The bros suffer their greatest loss yet!
The days past by in a haze of dirt, dust, pain, and labor. The days slowly began to blur together...and even then, things weren't so bad. The body does eventually adjust to physical strains, you learn to ignore the heat and the dust. You find comfort in the fact that you are alive, and with your family, and strangely enough the little things that bothered you before; it all seems so unimportant.
Modo, Throttle, Vinnie, Alexis, and Jessie sat near the fence, nibbling without appetite on some half-stale bread and oatmeal that was their basic diet. They sought to amuse themselves the only way they could think of:
"I spy with my little eye..." Vinnie said, glancing around the camp. "Something...orange-red."
"Gee, Vin', could it be the dirt?" Alexis sighed.
"Aw you guessed!" Vinnie cried.
"I'm bored." Modo yawned.
"Me too." Throttle answered.
"I'm so bored I could die!" Vinnie whined, flopping backward listlessly. His little sister sneered at him.
"Don't say things like that Vinnie! It could really happen!"
"Oh shut up, Jessica!" Vinnie snapped back.
"Hey!" Modo gasped, looking at them painfully. "Be nice to your sister, bro." he said looking sad. "She's all you got."
Vinnie, feeling ashamed, hugged Jessie apologetically.
"Hey, Throttle," Alexis said suddenly, tugging on the tan mouse's shirt sleeve. "Isn't that your mom?" she asked.
Throttle followed her gaze to see his mother, among many others, walking in a crowd towards the mine shaft door. It was unusual for them to heading to work at his hour, which made Throttle uneasy.
"Mom?" He called, getting up and heading towards her, but suddenly he was stopped in his tracks by a guard-a Rat-who barred his way.
"Stay back, son. You don't belong here." He said firmly but gently. Throttle looked at him anxiously and then past him as he watched his mother disappear into the mouth of the mine.
"But...my mom, I just- " he started to explain, but the Rat shook his head.
"Sorry son. Can't let you through. Go on now, you shouldn't be here." Throttle continued to stare at the mine. Something didn't feel right, something was very wrong here.
The Rat moved away from him, leaving the boy to stand there alone, when suddenly there was a loud banging, the sound of an explosion, and then huge clouds of smoke billowed out into the fields.
Throttle screamed and covered his face with his arms as a burst of hot, thick dust rushed at him, pelting him with small debris.
He looked up then as screams and shouts echoed around him as the camp was engulfed in Tawny. The guard who had stopped him before was staring in shock at the mine. "MOM!" Throttle screamed running forward.
The Rat reached to stop him. "Wait! Stop where you are! Don't go in there!" he called, but Throttle evaded his grip and ran full speed through he haze of smoke and ash.
Suddenly strong hands gripped him by the shoulders. "Throttle stop!"
The boy turned to see his father standing there. "Dad! Dad what happened!" he gasped.
"Where's your mother!" Axle asked his son frantically.
"She...she was in the mine!" he chocked.
Throttle felt himself being pushed aside and then was alone once more in the fog of smoke. "Dad! DAD?" he cried, reaching out for his father but there was no one there to be found.
He found his way through the crowds of screaming Mice till he reached his father again. He flung his arms helpless around his father's arm, but he did not turn to see him.
"Dad, where's Mom?" he asked in a feeble, frightened voice.
Axle's hand trembled as he lifted it from his child's grasp and pulled him against him, stroking his hair. Throttle followed his father's gaze to an arm, covered in blood, protruding through the rocks and rubble of the mine opening. He recognized the twisted form only by the ring on her bloody finger. It was his mother's hand.
With a tiny cry of grief Throttle buried his face in his father's side and began sobbing hysterically in shock.
No drums. No fanfare. No goodbyes or last words. One minute she had been there, and the next she was gone.
As Stoker regained consciousness, his eyes were having some trouble readjusting to the light before him. A gentle hand touched his own. He turned then, and found Tawny sitting next to him.
"Hey," she greeted. "You're awake, finally. I was starting to get worried."
"How long have I been out?"
"A couple of days in and out of consciousness," she answered.
Stoker looked at the young woman closely. "Are you serious?"
