Cell drug her daughter into the base commander's office, sitting her in a chair.  "Sir."  He looked up.  "One of your people is about to have a change of status.  We'd like to take him now for the bonding."
"Which one?" he asked tolerantly.
"Plumb," Primer groaned.
"Plumb?  Hair that's worse than Rimfire's? Got that stupid guitar?"  Cell nodded, grimacing. "Is he the father of her children?"
"No, but he's the father of this new one."
"Indeed?" he asked, smiling brightly.  "Let me have him drug up.  He's on the course."
"No need, sir, let me," she said sweetly, going out to get her son-in-law.  Modo was there too, waiting on her so he followed her out.  She pointed out the kid.  "There he is.  Watch out for his rainbow hair."  She leapt in his path, making him swerve, and Modo clotheslined him.  She got up and dusted off, smiling at him.  "Still a great team, bro."
"Still," he agreed, handing her the boy.  "One son-in-law."
"Wonderful."  She took off his helmet and Modo shuddered at his pink, blue, and flourescent green hair.  "I told you so," she smirked.  She slapped him a few times to wake him up.  "Good morning, son-in-law!  It's time for your bonding."
"Get your tail up to the office and make my niece an honest mouse," Modo ordered coolly, glaring at him.  The mouse trembled, staring at him in awe and horror. "Now!  Before my bros have to show up and help me whip your tail.  Not that they'll have to do more than clap and cheer."  The boy nodded, running that way as fast as he could.
"We should call them," Cell offered.  "They could use a good family event and Momma said we could celebrate tonight."  She walked him off, ignoring all the stares of awe at her brother's body.  "Yes, it's Modo, my little brother," she called.  "Eyes, forward!"  They all looked away then went to gossip with the others.
"Oh, yeah, he's still living with his bros on earth," Thruster told them.  "I delivered some stuff to their really cushy house.  It belongs to that white mouse Vinnie brought back yesterday.  Huge place, must be nearly as big as the base.  Has a dual layered landing pad.  I smelled a hot spring too.  Yeah, Vinnie's got that hot earth chick and the baby.  Modo's got this babe of a mechanic from what I saw, and Throttle's got that boy of his."
"I heard that," Modo called back.  "The house isn't that big, boy."
"Dual layered landing pads?  How many ships can you hold?" Cell asked, grinning up at him.
"Three probably.  We had to expand because we needed more rooms.  Xander designed it."
"Cool.  I heard his name applied to that new housing project too."  He nodded, grinning at her.  "Very cool.  When do I meet Throttle's boy?"
"Tonight.  Probably with the rest of Vinnie's family.  Three were at the club last night when I popped in for a minute to check on them."  He held the door to the office open for her.  "After you."
"Thank you, brother dear."  She walked in and saw Plumb with his head on her daughter's stomach.  "I see she told you."
"Yes, ma'am, and I'm more than honored to claim her as mine and to bond with her right here and now.  Yours is a great family and I love her.  She's a beautiful girl and very brave."
"Son, you suck up very well.  You military?" Modo asked.  The base commander laughed, putting his head down and beating on his desk while doing so.  "Sorry, fair question."
"No, he's not," the commander laughed.  "I just saw Carbine's reaction to that question and then her look at his hair!"
"Well, the baby'll be colorful," Cell offered.
"As long as it doesn't look like a smurf, it'll be fine," Modo agreed.
"Little blue subversive cartoons that the Plutarkians created. Always happy.  Live in a village of about a hundred with only one woman and then sometime in the future three kids appeared out of nowhere.  The human children watch them as part of their daily cheerful teachings. They sing and go 'tra-la-la-la' in the forest all day," he said flatly.
"I'm so sorry," Cell offered, patting him on the back.  "That must be horrible."  He nodded, giving her another hug.  "It's all right.  You can stay if you want."
"I'll put you over training since Primer's going on leave," the commander offered.
