Disclaimer: Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder, a little bit worse.
Oh well, here it goes: 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. 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 little story. Please respect this wish and don't be mad. You're welcome to try your hand at sketching any of them, however!
When we last left Throttle and Modo, they were hurtling toward
their death, having leapt a guard-rail fifty feet above the ground on Lil'
Hoss without the bike's jets! Looks like splat time for two young
Biker Mice! Or is it! If you think about it, their deaths at this point would severely affect continuity, as half the Biker Mice would be dead. So
what'll happen? Read on, true believer!
"Dammit!" Throttle snarled, the air rushing around him. "There's gotta be some way outta this!"
"Yeah!" Modo cried, panicked. "It's called death!"
Gritting his teeth, Throttle looked over at the tall stone pillars that supported the highway that was becoming farther and farther away from them as they neared their mortality.
If they could only reach them....
"Modo!" Throttle shouted. "I got an idea! Remember that Carnival of the Celestial Bodies (It's called Circus of the Stars on Earth) we watched the other night and that thing they got the guy from the Filthy Harrison movies t'do?"
"Ah don't think swallowin' fire is gonna help in this situation, bro!"
"No! That was Clint Eastwood! I mean, Filthy Harrison!"
"Oh, yeah! Ah remember now! The dude on the trapeze!"
"We gotta jump! I think we can make it to the supports!"
"Maybe you can," Modo cried back, "but ah can't!"
Throttle quickly reconsidered his plan. Modo was right; Throttle was much more agile and quite a bit lighter than he was. But maybe...
"Don't worry, bro! We're already falling kinda towards the pillars! Just jump, and you'll make it, no problem!"
"You sure about this?"
"Okay! You're the boss!"
Throttle let go of Modo and felt the rope-like tail around his waist release. The young mouse planted his feet firmly on the leather of Hoss's seat, then pushed off with all the strength in his young legs.
The pillar rushed at him nearly as quickly as the ground had been but a moment ago.
Suddenly, Throttle felt his chest strike the hard concrete. All the air was pushed out his lungs by the impact. He could barely make his arms maintain their grip as he struggled to breathe.
"Boy, didn't think I was gonna make that one," the young mouse wheezed.
Hey, dimwit, the voice asked, you forget something?
Throttle's chin dropped.
Throttle looked down and saw Modo had just jumped. Although his powerful legs had brought him close to the pillar, well, close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and atom bombs. Modo's jump had apexed feet too far of its goal.
Throttle's eldest bro was about to become so much street pizza.
Well, sand pizza, technically, but either way, it's not an appetizing concept. I mean, you would have these big clumps of fur all through it, and....
Biting down on his lower lip, Throttle relaxed his grip on the pillar momentarily and swung his hips hard to the right, whipping his tail hard and fast down to Modo, all the while praying his scheme would work.
There was a sudden yank on Throttle's tail, and the young mouse thought for sure it had been pulled clean off. His lower back screamed bloody murder as muscles tore. Throttle's hands, which had loosened their grip, struggled to find new purchase quickly on the pillar. Every muscle in his arms, legs, and back felt like it was on fire. Almost as soon as he had swung his tail out, the heavy weight at its end was gone.
Body aching, Throttle wondered, Modo? Oh, God, I didn't get my tail down fast enough! I--
Throttle opened his eyes and noticed the tension was gone, replaced by a dull and yet somehow sharp ache.
There, beside him, was Modo, panting much as Throttle was but alive.
"Bro?" Throttle asked, his voice cracking as it had been more and more often in recent months as it slowly changed to a deeper tone. "How'd you--?"
"Easy," Modo replied, putting an arm over Throttle's shoulders. "Ah'm okay. You made it just in time. Ah just grabbed it and swung over. Ah guess it hurt; you screamed like a girl. Sorry `bout that. So as soon as ah hit the wall, ah started climbin'. Now, you okay?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Good," the gray-furred mouse said, glancing downward to check on his bike, which had fallen to the ground and sustained a few injuries. "Let's get down and check on my Lil' Darlin'. Ah hope she's okay. By the way, good plan. Ah didn't think it was gonna work, but it did."
With that, Modo loosened his lover's embrace with the pillar (ooh, now is that a phallic metaphor I sense?) and began to slide down to the sandy soil below.
Throttle clung to the pillar like a scared squirrel-bat for a few moments, thinking.
He's right, y'know, the voice interrupted suddenly.
Quit putting in your two cents! Geez, I'm gonna end up in the nuthouse if this keeps up! "What's the matter, Throttle?" they'll ask. "Oh, I've just got this voice in my head that's always talking to me and that I can't shut up," I'll say. "Oh, okay. Straightjacket!"
I'm just sayin' that Modo's right. That was a good plan.
Throttle shook his head and said to himself, "Whoa, time for a reality pill." He slid down the pole and joined Modo as they began patching up the worst of Lil' Hoss's damage.
But even as he worked, Throttle wondered about that voice. It was trying to tell him something. Of that much, he was aware.
But what? I got a screwy little voice in my head that's always tellin' me about responsibility and planning and that kinda thing. What is it? Is this the same voice that calls the young sailors? The voice could be one in the same.
"....Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me....," Throttle began to mutter under his breath.
"Bro?" Modo asked, quizzical look on his face.
"Ah think you were singin'."
"Bro, please, don't sing."
"Well, let's put it this way; ah don't think you'll be playin' the Rum Tug Tugger in the First Mars Tourin' Comp'ny production of `Cats'."
Throttle grinned, grabbed a fistful of sand, and cried, "Skunk!" as he pitched it at Modo.
The fines dispersed in mid-air, leaving Modo with a light orange dust on his fur. He smiled and grabbed a double-handful, which he immediately wailed at his little bro.
The ensuing sand fight kept the two young mice occupied for about an hour past nightfall, and Modo knew he was going to catch some serious flak for coming home late. He had been able to use the key card to his home to slip in unnoticed, but Modo knew his mother would know he hadn't been home before his curfew. She just had that strange sixth sense that all mothers seem possessed of when it comes to knowing their sons are doing things that they would rather their mothers did not know about.
