Chapter Nine: Assault
Sparks paused inside the maintenance tube at a hatch leading back into the habitable portion of the Fury. A male voice screaming no finally died away. "Guess this is my stop." He pulled the hatch up and froze.
Four Internal Security officers were escorting the human woman he had met earlier in Dr. Fender's lab. Two gripped her arms and pushed and pulled her down the hall. The other two flanked them.
Charley-ma'am. He swallowed hard. He couldn't help her, no matter how badly he wanted to. The group turned right at the intersection he was above. I'll get Roddie and Throttle. Then we can come get ya. Biker's honor. Even if I ain't a biker yet.
He waited until he was sure the group had passed. Then he dangled from the hatch and dropped silently to the floor below. He quickly headed up the hall.
Roddie's soothing tone of voice was audible from behind the cell door, but he couldn't make out the words. "And what do we have behind door number one?" Sparks quickly worked the controls and the door began to slide open.
"They're all gonna pay, Roddie. Starting with this one!" A large male's hand grabbed a fistful of Sparks's T-shirt as soon as the door slid open enough and yanked him inside. The tan mouse's other fist was cocked back, readying to punch.
"Sparks!" Roddie cried and grabbed hold of the tan mouse's arm before he could throw the punch.
"Is this the way you always greet the cavalry?" The grey-furred boy said shakily.
"Sorry, thought you were with Internal Security." He released Sparks, pulled down his shades, and blinked his red eyes at the kid.
Roddie grabbed hold of Sparks's shoulders as soon as Throttle let go and shook the boy hard. "What are you doing here!"
"Rescuing you; what does it look like?"
"Whose idea was this?"
"I was the only one small enough to fit through the maintenance tubes." He said, hoping Roddie was in the mood to be logical about his helping.
She wasn't. "Whose idea?" She gave him another shake.
"We're space debris," Sparks concluded.
"Roddie?" Throttle said slowly. His eyes were still uncovered.
Laser bolts hit the doorway. "It'll wait!" Throttle thrust Sparks behind him, snatching a gun off the boy's belt. He covered himself in the cell doorway, shoved his shades back in place, and returned fire.
The black-furred mouse seethed for a second longer, then held out her hand. Sparks laid a gun into it, carefully avoiding direct eye contact with her solid-blue eyes. She knelt on the other side of the door and started firing down the hall. Throttle continued to fire above her head.
Sparks angled himself in the cell so he could see the other end of the hall--the one Roddie and Throttle had their backs to. Three Internal Security officers quietly moved closer. He pulled out his gun and leaned against Throttle hanging his head, right arm, and gun into the hall. He fired it three times before the older mouse could object.
Throttle pulled Sparks back into the cell and looked back. All three were down. "I see you've been passing traditions along."
Roddie glanced back. "He's not supposed to have a gun yet."
"Tala let me borrow it." I'm dead if she ever finds the one I traded the Fury's plans for.
Roddie sighed. "We're pinned down here. Any ideas?"
Throttle cocked his head, then grinned. "Don't need one." Explosions ripped apart the cells on the opposite side of the hall right next to the spot where the Internal Security officers had positioned themselves. Powerful motorcycle engines and squealing tires filled the void left by the explosion.
"AOOOW! Visiting hours extended just for me? Really, I can't thank ya enough. No, no, please don't get up. We can find them, no problem."
The black and chrome bike Sparks had seen at Fender's lab rolled up to the door of their cell, beeping reproachfully. Throttle grabbed hold of the handlebars. "Glad to see you, too."
Vinnie stopped his one-sided conversation with the Internal Security bodies littering the hall and rolled toward them on a red racer. A practically identical, riderless bright blue racer followed. He let out a low whistle when he saw Throttle's battered face. "Tell me ya got some blows in, bro."
"Not yet. Where's everybody else?" The tan mouse swung into the bike's brown leather seat.
"Modo's causin' havoc in the front offices. Tala and Axle went to go let Lance and his group back in."
"They're probably headed to the bridge by now," Sparks added.
Throttle nodded. "Get Roddie and Sparks out of here. Then you and Modo help with retakin' the bridge."
"Where's Charley?" The white mouse asked in a tone suggesting he just remembered her.
"I'm getting Charley." Throttle revved his bike.
Sparks pointed down the hall. "They took her thataway. Make a right at the intersection."
He reached over and ruffled Sparks's thick grey hair between his antennae. "Thanks."
"Throttle?" Roddie stepped closer.
"Go take your ship back. If I need help, I'll call." The rear tire squealed, leaving a long black mark on the metal floor.
"Man, will I be glad when he starts actin' normal again," Vinnie grumbled. "Do you still remember how to ride a bike?"
"I'll pretended you didn't ask that." Roddie climbed onto the bright blue bike and pulled Sparks on behind her. "So we just follow your trail of destruction to get out, right?" She revved the bike, popped a wheelie, and shot through the hole left from the explosions.