"No, that's all right," Modo assured him.  "There's still bad guys on earth.  The bros need me."  He withheld his shudder by the merest of margins.  Him in a command post, how horrifying was that!  He looked around but he wasn't back in that nightmare thing again.  He couldn't be, everything was too in focus around him.
"What's wrong, Uncle Modo?" Primer asked.
"Just making sure I hadn't been put back into that stupid nightmare curse spell thingy that was done on the group a few weeks back," he admitted.  Speaking of which.  He looked at his sister.  "We've got to talk about Rimfire and magic, Cell.  He's dabbling and doing it with his girlfriend."
"Magic? Like the Goddess' path?" she asked dryly.  He nodded.  "That works?"
"It does for him, Dawn, Xander, and apparently Vinnie."
"Vinnie? The  Goddess' path?" Primer asked.
"He gave it up when he was younger," he admitted, patting her on the head.  "A young teenager he said."  He looked at his sister again.  "Dawn's very into it.  She's following the Goddess actually.  He's following her tail at this point."
"Interesting.  When can I come down and harm my son?" she asked sweetly.
"He's not too bad, but I'm watching him very closely," he admitted.  "Now that we've got a working transporter, you can come down whenever you get leave."
"Good!  We can do that!" she said happily.  "Magic is not what I expected from my son."
"Why not, daddy did," Primer pointed out.
"Hush," Cell ordered.
"He did?" Modo asked.  She nodded.  "That explains why he can.  Dawn said it runs in families."
"Yeah, but he don't need to," Cell said firmly.  "He's got other skills he can live on."
"He is," Modo assured her.  "He's more doing protections and stuff. The house, on each other. Unfortunately not on her bike since his rammed hers so badly recently in a fit of jealousy."  He cleared his throat.  "He's not turning out like your man did.  He won't follow chaos and neither will Dawn.  Xander makes sure of it."
"Fine," she agreed calmly.  "I'm still going to whip his tail about it."
"Tell him about him, momma," Primer offered.  "He probably doesn't remember daddy that well.  He was only five when he died."  She looked at her uncle.  "Does he follow the M'dreth too?"
"No, but the spirit they have is one of Dawn's former friends. We've seen a bit too much of Willow actually."  He grinned at her.  "He's cool with it, and being protective with it, but I thought I'd warn her."
"Yes, I wanted that one.  How long has he been doing this?"
"Not long.  I think he's been helping her mostly but she's taught him how to do some protection stuff like an amulet to protect Vic and things."
"Vinnie's son," Primer told her.
"Ah.  Victory?"
"Victor, like his name," Modo said, giving her a nudge.  "He said it was tradition.  Charley said he's the only one."
"I said the same thing and then Rimfire came," Cell said dryly.   She looked at the commander.  "By the way, that birth control they brought us is very nice.   I'm not having another one."  He chuckled and nodded.  "Thank you."
Modo looked at the commander, then at his sister.  "Should I pop up my arm cannon so it's a double bonding?" he suggested fondly, smirking at the commander, who went pale and sweaty all of a sudden.
Cell hit him on his human arm.  "I'm more than capable of tying up my own man and dragging him before a priest, little brother.  I don't need you to scare him for me!  If I want him that scared, I'll damn well torture him myself!"
Modo hugged her.  "I've missed you," he sighed, sounding pleased.
"Me too, you big lug.  Now let go so we can get these two married off.  Before I have a third grandbaby."  They both stared down the new couple, who swallowed and nodded. "Who?"
"Carbine can do 'em," the commander offered.
"Good deal.   Get your little purple bicycle and let's go, son-in-law."
"Yes, ma'am," he agreed quickly, whistling out the window for her.  He ran down the stairs, hopping on and waiting until the others came to take off.  He didn't want to appear like he was running.  He rubbed his throat and chest.  Modo had already shown him why he didn't want to run away.
Carbine looked up as more visitors came into the Council Chamber, then looked at Throttle. "Forgot more stuff?"
"No, came to witness the bonding," he said, leaning on Xander's shoulder once they got off their bikes.  "After all, she might as well be family."
