By Ylla Kori
© Ylla Designs, 1997
When the blinding light receded, Vinnie looked at Era.
"Comfortable, sweethart?" he asked in his normal, I-am-the-gift-to-women attitude.
"You are impertinent," Era snaped at him and pushed him away from herself so har he hit the black of tar wall on the other end on the room and sat down on the floor. He got up and made a few steps towards her. He didn't see what Era saw, to his sorrow. All he saw was a stripe of skin on her forehead turn black and then color bands, in various sizes, lengths and permutations ran across that stripe at a speed faster than that he saw before. Confused, he didn't realise she could be talking to someone but him, since to his knowledge there was no one behind him. And he didn't turn around. If he did, he would see the floor rize, much like it did earlier, when Modo noticed it. It gained a familiar form and regained colors.
A second later a knife, similar to that Era and Cyrri's sister both had, appeared right by his throat.
"Make another illegal move on her and I will not hesitate to cut your throat," said Cyrilla behind him in a cold tone.
"What is considered an "illegal move"?" he asked, thinking of a way to get out of the situation.
"Anything she doesn't like," his attacker hissed. It seemed his efforts to get free were not needed as Cyrilla let the knife down and pushed him forward about a yard away from herself.
"Hey, he didn't mean anything bad, okay?" said Throttle. "Better come here and have a look!" he looked out of the chasm-like blown-out hole in the wall.
Cyrri walked up to him, still holding her hollow knife. She looked out of the hole with him, but then suddenly turned to him and punched him on the stomach. Poor mouse bent over in half, while Cyrri twirled the knife in her fingers for a grip to better siut her perposes and let down a blow in the back to finish his barely-started life.
A liquid, transparrent hand, rising from the floor by Throttle, stopped her in mid-air. The knife fell out of her hand, but another wave of liquid was there to catch it. The whole entity rose from the floor and gained its colors to become looking exactly like the sudden attacker.
"Very funny," the second Cyrri said and the first one morphed into Shar. "I guess I'll have to keep your knife to make sure it doesn't happen again too soon," she said with a short sigh. The true Cyrilla let her sister go. "Go!"
"What?" the later asked confused.
"Go! Leave! I don't want to see you!" her voice was calm, but with a chilling note to it.
"Rite... uh-huh... on my way..." Shar backed up and jumped up a little, running, or maybe flying, up to the hole and jumping off to the chasm. Her body turned to water or a water-like liquid when it touched the rocks of the cliffs below.
Only now, after all the horrifying experience, Throttle was able to, once again, look out of the hole, ony this time, he could appretiate the whole view. >From what he could see, their prison cell was set right by a mile-down cliff, that met the ground, along with many other, smaller and sharper cliffs in a little green patch, with contrasted the bright Spanish-orange ground below. The sky was pitch-black, without stars and seemed to glow, illuminating everything around them.
"Yo, Throttle, move! You ain't made o' glass! I wanna see too!" Vinnie whined and pushed him away lightly. Only now, Throttle found himself enjoying the vie so much, he was covering the entire view to everyone else. This time, even the "know-it-all-and-seen-it-all" M'Alice was curious. "Holy cheese!"
"Hm..." said Modo thoughtfully, but was interrupted by Cyrri who suddenly decided to scream.
"Wait! Get away from there!" she yelled. Everyone looked at her in surprise, but Era and M'Alice stepped away immediatelly, though still confused.
"What's wrong Charley?" asked Modo.
"You're gonna get plasma poisoning..." she sighed, as if not knowing what to do. She looked around with a lost look in her eyes, but they regained control over herself and senther hand into the pouch she had on her belt. It seemed she could get anything out of that pouch. Even something bigger than itself, maybe. This time she pulled out something that looked like little greyish-blue cube about an inch in every dimention. She gave it to M'Alice, who immediately took it and placed it on the other side of his hand. Ballancing it there, he watched the bottom of the cube glow for a moment and Era took it. She did the same thing, then handing it to Throttle, who was standing next to her. He attempted to mimic her moves but for some reason the cube decided to fall of his hand and Era caught it. That scene immediatelly cause Vinnie to snicker. She placed it corectly, the cube glowed and she gave it to Vinnie, with an odd smile that said "Now, let's see you try it!". Vinnie had the cube fall four times before Era sighed and agreed to help him. When it was Modo's turn, he, for one reason or another, didn't let the cube fall and performed the whole operation himself, which made his bros feel a bit uneasy.
