This fic was created from the minds and imaginations of Rogue, Blaze, Jelena, Gangland Elf King, Throttle2, and Vinnie vanWham. We don't own the Biker Mice from Mars, and we won't be making any money off of this. We just wanted y'all to see what we could come up with. *Grins* So this is it, huh, folks?

Tail Whippin' in the Kingdom of Apokrypha

by Rogue,Blaze, Jelena, Gangland Elf King, Throttle2 and Vinnie Van Wham

In the Kingdom of Apokrypha, two young women were out enjoying a wonderful afternoon ride on their twin black stallions bare-backed.

Rogue rode Lockheed, a huge, muscular stallion that had been sired by the very wind itself, making him the fastest runner in Apokrypha. Blaze rode Raven, her huge, muscular charger who could speak telempathically with her.
Rogue grinned at her friend and laughed delightedly as she shook her head, her hair hanging wild and loose down her back. "This feels great, Heart Twin Sister! I haven't felt this good in ages!"
Blaze laughed along with her. "Glad to hear it, HTS! Ya certainly needed it!"
Rogue was about to reply when the horses suddenly stopped short, rearing and shrieking and snorting.
"What the --?! What's gotten into you two?!" Blaze gasped.
Frowning, Rogue quieted Lockheed and said, "Hold `em up! They got wind o' somethin' they don't like!"
The two women raised their heads and sniffed the air, their noses wrinkling as they caught a faint stench.
"Ewwww, yeah! If I didn't know better, I'd SWEAR that stench was Plutarkian!" Blaze said.
"Not just ANY Plutarkian, either," Rogue added as she unholstered her blaster.
"Huh? Who do you --" Blaze started to reply, and then her eyes went blank for a moment. Rogue waited, recognizing the signs of a Blaze/Raven exchange, and then Blaze's gaze hardened and she whipped out her own blaster as she growled, "LIMBURGER." Then she issued a silent command to Raven and they went charging off toward a mildly distant hill.
Rogue sighed and shook her head, grinning as she said, "Ah sense a new perfume in the offin', Lock: `Blaze in Snork Mode - The New Spring Essence'!" Then she gave the whistle to charge and Lockheed leaped forward and they raced down the hill next to their friends and saw the massed goons and digging machines at the bottom, and Limburger off to the side.
"MURDERER!!!" Blaze roared. The assembled group of invaders looked up to see the Martian and Terran females charging on them. "YOU KILLED MY MOTHER, DESTROYED MY FAMILY, AND SENT MACE AFTER ME! YOU AREN'T GETTING AWAY WITH THAT!!!"
Rogue grinned darkly and yelled out, "Get set t' do the Downtown Stomp! `Cause we're baaa-AA-aack!! Two bad, BEAUTIFUL babes, with REALLY BIG GUNS!!!"
Then they began to fire on the invaders.

* * *

Meanwhile, four other people suddenly found themselves players of this new game.

Gangland Elf King - otherwise known as Rocco - had been talking with Throttle and Vinnie when the vibrations of the battle slammed into his psyche. He jerked back, his eyes flaring wide for a moment.
"Uh . . . Rocco?" Throttle asked, concerned.
Vinnie merely waited. He wasn't about to admit that he was concerned, too.
Rocco got himself under control and his eyes narrowed as rage coursed through him. Ignoring the two Biker Mice for the moment, he turned and roared, "MARTY!!!"
When the manservant appeared a few seconds later, he snapped, "Ready me chargar Bronwyn! Thar's a hellacious battle starrin' up Narth!"
Marty disappeared promptly as Vinnie grinned wickedly and flexed his muscles as he said, "Battle, eh? Is this studly warrior mouse gonna be gettin' a workout in a few?"
Rocco adjusted his broadsword, Serpentarius, and growled, "`Tis the stinkfish Plutarkians, come te steal me land! An' the lassies Blaze an' Rogue be battlin' `em!"
"Blaze?!" Throttle grunted.
"My number one Rogue babe?!" Vinnie gasped.
"PLUTARKIANS?!" they both demanded, then revved the engines on their motorcycles, their blood heating in anger and preparation for a fight.
At that moment, Marty led Bronwyn into the courtyard, saddled and ready. Rocco vaulted into the saddle and went charging out of the courtyard as he bellowed, "Follow me, lads!"
"Right behind ya!" Throttle snapped. "Let's Rock --!"
"AND RIDE!!" Vinnie added, and they roared off after Rocco.

* * *

Jelena felt that weird tingle along the edges of her pinkie fingers that meant trouble was brewing.

She looked up from the piano she'd been playing music on and a softly glowing gold dimensional portal opened up fivefeet in front of her.
She sighed as she recognized the energy signature. Closing up the piano and quickly packing away the sheet music, she then stepped into the portal into the Kingdom of Apokrypha, prepared to aid Gangland Elf King however she could.

* * * * *

"DAMN those interfering insects!"

Limburger growled his rage as he watched the two women lay waste to his machines and his goon army, especially the white Martian female with the black hair who seemed to have a real attitude against him.
"I thought that at least HERE I would be able to dig up mass quantities of land for Plutark without the ever-cloying irritation of those renegade rodents! Apparently, I was wrong for once in my oh, so long ago, hatched life. Fortunately, I did make `arrangements', as it were, just in case interference SHOULD occur . . ."

* * *

Blaze and Rogue leaped from their mounts and took the battle on foot, prefering to get down an' dirty.

Rogue could see how driven her HTS was, focused in single-minded deadly rage on getting to Limburger. Rogue punched and kicked goons as they came at her, shooting the blasters out of their hands. She followed Blaze, protecting her HTS's back, allowing her the freedom to concentrate totally on Limburger.

"LIMBURGER!!!" Blaze roared as she smashed through the goons attacking her as though they were wheat stalks. "YOU DESTROYED MY FAMILY!! YOU'VE CAUSED TOO MUCH PAIN AND SUFFERING!! IT'S _YOUR_ TURN NOW!!!"
Blaze was vaguely aware of the fact that she was leaving her back open to attack, then dismissed that thought instantaneously. She had absolute faith that Rogue would look out for her. Counting on her HTS to watch her back in the heat of battle was as easy as breathing.
Suddenly, there came three ear-splitting, soul-chilling, enraged male howls, and everyone stopped and looked up to see Rocco, Throttle, and Vinnie bearing down on them.
As they watched, the Elf King raised his hands and chanted. A golden glow surrounded him, and then the ground opened beneath the digging machines and swallowed them. Then the Elf King leaped off of Bronwyn, sending her to safety, while he himself charged into the heart of the fray, swinging Serpentarius with feverish strength.
"Ye'll not be stealin' me land, swamp rat! `Efore this day be done, ye'll larn th' errar o' yer thievin' ways!" he bellowed, and cracked the flat of the blade across the jaw of a goon.
"AAOOOOOWWWWW!!!" Vinnie screeched wildly, and drove the bike into a pile of goons, scattering them in twenty different directions as he rode over to Rogue. He grinned arrogantly at her as he stopped next to her and said, "Hey, sweetheart! Your #1 Mouse is here! I'll protect ya, baby!"
After punching one goon in the throat, then kicking another in the chest, and another goon in the groin, she turned to Vinnie, grinning, and winked as she said, "O' course ya're, Handsome. But just how d' ya plan t' do THAT??"
He grinned back, then grabbed her around the waist and pulled her close to him, then fired his rockets and took to the air briefly to avoid being crunched by the numerous goon-driven dune buggies that had been closing in on them. He tossed a grenade into their midst as he and Rogue set down a few hundred yards away.
As they watched the explosion and the goons flying off in ungainly sprawls, he smiled at her and said, "Like THAT, babe. Good enough for ya??"
Rogue only laughed and hugged him.

