Family, Friends, and Foes

Chapter Eight
An Organized Fiasco, How Original

"Who in the Seven Stinking Cesspools of Plutark is that?" Limburger jabbed a fat white-gloved finger at the monitor mounted in the wall of his office.

Val pivoted away from the shark-infested aquarium tube running through his office. "She looks like a ninja. Have you pissed off any Japanese?"

"Japanese?" Limburger turned to Karbunkle.

The thin scientist grimaced. "The humans that invented sushi."

Limburger blanched. "Barbarians."

"More intruders!" Karbunkle yelled as he pointed to another portion of the floor-to-ceiling screen, which was split into a hundred different views of the building.

Val's gaze followed his pointing finger. These figures she recognized. "That stupid motorcycle gang! And those animals! Obviously they're here to rescue the prisoners. What are you going to do about it?" She turned to Limburger.


"It's your building."

He paused to consider that point. With a sigh, he walked to his desk and hit a button on the intercom. "Attention, Limburger goons. There are intruders in the Tower. Apprehend them at once!"

Val brushed the sleeve of Arkson's suit jacket. "Make sure the prisoners are secured," she whispered to him. He nodded and left the office.

"Of course this would be easier if the alarm system hadn't blown a fuse." Limburger turned an accusatory eye to Karbunkle.

"It did not blow a fuse. The computer blew up," he corrected with a wheeze.

Val's hazel eyes flicked over the screen again. "It's their standard trick. My security people have not found a way to combat it other than layering the systems," she informed them in her bored voice.

"And why didn't you tell us?" Limburger turned to her with a dangerous expression.

"You never asked."

Henry Arkson stopped first at the lower level of cells. Its security system was still in place and the guards snapped to attention as he entered.

The infant slept in his cell. Arkson moved down the row. The goons had placed the turtle humanoid and his cat creation in the same cell. Sloppy, but it might hurt her more. Yes, to see a fellow freak suffer would hurt her. He stared down at the face covered in tawny fur. She'll pay for Dana, finally. Finally, she'll pay.

He pushed the thoughts of the beautiful Dana from his mind as he slammed the window shut on the stirring creatures. He headed up the private elevator to the next floor. The brother of that terrorist should be in the middle of his transformation and it was time to check on his progress.

Arkson peered into the cell through the barred window and let out an oath. They were both gone. The ventilation grill had been pried off and left on the floor. He turned, hurried to the nearest exit, and found the disabled alarm box on the stairwell door. The terrorist's brother and the Martian were gone. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and mopped his forehead. Val would not be pleased.

After he called her, Val reached the lab quickly and in surprisingly good humor. "This is even better. The boy has only been injected with the mutagen. What does he have, a month at the most? He'll run to his sister and she'll run here. And we'll be ready."

Arkson sighed internally. One never knew how she was going to take these things. That was, undeniably part of her allure, but it made dealing with her on a daily basis unstable at best. "The Martian?"

"A more troublesome loss. I had counted on baiting a trap with him." Val tapped her index finger against her chin. "Send the Hounds after him. They can follow the tracking signal in the human."

"Yes, Ms. Val." Arkson turned away to do her bidding but her melodious voice pulled him back.

"I want those Martians alive, Arkson. After all, their species is nearly extinct. There will be plenty of time to kill them after we have finished studying them."

Allie left the office in disgust. The computers were connected in a single network but evidently Limburger didn't mix his real business with the illusion he created for the public. Okay, fine. I need to find his private office. Or find BatWing and beat the answer out of her.

She rounded the corner and skidded to a stop. Ten armed uglies dressed in muscle shirts, vests, and blue jeans blocked the hall. Their red laser pistols pointed at her. "Is this what happens when you get separated from the tour group?"

"You ain't supposed to be here," the head ugly said with a nasty grin. "And we're here to make sure you understand how Mr. Limburger feels about trespassers."

Where do they find these guys? This idiot looks like Bluto's body double from the old Popeye cartoons. Allie spread her hands. "All of you to find me? I'm flattered."

"Then let's do this the easy way." He gestured for his men to flank her.

"But I'm such a fan of the hard way." One of the men surrounding her reached out to grab her arms. Right, like that was a good idea. True the masked ninja wasn't holding herself in a threatening manner, but he should know to never trust people in masks. Especially ones that have watched a Shaolin Master fight.

Her leg extended straight up from her side, hit his chest, and sent him to the nearest wall. The other men jumped in. They were tough, brawling fighters, swinging their fists instead of thinking how the punch would work. Not that Allie actually spent conscious power thinking. It was instinctual, like another plane of existence. Kick, punch, pivot, kick, duck, grab, toss, and kick again.

