The Biker Mice From Mars and the characters from the show are the property
of the companies that produced and copyrighted them. I make no profit from
these fanfics, they are for the reading enjoyment of other Biker Mice fans
only. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
Centerline and Kickstart are the property of JWC and are used with permission. I would like to thank JWC, for it was his fanfic "Family" that gave me the inspiration for my fanfic and the origins of Tracer.
As Tracer got up and took care of her campsite she couldn't shake the feeling that it was time.
Well, she thought, I always knew that I'd return sooner or later. I just hope they are all ready to have me back. I've come to terms with myself as well as I'm going to.
Once her things were all packed in her sack she slung it over her shoulder and headed towards the heart of the Southern Desert. A desolate place that none of the other habitants of Mars ever ventured in, the heart of the Southern Desert and its vast system of underground tunnels, caves, and canyons had yielded the perfect place for her to live without the worry of discovery.
In a week Tracer walked into the cave that had been her home for over two years. She quickly packed the belongings she intended to take with her, then she walked away from her home to the place she has walked away from two and a half years earlier. Thought she had never traveled back there during her time in the desert, the route back was firmly etched in her mind.
For more than a month she walked. Never once looking back to her home, never once letting her mind ahead to her destination.
Finally she found herself about to crest the sand dune that would allow her to see her destination. She felt uneasy, but didn't know why. She shrugged it off and crested the dune. The sight that met her made her heart cold with horror. There in front of her the Martian Mouse Training Academy lay in ruins, all the buildings reduced to rubble.
Tracer let out a low moan of despair. Then she ran to the site, her mind searching ahead for any signs of life. She found none.
When she reached the area she saw that it had been attacked and lain in ruins for at least a couple of months.
Tracer felt fear grip her heart, but it relaxed. She did not keep an active touch on her friends, but she knew none of them were dead.
With a sigh of relief she sent her mind out to find her friends. She found the mass of minds that had once been the Academy and headed for the new location.
After yet another month of walking Tracer found herself looking at a half-ruined village. She smiled to herself. It was the perfect place to hide a new base and training facility. She decided to use all the skills she had learned and worked on during her time in the desert, as well as all her other skills, to make her way to Stoker's desk unannounced. She scanned the nearest guards.
Ah, there's one in that old hut. Young, somewhat distracted.... As she made her way to the targeted hut unnoticed she scanned his mind for the access code. Once she was outside the hut she listened to his thoughts. When he started to think of fresh air she sent a desire for fresh air to him. Finally he moved. He walked out the door, stopping a few feet in front of it. Still sending him a want for fresh air she also sent him a very strong belief that all was fine, that he didn't see or hear anything. In a minute she was in, the guard believing that he hadn't heard a thing. A quick scan of his mind also gave her the whereabouts of the posted guards and the placement of Stoker's office. She made her way to Stoker's office, avoiding all the mice she could and making those she couldn't avoid believe that they saw nothing. Finally she was at Stoker's door. Taking a deep breath to put down a sudden case of nerves she opened his door and stepped in, with only the quiet click of the door to announce her presence.
Stoker, head bent over some papers, didn't even pick his head up, "Unless it's very important you'd better leave. I'm very busy."
"I don't know, do I count as important?" she said mock-innocently.
Stoker froze at the familiar voice for only a second before his head whipped up in surprise to see the figure of a mouse he'd not seen in over two and a half years. He stood up in shock.
"Tracer! Great Moons of Mars girl, where have you been! It's been over two years!" He said, at the same time noticing the clothes she wore, the spear, the two blasters on either hip, and the dusty appearance of barely noticeably longer fur.
"Oh, I"ve been here and there, sir, and I was wondering if I could officially join the Freedom Fighters."
Stoker raised an eyebrow, "Officially join? You are aware of the seriousness of leaving the Academy the way you did?"
"Yes sir, but...circumstances were...unexpected. I just...I couldn't stay sir..." Tracer floundered.
