I make no profit from this, It's for entertainment only. I thank the creators for the use of their characters-all All rights reserved. This roughly (very roughly) and indirectly follows BMFM 2015. Thanks to Leanne and Spice for inspiring my idea.

Only In My Dreams?

By Saphire

Copyright 1997 by Saphire All Rights Reserved

Airik stood on the Martian sand just in front of red tower, for the umpteenth time. A place she never thought she'd see but had now frequent times in the 18 years since she'd met the Biker Mice. She was 32 now and she felt rather disembodied at the moment. She was watching Centerline, her uncle, and a young girl zooming across the sand in front of her. They didn't see her. The girl looked frightened. Centerline stopped his bike and their voices carried in the still air.
"Lanka will take care of you." Centerline told her as she jumped off the bike.
"The Peace Keepers can take care of it," the girl asked "Right?"
"I'll go get Throttle, Modo, Vinnie and undoubtedly Stoker, Carbine, and everyone else and we'll see what we can do. Diesel, Steel, Kickstart and Rimfire will be eager to help as well."
"Steel!" Airik thought happily. It had been along time since she'd seen her friend.
"What about Tracer?" The girl asked.
"Her too." Centerline added with a smile.
"Tell Dad to be careful!" The girl was on the verge of tears.
"Dad?!" Airik wondered. "Who was her father?"
"You'd be better off on Earth with your mother." Centerline sighed.
"No! Mom has enough problems and people to worry about now as it is-you know that!"
"Our family is pretty crazy huh?" Centerline chuckled. The girl smiled.
"OUR family?!" Airik wondered. "She's a relative?"
"Now go!" Centerline gave the girl a shove toward the house. Airik woke up with a start. Her husband beside her, her infant daughter asleep down the hall, but she wasn't comforted. This was the third night in a row that she'd had that crazy dream. Was there a problem on Mars? Were her friends okay? Was her family okay?

The question that nagged at her most: WHO was that girl or did she even exist?
"Or is she only in my dreams?" She whispered. Finally, she could stand no more. She got up, dressed, and headed for Charley's leaving a note on the table. It read, "Gone to Mom's. Don't look for me until I get back. Love, Airik" Her family, used to her free spirit was also used to her disappearing for days on end so no one would worry. She got to her mothers and let herself in. Careful not to wake anyone she made coffee and sat down in the living room. It was only about 6:00 in the morning so no one was up yet. By 6:45 though Charley wandered out through the living room and jumped.
"Oh Airik! Sweetheart! What a nice surprise. I wasn't expecting you." She got herself a cup of coffee and came in to sit with her daughter."
"To tell you the truth Mom I wasn't expecting to come. I'm surprised though-where is everyone else?"
"Your step-father is on a business trip and Paul and Shelly are at camp. It is July after all. Joe's death was hard on everyone. They needed the vacation." Airik nodded in understanding.
"Well, now I'll get to the reason that I'm here. For the past 3 nights I've been having a very weird dream and a lot of disturbing questions I was hoping you could answer." She described her dream and described the girl from the top of her white-blonde hair to the toes of her boots. By the time Airik was finished Charley had a very odd look on her face.
"Now my questions. Do you think there's a problem on Mars?"
"Truthfully? Probably." Charley frowned. Airik sighed. She was afraid of that.
"Do you think that our friends are okay?" Charley smiled.
"You know they can take care of themselves."
"Is our family okay?"
"Most of us I guess."
"Ok and who in the world is that girl? Does she even exist?"
"Oh, she exists all right." Charley pulled out a photo album and showed Airik pictures of a vibrant little girl with white-blonde hair.
"Wow! So who is she?"
"Your 1/2 sister. Well, sort of. Remember I adopted you."
"YOU'RE her mother?!" Airik screeched. "Who's her father?!" Charley blushed.
"Ummm...." She stalled.
"Mother....." Airik was impatient. Charley smiled but looked embarrassed to share something so personal with her daughter.
"Vinnie." Airik stared, her jaw dropped.
"Vinnie?! You mean....Oh, my Lord!" Airik dropped her head on her knees and dissolved into a helpless heap of laughter. "How long ago was THAT?" She asked pointedly once she'd recovered. Charley thought back.
"Let's see it was right before they left so 18 years ago would make her 17."
"What's her name?" Airik was all interest now.
"Brandie." Charley answered. Now all this brought up a whole new set of disturbing questions.
"Mom, I never met her before or even knew about her so how come I was dreaming about her? Why is she living on Mars now if she was born on Earth with you? Does the rest of the family know about her and why wasn't I told? I knew them all before anyone except you! You must've known I'd accept her. I mean the thought is a little strange and I can just imagine he personality but hey-she's my sister." Charley laughed.
"Okay, one at a time. Why are you dreaming about her? Because you have a very strong connection to Mars so you're hyper-sensitive to anything to do with them or it. If they're is a problem your subconscious knows it. Brandie is on Mars because she wanted to go visit her father. A LOT happened while she was gone and I knew she was safer there at the moment so I asked if she could stay. She liked it and now she's used to it so she's living there though she does come to visit. Yes the rest of the family knows about her and you simply weren't told before now because you were at the academy, then college, then before you were married she'd been born and gone. She knows about you too. I knew you'd accept her of course but often, I don't think of her. That sounds terrible I know and of course I love her but living 23 million miles away...." She let her voice trail away. Everything was becoming a lot clearer. Airik didn't know it but Charley was right and what she was dreaming about was what was actually happening. Brandie huddled into a female mouse's arms.
"Oh, aunt Lanka, I'm so frightened." Brandie whispered.
"I know dear I know." Lanka stroked her hair. Brandie's green eyes matched her mother's and her hair was so blonde it was white matching her fathers fur. Vinnie's animal instincts also gave her incredible eyesight, hearing and sense of smell. She was a beautiful young lady. Athletic and feisty like her father though not nearly as impulsive. She tended to plan things out first rather than jumping into the fray with both feet. Meanwhile Centerline had managed to assemble the whole group including the children all of whom, except Chance who was too little to care, were upset that they couldn't go along too.
