Family, Friends, and Foes

Chapter Sixteen
The Trap is Sprung

Mike had rode with Allie on a bike once before. And he remembered calling her an insane driver. He took it all back as he gripped the bandoleers of true insanity.

"AOOOW!" Vinnie's bike leaped into the air and slammed back down on the deserted Chicago street. Luckily there was no cavernous potholes waiting for them. The crumbling seemed concentrated on the buildings lining the street or what was left of them. The white mouse jerked his head over his shoulder. "Better keep up, Earth boy!" He yelled over the roar of the engines.

The silver Ninja gunned ahead of Vinnie's red racer. "Keep your mouth closed. Less drag," came floating back at them.

"Hardee har har." Vinnie tugged at his bandoleers and glanced over his shoulder at his passenger. "So what do you think your ninja babe is gonna do to Fishlips?"

"Depends on Fishlips. First off, he don't have an antidote. But Allie knows that. She's smart like that." Mike gulped as the two bikes shot around the corner and wished he had a helmet. But none had fitted his head. And it was too wimpy to tuck into his shell.

"She really whipped tail on that biker gang last night. It'd be fun to watch again."

The Turtles shook his head. "Unless he fights first, she won't."

"Nah, Limburger always hires guys to do his fighting. Too bad."

Ryan glanced over when the red bike sidled up to him. "I can't believe she didn't coordinate with anyone. That's not like her."

"The job needs doing, Al's the one to get it done. She got the sense of responsibility in our relationship."

Ryan's dark blue helmet shook from side to side. "Seriously, she should've told someone she was going. It's not safe for one person."

"She did okay the last time," Vinnie interjected. "You were the ones getting shot at and not liking it."

"Besides my girl don't like being told no."

The human growled under his breath. "Does Allie being your girl justify her being stupid too?"

The rarely pushed anger button went off. Mike stiffened and focused his attention on the other rider rather than the thought Vinnie was going to kill them all. "Allie is not stupid. She's not crazy. She's not a bloodthirsty killer. I have to hear enough flack from my brothers about her. I don't have to take you bad-mouthin' my girl."

"I'm not bad-mouthing her. But going alone is stupid. When she was with the Bones...."

"She's had the lone fighter routine goin' for a while now." Mike sighed gloomily. "The Ronin is the end result."

"Ronin," Vinnie rolled the word out of his mouth. "Frank Miller?"

"Means masterless samurai in Japanese."

Vinnie chortled. "Yeah, I guess she doesn't like taking orders either."

"Allie is a great team player. She and Skulls kept the Bones going when everyone else said it would fall apart. I can't believe that would change." Ryan angrily increased his speed.

Vinnie kept up with him. Mike's grip on the bandoleers tightened again. "Hard to be a team player when you lose the team. Ever noticed how few pro sports players go solo?" Concentrate on Ryan. Maybe then I can ignore how Vinnie keeps wanting to drive this bike on its side. The bike wobbled but stayed upright.

"You forbid Allie to help? The best strategist the Mutates ever had? Are you crazy?"

"I never forbid her to do anything. I just asked that she'd take me on the ride."

"What have you done to the best fighter we ever had?" Ryan demanded. "I can't believe she'd put up with it. She should've come back to the Bones."

"After running away to keep those Val Tech people from tracking you down?" Vinnie asked.

"It's none of your business," Ryan snapped.

"I'm just havin' problems seeing where it's yours."

"Allie is an old friend. She's not happy and I want to know why. Why--if you love her--are you making her miserable?"

"Look Ryan, let's get one thing clear before I morph into Raph on you! The only way I'm to blame for any of Al's unhappiness is for not kicking my brothers' shells for her sake. And I didn't 'cause she told me not to. 'A family together is stronger than a family fighting,' is what she'd say. What never seemed to matter is that Allie is a part of our family. Yeah, they're real quick to adopt Zack." Mike realized just how bitter his voice was getting, and for once, didn't throw in a joke to lighten the mood. "I was hopin' that things would change once we all got back together. But everything is falling back into the old ruts!"

