Disclaimer: I do not own `Biker Mice from Mars' and I make no
profit from this story. It was written for pure enjoyment, in honour of
the show. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
Wherever I may roam is by Metallica from the Metallica Metallica album.
Praying For A Change is by Paradise Lost from the Draconian Times album.
For whom the bell tolls is by Metallica from the album Ride the Lightening.
Damage Inc. is by Metallica from the album Master of Puppets.
Note: The concept of the Galactic Alliance belongs to me as do the characters and situations created by me in this story. I don't mind you using the people created in this story as long as you ask first. You are however, welcome to draw any of them without asking `cos I can't draw for toffee.
This fic takes place in 1998.
It was late 1998. On the 27th floor of Limburger tower, a rather rotund
businessman sat alone in his office. This was no ordinary man however, in
fact he was not a man at all, for this was Lawrence Limburger, the Plutarkian
overlord of Chicago
Limburger tapped one of his four fingered hands on his desk, drumming an absent minded tune. He was thinking about his career again. It had been over five years since he had been first assigned to this planet and five years since the Biker Mice had crash landed. Ever since his career had been stalled. With the Biker Mice always there to foil his plans to exploit the Earth's natural resources he would never ascend to the ranks of the Plutarkian nobility. He sighed a long heavy sigh, every time he thought about his career he ended up descending into the gloomy depths of depression. He needed something to take his mind off the subject. He stopped tapping and slammed his hand down on the desk.
"You called your luscious lactativeness." Came the almost instantaneous reply.
One day I must find out how he gets to my office so fast, thought Limburger as Karbuncle waltzed into his office. Sighing to himself again he looked across at the thin and wiry chief scientist. "Karbuncle. I am in need of cheering up. Tell me, what devilishly devious delights have you been able to come up with for riding me of those bothersome Biker mice." Limburger asked scowling as he said the last three words.
The doctor opened his mouth to reply. He had almost completed a new invention and was looking forward to showing it off. However he was cut off by a burst of static from a monitor placed on the corner of Limburger's desk. The static cleared to reveal the High Chairman of the Plutarkian Empire.
Limburger looked at the monitor with both surprise and dread, this is just what I need, he thought to himself.
Camembert glared at Limburger fiercely. "LIMBURGER!"
"Err, yes your highness." Limburger answered, an anxious expression on his face.
"You! You have failed me for the last time Limburger. You're incompetent to the highest extreme." He was of course referring to Limburgers failure to supply Plutark with 40,000 litres of a popular brand of soft drink that Plutark needed for its version of napalm.
"Thanks to you, our war with the inhabitants of the forest World Rutilus has been delayed. Now the population of the entire Northern Hemisphere of Plutark will be dying of hypothermia this coming winter unless we can find another source of fuel for our heat generators."
Limburger cringed his best cringe, worthy of even a ferengi. Oh bother! I've really done it this time.
"But, your highness." Replied Limburger. "It wasn't my fault. It was those repulsive rodents again, they always spoil my plans... And as for my incompetent employees"
Camembert rolled his eyes. Every time something went wrong there was someone else to blame. No one seemed to take responsibility for their actions these days. Finally he decided he'd had enough of Limburger's petty wittering. "ENOUGH!" He bellowed.
Limburger fell silent.
"I have had enough of your pathetic excuses. These mice you always talk about have it far too easy." Camembert stroked his chin thoughtfully. "I'm sending you Colonel Barracuda and his elite commando force. They will take care of the mice. You will take care of Chicago. Once we have a reasonable foothold there we will at last be able to safely invade the Earth."
This made Limburger suddenly perk up. "Why, thank you high chairman, I'm confident that with those blasted mice gone I will be at last able to control the Windy City."
"You'd better Limburger, because if you can't, you will be the next name on Colonel `Cuda's hit list."
Limburger relaxed as the screen went blank. Perhaps today has been a good day after all, he thought. Camembert hadn't even insisted on the Plutarkian greeting which was always a good thing. With Colonel `Cuda arriving those thrice damned mice wouldn't stand a chance. Limburger longed to think of what he would do when he got his promotion, but first he needed to take care of business.
"Karbuncle. Tell Greasepit and his band of nitwits that they're fired. I no longer need their services now that I have competent help arriving. When you have done that, go prepare the transporter for Barracuda's arrival."
"But your cheesyness, you wanted to know of my latest invention."
"There's no need my dear demented doctor, no need at all. With the arrival of Colonel Cuda those mice are as good as dead. He is simply the best hit-man in the Plutarkian forces. His record is exemplary."
Karbuncle sighed as he slunk away to tell Greasepit the bad news, muttering to himself as he went.
It was noon and the Last Chance Garage was filled with the sounds of eating as the Biker Mice ate lunch with its proprietor, Charlene Davidson. The three mice sat around the small kitchen table. The three plates that had been piled high with hot dogs mere moments ago now lay almost empty.
Vinnie sat back in his chair, his hunger satisfied. "I wonder what old stinkface wanted with all that cola. burp!"
"I've no idea Vincent, but what matters is that we didn't let him have it" Throttle replied frowning at Vinnie's table manners in front of Charley.
Modo picked up the mustard bottle with his bionic hand to spice up one of the remaining hot dogs. However he squeezed a little too hard and a glob of mustard shot out at Throttle. Throttle ducked out of the way of the condiment projectile.
"Hey! Modo, watch where ya pointing the mustard Bro."
"Oops! Sorry Bro. I didn't mean to squirt ya."
Charley sensing an imminent food fight decided it would be a good time to let the guys in on a surprise she had prepared for them. "Throttle, what are you and the guys planning to do tonight?" she asked.
"Don't know Charley-girl, we'll decide later on." he replied. "Why d'ya ask?"
"Well you know Metallica are playing tonight."
"Yeah, but there were no tickets left Sweetheart." Moaned Vinnie gazing at the last hot dog. He was already quite full but the sight of it just laying there dripping with mustard was tempting. Unable to resist, he reached over and popped it into his mouth whole just as Charley reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out four tickets.
"Surprise! A friend of mine managed to get me some."
Three lower jaws dropped. Throttle and Modo looked at each other. "Yeah!" they cried in unison, high fiving Charley. Vinnie meanwhile started choking on his hotdog. Not noticing this in their excitement, Modo and Throttle got up from the table and proceeded to start singing `Where ever I may Roam' badly.
Charley covered her ears with her hands, if only they could sing better, she thought sighing to herself. Wondering why Vinnie hadn't joined in with the other two she looked across at him. He was starting to turn blue in the face clutching at his throat. Sighing again she gave him a hard thump on the back. The remains of the hotdog explosively exited his trachea with the force of the blow, allowing him to breathe once again. He gulped down a lung full of air in relief. The singing suddenly stopped in mid verse. Modo growled loudly staring at Vinnie, his fur was covered in the bits of hotdog Vinnie had just coughed up. Vinnie laughed nervously.
"Uhh Sorry Bro."
Modo's eye began to glow an angry shade of red.
"Oh Shit!" Vinnie murmured to himself.
Half an hour later Throttle and Modo were clearing up the kitchen while Charley stared at them angrily. Modo avoided her gaze ashamed, it being his fault for making the mess in the first place. After all Vinnie had been choking.
Vincent meanwhile, was upstairs in the bathroom mumbling to himself as he tried to extract the mustard from out of his left ear and the ketchup from his right. Modo's vengeance had been swift and effective. Fortunately for Vincent, Throttle had stepped in to calm Modo down before he could insert any more condiments into other orifices.
Over at Limburger Tower, Karbuncle stood adjusting the controls on the transporter. The machines operation was very delicate and it often played up in the hands of the unskilled. However the doctor had a knack with machines, either they worked for him or he hit them with something very hard. Thus his fingers flew across the buttons with the ease of a professional confident in the machines readiness to co-operate. Finally he finished programming the co-ordinates into the machine's computer. "The transporter is ready your Roquefort richness." He called over to Limburger.
Limburger nodded in acknowledgement. "Excellent doctor... Energise!" He replied a grin on his face. He loved saying that word.
The transporter hummed with power as bright white light flooded out of the chamber. Seconds later the light died down and a humanoid figure stepped out of the booth. The figure was above average height and had a slim build for a Plutarkian, but a Plutarkian he was. Four shiny gold gills on his chest proclaimed him to be a colonel of the Imperial Plutarkian armed forces.
Limburger stepped forward to greet the Colonel. "Welcome to Earth Colonel." He said, extending his hand. Cuda just looked at it as if it were something he'd rather not touch.
"Lawrence Limburger I presume." Replied the Colonel.
Limbuger nodded eagerly.
"I think we can dispense with the traditional greeting ceremony." Continued the Colonel. "You may transport the rest of my men over now."
"Of course Colonel." Replied Limburger, turning to Karbuncle to give him the order to continue the transport.
As Karbuncle began to power up the machine once again, Limburger turned back to the Colonel and put on his most ingratiating voice. "I must say it is a pleasure to meet you at last Colonel. I'm quite a fan of yours."
"Really." sneered Cuda sarcastically. "And there's me thinking you were just sucking up so that I'd put in a good report to Camembert for you. Well its not going to happen Limburger, to me you're just a worm ready to be devoured. Now bring me all your intelligence reports concerning the targets."
Limburger frowned, for once he was telling the truth about being a fan of the Colonel. There again sucking up to someone to get a good report was a good idea. At least it had worked for him before. Perhaps the colonel was right to be suspicious. Limburger turned towards the door and scurried off to fetch his reports.
Cuda smiled as he watched Limburger disappear around the corner. He was going to enjoy his next assignment after the Biker Mice. It would be satisfying to see that snivelling failure on his knees begging for mercy. Cuda shuddered, Limburger was almost enough to make him ashamed to be a Plutarkian.
"Ahem! Your men are all here, your efficient exterminatoriness." Said Karbunckle disturbing the Colonel's thoughts.
"Sir will do Doctor if you please." Replied Cuda looking at Karbunkle appraisingly. "Tell me Doctor, have you any special gadgets that might assist us in this mission." Asked Cuda holding up a laser pistol, with a small device attached to its barrel. The Doctor looked at in proud recognition.
"Ah, an automatic targeter, designed to never miss. I didn't know anyone was using that particular invention of mine."
"It's a fine piece of technology, very useful in the field" Cuda replied.
Karbuncle's mouth opened wide for a second in surprise. It had been a long time since anyone had complimented him in such a way. "Why, thank you for the complement Colonel, I believe my latest invention will be of use to you. May I suggest that you come down to my laboratory, where I can demonstrate it."
Cuda smiled. "Excellent Doctor, I'll be there as soon as I have seen Limburger's reports."
Karbuncle grinned, he was starting to like the Colonel.
It was six o clock, an hour and a half before the concert. Charley had put on a pair of black jeans, a T-shirt with the Metallica logo on the front and a leather jacket with the logo emblazoned on the back. The guys had arranged to pick her up at six-thirty. She looked outside, it was pitch black already. Good, she thought, I just hope the guys can find a dark corner at the gig where their Martian features won't be so evident.
Sure enough at six thirty the rumble of three high powered motorbikes could be heard pulling into the Last Chance. The mice had all changed into the black jeans and Metallica T-shirts she had bought for them.
"Ya ready ta go Charley-girl." Called Vinnie astride his bright red rocket sled.
Charley smiled mischievously and sidled up to Modo."You're looking good in that gear Modo." She said loud enough for Vinnie to hear.
"Hey, what about me sweetheart?" asked Vinnie striking one of his `I am the best' poses.
"Oh, you look ok Vincent." Charley replied off handedly
"WHAT! Just ok, JUST OK!" cried Vinnie distraught.
Charley laughed. As much as Vinnie enjoyed teasing her, she loved teasing him back. "Just teasing ya hunk don't get ya tail knotted. You look cool." She said as she climbed onto the back of the rocket sled, making Vinnie perk up, his ego restored.
Throttle smiled to himself. There weren't many people who could get Vinnie worked up like that. However it was time to depart.
"Well then, seein' as were all ready LETS ROCK..
"TO METALLICA" Came the reply. The three bikes roaring off into the night along with three off tune voices singing `Enter Sandman'.
Back at Limburger tower Cuda was briefing his men in Karbuncle's lab. Fifteen of Plutark's best commandos stood at attention, forming three perfectly straight lines of five. "Right men you know our objective and our targets. This mission is vital to Plutark and will be completed no matter the cost. Doctor Karbuncle, I believe you have an invention to show us."
"Yes Colonel." Replied the doctor. Karbuncle had come to like the Colonel remarkably fast, after all Cuda was much more appreciative of his inventions than Limburger ever was. "This is my latest invention." Karbuncle said holding up a kind of belt buckle with three buttons on it. "I call it, the personal shield. You attach it to your belt as you would an ordinary belt buckle. By pressing the red button a force field is activated which is able to deflect lasers or bullets. The blue button turns it off, once activated you will be protected for five minutes. After that the field will fail. It has a high power consumption so five minutes was the best I could do. The purple button is a self-destruct mechanism. Press this and the buckle will explode in ten seconds. I have made enough for each of you, I trust they will prove useful Sir."
"Oh yes, indeed they will doctor, you have surpassed yourself once again." Said Cuda grinning at his new toy. "Doctor I would like you to consider a transfer once this mission is over. You could prove to be very useful to me." Cuda walked closer to Karbuncle and spoke in hushed tones. "Between you and me doctor, I would not expect your employment with Limburger Enterprises to last very long after this mission. Limburger has become somewhat of an embarrassment to the High Chairman."
Karbuncle digested this piece of information. "I will consider your offer, sir."
Suddenly a console in the corner of the lab began to beep wildly. Karbuncle looked at it surprised. It was the early warning system. He rushed over to it, cursing. "Drat! A ship has entered the Earth's atmosphere. It's probably some friends of those infuriating fur-balls."
Cuda looked down at the console frowning. "I wonder why they didn't try to avoid our sensors. Our sensors are good but any experienced pilot could easily duck a small ship under them."
Karbuncle pressed a few of the controls on the console. "From its trajectory I would surmise that it is out of control. Perhaps one of our ships managed to intercept it. It would appear to be heading for the park."
Cuda rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "This is an unforeseen event." He murmured before turning to the rest of his men. "Very well men, our mission is as follows. We will go to this park and neutralise the occupants of the craft. We will then transport the craft back to the tower, we can't have the Earthers getting their hands on it can we."
"No Sir!" chorused the men.
Limburger sat in his office watching the monitor on the corner of his desk. The monitor showed Cuda's men leaving the lab positioned several floors beneath him. Limburger leaned forwards his head resting in his hands. He sighed to himself. So Camembert has ordered Cuda to take me out, he thought to himself. The day had started to take a turn for the worse. Limburger raised his head up and slammed his hands onto the desk determined. I must simply find a way to make Cuda slip up so that I can get the upper hand, he thought.
"TIME MARCHES ON!.DADA DA DA DADA DA DA ..FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS!" After murdering `Enter Sandman' and `Misery', the three off-key voices were now into the first chorus of `For Whom The Bell Tolls'. Charley was beginning to wonder if she could take anymore of the Bro.s terrible singing. At least at the concert she wouldn't be able to hear them. She was just about to join in with the second verse to at least keep them in time when a bright light lit up the sky. Charley noticed it straight away. It shot glowed bright orange and appeared to be getting bigger.
"Hey, guys! What the hell is that?" she shouted, pointing at the light.
Throttle slowed to a halt, the others following suit. "It looks like a ship in re-entry" Said Throttle watching as the light came closer. "and it looks to be coming this way."
"Its gonna crash!" Shouted Vinnie stating the obvious, as the ship streaked overhead.
"Let's check it out bros." Throttle sighed. "Let's rock.
"..And miss Metallica." Vinnie and Modo moaned. As the three bikes turned around and raced towards the park.
A few minutes later, the mice and Charley arrived at the city's park. The grass was marked by a large furrow scorched into the ground about five hundred yards long and disappearing behind a tangle of burnt out shrubs. Bits of debris were scattered around. The craft had obviously hit with a large amount of force.
"Jeez! What a mess!" Modo commented as they slowly rode through the debris.
"Looks like the scoreboard after you guys have been roughhousing." Laughed Charley.
"Yeah, well sweetheart, at least this time it didn't crash into the scoreboard, like what usually happens." Said Vinnie.
The furrow eventually led to a smallish ship that was surprisingly still mostly intact. It was about 20 metres long, 25 metres wide and about 15 metres high. The smallish central cockpit was connected to four aerofoils that formed an X shape. On the end of each aerofoil rested a powerful looking multidirectional engine.
The guys inspected the damage. Part of the lower aerofoil had been ripped off. The cockpit had been smashed in at the front. Various scorch marks marred the crafts sleek lines.
"No-one could have survived this." Modo said, shaking his head.
Throttle and Modo went to take a look at the front of the craft. Vinnie stayed near the back. He had no wish to see someone's squished remains plastered everywhere. If he did he would probably lose his dinner, a very unstudly thing to do.
Charley got off the back of Vinnie's bike and began inspecting the nearest wing. "I don't recognise the design." She commented.
"Well its sure not Plutarkian sweetie, it don't smell bad enough."
The debate about the ship's origin was cut short however as Throttle shouted over to them from the front of the ship. "Hey! Vin, Charley, we've found the pilot. He's Human and he's still alive."
Charley stood stunned. A human piloting such an advanced ship. "A Human. Are you sure!"
"Well he looks Human. He also looks injured." Said Modo. "We'd better get him back to the Last Chance."
It was just at that moment that fifteen heavily armed and well-protected Plutarkian commandos came charging into the bushes. Colonel Barracuda looked on as his men professionally assaulted the ship, smiling to himself. It was good to be back in the action.
Taken by surprise, Vinnie whipped out his laser and fired wildly at the soldiers bearing down on him but his shots had no effect on them. A sudden and sharp pain stabbed him in the shoulder, almost knocking him off his bike. He'd been hit. He spun the bike around. Grabbing charley around the waist with his tail, he deposited her on the back of the bike and tore off away from the commandos.
Throttle and Modo had already mounted their bikes. Modo had put the unconscious pilot on the back of his bike and lashed his tail round the unconscious stranger's waist to prevent him from falling off. With no way to win they took off after Vinnie to escape the commandos.
A young officer approached the Colonel and stood to attention. "Colonel Sir."
"Report lieutenant." Said Cuda, looking down at his second in command.
"The alien ship is secure and ready for transportation sir. Unfortunately we were unable to apprehend the pilot or the targets sir."
"No matter, we will get them another time. Have the ship transported back to base, I want Karbuncle to try and repair it before I send it back to Plutark. It will be worth much more if he can get it in working order" The Colonel smiled his sharp teeth reflecting the moonlight like little daggers.
Vinnie was feeling exhausted, his shoulder felt like it was on fire and his arm was beginning to feel numb. He was having to fight hard just to keep his eyes open. Looking in his rearview mirror he saw that no-one was following, he and Charley were safe for the time being. He decided to stop for a while and have a rest before he crashed into something, pulling the bike over to the side of the road. He levered out the bikes kickstand with his foot and tried to get off the bike, but his legs wouldn't co-operate. They gave way when he put his weight on them and he fell flat on his face by the kerb.
Charley looked down at him puzzled, she had never seen him fall of his bike quite like that before. "Vinnie, are you alright." She said worriedly.
Vinnie slowly rolled over onto his back unable to get up. "Uh, I think you better drive sweetheart, I'm not feeling too good."
Charley gasped at the sight. She hadn't noticed that Vinnie had been shot. Things had happened too quickly. She saw the gaping hole in his shoulder, burnt and bloody. All down his right side his usually pure white fur was now painted red with his own blood. Helping him up as best she could Charley struggled to get him onto the back of the bike. Getting on herself she powered down the road, heading for the Last Chance Garage at top speed.
Back at the garage Modo and Throttle had already arrived "I wonder where Vinnie and Charley are." asked Modo.
"Don't know Bro., but knowin' Vinnie he's probably got lost somewhere so he can spend a bit more time with Charley-girl." Replied Throttle. "Lets get this pilot into the house."
Modo nodded in agreement, carrying the stranger into the house and laying him on the couch. He was just under six feet tall of medium build. He sported a tidy goatee on his face and neatly cut sideburns. A mop of thick brown hair was combed into a side parting. The style gave him an air of importance, someone not to be messed with. The man's clothing also reflected this style. He wore a severely cut black flight suit, the front of his arms and legs were covered in metallic armour. A small insignia was printed on the left arm of the suit, an intricate circular pattern with the letters G A in stylised writing. The only other markings were two small golden bars pinned on his chest.
The familiar sound of Vinnie's bike pulled into the garage. "Guys! Guys! Help quick, Vinnie's hurt." Shouted Charley.
Modo and Throttle came charging out or the house and into the garage. By this time Vinnie was unconscious. Modo gently lifted him off of the bike and carried him into the house.
"We'll need something to wash the wound with and some bandages" called Throttle scurrying after Modo.
Half an hour later Vinnie was sleeping in Charley's room, a clean bandage covering his wound. Throttle and Charley were sat at the table in the kitchen. Modo had gone to check on the pilot.
"I think we've stopped the bleeding and he looks peaceful enough." said Throttle, trying to be comforting. "Don't worry `bout macho-brain, he's seen worse than this. He'll be as right as rain in a few days."
Charley smiled. "Thanks Throttle." The guys had to be taking this as bad as she was. The three of them were virtually inseparable. The room lapsed into a moment of silent contemplation, at least until Modo suddenly flew through the kitchen door. Literally. He flew though the air and slammed into the back wall hitting his head.
Throttle pulled out his laser as the pilot walked through the door clearly quite annoyed. "WHERE AM I? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY VESSEL?" he bellowed.
Throttle aimed the laser at the irate stranger. "Why don't you just calm down fella and we can talk about this."
The stranger walked up to Throttle looking him straight in the eyes and all but ignoring the laser pointed at him. "Start talking." He growled.
Throttle began to tell him how they had seen his ship crash in the park and how the Plutarkians had ambushed them. The stranger seemed to accept the explanation and sat down at the table across from Throttle. By this time Modo had come around and Charley had helped him off the floor.
"It seems I owe you an apology." Said the stranger. Modo growled in response but then relented.
"So how about telling us how your even able to walk after totalling your ship like ya did." asked Throttle a little curious about the strange Human.
"I have tiny machines working in my body. We call them nanites. They are able to repair any injuries I may sustain."
"Hmm, so who is WE? In fact who are you? And where do you come from. I didn't know humans had such advanced technology." Asked Modo still, rubbing his chin.
The Human sighed. "Okay I'm Captain Mark Stone of the Galactic Alliance. It's difficult to explain how I got here but I come from a planet called Earth, but not this Earth. My Earth is in another reality, similar to this one, except on my world we are about five hundred years ahead of you and there are no giant mouse like creatures living on it. In fact we have yet to discover evidence of alien life in our galaxy. Anyway, my ship, the Icon was investigating a spate of commercial shipping disappearances. We had found nothing but a small energy anomaly, so I decided to take out a fighter to get more detailed scans. It turned out to be some kind of inter-dimensional rift. My fighter was sucked in and damaged on the way through. I had no choice but to set off for the nearest habitable planet before my life-support gave out. The nearest planet happened to be this one."
"Yeah, well I wouldn't plan on it being habitable for long if the Plutarkians get their way." said Throttle.
"Just who are these Plutarkians?" Asked Stone. "As I said in my universe we've never come across extraterrestrial life. In fact the search for ETs is one of the Galactic fleet's mandates."
"Well if you haven't got them in your universe consider yourself lucky. They're a race of fish like humanoids. They used up all of their planet's natural resources and now they go around stealing everyone else's." Replied Throttle.
"'Yeah, the fish-faces have virtually destroyed our home planet and now they're trying to get their smelly fins on this one." Scowled Modo.
Stone mulled this over. Charley broke the silence. "Um, guys. I'm gonna go check on Vincent. I want to make sure that bandage is still holding."
"One of your kind is injured?" asked Stone concerned.
"Yeah, poor Vin caught one in the shoulder." Replied Modo "I suppose we'll have to go to Limburger Tower in the morning to teach `em a lesson
"Too right Modo, but those commandos might be a problem. We'll need to make plans." Said Throttle.
"Why not leave it till tomorrow guys" said Charley. "It's getting late. If you're staying the night there's a couple of cots upstairs. I'm afraid I can only offer you the couch Captain Stone."
"That will be fine, thank you Miss.."
"Davidson, but call me Charley"
"Charley it is."
The mice went upstairs to sort out their beds for the night. Stone meanwhile lay on the couch plans forming in his brain.
Charley sat down in a chair next to her bed, presently occupied by a certain, injured white furred mouse that she just happened to have feelings for. She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the muzzle. Oh Vinnie, get better soon, I'll miss you if ya don't she thought to herself holding back tears.
