Chapter 1: Fins that Reach Far
Bring bring, bring bring. “The phone’s ringing!” Vinnie yells. “I ain’t deaf Vincent, only rather occupied.” Throttle hollers in return. “I’ll get it, I’ll get it.” Modo gets up, throwing his polishing rag over the handlebars of his bike. He walks over to the phone. “Last Chance Garage, this is Modo Maverick, what may I help you with?” The big fella is polite as ever. The man on the other end of the line asks for Charlene Davidson. “I will hand her the phone, one moment please.” Modo walks over to Charley. “It is for you Charley ma’am.” He says. Charley whipes her hands on a rag and takes the phone from Modo.
Naturally the mice are curious, but Charley walks away from them. “She looked sort of .. troubled. I hope it is nothing serious.” Throttle says. “We should leave her alone for a while. Let’s see what Fishlips is up to. Chi-town is unusually quiet this week.” Modo adds. “Yeah I need some action!” Vincent says. “Then we check on the big fish.” Throttle nods. “But our bikes are in .. maintenance mode.” Vinnie hangs his ears. “We’ll take the bus.” Throttle says. Ge dons his nukeknucks glove and lowers his shades for better vision. “Bro’s it is time for a clamer sort of rock and ride.” Modo chuckles.
But just as the mice are about to go to the door, Charley returns into the garage. She has tears in her eyes. “Charley girl!” Vinnie rushes over to her. Charley wails and presses herself against the white furred martian. Modo and Throttle come over as well. The three friends enclose their human companion, holding her while she cries. “It’s alright Charley babe.” Throttle cooes sweetly. Charley sniffles and shakes her head. “No boys, not this time.. I was just called about my sister… She passed away, along with her husband and youngest daughter.. And somehow...” Charley lets out another loud wail. “Yes, somehow?” Throttle encourages her. “Somehow my other sister wants to give full custody of my one surviving niece to … To Lawrence Limburger!” The mice can see the anger in Charley’s green eyes. “Well, now we know why the Big Cheeze was so docile the past week.” Vinnie says. “He is in England, preying on my niece.” Charley hisses.
“But what would he want with an innocent little girl?” Modo asks. “Tala is not a little girl anymore. She’s University age now. Last time I spoke to her over skype.. That was half a year ago .. She said she did freelance translating. French, German and Latin. She ain’t stupid. But she has no idea who Limburger is. And she hates her other aunt.” Charley dries her tears. “We need to go to Colchester, ASAP.” The spice is back in her voice. “Colchester, is that in France?” Vinnie asks. “No, England. I’ll need to use my saving to book us tickets to the UK. And I’ll need to call Tala that we will be coming.” Charley wrings away from the martians and runs to her computer. “We had best get packing. To the scoreboard, bro’s.” Throttle says.
~ ~ ~
The following morning Charley and the mice have boarded the plane to the continent of Europe. The mice are not happy. Their bikes had to stay behind in Chicago. The mice don’t like leaving their bikes behind. It feels very unsafe. But they don’t want to let Charley go on her own. Not to mention they are itching to meet Tala.
“What happened to your sister anyway?” Throttle needs to make small talk to break the tension. “She and her husband got into a car crash. Their youngest was also in the vehicle.” Charley answers. “All the more reason to prefer bikes.” Says Modo. Throttle can’t help but chuckle a little. Vincent, however, remains silent, which is of course rather odd. “Vinnie what is the matter?” Modo asks his white furred friend. “I don’t know bro, I just feel like we won’t, ya know, blend in in Clutchester.” Vinnie replies, gazing out of his small round window. “Colchester.” Charley gently corrects.
Throttle thinks on the matter for a little bit. “Vincent has a point. The windy city has bikers enough. Colchester is very different.” He says. He exchanges a look with both Charley and Modo. Charley is thoughtful, Modo rather insecure, which the tan martian recognises by the narrowing of Modo’s sole slitten pupil. The big mouse’s tail swishes a little. Throttle nudges his tall brother in arms. “Don’t worry bro, I read that the UK is a cespool for the strange and unique. Maybe we just fit right in.” He says. “You read?” Charley frowns at the leading mouse. “I do have to know a few things about the stage before we ride into battle. Being caught unawares is very lacking. I wasn’t Stoker’s successor for shits and giggles.” Throttle seems a bit irked by Charley’s surprise.
~ ~ ~
They take a taxi cab from the airport to a very decent looking house in Coltchester. A strict looking woman is waiting on the front porch. Charley swallows audiably. Modo takes Vinnie’s suitcase, so that Vinnie can take their terranian friend by the hand to give her confidence. Charley looks at her three friends. “That is my older sister Syl...” She muttered. “Syl does not like me, or Tala, for that matter.” She look like she dreads talking to her sister.
The mice get why when Syl meets them on the steps of the porch. “What did you have to sell to be able to afford four plane tickets, Charlene.” Her voice is sharp and mean. Modo’s eye lights red. This sour old hag is not allowed to insult his friend. Throttle puts a hand, with activated nukeknucks, mind you, against his chest. The amplified power is needed to hold Modo back. “Not now, big fella.” The leader whispers.
“I am not here for you Sybil. I am here for Tala.” Charley says. She is very well capable of standing up for herself. “She is inside.” Syl’s nose scrunches rather unattractively. “Then we will be there too.” Charley marches past her older sister. The mice follow her without looking at Syl a second time. Charley opens the front door. “It has been a while since I’ve been here last. They redone the place, I see.” She mumbles. “It isn’t much different from how we used to live, Save from the fact we prefer to use stone instead of wood.” Throttle comments.
Charley trails into the kitchen. Throttle and Modo put down the suitcases and the mice follow her.
Modo is last to enter the kitchen. But he stops in the door frame, frozen and dumbfounded in his tracks. He suddenly begins to understand what Vinnie finds so interesting about Charley. The girl standing at the counter makes all of his thoughts fade out. He’s never felt like stopping in his tracks for another individual before. Of course stopping for someone in need or in order not to drive someone over is entirely different. Modo think to himself that this must be how Throttle felt when he first saw Carbine.
They had only just graduated the academy, Throttle with flying collars, Vinnie only barely. They had been as old as 17. And the war had with Plutark had only just been admitted to be true. It was before Stoker had grounded the Freedom Fighters. It was before Mars was sold. They were young and sick of practising their aim on sandraiders. They joined the army. At the same time as a certain Carbine Canonball. She was spicey and perky. Modo was polite and Vinnie showie, as usual. But Throttle, usually so cool and collected, looked like he had his foot in his mouth. He was awestruck and dumbfounded and so was Carbine.
The young woman is short and gently curved. Her hair is red as the fur of a fox. Her pale is littered with freckles, even on her lips and the lids of her eyes. She wears a skinny bacl, torn up jeans, a green tanktop and a white hoody. Her ears are pierces in multiple places and her bottom lip once. She wears a necklace with a wolfhead pendant. She looks up at Modo. His heart sinks into his boots. Her eyes are unbelievably blue.
“H-hello, ma’am.” Modo sputters. She approaches him with the elegance of a panther. There is an unfamiliar tightening in Modo’s trousers. His cheeks heat up and he thanks all his lucky stars that he has fur to cover it up. “Hello sir, my name is Tala Lockheart.” She extends her hand for him to shake. Instead Modo decides to use his good hand to bring hers up in order to kiss heck knuckles. ”My name is Maverick, Modo Maverick.” He tries to sound as sultry as he can.
Charley rolls her eyes. “He watches too much James Bomb.” She says. Tala giggles softly. “I think it is kinda cute.” She says softly. “Just wait until the helmet comes off. She’ll know I am muuuch cuter.” Vinnie says. Without an ounce of hesitation, Modo removes his helmet. Throttle and Vinnie follow suit. Tala is shocked, but recovers very quickly. “Miss Tala allow me to explain. We are the Biker Mice From Mars. Martian Cave Mice, to be precise. My name is Throttle Davidson.” The tan leader extends his hand. Tala takes it and they shake on it.