"But Dad!" Reve protested, Her eyes all a sparkle with the prospect of excitement.
"No Reve!" Throttle was firm. "All you kids are to stay here and out of trouble. Lanka will be here in a minute."
"We don't need a baby-sitter Dad." Rider grumbled.
"Yeah!" Vinnie Jr., Lazerfire and Spark all agreed.
"You kids stop arguing!" Modo ordered.
"Chance IS too little to be alone and I want an adult here with you. We'd have no way of knowing if anything happened." Just then Lanka came in with Brandie following her. Her head was down so her hair hid her face. the kids saw her first.
"Hi Sis!" Vinnie was yelling as usual. Rider gave a strand of her hair a tug and Spark's friendly eyes shone at her.
"Hi Brandie!" She chirped. Now normally she would've smiled, spoken to Spark, teased her brother even flirted with Rider but her friends were the furthest thing from her mind at the moment.
"Dad!" She flew into her father's arms. He hugged the girl tightly.
"What happened out there?" She asked.
"I don't know Sweetheart but we aim to find out. Are you okay babe?" She nodded.
"Hey Uncle Throttle?" Now technically he was no relation at all but her father considered them brothers, they all called her grandmother "Mom" and most of the kids figured themselves as cousins so what the heck? He looked at her.
"Why are you going anyway?" He laughed.
"I need the excitement Darlin'." She grinned but felt bad for him he got bored so easily now doing virtually nothing. She sometimes wondered if deep down a tiny part of him was somehow sorry they'd finally defeated the Plutarkians and the rats and sand raiders made very few moves. Mars belonged to it's rightful owners now but after so many years of excitement she felt the former Freedom fighters got restless often. Her eyes traveled from one soldier to the next and tried to picture them before the wars but it was difficult. With all the kids sitting there now too. The door opened just then and it was Harley.
"Hey hot-shot!" She smiled lovingly at Vinnie. "Thought I'd come keep Lanka company. "After all the only one we really need to watch out for is Chance." Reve looked relieved to hear that from an adult and Vinnie smiled gratefully at his mother. "Hi Brandie." Harley continued. "I'm glad you're okay hon."
"I'm fine Mama." She replied. "I only hope Mars isn't endangered again and i don't want anyone hurt."
"No one does Darling." She answered. Brandie had started quite young calling Harley "Mama" she really was her step-mother and there had to be a way to distinguish between Charley and Harley. Their names were frighteningly similar anyway. So, Charley was "mom" and Harley "mama" made things SO much easier that way. While the Peace Keepers were planning to go out to the Northwest desert, on Earth, Airik and Charley were making plans to head to Mars.
"We oughta buy a summer home!" Airik joked dryly. Once Limburger had been defeated, the tower had been turned into an office complex. Limburger's transporter was going to be dumped and destroyed but Charley saw her opportunity, and bought it! She wired it up in her basement and she and Airik had used it frequently to visit Mars though they hadn't been in quite a few months. Charley had also built a micro-remote control to it. So small it fit in your pocket and easy as anything. The two women stood together now and Charley pushed the button.
"Mars!" Airik looked around happily. It gave her a thrill like no other every time she came here. It felt like her second home.
"So how do we find out what going on?" She asked her mother.
"The best way to get your questions answered is first to go to Throttle's then to Vinnie's."
"What about everyone else?"
"If the others aren't at home we'll go to the base. We don't have to rush off do we?"
Airik shook her head and smiled. As they got to Throttle and Carbine's house they noticed all the bikes out front including the kids.
"Well," Charley said "Looks like you'll get all your questions answered right here after all."
"Let's get going!" Tracer bounced impatiently on her toes. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and Reve ran for it, then she squealed.
"Room for two more?" Charley teased with a smile.
"Charley!" She was greeted by enthusiastic hugs from many of the mice.
"Hey Sweetheart!" Vinnie threw an arm around her shoulders. "Long time no see!" She hugged him back.
"Mom!" Brandie shrieked as she hurled herself at Charley. Charley tried to talk to 18 of the 19 mice and her daughter all at once but it wasn't really working. She looked around for Airik who was wrapped up in Steel's embrace. they were still the best of friends.
"I've missed you so much." Airik whispered. He rested his head on hers while she nestled her cheek against his chest.
"I've missed you too." He cuddled her closer. When he let her go it was then he noticed the tears. He immediately took he back into his arms.
"Why the tears baby? What's wrong?" Airik bit her lip as if to hold back then reminding herself that this was Steel she let herself cry. The most comforting thing he did was combing his fingers through her hair and he did so now while she she slowly and haltingly told him about her dream, her concerns, her fears and he patiently listened all the way through, holding her all the while. When she finished he wiped away her tears. I could tell you baby but I'm sure your mom wants to know what's going on to as do Lanka and Harley."
"Aunt Lanka and Aunt Harley are here? Where?" Airik twisted her head around. Steel pointed to the throng surrounding her mother. Fingers laced together, Steel and Airik approached Throttle and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Excuse me Mr. Ambassador but isn't it about time we let the ladies in on what's happening?" He pointed to Airik, Charley, Harley and Lanka. "I know they're curious-and worried." Throttle agreed. He gave a sharp whistle and everyone turned to look at him.
"I know were all happy to see Charley and Airik-I'm excited myself however we need to be getting out to the Northwest desert and I'm sure the ladies with the exception of Tracer, Carbine and Diesel would just LOVE to know what's going on." The four nodded vigorously. All 7 kids sat as a group on the floor, the Peace Keepers gathered near the wall and the girls sat on the couch. Throttle was left standing alone in the middle of the floor. He looked slightly uncomfortable but he was getting used to this.

