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Psychro Always Gets His Man...Dora
Part Three

As they sprinted across the road, from government building to science and technology building, Mandora could tell that the situation was looking very bleak for the Equine people. One of the large Mutant warships was making a beeline towards the main buildings, and she knew that it wouldn't be long before shock troops were beamed down to the surface. Mutants were dreadfully predictable in their warfare, but also eerily efficient.

Her brain was in the process of calculating which planets in the immediate vicinity might be called on to help defend Equidarr, and what protocols would be needed to get their support. Added in to those figures was the time required to gather enough troops and get to the planet in the first place. Plundarr might be able to hold off the liberation for a little while with a few loopholes, but she doubted there was anything resembling a legal team among the Mutants of Plundarr.

Of course, how long the Equines would be able to hold off their Mutant attackers would be dependant entirely on the size of the Mutant and Equine armies respectively. The former would certainly have a weapons advantage, but the latter knew the terrain and all its quirks better.

They entered the laboratory and she followed Fastwynd through the halls to the room where the Electrocharger and Psychro's Space Babe' were. They had started disassembling what was left of both vehicles following the horrendous crash, but Mandora could see instantly that her motorcycle's communication system was still operable. "This is evil chaser first class Mandora to the Interplanetary Control Force. Is anyone listening?" she spoke into the microphone, counting the seconds anxiously for a response.

"This is Bran, of the Interplanetary Control Force, please state authorization code," a male voice crackled over the radio. She'd never met the man, but that didn't mean much. She had very little to do with the dispatchers outside of radio contact.

She also really didn't have time for protocols, much as she hated to admit that, she liked her protocols, they were what made everything run so efficiently. The Mutants might overwhelm the building at any moment and she needed to get the message out. "Mandora Two Alpha One Five Foxtrot. We have a critical situation, code theta yellow, at the following co-ordinates. Hostile assault by Plundarrian Mutants against friendly forces on the planet of Equidarr. No, it's not on your star charts, I will file a full report later," she said before Bran could say anything. "Their leader has requested Control aid in preventing the enslavement and/or extermination of their people."

"I will pass it on to high command. Try and keep safe, support will be there as soon as possible."

"Affirmative. I will attempt to keep this frequency open, but I can't promise anything," she said. Taking the communication system out would be difficult, but not impossible. Certainly, the benefit of having a means of communicating with the outside world outweighed the precious time it would take to remove it from the Electrocharger itself. It had a built in power supply for just such an emergency.

"Now what?" Psychro asked.

Mandora considered that for a second, as she began detaching the unit. There were really two options, three if she thought surrendering was viable, they could either hole up somewhere secure and hold off their attackers or run and hide. Neither was a particularly good strategy against the Mutants and their warships. The ships could simply blow up any hiding spot they chose, and the terrain was wide open and flat, meaning that they would be visible immediately from the air. She chose the lesser of two evils. "Do you have anywhere that can be defended? Preferably somewhere with a back door and low to the ground." There was a greater chance that the Mutants wanted prisoners, especially herself and Psychro if Reptos was in command yet.

"There's an emergency bunker in the military headquarters. It has a force field generator and a tunnel that leads out of the city. Arra and Storm were sending as many as they could in that direction. Arra! I hope she's okay," Fastwynd started for the door.

She had her doubts, but didn't say it. The Mutants might not be very bright, but they would notice if crowds of people were headed for one building. Mandora had hoped for something less conspicuous. She had just finished wrenching the communications unit from the Electrocharger when a pair of Simians burst through the door. "Hoo, hoo! A Lunatak and Mandora!" one shouted.

His friend jumped up and down, smacking his club into the floor in an attempt at intimidating the trio. Obviously they were wanting to take prisoners, and were hoping to bully them into submission. The first Simian started to reach for his radio when Psychro attacked, armed with a screwdriver he'd found on the table. He jabbed it into the Mutant's muscled thigh and swung his other hand, catching him across the jaw. The ape howled and stumbled backwards, distracting his partner long enough for Mandora to join in. Mandora kicked hard, blasting the air out of the ape's stomach, and then punched him hard with her free hand.

"Use your gun, Fastwynd. Snap out of it!" Psychro spat, seeing that the black stallion hadn't budged from his spot since the Mutants first came through the door. He'd clearly never used a gun before, and his arms shook. In an instant Psychro knew that he needed more motivation, so he hit below the belt. "Don't let Arra down! She needs a strong man."

It worked. Fastwynd's gun fired paralysing bolts of energy that rocked both Simian Mutants. Psychro took the club from one of them and stepped aside so that the Equine could lead the way.

They met a little more resistance as they went through, which meant that the full scale invasion had begun. As Mandora had surmised, the Mutants had pinpointed the three large buildings and decided that these should be the focus of their assault. Fastwynd's gun proved useful, but most of the opposition likewise was carrying distance weapons. When they reached the main entrance they saw Geckren and a group of six Jackalmen beating up a white smocked Equine. Fastwynd managed to fire off two shots before Geckren's men were able to recover.

"Take them alive!" the Reptile shouted, grinning widely as Psychro sprinted closer. Knowing that the vile Lunatak who had slept with his sister was still alive made this combat more satisfying. For all their vaunted technology and their holier-than-thou' attitude regarding the purity of their race, the Equines were pathetically easy to rout. Geckren had been told that their four space worthy ships had been decimated within minutes, one falling apart even as it burst through the atmosphere. He blocked Psychro's club with his axe, and swung his tail to trip Psychro's feet.

"I just got better tail out of you than I did your sister," Psychro chuckled, jumping lightly over the attack. Reptilians were known to like using their tail as an unexpected' weapon in a fight. The problem was that they used it so often it rendered itself almost useless. A tail swing only served now to put the Reptile off balance and facing the wrong direction. Psychro swept his club across and walloped Geckren in the shoulder. There was a satisfying sound of wood hitting muscle and the Mutant staggered, clutching at his now throbbing arm.

"Save the banter, Psychro," Mandora shouted, tackling a Jackalman who was bent on catching the Lunatak hybrid from behind.

"Ah, you're no fun, Manny," he replied, but did as she said. Geckren was recovering quickly, and they were still outnumbered here. The adrenaline rush was starting to fade in Fastwynd, his shots were coming less frequently, and were starting to become less accurate too. If he was honest with himself, Psychro would concede that he wasn't hitting quite as strong as he had been when they'd met the Simians in the lab. The club was helping a little, but he was almost tempted to retrieve the gun from the Equine leader.

Fortunately they had now gained a fourth member of their party, the scientist's presence had been forgotten about long enough for him to recover and throw him onto Geckren's back. With the Reptile now fully distracted, Psychro swung the club as hard as he could at his knees. Geckren let out an ear splitting scream as bone and club shattered, shards of the latter showering around them. Psychro turned to evaluate how his friends were doing. Mandora was finishing off her third Jackal, while the remaining three seemed to be recovering from various laser wounds, which meant that they had a chance to catch their breaths.

"We'll never get to the safehold," Fastwynd moaned, peeking through the doors at the streets. Mutants were everywhere, mostly dealing with prisoners. Psychro knew that he was right. Going out into the streets now would be akin to turning themselves over. He hoped that those inside the stronghold could last a while.

"Don't panic," Mandora said sternly. "Once Control gets here..."

"Don't panic? My wife's out there! My friends. We'll all be enslaved or killed before your precious Control gets here," Fastwynd sputtered. Psychro slapped him, doing what Mandora wanted to do but couldn't.

"We can't go out that way, are there any other ways out?" Mandora asked.

"There's the roof hatch and the receiving doors," Psychro said, when Fastwynd didn't reply. The shock of the situation was too much for him, and the Lunatak pried the gun from his hands. Luckily the weapon still had half a battery pack left.

"There's also a door further along this hall, but that's where these Mutants caught me," the scientist said, trying to be helpful.

"We can't use the roof without being spotted at this point, I'll wager. I suggest the receiving area might be our only way out. Question is, where do we go from there? Obviously we'll never get to the safe house," Psychro said as the group cautiously made their way back the way they'd come. "Try and take over someone's home?"

"Fastwynd. You said that the safe house has a tunnel that leads out of the city. Could it be used to get in?" Mandora said suddenly, her words snapping the stallion out of his daze for a moment, as though the possibility of being re-united with Arra rejuvenated him.

"Yes. I suppose it could. We'd need to get out of the city to the east without being seen. There's a small river in the middle of a narrow gully. The exit is there. But if the Mutants figure out where we're going..."

"I know. It's our best bet. You carry the radio, let me know if anyone calls," she said. She had put it down during the fight, but now handed it over.

The receiving area was empty of people when they got there, and Mandora moved to the door. Her helmet didn't detect any signs of Mutants immediately outside, but that didn't mean there weren't any around. She called up the map of the city on her helmet's computer and examined it carefully. There was a laneway that cut across this side of the building. One way went to the front of the building where they knew Mutants were stationed. The other led to a parking lot that backed onto a residential area. That seemed to be the only route open to them at the moment. It was going to be risky, being out in the open wasn't a good place to be during a hostile invasion, but it beat waiting in some room to be found. She raised the garage door and slid out first, followed by Psychro, Fastwynd, and Emgee the scientist.

The coast was clear. Moving quickly the quartet moved along the edge of the building until they reached the laneway. Mandora looked around the corner while Psychro kept his eyes trained in the other direction. "Let's go," she hissed.