Vinnie butts Throttle aside. “Lovely to meet you sweetheart. I am the baddest motorcycle mama jama on all o’ Mars. The name is Vincent van Wham. But you can call me Uncle Vinnie.” He winks and gives Tala a crushing hug. Charley turns red as a beet. “Green next!” Tala giggles.
“You took our little reveal surprisingly well.” Throttle says. “This is Englands and we are an hour drive away from London, anything is possible here. Plus, I have my own … secret.” Tala replies. “But that’ll have to wait until the old dug up banshee went to her hotel.” She seems to softly growl. “She has a hotelroom?” Rage appears in Charley’s eyes. “She doesn’t want to be alone with me after dark. I dine and sleep in solitude.” Tala sighs, looking disappointed.
Modo’s eye lights red. “You are all alone at night?” He asks. Tala nods, but gives him a confused look. “Easy big fella. If Limburger wanted to get to her, the old woman wouldn’t have stopped him, even at day time..” Throttle tries to soothe his friend. “Limburger … The fat man in the suit?” Tala asks. The mice nod. “He smells like rotting dolphin tar.” She scrunches her nose adorably. “Yeah … The Big Cheeze did not invent showers.” Vinnie says.
“Is he..?” Tala is reluctant to finish that sentence. “He is our, as you could call it, Arch Nemesis. He usually wreaks havoc in Chicago. His race whiped out most of ours. He’s from Plutark. They are … fish like.” Throttle explains. He leans in to lightly tap Tala’s forehead with his antena’s. He shows her how the Plutarkians wrecked Marks. A single tear rolls down her cheek. Throttle catches it. “Such pure heart.” He says softly.
Sybil comes into the kitchen. The fact that the three mice don’t even startle her is very worrying. “Did you already find a hotel? Or are you unable to afford that?” She sneers at Charley. Tala snarls like a wild beast. “They will stay here. Feel free to piss of to your hotel.” She bares her teeth, showing her sharp and elongated canines. Sybil backs off, her eyes wide. Tala barks and Sybil stumbles away. “Now bugger off.” Tala says. Sybil leaves in a hurry.
“I wonder how she met Limburger.” Throttle says thoughtfully. “And how she convinced the court a twenty year old needs a legal guardian.” Charley adds. “Both are worrying issues, but can we save it for later, I need a nap.” Vinnie stiffles a jawn. “Let me show you the guest room.” Tala says. She leads her guests to the first floor. She gestures to the large guestroom. “One queen and a fold out couch. I sleep across the hall in my parent’s room.” She says. She holds herself so strong, even when grief turns her eyes watery.
Charley hugs her niece. Both women still refuse to break. Even when the three martian’s join the embrace. “It is okay to cry.” Throttle whispers.
The mice know their fair share of losing. Modo and Vinnie lost their fathers in the war. Throttle’s father is a prisoner of the Plutarkians. Modo’s brother in law, Rimfire’s dad, Rover Refton died after brutal torture at the hands of Dominic T Stilton. Vinnie’s older brother Welder is left with severe PTSD. And Throttle’s brother and sister are both lost. Nobody knows where Harley has gone and only Mother Mars know if that rat killed Mace.
Yes, the heroic trio also has scars on their soul, which influences the way they act, at times. It is true that centuries of war with the rats and the sandraiders have engraved a durability into the DNA of the Martian Cave Mice. But the war against Plutark has been taxing, even by Martian Standards.
Yes, Vinnie has always been rather hyperactive and a rush chaser. But to cope with the death of his comrades and relatives and the destruction of his brother’s mind, he’s become an outright adrenaline junky. He’ll get trembles when there is no rush to be had and has an attention span of a terranian gerbil.
Modo, gentle giant he is and always has been, does his best to uphold the values his grey furred old mommah has taught him and the duty his black furred late pops has charged him with. He fights with honor and treats those around him with valor. But in his heart there is a lot fear, insecurity and anger. His temper runs hot rather quickly. He might also be susceptible to bouts of depressive emotion.
Throttle, on who’s broad shoulders rests the responsibility of the martian liberation, also feels the burden of guilt. The guilt of leaving Mars behind to make sure Earth does not become part of the conflict. His heart is empty and insecure for his family as well as for his lady love. He might be prone to melancholy at times, but so far he is the most resilient.
But none of them have ever hidden their emotions. Even though they are the manliest of martian man. Because they have been raised with the idea that their emotion are a manifestation of the sacred. And to always let them show to those closest to your heart.
But Charley and Tala keep their tears in. Because it feels to them this is not the time yet to cry.
Charley leans into Vinnie’s chest and heaves a sigh. Tala looks up at Throttle. He gives her a gentle nod. Tala closes the embrace on her aunt. She is keeping it together still. Throttle gently gives her shoulder a squeeze. Tala heaves a sigh as well. “Thank you guys. But this is just the beginning.” Charley gentle lets go of the embrace. “We’ll get some rest.” She says. Throttle nods and gestures to the guestroom.
Tala leaves leaves, heading down the stairs. “Poor girl, about to be alone in this wild universe...” Throttle open the door to the guest room. “No way bro, she’s got us.” Modo flaxes his bionic fingers, showing his agitation and determination. “Do you think what I am thinking?” Vinnie sits on the side of the bed and takes off his boots. “That you are in dire need of new socks?” Throttle pulls the lever on the side of the couch, while peering at the numerous holes in Vinnie’s socks. Vinnie snorts. “Yeah, that too … but about Lil’ Red.” He replies. “Is it Little Red already?” Charley asks. Vinnie nods.
Throttle spreads a blanket over the sleeping couch and sits down to take off his boots. “Your family is ours, Charley girl. Plus, Limburger is keen to get her in his cheesy fins. Keeping her close is the best way to make sure she remains safe.” He says. Modo flicks his tail. “She will come to Chicago with us.” His voice is almost demanding. Charley looks up at him. “We will have to take Syl to court, though.” She tells him. “We will, if that is what it takes!” Modo replies.
After a few hours of sleep, it is the grey mouse that awakens from his nap first. He smells roasting meat and his mouth starts to water. He slowly gets up from the couch. Throttle stirs, but doesn’t wake up. Vinnie and Charley, on the bed, notice nothing. On socked feet, in his pj bottoms, Modo leaves the room. He silently closes the door behind himself. He toes down the hall and stairs.
He find the ground floor cloaked in silence, so deliciously devoid of Vinnie’s snoring. He smiles despite the direness of the reasons he is here. He is well aware that Tala must be hurt, traumatized and probably scared, but he is happy to have met her and to be in her presence.
A few minutes alone with her is just what he is looking for. He finds her in the kitchen, her back turned to him. Modo tiptoes over. “How was your nap, Mr. Maverick?” Tala asks, her voice innocent and sweet. She does not turn to him. Modo gapes at her, his jaw hanging slack. “Now now, no need to be so surprised.” Tala giggles. Modo does his best to compose himself. “H-how did you know?” He stutters. “Chemosignals.” Tala turns to him. “Everyone has their own scent and every emotion it’s own signals.” She has to crane her neck to be able to look at him. Modo feels flustered again. Her blue eyes just seem to suck him in, so much. His self consciousness is starting to rear it’s ugly head. Thoughts like I should have showered and I should leave her alone shoot through his head. He flicks his tail nervously.
Tala puts her hand on his arms. His hair stands on end, making him look rather fluffy. Tala giggles again. “You smell nice, Modo...” She cooes, ever so sweetly. Modo has to look away from her, because he feels like he would do foolish things if he’d keep looking at her.
