Transferred to a relocation shelter, the families experience life under Plutarkian control.
The shelter turned out to be a refurbished factory about twenty miles east of Hellfire City. The Plutarkians had bought it months ago, apparently during one of their first visits to the city. The factory was actually shaped in one gigantic rectangle, with four separate buildings that were surrounded on all sides by a tall length of security fences, and then a large expanse of open grass-land. The West Side of the compound had been turned into a housing area for the Mice, containing three floors of rooms which held currently 200 hundred of the city's occupants. Others had been taken to several other satellite camps that seemed to encompass the city. The South Wing, which was the furthest from the other three buildings, housed the Plutarkian over-seers.
The North Wing was the part of the old building that remained in tact. It was still a working facility, but for the moment only Plutarkians occupied that particular building. No Martians had been seen going in or out. Connected by a long window-filled corridor was the East Wing, which is where food and supplies were currently being held. And where our young friends found themselves having their first lunch, the day after their arrival.
Alexis, Modo, Vinnie, Jessie, and Throttle sat at their assigned table in the shelter cafeteria, staring down with unbelieving eyes at what was considered their "meal." Alexis blinked and timidly touched it with her finger. The puke green blob that oozed out of the plastic container gurgled at her touch and wiggled like gelatin.
"Ewww." they moaned in chorus with each other.
"My mama always said; 'Don't play with your food, eat it.'" Modo quoted.
"Well, can you technically consider this food?" Vinnie asked poking the green ooze with his fork, which after about three pokes was actually sucked into it.
"Hey!" Vinnie shouted to his breakfast, "You give that back you reject from a horror movie!" he warned.
Suddenly his sister threw her arms tightly around his neck. "Ew! Mine's got an eyeball in it!" she squealed. Vinnie leaned over and examined his sister's plate, seeing a pale white, round object floating in the green slime.
"Cool..." he mused.
Throttle and Modo sat next to each other, looking down at their meal with stomachs' growling.
"I'm so hungry," Throttle sighed.
"Me too." Modo replied, his stomach gurgling in response.
"Do you think this stuff is edible?" he asked then.
"Probably not." Throttle sighed, shaking his head.
"Well...no guts no glory! I'm so hungry I could eat a horse!" Modo declared.
"A horse maybe, but this? Something tells me this stuff has no nutritional value whatsoever." Throttle said.
He turned his attention then to the other mice surrounding him. There had been no word of Stoker, his father, or Brutus yet, and it began to worry him.
It didn't seem right that they should have been kept for so long. But then, this whole situation didn't seem right. Not right at all.
He leaned towards the others, speaking in hushed tones. "We've got to get out of here and find what they did with them." he whispered.
Alexis nodded worriedly, "I hope Brutus is okay." she said. Vinnie patted her back gently.
"What do you think they did with them? Put them in jail or something?" Modo asked his friends.
Throttle shrugged, "It's possible, but we still would have heard something by now I would have thought. I mean, this place is pretty small, and we would have seen where they were keeping them."
"What about the North building?" Jessie asked suddenly. "No Mice are allowed in there."
The small group turned their attention out the large glass windows that peered out onto the work yard. They could see part of the North Wing from where they sat, it's windows all darkened with the blinds drawn down over them.
"Maybe we're not supposed to know they're here." Vinnie mused out loud. "Maybe it's really a holding cell for people who make trouble."
"I don't know about you bros, but I have a feeling that this shelter is a more than meets the eye." Modo whispered, so as not to be overheard by anyone else around them.
"I think you're right, Modo. There's defiantly something fishy going on around here." Throttle answered.
"Yeah, big, fat and smelly fishy." Jessie said, wrinkling her nose.
There was a seven o'clock curfew set for the occupants of the shelter, and as seven approached, Throttle and his friends parted ways and the young tan mouse headed back towards the room he and his mother and brother were staying in.
The room was about the size of a small hotel room, containing two beds, a bathroom, a small table with four chairs, and a couch. Other than that the room was sparsely furnished. Television was unheard of, and radio transmissions were all jammed.
