This is a work of fiction that I am in no way making any money off of.
It is not intended to infringe on anyone else's copyright. It is however
something that I wrote and I would ask that you please ask me first before
using the reality or original characters I've created.
"There's no way your gonna beat that one, bro," Vinnie laughed
triumphantly at the near bull's eye he had just executed with his blaster.
He twirled the deadly weapon on his finger and holstered it to his thigh with as much flare and flamboyance as any one mouse could muster. He leaned back against his bike and angled his face to the sun so that its radiance could fully shine on his handsome features.
"You think not?" Modo asked as he walked around the target, seemingly unaffected by Vinnie's overflowing masculinity.
An old Sand Raider vehicle door rested on a boulder in front of the mice. On its surface was a painted on, three ring bull's eye in red. It had been a slow morning, really it had been a slow week, so the guys decided to kill some time before their shift replacements came.
"I don't know, Modo," Throttle grinned, "I think he's got ya this time, bro."
Throttle had decided to sit this game of target practice out, knowing that his modified bionic eyes and field specs gave him an unfair advantage. Besides it was more fun watching Vinnie and Modo try and out macho each other. Not much had changed over the years between the three friends. The had seen other friends, family and lovers come and go, but the three of them had always been together. Throttle glanced around him, scanning the horizon, letting his eyes go to the maximum of their range. Being the leader of this small group did have some responsibilities, like making sure the farming operations weren't attacked. While his two bros blew off a little steam.
"It's close," Modo agreed as he fingered the dime-sized hole on the inside rim of the golf ball sized, red painted center of the target.
"Close? Close?! You can't get any closer even with a laser sighted scope!"
"Live and learn, Vinnie. Live and learn."
Modo sighted his own blaster, an accessory that he hardly used but was standard Freedom Fighter issue, and took careful aim. He gently bit his tongue between his teeth, which emphasized his chipped front left tooth. He even squinted his eye behind the eye patch as if he needed to keep that eye shut to focus. He breathed in then out, turned his arm and blaster sideways and fired with his arm cannon, leaving a basketball sized hole that fit perfectly in the very center of the outer most ring.
Throttle was stunned for a moment, but then quickly dissolved into laughter that threaten to knock him from his bike. It wasn't often that Modo could surprise him, but when he did it was good. Vinnie stood there equally stunned, and for the first time all day he was rendered speechless. The white mouse didn't stay that way long when he saw Modo's smug smile as he blew wisps of smoke from the tip of the canon.
"That's doesn't count!" Vinnie wailed.
"Who says? I hit the center of the target, didn't I?"
"He's got ya there, bro," Throttle said after he got his laughter under control, which was extremely hard given Vinnie's astonished expression.
"Your suppose to hit the bull's eye, not obliterate it!" Vinnie was glaring at both of his friends, Modo for getting the better of him and Throttle for taking Modo's side. He did have to admit, however, it was a good trick.
"Home to Perimeter Three Home to Perimeter Three any of you punks listening."
"Yeah, we hear ya, Stoke," Throttle responded into the microphone in his helmet, trying to keep the chuckle out of his voice. It was good to see Vinnie in good spirits again.
"Hey, Stoke! They let you out of that shuffle board class early today?" Vinnie quipped, much to his own amusement, hoping to shift his embarrassment to the older mouse.
"Ha, Ha Keep it up punk and you'll be patrolling the Perimeter by yourself while your bros get to see some action."
"What's up Stoker?" Modo asked glaring at Vinnie to keep his muzzle shut, while the shorter mouse shrugged innocently.
"Not sure, big guy. All I could gather from Carbine was that something big is going down inside Plutarkian space," Stoker told them as Vinnie and Modo mounted their bikes, "Carbine wants you guys back here ASAP."
"We're on our way," Throttle said just before he cut communications and started his bike.
When the Biker Mice arrived at the home base that the Freedom Fighters shared with the Military they were directed to proceed directly to the 'War Room' by one of the gate guards. While walking through the halls of the stuffy military complex, the mice couldn't help but feel sorry for their army counterparts that were forced to wear military clothes, look the military look, talk the military talk, and generally become little drones/clones. They knew that the military was important on some basic level, but it just wasn't their style, being a Freedom Fighter, however, was.
It had been almost two years since the Plutarkians had been driven physically from Mars, but their influence could still be felt. Every so often, the stink fishes would launch a major attack, usually through their continued contact with the Sand Raiders, just to keep the Martians on the defensive. The Freedom Fighters were still an organization that was separate from the military and they handled the perimeter skirmishes with the Sand Raiders, while the military used all of their resources to keep tabs on the Plutarkians.
It was frustrating to the guys sometimes how the war seemed to be dragging on. The constant patrolling and the frequent 'special assignments' (which were nothing more than hit-and-run attacks on Plutarkian space stations) had kept them busy over the last two years. Like all Freedom Fighters they had leave to take, but it wasn't very long. Two weeks every four months was barely enough time to see their families and relax a bit before returning.
In fact, they hadn't even spoken to Charley for almost the entire two years since they'd came home. They had left their communication equipment with Charley so that they could contact her when they had the chance, but only five months after they left, the United States had launched a new communications satellite that made Earth to Mars transmissions impossible. Stoker had been pretty sure that Charley could still hear them, but with the equipment she had currently, there was no way she could talk to them. So every four months on the first day of the month they called, hoping that she could at least hear them even if they couldn't hear her. Vinnie took the complete separation from their human friend the hardest.
Throttle and Modo had realized early on that Vinnie's interest in Charley was more than a simple crush, but it didn't hit Vinnie until the day that they had left. Just before they took-off for home, Vinnie had given Charley a present. He told her not to open it until they left. Before she had a chance to react he had given her a quick kiss and retreated to the spaceship. When they found out that they couldn't contact Charley anymore, Vinnie had fallen apart with equal parts anger and worry.
It was the most miserable Modo and Throttle had ever seen their bro. One minute Vinnie was melancholy, looking up at the sky towards earth and the next he was ranting a raving about every little thing. Modo had known better than any of them what it was like to lose someone close to you, and he convinced them to give Vinnie his head. They thought that it would pass. That their bro would learn to just accept what he couldn't change. At least they thought that until it started to affect Vinnie's performance. He was missing shots and even worse endangering his comrades with his mood swings.
Finally Stoker had to inform Vinnie that if he didn't come out of his funk that he would be removed from active duty. The older mouse did have some pity for Vinnie, however, and got him in touch with someone that could help him with his problem. Every leave that they had Vinnie used a week's worth of it working for a Valian trader that would exchange four weeks of labor for a round trip ticket to Earth. Vinnie had finally worked off the four weeks and on his next leave he was going to Earth. It had been really hard keeping Vinnie's feet on the ground and his mind on his work during the last three months, and his boisterous ego had re-inflated to it previous planetary size.
Unknown to Vinnie was the fact that both Throttle and Modo had been working on their own leaves to pay for the new transmitter they planned to give Charley. They missed their human friend terribly. They had known her for such a short amount of time, but it was like they had been friends forever. She fit so perfectly in their small group. Satin, Modo's late fiancee, always felt that she was intruding on their friendship, and Carbine Carbine seemed to make a point of not fitting in. Charley was never like that. She had become a part of their lives, a member of their family. Their only consolation in not being with her was that she was safe, on Earth, away from this war.
On the way over to the base, the three mice had spent the long drive discussing what could have possibly happened to make Carbine ask for outside help. Of course, Vinnie was of the opinion that it was because the three of them (but especially himself) were the 'baddest motorjammers' in the galaxy. Modo had a less ego driven idea that the military needed to do something that might become messy. Throttle kept his opinion to himself, but it ran parallel to Modo's. The military needed someone that was good and expendable, and since Carbine was their friend they wanted her to ask them. Throttle didn't have a very high opinion of the military, but kept his mouth shut most of the time. The Biker Mice entered the War Room and the guard at the door barely gave them a glance as they walked passed.
"Everyone can relax. The heroes have arrived," Vinnie proclaimed, arms open wide, basking in the admiration that was solely self-directed.
"Shut-up and sit down, Vincent," Carbine hissed, "Were trying to get our signal back."
Vinnie pouted only slightly, forgiving Carbine her transgression and plopped himself down in the first available chair. Throttle and Modo looked at each other and nodded, agreeing silently that they should sit on either side of their white furred friend to keep him in line for the rest of the meeting. After they took their seats, Carbine answered the question that was utmost on their minds.
"The reason I asked you guys here is because the situation we have is of the greatest importance and can not fail under ANY circumstances."
"See, I told ya," Vinnie preened.
"Be quite, Vincent," Throttle ordered. "Go on Carbine."
"Thank you, Throttle. Less than twelve hours ago we received a message piggy backed on a Plutarkian military channel we have been secretly monitoring for several months. It simply said, 'We're coming home. Listen for instructions, General Hawk'."
"Not THE General Hawk?" Throttle gasped.
"General Hawk?" Vinnie gapped in amazement, "You mean the General Hawk that almost beat back the entire Plutarkian army with a single platoon?"
"I thought he died in that fight?" Modo questioned, unbelieving.