Now that they were in the parking lot, Mandora could more fully analyse the situation. The fences leading into the backyards of the various houses were at least six feet high, easily scaled by herself and, she suspected, Psychro. Fastwynd and Emgee would probably have to be helped over, but that couldn't be avoided. However, if the Mutants were following form, they were probably ransacking the houses they came to, looking for people hiding. They would have some kind of thermal scanning, meaning that the quartet couldn't stay long hidden in any of them. A break to get some food would be nice, though. She knew that if she was feeling hungry that her companions probably were too. Neither she nor Psychro had had breakfast before the commotion, and it was probably a little after lunchtime now. "Pick a house. We can afford five minutes inside to grab what we need. We'll need food if we're going to make it safety," she said. She didn't like stealing, but there were guidelines that allowed it under particular circumstances. The owners would be reimbursed at the end. "While you three get food, I'll see if I can raise Control and get an update."

Emgee nodded brightly. "I have a friend who lives in that one with all the red lawn furniture," he said, pointing.

"Good. Then we break for it on the count of three. One... Two... Three!" The parking lot felt as though it was a mile wide, as they ran from the safety of the building towards that distant yard. They tried to keep low, and zipped between the various cars, until they finally made it. As Mandora had suspected, a lifetime of fleeing from angry fathers and more than one police officer had given some skill in scaling fences. He clambered to the top with ease and, with Mandora's help at the bottom, reached down to get Fastwynd and Emgee over to the other side.

As it turned out, getting into the house was easier than expected. When the occupants had fled, they had used the back door and left it ajar. Mandora chose not to speculate on whether Emgee's friend had escaped or not. Immediately Psychro and Fastwynd went to the kitchen to get food, while Emgee ran through the house to confirm that indeed everyone had left. The evil chaser let them do their business while she focussed on the radio. No transmissions had come through it yet, which in itself wasn't promising. "This is evil chaser first class Mandora to the Interplanetary Control Force. Respond please," she said, wondering if the Mutants had some sort of radio jamming field. They weren't known for such technology, but it would be easy enough to acquire.

"This is Dow Winnegan of the Interplanetary Control Force, we copy you, Mandora."

"Requesting an update on the Equidarr situation. When can we expect back-up?"

"One moment. I'll transfer you to relief expert Tranzis." Silence reigned as the call was forwarded to one of the relief effort specialists, presumably the one who had been assigned to handle her particular situation. Unlike some of the other people at Control, Mandora had actually worked with Tranzis before. The effort had been in vain, a humanoid race with batlike wings that lived underwater had been exterminated before the necessary relief efforts could be mounted. There had been a sole survivor who died from injuries about a month later. It was a blemish on both their records and they'd been through a lengthy inquiry to determine what had gone wrong. Mandora knew she had a personal stake in this instance not following suit.

"Relief expert Tranzis speaking. This is Mandora, right? Okay. I've got the file in front of me on your code theta yellow. We've got one of our reserve groups on the way, as well as two detachments from Bunndarr. There are two more detachments being assembled on other allied worlds, and another group with a supply train in case this goes longer. I was actually just speaking to the liaison who's negotiating with the Mutants of Plundarr and it's not looking promising. They're trying to argue that this is an internal matter, given that the Equines used to be part of their people. Heck, your presence is about the only thing that's gotten us this far along. You're looking at tomorrow at best," the woman's voice crackled over the radio.

It was as good as it could get, Mandora knew. While Control had a small army of their own, comprised of volunteers from their supporting worlds, they mostly relied on the goodwill of planets to support them in any military conflicts. Plundarr wasn't well liked, thankfully, so support was coming freely, but Mandora had seen it happen where planets were reluctant to get involved in someone else's affairs. Bunndarr was actually a prime example. Their situation mirrored that of the Equines, except that their flight from Plundarr had come with Control's assistance many many years ago. She had known that they would be the first to help in sticking it to Plundarr under the circumstances. "Thank you. I still owe you a drink, get me off of here and I'll repay it," Mandora said.

"It's a deal," the woman sounded amused even as she signed off.

Well, at least they had an update. It wasn't the great news, but it wasn't terribly bad either. A day would give the Mutants a chance to gain a foothold on Equidarr and gather enough hostages to make an assault awkward. Psychro handed her a loaf of bread and an apple as he came in from the kitchen. "Thought you might need some grub too," he said, crunching on his own apple.

"Thanks," she replied. She hadn't actually given much thought to her own needs, like a good cop was supposed to do. "We'd better keep moving. Control says we can expect some relief tomorrow at the earliest."

"We just have to hope it's not too late," Psychro said. Once Fastwynd and Emgee joined them, Mandora scouted outside the front. There were a few Mutants out and about, but most of them seemed to be focussed on the military building. The foot patrols would be a problem, though. She was willing to bet, too, that soon the Mutants would begin looting the buildings, which made staying put a foolish move.

"Stay close to the buildings. If the Mutants see us, we'll have to run for it. Move quickly and quietly and hope for the best," Mandora instructed the three. She watched as a motley group of two Reptiles and a Rat walked by and counted to thirty for them to get far enough away to hopefully not see them. "Okay. Let's go."

The Equines had given up on the gods of Plundarr when they'd left, believing that they didn't want any part of a god that would sanction what happened on that mudball of a planet. Instead they had adopted heroes; people like Wynd and more. Fastwynd's parents had even named him after the famous hero. He wasn't certain what the afterlife was like and whether the heroes of old watched down over their descendants, but if they were then they were surely smiling down on himself and Emgee as they ran silently down the streets.

Mandora led the way, Psychro taking a rearguard position, using her helmet to spy patrols before the patrols saw them, and they hid in the shadows of buildings when necessary. The city, in hindsight, really hadn't been laid out very well. Streets went every which direction, depending on the whims of the builders. This made their escape easier in some ways, but also made it that much harder to see patrols in time.

Luck seemed to be on their side, overall and they were venturing nearer and nearer to the city limits. They heard an explosion, somewhere behind them, and very faintly they heard cheering. His heart leapt to his throat, imagining that they had somehow managed to blow up the safe haven and were cheering the deaths of so many Equines. There would be plenty of those anyway, he realized, as they came across yet another horse. This one was a young woman, a crowbar lay a few inches from where she'd fallen and it wasn't hard to guess what had happened. She had tried to defend her homeland and paid for it. "There'll be time to grieve later," Psychro said, almost colliding with him.

The outsider was right, as he was realizing that the two of them had been for most of the time they'd been here. These two had known the pitfalls that their lifestyle could lead to, they had foreseen this coming. But they had also led their oppressors to them. The thought appeared unbidden in his head, and he realized that it was true. During conversation, Mandora had mentioned that Reptos and his men had attacked them shortly before their ship had crashed on Equidarr. Reptos must have followed them and brought the might of the Mutant armada down on them.

No. Arra would not approve of him thinking that way. These people had tried to help, he'd actually liked Mandora and felt guilty about sentencing her to die. They might have brought the Mutants, but they hadn't done it on purpose. He swore that, if they made it out alive, that he would implement all of Mandora's suggestions to prevent a future tragedy like this.

The groups of Mutants were becoming fewer and fewer as they went further through the city, though there were still ships circling overhead. Finally they reached the last of the houses and saw the wide open fields that surrounded the city. Mandora stopped the group and they ducked into a garage.

"Okay, Fastwynd, this is your country. Where do we need to go from here?" Mandora said, confident that their location was secure for the time being.

"Two miles. That way," he pointed. "We'll hit the gully at that point and then it should be a five minute run to the entrance of the tunnel."

"That's two miles out in the open. Exposed to any ships that happen to fly overhead. I don't like it."

"We don't have much choice," Psychro said. "We'll just have to cover that ground as quick as we can. Unless you've got a holoprojector on you."

"I don't. They're not standard issue. All right then, I'll take a look to see if anyone's nearby."

Present day

"Hey, why didn't you just take one of those cars? Wouldn't that be faster than running all over the countryside?" a rangy Darkling lass asked.

Psychro took a moment, wondering how he was going to finish his story if people kept interrupting him. He glanced at his watch and knew that he had enough time to finish and get to his hotel room, though, before that girl arrived. Would she let him tie her up and call her Chilla? "We thought about it, as I'll explain, once I go to the bathroom. Back in a second."

Four weeks, two days ago

Mandora looked around at the scene. There were no Mutants on the ground near them, and the nearest ship was some distance away. That could change in an instant, though, and she knew it. It was almost tempting to take a car, Psychro could probably hot wire one, but that made their chance of discovery greater. She was willing to wager that the exit to the tunnel wouldn't be big enough to conceal a car, and a lone car sitting in the middle of nowhere was akin to sending up a flare saying Mutants look here for escapees.' Even if they drove it along the road for a while it would give some Jackalman a place to start sniffing around for their scent. Finally she waved to the others and they set a brisk pace, walking through the tall grass towards that distant gully.

Ellis screamed as she was dragged from the crowd by a Simian Mutant. The prisoners had, thus far, been divided into men, women, and children. The men were shackled and many were beaten for sport. The women were pressed into preparing meals for their oppressors if they were lucky. With the government building completely taken, the Mutants had decided to celebrate their conquering of Equidarr. Since a feast was already in preparation, they just changed the occasion. More than one woman had been dragged away to be pressed into other, more despicable, service.

Reptos, who was currently in command of the occupation, was in a foul mood. There was no sign of either Psychro or Mandora, about the only piece of good news Ellis had heard, since Geckren's report. "Hoo, hoo, here she is, sir," the Simian said, pushing her down on to the ground at the feet of the two Reptiles.

"You are the one who befriended Psychro, yes?" Reptos asked, looking down at her. He had seen her at the trial, she realized horrified. Seeing little point in denying it she nodded. "Good. Did he tell you why we were chasing him? It's because of what he did to my sister; he used her for his pleasure and then tossed her aside. No one does that to a member of my family."