Most likely it would be another night of playing with Smoke to keep him calm and entertained until he got bored and fell asleep. He opened the door to his room to find his mother sitting at the small table, her hands to her face, crying softly. Smoke was lying on the bed, napping.
"Mom?" Throttle asked softly, walking into the room.
Jewel looked up, a bit startled at the sight of her son. "Honey! I didn't hear you come in." she said, putting on a smile and trying to wipe her eyes before he could see how red they were.
"Mom, why are you crying?" Throttle asked, his guts twisting a bit at the number of possibilities that entered his mind at that question. He took the chair next to his mom and studied her carefully.
"It's nothing, honey. I'm just worried about your father." she answered.
Throttle nodded solemnly. For a moment he thought about telling his mother about the theory he and his bros had come up with, but then he thought best not to. He had no idea who could be listening in on them, after all.
The young mouse stared at his hands for a moment, then his eyes glanced over a worn-out pack of cards that were laying on the table. "Want to play a card game, mom?" he asked, picking the deck up.
Jewel looked at him from behind her folded hands for a moment, and then smiled and kissed his cheek. "Sure, honey. What game do you want to play?" she asked, trying very hard to be brave for him. But it was actually Throttle who was being brave for her.
"How about fifty-two card pick up!" Throttle laughed, sending them flying everywhere.
That night, in his own room, Modo slept curled up on the bed he shared with his young nephew Rimfire, while his mother, sister, and niece slept in the next bed. The big gray-furred mouse was brought out of his deep sleep by a faint popping noise coming from outside that sounded a bit like fire-crackers going off.
Blinking sleepily and shifted the little boy who lay so close to him so that he wouldn't be disturbed, he climbed out of bed, and made his way over to the small window across the room. Phobos and Demos were out in full tonight, and the night outside seemed much brighter than the dark little room they occupied.
He peered down into the yard to see several large, blob-ish figures, who were really Plutarkians, gathered around a Martian Mouse. Modo pressed his nose against the glass in the darkness, trying to make out who the man was, but he didn't recognize him. The Plutarkians surrounded the other mouse, at first they only appeared to be talking, and then one of the aliens punched the man across the face, making him take a step back.
Another one from behind him thrust the butt of his gun into the man's back, forcing him to his knees. They all crowded around him, kicking and punching. A deep well of anger began to form in the pit of Modo's gut. He tugged on the window pane until it came open with aloud "swoosh" and leaned his head out into the night air.
"HEY! LEAVE HIM ALONE! THREE AGAINST ONE AIN'T FAIR!" he shouted.
"Modo...?" Lida's voice drifted from the inside of the little room, but Modo ignored it. Apparently the fish below him on the grounds heard him because they looked up then, ceasing what they were doing.
"CLOSE THAT WINDOW!" one of the shouted up to him.
"WHOSE GONNA MAKE ME?" Modo called back.
Two of the fish abandoned their current victim and started towards the building, but Modo did not close the window.
Suddenly Lida was at his side, her hand on her younger brother's shoulder. "Modo what are you doing?" she demanded, turning him around to face her. Lida's long brown hair hung in tangles around her face, her bright red eyes wide.
"They were beating on that poor guy! Three against one ain't a fair fight!" Modo explained. "Someone had to tell them to stop."
Lida opened her mouth to say something, but it was drowned out by the sound of someone knocking harshly on their door.
Rimfire and Emily had clambered into bed with their grandmother, who looked sternly at the door as her children stared.
A moment later it swung open and two officers stepped inside, looking very unhappy. "I told you to close that window, boy." one said, pointing at Modo. Lida moved to do so, but Modo stepped away from her and walked up to the aliens. "What did that guy do to deserve a beating like that?" he asked.
"That is none of your concern, boy. I suggest you get back in your bed before I put you there permanently." the Plutarkian replied, thrusting his finger against Modo's chest.