Morning had arrived and the mice were fast asleep. Charley had fallen asleep in her chair. The Last Chance Garage was quiet. Stone got up from the couch and crept outside. A couple of hundred yards down the road he passed a parked car. Looking at it, he pulled a small device from his pocket and pressed it against the door. The door opened and Stone climbed in. He looked at the controls and before looking at the device in his hand. "Hmm, Primitive combustion engine, .. Simple but crude operating controls Oh well it beats walking." He sighed. Pressing the device to the ignition he started the engine. "Limburger Tower here I come." He said rubbing his hands together.
Stone arrived at the Tower fifteen minutes later, it had been quite easy to find. He parked the car and walked into the building. A smartly dressed receptionist sat at a tidy desk in the foyer.
"Can I help you sir?" She asked.
Stone smiled his most charming smile. "Yes indeed you can, I would like to see Mr. Limburger please." He said politely.
"I'm sorry sir, Mr Limburger is busy at the moment, do you have an appointment."
Stone's smile slipped, he grabbed the receptionist by the collar with his left hand. Two nasty looking 12-inch blades extended from the armour strapped to Stones right forearm. He placed them under the secretary's neck. "No I don't, but tell him I dropped in last night and he has something that belongs to me." He growled.
Suddenly a disembodied voice came out of a small black speaker on the desk. "It's alright Miss Pemberton, send him up." The lift to the right opened its doors. Stone released the secretary and turned towards the lift scraping the blades across her desk leaving a long score mark. He walked into the lift, retracting the blades as the doors closed.
The doors opened to reveal a rotund businessman. The man smiled warmly. "Welcome to Limburger Tower, I'm Lawrence Limburger." He extended his hand.
Stone ignored the gesture and spoke in a dangerous and uncompromising voice. "I am Captain Stone of the Galactic Alliance. You are in possession of Alliance property. Return it immediately or face the consequences."
"Now, now my dear Captain, no need for threats, I'm sure we can come to an amicable arrangement." Limburger pointed to a large door. "Come with me please Captain" Said Limburger leading Stone into a large laboratory. Stone's ship was inside. "As you can see, your ship has sustained a lot of damage. My chief scientist however is making repairs in order to make it space worthy. However, I am afraid that I am not in a position to give you back your ship, you see, I am no longer in charge here. Colonel Barracuda has replaced me, and he intends to deliver your ship back to Plutark. However perhaps we can make a deal that would be mutually advantageous."
Stone snarled annoyed. "State your proposal."
"I want you to deliver the Biker Mice to me. In return I will deliver a fully repaired ship to you. Colonel Cuda's mission here is to destroy the mice. If I beat him to it he will be forced to return home in shame." And on Plutark he will be unable to kill me, thought Limburger to himself.
Stone mulled this over and came to a decision. "Very well Limburger we have a deal. But, be warned, double cross me and I will kill you Slowly." Stone waved his blades in front of Limburger's face. "I'll need some equipment from my ship."
"Certainly, take all you need." Limburger said happily.
Back at the Last Chance Garage Throttle was just beginning to wake. "Yawn Uh, morning already." I better check on Vincent, he thought as he got up from the cot, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Modo was still asleep. Throttle nipped into Charley's room. Vinnie was still unconscious but looked stable. He smiled at Charley, fast asleep in the chair next to the bed. I'll let her sleep a bit longer while I make some breakfast, he thought. Downstairs, Throttle noticed Stone was gone as Modo had just come down the stairs. "Yo Bro." He thundered.
"Ssh! Charley's still asleep." Throttle whispered. "I was gonna make some breakfast. Come on you can give us a hand, you're better at cooking than me."
Modo noticed Stones absence. "Where's Captain Stone Bro.?"
"I don't know big fella, I'm just hoping that he hadn't gone to Limburger Tower without us."
"Yeah, well, he's pretty tough for a Human. Socked me good an proper." Said Modo rubbing his chin in memory.
"One on one might be alright, but not a dozen of Limburger's new commandos. Those guys last night were professionals, took us by surprise, shot Vinnie. They didn't even give us chance to make a fight of it."
"I was meaning to talk to you `bout that Bro. You see their commander?" asked Modo.
"Nah, I was too busy getting ma tail outta there to notice."
"Well I think I recognise him. Remember that mission on the outskirts of Bradley."
"How could I forget, a hundred and fifty of us went in to take out a non-existent Plutarkian slave station. Only twelve of us got out alive."
Modo scowled at the memory. "If I remember right, it was a Plutarkian captain who pulled off that mousetrap. Called himself Captain Cuda. Well that's who I saw last night."
"Cuda! But he was taken out by the military a couple of years ago." Said Throttle taken aback.
"Maybe they missed?" Said Modo, shrugging his shoulders.
"Yeah? Maybe they lied! It's just like the army. Get a bit of propaganda going to stir up the masses. I gotta contact Carbine to find out if he really is alive. She should know she is a General after all."
Throttle left Modo to cook breakfast while he used his bike to patch into the transmitter in the scoreboard. Opening a channel he began to read off a message.
Stone walked in through the door of the garage. He now wore a long trench coat over his flight suit. A disrupter cannon was holstered on his belt. His eyes were covered with a pair of shades. Throttle looked round to see the figure stood in the doorway. "Stone?"
Producing a small pistol out of his sleeve, Stone aimed it at Throttle. "Sorry" he said, pulling the trigger. Throttle felt a burning sensation shoot along all his nerves as the bright ball of energy emitted from the gun hit him. The next thing he knew he was laid on the floor. He couldn't move, his body was paralysed. He briefly sensed someone bending over him, checking his pulse, before unconsciousness claimed him.
Stone got up from where Throttle' s prone form lay. "Out cold for thirty minutes, perfect. Now for the other one."
Modo was enjoying himself in the kitchen making waffles. He had already eaten most of what he had made, but he had made sure he had cooked plenty. Just one more batch and I'll go wake up Charley-girl, he thought. So intent was he on his cooking that he didn't notice the figure that sneaked up behind him to dose him with a hypo spray. Stone lowered Modo's unconscious and rather substantial body to the ground in perfect silence. Standing up he altered the setting on the hypo spray and made his way up the stairs.
Vinnie lay on the bed still unconscious, his breathing a little laboured but constant. Stone crept into the room quietly to avoid disturbing the human woman still asleep in the chair next to the bed. He carefully bent over the Vinnie and put the hypo against white mouse's neck. The mechanism triggered with a soft hiss painlessly infusing the contents of the hypo into the mouse'a neck. Stone stood up and smiled. His work here was done for now, the injection would take a couple of hours to work. Stone turned and made his way out of the room.
Half an hour later he stood in Limburger's office. Throttle and Modo were just coming round.
"Ooh, I don't feel so good" croaked Throttle.
"Me neither Bro." Modo commented.
Limburger looked down at the two mice laid on the floor in front of him. "Don't worry, my esteemed enemies, you won't be feeling anything soon." He laughed at them evilly.
Stone interrupted the overlord's gloating, his voice irritated. "We had a deal Limburger, get my ship ready."
Limburger looked up at Stone. "What about the white one? The deal was for all three."
"The other is dead." Replied Stone. "Your colonel shot him last night. His body is at the Last Chance Garage." .
Limburger nodded. "Very wellKarbuncle!KARBUNCLE!Damn him, he's never this long in answering. Where is he?"
Limburger got the answer to that question as the doors crashed inwards and a group of commandos rushed in armed to the teeth. Stone whirled around grabbing Limburger by the collar, the small pistol coming to his left hand as he activated the quick draw machanism up his left sleeve. He put the muzzle against the fish's neck.
"You shouldn't have tried to double cross me."
"I didn't. Cuda must have found out." Limburger whimpered.
Stone scowled in disbelief. "He turned to the commandos surrounding him. "Anyone makes a wrong move and I redecorate the room with boss man's brains!"
"You'd only be saving me a job." Said Cuda striding in after the last of his men. "Limburger here has been trying to cheat the Empire out of a valuable piece of technology but thanks to Karbuncle I learned of his plans. So you see my dear Captain you can do what you like with him.
Stone sighed letting go of Limburger and dropping the pistol. Without a hostage there was no way he could take all fifteen of the commandos. Slowly he raised his hands.
Cuda motioned to his men. They moved forward grabbing the prisoners. "You could have at least made a fight of it Captain." Said Cuda sounding dissapointed. "You're all going to die anyway. All four of you will be going back to Plutark to entertain our people in the Plutarkian Death Games. I'm sure the ratings will be high."
Stone scowled at Limburger. Limburger in turn scowled at Cuda. Modo and Throttle meanwhile scowled at everyone.
The prisoners were escorted into separate cells so that they couldn't kill each other before the games. Stone and Throttle were in adjacent cells. "You bastard!" Shouted Throttle angrily, his tail swishing back and forth like an angry cat's. "We saved your sorry ass from the Plutarkians, and this is how you repay us. And what did you do to Vinnie, He was starting to recover. You're a dead son of a bitch when we get out of here."
"Yeah!" seconded Modo. "When I get outta here I'm gonna rip that nasty scheming double crossing head of yours, clean off." He said banging the bars with his bionic arm for effect.
Stone sat on the small bench in his cell his head in his hands. Things had gone horribly wrong somewhere along the line. Just where things had started to go wrong was what was troubling the Captain. He should have been sat on the bridge of his ship right about now safe and comfortable with the whole Alliance as back up. Instead he was sat in a cold cell with no friends surrounded by people who wanted him dead. He didn't blame them. All of what had happened had been his fault for trusting Limburger. At the mention of Vinnie's name however, he raised his head up. "Vinnie isn't dead"
"I said he ain't dead." "In fact, he should just be coming round by now. I injected him with healing nanites. They'll heal up the wound and then get flushed out of his body. I didn't expect all this to happen." Replied Stone gesturing to the surroundings.
"You mean, you didn't expect this to happen to you!" Throttle growled his tail still swishing back and forth angrily.
Stone sighed deciding it was explanation time. "I had a plan all worked out. Put your hand on the back of your neck."
Throttle looked at the Captain suspiciously "Why?"
"Just do it." Said Stone sighing again.
Throttle did as he told and felt the back of his neck.
"What the?" said Throttle feeling a small but hard lump. Modo also found a similar lump on his neck.
"It's a micro-transmitter." Said Stone matter-of-factly. "Once I had got my ship back and safely stashed away, I was going to go get Vinnie and come after you. The deal with Limburger was just to get my ship back as quickly as possible. Without it I have no way of getting home."
Limburger glared at Stone from the next cell. "You were going to double cross me."
"I suppose I did but you had it coming. You don't thing that a Captain of the Alliance would betray people who had aided him." Replied Stone.
"I must be losing my touch." Sighed Limburger. With this comment he extracted a small remote control from his suit pocket. "Goodbye my fellow prisoners. I hope you have short lives." He pressed a button on the remote and disappeared in a flash of bright light.
"Remote transporter eh, Old stink-face can be pretty tricky when he wants to be." Grumbled Modo.
Throttle turned to Stone. "Well you got us into this Mister-bigshot-Alliance-Captain. You can think of a way to get us out."
Back at the Last Chance, Vinnie was suddenly aware that his consciousness had returned. He cautiously opened his eyes to find it was light outside. There was no pain in his shoulder. It must have been a dream, he thought to himself. Then he applied his brain to the situation, which despite rumours did actually exist under all the machismo. Wait a minute he thought, what am I doing in Charley's room with a bandage wrapped around my shoulder. He sat up, noticing Charley asleep on the chair. Strange, he thought, my shoulder feels fine. He decided to investigate further and took off the bandage. He was surprised to find that the wound was gone. There wasn't even a scar. He began to brush the bits of dried blood out of his fur.
Charley opened her eyes suddenly. Seeing Vinnie sat up "What the hell do you think your doing Vincent."
Vinnie looked at her sheepishly. God she's beautiful, he thought to himself. "Uh, I feel OK Charley. My shoulder seems to have healed up."
Charley took a look at his shoulder in disbelief. "Hey your right. The wounds gone completely, are you sure you feel OK."
Vinnie thought for a moment "Well I do feel a little warm."
Charley leaned over to touch Vinnie's forehead. "Hmm, you've got a bit of a temperature." she said.
Vinnie kissed her on the cheek as she lent over. "Thanks for watching over me babe."
Charley smiled and kissed him back. "No problem my big strong macho mouse. Just don't get shot again or I'll have to spank you."
"Ooh, I'd like to see you try."
Charley pounced onto the bed pinning Vinnie down "UmmphHey mind where ya put those bony knees of yours Charley-girl. You could have given me a serious injury there."
Charley snickered. "Oh my, I couldn't have that now could I. I wouldn't want to accept damaged goods." She said sexily.
"Ya know babe, I'm no longer feeling warm."
"Nope. I'm feeling hot!" He replied his hands beggining to roam across her body.
Charley smiled. "You must be feeling better," she said "But what about your Bro.s? They could walk in any second."
Vinnie made a face. "I suppose I better take a shower." He said glumly.
At Limburger Tower things were not going well in the escape department. Modo's arm cannon had been bound up with steel chains. The bars were made of Plutarkian steel and were too strong for him to bend. Throttle had tried to take the wall down with his `nuke knucks', but the walls were made of Plutarkian steel as well. His punch didn't even leave a dint, he just succeeded in hurting his hand. "Geez! I'm surprised we've managed to demolish this building so many times with the amount of Plutarkian steel in it." Modo grumbled to Throttle.
"Yeah Big fella. There's no way of breaking out of these mouse traps. And they put us in separate cells so the old `Guard, my Bro's dying please open the door so that we can jump you and escape' trick ain't gonna work."
Stone looked up suddenly. "Fellas, I've got an idea."
"What is it?" asked Throttle.
"Well, I er I just need you to stand up against the bars with your back to me." Replied Stone with a smile.
Throttle looked at Stone puzzled but decided to play along. "UmOkay, but I don't see how me doing that is gonna help us escape."
"You'll see." Said Stone cryptically.
Throttle sighed but did as he was asked. "There. Now what?"
Stone reached through the bars of the cell and wrapped his arm around Throttle's neck.
Stone tightened his grip cutting off Throttle's air supply. "Call the guards he said to Modo."
Understanding dawned on Modo. "Oh. I see... GUARDS! GUARDS! HELP! Stones killing Throttle!"
"Uggghhh.uuuggggaaaaahhhh!" croaked Throttle, struggling to free himself but to no avail.
Two Plutarkian guards came running down the passageway.
"Drat!" said the first guard. "You hold the door while I try to get him off the mouse. The Colonel said he wanted them all alive for the Death Games." The guard unlocked the door of Stone's cell and came into the cell. Stone smiled to himself. Releasing Throttle, he brought his arm back and extended the blades on his right arm, which fortuitously the Plutarkians had not thought to remove. The backhanded blow sliced the Plutarkian guards neck open. He dropped to the ground gurgling. The other guard tried to close the door but Stone was too fast. He jammed his foot in the doorway preventing the door from closing. He advanced on the guard with a feral smile on his face, the twin blades poised to strike. The last thought that went through the guard's mind was how strange his body looked without his head on it's shoulders.
Stone grabbed the keys from the fallen guard and opened the other cells. "Good plan." Congratulated Modo.
Throttle meanwhile sat slumped against the bars rubbing his throat. "Ya didn't have ta squeeze so tight mate." He croaked, scowling at Stone.
"Hey. I had to make it look realistic." Chuckled Stone. "But I'm sorry if I hurt you"
Throttle didn't reply. He just glared at Stone. Stone meanwhile picked up the guards' weapons, using one to free Modo's arm cannon. He chucked the other one over to Throttle. The three escapees proceeded down the corridor to the door at the end of it. The door led into a small room. Looking through the window in the door they could see three guards sat round a table. The prisoners' weapons lay in the middle of the table.
"What's ya plan Stone?" asked Throttle.
"Actually, I was gonna let you come up with this one, seeing as you don't like my plans."
Modo scratched in-between his antennae, frowning. "What do we need a plan for. Its three against three. Lets just take `em by surprise an' pulverise `em."
"Hmm, might just work." commented Throttle.
"Just might." Said Stone smiling again.
"Lets do it!" Said Modo smashing the door in with his bionic arm and taking out the first guard with his arm cannon. Throttle and Stone took out the other two with their borrowed lasers.
Gathering up his weapons, Stone glared at the fallen guards. "Those idiots better not have damaged my weapons." He said, examining the disrupter cannon for signs of damage. "I'll squeeze the life out of them if they've even messed with the settings."
Throttle looked around at the bodies of the three dead guards. "I think it's a little late for that fella."
Stone ignored the comment and powered up the disrupter cannon. He handed the small disrupter pistol to Throttle. "Here use this, It'll be more effective than those primitive things." He said pointing to the lasers.
Throttle looked at the diminutive weapon, frowning. "Uh, how come I get the small one? Oh well, "He sighed. "Let's go get your ship back.
The three ex-prisoners set off for Karbuncle's lab.
Back at the garage, Vinnie was taking a shower, singing to himself badly. "Foreclosure of a dream. Yeah.Dada dada dadaUntil all is prosperousPersonal holocaust.Foreclosure of a dream." He sang as he dried himself off.
Charley was downstairs making breakfast. She was wondering where the guys were, when the waffles popped up ready. She put them on a large plate and slopped a huge dollop of syrup over them. Gotta keep his energy up she thought smiling to herself. "Vincent! Breakfast is ready." She called.
"Huh. Coming sweetheart." He called back. A minute later he came into the Kitchen. "Where are the Bros.?" He asked, noticing the absence of the other mice.
"I don't know." Replied Charley "Their bikes are still here so they can't have gone far. Maybe they're showing that Stone guy around."
"I'm looking forward to meeting him. He must be one tough human to be up and around after that crash."
Charley frowned, thinking. "He did say that he had some sort of machines in his body that helped to heal him up quickly. If he gave you some of those it could explain how your shoulder healed up so fast."
Vinnie narrowed his eyes and looking at Charley. "He said they heal up wounds."
"My face." He whispered. "They might have healed up my face." He touched the mask covering the right side of his face.
"Go have a look"
Vinnie walked out of the kitchen, into the living room. He stopped by the mirror and slowly lifted the mask off. Sighing, he quickly replaced the steel plate and walked back into the kitchen. Seeing his expression Charley sighed as well. "I take it they haven't fixed you up."
"No, maybe the scars are too old or something. I guess I'll have to go round looking like the Martian phantom of the opera a little while longer." He said, his head hung low.
"No matter, I like you just the way you are." Said Charley as she sidled up to him kissing him on the back of the head and rubbing his large ears.
A big smile lit up on Vinnie's face. "Well then, while his Bros. are away, Vinnie will play!" he said turning round to grab Charley.
Charley was too fast though and he missed. "Race ya upstairs hunk." She shouted running for the stairs. Vinnie grinned even wider as he raced after her.
Limburger Tower was strangely quiet as Throttle, Modo and Stone stalked through the empty corridors. "I don't like this." Declared Throttle.
"Modo nodded. "Yeah. Its just too damn easy." He agreed. Suddenly two commandos burst around the corner weapons charged. "I would have to open my big mouth" sighed Modo.
"Move aside fellas." Said Stone levelling the energy cannon. He fired the weapon. A bright blue sphere of energy emerged from the barrel hitting both Plutarkians commandos and flinging them backwards. They smashed into the wall at the end of the corridor. "Humph! I wonder why they weren't disintegrated." Murmured Stone as he walked over to the two unconscious Plutarkians. He noticed they were both wearing a belt that seemed to be humming softly. "Energy shields." He commented making a face. "We'd better be careful. These guys are well equipped."
Suddenly the humming changed pitch to become a loud whine. One of the commandos had come around and activated the self-destruct mechanism on his belt. "Hahahaha. Die well infidels."
Stone smiled his usual smug smile. "Sorry but I don't plan on dying today." He levelled the disrupter cannon at the floor by the commandos and fired at full intensity. The floor gave way and the commando screamed as both he and his unconscious colleague fell through the hole to the floor below. The guard's belt exploded on impact taking out the floor below as well making the building shudder with the blast.
However another commando suddenly charged round the corner catching Stone off guard. Throttle aimed his pistol and fired. The commando flew backwards falling down the gaping hole to land two floors down.
Stone chuckled. "Good shot. Eight-ball corner pocket." Looking round though he saw that Throttle was laid on top of Modo half way back down the corridor. "Oh I forgot to tell you. That pistol has quite a recoil if your not used to it."
Throttle looked at the diminutive weapon with a new sense of respect. "Awesome!"
It was almost one o clock in the afternoon and Vinnie and Charley were in the garage. "I don't like this Charley-girl. The Bros. would never go out for so long without leaving a note or something. They must be in trouble."
"Yeah I'm getting worried as well. They'd never leave their bikes for so long either. Have ya got a plan."
"Nope." Sighed Vinnie.
"Maybe we should mosey on down to Limburger Tower and have a nosy." Suggested Charley.
Vincent was about to mention the fact that the Tower would probably be full of Limburger's commandos when his sensitive ears picked up a familiar sound. His ears pricked up.
"You hear something Vin?" asked Charley.
"Yeah, It sounds like a stalker ship, a large one too." Vinnie pulled out his laser as the Last Chance began to shake. A low grumble could be heard as the ship fired its retros for landing."It might be trouble, I'm gonna check it out. Bike. Defend Charley-girl." The bike beeped in acknowledgement.
"Be careful Vinnie." Called Charley.
"Sure sweetheart. I'm number one remember." Replied Vinnie, his usual cocky self.
Vinnie sneaked around to the back of the garage. The ship had landed in the large open area behind the Last Chance where it was mostly out of sight. The hatchway to the ship was just starting to open. Vincent aimed the laser at the widening orifice but a familiar figure suddenly appeared at the top of the extending gangplank.
"Aaaaaooowwwww! Stoker! Good to see ya Bro."
Stoker walked down gangplank over to Vinnie. "Vincent Bro. its almost good to see you too. I'd prefer to see that lovely lookin' gal of yours though."
"Hey! Hands off oldie."
Carbine and Rimfire followed Stoker down the ramp.
"Van Wham! Where are the others? I thought you were injured?" Carbine snapped.
"I don't know where Throttle and Modo are, me an' Charley were just about to go lookin' for `em. As for me I just heal fast." Said Vinnie striking a pose
Charley poked her head around the corner and smiled. "Stoker, Rimfire, Carbine. How y'all doing." She said running over and giving Stoker a hug. Stoke noted the expression on Vinnie's face and smiled to himself. Looks like these two have got it together at long last, he thought.
Carbine frowned. "Its looks like Throttle and Modo are in trouble. Throttle was part way through sending a message when he was suddenly cut off. It sounded like he'd been shot."
Rimfire balled his hands up into fists angrily. "Looks like were going to see some action after all." He said. "No one hurts my uncle Modo or his Bros."
"Cool it hotshot." Snapped Carbine. "Go bring out the troops. We're gonna do this properly."
Rimfire did as he was told, trotting up the ramp of the ship and leaning his head round the corner. A dozen heavily armed Martian soldiers accompanied him back down. Carbine spoke to the soldier first out of the ship. "Major Dagger, Take your men into the house."
"Yes general, ma'am." Replied the tall grey furred Martian. He wore the same style of military uniform as Carbine. He was heavily built but not as tall as Modo. His hair, dark grey, almost black in colour was cut short into a military `flat-top'. Charley looked at him as he led his soldiers into the back of the garage. A thin scar, just visible under his facial fur, ran down the right side of his face from the hairline to the bottom of his cheek. A patch covered whatever remained of his right eye. Hell, are there any mice left on Mars that don't have scars, she thought to herself looking first at Vinnie's mask and then at the jagged scar on Carbines muzzle. One day those Plutarkians are gonna pay.
Throttle sniffed the air and nearly gagged. "Ugggh! Two Plutarks are waiting near the end of the next corridor." He whispered. "They're particularly stinky ones too."
Stone shrugged his shoulders. "My ship must be in the lab at the end of this corridor. We'll have to take them out."
"Jeez! I wish we had our bikes." Moaned Modo. "We'd take care of these Plutarkian fish faces in no time."
"Yeah! Well I wish I had my combat armour and a fully charged ionic pulse cannon." Retorted Stone. "Unfortunately I left all the heavy equipment in my ship."
"I thought that was combat armour you wearing now." Queried Modo gesturing to the metallic armour covering the front of Stones arms and legs.
"Nah, this is just a flack suit. Its designed to prevent the wearer from getting impaled on anything in the event of a crash landing or anything. Proper combat armour has to be powered because its so heavy. It can carry some awesome weapons though."
"Hell, I wish you two would just shut up. Are we gonna take out these guards or what. My nose can't take anymore of their odour." Commented Throttle.
Stone smiled. "After you."
Throttle leaned round the corner and fired the pistol, this time prepared for the recoil.
Both guards were hit sending them crashing to the floor. Luckily for the guards they had managed to activate their personal shields in time to save them for serious injury. Unluckily for them, Stone also leant round the corner, firing his cannon at the floor beneath them and sending them crashing down to the floor below.
