"Hi Mom!" A tall athletic looking girl bounced happily into
the garage, completed a perfect cartwheel, and landed inches from Charley
who had a big smile on her face.
"Airik! Hi, Hon!" What are you doing here?"
"Got some time off at the training center cause my class is ahead of everyone else so I came to visit." She snuck a look around. "Are your friends here?"
"You mean Throttle, Vinnie and Modo?"
"Not at the moment but they should be back any minute. Why?"
"Well, probably it's nothing. I'll just ask them when they get back. Don't worry." Charley looked worried despite what her daughter said but she tried to shrug it off.
"Well, take your things to your room and then you can come back here and tell me about school."
"Okay, Hey, Mom?" Airik yelled as she took her stuff to her room,
"Where do they live anyway?" Airik called just before returning to the room. Charley giggled.
"At the ball field."
"The ball field?!" Airik gave Charley a "you're yanking my tail" look.
"Seriously. They crashed into the scoreboard when they chased Limburger to Earth and made their home right there. Though they're here most of the time." She added.
"This planet just gets weirder and weirder." Airik giggled. Just then a roar was heard as Throttle, Vinnie, and Modo came back.
"Honey! I'm home!" Vinnie sang as they sailed through the door.
"Hey, Charley-girl, who's bike..?" Throttle began to ask. Then "Airik! Hey doll nice to see you!"
"Hi Throttle! Hi Guys!" Airik finished dusting off her boots and stood up to hug the guys.
"Got another vacation, Darlin'" Modo asked her. She nodded.
"Um, I have a question to ask you guys. As I got into downtown Chicago I felt like I was being followed. I'd look behind me but there was nothing there. Only once I caught a slight glimpse of something that appeared to be a cloak-maybe a very dark red, almost black but I wasn't sure. I wondered if it might be trouble."
"Did you see anything else?" Vinnie looked grim. Airik raised her eyebrows rather doubtfully.
"Well, it looked like it may have had some sort of blaster..."
"STALKERS!" Everyone else exclaimed.
"Never a dull moment around here." Airik shook her head. "I'll let you figure this out. I need a nap." She hugged her mother and went to lie down.
The four of them sat and discussed their situation until suppertime. Charley went to go wake Airik. A moment later a shriek was heard. They ran to Airik's room. Charley was holding a sheet of paper. Her hand clamped to her mouth. Vinnie took the paper, while everyone else looked at Charley. She turned terror filled eyes on her friends.
"They have Airik!"
Airik woke up feeling groggy since she'd been knocked unconscious. Chloroform
"Who? What? Where am I?" She stammered before the memory came back to her. She'd flopped onto her bed and closed her eyes when there was a presence in the room. She opened her eyes and bit back a scream as a laser was aimed at her. These guys were UGLY! Not one of them spoke but motioned her off the bed with a wave of the gun. She slowly got up. She was torn between wishing one of the guys would rescue her and praying no one came through that door. She'd heard snatches of the conversation in the other room and it seemed these Stalkers and the Plutarkians were at least on the same side if not friendly with each other. Limburger wanted them out of the way, the Stalkers wanted them for trophies. Now a couple of her friends fathers had deer heads on their walls but that was a little different. This was like hunting people and you just didn't do that.
Now nervous, (she knew she was bait) Airik surveyed her situation. She was in a dark, cramped, dingy little room, sitting on the floor, bound tightly to a pole. Her hands tied behind her around the pole, her feet bound at the ankles. Her gag had slipped down around her neck but she dared not scream.
"Why didn't I become an escape artist instead of an acrobat?" She muttered. She was frightened not only for herself but for her mother and the guys as well. As she sat there a door near the corner slowly opened. She braced herself to see the Stalkers but it wasn't them. It was someone else.
"Who, who are you?" She tried to keep her voice from shaking. She couldn't see them through the helmets they were wearing.
"You'll find out soon enough." Camr the cryptic, frustrating answer in a deep masculine voice. She took a quick look at these newcomers. There was six of them. Could she outrun them if they untied her? Maybe. Could she out flip them? Definitely. Her best bet was the door they'd come in.
