Family, Friends, and Foes

Chapter Thirteen
Mona's Night

Mona's tail twitched. This is what she lived for. Her green hand tightened around the microphone. Mutated or not, rehearsal or not; she had always found herself in the music. And while her songwriting abilities needed a lot more work, her voice could handle just about anything thrown at her.

The band behind her started playing.

"Listen to Your Heart" by Roxette
Download the Wars Are Won By Those Who Dare: Family, Friends, and Foes Soundtrack here

I know there's something in the wake of your smile.
I get a notion from the look in your eyes, yea.
You've built a love but that love falls apart.
Your little piece of heaven turns too dark.

Boy, do I miss New York, she thought as she sang. Be honest, girl. It's not the city; it's that green hunk that actually looks at you like a girl and not a freak. I only hope he's not too miffed about me leaving with Allie. Raph wasn't too rational when it came to Allie. She had never seen two people so good at pushing each other's buttons and still hadn't had a slugfest. Reading between the lines of his postcards and letters, she gathered he wasn't happy with the situation but was trying to deal with it. The odds were he would explode as soon as she was present to explode at.

Listen to your heart when he's calling for you.
Listen to your heart there's nothing else you can do.
I don't know where you're going and I don't know why,
but listen to your heart before you tell him goodbye.

She smiled a little wickedly. Though making up with him is going to be a lot of fun. She wasn't afraid of his temper. He just needed a good bop on the head, followed with a steamy kiss.

Sometimes you wonder if this fight is worthwhile.
The precious moments are all lost in the tide, yea.
They're swept away and nothing is what is seems,
the feeling of belonging to your dreams.

The fight to find a guy who likes me in spite of what I am now? Worth everything in the world, baby. He barreled into her one night and the first thing he had wanted was a date. How often did that happen?

Listen to your heart when he's calling for you.
Listen to your heart there's nothing else you can do.
I don't know where you're going and I don't know why,
but listen to your heart before you tell him goodbye.

And there are voices that want to be heard.
So much to mention but you can't find the words.
The scent of magic, the beauty that's been
when love was wilder than the wind.

Her smile grew wider. Raphael is so passionate. You can tell just how he reacts to things. I just have to show him a different expression other than furious.

Listen to your heart when he's calling for you.
Listen to your heart there's nothing else you can do.
I don't know where you're going and I don't know why,
but listen to your heart before you tell him goodbye.

Chord ended the song and laughed as he adjusted his guitar's amp. "Man, Mona, you still have it."

"Yeah. I should go for a gimmicky career. Never seen without my make-up." She twirled, her brown hair flew around her broad green face, and her thick tail wrapped around her muscular legs. She stopped with a laugh and ran her hands down her sides, feeling the curves of the taunt muscles underneath.

The drummer twirled his sticks. "Mona Lisa, the lizard girl. Can we be your band?"

She smirked at him. "Sure Vibes, but you're actually gonna need make-up."

The others laughed at the norm-looking Mutate's chagrin. Chord was covered in a thick, black pelt of fur. Spike, the keyboardist, had porcupine quills for hair. Vibes had brown hair and a scruffy goatee growing on his chin. He shrugged, "I'll have to get a mask."

Another Mutate ran into the basement practice room. "Trouble with Limburger's goons!" she cried in a breathless rush.

"Wait a few minutes, Ace, and those bikers'll take care of it," Chord yawned.

"They're kidnapping people like Val Tech!"

Mona felt her stomach drop. Val Tech rarely took large numbers of people hostage. They preferred finding people no one would care about and experiment on them. Occasionally, aggressive Mutates forced them to create a norm shield to hide behind. No Mutate could blow up a lab with that many lives at stake. Mona didn't want to think what the Leader's reaction from Forsaken would be if it did happen.

Since it was so noticeable, Val Tech rarely used it and it wouldn't occur to anyone else to do it. Limburger? Limburger? That was the name on all those demolition sites! Okay, now I'm really confused.

Chord led the way off the stage and the others quickly filed in behind him, including Mona. Ace drove her car and they followed in Chord's station wagon. They parked a block away and crept into a small park just in time to see seven black vans pull into a tan and blue skyscraper's underground parking garage. Vans that were large enough to a hold a dozen people. Mona clenched her teeth as she thought. At most, say about ten prisoners per van. Got leave room for the guards. Oh God, that's seventy people! What the hell is this guy up to?

"That tears it," Chord snarled. "That guy has already been the worst trouble for years now. If he's taking on Val Tech tactics to get land...."

"Get land?" Mona stared hard at the building from their hiding place.

"Limburger is some kind of developer. Only he never develops anything. The buildings get torn down and the land dug up and then that's it," Vibes explained. "Nothing is ever built."

"What about the bikers?" Spike asked.

"They ain't here. Besides nobody knows anything about them. Except that they hate that guy." Chord pointed to the skyscraper. "He's already made trouble for us by reducing the places we can hide a cell. We gotta clear out."

Mona turned to him. "We can't leave those people in there! He took them by force; that's still against the law."

"I know it sucks, Mona Lisa babe, but that's the way it is. I've got three kids me and my girl are raising and training. I'm the only father they know. I can't risk their lives or anyone else's in the cell."

Mona's heart sank. She was a singer but ever since she was mutated into a humanoid salamander, she had to become a fighter too. But she couldn't do this alone. It was just too big. You idiot, you're not alone. You've been spending the past three months with a Mutate legend. Allie's handled worse than this. She felt stronger already. "Get your cell out. I know just who can take down that creep."

