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Chapter XXXVII

Torama - posted on 6 Nov 2016 @ 3:09pm

It wasn't Sunkiss. Idiot! He should have trusted his instincts.

The alien had lost the Sunkiss disguise on the flight over. Xe was a similar colouration to Sunkiss but where Sunkiss' fur had been a molten gold colour, this one was a lot darker and a little redder. Their hair and eyes were similar. And this one would be bigger if xe lost the wings, probably at least the same size as the twins. Xe had kept some of xir mass in the wings which was how xe had shrunk down to be about his height. Idiot! He had wanted so badly to believe Sunkiss was back.

The pain that had incapacitated him earlier had reduced down to a managable tingle. They were heading at rather high speed towards the derelict Firestorm Palace. It was breathtaking approaching it from an angle he had only ever imagined before. He squeaked in alarm when his captor suddenly tucked its wings in and dove.

Fully expecting to at least find himself in a world of pain again, Helios couldn't help squeezing his eyes shut as the air rushed past him frighteningly fast. There was a sharp, sickening jolt, the thunderclap of air being violently displaced by very large wings, and then they touched down.

He didn't want to open his eyes. Morbid curiousity got him opening them anyway.

He was still alive, and still in one piece. His captor still had him firmly wrapped up. It was black as hell and he couldn't see a damned thing. He squinted slightly, trying to pierce the darkness. As his eyes adapted he saw shapes in the gloom.

No good. It was too dark. He had been to the palace recently, when he and some friends and friends of friends had come to move the artwork. The place had been creepily cool and dim in the daytime, as it had been built to look impressive and imposing, not with sensible things like lighting and passive heating and cooling in mind. Happily the electronics had still worked in most of the rooms and they had only had to resort to torches in some of them.

How the hell were the shifters seeing in the dark?

"Room on?" he called out hopefully.

To his immense relief, light burst into life from the light sources strategically located around the room, bathing it in a warm, yellow glow. The fireplace heater didn't seem to be working, at the temperature the room was at, it should have started up as well.

The dark shapes resolved into other mice, and they glanced up in puzzlement as the lights came on. Helios glanced around the room quickly. They were in one of the airy upstairs parlours. He remembered moving a large portrait and a couple of medium sized pastorals out of here, along with a couple of busts and suits of armour which had managed to find homes in the museum.

The first thing he saw was the massive black mouse standing by the fireplace. Xe was as big as Abraxas. Everything about xem was black, from xir long black dreadlocks to the black jeans and combat boots xe sported to xir void-like black eyes. The only thing not black were the dark red antennae, the whites of xir eyes and the flash of incisors under the top lip.

Standing beside the black mouse and contrasting him starkly was a white mouse with a shock of snowy dreadlocks, lean and willowy, similar to the twins. Guarding the door to the parlour was a large brown mouse with a similar build to the black mouse, but not as large.

More importantly, the tentacles holding him had loosened.

They were quite high up, so he was not going to escape by the balcony. While the shifters were distracted, Helios shrugged the tentacles around him and bolted for the door. He sized up the brown mouse, who grew rapidly in his field of vision as he approached, and tried to work out if he would be able to duck around him or whether he should try to go low and tackle. The former worked well on Silverfire, the latter never did. Neither worked on Rimfire or Stoker. He hoped the brown mouse was more like Silverfire than Rimfire or Stoker.

The brown mouse looked down at him. He didn't look particularly startled but also wasn't making any move to stop him. Helios heard that now familiar and feared sound of whips uncurling. He was too intent on escaping to feel the tendril curl around his ankle, but he became swiftly aware of it when his foot didn't come forward as expected and the ground flew into his face. He remembered to close his mouth so he didn't inadvertently bite his tongue, saw flashes of red and white and pinpoints of light as he collided hard with the stone, barely able to grunt as the wind was forcefully evicted from his lungs by the contact.

Once more he was dragged backwards, and kicked out at the tentacle holding his ankle with his free leg. The tentacle looped swiftly around his other leg, pinning his ankles together. Helios thrashed, determined to at least not make it easy for them. A black tentacle entered his field of vision, catching one forearm. Automatically Helios tried to slip the hold, the tentacle looped effortlessly around his other hand and bound his wrists together.

Helios yelled in frustration and thrashed again. The huge black mouse lifted him up in front of xem, stretching him out until he had no more wriggle room, and regarded him with some amusement. The cold chill of fear coursed through him at how easily he'd been defeated. He wasn't exactly the world's greatest fighter, he was constantly resoundingly beaten by his brother and his mentors, but he could generally hold his own in a brawl. This was completely different.

He tried to glare defiantly at the big black mouse as Vinnie would have wanted his son to do. No son of Vinnie's would show fear, they would take every challenge head on and come out victorious, because there was no other option.

