Disclaimer: I do not own the Biker Mice From Mars. This story is for your reading pleasure. I do not make a profit from this. I'm writing this for the enjoyment of other fans. Karn and her background are mine and come from an unrelated and unfinished novel.
Throttle, Vinnie and Modo's bikes roared to a stop in the main hallway on Karbunkle's floor The sound of their engines rumbled loudly in the empty halls of the third floor, drowning out even the sound of their music.. Throttle's intuition rang a warning bell of caution causing him to hesitate. It felt like a trap. Something wasn't right here.
"Hey, what is this? Vinnie griped, "A ghost town?" The third floor was deserted, and quiet. "I was just getting warmed up!"
"Yeah, We were ready for anything."
"What's wrong with this picture?" Throttle said to no one in particular. His eyes scanned the empty hallway, with more than a little interest. Silent too, except for their bikes and their radios, still blaring heavy metal music.
"No more goons." Vinnie said " No . anyone."
"Down right peculiar." Modo said, looking around. "If you ask me."
"Shut off the tunes, bros." Throttle said, "Engines too." Concern creeping into his voice. They did it instantly without question.
Nothing. Absolute, utter stillness. It was spooky.
"Keep your eyes open, bros." Throttle said quietly. "Something is not right here."
They were sitting in the main hallway of the third floor in total silence. Not a goon, or anyone else in sight. Outright bizarre, considering the heavy firefight in most of the tower. The muffled sound of random gunfire on other floors rang out as the goons continued to shoot at shadows and each other. They had checked the tower, floor by floor, after leaving the ruined office of the big stinkfish. They were relieved at the relatively fresher air in the rest of the building; Limburgers stench was especially rank today, much worse than usual, even for him.
A goon theyd questioned on the tenth floor had clued them into the orders to stay away from the third floor. That is, after Modo asked him kindly, in the usual Modo fashion. Vinnie didnt give the goons a chance to say anything. He was having too much fun to think about why theyd come here in the first place.
Throttle got off his bike and walked down the hall to try the door of Karbunkle's main lab. It was locked, but he could see the room was completely deserted through the clear plate glass of the doors.
He turned back; seeing Modo had gotten off his bike too. Throttle noticed Modo had left dirty footprints on the hall floor. Someone had mopped the hallway down recently, maybe not more than a few minutes ago. Something happened here, something Limburger didnt want them to see. Vinnie sat, leaning on his handlebars watching them, a sullen look gradually growing on his face. Vinnie hated to stop when he was all warmed up for a good fight.
"Hey, Throttle! Found something!"
Modo was hunkered down by a corner of the hallways adjoining walls. He stood up, holding a small white object in his hand. Vinnie looked at it, but he didnt show much interest. He was bored again, but he still looked about for anything out of place in the hallway.
"Let me see." Throttle walked over for a closer look. There in Modos huge hand, was a very small, white, hair barrette with a teddy bear on it. It looked like something a child would wear.
"Hey, bros!" Vinnie hollered. "Check out that air vent cover!" Vinnie jumped from his bike to check it out.
Throttle and Modo turned to look in the direction Vinnie had headed. The wall behind the vent cover had a chunk cut out of it. The vent cover was new; it still had remnants of its protective plastic clinging to it. Throttle turned and walked over to it for a closer look. It had been mounted with a nail gun, not screws. Vinnie got off his bike and joined Throttle and Modo.
"Looks like someone came through this air duct, bros." Throttle reached for the vent register.
He jerked the cover off easily. The gash in the wall was smooth and finely cut, as if a laser had been used on it. The edges of the gash were sharp, and caught on the inner edge of the gash, were a few long, light colored, greasy hairs of some kind. Throttle pulled them out and scrutinized them carefully. He rolled the five inch long hairs in his fingers, feeling the texture. Rough, heavy strands, starting light and blending down to brown at the tips. Not hair, some kind of fur.
"Whatcha got there, Throttle?" Modo stuck his hand in the vent and pulled out a few more.
"Its fur, but I dont recognize the type." Throttle said. First the hairpin, now this. He wondered.
"Me either." Modo pulled at one of them. "Theyre a little longer than any Ive seen."
"Let me see!" Vinnie grabbed the strands from Throttles hand.
"I can tell what it is! Youre just not looking close enough, Throttle!"
Vinnie poked at the "zoom" button on his helmet, and glared at the hair held up in his fingers as if it were offending him. Modo chuckled. Vinnie did like to play the detective. He really liked the Bogart style of private eye. Throttle looked back down the hall, wondering where Karbunkle was hiding. This was his floor. He wouldnt be far. Maybe the transporter room.
"Well, Vinnie?" Modo grinned widely.
"Its, its . got to be dog fur, I think. What you say, Throttle? Sand Raider maybe?" Vinnie looked around for Throttle. He was gone.
"Whered he go?" Vinnie said. HEY, BRO!" Modo was headed in the direction of Karbunkle's lab. Vinnie ran to catch up.
They heard a door being kicked in and Karbunkles screech of surprise before he answered them. Throttle had found the good doctor. Vinnie and Modo ran towards the sound.
"Down here, bros!" Throttle yelled back. Karbunkles voice was complaining and harsh, he definitely didnt want any company. Modo and Vinnie came around the corner and found Throttle pulling the doctor out of a dark room by his collar; kicking and shrieking like a child.
"Well, well!" Throttle laughed, "Looky what I found bros!"
Vinnie waved his arms in a (over here motion) Modo grinned widely. Karbunkle flinched at the sight of them, and tried to run, his feet skidding on the floor, not quite taking him anywhere. Throttle held him tight.
"Toss him over here, bro!" Modo yelled. Vinnie punched him in the arm.
"Hey, no! I saw him first!"
"LET ME GO!" Karbunkle screeched loudly.
He kicked at the big tan mouse and missed. Throttle grinned pleasantly, holding the doctor just out of kicking range. As Modo reached for him, Karbunkle muttering under his breath, reached for a device in his pocket. Throttle saw it, and snapped his tail in an arc at Karbunkle's hand.
CRACK! The doctor squealed in pain, the red welt from Throttles tail rising up like a bee sting. Modo grabbed the device from his pocket and crushed it. Karbunkle glared at him, his eyes unreadable behind the green goggles.
"Miserable, flea ridden RODENTS!"
