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Fanfic / The Nowakverse

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Fan art of Widget Hackwrench.

The Nowakverse is probably the most famous Fan Verse in the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers fandom. It started with John Nowak's Fan Fic Under the Bridge which was followed by another two stories by the same author, Icarus and Sovereign. Several other authors at least used elements from the Nowakverse in their stories, be it only the main original character, Gadget's long lost sister Widget Hackwrench, be it Widget's self-made submarine Albacore including the entire crew, her husband, Kapitänleutnant Jürgen Jürgen, and their son, Gimcrack. Widget actually managed to build up so much of a fame of her own that no other original character from Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers Fan Fic has ever been subject of more Fan Art.

The stories in the Nowakverse contain examples of:

  • Albinos Are Freaks: Widget was born albino and missing an arm, and was dropped from an overpass by Monterey Jack when she was a baby. She was "raised" by an abusive street mother who called her "Li'l Freako" and used her to get handouts before ODing, after which Widget had to fend for herself on the streets, building her own artificial limb.
  • Artificial Limbs: Widget was born without a left arm. Fortunately, she grew into a skilled mechanic and made herself a spring-driven artificial arm.
  • Author Vocabulary Calendar: These stories hammer heavily on "Byronic" and "pelagic" (the latter of which is completely misused).
  • Badass Cape: Widget wears a black cape with her black wetsuit. Unlike most Badass Capes, it doesn't flow freely behind her, though. Instead, it's neatly wrapped around her left arm, only leaving her left hand free on which she always wears a glove. She wears the cape and the glove so that nobody can see that her left arm is a spring-loaded, mechanical prosthetic.
  • Bamboo Technology: Even Albacore (see Cool Boat) falls victim to this. Mr. Fenton, a bat, is not only the sonar operator, he is the actual sonar. He shouts through a watertight panel that nonetheless lets sound through and then listens to the reflections in much the same way bats do when flying through the dark.
  • Batman Gambit: The Minuscule scene. Widget has Albacore fire an iceberg torpedo that promptly creates an iceberg in front of the rodent-sized cruise ship Minuscule which collides with it and sinks. All this only serves to lure the Rescue Rangers out onto a rescue mission. The Rangers do exactly what Widget expects them to — and Albacore can attack the hovering Ranger Plane.
  • Battle Ballgown: Widget's wedding at the end of Under the Bridge is the first time that she shows her feminine side by wearing a dress. That said, she still distrusts the world around herself so much that she had her wedding dress made from Kevlar out of all materials just to be on the safe side.
  • BFG: The Darned Nearly Recoilless Rifle is pretty huge if operated by mice. .22 rimfire cartridges might be small for humans, but at rodents' scale, we're talking about the equivalent of a howitzer. They're large enough to require a big weapon which, despite Widget's efforts, is anything but "nearly recoilless". Therefore, the "Recoilless" is a shoulder-fired, single-round weapon.
  • Break the Cutie: Gadget. After Widget attacked the Rangers trying to kill her and turned into a permanent threat, she transforms from the kindest and most compassionate Ranger to a cold-blooded killer and plans to hunt down and kill Widget first by attacking and sinking her submarine, all hands aboard or not, her weapon of choice illegal or not. It is in fact an exaggeration of Gadget's only canonical Berserk Button, but this time it's taken so far that some consider it Out of Character.
  • Byronic Hero: Widget turns into one in Under the Bridge. She also refers to herself as one over and over and over again since her Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Cameo: Danger Mouse and Penfold appear in Sovereign.
  • Cats Are Mean: Especially those who tried to trap Monty, Geegaw and the newborn babies on the bridge.
  • Circles of Hell: Tailor-made for the Rangers in Chip's afterlife dream in Under the Bridge. Monty's Circle of Hell is a gigantic fondue into which he has been dropped, Dale's Circle of Hell is a software development office in which he has to rid a GUI operating system of all bugs. Chip himself ends up in Gadget's Circle of Hell: her marriage with him.