"Why in the world would they have a problem with Allie helping?" Ryan asked bewilderedly.

"We're a team, but not used to letting others into the team." Mike stared at the grey blur of the passing buildings. Swatches of color were added to it briefly under the working streetlights. "It's not just Allie; we've got other friends who get shafted just as much. But Al has constantly.... It just got easier for her to help without clearing it with us. Without even tellin' us."

Ryan glowered through his lifted faceplate. "You love her so much, and told her to sit on the sidelines?"

"I never told her anything! Or asked her. I would just play diplomat and she would do whatever it took to keep us together. She never wanted me to choose. She wanted me to have both her and my brothers."

"The girl has skills. I've seen her fight." Vinnie leaned further on his bike as they rounded a curve. "Seems a waste."

Mike had to gulp a couple of times before he could speak. "It is a waste. And nothing's changing."

"She needs to just kick their asses and get over it," Vinnie declared. They reached the end of the street and he screeched his bike to a stop. The tan and blue skyscraper lit by floodlights filled the space before them. "Limburger Tower. Which door do we drive through?"

"None of them." Mike gratefully leaped off the bike. Terra firma never felt so firm.

"You are crazy! Allie is probably alone in there now!" Ryan twisted on his silver bike to glare at him.

"And us charging in after her will make her mad and get all those hostages killed. If we were part of her plan, she would have told us."

"She doesn't have a plan! She just threw herself to them because Raphael got her worked up."

Mike blew a raspberry. "I told you. My girl ain't stupid. She never does anything without a plan. Had to, only way to keep my brothers in the dark about her helping."

"I don't like this. And I can't understand why you kept her on the sidelines."

"And people say I have a listening problem," Vinnie snickered.

"I can't believe you idiots," Ryan continued, ignoring Vinnie. "No wonder she's pulling suicidal stunts."

"Allie's not suicidal," Mike declared hotly as he jumped on top of the street corner drop box. "She just doesn't think her life is very important."

"Practically the same thing," Ryan insisted.

"No, it isn't dude. And if you knew the first thing about my girl...."

Ryan cut him off. "Allie and I went through a lot of shit, but I'd never let her waltz into that place," he gestured at the building, "alone. And I certainly wouldn't be so calm about it. She could get killed!"

"She never told me she was going," Mike answered flippantly. His eyes stared at the building. I trust you, Allie. I trust you to come back to me in one piece.

"You don't deserve her."

Vinnie glanced from one to the other. "Somebody's got a crush on her!"

Ryan's visible face inside his dark blue helmet reddened considerably. "That is ridiculous. We're just good friends. And it's none of your business, Martian!"

Vinnie snickered. "Must've hit a nerve. Understandable, she is a hottie. I'd hit on her too if I thought there was a chance."

"And the fact that Tala would yank your ears off has what to do with that decision?" Mike cocked his head to one side as he looked at the white mouse.

"More than I like to think about," he muttered. "For someone who says there's nothing serious between us, she sure has a jealous streak as wide as the Valles Marineris."

Mike chuckled. "Better watch out or you'll end up being her first and her last."

"If she doesn't kill me first." He looked at the Turtle suspiciously. "And what do you mean by that?"

"Means we get to grill ya while we wait for Allie." A large grin broke out under his orange mask.

Donnie gritted his teeth. The needle dug deeper into his leg. It spasmed against the restraints. One of the lab-coated technicians tightened the strap around his left ankle. The Turtle gulped down air while the needle was paused. The worse thing about knowing so much science is knowing exactly what they're doing to me. They were taking a marrow sample without sedation in his leg because it was easier to get to than the hipbone that was partially under his shell.

He had to take this chance, had to concentrate. There was a way out. He just had to think about it. Then once he had a plan, his ninja skills would execute it flawlessly. It's what he was trained for, him and his brothers. His brothers, worry broke his concentration. Where are they? Do they have them in another lab, strapped down, poked and prodded as well?

The strap was tightened around his ankle and his thigh before the needle began moving again. He gritted his teeth again and tried to meditate to distance himself from this. But the pain kept drawing him back. His arms pulled against the restraints on his wrists.

