Disclaimer: Here comes the new disclaimer, same as the old 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!
In case you missed the last part of the story (you naughty thing!),
the young Biker Mice were saved at the last second by a mysterious
motorcyclist and sent to live in a Shelter somewhere North of their
hometown of Hellfire. Bad enough that there was nothing to do in
the Shelter, but on top of that, Bingo received news that she would
have to leave the Shelter to stay with her guardian in one built
especially for members of the cultish Order of St. Dumas! She did so reluctantly, unwillingly fragmenting the Biker Mice in the process.
What will they do? What will they do?
After the seperation from their youngest bro, the remaining Biker Mice found themselves plunged into a deep (and thankfully brief) depression. Life just wasn't the same without Bingo's cheerful irreverence. They would all three sit together in Modo's room, not speaking. Modo would simply sit and polish his bike's helmet. Vinnie would flip through comic books, not bothering to read them or even look at the pictures. Throttle would ball up pieces of paper and just throw them toward the waste-paper can, sinking one in every three shots.
It wasn't until Modo wore a hole through the top of his helmet, Vinnie's hands were bleeding from all the papercuts, and Throttle had covered the entire floor with tiny paper balls up to his ankles that they realized that they couldn't spend the rest of their lives like this. They would have to, Throttle said, get on with their lives and keep Bingo in their hearts
Fortunately, television was soon added to the Shelter, making coping much easier. It's hard to be depressed when you're watching King Arthur whack off the Black Knight's limbs.
Even with this historic advent, the days still took on an achingly dull routine for Throttle, Vinnie, and Modo. They would wake up, seek each other out, take their pre-packaged (pre as in, the late 1890's) breakfasts, try and bargain with anyone who had scrounged decent food for their meager rations (not bloody likely, most of the time), and whittle away the afternoons as best they could. These were the longest years in the history of the world to the young Biker Mice, and for almost everyone else trapped inside the walls of the Shelter. Safety meant perpetual imprisonment. For months on end, there was nothing to do at all. The planners of the Shelter had fortified it to be self-sufficient, but hadn't put any thought into the amusement of its denizens. So while time passed, it passed all the slower for the boredom.
Eventually, it was discovered that, buried on the opposite side of the rock wall at the Shelter's rear, was a vast quantity of magnesium and iron ores. The government asked all able-bodied mice, both male and female, to work the newly-built mine built there, stripping it of its valuable metals to supply the war effort. Better meals were offered in return for the work, in addition to larger quarters, private bathrooms and kitchens, and a better chance of being relocated to an unconquered city. Naturally, the program went over like gangbusters and took off immediately.
But not without a weighty cost.
It was yet another lazy afternoon. Throttle had been reading alone in his family's room, stretched out on a small cot that he had first fallen asleep in over a year earlier. His feet stretched over the end of the bed; he had inherited his father's height, it seemed, and it was beginning to show as Throttle entered puberty. Casually, he turned the pages of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair, wiggling his toes as he did.
His button-down shirt hung open, revealing Throttle's lean tan-furred chest, which was clearly becoming more muscular. One nice thing about the huge dome covering the Shelter was that it kept out the rain and the winter cold, creating a summer-warm atmosphere all year round. If he would have been able to find new pants (the top brass at the Shelter were notoriously bad about requisitioning such "frivolities" as new clothing for its denizens), Throttle would have slashed the jeans he wore now into cut-offs long ago. He was lucky he had been able to rip the knees out without ending up on the business end of a firing squad.
There was no mouse in the entire Shelter as relaxed as Throttle was.
Of course, with a set-up like that, you know that something bad has got to happen.
The room was bigger than it had been the year before. Alkali had volunteered to work in the mines, and in return, the administrators had built an addition onto the end of the bunker to give Alkali's family a larger room. Although they had yet to get a kitchen all their own, they had recently acquired a bathroom.
But the work Alkali did to earn these niceties was clearly getting to him. He was tall, but not terribly strong. Every night, he came home completely exhausted, barely even taking notice of Throttle, Rush, or even Jewel before he fell into bed, usually still fully dressed. He was sicker more often than he had been when his work was limited to accounting, but he refused to take time off for fear of lusing his job at the mine.
The affects on his family were tangible, too. Jewel felt ignored and was growing a little hostile toward her husband on his days off, usually Wednesdays and Sundays. Throttle's own feeling of being pushed to the back burner grew as well. Rush was too young and often too ill to understand what was going on.
And he's the lucky one, Throttle thought to himself, turning a page.
Without warning, the door swung open.
"Whu?" Throttle asked, springing up off the bed.
"Easy, kid,"a farmiliar voice said.
