Pre-reading babble: This story has no conflict, no violence and absolutely no plot. There's not even any sex. Really it's nothing more than a fluffy piece of litter-ature. But I've written it anyway, and it can be safely read by anyone under the age of 5. Although Stoker does say "fragging sabresquids." Enjoy!
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. I've borrowed them from the popular "Biker Mice from Mars" cartoon. The creators of that show have copyright. Oh hang on, Trench, Deakin and Stone are mine. There.
Fire in the Snow
The CB radio at the Last Chance Garage crackled to life just as the guys were about to leave for the night.
"Stoker calling the Biker mice...Stoker calling the Biker Mice...come on Bro's, where are you?"
"STOKER!" yelled the guys as they rushed to the radio. Throttle got there first and flicked the switch.
"Bro, bro, where are ya?"
"What, you can't see me?" chuckled Stoker, his rich voiced deadened by the tinny speakers.
Charlie leaned out a window, scanning the night sky.
"There he is!" she cried, spotting the ship coming in the distance. "He's headed straight here. Oh no!" Charlie dived for the radio.
"Who's piloting?" she asked urgently.
"What?" said Stoker, sounding puzzled.
"I said 'who's the pilot', Stoker. It's not you or Rimfire, is it?" Charlie asked urgently.
"No, it's Carbine," said Stoker blankly.
Throttle grinned to himself, as Modo elbowed him in the ribs and Vinnie made "hubba hubba" noises behind him.
"Well, thank God for that" said Charlie, relieved.
On the ship, Stoker looked at Rimfire.
"What was that all about?" said Rimfire.
"Beats me, kid."
Five minutes later, Charlie and the guys watched as the old Stalker ship made a perfect landing in the shell of an abandoned building behind the garage. The ship's hull pinged and hissed as it cooled in the night air. Charlie shivered. "They picked a great night for it." She smiled at the guys, actually wearing jackets for once, a concession to the sub-zero temperatures. She looked up at the dark, cloudy skies. "Snow for sure tomorrow," she said, pulling her jacket closer.
"Fantastic," said Modo, putting a warm arm around her and pulling her out of the wind. She smiled gratefully up at him.
The door to the ship whooshed open, and Carbine jumped down neatly, straight into Throttle's waiting embrace. Stoker and Rimfire appeared at the open doorway behind them.
"Fragging sabresquids!" yelped Stoker. "I didn't know you kids got cold weather down here." Rimfire hunched his shoulders against the icy wind.
"Come on Stoke, get going, I'm freezing my tail off here!"
"I'd like to kid, but the lovebirds ain't done yet."
"Geez, I've seen vacuum cleaners with less suction."
"Get a move on you two, come on..."
Throttle surfaced and glared at Stoker and Rimfire, ignoring the whistles coming from his bro's.
"Will you two shut up?"
"We will if you get out of the way."
Carbine settled the issue by dragging Throttle over to Charlie and Modo. Charlie smiled, and hugged Carbine. "Good to see you, General."
"You too, Charlie," chuckled Carbine, her fingers firmly entwined in Throttle's.
* * * * *
"So, why are you guys here?" said Charlie, after the usual greeting brawl had quieted down, and everyone was settled on couch, chairs and floor.
"A holiday, can you believe it?" said Carbine, curled up on Throttle's lap.
"Yeah, kicked sand-raider tail for miles around, no plutarkian activity on the cards for weeks and things running surprisingly smoothly at base" Stoker said, sounding slightly disappointed.
Rimfire snickered. "Deakin and Stone practically threw Stoker into the ship. I think they wanted to do some more organising while he was out of the way. Carbine and I stowed away, just to keep an eye on him."
Stoker scowled and reached a long arm over to smack Rimfire across the ear. Rimfire retaliated in kind, and it looked like another rumble was brewing.
"So how long are you staying?" said Charlie, hoping to distract them.
"Not long" said Carbine, "a few days at most." A flying Rimfire landed heavily on the couch, spilling Charlie, Modo and Vinnie to the floor. Throttle helped Charlie out of the melee, before being crash-tackled by Stoker. Carbine caught Charlie's eye and nodded her head towards the kitchen.
"So, really a holiday?" said Charlie to the background noise of thumps and crashes.
