Disclaimer: For the full disclaimer, go to the beginning of Chapter I. Otherwise, I do not own the Biker Mice, and I'm not makin' a dime off this! So, have I completely confused you yet? No???? Dang it! Well, this ought to then... :~]

An Adventure

Copyrighted to Danya, ©1997, all rights reserved, etc., etc.

Chapter III:

An Eventful Road Trip and a Painful Loss

The sun rose bright and clear over Chicago the next morning. Its warm rays pierced the gloomy windows of an old warehouse, showing it was not as abandoned as it appeared. A large group of mean looking thugs were loading their weapons, and making sure their vehicles were in working order. An odd foursome was standing apart from them. A large, muscular, stupid looking man wearing greasy blue overalls and a red cap was talking to a big, fat man with blue hair and a purple suit. Next to them stood a short, frazzled looking man in a blue suit, and a scrawny man wearing a white lab coat and strange green glasses, with a tube sticking out of his head below a tuft of scruffy sandy-colored hair.

"But Mr. Limboiger." The dirty man in the overalls said to the fat man in purple. "Why'd we wait till mornin' to smash them meeces?"

"Because, my dear Greasepit," Limburger replied. "Those two infuriating vermin would have, no doubt, spent all night futilely searching for their unfortunate friend, leaving them terribly exhausted and terribly vulnerable for our attack this morning."

"And with that ovew-intewigent wab wat out of the way," The short man said with a strong lisp. "The wemainder of the Biker Mice wiw be easiwy cwushed!"

"Too true, Brie." Limburger said, smiling. "Is everything in order, Karbuncle?" He asked, turning to the scrawny man.

"Absolutely, your high, supreme, cheese-wizzyness!" Karbuncle wheezed happily.

"Then let us depart, and be rid of the Biker Mice and the Last Chance Garage once and for all!" Limburger shouted.

The goons in the warehouse cheered and jumped in their vehicles, driving out of the warehouse quickly. Limburger, Brie, and Karbuncle climbed into a purple stretch limo, and Greasepit jumped on his three-wheeler.

* * *

Throttle was awakened by a strange noise and a wonderful smell. Yawning and stretching, he put on his glasses and looked around. He hadn't had a decent nights' rest in months, and he felt great! Modo was looking around blearily, still half asleep, while Vinnie was still snoring, sleeping in an impossible looking position on a chair. Muffled laughter and a soft `thump' emitted from the kitchen.

"Sssshhhh!" A soft girl's voice giggled from the kitchen. "We're gonna wake `em up!"

"Oh, they need to wake up, anyway!" Charley's voice said quietly.

Throttle and Modo looked at each other, surprised and curious. They walked to the doorway of the kitchen and their world suddenly went white and powdery. They sneezed, shaking the flour off their faces.

"Ooops, sorry!" Carter said, snickering.

"What are you guys doing?!" Throttle said, sneezing again.

"We're cooking breakfast!" Carter said cheerfully, putting the open bag of flour back on the table.

She had been chasing Jordan around the kitchen with it, and when she heard Throttle and Modo walking up to the doorway she had come to an abrupt stop so she wouldn't crash into them. The flour had exploded out of the bag when she had halted her run, getting them right in the faces. Her, Jordan, and Charley already had flour all over them, along with some other various food related colorations.

"Or trying to, anyway." Charley said, laughing and flipping a pancake onto a large plate that was already heaping with them.

"Pancakes!" Modo and Throttle exclaimed excitedly.

"Yup!" Carter said smiling.

"There's something missing here." Charley said thoughtfully and paused. "I don't hear Vinnie whining about how long it's taking."

"Oh, he's still asleep." Throttle said. "We'll get him up."

A surprised shout and a loud `thud' followed soon after Throttle and Modo left the doorway of the kitchen.

"OW!!" Vinnie's voice protested.

"Wakey, wakey, sunshine!" Throttle's voice said sweetly.

A split-second later, Throttle and Modo dashed back into the kitchen laughing. Vinnie wasn't far behind. Throttle grabbed the bag of flour and shoved it into Vinnie's angry face. His action created a large, white cloud that filled the little room.

"Whoops!" Throttle said. "Didn't know it was gonna do all that!"

"YOU OAFS GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN!!!" Charley shouted, brandishing her spatula and coughing from all the flour in the air.

The three mice sprinted from the kitchen, snickering.

"Well, they've certainly got their energy back." Charley grumbled, trying to hide the almost painful relief and happiness washing over her. It was the first sign of spirit she'd seen in those mice in over a month and a half! She turned to Jordan and Carter. "You two should probably start getting ready for school. Those bottomless pits out there'll have these pancakes gone in a matter of seconds!"

"Race ya!" Jordan shouted, running out of the kitchen.

"Why do you always have to cheat?!" Carter yelled, running after him.

"Cause you're too dang fast!" He said as she beat him to the bathroom.

"You're just too slow!" She said from inside the bathroom.

She cleaned up quickly and let her brother use the bathroom while she changed into her uniform in Charley's room. She kept her shorts on under the skirt and wrapped her braids around her head so they'd be out of the way. She loved it when Jordan braided her hair like this, because she didn't have to worry about it for weeks. It didn't need combing, it stayed out of her face, and she didn't even have to wash it that often if she didn't want to. Something soft forcefully hit her on the top of the head as she walked out of the room.

"You are just askin' for it this morning, you little dweeb!!" She shouted gleefully, running after Jordan.

Carter leapt on his back, pushing him to the ground. She ripped the pillow out of his hands and smacked him with it. *WHUMP* He scrambled away from her, toward the couch. She hit him again on his backside as he tried to escape. *WHUMP*

"OUCH!!" He turned and grabbed air. She was gone! He covered his head instantly, and felt the pillow hit his hands roughly.

"That's for being dumb enough to think I'd still be there!" Carter berated from the top of the couch.

She had seen him tense up to turn around and had immediately vaulted over him, landing on the top of the couch, which was now behind him. She jumped on him again, wrapping her arm around his neck and pushing him to the ground, covering his laughing face with the pillow.

"Why do you always let her beat you like that?" Vinnie asked from across the room.

Vinnie thought Jordan was just being nice, letting his smaller sister win, but enough was enough! Jordan was three times the size of Carter, and he ran from her like she was the bigger one! The slender redhead looked up at Vinnie with an evil grin, and, for some odd reason, he suddenly felt like he had gotten in a little over his head. She threw the pillow at him and he ducked it easily. She'll have to do better than that! He looked up and opened his mouth to voice the thought, but the garage unexpectedly tipped and spun around him. Something soft hit his back, catching him and stopping the movement of the building. He shook his head and looked up. Everyone was standing on the ceiling with their mouths open.