“Would you like something to drink?” Tala asks him softly. Modo, who feels positively parched, especially with all the over thinking he has been doing in the few minutes he has only been in her presence. “What would you like.” She draws open the fridge. “Got any rootbeer?” Modo sits down at the kitchen table. “No, I am sorry...” Tala shakes her head. “I have actual beer, though, and wine. I also have cider, cola, ginger ale and cream soda.” She says. Modo tries to hide his disappointment, but his ears start to hang. “I’ll have cream soda… Never had that before.” He mumbles. Tala nods and pours him a glass. “Enjoy luv.” She cooes. Modo feels his heart skip a beat.
Throttle is downstairs after a little while too. He’s taken the time to put his trousers back on, but didn’t feel like wearing his vest. He’s bunning up his hair as he walks into the kitchen. “There you are big fella.” He puts his hands on Modo’s shoulders. Modo looks up at him. “Missed me?” He asks teasingly. “Of course, I will always miss the brethren I ride with, when they are not in sight.” Throttle takes the chair beside his grey furred friend. “So, what is cooking, good looking?” He says, good natured. “Stew.” Tala answers, pouring Throttle a glass of cream soda too. “I can only hope she is as good a cook as your ma, Modo.” Throttle grins and takes the cream soda from Tala. “Thank you Tala girl, so sweet.” He says gently. Tala smiles softly. “Yeah, my grey furred ol’ mommah’s cooking, now there is somthin’ I miss.” Modo sighs softly.
Vinnie and Charley some down as well. “What does my beady little nose smell!” Vinnie singsongs. “Tala’s specialty.” Charley replies. “Specialty huh, I am eager for a taste.” Vinnie jogs over to the stove, lifting the lid off of the pan. Hot steam hits him right in the face, causing his face mask to haze over. “Ouch.” He slams the lid back onto the pan. “Be careful you.” Charley gives him a little yank on his tail. “Hey, careful with the merchandise, sweetheart.” Vinnie whines.
“Come on you two, sit down, let me do the work.” Tala says. “You are my guests after all.” She nudges Charley towards a chair. Her aunt sighs and plops down. Vinnie sits in the chair beside her. “Wine?” Tala asks Charley. Charley nods. Tala pours her a glass of sweet red and Vinnie a glass of cream soda. “Shouldn’t you get yourself something to drink too?” Modo asks. “I have tea.” Tala sits down at the table, a warm mug with fragrant tea. Throttle heaves his glass. “To Mars, bro’s.” He hollers. “To Mars!” Modo and Vinnie echoes. They clang their glasses together and upend the contents into their mouth. Vinnie belches loudly. Modo belches louder. Immediately after he realizes that wasn’t the most gentlemanly thing to do in front of Tala. “Pardon me ma’am.” He says, hanging his ears a little. Tala pats his good hand. “Better in than out.” She cooes. “Still not very polite.” Throttle teases. “Like you never do it bro. Even around Carbine!” Vinnie objects. “Yeah, but I’ve known Carbine for about 9 years now, Vincent.” Throttle points out. “So?” Vinnie seems to miss the point. “We have only just met Tala, we need to give her the chance to think we are gentlemen.” Throttle says. Tala has to smile gently at that.
Dinner is served in painted bowls. Charley admires the egyptian looking motive. “Brand new, ma bought them a week ago.” Tala says with a sigh. She struggles lifting the large pan from the stove. Modo get’s up. “Let me help you.” He grabs the pan as if it weighs little more than a feather and sets it down on the table. “Thank you, Modo.” Tala says sweetly. She grabs a ladle and gives everyone a bowl full of rich smelling stew. “Eat up, sweetlings.” Tala says sweetly. “Oh you bet.” Throttle picks up his spoon and scoops himself up a big mouthful. He takes his time to taste. Modo and Vinnie peer at him intently. “Just like yer ma’s cookin bro.” Is Throttle’s verdict. Only then Modo and Vinnie dig in as well. “Oh mommah, you’re right Throttle, this is like my grey furred old ma’s cookin.” Modo praises. Tala flusters a little and smiles.
For a while all three mice are silent, just enjoying the stew. Charley and Tala neither feel the need to say anything. That is, until Tala clears her throat. “It is time I reveal my true self now.” She says. She has the attention at once. Throttle puts his bowl down and Vinnie’s fork clatters onto the table. Modo folds his good hand over his bionic one and gives her his undivided attention. “Tell us what ever you feel we should know.” He says. Tala nods and heaves a deep sight.
“You had your own little reveal and now I shall have mine. I hope I am not too monstrous.” She says. “I am sure you won’t be.” Throttle gives her a crooked smile. Tala gives the three mice and her aunt a hesitant look, but then seems to take heart. Her eyes turn from blue to red, her hands turn to long nailed claws and her teeth grow longer and sharp. With a jolt she gets up, her chair tumbling backwards. The mice startle when they hear a loud snap, of if someone breaks a bone in two. Tala is hunched over. Her ears are growing pointed and there is foxy red fur on his arms, and white on her chest. Vinnie and Charley gape at her. Throttle has his fists clenched with tension and Modo rises. “T-Tala...” He reaches out, but she backs off. The snapping sound returns and Tala’s back straightens out. Her fur fades away and her facial features return to normal. She turns her blue eyed gaze to Modo. His heart skips a few beats in relief. “Are you alright?” He asks. “Yes, don’t worry about me.” She puts a hand on his arm to reassure him. But it only makes his heart leap faster. Tala notices it and back off, picking up her chair and sitting back down. Modo sits down as well. “And how do we call this?” Throttle asks calmly. “Loup Garoux, Homos Lupus, Werewolf. What ever you want. Here in the UK we are mostly named Lyco’s, Lycan’s or Lycontropes. Many consider Lyco a slurr, but I don’t mind.” Tala replies. “I thought werewolves only excited on tv.” Vinnie says. “Just like Aliens, perhaps?” Tala asks teasingly. “Y-yeah… point for you.” Vinnie mumbles.
Tala clears away the dishes. Modo picks up the pan and puts it back on the stove. “Need any help?” He asks. “No, not at all, sit down, I’ll make you all coffee.” Tala shakes her head, her red locks dancing on her shoulders. “Alright, Vinnie drinks decaf.” Modo says. He wanders from the kitchen to the living. He flops down in the large armchair by the fireplace, looking as if he is lord of the house.
“So, what is the plan for now?” Vinnie asks, looking at Throttle. “Tomorrow we scout out Limburger and try to talk to Tala’s aunt. If that does not work we have to set up a lawsuit ASAP. I will have to study on the laws of this country a little bit.” Throttle replies. “We have to get Tala away from Limburgers sleezy fins as soon as we can and if need be, we get restraining orders for him and her other aunt.” Modo adds. “Hmm don’t rush into it too hard bro, we just need to make sure Tala can be her own person, with with Limburger as her legal guardian.” Throttle says. Charley nods. “Throttle is right. I don’t have money to do all sort of weird stunts in court, we just need to make sure Tala is safe.” She tells the mice. “And then Tala sells the house and comes to Chi-town.” Modo says. He, in his distracted curiousity pulls a lever on the side of the couch. A foot rest flops out of the chair and the backrest tilts down. “Ah, a mouse could get used to this.” Modo chuckles and gets comfortable.
Tala comes in the living with two mugs of tea and three cups of coffee. She puts down the tray and hands her aunt a cup of tea. “PG tip for me aunt.” She cooes. “Ah thank you Tala.” Charley smiles. “Decaf for me future uncle.” Tala hands Vinnie a mug of coffee. “Hey, who said I wanted decaf?” Vinnie whines. “Bro, we don’t want to put up with you hyperactive ass all week.” Throttle says. Vinnie groans and drops six sugarcubes in his coffee, stirring profusely. Tala hands Throttle a mug and walks to Modo to hand him the last one. “I see you have found my father’s chair.” She cooes. Modo jumps up as if he’s been sitting on a hedgehog. “I’m s-sorry Ta-Tala ma’am. I meant no disrespect.” He says. Tala clutches the mug of coffee and is very glad he hadn’t taken it from her yet. “It’s fine luv, sit down.” She says softly. Modo slowly takes his spot in the chair again. Tala sits on the armrest and hands him his coffee. “My father was a large man as well. I have my Lycantropia from him. He was very strong and a good man. I’ve always aspired to be like him. You fill his chair out well.” There is something sentimental in Tala’s eyes that makes Modo weak.