Glib stood framed in the doorway, her gold hair falling in tangles around her face. She looked rather haggard. A faint fragrance hung around her head, but Throttle's nose knew it wasn't Chanel No. 5, but rather, Heineken. Vinnie had told Throttle that Glib had started drinking because of her boredom, and at that moment, Throttle certainly would have agreed.
"Is your mother here?"
Shaking his head no, Throttle buttoned up his shirt (he was still a little shy about girls seeing his bare chest, especially his bro's normally somewhat attractive mother) and rose to his feet.
Vinnie's mother sighed and asked, words slightly slurred, "Well, where is she?"
"At the Med-Center with Rush."
Pulling her eyebrows together, Glib asked, "He's still sick?"
Nodding, Throttle sighed mightily before he explained, "You know how it is. Sometimes, it just takes real little kids longer to get over Strep-23."
Glib said thoughtfully, "Yeah. Vinnie had it when he was five. Howitzer said that it was better than six months before he got over that completely. But at least your little brother's going to make it; you know alot of kids don't even survive."
"You're mad at your brother, aren't you? For being sick all the time and getting all the attention?"
Snickering, Throttle replied, "You're reading my mind."
"Try not to worry about it. Once Rush is better, your mother'll be spending more time with you, I guarantee it."
Bet Vinnie wishes he had my problem, Throttle thought to himself. He hates being around his mom. It'd probably suit him just fine if he never saw her.
The young mouse chided himself for thinking such a thing, and was about to ask Glib why she was looking for Jewel when, suddenly--
A thunder shook the walls of the room. Glib was knocked from her feet and hit the ground hard. Throttle grabbed her quickly and scrambled beneath the bed. They were crammed together in a tangle of limbs that was very nearly sexual.
Hmm, well, maybe not, but Glib's hand was certainly a little too close to Throttle's crotch for his comfort.
Well, this is certainly cozy, Throttle thought to himself. The smell of alcohol on Glib's breath was almost unbearable in such close quarters. If he had ever thought Martian noses too sensitive for their own good, now was that time.
The shaking continued for several moments. The power flickered on and off before it finally up and died.
"Are you sure we should be under this thing?" Glib shouted, barely able to make herself heard over the din. "I thought the doorway was the safest place to be during a natural disaster (science buffs should know that since Mars has one gigantic tectonic plate, it does not have earthquakes (although, if they did, they would probably called "Marsquakes", wouldn't they?))!"
Suddenly, the ceiling over the doorway collapsed, dropping hundreds of pounds of cement onto the frame and crushing it into splinters. Any chance of escaping via the door was essentially destroyed.
"That answer your question?" Throttle shouted back.
The shaking stopped suddenly, but the two mice waited a moment to make certain that it was.
"What the Hell was that?" Glib asked, eyes wide with shock and completely sobered.
"Dunno, but I'm gonna find out," Throttle replied, crawling away from the bed. He surveyed the door, then began trying to clear the rubble away. For his young arms, it proved an almost unsurmountable task.
Glib quickly walked over and said, "Let me help."
She wrapped her hands around one piece about the size of a small table top and slightly thicker. Planting her feet, Glib focused all of her strength on lifting the cement--
--and nearly threw her back out.
"It's okay," Throttle said quickly through gritted teeth. "I can get it."
Dammit! Glib thought angrily. Just my luck. Useless again.
What? a voice (this not being the little one in Throttle's head; this is Glib's annoying little pal) asked. You thought you could be anything else? You're a failure, Glib. Get used to it, you stupid little bitch.
She sat down on the bed and wished not for a way out of the tiny room that currently entrapped her, but for a drink. A few shots would usually help her keep her composure, and could keep her mother's voice away, but now, as the effects of the last pint she had knocked off petered out, there was momma, in all her bitchy glory.
Wasn't this a smooth move? Stumbling into Jewel's room looking for Vinnie so you could get him back for breaking your glasses. Then you get stuck in here with this stringy little twerp. You'll probably starve to death before he gets that doorway unjammed. Serves you right, you little bitch. You know, I never knew just how disappointed I could be in someone until you were born, Glib.
Shut up! Glib thought, helplessly. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time! This is not my fault!
You can't shut me up, you idiot. And you're wrong. This is your fault. Surely it's your fault; how can't it be? God, Glib, how is it you're so stupid? I thought you were an idiot when you got yourself pregnant before you even got yourself established, and an even bigger one for leaving your husband, but this? Ho ho, this is at the height of stupidity!
Glib looked up.
Throttle stood over her, sweaty and tense but smiling.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
Swallowing, the brown-furred mouse nodded.
"Good. I got the doorway clear. We can leave."
With that, Throttle helped Glib to her feet and showed her how he had managed to clear away some of the smaller chunks at the top of the rubble pile. "We'll have to climb up to the hole, but we should be able to squeeze through. Be careful, though, or you'll bring the whole pile down on top of us."