"Sort of," said Carbine. "Stoker's been pushing himself hard the last few weeks, trying to clean the sandraiders out from around Chisolm. Trench had a firm word with Deakin, Stone and I, and suggested we take him somewhere quiet for a few days to rest." A huge crash and a thump, followed by yelling, echoed behind her.
"Sadly," she said, a twinkle in her eye, "this is the quietest place we could think of."
* * * * *
Charlie smiled as she walked quietly out of the kitchen. After much argument it had been decided that everyone would bunk here for the night. Charlie had stretched her blanket supplies to the limit, and had left the heat on high, but with five large furry bodies, plus herself and Carbine, she was wondering if she needed to. The living room was toasty warm, and reverberated to four different snore patterns. She giggled quietly to herself and made her way upstairs to bed. She paused again at the top of the stairs. Throttle and Carbine were entwined beneath their blanket. Modo lay stretched out, taking up a huge amount of floor space. Vinnie snoozed in an impossible position on her recliner and Rimfire occupied what little floor Modo didn't take up.
"Go to sleep, beautiful" said a warm, rich voice from the direction of the couch. Charlie blew Stoker a kiss. "Sleep well" she whispered. Stoker chuckled quietly as she shut the door.
As he drifted off to sleep, the first soft, white flakes began to fall.
* * * * *
"CHARLIE!! CHARLIE!! GET DOWN HERE QUICK!" yelled Vinnie.
"Whu ? Huh? What's going on?" gasped Charlie. She leapt out of bed just as Vinnie appeared in the doorway.
"Hey babe, it...WHOOAH!" he said, gazing appreciatively at her red teddy. "Need some help dressing?"
"Vinnie! Get OUT!" she shouted, throwing a shoe at him. She heard laughter from downstairs, and concluded that no major catastrophe had occurred. Nevertheless she dressed hurriedly in jeans and grabbed her jacket, hearing thumps and shouting from below. Coming down the stairs, she saw Throttle leaning up against the wall, Carbine encircled by his arms, both laughing hysterically. In the middle of the floor, Modo and Stoker sat on Vinnie, pinning him helplessly.
"Morning, Charlie" the mice chorused, except Vinnie, who was too busy trying to breathe. Rimfire walked out of the kitchen, draining the dregs out of a carton of fresh orange juice. He lobbed the empty container expertly across the room and into the trash.
"Yes! And he scores! That's one for Rimfire!" he crowed, and back-flipped onto the couch, which thumped with the impact and creaked alarmingly.
"Aaaah! Rimfire, my furniture! It wasn't built for big lugs like you!" Charlie said, chasing him off the couch. Modo's stomach growled loudly.
"Breakfast time, Modo?" she grinned at him.
"Better be, Charlie ma'am," said Modo, planting a ham-like fist in Vinnie's stomach to help himself up. Stoker followed his example, using Vinnie's solar plexus to push himself to his feet. Vinnie wheezed heavily on the floor as Charlie headed for the kitchen. She was deeply involved with frying pans and microwave when she heard a shout.
"Guys! Stoker! Quick! We got big trouble!"
The mice exited the room en masse, Charlie not far behind them. They found Rimfire in the garage, standing at the open door, his ears perked forward and the fur on his neck standing on end.
"Limburger!" growled Throttle.
"Goon attack!" shouted Vinnie.
"Greasepit!" yelled Modo.
Stoker moved like lightning to the doorway, blaster drawn, and looked out.
"Where, kid?" he asked tersely, tense and ready for a fight.
"There!" said Rimfire, pointing outside.
The mice looked around. The street outside the garage was covered with a pristine layer of pure white snow. Not even a bird footprint marred its perfect surface. The bare branches of trees were covered with a heavy layer, and the sun shone weakly in the sky. There was absolute silence.
"Uh, where?" said Throttle, perplexed.
"Look!" Rimfire snapped. "That white stuff! It's everywhere! We're trapped!"
Stoker leaned against the wall in relief, holstering his blaster, as everyone collapsed with laughter. Modo walked up behind them.
"Rimfire, you idiot, it's just snow." Modo said, tugging on one of Rimfire's ears.
"Snow? What's 'snow'?" said Rimfire, perplexed, swatting his uncle's hand away from his ears.
"Snow is solid precipitation in the form of ice crystals, created by direct conversion of water vapour into ice without an intermediate water stage," said Stoker, crouching down in the doorway. Dead silence greeted his remark, and he turned around to six blank stares.
"Well, it is," he said defensively.
