I do not own the BMFM and make not profit from this story.
It is strictly for the entertainment of anyone who would do me
the honor of reading it.
Karn is the wonderful creation of Gabrielle and I thank her very much for
letting me use her in this story

She Thing.
Words of the title from a song by Salt and Pepa
Story by Morning 2000.

It ain't a man's world
No more sugar and spice
It's a she thing and it's all in me
I can be anything that I wanna be
Don't consider me a minority
Open up your eyes and maybe you'll see.


Charley could finally let her head fall on her pillow and the softness of her bed totally envelops her. It had been an exhausting day with business picking up she was busier than she'd ever been. Limburger for some unknown reason had been very quiet so she was taking the time to tend to her neglected business.

She wondered if Lord Camembert had just gotten so fend up with old Uncle Larry that he'd turn him into the catch of the day. Charley laughed as she saw Limburger lay out on a big platter. Done just right and a big tub of tartar sauce placed next to him.

"Charlene, you must be really tired," was the last thing she said as sleep took her over.

That sleep didn't last before she was awaken by someone knocking. Still groggy she looked up at the dim green light of her clock radio, "3:00 AM! Somebody better be dead or dying!" Charley fumed as she struggled out of bed putting her robe on backwards, and practically falling down the stairs.

As she got closer to the door her thinking began to clear and she really hoped that it wasn't any trouble with the guys. But it couldn't be them they never knock.
Now considering her life lately she began to get nervous having some pretty strange people pop in on her. So she crept up to the door and bracing her foot against it she leaned to see if she could hear anything unusual. Then a familiar voice called.

"Charley Charlene Davidson."

"Who is it?" Charley whispered cautiously

"Have you forgotten me already?"

"Smoke?!" Charley shouted as she threw the door open.

"Smoke!" Charley squealed as she threw her arms around the female Martian.

"Well, are you going to let us in or do we visit out here?" Smoke chuckled as she hardly returned the hug.

" Of course come on inuh all of you." Charley noticing the two figures standing behind her. Both females, one is taller than the other is. The taller of the two hesitates a second before entering not being as confident of their safety as Smoke.

"Relax Karn I told you we can trust Charley," Smoke reassured her. "You too baby come on in it's safe".

Karn letting her guard down a little stepped in and after a minute relaxed a bit.
She stood about 5'5" with a mixture of gray, brown, white and black fur that seem to cover her entire body. A body well trained to be fast and probably lethal. She resembled a wolf and even though she took a little getting use too Charley had to admit she was very beautiful in an alien kind of outer world way. She was dressed in what looked like some type of uniform. Form fitting almost metallic blue. Long sleeved, off the shoulder and a belt hung low on her hips. Her hair pushed back off her face flowing in waves down her back like a waterfall, and cool blue gray eyes that watched everything.

"The name is Karn," she said as she walked up to Charley and extends a hand. "Smoke has said many fine things about you and finally I get to meet you. It is both a pleasure and an honor."

Charley thinking she should be use to seeing unusual looking beings takes her hand and returns the firm handshake. "I am glad to meet you too. Any friend of Smoke is always welcome at the Last Chance."

Charley turns her attention to address the little person trying to disappear behind Smoke.

"And who is this little shadow?" She smiled.

"This is Tatara, my daughter," Smoke said proudly as she guided the youngster closer to Charley.

"Daughter!?" Charley said sounding more surprised than she intended to.

You are also very welcome here Tatara," Charley again extending her hand but to her further surprise the youngster walked up extended her own hand and touched Charlie's face.

"I hope you don't mind but this is the only way I can hear you or have you hear me. Momma says she didn't think you would mind. I just needed to thank you for saving her life the last time she was here." The child's small soft voice filled Charlie's mind. Only a bit startled Charley looks into the adorable alien face and welcomes her as well.

Quickly dropping her head the child retreated back to the safety of her mother. Appearing about 10 or 11yrs old, small built with a very slight blue tint to her pale furless skin. Having an almost human look about her the delicate features and a somewhat ill starred expression captures Charlie's heart immediatly. Her large almond shaped aqua blue eyes only add to the already pixie like appearance, along with the masses of long snow-white hair reaching almost to the floor and familiar red antenna. One would almost except to see soft gossamer wings coming from the child's back.

"Well everyone make yourselves comfortable and tell me to what do I owe the honor of this visit. Can I get you anything first?" Charley motioned for the couch.

"Nothing Charley but if Tatara could lie down for a little while she is exhausted. She never does well with the interplanetary traveling." Smoke said as they all removed their coats.

"Sure she can use the spare room I will take her up if you'd.."

"No, I will take her. It's important that you and Smoke talk." Karn interrupted motioning for Tatara to follow her.

"Well okay it's right at the top of the stairs first door on the left." Charley pointed up toward the room.

The young girl looked for her mother's nod of approval. She smiled and nodded, the two head up the stairs.
Smoke sat on the couch letting her head fall back then taking a deep breath she started telling Charley their reason for coming to earth.

"We are here to bring one of the foulest creatures to ever breath life, back to Mars for trial. His name is Ztalavious.

Charley could hear Smoke's voice harden and turn to ice.

"A while back on one of Plutark's distant moons he had a lab where he was taking imprisoned children and experimenting on them trying to turn them into soldiers for the mighty Plutarkian Empire. A lot of DNA stuff. We found out about it and set out to shut him down and hopefully rescue the kids. Some how Ztalavious got wind that we were coming and escaped but not before he tried to destroy the place and the children. By the time we got there only a few were alive, barely. Believe it or not Tatara was one of the very fortunate. For whatever sick reason he removed her vocal cords and made her deaf but she wasn't disfigured like so many of the others."

"But if this monster did all those things to her why would you bring her here, if he's here?" Charley asked in an unintentionly accusing tone.

"Because it's the only hope we have of ever finding him. They have some kind of connection. If there were another way I would never have allowed it, but he has to be stopped. And she wants to be part of stopping him. It's important to her that he never does to anyone else what he did to her and those that died." Smoke turns away fighting a silent battle.

"I am sorry Smoke I had no right to sound like I was judging you. I know you wouldn't do anything to put her in any unnecessary danger, so tell me how is she your daughter?"

Taking a breath to refocus Smoke continues, "When we finally got to the lab, I thought I had seen the worst a Plutarkian could do until I saw this place. It was horror beyond words. They were locked in cages like wild animals. Most were Martians children, even though you could hardly tell anymore. That's when I saw Tatara. She was this tiny little shadow of a thing hidden in the back of a filthy cage, tagged with her name like a lab experiment. At first she wouldn't even let me touch her then after a bit of tender coaxing I was able to pick her up. When I did she reached up and put this tiny half starved hand to my face. Then I heard her voice in my head whisper; "Please help me?" and she looked at me. Those eyes Charley, those strange frighten eyes bore a hole in my heart. I will never forget that feeling as long as I live. We tried to save the others but she was the only one to survive. The rest were just too weak, been through too much." Smokes voice little more than a whisper.

Quickly refocusing she continues, "Anyway we've been together ever since and it hasn't been easy for her. Because she looks somewhat Plutarkian, many mice at the base shy away from her, don't trust her. But we deal with it and we have each other."

" But why does she call you Momma your not old enough to be her mother." Charley questions

"Because she needs me to be. I will do what ever I have to make her feel safe and as happy as I can. She needed me to be her mother than that's what I am, simple as that."

"You're a special piece of work Smoke, I hope Vinnie realizes that." Charley smiles admiringly.

"It's nothing really she gives me just as much, another reason to keep living keep wanting to survive. We have so little left of our world, our people and even though some don't see it she is our future. If we are to ever going to rebuild our home the young will have to be there to provide the foundation." Smoke was almost talking to herself as if she were reciting a personal vow.

Charley changes the subject before she broke out in tears realising the true devastation the inhabitants of Mars were facing, "So you have traced this nut case to earth? Here in Chicago?"

Smoke again bring her mind back to Charley," No not here, New York. You see this guy has a thing for the bright lights, pretty faces, big money and the high life. He is said to have the charm of a prince and the heart of evil itself. And he is smart, real smart he could give Karbunkle a run for his money. Our last report was he is involved in the modeling industry. He is part of one of the big agency from what they were able to find out. What he looks like, what he does is still pretty sketchy."

" So that all means what?" Charley says raising one eyebrow.

Smiling sweetly Smoke puts her arm around Charlie's shoulder. "Well my dear Charlene we need that pretty face, and wonderful brain of yours."

Smoke's voice turn serious once more. "Charley this guy is dangerous and if we are ever going to stop him we really need your help. Will you help us?

Charley thought for a second knowing there was no way she would refuse. "Smoke if I didn't help, I would be leaving my own world opened for them to do to it what they did to yours. What ever you need I'm there for you."

"Thanks Charley some how I knew you would be. We can work out the details after I have taken care of the other part of our little mission. You know we are going to need the big muscles to deal with this guy."

"Does Vinnie know about Tatara?"

"No, we've talked by radio some but I wanted to tell him face to face. How has he really been Charley?

" Vinnie is always the life of the party but he has missed you something awful. You know he's a hard one to figure out but if you love her, I know he will too. Under all that ego and macho is a heart of gold, not that he would ever admit it." Charley laughed.

Just then Karn came down the stairs. "I stayed with her until she was asleep. It is a very restless sleep though. I hope this isn't too much for her Smoke." Karn said in very sheltering voice.

"I know but it's what we have to do. If there where any other way" Smoke stopped trying not to let the guilt over take her. She knew there was always some element of danger. Karn put a reassuring hand on Smoke shoulder, "I should never question anything you do for that little one.. I know you will do what's best for her and the mission."

"Charley would you mind if we leave Tatara here while we go to the scoreboard. Karn has never met the guys and I need to let them know what's going on as soon as possible."

"Sure if you think she won't mind being here alone with me?"

"I think she will probably sleep for awhile and she knows I would never leave her with someone I didn't trust to take good care of her. And as much as I've talked about you she will be fine." Smoke said as she put her coat on to leave.

Karn got her things and they left for the scoreboard. Charley was surprised not to hear the sound of a motorcycle starting up. As she looked out of the window to see how they where getting around, she saw the two women leave in a very sleek looking black sports car. Charley shook her head and said, "Smoke, you have got some style."

The Scoreboard:

As the two females pulled up to the scoreboard Smoke gave a glance to Karn and both stepped out of the car. Checking out the area making sure they weren't detected they effortlessly gain access inside. Once there they scanned the darken room and got there baring. The bikes parked in the corner and the three heroes sleeping like babies in a nursery.

"So how do we make our presence known?" Karn whispered in a soft almost giggle.

Smoke just gave a wicked grin pulled a small device out of her pocket.
Tossing it toward the bikes it let off a dim light. The bikes buss for a slit second then where quiet again.

"That's so we don't get our tails shot off by Vinnie's other lady not to mention her friends. They can be very protective of their men." Smoke winked and Karn just shook her head.

As they moved like they were walking on air the two women slowly approach the sleeping Bikermice. Smoke looked at Karn and whispered, "Pretty cute, huh? As she points to Vinnie sleeping on his hammock.

"Sweet enough to kiss but you didn't tell me that Throttle was such a good looking mouse, whoa. In fact Modo is pretty nice too. Talk about being let loose in the candy store, " Karn cooed and begin grateful she could see so well in the dark

"Yeah tell me about it. Throttle is suppose to be Carbine's but you won't think it the way she has been acting lately. Any way I think I will keep the hyper one, "Smoke giggled as she bent closer to Vinnie. She slightly touched her antenna to his forehead and after a few moments Vinnie's eyes slowly opened and he smiled a whimsical smile.

"You know I hate this dream it's way too real but never real enough." Vinnie touching her face and pulling it close enough to kiss. After a moment he pulled his face away. Smoke just smiled sweetly but Vinnie blinked realizing he wasn't dreaming.

"Smoke, babe how'd you.." She put her fingers to his lips and kissed him again.

Karn stood in the dark just watching the two and sighed not really sure what she should do? Also not paying attention to the fact she was being watched herself. Throttle had wakened and not moved, unsure of who the strange figure was that was standing in the darkness. His wasn't about to take any chances. He quietly reached for his specks that were never to far from his reach. Then with the speed of his years of training he pounced at the figure grabbing it from behind. Karn instinctively reacted to the attack grabbed his arm and threw him across the room. He hitting the wall with a large loud THUD!!

Modo hearing all the commosion jumped up rolled out of bed and hit the lights.
Aiming his weapon directly at Karn. She still in her fighting stance teeth bared ready for what ever.

Smoke realising what was happening yelled, "NO MODO SHE'S A FRIEND"

Modo still not quite awake, reacting more on adrenaline tried to focus and see what was going on. Everyone stood still for a second then Vinnie broke the silence, "Does my lady know how to make an entrance or what?

Everyone broke into laughter and relaxed. Karn walked over to Throttle and offered a hand to help him up. "Sorry it's force of habit I guess," She smiled. He stared at her, then took her hand and got up. Smiling he stammer," Uh. t-t-t-thanks."

Modo watched for a moment smirking at the awe struck expression on the other wise cool Throttle's face and stepped up and introduced himself.

"How do ma'am, Welcome to our little part of the universe." Modo said as he offered his hand to Karn. She took his hand and looked admiringly at the, extremely well built, gentlemanly, gray mouse.

"The name is Modo ma'am and the guy with his mouth open is Throttle. And I guess you've figured that the other guy is Vinnie."

Throttle realized that he actually was standing there with his mouth gaping open.
He coughed and tried to play it off while attempting to hide his embarrassment at the same time. He was also thinking how he was going to slowly kill Modo when he got the chance.

"I know, Smoke has told me a great deal about all of you, but she didn't do any of you justice. My name is Karn as Smoke says I'm a friend," Karn said with a coy smile.

"Why don't you make yourself comfortable while we get more presentable." Modo said always the perfect gentleman and knowing how to treat any lady.

Karn was delighted by the actions of this Martian. "I have rarely met anyone with your mannerism Modo. It is quite a delight and a wonderful change from most of the males I know."

Modo nodded and showed her to a place she could sit down and relax for a few moments.
"Well as my gray furred Momma always said, A lady is a lady no matter were she sprouts from. As specially one as beautiful as yourself"

Karn had to laugh out loud at this wonderful person whose company she was completely enjoying. But she had noticed that Throttle had become distant and quiet. She hoped that he wasn't too embarrassed by what Modo had said.

"It isn't too often that I am complimented by such flattering attention most find my appearance kind of disturbing." She said as she smiled at Throttle. He looked at her and returns the smile.