When the action-filled fog cleared, Allie found herself on top of a groaning pile of men. "Guys, really. Look into a new career." The pile gave her just enough height to grab hold of the air conditioning vent in the ceiling. She pulled off the grill and jumped up to clamber inside.

The bowl of slime worms on the desk jumped when the white-gloved fist slammed down. "Blast! She doesn't even need a motorcycle!" Limburger growled as he watched the black-clad legs disappear into the ventilation system.

There has to be a way to turn this to my advantage. He stared at the pile of groaning goons still visible on the desk's security monitor while his devious brain sifted through the information he had. "Karbunkle!" The skinny scientist jumped. "Find out everything you can about these ninjas."

Mike carefully poked his head over the desk, then hurriedly pulled it back and halfway into his shell as laser bolts whizzed by. "There are times when ninjutsu just isn't enough."

Trash let loose a volley from her laser rifle and crouched again. "You don't have any specialized equipment? Smoke bombs, tear gas, anything?"

"Sorry, we left them in our other shells."

Leo surveyed the room. The bald uglies that evidently worked as guards here had their group pinned down in one corner of a long office filled with desks and filing cabinets. The only exits were on the other side of the room blocked by the enemy, the ventilation shafts blocked by the enemy's shots, and the windows also blocked by enemy fire. Leo groaned silently. Their group was pinned down and rapidly running out of firepower.

Ryan emptied his gun of bullets and tossed himself to the floor with a growl. "I'm open to suggestions."

"Bring more weapons the next time we break into a building?" The orange-masked Turtle offered helpfully. "Or maybe just more bullets?" Mike tried to grin.

"That does us a lot of good now." Trash shifted the rifle back up onto her bony shoulder and started firing again. She hit a couple of the uglies and dropped back out of sight. Her eyes were open wide in her thin face. "We're outgunned."

"Too bad that observation does nothing to alleviate our current situation." Smarts dived into the kneehole of the desk.

Eight lay flat on the floor behind a desk--the only way he could get full cover. A strange expression crossed his face, a look of transcendence. He reached over to the next desk and grabbed hold of Trash's leg. His hand almost covered her entire calf.

She looked over. "No, not now Eight!" A soundless explosion of light covered them both. When it vanished, they were gone.

"Great!" Ryan snarled. "And they took the only working gun!"

"What just happened?" Leo demanded.

Smarts extended his head and shoulders out of the hole of the desk and shrugged. "It's a side effect of his mutation. Sometimes, he just disappears. But we don't think he has any control over it."

"We'll find them again; we always do," Ryan added.

"Provided we survive this!" Mike pointed out.

"Let's just rush 'em," Raph suggested. "They can't hit all of us."

"Small flaw." Leo held up his finger for patience. "Five of us, thirty of the them as well as thirty guns. You do the math."

"Well what are we going to do? Wait for help the drop out of the sky?"

The ventilation grill popped off above the uglies, hitting one of them in the head. Two small canisters fell out next, leaving a trail of smoke that suddenly expanded. The uglies were obscured and coughing wildly.

The grill popped off above the desk the Turtles had hidden behind, and a black-gloved hand extended down out of it. "What the hell?" Raph demanded.

"I'm not kicking a gift-rescue in the mouth," Ryan declared. The lithe young man scrambled on top of the desk and tucked his handgun into his waist holster before grabbing the hand and climbing into the air conditioning shaft.

"I'm with him." Mike said. Leo nodded and his brother grabbed hold of Ryan's hand. Smarts climbed up next.

"Go, Raph." Leo ordered. The smoke was starting to dissipate.

"We can take these guys now!"

"We can't save Donnie and Zack by getting ourselves killed. Go!"

Raph growled, but grabbed hold of Mike's hand. Leo shook his head and jumped up into the vent after Raph's feet disappeared.

The trail of people blocked his view of the beginning of the line. But he heard another ventilation grill fall to the floor below and a person drop down. The others ahead of him climbed out of the ventilation shaft, one by one. Raph finally got his big shell out of the way and Leo landed on the floor of the smaller office. His eyes quickly sought out their rescuer, and his mouth fell open.

The black hood and shirt of traditional ninja garb paired with black denim shorts, leotard, and combat boots; only one ninja in the world wore that outfit. And it was the last ninja they expected to see in Chicago. Raph found his tongue first. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Saving your shells." She wasn't using the voice distorter anymore, but then it wasn't necessary. They knew who the Ronin really was now.

"We had the situation handled."

The Ronin ignored him as she pulled a bookcase across the door. "This whole building is monitored with cameras, some visible, most hidden. And somebody's telling those uglies where to go." As if on cue, the door out began to shake as someone tried to force it open. "Let's go."