"I don't let her beat me, Vinnie." Jordan's voice said from the side.

Vinnie looked over and saw that everyone wasn't on the ceiling, he was upside down on the couch. Now, how did that happen?! Modo, Throttle, and Charley abruptly burst into uncontrollable laughter, falling on the floor. He rolled off the couch and stood up, glaring at them. Carter was standing where he had been with her hands on her hips and a satisfied look on her face. The realization of what just happened brought a cold feeling of horror to his stomach. THAT LITTLE 20 POUND BIRD OF A GIRL JUST TOSSED ME ACROSS THE ROOM!!??!!

"THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!!!" Vinnie shouted, defending his ego. "OH, SHUT UP!!" He yelled at the three figures rolling on the floor with tears streaming out of their eyes.

"I-I can't bel-believe I jus-just saw that!!" Charley gasped, trying to control her laughter.

"She picked you up like a rag doll!" Throttle said, holding his sides.

"Man, was that ever a `Kodak moment'!!" Modo said, tears streaming down his cheek as he rolled on the floor.

"I just wasn't ready for her!" Vinnie said, folding his arms across his chest in offended dignity.

"I've got some bad news for you." Jordan said, handing Carter her backpack. "You'll never be ready for her. That's how she gets ya."

"Still, she should have a little respect for her older brother." Vinnie said in an attempt to change the subject.

"I might, if I had one!" Carter said, laughing and elbowing Jordan. "This big ox is only 14! He's two years younger than I am."

"What?!" They all shouted.

Jordan was nearly as big as Vinnie! They had all thought he was Carter's older brother.

"No way!!" Charley said.

"He can't be 14!" Vinnie said.

"You're joking, right?" Throttle asked.

"No, I'm not." Carter said, smiling. "He's the baby of the family."

"Wow!" Modo said. "He's alm---" He cut himself off, turning to the door and listening.

Throttle and Vinnie did the same thing, and the three of them slowly started to smile.

"Well, well, well." Throttle said, chuckling at the sound of approaching vehicles. "I hear our after-breakfast snack!"

"But we asked for take-out, not delivery." Modo said, getting on his bike.

"Man, I hate it when they get our order wrong!" Vinnie said, jumping on his bike as well.

"Me too." Throttle said, climbing on his bike. "But everyone's gotta make a living. Let's go give `em their tip!" He revved his engine. "Let's rock"

"AND RIDE!!" The three of them shouted, peeling out of the garage.

"YYYEEEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!" Vinnie shouted in joy as they sped down the street.

"We gotta take it easy on the weapons." Throttle said. "We don't have much ammo left, so use it sparingly!"

"Who needs weapons with talent like this?!" Vinnie said.

"Yeah, this coming from a guy that just got beat up by a girl!" Modo said, grinning.

"I DID NOT GET BEAT UP BY A GIRL!!!" Vinnie yelled angrily. "She took me by surprise!"

"Well, if there're any goons armed with pillows," Throttle said, laughing. "We'll try to warn ya ahead of time."

"Ha, ha, ha. You two are hilarious." Vinnie growled.

* * *

Greasepit heard the bikes as he was driving down the street toward the Last Chance Garage. He had been expecting this, but what he had not been expecting was seeing three bikes heading straight for him and the goons behind him. He picked up the radio quickly.

"Um, Boss?" He asked timidly into the radio. "Them biker's is here."

"Well, deal with them, you brainless buffoon!" Limburger answered.

"But Boss, there's tree a'dem!"


"That dead mousie ain't so dead-lookin' no more!"

"That's impossible!" Limburger shouted, looking out the window of his office with a pair of binoculars. "That wretched rodent has more lives than a cat!" He picked up the radio again and shouted into it. "They can't have much ammunition left, just DESTROY THEM!!"

"Yes Boss." Greasepit said, saluting at the furious voice. He looked back toward the oncoming bikes, but they were gone. "Hey! Where'd dey go?"

"Oh, Greasepit!" A voice said from above him.

"Huh?" Greasepit said surprised, looking up.

"We're right here!" Throttle said, his front tire hitting Greasepit smack in the face and flattening him and his three-wheeler. "Yeach!" He said, wiping off the grease that had splattered on him. "All right, let's Rack `em and Stack `em, number 16!"

"Man, I love this one!!" Vinnie shouted, turning down a side street, followed by four buggies.

Modo did the same, four following him in the opposite direction, while Throttle jumped over the remaining three goons, forcing them to turn around and go after him. Throttle turned down a street and was confronted with two more buggies. He pulled out his blaster and shot a near-by streetlight, making it fall on the two extra goons. Laser fire whizzed past his head and he turned to shoot at the three still following him, but the blaster made a funny noise and didn't fire.

"Looks like I'll have to do this the hard way." He said, throwing the useless weapon aside and ducking more laser fire.

He drove by a steel pipe on the ground and snatched it up, throwing it at the goon on the end. It hit his hand, triggering the blaster he was holding. The shot fired to the side, disarming the other two thugs. A distant explosion let Throttle know that Vinnie had used his last missile. Smiling, he turned down another street and saw Modo coming straight at him. Vinnie would be doing the same from the left. Throttle hit his rockets and gave Modo a high-five as they passed each other in midair. He braked to a halt as he hit the ground, and turned to see the many buggies plow into each other, stacking themselves up like building blocks.

He sighed and shook his head at the sight of the riderless red bike that screeched to a halt next to him. Vinnie had arrived a little late and gotten the end of his tail caught in the crashing vehicles, jerking him off his bike. The tall mound of twisted buggies started to tip over in Vinnie's direction. Throttle gunned his engines and sped under the falling tower, grabbing Vinnie and reaching the other side just in time to see the top buggy fall directly on a very shocked Greasepit.

"A little slow today, are we?" Throttle asked, putting Vinnie down.

"I got sidetracked." Vinnie said, walking to his bike.

"So I heard." Throttle turned to Modo. "How much ammo you got left, big fella?"

"Not much." Modo said. "Just a couple shots left in this." He gestured to his metal arm. "And one grenade."

"Man, we have got to get some firepower, and fast!" Vinnie said. "I'm going into explosion withdrawals! I gotta blow something up!!"

"You just did!" Modo said.

"Well, I need to do it again!!" Vinnie yelled.

"It'll have to wait." Throttle said, looking at his watch. "We have to get Carter and Jordan to school on time."

