A Grey Mouse Named London

By London

               KA-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM!  Well, I think that's the last one on this piece of shit ship.  I rested the barrel of the gun against my right shoulder.  I counted every Plutarkian scumbag that was on this ship.  There had been 155 of them.  Then, there had been me.  Yes, there were a few other Cave Mice, but their souls had been defeated by time and abuse.

               I watched the blue-green blood ooze around the last Plutarkian on the floor.  I saw a flat cylinder nestled in the forming pool of his blood.  An info unit.  Plutarkians used these all the time.  Everyone had their own and a pass key to go with it.   You just plug it in, put in the key, and you have access to part of the Plutarkian network.   I've seen them use it numerous times before.

               I retrieved it from the pool of blood, fished around for the pass key, and put both into the pocket of my pants.  I walked over the body and straight into the main bridge, where all the controls were.

               I put in the info unit, used the pass key, and had all the systems online in a matter of minutes.  I know not everyone could do this, but I'm not everyone.  I was trained with the Freedom Fighters on the planet Mars.  We were at war with the Plutarkians.  But that was nearly seven years ago.  But, the war had to still be going on.  I saw fresh faces all the time in the prisons.

               I found where I was, two light years from Mars.   Now all I had to do was find the one mouse I was out to find.  I set my course for Mars and moved to a different station.   I plugged in my brothers name and let the computer scan through it's memory banks.  I pulled out the only thing I had left from my past.  A folded, worn out photo that my grey furred mama had taken.

               Modo, my older brother, and I had just gotten home from being out in the field.  We had two nights before being sent out to the red light war zone.  Mama had come barging into the room with her camera in front of her right after we had shredded a pillow during a pillow fight over the television remote.

               I sighed.  Modo had lost his left eye at that point.  I hope he was okay, where ever he was.  He wasn't dead, I would have felt it if he had died.  Maybe he had amnesia or was lost out in space.  I folded the picture and put it away.  I'd have to pay attention before letting myself drift away like that again.

               The computer claimed a few matches on Modo.  I checked the most recent log and found that he was on Earth, specifically a place called Chicago in Illinois.  My mouth dropped open.  I had gone to at least five different systems and he had only been on the neighboring planet?  Despite myself, I smiled that I had found his location.  I read on, finding out that a stinkfish named Limburger was also trying to take over Chicago.  He had sent a handful of reports back to Plutark for review.  I read all of these reports.

               When I was half way through these reports, I got up and changed my course for Earth.  The computer said that I had a day before I would get there.  I went back to reading the reports and wondered how humans reacted to Martians.

               I finished the reports in an hour.  It looks like Modo had Throttle and Vinnie, his childhood pals, with him on Earth.  I hadn't seen them since I last saw Modo.  I stood up with my gun at my side.  I had to go find those other mice and leave them with the ship.

               I passed by the armory and put on a double shoulder holster that had two guns loaded and ready to go.  I grabbed one extra gun for the only other mouse on this ship who seemed to have his wits about him.

               I made my way to the prison cells in the back of the ship.  Marc, the mouse I mentioned before, was keeping the other half dozen mice kept there.  Marc was a tan mouse with sun blonde hair that he kept tied back.  I gave him the extra gun when I saw him.

               "You're alive!" He said.  I nodded. I pulled him to the side so the others wouldn't hear what I was saying.

               "I have this ship set for Earth"  I said. "My brother is there.  Do you remember how to pilot one of these things?"

               "Pretty much" He said.  He tucked the gun into the top of his pants.

               "Good" I said. "You can get to Mars then.  How are these guys doing?  Are they even coherent?"

               "Tania's coming around, so is Raven and Torq" Marc said.  I nodded.  "How did you survive out there?"

               "Vengence" I said.  I stepped towards the other mice. "Any of you who want to get back to Mars, listen up.  I'm heading to Earth, but Marc here can fly you guys to Mars.  It'll take a day for us to get to Earth."

               "What about the Plutarkians?" Tania asked.

               "They're dead" I said. "There's some extra clothes in the medical lab.  They're scrubs, but they're better then rags."

               "London's going to show me to the bridge" Marc said. "You guys can hang out here or come with us."

               I did just that.  I led Marc to the bridge and showed him where the controls were, re-jogging his memory of our Martian training.  He left to go to the armory.  I watched out one of the windows as space, stars, and anything else passed us at a great speed.  When Marc returned he was wearing a black vest that was too big for him, black gloves, and had at least five guns on him.

               He plugged in more coordinates to the navigational computer and came over to stand by me.

               "I just added some coordinates to the board.  We'll orbit Earth once then head straight for Mars" Marc said.

               "I'll need to be transported to Chicago" I said. "That's where my brother is."

               Four mice came into the bridge wearing scrubs and carrying holstered guns.  Marc and I turned to face them.

               "Do you need our help?" Tania asked.

               Marc walked over to them and gave them some things to do.  Raven went over to the communication station and tried to make contact with Mars.  I left the room, trying to find quarters that had a shower.

               I soon found empty quarters and took a quick shower.  It felt good to have steamy water on my fur.  It had been a week since I had had a shower.  I stepped out of the shower and dried off with a large towel.  I wiped the steam off of the mirror and took a good look at myself.

               I had a large grisly scar that ran from the top of my left breast to my left shoulder.  Remnants of a science experiment by the Plutarkians.  There were a few scars on my right side from the few times I had gotten whipped.  I put my black pants back on.  My v-neck maroon shirt was next.  For some reason, my scars felt hard and foreign.  My mind played tricks like this on me every once in a while.  I took the photo of Modo out of my pocket and set it against the mirror.  I'd find him soon.  I pulled my boots on and strapped the guns back into place.  I picked up my pistol gloves and tucked them into my belt.  I put the picture back into my pocket and went to see how our trip was going.

               Marc was giving instructions to a few of the mice that were too emotionally or mentally scarred to really do anything.  They slowly, robotically made their way out of the bridge.  Marc came over to me when he saw me.

               "Looking cleaner" He said.  I looked around.  Raven, Torq, Tania, and the other brown mouse seemed to all have specific jobs. "We got a hold of a small force on Mars.  They'll be watching the skies for us."

               "I've been going over the reports from Earth" I said. "I think the only transporter in the Chicago area will be at Limburger Tower.  Home of the local Plutarkian."

               "Do you still want to go?" Marc asked.

               "Yes" I said.  Marc ushered me into the hall.  The dead Plutarkian that was there before, was now gone.  Probably the assignment to the mice that I had seen leave.  We walked down the corridor until we were away from everyone except for a few dead stinkfish that were on the floor.

               "I don't want you to go" Marc said.  I turned to face him and lean against the wall at the same time.

               "I have to go" I said.  I crossed my arms. "I have to know that my brother is alright.  I'll return to Mars when I know he's alright."

               "What happens if you get stuck on Earth?" Marc asked.  He took a step closer to me. "I'll never see you again.  Never know if you need my help."

               "I'll make it back to Mars" I said.  The ship jolted to the side and we slid into the adjoining wall with a thump. "Gunfire?"

               "Plutarkians" Marc said.  We got up and made our way to the bridge.  Gunfire was bombarding the ship. "Helm, what's our status?"