Beyond that, Modo's momma had been getting especially angry whenever her son was the slightest bit late at night. Even a delay of five minutes could get him grounded lately. She had never been so stringent before.
So, at breakfast the following morning, Modo slunk into the kitchen slowly, head down, and took his seat at the table. The young mouse could see his mother at the stove as she had been every morning of his life, slaving away to make breakfast for her small family. Her back was to him, but he could see that her hair had already been pulled back in its customary bun, as always, though she was still in her housecoat with the monogrammed Rose on the front that Modo have given her two Christmases ago and slippers.
Modo tugged at the collar of his muscle shirt and wondered what the punishment was going to be. After all, his mother had never been terribly harsh with her youngest child; he knew that she knew he felt guilty enough just knowing he had disappointed her. Maybe she wouldn't allow him from riding Lil' Hoss for a few days, which was a punishment worse than death for the young mouse, but Modo could tolerate that.
Taking a whiff of the air, Modo scented fried eggs cooking on one of the three stove burners before Rose. He lifted his head just long enough to see a thick stack of buckwheat pancakes sitting on a plate on the one unoccupied burner, then turned away again when he felt his mother's stern gold eyes on him. A hiss of butter in a pan told Modo that there was steak cooking on the third burner, and he licked his lips (or whatever mice have in the absence of lips) in desire.
Well, she must not be too mad at me, Modo consoled himself. After all, looks like Momma made me my favorite breakfast without me even havin' t'ask her. Maybe I did something right!
Rose's gray hands turned the burner knobs to off. She threw the spatula she had been using in the sink (Ugh, dish-duty for a month, Modo thought, that could be somethin' else she slaps me with). Turning, she put three plates in the center of the table--pancakes, steak, and eggs--before she disappeared silently down the hall to go get dressed.
Licking his lips, Modo picked up his fork and stabbed eagerly at the pancakes--
--only to wind up stabbing the table after a small, wheat pale hand reach in under his fork and snatched the entire plate away from him.
"What the--?" Modo started to ask, flabbergasted.
Sitting at the chair just next to Modo was the pancake thief, a young mouse just under ten years old, clothed in blue pajamas with bright yellow feet. Brown hair fell in stringy strands around his chocolate brown eyes, save for the thick gold skunk stripe running straight down the center of his head and down to the nape of his neck.
"Rimfire!" Modo cried happily, any anger at the theft of the pancakes forgotten.
"Mornin', Uncle Modo," his nephew replied cheerfully, grabbing the butter and a knife.
Ruffling Rimfire's hair, Modo asked, eyes twinkling, "How long you been sittin' there, boy? Ah didn't even see you!"
"I haven't been sittin' here," Rimfire replied with all the seriousness a nine-
going-on-ten-year old can have. "I just smelled the pancakes and it woke me up, so I ran out to get some!"
Smiling, Modo asked, "Your sister up yet?"
"Gossie? Naw. She's still asleepin'."
"Maybe we can go fishin' later," he told Rimfire, smiling.
Rimfire's face lit up like a lightbulb.
"Do we gotta take Gossie, too?"
Modo shook his head no and said, "It'll just be us men." as he reach for the plate of eggs. They wouldn't fill him up, but it was something to fill up the cavernous pit Modo called his stomach.
Unfortunately, he found these disappeared just as quickly as the pancakes had, taken away by another small hand, this one peach-furred and slightly more dainty.
"Mornin', Uncle Modo!" the little girl cried, mouth already full of fluffy clumps of eggs.
Sighing, Modo propped his head on his hand and muttered, "G'mornin', Gossamer. Lemme guess; you smelled eggs cookin' and just rushed right out, eh?"
Gossie nodded, long blonde hair shaking as she did.
As his niece and nephew began chattering away mindlessly about yesterday's episode of G.I. Joe McCarthy ("Now I know....and knowing your connections to alleged communists is half the conviction"), Modo's mind returned to the organ which controlled at least a quarter of his daily thoughts (you've got a dirty mind, you know that?): his stomach. It grumbled loudly, and the young mouse found his eyes locked to the plate of steak before him. He looked left, then right, then left again. No one else around, no one to take away the final remainder of a breakfast his mother had slaved away to make just for her baby boy.
Here goes nothin', Modo thought to himself.
Modo's hand shot like a snake toward the plate, and to his amazement, his fingers suddenly made contact.
YES! AH'M GONNA EAT! AH'M GONNA EAT!
But just as he was pulling the plate back toward him, Modo watched in horror as a hand, this one larger than those of his niece and nephew, plucked the steak off his plate. It landed in the mouth of his older sister, Kathe.
"Thanks, Modo!" she said happily between bites. "I didn't feel like cereal this morning!"
"Neither did ah," Modo sighed, standing and walking over to the cabinets to pull out a box of HappiO's. As he poured the lifesaver-shaped bits of grain into his bowl, Modo sighed, "Ah didn't know you were comin' t'stay with us, Sis. You didn't tell me when ah left yesterday."
Kathe shrugged and said, "I brought Rimfire and Gossie over yesterday afternoon to stay with Mom while I went to pick up some irthday-bay esents-pray--"
"Birthday presents?!" Rimfire and Gossie asked, looking up hopefully at their mother with little bits of pancakes and egg molecules falling out of their wide-open mouths as they did.
Disdainfully staring at her brother, Kathe asked, coolly annoyed, "You just had to teach them Pig Latin, didn't you?"
Modo shrugged sadly and begged his sister to continue.
"Anyway, I went shopping for birthday presents, and I dropped the kids off here. Momma said it was all right, and that maybe you'd take them somewhere if they got bored.
"When I got back, you still hadn't come home, and momma was worried. So I said we'd stay with her until there was some word from you. When it got past nightfall, well, I couldn't just leave her here alone--you know Mom--so I said we'd stay. Rimfire was getting sleepy anyway, so I figured it wouldn't hurt anything if we just spent the night.
"And by the way, little brother, don't use your key card to sneak in. The computer system records it every time someone uses their card. I knew when you came in just by checking the log."