The needle hit the bone and kept going. He couldn't stop the screaming that erupted from his mouth. He wanted to. He needed to. He had to concentrate and find a way out of this. But it hurt so bad. He could feel the needle rotating in his bone. He was more aware of his leg than he had ever been before, especially where the needle twisted. There had to be a way to get free. But he couldn't stop screaming.

"Someone shut it up!" The redheaded woman smoothed her white lab coat as she looked down into Donnie's face.

"But you didn't want the findings skewed by anesthetics, Ms. Val?" The lab technician questioned as he pulled out the needle.

"Muzzle it. I hire you people for your brains and you can't even think of that." Her scornful voice rode over Donnie's quieting screams.

The needle was out and it didn't hurt as bad. He could almost get his breath back. Another technician wrapped straps around his chin and head and pulled tight. Donnie tried to keep his mouth open but the force against his jaw was too strong. His teeth snapped together. His control snapped. He struggled against the restraints keeping him pinned to the examination table. The straps didn't budge. And he felt the pinprick against his leg again.

"See how much quieter it is now," Val crooned. She smiled and Donnie decided he had never seen a more twisted expression before in his life and never wanted to see it again.

An hour later that felt so much longer, they finally wiped off the blood from all the punctures and released him. Two guards dragged him back down to the cell. His left leg didn't want to work at all. Two more guards stood in front of the cell door; one pressing gauze against the other's face. "What happened to you?" The guard squeezing Donnie's left arm asked.

The guard stepped away from the injured one. "That hellfire bitch cat tried to escape is what happened!" the injured one screamed. Blood welled up in the deep slashes raked down his face and trickled onto the undamaged skin. "She nearly took my face off!"

"You got her back? Arkson will turn us into guinea pigs next if she got away!" The guard on Donnie's right cried into his ear.

Hope surged into Donnie's chest. If Di got away, she could get help. There had to be more Mutates in Chicago. But the hope shriveled when the other guard laughed. "She didn't get very far thanks to the screaming freak there. It threw her just long enough for me to slug her with the rifle butt. And she just got her lashes, so little Miss Kitty ain't going to be walking--much less escaping anytime soon. Watch the door while we get him patched, will ya?"

"Sure." The guards shoved Donnie inside and slammed the heavy door shut.

The Turtle caught himself on his hands and knees against the floor. He looked up quickly for Di. She huddled in the corner, the tawny gold of her fur ruined by angry red stripes down and across her back. "Di!" He croaked. His throat felt raw.

She shifted slightly and hissed in pain. "I don't know what hurts the worst: my head, my back, or my pride. They tore my shirt off and didn't make one comment on my body."

Donnie felt his face grow hot as he realized that the tank top was missing and why she must be huddled over like she was. "Uh... um." He managed to sit down with his back to her. "Does their opinion matter?" Way to go, brainiac! That's a great way to show you care. "What I mean is if they had liked what they saw and we already know their control freaks...." He let his voice trail away.

"Yeah, I guess I should be glad they don't want to rape me." She laughed sarcastically. "As illogical as it is, a girl likes to know she's desirable. Not that it matters much to my life now."

"You're beautiful no matter what." His face grew even hotter after he blurted that out. "Not that my opinion matters."

"It matters to me," she said softly. "Thank you."

His leg throbbed with pain. "I'm glad it matters to you," he gasped.

"Are you alright? What did they do to you?"

"Took marrow samples out of my leg. Lost count of how many. Still hurts. How bad is your back bleeding?"

"I don't think it is bleeding anymore. It just hurts to move." The cat-like Mutate proved her statement by shifting and moving closer and inhaling sharply as she did so. She suddenly chuckled. "Most guys would be trying to sneak a peek."

Donnie felt his face going hot again. "Master Splinter taught us better than that."

"And I thought it was inborn modesty. You can look; the fur covers everything."

