Faced with defeat and surrendered on all sides, the Freedom Fighters head deep in Rat and Sand-Raider territory!
BIKER MICE FROM MARS
PART SIX: RUNNING THE GAUNTLET
Disclaimer: Biker Mice From Mars and related characters and concepts are the property of Brentwood Inc. and is the creation of Rick Unger. The story and images presented here are neither sponsored, endorsed, created, by the owners, licensees, or other related entities. The story and images are copyright the writers of this fanfic. Characters Cody Orion, Alexis Sarimana, Tawny, and other characters are the property of thew40 and siruisfanatic (aka Terrabm and Captain Terrabm). Please do not use without permission from either of the writers, which can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and CaptainTerrabm@aol.com.
Author's Note: This story is another in a series of re-postings of the "Red Planet" series. For more information, see "Red Planet - Part One: Invasion."
This is the continuation of the “Red Planet” series by siruisfanatic and thew40.
You can check out artwork for BMFM at my gallery here: http://terrabm.deviantart.com. Also, co-writer TheW40's other works can be found here on Ficwad as well: http://www.ficwad.com/viewuser.php?uid=17565
Chapter 1: Battle for Red Sands Base
Loses had been suffered on the Martian side in all areas of the globe. Not just cities and residential areas, or even untouched land that was primarily natural reserves. The Plutarkians' shadow touched all area of life on Mars, and with surprising resistance of it's people against their invasion, it now turned its sights on eliminating and disabling their military power. They had managed to bribe and infiltrate much of the Army and government's higher-ups. But that didn't stop a few honest Martians who couldn't be bought or threatened.
Plutark had reason to fear these few good men and women left, because they could surprise them. Therefore they decided it would be in their best interest to leave them without weapons and resources. And that meant taking full control of Mars' military bases as well as its personnel.
Red Sands Base, was one of the largest military owned and operated bases on the planet, and Plutark had it in its sights. Settled near the remains of Sentry City, it had for years served as the outpost against the Sand-Raiders and Rats western boarder.
The Freedom Fighters received word that Red Sands had been taken by Sand-Raiders nearly two weeks after the event. This was disheartening to many, because that meant that the Sand Raiders were now in possession of any classified information and technology within the base, and there was certain to be a good bit of that at Red Sands. And any upper hand to the enemy was a blow to the Martians.
Stoker, however, saw it as an opportunity. But then again Stoker saw almost everything as an opportunity.
Spring was melting into summer, and the days were growing longer and warmer. One of those peculiarly warm spring evenings was when Stoker BlackRuby called together his Freedom Fighters for a briefing on their next mission. Among those present were Throttle, Modo, Vinnie, Alexis, Cody, Tawny, and Harley. Axle and Lucas’ units had since headed into separate directions, chasing after rumors and reports. Axle felt that since he was heading into much more dangerous area, Throttle’s place was better with Stoker. Throttle didn’t argue. Stoker and his unit had made their home in an old hotel, since abandoned by the owners. They met in the lobby of this hotel.
Tawny was looking in particularly foul temper that evening, as she had been with Stoker ever since they had left Pax almost two and a half ago weeks ago. Cody was still trying to piece together what had happened between the two lovebirds to cause normally sweet and docile Tawny into such a foul and morose temper, while the younger members of the group remained blissfully unaware of the underlying romantic tension.
All perhaps, except...young Vincent Van Wham. Vinnie, like Tawny, had been acting strangely since the arrival of their newest member, Harley. He hadn't really a chance to meet her when she first arrived, and hadn't properly been introduced to her until just a few days ago. But ever since then, the young mouse had been strangely absent minded and wishy-washy.
They small group, consisting of our regulars and ten or fifteen other Freedom Fighters that routinely traveled with Stoker's unit, gathered around their camp fire and awaited their newest assignment.
Stoker took a moment before speaking, staring into the fire, as if unaware of the men and women gathered around him.
"Bros, as you all know, Red Sands Base was taken under Sand Raider control a couple of days ago. It's a huge lose not just for the military, but for us too." he began. "However, I have a plan that might turn that around. Now, like everything we do, it'll be very dangerous, but we are the closest Martian force to base at the moment, since it's only a day's trek west of us. I think, we pull together with Lucas's unit, that we may be able to retake the base."