“We know the feeling, we all aspire to be like our old men in some way.” Throttle says. “Our fathers were all great warrior in their own respect, with heart for the cause and they all perished… Safe for mine. Mine is a prisoner of war.” He tells. “I am so sorry for all three of you. I wish there is something I can do for you.” Tala says softly. “For our fathers it is too late, Tala girl, we are here because you need us. We are here to make sure Limburger doesn’t get to you. We are grateful to stay under your roof and eat at your table. And we can only hope this doesn’t take too long.” Throttle replies, a kind smile on his face.
Tala sits beside her aunt on the couch and focusses on her cup of tea. She is silent for the most part. She is sad, the mice understand. But they also know not to pry.
“I’m heading to bed. Good night.” Tala says. She hugs Charley and gets up. “Sleep well sweety.” Charley says. “Yeah sweet dreams, sweetheart.” Vinnie pulls Tala into another bone crushing hug. Tala wriggles free. Throttle gets up for a fatherly kiss on the girl’s forehead. Tala giggles and pats him on the chest. “Tell us if you need anything.” Throttle says. “I will.” Tala says. She bends down to give Modo a kiss on the cheek. “Goodnight.” Modo mumbles, feeling how his entire face heats up. “Thank you.” Tala smiles weakly and heads upstairs.
The mice sit around for a little while longer, but only for half an hour or so. Charley nods off against Vinnie. He picks her up and heads to the guestroom. “We’d best go to bed too, big fella. tomorrow will be a taxing day, if things will go the way I suspect them to.” Throttle rises to his feet. “Yeah, I suppose you are right.” Modo gets up as well. Together they head up the stairs.
By the door of the master bedroom, Throttle halt. “Do you hear that, only now that she is alone she’ll show her emotions...” He mumbles. Modo peers at the door to the master bedroom. “Go to her big fella. I know what you feel. I have felt it too, with Carbine., I still feel it for her. But I suppose terranians need more time to catch the vibe.” Throttle places a hand on Modo’s shoulder. “Let her know she can rely on on you big fella.” He says. Modo nods and puts his hand on the master bedroom doorknob. Throttle enters the guestroom.
“Tala?” Modo knocks the door. There is no answer. He twists the doorknob and opens the door. He finds Tala on her bed, still dressed. He goes over, sitting on the edge of the mattress. Slowly he reaches out his good hand to gently stroke her hair. Tala turns to him, looking at him. Her face is wet with tears and she sobs softly. Modo gently strokes her cheek. “It’s okay to cry.” He rumbles softly. Tala whines like a kicked puppy. She crawls into his lap. Modo puts his arm around her. She curls into him and sobs heartbreakingly. “See, there it is, let it out.” He says softly.
“T-thank you Modo.” Tala mumbles. “It is quite alright baby.” Modo replies. Tala giggles softly. “I do feel like a baby in your arms.” She whispers. “I’ll keep you safe, I promise.” Modo runs his bionic fingers through her hair. Tala shivers at how cold the digits are and gooseflesh rises on her arms. Modo immediately removes his hand. “Don’t stop.” Tala whines. “S-sorry.” Modo resumes the motion.
Slowly Tala nods off. Modo gently tucks her in and toes out of the master bedroom. He goes into the guestroom. Vinnie is already sleeping, his arms around Charley, who peers over his shoulder to look at Modo. Throttle is seated in the windowcill, looking at the night sky as if he peers up at Mars. “How is she?” He asked softly. “Asleep, but very sad.” Modo sits on the edge of the sleeping couch. “We better get some shut eye too bro.” Throttle comes over to the sleeping couch as well.
Chapter 2: The Reek of Cheeze
Thanks for the two kudo's. It means a whole heck of a lot to me.
The sun peers through the window of the guestroom, finding the Biker Mice asleep. Charley is already up, taking a shower in the adjoined bathroom. It is Vinnie who awakes first of the bro’s. His bladder urges him to the bathroom as well. He find the door unlocked and rushes in to make his water. “Hey, who is that!?!” Charley yells loudly. “Just me sweetheart, nature called rather urgently.” Vinnie says, flushing the toilet. He peeks around the shower curtain. Charley splashes him with water. “No peeking you!” She tells him strictly. “Awwe man, sweetheart you are no fair.” Vinnie leans against the sink. “I am showering Vinnie, peeking is impolite.” Charley says. “Harley let me peek all the time.” Vinnie pouts. That is a low one and Charley feels how it stings.
The bathroom door opens again. “Morning bro!” Vinnie grins. “Morning Vincent … Morning Charley girl… I’ll find myself a seat downstairs.” Throttle closes the bathroom door again, leaving Vinnie and Charley alone again. “You’re forming a line, sweetheart.” Vinnie jokes. “Hand me a towel, will ya.” Charley turns off the shower. Vinnie searches for a towel and hands it over, trying to peek over his shoulder, but getting his tail yanked as punishment. “I said no peeking.” Charley wraps the towel around her body and gives the white Martian a look. Vinnie sighs and exits the bathroom.
Throttle and Modo are awaiting their turn in the shower. Throttle is always last, because his fur is longer than that of Modo and Vinnie, causing him to need to blow dry it. In Mars’ warm climate this wasn’t needed, but on earth, where it is cooler, Throttle can’t seem to get dry by himself. So he has to wait until Vinnie and Modo have showered. Vinnie, who isn’t overly fond of water, doesn’t take too long. Modo, who has to do everything one handedly, with a special protective case over his shoulder, so the water doesn’t damage his bionic parts. His bionic arm, of course, does not join in the shower. While he waits, Throttle makes sure the arm is still fully functioning.
Throttle takes his turn and takes a good half hour to get washed and dried. Sometimes he hates being such a furry fella, but he knows life has it’s own prices it demanded. When he has managed to dry out his fur and looks less like a walking fluffball, brushed out his mullet and his forelock, put his mullet in a little bun, he judges himself presentable and exits the bathroom. He dresses in his usual wear and heads down stairs.
“Good morning family!” Throttle says happily. Vinnie looks up from his cereal. “Took you long enough bro!” He says. “Yeah, the UK is a bit too humid for my fur.” Throttle sits down. Tala puts a mug of coffee on the table for him. “Thank you Tala girl.” Throttle smiles and takes a big gulp. “Slept well?” Charley asks. Throttle shakes his head. “No, there is way too much on my mind. Far too much that I need to learn before we can start this operation in earnest. But there is no time to sit and read, we need to stake out Limburger.” He says. Modo looks up from his eggs and bacon. “It would work so much better if we were with one or two more mice.” He mutters. “I would give my fieldspecs to have Stoker and Rimfire in this fight. I would give me the chance to do some behind the scene’s work with Stoker, while Rimfire fills my place in the formation.” Throttle ponders. “We will have to save the reading for after we staked out the big fish.” Vinnie says. Throttle nods.
Tala gives Throttle a plate of eggs and bacon and wanders out of the kitchen to busy herself with chores. “Charley ma’am, can you please stay back here while we go looking for Limburger?” Modo asks. Charley nods. “Yeah someone has to stay behind for her, isn’t it.” She sighs. She hates missing out on the action. “I am sorry sweetheart, but we can’t leave the girl alone again.” Vinnie says. Charley nods, she does understands. Modo get’s up and puts his dishes in the sink. “Really?” Charley frowns. “What?” Modo gives her a confused looks. “She has a washer.” Charley yanks open the dishwasher. “Oh...” Modo mutters. He puts his dishes in the washer and gives Charley an awkward look. Charley rolls her eyes. “Go!” She says.
