Disclaimer: Okay, I understand why we need a disclaimer. But what about "claimers" at the beginnings of the show? It'd only be fair. But you never see anything like, " `Biker Mice From Mars' is owned by me! Ha ha! Any resemblance to any character living or dead is purely intentional! Yeah, I'm talking to you, Billy McFadden! I'm getting my revenge vicariously through my own television series! I bet you don't have a television series, do you? No! You're living in a trailer court with your girlfriend and your ten kids, sitting in front of the TV with an open beer in your hand, with little drops of it falling off your fat lips and landing on your scuzzy muscle-shirt! Meanwhile, I'm living the high life in Beverly Hills with my exotic supermodel wife Yahno (yeah, she's only got one name, that's how damn successful she is) with a posh mansion and people who dribble beer down their shirts for me! Hah! Revenge through better living! Now you pay for stealing my lunch money, you bastard!"
Whoops. That was ranting. Okay, back to the disclaimer.
Like I've been saying since the first disclaimer, I do not own "Biker Mice From Mars" (if I did, I'd probably be rich by now, or at least setting Throttle, Modo, and Vinnie up on dates with members of the Unofficial Biker Mice From Mars Fan Club), and I make no profit from this story save the hopefully bounteous joy of my bros in said Fan Club when they read it. This story was written for pure enjoyment, in honor of the show. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
Note: The characters and situations created in this story do belong to me (thanks to the copyright, ha ha!), so please restrain from writing any fanfics using them. All the subtle foreshadowing I throw in could go straight down the tubes with one well-meaning little story. Please respect this wish and don't be mad. You're welcome to try your hand at sketching any of them, however!
If you weren't around last time, it ain't my fault! But I'll recap for you
After finding Vinnie's father's bike, which the younger mouse promptly
claims for his own, the Biker Mice's attempts to return to the Shelter to
save the mice trapped inside from certain annihilation are repeatedly
thwarted, first by a hungry Saber-Squid, then by a sudden dust-storm.
Seeking Shelter inside a monastery, the young mice find the righteous para-military group known as the Freedom Fighters inside! After
presenting their case to Stoker, leader of the Freedom Fighters, the Biker
Mice manage to not only get their help save the mice inside the Shelter,
but also get to join them!
The big question still remains, however; can the Biker Mice save the
"I know you're worried about Throttle, but he's a teenager now," Glib said, more than a slight edge to her voice. "He's bound to want his own space every now and then--"
"He's been gone for two entire days now, Glib! Nearly three!" Alkali snapped back, clutching fistfuls of hair in his thin palms. His teeth were clenched tightly. Glib knew from her own stressful courtroom battles and dealing with Vinnie how frustrated Alkali was, and moreover, that he would have a whopping headache before the evening was through.
Alkali shook his head and continued, "This isn't exactly a place where a mouse can find a little hideaway and stay out of sight. Not for this long." He massaged his brow slowly.
It had been that way for better than an hour. At four a.m., Glib had been awakened by a frantic knocking at her door. When she opened it, there stood Alkali, looking somewhat more worried than usual. How that was possible, Glib wasn't sure, but she let him, with some reservations.
Alkali had barely spoken to Glib before Jewel's death. They were nodding acquaintances, but nothing more. When they talked, it had always been just chit-chat, waiting for Vinnie to pull his boots on when Glib came to pick him up, or standing in line for something to eat. "Hi, how are you?" kind of stuff.
Since Jewel's passing however, Alkali would stop Glib in the hall and talk her ears off (given the size of a Martian mouse's ears, that takes alot). Usually, it was about nothing. Like a book Alkali had just read. The encounters made Glib uncomfortable. She always wished something would suddenly come up and she would have a reason to leave.
Perhaps it was because they had both lost a spouse that Alkali had sought Glib out so frequently.
Thing is, she often thought to herself, those two loved each other.
Tonight's--or perhaps this morning's--visit, however, was much more serious. Throttle was missing, and Alkali was at his wit's end trying to figure out where his eldest son had run off to. Despite Alkali's earnest fear and obvious frustration, Glib was having a hard time keeping her eyes open.
Even with this sleepiness, however, Glib had noticed how quick Alkali's breathing was becoming, and she encouraged him to sit and catch his breath. He reluctantly agreed.
"We haven't talked as much since his mother passed away--we hardly spoke before that. I don't know if he's in some kind of trouble or what." He sighed and turned his eyes skyward as he asked, "Jewel, where are you now when I need you?"
He turned to Glib, who stifled a yawn just in the knick of time.
"Have you heard anything out of Vinnie? Does he know where Throttle is?"
Glib shook her head no.
"I actually haven't seen Vinnie around much over the past few days. We don't spend much time together, anyway," she said, shrugging her shoulders. "I--"
Alkali narrowed his eyes and snapped, "Then how can you be taking this so coolly? He could be dead, for all you know."
Before Glib could even think of a reply, a familiar, long-dead voice asked, Do you still care?
She shook the voice away, and started to say, with some uncertainty, "Of course I care," but Alkali was already saying something else.
"I didn't catch that?" Glib asked.
Slightly agitated, he repeated, "I said, first Throttle turns up missing, then Modo. I wouldn't be so worried if Vinnie wasn't missing, too."
Glib raised an eyebrow.
Nodding, Alkali asked, "You didn't know? His mother is having coniptions trying to figure out where he's gone."
That sound sounds about right, Glib thought to herself, forcing a weak smile.
"I'll check around a little myself, see if anyone's heard anything out of the boys," she said, putting a reassuring hand on Alkali's shoulder.
And when I find him....
She felt her hand clench into a fist.