"Okay, now that the poodles performed the slippery square trick, why did they do it?" asked Vinnie.
"Is it a plasma poisoning antidote?" asked Modo.
"Yes," replied M'Alice.
"Aren't antidotes suppos'd to be liquid?" asked Vinnie.
"Only if they need to be," simply stated Era and peered out of the hole again. Unlike everyone else, she didn't look down, she looked up, and she saw what others did not. "Hm, the sky ends with the mountain range..." she said, as if thinking. "You think we could be alone here?" she turned to Cyrri in a sudden realization.
"Hm, it does?" Cyrri asked, disregarding her last question and looking out and up. "Hm, you are right..." she said. "I wonder what is up there... do you, Era?" she asked.
"Um, well, yeah..." Era caught her glance. "Oh, no... no-no-no-no-no... I am not going up there!"
"Ow, why not? Don't you remember how much fun it was climbing the craters of Atidi 5?" Cyrri smiled.
"Yes, that was fun, but it was also warm!" she shuddered. "You go there, if you want to know so badly," she said and walked towards the farthest end of the room, in attepmt to warm up from the sudden shilly and quite strong breeze that started outside.
"Oh, Era, come on! Please? You know my time for taking crazy chances and climbing up vertical walls is long past!"
"Oh, yeah, it only was two years ago..." Era sighed. "It's too cold," she stated.
"But, if you won't do it, who will?"
"Get that irritating sister of yours to do it..." Era said simply and smiled the most innocent smile.
"Oh, yeah, sure... I can't even get you to do it and you expect me to make Shar go along? Never in her pathetic little life would she agree!" Cyrri noticed she was talking with her hands too much. She smiled sheepishly.
"Okay, fine...." Era said. "I'll go up there... but I want at least a hot mug o' coffee when I come back!"
"Deal... I'll give you a blanket too," said Cyrri, smiling.
"You better not be lying..." said Era, climbing out of the hole.
"I never lie," she watched Era disappear behind piles of rocks.
"Okay, please! Tell us! What in the name of Saturn is going on here?" she heard a martian voice.
"What is going on here? Okay, You wanted to know, and I'll tell you. I am a creature they are afraid of. You are with me. They take you and me and stick us into a prison cell specially designed for me. We blow power out of the entire isle while being in some sort of habitat, adjacent to my cell and evidently populated, otherwise the conditions here would be vacuum and 0 Kalvin. Now, we have to get out of here and hopefully Era has found a way to..."
"What if she didn't?" interrupted Vinnie.
"Well, then we'll have to stay here... till we die," Cyrri said the last words with a bit of sadness.
"Wait a sec... I thought you were an all-that single-fighting gal that can get anywhere and get out of anything!" said Throttle.
"Right, I can get in and out as I wish, but you can't..."
"My point exactly! Why can't you melt, do under the door, turn to yourself and open it for us?"
"Oh, you know, that "turning into clear liquid" thing you do..."
"Oh, you mean dematerialize! Why can't I do it? Because there are sensors in this room that were triggerred when I entered. The moment I leave this place, the DNA detectors will know and fill this room," she said and walked off to the door.
"Fill it with what?" asked Throttle, but no one answered him.
Everyone felt rumbling deep inside the structure around them. It stopped as suddenly as started and the door slit into eight equal pieces like a pizza, each sliding off in it's own direction, clearing the walkway. When the door totally opened, everyone could see that it's thickness was two feet at least.
"What are you all? Asleep?" Era's head poked through the door and her laughing voice lighted everyone's thoughts.