"So did we," Carbine agreed, "Until we got his second transmission about six hours ago. The information he gave us could have only come from the real General Hawk. He had secret military information that only he and the Commander and Chief knew."
"No offense, Carbine," Throttle interjected, "But couldn't that information have been gathered by Plutarkian intelligence and this whole thing be some kind of trap?"
Carbine sighed and rubbed the ache behind her eyes, "Yes, that is entirely possible and that is why the military will not send support to the location requested, but I know that this is not a trap!"
Throttle was taken back by Carbine's emotional out burst. He hadn't seen her this animated in a long time. The war had taken a grate toll on his former lover. It had aged her greatly in many ways. They had broken up because she felt that she could not be a general in the Martian Army and continue a relationship with him. `Conflict of interest', she had said. Just another thing he had lost thanks to the Plutarkians. One day, when this war was over, he hoped that they could get back together, but right now the only thing in Carbine's life was the war.
"I grew up with Hawk. He was like my older brother. The person that contacted us knew things and only Hawk and I know. Besides that, he had personal information from twenty other military personal that were known to have been captured by the Plutarkians, and everything that he said has been verified by their families."
"I know that this is the real thing and this IS General Hawk. He has a plan to escape from a Plutarkian prison camp, along with over 200 other POWs and the damn military won't even consider helping him!" Carbine yelled as she slammed her fist down on the table.
"Calm down, Carbine," Throttle soothed, not knowing how to react to female mouse's unusual outburst. The military was Carbine's life. To hear her talk so negatively about it was almost unnerving.
"Throttle, this is too important! 200 of our comrades, families, friends are waiting and counting on us to help. Some of them have been prisoners for 10 years. Some even have had children. I won't turn my back on them just because someone high up thinks it's an unsound risk I can't So what I'm asking is will you help me go behind the military's back and rescue them?"
The three biker mice looked at each other, communicating silently before any of them spoke.
"It would seem that the benefits out weight the risks to me. Count me in," Throttle responded.
"If there is even a slight chance we can get even one prisoner back I think we should take it," Modo added.
"I'm always lookin' for a way to show-up the military. Count me in Sweetheart!" replied happily as he leaned back in his chair and plopped his boots on the table.
"Thank you," Carbine said with a smile before turning on Vinnie, "If you don't remove your boots from my table I will take one of those flares of yours and"
"Carbine! We have reestablished the signal. General Hawk is waiting," one of communications tech said, interrupting Carbine's threat.
"Put it though the main sound. Hawk are you there?" Carbine questioned.
"Yeah, I'm here Half-mite. Did you get those fancy bike jockeys?" a deep voice asked over a static filled line.
"Half-mite?" Throttle grinned at Carbine. The idea that anyone was that familiar with his ex to give such a diminutive nickname was almost beyond belief.
"If you ever repeat that, you're a dead mouse," she snapped back giving him a glare he knew all too well, "Yes, they're here, but I haven't had a chance to detail the mission to them."
"So I take it that they have agreed to do it."
"Yeah, we'll do it. Just give us a place and a time and a few Plutarkian rears to kick," Vinnie told the voice, grinning his trademark smirk.
"That must be the 'Vinnie' I was told about. Is he going to be able to keep that attitude and ego in check? I won't jeopardize this mission because of a reckless loose cannon," Hawk said disapprovingly.
Vinnie was about to get out of his chair and say a few choice words to the General, but Modo's restraining hand and a negative shake of his head stopped the white mouse.
"Don't worry about Vinnie, sir. When it comes down to the real thing, Vinnie is as good as they come," Throttle said, giving the sightless terminal the disarming smile that had won over more than his fair share of female hearts.
"That's what Angel said too, but it's just hard for me to believe that she has that much faith in the three of you with a Wild Card like Vincent Van Wham in the mix."
"Who's Angel?" Modo asked.
"She's the one that is making all of this possible. She has been planing and preparing for this day for almost a year now."
"So what IS the plan?" Throttle asked, going completely into 'leader mode'.
"In two hours a small Plutarkian ship is coming to take me to a maximum security prison on Plutark. Three hours after we leave we will enter an asteroid field of dense magnetic rock that will render their communications useless. At that time the three of you will intercept the ship and take it over. After that is done we will use that ship to bluff our way onto the transport ship that is being sent to take all of the POWs from Torren to another holding location. We will take over that ship, pick up the prisoners and return to Mars."
"Seems like an easy enough plan, but it sounds like the timing is a little too good to be true. How is it that you are being transported separately from the others? And why are they moving ALL of the POWs at once? What makes you so sure we CAN bluff our way onto the ship?" Throttle asked, feeling his suspicions rise. Anything that sounded too good to be true, usually was.
"Like I told you, Angel has been planing this for a long time now. She has a direct connection to the Plutarkian military computer system. Over the course of a year she has used a series of false memos, emails, reports and communications to make the Plutarkians believe that it would be more profitable to move their POWs to a location closer to the heart of the Empire. When the government okayed the idea she found out which of the transport cruisers they were going to use in the relocation and planted a computer virus in the on board computer so that it will be dead in space waiting for us to 'rescue' it. Once we are on board, I will have the anti-virus and the transport will be fully functional again. Since the entire prisoner transfer will be computerized, Angel is going to provide any help we might need once we land at the prison and she will cover our escape. As for why I'm being taken separately, Angel updated my computer file from 'important' to 'extremely dangerous and important'."
"Sounds like this Angel has thought of everything," Throttle said sounding only a little more trusting, it did sound like a well thought out plan.
"Angel is in a class all her own. She's special," General said with admiration clearly in his voice.
"How do you know she can be trusted?" Vinnie asked, not willing to believe that one person could make this whole thing possible, they'd have to be almost as good as he was, "I mean, all we have is her say-so that all of this going to happen, right?"
A snarling growl could be heard over the link, "Listen here, punk! You have no idea what Angel has gone through for us! She could have given into the Plutarkians and lived a pain-free life, but she choose to fight them. Through her we've been able to survive to this day. She has used her connection to order us more food and even medicines occasionally. We have lived this long only because everyday she fights what they're doing to her so that she can help us escape and it's killing her!" the General's voice took on a mocking sneer. "But, if you must have a more selfish reason for Angel to help us, fine I'll give you one. She doesn't want her son living his life only knowing the walls of a prison. Her only request out of us is to take her son to Mars and raise him to be free. Is that a good enough reason for you, Mr. Van Wham?"
Vinnie was taken back by the General's out burst, he had never meant to offend, "I didn't meanI mean, I didn't realize that she"
"Well, maybe next time you'll use that rock between your ears before you speak. Angel has put herself on the line for us and everyone here trusts her with our lives and she trusts us with her son. She has proven herself time and time again, OK?"
"Yeah," was all Vinnie could say. He felt about two feet tall
"Back to the topic at hand. Where is this asteroid belt you mentioned?" Throttle asked, taking the spotlight off of Vinnie with his boot up to the kneecap in his mouth.
"Carbine has the coordinates and the times. She already has that end covered. I have to break link now. Angel is having trouble masking our signal. There will be no farther contact from this point on. May the Goddess protect you, and may you be as good as Angel claims you to be. Hawk, out."
The line went to pure static, and everyone in the room was silent for a moment realizing the enormous amount of responsibility that had been rested upon their shoulders.
"Well if you guys are going to make it to the rendezvous on time I better show you to the ship your going to be taking," Carbine told them, breaking the silence.
"I thought all military ships were locked up tighter than the scales on a stink fish," Modo said as he came out of his seat to follow Carbine out the door.
"Not the ones that are destroyed in freak gas line explosions," Carbine told them, with a grin they hadn't seen in a long time.
"What freak explosion? I didn't know there had been an explosion," Throttle said narrowing his eyes behind his field specs.
"There hasn't. At least, not yet."
"Are you sure you want to do this, Carbine?" Throttle asked, "This could end your Military career."
"Despite what you might think of me and the military, I have never lost sight of what is truly important saving lives. I just believe that the military is a better way of defending our people, but right now they have lost sight of what is important."
"So, what do you think about this Angel character?" Modo asked the female General.
"Hawk trusts her completely, and I trust his judgment."
"This Angel chick sure seems to know a lot about us, bros. She even knows how good I am," Vinnie said preening his ego.
"Maybe it's your personal publicist." Modo suggested.
"Maybe she's a Freedom Fighter and she knows you from there," Carbine added.
"Maybe," Throttle said, "But I intend to find out."
Five hours later after leaving Mars under cover of a very well planned explosion that `destroyed' only one ship leaving the hanger intact, the biker mice waited for the Plutarkian ship to arrive within the asteroid belt.
"So anyone up for some Poker, Checkers, Parcheesi, Chess, Tic-Tac-Toe, Tiddley Winks, Spin-the-Bottle anything?" Vinnie asked, practically crawling up the walls of the small Martian spacecraft.
"Vinnie, please. Try and calm down," Throttle said absently as he scanned the sensor controls for any sign of the other ship.
"Yeah, Vinnie," Modo said, forcing his friend back down in his seat, "It is not like they're late, bro. Just chill."