Rose was up suddenly, looking irate. "Excuse me, gentlemen, but it is not your place to discipline my son. I will not have anyone speak so rudely to a member of my family." she said scoldingly.
The Plutarkian turned to look at the elder woman who now addressed him, and back-handed her hard across the face. Rose cried out and grabbed her cheek as Emily gasped in shock and Rimfire began to whimper and squirm.
"Mama!" Modo and Lida both cried, Lida running to her mother's side.
Modo turned with furious eyes to the officers, his fist clenched. He leapt upon the officer that had struck his mother, landing a hard right hook across his jaw and then a painful jab to where his nose should have been. Modo felt the satisfying crunch of bone and cartilage breaking under his knuckles as the fish went down for the count. The other man moved to stop Modo but the big grey-furred teenager whirled into a round-house kick and sent the other man tumbling out into the hallway with a cry of shock.
Modo then reached down and dragged the first man into the hallway, which was quickly filling up with surprised citizens at all the commotion. He slammed him up against the wall, holding him there.
"Don't you ever put another slimy fin on my mama, you understand?" Modo snarled. The officer nodded weakly, blood pouring out his nostrils.
"Modo!" a familiar voice suddenly came from down the hall. Modo turned his head to see Vinnie pushing through the crowd of astonished on-lookers, followed by Throttle and Alexis.
"Bro what are you doing?" Vinnie cried, looking at the two incapacitated guards that Modo had apparently knocked on their asses.
"Modo Maverick, you put that man down immediately!" Rose said suddenly from the doorway. Modo looked back at his mother. Rose's face was flushed, and stern.
Modo let the fish slump to the ground with a moan. "Sorry, mama." he said. But Modo wasn't sorry at all.
"What is going on here!" another voice shouted this time.
A path cleared as two more Plutarkian guards appeared in the hall, looking down in amazement at their fellow fish lying on the ground, and Modo standing over top of them.
"You! Stay where you are!" the man cried, moving forward, looking very pissed off.
"They started it!" Lida said suddenly from the doorway. She was having trouble keeping her two curious children inside the room and out of harm's way. "They attacked him, for no reason!"
"Well we have a reason now, don't we?" The Plutarkian said, pulling out something that looked like a shortened version of a cattle-prod from his belt. He thrust it into Modo's stomach.
Modo howled as a firy-electric shock surged through his insides, making him double over in pain.
"Leave him alone!" Vinnie demanded as Modo dropped to his knees on the ground, holding himself.
The Plutarkian thrust the rod towards Vinnie's face. "You want some too, junior?" he asked, just itching to lay into the little twerp. Vinnie hesitated.
The Plutarkian smiled and looked back at Modo, whom he pushed over with his foot, grinding the heel of his boot into the youth's ribs. "Let that be a lesson to you." he said triumphantly. He looked up at the crowd. "The rest of you back to your rooms! Now!"
The Mice slowly dissipated, half terrified, half furious. Rose bent over Modo, helping him sit up as her son groaned uneasily. "As for you," the fish said as Modo looked angrily up at him. "Anymore trouble, and you'll get much, much worse than a little sting."
The other men gathered up their beaten comrades and began to make their way back down the hall. Throttle and Vinnie stared furiously after them, clenching and unclenching their fist as Alexis bent over Modo.
"Big bro, are you alright?" she asked.
Modo smiled at her, though he winced as his mother helped him get to his feet. "Actually little bro, I feel great." he said, looking after their enemy as they slunk away.
Two weeks passed this way, full of ignorance of the outside world and dulled by endless boredom and lethargy. Summer was upon the Mice, and being cramped in doors was not how they longed to spend their time. They ached for the freedom of their old lives, of news of the invasion, of anything that might tell them where they went from here. But for now they seemed to be stuck in a sort of limbo, cut off from the outside world.
Throttle yawned lazily and stretched out his body like a lazy house-cat, then flopped over backwards and lay on his back in the bright warm sunshine and sighed. "Ah, feel that sun, eh bros?" he asked looking towards his constant companions as they joined him out in the yard.