"Stoke, you got banged up pretty badly, and you weren't in the best shape to begin with. You needed rest, so you did."
He grunted and leaned back. "Wonderful." He began to look around, trying to figure out the layout of the room. It was fairly small, with a dresser and a desk. No windows. "Where are we? What happened?"
"After the bar exploded, Cody and I didn't have any place to go. Luckily, we still had Cody's jeep and you left your bike with us, so we packed it and you up and took off. This place belongs to that Lucas guys' cousin. It's a farm."
"Lovely," Stoker stated as he began to sit up-which was immediate halted dude to the terrible pain in his side.
"Easy! Easy!" Tawny shushed, lying him back down.
Stoker watched her fondly as she hovered over him, checking his hurts with care and precision. He smiled to himself, and when she noticed him watching her she looked at him curiously.
"What is it?" she asked.
He brushed his hand across her soft cheek. "Nothing." he said quietly.
Tawny held his hand in hers and smiled back at him as he laid there, and then leaned over and kissed him softly across the lips. Stoker returned the gesture lovingly and ran his free hand through her soft brown hair.
"You were really brave back there," she said when they pulled apart.
Stoker shrugged. "Brave, or maybe just stupid. I'm not sure which is which anymore." he admitted with a grin. "I'm sorry you got mixed up in that mess. It could have gone down badly." he added.
"Stoker, if I didn't want to be there, I would have left. But then what sort of friend would I be?" she asked.
Stoker nodded in understanding. "How's Cody doing?" he asked.
"Physically, he's fine. Mentally he's grieving the loss of his bar. Taking it pretty hard." she said.
Evening was fast approaching and Throttle was a wreck. Axle wasn't much better, but he could keep his emotions in check. Since work had halted for the day, the pair had holed up inside their room.
Throttle was silent with shock and grief. His mother so abruptly and unceremoniously ripped from his life, without evening getting to say goodbye.
Axle knew he had to be strong for his children, he needed to be their rock now. It was difficult of course, how do you act brave and secure when the love of your life just died in an accident in a place she hated?
He placed a comforting hand on Throttle's shoulder, who looked up at him blankly. Axle managed a weak smile at him. Smoke started crying again then, and the father went to tend to him, leaving Throttle sitting on the bed.
"Damn it," Axle muttered, opening up their small cabinet. "Someone broke in here again and stole all the formula."
"What do we do now, then?"
It was the first time Throttle had spoken since he had stopped crying. Axle felt a glimmer of hope that Throttle could put aside his own remorse for a moment to think about the family.
"How about we take care of him?"
The two mice turned to find they were no longer alone in the room. Two Plutarkian officers stood in their doorway.
"What do you want?" Axle asked testily, holding the small boy closer in his arms.
"We understand that things are difficult for you right now, Mr. McCloud. We're here in your child's best interest. He'll be placed where he can get proper care and food."
"You're not taking my son away from me, you bastards." Axle warned, a dangerous look crossing his face. Throttle got up to stand next to his dad. He had already lost a parent today, he would be damned if he lost his brother.
"Mr. McCloud, you're being unreasonable. If you won't cooperate, I'm afraid I'll have to use force." the Plutarkian on the left answered.
Axle wouldn't be moved. "You'll take him over my cold dead body." he snarled.
The two officers moved in and Axle handed his smallest child to his oldest and attacked. Throttle backed into a corner as his dad grappled with the guard he had been speaking too moments before. Smoke was screaming in fear in his arms.
The Plutarkian looked beaten, but then pulled a dirty trick, catching Axle in the side with a taser. The big mouse howled in pain and crumpled to the floor, only to be clubbed on the back of the head with the officer's club.
Throttle moved to help, but was confronted by the remaining guard. "Give him up, son. Save yourself a world of trouble."
"NO!" Throttle shouted ducking under the man's grasp. He began to move towards the door, but the officer had grabbed hold of Smoke's tiny foot. The baby screamed.
Throttle jerked around, trying to break the man's grip, only to have the hilt of the Plutarkian's gun smack him across the forehead.
Then everything went black.