Disclaimer: The BMFM does not belong to me, and nor does the musical references. The book is a work of fiction. Characters, places and incidents, which were not produced in the original series, are produces of this author's wild imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental. All new characters that I have produced are reserved and therefore, mine. There is no harm intended, this is just for the pleasure of writing.
Background: { Arcana or ' hidden things ' )
Arcana is based on my belief in the delicate balance within oneself, in both the heart and mind. When something goes wrong in our lives, there are those of us who would rather run then face our fears; thus producing an alternative called denial. But what happens if this wall in which we hide behind becomes the rope that will in turn hang us? This brings me to part one of my story.
Caught in the relentless war, one woman must find forgiveness within herself against an unyielding sea of trouble. In order to find peace within her soul and what freedom truly means to those who would die preserving it.

The origin of the Plutarkian Occupation of Mars, according to original series, has been slightly reformatted. The war lasting in a time span from 1991 to 93. Stoker has been placed as the Field Marshal, and the Freedom Fighters have been created to appear more military established. Throttle, Modo and Vinnie are only generals at this time, becoming the three leaders Limburger spoke of in the first episode, later on.

The following depict scenes of explicit gore and violence, used only to show the true colours of war. Comments are welcome + greatly appreciated on the BMFM message board.

* Special thanx goes out to Foxfire for taking the time to help me get this out here and Ronnie for putting up with me. Otherwise, none of this would be possible. Love ya, Boo'JA!!
Temperance =========================================================

Story One:
Part One: Arcana
Prologue: Dust
Copyright January 14 2000, by Temperance. All rights reserved.

Mars. Martian base ' Stealth. ' Year two of the three year Plutarkian Occupation.
Fey walked down the poorly lit, dirt tunnel of the Martian underground base, Stealth. Positioned half a click from headquarters Freedom -- the lifeblood of their armies.
She walked poised. Cloaking her careworn feelings to her troops, she retreated to her quarters to review and embellish strategic battle plans on retrieving lost ground in yesterday's fight.
Her army boots clanked and rattled the sheets of metal grids that were raised inches above the muddy sludge covering the floor of the tunnel.
At the doors to her office, she punched in the security code into the electronic device located on her right. The heavy iron doors opened slightly. Snagged by a faulted connection in the wiring. Tired and frustrated with the lack of luck she seemed to be having, Fey cursed under her breath, slamming her fist against the device's panel and with an awkward thump the doors opened.
She turned and placed the command to shut the doors, muttering, " nothing ever works in this God forsaken place. "
Glancing around the room she felt the familiar cool draft emitting from the dark corners in the earthy walls of her small, scooped-out hole. She grasped her shoulder that ached of exhaustion from slaving away on excavation assignments, deep within the catacombs of Mars.
Fey walked wearily over to her small bed -- a shelf that was held in place by the two protruding chains on the wall, and slumped down onto it's uncomfortable mattress; composed of metal springs that would press into her back while she slept. Despite this poor excuse for a bed she welcomed it. The endless hours of fighting the constant, overwhelming urge for sleep reeked havoc on her physical -- not to mention mental, condition. Holding her head in her hands, a lone framed picture of her beloved family caught her attention. Their furry faces and warm smiles brought the sense of home to her withered soul. She leaned back into the mattress looking at them with tired eyes. Though the picture was singed, the figures themselves were still visible. Her mother and father standing proudly behind, while she stood in front of them. " I miss you, " she thought. Reaching out and lovingly touching the faces of her parents.
Sitting up, she untied the braid in her hair and shook it free. Gazing into the slab of glass that hung beside her, she stared into her blue/grey eyes that pierced from out of her reddish-brown fur matted with dirt. The military green officer's jacket she wore over her sweat-stained, camouflage tank-top bared the name ' Phoenix ' crested to its left pocket, and a red and blue strip on her right arm marked her rank as a Major-General.
She recalled how she had chosen the name Phoenix to symbolise her rebirth into the gruelling war. Reliving the intensity of the heat of the flames that fed the choking black smoke that had engulf her home she was dragged from. From the ashes where her spirituality lay, rose the Phoenix.
Returning to the mirror, she compared herself to the picture.
The innocence of her youth in more harmonious times had withered away by the harshness of war. The filth and misery she now endured dulled the once fiery red hair, sapphire eyes, and sepia coloured fur. Her once smiling face moulded into a stern, hateful expression. And the arrow-headed scar on her right cheek left a reminder of the hatred fuelling the fire that kept her going.
Meditating on the picture, in her eyes, everything that she as a child represented, the peace, the love, her happiness, had all burned away in the fire that had also claimed her family. Leaving her as the charred remnant. An empty shell of what she once was.
Feeling the somnolence numbing thoughts and senses, Fey closed her heavy eyelids. Feeling the sting of the day's subjection to dust and gunpowder and within moments she fell into an immediate slumber.

An hour later and a few corridors down in the transmission room, staffs worked heavily with great coerce on an unknown signal approaching the co-ordinates of the Freedom base. Amongst the hustle, a young soldier sat at the computer scanners frantically trying to trace the signal. Lt. Bear approached him. His great grey bulk casting a dark shadow on the young pup. He leaned down and casually rested one giant hand on the table, his torso engulfing the soldier, and his sonorous voice boomed as he asked, " Trooper what is this thing? Plutarkian? Sand Raider? "
The mouse was startled. (Lt. Bear was known for his cantankerous personality and he replied intimidated). " I'm not sure sir. Scanners can't make a match; there must be some sort of jamming frequency. "
" Damn sons of bitches! " he stammered, slamming his fist on the table. The soldier jolted up, straighter and more attentive. " Keep at it Trooper, " Bear said calmly. Trying to save his aggression for the enemy, instead of unleashing it upon his fellow comrades as his girl had suggested.
" Lt. Bear! We've got a visual sir, " called a female soldier from across room.
" Go to screen, " he ordered. Turning abruptly down the step and moving towards the middle of the room.
There on the huge screen, was a distorted picture of an armoured vehicle much like a tank/hummer, proceeding to attack on the Freedom base. It's massive body was masked by huge clouds of thick red dust -- later seen as the result of two large tracks running on either side, making the tank's detection difficult for their Martian scanners. A line of small spikes was also found along the track's treads as a must on Mars' rocky surface. There was a rotation of four; forty-nine inch cannons secured to the roof that had already penetrated the heavily guarded walls of the compound with the greatest of ease.
Soldiers were seen scattering out the building. Guns blazing at the enormous tank that towered over them as it ploughed through the troops. Its huge bulldozing blade was decorated with eight small spikes, followed by five larger stakes turned outward on a forty-five degree angle lining the bottom. Giving the imagination a picture of a gaping toothed mouth.
The room filled with gasps of horror. Adrenaline surged through the lieutenant. " Sweet mother of -- SOUND THE ALARMS!!! " And at his order a fist slammed down on a large red button, sending a swirl of alarms to go off throughout the base.

Fey's eyes flew open. The alarms rousing her as she glared round the room; heart beating loudly. Her eye's focused on the door, where the shouts of fear and confusion could be heard echoing in her room.
Grabbing her officer's jacket Fey ran for the exit. Outside the corridors had become a labyrinth of red flashing lights while soldiers ran in every direction.
" Well at least the alarms still work, " she thought. Humouring herself to calm her shaken nerves while fighting her way down to the transmission room.
Inside Lt. Bear had already assembled the other high-ranking officers and was in the process of assigning them to divisions when Fey stormed in.
" Bear! What the hell is going on here? " Fey yelled. Trying to be heard above the chaotic noise at the five remaining officers, three males and a female, huddled in the centre of the room, who had turned to see her face twisted in angry.
" There's been an attack on the Freedom base, " Bear explained, as Fey noted the carnage taking place on the screen. " I've already taken measures in the deployment of troops along the eastern ridge. I figured that if we can take them from behind and close the gap, we'll have them defending on all sides. " He motioned the two male officers to proceed as planned.
" Sounds good? " Fey commended. Watching the mighty tank fire upon the northern wing of the compound, sending debris across the picture of the screen and taking it out. " Who we up against? "
" We don't know yet. " replied the golden-brown female. Running a hand through her short, spiked, white-blonde hair." Could be Sand Raiders from yesterday, but the weapon technology seems far too advanced. "
" Hmm, looks like Stalelin's got his grubby hands on some new toys, " Fey thought aloud. Staring into the distorted fuzz on screen as if interesting. " Right, Bear take troops and strengthen that eastern wing. I'll move west and hold the cliffs. Haze, take a group and move around to help close the area they came from. Nothing go' until I give the signal. Green!? " Bear nodded in agreement.
" I think it would be wiser if I went the you Fey, " protested Hazel.
Fey gave a knowing grin. " I'll manage Haze. LET'S MOVE OUT!!! "
In forty-five minutes, Fey and a unit composed of two hundred soldiers had already crossed the third bridge of the Macabre Canyon, the hills of the Garrison, and were now moving up the cliffs of the ridge that surrounded the compound where the Freedom base was located.
Before ascending, the soldiers quickly formed at the base of the cliffs. Bombers took their place on the flanks between the armed foot soldiers, facing outward, while Martian cycles formed in the front. Screened in the rocks and ledges of the steep of the cliffs ahead was Fey, her staff of two communicators and a five-mouse medical team.
The main infantry weapons were the terrain Shell-Scouts. An eight-inch underground target seeker that fired into the ground at an enemy signal, and exploded on a fifteen feet radius. And the Martian XL7 Uzi. Equipped with a twelve-inch barrel and a double-edged bayonet.
Arriving at the top, Fey and her staff looked down on the enemy. Three new tanks had come to the aid of the first, which now burned in the compound. Their four rotating cannons had destroyed most of the front and sidelines. A further, eight or nine hundred Sand Raiders (half in attack vehicles), came from over the hills of the Garrison in the north. Hazel's squad had no choice but to attack, as they were sucked into the masses.
To the east, binoculars zoned in on Bear's squad holding their position until Fey gave the signal.
Nervousness formed in the pit of her stomach, making her knees quiver and her stomach knot. Closing her eyes, she took in a deep breath. Picturing the anxiety as a toxic gas numbing her thoughts, that expelled from her body as she exhaled.
Thinking more clearly now, she turned to address her troops that gathered behind her.
" ALRIGHT PEOPLE, LISTEN UP! WHEN I GIVE THE SIGNAL, DIVISIONS ONE THROUGH FIFTEEN SPREAD NORTH AND FILL THE GAP. SIXTEEN THROUGH TWENTY-ONE, I WANT YOU MOVING SOUTH. THE REST TAKE ARMS HERE. I WANT A RADIO-LINK WITH EVERY UNIT. GREEN?! " They replied " GREEN! " in an enthused cry. Fey turned to her communicator on her left and nodded, in which he turned and gave the thumbs-up to the Martian cyclist on his far right. With the rear of the bike facing outward, the rider gunned his engine, extracting two red flares from the exhaust pipes that soared high into the air over the battle plain in crimson streams. Lingering long after the roar rose and broke like crashing surf, as North, East and West came alive with Freedom Fighters. Cascaded down the sun-baked incline and falling on the enemy.