One of these people (were they people?) knelt behind her and cut her hands free. She rubbed her wrists then tensed her legs so she could spring as soon as her feet were freed. The ropes fell away and she took to the air. Vaulting over all their heads she landed behind them.
"I won't be used to hurt my mother or my friends!" She hissed. Figuring these creatures were involved with the Stalkers and taking their bait somewhere new. She wanted to be rescued, not dragged around.
"hey!" A younger male voice protested. "We're on your side!" While another put hands on it's hips in an exasperated fashion.
"If you want to get out of here alive and save your friends then stand still and shut up!" She grabbed Airik by the arm and dragged the struggling girl outside.
Vinnie passed the note around to Throttle and Modo.
"If you wish to see your young companion alive again you will come to the East End Warehouse at midnight and participate in the hunt."
"They're using her to trap us!" Modo's eye glowed. He hated when children were in danger.
"Let's go bro's!" Throttle jumped on his bike. Charley got on behind Vinnie.
"Where do you think you're going Sweetheart?" He asked her.
"That's my daughter out there!" She cried.
"With Stalkers involved let us handle it Charley." Throttle ordered.
Vinnie picked he up with his tail and set her off to the side. As they zoomed off she began to cry.
"Bring her back safe." She begged in a whisper. "And come back alive."
She bit her lower lip and stared off in the direction they'd gone in.
The Stalkers came back only to find their prized possession at the moment,
"Where is the girl?" One of them asked.
"The ropes have been cut. She's been released."
"But the trophy mice have not been here-we would have known. Who could have taken her?" For hunters however they weren't very observant since one of Airik's rescuers had left a message behind for the Biker Mice.
Speeding along behind one of the strangers was a new experience for Airik since she was used to doing the driving herself. However, she knew she was safe now. The one with the deep voice was the one she rode with and he pulled a familiar trick, wrapping his tail around her waist to keep her on the bike. He was a mouse. In fact now she knew they were all mice. Freedom fighters, her mother had called them. They pulled into an alleyway then into another abandoned warehouse. Once safely inside they pulled off their helmets.
"You ARE all mice!" She exclaimed happily.
"You were expecting turtles maybe?" Rimfire grinned at her and introduced himself. Stoker knelt before her on one knee.
"I'm Stoker." His voice was softer now. "What's your name and do you have any idea why the Stalkers kidnapped you?"
"My name is Airik Davidson. All I know is my mother, Charleene, is friends with three other mice. The Biker Mice From Mars. Stalkers are after them as trophies and Limburger was only too happy to grant them permission to hunt on Earth as the Stalkers would get rid of the mice for him." Stoker nodded and stood, looking frustrated. She'd heard his name before and knew he was worried for his friends.
"Ah, man!" Centerline smacked his forehead. "I didn't even realize!" The girl looked at him curiously. He held out his hand.
"Name's Centerline, Airik." He gave her a wry smile. "I guess this makes me your uncle."
"Uncle Jayce!" She mouthed the words, not actually saying them.
"Well, it's just Centerline now kiddo." He ruffled her hair. She nodded. Charley had told her the whole story and she was amazed at her families history.
"I have an aunt too-Harley right? Mom's half-sister? Well, sorta."
"Yeah, you're right." Centerline thought about this for a minute then nodded. Airik giggled and looked expectantly at the other three. A pretty gray mouse extended her hand next.
"Carbine." She introduced herself.
"Throttle's girlfriend!" Airik was loving this. Carbine smiled.
Another mouse about Rimfire's age stepped forward, his brown fur ruffled.
"I'm Steel." His voice was soft ad he seemed sort of shy and gentle.
Airik found herself drawn to him. She smiled shyly.
"I'm Airik." Stoker stared off into space for a minute, whistling. A stunning white mouse cleared her throat.
"I guess I'm last. I'm Diesel." She spoke with quiet dignity and Airik sensed that she was generally a peaceful mouse but could fight like a tiger when duty called. A lot like Airik herself actually. She could see Diesel and herself forming a friendship. After introductions were over, Stoker looked grim.