"Brandie, Centerline, if I forget anything help me out okay?" They nodded. Throttle looked serious and began the explanation. "Brandie was out on the Northwest desert when all these holes started blasting in the ground around her. Big craters." Brandie interrupted.
"I was only taking a walk and I thought I heard something and instinctively moved just as hole blew in the ground so I started running and screaming my little blonde head off." Throttle nodded to her.
"So Centerline heard her and stopped. He could easily see what was happening so he picked her up and took her to his house while he came to get us. Now we're all here and we have to get out to the Northwest desert and see what's going on and why."
"Do you think it's the Sand Raiders or Rats?" Charley asked.
"Do the Plutarkians make any more moves?" Airik asked.
"My first thought was Sand Raiders and I kicked myself for going without my bike but no one showed up." Brandie added.
"I'd like to reserve judgment until I see what's happening." Throttle said.
"Well, go on everyone." Harley urged. "We'll all just wait here until you come back."
"Come on "fighters" Throttle joked drawing a laugh from everyone, "Let's go find out what's going on." After the Peace Keepers left Rider dragged a cooler of root beer into the living room.
"Help yourselves!" He invited everyone. He, Vinnie Jr., and Lazer stared discussing bikes and mechanics and the girls (who might've joined the conversation under other circumstances) were discussing the problem in the desert. Brandie, Reve, and Spark all grabbed cold bottles and lounged on the rug. Reve downed half her bottle in one gulp and sighed.
"You have all the fun." She turned and wrinkled her nose at Brandie.
"Oh, yeah," Brandie scoffed, "My fondest wish is to be blown up in the middle of the desert!"
"Sounds like fun!" Reve giggled.
"I'm not saying I wouldn't have liked to go with the Peace Keepers,"
Brandie continued "But being out there alone wasn't a barrel of fun."
Spark began laughing so hard she cried. Reve and Brandie looked at her in surprise.
"I thought you were going to say being out there alone wasn't a blast!"
Spark gasped, wiping tears from her eyes. That got all three girls laughing. Brandie ran her hand through her hair and her eyes glittered.
"If it IS Sand Raiders or Rats or any Plutarkian scum just you wait! There won't be nothin' ANYONE can say to keep me out of it!" She looked around defiantly at Harley and Charley but they weren't paying attention to the kids' conversations. Chance was asleep in Harley's lap."Well, guess you'll be in it then," Spark commented, "cause you know it has to be one of the three." Brandie clenched her fists, the leather of her fingerless gloves tightening around her hands.
"Temper, temper sis!" Vinnie teased looking over at her at that point.
"Shut up!" She hissed at her brother.
"Hey Pretty Lady," Rider grabbed another soda. "Relax, our parents have everything under control."
Rider didn't know how wrong he was. Out in the Northwest desert things were anything but calm. All the Peace Keepers had to watch each other very closely so no one got hurt. The desert was almost completely gone.
"I knew this wasn't a mine field out here," Modo commented so I couldn't imagine what was happening."
"Now you know!" Kickstart yelled to him jumping away from another hole blowing out at his feet.
"What I'm wondering is what were going to do!" Tracer yelled. Flipping away from a hole herself.
"Whatta ya think, Stoke?" Centerline yelled.
"Steel! Move!" Stoker yelled before answering Centerline. "I think we have a big, big problem!" Carbine shoved Throttle out of the way of a hole. He turned to her.
"Babe, this is bad." She only nodded grimly.
"Rather than standing here risking our lives why not go back to your place Mr. Ambassador and fill everyone in. It isn't good news but we're gonna get killed out here!" Diesel yelled over the racket. Rimfire jumped away from a crater. "Sounds like a plan to me!" They rode back to the house at top speed. Filthy, ragged and completely exhausted the Peace Keepers staggered into the house.
"And now I have to vacuum the cave on top of everything else!" Carbine muttered in disgust.
"WHAT is going on out there?!" Lanka exclaimed. Airik's eyes grew big as saucers and she stifled a shriek, clamping her hand over her mouth. The kids all stared at the adults in shocked wonder. No one left Throttle in the floor this time. Everyone gathered as close together as they could. Throttle was quiet and grim.
"The Northwest desert is an old Plutarkian toxic waste dumping ground from back during the wars. Frequent sandstorms covered it up so no one knew until now. The chemicals they dumped were thought to be dormant but now they're soaking into the ground and reacting against each other causing violent explosions both underground and on the surface. The chemicals are traveling through the soil from the desert. If we don't find a way to neutralize these chemicals and fast the holes and craters will cause Mars to cave in on itself and blow up."

There was a moment of shocked silence from everybody else. Even Reve was quiet and Spark began to cry. Chance slept through everything but he wouldn't have understood the significance anyway.
"Blow up?" Rider began quietly. "As in explode? As in gone? As in were all dead!?" his voice rose with each question. Airik and Steel grasped hands. Brandie looked around at her family and friends and sank her top teeth into her bottom lip. Lazerfire put his arm around Spark. Reve snuggled closer to Rider and normally she would NEVER have done that but this time she was truly afraid. Vinnie Jr. even lost all cockiness and gave his big sister a hug.
"What are we going to do?" Harley whispered.
"The Peace Keepers are going to the Base." Kickstart answered her.
"Yeah," Modo continued. "We're going to play with some chemistry and try to neutralize those chemicals."
"How long do you have to find a solution?" Charley asked, her voice shaking. Rimfire sighed, Diesel and Carbine looked at each other, Centerline looked at Kickstart, Steel and Throttle then finally he answered.
"From the speed the chemicals are traveling through the ground, for as long as they've been there, and the speed in which they're cratering the ground it looks like just about one week." Everyone gasped and stared.
"One week?!" Lanka cried, aghast. Throttle looked at Charley.
"You and Airik need to to go on back to Earth." He ordered.
"Take Brandie with you, Sweetheart." Vinnie added.