Stoker watched her, his eyes growing soft and warm for the young mouse.
"The circumstances of your leaving were...unique and understandable," Tracer's head snapped up as her gaze locked on the commander, "and no disciplinary action will be taken. In fact, the whole incident will be dropped and not brought up in the future of your Freedom Fighter career."
Tracer continued to pin him with her stare, resignation and wariness in her eyes.
"Effective immediately you are a member of the Freedom Fighters. You have most definitely passed the one week survival test in the desert and, according to our sources, have done several one-mouse missions." He held out a hand, which she tentatively accepted, "Welcome to the Freedom Fighters, Tracer."
"Thank you commander," she said quietly, her eyes still wary.
"Tracer, you have proved yourself a competent and trustworthy mouse. Only Carbine, Kickstart and myself know, and we're keeping it to ourselves."
"Thank you," Tracer said again, relief coloring her voice.
"Well then," Stoker said somewhat loudly, "I imagine you'll want some quarters."
"It'd be appreciated, sir. I'd like to take my belongings somewhere, then go find my friends."
Tracer caught the barely perceptible look in his eyes, but decided to find out what it was all about later.
"Very well," Stoker said. "Piston!"
The young mouse appeared a second later with a smart salute.
"Piston, show Tracer here to her quarters. Put her in the west fighter's wing on the second level. There should be a room or two empty."
Piston saluted in acknowledgment, then nodded to Tracer to follow him. Tracer picked up a dusty travel bag that Stoker hadn't noticed before and prepared to leave.
"Tracer, report back here after mealtime," Stoker said.
"Yes, sir," she responded.
Tracer followed Piston through the hallways quietly, pleased and impressed by the new base and Academy. After several minutes they stopped in front of a door. Piston opened it to reveal a medium sized room with a bed, a small dresser and a stand.
"This is your room. The commanders occasionally have surprise room inspections, so keep it clean and neat. After you settle in you can explore. Any off limit will be clearly marked. Meal time is at 18:00 hours. Good luck." With that Piston turned and left.
Tracer quietly surveyed her room while she quietly unpacked her things. When she was done she traded her double holster for her single and put it and her customized blaster under her mattress.
No need to let those be seen just yet. It would just invite too many questions, she thought.
When she was ready, Tracer left her room and walked down the hallways. Now it was time for her to find her friends. It was the first time since she had left the old academy that she had sent her mind out to search for her friends. She opened up her mind and found Jumpstart and Chase, but found no trace of Kicker.
Probably on a mission, she thought.
Using her knowledge of the base that she had lifted from the guard earlier she found her way to the room where Jumpstart and Chase were working out. She watched them for a while before she cleared her throat. Both mice stopped and their jaws dropped when they saw their friend.
"Think an old friend could join," she lightly asked, a smile twitching the corners of her mouth as they continued to stare in disbelief at her. Jumpstart was the first to recover.
"Tracer!" she exclaimed running to her friend. "The Guardians be thanked, you're safe," she said as she hugged her friend. Chase same over and joined the reunion, still speechless. When they were done Chase stepped back and looked at Tracer.
"Moons above, I was beginning to wonder if you'd ever return. It's great to have you back."
Tracer smiled warmly at her two friends.
"Well I hate to interrupt, but I think meal time is approaching, and I'm very hungry. Why don't we head to the mess hall and catch up on old times there?"
Jumpstart smiled,"Sounds good to me. Let's just take care of this equipment first."
The three friends put the equipment away, each one acutely aware of the missing fourth member. Then they walked to the mess hall together, Chase and Jumpstart describing the new base to Tracer as they walked.
As they entered the mess hall the noise level suddenly went down, then raised to a low murmur as the three friends continued to get their food. Chase and Jumpstart watched to see how Tracer would react to the large crowd after having supposedly been alone for over two years. To their surprise Tracer seemed unfazed by the crowd and by its reaction to her.