Vinnie sat beside him, absorbed in his CD player, music going full blast in his gigantic ears. Modo sat on the other side of him, flipping through the well-worn pages of a Biker Knight comic book.
"Huh? What'd ya say bro?" he asked absentmindedly.
Throttle chuckled and shook his head, then turned his gaze up to the orange sky. There was still no word from his father or the others. Not one in two weeks. Half dozing, Throttle thought perhaps they had escaped and were biding their time to come and rescue them.
Throttle opened an eye-lid sleepily and peered in the direction of the noise to see Alexis making her way towards them, magazine in her hand.
"Hi Al," Throttle said as she muscled her way in between Vinnie and himself, tugging at the half-open neck of her tank-top, trying to cool herself off.
"It's a warm one, ain't it?" she asked.
Throttle nodded contentedly. "So what's up?" he asked.
"I found something you guys are gonna like." she said grinning as she unrolled the book in her hand and held it up for all to see. It was a motorcycle magazine, filled with all the latest models.
At that moment Vinnie and Modo became very aware of their surroundings.
"Did someone say motorcycles?" Modo asked, his eyes full of a gleam that hadn't be seen there since they entered this place.
Vinnie made a grab over his little bro's shoulder, trying to pry the object of interest from her hands.
"Hey! I found it first!" Alexis snapped at him, yanking it out of his reach.
"So?" Vinnie asked, still trying to pull it out of her hands. Alexis thrust her palm in Vinnie's face, pushing him away.
"Where'd you get that little bro?" Modo asked curiously. "No mail has been in or out of here since we got here."
"I bought it off some kids for a couple sticks of gum." Alexis shrugged.
"Hey bros, check it out!" Throttle said suddenly, pointing out one of the center-folds.
"What a naked girl?" Vinnie asked curiously, leaning into Alexis to get a better look at the magazine, since she was holding it.
"No you perv! This!" Throttle said pointing to the picture of a stunning black Harley Davidson motorcycle.
"Dude, that's an Earth model!" Modo said, peering over top of Alexis's head, being the tallest.
"Yep, says it was manufactured from recycled Earth parts and constructed with top-of-the-line Martian technology." Alexis said, reading the description below.
"That's the one, bros. I'm gonna make her mine." Throttle said matter-of-factly.
"Yeah, how you gonna do that?" Vinnie wondered looking at his older bro.
"I've been saving up for a beauty like this since I was on training-wheels, bros. By now I've got to have enough." the tan-furred mouse replied.
"Yeah, just one problem." Modo sighed, gesturing around him. "We're in here-the bike's out there!" he said, pointing beyond the electric fences out into the open fields and desert that surrounded them.
"We'll be out of here someday." Throttle answered.
Abruptly the calm of the early summer's morning was broken by a long wail of a siren.
"What the-?" Vinnie began as they all got to their feet, looking around anxiously. The once lazy atmosphere of the shelter was suddenly alive and tense.
The other people in the yard all looked around, trying to find why the sirens were going off. Had their been a problem? Was a storm coming?
Guards began filtering out into the yard then and headed towards the Mice. "Stay where you are!" two of them said, pointing towards the kids.
Modo's tail lashed behind him nervously. He had not forgotten about that night he'd been attacked by these people, and he would not forget it anytime soon either.
"Steady..." Throttle instructed to them under his breath. "Let's see what they want."
Alexis reached out and grabbed Vinnie's hand, making the white-furred mouse blink and then blush slightly.
"Come with me." said the approaching Plutarkian.
"What's going on?" Alexis asked.
The fish shook his head and put a hand on her shoulder, ushering them forward. "Don't ask questions now, just come along." he insisted.
Modo lowered his defense just slightly. At least this guard seemed to have some manners in him. They marched slowly towards the door, and over-whelming feeling of dread and wariness filling them.
They were met with other Mice who were heading in the same direction, towards the cafeteria.
