Chapter 36


A sharp ringing rattled through the space. Light and dark flashed in and out, like a door opening and closing. The world was like water, formless and unable to be grasped. It was like the feeling of falling and drowning in the spinning mass; then she came to.

Carmelita snapped open her eyes, adjusting as the first thing she noticed was her cracked face shield. As the ringing stopped, she was roughly picked up off the floor by an unseen hand and tossed behind a wall. Dorian sat down next to her, his back pressed against the wall. He reloaded his MP5 as he gasped for breath. "Boss, you OK?" Carmelita sat up stiffly as she patted herself down.

She had trouble catching her breath as she touched a few tears in her padded vest, finding bits of shrapnel embedded inside the kevlar plating. The ringing subsided and she rubbed her soiled visor with her gloved paw. Flipping it up, she felt less claustrophobic with it blocking her face, giving her room to breathe. Remembering Dorian asking her a question, she glanced at him and quickly nodded. Dorian sighed as he checked his ammunition.

The fight had been going on for what felt like hours. Every time any of the officers attempted to move to a better position, Brown would lob out another grenade or fire a concussive round near them. He had them pinned down, his reaction time and aim were incredibly trained. "This guy doesn't mess around," Booker stated as he took out his clip and shook small bits of dirt out of his MP5 before replacing the clip. Carmelita looked to the other end of the hallway, seeing Brassemer and Fujikawa attempting to flank Brown.

Another explosion rocked the prison walls as Brown shot another concussive shell at the officers. Expelling the empty casing from the cylinder ammunition chamber, the large beaver slapped in more shells as he threw another grenade and dashed away. Brassemer and Fujikawa dove away from the first blast, Fujikawa dazed from the initial shock. As Brassemer dusted himself off, he heard the sound of the next grenade and quickly grabbed the back of his partner's vest, and tossed him away from the grenade. The collie leapt away as quickly as he could, but the blast from the grenade tore into his back as the force pushed him forward.

The back of his vest charred and eviscerated, the officer tumbled a few times until he made a stop, lying motionless on the floor. Small trails of smoke wafted from his back as Fujikawa crawled over to the body of his partner and attempted to pull him out from the open. Patting down his smoldering back, Fujikawa checked his partner's vest to see its integrity from the blast. "Brassemer! Partner wake up!" Flipping the canine over, the tanuki examined the collie's black and white spotted face.

"Brass!" He flipped up the man's face shield and touched his muzzle. Bringing a finger to hover just over his dark black nose, Fujikawa could feel a very shallow breath of air fluttering against the small hairs on his finger. He glanced back up at Dorian and Carmelita. "He's alive, but he needs medical help!" Carmelita nodded as she stood up, her back against the wall as she brought up her MP5 to bare. Pressing it to her chest, she glanced to Fujikawa once more.

"We need to get him out of here. Dorian," The ocelot lifted his head at the sound of his name. "Brown's explosives. If we can get our hands on them, we can blast a hole in the wall and make an escape route. The feline quirked his brows in puzzlement.

"The hall's too narrow! The explosions would funnel right into where we're standing at that range!" Carmelita glanced over the corner of her cover and then quickly retreated.

"The end of the hall where Duncan is. He had to leave one of the hallways free of any tripwires, otherwise he wouldn't be able to get to us. We need to get through him and blast a quick hole out of here. There should be enough room." The vixen bit her lip and chewed slightly, assessing the situation longer.

"There can't be an escape for you!" The bellowing voice from over the other side of the hallway caused the animal's ears to perk at attention. "Even now, Coal's plans are coming to fruition! And when it's his time to sow the seeds of his vision, there will be no room in it for any of you heathens!"

"Heathens…" Fox spoke aside. "Who talks like that? Great, not just a maniac with explosives, but a preacher too." Dorian thumbed the safety off of his sub-machine gun.

"Maybe we can use his faith, try and talk himself down from this. The whole 'thou shall not kill,' thing?" A sharp "thunk" sound, and another explosion rocked the prison's foundation. The animals dove for cover, dust caking their uniforms as Carmelita rose off the floor and glanced at the ocelot. "Or…maybe reasoning is out of the question."

Sly Cooper simply watched. He watched as the enemy that haunted his family line and cut down their tree right down to every last root flew off into the sky. The giant metal bird tore a swath through the clouds above, and left an ear shaking screech for the rest of those on land to savor and fear. The animals groaned and clutched their ears to the painful echo from the beast's throat. The raccoon watched unflinching however as the very cause of him being an orphan and having nothing but the faded memories of his parents to remember them of when they were still alive; he simply watched it fly away into the sky. He sighed once more, for what had to be the tenth time. Maybe we're fated to having to fight each other for the rest of our lives, he thought to himself.