By this time Smoke and Vinnie had finished with their reunion for the moment.
Smoke walked over to where Karn sat.

"So I see I don't need to do any intros, you have met the legions of the known universe." Smoke chuckles with sarcasm.

" No, she hasn't, she hasn't met me yet, Vinnie chimes in his ego always intact.
With that he walked over to Karn took her hand and in a very un-Vinnie like fashion kissed it.

"It is my pleasure lovely lady."

"Smoke what ever you got you need to put it in a bottle and sell it because you have just worked a miracle. That can't be our Vinnie." Modo said laughing.

"Hey there no telling what the love a good women can do bro," Vinnie said as he gave Smoke a wink and blew her a kiss.

Back at the Garage:

Charley had fallen asleep on the couch. She figured that when Smoke and Karn did come back the guys would be with them so she would just wait where she was. Again her sleep was interrupted by the sound of something hitting the floor above her. Her thoughts went immediately to Tatara and she headed up the stairs to see if the youngster was safe.

When Charley got to the bedroom she saw Tatara sitting on the bed holding the picture kept on the nightstand. It was of her mother and father, they were holding a very young Charley in their arms. In reaching for the picture the radio must have gotten knock on the floor. Charley smiled and stood at the door not sure if she should initiate the conversation or what. Tatara motioned for her to come closer. Charley sat close to her on the bed and let the dainty alien hand softly touch her face.

"We can talk now, you aren't afraid of me. Back on Mars I can't talk to many they are afraid, like they think I will hurt them. Mostly it's Momma or Karn, sometimes Mr. Stoker and my friend Rimfire, but not many others. I get kind of lonely, especially when Momma has to go on a mission and I can't go. Is this your momma and daddy? They look real nice. I can't remember mine I was too little when they took me. Smoke, Karn and me we are a family. She said that Vinnie is going to be part of our family too. I sure hope he likes me." Tatara prattled like she had been locked away in a dungeon, like she had been starving for some one new to share her special voice with.

Charley put her hand atop Tatara's and tells her, "We can talk any time you'd like and I'm sure Vinnie will be crazy about you. I would be if you were going to be my little girl." Tatara's face lights up as she realizes the new friend she's found.

Charley starts to think of another way she might be able to talk to Tatara. She got up went out and after a few seconds returned with a book she had studied off and on for quite a few years. It was a book of sign language needing to learn how to use it after her Grandmother lost her hearing. She had even taken a few classes and had gotten very competent. Handing the book to Tatara, Charley hoped that maybe she could pick up a few signs. But Tatara scanned through each page then putting the book down. She began to sign like she had known it her whole life. Charley was shocked to say the least. In fact Tatara was signing so well Charley had to slow her down to be able to keep up.

"Your are an amazing little lady." Charley signed.

Tatara signed, "This is wonderful it's almost like really talking to people. Thank you Miss Charley!"

"Well as long as the other person knows this sign language you can. How could you learn that so fast." Charley signed.

"It's because of those experiment he did to me." Tatara sighed back. Her face losing it's smile.

Just then Charley heard the sound of the bikes pulling up.

"That sounds like everybody's back. I am going to get dress why don't you go down and let them in." Charley sighed.

Tatara threw her arms around Charley thanking her again then pop off the bed and headed down the stairs.

Charley sat for a few moments pensively putting the picture back. "You know Mom and Dad I am going to have to tell you about all this one of these days." She got up and went to get dressed.

As the group entered Tatara ran to Smoke and excitedly holding her mother's face tells her of the wonderful gift she was given.

"Is that right you have to show me this new way of speaking with your hand." Smoke said as she hugged her daughter.

So this is the beautiful young lady you were telling us about." Throttle said as he gave his handsomest smile.

Tatara blushed thinking to her mother, "He is very handsome Mama. I like him a lot. What did he say?"

But before Smoke could tell her Modo walked over gently picked up her hand and placing it to his face, "Welcome lil darlin'. Hope we can get to be good friends you n' me."

Tatara was delighted, "Uncle Modo! You are Rimfire's Uncle Modo I know you. He talks about you all the time."

Then Smoke took Tatara over to meet Vinnie. "Vincent this is Tatara"

Now very nervous Tatara reluctantly approaches Vinnie and as she attempts to touch his face the icy glare he gives stops her in mid motion. He pushes her hand away not wanting the child to touch him. Without a word he turns and leaves.

Everyone is shocked by his actions. Tatara crying runs up the stairs and into the bedroom closing the door.

Smoke partially in shock but mostly Mother's rage storms out after him.


"I can't talk now sweetheart I have to get some air." With that Vinnie pulled off leaving Smoke puzzled and hurt.

Back in side Karn and Charley go up to see about Tatara.

Modo's eye turning fire engine red, he starts out after Vinnie. "That's it. He has flipped out just one too many times. I am going to find him and teach that boy some manners. How could he hurt such a sweet little girl?"

"Hold on big fella, now we don't know why. Give him a chance." Throttle said trying to keep Modo from braking every bone in Vinnie body. When it came to children Modo was unforgiving. No one hurt a child, no one even a bro.

Smoke walked in dazed and sat down, " I thought he would be thrilled about Tatara. Throttle what was that all about?"

He walked over and put an arm around her shoulder, "Vinnie has his ways but give him some space. What ever it is he'll deal with it and then he'll be back."
Throttle wasn't too sure if he even believe what he'd just said.

Somewhere in Chicago:

Vinnie didn't care where he was going he just knew it was away. Fleeing away from the past, away from the present. As he rode he couldn't get the girls face out of his mind. A Plutarkian, a rotten stinkfish was all he saw. Deep inside he knew it wasn't her fault but still the hate grew and it was all he could feel at that moment. Looking at her all he could see was the death of his own family, the death of his world, and his own death because of all that was taken from him.
He found himself on a deserted rode not far from of the city, then an open field. He finally stopped letting his bike go and wanting to hit something anything to get the rage out. Make the pain go away. He kicked the ground, screamed at the top of his lungs. Fell on his knees and pounded the ground as hard as he could. Cursing the Plutarkians, his life, his bros, and even Smoke. He hit the ground so hard that both his hands bled, but he didn't care. He had to hurt someone.

Karn and Charley were attempting to comfort the now almost hysterically crying Tatara
Karn was beside herself with anger growling loudly, "What kind of creature is that Vincent. The child only wanted to show her affection. How could he be so unfeeling and cruel? This child has one of the purest souls I have ever known. She harbors no one even a mean thought."

Charley backed up just a bit seeing how wolf like Karn had become and the anger on her face.

"Look Karn you don't know Vinnie. I am not excusing what he did but we have to at least find out his reasons." Charley was attempting to calm her down.

Charley looked at the young girl and signed, "Things aren't always the way they look at first. It might not be as bad as you think."

Karn touched the child's head and left the room. As she went down the stairs, she did not try to hide her anger.

"Smoke, you'd better go to her this is more than I know how to handle. She is beyond any comfort I could give."

Smoke went up to her daughter. As she entered the room Charley realized it was time for her to leave them alone.

Smoke pulled the shaking Tatara onto her lap. She reaches down and tenderly picks up the small trembling hand and holds it to her face. In her minds voice she offers what comfort she could.

" I'm sorry he acted like that baby, that you were hurt so. But I will find out why I promise."

"He hates me, the part of me that is Plutarkian. I have seen that look before. Other mice have look at me like that, turn from me like that. Why do they hate me momma? I don't understand. I try so hard but they still" Tatara's anguished voice rang through her Mother's mind.

" Why didn't I just die with the others it would have made everything so much easier for you"

Smoke looking her directly in the eyes told her, " Don't you ever say that again. You are one of the few joys I have in my life. Vincent doesn't hate you, I don't think any of them do. It's the years of pain and sorrow they've had to endure that they hate. But they aren't important now you are. No one has a right to hurt you because of his or her pain. Not Vincent, not anyone."

Tatara with searching eyes asks, "But you love him so much. What if he doesn't come back?"

"If he loves me, really loves me than we will work it out. And if he doesn't than he's not what I want or need. Remember what I told you, why your are my Imza. Besides we have to stick together, we're a team you and me."

"Karn too?" Tatara smiled as she looks lovingly into her mother's eyes remembering the name and the special reason she was given it.

"Yeah Karn too." Smoke answered hugging her daughter tightly. They sat for a few moments just holding on to each other.

Tatara now all smiles shows the book Charley had given, and some of the signs. Smoke proudly looked at her daughter and thinks to herself, "How beautiful, thank you Charley this means more than you can know."

Down in the living room things were real quite. Charley was still trying to figure out why Vinnie had treated Tatara the way he had. Karn sat fuming from the fact that anyone would hurt someone she cared so much for. Throttle and Modo didn't have a clue to what was going on so silence was the best they could offer. Then Tatara came bouncing down the stairs face full of smiles holding her new treasure in her hands. She was going to show Karn and her new friends how to use the new language.

Throttle knelt down, takes her hand holds it to his face asks her, "You feel better? Those eyes are much too pretty to be filled with tears."

Tatara liked watching him talk and as his low mellow voice filled her head it made her feel warm safe and appreciative at what his actions told her.

" Thank you." The small voice replayed. She released his face and hugged his neck.

She walks over to Karn taking her by the hand to show her how to form some of the signs they smile at each other like they are sharing some special secret. Then with a spark of mischief in her eyes Tatara motioned for Throttle to join them and as he sat down Tatara popped up leaving the two to get better aquatinted.

Tatara giggled silently and went to where Modo sat. She stared at him for a second then with out a bit of shyness she took a place right next to him. Taking his hands she showed him the sign for friend. Then pointed toward her. As he looked at her face he couldn't help but smile and touch it ever so gently. Then to her surprise he signed family and point to him. She understood and kneeling up she gave him a small peck on the cheek and hugged his enormous neck. With her tiny hand again to his cheek she tells him, "I know you miss your little girls and it still makes you very sad, but our being friends will help it not hurt so much"

Modo almost lost in the child's beautiful blue eyes doesn't even wonder how she knew.
He simply smiles and enjoys the time he can spend with this little piece of wonder presently gracing his life.

Smoke seeing that her daughter was in good hands realized that she could go and get things straightened out with Mr. Van Wham.

"Charley can I use your bike?"

"Sure, but do you think you should go after him and how would you find him any how?"

Smoke pulled out a portable tracking device. "Modo what is the frequency of Vinnie's bike radio."

Once getting the need information she told Charley. "If we are going to go any further this has got to be settled now. Karn, I haven't forgotten our mission but I can't take care of that until I take care of this."

Modo noticing Tatara's sudden change in mood realising what her mother was going to do sweeps her up onto his shoulders. Still holding her hand to his face.

"Let's go lil darlin you come on with your Uncle Modo and we can whip up some eats.
I am not too bad with the pots and pans. I can always use a good helper."

Tatara looks at her mother smiling brighter than Smoke can ever remember goes with Modo on to the kitchen.

Charley watching the two realising for the first time why Modo had such a fierce protective love of children. At some time in the past there was another smiling little girl who occupied those enormous shoulders. She thought, "Daddy's little girl." Then decided to follow them, she'd just remembered the last time Modo did any cooking and she was going to protect her poor kitchen. Beside after Smoke left she wasn't about to be a third wheel.

As Smoke turned to leave she looked at Throttle and then at Karn. "Hey, make sure you remember this a male not a meal."

Throttle wasn't really sure whether this warning was a joke or not, smiled very nervously.

Smoke hopped on Charlie's bike left to find Vinnie. As she checked the tracking device it was leading her straight to him. She rode out of the city and before long she was at the deserted area. Finally she saw Vinnie's bike then him standing a short distance from it. He had heard the bike coming a ways off knowing Smoke was the rider. He made no attempt to move from where he was standing, only watch her approach.

"You know we have to talk about what happen, Vincent."

Vinnie looked away from her; "I told you, I just need some air."

"You have never been a good liar," Smoke said not letting him evade what had to be said.

Then Vinnie wheeled around and grabbed her by the shoulder and staring coldly into her eyes told her, "Okay you want to talk, You want to hear me say it, I can't stand the sight of her. That so called daughter of yours makes me sick even to be near her. She's a bottom dwelling murderous PLUTARKIAN!!

Before Smoke could think she slapped Vinnie across the unshielded part of his face.


Vinnie grabbed her wrist, "THE DEATH OF MY FAMILY GIVES ME THE RIGHT!!!"

Smoke now saw the hate Tatara did and pulls away.

"You saw how they butchered my parents, experimented on my brother until I was glad when he finally died. I don't even know how they killed my sister, she was only a baby." Vinnie's voice was now filled with grief.

"Do you think I lost any less when my family died?" Smoke now calmer reminds him. "But Vincent, she is part of our people too. She has suffered as much as any of us maybe more. You can't hate her for things she had no part of, because of how she looks."

"Sorry Sweetheart that's the way it is. I feel, like I feel." Vinnie said not able to look at her.

Smoke had nothing else to say. She loved him, very much, but if she had to make a choice.

"Vincent we will be leaving for New York in a few days, you have to deal with your own demons your own way. But Tatara is my daughter in every sense of the word and I won't give her up for you or anyoneI love you."

Smoke walked away, got on the bike and left

The Last Chance:

Getting back to the garage Smoke fell on the couch exhausted in mind and body.
She hadn't even notice anyone else was there. Charley got up from the table and asked if she'd like something to eat.

"No thanks Charley just some rest."

Tatara feeling her mother's hurt got up and sat next to her snuggling close to offer her comfort. Smoke put her arms around her daughter and they drew comfort from each other. Charley signaled Modo to head for the kitchen to let them get some rest. She got a blanket and put it over them. Smoke held Charlie's hand and with a sad smile she gave it a squeeze of thanks. In a short time they both drifted off to sleep.

After Awhile:

Before too long Vinnie found his way back to the garage, by this time Modo was doing the clean up in the kitchen and Charley had decided to catch up on some work out in the garage.

Charley stopped what she was doing and faced him, "So you want to talk, tell me what's going on?"

Vinnie glared at her. "NO, I DON'T WANNA TALK!"

Charley flared back at him, "Excuse me for caring. Look! You just keep acting like an idiot and making enemies out of everybody, I was only trying to help."

Charley slammed her tools down and got ready to walk out on him when he gently held her arm to stop her.

"I `m sorry Charley girl don't go," Vinnie pleaded.

Before he said anything she noticed the condition of his hand. "What happen to your hands it looks like you use them to break down a brick wall."