               "We're still on course for Earth" Torq said.

               "Weapons?" Marc said.

               "Ready to go, sir" Raven said.

               "Then fire!" Marc said. "Blow those putrid bastards to whatever hell they came from!  This is our ship now!"

               I stood there, bracing myself with the doorframe.  I just hoped that we would make it to Earth safely.  I just need to find Modo and everything will be okay.

               "Raven, how're we doing there?" Marc said excitedly.  Raven was quick to push several buttons.

               "Firing all we have" Raven said. "We broke their shields and I'm sending three plasma torpedoes at them."

               "Great" Marc said. "Torq, outrun these clowns."

               "Yes sir" Torq said.  The ship lurched forward a little bit.  Marc ran around, getting information from the stations.

               "Keep going on our plotted course" Marc said. "I'm going to check on the others."

               I let Marc go find the others.  I took the captain's chair.  I looked at the blank screen in front of me. "Anyone know what's wrong with this screen?"

               "The LEDs were shorted out" The brown mouse, who I think is named Ry, said.

               "How about that ship?" I asked. "Are they following us?"

               "I'm not seeing them on our scanners" Tania said.

               "Any idea if they know where we're heading?" I asked.

               "I'm sure they could guess" Tania replied. "But, I think we blew most of the ship up with the plasma torpedoes."

               "Great" I said.  "How much time is there until we get to Earth?"

               "With the new speed, about ten hours" Torq said.

               "Good" I said. "I'm going to go see where Marc went.  Tania, take command until one of us returns."

               "Alright" Tania said.

               I left the bridge.  I made my way down to the prison cells where the others were being kept.  When I got there, I watched as Marc was trying to coax a few of them out of the cells.  I put my hand on his shoulder and he turned towards me.

               "I can't get them to move" Marc said.

               "Then let's just bring them some fresh clothes" I said. "If they don't want to move, then we'll just have to keep them here."

               We retrieved scrubs from the medical lab and left them for the other mice.  We then went to find a kitchen.

               The commons area had quite a selection of worms, beetles, and other insect-like things.  Marc and I were able to find milk, a block of cheese, bread, crackers, and a Martian fruit called Gabza.  We loaded it up into a few paper sacks and took it back to the prison cells.

               "We have some food" Marc said.  He set down his bag of food.  I pulled him out of the prison cell block and we went to give some food to the others. "I can't believe we actually grabbed the cheese."

               "It's edible" I said.  We dropped the bag of food off at the bridge. "C'mon, you need a shower Marc."

               "Eat up, guys, but leave some for us, okay?" Marc said to his new crew.

               Marc followed me down the hall to the quarters I had used to take my shower.  As we walked, he took my hand in his.  I smiled and leaned my head against his shoulder.

               "Babe, I'm going to miss you when you get to Earth" Marc said.  I opened the door of the quarters and we went in.

Eight hours later:

               Back on the bridge.  I'll be near enough to Earth to transport myself into Limburger Tower in about twenty minutes.  Plutarkian head central via Chicago, ah, I'm glad Modo isn't here to know what I'm doing.  He'd kill me.

               Marc walked me down to the transporter room when the time came.

               "You have to promise me that you'll try to get back to Mars" Marc said.

               "I promise" I said.  He held my face in his hands and kissed me with all the force that I knew he had pent up inside of him.  When he broke the kiss, we were both out of breath. "I have to go."

               "Wait" Marc said.  He dug around in his pocket and pulled out a leather band.  He put it around my wrist.  "Come back and buy me a drink okay?"

               "Okay" I said with a smile.  I gave him a quick kiss and stood under the transporter.  He ran the controls and yellow light surrounded me.

Chicago:

               The yellow light dimmed down and I was able to see again.  I was in a laboratory.  I could hear gunfire.  I pulled out both of my holstered guns.  I clicked off the safety and stepped out of the transporter.  I heard the sound of motorcycles and could barely see through the smoke that clouded the room.

               Someone shot at me and missed.  I sneered and pointed into the smoke.  I could see a shadow in the smoke.  I shot at the shadow.  It lurched towards me.  It tackled me around the waist and I fell back hitting my head against the metal plated floor.  One of my guns was knocked out of my hand, but I was good with either hand.  So I aimed my left gun towards my attacker and froze.

               Sitting on top of me was a grey mouse with an eye patch and a mechanical arm.  I knew him though.

               "Modo?" I asked in a small voice.

               "London?" Modo asked back.  I dropped my gun and sat up to hug him.  Instead, he picked me up into a full bear hug.  He set me down.  "Lil'Hoss!"  He looked at me. "Get your guns, darlin'.  We're getting out of here."

               I collected my guns and holstered them.  His blue motorcycle came to a halt beside us and we quickly climbed on.  I buried my face into his back and before I knew what happened, we were on the ground below the building we had been in.

               I looked over to my right and saw two others riding with us.  Throttle and Vinnie, I could recognize them anywhere.  Modo's tail wrapped itself around me protectively.

               By the time we stopped inside a garage, I was in tears.  Modo took his helmet off and stood at my side.  He was crying too.

               "Oh Modo!" I said. "I thought you were dead!  I told mama that I'd bring you home, so I've been searching for years for you.  The Plutarkians captured me and I was their prisoner for almost three years.  But I got them Modo, I killed them all.  I freed all the mice that were on the ship with me.  They're heading to Mars."

               Modo just pulled me into a hug.

               "Who's this?" I heard a female ask.  I looked towards the voice to see Throttle and Vinnie standing next to a brown haired human woman.

               "Charley-ma'am, this is my little sister" Modo said in a choked voice. "London."

               "Hi" Charley said. "I'm Charley."

               "Hi" I said.  I stood up and looked at Throttle and Vinnie.  "I didn't think I'd see you two again."

               It took a second, but I managed to give them a forceful hug.  They smelled of their regular cologne which seemed nostalgic.  I kissed them both on the cheek before stepping back.

               "Look at those arms on you" Throttle chided. "Mmm-mmm.  You've gotten pretty buff there, kid."

               "And hot!" Vinnie said. "You seeing anyone?"

               "Hey" Modo and Charley said.  Charley hit Vinnie in the arm.

               "Ow!  Watch the merchandise Sweetheart" Vinnie whined.  I stepped back and put my arm around Modo's waist.

               "C'mon Darlin'.  Let's get you inside" Modo said. "You hungry?"  I nodded. "You have to try a hot dog."

               "And root beer" Vinnie called after us.

Two hours later:

               We all sat around Charley's dining table.  I had two hot dogs, a root beer, and I had told them all my story of how I got there.  I didn't mention Marc or any of the others to them really.  Just said that some other mice were able to help me get to Earth.

               I felt very tired suddenly.  My body ached, my mind seemed overloaded, and all I wanted to do was curl up next to Modo.  I wanted to wake up tomorrow and not have this be a dream.  I yawned.

               "Getting tired there?" Modo asked.  I nodded.

               "You guys are welcome to stay here tonight, if you want to" Charley said.  I gave her a sleepy smile that said I'd sleep anywhere. "There's an extra toothbrush in the bathroom."