Modo finds Tala in the garden, sitting by the fish pond. “You have pet fish, gehe, fancy.” He chuckles. “These are prize winning butterfly kois.” Tala lectures, looking up at him. Modo sits down beside her, looking at the fish in the pond. They are colorful, lean and graceful, looking as if they wear expensive gowns. “Heh, they are much nicer to look at than most fish I have seen in my life. We don’t see em this pretty on Mars, weather it’d be native or Plutarkian.” Modo says softly. “How dearly I would love to learn more about Mars.” Tala scoots a little closer to Modo. Modo looks down on her and strikes him how small she is. Sitting beside him she barely reaches halfway his upper arm. Not to mention if they both were to stand up she would barely be able to press her nose against his chest. It endears him, but not in a way that young Primer nuzzling into him used to endear him. It is something rawer, deeper, very unplatonic. Like he wants to sweep her off her feet and keep the ugly world around her away from her.
“I … I’d love to tell you more about Mars.. but you’d have to tell me more about earth.” He bargains. Tala places a hand on his legs, too close to his crotch for comfort. But Modo has no idea how to tactful about it, so he just lets her. Even though his body is heating up at her merest touch. “That seems a fair trade.” Tala smiles at him, a most charming smile, with just the smallest hint of fangs.
“Modo! Come quickly!” Charley calls. Modo jumps up, almost toppling tala over, right into the pond, but his dextrous tail winds around her waist and pulls her along, throwing her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Tala yelps, but does not struggle.
“What is the matter, Charley, ma’am.” Modo runs into the living. “Look.” Throttle points out of the window, to the driveway. A dark purple limousine pulls over just that very moment. “Fishlips.” Vinnie clenches his fists. “Syl must have told him we are here!” Charley’s eyes widen with the realization. “What is so bad about that?” Tala asks. Modo puts her down on her feet. “He might think he can intimidate us.” Throttle answers. Tala walks up to the window to see Greasepit exit the limo’s passengers seat and open the door for Carbunkle and Limburger.
The doorbell rings. Tala wants to run and open the front door. Throttle grabs her by the shoulder. “No way babe, we don’t want anything happen to you. Let me greet those scumbuckets.” He says. “But this is my house, they are here for me.” Tala protests. “Exactly, you are not running any risks while we are around.” Modo grabs her by the wrist. Throttle heads to the door.
He opens it, smiling politely. “Good morning Cheesegills, what can I help you with?” He sounds as polite as any Martian Mouse can be. Limburger doesn’t seem the least surprised. “Ah, Mister Mouse, what an utter displeasure to see you here.” He says in his usual oily tone. “That is mutual, fishstick, why are you here?” Throttle flicks his tail in an agitate way. “We are here for darling Tala, of course. I will soon be her father.” Limburger says. The statement makes Throttle’s fur stand on end. “Oh gross.” He groans to himself.
A cab pulls over and aunt Sybil walks toward the door as well. She shoves Greasepit and Carbunkle aside. “Move aside or I will call the police that you are obstructing this family’s mourning!” She says harshly. “You don’t seem to be mourning ma’am...” Throttle says. “And you are on property the court is about to fork over to me. I could have you escorted off the premise.” Sybil pokes Throttle’s fuzzy chest. Throttle holds up his hands and moves aside. He almost becomes one with the coatrack in order not to be walsed over by Limburger and Greasepit.
Modo and Vinnie tense the moment Sybil, Limburger, Greasepit and Carbunkle enter the living. “Who allowed that dripping urang utan in my house, he’ll dribble all over the brand new carpet.” It is Tala who breaks the silence. “I’m sorry Tala girl. I didn’t want to use violence under your roof.” Throttle says. He pats his gun, holstered at his hip. “Wouldn’t you mean my roof?” Sybil hisses. Throttle shakes his head. “No ma’am.” He says.
“Now now, I am not here to fight, I am here to talk.” Limburger says. “Talk fishlips, talk and then buzz off again.” Modo cracks his knuckles. “Woah woah, hold your horses all of you. First, get off the carpet.” Tala points at Greasepit. He backs off into the wooden-floored area of the living. “Second, put the weapons away.” She puts her hand on the gun in Modo’s bionic arm. The grey martian lowers his arm, but his eye flashes red, a the tell tale signal that he is not letting this go so easily.
“Aunt Sybil, Mister Limburger, Doctor Carbunkle, take a seat. Greasepit, take a bucket!” Tala delegates. Limburger gets comfortable on the sofa at once, taking up at least two and a half seats. Modo plops down in the arm chair by the fireplace, so no one else may take that spot. Tala gives him a barely visible nod. Carbunkle sits down as well, as do Vinnie and Charley. Throttle remains standing, his arms crossed before his chest. “Ladies, please be seated.” He takes charge, as he used to do. Tala takes two chairs from the kitchen, placing one by the fireplace and the other as far away from it as politely possible. She sits down in the chair by the fire and stares down her aunt until she is seated as well.
“Very well, now that Limburger is here, we don’t have to go to him.” Throttle walks to the fireplace and puts his hands on Tala’s shoulders. “We are here to protect Tala’s interest.” He says. “And I believe those are quite high, as by terranian standards she is a legal adult.” He looks at Charley for confirmation. She nods. “And by Martian standards, she’d be of fighting age, so I suggest you tread with care.” Modo warns. “Now now Big Fella, we are not here for fighting.” Throttle cautions.
“Indeed, I am here to talk, not to triffle.” Limburger says. “You see, we are here for Mrs. Craggen interests.” He grins widely. “You are married?” Charley frowns at Sybil. “Strictly for business.” Sybil replies. “The disgrace.” Tala tsks. Sybil gives her an angry look. “To marry a man you don’t love is an insult to love.” Tala growls. “Settle down ginger spice, now is not the moment for this.” Throttle tells her. Tala clenches her fists, digging her nails into her skin deep enough to draw blood. The mice don’t notice.
“I suggest you talk Limburger, before I do and let me tell you, I am not mincing words.” Throttle says sharply. “Very well, my furred freak, we will, we will.” Limburger replies. “Who are you calling a freak, chumpudding.” Vinnie snarls. Charley puts her hand on his leg to try and calm him down. “I suppose darling Tala informed you of what procedures have been started.” Limburger says. “No, the notary called us about it.” Charley replies. “Hmmm, I see, I suppose you’ll need the details.” Limburger murrs. “Yeah, we would very much like to know why a legal adult needs a guardian.” Throttle replies sharply. “I doubt you have any idea of what young Tala is capable of. Such power should not be unmonitored.” Limburger chuckles, as if he knows something about Tala the mice don’t. “Is you gift dangerous?” Modo looks at Tala. “Not if I drink my wolfsbane tea.” Tala replies.
Throttle turns to Limburger. “No what was the problem, fishface?” He asks. “Not to mention my ... affliction is seen as something completely fictional by most of society. Especially the legal system. You have no paw to stand on.” Tala adds. “Oh, my dear Tala, I don’t need to stand, fish prefer to swim.” Limburger laughs loudly. “Well, at the moment, you rather make yourself out to be like a fish with a bicycle.” Charley remarks. “Get to the point. How do you plan on making the court fork her over to you.” Modo growls. “Tala will be examined by a psychologist and will be deemed mentally less capable.” Sybil says, with the most unpleasant smile the mice have ever seen. “And how will you be convince the court I need mental evaluation?” Tala folds her hands in her lap, trembling slightly. She is trying so hard to be polite and to keep it together. “Oh all we need to do is push your buttons. You have always been a wild child.” Sybil cackles. “I have never lost control and I plan not do ever do so.” Tala looks her directly in the eye. “You are like your father, that monster who almost killed my sister.” Sybil jumps up, her chair clattering to the floor.