"Okay, everyone, out!" Cyrri said and M'Alice didn't wait for a second invitation. Vinnie and Modo followed him. Throttle looked back at Cyrri, then went through.
She ran out as fast as she could, which seemed more like flying out, because her feeet barely touched the ground. The second she was out, everyone heard a loud "Pop" sound and a block, white as the room's walls, and about 5 inches in each dimention appeared in the corner. After it, in a second another one appeared right next to it and they melded into one. Second by second, the mice watched the room being filled with white cubes, filling out and making sure the hole in the wall was gone first.
Pop by pop, the cubes stopped right in front of the door. The three mice were still watching them. Throttle and Modo felt someone tap them at the same time and turned to each other. There was no one between them or around anywhere close enough. Throttle wanted to look back at their very possible doom if Cyrri left the room, but he felt another tap. This time, it was Modo. The later gestured his bro to look and Throttle turned.
"So, you are SURE that Mais is here?" Cyrri asked.
"Totally, look," Era pointed at the lines of colors that were on the screen.
"Hm... then we have to find Mais. Come on, let's go!" she turned to the others and gestured them to follow her through another door, which opened when she got closer to it. She turned and watched the mice's hesitation.
"What?" she asked.
"Why is Mace here?" asked Modo with a steel expression.
"He... works here..." said Era, confused.
"And what kind of a relationship do you have with him?" asked Vinnie, realizing that he said something stupid.
"He works for us," said M'Alice, taking what Vinnie said the way he meant it.
"HE DOES WHAT???!!!" screamed all three mice simoultaneously.
"Mais works for us.... oh, no, no, no, no, no!" Cyrri smiled. "Not Mace, the rat, Mais, the eloi."
"Mace, tha who?"
"Eloi... they look like green elves," said Era.
"Green?" asked Modo, thinking of Plutark.
"Elves?" asked Throttle.
"No... Green Elves. It's a kind of a creature," said Era.
"Oh," said Vinnie, even though he didn't believe a word, nor did he understand.
"So, shall we?" said Cyrilla, gesturing others to step through the door into a long corridor. They walked through and the door closed.
They walked and walked and walked. A dark, long corridor was replaced by something that looked like a cross of a bank and a library. The central aisle was about three feet wide. Every three feet or so, two more aisles, came out of it, one to the left and one to the right, forming that library-like look. Inside every isle, except for the main one, along every inch, was a rectangle drawn in a darked shade. Some were bigger, some were smaller, some were longer than others, but all were neatly alligned and that part created the look of a bank's underground safe facility.
M'Alice stopped and for the first time his forehead create a pitch-black stripe along which the colors ran. Cyrri looked back and him and nodded.
"What's going on?" Asked Vinnie.
"Nothing," said Cyrri, not even honoring him with a glance.
"So, why have we stopped?"
"Patience is a virtue," Cyrri said again, not looking at him. Vinnie didn't get it. Colors ran across Cyrilla's head too, exchaning opinions, views and thoughts with M'Alice and Era. Finally, one color permutation froze on M'Alice's forehead and Cyrri moved around the "library" looking for something.
She seemed to have found it. A button, a square drawn on one of the clear walls of the main aisle it was. She pressed her thumb against it and the dim light of the huge safe-library went out. It turned back on in seconds, but bright this time. Also, color combinations seemed to have appeared on every drawn square and rectangle while the lights were out.
Era looked through the aisle next to her for color markings that would be similar to those on M'Alice's forehead. Modo, Throttle and Vinnie simoultaneously felt dizzy. Cyrri looked at her friend. She tilted her head looking at Era and walked up to her.
Era pointed at a rectangle with a color coding exactly the same as that M'Alice informed them of.
The bros felt dizzy again, but not as much. Cyrri watched the drawn rectagle become a slit and then the block moved out all the way, raising to the height of about that of Cyrri's waist and stopped.