"Ah didn't the computer recorded that kinda stuff," Modo admitted thoughtfully, rubbing his chin.
"That's because you're not as practiced as I am sneaking in," Kathe snickered superiorically, raising a gold eyebrow over her white-furred face.
Modo snickered and said, "You were the one who was always slippin' in and out at night, not me. Ah guess I shoulda paid more attention."
Shrugging her shoulders, Kathe sighed, "Better that you didn't. Otherwise you probably woulda ended up in my situation."
Rimfire looked up from the runny cesspool of syrup and crumbs his pancakes had become and asked, "What situation, Momma?"
Stroking her son's hair, she whispered, "I'll explain when you're older, Rimfire."
Modo, of course, knew exactly what his sister meant.
Kathe hadn't always been the clean cut mouse she appeared to be now. Although she certainly had been a sweet child growing up, the very second she hit puberty, it all went straight down the tubes. Modo, fresh from kindergarten, had watched his sister's wardrobe go from jeans and t-shirts (with the occasional blouse or sweater thrown in for variety) to hiked-up skirts, baby-doll tees, and fishnet tights. She began hanging out with what Momma had referred to as THE WRONG CROWD, and although Modo wasn't sure what THE WRONG CROWD was, exactly, he wasn't keen on how ominous they sounded. Until he was older, he had been certain that THE WRONG CROWD was some sort of monster club composed of Boogey Mice and the Things That Live Under the Bed.
But whatever THE WRONG CROWD was, it was changing Kathe right before Modo's eyes. Modo smelled smoke on his sister's breath. She had taken to using words that apparently would hurt Modo's young ears, if the way that momma would clap her hands over them every time Kathe spoke one of those words was any indication. It had been getting to the point when Rose was completely sick of her daughter's behavior (Sally Jessy Raphael's audience surely would have blamed it on the absence of Kathe and Modo's father (or fathers; Rose had always been hesitant to speak on the subject of her children's father(s))), and was considering throwing her out.
That was before Modo's eighth birthday, when his sister, still two years shy of graduating from high school, had told her mother that she was pregnant, had no clue who the father was, and needed help in the worst kind of way to figure out what to do next.
Luckily, with Rose's help, Kathe managed to straighten herself out, the end result being that had managed to graduate with the rest of her class, and even went to a community college on a full scholarship. Now she was the picture of success, a seemingly peerless engineer for a major business firm in Brimstone with a big house and two absolutely adorable children who thought their mother was perfect in every way.
Although she was a little more stingy with her money than Gramma was.
"Well," Modo said, pushing mushy HappiO's around in his bowl, "thanks for stayin' with Momma. Ah really appreciate it."
"Where'd you go shoppin'?"
"At the Shopatropolis--"
"You were there?!" Modo cried, frightened. "Ah didn't see you--"
Kathe raised her eyebrows suspiciously and asked, "Oh, is that where you were? Don't tell me you skipped summer school and went to the Shopatropolis. Mom'll kill you."
Shaking his head fiercely, Modo snapped, "No! Ah don't have class on Saturday, anyway. Ah was just cruisin' when ah heard about what happened on the radio. Ah thought Throttle and Vinnie might be there, so ah went to see if they were all right. They were both there, but the worst either of `em got was Vinnie's arm got a little hurt. Ah gave Throttle a ride back to his place. That's why ah was out after dark."
"Then why didn't you call?" a elderly voice snapped.
Modo and Kathe looked behind them to see Rose, dressed in her immaculate flowered house-dress and cameo pin at the collar. She stood with her arms crossed over her chest, slightly sullen look in her wrinkle-creased face.
Biting his lip and turning away from the admonishing glare, Modo sighed, "Ah just didn't think to, Momma. Ah'm really sorry."
"Oooh," Rimfire cooed in a sing-songy voice. "Uncle Modo's gonna get in Trou-ble."
"Kids, go get dressed," Kathe said, patting them on the backs and urging them out of their chairs. As Rimfire and Gossamer disappeared down the hall, Kathe followed them and wished Modo a whispered, "Good luck."
Rose sat down opposite her son and took his hands in hers. Modo's dwarfed his mother's, and yet, he had always thought her the stronger one.
"Modo," she sighed, "I know you're growing up. You're nearly old enough to be on your own, and that I would never do anything to make you leave. Heaven forbid. But you know that there are rules here. You know that."
"Ah know, Momma."
"And I only make rules to keep you safe."
"Ah know, Momma."
"And I know your curfew might seem a little ridiculous at your age, but....well, Modo, you're my little boy. I worry about you. I just want to keep you safe."
Smiling a little, Modo repeated his litany of, "Ah know, Momma."
Rose bit her lower lip and said, "Modo, one of the reasons that your curfew's been so early lately, and why I've been getting mad at you being even a little late is because of the Plutarkians. Especially after what happened yesterday. God, I was afraid I might have lost you the second I heard about that ship crashing. And then when you didn't come home....Don't do that to me. You don't wanna give me a heart attack, do you?"
Modo shook his head and chuckled, "No, Momma."
Pausing for a moment, Rose continued softly, "You know, Modo, you're almost old enough to sign up for the Army."
Modo had heard that plenty of times from the recruiters at school, particularly after failing his junior year (which he was now making up) and when the Army took away its requirement that applicants had to be high school graduates. Now, you only had to be eighteen, a milestone Modo found himself coming up on quickly. In fact, he had been using the recruiters' cards as book-marks in his comic books.
Sighing, he muttered, "Ah know, Momma, but ah--"
"Don't. Don't even think about enlisting. Modo, if you join the Army, I'll--I'll--I don't know what I'll do, but I won't let you join!"
Suprised, Modo looked up and found his mother no longer angry but scared. Her hands were shaking, and her eyes were wide with fear.
"Modo, listen. I've backed the Martian government every since I was a little girl. My father's father's father was in the first Planetary Army. Do you know what happened to him?"
Racking his brain for a moment, Modo thought to himself, Lessee. That'd be my great-great-grandfather.....
"Is he dead?" Modo guessed.
