Metal Saga Prequel
An Iron Wolf's Halloween
Syx Maxwell 10-2002
revised and reposted 02/2019
Martika Tallant watched her ten year old ward/cousin as he returned home from school. A little over a year had passed since he'd come to live with her and she liked to think that he was happy in his new home. She chuckled as he shed his light denim jacket and jumped a little to hang it up on the hook. His hair was now long enough to be pulled back into a neat tail and he was already in danger of outgrowing his jeans.
"How was school munchkin?"
"It was okay. Cousin Marti? Do you celebrate Halloween?"
"Sure do. We usually throw a kickin Samhein bash every year. Are you okay with that?" She suddenly remembered his very Catholic upbringing.
"I thought I was suppose to work on tolerance."
"There's tolerance, and then there is being uncomfortable in your own home kid."
"I understand Marti. Can I think about it?"
"Sure thing kiddo."
The next night Klaus settled unto his bed with a stack of books from the school library. Some were fictional fun, other dealt with religion, but by the time he was done reading he bounded down the stairs with a smile.
"Marti! What should I be for Halloween?"
The long legged American tipped her head to the side, "Leave it to me Klaus. I got a plan."
"Wanna be a samurai?"
It only took a few phone calls and she had a blue and white crane style kimono and hakama on it's way. Geta slippers and tabi socks were easily procured as was the small boken for to fit Klaus' hand.
Once costuming was acquired it was time to decorate the ranch. Panzer and the other horses were moved to the pens long the drive. Manes and tail were braided and adorned. Vegetable dyes were mixed to decorate the sleek healthy coats.
Rubber bats and ghosts were hung on the fences posts while a mummy and vampire guarded the entrance to the ranch. Cobwebs of cotton and huge pumpkins decorated the wrap-around porch. The pumpkins would be carved the day before Halloween and the meat used for pies and treats. Massive bags of candy were purchased for visitors and for the class party at Klaus' school.
Marti had chuckled when she read the note sent home with Klaus. It stated that students were allowed to wear their costumes to school and please send one treat for the class party. Marti promptly bought a huge bag of pocky for him to take to school. She had no problem inflicting sugar buzzed kids on teachers.
Marti laughed for an hour when she found out Isabella Chastain, Klaus' best friend, was dressed as a ninja. It was just too perfect. Marti was sure they had the prizes for best costume locked up.
The trio arrived the day before and took up their customary rooms in the house. For some odd reason, Sugar would look at Klaus and smile in that `Mona Lisa' way. It was nearly enough to drive Marti slap up the wall.
When the 31st arrived, Klaus woke an hour early. After a quick shower, he tugged on a pair of shorts and darted downstairs for breakfast. While he ate, Marti carefully steamed the wrinkles from the blue crane style silks and gave the lacquered bamboo armor one last inspection. Once Klaus was finished eating, he changed into a white tank top and biker shorts.
It took nearly twenty minutes to get him dressed in the flowing gi and hakama. With the boy dressed, she managed to tug him into a sitting position. Long smooth strokes slowly tamed his now fairly long hair into a high ponytail that she bound up with a length of white ribbon.
The real task was applying the white kabuki-style makeup along with the black eyeliner. Klaus wasn't really in the mood to hold still for it, but it was finally finished. With his boken tucked into his obi and a bag filled with pocky, he was ready to go. She could hear Leopard chuckling as Klaus hopped up into the Ford F350.
That afternoon Klaus all but skipped into the house. He'd won the prize for best costume at school. Even better, he'd had an absolute blast eating his lunch of miso soup, gyoza, and soba noodles. Chopsticks weren't all that hard to use after all.
"Have a good day munchkin?" Leopard rumbled from his seat in the kitchen.
"Yes!" He waved the award under the tall man's nose. Leopard could smell the chocolate on the boy's breath as he laughed and showed him the other prize, a gift certificate to a local bookstore.
"Good Ceasar wanted to know if you would like him to take you trick-or-treating."
"Yes! Can Izzy-B come too?"
"I don't see why not. You want me to call Max and ask him?"
