happily in his coarse, whining voice, reading a billboard across the street that advertised winter getaways to Hawaii. The tattered cat lifted his snowball, aiming at Wart, who was now scuttling across the roof in search of better cover, when a snowball pegged him right on the inside of his ear. Mepps staggered, mewing pathetically and accidentally slapping his own snowball onto his snout in his haste to clear the cold, melting snow from his ragged ear.

"Hah," laughed Mole, who was, appropriately, an abnormally large and astonishingly stupid mole, "got you Wart!"

"You got me!" Mepps snapped as he tried to knock the snow out of one ear by slapping the other side of his head, "Wart's the lizard!"

"Oh, yeah," Mole squinted at his erstwhile target, "I knew that."

Before Mepps could take issue with that statement, a pair of loudspeakers mounted on either end of the Happy Tom statue blasted out a loud, ear scratching burst of static before a suave, even voice thundered across the roof top.

"Minions," called the voice of Fat Cat, the boss of the four combatants, "stop goofing off and come to the office! We have a Christmas party to plan!"

The henchmen groaned mutinously as they dropped handfuls of snow and moved under the bottom of Happy Tom's head, where Wart had opened a trap door and ladder that led up into the interior of the statue, where Fat Cat had his office. They'd been hoping to be let off work for Christmas.

-

Fat Cat was sitting majestically behind his desk when his employees entered his office. He thought they looked a bit disgruntled, but dismissed the observation since they often wore dissatisfied expressions right before he let them in on one of his brilliant schemes.

"Ah, my loyal lackeys!" He began enthusiastically as they assembled before him, "As I said, you'll all be privileged to participate in-"

"But, Boss," Fat Cat's eyes widened in shock as Mepps interrupted his explanation of the glorious work that they were to do that night, "I thought you said we wouldn't have to work this Christmas."

Fat Cat stared at them, his mouth still open. Silence filled the office like the stale air of a tomb. The other gangsters edged away from Mepps. After a small eternity the synapses that connected the ragged looking cat's sense of self preservation to his mouth fired and he had the good sense to cringe, looking away from the larger feline. "Sorry!"

The Head Gangster stared down at the trembling cat for a moment longer before drawing on his reserve of Christmas Cheer and refraining from turning Mepps into a stuffed, unsightly chew toy. "May I go on?" He asked lightly. There was a flurry of enthusiastic head nodding.

"As I said," Fat Cat continued, pulling out a map of the city that had a number of points circled in red or marked by green X's, "you will all be privileged to participate in this year's most compassionate caper, for I have devised a plan that will go down in history as a shining example of my magnanimous magnitude!

Wart scratched his head, "You're going to send out a Christmas swimsuit calendar?" He asked, trying to decide if people would care to see that kind of example of Fat Cat's magnitude.

"No, you benighted buffoon," Fat Cat said as he closed his eyes in frustration, "we're robbing some toy stores!"

Fat Cat opened his eyes, expecting glorious applause to great his revelation, or at least to see comprehension dawn in the dim eyes of his underlings. What he saw, instead, was mild shock and, in Mole's case, the beginnings of a sentient thought. This last fascinated Fat Cat because he had never before seen Mole really try to think.

As the others looked at each other, or at the floor, Mole squinted his eyes even more than usual, concentrated, and finally spoke the notion that he had so laboriously put together in his mind, "Gee, Boss, we can't rob a toy store today. That'd get us on the naughty list, and then Santa wouldn't bring us any treats!"

The other small villains looked relieved that Mole had spoken their doubts, except for Snout, who didn't believe in Santa but wanted the night off regardless.

"Why, Mole," Fat Cat purred, "I'm impressed. You've spotted what the consequences of our actions might bee, should our actions indeed be naughty." He smiled, "But, rest assured, what we will do tonight will not only be considered nice, but will most likely clear any other misdeeds you may have accidentally committed while carrying out my orders this year, thus assuring you a place on the List of those Who are Nice."

Fat Cat decided that a visual aid was needed, and before any of the small simpletons could understand or object, he reached under his desk and pulled out the centerpiece to his holiday heist.

"Behold!" He cried, holding high a bright red coat and a long stocking cap. They were perfect; detailed even to the point of having white fur trim around the collar and cuffs, while the hat sported a white, fluffy ball at its tip. It seemed to shine with a kindly light inside of the windowless office. Mole, Mepps, Snout and Wart all stared at it in Wonder.

"Ohhhhhh..." They breathed.

"With this," Fat Cat grinned, "We shall bring hope to those who have given up, and joy to the joyless! Gentlemen," he looked at the assembly, and seemed magnified in their eyes as he leapt atop his desk and triumphantly, and at long last, laid out his plan for the evening, "we will rob the toy stores not for profit or pleasure, but to deliver toys to orphans who've no family with whom they can celebrate this day, thus bringing Glory to my name and complying with my New Year's resolution to be known for generosity as well as genius!"