  • Cool Boat: Albacore is so this. Officially declared a Submarine Rescue Vessel, it is actually a highly-advanced rodent-sized attack submarine. It sports saw blades on top and on the sides that gives it an appearance similar to Nautilus from Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea movie (although this particular Nautilus itself appears on the show in the episode "A Creep in the Deep"). It is powered by a so-called Nimnul Device that draws its energy from single socks passing from a washing-machine into some parallel dimension, giving Albacore enough thrust to jump out of the water and ram low-flying rodent aircraft. Besides, it is armed with a number of torpedo launchers facing forward, backward and sideways which can shoot a variety of torpedoes including a model that freezes water and creates small icebergs within seconds. All this is made even more impressive by the fact that Albacore was built out of junk by one single one-armed mouse. Now compare this to the three subs that Gadget has cobbled together in the show.
  • Character Development: In particular, Widget in Under the Bridge. She starts out as the story's main villain, a cold-blooded killer lusting for revenge who has built an attack submarine and hired a crew including war veteran Kapitänleutnant Jürgen as the captain in order to go on a vendetta against her own twin sister — without anyone aboard knowing who she is and that the target in question is her sister in the first place. However, things start to change later in the story when she slowly but steadily discovers the feelings she is developing for Jürgen. And then a young sailor is injured aboard her submarine. She has to comfort him and even let him call her "Mommy". While her Heel–Face Turn doesn't make her nearly as nice as her sister, she comes out of the story as a both self-described and actual Byronic Hero. Having a little son changes her even further.
  • Dark Action Girl: Widget. Sure, her main weapon is a submarine blistering with all kinds of armament, but she is more than capable of close combat if need be. In fact, when she was fighting Gadget after the Battle of the Casino, her sister would have had a terrible disadvantage without her flamethrower lighter. It's safe to assume that Widget designed her spring-loaded prosthetic left arm with combat in mind.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Widget's Backstory. She was born as a one-armed, albino, "freak-of-nature" twin sister to a "perfect" cute blond mouse girl (Gadget). She almost drowned in a river when she was only a few hours old, leading her to the assumption that her father wanted to kill her due to how freaky she was. Actually, when her father Geegaw and his best friend Monty were on their way home with Geegaw's babies — her mother died at childbirth, her two brothers were stillborn —, they were ambushed by a bunch of street cats on a bridge across the aforementioned river. They could only save themselves by jumping into the river. In the cold water, however, Geegaw who was carrying Gadget got a cramp. Monty couldn't rescue him while holding Widget in one arm. He had to choose between holding on to Widget and leaving both his best friend and the other babies to drown or helping Geegaw and thereby Gadget, but letting go of Widget. Widget was eventually washed ashore and put into a horrible orphanage where she spent most of her childhood. Eventually, she found a new mother, but this new mother turned out to be a drug addict who died of an overdose when Widget was 14. Being orphaned yet again, Widget relocated to a junk yard where she had lived ever since.
  • Darker and Edgier: A lot in comparison to the show, not only because Under the Bridge was written in the heyday of Dark Fic, but also because given the crime-fighting, mystery-solving, villain-battling nature of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, it's only logical for its Fan Fic to take this very premise to extremes that were unthinkable at Disney. For starters, whereas the latter stuck to their Never Say "Die" rule in "To the Rescue, part 3" by having Gadget say that she "lost" her father, Icarus is about Geegaw's death, period. Under the Bridge is mostly a revenge story with a very ruthless antagonist that doesn't shy away from non-comical use of heavy weaponry (mind you, TaleSpin was sometimes criticized for its gratuitous use of machine gun fire) and disregard of collateral damage (although Rhyme and Reason, the mother of all CDRR Fan Fic, takes this even further) and even mentions a past war and lethal drug addiction.
  • Down in the Dumps: Widget spent much of her youth living on a junkyard. This wasn't too bad because it provided her with everything she needed to build Albacore.
  • Emoticon: Mice put an 8 in front of their emoticons in e-mails to identify themselves to their readers as mice.
  • Enemy Mine: After a young cadet has injured an ankle aboard Albacore in Under the Bridge, Widget needs someone to fly him out to have him treated. Even if that someone is Gadget, the very mouse whom she has tried to kill over the course of most of the story. Bonus points: Gadget is already piloting the Ranger Wing towards Albacore — but with a self-made torpedo made out of an illegally-imported Soviet machine gun round slung under the aircraft in order to sink Albacore.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": At least during the first chapters of Under the Bridge, nobody aboard Albacore knows Widget's name, not even Kapitänleutnant Jürgen, because she has never introduced herself to any one of them by her real name. That way, she hides from her crew that the target is her sister, and the mission is in fact part of an in-family vendetta. So, for a lack of a name, they all call her "The Gray Mouse" (which refers to her gray hair). In fact, readers who haven't been filled in on the story before reading it don't know her name either until it's revealed.