"Hey! You two don't need me. You make me feel like a spare part." Joked Modo. "I think I'll just go home."
The three former prisoners walked to the end of the corridor, jumping over the large hole in the floor, and entered the lab. The Alliance fighter stood in the middle of the large room. Stone was surprised to find that much of the damage had been repaired. A white coated scientist, Karbuncle, stood with his back to them busily working on part of the ship.
Stone walked over to the doctor. "Ahem!" The doctor spun round startled. "Thankyou for repairing my ship." Stone smiled smugly, cuffing the deranged doctor and sending him flying into a console on the far wall. The doctor slumped, unconscious. "And thanks for cocking up my plans." Stone quickly climbed into his ship. Leaning out of the cockpit, he shouted over to the two mice. "You coming or what?"
Throttle and Modo quickly climbed into the ship. There was barely enough room in the small cockpit for them both to fit. However they managed, the cockpit's hatch closing and the engines coming alive with a low growl once they were inside. Both Throttle and Modo noticed the lack of flight controls. "Hey, how the hell can ya fly this thing without no controls." Asked Throttle.
"Huh! Oh, I control it by thought. I'm wet wired into the main computer. It speeds up reaction times considerably." Replied Stone.
"Well on my Earth we are nearing the end of the twenty-fifth century." Stone suddenly tilted his head to one side as if listening to an unheard voice.
<PREFLIGHT CHECKS COMPLETE>
Good, thought Stone, target weapons on the wall ahead and fire. The ship blasted the wall with its pulse cannons blowing it to dust. Forward thrust, one-sixteenth power. Exit this construct.
<POWER LEVELS AT 12%>
Power conservation mode. Begin recharge of fusion reaction. Heading 073.4 mark 3. One quarter thrust.
The ship left the Tower heading towards the Last Chance Garage.
Colonel Cuda watched the ship depart from the window in Limburger `s office. A soldier approached him, stopping a metre away. He came to attention and saluted.
"Your report Sergeant."
"The prisoners have escaped in the captured ship Colonel. The tracking device is working as expected."
"How many casualties?"
"Five fatalities, one seriously injured."
"Very well. Keep tracking the ship. We attack tonight. Dismissed."
Damn this place, thought Cuda, this place must be jinxed. For me to allow prisoners to escape with an advanced piece of technology is unforgivable. Its fortunate I had Karbuncle attach the tracking device, just in case this situation arose.
The fighter craft gracefully banked low over the Last Chance Garage in preparation for landing only to find the stalker ship already there. "Damn you can never find a bloody parking space when you want one." Sighed Stone.
"Bring it down next to the stalker ship, there's enough room. Yer could get a thunderpipe in there easy." Said Throttle smiling.
"OK, but if I scratch the paintwork, I'll be blaming you." Laughed Stone.
"Looks like Carbine got ya message Bro. I wonder if she's gonna try to kill us this time." Said Modo jokingly.
"Well ya never can tell with Carbine, Modo, she has one hell of a temper at times." Replied Throttle.
The ship touched down next to the stalker ship with just three inches to spare. The cockpit opened and the three escapees stepped out to face the business end of sixteen laser weapons.
"Well this is a nice welcome home!" Throttle said dryly.
"Yeah." Modo agreed. "Is there a squad of Plutarkian soldiers stood behind us or is Carbine pissed off with you again Bro." Modo looked round. "Well I don't see any soldiers, I guess your in trouble Bro."
"Ha." Laughed Stoker. "Looks like you didn't need our help after all." He said holstering his weapon. The biker mice and their Alliance companion stepped down from the ship to greet the waiting mice.
Charley shook her head. Two space ships and a yard full of aliens, what would the neighbours think. "Er, perhaps you all better get inside before anybody sees you."
"Good idea." Said Carbine. "Everybody back inside."
The visitors all began to file back into the garage. Stone looked back at his fighter admiring its sleek lines and frowned. He had noticed a small purple object attached to the underside of the upper left wing. Walking over to the ship he connected to the computer.
Computer, scan for foreign objects.
<SCAN COMPLETE. POSSIBLE TRANSMISSION DEVICE LOCATED ON UPPER LEFT AEROFOIL, SECTION 24F>
Stone removed the device and made his way into the building. "Er, people I think we have a problem." He said holding it up.
Carbine made a face. "Looks like the stinkfish are coming to us. We'd better be ready people. This is war!"
Stone went back out to his ship. It was time for some heavy equipment. He thought a command to the ship's computer and a small hatch opened underneath the cockpit. Ten minutes later he strode into the garage. He was covered in thick metallic black armour, with just the front of his head exposed. The armour on his right arm was attached to a huge weapon, an ionic pulse cannon. His hand rested on the trigger. The left arm was also armoured. His left hand was encased in a power claw, a large armoured glove with three wicked spikes attached to the knuckles. The Alliance symbol was embossed on the shoulder protector of the left arm. Two gold lines, his rank, were displayed beneath it. "Time to pa-a-rr-ty!" He shouted.
"Hey that's my line." Shouted Vinnie.
"You wanna argue?" replied Stone with his feral glare.
Vinnie shook his head. "No I think I'll let you use it for a while." He said backing away.
"That looks an impressive piece of hardware sonny." Said Stoker. "I hope it's as effective as it looks."
"Oh it will be, don't you worry." Replied Stone with a gleam in his eyes.
Darkness descended on Chi-town. Cuda stood at the end of the alleyway, watching the Last Chance Garage. His men were already surrounding it cautiously. He'd had two dozen more of his commandos transported over from Plutark and he was taking no chances. A quiet burst of static came from his radio.
"We are in position awaiting your command sir." Came the transmission.
Cuda smiled at last those troublesome enemies of the Empire known as the Biker Mice would die. He gave the hand signal authorising the attack. The Last Chance was suddenly bombarded with blood red laser fire. The firing stopped abruptly as a group of soldiers crept up to the windows of the garage. Smashing the glass they threw grenades into the building. The grenades detonated with loud bangs blowing smoke and debris outwards
From the roof of the building opposite the garage, Charley looked down at the destruction. "My poor garage" She murmured to herself.
A pair of arms wrapped around her waist. "Don't worry Sweetheart, me an' ma Bros.'ll help ya get the it up an' runnin', when this is all over."
"Thanks Vin I just hope Stone's alright in there."
The group of soldiers dived in through the windows they'd just destroyed. The rest of the commando force kept they're weapons trained on the garage's exits. Cuda listened to the reports coming in through his radio.
Sshhh "The building appears to be deserted."Sshhh "Commencing search of upper levels."Sshhh "Ground floor ahhhump".
The radio went dead. Cuda quickly sent five extra commandos through the front of the garage. A second after they entered the front of the garage exploded as an ionic pulse cannon discharged its energy at the five commandos. They never stood a chance as the enormous energy blast ripped through their personal shields and vaporised them in milliseconds.
Stone smiled his smug smile, a smile of a man who knows he's got a big advantage over everyone else. This is more like it, he thought as he made his way over to the stairs to take out the commandos that had gone to search the upper levels. They were waiting for him at the top of the staircase and began to fire their lasers as soon as he came into sight. Stone just laughed as the blasts just bounced off the armour or were absorbed by the forcefield protecting his face.
"Hahahaha! I hope you ain't got no last requests fellas, cos I ain't in any mood to grant them"
He aimed the cannon at the top of the landing and fired killing the soldiers instantly as the blast ripped through the upper floor.
But suddenly the building groaned and started to shake. "Oops!" Said Stone to himself, a slightly worried expression on his face. "maybe I overdid the power level. Time to make a speedy departure." But it was too late The supports of the building gave way and the roof collapsed in on him. "Oh bugger! Umphhh!"
The freedom fighters watched as the Last chance Garage collapsed into a pile of rubble. "Did he get out?" asked Carbine.
"Didn't see him." Replied Throttle. "Look the Plutarks are gathering round the building."
"Yeah, stood there like bowlin' pins." Growled Modo in a dangerous tone.
Vinnie was already shaking in anticipation. "I say we take `em down. Total clearance."
"Hold it Vincent, They've got energy shields remember. We need `em to run low on power. Stone said he reckoned they'd only last five minutes max. There's just thirty seconds to go."
Carbine glared at him. "Throttle, if he's wrong, this is gonna be one short offensive."
"I know Carbine. Its time, you wanna do the honours."
"Why not!" Said Carbine "Freedom fighters ATTACK!" she bawled.
The freedom fighters opened fire on the surprised fish, just as their energy shields began to fail. Bikes jumped off of the rooves of nearby buildings landing gently on the streets below. Bright blue laser fire billowed from the laser weapons mounted onto their frames. The Plutarkians rushed to find cover from the deadly machines.
Rimfire rode out of the alleyway he and his bike had been hiding in. He held a laser rifle in each hand, leaving the bike to steer itself as he took down fish-heads with a storm of laser fire. Modo watched his nephew, pride in his eyes. "That's my nephew." He said to himself as he blew a Plutarkian commando away with his arm cannon.
Vinnie ploughed through a group of five Plutarkians that had found some cover amongst the rubble of the Last Chance. Activating a grenade he shoved it down the back of the tallest one's shirt as he flew past on his rocket sled. The explosion blew the commando apart, taking out his companions as well.
Meanwhile, Stoker stood on the sidelines of the battle shouting orders to the troops. He had come to the conclusion some time ago that he was getting a little old to be bothered doing all the energetic stuff. Leave that to the younger generation, he thought. He was quite content to stay out of harms way using his experience to guide the younger fighters.
"Dagger watch yer back!"
Sergeant Dagger turned round quickly just in time to take out the Plutark trying to sneak up behind him. He nodded a thankyou to Stoker.
"Throttle! Power punch 7"
Throttle powered his `nuke knucks', slamming them into a telegraph pole. The pole toppled squashing a Plutarkian about to shoot a freedom fighter in the back.
Stoker smiled proudly to himself. Maybe Carbine should make me a general. I can shout orders just as good as her.
"Your dead mousy" said a voice. Stoker's smile fell. He looked around to see a burley Plutarkian bearing down on him. The Plutarkian slammed into his back sending him crashing to the floor face down and pinning him there. Stoker cried out as he hit the deck. The blow knocked the wind out of him and he had twisted his ankle on the way down. Stuck for anything else to do he lashed out with his bionic tail, a gift from Karbuncle. The Plutarkian slumped. Stoker squirmed out from beneath the soldier's heavy body. A deep wound was cut into the back of the guard's skull where the tail had stuck in it. "Whew! That was close." Said Stoker wiping his brow "I'm too old for this shit!". With that he limped to the sidelines of the fight to get his breath back.
A soldier landed at Cuda's feet, his chest a ruin. Cuda could smell the odour of fried flesh rising from the laser-damaged-body. "So, this was a trap all along." He murmured, pulling out a laser pistol from his pocket. The weapon hummed as the automatic targeter activated. Pointing the gun at the nearest target, a light brown coloured mouse on a large black bike, he pulled the trigger. Cuda laughed as the mouse fell from his mount. "If I'm going to lose I'm taking some of you with me." He said aiming at another mouse that was trying to help the light brown one up.
Rimfire shot another commando who had been taking pot shots from an alleyway. He looked round for another target. He saw a flash of red light out of the corner of his eye. His side suddenly erupted with pain. The shot knocked him off his bike and he fell to the ground. He lay there in shock, the side of his belly burning with pain. He looked at the blood pouring out of the wound suddenly realising it was his blood.
Modo watched in horror as Cuda cut down his nephew. Crying out in anguish he quickly rushed over to where Rimfire was laid. "Rimy, Oh my god! Hold on lad." He cried desperately trying to stem the red tide pouring out of his nephew.
Rimfire looked his uncle through blurry eyes. "Get that Stinkfish for me uncle, before he gets anyone else." He said weakly. Blackness closed out his vision and he passed out.
Charley came running over. "Oh no Rimfire!" She crouched down over him tearing off part of her jacket to use as a bandage.
Modo glanced down at Charley tending his injured nephew. His eye began to glow. "Take good care of him Charley ma'am. Its payback time!" Modo let out an ear splitting war cry and spun his chopper around. The other freedom fighters looked on in astonishment as Modo rampaged towards the Plutarkian colonel.
Cuda stared at the obviously angry mouse that was storming towards him and gulped. "Oh bum! I've really gone and done it now. Time to flee!" He pulled out a remote Karbuncle had given him and pressed the button, vanishing in a flash of light just before Modo's bike got close enough to leave its tread marks on him.
Skidding to a halt, Modo climbed off his bike and dropped to his knees, punching the ground where Cuda had been stood. "Nooo!" He screamed. "Come back and die, yer yella bellied slime-sucker." With no enemy to fight, the anger suddenly turned to grief and Modo sat back, tears falling down his face.
Carbine had finished off the last Plutarkian with her laser. He had been trying to sneak away. The battle was won, the mice victorious, but at what cost?
Throttle and Vinnie came over and stood over Rimfire's unconscious form, concern on their faces. Charley looked up at them as she tried to stop the blood pouring out of the hole in Rimfire's side. "Quick, Vinnie go get some proper bandages. Throttle go get a stretcher."
Carbine surveyed the aftermath of the battle. The bodies of dead Plutarkians littered the place. The Last Chance garage was a pile of rubble that now served as Captain Stone's tomb. She turned to see Stoker walking over to her trying to hide a limp.
"I guess we won, huh, general."
"Yeah this time." Carbine pointed at the old mouse's leg. "What ya done to yer leg?"
"Oh, er, just twisted ma' ankle that's all. Its nothing."
"Are you sure?" Asked Carbine suspiciously. She had been reluctant to let him come on this mission. She had been tempted to tell him he was too old to go but she was fond of the old fella and didn't have the heart to. Not that it would have made any difference, the stubborn old mouse would have still insisted on going along.
Stoker nodded that he was okay as Major Dagger joined them.
"Report Major" said Carbine in her clipped military tones.
"The Plutarkians have been neutralised Ma'am. However I must report two confirmed fatalities, Turbo and Astral. It looks like the Plutarkian commander shot them before he shot Rimfire."
"That's a damn shame, those two made a fine couple." Interrupted Stoker.
"Yes it looked like Turbo was shot first and then Astral was hit as she tried to drag him to safety."
"How's Rimfire?" asked Stoker.
Dagger shook his head. "Not good. Doc Cyclone's looking at him now. He has some medical training and he'll do the best he can."
"Are there any other serious injuries." Asked Carbine.
Carbine looked appraisingly at her second in command noticing that he was holding his bicep. He was a good soldier but tended to put his duty before himself a little too often. "Go get that arm bandaged before it goes sceptic." She ordered.
"Yes ma'am, but what about Captain Stone." Replied Dagger. "There's been no sign of him. He could be trapped under the rubble."
"Get a couple of men to search for him on the way to getting your arm patched up."
Dagger nodded. Saluting and briskly, he marched off in the direction of the stalker ship where Cyclone, one of the few Martians with good medical knowledge still alive, was treating the injured.
Rimfire lay on a makeshift bed in the room Doc Cyclone had made into his temporary hospital. The bandage around his waist had already turned a deep shade of red. Modo crouched by the bed running his organic hand through his nephew's hair. "Hang in there lad" he whispered softly thinking of the good times he and Rimfire had had. A tapping on his shoulder disturbed his reverie. He looked round to find it was Throttle.
"Doc here needs a sample of your blood Bro." He said pointing to a brown furred mouse who was now wearing a white coat over his green freedom fighters uniform. "We need to know whether your blood is compatible with Rimfire's. He's gonna need a top up soon with all the blood he's lost."
Modo held out his arm while Doc took a small sample of blood and mixed it in a little dish with Rimfire's.
"Hmm, no haemagglutination, excellent we have a match." The doctor murmured, turning to Modo. "I'm gonna need to take some blood."
Modo held his arm out again. "Take as much as he needs."
Cyclone set up his equipment to extract the blood from Modo. Ten minutes later he had filled a blood pack for Rimfire. He took the needle out of Modo's arm put his hand on Modo's shoulder. "You'll feel weak after giving so much blood. I suggest you go get some sleep."
Modo shook his head. "Sorry Doc but I'm staying right here."
Cyclone sighed. "Okay then but it'll be a lot more comfortable falling asleep in a bed than in this chair. I'll wake you if need be."
Modo didn't answer. He just sat in his chair watching over his nephew.
Charley stood outside looking at the pile of rubble that once was her home. Whew! Am I glad I'm insured, she thought to herself. I just hope my policy includes destruction by extra-terrestrials. She had gone over to inspect the damage to the garage to try and take her mind off Rimfire. He was after all a good friend. She had wanted to stay with him but Modo had looked like he needed to be left him alone with his nephew.
Charley sat down on a large piece of masonry. One of the larger pieces of her garage. She was surprised though when it started to rock back and forth. Jumping off the lump she shouted over to two mice that had been searching through the rubble. The three of them together managed to move the obstruction. A hand encased in, not quite so shiny and rather battered, armour protruded out from underneath.
Stone managed to free himself from the rest of the rubble. He stretched his arms and legs glad to be free again. He turned to his three saviours "Thanks. It was getting cramped in there, I take it we won."
"Yeah, we won." Said Charley. "But the Plutarkian commander escaped."
"Well I'm sure we'll get him another day." Said Stone. "I'm gonna go take this armour off, its pretty much ruined anyway. I'm sorry about your house, it was an accident."
Charley shrugged. "Its ok, I'm well insured, It'll be rebuilt in no time."
Inside the stalker ship Vinnie walked over to Modo to find that he was fast asleep by Rimfire's side. "You a friend of his?" Asked the Doc pointing at Modo.
"You wouldn't mind putting him somewhere else would you? I told him he would need to rest after giving so much blood but he wouldn't listen."
"No problem Doc" said Vinnie putting his arms around Modo's chest and picking him up. "I'll lay him across some of the chairs in the next room" he said, dragging Modo along.
A few minutes later Vinnie reappeared in the hospital room. "Er... Doc, is Rimfire gonna make it?"
The Doctor shrugged "I wish I could tell you but I don't know." He replied.
Vinnie nodded. "I was just wondering. Stone used some kind of tiny robots, called nanites, to heal me after I was shot the other day. Could you, say, get some of them outta my body and give them to Rimfire."
The Doc frowned. "I'm afraid I don't know much about nano-technology. It could be dangerous, I don't even know how to go about getting them out of you. If Stone were alive then perhaps it would be worth a try. You could try looking in his ship to see if there's any information about them."
Vinnie nodded. "I'll have a look." He said rushing off in the direction of Stone's ship.
Stone meanwhile had finally finished taking the rest of his heavy armour off. It lay in a heap by the nose of his ship. He carefully stowed the pulse cannon back in his ship, thinking that it might come in useful later. He vaporised the rest of the armour with his disrupter cannon. It had been badly damaged when the building had fallen in. Time for a little relaxation, he thought, climbing into the cockpit of the ship and laying back in the command chair. He silently ordered the computer to play some music. At once the dark melodious guitar riffs of Paradise Lost came pouring out of the speakers. Stone closed his eyes and relaxed.
Vinnie approached the alliance ship cautiously, wondering why there was music coming from it. He climbed into the cockpit and noticed Stone asleep in the chair.
"Stone!." He said tapping the captain on the shoulder.
Stone woke up with a start. "Uh! What's the matter?"
"I need your help." Said Vinnie.
Stone ordered the computer to turn off the music. "If I can, I'll help."
"Modo's nephew is badly injured. The Doc doesn't know if he'll pull through. I was wondering if you had anymore of those robot things that you gave to me."
Stone shook his head sadly. "I'm sorry, I gave you my last canister."
"Can't you take some out of me to give to Rimfire" asked Vinnie.
Stone shook his head sadly. "No. The ones I gave you were temporary nanites. They enter a body repair any recent damage and then deactivate. The body then flushes them out. Being temporary the nanites don't need to be configured to the body's DNA. The nanites I gave to you will be long gone by now."
Vinnie stared down at his feet sadly. "So there's nothing you can do then."
"There is one possibility, but its very risky. I could try to transfer some of my nanites to this Rimfire but I'll have to reconfigure them to his DNA. It'll take at least a couple of hours to do and there is a good possibility that the nanites will malfunction That could lead to a fate worse than death."
"Can I do anything to help" asked Vinnie.
"I'll need a sample of his DNA, hair will do." Replied Stone.
"I'm on it!" Cried Vinnie as he rushed off.
Back in the stalker ship Rimfire was awake and in terrible pain. He lay back on the bed his eyes wide open. Sweat trickled down his face. Soft moans escaped his lips every time he breathed.
Vinnie suddenly ran into the room and bent over Rimfire. "Rimy, I just need to borrow these Sorry." He said as he pulled a few strands of hair from Rimfire's head. Task accomplished he raced back out of the ship.
Rimfire looked puzzled by Vinnie's strange behaviour. I must be hallucinating he thought shortly before losing consciousness again.
Meanwhile Stone had already extracted some of his blood, and purified out the life preserving nanites. Vinnie came running over with a handful of hair. "That's excellent. Put them in this container, but make sure you only put Rimfire's hair in it or it'll be contaminated." Said Stone holding out a small sample tube. "I need to recalibrate the nanites to Rimfire's DNA, otherwise they'll start altering it to look like mine and the result won't be pleasant." Stone put the sample into the DNA analyser in his ship and set it going. "It'll take at least two hours to sequence the DNA. I've already purified some nanites from a sample of my blood. I'll download the sequence data into the nanites when its ready and then we can go see our patient."
"So you'll be able to fix him up?" Vinnie asked hopefully.
Stone shrugged. "If all goes well, yes, but there are risked involved. I'll have to see what his chances of recovering are before I treat him.
Back at Limburger Tower, Cuda stood in Limburger's office. Karbuncle also stood in the office, a respectable distance away from the colonel. "I have failed. My men are dead, the mice are alive, the Alliance ship is gone and to top it all Limburger has disappeared. Camembert is expecting my report within the next ten minutes. If I tell him this I'll be busted back down to the non-coms." Cuda moaned.
Karbuncle thought for a while, an idea forming in his warped brain. "Why not tell our glorious leader that a battalion of Earth soldiers intervened on the side of the mice."
Cuda smiled. "That's it! You're a genius my dear Doctor. By telling Camembert the Earthers are actively engaging us it will prompt him into a full-scale invasion. My failure to complete the mission will be blamed on bad luck, how was I to know that Limburger had allowed the Earthers to know of our plans. Limburger would get the blame and I will be put in charge of the invasion."
"Shall I open a channel sir." Asked Karbuncle.
"Yes! My new second in command."
Behind the door of the secret passageway, running from the office to the base of the tower, Lawrence Limburger stood listening. Ha! This time Cuda has made a mistake. I'll wait until he makes his report and then I'll make a little report of my own, he thought to himself, looking at the recording device in his hands that had recorded everything that the Colonel and Karbuncle had said.
It was about four in the morning. The freedom fighters had cleared up most of the mess. The Last Chance was a lost hope however and Charley had arranged to stay at her mother's until the garage could be rebuilt.
The two spaceships had been camouflaged with large tarpaulins, obscuring them from view. If anyone walked past the place would just look like a building site. Inside the stalker ship most of the mice were fast asleep after the nights hectic labours. The new arrivals were especially tired due to the time difference between the two planets.
In her private cabin, Carbine sat at her desk writing up reports. She was struggling to keep her eyes open. Carbine turned to a knock on the door. Throttle walked in. He set a cup of hot brown liquid on the desk in front of her.
"What's this?" she asked.
"Just an Earth pick-me-up. Its called coffee, its a little bitter but its effective." Replied Throttle.
Carbine took a sip of the drink. "Uck! Its foul."
"Just close your eyes and down it. It'll do you good."
Carbine took the drink and did as she was told. "How do the humans drink this stuff?"
"I think its an acquired taste." Replied Throttle. "I don't mind it so much now."
Carbine smiled and looked at Throttle. "Ya know it was almost like old times, back on Mars, fighting along side ya again." She said.
"Yeah! It was nice to have some help Sweetheart."
The two mice had gradually edged closer to each other as the conversation went on. Carbine decided to take the initiative. Putting her arms around his neck she kissed him passionately.
"Its been a long time sweetheart." Said Throttle in his husky tone.
"Too long." Replied Carbine. "I've missed you Cutie-butt."
She snickered as Throttle cringed at his nickname, which earned him another kiss.
"Lock the door hot-stuff, we don't want to be disturbed." Said Carbine. By now her heart had started pounding and she was wide-awake. "Hell, that coffee is good. I'll have to take some back home!"
The Doctor changed the blood pack attached to Rimfire. It wasn't looking good. The laser blast had done a lot of damage and it looked like there was a lot of internal bleeding. Rimfire himself had become pale under his fur. His breathing had started to become irregular and shallow. This is it, thought Cyclone, Time to wake Modo up.