* * *

Throttle and Rocco exchanged a quiet glance and took up their positions.

Rocco would guard Throttle's back while Throttle guarded Blaze's as she made her way to Limburger.
He watched Blaze's progress, alternately marvelling and shivering at the impressive level her rage had reached.
Then he concentrated on disarming goons.

* * *

Jelena appeared some yards away from the battle.

She was dressed in a tunic, leather breechs, boots, and a vest, and her short sword was strapped to her back.
She unsheathed her sharp pointy and ran down to the outskirts of the battle and began to pick off the goons with the sword and her black belt karateka skills. With her joining into the fight, the Good Guys really began to decimate the goons.
"Hey, all right!! Another babe!! It's Jelena!!" Vinnie laughed happily. Then he flexed his muscles and commented, "All the more to admire my studly body, thank me very much."
"Pfuh!" Rogue snorted, grinning as she waded into more fights to beat crap out of goons. She saw a dune buggy driving up on Rocco's blind side behind him, and she called out, "Rocco! Backlift Move 24!"
Without looking, the Elf King swung Serpentarius behind him and caught the dune buggy's front fender, sending the goon flying fifteen feet to land in a hard crash. Rocco grinned at her briefly, then continued with his own work. Rogue grinned as she caught muttered phrases of "fishstick batter" and "swamp rat stew" in his distinct accent. Then she turned and saw the goons approaching Vinnie from his other side.
"Vinnie! Cannonball Manuever 6!" she called out.
He had seen the goons as well, and so he snapped back with a grin, "No, number seven, number seven! I look so COOL in that one!"
She shrugged, grinning, and gave a harsh back kick to a goon in the chest as she replied, "Okay, number seven."
With a wild yell, Vinnie revved his engine, then popped a wheelie and spun around quickly, letting the centrifugal force catapult him towards the goons. He flipped end over end, then straightened out and crashed into the goons feet first, slamming them out of the dune buggies. Then his bike fired its cannons and the buggies were decimated.
Suddenly, however, they became aware of Blaze's enraged howl, and they looked over to see her racing flat out toward a purple helicopter, Limburger's personal air conveyance. It lifted into the air and slowly turned and moved off over the countryside.
"NO!!" Blaze roared. "YOU AREN'T GETTING AWAY FROM ME THAT EASILY, JERKWEED!!!" She whistled sharply for Raven and the horse galloped up and she leaped on and took off after the helicopter.
Immediately, Rogue whistled for Lockheed, Rocco whistled for Bronwyn, and the two mice leaped onto their motorcycles as the two horse riders vaulted onto their mounts' backs.
"REGROUP!! ALL UNITS, FORM ON BLAZE!!!" Rogue bellowed.
Jelena ran and leaped onto the back of Vinnie's motorcycle and hung on tight to him as they all raced after their friend.
"Rocco an' Ah will flank `er!" Rogue shouted. "Throttle, Vinnie, Jelena! Guard our backs as only ya'lls can!!"
"You got it, babe!" Throttle called out.
"Roger wilco!" Vinnie yelled.
"Got it, Sis!" Jelena shouted.
"Aye, lass!" Rocco bellowed.
"LET'S MOVE!!!" she roared. "Throttle, Vincent, switch to sidewinders! Rocco, left 50! Jelena, drop 1-2-0 --"
"1-2-0," she replied, and tossed out a few grenades behind them, which delayed the goons attempting to follow them, as planned.
"He's all mine!!" Blaze shouted back to them.
"Aye, lass, that he be, but allow me te bring `im down te AR playin' level!" Rocco called back, and he began chanting again. A moment later, there came a thoroughly drenching, blinding downpour. "Thar! He'll nae be able te fly in THA' mess!"
And it was true; the helicopter was already having difficulties, and was weaving closer and closer to the ground. They were soon riding along beneath it.
"Blaze! You're red and free; sweet tone, girly-girl, take yer best shot!!" Rogue called out.
Blaze said nothing, just gathered her energy together, and hurled a bolt of lightning at the helicopter. It created a gaping, sparking hole in the side.
"Lateral stabilizers are shot!" Rogue called out, and then flames shot out the side of it.
"Blaze!" Throttle yelled. "Use your pyrokinetics! Control the flames to eat the wing cables!!"
She did so, and soon the helicopter was very definitely crashing to the ground. As they approached, they saw Limburger tear his way from the wreckage and begin to run. Blaze let out a savage snarl and leaped off of Raven and ran after him, running low to the ground and tackling him off his feet.
When the others stopped nearby and got off their differing modes of transportation, they found Limburger sprawled on the ground, lifted partway up by the strong, determined grip Blaze had on his suit jacket. They ranged themselves around the two and listened to what was said.
"You miserable muskrat!! I'll have your furry hide for this --" Limburger began to snarl, and then gasped as all the air was forced out of his lungs by a strong punch to his kidneys from Blaze.
"Cram it, fatboy!" she snarled. "You won't have anythin' by the time I'm through with you!"
Limburger got his breath back and then smiled hideously at her in an evil grin. "Ah, but my dear, demented doormouse, are you so certain you will have TIME to do anything to me??"
"What're you talkin' about??" Throttle growled.
Limburger glanced at them all, self-satisfaction very evident on his features as he said, "Why, I'm talking about the BOMB I have planted in this very kingdom. It is set to go off in two hours, give or take."
Rocco's voice shattered the countryside. "Ye WHAT???!!!" he roared. He stepped forward, Serpentarius held threateningly, ready to gullet the fish, but Throttle held him back. He glared furiously at the mouse, then turned his hard, cold gaze on Limburger. "If'n ye donna tell me WILLIN'LY whar ye planted a bomb on MY proparty, swamp rat, ye'll not like m' method o' extraction!!"
"Oh, I sincerely doubt you'll do anything, you freaky little gnome," Limburger stated. "After all, you need me to tell you how to deactivate it."
"That's where you're wrong, Fishface," Blaze growled down at him, her blue eyes shining like fire. "I can deactivate ANY bomb that's ever been created. THAT won't be a problem."
"GNOME????" Rocco hissed, his eyes narrowing even farther.
"Cram it, Rocco!" Blaze snapped. She pinned Limburger with a hard glare. "And when I get back from findin' that bomb, you an' I are gonna have a lil' `talk' about how you KILLED MY MOTHER!!!!"
"There's nothing to talk about, my squerilous squirrel. I can tell you everything: the way she screamed so loudly while I was killing her, and how I enjoyed those most pleasing sounds --"
"WHY YOU --" Blaze began, and drew back a fist to pound his face into pate.
That's when Rogue caught the glint of sunlight off of metal from some nearby boulders. She looked and saw a sniper taking aim with a laser rifle. She knew there was time enough for only one course of action, and she never hesitated.
"BLAZE!!! LOOK OUT!!!!" she screamed, and threw herself in front of her HTS, taking the brunt of the blast on her back.
Rogue screamed as her back was shredded, and she crumpled to the ground while everyone stared in horror.
"NOOOOOOO!!!!! ROOOOOGUUUUUEEEEE!!!!!" Blaze screamed, and was already turning toward the sniper to end it when someone interrupted.
"YE'LL PAY FAR THAT!!!" Rocco roared, and he swept his arm forward, and Serpentarius went whistling end over end and was embedded into the goon, lifting the goon up and back and pinning him to the boulder behind him like a grotesque wall hanging.
Everyone except Vinnie gathered around Rogue as Jelena gently turned her onto her side so they could see her face. Vinnie took a long, long chain from his bike, and he wrapped it excruciatingly tight around Limburger's body, ending with his ankles, then rammed the end of the chain into the ground. When he stood again, his eyes were deadly serious, and totally cold.
"Say one word and I'll kill you," he growled, then turned away to see to Rogue.
Limburger gulped and decided to keep his mouth shut.
"Rogue??" Blaze whispered, trembling. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she whispered, "My fault; it was all my fault. I should've seen it, I should've taken the hit! I should be the one lying there, not you! Why, Rogue?! Why didn't you let me take the hit?!"
"The needs of the many . . ." Rogue whispered softly, and they watched her eyes open up. "Outweigh the needs of the few. Last time ah looked, ah was only one person with only a few skills. Ya got more'n ah do, an' ya know how t' use it. The universe needs more o' you than it does me." Then her gaze shifted to Jelena. "First and second degree burns, cracked ribs, and a severe shock t' mah system. Think yer healin' abilities can work with that??"
Jelena nodded firmly and said, "Sister, they can work with ANYTHING, let alone you. And they're gonna work on you good and proper!!"
Rogue smiled slightly, then looked to Rocco. "What's the least place ye'd expect a bomb, m'lord?" she asked, using her Scottish brogue, so he'd have an easier time understanding her. "Where's the verra last place a bomb would be placed in yer kingdom??"
Rocco looked blank for just a fraction of a second, and then his eyes widened and he smiled grimly as he looked down at her.
"The swamplands," they both said at the same time.
Suddenly, Blaze stood. "I'm going alone," she announced. "Don't wait up." And with that, she ran for Raven, vaulted on, and took off South.
"BLAZE!!!" Rocco roared. "Come back here, gel!! Ye donna know me land th' way I do!! Ye'll get yerself killed fer sure!!" He watched Blaze ride off, either ignoring him or not hearing him, and he muttered under his breath, "Women . . . they're th' same e'erywhar . . ." Then he whistled for Bronwyn and when she came to him, he leaped onto her and took off as he shouted, "That lass'll be the death o' me yet!!!!" He stopped long enough to collect Serpentarius, and then he was gone after Blaze.
"I'm goin' with `em!!" Throttle declared, and started for his bike.
"Throttle, no!!" Rogue cried out, and he stopped totally still and listened as she continued. "Jelena an' ah need you an' Vinnie here t' protect us while she works her healin' and ah take it, okay??"
For a split second, Vinnie thought his bro would totally rebel. But then Throttle seemed to slump slightly, and he came back to them and stood over the two women. "Okay," he said quietly. "What do I need to do?"
"Just keep a watch out for bad guys, sugah," she replied tiredly, her head laying limply in the grass.
"Hey, sweetheart, don't forget about your studly #1 mouse! I told ya I'd protect ya, and I mean it!!" Vinnie said, flexing his muscles.
She smiled slightly, the only response she could give at the moment.
Jelena looked down at her heart sister and said, "Dear Heart, this is going to hurt. I'm sorry, but there's no way to avoid it."
"S'okay, Dear Heart, do what ya gotta . . ." Rogue whispered.
Closing her eyes and whispering a prayer for strength, Jelena set her hands to Rogue's back and her hands began to glow. The glow was transferred to Rogue's back as the energy flowed into her and began to heal.
Rogue let out a deep, horrid groan. "Ya werena kiddin', J," she groaned. Then she couldn't keep back her cry of pain.