"I can't chill. I've been stuck inside this 10 by 20 box for five hours with nothing to do, but watch the stars go by. I'm going out of my mind!"
"That's not very hard to do," Throttle said with a grin, not looking up from the controls.
"HaHa bro. Funnny," Vinnie said sulking, "If I had a penny for every time I heard that one"
"Incoming," Throttle interrupted, "Plutarkian Star class ship, right where Hawk said it would be."
"Yesss," Vinnie whooped, "Finally some action."
"Well, if this beacon doesn't work like Hawk's Angel said it would the only action we'll be doing is running. This ship has no offensive capabilities," Throttle informed his crew of two.
"WHAT!!" Modo and Vinnie exclaimed together.
"Well, according to the plan this beacon is calibrated to go right through their shield and temporally stun the entire ship. We'll have 60 seconds to dock to their ship and get inside before they regain control."
"Didn't it occur to you that, I don't know, maybe, we would need that kind of information SOONER!" Vinnie complained.
"Well, if you two had have paid attention during the debriefing, instead of arm wrestling, maybe you would have already known," Throttle shot back, and then he grinned, "What's a matter, Vincent? Scared?"
"Me? Scared?! Pleaze! Let's get this show on the road!"
The take over went without a hitch. If you don't count the fact that it took them 61 seconds to dock with the Plutarkian vessel and the automatic defenses came on line. Or that Vinnie inadvertently disengaged the air lock and lost the Martian shuttle (which imploded upon the loss of pressure), or that there were ten Plutarkian guards instead of the six they were expecting. All in all, the whole thing went as planed sort of.
They had the Plutarkian ship, which was good. They lost their ship, which was not good. They had taken the ship with almost no injury to themselves, that was good. They wasted more than half of their weaponry doing it, that was not good. The Plutarkian ship had an autopilot, which was good. Modo shot it during the fight, which was not good. Mission analysis: success!
"All right, bros. Let's get down to the cellblock and get ol' General Hawk out of the pokey and put these fine gentlemen behind bars," Throttle suggested, pushing one of the Plutarkians in front of him.
"You do realize that you rodents will never get away with this! When we don't show up with our prisoner the army will come looking for us and you vermin are dead."
Modo pushed the annoying Plutarkian out into the prison holding area as soon as the doors to the lift opened, causing the fish to stumble and shut up.
"He does have a point, bro," Vinnie whispered to Throttle, "How are we going to keep the stink fishes from knowing we took this ship?"
"Already taken care of, Mr. Van Wham," a familiar voice in the last cell said.
On the way to the cell, which was against the back wall, Modo, Vinnie and Throttle secured their prisoners. When they made it to the last cell they finally saw in person the legend they had only read about.
Behind the bars, stood a mouse not much taller than Throttle with dark gray fur that shone like graphite. He wasn't very muscular, but it was pretty obvious that at one time he had been. The years of being a prisoner had taken its toll. The patternless, yellow jumpsuit he wore was a size too small showing his ribs and it was strained at the seams.
General Hawk's arms were shackled behind his back, once at his wrists and then again at his elbows. Around his neck was a thick metal collar that was anchored to the wall and both of his feet were bare and shackled to the floor. Over his muzzle was a mask, presumably to keep him from biting. His left ear was almost gone, leaving only a quarter moon attached to his skull and from where they stood he had no tail at all.
"Are you boys going to stare all day or are you going to get me out of this."
"Sorry, sir," Throttle apologized as he opened the cell door and approached.
"No problem. I'm sure I must look a sight. I think Angel underestimated how cowardly these finheads are. She wasn't counting on an increase in security. The plan was for me to help you fellas take these fish faces out during the blackout," Hawk explained as Throttle removed his restraints.
"No need to worry. It was nothing this studly mouse couldn't handle," Vinnie assured him, puffing out his chest and studying his nails.
"You know. I don't think I'm going to like you very much, punk," Hawk said glaring at the ego driven mouse.
"You learn to love him," Throttle laughed.
"Or ignore him," Modo said grinning.
"You must, or you'd kill him."
Vinnie glared at the older mouse deciding then and there that he wasn't going to like the General either. It was acceptable and even amusing to the white mouse that Stoker said stuff like that, but this guy didn't have any right to judge him. What did high and mighty, General Hawk know about Vincent Van Wham anyway?
"Are we gonna get going, or what?" Vinnie demanded letting his tail show his irritation.
"The punk's right. We're wasting time," Hawk agreed, taking the led to the lift, "We need to feed the coordinates to the auto pilot and get to the transport ship, before anyone on board has a chance to find an anti-virus."
General Hawk turned to the three bikers and saw their guilty faces, "What happened?"
"Well, ya see" Throttle started.
"It was an accident, really" Vinnie atoned.
"I shot the auto pilot" Modo said gravely, a guilty blush could just be seen coming to his ears at his confession.
"I guess we'll have to use Angel's emergency plan," Hawk sighed.
The guys didn't ask and the General didn't volunteer any information, so they silently followed Hawk to the control room. General Hawk approached the main panel and sat down in the captain's chair. He quickly opened a com link and then turned the sound down immediately when a high pitched shrill came over the line, making all four mice cringe in pain. Hawk scanned the frequencies briefly and then settled on one and began to type.
-Looking for an angel to fly with.- he wrote. The letters appearing bright green against black on the display.
It was several minutes before a reply, -Angels usually fly alone-
-Sometimes they fly with hawks- , the General responded.
-Only when they are alone. What has happened?-
General Hawk gave a sigh of relief and answered, -Auto pilot damaged. Need directions.-
-Moment Vinnie?- the screen asked and Hawk laughed.
-No. The big guy.-
-Is everyone all right?-
-Directions following. Time frame condensed. Window compromised. Target must be attained in 2.4 hours for success. Get your tails in gear boys!-
-We will Angel. Hawk, out.-
"Well, Angel sent us the directions and we will have to be at maximum burn to make it there on time. So, pick a seat and buckle in," General Hawk warned mere seconds before he gunned the engine.
For a good hour the four of them flew in silence. Hawk was concentrating on making it out of the asteroid belt and the guys didn't want to distract him. Finally, when the ship was clear and General Hawk visibly relaxed in his seat, Throttle opened up the conversation.
"How long have you known Angel."
Hawk turned in his seat and fixed the younger mouse with a look. Feeling comfortable that Throttle was nothing more than curious, he relaxed and returned to flying the ship.
"We knew that about a year and a half ago that someone was intervening on our behalf. First the quality of the food got better and then the rations started to increase, but until a year ago we didn't know who or how it was happening. We just said that it was our Guardian Angel watching over us. Then Ivory, she's was a civilian that was captured during the first of the raids, was taken from the Cells and put into the Plutarkian's 'special' testing program along with five other females." The stick in Hawk's hands groaned in protest of being gripped too tightly but he continued on, not noticing.
"They were taken as part of a breeding/mutation program. Well, as it turned out Angel was also part of this program as a test subject even though she was already being used for another experiment at the time. In the end, all of the children died accept for Angel's. Angel and Ivory were the only females that survived the testing. Angel's baby was born on the same day that Ivory miscarried hers so they switched. The Plutarkians believed that their experiment was a failure and dropped the project. Because Ivory was to be the control they never looked twice at the boy and let him and Ivory return to the Cells. Ivory is the only one that has ever seen Angel in person. No one knows who she really is for sure."
"If Angel is a prisoner, how is she able to do all the things she does," Modo asked, being drawn in by the story.
"Actually, we can thank the fishes for that. The Plutarkians wanted to see if they could take a living brain and download or at least access it with a computer. The idea being that if they wanted information out of someone that all they had to do was to plug them up to the computer and take it. Angel has unlimited access to the computer systems because of it."
"The Plutarkians have no idea what she's doing," Vinnie asked.
"Not as of yet. They believe that she is in a coma and that all of her higher brain functions are under their control. They are only keeping her body alive until they believe they have all of her brain downloaded. Angel knew quite a bit about computers and Plutarkian circuitry, and is able to function inside their computer without them knowing."
General Hawk gave a long sigh and Throttle could see his hands shake on the controls, "They are going to terminate her project at the end of this month. Too much cost, and not enough benefit. She's has been holding it off for a while, trying to make it long enough to see this escape through to the end. The farther the computer goes into her brain the more she looses herself. In a couple of months she won't be able to tell where the computer ends and where she begins. If it hadn't have been for her son I don't think she could have held out this long."
"You make it sound like we're leaving her behind," Throttle said quietly.
"Yeah. She won't have it any other way. She won't even tell us where her body is being kept inside the compound so that we won't be tempted to go after her. Her condition is irreversible," Hawk paused, rubbing his forearm across his eyes, "Well, are you boys ready? The transport is up ahead."
The Biker Mice nodded their heads and readied themselves for battle. Hawk's somber mood bled over to all of them. A Freedom Fighter never left anyone behind. It was an unspoken rule, but now they were expected to knowingly leave someone behind to die. It didn't sit well with any of them, not one little bit.