He turned slightly so he could see her kneeling near him. The tawny fur ran smoothly down her throat, over the swell of her breasts, and down her taunt abdomen marred only by her blue jeans shorts forcing the fur up at her waist. But she was wrong; he could see the peaks of her nipples through the strands of fur. And her figure topped by that exquisite face and hypnotic green-gold eyes reminded him all too pointedly that he was a male Turtle. He jerked his eyes away, positive that his face was brick red now. "No, I don't think I can," he said brusquely.

It seemed ages before she said anything and when she did her voice was so miserable Donnie had to turn and look at her again. "Why did I have to find you now?"

"What's wrong with now? Other than the obvious."

She rearranged herself and drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. "I have responsibilities."

"I can understand that. Wanting to undo your father's evil." Donnie held his breath, unsure how she would react to it said so bluntly.

"That's only part of it. The other part isn't safe to talk about." She looked directly at him. "You never asked me whether it was true. I did kill my mother."

"I figured you'd say something when you wanted me to know." He swallowed hard.

"I was four. Dashed out into the street. My mother grabbed me, got me out of the way and was hit. She lingered until my father took her off life-support. I don't remember it at all. My father told me the story over and over again. Hating me more every time."

"Oh Di. You're not responsible for that."

She smiled slightly with her still human lips. "I know that. I have a responsibility for his crimes. And I have to live up to the promise my mother saw in me. Which leads to my responsibilities for my people." Her green-gold eyes brimmed with tears. "And now I've met you. And I... I never anticipated the possibility of you, if that makes any sense." Her voice faltered. "I never planned for a relationship with an equal. I have trouble finding them. I tend to intimidate everyone. And... and this," the tears spilt over, "this won't go anywhere. My responsibilities will keep us apart." Her head bent down to rest against her knees.

There is a big something she's leaving out. I can't ask her about it now. It's too dangerous. And it hurts too much to watch her cry. Donnie scooted closer, ignoring the pain in his leg. He reached over and petted the back of her head. "Don't cry, please. You have to concentrate on the now; something Master Splinter told us." Di looked up with darker lines of wet fur down her cheeks. He swallowed hard. "I know there's nothing good about being here, but...." She uncurled from the ball she had made and leaned against him. Donnie snapped his mouth shut to keep from screwing up this bit of luck and wrapped his arm carefully around her shoulders to avoid her injuries. His hand continued to stroke her hair. It seemed to soothe them both.

Limburger pushed his corpulent body away from his desk and stood at the floor-to-ceiling window behind it. "Yes, today was profitable. Overall that is," he said to his dim reflection in the glass. "The mutated goons are recovering. Should be battle ready in a few weeks. And Ms. Val says she will finish the job once she has Martian DNA. Rather insistent on it, given that she was the one who was supposed to capture them," he scowled.

His face brightened as he turned and considered his sparsely lit office. "But my building is still standing despite numerous attacks yesterday." He chuckled ominously and a movement wave cascading down his many chins with the sound. "That must rankle those courageous chipmunks. And I got to rub their snouts in it." His white-gloved hands rubbed together in glee. "I have that satisfaction from that phone call at least." He picked up the martial arts movie videocassette off his desk and studied the cover intently. "But I am a patient fish."

"Just not a very observant one." The female voice rang mockingly through his office.

"Who's there?"

"I'm sorry, I thought we had an appointment. My mistake." Something moved out of the shadows and revealed itself to be a female, at least five inches shorter than he, dressed entirely in black including covering her entire head with a tight mask made of spandex-like material. He could see her eyes glittering underneath the mesh shielding over the only holes cut in the fabric.

"The ninja," he whispered in almost awe.

"I prefer to be called the Ronin."

Limburger pulled himself together. She came, she actually came. And now I have to make her mine. "Yes, of course. I am Lawrence Lactavius Lim...."

"I know who and what you are."

Not quite liking the tone of her voice, he chuckled deprecatingly."You really can't believe everything those Martians told you. After all, they have their own agenda for this planet." Oh, that's good. Play up to the human's fear of the Other.

"Everyone has an agenda. Right now, I'm interested in yours." Her arms hung by her sides, a non-confrontational pose.