* * * * *


Rocco shouted as loud as he could over the wind that blew past him fiercely to the young female Mouse ahead of him.
She heard him, and she turned back slightly to shout over her shoulder at him, "Leave me alone!!! Let me do this!!! I have to go alone!!! I have to make it up to Rogue!!! It's my fault she got shot!!! I should've taken the hit!!! Leave me alone, Rocco!!! This isn't your fight!!! It was MY Heart Twin Sister that was shot!!! Go away!!!"
He bared his teeth in a snarl and shouted ahead, "`Tis e'erybody's fight, lass!!! E'erybody's!!! We ALL care for Rogue, not just you!!!! Blaze, lass, ye donna know whar ye're goin'!!!! Ye donna know the lay o' me land as well as I do!!! Ye'll get yarself killed!!!! Let me go with ye!!!"
"NO!!!!" she roared back, and then he lost sight of her as she turned away from him, ignoring him, and entered the Black Forest, in the center of which were the swamps in which the bomb was most likely located.
His head pounding with an intensity that would shame a drum, he charged after her, whispering, "Dear God, nae . . . please, donna let me be te late!!!!"

* * * * *

The two Biker Mice stared stonily at the sky as the last of Rogue's scream drained away.

When they finally looked back, they saw that her back was once again whole, unscathed except for a thin white line running down the length of it on her left side.
"All right, sweetheart!! Ya did it!!" Vinnie crowed.
"Not quite totally," Jelena replied tiredly.
"Whaddya mean??" Throttle asked.
"It's like she said, that was a severe shock to her system. She's still tired, and her energy levels are way down. Her strength isn't that hot, either."
Throttle's frown deepened even further, and Vinnie turned away, his tail lashing savagely, and started to walk off. He stopped and stared a long, intense moment at Limburger, causing the Plutarkian to sweat freely, and then Vinnie turned again and stalked off a ways from the others. He headed over to the boulders to look at the dead goon that Rocco had slaughtered in his rage.
Two seconds later, he found himself grabbed by a dozen small hands and looking at dirt-covered, small creatures that were uglier than sin, all gibbering at him in barely intelligible English. He struggled to break free, but they had cuffed him with some sort of metal that bonded itself to him and moved as he moved, always unbroken.
Then he found himself being pulled under the ground, through the dirt, and he nearly lacerated his vocal cords as he let out a muffled scream of rage and adrenaline, knowing that his bro's sensitive ears would pick it up.
Then he was gone, pulled beneath the soil.

