Family, Friends, and Foes

Chapter Twenty-two
Let's Kick Some Shell!

Trash drummed her fingers against Smarts's back. It annoyed the redheaded brainiac, but her singing annoyed him worse so he didn't say anything. She finally gave up on it, and held his shoulders while hanging over the bike to see around his big head. A line of dune buggies and guards blocked the front doors. "This waiting totally sucks!"

"But this is what you wanted to do." Ryan scowled at her before turning back to the building.

She blinked her eyes rapidly. Just once, just before a fight, could he just pretend she was worthwhile? But no, she wasn't perfect like Allie Cat. She ground her teeth. You know he's an asshole. But it doesn't change anything. She sighed.

Smarts glanced over his shoulder. "Are you anxious?"

"Live and let die, man." And Ryan can't wait until I do.

"Tala's group is inside." Throttle revved his bike. "Let's rock...."

"And ride!" The other two mice roared after him.

"Let's go!" Trash prodded Smarts with her knee. She lifted the rocket launcher to her shoulder and fired.

The missile exploded just in front of the door, scattering dune buggies like leaves. "Too close to the building," Ryan's voice buzzed in her ear. "We hafta draw them out."

The dune buggies that could still move roared after the bikes. Vinnie's insane laughter was audible over the engine roars. "Can't get enough macho mouse action!"

"There's a sucker born every minute," Modo yelled back using his laser cannons to punctuate.

"And Limburger manages to hire all of them," Throttle added. His rocket made a dune buggy land on top of another one.

"Every moron deserves a paycheck!" Trash howled with glee. The rocket launcher sent another missile into the middle of the street. Dune buggies and asphalt pieces scattered.

"It's working," Ryan said via the helmet's earphone.

Trash turned as Smarts used a dune buggy as a ramp. More guards and dune buggies were running out of the building. "Playtime," she grinned.

Di hugged her knees to her chest. She had failed. Why Donnie? Why now? Bad enough they had taken her humanity, her dreams for the future, and left her responsible for so many lives; now they were going to take him too? She tried to dry the wet fur on her cheeks with the fur on her knees.

She heard metal clang on metal. A body hit a wall with a thud. Running feet echoed in the hall. A female voice started yelling, "Di? Donnie? Di? Donatello?"

Di jumped to her feet and pounded on the cell door. "Here! In here!"

The door was finally opened by a woman in a black jumpsuit and ski mask with a fine mesh over the eye holes. "Turn your heads, boys." She called over her shoulder. She tugged at the collar, and the jumpsuit split down the middle. Di realized it was actually a jacket and pants as she shrugged out of it. "Non-combat, you need this more than me." She wore a loose black shirt over a tight black leotard underneath.

Di took the offered jacket. It was made of light, rigid, but flexible material. The girl was Allie in her Ronin disguise. "Why are you here?" she blurted.

"Philosopher now, too?" Allie peeled off the armor pants and passed them. She hissed when Di turned her back. "The bastards! What else did they do?"

"Nothing to me. Donnie was the one they hurt." Di pulled the jacket on, gritting her teeth. But it closed without catching her fur. She took the pants and pulled them on over her shorts. They had boots built into them. The seam between the pants and jacket sealed.

"Where's Donnie?" Raph's brusque voice demanded. Allie whirled around, but his back was turned.

Di swallowed down the choking in her throat. "They took him, probably back to the lab. He's very sick; I don't think he can take much more."

The three Turtles bristled. "If they've really hurt him," Raph said slowly.

"I won't be able to tell him he was wrong about my dream," Mike interrupted.

"I'm ready," Di told them.

"Good." Leo drew out one of his katanas as he turned and passed it to Allie. "You fight best with this."

Allie took the sword from him. "And I thought you never noticed." Her fist tightened on the hilt.

"Some things you can't hide. Which way to the lab?"

"What about the other people?" Di gestured at the other cells.

"We're not in charge of that part of the operation. And we have to get Donnie before anything else."

Di frowned, but Leo looked unmovable on the issue. Her ears picked up roaring bike engines and firing guns. "Alright, this way." Leo walked beside her and the others fell behind them.