"Stoker, even with Lucas's men, won't we still be out numbered?" Modo asked curiously. Sand Raiders traveled in packs, it being their nature, and while not the brightest of species on Mars, they were quite apt at fighting and extremely viscous.
Stoker grinned at his younger bro. "It's possible they will have more man-power than us, Modo, yes. But they don't have the ingenuity that we do. They won't be expecting the Freedom Fighters to interfere with military property, so they won't be suspecting a small force sneaking up on them."
Modo mulled this over, glancing at Throttle as if hoping his friend could make better sense of it, but Throttle had nothing to offer. He trusted Stoker's judgement completely, but that didn't mean it didn't scare him sometimes. Stoker saw that his Freedom Fighters were not looking entirely sure of his proposal.
"Come on, bros. Don't ya trust me?" he asked, looking around at all of them.
Cody, Stoker's first and number one man, stood up then. "I'm with ya, bro. We can do this, if we all just pull together! Come on, think of what a kick in the ass it'll be for those slobber-face mutts?!" Cody cheered.
"Yeah, we'll totally kick ass!" Vinnie added, standing with him.
"We're with ya bro, all the way." Throttle nodded as he and Modo stood as well. This heartened the rest of the group.
"Alright then! Let's tuck in and get some rest, tomorrow we head out. Flare, do me the honors and let Lucas know our game plan, got it?" the chocolate-furred mouse said. Flare nodded and scurried off to their tent where they had set up their two-way communicators.
As the group started to disperse however, a few remained in their seats. Stoker continued to look into the fire, as Harley, who had been standing behind him all this time, came and daintily took a seat next to him.
"Hey pretty lady." Stoker said, smiling at her.
"Sounds like a pretty big undertaking if you ask me." Harley said, pushing her long waves of wheat-colored hair back behind her shoulders. "Sure you aren't biting off more than you can chew, Freedom Fighter?"
Stoker had a mischievous gleam in his eyes as he smiled back at her. "I do have a tendency to do so..."
Across from them Tawny stood up in a huff and stormed away, disappearing into her own tent. Cody, looking worried and flustered, followed her. Modo, Throttle, and Alexis moved to head back to their own tents for the night, when they noticed that Vinnie still sat there like a stone.
"Hey, Vincent, you comin' or what?" Throttle called.
"Wha...?" Vinnie murmured as if in a dream.
Alexis lifted an eyebrow and bent beside him. "What are you staring at, doofus?" she asked. She followed Vinnie's dreamy gaze and saw that he was staring at Harley.
"Oh gross!" Alexis cried, standing back.
"What?" Modo asked.
Alexis rolled her eyes. "Vinnie-the-ninny here's got a crush on our new nurse." she sighed.
"Looks like he's not the only one," Throttle chuckled, glancing at Stoker. "Stoke's definitely putting the moves on Harley."
Modo nodded, and silently wondered if maybe this was the reason Stoker's head didn't seem to be entirely in the game tonight. He supposed a woman could bewitch you at any age though, not just as a young man like Vinnie. And Harley certainly was beautiful.
Vinnie stood up then. "Yeah well, he'd just better watch himself, or that pretty lady just might notice yours truly over here and forget all about the old geezer." the white-furred mouse declared as he and his bros trotted off to bed.
"As if! Vinnie, she's got to be in her mid-twenties." Throttle laughed.
"So? Haven't you heard that women like younger men?" Vinnie asked, flexing his slowly growing muscles.
"Ha, I thought it was the other way around." Modo chuckled.
"Uh, boys are such pigs!" Alexis sniffed, breaking away from them and trotting towards her bunk alone.
"What's gotten into her?" Vinnie asked.
"I suppose the same thing that's gotten into Tawny," Modo said thoughtfully.
"Yeah..." Throttle nodded. He smirked then. "But seriously, did you bros see the size of her boobs? Holy shit! I got a boner just meeting her..." the tan-furred mouse laughed.
When Stoker finally returned to his own tent, which he shared with Cody, he found his bunk-mate waiting for him, and not at all his usual jovial self.