The black mouse looked him up and down with minimal movement of the head and none of the eyes. None of the shifters moved their eyes, really. Probably because their normal eyes looked like huge gemstones and they didn't seem to understand how eyeballs and eye muscles worked. Except for Sunkiss, xe
seemed to understand the concept at least. Helios glared back, unsettled by the vibes he was getting off the large black mouse. His nervousness increased exponentially when he felt a tentacle glide smoothly up his leg towards his groin. His breath caught.

"Don't...fucking...touch me," he choked out.

The black mouse's mouth twitched into a smirk. Helios whimpered and shuddered as the tentacle pressed gently against his crotch before travellng up his torso and touching him lightly under the chin. He lifted his head, trying to get away from it. It maintained contact. He'd at least stood a chance against Ajax, with or without Bron's help. He didn't have a prayer against these things. If they wanted to have their way, they were going to get it.

He didn't want to be scared. He wanted to be brave and defiant, like Vinnie and Silverfire would have been. But he was neither of them. He was a bitter disappointment. And he was terrified.

"What do you want with me?"

He tried to thrash again. He could barely move.

The black mouse smiled this time. It was an unpleasant smile. "Sunkiss and Nightshade."

Helios felt like his blood had turned to ice.

"You're Slider."

The unpleasant smile widened a little. "Yes."

"You fucking BASTARD!" Helios snarled. This bastard had done something so unspeakably horrible to Windsong that it had terrified Sunkiss and unsettled the unflappable Warriors. There was no way in hell it was laying a tentacle on his lover. Adrenaline made his next thrash a little stronger, he got some give this time, tried to slip his hands free. He was going to nail this bastard.

The tentacles moved with him, tightened meaningfully around his wrists. He felt his legs being jerked from under him, gasped in surprise as he responded to gravity again. Before he hit the floor the pressure from the tentacles increased so he hit the ground enough to wind him a little, not quite enough to be painful or elicit stars. His shoulders hurt as he was stretched out. He tried to struggle, but all he could do was twitch pathetically. What would Vinnie do? Or Throttle or Modo or Rimfire or Stoker? They wouldn't have gotten kidnapped in the first place maybe. They would definitely not cry out in pain, but it at least made the black mouse stop drawing him. Leave it to him to be a failure. Stoker had warned him about thinking with his dick, and here were all his fears come true. Vinnie was right. He wasn't good for anything.

"Fuck you!" It was lame, but it was better than nothing.

-= o =-

The buzz from within the walls was disturbing. Wrong, somehow. They had barely touched down in the inner courtyard when Sunkiss bounded towards one of the nearby doors.

Sunkiss wait.

Sunkiss, already through the portal, turned back inquisitively, then flared alarm. Abraxas immediately sprang forward, closely followed by the rest of the Pack, maintaining their formation though the twins were beside each other rather than at their usual points as they were still carrying the nest between them.

They confronted a phalanx of armed guards, blasters out and pointed at them.

"Nobody move!" one of the guards barked.

Sunkiss probably wouldn't have moved anyway, it was drawn up stiffly in fear. Windsong flitted beside it, gripping its hand tightly. Abraxas and the twins moved with very slow deliberation around them, eyeing all the guards. The one that appeared to be in charge pulled out the communication device they used.

"We got 'em sir."

"Bring 'em to the throne room."

Windsong perked up when it heard Stoker's voice on the communication device.

"Yes sir." The guard fixed them all in an angry, steely glare. "We have orders to shoot if you don't cooperate. So you wanna cooperate. That way. Move."

"What did we do?" Sunkiss asked. It immediately averted its eyes when it found a blaster in its face. Abraxas drew it to its side, glaring at the man with the blaster.

"Shut up. Don't look at anyone. Go to the throne room. Now."

-= o =-

"They're comin'." Stoker looked grimly at his companions. The throne room was a bit crowded. They had one phalanx strategically positioned around and behind various pillars. He wasn't thrilled about having all the Royals piled in here ripe for massacring, but all of them were concerned for Helios and wanted up
to the second updates on what was going on. Silverfire had ordered a triple guard for Midnight and the princesses, so they were all squashed in there. Throttle, Modo and Carbine had broken every speed limit, possibly a speed record or two and several road rules to get here when Vinnie had called them and told them Helios had been kidnapped.

They had been briefed by Silverfire, and they had scratched together a plan of what to do and how they were going to track Helios down. It had been sheer dumb luck - good or bad they couldn't say for now - that the very shifters they wanted had just so happened to walk right in.

Silverfire and Eos were adamant that they had seen Sunkiss take Helios. Vinnie was convinced beyond a measure of a doubt that the shifters needed to be anihilated now. Stoker, Throttle and Carbine were finding it hard to believe that the aliens they had befriended would act so out of character.

The door to the throne room opened. The guards rustled in their positions, their blasters powering up with a low whine. Silverfire put his hand to his, a look of fierce determination in his eyes. Eos had the same fierce determination in hers, though she was unarmed. Selene and Kitai just looked nervous standing by Midnight.