  • Evil Counterpart: Widget is this to Gadget as they're both Gadgeteer Geniuses and Wrench Wenches, but while Gadget is mostly kind (unless triggered the wrong way, that is), Widget starts out evil through and through.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Darned Nearly Recoilless Rifle is a rifle that is almost recoilless. What recoil is left, however, can still knock a single gunmouse over backwards.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Chip's afterlife dream has Monty end up in a hot fondue cauldron for retribution.
  • Foreign Sounding Gibberish: One character in Sovereign not only speaks in half-Gratuitous German, but even his name is borrowed from German words that aren't even actual German first or family names.
    "Ich bin Muenster von Kublewagen-Nebelwerfer, der family solicitor."
  • Furry Female Mane: Widget has got white fur but long gray hair tied up in a ponytail.
  • Gibberish of Love: Chip falls victim to this when he ends up in Gadget's afterlife dream in Under the Bridge. As it looks like they're going to spend their afterlife together, he might just as well reveal his feelings to her. He Couldn't Spit It Out before, and now he tries, just to discover he still can't.
    He had to say something to express his love.
    That wasn't it.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation:
    • Widget grew up in a horrible orphanage, with a drug addict and on a junk yard, not knowing that she has any siblings. Then she learns that she has got a twin sister named Gadget who is beautiful and who has got friends. This gives her the idea that her parents had tried to drown her in the river in favor of her "perfect" twin sister who therefore is to blame for Widget's miserable past. This, Widget seeks revenge on her own sister and sets an elaborate murder plan into motion that involves the construction of an advanced attack submarine and the hiring of a war veteran as its captain.
    • Gadget may be the kindest mousette you'll ever encounter. However, threatening her or her friends, the Rescue Rangers, is her Berserk Button, and then you don't want to be around her. Threatening to kill her and her friends with what amounts to heavy military equipment — and she soon discovers that it's exactly this what Widget does — will trigger her hard enough to go on her own killing spree, breaking laws left and right.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The massive help mission which the Rangers launch in Under the Bridge after they've received Widget's call for help. She has an injured sailor who needs to be taken to a hospital, but for one, she still doesn't trust the Rangers and takes the truth about her past as a lie. Gadget is already on her way to Albacore with the Ranger Wing, but she carries a homing torpedo with which she wants to sink her sister's submarine. Time is tight because not only is there a sailor with a heavy injury to be taken care of, but all this will have to be arranged before Albacore comes into Gadget's sight, at which point she will launch the deadly torpedo. The mission plays out like this:
    • Chip stays at the HQ with the two-way radio on which the Rangers have received Widget's distress call, getting into contact with Widget and warning her that Gadget is on her way to destroy Albacore. He also serves as a relay between Widget and Dale, Monty and Zipper; see below.
    • Since the Ranger Wing doesn't have a radio, there's no way for Chip or anyone else to get into contact with Gadget and update her on the current situation. So it's up to Widget and/or the crew of Albacore to keep Gadget from firing the torpedo. And since the Rangers have no other aircraft at their disposal since Albacore had destroyed the Ranger Plane, Gadget and the Ranger Wing are the only chance Widget has to have the sailor flown out, so a counter-attack on the Ranger Wing is out of question.
    • The trickiest part is to get Widget to trust Gadget and the Rangers. This can only work by proving to her that the story about the escape from the bridge, Geegaw's cramp in the cold water and Monty's tough choice is the truth. The Rangers have told Widget this story, but since it came from her arch-enemies, she refused to believe it and stuck to her version, so the Rangers need proof. Therefore, Dale, Monty and Zipper roam the city, trying to find the very same cats that had attacked Geegaw and Monty that fateful night because they'd be the only witnesses. However, the three fail to find these cats in time before Gadget comes in sight of Albacore, so Chip has to bluff and tell Widget that they did find the cats.