"What dream?" Allie asked Mike.

"Oh, I dreamed that you were helping us break into the skyscraper owned by an alien. Donnie said I read too many comic books." He chuckled.

"Did we win?"

"Dunno, I woke up."

Di reached the elevator. "Donnie said they took him up on an elevator the first time."

"Let's go, people." Leo pulled out his other katana. Raph twirled his sais. Mike let his nunchucks dangle in his hands. The elevator doors opened.

"Crap!" Mona slammed both her fists down on the console. The monitor clearly showed Sparks held up in the air by a Vex. "He said he could handle it! What's wrong with me, listening to a kid?"

"Do you wish for that question to be answered?" The computer asked.

"No! Is there another exit out of this ship?"

"The cargo hold has a lift. There is also a roof access hatch in the lounge."

"Good, that'll work." Mona ran out of the two-seater cockpit.

"Please hurry," MC continued. "Mistress Tala and Biker Modo would be most displeased if Ward Sparks was injured."

"Now that's an understatement." She ran into the long room across the hall from the medbay. She jumped on top of the table and started unscrewing the hatch door in the ceiling. It finally released with a hiss of escaping air. The handholds molded into the metal continued across the ship's outer surface. She crawled along them.

The Vex still had Sparks. He pounded his fists against her arm, not able to reach her head. She laughed. "Little boy doesn't know how to fight without his gun and teeth, does he?"

She didn't see his tail worm into the gun holster on her belt. "I think I do okay," Sparks answered and the red laser pistol fired.

The bolt hit her foot and she screeched. Mona slammed her hands to her ear holes. Sparks covered his ears with his hands. The Vex stopped screeching and flung the mouse boy into the barrels. The top row fell over with him.

"Pick on someone your own size!" Mona threw herself off the ship. The Vex turned around in time to catch a full body tackle. The bat-girl slammed against the reinforced concrete floor. Mona climbed to her feet shakily. The Vex was out cold. She was also a good foot taller than Mona was. "Maybe you'll have a better chance. Sparks?" Mona moved toward the barrels.

"I'm okay. Those barrels were empty." He pushed one out of the way, and it rolled across the hanger bay as he limped around the rest. He favored his right leg and blood was caught in the fur around his mouth. "Mostly okay," he winced as he tested his right leg.

"As long as you're still breathing." Mona tossed him the Vex's red laser pistol. He caught it against his chest. "Shoot her if she comes to. I'm looking for rope or something."

"Mistress Tala has restraints in the cargo hold," MC announced over the loudspeakers.

"Yippee for Mistress Tala. Why didn't she hook you up to some guns outside, so you could shoot people before they break in?" Mona trudged underneath the ship until she found the large section of the hull that was flat on the ground. Standing on that carried her elevator-style back into the ship.

"She is afraid that someone might find them while we were off planet and put them to evil use. The restraints are in the second cabinet from the transport booth."

The cargo hold was the largest room on the ship Mona had seen. A funny cylinder with a door sat in the corner, a workstation, and storage cabinets lined the rest of the walls. She decided the cylinder must be the mysterious transport booth, and opened the second cabinet down the wall from it. It was filled with various handcuffs, manacles, and lengths of chair. She grabbed some of each.

Sparks whistled admiringly after she had trussed up the Vex. Hands cuffed around her back, wings tied to her body by wrapping the chain around her torso, manacles on her feet, and drawn up to the hog-tied position. "She ain't gettin' away. And I'm sure Dad wants to tell her a few things 'bout kidnappin' me."

"Parents have to. It's a rule." Mona sighed. "Makes me glad I'm not one. Come on, let's get you patched up before he tells me a few things too."

Tala fired her handgun. The angle they were trapped on in the stairwell was just wrong for Hot Stuff's lasers. Manuelo fired too. One shot actually hit the sniper above. She grinned. "Hang on!"

Hot Stuff roared up the stairs. The last sniper scrambled, but the laser bolts from the bike struck. Another shot cleared the door. They drove into the hallway of cells.

