Now joined with the rest of the Freedom Fighters, the group launches their new strategy!
“Onward, you no-good sons of bitches! Roast these fucking Plutarkians asses! I want Earth to smell the burning fish meat!”
Tanis, leader of the third unit of Freedom Fighters, roared into battle. Behind, mixture of former criminals, disenchanted police officers, and various other Martian Mice frustrated with the current situation. They all ran forward, nearly three hundred strong, weapons blazing. This was Stoker and Lucas’ secret weapon – a third group of Freedom Fighters. Hard as nails, harsh, destructive, unpredictable.
The Plutarkians they were facing fought on viciously, although compared to the ragamuffins that Tanis was leading, it wasn’t much of anything. As harsh as they were, Tanis’ 300 were harsher.
“Their lines are breaking,” reported Fagle, Tanis’ second in command.
“I can see that! ONWARD! I WANT NONE OF THEM LEFT ALIVE!”
Tanis couldn’t let them know they were there. If the Plutarkians learned that all of the Freedom Fighters were gathering together, it would just paint a huge target on them.
There was suddenly a huge series of explosions coming from the other side of the Plutarkian units. The other Freedom Fighters were moving, led by Stoker himself. Scores of Freedom Fighters flanked him, weapons blazing hard at the Plutarkian commandos.
The battle was over in an hour.
“Tanis, good to see you again,” Stoker greeted.
“Yep. Same here. Where’s Lucas? Dead?”
“No. Jeez Tanis, have a little faith. There’s a town about seven miles south of here. It was abandoned when we got there, so we’ve taken it for now. Just follow us.”
“Sounds like a plan. Any port in a storm, right?” he chuckled grimly. Stoker nodded, but honestly Tanis gave him the chills sometimes. Talk about your gallows humor.
From behind them, a group of younger mice approached. Tanis surveyed them with mild interest.
“Stoker!” Modo called, who was in the lead of the small group. “Are we ready to head into town?” He stared at the red furred mouse standing beside Stoker, a new comer to their ranks as far as he knew.
“Not quite yet, bros.” Stoker answered. “I don’t suppose you’ve met Tanis then, have you?” he asked, looking to the younger set.
“So YOU’RE the crazy bastard who’s out there shooting up everything in sight!” Vinnie spoke up then, moving from behind his bros. “I like your style, friend.”
Tanis smirked at the boy. “So, I see Stoker’s robbing cradles for recruits now, huh?” he snarked.
“We’re not children.” Throttle said firmly. “And personally, I think you handled that whole situation a little excessively.”
Tanis rolled his red eyes. Clearly he had no time for this. “I did what you punks are afraid to do. Ask your leader here. That’s the job he hired me for.” Tanis walked off without another word to the group, heading to where his own men where awaiting further instruction.
“Damn, Stoker, where’d you dig that one up?” Modo asked, watching as Tanis descended down the hill to his own unit.
“Tanis? He’s a good guy. A little hard-core, I’ll admit.” Stoker nodded. “Don’t get too close though, bros. They’re a special unit for a reason. Half of them I wouldn’t trust farther than I could throw them, were it not for their hate of Plutarkians outweighing their hate of everything else.” He explained.
“And you expect this guy to keep them in line? They more or less slaughtered those Plutarkians. I dunno…” Modo mumbled. Much as he hated the Plutarkians, there was still a line between defense and honorable combat and murder for hire.
Stoker patted Modo’s shoulder. “They’re disciplined enough. Ex-cops, ex-military men…then of course there’s your convicts. But we’ll take all the help we can get, no matter where it hails from.”
Vinnie seemed to be mulling it over.
“Don’t get any ideas, bro.” Throttle warned, elbowing him.
The basement of an old house served as the ‘command center’ of the Freedom Fighters. Stoker sat in one corner, a beer in his hand, looking hard and long at a nearby map. Lucas was standing at the edge of the table, looking hard at the map. Tanis was busying himself with a small meal made by Harley.
“So . . . Plutarkians to the west, Sand-Raiders to the south, Sand-Raiders to the north, and both of them to the east,” Tanis grunted, chewing the meat off a bone. “What do you have planned, Stoker?”