"Yes please." Klaus laughed as he ran to his room. Marti barely stepped out of his way, her hands full with a huge bowl of candy. Leopard only shook his head, "Ceasar, I hope you know what you're getting into."
Ceasar was still adjusting his costume when Issabella's father US Marshal Maxwell Chastain called to let them know he would drop her off after she ate dinner. It was a blatant attempt to halt the impending sugar overdose. Klaus was all but vibrating with anticipation of his first Halloween, or maybe it was a caffeine and the bag of pocky he had tucked in his room.
Finally dusk arrived and with it, his sidekick, companion, and best friend. The black clad girl tumbled form the car like a eager puppy and pounced on Klaus. The two rolled around the porch giggling while Max walked over to Sugar. In a stage whisper he asked, "Does he know what he's let himself in for?"
"Not a clue Max." The precognitive smiled.
"So what're the odds?"
"Well Lep has twenty on Ceasar lasting three hours. Marti put down the same for four hours."
"What about you?"
"I'm holding the kitty on this one. Unfair advantage and all that. Are you in?"
"I'll match for five hours."
"It'll take them a while to get wound up on sugar before breaking him."
Sugar grinned and took the money, "For a Marshal you are a bad, bad man."
"It's a single dad thing. Isabella!"
The little girl looked up from her perch on Klaus' stomach and grinned, "Yes daddy?"
"You mind Ceasar."
Klaus helped her back up and they ran inside laughing. Max just shook his head, "The poor bastard will never know what hit him. Call me if they take over the world?"
Marti chuckled as she wiped her hands on a towel. Standing next to Sugar she said, "We don't have any jobs in the wings, so don't sweat it Max. I can watch her if you get hung up on this assignment."
"I owe you one Marti."
"Eh, we single parents got to stick together. I think I still have the clothes she left form her last stay as well."
During all this the terrible two were plotting in Klaus' room.
"Okay, I refilled the sport bottles with soda. That should keep us going for an extra few hours. Now here's the sweep pattern I think we should use. That way we can net the max in candy with a least amount of time. That will give us more time at the rec center party before we head back here for the Samhein bash Marti is throwing."
"We get to stay up for it?"
"Marti said we could but we will have to get up in the morning."
"Life is good."
Three hours later Ceasar was praying for stamina or mercy. It wasn't that the kids were bad, just very very hyper. The two ten year olds completed each sweep of the small town as though running a search pattern. Each section was town was cleared with meticulous precision. When their bags grew too heavy, they were emptied into the utility bins in the trunk of the car.
The blond also noted how his two terrors would slip extra candy into the bags of smaller children.
With the tactical raid complete, they headed for the rec center. Brave adults ran various games and snack areas for the sugar crazed munchkins. Isabella and Klaus hurried inside with empty bags, intent on winning `mad amounts of loot'. About halfway through the party, the little girl chose to shed the mask. She was wide eyed from sugar and soda and giggling while leave a trail of caffeine particles in her wake.
In retrospect, she should have left the cloth covering on.
Klaus on the other hand wasn't hyper� No he was just very alert. They slipped away form where their chaperon was chatting with one of their teachers to play the ring toss game... Klaus was in the middle of winning a huge stuffed dog when a hand landed on her shoulder.
Isabella opened her mouth only to feel cold steel rest against her neck. A low voice whispered in her ear, "Make a sound and we'll kill you and the boy."
She froze, utterly. Her helpless gaze found Klaus'. She gave a slight shake of her head and saw his eyes narrow. Understanding lit those green eyes, then he faded back into the crowd. She could only hope he went for help. Klaus was her best friend, she would die if he was hurt because of her!
The man guided her outside and into the cool night air. She spoke softly to ask why he was doing this to her, but was promptly slapped. Blood welled up from her split lip. She was shocked, having never been slapped in her life. Something she once over heard while slinking through the ranch house with Klaus came back to her, Marti's voice saying; `If you go into a fight thinking you won't get hurt, it can get you killed. When you do get tagged, shock can stop you faster than a brick wall. Expect to get hurt, be prepared, it will keep you alive.'