               "C'mon, I'll show you" Modo said.  He pulled me to the bathroom and let me brush my teeth, which felt amazing since it had been a long time since I was able to brush my teeth.  I could hear the guys moving about in the kitchen.  The sound of people moving through a house was a relieving sound.  I don't know why, but I felt so much better.  Charley knocked on the bathroom door.  She had some clothes in her arms.

               "I think these will fit you" Charley said. "You can cut a tail hole if you need to."

               I spat out the toothpaste.  "Thanks, Miss Charley."

               "Just Charley" She said with a smile.  I took the clothes from Charley and kicked Modo out of the bathroom.  I really didn't want him to see my scars.  Not yet.

               I changed into the grey lounge pants and tank top.  My big scar on my shoulder was showing.  It would have to do.  I took a pair of small scissors and cut a tail hole in the lounge pants.  I felt about ready to collapse.

               I went out to the living room.  The guys and Charley were watching something on the television.  I went over and stood behind Throttle and Modo.

               "What are you guys watching?" I asked.

               "James Bond" Modo said.

               "This is one of Modo's favorite movies" Throttle said.  Vinnie put his arm around Charley and smiled.  I put my hand on Modo's shoulder.

               "Where can I crash?  I'm about to fall down" I said.  Modo got up and smiled.  Just like Modo to be all smiles.  He put his arm around my shoulders and then he frowned.

               "What's this?" He asked tracing my big scar.

               "Same thing as that" I said tapping his mechanical arm.  His face had that dopey, worried look to it. "It happened years ago Modo.  I'm fine."  I looked back at the others.  Charley and Vinnie looked away.  Throttle tried not to stare at my scar.  He smiled and turned back towards the tv. "Goodnight."

               "Goodnight" Everyone said.  Modo took me to the bedroom, which had two bunkbeds and a dresser.

               "You can sleep here" Modo said. "I'll be in soon."

               "No" I said.  My fear of suddenly losing my brother hit me like a brick. "Modo, you can't leave me alone.  I'll lose you again."

               "Nothing will happen to you" Modo said. "We'll be right out there watching tv.  If anything happens we'll know about it."

               I sat on the bed and Modo sat down next to me.  I put my arms around him and put my head on his shoulder.

               "Modo, is this a dream?" I asked.  He smoothed my hair and kissed my head.

               "Darlin', if this is a dream, then it's mine" Modo said.

               "I don't want to be alone, bro" I said. "I can't handle being alone right now."

               There was a knock on the door.  Throttle opened the door.  Modo gave me one more kiss on my head and stood up.  I couldn't hear what they said, but Throttle nodded.

               "London, I'll be right out here" Modo said.  "I'll be in in a little bit."

               Modo left and Throttle turned on a lamp.  I watched him.  When I was younger, I used to have such a crush on him.  He was still as handsome as ever.  He sat down on the bed opposite of me and took his boots off.

               "Are you staying in here with me?" I asked.  I kicked myself mentally for feeling so weak and fragile without someone else being present.

               "Yeah" Throttle said. "Is that alright?"

               "Sleep with me" I said.  He looked at me as if I had said that I hit his motorcycle with a bulldozer. "Please.  I…"  I hugged myself. "Please, Throttle."

               "Sure, babe" Throttle said.  He took his vest off, but kept his jeans on. "Get in, I'm going to go change."

               I watched him take a pair of black pants with him out the door.  I didn't move.  I felt as if I was being watched or as if the walls were going to start closing in.  I sat with my knees to my chest.  When Throttle came back in, he motioned for me to climb under the covers.

               I watched him from the edge of the bed, under the covers, as he turned off the lamp and came over to the bed.  He crawled over me and under the covers.  I felt him moving, taking off his glasses and putting them onto a small nightstand.  He spooned up behind me and put his arm around my waist.

               "Throttle?" I whispered.

               "Yeah?" He whispered back.

               "If I wake up and you guys aren't here" I whispered. "Then I'm going to kill myself."

               "Babe, we'll all be here when you wake up" Throttle said with a small squeeze.  "You're safe now."

               I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep fairly quickly.

               When I woke up, I was sandwiched between Throttle and Modo.  Modo was snoring like he always did.  I smiled and snuggled into his chest.  I felt Throttle's grip around me tighten.  Sleep washed over me once more.

               I opened my eyes and saw two Plutarkians looking over me.  They spoke, but I couldn't hear what they said.  I tried to sit up, but couldn't move.  I felt myself start to cry.  It was only a dream I thought to myself.  One of the Plutarkians hit me in the cheek.  I looked back at him.  He seemed to be angry at something.  Probably my crying.

               I tried to speak, but couldn't force myself to say anything.  I only cried harder.  I tried screaming at them to leave me alone.  One of the Plutarkians left and came back with a strange looking sharp object.  I screamed though no sound was audible to me.  Not another one of their experiments.  They hooked up electrodes to various places on my body.  As they appeared to laugh, they flipped a switch.  I shook violently…

               "Wake Up!" Throttle said loudly.  I opened my eyes and tried to sit up.   Modo was holding me down.  I screamed, still seeing Plutarkians.

               "Shhh" Modo said. "Sis, it's me.  It's Modo."

               I looked at him.  I could hear his voice, though the Plutarkians kept their image in my eyes.  I curled up into a ball.  "Modo.  I can hear you Modo."

               "London" Modo said.  I closed my eyes and felt a gentle hand stroking my head. "It's Modo.  You have to wake up."

               "Babe, you gotta open your eyes" Throttle said. "You'll see us.  We're here."

               I felt myself shake.  I opened up my eyes.  Modo and Throttle were peering down at me.  I felt weight at the end of the bed.  I looked down to see Vinnie and Charley sitting there with worried looks.  I sat up and hugged Modo.

               "Oh Modo" I said with tears in my eyes.  I felt him signal something, then I heard the others leave the room. "Modo, I'm so scared of losing you again.  I want to go back to Mars."

               Modo squeezed me to the point of me almost not being able to breath.  This was his really meaningful hug.  I loved this hug.  I kissed his cheek.

               "Go back to Mars with me Modo" I said.

               "I can't" Modo said. "I have to stop Limburger.  That's why we're not back on Mars right now.  We can't let those damned Plutarkians do to Earth what they did to Mars."

"Just ask" I said quietly. "I'll take him out for you. Then you could come
back to Mars with me."
               Modo just squeezed me a little harder. He said "Lets go get some food."