Maybe I was meant to be the last Cooper. To spend my youth fighting this bird to the ends of the Earth. "Cooper," the voice sounded far away, yet so close at the same time. "SLY!" Again the voice came, booming through the fog in his mind as the raccoon finally came out of his stupor, being violently shaken by the shoulder. The raccoon turned to see Tom shouting at him. "We need to leave, Sly! Coal's men are coming down on us!"

Cooper merely stared at the jackal for a moment, dumbstruck and unable to respond, his mind was a spiraling storm of thought. A shot whistled past his ear, causing him to duck and quickly dash away with Tom and the rest of the animals gathered nearby. It felt like decades he had been fighting that bird, trying as hard as he could to halt him from being created once more. The bird was like a cancer, how it just festered and grew and that it wouldn't go away as it just sapped away at everything until it was satisfied. Sly thought back to Coal, when he hit him, how hard it felt, how unnatural his speed and reflexes were.

The dark man was able to shrug off four bullets to the chest and laugh at them. Sly raised his head and looked up at Tom, the golden jackal's back to Sly as the group continued sprinting out of the factory, automatic machine-gun fire lacing after them. "Down the hallway! We left it clear!" Indigo Blue shouted as he pointed towards a nearby door.

Murray didn't even stop, he threw his shoulder forward and the door was torn from its hinges. The large hippo made an audible grunt, but the adrenaline from being shot at kept his body from dwelling on the pain for too long. They sprinted as fast as they could, everything just seemed like a dream. Dancing lights laced past them as loud explosions rattled behind them. It was all so vivid and obnoxious, yet it somehow gave them clarity as the only thought on their minds were to continue forward, to get away to safety.

Bentley wheeled his chair as fast as he could, Penelope pushing him hard and latching on as the momentum helped carry them forward on his wheels. The turtle looked to his digital readouts of the compound as he looked for a quick exit. "There," his nasally voice rang out, trying to speak over the rage of gunfire behind them. "Take a right and we should reach the stairs that'll take us to the parking area!" They collectively ran down the fork in the hallway, sprinting back up the spiraling flight of stairs.

Murray stood back as he left everyone else pass him up the stairs, then hoisted Bentley over his head, chair and all in order for the turtle to make it up. The group of animals continued up the stairs, reaching towards the upper levels as they heard the clatter of more footsteps coming behind them, loud curses were thrown at their backs as the odd shot or two would slap against the metal of the stairs at them, making a symphony of twangs to follow them up to the parking area. Gold got to the door first, throwing his leg out to open the door, but it barely nudged, causing the cheetah to tackle it and push it open as quickly as he could. The rest of the group got behind him and pushed outward as the heavy door gave way.

As everyone got outside, Murray set Bentley down and quickly slammed the door shut, bracing it with his arms. Tom, Indigo, Sly and Gold pushed against the door as well when they heard the guardsmen on the other side.

With their combined strength, and the narrow stairway, the guards weren't able to make the door even budge. The four animals on the other side of the metal barrier heard the sound of gunfire smacking against the door, causing slight dents, but otherwise no outside damage. The gunfire stopped and loud shouting was heard faintly from the other side. Indigo began to laugh out loud. "The fools! Hah! Their gunfire's ricocheting back at them!"

"Careful," Tom grunted. "They might try ramming the door open, or use explosives."

"Not likely, old timer." Gold shifted his weight and kicked the door a few times. "This is reinforced. I saw how thick the door was when I tried kicking it up. The shit was heavy enough where we all had to push out to open it in time. They're not getting through this." Hearing the guards disperse, the men all gave a collective sigh and eased their force on the door. Indigo withdrew his collapsible nightstick and wedged the door shut with it.

"Um guys," Bentley turned his head back toward his shoulder a bit. The rest of the animals at the door turned around as Bentley raised his hands above his head. Six men, all dressed in black coats and holding Uzis at their hips pointed towards the group, greeting them. Sly narrowed his gaze at the small box shaped guns pointed at him, and then back up to the guards. The raccoon looked to Indigo, the malamute beginning to raise his hands over his head.

Sly cleared his throat, getting the dog's attention. Blue glanced at the raccoon who also had his hands raised, the raccoon staring intensely at the black and white dog. Blue narrowed his gaze at him in thought, and noticed Cooper making very subtle hand gestures, jerking his fingers toward the dog's hip. Tom was looking out of the corner of his eye, his head turned to his right shoulder as he noted the silent conversation the two animals were having. He quickly turned back to face forward as he heard the guards. "Everyone drop your weapons, and then keep your hands on your head." The guard barked his orders, stepping ahead of the others assembled behind him.