"All right fighters, listen up. We've got multiple problems here."
Everyone gathered close to Stoker to listen. Steel put a protective arm around Airik. She leaned against his shoulder. Somehow here with her new friends she wasn't nearly as frightened. Everyone had some sort of connection to her too, in one way or another. Stoker had been the guys unit leader, Rimfire was Modo's nephew, Centerline was her Uncle, Carbine was Throttle's lady, and both Steel and Diesel were forming strong bonds with her. Before Stoker could begin however another mouse crashed through the door.
"Kickstart! My main mouse!" Centerline slapped him a high five.
"Nice to see ya Kickstart. We can always use the extra help." Diesel smiled at him and winked.
Stoker waited for the sparks to stop flying before continuing.
"Like I said we have some problems. Airik is safe now, that was the first order of business. However now I'm concerned for Throttle, Vincent, and Modo. I left a message in that warehouse-they'll know we've got her. They don't however know where we are. I don't know what channel to radio them on, The Stalkers want them and the minute they meet the hunt is on. Not to mention the fact that our ship is inoperable. The biggest dilemma we have is that they've probably gone after Airik and won't find her but will find the Stalkers. My intention was not to put them in additional danger but it seems we have." He didn't know what to do and it seemed no one else did either. Then Carbine got an idea.
"I bet Charley knows how to radio them and she's probably waiting for Airik. Maybe the hunt is on but they'll know she's safe. We could get everyone back to the last chance and regroup, then go after them. All ten of us against the Stalkers won't be much of a contest. We'll force them to retreat. I bet Charley could fix the ship too."
"Aw, Mom can fix anything." Airik spoke up loyally.
"Sounds like a plan to me." Steel looked up at Stoker, and gave Airik a squeeze.
"Let's go fighters!" Stoker agreed.
"Hey, pretty girl-wanna ride with me?" Steel asked. Airik blushed and nodded. He affectionately wrapped his tail around her waist and winked at her before putting on his helmet and following the rest. Airik snuggled close and wrapped her arms around Steel's waist. She REALLY liked him. She looked back over he shoulder to see Kickstart and Diesel riding side by side. They were so cute together.
Charley ran out the door when she heard bikes but stopped short when she realized it wasn't the guys.
"Stoker!" She exclaimed when he took off his helmet.
"Hey Pretty Lady!" He greeted her.
"Mom!" Airik yelled as Steel set her lightly on her feet.
"Oh, Airik!" She hugged her daughter. "Thank goodness you're okay! But the guys went after you! Where are they?"
"We were hoping you could tell us little sister." Centerline spoke up.
"Centerline." She looked at her brother tenderly. He put an arm around her shoulders.
"Got a radio babe?" He asked her. She nodded and blinked as tears threatened. Everyone settled down inside the garage and Stoker relayed the plan to Charley. She looked around at the group of mice.
"I know Stoker, Centerline, Rimfire, and Carbine but who are the rest of you?"
"I'm Steel." He spoke up from his seat near Airik.
"That's Kickstart." Rimfire pointed to the mouse who looked like he was falling asleep. Diesel grinned and introduced herself.
"I can't thank all of you enough. I'll call the guys." Charley ran for her CB.
Meanwhile the guys had busted into the East End Warehouse. It was empty.
"We've been had!" Modo growled.
"No we haven't Bro!" Vinnie pointed to the pole with the rope around it.
"But she is gone. Wait a minute!" He rolled up to the pole a picked something up. A piece of greenish cloth. "Bro's!" He yelled but before he could continue the Stalkers entered the room.
"So we meet again Biker Mice." One of them spoke calmly. "You're early but no matter. The hunt begins now. Do you desire a head start?" They ignored this.
"Where is the girl?" Modo demanded.
"Ah, your young companion," Another sighed. "She was stolen from us but that is of no consequence. We had her long enough to lure you here.