"Mine?" Limburger slowly sank into his chair with a hopefully charming grin. "I'm just a businessman, trying to get resources that my home world lacks."

The Ronin moved closer to his desk. "And where do I fit into that agenda?"

He leaned back in his chair lazily. These humans are so easy to deal with. Any species so simple to deceive deserve to be conquered. "The Martians, they don't understand. The people of Earth will be massively compensated for resources that won't even be missed. Both of our planets will prosper."

She stared down at him from the other side of the desk. "And the Martians keep getting in the way?"

"Precisely! Granted their anger is understandable. The former administration took unnecessarily extreme measures on Mars. Exploited the planet and its people. But that's not the situation on Earth." The best lies contain a grain of truth. And always pass the blame.

"Then why come in secret? Why hide your identity; what you are?"

"This coming from the human behind her own mask," he said dryly. "You must know how your people would treat extraterrestrial. Just look at how you treat members of your own species."

"You have a point. But you have aligned yourself with people guilty of the worst atrocities against their own species."

Limburger heaved a fake sigh. "To gain some useful technology. Unfortunately, the people in my organization need augmentation. Strictly volunteer. I had no idea she was going to continue her activities on helpless citizens. Your earlier entrance is due to a grievance against Val Tech?"

"Perhaps." The blue eyes behind the mesh were cold.

"Then perhaps we could help each other," Limburger purred. She knows something about them. That could be very useful. "I understand that you ninjas are strictly work-for-hire. Let us make a mutually beneficial business arrangement."

She walked up to the giant aquarium wall. "It has been a long time since someone has offered me a business deal." Her voice sounded amused.

Play up the vanity now. "Then they have clearly not seen your impressive skills."

"And I suppose the antidote hinges on disposing of the Martians for you?" She walked down the length of the aquarium.

So much for hoping she'd just be interested in the money. But if she saw that need so quickly, perhaps she is not objectionable to disposing of the vermin. But don't state it too bluntly. "Unfortunately. They are unable to prevent themselves from meddling in my business affairs. Recovering from their innumerable fiascoes is reaching astronomical costs. I'm afraid at this point, the only solution possible is elimination." Limburger held his breath. This was the pivotal moment of negotiations.

"Yes, I can see why that is your only option. And since Val Tech failed so miserably to capture them, it's time to find new help."

"Precisely." Give me a capitalist to deal with anytime. Time to remind her of what she doesn't like about them. "And of course, their treatment of innocent citizens."

The Ronin laughed, and Limburger gulped involuntarily. "Let's be perfectly honest. Just like the last guy who offered me a partnership, you don't give a damn about the people you hurt. You're here to wreck Earth. And you don't have any type of antidote." She pivoted to face him. "I dress like a ninja and use their tactics, but I am a ronin. So I'm turning down your business deal. But I'll give you a promise instead. You will pay for the crimes you have committed on this planet."

Limburger frowned. So it's a bust. Not that I really expected anyone who has fought with those bloody Biker Mice to join me. He pushed the silent alarm button under his desk. "Well, I am sorry you have taken the less profitable path. But...." The set of double doors into his office swung open, revealing a line of his smirking goons with brandished laser pistols. "I'm afraid I'll have to insist that you give me the leverage I need over Val Tech." His apologetic tone was ruined by his hearty malevolent chuckles.

The Ronin moved serenely, untroubled by the guns at her back. She reached the spot of the floor that held the lift down to Karbunkle's lab. Her eyes met Limburger's. "I wonder where this goes," she commented mockingly as her foot pressed down on the hidden control button.

Speechless with the uncontrollable fury that washed over him, he watched her sink out of his grasp. But she was headed straight to Karbunkle's lab. "AFTER HER!" he roared lividly at the goons. They scrambled away to do his bidding.

Allie looked back up at Limburger's office as she moved further away from it. She smiled under her hood as she heard his bellowing. Idiot. Like I didn't look for all possible exits before revealing myself, but I didn't have time to get to the door in the wall. She looked down at the room she was descending into. It was large, taking up three floors of vertical space. The walls were lined in metal. She floated past immobile robot arms hung from the ceiling. The arms had what could be scientific instruments on the end, but they reminded her of torture devices. Below on the floor, the room contained examination tables, supply cabinets, strange machinery, and computer terminals that filled the space of an entire wall.