Oooh! I'm about half-tempted to give Throttle some of the same. This is his fault! If he'd have just stayed put, I could be asleep right now! Vinnie probably put him up to this, just to annoy me.
Alkali grumbled something Glib didn't quite catch for a second time.
"Pardon me?" she asked, trying to maintain some semblance of calm.
"Did I do something wrong?" Alkali asked softly, biting his lower lip. "I mean, I know I haven't been paying as much attention to him since Rush was born, but I always thought I was a good father--"
Sighing, Glib took Alkali's hands in hers and reassured him.
"Alkali, trust me. Whatever reason Throttle had for leaving, you had nothing to do with it."
The brown-furred mouse smiled weakly, then caught the sound of crying from a distance.
"That's Rush," he said quickly. "I've got to go. Thank you, Glib."
Puzzled, Glib asked, "You can recognize your son's crying? From this far away?"
"Of course," Alkali replied, wiggling his ears and smirking. "Can't everybody?"
Gritting her teeth, Glib said softly, "Yeah. I guess so. See you, Alkali."
Glib didn't even watch him limp away, crutches under his arms, but instead dashed to her room, tore the door open, and zipped inside. She flopped down on top of the bed on the right side of the room, her bed, and sat with her head between her legs for a few minutes. When she pulled her head up, tears were falling from her eyes.
Oh God, she thought to herself, shaking her head. Please don't let him be dead. Please don't let him be dead. I know I haven't been good to him at all, but....
As if on cue, a long-dead voice suddenly sighed, Glib, you've never been a mother to him. To the best of my knowledge, you don't want to be. God knows you never made any effort.
"Not now," she moaned. "Howitzer, I never wanted your advice when you were alive and I sure as Hell don't want it now!"
She shook her head and thought to herself, You want to prove him wrong? Go find your son.
Glib nodded, but instead of dressing or even pulling on a robe and a pair of slippers, she turned off the light, and slipped between the covers of her bed.
First thing in the morning. Little brat needs to learn some patience, anyway.
In all fairness, Vinnie wanted to be back in bed himself.
"What time is it?" he questioned sleepily, through a yawn.
"Almost five-thirty," Modo replied sleepily, popping the top off his fourth can of Mountain Few and downing it in one gulp. "A.M. Oh Momma. Ah don't mind fightin' to save my Momma or risking my life or anything like that, but--come on! Five-thirty?"
"Stoker didn't say anything about having to fight this early!" Throttle agreed, nodding.
Chaos looked down at them from atop the large rock where she sat and said, smiling, "This is the way of the Freedom Fighters. Strike in the early morning, when our foes are still rubbing the sand from their sickly eyes, retreat in mid-afternoon, victorious--"
"Then party till the sun comes down!" Jimmy chuckled, sharpening a short, thick knife with a rock. He slid his thumb along the edge to test the blade's sharpness. Although it did draw blood, Jimmy didn't seem quite sure that it was keen enough.
"Throttle, hold still a minute," the gold-furred mouse said, turning toward him.
"Huh?" Throttle asked.
Jimmy plucked one long hair from Throttle's head (getting a cry of "Ouch!" from the unwilling donor) and slipped it over the blade of the knife. It split evenly down the center, the ends curling as it did.
"Perfect!" the gold-furred mouse laughed.
Throttle snapped, irritated, "You know, that hurt!"
Vinnie added, "You've got plenty of hair! Why not pluck one outta that mustache o'yours!"
Jimmy blanched and covered his snout fearfully.
"Never! No one touches this mouse's soup strainer! Not even me! It's a prized family tradition, passed down through generations of Polychronopoluses!"
"Really?" Modo asked. "You mean like your dad had one, and your grand-dad, and your great-grand-dad, and--"
Bingo grabbed Jimmy's wrist and whispered, "Say something, or he'll go on like that all day!"
"Actually, it's from my mother's side," the older mouse interrupted.
"So, your grand-father had a mustache?" Throttle querried.
Jimmy shook his head and elucidated, "No, my mother had one herself. And so did my grand-mother. And my great-grandmother. It's usually passed down to the firstborn daughter, but I was an only child."
"But I thought you said it was passed down through Poly-chr-whatevers," Throttle interrupted. "Family names come from the father's side, unless he's got no last name, in which case the kids have no last name, right?"
"James here's father and mother were first cousins," Stoker explained, stepping around the boulder and putting an arm around his friend's shoulder. "Glad to know you guys are staying so vigilant."
"I thought I could trust you with that secret!" Jimmy cried, appalled.
Chaos slid down off the top of the rock and patted Jimmy on the shoulder.
"It would've come out sooner or later," she reassured him.
Jimmy just crossed his arms over his chest huffily.
"At least tell me you had your eyes open, McKlash," Stoker said hopefully, hands on his hips.
"Don't worry, Stoker." She held up a small object with a viewing screen and said, "According to this, the Plutarkians aren't even in the area yet. They teleported away some time yesterday--probably to get reinforcements--and as soon as they show their scaly skins around here, this thing'll let us know."
Stoker nodded and said, "That's what I like about you. Always prepared." He paused for a moment, then asked, "Does that thing have Tetris on it?"
"Yeah, but it's my turn, and Jude already called it after me."
The leader of the Freedom Fighters snapped his fingers in frustration.
" `Scuse me, Stoke," Throttle interrupted, "but what do we do out there?"
Stay out from under our feet, Mace thought to himself, grimacing.
Stoker nodded and said, "I was waiting for you to ask. Okay, boys, crowd around."
The four young mice surrounded Stoker in a small ring. He heel sat and traced a small map into the sand. A larger ring sat off to one side. Stoker used his fingers to poke a small array of dots.