Psychro had slept with this man's sister? Had there actually been some truth in what he and Mandora had said? Then she thought was he going to punish her for her association with Psychro or try and use it against him?' Neither prospect was very promising, and she shuddered under his vile gaze. "So, you grasp the situation then. We're going to use you as bait, lure Psychro and Mandora out of hiding or watch you die a slow and painful death. Bring her."

They dragged her out in front of the military headquarters where a fiendish looking machine sat. "This is called the four winds. It slowly tears a body and scatters the pieces to the four winds. We know that Psychro has a radio, and we are sending a message through every channel that if he doesn't turn himself in by the time we have our feast, you will suffer on his behalf. If he does, however, you will be free and *he* will be our entertainment." The Simian and a fellow ape shackled her in place. "For the next five hours, this will be your home. You'd better hope that your boyfriend still loves you, yes?" The Mutants chuckled and wandered away to broadcast their message.

Ellis sobbed uncontrollably, her body shaking with every sniffle. She didn't want to die, but she couldn't bear the thought of Psychro's death either. She cursed the Mutants. She cursed their very existence and prayed for a miracle.

Psychro counted themselves lucky that there were four scraggly trees clumped near each other, midway through their trek. It granted them a little bit of shelter, and they felt confident enough that they wouldn't be seen very well from the air. Besides, he couldn't speak for the others but his lungs were begging for rest. They were in the middle of their break when Reptos' message crackled over the radio.

"This message is for Psychro of House Myntaello. We have Ellis here, and we will be executing her in five hours unless you surrender yourself to us. And if anyone should turn him in, well, they will be spared our wrath and be rewarded greatly!"

"You! You're the one that brought this down on us!" Emgee growled, jabbing a finger in the Lunatak's chest. "We would still be happy and free if it weren't for you."

"Hey! You think I wanted this?" Psychro replied, rapidly trying to digest what had been said. It was plain as the nose on his face that it was a trap, but it was a good one. If he didn't surrender himself then he was signing Ellis' death warrant, and if he did then he was signing his own. Control wouldn't get there until it was too late, which meant that her only hope was a daring rescue. He had been hoping that she had managed to get to safety in time with many of the others.

"All he did was speed up the inevitable. I'm not happy about it either, but..." Fastwynd started.

"No. And if Emgee feels this way, then so will others. The safe house isn't safe anymore," Mandora said.

"Not for me. But for you three it should be fine," Psychro said, swallowing. He would go back to the city. He had four hours to rescue her before he had to bite the bullet and turn himself in. Maybe, just maybe, the Mutants wouldn't kill him right away. He might be able to use his powers to convince them to prolong things until such time as Control arrived. Of course, the Mutants were just spiteful enough that they might kill him rather than let him get away once the proverbial calvary arrived. "You go on. I'll think of something." He started to turn around, but felt Mandora's hand on his shoulder.

"That's very noble of you, but you're still my responsibility. The law is the law, no matter the circumstances. Besides, I doubt I'd be much more welcome than you there. Fastwynd, you know the way. I'm trusting you to get Emgee and yourself to safety. Take the radio with you, Control will advise you better than I can at this point," she said.

He felt a thrill of pleasure run through him at the touch. Psychro knew that his standing in her eyes had just gone up a notch, and that if they got out of this alive... The two horses took off through the grass and he faced Mandora again. "Thanks," he said, squeezing her hand. The gesture said many things, that he appreciated the help and the company, that he was sorry for being a jerk, and that he still lusted after her.

She nodded, understanding all of it. "Let's go save Ellis."

It took all of about thirty minutes, moving at a reasonable pace, for Psychro and Mandora to reach the city again, arriving back at the same neighbourhood they had left from. They would need, they realized, to get close to the execution location, but for the time being could afford to sit in one of the outlying houses and plan. Mandora pointed out, and rightly so, that if the Mutants were going to be doing any looting of houses it would be the ones in the immediate vicinity. For now, being out here, was safe.

"I've counted at least seven large Mutant ships," Mandora said. "If each has a standard compliment of about a hundred and twelve soldiers, and they transport everyone but a skeleton crew of eighteen down to the surface, then that leaves us to deal with at least six hundred and fifty Mutants. That's assuming a typical situation."

"I'm good in a fight but that's a lot even for me."

"For me too. What we need is to create a diversion, sneak in and free her."

"She's not the only hostage they have, is the problem. They've got an entire city they could threaten to kill. I'm big on saving my own neck, but I don't feel right letting that many people die for me. What kind of diversion did you have in mind? I might be able to create some property damage. A fire might catch their attention long enough," Psychro said, thinking hard. Certainly he would be able to do that much. They would need to hot wire a vehicle to get them close to Ellis, free her, and run. As stupid as he thought the Mutants were, it wouldn't take six hundred people to put out a fire.

Mandora saw the same flaw in his plan. "That won't work. Reptos would never leave Ellis that unguarded," she said.

"Wait a minute. The Mutants have teleportation technology. You said yourself that the ships will have a skeleton crew of eighteen. We can take eighteen people on. If we can get our hands on a pair of those teleport bracelets, we're set. Beam up, commandeer the ship, beam Ellis right out of whatever they've got her in."

Her eyes lit up. "That's just plausible enough to work," she said. "It would have to be quick, and we'd have to immediately teleport the three of us to another location. The other Mutant ships would be liable to beam people over to our new ship if we took too long. So all we have to do now is wait."

Psychro watched the approaching trio of Mutants with trepidation. A skinny Rat followed by two Simians, walking close together down the street and carrying some sort of flask that they were gleefully passing between them. They needed to take those Mutants out quickly, before any of them could call for help. Currently Mandora had the rifle, which meant that he could use the trick up his sleeve. She was in position by the living room's window, barrel of the gun sticking out. She gave him the thumb's up that she was ready and he placed his hand on the doorknob.

Even as the first shot was fired, Psychro was flinging open the door and running towards the Mutants. "Hey, stupid faces, look at me!" he shouted, flailing his arms and using just enough of his hypnotic charm to draw their attention to him. He figured the odds were about fifty/fifty that they would have looked in his direction anyway, he just wanted to better them. While he moved, the Rat took an energy bolt in the heart, killing him instantly. The Simians fared little better, one being hit in the shoulder and hip, while the other got hit in the groin and arm. Psychro looked back at the house, somewhat astounded by Mandora's sharpshooting, and proceeded finish the apes off.

It was a necessary task, but not one he was accustomed to doing. Normally when he had his hands on a throat it was part of making a woman's toes curl, but he knew the basics behind snapping a neck. If there had only been two Mutants, he might not have done it. Two Mutants would mean two communicators. They couldn't leave any of their foes with one, in case the Simians warned their comrades before the duo could stage their rescue. Psychro wasn't entirely sure on how the Mutant technology worked, but suspected that a flag might be raised if there were two signals in the exact same location. "It's the red button to recall back to the ship," he said. "Let's just hope they're from the same one."

The look on Mandora's face showed that she hadn't considered the possibility, however faint. It was conceivable that two Mutants from different ships would be hanging out together. "If they are, try to gain control of the bridge. One of us needs to survive."

"Good luck. Let's push it in three, two, one!"

She had never used a Mutant teleporter before, in fact she had only ever used a teleporter of any sort once and that had been a Control prototype. She recalled telling the technician that the whole process was too disorienting to use for practical use as it was, and that she would find another way off the planet. This one was a vast improvement. There was only a mild sense of disorientation, and that was mostly due to the scene change. It was like blinking, in some respect, one second she was on Equidarr and the next she was in a transporter room with a Jackalman who was looking rather dumbly at her.

Much to her annoyance, Psychro was moving before she registered it, vaulting over the control console and tackling the Mutant to the ground. The Lunatak raised his fist threateningly, and the Jackal whimpered. "I surrender!" he moaned.

"Pathetic," Psychro spat, but acquiesced. He let the Mutant get into a seated position. "Fine. We'll let you live, if you take us to the bridge. No tricks or I'll use your miserable hide as a bath mat."

"The bridge?" the Jackal gulped, wincing as Psychro looked at him funny. "I mean, the bridge! Sure thing." He was allowed to his feet and led them out of the room.

Mutant ships were, to most cultures, hideous in appearance. They weren't supposed to be comfortable, they were supposed to frighten and intimidate their opponents. The interiors weren't much better, which Mandora could only assume was intentional. She had been in Mutant homes before and they were the same sickly colour and possessed of the same foul stench of unwashed bodies, faeces, and alcohol. She could only assume that the alcohol was designed to make one numb to the other sensations.

The halls were empty as they went, proving that there was indeed a skeleton crew. Anyone who was anyone was down on the surface, which suggested that it would be some low ranking underling at the controls. As they rounded a bend, Mandora's foot splashed into some unknown, and best left unknown, liquid. "How do you live like this?" she muttered.

"Oh, it's a little messy, but it reminds me of home," the Jackal said, more cheerfully than she'd expected from a hostage. She checked the battery pack on the gun she had confiscated from one of the Simians and saw that it still had most of a charge left. That was good. If they needed to fight, she might need it.

"How many are on the bridge, Mutant?" she asked.

"Just three, unless Birdman took off again. It wouldn't surprise me, he's always leaving work on some pet project of his. A new fuel formula, he says, multi-octane something or other. I don't think it'll work. Oh and the name's Kal." She wondered why the Jackal was being so chatty. Maybe that was why he had been left behind on the ship. "Here we are. The bridge. You aren't going to kill me now, are you?"