Immediately the troops separate to her orders, as Fey returned up to her staff where she took up the binoculars once again.
In the north, the first wave of Raiders were decimated. Either mauled by rapid-fire or blown to smithereens by Target-Seekers. Yet the second wave burst forward by returning fire. Behind, their gleaming machetes dulled red with Martian blood cutting the mice down to size. This formation continued forward at a crawl up the ridge. The mice pressing from all sides, fed by reserves sent by Fey. Great red stains formed on the dirt of the arid slope. More and more bodies dropped and crumpled lifeless. Those who surged from behind fought on their fallen comrades, slicing legs and feet on shattered weapons, throwing flesh against the shifts of iron that thrust into breasts and stomachs, adding to the dead heap. Yet despite all this, things were looking good, as much as things could in bloody battle. The armoured tanks were demolished in flames and the Sand Raiders had been attacked from behind, reducing them to a few hundred.
" I think we're gonna win this one, " replied a soldier to another.
Overhearing their conversation from above, Fey said nothing. Watching in amazement as her medical team scurry off to help the wounded that were already pouring in. Shocking her no matter how many battles she had been through. A tap on her shoulder from her communications mouse soon disturbed her moment in stunned fascination. " General Phoenix, line for you ma'am."
She took the radio from him and answered, " Phoenix here. "
" Fey, it's Bear. How ya holding up? " (These conversations were all in code of course.)
" I'm up to my ass in casualties. But other than that Bear we're holding fine. How you do'in? " A flashing light blinked from within the Garrison hills diverted her attention. Bear's voice dwindled into oblivion as she focused on the strange reflecting light source. Squinting, she made out small, green scaly faces.
At 1:24 PM Martian time, the small room that over looked the larger transmission room was completely deserted. All that lingered were the buzzing murmurs of computer monitors and Fey's static SOS received on a lone two-way radio.
Matrix Ferric, a.k.a GI as everyone calls him, weary came through the automatic glass doors. He was an eighteen-year-old computer genius from the Beta Quadrant. A tall wiry mouse, with short brown hair and broad shoulders that complemented his muted-green uniform. His fur was a creamy brown, tinted with lighter shades by the lights above, that also displayed the black circles that tarnished his under-eyes from his forth night shift in a row.
At first he didn't notice Fey's SOS. Instead he continued to rest his tired eyes on a distorted monitor to his left. Mesmerised by the old re-runs of Martian sitcoms that were now no more. He took another bite of his cheese sandwich he had picked up from the all night kitchen. Fey's voice seemed to go right through his ears until the static irritated him enough to look over from where it was emitting. " Aw man! " he choked. Realising the urgency he jumped to his chair and rolled over to respond. " This is base 477. We read you, over. "
" This is General Phoenix from Stealth reporting an attack on the Freedom, " there was a moment of pause as Fey took cover from a speeding missile. Matrix could hear it whistle by then explode in the background, making him thankful that he had been found more useful as a hacker than a soldier. " I repeat. This is Freedom base 771 requesting immediate back up! Over."
" Sand Raiders? " he asked. His hand writing quickly, as he relayed her message onto paper.
" Raiders AND Plutarkians! It was a trap! Those bastards were hiding in the Garrisons until we had assembled. All hells broke loose out here. We need reserves pronto! Over. "
" What's your position? "
" Position is, " another pause for rapid gunfire. " Repeat Over. "
" Copy general. Helps on the way, " he reassured. Dotting the last period on the note with such force it broke the pencil.
" Make it quick! Phoen -- "
A sudden mass explosion abruptly broke their link. Leaving static to ring out throughout the room.
" YAHOOOOOOO!!! " Came Vinnie's triumphant cry echoing from behind, as he roared into the air and landed his bike square in the middle of Throttle and Carbine.

Field Marshal and Chief in command, Stoker, had taken a fairly large party of soldiers to a recent Sand Raider camp that had established just four miles outside of base 477. And with aid of Head-General Throttle, his second and third in commands, Modo and Vinnie, they had helped to secure the area.
Upon attack the Martian troops had sustained minimal casualties and were just finishing a sweep of the camp.

" Hey, hey Carbine, " said Vinnie, trying to get her attention. " What happened back there sweetheart? You had the shot, why didn't you take it? "
The masked female lifted the helmet from off of her head, and shook her long, ebony hair free from it's confined quarters, leaving it to blow on the warm Martian wind.
" I don't know, maybe you should ask my sworn guardian there, " she snarled. Referring to Throttle who had a look of guilt upon his face.
Before having a chance to reply Throttle's attention became averted to Matrix's scarcely heard cries over the two-way radio. He flashed a weak smile at Carbine. Thankful that Matrix had saved his tail from of another sticky situation with her.
" This is base 477, anyone there? Please respond, " Matrix cried.
" Hey G.I, wuz'up bro? " Throttle greeted. Pretending not to hear Carbine's low growls, he switched the call to speaker.
" Sir, " Matrix took in a deep breath before he spilt the news. " There's been an attack on the Freedom base. Plutarkians have already penetrated the perimeter. Major-General Phoenix just radioed in and -- "
" Fey? " Came a questioning voice from behind. It was Stoker. Standing there having only to hear the words
' Fey ' and ' Plutarkians ' before his mind flooded with horrible scenarios of how much danger she and the base could be in. In this period of fret, Stoker dismissed Matrix and turned to the four.
" So what's the plan? " asked Throttle, noticing the Chief's more noticeable expression of distress than his own.
" Rally the troops bros, sounds like their starting without us, " Stoker replied, mounting his bike.
Throttle followed suit. Turning to Carbine, he noticed that she too was getting ready for battle. " Not so fast babe, we need you to go to the Sand Trap and get in touch with Arsenal. "
" WHAT!? No way am I going back! Matrix can do that that's what he's there for. Face it Throttle your gonna need all the help you can get! " She argued. For this was not first time Throttle had tried to protect her from the relentless war. Though his heart was in the right place, Throttle's ways were starting to frustrate her. He gave her no way of proving herself capable and in doing that, it gave her a weak persona in the eyes of others.
" Precisely why we need you to go, the storm last night up rooted the radio lines, " he replied. " And take Modo with you. "
Carbine exploded with frustration. " THROTTLE!? I don't need the babysitter! No offence Modo, "
" None taken, " he answered quietly and quickly. Reluctant to contribute in anyway to their raging quarrel.
" I'm not a child any more Throttle. We're all in this together. You can't keep trying to Styrofoam everything cuz you think I'm gonna get hurt, it's not gonna -- " she started before being interrupted.
" What's the hold up? " Stoker called. Wondering why they weren't already on their way.
" I was just asking Carbine to head over to the Sand Trap and get in touch with Arsenal, " Throttle explained. " I figured we'd need all the help we could get. "
Stoker looked to Carbine who glared at Throttle with a weird expression of frightening rage. Seeing that it made Throttle's stomach knotted in nervousness, hoping that she wouldn't end their relationship due to his selfishness.
" Hmm, " he pondered, stroking his furry chin as he eyed Throttle, seeing that the REAL reason for his concern was for her safety. He could sympathise with him. Knowing that anyone who felt strongly towards another would feel inclined to protect them from this war, Stoker was no exception. Silence passed except for the sound of a Martian gale, whistling as it rose from the west. Finally he broke the tensile anticipation by giving his final word. " Good call bro, darlin' if you please. "
Giving a sigh of relief, Throttle looked to Carbine whom gave a look of warning that he was staking on thin ice. Mounting her bike, she swung around abruptly and sped off for the base. Purposely leaving the three to eat her dust.
" You're really starting to push it with Carbine there bro, " Stoker observed. Coughing, he waved the dust away.
" Women like that need their freedom. If you want 'em there in the morning, you've got give 'em the choice on how they spend their night. " He leaned over and knocked him in the gut. " Whether it's with or without you. " Throttle grinned at his crude joke.
And with that, he motioned Vinnie to gather the scattered divisions. He acknowledged by doing doughnuts in the middle of the area to get the troop's attention, and within moments they were on their way to the Freedom compound.
Meanwhile back at the compound, Fey and another mouse had barricaded themselves amongst a group of boulders, and were being fired upon by Plutarkian soldiers. The biker she was with had been shot severely in the gut. His wound had strewed blood everywhere.
In between reloads, she could hear the faint babbling of the young mouse. Locked in a state of delirium from his loss of blood.
" It's going to be alright, " she said, trying to reassure him. But the look in his eyes told her that he was beyond any words of salvation. " It's going to be alright, " she thought reverberating. Trying to convince herself.
Fey stuck the tip of the gun out towards her enemies and fired when they appeared from out of the cliffs above. She hit one of them. The bullet piercing his stomach, he staggered forward, and fell down the precipice of the cliff.
She pressed the trigger a few more times, wounding more before the heart-stopping sound came from her empty gun. Fey reached back and fumbled for another cartridge, eyes never leaving her targets as she patted an empty case. " Shit! Out! " Her mind stammered. Hastily, she dodged to the side; pressing against the boulder, using it as a shield against the rain of bullets that soon followed. Her breathing increased rapidly. Desperately turning over means of escape as she watched her opposition look to each other in confusion at her lack of response.
Her eyes scoured frantically throughout the cavern. Searching for anything that could be put to use. She spied the red markings of a Shell Scout tucked away in the soldier's bike bag. Not believing her luck, she crawled over and lovingly took it. Her hands examined the Scout in every detail; everything seemed to be in its place, everything seems... Her face twisted in horror. The trigger was broken. On her knees, she bowed her head and slumped in helplessness. Knowing that detonation could only occur if one was present in the area of the explosion. Ultimately losing their own life. " Should be thankful, " she thought. For within that moment she had actually felt the arms of hope. A feeling that had become a stranger to her over the years.
A bloody hand touched her knee. Looking up, she meet with the soldier's distant eyes. He reached up for the Scout, taking from her hands and embraced it to his chest. No words passed between them, as Fey searched within herself for an explanation on why this pup would make such a sacrifice. But her only reckoning was that his wounds would surely become gangrenous and spread by the time they found help. Thus, having to have his legs amputated which would have extensive emotional scaring to anyone faced with the same problem. Searching of an answer, she found herself being held captive by his eyes, seeing that they had lost that glint of life of a soul clinging to stay alive. She didn't want to look at them, but it was no use. She became lost in his abyssal pupils, finding a soul that had already connected with the higher power, all that was left was him to be quietus.
" Fey... "
" What? " she asked to the soldier. Thinking he had spoken though had he hadn't. He looked at her in confusion, as voices and footsteps were heard approaching. Fey jerked around to see and smell the foul stench of her oppressors coming to claim their prize. She turned to the mouse for a final time, instinctively she reached out and together they locked hand to wrist in a final solute, the soldier slipping a folded piece of paper into the pocket of her right pant leg.
" What's your name pup? "
" Gage, ma'am, " he replied. His voice low and distant.
" Gage... Why? "
" Cuz General, " recognising the red and blue band around her arm. " It's worth our freedom. "
" Freedom?? " his thought echoed, as her mind froze. She couldn't reply. Years of denial and yet she still couldn't reply. It was so easy in the beginning but now found it difficult to remember. The soldier's eyes were waited for a reply. Probing with an icy stare at her silence. She couldn't take it. It was time to leave. She crawled to the opening, tearing out into the open and across the spacious rocks beyond. Despite distractions, her only thought was to run. Everything sped by her in a blur, as she leaped and bound over debris in her way. Never once looking back, even when the explosion rocked the ground around her, sending a piece of rock to impact the side of her head, momentary stunning her but still she kept her pace. Her mind far too distraught to take notice.
Faster and further where his haunting words couldn't catch her, Fey's heart pounded frantically, almost as if it were to explode out from her chest. She fell in an emotional heap to the sandy ground. Clenching her fists as she fought back the tears of loss, fear, and sleep deprivation. When the moment eased, she looked a few meters ahead through a rising Simoon, making-out familiar shapes. And with all the strength she could muster, she pressed on towards them.
Up ahead, the familiar shapes Fey had seen were in fact Stoker merging with Bear's surviving masses.
" Bear! " Stoker greeted. Giving a masculine hug to an old friend. " Nice to see your still amongst the living bro."
" Ya long time no see. How's war been treatin' ya? "
" Better than you from the looks of ya, " he replied noticing Bear's ragged appearance. Watching as sweat dripped from his bald grey head, running down passed cuts and bruises that covered nearly every inch of his body, finally soaking into the waist band -- where perspiration had already collected on his army pants; tattered from previous encounters with jagged rocks and combat.
Stoker continued to scour the crowd of soldiers that had gathered around them. Noticing that there was one face he did not see. " Where's Fey? "
Bear's face shifted into a more distraught expression at her name. " No clue. We were forced to break contact when those cheesy Tuna's dropped some sort of bomb on her position. "
" A new bomb? "
" Yah. It was kinda like a nerve toxin, but it wasn't. "
Stoker paused. Seeking answers in his head before he spoke, " what ever it was, it'll leave traces in the soil, so we'll take some samples later. "
Both mice were silent in their thoughts when a soldier's voice rang out. " Look! "
Following the mass of the pointing, fingerless gloves, a figure emerged from out of the billows of dust, seeing massive amounts of flaming hair danced around her head as the female drew closer.
" Fey darlin', " Stoker called. Knowing there was only one mouse he knew with hair like that.
Coming closer, her hard features became more distinct, while her eyes remained empty and her thoughts at their usual distance.
" You alright? " asked Throttle. Concerned with her ragged appearance, of shredded clothing soaked with blood.
" Quite the gash you've got, " Stoker remarked. Seeing where a blow had grazed her flesh, causing a stream of blood to run down the side of her cheek and onto her shoulder. " What'cha been doing? "
She reached up and touch her wound. Spreading the blood between her thumb and index finger. Noticing that she had indeed been struck. " Making friends, " she replied. Her eyes drifted up to Throttle, who had stood quietly in the background. He flashed a warm smile in the acknowledgement to her look. She cleared her throat, and turned to Stoker. " So what's the skinny, Stoke? " Blanking both the soldier and her thoughts out to focus on the situation at hand.
Stoker turned to see coils of smoke of the compound rising in the distance. He looked to both Bear and Fey before shaking his head. " Jeez, I leave you two alone for two seconds and this is what I come back too. "
Bear grinned. " Would you have preferred if we'd had asked first? "
The two chuckled to themselves for a brief moment before a strange vibration came over them. All conversations were seized when an unexpected explosion of mass proportion shook the ground around them. All unattended bikes fell to the floor and dust gathered into massive clouds, as for a few earth-shattering moments, the ground beneath them seemed to come alive.
" What IS that!? " Fey shouted, grasping onto Bear's shoulder for balance. Before anyone could answer the shaking stopped abruptly. The four looked to each other in confusion while the dust settled.
" What was that? " Bear asked.
" Sounded like a Plutarkian with a bad case of gas, " Modo remark. Vinnie laugh as well as a few others.
" Whatever it was, it's gonna be bad, " Fey replied.
Ironically from behind from behind the Garrisons where they stood, a mass of black clouds swarmed towards them with impetuous speed.
" GAS!!! " Stoker cried.
Like ants the mice scattered as the thick green gas came at them with hurricane force. Sweeping over the terrain and poisoning the air. During these tenuous moments the wind was wailing at a sirenous pitch, the environment around them became a confusing swirl of violent nerve toxin so dense they were momentarily. Consumed by darkness before the toxin continued on its path of destruction towards the southern horizon.
" You guys alright? " asked Stoker aloud.
" Yeah. " Came Bear's voice to his left.
" All clear here, " called Vinnie as he and Modo brushed the sand from their fur.
" Yep still moving, " answered Throttle from behind the third boulder on his right. He looked at Fey who huddled behind the boulder next to the rock beside him.
" Fey? " called Stoker, noticing that she had not responded.
Throttle watched, as Fey's eyes remained locked into the rock. " Fey? " Trying to get her attention. In response to her name she looked up, her swollen eyes projected their trepidation thought blue stones. " It's okay, it's over. "
Embarrassed, she jolted up. Brushing herself off she turned to answer Stoker. " Yeah I'm still here. "
Relieved to hear her voice, Stoker walked over to her. " Don't be doing that darlin', you near enough gave me heart failure. " She gave a weak smile, looking as if she had been crying. " You okay doll? " Tenderly touching her on the back.
" I just got sand in my eyes that's all! " she snapped, scared of being thought of as weak.
He backed off and turned to the deserted area. " ALL RIGHT FIGHTERS, FALL IN! "
Hands and bandannas left mouths, as the troops emerged from their hiding and regrouped back onto the area. Eyes scoured over the few friends that were caught in the gas. The eerie scene burned into minds, seeing that the bodies were frozen in their original positions upon impact. Some in running formation, others looking to the heavens as the toxic hell descended upon them, all sending shivers up Fey's spine. She watched in the not so far distance as a female soldier bent over and sobbed over her fallen love. Fey's heart closed to her cries of loss. For fear she might reveal her own.