"Before I tell you the plan," he said, eyes serious, "I've gotta know--I'm not robbin' you of your innocence, right? I mean, you've all seen the horrors of war, right? Folks getting their heads blown off, mice getting gutshot, their intestines leaking out, you know?"
"Kinda," Modo said. "We seen some of that stuff the day the Plutarkians attacked Hellfire."
"We've seen all the rest playing `Mortal Kombat'," Throttle explained.
"Ahhhh," Stoker said, nodding. "Well then, I got nothing to worry about. Since you've been exposed to hyper-gore video games, you should be fine.
"Okay," he said, "this ring is the camp. These are those pits outside the Shelter. Now, Haywire, Smoke, and Scoot are already rigging the charges on the outside of that dome. Once they get back, we'll blow them up by remote."
Aghast, Modo cried, "You're gonna blow up Haywire?!"
"He means the charges, kid," Jimmy laughed.
"The second that's taken care of," Stoker continued, "I want you four in there and getting all the civilians out. Lead them about a mile away. Distance doesn't matter. It just needs to be safe."
"Waitaminute," Vinnie interrupted. "You mean we don't get to fight? That's weak!"
I like this kid already, Stoker thought to himself, grinning. He's me with training wheels.
"You four are good," he admitted, "but you're still pretty green. Once you're sure the mice in there are safe, truck your tails back here, and you're welcome to whatever Plutarkians we haven't wasted."
"Fabulous," Vinnie muttered. "Fish-face leftovers."
"Buck up, punk. If this goes good," Stoker continued, "I'll be more than happy to teach you everything you need to know about Freedom Fighting. Be more than happy to. We ain't got many Biker Mice in the fold. It's nice to see some rides that aren't army surplus."
Bingo asked hopefully, "Do I get a bike?"
Stoker asked, slightly amused, "Can you straddle one and have your feet touch the ground?"
Hand in chin, Bingo finally answered, "No."
"Then you keep ridin' tandem with Vincent here," the brown-furred mouse answered.
"Stop callin' me `Vincent' !" Vinnie snapped, frustrated. "Geez! First Throttle, now you! Ugh!"
Stoker stood up, patting Vinnie on the back as he did, knocking the younger mouse down in the process. Whether or not it was accidental is still under speculation.
"Oh yeah," Vinnie muttered through a mouthful of sand. "I just love this guy."
Suddenly, the device in Chaos's hands beeped loudly.
"You get a Tetris?" Stoker asked.
"No!" she shouted, tossing the little box to Stoker. "We got movement! Plutarkians!"
He looked over the gadget and asked, "How close?"
Chance, serving as lookout atop a huge rock spire, shouted, "They're right outside the base!" He hopped down and added, "Haywire, Smoke, and Scoot aren't back yet, either!"
Stoker gritted his teeth and shouted, "TO BATTLE, FREEDOM FIGHTERS!!!!"
"Nifty war cry there," Throttle complemented, smiling.
"I try," Stoker replied, shrugging. He whistled loudly, and a pale blue motorcycle, built for racing speed like Vinnie's but dramatically different as well, sped to his side.
Throwing on a helmet, Stoker said quickly, "Okay, change of plans. You four, come with the rest of us, stick close to me, and if you see a way you can use get everybody outta that place, do it!"
"Whoo-hoo!" Vinnie crowed as the four mice rushed to meet their bikes, already speeding toward their owners.
"Tail-whippin' time!" Throttle cried.
Stoker tossed Chaos a silver helmet similar to his own. She leapt onto the back of his bike. There was a loud thudding noise as her right leg struck the side of Stoker's ride.
"Careful, McKlash!" he chuckled. "You're gonna break my gas tank wide open!"
Chaos laughed, "You know I can't help it."
Jimmy drove up alongside Stoker just as the Biker Mice joined them.
"So, what's the plan, mein fur-er?" he asked.
"Simple," Stoker replied. "First, we get `em away from that Shelter. Gotta avoid killing any innocent civilians. Then, we smoke some fish."
Soon, all the Freedom Fighters were gathered behind Stoker and just raring to go.
"Okay, everybody!" he shouted. "FREEDOM FIGHTERS, ROLL OUT!"
With a chorus of joyous whooping and a deafening roar of engines, they did just that.
Meanwhile, Haywire, Smoke, and Scoot were fighting for their lives. The Plutarkians had caught them completely unawares, with half the charges yet to be attatched to the dome wall. The threesome had only one option--run like Hell.
"Couldn't you have planted those any faster?" Smoke snapped as they rounded a turn, a small squad of dune-buggy riding Plutarkians right behind them.
"It ain't my fault!" Haywire snapped, pulling the pin out of a grenade with her teeth and tossing it into the nest of their pursuers. "How was I supposed to know they'd be here so soon?"
The grenade landed in one of the dune buggies. It's occupants tried to unbuckle their seat-belts, but weren't quite fast enough.
"Well," Smoke snarled, turning and firing at another buggy, "you at least could have detonated the explosives while we were there!"
Scoot popped a wheelie, did a complete 180, and started straight toward the Plutarkians, firing bright blue laser blasts all the way, all but one missing. The one that connected ignited the gas tank of one of the buggies, and blew up the two next to it.
"I give it a six," Scoot decided, turning around and racing back to his comrades.
"I couldn't detonate `em!" Haywire snapped, leading a pair of buggies toward a rock formation. She kept at it until she was within a foot, then banked hard to the right. The Plutarkians hadn't invested in anti-lock brakes, and were soon skidding across the sand. They smashed straight into the wall.
"Why not?" Smoke asked angrily.