Karbunkle cradled his hand, sneaking little peeks at it, checking the damage, continuing to give Throttle and Modo evil looks. Someone giggled in the dark room Throttle had pulled Karbunkle out of. Throttle jerked his head at the room. Vinnie nodded, and disappeared into the dark room.
"Why did you order the goons off this floor?" Throttle asked quietly.
Karbunkle wouldn't look at him, and continued to mutter under his breath. Throttle shook him slightly, to get his attention. Karbunkle answered immediately, his voice smooth, in his best "make Limburger happy" tone.
"Why, to prevent the destruction of my work in progress here, of course."
The doctor grinned, a sickening sight to most people, mice included.
"Got him." Vinnie said, carrying Freddy under his left arm like a rolled up carpet. He dropped a gibbering, happy Freddy in front of Throttle and the Doc.
"Oh GOODY!!!" He fixed all three eyes on Karbunkle and giggled. "Are we getting pounded now, Doc?" Freddy clapped his limbs with great liveliness.
"SHUT UP, you revolting little moron!" Karbunkle screeched at him.
Karbunkle kicked at the little mutant and got it to giggling again. Freddy looked up at him, delirious with good cheer.
"This is a waste of time, bros." Throttle said, dropping Karbunkle, and pushing him towards Modo.
Modo grabbed him up, and stared at the doctor, nose to nose.
"Better answer the mouse, Doc." Modo grinned at him. Karbunkle cringed, pulling at Modos steel fingers with both hands, trying to loosen his grip.
"What work in progress you talkin about, Doc?" Vinnie asked.
"Why, just the usual work, I assure you!" He said smoothly, and smiled at Vinnie.
Vinnie drew back, a sour look on his face, as if Karbunkle had tried to kiss him. That grin was disgusting! Throttle saw this and laughed. Vinnie gave him a dirty look.
"It takes so long to rebuild after one of your, shall I say, 'visits' I ordered Greasepit to keep his morons off of my floor."
Karbunkle continued to twist and pull at Modo's fingers. "I thought to limit the destruction by keeping this floor vacant." Karbunkle suddenly stopped struggling and clasped his hands together in a businesslike manner. He smiled again, this time at Throttle.
"What came out of that air vent?" Modo asked loudly, giving the doctor a shake for emphasis.
"Why, what ever do you mean, my dear boy?" Karbunkle said, giving Modo his most innocent look, prepared and practiced by years of working for Plutarkians. Modo tightened his grip. Karbunkle started to turn a little blue.
"Oh, DO ME! PLEASE, pleeeeeesse!" Freddy grabbed Modos leg, tugging at the fabric. "Not now, Freddy." Throttle pulled him off gently, and pushed him towards Vinnie.
"Hush, little guy, were kinda busy right now." Vinnie said, wrapping his tail around him and pulling the little mutant back towards the wall he was leaning on. All of them liked little Freddy, even if he was a little strange about liking pain.
"Awwwh, I never have any fun." He sat down heavily, a huge look of disappointment on his face.
Throttle and Vinnie moved closer. Karbunkle now had all three of them in his face, which was deepening into a royal shade of blue.
"Drop him, Modo" Throttle said quietly. He did. The doctor fell to the floor, and looked up at three irritated, furry faces.
"Look Doc," Throttle said, "We found the damaged air du ."
"It was Freddy!" Karbunkle blurted out suddenly. "The little fool got lost in the air ducts and we had to cut him out!"
He looked over at Freddy, who grinned, happy the doctor was noticing him. The doctor was soooo nice to him! He giggled again. Vinnie wrapped his tail around Freddy and pulled his up close to his face.
"Hey, little guy, were you playing around in the air ducts?" Vinnie asked. Freddy curled a tentacle around Vinnie's tail, and gibbered happily.
"Oh, Sure!" Freddy giggled
"Why didnt you just open the vent?" Vinnie said, "That was a sloppy cutting job on the wall. Looks like somebody was in a real hurry."
"They cut the cover off because they found him right when I ordered the floor vacant!" Karbunkle whined in that appalling voice of his.
"You know how destructive Greasepits goons are!"
Throttle didnt look convinced, but knew when hed hit a dead end. They werent going to get a straight story out of Karbunkle. The fur theyd found in the duct wasnt Freddys.
"Lets go, bros." Throttle turned away and left Karbunkle sitting there.
"Hey, I got dibs on the Doc!"
Vinnie released Freddy and grabbed up a squealing Karbunkle. He already had his fist drawn back for a good one. Modo touched the child's hairpin attached to his belt.
"Come on, Vin." Modo said, " Im getting kinda hungry."
Throttle looked at the hair barrette Modo had pinned to his belt for safe keeping. Vinnie noticed him looking at it and understood immediately. They were leaving the tower quietly tonight.
"Wait a sec, bros," Vinnie said grinning, "Got to kiss the Doc goodnight."
He tossed Karbunkle up, and punched him down the hallway like a batter hitting a fly ball. The doctor hit the far wall, denting the drywall, and slid quietly to the floor. Freddy jumped up at Vinnie, leaping and bouncing like a dog.
"Do ME! DO ME TOO!" Vinnie looked down at him and patted him on the head.
"Not tonight, Freddy. Maybe some other time, huh?"
He heard the engines of Throttle and Modos bikes revving up. He turned and went back down the hall to get his bike.
"You promise?" Freddy looked hopefully at him, but the white mouse had already disappeared around the corner of the hall. Awwhh. That white one looks like he hits really good, too. They never hit him like they did the Doc, he must be special or they like Doc better'n me.
Engines revving. There was a crashing of glass, and then the sound of bikes vanishing into the distance. Freddy looked back at the unconscious doctor and sighed.
They must like the Doc bettern me, he thought miserably; they always hit him a lot. Well, better find Lanan another teddybear pin, he thought, resigned to a few hours without the Doc. He waddled down the hallway and back into the darkened room. The big gray one took one of hers. Guess he musta liked it too.
Charlie had hotdogs waiting for them when they got back. When she heard the sound of their bikes drawing near, she got off the couch, and put the tray of dogs in the microwave. The tower was quiet again by the time the mice pulled into Charlie's garage. The warm yellow light of the garage bay was a welcome sight to the guys, until they saw Charlie's face. They had forgotten to pick her up, like she asked them to do.
After calling them about the fight at the tower, she knew they might be a little hungry. She prepared the food for the microwave, so it would be ready when they got back. The guys usually were after a good battle, and always came back to the Last Chance to drop her off, eat a victory snack and talk a rundown of the action. Who did what best, that sort of thing. Especially Vinnie. The bikers roared in and slid to a stop.