* * *

Throttle heard the scream, and he stood up off of his bike, where he'd been sitting.

"I heard somethin'. I'll go check it out. If somethin' happens, shout, okay??" he said to Jelena. Rogue was awake, but still recovering.
Jelena nodded. "Will do, Throttle," she promised, and he nodded and turned and walked off in the direction the scream had come from.
He took his time, searching the ground for clues, following Vinnie's footprints. When he arrived at the dead goon, he found many little mounds of dirt, and one large one, like the soil had been tilled over recently. And he saw signs of a scuffle. His Martian Mouse sense on high, he knew, without a doubt, that Vinnie had been Mouse-napped and dragged under the soil by other creatures.
Turning, he bolted back to the women. He found Rogue sitting up. He knelt next to her and said, "Rogue? Vinnie's just been kidnapped. Are you strong enough to do a search with me?"
Jelena glared at him and put her arm protectively around her heart sister. "No way, Throttle! She's still too weak to go galavanting off on a search and rescue mission like this!!"
"Jelena, leave that decision up to her! Rogue . . ?" he said, turning his gaze upon the young, striped woman.
Rogue sighed and then started wearily to her feet. Once she was standing, she smiled at them and said, "Ready when you are, Throttle! Jelena . . . " She turned to her fulminating heart sister. "Dear Heart, ah want you to attach the end of Limburger's chain to Lockheed somehow and drag that Fin Fanny back to Rocco's castle. Make sure ya drag him over some ROUGH bumps and plenty o' SHARP rocks, got it?? But don't do any permanent damage; save that for Blaze."
"Waitaminute! Why're you sending ME?? I'm stronger than YOU are at the moment!! I oughtta go with Throttle to look for Vinnie!" Jelena demanded.
"Think about what ya just said, sugah," Rogue replied. "You're stronger than me at the moment; which means that you can control Limburger if'n he tries something. Also, you're a healer, an' ah'm not. Blaze is most likely going to need you runnin' at one hundred percent by the time she gets back. Hells' Bells, we're ALL prob'ly gonna need you're skills when we all get back. Third, Lockheed needs some food and rest, and he can get those at Rocco's castle. Now, will ya please do as ah ask an' save me some worry??"
Jelena sighed. "What is it with you people always wantin' to get me on a horse . . ." she grumbled. Then she suddenly hugged Rogue hard. "You take care of yourself, Dear Heart."
"Ah will. You do the same, dearest," Rogue replied softly.
Jelena just nodded, then dug up the end of Limburger's chain, looped it around Lockheed's chest and shoulders, and then leaped on and took off, her legs clamped tight around him, bent low over his neck as she clutched hard at his mane.
"C'mon, Rogue, let's go! We gotta find Vinnie!" Throttle said.
She sighed and straddled his bike behind him and hung on tight as he roared off on his motorcycle. She rested her head on his back as she shouted, "Can you track him with your sensors?? What about your Mouse sense??"
"No can do," he called back over his shoulder, his tail wrapped around her waist for added safety. "He wasn't on his motorcycle and I can't pick up any trace of him. It's like his mind has been shut off somehow."
Rogue grinned and refrained from the obvious pun and then said, "What other clues did you find? Did you find any?"
"Yeah. It looks as though he were dragged under ground by lots of tiny people, like maybe six of them."
"Hmmm . . . they'd have to be STRONG, too, in order to keep him captured and quiet while he's still awake. But that's another theory: he's either unconscious, or his mind is being blocked somehow. Now, the only place that ah know of in this kingdom that can do somethin' like that is a range of caves not too far from here, an' they're laced with verteron particles, a natural substance that can jam mental airwaves pretty darned good."
"Well, that's a start. But it doesn't tell us WHO grabbed him, and WHY," Throttle pointed out.
"No, but we can ask Rocco. He ought to know, and if he's still within range of us, he can tell us."
"How? You're not a telepath, and I have to be touchin' somebody with my antennaes to make a mind-to-mind transfer."
"True, but if'n ah just think real loud, he'll be able t' hear it. We got a sort o' bond goin', like we're brother an' sister, sorta . . ." she said, and then she thought Rocco's name as loud as she could.
A moment later, she felt his response. All was silent as they conversed for a few moments, and then Rogue sighed as his consciousness left her.
"Okay, so what'd he say?" Throttle asked.
"He says that the folks that most likely grabbed him were the goblins. They're short, nasty critters who're meaner than a bad day, and twice as ugly. He says they prize metallic materials highly, especially gold and silver, and that the goblins worship some kind of metal god. Rocco thinks they might have grabbed Vinnie because of his mask and are going to treat him like a god." Rogue giggled at that thought. "As if his ego weren't large enough already . . ."
Throttle laughed slightly and he said, "So which way do we go??"
"Head due West."
They did and then he said, "Why did you send Jelena away?? There has to be another reason besides those that ya stated."
Rogue was silent for a moment, then said, "`Cause ah cain't stand the thought of my Dear Heart Sister being hurt. Ah'll do anything I can to avoid that."
Throttle only nodded. Then they both hung on as he sped up toward the caves.

* * * * *


Jelena glared over her shoulder at the screaming Limburger and snarled, "Pipe down, fishman!! Bad enough I've been ordered out of this by my heart sister as if I couldn't do anything, but if I have to listen to YOU the rest of the way, I'll stop right now and slit your tongue out of your cavernous, foul-smellin' mouth!! DO YOU GOT ME?!?!?!?!"
Limburger's eyes flared wide, and then he grunted as he was dragged roughly over another bump. Suddenly, he felt someone's presence in his mind.
<<Enjoyin' the tour o' me land, swamp rat?>> Rocco's voice said in his mind.
His eyes narrowing, grunting as he hit a sharp rock and rolled over it, he concentrated on thinking his reply. <<You nefarious gnome! I'll make you all pay for this!>>
<<Gnome??? Keep tha' up, swamp rat, an' I'll be givin' ye a taste o' me own vengeance _now_ rathar than latar!>> Rocco thought back, the flash of his irritation like a punch in the nose to Limburger. <<If it were nae o' the utmost impartance o' findin' Blaze, I'd gullet ye now!>>
<<Even if you do manage to find the little gerbil, it will not save either of you! You are, my dear erroneous elf, never going to find the bomb. And if, by some strange miracle that should occur, you will never be able to deactivate it!>>
Rocco chuckled darkly in his mind. <<We'll see, swamp rat, we'll see. But at least ye've gone from callin' me "gnome" to the proper "elf". I'll deal wi' ye latar, Bloat!>> And with one last searing flash of irritation, he left Limburger alone.
Limburger sighed. This was going to be a long day.

* * * * *

Blaze stopped Raven as soon as he mentioned the ground was getting less stable.