"Yes, Modo, because he was in the Army. He'd probably be alive today if he hadn't been....No, wait. Actually, since he'd be a few centuries old, he would be dead today, but that's not the point. Nearly every male in our line has served in that same Army, except for your great-uncle Jasper, because he was.....well....special."
"He was the cannibalistic transvestite serial murderer, right?"
"Exactly. He couldn't join because he had a punctured eardrum.
"But that's not the point, either. Modo, our family may be part of the backbone of the Martian Army, but we don't have good luck in the field. We've never sent a father or an uncle or a son or a nephew off to fight without having them come home in a tin box. It may be genetic; a predilection to die in war. I don't know. What I do know is this; I refuse to bury my son before me. Don't join the Army, Modo. Promise me you won't."
"Ah won't, Momma," Modo agreed readily. "Ah promise."
Rose smiled, stood up, and looked down at Modo's cereal bowl.
"Goodness, don't tell me that's all you're going to have for breakfast!" she shouted, shocked and very nearly appalled at her son's bad sense.
"Modo, as my dear-old white-furred daddy used to say, `You can't start your day without something in your belly!' Now, how about I make you a real breakfast?"
Smiling, Modo asked, "With eggs?"
Rose nodded and added, "And steak, toast, and pancakes."
"Hash browns too?"
"You've got it," Rose laughed merrily, rubbing her son's head between the antennae playfully.
As his mother began cooking once again, Modo began planning his escape with his breakfast. His sister and her children had beaten him once before to his favorite meal of the day; never again.
This time, he thought to himself, ah ain't gonna leggo my Eggo.
For the time being, let us turn away from our four young would-be heroes, and take a moment to examine Martian political structure.
Goody, it's time for a civics lesson. Now pay attention: there'll be a quiz on this later.
The entire planet of Mars is ruled by a single government. All mice, rats, and Sand Raiders are expected to bow to its power, despite the fact that no rat or Sand Raider has ever or is likely to ever serve a term in office.
Earlier in Mars' history, the planet had been divided into tiny city-states, wrapped tightly around the sparse oasises that dot the red sphere, each with its own government and independent of the small towns around it. Trade took place between some, but with others, hatred and war were the only ties that bound.
When, however, the forefathers (and foremothers; we live in a PC world, baby, so get used to it) of the modern-day Sand Raiders and Martian Desert Rats said, "All together now!" and attacked the all the city-states held by Martian mice to steal away their water supplies roughly one hundred years ago, it became apparent that if the Martian mouse population was to survive on their hostile home, they would all have to band together into a single force to beat back their opponents. The ensuing battle became known as the Hundred Years' War (although it only lasted 87 years).
The happy result was, as history shows, a victory for the mice, who were able to maintain their cities and lay waste to the strongholds of their enemies. Later, it was reasoned that, as the banding-together had worked to fight off the combined Sand Raider-Desert Rat forces, why not keep the whole planet together as one, with the victors, the Martian mice, in charge?
So it happened that the Martian planetary government first was enacted, choosing a more democratic form that the blood clans that had ruled the city-states. All the planet's population was free and equal, ending centuries of enslavement for some families of mice. The government was impartial. Mars would be governed by a single Martian president, with each city having its own representative in the Martian Senatorial Council. That way, the mice who lived in the various cities would have a strong say in their government, and it would never be corrupted.
That lasted all of about five minutes.
As other planets sought to ally themselves with the new government of Mars, corruption followed, along with some terrible legislative mistakes. One of the chief mistakes the earlier Martians made was that they never bothered to set a limit on just how long a president was to serve. Elections were only held when the president died or when he committed an atrocity so great that no one could stand it. He could be the most corrupt son of a bitch that ever laid foot on Martian soil, and no one could do a thing about it until he kicked the bucket.
Fortunately, this was not always the case. Mars had short spurts of purity in office, but more often than not, they were followed by long stints of commanders in chief who would come into power and just sit in the pocket of special interest groups for his entire term in office.
And "special interest groups" could all too easily be Plutarkian....
Let's take a walk inside Union Block, the home of the current Martian President. It's the same mansion from which the President addresses his people on New Year's Eve. Some of the most stirring speeches in the history of the universe have been given in Union Block, some of the most incredible doctrines have come from those hallowed halls--
--not to mention some really hot gossip.
"Yeah, Fall, I'm serious. I slept with the Big Guy," the young mouse working standing at the phone in the hall said, twirling a lock of her poofy black hair around one chunky finger. "Mmmhmm. Oh, lots of times. I need both hands to count all the times. Even my toes!.....Oh, quit it! I am not a pathological liar! Just because all my former classmates, friends, parents, and coworkers say I am.....Oh, yeah, I've got proof. I've got this dress I kept as a souvenir from him, and it's all stained with his--"
"Come with me, miss," a voice said suddenly from behind.
The girl spun on her heels to see a mouse in a dark suit staring at her.
She turned back to the phone tensely and hissed, "Talk to you later, Fall." The girl quickly spun around to see the black-furred and black-suited mouse who had called for her standing there impatiently, waiting.
"Yes, sir? Can I help you?"
"I need to get to the President's office, but I can't find my hard pass. You have one, I assume; your badge says you're an intern, so you've got to have one. Come with me so I can get where I'm going without a hassle, Miss--?"
"Lewin," she replied quickly, shedding her conservative jacket and blouse to reveal a slinky dress underneath. Lewin pulled a mirror from her nearby purse, checked her hair and makeup, then said, "Ski Lewin. Follow me."
The pair walked down the hall, both silent. Lewin seemed positively giddy to be seeing the President, but managed to maintain some composure as they met up with a black-suited mouse who was one of the President's Personal Guards-mice. Flashing her pass (and nearly two other things), Lewin and the suited mouse gained access to the hallway which would lead to the President's office.
Soon, they stood before the black marble door. Lewin knocked carefully, biting her lip for what felt like an eternity before the slab creaked on its hinges and revealed the unlikely object of her affections.