"Mace's got the detonator for safe-keeping," she answered angrily, "and those charges won't blow without it."
"I hate to interrupt this little lovers' tiff," Scoot sighed, darting between the feuding fighters, "but it looks like Stoker's leading the charge, stage left."
Suddenly, one well-placed Plutarkian mine exploded underneath Haywire's bike. Ears trained to hear the trademark click of pressure-point explosives gave the she-mouse just enough notice to leap free from her ride before the device detonated.
A good thing, too, because it nearly atomized her bike. It most certainly would've killed her.
"OOMPH!" Haywire grunted as she hit the sand. The force of the impact nearly knocked her out. As was, it did knock the wind out of her.
"HAYWIRE!" Smoke screamed.
Haywire began to push herself up weakly, muttering as she did, "Well, at least I'm still breathin'. That's a plus."
There was a clinking sound as she felt a gun barrel pressed against her helmet.
"This day just keeps getting worse and worse," she sighed.
"What?" Haywire asked, looking up.
A pair of missiles struck the two buggies. They exploded immediately upon impact, and blew the Plutarkians into bite-size sushi, perfect for when those unexpected guests arrive. Just pop in the microwave and serve!
Haywire saw a figure ride out of the smoke and flame. He pulled over beside her and helped her to her feet, smiling all the while.
"Izzat you, Smoke?" she asked, panting.
"You're always gettin' us confused, ma'am," her rescuer said, smiling.
Modo blushed and said, "Ah saw you were in trouble, and, well, my Momma always said to help ladies in need."
Haywire grinned and said, "I like your Momma's style. And yours too, tough guy."
"You comin' bro?" Throttle called from beyond the wreckage.
"On my way!" he shouted, jumping back on his bike and zipping out of sight.
The rescuee stood there for a moment, watching Modo ride off. When Scoot and Smoke came up from behind, she barely noticed.
"Are you okay?" Smoke asked, jumping off his bike and running up to her.
"Huh? Oh, sure, Smoke," Haywire answered, shaking her head. "Let's get movin'. They're havin' all the fun without us."
The journey from the Shelter to Hellfire and back had been one of discovery for the young Biker Mice. They were first truly introduced to the concept of a government that wasn't exactly of the Martians, by the Martians, and for the Martians (mice, in all three cases). They had learned how close their planet was coming to destruction. They had found uncharted waters inside themselves.
And now, they were discovering just how much fun combat could be.
"AOOOOOOOOOOOOW!" Vinnie howled, firing off a round at a Plutarkian cannon. Bright flashes of light turned his pale face bright yellow as the artillery exploded. "I LOVE THIS!"
Bingo laughed as Vinnie accelerated and zipped between two more wheeled cannons. She had always loved excessive speeds, and on the battlefield, with death all around her and mortality occurring at a zany speed, it was even more fun.
A laser zinged past Vinnie's thigh as they raced toward the Shelter.
"Bing!" he shouted. "Care to give me a little hand here?"
"Thought you'd never ask!" Bingo replied, popping a black hole directly in front of her. She pulled out an armload of grenades attached to a belt and slipped it over her right shoulder.
Bingo tore one off and ripped the pin from its holder.
"Catch!" she shouted, tossing it toward the sniper who had almost hit her bro.
"Huh. I didn't think he'd take me seriously," Bingo muttered as she watched the Plutarkian's arm flying through the air, still holding pieces of the grenade in its eviscerated fingers.
Even Modo and Throttle, the more slightly more conservative (read: not political conservatives, "conservative in the sense of they'd wait about five seconds longer than Vinnie or Bingo to risk their lives stupidly) were enjoying the Hell out of themselves.
"This little Plutarkian went to Mars....." Throttle said, blasting at a sniper hiding behind a rock. The blast hit him square in the chest and sent him flailing toward the sands below.
".....but that little Plutarkian ain't goin' home....."
He spotted another aiming at several other Freedom Fighters while they chased down a dune buggy.
".....this little Plutarkian wants to waste my new pals..."
Throttle easily hit the target and saved his new comrade-in-arms' life.
".....but that little fish-head got none...."
Bingo threw Throttle a six-pack of grenades, their pins all tied together. Throttle ripped the string out, drawing out all six pins, and tossed them into a Plutarkian foxhole.
"....and those little Plutarkians went--"
BAM! K-BAM! BLAM!
"--all the way home!" Throttle concluded, smiling.
Modo snickered until he felt a laser knick the back of his helmet. He looked back over his shoulder and saw a Plutarkian sniper peering up out of a small pit behind him.
The gray-furred mouse grinned, made a hard turn, and flew backwards toward his assailant.
Upon realizing that Modo was coming for him, the Plutarkian began firing again. But to hit a determined Modo is nearly impossible, as the soldier discovered when the gray-furred mouse not only survived the laser gauntlet, but zipped past the foxhole, and grabbed the Plutarkian by the collar on the way through without taking a scratch.
"If ya wanted my attention," Modo chuckled, "all ya had to do was holler."
He slammed his fist into the Plutarkian's face, knocking him backwards twenty feet, and unconscious, all at the same time.
"Ah'm really startin' t'enjoy this kinda thing," he laughed, riding back to join his bros, who had just pulled up behind a small rock structure and stopped. Throttle and Bingo seemed to be busy with Vinnie in same way.
"What's goin' on?" Modo asked, pulling off his helmet.
Throttle looked up from Vinnie's arm and explained quickly, "Our bro here got brushed by a laser."
Modo asked quickly, "Is he gonna be okay?"
Bingo nodded and said, "It's pretty superficial."