She looked at M'Alice again. Another string of colors ran across the man's forehead and froze. The dizzyness became overwhelming and stopped as abruptly as it began. the top panel of the block slid off and revealed a key-pad-like thing with the primary, secondary and intermediate colors on the round buttons. Following the combination on M'Alice's forehead, Cyrri pressed buttons one by one. A slight whirl and the top panel closed. The side panel, that which was the one with the color coding opened like the top of a cerial-box. Cyrri reached into it and pulled out a small box with rounded edges.
She handed it to Throttle, who was standing next to her. The past dizzyness robbed him of all thoughts, so he accepted the box and continued on staning there.
Cyrri pulled out another object, a one that looked more like a giant pill, about an inch in diameter. She handed it to Throttle also, who took it, and after checking whether everything was out of the "safe", she flipped the lid, closing it. She pushed it back into its slot and reached her hand for the former contents of the "safe".
Following instincts and not thinking, Throttle pulled away, protecting the "pill" and the "box". Cyrilla didn't hezitate to knock him off his feet. She ripped the "pill" and the "box" out of his hands as he made his way to the floor.
"Why did you do that?" asked Vinnie enraged by the cruelty of the move.
"He kept me from taking what was mine," Cyrri stated simply.
"So? That's no good reason to attack him!" said Modo.
"Actually," Cyrri put her hand on his throat, choking him and raising him so his feet no longer touched the ground. "It's a perfectly good reason." She looked at him. "You don't understand where you are and what position you are in, do you? I am probably the most wanted criminal in this system. You are with me. You shall die if they see it fit. The only one protecting you against them at the moment is me. You are in my power. You disobbey and you get hurt. This is a war. Any move that may prolong my being here can be considered as an offence. And offence is not forgivven," she said in such a calm and steady voice it seemed she was just moving her lips and a computer voice was talking instead. She let him down gently allowing him to reach the ground before letting go. The bros gulped at the power of girl they thought they knew.
Not even looking at them, Cyrri stuffed the pill and the box into a compartment on her belt and walked to the main aisle. Modo helped Throttle up and they followed the example of Era and M'Alice by following Cyrilla down the hallway.
They walked and walked and walked. This is one huge place, thought Vinnie. Unless of course, we are going in circles, he thought. The huge safe-library was rplaced by a yet another long hallway, which then turned into a hallway with doors. The door were replaced by an array of smaller hallways, leading somewhere, intersecting, passing, like a labyrinth. Suddenly, Cyrri stopped and everyone did the same. She turned around and looked at them. She disregarded M'Alice, but looked at Era, then looked at the mice. She tilted her head as her eyes met those of Vinnie. He was the closest. She walked to him and put her hand on his bare shoulder. She sighed and turned back, walking past Era and taking the lead again.
"Um, what just happened?" asked Vinnie confused. Cyrri stopped again and turned to him.
"You are tired," she said. "We have to stop for some time."
Only now the mice realized they didn't have a bit of sleep since they left Earth. Immediatelly following that realization, they became tired and sleepy. Cyrilla looked into one of the outgoing hallways and walked into it. Everyone followed.
From the moment she walked in, the floor after the last person became a shade or two darker. Their path was prominantly engraved into the floor behind them.
Cyrri walked through hallways, turning, chosing and walking again until she followed one hallway which became a deadend.
"We shall stay here for a while," she said. Mice exchanged loks but said nothing.
In a sudden white flash a group or six appeared. Three mice, two human-looking females and a humanoid male looked around the catastrophe-stricken ground.
"What is this dump?" asked the white mouse. "Cyr, I thought you said you're bringing us back to Chicago..."
"I did..." one of the human females looked at her watch.
"Oh yeah... that thing will tell you the time... sure..." said the white mouse.
"Actually..." Cyrri answered and raised her hand so that the sun reflected off the glassy surface of the face of the watch. She looked at it then. "It is going to tell me the time."
"Oh, yeah.... so what time is it?"
"Almost two," she looked at her watch again.
"So, why does this place look like a hurricane just went through it?" asked the orange mouse.
"We are late..." Cyrri answered.