Modo woke with a start. "Uh! What's up"
"I think you'd better see to Rimfire. I don't thing he's gonna be with us much longer." Said Cyclone sadly.
"But can't you do something Doc."
Cyclone shook his head. "I'm sorry, I've done all I can."
Modo made his way over to Rimfire and sat down by the bed. He thought for a little while deciding what to say running his hand through his nephew's hair. Finally he spoke.
"Rimy, I'm really proud of ya. I know yer probably can't hear me but I just wanted to ya to know that yer made a differenceTo us all. I love ya nephew." Tears began to fall from the big mouse's only eye. Suddenly a hand grasped his shoulder. Modo looked up to see Stoker standing behind him.
"Mind if I join you big fella?"
"Nope." Said Modo sadly.
"He's a fine lad Modo. Done me proud. Probably the best freedom fighter I ever trained, saved my butt a few times as well."
"Yeah a real one mouse army." Said Modo trying to cheer up a little.
Rimfire suddenly opened his eyes. He looked up at his uncle and his mentor and smiled weakly.
"Thanks." He whispered. Dark closed in around him and he felt himself drift away.
Stoker reached over and closed Rimfire's eyes. "Sorry Modo" he said, lifting the sheet over Rimfire's head. Modo buried his head in his hands sobbing freely.
Stone sat in his flight chair dozing. The computer was taking its time. It had been over three hours since he had initially loaded Rimfire's DNA sample into the sequencer. Still it was much quicker than twentieth century technology where it took over fifteen years and involved thousands of labs just to sequence one human genome. He was woken up abruptly by the computer.
<ANALYSIS COMPLETE. DOWNLOAD TO NANITES SUCCESSFUL. LEVEL ONE DIAGNOSTIC COMPLETE. NANITES SHOW NO ABNORMALITIES AND ARE FUNCTIONING WITHIN NORMAL PARAMETERS>
Ready at last, thought Stone, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Loading the nanites into a hypospray, he climbed out of his ship almost falling over Vinnie, who was slumped against the landing gear, fast asleep. Entering the stalker ship, he found the Doctor. "Er, Doctor, I need to see a mouse called Rimfire. I believe he was badly wounded in the battle. I have some nanites for him, but I want to check on his condition first."
The doctor shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid you're too late. He's dead."
"What! When? How long ago?" Said stone hurriedly.
"About ten minutes ago." Said the doctor matter-of-factly.
Stone sighed in relief. "OK there is still time, but I've got to inject the nanites straight away. If he is dead for more than twenty minutes there is a risk of severe brain damage."
The doctor looked at Stone puzzled. "You mean you can reanimate him."
"Yes but I need to transfer the nanites now." Said Stone looking round almost frantically. "Where is his body?"
The doctor pointed to the still form covered by a sheet. Stone pulled back the sheet and pressed the hypo to the body's neck. The mechanism triggered with a hiss, diffusing the nanites across into the circulatory system. The nanites quickly dispersed to repair their new host.
The doctor watched on as Stone examined Rimfire's body with a hand held scanner.
"When should we see a result." He asked.
"Soon." Replied Stone. Suddenly Rimfire's chest jerked up as though he had been jolted by an electric shock. His heart began to beat once more. A sharp intake of breath signalled he was breathing once more. Stone grinned, a mad scientist expression on his face. "Its alive." He cried in Frankenstein fashion.
The doctor looked on amazed. "That's incredible." He gasped. "I'd better go give Modo the good news."
A few minutes later both Modo and Stoker came rushing into the medical room following the doctor. The smell of strong liquor was heavy on their breaths. They `d obviously been drowning their sorrows.
Stone sniffed the air. "Hmm. Scotch whiskey. I don't suppose you've got anymore on ya fellas."
Stoker pulled out a bottle from his jacket and passed it to Stone. "A friend of mine gave that to me for luck. It looks like it paid off."
Stone swished the contents of the bottle around. "To luck."" He said holding up the bottle and then gulping down a large mouthful of the burning liquid. "Aah that hits the spot." He said passing the bottle back to Stoker. "Tell me when he comes around. I'll need to talk to him." Stone left the stalker ship to go get some sleep.
Modo looked over at Stoker. "Stoke, Gimmie that bottle." Stoker handed it over
"To Stone." Toasted Modo taking a swig.
By mid morning the Martian camp was coming alive. Modo woke up laid on the floor by Rimfire's bed. Not far away, Stoker lay propped up against a wall. An empty bottle of scotch lay next to him.
Modo sat up rubbing his head. "Oh my head. Now I remember why I usually stick to root beer." He moaned.
Stoker opened his eyes and grinned. "Your just not used to it big fella." He said yawning.
"Uncle Modo! Stoke!" Called Rimfire sat up in his bed, glad to see his Uncle and Mentor.
"Uh, not so loud Rimy." Said Modo holding his head.
Stoker laughed. "Good to have you back lad. You were a gonna for a while there."
Rimfire looked at the bandage wrapped around his waist. "Its funny I don't feel any pain. I just feel a little hot."
Stoker nodded his head in acknowledgement. "Captain Stone injected you with something. Modo you stay here while I go find Stone. He'll be able to explain better."
Stoker trotted outside to find Stone. His ankle felt better. "Maybe I'm not as old as I thought" he murmured. Stoker found Stone sat in the pilot's chair of his fighter ship. As he approached the ship Stone's eyes opened.
"Captain Stone, I've come to tell you that Rimfire's awake and wanting to know how come he's healed up so fast."
"I'll come straight away" Said Stone. "Hmm, I wonder where Vincent is."
"I don't know. I haven't seen him this morning." Replied stoker, shrugging his shoulders.
"No matter. Its just last time I saw him he was fast asleep on the floor, curled up into a little ball. I was just wondering how he managed to sneak away without the ship telling me. He managed to sneak up on me earlier as well. The sensors must be malfunctioning." Replied Stone shaking his head.
Stoker and Stone made their way into the stalker ship. Rimfire was sat up in bed. He had already taken the bandage off and was busy removing the bits of dried blood from his fur with a comb. He looked up at Stone. "It looks like I have you to thank for saving my life." He said.
Stone smiled. "No problem." He said taking out his hand held scanner and scanning Rimfire. "Looks like the nanites have adapted nicely. How does it feel to be effectively immortal."
"What do you mean `immortal'?" asked Rimfire looking puzzled.
Stone sat down on the end of the bed. "The nanites I gave you are tiny machines that will go around your body fixing things. They are so small that they are able to enter cells and repair their DNA, thus rejuvenating them. Plus they are able to autonomously replicate so you've got them forever. That's barring any unfortunate accidents of course, such as flying into a star or being vaporised by a disrupter."
Rimfire sat mouth wide open. "Wow!" Was all he could say.
"That's not all. The nanites I gave you were advanced military models. They have additional programming. Your skeletal system is being replaced with titanium alloy making your bones much stronger. Your strength and stamina will also be increased as the nanites make your muscles more efficient. The only downside is that the nanites may malfunction, especially with them being in my body first. If they do it won't be pleasant, believe me. I'll need to keep monitoring you for a while, but the risk of malfunction actually decreases the longer you have them."
Rimfire was feeling a little overwhelmed by this information. He lay back down on the bed. He noticed he was still sweating from the heat he was feeling. "How come its so hot."
Stone smiled again. "It's not hot in here at all. Its just the nanites that generate heat as they work. It'll subside after a few hours. I would suggest that you get up and wander round a bit. Take your mind off it.
Rimfire grinned. "Thanks." He said extending his hand.
Stone took it and they shook. "Your Welcome."
Colonel Cuda sat at the desk in Limburger's office. He was waiting for Camembert to contact him. It was taking longer than he had expected. Suddenly the viewscreen came to life. Camembert sat on his throne looking at Cuda.
Camembert starred at Cuda for a little while before answering. "You were one of my most trusted allies Cuda. You have betrayed that trust."
Cuda cringed, a cringe a Ferengi would be proud of. "II don't know what you mean." He stammered
"You know what I mean alright. There were no Earth troops last night. The Biker Mice are still alive and all your commandos are dead. You have failed your mission and almost dragged Plutark into an unnecessary war.
Limburger stepped out of his hiding place into view of the monitor. "Ah. Limburger, I'm afraid you are going to have to do some damage control. You are to send Colonel Cuda back to Plutark at once and then try to clean up you end as much as possible. I'm afraid I am unable to send you any help. One thing this unfortunate incident has shown us is that the Martian mice are still a problem. I have just ordered an attack on their planet and I need all the men I can get. I don't see you having any problems anyway. You've had plenty of practice cleaning up messes over your years of failure. When you've finished, return to Plutark. As for you Cuda, Limburger spoke highly of you despite your failure and I agreed to give you a second chance. You'll be commanding the invasion fleet. The Martians are to be crushed. You are to capture as many as you can for slaves. The rest are to be exterminated."
Cuda grinned, rubbing his hands together in anticipation of his revenge. He would make those mice pay like never before. "I won't fail you this time your highness." He promised.
"You'd better not." Said Camembert ominously.
Charley had left the ruins of the garage in the early morning to visit her mother. Vincent had accompanied her in the pickup. She rung the doorbell and her mother opened the door.
"Charlene, Its good to see you, and Vincent too. How are you?"
"I'm ok." Said charley. Vincent nodded in agreement.
"Well come in then, I've got some waffles cooking."
Vinnie's face lit up. His stomach had been rumbling all the way from the garage and felt like it hadn't had any food in it for days.
"So dear, what happened to the garage." Asked Charley's mother as she led them into the kitchen.
"Limburger's commandos stormed the place and one of our friends demolished it on top of them." Replied charley
"That's a bit drastic isn't it. Was anyone hurt in the fight." Asked Charley's mother
"I'm afraid Rimfire was injured."
"What happened?" asked Mrs Davidson a worried expression on her face.
"Its okay mum, He was shot by one of the commandos but our friend, Stone, managed to heal him with some tiny robot things. So don't worry he's going to be fine. I'd have brought him round but he was still asleep."
Calmed down a little Mrs Davidson produced a huge plate of waffles and plonked them down on the table. Vinnie eyed them greedily."Help yourself sonny" said Charley's mother.
Vincent wasted no time in devouring the entire plate.
"My my, you are hungry, I don't suppose anyone's feeding all those freedom fighters back at your place either. Oh well, no matter, I'll just have to start cooking. I can drop off the food and see Rimfire at the same time." Another plate of waffles appeared before Vinnie. He grinned and started stuffing his chops again. Charley stared at him. Where does he put it all, she thought to herself.
Back at the remains of the Last Chance garage, Carbine had gathered everybody together in the stalker ship. "Right people, we may have won the last skirmish but Cuda escaped. We might not be so lucky next time. Cuda is a dangerous opponent and is probably plotting his revenge right now. Therefore I plan to launch a pre-emptive strike on Limburger Tower tonight. Our objectives will be to capture both Colonel Cuda and Lawrence Limburger, alive if possible. We will also attempt to neutralise any Plutarkian commandos still in the tower. Once the Plutarkian threat is eliminated we can return to Mars."
Charley pulled her truck over by the camouflaged spaceships. The back of the truck was fully loaded with boxes of food. Vincent quickly jumped off the back of the pick-up, where he had been holding the boxes on, and opened the truck door for Charley's mother. "Why thankyou Vincent, that's very kind of you." Said Mrs Davidson.
Charley looked over at Vinnie slightly surprised. Vinnie acting like a gentleman, I mean mouse. Now I've seen it all, she thought. "You never do that for me!" she called out at him indignantly.
"You can't cook like your mother." Replied Vinnie with a smirk on his face.
Mrs Davidson slapped him on the shoulder. "Ooh and I thought it was my good looks." She said laughing.
Rimfire sat against part of one of the walls of the Last Chance. He had been wandering around the remains of the garage, trying to take his mind off the heat in his body, as Captain Stone had told him to. The heat had almost gone now, his body was almost fully repaired. He stared at the sky. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't get used to it being blue and not red. Getting up from the floor he approached the pickup and it's three occupants.
"Rimfire, you're looking well" remarked Charley. She was telling the truth, Rimfire looked stronger and healthier than he did even before he was shot.
"Whatever this Captain Stone gave you it must be quite effective." Agreed Mrs. Davidson. "So how are you Rimfire?"
"Oh not bad." Replied Rimfire, looking at all the boxes stacked on the back of the pickup. His sensitive Martian nose had picked up the smell of hot-dogs and had made him realise that he was hungry.
"Hungry?" asked Mrs Davidson
"Starving." He replied.
"Well then, why don't you help Vincent to unload all these boxes and I'll sort you something special out."
Rimfire nodded. "Sure thing Mrs Davidson."
Ten minutes later all that could be heard from the was the munching of hot-dogs and the guzzling of roof beer as a bunch of ravenous freedom fighters went about demolishing the huge pile of food Mrs Davidson had provided.
At Limburger Tower Cuda stood talking to Limburger while Karbuncle fiddled with the transporter controls. "Limburger, I want to apologise for the way I treated you. I thought you to be a bumbling failure, but I see now that I was wrong. Its just this damn planet that's jinxed."
"Yes, as you have seen the business opportunities are many, but something always comes along to spoil my plans. And usually that something is three pesky furballs and an infuriatingly clever human."
Karbuncle looked up from the machine. "The transporter is ready, your Plutarkian best buddienesses."
"Well it looks like its time for me to go." said Cuda. "I wish you luck in dealing with those verminous rodents and thanks again for putting in a good word for me with Camembert."
"Your welcome my dear Colonel. I respect you too much to have you as an enemy. Its best we leave even." Replied Limburger. Turning to Karbuncle he gave the order to activate the transporter. Cuda disappeared in a flash of light.
"Have you set my plan in motion my dear double-dealing doctor." Snapped Limburger.
"Yes your flatulent feta-cheesyness."
"Excellent. Set the transporter and lets go before the Martians arrive."
The sun had set and darkness had descended on Chi-town. The headlights of heavily armed motorcycles floodlighted the remains of the Last Chance Garage. Carbine rode with Throttle so that she could give her orders better. She waved her hands giving the signal to move out. Charley rode Carbine's bike and Captain Stone rode the large black bike that had once belonged to the late Turbo and Astral. It had taken three hours for Rimfire to talk the bike into letting Stone sit on it without throwing him off. As a result Stone wasn't very happy riding it. As soon as they were all assembled the cavalcade of bikes set off for Limburger Tower.
From the roof of a nearby skyscraper Lawrence Limburger and his head scientist watched on as the Martians progressed towards Limburger Tower. Greasepit entered the room interupting their thoughts. "Uh, Mr Limburger."
"Ah Greasepit my esteemed ex-employee, you're working for me again. I want you to go over to the Tower and keep those mice busy." Limburger smiled his most hospitable smile.
"I'm sorry Mr Limburger but me an' the boys have decided we don't wanna work for youse no more unless we have financial compensations."
"My my, your language skills are improving, using words with more than three syllables. Very well I'll double your salary."
"I'm not stupid enough to fall for that one again. I knows twice nuthin is still nuthin."
"Amazing, even your memory is improving. Very well! In light of these new skills I'll triple your current salary."
"Whoa, that's more like it. Thanks boss, a wage at last. Three times nuthin, wait till I tell the boys. Look out youse hamsters, am gonna turns ya inta fur coats."
Limburger chuckled to himself as Greasepit left the room. "I wonder when he'll realise three times nothing is just the same as twice nothing." He said to Karbuncle
"A good strategy your cheesyness. Shall we depart."
"Yes. Farewell Earth, perhaps we'll meet again in the future when there will be no mice to oppose me."
Karbuncle pressed a button on his transporter remote and he and Limburger vanished.
The freedom fighters arrived shortly after Limburger's departure. "Looks quiet." Remarked Carbine.
"Yeah." Agreed Throttle. "But you can bet cheeseface is up to something."
Carbine got off the back of Throttles bike and started to divide up the fighters. "Vincent, Modo and Charley. You stay here and make sure no-one tries to sneak in or out. Throttle and Rimfire. You go with Stoker and check out the basement levels. Dagger you take the rest of the men and search the upper levels. I'm going up to the penthouse office."
The mice split up into their respective groups to search the tower.
Down in the lower levels of the Tower. Stoker, Throttle and Rimfire weren't having much luck finding Plutarkians. "It looks deserted." Commented Rimfire looking round the empty room
"Yeah, old fishface must 'a' figured we'd be coming for him." Answered Throttle.
While Rimfire and Throttle were talking, Stoker was busy looking behind a pile of crates stacked up alongside the far wall of the room. "Oh shit!" he moaned.
Rimfire and Throttle both looked around surprised "What is it Stoke?" asked Throttle.
"Everyone outside now! This place is wired up with explosives!" Shouted Stoker. He got his radio out. "Dagger, come in Dagger."
The radio crackled. "Dagger here."
"Get ya men outta here now. This place is wired with enough explosives to blow us all back to Mars."
Stoker got on his bike and began to make his way out of the basement followed by Throttle and Rimfire. But suddenly Throttle remembered something. "Carbine!"
Carbine had made it up to the top of the building without incident. She hadn't even seen a soul on the way up to the penthouse that housed Limburger's personal office. Cautiously she creeped into the office with her blaster drawn and was surprised to find that there was no one there. But suddenly the communication screen came to life. The smug face of Lawrence Limburger, sans mask, filled the screen. He stared at her for a second before recognising who he was talking to.
"Ah! General Carbine. Pity I was hoping it was going to be those other three. Anyway I'm sorry but as you can see I'm presently unavailable at this time. You know, land to steal, planets to mine etc. My esteemed colleague Colonel Cuda is also unavailable, He's taking a short break back on Plutark. However, I can't be neglecting my duties as a host. I always make an effort to entertain my guests, but what could possibly be entertaining enough for a military mouse such as yourself? I haven't got any exercise wheels handy, but I know, how about something explosive."
Carbine watched as he pulled out a small remote detonator and pressed the trigger. A loud bang reverberated throughout the building and it started shaking. Here ends the distinguished career of one Martian general, thought Carbine.
But the door to the office suddenly burst inwards. Throttle rode in on his gleaming black Martian bike. Grabbing Carbine with his tail, he popped her on the back of the bike and charged through the window. "Throttle! No! It's the 27th floor! Aieeeeeeeee" Screamed Carbine as the bike flew through thin air.
The group of freedom fighters, that were gathered a safe distance away from the Tower, gasped as they saw the bike leap from the top floor. It plummeted downwards at high speed. At the last moment the bike's rockets fired and it landed gracefully on the ground. The building collapsed behind them sending out a plume of dust.
Carbine sat with her arms wrapped tightly around Throttle's waist, her eyes wide open and her mouth agape in shock. "Baby, you don't have to squeeze so hard." Gasped Throttle.
Carbine blinked and suddenly realised what she was doing. She quickly released him, embarrassed at showing her fear.
Vinnie, Modo and Charley watched as Limburger Tower collapsed into a pile of rubble. They were about a hundred yards away from the other Freedom fighters, watching out for any Plutarkians trying to escape. Charley smiled as the Tower crashed to the ground. "Revenge is sweet, ain't it sweetheart" called Vinnie.
Charley nodded. "If I can't have my garage then Limburger sure as hell ain't having his tower."
A familiar voice interrupted their conversation. "Goons, take care of them mices and that mice lovin' dame." Greasepit called from his trike.
"Vinnie's adrenaline level exploded. "Yes!" he shrieked in delight. "Cannon fodder!" He spun his bike around bringing its weapons to bear.
The goons approached them menacingly. Modo readied his arm cannon, Charley pulled out a laser. However the the goon advance suddenly halted. They turned tail and fled, Greasepit following close behind.
Vinnie looked around to see the group of stern, we mean business, faced, freedom fighters gathered behind him, lasers drawn. "Oh man! You scared `em off. What am I gonna do with all this adrenaline." He wailed, his muscles quivering in readiness for action.
Charley sidled over to him and smiled mischievously as she whispered in his ear.
Vinnie blushed turning scarlet under his fur. Looking about nervously, he whispered back.
"Race ya home, bad biker babe."
"You're on" Charley replied. They raced off at high speed.
It was about an hour before dawn. The Martians had readied their ship for take off and it was time for everyone to say their final goodbyes. Rimfire shook hands with Throttle and Vincent before giving his uncle a big hug. "Its too bad we ain't got time to do some fishing this time uncle." Said Rimfire sadly
"Yeah well, there'll be other times lad. You look after yourself now."
"I will." Replied Rimfire.
Carbine stood talking to Throttle. "I'll miss you." She said sadly.
"I'll miss you too Carbine." He replied, holding her by the waist and kissing her passionately an move that gained cheers and whistles from the other freedom fighters. "Hopefully Limburger will be gone for good and we'll be able to return home."
Carbine nodded. "I hope its soon." Carbine suddenly noticed Stone hovering round in the background. "I'll just be a moment." She said to Throttle. "Captain Stone" she called
"General" replied Stone with a nod.
"I'd like to thank you for your help. Its been a pleasure working with you. We could do with more fighters like you on Mars."
Stone smiled. "That's kind of you General. Actually I wanted to talk to you about Mars. Unfortunately I am unable to return home, as my ship requires antimatter to travel at faster than light speeds. I used the last of it up getting here and I now have no way to replenish it. Without antimatter it would take hundreds of years to reach the rift and my ship would not be able to maintain life support for that length of time. So, as I'm stuck here, I want to go where I can make a difference. That's Mars. Besides that I need to keep an eye on Rimfire to make sure his nanites don't malfunction."
Carbine nodded. "Your help will be appreciated. As a general of the Martian armed forces I would like to make you an honoured citizen of Mars."
"Thankyou General, I'll see you on Mars." Said Stone. He shook hands with the Martian general and headed off to his ship.
Stone sat down in his flight chair and started to record a message.
Computer, open log.
"Personal log, Captain Mark Stone. The planets of this system are too primitive to be able to produce antimatter. I therefore have no means of returning home. I have talked to General Carbine and have arranged to help fight the Plutarkians, an alien race currently subjugating her world. I thus tender my resignation from the fleet. It has been a pleasure working for the Alliance."
Computer end log. Dispatch it to the co-ordinates of the rift.
A small rocket shot out of the Alliance ship, propelling the ship's records towards the rift. It would take over two hundred years for it to reach its destination, but when your immortal two hundred years is not that long to wait.
Modo, Throttle and Vincent approached the Alliance ship and called out to Stone. "We hear your going to Mars to help fight the Plutarkians." Said Throttle.
"Yes, I can't stand idly by and watch a culture be mercilessly destroyed by another. I have to help."
"Well good luck Captain" said Throttle.
"Its not Captain anymore, its just Stone."
Half an hour later, just before dawn, the Biker Mice and the Davidsons watched as the two ships took off for Mars. "I'm gonna miss `em." Said Modo.
"Yeah, its too bad they couldn't stay a little longer." Sighed Throttle.
"No way" said Vinnie. "Those guys cramp my style."
Charley burst out laughing. "Vinnie, if your ego gets any bigger your heads gonna explode!"
Que. Music: Wherever I May Roam by Metallica
Call me what you will.
But I'll take my time anywhere,
Free to speak my mind anywhere,
And I'll redefine anywhere,
Anywhere I roam.
Where I lay my head is home.
Part 2: Lost Paradise
The vast black of space went on and on and on. Two lonely starships punctuated the emptiness heading for a small pinprick of light. A red planet called Mars. The pilot of the smaller vessel sat in his flight chair mulling over the events of the last few days. His life had been changed irreversibly. Only a few days ago he had been one of the honored few to command a pulsar class starcruiser, the second most powerful class of ship in the Alliance fleet. At over a hundred miles long and home to over 150,000 people, they were equipped with powerful shields and devastating weapons, second only to the behemoth quasar class megacruisers. There were only fifteen pulsar class ships in the entire fleet. Stone's ship, the Icon, had been a monument to twenty-fifth century Earth technology. It symbolized the strength of the Alliance, the governing body of Earth and its colonies. At the sight of the Icon's majestic hull enemies would tremble in fear, knowing it was their day to die, whilst allies would rejoice at their salvation.
But that life was gone now. He was no longer in the Alliance. The Icon had been sent out to investigate a spate of commercial ship disappearances a few light-years from Sol. After two days of scanning the sector they had found nothing except a small energy anomaly. Stone had decided to take out a fighter to go investigate further, anything to relive the boredom of such a dull assignment. His second in command had warned him against such a course of action, but knew better than to press the issue when Stone was determined. Maneuvering out of one of the Icon's immense fighter bays, Stone headed for the anomaly, planning to get detailed sensor scans of it, even though it was doubtful that such a small disturbance could be responsible for a ship disappearing.