"You just blocked the exit!" Raph shouted.

Ryan grabbed the desk chair and hurled it through the floor-to-ceiling window. The glass shattered, leaving a person-sized hole. "New exit."

"Right." The Ronin pulled a belt attachment out of one of the pouches on her belt. It was a thin cylindrical spool with a small grappling hook attached to the top. She knelt down in front of the window and started securing it to the floor.

Mike pulled out his grappling hook as he knelt down beside her. "Well, I'm glad to see you, no matter what they say." He extended the prongs out of the shell-shaped end and started hammering two of them into the floor.

"I missed you too, Michaelangelo." She stood up and attached the spool to her belt. "I'll take Ryan and Smarts."

Mike's incredibly large and goofy grin was reflected in part of the broken window for a second. Leo watched it go serious again as his brother stood up and wrapped his rope around his shell and right arm.

Ryan looked alarmed. "How the hell do you know us? Or them?"

The sounds outside the door changed to laser bolts being fired. "How about explanations when we're not getting shot at?" Leo suggested.

"No time like the present." The Ronin grabbed Ryan and Smarts around their waists. "I'd hang on, guys."

"I don't think our present level of acquaintanceship...." Smarts gulped.

She shrugged. "Suit yourself." She took one step and jumped out of the window dragging them with her. The red-haired young man let out a high-pitched scream, wrapped one arm around the Ronin, and grabbed his coke-bottle glasses with the other.

"We are not bailing!" Raph yelled. "Not on her say so!"

Leo rolled his eyes and looked past Raph to Mike who nodded. They both looped their arms with Raph's and dragged him to the window. The red-masked Turtle bellowed and tried to break free, but Leo led the plummet out of the window.

Trash groaned and stood up. The skinny young woman held the laser rifle thicker than her arm ready to shoot as her hazel eyes glanced over the deserted hallway.

Eight's head rested against one wall of the hall and his legs extended up the other one. He groaned and grabbed his head.

"I hope you're happy," she said, a little bitterly. "We've left Ryan and Smarts to certain doom to land in an apartment hallway. What am I supposed to shoot here?"

Eight grunted and struggled to sit up straight. Trash sighed as she slung the laser rifle across her back, freeing her hands to help pry him loose.

Unnoticed above them, a security camera monitored their movements.

Throttle heard the high-pitched scream, but it was hard for his oversized ears to miss. Man, every girl screams. No matter how tough they are. He chuckled as he revved his bike and headed around Limburger Tower. And the situation was odd enough to make him stop and try to figure out what was going on.

Charley's tow truck was parked on a side street flanked by three strange bikes--a green dirt bike with modified street tires, a large maroon trike, and a silver Ninja racing bike. Two groups of people descended down the side of the building on ropes. The girl, Allie--still wearing her black, head-covering mask--dropped two human guys on the concrete before cutting the line connecting her belt to the broken window above.

The guy with shoulder-length, red hair dropped to his hands and knees and kissed the street. The other guy dressed in a black biker jacket gagged and backed away from him. Allie shook her head and grabbed the redhead, hauling him to his feet and out of the way of the other group coming out of the window.

Throttle figured he had seen a lot of strange things in his life, but three humanoid turtles wearing belts around their shells and masks around their eyes dangling arm in arm from Limburger's building just won first prize. The turtle creature in the blue mask dropped to the ground first. The orange-masked one let go of the red-masked turtle who was caught by the one on the ground. The red-masked one was pissed over something, yelling and gesturing emphatically, but Throttle wasn't close enough to make out what he was saying.

Throttle looked up at the window. The orange-masked turtle looked like he was trying to figure out how to untangle himself from the rope. A goon suddenly appeared in the broken window, grinned down nastily, and kicked whatever anchored the rope out the window. Throttle gunned his bike, but he doubted there was enough time to catch him in mid-air.

"Mike!" The girl in black came running forward as the creature began to fall.

He twisted in the air and threw the rope again. The egg-shaped, green block at the end, which held a trio of sharp hooks, wrapped around a security camera mounted on the side of the building. The turtle's falling shifted to an arcing swing. He landed right next to the spot where Throttle screeched his bike to a stop. "Eat your heart out, Tarzan!" The turtle crowed as he snapped the grappling hook off the camera.

Allie reached them, her mask not hiding her panic. "I see you added sky-diving to your list of extreme sports."

The turtle's round face grinned under the orange mask knotted around his large brown eyes. "Had to fill my time with something when my girl left town. What better than a new hobby?"

Laser bolts started raining down on them. Allie and the turtle scampered closer to the building to avoid them. "Choose your partners better next time!" she said.

"Okay, I'll just sky-dive with you from now on."