* * *

Jordan and Carter were sitting on the roof of the Last Chance, their feet dangling off the edge, watching for the guys. Charley had found two extra helmets for them, and they threw them on when they saw the approaching motorcycles.

"Charley, they're coming!" Carter yelled and jumped off the roof, landing lightly on the ground.

"Okay, I'll be out in a sec!" Charley called back. "Do you two need a ladd---" She cut herself off as she walked out of the garage and saw Carter and Jordan on the ground. "How did you guys get down?!"

"We jumped." Carter said simply.

"From the roof?!"

"Sure. It's not very high."

Charley looked up at the high roof, then back at them and shook her head, putting her helmet on as Modo, Throttle, and Vinnie drove up.

"That's a sweet jacket, Carter!" Modo said.

"Thanks!" Carter said. "Jordan got it for me for my birthday."

"Are you sure we're going to get to school on time?" Jordan asked.

"Are you kidding?!" Vinnie said, putting Charley on his bike with his tail. "We'll have you there before the teachers!"

"Please don't!!" Carter said emphatically. "The last thing I need is Ms. Vulture seeing us drive up on motorcycles!"

"What's wrong with motorcycles?!" The three mice asked, astounded.

"I don't have the least problem with them, but it just isn't lady-like behavior to go cavorting around onwhat did she call them? Barbaric, testosterone-driven, death machines?"

"And heaven forbid she catch you wearing those shorts under your uniform!" Jordan said angrily, climbing on Modo's bike.

"Good grief, I'd be the disgrace of the entire school!" Carter said, sitting behind Throttle. "I'll have to take `em off when I get there, because I refuse to wear nothing but a skirt on a bike!" She looked around her. "Where are the handle bars?"

"Sissy bars?!" Vinnie asked, horrified.

"On a Martian bike?!" Modo asked, just as shocked.

"You must be joking!!" Throttle said, and they gunned their engines, tearing down the street.

Carter grabbed Throttle's waist quickly and tightly at the sudden movement of the bike. She looked over at Charley and saw Vinnie hit his rocket boosters, sail through the air on his bike, do two flips, lose Charley, snatch her back with his tail, and land next to them.

"How did you do that?!" Carter asked, amazed.

"You are looking at Vinnie VanWham, the supreme master of the motorcycle universe!!" Vinnie said proudly.

"Don't listen to him." Throttle said. "The hot air in his head makes him practically weightless on his bike."

Vinnie glared at Throttle while Modo and Charley laughed.

"Can you do stunts like that?" Carter asked Throttle.

"Throttle's bike?!" Vinnie asked, scornfully. "Ha! That's a laugh!"

"My bike's not quite as juiced up for stunts like that." Throttle said, glaring at Vinnie. "She has more sense."

"Do the bikes really think on their own?" Carter asked.

"Well, kind of. They have personalities, but they're not independent thinkers. They pretty much have to have us around to tell them what to do."

"Um." Jordan said. "How fast are we going?"

"Not fast enough!" Vinnie said impatiently.

"I don't know." Modo said. "We don't have speedometers. We'll get ya to school on time, though. Don't worry."

"I'm not worried about getting there on time." Jordan said. "I'm worried about getting there at all! We are going very fast! What if we get pulled over?"

"Why would we get pulled over?" Throttle asked.

"Yeah, there's no speed limit on the expressway." Charley said.

"There isn't?!" Carter and Jordan asked in amazement.

"No. There never has been." Charley said.

"I'm hitting the books as soon as we get out of school!" Carter said. "There is way too much new stuff to learn about this place!"

"You're not kidding!" Jordan said.

"How long have you guys lived in Chicago?" Charley asked.

"Well, we moved to the suburbs a year ago, but we're just starting to learn about the city." Carter said.

"Where did you live before?" Modo asked.

"Hell." Jordan said quietly.

"What?" Charley, Vinnie, Modo, and Throttle asked.

"We prefer not to say the place's real name, so we call it Hell." Carter said. "I said I'd tell you about why we have our picnics in the rain, and the reason is because of where we used to live. Needless to say, it wasn't a very nice city for us. There was a gang that would terrorize everyone in our neighborhood, and the only time we could go outside without them bothering us was during a thunderstorm. After all, who in their right minds would be playing out in the streets, in the pouring rain, with the tornado sirens blaring. We're not afraid of the storms because they were the only things that kept us really safe. Well, that and Sorrow." Carter said sadly.

"Who's Sorrow?" Throttle asked.

"He was our dog." Jordan said blankly. "He died."

"How long did you have him?" Charley asked.

"Almost 10 years." Carter said. "We named him `Sorrow' because it was the only thing he wasn't. I wish we could get another pet, but the apartment we live in doesn't allow it."

"Hey Carter?" Throttle asked, trying to change the obviously painful subject. "What's that stitched on your jacket? It looks familiar."

"It's a phoenix."

"What's a phoenix?" Modo asked.

"It's an ancient Egyptian legend. The phoenix was a bird that lived in the desert for 500 years, then destroyed itself by consuming itself in fire."

"Not a very pleasant way to go." Vinnie said.

"That's not the end of the story, though. It rose from it's own ashes and was transformed into one of the most beautiful creatures ever seen. Its feathers were made of fire and light. Dad gave me the name cause my hair was so red."

"Wait, I thought your name was Carter." Modo said, confused.

"It is. My middle name is Phoenix. Carter Phoenix Dubay. Jordan's middle name is Raven. Mom gave him that one because ravens bring luck."

"Yeah, well we're gonna need it!" Charley said, looking behind them. "Because we've got company!"

Eight buggies were gaining on them quickly.

"Didn't we just take care of these guys?!" Modo asked, frustrated.

"Looks like they want a rematch!" Vinnie said, grinning.

"Yeah, well as much as I'd like to oblige them," Throttle said. "We don't have the firepower and there's no place to stop and drop our passengers off."

"Why don't we just out run `em?" Charley asked.

"No." Throttle said. "We don't want to lead `em to their school."

"Yeah." Modo said. "No telling what those reeking stink-fish'll do if they see us dropping them off."

"Well, then I guess we'll just have to take care of them now." Carter said, turning around on the seat so she was facing the oncoming vehicles.

"What are you doing?!" Throttle demanded.

"I'm just gonna take their tires out, now calm down!" She said reaching under her backpack, into an extra pocket that was against her back.

"You would have that thing with you!" Jordan sighed.

