Cranky the Crane gives little engines Thomas and Percy a lot of grief in the title story. To make matters worse, big engines Gordon and James side with the ill-tempered lifter and the little guys get nervous and begin making mistakes on the job. They redeem themselves, however, when Cranky topples in a storm and Thomas and his buddy put him back upright. Other stories feature twin engines Bill and Ben having "teething troubles," Toad the brake van's forward-thinking ambition, grumpy Gordon crashing through a station wall, and storyteller Alec Baldwin adopting a falsetto as Lady Hatt, Sir Topham Hatt's wife and birthday girl. In lieu of a seventh story, a chorus of kids sings "Night Train" while the model trains steam through darkness in a series of dramatic scenarios.
An all-expenses-paid international search for a rare copy of the book, 'The Nine Gates of the Shadow Kingdom' brings an unscrupulous book dealer deep into a world of murder, double-dealing and satanic worship.
Computer scientist Hannon Fuller has discovered something extremely important. He's about to tell the discovery to his colleague, Douglas Hall, but knowing someone is after him, the old man leaves a letter in his computer generated parallel world that's just like the 30's with seemingly real people with real emotions.