               I stared at the big, flat, brown things in front of me. It looked like bread. The guys were putting syrup, of sorts, on theirs and eating them. I followed their lead. These pancakes actually tasted good. Maybe Earth food wasn't as bad as I was told.
               "These are good" I said between bites.
               "Who is the master chef in the house?" Vinnie asked. "I am. That's right. Can I cook or what?"
               "Or what" Charley said with a smirk. I drank some orange juice and swallowed the acidic flavor with a cough.
               "What is this?" I asked.
               "Orange juice" Everyone replied.
               "It's good for ya" Modo said.
               "I'm sure it is" I said. I went back to eating my pancakes and not drinking the juice.
               "So Plutarkian scumbags did that to your shoulder there?" Vinnie asked. I looked up at him, memories coming to mind. Charley hit Vinnie in the arm. "Ow. Hey!"
               My dream arose in my mind again. I watched in silent horror as the images played before my eyes again. I blinked when the harsh sound of my fork hitting the plate rushed my ears.
               "You alright?" Throttle asked. Modo put his tail on my shoulder. I nodded. I ate another bite with my head hanging low. I didn't want to talk about Plutarkians right now, unless it meant getting back to Mars with Modo.
               The others didn't say a word until I excused myself and asked if I could use the shower. I was given a towel to use. I shut the door when I heard an argument going on. I pressed my ear to the bathroom door and listened.
               "Vinnie, you know there is a time and a place for asking questions like that" I heard Charley say in a low voice.
               "It's kind of hard to ignore a huge scar like that, sweetheart" Vinnie chime in a non-chalant voice. "Besides, I didn't know she'd go all static on us."
               "What didn't clue you in? The bloodcurdling screams? The fact that she seems to be in shock?" Charley asked.
               "Whoa, Charley-girl. Is it like that time of the month again?" Vinnie asked. I leaned my forehead against the door. The fight was about me.
               "You're so insensitive" Charley said. I heard someone else enter the kitchen and quiet them down. I took the break to turn the shower on. I striped off my clothes and stepped under the hot water. I leaned against the wall and sank to the shower floor. I knew I was angry, but I felt like I should cry or hit something or do something to get my mind off of the last couple of years. I stared blankly at the side of the tub where the shower curtain met it. My mind blocked out all sound, except for the water that fell on me.
               I wanted to be home, watching Modo race motorcycles, having tea with Ma, but it seemed as though that would never happen. I rested my head on my knee. At least I found Modo. I found him alive and better then me.
               London, you gotta snap out of it, I thought to myself. In a physical way of mentally picking myself up, I literally stood up.
               I bet Vinnie is out there making fun of me right now, I thought to myself. The more I thought on it, that one idea, the more upset I was getting with Vincent. We'd always been at odds. I praise Modo's tolerance for Vinnie, though I do know that Vinnie is really a good guy. He's just too egotistical for me.
               THUMP-THUMP-THUMP! Heavy knocks at the door. I turned the water off and grabbed my towel. After I was sure the towel was around me, I opened the door.
               "Yeah?" I asked. Throttle was leaning against the door frame.
               "I really need to use the bathroom, babe" Throttle said.
               "Give me a second" I said shutting the door. I quickly dressed and wrapped my head in the towel. Throttle came in before I had a chance to move away from the shower area.
               "Turn around there, kid" Throttle said. I turned as he proceeded to use the toilet.
               "Throttle?" I asked. "Are you guys ever going to go home?"
               "Huh?" Throttle said. He finished up and used the sink. "Yeah. At some point. I don't know when though."
               I turned to face him. My mind was reeling with everything. Modo's words, the dead Plutarkians from the ship, the sound of water, the taste of pancakes, my dreams…everything. I felt defeated again. I came here for Modo and I wasn't sure if I would leave with him.
               "Hey" Throttle said putting his hands on my shoulders. "When you go back to Mars, we'll come see you okay?" I nodded and took a deep breath. Throttle pulled me into a hug. "You want a tour of Chicago today?"
               "I don't know" I said. "I don't know if I'm up for it."
               "Well, come watch some tv with us" Throttle said taking me out of the bathroom. "Maybe you'll feel better."

               I spent an hour watching 'Batman' cartoons. I ended up lying on the couch with my feet on Throttle's lap and Modo sitting on the floor in front of me. I was feeling drowsy and tried to stay awake.
               "Man, Batman has it made" Modo said. "Cool car, lots of money, all those fun toys. Almost as cool as James Bond."
               Throttle laughed, which seemed to make me relax more. "Bro, I think you'd be a superhero if you could."
               "No harm wanting to be a hero, bro" Modo said. My eyes closed. My eyelids felt like lead weights. I felt my tail twitch. The tv droned on and the guys' voices drifted away as I fell asleep once again.

               "Don?" I heard through the blackness of my mind. "Donnie?" I felt a hand shake me. "Donnie, wake up. Hey, it's time to eat."
               I stirred awake and found Vinnie there, waking me up. Vinnie had never really liked my name, at least I don't think he did. He always called me Don or Donnie. I stretched.
               "Hey, sweetheart, it's time to eat" Vinnie said. I sat up and looked at the clock. It read 1:15. I could smell something cooking, though I didn't know what it was.
               "What's to eat?" I asked.
               "Charley's going all out for you" Vinnie said. "Something called a walrus salad or something, um…some other stuff. I don't know. She's a pretty good cook though."
               "What does walrus mean?" I asked. Vinnie shrugged and pulled me to my feet.
               "Hey bros, she's up" Vinnie said bounding into the kitchen. "Charley? What does walrus mean? Don wants to know about that salad."
               "Not walrus, waldorf" I heard from around the corner. I smiled. Vinnie had a knack for neglecting details, unless it was for something he deemed important. I walked into the kitchen and sat next to Modo.
               "I guess I fell asleep" I said.
               "You needed it" Modo said. "Last night, I don't think you really slept at all." I rubbed my face, trying to wake up some more. "We put some clothes in the back room for you to try on. Figured you wouldn't want to stay in, what you have on, all day."
               I went to the back room. I found two pairs of black pants and three dark red shirts. Modo still knew what I liked to wear. I checked the black pants and found tail holes cut into them. I put on the clothes and went back out to the kitchen.
               Everyone was just starting to load up their plates with food. I sat down and looked at the strange looking food. I tried the waldorf salad, macaroni and cheese, and biscuits. It was all pretty good.
               "Charley-girl, what's in this?" Vinnie asked poking at one of the brown nuts in the waldorf salad.
               "It's a walnut" Charley said. Vinnie didn't seem to know what a walnut was or he was just putting on that 'what?' face. "Just try it Vinnie."
               Lunch went by surprisingly fast. The guys talked about Chicago and Earth things while I listened. Charley kept Vinnie in-line with the help of Throttle. It wasn't until the end of the meal, when Charley took everyone's plate that Vinnie mentioned the radio.
               "You guys have a radio link to Mars?" I asked. Marc's image was stuck in my mind now.
               "Yeah" Modo said. "But it doesn't work most of the time."
               "Do you want to use it?" Throttle asked.
               "Use it?" I repeated. I pushed Marc's image out of my head. "No. No, I'll just wait until I get to Mars."
               The guys exchanged a look between them. Moved my head from side to side, trying to make my neck pop. Vinnie stood up after checking the clock.
               "Gotta fly, bros" Vinnie said. "Nubs game starts in two hours. Gotta be back at the scoreboard before the crowd. Charley, you coming to watch the game?"
               "Yeah, let me change" Charley said from the kitchen.
               "Game? Don't people work here?" I asked.
               "It's Saturday" Modo said. "Most people work five days a week. Saturday and Sunday is the weekend."
               "Oh" I said. "You guys going too?"
               "I was hoping to" Modo said. "But, if you don't want to, I'll stay with you."
               "Go" I said.
               "You sure?" Modo asked surprised. I nodded.
               "I think I want some personal time, bro" I said. Throttle got up and hit Modo on the arm.
               "C'mon, bro" Throttle said. "We won't be gone that long. She'll be okay."
               "Yeah, I guess" Modo said. I got up and kissed Modo's cheek.
               "I just want some time to figure things out" I said. "Maybe watch the news, catch up on Earth things."
               Charley walked past us and out to the garage. Vinnie leaned against the wall. I went over to the couch and leaned against the back of it.
               "So, what is a nub game?" I asked.
               "Baseball" Vinnie said.
               "Baseball?" I repeated. What the hell is baseball?
               "Yeah, it's the national classic here" Throttle said. I raised an eyebrow.
               "The Nubs are the Chicago team" Modo said. "We'll have to explain it later."
               Charley came back into the kitchen fully dressed in jeans and a red shirt with her hair in a pony tail. "Hey, I'm ready to go."
               "C'mon, Sweetheart, let's go" Vinnie said. "See ya in a few hours, Donnie."
               "Bye" I said. The others followed them and I chased them with byes.