Throttle cut his engine about the same time as the others, the rumble of noise ended suddenly, to be filled with the heavy glare from Charlie's eyes, mostly centered on Vinnie, as usual.
"HONEY, I'm Hooommeeee!" Vinnie crowed loudly.
"Hi, Charlie! What's to eat?" Throttle and Modo hollered in unison as they shut off their bikes. Distracted by the smell of warm hotdogs, they hurried to beat Vinnie to the eats. He ate more than Modo and Throttle put together.
Modo got off his bike and went straight to the microwave. Throttle was already pulling root beers from the fridge, tossing one to the widely grinning Vinnie. Safely behind the fuming Charlie, they pulled down the folding table and began to set it up, hoping Charlie would leave them out of this one.
"I asked you to pick me up, Vinnie." Charlie steamed at him. Vinnie grinned at her as he opened his rootbeer, then downed it in a single gulp. He tossed the empty can at the trashcan, missing it by a few feet.
"Awwwhh, comeon, sweetheart" Vinnie said as he jumped off his bike and tried to head for the food his bros had set out on the table. Charlie stepped in front of him.
"You always do this to me!" Charlie said. "If you don't want to pick me up, just say so!" Vinnie gave her his sweetly innocent look, his best girl charmer. Modo and Throttle were gonna eat it all, if he didn't hurry up, he thought desperately.
"But, Charlie girl, I meant to, I really did, it's just that we didn't have time!" Vinnie slipped his arm around her and tried to lead her towards the food. She slapped his arm away. Vinnie looked hurt, but even then gave the food a quick glance to see how much was left. Modo and Throttle were stuffing themselves while he starved!
"I've heard that one before too."
"Sweetheart, I promise," Vinnie cooed, "next time I'll come for you and catch up with my bros, Ok?"
Charlie stared at him a moment longer. She noticed his longing stares at the food behind her. She really wasn't that mad or hurt, but she did mean to make sure he missed out on the food. Serves him right for forgetting her again. She heard a chair scrap back across the floor behind her. Done. The food must be gone now.
"Ok, Vinnie," Charlie smiled at him. "Just call or something if you can't come next time, please?" She got out of in front of him.
"Ok!, you bet, Charlie girl!" Vinnie rushed the table. Modo was sitting back his feet up on the table edge, while Throttle sat on the edge of the counter, grinning at him. Vinnie's grin fell off his face. The food was gone. One lone root beer left. At least they left him that much.
"HEY!" Vinnie grabbed up the root beer quickly and popped it open with a sssssh sound. "You didn't leave me anything, bros!" Modo looked back at him with a satisfied 'I'm full' look on his face. Charlie went over to the counter and sat down beside Throttle, a smirk on her face. Throttle tipped his head a bit, so she could see his wink at her.
"Sure we did, Vin, you got a couple of root beers, right?" Vinnie began a decent looking sulk on his face and turned away to lean against a tool chest. "Well, you guys own me a meal, anyway." All of them laughed at that one. Vinnie's stomach growled back in protest. He wondered if there were more hotdogs in the fridge.
"So, guys, want to tell me what happened at the tower?" Charlie asked?
Modo spoke first, showing her the hair barrette he had found. Throttle began to explain what they had seen, when Vinnie had to tell her how he nailed Karbunkle in the hall. A few minutes later, all of them were going on about who beat which goon best. Charlie gave up, and just listened. It would be better to ask questions later, after they finished their blow by blow account of the battle. Charlie noticed Modo walk away from them after about 15 minutes of heavy discussion of who nailed the most goons, she guessed to use the bathroom. When he did not come back, out of curiosity, she when to check on him.
Modo was outside, leaning against the front of the garage, staring out at Limburger's tower. Charlie decided to leave him alone, as she had not seen him in such a serious mood before. Something was a burden on his mind; something in his expression told her he needed to be alone. He had something very small in his hand, something he was looking at, but it was too dark for her to see what it was. Under the cloudy skies, the silhouette of the tower hung dark and ominous, in the now ending thunderstorm giving Charlie an odd feeling of premonition that she did not care for. A feeling of standing on the edge of something.
The full moon peeked through the moving clouds for a moment, long enough for Charlie to see the object in Modo's huge hand. It appeared to be the child's hair barrette they were talking about earlier..
The moon went back behind the clouds and she couldn't see it anymore. Charlie looked at Modo a moment longer, and then went back inside to join the others. He would be all right. Whatever it was, he would not face it alone.
Back at Limburger's tower, Karbunkle had finished the blood tests on Greasepit. He had seen this toxin before, about 130 years ago on a planet he wished he could forget.
One of their ships had found him, just as he had expected. There would be at least two of the aliens somewhere in the city. They always travelled in pairs. He had to find them before Limburger did.
There was nothing he could do for Greasepit. The effect of the toxin worked on his nervous system, numbing his body completely for a few hours. It would wear off without any lasting damage. His face and back still ached from the slamming that horrible white mouse had given him. The painkiller he normally used was becoming ineffective, since he used it so often. If it wasn't the white mouse, it was one of the others thrashing him nearly every day!
For once, just one time, I would like to punch his lights out like that, he thought to himself, enjoying the vision of punching Vinnie halfway through a wall. But no, really, there are better things I could do to him, if I ever get my hands on him again. Karbunkle looked at the small sample of toxin he had taken from Greasepit's chin and decided to try something he had always wondered about from the last time he had encountered that toxin. He really, really needed to find a new type of painkiller, and this toxin could be extremely useful for more than just a painkiller. DNA samples, a new weapon, the possibilities were endless! Karbunkle rolled the vial around in his fingers, admiring the way the light shone on the glass surface, thinking, Remembering things he had thought he had forgotten from that long dead past. He put it away in his sample container reluctantly, as he had no time to work on it right now.
Limburger was expecting quick and believable answers to the problem of the invader in the hallway and the ship he was so sure he had seen. So much to do! He hadn't yet tested the new field configuration of the phase core he tried to build from the specifications he could remember. The information was incomplete, and the core was unstable, to say the least about it. It worried him to leave the device alone for too long. The testing on the children would have to wait now, at least until he dealt with these current problems. The Lanan child so far appeared to be the best match for what he needed. If he couldn't finish testing the others, she would do.