"My entire life is made up of the superficial!" Vinnie howled as Throttle plucked a bandage from his first-aid kit and wrapped it around the younger mouse's small (but painful) wound.
Vinnie gritted his teeth and muttered, "You bros remembered that one sleep-over we had---nggh--when we were--ugh--tryin' to figure out what a--oweeowee owee!--laser burn would--ee!--feel like?"
The other three mice nodded.
"Throttle was right."
"Ha ha!" Throttle chuckled. "I told you--feels like a gigantic paper cut, only hotter, doesn't it?"
Vinnie nodded, fighting back tears.
Suddenly, a creaking sound filled the ears of the young mice. They all looked up, Vinnie's arm forgotten.
There, no more than ten feet away, was one of the famed Stilt-Walkers of the Sand Raiders. It was easily fifty feet tall, with large, plodding feet that were ten feet across at the bottom of its stork-like legs. More than large enough to crush the Biker Mice where they stood, which seemed to be exactly what the wolfish pilots in the open platform atop the Stilt-Walker had in mind, narrowly beating out sleeping with their cousins.
There was no time to move. All three of the bikes were slammed in tight against each other, making escape impossible, or at least, really really hard.
"We are so dead," Modo whispered, simultaneously thinking, Ah'm sorry, Momma.
The foot began to come down on top of the Biker Mice. A huge, circular shadow fell over them.
"Nice knowin' you bros," Throttle said sadly, putting his arms up over his head in what would most certainly be an ineffective brace.
"Likewise," Modo agreed.
"I hope in our next lives, we end up as pains in a Plutarkian's ass," Vinnie muttered, holding his arm.
A second passed.
I think you get the drift.
"What the--?" Vinnie asked.
Throttle, Modo, and Vinnie all looked at Bingo, who had her hands thrust toward the sky, fingers splayed. Her eyes were shut tight, teeth gritted tight against each other. Her fingers shook. She looked like she could explode at any minute.
"Did you swallow somethin' nasty, Bing?" Modo asked.
"I don't think so," Throttle replied, smiling, as he pointed to the air which Bingo seemed to be concentrating on so heavily. "Look."
The Stilt-Walker was sinking into a twenty-foot wide black hole directly overhead. The pilots, being too dim to jump ship, had already disappeared into its murky depths. Within a few seconds, the darkness had swallowed it up completely, at which point the hole disappeared.
"Nice job, Ritz-bro!" Vinnie laughed, slapping her on the back.
Bingo's eyes snapped open, wide and terrified.
"NO!" she shouted.
Before anyone could ask what she meant, another hole appeared fifty feet overhead, which the Stilt-Walker began dropping from, straight toward the young mice once more.
"I take it back!" Vinnie said snootily, crossing his arms over his chest.
Bingo snapped, "You broke my concentration! I was gonna slam it into the Shelter and break a hole into the thing!"
"Bros!" Throttle shouted. "I think there are more pressing matters!"
They looked up at the stork-like machine falling toward them.
Yes, ladies and gents, BLAMMO!, the all-purpose sound affect, rang through the hills, as the walker suddenly exploded overhead in a huge red-gray cloud. Chunks of debris littered the battlefield.
"Was that you, Bing?" Modo asked, trying to avoid the falling rubble.
Throttle, Modo, and Bingo looked toward their white-furred bro, normally the source of such, "AOW"-ing.
"Wasn't me," Vinnie answered, shrugging.
They looked over and saw, on a high rock precipice nearby, Stoker, holding a huge laser cannon and grinning wildly. His ponytails whipped in the breeze.
"Nice entrance," Throttle said appreciatively, giving him a thumbs up.
Stoker jumped off the rocks and landed near the Biker Mice.
"You bros gotta learn to watch your backs," he encouraged, still smiling ear-to-ear. "Gotta admit, though; I'm impressed. Nice job. I think it's safe to say we're gonna win this one.
"Now listen. I want you bros to head for the far side of that dome-thing."
Throttle raised an eyebrow and asked, "Is there a way in?"
"Not as yet. Mace lost the detonator for the charges somehow--I can promise you he's gonna catch some flack for that. But anyways, Chaos spotted some kind of weird tank over there. Could mean the fish-faces are bringing in some heavy reinforcements. I'm sendin' you over with Chaos to take care of it. The rest of us'll keep the Plutarkians off your backs."
Vinnie snickered, "Not too many, I hope."
"I'll do what I can," Stoker replied as Chaos dismounted from his bike. She hopped on Lil' Hoss behind Modo. Once again, there was a distinct clanging sound when her right leg hit the side.
"Sorry," she whispered.
"Okay, bros, let's go!" Throttle shouted.
The four mice shot across the sandy desert toward the Shelter.
Stoker hung back from the battle for a moment.
Take care of her, he thought to himself before zipping back into the fray.
"What're we looking' for, exactly?" Throttle shouted to Chaos as they neared the dome.
Chaos, who was a bit shorter than Modo, had to look out around the young mouse's side to see ahead and find what she had spotted earlier.
"There!" she shouted, pointing to a what looked like, from the distance, a large brown box with a length of something long and black running from it into the dome.
"Oh my God!" Bingo whispered, her pupils reduced to tiny dots. She felt an icy chill going down her spine. "Bros, that's it! That's the thing I saw at Ash!"
Chaos, suprised, asked, "The thing that pumped the gas into the camp?"
Bingo nodded and said, "I thought that maybe, if it wasn't here yet, that it might not be here at all. But, if it's already connected to the dome...."
"That means that everyone in the camp might already be...." Modo whispered.
"No," Throttle whispered.
The tan-furred mouse was silent for a moment.