The van finally slowed to a stop. Now was Manuelo's chance. He pushed his body down to the end of the van and swung his legs over. He dangled, trying to see how far down the ground was and how much it would hurt. Before he let go of the railing, the van started forward again. His body banged against the doors. That jarred the breath from his body. The blackness gathered around the edges of his vision. His right hand slipped off the rail and his body slammed against the doors again. The van lurched to the left. The fingers of his left hand uncurled. He fell back, unable to make his hand grab.

Something pointy and scratchy and green grabbed him. A bush finally deposited him on the grass. Manuelo lifted his head. The blurry colors finally merged together. A tan skyscraper with blue windows lit with strong spotlights. "Limburger Tower.... Ma familia.... I need mes amigos." Blackness swallowed the Tower.

Pete glanced up wearily from wiping glasses. The Mutate wasn't even disguised, just thrusting her shapely green body into his bar. Her face turned bewilderedly. "She's not here!"

"Who you lookin' for?" He dropped the dishcloth on the counter.

"Allie Baker."

"She's been gone for hours."

Before she had just looked rushed, now she looked panicked. "Hours?"

"She took off after a Vex. I already put the warnings out. She left with some locals. Good guys but don't know anything about Mutates. Though I guess they're getting a quick lesson now." Pete frowned, remembering the father and son's anguish.

"She's never around when you need her," the Mutate said plaintively. "Got a phone?"

"Around there, by the restrooms."

She made her call quickly. "Damn and double damn. Is it possible Allie's still with them?" She nervously flipped her long brown hair over her shoulder.

"They probably went back to the garage, if they finished wailing on the Vex. The Last Chance Garage," he carefully gave her directions. "Don't make me regret trusting you. Charlene is very special to me."

"I'm not the endangering type, man," she answered with a teeth-flashing grin and left the bar.

Pete gazed around his empty bar after she left. The weirdness was on tonight. First meeting Charlene's mysterious friends, then Allie Cat rolling into town, Vexes kidnapping; trouble was stirring for Chi-town tonight. He could feel it calling, waiting for him to go out and taste it. "Ah no, that's a young man's game. And there's enough young blood in this city to set things right." He started stacking the clean glasses back on the shelves.

Chord sighed. Mona was still a whirlwind, once she decided on a course of action. Ace got roped into taking her to Pete's. Good luck, Mona Lisa. You're gonna need it. "Let's go; we've got people to move."

Vibes clenched his fist. "I liked this city! Those weird bikers kept that jerk in check." The drummer gestured at the building.

"We all liked Chi-town," Spike said, "but we have to think of the kids."

"Let me give him the shakedown! I can turn that building into rubble. Come on, Chord!" Vibes gripped his sleeve. "Those bikers destroy his building all the time!"

"Yeah and nobody gets hurt. There's too many norms in there to turn you loose."

Vibes growled and let go. He turned and marched through the park. Chord sighed again. He doubted anyone else would take the news much better. He knew his girlfriend wouldn't.

They followed Vibes' lead back to the street. Passing a bush, the normal looking Mutate tripped and fell flat on his face. Spike snorted, holding back his laugh. "What happened?"

"Oh go ahead and laugh," Vibes snapped as he climbed to his feet and looked down. "Oh man, was he mugged?"

Chord knelt and gently turned the small man over. He was dressed in slacks and a white T-shirt and was covered in a white dust. A red open sore had been cut across his nose. Bloody scrapes covered his coffee-colored skin. "Never seen a mugging like this."

"I think he's trying to say something," Vibes said.

He leaned a fur-covered ear closer to the man's face. "Ma familia.... Limburger... ma familia," was all he could make out.

Spike's porcupine quills bristled. "We can't leave him here."

"We'll take him to Pete," Chord announced. "He'll be able to handle a hospital or the police better than we can. Pick him up, gently."

Mona threw her hands on her hips and glared at the fourth door she had banged on. No one was inside the Last Chance Garage or if they were, they were deaf. She sighed. They must still be fighting. Well I ain't waiting outside for them.

She left the back door and headed quickly around the building to the broken upper story window. With a sigh, she shimmied up the drainpipe to the roof of the building. She then quickly grabbed the edge of the roof and swung in the window. She hit the floor and tumbled until she hit the wall. Her tail spasmed in pain as she stared up at her feet against the wall and the ceiling high above them. "I really need to learn how to pick a lock."

Groaning, she picked herself up, popped her tail and her back, and left the bedroom she had tumbled into. She stumbled to the location of the stairs after running into all the other furniture in the outside room--a couch, table and chair set, the corner of a jutting wall. Luckily, the light switch for the kitchen was located on the wall at the bottom of the stairs.

"Talk about a bare room," Mona remarked to herself. Other than the walls painted a crisp light yellow and a valance of white lace strung over the small window above the sink, the owner had made no attempts to decorate. The plain beige cupboards and counter matched the plain beige stove and refrigerator.

Mona sighed and opened the swinging door that she guessed led to the garage part of the building. She discovered that she was right as her jaw fell open. There was only one group she knew with that yellow and green van. And they sure the hell weren't supposed to be in Chicago.

She went off with the Turtles and didn't come get me! I want to see Raph as much as she wants to see Mike! She took a deep breath, no Allie wouldn't do that. The van was badly beat up, maybe they were here for the garage. But that still didn't explain why they were in Chicago.

She yawned, turned off the light in the kitchen, and climbed into the front seat bench. "Well, they have to come back for it."

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