Stoker makes his escape!
His body dripping with sweat, Stoker BlackRuby hauled up another wheel barrel full of minerals out of the mine shaft. The light on his helmet was barely enough to allow him to maintain a clear view of what was ahead.
Suddenly, then, a blinding light flashed before him. The door to the mine had opened and two figures had appeared in the doorway. If his nose wasn't clogged up with dirt and dust, he would have caught wind that they were Plutarkians.
"You!" shouted one of them, pointing a lazor directly at Stoke. Stoke looked around at a few of the other miners, though he knew it was he who had been targeted.
"Up here! Now!"
Stoker set down the wheel barrel and walked up the few wooden steps and out of the small door. This entrance was very rarely used, as it was so close to the main door. But he sighed and reserved himself to it. There was no way he could fight back, he realized.
As soon as he was pulled from the mine, the two Plutarkians grabbed hold of his arms and forced him to march across the courtyard. He could see where they were going-to the South Wing. Even from here, and even with all the dust that was in his system, he could smell the stink coming from the complex.
Stoker was forced up the long flight of stairs until they finally stopped on the third floor and made their way towards a pair of office doors. After a few minutes, the doors opened and the dirty, chocolate-furred mouse found himself face-to-face with a rather ugly looking Plutarkian. He immediately dismissed Stoker's escorts.
"Please, remain standing. I don't want dirt all over my office." The Plutarkian said off-handedly.
"Then what is it you want?" Stoker grunted.
"I understand you are Stoker BlackRuby?"
"That's right." Stoker nodded.
"Rumor is that your wife and daughter were murdered some years back."
Stoker stiffened and stared steely eyed at the Plutarkian. "Your point?"
"You tired to accuse the Plutarkians, did you not?"
"I asked you what your point was, you stink-faced bastard."
The Plutarkian pulled out a long rod and shoved it into Stoker's gut. Stoker felt a surge of electricity where it prodded him. His entire body lurched over, but the Plutarkian wouldn't let him fall. The rod was sent against his shoulder, forcing Stoker to wince backwards.
"You will learn that you can not oppose us. Not in courts nor in battle."
Stoker glared at him, then did something he did not expect. He forced his dry lips together, then released a shot of saliva. The spit went sailing across the air and landed right on the Plutarkian's face.
"Go back to Hell," Stoker cursed.
"GUARDS!" roared the Plutarkian. "Get him out of her and take him out back!"
The guards returned and hauled the Mouse down stairs. Stoker knew what was waiting for him. But for the look on the Plutarkians face when the spit smacked him...it was well worth it.
Sometime later, the door to the mine was reopened and Axle had to cover his eyes from the blinding light. A figure was thrown down onto the mine floor. Axle looked to Jewel and the pair ran over.
Stoker laid there, bloodied and bruised.
"Stoker?" exclaimed Axle. Jewel began to quickly nurse his wounds, eyes making sure the others weren't watching.
Just then, the a whistle sounded. The mines were to empty for the day. Axle and Jewel helped Stoker to his blistered feet.
They had the next forty-five minutes to reassemble with their families before they were to report to the cafeteria. The pair helped Stoker over to the medical room, located at the foot of the North Wing, and run by a few nurses and a couple of doctors they had rounded up.
Rose, who was there with young Rimfire, gasped at the sight of Stoker's mangled body. "Oh no," she gasped, hugging her grandson.
One of the doctors came running out to greet them.
"We'll get you some bandages right away, Mr. BlackRuby," he assured as Axle handed the injured mouse over to him.
"You're in good hands, Stoke." the tan-furred mouse assured his friend.
"Axle..." started Stoker as he reached for Axle's hand.
"What is it, bro?"
"When they were beating me...I realized something." he said with a painful smile.
"What?" Axle asked, looking at him carefully.
"I'm getting the fuck outta this...outta this place..."
Axle looked at him with concerned eyes but sighed. There was no way out of here. They were trapped.
Much later that night, four guards walked into the Medical room and handed a few papers to the over night doctor. He looked them over and started to protest. As soon as he did, a lazor pistol was produced.
The doctor sighed and stepped aside. The four of them made their way over to Stoker's bed and pulled the Martian from his sleep. Stoker, barely able to move, was forced out into the courtyard. He was then thrown down onto the ground. His bandages were removed and each of the Plutarkians spat on him, their thicky gooey salvia dosing his body in germs.
As they walked off, Stoker smiled and found himself laughing at them. A slight chuckle, this soon turned into a full-force laugh. The Plutarkians either didn't hear or didn't care, because they just kept on walking. Finally, Stoker was somehow able to get enough strength to lift himself up.
He grabbed hold of a rock and chucked it at one of the guards. It smacked him right in the back of the head. The guard spun around and ran right towards Stoker.
With one swift kick across the face, the brown-furred mouse was unconscious.
With a smile on his face.
As dawn broke, Stoker was literally thrown in the Medical room. Over the next few hours, Stoker slowly regained some of his strength. But sadly, the wounds had received multiple infections due to being left out in the open all night without bandages.