"Never leave home without it!" She said, smiling and pulling out something that looked very similar to the weapon in `Krull'. It was flat, and about the size of a frisbee, but instead of being a disk, it had five arms curving out from the center, like a misshapen star.

"What is that?!" Modo and Charley demanded as Throttle looked over his shoulder to see what they were talking about.

"It's my toy." She said, placing her fingers in between the blunt, curving arms of the star-shaped weapon.

"How is that thing gonn---" Vinnie cut himself off as sharp blades suddenly appeared at the rounded tips of the weapon like a cat unsheathing its claws.

"That's quite a `toy'." Throttle said, staring in amazement at the razor-sharp blades.

"Isn't it, though." Carter said, grimacing at it. "Well, let's see how rusty I am, shall we?"

She gripped the back of the bike to keep herself steady, reached back, and threw the weapon, sending it spinning out of her hand toward the approaching buggies. It went flying at two buggies at an angle, sweeping under both of them and tearing their wheels to shreds.

"That's two down, but---" Charley started, snapping out of her shock.

"Four." Carter said, interrupting.


Two more buggies abruptly spun out of control and crashed into a third as Carter's `toy' came sailing back toward them, slicing through tires along the way. Throttle saw it coming straight at them in his mirror, and instinctively turned, getting out of its way. He felt Carter fly off the back of his bike, and reached back to catch her, but he was too late. NO!! Damn it! Hearing Modo shout, he turned to see his friend in a similar situation, with Jordan heading quickly for the pavement. Please no! Not both of them!! Knowing there was nothing they could do, the three mice still slammed on their brakes and tried to turn around as fast as they could. The four of them watched from their bikes, furiously unable to help the two kids.

Charley screamed and covered her face as Carter's body intercepted the spinning, bladed weapon just before she hit the asphalt and started to roll helplessly from the momentum of the speed she had just been going on Throttle's bike. Jordan fared a little better, but not by much. He slammed harshly into the road, shoulder-first, rolled a few times, then started to skid painfully to a halt, leaving a dark streak on the road. To their mixed joy and horror, Jordan was still with it and tried to scramble to his feet even before he had come to a complete stop, blood running down his right side. His shoes weren't giving him any traction, so it took him some time to stop himself.

Modo watched, terrified, as the closest of the remaining buggies headed straight for Carter. She had finally stopped rolling and was now trying to pick herself up off the road, clutching her stomach. The goon would get there before he could. Apparently, Jordan had seen it, too, because as soon as he had his footing, he tore after his sister, grabbing her and diving out of the way of the buggy. Enraged, Modo fired his arm cannon at the thug that had almost run over the sweet little redhead and her brother. The buggy exploded, pieces flying everywhere, and for once, he didn't care whether the pieces scattered about were metal or not. He watched in satisfaction at the last two vehicles turn into fireballs as Throttle used the last of his rockets.

With the goons out of the way, the four of them jumped off the bikes and started searching through the smoke and wreckage for Carter and Jordan. They all had the same gruesome picture running through their minds as they searched; the memory of seeing that deadly weapon heading straight for Carter's chest as she was tossed off the bike. The smoke cleared and they looked at each other in paralyzed shock. The kids were gone!

The thought of finding the brother and sister lying on the road, twisted in death, was horrible enough, but not finding them at all was unbearable! A vaguely familiar object, lying on the ground near the twisted metal of a buggy, caught Modo's attention. He walked over and picked it up, tears streaming down his cheek as he recognized the burnt remains of one of Carter's shoes. The cold, sick feeling in the pit of his stomach intensified as he watched Throttle produce Jordan's helmet from underneath some debris, slowly tracing the long crack on the side of the gray plastic. Why?! WHY?! They were just kids!! A noise at the edge of the suspended road made them all turn sharply.

"Well, that was fun." Carter said sarcastically as she pulled herself over the railing at the edge of the expressway and sat on top of it, holding her helmet in one hand. She only had a few scrapes and bruises.

"Wasn't it, though?" Jordan said, pulling himself up next to her and tumbling gracelessly to the ground. "Man, this is gonna sting tomorrow!" He said, sitting up and looking at the long scrape running from the top of his right shoulder to his ankle.

"Clutz!" She said, ruffling his hair and smiling at the gapping adults. "It's rude to stare, you know." She slid down next to her brother, taking a close look at his skinless side.

"You're alive!!" The four shouted at the same time.

"In a manner of speaking." Jordan grumbled, wincing as he picked pieces of gravel out of his shoulder.

"Don't do that!" Carter scolded, slapping his hand and standing up. "I'll have to take a couple hours on you and get all that stuff out with some tweezers when we get home." She turned to the four adults. "You got a first aid kit in one of those bikes?"

The four of them moved at once, snapping out of their shock. Modo ran back to his bike and got his first aid kit; Throttle and Charley knelt next to Carter, taking a closer look at Jordan's wounds; while Vinnie leaned over the railing, whistling in appreciation at the height of the road.

"How did you both manage to stay in one piece?!" Modo asked as he handed Charley the first aid kit. He was desperately trying to erase the image of how that weapon of Carter's should be sticking out of her chest, and the memory of how he had let Jordan fall off his bike. He looked at the boy's bleeding side and resisted the urge to jump over the railing. "I'm sorry, Jordan. I didn't mean to let you fall off the bike like that. It's all my fault."

"What?" Jordan asked, looking at Modo, confused.

"We didn't fall off." Carter and Jordan said.

"We jumped." Carter said. "Well, at least I was supposed to jump. Knucklehead over here was supposed to stay on the bike!"

"And miss out on all the fun?!" Jordan said sarcastically, grimacing as Charley put alcohol on his shoulder.

"What?!" Charley, Throttle, and Modo shouted.

"You know, I'm really beginning to like you two!" Vinnie said, grinning. "OW!!" He yelled as Charley slammed the first aid kit into his shin.

Carter and Jordan gave Vinnie a strange look, then shrugged.

"It's not you guy's fault at all!" Carter said. "It's mine. I didn't warn you that my toy would come back like that. Please, don't make a big deal out of this, we're fine!"

"Speak for yourself!" Jordan said.

"You brought that upon yourself! I could've pulled out in time, but you had to be so blasted paranoid and jump with me!"

"It's been over a year since we had to pull a stunt like that, and I wasn't taking any chances!" Jordan said.

"You are such a hen!! Well, we certainly can't go to school like this!" Carter sighed, looking at her torn skirt, scraped knees, filthy socks, and scuffed shoe. "At least the jacket's fine." She said, dusting off the arms of the leather jacket and started looking around. "Now, where's my other shoe?"