"NO WAY!!" All three cried at once. Charley shot to her feet and gave Vinnie and Throttle an attitude she hadn't used with them in years.
"Look," She began, her voice icy, "You guys always tried to leave me out of the fight back on Earth. You discovered I was the Masked Motorcyclist and still kept me out of everything you could. I understand it was because you cared about me and you didn't want me getting hurt but I've proved myself several times over and we defeated the Plutarkians, I helped with that if you remember, I also helped rescue Amber and Zoe from Limburger's evil scheme, I came up with the plastic explosives that put an end to Limburger's island casino, I was the one who ended up blasting Rod Van Hamm back to size, need I go on? You guys can't keep me out of anything anymore and you know it! All my friends are right here and most of my family is too either directly or indirectly doesn't matter. Mars is like a second home for me and if you think I'm leaving now you're crazy! We're going to help save Mars," She paused and looked at Airik and Brandie "Or we'll die trying." Airik and Brandie nodded in hearty agreement.
"How could we go when the lives of our loved ones is in danger?" Airik asked. "What're we supposed to do? Sit on our butts waiting for the news announcement that some astronomer has witnessed the explosion of Mars and that part of our solar system is now cosmic dust?!" She squeezed Steel's hand so hard HE winced. "I am not leaving." Her voice was quiet and ominous.
"Airik is right!" Brandie piped up. "I'm 17 I'm not a little kid anymore. Almost everything I care about is HERE!" She motioned to everything she mentioned. "Brothers, Sisters, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, Dad, Mom, Mama, and my best friends-this is my HOME!" She ended in a dramatic whisper.
"Okay! Okay! You win!" Kickstart threw up his hands. "Mr Ambassador, what do we do with the stubborn young ladies?" Throttle looked around.
"Peace Keepers to the Base, Charley and Airik stay with us here, Vinnie, Harley, Brandie and Vinnie go on home, Vincent catch up with us a little later." Vinnie nodded. "Modo, Lazerfire you guys go home too. Modo catch up with us later. Spark, do you want to go home or spend the night with Reve?"
"I'd just as soon spend the night if I may Sir." She replied tearfully.
He nodded. "We'll meet at the Base in an hour." Everyone scattered. Steel hugged Airik before he left and Vinnie hugged Charley. Harley passed a sleeping Chance to Carbine and left. Brandie stopped partway out the door.
"Hey Dad?" Vinnie turned to look at her. "May I please stay for a while and talk to Airik? She's my sister and I hardly know her. I know my way home." Vinnie saw this was very important to his daughter.
"Sure Sweetheart." She hugged him. "Just don't be too long okay?" He admonished her. She smiled. As long as she was back by morning "too long" had no meaning.

As Brandie came back into the room, Throttle looked surprised.
"I thought you were going home Darlin'"
"Actually I'd like the chance to talk to Airik. She's my sister and I barely know her. Mama and Dad know I'm here. All Dad said was "Don't be too late." She giggled as she mimicked her father. Throttle chuckled despite the desperate situation.
"Ok, go ahead. We'll leave you alone." Reve and Spark went to Reve's room, Rider went to practice his guitar, Carbine put Chance on his bed and went to start supper and Charley went to help her. Throttle went to the garage. Airik patted the seat beside her on the couch. She was anxious to get to know her little sister. All they knew about each other was names. Brandie bounced down beside her, beaming.
"You start!" She prompted Airik, her eyes shining with interest.
"Okay, Mom adopted me when I just a little girl. My real mother abandoned me. I'm a gymnast and now I'm an athletic director at the academy where I went to school. I went away to college-I was gone when you were born then I got married and I have a baby girl. You had moved to Mars before I got married."
"I'm an Aunt?!" Brandie cried joyfully. Airik nodded. Then She continued.
"I met the Biker Mice when I was 14 years old. Every time I visited Mom I could count on something happening. It was never boring. We were forever being kidnapped by Stalkers, or Plutarkians or The Pit Boss or trying to break up some evil plot." She rolled her eyes, then dropped them and her whole expression changed. "Even with the Plutarkians defeated we still have problems with them." She shook her head. "Steel and I are very best friends. I love him like crazy, he's a wonderful guy. I used to visit Mars often but always to see Steel and Diesel and other friends before the guys came back and before you were born." Airik thought for a moment. "I guess that's all. Is there anything you want to know?"
Brandie looked thoughtful.
"Are you hooked on hotdogs and root beer too?" Airik laughed.
"Yes I am!"
"It's Daddy's fault!" Brandie sang cheerfully.
"And Throttle and Modo, Yup!" Airik agreed.
"Any pets?" Airik looked embarrassed. She leaned closer to Brandie and whispered, "We have 3 mice safe on top of the refrigerator and a cat!" Brandie clamped her hand over her mouth to stifle the giggles.
"Ok, my turn." Brandie began. "I'm 17 and I've lived on Mars for 7 years. I left for a visit before Joe was killed and then Mom asked Dad if I could stay here because the house had been destroyed and she had Shelly and Paul to worry about too. They didn't take it too well either. For a while they both blamed Uncle Throttle. Thanks to Dad I have phenomenal senses and also telekinetic and Pyrokinetic powers."
Airik's eyes grew wide as saucers.
"Really?" Brandie slipped off her bracelet and her sister watched in wide eyed amazement as she commanded it around the room.
"Wow!" She whispered, awed.