When they sat down Tracer looked at her two friends.
"So, you've told me all about what's happened to the base in the last two years. What about you two?"
Jumpstart smiled, "I've been assigned as a second in command to one of the units, and Chase is a unit leader."
Tracer smiled as Chase blushed slightly to the proud tone in his friend's voice.
"What about you Tracer?" Chase asked.
Tracer shrugged, "Don't know yet. I'm supposed to go see Stoker after mealtime. I guess I'll find out what's going on then. Right now I'm in one of the fighter areas." Tracer fell silent as the three prepared to lave the mess hall.
"What about Kicker? Where's he at?"
Chase and Jumpstart exchanged an uneasy glance. They walked a short distance from the mess hall in uneasy silence before Tracer got in front of her two friends and made them stop.
"Please, what's happened? Is Kicker all right? What's wrong? You two are my friends and so is he."
Chase and Jumpstart looked at Tracer. Then Jumpstart sighed and looked at Tracer.
"He was captured several months ago, right after we arrived. We don't know where he was taken, or if he is even alive."
The fleeting feeling Tracer had gotten from Stoker suddenly made sense.
"Excuse me, I have to go talk to Stoker."
With that Tracer turned and headed for Stoker's office.
Stoker sat at his desk doing some paperwork. He was pretty sure Tracer would find out about Kicker, but he hoped not. He really wanted her to get settled in and see her other friends before he broke the news about Kicker.
As he worked on a report he heard his office door open and slam closed as a mouse stalked to his desk.
So much for letting her settle in first, he thought as he lifted his head and met a mismatched pair of angry eyes.
"What reason could you possibly have to keep such information from me?" Tracer yelled without preamble, "he's my friend!"
"Need I remind you that I am your superior, Tracer?" Stoker asked calmly. "Sit." Tracer stood, staring at him with undisguised fury. "I said sit."
Never taking her eyes off her commander, Tracer sat.
"I wanted you to get settled in, to have some amount of relaxation in the hope that you wouldn't fly off the handle."
Tracer shot up in her seat, her eyes flashing.
"Don't deny it. You can be quick tempered at times."
Tracer sat back a bit. Then she sent her mind out and searched for Kicker. She found him. He was alive, and relatively well. She focused on Stoker.
"I'm going to go get him."
For a second Stoker was shocked speechless.
"Wha...? You...you're...."he sputtered, "no!"
Tracer looked him right in the eye, her eyes deadly serious.
"Stoker, Kicker is a close friend of mine. I know I can find him." Stoker began to protest, "Look, Stoker, I'm going to go whether you approve of it or not. If I have to leave the Freedom Fighters for good, I will. Kicker is my very close friend and I WILL rescue him. I will NOT leave him in the hands of Plutarkians."
Stoker looked at her. She was calm and more serious than he had ever seen her. He sighed.
"I'll approve it, but you will NOT go alone."
"Stoker," she began.
"No. I will not discuss it. You will be accompanied by only one mouse. If you don't, you'll have to leave the Freedom Fighters."
Eyes narrowed and mouth tight, she stared at him. "Fine."
"Go to your room and get ready. You can leave in an hour."
Without a word Tracer got up and stalked out the door. Once the door was closed Stoker pressed a button on his intercom.
"Piston, get me Centerline. Now."
Stoker released the button and sighed.
I hope he agrees to this.
Several minutes later Centerline, a tall white mouse with a streak of black going down the center of his head, entered Stoker's office. Centerline's friendly smile disappeared as he saw his friend's solemn face.
Centerline got right to the point. "What's up?"
Stoker smiled slightly. "I know you're visiting, but I was hoping I could ask a favor of you."
"You know you can, Stoke."
"Would you consider going on a mission? I should be a short rescue mission. You'd be going with one other mouse."
Centerline raised an eyebrow. "Two mice for a rescue mission? Who'm I going with and who are we rescuing?"