               I spent a good hour watching CNN, which boasted being the best in news.  Earth seemed to be in bad shape.  There were wars, lots of murders, not to mention that Chicago seemed prone to attracting hordes of bad people.  On the local news, there had been four burglaries, two arson related fires, and three murders.  With all the negative vibes it's no wonder why these Earthlings didn't know about the Plutarkians.  They fit right in.

               I heard a beeping sound from the garage.  I went to the bedroom and grabbed a gun before going out to the garage.

               I turned the garage light on and noticed a blinking red light on a radio system.  I flipped the receiving switch on.

               "London?  You there?" Modo's voice said over the system.  I tried to find the button to talk back. "There's a device with a button on the side of it.  Use that."  He always knew when I needed help.

               "Modo?" I asked into the holes on the mic piece.

               "Hey, darlin'" Modo said. "Just checking up on you.  You alright?"

               "Yeah" I said. "I just watched the news."

               "Okay" Modo said. "If you need us, just use this radio.  If you really need us, then press the red button next to the volume control."

               "Alright" I said.

               "Talk later" Modo said.

               "See you in a bit, bro" I said.  I was feeling tired again.  I felt haggard and cold.  I started to shake.  I locked the garage door and went inside to watch more tv.

               Something was playing on the tv.  I couldn't focus on the tv picture right away.  I had drifted off to sleep.  I sensed movement at the foot of the couch.  My hand found the gun, which I had put under the couch pillow, and I was sitting up with the gun pointed at the figure standing there.

               "For just waking up, you're pretty fast" I heard a husky voice say.  My eyes decided to work.  Throttle stood there with a bag of food in his hands. "Want a potato chip?"

               "Throttle?" I said.  Had I slept long enough for them to be home?  I looked over at the clock.  It had only been an hour and a half since the end of CNN.  That meant that the baseball game had just started. "What are you doing here?"

               He sat at the opposite end of the couch and put the bag of chips down on the coffee table.

               "I just thought you'd like some company" Throttle said.  I sensed something else in his voice.  I put the gun on the table and watched him.  He shifted and went to grab the remote.  I stopped his hand with my tail.

               "What are you really doing here?" I asked.

               "After last night" Throttle said. "I didn't think you should be alone."  He shifted so he had a knee on the couch, facing me. "I didn't think you'd be upset."

               My brain was telling me that something else could be up, but I wanted to trust him so bad.  I just nodded and curled up against the arm of the couch.  I felt myself starting to shake again.  Would this ever stop?!

               "Are you alright?" Throttle asked.

               "Yes" I said. "Just a little cold."

               Throttle moved to check my forehead.  "You're completely frozen.  What did you do?  Eat all the ice in the house?"

               "I – I can't stop – sh-shaking" I said as the cold reached my voice.  Throttle picked me up and took me to the bedroom.  He put me on the bed and gave me my lounge pants.

               "Put them on" Throttle said. "You have to relax."  He left the room and I tried to put them on.  I managed to get everything in place except for my tail.  He came back in and I tried to curl up on the bed.  It seemed like I was lying on a bed of ice.  There was a constant harsh shiver running up my spine.  "Under the covers."

               I tried to get under the covers, but it seemed like such a hard task.  I felt Throttle trying to help shift the covers for me.

               "Don't get too mad at me for this" Throttle said.  He pulled my tail through the tail hole in the pants, which meant he had to pull the pants down in order to do it.  I couldn't feel much, except for the bit of relief for not having my tail in a bunch. "I'll be right back.  Try to relax and warm up."

               It seemed like forever before Throttle came back.  I had almost fallen asleep due to the fact that I couldn't do much of anything else.  I tried saying Throttle's name, but I didn't hear myself.  I heard something hit the floor and then I felt weight next to me in the bed.  Throttle's arms held me.  I could feel the warmth of his body and that made me feel colder.

               "Just try to relax" He whispered. "Just think, soon we'll all be back on Mars.  Modo will be right there when you see your mom.  Vinnie and I will be around, making sure you guys don't get into too much trouble."  He paused, as if the thought made him smile. "We'll be able to see two moons, instead of one.  You'll be all right.  You're all right now.  We're here.  We'll protect you."

               He whispered things like that into my ear until I had fallen asleep.

               I woke up when I felt Throttle being pulled off the bed.  He let out a gasp.  I turned around to see what was going on.  I tried to find a gun, but there wasn't one near me.  I sat up on my elbow and watched as Modo held Throttle by the collar of his vest.

               "Just what do you think you're doing…bro?" Modo asked.  His red eye had started to glow just a little.  Not a real glow, Cave Mice had phosphorus in their irises.  I mean, we're Cave Mice, how do you think we used to get around caves?

               "No" Throttle said hanging onto Modo's fists. "Modo, it wasn't like that."

               "It sure looked bad" Modo said in almost a growl.

               "Modo?" I said.  I went over and put my hands on his arm. "Modo, put him down."

               Modo looked at me and then at Throttle. "What were you two doing?  Or, do I want to know?"

               "Modo, she was frozen" Throttle said. "She was shaking.  I had to keep her warm."

               "I didn't think you'd sleep with her" Modo said not letting go of his vest.

               "Damn it, Modo!" Throttle said. "I radioed you and told you.  She's fine now."

               "Hey, bros, what's the commotion?" Vinnie asked coming into the room.  Immediately he was trying to get him to drop Throttle. "Modo, bro!  Take it easy!"

               "Modo, we didn't do anything" I said.  He looked over at me and the glow from his eye seemed to dim down. "Modo, I swear we didn't do anything.  I was so cold Modo.  I don't really know I got in here, but I know we didn't do anything."

               Modo dropped Throttle, who landed with a loud thud, and hugged me.  Modo let out a deep breath. "Are you okay?"

               "I think so" I said.  "I could use something hot to drink though."

               "Okay, well lets go get some tea then" Modo said.  He picked me up as if I weighed nothing and took me to the kitchen.  I looked behind us and saw Throttle watching us and talking to Vinnie.

               "Everything okay?" Charley asked coming in from the garage.  I was making sure the safety on my gun was on.  I had taken my gun from the coffee table.  I put it in the back of my pants.

               "Yeah" I said.  Modo came out from the kitchen with two mugs of tea. "How was that game?"

               "Nubs lost by one point" Modo said.