" Is THAT all you've got!? " shouted Bear, in the direction from where the gas cloud had come. His rage echoing over the hills beyond.
" NO! " Came the almost instant reply from a female voice on the other side of the hill, opposite to where he stood.
Bear looked to Stoker in surprise at the unexpected reply. Stoker gave a half smile to the familiar voice. " Carbine darlin' that you? "
From a few meters back Throttle, Modo, and Vinnie tended to the dead when Carbine's name rung out. Throttle's head shot up, seeing her appear at the peek of the hill.
" You can't handle what we got bub! " came another feminine voice, as a mass of blonde hair came up from behind and stood beside Carbine.
" NEESH! " Bear exclaimed, running up the incline to meet her.
Neesha greeted him with a warm smile; her long blonde hair blew in waves across her greasy fawn coloured fur that glistened in the sun. She too ran down to meet him. Before impacted, Neesha jumped into Bear's arms. Swinging her around by her firm stomach, Bear bent down to meet her mouth and together they kissed their hellos.
" Long time no kiss handsome, " cooed Neesha when they broke. (Bear had been relocated at Stealth for a few months to help establish the underground base, that she and Bear had hardly seen each other.)
" Well then let's not waste another second beautiful, " Bear replied. Kissing her again.
Below, Throttle and Carbine too had finished their embrace and rejoined the ranks of others, when the following mass of reserves came descending from the hills. A huge black male figure appeared at the top of the hill, standing poised as he looked down upon the troops as his reserves descended.
" Arsenal! " called Stoker to the mouse. " Down here. "
The brutish mouse went sideways down the arid slope of the sandy incline, to keep his balance. The veins in his legs flexed and his abs rippled beneath his black muscle-shirt, as the mouse descended towards Stoker and the rest of the officers. From what one could tell from the roots of his buzz-cut, his hair was a grey-white, with a half serpent tattooed in green and silver ink on the top of his head. The mouse's turned and displayed his left side, where it had been completely remoulded in a robotic skeletal, from the side of his cheek to mid-thigh; under his pants.
Following behind him was a slightly smaller brown male, Corporal Scythe, who was tall as well as handsome. With his short, spiked, black hair well maintained physique, and complementing blue jeans.
" Good to see you again bros. I'm sure you've meet the others, " Stoker hosted. He began to re-acquaint each of the officers as Arsenal and Scythe nodded in acknowledgement. He stopped at Fey who stood with her arms crossed and sneered as their eyes meet.
" And you've meet the Major, " Stoker finished, his tone low.
" Major, " Scythe greeted. Shaking her hand.
" Fey, " Arsenal said coldly.
" Arsenal, " she replied, in a low tone. Their glares stilled the group as both looked at each other in hatred.
Stoker coughed to break the tension. " Well now that we're all acquainted again. How's 'bout we go fight that war? "
Fey turned abruptly. Marching off to fetch a gun.
" Right, lets regroup and get this party under way shall we? " Stoker ordered, though his thoughts were stirred. He left the circle and walked over to Fey who stood assembling together an assault rifle. Her agitated movements displayed her unsettled mood. " Fey, " he said.
She didn't turn. " What? " she snapped.
" I know you and Arsenal are not on the best of terms but I need you... WE need you to put your differences aside and work together to win this okay, " he urged.
She jerked her head around at him. " I can't work with him and you know that Stoker. " she whispered sharply.
Stoker exploded with a fierce shout indicating an emotional connection towards the subject. " I KNOW that Fey! " Fey's mouth went tight and her face ridged; ready to unleash a verbal counter-act. The mouse quickly changed his tone. " What happened, happened, we can't change that. "
Fey stood staring at him for a moment before dropping her eyes. " We better be move'n, " she said, changing the subject. " We're targets if we stay out here in one place. " And with that she swung three different types of artillery onto her right shoulder, another in her left, mounted the bike who's previous rider had perished in the gas cloud, and then motioned a party of soldiers to follow her up the hill.
Stoker placed his hands on his hips and shook his head with dismay. Knowing that way the usual way she agreed.
" What am I gonna do with you? "
Carbine watched the whole interaction from a few meters away. She saw Fey take the small scouting group up the hill. Her body seeming so tense, as if she was about to explode in a fit of rage. " What's eating her? " she asked.
" It's nothing, " came a sudden reply from Hazel. " The General's just blow'n off some steam. " Hesitating to go any further into Fey's foundations.
" Haze!? Where'd you come from? " She asked. Not recalling seeing her with Bear's party.
" Naw I was with Bear. Somewhere in the background, you just didn't see me. "
" Oh? " said Carbine. Finding that Hazel's reply had answered the doubt in her head perfectly. There was something about Hazel that unnerved her. The way she'd appear out of nowhere, only to vanish at the same suddenness. " Oh well, it's good to see you again. "
Heavy smells of cordite and singed fur filled the air as the troops rode through the Garrisons. So far there were no signs of the enemy.
Each officer was in charge of his or her own squad -- there were seven in total, riding in a triangular formation across the arid desert. Stoker took the left tip, Fey, Bear and Arsenal taking right, leaving Throttle to come up from behind.
" Are you getting anything Stoke? " said Throttle's rustic voice over his transmitter.
" That's negative my boy. I can hear it but all I see is sand. "
" Yah that's what I'm getting too. "
" How 'bout you Fey? "
There was no replied. Static rung clear.
" Aren't you gonna take that? " asked Bear as they rode. Hearing the whole conversation as they travelled. Fey made no attempt to acknowledge. Angry that Stoker had purposely stuck her and Arsenal together. That cocky bastard!
In dismay Bear took the radio up to his mouth and answered for her. " Ahh, that's a negative Stoke, we don't see anything either. "
" Alright just keep your eye's peeled, over and out. "
He turned back to Fey. " Something wrong? " Bear asked.
" Nothing that concerns you, " she sneered.
" Well yeah it does concern me. We've got to communicate if we're gonna -- " He felt a poke from Neesha who rode behind him. Giving him a signal not to pursue the conversation any further.
" It's cuz she's a crazy Rat, that slept her way to Major-General, " said Arsenal bitterly.
" Stop being such a jerk, Arsenal! Just cut 'er some slack will ya! " fired Neesha.
" Slack!? Yeah I'll cut'er some slack, bloody whore. "
Fey immediately stopped her engage at his words. Startling the ranks behind her, as they manoeuvred out of the way.
" Hey! Shut it or I'll have your ass for slander, " Bear threatened. Coming to his friend's defence as the group halted. " Superior or not! "
Looking back Fey had dismounted. Her body hunched and tensed with rage like pain. Inside, her mind flashed to a wall of flames. Feeling their incinerating heat against her fur. Tears swelling in her eyes at her pain of loss and guilt. Her fists clenched and eyes burned with shear hatred at herself. Not feeling her nails cut into her palm, drawing blood to the surface while concentrating on satanic thoughts. Her expression quickly mirrored the sounds around them. For during her deep trance the ground around them exploded. Sending mass amounts of dirt hurtling into the air, as bombs were fired from beyond. The attack had sprung on them not but a few seconds ago. The enemy charging towards them at full speed as Fey stood oblivious.
" Kill the BASTARDS! " Arsenal shouted. Gunning his engine he led a surge of fighters towards the mix of Plutarkians and Sand Raiders.
Half out of their minds and with a thirst for vengeance, the mice rushed into the area from all sides. A volley of gunfire cut holes in their ranks, and with the unexpected amount of resistance they were stunned momentarily.
" Fey MOVE! " Neesha shouted. Running at Fey and forcefully removed her from the path of an incoming missile. Staring into Fey eyes, she saw how greatly she was in need of help. " Time to get with the program girl. "
" What? What is it? An attack? We're being attacked! " Fey babbled as if she had been in a coma and missed the war.
" Well at least your on the same page, " Neesha muttered to herself. Watching Fey scrabbled for a weapon and leave for higher ground.