Vinnie just shrugged.

"Come here and let me at least clean them up before you get some kind of infection."

Charley got the first aid kit took his gloves off, and tried to tend to them the best she could. She knew that they were hurting him but he didn't even flinch.

Vinnie's voice was tired and unsure "You know I love her more than my life. But I can't change how I feel about those murders. When I see the kid I see them. I don't want to, but it's in my head and I can't shake it."

Charley finished and while putting things away she thought carefully before she said anything.

"I can't say that I know how you feel. I can't begin to imagine any one even surviving that kind of horror. But nothing can justify you hating that child in there. She is a victim herself filled with as much pain. You have to straighten this out or it's going to cost the most precious thing you'll ever have."

Just then Modo walked in and attacked Vinnie as soon as he saw him; "So Slick come back to cause that baby more heartache."

"Why don't you keep your big stupid face outta my business!" Vinnie fired back.

Modo's eye flashed bright red; "When you hurt that little girl, I made it my business BRO!"

Charley in a vain attempt to stop the warring Martians stepped in between the two.

"Hey you guys your are suppose to be bros. family remember? This won't solve anything." She said desperately

They glared at each other and Charley just prayed that a brawl wouldn't start. She had just recovered from the last time these two had a difference of opinion and this was much worse. Vinnie surprisingly backed down not out of fear but because he knew Modo had every right to be mad, they all did.

"Your wrong Charley I don't have any family," Vinnie said as he picked up his gloves, got on his bike and tore out of the garage.

Modo started after him but Charley said, " No! Let him go. He has to work this out."

Vinnie rode crazier than usual. Trying to out ride all the bad feeling that filled him.
He finally got to the scoreboard pulled his bike up and fell down on his hammock.
He lay there staring at the ceiling not wanting to think any more. He put his arms across his eyes.

"Am I ever going to find any kind of peace in this crazy thing I call my life."

It was all he could think before he fell into the sweet blackness of sleep. Sleep that could let his heart and mind be free from pain, the pain of his past and now his uncertain future.

After Smoke left to search for Vinnie, Karn turned to Throttle, "Modo has a deep love of children. I can see it when he looks at Tatara. But you're other bro why does he act like that?"

Throttle attempts to explain, "Modo has always had a soft spot for kids he comes from a big family. Three sisters and a bunch of nieces and nephews. He was the first to fix that broken toy or clean a dirty face. Even had kids of his own once. Vinnie was a pretty normal kid. He had a brother, a sister and his parents. Our families were all close; we all grew up together. Then the Plutarkians came and all sanity left. Vinnie's family was the first to be taken by the Plutarkian. Then I didn't see him for a few years. I guess that's when he was in the camp with Smoke. When we did meet up again he had changed, kind of a loose canon. We had all lost most of our families one way or the other by then so we stayed together. Vinnie has always been a righteous bro; they're when you need him. But emotional things set him spinning off sometimes. What's going through his head now is anybody's guess."

Karn sat silently for a moment then said, "We have all lost much because of the Plutarkians. If not our homes then ourselves." Thinking of her life.

Throttle seeing her mood slip into a deep sadness takes her by the hand and stands up.

"Come on enough talking about Vinnie and his problems. I am here with a very beautiful lady and I think there should be better things we can talk about. Do you like sunrises; this planet has some beauties? I know a place where we can really enjoy it."

Her natural leeriness made her hesitate for a moment but after a thought she agreed to go with him.

"I would love to. The sunrise is always wonderful no matter what the planet."

Throttle walked over picked up Karn's coat and put it around her shoulders. The sweet strange fragrance that surrounded her filled his head sending his senses reeling. He let his cheek brush softly against the incredible softness of her hair the feeling clouding his head even more. As his strong arms secured the coat around her shoulders she leaned into them just a bit, it felt good. Before Throttle could take his hands away she put hers atop them holding them in place. She turns her head to try and look past the shades into his eyes.

"You hide a lot behind those things."

Tipping the shades a bit, just enough for her to see past the glass."I show what I have to when I need to." His look slightly impish

Throttle called into the kitchen telling Charley and Modo they were going to be gone for a while. Both came out with Tatara close behind them. Tatara was snickering as she watches Karn actually letting a male attend to her. She signed looking at Modo, "family." He nodded yes as the two walked out.

Karn held him around the waist not really comfortable with letting someone else have control over her movements. Nor did she like the helmet that fit just a bit too snug around her head. But the feeling of being so close to Throttle soon made her forget the inconvience and she began to enjoy the ride. Many things were going through her mind as she could feel the strong toned body in her embrace. She could also sense a sadness and searching in him, a feeling she had known only too well.

Throttle's mind was also filled with contemplation. He and Carbine hadn't been exactly on the best of terms for the past months, to say the least. In fact the last argument they had, some pretty rotten things were said. The same things they always argued about or was it just one thing that had gotten way out of control. They weren't together and instead of the heart growing fonder her heart was turning toward someone else. It wasn't anything she said directly, it was more what she didn't say or said and he refused to hear. That it was over. He hadn't her from her since. Now there was this splendid creature holding him. Making him feel like his life was worth something, that he was worth something. There goes that road again making another twist but this time he was more then ready for it.

They stopped at beautiful hillside one that Limburger had failed to destroy and not many knew about. This place, Throttle kept just for himself. Taking Karn by the hand he guided her toward a special place where the view was more beautiful then anything he'd ever seen. She stood breathless looking at the majestic landscape. The crisp spring day had begun to paint it's magic, the sun bathing it in colors of red and gold.

"Do these earthlings know what a jewel they have in this world of theirs?" She said in a little more than a whisper afraid that speaking louder might some how break the spell the day was weaving.

"They probably don't. I know we didn't until the Plutarkians had taken it from us."

Karn studied the tall Martian seeing the death of a planet in his face. Sorrow and pain beyond the brink of sanity. No male's face had ever effected her so deeply.

They stood for a breath realising that something was happening, maybe too fast or not fast enough. He turned to look at the strange beauty standing next to him. That strange fragrance continues to intoxicate him. Karn remembered what Smoke had said about Carbine and she knew for herself of the other Martian male Carbine was spending a lot of time with.

" Some women don't know how good they have it," she chuckled to herself sadly.

But she wasn't going to think about it now. She would just enjoy the sunrise, the company and the moment as she slips her hand into his. He squeezing it gentle.

Back at the Garage:

It was later that evening when Throttle brought Karn back to the garage.
Modo had long since left, Charley and Smoke had been talking about the situation with Vinnie. They heard Throttle's bike pull up and Charley couldn't help but wonder how the two had gotten along.

" I hope they hit it off too. Karn hasn't had a lot of good in her life and she needs to have someone to really care about her. And with what's happening on Mars with Ms. Carbine Throttle deserves better."

Charley only looked at Smoke hoping she wasn't saying what she knew she was.

"That mouse has the worst things happen to him. It's a shame too he is so sweet and caring and.."

"FINE!" Both said in unison falling into a wild laughter.

Just then Karn walked in with that; he is the man of my life look (mouse in this case).
When she realized that her friends had waited up, she tried to down play what she was feeling. "You ladies still upWell I umm, I think I will get right to bed and see you both in the morning."

"Over my dead body. You don't think you are going anywhere with out letting us know what happened. Oh I don't think so." Smoke said with both her hands on her hips.

Karn stopped and looked at her friends for a moment then with a big smile she fell between the two of them on the couch. The three women talked and shared parts of their lives, late into the night. By the time they had finished, three friendships had been forged. A sisterhood beyond their difference races, lives and worlds.

I do not own the Biker Mice from Mars. I write this for my own entertainment and if fortune shines on me the entertainment of others. I will make no profit. Thanks again Gabby for letting me use your wonderful Karn. Hopefully "Beginnings" will be posted soon.

Changing For the Better

She Thing: Preparations to the City

The Last Chance Garage:

Smoke lay for a moment before getting up; she gazes down at Tatara sleeping snuggled in her arms, giving her a soft kiss on the top of the head, Tatara moves slightly but not waking from the serene sleep. Easing out of bed so as not to interrupt the rare moment of tranquility her daughter was enjoying. Then after shaking her hair loose heads down the stairs. Wonderful aromas floated in the air Charley having gotten up early and fixed breakfast.

"Hey Charley are you alone down there"

"It's just Karn and me come on down. No manly Martian males luring about, besides do you honestly think those guys get up this early, p-l-l-ease." Charley jokes as she puts the last of the food on the table

Smoke stretches running her hands through her black curls joining them at the table. Feeling refreshed in her natural state glad that she didn't have to use the transformation device while inside of Charlie's, sporting her over size tee shirt and white socks.

"You know one of these days I should learn to cook. I guess we're so use to eating at the base cafeteria I never took the time to learn, well not since I was a little girl before the war. But at least I can pour you ladies the coffee." Smoke picks up the pot.

"No Thanks, I hate the taste of that stuff," Karn gave a sour expression. She also sporting an over sized shirt her hair cascading down over her head shoulders, down her back
loose and relaxed.

"You don't know what's good. After that stuff they have on Mars this is pure ambrosia."
Smoke smiled as she poured herself and Charley healthy cups of what she termed the elixir of life.

"So what exactly is the plan?" Charley asked between sips.

"We know he is in New York; he is dealing in the modeling industry some where. Like I said this guys is no one to play with that's why we need the guys to come along.
He has a small army of highly skilled people. Not like those fools Limburger has.
We find out more when we contact Gates."

"Hold up who is Gates?" Charley blinks in surprise

" I haven't told you about Gates, have I Charley? Sorry, she is the person setting up a base of operation and has been in NY for about four months now."

"Our last communication from her was about 3 weeks ago she will give us a full report when we get there." Karn adds.

Charley paused a moment before she says anything not knowing how to phase the next question. "Smoke what does she look. I mean is she a Martian or? "

"Yes Charley she is a Martian, part mouse, part rat, one of the few of her people who are fighting with us against the Plutarkian."

Charley almost choked on her coffee, "Smoke are you kidding? Didn't they tell you how Modo feel about rats, any rat."

Smoke stands and walks away from the table. Her arms folded in a voice filled with frustration says, "Yeah they told me but first, she's one of my dearest friends, more a sister really. Not only is she skilled, loyal and important to this mission but she has more than paid her dues. She has had to deal with the fact that the other rats killed her mother because she dares fall in love and marry a mouse. Her father died trying to save his wife. She had to stay hidden and hear everything that happened. Then when they left her father for dead she stayed with him. Trying to keep him alive until help came. Which didn't come in time. So if Modo has any issues with her being part rat that's just too stinking bad."

"Whoa, down girl." Charley said chuckling nervously.

Smoke looked with an apologetic smile; " I'm sorry Charley I didn't mean to snap your head off. But these men and all their issues are just beginning to get on my nerves. When are they going to buy a clue, stop judging people on looks? Earth males aren't like that are they?"

Charley shook her head, "Smoke, come on be serious just take off the tail and fur and it's the same species. A few million miles of space isn't going to make that much difference.

Smoke sighed, " Too true but what would the universe be without them?"

"Full of a bunch of fat happy women and no war" Karn added out of the blue.

They looked at each other and squealed with laughter.

After a good laugh Smoke continues, "So anyway once we get there and contact Gates that's when Tatara will be able to help us most. He can hide from us but not her. I'm just worried I might be asking too much from her."

"Like you said it's what she wants too. She may be quiet most of the time but I think she can be a lot stronger than you may think. Than we both may think." Karn adds.

Just then Tatara comes bouncing down the stairs hands going a mile a minute. Feeling her mother's concerns she faces Charley and signs, "Mama forgets, I am almost grown up. I can do what I have to. Everyone has a part and this is mine. I want my mom to be proud of me. I want to be like a real freedom fighter."

Charley signs back, "I think she already is Sweetie"

Tatara grabs her mother round the waist then holds her face, "You proud of me, Mommy?"

Smoke placing her own hands lovingly a top her daughters, "You know I am partner"

At the Scoreboard (the previous night)

It was a very quiet night for the three heroes. Vinnie was asleep or appeared to be when Modo got there. So he let the situation go for the moment.
He put his bike up, disrobed and lay on his bed. Then he began to remember so long ago, when bed time meant, a ride on big shoulders, stories, kisses and the sweet smell of the peace seeing his family safety tucked in for the night. The feel of a soft loving form snuggling close as the night drew in and his arms wrapping around her.
Funny what can make you remember a sound, a smell, or a pair of large sad blue eyes?

Throttle was the last to find his way home, still not sure if this was all real, yet.
He checked to see that both his bros. were safe and sound then let his mind focus on the women in his life. For so long it was Carbine and she was the center of his universe even though that center was pretty rocky most of the time. For a split second there was that crazy unsure feeling he would get when he was too close to Charley for too long. Now the face of the beauty he'd just left still floated before him as he got ready for bed.
As he lay quietly remembering the wonder of what was happening to him, the sweetness of her presents hung in his mind as he drifted off.

Morning Breaks:

When the morning arrived the silence was strange and unsettling. The Biker Mice from Mars were never anything close to quiet. But then nothing so close to the heart had ever come between them before. Nothing that had pulled up so many memories that had been dealt with. Each stayed in his space until Vinnie broke the silence

"Okay, so I was wrong! Don't you think I know it? Do you think I want it like this?
Jeez! That women is everything too me! But I can't get past the kid. I tired and I just can't." Vinnie blared out catching Modo and Throttle both off guard.

Modo stood looking at his bro and sighed knowing only to well what this War has done to him, taken from him. How it's all but destroyed so many Martian men, women and children. He turned and walked up to Vinnie, putting his hand on his shoulder, " Hey Bro we all are trying to put what's left of our lives back together and I'm sorry I shot my mouth off yesterday. But I you gotta find a way to get this thing under some kind of control, or you're going to lose it all."

"Yeah Vincent, Tatara is a very sweet kid, part Plutarkian or not."

Vinnie let out a long breath and decided he was going to try. It was the least he could do for Smoke considering all she's done for him, and it wasn't the kid's fault. He reasoned all this with his head but his heart, time would tell.

Back at the garage:

Karn lay on the opposite twin bed that was in Charlie's guest bedroom waiting for her turn to shower. With her feet propped up on the wall she stared lazily up at a funny little stain on the ceiling that must have been caused by an earlier leak in the roof. She smiled, as it seemed to be in the shape of a sweet Martian face she couldn't get off her mind.

We used to do," he loves me, he loves me not", but a water stain can work too," Charley said as she teased the unsuspecting Karn.