"Let me get this straight," Throttle said. "You two jumped off the bikes on purpose?!"

"Uh-huh." Carter said, nodding and still searching the ground.

"WHY?!" Charley, Modo, and Throttle shouted.

"To get my toy. Now where in the---"

"Stop calling it a toy!" Modo said, forgetting that he was still holding her shoe. "It isn't a toy! That `thing' could've killed you!"

"And how it didn't is still beyond me!" Throttle said, giving Carter a very close look. "And while we're on the subject, where exactly did you acquire that...interesting weapon?"

Carter closed her eyes and shook her head sadly. "Why'd I do it, bro?" She asked softly, holding her head.

"Because you had to." Jordan said.

"Had to do what?" Charley asked, looking up from bandaging Jordan.

"Make a fool out of myself." Carter sighed and turned to Throttle. "It was given to me by a very good friend for my seventh birthday. I don't know where he got it from."

"You get the weirdest birthday presents!" Vinnie said.

"I prefer to call them `unique'."

"Well, one thing's for sure, you two aren't going to school, you're going to the hospital!" Charley said, finally putting the last bandage on Jordan.

"What?!" Jordan and Carter shouted.

"That's right." Throttle said. "Jordan needs that looked at, and I can not believe that you came out of that without a scratch!" He said, pointing at Carter.

"They're right." Modo said. "You two could be hurt real bad and not even know it!"

"Great!" Carter said, slapping her head. "That's all I need!"

"If the doctor says we're fine, will you take us to school?" Jordan asked pleadingly as he stood up.

"We will." Throttle said. "But only after the doctor looks at you two."

"Why are you two so eager to get to school, anyway?!" Vinnie asked, confused.

"If we don't go, they'll think we're cowards and we'll never hear the end of it!" Carter said angrily. "Or, at least, I won't! If that slimy piece of sewer trash says one word to me, I'll tear her heart out!!"

"You're not gonna think that once you see her." Jordan said too soft for Carter to hear, but Vinnie heard it.

"Why do you say that?" Vinnie asked, curious.

"Say what?" Carter asked, looking confused at Vinnie. She followed his gaze and looked closely at Jordan. "What did you just say?"

"He said you're not gonna think that once you see her." Vinnie said, oblivious of the look on Jordan's face.

"WHAT?!" Carter yelled.

Jordan covered his face with his hand.

"Vinnie!" Charley, Throttle, and Modo shouted angrily.

"What?!" Vinnie asked, bewildered. "What'd I say?!"

"Zyrch ondal mras tyck?!" Carter asked furiously.

Vinnie, Modo, Throttle, and Charley stared at her in open-mouthed shock, then gawked at Jordan as he replied in the same strange language.

"Uvteer nysta brora." Jordan said, avoiding her eyes.

"ZYRCH ONDAL MRAS TYCK!!??!!" She shouted, grabbing the lapels of his jacket and forcing him to look at her.

"Eer nust akon vaya." He said sadly.

"Nan!" She said softly, her eyes going wide in horror.

"Av alandi yon freya." He said pleadingly, as if he were trying to explain something. "Eer nakbhat veers tay alk ordyna jris!"

"Ick neepyst landi marn?" She asked, a mixture of fear and hope in her eyes.

"Nan." He said sadly.

Carter closed her eyes and leaned her head against her brother's shoulder. He embraced her gently.

"Cylvak ondas mor brysh tak araya." She whispered, the tone of her voice and her body language admitting defeat.

"Iya vyrn." Jordan said softly.

Carter sighed, looking up at the distant skyscrapers. She looked back at the three mice and the human woman, who were still staring. "Never a dull moment with us around, is there?" She asked, smiling sadly. "You know, you're gonna ruin your eyes if you keep staring like that."

"What was that?!" Vinnie asked.

"Just had to clear something up." Carter said, shrugging. "How long have you had my shoe?"

"Uh" Modo blinked and looked down at the charred shoe in his hand. "IumI"

"Never mind." She said, walking over and taking the shoe.

"It wasumalreadykind of"

"Demolished?" She asked, giving him that sad smile. "Don't worry about it. I have another pair at home."

Carter put on her helmet and walked to Throttle's bike, climbing on behind him as he sat down. Jordan put on his cracked helmet and sat behind Modo. The two kids' obvious reluctance for any further conversation was so apparent by the way they were acting, that even Vinnie remained silent. No one said a word in the ten minutes it took to get to the little hospital in the suburbs.

"Charley," Jordan said, getting off the bike and taking his helmet off. "Could you please come in with us, and everyone else stay out here?"

"Sure." Charley said as the others nodded, surprised at the anger glinting in Jordan's normally calm, dark eyes.

"Thanks." He said.

The three mice watched in silent confusion as the hospital doors closed behind the three familiar humans.

"Now what was that all about?" Throttle asked after the doors had closed completely.

"Beat's me!" Vinnie said. "But he sure was mad about something!"

"I wonder what?" Throttle asked thoughtfully, more to himself than to Vinnie.

"Who knows! Those two have more surprises up their sleeves than a magician!"

"You got that right. I've been completely blown away more times today than in my whole life combined!"

"They do keep ya on your toes, don't they? I wonder where she learned to use that thing of hers?"

"I'm not sure I want to know. She's got more experience behind throwing it than I care to think about."

"Still, I wonder if she could teach me how to use it."

"If she says `yes', let me know when and where. I want to be in another state when you start tossing that thing around!"

"Ha, ha. I'll bet I could learn how to use it faster than you could!" Vinnie said, rubbing the back of his neck impatiently. He never did like hospitals. "How long have they been in there?"

"Fifteen minutes." Modo said quietly, still watching the doors.

"I wonder how it---" Throttle cut himself off as the doors opened and Charley came furiously out, practically dragging a freshly changed Carter behind her. "Hey, Charley-girl, what's wrong?"

"Nothing!" She growled through clenched teeth as she put Carter's helmet on her and forcefully sat the redhead on the back of Modo's bike. "Stay!" She said to Carter, then turned to Modo. "If anyone comes out of that building for her, shoot them!!" She tapped his arm cannon pointedly, then turned on her heel and stalked back into the hospital.

"WOAH!!" Vinnie exclaimed, laughing. "What was that all about?!"

"You okay, Carter?" Throttle asked.

She just nodded, avoiding his eyes and staring apprehensively at the hospital doors.

"What happened?!" Vinnie asked. "That lady was m-a-d, mad!"

"She met Dr. Hensen." She said softly, still not looking at them.