“The Plutarkians aren’t as stupid as everyone jokes,” Lucas said darkly. “It won’t be long before either them or the Sand-Raiders figure out that we’ve been gathered in one place and come to rip us new assholes.”
“We can take those fuckers,” Tanis said. “Damn it, this is good food. I’ve been eating bugs for the past few weeks.”
“They may end up eating us all when we get caught here,” Lucas replied.
“And they call me grim.”
Stoker stood up, walked over, and put his finger on Brimstone City. “We need to be here . . . or close to it. That’s where all the families are and that’s where the Plutarkians are going to concentrate at. We get here . . . and we spread out. Branch out across the world.”
“Fucking great dream, Stokey,” Tanis grumbled. “Really. But how are you going to pull that off?”
“The only way to get back to Brimstone is back the way we came.”
Stoker shook his head. “It’s not.”
“Oh? Just what you got planned?” asked Tanis
Stoker pointed to a rather huge area between their location (east of Richie and west of Sentry City). This area – between Sentry City and Olympus Mons – was Rat and Sand-Raider territories. Most of it was uncharted and the boundaries were the victims of constant and consistent change.
“You’re joking, right?” asked Lucas.
“Nope, he ain’t,” Tanis said, pushing his plate away.
Stoker leaned back and cracked his back. Lucas sat back. “You really mean that? Really?”
“Serious. Cut through the Rats and Sand-Raiders, do some serious damage. Go on the offensive, then reach Brimstone and regroup.” He looked to Tanis. “What do you think?”
“You know what I think. It’s time to take the dick to their asses, if ya catch my meaning.”
Stoke shrugged. “How could I not? Lucas?”
“I’m . . . a little reluctant, but Stoker, if you think this is right . . .”
“I do. We’ll leave tomorrow . . .”
As news of the newest plan of action slowly circulated through the group, the bros where left a bit stunned. It was not unusual for Stoker to take the path less traveled, but this…this was a little more than just ‘ballsy.’
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I think that Tanis has been a great influence on Stoker.” Vinnie nodded as he tried to get comfortable on his cot.
“Oh you do, do you?” Modo mumbled.
“Yeah!” The white-furred mouse nodded. “I mean, think about it, this way WE control the situation, it’s on our terms not theirs. Normally, they act and we react, but this…this levels the playing field just a bit.”
Vinnie had a point.
“I wouldn’t exactly call it leveling the field.” Throttle answered. “More like, taking the first penalty shot. We can still miss, even without the interference.”
Vinnie rolled his eyes. “You are always there, just waiting to crush my enthusiasm.”
Throttle patted his shoulder. “It’s kept you alive so far, hasn’t it?” he replied.
“Tanis could be bad news, bros, seriously.” Modo answered. “Not that I don’t trust that his heart’s in the right place,” He amended quickly when both Throttle and Vinnie raised an eyebrow. “just that people like him tend to get caught up in the…madness of the battle, catch my drift?”
Vinnie blinked. “You mean…killing more Plutarkians and Sand Raider scum? Hmmm…no no, I don’t see what you mean.” He rolled his eyes in irritation. “Geez, Modo what have you got against this guys just cause he’s a little unorthodox? Hell WE’RE considered unorthodox.”
“Oh shut up with that.” Modo muttered. “What I’m WORRIED about, jack-ass, is friendly fire. You know when things get bad out there it can turn into every mouse for himself.”
“I trust Stoker’s judgment in him.”
To everyone’s surprise it was Vinnie who spoke this.
“Come again?” Throttle chuckled, rubbing his ears. “Did my ears deceive me? Did you just say--?”
“You heard me.” Vinnie answered.
“We all heard you.” Another voice said then, sounding sleepy and grumpy. Cody’s burly head lifted from his pillow.
“Can the three of you have your heart-to-hearts somewhere else? Some of us would like some sleep so we’ll be in a good mood when we have to slaughter people.” He grumbled rolling over.
“Sorry Cody.” Modo nodded apologetically.
“By the way, the smart-ass is right. Stoker knows what he’s dealing with. You’ve got nothing to worry about,” he added.