Sly noted the icon on his lapel. He must have been higher ranked, differentiating between him and the other guards. His dark black face markings reminded the raccoon of Coal, and the thought of their earlier engagement came back to the front of his mind. He clenched his jaw in anger as the guards began to disarm their friends. Cooper glanced back to Blue, the dog seeing the raccoon move out of his peripheral vision .

Cooper did the same gesture to Indigo as he did prior. Blue had noticed on his left hip was another one of his grenades filled with his nerve gas. The dog subtly took note of it as he remained rigid in his expression, not giving any insight to the guards what the two were planning. Cooper nodded to the dog, Indigo seeing a hint of opportunity. Cooper then waited as the guards came to him.

"Your stick," one of them said in French, a Doberman. "Drop it now." The raccoon looked at his cane held above his head, gripping it tighter. The guard leveled his Uzi to point right between Cooper's eyes. "Drop it…now." The raccoon felt a drop of sweat sliding slowly down his cheek. He nodded to the guard and began to lower his arm. Glancing for a fraction of a second to Blue, the malamute looked to the guard pointing at Sly and tensed his body, rigid as stone.

Cooper closed his eyes, the world slowed around him as he spun the cane around in his hand, slamming the end of the shaft onto the ground. A small click, and thick smoke hissed out of the end of the cane. Ducking quickly, the raccoon jumped away. All in a slow pace, Sly soared through the air as he lunged, tackling Bentley and Penelope standing close by, sending them to the floor. He was able to see every reaction to their faces as he glanced up to see Scarlet turning around, Tom grabbing her and Gold with his arms outstretched and flooring them as well. 13 and Murray ran out of the way, scattering in opposite directions as their movement became shielded by the growing cloud of smoke.

Time crawled as Blue pulled the pin from the grenade, the small metal piece twirling in the air slowly as it drifted down like a feather. He drew his arm back, and as time began to revert to its normal pace, the malamute uttered, "Hold your breath." Tossing the canister into the thick of where the guards were standing prior, Blue then dived to the floor with the rest of the animals. A few shots rang out, sailing past them and in the confusion, there was a sudden cascade of maddened screaming. Everyone had their heads down, their eyes closed and prayed the smoke hid them well enough.

Shots rang out, people yelling hysterically and howls of agony echoing through the parking structure. Everyone held their breath, cradling themselves on the cold concrete floor. The suspense was agonizing, the stress unimaginable on their minds as they feared to even take a breath of air and simply huddled on the ground together. As the shouting and shooting continued, one person in particular howled madly as he expended all the bullets in his clip in the matter of a few seconds. More shots rang out.

And then everything was silent. Cooper perked up his ears, not hearing anything as he held Penelope and Bentley under his arms. He felt them shift their bodies uncomfortably under him and he eased his weight off of their smaller frames. Opening his eyes, he glanced around, feeling slightly lightheaded from still holding his breath. Blue was looking around, glancing at Cooper. The dog shook his head and signaled with his hands not to breathe yet. As the cloud mixed with the noxious miasma of Blue's grenade began to fade, the malamute stood up and drew in a breath.

Scarlet pushed Tom off her as she was mentally counting when it was safe to breathe again, her knowing more than anyone else besides Blue himself of how his gas grenades worked. "It's alright, everyone. You can breathe now." As Blue spoke, the whole group collectively exhaled at last. Bentley coughed and gave a sneeze.

"Guh, remind me to work on my lung strength after this. Is everyone -

"Oh my god…" Everyone turned to look at the assortment of black clad bodies in the middle of the parkway. The guards, in their confusion had ripped themselves apart, blood pooling around the cascade of corpses that littered the floor.

"Blue…what the hell?!" Sly's voice echoed all across the parking structure as he stared daggers towards the malamute. "They're massacred. What was in that grenade?!" The dog huffed and drew out a cigarette.

"You're the one who told me to throw it, you troglodyte. Why are you bitching at me?" He began to light his smoke as he looked at the bodies on the floor. "I guess they were scared as to what they saw. They must have mistaken their own men for threats in their warped minds and gunned each other down in the smoke." Sly's brows came together in a solid grimace as he jabbed a finger at Blue.

"We weren't supposed to kill them, just incapacitate them while we escaped! What the hell happened? We cleared out the guards here the same way and they didn't rip each other apart!" The dog sighed out a geyser of smoke, glancing up to see Murray and 13 coming back from their cover behind a support pillar.

"People can react differently to the toxin. Couple that with being caught in smoke with no where to look and having a fully loaded gun in their hands, what the hell did you expect, you fool? If you didn't want them dead, you should have taken that into consideration! I thought you more clever than that, Cooper."

The raccoon was disarmed, he couldn't think of anything to rebuttal with. He analyzed the situation, Blue was right in the raccoon's eyes. It was his call that caused these people to die. Their blood was on the thief's hands. Was it there was no other way? There had to be, all his life he had never resorted to taking another living person's life. He always viewed it as there was always another way to that.