"I don't generally like to use them unless I have to though." Brandie replied, putting her bracelet back on. I'm lucky I learned to control them too because for a while we were worried I'd burn the house down. I kept setting things on fire." She grimaced. "If Mom and Dad's genetics hadn't meshed so well I probably would've looked REALLY weird!" She smiled brightly and continued. "Tracer is the one who helped me learn to control my powers so I wasn't dangerous. She had to go through some very similar problems so she and I have become very good friends." She grinned. "I'm also addicted to hotdogs and root beer and I have a goldfish named Gretta. I had her on Earth and she came with me. I stock up on fish food every time I go back." She gave Airik a mischievous smile. "Speaking of which..." She grabbed the phone. "Hi Mama," She answered the voice on the other end. "Could you PLEASE feed Gretta for me? Thanks. Love you too. Bye." She looked back at Airik almost apologetically. "Harley's my step-mom so I call her Mama." Airik nodded that was perfectly understandable. "anything else you's like to know now?" Brandie asked. Airik smiled and leaned close again in intrigue.
"Do you perhaps have a thing for Rider?" Brandie turned bright red.
"We have a thing for each other but...I don't know...right now we're just friends." She shrugged and put her hands up to her face. As those two got done talking Reve came out with Spark trailing behind her.
"Hey Brandie! Wanna run down to the store with Spark-n-me? We need more root beer." Airik rolled her eyes.
"Oh honestly!" She muttered, sounding just like her mother.
"I don't have my bike!" Brandie protested.
"You can ride with me." Spark offered.
"We can even stop by your house for yours!" Reve replied casually.
"Did you and Mom bring your bikes?" Brandie asked Airik.
"Of course!" Airik replied. Mine's the blue and white one outside. Mom's is the black and purple."
"Mine's black and blue." Reve added.
"Mine's black and pink." Spark put in.
"Mine's black, white, and gold." Brandie looked smug.
"Yours is sooooo cool!" Reve wrinkled her nose.
"But yours is smarter than mine." Brandie grinned back.
"I still say it was you and not your bike!" Reve teased.
"What are you talking about?" Airik asked looked from one girl to another.
"She had the silly thing in neutral and blames her bike." Reve answered.
"It WAS my bike!" Brandie protested, trying to hide a smile. She leaned over and hugged Airik. "I'll see you later sis. I should head on home when we get back with the root beer." Brandie, Spark and Reve ran out the door giggling simply because they were three girls being set free for a while. Airik was suddenly very tired and she sat back closing her eyes. Off in the distance she could hear the low rumble of the holes exploding in the ground. She was really scared. If this was happening on Earth the whole planet would be evacuated except for the army and maybe a chemist or two. Here no one would leave. Half the planet was made up of the Peace Keepers and the former Martian army anyway. All too stubborn, too proud to run away from the problem. "Just like us." She thought. From here her thought flew wild like startled bats. She thought of how during the Martian/Plutarkian wars most of the mouse population had been wiped out. Now however it was beginning to grow again. To thrive and prosper with the survivors and all their children. Mars had so much going for it. In her minds eye she had a horrible vision of Mars collapsing on itself, all her friends and family, a cacophony of terrified shouts, screams, cries and a devastating explosion......
"NO!" She screamed, jolting awake. Throttle, who had just come in, knew instinctively what she'd been dreaming about and sat beside her. He put his arm around her and she leaned against him for comfort. This was going to be a very LONG week.

The holes started exploding on Wednesday. It was now Saturday and no one was any closer to any solutions and tensions were running high. The kids were all withdrawn, Vinnie was unnaturally quiet, Throttle and Carbine seemed snippy with each other and Diesel and Kickstart were downright snappy. Tracer's shields were weakening due to lack of sleep and she wasn't able to resist the intruding emotions as well as she would like to have. She yelled at one or another on occasion to knock off the arguing. It was probably due to exhaustion and the tension that no one noticed anything else that might be odd as well.
Late that afternoon the security door to the base slid open. All the kids, Airik and Charley knew how to get in as did all the Peace Keepers and Former Army Officers. Hearing this door open, all ears perked up but no one thought too much of it. The voice on the other hand WAS a surprise.
"Could ya use anymore help?" A weary male voice asked. Heads whipped around.
"Kicker!" Diesel shrieked. She ran to her brother and threw her arms around him. Tracer gave her best friend a warm smile and a high five as she passed him. Chase and Streak followed closely.
"Nice to see you all again." Stoker greeted them cordially. Centerline hugged them all. Stoker gave Chase's tail an affectionate tug.
"Dad!" He protested, drawing dry chuckles from some of the mice around the lab.
"What brings you back to this corner of the planet?" Rimfire asked. Streak answered him.
"Since this started happening word has naturally spread across the planet. Being reserve Peace Keepers we decided it was our duty to come back and see what we could do to help. Anything we can do?" Her eyes rested last on Throttle. "Mr. Ambassador." She inclined her head toward him. "We'd like to save Mars as much as anybody else." Throttle looked around.
"I could use a hand over here." Modo replied. Chase went that way.
"I could use Kicker and Streak." Kickstart announced. That was all the welcome they could muster but no one expected anymore.
Throttle called a Peace Keepers conference that night. Everyone lounged in the living room, nodding and weary. They discussed what they'd already tried, what courses of action they should try next and who should do what. In a lull, Charley looked up at Airik.
"Are you okay Hon? You've been acting funny." Airik raised bloodshot eyes to her mother.
"I don't know. I haven't felt very well since Wednesday night. I was unusually tired and then Thursday and Friday I was dizzy and nauseous as well as tired and I've had a terrible headache all day today. Guess I'm probably coming down with something." She put her hand to her forehead as if testing for a fever. Steel handed her a root beer.
"Here baby, Soda helps settle your stomach." Airik took it but couldn't force herself to take a drink. As a dizzy spell came over her she moaned and doubled over in her chair. Brandie reached up and patted her sister's back. A worried frown creased her pretty face.
"I need to go to bed." Airik whispered weakly, struggling to her feet. Steel leapt up.
"Let me help you." He offered. She clung to him as he wrapped an arm around her waist. Suddenly her knees gave out and she collapsed, unconscious, in Steel's arms.
"Airik!" He gasped as he caught her limp form. "Airik!" He called to her again but she didn't answer.
Diesel raced to their side and checked the girl's pulse and breathing.