"You're going to rescue a young mouse named Kicker," Centerline nodded, he'd heard of Kicker, "and you'll be going with Tracer."
There was silence for several seconds.
"Tracer? They very tall, reddish mouse I've heard about who disappeared two and a half years ago?"
"The same. She arrived today. She'd going to try to rescue her friend Kicker. I want at least one mouse to go with her. You're the best choice. You're the only mouse who might best easily accept her."
Centerline looked at Stoker quizzically.
"Tracer was a Plutarkian experiment. She was made from a mix of more species that I would have guessed. That discovery is what caused her to leave. You'd be the best mouse, just in case she needs to talk. And you're one of the few who I can trust and who is experienced in this kind of mission."
Centerline considered for a moment. He was here to visit family and friends, but Stoker didn't seem to think it would take all that long.
"Sure. I can be ready in an hour."
Stoker smiled his appreciation.
"Thanks. Meet us at the north entrance when you're ready."
"I'll be there."
Centerline stood to leave the office, then turned to Stoker. "Does she have a bike?"
Stoker frowned, "no, she doesn't. I'll have her on one in an hour."
"Good, my bike wouldn't take well to a passenger."
As Centerline left Stoker called Piston to his office.
"When Tracer is ready I want you to bring her down to the shop. She needs a bike."
Piston nodded and left.
Tracer had just finished packing and opened her door to find a mouse standing there.
"Stoker wants me to bring ya to find a bike."
Tracer nodded and followed him through the compound. Several minutes later they were walking through the shop, the area where bikes were fixed, sometimes built, and where spares were kept. They were walking through a group of standard Freedom Fighter issue bikes when a rumbling in a nearby room caught both mice's attention. Tracer headed for the door and Piston followed.
In the room they found several mice trying to hold a bike down while one after another several other mice attempted to mount the bike. None succeeded. The bike was black and dark red with straight handlebars, but built to be equally comfortable to cruise as to fight or race. The engine was open and was air cooled with a four into one muffler.
"What's going on?" Tracer asked one unsuccessful mouse.
"They found th' bike a while back and fixed it. Got it runnin', but ever since they got it runnin' no one can get on it." With that the mouse left.
Tracer, intrigued by a presence she could almost feel, opened her senses. As she did so she walked towards the bike. The mice planning on trying to ride it moving out of her way. Tracer examined what she felt. She was sure it was coming from the bike, but it was so much more than the spark of awareness she felt from other AI bikes. It was still a nebulous awareness, but it was far more than she had ever seen in any bike. With her mind she reached out to the bike's awareness, expecting her mind to slide by it like it did with all other bikes. The result, however, was much different. As soon as she touched the awareness she knew that it was aware of her. She continued to walk towards the bike, and it calmed down and stayed in place quietly while she got onto the seat. All the mice present stared. Then the head mechanic came forward.
"We've 'ad this bike fer months, and no one's been able to even get on 'er. If she'll let ya ride 'er, she's yers." Tracer began to protest. "No arguin' the point. It was decided a while ago that she'd go to whichever mouse could ride 'er, and yer it."
"Don't thank me until you've ridden 'er."
Tracer revved the engine and proceeded to ride the bike around the room. Finally she stopped in front of the mechanic.
"Thank you," she said again.
"No, thank you," he replied, a twinkle in his eye.
They both smiled and Tracer rode her new bike out of the room. She stopped right outside the door and turned to Piston.
"I guess I'm all set then."
"I guess you are,"Piston said in an awe-filled voice.
Several minutes later Tracer and Piston met up with Stoker and Centerline at the north gate. Stoker and Centerline both raised eyebrows at her bike, but said nothing. A nod from Stoker and Piston left.
"Interesting bike you got," Stoker said.
Tracer shrugged and smiled. Then turned her attention to Centerline.
So this is Centerline.