He was, in a word, old. In three words, very, very old. He stood slightly hunched over. Wretched posture. The mouse at the door had a grim, brown-furred face covered in wrinkles that looked like the Canals that carried the precious water supply across Mars, with large rivers branching into smaller tributaries. Like many in the older generations, he didn't have hair on his head, just short fur, with whisker-spots decorating his snout. Even his antennae were slightly creaky looking and seemed rather undependable for the transfer of memory.
"Yes?" he growled in a strong tone that did not hide his anger at having been interrupted.
Lewin said, blushing, "Hello, President Abrahams. I--"
"You again!" The old mouse slapped his forehead with his palm and sighed, "What do you want from me, girl?"
Undaunted, the young intern pointed to the mouse behind her and said, "This gentlemouse wished to see you, sir, and I--"
Abrahams grabbed the mouse by the arm and ripped him into the room before he slammed the door in Lewin's face.
She stood there a moment, then sighed, eyes filled to the brim with adoration, "He loves me."
"By the moons, Valentine, what took you?" Abrahams snapped as he stormed into his large office, the other mouse trailing behind. "We've been waiting for an hour!"
The suited mouse, obviously Valentine, looked around the room and saw that, in addition to Abrahams, three other mice were waiting. Each wore a black suit and tie. Two of them sat rather close on a small red-plush couch, while the other sat alone on a much larger, very cozy looking couch.
As Valentine pondered why in the world two mice would sit scrunched up on the tiny couch as opposed to having room to stretch out on the larger one, Abrahams had already scuttled to the liquor cabinet. He told the new arrival to name his poison. Scotch and soda, Valentine replied, taking a chair near the President's desk.
Putting the drink down on the table (and without a coaster, no less!) the aging Martian President took a few wobbly steps over to the three suited mice and introduced them each in turn, gesturing to each in turn.
"Valentine, this is Skarn, head of the War Council--"
The leftmost mouse on the small red couch nodded.
"--Petty, the Minister of Treasury--"
Another nod, this one from the mouse of the right.
"--and Crass, Minister of Mice Who Say `Nanny-Nanny Boo-Boo' Incessantly Without Stopping."
The mouse who sat alone grinned ear-to-ear and said, almost proudly, "Nanny-nanny boo-boo!".
Valentine scooted his chair a little farther away from Crass very, very quickly. When Abrahams finally sat, the young mouse leaned over to the President and whispered, "Why do we need a Minister of Mice Who Say `Nanny-Nanny Boo-Boo' Incessantly Without Stopping?"
"He's my kid sister's husband," Abrahams explained in a hushed voice. "I had to find him a job. But there's not much work in government for a mouse who routinely stapes his sleeve to his desk. I had to make something up."
"But why make him Minister of Mice Who Say `Nanny-Nanny Boo-Boo' Incessantly Without Stopping? Surely there was some other candy-ass position that was of no consequence open? Drug czar or Speaker of the House or something?"
"Eh," the President replied with a dismissive shrug.
Sparing a quick glance over to the Minister, Valentine noticed that Crass was playing with a bright yellow Gameboy. It beeped, and occasionally pinged, and whenever it pinged, Crass would give a joyous little yelp.
"So you made up the position. That much, I understand. But why is he here?"
Sighing, Abrahams muttered, "He locked himself out of his office. It's either this or have him roaming the halls. Frankly, I don't want some foreign ambassador to see him. Lord knows what would happen."
Shaking his head, Valentine swallowed his drink and waited for the slight buzz to pass.
"So, Valentine, why were you so late? We've been waiting for hours."
The ghost of a smile on his lips, the sable mouse replied, "It's a circus out there, Dahmer. Every muckraker worth his by-line wants to know why a Plutarkian ship crashed in Hellfire. And why the public wasn't notified that the ship was coming down so the Shopatropolis could be evacuated. And why a ship the size of a football field was able to enter Hellfire's airspace without anyone picking it up on radar."
"I've got my speechwriter on it right now," Abrahams replied casually. "We'll have a press release out by ten o'clock tonight. It'll be on the evening news that after a thorough examination of the Plutarkian vessel, it has been determined that the ship was equipped with a radar-jamming device, so the public could not be warned of the crash before it took place. The Army, who had sent the ship crashing down to Mars, was in hot pursuit, and could not take the time to warn of the ship's approach. If that doesn't work, then we've old fart in the Senatorial Council set up to take the fall, if it comes to that."
Nodding thoughtfully, Valentine muttered, "Sounds plausible. But--"
"Never mind the holes. My writer is nothing short of amazing. She covered up that hole `Redwater' mess."
"Cherry?" asked Skarn, raising his eyebrows with a grin.
Abrahams nodded, then added, with a wink, "But she won't be available for a week or two, Skarn. Too much work to do. You'll have to sleep with your wife tonight."
Skarn snapped his fingers and sighed, "You win some, you lose some."
"But on top of that," interrupted Petty, "the public is going to be distracted by other, more tragic events in the morning. They won't even care about the Shopatropolis."
"Who're you going to kill?" Valentine asked, sipping his drink.
"We're not sure just yet," Petty answered. "It's a toss-up between Ruby Kitsune and the lead singer of `Marilyn Hanson'."
Raising an eyebrow, Valentine said thoughtfully, "Two of Mars' best-loved entertainers. Very tragic."
"Desperate times," Abrahams interrupted, shrugging impassively. "Now, onto business. Valentine, what's the good word from the High Chairman?"
Valentine opened the gold clasps on his briefcase and pulled out a thin sheaf of papers, which he handed to the President.
"He's pleased with the progress they've been able to make so far. Wants you to keep up the good work."
Abrahams looked over the papers thoughtfully, then asked, "And these are--?"
"Contracts. Camembert wants the tracts you spoke over last weekend."
Nodding, the President passed the papers to Petty and told him briefly to make sure he wasn't getting stiffed before he asked Valentine where the Plutarkians were planning to begin their new excavations.
"Let's me check."
While Valentine flipped through his papers, there was a knock at the door. Abrahams answered, and found an attractive young mouse in a pastel pink business suit standing in the doorway. He nodded toward Crass, who stood up, skipped over to the woman, and hugged her happily. They departed together.