" Don't give 'em time to reload, boys! " Arsenal roared.
The mass of maddened mice rushed forward again met this time with slashing machetes and heavy artillery. Yet, nothing diminished their rage. They pushed themselves against the cold steel, as sounds made by the combatants were the cries of wounded and the moans of the dying.
" DIIIE TUNAS!!! " Fey cried, from the top of a cluster of boulders. Pulling heavy on trigger, the bullets rained down on the enemy below. All fell to the ground before having a chance to counter-attack her assault. But their bloody corpses did not slake her lust for revenge against Arsenal's verbal daggers. Pulling back, she observed the onslaught around her. Her environment became like a movie, playing in slow motion before her. The screams and cries of thousands of tortured souls echoing over the vast red wasteland. The noise of bodies, collapsing on the ground, the red dust rising as they fell. Burning as this fiery hell descended upon them.
Ridding the image out from her mind, Bear and Neesha were seen feverishly holding their position just beyond the plain before her, while Arsenal fought head to head with a gather brutish Sand Raider commander a few meters behind her. Martian fighters, lead by Scythe and Hazel, confronted the enemy just beyond.
Curious, she jumped down. Hiding behind a rock, she spied on Arsenal's present engagement. Not acknowledging the sound of a Plutarkian aircraft ringing overhead.
Fists flew and bloodshed, as both competitors threw themselves at one another. Turning the situation into a fight-to-the-finish, match of fisticuffs, as the males took turns in inflicting pain on each other. Both were grimacing at the time of impact.
A sudden thought of malicious origin swept over Fey, when Arsenal's back was turned to her. Something in the sight of opportunity in his vulnerability did thoughts of mutiny obscure her sense of reason. The hot steel of the rifle became apparent to her. Calling her from the deep corners of her mind.
" Do it! Do it now. Stick it to the mouse! " It sang.
She raised the firearm and took aim. Pressing the trigger sending a single shot exploded from its chambers and sped towards the Sand Raider. Hitting him square in the chest and exiting through the small of his back. Dead upon impact, the commander fell backwards to the ground.
Arsenal, who was just getting his second breath, turned behind him in surprise and astonishment. Feeling an uneasiness come over him, as he saw Fey looking down on him with a grin of malcontent upon her face.
From other end of the battleground, behind a group of boulders, Bear spied the Plutarkian aircraft landing not but a few miles away. His binoculars zoned in on a gathering of Plutarkian soldiers huddled around four Martian captives. Bear watched in horror as each captive was viciously butchered.
In outrage, Bear turned to Neesha, firing feverishly at the approaching Raiders. Seeing that she was capable of holding the fort while he went out to investigate.
" Alright beautiful, hold the fort, " he said giving her peck on the cheek. Interrupting whatever thoughts were running through her mind at the time.
" Huh? Where are you going? " She asked puzzled. Turning to see Bear already down the slope and on his way to wherever his was going. But her gaze could not be held for long, as a shower of ballets flew up from below. " Where ever your going, be careful my love. "
Not to far off, Throttle, Modo, Vincent, and Carbine were caught in a sandwich between a swarm of Raiders to their right and a fresh shipment of Plutarkian recruits on their left. The four had separated into two groups. One consisted of Modo and Vincent who lead a squad of bikers against the Raiders in the east. While Throttle and Carbine took to higher ground on the rocks, piled high over a stream of viscid lava. Their fight was with the attackers from the west.
" Cover me while I place this one over there, " ordered Throttle. Leaving Carbine to take the rifle as he lower himself and set the detonator.
For the past hour they had been setting detonators around the ridge, so that when the time came to leave, the explosion would take the Plutarkians with it.
" All in place? " Carbine asked, when he returned beside her.
" Yep! Now we just need to get out of here before this place goes sky-high, " he said. Taking quick checks behind him while firing for a means of escape. A sudden feeling of pain tore him from his thoughts, when a bullet came up and struck him in the shoulder, the blow sending him tumbling backwards towards the edge. Carbine lunged towards him. Diving along the rocky ground and to reach his arm as Throttle went over. Grabbing him, Carbine summoned all her strength, pulling her love back up into the summit. Throttle smiled. Brushing his hand against her soft cheek. He looked back. Observing the ground below he had nearly met. He concluded that their only means of escape was to the second ridge behind them. The only problem was that there was a mote of lava surrounding it.
" Can't go through it, " Carbine said. Seeing the same obstacle.
" Can't go around it, " he replied.
" Can't go under it, "
" Got to go -- "
" Over it! "
" But how? " he said to himself. Excluding Carbine from his pondering, Throttle didn't notice her slipping off behind him. After minutes in thought, Throttle looked to his side to see an empty space where Carbine used to be.
" Carbine get down! " he ordered, looking up. Watching in horror and helplessness, as he found his defenceless love climbing up the steep face of the cliff away from his grasp. The fear eating away at his control -- the only thing that was preventing him from going after her soon was distracted when a volley of fire came up from below.
Though Carbine was out of their range, Throttle could not help worrying. Force to return fire, as the enemy began a crawl up the cliff. His anxiety left him distracted, not realising that his ammo had run out.
Before releasing a word to sound his discontent, pebbles were heard dropping from above, as they scattered along the ground. Throttle immediately looked to see Carbine's leg slip, when she pulled herself onto the ledge beside a huge boulder.
" What are you doing!? " he shouted.
" Trust me! " she called back.
The agony of anticipation followed the minutes that dragged on before Throttle saw Carbine again. He looked back to hear the grunts of the enemy climbing up towards them.
" Let's go Carbine! " he shouted in earnest. There was no reply. " Carbine!? CARBI--??? " He stopped in mid-shout, when the massive boulder above him started to move and shake, before plummeting down into the lava below. He turned around to see Carbine standing behind him with a look of ' I told you so ' across her face. But before she could start, they looked back to see the giant hand of the enemy reaching the top of the summit.
Hurrying down, the boulder had created a stepping stone to safety. Within moments the mass of explosives blasted through, sending rock and Plutarkian bits everywhere, as the Martian survivors ran for shelter in the second group of rocks before them.
Finally Lt. Bear reached the top of the last ridge, where he could gaze freely upon the enemy below from the safety of the rock face. Though it seemed too easy as opposed to the trek towards the aircraft. From being shot twice in the left arm and once in the hip the thought of revenge seemed out of reach; his rage still burned brightly. Hearing the onslaught continued below him.
Grimacing, he gathered himself and crept down towards the aircraft. Each step was irritating his hip as he shifted his weight with every move. The platform seemed empty of guards when he landed firmly on the flat platform. Unsettled by this, he continued his quiet approach until he felt the heavy hands of apprehension. He turned sharply to meet the enemy face to face. He looked at the two Plutarkian guards that struggled with him until they felt secure that his hands were firmly cuffed behind him.
" Sonuvasucker! Shoulda smelt you from a mile away! " He cursed, while being dragged off to meet the Plutarkian admiral at the front of the plane.
" Oh, well isn't this delightful! The Lieutenant has decided to grace us with his presents, " the Admiral snickered. Seeing Bear being forced to approach him out of the corner of his eye.
" Grace nothing fish-face, I'm here to cream your fins, " he threatened. But at his brave words the guards from behind gave him a swift kick to the ribs, sending him off balance and to his knees.
" Now, now that's no way to treat a guest, " he said, sarcastically shunning the guards. " Now untie this mouse, if you please gentlemen, " he ordered. Throwing a machete to the floor before the Lieutenant. The guards passed a confused look between each other before following the admiral's orders.
Feeling the metal cuffs released their teeth on his wrists, Bear slowly got to his feet. Taking the machete in his good hand, he staggered towards the Plutarkian admiral. " Big mistake, " he thought. Seeing the bodies of his comrades littering the floor around him. " How you can sleep at night!? "
The admiral grinned. Taking a moment to wipe the drool from his mouth, as he eyed Bear's grey coat that gave a luxurious shine with the mouse's perspiration. He placed his hands in his suede-like, cyan suit pockets. " In exquisite furnishing of Martian rugs, my good mouse, " he replied in a sinister tone.
Infuriated, Bear yelled back in a final cry of rage. Putting his head down and charging. Raising the knife above his head as he lunged forward.
The admiral merely looked to his armed guard on his right and within moments, Lt. Bear was shot in the back of the head. Falling to the ground with a thud, where his body stiffened before going limp with death.
After seconds of silence, the admiral dusted himself off, straightened his tie, and turned back to his ship.
" What should we do with him sir? " said a questioning voice from a soldier. The admiral stopped and slowly turned around. " Take him in the back, " he ordered. " He will make a splendid addition to my living quarters. " He chuckled to himself then entered his ship.
After a joyous regrouping of the troops, the mice continued their trek where they came across Scythe and Hazel, who were leading the troops against a raging battle.
While the motorcyclists took the in-your-face approach, the foot troops remained in the rocks and ledges of the ridge.
" Have you seen Bear? " cried Neesha to Carbine on the ledge beside her own.
" I thought he was with you? " Carbine yelled back.
An incoming missile soon came whizzing by Neesha. Nicking the rock ledge just above her, she jumped clear and rolled next to Carbine. Shaking herself off, she re-positioned her targets.
" Yah he was, but he just... Got up and left, " she said dazed. As if reliving the moment in her mind.
" That's it? He just got up and left? He didn't say where he was going? "
Hazel shook her head. " No, weird huh? "
" Yeah it is... " Carbine agreed. " Wish Throttle respected my space, " she thought. Looking over at the young girl, she could see that she was worried. " But where ever he is, I'm sure he's fine. "
" Yah... " Neesha replied in an unconvincing tone.
" Come to think of it, I haven't seen the Major or Arsenal either. Have you? "
" No actually, can't say as I have. "
" Well then where the hell is everybody? "
" Who knows, " Neesha muttered, as the two mice focus their attention to the battle before them. Leaving each other in their own thoughts of wonder.