    • Finally, upon hearing Chip's bluff and taking it for the truth, Widget has Albacore fly distress signal flags and goes outside. That way, if Gadget carries on on her attack, she will have to see Widget when she kills her, not to mention sink a vessel flying a legitimate distress signal, and Widget doubts that Gadget is cold-blooded enough for that. Widget also takes Andy, the young injured sailor, with her to go on comforting him — and so that Gadget would also have to see at least one helpless collateral victim when she launches the torpedo.
  • Gratuitous German:
    • Despite speaking English fluently, and although hardly anyone around him with the exception of Widget would even understand him, Kapitänleutnant Jürgen keeps slipping back into his native German. His reaction upon Gadget's self-made flame-thrower (see Kill It with Fire) is just one example.
    • Widget also isn't immune, shouting the German command "Los!" right after specifically reminding herself not to do that.
  • Heel–Face Turn: During the fateful events of Under the Bridge, Widget develops from the Big Bad to a Byronic Hero.
  • Kill It with Fire: Gadget's choice of a self-defense weapon against Widget is a disposable lighter, modified so that she can hold and operate it horizontally and use it as a flamethrower.
    Jürgen: "Flammenwerfer!"
  • Left Hanging: Sovereign Part 4 is still missing. According to Word of God, it had partially been written already, but it shall be rewritten entirely.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Gadget didn't even know she has a sister until Widget showed up. On a similar note, neither did Widget for quite a long time.
  • Love Triangle: Gidget, Bertie and David in Under the Bridge. Who they are doesn't matter because David is only mentioned by name, and Gidget and Bertie are mere decoration for the cruise ship Minuscule which is sunk by Albacore a few paragraphs later.
  • Meaningful Name: Hackwrench (may fit Widget even better than Gadget), Jürgen, etc.
  • Mistaken Identity: Two-way. Gadget and Widget have a mail conversation in Under the Bridge. However, neither does Widget know that her opposite is the very same sister she wants to kill, nor does Gadget know that her opposite is her sister (or that she has a sister at all), let alone that said sister is out to kill her.
  • Mood Whiplash: Under the Bridge in particular is quite a dramatic Dark Fic, but it keeps throwing in funny or even wacky bits when you expect them the least.
  • MST: Under the Bridge was MSTed by Nowak himself, along with Matt Plotecher of Chip Noir Dales Rescue Rangers fame. Not the only MSTing they wrote together, but the only CDRR fanfic MSTed by its own author.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Gadget is pretty much addicted to the stuff (which may already have been established fanon back then).
  • Mythology Gag: Before she first encounters the Rangers, Widget lets off her anger on what clearly are Gadget dolls made by Applause, known among Rangerphiles as "Gadget plushies" and for being outrageously expensive nowadays. The only hints at their identity are their make, their size, and that Jürgen asks Widget if they should travel to Orlandonote  to get more. Under the Bridge seems to try to explain why the "Gadget plushies" were so rare and costly back then already.
  • No OSHA Compliance: After a young sailor aboard Albacore is severely injured when his ankle is caught in an open drive chain, even Widget has to admit that leaving them completely unshrouded wasn't such a bright idea.
  • Poor Communication Kills: All of this could have been avoided if only Gadget talked with Widget after the fateful science fair competition.
  • Power Fist: Widget's spring-loaded left hand.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Gadget when Monty says she sounds just like Widget as she reveals her plans to kill her sister.
    "I. Do. Not."
  • Purple Prose: The third chapter of Under the Bridge starts out with this in the short scene with Bertie and Gidget aboard the R.M.S. Minuscule. It ends when the story cuts to aboard Albacore which prepares for an attack on Minuscule.
  • Ramming Always Works: Well, it did work for Jürgen in whatever war made him a veteran. He took out aircraft by ramming them — with a submarine. Monterey Jack can confirm this, for he and Geegaw were in the Air Force back then. And it still does work because he attacks the Ranger Plane this way.
  • Red Right Hand: Widget's mechanical left arm which she hides under a black cloak and in a black glove. She is very sensitive about it and makes sure that nobody aboard Albacore ever finds out about it — well, at least until the events of Under the Bridge unfold, and they don't quite unfold the way she intended them to.