Karn practically falling off the bed jumped embarrassed at her daydreaming.

"I don't know what is the matter with me I'm not the sentimental type. I don't let myself get involved with things like this especially while on a mission. I have my own life, my own world I have to get back to when this is all over."

"Who are you trying to convince, girlfriend? So don't get involved. Do the mission, go back to your own lonely life," Smoke said as she wrapped in a towel coming out of the shower. Karn gave her a death stare but said nothing as she took her turn.

Charley wasn't sure if she should stick her two cents in but what the heck if it could be good for Throttle than it was worth a shot.

Karn came out of the shower, wrapped a towel around her then sat on the bed drying her hair and fur. Taking a fairly large container out of her bag she shakes powdery fine white sand all over her body. Its aroma was alien and filled the room with a fabulous hypnotizing fragrance. She sat closing her eyes remembering something the sand brought back to her mind and smiled.

Charley watched wondering what visions the experience was conjuring up. Then
sitting down next to her said, "I know I am sticking my nose where it probably doesn't belong but those guys are like my big brothers and how they feel is very important to me. Especially Throttle he always seems a little lost. Oh he can be as wild as the other two but there is something very special about him. It's like there is something missing and the right person will make him whole. Some one who will give him the love and respect he really needs, and we both know that is not Carbine. True it may not be you either but it would be a shame to miss this opportunity to see. Just think about it, okay?"

Karn nodded agreeing to at least give it some serious thought. Then with a wicked look took her towel and snapped it at the unprotected backside of her comrade. Smoke producing a scream that could be heard clear back to Mars

"That's for the wise crack," Karn said smiling in triumph.

Smoke stood holding to affected area and smiled knowing she deserved it.

"Okay, okay now we are even."

Later that day:

The guys finally made their way to The Last Chance and everyone met in the garage.
Vinnie walked up to Smoke and asked to speak with her privately, she agreed.

"You mind if we talk upstairs Charley girl,"

"No Vinnie help yourself. Smoke you can send Tatara down here with me, if you'd like."

"Thanks Charley but I think she needs to be with us this concerns her too."

Heading upstairs they found Tatara packing her things. She looked at Vinnie then sat down next to her mother. Vinnie didn't know any sign language so it was necessary to let Tatara hold her hand to his face as he spoke. She could feel his apprehension but ignored it.

"First Tatara, I really didn't mean to hurt you. It's going to take me some time to work through your Plutarkian side but I promise I am going to try as hard as I can.
Smoke, you know I have no life with out you in it. Please give me another chance to at least try and be a part of yours."

Smoke looked at her daughter and Tatara smiled this being what she wanted most for her mother.

"Let try and take it one day at a time. I love you too and maybe that's enough to help us get through this."

Tatara was overjoyed. She knew that Vinnie would try even though he still had strong feeling against what she was. That didn't matter she would stay out his way, anything to insure her mother's happiness.

Tatara kissed her mother's cheek, smiled at Vinnie and left to two alone.

"She is a pretty smart kid I have to admit," Vinnie said as he pulled Smoke up into his arms. He gazes into her flashing golden eyes.

"The leaf doesn't fall to far from the tree," she whispered as she could feel his arms gently increasing their embrace and then the glorious taste of his kiss.
She had missed being close to him, and feeling him smile. Maybe it was enough; they stay for a few more precious moments then joined the others

A While Later:

Everyone was packing trying to keep to the schedule. They would use Karn's vehicle. With it's transforming abilities it would be not only practical but also less conspicuous then trying to fly there. It was now changed to a SUV that resembled an extra large Land Rover making the long ride to New York more comfortable. The guys would as usual ride their bike. Everyone stopped for lunch and discussed further details of the trip.

"Okay people now down to business. I have already told you that we contact Gates as soon as we get to close to NY and she will meet us just before we enter the city.
Now about our appearances, Karn's vehicle not only has the ability to transform itself but her also. I use my wrist device and with Tatara we use this. Smoke takes a black baseball cap with DKNY in white lettering on the front and places it on Tatara's head. She giggles silently then runs to the nearest mirror to admire herself. Karn goes into her Vehicle after a few flashes of light she emerges an attractive female human. The same height and build fair skinned and sharp features that strangely resemble her former self. Long blond hair reaching down her back and she maintains the cool blue gray eyes.

Smoke touches her device and turns into the regal looking, dark skinned human she'd been before. Same head full of luscious black curls, a face Cleopatra would envy and the same golden jade eyes. Tatara comes back her hair now in two long ponytails and if you didn't look too close she resembled any other human child. Charley just sat out of the way totally amazed at all that was going on.

Smoke continues, "Now as for our handsome bros. what do we do about hiding those gorgeous mugs of yours? Stoker sent you three a little gift courtesy of Plutarkian science. Remember the mask Mace used and the ones the Plutarkian bosses use? We have been able to copy the technology. These masks literally faze with your own face so it's more realistic and much more comfortable. You can wear them for 24 hours without breaking a sweat." Smoke hands each a box containing the mask that was designed to fit its wearer perfectly.

" Oh and one more thing, you guys are going to have to change the wardrobe a bit." She also hands each additional box containing, leather jackets and gloves.

"You except me to hide this pretty face, sheesh" Vinnie complains as he struggles pulling on the mask, the jacket and gloves. Throttle and Modo follow suit then wait for a reaction from the ladies.

"I don't know who they used for the models but I could easily get real use to this."
Charley says as she admires not only how human they look but how handsome as well.

Karn looks at Throttle and tries to decide if she really likes his new persona.
She touches his face and to her surprise it is very realistic to the touch. Then does something that shocks not only Throttle but Smoke as well, whom almost falls off her chair. Running her hands through his mixed blond waves she then pulls him close and lays a kiss on him that makes his knees weak. She releases him and calmly says, "Yes they should do nicely."

Charley and Tatara smile at each other and they each grab Modo around the neck and give him a big kiss on his now red/brown cheeks. He hugged them both in thanks.

Vinnie not one to be left out takes hold of Smoke's face and gently brings her into a kiss that will test the mask to it's limits. Then releasing her, smiles as he shakes the shoulder length black braids out of his face.

Smoke after clearing her head added, "Yes, they will definitely do very nicely"

Later that evening:

Everything was going well. Tatara tries her best to keep a distance from Vinnie. But with everything moving so fast she found herself standing next to him as he was lifting some packages into the truck. She accidentally bumps up against him knocking the packages to the ground. He wheels around giving her a cool stare. Though he tries immediately to conceal them words flashes in his mind then in hers. Seeing her crushed expression he turns away condemning himself for losing control. They were words foreign to her and how she could hear them with out touching his face was a mystery, but she was all too familiar with the feeling behind them, the sick emptiness it gave her inside. Tatara slowly slides to the ground, pulling her knees to her chest trying hard not to let the tears fall.

Smoke notices her daughter sitting with her head down, stops what she was doing. She takes a seat next to her and puts an arm around the small shoulder. Putting her daughter's hand in place she asks what's wrong.

"Oh nothing. I guess I am a little tired." Tatara attempts to show a smile. "I will be alright I just wanted to rest a little,"

Then turning to her mother and trying hard to keep the hurt out of her eyes and her minds voice asks, "Momma what is Lough Ti' Ni Sha?"

"Where did you hear that? It's a name some called the Plutarkian. It's from the old language I `m surprised you could even pronounce it so well. It isn't used often, just to describe.. Tatara.. Where did you hear that?

But Smoke knew the only place it could come from. That the pain Vinnie had was much deeper than she could have realized. The name was only used to describe the vilest and most hated of creatures. She wasn't angry just sadden at the choice she was now force to make.

"It's okay baby you stay here, I'll have to take care of this."

"No mommy he did mean it. It was my fault please don't!" Tatara pleaded.

" I have to do what I know is best for all of us. It's not your fault, it isn't even his. It's just the way things are." She got up and walked over to Vinnie.

"Vincent." she said in a quiet calm voice.

He knew why she was there before she could say a word. "She caught me off guard I didn't mean to call her that. I don't even know how she heard me."

"Yes Vincent I think that's exactly what you meant and truly feel."

"Smoke babe please." Vinnie's voice begged.

She lovingly looked into the eyes that held so much pain and try to offer some comfort.
" I know you tried Heart of my Heart but I can't let your pain hurt her. She deserves some peace and so do you. We have to be together for the sake of the mission but after we go our separate ways. Tatara and I will try and keep our distance." She takes off the small charm bracelet that he'd given her and places it in his hand. Then she leans up and kisses him softly.

"But Smoke you know I love you."

"I know Vincent but Tatara is part of me, the part you can't accept. I was wrong; we both were wrong to think sweet kisses could erase years of hate. No matter how wonderful they may have been" She places a soft kiss on his cheek and walks away.

Vinnie holds the small charm in his hand fingering it for a moment then letting it fall to the ground. He watches his life walk away and could do nothing else to stop her. He walked into the garage and no one followed him.

Charley picks up the piece of jewelry and carefully places it into her pocket. Everyone goes back to the preparation trying to pretend they hadn't heard anything.

Preparations Complete:

As they head out it was late in the evening dark having already fallen. Everyone was silent and pensive.

Karn driving, her mind trying to focus on the road and not on the pain she knew her partner was being devoured by. Also the brief kiss that she could still feel on her lips didn't help.

Charley glanced in the rear view mirror worrying about the dear friend that was following much too silently behind them. Then back at the Martian female sitting in the back seat holding on to her child stroking her hair giving the comfort only she could.

Smoke cradling her daughter quietly whispering the words to give her some peace.
Tatara, tired and hurt, let herself be hushed to sleep by the voice of the person who was everything to her being. Her shaking young hand securely held to the cheek of the voice that always made her believe that life was worth living no matter how bad things were. The voice soft, reassuring, and safe.

Charley thought for a moment and took a CD she especially brought. She smiled back at Smoke then pushed it in to the player reached back and gives Smoke's knee a gentle squeeze of encouragement.

As the soft music played a smooth female voice soothed them all with words that said all that need be said.

Every one fall in love some times
Some times it's wrong sometimes it's right
For ever win some one must fail
There comes a point when, when we exhale
Yeah yeah yeah say
shoop shoop shoop

Some times you'll laugh
Some times you'll cry
Life never tell us
The whens or whys

When you've got friends to wish you well
You'll find a point when you will exhale
Yeah yeah say shoop shoop shoop.

Hearts are often broken
When there's words unspoken
In your soul there's
Answers to your prayers
If you're searching for a place you know
A familiar place some where to go
You should look inside yourself
And you're half way there

Some times you'll laugh
Some times you'll cry
Life never tells us
The whens or whys

But when you got friends
To wish you well
You'll find your point when
You will exhale.
Shoop shoop shoop shoop..

Song by Whitney Houston
From the "Waiting to Exhale" CD.

A Few days later:

The trip to New York was uneventful. They drove straight through only stopping for the occasional pit stop, food, and a few moments of brief rest. Once close enough to the city they picked up Gates radio signal and arranged to meet her at an out of the way rest stop on the Jersey turnpike. It was night fall when they finally pulled up, and there Gates sat on her own huge Silver and black cycle. The name Silver Lady painted elegantly on the side

Under the dim street light they could see her human form. She appeared to be a medium height, nicely built full figured female, light mocha complexion, light brown hair, cut short except for the loose bangs that fell slightly in her face and red full lips that made each of the guy's smile appreciatively.

Smoke jumped out of the truck and walks towards her sister of the heart. They smile warmly at each other. Then each looking around making sure no unexpected humans were within eye shot both deactivated their electronic disguises. They embraced sharing a sister love not many had the privilege to experience or could truly understand.

As the two sisters exchanged affection Modo looked at Gates recognizing something very different about her now true appearance. He could see she was very much a Martian mouse. Fur a soft almost cream color and matching hair color. Full cloud like the hair surrounded her face and fell down her back almost to her waist. The same long braid that Karn and Smoke wore when in their natural state as if they shared a secret family code of honor. She had no antenna and her ears were slightly pointed. She was definitely different from any other female he'd ever seen.

"Hey Bros. does she look a little strange in some way?" He questions his partners.

"Other than being a knock out maybe a little but so what" Throttle smiled enjoying the view.

"Nothing I guess it's just .." Modo couldn't quite put his finger on what it was about

Smoke introduced Gates to the three Bikermice and Charley. She politely greeted each with her enchanting smile.

"Charley I know this must seem pretty overwhelming but thank you for your help." She shook Charlie's hand.

"Believe it or not Gates since I've meet these guys this kind of thing is beginning to be the norm." Charley chucked as she returned the friendly handshake.

"And these are the bros." Smoke bows slightly as she does the introduction, Modo being first.

He removed the mask took her hand and nodded gallantly. Gates smiled almost blushing.
"It's a pleasure Modo."

He couldn't take his eyes off the dark crystal rubies that were her eyes, which also made his heart beat double time. " No, lovely lady the pleasure is more truly mine."

His smile was as magnificent and handsome as his manners. Gates breath shortens as his lips touched her hand. She reluctantly pulled it away to meet second in the trio

"This is Throttle but watch out Karn has her eyes out for this one." Smoke joked

Throttle too removed his mask and smiled taking her hand.

"Nice to met you Gates. Smoke sure knows how to pick the most beautiful friends."

"Nice to meet you also Throttle. I always knew Karnnie had great taste but you are something that should be put on a plate for desert."

Throttle a little shocked could only blush.

As they approached the third member of the Bikermice Gates noticed a change in Smoke demeanor. Almost able to feel Smokes discomforted she looked puzzled at her.
Wasn't this the person she had talked about, the lost love she planned on spending forever with as she put it? Gates attempted to down play the growing tension between the two as they got closer, at least until Smoke could explain what had happened.

"You have to be Vinnie. Smoke has certainly told me a lot about you." Gates smiles politely extending her hand.

Smoke says nothing and walks back to the truck.

Vinnie takes off his mask and tries to pretend nothing was wrong.

"It's nice to meet you Gates." He glances toward Smoke.

Gates knew something was especially wrong but left it to be discussed with Smoke later on. She walked back over to the truck and seeing Tatara sweeps her up in her arms giving he a tickling nuzzle under her neck, then a big overly juice kiss on the cheek.

"How's my sweet baby doing these days keeping your mommy out of trouble for me?"

She said picking up the little hand holding it to her face. Gates could hear the giggles coming from Tatata. Suddenly the giggles stopped and with a sudden sadness she lays her head on her aunt's neck and hugs her saying nothing.