Mole clapped, but the others stood flabbergasted as their boss stripped off his regular, violet hued suit and pulled on the Big Red Coat. It had to be admitted that Fat Cat made an excellent looking Santa in that he was very round, and very merry in an evil sort of way.

The image was shattered when he put on the Cap, pulled out a city map with a number of locations circled in red, pointed towards the door and said, "This will make me a legend! Now get some bags and get going you fools; Operation Santa Claws has begun!"

-

Later that day a man could have looked up and seen an odd looking contraption soaring over the West Side, not far from Cat Alley and the Bee-Kay Toy Store.

"We should be at home drinking hot chocolate and watching Rudolph." Dale grumbled as he tried to burrow even deeper inside of his bright orange coat. The Rescue Rangers had been on patrol in the Ranger Plane for HOURS, and it was starting to get dark. Weren't chipmunks supposed to hibernate this time of year?

Chip, Dale's best friend and the author of his current misery, whirled around in the copilot's seat to give Dale an exasperated look. "We've only been out for a little while, Dale, and besides it's part of our job to make sure everything is okay before we take a break. That's part of what being a Rescue Ranger is all about!" Chip didn't seem to be as affected by the cold as his friend, perhaps because he was sitting next to Gadget, who was banking the plane around slowly in order to point them back towards headquarters without Chip noticing.

"Gee, C-Chip," the inventor chattered as she tried, and failed, to control the shivering that had taken over her body, "maybe we should call it a day. I m-mean, we have been out since lunch, and th-thing's seem quiet enough."

"Yeah, Chippa' me lad," rumbled Monterey Jack from the back, where he was seated next to Dale and beginning to wonder if his macho image would be injured by huddling with the shivering chipmunk, "it's one thing to be dedicated to the job, but it's Christmas Eve!"

"And FREEZING!" Squeaked Zipper, who was by now a VERY blue fly; the cold was especially hard on him, as small as he was, even inside of the nest he'd made inside of Monty's coat. The tiniest Ranger was having serious regrets about not staying behind at the tree. He could have been shaking his presents and, as Dale had said, drinking hot chocolate.

Chip hesitated, realizing that he was drifting into a place that Dale liked to call his 'obsessive dedication to duty that makes everyone else late even if they'd bought tickets a whole month before and nothing happened until after the show anyway' zone. It was something the fedora wearing rodent was trying to work on.

He smiled at his teammates. "Okay, you're right. Let's go home; it's not like anything's going to happen at the last min-"

"Hey," Dale called, looking over the side of the Plane, "what's Santa doing at a toy store?"

The others all looked at him strangely before asking the same question, "What?"

Dale looked a bit taken aback. "Well," he began, slowly, "you'd think he'd have all the toy's ready before he left the North Pole!"

Monty, and by extension Zipper, crowded over to look over Dale's shoulder to where the chipmunk was pointing. "Eh, the lad's right! There he is, big as life!"

Gadget and Chip saw what had captured Dale's attention when Gadget swung the Plane around to get a better look. Sure enough, there was a rotund, red clad figure half hidden under a bulging burlap sack as it hopped across the snow covered roof of the Bee-Kay Toy Store.

"Bit odd, Santa hoofin' it; especially on a day like this. "Monty said while he stroked his mustache contemplatively. "A bit early too. You think he's getting a jump on things this year?"

Zipper shrugged, but figured that the jolly Christmas elf might have had to advance his schedule a bit since the world population had exploded in the last half century. "Maybe skipped Canada?" He squeaked, managing to keep his teeth from clattering up the sparse sentence.

"Or maybe he'll hit 'em on the way back." Dale nodded, still peering at the dazzling vision, which seemed to grow larger as the Plane closed in on the building's roof.

Chip hushed the backseat discussion with a sharp gesture. "That's not the real Santa! It's too small." The others gave him a defiant glare before looking away, a bit miffed at his imperious declaration.

"Now, Chip," Gadget said, looking at him crossly, "You don't know that for sure. We've never seen the real Santa; maybe he's smaller in person?"

Not wanting to argue with Gadget, Chip let it go with a sigh and looked ahead again only to cry out in alarm, "Gadget, the roof!"

"Golly!" was all Gadget had time to say as the soft looking, snow covered roof rushed up at her. She reached down and pulled a yellow knob on the control panel causing a jet of compressed air to explode loudly from the Plane and into the roof, sending a vast cloud of snow in all directions while slowing their momentum and adjusting the angle of the Plane's decent. The inventor quickly set the vehicle down on the roof, now mostly cleared of snow, and made sure the suction cup's on its legs were firmly attached to the impromptu landing pad before looking at the others with a sheepish grin. "Sorry guys, I forgot to tell you about the new emergency landing jets I'd installed last week, but I think they tested great just now, don't you think?"