Cooper took a step back, his body shook slightly as he felt the tingle of shock coming over him. Penelope helped Bentley back into his wheelchair and touched Cooper on the shoulder. "Sly, it's ok. They were going to kill us. They wanted to disarm us, but I could see it in their eyes, they weren't planning on taking us back alive. They were going to execute us after they were sure we couldn't react. Sly, your call saved us all." Cooper shivered as he felt the mouse touch his shoulder.

He looked down at his hands, the blue gloves soiled with dirt and oil and all manner of things. He shook his head and cleared the fog from his mind. Regret would have to wait. He then began rebuilding his thoughts as he turned and walked past the group and gestured to Tom. The jackal glanced up, straightening his coat collar. "Tom..." the raccoon began.

"Coal…he…What is he?" The jackal made a noticeable flinch in the expression on his face, belying his calm demeanor. "I saw you shoot him in the chest four times. He didn't even feel pain. He hit me in the jaw so hard it felt like a jackhammer. He jumped so high into the air and his arm didn't even flinch as he fired his desert eagle at us, with just one hand."

The group all looked to Tom, the sandy haired jackal darting his gaze around slightly before turning back to Sly. The raccoon continued. "I understand now why you wanted us to all wait and attack Coal together. He's…not normal, is he?" Tom drew his bottom lip into his teeth and chewed lightly.

"No, he is not. Mr. Cooper, you've dealt with plenty in the supernatural world, this shouldn't come as a surprise to you. Let's just think of him as gifted. For all we know, he could have been wearing kevlar."

"Your deflecting the question, Tom." Scarlet stepped forward, crossing her arms and standing in a way that broadcasted hostility in her body language. "Spill it. We've been too lenient with you." There was a long pause, the group began to make a small semi-circle around Tom.

"Since you won't say…" Sly spoke "…Coal's…master plan. Do you have any idea how he wants to achieve it? What it is, and why he wanted to make a new Clockwerk?" Everyone had their eyes trained on Tom for what he was going to answer. Penelope and Bentley soon joined the rest of the group around the jackal, the small mouse girl replacing a few of her belongings into a backpack strapped to the back of Bentley's wheelchair.

Tom sighed as he looked up at the ceiling, Indigo puffing on the cigarette in his lips. The cheetah Gold, noticed Blue, and gestured if he could bum a smoke from the dog. Finally, the jackal spoke, and surprisingly abruptly. "Coal is going to Kane Island."

The forceful tremor caught them off guard. Knocking their already weak legs to the floor, all the animals, including Duncan as well rested on their hands and knees as it seemed the world itself was about to shake apart. Accompanying this was an ear splitting screech. Covering her sensitive ears that still rang from the previous grenade from Brown, Carmelita let out a pained shout. Dorian cursed and clutched his ears. Fujikawa dropped his partner's limp form as he was compelled to grab his ears to block out the horrid noise.

As quickly as the sound came, sharp and erratic as a rusty nail dragging against a chalkboard, it vanished, leaving the lingering echo of the otherworldly scream to rattle in their eardrums. "What…was that?" Booker stood up as he grabbed his gun and assisted Carmelita. She drew up a paw in protest as she was able to stand on her own.

"If that's what I think it is. We need to get back to Sly and the others now!" As if to answer her question, a grenade tinked down the hallway. Dorian quickly grabbed the back of Carmelita's vest and yanked her away from the grenade with all his strength. Landing on her tail, Carmelita grunted as she stood back up, the blast of the grenade only sent a ripple in the air from the force of the explosion, but she was otherwise unharmed.

"We need to get close to him," she mused mostly to herself. Glancing to Fujikawa who leaned over the corner to see what Brown was up to, Fox looked over her shoulder to Booker. "We'll need a distraction. Any ideas?" The ocelot flattened his ears under his helmet in thought, then the idea came to. Taking off his helmet, he inspected it for a moment before placing it on the barrel of his MP5.

"I'll be right back," the ocelot said, and as turned around and made his way to one of the wired off hallways. Facing the spider web of tripwires all connected to the incendiary grenades, the feline held his breath, threw his helmet out towards the lines and then quickly sprinted away. As the wires bent to catch the plated helmet that was tossed into its open embrace, a few metallic clicks reverberated off the walls as many pins cascaded down the floor like water drops. A sudden burst and in a chain reaction from the heat triggered all the other white phosphorous grenades to ignite, sending a tornado of flames to spiral down the hallway. Dorian dove, feeling the heat nipping at the back of his neck.