Two hours after encountering the Plutarkian transport ship they took it over with ease. They locked all the Plutarkians on the prison ship and set it adrift in space. When the Biker Mice and General Hawk arrived at Torren they landed in the prison's hanger bay behind a XenoX mercenary cruise vessel. Throttle held his breath and prayed that the XenoX would not cause any complications to their plans.
The XenoX were a race of mercenaries. Hiring themselves out to the highest bidder. They were known to shift loyalties if the price was right. Throttle watched the XenoX disembarked from their ship and were escorted into the complex. All the guys were tense. Every nerve in their Freedom Fighter trained bodies told them to go in fighting, take the enemy by surprise. This time they stood quietly in the control room giving the authorization codes Angel had given Hawk to the port master.
Several long moments passed before the Plutarkian on duty gave them the go ahead to start loading prisoners. The boys gave a sigh of relief and finished putting on their borrowed uniforms. To make the whole exchange look more convincing, Hawk had decided to send Throttle and Vinnie out in full Plutarkian battle gear to 'oversee' the transfer of the prisoners. Of course Vinnie had a few choice things to say about having to wear the malodorous uniform, but both Throttle and the General told him to shut up and bare it.
Throttle and Vinnie walked out to the ramp that was at the back of the ship, their features completely concealed within the suits, and watched their people come from inside the compound in groups of twenty to the ship. The sight of them angered and sicken them. Many of the POWs limped or were impaired in some way so that walking on their own was quite a chore. Those that were stronger were carrying the old, lame and very young. There seemed to be equal numbers of male and female prisoners, but the sheer number infants and young children that were being carried out was astounding. The children ranged in age from infants to toddlers. All the prisoners hung their heads low even the children, their antenna drooping over their foreheads, but as they passed they would glance their eyes up. Vinnie and Throttle could see the defiance and hope that burned inside these seemingly passive people and their hearts swelled with pride.
Not wanting to seem overly anxious to leave, the loading proceeded slowly. A few of the prisoners pretended to lag back so that either Vinnie or Throttle had to push them along. Throttle kept one eye on the Plutarkian control room that over looked the hanger bay and the other on the well-armed XenoX troops. The mercenaries didn't seem interested with the Martians at all, and that suited Throttle just fine.
During the transfer, one of the groups of twenty prisoners acted differently than the rest, and it caught Throttle's attention. Instead of coming out in a line like the others, this band was grouped together. There were eighteen bodies wrapped around and shielding one female and the child she held.
The woman was rather unremarkable. Her fur was dirty, but underneath the grime it was a light cream color. She never looked up so Throttle had no idea what color her eyes were. She was probably 5'5", maybe 5'7" if she wasn't slouching, but what really caught Throttle's full attention was the child.
It appeared to be a young boy, of only a year. His fur was uncommonly short and lustrous of a soft, dove gray color. The antenna on top of his head weren't red like most Martians, but a pale pink and stood strait up. At one point, Throttle could have sworn that he saw them move. The boy's ears were on the small size, but not overly so for a child that age, but it was his eyes that truly made him stand out. They were large, clear and bright green. It wasn't a common color, but not unheard of. Unlike all of the other prisoners, he was not afraid to look around, but when his eyes rested on Throttle the boy stopped.
The child stared at him, and for a moment Throttle could have sworn that the boy could see through the helmet and see his face. As the group walked by, the boy didn't take his eyes off of Throttle until Vinnie was in view. The little boy switched his attention to Vinnie and gave the white mouse the same scrutiny that he had given Throttle. Vinnie didn't seem to notice until the group was almost into the transport ship, then suddenly he turned to stare at the boy as the little one stared back over the female's shoulder. Vinnie looked at Throttle, and Throttle shrugged.
The rest of the loading was uneventful and two hours after they started all of the prisoners were loaded. Some of Throttle's anxiety was relieved when he saw the XenoX load a large box on wheels onto their ship and leave the prison moon. `One obstacle out of their way', he thought.
Vinnie and Throttle entered the ship behind the last group and closed the cargo doors. The energy in the ship was almost tangible. When they took their helmets off, Throttle and Vinnie were greeted with many hard pats on the back and words of thanks. Throttle could see Vinnie soaking it up behind the blush he was sporting.
Throttle just shook his head and smiled. Vinnie likes to play the cool one, but give him any genuine admiration and he was a puddle of jelly. Hawk gave them thumbs up and them forwarded the departure code to the flight controller. Soon they were cleared for take off. Throttle made his way though the crowd toward the loudly talking group at the head of the ship. It didn't take him long to find General Hawk in a heated discussion with ten other mice. Most of them Throttle recognized vaguely from being Freedom Fighters. They had been command leaders before their captures.
"You can argue all you want General, but were going and that is final," one of the mice informed Hawk.
"You would jeopardize this entire mission and the lives of over 200 for just one!" The General roared back.
"The Cells took a vote and the decision was unanimous," another leader said.
Throttle walked up to Modo who had been apparently watching the whole time; Vinnie wasn't far behind him.
"What's goin' on, bro?"
"The Cell leaders have decided that they aren't going to leave Angel behind. The ten of them want to go back so that they can rescue her after this ship is passed Plutarkian territory," Modo told Throttle quietly as the group continued to argue.
"Hey, there's that strange kid again," Vinnie said point over to their right.
"Yeah, he's been standing their the whole time just staring at me," Modo whispered, "He's starting to give me the willies."
As soon as the words were out of his mouth the little boy started to make his way over to them. He was surprisingly sure on his feet for as young as he appeared to be, and did not stumble once. He stopped in front of them and continued to stare at them his head slightly tilted to one side.
"Chance! Chance!" a woman called from somewhere within the crowd of bodies.
The boy turned his head slightly toward the voice, but did not look away. Throttle got down on one knee before the boy and his green eyes focused solely on him.
"Is your name Chance?" Throttle asked, looking at the child over the rim of his specks.
Chance nodded slightly, but continued to stare at Throttle as if he was trying to figure something out.
"I think your mother is calling for you, Chance," Throttle told the boy, indicating the direction the calls had come from.
"Not momma," Chance told the tan mouse with certainty, shaking his head, making his pink antenna wobble.
Just then the cream colored mouse that had carried Change in earlier came through the crowd and snatched Chance up. She hugged the little boy until Throttle was sure he would brake.
"Don't ever go off like that again, Chance! You worried me to death!"
"'Vory!" the boy protested pushing away from the woman's shoulder.
"Don't 'Ivory' me young man," Ivory scolded the boy, "Thank you so much for"
She stopped dead when she looked at Throttle for the first time. Her pale brown eyes widen in surprise and she took several steps back. She quickly looked around and noticed Modo and Vinnie standing behind Throttle. Startled by the look of panic in the woman's face, Throttle slowly stood and backed away, trying to be as none threatening as possible.
"I'm sorry if we frightened you, Ma'am."
"Ivory, is there a problem?" Hawk asked as he approached the group, having noticed Ivory's distress.
"No, no, nothing," she assured the General, "I was startled is all. It's been a long time since I've seen anyone from outside the Cells."
"That's understandable," Hawk said with a grin, "Ivory I'd like you to met Throttle, Modo and Vinnie. Boys I'd like you to meet Ivory and Chance, Angel's son."
Throttle instantly remembered what Hawk had said about the breeding/mutation experiments that the Plutarkians had been performing that had resulted in Chance's birth and attributed his oddness to it. Now that the boy was closer, Throttle could see that the child's fur was indeed very short and looked more like velvet than real fur. His antennas were bare of any hair whatsoever making them that pink color and his ears naturally drooped slightly.
"I think I better get back with the others," Ivory said as she backed-up, ready to flee.
"NO!," Chance wailed, as he began fighting Ivory's hold on him.
Ivory continued to try and leave but Chance fought harder. Kicking his feet and pulling at a lump under Ivory's shirt.
"Chance! Stop that," Hawk said to the boy as he continued to yell.
"NO! NO! NO! Momma! Momma!," Chance chanted over and over.
"He's just tired," Ivory trying to explain.
"NO!," Chance wailed one last time as the object he had been pulling at fell from under Ivory's shirt clattered to the floor.
Throttle followed the glint of gold as it fell to the floor and then seemed to magically slide across the floor to Vinnie's feet. The white mouse bent to pick it up and stopped. By now Chance's actions had drawn a crowd and everyone was looking to see what had dropped. Vinnie fell into a crouch over the object and then slowly picked it up. He turned it over and over in his hands.
"Where did you get this?" he asked so quietly that it was barely heard. No one answered.
"WHERE DID YOU GET THIS?!" he demanded, coming at Ivory like he was going to hit her.
"Momma," Chance answered.
Vinnie looked at the boy and his eyes went wide as if seeing him for the first time. All that fury in his gaze melted away, replaced by something that could only be described as fear.
"No," Vinnie said taking a step back.
"She made me promise not to tell," Ivory said shakily.
"No," Vinnie repeated.
"She didn't want anyone to know. She didn't want you to try anything stupid," Ivory continued.
"She didn't want your last memory of her to be like she is now."
"SHUT UP! You're lying!" Vinnie accused, coming at Ivory again.
Throttle and Modo caught each of his arms and hauled him back.
