A Time For Trust
Leonardo found his brother in the first floor hall of Tala's building, counting off back flips. "I don't need anymore punishment, Fearless Leader," Raph growled as he landed on his feet. "I didn't mean to make her cry. But you know how she gets. I don't need you yelling at me about it."
"That's not what I'm here for."
The quiet tone stopped Raphael, and he whirled around. "Are we gonna get Donnie?"
Leo took a deep breath. This is the part Raph was going to explode over. "We need Allie to pull it off."
Raph sighed and sank to the floor. "And just how are we gonna get her help now?"
"We're gonna hafta apologize."
"The way we've treated her for the past three years."
"We didn't do anything wrong, Leo! It was too dangerous to let her fight."
"But we shoulda found another way for her to help. It's her family with the blood feud. And she has skills; I should've seen that from the beginning. Her and Mikey did find the Technodrome all by themselves."
"And you think an apology is gonna make everything all better? She's fallin' apart!" Raph pounded his fist in his hand.
"But she's always put herself back together. Besides, what's gonna happen to Mikey if she dies in Japan?"
"He handled it pretty good for these three months."
Leo watched him carefully. He stared at the floor. "Because he knew she was coming back. What do you think would happen if the Oroku clan's champion kills her?" Raph didn't answer. "There's no other way."
"Okay, you proved your point," Raph growled. "But I'm doing this for Mikey. I don't care about her at all; you got that?" He climbed to his feet and stalked to the elevator.
"Yeah, I got that."
Raph didn't say anything on the ride up to the spaceship. Leo didn't push him. It was pretty amazing he agreed to do this at all. But what if he was right and something more than an apology was necessary? Leo squeezed the Ronin's hood tighter. He would find a way, he had to. Donnie and Zack's lives depended on this. Allie would see that. And she wasn't the type who had to jerk people through multiple hoops before agreeing to the wisest course of action. All that would matter was their sincerity. He didn't know about Raph, but he was sorry. How badly had he hurt both Allie and Mikey because of his perception of what Allie should be instead of what she is?
They could hear Mike's excited babble while they went up the entrance ramp into the spaceship. "It solves everything! And it's not my plan, so it's sure to work. Come on, what do ya think?"
"I think it's a cold reason," Allie broke off when Leo and Raph reached the medbay door. "What? You've come to offer your opinions too?"
"They shouldn't have any." Mike's upturned face was puzzled. "I haven't told them yet."
Raph poked his elbow into Leo's arms, shoving the blue-masked Turtle more inside. Yeah, Raph, I know I'm the spokes-turtle. At least, you won't start another fight with her. "Actually, we came to apologize."
"You two?" Mike's jaw fell open.
Allie turned her blonde head away. "Apologize for being right? Save your breath."
"You could at least let them try," Mike said.
She continued staring at the bottom of Zack's bed. "You have what you wanted. Why can't you take it and be satisfied?"
Leo knelt in front of her, holding out the Ronin's hood. "You can't run away from this." Her stormy blue eyes locked with his, but he steeled himself. "We're sorry we forced you to this path. But you're too good to quit now."
"I'm not good." Allie's gaze shifted to focus on the metal wall beside her. "I'm a monster that only wants to hurt."
"You're not a monster," Mike insisted.
"Mikey's right," Raph inserted from the doorway.
"All you want is justice, Allie, the same as the rest of us." Leo moved the Ronin's hood back into her line of vision. "This is what you created to get that justice. We're not letting you abandon it that easily."
"Why do you care?"
Leo took a deep breath. "You can't let a friend do something stupid, much less family. Besides, we need you."
She looked at Leo's face, and he couldn't remember ever seeing such a yearning expression on hers before. "You need me?" Her expression clouded with doubt. "Or the Ronin?"
"Come on, Allie. You are the one with the skills. The disguise you wear doesn't change that. Now are you going to help us or not?"
She looked at Mike. He took hold of her hand. "You know what my answer is, babe. But it's your choice."
She looked past Leo at Zack. "You don't know what's worth fighting for," she muttered.
"Allie?" Mike squeezed her hand.
Her eyes met Leo's. He couldn't read the expression they held. "Alright, Leo, I'll help." She took the Ronin's hood and squeezed it tight. "What's the plan?"
"What we need the most help on."
She sighed as she got up. "That disk wasn't any help at all?"