Rolling out of the way, he placed his back to the outer wall where the hallway ended as the flames began to dissipate, unable to find anything to burn in its concrete tomb. Booker took in a new breath, the smell of burnt hair filled his nostrils as he felt the back of his neck. A few of the singed hairs had small whitish tips on them that flaked off into ashes as he ran his hands over them. "I opened us a new route," he breathed to Carmelita. The vixen nodded as she whistled to Fujikawa.

"Get Brassemer over here, I got you covered!" The tanuki nodded and shouldered his unconscious partner, raising up onto his feet. With a glance down the hallway, he heard Carmelita signal for him to move and the tanuki sprinted as quickly as he could with the dead weight on his body. Inspector Fox leaned out of cover right as she saw Brown raise up his grenade launcher and began to spray bullets in his general direction. The desired effect, he retreated back to cover, and Fujikawa rested his friend down against the scorched concrete wall of the hallway.

Carmelita held her firearm by the shoulder strap and knelt down to inspect Brassemer. Opening his face mask, she took her glove off and opened one of his eyes. She clicked her fingers together a few times, and observed his pupils a moment. Taking his helmet off, he instructed Fujikawa if he had any cranial bleeding or other injuries as she walked over to Booker. "We have a way to flank him now, but he still has ammunition. I'm not risking us getting in too close and this whack-job decides to go Taliban on us."

Booker nodded and drew up his gun. "If we go in for the flank, we'll need to distract him long enough to not be able to toss more grenades. If we keep him pinned down, maybe we can flush him out." Carmelita looked to Fujikawa down on the floor, then back down the hallways as she crept over to the edge of the wall. Looking out, she didn't see Brown, but he was most likely hiding behind cover much as they were.

"He's still too entrenched in there, and we don't know how much more ammunition he has. He could be setting more traps for us right now too." The fox bit her lip. "Damn…"

"What if two of us keep him pinned down while another sneaks up on him?" Booker glanced down as Fujikawa spoke, standing up from his partner's form. He turned to Carmelita. "He has a minor concussion from what I see. He's starting to become more awake, but we need to get him to a hospital." The Asian man then nodded down the hallway. "If we keep Brown's focus on us, someone can get behind him and take him out."

Carmelita analyzed the situation more, inspecting the length of the hallway as she quietly walked down their length and looked at which direction it was heading. As she expected, there were more tripwires to be seen that blocked most of the routes, except the ones Brown used himself in order to move around. She quirked a brow in thought, then returned to the other animals. "There's a few halls we can use to flank him. If we lay down suppressive fire, it could be possible to sneak up on him if he doesn't plan on moving around too much." They grew quiet.

"So," Booker said. "Who's gonna be the one to do it?"

"I'll go," Fujikawa spoke up. "I'm smaller, he won't see me coming." Carmelita folded her arms and glanced down at Brassemer. The collie was breathing loudly, but otherwise seemed stable.

"I've not much ammunition left, and we'll need someone to get Brassemer out of here when this is all over." She ejected her clip and looked to see how many bullets she had left. Glancing back at Fujikawa, she looked him up and down. "And no offence Fujikawa, but if that guy gets the chance, he'll be able to pick you up and throw you through a wall without any trouble." Booker looked up at Carmelita then and snapped his fingers.

"Carm, you were able to take down thugs like Mugshot, right? I read in your reports in Prague, you took him down and were still able to pursue Cooper. The man was twice your size and three times your weight and you took him down with a few kicks and a shock pistol. If anyone can beat this beaver down, it's you." The fox glanced ahead, then sighed.

She looked back to Dorian, then Fujikawa. Finally, she nodded. "I'll go," as she stood up. "Fujikawa, get Brassemer out of here. We'll keep Brown busy while you two get away. Dorian." She turned to the feline who stood up as well. "Give me a distraction."

He gave a swift nod and pressed his shoulder to the wall. The fox withdrew the 9mm strapped to her thigh and switched off the safety. The small ridges on the handle bit into her gloved pads of her hands. Heat rushed to her face as sweat condensed at her brow just under her riot helmet. "Inspector," she heard a call from over her shoulder. Fujikawa, as he shouldered his friend's limp body, he reached down to his waist.

"If he gets close." He unsheathed a carbon steel knife from his waist, flipped it in his hand and offered it handle first to her. Carmelita took the black knife and inspected it a moment. Nodding to Fujikawa, she turned to Dorian as she felt the stiff grip of the knife in her other hand.

"On three." Dorian drew his firearm up to his shoulder. The adrenaline pumping into Carmelita's body made her fingers twitch. She could hear her own heartbeat, rattling through her head, up her throat and pounding against her ears. She closed her eyes, taking a few breathes that sounded as loud as a crashing tsunami wave. She barely heard Dorian slowly counting down the numbers.

Exhaling, he slowly opened her eyes, her gloves stretching as she gripped the knife and pistol in her hands.


The abruptness of his answer caused a few people to raise their brows. Bentley's lips wavered as he began to speak.