He was quickly running out of time now that the mice were involved in this. They always ruined his plans no matter how well he planned them in advance. This plan had to work!! If I only move fast enough, he thought grimly as he stared at the sample container holding a nightmare from his past, maybe, just maybe I can outdo those mice JUST THIS ONE TIME, please!!
Karbunkle wanted to hurt or hit something, and Freddy wasn't around at the moment. NEVER enough time!! Plus the building sensors. That needs to be first. Karbunkle dug around in one of his pockets feeling for the vial of painkiller he kept in there. He needed more if he was to get this done quickly enough before Limburger became suspicious.
Finding them, he popped off the lid, and dry swallowed a few more of the tiny, bitter tasting red pills. He had talked to Anderson and the child about the hallway incident. Karbunkle had talked to Greasepit also, to tell him what he saw, what he will tell Limburger, when he recovers from that bite. He had already transported in a wolf type creature from a Plutark zoo to explain the hallway incident. It was drugged and caged up in the next lab for anyone doubting his story of an escaped lab animal. That little problem was covered. But there still was so much to do!
Grabbing his mini analyzer from his other pocket, he hurried over to the tower sensor control panels to make the changes he needed to convince Limburger. A slight, re-calibration to his own personal scanner would be next to do, one that would detect the gravity irregularity effect caused by a space phasing ship. He had to no, needed to find the invader first. It was critical to his plans to make first contact with the alien. He had barely finished re-programming the tower sensors when Limburger called him on the intercom.
"My dear Dr. Karbunkle". Limburger spoke with some calmness in his voice, Karbunkle noticed, so he must be back in his apartments enjoying either his bath, or the small pleasure of some little secret of rolling around in his fat, fishy little head.
Karbunkle answered immediately as he always did, kissing toes in his best "I live to serve you" voice.
"Yes, your most creamy cultured stinkiness." Karbunkle cooed loudly grinning widely as he spoke.
Limburger's fat green scaly belly filled the intercom screen. He had a plate of worms balanced on the top of his belly. The rest of him was lolling in a hot tub of steaming, yellowish green looking slime. Limburger was in his bath, looking quite pleased with himself. Disgusting, as always. As if things weren't bad enough, seeing Limburger nude was more than Karbunkle needed tonight. Several worms wriggled off the platter and onto Limburger's huge belly. Karbunkle watched without interest as Limburger plucked at a worm writhing on his chest and popped it into his mouth.
"Do you have the report on the hallway incident yet, doctor? Limburger grabbed up several wiggling worms in one huge paw of a hand, admiring them a moment, before popping them into his mouth. His eyes gleamed with contentment as he crunched up the still moving worms. Karbunkle was used to seeing this, so it did not bother him at all. He WAS glad he wasn't in that room to smell the pungent odor of Limburger's bath water, if one could call it water.
"Of course, your high reeking cheesiness." He said brightly.
"It was only one of my lab animals, Freddy had left the cage unlocked." Karbunkle grinned widely at the video screen. "I had told that little moron to stay away from the lab animals, but he had to try that one to play with". Karbunkle grinned wider.
"Greasepit ran into it while he was taking one of my test subjects to the lab and it attacked him. I assure you it is safely secured now, your most creamy Motzerellaness" He smiled his largest toothy smile at the screen.
"It won't happen again, I assure you, your hunk of creamy cheesiness!"
"SEE THAT IT DOESN'T!! Limburger screeched at him loudly and tossed his bowl of worms at the video screen. The bowl jarred the screen with a tinkling crash of broken pottery. A slime trail from one of the worms sliding down the front of the video screen made Karbunkle's stomach flinch with nausea.
"I have enough problems with those mice among other things without your carelessness adding to them, you bulb headed idiot!"
Limburger's mood could switch from calm and serene to screaming maniac in mere seconds, something Karbunkle had also become used to. This was nothing new.
"Now, my dear demented doctor", Limburger said in a calmer voice, "Tell me how my plans for the ah, little recovery project are coming along, and do you have any news on the testing of the children?" Limburger said, "The high council wants a report on the results of the new Plutarkian doctor's experiments. BY tomorrow morning"
Limburger had replaced the bowl of worms with a fresh one, and had begun stuffing his face with them again. Several of the worms from the bowl he had tossed at the screen were busily crawling around on Limburger's huge naked belly. Karbunkle watched as Limburger picked another one of them off of his belly and ate it. Sucking it in like a piece of spaghetti. Karbunkle's stomach flinched again in response.
"Of course, your reeking mozzarellaness." Karbunkle crowed beaming his best smile at him, clamping his hands together.
"Oh, and Karbunkle, DO send me a report about your defective scanners." Limburger looked at him casually, " I'm quite certain there was a ship outside my office." He seemed indifferent and cool as he stared straight at Karbunkle.
"You will give me a full report on who and why they were here." He said in a clear and calm voice for once. Karbunkle cringed, knowing Limburger would expect to see him do it.
"I'll send you the report tonight, right after " The video screen went black.
Limburger had hung up on him. Karbunkle snickered softly. This wouldn't be a problem. Everything was going as he had planned, so far. Dr. Z's work was a perfect cover for his own testing of those children for his new project. He could tell Limburger didn't believe him about the ship, but he didn't seem to suspect anything about the dark core device. He went back to his control panels to check on the dark core's condition first, and then sat down at his bench to begin work on re-calibrating his personal scanner to find the alien's ship. Karbunkle began to hum a weird little tune as he worked, thinking about a long time past when he had heard that song before.
The warm, sweet spicy smell of the molo sand rolling over her body lulled Karn into a light sleep. The warmth of the bright sun on her face felt so comforting, at least until a wet sandball of molo plopped in her face, startling her; she slid awkwardly in the pool trying to sit upright. Karn hear wild laughter all around her. MARA!! Her friend giggled madly beside her. Clearing her eyes, Karn looked at Mara and flipped a handful of the warm sand back at Mara, hitting her squarely on her forehead. The other citizens in the public molo pool were laughing with them, this being a common thing with Karn and Mara. Neither could slide off to sleep without the other one doing the sandball trick.
"Ok, ok, you got me!" Mara giggled softly. She flipped her golden tail out of the molo sand and hurled still more molo at Karn. Karn countered it with a spray of sandy mud from her own tail.
"Nope, didn't get you yet,´ Karn grinned . "That's coming."