Those words brought her back to life as the man snarled, "Listen little girl. You are our insurance. Your Daddy forgets what he saw last month, he gets you back alive. If he doesn't, you die."
It didn't really surprise her that it was related to her father's job. She had been warned to be careful. All she could do now was try to be ready to escape, and be grateful that Klaus wasn't in the middle of this mess.
Klaus was not as far out as Isabella thought. He watched the man pull his Issy out of the building and made a decision that would change the path of his life. He didn't run to an adult, and he didn't warn Ceasar, no he followed them with cold determination in his eyes. In his head he remembered Marti's cool words, `If anyone ever grabs you, do whatever you have to and get away. Most kidnapping victims are never found alive because they know what the criminals look like. You get out alive, I'll worry about the details.'
He tracked the men quietly and sneered. They were sloppy to him, not realizing all the games of `Hide and Track' and `Sneak and Peak' gave him an edge a child of his youth should not have. Isabella was shoved into a corner and tied up as the men plotted their next move.
He watched the two men leave her in the shadows and enter a side room. The moment the door shut, he was moving. He clung to the shadows until he reached her side. His eyes measured each bruise and welt on her fair skin and anger turned to rage. That rage grew until suddenly� Noting. It was as though a blanket of odd calm settled over him.
She was crying silently, tears making tracks in her dust covered bruised cheeks. He settled on his heels in front of her and made himself a promise. Never again would anyone hurt someone that belonged to him. He waited for her to calm a bit before cutting her loose. His eyes focused on the door the kidnappers had shut behind them.
"Can you run?"
"Get out of here."
"I got a plan."
"I'm helping." The steel in her voice made him glance over. The shock had left her eyes instead it was replaced with iron determination. Oh they were well aware that they were not `normal' like most kids. They understood tactics and played games that were used to train mercs. But they had never used those things for real.
Now was their chance.
"We've got to make sure that they can't get away before the cops arrive. And if they're hurt, too damn bad."
"What's the plan?"
Had anyone been witness to the whispered conference, they would had felt the hair on the back of their neck stand on end. They two children moved about the shop retrieving various bits of equipment. When they were finished, the mess of cable and iron resembled a slingshot.
Klaus grinned and tossed his geta slippers at the door.
Elias Sandoval scowled at the two muffled thumps outside the door. He nodded to his partner and returned to the one sided conversation he was having with a rather frantic Marshal Chastain.
"Listen Marshal, you forget what you saw and you get your little girl back alive. You don't and we send her home to you in sandwich bags." He hung up on the cursing Marshal and glared at his brother.
"Find out what that little bitch is doing Martine."
The younger of the Sandoval brothers opened the door and all hell broke loose. A cable snapped through the portal and caught the man full in the chest, sending him gasping to the floor. Klaus took that moment to dive into the room boken flying.
Elias went down at the polished wooden sword slammed into his knee, dislocating the joint. He dropped with a howl and received a torrent of blows from a wild eyed boy in samurai gear.
Isabella rolled into the room right after Klaus, and slammed her tonfu into Martine's head. The young was out cold. The two carefully bound the men and left Elias awake as Klaus picked up the phone with a silk scarf covered hand. He dialed the Marshal's office by memory and kicked Sandoval.
The thug began to swear loudly as the two terrors retreated. It wouldn't take long for a team to arrive and arrest the brothers. They had to get back to the rec center before they got caught. They ran through the back alleys until the building was in sight.
"Put your mask back on. It'll hide the bruise for now."
"Okay. Can we go find Ceasar?"
The were sitting with the other mane when two federal agents arrived. The little girl recognized them instantly and let out a happy cry.
"Hey bratling! Having a good Halloween?" The dark haired Sutter asked.
"Yup! We gots mad amounts of candy!"
"That's great. Listen Short shot. Can Keeley and I talk to Mr. Gabriel in private for a sec?"
"Sure. Come on Klaus." She chirped before dragging the boy off to the punch bowl.
"Something wrong?" The tall genius' normally mellow voice was cool.
"We got word there was an attempt to kidnap the kid."
"She's been here all night, so how could that be?"