And with that, she hopped out of the Ranger Plane, leaving her four traumatized teammates frozen in their various, terrified poses.

"Tested?" Dale asked, utterly still; his frightened quivering had collided with his cold induced shivering, each canceling out the other.

"Just now?" Zipper squeaked, belatedly remembering that he could fly without mechanical assistance. He vowed to leave the Plane during landings in the future.

Monty just kissed a handful of lucky charms he'd worn around his neck and wrists. Chip recovered his wits and gave the older adventurer a shaky smile. "Any landing you can walk away from, huh?" He said, and jumped out of the Plane to join Gadget over by the edge of the building.

-

Fat Cat brushed off the skiff of snow that had settled over him and the alley that he'd fled into when he had heard a familiar, alarmed shout from above him back up on the roof. Those Wretched Rescue Rodents! They were riding that infernal flying bleach bottle; Fat Cat had seen it just as he'd jumped over the ledge and onto a fire escape, nearly losing the overloaded bag that he had slung over his back, and slid down to the bottom of the three story building. They had fired something at him, he was sure. There had been a loud noise and snow had risen up and fallen all over the roof and into the cluttered alley.

How could they have known about his brilliant plan? Were they spying on him? Didn't they ever take a day off? Weren't they supposed to be hibernating?

The corpulent crime lord saw red. He knew he could take four rodents and a fly, but those blasted vehicles that they wielded against him always had some kind of nasty surprise. "And besides," he said to himself after mastering his anger, "I can't very well kill my enemies on Christmas Eve. It should be a birthday present to me!"

He looked up, hearing a faint commotion, and saw a mouse, the female, looking down at him. She looked surprised. Fat Cat grinned at her, turned, and fled down the alley towards the rendezvous point where he would meet his (hopefully) successful gang. Her shout, "Hey, it's Fat Cat!" echoed behind him.

Monterey wasn't cold anymore. The shot of adrenalin that had jolted through his system when Gadget had yelled that it was Fat Cat that they had been spying on made the foggy air that he breathed out seem more like the hot exhaust produced by a high-octane engine.

At least that's what he told himself as he puffed away, winding the main spring of Gadget's newest, and biggest plunger cannon, which she'd mounted on the back of the Ranger Plane that morning, saying something about the team needing a long shot and being eager to try it out. The mustachioed mouse was ignorant of the workings behind the mechanism, aside from need to rotate a winch handle to reset the spring after it had been fired, but couldn't argue with its usefulness or power. They'd already used the BFP (the Big Freakin' Plunger, as Dale had christened it) to knock Fat Cat sprawling as they chased him through a labyrinth of alleys and vacant back streets.

Of course, Gadget hadn't planned to do that to the big kitty. Chip had been aiming for the overlarge sack that covered the criminal's back. The lad had hit the mark, but the rough material of the bag, combined with its uneven surface prevented the plunger from creating enough suction to stick, thus preventing the Rangers from retrieving Fat Cat's loot from the air. That hadn't prevented the kinetic energy from the plunger being transferred into Fat Cat resulting in him being driven into a dappled gray snow bank and the sack spilling some of its contents upon the alley floor.

"What's Fat Cat want with a doll or a football?" Gadget asked as she took the Plane up, using their advantage of mobility and altitude to track their quarry as he quickly gathered up the spilled booty and darted off. Their old foe didn't seem panicked, and didn't even stop to curse them in his usual manner. He clearly had a plan and knew exactly where he was fleeing.

"I don't know!" called Chip as he finished reeling in the plunger, using a handle similar to the one Monty was now locking into place on the opposite side of the BFP. The team leader made sure the plunger was seated correctly in the bore before resetting the firing pin. He didn't know how the cannon worked, really; just that when he pulled the trigger it would release the firing pin, which would unlock the main spring and set fly to the huge plunger. Chip looked down at the maze below, searching for his target, but Fat Cat seemed to have disappeared.

"Where'd he go?" Chip asked, baffled. It didn't seem like they could lose track of a large cat who was decked out in a bright red coat and cap and running around inside of a dank, colorless alley.

"I saw him go into that T intersection there," said Dale, pointing to the junction of an alley and a little used back street. "But he didn't go anywhere else, or we would have seen him!"

"Lot 'o cover!" Observed Zipper, noting two large dumpsters, a half disassembled table and an old couch that littered the area. "Hiding?"

Gadget set the Plane into a hovering pattern thirty feet above the intersection and took a look for herself. She didn't like what she saw. "I don't know guys," she said, warily, "Fat Cat doesn't hide. Not from rodents. He's probably hoping we come close enough to wherever he is to ambush us."