               "Yeah, but they almost won" Charley said. "It ran into a tenth inning."

               "Inning?" I asked.  The tea was strong.

               "Yeah.  Baseball is divided into nine innings" Charley said. "It doesn't happen often, but sometimes it runs over."

               "Oh" I said.

               "How are you doing?" Charley asked. She got a mug of tea and sat down with us. "Throttle said something about you being cold."

               "Yeah" Modo said. "Good excuse."

               I punched him in the side hard enough to make him spill a little tea on his hand.

               "I think it was just shock" I said. "I've seen it before.  Never thought I'd experience it."  Charley's expression was of confusion on Modo's part and understanding on mine.  "Throttle was just trying to warm me up and stop me from shaking."

               I remember the shaking.  I remember thinking that I had never shaken like that before.  It all seemed hazy though.  Almost like it had been a dream.

               "I didn't mean any harm" Throttle said.  He sat down at the table with Vinnie. "Sorry, bro.  I was only trying to help."

               "I think you helped enough" Modo said.

               "Modo, I think you need to chill out" Vinnie said. "I mean, if Charley had been frozen and shaking, we'd all do the same thing.  Right?"

               You could see that Modo agreed with Vinnie, but he didn't say anything.  He just sipped his tea.  I put my hand on Modo's lower back.  I could feel him relax just a little.

               "Don't worry about me too much, bro" I said.  He just looked down at me. "I survived a few years of being a Plutarkian prisoner.  I can take care of myself if I need to."

               "Yeah, that scar sure proves that" Modo said.  He stood up and went out to the garage.

               "Modo" I called after him.  The door slammed hard behind him.  I tried to push the tears away from my eyes, but I couldn't stop them from running down my face.  I tried to smile and wipe the tears away. "Family feud."

               I tried to sip my tea, but the cup seemed heavy.

               "Hey, it's okay" Charley said putting a hand on my shoulder.  I was embarrassed to be crying in front of the three at the table, but I couldn't force myself to stop.

               "I need something to do" I said. It was true.  If I didn't start something, I'd be in a constant depressive loop.

               "Know much about fixing motorcycles?" Charley asked.

               "Yeah" I said.

               "You can help me out then" Charley said. "I have this bike in the shop that needs an engine overhaul.  I wasn't going to work on it until Monday.  But, I don't see why I can't do it now."

               I smiled and wiped the last of my tears away.

               Two hours later, the engine was almost totally cleaned.  I hadn't seen Vinnie or Throttle since I'd been out in the garage.  Modo hadn't come back yet.  Charley was checking the fluids on the bike.  I was on my third white rag.  This was the dirtiest engine I had ever seen.

               "What did this person do to this thing?" I asked.

               "It's a racing bike" Charley said. "Maybe he raced in the rain or something."

               "Could have washed it before bringing it in" I said.  I heard an engine in the distance. "Modo?"

               "No" Charley said. "That's not Modo's bike."

               I strained to listen to the engine.  It turned out to be a few engines.  "It's a few engines.  They sound like they're heading in this direction."

               "Vinnie!" Charley yelled. "Throttle!"

               "What is it?" I asked. "Is this bad?"

               "Probably your own belated welcoming party from the head cheese" Charley said.  Vinnie and Throttle came out to the garage.  Their ears twitched as they caught the sound.

               "Yeow!" Vinnie yelled. "I know those engines!"

               "Looks like its time to whip some tail" Throttle said.  They got on their bikes. "You two stay here.  We'll go take care of the goons."

               "Be careful guys" Charley said.  She opened the door and the two mice sped out to go greet the goons half way.

               "What?  They do this for fun?" I asked.

               "I think tonight they're doing it to get Modo's attitude off their backs" Charley said. "But this is what they usually do.  Protect the city."

               It didn't take long, maybe ten minutes at the most, but the sounds of the guys' engines were coming closer to the garage.  But, the engines of the goons were also coming closer to the garage.  I pulled my gun from the worktable and put the rag on the engine.

               "Watch it, Charley" I said. "They're all coming closer."

               As they came closer, there were sounds of gunshots and Vinnie's loud war cry.  My tail twitched and I went to the edge of the open garage door.  I could see the bikes coming closer.  They sped past us.  I took my stance and aimed at the strange looking buggies as they drove past.  I shot the tires out of the first one and picked off the drivers in the buggies that didn't end in a pile up.

               "Whoa" Charley said from behind me.  The guys came back to the garage.

               "What happened?" Vinnie asked almost hysterically.  I kept my position by the door.

               "She took out their tires" Charley said.

               "Donnie did?" Vinnie asked.  He sounded like someone just ate the last of the ice cream he had been saving.  I waited to see if anyone else was coming.  A few men emerged from the pile up.  When they were able to stand up, they pulled out their guns.

               "Watch it" Throttle said.  I shot them in the legs.  Modo would have my head if I killed someone here.  "Nice shot."

               "Don, let us in on the fun" Vinnie whined.  He got off his bike and came over to me. "Give me the gun.  You two should be inside."

               "It's my gun" I said. "Go get your own."

               "Donnie" Vinnie said crossing his arms. "Modo'll kill us if he found out you helped out.  You know that."  I pointed the gun over his shoulder. "Whoa.  Uh, sorry, sweetheart. You don't have to get upset."

               "Quack,quack" I said.  Vinnie's brow furrowed and he fell to his knees.  I blasted the goon that was coming up behind him.

               "Vincent" Throttle said. "Looks like we have some recon work to do with these goons."

               "Yeah, yeah, okay" Vinnie said.  He got up and went to his bike. "Hey, babe, next time you do that, try not to get it so close to the grade A bod.  Okay?"

               I smiled and kept an eye on things in the road.

               "Charley, bring the truck around" Throttle said. "I have a feeling we're going to have to get rid of some of these turkeys."

               "Okay" Charley said without a second thought.  How long had she been doing this?  It seems as though we're all in our own wars, doesn't it?  I stepped back from the garage door and waited for what they wanted me to do.

               "Don, stay here" Throttle said. "I don't feel like getting in more trouble with Modo.  So, please, just stay here.  If anyone other then us comes by, take care of it."

               I nodded.  The wrath of Modo wasn't something to take lightly.  I let them do their thing, load up the unconscious men, and take them to where ever they needed to go.  Vinnie hung back once Charley and Throttle had taken off.

               "That was some sharp shooting" Vinnie said as he parked his bike.  He closed the garage door.  "Who taught you to shoot?"

               "Modo" I said. "Aim, then shoot.  You'll hit your target every time."

               "Yeah, well sometimes you don't have time to make a perfect aim" Vinnie said. "But I hit all my targets."

               "Sure you do" I said.  I went over to the engine and started to clean it off some more.  Vinnie came over and watched me clean it.  He seemed to be waiting for something. "What?"

               "You're pretty cool" Vinnie said. "Not as cool as I am, but I'm hard to beat."

               "Do my ears deceive me?" I said. "That sounded like a compliment, Vinnie."

               "Yeah, yeah" Vinnie said. "I'm going in for a root beer."

               Funny how he gives out his compliments.  Of course, knowing how Vinnie had grown up, he was trying to be nice about it.