"Point.  No bikes in the chamber.  If Stoker can't you can't."  The bikes beeped and stayed there.
"Guys, let's make room for the happy bride to come in," Xander pleaded.  "That way you guys can get good and dusty so Anya and Spike can help wash you again."  They went back outside to do that.
"You're good," Staff said with a smirk.
"I try," he said happily, grinning at the woman he had met yesterday.  "Hi, it's us again."
"I can see that."  She walked in with her spouse, looking at Carbine.  "We need bonded and you can do that."
"Because he's the father of the newest grandbaby," Cell said as she walked in with Modo.  She stopped to look at the new mouse, then punched him on the arm.  "Welcome to the clan.  I'm Modo's big sister."
"So I can tell, you hit like him," he said, rubbing his arm.  "I'm a Xander mouse."
"So I've heard," she agreed with a grin.  "No bike of your own?"
"Not yet.  I've got an ear thing that's keeping my balance off."
"Ah.  Hopefully they can fix that."  She hit him again and walked up behind her family.  "Now.  Before Modo asks him if he's military again."
Carbine gave the kid's hair a horrified look.  "I wouldn't have accepted him with hair like that."
Modo snuck out and came back with the other one, planting him beside his sister.  "He needs bonded too if he's not already.  No sister of mine is going to have an illicit affair and make Momma cry."
"That's my boy," Momma said proudly, sniffling a bit.  "Good boy, Modo."  She gave him a hug.  "You're such a good boy.  I've been trying and trying and she won't listen to me."
"Momma!" Cell whined.
"Fair's fair, momma," Primer taunted.
"I can still whip both your tails," she warned.
"She's my woman now, you'd better not try," Plumb said hotly.
"Whoa, whoa, cool it down, kiddo," Throttle offered, stepping forward.  "Cell's her momma.  She brought her into this world and she can take her out.  You're just her boy."
"Yeah, you can protect her but family will always come out on top," Xander agreed.  "They're sneaky and have known you longer so they know all your weaknesses.  They put them there."
Vinnie looked at him.  "Are you sure we can't bring your parents back so we can hurt them some more?"
"Fairly so, unless you find out my father's alive."  He shrugged.  "We know my mother's dead.  They found her."
"I remember," he said with a frown. He glared at the kids.  "Shut up, turn around, do the deed."
"Yes, sir," he said timidly, turning back around.  "She's mine, make it so, please, ma'am?" he asked in a near whisper.  If Modo was bad, all three of them were much worse.  He looked back at them.  "If you have any other unwilling mates, they'd be very good to scare them into committing," he offered.
Carbine snickered at that.  "I can just see the marriage promotion posters.  Throttle pointing a finger.  "Marry them or I sic Vinnie and Modo on you."
"Nah, more like marry them or we'll give both white mice muir berry juice and sic 'em on you," Throttle taunted back.  He cracked his knuckles.  "Besides, we're more impressive in person, Carbine."
"You certainly are," Cell agreed dryly.  "I don't need to ...."  Xander picked her up and turned her around, then took her weapons by frisking her efficiently. "Cheese, what are you, boy?"
"I'm a Xander mouse," he said sweetly, grinning at him.  "I'm worse than Vinnie at times."
"I'll marry mine first," Cell offered quickly, turning back around to face Carbine.  "Let's do this now."
"Can we do fireworks?" Xander asked Throttle.  "There should be fireworks."
"No explosions today, Xander," Throttle said patiently, patting him on the back.  "Carbine, he's in a bouncy mood still."
Carbine cleared her throat.  They didn't need to rebuild the chamber again.  "Cell, do you take this mouse to be yours above all others?"
"I do."
"Commander Rotor, do you take this mouse to be yours above all others?"
"I do."  He glanced at Modo, then at the others.  "I'd better," he joked.  They all nodded.
Carbine coughed.  "Any issue coming?"
"Hell no," Cell said firmly.
"Fine.  Then I pronounce you husband and wife, kiss the wife and step back so the other ones can."