  • Repetitive Name: Kapitänleutnant Jürgen. His family name is Jürgen, his first name is Jürgen, and his middle name happens to be Jürgen, too. His father stuttered and didn't want to correct his mistake.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Two-fold, even. Widget built a sophisticated attack submarine, hired a crew for it and even sinks a rodent ferryboat as Rescue Rangers bait just to exact revenge on her sister Gadget. Gadget, in turn, after finding out that Widget is out to kill her, builds a guided torpedo out of an illegally imported Russian machine gun round to sink Widget's submarine with everyone aboard.
  • Rule of Cool: All over the place.
  • Scavenged Punk: Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers is this already, but Widget takes it to all new levels. It helps that she planned her revenge on Gadget when she was living on a junkyard.
  • Secret Identity:
    • Until some point in Under the Bridge, Widget doesn't want anyone to know that she's hunting down her own twin sister. So she reveals her identity to the crew of Albacore who only know her by the name "The Gray Mouse".
    • In a sense, the same trope applies to the identities both Gadget and Widget have assumed online. They've exchanged mails about engineering subjects quite amicably for quite a while already without even knowing who their respective counterpart was.
  • Self-Deprecation: In the aformentioned MSTing, (which, remember, Nowak himself co-wrote) Mike & the Bots frequently poke fun at the story's dark tone and the overuse of Technobabble. Later, Nowak shows up and depicts himself as a "dark Dilbert" who always over analyzes things.
  • Shared Universe/Fan Verse: No Rangerverse saw as many guest writers as the Nowakverse.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Exterminator is based on a Dalek toy.
    • Kapitänleutnant Jürgen could be one to Das Boot. He is even addressed as "Herr Kaleun" like Jürgen Prochnow's character.
    • Although not explicitly mentioned, Albacore is one to the Nautilus (although the latter's Disney live-action version has a full-blown Cameo in the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "A Creep in the Deep").
    Large saw blades ran from bow to the top of the forward part of the bridge, and along the sides and bottom of the bow. The blades would cut fishnet and gave the black vessel a strangely familiar appearance.
  • Speak of the Devil: In Under the Bridge.
  • Spy Catsuit: Widget's black wet suit.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Especially in Sovereign, but also the remarkable scene in Under the Bridge when Widget tries to kill the Rangers for the first time.
  • Sub Story: Under The Bridge.
  • Take That!: Dale's Circle of Hell in Under the Bridge might be one to Microsoft Windows 95.
  • Tank Goodness: The Exterminator from Under the Bridge, although it's so small that it has only got a crew of one.
  • Technology Porn: John Nowak managed to describe the contraptions in his stories at such a high level of detail that it's almost possible to rebuild them in Real Life unless the Rule of Cool is involved.
  • Thememobile: What'd Widget be without Albacore?
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • The Darned Nearly Recoilless Rifles designed by Widget. .22 Rimfire might be small for humans, but they are described in Under the Bridge as the rodent equivalent of 150mm artillery. Nevertheless, they were conceived and are used mostly as anti-personnel rifles.
    • Also in Under the Bridge, Gadget herself builds a magnetic homing torpedo out of an illegaly imported Soviet 14.5×114 heavy anti-tank machine gun round to kill Widget by sinking her entire submarine even if that means also drowning the entire rest of the crew.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Averted. Using a surprisingly subtle bit of character reference, Nowak makes it clear Jurgen wasn't one.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Widget takes several ones, starting when she has to take care of a young injured sailor squirrel named Andy and culminating with the birth of her son Gimcrack.
  • The Un-Favorite: Widget thinks she is one in comparison to Gadget to the point where her own father allegedly tried to drown her.
  • The Voice: In Chip's afterlife dream.
  • Walking Spoiler: Widget. Her forename alone halfway gives away who she is and where she comes from. And the reader isn't supposed to know this right away because the story keeps it secret for at least the first two chapters.
  • Wrench Wench: Widget, maybe even more so than Gadget. It helped that she spent several years of her life living on a junkyard.
  • You Keep Using That Word: "Pelagic" means an open zone in the deep ocean. It has nothing to do with cats. Given that Nowak co-wrote the MST of Under the Bridge, presumably he looked up what the word meant at some point after writing the story, because the MST beats him up heavily for misusing the word.

Alternative Title(s): Under The Bridge