               Charley and Throttle came back while Vinnie and I were watching tv.  I had given up on cleaning the engine and had let it soak in a cleaning bath.  I felt my stomach sink when Modo wasn't with them.

               "No sign of Modo?" Charley asked.  I shook my head 'no'.  Throttle came over and sat down beside me.

               "He probably went to the scoreboard, doll" Vinnie said.  Charley seemed to accept the answer.  She went out to the garage.

               "Babe, how, if you're such a good shot, did you end up a POW?" Throttle asked.

               "Yeah" Vinnie said. "You're almost as good as one of us."

               "And, you ended up the same way by the looks of it" I said.  He crossed his arms. "I was hit in the head by a bunch of debris.  There were four of us, holding our own, and all it took was one wild shot.  Rocks came down.  I was hit in the head and knocked unconscious.  I don't know what happened to the others.  That answer your question?"

               "Mood swing" Vinnie sung out.  I jabbed him in the arm and he laughed.

               "Hey, I've never forgiven the Plutarkians for getting us either" Throttle said.  I stretched my neck.

               "What did they do to you?" I asked Throttle.

               "My eyes" Throttle said with a deep breath.  I guess I wasn't the only touchy one. "You?"

               "Other then the scars, I don't know" I said.

               "They didn't say?" Vinnie asked.

               "Nope.  Just lots of pain" I said.

               "Scars?  As in plural?" Throttle asked.  I nodded. "Where?"

               "All over" I said.  I leaned forward and hesitantly lifted my shirt high enough so they could see the whipping scars.  I felt Throttle trace a scar with his fingers.

               "You were whipped?" Throttle asked.

               "Yeah, by a metal whip" I said.  Vinnie looked like he knew what I was talking about.  The sudden cold I had felt before came back and I started to shiver again. "Tea."

               "Vinnie" Throttle said.  Vinnie got up and went to get me a mug of tea.  Throttle hugged me. "You're okay.  The Plutarkians won't get you again."

               Charley came in as Vinnie brought the tea to me.  She was in pajamas.  I took a sip of the tea and felt better.

               "What's going on?" Charley asked.

               "Just a little war talk" Throttle said.  Charley sat down on the arm of the couch next to Vinnie.

               "Maybe we should radio Modo.  See if he's okay" Charley said.  Throttle nodded.

               "I'll go do it" Throttle said.  He got up and went out to the garage.  We went back to watching tv until we heard the loud electronic whine from the garage.  We poured out to the garage. "Modo!  Modo, bro!  Where are you?!"

               "What's happening?" I asked.

               "Modo, we're coming" Throttle yelled into the radio. "Limburger's got him."

               "That fat flounder" Vinnie said. "Let's go kick his ass."

               "I'm going with you" I said.  Throttle and Vinnie just looked at me as they climbed onto their bikes.

               "You should stay here" Throttle said.  I took the extra helmet that was on the workbench and went over to Throttle's bike.

               "I'm going" I said.  I hopped on.  Argument over, I thought.  Throttle took another deep breath and started his engine.  I kept seeing those Plutarkians from my dream, only they weren't doing things to me, they were doing them to Modo.

               It only took a few minutes for us to break into Limburger Tower.  We were back where the guys had found me.  I immediately got off the bike and went to find Modo.

               "Modo?" I yelled.  I went down a small corridor of cells.  "Modo?"

               "Oh! Hey, over here!" A strange voice called.  I turned to one of the cells and saw a Frankenstein, midget monster thing. "OH, shoot me!  Shoot me!"

               "Ew" I said. His head was bald and scarred.  He had just been stitched up from a lobotomy.  It looked like he had had a lot of them.  I moved on down the corridor.  "Modo?" A bald guy, one of the goons, stepped around the corner.  I aimed and shot.  I never miss.  I walked to the end and found Modo on the floor of his cell.  "Modo!"

               I tried shooting the lock, but it wouldn't budge.  Plutarkian steel.  Even their own guns couldn't fire through it.  I tried to reach for Modo through the bars, but he was a few inches too far.

               "Modo!" I yelled again.  He had blood coming from somewhere.  I was guessing his nose, but I could be wrong.  I could hear the freak a few cells down chanting 'we're gonna get you'.  My mind raced back to the ship.  Fury came into my system just like blood filling a glass.  I saw red and let out a howl.  I stepped back and fired at the cell lock until it opened.  I grabbed Modo by his chest plate and dragged him out to where the boys were playing with the goons.  I dropped Modo and started to take aim.

               One, two, three….where was the Plutarkian in all of this?…six, seven, eight.  I saw two figures, one in purple and one in white hiding behind a metal podium.  I made my way over to them.  Goons were still piling into the lab.

               "Do something you malignant ninny!" The purple one yelled to the white one.  Mr.Purple must be Limburger.  I recognized the Plutarkian accent.  I put the barrel of the gun to the back of his head.

               "Turn around slowly" I said in a growl.  He turned around with his hands up.  The doctor, that's how he was dressed, also turned around with his hands up. "Try anything and I'll blow your brains out."

               "Who are you?" Limburger demanded.

               "I got here by your own transporter" I said.  Strike fear and wound them.  No need to kill them if they wet themselves in your presence. "Right before I got here, I killed an entire ship of Plutarkians all by my self.  So, give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you right now."

               "I just work here" The red headed doctor said. "I don't know what's going on!  It's all his fault!"

               "Shut up" I said to him.  I stepped back and shot the doctor in the arm.  Limburger was looking at the barrel of the gun with a certain fear. "Well, what's your reason?"

               "I'll give you money" He said. "Anything.  Just name it and it's yours."

               "How about having all the Plutarkians restore Mars to what it was before?" I said. "That would be good."

               "Who are you, you deviant rodent?" Limburger asked.  I smirked.

               "Modo's little sister" I said.  I pulled the trigger and shot him in the shoulder.  He screamed and fell on top of the doctor, who had passed out.  I grabbed them both by their collars and tried to drag them over to the cells.  Vinnie screeched to a halt before me.

               "Need some help there, little lady?" He asked.  I let him take Limburger over to the cells.  Vinnie and I put them into different cells. "Yeow!  You are hot, babe!  Let's go smoke the rest of these turkeys!"

               "Modo's hurt" I said.  He looked like he was just put on guard duty. "Take him back to the garage."

               "Sure thing" He said. "Vinnie, protector of the meek and Modo."

               I rolled my eyes.  He picked up Modo and left the building.  I went to find Throttle.  He was off his bike and in the middle of a fistfight.  I decided to join in.

               "Did you find Modo?" Throttle asked.  I kicked one of the goons in the chest, knocking him into another two goons.

               "Yeah" I said.  One of the goons managed to sock me in the stomach.  I ran at him, barreling into his stomach.  Modo had taught me that.  I stood up and blocked another attack. "Vinnie took him."

               "Good" Throttle said. "Say" He made use of a goon like they were a punching bag. "Why don't we get out of here?"

               "Sounds really good" I said.

               "Back to back, number 5?" Throttle yelled to me.

               "I only remember number three" I said.

               "Add in a few kicks" Throttle yelled. "GO!"

               We backed up until we were standing back to back.  I used his back to kick two goons in the head, then he used my back to do the same thing.  We both punched a few goons who were determined to rush us.