" Okay bros I'm open for suggestions, " Stoker called. Continuing on route towards the cliffs ahead, with their pursuers following close behind.
" We can have them follow us into the cliffs. Their vehicles would never get through the steeps of the cliffs, " Scythe suggested.
" Providing the fact we get there in time, " Throttle added. Feeling the heat of their pursuers fire close on his fur.
" So what so you suggest? " questioned Stoker.
" On the count of the three, fork! Ready... THREE! "
Instantly the three broke. Stoker went left, Throttle right, leaving Scythe to the brunt of the bullets. (Him having the most light weight and thus more manoeuvrable bike of the three.) Until Stoker and Throttle circled around behind the enemy and took them out.
" Hahaha, wha'da I tell you! " Stoker roared with delight, when they regrouped in the sandy area of the cliffs.
" This pup's got enough brains then the both of us combined, " he continued. Playfully ruffling Throttle's hair for his genius.
Scythe smiled briefly before smelling a thick, nauseating odour around them. " Do you smell that? " he asked.
The two mice quit their play just as they too smelt the pungent odour.
" Oh man, what is that? " Throttle grimaced. Waffling the smell away from his nose.
Stoker looked up to see the hoards of pests swarming around the area just beyond them.
" THAT is the smell of death pup, " he concluded. Walking off to investigate.
There were two bodies. One was that of a large Sand Raider who lay face up, just off-centre in the area. Grimacing, Stoker looked down at him. Seeing the huge gaping hole in his stomach, that acted like a window to the blood-soaked ground below. Noting the spinal remains protruding from the top and bottom of the walls that fractured upon impacted. And the second was that of the unmistakable General Arsenal. Though in his case he had been bizarrely burned to death.
The three gathered around him. Taking their helmets off in respect, they looked into the partiality melted synthetic eye. An eerie shiver shot up their spine's as they gazed upon Arsenal's remaining metal skeletal.
" What the hell happened here? " Stoker muttered in disgust. Watching the maggots slowly emerge from the walls of exposed flesh, to ravish in their gorge feast.
" Could they have shot each other sir? " said Scythe.
" Unlikely, not one has a gun on them, " observed Throttle. " Besides he's been burned. "
" So where's the third party then? " asked Stoker.
The three took a moment to scour the premises for any other bodies. When a light reflecting from off of a single silver bullet case caught their attention, a meter away from Arsenal's chard foot.
" A Martian rifle shell? " observed Throttle. Rather startled he picked it up.
" Arsenal couldn't have fired it. He's... Well look at him, " said Scythe.
" Then who did? " questioned Stoker. Spying another reflecting object in the rocks. Closer he saw a familiar necklace carrying a small polished stone.
" Well who ever it was they've high-tailed it outta here, " Throttle concluded. Anxious to get back to Carbine.
" Good point. You two get back to the gang. I'll join you in a moment, " Stoker replied.
The two agreed. Leaving Stoker to do whatever he going to do while they returned back to their bikes.
" I never knew that the Chief was so close with the General? " commented Scythe.
" We're all family in this, " replied Throttle, as they motored off the join the battle.
Meanwhile, the Plutarkian troops were panicked. Making a suicidal dash into the area. Martians rushed in from the flanks and viciously assaulted them. Several of the fish that threw down their arms in surrender were slaughtered. Others tried to make a fight for it from behind a small group of hills, but their pursuers cut them down to one where they beheaded him with a single blow of a machete. The dust of Mars had become their shroud, the dry sand their sepulchre.

Hazel was the first to spot Fey. While reloading, she did not see the Sand Raider creeping up behind her until Fey attacked from out of the billows of dust. Pouncing and consuming until the Raider was nothing but then another corps.
Hazel stood there with a look of shock that Fey was suddenly there. When Fey finally got up and return to Hazel's view, she quickly changed tone. " Thank the Light! Where have you been? "
Fey studied her for a moment. Saying nothing she turned to join ranks at the front.
" Major Fey! " called Neesha. In a running descent down the slope to meet her. " Where're ya been? " There was a long pause before Fey could open her mouth before Neesha stopped her. " Where's Bear? "
" Bear??? " Fey replied puzzled. Recalling if Bear had been with her. " No. I don't know where he is. Weren't he with you? "
Neesha gave a heavy sigh. Her stomach began to knot with a fear for the worst, and turned away.

Hours passed. The mice had managed to get the enemy well on their retreat. Fleeing from the compound and far beyond the Garrison, as an aerial attack came from above. Martian Death Chargers rained their missiles down into the flanks of the enemy. There was a brief silence across the area as they watch the retreat, than a universal cheer of victory broke out. The Martian fliers soaring high over the applauding masses that littered the ground in a sea of hands before disappearing into the paling sun.
Stoker, Scythe, Modo, Hazel and Vinnie stood at the edge of the ridge over looking the compound below. Thousands of fighters like themselves raised their weapons up high in a salute to their fallen comrades, as well as cheering and shouting at their victorious battle. Throttle and Carbine soon joined. Making their way through the cheering crowds to join the officers ahead. Carbine turned to grin at Neesha, but the female was too concerned about Bear's whereabouts to participate in the celebration. In dismay, she turned back and reverenced at Fey, who knelt on the rocks above them. Carbine marvelled at the defiance she had displayed throughout this war. The way her fiery hair twisted and unravelled as it blew in the wind. To her, Major-General Fey was the epitome of the indomitable Martian people. Embodying Mars and its people's unyielding will against oppression. A woman who was to help lead them to their freedom. A female who she idolised.

" What is there to celebrate? " a voice said to Fey, as she watching the troops below and around her; dance around each other like school children. " Another day of living in this cesspool of dead memories? Living one more day so that you can die the next? This is just a way of prolonging the inevitable... Death. "
Trying to block the morbid thought, she neglected to hear Stoker calling to her from below. Slowly turning to acknowledge him, an object in the distance caught her attention. It was huge black dot, placed gather oddly on top of the distance peek of the summit. Her attention was averted when Stoker's voice got louder.
" MAJOR! " He yelled again, frustrated at her lack of response.
Her eyes quickly dropped to his. " Yes? "
He was surprised that Fey acted like she really hadn't heard his last three times of repetition. He looked at her bare neck where the necklace he found was once there. " ...Everything all right? "
" Yah... fine, " she answered. Returning back to the strange object on the far western ridge.
Stoker noticed her curiosity and also looked in the direction of her gaze. " What is it? "
She jumped down. " I don't know. But I've never seen it before. "
He studied the distant ridge and found he was too far away to seeing anything. He looked through his binoculars in his side pocket but they had been damaged during the fight. Stoker muttered a cursed and threw the now useless item to the side. A sudden approaching Death Charger was heard descending from behind, distracting them all.
When the dust settled a Martian pilot jumped out from the cockpit and said something to Scythe. When they had finished, the pilot returned back to the plane while Scythe jogged up to Stoker. " Their gonna start taking supplies
in, " he informed.
" Good. Is he ready now or does he have to go back? "
" Nope, gotta go back. "
Stoker looked behind him at his exhausted foot soldiers. Taking pity on them at the walk they had to endure on the way back to the compound. " Take some of these pups back with you. Get' em showered and rested. They've done good today. "
Scythe nodded in agreement then left to go tell the pilot of the plan.
After a few moments of argument at the fact that fuel was scarce, the plane was loaded up with as many foot soldiers as it could before Scythe approached Stoker again. " Will you be joining us Chief? "
Stoker spied Fey out of the corner of his eye. She watched as the troops packed into the plane, then began to walk off. " No I'm gonna stick around here and get the rest of the troops on their way. " Thinking now was the time to approach Fey with questions into Arsenal's strange death.
" Right'o chief. See ya later then. "
" Yah... See ya. " His words trailing but Scythe was already well on his way to the plane.
There were little words passed on the trip to the object that Fey had spied earlier. Stoker was trailing Fey by a few meters. Desperate to find the words to gently ask Fey about Arsenal. Their friendship had been carried since early high school. He had remembered her as the quiet, shy type. Did she really have it in her? Did she hate Arsenal that much?
Throttle came from behind him and started saying something, but his words didn't sink into the Marshal's thoughts.
" Chief!? " Came Throttle's voice.
" Hang on Throd, gimme a sec. " he replied, gearing up to Fey.
Beyond them, were the scattered corpses of Mice, Plutarkians, and Raiders alike. Their bodies littering the ground like bundles of bloody laundry, as they rode by.
" Fey! You know that Arsenal's dead don't you? " asked Stoker. Seeing the only approach could only be up front. He was her superior after all, despite his feelings.
She said nothing. Her eyes never leaving the summit where the object disappeared behind the boulders before it.
" Stay here, " she commanded. Stopping the bike, she held her arm back to stop him, then proceeded up cliff to the summit. From behind, the party had stopped.
" Haze? " said Neesha. " You didn't happen to see Bear back there...Did you? "
Hazel dropped her eyes to Neesha after watching Fey start to climb the cliff. " No Neesha, I haven't. " Her attitude seemed distracted. She returned to her gaze.
Neesha closed her eyes to fight the tears of fear and worry. " Calm down Neesh ol' girl, Bear's been through too much to go now. "