An odd-shaped humanoid was hunched over one of the computer terminals; a skinny being with a larger than normal head dressed in white lab coat that was long enough to be a dress. The head was bald except for a patch of sandy-colored hair stuck on top. A green strap wrapped around the back of the skull, and it looked like two wires from its belt were plugged into the side above its ear. It ignored the section of floor from above that landed on the floor.

The creature pounding its own head with a wooden mallet noticed the Ronin though. It looked like the kid who built Frankenweenie's next project. His feet were shaped like a dog's and a brown bushy tail wagged happily with every blow. One arm was a normal humanoid one. The arm holding the mallet was a green tentacle. Its head was round; the top held on by a row of staples. Its three eyes lit up with more joy. "Oh! Shinny, pointy, sharp, pain sticks! Let me play with 'em pleeeaase!"

The scientist didn't look up from what he was working on. "Shut up, Fred!" it wheezed.

Fred sighed and resumed pounding his head with the mallet.

Allie moved silently behind the scientist. She really couldn't see what he was working on, but he hit save with a satisfied grunt. I hope this is one of my moments of brilliant inspiration. She reached past him, hit the button, and grabbed the disk that popped out. "What's this?"

He jerked away from the console, staring at her with black-lens goggles. "Give that back!"

She jerked it out of his reach and stepped back. "Must be important if you're that upset."

The rubber-gloved hands tried to grab the disk again. She kept it away from him. "Give that back, you illogical illiterate!"

"I've never been called that before." Allie risked a glance at the disk. It looked like a normal zip disk. I may have found the jackpot. Just don't know how much is in the pot. Her masked face betrayed nothing. "You don't look like the Val Tech type, so you must be on Limburger's payroll. He wasn't kidding about scraping the bottom of the barrel."

The scientist screeched in rage, whirled, and grabbed a remote control off the console. The robot arms above creaked to life. The pinchers and probes plunged towards her. Allie dodged, rolling under an examination table.

Fred dropped the mallet. "She don't wanna play, Doc. Play with me! Play with me!"

"Shut up, you masochistic misfit!"

Two robot arms with large pinchers grabbed the examination table she was under. The metal shrieked as they pulled it free from the support bolted to the floor. Allie rolled away from the sparking wires.

The scientist cackled. "You can't escape, not unless you blow something up. Now give it back!"

"You've got a one-track mind." The robot pinchers dropped the examination table and reached down for her. The round metal doors to the side slid open. The goons from upstairs stormed across a small bridge over a recess in the floor. There. The way out. She leaped to her feet. "Hello boys."

They opened fire. She leaped. The robot arms exploded under the barrage of laser bolts. She landed roughly in the recess.

"YOU IDIOTS!" the scientist screamed.

"Here's the bull's-eye! WHEE!"

"Not in front of me, Fred!"

Allie scrambled out of the recess. She clambered over the bridge and found the door controls. She grinned under her mask as the door slid shut. A quick thrust with her sai damaged the controls. They would have to pry the doors open. She shoved the disk into a pouch on her belt and sprinted to the nearest air vent.

Vinnie rested his elbows on the crankcase of his red racer and heaved a sigh. This waiting was too boring. A good laugh had been had at his expense after they had wormed out of him how for he hadn't gotten with Tala. But he didn't tell them why and they had thankfully let the subject die.

Ryan was beating a nervous staccato against his leg. The Turtle was still perched on the mailbox, humming lightly to himself as the breeze tugged on the orange ends of his bandanna mask. I don't know how he's doing it. Sit like that without movin' and stayin' so calm about his girl being in there alone. I don't think I could let Tala go in alone. Yeah... yeah, she would be in there alone. Cause she'd leave me bound and gagged somewhere. Mmmm, bound and gagged.