"Not at all. You're going to be our shield. Open the door," Psychro bared his teeth, and wrapped an arm around the Jackal's chest to hold him in place.

The door swished open on the bridge, revealing a large Avian Mutant in the command chair who looked very bored. Another Jackal and a Reptile were at the front controls. None of them looked up at the entrance. Mandora's gun fired, catching the Reptile in the back of his helmet, the beam ricocheting into the floor. That caught the attention of the Mutants. The Reptile started to rise, but caught Mandora's second and third shots in the chest and promptly slumped over.

Beside her, Psychro took keen aim at the Jackal and fired, but Kal jostled him accidentally and the shot went wide. "Intruders!" the Avian, very likely Birdman, shouted. "Warn the other ships!"

The Jackal regarded his leader, the still smoking body of the Reptile, and the two intruders. He saw Mandora's gun pointed in his direction and knew that no matter how fast he was, he wouldn't get a chance to touch the communications button, so he didn't try. "You warn them yourself, Birdman, I'm not suicidal."

"Pfagh! Never trust a Jackalman to do an Avian's job," he said. Before he could move more than a few steps towards the control panel Psychro's gun fired three times, hitting him twice in the back and once in the neck, with the last bolt killing him.

The two Jackals were ushered together and kept under close surveillance by Psychro. Neither he nor the evil chaser was expecting them to do very much, other than cower, but it needed to be done. One couldn't trust Mutants and expect to live to tell the tale.

Mandora walked over to the main controls and scratched her head. She knew the basics of how to use them, a general knowledge in how to fly a ship came in handy, but the specifics were beyond her. They wouldn't have much time either, someone was bound to come across the Simians and Rat that they'd left on the streets, and the questions would point at this ship. There, that looked like a visual scanning device. Not surprisingly the camera was pointed down at the heart of the celebration, where Ellis was strapped into the four winds. She had seen the device before, had heard rulings that it should be declared illegal to use on grounds of cruelty, and heard the Mutants arguments over the usefulness of the thing. The lawmakers had ruled in their favour, unfortunately. Still, the fact they knew where Ellis was was a good thing. She turned and walked over to the quivering Mutants.

"Do you need one of these bracelets to beam up to the ship?" she demanded.

"Well, yes," Kal said, shakily. He didn't like the direction the conversation seemed to be going, and suspected he knew what was coming.

"Drat. In that case you're going to beam me down next to the four winds and then beam both of us back up. Then you're going to beam yourselves to any location you desire and leave your ship in our hands," Psychro cursed. The beaming would show Mandora how to operate the controls so that they could get off the ship as well.

She was actually a little surprised that he volunteered to do the rescuing himself so quickly. She had partially expected to have to carry out this part on her own. But she was beginning to understand that Psychro wasn't quite so shallow as she had originally believed. She could almost see that he cared about Ellis and felt guilty that she was in the situation she was in.

They also couldn't leave these Mutants on the ship, she realized Psychro was implying. They might determine where the duo had beamed down to and cut down the amount of time they had to get to safety.

"But we'll get in trouble," the other Jackal moaned.

"And you'll be in more trouble if I have to make you," Psychro replied, pointing at their two dead companions. Grudgingly the Mutants agreed and took them back down to the transporter room. Psychro took a spare transporter device and braced himself. Mandora knew that timing would be critical, but strangely had faith in him.

"Good luck," she said, as she watched Kal operate the controls. She saw Psychro blow her a kiss as he vanished from sight.

Reptos watched in delight as two male Equines fought before him. They had been instructed to fight to the death or ten children would be killed instead, including the two that were theirs respectively. The horses were fighting hard; punching, kicking, biting, doing everything they could to inflict injury. They were both exhausted, but struggled on until the slightly yellowy one ripped the jugular of the reddish one with his teeth. A chorus of cheers and boos went up from the crowd, and money began changing hands.

"Take him away and finish what his opponent started," Reptos said, clapping. Geckren approached, leaning heavily on a crutch that had been fashioned for him. "How goes the assault on that force field?"

"It's strong, brother, but we are stronger. We are Mutants of Plundarr!" he replied. The Equines had managed to squirrel away a large number of their population in that bunker, including their leaders, and that angered Reptos. He wanted to parade Fastwynd, Arra and Storm before him and kill each one personally for having the audacity to sentence him to death.

"Work harder then. I want... What? Psychro!"

She was surrounded by Mutants, many taking cruel liberties with her helplessness. Her chest was sore from being pinched, and her ears rung with the outlandish insults being hurled at her. The Mutants took great delight in reminding her where she was and what would happen if Psychro didn't show up. In fact, it was only the thought of Psychro, one of the few men she had ever cared about, that kept her going. Ellis wanted death, because it meant that Psychro would be spared this fate. And yet she sorely wanted to see him one last time. To tell him she still loved him.

And then he was there, standing at her shoulder and carrying a bracelet of some kind. He slapped it on her wrist even as Reptos cried out. Her heart hammered, fearing that he would soon be taken away from her again, but instead it was together that they were taken, appearing on the Mutant warship in the transporter room. She didn't know how Psychro and Mandora had done it, but she didn't care either. She got up off the ground and wrapped her arms around him. "Psychro!" she half sobbed, clutching to him as though to confirm to her mind that he was real and that he wasn't going anywhere.

"I know," he whispered, closing his eyes.

"I thought you were dead, I was so scared."

"And leave you like that? Not a chance in hell. I care too much about you to leave you at the hands of those Mutants." He kissed her cheek and pulled apart. "And speaking of Mutants, we'd better live up to our end of the deal." The two Jackals looked uncomfortably around and began entering commands on the control panel.

"What's to prevent them from beaming back up?" Psychro asked suddenly.

"We won't do that. We promise!" Kal said, though his friend looked like he had already thought of that and was annoyed that Psychro had too.

"Easy. They're going to beam down, I'll wait three seconds and beam their empty bracelets up. If they're attached to their bodies still, we'll kill them," Mandora replied, her monotone voice showing just how serious she was. The Jackals paled and put their hands on the bracelets, ready to remove them instantly upon arrival.

Once they were gone, and the bracelets had arrived back on the ship, Mandora turned her attention to Ellis and Psychro. "Put the bracelets on. I'll set the co-ordinates for the gully, we need to find that backdoor before the Mutants figure out where we went. I'm going to get a surprise ready for those Mutants, but if things get hairy, beam without me," she instructed.

They watched Mandora race from the room and waited nervously. Several minutes passed and they felt something rock the ship. Ellis clung to Psychro for support still, confused and more than a little scared. She had stared death in the eyes today, and all for the love of a man. She had started the day accepting that she would never see him again, and now she was safe in his arms. And yet her world was shattered. Gone were friends and family, her city was in ruins, and they were still being oppressed.

Another explosion sent them tumbling to the floor, and she blushed as her hand brushed against his crotch. "Sorry," he said, and she saw that smirk that drove her wild, "we don't have time for that now."

"How can you be so calm? What's happening out there?" she asked, helping him to his feet.

"You have to be calm," he replied, as though he were stating a fact. "I can't control what's happening out there. Besides, you're cute when you blush like that. The Mutants have probably figured out what ship we're on. We should get going."

Mandora burst through the door as he said it. "Let's go. Now!"

The gully had steep walls, and had the barest trickle of water running through it now. Were he more inclined, Psychro would wonder what geographical event had caused the water to stop flowing as greatly as it obviously once had. But he didn't care, he was more concerned with other things right now. Mandora was panting heavily as she looked skyward, drawing his eyes to her chest. She caught him staring and he grinned guiltily, though Ellis was too confused to notice the exchange. "What did you do?" he finally asked.

"I set the ship on a collision course with another ship and set the self destruct. That's one less ship the Mutants can use when Control gets here, hopefully it took out another one too," Mandora replied.

That made sense. It was dangerous, foolhardy, and probably qualified as insane, but it made sense. She would have had to set course for a ship far enough away to give her time to get to the transporter, but not so far away as to give the other ship much time to get out of the way. That took more faith than he would have had. Now there was just one more problem to deal with. "How do we find the safe house exit?" he asked.

"My helmet is calibrated with an infrared scanner," Mandora replied. "We'll just walk along the gully and find it. Worry about getting in once we get there." She actually smiled, to his great surprise. It was one that was intended to remind him that she was the great evil chaser Mandora and that she was firmly in control of the situation.

Mandora walked ahead of them, scanning left, right and centre for any signs of a hidden entrance. She wasn't sure what exactly she was looking for, but she was accustomed to looking for hidden things such as stray strands of hair or a smudged footprint, anything that might bring her closer to solving a case. Ellis and Psychro followed nervously behind her. There was no sign of pursuit yet, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing. As Psychro was fond of saying, a visible enemy was better than an invisible one.

But it wasn't just the situation that had Ellis feeling nervous. She was nervous because she had formed an image of Psychro in her head that Reptos had eroded, and she feared what the answer to her questions might be. "Psychro?" she asked, catching his attention. "Back in the city, back when I was... you know. Reptos said something about you sleeping with his sister. Is that true?"

She saw him glance in Mandora's direction, but the evil chaser was too preoccupied to be listening in on their conversation. The look alone answered the immediate question and she felt tears stinging her eyes. "It is. It was a stupid mistake. I was the three d's; drunk, desperate and disgusted by the whole thing." He stopped walking and took her chin in his hand. "Come on. You knew I wasn't a virgin. You had to realize there had been other women."