"What the matter TeeTee?" Gates knew the torment Tatara has been through and the some time cruel treatment she can get from others. But now she was around those that would only give her love and affection so she couldn't understand the child's sadness.

" I just miss you so much Auntie G. I wish I could see you more."

"Well we can spend time together now and we can catch up on all the happenings. Like how many boyfriends you have as pretty as you have become." Gates not fully believing the child's answer but would address that later as well. One more nuzzle of the neck Gates puts Tatara down and walks up to Karn they exchange warm hugs.

"How goes it Karnnie girl? Still having those Plutarkian burgers?" Gates couldn't help but tease her.

"Not lately I guess the are getting too fast for me" She joked back.

"So folks before we cause a small riot let's get our faces back on and get into the city.
Even though in this city I am not so sure anyone would really notice much. I have a place were we can set up and start doing what we are here to do. Charley I think you'd better drive. Some of the stuff we have to do to get into the city you are probably the most familiar with. Let's ride people." Gates took the lead.

Looking across the river as they approached the city all were amazed and fascinated at the mere size of this strange and awesome earth city. Chicago was no small place but this was something that took their breaths away.

To gain access to the city it was necessary to travel through a series of tunnels that ran under the river. To enter the tunnel a toll had to be paid and it being a considerably busy time of the evening they had to wait some time in line. Which caused a small traffic
problem. East Coast women being a bit more aggressive took this time to enjoy the very impressive sights of the three Bikermice now human. Women were staring out of their windows, whistling, and some were even yelling out their phone numbers. Gates was tickled beyond control at the reaction of the two of the mice but saw one was enjoying all the attention. This mission was going to prove to be very interesting to say the least.

They Arrive:

Once actually in the city the caravan of aliens plus one human stop. They pull over and step out of their vehicles gazing up at the shear magnitude of what New York City was. People everywhere, skyscrapers reaching up standing like sentinels guarding their vast kingdom.

Their minds all in tune to the thoughts of his fellow traveler; this is what their homes were at one time, what they could have been now? Each promised they would not let the destroyers of lives take the life from this planet. No one spoke the words aloud but they all knew the promise. Silently they got back to their vehicle and started on to fulfill that promise.

Driving through the city was a task in itself but eventually Gates stopped in front of a beautiful building know as a brown stone. A two-story structure with large windows and a turn of the century charm.

"Well peeps here's home until we get this thing finished up. There are two apartments we have the upper and you gents have the bottom. I have everything I thought you would need to make you comfortable but if I've forgotten anything let me know. " Gates winks.

"Gates this is incredible how could you do all this. How could you afford all of this" Charley was so shocked she had to ask.

Gates rises an eyebrow and smiles. " My dear Charley let's just say with space travel you find that what one planet calls junk another put an extremely large price on. We will leave it at that."

As they settle in everyone takes time to make him or herself comfortable after the long tiring trek. Devices turned off, masks removed, and finally some time to relax. Charley stood in the mist of all these different representation of life and wondered if her world would ever be ready to know about them. She shook her head probably not for a few hundred years.

With Charley and Karn in one bedroom, she and Smoke in the other Gates took this private time to find out what had happen between her sister and Vinnie. Not to mention what was going on with Tatara.

Gates touched Tatara on the shoulder then taking her hand tells her, " I have your bedroom all set up for you down the hall. Why don't you go check it out see if there is anything I may have forgotten? There's a computer in there and some games I think you will like and I got a special little surprise just for you."

Tatara smiles with excitement but informs her aunt, " You know Miss Charley showed me another way to talk, but you have to learn how. It looks like this; Momma and Karn are getting real good at it. But uncle Modo does it the best.

The other wise shy little girl with a new smile of confidence begins to let her delicate little fingers weave the words in to a dance she shares with her mother. They say a few phases and Gates is amazed by the share beauty of the language.

"What did she say Smoke?"

With a mischievous smile Tatara looks at her mother than her aunt and goes to see her own room.

She said," I know she likes Uncle Modo. I saw how she looked at him. I just hope she doesn't scare him away."

Smoke had to burst in to laughter as Gates promised to give her niece the tinkling of her life. Than the room was silent as Smoke knew the real reason Gates had sent Tatara out. She sat on the bed and let her hurt find it's freedom on the shoulders that she'd used many times in the past. Gates listened and let Smoke share what she had been holding in since the incident happened.

"Look Sis from the look in his eyes when you walked away I don't think it's over. That kind of love finds away to survive. Let him find his own way. You'll see that if he's half the mouse you say he is he'll find it. Okay now no more tears go clean your face and let's get to the business of finding this Plutarkian bottom feeder. We didn't come all this way and spend all this money to get your love life back on track. We do have a job to do."

Smoke with a renewed hope smiled at her wiser sister and went to clean up.
Gates just breathed a sigh and walked over to the window. She watched as the three biker mice worked at bringing in the rest of the equipment, especially one. Modo was an exquisite example of Martian male at the peak of perfection and a feast for the eye to say the least.

Smoke walked up next to her, "You know Tatara is right he does like you I saw that too."

" I remember what you said how he feels about my people. It wouldn't work once he found out so why look for a heartache." Gates said never taking her eyes off him.

"Now who needs to let him find his own way. Modo is such a great guy. I don't think he really hates as much as he thinks he does. And you know what Momma always told us, "Nothing beats a failure but a try."

Gates allows herself a flight of fancy and imagines how nice it just might be but than memories of the tragedy involving her own parents take over and her head shakes in a silent no.

The next morning:

After a replenishing nights sleep and hearty breakfast they could now concentrate on what had to be done. All gathered in the living room, Tatara included, Gates reports all her finding, the hows, whys, and possible where abouts of Zatalivous.

"He has a building downtown and his private offices are on the 22nd floor. I was able to get a job as a receptionist so I could observe him closer and if he isn't a Plutarkian he has got to be the most obnoxious human I have ever met but then again there's no smell.

"Neither did Stilton, remember?" Throttle reminds them.

Well that's how are our little Tee-Tee will helps us the most," Gates winks at Tatara. "We go to his office, she helps get a more positive ID, from a distance, and we take it from there."

Before leaving they split up into two groups. Throttle, Karn, Vinnie, and Charley on the bikes. Modo, Gates, Smoke and Tatara decide to take public transportation. Tatara wanting to experience as much of the city as she could.

Gates explained the way the subways run and what they would need to do to blend in as much as possible. The weren't much different from the once intricate underground shuttles on Mars. Of course those were much quieter and floated on a stream of air but the basic principle was the same.

While riding the train, even though he looked completely human Modo was not one to blend in very well. The tall almost 7ft massive frame now draped in a long black leather trench, jet black hair neatly gathered back in a loose braid and classic feature of a native American warrior was not going unnoticed. Women gazed with admiration and desire, men with envy but respect.

Gates tried hard but she couldn't stop herself from watching his every movement. How this giant of a person was so gentle and caring with her niece. He had taken time to learn this new language of hers so they could talk and he could share a little of her world.
His fingers moved almost gracefully as they talked even the mechanical ones. Tatara had gotten so close to him and for that to happen it would have taken a very special understanding on his part. Would that understanding extend to her, maybe?

Finally at their stop they emerged from the darkness to be amazed at the sight of so much life racing around them. They walked following Gates to the huge building where she worked. Tatara couldn't help but walk looking up it was all so wonderful. Gates, with a little make up, had bend just the right skin tone so that Tatara looked even more human but her pixie beauty and enchanting eyes caught the looks and smiles of many that passed by her.

They stopped at the large brass and glass doors that had PDS Enterprises written across the top. Walking into the lobby was a sight to behold. A large pond was situated in the middle of the enormous room filled with rare tropical fish of all sizes and colors. A fountain sprayed rhythmically synchronized to the classical music that filled the air.
There were marble floors and chandeliers that caught the light painting the walls with rainbows. Tatara could only stand and smile as she got lost in what seem to be a fairyland like Miss Charley had told her about. Who ever the owner of all this was he couldn't possibly be the cruel and horrible person that was back on Chuliar. Her aunt was wrong she just had to be.

The other members of their group having already arrived took up their positions on the far end of the lobby, Charley and Vinnie at one end, Throttle and Karn at the other. Everything was in place to try and identify the possible disguised Plutarkian scientist.
As the elevators opened and the lobby became filled with people every ones attention was focused on trying to pick out the man Gates had described to them.

Tatara began to wander around the beautiful pond. She was so taken by the small shine creatures that swam in it she didn't notice the tall figure she bumped into. The man held her by her shoulders to keep her from falling and when she looked up terror filled her eyes.

"You better watch were you are going young lady. You almost knock me down." The voice cut through her like a razor. It was if his hand became so hot they seem to burn her shoulders the sensation becoming almost unbearable, she'd felt this before.

Tatara stared at the strange man paralyzed in fear. His icy cold almost clear blue eyes seem to freeze her where she stood.

"Are you alright? What the matter cat got your tongue" As the stranger continued to look at her the feeling of recognition over whelmed him and unconsciously tightened his grip on her shoulders.

Smoke suddenly got a feeling of fear and whirled around to see where Tatara was only to see the man holding her frighten daughter.

"TATARA!!!"..Smoke screamed and with in a fraction of a second she was at her daughter's side as the child crumbled to the floor. Modo and Gates close behind her

"I'm sorry madam. She bumped into me and I was only trying to make sure I hadn't hurt her." The man apologized as he released the child into her mother's arms.

"It's alright she's deaf and has never been to such a large city before. She frightens very easily. It's not your fault." Smoke smiled as she looked up into the stranger's face.

"Should I call a doctor?" The man asked seemingly concerned but a little dazed him self.

"Mr. Port Du Salute, Smoke what happened?" Gates questioned.

Miss Matese!? Do you know this child?"

"Yes it's my niece and sister. Gates said looking at Smoke praying she won't react to the named.

Smoke glared at the man, was it him? Was this the creature that tortured her baby? Taken the live of so many countless innocent children?

Modo realising that this was the person they'd come to find. That he was possibly the one responsible for not only the torment of this young life but the nameless children that suffered and died in the cold Plutarkian prison.

Gates could feel the tension and knew she had to defuse the situation before emotions got out of hand.

"Modo why don't you take the baby home I think she just had too much city for one day." Gates suggested trying to refocus the angry Martian's attention.

Other's in the group stayed at a safe distance knowing their getting too close could possible ruin the situation further.

Modo gently picked up the unconscious little girl and carried her out. The other following him discreetly.

Mr. Port Du Salute are you alright," Gates question afraid that he knew or at least felt something.

"Yes, Yes Miss Maltese. I will be fine. It just that child for some reason I felt like.
No that would be impossible it's nothing." He waved it away. " I have to leave and meet with a client, I've left want I need you to do on your desk and I will see you later this afternoon.

"Yes sir but I need to see about my niece first. Gates said her eyes following Modo out of the door.

"Well if you must but make it fast I don't pay you to socialize." He dismissed her and left.

Later that evening:

All having regrouped up in the girl's apartment the events of the day were discussed.

"Well I'm sure it's him or why would Tatara have that kind of reaction. I won't take the chance of exposing her to him again." Smoke said making her daughter's safety the main focus.

"I think she was right about him too Sis but we have to make a positive ID there is just too much to at stake. She's done her job now it's up to us to finish it. Tomorrow night he is planning a big affair to show a new clothing line. Lots of media coverage and it will be at his private penthouse. We can get in, take a closer look at what he has going on.
I already have an invitation, putting you all on the guest list won't be a problem. Since I am working on the guest list. It's one of my many glamorous duties since I started working for the creep. That and trying to keep his hands off me. I swear if he sneaks up behind me one more time I will turn him from a rooster to a hen."

The guys winch at the thought.

"So that's the plan. We need to do a few things to prepare for tomorrow night and that means an early morning. I think I will turn in. Gates I am going to sleep in the room with Tatara. She is still kind of shaky. I'll say goodnight every one." Smoke went into Tatara's room giving Vinnie a slight back ward glance.

He just looked down avoiding her eyes.

"I think I will call it a night too." Vinnie said as he got up to leave.

Modo watched his sadden bro leave the room, "I wish there was something we could do to help those two. It's a real shame."

"Yeah Big Fella I wish there was, but it's something only they can work out. Just be there for him. Just like you are here for everyone else." Charley said as she walked over to Modo and gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek and tickling his ear playfully.

Gates watched how everyone felt about the gentle mass of muscles and smiled. Could his kindness extend to her if he knew?

The big mouse blushed as he turned to catch a quick glance of Gates then he and Throttle decided to leave for the night. Throttle gave Karn a quick kiss and hug and they left.

Charley walked over to the window staring out she said, "You know Karn I think you and Throttle could have something really special and Gates I think you should give Modo a chance too. Let him see whom you really are at least give him the opportunity to decide for himself."

Karn walked over to Charley and put her arm around her the human who had become so important to her in a relatively short amount of time.

"You care so much about all of us. What about you when do you start doing something about Charley's life."

Charley smiled and rested her head on Karn's shoulder. "One day I will find the love of my life, he's out there somewhere. But for now the guys need me and that's enough."

"You know Charley you are something really special yourself," Gates stood and walked over to join them both by the window

Gates smiled as she realized how much she enjoyed this humans company. Karn chuckled a little and they stood for a few quiet minutes, enjoying the view and their friendship.

"Hey ladies you feel like taking on the big apple to night? It might be our last chance."
Gates now with a look of adventure on her face.

"Well I don't want to leave Smoke here alone. She is still a little worried about Tatara. But why don't you and the guys go out for some fun?" Charley suggested.

Karn got on the phone and asked if the guys would like to join them. Vinnie declined but Throttle and Modo where more than ready for some time alone with the ladies that were the objects of their hearts.

After a bit of primping they were all ready for a fun night on the town. With each disguise in place the four looked like many of the other couples that filled the streets of the Big Apple. Once comfortably seated on their prospective bikes Throttle gave Modo a sly grin and each took off in different directions to the pleasant surprise of their female passengers.

The night was surprisingly comfortable for so early in the spring. Gates held Modo tightly around the waist; she was going to take this chance. Maybe a big mistake but you can't make an omelet with out breaking a few eggs.

"I know of a real nice place not to far from here. We can talk a bit if you'd like. Just a few miles straight and to the left. It's call Café Renoir," Gates suggested as the lights of the city flew by.