"Bro?" Modo asked, looking over.
There had never been any doubt in Throttle's mind that he was devoted to the cause of protecting Mars and its mice. As of Eight thirty-nine last evening, when he had first learned of the Freedom Fighters, the young ran-furred mouse became completely devoted to saving his home. No doubt. Never.
But at that moment, he made a realization that would change the way he thought of fighting forever.
"The battle isn't won by how many fish we can kill, or how much land we save," he said aloud, but to no one in particular save himself. "We can kill every fish that Plutark sends here, save every square inch of land, but if we can't keep our own people from being wiped out, then all we've got is a bunch of dead fish and a big dead ball of sand."
Chaos patted Throttle on the shoulder gently and said with obvious approval, "Nice job. It's taken some Freedom Fighters years of fighting to learn that. You've only been here for about an hour."
Throttle blushed a little, suprised by the compliment, then said, "Come on, bros. We've got work to do!"
Inside the Shelter, meanwhile, Glib had been awakened by the sounds of fighting outside.
In truth, it wouldn't have taken climatic BOOM s or BAM s or even BLAMMO s or any of the other sound effects The Writer had been employing to wake Glib up. Her sleep hadn't been very deep. A pin-drop, like in the old Sprint commercials, would probably have had the same effect.
"What's going on?" she asked, pulling on her pants and buttoning her shirt quickly. She snickered and wondered to herself, And why do I have a feeling that my son is involved somehow?
A blast rocked the bunker. The lights Glib had switched on only a second ago flickered and died.
"Fabulous," she muttered, pushing her feet into her shoes.
Glib nearly dashed out the door at that very second, but hesitated before reaching for the doorknob. She stopped, turned, and kneeled before her bed, almost as if she was preparing to pray.
She reach under the cot and pulled out a small black box with a gleaming silver lock set into its front. Carefully, Glib lifted it up and placed it on her bed. Its weight pushed down the thin mattress several and touched the springs underneath. The heavy box even pushed these down and created a large dent in the cot.
Her hands shook as she unbuttoned the top two buttons of her shirt, reach inside it, and pulled out a small silver key which had resided for years (quite comfortably) between her breasts. It hung from a silver chain nearly as thin as a spider's thread.
Biting her lip, Glib thought grimly as she slipped the key into its lock, You were right, Howitzer. I am such a hypocrite.
The lid popped open.
Inside the box, resting in a bed of soft velvet, was a large laser pistol. As Glib picked it up slowly, checking the laser clip to make sure it was charged, her fingers struggled to get a decent grip. It had obviously been made for a larger mouse's hand.
Glib knew that whatever was going on outside was serious, and obviously involved combat of some kind (so do the readers, as they enjoy the sort of omniscience granted by the power of a story such as this). She also knew fell well that the situation might arise in which she would need to defend herself. That was fine with Glib; she had always been a fighter. And she had no girlish qualms about killing someone, if need be.
After all, she'd done it before.
"No time for woolgathering," she told herself quickly, throwing the holster which had rested under the gun over her thin hips. There wasn't a hole for a waist so thin as hers, so she used a pair of scissors to make one. Glib threw the gun inside it, then untucked her shirt and let it hang down over her hips to cover the weapon. The shirt's hem came to her mid-thigh, and the gun's bulge stood out very clearly underneath it, but this was no time to worry about fashion. After all, Gianni Versace never designed a gun-belt for the anorexic waifs who displayed his fashions on the runways of Paris, and now, thanks to Andrew Kunanan, he never will.
Glib took a deep breath, pulled her hair into a loose bun, and ran out of the room.
The hallways were suprisingly empty. Even at six a.m., someone was usually wandering the hall, en route from the small communal bathrooms, or leaving a lover's room before they awoke (or before their spouse arrived). At the very least, there was usually someone sipping rotgut whiskey out of a paper bag, dying a slow death of alchoholism, lying against a wall, cluttering up the halls.
This morning, there was not even that. The feeling was of being in a haunted house, deserted but with a definite feeling of a presence around.
What is going on here? Glib asked herself, taking the stairs two at a time. Where is everyone?
She found the answer to both upon entering the large open courtyard.
The first thing Glib noticed was the complete and total darkness everywhere she looked. Apparently, the power had been knocked out, and without electricity to power the huge overhead lights that supplied artifical sun to Hellfire's refugees, darkness held sway. Children were huddled against their parents, terrified that some great and unnamable monster would jump out of the shadows. Years of watching horror movies came back to haunt some mice as they feared attack by one of the creepy monsters from the Alien movies. A few industrious souls had found propane lamps or started small fires to illuminate the Shelter. They did little to alleviate the darkness, and instead casted long, frightening shadows on the walls. The flames' flickering filled the walls with images of demons dancing.
What Glib saw next was somehow more frightening.
The former solicitor found herself confronted by a melee of mice. It seemed like all the prisoners of the Shelter had turned out en masse for some terribly unorganized speech. There was no order to the crowd, a rarity in the carefully-ordered world of the Shelter. Crying, screaming, whining, bitching, pissing, moaning. While others cried out for help, some sat hunched at the walls, sinking alone into despair, or offering up futile prayers to an unresponsive God (or gods, or goddesses. I haven't done much thinking as to what the other major religions of Mars might be. Mental note: work on that). Those that tried to create order were shouted down by the cries of the terrified. There was no method to the madness whatsoever.
The child of a safely structured and sheltered childhood, Glib was not so much shocked as disgusted by the disorder. Why couldn't these mice get their heads about them and act in an organized fashion? Whatever the problem was, no one was getting anything done about it.