Throttle showed her where the best hand-holds were, then scrabbled up the pile. Glib watched as the lean young mouse squirmed through the hole. When his tail accidentally struck the top of the hole, a few small piece fell on his legs, but didn't stop him.
Glib followed suit, with just a little less ease, and followed Throttle outside, where pandemonium ruled. All the mice in the Shelter wanted to know the reason behind the tremor. Injured mice were being drug out of the bunkers as others others screamed for help, pinned under the rubble.
In light of the carnage all around him, Throttle couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief and found Modo in the crowd, and Vinnie as well.
"Bro!" Modo shouted. "What was that?"
"Damned if I know," Throttle replied. He looked up at the top of the dome, then around the camp, and concluded finally, "Whatever it was, it took place outside, though."
Vinnie asked, "Yeah, but what's got enough power to make the whole camp shake?"
It was then that Vinnie saw his mother standing behind Throttle.
"Oh, hey, Mom," he said, grinning weakly. As he said it, a single thought ran through his head, and it had absolutely nothing to do with his daily affirmation that he was the greatest Martian mouse that was ever born.
I'm dead I'm dead I'm dead I'm dead I'm dead.
He actually wasn't sure why he was dead, but something told him his mother was ready to kill him.
Suddenly, over the loudspeakers came a voice, urging everyone remain calm, that there had been a minor accident in the mine, nothing to worry about. Injured mice should report yadda yadda yadda.
"Well," Modo said, rubbing his neck, "at least it wasn't nothin' serious."
Throttle said softly, eyes somehow distant, "But my Dad is in the mine."
Vinnie and Modo looked to each other, as if to ask, "What do we do?"
Neither could answer.
For several hours, while the young Biker Mice (three-fourths of them, anyway) waited for news of Alkali, Vinnie and Modo did their best to keep Throttle's mind off the subject.
It wasn't easy. In the first place, it was like telling someone not to think of a white polar bear with blue eyes. Throttle's mind stubbornly refused to think of anything other than his stoic father. In the second place, neither one of the young mice was sure just how to entertain Throttle while they waited. The two of them were digging out every dirty joke they knew, to little avail, mainly because all the ones Vinnie knew he had learned from Throttle, and Modo had taught Throttle all of his secret store years ago, so none of the punchlines could get so much as a smile.
Still, they tried.
"And then," Vinnie said, barely able to keep from giggling, "the kid stands up and shouts, `Stop the bus so my brother Jack can get off!' "
Modo and Vinnie erupted into fits of laughter, even though Modo didn't quite get the joke. His laugh was gut-deep but his eyes were blank and puzzled.
Throttle was unimpressed. Soberly, he sighed, "Vinnie, you got it wrong. It's, `Stop the bus and let my brother Jack--"
"Did you guys hear the news?" a voice asked from behind.
The three mice spun around to see a brown-haired rat in red cameo fatigues standing behind them. He carried a sidearm on his right hip, but still, he didn't seem terribly threatening, even as rats went.
"Hey, Hsuga," Modo sighed.
Hsuga was one of the small group of rats who were stuck in the Shelter. One morning, Vinnie had made the terrible mistake of giving the young rat, who was Modo's age, a piece of fresh fruit that had been smuggled into the Shelter. Ever since, Hsuga had erroneously assumed that he was now a close, personal friend to the Biker Mice (at least he had sense enough to realize he wasn't their bro), and often sought them out when he was bored.
Thanks to Hsuga's persistance, the three young mice had found more hiding places in the Shelter than they had ever thought there could be.
"What's with the new duds?" Vinnie asked, looking the rat up and down.
Smiling, Hsuga heel-sat beside the young mice and said proudly, "The brass here hired me to be a guard! Neat, huh?"
"Yeah," Throttle said quickly. "What'd you say about news?"
"Aren't you even gonna ask to see my new gun?" the young rat asked, slightly disappointed. His ears flattened against his head as he bit his lip in frustration.
Modo shrugged and asked, "Can I see your gun?"
"Nope! Can't let civilians handle military issue weaponry!"
Throttle raised an eyebrow and asked, "Waitaminute. Now you're military? Which branch?"
"Reserves. You get alot of perks if you sign up. It's weird, though. Some mice with military experience signed up ahead of me, but I was the only one that got hired!" He paused, then added, "Come to think of it, a bunch of other rats got picked, too. Guess the administrators finally realized which was the superior species!"
Somethin' smells ripe about all this, Throttle thought to himself. He almost pressed Hsuga for more information before the young rat cried, "Oh, that's right! I didn't tell you guys what I heard!
"Well, get this--the mine caved in! Right on top of the workers!"
"No...." Throttle whispered, eyes wide as saucers.
"Mmmhmm. They've only been able to dig some two hundred out, and only fifteen or so of them were alive! At least, that's what I've heard."