"Maybe they want to show us the new lunch menu?" Vinnie shrugged.
As they filtered into the crowded room, they met up with their families.
"Hey mom, what's going on?" Throttle asked as he and his friends made his way over to where their mothers stood, minding the youngest children.
"I don't know, honey." Jewel said adjusting Smoke on her shoulder as the baby burped and gurgled at the site of his older brother. Throttle looked at his little hair-ball of sibling disdainfully and turned his attention on Rimfire and Emily, who were climbing all over Modo.
Each exit of the room was being heavily guarded by at least six guards, and they were sure more were standing outside.
"What the hell is going on?" Relena wondered aloud as Jessie clung uneasily to her skirt.
They were about to find out.
"Quiet, you parasites!" someone roared.
The room immediately fell silent.
The Plutarkian who had shouted, the leader dressed entirely in black, smiled. "That's better." he said. He walked slowly up and down and across huddled rows of Martians smiling smugly. "You'd probably all like to know what's going on here, correct? Well, allow me to enlighten you." he said, chuckling slightly. "This shelter has come under my control. This isn't a vacation home any more boy's and girls. You're going to stay here, you're going to work. All of you. Naturally, you'll still be provided for. All able adults are to work in the mines, children ten and under will be sent to day-care and the others will be sent to our work facility. Anyone who can not work will be sent to their quarters and work found for them. Anyone who causes trouble, will be shot."
A gasp went up from the crowd.
"You can't do that!" someone shouted.
The Plutarkian's lip curled into a sneer. "I can. And I will."
"Bring out those trouble makers. Maybe we can put them to some use here." the man said.
Suddenly a group of three Martian Mice were dragged out in front of the crowd. All of them looked in pretty bad shape, ragged and dirty. Throttle suddenly recognized one of them and his heart gave a great leap.
"DAD!" he cried.
A very haggard looking Axle peered burly eyed across the crow. "Throttle?" he murmured.
Throttle broke free from his mother and ran up through the crowd, but just before he could reach his father, a whip came lashing down heavily in front of him.
"Back in line!" a hooded rat commanded.
Axle looked down at him sadly. "No, son. Don't cause any trouble." he said softly.
"But dad," the young mouse began, but then he looked warily at the rat looming in front of him. From this close he could see the other Mice close up and recognized Brutus and a few other men, but there was no sign of Stoker.
He watched numbly as his father was dragged away, followed by Alexis's guardian and many others.
"You men will be sent to the mines to begin excavation. Details will be explained later," said the man in black. The guards surrounding the doors moved forward then, pulling the adult males from their families and rounding them up like cattle and herding them from the room. Once they had gone, the remaining were escorted to their rooms.
"We'll give you sometime with your families. Tomorrow morning, all children over the age of ten will be taken to the factory to begin their jobs."
Hours later, the horrible words still echoed in Rose's head. Her only son was about to be dragged off to some God forsaken factory to do lord knows what kind of dangerous work. And what of her daughter? Her grandchildren? It was taxing on an old woman to have to think of such things. She looked over at Modo who was lying in bed next to little Rimfire. She climbed out of her bed carefully and bent down beside him and put a hand on her son's shoulder.
Modo awoke instantly at her touch and blinked up at his mother. "Mama? Somethin' the matter?" he asked.
Rose smiled at her boy. "Nothin, darlin'. But I need to talk to you." she said. Modo sat up up, looking expectantly at her.
"Modo, after tomorrow...I don't know what's going to happen to me or your sister and the kids. But there is the possibility that we won't be seeing each other for awhile." she began uneasily.
Modo took his mother's hand. "Mama, don't say things like that." he pleaded. "Everything will be alright,"
Rose looked sadly at him. "Honey, we can't pretend anymore. We're at war now, and we're prisoners of that war. There's no guarantee of what will happen next."
"Mama..." Modo began, unsure of what to say.
Rose hugged her son and scratched the place on the back of his ears as her hid his face in her shoulder. After awhile they broke apart, and Rose was surprised to see the expression on her son's face was one of the utmost determination.