"W-wait, Kane Island? But it sank when we…Clockwerk…" Sly turned to the turtle.

"What is it, Bentley?"

"That's…just the theory but…well the schematics showed certain modifications to Clockwerk's design. Coal was able to jump inside of Clockwerk and steer him as if he were a fighter jet. With his large size, reinforced plates, his sleeker design, plus the adjustable talons on his legs and the adaptable propulsion system…" Bentley trailed off in thought for a moment, but Cooper already knew what his friend was going to say.

"Clockwerk's going to Kane Island and dredge the ocean for the Cooper Vault…" the raccoon then quickly turned to Tom. "How do you know this? How do you know about the vault, or Kane Island? Or…any of this?! Who the hell are you?" Tom drew his hands up defensively.

"Our organization has tabs on your family, Sly. We've gathered this information over a long period of time, well before you were born. But after the death of your father were we obligated to get far more involved than we originally wanted. Sly, the sort of wealth your lineage created, it's enough to remake the world. Exactly what Coal plans to do with it.

"We could not have an entire family running around with that sort of power unchecked." Cooper's hands shook as the grip on his cane tightened, and he turned his back to Tom before he did something he would regret. "We dug up more info on Coal's databases stating his interest in the vault your ancestors created. That's the moment we knew what he was planning to do. We originally were here to protect Inspector Fox, the woman that helped you defeat Clockwerk twice and finish him once and for all. She is…was the key to all of this, your success against Clockwerk was because of her."

Cooper looked to the side, remembering the sight of dropping the hate chip on the ground, and Carmelita stomping it into dust on the Paris streets. It felt like a lifetime ago when that happened, yet he remembered it like yesterday, those handful of years ago. Tom continued as Sly's memory faded. "Sly, with Clockwerk operational again, we need to regroup and get you to Kane Island. Only a Cooper's Kane can open the vault door, right?"

Sly shook his head. "It's already open…" he sighed in disdain. "I never closed it when I opened it after the scuffle with Dr. M. I was…just in such a hurry to see the inside of it. I never closed it. And then as we were retreating from the Island's collapse, the vault caved in and sank into the ocean, but it was still open."

Cooper gritted his teeth and cursed as he whacked his cane against a wall in frustration. "Dammit!" He felt almost on the verge of tears as he was fighting to choke down his anger. The thought of getting everything of his family that was lost to him, only for it to be turned around and used to fuel Coal's madness made Sly sick to his stomach. He stood up straight as he sighed.

"Bentley. Do you still have the map and layouts of Kane Island?" The turtle glanced up from thought as he motioned for Penelope to hand him his laptop. Opening the computer, he thumbed through a few files until he brought up the plans he had replicated himself.

"Right here, Sly. Judging from the mass of the vault and the patterns of ocean currents in that particular area over four years. It would be safe to assume the vault is close by to where we saw it sink into the ocean...give or take a few thousand leagues under water." The raccoon nodded and turned to the rest of the team.

"Then that's where we're headed." The rest of the group looked amongst themselves. Gold sighed and ground his teeth. Scarlet lifted Blue's arm so it draped around her shoulders as the malamute chewed on the end of his cigarette.

"And how do you propose we get there, captain wow?" Blue waved his hand around in mock grandiose until Scarlet elbowed him in the stomach, causing him to drop his cigarette from between his fingers. Murray gave a loud chuckle from behind everyone.

"Heh, you guys don't know? Sly's like, the richest guy on the planet with what we we're able to pick up from the vault. He could all get us a plane or…a freakin' navy battleship or something to get to Kane Island in a heartbeat!" Sly chuckled as he noticed all eyes were now on him.

"As cool as that would be, I think we should keep things discreet here. Dropping a couple billion dollars on a military battleship might cause suspicion…unless we could find a truck big enough and we can just buy it with the gold and jewels." Bentley typed on his computer for a few moments as everyone was talking.

"Well buying a truck wouldn't be as suspicious as getting a whole ship. But I suggest maybe something a little less...intense." Bentley typed furiously along the keyboard as the animals around him began peering over his shoulder. The turtle sank his head into his shell slightly as he felt everyone hovering over him, but he found what he was looking for quickly. He pointed at the screen.

"That!" He closed his eyes, a look of satisfaction glowing vibrantly over his whole face. Everyone leaned in closer for a good look. Tom was the first to speak up.

"It's a Chinook. Mr. Turtle, you plan on buying one of these?" The reptile nodded, adjusting his glasses.

"The Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Perfect for what we need. Plenty of room to transport all of us and our equipment, and fast enough to reach Kane Island in a matter of hours as long as we stay out of air traffic routes." Blue rolled his eyes. "You expect us to waltz over to a military base and flash them enough money and walk away with that behemoth? Do any of you even know how to fly it?"

