Life on Farm Planet used to be good, and Tootsie Noodles knew it. He remembered sitting on his back porch, playing his guitar to the stack of hay sitting next to him, in the brisk, cool breeze of Early Harvest, or autumn on Earth. He remembered riding horses through the fields with his best friends Grazing Sleep and Hunter Olive. He even recalled the way the first ear of corn of the harvest tasted when he took the first bite, or the sweet smell of spring after long, cold winters.

But that was before the robot wars.

Now, he could barely walk out the front door of his little log cabin without being confronted by a robot, and besides, playing guitar on the porch wasn't as enjoyable without his stack of hay, who had broken up with him when he forced it to be friends with the horse. And then the horse ate it, and that was the end of that. His fields had been destroyed, and now were home to devastated cabins, metal parts, and lost hope. Tootsie hadn't seen his friends in months now, and would probably never see them again. Grazing had been robbed by the robots, and when they found out he was broke, they shot him. Hunter had been taken hostage by the robots at the start of the war, and was never seen again. The planet was dying, and no one could stop it.

Except for the Starship Rangers.

Which is why Tootsie joined them.

He was one of the only cadets from Farm Planet training at the Academy. It was difficult for someone like him, as he never got an education, except for in growing crops and raising livestock. But he managed to pass the tests somehow. Perhaps it was the extra help from Specs, another cadet who seemed to know everything about everything. And there he was, 3 years after the robot wars had started, graduating from the Academy, ready to go fight those damn machines.

-oOo-

It was a crisp cool Harvest morning, Tootsie's favorite kind, and he was taking advantage of it. He was with his best friend Hunter, lounging on the porch, discussing their love lives. Tootsie had never been in a relationship, except for with his stack of hay, but that was odd because the stack of hay was his cousin. And the hay was gone now, anyway. Hunter had never been the most handsome boy in town, and the only reason to wed on Farm Planet was for good looks. Tootsie decided the best way to get a girl was to be able to sing a good tune. So the two sang an old love song from Earth called "Red River Valley:"

From this valley they say you are going

We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile

For they say you are taking the sunshine

That has brightened our pathways awhile

Come and sit by my side, if you love me

Do not hasten to bid me adieu

Just remember the Red River Valley

And the cowboy who loved you so true

I've been thinking a long time, my darling

Of the sweet words you never would say

Now, alas, must my fond hopes all vanish

For they say you are gong away

Do you think of the valley you're leaving

O how lonely and how dreary it will be

And do you think of the kind hearts you're breaking

And the pain you are causing to me

Come and sit by my side, if you love me

Do not hasten to bid me adieu

Just remember the Red River Valley

And the cowboy who loved you so true

The boys then heard a loud crash, and skipped to the end.

They will bury me where you have wandered

Near the hills where the daffodils grow

When you're gone from the Red River Valley

For I can't live without you I know

Come and sit by my side, if you love me

Do not hasten to bid me adieu

Just remember the Red River Valley

And the cowboy who loved you so true

Just as Tootsie stroked the final note on the guitar, the ground started to shake, and the porch roof suddenly gave out above them. Hunter ran out from the smashed rubble quickly, and kept running until he realized Tootsie wasn't with him. Looking back, he saw Tootsie under the remains of the collapsed porch.

"Awwww, shit," said Hunter, and sprinted back to Tootsie.

He was under 3 feet of wood and could barely breathe when Hunter got back to him. Working quickly, he grabbed an armful of rubble and chucked it blindly behind him. Once Tootsie was free enough to breathe easily, he began helping too, pulling off logs. Once he was free, Tootsie got up to hug Hunter. A common saying on Farm Planet was "No one never needs a hug," and in this case, it was necessary.

"Thank you man," said Tootsie.

"All's well," said Hunter.

They were then interrupted by a whirring noise, which broke their hug apart.

"Dead goddammit," whispered Tootsie. He had never heard a sound quite like it before, like a whirring of machines, approaching them from behind. Both boys turned and their eyes widened.

It was a damn robot.

"Run!" screamed Tootsie, and took off. Hunter, however, couldn't move. He was so shocked at the presence of a robot here on the peaceful place of Farm Planet that he didn't notice it had picked him up.

"Hunter!" screamed Tootsie. "HUNTER!"

He was gone, and it was Tootsie's fault.

-oOo-

Tootsie spent a good few weeks at the Academy, training further for future missions. He had gotten used to life at the Academy quickly, and had made friends in the process. Of course there was Specs, who had helped him prepare for every exam during his previous training before graduation. He also met Grueman, a ranger who had graduated a year ago, hailing from a place called Europe on Earth, Jamie, a scientist who was preparing for a mission to a place called Khonera, where she would try to obtain intergalactic information about another galaxy from a destroyed and abandoned robot headquarter building, and Indy, who had graduated with Tootsie and Specs. The quintet became well know throughout the Academy, but soon enough, Grueman was reassigned to a mission on Earth involving the robots, and Specs had gone with a group on a rescue mission. Indy and Jamie stuck by Tootsie for the next month, but then Jaime went to Khonera, and Indy went on a mission to attempt to colonize an alien planet.

Fortunately for Tootsie, he wasn't alone for long. A week after Indy left, he was called into Commander Ranley's office. 5 minutes later, he walked out, a slip of paper in hand and a smug look on his face. The paper read:

Assigned to Starship 14E-7:

Mission to planet inhabited by robots: gain weaponry information.

Leaving the 4 January at 10:00 hours.

Although he only had a month to prepare (without Specs, unfortunately,) he couldn't have been happier.

Tootsie Noodles was going on a mission.