"We figure the Sandoval brothers somehow grabbed the wrong kid, in more ways than one." Keeley muttered, his red hair falling into his eyes.
"We found them beat to hell in a machine shop not too far from here. Elias was bitching about how he would get that nasty little bastard."
"Huh. Well we're heading for the ranch now. So they should be okay."
"Good plan. We'll let Marshal Chastain know his baby is safe."
The two detectives waved goodbye to the kids as Ceasar ushered them into the car. They were about halfway up the ranch drive when he stopped the car.
"Were either of you planning on telling me what happened since I just lied to federal agents for you?"
"Ceasar..." Klaus dropped his head, " `m sorry. I messed up."
The man gathered both kids into his arms. "I'm not mad at you, but I want you to tell Marti everything that happened. Got it?"
"Good. Now I believe there is a party going on and we are all invited." He put the car back in gear and pulled up to the ranch house. After shooing the kids inside he talked to Leopard while carrying in the tubs of candy.
"Do you think they got enough?"
"I should hope so. So tell me, who won the bet?"
"No one. You out lasted everyone. But Max did think you would make it six hours."
"Sugar didn't win?"
"Nope said she had a vision and it gave her an unfair advantage."
"Really. Do me a favor and get the girls in the kitchen. We need to have a talk."
"You look pissed."
"You'll understand soon enough."
The party was still in full swing, so no one noticed the concentration on warriors in the kitchen. Once they were gathered, Ceasar asked, "Sugar, what did you see in your vision?"
"Conflict, change, rebirth. Why?"
"Because as near as I can tell, Klaus and Izzy just dropped the Sandoval brothers on their own."
Marti sat down, hard. "What? Max told me about them. They sadistic murdering bastards at best!"
"Looks like they grabbed Issy and Klaus went after her. I haven't got the details out of them yet, but the brothers are in jail."
Leopard looked thoughtful, "Gonna recruit the bratling for the family business Marti?"
Sugar smiled, "I think the question is, can you keep the family business away from them."
Marti dropped her head to the table, "Oh hell. Katarina is rolling in her grave, I just know it!"
"So now what?"
"I'll run damage control. Ceasar, you debrief Klaus. Sugar if you have any more vision let us know. Lep, you ride herd on the chibi commandos."
"I've got a question." Leopard grinned.
"Who's gonna tell Max?"
Marti winced, "Just shoot me now."
During all this, the two children in question were up in Klaus' room.
"Do you think we're in trouble?" The little girl asked. The bruising didn't look too bad in the light. She was curled up on his bed, holding a can of cold soda to her cheek.
"I'm not sure. I'm gonna go tell Marti everything."
"Is that a good idea?"
"Probably not, but I trust her."
The kitchen door creaked open and the quartet looked up as Klaus entered the room. He looked nervous and the trio cleared out to leave him with his guardian.
"Marti? I need to talk to you." His accent was a bit thicker and she smiled warmly.
"Come here Klaus." She patted her lap and waited until he was settled. "Now what did you want to talk about?"
"I screwed up," he said simply.
"I started feeling jumpy as soon as we got to the center, but I thought it was just all the sugar and ignored it."
"But it wasn't the sugar. Two men showed up and grabbed Izzy. I followed them to the old shop on 7th. I heard them talking and remembered what you said about kidnappers. I was scared they would kill her, so I went in..."
Marti held her ten year old ward tight as he went over everything he could remember. Her eyes went wide at the clarity of his recall and the sheer steel balls he had to pull off something like that. He began to gulp and shiver as the story wound to a close and she realized belated shock had set in. She rocked him slowly and spoke.
"Shh, it's over now and you're both safe. I am very proud of you, but if you ever do something so dangerous again I'll spank your ass. Got it kid?"
"There now, that's my treasure. Go tell Izzy everything is okay and enjoy the party. The others and I will run damage control."
He sniffed and favored her with a smile that was purely his father's. "Thanks Marti."
"You handled that well," Leopard noted from the doorway.
"I think I'm getting the hang of this Mommy-gig."
"Famous last words. What's next? A house full of yard apes?"
"Bite your tongue Lep, I'm no masochist! One is more than enough for me"