"Oooowww, yeah, sure you will." Mara said, as she got out of the pool and headed for the scented waterfalls outside to wash out the sand. Karn was right behind her.
Mara tossed a towel at Karn, which she caught easily. The sun glittered brightly in the waters, small rainbows everywhere from the spray of the many fountains in the bath. It was far more beautiful than the public baths in her home city, Belnos.
"Mara, are you happy here in Karbor Prime? " Karn asked.
"You did get the most prestigious position in the city. Karn grinned at her.
"Director of selection. I'm so proud of you."
"Yes, it's wonderful!" Mara's face was glowing with contentment and happiness, her sea green eyes glittering like the rainbows surrounding them. Karn could see she spoke the truth. The Director of the city of children. Her friend Mara, sandball queen supreme. Who could imagine it?
"When are you returning to Belnos? Not until we go shopping, right?"
"I was hoping you could come back with me for a few days," Karn said. "The shopping is so much better in Belpre, we could go there and stay a few days, make a vacation of it."
Karn grinned at her, "Wanna go?"
"Sure!" Mara said, "I love the marina there, they simply have the best sailboats on all of Kalnar!" Karn loved those boats too. She had those in mind when she mentioned it.
"Let's reserve a boat to stay on, while we are there," Mara said. "A dam 20 class, maybe?" Karn remembered that one, and had already reserved one for them. Mara got her flight sail competition award in one of those. Triple sail panels, not an easy boat to control at speed. Mara was a natural, having the genes for this trait. It was a beautiful boat.
"Already arranged, we have one for 3 days!"
"Karn! You didn't!" Mara nearly danced at the news.
"The Belpre Summer Competition is in 2 days!" Mara's face was clearly showing her a million miles away, deep in the thought of racing again.
Karn smiled at her reaction. It didn't take much to keep Mara happy.
"Did you enter me in the competition?"
"No, I thought I would leave that to you." Karn grinned evilly at her. "Kylo is already there. He's been lazing around in Belnos supposedly for the council meets on the current power needs of the city, but I bet he's been spending more time trying to impress a few girls and eating his way through the city instead."
"Kylo too? Yeah! We are going to have such a good time, aren't we?" Mara pulled at her arm and pointed at a water pool near the white rock wall of the bath. A prime spot and it wasn't crowded.
"He missed you, Mara."
"He does?" Mara's face softened, thinking of him.
"I thought he wanted Jaraas. He talked of her to me often. Before I left for Karbor Prime."
Karn looked Mara straight in the eyes and told her.
"Kylo was playing you, Mara. He cares about you, a lot." She said softly. "He just doesn't want you to know it."
"How do you know that, Karn?" Mara said. "You can't be sure about that."
"He's my twin brother, Mara. I've seen him sitting alone nights, out by the bay."
Karn said. "I went out there one night, to find out why. All he could talk about was you."
Mara's face glowed with affection, with happiness to know he hadn't forgotten her.
"But I have to re-arrange my meetings for later dates, so I will have to meet you in Belnos. It won't take but a day. Ok, Karny?"
"Ok, that's ok. I've got to go back tonight and do the same." Karn said.
"Jaraas will take my duties for a few days. I did the same for her just last month."
"Too bad she can't go with us." Mara said.
"Awwh, Mar, you know how she hates water!"
"Yeah, too bad, huh?
They found a good spot to lay in the water, a small stand of smooth white rocks near a fountain spray of spice scented water, not too crowed for that hour of the day. This public bath was unlike any Karn had seen anywhere in the world. Besides being ornate and luxurious, it was filled with children and teens of all ages. Loud, very loud. Karn and Mara lay back on the rocks in the warm sunlight, directly in the light spray from the fountain. The sweet smell of spice was everywhere. Karn closed her eyes, the warm water flowing through her fur lulling her asleep again. Mara would get her, sure. Something was crawling on her. She flicked at it with one hand, the movement waking her from a light sleep.
She awoke slowly, her eyes noticing light playing about in the room on the walls in a pattern of liquid motion. She closed her eyes again, still sleepy, still wanting to sleep.
Small things were crawling on her, she brushed one away from her arm when she felt it tickle a bit. She rolled over on her side, trying to continue her lazy half-awake, half-asleep state. Another larger, heavier thing crawled up the side of her back. The air smelled damp and cool in the dimly lit room.
Mara was dead. Dead in the city of children. It was a dream. Karn looked up at the glittering light coming from the transparent ceiling of the scout, the water of the bay of Lake Michigan. The scout was at the bottom of the lake. Karn felt a sudden, deep heartfelt pain at the thought of Mara. Remembering her easy laugh, the sandball queen surpreme. Karn's eyes watered, and she looked away from the glittering light of the water above her. Mara would never see the water again, never race a boat at Belnos Bay. Dead, gone with the children. Mara had been in the city of children when the Plutark destroyed it. Karn still sleepy, could feel the warmth of that last day with her. The dream was still in her mind, increasing her feeling of loss.
Karn awoke fully, realizing where she was, and what happened last night. She sat up suddenly, knocking the thing off the side of the panel she was laying on. It clattered with a dull sound when it hit, then the light clicking sound of it running back up the side of the converter. The scout had used the phase converter to repair the damage to her body, using her original body DNA to replicate and replace the broken ribs she had received the night before. It only reminded her she had failed her mission miserably the night before.
Karn looked at the mid-sized Ac11 that had crawled back up onto the panel with her.
It was one of the various sizes of autobots the scout used for internal repairs of the hull. And to drag her unconscious body around too, apparently. Smaller ones, about the size of mice or smaller were everywhere, crawling on her like ants. The small ones were busy picking the dried mud out of her fur. Looking at her tail, she saw they had done a decent job of it too. Karn still wanted a bath. After last night, she craved one to relieve the stress. She had a few things to take care of first before she could take that luxury.
*47, remove your bots, I'm fine now.*
The scout had total control of these bots, needing them to repair a stone hull that constantly required attention. The ones that had been crawling on her, scanning her to check her condition and pick the mud off, ran off to disappear into various open panels in the walls.
Karn rarely saw them running around like that, as most of them only came out to make repairs during her sleep hours. All of them had a resemblance to common sea crabs and spiders, having the legs of a spider with all of the legs ending in the claw like features of a crab. Like the rest of the ship, all of them were made of stone also.
The nature of the dark core's source of power required the ship be made of stone. Metal was not compatible with dark matter for phasing through non-space.