"Who was that?" Valentine asked curiously.
"My sister. She picks him up every day after work. He'd get lost taking the subway." Abrahams chuckled, making a harsh, rattling sound deep in his chest. "They tried using the Teleporter system, and he ended up on Saturn. Nasty business. Decided this was easier."
Nodding, Valentine began reading off a list of the names of the place were Plutarkian excavations were slated to begin.
"Elysium Plateau, Hraka Valley, Argyre Basin...." He sighed and shook his head. "There are dozens of sites, Dahmer. It would take me an hour to get through them all."
"Just give them to Skarn," Abrahams said casually. "He's the one that needs to know where not to send the Army."
"Not to mention where to keep the ecologists away from," the sandy-furred mouse muttered, frustrated, taking the papers from Valentine and reviewing them briefly. "They are such a damn pain. If it weren't for the re-foresting programs to keep them busy--pheh, I don't know what I'd do."
"But your bosses are still uninterested in Ash, correct?" the President asked. There almost seemed to be hopeful worry in his ancient face.
"Oh, yes," Valentine agreed, nodding. "They can't find any valuable ores there."
"No one can find ores in Ash," Petty chuckled. "Ever since the mines dried up, no one's interested in that hunk of rock. Not even the mice who live there. It's practically a ghost town."
Valentine put a finger to his chin and said thoughtfully, "But, I suppose that I could try and convince--"
"NO!" Abrahams shouted, jumping up out of his chair. His eyes glowed like fire as he screamed, "ASH IS MINE ! I MUST HAVE IT!"
The room was silenced by the outburst. The only sound was Abrahams' own heavy breathing as he panted with rage. Petty and Skarn looked to each other, shocked. Valentine remained quietly unruffled.
The President leaned back into his chair, once again under control, and explained simply, "Just make sure your bosses understand that Ash is mine, Valentine. I have a special project in the works there. The Plutarkians can have any other place on Mars. Except for my office, of course!"
All the mice laughed nervously, afraid to upset the Martian President again.
Valentine continued flipping through his binder. He knew that the Plutarkians also had an interest in Ash, but decided to bring it up later. Perhaps when Abrahams was dead.
"The Plutarkians want to speed up the time-table on Hellfire," the black mouse interrupted. "They need the large magnesium deposits under the city within three weeks for steel manufacturing."
Petty looked up from his papers and said, "Sir--Mr. President--the Plutarkians still owe us for the mining of the North Polar Cap. I wouldn't recommend doing them any additional favors beyond our present dealings until we're even."
"He has a point," Dahmer agreed haughtily. He turned to his black-furred associate and asked, "Well? This isn't a rotten little desert or some silly rainforest. This is a city. It's going to cost a fortune for an evacuation. And you know how long those things can take."
Valentine smiled and extracted a thin slip of paper, apparently a check, from the bottom of his briefcase.
"Here's what's owed on the cap-mining. The rest is the standard mining fee for an area the size of Hellfire, plus a sizable bonus for your help in getting the mice out of the city within the next two weeks, Dahmer."
The President looked thoughtfully over the check. His eyes widened, and he nodded slowly in appreciation.
"I don't know," Petty said suspiciously.
"And of course," Valentine continued, "a slightly smaller payoff for your invaluable Ministers as well."
Petty and Skarn looked to each other and nodded, smiling.
"Then we have a deal?"
"Still," Skarn interrupted, "it would take an awful lot of troops for an orderly evacuation of Hellfire. Troops that are still busy with the construction of your private little camp in Ash."
"Camp?" asked Valentine curiously, raising an eyebrow. He smiled and asked, "Is that why you're so interested in Ash? Planning to do a little vacationing?"
Shrugging his old, rickety shoulders, the President replied, "I need to see to it that certain parties don't interfere with my presidency."
"Which parties?" the black-furred mouse asked, eyes narrowed.
"Calm yourself, my friend. No one that you would ever have anything to do with. Merely the Order."
"The Order?" Valentine chuckled. "Oh, why didn't you say so? The Plutarkians are as interested in eliminating them as you are."
Doubtful, the President thought to himself with a grin.
"I'll inform High Chairman Camembert of your agreement to help with Hellfire. I can say for certain that the Plutarkian Department of Crushing Any Resistance to Planetary Exploitation (formerly the Department of War) will authorize their troops to assist you in any way possible.
"Would you like to meet with Camembert any time soon?"
Nodding, Abrahams looked at his watch and said, "Speak with my secretary. Gentlemice, I'm afraid that I have another, rather pressing appointment to attend to."
With that, Petty, Skarn, and Valentine caught their cue to leave before the hounds were released. They disappeared all in a line, with Valentine closing the door behind him.
Seconds after the door slammed (frustrating Lewin, who had been hoping to slip inside Abrahams' office before the door closed and locked), a strange black mist began to settle over Abrahams' plush red couch. The haze began to take on a gigantic humanoid shape, until it was clearly a three-dimensional form.
"And here's my appointment now," Abrahams muttered, obviously less than thrilled.
White light filled the room. When the President next opened his eyes, a strange, wolfish creature was lounging casually on the couch. Its lips were parted in a grin, exposing its great canines. Red eyes followed Abrahams as he skittered over to the liquor cabinet once again.
"Don't bother with that fetid brew, Dahmer" the wolf chuckled. "Sit down, so we can get to business."
"I thought you drank," Abrahams said, slight nervous edge to his voice.
A small crystal goblet filled with an emerald green liquid appeared in the wolf's right hand. His long fingernails curled around the vessel gracefully, and he sipped some of the liquor. Smacking his lips in satisfaction, he replied, "I do. But not that disgusting swill you mortals partake of.
"Now sit. The time has come to talk of many things; of sailing ships and sealing wax, and whether pigs have wings, but chiefly this; I have granted you your power, Abrahams; now where is my payoff?"
The President sat in the chair Valentine had parked his tail in and took a deep breath.
"It's coming, sir. The camp is being built in Ash right now. Soon, we'll be rounding up the members of the Order, and--"
"And are you certain you can eliminate the last Knight of the Order?" the wolf snapped suddenly.