"We don't" Sly spoke up. "But I know someone who does. Hopefully she's began to contain the riot threat around Paris and we can get her to fly us through the Pacific and get us to the remains of the island." The raccoon folded his arms as he glanced over towards the outside, the residual damage caused from the looters and rioters having subsided in this area of the city. He wondered where exactly Carmelita was at the moment; he worried deeply for her safety and a gnawing anxiety agitated his stomach.

Her legs burned and flexed as she leapt through the air. The thunder of Dorian's rapid fire spattering against Duncan's cover echoed in her ears. As she sailed through the air, drawing her hand back that clutched the knife, she could see the small movement of Brown's eyes as she shifted to his right. As quickly as he could, he whacked her hand away with the barrel of his grenade launcher. Not fast enough however as the tip drew a line of crimson along his forearm.

Grunting to the sting, he kicked her squarely in the stomach and sent her back a few inches. Flipping back up onto her feet, Carmelita withdrew her pistol and fired without hesitation. Brown dove, tossing a grenade as he retreated. Seeing the small M67 rolling on the floor, she glanced away and rolled back into the hallway where she came from. The shock of the blast sent a tremor through the walls as she drew her firearm up and steadied her aim.

A deep, anger filled growl came from around the corner as Duncan grabbed the small vixen in his powerful arms. Squeezing the tiny orange animal in his arms, Carmelita grunted painfully as she felt her ribs beginning to get pushed beyond their flexibility. Her legs lifted off the floor, she thrashed her leg back and forth until she felt her heel strike something solid. Brown grunted in agony as he crashed to his knee. Carmelita, feeling the pressure loosen, burst from his grip and turned around, quickly sweeping her leg out to connect with the man's jaw. The roundhouse was devastating as the beaver drew back, coughing out droplets of blood.

As Carmelita drew her pistol to bare, Brown clutched the small firearm in his large hand and pointed it away, wrenching it from the fox's tiny hand and following through with a punch, knocking her back and blasting the wind out of her. Croaking like a frog, she painfully drew in air as she staggered to her feet. Duncan, still holding Carmelita's sidearm in his grip sized her up before dismantling the 9mm. Cracking his knuckles, he held his arms up and coaxed her to make a move. Shots rang out, startling them both as Brown took cover again. Dorian, down the length of the hallway emptied the last of his clip as he cursed under his breath, hearing the hollow clicking noise of the submachine gun.

"Shit, shit, shit," he whispered under his breath as he took cover again and pulled out his sidearm. Duncan came around the corner, but Fox was waiting for him. Holding up Fujikawa's knife. The beaver drew up his arms in a boxer's stance. Rushing forward, he threw his arm up to block a swipe from Carmelita. The knife scraped against his forearm, but the brown animal drew the length of his limb forward to cross against the vixen's head, knocking her helmet askew.

Jumping back, she panted from exhaustion and threw her heavy riot helmet to the floor. Her hair spooled about her in a tangled, sweaty mess of dark tendrils. Duncan's cheat heaved, his left arm cried crimson as he tore off his flak jacket and resumed a boxer stance. Carmelita smirked, disregarding the situation she was in. For being a hired gun, the man knows some honor.

Placing the blade down onto the floor, she tightened her gloved hands and bent her knees. Brown pressed his lips together, and all at once, in a startling display of speed, pounced. The inspector was nearly floored, but she pirouetted away just as Brown's meaty fingers scraped the ends of her tail fur. Leaping into the air, she threw her leg out and caught Duncan in the jaw, but the beaver wrapped his arm around her thigh and used her momentum to slam her into the ground. Landing with a hard thud, Carmelita rolled away from the giant man's booted foot as it nearly crushed her.

Flipping herself up off the floor, her tail swirled behind her, and she sprinted towards him. With his arms out to brace her oncoming onslaught, Duncan gasped as the petite fox slid right between his legs and climbed up his back. With a strong grip, she clamped her forearm around his thick neck and pulled hard with her other arm, locking her to him. He thrashed like a shark tearing at its prey. Growling and snarling as he clawed at her arms around his neck. All the while, Carmelita lifted her legs from his back and kicked him repeatedly in the ribs and the kidneys.

The pain was excruciating, but with his mind focused, the beaver continued to thrash through the agony. "I have had enough OF YOU!" With his roar of outrage, he reached back as far as the swell of his biceps would allow him and grabbed the back of Carmelita's uniform. Prying her off like a life sucking tick from his backside, he held her in his hands off the floor before tossing her into a wall. Throwing up her arm, her wrist and shoulder twisted in a painful direction from the wall's impact, and she landed less than gracefully on the cold concrete floor.