"No," said a female voice. "You are early."
"Who tha..." everyone looked up in the direction of the voice and saw a female mouse. She was of a dark grayish-brown color with black hair with locks of white showing through. Next to her stood a pretty, yet Plutarkian female and there were two more mice behind them. Two more appeared from the rear and a pair more came up to btoh flanks.
"Who are you?" Cyrri asked in a majestic voice.
"You sound like you own this place," said the mouse and walked up to Throttle. "Hm... you look the same as on a picture..." she said thoughtfully. "Ah, no matter," she swung her leg and almost kicked Throttle in the head, but Era, who was standing close by blocked the strike. The mouse wanted to kick Era, but the later dodged the attack like it was in slow motion for her and never lost her poise.
The mouse sent some subtle signal to the plutarkian female who was standing next to her and she kicked Vinnie, powerful enough to throw him on the ground but not enough to knock him out. Cyrri simply walked up to the plutarkian from behind and kicked her, sending her to the ground.
"Don't mess with my turf or I'll mess with yours," she said in a toxic voice.
"Your turf?" asked Throttle.
"Yes, my turf," she confirmed.
"That you belong to me. All three of you."
"My fist..." she took out a folded piece of paper and unfolded it and showed it to him, putting it so close to his face it was almost touching his nose. "... and Carbine's signature." She stated.
"What?" Throttle couldn't quite understand.
"Carbine sold you. End of story."
"Wha? How? For what?"
"Oh you think I remember? A whole buncha junk I didn't need..." Cyrri sighed. Modo looked at Throttle, who seemed to have been hit by a rock twice his size.
"She wouldn't have done it unless it gave her a tactical advantage," he said.
"Does winning a war considered a tactical advantage?" asked Cyrri. Everyone looked at her. She nodded and smiled.
"So, and who are you?" asked Vinnie, missing the whole conversation.
"Oh, did I forget to introduce myself?" said the leading mouse. "My name is Carbonear," she grinned. She looked at Throttle. "And you, my pathetic little friend, were my grandmother's boyfriend," she smiled.
"Grandmother? Boyfriend?" Throttle felt like a fish out of water.
"That's right! And according to our database, you were also a traitor. Therefore, we have to take you in and kill you," she said simply.
"Oh? So, who's the fishface?" Vinnie pointed at the plutarkian female.
"Oh, that's my friend, Acua," said Carbonear. "Be nice to her."
"And if I won't be nice to her?" asked Vinnie in a smart-assy voice.
"Well then... Acua, waste him," she said simply. The Plutarkian took out a gun, which looked far more advanced than the one Vinnie took out. Two shots sounded in the air. One sounded like a bee flying, almost inaudible, the other, after it, deafening. Throttle watched his white mouse friend drop on the ground with a thud, while Acua just watched and smiled. Vinnie's gun was lying on the floor next to him...
Throttle opened his eyes. It didn't take long to get used to the linghting as it was quite dim. He felt something heavy on his chest and, making as little movement as possible, he looked. He saw a head with long jetblack hair. Carbine, was his first thought. He looked around, remembering where he was. He saw Vinnie, sleeping on the floor a few feet away, and Modo, who was sleeping, sitting on the floor, with his back against the wall. M'Alice was standing nearby, with his eyes closed, sleeping also. A column of something clear reached from the floor to the ceiling in the center of the room. A steel rod could be seen through that glass, in the dead center of the column, evidently keeping it standing. A hallway lead out of the room. Cyrri was nowhere to be seen.
"Era," he sighed, realizing she is the only on left. The moment the sound escaped his mouth, the head moved. Era turned to him and he could see her sleepy face. The sleepyness disappeared from that face and she quickly pushed away from the floor, standing up, and silently moving to the wall, pressing her back against it, unable to move any farther away. A half scared, half ready to defend herself expression decorated her face. Her hair was in disarray. Throttle smiled at her the most convincing smile he could. She smiled back for a second, but something made her turn to the glass column in the center of the room.