"Oh, hey Cody. Thought you'd be sleeping." the chocolate-furred Freedom Fighter said as he stepped inside and began to peel off the layers of his clothing.
"You're a total asshole, do you know that?" Cody began without preamble.
Stoker paused in the middle of pulling off his boots and swiveled around to look Cody in the face. "Excuse me?"
"Tawny? Remember her? You two had a thing going, or at least she thought you did." the sandy-furred mouse replied.
Stoker blinked. "I never said we had a 'thing', Cody. Where is all this coming from?" he gasped, hands on his knees as he sat facing his friend.
"From the poor girl who's heart you broke, that's who. Come on, Stoke'. She really likes you, and then all the sudden another piece of ass comes along and you forget about her completely! I mean, are you just horny or is your head crammed up your ass?"
"Okay, can the attitude, Cody! The last thing I need is a lecture from you. Look, I never said that Tawny and I were exclusive, or even that we were a couple! We just...fooled around a bit when we got over-stressed that's all..."
"Well then maybe you should explain that to her." Cody nodded.
"Fine! I will. I'll fix it, don't worry, okay?" Stoker muttered, pulling his shirt over his head.
"And another thing," Cody began then. Stoker stared at him incredulously. "Where the hell did you come up with this crack-pot scheme to take over Red Sands huh? It's suicide!"
"Whoa, back it up!" Stoker cried, getting to his feet, staring Cody down. "You were all for the idea out there, what the hell happened?"
Cody stood up so that he could look him in the eye. "What happened was you were floundering like a fish in front of your men, and I didn't want to see you embarrass yourself! You'd better think this thing through really carefully, Stoker, because once we get out there, there's no turning back."
Stoker threw his discarded shirt in Cody's face. "I have thought this through, thank you very much!"
Cody tossed the shirt aside in aggravation. "No you haven't, all you've got your mind on is a pair of big blue eyes, and an even bigger pair of tits! You're doing this to show off!"
Stoker had never come so close to out-right decking Cody in his whole life. "You think you can lead this better than I can, Orion? Just say so!" he shouted, his voice rising.
"I'm not saying you aren't capable you asshole, I'm saying you had better start using this head to think with," he taped his index finger against Stoker's forehead, "instead of that head!" he finished, gesturing to Stoker's crotch.
Stoker threw up his hands. "You know what Cody, fuck you." the chocolate-furred mouse sighed, grabbing his coat and heading back out of the ten without even putting his boots back on.
Cody watched him leave, and then heaved a great sigh of frustration and fell backwards on his bed. "Shit."
Stoker spent most of the night perched on the edge of a rock that overlooked a long expanse of desert and rock that stretched before them. Miles away in the distance, beyond his vantage point, was the destination of their next battle. A battle that Stoker was no longer sure should be fought by him.
Once he'd let off some steam, he had begun to think a little more clearly. He realized that the task he was so willing to take on, might be one that he and his Freedom Fighters couldn't handle on their own. At least not without a lot of casualties, and that was no victory.
Dawn came on colder than Stoker had expected and he shivered as he watched his breath form in front of him in tiny white clouds.
"Hey..." a voice said from behind him suddenly.
Stoker turned his head to see Cody standing there holding his boots and a blanket in his hands.
"Hey." Stoker nodded.
Cody Orion sat down next to his friend, draping the blanket across Stoker's shoulders and setting his boots between them. "Thought maybe you might want these."
"Thanks." Stoker said, huddling into the blanket. "I'm sorry I lost my temper, back there."
Cody nodded. "Well...you wouldn't have if I hadn't provoked it, I guess. Sorry I called ya an asshole . . . you asshole." Cody chuckled, punching Stoker playfully in the arm.
Stoker chuckled and hit him back. "Eh, I deserved it. I feel terrible about Tawny."
"So...go talk to her." Cody shrugged.
Stoker pulled on his boots one-by-one. "I will, I will."
Cody paused, watching the sun come up over the sand-dunes, watching it's morning light turn the rust colored sand deep crimson red. The color of blood.
"And . . . did you think about anything else I said?" he asked at length.
Stoker grunted. "I have. But . . . I still think it's a battle worth fighting."
Cody heaved a sigh and nodded in return. "Then I trust you."