"Oops." Mike jumped to his feet. "I don't think anyone's looked at it. I gave it to Modo." He ducked into the hall. "Modo?"
Leo followed his orange-masked brother to one of the spaceship's bedrooms. The large grey mouse sat on the bed holding his son on his lap. "What is it?" He rumbled.
"Sorry, dude. They think something might be on that disk." Mike shuffled his feet.
Sparks sniffled loudly. "Disk?" Modo twisted around until he found it on the bed. Sparks took it. "Where'd it come from?"
"Karbunkle," Allie answered from behind Leo.
The kid wiped his nose on his arm. "Okay, I'll look at it. MC, need some help."
"Yes, Ward Sparks. Come into the lounge."
"Come on, let's get planning." Leo ushered his brothers and Allie out of the spaceship.
Everyone was back in Tala's main room, and it was getting loud. They had shoved two tables together and found some chairs to go around. Charley sat in the chair next to Throttle. Everyone who didn't have a chair sat on the stairs up to the catwalk. Except Eight, he sat on the floor near the stairs, and Mike. The Turtle sat in a chair and Allie sat on his lap. Charley watched each speaker as they added to the circular argument.
Throttle's fingers drummed against the tabletop. "Limburger has a transport booth. The more time we give them, the greater chance they all get away. Or send the prisoners out of reach."
"And all it'll take is one stray missile to kill them!" Ryan kept glaring down the table at Allie and Mike.
"Then we get them out first, duh," Raph said.
"And just how are we gonna do that? They found us real easy the last time we went in."
"Yeah, I remember. I was there." Raph snapped back at Ryan.
Leo broke in. "We can get in. But we'll lose the element of surprise."
"And you can't sneak seventy people back out," Throttle said. "No matter how good you are."
"This is why I don't work in committee," Tala muttered. "This is just a big waste of time. We need to get in, take out the opposition, and get the prisoners out."
Vinnie turned to her, confusion twisting his metal mask. "I thought you weren't helpin'?"
"I changed my mind."
"We can't go in there guns blazing! Bullets don't have names!" Ryan clenched the edge of the table.
Charley shook her head. This argument can last all night. She glanced at Manuelo sitting at the other end of the table. He just stared at the wooden surface.
"Yeah, well, we just need to bring more. Like Mikey said before!" Raph gestured down the table at the other Turtle and his girl.
The elevator rumbled to a stop on the catwalk, and Modo and Sparks emerged. The boy mouse ran down the stairs, weaving through the Black Bones and Mona sitting on the steps. The large mouse shrugged once he reached the group, and vaulted over the railing to land heavily on the floor.
Sparks thrust the papers he held into Allie's hands. "This helps, right? Look." He pointed to something on the paper. "I bet Val Tech doesn't even know that's there!"
Meanwhile, the debate continued. "They found whatever opening Allie was using!" Ryan's fist hit the table. He glanced at her, but she was studying Spark's papers. "They've plugged it up by now."
"Where did you learn how to read blueprints?" Allie asked Sparks.
"A lot of my babysitters had to bring me to their jobs. One was an architect."
"No place is break-in proof!" Raph slammed both hands on the table but stayed in his seat. "We won't get shot at as long as your noisy selves aren't following!"
"Boys," Allie said with a sigh.
Throttle chuckled hollowly. "What? You're gonna give the prisoners a crash course in ninja before getting 'em out?"
Allie looked down the table. "Boys."
"And what do you want to try? Blowing a hole in the side of the building and letting them fly?" Ryan turned back to Raph. "And if it hadn't been for us, you wouldn't even know where your brother is!"
"BOYS!" Allie yelled. The debating males snapped their mouths shut. "We can fight together without fighting alike, right?"
"As long as were aren't shooting at each other," Tala answered.
"And as long as innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire," Charley added watching Allie. She was all business, shuffling the papers Sparks had given her.
She glanced up briefly to gauge the reactions. "We have a better chance of success if we follow our strengths."
"And just how are we supposed to do that?" Ryan crossed his arms over his chest.
"Ninjas infiltrate; the Biker Mice dive in head-first; you Black Bones are somewhere in between; and...." Allie faltered looking at Tala. "What do you do?"
"She frees slaves," Sparks answered.
Tala glared at the mouse boy. "You have a big mouth." He shrugged with a grin. "I do a little of everything, but most of it centers around stopping the slave trade. Does that help you out?"