She slid from him and kept her blaster close to hand as she patted his shoulder. "Okay, dearest, you wait here for me. I'm going on alone. Where do you think it would most likely be?"
Raven neighed and snorted, tossing his head.
"I KNOW you don't like this, but I have to!! Let alone making it up to Rogue, Apokrypha will probably be leveled if we don't do something about this! So, got an idea?"
If horses can sigh in disgust, Raven did just that, then whinnied slightly and nosed the air straight ahead of them.
"In the heart of the forest, huh?" Blaze sighed tiredly, then grinned gamely. "How did I know you were going to say that?"
Raven let out a rude noise, then turned his eyes on her.
Blaze sighed and said, "I promise I'll be careful. Now take care of yourself, Raven."
The horse whinnied softly, then watched as his rider took off into the darkness, melting into the shadows.

* * *

Familiar as he was with the Black Forest, it took Rocco no time at all to spot Blaze and Raven's trail.

Soon, he found the edge of the clearing where they had stopped and there was Raven. He stopped Bronwyn next to the huge horse and looked up at him. "H'lo, Raven. Where be Blaze?"
Raven studied the Elf King, then snorted, tossed his head, and nosed the air in front of him.
Rocco turned and stared. "Inta th' Heart? How did ye know about tha'?"
Raven snorted and looked away, pawing at the ground; the equestrian equivalent of a shrug and the words "lucky guess".
The Elf King sighed and held Serpentarius tighter as he said, "Gae on back te th' castle, Raven. Ye be tae tired an' run down at th' moment te be of any use te yer mistress. Gae on back an' get some food an' rest."
Raven snorted, his dark eyes flashing with fire, and he raised his head and looked down at the slightly larger-than-average elf, daring him to make him leave. Then he dropped his head and flung an equestrianly guilty look at Bronwyn when the female charger let out a shrill bellow at him, ordering him in horse language to do as he was told.
Rocco managed to keep a straight face as he watched the large black stallion turn and move off, out of the forest. When the horse had gone from sight, he opened his mouth to laugh, but as he did, he caught sight of the equestrian glare Bronwyn was leveling at him. He kept his mouth shut, but even as he turned and sprinted off noiselessly into the Black Forest, he couldn't keep a wide grin from splitting his face.
He lost the grin a few moments later, however, when he saw a "blood snake" slither by. He took a good, long look at it, and his nostrils flared, his eyes narrowing as he saw that it wasn't the brown color it was supposed to be, but a redder color, and it was thicker, more engorged than it was supposed to be, as well. Both of these things pointed to the fact that it had fed recently, and it was coming from the direction Blaze had taken.
Cursing silently and fluently, he gripped Serpentarius tighter and sprinted for all he was worth after the young mouse.

* * *

"Well, that was DUMB. Real dumb. And I'm not normally stupid."

Blaze sighed tiredly as she rested against a tree, her handkerchief wrapped tightly around the snake bite in her right calf. She could still feel the dull throb and ache in the bite, but she ignored it, trying to concentrate on her mission.
But she wondered just how much venom there was in the bite, and how long she had before whatever effects happened to her.
Suddenly, she heard a hideous snarl, and she straightened and turned quickly to face some bushes as a huge, shaggy, brown-furred monster of an animal came out towards her, snarling and dripping spittle from its jaws, its eyes filled with a primal anger.

* * * * *

"Well, there're the caves."

Rogue and Throttle stared straight ahead at the caves that were hundreds of yards distant still. They were perched on the bike near a stand of boulders, using them for cover in the shadows of the deepening twilight.
Rogue grinned slightly at his announcement. "Obviously. So, how d' you wanna play this? Subtle an' Sneaky #12?? Or Hard an' Fast #34?"
He laughed softly and said, "Who d' you think I am, babe? Modo? Hard an' Fast #34, of course!"
Rogue laughed as well and whipped out her blaster as he did the same.
"Ready?" he asked.
"Ready," she replied.
"Then let's kick it!" he snapped, and revved the engine. An instant later, they roared forward and into the caves. Once inside, they found goblins of all sizes and shapes running at them, screaming bloody murder, armed with pickaxes, maces, and other sharp digging tools.
"Goblins are creatures who live in darkness! Shine the headlight at `em! Blind `em for a moment so we can have an advantage!" Rogue shouted.
Without a word, he activated the headlight, and most of the goblins cried out and dropped their tools as they covered their eyes. The rest advanced, forcing the two Freedom Fighters to fire on them, stunning them.
Throttle was straining both his ears and his Mouse sense to their limits to catch any trace of his bro. And finally, his ears picked up the sharpness of Vinnie's voice as he yelled at someone at the top of his lungs. Turning his head, he pinpointed the tunnel it came from.
"Vinnie's down there!" he shouted to Rogue, pointing at the tunnel. "Pickaxe!"
They both ducked the swing of the axe by a goblin, and Throttle slugged the creature hard, knocking it back ten feet. Then he felt Rogue take a tight grip on him and they went roaring off down the tunnel. When they got there, they saw a dozen of the goblins surrounding Vinnie in submissive postures, shaking their heads while he ranted and raved at them to let him out of the metal bonds they had placed him in so he could get back to his friends to help them -- all without uttering a word of his studliness and machismo rating.
Throttle and Rogue stood by his bike and watched all this, then grinned in amazement at each other.
"Is that really Vinnie . . ." Throttle began.
"Am ah really seein' him . . ." Rogue said also.
They grinned again and said, "Being selfless?!" Then they started laughing.
The goblins heard and they turned and drew out their weapons and began charging. Rogue and Throttle took on a defensive stance, ready to blast the weapons out of their hands, when Vinnie roared, "STOP!!!"
Everyone looked at him and he snarled feverishly, "Those are my friends!! You have to do as I say and leave them alone!! And GET ME OUT OF THIS!!!"
The goblins immediately retreated and two of them went over to him and released him from the metal bonds with some sort of magic spell. He immediately straightened up, twitched his shoulders, gave them an icy glare, and started walking toward his friends.
Throttle chuckled, grinning in amusement, and started to walk forward. He stopped, though, when he heard a loud THUD and turned back to find Rogue lying on the ground, out cold.
"Well, HERE'S a news flash!" he grunted, and bent and lifted her up and placed her in an upright position on the bike. "Rogue? You okay, darlin'? Rogue?" he asked as he shook her.
She mumbled slightly, but otherwise didn't wake up. Suddenly, Vinnie was there, and he looked down at her with frantic eyes and then he said to Throttle, "Hey, bro! Glad to see you guys could make it to the party! But what's up with my number one babe?"
"Ahhhh, she was barely awake when I dragged her along on the search for ya . . ." Throttle said, and then filled his bro in on what all had happened to lead them there, finishing with, ". . . and it looks like she kept pushing until she knew you were okay. Then she just . . . fell over."
"Of course she did, bro! The ladies ALWAYS fall for me!" Vinnie said, grinning arrogantly.
Throttle just rolled his eyes and shook his head. Then he turned and saw the goblins watching them, along with the newer arrivals. "Well, Mr. Wonderful, hope you can use some of that abundant charm t' get us out of THIS mess."
"No sweat, sweetheart," Vinnie assured him. "Just stand back and watch the Velocity Atrocity at work!"
"That's what I'm AFRAID OF, Vincent!" Throttle hissed back.
"Ha ha," Vinnie growled, then turned to the goblins and began speaking.