"Carter Dubay!"

Carter reacted instantly to the male voice and tried to jump off Modo's bike, but he snaked his tail around her waist and kept her behind him. Not being able to go anywhere, she grabbed on to the back of Modo's chest protector and looked up at the bald man in a white lab coat standing in the doorway of the hospital.

"What are you doing out here?!" Dr. Roger Henson asked, giving the three bikers a very strange look.

"There's nothing wrong with me."

"You don't know that! You could have serious internal damage, now please come here."


"Don't be imposs---" He cut himself off, stopping his approach to Carter and staring fearfully at Modo's raised arm cannon with wide, brown eyes.

"You heard the lady." Modo said lowly, his eye glowing. "She said she doesn't need a doctor."

"H-how can you be sure of that?" Dr. Hensen asked shakily as he took a cautious step back.

"Are you okay, darlin'?" Throttle asked, standing up and putting his hand on Carter's shoulder, and he suddenly found out why there had been so much fury in Modo's voice. She's trembling!

"You're not a doctor, you can't---"

"I'm fine." Carter said, ignoring the doctor and looking up at Throttle.

Throttle was so taken back by the look in her eyes that he just stood there, unable to answer. The pain, fear, rage, and sadness in her green-blue eyes made him want to just hold her and tell her that everything was going to be all right. She looked back at the bald man as he started to speak again, laying her head against Modo's back, and Throttle could see how white her knuckles had gone from holding onto his friend's chest protector so tightly.

"You can't---"

"She said she was fine, doc." Vinnie said, getting unaccountably annoyed with the man and cutting him off. "Now, why don't you go back in there and help someone who needs it?"

"Before you need it." Modo growled, still aiming his arm cannon at the doctor.

"I have an obligation, by law, to---"

"Your obligation stops at that door." Throttle interrupted, snapping out of his shock and into anger. "As long as she's alert and coherent, she has the right to refuse help, by law."

"Not if she's a minor!"

"Her Mama put her into our care." Modo said.

"And that makes us her temporary legal guardians." Throttle said.

"And we say she stays out here!" Vinnie said, folding his arms across his chest in finality.

"Fine," Dr. Hensen said angrily. "When she dies tonight from internal hemorrhaging, let it be on your heads!"

"We'll risk it." Throttle said, folding his arms as well.

The doctor just glared at the three bikers and snorted, walking back to the doors of the hospital. He reached out to open the tinted, glass door, but just before he grabbed the handle, it flew open and smacked him in the face with a loud `thud' and a very distinct `crunch'.

"SHIT!!" He shouted, holding his broken, bleeding nose and looking furiously at the person walking out the door.

"Gotta watch those doors, eh doc?" Charley said, somehow managing to give him a deadly look and smile sweetly at the same time.

She had kicked the door open, her hands being full trying to support Jordan, who could barely hold his own head up, much less himself. Throttle and Vinnie ran over to help Charley as the doctor retreated into the hospital to tend to his own wounds.

"What happened?!" The three mice demanded.

"They pumped him up with enough sedatives to kill a horse!!" Charley said, enraged as she helped sit Jordan on Throttle's bike.

"WHAT?!" The three shouted.

"Why?!" Throttle asked, looking horrified at the groggy human boy sitting on his bike with his head in his hand.

"Standard procedure for a potentially unstable patient with a background of violent behavior." Carter said angrily.

"What?!" The four adults asked, confused.

"My little bro doesn't like the doctors here." Carter said, reaching out and touching Jordan's cheek reassuringly. He looked up and smiled wearily. "Especially Dr. Hensen. Jordan's cracked two of the good doctor's ribs, fractured his right arm, and broken his nose three times. Now, every time we come here, they tranquilize him like an animal!!"

"Why do you keep that...'man' as a doctor?!" Charley asked angrily, putting Jordan's helmet carefully on him and climbing on Vinnie's bike.

"I've been wondering the same thing." Throttle said, sitting down on his bike and wrapping his tail securely around the half-conscious boy's waist as he felt Jordan lean helplessly against his back. How could anyone do this to a kid?!

"We see him for the same reason we go to the Academy. We don't have a choice. Mom's company works with high society, and they don't want any of their clients thinking they employ `average' people. So, they make us go to the sorriest excuse for a school I've ever seen, force us to see the company `doctor', and they lend Mom that Jaguar to drive instead of our own car!"

"Why didn't she just get another job?" Vinnie asked as they drove away from the building.

"No one else would've hired her. The only reason she got this job was because a lady she used to work with called in a favor to the company personnel manager."

"That was nice of her." Modo said.

"Yeah, Nanna was a really nice lady." She said and laughed sadly. "She told the personnel manager that she would haunt him till the end of time if he didn't give Mom the job. Mom was working in the office in two days. Nanna died three weeks after that."

"I'm sorry." Modo said sadly.

"It's okay. She was suffering a lot from terminal cancer and it was starting to get really bad, spreading into her nervous system. She had always told us that she was gonna go out of this world completely aware of her surroundings, and with the cancer in her nervous system, she was starting to lose it mentally. So, one night she took a few too many sleeping pills and never woke up. It's kind of a sad story, but it always made me feel better knowing that she died the way she wanted to, and that it was painless."

"Is your house on the way to the school?" Throttle asked.

"No, why?"

"I wanna drop Jordan off at your house." He said, looking back at the boy with concern. "He's not gonna be awake much longer, if he still is."

"Oh, he'll spend the day in the school nurse's office. They have cots for emergencies like this. If you take him to our apartment, the landlord'll just find out and call the hospital."

"Enough said." Throttle said as they drove up to the entrance of the school.

"Is there going to be anyone here this early?" Charley asked as she looked past the big brick wall, into the empty courtyard of the Academy. "You've got 45 minutes still."

"Yeah." Carter said, climbing off Modo's bike. "The nurse is usually here an hour early, so she should be here by now." She took her helmet off, and then took off Jordan's, who was still leaning listlessly against Throttle's back. "Jordan? You still here?" He opened his eyes blearily, trying to focus them. "They gave you a little extra this time, didn't they?" She asked, kissing the top of his head and hugging him gently.

"We'll give you a hand with him." Modo said, standing up.

"You can't." Carter said, shaking her head. "You're unauthorized visitors, and security'll throw you out as soon as they see you."

"Sounds more like a prison than a school!" Vinnie said, tapping the hinges of the iron gates that closed off the schoolyard at night.