Throttle fired his rockets into the office. The goons yelled and scrambled back before the explosions knocked out the rest of the glass. "There. Now we can talk."

He could see Allie's blue eyes opened wide behind the mesh-covered openings. "Now that's a tricked-out hog," she said breathlessly.

"Thanks, and those are some radical rope tricks. Worked in the circus?" Throttle gestured to her friend.

Allie shook her head. "Sorry. Throttle, Michaelangelo--a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Mike, Throttle--a Biker Mouse from Mars."

He shot her an incredulous look. "Martian?"

"That's what he said. And what BatWing said too."

He paused to consider this. Throttle hid a smirk. It was odd to see the typical Earthling's reaction coming from a creature as out of place as he was. "Didn't somebody say there wasn't any life on Mars?"

"They also said that nothing lives in New York sewers."

"Good point." The Turtle held out his three-fingered hand for Throttle to shake. "Sorry. I'm the dumb bunny of the group. 'Sides, if she bothers with introductions, you gotta be a good guy to know."

"Hey!" She planted her hands on her hips in the universal signal of female annoyance.

"You don't introduce the guys you've got bad blood with," Mike protested.

"Pleased to meet you, I think." Throttle shook his hand.

"You are; I'm the fun one to know."

She sighed with tender patience before turning to Throttle. "Where are the others?"

"They took the kids to get checked over. We have an acquaintance that has medical facilities."

"Good. Then we better make sure they're okay. And you better meet the others before the uglies come out shooting at us again." Allie lead the way back to the two bikers and two other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who were gathering at Charley's tow truck.

Throttle did a double take. Yes, it was Charley's blue tow truck. "What are you doing with Charley's truck?"

"You know the owner?" Mike asked with surprise. "Our van got smashed. We managed to get it to his garage, but we couldn't carry four people on three bikes. We've been really careful with it."

"You better. She," Throttle stressed, "doesn't even let us touch it."

Mike blinked a couple times before grinning. "Huh, maybe she'll be nice since we locked the garage for her."

"Well, I guess Sparks didn't have time to lock the door while running from that BatWing girl." Throttle eased his bike alongside them.

The Turtle in the red mask glared at them before turning to the other Turtle. "Looks like she made a new friend. Can we hope she'll dump Mike now?"

The one in the blue mask sighed, and Throttle's sharp ears picked it up. "You know, we can leave you here to join Donnie and Zack." And his expression betrayed just how tempting that idea was.

The young man, who looked like GQ's idea of a biker, twisted his confused face to the group coming to meet them and then back to the Turtles beside him. "Who is she? How does she know us?"

"They call me the Ronin when I'm dressed like this." The girl stopped in front of them, letting them get a full view of her solid-black outfit bristling with weapons.

Throttle made a mental note to tell his bros about her secret identity. The two humans bikers--the clean-cut one and the nerdy one--looked confused. The Turtle wearing the blue mask looked resigned. The Turtle in red looked like he wanted to pound something into pulp, and the Ronin was his first choice.

She didn't let it concern her. "Leonardo," she pointed to the blue-masked Turtle, "Raphael," the red-masked Turtle, "Ryan," the clean-cut biker, "and Smarts, both of the Black Bones," she finished with the redheaded nerd biker. "Everybody, this is Throttle, Biker Mouse from Mars. Where's Donatello?"

Raphael exploded. "He's still in there!" His thick, green finger pointed to Limburger Tower.

The girl in black and Throttle both glanced over their shoulders. The goons were emerging from a parking garage on their dune buggies. "Looks like there is where he'll have to stay. Unless that truck's tricked out like your bike?"

Throttle shook his head. "Charley doesn't bring it to firefights. When we let her come."

The Ronin sighed. "Not more machismo. Please. I don't think I can stand it." She grabbed her jacket off his lap and headed to the large maroon trike. "Let's get going. We've got better things to do than beat up on them."

Ryan gaped at the back of her jacket, shook his head, and then realized what she intended to do. "Look, Ronin, just 'cause you wear that jacket, doesn't mean you can handle that bike."

"No, practice means I can handle this bike." She straddled it, gave a quiet laugh, and moved the seat down into a pre-set position. Her feet hit the props and the handlebars were easily in her reach.

"Gee, decisions, decisions. Ride with grumpy Raph or ride with her?" Mike grinned. "Nothing personal, bro," he said as he climbed on behind her.

"And I thought you didn't like my driving." The Ronin revved the bike and headed up the street away from Limburger Tower.

"Get going, I've got the rear," Throttle said. The other bikers climbed on their rides and the other two Turtles climbed into the tow truck. And maybe we can get out of here without getting anybody killed.

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