Under instruction of Lawrence Limburger she was the perfect bait. He desires you out of the way, we desire you simply as the only quarry we have yet to obtain."
"Gee, it's SO nice to be wanted." Vinnie drawled his voice dripping with sarcasm. "I know where she is." He told Throttle low, handing him the piece of Stoker's jacket. Throttle smiled.
"Nice work fighters!" He said mostly to himself.
"Our patience is wearing thin." The Stalkers spoke again as Throttle handed the cloth to Modo. "Do you desire a head start or do we begin right here?"
"We began a long time ago." Throttle mumbled. "Scatter bro's!" He yelled. They rushed out of the warehouse.
"Guys! guys!" Charley's voice came over the radios. "I know you probably have Stalkers on your tails but if you can lose them long enough get back here. Airik is safe and there's whole group here you'll probably be glad to see."
"We hear ya Charley darlin'" Modo answered her.
"We've gotta find them in order to lose them." Vinnie chuckled. Throttle stopped. He was totally out in the open and waited. When the others realized he'd stopped they did too but watched him curiously. It seemed eons before Throttle finally moved.
"Just as I suspected." He explained as they headed for the garage.
"It's a dumb move on their part but they want us back at mid-night. They have something waiting for us and knew we'd take our chance to leave.
We'll just take all the Freedom fighters back with us."
"You mean we're not being followed?" Modo clarified. Throttle shook his head.
"Nope." Glad for the reprieve but curious as to why the went back to the Last Chance. A lot happened between nine of the mice. Stoker and Vinnie immediately got into a wrestling match, Throttle and Carbine met each other in a joyful hug, Modo hugged first Rimfire then Diesel as she was his sister's best friend, and Throttle and Centerline got into planning strategies. Where was Steel? On the floor leaning against the wall with Airik asleep in his lap. He combed his fingers through her hair and thought about how beautiful she was. Charley was actually quite glad they seemed to like each other. That meant there was someone to protect her daughter the way Throttle, Modo and especially Vinnie were there to protect her.
The Stalkers watched them ride away from the roof of the warehouse.
"Once they realize they're not being followed they will return and then they will be ours."
No one wanted to take the chance of losing Charley or Airik again so though they didn't like it, they had to take them along. No one trusted the Plutarkians or the Stalkers not to kidnap them again if they left them. A little before midnight the whole group headed for the East End Warehouse. Airik naturally riding with Steel, Charley with Vinnie. Airik heard Diesel ask Kickstart, "Do the Stalkers consider the Freedom Fighters as having any trophy value?"
"No," Kickstart answered then, "Hey!" He interrupted himself to reprimand his bike which was getting excited. "No, we have no value to them but they'll kill us without hesitation to get us out of the way." Airik took a very mortal look around. Throttle and Stoker in the lead, Vinnie, Modo, and Carbine behind them. Brotherly love and a flourishing romance. Vinnie also took special care of her mother. Rimfire was Modo's nephew, Diesel was his friend as well as Kickstart's love. Kickstart was also Centerline's best friend, and Centerline was her uncle, her mother's brother. And Then there was Steel. Friend of both Vinnie and Rimfire slowly becoming closer with her. The bonds here were very strong.
Family, love and friendship, yet everyone could easily be killed. She sighed and hugged Steel. He squeezed her back with his tail. She just had to trust that the Biker Mice and the Freedom Fighters could beat out everyone else. She was glad she could be here though. She felt as though she and her mother were the cheering squad and support section of the team.
"Go, Fight, Win!" She thought to herself suppressing a giggle. This was no time for hilarity. As they pulled up to the warehouse all noise suddenly ceased. Throttle sat himself on the handlebars so he was a head above everyone else and they could see him.
"Ok, fighters, bros," He chuckled, "Ladies and Gentlemen, don't want to leave anyone out! We met up with the Stalkers earlier looking for Airik.