"It is. I can get him, don't worry. It's not the first time I've had to drag his big butt around." She looked around at each of them, fervently wishing the day had gone just a little less chaotic. "If I'm not mistaken, this is the part where I thank you for the ride to school, right?"

The four of them all reacted in the same manner; fidgeting guiltily and telling her she really didn't need to thank them. Carter laughed and shook her head. I'm really gonna miss them!

"I have to admit, it was one of the most...eventful ride's to school I've ever had, so I'm gonna thank you anyways. It was really nice meeting you all, and maybe we'll run into each other again sometime." She grinned at Throttle and hugged him. "Under better circumstances, I hope." She turned to Modo and hugged him, giving him a kiss on the cheek and making him blush. "You are just way too sweet for your own good!" She giggled and turned to Charley and hugged her.

"I'm holding you to that cooking lesson, young lady!" Charley said, smiling.

"Sure! Just be warned, it'll be two hours of virtual mayhem!" Carter said and turned to Vinnie.

"Saved the best for last, naturally." He said, leaning arrogantly against his bike.

"Not likely. I was contemplating whether or not to say good-bye to you! You obviously don't need the attention!" She grinned at his pouty expression and ran over and hugged him. "I suppose you deserve it after what I did to you this morning." She said with an evil smile and turned back to her brother.

Carter looped her arm around Jordan's waist, put his arm across her shoulders, and practically lifted him off Throttle's bike as she helped him to his feet. Laughing at everyone's wide-eyed looks, she started making her way down the sidewalk to the school building.

"Some day I'm gonna prove to all of you that I really am normal!" She called over her shoulder, still laughing.

She was half way to the steps when flashing blue lights caught her attention and she turned around. Figure's! The jerks! She watched angrily as the neighborhood police looked politely down their aristocratic noses and told Charley, Vinnie, Throttle, and Modo that they were not supposed to be there, and to please leave. As sad as she was to see them forced to leave like that, she couldn't help but snicker at the sight of the two fat, little police officers trying desperately to act so big and tough by ordering the very big and tough bikers out of their precious little neighborhood. The four new friends gave one last glance back to her and her brother and waved good-bye as they drove down the road.

Jordan managed to collect himself back into comprehension and he glared at the dark blue police blobs. He watched sadly as the three familiar, blurry bikes rode off down the street, back to Chicago.

"I wish they didn't have to go." He mumbled groggily.

"Me too." Carter said, turning back to the school and suddenly feeling the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She paused and looked around the empty courtyard.

"What is it?"

"I'm getting spooked about Molly, I guess." She said, shrugging and continuing down the walk.

The prickly feeling moved down her arms as she walked through the front doors of the school, and Carter could feel her heartbeat picking up a little. I'm just nervous, now calm down silly! She took a deep breath and tried to fight back the all too familiar feeling digging at the pit of her stomach and creeping down the back of her spine. When she found herself making a detailed blueprint of the hallway in her head, mentally highlighting all the escape routes and possible attack vantage points, she gave up trying to fight the feeling and let it wash over her, buzzing every sense in her body to a heightened pitch.


"Well, that topped my list for most unique mornings!" Throttle said as they drove away from the school.

"You said it!" Vinnie said. "Hey, Charley-girl, I've been meaning to ask you; what was the deal with that doctor?!"

"Yeah." Modo said. "You came out spittin' mad! What did he say?"

"That...'man' outright accused Carter of trying to kill Jordan by pushing him off the bike!!" Charley said furiously.

"WHAT?!" The three mice shouted.

"Then, before Jordan could even say anything in her defense, they restrained him and stuck him with all those sedatives! He wasn't even resisting, and they treated him like a crazed mental patient!! While they were hauling him off to a room so he wouldn't collapse on the floor, that `doctor' had the nerve to blame Carter for what they were doing to Jordan! You just don't know what it was like!" She shivered, remembering the heartless brown eyes and disturbing smile of the bald doctor.

Charley thought it best not to go into details about the encounter with the doctor. The three mice would only fly off the wall, go back to the hospital, and tear the place apart looking for Dr. Hensen. Not that the thought of the doctor's body being pummeled into a soft jelly wasn't a pleasant one. She shivered again and closed her eyes, trying to block out the memory of the way the awful man had let his fingers toy with the lapel of Carter's jacket as he kindly scolded her for trying to kill her little brother again. The cold, slimy feeling in the pit of her stomach threatened to overwhelm her, and she had to lift the visor of her helmet and let the fresh air wash over her face.

It didn't help. The way Dr. Hensen had caressed Carter's cheek, wiping away the tears the trembling redhead couldn't stop, made her want to scream all over again. Charley swallowed, fighting the gag reflex as she remembered the triumphant, possessive look in his cold brown eyes as he had gently stroked Carter's arm in an attempt to `comfort' her. Hot rage started to mercifully burn away the icy, sick feeling in Charley's stomach as she recalled the way he watched the girl leave to change into her extra clothes with that oily smile on his face. The notion that this sweet 16 year old girl would have to be left in a room alone with that horrible doctor had infuriated her! She had grabbed Carter, hauled her outside to Modo, knowing he wouldn't let the trembling girl get two feet away from him without several casualties, and then went back in search for Jordan.


"Huh?" Charley asked, jumping as the three mice shouted her name, interrupting her thoughts.

"Charley-girl," Vinnie said painfully. "I know I'm irresistible, but if you hold me any tighter, I won't be able to breathe!"

"Oh!" She said, loosening her death-grip around Vinnie's waist. "Sorry."

"Where did you float away to?" Throttle asked, a little concerned. It wasn't like Charley to just let one of Vinnie's comments go unanswered like that.

"Yeah." Modo said. "We've been trying to get your attention forever!"

"I was just thinking." She said, shaking her head and putting her visor back down. "I wonder how Jordan and Carter are doing?"

"They're in school!" Vinnie said scornfully. "How good can they be doing?!"

"I just hope they're okay." She said, looking over her shoulder and trying to shake the strange feeling creeping up her back.

"I'm sure they're fine." Throttle said. "I mean, what could happen to them in school?"


It had taken Jordan a little longer to pick up on the electricity in the air, but when he did, the bottom dropped out of his stomach. Oh, no! Please, not when I'm like this!! He looked around, trying to bring his foggy world back into focus. Moving his head only made it worse, and the lockers they were passing started to swim and twist into bizarre, formless shapes. He closed his eyes, blocking out the ringing in his ears and desperately concentrating on stopping the rocking of the ground beneath him.