"What's a matter with you, bro?" Modo asked.
"Yeah, Vinnie. What's up?" Throttle asked.
Vinnie shook his arms from his bro's hands, but made no farther attempts to go after Ivory.
"Before we left Earth, I gave this to Charley," Vinnie said, holding the locket out for Throttle to see.
Throttle took the broken necklace from his friend and turned it over in his hand, not willing to believe what Vinnie was saying. On the back of the locket was an inscription, 'To the Best Sweetheart a Biker Ever Had'. Throttle carefully opened the two halves and on one side was a miniature picture of Modo, Vinnie, Charley and himself posing in front of the Last Chance Garage. On the other half was another picture of the three of them sneaking up on Charley as she took a nap on the couch. It had been the morning of her birthday.
"It can't be," Modo said disbelieving.
"Not Charley-girl," Throttle whispered holding the locket in a death grip.
"You know Angel?" Hawk asked astonished.
"Her name is Charlene Davidson. We meet her back on Earth," Vinnie said anger clear in his voice, "And that is where she should be right now! How did she get here?" Vinnie demanded of Ivory.
"I don't know for sure. All I know is that she was captured on Earth after sabotaging something of the Plutarkians. By the time she came here they had already started replacing her nervous system with a computer matrix web. Now she is unable to function without a computer link up. When she arrived they put her into the breeding/mutation program because they wanted to see if they could combine human and Marian DNA."
"Why didn't you ever tell us Angel was human?" the General asked the cream colored mouse.
"Why? Would it of mattered?!" Ivory bit angrily back. "Human or Martian, Angel gave up everything to help us. I guess she didn't want it known because she was scared that we would treat Chance differently."
"This changes nothing!" one of the Cell leaders roared. "No matter who Angel is we're going back after her. We don't abandon our own!"
The crowd of Martians all cheered the leader's words and murmurs of agreement rumbled through the ship. Throttle looked around at his people. They had been starved, tortured, and put through horrible atrocities. They finally had their freedom and they were willing to risk it all for one. He saw mothers holding their children tightly, fear and determination shining from their dirty faces.
"I guess that means we're going back," General Hawk said gravely. "Twenty blasters against an armed Plutarkian regiment. Doesn't seem like much."
"Your wrong General," Vinnie said looking out over the crowd, "We have 200 free citizens and three of the baddest motorjammers this Galaxy has ever seen!"
The crowd roared again, but was quickly drowned out by the deafening groan of the ship. The transport cruiser jerked violently, sending many bodies flying. Almost as soon as the first disturbance was over a second took its place, more forceful than the previous one. Frighten children started to cry and all the adults started to talk at once. The chaos continued until General Hawk's voice over the intercom system quieted them.
"Control! What the hell was that?"
"I don't know sir, but there was a transmission from the moon just before it happened," a young tech responded.
"Well, play it son."
There was a crackle over the com as the tech searched and then accessed the signal. A high pitched emergency alarm sounded first making the Martians hold their ears against the offensive noise. After the alarm quieted, a familiar voice with an unfamiliar metallic, computerized ring spoke.
"Prisoners have escaped. Security has been preached and atomic reactor sabotaged. Critical mass in five four three two one"
"That was the end of the transmission sir," the tech in the control booth said when the signal went to static.
"Charley," Vinnie whispered as he slipped to the floor.
"Helm, give me a visual of the moon on the cargo terminal," General Hawk demanded as pushed a stunned Modo out of his way.
The twenty-inch screen told the story. On the lee of the moon where the prison once stood was a mile deep crater. Debris from the blast hung in orbit around the lifeless rock making it hard to see the surface clearly, but one thing was crystal. The prison and everything and everyone in it were gone.
"By the Goddess," someone in the crowd said and was echoed by many others.
"She said that it would be better this way," Ivory said, placing her hand on Throttle's arm. "This way she's no longer in pain."
"She will be remembered for her sacrifice, by all of us, for as long as we live. As long as our children have children her name will be spoken," one of the Cell leaders said bowing his head as if in prayer.
Throttle looked over at Vinnie where he sat on the floor and to his gray furred bro that openly wept the tears he kept hidden behind his specks and realized that it wouldn't be enough. The gold locket bit painfully into his palm in his bruising grip. It would never be enough.
This is a work of fiction that I am in no way making
any money off of. It is not intended to infringe on anyone else's copyright.
It is however something that I wrote and I would ask that you please ask
me first before using the reality or original characters I've created.
Things had been going rather well for Mars over the last few years. The
Plutarkians had been driven back so far that it was almost like they didn't
even exist. Life was slowly starting to return to some semblance of normality.
Unfortunately reconstruction had been slow. Since the Plutarkians had devastated
all of Mars' natural resources, the Martian Mice had to find other ways
Before the war, Mars had been a thriving planet that had been nearly self-sufficient. Interstellar commerce was completely for luxury items. Exotic foods, custom alloys, jewels and various other non-essentials were the only trade outside the planet. Now that the Plutarkians had left their planet in ruin, the Martian Mice, for the first time in their history, had to look outside for the bare necessities like soil, water and grain.
Of course since they had very little in the way of trade, other than physical labor, they had to be creative. They had to find something to sell, but what could you sell when you had nothing but miles upon miles of sand, rock and mountains? You rent the space to wealthy investors that want to use it for trill racing, of course!
It all got started when a couple of Freedom Fighters challenged a few military mice to a race. A grain trader made a side bet on the race's outcome with one of the Freedom Fighters and lost. The trader wanted a rematch with a racer of his own as the challenger. The competition was fierce, but no matter whom the trader got to race the same mouse won time and time again. It became such an obsession to the trader to beat this mouse that when the Martian's duties called him away, the trader offered to pay an un-godly amount of money for the mouse to continue racing. By this time many other Martians and other Off-worlders were into the races.
The Martian government, seeing potential in this, acted quickly and offered to rent out land for the high pace, high grossing sport to the Off-world investors that also saw money making on the horizon. Within a few months Mars went from having no resources to have a very profitable commodity that was putting Mars back on its feet. Of course Vincent Van Wham took the bows for single handedly saving the planet. After all he WAS the prolific racer that had gotten this whole thing started (even if it was Throttle's bets that had infuriated the trader into coming back again and again.) But even though Vinnie was the hero of the century it was cutting no ice with Chance Davidson.
Chance glared at his white furred uncle in front of him. His arms crossed
and his hips set in such a way that reminded anyone that knew her of his
mother. Of course he resembled his mother very little physically except
for his green eyes. Chance was a seven-year-old ball of fire. He was taller
than most boys his age, but since his ears drooped a little it was hard
to tell. His light, dove gray fur was short and velvet soft causing him
no end of embarrassment at school. (Boys were supposed to be cool. Not soft
and cuddly!) His shorter than regulation tail whipped around behind him,
showing his displeasure, if his set and determined face didn't.
Chance had never seen his mother, except in pictures, and his father was a nameless Martian test subject, but in a strange way he had known his mother. Chance was born with the ability to feel other's emotions, and to a limited degree, read minds. It was a direct result of crossing human latent psychic potential with Martian touch telepathy. At least that was what the doctors said.
Chance's earliest memories were of how much his mother loved him, even though she had never seen him. His mother had suffered unimaginable atrocities, but through it all one thought, one need, kept her going, fighting. She had to free her son.
Right now Chance wasn't felling very free.
"Do I have to go to school?" the young mouse hybrid complained.
"Yes," all three of his adopted uncles said in unison.
Chance continued to glare at the figure in front of him, refusing to lift his arms so that Vinnie could pull his red tank top over his head. Vinnie was having none of this. A meaningful look that indicated that Vinnie was NOT playing around this time caused Chance to lift his arms for his uncle.
"Why?" Chance asked. The question muffled though the fabric of his shirt.
Throttle answered for all of them from underneath Chance's bed. "School is a very impotent part of life." Roughly translated from adult to child meant, `I had to suffer, so do you.'
"Chance? Where ARE your shoes?" Throttle asked, biting off a curse when he hit his head coming out from under the bed.
Chance gave his other uncle a long-suffering look. The little boy pointed to a shelf that was impossible for even Throttle to reach without help, acting like it was the most logical place on Mars for a seven year old to put his shoes. Throttle hung his head in defeat and dragged Chance's desk chair over so that he could retrieve the footwear.
"Do I have to go today? It's race day!" Chance continued to complain letting, Throttle put his black tennis shoes that matched his black jeans on for him.
"Chance, please. No more arguing," Modo said looking around the room. "Where are your books?"
Chance pointed to the closet and tried one more time to explain his situation, "But, it's race day!"
"Chance!" all three Biker Mice exclaimed.
"What exactly is going on in here?" Ivory said from the doorway in her oversized pink robe.
"We are trying to get Chance ready for school before he's late, and this time it's not my fault," Vinnie explained.
"But, it's race day," Ivory said giving them a strange look.
"Is there an echo in here?" Modo said from within the closet, coming out with Chance's books putting them in the bookbag Throttle held open for him.
"Listen Sweetheart. I like racing as much as the next mouse, but school is school and Chance has to go. Or Throttle will have my hide." He whispered the last part for Ivory's ears only.