"What would you do? To get the prisoners out? After getting inside?" Allie handed a sheet to Mike and he held it for everyone to see. "The prisoners are here." She pointed to a section of the blueprint.
"Where did you get blueprints to the Tower?" Vinnie demanded.
"Karbunkle gave them to me. Under protest."
Tala narrowed her eyes. "I'd make contact with the leader of the group. Then we'd both take the job of shepherding them out. A group that size should have at least two shepherds."
"They're people not sheep," Charley said.
"Shows what you know. The shepherds herd them out, taking care of the opposition and guarding the back. But getting the shepherds inside...."
"Won't be as hard as you're making it out to be," Allie interrupted. "Not if we use a coordinated attack. Ninjas sneak in and deactivate the alarms and specifically find Donnie and Di and go for up-close sabotage. That lets the shepherds come in to get the norms while everyone else pulls the opposition outside. Once the prisoners are away, the last group can move in for final destruction."
"Yeah! Now we're talkin'!" Vinnie threw his fist into the air.
Trash cleared her throat on the steps. "I wanna ride with the mice. Destruction, mayhem, and chaos; sounds like they're getting the good stuff."
Ryan glared over his shoulder. "Give your hormones a rest! How do you expect the ninjas to get inside?"
Allie pointed to another part of the building. "Apparently, they have a secret passage system running through the building."
Sparks grabbed the papers and shuffled through them. "No outside exit. But it originates in Karbunkle's lab."
"No surprise there," Throttle said. "The demented deviant probably wants more secrets than Val Tech is willin' to share."
"These blue tubes have an outside exit."
Sparks looked over Allie's arm. "That's the aquarium tubes. He's pulling water from Lake Michigan."
"It runs all through the building. It intersects with those secret passages here." She pulled out another sheet. "Even has an access hatch."
"He keeps sharks in there," Modo pointed out.
"You want us to go swimming with sharks?" Raph demanded.
Allie looked up. "What are you worried about? You have a shell. I'm the one that needs scuba gear."
"Jaws ate a plane!"
"It's not big enough for Jaws," Leo pointed out. "And it'll be the only entrance not guarded."
"That takes care of the ninjas," Tala said. "Now for the shepherds. The prisoners need someone they know they can trust."
"I am going with you." Manuelo spoke for the first time.
Charley frowned. "You're still injured."
"It is my familia and my neighbors. They know me."
"I better go too."
Throttle turned to Charley. "You can't!"
She looked at him. He refused to meet her eyes. "I'm a better shot than Manuelo and Tala's not a people person."
"You say that like it's a bad thing," Tala muttered.
"And the more norms involved in a rescue is better for the prisoners," Ryan interjected. "Less time wasted dealing with them freaking out."
"It's too dangerous." Throttle studied the table.
Yeah, I know that expression. But I am just as stubborn as you are, my mouse. "It's not too dangerous for Tala or Allie or Trash," Charley snapped.
Throttle turned back to her. Anguish escaped from his carefully controlled expression. "I'm not in love with them!"
"Um, I think they need a little privacy." Mike set Allie on her feet and stood up.
"Good idea." Throttle grabbed Charley's hand and pulled her from the table.
She let him lead her into the stairwell before yanking back her hand. "When is this sexist, chauvinistic, macho he-mouse...."
His shoulders slumped as he turned away. "It's not that, Charley."
"Then what is it? You guys get some kick outta making me look like a damsel in distress? Cause I'm really getting tired of being treated like the only way I contribute is fixing what you guys break!"
"I didn't mean to make it sound like that."
"Do I need to pull out the Masked Motorcyclist get-up again? I haven't rebuilt the bike yet, but you guys were more impressed with the catsuit."
"Charley, this has nothing to do with your skills. I know how good you can ride and fight." He turned to face her. She almost regretted bringing this up, seeing how hard he struggled. He brought his arms up to grab her but stopped himself. "It's me. I love you too much to lose you."
"I know, I know, it's a lousy excuse. A cheap shot." He dropped his arms. "But I've lost everyone else I've cared about except Modo and Vinnie and Roddie, and I can't add you to the list. I can't."
Charley swallowed hard. "I feel the same way, Throttle. I can't lose you. And I love you too much to let you fight without me."
"I'm not fighting alone."
"That's not the point. You're asking me to trust you to come back okay, but you don't have the same trust in me. You don't believe in me."
"And I thought this was going to come up about affairs and flirtin'." He sighed when he realized he couldn't smile. "You followed me to the bar."