Jordan opened his eyes as they entered the nurse's office. There was no blurry, white figure to greet them with a healthy scolding. She should be here! Her office is open, where is she? The grayish, table-like thing Carter laid him down on was softer than it looked, and he could feel his body melting into it. No!! Furiously, he fought the magnetic pull of the comfortable cot and tried to sit up. He failed miserably.

"Jordan, cut it out!" Carter's voice berated softly, sounding distant.

He looked up at his sister as she held him down and put a blanket over him. Something's wrong, sis! There's someone here!! Carter's face was out of focus, but he could see the green sparkling in her deep blue eyes clearly. He tried to grab her arm as she turned to stand up, but his fingers wouldn't close around her wrist and she slipped out of his grasp. NO!! Carter, please! You have to run, you have to get out!! The cot he was laying on abruptly spun out of control and he closed his eyes, trying to stop it.

"Just calm down, bro." Her voice seemed to echo through his head as he felt her hands on either side of his face, and her cheek resting on his forehead. "I'll be right back."


In a broken-down neighborhood, a dark green car screeched to a halt in front of a little garage. A tall woman leapt out of the drivers side and sprinted to the small building, giving the barest glance to the sign reading: `Last Chance Garage' above the doors. She took a bobby pin from her short, auburn hair, quickly picking the lock on the front door, and ran inside. After a brief, frantic search, she found what she was looking for, and snatched up the radio receiver, turned it on, and prayed it was on the right channel.


"Well, there has to be---"

"CHARLEY!!" A woman's voice screamed from Throttle's radio, cutting him off. "SOMEBODY, ANYBODY!! PLEASE, COME IN!!!"

"That's Kaitlyn!" Charley said, surprised.

"We're here Kaitlyn!" Throttle said. "This is Throttle, what's wrong?"

"Throttle, where are the kids?!" Kaitlyn's voice shouted in panic. "Where're Carter and Jordan?!"

"We dropped them off a---"

"GO BACK!!!" Kaitlyn screamed, interrupting Throttle again. "You have to go back and get them out of there!!!"


Jordan tried to reach up and hold on to his slender sister, but it was like his arms were made of lead. Please, no!! Don't go out there, sis!! He felt her kiss his forehead and stand up.

"I'll be all right, little brother." Carter's distant voice said softly as he felt her adjust his blanket. "Don't worry. I'll be right back, I promise."

The hazy room spun in slow, erratic circles as he opened his eyes and looked pleadingly into hers. PLEASE!!! Don't fight them, just run!! Please, sis, just run!!! Two pools of greenish-blue water, surrounded by a cloud of fire looked back at him sadly. The world tipped abruptly, and everything turned into a chaos of swirling, blobby colors. He closed his eyes, fighting back a scream of frustration. When he opened them, his sister was gone. NO!!! CARTER, DON'T!!!


"Kaitlyn, what happened?!" Modo asked into the radio as they sped back to the school. "What's wrong?!"

"Limburger and Brie merged with a third company!" Kaitlyn's voice said, sounding on the verge of tears. "She's the silent partner, and she made a deal with them yesterday! THAT BITCH IS TAKING MY BABY AWAY FROM ME FOR MONEY!!!!" Her hysterical voice dissolved into helpless, angry sobbing.

The only thing she was saying that made any kind of sense to the four of them was that someone was after Jordan and Carter, but that was enough.

"No she isn't!" Throttle growled softly.


Jordan knew that what he was doing was ridiculously futile, but he really didn't care. I'm not gonna lose her!! With an extremely difficult effort, he reached under the cot, grabbed the leg, and pulled. The cot rolled out from under him and the floor came up and hit him harshly with a loud `thud'. Not again! I won't lose her again!! He tried to push off of the spinning floor as it held on to him like a magnet, but it was so hard. A painful cry and a flash of blue light floated through the wavy, foggy doorway of the nurse's office. CARTER!!!!

With the strength of blind rage and gut-wrenching terror, Jordan dragged himself to the tilted doorway and into the hall. The floor reached up and grabbed at him, trying to pull him down, and the blurred lockers were twisting and swimming in endless circles up the wall, across the ceiling, down the opposite wall, over the floor, and back up the other wall again. The light from the open doors of the school nearly blinded him, stabbing painfully at the back of his eyes, but the scene in the hallway was more than clear to him.

He shut his eyes against the light, uncontrollable sobs ripping through his weak frame as he covered his head with his arms and brought his knees up to his chest. He lay there, curled up in a little ball, his mind screaming in denial of the image his mind couldn't erase. No!! A flight jacket, lying on the floor. Please, god, not again!! Next to it, a smeared, dark red stain. PLEASE!!! A strange man, lying in a crumpled heap on the other side of the hall. NOOO!!!! His soul shrieked in agony at the rest of the image. Carter was gone. I CAN'T LOSE MY SISTER AGAIN, PLEASE!!!!!

Because of the deafening ringing in his ears, Jordan felt the approaching footsteps more than heard them, but he ignored them. He didn't care who found him. Only the cold, bottomless void eating away at him mattered. He didn't resist as someone carefully pried his arms away from his head and straightened his legs a little so he wasn't curled up so tightly anymore. Light pierced through his tightly shut eyelids, and he pressed his aching head into the cold, hard floor, willing it to open up and swallow him into darkness. A warm, soft hand gently stroked his cheek, wiping away the tears and brushing his damp hair away from his face.

Half the floor suddenly dropped away from him, and he could feel his feet dangling in the air. His head was resting on something warm and soft, and he buried his face in it as the light around him intensified painfully and a cool breeze ruffled his hair. The person carrying him held him a little closer, and Jordan let his mind fold into the unexplainable sense of safety that washed over him. The welcome oblivion of sleep engulfed him quickly as his exhausted, beaten body relaxed into the impossible warmth of the arms holding him.

<* * * * *>

It's time to come away, darling pretty.
It's time to come away on a changing tide.
Time to come away, darling pretty.
I need you, darling, by my side.

Heal me with a smile, darling pretty.
Heal me with a smile and a heart of gold.
Carry me a while, darling pretty.
Heal my broken heart and soul.

Just like a cast away, lost upon an endless sea,
I saw you far away, come to rescue me.

Cast away the chains, darling pretty.
Cast away the chains, way behind.
Take away my pain, darling pretty.
Please wash away these tears of mine.

There will come a day, darling pretty.
There will come a day when our hearts can fly.
Love will find a way, darling pretty.
Find a heaven for you and I.

Love will find a way, darling pretty.
Find a heaven for you and I.

`Darling Pretty' Mark Knopfler

* * *

Continued in Chapter IV...