Glib grabbed the nearest mouse she could find, a wide-eyed salt-and-pepper furred girl who was little more than a teenager. She carried a crying infant in her arms, most likely one of the myriad of love children conceived and born with the rights and freedoms promised mice in their Constitution but taken away by the strict regulations of the Shelter.
"What's going on?" Glib asked, voice firm but barely audible over the din.
The girl sobbed, "It's the Plutarkians! They're here! They're attacking the Shelter!"
Glib was genuinely shocked this time. She had been told since the Shelter became her unwanted new home that the mice kept inside would be safe from the growing Plutarkian threat, that not only would they never even think to attack, but if they did, the mice inside would be perfectly safe.
Yet another poorly-implemented government policy, she thought to herself, shaking her head.
Teary-eyed, the girl whined, "They're headed straight for us!"
"I don't know!" the girl shouted, wrenching her arm free and running away, hoping to find the lover who had abandoned her upon discovering she was pregnant.
Oh God, Glib thought to herself, frightened. Oh God oh God oh God oh God--
She stopped and took a deep breath.
Calm down, Glib. You'll never get anywhere, running like a chicken with your head cut off. Think; this place is fortified. You should be safe against Plutarkian attack.
Another blast shook the Shelter.
But if the rats are manning the cannons, then how are the Plutarkians this close?
She looked up, through the crowd of frightened mice, and saw the administration building standing stoic against the madness, the last bastion of order in the Shelter's panic.
Maybe I'd better pay a visit to the top brass.
She sprinted toward the administration building. Long strides carried her there in seconds, though she found herself having to dodge mice left and right, and sometimes even up and down. It was a hazardous job, and she was glad when it ended and she found herself just outside the skillfully crafted building.
Glib grabbed the doorknob and tore it open easily. That the door was unlocked in such a panicked moment was unnerving. The leaders of the Shelter should have been implementing a strategy to free their charges. Wouldn't they want to keep the civilians out, if for no other reason, then so as to not have them underfoot while they tried to figure out what to do?
Better question: did they care about the civilians?
Once more, Glib was met by darkness.
"More darkness?" she asked, fumbling along the side wall for a light switch. "Geez. This would be a cheap movie to make. They'd save a fortune on lighting!"
One of her long fingers struck the switchplate. Glib shrugged, hitting all three switches at once. She expected the click of the switches when she flipped them, but she was taken by suprise when the room suddenly burst into lit brilliance.
Must have a generator, she realized, blinking. But why does this place have them and we don't?
The building, once the center of activity in the Shelter, was dead. No one was inside, not a single rat filling out papers, nor a mouse seeking news of relatives outside the Shelter. The only sound was a barely perceptible humming coming from somewhere outside the room.
"Hello?" Glib called out. "Is anybody there?"
She walked slowly through the large main room, and down a carpeted hallway (Funny, she thought to herself, we don't have carpet in the barracks). Cautiously, she opened each office door she came to and found no one inside.
What was inside each office was a large wooden desk (wood being extremely precious on Mars, especially with its rich jungles and old-growth forests disappearing, even in the days before the Plutarkians arrived), a thicker, plusher carpet than that which was in the hallway, televisions, VidComs, and fully-stocked liquor cabinets. The office of the Head Administrator (once a mouse, now a rat) was larger and more plush than all the others put together, with a small putting green thrown running along one wall for good measure.
Glib snickered a little as she ran a hand along the desk. She sat down in the reclining leather chair which sat behind it and propped her feet up on the desk. Glib allowed herself a few moments to enjoy the luxuries.
This was what you always wanted, she thought to herself lazily, all prior missions of finding help forgotten. What you've strived for all your life. What all the years of AP courses and law school should've brought you. A nice office, with a big desk and a view. A partnership in a major firm, nice house......the works.
Still, in the chair, Glib discovered that it wasn't quite as comfortable as she had always thought it would be. In fact, the leather made an unpleasant farting noise every time she shifted her rear a little.
All my hopes and dreams, she realized sadly, come down to sitting in a giant whoop-ee cushion.
"Would it have been enough?" Glib asked softly, rising from the chair. "This is what I've worked for all my life. I went after my dream, and what do I have to show for it? The same cramped little apartment in Hellfire that I lived in while I was still in Law School, a skimmer with an engine that's always getting clogged with sand, a husband who's six feet under, and a trouble-making little bastard for a....."
She paused, bit her lip, and sat down on the corner of the desk.
"No. That's not fair. I don't have a trouble-making little bastard for a son. I've got a decent kid who hates me because he's got a mean-ass bitch who can't think to use her head before her fists for a mother. Lord, when did I go wrong?"
Her face sunk into her hands.
"I'm sorry, Howitzer. I'm sorry, Vinnie. I don't mean to be this way."
Glib sobbed silently for a few minutes, then pulled herself together.
"Need a tissue," she whispered, patting around the desk for one.
Instead of a tissue box, however, she found a small slip of paper with someone's handwriting on it. It was not written in the current Martian scribe which was used as the principal language of the planet, however, but Otan, a sub-language which had been one of the tongues spoken in a southern province of Mars before the planet became unified. Otan was popular among rats. The rats defended it as part of their cultural heritage; most said it was used primarily because so few Martian mice could comprehend it.
Except for Martian law scholars, who are forced to learn many of Mars' dead languages, including Otan , in their studies. For some reason, many of Mars' more important laws, like the right of slaki haowe (meaning "bonjour, dog"), are in a different language than the common one.
"Hmmm," Glib muttered to herself. She took a few minutes and jotted down the translation, which, when read aloud, shocked her to no end.