"I just..." she felt incredibly stupid suddenly. He was right. The skill he'd used on her had clearly been perfected on other women, she'd just never bothered to ask who they were. She wasn't sure if knowing that he'd been with a Mutant would have affected their relationship at all. She gulped again. "How many?"

"I don't like lying to women," he said bluntly, looking to see how far away Mandora was. "So please don't ask that. You won't like the answer."

She paled somewhat, trying to decide what kind of number he meant. She didn't want to straggle too far, so she jogged to catch up to where Mandora was. "I want to know," she said, bracing herself for the answer.

"Two hundred and thirty-two," he said flatly. "For what it's worth, you were one of the better ones."

"Two hund... I wasn't expecting triple digits," she said.

"Yeah, well. I'm always looking for the right woman, but few live up to my needs. I'm sorry, I tried to warn you. You need to know that I do love you, it's just that... I don't know. I never seem to be able to make it work," he said sheepishly. She slapped him, catching Mandora's attention. "I deserved that, I usually do. Look, you have every right to be angry with me."

Ellis sighed heavily, as Mandora resumed her hunting. "I'm not. Disappointed yes, but I can't be angry. You've been honest with me the whole way and it's my fault for jumping into bed without asking questions. You're..."

"Clean as can be. I've got some luck going my way in that regard. Only two pregnancies too, though I'm not sure if Mutants and Lunataks are compatible it wouldn't surprise me," he said. It sounded like he was accustomed to these questions.

"Found it!" Mandora called out suddenly, interrupting the conversation. When they came over the saw an indentation in the gully floor. Closer inspection revealed sets of footprints leading up to it, including one that looked like half of one. It was definitely a trap door of some kind, but Mandora hadn't a clue on how to open it. She walked around the door, tapping rocks and moving twigs.

"What about just knocking?" Ellis suggested, walking over to the panel and rapping on it with her fist.

From one of the Mutant warships, Reptos watched the trio carefully on the radar. His plan had been brilliant from the start. He had suspected, based on rumours he'd heard of Psychro's dedication to his women, that if he threatened to kill Ellis that he would come to the rescue, and if they captured him that would be excellent.

However, the true genius behind the plan was knowing that Psychro was the luckiest man in the universe. If anyone could snatch Ellis away from the middle of a crowd and get away, it was him. Hence he had placed a tracking device on Ellis' body while the girl was distracted, knowing that she would lead the Mutants to more prisoners. The radar indicated that they were staying in the one place, a spot not too far from the military building, but on the outskirts of the city, which he surmised meant that there was a back door to the place.

They probably didn't even realize it, he chuckled to himself, proud of how clever a Reptile he was. He had even arranged for his ships and foot soldiers to give them a wide berth so that they would be free to go wherever they liked. But now that would be unnecessary. He marked their location and waited.

Storm was the one to open the door. They had a security camera pointed outside the entrance, and he had seen them looking around. Brief debate had taken place before he finally let them into the stronghold. He had been the one to vote against letting them in. After all, the Equines were in this mess because of Mandora and Psychro, more one than the other if he understood correctly. Still, Fastwynd and Arra had voted against him, and the law was the law. "Ellis!" he said pleasantly, before addressing the others in a less pleasant tone. "You are expected in the bunker. Hurry." With nothing else to do, they followed him.

The tunnel led to a series of several rooms, most of which had dozens of people inside with more lingering in the hallway. The rooms themselves were sparsely furnished, and were possessed of little in the way of necessities. There was a bathroom, that was in constant use, and a storage of food that Mandora could tell wouldn't last this crowd a week. At the furthest end was the door that led outside. There were, from the sounds of it, many Mutants on the other side trying to get in. As the two outsiders entered the safe house, they found all eyes turning in their direction, some hostile, most merely curious.

The light blue stallion led the trio to a corner of the store room where Fastwynd and Arra were sitting. The radio Mandora had provided was sitting on top of one of the crates, to her relief. The couple stood and hugged the newcomers. "I was worried," Fastwynd said. "We heard some of the Mutants outside saying that Psychro had rescued Ellis, but we didn't dare hope to believe them. Gossip is dangerous, and you never know if they're lying."

"Your radio has been quiet," Arra said, seeing Mandora's gaze on it.

"There might be too much interference from the force field. I'll take it down the tunnel later and see if that helps."

"Do you really think Control can save us?"

"After getting us into all this trouble, I damn well hope they can get us out of it too," Storm snapped, earning him a nasty look from Fastwynd. Mandora could feel the eyes around her and knew that Storm was hardly the only one who felt this way. She couldn't blame them. They had been leading such peaceful lives until she and Psychro had arrived. Perhaps if they'd gotten off the planet sooner... No. It was pointless to speculate. She knew that she was right, that the Mutants or some other enemy force would have found Equidarr eventually.

"I believe so. Control has the capacity to defeat Plundarr if they had reason to do so. They should be able to handle the small assault force we've got here," Mandora said, trying to sound a lot more confident than she really was. Control would help, they had to help now that it had been asked for, but would it be too late? How long would the Mutant forces be able to hold off Control? Would the Equines in this shelter starve to death before that happened. Worst of all, what if someone caught ill? In these closed quarters, in this crowd, a disease would rip through them like wildfire.

"Then there's nothing we can do for now but wait."

Present day

"The Mutants waited, biding their time until it started getting dark out. Mandora tried using her radio in the tunnel, but the static was too much. We were in the dark, both literally and metaphorically. I've been in tough scrapes before, but this was getting too much..." Psychro said, swirling the dregs of his beer around.

Four weeks, two days ago

Psychro was in the store room with Ellis, Mandora having wandered off to spy on the Mutants outside. Ellis was clearly still having difficulty grasping the nature of Psychro's sex life, and he was finding it hard to explain it to her without telling her too much information. Her own sexual experiences, by contrast, were limited to only three others. "She was a doctor," he said, answering a question about being in a similar situation. "But the roles were reversed. We'd gone camping on the Psion Moon, a place that's pretty much desert with the odd oasis. She fell and broke her leg, so I had to help her back to the city. Sira, her name was. Pretty little thing, bright blue hair, which was kind of weird. It was amazing the bond that we developed, how taking care of her became my whole world for the three days were out there. But it changed us, changed the way we looked at each other, once she healed. She ended it because she couldn't look at me and not remember the feeling of helplessness. I think that's why I felt from the beginning that we wouldn't work. It was the same situation."

"Wow. You never told me about that," Ellis said. He could tell that she wanted to argue the point, because after all, every relationship was different, that she was different than Sira, and would treat him better than that.

"Of course I didn't, I... what was that noise?" His ears pricked at the sound of an explosion of some kind, followed by screams of terror. He let out a few colourful curses, most of which Ellis wouldn't understand and none of which were appropriate for younger audiences, as he ran for the tunnel entrance. It didn't take a neurosurgeon to figure out what had happened, and his worst fears were confirmed when he saw Mutant soldiers and Equines warriors battling in the hall.

"You led them right to us!" Storm shouted over the cacophony. "Whose side are you on?"

"Shut up and fight!" Psychro responded, barely refraining from impugning the man's birth by implying that his mother had been less than faithful to her husband and had mated with a worm in a pile of filth that had been left sitting in the sun for a few days. There was a word for that in the Ice Lunatak tongue.

That the Mutants had broken through was demoralizing, and it meant that support from Control likely wouldn't get there in time. Psychro had seen the four winds device, though, and had no intentions of letting these disgusting creatures put him on it. He would die with his fists in the air.

"We have them on the run!" Fastwynd shouted, startling Psychro. The Mutants had the superior fighting ability and weapons. Why would they flee? That wasn't like them at all, unless...

"Warp gas! Charge before they can use it!" Mandora shouted over the din. He wasn't sure where she was, but she was closer to the exit than he was. It didn't surprise him that she had come to the same conclusion. The two of them were the only ones who had ever seen the Mutants in combat first hand, and warp gas was one of their favourite tricks. It reversed one's personality for a time, turning docile creatures violent and brave warriors into cowering simpletons. One of his exes had threatened to use it on him once. He couldn't remember why.

A thin noxious green cloud started seeping into the tunnel. One by one the Equines in front of him began shrieking and curling up, trying to get as far away from the Mutants as possible. Three of them, foolishly, bolted for the other door, thinking they might slip out that way. All it did was give the Mutants a second front of attack from which to pour their gas. He was weakening fast, he no longer felt like fighting. All he wanted to do was curl up under a blanket, preferably alone, and hide. But there were no blankets available, and hiding wouldn't do much good. Before too long he, Mandora, and the Equines were rounded up and brought before Reptos.

Psychro was thrown to the ground at Reptos' feet. He had been left untouched up to this point, but knew that that would change. Reptos was standing in the square in front of the government building, a large table had been found, and the Mutants were greedily eating from the trays of food their new Equine servants brought out, while bright spotlight shone down on them, illuminating the scene. All around him was decadence, the riches of Equidarr plundered for their masters' pleasure. He wasn't in the least bit surprised.

His focus, though, quickly was drawn to the man in charge. Reptos, flanked by Geckren, was resplendent in a silken white robe that he had no doubt pilfered. The robe was already stained with grease and blood. The two Reptiles smiled at him with looks that suggested that whatever amount of time he had left in life was not going to be full of sunshine and rainbows.

"So, Psychro, you decided to join us again. This time there won't be any disappearing acts," Reptos said, leaning down, his breath reeking of whatever he'd eaten in the last ten years. It was a known fact that Mutants didn't much believe in hygiene, and he was a shining example of it.

"That's too bad, I thought you liked magic shows," he quipped. It was too tempting to bait the Mutant, even though he knew he shouldn't. What he really needed to do was prolong the experience, and hopefully delay his execution until the next day when Control agents would sweep in. If he could manage to do that, he might have a chance.