She examined the mouse quickly, satisfied that he'd be a suitable mouse to accompany her. Then she looked at his mind. Although he was doing this as a favor, he would still fight as well as he had ever done in the past. That pleased her. The only thing she couldn't figure out was why his mind felt a little different from all the other mice she'd ever met, but she let it slide.
While she looked at Centerline, he likewise looked at her. He had been told she was tall, but he was unprepared for the thin mouse who had one inch on him. Though she looked a bit young, she looked determined and serious. From what he'd heard she was fully able as a fighter. He didn't see any problems.
Stoker watched silently as the two mice sized each other up. When they relaxed their stances Stoker concealed a grin. Each obviously approved of the other. That was a good start.
"Well, now that you are both here, you can start your mission. Just make sure to be careful."
Both mice nodded, then silently got on their bikes. With Tracer taking the lead they roared off into the Martian desert.
Centerline followed Tracer quietly for most of an hour before he began to get irritated. Although she rode with purpose, Centerline had no idea where they were headed, nor why. She hadn't said a word to him about where they were headed and what she expected to find there. This was no way to run a rescue mission.
Centerline pulled up next to Tracer, then stopped. Tracer stopped, looking back with annoyance, her question plain on her face.
"Well what? I thought it was obvious. We've been driving for almost an hour and I don't know where or why. Would you care to enlighten me as to what we're doing, or do I just follow you blindly into what knows what?"
Tracer sighed. She had seen this coming, but she didn't know how to explain, and she didn't want to tell Centerline that she could read minds. Though she realized that might be just what she'd have to do.
"We're headed for a secret Plutarkian base." Centerline began to protest. "Look, I just want to get in, get Kicker, and get out. When we've got Kicker you can ask all the questions you want and I will answer."
With a little, unnoticed, mental nudge Centerline agreed. Tracer nodded, then took off, Centerline following.
A few hours later, when Tracer sensed that they were getting closer to the base where the Plutarkians were holding Kicker, she sent her mind ahead and searched the mind of one of the commanders. She took all the information about the entrances and the codes, the whereabouts of a certain, and the only, Martian prisoner, and the information about the surrounding land. The she stopped, Centerline pulling his bike up beside hers.
"We're approaching a mine field. The path through it is very narrow. Follow behind me and don't stray from the path I follow. Don't put your feet on the ground if you can avoid it."
Centerline began to protest, anger, confusion, and frustration on his face. Tracer saw clearly in his mind what he intended to ask.
"Don't ask." She decided to exaggerate reality. "After 2 and a half years in the desert I picked up a few things or two, some seemingly useless information."
Centerline thought for a second, then nodded.
The two followed a twisted and seemingly pointless path towards an ever growing base. When they were a short distance away a faint sound could be heard.
Tracer turned to Centerline, "They've detected us. We've got to get in and out as fast as we can. Don't lose me, there's no way to shut the land mines off."
Centerline nodded sharply and followed. The two mice blazed into the base, taking out the guards as they went. After racing down several corridors they arrived at the door to the prisoner area. Before Centerline or the guard could shout Tracer leapt from her bike and landed on the guard's chest. As they fell, Tracer turned so she landed on her knees with the guard's head twisted almost to the breaking point.
"Keys," she growled at him.
"Bottom drawer, combination lock," he barely managed to wheeze to her. Tracer began to twist his neck, then at the last moment she brought her hand down on the back side of his head. She stood and went to the desk, the guard's unconscious body dropping on the floor with a thud.
Using her personal blaster she melted and shorted out the locking system on the bottom drawer. Then she opened it and took out a ring of keys. She unlocked the door and entered, Centerline waited outside in case of unexpected company. Tracer unlocked the only cell with an occupant and neatly avoided the kick aimed for her.
"Oh, the guards must love you," she said sarcastically. "Now, is that any way to treat a friend who's rescuing you?"
As she released him, Kicker turned around to face the owner of that familiar voice, surprise and joy on his face.
"Tracer? Great Moons, I can't believe it!"