Sparks wrapped his arms tighter around her waist as she took Vinnie's handmade obstacle course at about eighty miles per hour. The bike squealed with alarm, popped out its laser cannon hidden behind its headlight, and blew away a large chunk of metal before they hit it. "I gotta get one of these!"
"What?" Her face looked over her shoulder briefly.
"I see why Lance doesn't let you near his fighter anymore!"
"You ain't seen nothing yet!"
Throttle could hear Charley's screams over the roar of his bike. The guards at the door at then end of the hall started shooting. "You're gonna have to do a lot better than that!" His bike's laser canons took out their opposition and opened the door. He sped through.
He skidded to a stop next to the table Charley was strapped down on. Screams erupted from her mouth and her body strained uncontrollably against the straps. "Hang on, Charley-girl!" He took hold of the straps across her forehead and chest and pulled them free.
"Stop the traitor!" Exhaust screamed.
Two Internal Security officers grabbed Throttle's arms and roughly pulled him off his bike. "Big mistake, pickin' on my girl!" He planted his feet on the floor and flung them off.
They flew to both sides of the room, sliding across the floor. The tan mouse sprang forward to the table again. He freed her arms before one of Exhaust's lackeys rushed forward with a growl.
Throttle ducked. The mouse's swing passed completely over his head. Throttle stood back up with an upper cut to his stomach. The officer doubled over his fist. Throttle's left fist hit the officer's jaw and knocked him to the floor.
Charley's screams stopped. Throttle turned in alarm to the table. She had rolled her upper body onto her side. Her damp hair fell over her face but she was still breathing. He grabbed the last two straps holding her down and tore them free.
The other officer rushed to the other side of the table. He roughly grabbed hold of Charley's shoulder and side, and pushed the human woman's back flat against the table again. Her body bucked and she screamed.
Throttle growled and tried to reach across the table to grab him. The officer evaded his grasp, keeping Charley's writhing body pinned to the table. Throttle lunged and missed again as his tail wrapped around the officer's legs.
The officer looked down with a stupidly surprised expression. Throttle's tail pulled and he crashed down on his back, dragging Charley off the table as he did. Throttle vaulted over the table careful not to land on her and grabbed hold of the officer by his uniform. One punch knocked him silly. Two punches knocked him out. Three punches made Throttle feel better.
He let go of the officer and he slumped back to the ground. Throttle started to turn to Charley when a boot kicked him in the jaw. With his balance off from bending over, Throttle was thrown onto his back by the kick.
Exhaust grabbed the lapels of his sleeveless leather jacket in one hand as his other fist pounded into the tan-furred face. "I won't lose the Fury like I lost Mars! I won't!"
The field specs flew across the room. Throttle pushed his body up with his tail and left arm. As soon as he had enough room, he planted his feet against the floor. His right fist balled up and socked the white half of Exhaust's face. Exhaust rocked back and let go of Throttle's jacket.
The tan mouse jumped to his feet. "We're not fighting for hunks of rock or metal!" He rushed Exhaust grabbing the smaller mouse and lifting him up into the air. He continued forward and slammed Exhaust down onto the table. Throttle's sensitive ears heard bone breaking. Exhaust's eyes opened impossibly wide around his red irises. He screamed and his body convulsed.
Throttle stepped back. Exhaust's body twitched and rolled itself off the other side of the table. Blood covered a metal knob pushed up out of the table. He turned away and dropped to his knees next to Charley.
He gathered her into his arms. Her face was damp with sweat and pale, even her lips had gone white. "Charley? Charley?" He rubbed her cheek. She didn't respond.
She was still breathing but it was shallow breaths. He could barely feel her pulse. "No, Charley, no!" He restrained from shaking her as his heart lurched. "Don't you leave me! Not like this! Do you think I can go on without you? Don't you leave me! Not when I love you this much! Don't you leave me!"
"I haven't gone anywhere." Her green eyes fluttered open. "And I don't think I will after that."
"Like I'm gonna give you a chance?" He pulled her closer. The tears building in his eyes spilled over and his heart pounded in a more familiar pattern.
She wiped the salty wetness off his cheeks with a gentle touch. "I love you."
"I love you too." His kiss landed on her forehead. Then another between her eyes, and another on the bridge of her nose, and another until he ended on her lips. "How do you feel?"
"Can you ride? The fight's not over yet."
"Exhaust got away?"
"Nah." He picked her up and carried her to his bike. "But his boys still have control of the bridge." He set her on the seat of the bike still shielding the sight of Exhaust's body from her. "And I don't wanna let you out of my sight."
She grabbed hold of the seat until he slid on the bike in front of her. She wrapped her arms around his waist as he wrapped his tail around hers. "Funny. That's exactly how I feel." She leaned against his back. "Let's go."