Throttle turned too and he saw the column melt, lowering down. He watched it become Cyrri. Not the first time did she transform out of the clear, glassy state, but every time it fascinated him.
"Hi," Cyrri said after she realized that Throttle has been staring at her for too long.
"Oh, hi..." he said, as he finished landing from the clouds.
"Okay," Cyrri said and clapped her hands. "Good morning everyone!" She yelled. M'Alice opened his eyes, but didn't move. Modo got up, rubbing his neck, which became stiff from sitting for too long. Vinnie just turned away and continued on sleeping. Cyrri smiled and gestured Era to wake him up.
Era walked to Vinnie and shook him.
"Wake up, sleepy," she said.
"Oh, come on! Lemme sleep a few more minutes..." Vinnie said and turned away from her. Cyrri sighed and walked up to him.
"Wake up!" she yelled into his ear. He opened his eyes and looked at her definatelly disagreeing with her.
"Oh, you couldn't yell louder, could you?" he grumbled.
"Get up, soldier, time to go," she said and walked to the opening that led to the hallway.
Suddenly Era screamed and fell onto her knees, grabbing her hair, her face changed by pain.
"Era?" Throttle looked at her.
"Era, what is going on?" asked Cyrri.
"It... star...ted...... again...." Era said through pain.
"Oh, bad. Oh, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad," said Cyrilla. She hit the wall near her with the side of her fist.
"Yes?" said a female voice out of nowhere. The mice looked around in search for the person to whom that voice belonged.
"Computer, isolate Era by a force field," Cyrri said in a commanding voice.
"I am sorry, but your access to the central computer database has been restricted," said the voice.
"Restricted? By whom?"
"By creature number one-red-seven-blue-beta."
"1-red-7-blue-beta?" Cyrri asked herself trying to figure out who that was. "Why would she do this? I didn't do anything to her... at least nothing that would cause her to do this..."
"Who are you thinking of?" asked M'Alice.
"My sister..." said Cyrri, still thinking of possible reasons.
"But your sister is 1-red-8-blue-beta," said M'Alice making the emphasis on the eight.
"Oh? Hm... I think you are right..." Cyrri looked at him. "Computer, identify creature 1-red-7-blue-beta."
"Creature 1-red-7-blue-beta is citizen Maise Gorge."
"Maise? Why would Maise do something like that?" she hit the wall again. "Computer, establish a direct connection to Maise Gorge."
"Connection established," said the voice and a line appeared on the wall about a foot in length. It widened until it became a square. Throttle's face appeared in the blackness beyond.
"Very funny, Maise," said Cyrri. Throttle's face quickly changed in that of a blond female human with two ponytails of very long hair.
"Yes, thank you... still not good enough, but better."
"So, what did you call me for?" said the blonde in the square opening in a bit irritated voice.
"Why did you restrict my computer access?" said Cyrri no longer in a friendly voice.
"What are you talking about? I don't have that high an access to shut someone else out and you know that," said the blonde.
"I was just informed that my access has been blocked out by you," said Cyrri, not knowing whether to believe her or not.
"Hm..." the face looked at the mice behind Cyrri. "Why did you try to access the computer with them around?"
"Because I had to, since Era it having... problems again," Cyrri said.
"Ow, well... I'm sorry to hear that and I didn't do anything to your access, and I have to go now, bye!" said the blonde and her face disappeared. The pannels moved back to cover the "screen".
"That's Maise?" asked Throttle.
"Um, so is she... um, he... what is Maise, by the way?" asked Vinnie.
"We don't know... no one does I think," Cyrri smiled.
"So what do you refer to her as?" asked Modo.
"Depends, usually, it, but sometimes a she or a he, depending on the situation," she answered and looked past him at Era, who screamed again.
Era looked into nowhere. Her eyes looked mad and her pain now seemed to be too much to notice. She raised her hand slowly and pointed her finger at M'Alice, who was right in front of her. Her screaming was silenced, as Cyrri grabbed Vinnie's gun and shot her.
To be continued....