"She's simply fainted. I think she'll be okay." The other mice looked relieved. Diesel raked her hand through her pale hair. "I think we all need some rest. It's a wonder we haven't all passed out." Steel carried his best friend to her room and tucked her into bed.
"You'll be okay, love." He whispered and silently closed the door behind him. Everyone came back to Throttle's house in the morning to check on Airik. She was still asleep so they decided it was best not to wake her. By 5:00 that afternoon though she still hadn't woke up and Charley was very worried. Calling Diesel away from the base was not something she enjoyed doing but her daughter was just as important as the planet. As Diesel examined Airik her frown became deeper and deeper. Finally she stepped back from the bed with a bewildered look and an exasperated sigh. She put one hand on her head and the other on her hip.
"This is so weird!" She exclaimed, blinking her eyes and shaking her head. She turned to look at Charley who was standing in the corner out of the pretty white mouse's way.
"She's gone into a coma!" Diesels face became even more bewildered.
"We need an actual doctor she informed Charley who flew for the phone.


The stern looking dark brown mouse resettled his glasses on his nose and echoed Diesel's earlier sigh.
"There's not a thing the matter with this young woman!" He exclaimed.
"But doctor, she's in a COMA!" Diesel was so upset her antennas were quivering.
"I know that nurse,"He answered knowing Diesel was an RN, "But there's no reason for it that I can find."
"Y'know sis," Kicker broke the silence "Maybe it's simple exhaustion.
She's not used to all this, what with the stress of the planets possible destruction and all." He didn't look like he thought what he was saying amounted to much but it made as much sense as anything else.
"Think she'll come out of it on her own?" Stoker asked the doctor.
"She may-with time." He answered.
"Should anyone stay with her?" Harley asked.
"In case anything happens?" Lanka added. The Doctor shrugged.
"Someone could make periodical checks on her but I don't know as staying with her would make much difference."
Out in the other room the kids were gathered in a worried little huddle. Chance climbed into his sister's lap and she handed him to Brandie, Spark leaned on Lazerfire's shoulder and Rider and Vinnie half-heatedly picked on each other to hide their feelings. The adults came out of Airik's room.
"What's going on Mom?" Rider asked Carbine.
"The doctor says there's nothing wrong." Harley answered for her.
"She's in a COMA-how can nothing be wrong?" Reve asked through narrowed eyes. She tossed her long dark braid back over her shoulder. Rimfire knelt on one knee beside his little "cousin". He put a hand on her shoulder.
"She'll be okay Reve-Airik is a fighter you know that." Somehow his words comforted not only Reve but everyone else in earshot.
"First Mars, now Airik." Charley sighed. The stress was getting to her as well. Streak clapped her hands.
"Okay! Show's over! Back to work! If this planet explodes her well being won't matter much!"
"Charge." Chase said pointing for the door.
As the Peace Keepers got back to the base Stoker's eyes fell on a pair of field surveillance glasses. He picked them up and turned them over in his hands while looking around. He walked over to Carbine.
"General Carbine!" He addressed her. She turned surprised eyes on him. "I want you to take Lieutenant Centerline and Lieutenant Kickstart out to the Northwest desert with these," He handed them to her."Survey those craters again and see if you can find something the naked eye couldn't see. They may reveal some new solution to neutralizing those chemicals."
"Yes sir!" She saluted him. She called Centerline and Kickstart over and they headed for the desert. Stopping on the edge since the desert was essentially gone and stepping gingerly they put on the glasses and began to look around and examine the holes in the sand. As Kickstart gazed across the desert he watched a hole explode and a sort of steam rise from it-a gas. As he watched more holes explode he saw the same gas rise from each.
"General Carbine!" He yelled. "Watch the holes!" Now Carbine and Centerline saw it too. Carbine's jaw dropped.
"It's Linessogyn!" She cried.
"Linessogyn?!" Kickstart exclaimed "But that's....!"
"Toxic!" She finished. "That means Airik's been poisoned!"

Carbine, Kickstart and Centerline dashed back to the house at top speed, their bikes grinding in protest. Centerline's growled at him as he got off.
"Oh, stop it!" He reprimanded before heading inside. Carbine dashed past Lanka and Charley in the living room without a word. She pulled a small device from the closet and ran to Airik's room. Everyone else followed closely. She put the device under the bed and pushed a button. A mild hum filled the room as the light for a foot all around became a shade brighter-a force field.
"Ultra-sterilized isolation unit." Carbine announced.
"What is going on?!" Charley demanded. Carbine tried to explain.
"Stoker sent us out to the desert to re-examine those holes. We found, with these glasses, a gas being emitted from them-Linessogyn. Highly toxic, which means Airik has been poisoned."
"But why hasn't it affected any of us?" Lanka exclaimed.
"In the small amounts being released by those holes it wouldn't be enough to bother us but apparently Airik is extra-sensitive to it."
"you mean eventually it would've killed her?" Charley asked.
"Unfortunately, yes." Carbine answered matter-of-factly. Charley closed her eyes.
"She'll be okay now with that force field up. The gas can no longer get to her. The only problem now is bringing her out of that coma-if we can. She paused for a moment. "Back to base boys." Carbine explained the situation to everyone back at the base. This being Sunday time became tighter and tighter to get rid of these chemicals. Glad to have that mystery solved and knowing that she was isolated eased minds to a point-all but Steel's. He couldn't relax, couldn't concentrate on anything but Airik. Finally he went to Stoker.
"Commander, request permission to leave base." Stoker knew what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it.
"Go on Son." He granted permission. "You're more good to Airik there at the moment than you are here."