"This doesn't sound good," Vinnie murmured.
Modo nodded and turned to Throttle, asking, "Think we better check it out, bro?"
Modo's' question went unanswered. Throttle was gone, already en route to the Med-Center.
The Med-Center, in Throttle's experience, was always crowded. He could not remember an occasion when it had not been, and given Rush's frequent illnesses, the young Biker Mouse was well-aquainted with the small, sand-colored brick building.
Today, though, it was packed to capacity and beyond. Small tents had been set up outside to house the excessive number of patients who needed medical expertise of the volunteers inside (most of them hadn't passed their second-year of medical school, but that's our little secret, dear heart), somewhat reminiscent of the disaster at the Shopatropolis.
Oh God, Throttle thought as he ran past the tents, oblivious to the presence of his bros several yards behind. He scanned the open flaps and prayed a silent litany of Please don't let Dad--
Suddenly, something slammed into Throttle, hard. It nearly knocked him sprawling onto his rear-end. He thought at first that a wall had sprung up from the sand until two arms wrapped hard around his shoulders.
Mom? Oh no. No. Dad's--
Just then, Throttle realized that it was not Jewel embracing, crying her mascara into little black rivers, but rather, his father (who was not wearing any eye-makeup, although he sometimes liked to use a little blush when he was feeling peckish) who had grabbed him.
"Throttle....." Alkali whispered through a sob. "God, Throttle....." He pulled in a deep breath, and bawled it out just as quickly.
"Dad?" Throttle asked, puzzled. He pulled away from his father's arms and asked, "You're okay? Oh, man, I thought you were--"
Obviously, however, despite his status among the living, Alkali was not okay. Regardless of whatever had made him cry, he had been badly hurt in the cave in. A bandage encircled his head and covered one of his eyes, where a large piece of padding had been placed. His leg was similarly bound with a huge gash across the front. Slightly more minor scratches decorated his forearms. Dust covered his hair and fur.
"Oh God," the young mouse whispered. Throttle shook his head and asked, "Dad...what....what happened?"
Swallowing hard, Alkali whispered, "Your mother...."
Before he could say anymore, Alkali collapsed into tears.
The official story was that the mine, already unstable, had simply collapsed upon itself.
Naturally, it took several years for the truth to come out.
The Plutarkians had been denied access to the mine by the Martian government, who wanted the precious ores inside for itself, and were outraged to find out Abrahams was using the minerals inside for the Martian war effort. In retaliation, and to show Abrahams that he meant business, High Chairman Camembert ordered the Martian Planetary Poo-bah of Mars, Dominic T. Stilton, to bomb the mine. No one had any time to escape. Only those closest to the exits had survived.
But no one knew that for years.
All Throttle knew was that his mother had been inside, visiting Alkali while she waited for Rush to receive several innoculations at the Med-Center. Alkali had gone to get them both coffee while Jewel waited patiently, several hundred yards inside the mine. Throttle wondered if she had ever even known what was happening. If she had even been aware of the cave-in before the life was crushed out of her. Alkali tried to, as best he could, to assure his eldest son that she had died instantly, but Throttle had his doubts, particularly upon finding out that the mice who were in the same area as Jewel had expired only after several hours of excruciating pain.
Naturally, once Alkali, who had been near the small food shop near the front of the mine, was pulled out to safety, he tried to go after her. The severity of his injuries, however, was too great. He could barely walk, let alone try and lift the huge boulders that laid on top of his lady love.
It didn't really matter, either way. He couldn't have reached her, and the end result was the same: Jewel was dead. That was that.
After all the deaths in the mine were added up and accounted for, an odd fact emerged. The total number of mice who had survived the cave-in and those were killed in it, including those considered lost in the disaster, was roughly four hundred less than the number who were supposedly employed in the mine. This coincided with the number of mice who had turned up "missing" in the Shelter. This might have been one of the early adventures of the young Biker Mice, discovering what had happened to those mice.
But even if Modo and Vinnie were interested in an adventure that stressed using logic over lasers, they never pursued the mystery.
Throttle's heart was just not in it.
He hand sunk into a depression after his mother died. Rose explained to his two younger bros that Throttle probably felt guilty about holding so much anger against her for seemingly favoring Rush over him. Now it was too late to apologize. Maybe it had something to do with Alkali's heartbreakingly slow recovery, nearly crippled from his wounds.
Whatever the reason, even after he shook off his woes, Throttle was a different mouse. He was more somber, more quiet. Throttle was less reckless, more careful, more cautious, in behavior and actions. Whereas he and Vinnie had once been nearly twins in terms of their behavior, Jewel's death was the point at which their paths diverged.