Tala’s hands shake more fervently and she begins to cry softly. “What do you know about it. Nothing, you just hide in your mansion in Cotswold. You know nothing.” She sounds choked off. She tries so hard not to break down, but it is to no avail. “Go what you want now?” Throttle furrows his brow, gripping Tala’s shoulders tightly to let her know he’s there for her. Tala bites away a sob.
Modo rises from the armchair. “Manners are off the table. I suggest you leave the premise, before I make you.” His eye lights red and he readies the gun of his bionic arm. Limburger get’s up. “Yes, we have made our intention clear. Greasepit dear boy, Doctor Carbunkle, let us go, I have reservations for a splendid lunch at the Hilton.” Limburger waddles over to the door, Greasepit and Carbunkle at his heels. The door slams shut behind them. “Good riddance.” Vinnie sticks out his tongue. Throttle gingerly approaches Sybil. “Ma’am, I suggest you allow us some privacy.” He says. Sybil turns her back to him and speed walks to the front door. She leaves, her mobile phone against her ear to call a cab.
Charley sighs and rests her head in her hands. “This is going to be one messy ride boys.” She says. “I can’t but agree Charley girl, you sister and Limburger will most likely use a lot of underhanded tricks.” Throttle walks over and sits beside her to hug her. “And so should we.” Vinnie’s eyes gleam with ferocity. “No bro, we will win this with the honest truths. Good will always win.” Modo says. He kneels by Tala, raising his hand to dry her tears. “Don’t worry, we will stand by you.” He says gently. Tala whines and tries to stop her tears, rubbing at her eyes. “Hey hey, don’t rub them eyes.” Modo gets to his feed and picks her up like a little doll. He flops down in the armchair and holds Tala against his chest. Tala, like the night before, curls into him. Tala’s sobs slowly dies down as Modo gently strokes her hair.
Charley leans over to Throttle to whisper to him. “Look at her, in his arms like a Princess.” She laughs softly. “What is so special about it?” Throttle frowns. “Tala used to play with girls who always fought about who would get to play the princess, but she always played the prince.” Charley said, out loud so Vinnie and Modo may catch it too. “And yet here she is, wrapped up like a Princess.” Modo chuckles softly. “Oi! Don’t be like this.” Tala whines. Charley and the mice laugh in response. Tala gives Modo a feeble slap against his chest. “I am so sorry princess, I don’t mean to upset you any further.” Modo chuckles deeply. Tala huffs and leans into him.
The next thing they hear from Limburger is a letter on the doormat the following day. Tala tears the envelope open with an extended nail. “What does it say?” Vinnie tries to fish the letter out of her hands. She steps away and he slams his hand into the wall instead. “Ouch!” He whines. “Awwe, kiss to make it better?” Tala teases, sitting at the kitchen table. “Yes, but not from you.” Vinnie grumbles.
“Show us the letter Tala.” Throttle urges. “It’s the court date. It says I have to be present, but that is all.” Tala replies, handing the letter over to Throttle. Modo peers along over his tan friend’s shoulder. “Would you mind if we’d come along princess?” He asks. Tala shakes her head. “I’d prefer it if you do, luv.” She replies. “Of course we will, we will stand by you where you need us.” Throttle hands the letter back. “Two days until the court date, I had best get to reading up on the laws here.” He gets up. “Would you like to use my laptop?” Tala offers. “That would be nice.” Throttle nods. Tala gets back up to retrieve it.
“So we have two more days, what do you suggest we do today?” Vinnie asks. “Lay low, I don’t want to give Limburger any reason to make this whole court thing more difficult for us.” Charley says. “I am so bored, I need some action.” Vinnie groans. “I am sorry Vincent, but that would be very unhelpful, we must act in Tala’s best interest, we can’t do dumb things now.” Throttle says over top of the laptop. “I don’t wana do dumb things, I just want to explorer.” Vinnie complains. “We can take a walks, right?” Charley gives Throttle a look. “Just make sure you don’t stand out.” Throttle replies. “I could show them Colchester Castle. And get croissants for lunch.” Tala suggests, finishing her tea. “That sound wonderful, keep Vinnie occupied for today.” Throttle chuckles. “I’ll go get my purse.” Tala rushes off.
Throttle turns to Charley. “You have yourself a nice day out in town. Relax a little, make sure Modo and Vinnie destress, I’ll need them as cool and collected as possible during the court date.” He tells her. Charley nods. “Vinnie, Modo, put on your boots, we will be out of Throttle’s fur for a while.” She calls out. “Finally, I was getting flabby sitting around.” Vinnie jumps up. Modo puts down the newspaper and retrieves his boots.
Tala comes downstairs, a messenger back over her shoulder. “Alright, I trust that you can hold the fort while we are gone.” She tells Throttle. “Aye aye ma’am.” Throttle give her a salute and a wide smile. Tala laughs behind her and and toes into her shoes. “Come on you two.” She calls out to Modo and Vinnie.
It is warm out, especially by british standards. Tala and Charley are both wearing shorts, although Charley’s short ends half way her upper leg and Tala’s leaves a bit less to the imagination. Both Modo and Vinnie are being put through a test of self control, walking a few steps behind the women. Charley and Tala are talking to each other about Mother Mars knows what. They laugh a lot too, which is a good sign.
“So, how are you liking it so far, bro?” Vinnie asks. Modo gives him a frown. “What do you mean?” He asks. “The view.” Vinnie gestures. Modo feels his face heat up and his ears droop a little bit. “Now Vincent, that is not polite.” But he looks all the same. “Ah, I am just joking. I meant all the new feelings. I mean, this is the first time you’re … ya know.” Vincent lowers his voice at least two octaves. “Ya know .. in love and all.” He whispers to Modo. “I am not in love Vinnie.” Modo hisses. “Not yeeeet.” Vinnie singsongs. Modo puts his hands in his pockets. “I dunno bro. She is awefully special.” He mutters. “You shouldn’t say aweful, but wonderful.” Vinnie corrects.
The women halt by the bus stop and Modo has to grab Vinnie by the bandana so he doesn’t run into them. “Not so eager, Romeo.” He says calmly. “Harhar.” Vinnie rolls his eyes. Almost at once the bus pulls over in front of the waiting friends. “Ah, right on time.” Tala enters first, paying for four tickets. She goes all the way to the back of the bus. The back seat has room enough for two muscular mice and the terranian women. Tala sits by the window, gazing out. Vincent sits by the other side window, his nose against the glass. “It is so different from Chicago here.” He says. “Yeah, much more green. Much calmer too.” Modo agrees.
The bus stops almost in front of Colchester Castle. “Thank you sir.” Tala says to the bus driver as they exit. “Ride free citizen.” Modo adds. They walks the rest of the way. Tala pays the fee and they walk around the castle gardens, indulging in a comfortable silence. Vinnie takes Charley by the hand and smiles toothily at her. Charley giggles softly and presses herself against him. Modo and Tala walk on beside each other, avoiding to look at one another, but not succeeding quite that well. Their eyes keep wandering back to the other, looking away once their gazes cross. Modo does a failed attempt to control the feelings that curl around his heart.
Home alone, Throttle works much harder than with his bro’s around. Don’t get it wrong, he loves them both dearly, but they can pose a big distraction. With peace and quiet it is much easier to actually understand and remember what he is reading. The laws of the land are easy enough, but Throttle still worries. He knows Limburger has the ace up his sleeve. Naturally he barely doubts that they would be able to shoot holes in that ace, but he is also sure that violence would not help Tala’s case.
