This is the 3rd official Group Collaboration. Unlike the previous stories, this is not to feature any of the Fanon characters. It is part of "TUGS Nostalgia" a project that attempts to write stories like the original TUGS stories. This story concerns what happened when the Z-Stacks tried to cause trouble as the tugs towed the returning liner "S.S. Vienna."
To run a fleet of tugs, you must remember that there will always be trouble. On this particular day, I was short one tug; Hercules was leaving for a trip up the coast. He was our strongest and largest tug, and I would have needed his strength for towing in the returning liner; the S.S. Vienna, meaning I was once again loosing his strength on the day I needed it most. Hercules knew that he was needed, but he couldn't just change his schedule; he'd have to call the Coast Guard up the coast and rearrange everything and cause confusion and delay. I had no choice but to call the Z-Stacks, run by the devious Captain Zero, an order I knew I would eventually regret.
I had gathered my fleet along with Captain Zero and his fleet. "Good Morning Star Fleet and ...er...Z-Stacks. Captain Zero and myself have agreed to work together today, or, until further notice, only for today. We will split the profits 50-50 to make it fair..." "Z-Stacks don't play fair," Zorran muttered crossly to himself. Zak chuckled. Zorran glared. Zak shut up instantly. "...As S.S. Vienna doesn't come til' evening you all will do your other jobs. Ten Cents and Zip, you two will be collecting the oil barge for Lillie. A fog is going to roll in and we need Lillie's light to bring Vienna in..." "Right away, Captain Star," answered Ten Cents. "Sure thing Captain Zero...er...I mean...Captain Star." said Zip who was quite confused. "...Sunshine and Zug, you will be with Billy Shoepack helping him bring dynamite to a demolition zone for the rebuilding of the old pier." "You'd better keep up with me or else I will leave you behind," snapped Zug. "It better to be safe then sorry," said Sunshine, knowing Billy much too well."Now Zorran, Top Hat, and Zak will help repair an old railway bridge up river." said Captain Zero slyly. "Yes, sir," Zorran and Zak said together. "Why do I have to work with these idiots?" Top Hat muttered. "TOP HAT!!!" I snapped. "Right, I'm going, I'm going.," I believe Top Hat to be a good tug but he is often too pompus for me to realize it. "OJ, you're taking the garbage today." "Eyeye, sir," OJ answered. "The rest of you will be towing ships in and collecting salvages." "Right," grunted Big Mac. "No garbage for me. I'm sure I'll have no mistakes," Warrior said with confidence and Big Mac laughed. "Sure thing, Captain," said Zebedee, who tried to smile. Soon everyone, even Captain Zero, was gone. I noticed some familiar bubbling. "What do you want me to do?" asked Grampus. "I want you to make sure that the Z-stacks behave." "Yes sir." I found out this was lucky, I did this as you will soon find out.
"So, Topham-" Zorran began. "That's Top Hat!" snapped Top Hat. "Toppy," Zorran snickered. "Looks like you'll be working with us!" "Yes, but don't think that I'll be deterred," Top Hat said, pouting. "I can't be pushed about! Oof!" That last 'oof' was because a tanker barge floated in front of Top Hat. The poor railway tug slammed into him bow on."Sorry," said the barge. The Z-Stacks laughed. "It's not funny," said Top Hat. "It is from here!" laughed Zak. Top Hat just angrily stormed away collecting repair barges.
It was evening, and the S.S Vienna was visible. Big Mac, Warrior, and Zebedee were heading out to go help Vienna. Warrior and Zebedee were pushing from the S.S. Vienna's stern, while Big Mac was pulling from the bow. They were going well, and were making good time. However, several excursion steamboats were in their way! Big Mac blew his whistle importantly. "Outta my way!" he shouted. But the steamboats wouldn't budge. "We're out of coal, and there are no tugs to get it for us!" they shouted. Meanwhile, Ten Cents and Zip were taking the empty oil barge back from Lillie's station, when they saw the fiasco. "Oy! What's been going on over here?" asked Ten Cents. "Aye, there's been a wee problem with these steamers over here..." Just then, Billy Shoepack and Zorran arrived, with Zorran and Zak towing each 3 coal barges! "Well well well," oiled Zorran. "We've got the coal you need." "So give it to us, we're a team here!" ordered Big Mac. "I'll give you the coal, if you leave, and let us get all the profits!" "We'll never do that!" shouted Ten Cents. "We'll then, you'll just have to "persuade" those steamers to get out of the way, if you know what I mean!" said Zorran. "Send them to the bottom? That's not what a real tug would ever do!" yelled a very mad Ten Cents.
The Star Tugs were now in the thick of choppy seas, trying to take a fully loaded liner through fairly shallow and dangerous waters. They were trying a different route, to avoid the anchored steamers. "Umm... Ten Cents..." muttered Sunshine, who was now helping. "What's that you 'ave to say?" asked Ten Cents. "I was given.. umm.. a new radio." "What? Like the one in Captain Star's Office?" replied Ten Cents. "Me and Top Hat, and Hercules were given them, as an experiment." explained Sunshine. "Anyways, I can use it to call Top Hat and Hercules to help us!" he finished. "Thats a great idea, little tugs" said a voice. It was Vienna, talking to the little tugs! "I think that just excellent to have more tugs here," said Vienna loftily.
Top Hat was finishing up the chores in the harbor, when he heard a voice. "This is Sunshine speaking, we need more tugs to help bring in Vienna, and please, bring some coal barges. Over!"
Meanwhile, near Dender Rocks,the tugs encountered Izzy Gomez leaving the port. "Oy,Izzy,where are you going in such a hurry, eh?" "I'm going back to Puerto Grande, there's a storm coming in.You tugs be careful. I ran into Grampus, your Star Fleet submarine. He said he was looking for you or somethin' like that. Anyway, the storm's coming in from the east, and fast, so I'd better get
The tugs kept going until they reached two small peninsulas with a small clearing in between them. "There's only room for a small tug to pass, much less than four tugs and a passenger liner," said Sunshine. Suddenly,through the fog came Top Hat and Hercules, each of them puling three coal barges! "We're here to help," annouced Hercules. Suddenly, a giant wave smashed into one of Top Hat's barges,and it sank to the bottom. "We better leave, my dears. The storm is getting worse. Now where are those Steamers again?" "Over by the east side of Lenard's Island," said Ten Cents."We must hurry then," said Top Hat. And the tugs, with the ship, drifted into the fog.