A year passed after the cave-in. A formal declaration of war was finally made against the Plutarkians, though the mice in the Shelter were not told this until almost two months after the ink had dried on the papers. In the cities, more and more mice were encouraged to move into Shelters, which were springing up willy-nilly all over Mars. The Plutarkians seemed content, however, for the time being, to steal resources away from the Martian metropolises. Hellfire was still unsafe, according to all official sources, and mice were discouraged from even thinking of going there.
Subtly, the mice who had managed the camp were replaced by rats, until only rats remained on the governing board. Some said it was because they were more willing than mice to restrict any travel out of the camp, and to enforce rules more strictly. These statements weren't entirely based on racial prejudices, either; as time wore on, the weekly recreation times outside the Shelter designed to cool the growing tensions inside the Shelter, cherished by the Biker Mice (the only times when they got a chance to ride their bikes and hone their skills) were eliminated completely.
Of course, that was not, in the eyes of Throttle, Modo, and Vinnie, the worst change had little to do with anything above.
It seemed that way when some great wit finally came up with a way to keep the children occupied. Not organized games, nor more time outside, but something as sinister and venemous as the most powerful snakebite. Worse even than their near perpetual boredom (and I said that was unconquerable!):
The dreams of all the youngest mice in the Shelter, that they would no longer be forced to attend classes because of the war, were shattered as a large new one-room building was constructed near the center of the camp and schedules were announced.
Since the school-age mice in the camp were of various ages and abilities, the grades were broken down into four general classes; kindergarten-2nd, 3rd-5th, 6th-8th, and 9-12th. They were all taught reasonably well by a variety of teachers. Much emphasis was placed on the sciences and mathematics. Some students learned Plench, the language spoken exclusively by Plutarkians (it was a dumb idea, actually; very few Plutarkians speak it, even on their home planet), or those spoken by rats, to gain an edge in the field if they were drafted.
Even with the school, and with some scheduled activities for adults, a growing feeling of restlessness was becoming more and more apparent inside the Shelter. Everyone could feel it. Something was coming to a head.
Vinnie thought it was final exams.
As luck would have it, Throttle and Modo ended up in the 9th-12th grade class in the winter of 1992. Throttle kept up easily with the work--he had been a B+ student before the War broke out and managed to keep up that average--and made an ideal tutor for Modo, who, although he had passed most of his required classes to satisfaction, was having sufficient difficulty with his chemistry class that he could not yet get his diploma.
Somehow, though, it didn't seem right to Throttle. Modo wasn't the brightest mouse on Mars--duh--but he wasn't as stupid as his grades had been reflecting lately.
I'm gonna figure this out if it kills me, Throttle thought firmly to himself. Whatever's wrong with Modo, I'm gonna fix it.
Oh, for crud's sake. I know, I know; I'm lookin' out for my bros, bein' responsible, and that's what you like.
You're catchin' on.
With that, the voice vanished.
Shaking his head, Throttle looked toward the front of the room.
It was class time again. As luck would have it, the young mice were in the middle of a laboratory experiment. It was a lab that's main purpose was learning some of the different signs of a chemical reaction. So far, solutions had changed color, there had been bright flashes of light, and other interesting sights that would quickly become dull facts once it came time to write up the lab.
"We're up to part six, people," the teacher sighed, running a hand over his thin hair (some mice, but not all, will gradually lose their hair, but it is a genetic trait that has all but disappeared in recent generations. The fur beneath remains, though). "Just heat the ammonium compound in the flame, and see if you smell anything familiar. Be careful, though; this stuff is pretty nasty."
Throttle turned to Modo and said, "Okay, big fella; let's get started. You heat, I'll sniff."
Modo nodded and held the test tube, in small brass clamps, in the bright blue flame the small methane burner. As the two mice watched, the chalky powder began to blacken.
"Here goes," Throttle said, planting his hands firmly on the black tabletop. He leaned over the mouth of the test tube and took a deep whiff.
This stuff reeks, he thought for a moment.
Suddenly, he ripped his head back in shock. His nostrils felt incredibly full, like he had just gotten a snootful of chlorinated water, but without the cool tingle of water. His nose burned like wildfire with exquisite pain.
"Bro?" Modo asked, not seeing his young companion spasming. "What's it smell like?"
Throttle said nothing, trying desperately to regain his breath and wondering if he was about to die.
"Never mind," the gray-furred mouse said, scratching something onto his copy of the lab, still unaware of Throttle's plight. "Somebody just said it's ammonia."
At that moment, Modo turned and saw his younger bro. He dropped the test tube, which shattered immediately on the floor. The older mouse put a supportive arm around Throttle and asked quickly if he could breathe.
Nodding slowly, Throttle whispered, "I--I--"
The teacher jogged over and asked, "You forgot to woft it, didn't you?"
"Ah thought we were supposed to waft the stuff," Modo said thoughtfully.