"All right. If you say so, but he'll be the only one there. They cancelled school on account of the race," Ivory told them, leaving the room.
The three adult male mice looked at Chance looked at each other and then looked at Chance again.
"Get `im. bros," Throttle said dropping the bookbag in his hands onto Chance's unmade bed.
Chance, seeing the gleam of revenge in his uncles' eyes, quickly left the room, grinning the whole time. The Biker Mice tried to follow but they soon found out that three 6 feet and over muscular mice could NOT fit through the same door at the same time.
"I tried to tell ya," Chance yelled back as he ran hell bend for leather down the hall. He blew by Ivory calling back to his guardian as he left the house.
"See ya later, Ivory!"
"Be careful and have a good time," she called back, then gave a shriek as she was bowled over.
"Excuse us, Ivory."
Chance couldn't help but laugh out loud. His uncles running into Ivory had gained him a led, but he was going to need some help if he was going to get away. He bolted out the door and ran straight for the bikes. A very small, almost unobservable, spark passed between his pink antenna when he called out to them.
"Escape plan: Split Alpha," Chance called out and the three Martian bikes roared to life.
Vinnie and Throttle's bikes tore off in opposite directions leaving a very detectable trail of dust in their wake. Modo's bike waited for Chance to hop on and then sped off in a third direction. As soon as they were out of sight of the house, the bike stopped and let its rider get off before continuing on. Chance ran to the nearest house and walked through the front door.
"Hey, Mrs. Nors," he said as he went through her kitchen to the back door, "Bye, Mrs. Nors," Chance said as he left.
Mrs. Nors only grinned and caught the back door before it slammed shut and watched the young mouse half-breed vault over the short back wall and into the yard behind her. Chance entered that house in a similar manner as her own. Before long Mrs. Rav, that lived behind her, opened her back door and made her way to the wall the separated them.
"There he goes again," Mrs. Nors said shaking her head.
"Have you ever seen a child with so much life and charisma?" Mrs. Rav asked, adjusting the belt of her robe.
Mrs. Nors snorted, but grinned. "Fire and Magic dangerous combination. Take my advice. Warn Chass about him, before she loses her heart."
Mrs. Rav looked back to her home where her five-year-old daughter, Chass, still slept, "I have a few more years left before the hormones kick in, but I'll kept your advice in mind. Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday they were only babies."
"Time moves quick when life is good and crawls when times are bad."
The two women looked at each other. Without saying another word they knew what the other was thinking. Torren, the Plutarkian prison moon. Both women had spent a large part of their lives on that rock. She, along with Mrs. Rav, was apart of the Liberation of Torren over five years ago. They had shared a cell together for seven years. Chance and Ivory had been in the same cell also. The two of them had a hand in raising the little one during the early years. After the prisoners were free many members of the same cells settled together in communities, having become close during their imprisonment.
Mrs. Nors had been captured while serving in the military. Her husband had died in the war along with her daughter that had followed in her footsteps. Sometimes she would wonder why she kept going, then she would remember her granddaughter and realize she would live though a thousand more Torrens just to see that little girl grow up. Mrs. Rav was a free citizen taken by the Plutarkians as a show of strength. She had met her husband on the prison moon. They buried their first two children together in that place. Now she had a beautiful little girl and another child on the way. Both women owed a lot to a woman they had never met. A human that they were told gave Chance his spark of life.
Charlene Davidson was one of the many casualties of the Martian/Plutarkian War. An ordinary person that was made extraordinary because she died for a world that was not her own, for a race that was not hers. She so loved three representatives of this red planet, which had come to be closer to her then brothers, that she gave her life without a second thought. It was a sacrifice that none of them had forgotten.
"Well, if we're going to make it to the track before the race starts we better get going now," Mrs. Nors said.
In the distance, the two ladies could hear a mock battle cry of `Let's Rock n' Ride' as three powerful engines roared in unison. The boys were after Chance again.
"You think they'll catch him this time?" Mrs. Rav asked.
"Probably not, but it will be fun to watch."
"You're going to the race?"
"Are you kidding?! Of course! It's going to be the first time Vincent hasn't entered the Galactic 5000. Who knows who will win." Mrs. Nors said.
"Why didn't Vinnie enter this time?"
"Didn't you hear?" At the negative shake of Mrs. Rav's head Mrs. Nors leaned over the fence and explained. "Remember last week when they had the time trials? Well, Chance somehow caught a human virus and was desperately sick. Vincent wouldn't leave his side and missed the trials and couldn't enter."
"It's hard to believe sometimes how much that little boy has matured those three."
Mrs. Nors snorted, "Their four kids. Three big ones and one small one. Did you hear about the food fight they started in the mess hall on base. I heard that Carbine banded them for life?"
The two friends gossiped the morning away and ended up missing the start of the race. Chance however was making sure he didn't. He took back streets and back yards and all the shortcuts. He was most of the way there when Stoker found him. Chance flagged down the older mouse and asked for a ride. Stoker, always looking for a way to annoy Chance's uncles, agreed. In no time, Chance was in his season seat, a mountain of hot dogs in the seat beside him and a case of rootbeer under his feet, all placed on Vinnie's tab by Stoker, of course. Chance grabbed the dog on top and munched, knowing that if he wanted any at all that he needed to get his before his uncles arrived.
"I wonder who's racin'?" Chance asked out loud, to no one in particular, and was very surprised when someone answered.
"If you wish to know the names of the entrants you may have my program. I have already entered all of their names, according to skill and speed, into my pad and no longer need it."
Chance looked around him, trying to see who was talking to him. When he saw no one he was puzzled. It wasn't until he heard the person say `down here' that he looked into the row below him and realized why he hadn't immediately seen the speaker before.
It was a blue skinned, Tulsan female. She couldn't have been more than four feet tall, average for a Tulsan, which made her just little taller than Chance. Her golden hair was cut short into a bob that all Tulsans wore, but her eyes were sea foam green that indicated she was female.
The young mouse wasn't use to looking down at an adult. Chance took the offered program and tried really hard not to stare like Modo taught him. Tulsans, very rarely left their own system, and as far as Chance knew they never attended anything that was remotely frivolous.
"You're a fan?" Chance asked surprised.
"Hardly," the Tulsan said, sounding very put out by being there. "My charge has entered. I am here as her road crew."
"Really? What's her number?" Chance asked, very curious to see a Tulsan on a motorcycle.
Chance scanned down the list of competitors. He recognized many names, including Rimfire's, he was number seven. The driver's name listed under eleven was Lucifer and for the pit crew, which for a cycle race was usually four people, was one name, Kaals.
Through the massive view screen provided for the crowd, Chance saw the racer with the number eleven sewn on to the back of a black race suit had a deep metallic red helmet on. The female that stood there was far too tall to be a Tulsan.
"Lucifer is a strange name," Chance remarked casually.
"It's a misprint. Her motorcycle is named Lucifer," Kaals said, placing what appeared to be a hearing aid into her right ear.
Chance was about to ask another question when someone grabbed him from behind.
"I think somebody needs to be reminded that reprogramming his uncles' bikes is not allowed."
Chance could tell by Throttle's voice that he wasn't really mad, plus his empathic sense told him that the tan mouse was even a little proud of him and his resourcefulness. He also knew that pulling that kind of stunt too often would NOT be tolerated, but today his uncles were going to let it slide.
Throttle hoisted Chance over his shoulder so that the boy hung down his back like a bat. From his upside-down position, Chance could do little to defend himself from Modo when the tall mouse began to tickle him, all he could do was shriek with laughter and beg for mercy.
"Hey, little bro. Where'd the grub come from?" Vinnie asked, already stuffing two in his mouth.
"Stoker got `em. He said you'd pay for it later."
Vinnie started to choke and Modo pounded him on the back a little harder than was necessary. This prompted Vinnie to elbow the gray mouse in the gut. Modo retaliated by putting Vinnie in a headlock and rubbing his knuckles roughly between his friend's antenna. Vinnie was about to pull Modo's feet out from under him with his tail when someone from behind them yelled out.
"Down in front! The race's about to start!"
"Sorry," both mice apologized.
Throttle hauled Chance back over his shoulder. The two of them came nose to nose and whispered `Kids' to each other and laughed, sharing a private joke. All four of them took their seats and divided the hot dogs and rootbeer between them. The mice were playfully ragging on each other, joking and laughing. Kaals had had enough.
"Would you please desist from that juvenile behavior. I am unable to hear," Kaals said, indicating the earpiece.
"Kaals' friend is in the race. She's number eleven," Chance told his uncles.
"Is that so?" Vinnie said leaning over the seat and looking over the Tulsan's shoulder. "You do realize that if I was in the race she wouldn't have a chance of winning." Vinnie informed Kaals with a smirk.
"This is true. Your skill along with the speed and design of your bike make the odds of you losing remote under quotidian circumstances, however with enough time and planning even you can be defeated," Kaals said as she worked on the computer pad in her hand.
"Was I just insulted?" Vinnie asked his bros, to which both of them shrugged.