Outside, a few pages were gossiping.  "Those biker mice from earth are really impressive," one said.
"Yeah, that Modo guy is marrying off his sister and niece today.  All he had to do was glare at them and they gave in," another agreed.
"Maybe they can do the same thing for my sister," a third, a girl, offered.  She straightened up.  "Hi, Mr. Stoker."
"Hi, kids.  What's going on?"
"Those terrran Biker Mice are really impressive," the girl gushed.  "They stomped in here and made Modo's sister and niece marry!  There was talk about them doing the same for others when parents weren't enough."
Stoker paused before he opened the door, shaking his head.  "That's a bad thought, kids," he told them.  "A very, very bad thought."  He walked inside, just in time to hear Modo's momma squeal "I'm so happy!!!!!" and hug both women.  He looked at Throttle.  "The kids outside wanted to know if you wanted to change profession and do this all the time."
"Hey, I'm bored," Xander agreed with a grin.
Throttle pulled his boy closer, kissing him until he moaned and went limp.  "He won't be for long," he promised.  "Ask Modo, this was his thing."  He walked his boy off, taking him to have him on his bike.  He didn't care who saw him, Xander apparently needed more.   He at least had the decency to ride around to an alley and hide in a shadow, then take him.
"Oooh, sore!" Xander yelped as he slid into him.  "Very sore!  Have you-shaped indents already."
"Apparently you needed more," he said, working him hard and fast.  He looked over at the cop, who was at the end of the alley staring at him.  "He said he was bored and he was being bouncy," he said, slamming in and making Xander moan.  "He's mine, I needed to wear him out."
"That's fine, sir.  Um, we usually charge a fine for things like that but I know you're newly returned."
"I'll send his momma a case of beer," Xander moaned.  "Or something.  Whatever. Platinum card," he groaned.  Throttle spanked him and worked him harder, letting him get off.  "Thank you, love."
"Welcome."  He finished himself off, then pulled out and helped Xander onto his back.  "No more bad thoughts, Xander.  No more bouncing either.  You're not a Tigger."  Xander grinned at him.  "Got it?"  He nodded.  "Good boy."  He kissed him gently then stroked his cheek.  "Why were you bouncy?"
"I had extra energy."
Throttle sniffed his lips then groaned.  "Muir juice," he whimpered.
"And there's no tower to destroy and we can't go bungee jumping or anything," Vinnie taunted as he joined them.  "He okay?"
"Momma fed him muir juice," Throttle said, looking at him.  He pushed Vinnie back with a forehead shove.  "My man."
"Not in dispute."  He took the ticket and tucked it in Throttle's pants pocket.  "They'll pay however they can through his momma."
"That's fine, sir.  He offered a case of beer. That'd be great for the next city-wide dinner."  He strolled off, happy now that he'd made one ticket for the day.
Throttle groaned but Xander hugged him.  "I'm sorry."
"That's fine."  He kissed him gently then pushed him back.  "Get dressed, if we're not doing anything we'll go for a long drive."
"Sure."  Xander wiggled off the bike and got dressed, then cleaned up the mess they had made with his tongue before getting on the back and helping Throttle zip his own pants back up.  "There you go.  Let's go."
Vinnie shook his head, waving.  "Have fun.  I'll tell 'em."  Throttle nodded and kicked his bike to life, handing Xander his helmet as he took off. "Later."  He snickered once they were gone, going back inside.  "Throttle's momma fed us muir juice this morning.  Or at least she fed it to Xander."
"Cheese, I forgot that was in the syrup," Throttle's momma moaned. "My poor boy."
"Now owes a case of beer for the next city-wide picnic," Vinnie told her.  "We'll send it up when we go back."
She nodded, patting him on the back.  "At least you didn't have any.  Your girl's still sore."  She took the baby and walked off, going to celebrate with the family.  "My son's on a long ride with his boy.  I forgot I laid out muir juice syrup this morning because I know my boy likes it."
Modo's momma gave her a horrified look.  "Is your boy still walking?"