"To help! And that's all I want to do now." She rapidly blinked her eyes. "You can't do it all alone. No one can."
"I know how much I need you, Charley." His husky voice was thicker than normal. "If anything happens to you in there, I don't know if they'll be any pieces to pick up."
"You're withdrawing your protest?" She hugged him, laying her head against his chest.
Throttle wrapped his arms around her. "I can't tell you no. Especially when you're right." He squeezed her tighter. "But if anything happens to you...."
"You're more optimistic than this, my mouse." Charley grabbed his snout and pulled him down for a kiss. "Worry about bringing your furry tail back in one piece."
"Yes, ma'am, Charley-ma'am." He kissed her again. "We better get back to the meeting."
She sighed, but held his hand as they went through the door. Everyone turned to the door. "Did you two lovebirds work it out?" Vinnie leaned back in his chair to see past Leo.
"Charley's going in as a shepherd." Throttle squeezed her hand as they rejoined the table.
"You can use my bike," Allie offered, sitting back in Mike's lap. "It doesn't have laser accessories, but it's a heavy bike and has seen battle action."
"Thanks," Charley said. She had worried about that. Tala was so possessive about her things, and she didn't have a decent battle bike since they blew up her prototype along with the cyber-bikes in Detroit.
"What are the Bones supposed to do in this plan of yours?" Ryan aimed his glare briefly at Allie and Mike before redirecting it at the table.
"The outside group," Allie answered. "You and the Biker Mice are the most mobile."
"And we like the guns, the big guns." Trash aimed her fingers like pistols.
"Can you control your impulses for just five minutes?" Ryan snapped over his shoulder.
Trash stuck her tongue out at him.
Sparks folded his arms. "And I can't do anything 'cause I'm just a kid?"
"Actually, I have an important favor to ask," Allie began.
"Let me guess, stay here and watch Zack. I can do more than just that."
"I'll help you, kid." Mona spoke up from the stairs. "I'm no good at the kind of fighting they have in mind."
"Too straightforward," Raph muttered.
"How 'bout you stay and I go?"
"No," Modo glowered.
"Aw cheese," Sparks muttered.
"Okay, we have a game plan, Freedom Fighters. Let's make it a battle plan." Throttle rubbed his chin. "We need communication between all groups."
"Maybe we can put the Turtle Comms on your radio frequencies." Leo pulled a yellow and green box from a pouch on his belt.
Smarts got up from the stairs and beelined to the electronic gadget. "Query on the housing situation for the prisoners once they are rescued?"
"I got that covered," Tala answered. "MC, do we still have that downtown hotel in the investment portfolio?"
"Yes, Mistress Tala."
"You own a hotel?" Vinnie's jaw dropped open.
"Not entirely, but I own enough to get my ass kissed by the staff." She got up and headed for the phone.
Someone touched Charley's shoulder. She looked up, and it was Allie. "They've got this covered. Come see the bike."
"You're not going to help them plan?" Charley felt her eyebrows knit together.
"I'm not a leader." The small, blonde woman in black set the blueprints of Limburger Tower in front of Leo before heading to the stairwell.
"But everything you just did?" Charley chased after her.
"I'm a strategist, that's all. They would've figured it out eventually. Once they saw the big picture." Allie paused on a landing to let Charley catch up. "I could probably break into Fort Knox with the right info and enough time."
Charley managed to keep up with her as they headed down. "And that's not weird?"
"Zack and I are the last descendents of an ancient Japanese clan. Guys bred to be ninjas for generations. It's gotta come out somewhere."
"So it's all genetic?"
Allie shot her an undecipherable look. "We're all a product of the past. That's genetic and what you were taught."
"Oh, so your daddy was a ninja?"
"My daddy died when I was four-years-old, and as far as I know, had no idea what his birth family truly was. I learned from the streets of New York, the foster care system, and Skulls." Allie opened the stairwell door into the garage.
"I'm sorry; I didn't know." Charley didn't think Tala's garage had ever been so full. Tala's Earth bikes and her 1965 Mustang, the Martian bikes, the Black Bones' bikes, and a dark-blue motorcycle that made her heart thump with familiarity.
It was tooled along the classic Harley lines. The dark-blue paint job on the crankcase was barely pitted. The chrome gleamed, including the aerodynamic skull that rose from the front wheel's cover. The black leather seat was outlined with chrome studs. The handlebars were firm under Charley's grasp. She ran her fingertips over the crankcase. It was his bike; she knew them too well to be mistaken.