"Oh, magic isn't my thing, but I do like shows, yes?" Reptos belted him hard in the jaw, sending the Lunatak sprawling on the ground. "You're going to provide us with ample entertainment before we end the party by making it rain Psychro bits. And I'm going to enjoy every second of it, yes?"

"Is that a question? Am I supposed to answer it?" Psychro asked, earning himself another punch. "Fine, fine. Yes, you are probably going to enjoy every part of it. That's why you're probably going to drag out my torture over a few days." His psychic reservoir was limited, but more than enough to sway the disgusting creature. It was obvious that he wanted to make Psychro suffer, so why not extend it further. He just never guessed the ulterior motives.

Reptos grinned and rubbed his chin in thought. "An excellent idea. In fact, I have a way to make your agony even more delightful. We're going to have a fight tonight. The two loves of your life, dying because of you. Mandora and Ellis will fight, and the loser will show you what happens on the four winds."

Or things could backfire, which meant he would really have to pour it on. He could only hope that no one had noticed the fear on his face. "You're just scared to fight me yourself, aren't you. Hiding behind women to do your dirty work, I'm impressed that anyone follows you, you're really one of the Jackalmen, aren't you!" he said, the last barb costing him another blow to the head.

"Maybe I should cut out your tongue. I am more than Reptile enough to take care of the likes of you, Lunatak scum, yes?" Geckren whispered something into Reptos' ear and the latter began chuckling. "Oh that is rich. Yes indeed. Both your women will die, Psychro, but I'm going to enjoy myself at their expense. Chain him in my room and bring Ellis in. I want him to watch as I defile her as he defiled Slythra."

Psychro blanched, relieved that Ellis wouldn't be dying any time soon, but certain that what was to come would be unpleasant for her. The Mutants were constantly inventing new ways to be cruel, and this met the definition. Four sets of hands grabbed him and dragged him into the government building.

Ellis screamed as she was dragged into what had once been Fastwynd and Arra's bedroom. Psychro felt helpless to do anything, watching while a pair of Simians relieved her of her clothes. He had been affixed to the wall using hastily installed chains, chains which he was in the process of trying to remove from the wall. Her terrified eyes locked with his as the Simians proceeded to strap her to the bed, with her head pointed in Psychro's direction.

He had never understood rape. Psychro had always firmly believed that if a woman didn't want to sleep with you, then it was final. You respected it. You could be persistent, he didn't see the harm in that, but you respected their desires. One of his friends had asked him once where his charm powers entered into it, whether that could constitute rape, but he disagreed. He wasn't changing their minds, that was not something he could do, he could sway them but not outright make them do something they weren't remotely interested in to begin with. He often agreed that it was a fine line, but that he was still largely in the right.

What Reptos was doing wasn't even for the sake of personal pleasure either, not in the traditional sense anyway, it was to anger Psychro. The Lunatak wasn't sure if that made what was about to happen better or not. He also wondered if his powers could make the situation less pleasurable for the Mutant, make her seem uglier or something. But if the Reptile wasn't satisfied, he might just decide to kill her to get some enjoyment out of her. And would he be bringing Mandora in here? To see the evil chaser trussed up like that would be the fantasy of many a hardened criminal, but he preferred such things to be voluntary.

Finally the Mutant himself entered the room, as the Simians vanished out the door. "Ah, my prize possessions. The man I loathe, and the woman to share my bed. Do it right, girl, and I might keep you," Reptos said. Ellis struggled harder against the bonds that held her in place. "There's no escape for you. You're mine."

Present day

"The next hour was horrendous. Watching that disgusting Reptile have his way with her, unable to do anything but watch. Ellis, mercifully, blacked out part way through, I wish I could have done the same. I swore right then that Reptos would die at either my hands or hers for what he'd done. After about an hour, the booze took effect and he fell asleep," Psychro said, looking around the table and seeing that the same disgusted look was plastered on each member of his audience. It was reassuring to know that there were some universal truths on the moons, and rape was certainly one of them.

Four weeks, two days ago

How long had it been, Mandora asked herself. The Mutants had been drinking heavily, so they contented themselves with ushering their prisoners into the dungeons and leaving it at that. If the morale of the Equines wasn't at an all time low, the evil chaser might have considered organizing a rebellion and making a break for it. The guards were inebriated enough that it might have a passing chance of working. Then again, the guards were also heavily armed, which would pose a problem. Still, anything was better than sitting in the cell waiting for either death or a rescue.

She wondered, then, whether the Mutants had found her radio. Would they realize that there was the potential for Control to intervene and save the day? Surely they would be getting things ready if they did, which made it more likely that they were ignorant of the situation. When Control did come, the fight would be violent; the Mutants weren't likely to surrender unless things looked very bad. They had the advantage with hostages, and were still formidable fighters.

Ultimately Mandora was trying to think of anything but what was going on with Psychro and Ellis. She had been present for his proclamations. While she wouldn't have enjoyed beating Ellis in a fight, one which she was reasonably certain she would have won, she enjoyed what was happening even less. Her heart ached for the poor woman whose only crime was trying to help two injured outsiders. For that, she had been put through so much. She felt for Psychro, who was doubtless feeling guilty for what was going on, and fear for herself. Realistically she knew that Reptos might call on her services' at some point to goad Psychro even more. Reptos had been present when she had offered herself to the Lunatak, and he would use anything at his disposal to get at the man.

Of all the people he could have slept with, why did it have to be with this man's sister. Surely, if his story was true, there had to have been other options. She looked around the cell, seeing nothing but gloomy faces. These people deserved better than this, and she hoped to be given the chance to bring the full power of the law against these Mutants. To ease her mind, help her relax enough to sleep, she began envisioning the potential charges she could bring against Reptos and his group, and the likely prison terms that went with them, and she went through them alphabetically. She was only on the Bs' before she fell asleep.

It was morning. The first rays of the golden sun were shining through the windows on to Psychro's face. He'd had a miserable sleep, as he had expected he would. Between sleeping upright in shackles, there was the situation he was in to make it less restful. He raised his head and saw that at some point during the night, Reptos had rolled off the bed and was now lying face down in a puddle of his own vomit. That was some small consolation, anyway. Ellis was still asleep too, her body bruised and marred by the activities of the previous night. Seeing it again made him tremble with rage, something he made a conscious effort not to do. He wasn't sure how heavy a sleeper Reptos was, and certainly didn't want him to wake up for several more hours. Hopefully, by then, Control would have arrived.

Mandora hadn't gotten them any updates, so he could only go off the most recent information. He hoped she was okay, too. He'd lost track of her when he'd been brought before the Reptile leader, and could only assume that she was still with the rest of the prisoners. What would the Mutants do to her? Had she been beaten, or had Reptos and Geckren placed her under their protection? Until he saw her again, he had no way of knowing.

Located deep in the storage area of the safe house, Mandora's radio sat unattended and unnoticed. The Mutants had been too focussed on the prisoners to pay it any heed. "This is Captain Buck, of the Bunndarrian ship Spray, calling Mandora. Come in please. We will be there shortly, hang in there."

"Augh, why does my head hurt?" Reptos groaned, his movement making Psychro wince. He hadn't slept in for nearly as long as he had been hoping for. The Reptile saw both Lunatak and Ellis and it all came back to him. The memory of what he had done brought a smile to his leathery face. If it wasn't for the hunger in his belly, exacerbated by the nausea he'd had last night, he might have considered violating the woman again. Still, he couldn't resist rubbing a little salt into the wounds. He took her face in his hands and turned her head to look at him. "Was it as good for you as it was for me?" he asked.

"Go to hell," she spat.

He calmly wiped the saliva off his face and walked over, still quite naked, to where Psychro hung. "And what about you? Was that up to your standards? You are the expert on love making, yes?"

"I'd give it a three. I, at least, brought her to orgasm. I didn't need to tie her up either." Reptos drove the wind out of Psychro's belly as he started to make another quip.

"I think I should have your tongue removed," Reptos said, looking to see if he had a knife on hand. He rummaged through first his clothes, and then the various drawers, but couldn't find anything suitably sharp. "Oh well. Maybe I'll do better with your evil chaser girlfriend tonight. There's a hefty price on her head back on Plundarr, so I can't kill her, but there's plenty of other things I can do, isn't that right Ellis?"

Reptos left them to consider what had happened, and to fetch himself something to eat. He would have Ellis freed from his bed and placed on the four winds. Spreadeagled for him and then spreadeagled for the torture device, as it were. He wondered if she had made that connection at some point during the night. He doubted it, she didn't look very smart.

Once he was gone, Psychro tried again to free his wrists from the manacles, but they wouldn't budge. "You're going to be all right," he said, trying to sound calm and confident. He knew she wouldn't believe it, but hoped that his charm power would ease her mind enough. The truth was that he had no guarantee that she would be fine. The events of this night might have scarred her for life, or she might be killed in a few moments, the Mutants were unpredictable, and it seemed to hinge on whatever Reptos thought might upset Psychro at any given moment.

That was probably the worst part of it. The gnawing guilt that said this is all your fault. Ellis wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you.' He was used to being in trouble, but never anything like this.

Except Icilia. She was an aberration though, committing suicide just because of what her father thought. She would still be alive if he'd never met her, or at least had used some kind of protection. But he had been young then, inexperienced and full of youthful rage. Impregnating her had been an act of revenge, which didn't make it better. But she was the only other one whose life he had ruined.