He soon arrived at the coordinates of the anomaly, his small fighter craft dwarfed by the Icon's mighty hull. There was nothing there visible to the naked eye, but Stone's sensors could detect a small ripple in the space-time continuum. He moved in closer, recalibrating the sensors for a more detailed scan. But suddenly the cockpit of the small fighter was bathed in bright light. Space in front of him had ripped open to form a rift in the fabric of space, its huge maw engulfing the tiny fighter. Coils of energy poured outwards into normal space. The fighter lurched.
<AFT STABILISERS HIT. RAISING SHIELDS>
Full reverse, engines to maximum.
The little crafts powerful engines had sprung to life but it was no good, the very fabric of space was being pulled into the rift and him along with it. Seconds later the mouth of the rift closed behind him. The ship was caught on an energy current, being dragged deeper into the anomaly. Consoles sparked and crackled as the energies of the rift overloaded their circuits. The display console in front of him exploded, blowing up in his face. He remembered seeing the console fascia flying towards him, then blackness.
He awoke sometime later. Twelve hours later the computer told him. It was a miracle that the computer was still online. He was back in normal space. A long-range scan confirmed that Sol was still where it should be, but where was the Icon and where were all the Alliance navigational beacons. He looked at the ship's status. Its energy levels were low. He had just two hours of life support left. A breach in the hyper-drive fuel pod had released most of the antimatter it contained. The release of antimatter must have somehow freed him from the pull of the rift to deposit him on the other side. However as a result of the breach, the fighter was far too damaged to attempt to go back through. Stone had a choice. Wait for help to arrive, while he slowly ran out of air, or make a run for Earth hoping that he had enough Antimatter to make the trip. He decided on the latter. If help did come, which would be extremely unlikely, they could find him on Earth.
Recording a message of what had happened and attaching the record of the ship's passage through the rift, he dispatched a buoy. He watched as it disappeared into the now small mouth of the rift. Having done all he could to let his people know what had happened to him, he set course for Earth. As it turned out he'd had just enough antimatter to reach Earth and to attempt a crash landing. Meeting up with three aliens and their human friend, he had become embroiled in a conflict against the oppressive Plutarkian Empire. Having already fought a battle on Earth, he was now heading for Mars.
Its funny, he thought, In my universe Mars was a dusty airless rock but, we terraformed it into a utopia. The Mars of this universe is becoming like Mars used to be in my universe. It will become A lost paradise. Stone sighed and changed position in his flight chair. At least I have an opportunity to try and change that, he thought, gazing out of the cockpit into the blackness of space. The little red pinprick of light had become a little bigger. Stone sighed again and tried to get some sleep.
Clouds of red dust bellowed upwards into the thin Martian atmosphere. The planet's low gravity exaggerated the effect. Two ships touched down on the surface. The dust began to settle, covering them with a thin layer of red. Stone got out of his fighter, stretching his legs. He looked around at the base he had landed at. There was little to see. Most of the base was constructed underground where it was protected from the huge sandstorms that frequently ravaged the planet. The main entrance was cut into the hillside to the right of him. A low wall ran round from the entrance to the end of the landing field. To say that this was the headquarters of the Martian Resistance, it didn't look much from the outside.
A stern looking male mouse greeted Stone. The mouse was heavily built and towered over Stone. He wore the same kind of uniform as Carbine. "Welcome to Mars. I'm Lieutenant Scorch. General Carbine has ordered me to brief you on our current situation. I'll then show you to your quarters."
Stone shook Lieutenant's the hand. "That would be wonderful. Lead onwards Lieutenant."
The door to the stalker ship opened with a hiss and the ramp extended to allow thirteen weary Martians to exit. Stoker walked down the ramp talking to Carbine. "So are you coming to the victory celebration." He said. "I know you're military an' all, but you're all welcome to join us. After all we are on the same side."
Carbine sighed. "Sorry Stoker, I've got these reports to get in. The others are free to go though."
"Forget reports! Let's celebrate!" cried Stoker exasperated.
"Stoker, they're important. Command needs to see them in order to build up the big picture. We need to plan for our next offensive. You freedom fighters think that war is just fighting and drinking. We need to work out our strategies if we're to win."
Stoker sighed. There had always been a rivalry between the military and the freedom fighters. Both sides had the same goals but went about achieving them in different ways. Stoker had been hoping to get Carbine to lighten up a bit. No chance, he thought to himself. However he decided to try a different angle. "OK Carbine, but try and come later on when you've finished. It'd really make my day." He said employing a bit of emotional blackmail.
Carbine stared at him hard. I'll give him this, he's stubborn, she thought to herself. "I might come down in a couple of hours if I get time. I'm not promising though."
Stoker smiled. "I'll see you there." He said happily.
The freedom fighters, consisting of Stoker, Rimfire, and two other Martians set off towards the bar. Carbine watched them go. She noted the expectant faces of the soldiers waiting at the foot of the ramp. "If anyone wants to join them, they'll be welcome to." She relented. With a small cheer the squad of soldiers set off after the freedom fighters. All except Dagger.
"Major, not feeling in a party mood?" asked Carbine.
Dagger shrugged. "I just thought I'd give you a hand with those reports, so you'll be able to get to the party ma'am."
"I can manage." Said Carbine stubbornly.
Dagger sighed. "Permission to speak freely ma'am."
"You've been nonstop ever since we got that message from Throttle. With all due respect ma'am, you need to wind down and relax." Dagger said matter-of-factly.
"Thank you for your advice, I didn't know Cyclone had been giving you medical lessons." Replied Carbine a little sarcastically.
Dagger just looked at her with a do as your told expression on his face. Carbine relented.
"Oh, come on then." She said making a face at him and stomping off towards the base. Dagger smiled and trotted after her. The general could be as stubborn as Stoker at times. However Dagger had vowed to himself that he would help her in anyway he could. Before the Plutarkian invasion Dagger had been a quiet and peaceful man. He worked in a laboratory as a technician and it was here that he had met his wife to be, Jay. Jay was a scientist working on ways to preserve the fragile Martian ecosystem and Dagger fell head over tail for her. It took him a while but eventually he plucked up the courage to tell her how he felt and he was amazed to find she felt the same way. A year later they were married. Jay had a baby boy which they named Cutter. Together they had been happy. That was until the Plutarkians came.
The Plutarkians were very thorough in their invasion. They went for the Martian's most valuable assets first. Its scientists. Without its scientists how would the Martians be able to fight back against the technologically superior Plutarkians?
It was a night Dagger remembered well. He sat at home with his wife and his baby son after a long days work. Jay had finally gathered enough evidence to prove that the Plutarkians were seriously damaging the planet's ecosystem with their mining. It should have been a night of celebration. Instead it was a night of tragedy. Someone in the lab had been working for the Plutarkians.
They came just before midnight. Five of them armed with lasers. Dagger at this time was a peaceful man. He didn't own a laser of even a ballistic weapon. But he fought for his family. Using his bare hands he killed one of the fish faced aliens picking up the Plutarkian's laser and killing another two, but a shout from one of the Plutarkians made him stop. When the Plutarkians had come he had made his wife make a run for it with their son. He had hoped that he could distracted the fish faces long enough for them to get away. Unfortunately the Plutarkians had got them. Two Plutarkians dragged his wife, still holding their son, before him. They told him if he put his laser down they wouldn't be harmed. Dagger dropped the laser in submission, begging them to let his wife and son live. Instead the Plutarkian laughed and shot his wife. The blast hit her head and she slumped forwards, her limp hands releasing Cutter.
Dagger cried out in anguish. Cutter sat on the floor by his dead mother a little dazed. His young mind had no idea of what was going on but he sensed his father's anguish and began to cry. The Plutarkian pointed his laser at the young child ready to fire but suddenly his eyes opened wide. A second later he fell to the floor a smoking hole in his back where a laser had drilled him. The other Plutarkian spun around to meet the new foe but he was too slow, a laser blast dropping him before he could fire.
Dagger rushed forward to comfort his son as a Martian soldier walked into the house. She was tall and slim built, her laser smoking. She had saved his son's life. It was then that Dagger vowed to help this woman. And what better way than to join the army where he could give the Plutarkians some payback for his wife.
Stone lay on the bed in his newly assigned quarters. Scorch had only just finished his briefing. It had taken an hour and a half for him to explain the Martian's situation. It wasn't good. The Plutarkians still held much of Mars. The Martians were squeezed into a few small areas, secret bases, underground shelters and that sort of thing. They were thus limited to making small attacks, guerrilla warfare and sabotage. To add to this problem the Martians were divided into two groups, the military and the freedom fighters. From the way Scorch had said the words freedom fighters, Stone could tell the two groups didn't exactly see eye to eye.
Stone glanced at his watch, Oh well, better get to the party, he thought. The rest of his thoughts were interrupted however by a loud crashing sound. The room began to shake and dust fell from the ceiling.
"Oh no, not again." Moaned Stone to no-one in particular.
This time however, the ceiling didn't collapse on him. He sighed with relief as the building stopped shaking just to start shaking again as another loud crash was heard. Stone decided to check it out, He had left his disrupter cannon in the ship, but had brought his pistol. He quickly loaded it into the quick-draw mechanism in his left sleeve. He checked the blades attached to his right forearm. They were working fine.
Confident that he was properly equipped to defend himself, he walked over to the door and opened it briskly. A fat and ugly Plutarkian soldier stood behind it facing him. Stone's lower jaw dropped in surprise as the Plutarkian raised its gun and fired.
Stoker stood by the bar, Rimfire at his side. He was recounting the tale of the battle at the Last Chance Garage to a mixed group of military and freedom fighters. He had just got to the part where Cyclone had taken out one of the Plutarkian commandos with a hypodermic of anesthetic.
"It was nothing." Shrugged the doctor remembering the incident.
In actual fact, Cyclone had misjudged the jump down from the roof of the building that he had been hiding on and fallen off his bike, losing his laser in the process. A Plutarkian soldier had grabbed him round the neck as he was trying to get up, intent on strangling him. Cyclone had panicked and grabbed the nearest weapon he could find. A hypodermic from his kit bag.
Stoker's tale was interrupted suddenly as the building began shaking. The doors at the far end of the room burst inwards and several Plutarkian soldiers burst in. A dozen more appeared at the other end of the room in a flash of transporter light. Shocked mice tried to draw their lasers but were cut down where they stood.
Stoker and Rimfire jumped over the bar top to land on the other side. But Rimfire noticed Cyclone still stood at the other side frozen to the spot. He grabbed him by the waist and hauled him over the bar top.
With all the commotion the Plutarkians hadn't noticed the three mice that were now hiding behind the bar. Stoker looked through a crack between the wooden panels making up the front of the old bar. The Plutarkians had overrun the place already and had begun filing prisoners out of the room. The bar mistress stood behind the bar with her hands in the air. She gave Stoker a sharp kick with her foot and then tapped it on a piece of carpet covering part of the floor. Stoker looked up at the cream furred female making an OK sign as she moved away to join the other prisoners.
If only I was a little younger, he thought looking at her pretty figure and her gorgeous long blond hair. Moving the bit of carpet, Stoker found that it covered a hatchway. Lifting it up he quickly dived down into the dark hole, followed by Rimfire and Cyclone. He landed hard on the unforgiving cold stone floor of wherever he was. Rimfire and Cyclone landed on top of him, knocking the wind out of him. He lay on the floor trying to get his breath back. It was pitch black, Rimfire had closed the hatch on his way down so that none of the Plutarkians would follow them.
Rimfire looked around the room they had landed in. He could see that it was probably once a wine cellar of some sort. A passageway led off into the distance from one of the walls. He looked round just in time to see Cyclone walk straight into one of the walls.
"Doc. Over this way." Rimfire called
Stoker was still laid on the floor. Rimfire noted the pained expression on his face, he, was obviously hurt. "Stoke. You ok?" He asked.
"Yeah lad, just give me a minute to get ma breath back. Shesh, its dark in here. I can't see a damn thing"
Rimfire looked at Stoker puzzled. "Its not that dark. I can see everything just fine."
Stoker raised his eyebrows. "Must be those nani-what's-its that Stone gave ya. It looks like your goin' ta have to lead us outta here lad cos all I can see is black."
"Me too." Said cyclone stepping on Stoker's hand.
"Aaarrh!" cried out Stoker.
"What is with you two. First ya fall on top of me, sticking ya bony elbows in ma belly, and then ya stand on ma bloody hand. Who needs Plutarkians with friends like you" Stoker moaned as the three of them set off down the passageway, Rimfire in the lead.
Carbine quietly walked to the end of the corridor and peered around the corner. It was all clear. She waved to the other three members of her little group. They quietly joined her.
Dagger moved in front of her. "My turn to go first." He said moving down the next corridor.
Carbine was left with the other two mice in her group, one male one female. The female was known as Diamond. She was just a couple of inches under six-foot tall and of slim build. Her fur was pure white. Her hair was also white but with a bluish sheen. Her eyes were crystal blue. Like her namesake she was one hard mouse. Carbine had been training her personally and had the utmost confidence in her. The male however was a different story. Known to everybody as Spit, he was a bit of a loose cannon. He was just over six-foot tall and of average build for a Martian. His fur was even darker grey than Dagger's and his short cut hair was black as night instead of darker grey. His eyes were also black and had a hint of craziness in them. The army had rescued him from a Plutarkian prison camp a few years back. The Plutarkians had tortured him for information but he wouldn't talk. So, they ripped his vocal chords out, while he was still conscious and without anaesthetic, as a lesson to others. Thus, he was now practically mute. A long scar ran down his throat from under his chin. The torturing process combined with what they did to him had left him slightly unhinged. As a result he could be unpredictable. In Carbine's eyes that made him a danger to them.
Dagger waved at them from his forward position. Carbine, Diamond and Spit made their way over to him. Dagger put his finger to his lips to silence them."Two Plutarks guarding the door round the corner." He whispered.
Carbine held up her laser. "We'll take `em by surprise." She whispered back to the Major.
The four mice burst round the corner, weapons blazing. The Plutarkians were nailed before they even had a chance to draw their blasters. Spit went over to the nearest Plutarkian corpse and spat on it in disgust.
Suddenly there was a flash of light to either side of the group of mice. Temporarily blinded by the brightness the mice shielded their eyes. Hold it." Said a voice.
Carbine's vision returned. She found that she was looking down the business end of a blaster. She dropped her laser to the floor. The other three followed suit. Spit let fly another glob of saliva, hitting the lead Plutarkian on the face. The Plutarkian growled and signaled to one of his men. A rifle butt made contact with the back of Spit's head. He yelped as he hit the deck. The Plutarkian he had spat on looked down at him. "You don't feel so clever now, do you rodent." The soldier gave Spit a vicious kick to the stomach, doubling him over. "Take them away for execution."
Stone awoke to find he was laid on the floor. He sat up and around. He was in a large room cramped with Martians. The Plutarkians must have stunned me, he thought, looking over at the dozen heavily armed Plutarkians guarding the exit. Stone checked his sleeves. The pistol was still there as were his blades. They must have thought me to be unarmed and mustn't have checked for concealed weapons, he thought, smiling at his good fortune. Still one gun against a dozen rifles was not good odds, he would have to bide his time.
Thinking of a plan he absently gazed up at the ceiling. He frowned. It looked much lower than it ought to be. Looking around he saw why. It was a fake ceiling, he could see a panel of it was missing about twenty metres from where he sat. There was a space between the true ceiling and the false one, the fake one being there to hide all the girders holding the real roof up. Stone smiled again; this was his way out. He shifted position so that he was crouched down, then with all his strength he leaped upwards. His nanite enhanced physique and the low Martian gravity aided him as he crashed through the fake ceiling. Grabbing a girder he pulled himself up and made his way to the nearest ventilation shaft.
The Plutarkian guards looked round just in time to see a pair of legs disappear into the ceiling. One of the guards blinked in disbelief. The others began to watch the rest of the prisoners much more closely.
Carbine, Dagger, Diamond and Spit were led into a small room. It was dark and dingy with just one small window. The guards forced the prisoners to kneel in a line facing the far wall of the room. They were then forced to put their hands on their heads and to wrap their tails around their ankles. Three Plutarkians stood in the room. One stood by Spit to the left; another stood by Carbine to the right. The third, the one spit had christened, stood behind them. It was this one that did all the talking. "You four are charged with crimes against the Plutarkian Empire. Your sentence is death, execution to be carried out immediately. Carry on men."
The two soldiers stood by the prisoners put their blasters against the heads of Carbine and Spit. "That one first." Said the third soldier pointing at Spit. The mute mouse closed his eyes. His teeth were clenched waiting for the inevitable. A bead of sweat ran down the side of his face. The soldier laughed and began to pull the trigger.
Suddenly the window smashed inwards as a black clad figure dived through it. Landing on his hands, Stone flipped over to land on his feet again by the third Plutarkian. Extending his blades, he plunged them into the soldier's chest. The blades cut all the way through, the tips sticking out of the Plutarkian's back. The other two guards turned at the sudden appearance of the intruder, bringing their weapons to bear. Stone triggered the fast draw mechanism in his left sleeve and his pistol popped into his hand. Using the impaled soldier as a shield he shot the Plutarkian nearest Spit, blowing a hole through his chest. The other soldier near Carbine fired his blaster but just succeeded in hitting the corpse shielding Stone. Carbine shoved into the soldier, knocking him off balance. Stone turned and fired, taking the Plutarkians head off.
The four releived mice got up off the floor while Stone extracted his blades from the fish he had speared. The tall one-eyed major came across and shook Stone's hand. "I owe ya one fella."
"No problem Dagger. Your just lucky I was passing this way." Replied Stone.
Spit came over to join Stone and Dagger after christening the body of the Plutarkian laid next to him in his own customary fashion. He grabbed Stone and bear hugged him, a big grin on his face. "I can see you're grateful." gasped Stone. "But thankyou would be quite sufficient."
Spit put Stone down and begun to sign at him.
"He's mute" Diamond stated. "He was just expressing his appreciation."
"Yes I can see." Said Stone, making a sign back to Spit. Spit gestured a thumbs up and grinned even wider than before.
Carbine interrupted them. "Well anyone got a plan."
Dagger was the first to speak. "I think the best course of action would be to get out of here and regroup with any other escapees. The five of us are no match for the five hundred or so Plutarks that must be here."
"I agree with Dagger." said Stone
"What about the prisoners." Asked Carbine.
"The Plutarks will transport them to a prison camp or a holding camp once they've secured this base. Our best bet is to gather our forces and attack that when all the prisoners are in the same place. At the moment they're distributed all over the place, we'd need hundreds of men to get them all out. Besides we need to asses the situation. We don't know how wide scale this attack is. It might be just this base thats been attacked or it might be worse."
Carbine considered the plan. "You're right. The Plutarkians may have decided to undertake a full scale attack. Very well, We'll head for the ships. They should be our best means of escape."
Rimfire walked down the passage slowly. Stoker held onto his tail as a guide. The doctor in turn held onto Stoker's replacement bionic tail. They had been walking for what had seemed like forever. The passage twisted and turned every ten yards or so and it was still pitch black. Several times the doctor or else Stoker had tripped over something and sent them all crashing into one another.
The tunnel turned to the left and at last light shone into the tunnel from an adjar manhole (mousehole?) Cover.
"Thank the Gods!" Cried Stoker as light shone down to illuminate the tunnel.
"Hey Stoke, gimmie a leg up. I wanna see what's goin' on outside." Asked Rimfire.
Stoker grunted as he struggled to lift Rimfire's weight. Hell he's heavy, he thought, must be feeding him too much. "Yo, Doc., Gimmie a hand would ya." The doctor held onto Rimfire's other foot taking some of the weight. Rimfire shoved the manhole cover back quietly and poked his head through.
Stone, Carbine, Dagger, Spit and Diamond crouched behind a small wall running around the base. About fifty yards away, a group of twelve Plutarkians stood guarding the two ships. Carbine sighed. "We're never gonna take that lot out."
However a movement suddenly caught Stone's eye. He smiled. "Rimfire, you beauty."
"What?" asked Carbine confused.
"Manhole cover behind the Plutarkians."
Carbine and the others peered over to a familiar orange striped head stuck out from a manhole.
"I'm gonna distract them." Said Stone. "Take out as many as you can. Hopefully Rimfire'll get the idea."
Stone sprang over the wall and began to walk towards the Plutarkians, carefully keeping himself out of the line of fire of his comrades. Rimfire saw him and gave him an ok sign,
"Hey sewage breaths." Called Stone. "Over here!"
The Plutarkians looked over and began to fire. Stone dived to the floor producing his pistol.
Carbine, Dagger and Diamond began to fire the weapons they had taken from the three Plutarkian soldiers Stone had slaughtered. They took out five of the guards. Stone took out another two with his pistol just in time to see Spit running past him, a nasty looking knife in his hand.
Rimfire jumped up out of the manhole and began firing his laser rifle. Four more guards fell. One guard remained. But he hesitated, who should he shoot first, the human with the gun, the mice with the guns or the mouse running towards him with the knife. Too late, Spit stuck him in the chest with his knife. The guard looked into his assassin's crazed eyes surprised, as the Martian withdrew the blade and calmly slit the guard's throat.
Stone got up from the floor and walked over to his fighter. It was a mess, panels had been ripped off, consoles were smashed and equipment was strewn everywhere. The computer was non-responsive. Stone sighed, the ship was grounded. He called over to Rimfire. Spit heard his call and came running over too. Looks like I've got a new friend, thought Stone. "My ships been damaged. I need to transfer as much equipment as I can to your ship. Can you give me a hand."
"Sure Stone." Replied Rimfire.
Five minutes later the salvaged equipment was stowed on the stalker ship, which had fortunately escaped damage. Stone pressed a small button below his command chair. A console popped up from the floor. Placing his hand against the screen he set the timer for five minutes. He left the ship and entered the stalker ship taking one last glance back at the sleek lines of the Alliance fighter.
The door to the stalker ship closed and its engines came to life. Slowly lifting off it headed away from the doomed base. The take off was seen by a troop off Plutarkians who ran over to the landing field just in time to be obliterated as Stone's ship exploded in a huge fireball. A small crater was left where it once stood.
About half an hour later the Stalker ship landed in a remote valley. "What now?" asked Stone
"Now we ride" replied Stoker, opening the ship's storage bay containing several Martian bikes.
Stone grimaced as he looked at the large black bike propped up in the corner of the bay.
"I suppose I'll have to ride that thing again." He said gesturing to it. "You know it doesn't like me."
Stoker grinned remembering the time on Earth when it had taken Stone three hours to get it to let him ride it. "It'll get used to ya if ya treat it right. It just misses Turbo and Astral. Go talk to it."
Stone cautiously walked over to the bike. It revved its engine menacingly. Stone tried to think of something to say feeling silly about talking to a bike. Suddenly the bike engine groaned a little jet of oil sprayed out of it onto the floor. Stone looked at it confused. Could it be that the bike was testing him. Had it broken itself to see if he would repair it properly. Deciding he was up to the challenge Stone bent down beside the bike and carefully repaired the leak talking to the bike as he did it. "Look bike you're last owners are dead. I need you to realise that and work with me." With the leak fixed Stone stood up next to the bike. It's engine had died down. Stone put his hand on the handle bars, the bike stood quietly. Cautiously Stone sat on the bike. Still the bike did nothing. "Now were getting somewhere." He said. "I think you need some modifications, Galactic Alliance style.
A couple of hours later the mice were ready to go. Stone sat on his new bike. He had replaced the laser cannon on the front with the ionic pulse cannon from his combat armour and the bike now sported the logo `Heavy Metal' tastefully inscribed along its sides.
Stoker smiled. "Let's rock."
"..And RIDE!" chorused the others. The eight riders tore away, heading for the nearest freedom fighter base.
Four Martians sat round a small table at freedom fighter base gamma-five. Ice slammed his fist down on the table. "Those Plutarkian skunks are gonna pay. If they've so much as laid a hand on my Satin I'll rip their guts out and feed them to the saber squid." The big white mouse was shaking with anger, quite unlike his usual cool, calm, collected self.
"Calm down Ice." Said Starline, a tan furred female. "We've all got family or friends at headquarters. We need to work out a plan."
"Starline's right, we gotta thick about this properly or else we'll end up as prisoners too." Said Hammer, a huge grey mouse
Ice put his head in his hands. The anger turned to sadness. "I'm sorry. Its just me an' Satin had a bit of a bust up before she left for headquarters. Its probably my fault she went in the first place. I'll hate myself if anything happens to her."
"Hey Ice, don't blame yourself Bro. Satin's a grown woman, she knows how to look after herself." Sidewinder said, the group's leader.
Suddenly the door burst open and two mice rushed in, Harmony and Strobe. "Hey! A group of bikers are headed this way." Shouted Harmony. "Make ready you lot."
"Positions everyone." Shouted Sidewinder.
The group of freedom fighters arrived outside the base "Looks deserted." Stated Stone looking around.
"Oh, they're here, somewhereProbably waiting to see who we are." Said Stoker getting off his bike and walking towards the entrance to the base. "Hello! We come in peace." He shouted.