The two mice hugged briefly.
"Believe it. I just couldn't leave you here when I found out you had been captured. Now come on, let's rock this joint."
"Just lead the way!"
Tracer and Kicker left the prisoner's area and mounted her bike, Kicker nodding to Centerline. Then they sped off down the hallways. They emerged out the front of the base, hurled several mouse grenades into the base, and took off through the mine field in a cloud of dust. Several seconds later the base went up in a spectacular fireball.
The three mice rode for several hours until it began to get dark. Tracer spotted a good area to make camp for the night and stopped there. She turned to look at Centerline and Kicker.
"This'll be a good place to make camp. We can reach the base tomorrow morning."
Kicker and Centerline both nodded and the three began to set up camp. If Kicker wondered at the somewhat tense silence between his rescuers, he didn't mention it. In relative silence Tracer prepared supper, which Kicker wolfed down before asking if she'd made more. To his surprise she had.
"You deserve a decent," she paused and eyed the rations, "well, half-way decent meal."
Kicker smiled, "anything is better than what those stink-faces have been feeding me. Even leftover army rations."
All three laughed.
Just as he was finishing, Kicker yawned.
"Time to get some sleep."
Tracer took care of the dinner stuff while Kicker fell asleep. Centerline just sat next to his bike, watching the tall mouse. When she was done Tracer checked and made sure Kicker was sleeping deeply, then sat down across from Centerline.
"That's quite a bit of interesting information you picked up during your time in the desert."
Tracer shrugged, "well, I traveled a lot, met a lot of beings."
Centerline let out a somewhat frustrated breath.
"Look, let's stop this pretending and verbal dance and cut to the chase. You find out that Kicker is a Plutarkian prisoner, and the same day you head out on a path directly to the secret base where he's being held with only enough prep time to pack a sack and get a bike. You also are able to find a path through a hidden mine field. I don't care who you met or what information you gathered in your two-and-a-half years, that is just too much that goes together. That is NO coincidence. I want answers, and I want them now. Honest answers."
Centerline stopped and watched the young mouse. There was more to her knowledge than she let on, and she wasn't going to give him the run around this time.
Tracer sighed, then searched his mind to see what he suspected and what he knew and to figure out the best way to answer him. Then she came across what Stoker had told him earlier that day. She was mad. Her eyes flashed as she stared at Centerline.
"So that's it? Stoker figured that because you weren't really a Martian either that you'd understand me better, that I'd be more apt to open up to you? He had no right to tell you about me. No right at all." Too late she realized her mistake.
Centerline's face went from shock, to surprise, to understanding.
"So, that's how you did it. You're telepathic! That explains a lot about you. No other mouse has ever been telepathic, so it must have something to do with the other species that make up your genetics. Why didn't you tell anyone else?"
Tracer sighed. How am I going to deal with this? I can't erase his memory.
"Tell the rest of the Freedom Fighters that I can read minds? I really don't want to cause the panic THAT bit of information would invoke. On top of it, I'd never get any rest. The brass would always be asking me to nail all the spies, screen this person or that person, tell them where the Plutarkians are, where all the Rats are, where all the Stalkers are, where all the Sand Raiders are, what they're doing, what they're planning, what they know. On top of that I'm sure government and Army scientists would just love to get their hands on me, which would reveal my, ah, unique genetic code. And they would be afraid of me anyway. Plus, the Freedom Fighters are doing their job well. No, I'll keep it to myself and do what I can. Plus, I've been learning some of the rules and morals of Telepaths and I'd like to adhere to them."
Centerline thought about what she'd said. "Very well, I'll keep your secret. As long as you promise to use it wisely."
Tracer looked insulted at the suggestion that she wouldn't. "Of course I will."
Tracer looked at Centerline, her eyes wary and almost pleading. "How do you deal with it?"
Centerline looked at her questioningly, "deal with what?"