* * * * *

"Open the gates to the Lady Jelena!"

Jelena watched as the gates to the castle opened, the bridge lowered down, and then she rode over it and into the courtyard.
Marty was there to meet her, as was a contingent of the castle guards. She smiled tiredly at him and said, "Marty, this is --"
"The intruder that m'lord Elf King wants placed under arrest in the dungeon, m'lady, while ye are givin' food and a place te rest," Marty interrupted politely, smiling at her surprised expression. "M'lord told me --" he tapped his head "-- what te do when ye got here. Allow the guards te take the intruder te the dungeon while ye refresh yerself inside, m'lady, and the steed Lockheed is refreshed as well in the stables."
Jelena nodded tiredly and admitted -- grudgingly -- that maybe Rogue had been right in her needing to get her energy levels topped up. She watched as the castle guards hauled a strangely silent Limburger off into the castle for imprisonment and Lockheed was led away to the stables by stablehands.
Then Marty offered her his arm and he escorted her into the castle. She was seated at the table and given a hearty meal, and then she was led to a nice room with a comfortable bed, and she lay down and was asleep a moment later, her last thought a worry about her friends.

* * * * *

Blaze braced herself as the creature began to charge on her, snarling loudly.

And then, suddenly, she was knocked aside as someone slightly smaller than herself slammed into her, barreling her out of the way. She looked up from where she lay on her side to see Rocco crouched above her, his sword held ready, and he turned to look down at her.
"Stay here whilst I drive th' beastie away, lass!" he ordered her, and then he took the fight to the creature, slashing at it with his sword, attempting to drive it back and away.
Blaze got to her feet shakily, then steadied herself. She watched as Rocco fought bravely against the large creature, and then it got in a lucky swipe and knocked Serpentarius from his grasp, sending it flying to the other side of the small clearing they were in. She gripped her laser pistol tightly and moved quickly, interposing herself between Rocco and the beast as it reached for him in a clear attempt to rip his head off.
Bracing herself, she raised her blaster and fired it directly into the monster's face. But, surprisingly enough, the only effect it had was to temporarily blind it and irritate it. The monster roared and covered its eyes, then turned and lurched off into the woods, its crashing retreat heard still even after it disappeared from view.
She heard movement and she turned to see Rocco lifting Serpentarius from the ground. When he looked at her, she smiled tiredly and said, "We're even now, m'lord. What was that thing?"
"`Twas a `brangle beast'. Thar act'lly vary strictly vegetarians, but also vary territarial, an' will disembowl tresspassars," he explained as he came over to her, then knelt down and quickly untied the field bandage from around her leg. He inspected the snake bite and then retied the cloth and stood, looking into her blue, blue eyes.
"Ye'll nevar make it on foot, lass. We'll haf te ride Bronwyn th' rest o' th' way in. Ye got bit by a blood snake; the venom is slow, but vary deadly, an' in about an hour ye'll start te go numb. If I c'n find some roots called Sweet Root, I c'n stop th' numbin' far anothar hour at least."
Blaze nodded tiredly and Rocco whistled for Bronwyn. She appeared a few moments later and he lifted Blaze onto the charger's back, then hauled himself up. He looked over his shoulder at her and saw how tired she was.
"Gae on an' get some sleep, lass. Jus' lean on me. Thar be nothin' ye can do at th' moment as I know the way thar. Jus' gae on an' sleep; I'll wake ye if yer needed," he said.
She nodded tiredly and wrapped her arms loosely about his waist, leaned her head on the back of his shoulder, and was asleep a few moments later.
Rocco gently nudged Bronwyn with his knees, and the horse moved out, going deeper into the Forest.

* * * * *

"It ain't THAT funny!"

"The devil . . . it . . . ain't!" gasped Throttle as he tried to control his laughter enough so that he could pilot the bike safely.
Vinnie grumbled, checked to make sure his bandanna was tied securely around his face, and then just held onto Rogue tightly.
The three of them were on Throttle's bike, heading back toward Rocco's castle. Throttle was driving, Vinnie sat behind him, and Rogue lay sprawled across his lap between the two of them, still out cold.
"At least we can make you another mask since we have some of that Martian Bondo stuff that Harley used last time," Throttle said, trying hard to keep a straight face.
"Look, just because the only way we could leave was to leave my mask behind so they could always have a piece of me doesn't mean --"
"Ahhhh, shut up, Throttle!!!"

* * * * *


Rocco halted Bronwyn over by a small, moss-covered mound. Carefully, he dismounted and pulled Blaze down with him and sat her on the ground against a tree. Certain that she was somewhat comfortable, he went over to the grassy mound and dug up some of the moss and found what he was looking for.
He yanked the roots free and held them up with fierce satisfaction. "Sweet Root . . . thar ye be!" he grunted, then turned back to Blaze. Finding a smooth rock nearby, he used Serpentarius to grind the roots to powder. Then he pulled out his hip flask and poured some of the water onto the powder and stirred it into a thick mush.
Moving quickly, he gently stretched Blaze's injured leg out and unwrapped the fielf bandage from her lower leg. He grimaced at the sight of the wound, upset that she had been hurt at all, and then he began spreading the mixture into the wound.
Blaze stiffened in her sleep and inhaled sharply. A moment later, her eyes blinked open and she looked at him blearily. "Mnuh . . ?"
"I've found ye some Sweet Root, lass," he said softly, spreading more of it into the wound. "Sarry this hurts ye, lass, but it'll slow the poison far anothar hour at least. Go back te sleep."
Grimacing, Blaze did just that.
He chuckled slightly, then bound up the wound. He washed his hands clean with some of the water, then led Bronwyn over to the mound. He lifted Blaze into his arms, then hefted her up onto Bronwyn's back. He quickly leaped up and got situated, with Blaze once more draped over him.
Feeling safe for the moment about Blaze's wound, he nudged Bronwyn with his knees and they trudged farther into the Forest, already starting to move into the swamp.

* * * * *

"Where do we put her?"

Marty looked up at the tall Martian mice. Then he saw Rogue being carried in Vinnie's arms. "Follow me," he said, and turned and walked into the castle.
The two Biker Mice followed and Marty led them to a room that was two doors down from Rocco's. It was very comfortably furnished, and Vinnie moved over to the bed and lay her down on it, removed her boots, and then covered her with the blanket.
"She can stay here. You would like some food, sirs?" Marty asked.
The two mice grinned widely and Marty chuckled, knowing he had asked a useless question. Gesturing, he led them out of the room and down to the Great Hall where they could eat.

* * * * *

"Blaze, lass."