And Dalash, a Darkling woman he'd been with who had been the victim of an assassin's bullet that was intended to teach him a lesson. That had been the result of an angry uncle from a previous relationship, and he'd shied away from women for a long time after. Heavy Bevy had come after that, and he'd been so taken by the flattery, and so long without expending himself, that he had jumped at the chance.

So two other lives he'd ruined; three now. Of two hundred and thirty-two women. That wasn't bad odds. Just one percent. Well, actually, it might be more. So many of his relationships ended badly; Josa had been so upset that she had tried to frame him for murder, Anaela had warned him that she would rip his testicles off if she ever saw him again, and then there was Pekablu. She was a woman who had been so upset distraught that she had descended into alcoholism and sleeping with random men, looking for the one who could compare to Psychro. His life was really messed up when he thought about it.

"Psychro?" Ellis asked, startling him out of his thoughts. "When Control saves us, do you think they'll let me kill Reptos myself?" She spoke in a low voice, almost too quiet for him to hear. But even if he hadn't, the meaning was clear, and he couldn't blame her.

"If they don't, I'll stall them long enough for you to do it," he replied. That much he was certain of. No one would deny her revenge.

Mandora was awake and examining the cell's structure. There were structural weaknesses in the door, the result of few prisoners leading to little maintenance being done. It wouldn't be the easiest escape in the world, but it never hurt to be prepared. If and when Control attacked, it was imperative that the Equines provide a greater distraction. Staying in the cells meant that they could more easily be used as hostages, too. Her superiors wouldn't approve of her getting civilians involved in the fight, but a case could be made that a people who were made to feel self-sufficient would be more valuable allies.

Allies were something that the people of Equidarr would be needing in abundance once this was over. Now that the Mutants of Plundarr knew where their horse brethren were, it was only a matter of time before they tried to wipe them out. Only with Control's assistance could they keep the Mutants away, and she hoped that Fastwynd, Arra and Storm understood that.

As she did her rounds, she saw that most of the other captives were awake, sitting motionless or talking quietly. That was typical, from her experience, no one wanted to make themselves obvious in case one of the Mutant jailers decided to have some fun. Not that the jailers were really in any condition to do much torturing anyway. Visible from her angle were two Simians, sleeping back to back, with a spilled bottle of booze on the floor between them. With evidence like this, it was almost a wonder that the Mutants were the power they were in the galaxy. But she had seen them fight. Between ferocity and sheer numbers, she knew what the Mutants were capable of.

A look at the women she was imprisoned with, the men and children being segregated and kept elsewhere, told Mandora what else the Mutants were capable of. Here a woman with deep teeth marks in her arm. There a woman whose feet looked to be made of hamburger meat. Atrocities left right and centre met her cold gaze, and she recorded it all for potential hearings. She didn't know how much of it would stick, but she was determined to press as many charges as she could.

Reptos returned sometime later. Ellis had been taken away, though the Mutant guards wouldn't say to where, leaving Psychro alone with the fat Reptilian. He had obviously come back from lunch, as there was the remnants of oatmeal all over his chest. He was surprised to see that they would actually stoop to eating such fare, but supposed the lack of meat on the planet accounted for it. He wondered if they would devour the Equine dead. He hadn't heard much about Mutants partaking in what might be considered cannibalism, but it probably wasn't uncommon either.

"So, Psychro, it's just you and me. What should I do to you next?" Reptos asked, walking over and sticking one scaly finger in his chest. Frankly Psychro was just happy that he had put on some clothes again.

"I don't know. Your stench is torture enough," the Lunatak replied. Reptos snarled and slapped him hard across the jaw.

"I was hoping to break your spirit before I had you killed. Now I think I will just break every bone in your body." He reared back and punched Psychro in the groin, doubling him over as much as possible under the circumstances. "What's the matter? No more witty remarks? Too hurt to talk, yes?"

"Bite me."

"I think I will," Reptos grinned locking his jaws into Psychro's biceps, enjoying the cries of pain that he made as they sank into his flesh, drawing blood. "Tastes like fear, I like that flavour on you. It's so stimulating."

"Glad you're getting off on this." This remark earned him another blow to the groin, and his eyes welled up in pain. This was hardly the first time his had taken this kind of abuse, but one never got used to it. He might have received more strikes if an aide hadn't chosen that moment to run into the room. "This had better be important, yes?"

The Jackalman saluted hastily. "It is sir, oh it is. Please believe me. One of our ships has reported a large fighting force heading our way. Control ships and Bunndarrian ships," he said, flinching back almost immediately. Psychro could hardly believe that the Jackalmen were among the surviving Mutant forces. Their cowardice was legendary, though maybe that was why they lived, they weren't worth the bother to exterminate.

Reptos was furious though, and the Jackal had every right to be fearful. His face was turning a purple colour, and Psychro would not have been surprised to see steam pouring out of his ears. "What? How could they know what we were doing?" he rounded on Psychro. "You! This is somehow your fault, yes? You and that Mandora. I knew I should have killed you both when I had the chance." He belted Psychro hard across the face one more time. "Tell every commanding officer to get back to their ships. I'll deal with you later." Then both he and the Jackal left the room again.

Something was happening, Mandora could feel it. Someone had come rushing into the detention block and said something to the Simian guards, causing all of them to bolt back upstairs. There was only one likely thing that could be causing this kind of reaction. Help was on the way, which meant the time to act was now.

Running over to the cell door, Mandora kicked hard on the lowest door hinge, cracking it off on the first try. She was grateful that the Equines believed in having actual doors rather than relying on force fields for their prisoners. The truth was that she agreed with the policy. A power outage could prove disastrous if the back-ups weren't up in time. Control had experienced that joy on more than one occasion. With actual doors there was less chance of that happening. Granted, she would not have been able to escape as easily if they had used force fields.

The doors weren't kept in repair, and the second hinge snapped with a little more effort than the first. Soon the door clattered to the ground outside. She waited a second, listening, but didn't hear the sound of footfalls. That meant that the Mutants were too occupied with Control that they couldn't be bothered with their prisoners. That was good. "All right, people, listen up. The cavalry has arrived, but they're going to need your help in defeating the Mutants." She regretted the choice of words, but doubted that the few women that had been in the cell with her would take offence at the use of the word cavalry'. "There aren't many of us now, but if we can find the keys to the cells, we'll have more."

The dozen or so women scattered through the cell block, some banging on the doors, and others trying to pick the locks. Mandora had her own idea. She moved through the cells until she found Arra, who was busy watching her door being picked. "Arra. There must be a set of keys around somewhere. Do you know where they would be?" she asked.

"Oh! Of course! At the top of the stairs, in the side room, there's a cupboard. They're behind a false panel inside," the white mare said, mildly annoyed that she hadn't thought of that solution herself.

Mandora nodded and bolted towards the stairs, stepping around the large table in the middle of the guardroom located at the bottom, which was presently covered with playing cards and half empty bottles of liquor. She moved as swiftly as she dared while maintaining a certain level of quiet. The Mutants might not be in this room, but they might not be far away either.

There was another reason to hurry. It would be just like the Mutants, from what she knew of previous conflicts, to give the order to exterminate the prisoners out of spite. She and her dozen women might be able to hold off a few guards, but none of them looked like they were particularly trained for combat.

She reached the top of the stairs easily. There was a door that led outside, she remembered from being led this way, and another that was surely the one that Arra had been referring to. It was an office of some kind, she saw as she opened the door. A desk, file cabinets, a computer system, and a cupboard. Perfect. She opened it up and found the keys hanging on a small hook behind a false panel.

Taking a moment to look out the window, Mandora evaluated the situation. The bulk of the soldiers for both sides would be airborne, fighting in their space ships and the like. She doubted that there were too many people left on the ground, and the story outside confirmed it. The previous day the courtyard to the government building, visible from here, had been teaming with Mutants and their slaves. Now there only appeared to be three or four. There was still a mess from the celebration, and the vile four winds device was outside still. Someone was on it, Mandora realized with a start, and a Rat was standing next to it, looking concerned around him.

She bolted back down the stairs and handed the keys to a tawny coloured mare. "Here. Unlock the doors and send everyone up to the next landing," she said. In a crisis situation, it was more important for her to be at the forefront of the battle than below. Someone needed to keep order, and to keep everyone calm, and she was the best suited for the job.

While she waited for everyone to arrive, Mandora tried to figure out the best strategy was. How twitchy would the Rat by the four winds be? How many more Mutants were there? Were there other prisoners? It was important to keep her group together, but not become obvious targets for an aerial attack. Taking the military headquarters was the second most important thing to do, after rescuing whomever was in the torture device. There would be weapons of some sort around that they could use to defend themselves and hopefully equipment that she could use to co-ordinate with Control.

The first group of Equines arrived, champing at the bit to exact some revenge. This was where things could get out of hand. She needed to stress the importance of taking prisoners and not killing. Arra was in that first batch, thankfully. The Equines might listen to one of their own leaders, provided that she could convince Arra. "Listen up!" she shouted. "On my signal we're going to run out that door. Everyone stay organized and don't leave the square for any reason. I counted three Mutants earlier, and we want them taken alive. Let the courts handle their punishment. I know what they did to you was cruel, but you are better than they are. Capture them and hold them. We have to be quick. They have someone on that four winds device, and we don't want them to kill anyone else."

There was grumbling, and a general thirst for blood. It was palpable in the air, and Mandora thought she was going to lose them until she heard a voice in the back of the crowd. "Mandora's right. We left Plundarr because we are not like those Mutants. We are Equines, and we are superior. We only kill to protect, not for revenge. We should do as Mandora says, all of us." She recognized that voice. Storm. It was refreshing to have the support, and the crowd seemed to accept his word as truth.