"Hello race fans, and welcome to the fourth annual Galactic 5000!" the commentator said on the loud speakers over the roar of the crowd.
"This year we have 25 contestants going for the Grand Prize of 500,000 ruez," the crowd roared again. The commentator continued to talk about the history of the race and other commentator type stuff that was extremely boring to the guys.
"So, what made Rimfire decide to race this year, Modo," Throttle asked.
"Well, you know Rimfire. Normally he wouldn't care much about this kind of stuff, but ever since Karie got pregnant he's been thinkin' about the future and stuff like that. He wants the prize money so that he can get a place at the base of Mt. Olympus."
Modo and Throttle continued to talk about Rimfire, Karie and the baby, while Vinnie and Chance were having a chat of their own.
"Your not mad at me that you couldn't be in the race, are ya Vinnie?" Chance asked the white mouse, feeling guilty that his uncle missed his opportunity to be in the race because of him.
"Heck, no. I'll have more fun up here watchin' you watch the race then actually being in it," Vinnie said to Chance, and then leaned into him to whisper, "But when we go home why don't we race Modo and Throttle, just to make sure they remember who the best is."
Chance grinned and whispered `OK' to his uncle. Vinnie was Chance's `fun' uncle. It was like having an older friend instead of an adult around when he was with Vinnie. If Chance was in trouble it was usually with Vinnie. Throttle was his `serious' uncle. Throttle always made sure his homework and chores were done and that he was obedient. Modo was a cross between the two of them. He was fun most of the time, but serious when he needed to be. Chance loved his uncles equally and even though Ivory was his guardian he always thought of them as his true family.
Soon the excitement in the stands led to chanting cheers and waves. Down below the racers were getting ready, making last minute adjustments and changes. Each racer had a pit crew hovering around them, helping them with anything they needed, except for number eleven. She stood alone at her place on the starting line, even her bike was nowhere to be seen.
"I think you better tell your friend to hurry up and get her bike, unless she plans on running the race," Vinnie told the Tulsan as she continuously typed on her computer pad.
"Do not concern yourself. We are well prepared."
"The race is starting in thirty seconds. You'll never get ready in time," Chance said, confused by the calm he felt from Kaals.
"You will see."
"Now what you all have been waiting for Gentlemen and Ladies start your engines!"
The deafening roar of the crowd was swallowed by the thunder of 24 high-octane engines coming to life. The signal on the starting line started counting down and the riders on the line were holding their bikes in check, making sure that their front tires did not cross the solid white line before the go light because that would stop the race. The clock counted down ten nine eight and still rider eleven stood at the line with no bike.
Throttle, Modo, Vinnie and Chance hung on the edge of their seats. They knew it was impossible for Kaals friend to get her ride in time, but the Tulsan was calmly siting, typing on her computer that displayed its own countdown. The four captivated mice look up at the huge display that was for the crowd to watch the race and stared at number eleven. She was crouched at the starting line looking all the world like she was going to run the race.
Chance happened to look at Kaals just as she turned to look in the opposite direction of the race. The seven-year-old squinted to see what had the Tulsan's attention and saw a huge cloud of dust that contained a riderless motorcycle speeding towards the starting line. The instant the countdown hit `one' rider eleven flipped backwards and by the time it hit `zero' she was on her bike crossing the starting line at top speed.
Because the big screen showed the backs of the racers it wasn't until Kaals' friend was on her bike and speeding away from the line that anyone else in the crowd, or at the start, knew what was happening. The crowd gasped and fell silent and the twenty-four other racers hesitated before taking off. The announcer stuttered, not knowing what to say. All eyes turned to the race clock, wondering if number eleven's unique start had been legal. Since it kept counting up the start was legitimate.
"You have got to show me how she did that!" Vinnie exclaimed leaning over Kaals' shoulder, much more interested in the race now.
"In a surprise move, Number Eleven has vaulted into a substantial led. I can tell you one-thing folks, this race is going to be much more interesting once everyone learns that move. If eleven can keep this pace up, she'll have a good chance of losing her closest competition, Rimfire, the race's favorite."
Kaals knew the announcer was right. An earth 2000 FLSTS Heritage Springer was no match in speed or maneuverability with a Martian Hawkwing, even with all of the interactive modifications. The supped up, black cherry red bike with a Martian AI operating system, named Lucifer by its master, needed to take every turn in the canyon raceway perfectly. On her palm computer, Kaals monitored the race and advised the best that she could.
"Turn one is a forty-five degree exit. Top speed with hard banking is recommended," Kaals said speaking into the comm link of the computer.
Number eleven made the turn perfectly losing no ground or momentum, however her closest rival, Rimfire took the turn very sharp and narrowly escaped hitting the canyon wall. Kaals quickly recalculated Rimfire's course and to her dismay found that in five more turns he will have made up the ground between them. Sure enough on the sixth turn he was nipping at number eleven's heels.
"Take turn six tightly. Force racer seven to take a wider turn," Kaals said to her partner as she typed furiously on her computer.
Number eleven started to take the turn as instructed, but Kaals had under estimated Rimfire's desire to win. The Martian mouse also tried to take the turn sharply and with his front tire being so close to Lucifer's back one the two rubbed with disastrous results. Lucifer, being a much heavier bike, wavered only slightly with the contact. Rimfire's Hawkwing however careened wildly and the young racer was unable to regain control.
"Rimfire!" Modo called out when he realized the trouble his nephew was in.
Rimfire tumbled several times with his bike, ending up underneath it in the middle of the track around the corner of the narrow blind turn six. The crowd gasped and the commentator asked for quiet so that the road crews could warn their people of the crash. The fans complied, but they had seen enough races and enough crashes to know that there was no way for Rimfire to get out of the way in time. The turn was too narrow for all the other riders to miss him and he was dazed and confused from the accident. Rimfire didn't know his up from his down.
"Is Rimfire gonna be OK, Vinnie?" Chance asked, clearly on the edge of tears.
Before he could answer Kaals stood up backward in her seat and got in his face.
"What is Rimfire's communications frequency?!" the Tulsan demanded.
Throttle was the only one thinking clearly enough to answer. "Standard Freedom Fighter prefix 4141548.2. But how will that"
Kaals held up her hand for silence and spoke loud and commandingly into the microphone in the hand held computer. "Rimfire. Hold out your left hand. No, your other left!"
In the view screen they watched Rimfire hold out his left hand. In a streak of deep red, Lucifer approach the downed rider. Kaals friend had turned around the instant she knew the other rider was down, she held out her own left hand and snagged the Martian. With a powerful yank Rimfire was free of his bike and on the other bike behind his rescuer. As the two of them raced away from the accident, a grappling claw launched from under Lucifer's seat and the Hawkwing was pulled out of the way just as the other racers turned the corner.
"Yeah!" Modo yelled, picking up Kaals and swinging her in a circle.
"Please extricate yourself from my person," Kaals said, trying to desperately push away from the excitedly relieved mouse.
"She said put her down, bro," Thottle translated for his friend.
"Oh! Sorry, ma'am."
"Quite all right. Just do not let it happen again. I" Kaals paused, holding her four fingered hand to her pointed ear that held the earphone.
"The last turn is an 180 degree turn with high banking walls" Kaals said a puzzled look on her flat blueface.
The one corner of the viewing screen displayed the two riders that had dropped out of the running. The woman in the black racing suit pulled Rimfire's helmet from his head. She checked behind his ear for injuries. Her right gloved hand came away green with blood. She unzipped the front of her suit and pulled out a scarf. She wrapped Rimfire's wound with it.
"That plan of action is ill advised. None of the models I have constructed show more than a seven- percent success rate. I do not recommend"
Racer eleven vaulted back on her bike and spun tires speeding after the led pack.
"Yes, it is physically possible, but the chance of recovery is less than Do not tell me to shut up. I am your keeper. I can not Do not take that tone with me and besides I do not believe it is even possible for THAT to fit THERE."
"What's goin' on?" Vinnie asked, pulling at the distressed females robed shoulder.
"She wishes to win the race and has devised a course of action that will more than likely result in grave injury. Please excuse me. I have to be at the finish line to pick up the pieces."
Kaals jumped down out of her seat and disappeared into the sea of spectators. The four mice looked at each other and shrugged.
"What do ya think she's gonna do?" Modo asked, picking Chance up so he could see over the other fans that had stood up to view the end of the race.
"If it were me I'd slingshot out of that last turn using the walls to create extra thrust with centrifugal force," Vinnie said as his bros stared at him stunned.
"She wouldn't do that, would she?" Thottle said watching the view screen, which at the moment was centered on the led pack. "I mean your bike is light enough to do that kind of thing. She'll crash for sure as heavy as her bike is."
The camera centered itself on the front five of the led pack. It followed them down the straightaway and into the last turn. About midway through the turn a figure could be seen on the canyon wall. Sure enough it was number eleven. At first no one but Vinnie, Modo, Throttle and Chance noticed, but slowly the crowd began to point at the screen and whisper excitedly to themselves.