Thinking about the ac11 bots had given her an idea, one maybe useful to her mission.
She needed more information about the location of the Plutark main computer, and the condition of the stolen dark core device. And the child she had seen. Where was the girl now, and how many others were there in the tower? Was the Plutarkian even still in the area? She had been seen, after all.
*47, how far is the tower from the scout's current location?*
*5 points up, 15 points west.*
Good. Karn thought. Close enough to send a few ac11s. Information first, act later, this time. She needed a scan of someone allowed in the building to replicate, so she could walk in there without question when she went back. The ac11 could get that for her too. The phase converter would take care of the replication by blending her DNA with the human DNA sample the ac11 brought back. She would be a human to anyone that saw her.
Seems like a good plan, she thought mildly, wondering what the natives looked like. Still, there was a lot of work to do, if she had to blend in with the citizens. It wouldnt do to be caught as she was. The Plutarkians would destroy the data and flee to anywhere but their home world. Other scout ships like her own had reported this behavior when they came across Plutarkian ships or bases.
If she appeared to be a native, then gaining the information and escaping would be a simple matter.
Karn looked around at the blue-green light playing about the walls of the command room. The scout had phase converted the ceiling into a see-thru glass like material, allowing the light from the water above to light the room. It was beautiful.
The scout laid on the bottom of the lake near enough to the surface to catch the light of the sun shining through the water. Peaceful light and the quiet of the room calmed Karn, and made the situation seem a little better than it was.
She needed to consider what to tell Traynor and Kylo in scout 4713 also. They would be calling her soon for a report. Karn wasn't sure if she should tell them of the children, but she had to tell them about the danger of the unstable dark matter core the scout had located in that tower. She hoped she could get more information about the core before informing them. Karn decided to wait until they called first, before reporting it. It would look better for her if she had more information to tell them.
* 47, send 4 ac11s to the tower, small ones, I don't want them seen. One to check for the location of the main computer, one to locate the child, one to obtain a DNA scan on a human female allowed in that tower, and another one to check on the location and condition of that dark core source. *
*Drones re-programmed and ready to release on your command.*
Karn spoke out loud to the scout this time. It was too silent in that room, it was beginning to bother her, the silence. It reminded her she was alone here on this planet. She didn't like the feeling a bit.
47, have the ac11s record everything they see and hear, coordinates, everything. And put on some music. Soft, lively music. It's too quiet in here."
Bright, lively sounding music, one of her favorites from home began to play throughout the ship. With the light on the walls from the water, it made her smile a bit. She would have a bath now, after the scout's drones were on their way.
Again she spoke out loud to the scout. "47, release the ac11s now. Let me know when they return."
*Done. 4 ac11s have been released.*
Karn got off the converter's extended panels and stretching, walked back towards her quarters and a nice, warm bath. She felt fine, physically. The phase converter had done a good job restoring her body to its original undamaged form. Behind her, the panels retracted back into the wall of the phase converter silently, folding up around the scout's own dark core where they belonged.
Less than a moment later, 4 small mouse sized ac11 drones crawled out of the water of Lake Michigan. One of them scanned the air for a second with one of its forward legs up and wiggling in the early dawn light. A man sitting nearby on a nearby dock noticed the crab creatures as he sat fishing, as he found the early morning hours the best time to catch a few perch hanging around the dock.
The angler dropped his jaw in shock as he saw all 4 of the small crabs leap into the air and fly away towards the city. The sunlight glittered on their tiny backs as they flew past him, mere feet from his face on their straight, beeline flight towards the city of Chicago. He stared after them, not believing what he was seeing. Looking back at the water, he decided it must have been a trick of the morning light. Those were birds, not crabs at all. Had to be. Crabs don't fly. He hunched his shoulders, and got back to the business of fishing. He turned once more and looked out in the direction those odd birds went.
No sir. Crabs don't fly.
A few hours later, near dawn, 3 of the ac11's returned to the scout. The fourth one,
the one sent to get the Plutark home world coordinates met up with Karbunkle's security lasers in the computer core. Not even dust remained of it. Karn was asleep by that time, so the scout decided to report its findings after she awoke.
Later that next day, Charlie was sweeping out the garage when the Bikermice drove up into her garage bays, skidding to a quick stop and scattering about all of the dust and debris she had just swept up. Sometimes, she wondered why she even bothered to try and clean it. Those mice had a talent for coming in right when she was cleaning and managing to undo her clean up work.
Charlie calmly walked over to Modo and swatted him in his chest with her broom.
The dust in the broom settled nicely into his chest fur. She grinned with a small satisfaction.
"HEY, What did I do?" Modo hollered dumbfounded.
"Serves you right, all of you!" Charlie swung the broom at Vinnie and missed.
Throttle looked at her, surprised. He didn't get it either. Charlie seeing this, threw
Her broom at him, and he caught it easily in one hand.
"I've been sweeping out this garage for the past hour, and you mighty mice managed to put it back the dirt where it was in less than 5 seconds!" Charlie stared at them, her eyes glittering with irritation.
"You are going to sweep it up, all of you." Charlie said.
"Yes, mame, Modo said, as he brushed out the dust from his fur and chest plate. He got off his bike and took the broom from Throttle.
"Hey, Charlie girl, we just came over to pick you up, like you said, sweetheart." Vinnie grinned at her, with his most (who me?) innocent look on his face.
"She's right, bros", Throttle said, he had gotten off his bike too, and had also grabbed another broom to help Modo.
"We made the mess, we should clean it up."
Vinnie looked pained and waved his arms around at the room, "But Throttle, cleaning is soooooo UNCOOL!!!"
"Now, Vincent." Throttle said this quietly, and Vinnie understood he wasn't going to get out of it. He sighed heavily, and got off his bike to help.
Charlie grinned. She walked over to the counter top and jumped up to sit on it. She loved to watch the guys do cleaning work. It was a rare sight for her.
"So, guys, where are we going today? She said. "That is after you guys finish sweeping up. Vinnie looked around at her, embarrassed to be pushing a broom. She could hear him muttering under his breath about hoping none of Limburger's goons drove by and saw him pushing a broom. She grinned wildly at that.
Throttle told her as he swept a pile of debris into a cardboard box. They planned to return to Limburger's Tower and go through it carefully, without busting up anything.
To try and find some answers. Something was going on in that tower, and they wanted to know what it was.