Stoker eyed him out of the corner of his eye. "Really?" he asked softly.
Cody Orion grinned. "I will follow you to whatever end."
Lucas and company arrived shortly after breakfast, and he and Stoker talked in private inside their tent for what seemed like hours. The rest of the company, a total of a hundred and ninety men and women all together, lingered about the camp, talking amongst themselves.
Finally, Stoker and Lucas emerged from the tent and addressed their followers.
"Bros, listen up!" Lucas called. The camp fell into a hush. "Stoker and I have talked it over, and after a lot of thought on our parts...we've decided that the plan to take Red Sands Base will go forth as planned." And excited murmur ran through the throng of Martians, but Lucas held up his hands again.
"Listen! Listen please...any of you, who do not wish to participate in this battle, please...do so. This is not the army and we will not force our friends and brothers to do something that they do not feel as right. However, we've done the rough calculations and from what our sources tell us, we will need at least a hundred and thirty of you to help counter this attack. All in say 'aye'!"
A roar of affirmation came back, there were but a few who said nothing. Stoker grinned at his men. "Thank you. Thank you all. Now, let's saddle up Freedom Fighters! We have some Sand Raiders to deal with!"
"IT'S TAIL WHIPPIN TIME!" the roar came back.
They were overwhelmed. Bitterly so. The Sand Raiders had not anticipated an attack from a small force as Stoker had predicted no, but they had come prepared for a much larger one, and had the men and the weapons to spare. Their land crawlers, huge mechanical robots that had an open control area and then two long legs that sprouted down from below and well equipped with grappling guns, did the biggest part of the damage as they stalked about the desert like some hideous mechanical prehistoric beasts. What the land crawlers did not crush or cut down in their path, the Sand Raiders disabled with their tangle-springs, which they launched like shrapnel through the air. Should a motorcycle or jeep be caught in the path of one of these deadly snares, they would be sent flying from their vehicle, often to their deaths.
Stoker himself was bruised and bleeding, having been thrown from his own bike once already and had taken up the attack on foot. He crouched behind a rock that stuck up from the ground and tried to cover himself behind it as he shot at any approaching Sand Raiders.
"Stoker!" Tawny screamed coming along side him.
An explosion rocked the air as one of the land crawlers erupted in flames, thanks to young Modo Maverick. Stoker grabbed her and threw her to the ground, covering her with his body and he put his hands over his head to shield from the flying debris.
"Stoker we have to get out of here! We can't handle this!" she screamed. Stoker hugged her hard as they sat up.
"I think you're right, sweetheart. Go on, get out of here, I'll sound the retreat!" he said. She nodded fearfully and stumbled past him, throwing a barrage of flash bombs in her wake. Stoker gritted his teeth angrily and then screamed into his communicator. "PULL BACK! FREEDOM FIGHTERS! PULL BACK AND RETREAT!"
The Mice rallied as they began to pull back, picking up their wounded and dead and getting their last kicks in as they fled.
"STOKER!" Lucas shouted then, coming along side him then. "Get on!"
Stoker leapt onto the back of his friend's bike, putting his hands on his sides. "Man am I glad to see you."
Lucas raced across the battle field, Stoker sitting behind him, watching as their efforts at taking the base went up in smoke rising over the sand dunes. But the Sand Raiders weren't ready to let their enemy go so easily.
As they watched the Mice retreat they launched one last wave of tangle springs into the air.
Lucas looked above him in horror as he watched the volley of metal death soar over their heads and come to rest in their path. "BRO, HOLD ON!" Lucas screamed as he swerved hard, dodging the gauntlet of springs as they came to rest upon the sand.
For all Lucas's brilliant maneuvering, the unsteady terrain and the evasive swerving soon got the better of him. The bike bounced as a bomb went off next to them, and both mice went flying through the air.
Lucas came down hard on his shoulder and rolled for several feet, feeling the course sand tearing through his brown leather jacket and shredding at his pant legs. He laid on the ground for several moments stunned, hearing the world around him erupt in screams and fire. He lifted his head, peering through the cracked visor of his helmet. "Stoker...? Stoker?!"
