Family, Friends, and Foes

Chapter Four
Villains Convention

A limousine pulled in front of the main door of the tan and blue Chicago skyscraper named Limburger Tower. A red-haired woman climbed out of the vehicle with practiced ease. A smile tugged at her full lips as the guards gaped at her short skirt and the plunging neckline of her business jacket. Sex was a tool just like anything else, and Tabitha Val could use it exceptionally well. She let the smile linger as she walked into the heavily air-conditioned lobby.

Her personal assistant, Dr. Henry Arkson, joined her in the elevator. "The report, Ms. Val."

Tabitha Val scanned the papers quickly. "The New York office bungled it. Put them down for a personal reprimand. Has BatWing arrived?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Good. Ironic, sending one rodent out to catch another. Don't tell her I said that."

"Of course not." The blond scientist assured soothingly. His light green eyes gleamed behind his wire-framed glasses.

The elevator stopped on one of the upper floors. Val led the way off and down the hall to a closed, circular, metal doorway. The doors slid open with a satisfying hiss and revealed a sterile metal laboratory filled with the usual lab equipment: computer terminals that filled the walls and examination tables above which hung high-tech and grotesque vivisection tools. None of it interfered with the spaciousness created by the high ceiling.

A man wearing a white lab coat and green goggles with black lenses started toward them, rubbing his black-gloved hands together. He was as tall as Val but his thin stature and stooped shoulders gave him the illusion of smallness. His large head bobbed in greeting and the wire inserted into the side of it kept the odd rhythm.

Val walked right up to him then past as he paused, enjoying the echoing noise made by her high heels on the metal floor. She aimed for the tracking computer. "Dr. Karbunkle," she said in lieu of a traditional greeting. She immediately adjusted the machine upon reaching it. "The radioactive isotope you supplied us is much better than our previous one." The computer screen narrowed in on two blips. "They would have arrived sooner but apparently that detour around Detroit took longer than anticipated."

"But they avoided that Motor City maniac," Karbunkle muttered, "an advantageous use of time."

"Yes, you'd lose your new-found upper-hand if he were to learn about what is going on here." Val's hazel eyes glittered. "They should be arriving around eight p.m., if they keep to their current speed."

"And my goons will be in place waiting for them." A section of the ceiling floated down to settle on the floor.

A misshapen midget, possessing an arm, a tentacle, a pair of dog's legs, and a tail, scurried underneath it and screamed with ecstasy when it flattened him. "Oh the joy," he cried in contentment.

Lawrence Lactavius Limburger stepped off the free-floating elevator and turned to gaze at Val with cold eyes. The only business partner she had not needed to persuade with her special talents. But it promised to be a profitable alliance, nonetheless. "I trust that you have not forgotten your end of the bargain," Limburger continued.

"Mr. Limburger, I never promise what I can't deliver." She pinned the massive male in the purple business suit with a glare that made weaker fools' knees quake. "You will capture my quarry from New York with your mutated army. And I will capture these Martian mice and extract their DNA."

He carelessly waved a white-gloved hand. "I don't care what you do to those rampaging rodents as long as it is excruciatingly painful and I get to watch. Is everything in place?"

The door slid open again, this time depositing a hulk of a man dressed in blue-jean overalls, dripping black oil from his body and an extremely muscular young woman. She would have made an excellent bodybuilder except for the brown fur covering her skin, the black leathery wings extending from her back, the large ears covering the sides of her head, and the oversized sunglasses protecting her large, luminous eyes. Val smiled, "This is BatWing. I trust my more delicate assignments to her. The ones that don't require scientific knowledge." She turned to face BatWing. "Do you have any questions?"

"Just how many mice are there currently?" BatWing's nose twitched in irritation. "The reports kept varying."

"Four now," Limburger answered, "all male. Three adults--chronologically at least--and a child."

BatWing nodded once. "And the address of this Last Chance Garage was not provided."