Charlie remembered Modo's mood from the night before, when she saw him outside alone with the child's barrette, looking out at the tower in the night. She was curious too. No goons on the third floor, Limburger actually being civil to them, Karbunkle very much trying to hide something, the broken air vent, and the child's hair barrette. She felt whatever this latest Limburger scheme was, it was going to be a bad one, since he was trying to hide so much. She was glad they had remembered to pick her up this time.
She got off the counter top and headed for the kitchen.
"Where you goin, babe?" Throttle said.
She looked back at them and smiled a bit.
" I thought I would fix a few hotdogs for you while you are cleaning up. Before we go to the tower." Charlie grinned at them mischievously. "Fighting does make you hungry, doesn't it?"
All three mice yelled and whistled loudly. Vinnie tossed his broom up, spun around, and caught the broom before it hit the floor. He bowed at her, grinning. She laughed and turning for the kitchen, left them to their work.
About the time Charlie and the mice were enjoying their hotdog and rootbeer breakfast, Karn had just transformed into a human copy of Maria Anderson's night caretaker for the alien test children. The ac11 had scanned Karen Bannard for a DNA sample as she prepared the sedatives to be given to the children with their morning breakfast. Karbunkle had ordered the daily sedatives to keep them calm and easy to handle during his testing of them. He hated the noise the children were capable of, plus the fact one of them had bitten his hand badly about a week before.
The real Karen didn't care for these orders from Karbunkle, but she needed the job, and she really didn't know if these strange looking alien children were as dangerous as he had told them. So she did her job, and tried not to think about it much. It bothered Dr. Anderson very much, Karen noticed. But like her, Maria did nothing, and followed her orders. She left the small clear plastic cups on the counter for Maria to add to the children's juice in the morning. Karen stopped at the door a second, her hand on the light switch. She thought she saw something small move. Something under the counter. She leaned over and glanced at the various containers under the steel counter, hoping it wasn't a mouse. She hated the nasty little crawling things. Deciding she really didn't want to know, she turned off the light and left.
The scout after recording this incident, ordered that particular ac11 to disable the sedatives before returning to the scout. In the dark of the room, the ac11 quickly crawled up the wall and dropped to the counter top. The tiny mouse sized crab thing scampered quickly from one cup to another, dipping a claw in each of the containers, destroying the molecular structure of the liquid with a quick, high sonic blast it normally used to break down the sand ceramic hull of the scout during repair work. It was effective for this purpose too. The children would be normal tomorrow when Karn came for them.
Satisfied that no more could be done; the scout recalled the ac11s and waited for Karn to awake. Due to the type of security the fourth ac11 had run into, the scout had decided not to send another one to the tower's computer core. Another way to get the information would have to be attempted.
A few hours later, Karn arrived at the tower, the bright blue sunlit morning just beginning. Dressed in nurse's whites and wearing a smile for the guards, she walked easily into Limburger's tower. The ac11 had also recorded a copy of Karen Bannard's security card also. Her scout had thought of everything, it seemed. She walked to the elevators and punched the button for the third floor. As she waited for the elevator to arrive, Karn glanced at her new appearance in the reflective steel walls of the corridor and smiled. She now had deep brown eyes and long blonde hair, so different from her own blue eyes and multicolored hair. Not having fur anymore seemed rather nice. Her clothes fit so much nicer without fur and a tail.
As she stepped into the elevator alone, she reviewed her plan to steal the children from the tower. She would do this first, then deal with the dark core problem. The easiest way was to destroy the tower, and to do that, the children had to be gone from it first. The scout stood ready, hovering about 10 yards from the outer wall nearest the children's dorm. It was phased out, invisible to the primitive scanners of the Plutarkian tower.
She would walk into the dorm, laser the doors shut, cut a hole into the air duct in the dorm's wall, and have all of the children crawl down that to reach the outer wall where the scout awaited. They should be gone in less than 15 minutes. That escape worked fine for her last night, so this should work fine for the children too. Simple.
Then she would simply blast the tower with a built up charge of positive lepton particles, and that backward core would implode, pulling itself and the tower into a one way trip into non-space. She could try the red planet for that Plutark presence to retrieve the home world coordinates. That is, if Traynor hasn't already found them.
Scout 4713 had gone to that planet yesterday, before she arrived here. And he is so very efficient. So, she didn't believe losing this opportunity to get the information to be that important. Destroying the core and saving those kids had a higher priority for her.
Karn arrived on the third floor and got out. Maria Anderson was just leaving the fifth floor cafeteria, where she had been having breakfast with the real Karen Bannard. Karen had stayed for breakfast to tell Maria of a possible mouse infestation of the children's dorm area. Plus to chatter on about her coming vacation to the Cayman Islands. Maria didn't mind listening to Karen, in fact, taking her own vacation soon seemed like a good idea to her. She wanted to go home, and visit her parents who still lived on the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina. It had been over 3 years since she had seen them last.
About the time Karn was walking in the front main doors of the tower, the Biker Mice were studying Limburger's tower from the street about a block away. Throttle checked the tower with his built in helmet scanners, looking for anything unusual.
All was quiet. Only the sound of the usual morning rush hour traffic and the normal pedestrians walking in and out of the tower, common to a Tuesday business day.
"What's the plan, Throttle?" Modo asked.
"This time we head straight for the third floor." Throttle looked back at Vinnie.
"What?" Vinnie looked back at Throttle, his eagerness to trash the place showing clearly on his face.
"Stay cool, Vinnie." Throttle said. "Don't bust up anything until we find out where that little kid is, and what Limburger didn't want us to see on that floor."
Vinnie's face slumped visibly. "Buzzkill." "Yeah, ok, it's cool, bro."
Charlie noticed Modo seemed to be preoccupied again. She guessed he was thinking about the little girl's hair barrette again. He was so protective of children. She thought it was so sweet that he cared that much.
"Ok, Let's do it." Throttle revved his engine and shot forward. Modo and Vinnie were right behind him. As they were crossing Limburger's main Plaza, Vinnie veered over to the bushes by the side of the main Plaza and slowed down.
"Here's where you get off, sweetheart." Vinnie's tail wrapped around Charlie and picked her off of his bike in one smooth motion. He dropped her by the stand of tall bushes near the side of the building. Charlie slapped at him and missed.
"VINNIE.!!" Charlie yelled, "Don't you dare leave me out again!"