He nods and follows her directions. Before long they had pulled up in front of a very attractive restaurant. A large picture window shows patrons enjoying their meals. Three large trees where lined just in front beautifully decorated with small sparkling lights. This was a place Gates came to often when she needed cheering up or just time to think. Walking inside the smell of fresh bread and soft light music filled the air. The decor resembles Paris of the 1800's. A place where one would except to see artists sketching the Eiffel Tower.

"Hey Gates it's been a while, same table?" An attractive young woman smiled as she pointed to Gates favorite spot.

"Yes thanks Greta that will be fine"

Modo holds Gates chair to allow her to sit down and Greta with a grin bending down to give Gates a menu whispers, "Gorgeous and polite is there any more home like him?"

Gates giggle and shakes her head, "Okay down girl we will have number 3."

"Number 3 it is," Greta winked at her and left to get their order.

Number 3 that's cheesecake. Not to question the ladies choice but I hate cheese in any form." Modo said giving her a slightly sickened expression.

"Have you ever tasted it?"

"Well no but"

"Then trust me."

As Gates saw Greta returning with their order she told Modo, " Close your eyes!"


"You ask too many questions just close your eyes."

Greta put the two orders of cheesecake on the table and stood back to see what Gates was doing.

"Now open your mouth. Don't say anything just open your mouth."

Modo still with his eyes shut did as she asked. When he did she slip a healthy portion of the rich dessert into it.

He smiled as he enjoyed to creamy sweet confection.

"You see if you never give a new idea a chance you miss out on so much."

Even thought what she said had a two fold meaning he didn't call her on it at that moment but he would before the night was over.

Throttle and Karn had decided to go through Central Park. With the homing device Charley had installed in his bike finding their way back was no problem.

Central Park was not a place most humans would venture into that late at night but for the two alien adventurers they felt no fear. In fact they both amazed at the incredible beauty the park held after dark. They road deep into the park then off the paved road and found a quiet secluded spot and parked.

Karn trusting him completely followed Throttle in a short walk to a small group of tress not far away. They found an almost invisible wooden bench hidden just among the trees and took a seat. Both quiet at first then Karn turn to him and smiled, " So now what?"

Throttle put his arm around her shoulder and gently brushing a few long strands of her golden mane away from her face he gazed into her still cool blue gray eyes as they caught the moon's reflection.

"Tell me about you." His was voice low, appealing and even though he had dawn the human masks the sad light in his now green eyes kept her transfixed to his face.

"There isn't much to tell. As with many the Plutarkian came destroyed my world or tried too. Unlike your people it was because of our arrogance that we lost so much. Thinking that the universe was so large that we could isolate our selves not care about other worlds around us. It cost us dearly. We are trying to save what's left of our world but it will never be what it once was. I'll never be what I once was." Her voice trailing off softly.

"What about your family?"

"I have a brother but no one else."

"No, one else home waiting for you to come back to him."

"There was some one once but he's dead so now it's just my brother and I. What about you? I heard you do have a lady waiting for you back on Mars."

He at first looked a little embarrassed because of not saying something sooner.

"Hey it's okay, trust me I did intent to for us to be much more than friends before.."
She stopped not saying another word dropping her eyes not daring to look at him.

He gently raises her chin and smiles, "Before what?

His arms encircle her before she knew what had happen. His kiss so tender and loving that her entire body quakes. Not from passion as one might think but from the shear joy of finding a heart so ready to take her into it. In so many obvious way they were worlds apart but whatever differences they might have had seem to vanish in a misty haze of warm promises. After a few moments he leans his head back away from hers and with a new light in his eyes he assures her, "I have no one back on Mars. The only person I want or need is right here."

After they enjoyed some light talk Gates had a special place she wanted to take him. Not one for leaving things to chance she was going to let him know exactly who and what she was before she fell any deeper into a potential heartbreak.

She directed him to a section of the city know as the South Street Sea Port. People were walking around, music was playing. The atmosphere was almost like a festival with laughter and music filling the air. They walked enjoying the atmosphere and stopped sitting on a low wooden railing that faced the quiet water and away from the crowd. A cool night breeze caused Gates to pull her coat around her neck and wrap her arms around herself for extra warmth. She walked a distance away from Modo staring at the buildings on the opposite shore not knowing how to begin to reveal her secret.

"Gates talk to me. I have been known to be a good listener," He encouraged as he walked
close behind her.

"Can I ask you something first?"

He nodded.

"Smoke had told me how you hate rats, why?"

Taken a little of guard not excepting that question Modo gathers his thoughts and emotions to explain his voice steady and calm.

"The war wasn't going real well. The Plutarkian were gaining more and more ground. I didn't feel safe leaving my wife and daughters. So I brought them to the freedom fighters base thinking nothing could happen to them if they were close to me. I was wrong.
Some how Rats got into the base and sabotaged one of ammunition areas. My family and some others were just walking past and got buried in the explosion. They dug them out but my wife and oldest daughter died immediately the youngest survived a few days. I was away on a mission. I got back in just enough time to be with her just before she died.
I held her in my arms and she smiled at me. The last thing she said was," Daddy, don't be lonely." I thought I'd go crazy. But with the help of my bros. my life went on. I hated them because they took the most precious part of my life."

Gates was sorry she asked, sorry they were there, sorry she didn't stick with her first resolve. But it was too late for all of that. She had already begun to feel so much for him. Well if nothing else this would end it, better now before either of them could fall any deeper.

Gates turned away not wanting to see the hate she knew would soon fill his face and began unraveling her own darken past, "My parents were killed by the Rats when I was about eleven."

Modo's first reaction was to try an attempt to reach for her but she held a hand up keeping him at a distance.

"No let me finish." She had to say it quick get it over with.

"We thought we were safe, we had no quarrel with anyone. My father won't fight with the government and he didn't join the residence either. He was mouse with his own ideas and values that he stuck to. We moved around living on what my father could trade. That's how we found Smoke and she became part of our family. But there was no safe place really. The Rats broke into our camp one night. They didn't want to steal anything they wanted my mother. She also had her own set of values that went against the laws of her kin. They had been trying to find her to punish her. My parents hid Smoke and I to protect us but we could still hear. I will never forget those sounds. They killed them both, him for being the enemy, she for loving him.

Modo looked at her puzzled.

"You see my mother was considered a traitor by her people. She had done the unforgivable and it cost her life. They would have killed me too since I have mixed blood.

Modo's eyes widen releasing what she had just said, "I knew there was something different about you." His voice with no particular emotion.

She knew it was over, she had tried and failed so goes life, " You don't have to bother yourself. I know my own way back." Gates started walking away.

He gently took hold of her arm, "If you don't give a new idea a chance you miss out on so much. It's time to put old hates away. Maybe it's time we both started living life for now and put the past where it belongs."

Gates speechless turns to him and buries her face in the folds of his coat. Was this all really happening, she was almost too afraid to believe that it actually could? Modo gently entwines his fingers through her soft brown hair and she raises her head at his
maneuvering. His hand then moved down her arm until he feel the device that keeps her human persona in tack and deactivates it. In a soft light her true self appears and he removes the mask uncovering his own face.

"You are very beautiful you know and I want nothing between us now." He smiled again taking her face in his hands. The next moment was pure bliss as they discovered rebirth in each other's kiss. The past melting away as two lives were joined together from that moment on to whatever the future held.

The Next Morning:

Gates all smiles left to go to the office where she could make the needed changes on the guest list and write up the invitations the rest would need to get in the front door. The day had past quickly but as she was finishing up she felt a presents behind her. She knew it was he staring with that sickening smile, like he always did.

"Is there something I can do for you Mr. Port Du Salut," She said not turning around

"No my lovely little roladex but maybe there is something I can do for you. His cool business persona having fallen away for the moment." He walked up close behind her and began rubbing her shoulders.

She immediately frozen and tried to get up out of the chair but he held her down.
Gritting her teeth she raises her elbow up hard catching just the right spot to hear a very painful expelling of air.

"Oh Mr. Port du Salut I did realize you where so close behind me and no I don't think there is a thing you can do for me. Now."

Port du Salut limbed painfully back to his office and closes the door. Gates couldn't help but smiled with the thought of the pain she had just caused him. She finished up got the invitations walked to his office door and in a voice so sweet it literally drip honey.

"Mr. Port du Salut I am finished for the day I will leave the guest list with your coordinator. I just wanted to thank you for the kind invite to your showing to night it will be such a thrill." She left without getting a response knowing he had very little air left for talking.

Later that evening :

After a day of preparation each young woman had her own special look.

Charley no longer the tomboy grease jockey, a look she was getting too old for any way. Elegantly draped in a soft, black, sleeveless, velvet evening grown. It fell straight down her legs and ended with just a slight train in the back. Her hair in a new stylish short cut, small black pearl earrings and with matching black heels all added to the transformation.

Karn not use to formal wear relayed heavily on her friend to help her chose what was appropriate. They chose well, she adorned in a blue chiffon dress that hit her just above the knee. With a princess waistline, flared full flowing skirt and the back dipping just below her shoulder blades. They combed her human hair full out and it flowed down her back like spun gold. She had to practice walking in the silver heels but mastered it before they left.

Smoke having been exposed regularly to earth dress had no problem in selecting everything perfectly. A straight red gown made of fine linen that fit just snug enough to reveal her well toned figure and a small slit showing just enough of her long beautiful legs and matching red heels. Even as a human the curly mass of hair she sported only needed a quick shake for faultlessness.

Gates never one for too much fluff choose a sharp black tailored pants suit with a long tapered jacket that came past her knees. A white silk blouse with a high collar and black paten leather flats. Her hair soft, free and falling in her face a little. The outfit in no way took away from her femininity in fact everything just added all the more to it.

As the time came for them to leave Smoke checked on Tatara once more.
She walked into Tatara's room and sitting on the bed she watch the young girl sleeping.
She thought to herself as she pulled the covers up around her baby's neck touching her head softly.

"It's almost over sweetness and then we will head home. We couldn't have done any of this without you. I am so proud of how strong you have been."

As she got up to leave Tatara grabbed her and hug her tight. Touching her mother's face Smoke could hear her daughter voice, "You look beautiful Momma and you make me able to do anything we are partners remember?"

Smoke looked lovingly at her daughter's face holding it gently she kissed her on the forehead and though, "I remember Imza. We won't be very long. Just enough time to make sure and then we will be back. You sure you'll be okay?"

Tatara smiled and thought, "Yes, I'm not a baby you know I can take pretty good care of myself. But you won't be too long, will you?"

Smoke thought." I know, you're a quite the young lady and I promise we won't be any longer than we absolutely have to be. I am leaving the security sensor activated and I am taking the portable video communicator. So I will be looking in on you. Now go back to sleep."

Smoke patted Tatara on the bottom as she left out of the room. Tatara giggled and settled back to sleep.

When Smoke walked back into the living room the guys had arrived, all dressed in
Black tux's, formal white shirts and each had a matching tie and sash Modo in red, Throttle in blue and Vinnie in black. Vinnie glanced at Smoke thinking how absolutely beautiful she was and how he wanted to tell her and hold her, but knew it would just make what they were going through that much harder.

Throttle offered Karn his arm and said. "Babe, you are the best looking thing I have ever seen on this world or any other."

Karn taking his arm she answered, "You are a yummy piece of eye candy yourself."

Modo with his wisdom offered Smoke one arm so as not to make her avoiding Vinnie too obvious and Gates the other, "Beautiful ladies may I have the honor?"

Smoke, loving the concern he showed her, took his arm with a sigh of relief.

" Thank you Modo, I don't know what we would do with out you."

Gates took the arm of her gentle giant winking at Smoke, smiling with every fiber of her being.

Charley didn't wait; she walked up to Vinnie and slipped her hand through his arm.

"Come on Hot Shot let's give the people something good to look at."

Vinnie smiled and squeezed Charlie's hand.

At The Penthouse :

As they arrived at the paparazzi was in full swing. Every major magazine was represented. They could slip in with little attention, other then Port de Salute's lustful glare at Karn.

As the evening swung into high gear it was time to make a move.

"Okay people this is what we do. The guys and I will check the upper levels of this pleasure palace. Karn, Mr. Hot Cheese seems to be smitten with you so your are elected to keep him in check."

Just watch his hands, he's got more moves than an mutant octopus with 12 tentacles," Gates warns.

Throttle looked at Karn with a concerned, protective, glance.

Karn pinched his cheek and told him, " Don't worry handsome, I can more than handle my self, You take care of what you have to do and I will take care of our slimy host."

Throttle kissed her hand; " I know Love, but you can't blame me, watch your back."

Karn smiled at him and walked over to the table where Port Du Salut was sitting. As soon as he caught sight of her he stood up and invited her to the dance floor.

Modo slapped Throttle on the back, " Come on Bro. she's a big girl. Like she said she can take care of her self."

With that the group left to investigate the upper part of the Penthouse.

Gates, Vinnie and Charley sat waiting for them to return when a male's voice was heard above the crowd and music.

"Excuse me, but may I have the pleasure of this dance."

When Charley looked up she saw the face of what she thought was the finest man she had ever seen. He had bowed slightly and extended a hand to her.

"Oh my gosh!" Charley thought to herself.

"Would you guys mind?" Charley asked with please say you don't mind in her voice.

Gates smiled, "Of course not, enjoy."

Vinnie just sat and nodded.

Charley smile a big thank you.

"Y-Y-Yes I would love to." Was all she could manage to get out. As she stood up and put her hand in his following him to the dance floor.

"By the way my name is Harrison Savane and yours?

"CharleyI mean Charlene Davidson."

"I am hoping against hope, that one of those gentlemen with your party isn't a husband, boy friend"

"No, you might say they are like my brothers."

"You have some very large men in your family. I better be real careful how I treat their little sister." He said with a smile that melted Charley like ice cream on a hot summer's day.

Karn noticed Charley dancing with the young man and smiled thinking; "Well it's about time."

After a bit Throttle, Modo, and Smoke came back empty handed.

"We couldn't find a thing, proving one way or the other." Smoke said as she sat down frustrated.

"Where is Charley girl?" Throttle asked.

Gates just nodded toward the dance floor, as Charley returned on the arm of Harrison.

"Everyone I would like to introduce Harrison Savane. He's a freelance photographer."

"Your sister is quiet a dancer I hope she will give me a chance to enjoy her company again." He flashing a smile that made all the ladies takes notice.

"Sister?" Before Vinnie could ruin anything Modo jumped in. "I am sure our little sister would like that too bro."

"Why don't you leave him your number Charley girl." Throttle chimed in with a big smile and winking at Charley.

"I am sorry my brother's have all the tact of a freight train."

Harrison smiled at Charley, "No problem they make it a lot easier to get to know you.
Can I get your number?"