Manuelo slid off the bike as soon as it stopped and started throwing open doors. "Serafina! Felipe! Nina! Manuela! Isabel!"

Charley rolled up next to Tala. "How are we going to control all these people?" She asked in a low voice as they started moving cautiously out of their cells.

"Simple, keep 'em in sight."

"Serafina!" Manuelo wrapped his arms around a stunned woman with short, curly, brown hair.

"Manuelo?" She started sobbing and speaking rapidly in Spanish as she tightened her hold around him. A small boy and two girls ran out of the cell mobbing Manuelo's knees with cries of "Daddy" and "Uncle Manny!" Another woman dressed in hospital scrubs followed them out of the cell.

Tala shook her head as she hid a smile. Can't count it as a happy ending till we get them all out of here, she reminded herself. "Watch the door, Charley. I'll get the rest of them out."

It was a good-sized crowd. There were sixteen cells, one opened already, and Manuelo had gotten three open before reaching his family. The five or six people in each cell soon made a tight group in the hall. Tala finally reached the last door.

A strange wooden and metal cage sat in the middle of the room. She pulled out her gun and slowly approached it. The cage didn't have a top. She peered into it. The baby human waved at her with a giggle. She backed up to the door. "Charley, come here."

Charley left the bikes and pushed her way through the crowd. "What is it?" Tala led her into the cell and to the wooden cage. She brushed her chestnut hair behind her ear as she stared down. She looked back up. "It's a baby."

"I know it's a baby. What is it doing here?"

Charley sighed and went back to the door. "Is anyone missing a baby?"

The only answer she got back was no. "So what are you going to do with him?" Tala asked when Charley turned back around.

"Me? What about you?"

Tala retreated to the other side of the strange cage bed. "What about me? I don't know anything about babies!"

"And I do? I dropped the egg in parenting class!"

"At least you had a class!" The baby started wailing. "Now, look what you did."

"What I did?" Charley answered.

Manuelo entered the cell, holding his wife's hand. "What's going on here?" He looked down in the cage. "Now, now, pequeño. No need for that." He reached inside and picked up the baby. He held him against his chest and shoulder. "It's alright now."

"He doesn't belong to anyone?" His wife, Serafina, asked.

"Apparently not," Tala answered.

The baby finally calmed down. "Here. We can use your jacket as a carrier." Manuelo started to pass the baby to Charley.

Her green eyes opened wide. "I'll drop him like the egg!"

"That is something I would expect Vinnie to say."

Charley pursed her lips and buckled the waistband of the red leather jacket tight around her. She gingerly took hold of the baby and held him close to her chest. Manuelo tucked his legs into the jacket and zipped it up. Her face softened into a smile. "He's yanking on my shirt."

"Testosterone must kick in early." Tala went to the door. Hot Stuff was keeping the prisoners from the stairwell door. "Okay people, this is a rescue. What's going to happen now is you'll follow the dark-blue bike down the stairs. About a block away is a hotel shuttle bus. It will take you to a hotel where you can spend the night free of charge or make other plans. Any questions?"

"How do we know we can trust you?"

"You can trust them, Nick," Manuelo answered.

Tala glanced at Charley. "Can you handle this with this baby?"

"He's fine."

"Then let's move out." Charley moved in response to Tala's order. The prisoners moved out of Charley's way as she went to her bike. Tala, Manuelo, and Serafina followed her. "Manuelo, you and Hot Stuff take the rear." The man looked surprised and the bike beeped indignantly. "You can take care of him." Tala patted her bike. "Drop him off and come back and get me." That seemed to mollify her bike, and she turned to Manuelo. "Mount up."

He kissed his wife quickly and jumped on. The five-year-old boy ran up to them. "I wanna ride, Daddy!"

Tala grabbed the boy under his arm and swung him in front of Manuelo. "Hang on, Felipe," Manuelo admonished as he wrapped an arm around him.

Charley started her bike and headed down the stairs. One arm pressed the baby in the jacket closer to her. Tala shooed the people out before Manuelo and Hot Stuff. She took a deep breath and she surveyed the now empty floor. She found an elevator at the end of the cellblock, but didn't take it. She moved back to the stairwell and headed up.