"You're probably right Gadget, but we can't just sit up here and give him time to figure out an escape." Chip said, "We have to flush him out. He might leave the goods behind if we keep the upper hand. They're slowing him down."

None of the Rangers had ever seriously thought that they could capture and hold Fat Cat. Where would they keep him?

"Alright," said Monty, grinning over his shoulder at Chip, "What'd ya have in mind pally?"

Chip took a moment to look around the area, saw something interesting, then smiled at his friend and pulled his hat down tighter on his head. "Okay, here's the plan…"

-

"Why do I pay those idiots, those incompetents, those lame brained lay-abouts?" Fat Cat crouched between the wall of one of the buildings and a dumpster. He'd been waiting five minutes for his henchmen to arrive and had spent most of that time listing each one of their individual faults. Those meddling rodents were still flying around up above; he could hear the distinctive sound of their flying machine even though he couldn't see it.

An idea for distracting or disabling them had come to mind, but he needed more than his own two paws to accomplish the feat, and his worthless, lazy, no good employees were… coming up the street, not bothering with stealth as they gasped for air, struggling under the weight of their own toy bags.

"It's the Rescue Rangers!" Fat Cat cringed at Mepp's grating warning. So much for the element of surprise, he thought, and leaped atop the dumpster. The troops were about where he'd estimated them to be from Mepp's shout; right next to another trash bin.

"Goons!" He shouted at the top of his lungs. "Disassemble that dumpster lid and hold it up; and get something heavy from the bin!" Fat Cat jumped back down and grabbed the bag before running out to meet with his gang, which was pulling one of the black plastic lids off of the nearest dumpster. He looked up and saw the flying machine rounding about and the large mouse, Moony or something, swiveling that cursed plunger gun to bear on the ground bound animals.

The lid came off its hinges after being subjected to a bout of chewing by Snout and a round of violent pounding by the others. It slid to the ground with a wobbly crash. Fat Cat grabbed the edge and flipped it up in front of him just in time to intercept the huge plunger that had been fired (again!) at his esteemed person.

Growling, the large Tom reached around his shield and yanked on the rope connecting the plunger to the cannon. There was a brief commotion in the air, and then the rope went slack in his paws. He looked around the lid and saw that the big mouse had cut the line after Fat Cat's strong pull had nearly caused the flying machine to crash into one of the buildings. The feline allowed himself a short, satisfied grin. That would deprive them of their best weapon for the time being.

"Here, Boss," Wart simpered from somewhere near Fat Cat's elbow, "Is this big enough?"

Fat Cat looked down and saw Wart standing next to a mostly empty steel can; an old paint can. "It'll do," he said, shortly, although in truth he was impressed that they'd found something useful right away. "You and the others grab those cinder blocks by that doorway," he indicated a stack of crumbling concrete blocks that were stacked up by the backdoor of a Chinese restaurant, "and set them on either end of this lid so that it's wedged tightly."

He took hold of the can as his gang scrambled to do his bidding and risked another look around the lid to scan the rooftops and sky. The bleach bottle was still up there, hovering, and it looked like its occupants were distracted, looking the other way, down the street. It was perfect!

The lid was wedged as tightly as possible, and Fat Cat ordered his minions to pull the top back towards the street. He even added his own strength to the endeavor before laying the can along the lip and ordering the others to let go. The lid sprung forward, catapulting the paint can up and towards the odd looking plane. It had hit its apex and was starting to come down, gathering momentum and was a direct line to connect with the Rescue Rodents when the pilot finally noticed the attack.

Fat Cat thought he heard an alarmed shout as the flying machine swerved up and away, almost, but not quite avoiding the speeding paint can. There was a sharp sound, plastic cracking, and a mechanical grinding noise before the vehicle lurched away, settling awkwardly on the ledge of one of the buildings that surrounded Fat Cat and his gang.

Smiling as his followers cheered, Fat Cat almost missed another sound that came from further up the alley. A faint squeaking came from the direction that the Ranger's had been looking just a moment before, it sounded like rusty hinges swinging open.

Snout squinted, watching an old metal gate open up into the street. There was a small sign hung over it, reading "East Side Animal Shelter: Keep Gate Closed at All Times"

"Oh… uh-oh," Fat Cat breathed as a wave of barking bounded off of the walls. He saw two chipmunks scamper out onto the gate and wave at him merrily before a dozen dogs, ranging from German Shepherds to Pekingese Poodles exploded into the alley. They spotted the large cat down the way and surged forward like a tide.

"Retreat!" Fat Cat yelled back at his toadies as he ran past them, "And don't forget your bags!"

They had a head start, and they needed every inch.

To Be Continued…