Charley still blushing wrote the number down and handed it to Harrison.

"Well I've got to get back to work. I will give you a call tomorrow? Nice meeting you all."

Harrison left and every one gave Charley their aahh's of approval.

Karn nudged Charley, "Pretty cute Charley. Tall, dark, and very handsome, for a human I mean."

"Okay let's get back to why we are here." Smoke brought everyone back to what they were there for. We didn't find a thing so Gates you, Vinnie, and Charley will have to check the lower floor. Just in case you might need this. If there are any locked doors or alarm systems this little baby will take care of them for you," Smoke handed Charley a small electronic device

Vinnie said nothing just nodded and followed the two women.

The media had surrounded Port Du Salat so they easily slipped away from the party without him noticing them. Making their way to the lower level they walked down past a number of vacant storage rooms and at the end of a long dark hallway they found a locked room. Locked too well not to be concealing something very important.

Charley examined the lock then attaching the device Smoke had given her. Click the small switch on the side. Beeping softly it turn the lock and the door opened silently.
Vinnie stayed by the door as the look out.

Inside they saw what could only be described as a trophy room. There was a giant picture of the High Chairman Camembert with knives sticking out of it.
And a complete Gallery of all the Plutarkin Planetary bosses and where they were set up all over the world. Needing to find out as much as they could about who he was, his operation and his plans, where else to look but the computer that was situated in the corner of the room.

Charley sat down and tried to access his files while Gates search the rest of the room.

"Do you think you can break in Charley?" Vinnie called from the door.

"I don't know so far nothing." Charley kept trying and bingo, it must have just been her night because after a few more tries and using a few tricks Jack had taught her she was in.

There were files on top of file. All having to do with earth. Plutark land deliveries.
A lot of the same stuff she had seen in Limburgers files not too long ago. He was a Plutarkin here much as the rest of the Plutarkians to steal land resources and what ever he could. But there had to be some evidence that he was the Plutarkian they were after. The child murder, the one who had tortured Tatara on Chulair. Charley was just about to give up when she saw a file name: Martian Project code name (toy soldiers). She pulled it up and it was all the information about his experimental center on the Plutarkin moon. Information on all the children and what were done to them.

"He is Zatalivous" Charley gasped

Gates joined her by the computer."Are you sure?"

" Yes, it's a personal log about his experiments. I was hoping I could find out something about Tatara. Is that the name they found on her when she was rescued?" Charley whispered.

"Yes, Smoke said they found a tag around her neck with that name on it."

As the pictures and names flashed past Gates heart stop as one name shown up. "STOP IT! GO BACK!"

It was the face of a little white Martian mouse not older than two years. Tatara was written on the top of the file.

"So she was fully Martian at one time. Charley who does she look like?" Gates whispers

" It couldn't be. I mean what are the chances of it being possible?" Charley said shaking her head no.

" Look at her Charley she could pass for Vinnie's twin, same snow-white fur and she would be around the right age his sister would have been. Look at her eyes I thought they were because of the experiments he did but she was born with them. Only one Martian in a thousand has blue eyes."

As Charley glances through the file and she is horrified. "How could they do that to a baby? Look at what he did to change her. It tells how he made her deaf and mute. He put his own DNA and that of some human's he found somewhere and used it on her. What was he trying to do?" Charley was outraged her hands shaking with anger.

"Easy Charley you know who we are dealing with. Now that tells us she was once fully Martian but that doesn't mean she is Vinnie's sister." Gates tells her.

"Well there is one way of finding out." Charley said looking at Gates then at Vinnie.

"Hey, Charley what's taking you so long is he or isn't he?" Vinnie started towards the computer.

"Y-y-yes he is Vincent. Let me just shut this thing down. I'll be right there." Charley quickly closed down the files, but not before she transferred all the information about Tatara on to a disk and hiding it away until later.

"What's the matter Charley girl?" Vinnie said as he put an arm around his visibly shaken friend.

"Its nothing let get back to the others" Her voice trembled badly. Vinnie seeing that she was about to topple over kept a protective arm around her until they got back to the table.

Once there Smoke asked; "Well did you find anything.Charley what's the matter with you?"

"Yes, all the evidence we need and a little more. Let's just get out of here." Charley said as she fumbled for her thing trying her best to leave.

"Charlene!?" Vinnie was now very concerned at Charley's reaction.

"We can talk about it later but I have to leave here now, please!" She said almost running toward the door Vinnie close behind her. The group got up to leave as Karn came back to the table. Just as they were all about to reach the door Zatalivous stepped in front of Karn.

" My pretty golden haired beauty, please don't say you are leaving the night is still young. And I was hoping for at least another dance." He said ignoring the fact that she was with Throttle. Karn saw Throttle's otherwise calm demeanor change in an instant and knew she had to play it off Ztalavious/ Port du Salut's advances.

"Well my husband and I would be more than happy to stay but we do have to get home to the children. Isn't that right dear?" Karn smiled a wifely smile at Throttle taking his arm demurely.

Throttle taken a little off guard looked at Karn, and then realizing what she was doing went along with her. "Sure Babe especially the twins." Karn rolled her eyes and smiled at the thought.

Modo slapped Ztalavious/Port du Salut rather firmly on the back practically knocking him over and told him, "You give a slammin party Bro." Smoke and Gates trying hard to control their laughter but failing; took Modo's arm and they all walked out.

Ztalavious/ Port du Salut knew something was up with his unusually attractive guest and something told him to check and see if everything was as it should have been.
He excused himself from his guest and went to his private office. He reviewed the security tapes for the last hour. Especially his secret little office in the lower part of the house.

He smiled to himself as he watched Charley going through his private files.
Then noticing their concern at the computer he scanned in closer to see what kept their attention. Turning up the sound he listened to the conversation and smiled at the thought of one of his little experiment having survived especially that one. As he listened his mind began to hatch a plan to recover his property and take care of his beautiful intruders and their companions.

At the Brownstone :

Everyone took some time to relax before working out the details of a plan. The guys went down to their apartment to change into more comfortable clothing. Smoke checked on Tatara and once she left Gates asked Charley whether she was going to tell her about what they found.

"Charley, Gates what `s going on?" Karn questioned..

"We think we found evidence who Tatara's family might have been."

"So what's with all the secrecy I would think you'd want to tell Smoke."

"Not until we are sure and the only person who can do that is Vinnie." Charley says as she heads out the door. Leaving a shocked Karn behind.

Walking down the stairs she tried hard to find the words, to get them right in her mind. There just was now easy way to do this. She knocked on the door. "Hey, you guys decent?"

"Yeah, come on in Charley you feeling better now?" Throttle said giving her a brotherly hug.

" I'm okay but I need to talk to Vinnie privately, could you guys leave us alone for a little while?"

Modo walked out glad to take the mask off. Not that it was uncomfortable but the feel of ones natural face was needed from time to time.

"Sure we were heading upstairs any way. Just holler if you need us, Okay?" Throttle said, softly pecking her cheek as he and Modo left.

Nervously she sat waiting for Vinnie to come out of the bedroom.

"Hey Charley what so important you would risk being in here alone with this entirely marvelously Martian male." He tried to joke giving his toothiest smile also having taking off the mask.

"Knock it off Van Wham I know you want to be with Smoke and you know I know it."

Vinnie lost the smile, " Can't fool you huh Charley girl?"

"No, Vinnie and you aren't doing too good a job fooling yourself either, but that isn't what I need to talk to you about."

Seeing the expression on Charlie's face Vinnie knew what ever it was she wasn't in the mood for joking this was much too serious.

"What is it Charley?"

"Vincent, I have to ask you something and it's not going to be easy for you to answer."

"Okay Charley you know you can ask me anything?"

She took a deep breath, "I need to know about your little sister?"

Shocked and wide-eyed he stared at her for what seemed like and eternity. Then with an unsure voice he asked. "Why Charlene, why would you need to know anything about her?"

"It's very important trust me please, I really need to know as much as you can remember."

Other than Smoke Vinnie wouldn't have done it for any other person on earth or Mars. But this was Charley his more than friend closer than a sister.

"I've tried hard to blot out that time in my life so just bites and pieces of things about her, about all of them. The last time I saw my father was right before they executed him. I later found out my mother died from some sickness. They experimented on my brother until he died and I figured my sister just died some howshe was so little."

"Your sister Vinnie, tell me more about her" Charley put her arm around him holding him tightly.

He was silent for a moment then spoke calmly. "She was really a cute little thing, I don't think she ever cried. White like me with a head full of baby soft white hair. I can remember my mom singing to her. She would let me hold her until she fell asleep."

His voice now taken with a sorrow so deep Charley was afraid she would lose him to it. The virile mad man, the velocity atrocity now reduced to a weak barley audible voice. Charley had to push; she had to know for sure. Even thought it could mean the total destruction of a beloved friend or maybe his salvation.

"Vinnie, her eyes what color were her eyes"?

Vincent moved away from her, stood up and not sure if he wanted to answer. "No first tell me why you are asking about her? What could she possibly have to do with any of this."

Charley studied his face trying to judge whether to tell him even with out the last piece of the puzzle .She had to, for his look said he would go no further.

"When we were in Zatalivous' file we found information about his experiments on some Martain children. Well, we found Tatara's file and Vinnie I-I-I think no, I am pretty sure she's your sister.

Vinnie felt like someone had just dropped him off a building and he was just waiting for his body to hit the ground.

"No! It's not possible my sister is dead." His voice at first void of any feeling.

"But Vinnie I"


"Do you think I would tell you anything that I know would hurt you like this if I weren't pretty darn sure?" Charley glared at him then walked over to the computer pushing the disk in. It had to be the hard way. As she pulled the file up, he refused to look at it, but a part of him that had to know made him sit down and read. As he did the vivid description of what had taken place ripped in his mind. He could feel every cut of the knife, every scream he heard only too clear. Then the images flashed up first of what she was then picture by picture, year by year what she was turned into.

"Andy." He hoarsely whispered as his hands gripped the sides of the computer. His head leaning against the screen.

Charley wasn't sure what she should, whether she should go for the guys or what?
But this time there were no fits of temper, no wild screams of rage, he just sat staring at the screen.

"Why couldn't I see it? I am that stupid? What am I going to do now? I have treated her so bad and she my baby sister. And I've lost Smoke in the process." Vinnie said as he put his head in his hands.

Charley put her arm around him, "That's the horrible things about hate it causes so many people so much pain. I don't know what the right thing is? I guess you start by trying to talk to Smoke"

"Do you think she will want to listen to me, now?"

"You're not going to find out sitting here." She gave him an encouraging smile and extended a hand to help him start the difficult journey.

Vinnie took her hand, a breath and followed her up the stairs
As they entered the apartment Vinnie couldn't look up from the floor. He slowly walked up to Smoke. The room got dead quiet and the guys wondered what was about to happen. The women figuring out Charley was right about Tatara.

"Smoke, Charley just told me that in the files from Zatalivous' computer there was information about Tatara. Everything about her."

Smoke sat down and excepted the worse, "What is it? Is she in any danger?"

"She's my sister." His voice filled the room.

Smoke was dumbfounded and said nothing just stared at him.

Vinnie felt her looking at him but he continued to look at the floor. If she cursed him, throw him out, what ever she did he knew he deserved it and more. But he continued.
"I know I got a lot of nerve to even ask but can you ever forgive? For what I have done to her and you."

Smoke walked up to him and Vinnie braced himself for what ever came next.

She wrapped her arms around his neck brushing her cheek softly against his. "You just needed to find your way heart of my hearts."

Vinnie gazed at this tenderly forgiving lady that possessed his heart now more then ever. Holding her close to his whispers, "Shui nia Ti Shui nia."

But Vinnie knew that this is just one part of the journey, now came the most difficult part.

"Smoke I need to talk to her. I have to be the one that tells her,"

" If it's what you think you must do." Smoke pointed to where she was sleeping.

Vinnie went in and looked at the peacefully sleep little girl. He stood at the door almost afraid to go any closer. He stood in the dark thinking.

"She must have suffered so much all those years and what do you do? Add on to the torture she's already been through. You know Van Wham when you mess up you do a great job of it." Vinnie leaned his head back against the wall.

"Now how do I make this right? I don't know how to make it right. Someone help me to fix this. Maybe it's better if she doesn't know. Maybe this will only hurt her more."

He started to turn and leave when Tatara sits up in the bed and gives him the strangest smile; she motioned for him to come closer.

Vinnie unsteadily walked over to the bed and sat down. She delicately takes his face in her small hands and lifts his head so she could look into his eyes. He could hear her voice.

"I never though you would ever want to be any where near me."

Vinnie was shocked at how easily she could forgive he found the tears running uncontrollable down his face as he held on to Tatara. The guilt was almost more than he could bear.

"What's the matter Vinnie?" Tatara pulled back not sure of what was upsetting him.

"It's just you are such a great kid." Vinnie held on to her trying to find the right words to tell her.

Tatara smiled and returned the embrace. Funny how strangely familiar it was, warm like she's been there before. The arms that surrounded her she suddenly knew.
They were bigger than she recalled but still they belonged there.

Then Vinnie heard the same sweet lullaby his mother sang so many years before. As the song got clearer in his mind she looked at him with those endlessly searching blue eyes and he saw remembrance. Tatara could see only fuzzy images, pieces of the puzzle that was her young life. But she knew him, in all the years, through all she had been through the one face that manage to remain was his.

She started to tremble, tremble so hard that Vinnie was terrified but he did let her go.
Vinnie could hear her cry, she cried for the death of who she was and what she was now.
Holding on tightly to the small fragile hand that touched his face he comforted her.

"Cry babe as long and as hard as you want. But you need to know we all got changed one way or the other." With that Vinnie letting go of her hand reached up and took off the mask that covered his own scared face.

Tatara raises her head and looking at him she smiles, " I think you're beautiful."

Vinnie takes her tiny face in both his hands, "And so are you."

A smile filled the child's face, the glow warming his soul completely as he continued to cradle her in his enormous arms still engulfing her hand in his own.


"Yeah baby?"

What was my name before? I don't remember." Her voice now serene.

"Well, we called you Andy but it was Andrea, or is if you want?"

"No, Andrea died on Chuliar. Now I am Tatara but it was a pretty name though." Then she lay her head back on his chest and just let the feeling of being in her big brother's arm replenish her.

"No one will ever hurt you again. No matter what it takes, what I have to do. I will never let any one hurt you again." Vinnie vowed softly not only to her but himself as well.