Strangely, the next day, Stoker insisted on going back to the mines. Axle had protested a number of times as Stoker pushed more wheel barrels of rocks up to the surface, then went at breaking up more. But Stoker wouldn't listen.
"I know you're up to something," he said after the third day. It was nearing dusk and the day was over.
"Do you?" Stoker said, a mischievous smile on his worn and bruised face.
"Yeah. I saw you take some rocks today, Stoke, when the guards weren't looking. You stuffed them in your pockets. Stoker, you can't risk pissing off anyone else. Your wounds are barely even healed!"
"Don't you worry about it, Axle. I've got it under control."
As soon as he said that, however, Stoker's left leg gave out. Axle barely caught him in time. "Right. Sure you do."
He helped his friend back to his room. "Are you sure you'll be okay?"
"I'll be fine," Stoker answered. "But I need some sleep."
Axle nodded and left Stoker alone. As soon as the door shut, he sighed and laid down on the crappy little cot he had been assigned. Then he pulled off his boots.
They never checked his boots.
He ripped open the soles and found a butterfly knife in each one. Stoker smiled and then looked at the pile of rocks he had gathered. "Tomorrow's gonna be fun," he muttered as he drifted off to sleep.
Far away from the concerns of Stoker BlackRuby, Dominic T. Stilton sat back in his chair and looked at the large screen in front of him.
"This is nice," he told himself, munching on a small bowl of slime worms.
The map displayed current military patterns. The Sand Raiders were moving West, pushing South of where Sentry City once was. It, like Hellfire, had been bought out by the Plutarkians. Most of the population had been killed or placed in prison camps that were run by Plutarkians with hired San Raiders and Rats to keep the Martians under control.
"Sir," announced his secretary, "we're getting a call from President Dorlin."
"Patch it through."
The screen changed quickly to show the President's worn face. "Stilton, I..."
"Hello, Mr. President. Love what you've done with the military. I'm glad to see where you've moved them. Right out of harms way, just as it should be. Nice to know money buys loyalty."
"Or the opposite." Dorlin sighed. "I can't believe I'm being paid to keep my own people going in the wrong direction."
"What you're being paid for, President Dorlin," began Stilton, "is to keep your Martian military forces away from the Plutarkians and Sand Raider forces. When we're done here, you'll be the richest man on Mars."
The President smiled meekly. "Thank you, sir."
"No, Mr. President, thank you."
The screen clicked off. Stilton frowned sourly and pressed a button and his assistant Harold entered. "Sir?"
The Plutarkian over-lord stood up and paced the room. "Dorlin's loyalty is wavering. I want him taken care of."
"But what about the military, sir? Without Dorlin, won't they start moving against us?"
"Harold," Stilton began, "there are many other in the Martian government on my payroll other than Dorlin. Others that will gladly take their fair share of Dorlin's price."
Stoker had a plan. After eating an extra-large breakfast, the Martian Mouse headed towards the mines. But as the large crowd began to enter, his eyes fell upon the huge concrete barrier that had been installed behind the courtyard. As the top of the wall, were three electrically-charged lines that ran the length of the wall.
This was the only side of the camp that had the wall; the rest of it hadn't been installed yet. But Stoker needed it for his plan.
As Stoker pushed a wheel barrel out of the mines, he inwardly grinned, knowing what was to come. Inside the barrel was an explosive compound. It would take a lot to ignite it, true, but he was up for that little challenge.
He turned to the generator that charged the three lines. There was a large cable that led up to the lines. While it was rather big, it was lose at the ends. Stoker glanced around, then pulled out a pointed and quiet sharp rock from his pocket. Quickly, he targeted the lose part of the cable-then let the stone fly.
It struck right on target. The cable flopped around for a bit, smacking against the concrete wall.
His eyes saw that the guards realized what was going on. Stoker didn't have much time. His body still aching from his previous injuries, he pushed the wheel barrel forward.
Stoker's body lurched in pain then as he felt a hot beam of lazor energy strike his back. But he did not yield. He kept moving-faster and faster-towards the flip-flopping cable that sparked wildly.
"Just like a fish out of water," Stoker whispered, grinning oddly at the irony.
He felt another beam strike his shin and Stoker was about to give out when...he ran the wheel barrel right into the cable. It writhed against the material.
Stoker barely covered his face as the explosion rocked the whole camp. The Martian was tossed into the air and landed amongst the debris.
His eyes barely working, he caught sight of the wall-now with a huge shattered section. There was another fence just beyond it, but he wasn't too worried about it.
As Stoker was about to stand up, he felt a hand grab his wrist. It was a Plutarkian. Somehow...out of instinct...he pulled out his knife and dug it into the fat fish's throat. Blood spurted out and Stoker grabbed hold of the fish as lazor fire began to pour at him.
While using the dead body as a shield, the chocolate-furred mouse yanked out its lazor and returned fire. He kept missing, though. He was in bad shape. He pulled back to the fence and turned around, opening part of the last fence and making a run for it.