He opens a word document and starts writing down everything he can think of that they need to take into account. He makes at least seven bee lines back and forth to the kitchen to get coffee. The cafeïn helps the martian cave mouse to concentrate. He types away whenever he thinks of something Limburger could possibly try to trick them with. The list grows longer and longer. That is, until Throttle’s stomach starts to protest. “I need something to eat… Let’s see if I can figure out how to operate a terranian kitchen.” He mumbles to himself. He gets up and walks into the kitchen. “Now let’s see what we have here.” He draws open the fridge. He first spots the cans of cream soda. “Ah yes, I am positively parched.” He chuckles and grabs a can, putting it out on the counter. “Hmm… what is there to … Wait a minute.” He remembers the stew and closes the fridge.
He searches for a bowl, finding them in a high cupboard and tries to figure out how to warm up only the portion he needs. When he is about to give up, the backdoor opens. “We’re home.” Charley’s voice sounds from the hall. “Thank Mother Mars!” Throttle calls out. Modo, Vinnie, Charley and Tala enter the kitchen. “What is the matter bro?” Modo asks. “I .. I can’t seem to figure out earth kitchens...” Throttle says. “What would you like?” Tala asks. Throttle’s belly rumbles in response. “Some stew would be incredibly nice.” He says. “Yeah, I want some too.” Vinnie adds. “I’d like some as well, please.” Modo tries to be polite. “Sure, get seated, I’ll take care of you.” Tala raises a hand to tickle under Modo’s chin. Modo looks at her like she’s doing a magic trick.
Tala heats the stew back up and hands out three full bowls to the mice. “Thank you Tala.” They chorus before digging in. “Men...” Charley shakes her head. Tala puts her hands on Throttle’s shoulders. “You don’t hear me complaining.” She cooes. Throttle looks up at her. “How was your day out?” He asks. “Very interesting. And not because I have never been to Colchester Castle before.” Tala winks. “Vinnie and Modo sure made it a challenging day.” Charley chuckles. “Oh come, you liked it.” Vinnie says, sounding a tad insulted. “As Tala said, it was very interesting.” Charley pinches his cheek.
Tala hands Charley a glass of wine. “I needed that, thanks.” Charley takes a bit drink. “Oh come now aunty. It wasn’t that bad.” Tala teases. “Are you sure?” Charley retrots. Tala flusters and keeps her silence. “How did your day go, Throttle?” Modo does his best to change the topic. “I can’t but name it productive. The law of the land is not too hard. But of course, we can’t trust Limburger not to try any slimy underhanded tricks.” Throttle replies. “Does he have enough opportunity for that?” Modo asks. “I am certain he will at least bring falsified evidence.” Throttle answers. “That scummy snakefish.” Vinnie growls. “Getting angry over it won’t help us. We need to keep a clear head. Your usual approach is only going to result in more trouble.” Charley cautions. “We are very aware of that Charley babe, but we are not used to go about things gently. It’s been so long that things were approached like that on Mars.” Throttle replies. “Even our fathers could not remember that time.” Modo frowns darkly.
Afternoon grows into evening and Tala orders Thai take out. She, Charley and the mice sit on the floor around the coffee table. Tala pours the mice their drinks and hands her aunt another glass of wine. “I hope you can handle spicey.” She cooes teasingly. “One way to find out.” Throttle chuckles. Vinnie digs in right away, grabbing a big bite of the Yam Nua beef, with his bare hands. He stuff it in his mouth, chews and is punished on the spot. Tears appear in the corners of his eyes and he whines, letting his ears hang low. “Now now Vincent, you ought to use your cutlery.” Throttle chuckles. “Not funny bro.” Vinnie whimpers. “You know the Mother punishes at once.” Modo sniggers. Vinnie sticks his tongue out to the grey mouse.
Tala picks up her chopsticks and grabs some of the beef as well, handily clamping it between the plastic sticks. “Well, won’t you look at that, no knife and fork, but little sticks.” Throttle picks up his own and studies them for a few moments. “Well, try them on size.” Charley chuckles. Throttle tries to copy Tala’s motion and almost succeeds. Only inches from his mouth, his grasp falters enough to make the beef tumble from the chopsticks and onto his jeans. Modo and Vinnie laugh loudly. “I’d like to see you try.” Tala pulls a bowl of Tom Kah Kai soup closer and takes a big spoonful of coconut scented liquid. She sighs happily at the taste. “Well fine.” Vinnie grabs a pair of chopsticks and tries to get them under control. Allas he applies too much power and snaps one in half. This time Throttle laughs, Modo of course joining in. Charley and Tala chuckle. “You should be glad I made sure to order extra.” Tala hands Vinnie a new pair of chopsticks. “How do I even do this?” Vinnie complains. “Come here, I’ll show you.” Charley bends over to him and shows him how told hold his chopsticks. Vinnie has more attention for her cleavage than for the sticks. Charley flicks her fingers at his nose. “Don’t be like that Vinnie.” She says.
“Tala, princess, would you mind showing me how to do this?” Modo asks. “Sure, just don’t stare at me tits.” Tala gives him a fresh wink. Modo has to chuckle in appreciation. She sounds exactly like the women at home on Mars. He likes that, a lot.
The women Modo knows on Mars are fighters, one by one. Maybe this is circumstantial, because of the war. Maybe they had been homemakers or working class hero’s if Plutark had never invaded. Maybe .. but there is no telling that. His mother might not have been a military woman, but she has always been strict with her two children, making sure to raise them with the strength and values she knew would turn them into survivors. His sister, Fury, has always honored her name, serving in the army until she fell pregnant with Rimfire and Primer. Carbine and Harley are two stunning examples of the women the wartimes on Mars bred. They are both hard as nails and can hold their own against any man. Modo is quite sure Primer will be cut of the same cloth. She surely can hold her own against Rimfire in a brawl.
He’s noticed earth women don’t have that inherent hardness about them. The way Charley reacts when him and he bro’s brawl amongst each other. How most fighters he encounters on Earth are men. Which of course can be chalked up on the fact that Earth is not in an interstellar war. On Mars every fighter is one they need, man or woman. It shapes the, man and woman alike. It shapes what is expected of each member of the community.
Tala scoots closer to Modo, placing her hand over his. The cold steel of his hand makes the hair on her arms stand on end. But she does not pull back, she gently positions his cybernetic fingers against the chopsticks. “Try not to pinch too hard.” She says. Modo nods and does his utter best. He tries his hand at a piece of chicken from the curry and finds it very hard to keep a grasp of the food. “Other hand.” He says with determination, taking the chopsticks in his other hands. Being ambidextrous works out well for the gentle giant, once again.
After a few tries both Throttle and Modo get the hang of it. Vinnie, who does not have the patience for chopsticks, grabs a spoon from the kitchen drawer and starts to shovel. He finds rice very boring, but notices it soothes the burn. He alternates between big bites of whatever dish he can reach and a mouthful of rice. “Are you going to leave some for us, or not hotshot?” Charley asks. Vinnie gives her a confused look. “I erm.. Yeah sure, go ahead.” He leans back, grabbing his drink and taking a big gulp. Throttle chuckles and tries some of the Tom Kah Kai soup. “Oh no, I am not up for this much coconut, as much as these teeth are made for it, this is too strong.” He shakes his head. “Oh well more for me.” Tala takes the bowl in one hand and sits back to enjoy it with a satisfied smile on her face.