"Skulls gave it to me," Allie broke the silence of the garage. "I couldn't pick it up until this year. Guess he left it when he retired. Your father built it, didn't he?"
"Yeah." Charley cleared her throat. "Yeah, he did. You took good care of it."
"I have too much respect for Skulls and the rest of the Black Bones. Why didn't you become one? You have more qualifications than anyone else."
Charley looked up from the bike. "I think you have your Davidsons mixed up."
Allie's grey-blue eyes watched her without blinking. "I know who you are. You're Chuck Davidson's daughter, and he was a Bone along with Skulls and Pete." Charley turned away and blinked her eyes rapidly. Allie continued, "I'm sorry what happened to him."
Charley took a deep breath. "Please don't tell Throttle and the others. They... they don't know."
"Wouldn't they understand?"
"Of course, they would," Charley snapped and instantly regretted it. "But I promised myself a long time ago that I wasn't going to stress them out with my problems. They're doing enough."
"It's your life." Allie moved to the bike and rested a hand on the handlebars. "My advice is to level with them, especially Throttle. Because I made a similar promise once, and it led to Mike throwing himself at the man trying to kill me. That's how he got the nick across his shell. And how I almost got him killed." The bitterness and self-reproach in her voice made Charley forget her pain. "Some things in the past must be shared." Allie shook herself and her voice returned to normal. "But it's your life and I have no right poking my nose in it. Just think about it, okay?"
"Okay, I will," Charley said quickly. "As soon as this mess is over. Now, what has been modified on this bike?"
Throttle leaned back in his chair. They had worked out the plan, amazingly enough. Tala had coerced the hotel out of the rooms and a shuttle bus. Everything was ready for tomorrow night. Charley had a bike she could use. His shoulders tightened. Logic be damned, I don't want her in there.
A pair of human hands grabbed his shoulders. The fingers dug into the muscles. Throttle tried to pull away, but the hands didn't let go. "Relax," Trash murmured. "I'm good at this."
"Relaxing around you is probably the last thing I should do."
She blew a raspberry. "For once, I'm being innocent. Take advantage of it."
What she was doing to his shoulders felt good, but he wasn't going to admit it. "So you can take advantage of me?"
"It's not taking advantage if you want it," Trash answered.
"I. Don't. Want. It."
Throttle blinked. It happened. One too many blows to the head. I always figured it would be the cybernetic eyes to crap out first, but apparently it's my ears. He looked around for someone to confirm what he had heard and realized they were alone in the bottom room of Tala's loft. "Say what?"
"You're missing the sex of a lifetime, but I'm not going to rape you." Her hands pushed him forward so she could work lower on his back.
His brain finally caught up. "You have to have an audience."
"I have a reputation to maintain," she replied with a huff.
"Why don'tcha deal straight with people?"
Her hands stopped massaging. "Maybe because I'm tired of being the one with the shattered heart. Hell, you're from another planet, and even you prefer a norm over me."
"Look, I don't cheat...."
"Just skip it, alright? I don't need pity, I have enough of my own. Besides a little competition keeps everything healthy. Your girl will wring you dry tonight. Of course, not as good as I could." She patted his shoulders. "But you're too chicken to find out."
"Damnit, Trash. Don't you ever quit?" Ryan let the stairwell door fall shut behind him. "We have a fight in less than twelve hours from now."
"Did someone appoint you Mr. Killjoy? Or do you just do it for fun?" Trash leaned over and kissed Throttle's snout. "The offer still stands, Cutie Pie. Let me know if you want to compare." She sauntered to the stairwell door, moving around Ryan so she didn't touch him.
Ryan transferred his glare to Throttle. "I should tell your girl."
"I wish you wouldn't. Nothing happened. And Charley will have her grenade launcher." Ryan didn't answer as he turned and went back through the door. Throttle sighed. It was bad to wish for casualties. It was really bad.
Charley came into the loft through the stairwell door. She glanced over her shoulder. "What pissed him off?"
"Trash. Don't get upset. Nothing happened."
"And it better not." She rubbed his shoulder and moved down his arm to grab his hand. "Let's get some sleep."
He stood up and pulled her into his embrace. "So I get to be your pillow again?"
"Unless you didn't like it."
"No worries about that." Throttle assured before kissing her.