The next floor was a long hall with doors. Gun in hand, she moved from empty office to empty office. No goons anywhere. Tala sighed, "So much for taking the heat off the others." She moved to the next office. It was empty too. "Okay, time to switch floors." She stepped back out.

A redhead, teenage boy stood in the hall between her and the stairwell. He smirked at her. "No, you're not a miserable Mutate." Her helmet lifted from her head and hurtled down the hall behind her. "Much too pretty."

Tala ignored her hammering heart. She knew that appraising look all too well. Never again! She jerked her gun up and fired.

The laser bolt shifted in midair and buried itself in the wall. "Well, that's rude. Better take that away before someone gets hurt."

The pistol twisted out of her hand and flew into the stairwell. She heard it clatter down the stairs. She swallowed hard. "Didn't you leave your black mask somewhere?"

"Have a Zorro fetish? I could do Zorro for you."

Tala took a step back, but something dragged her closer. She swallowed hard again. "No, you're more the Darth Vader type."

The boy laughed. "Why do you say that? Because of all those humans that think they got away? I'll get them back. Now let's deal with us."

"There is no us!" Tala snarled.

"Temper, temper." He made a tsking noise. "And I was hoping you'd be more cooperative."

"With someone no better than a slaver?" Tala laughed menacingly. "Cooperate with this!" She fired the stun blaster hidden on her left wrist.

The stun bolt buried in the wall too. The boy's young face twisted in fury. "You're still being rude!" Something picked her up and she went flying through the hall. She slammed into a sheet rock wall. Her arms and legs couldn't move against the force. The teenage boy strode toward her. "Here I am, ignoring the fact that you just let all those humans go, after I worked so hard to catch them! You owe me."

Tala's arms curled inward. Her hands grabbed hold of the jacket. She gritted her teeth, but couldn't stop the jacket from being pulled open. The familiar vice began to close around her lungs. "No! Not now!"

"Yes, right now," he growled. Her hands let go of her jacket and grabbed the collar of her T-shirt.

Karbunkle's simpering face filled the vidcom screen on the wall. "I can't reconnect the alarms at all!"

Limburger scowled at the human woman. "Don't look at me like that," she snapped at him. "I told you, you needed multiple layers of alarms."

"I couldn't rewire the whole Tower!" Karbunkle screamed.

Something exploded outside, pending a minor tremble through the building. "And that would be the Biker Mice," Limburger said mournfully.

"They can't do anything as long as we have the prisoners," Val snapped.

The elevator doors slid open and a sword twirled out first, followed by another turtle creature. This one had a blue mask around his eyes. A girl cat-creature wearing black armor came out next, then another turtle creature in a red mask. "Oh, the prisoners we just let go?" The turtle with the sword said.

Limburger glared. "How did you get in here? All the entrances are guarded!"

Val whirled around to the lab table. She snatched up an empty syringe and held it ready against the strapped-down turtle's neck. "Stay back!"

"Donnie!" The red-masked turtle tried to take a step forward, but the cat-girl grabbed his arm.

"Let him go." The blue-masked turtle's voice was low. "And you might get out of this alive."

The red-haired woman smirked. "You're not going to risk his life." She focused on the cat-girl. "You're the brat that helped destroy the Los Trozo facility."

"So glad you remember me," the cat-girl said.

Val's bright-red lips twisted into her predatory grin. "Then you can tell us who the Leader of your little revolt is."

The cat-girl's laugh had a snarl to it. "For what? Donatello's life? Then what will you hold over their heads? Forget it, Tabitha Val. Your promises are as empty as your soul."

Limburger sidestepped backwards to make sure the human male stood between him and the weapons. He patted his jacket. Yes, the laser pistol was still hidden underneath it. But it was prudent to wait and see how this little drama would play out.

Val scowled. "You will tell me, you little bitch. Just like they're going to give me all the secrets of their DNA. Surrender now, or watch what an air bubble in the bloodstream does."

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