They told us the hunt was on however they never followed us. They wanted us back tonight and we took the bait. Each group here is smarter than we give each other credit for. No doubt there are traps, set for us but springable by anyone. Steel, Vincent" He turned to the two mice, "Find a safe corner for the ladies since we don't want them caught in the crossfire." They nodded. "From experience when outnumbered the Stalkers retreat, that's what were counting on. Hopefully if they resume again it'll be on our own turf. We readt fighters?" He asked.
"It's tail whippin' time!" Kickstart and Centerline yelled, their bikes revving in agreement. Without another word they charged into the warehouse. It was dark and empty inside. Everyone watched the floor, walls and ceiling very closely. Steel and Vinnie found a safe corner for the girls to watch from.
"Don't want anything to happen to you doll." Vinnie told Charley while Steel tipped up Airik's chin.
"Stay here baby. Everything will be fine." He smoothed her hair and kissed the top of her head. Just then a voice was heard. No one appeared only a voice.
"So good of you to join us Biker Mice From Mars it's a pity to bring your friends though since none of you will leave here alive." Charley and Airik clung to each other in the corner.
"Ever feel like a sitting duck?" Diesel asked no one in particular.
Everyone's eyes were hunting for danger when out of nowhere a laser blast shot by Carbine mere centimeters from her head. She jerked back then shot forward as another grazed her back. The hunt had begun. Carbine soon realized she wasn't the only one dodging laser fire, and not only lasers but spears were shooting out of the wall and up through the floor!
"These Stalkers fight dirty!" Centerline yelled, splintering a lance aimed for Throttle while Kickstart blasted one headed for Rimfire.
Vinnie dodged a laser blast and broke two spears, one headed for Diesel, the other for Steel. Diesel returned the favor. Stoker caught the end of a laser blast in the shoulder and was knocked off his bike.
"Bro!" Modo yelled coming after him heedless of the gunfire.
"I'm all right!" Stoker growled getting back on his bike. "Look out Punk!"
He yelled to Vinnie who just barely escaped the spear that shot past his nose.
"When in doubt...." He yelled above the din.
"Blast everything!!" Several voices answered him. Disintegrating one wall they soon realized how and from where the Stalkers were controlling the walls and floor. Strategically placed Stalkers were the ones shooting at them.
"Very clever!" Carbine yelled sarcastically.
"But not clever enough finished Rimfire. The Freedom Fighters began shooting at the Stalkers furiously. Just as Throttle had been counting on, the Stalkers started to back off. Still shooting but more sporadically.
"They're winning!" Charley cheered hugging Airik. Airik grinned and continued watching. Her happiness faded however as the Stalkers called a retreat. One of the last laser shots hit Steel square in the chest and sent him head over heels off the back of his bike.
"We will meet again Biker Mice!" The Stalkers declared.
"Steel!" Airik screamed, dashing to him through the last of the laser beams. She fell on her knees beside him. Everyone was too busy congratulating one another at first to notice Steel and Airik.
"Oh, Yeah!" Vinnie yelled thrusting both fists into the air, then "Oh, man." He whispered as everyone's attention was drawn to Steel and the sobbing girl at his side. Diesel, with all the medical training, was the first to make a move.
"Is he...dead?" Centerline asked hesitantly.
"No," Diesel answered quickly,"But he's hurt pretty bad. Could be a concussion, and I don't know the extent of his internal injuries if there are any." She was checking his pulse, breathing and blood pressure.
"Will he live?!" Airik choked in an agonized cry.
"I don't know that either, honey," Diesel answered softly. "I just don't know." As Diesel worked over Steel, Airik sat close by silently crying. No one said anything. They were all too worried about Steel or too sad for Airik.
"Um, Diesel," Stoker began hesitantly. "Can we risk moving him? This place is gonna collapse." He finished matter of factly. It was then that everyone began to notice the dust and residue falling around them and the creaking of the rafters.
"We have no choice do we?!" Diesel exclaimed. She looked Airik in the eyes. "Airik honey you have to help me."
"I'll do anything!" Airik choked.