Panting, sweat dripped from her chin as she blinked painfully. She glanced up and saw Duncan coughing as he clutched his sides. Blood dribbled from his mouth as he felt his ribs. The vixen staggered as she stood up, wiping her mouth with the back end of her hand and slowly walked towards the beaver. Finishing his coughing fit, Duncan listlessly raised his head, only for his nose to meet Carmelita's fist.

He flew back, surprised the little woman had such a force in her fist. The fox laughed, and then she too fell flat on her back. The tremors of boots quickly rapping against the concrete reverberated into her ears. She slowly opened her eyes and saw Dorian rushing to her side. "Is he…down?"

Booker looked to the beaver still on the floor as he gently helped the female back to her feet. "Yeah…he's not getting back up for awhile." Resting heavily on her partner's shoulder, the vixen hobbled over to the limp form of Duncan Brown. The beaver's eyes shifted, fluttering weakly as he looked up at the two officers standing above him. "What is Coal's plan?"

She gripped his collar and lifted him off the ground slightly. His lips were stained red as he painfully winced through a blink of his eyes. Carmelita's gaze as cold and deadly as she bore into his eyes. "He," he paused after a cough. "Will never say to me. I'm just a professional doing a job."

The vixen dropped him harshly on the floor. "Bullshit. You're one of his top assassins. He staged all these prison breaks to lure me out and to keep the rest of the entire law enforcement of Paris busy. He planned something big, you will tell me, or you'll be choking on your fat buckteeth." His chuckling echoed through the halls of the bombed out building. He reached slowly in his pocket as he continued to speak.

"He doesn't care about me. He cares little for anything else but his own world." He withdrew a small remote device and with a quick flick of his thumb, pressed a small button under a guard cap. "He's already taken flight. Whether we like it or not…your world will end." A soft beeping chirped down the hallway, getting louder and louder as a sudden barrage of red lights blinked from within the pockets of the discarded flak jacket on the floor. Both officers quickly turned around, but not before Carmelita kicked the side of Duncan's torso in frustration.

"We will find him, you sick bastard!" Duncan simply laughed on the floor as he watched them hobble away. "Saves him the trouble of finding you…" he chuckled as he craned his neck towards the beeping flak jacket and the strings of wires connected to the explosives strapped to the walls. "There shall be a reckoning…Carmelita Fox." In an instant, a tidal wave of fire and shrapnel erupted, engulfing everything in the blink of an eye.

Dorian and Carmelita hobbled down the halls together as they felt the explosion rock the interior of the prison. Glancing back, the vixen's eyes grew as she saw the glow of flames begin to intensify. "Quick!" She grit her teeth through the pain in her limbs and they continued to madly dash towards the closest window or wall they could jump out of. The corridor of concrete stretched on for ages, all the while, the two animals could feel the heat begin to lick at the back of their uniforms.

Finally, a bombed out window presented itself to them. Dorian vaulted Carmelita up to the windowsill, pushing her up over the lip and quickly tried to climb up with his arms. The vixen used her uninjured arm to grab Dorian's hand and pulled up him with all her might. The white phosphorous flames engulfed his booted feet as the two spilled out of the window. Landing hard on the ground outside, a large gush of heat flew out of each wall, hole, and window of the building. What areas were left had small flames cling to them, a soft flutter of ash and sparks rained down on the two officers as a group of squad cars and fire engines raced up to the building.

Firefighters spilled forth, rolling out the hoses and racing to the prison. "Get the fires out before the spread to the lawns!" A pair of EMT's escorted the two soot covered Interpol agents to an ambulance. Carmelita batted their hands away as she stood up straighter, wiping her eyes from the ashes around her cheeks.

"I'm fine, relax. The building is lost." She continued to give her report to another officer as Dorian turned around, looking down the end of the freeways of Paris. The city was in chaos. Road blocks and the National Guard vehicles zoomed down the sidewalks. Helicopters and News vehicles added to the tornado noise and commotion.

"…and that ear piercing screech a few hours ago. Did anyone see what was happening outside?" Dorian's ears flicked toward the vixen as she continued speaking. The officer she was speaking to began to respond.

"Lieutenant Lebou reported a few moments after that happened, Inspector." The officer flipped through his notepad as he continued speaking to Carmelita. "Said he witnessed a UFO the side of…Christ, nothing short of a sport zeppelin at least." The vixen leaned in closer.

"Sergeant, did he get a look at the shape of this object?" The officer flipped through his notepad a few pages and stopped as he drew the pencil from behind his ear.

"He did. Said it mimicked the silhouette of a very large bird of prey. Huge wingspan and a compact looking body." Carmelita looked back from the officer and stared directly at Dorian over her shoulder. Booker overheard their conversation and took off his riot helmet with a sigh, rubbing his tired eyes.

"We need to find that bird…"