Suddenly the sand erupted beneath Stoker's feet. He fell crashing to the ground. The eight freedom fighters found themselves surrounded by five other mice all brandishing lasers.
Stoker finally caught sight of the face of his assailant. "Sidewinder you old snake!" cried Stoker grappling with his old time friend.
"Stoker? My God, its really you. I'd thought you'd have killed yourself years ago." Sidewinder laughed out loud. "Its okay people, they're on our side."
The five Martians slowly lowered their weapons. "Lets go inside and you can tell us what ya doin' here." Said sidewinder.
"Yeah good idea Sidey, its freezing out here." Replied Stoker looking at his one time best friend. The years had been kind. It was hard to believe that Sidewinder was almost eighty years old. His fur was the colour of the Martian sands as was his long hair. Just a few small flecks of grey showed his age.
Ice turned round to the visitors. "You lot hungry?" he asked. He was answered with nods and murmurs of ascent.
"I'll go get ya something then." He replied.
Stoker and Carbine explained the situation to the base's inhabitants over a meal of fried saber squid and ale. "So you've not heard of anyone else escaping." asked Carbine
"No. You're the only ones so far." Replied Sidewinder. "Strobe's radioing the other bases now to tell them about you." He said pointing to the black mouse with a shock of white hair working the radio equipment in the corner of the room.
"We're gonna need to gather our forces together if we are to stand a chance of freeing the prisoners." Said Stoker still chewing a piece a saber squid.
Sidewinder frowned, thinking. "Well there's six of us here, plus gamma-four could probably provide us with another six. Apart from there the only other place to get people from is gamma-prime and that's miles away. It'll take `em a while to get here.
"Do you know where they're taking the prisoners."
Stoker sighed. "Not exactly, but I have a good hunch." He said not wanting to tell them.
"Spill it Stoker." Said Ice impatiently.
"What!" That place is worse the Galitepp!" Ice shouted distraught. He got up from his chair and left the room.
Starline followed him out. Ice sat looking out of one of the windows in the small kitchen. It faced out into the desert. Tears flowed down his face. He closed his eyes wishing that the pain would go away.
Starline walked up behind him. "Ice?"
"What?" He said, not turning to face her
"Look Satin will be alright, she can look after herself."
Ice finally turned to face her. "But its Magderaad, the place where if you see the inside, you don't live to talk about it. It's an impenetrable fortress. I'm never gonna see her again." Tears flowed free down his cheeks. Starline couldn't bear to see her friend this way. She held him in her arms as he buried his face on her shoulder.
"I promise I'll help you get her back."
Six freedom fighters arrived from gamma-4 early the next morning. Another twenty were due from gamma-prime in the evening. Carbine had radioed a small military base located near headquarters. In fact it was little more than an observation post staffed by three soldiers. They had been missed by the Plutarkian invaders and had been observing the base. She found out that Stoker's hunch had been right, the prisoners were being transferred to Magderaad. One of the three soldiers had followed a transport to the prison camp. Carbine slumped in her chair. Depression had claimed her. Here she was away from the army with a bunch of undisciplined misfits, about to try free a couple of thousand prisoners from an impenetrable fortress. Her only consolation was that Dagger and Diamond were here with her. At least they knew how to follow orders.
Rimfire was wandering the base aimlessly. He'd had a lot on his mind since yesterday. The incident in the tunnel had made him wonder exactly what the nanites were doing to him. He didn't fell any different in himself, but he kept noticing little things. He could hear things that he hadn't heard before, insects scrabbling in the sand, the sound of sand moving in the wind. His eyesight was getting better too. Not only could he see in the dark but he could also see much further away than he used to be able. He spotted Stone sat with his eyes closed in a corner of the base and decided to find out as much as he could about the little machines keeping him alive.
"Captain Stone, am I disturbing you." He asked quietly.
Stone opened his eyes. "Its just Stone, and no you aren't disturbing me, I was just going over past events.
"Can I speak to you, in private." Asked Rimfire.
Stone stood up and smiled. He'd been expecting this. "Sure." He said.
Rimfire led Stone outside away from the now packed freedom fighter base. He took a deep breath. " Back at headquarters the tunnel that me, Stoke and the Doc escaped from was pitch black. Stoker told me he couldn't see anything at all, yet I could see everything as clear as day."
"Okay, what do you want to know?" asked Stone.
"I want to know more about what the nanites have done to me."
Stone thought for a moment before speaking. "Alright. Let's start at the beginning. When I injected you with the nanites you were dead. The nanites entered your bloodstream and dispersed. Once in your body they begin to replicate straight away. Their first priority is to get your heart and lungs working so that your brain is fed with oxygen. Once that is accomplished they migrate to any sites of injury and repair them. That usually takes a couple of hours.
"Once your body is fully operational again the nanites then progress to the next stage of their programming. They start by replacing your skeletal system with a titanium alloy. This can take up to two or three years for them to accomplish depending on your diet. Thus your bones are much stronger which is good as nanites find it very difficult to mend broken bones. The titanium endoskeleton they form also protects your internal organs from damage. It'll absorb most energy blasts and its also bullet proof.
"The nanites also increase your muscle strength by weeding out the weaker cells so that the stronger cells dominate. They also modify your muscle cells slightly making them more efficient. They also increase your lung capacity and the efficiency at which your blood haemoglobin is able to take up and release oxygen.
"Your senses of hearing, smell and sight will all become enhanced as the nanites modify certain cells and take your existing cells up to their top efficiency. Your memory will be improved too. You should find that eventually you'll be able to `play back' images of what's happened to you. One last thing, because the nanites are constantly repairing your cells you won't age. You may fill out a bit but you'll stay looking basically as you do now for as long as you live."
"You mean I could live to be a hundred and fifty and still look about twenty." Asked Rimfire.
Stone chuckled. "That's right. I look around twenty-five. Its my birthday in four days, I'll be two hundred and eighty seven."
"Wow 287. How long has the oldest person lived for on your Earth."
"Well the nanites were developed in 2037 by a scientist called Robert Thorn. He tested them on himself first and he's still alive today. In fact he's a fleet commander in the Alliance. He was born in the latter half of the twentieth century so that would make him over five hundred years old."
"What about, you know, having children. Won't the nanites get passed onto the child." Asked Rimfire.
Stone shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid not. The nanites are tailored to you body only. Once they leave they deactivate and break up. I'm sorry but your likely to outlive your children and everybody else you know for that matter. Except me of course. Back home everyone's enhanced so we rarely have to deal with death. Here it's a different story. Have you got anymore questions?" asked Stone.
"No. That's it." Replied Rimfire.
That evening forty riders were assembled outside gamma-5. Carbine stood at the front and addressed the crowd. "Listen up fighters. I've radioed the military base at Hamden. They've got transport ships standing by. However they said that they weren't able to assist in the attack. Infact they told me that I was crazy to even think of going anywhere near Magderaad and as a general I should know that. So you lot better prove `em wrong and win or I'll be very annoyed."
"You'll be dead more like." Someone commented.
Carbine ignored the comment and continued. "The plan is to assault the camp at dawn. Our intelligence reports say that the Plutarkians are going to be shipping the prisoners out to Plutark in the afternoon so we can't attack any later. I'm afraid we'll have to ride through the night to get there. Once we arrive Stone will take down the wall. Sidewinders group will take out the nearest two gun towers, gamma-4 will take out the other two. As soon as the wall is down the rest of us charge in and take out the rest of the guards. Once we've secured the camp Hamden will send its transports to collect the prisoners. Is everything clear?"
Carbine was answered by nods of ascent and mumbled affirmatives. She could tell that the plan was not very popular and her being military was making it less popular. She sighed and looked down at the floor, this was going to make things worse but it had to be done. She had something to tell them that they wouldn't want to hear. "I'm afraid I've got some bad news for you. The base at Hamden also told me that the Plutarks have launched a full-scale military invasion. They've taken a large number of our population centres already. That includes the capital."
Loud murmurs circulated among the assembled fighters. Carbine wiped away a tear. She was thinking about the garden they had been growing. It was just starting to grow properly, a ray of hope for Mars' battered ecosystem. Now it would be gone.
It was dawn. The sun had not yet crept up into the sky. The group of forty freedom fighters had assembled on a hill overlooking the dreaded Magderaad prison camp. Stone studied the thick steel walls surrounding the camp.
"Can yer blast through them?" asked Stoker.
Stone smiled. "Now problem for my little baby here." He said, patting the pulse cannon mounted on the front of his big black bike. "I just hope the recoil doesn't take me out as well."
Carbine looked at the heavily fortified structure frowning. "We need a decoy to shift the Plutark's attention away from the attack point." Carbine turned to a tapping on her shoulder. Spit gave her a big toothy grin pointing at himself. "Alright, your it. Just make it simple okay." Said Carbine with a stern look on her face.
Spit made the OK sign and smiled. He turned the dark blue bike he was riding around and tore off to circle around the back of the camp so as to not give the rest of the freedom fighters position away. A few minutes later the fighters watched in amazement as a lone rider rode round in circles at the camps far perimeter, popping wheelies and taking pot shots at the Plutarkian guards.
Stone smiled impressed. "You know something. I'm beginning to like that guy. He may be a little unhinged but he's a bloody good fighter."
"He's just like Vinnie. Only quieter." Said Rimfire. " He's giving the Plutarks a hard time though."
By now all the Plutarkian guards had migrated to the far end of the camp, pouring laser fire down at Spit, who was still dancing around on his bike.
"Yeah. Well seeing as he's got their attention, I say let's give `em a show. Here fella." Said Stone passing Rimfire his disrupter cannon. "You're with me. Let's ride!"
Stone raced off down the hill towards the camp. Rimfire looked at his new toy and grinned. He gunned his bike's engine and raced off after Stone.
Carbine turned to Stoker. "Well if you're ready old timer."
"Who you calling old." Replied Stoker indignantly popping a wheelie and racing down the hill after Stone and Rimfire. Carbine smiled as she raced down the hill after him closely followed by the other freedom fighters.
Stone aimed straight for the wall. Here goes he thought, firing the pulse cannon. He pushed the bike to full throttle at the same time to try and lesson the recoil. A huge discharge of energy flew towards the thick metallic wall of the camp. The impact blew the thick steel wall apart, large chunks of metal blew inwards or were vaporized, leaving a gaping hole in the camp's defences.
Stone's bike flipped over backwards with the recoil. The bike's rockets fired automatically sending the bike into a somersault, landing perfectly on its wheels. "Wahoooo! Now this partnership is really getting somewhere." Cried Stone as he righted himself on the bike.
Rimfire caught up to him and gave him a high five.
"That was awesome Bro."
"Oh, just the usual greatness." Said Stone smiling. "Let's go kill us some fish."
Extending the blades on his right arm, he rode into the camp closely followed by Rimfire.
The Plutarkians had been caught by surprise at the far end of the camp where they had been trying to shoot Spit. The freedom fighters were now gathered behind them and the Plutarkians had little room to hide. The gun-towers were the main danger, but already two teams of mice were climbing up the superstructure to take out the soldiers inside.
Starline, Harmony and Ice began to climb the first gun tower. Sidewinder, Hammer and Strobe were busy climbing the second. Suddenly a burst of red laser fire came from the top of the tower they were climbing. It hit Hammer in the back and he fell from the tower. Starline, Harmony and Ice looked on alarmed. They made their way up to the top of the gun tower as quick as they could, but not quick enough. Two more bursts of laser fire spurted from the tower hitting Sidewinder and Strobe.
The three mice burst into the top of the gun tower. "You bastards just killed our friends." Growled Ice to the two surprised soldiers in the tower. Aiming his laser he shot them both.
Harmony quickly grabbed the laser cannon mounted on top of the tower and used it to blast the other gun tower into atoms.
"Harmony you stay here and pick off fish faces, Me an' Ice'll see if we can do anything for the others." Said Starline as she started to climb back down the tower to tend to her fallen comrades.
A Plutarkian soldier stormed out of one of the barracks, near the first gun tower, his weapon blazing. Rimfire calmly blasted him with the disrupter cannon taking most of the building out as well. He smiled to himself. This new gun was cool. Spotting a Plutarkian bunker, he fired the disrupter again, blowing it apart. He didn't notice the Plutarkian crawling out of the rubble of the building he had just destroyed. The Plutarkian aimed the pistol at Rimfire, ready to fire.
A motorbike tyre suddenly ran over his head. The Plutarkian lay dead on the floor, the laser still in his hand. "Watch yer back hotshot." A tan female mouse called from her bike.
Rimfire turned around, noticing the Plutarkian laid on the floor by her. "Thanks Starline, I owe ya one."
"Anytime cutie." She answered.
Rimfire blushed. Suddenly a Plutarkian rushed out of the building opposite them both, guns aiming for Starline. Rimfire blasted him with the disrupter, taking out another building in the process.
"I guess were even." Said Starline a little shocked. Revving her bike she set off for the other gun tower where her friends lay.
Dagger was a professional soldier. He could tell this battle was already won. He decided to get the prisoners free just in case any of the Plutarks decided to take revenge on them. At least if they were free they could fight back. Sneaking round the back of the camp he made his way over to the prisoners. They were being held in a large open compound with no shelter. A lonely guard stood watching them. Dagger came round the corner and blasted him. He made his way over to the gate and blasted the chains keeping it closed. Noticing a familiar form, his heart stopped, Cutter, his son, lay on the floor by the fence. He rushed over.
"Cutter, is that you?"
The young grey mouse opened his eyes much to the relief of his father.
"Dad, I knew you'd come." Said Cutter quietly.
"What are you doing here. You weren't at headquarters. You were meant to be at Alpha seven.
"They took Alpha seven as well." Said Cutter slurring his words. " Killed most of the soldiers and brought the rest here."
Dagger helped his son off the floor. Cutter had difficulty standing. "Son, what's the matter?"
"I was causing trouble for the Plutarks. They shot me with something."
Dagger looked down at his son's leg. A small dart was stuck in his thigh.
"Damn Plutarks have drugged ya!" Said Dagger upset. He pulled out the dart and threw it to the ground in disgust. He picked his son up and carried him out of the compound, fighting his way through the crowd of prisoners spilling through the gate. But Cutter tugged on his shirt insistently.
"Dad, I think there's more prisoners in the far building. I think they're meant to be the really important ones." Said Cutter; his words becoming less slurred as the effects of the dart wore off.
Dagger set off towards the building. Two Plutarks suddenly burst out of it. Dagger reacted on instinct. He dropped his son to the floor and grabbed his laser. A laser struck him in the shoulder. He fired back dropping one of the Plutarkians. Another blast hit him, this time in the chest. Dagger felt his knees go weak as he started to collapse to the floor. He managed to squeeze off another round taking out the other Plutark.
"Nooo!" screamed Cutter. The effects of the drug completely gone as his body reacted to his father being shot. "Dad! Dad, talk to me, don't die."
"Sorry son." Dagger whispered weakly. "I don't think I have a choice in the matter."
Stone noticed the tide of prisoners coming from the far side of the camp and made his way over to them. Coming round the corner, he noticed Dagger laid on the floor. Stone quickly rode over. "Dagger Bro. What happened?"
Dagger beckoned Stone closer. "Plutarks took me by surprise. More prisoners in far building." He gasped.
"Just take it easy fella. We'll get them out." Said Stone. He looked at the wound in Dagger's chest. There was no hope of saving him
Dagger grabbed Stone's arm and pulled him closer. "Stone."
"What is it fella?"
"Do me one last favour. Look after my son. He's no-one else left."
Stone looked over at the fifteen-year-old crying at his father's side.
"No problem Dagger." Stone said with a sad smile. Dagger had become a good friend in the few days they had known each other.
Dagger looked over at his son. "Go with Stone, son, and do me proud. Make Mars free again." The Martian major's head fell back, his eyes closed.
"No. Dad, wake up, you can't die. I need you."
Stone stood up and looked down on his fallen friend's body. "Goodbye friend." He turned to the boy. "Come on lad we've got prisoners to free."
But Cutter still stayed by his father's side. Stone tried to think of something inspiring to say. Finally he thought of something. He bent down and held the boy's face up. "You're fathers gone you've got to accept that." He pointed to the body. "This is just an empty shell of what your father once was. He'll always live inside of you. Come with me and make your father proud of you."
It worked. Cutter slowly got up from the floor. "I wanna free Mars." He said determined.
"Then let's go." Called Stone from the seat of his bike. Cutter climbed on the back and they sped away to free the rest of the prisoners.
Half an hour after the initial attack had begun and the camp was securely in Martian hands. The majority of the Plutarkians had either been shot by the freedom fighters or bludgeoned to death by angry prisoners. Thus their bodies littered the camp. A few had managed to escape into the desert, but without transport they would be squid food.
The Martians had also lost many. Stoker stood by the body of his old friend, Sidewinder. He'd been hit as he climbed up one of the towers. The bodies of two of his comrades lay nearby. "Ah guess ah managed to outlive ya after all Bro." He said shedding a single tear. He turned away. He'd seen too much death in these later years.
Carbine stood by Dagger's prone form. Cyclone was busy trying to bandage her arm where she'd been hit with a Plutarkian laser. Cutter stood nearby. "Your Father was a good soldier Cutter, one of the very best. You should be proud of him." Said Carbine.
"I am." Cutter replied.
"So what do you plan to do now. The army could use you."
"I'm sorry but I'm gonna go with Stone. My father asked me to."
Carbine nodded "Well I wish you luck. Your father's bike is by the far wall. He'd want you to have it."
Ice wandered the camp in panic. "Anyone seen a dark grey female with long black hair. Blue jeans, green blouse. Ring on her finger like this." He asked a group of freed prisoners frantically, holding up his own ring to show them. The prisoners shrugged Ice rushed off to search somewhere else. He had just turned a corner when a voice came from behind.
"Hi there hunk. So ya came after me ya big white lummox."
Ice spun around. Satin stood there in front of him. He rushed over and hugged her madly, tears of relief falling from his eyes. "Satin! I thoughtI thought I'd lost you. II was looking for you everywhere and I couldn't find you. II love you." He stammered.
Satin patted him on the back. "Hey! Its okay fella. I'm alright. Now stop ya crying. I can't be goin' round with an unmacho mouse."
Ice smiled. "I'm sorry about the things I said before. I didn't mean any of it."
"I know. Let's just forget about it okay?" She put her arms around his neck and they kissed.
Rimfire stood talking to Starline. "Thanks for saving ma butt back there." He said to her.
"Hey! You probably saved mine as well, taking out that Plutarkian like that.
"Yeah, I guess we make a good team."
"Hmm. I just hope wherever we end up has a nice soft bed and a bit of privacy." She said with a smirk.
Rimfire blushed again. Starline took charge and kissed him. "My hero." She said.
"Hmm. My heroine."
The troop transports arrived an hour later to take the freed prisoners back to a safer area. Stone stood by the entryway to one of the ships. "So you're not coming with us." Said Carbine.
"No I've looked through some of the records in this camp. There are some places I'm going to have to visit. I'll keep a com-link in case I need a transport to pick up any more prisoners."
"Very well. Good luck Stone. Oh! Here."
She threw a small insignia over to him. He caught it. It was the Martian army symbol with stars underneath it."
"What's this?" he asked.
"Just in case you have any trouble with the military. You're now a captain again." She replied.
"Thanks but I don't plan on following any orders." He laughed.
"Didn't think you would captain. Oh well, Live long and prosper, or whatever you say in your universe." She said making the Vulcan sign out of Star Trek.
"Peace and long life." Stone replied chuckling as he returned the gesture. "And make sure you kick some Plutarkian butt."
"You too captain. I'll be expecting frequent reports about you."
Stoker walked over to them. "I've just had a word with Rimfire. It seems he's intent on going with you Stone."
"Its his choice." replied Stone
Stoker smiled. "Just make sure you look after him or else you'll have Modo coming after you."
"I'm sure he'll be fine."
The transports took off for the military base. A group of nine freedom fighters watched as they went. Stone sat on his large black bike studying a map. Rimfire and Diamond were studying it too. Diamond had stayed at Carbine's request to try and keep a military element to the group. Spit had also decided to stay. He sat tapping his fingers on his bike in boredom. Cutter was busy working out what all the buttons on his father's bike did. The rest of the group was made up of the survivors of gamma-5, Starline, Ice, Satin and Harmony. Going home was too painful without the other three, so they had decided to stay.
The group watched as their three unofficial leaders argued over the map. Finally they came to a decision.
"Yep looks good."
"That's where we go first then. Let's roll people. Things are gonna change around here."
Que. Music-: Praying For A Change by Paradise Lost, Draconian Times.
Approaching a silence, a blur of subsidence
Time may heal all troubles, is that what I've found?
Joy entices all till deaths lonely shroud, but I know, its forever
Praying for a change
Our lives leading onwards, the essence is stronger.
Memories of life drifting further away, I must doubt that where
There's a will there's a way, but I know, its forever
Praying for a change
Life is all the pain we endeavour.
Part 3: Damage Incoprperated
Note: This takes place 18 months after part 2
Earth 2499 AD. It is the last year of the twenty-fifth century. Deep in thought, a man sits alone at a table in Ali's Café. Outside, skimmers zip past, weaving between the skyscrapers, heading for the suburbs of England. The whole country is now just one huge mega-city. Its tower blocks rise up over four miles from the ground. Their foundations run deep into the ground below tapping into the Earth's geothermal energy. The energy they take is used to power the buildings and to heat up the huge `gardens' at their summits.
It begins to rain outside as the weather control system kicks in. The man looks away from the digitised newspaper he is reading and looks at his watch. The rain is bang on time as usual. The man looks about twenty-five as do most of the people living in the Alliance. His features are unremarkable but command an air of respect. Taking a slurp of his freshly replicated tea he goes back to reading the paper. His blue eyes scan the pages of the computerised paper, reading the articles of interest to him. A skirmish with raiders in the De Soto system, a new eye enhancement available, a new class of civilian cruise ship designed
A chiming noise begins to come from the man's pocket. He continues reading the paper trying to ignore the com-link that is making the irritating noise and hoping it will stop soon. Brushing a hand through his thick brown hair he lets out a yawn before taking another drink of his tea.
"Fleet commander Thorn?" A voice startles him. He looks round to see a dark lieutenant stood behind him.
"What?" he says in an irritated tone and taking another drink of the tea.
"Your presence is requested at orbital command Sir."
Thorn makes an annoyed face at the lieutenant. "Oh go away. Tell them you couldn't find me. I'm on leave and I don't want to be disturbed."
"I'm sorry sir but Fleet Co-ordinator Jarrow insisted that I escort you to his office personally."
Thorn frowned. "Jarrow? Last time he wanted to see me Stone had just been lost." He downed the rest of the tea and got up from the table. "Lead the way lieutenant." He said suddenly interested.
The lieutenant pressed a button on the back of his hand. "Mojabe to transport control, open a portal." The air in front of the two men began to move as the fabric of space ripped open to form the transport portal. Thorn and Mojabe stepped through disappearing from the surface of Earth.
Stepping out of the portal, Thorn found himself in a large grey walled room. One of the many transporter rooms in the giant space station that orbited the planet Earth. Known as orbital command, this was the nerve centre of the Galactic Fleet, where the co-ordinators planned their strategies for holding the Alliance together.
"This way sir." Said the lieutenant stepping through the doors at the far end of the room.
Thorn followed. A few corridors and doors later they arrived at Jarrow's office. "Go straight in Commander. The Co-ordinator is waiting for you." Said the secretary sat at the desk outside the office.
Thorn stepped through the door into the office. Jarrow looked up from the data pad on his desk. His young features were unable to disguise his old veteran image that he so loathed.
"Ah Commander. Long time no see."
"Like wise Co-ordinator." Said Thorn extending his hand to shake Jarrow's.
"Well sit down Robert." Jarrow said gesturing to the empty chair on the other side of his desk. "I take it you've figured out why I sent for you."
"I should hope its something to do with Captain Mark Stone, formally of the Icon?"
"Correct. A buoy came through the rift a couple of days ago. Observe." Jarrow pressed a button on his desk. The lights in the office dimmed and a holographic screen descended down the left wall. An image formed. Stone sat in his fighter. It was obviously damaged.
"This is Captain Mark Stone of the Alliance star-cruiser Icon. I am in need of assistance. I have passed into some sort of parallel universe through an inter-dimensional rift. My ship has been damaged and I am unable to navigate back through. I am dispatching this buoy in the hope of rescue. I have included a copy of the ship's passage through the anomaly. Stone out."
The image of Stone cut off and a quick flash of computer data burst across the blank screen. Jarrow turned the screen off and the lights brightened.
"So he made it through." Commented Thorn.
"Yes but whether he's still alive is another matter. I want you to find out."
Thorn frowned. "The Paradise Lost is still being refit. She won't be ready for another three years. I might remind you this is my first shore leave on Earth in over forty years."
"Yeah and your hating every minute of it commander." Smiled Jarrow.