"Right," said Throttle, a look of disbelief on his face. He turned to Rimfire. "It's just frozen water, Rimfire. It falls from the sky in winter, and piles up on the ground."
Rimfire looked even more disbelieving at this remark, then burst out laughing. "Good one guys, you nearly had me! Water from the sky! Seriously, what is it?"
Modo snorted, as Throttle, Vinnie, Carbine and Charlie moved back to the kitchen, laughing. Rimfire looked at Stoker, confused.
Stoker chuckled. "Look, kid, this is a wet planet. They've got tons of water here and it really does fall from the sky. Didn't it rain last time you were here?"
"I guess not."
Modo moved to stand next to them in the doorway. "Give him a break Stoker, he's hasn't seen either. We'd already lost most of our water supply before he was born."
Rimfire blinked and looked around at the white blanket. "We used to get this stuff on Mars?"
"Well, not quite like this," said Stoker. "We've never had that much water, even before the plutarkians. But I remember, in the low country in winter, you used to come over the rise and see the snow settling between the hills...it was wet enough there, you see, and you'd get these massive piles of snow, so deep you couldn't see the road markers...." Stoker stared off into the distance, a dreamy look on his face.
"Yeah, and you'd ride down and hit the bank and slide every which way and end up gettin' dumped and come home freezing cold and wet through and get yelled at by momma," chuckled Modo.
"Yeah" laughed Stoker, "well, except for the bit about your momma." Stoker scooped up a handful of the powdery white stuff, and dribbled it between his fingers. "It won't hurt ya kid, look."
Rimfire crouched down beside Stoker, his ears flicking back and forth. He poked a finger into the snow, then put it up to his nose and sniffed it, wrinkling his muzzle at the cold. He poked at the snow a few more times, a look of disgust on his face.
"It's cold, and wet."
"That's because it's frozen water, Rimfire."
"So what do we do with it?"
Behind him, Modo winked at Stoker.
"WE ENJOY IT!" Modo yelled, grabbing Rimfire around the waist and throwing them both into a snowbank.
"AAaaaAAH!" yelled Rimfire, flailing around in the snow. Stoker laughed and prepared a generous snowball. As Rimfire struggled out of the snow, snorting and spluttering, he stood and threw it expertly, so it smacked Rimfire neatly between the ears.
"Ack!" gasped Rimfire, tripping and falling into another snowbank. Modo crawled out, laughing and covered in snow and grinned at Stoker. Something solid hit Stoker in the back and propelled him face-first into the snow, holding him down.
"Look out!" said Modo lazily.
Stoker lifted an icy-cold metal tail and smacked his assailant across the ear. A yelp and a solid fist on his shoulder warned him it was Vinnie. He grabbed a leg and flipped Vinnie easily, getting to his feet just in time to be dumped by Modo.
Rimfire struggled out of the snow, and stalked around the wet, furry pile in the doorway. He slouched inside, snow melting off his fur and entered the kitchen to find Charlie, Throttle and Carbine seated at the table, warm and dry and enjoying a hot cup of coffee. He glared at them as they laughed and stalked through to the living room, grabbing a blanket and curling up in front of the fire. A few minutes later Modo, Vinnie and Stoker stumbled in, soaked to the skin and laughing hysterically. Charlie rolled her eyes, and tried to ignore them dripping on her carpet. Vinnie plonked down onto a chair, laid his head on the table and snorted with laughter.
Charlie grinned at the damp and hilarious trio and pointed to some covered dishes. "Breakfast guys, help yourself." She laughed as the guys made a beeline for the food. A blanket swathed Rimfire made an appearance, grabbing a plate and sitting at the table. After the feeding frenzy had died down, Charlie turned to Carbine.
"I guess we relax and enjoy ourselves for a while."
"SNOWFIGHT!" yelled the guys.
"NOOO!!!" cried Rimfire, as he was dragged off.
"So, you're not going to join in?" said Charlie, as she started putting dishes in the sink.
"Sands, no, I can't stand snow," said Carbine, as Throttle reappeared in the doorway.
Charlie looked at the two of them. "If anyone needs me, I'll be building snow forts," she said smiling, walking past the oblivious pair. She looked back as she grabbed her boots, to see the two of them deeply entwined. She grinned, and closed the door.
"I wonder how long I can keep the guys occupied for?" she mused, as she pulled on her boots and headed out to join the snow wars. "Hopefully long enough, anyway."