"There's your problem, then. Never waft, always woft." He told Throttle, "You'll be okay. Just go get a breath of fresh air to clear your head, and then get your tails back in here."
With that, Modo helped guide Throttle out the side door. When they were outside, the older mouse helped lean Throttle against the wall. He stood for a few moments with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath, while Modo waited patiently.
"Easy, bro. You okay?"
Nodding weakly, Throttle coughed, "This is what I--*cough cough*--get for--*cough*--following the--*cough cough*--rules of laboratory safety!"
"Eh," Modo replied, shrugging good-naturedly. "Teach said you'll be okay. Besides, we're gettin' outta class!"
Throttle was about to agreed when he looked up and noticed something odd about the wall of the dome before him.
"Big fella," he wheezed, "look!"
Modo turned his head, and saw what Throttle had.
A hole, only a few feet wide and no more than three feet tall, had been cut out of the wall, as if with some giant's cookie cutter. It was perfectly circular, and had been carved out with something that left smooth, polished edges.
The two mice walked carefully over to the hole and examined it curiously.
"How d'you suppose this got here?" Modo asked.
Throttle didn't answer but peered outside. What he saw there was shocking.
"Modo!" he shouted. "Look!"
"Ah would, but your head's in the way!"
Sighing, Throttle moved enough so that both he and Modo could look out and hissed, "Check it out!"
And Modo did.
Outside, the rolling hills that had surrounded the Shelter upon its building were no more. It was not that they had been eroded away by sand-storms, which had happened in the past (and there had been plenty of those; usually on the day the mice were scheduled to go outside for awhile). They were simply gone, replaced by huge pits dug deep into the ground, as if someone had turned the mounds inside-out.
Strange tracks traced paths in the rust-colored sands. Tiny marks no larger than baseballs made two long lines, easily twenty feet apart, that marched across the cratered countryside. The lines crisscrossed each other often.
Someone had been doing some major excavation, and the stench that hung on the air told the tale all too clearly.
"PLUTARKIANS!" the two mice shouted suddenly, drawing their heads back inside.
"Ah can't believe it!" Modo shouted. "Why didn't anybody tell us they were this close! Damn pits can't be more than twenty feet away!"
Throttle nodded and said, "We gotta tell somebody. Come on!"
"Who do we tell?" his gray-furred companion asked.
That gave Throttle pause.
"What's he gonna do? Fail the wall for havin' a hole in it?"
Chin in hand, Throttle muttered, "You got a point."
"What about the guys in charge?"
Throttle narrowed his eyes and said quietly, "No. Somethin' tells me they already know about this. That they have for a long time."
"You're sayin' they're in on this?" Modo asked, eyes wide with suprise. He was well aware that rats might be capable of such deceit, but he didn't want to believe it. Or rather, he didn't want to believe it was going on right under his nose without him noticing.
Nodding, Throttle paused for a moment to figure out what to do. He was suprised when the annoying little voice did not immediatey spring up to say something.
Hey, where are you? he asked, puzzled.
Eh? What? Oh, it's you. What do you want?
Aren't you gonna tell me I need to do? How I need to be responsible and tell Dad what I found? Or how I should carefully weigh all the possible outcomes? Or--
Cool your jets, kid. Our time is up. I'm off to annoy another little boy.
I think this time around, I'm going to be a frightening seperate personality that causes an ordinary, normal-looking little kid to go postal at his school.
You're kidding! Come on, man! I really need you!
Tough titty, as the kitty was purported to say.
That's life, kid. I can't spend all my time waitin' around for something to happen here! Crud, for two years now, I've been just sitting up here in the inner recesses of your brain, waiting for you to do something. I'm sick of it.
Besides, sooner or later, you got to think for yourself. And now that you just might have the lives of everyone in the entire camp in your hands, this seems like a good time to start.
And by the by, make your mother proud.
That stopped Throttle for a moment and ended his belly-aching immediately. He took in a deep breath and turned to Modo. The eyes in his head belonged to a leader.
"Come on, bro," he said firmly. "I think we had better check this out ourselves."
An ear-to-ear grin spread across Modo's face as he whispered, "Road trip?"
"Road trip," the younger mouse agreed, smiling broadly. "Let's grab Vinnie and scoot."
"AOWWWW!" Vinnie howled. "Wahoo! Finally! We're outta this hole!"
"Well, we won't be," Throttle hissed, "if someone's big yap gets the guards' attention!"
The three young Biker Mice decided not to tell anyone of their discovery until they were sure of what they had found. After all, maybe the hole was there for a reason. None of them could think of a reason, but the possibility still existed.
When Throttle and Modo told Vinnie of their plan, he only replied that it left more ass to kick for him. Modo told Vinnie he was nuts, and Vinnie asked why it had taken Modo so long to notice. Throttle told them both to shut up and let him explain his plan, which he did.