In a few minutes Fey reached the top and there mounted on a stake was the lieutenant.
His naked body had been completely excoriated of its fur, leaving his fleshly interior exposed. Arms and legs had been removed and a reattached to their opposing regions, left to dangle at his sides from which blood dripped. Staining the earth in a lake of blood. His entrails floating nearby.
The stench was barely tolerable as Fey approached. She felt Throttle grasp on her arm, not permitting her to venture any close to the horrific scene. She shrugged him off. Drawn to the strange marks in his chest. Smearing the blood away the words ' Arcana ' jumped at her. In shocked she stumbled back, falling into the blood; engulfing her, staring dumb-founded at the word.
Throttle turned away from the horrific scene and stared in stunned fascination at the disaster below as pillars of fire rose and merged into a coil of smoke that unwound and reached upward like a serpent. All shattered by the sound of Fey heaving off the side of the summit. Fey too soon gazed in frustration at the compound engulfed in flame and smoke, the blazing roof disintegrated in a maelstrom of sparks, the defeat branded in her eyes.
Tasting the falling soot and the bitterness of calamity there in helpless rage, a hand was laid on her shoulder as she turned and stared into the heart-felt expression on Throttle's face.
A sudden blood-curling scream interrupted the moment when the body of Lt. Bear was exposed to Carbine.
" Oh god, Carbine! " said Throttle running to her side. Fey watched as Throttle pulled Carbine close, gently caressing her in such a tender way it stirred her very soul. The way their arms held each other in support. Their heads bowed in an exclusive partnership as Throttle whispered words of comfort into his shaken lover's ear.
The simoom rose and seemed to blow through Fey's empty heart. Bringing with it a feeling of regret from a past decision. " Throttle -- " she thought. Throttle's eyes looked straight up at her, as if overhearing her thoughts. But he only saw her eyes swelling in heartache.
" Their all gonna die, you know that. " Her eyes widened to the voice. " You've always known that. "
" NO! " she cried. Placing her hands to her temples, Fey twisted her body in hopes that she could expel the voice. Only to fall to her knees and stare at the ground, bewildered. Concentrating on the answer that she had continuously repeated to herself. " I'm fighting for -- Freedom... "
" Do you even know what it means to be free? You've never been free. "
" Shut up! "
" You don't care anymore. A leader that has turned her back on her people. "
Her eyes bulged. There in an instant, everything she had tried to hide from herself seemed to echo into the night; everything becoming still and silent. The piercing glares from others looked as if they heard her. She wanted to cry out in hopes of redemption but no words came from her mouth.
Throttle came to her and knelt down to embrace her. To him, all he saw was that the death of a very good friend had pushed her to the limit; what she needed was rest. But in fact, what Fey really needed was peace.
Vinnie approached, his nose filled with a most nauseating smell as he walked towards Stoker. " Who was it? " He asked. Standing silently beside him.
" Bear, " Stoker replied with astonishing calmness.
" ... I'm sorry. He was... He was a real fighter. "
There was a moment of pause while Stoker thought his final goodbyes. " He was my friend. " he said, then turned to see Fey, Carbine and Throttle on the summit above. As he neared, Throttle placed his hand on his shoulder in condolence for his loss. He nodded in thanks and continued his approach towards Fey. She stood remarkably poised he thought, for someone who had just seen the result of needless slaughter upon a dear friend.
" Fey, " he said quietly. For she had not uttered a word or shed an emotion towards the day's occurrence, and he feared of being alone in this. " Say something. "
Fey's silhouette body turned it's head at the sound of his voice, but only momentarily before she continued her solemn gaze into the fading horizon; remaining in her silence.
Stoker's nerves were shot. He couldn't stand her impenetrable silence, and he yelled in an ordering tone. " God damn you Fey, SAY SOMETHING! "
She turned to him. Her body in eclipse with the sun. Seeing it's light reflecting the deep sorrow in his eyes. The way his body slumped at the weight of his loss. She knew that he was in need of comfort. Knowing that they should be supporting one another in this time of tragedy, but she couldn't summon the emotions to do it. Her mind was too inundated with penitent thoughts, that she was beyond any way of soothing him. " I'm sorry, " she thought. Reluctant to place a hand on his shoulder. She left the summit and headed towards her bike, leaving Stoker to stand baffled at her cold-heartedness.
" Bear was my friend too you know! You're not the only one here! " He cried. Watching in helpless rage as Fey continued on her way. " Fey? FEY! Don't you WALK away from me! " She began to climb down the cliff. Still no answer. " That's an ORDER Major! " Her silence gave him her answer. Leaving him with only his thoughts and the wind. " Fey, " he whimpered. " You can't run. "
Back inside the Martian Stealth base.
The room was dark when Fey entered. Though reluctant to be alone with her thoughts, she felt it was best then to be around the others at this time. The room echoed her footsteps as well as her thoughts. Turning on the light, she slowly pulled her shoulders back. Letting her jacket fall to her elbows before taking each arm out of the sleeves. Leaving the jacket to hang on the chair, Fey walked over to her bed and slumped onto the mattress with a heavy thud. Unmoving, pungent smells filled her nose with gunpowder and sweat. Grimacing, she sat up and moved to the exit. Turning down the corridor and into the female bathroom.
The fairly clean, warm water felt good against her dry and brittle fur. Using a soap like substance, Fey proceed to rinse the dirt away, as it ran down into the drain and gathered the water to recycled it for the next filthy individual.
Strangely enough she hadn't felt like herself all day. Her only explanation was that it had been an extremely emotion day. She had seen friends and associates die before, yet this was different. But why? She had thought about Bear dying before but now that it had happened she realised that in no way did it prepare her. " Could it have been my fault? " she thought. " That in some way I was responsible for Bear's death? "
" Why not? You were before, " came the voice.
" What!? You again! "
" Your filth cannot be cleaned. Your soul is soaked in guilt. "
Panicked she scrubbed hard against her arm. Building up a great lather that masked her arm in white foam. Placing her arm under the water, the foam rinsed away but the envisioned dirt did not come off.
" NO! " she stammered. Shocked at the dirt's resistance to the pressure of her scrub. The room seemed to flash a strange white light momentarily before returning back to normal. Caught off guard Fey grasped for the support of the tile walls. Looking to her arm, blood was seen smeared all over. Weird fluid flames caught her eye, as she looked up to see liquid fire raining down on her from the showerhead over her. Her heart pounded erratically as she stumbled back in fear and shock.
" Are you alright Major? " asked a female soldier from behind.
To the woman, Fey appeared surprise to see her. Being somewhat troubled to see her Major General on the floor of the bathroom screaming in fear.
Fey turned to see the shower room had returned to normal. " Yes, yes I'm fine, " she replied unsure. " What the heck's happening to me? " Fey thought to herself. Hurrying for a towel and her clothes; leaving the shower on.

Within minutes, the conference room was dark and empty when the large doors shut behind Fey. The room was silent. Their eerie stillness spoke of memories trapped within the furniture. Remembering the meetings that were held at the long rectangular table positioned at the front of the room. The seats looked barren. Empty from where ranking officers of past and present once sat. To the left to the table was a huge overhead computer screen, that hung still and mute.
She could still hear the conversations echoing throughout the walls of the room, as she passed by the chairs towards the large window on the other side.
Fey poised herself in front of the window. Surveying the vast arid landscape beyond the glass, as Deimos rose into full view and created an elliptic shadow onto her body.
In her quiet reflections, she tried to envision the lush greenery that once covered this red wasteland. The crisp, cool liquid that flowed like blood through the veins of her terrestrial planet. Nourishing the rich plant-life that once blanketed the ground. No visualisation came to her. All she could see was the harsh reality of a world stained in crimson. A world bleeding to death. A dead, mass of rock that was now left to spin for eternity around the orbit of the sun. A remnant. A memory... like her.
" And how could we let this happen? " she continued in her thoughts. " How could we let a world so priceless in its importance and beauty, be thrown from its delicate balance. Becoming a world full of mass devastation and loss. For this... I am truly sorry. "
Gazing round the empty seats of the conference room, she reached up to touch the warm, salty tear that found it's way down her cheek. Believing that her attempts to rid their planet from the invading, outer regions of space had failed miserably. Thinking that their actions were now for the mere survival. Knowing that her lack of faith had dampened her will to fight for the worldly cause. In this, she turned her head from the chairs of her people, and stared into the dull shades of the now risen moon. Seeing a scared warped shape that mirrored her deepest thoughts of despair in a shared desolate outlook.
In her slough of despond, Fey left for her quarters. Hoping that sleep would find a way to soothe her troubled mind.
Major General Fey's chambers.
Fey, asleep in her bed, awoke when a cold, eerie feeling of a dark presents swept over her with feverish force.
Her nose filled with the choking fumes of burning plastics. Smoke could be seen as heavy film, thickening the air of the room. Fear rushed over her, making her heart race as a terrifying scream shattered the silence.
In a few moments the smell subsided and the screaming stopped. When huge walls of incinerating fire rose from under the bed and trapped her there. The flames teased her. Creeping along the blankets of the bed towards her, licking at her fur with burning tongues. Her mind went blank with fear. Frozen with surprise. Instinctively she closed her eyes, not excepting.
Moments later Fey felt the coolness of the room return on her body. Inhaling, the air was fresh again. Bewildered she looked around the quiet room; nothing looked disturbed.
Fey rubbed her face while the calmness and relief returned to her body. Though the sense that something wasn't right still lingered, but was it her or was it the air?
In the shadows looming just beyond the foot of her bed, approached a woman strikingly similar to herself. The woman stood poised. A stream of blue light just catching the black, expressionless eyes looking down upon her.
" No your...dead??? " Fey winced. Startled when her words echoed around her. Watching her late twin approach her with a sinister grin upon her face. " What are you doing here? "
" Something you should have finished a long time ago, " was the reply.
" Huh? " The word still echoed. There was no reply. When without warning the woman leaped at her throat. The screaming came again. Fey felt the pressure of vengeful hands stopping the air to her lungs, as the mouse squeezed harder. Fey tried to struggle but the force of determination was too great to withstand. Her perception went into a haze of muddled shapes, as her surrounding became a jumbled multitude of grey shades.
Before the point of a blackout, the female's grip let go. Moving back a few paces as Fey dropped to the ground, gasping for air. Searching for support, Fey grasped the cold stone of a marble, cheval-glass mirror setting.
" Set me free sister, " she lulled.
Instantly Fey's world around her collapsed. Her visual perception symbolised by the mirror shattered and fell with her in a shower of thousands of tiny piece, down into the abyss below.
While falling, Fey reached out to hold on to the light in a despite attempt for stability, but the shear weight of her Slough of Despond pulled her down into the fathoms below. Her screams were heard briefly, until being absorbed by the living darkness that seemed to breathe on the walls around her.
Before getting a chance to even begin to grasp what had just happened, her body meet with the hard ground in a harsh thump. Her face grimaced in pain as she lay there for a moment, waiting for the pain to subside.
" What the in the world??? " Looking around, her surrounding were identical to that of the Martian landscape she had just left. With it's steep arid slopes, vast rocky deserts, and terrestrial winds.
Taking a step forward, Fey observed Mars' smallest moon rising in the night sky. Noticing that it was moving usually fast, a slight fear began to build in her chest. Turning away, she was startled when her eyes meet with the second moon entering the smaller one's orbit. Moving towards it at the same alarming rate. The fear mounted as Fey gazed at the two giants, awaiting their moment impact. A small blinking light disrupted her anticipation when a mass of shadowy figures swarmed towards her in a sea of military green. Each cloaked individual representing a suppressed emotion, a regret, or an undealt with trouble that Fey had bottled up for so many years.
She tried to scream but no noise would sound from her throat. Heart beating violently, blood rushed her head as her body became racked with a sickly fear. Turning to run, the masses pounced. Consuming her. Pushing her towards the summit of a nearby cliff. Fey could feel the shadows bombard her mind. Disappearing as they became one with her thoughts and body.
She couldn't fight them off. With all the torment she had experienced, Fey had neglected to stay on guard and before realising that her defence had been suddenly blown apart it was too late. Her painful memories flowed and filled every corner of her mind.
Opening her eyes, Fey found herself mounted to a solid wooden cross -- the cross of denial. Binding her in the ropes of realisation, that tore into her flesh with every flinch she made to flee. Her mind succumb to the vortex of memories from her childhood to only a few hours ago. Her suppressed regrets grew in upheaval. Her fur cracked with every heated breath taken from her tainted flesh. Fey looked to the sky for salvation but none came. In response came a fierce sandstorm. Massive black clouds rushed in from every direction. The raging wind brought sand that struck her body. Chipping her cracked fur away from her body, and leaving her naked and vulnerable.
Weaken by defeat, Fey looked for mercy to the last shadowy figure approaching. The figure removed the hood, revealing its true colours and allowing Fey to come face to face with her self; REALITY.
Fey's mouth quivered ' no, ' in a barely heard plea towards the figure. The woman's withered and morbid appearance displayed the years of torture that Fey had inflicted. Banished with rest of her thoughts, into the abyssal darkness within the fathoms of her mind. The woman glared back without expression. Yet her eyes shown with the purest white light Fey had every seen. The woman leaned in. " Guilty. "