Vinnie was awakened from the erotic turn his thoughts had taken when Mike jumped down. "They found her exit."

"What?" But the Turtle was gone. He shrugged his white-furred shoulders at the human's interrogative expression. Then he heard the laser fire. "Bout time! This way!" He revved his bike and squealed the tires across the pavement.

Their headlights picked out a group of Limburger's goons converging on the shadowy side of the Tower. A black blur moved within them. And a goon flew through the air. He landed in front of Vinnie and Ryan's halted bikes. Another bounced off the wall of the building.

"Banzai!" Twirling some sticks connected with a short chain, Mike leaped into the fray.

"Damnit!" With them in the middle of all the goons, Vinnie couldn't shoot. He folded his arms across his chest to keep his fingers away from the triggers and sulked. But as he watched, he grudgingly had to admit they didn't need his guns. The goons didn't have a chance to use theirs either.

Mike slung those sticks around the arms of the goons and broke them effortlessly. Allie kicked and punched the goons to unconsciousness. A few minutes later and all the goons were on the ground. The ones that were still capable of groaning did.

Allie leaped and Mike caught her. He spun her around. "Thought you were never comin' out. What took so long?"

"He's a long-winded pompous bastard."

"Must've talked to Limburger," Vinnie smirked.

"You should've told us." Ryan said with a trace of anger as Mike set her back down on the ground.

"There wasn't time to discuss it in committee." The blue eyes blinked innocently behind her mask.

"Did you hit Limburger?" Vinnie's tail lashed through the air.

"Sorry to disappoint, but no. Next time will be a different story."

Mike gazed up at the Tower. "Payback party time!"

"You shouldn't have gone in there. Now, they know we're coming."

Mike frowned. "Ryan dude, they already knew we were coming back. They have Donnie and Di."

"Was it worth it?" Vinnie interjected.

She shrugged. "I didn't get to see the Val Tech side of things. I did get this." She pulled a disk out of a pouch on her belt. She handed it to Mike. "You better keep it safe."

"What is it?" The Turtle asked curiously.

"Don't know but the skinny guy with the large head I got it from pitched a fit when I took it."

"Karbunkle," Vinnie spat venomously.

"I guess he isn't on your Christmas card list," Allie said blandly.

"You got that right! He's a demented psycho! He...."

"Did you see any hostages?" Ryan interrupted.

"No, I didn't see Donnie or Di. But I didn't think it was a good idea to go looking for them."

Mike winced and glanced up at the building again. "He's hurtin'. At least that means he's alive." Allie curled her hand around his three-fingered one.

"That's not what I was talking about. They took more hostages. And we should get out of here before more of those guys come out." Ryan looked down at the goon in front of the bike and shook his head.

"She missed that announcement." Mike squeezed her hand. "You ride with Vinnie, okay?"

"Afraid of something, Mike?" Ryan's sneering eyes gazed out of his dark blue helmet. Vinnie frowned slightly. It was never good when two guys started fighting over a girl.

"Yeah, puking all over him."

Allie swung on behind the white mouse with the practiced ease of an experienced biker. "Let's go. We need to get Mona and my bike. How many hostages did they take?"

"Mona showed up already. She's the lizard girl, right?" Vinnie gunned his bike and whirled around to head back up the street and avoided running over any of the goons.

"Salamander actually," Allie yelled back.

"She told us about the other hostages. About seventy citizens."

"Well, she didn't bring my bike. She hates it."

Something occurred to him, something he wanted to ask the Turtle about. Vinnie slowed his speed and let Ryan's silver Ninja pull up beside him. "Hey Mike, howdja do that?"

"Howd I do what?" He yelled back.

"Know she was in trouble; know about your brother."

"Oh. Just a little psychic thing I do." Ryan shot his bike ahead and Mike grimaced as held on tighter.

"Is he joking?" Vinnie tossed back to Allie.

He saw her shake her head in his rearview mirror. "He always has known more about me than I do. And he always has great timing whenever his brothers are in trouble."

"Okay." Vinnie turned his eyes back to the road. Man, can it get any weirder? And that's not a challenge!

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