A phalanx entered with the shifters among them.

The doors whumped shut. The shifters were trapped. Even if they took out some of the guards, they would not reach the royals and they would not leave here alive.

"They were carrying this, sir."

The shifters all reacted with concern when the two members of the phalanx tossed what looked like a bag onto the chart table. A light clicking and whirring noise came from within.

"Please!" Sunkiss cried out, "Be gentle!"

"What is it?" Stoker demanded, scrutinising the bag.

"Seekers. Communication aids. We've been trying to contact you to update you on our situation and inform you when we were planning to return but we had trouble with the frequencies..."

Vinnie leaped to his feet and drew his blaster. "Shut up!" he snarled, his hand trembling as if he was not picking a target through sheer effort of will. Sunkiss immediately shut up. "Where's my son?"

Sunkiss' eyes darted over the Royals. His countenance suddenly grew frightened. "What's happened?"

"You tell us," Throttle cut in smoothly.

The shifters glanced at each other. "I don't understand, we have not been on your territory for an hour yet."

"Don't give us that shit, I saw you take my brother!" Silverfire said suddenly, his voice sharp and angry. "We both did!" He glanced at Eos when he said this, and she firmly nodded confirmation.

The tension in the room heightened.

"Please," Sunkiss held up both hands appeasingly, "please calm down."

These particular shifters weren't the threat. Throttle glanced at Carbine, then Modo. Their eyes told him they were thinking as he was, that it was probably a good idea to settle down and just listen to what each party had to say. There was probably a logical explanation they could arrive at, and at the very least they would be able to find out where the shifters had taken Helios and why.

Throttle glanced at Stoker and knew from the look on his face that something was very, very wrong.

"Don't fuck with our heads!" Stoker growled. Sunkiss flinched violently. Vinnie flailed his arms angrily on the podium for a second, then suddenly aimed at Sunkiss and pulled the trigger.

None of the mice saw what happened next, but worked it out quickly enough from the aftermath.

Firstly, Vinnie was a crack shot. All the "Biker Mice from Mars" and the fearless leader of the Freedom Fighters were. He had aimed at Sunkiss' side, he should have hit Sunkiss' side.

He hit Abraxas on the right hip. Because in the time it had taken the mice to blink, Abraxas had pulled Sunkiss behind it. Abraxas' right leg, the entire thing from the hip down, was gone. There was no mess, no blood, just a strange silvery gas emitting from the stump and an awareness of an intense, alien pain infringing on their consciousness.

Abraxas' form rippled unsettlingly, like bad reception. It looked down at the missing limb, its eyes clearly shocked even if the rest of its face remained impassively blank, and then the gigantic mouse collapsed soundlessly to the ground.

Windsong threw Stoker a horrified, pleading look before rushing to Abraxas' side, the now-familiar thrum of energy firing up as it started healing its Packmate. The twins and the Ambassador surrounded the two of them, turning outwards to face the mice, hair extending down their backs as the spine quills formed and the tentacles braided out of them. The twins looked fierce and ready for battle. The Ambassador looked terrified.

Eos looked mildly puzzled. "Why doncha put 'em all out?" she called down, her snide, scathing tone tempered somewhat by creeping doubt.

"I don't understand, your Highness." Sunkiss glanced behind it at Abraxas. Its leg had reformed and it was sitting very still, Windsong curled against it, trembling.

"Your other two tentacles! We saw you," she added, not sounding so certain now.

"I only have four!" Sunkiss protested despairingly.

Silverfire and Eos exchanged a look sharing confusion and uncertainty. Either the alien was lying, or the other group of aliens they'd been hearing about had found them. They focused their gaze on the nervous Pack.

"Can...can you look like other people?" Silverfire sounded almost afraid to ask.

Sunkiss glanced over the mice in the room. With what looked like some effort on its part, it withdrew the tentacles, then looked up at the podium. Its form rippled, and suddenly a carbon copy of Eos was standing among the shifters.

The real Eos up on the podium stared in horrified shock as around her a collective gasp went up.

"Yes, we can," the carbon copy of Eos said in Eos' voice. The sense of relief was palpable when the fake Eos rippled and resumed the more familiar mouse form of the alien Ambassador. "It's what you call 'bad form' to do so," he said in his normal voice.

"Oh shit," said Silverfire.

"Please take us to where it happened. If it was recent we can track it."

"Now wait just a second..." Vinnie started.

"Please your Majesty. Trails dissipate fast here."

"Helios' room," Eos said abruptly.

The blasters hummed nervously as Abraxas hauled to its feet, partly assisted by Windsong.

"Stand down," Stoker barked.

They all looked at Vinnie.

"Vinnie, please," Midnight was not queen at the moment, just a mother terrified for her child.

"Anything go screwy and I'll execute every motherfucking last one of you myself," Vinnie growled. "Move out!"