"AFTER HIM!" screamed the guards.
Stoker feet thundered against the sand, he pushed his way to freedom. Anywhere was better than here, anywhere.
Suddenly, though, a few lazor blasts rang out. A pair of Sand Raider jeeps appeared behind him. One was a few feet ahead of the other. He sighed and prepared himself. Eyes locked on the first jeep, he fired his lazor. He struck one of the Sand Raiders right in the chest.
As the jeep started to go out of control, Stoker mustered his strength and ran for it. He leapt on and threw the body off. A second Sand Raider, he found, was on this vehicle. He knocked him off and sent the Dog flying across the sands.
With these two taken care of, Stoker roared the engine forward. He was still being chased. But Stoker then came up with another idea. He slowed the engine down, allowing the jeep to come up right beside him.
He peered over and saw the Rat who was driving, and realized he was the only one there. Stoker yanked out his knife then and sent it spinning at the Rat. He yelped in pain as it sliced him across the arm. Stoker took advantage of this and shot off the steering wheel, watching as the vechicle went spinning out control.
The Martian slammed his foot onto the gas, and broke away.
He was free.
Some hours later, Cody Orion was looking out at the evening crowd with sadness in his eyes. Other than a few regulars, it was just about empty. With Hellfire City just about completely evacuated, business had taken a nose-dive. Then...there were the letters.
He sighed and tossed a new batch of death threats and offers into the trash bag, which he then scooped up and tied close. Tawny gave him a sad smile as he walked out the backdoor towards the dumpster. As Cody chucked the bag of trash into the large metal box, he heard a meek voice call out his name.
Cody spun around and found himself face-to-face with none other than Stoker himself.
"Stoker! I was so worried about you!"
Stoker didn't answer and just collapsed into Cody's arms. Cody turned to the door as he tried to grasp his best friend.
"TAWNY!" he yelled. "I NEED SOME HELP OUT HERE!"
The tan-furred female came rushing to the door, wondering what had happened, when she saw Cody gathering Stoker's limp figure up in his arms and rushing towards the door.
"Oh my God, Stoke! Is he-" she began worriedly, staring at the wounded Mouse in her friend's arms.
Cody swept past her; "Close the doors, get everyone out." he said shortly as he rushed Stoker past one or two bar flies that were huddled in the back corner of the bar and into his bedroom off the main floor.
"Sorry guys, I gotta throw you out." Tawny said following behind him, shooing away customers.
"Some service..." grunted one of the drunks.
"But we didn't even pay our tab yet..." his companion slurred. Tawny was practically dragging them to the door.
"It's on us! Goodnight, gentlemen, see you tomorrow!" she said, pushing them out the front door and locking it behind them. She turned off the lights to ensure no one else would come looking for a late-night buzz and then came sprinting back to Cody's room.
Cody had Stoker laid out on his bed and was in the process of stripping him of his filthy and blood-stained clothing.
"Cody what are you-?" Tawny began.
"Get me some hot water, the first aid kit, and a bottle of whiskey from under the bar." Cody instructed her without looking up from his work.
Tawny blinked. "What do you want the whiskey for?" she asked curiously.
"Just get it, sugar, please." Cody said shortly.
Tawny sighed, and did as she was told. A moment later she returned with all these items in hand and set them down on Cody's night stand, looking worriedly down at Stoker's unconscious form.
"What happened to him?" she asked fearfully.
Cody hissed loudly when he peeled away Stoker's shirt and saw huge bruises and welts littering his chest. "Something very unpleasant I'd gather." Cody said as he began to clean and disinfect the area.
After about twenty minutes, Stoker's massive wounds had been cleaned, medicated, and bound to Cody's satisfaction. "We should take him to a hospital, Cody. He could have broken bones." Tawny said.
"There isn't anything left, sugar. We'd have to drive for miles to get to the next town, and I won't risk moving him in this condition." the sandy-furred mouse said, taking the bottle of whiskey from night-stand and holding it to Stoker's lips.
"Come on, bro...wakey-wakey." Cody coaxed, pouring a few drops of the fiery liquid down Stoker's throat.
The chocolate-furred mouse coughed and blinked, gazing at Cody with unfocused eyes.
"There you are, sunshine!" Cody said, smiling as he set the bottle aside.
"Cody...?" Stoker said, his voice weak and hoarse. "Where am I?" he asked.
"Safe and sound." Cody assured him as Tawny sat down next them.
"Hey, hot stuff." she said looking at him.
Stoker gave her a weak smile. "Hey, beautiful."
"Stoker, what happened to you?" Cody asked, growing serious.
The chocolate-furred mouse struggled to remain conscious, but the darkness was quickly winning the battle. "Escaped...from the shelter...not a shelter...prisoner..." he managed before sinking back into blissful sleep.
"What did that mean?" Tawny asked looking to Cody.
"It means some bad mojo is going down at there, sweetheart. Really, really bad mojo." Cody replied softy.