"Ok, I need you to cover him with your jacket." Airik shrugged out of it and laid it tenderly over Steel's chest. "Now as carefully as we can we need to lift him up and carry him out but we can't jar his body or he might go into shock." Rimfire and Modo leapt to their aid as well. Airik slipped her arms beneath his head and shoulders, Diesel got a hold of his legs and Rimfire and Modo locked hands and wrists under his back.
Lifting slowly, together they made a solid surface to move Steel out of the ever-weakening building. Once outside Steel's bike came over to investigate. It revved sadly at it's rider lying motionless on the pavement. Everyone jumped and Charley squealed as moments later the building fell in a useless pile of rubble. Diesel looked frustrated. Finally she sighed.
"There's nothing more I can do here. I need a better facility."
"Can we transport him to the garage? We have water, medicines, bandages..." Charley asked.
"He can have my room!" Airik selflessly offered.
That would be great." Diesel nodded. The group of four once again lifted him gently onto his bike and as quickly as they dared drove him to the garage. When Diesel was finished with Steel she concluded he had no internal injuries but he had a sprained shoulder, a concussion, minor laser burns and various cuts and bruises. She sat back to survey her work. Two or three neat bandages covered his arms, his shoulder immobilized by a sling, his chest wrapped with medicated bandages to soothe the burns. She smiled at Airik who had been sitting anxiously by the bedside.
"He's going to be pretty sore for a while but he'll be just fine."
"Oh, Thank you!" Airik was so relieved. She carefully rested her head on his good shoulder and fell asleep. Charley and all Steel's friends wandered in and out all night long and all morning too checking on the both of them. Airik was roused mid-morning by a groan.
"Steel." A soft voice called his name. He opened his eyes slowly to see the most emotional pair of hazel eyes he'd ever seen. Her T-shirt and jeans were filthy with grease and dust, her face was tear streaked, and her fluffy brown hair was full of dust and hopelessly tangled but she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.
"Airik." He whispered, his voice raspy.
"Shhh," she laid a finger to her lips. "Everything will be fine." She echoed his earlier statement. He reached up with his good hand to touch her cheek.
Charley got the Freedom Fighters ship running without a problem.
"Wish you boys could come back with us but I know you still have things to take care of here." Centerline sounded regretful. Throttle nodded.
"Hey, Punk!" Stoker yelled at Vinnie. "You were great in there kid!"
Vinnie vainly made a move as if to polish his nails-if he had any. Diesel laughed.
"Oh, honestly!" Charley sighed. Carbine and Throttle were in the middle of a tender moment.
"I wish we were done here babe but were still battling Limburger."
"I know. Mars isn't the same without you though." Carbine stretched up on her toes to kiss him. Kickstart and Diesel were holding hands in front of the ship waiting for everyone before they left. Steel and Airik were off in their own little corner as well. They held hands and Steel affectionately wrapped his tail around her. She looked up at him imploringly.
"Thank you for helping to save my life." He said.
"You helped to save mine. And your friends."
"I'm a Freedom Fighter-that's my job."
"We're all Freedom Fighters in one way or another." She looked down, bit her lip, then looked back up. "I wish you didn't have to leave." He ran his fingers through her hair in understanding.
"But just like the Biker Mice have things to do here, We have things that we have to do at home. No doubt though-we'll be back."
"Hey mom's been to Mars. Maybe I'll come visit!" She gave an ironic little giggle.
"Anytime baby," Steel invited her, "anytime." They hugged each other tightly before heading for the ship. As the airlock was closing Throttle yelled, "Ride Free Fighters!"
"Whip tail, Citizens!" Stoker replied. As the ship slowly faded out of sight Charley put a hand on her daughter's shoulder.
"Are you okay?"
"We'll be together again one day." Was all Airik whispered. Modo turned to his bro's and the girls.
"Hotdogs and root beer anyone?"
"I'm game!" Charley shrugged.
"Always an adventure around here." Airik announced, agreeing.
Hitching a ride with Throttle and Vinnie Airik smiled at her mother.
"Sat it like ya mean it fighters..." Throttle prompted, revving his bike. The others revving in response, the girls chimed in,
"Let's ROCK AND RIDE!!!!!!!!!"