"Don't you worry about a thing, Mama. I'll handle everything." he said, smiling at her.
Rose smiled and brushed a hand across his cheek. "Your daddy used to say the same thing." she said.
Modo had not gone back to sleep that night. He sat awake on the bed next to his family, watching, waiting. He was scared to be honest, but he was the man of the house now. It was his job to protect the people he loved. For a moment Modo contemplated waking Lida up so he could talk to her, but then decided against it. He wasn't sure what tomorrow had in store for them, and she would probably need all the rest she could get.
Suddenly a noise from the hall sent Modo's ears twitching and he looked up. Shouts were coming from the hall, accompanied by the sounds of heavy boots on the wooden floors. Modo jumped to his feet as the sounds were suddenly outside his door.
He felt Rimfire stand up on the bed behind him. "Uncle Modo?" he asked sleepily. Modo glanced back his nephew. "Go back to sleep, Rimmy." he said, not thinking about how absurd the suggestion was.
"Mommy?" Emily said, as Lida sat up, staring at the door. Outside they heard screams and people crying.
"Keep the kids back, sis!" Modo said rushing towards the door.
"Modo what are you doing!" Lida demanded.
The door came open with a pop and slammed against the wall as it swung open, two armed guards appearing in it's wake.
"Nobody make a move!" the fish on the left shouted.
"Don't you know it's rude to come into someone's house uninvited?" Modo snarled, cracking his knuckles.
"We don't want any trouble, kid. You and the girl come with us and nobody gets hurt." The one on the right answered. Modo recognized him as the soldier that escorted he and his bros into the cafeteria earlier that day.
"Oh someone's gonna get hurt alright. You!" Modo cried throwing himself into the man on the right. He grappled with the guard for a moment or two, but soon found himself overwhelmed when the fish pinned him to the wall, twisting his arm hard behind his back.
"Get off me!" Modo shouted.
"You leave my brother alone, you bastard!" Lida cried running toward the fish, but found herself suddenly swept up by the other guard and being hauled across his back. "Put me down!" she screamed, pounding furiously on his back.
"Mommy!" Rimfire and Emily cried as Rose held the two young mice back, watching helpless as her children were being ripped from her life.
"I'll save you mommy!" Emily said suddenly, pulling out of Rose's hold and darting across the room towards them.
"Emily no! Get back in bed!" Modo gasped, staring wide-eyed at the young girl as she began beating her tiny fist on her mother's assailant.
"You leave my mommy alone you big mean man!" she demanded.
The man looked down in irritation at the little girl. "Get off me you little runt." he snapped, swatting at her.
The fish who had Modo looked at his partner. "Let it go, man. She's just a baby."
Emily then grabbed hold of the man's hand as he swatted her and chomped down hard on it.
"AH!" the Plutarkian hissed, yanking his hand out of her mouth. "The little bitch drew blood!"
Modo thrust backwards hard against the man that held him, but could not break his grip.
The Plutarkian grabbed the little girl in his free hand and lifted her by her neck before flinging her like a rag-doll across the room.
Modo stared, eyes wide, as he watched Emily slam into the bed post and heard the sickening crack of the little girl's skull against the metal post.
"NO!" Modo roared as Emily slumped forward, blood pouring from the back of her head. Rose and Lida screamed, the grandmother bending over the little girl's broken body.
"MY BABY!" Lida screamed hysterically.
The fish that held Modo stared incredulously at his partner. "What the hell did you do that for, you jack-ass, she was just a kid!"
"MURDERERS!" Modo shouted, slamming his head back against his attacker, cracking the visor on his helmet. The guard's grip was effectively loosened, allowing Modo to break free and go after the other guard.
The man pulled his blaster from it's holster and pointed it squarely at Modo's head. "Want a piece of this rodent?" he asked.
"STAND DOWN!" The fish behind Modo shouted, wrapping an arm around Modo's throat and dragging him backwards before forcing him the ground and stepping on him to keep him there. "I SAID STAND DOWN!"