"Sorry, Charlie, macho guy stuff, you know." Vinnie shouted back at her as he raced off to catch up with the others. Charlie glared at him. She hated it when he did that.
Even after she had proved to them she could ride as well as they could, when she was the mysterious pink biker during that battle with Corroder Cody, they still left her sitting by the sidelines. She sat down on a huge ornamental rock by the bushes and fumed.
Good luck, guys, she thought to herself. But Vinnie was still going to pay for this one. That was a promise to herself. Macho stuff, HUH!! She took off her helmet and set it down under the bushes.
Less than a minute later, the sound of shattering glass from above her startled Charlie as a shower of broken glass and a sizable brown office chair came flying at her from a second floor window. Fast behind the chair, a blonde haired nurse came leaping out after it through the window, trying to aim for the same bushes she was sitting by. Charlie dived for cover under the bushes just as the nurse landed nearly on top of her.
The scent of evergreen pine was thick in the middle of the broken limbs as both the nurse and Charlie scrambled for cover. Someone was firing at them from that same window the nurse had leaped from. Charlie looked up as she backed out of the bushes pulling the dazed girl with her. She heard a very familiar voice shouting through the din of the gunfire. GREASEPIT!
"VINNIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Charlie screamed loudly, hoping he was still close enough to hear her. Her helmet. She grabbed it up where she dropped it, hit the intercom button and screamed for him again. The guns stopped.
"Aay, it's dat rodent loving Charlie down theres too.!" Greasepit grinned a toothy smile as he pushed at the nearest goon, leaving a greasy smear of oil on the goon's arm.
"Get em' boys!" Several goons leaped from the window and ran for them. Both Charlie and the blonde nurse were grabbed by two huge ugly goons nearly immediately as they tried to turn and run. Charlie swung her helmet backwards and smacked the goon holding her by the waist straight between the eyes knocking him silly. The nurse promptly bit the hairy arm around her neck causing that goon to howl like a baby. High pitched voice for such a big guy, Charlie thought with satisfaction. It did work, both goons had let go of them.
Still, they were in trouble. Charlie could see more of Greasepit's goons at the broken window coming for them. Charlie looked around not seeing the mice yet and noticed the new girl appeared more angry than afraid at that moment. The look Charlie saw in her eyes as the nurse stared at the goons seemed cold, almost cold-blooded.
Three more of them including Greasepit were coming at them just as Charlie heard the scream of engines heading towards them. As usual, in the nick of time.
"HEY, Greasebutt!" Vinnie yelled, just as he rode between the girls and the goons about to grab them and clotheslined both goons with his arm as he rode by. Both goons went flying back into Greasepit, knocking him flat too.
"AHAAAHHAAAAHHAAA!" Vinnie howled with liveliness, causing the blonde girl to jump back startled at the sound. Throttle and Modo were right behind him, and pulled up to Charlie, letting Vinnie play with Greasepit. There were only 3 of them, and Vinnie had been extremely bored. And it seemed Charlie had found a new friend, Throttle noticed.
"Yous mices, is gonna pay for dis!" Greasepit yelled, his voice fading in the distance as Vinnie knocked him flying across the plaza to land in the main fountain. The goons had already got up running for cover. They would be back with reinforcements soon.
"Don't worry, they are friends of mine. They're the good guys." Charlie said to the girl. "Hi, I'm Charlie," she said, "I see you have trouble with Greasepit too."
"Hi, I'm, I'm ah..Karen." Karn said. "That is what they are called, Greasepit?"
The girl with Charlie looked around at the motorcycles, and seemed even more worried, startled at the appearance of the mice. Karn wondered at the huge size of them, they seemed not to be native to this planet. They looked like giant monkeys to her or maybe insects of some species. They did have large, red antennae similar to an insect's.
"Naa, Greasepit is the big oily one, the others are goons." Charlie said.
"You aren't from around here, are you? Charlie noticed her staring at the mice. Somehow, most people didn't notice they were alien for some reason. This girl noticed their difference immediately.
"Why were they chasing you, Karen?" Vinnie had finished with Greasepit and the goons and had come over to join the others. Throttle and Modo had already pulled up by the girls.
"Who's your new friend, Charlie?" Modo asked.
"This is Karen, guys." The blonde girl was brushing the weeds from her clothes while still giving the guys the odd stare with wary eyes.
"Meet my friends, Throttle and Modo, he's the big gray lovable one. The hyper one is Vinnie." Charlie said brightly.
"Ah, Hi, Nice to meet you." Karn said carefully, still watching them. They were far more powerful than the 'greasepit goons' and still wondered if she should run or stay.
After that messy blunder upstairs, Karn wasn't sure of anything at the moment. That was a close one, they nearly had her caught. Traynor would have had her head if he hears about what happened up there. Lovable? She thought, that gray one looked like a battle scarred warrior. The other brown one was staring back at her in a way that made her uncomfortable. It was like he was seeing through her disguise.
Really, big monkey looking aliens. Much larger than any Lupercan male she had ever seen. These bikers had really nice looking muscles on them, she noticed. She wondered if they were native or alien to this planet and if they would be a threat to her kind.
"Pleased to meet you madam." Modo said with a smooth easy voice.
He had noticed her alarm at his size. He had gotten off his bike and bent down a bit to lessen his size as he offered his real hand to her. Karn smiled at him. The sound of shouting and engines coming towards them from the side of the tower. Modo stood up suddenly, hearing it. Charlie noticed she could SMELL them coming too. Too much time in the tower made anyone smell like a Plutarkian.
"Hate to break up the intros, but we have a goon squad coming our way, bros" Throttle said.
"Charlie, you and Karen stay here, we'll be back."
"NO! HEY! Come on Throttle! Hey! Charlie yelled at him. "Don't leave me here again!"
Throttle didn't hear her. They were already gone, the sound of their roaring engines covering Charlie's shouts. Karn as Karen pulled at Charlie's arm.
"Come on, my van is there", pointing to the rusty green thing sitting at the curb.
"We can sit there safe until they return."
"Cool." Charlie saw it and grabbing her helmet, joined Karen.
Both ran for Karn's van, the sound of gunfire and the usual battle going on in front of the tower loud in their ears. A tire rolled past them as they ran, just missing them, one lost from a goon buggy blown up. Charlie had heard the blast from Modo's arm cannon a second before the tire appeared, and several loud splashes in the tower's main fountain. Those goons did need baths, they did stink! She guessed the mice decided to give them one.
To be continued.