The tan mouse looked around frantically for his partner, who at first seemed to be no where in sight. Then he spotted him, lying several feet to his left, on his side, unmoving. "STOKE!"
Lucas scrambled across the sand on his belly, trying to stay low so not attract further fire. "Stoker! Stoker! Can you hear me!?"
His friend grabbed hold of Stoker's shoulder and turned him over to face him. Blood poured liberally down Stoker's slack face from a wide cut that arched from his eyebrow to his mid-forehead.
"Stoker!" Lucas shook the chocolate-furred mouse, but he did not open his eyes. Fear rising in his throat, the tan mouse held his fingers to Stoker's neck and was relieved to feel a strong pulse. "Come on, bro, I gotta get you outta here..." he muttered to himself as he slung one of Stoker's slack arms across his shoulder and started to hoist him up.
Lucas looked up fearfully to be greeted by the face of a Sand Raider holding what looked like a battle-axe above his head.
Lucas's mouth fell open in horror, realizing there was no way he could move fast enough with Stoker's unconscious body in his arms to avoid the oncoming blow. However, he needn't have worried about it.
The Dog's axe fell behind him suddenly as his eyes widened before going dull and dead and he simply keeled over. Behind him stood Throttle, his gun still raised.
"Is he okay?!" the young mouse cried, staring down at Stoker in horror.
"He'll be all right! Let's get out of here!" Lucas answered as the young Freedom Fighter helped him shoulder Stoker and together they ran for cover.
Once they rejoined the ranks, Lucas rushed Stoker towards the medic tent. Their men stared in horror as they passed, not knowing what to think.
"NO!" Cody screamed suddenly pushing forward through a throng of bystanders. He grabbed hold of Lucas as he passed and looked with wide, terrified eyes as Stoker laid inertly in his arms.
"He's just wounded Cody, it's all right!" Lucas tried to explain as the sandy-furred mouse held Stoker's bloodied face between his hands.
Harley came plowing forward then, her first-aid kit in hand while two other medical personnel followed behind her with a stretcher. "Let me through, excuse me please!" she urged as she dropped down in front of Cody and Lucas, looking Stoker over.
Tawny appeared then and screamed when she saw her friend lying so still. Cody lifted himself from Stoker and wrapped his arms around the screaming woman, pressing her face against his chest and he held her. "He's all right, sweetheart, he's not dead...he's not dead..." He seemed to be assuring himself of this fact as much as Tawny.
Harley and Lucas laid Stoker down on the stretcher as Harley began feeling him over for any other wounds besides the obvious ones on his face. She found what might be a fractured or bruised rib and two deep shrapnel cuts in his back. "I need an I.V. and disinfectant, now!" she ordered.
She looked to Lucas who had just realized his arm and shirt was wet with the blood that had been coming from Stoker's back. "I'll take care of him and the others, I promise." she said looking him in the eyes. Lucas nodded mutely.
As Stoker and the other wounded members of their party were carted off in jeeps back to their camp, Lucas looked at his remaining men.
"Is there anyone missing or unaccounted for?" he called. There was no reply from the dirty and scathed troops. "Alright then...let's get out of here. We'll fall back and regroup."
The reply was weak and disheartened.
Afternoon broke damp and cold over the land, heavy clouds shrouded the sky in endless grey, dulling the red and orange of the landscape, and perfectly suiting the Freedom Fighter's mood.
Thankfully, the Sand Raiders had not decided to pursue their prey, allowing the Freedom Fighters to lick their wounds and regroup in peace.
Modo and Alexis were helping take role-call, to account for anyone who might have gone missing during the skirmish without anyone noticing. Cody and Tawny were attending to the damaged machinery with several of their other members who were decent mechanics. Lucas, meanwhile, had the unpleasant task of counting the dead. Ten of their one hundred and ninety were dead. Another thirty of them were wounded.
Outside the hospital tent, Throttle and Vinnie sat, awaiting the news about Stoker. Vinnie sat, mutely playing with a yo-yo he'd picked up at their last stop in a real town. It wasn't much entertainment, but it helped pass the time and Alexis was teaching him some pretty neat tricks on it.
Throttle however, sat with his hands folded limply in his lap, his eyes staring unfocused at the ground in front of him.