She placed her hand on the door, ready to lead the charge. "Thank you, Storm. On the count of three we go. One, two, three!"

The door swung open and a veritable rainbow coloured horde of Equines poured out with Mandora at the head of the pack. The three Mutants Mandora had seen, plus a fourth who had presumably been hidden from sight, were taken by surprise and clumped by the four winds. "Don't come any closer, or this one gets it," the Rat sneered, his hand twitching on the handle. Now that she was nearer, Mandora saw that it was Ellis strapped down, experiencing the cruel device for the second time. She looked horrible, and the evil chaser suspected that the damage done to her mentally would be there for years to come.

"Don't be stupid, Rat. I've got a mob here who wouldn't hesitate to rip you to shreds. The only thing keeping them from doing so is me. But if you pull that lever, you'll wish it was you on that thing before they're through with you," she replied. "I am evil chaser first class Mandora, and you're all under arrest. Surrender yourself now and the court might have mercy on you."

"M...Maybe we should do what she says, Rizzan," a Simian said, watching as the Equines surrounded them.

Mandora could feel the tension. Her control of the group was hanging by a very thin thread, and she wasn't sure how much longer she could keep them reined in. If that Mutant did something foolish then her prediction was sure to come true.

"Bah, I'm not scared of you," his hand twitched again, and Mandora's breath caught in her throat. Mentally she prayed that he wouldn't do it, prayed that there was some modicum of common sense in that tiny brain of his, and maybe her prayers were answered. Reluctantly he let go of the handle and stepped aside. "But sometimes it's better to live to fight another day." A whoop came from the crowd, as they rushed to secure the four Mutants and free Ellis from her bonds again.

"Oh Mandora!" the mare cried, stumbling off the four winds and running to her. "You have to rescue Psychro. He's up in Fastwynd's bedroom I hope he's still alive."

And there it was. A threat to Mandora's sense of duty. There were plenty of excuses; she needed to help secure the prisoners, it was more important to take the military building, Fastwynd and Arra knew the route better than she did. But none of them spoke to the vague sense of attachment she felt towards Psychro. She'd been trying to deny it for too long, having been caught up in the current events, but there was a burning nugget of desire. Her brain, the police officer side, piped up that Psychro was technically her responsibility, as she had arrested him for that broken tail light what felt left eons ago. It was stretching the truth.

"Storm. You and the bulk of the people here take the military headquarters. Gather as many weapons as you can and stay there. Fastwynd, you and a group take these prisoners down to the jail and keep an eye on them; treat them well, but only to a point. Arra, you, Ellis, and a dozen others will come with me to your bedroom. We might find resistence on the way, so be ready for anything," she said, gesturing as she went, dividing the Equines into those she thought would be the most useful if there were problems. The group splintered off to their assignments, and Mandora hoped she was doing the right thing.

Reptos scowled, looking at the damage reports that were pumping in over his monitor. Two warships had taken massive damage and had been forced to retreat, and each of his seven others weren't faring much better. The Control ships were too good, and there were simply too many Bunndarrians. He was going to lose this fight, and he knew it.

"Arrgh!" a Jackal howled, as an explosion knocked him from his seat. He looked almost apologetic for disturbing his leader.

"Port weapons down, brother," Geckren noted, pounding on the control panel.

"Are transporters still operational?" Reptos asked, rising suddenly.

"Yes. Why?"

He walked to the door and paused, glancing back with a hint of madness in his eyes, and he answered as though there were only one logical thing to do. "There is one matter to take care of. If we are to lose, at least I will have some satisfaction. I am going to go kill Psychro, yes."

Faintly Psychro could hear the commotion. Fastwynd and Arra's bedroom window was pointing the opposite direction from the square, giving what he could only assume was a pleasant view of the countryside. So Control had finally come, then, with whatever allies they'd been able to rope into joining them. That was a good thing, so why wasn't he feeling better about it? Oh right, because he was still shackled helplessly to the wall with a multitude of bruises welling up on his chest, groin and face, not to mention the horrible gash left by Reptos' teeth. His wrists hurt from hanging all night, and his neck and back ached from standing so long.

How long had he been left here alone? One hour? It had to be at least an hour since Reptos had left. His eyes roamed around the room, taking in the strange knick knacks and pictures that seemed to be everywhere. Some had been broken in the plundering of the quarters, but much of it must not have appealed to the Mutants. He wondered if that's where the planet had gotten its name, from all the plundering its inhabitants did.

There was blood on the floor, too, having dripped from the wound in his arm. That he couldn't apply pressure to the wound made it worse. There was some blood on the mattress too, but he tried not to look at it, that would only remind him of what had happened in this room. Trying to keep his thoughts from heading down that road, telling himself that soon Control would burst through the door and save him from this nightmare, he started going through his list of girlfriends.

Mandora's group ran into a pair of Jackalmen who were greedily grabbing food from the kitchen. An apple hung loosely from one's mouth, while the other was holding the lid of a pot, having been peering inside. Immediately they surrendered, which created a new problem for Mandora. She didn't really want to divide her force in two, but they couldn't just leave them here. "Come with us," she snapped, figuring it was the best thing to do with them. If they ran into more Mutants, she might have to reconsider, but it would do for now.

"Up this way, a little further," Arra said, pointing.

"Number one hundred and twenty; Paeder of House Snowskin. The lucky girl developed early and often, beautiful woman who had a bright career ahead of her. If I'd known she'd become captain of the flagship I might not have left her, but then her neighbour was hot too. Number one hundred and twenty-one, Pacqin of House Snoeflay, she was an older woman with the most succulent lips you'll find. Too bad she had a fondness for spicy foods, I might have stayed with her longer if she hadn't," Psychro said. The list was long, but each woman held a special place in his heart, and he remembered most of them. Suddenly he found Reptos appearing in the room, a long handled battle axe in one hand. "Reptos! I hadn't even gotten down to number two oh nine yet."

"Enough! We may be losing up there, but you're not going to see the victory party," he hissed, walking closer.

Okay then, Psychro thought quickly to himself, this was serious. If he didn't act quickly he'd be headless, while some would argue it was an improvement, he didn't see the benefit. He ran through his options. Certainly his charm powers wouldn't be much use, not against an angry opponent like that, unless he wanted a slightly quicker death.

Present day

"Wait, what number was I?" Halleya asked, interrupting.

"He's een the meeddle of an action scene. Do you mind?" Tug Mug said.

"And not the kind of action you're thinking of either," Luna said. Psychro looked stunned. He hadn't even been aware of the queen of the Lunataks arriving, but here she was. His ego liked to think that word of his storytelling had reached her ears, though in all likelihood it was co-incidental.

"Fine, just for you. Number two hundred and twenty-five. Halleya of the Royal Moon. I was broke when I came to her bar, the tragic victim of a mugging, she offered to pay me one beer for every orgasm I gave her. I had five beers that night," he winked at her, pleased when her face turned a darker shade of red.

"The last one barely counted," she mumbled.

"May I continue then?"

Four weeks, one day ago

As Reptos moved closer, weighing the heavy battle axe in one hand against the other, Psychro knew that he only had one option. It would require the greatest timing of his life, but he thought he was up to the challenge. With his feet free, he would have to try and deflect the swing up so that it hit his chains, hopefully snapping them and, more importantly, not rendering him armless. "For defiling my sister, you will die!" the Reptile roared, sweeping the axe at his exposed throat. At the last second Psychro swung his feet up, knocking the sharp blade up and causing it to hold fast in the drywall behind him. Reptos stared stupidly at the weapon for a moment and at Psychro's head, still attached to his neck, before trying to jerk the weapon free from the wall's grip. "Die with dignity," he snapped, barely avoiding another kick from the desperate Lunatak.

"I don't have dignity," Psychro said, waiting for Reptos to step back in range. "You should've brought a gun. You might have a chance, then again I've heard about your aim."

Reptos charged again, this time stopped by the sound of the door slamming against the wall. Arra stood in the doorway for only a fraction of a second before Ellis was forcing her aside. Primal rage engulfed her as she closed the gap between herself and Reptos, tackling him to the ground and hitting him as hard as she could. Blood spattered every which direction as her fists rendered his face unrecognizable. Psychro felt a strange mixture of horror and pleasure at the sight. He hadn't known that such an animal lived inside her, but her couldn't say he was surprised. Reptos was getting exactly what he deserved, and even with the dozen others present, separating them was next to impossible.

The blood lust faded, Ellis allowed herself to be pulled away and comforted, while Mandora checked for vitals. "He's alive, barely. I doubt even Control has the technology to help him though. We'll try, and if he lives he'll probably face a lengthy trial. I'll push for the death penalty, but our courts don't like giving it out," she reported calmly.

"He's better off dead," Ellis spat, tears streaming down her face. She and Mandora seemed to realize that Psychro was still hanging there at the same time and both women moved to help.

Mandora was closer, and rummaged in Reptos' pockets until she found the key to the manacles, which she then passed on to Ellis. The Lunatak practically fell into her arms, and she helped ease him over to the bed. "So, does that mean we won? It's finally finished?" he asked.

"Not yet. There's still plenty of Mutant waste to get rid of. But I'd say the bulk of it is over," Mandora said. "We'd better get back down with the others before they worry about us. You two can carry him, unless you'd like to be like him." The pair of Jackalmen, who had been transfixed by the sight of the crazed Equine mare, hastily moved to carry Reptos outside. Mandora took the lead, followed by Ellis, supporting Psychro, Arra and the others.

On to Psychro Always Gets His Man...Dora - epilogue
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