" `Awir, there will be a small get-togther before we abandon the camp. Meet in the board-room at midnight tonight for the festivities. Bring your appetite!' "
The memo was dated yesterday.
She shook her head slowly.
"Those bastards," she whispered, wide-eyed. "They just ran off and left us here to die!"
Glib crumpled the paper in her hand and dashed out of the office, down the hall, and out of the administration building. Once again she found herself in the middle of madness. The explosions, which had merely shook the Shelter walls before, were now deafening.
I gotta find some way to show this to everybody, Glib thought to herself, glancing around quickly.
A grenade or a stray laser had struck the roof of the dome.
"This day just keeps getting better and better," Glib muttered, clamping her hands over her ears.
Glib looked up just in time to see a huge piece of the black structure overhead falling straight at her. She scrambled out of the way a second before she would have become a large furry pancake.
"Geez," Glib whispered, looking back at the rubble.
More chunks of roof were falling, crushing mice who didn't have Glib's quickness or luck. More than once, Vinnie's mother found herself having to dodge one, or shove another mouse out of the way to escape. Despite the bombings, however, the roof remained very nearly intact. The chunks knocked out of it were chipped from the inside as the blasts vibrated through the dome.
A few minutes of this frantic dodging found Glib standing at the edge of the dome's wall.
This is getting me nowhere fast, she thought firmly. We're not safe in here. Not that we'd really be safe outside; whatever's going on out there, I'm not too eager to join in. But in here, we're sitting ducks!
Glib dashed to the courtyard and tried desperately to get everyone's attention long enough to tell them what the paper in her hand said. But it proved a futile effort. No one was willing to listen. Everyone was so tense, so keyed-up, so certain that the end was near, that if a hole suddenly appeared, leading to their freedom, it was doubtful anyone would notice.
"Dammit!" she cried. "How am I supposed to tell them what this says--"
Suddenly, it dawned on her.
What does it matter? she asked herself. So what if the rats betrayed us? Who cares? Whether we know it or not, we're still trapped.
She crumpled up the paper and tossed it away.
Right now, top priority goes to getting everyone out. And if I can't get them to listen to me as a group, then I'll just get their attention one by one.
Taking a quick look around, Glib saw a large, barrel-shaped mouse who seemed to be relatively calm but angry as all Hell at being trapped.
"Sir!" she shouted. "I need your help!"
If he heard her, he didn't acknowledge Glib's presence.
Okay. Looks like I'm going to have to get tough.
Glib picked up one delicate foot and slammed it down on top of the other mouse's foot.
"AGH!" he shouted, grabbing his hurt pied and jumping around comically on the good one for a moment before turning to Glib and shouting, "Hey, what's with you?! That hurt!"
"Please, listen!" Glib cried, trying to look simultaneously helpless but firm. "We're getting nothing done standing around like this. We're all in deep trouble here. We have got to find a way out before it's too late!"
He nodded reluctantly, and was about to run off before Glib grabbed his arm and said, "And tell every other mouse you come across to look, too!"
Soon, their panic at last harnessed into something productive, almost all the mice of the Shelter began looking for their exit. Some tried to find a way to open the impregnable gates, while others went at the unassailable dome wall with pickaxes or clubs broken off from tables, when it had already been made clear that only grenades and lasers could even rock the dome.
Glib noticed this, and tried to use her own magnum to melt a hole through the black bulwark, to no avail. It just wasn't powerful enough.
Crud, she thought, teeth gritted. And I lost the key to turn up the output! There has to be another way out.
Suddenly, she noticed a slight gleam off to her left.
What in the world--?
Glib paced her way down quickly to where she had seen the gleam. It was the inside edge of the hole the young Biker Mice had used to gain egress from the Shelter not so long ago.
"What's this?" she asked, running a hand along the edge.
She peered through it, but found only more blackness. Reaching a hand cautiously through the hole, Glib touched the sides of the blackness and found it to be something long, ribbed, and rubber.
Don't even think it, you pervert.
Some kind of hose, Glib realized. But why's it hooked up to the Shelter?
Suddenly, a huge yellow cloud burst forth from the tube. It hit Glib squarely in the face.
She fell to the ground, clasping her throat in her hands. Her throat burned, her eyes watered painfully. When Glib tried to get away, she found her strength ebbing with incredible speed. Every limb ached. It was all she could do to crawl, at a snail's pace, a few yards away.
Once slightly removed from the suffocating gas, Glib found herself able once more to stand, which she promptly did. However, as the cloud began diffusing all around her, she realized that she had to get her tail out of there, pronto.
Whatever that stuff is, she realized, head still aching, they're gonna try and kill us with it. We need to find a way out, now! I hope the others had better luck than I did!
Much to her dismay, Glib found all the mice who had been searching were now gathered once again in the courtyard. Most looked more nervous than they had been before, though how that was possible was beyond Glib. Fortunately, none of them had seen the gas, or there would have been even more widespread panic (which is not always a bad thing, but definitely would be in this case).
"What's going on?" she asked quickly, nearly out of breath. "Did anybody--"
Alkali stepped out of the crowd and used one long arm to help steady Glib (the first time she had allowed a man to touch her in years). The bags under his eyes were more pronounced than ever. Rush was nowhere to be seen.
"Are you alright?" he asked softly.
"Never mind that," Glib whispered. She stood up a little straighter and said, "Please tell me somebody found the exit to this crazy funhouse."
Alkali shook his head sadly no.
"This place is sealed up tighter than a drum," he said nervously.
Suddenly, someone shouted something and pointed into the distance. Glib didn't have to look up to know it was the gas, rolling in like a monstrous fog to destroy every mouse there.
Biting her lip, Glib said softly, "Then we're dead."