" AH!!! " Fey exclaimed. Painting heavily when she awoke to find herself back inside the room. She turned to check herself. Her fur was sopping with sweat but still in tact. She sat up. Resting her elbows on her knees trying to comprehend the intense dream. She reached up and ran her fingers through her mane of thick greasy hair. But what's this? Her wrist felt odd as it brushed against her cheek, filling her nose with the all-familiar smells of blood. Looking down Fey saw the red lustre of blood seep out from age-old reminders of suicide, as it ran down her forearm, staining the grey bed sheets. She panicked. Applying pressure to both cuts in order to stop the bleeding, the blood merely streamed through her fingers making more of a mess. She racked her mind for an answer, as she grabbed her jacket and ran down the hall towards the washroom.

Meanwhile Carbine couldn't sleep either. Throttle had not yet returned from his supposed meeting with Stoker, and the shadows of the room unnerved her in remembrance of the ghastly sight of Bear's battered body. Every time she closed her eyes the Lieutenant would still be there. Silent, bloody and very, very dead. She attempt to try again. Closing her eyes the mangled body appeared in its scarecrow like position, making her ill with the very thought.
" This isn't working, " she muttered. Pulling back the bed sheets and getting dressed. Deciding that the best way was to go get some air.
The halls were quiet when Carbine left the room. Everyone being so exhausted that they had retired to their chambers early to achieve much needed sleep. As she walked, she neared the quarters of Major-General Fey. Still remembering the defiance she displayed and the longing to have her power of recognition. Upon arrival, she noticed the doors to Fey's room were open. Curious she peered inside, seeing it had been deserted.
" Odd? " she thought. Checking back down the halls in case the General was returning, but no one was there. " The General wouldn't just abandon her quarters like this, she's too private, " her instincts told her. " Something's not right here. " She examined the room from the safety of the door, but she couldn't see any sign of a struggled until a strange colouring on the bed caught her attention. She approached it with caution. Coming closer she saw dark crimson staining a large chunk of the bed that continued to bleed onto the floor in the trail leading out the door and into the hall.
Immediately her mind filled with horrible thoughts of what could have happened. Knowing that the only way to find out what actually took place would be to follow the bloody trail. Carbine sprinted down the hall, following the path of splattered blood. Rounding the corner the trail ended at the door to the washroom. Placing an ear to the door, she listened for signs of life. She heard a soft muffled sound of someone weeping.
Taking a deep breath Carbine readied herself for whatever lay beyond the door. Pushing it open, she searched for the supposed body.
At first glance she saw very little. A few splotches of blood here and there. Mainly concentrated around the sink and mirror areas but nothing extreme. Turning towards the six stalls, Carbine noticed small brown feet peering out from under the furthest stall from the ceiling light. The sound of gentle weeping came again.
" Hello? " She called. The sound immediately stopped. " General Fey ma'am? " Listening carefully, she could here Fey panic in being caught. She reached forwards and carefully pressed the lever of the door. It was locked from inside. She played with the handle but it was no use. " Get help! " her mind ordered. And without a pause Carbine ran out the bathroom and hurried to find Throttle in the Officer's lounge.
Within the Officer's Lounge.
" Hahaha, did you see the way those cheesy tuna's high-tailed it when we showed up? " Vinnie chuckled. " Now THAT was classic. "
The group had perked right up after a few hours of drinks and cigars. Surrounding themselves in the company of other males, Throttle, Modo, Vinnie, Stoker, Duke and Scythe played a poker-type game in the secluded back room of the Officer's Lounge. Throttle watched in fascination as Stoker laughed with them at the expense of the Plutarkians. Hiding the pain of his bitter loss. Things started to get a little out of hand when Brigadier Duke decided to entertain the table with a more modified impersonation of the Plutarkain greeting. Throttle couldn't help but join in the hysterics as the massive, black mouse shook his stuff.
" Careful, you'll put a hole in the -- " started Stoker, when the sudden loud noise startled him as Carbine burst into the room.
" Sorry to interrupt but -- " She paused at the display of male nudity. " I think you should really start to rethink these officer meetings Throttle. " she said. Glaring at Duke as he blushed. Pulling himself together and sat back in his chair.
" Carbine! " Throttle said, whispering his displeasure at her interruption.
" Carbine darlin', have you meet Brigadier Duke? " asked Stoker, beaming with drunkenness.
Duke cleared his voice in an embarrassed discomfort. " How can we help you miss? "
" I think you just did, " remarked Vinnie to Modo. Shot down by Carbine's icy glare.
" I think the Major's in trouble! She's bleeding severely. It's everywhere! In both the bathroom and her quarters, " she sputtered.
" What!? " replied the table in unison.
" I was walking passed her quarters when I noticed the doors was open. There was blood on the bed that trailed to the washroom. When I got there, Fey was huddled on the stall floor. There's blood everywhere! I tried to get in but she locked it from inside. You've got to come quick! " Explaining as Stoker steadied himself on his feet and then hurried out the door for the women's washroom. Seconds after, the rest of the table followed suit.