Abrahams, taken by suprise, was silent for a moment.
Growling, the wolf rose to his feet and crushed the glass in his large palm. "Don't toy with me, Dahmer! I can take it all away as easily as I gave it to you!"
"Calm down!" begged the President, eyes filled with terror. "This will work!
"It had better. Now, come to me, and be still."
The wolf stood up and pressed his hand to Abrahams' head for a moment. A glow passed between the wolf's palms and the mouse's temples. It flashed red suddenly, then it was gone.
"What was that?" Abrahams asked, drawing away. "Am I ill?"
"Oh, it's nothing to concern yourself with. Just a small malignant tumor developing in your brain. I halted its growth."
Shocked, Abrahams shouted, "A tumor?" He paused, then cried, "Halted it? But why didn't you--"
"Remove it?" Black asked, slightly amused. He turned and played with a tiny sculpture on Abrahams' desk. "Why, to keep you focused on your goal. Remember, Abrahams, that all the money in the universe--the dollars, the diamonds, all the gold-gills, all of it--is useless to a mouse who is dying in a hospital bed with his fur falling out in clumps from the chemotherapy. I will keep you happy and healthy, but you must eliminate the child. And soon, before it comes into its power."
Swallowing hard, Abrahams whispered softly, "The process would go much more quickly if you told me who the child was."
"Fool! If I knew, I would have told you by now!"
Raising an eyebrow, the President asked, slightly tartly, "You mean that for all your power, you can't find one little boy or girl?"
Black turned and grabbed the mouse by his jacket, throwing him onto the desk.
"DON'T QUESTION ME!" he growled. "YOU ARE AN INSECT! YOU ARE NOTHING COMPARED TO ME! I CAN KILL YOU WITH A THOUGHT! I CAN DESTROY THIS PLANET IN A HEARTBEAT!"
"Then why don't you?" the Martian asked weakly, Black's bared fangs barely an inch from his throat.
The wolf released his captive, throwing him onto his own desk, where he was nearly impaled on the sculpture the wolf had been playing with. Klaus paced away to the edge of the room.
"It does not suit my purposes to destroy this planet. You're teetering dangerously close to a line you don't want to cross, mouse. Watch yourself."
Abrahams laid on the desk, panting weakly. Slowly, the Martian President nodded his head with a solemness he was barely able to feign at the funerals of foreign dignataries (Mars doesn't have a vice-president to handle that stuff). For while Dahmer Abrahams may have held great power with his own people, compared to Klaus Black, he was nothing.
Suddenly, the door flew open.
"Oh, Dahmer, I can't take it anymore!" the lustful Lewin cried, tearing off her blouse and revealing her large, bouncing cleavage underneath. She dashed toward him and cried, "Take me take me take me!--"
Black casually flicked his wrist at the young intern, whispering offhandedly, "Eichi hai no flash."
A tiny ball of blue light appeared out of nothing, hovering over his palm. Without warning, it erupted into a bright jagged stream of lightning. In less than a second, it had torn threw Lewin's body, shooting threw her limbs and flash-frying her organs. Barely seconds after her misplaced devotion had led her into the room with reckless abandon, Lewin slumped to the floor, charred and black, and very, very dead.
Abrahams stood motionless for a moment, then tapped Lewin's corpse with the toe of his shoe.
"Thanks. Little slut was really bugging me. But why--"
Shrugging, Black replied, "She was going to try and indict you in a sex scandal next month. I thought I'd save you the trouble of sending your own mice after her in an assassination attempt. Remember, Abrahams, I can be very kind to those who win my favor. Just do what I ask of you now, and anything and everything in this universe which you desire will be yours."
Abrahams nodded once more, smiling.
Time, as it always does, passes. Sometimes, it passes quickly, sometimes slowly, but time had better watch passing over the double yellow line, because there's a cop in the field behind the bushes, and he's just waiting to nail some chronological concept ass.
But regardless of the tickets and pending day in court, time passes. Two weeks after the crash at the Megashopatropolis, the Plutarkian occupation of Mars was clearly heating up. Plutarkian troops were beginning to draw closer and closer to Hellfire. The strange, insectile Plutarkian backhoes and cranes were becoming bolder, no longer waiting until nightfall to creep out from enemy encampments to begin their plunder of Martian soil.
The Martian Army, though, according to news reports, had the Plutarkians on the run in other areas of Mars. The barely-populated equatorial regions with their few precious oasises and jungles were apparently being left alone, despite their obvious desirable qualities of lumber and water.
Curiously, there had been only a slight increase in the number of Martian soldiers around Hellfire, even though the sounds of battle drew a little closer every day. Many residents decided that the warzone Hellfire could become was not the place they ought to be, so they loaded up their trucks and moved to Beverly.
Hills, that is. Swimming pools, movie stars.
Still, despite the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air giving proof through the night that our flag was still there, life went on in Hellfire, and even as daily routine grew to include evacuation practice and stashing little caches of canned food and bottled water, some special rites of passage for our would-be Biker Mice did make life worthwhile.
"Are you sure about this?" Modo asked, holding the over-filled popcorn bowl as Vinnie, Throttle, and Bingo pulled three more bags of fresh-popped kernels from the microwave and dumped them on top of the already huge pile. "Ah thought your parents blocked the good channels out."
Grinning, Throttle replied, "Yeah, but remember, I had to show them how to do use the blocker in the first place. I figured out how to get around the V-chip before my parents knew there was one in our new TV. Trust me."
Vinnie snickered and added, "Let's here it for Throttle's parents, who had the class to be out at the movies the same night that Super-Ultra-Hyper-DeathMatch Eight is on Pay-Per-View!"
"But what'd you tell `em you were usin' their credit card t'order, bro?" Bingo asked as the four of them dashed into the den, leaving a trail of popcorn behind them.
"Some flick from Earth called The Fox and the Hound. Cartoon."
"Wait," Vinnie said, arching his eyebrows. "You're thirteen, you have the house all to yourself, you invited your best bros over, and your parents think you're gonna pick a cartoon over violent professional wrestling and/or hard-core nudity?"