The young mice used all their skill and some fast talking to get Throttle and Modo's bikes out of storage. When those failed, a twenty-dollar bribe to Hsuga worked, along with the promise that they were only taking their bikes out to clean them.
"Ah still can't believe that worked!" Modo snickered, pushing his bike silently beside him to the hole. "Ah mean, everybody's itchin' to get outta this place, and they honestly think we're just gonna clean our bikes?"
"Hey," Vinnie chuckled, "the reserves ain't exactly the Proud and the Few."
"Or the Intelligent and the Thoughtful," Modo added.
"The Quick and the Dead," Vinnie suggested.
"Shhh," Throttle hissed suddenly. "We're here."
There was the hole before them, thankfully unguarded, as I didn't feel like writing a clever exchange between the Biker Mice and some guards.
"Okay," Throttle whispered. "Here's the plan. We go through the hole, we ride out to see how far away the Plutarkians are based. Then we get our tails back up here and tell everybody what we saw."
"And we get a few choice snapshots of the fish-heads to make sure everybody believes us!" Vinnie chimed, holding up what appeared to be a small camera. As it turned out, it was indeed a camera, of the instant-developing sort, not unlike a Polaroid.
Vinnie held the camera up and shouted, "Say cheese!"
"No," Throttle and Modo said simultaneously, arms crossed over their chests.
The darkness suddenly burst into light. Modo and Throttle tried to shield their eyes, but it was too little, too late.
"Thank you, Vincent," Throttle snarled, pulling a glasses case from his pocket. "Now I'm blind." He opened the case, plucked out the glasses inside, pulled on the two arms and slipped on a pair of silver mirror-shades.
Modo whistled appreciatively and said, "Hey, bro, those're pretty sharp."
"Thanks," Throttle replied, nodding. "These babies'll keep my peepers safe from any more sudden attacks from the paparazzi." He playfully nudged Vinnie in the shoulder. "How'd the picture turn out?"
Vinnie stopped waving the snapshot to make it visible a little sooner and looked at it thoughtfully. He showed it to both his bros.
"Ah think you better give up your dream of becomin' a professional photographer, bro," Modo said thoughtfully.
"HEY YOU KIDS!"
The mice turned suddenly.
A rat, brandishing a large rifle equipped with a flashlight on the barrel, stood about one hundred yards away.
Huh. I guess there was a guard. Silly me.
"How'd they spot us?" Modo shouted, pushing Lil' Hoss toward the hole as the rat cried out for assistance from his comrades.
"Must have seen the flash!" Throttle snapped, giving Vinnie a hard look. The younger mouse shrugged and shouted, "Let's move!"
Because the hole was so small, both the bikes had to go through first, followed by their riders. Vinnie, the smallest of the trio, dashed through first. Throttle leapt through next and immediately mounted his ride.
But Modo's large size gave him a special problem. He had to slip one leg through first, scoot forward, then squeeze his head and shoulders through.
Just when it seemed he would make it through scot free, one of the rats grabbed the back of Modo's vest and yanked him backward.
"BRO!" Throttle shouted.
Modo tried to pull himself forward, but the awkward position gave him no chance to get a secure foot-hold. He squirmed and struggled, but in vain.
The rats began yanking the big mouse backward, slowly dragging him back inside. Throttle jumped off his bike and grabbed one of Modo's hands, pulling forward with all his might.
But although Throttle's strength would someday be more than enough to pull Modo free, that day was still a ways in coming. Despite his valiant attempts, Throttle found both himself and his big bro sliding backward in the sand, toward the hole.
"You're dead meat, mouse!" one of the rats shouted. "Boss Awir's gonna kill you!"
Suddenly, a blue beam of light dipped under Throttle's arm and hit the hand of one of the rats tugging on Modo. He fell backward, knocking down several of his comrades. The end result was that Modo's sudden freedom. He stumbled out of the hole and landed right on top of Throttle, who he nearly crushed.
"I think I just saw my life flash before my eyes," he muttered wearily.
"What was that?" Modo asked, rising to his feet.
Vinnie smiled and blew the smoke off the small pistol in his hand.
"Hey!" Throttle shouted. "That's that gun I loaned you back on page 43!"
Modo snickered, "Ah ain't complainin'?"
"Yeah!" Vinnie chuckled. "You just got your tail saved by the baddest Martian mamma-jammer in the cosmos! You should be honored!"
"You'll be a mamma-jammer, hot-shot," Throttle corrected, gunning his engine, "as soon as you get a bike!"
"Minor technicality," the living ego replied, shrugging.
"Let's roll!" Throttle shouted.
As the mice raced around the far side of the Shelter to depart a bit closer to the front, Modo asked, "Couldn't ya come up with a better line than that?"