Vinnie swung his bike beside Modo's as they trailed behind Roddie's lead on the streets of Olympian City. "Do ya think Tala will space me if Roddie hurts her bike?"
"Probably." The large grey mouse sucked in his breath as the black mouse almost laid down the blue racer turning a street corner. "She's gonna break both their necks!"
"She ain't bad for being eight years out of practice though." Vinnie's ears perked up underneath his helmet. Laser fire was coming from dead ahead.
Tala's bike skidded to a stop. It bucked until Roddie and Sparks flew off. Then it took off, straight ahead. Vinnie and Modo gunned their bikes and caught them as they fell to the street. "I don't think the bike liked how you drove it." The grey-furred kid said from Modo's arms.
The black-furred mouse laughed as Vinnie swung her behind him. "Oh, I've missed that!"
"It shows, Sweetheart." He narrowed his eyes and sped after the blue racer.
"Bite me," Roddie replied cheerfully.
"Thanks for the offer, but we wouldn't want to make Tala or Lance jealous."
The laser fire ended as the bikes faced the park. Mice in flight suits surrounded the few Internal Security officers left standing with their arms raised in surrender.
"Lance!" Roddie jumped off Vinnie's moving bike and ran for the sorrel-furred mouse. He caught her in a massive embrace as she jumped on him. Her legs locked around his hips and their kiss threatened to crush their snouts.
Modo chuckled at the sight. "Don'tcha just love a happy ending?"
"Depends on who gets it." Vinnie gulped as Tala walked toward them pushing her bike.
The bike was still beeping angrily. And the human woman's expression was far from happy. "What did you do to my bike?"
"I didn't do anything to it! Roddie was the one drivin' like a bat outta hell."
Tala glanced over at Modo who nodded. "Yep, bat outta hell. That's pretty accurate."
"Roddie ain't teachin' me how to drive, that's for sure." Sparks slid off Modo's bike and started walking toward the pavilion housing the elevator up to the bridge. Modo apparently decided that Tala wasn't going to injure his young bro in a physical way and trailed after the kid.
Tala sighed and addressed her bike. "All right, all right, objection noted. It won't happen again." She turned back to Vinnie. "Where's Charley and Throttle?"
"Throttle went after Charley and sent us ahead. What's left to do?"
"Not much. We still have to get up to the bridge but that won't be as hard now that we have the main elevator back."
Vinnie turned and looked at the elevator shaft rising from the floor of the hold to its ceiling. Sparks had just reached the pavilion. An Internal Security officer leaped out of the doors grabbing hold of the eight-year-old boy. "Get back! Stay back!" She yelled as she held a laser pistol at Sparks's head. "Just stay back!" She eased away from the pavilion.
Sparks struggled against the hold she had round his neck. "Bomb! She planted a bomb in there!"
"Sparks!" Roddie screamed. Lance had a firm hold on his wife and carried her away from the pavilion at a run.
"Everybody get back!" Tala yelled. Mice scrambled back out of the park without giving into panic or losing the prisoners.
Modo's bike wailed. Its rider was standing way too close to the pavilion, following the Internal Security officer and her hostage. "Let the kid go. He ain't done nothin."
"Stay back! I'll shoot him! You want the firstborn of the Fury to join his dead mother? Stay back!"
"Damnit, Modo," Tala muttered at Vinnie's side. "Back off."
"He won't. Not with a kid on the line."
To prove Vinnie's assessment correct, Modo took another step closer. The Internal Security officer's gun swung away from Sparks's head and aimed at the large grey mouse. His arm canon popped up and the laser bolt from it knocked the gun from her hand.
Sparks stomped on her foot. She released him with a yell. The boy pivoted and swung a beautiful knockout punch. It connected with her jaw and she fell back.
Vinnie whistled. "That was sweet."
Modo sprinted forward and scooped them both up in his arms. He continued running, throwing the three of them behind the nearby refreshment stand.
The pavilion shattered. Tala threw herself at Vinnie, knocking him off his bike and onto the ground. Damnit, she's in that armor, he observed as the rigid metal pressed unforgivably against his flesh. The explosions ended and she lifted her head. Her blue eyes anxiously searched his face for signs of pain. He grinned up at her. "So, you like to be on top?"
Her cheeks went scarlet and she scrambled off of him, deliberately pushing hard against his stomach. "Do you have to turn everything into a sexual reference?"
"Nah." He stood up. "But you're pretty when you blush like that." He took off running toward the ruins of the refreshment stand before she could comment. "Modo!"
"We're alright." Modo pushed a collapsed wall out of the way. Sparks clung to his side without realizing he was clinging. "Here. Take her."
Vinnie caught the unconscious Internal Security officer as Roddie, Lance, and Modo's bike joined them. "Modo, get Sparks out of here before something else happens!"