Blaze groaned as she woke up, then reared back and wrinkled her nose as the smell hit her. Her eyes wide open, she automatically went for her blaster, assuming from the smell that there were a pack of Plutarkians surrounding them.
But when she REALLY woke up, she noticed instead that they were in a dark, dismal area; a swampland, and Rocco was holding a foul-smelling plant up to her face. Sulfurous vapors were rising all around them, and she was gasping for breath as her eyes watered.
"This plant be known as ryeberry, the most foul-smellin' plant in Apokrypha," Rocco explained as he handed her his flask. Then he gestured to the swampland. "This is why Rogue directed us te the swamp. See all th' vapors? Ye couldna strike a spark in here wi'out settin' off a ragin' fire. Set off a bomb . . . an' aye, th' whole kingdom `twould be leveled."
Blaze nodded as she sipped, seeing the reasoning behind all this. She had to give Limburger credit for being one shrewd suckerfish. Peering around as she handed the flask back, she saw a large, round object sitting in muck a few yards away. "There," she said, pointing.
They dismounted and walked over as far as they could. Sure enough, there was a black, spherical looking object that had wires and parts all over it, and looked deadly sinister. Going back to Bronwyn, he pulled a long rope out of one of the saddlebags, went back, and looped it around the bomb. Then he tied the other end of the rope to Bronwyn's saddle.
"C'mon, darlin'. Pull `er out far me, lassie," he coaxed.
Bronwyn dug in and pulled, and a few moments later, the bomb was sitting on level, sturdy ground. Rocco released the ropes, patting Bronwyn comfortingly, and then he turned back to see Blaze kneeling down beside the bomb. He was just starting toward her when he heard a ferocious snarl and whipped around to see a swamp cat coming at him, a feline the size of a Great Dane that, he knew from past experience, was always hungry.
He braced himself for the attack only to find himself sprawling on the ground a moment later. He looked up to see that Blaze had tackled the cat in a counter-charge and was at the moment wrestling with it as she screamed profanities at it. He grinned as he caught heated comments about the cat taking her attention from a dangerous bomb. Getting to his feet, he ran and yanked her back from the ferocious animal and then plunged Serpentarius deep into the cat. It collapsed at their feet, dead a moment later.
He wiped the blade clean and turned, only to find Blaze glowering at him. "What?" he asked.
"You didn't have to kill it," she snapped.
"What? Lass, what do ye mean --"
He stepped back, shocked slightly, and he started to grin as he said, "Blaze, lass, `twas a cat, an' a hungry, vicious cat at that. It would've kept attackin', no mattar th' wounds te itself, until we were fillin' its belly."
"So? It was just acting on instinct, the poor innocent thing!"
"Innocent, now? Is tha' the same excuse yer gonna use when ye slaughter Limburger?"
The look she turned on him could have flash-frozen Mars. "Limburger ISN'T innocent," she growled.
He nodded. "True, lass, true. Sarry I said anythin'."
Blaze sighed and smiled. "It's okay, Rocco. I'm sorry for snapping at you."
As he watched her turn back to the bomb, he said, "Anytime, lass. Anytime."
For the next half hour, Blaze worked slowly and steadily on the bomb. It was a highly complicated device.
"How's it goin', lass?" Rocco asked.
"I'm sweating so much I can't see, which is making this extraction tough," she replied.
"Extraction?" he echoed.
"Yup. This is a nano-tech breeder-config design. There are tiny little machines moving around inside it. Once they all pull together -- bam! If I miss even ONE, then the whole process will start over again."
"So what yer sayin' is tha' ye'll have te wait until the wee techno-beasties come tegethar te pull it all out, am I right?"
She looked at him. "Right." Then she bent back to her project. As time went on, Rocco noticed that she seemed to falter more and more, and he knew it was the poison in her bloodstream. The Sweet Root was wearing off.
Suddenly, there came a loud beeping from the bomb. He stood straight at attention and watched as Blaze suddenly yanked a lumpy looking object that looked like a black mechanical potato with lights on it out of the bomb casing.
"Is that . . ?" he asked.
"Yes, and that noise means that it's `Do or Die' time. There has to be a way to destroy this in the next five seconds COMPLETELY!"
"I haf it, lass. Toss `er up inte the air as high as ye can," Rocco said, and drew Serpentarius.
Blaze didn't question him, trust being a big part of teamwork. With all her strength, she threw the bomb high in the air and scattered back.
Chanting, Rocco gripped Serpentarius tightly. When the sword began to glow with energy. Once it had hit its peak, he raised the sword so that the swordpoint was aimed directly at the bomb. The energy flared from the sword and engulfed the bomb. With one blindingly bright flash, the energy imploded the bomb, destroying it completely.
Rocco grunted in satisfaction at a job well done, then whirled around when he heard a wet thud on the ground behind him. He gasped as he saw Blaze lying face down in the muck. "Lass!" he growled. Quickly he turned to the bomb casing and chanted again. A golden glow enveloped the bomb casing and a moment later, he had teleported it back to his castle. Then he lifted Blaze into his arms and vaulted onto Bronwyn's back and he gave the order to charge out of the swamp.
As they crossed out of the forest and back into open land, he looked down at Blaze who lay sprawled in his lap as she whispered, "No . . . use. It's too . . . late."
"Don't bloody SAY that!" he snapped. "Yer gonna be FINE, lass! Ye canna let go o' life now! Ya canna!"
She was quiet, though, and her breathing was heavy. He swore viciously and let Bronwyn have her head, the horse nearly flying over the grasslands.
In Blaze's mind however, there was something entirely different going on. In her mindscape, she was standing in the grasslands, and it was early dawn. There was a light mist, and the grass sparkled with dew. But she couldn't really enjoy it, as she felt so ill; like her feet and hands had been dipped in lead, so tired she could barely move.
She lifted her head slightly when she heard soft, shuffling footsteps, and saw the most beautiful creature she'd ever seen.
"Unicorn," she breathed.
<<Yes.>> thought the one-horned horse. It was a beautiful silvery white, as large and muscular as Raven, with a shiny golden horn about a foot long, and golden hooves. <<You are in pain, child. A great deal of pain.>>
"It's only a snake bite," Blaze replied sluggishly, then gave a harsh laugh. "Funny, but of all the things I expected to kill me, a snake wasn't one of them."
<<I didn't mean the snake, child. I meant past pain; a deep wound done to your heart and mind, done to your soul. The death of your mother and the destruction of your family weigh heavily on you, because you weren't there to stop it.>> The unicorn stared at her with dark, unblinking eyes.
She gaped back. "How . . . how did you know?" she asked.
<<I am Unicorn. I know.>>
She smiled suddenly. "Then you'll know how to make it better, won't you?"
The Unicorn snorted and tossed its head, its silvery shining mane flashing brightly, its horn even more brightly. <<It's not the answer you're expecting. Not the answer that you want.>>
"You mean you can't . . ?"
<<Bring your family back to you? No, child. I am not the Creator. Merely the Guardian of the Creator's innocent children.>>
"But . . . how can you help me, then?"
<<I can offer you protection against physical evils, but I cannot offer you reprieve from your emotional troubles. That is being done by others.>>
"Who?" Blaze demanded. "Who, Unicorn? Who is helping me?"