"Bro, for the time being, it's either, `Let's roll!' or, `Insert catch-phrase here!' Which do you like better?"
"Go with the first one," the gray-furred mouse agreed.
Vinnie glanced over his shoulder and shouted, "Hustle, bro! They're followin' us!" He squeezed off a few shots at their pursuers, but the speed at which they were travelling was making it difficult to line up a good shot.
Phing! Phing! Phing! Or whatever sound it is that lasers make! Phing!
A laser knicked the side of Modo's helmet.
"Oh Momma! Those stinkin' rats're firin' at us!"
Throttle looked over his shoulder and said, "Guess again, Big Fella! Look!"
Modo followed Throttle's finger up to the large concrete gun towers that were meant to defend the camp. He was right; the rats who had found them at the hole had already given up the chase and had gone back into the camp.
The ones who were gunning at the young Biker Mice were in the gun towers. And from prior experience, Throttle, Modo, and Vinnie knew that the ones shooting at them from those turrets were Martian mice.
"Why're they firin' at us?" Vinnie shouted, shocked. "We ain't Plutarkians!"
"Food for thought," Throttle replied quickly. He scanned the area ahead of them. To their right was a long, clear expanse of desert. To their left, a rock-strewn field that lead into the Plutarkian-dug craters, and further into a huge canyon.
"Modo! Hang a left, bro!" he shouted, pulling his bike hard in that direction.
The two young mice zipped into the rocks. It was difficult to avoid the lasers, but avoiding them and the huge rocks was proving a monumental challenge.
"Brilliant plan, bro!" Vinnie snapped, ducking a bright blue stream of light. Throttle had been forced to pull further into the open between two rocks to avoid hitting one. "This should get us killed much faster!"
Throttle ignored him and pointed to the edge of the rocks, to where the craters began.
"Bump n' Jump, bro!"
They both hit the lip of one of the craters at the same time and ramped off the tops. They were both airborne for a moment before both of them forced their bikes down hard again. The mice hit the bottom of the crater, then roared up the side, leapt again, and dropped down.
"Ah feel like ah'm on the bunny slope!" Modo quipped.
In the gun-tower, one of the mice turned to the other and said, "Dammit! I can't get a bead on them!"
In about five minutes, the Biker Mice were safely out of the craters and into the canyon's opening. They were all silent for a few moments, struck with awe at its sheer size. It must have been a thousand feet tall, and easily a hundred feet wide. The natural beauty was breath-taking.
Then Vinnie belched to hear the echo, which effectively put the kibosh on Nature Appreciation Day.
"So now what?" Modo asked as they rolled through the canyon.
Throttle was silent for a moment, then said, "Well, we can't head back to the Shelter. Damned if I know why they were shooting at us, but they were."
"No kiddin'!" Vinnie chuckled, holding up his tail, which had been singed in the storm of laser fire.
"We'll keep going. If nothing else, we'll go back to our old hometown and see what in the Hell is going on in Hellfire. It's been two years now since the Plutarkians attacked. It should be safe by now."
"Or at least as safe as downtown Detroit," Vinnie added.
The three mice sighed like schoolgirls and whispered, "Detroit."
"Someday," Modo whispered, as though thinking of a lover.
I'm gonna see that place if it's the last thing I do, Throttle told himself.
Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner, Vinnie thought to himself pleasantly. He paused. No, wait, I'm supposed to be thinking about Detroit. Whoops.
By the next morning, the young Biker Mice found themselves out of the canyon and growing ever closer to their beloved Hellfire.
"I think I got butt blisters," Vinnie muttered.
"Ya gotta develop a callus," Modo replied, stifling a yawn.
Throttle shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Trip didn't seem so long on the way down." He checked the map he kept in one of his saddle-bags and said, "Accordin' to this, the Shelter was three hundred miles North of Hellfire." After he spent twenty minutes trying to fold it back into its original shape, the young mouse gave up, wadded the map into a ball, and tossed it aside.
We might never hear of the map again if a laser hadn't suddenly zipped out of nowhere and turn it into a tiny pile of ash.
"Holy--!" Vinnie shouted. "What--?"
Suddenly, something thin, coiled and silvery dropped from the top of the canyon and landed just a few feet shy of the three mice. They were unable to stop in time and skidded directly into what appeared to be a giant, over-stretched Slinky.
"Hey!" Modo shouted, trying to back his way out of the tangles. "Ah'm stuck!"
Throttle struggled with the springs and found it impossible to free his bike.
"Wonder if this stuff walks down stairs, alone or in pairs?" Vinnie thought aloud.
He never had a chance to find out, as something cold, hard, and rather rifle-shaped, most likely a rifle, was thrust under the edge of Vinnie's helmet as a voice hissed, "Freeze."
TO BE CONTINUED!