"True, but it's the principle." Replied Thorn with a small smile, not really serious "What about a ship, the Amorphis is due in at Earth soon. A pulsar class vessel would be sufficient".
Jarrow smiled to himself. You're not gonna like this, he thought "You won't be taking the Amorphis. She's needed elsewhere. We've prepared a nova class vessel for you."
"Nova Class!" Replied Thorn with a hint of distaste.
"It's called the Magnum." Continued Jarrow. "You are to rendezvous with the science ship Faraday. They have found a way of artificially widening the rift. Your mission is to retrieve Stone."
"When do I leave." Asked Thorn.
Thorn frowned. "You know its been over a year and a half since Stone disappeared. What makes you think he's still alive."
"You know Stone as well as I do commander. In fact you should know him better. He's just a lucky son of a bastard."
"Too true. But luck sometimes runs out, even for bastards like me." Called out Thorn as he left the office, heading in the direction of the transporter.
Nova class vessels were the smallest class of capitol ship in the fleet. At just under twelve kilometres long the Magnum was like a barnacle on the back of an whale when compared to Thorn's usual ship, the Paradise Lost, a quasar class megacruiser. Still nova class vessels were quite powerful for their size and were not to be trifled with. Taking just a couple of years to build as opposed to the nineteen years to build a pulsar class ship or the forty two years needed to build a quasar class, the nova class had become the backbone of the fleet.
The Magnum was quite an old vessel. It was in its one hundred and twenty-second year, a veteran of the galaxy war against the Consortium. It's inside was however far from old. Its recent refit had finally been completed. A brand new state of the art computer core now ran the myriad of new systems, designed by the Alliance's top scientists. A new crew occupied its interior, the old one having moved on to the brand new, pulsar class vessel, The Draconian Times.
Thorn stepped onto the bridge. The Magnum's Captain rose from her command chair. Thorn waved at her to sit down. "Your report please, Captain Yang." Asked Thorn, looking at the Asian captain.
"All systems ready, course plotted. We will get underway in two minutes when orbital command clears us for hyper-drive."
Thorn nodded. "Captain, may I ask a favour of you? Would you mind putting the Paradise Lost on the screen? I'd like to see how her refit is progressing."
Yang waved at the ensign manning the operations console. The viewscreen changed to show the Paradise Lost. The magnificent vessel dominated the tiny orbital spacedock attached to her front. The ship was strikingly reptilian in appearance. Its smooth sleek lines were almost delicate looking, disguising its rugged inner strength.
Thorn smiled. It was rare he ever got to see the view of his ship from the outside. The fleets flagship, his ship. He used to dream about commanding such a ship when he was young, before he developed the life extending nanites the Alliance now depended on.
"Commander Thorn, we are ready to depart."
Thorn nodded again. "Carry on Captain. I'll be in my quarters reviewing the data on the Faraday's discoveries. Inform me when we arrive."
An hour later, Thorn stood on the bridge of the Magnum talking to the captain of the Faraday.
"Captain Jafrey, nice to see you."
"Ah Commander, I have been expecting you." Said the Indian Captain. "We stand ready to open the rift for you. However you are knowing that once we open the rift, you will be having only eighteen hours on the other side, before it is collapsing in on itself, never to be opened again."
"Yes I understand." Moaned Thorn. This mission just gets better and better, he thought.
"At your discretion Captain."
A beam of focused energy lashed out from the small science ship stabbing the rift. The rift's maw opened and the Magnum's powerful engines maneuvered the ship into the waiting hole in space.
On a hill overlooking a small Plutarkian prison and lab complex a human male sat on his huge motorbike, watching. The bike was black as night and was armed with an impressive array of weapons on its frame. The words `Heavy Metal' were inscribed on its flanks in silver stylised writing. Its rider also wore black. His uniform had black metallic armour running down the sides of its arms and legs. Two evil looking blades were extended from the armour on his right arm. He held a small pistol in his left hand. The man's hair flowed in the wind having grown quite long in the last year and a half. A neat goatee and long sideburns still adorned his face. Adjusting his shades, he looked down at the camp, eyes narrowed, intently observing its inhabitants.
Next to the human, a little to one side, a brown furred Martian mouse sat on his green freedom fighters bike. His hair was dark brown, a streak of orange running down the centre. He held a large disrupter cannon in one hand. The other hand tapped on the handlebars of his bike in anticipation of the coming action.
To the other side a white furred female mouse sat astride her freedom fighter bike. She carried a flag in her right hand. It showed the symbol of the Martian army. Underneath the symbol the name of their unit was written, a name feared by their enemies. `Damage Inc.'
A dark grey male sat on his dark blue rocket sled next to the white female. The words `Crazy Horse' had been inscribed on its sides. The rider glared down at the camp. Hate shone from his jet black eyes. His teeth were bared in anger. His short black, hair stood on end.
The rest of Damage Inc., five other mice, sat astride their bikes behind the other four.
"I think its time we got their attention." Said Stone to the others. Rimfire pressed a button on his bike. A small black object flew out from its front landing somewhere in the camp.
A heavily built brown mouse stood digging the soil in the middle of the camp, loading it into large containers for the Plutarks to steal away. His body was weak from starvation and his muscles ached from the work. A young white furred mouse worked by his side. He weakly dug at the soil. This mouse was perhaps only eighteen and was thinly built. A year and a half of malnutrition and heavy labour had taken its toll. The crack of a whip was heard as it lashed across the young mouse's back. The youngster cried out in pain.
"Get working mousy, or you'll be cat food."
The whip lashed out again. The young mouse's strained body could take no more. His legs gave way and he collapsed to the floor. The Plutarkian guard sneered and begun whipping the young mouse mercilessly. But the brown mouse could stand it no longer, as the guard continued to whip the youngster into unconsciousness. The brown mouse rushed over putting himself between the youngster and the Plutark. The whip lashed him but he stood there silent. Suddenly a small black object landed in-between him and the guard. The guard stopped his punishment and stooped down to pick up the strange object. Suddenly it came to life. The sound of a huge bell being struck rang out of it. It was a miniaturised speaker. The guard dropped the object in fright as the bell rang again. The brown mouse grinned as the sound of heavy metal music began to pour out from the speaker.
Make his fight on the hill in the early day
Constant chill deep inside
Shouting gun, on they run through the endless grey
On they fight, for they are right, yes, by who's to say?
For a hill men would kill, why? They do not know
Suffered wounds test there their pride
Men of five, still alive through the raging glow
Gone insane from the pain that they surely know
For whom the bell tolls
Time marches on
For whom the bell tolls
The Plutarkian guards around in panic. They were about to be attacked by the most feared or all freedom fighter squads. Some rushed around diving into the camp's defence bunkers or trying to find weapons to fight with. Some tried to find hiding places where they might survive the coming slaughter.
Take a look to the sky just before you die
It is the last time you will
Blackened roar, massive roar fills the crumbling sky
Shattered goal fills your soul with a ruthless cry
Stranger now, are your eyes, to this mystery
Hear the silence so loud
Crack of dawn, all is gone except the will to be
Now you will see what will be, blinded eyes to see
For whom the bell tolls
Time marches on
For whom the bell tolls
Prisoners rejoiced as they heard the music. Whispers circulated around the camp. Damage Inc. is here, we' re all saved. The Plutarks are finished lets attack them. Freedom is here.
The song finished. War cries were heard from the top of the hill overlooking the camp as nine highly powered and heavily armed motorcycles tore down the hill towards the camp.
The big black bike fired its primary weapon, reducing the wall fortifying the camp to powder and the fighters blazed in on a stream of laser and disrupter fire.
Diamond planted her flag in the camp's soil and took out her laser with her now free right hand. A Plutark running towards her was the first victim. A neat laser shot through the brain killed him instantly. Charging a grenade, she lobbed it through the window of the building to her left from which Plutarkians had begun streaming out of. A ball of flame erupted inside as it exploded, stemming the flood of soldiers.
Ice and Satin rode side by side down the centre of the camp weapons blazing. They left a trail of devastation behind them as Plutarkians were cut to ribbons by the deadly duo.
Cutter gunned his engine. The bike's rockets fired and he found himself flying over a Plutarkian bunker. Quickly charging a grenade he dropped it into the bunker as he passed overhead. He touched down and spun around, watching as the grenade exploded, silencing the bunkers guns. He patted the bike's handlebars.
"Good bike. Lets show these stink fish who rules around here."
The bike's engine revved loudly, a big smile spread across Cutter's face as he and the bike sped off to the next gun emplacement.
Harmony and Starline followed Rimfire, flanking him one on either side. As he used the disrupter to blow up Plutarkian strongholds, they moved in for the kill, wiping out any further resistance. Starline was also watching out for Rimfire's back. He'd developed the uncanny ability of letting Plutarkian Soldiers sneak up on him.
Spit roared round the camp on his supercharged bike. He popped wheelies, executed sharp turns and made his bike leap of the ground as if he were riding a bucking bronco. His bike's lasers blazed all the while as his bike sped about the camp taking out Plutarks wherever he saw them. Racing into the middle of the camp he came to an abrupt halt as he saw a brown mouse tending a small white youngster. Spit dismounted his bike and crouched down beside the two mice. Large red welts could be seen under the white mouse's fur. Spit looked at them and growled angrily. Grabbing a hypo from the medical kit on his bike he injected the mouse. The brown mouse looked over at him.
"I knew you'd come for us eventually. `Damage Inc are the best."
Spit looked over at the brown mouse, giving him an ok sign and smiling proudly.
The young mouse began to stir. Spit took the canteen from his bike and poured some water into the young mouse's mouth. He offered some to the brown mouse but he shook his head.
"You keep it. Others will need it more than me."
Spit growled and thrust the canteen into the brown mouse's hands. The mouse noticed the gleam in Spit's black eyes. He took a small drink and passed the canteen back. Satisfied, Spit grunted and put the canteen back on his bike.
"You don't talk much do you." Said the brown mouse looking up at Spit.
Spit raised his head and ran a finger along the scar starting under his chin and running down his throat.
The brown mouse looked away. "Damn Plutarks have hurt everyone." He mumbled as Spit rode away.
Stone faced off with a Plutarkian guard stood in front of the lab complex's entrance. The guard held a long knife in his hand and was waving it menacingly at Stone. Stone smiled as he got off his bike.
"Let's make this a fair fight." He said holstering his pistol and extending the blades on his right arm so that it would be blade against blade. The guard lunged for him with the knife, expecting Stone to try and block the blow with his blades. Stone smiled and caught the blade of the knife with his left hand. It cut through the flesh but stopped abruptly when it hit the titanium alloy endoskeleton. Stone gritted his teeth against the sudden pain.
"I should have told you." He said to the surprised guard. "I don't do fair."
Stone laughed as he plunged the blades of his right arm into the guard's chest. Letting go of the knife, Stone watched as the wound `zipped up' healing almost instantaneously. He wiped off the blood. "As good as new." He commented, smiling.
He entered the building. Inside Stone stood shocked. He looked around his mouth wide open. In the last few months he had seen some horrible places, but this was worse than them all. Partially dissected mice lay on tables in the middle of the room. Others sat imprisoned in small, cramped cages placed round the edges of the room. The room was filled with the moans of suffering.
Stone looked on in disgust. A whimper caught his attention. It came from a young male tan mouse of about ten or eleven years old. The mouse was chained to one of the pillars holding the building's roof up. Stone walked over but the mouse cringed and backed up against the pillar in fright.
"Hey there little one. I'm not gonna hurt ya." He said softly.
The youngster eyed Stone warily. Stone put his hand on the young mouse's shoulder noticing as the youngster flinched. This child had obviously felt pain.
"Were gonna get you out of here. Just you see." Stone said with a warm smile.
Stone could hear the mouse's heart beating one to a dozen, his young muscles shaking with fear. Suddenly the mouse let out a cry and backed up against the pillar again. Stone looked around. A Plutarkian was trying to sneak out of behind him. The Plutark was obviously one of the people responsible for the lab. Stone glared at him, his glare turning feral.
"Are you responsible for this?" He asked dangerously.
The Plutarkian gulped and ran which was all the answer Stone needed. He turned and chased after the Plutarkian, the blades extending from his arm, a slow and painful death on his mind.
The Plutarkian raced through the door of the lab to the outside, only to be faced with a group of eight freedom fighters. They had already finished off the rest of the Plutarkians and were waiting for Stone. The Plutarkian raced across the open yard of the camp closely followed by a very angry Stone.
"Aaaarrrhhhh! Come back here ya slimy piece of shit! I'm gonna slice ya inta sushi."
The others watched, surprised. Stone had never behaved like this before. It was very rare he got angry and lost his cool.
Spit looked at the Plutarkian running past the back of his bike and grinned. He pressed a button on the bike's dash. The grapnel flew out of the back of the bike, hitting the Plutarkian and burying into his chest. The Plutark screamed and fell to the ground, hurt but still alive.
Stone stopped running. "Looks like Spit's decided to take up fishing as a hobby." Grinned Diamond, from her bike as she watched the still struggling Plutarkian trying to extract the grappling hook from his chest.
Spit began to sign. Stone laughed out loud, an evil smile lighting up his face. "What did he say?" asked Harmony.
"He said `I don't fish for Plutarkians. This is just my bait. Saber squid bait that is.'"
Spit grinned as he gunned his bike's engine. The Plutarkian screamed for mercy. Stone gave Spit a mock salute as he sped out of the camp dragging the screaming Plutark behind him.
Satin looked on disgusted. "Was that really necessary?" she asked.
"Come with me and you'll see." Stone scowled, making his way back into the lab.
The others followed. Ice found himself having to clench his teeth together to stop himself vomiting as he noticed the remains of partially dissected mice laid out on slabs. Harmony looked around in horror as she heard the moans coming from the cages either side of the lab.
"This is disgusting." Commented Starline looking round.
Stone made his way over to the young mouse chained to the pillar. He pulled out his pistol. The mouse flinched and closed his eyes, whimpering. Stone frowned. "Hey, I'm not gonna hurt you. I'm just gonna get these chains off."
Aiming at the chains, he blasted them, freeing the youngster. The young mouse opened his eyes. Finding he was free he dashed into the nearest corner away from Stone.
Stone sighed. "Maybe he doesn't trust me `cos I'm human." He guessed.
Diamond looked over at the still shaking youngster. "That Plutark deserved to be squid food for this."
Satin nodded her head. "Whatever that Plutark is suffering its nothing compared to what these mice have suffered. I still think we should have just killed him though. We don't want to become like them."
Stone sighed again. "You're right. I was just angry after seeing this. I shouldn't have let Spit drag him off like that."
"What are we gonna do about the kid." Asked Ice trying to avoid looking at the dissecting tables.
"I'll try to talk to him." said Diamond. "He needs the female touch." She walked over to the corner where the young mouse was cowering, stopping about a metre away from him and crouching down. The youngster's eyes followed her movement.
"We only want to help kiddo. You're safe now. You don't have to be frightened anymore." She said softly. The young mouse looked away. Tears began to run down his face. Diamond quickly shuffled over and put her arms around him. "Now now, little fella. Everything's gonna be alright." The youngster put his arms around Diamond returning the hug. Diamond could feel his small body shaking as he cried his heart out as she held him.
I hope Spit is having fun with that piece of Plutarkian filth, she thought angrily.
Spit was indeed having fun. He had ridden only a couple of miles when a large squid had leaped from the sand and devoured the Plutarkian. Speeding up the bike, he had managed to free the grapnel from the Plutark inside the squid, neatly hooking it in one of its gullets. Thus he was now engaged in a tug of war with a very large and very angry saber squid.
Wiping the sweat from his forehead, he opened the throttle of the bike again, trying to prise the squid out of the sand. The rope strained, the bike tyres spun. Spit dug his heals into the sand, trying to gain some ground. Taking a deep breath and closing his eyes, he put all his strength and concentration into getting the squid out of the sand. His muscles worked harder than they had ever done before, strained to the limit. He let out a silent cry of determination.
Suddenly the squid gave up it's attempt to bury down to the next hemisphere and bolted upwards. Spit and the bike flew forwards, landing in a heap on the desert floor. The squid saw its chance and headed straight for them. Quickly getting up off the floor, Spit fumbled for his laser. Looking down at the empty holster, he noticed it wasn't there, he must have lost it somewhere.
Oh SHIT! He thought silently, looking over at the giant saber squid bearing down on him.
The squid reared up ready to strike as Spit stood rooted to the ground, it's huge toothed mouth descending on him.
A burst of blue laser fire suddenly flew past Spit's head frying the beast. It's mouth fell to the floor inches, away from where he stood. Spit looked around. The laser fire had come from his rocket sled. He gave it a thumbs up sign and took a deep breath before collapsing backwards onto the sand exhausted.
Stone went outside and opened a channel to the military base at Hamden. "Damage Inc. to base. Come in please."
"Carbine here. Go ahead Stone."
"I need a transport at sector 27 sigma. I have about forty-five prisoners to transport. You'd better send a medical team as well, some of them are in a bad way."
"Will do. Give us half an hour. Hamden out."
The transport arrived on schedule just as Spit rode into the camp, a huge saber squid being dragged behind his bike. He stopped by the transport and staggered off his bike exhausted.
Harmony rushed over and put her arm around him, helping him to sit down on a nearby bench. He kissed her on the cheek and made a sign with his hands.
Harmony smiled as he kissed her. She didn't understand the sign though. "I'm sorry Spit, but I don't understand."
He sighed in frustration and looked away, embarrassed by his handicap. Harmony put a hand on his chin and turned his head towards her. She kissed him passionately. Spit grinned; he'd had an idea. He made the sign again but this time he wrote the words in the sand by his feet as well. "Thanks my love."
Stone and Diamond stood by the door to the transport. They had been trying to coax the young mouse inside but he wouldn't leave Diamond. "Looks like we're stuck with him." Said Stone.
Diamond sighed. "Yeah. You got to admit it though, he is cute."
"You're not going all maternal on me are you." Said Stone raising an eyebrow and smiling.
"Don't you believe it." She said tripping him up. Stone landed on the floor hard.
"Umph! You know I'm sure there's a reason I like you. I just can't remember what it is."
Diamond chuckled. "Perhaps I should give you a reminder." She said sexily.
Stone looked over at the young mouse stood closely behind Diamond and pulled a face. "I think we'll have to wait until the umbilical chord is severed first."
Suddenly a chiming sound came from Stone's bike. Frowning, he got up off the floor and dug out the long forgotten Alliance com from his saddlebag. "That's strange." he murmured, pressing the transmit button. "Stone here."
Almost immediately there was a sudden movement of air, the fabric of space ripped apart to form a portal. A second later a human male stepped out of the open portal.
Diamond looked at the man and then back at Stone. She blinked in disbelief. The two humans were almost identical. Only by the hair could you tell them apart. Stone's hair was long and wild, whereas the newcomer's hair was short and neatly trimmed. The portal closed behind the human.
"Stone, Looks like your luck is as good as ever." Said the stranger with an almost smile on his face.
Stone smiled. "Thorn you old war-dog. Long time no see."
Thorn grinned mischievously. "You look terrible," he said. "-Sniff- And you're badly in need of a bath."
Stone laughed. "If you hadn't noticed, there is a slight shortage of water round here."
"Any excuse to get out of bath time." Chuckled Thorn.
Diamond was still staring at the two humans. "You never told me you had a twin brother." She commented to Stone.
"We're not brothers." Stone replied. "It's a long story. I'll tell you about it sometime."
Stone turned back to Thorn. "So you managed to bring the Paradise Lost through the rift."
"Not quite." Replied Thorn. "The Paradise Lost is being refit. I've got the Magnum."
"Ain't that a nova class ship."
Thorn made a face. "Yeah." He admitted.
Stone burst out laughing. "Ha. Now I've seen it all. The great and mighty Fleet Commander Thorn commanding a lowly nova class vessel.
Thorn narrowed his eyes. "Don't rub it in, its better than nothing. On a serious note though, we've only got just over sixteen hours in this universe. The rift is collapsing in on itself. You'd better make your goodbyes brief."
Stone looked Thorn straight in the eyes. "I'm not leaving."
"What!" Thorn said not believing his ears.
"I'm not leaving. This is my home now. My friends are here. I'm needed here."
Thorn shrugged his shoulders and took a deep breath. "Well its your choice. We'll stay in orbit as long as we can in case you change your mind."
"Thorn, as you are here, I need you to do me a favour."
"Things are coming to head here on Mars. The Plutarkians are gathering their forces, as are the Martians. There's gonna be one hell of a big fight when those forces meet and it'll probably determine the outcome of the war. I want you to do a planetary scan to find out where the Plutarkians are gathered and how many there are. I'd also appreciate a few supplies. You know, the essentials: water, food, clothingWeapons?"
Thorn nodded. "I'll see what I can do. How about joining me onboard for a while. Grab a bath, some decent food."
Stone looked over at the transport, where a dozen soldiers were trying to bundle the saber squid into it's tiny cargo hold. Just thinking about another meal of saber squid made him start to gip. Every now and then was okay but when you had to practically live on the stuff "Sure. As long as my friends are invited too."
Stone called over to the transport, where the rest of Damage Inc. had gathered. "Anyone fancy a slap up dinner on my old friend Thorn here." He asked. The unanimous vote was yes. Thorn tapped the com-link on the back of his hand and a portal opened in front of him.
Thorn and Stone walked through the rift followed by nine weary Martians. The young tan mouse holding on to Diamond's hand tightly as they entered. Passage through the portal however, was almost like walking through a normal door, from one place to another, the two places separated by a thin gleam of energy. The energy of the portal made your nerves tingle as you passed through it which is not a lot of discomfort for being able to travel half a million miles in a few seconds.
Once everyone had arrived, the portal closed to reveal the back wall of the transporter room.
Thorn turned to the group of freedom fighters stood behind him. "Perhaps you'd like an hour or so to freshen up before you eat. You are all hungry I take it."
Thorn was greeted with nods and murmurs of ascent. "Well I'll see you later on, say one hour, captain's dining hall."
Thorn turned to the transporter operator. "Ensign, will you please escort our guests to suitable quarters. I need to go to the bridge."
The ensign nodded curtly to Thorn. "Come with me please." He said to the new arrivals, leading them out of the room.
Stone turned to Diamond, the little tan mouse still clinging on to her as if his very life depended on it. "Di, I think we ought to take this little chappie down to the sickbay. I want to make sure he's okay."
Yeah. That's a good idea." Agreed Diamond. "There's no telling what those fish-faces did to him in that lab."
"Well then, lets see if I can remember the way."
The ensign gave each of the mice separate quarters, down the same corridor, except Ice and Satin, who as husband and wife shared a double room. Rimfire lay on the bed in his quarters. He'd just finished pulling his boots off and was thinking about taking a nice long hot shower with proper soap and other nice smelly stuff. A knocking noise came from the door.
He sat up.
The door slid open and Starline walked in.
"Hi Starline, I was just about to take a shower.
"Me too." Replied Starline with a smile.
"Oh?" Asked Rimfire innocently.
"Yeah, I thought I might join ya. You know, you rub my back, I rub yours." She replied.
Rimfire grinned. Starline grabbed him by the collar and kissed him. He put his arms around her, hugging her tightly. They collapsed on the bed laughing. "Come on then. We've only got an hour." Rimfire said still laughing.
The two mice rushed off towards the shower room leaving a trail of clothes behind them.
Meanwhile Diamond had sat the young tan mouse on one of the diagnostic beds in the Magnum's sickbay and was trying to keep him still so that the physician could examine him. But the youngster was terrified by the doctor's tri-corder. The doctor sighed as his attempt to scan the youngster failed for the fourth time.
"Would you do the honours." He asked Diamond, handing her the scanner.
"What do I do."
"Just point it at him running it down from the top of his head to the tips of his toes."
Diamond took the tri-corder and did as she was asked. The youngster let her do it without any fuss. She handed the device back to the doctor and ruffed up the young mouse's hair.
"There that wasn't so bad was it."
The doctor looked down at the tri-corder's readings. "Hmm. Nothing serious. Just cuts and bruises mainly. A few muscle strains and there's a nasty burn on his arm." Said the doctor pointing to a small patch of blackened fur on the mouse's forearm. "He's also malnutritioned and a little dehydrated."
The doctor picked up a hypo-spray. The young mouse flinched for perhaps the fiftieth time since he had entered sickbay. Sighing, the doctor passed the hypo to Diamond. "Put it against his arm and press the trigger. It should relieve any pain and help him to heal up faster."
The doctor went off to prepare a re-hydration drink. Stone watched as Diamond injected the mouse with the hypo. The youngster didn't even flinch. "Looks like he's developed a real rapport with you Di." `And you with him' thought Stone.
"Yeah." Replied Diamond softly. "He hasn't said anything yet though."
"I'm sure he will in time." Stone assured.