Throttle picked up the remote control and flipped the television on as the three young mice plopped down on the floor, hands already scooping out popcorn like there was no tomorrow.
Suddenly, the words SUPER-ULTRA-HYPER-DEATHMATCH VIII: KISS YOUR ASS GOODBYE appeared at midscreen, surrounded by explosions and scantily-clad ring-girls. Emphasis on the "scantily-clad" part, as in, if you saw them, you'd most definitely be inclined to say, "Jeez, did you use a whole three threads putting that ensemble together?"
"Turn it up, bro!" Vinnie shouted.
Throttle clicked the volume arrow.
"It's SUPER-ULTRA-HYPER-DEATHMATCH VIII, only on Pay-Per-View!" the announcer screamed, as if someone thought he was lying and the only way his credibility could be increased through sheer volume. "The toughest combatants in the galaxy have come to New Mojave tonight to do just one thing: KILL! KILL! KILL! All for your viewing entertainment!"
"God bless them," Bingo muttered, wiping a tear from his eye.
"And now, we go ringside to meet the first warriors in tonight's cosmic bloodbath!"
"Turn it up, bro, I can't hear!" Vinnie shouted, elbowing Throttle again.
Shrugging, Throttle picked up the remote again and clicked it a few more times.
"In the first match--making his Super-Ultra-Hyper-Deathmatch debut, he's the Martian mouse who just escaped a murder charge back home and is ready to dish out more of what he gave his ex-wife--it's SCAAAAARRRRP!"
The mouse flexed his muscles, flashing the same toothy grin at the camera as he had at reporters the day he was freed.
"Couldn't he sue for that?" Modo asked Vinnie curiously. "Ah mean, your mom did get him off the hook."
"You kiddin'?" Vinnie replied, smiling. "He probably told them to say that! Now shut up! I can't hear!"
And, in the opposite corner we have, specially transported from a backwater little planet named Earth just for this fight, the one, the only--Terry "the Hulk" HOOOOOOGAN!"
"This oughtta be good," Throttle snickered.
"Yeah," Bingo chuckled. "Scarp's gonna waste that hairless little--!"
"Ah wouldn't say that, bro," Modo interrupted. "He's baldin', but he ain't hairless."
"Hairless," the young mouse repeated, firm in her resolve.
Throttle shook his head and said, "Gotta go with Bing on this one. Vin-man?"
Vinnie shrugged, then grabbed his shoulder and winced in pain.
"Arm buggin' you again?" Bingo asked. "Need some ice?"
Grinding his teeth together, Vinnie debated whether to give in and accept the ice, or whether to let his growing sense of machismo win out and deny that he was even in pain. In the end, ego easily blocked the pain receptors in Vinnie's brain, and he replied through gritted teeth that he was fine.
As he glanced down at Vinnie's casted arm, Throttle said thoughtfully, "When'd you break it, bro? I thought you made it out of the `Shopatropolis with just a little fracture."
"I fell," Vinnie muttered under his breath. "S'all."
"You `fall' an awful lot, bro," Throttle replied doubtfully, eyes glaring at the broken arm suspiciously. "You know, we've known each other ever since we were kids, and me and Modo and Bing all know you ain't that clumsy."
"I'm fine," the white-furred mouse lied. "Y'think a little broken arm's gonna keep me down? Hah!"
"It ain't your arm we're worried about," Modo whispered. "It's how y'got it."
Half-snarling, Vinnie asked, "Look, are we gonna have some deep, meaningful conversation, or watch Scarp rip that little punk Hogan's arms off and beat him into a pulp with `em?"
The four mice looked to each other, reached a silent consensus, and turned their attention back to the television screen, where it looked like Scarp was about to be thrown out of the ring by his hair.
"Turn it up, bro," Vinnie said for the umpteenth time.
"Y'ever think of gettin' a hearing aid, bro?" Modo snickered.
Throttle reach for the remote.
BA-THOOM! CRACK! LOUDNESS! ONATAMONTAPEIA!
The wall behind the television exploded in a bright burst of light. Throttle, Modo, Vinnie, and Bingo barely had time to brace themselves before the blast threw them into the back wall. Chunks of debris as big as Modo's fists slammed down around them but left the young mice mostly unharmed.
Sadly, though, the television was destroyed.
(Insert "Taps" here.)
Silence reigned supreme for a moment as the smoke and dust of the explosion settled. The track lights overhead had been smashed to bits by flying rubble, and only a pale light from the hall shined into the den.
"You don't have to turn it up that loud, bro," Vinnie whispered, the breath knocked out of him by the blast.
Modo pushed his way up to a sitting position and muttered, "Great special effects."
"The audience is most definitely listening now," Bingo said, rubbing her ears.
"No kiddin'," Throttle muttered. "I think I'm deaf."
Vinnie, out of purest concern for his bro, dashed over and screamed in Throttle's ear, "BRO! CAN YOU HEAR ME?!"
Pushing Vinnie away, the older mouse snapped, "Okay, now I am deaf."
"What was that?" Modo asked, climbing to his feet.
"Dunno, but from now on, no more ultra-violent sporting events for me," Throttle said with firm resolve. "I'm only ordering hard-core pornography from the pay-per-view channel."
Smiling, Vinnie said, "I'm not seein' the downside."
"Quit it, bro," Modo chuckled. "You're too young t'be perverted."
A glaring white light filled the den. The three mice clapped their hands over their eyes to shield them, for what they saw was enough to make their blood run cold.
Big, fat, ugly, oily, stinking Plutarkians.
Big, fat, ugly, oily, stinking Plutarkians, just like on the news.
Big, fat, ugly, oily, stinking Plutarkians, just like on the news, wielding very high-powered weapons, all aimed at our would-be heroes.
Big, fat, ugly, oily , stinking Plutarkians, just like on the news, wielding very high-powered weapons, all aimed at our would-be heroes, who scared the cat that ate the rat that ate the malt that lie in the house that Jack built.
And every one intent on snuffing the four young mice before them.