Karbunkle pulled a pen and pad out of the pocket of his lab coat and scribbled on it, passing the sheet to BatWing. BatWing took the address from Karbunkle with a disdainful sniff. "Any other instructions?" She turned to Val.

Val's lips split into a predator's grin. "Try not to rough them up too much." The female nodded and left the lab through the sliding metal doors. Val wiped the smile off her face and turned to Limburger. "BatWing is taking care of the mice. Your goons are ambushing the fugitives from New York. Are you sure they understand what to do?"

Limburger sighed with weary patience. "The leaky lubricated lummox is staying here, so there is less chance for a screw-up."

The big lug that had come into the lab with BatWing pulled the red cap off his bald head. "Aw please, Mr. Limburger? Why can'ts I go? Youse said I could have another chance."

"You want the human that is emitting the radioactive signal and at least one of those turtle creatures alive. After that, take as many alive as they can. My goons understand that completely," Limburger finished.

"Then I leave it in your hands." Val's sharp eyes darted around the lab. "What about the facilities promised my scientists?"

"Of course, this way." Limburger led the way through a maze of corridors to another corner of the building. The lab was laid out like Karbunkle's but there was only one computer terminal and one wall supported the doors to a row of cells. "There are additional holding areas on the floor below. And this is your private elevator down to the lobby and parking garage." His fat finger pointed out another set of sliding metal doors. "Is there anything else you require, Ms. Val?"

His oily tone nearly made her shudder, but she controlled body. "It is adequate, Mr. Limburger. Is there anything else you require?"

"No, no, I'll just leave you and your assistant to settle in."

Arkson frowned as Limburger left. "I don't trust that squid."

"He's a fish, not a squid," Val corrected absently. "But we don't have to worry about him, as long as we both get what we want. The way to survive their invasion is to create a product they want--namely, an enhanced army that can pummel any other race into submission."

Her eyes gleamed as her hand brushed seductively against the examining table. "And getting back at that damned terrorist makes everything we have to put up with worthwhile." Val grinned predatorily. All the labs she had destroyed, the experiments ruined by her and her gang of bikers; she made her mistake in San Diego and got tagged. They had lost track of her in San Francisco and waited in vain for nearly four years for her to make another mistake. And now it had happened, in New York City of all places. And she was running straight for Tabitha Val's vengeance.

"So worthwhile," she murmured.

Limburger returned to Karbunkle's lab. "Such a wickedly ruthless woman. Makes me feel positively warm-blooded." He entertained the brief fantasy of her dealing efficiently with High Chairman Camembert. While amusing, it was far too dangerous to ever take place. The great and glorious Plutarkian Empire would probably find itself ruled by a woman and an alien woman, at that. "What do you make of her, Doctor?"

"I wouldn't double-cross her, your moldy mozzarella-ness," Karbunkle oozed as he rubbed his gloved hands together.

"Quite right. However all we need to do to keep her happy is capture these fugitives and give her space to conduct her experiments. How are the mutated goons performing?"

Karbunkle consulted his computer. "Reflexes, coordination, and strength have all improved. Possibly on par with the Biker Mice now. There has been no improvement in intelligence, but then, it's a mutating agent, not a miracle drug."

"Oh well, can't have everything. I'll be in my office, Karbunkle."

GreasePit intercepted Limburger on the way to climb back on the elevator. The big lug was on his knees with hands clasped. "Aw please, Boss. Why can'ts I go beat up these guys from New York?"

"Because I have another job for you, my dear boy. I want you to follow that BatWing creature. Perhaps you'll learn something."

"Oh gees, thanks Mr. Limburger! I won'ts lets you down," the oily oaf promised as he ran to the lab door. Right before he reached it, he slipped on an oil puddle and slid out into the hall with a startled cry.

"Fortunately, I don't have very high hopes for him to dash," Limburger replied with a sigh as he climbed back on the floating elevator and rode it up to his office.