The soon doctor came back with the drink. "Give him this. It's a blend of vital nutrients, glucose and water. I've tried to make it taste as pleasant as possible, but its not good."
Diamond handed over the drink to the youngster. He drank it all with no complaints. The doctor raised an eyebrow. "Must have been thirsty." He commented. With the youngster sorted the doctor looked over at Stone and Diamond. "Now for you two." He waved away the protests.
He scanned Stone first. "Everything is functioning within normal parameters. Your fine Captain." Stone gave the doctor a told-you-so look. The doctor ignored it and proceeded to scan Diamond. "Hmm, your healthy after a fashion. The doctor pressed a hypo to her arm and pressed the trigger. "That should clear you system out. By the way, Captain I expect the rest of your people to pop in before tomorrow so that they can be examined."
Stone shrugged and headed for the door. "I'll mention it."
Ice and Satin walked out of their quarters and into the corridor arm in arm. Both now wore smart Alliance uniforms that an ensign had produced from the replicator in their room. The uniforms were a comfortable fit. The ensign had even managed to make the tail holes right.
The door to Rimfire's quarters opened and Rimfire walked out with Starline at his side, also wearing new uniforms. A huge was grin emblazoned across his face. His grin soon turned to embarrassment however, when he noticed Ice and Satin looking at him knowingly.
Satin nudged Ice with her elbow. "It looks like those two have been having as much fun as us."
Ice smirked. "From the looks of Rimfire, I'd say they've probably had more."
The door to Harmony's quarters opened and Spit came out carrying a laughing and giggling Harmony in his arms. Noticing the sudden attention from the other four mice he stopped dead in his tracks and put Harmony down. His cheeks began to glow with embarrassment. Harmony stopped giggling and looked up at Spit. But on seeing his expression she started laughing again.
The other four mice began to laugh as well. Ice walked over to Spit. "Don't worry Bro. We just caught Rimfire and Starline coming out of the same room too. He had exactly the same look on his face as you."
Spit grinned and picked up Harmony again, dancing round the corridor with her, producing another fit of giggles from the light brown female.
It was just then that Cutter walked out of his quarters. "What's goin' on?"
Satin smiled. "Oh nothing to worry about. Spit's just acting the fool as usual."
"Oh! An' I thought he'd just been laid." Replied Cutter.
This provoked another burst of laughter from the assembled mice.
Cutter just mumbled to himself. "Typical. Everyone gets laid but me."
Finally Stone's door opened. He walked out wearing a new uniform and knocked on the door to Diamonds quarters. "Are ya ready yet Di?"
"Just a second." Came the reply. The door opened and Diamond walked out, the tan youngster at her side. There was a big smile on Diamond's face. "He said something." She said excitedly.
"That's great." Said Stone smiling. "What'd he say?"
"I asked if he had a name. He said it was Sandstorm."
Stone bent down to the youngster. "So you're Sandstorm eh? You hungry Sandstorm?"
The young mouse just nodded without saying anything. Stone shrugged disappointed. "Let's eat then."
Captain Yang sat in her command chair, watching her people work. There was little to do at the moment. Commander Thorn had made them initiate a planetary scan which meant all they could do was watch the planet spin round while the Magnum's sensors made detailed scans of its surface. It was rather like watching old-fashioned paint dry. The rest of the bridge crew sat at their consoles trying to look busy but Yang could tell that they were all just as bored as her. However the lieutenant manning the sensors suddenly raised his head from the console.
"Yes Mr Theosopolopolis." Yang smiled. It had taken her ages to be able to pronounce the Greek officer's name.
"We're about to have company ma'am. A large fleet of small ships is heading this way. They'll intercept us in thirty minutes."
Yang's smile turned into a grin. At last something was happening. The last traces of boredom left her system as she prepared for action. "Yellow alert. Commander Thorn to the bridge."
The freedom fighters were sat around the large table in the captain's dining hall eating. Thorn was sat at one end of the table. "I've started the planetary scan but, as you know, it'll take a while to complete."
"What about my supplies?" asked Stone.
"I've looked through the ships stores manifest. We have a fair amount of food and water and such likes but our weapon supplies are low. We weren't expecting to find you in the middle of a war-zone. I've got someone replicating more but it takes time. I don't know how many there'll be."
"Contact general Carbine on the surface. She'll tell you where to send them."
Thorn nodded. Suddenly Captain Yang's voice came over the Com. "Yellow alert! Commander Thorn to the bridge."
Thorn tapped the com-link on the back of his hand. "Thorn here. I'm on my way."
"Trouble?" asked Stone.
"I don't know. Stay and enjoy your meal, I'm sure its nothing too important." Replied Thorn getting up from the table and making his way outside.
As soon as he had gone, Cutter looked across at Stone thoughtfully. "How come you and Thorn look so much alike if you're not brothers."
Stone sighed. "It's a long story. Are you sure you want to hear it now."
"Yeah." Said Diamond. "I wanna know too."
"Well OK." Said Stone taking a deep breath. "As you know I'm 289 years old. I was born in 2210. Thorn however, was born in 1977, so that makes him 522 years old."
"You mean that guy is the fella who invented the nanites in the first place. Asked Rimfire.
"The very same."
"Wow 522 years old."
"Yep. Anyway, 2210 was about twenty years before the Alliance was formed. We had already colonised the moon and part of our Mars at that time but we were in a dark period of our history. The elected government no longer ruled the people. Huge mega-corporations ran everything behind the scenes. We had just entered the second decade of war. Dubbed the gene wars, the mega-corps were brutally fighting each other for control over new genes. These genes were artificial genes, not found in nature. The mega-corps used them to engineer their own soldiers, which they cloned by the million. The better the mega-corps genes, the better their soldiers. The better their soldiers the more power they had.
"Anyway, at that time Thorn was quite an important person. Being the sole distributor of the nanites, he had actually come to own his own mega-corp, Thorn Industries. However he kept out of the war, even tried to stop it a few times but to no avail. The other mega-corps saw his failure to the war as weakness, but by engineering a superior form of nanite, Thorn and his people were more than a match for a direct attack by clones. So a plot was hatched to take over Thorn Industries. Another mega-corp called Sirius stole a sample of Thorn's DNA and cloned him. The plan was to replace Thorn with a perfect replica, a puppet, with Sirius as its master.
"However Thorn was no fool. He knew the other mega-corps were after him. He had thus set up an intricate spy network. He found out about the plan and launched an attack on the cloning plant determined to destroy the threat to him.
"The attack came. His men broke into the plant and found the clone. It was about five years old and fully formed. An innocent. Thorn couldn't bring himself to kill it. So he hatched it and raised it as his son. You've probably guessed that I'm the clone."
The other freedom fighters stared open mouthed at the story. "So you're like Thorn's son?" asked Cutter.
"Sort of like that yes. It's a little more complicated than that though."
"How come you have different surnames then."
"Well, we don't really consider ourselves family anymore, were more like old friends. I changed my surname to Stone, the name of Sirius' chairman, partly to get back at him and partly because in a way he is my real father. Without him I wouldn't be here today. Plus having a different name tends to stop people getting confused between me and Thorn."
Thorn stepped onto the bridge of the Magnum. "Report Captain."
Yang looked over at the commander. "We have a fleet of thirty small vessels approaching our position. They will rendezvous with us in twenty-five minutes."
"Are they in visual range." Asked Thorn.
Yang waved to the operations officer. The view-screen changed from the view of Mars to show the fleet of tiny vessels. They were hard to make out but their fish like appearance could be seen easily.
"It would appear that these are the Plutarkians that Stone is fighting. Raise our shields and power up the weapon systems. Make sure security is standing by in case we are boarded. I want to be prepared if they decide to attack.
"Should I summon Stone to the bridge Commander."
Thorn thought about it for a second before deciding. "No. I think we can handle this by ourselves. Let Stone enjoy a little relaxation while he's here."
Back in the dining hall, Damage Inc. had finished eating and were relaxing on full stomachs.
The young tan mouse, Sandstorm, had fallen asleep and was resting against Diamond's shoulder. "Poor little mite must be exhausted." She commented. "I better get him to bed,"
Spit signed over to Stone. "Hey! You wanted to go saber squid hunting. Its not my fault if you're tired too." Replied Stone.
Harmony smiled as she whispered something into Spit's ear. Spit grinned shaking his head.
Stone smiled. He hadn't managed to hear everything that Harmony had said but he was sure the word `stud' came into it. There's definitely something going on with them two, he thought.
"By the way everybody, the ships doctor wants to see you all before we leave tomorrow. Spit, with a bit of look he might be able to repair your vocal chords" Said Stone.
Spit made a face. One thing he really hated was doctors.
Suddenly the ship rocked. The computer sounded an alarm as once again Captain Yang's voice came over the com. "Red alert! All hands to battlestations."
The fleet of Plutarkian ships surrounded the Magnum. "We are being hailed." Said the communications officer
Yang nodded "Onscreen."
The visage of a green fish like alien filled the screen. "This is Colonel Barracuda of the Plutarkian Imperial Fleet. You are trespassing in our space. Surrender your vessel and we will be merciful."
Thorn snarled "Open a channel." He barked.
Straightening his uniform jacket he glared at the Plutarkian colonel's face but was interrupted by the Alien Colonel before he could speak.
"So we meet again Captain Stone."
Thorn growled, his glare turned feral, when he spoke it was in a dangerous tone. "I'm afraid not Colonel. I'm Fleet Commander Thorn and if don't return to where you came from immediately, you are going to end up being so very dead." Thorn waved to the communications officer signaling him to cut off the channel.
The lead Plutarkian ships opened fire. The ship rocked. "Red alert! All hands to battle stations." Yang shouted. "Tactical, return fire."
The bridge was suddenly bathed in bright light. Plutarkian soldiers had begun to transport onto the bridge. The soldiers began to fire their lasers.
Thorn pressed a button on the com-link stuck to the back of his hand and smiled to himself as an energy shield formed in front of him and absorbed Plutarkian laser blasts, rendering them useless. The shield was a new invention that had been fitted to the Magnum and was about to be fitted to the Paradise Lost. The tactical officer however was not as fortunate, he'd been hit before he `d had a chance to react. He lay slumped over the console.
Yang had also activated her energy shield. "Intruder alert! Security to the bridge!" she called
The air on the bridge began to move as a portal opened in front of the viewscreen. Security guards rushed out in full combat armour slicing and blasting the invaders. But still the Plutarkians continued to transport onto the bridge.
Thorn made his way over to the weapons console. "Computer identify source of transports." He called. A Plutarkian rushed towards him a knife in hand. The shield could stop energy discharges but not physical force. Thorn grabbed the disrupter pistol from his shoulder holster and blew the Plutarkians head off. "Sorry about that old chap but honestly I think you look much better without a head." Said Thorn in an over exaggerated English accent.
Seeing the exchange, two security guards rushed over to shield him from any more attacks.
The computer spat out its data.
<SOURCE OF TRANSPORT IDENTIFIED. VESSEL BEARING 172.3 MARK 7>
Thorn quickly targeted a couple of antimatter torpedoes at the vessel and let fly. The first torpedo was enough to smash through the Plutarkian ship's shields and penetrate the hull. The second torpedo passed right through as the ship was vaporized by the blast from the first torpedo.
The flow of Plutarkians onto the bridge was cut off immediately. The security guards soon took out the remaining Plutarkian Forces.
With the slaughter over, Yang sat down in her chair. "Lets show these Plutarkian scuzz-buckets what happens when they mess with the Alliance." She shouted banging her fist on the chair's arm rest. "All batteries open fire And can someone please turn the air conditioning up to clear away this pong."
Thorn was already stood at the weapons console so he temporarily filled the role of tactical officer. The actual tactical officer was still laid over part of the console. One of the security guards picked him up and laid him down at the back of the bridge. He was already starting to come around as the nanites in his body repaired the damage caused by the laser blast.
Thorn smiled as he directed the particle beams and antimatter torpedoes at the Plutarkian ships. The Plutarkians were ripped to shreds by the deadly onslaught as the powerful Alliance weapons tore through their shields and vaporized their hulls.
Colonel Cuda sat in his chair at the centre of the bridge watching his fleet being destroyed by the Alliance vessel. The battle was lost. The Alliance ship was too powerful to fight directly and the transporter ship had been destroyed. His own ship was badly damaged. A plasma conduit was leaking its contents onto the bridge, the gas slowly poisoning everyone. There was only one thing left to do. He looked at the tiny remote control in his right hand and smiled. "Helm! Collision course. Full speed. I will not fail again."
The crewman watching the sensor console noticed the Plutarkian ships change in direction.
"Plutarkian vessel on collision course Captain."
Yang looked at her console. The enemy ship was too close to fire upon safely. "Antimatter screen." She ordered. The Alliance vessel's shields glowed bright white as antimatter was poured into its energy shields. The Plutarkian ship hit the shield and exploded. Most of the debris was vaporized by the antimatter but a small piece managed to get through and hurtled towards the ship's hull. It struck, penetrating the hull. The ship shook violently before righting itself once more.
Two minutes later the battle was over. The debris of Plutarkian vessels surrounded the Magnum. "Stand down from red alert and resume planetary scan." Called Yang from the command chair, a big smile on her face.
The door to the rear of the bridge opened and Stone walked in. "What's going on?" He asked.
"We had a little run in with your Plutarkian friends." Replied Thorn. "Nothing to worry about. Its all over with now."
Stone looked around at the dead Plutarkian soldiers littering the bridge. "How did they manage to get onto the bridge?"
"They used some sort of matter transportation device. Our shields weren't configured to block them."
"Have we sustained any damage?" asked Stone.
"I was just about to check." Thorn tapped a few buttons on his console and the computer began to read of a damage report.
<Hull breach on decks 24 through 31, force fields in place. Minor hull damage to deck 13. Lateral thrusters 24 through 49 off-line. Replicator system off-line. Fire suppression system on deck 94 sections A through M off-line>
"Damn! The replicators are off-line. I'm afraid your weapon supplies are going to be less than I anticipated. I'll get someone to fix them straight away."
Thorn looked at another display. "Your scan will be ready in another eight hours. I suggest you get some sleep before you fall over."
Stone nodded his head. He had been up for almost three days and tiredness was catching up with him. Saying goodnight he walked off to his quarters.
It was morning, at least it felt like morning to the members of Damage Inc. The Magnum, like all Alliance ships, did not operate on a Morning, afternoon, evening system. Instead it worked in eight hour shifts, alpha, beta and gamma. It was now alpha shift. Spit entered sickbay reluctantly, Harmony giving him a shove through the doors. Spit looked around nervously ready to bolt back outside. He really hated Doctors. Grabbing him by the arm Harmony dragged him over to a human working on one of the medical bay's many consoles.
The human turned round to look at her. "Hi I'm Doctor Sanchez. How can I help you?" He asked with a warm smile.
"I've brought a friend of mine. His name is Spit. He can't talk.
"Ah yes Doctor Michaels told me you would be coming round. Go sit on the diagnostic bed over there. I'll be with you in a minute."
Spit went over to the bed and sat on it with a little encouragement from Harmony. He wasn't pleased about the situation though.
The doctor came across with a tri-corder and scanned him. "HmmYes. Nasty, very nasty." The doctor mumbled. "Your vocal chords have been surgically destroyed."
"Well normally I would just give you a dose of nanites tailored to your genetic code. However, one out of every three initial nanite transfers ends in failure. Malfunctioning nanites can have disastrous consequences if not treated straight away and as the Magnum is not likely to be here very long I don't think it would be wise to risk it.
"I can however give you a dose of temporary nanites programmed to reconstruct your vocal chords. They'll take a day or so to accomplish this before they're flushed out of your body. You won't be able to talk straight away though. You'll need to do lots of vocal exercises, which may hurt a little. Is that acceptable to you."
Spit shrugged non-commitedly.
"That will be fine Doctor." Said Harmony elbowing Spit in the side.
"Are you sure?" The Doctor asked looking at Spit.
Spit nodded sulkily and not very happy.
Stone walked onto the bridge. Thorn was sat in the command chair having relieved Captain Yang so that she could go get some sleep.
"Ah Stone. Your scan is complete." Thorn got up from the chair and walked over to a door to one side of the bridge, beckoning Stone to follow. They entered the room. It was bare with no furnishings. A holographic projection grid surrounded its walls. "What do you think?" asked Thorn.
"It's a holodeck. But why so close to the bridge?"
"Observe! Computer real time view."
The walls of the room dissolved away to show a real time view of space surrounding the Magnum. Stone looked down at the planet below. It looked like he could just reach out and touch it.
"This is amazing"
"Yes it is. It's the very latest idea. The Magnum is the first vessel to have its sensors directly plugged into a holodeck. It allows a you to get an accurate representation of what's going on in a battle. Before you had to picture most of what was going on in your head. The view-screen could give you an accurate two-dimensional picture but of course space is three-dimensional. This room allows you to see three-dimensionally."
Stone smiled. "Its good for sight-seeing."
"That too." Laughed Thorn. "Anyway let's get back to your scan. Computer give me a holographic representation of Mars and display data from planetary scan"
The view of space melted away as a small version of the red planet appeared in front of the two men. A screen appeared underneath the planet with scan data on it.
"From the scan data we estimate that there are about twenty-thousand Plutarkians on the surface of Mars. They are concentrated here." He said pointing at a shaded area on the planet."
"Have you relayed the results to general Carbine." Asked Stone.
"Yes. She is organising her troops already. We have been able to send her just over a thousand Disrupter units. Unfortunately the replicators going off-line have reduced the number we could supply."
"Well you did your best. When do you have to leave?"
"Six hours." Thorn sighed "Stone I'm afraid there is some bad news. The scan showed up something else."
"What?" asked Stone confused
Thorn took a deep breath. "This planet is dying. There are too many people on it for too little vegetation. The computer estimates that if things go on as they have been the planet's oxygen level will become too low to support life within eighteen months."
Stone looked at the data on the holographic screen in front of him in anguish. "There must be something we can do."
Thorn shrugged. "The computer says that in order for the planets ecosystem to recover at least twenty-five-thousand people must leave. If you do fight the Plutarkians then the population might decrease enough but its risky. We could however play it safe and find some of the Martians a new home."
"What are you suggesting?"
"This ship can support an extra twenty-thousand people. We could take any volunteers back to the Alliance. We could terraform a planet for them. They would become full citizens of the Alliance. Think of it as insurance. If we take some of them with us and this planet still dies at least their race will have a chance to live on."
Stone thought about the suggestion for a moment. It was a good idea but not one the Martians would like. However it may be their only chance. "OK I'll contact General Carbine and give her the news. I don't think there'll be many volunteers though. The Martians are very tightly bound to their planet, or what's left of it."
"If some of them don't leave they may be condemning themselves to extinction."
Doctor Sanchez put a hypo-spay against Spit's neck and pressed the trigger. A soft hiss signaled that the nanites were being transferred into Spit's system. The Doctor stood back.
"There you go, all done."
"That wasn't so bad was it." said Harmony.
Spit coughed. Suddenly he grabbed his throat acting as though he couldn't breathe.
"Spit! What's wrong?" Called Harmony, worried.
The doctor whipped out his tri-corder, surprised at the sudden reaction.
Spit grinned and let go of his throat. "Got ya!" he signed.
The doctor made a face before turning away to see to other things. "Bloody comedians!" He mumbled as he left.
Harmony slapped Spit on the shoulder. "Don't ever do that again! I thought you were dying or something."
Spit signed that he was sorry and put on a sad face. Harmony smiled. "Ok, I forgive you... This time." She said giving him a big hug.
Just then Satin came into sickbay with Ice supporting her. Sanchez rushed over to them.
"Is something wrong." He asked.
"Its Satin" replied Ice. "She's been feeling sick all morning and she just started going dizzy."
"Okay. Sit her down on the bed here so I can examine her."
The doctor pulled out his trusty tri-corder and scanned the Martian female. Looking at the tri-corder's results he smiled. "I see the problem. Its morning sickness combined with a low blood sugar level. I've got some good news for you. You're pregnant."
Ice smiled wide. "That's great."
Satin wasn't so pleased. "It's not great. Mars is about to have the biggest battle in its history. How am I supposed to fight feeling like this?"
"You're not fighting full stop!" Said Ice. The sickbay soon grew loud with marital arguments. Spit and Harmony made a hasty departure.
It was about half an hour before the Magnum was due to leave. Carbine had gathered as many mice as possible that were willing to leave. They were mainly older mice, who were too old to fight of had been injured in battle, or young couples with children. A large orphanage with over three hundred children in its care had also decided to leave. The total figure was just over five thousand. The mice had already been transported up to the Magnum with the help of its transport portals.
Stone and Damage Inc. sans Ice and Satin, stood in the Transporter room waiting to be transported back to the surface. Thorn and Yang were there to see them off.
"Well I wish you luck Stone." Said Thorn. "You usually have it anyway."
"Yeah, we'll do okay." Replied Stone. "Has anyone seen Ice and Satin?"
Thorn shook his head.
"Me an' Spit saw them in sickbay a couple of hours ago." Replied Harmony.
On Que. the door to the transporter room opened and Ice and Satin walked in. Both were red in the face. They had obviously been arguing.
"Ice, Satin, nice of you to join us. We thought you weren't coming for a moment there."
Ice began to chew his lower lip. "Er we have some news to tell you. We're going to be parents."
"That's great news." Said Starline giving Satin a big hug. "I'm really happy for you guys."
Rimfire shook Ice's hand. "It couldn't happen to a nicer guy."
"Congratulations. I believe a celebration is in order when we get back to Mars." Said Stone.
"Well, that might be a problem." Said Satin. "We've been discussing the situation and we've decided that we want to go back to the Alliance with the Magnum."
Stone looked at them both stunned and speechless. It was Cutter that broke the silence.
"I'm gonna miss you guys." He said giving them both big hugs. Cutter had looked to Ice and Satin as pseudo-parents in the absence off his father. They, like the rest of Damage Inc., were part of his family now.
Stone finally found his tongue. "Well I wish you all the best. You can't pick a much better place than the Alliance to raise your child. It's been a pleasure working with you."
The others said their goodbyes to Ice and Satin as Stone walked over to Thorn. "Take good care of them won't you."
"Don't worry, I will. And you look after yourself. And make sure you kick some Plutarkian butt. You never know one day we may find a way to reopen the rift. Who knows what we might find."
"A new Alliance hopefully."
The two Humans embraced briefly. Thorn smiled as he gave the transporter operator the order to open a portal.
"See you in the future?"
"Ya can bet on it." Replied Stone before vanishing through the portal with the rest of his team.
Damage Inc emerged from the portal to find they were stood beside the military base at Hamden. The portal closed behind them. Stone looked up to the sky just in time to see a bright flash of light signaling that the Magnum had gone to hyperdrive. "Let's get ready people. We're gonna have one hell of a fight ahead of us." He said with a sigh.
The Nova class Alliance vessel, Magnum, entered the rift. A brief shaking was the only sign that they were passing through the rift, as the shields took the brunt of the anomaly's energy. A few seconds and the ship emerged into Alliance space. Ice and Satin watched on through one of the Magnum's transparent aluminum windows. It felt like a great big chapter of their lives had been closed, just to have a new chapter, and a new adventure, open.
Back on the bridge. "Captain Yang. We are being hailed."
"Open a channel ensign." Replied Yang.
Captain Jafrey's visage appeared on the viewscreen. "Where have you been? The rift is about to close. I say to you be as quick as you can. We were fearing you had been lost!"
Yang smiled. "Don't overreact Captain we had at least three minutes to spare." She replied as she watched the rift collapse in on itself on a secondary viewscreen set under the main one.
Thorn stepped onto the bridge. "Our guests have settled in fine. Set course for Earth, it will take time for us to locate a suitable planet, so in the meantime I think we could organise suitable accommodations for them on the Paradise Lost, while she's in space dock.
"Yes Commander. Helm set course for Earth, hyperdrive at factor six."
"Course plotted ma'am."
"Would you like to do the honours sir." She asked Thorn.
Thorn smiled. "Why not? Helm ENGAGE!" He said gesturing a forward motion with his hand.
The Magnum sped off into the void with the Alliance's newest inhabitants. Here the Martian species would have another chance to thrive.
Que. Music. Damage Inc. by Metallica. Master of Puppets
Dealing out the agony within
Charging hard and no one's gonna give in
Living on your knees, conformity
Or dying on your feet for honesty
Inbred, our bodies work as one
Bloody, but never cry submission
Following our instinct not a trend
Go against the grain until the end
Blood will follow blood
Dying time is here
Slamming through, don't fuck with razorback
Stepping out? You'll feel our hell on your back
Blood follows blood and we make sure
Life ain't for you and we're the cure
Honesty is my only excuse
Try to rob us of it, but its no use
Steamroller action crushing all
Victim is your name and you shall fall
Blood will follow blood
Dying time is here
We chew and spit you out
We laugh, you scream and shout
All flee, with fear you run
You'll know just where we come from