"But Roddie," Sparks wailed.
"It's not open to debate! Modo, go!"
"Gone." He picked up the still-protesting boy and put him on his bike. They took off.
Vinnie slung the unconscious Internal Security officer over his shoulder and carried her over to the group of prisoners. He passed her over to a Rock Squad fighter and looked up, hearing a familiar motorcycle engine. Throttle's bike rolled down the street carrying his bro and Charley.
He felt his grin fade as they got closer. Throttle's field specs were gone and his face was more battered than the last time he had seen it. Charley looked haggard--like two weeks worth of sleep had been wrung out of her. "You two look like hell," he blurted out when Throttle idled his bike next to him.
"Hi, Vinnie, nice to see you too," Charley said weakly in hoarse voice.
"You should see the other guys," Throttle retorted. "What's going on?"
The white mouse looked at them curiously and intently. Something wasn't right. "The Rock Squad and Tala had this fight wrapped up by the time we got here." Charley doesn't sit that close on the back of a bike. "But Internal Security just blew up the elevator to the bridge. No one got hurt." Throttle's got his tail round her. Throttle never puts his tail round a girl unless . . .. "Modo went off with Sparks per Roddie's orders." Cheese, it's the only thing that makes sense! The stupid guilty expressions he's been getting every time me or Modo mention Charley. The way they both jumped when I got back from the party. The two of them being so careful not to be alone together since their "talk". Charley shooing me and Modo out for breakfast before we even got off our bikes. Vinnie grinned. Where did Throttle sleep that night? "You two go get fixed up. We got things covered."
Realization dawned on Throttle's face. Vinnie grinned harder. Are you gonna say something now, Throttle? Or are you gonna wait? You know I know and you know I wouldn't be your bro if I let this go without comment. Throttle's eyes searched Vinnie's face pleadingly, then turned away finding no mercy. "We'll be back at the rooms. Provided we still got rooms."
Vinnie continued to grin as he joined the two Captains and Tala at the ruins of the elevator pavilion. The blonde human glanced at the leaving motorcycle. "They made it out okay?"
"Better than okay."
"What's so funny?"
"I'll tell ya later. Boy, I'd pay money to break the news to Carbine."
"That is a mess," Roddie declared. The elevator shaft was ripped away until about thirty feet up in the air where it continued whole to the ceiling. "How are we supposed to get up there now? Taking the stairs up will give them time to sabotage. If they haven't already."
"I could get up there with flight mode." Tala said thoughtfully. "But I'm not taking passengers when we don't know what's up there."
"What are we waiting for? Let's go see." Vinnie whistled for his bike. It rolled to his side obediently.
"We?" Tala raised her eyebrows.
"You don't think I'm lettin you have all the fun, do ya?" He balanced his bike on its rear wheel and fired its rocket jets. He shot up and safely landed inside the elevator shaft. His bike gave another burst with the jets and continued up.
He looked over his shoulder at the floor. Tala and her bike were heading up now. She clicked on her radio. "You won't be happy until you break your neck, right?"
"Please. I've jumped Olympus Mons, Doll-face. This is hardly a challenge." He glanced back at the bike with the wheels split and turned horizontal. "Sides, I intend to die satisfied."
"Then I guess you're gonna be with us for quite a while."
"Top floor, everybody off." The laser canons popped out of the red racer and blew the door apart. He jumped onto the main floor of the bridge and skidded to a stop. Tala's bike landed beside his, the wheels closing together before touching the floor.
Only one person was still moving up on the catwalk. He started firing down on them with a laser pistol.
Tala smirked. "You are so seriously out-gunned it's not even funny."
Vinnie revved his bike and rode up the metal stairs. He turned his bike and its canons to face the sniper. "Hey, you're the jerk who shot at us when we first got here! You're gonna pay for that."
"The Fury is lost." The mouse stepped back. "Colonel Exhaust was the only one who could've saved it."
"Exhaust couldn't save himself from a sandstorm," Vinnie retorted. "Now put down the gun. I'm sure Roddie's got some place to lock you up in."
"I will not witness its final destruction." The mouse pushed the laser pistol against his temple.
"No!" Vinnie leaped off his bike. The finger pulled the trigger. "No!"
"Vinnie!" Tala jumped off her bike and ran up the stairs.
He turned away and grabbed her shoulders, shielding her from the sight. He noticed his hands were shaking. "He's dead. I couldn't stop him." His voice quavered and he couldn't cure that either. "I couldn't stop him."
"Save it for the innocents." He stared into her face. Her rough, raw voice continued. "Look around. See what he did. See if you can find any survivors." She steered him to the stairs. "I'll check to see if he sabotaged the ship."
Vinnie swallowed hard and shook it off. She's right. Must be some human female trait. Charley's never wrong either. He moved quickly down the stairs and knelt next to the first body.