Rocco glanced down at Blaze after hearing the sentence she uttered in her blank sleep. His eyes flared wide as he realized what was happening.
"We're helpin' ye, lass. All o' us. Listen te me, an' hear what I'm sayin'!" he breathed as he came within eyesight of the castle.

Blaze's eyes widened as she heard Rocco's voice fade away. She stared at the Unicorn. "My friends? My friends are the ones who're helping me? How?"
<<What titles do you usually give your female friends?>> the Unicorn countered.
"Well, Rogue is my Heart Twin Sister, and Jelena is my Heart Sister, and Vinnie and Rocco are my Heart Brothers, and Throttle is . . ." Blaze stopped as she suddenly realized what she had been saying. Her gaze sought the Unicorn out frantically.
The Unicorn nodded slowly. <<This is true. You have your family. You never lost your family. Now do you understand?>>
"I . . . I think so." Blaze thought for a moment, and then smiled brilliantly. "Yes! Yes, I do know! They're my Heart family, and they take the pain away!"
<<Very good, child. Now, are you ready to recieve, so that you may give?>>
<<I can help you physically. I can do that, so that you may share what you've learned. You've learned something wonderful today. Something that everyone needs. Are you willing to share it?>>
Blaze knew what the magnificent creature meant. She nodded. "Yes."
<<Step forward, young one.>>
Blaze stepped forward, and the Unicorn lowered its head. Without fear, Blaze watched the tip of the great horn lower toward her forehead. As the tip touched her forehead, she felt a great sense of peace wash over her.
<<You will receive the gift of enhanced power, and a protective shield that will form around you to protect you when you are in bodily danger. Use them in good health, young one.>>

Rocco looked down at Blaze, and blinked, and looked again. As they crossed the drawbridge into the courtyard of his castle, he saw a strange, new mark on her forehead, and smiled. Then he dismounted from Bronwyn and shouted orders for her to be taken care of, and then, with Blaze in his arms, he ran into his castle, up the stairs, and down the hall to the guest chambers. He found Rogue in one room, so he moved to the next one down and placed Blaze in that one.
He turned from laying Blaze on the bed, and saw Jelena coming into the room. She smiled at him and said, "Go on, m'lord. I'll take care of her now. I've already seen to Rogue. You need some food and rest yourself."
Rocco nodded tiredly. "Aye, lass, that I do. I'll see ye latar." He kissed her forehead, then left the room to go to his own chamber. There he found Marty waiting for him, along with a hearty meal. He had his dinner while he told Marty what all had happened, took a quick washdown, then crawled into bed and was out like a light a moment later.

* * * * *

"And don't WE look like poster children for a Fund Raiser?"

Everyone laughed at Rogue's sarcastic comment as they lounged in Blaze's room. Blaze herself was propped up in bed, her back against the headboard. Jelena had already left, having to get back to Earth quickly in order to perform on the piano at a concert. Rogue lay draped across the foot of the bed. Rocco sat beside Blaze on the edge of it, and the two Biker Mice sat sprawled in chairs at the foot of the bed, tilting the chairs back on their legs.
"It was so weird last night, though. I had such an incredible dream," Blaze said, and she proceeded to tell them all about her Unicorn dream.
When she became aware of Rocco grinning at her as if he had a huge secret, she looked at him and said, "WHAT?"
"Maybe, lass . . . it was nae a dream," he murmured, and gentle touched her forehead.
"What are you . . ?" Blaze began, and then Throttle used his tail to lift a small handmirror from a nearby dresser and he flung it at her. She caught it and looked and there was a small, pinkish mark in the center of her forehead in the shape of a star that hadn't been there before. And it was right where the Unicorn had touched her in the dream.
She raised frantic eyes to Rocco, asking him silently if it were true. He nodded, grinning, and she slumped back.
Everyone grinned and chuckled at her confusion.
Then Throttle cleared his throat and when they all looked at him, he said, "Well, Rocco, it's been fun tail whippin' in Apokrypha, but we all came for only a quick visit. We have to be getting back, and we need to take Limburger with us for trial."
"I'm afraid, Throttle lad, that willna be possible," Rocco said.
"Say WHAT?!" everyone demanded.
Rocco sighed. "Marty woke me up arly this morn'in. He says tha' the two guards watchin' o'er tha' swamp rat came te him an' told him o' how e'ery thin' was real quiet like. Then alla sudden, there was this bright flash o' light, an' they looked in his cell an' saw some wee, hunched o'er ol' crone in black an' white wi' a tube comin' out o' his head --"
"Karbunkle," everyone growled disgustedly. At Rocco's confused look, Throttle clarified that. "Karbunkle is Limburger #1 henchman/mad scientist."
"Ah." Rocco nodded. "Anyway, `efore the guards could react, the ol' crone disappeared, takin' Limburger wi' him."
Blaze pounded the mattress with her fist. "It's not FAIR!" she hissed, her blue eyes shining with her fury and hatred. "We HAD him!"
"Yeah, HAD. An' besides, `fair' is th' most USELESS word in ANY language, HTS, ya know that," Rogue replied. "Besides, we'll always nail him again. This jus' proves that he can't avoid us forever."
"Yeah, maybe," Blaze admitted reluctantly, then smiled at them all.
"Yeah! So whadda ya say to gettin' outta here so we can go back to Earth an' pound on him again!?" Vinnie said, grinning excitedly.
"Besides that, we need to check on Charley an' Modo, see how they held things up back on Earth, and to raid the spaceship materials for that Martian Bondo for your face," Throttle added. "So, babes, whaddya say? You ready to head home?"
"Ah am," Rogue said, groaning as she stretched. Then she looked at Rocco. "Nae tha' it hasna been fun, Rocco . . ."
He laughed. "Aye, Rogue, lass, I understand. When will ye all be leavin'?"
"Soon as Blaze hauls her fanny outta bed," came Vinnie's reply. Then he grinned wickedly at her and waggled his eyebrows as he said, "Cute fanny though it is."
Blaze snorted and then stood and got out of bed, Rogue rising to stand beside her. The two Biker Mice got up out of their chairs and Rocco stood as well. They all trooped down to the courtyard and the men waited while the ladies said goodbye to the horses. When they came back, they straddled the bikes behind the male mice.
"Peace be wi' ye," Rocco said to them.
"Ride Free, Citizen!" the Biker Mice and Blaze said.
"Laissez le bon temps rouler!" Rogue replied.
"Huh???" they all asked.
Grinning, Rogue translated: "Let the good times roll!"
They all laughed and then Rocco chanted and opened a portal back to earth. Raising their fists in farewell, they all disappeared through the portal. Once they were gone, Rocco turned to go back into his castle to find Marty for a game of chess. But he still hoped his friends could come back soon.
He had to admit, they made things interesting.