Monday afternoon found the Peace Keepers working frantically, Reve had been ordered to clean her room, Chance carrying on a long, involved conversation with one of his imaginary friends, Brandie getting help from Charley with her homework, spark waiting for Reve to get done and all the boys after school for a soccer game. After the game Lazerfire went home with Rider. Charley was in with Airik and Steel, Brandie was taking a nap, Reve was still cleaning her room, Rider went to practice leaving Spark alone in the room. She picked up Brandie's senior chemistry book and, being a science nut, began to thumb through it. Lazerfire wandered in. H noticed Spark looking absorbed in a book and decided not to bother her. What had caught Spark's attention was "LINESSOGYN" In big bold letters. What followed was a list of the chemicals that produced the gas, What created them, what caused them to explode and most exciting to Spark, what made them HARMLESS.
"Brandie had it under her nose the whole time and never even knew it!" She exclaimed in an awed whisper. She stared intently at the page.
Tracer was becoming excited. For once the equations were coming out right. All her chemical compositions were coming out correct as well. She hesitated to think she was another to think she'd found the solution. Three others had thought they'd had it and something had always gone wrong. What shored up her courage was tat no one was upset or angry if you ended up not having it. Every try was important.
"Two plus two equals four therefore yz equals four." She muttered as her last equation came out solid. She grabbed her beaker.
"Modo!" She called. "I think I've got it!"
"Great!" He congratulated her. "Come on over let's give it a try."
Tracer raced across the lab. Modo, Chase, Vinnie and Diesel had managed to collect a sample of the chemicals and kept them active and used as a test supplement. When neutralized these chemicals would literally become water. Contaminated naturally but water. Now everyone knew waters chemical composition was H2O but how to turn these into things as innocent as hydrogen and oxygen seemed impossible. Vinnie gently emptied a small amount of their sample into a beaker and put that in a holder. Holding her beaker with tongs as a safety precaution Tracer carefully dribbled her compound into the sample. Everyone crowded around to watch and held their breaths. for a moment nothing happened then BANG! Everyone jumped or gave a cry of shock as a violent explosion shook the lab and a black scorch now decorated the ceiling above the work table.
"Drat." Carbine stated flatly. Tracer hung her head in embarrassment and disappointment. Her cheeks became a shade redder than her fur.
"Guess I don't got it." She murmured.
"Don't worry about it." Throttle and Centerline comforted her.
"Back to work!" Kicker sighed.
"Lazer!" Spark squealed. "Come here! Come here! Look! Quick!" She motioned him to her bouncing in her seat the entire time. she jabbed her finger at the page when Lazerfire looked over her shoulder. "Look! Look! Look!" She continued to squeal. Lazerfire scanned the page.
"Hey That's...!" He began but she interrupted him.
"That's right! That's right!" She nodded vigorously. "It's exactly what we've been looking for!" She was still squealing and she jumped up and threw her arms around the shy mouse.
"Let's ride!" She cried, her eyes shining. She grabbed the textbook with one hand, Lazer's wrist with the other and dragging him out the door behind her they dashed off on their bikes without a word to anyone.


Spark and Lazerfire burst through the lab door yelling the whole way.
"Dad!" Lazer yelled, "Dad!"
"Mr. Ambassador! General Carbine! Commander Stoker!" Spark screamed at the same time. Centerline knelt in front of Spark and put his hands on the little mouse's shoulders.
"Calm down Spark honey, what's wrong?" Others crowded around. Spark pulled away.
"Nothing's wrong! Everything is wonderful!" She slammed the book down on a nearby table. "Look! Look! Look!" She shouted gleefully. She began to read the text aloud while the adults read over her shoulder.
"....thereby turning those chemicals into H2O, the same chemical composition as WATER!" She finished triumphantly and slammed her hands down on the book. There was a moment of silence as everyone comprehended what this meant. Then Centerline scooped her up-hugging her tightly.
"You ingenious little kid you!" He exclaimed. Everyone started cheering and hugging each other as they realized the planet was safe or soon would be.
"Okay we all know what to do now so let's move, Move, MOVE!" Carbine ordered. She couldn't keep the smile off her face. Everyone rushed to make the correct formula now. Helping each other, heating and cooling, adding, measuring, calculating the elements, figuring out exactly how much would be needed to counteract all the damage that was already done. Streak brought the finished product to Modo. As they poured it into the beaker with the sample chemicals they watched as it bubbled for a few seconds then cooled and cleared into plain and simple water. However as they watched there was another effect taking place. The water became a hard black substance in the beaker-almost like tar. A substance that would rebuild the land from the inside out and fill the holes to some extent. This just got better and better. Spark and Lazer happily skipped around the lab as if supervising until everyone was finished. Lazer stopped Spark in a corner.
"You saved Mars." He told her shyly, blushing.
"Not by myself. i only assisted." She corrected him.
"Still," He continued taking her hands, "Without you I don't think we would have made it." Now it was Spark's turn to blush. "After tonight we'll all be resting a lot easier. The only problem now will be bringing Airik out of her Linessogyn induced coma. I heard Kicker and Aunt Lanka discussing the situation. It seems they're hoping with her in isolation that the gas will work it's way out of her system and her body will purify itself and she'll wake up naturally." Lazer explained. Spark nodded. That made sense if it worked. Within a n hour or so they had gallons of the compound that would save the planet and they took off for the desert. Throttle, Modo, Vinnie and Carbine each took two gallons and began dumping them into the biggest holes. Centerline and Tracer kept passing containers onto those doing the dumping. As it fused with the Plutarkian chemicals the explosions stopped. The silence was almost deafening. it traveled quickly following the same path. It hardened and built up the ground from the inside out. It filled the holes to a point and Diesel experimentally kicked sand into one of the holes, completely obliterating it. Kickstart noticed.
"Hey! Awesome!" He kicked sand into a hole too. "Check it out!" He exclaimed happily. He showed the kids who thought it was great and ran around kicking sand into the holes as fast as they could. Others helped as well. As the desert suddenly reappeared before their eyes many pairs of those eyes glistened with unshed tears. Lazer hugged Spark tightly.