After dinner, Tala turns on the tellie and the sense of relaxation that blankets them swipes away their worries for a while. There is a Doctor Who marathon on and the mice are enjoying it. Tala, not so much. The commentary these three have is unmatched, especially when it comes to the accuracy, or rather inaccuracy of the representation of some planets. “Remind me never to watch science fiction tv shows or films with you ever again.” Tala says. “Did you really expect anything else from the baddest motorcycle mama jamma’s this side of the milky way.” Vinnie responds. “I don’t have much experience with aliens, so I am not sure what to expect at all.” Tala replies. “Well, we have no experience with supernatural beings, so we don’t know what to expect of you either.” Vinnie retrots. “But unlike Tala, you three are very predictable.” Charley snorts. Vinnie, who’s seated on the rug in front of the couch, turns to Charley. “Who are you calling predictable sweetheart!?!” He smirks at her. “3 .. 2 ..1” Charley counts softly. On three Vinnie pounces her and topples her into the rug. “Not predictable he says.” She laughs, putting her arms around the white martian. “I am not predictable.” Vinnie huffs. “And yet you were right on count.” Charley teases. “Sweetheart..” Vinnie says in a warning tone. He nuzzles his cold nose in the nape of her neck. Charley squeals and struggles to free herself of him.
The next day, Tala is very obviously tense. “What is the matter Princess?” Modo pulls her around so she faces him. “Couple a’ things.” Tala avoids looking him in the eyes. “I want to help you.” Modo rumbles. “There are a few things I need to do on my own.” Tala backs off a little. Modo’s heart gives a little painful squeeze. “I am sorry, big guy… These are things my father should have done with me. I need to do it alone.” Tala looks at her feet. “But I need to be safe.” Modo cups her cheek with his good hand. Tala leans into it, but still avoids looking directly at him. “I am a big girl, I can handle myself.” She shows him her fangs and claws, hoping to convince him she can fend for herself. Modo shakes his head. “Those won’t help against guns.” He says.
Tala moves into hug him, her arms around his waist and her head on his chest. “Don’t worry. I’ll heal.” She whispers. Modo opens his mouth to reply, but his words dry up on his tongue as she pulls away. “Don’t follow me, please.” She looks him in the eye. “Promise.” She asks of him, holding out her pinkie finger. Modo twines his good pinkie finger with hers. “I promise, if you promise to return safely.” He tells her. She nods. “I will. I need to go now, though.” She stands on her tippy toes, stretching out as far as she can to kiss him on the cheek. Modo flusters a little bit. Tala takes the opportunity to slip away from him, leaving the house.
“Heya bro, have ya seen little red?” Vinnie asks. Modo looks up from the newspaper. “She just left.” He answers. “On her own?” Vinnie frowns. Modo nods in response. “And you just let her, oh my … Charley is going to pull our antena’s out of our heads.” Vinnie all but shouts. “No she won’t bro. Tala made me promise she could do this alone. I am sure Charley won’t hold that against us.” Modo answers. Vinnie gives him a thoughtful look. “Why’d she ask you to hang back anyway?” He asks. “She wouldn’t really say, but she seemed very sad and mentioned her father was supposed to do it with her.” Modo’s ears droop a little. Vinnie understands how his friend feels. Both remain silent for a while, each thinking of their own father.
“What are you two doing?” Throttle comes in. Vinnie looks up and Modo heaves a sigh, blinking to get rid of his stare. “I guess we got a little lost in our memories...” He mumbles. “Why so?” Throttle lift his shades to peer curiously at his fellow martians. “Somethin’ Tala said.” Vinnie answers. ”You didn’t piss her off, did you Vincent?” Throttle asks strictly. “No bro he didn’t. Tala’s gone out for a bit… She said she had to do something that her dad was supposed to do.. We got thinking about our own old men..” Modo assures the leader. Throttle chuckles. “Look here, barely thirty years old and already we are sentimental.” He says in his usually husky way. “But there is no time to be so, we need to make a bit of battleplan bro’s.” He gestures for Modo and Vincent to follow.
Modo and Vinnie follow Throttle out to the garden, where Charley is sitting down on the terrace with lemonade on the rocks. They all take a chair and Modo and Vinnie look to Throttle. “Tell us bro, what is the plan?” Modo asks. “I have decided we should not mix into this unless our sort of mixing in is needed. I’ve done my reading and violence will only give the judge reason to sign Tala over to Limburger.” Throttle tells his friends. Modo and Vinnie nod in return. “Good.” Throttle takes off his shades and looks at his brethren with a determined gleam in his eyes. “But if Limburger crosses the line, he will pay for it.” His voice is dark and there is a bitterness in it. Vinnie knows he is thinking of Harley. The sister Mars’ last hope could never safe.
Tala returns home in the evening. She’s been out all day. “Honey~! I am hooome!!!” She calls out. She waddles into the kitchen, multiple bags in her hands. The mice jump up from the living room couch to help her out. “You were gone a long time.” Throttle says, mildly strict. “I had a lot to do.” There is a sadness in Tala’s voice. “You aren’t going to tell us, are ya?” Vinnie sits down on the counter. “I’d rather not.” Tala opens the first bag and starts putting away groceries. Throttle noses through the bags. “You just have been shopping all day.” He says. “I bought nothing that was not necessary.” Tala answers.
Throttle picks a few items from the bag. “With all due respect, baby, but these are men’s clothes.” He says. “Of which I am well aware. You are not coming with me to court tomorrow dressed like you’ll smash place up at the meres provocation. As much as I enjoy the bods boys, you’ll need to be dressed decently.” Tala points out. “If she bought us sweaters, I am pulling out my own whiskers.” Vinnie groans. “Don’t worry, I won’t dare dent that ego of your, dear uncle.” Tala cooes. Vinnie groans a little in response.
“I just got you something descend looking for tomorrow. For the day after that, at the cremation, I expect you to look impeccable.” Tala gestures to three white bags with zippers on the front. “You rented us monkey suits?” Modo asks. “Au contraire luv, I bought you three piece gentleman’s wear.” Tala hands each of the mice a bag. “Do my parents and sister this honor, please.” She asks softly. “Of course we will Tala girl.” Throttle says. “Do you want us to try them on for size now?” Vinnie unzips his bag and peers into it. “Oh y-yeah.. Sure. I’ll leave you to it.” Tala leaves the kitchen and closes the door behind herself.
“Wow!” Charley says as the mice erupt from the kitchen. The three piece suits are all pulled taut around the mice’s muscles, but look beyond handsome nonetheless. The buttons of Modo’s waistcoat look rather stressed, but Tala didn’t mind in the slightest. “Like what you see sweethearts?” Vinnie says with a fresh wink. “I most certainly do.” Charley walks over to fix Vinnie’s tie. Throttle is really the only who who remotely managed to do his tie correctly. Tala fixes his and gives him a one over. “Goodness me, I made no mistake with these suits.” She bites her lip and can barely keep her hands away from Modo’s chest. “I am glad you like it...” Modo in his turn has no idea where to look.
“Shall we change again, it would be a pity if these pretty suits would wrinkle.” Throttle suggests. “Yeah. As handsome as we doubtlessly look, it is a bit overdressed for today.” Vinnie agrees. “You change and hang them away, I’ll cook.” Tala says. “There is a good idea, I am starving!” Vinnie all but calls out. The mice retrieve their clothes from the kitchen and head up the stairs.
Within minutes the house if filled with the scents of cooking. Vinnie races down the stairs, his belly rumbling. He hasn’t bothered with his chest straps and socks. “Hey there, stud, be careful that you don’t fall.” Charley chuckles softly. “Careful is not in my dictionary sweetheart!” Vinnie smirks. “So I have noticed.” Charley groans. Vinnie gives her a pat on the butt and walks into the kitchen. “What smells so good?” He asks. “Garlic.” Is the deadpan answer. “Is that all we are gona eat?” Vinnie gives Tala a shocked look. “Of course not dumbchuckles.” Tala sniggers. “Then what are you going to make?” Vinnie asks. “You’ll see, now leave me to it.” Tala pushes him out of the kitchen with surprising strength.
“I wonder if shopping was all she’s been doing today.” Modo peers at the closed kitchen door. “I doubt it, but we should not pry, she will tell us when she is ready.” Throttle warns. “She’s probably been to the notary, seeing how she knows the cremation date.” Charley suggests. “That is a good option too.” Throttle nods.