Smoke had been standing in the darken room watching the two of them. Silently she walked over and sat next to Vinnie. Leaning softly on his back she wrapped her arms around them both, the small charm bracelet again in its place.

Throttle walked to the bedroom door and looked inside.

"Is everything okay?" Charley asked.

"Everything is going to be fine. Let's just say it's a family reunion long over due."

As Throttle closed the door quietly he turned and looked at all the faces in the room, realizing they were all truly a family. For all that they'd lost they had found something extraordinary in being together.

I do not own the Biker Mice from Mars they are the property of their creators. However Zatalivous, Tatara, Gates, and Harrison are products of my imagination. Karn is part of Gabrielle's "Beginnings" story line and is being use with her permission.
I write for entertainment purposes only and will make no profit from this venture.
Yes I know it's been a while but I really do plan on finishing this story, so for any one who is still interested I thank you for you kind patience.

She Thing

Part 6

The Home Stretch

By Morning 2001

Time passed and Zatalivous hadn't made a move one way or the other. The only change in his normal routine was to surround himself with two very formidable looking bodyguards. Which wasn't that much of a change since his actions did become extreme when he had a big show to coordinate. But Gates still kept a closer than usual eye on him.

The group of freedom fighters and their human ally were trying to work on some type of the plan to capture Zatalivous but so far nothing feasible had been thought up. In the mean time the different relationships were blossoming nicely.

Vinnie was getting to know his sister sharing things about their family and their lives before the Plutarkian invasion. It was not only healing for Tatara but it helped him to close more of his open wounds guided by Smoke's tender care.

As for Gates, Modo, Karn, and Throttle each couple was taking time to try and understand the unique difference in each other. Also discovering the joys in their similarities.

As for Charley she had found something very special in the young handsome photographer she'd met at the party. Harrison was definitely out of the ordinary. Sensitive but not to the point that it interfere with his masculine charm. Oh no, he was all man and then some. He had told her much about his life. The fact that he had studied medicine to the point of becoming a second year resident but lack of financial support had stopped his education. He had always wanted go back and finish but other things had prevented him.

They were planning to have a picnic in the park and Charley was fussing around the kitchen trying to get ready for him to pick her up. She was packing a wicker basket trying to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything. Throttle stood watching her amused at her trying to make everything perfect. "You never did all that when you fixed lunch for us." He teased.

"You guys never let the food stay around long enough." She teased back hopping he couldn't see the blush that was starting to spread on her face.

"Whoa, Charley girl you do have it bad for this guy, blushing and everything."

"Does it show that much?"

"Yeah but it looks good on you." He smiled walking over to give her a hug.

She leaned her head on him. "Oh Throttle I'm so scared it's been such a long time since I've let my self care, like this, for any one. Ever since Jack broke off our engagement I promised I'd never hurt like that again."

"Well this isn't Jack and I really like this guys. You have given up a lot for us and it's time you found some happiness, little sis." He kissed the top of her head.

Charley smiled at the fact that he was very much the big brother she never had and that he was giving his approval. The bell ringing broke their embrace as Throttle went to answer the door.

"What's up Harry?" Throttle took Harry's hand and the two knocked shoulders exchanging a friendly guy greeting.

Charley's heart began to beat double time as soon as she heard his voice. She looked in the glass of the cabinet door checking to see if every hair was in place, took a breath, and went out to meet him.

They decided to walk to the park but along the way Harrison was acting somewhat distant and nervous, like there was something he had to say but found the words hard to come by.

"Okay this is it Charlene. I knew it was too good to last. He's married; he's married with ten kids. No, he just found out you aren't his type and he's trying to let you down easy. That's it, he's about to give me the big, you're a nice girl but, not for me." Charley ran the worst case scenario through her mind trying to prepare for the worst.

They walked into the park and found a nice spot very close to the lake. As she spread things out she found it hard to keep from watching him staring at her.

"I believe that people should be honest when getting to know each other. Especially when they feel the things I feel for you." Harrison said as he moved a wild hair from Charlie's eyes not taking his eyes off them.

"Yes honesty is always good. What is it? You have a wife and 12 children?" Charley joked trying to hide the sick feeling she had in the pit of her stomach.

"No, nothing like that. I would never do anything like that?" He said, seemly offended that she would even think he could be that kind of jerk.

"I'm sorry Harrison what is it you have to tell me?"

"Well you know the things I've told you about my life. I wasn't completely honest."

Charley was shaking slightly not knowing what he was about to say. She braced herself.
"Not honest, how?"

"I--I ----I know about the guys. I know about who they really are or should I say what they really are."

Charley stared too frighten to utter a sound but finally stammered out." I don't know what your are talking about."

"Yes you do. I know about Modo Vinnie and Throttle being alien's. I've known for some time. You see I've been watching you all for awhile now. I'm a government agent special unit Area 54 alien investigation."

Charley could only continue to stare at him more frighten for her extended family then her self. She shook her head not wanting to believe that this wonderful man could be what he'd just confessed. That she could have been so easily deceived.

"Charley don't look at me like that at least let me finish explaining. Please just listen."

"Listen to what? More of your lies. Listen, oh yeah, I'll listen alright." Before he could react she knelt up grabbing him by his collar and pulled him over her head tossing him into the lake. Charley bolted back toward the house. The only thing on her mind was to warn every one. Make them leave before who ever Harrison might tell could come after them.

Harrison pulled himself from the water and took off after her soaking wet. If not for the fact that he's mind was so focused on stopping Charley he would have realized he was freezing. Finally he caught up to her grabbing hold of her shoulder. She pulled trying to get away, swinging wildly at him, missing him by a mile.

"Let me go you .you.snake in the grass. I won't let you hurt them. Let me go!!!!!!" She fumed.

"Charlene stop for a minute and listen please. If I had wanted to turn any of them in, don't you think I could have done it by now?"

Charley stopped her struggling suddenly realising what he'd said. She glared at him still not trusting the soaking wet shivering pleading male.

"Look the government knows about the Plutarkian /Martian conflict but only from the Plutarkian viewpoint. According to them Mars agreed on a treaty to remove some of the planets resources and the Martian government reneged on the deal. From how they tell it Mars is the aggressor and started the war. The Plutarkian government asked the Earth to help them by allowing Plutark to take some of our resource to help defeat Mars."

"But that's a lie!!!"

"How do you know Charlene. Can you be so sure that what your friends have told you is the truth? Yeah I have to admit I really like them but it could all be an act. How are you so sure that Mars is not what the Plutakinas say they are?"

"How do I know? I have lived with these people for 4 years. I have seen things that would rip the soul right out of you. How do I know? Because for those same 4years I have been around number those Plutarkian maniacs. I have seen the pain and suffering they have caused. I have even been to Mars and saw first hand what they have done to it.
You want proof? Come on I'll give you proof!"

Charley walked silently back to the house with a shivering Harrison following her.
Once in side she called every one down into the guy's apartments.

"What's up Charley girl and what happened to you Harry?" Vinnie questioned looking at the wet and now coughing Harrison.

"Vinnie take him and get him something to put on and let him dry off." Charley's voice was cold.

"Okay come on I got some stuff that will fit ya." Vinnie lead Harrison toward his bedroom.

"Oh and Vinnie if he tries to leave out a window or some thing, blow his head off." Charley glared at Harrison not cracking a smile.

Vinnie started to smile thinking she was kidding but the look on her face made him think other wise." Bro whatever you did I hope you got a real good explanation because you are in some serious hot water with Charley." Vinnie whispered as they left the room.

Everyone looked at Charley waiting for a reason for her behavior. "He's a government agent. They have been spying on us, well on you guys for some time now. The stink fish told the government that Mars was the ones that started the war.

"And they believed them????" Modo's eye glowed red.

"I think they are trying to find out the truth but until then they have no reason to take one side over the other. That's what Harrison says his job is or was or I don't know???"
Charley said trying not to give in to the heartbreak she felt.

"Is." Harrison said coming back into the living room dried and dressed in a pair of Vinnie's sweats. "Look Charley, I care a great deal for you. But my job is important to me as well. I care about this world of ours and I have to be sure."

"I see where he's coming from Charley girl. Okay bro what do you need for us to prove we aren't the bad guys." Throttle said pulling the mask from his face.

Harrison looked at him in amazement. This wasn't the first time he'd seen them with out the disguises, but never this up close and personal. Soon all in the room removed their false coverings and Harrison was all but overwhelmed by the experience. "The fact that you are being so open with me is a pretty good start."

"But it's not enough. You have to see what we and the earth are dealing with." Charlie's look softened as she tried to understand the way Harrison saw things. Going upstairs Charley returned with Tatara. She sighed something and Tatara allowed Charley to remove her cap and the makeup Gates had been keeping on her face and hands. Then Charley signed for Tatara to speak to Harrison the way she normally would.

Tatara felt very comfortable being around the handsome friendly human but that is when he thought he was an Earthling. How would he respond to her now? She hesitated.

Harrison seeing her uncertainty takes the initiative to kneel closer to her. Timidly her hand touched his face and the startled human heard the sweetest voice fill his head. She told him of her life on the prison planet, how Smoke had saved her, and how the other children didn't survive. Knowing the importance of Harrison believing the true evil of the Plutarkian menace she guided his face closer to hers and let her antenna touch his forehead. The picture of what was done to the innocent was more than Harrison could have thought in his worst nightmares. When she moved away he opened his eyes and took her in his arms.

She took his face in her small shaking hands and thought to him. "That's why you have too help us stop them."

Harrison looked at the child's pleading eyes and promised, "I will darling somehow I promise I will."

Tatara, exhausted by the experience, leaned heavily on Harrison's shoulder. Vinnie walked over and picked her up. "Come on baby you've done enough for today. You better lay down for a while." He carried her up to her room.

Harrison dismayed by what he'd just heard and seen stayed kneeling on the floor.
Charley walked over and knelt beside him. He looked at her, "I'm sorry Charley, I don't know what to say?"

"Say you'll help us. The Plutarkian that Tatara showed you is Port De Salut in human disguise. What he did to Tatara and those children are what his people do to any planet they come in contact with. I know our government does have to know how dangerous they are but not until Salute is captured and taken back to Mars for trail.

"Just a little time to take this creep down while we can." Throttle said putting a supporting hand on Harrison's shoulder.

"Okay, okay, I guess I owe you that. I'll stick close to Salut and let you know what I can.
Harrison stood up and Charley walked with him to the door. "Charley, after all this is over do you think there might be a chance for us?" Charley smile and pulled him into a kiss that made an answer unnecessary.

The next morning:

Gates was the first one up in the morning and before she could leave for the office the phone rang. "Good morn.. , Well I don't know if they would be.. yes. I could ask but I'm sure they aren't up yetokay I will let you know when I get there yes .okay goodbye.

"What was that all about?" Charley asked coming into the kitchen seeing the puzzled look on Gate's face.

"I'm not sure. That was Mr. Z himself. He asked if the guys would be interested in working in one of his new shows."

"You're kidding. Do you think he's on to us?" Charley questioned.

"I don't think so. I mean it wouldn't be all that unusual for him to want them as model's he is in the business and look at them for heaven sake."

"Well you do have a good point there." Charley couldn't help but smile.

"Who has a good point where?" Modo questions as he enters the room immediately walking to Gates pulling her in a good morning embrace. He'd gotten up early just to see her before she left.

"We can talk about it later when everyone is up. Didn't you forget something big man?" Gates smiled with her obvious intentions clearly in her smile.

"Nope" Modo says returning a like smile as he gives her a little morning dessert.

" I think I will go and do something some where. Oh never mind." Charley waved her hand and doesn't bother to finish her explanation they wouldn't have heard her any way.

The phone rang again just as Charley past and she picked it up."Hi this is Charley. Hey babe, oh no it's not too early. It's never too early for you. .. Is that right. You think that will be the best time.. I'll have to check with the others. Now it's all beginning to make sense. I'll tell them. Huh? We can talk about that later. Yeah you too.

She stands for only a second before she let out a verbal alarm calling every one together. Opening the door she yells down to the guys. "VINNIE, THROTTLE, haul your furry hinnies up here I think it's party time."

Smoke and Tatara fall out of their room half sleep wondering who had lost their mind and what all the yelling was about. Karn slogged out of her room dragging her pillow like a favorite teddy bear. Throttle and Vinnie stumbling over each other up the stairs not quite awake. Every one converges on the living room flopping into what ever happened to be close at hand. Tatara climbs on to Vinnie laps to finish out her sleep cuddling in his arms.

"Look, one wise crack for any of you macho types and you die," Smoke mumbled as she plopped into a near by chair her hair wildly covering most of her face.

Karn who had found a comfortable spot resting her pillow and head in Throttle lap as he sat on the floor leaning against the wall putting his arms around her.

Gates and Modo walking into the room broke out in laughter seeing the mass of sleepy bodies strewn about.

"So what's the big emergency Charley Girl" Vinnie yawned as he readjusted Tartara to make her more comfortable.

Harrison just called; you are right Gates, he thinks it might be a set up. He was just assigned to do the show and Zatalivous was just too interested in making sure the guys were there.

""Whoa, hold up he wanted to make sure the guys were where?" Smoke asks now more focused.

"He called this morning and asked if the guys would be interested in modeling in his next show. It's going to be up at his very private estate in up state New York." Gates added.

"Excuse me, he wants who to do what?" Vinnie jerked up almost tossing Tatara on the floor scaring the poor child half to death.

"He said you three would be prefect to show his new leather collection, that you were the strong manly type that would send the customers crazy."

"Well that's understandable." Vinnie smiles gleaming to the hilt pulling Tatara back in place. She giggled amused at her brother's over sized ego as she wrapped her arm back around his waist.

A few hours later:

After some rather loud negotiating it was decided that Vinnie and Modo would do the show accompanied by Charley and Harrison. According to the information Gates was able to gather about the estate it was so electronically secure that there was a minimal of human guards. She would find the main control center over ride the security commands. Throttle and Karn would wait outside the estate and when the show was over join the group in trying to capture Zatalivous.

With their cover possibly blown it would be too dangerous leaving Tatara alone at the hotel. She would ride in Karn's vehicle and be guarded by its security. As the group head out everyone was confident that this was going to be the final conflict with the fugitive Plutarkian.

"You know I would give any thing to see those guys walk down that run way." Throttle chuckled as he drove towards the estate.

"Don't laugh too hard, if the draw had gone the other way you would be showing your goods in front of all those love starved females." Karn teased winking at Tatara.

To Be Continued