"How do you deal with being a Martian and not having any real Martian family? Not knowing the Martians whose DNA they used to make you Martian?"
"Honestly? I don't really think about it much. I've got my sister and mother back on earth, and here on Mars I have my wife, son, daughter, and the family that took me in as one of their own. They are my family."
Tracer sighed, "oh, well."
"Oh well what?"
"You have a real biological family that you know and love. You wouldn't know what it's like to not know your biological parents. Hell, I've got so many it'd be impossible to know them all. You just have no idea. I'll never know the people whose genetics make up my genetic structure. How could you relate to that feeling?"
"Perhaps I can't, but I know someone who can."
Tracer raised her eyebrow in question.
"When we return to the base I think you should take a trip to earth as soon as possible. You should talk to my niece, Airik. I think she could help you."
Tracer looked at him skeptically, then shrugged and agreed.
Centerline yawned. "Well, I think it's time we did like Kicker there and slept."
Tracer nodded her agreement and the two nice dozed next to their bikes.
The next morning the three mice woke early and headed for the base. The mouse that let them in greeted them, with a surprised look to the thin Kicker. When they arrived several mice, including Stoker and Carbine, were waiting for them.
"Good work," Stoker said. Carbine and the other mice approached Kicker.
As he got off Tracer's bike he sighed, "I know, I know. Debriefing." He turned to Tracer, "I'll meet up with you later when they're through with me." Both friends smiled at each other as Kicker was escorted away.
Stoker clapped Centerline on the back.
"Well, looks like you're free to go. Thanks for the help."
Centerline smiled. "My pleasure," he turned to Tracer, "don't forget what I told you." Centerline turned and left.
Stoker looked at Tracer questioningly. She only shook her head.
"Anyhow, I'd like to talk to you. In my office."
Tracer nodded and followed Stoker to his office where they took seats on opposite sides of his desk.
"While you and Centerline were rescuing Kicker I met with several commanders. Tracer, would you consider being a member of the Freedom Fighter's Special Forces?"
Tracer looked at her commander in surprise, but said nothing. Stoker continued.
"You'd be assigned to a squad as second in command, but you'd also have Special Forces duties. We could use a mouse of your abilities in such a position. You'd also be called into a Special Forces squad as commander when we need Special Forces. Do you accept?"
Tracer watched Stoker as she considered. Special Forces would be the ideal way to put my skills to use. "What about the unique level of my abilities?"
"That's all taken care of. And no one under your command will question it."
Stoker smiled, then handed her a sealed envelope.
"Here are your official papers," he handed her a small plastic bag, "and here's your second- in-command insignia. You'll meet your squad tomorrow during exercises. That's all."
Tracer turned to leave his office.
"And try not to make too much noise when the four of you meet up."
Tracer looked at Stoker, who winked at her. They both smiled and Tracer left.
Quite a way down the halls Tracer ran into Jumpstart and Chase.
"Is it true? You and Centerline rescued Kicker?" Jumpstart asked eagerly.
Tracer smiled warmly. "Yup. He's back. Should be through debriefing by now too."
"Well, let's head towards the debriefing area, we'll probably run into him on the way there," Chase said.
The three walked down the hallways. Several minutes later they rounded a corner and Chase almost ran over another mouse. Instead of apologizing, Chase gave the mouse a macho hug upon seeing who he was.
"Kicker, man, it's great to have you back!"
"It's great to be back," Kicker gasped out.
Jumpstart and Tracer simultaneously hugged the two other mice, all four whooping in joy.
"Kicker, you're thin as a rail!" Jumpstart proclaimed once the group hug was over.
"Eh, what can I say. Bad food plan I was on."
The four friends laughed.
"Well, it's just about lunch time. Let's go to the mess hall and show you how bad the food still is," Chase said.
"Onward," Kicker said as he pointed down the hall towards the mess hall. The four friends proceeded to the mess hall, the sound of their conversation and laughter preceeding them.