At the very end of the turn, where the canyon wall finally went flat, racer eleven was catapulted off the wall and jetted past the other racers that had to slow down in the turn. She was over the finish line before her front tire even hit the ground just inches before the other racers. When Lucifer did touch ground Throttle's prediction proved true. Lucifer was too heavy and when its back tire hit the ground it rebounded causing the front tire to hit the track savagely. The front and back tires seesawed back and forth a few times before the bike turned sideways and skidded 100 yards to a stop.
The crowd choked silent as the race's winner laid unmoving a pace away from her bike. Lucifer quickly righted itself and stood vigil at its master's side. The other racers were not far behind and were the first on the scene, but Lucifer refused to let anyone near the fallen rider. Soon the paramedics arrived and tried to assist entrant number eleven, but Lucifer would not be moved. The ERTs tried to come at the bike and rider from all directions but Lucifer retaliated by encircling itself and its rider with a burning gel that it shot from a nozzle attached to its handlebars.
"Come on. Let's see if we can help," Throttle said as he led the way through the crowd.
Chance rode on Modo's shoulders and watched the big screen while his uncles walked. Lucifer continued to circle its master and showed more and more aggravation as time wore on. Because the racetrack was laid out so that the start and the finish were at the stands it wasn't a long walk to the accident. Unfortunately the crush of bodies trying to see slowed the mice progress. As they forced their way through the crowd Chance watched from his high perch as Kaals made her way to her friend.
Lucifer didn't seem any happier to see Kaals than it did the others, but at least it started to calm down a bit. Kaals grabbed an extinguisher from one of the stunned Emergency Response Team members and cleared a small opening for herself in the ring of fire Lucifer had made. Lucifer still half-heartedly tried to stop Kaals, but the Tulsan just pushed the bike away. Without Lucifer to supply the gel the fire ring burned itself out as Kaals knelt next to her friend. The paramedics and rescue crews would not approach the fallen rider because of Lucifer, but the Biker Mice had no such problems.
"Do ya need some help ma'am?" Modo asked, putting Chance down on the ground.
"No, I am capable of fixing her on my own, thank you," said while typing on her key pad beside the injured female.
The mice gave each other strange looks. Kaals sure had a funny way of talking about her friend and her bedside manner left much to be desired. Kaals continued to type away on her computer and had not touched the fallen biker once.
"Are you sure you don't need any help taking her to the hospital?" Throttle asked thinking that maybe the Tulsan had misunderstood what they were talking about.
Suddenly the woman in black before them started to jurk rhythmically and making gasping sounds that could be heard from inside her deep red helmet.
"She can't breath! You need to take her helmet off," Vinnie said as he grasped the helmet firmly in his hands and pulled.
"NO!" Kaals yelled but it was too late, the damage had been done.
Vinnie put the helmet aside and was surprised to see that the female had rather long hair that was braided and stuffed into her helmet. The length of it fell out across his crouched lap and the dark auburn red of it seemed awfully familiar somehow. The racer had a knit mask on to keep the sweat out of her eyes like most furless riders did. Vinnie tried to remove that too, but Kaals forcibly pushed him aside.
"That is quite enough help. You could have broken her spinal cord if she had of had a neck injury. If you don't mind, please leave."
Chance stared at the blue skinned woman. Kaals was visibly upset, but the emotions he felt from her were nervous at best, like she had been caught doing something she shouldn't. There was no real fear for her partner's safety or anger at Vinnie for what he had done, but Kaals was worried that she was going to be found out no her friend was going to be found out.
While Modo, Vinnie, Throttle and Kaals argued about the downed racer's care, Chance inched his way over without them noticing. Something made him want to see beyond the mask. He picked up the end of her braid and fingered the loose ends. He had seen that color before, in a picture. Chance's curiosity got the better of him and he slowly rolled up the mask over number eleven's face.
Her skin was smooth and pale and seemed to be dotted with glitter along its surface. Chance looked closer and realized that the shimmering specs were not glitter but monofilament metal wires that came to the surface of her skin from underneath. Her lips had a higher concentration of the metal flecks and had an overall silvery-pink sheen to them. At the nape of her neck was a solid metal plate with a covered access port. The metal plate that started at her hairline thinned and followed her spine down into her clothing. Chance gently turned the woman's head towards him so he could see her face better and was shocked to realize he knew her.
Around his neck he wore a locket. His uncle Vinnie had given it to him on his seventh birthday. The white mouse had felt that Chance was old enough to take care of it now. There was an inscription on the back, `To the Best Sweetheart a Biker Ever Had'. Chance pulled the locket from under his shirt. He slipped his fingernail in-between the locket's halves and separated them. He opened it and compared the smiling face in the photo with the person before him. They were the same.
Chance's small squeak caught Modo's ear and the tall mouse turned to see what was going on. He looked first at Chance's tear streaked, excited face and then to the woman lying beside him. His heart stopped and his mind froze. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. He tapped Throttle's shoulder, but the tan mouse wouldn't stop his argument with Kaals to turn around. Modo yanked on his bro's tail to get his attention.
"Ouch, Modo! What on Mars is so important that you have to pull my tail out?" Throttle demanded.
"Charlie?" Vinnie whispered having found out about the human on his own.
Chance winced when he felt the panic in Kaals' heart at their discovery. The azure skin of the Tulsan paled to gray and her eyes brightened to a teal color. She quickly forced her way passed the guys and pushed Chance from his mother's body.
"Lucifer! Non-lethal escape."
The bike roared to life. It spun its tires throwing sand and dirt in the air causing a thick dust cloud that it colored red with smoke from its tail pipe. Chance could hear his uncles coughing and swearing as they lost sight of Kaals, Charlie and Lucifer. Since he was closer to his mother than they were he was able to just make out Kaals at Charlie's side. She took a plug from her pad computer and jacked into the port he had seen in the back of his mother's neck. Charlie sat bolt upright in her place. She grabbed Kaals around the waist and hopped on the bike. Within seconds all of them were gone.
"Chance!" Modo yelled into the smoke and dirt, unable to see past the end of his nose.
"I'm over here Modo!" Chance called back, heading in the direction of his uncle's voice.
"Where did they go?!" Vinnie asked Throttle desperately.
"I don't know, but I'm gonna make sure they can't get far."
Throttle went to the nearest Emergency Transport vehicle and with out asking took the radio. He quickly tuned the frequency and shouted over the line.
"For Cheese sakes, Throttle. What's your problem? You can't be screaming over the"
"Later, Carbine. I need you to make sure that no ships leave Mars."
"You heard me. I don't want any ships leaving until we can search them."
"Throttle are you crazy! I can't just close down the ports. It would be mass chaos. What are you looking for?"
"It's Charlie. She's here on Mars and we've got to make sure she doesn't leave."
The line went silent for a moment. It was pretty clear that Carbine was having trouble believing what Throttle was telling her.
"Charlene? Throttle she's dead. You said so yourself," replied quietly hoping to not upset her friend.
"I know Carbine, but it's her. I saw her with my own eyes. You can't let any ships leave!"
"Throttle I can't do that. I can't shut down the shipping lanes because you think you've seen someone that's been dead five years."
"Carbine, I'm telling you it's her. You've got to help us," Throttle was starting to sound desperate and he was. Charlie was back from the dead and it seemed that just as they found her she was taken from them again.
"I can make a delay. I'll tell them that we're having trouble with the flight computer or something, but I don't think I can hold them off more than twenty minutes. I'm sorry that's all I can do."
"Then it's got to be enough."
Throttle disconnected the line and quickly re-modulated the frequency. Within seconds Stoker answered on the other line.
"Yeah, what do you want?"
"Stoke, I need you to get as many Freedom Fighters as you can to help search the ports."
"Just listen. Charlie's here. She's with a Tulsan female, about four feet tall, and she's hurt. She's may be riding a dark red Earth bike, I'm not sure of the make and model. I"
"Whoa! Hold up there a minute. Charlie but she's"
"Yes, I know. She's dead, but I'm telling you she's alive and here on Mars. Carbine's going to hold all ships for as long as she can. I need you to search the all transports and private vessels. I have a feeling that they're going to try and jump planet."
"All right Throttle. I'll do it, but I expect a full account."
"You'll get it. Throttle, out."
Throttle turned to his bros. Chance was hanging on tightly to Modo's thigh, trying very hard not to look at scared as he was. Throttle knew that Chance was picking up their emotions and it was frightening him. Modo just patted the boy on the back, giving as much comfort as he could.
"Come on, Vinnie. We're going to the spaceport. Modo, you take Chance home and then met us there."
"I want to come," Chance said, pulling himself away from Modo.
Modo knelt down before the young half-breed and took his small shoulders in his hands. "I know ya' do little bro, but right now we don't know what's going on and it might be too dangerous."
"All right, but don't hurt Kaals. She's scared."
"What do you mean `scared'?" Throttle asked.
"She's scared for Momma, and for you."
"Well, she better be scared OF us, because if she's done something to Charlie"
"Stand down Vincent. Until we find out exactly what's going on we can't pass judgment," Modo said, hoisting Chance into his arms.
As the other two mice walked away Vinnie knelt were Charlie had lain just minutes ago. The ground was damp. He touched it with his fingertips and found that they were smeared red with blood.
End chapter two