"Modo do what they say!" Rose pleaded.
Modo threw a horrified look at his mother who was holding Emily in her lap as Rimfire sat frozen on the bed.
"Go with them, Modo." she ordered.
A moment later the grey mouse and his sister was dragged from the room, leaving Rose sobbing in the aftermath.
They wrestled Modo out into the crowded hall way, where he was greeted by the sight of Throttle being dragged out of his own room, with his mother slumped in the doorway, sobbing.
"Bro!" Throttle cried looking at Modo, but he was soon thrust in the opposite direction and marched forward. Ahead of them they could see another fish with Vinnie and Jessie tossed over each shoulder, the twins screaming and kicking.
The herd of abducted Martians and their captors made their way across the yard towards the mysterious North Wing. Inside they found a large open warehouse area, scattered with miscellaneous machines and conveyer belts. The room was dark and dimly lit, and littered with Plutarkians and Rats as it slowly filled up with the captive mice.
"Bros!" Alexis cried out suddenly as she watched her friends filter into the room. She made her way over to them as Vinnie and Jessie were dumped gracelessly to the floor in a heap, followed by Throttle.
Throttle opened his arms and Alexis threw herself into them, shaking with fear. "What's going on? What are they gonna do with us?" she asked the other mouse as he held her tightly.
"I don't know, Al, I don't know." Throttle murmured.
Modo and Lida entered the room then, and the moment they tried to release Modo he turned on them again, screaming and cursing like a maniac. The guard cracked his club across Modo's head and sent the tall grey mouse to the ground unconscious.
"MODO!" Throttle and Vinnie yelled as Jessie and Alexis stared. Vinnie clambered over to his big bro as Lida slumped to the floor, sobbing, and looked his friend over.
"Is he alright?" Throttle asked, he and Alexis bending down beside him.
"He's gonna have one hell of a bump on his noggin when he wakes up." Vinnie said, touching the huge bruise that was blossoming across Modo's forehead. Alexis tore off part of her pant-leg and wrapped it around Modo's forehead and Throttle laid the big grey mouse's head in his lap and looked around him anxiously. Panic rippled through the group of huddled teenagers until a voice interrupted their fearful musings. "Listen you little brats!" someone at the head of the crowd shouted.
A hush fell over the room as they turned to see who had addressed them. The Plutarkian who had addressed them earlier that day appeared again, looking angrily out at all of them. "If you cry, we'll kill you." he warned.
Vinnie and Jessie exchanged fearful glances as they eyed the way they were all surrounded by armed guards. It might have been a bluff, but even if it was, it was effective.
"Sorry about our little surprise intrusion, but we couldn't have any of you trying to sneak out now could we? It wouldn't be fair to the other workers." he said, talking to them in a calm, matter-of-fact voice as though he were the teacher and they were his students.
"From now on my little maggots, you're not going to imagine life. You're going to experience it! We will whip those foolish childhood fantasies from your minds and teach you what life is really like. How cruel and unforgiving the world can be. So this is the run down, children," he paused and looked them over, smiling insidiously to himself. "If you work hard and do as you are told, things will go well for you. But..." he put great emphasis on that word. "If I have any trouble from you, you will be severely punished. From this moment on you no longer belong to your parents. You belong to me. For it is I who will shelter you, it is I who will feed you, it is I who will clothe you, and it is I who will care for you. Is that understood, maggots?"
The speech was met with numb silence.
The Plutarkian smiled broadly at them as they cringed and coward before him. "Very good." he said approvingly. He cracked his whip above their heads, shocking them with his sudden mood change.
There was another snapping sound, where it came from on one could be truly certain, but the next moment blows rained down on them. They felt the hot sting of the whip lashing against their flesh. There were many cries of pain and surprise as they tried to cover themselves. This only led to harder, more viscous blows. They were whipped until they bleed, and when the guards got tired, more of them came in and they bleed more.