"You've saved more than our lives, beautiful," He told her becoming brave for a rare moment, "You've saved our planet." With much cheering and fanfare everyone arrived back at Throttle and Carbine's. Spark put Brandie's book back where it had been as if it had never moved. She snuck off around the corner. She heard Lazerfire and Throttle praising her. Yeah ok, she'd found the formula but without those working in the lab it wouldn't have done her any good. As far as she could see, saving Mars was a joint effort. Harley, Lanka, Brandie and Steel all came to see what all the commotion was about. Everyone started cheering and hugging each other again, Just like back at the lab.
"Now all we have to do is help Airik." Steel replied quietly. Everyone fell silent. Their home was safe but their happiness wasn't complete.
Airik had been unconscious for three days now. Someone had been with her almost constantly. Either Charley or one of her aunts or her sister and Steel. Always Steel. Holding her hand through the force field and talking to her. He told her now how the planet was safe and now all they needed was for her to come back to them. He begged her to come back them. A single tear ran down his cheek.
"Come on Baby," He coaxed "Your family needs you." He paused, "I need you." He kissed two fingers and touched them to her lips. He was so tired. He hung his head and closed his eyes. After a few moments Airik blinked against the bright light, wet her dry lips and tried to swallow. She noticed the sad looking mouse by her side.
"Steel?" She murmured. His head snapped up.
"Airik! You're awake!" He dove for the control box and snapped it off.
He took her into his arms, cuddling her. "How're you feeling baby?" He asked her. She smiled weakly.
"I'd kill for a root beer." He laughed gently and hugged her tighter. He knew he should go get the others but he wanted her all to himself for a moment.
"Steel!"She suddenly gasped, clutching his arm.
"What?!" He turned startled pink eyes on her.
"What day is it?! What about the planet?!" She gazed at her best friend through terror filled eyes. Steel was quick to reassure her.
"Oh, oh baby it's Tuesday evening and everything is fine." He related to her how Spark had found the answer in Brandie's Chemistry book and had brought it to the base and they took the compound to the desert. He chuckled warmly. "Of course you're getting all this second hand cause I wasn't really there."
"Where were you?"
"Here with you Pretty Lady."
"You were here with me the whole time?" She was touched. He nodded.
"What happened to me?" He told her how the gas had affected her very strongly and had poisoned her. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "How long have I been out?"
"Three days."
"Oh, ICK!" She made a face. Steel raised his eyebrows at her in question. "I've been in the same clothes, without a shower, for THREE days!" She explained, squeezing her eyes shut and sticking out her tongue. He laughed again.
"Okay, tell you what gorgeous, let me tell everyone else that you're awake, let us feed you then you can shower and change. In fact I'll take you out to everyone." He scooped her up.
"Steel, I could walk." She protested. He shrugged good naturedly.
"So can I." He teased her. She giggled and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Look who's come back to the land of the living!" He announced coming out to the living room with the young lady in his arms. As Steel deposited her on the sofa she was instantly surrounded. Hugs, questions, and comments flew and she fielded then as best as she could. Things she didn't know others seemed able to answer for her. Brandie presented a plate of hotdogs and a bottle of root beer to her like an offering then, giggling, bowed and stepped back like a humble servant. Airik continued to talk while she ate. Rimfire and Rider grabbed Steel to help them fix a couple flats. Steel kissed the top of her head before they left.
Things slowly went back to normal. The planet was safe and Airik was awake. Charley sighed. The last day or so here would feel more like the vacations she was used to rather than the adventure this had been. Vinnie came up behind her and flung an arm around her shoulders.
"It's not just a job-it's an adventure!" He said with a smile. She giggled. "There! That's what I was looking for."
When the boys came back Airik was in the shower. Steel flopped down and looked around. After a few minutes he asked, "Where's Airik?" She snuck up behind him in a terry cloth robe, her hair still damp and flirtatiously wrapped her arms around his shoulders.
"Hey, you motorcycle mouse hunk-be ready in two seconds!" She cooed in his ear, her voice sexy.
"Take your time babe!" He sighed closing his eyes. Everyone laughed while Airik giggled and ran to get dressed.
"Who's up for the Hotdog Shack?" Rider asked. The entire group agreed.
"Sort of a celebration!" Tracer grinned.
"Hey babe!" Vinnie Jr. called to Spark, "Room for two on my bike!"
"Yeah," She giggled, "You and your ego!" She climbed on with Lazerfire leaving her own bike behind for once.
"Why do women keep telling us that?" Vinnie asked no one in particular.
The kids all laughed and took off at top speed. Carbine shook her head.
"Nobody ever reminded me not to have kids." The rest of the Peace Keepers and Army officials laughed at her as she sped off after the kids. Airik, riding her own bike, looked around. So much had happened here, So many tender feelings, Nothing had happened the way she'd thought, but then on Mars, with this group, nothing ever did anyway.


Charley and Airik arrived back on Earth late Wednesday. It seemed it got harder and harder to leave every time they had to. Airik hugged Steel.
"I'll miss you." He told her, his voice husky.
"Hey, I'll be back, someday." He chuckled at this.
"Soon, I hope." And his smile softened. "I'll be waiting." He kissed the top of her head and sent her toward Charley.
"Be careful Mom. Be careful sis." Brandie admonished them with hugs.
"Airik, Charley-girl," Throttle got their attention and gave them a thumbs up sign. It was like this every time, blink rapidly, bite your tongue and TRY to smile.

Airik soon realized it was getting too dark to do anymore. She stood up from her flower bed and brushed off her hands. Hooking her thumbs in her pockets she wandered to the center of the driveway feeling melancholy. She looked at the sky and had to smile. From her old astronomy class she knew the placement of all the planets and all the constellations and the stars were just beginning to show. One shined at her with friendly brilliance-brighter than the rest. It was Mars. A surprising, ever changing planet that she would always hold close to her heart.