Vinnie chanced a glance his way. "Heard you're the reason Lucas doesn't have a hole in his head. Good job."
Throttle didn't seem to have heard him, because he neither looked up nor spoke. Vinnie tapped his boot lightly with his foot. "Hey...I'm talking to you..."
"I don't want anyone else to die." Throttle said softly. Vinnie blinked, not having expected this sort of response from his friend.
"What...? Throttle, this is war...people die, bro." Vinnie admitted. And admitting it scared him more than he thought it would. Scared him so bad he thought he might like to run and hide from the very idea of it.
Vinnie blinked as Throttle's face suddenly became wet with tears and his hid his face in one hand, sniffling and gasping for air that was choked on sobs.
Vinnie hesitated, and then put a hand on Throttle's knee in an awkward gesture of comfort.
Harley came out of the tent then, pulling bloodied surgical gloves off of her hands. Both Throttle and Vinnie looked up at her.
"Everything all right boys?" she asked, looking at them.
Vinnie opened his mouth as if to say something, but could find no words. Instead he just stared at her and the oddness of seeing such lovely hands with blood stains on them.
"Can we see Stoker?" Throttle asked, wiping hard at his face. Harley smiled at him gently and laid one of her hands on his cheek, dabbing at one of the tears on his cheek with her thumb. Vinnie felt jealousy well up inside him like a boiling pot.
"Sure thing, darlin'. But he's sleeping now, so don't stay long." she said gently. Throttle nodded and dashed inside the tent, leaving Vinnie to stand alone with Harley.
She smiled at the young white-furred man. "That was very sweet of you, sitting with your friend like that."
"Well...he's my bro, ya know?" Vinnie shrugged. Harley giggled and kissed his cheek lightly, and Vinnie blushed hard beneath his fur.
"What's your name?"
"I...I forget." Vinnie mumbled.
Inside the tent, Throttle's nose was nearly overwhelmed with the smell of blood and peroxide accompanied by undertones of vomit and wet earth. He scanned across the row of wounded men until he spotted Stoker's bed.
Throttle took a steadying breath as he approached the bed, his eyes set on Stoker's face. Part of it was obscured by a thick, bloodstained bandage above his left eye that wrapped around his forehead.
Throttle sat slowly down in the small fold-up chair that was next to his bed, staring at the strange sight of Stoker BlackRuby lying still and slack, when Throttle's only memories of him had been as a vital, strong man. Stoker had been there since he could remember, before then even. His father and Stoke had been good friends and Stoker had become a frequent visitor at the McCloud home.
The tan mouse looked up with a gasp then as he looked up to Stoker's green eyes gazing back at him. "Hey, bro..." he said, his voice dry and scratchy.
Throttle put a nervous hand on Stoker's arm. "Hey...how you feelin?"
Stoker gave him a week grin that showed his teeth. "Heh...like I've been run-over...twice. But I've felt worse, that's for sure." he admitted. He lifted his hand at stroked Throttle's cheek for a moment, pushing the young man's wild hair out of his face. "How about you? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Throttle chuckled and shook his head. "Yeah...maybe." he admitted softly. Stoker sighed from somewhere deep inside himself.
"Hey, look at me McCloud," he said then. Throttle looked at him obediently. "I know what you're thinkin', huh. You're thinking...that I'm gonna end up like your mom."
Throttle bit his lip and his eyes faulted at this. Stoker took his chin and made him look at him again. "I'm not, Throttle. You understand? I'm not going to end up like that."
Throttle's eyes began to swim with tears again. "If I hadn't shown up when I did, you and Lucas would have an axe in your heads." the boy said through gritted teeth.
Stoker blinked at him slowly. "I didn't know that....but that doesn't change what I said." he said firmly. "You listen to me, Throttle Cassander McCloud. You and I have been through a lot together. And we've still got a lot more ahead of us, good times and bad to be sure. I know you're scared...that's okay. Tell you the truth, I'm scared too. But you aren't alone in this. You got Modo and Vincent to help you through this, and Alexis too."
Throttle smiled a little at this. Stoker smiled in return, brushing away the tears passing down the boy's face. "And you've always got me. The Plutarkians may have started this war, but by God we're going to finish it. Together."