Stoker and Throttle were well ahead of the rest, as the party marched towards the washroom. Both knowing that Fey had attempted to commit suicide before. (Though for reasons unknown to them.) And fearing that that was the situation in this case, Stoker accelerated his pace. Rounding the corner and arriving at the destination, Stoker pushed the door in with such force it banged against the wall as they entered.
" FEY! " he called. Checking all the stalls before kicking in the last one in with ease now that it was open. Empty. His eye's immediately noticed the drawn word ' arcana ' scribed in blood as it ran down the wall.
" Damn, " he muttered. Turning to the others as they came in. " She's not here, " he said to them. " She knew we were coming so she fled. Humph, typical. "
" Where do we start looking? " Throttle asked in concern.
" Check the base. See if she's hiding somewhere else. "
" And you? " he asked again.
"... I don't know. Knowing her, she could be anywhere. " Before leaving, Stoker turned to them again. " The General may be highly suicidal so approach her with the greatest caution... And would somebody please get this cleaned up, we don't need the whole base involved. "
Carbine looked to the stall where Fey used to be, noticing the word ' arcana ' on the wall. " Arcana? What's that got to do with anything? "
Throttle looked to what she was inquiring about, seeing the word scribbled in blood. He thought for a moment before he replied, " I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. "
" Well you know her more than I do! " she snapped, seeing how he wasn't being much help. After all, he did go out with her for a period of time. " Why would she write it on the wall? "
Throttle again fell silent. " Okay bros. you heard the Chief. Let's spread out and find her, " he said. Directing Vinnie and Modo as they exited the washroom.
" Great! Vincent, you and Modo take the basement while I take the third floor and Throttle. You take the first one." Carbine jumped in.
" Giving orders huh? Am I that unbearable? " Asked Throttle in surprise. Carbine raised an eyebrow. He smiled.
" Sounds good babe, let's do it! "
Separating to their levels Throttle spied Stoker hurrying to the bike deck, and ran to catch up. " Hey Stoke, maybe you should sit this one out. " Throttle said, putting a hand on his shoulder to prevent him from going. Seeing that his friend was in no condition to ride a bike, with the amount of alcohol and the emotional trauma he had endured in the last few hours.
The mouse shrugged him off. " Push off Throttle, I've got to find her, " he said aggressively. Mounting his bike.
Throttle, knowing better than to aggravate a huge mouse such as Stoker. Especially when they had consumed so much alcohol and were on the verge on snapping. Still, he couldn't allow him to jeopardise himself. " Stoker your no good to her like this. I'll find her for you I promise. "
The mouse was hesitant before turning off his motorcycle. " I can't lose her, " he said. His eyes full of worry. One of the first times Throttle had ever seen Stoker's true emotions for Fey.
" I promise, " he reassured.
The pit of Everlasting Doom.
Lying on the tip of the projecting ledge over looking the large pit below, Fey stared into its abyssal darkness in a deep trace of severe abandonment and complete disregard to her surrounding. She lay limp. Her hand dangling over the nothingness that seem to flow from out the pit and suck her in. Her body had gone numb minutes ago with the loss of blood. All she could do was watch her arm swing from side to side, looking almost angelic, as the red cloth tied around her wrists flowed in the wind. Too weak to make it back to base by herself she laid gazing into oblivion.
" Best you die here, " came the voice. Although it came from her mind, it seemed to speak from the darkness of the pit.
" Who... are... you? " she thought back to it. To weak to speak, she still recognised it from earlier on in the day.
" Blood. "
" No, no not again. Please! Haven't you done enough!? " She cried to it. " Why won't you leave me alone? "
" Leave you be!? Why!? Do you think you deserve it!? After what you did! "
" But it was -- It wasn't -- " she sobbed. " Want is it that you want? "
It laughed. " Yooou. "
Fey sobbed louder until breaking into a gut-wrenching cry. " NOOO!!! "
" It's over Fey. You've lost. "
The tears welding up from her eyes, to the shared hopelessness felt.
An approaching voice soon was heard in the distance. " FEY!!! " Throttle shouted, running up to where she was lying. Not knowing whether she was dead or not, he slowed his approach towards her seeming lifeless body.
" Fey? " he whispered. Kneeling down and cautiously touching her arm. Watching with relief as she made a fist amongst the red cloth that covered her wrists. He turned her rag-doll body up right to face him.
" Am I dead? " Fey thought. Her eyes still locked in an entrancing darkness.
" Fey, can you here me? " Throttle called. Holding her chin in his hand, as he spoke into her distant eyes. Startled when he saw there were no pupils just blackness encased in the sockets of her eyes.
" Yes, but... Where? I can't see! Oh God, I can't see you! " She sputtered. Her mouth quivering, as she clumsily waved her hand outwards. She could feel Throttle's face and vest but not actually seeing him.
" What's happening? Where are you? " She cried out in panic.
" Shhh, it's alright, its alright, it's me. I'm here, " he whispered. Soothing her panicked breath.
" Throttle? Am I going crazy? "
" I don't know babe, " he said, scanning the cliffs for anything that could threaten them. Still unsure he looked back to her. " But I do know we need to get you, " he spoke, as he carried her to his bike and placed her on the back seat. " To a doctor. "
Medical room at Stealth base.
" Just what the hell do ya think you were trying to pull? " roared Stoker to Fey, who sat up on the examining table, with white bandages covering her eyes and wrists.
" None of your business! " she hissed.
" The hell it isn't. I can't have my officers go wondering about without notice! "
Fey said nothing.
Hazel stood there, watching Fey carefully. There was something unsettling about this turn of events. Fey still sat there silence and unmoving. Hazel motioned the party out. Fey could here their footsteps dim as they left, leaving her and Hazel alone in the room.
The table wobbled while Hazel got up and sat beside her. She let out a deep sign before speaking. " What's going on Fey? "
" Nothing... Nothings go'en on, " she said quietly.
" You've known me all your life. You can confide in me Fey. "
There was a pause of silence. " Can I? " Fey replied, this time her voice was lower.
The tone of her voice startled Hazel. She asked gingerly, " what's is the problem? " Eyeing Fey, who was still hesitant to reply. " You can tell me, Fey. " she gave a weak laugh. " I know you more then you know yourself. "
" And what does that supposed to mean? " she asked sharply. Her voice still deep.
Hazel paused, her answer catching off guard. " Nothing just that we've been friends for a long time. "
" You know nothing of me, " Fey's mind thought.
" You'd be surprised, " Hazel answered to herself. Hearing her thought.
There was silence.
Fey suddenly let out a loud cried of distress. " Stop it! Oh God make her stop! " She wept.
" Make who stop? " Hazel said unsure. Hearing that Fey's voice had return to its familiar pitch.
" Oh God what are ye -- " Fey started, until Hazel interrupted.
" Who are you talking to? "
There was silence.
" Fey??? " Hazel started.
" I know what you've done. " she growled. Her voice returning to the unknown tone.
Hazel jumped down from the table, backing up slowly towards the door. " Fey??? H -- "
" Dytra remembers. "
Hazel didn't answer. At that moment she found herself starting to panic.
" We know you were there. "
Hazel continued to step backwards until her body bumped into the door. She could see Fey grinning evilly as she fumbled for the door's handle.
" You can't stop it, this one is ours! "
Outside Stoker paced while the rest sat down awaiting her return. They all were silent. Each was thinking about the past two day's occurrences, when Hazel came out and quickly slammed the door behind her.
" So, what's going on? " asked Stoker.
Hazel took a moment to catch her breath and steady her pounding heart. " Fey, just needs her rest that's all, " she reassured, placing her hands on the mouse's shoulders to calm him. " And I suggest that you all do the same, " she said the others who had got up to begin the firing of questions. Turning away and leaving for her quarters.
" Something weirdoes is goin' on, " said Throttle to Modo, behind them.
" Dytra, " Hazel thought. Travelling down the hall, as a bead of sweat found it's way down the side of her neck.
" This is one is ours. "
In the morning, a group of soldiers left to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades. Leading them was Throttle. The wagon carrying the dead created a trail of dust clouds across the plains, as the group of twelve walked along, stopping frequently to retrieve their dead.
To their far right, one could gaze grimly at the rubble of the once proud Freedom base. Repairs to rebuild had commenced immediately.
It was silent. Each mouse submerged in their private thoughts of sorrow and loss. Throttle scanned the Garrison ahead. Their sandy inclines looked still and quiet again, while sand blew gently from their peaks by a warm breeze. Sand that would cover the dead that they wouldn't be able to retrieve that day. Claiming the bodies in that area, and imprisoning them for eternity in a sandy entrapment. Hard to imagine that just a day ago they were a killing ground of horrific slaughter. For now they looked peaceful, that is until the next storm came.
A moving glint of red caught his attention. Squinting he made out Fey's figure stumbling along the rocky surface of the Garrisons, until she disappeared over a high ridge.
Curious, Throttle turned to a mouse behind him and ordered him to keep moving north. Assuring that he would catch up with them later, he sprinted to catch up with Fey. Within a few minutes of climbing over boulders and rock, Throttle spied her standing a little off to the right of the summit. Below was a free-fall, several stories down.
" Fey? " he called, approaching her with caution. " What are you doing? "
She turned to face him. Her eyes wide and puffy. " Don't come any closer! "
" Now come'on Fey? Get down babe and we'll discus it, " he urged. Moving closer to her.
" No! " she panicked. " She won't rest until I'm gone! I've lost! Oh God, i've lost!? "
" ARGH! " came another voice. This time one was real. Fey looked up startled, as Throttle spun around. There standing on a rock of a nearby ledge, stood a shaken Plutarkian with a gun pointing towards Fey. He watched in a paralysing horror as light generated from out of the gun and sped towards Fey, who only stood there like a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching car. The light struck her, penetrating her flesh. The assault sent her backward over the cliff. Landing with a crashing impact that destroyed her delicate features into an expression of abhorrent agony. Her back bowed as she was hurtled onto a group of rocks. There was a horrible sound like a dried branch snapping as her spine fractured in pieces.
Staring in shock, Throttle caught himself and whipped around, shooting the Plutarkian before running down towards Fey. Slowing down when he neared, Fey lay very still and limp on her back but still breathing.
He knelt in front of her and examined her wound.
There was little blood, just a neat hole that looked like nothing more than a slight stab wound from a small object. He could not see where the plunging bullet had expanded inside her body and torn through her intestines and a labyrinth of blood vessels, destroying the walls of her stomach; like a hot knife through butter. She was bleeding internally, so severely that no amount of medical treatment could help. Death was eminent.
Throttle knelt beside her and stared at her wound. " Aw man. "
She looked up at him. Her eyes hollow, not apprehending.
Throttle's heart felt as if it had fallen into chasm filled with ice. He instinctively wanted to cry in bitter grief, but no sound came from his throat, only a moan of sorrow that rose from deep inside him.
He shook his head heavily. " Sorry babe, but it isn't over. " Reaching over and clutching her arm. Fey brushed his hand away. " You're gonna be fine, " he said. Trying to reassure himself. Though unable to control the fabric of his heart as it tore in pieces. Fey only shook her head, tears streaming down her dirty face. " Come on, we have to get you some help, " he began. Watching as Fey slowly slip away into unconscious. " FEY!? Goddamn it stay with me! " He panicked, shaking her to stay awake.
She began to weep in pain; blood came up from her mouth and streamed down her throat onto her shirt as her chest began to collapse with the weight. " Why??? "
And with that her eyes fluttered and closed. Her body seemed to wilt like a lovely flower under a frigid blast of cold. Her face became serene like that of a sleeping child's.
" No! " he cried. His voice sounding like a wounded animal baying in the night. Life seemed to flow out of Throttle too. He no longer clung to consciousness. He no longer fought the black mist closing in around him. He released his hold on reality and embraced the darkness.
Brigadier Duke flew over the fractured Freedom base. He began decreasing his airspeed in preparation for setting down in a space cleared by one of Stoker's soldiers. The rotor's downwash raised huge billows of dust, obscuring Duke's view. He hovered and slowly worked the collective pitch and cyclic control in co-ordination with the throttle. Flying blind, he settled the chopper touching down with a hard bump. Drawing a deep breath, he signed as the rotors wound down.
The dust cloud had hardly dissipated when a lieutenant from the Freedom base, dusted from head to toe followed by lean brown mouse, ran up and opened the entry door. He leaned in the cargo compartment as Duke made his way out. " Lieutenant Gunner, " he introduced himself with a broad smile. " Glad to see ya Duke sir. "
" All in a day's work, Gunner, " said Duke. " Besides carrying supplies, we're looking for friends of ours. General Throttle and Major Phoenix. "
Gunner shrugged negatively. " I'm sorry. I last heard General Throttle was out with most of the mice rounding up the bodies. "
" Ya that's what I heard too. "
" Well if it's anything, they did come back? "
" Good cuz -- " Duke stared at something about a million kilometres away and seemed unaware of Scythe standing by the door. Then he pulled himself together and changed the subject. " Can we give you a hand unloading? "
" Any help would be greatly appreciated. "
With the assistance of one of Gunner's staff, boxes containing food, water and medical supplies were removed from the cargo compartment and piled into the hall of the main building. Anticipation stilled any words between Scythe and Duke as they were escorted to the communications centre.
There was an abundance of loud talking, almost squabbling behind the heavy steel doors of the communications room. When they entered, the room was filled with familiar faces. There was a simultaneous cheer as Scythe and Duke walked in. Looking around the room neither Throttle nor Fey were there.
" Where are they? " asked Scythe.
Duke's attention was turned to Stoker's stern face. " We've found them. "

Riding towards the two still figures, Stoker, Hazel, Modo, Vinnie and Carbine halted a few meters away and ran towards them.
Throttle was laying slumped over Fey. The side of his face was a mask of caked blood. The whole of his chest and sides were also stained dark crimson. The charred clothes, the bent glasses, the eyebrows and hair that had been singed, the burns on his face and arms, all gave him the image that he'd died hard.
Fey seemed as though she had died not knowing her sleep would be eternal. A waxen sheen on her lovely features, she reminded Stoker of an unburned candle; a sleeping beauty no kiss would ever awake.
Hazel said nothing. Watching Carbine collapse at Throttle' s side, refusing to believe that her love was dead gently shook Throttle's shoulder. " Forgive me child, I failed you. I failed us all. "
" Throttle! " Carbine whispered. Tears running down her face. He didn't respond. Pain of lost and hysterical grief surged through her as she grasped his face. " Oh god, SPEAK TO ME! "
Stoker tried to pull Carbine away. " He's gone, " he said in a saddened whisper.
Then with such unexpectedness that they were frozen in shock and disbelief, Throttle's eyes slowly opened. He stared up at them, not understanding, not recognising. His mouth quivered and then he murmured, " forgive me, I lost her. "
Welcome to the first part in the ternary. Welcome to Temperance.
( Continue into Chapter one: A Mote From the Past. )