"So far.  Apparently they got caught already but it's only a case of beer for a fine."  She held the baby.  "Look who I stole."
Modo grinned down at the baby.  "Hey, Victor."  The baby cooed and kicked, beaming at him.  "Wanna come sleep on me?"  He took the baby and put him against his shoulder, which was the baby's favorite position.  He heard a disappointed sniff and looked down, finding Anya there. "Hey, little mouse cadet."
"You love him more than me," she sniffed.
"I do not," he soothed, reaching down to pat her on the head.  "Just differently.  He's my bro's baby so he's my godson."  She pouted.  "Now, don't do that."
"Anya, men hate pouting women," Modo's momma told her.  "That's why you'll never find a good mouse."
"Fine," she complained, stomping inside to cuddle the real man in her life, her daddy.  "Daddy, Uncle Modo's holding Vic and won't hold me."  She climbed into his lap and cuddled against his chest, sticking her tongue out at Carbine.  She hated her.  She wasn't a girly girl at all.  Anya had already decided she wanted to be a girl like Dawn and have a boy like Rimfire.  She'd just have to work harder at it.
Vinnie looked down at the growling going on and patted Spike on the head.  "Hey, little vampire mouse.  How are you today?"  Spike bit him then chuckled and went to bite Carbine.  He hated her for totally different reasons but she was fun to nibble on.
"Cheese!" she yelped, getting up rubbing her tail. "Spike!  How many times do I have to order you not to do that!"
"He's a kid, they don't take orders," Modo offered.  "Spike, don't bite her.  You don't know what she's had on her tail."  Spike smirked and licked his lips, then did it up at her.
"You are so wrong," Carbine said coolly.
Stoker slapped her.  "Do not talk to my child that way, Carbine.  I won't have it.  Spike, don't taunt her.  You'll get food poisoning from her tail it's so old and stringy."
"Excuse me?" she demanded. "Old and stringy?  This from someone who was a senior citizen when I joined the military?"
"Enough!" another councilman ordered.  "While amusing, this is not council business.  Spike, do not bite Carbine.  It's not polite, young man.  Learn from Modo and his family, son.  Carbine, sit down!"  She sat, carefully guarding her tail.  "Stoker, perhaps the children should start going to a daycare center?  They're amusing but disruptive."
"Anya got kicked out of the last one for making the teacher cry after she fixed her hair."
"Don't you mean cut her hair?" Carbine asked coolly.
"Hey, you don't brag on your waist-length, perfect hair in front of a girl these days.  They're liable to react."   He grinned. "Which she did."
"Still, there are other ones," the other female on the council said gently.  "Please?  I don't want to become Spike's next snack."  Spike toddled over and hugged her, climbing up in her lap to cuddle her chest.  "Thank you, dear.  I love you too. You're a very good mouse."  She stroked his back.  "Just don't bite me."
"He's still mad because I wouldn't let him try to nurse off me," Carbine said bitterly.
"Perhaps you should have one of your own," the same calm councilman offered.  "There are a great number of males around who would love you for your experience and skills, not just around the house either.  I'm sure you could find someone pleasing to you."
"No thank you.  The sort of men I usually like aren't drawn to women like me."
"I'll have Throttle pick you out a few," Stoker offered. "He knows you best."  She snorted at that.  "Even with you changing, he still knows you best."
"Fine.  If he finds someone I'll at least try a date with him," she agreed coolly.  "Again, this is not council business."
"No it's not," the other woman agreed, giving her an understanding smile. It was so hard to find a good mouse these days.  "Are the bindings over with?" she called.  A few more couples came in and went before Carbine.  "Oh, that's delightful," she said happily.  "We could always use more happy couples."
"Which one of the four scared you guys?" Stoker asked.
"We heard them talking about it outside and decided it'd be better to do this before Mars got an official group to help reluctant couples to the altar with their parent's consent," one male told him, clinging to his woman.  "Can we use the next city picnic as our party?"
"Sure," Stoker agreed.  "Anyone against that?"  No one said anything.  "That's fine, kid."