               "Kind of like a dance" I said. "Isn't it?"

               "Only if you're going round the room with a bad guy" Throttle said.  I kicked one of the goons in the head and felt Throttle start to head towards the bike.  He turned and got on his bike, starting it up.  I laid in a few more punches and kicks, then jumped on the back.

               We sped off towards the garage.

               When we got to the garage, I jumped off of the bike and ran inside.  Modo was on the couch.  I had a feeling that the couch was used as a medical bed a lot.  Modo had a cut across his brow and cheek.  Good thing he had that eye patch on.

               "C'mon bro, wake up" Vinnie said.  Charley was cleaning up the blood.

               "Looks like he's unconscious" Charley said. "I think he'll be fine though."

               I took the helmet off and went to set it on the kitchen table.  I was breathing hard.  Throttle was standing over by Modo when I turned around.

               "Think we should move him to a bed?" He asked.

               "I don't know" Charley said. "It might be a concussion.  We should keep him here until we wakes up."

               "Well, we shouldn't have to worry about that stink fish for a while" I said.

               "What did you do?" Charley asked.

               "Scared the crap out of him" I said. "Then I shot him and his white pal in the arm."

               "Fear, maim, and lock 'em up" Vinnie said. "You learn that from Modo?"

               "Partially" I said. "Partially from the Plutarkians as well."

               "At least something good came out of your stay with them" Throttle said.

               "Yeah, I don't think he'll do much of anything for at least a week or two" Vinnie said.

               "You locked them up?" Charley asked.

               "Limburger in one cell, the doctor in another" I said. "I hope they have a key because those cells are Plutarkian steel."

               "Oh man" Charley said. "He's gonna be really mad once he gets out."

               Vinnie's stomach grumbled.  It sounded like a truck had gone by the shop.  We all looked at him.

               "Guess it's time to eat" Vinnie said.  Charley handed a damp rag to Vinnie.

               "Finish cleaning him up and I'll get some food ready" Charley said. "The usual?"

               "Sounds good, Sweetheart" Vinnie said.  She smiled and went into the kitchen.

               "I'm going to go put on those sweatpants" I said.  I went into the bedroom to change.  I had just put my feet into the sweats when a knock came from the door.  I pulled up the pants and opened the door.  Throttle stood there until I moved aside to let him in.

               "Hey" Throttle said.  My stomach knotted.

               "Hey" I said.  He sat down on the bottom bunk of one of the beds.  He patted the space next to him and I sat down too.

               "You were pretty awesome back there" Throttle said.  If he was jus congratulating me, then why did I feel awkward?

               "Thanks" I said.  He rubbed his hands on his pants.  I looked around the room, not really looking at anything, but just waiting to hear what he wanted to say. "You alright Throttle?"

               "Yeah" He said.  He smiled.  In a quick movement, he leaned over and kissed me.  His hand was holding my face.  He stopped the kiss when he realized I was kissing him back. "Sorry."  What?!  I grabbed him by the vest and kept him from leaving.  I pulled him towards me.  "What are you doing?"

               "Finish it" I whispered back to him.  He smiled.

               "You sure, babe?" He whispered.  His voice turned to a hot husky tone.  I kissed his cheek to encourage him.  I kissed his neck and I felt his low groan through my lips.  I wonder how long it's been.  He moved his hands so I was pressed up close to him.  He lowered his head and kissed me with almost a bruising force.

               We fell back onto the bed.  His hands pushed up my shirt so our bellies touched.  We both gave feral growls at the sensation that roused.  I ran my hands up his chest and started to push his vest off.  He caught my hands and stopped.  He buried his face in the blanket beside my neck.

               "What's wrong?" I asked.  He got up and kissed my fingers.

               "We shouldn't be doing this right now" Throttle said.  His pants had a bulge in them.  I mentally kicked myself and sat up. "I'm going to put on some sweats.  I'll be out in a bit.  Hold a few hot dogs for me okay?"

               I nodded and smiled at the pun.  He caught hold of me before I went out of the room and gave me a chaste kiss.  Why was I such a sucker for this mouse?  I went out to the kitchen and sat down.  Vinnie smiled and handed me a hot dog.

               "Thought you guys weren't coming out to eat" Vinnie said. "What's taking Throttle so long?"

               "He's putting on sweat pants" I said.  I squeezed the yellow mustard onto the hot dog and started to put the other toppings on.

               "You seem a little rosy" Charley said as she sat down with a few root beers.  I smiled and tried not to blush.

               "Ooh, were you and Throttle?" Vinnie asked nudging me with his elbow.

               "Is your mind always in the gutter?" I asked.  I took a bite of my hot dog.  He shrugged and smiled.  Throttle came out from the bedroom in a black t-shirt and black sweats.  His bulge wasn't there anymore.

               "Hey, bro, pass the dogs" Throttle said sitting down next to Charley.  He fixed his hot dog as we heard a groan from the couch.

               "Modo?" I said.  I rushed to the couch with the others right at my heels.  I knelt beside him. "Bro?"

               "Hey Darlin'" He said.  He reached up and put his hand to his head. "Man, my head feels like someone used it as a punching bag."  He sniffed the air. "Is that food?"

               "Yeah" I said. "Hot dogs."

               "I could sure use some food" Modo said sitting up.

               "You okay to move bro?" Vinnie asked.  Modo stood up.  He was a little shaky, but seemed to shrug it off.

               "I think I'll be fine" He gruffed.  I helped him to the table.  After we had all had our first round of hot dogs, Charley asked the big question.

               "How are we going to send London home?" She asked.  The others looked at each other, then at me.

               "Maybe I should stay here for a while" I said.  Modo choked on his hot dog until Throttle hit him on the bag hard enough.

               "Usually works better if you chew your food" Throttle said.

               "You want to stay here?" Modo said.  He was wide eyed.  I nodded. "Why?"

               "I think you guys could use my help" I said. "Besides, I haven't seen you in forever."

               Charley blurted out. "I wouldn't mind having another female around here."

               "I thought you wanted to get back to Mars though" Modo said.  I started to pile stuff onto another hot dog.

               "I told Ma that I'd only return with you in tow" I said. "If you don't come with me, then I don't think I should go back.  I'd rather be back with the Plutarkians then face Ma's wrath."

               "Hehe" Modo said chuckling. "Got a point there."

               "Guess we should make room at the scoreboard" Throttle said.  Charley smiled and then laughed.

               "You guys" Charley said. "Ever think that she might want to stay here?"

               I just watched them.  It was like that dumb sport I saw while flipping through the tv channels.  Back and forth, back and forth.

               "I'm family though" Modo said.

               "I'm just saying that she might want to room with a girl instead of three bachelors" Charley said.  I smiled.

               "Maybe we should let the lady decide" Throttle suggested.  They all stared at me.  I just shrugged.  What could I say?  Let me stay here?  Modo's feelings would be hurt.  Then again, if I didn't say yes, Charley would be here all alone.

               "I don't know" I said.  I took another bite of my hot dog.  There was a brief pause, then they all started to argue about where I was going to stay.  I couldn't help but start laughing at them.  I don't care where they had me stay.  I felt safe here.  Safe with Modo and the others.

The End