"Thank you, Mr. Stoker."  He stepped forward when it was their turn, saying his vows clearly and plainly so no one thought he was scared of being a husband.
Throttle came home with a sleepy Xander mouse and looked at all the other bikes, heading inside with Xander and out to the back yard since that's where everyone was.  "What's going on?"
"There were sixty couples who wed today," his mother said with a smile.  "The most in any day so far.  More than most months."  He groaned, shaking his head as he sat Xander down next to him.  "He all right?" she asked when he whimpered.
"Just a bit sore," he admitted.  "Modo, got a spare pillow on the pile?"  One was tossed to him, making him lean back to catch it.  "Thanks."  He picked Xander up with his tail and put it under him, then gently put him back down, getting sleepy, content murmurs again.  "Sorry, long rides put him out."
"I bet it was," Vinnie joked.  Charley hit him and he winced.  "Ow!" he said mildly.
"Quit picking on your baby brother.  It's not his fault he's nearly a succubus."
"Ya know, that word sounds dirty just saying it," Modo complained.
"Sounds like there should be a comma in there," Vinnie agreed, moving away from Charley in time to miss being hit again.  He grinned at her.
"Keep it up, sleep on the floor while I get the warm and cuddly Xander toy," she taunted.
"Bet me," Throttle snorted.  "Not happenin' without consent."
"Not like that!"  She threw another pillow at him and he caught it, using it for his own tail.
"Thanks.  Needed that."
"Ooh, was it a long ride both ways?" Vinnie taunted.
"Momma, slap him," he asked.
She swatted him.  "Behave, Vincent.  You know he'll get you back soon enough.  Just don't make me explain to the nice cops again tonight, children."
"Cops?" Throttle asked.
"Cops?" Vinnie squeaked.
"Oh, momma," Modo moaned, shaking his head.  "Six complaints from what Stoker said."
"You're way too loud, bro," Vinnie and Throttle said in unison.
"Hey, my guy was muffling himself," Throttle defended.  Charley was blushing bright red now and trying to sneak off.  "Sorry, Charley girl."
"I'm not the one who hit me because his mate was biting me," Vinnie complained, rubbing his thigh.
"Xander bit you?" Modo asked.  "Why?"
"It's just the way he was facing," Vinnie said dryly, grinning at his girl.  "Then again, I'm just glad you didn't try to bite him, sweetheart."
"One more word, Vinnie, and I'm taking the kid and going home."
"Sorry, sweetheart."  He pulled her closer, kissing her until she moaned and settled in his lap.  "I won't talk about it.  It was fantastic but I won't talk about it."
"Thank you."
"Yes, I am, why are we talking about me being fantastic?" Xander murmured.
Throttle patted him on the back of the head.  "Go back to sleep, Xander."
"Did he say what I think he just did?" Charley demanded.  Throttle nodded, smirking at her.  "Then he's not allowed to hang out with Vinnie any more.  Xander used to be such a sweet guy, and now Vinnie ruined him.  Hopefully it's not too late."
"I did not," he defended, grinning at her. "Now he's got proper white mouse self esteem."
"Bro, I agree, that knob's set a bit too high again," Throttle told him.  "No more for a month.  Let his head unswell."
"Like his tail?" Modo's momma teased.
"No, his tail's not swollen yet," Throttle told her.  "Not for lack of trying though.  I caught him lifting weights with his tail the other day."
"Yeah, he said it needed to be stronger," Vinnie agreed, smirking at him.  "He was also working on his bod.  That getting better?"
"I'll let you judge when we get home," Throttle told him.  "Not here.  Then your cousins will want him even more than they already do."
"He didn't destroy the club, the other guy destroyed the club trying to get to him," Vinnie defended.  "It wasn't his fault."
"We are talking about the one in Chicago, right?" Modo nearly pleaded.
"No, last night there was this mouse that kept trying to get to him.  Xander even threw him into a wall and it didn't help," Vinnie told him.
"So he went and got five friends and came back to kidnap him," Charley finished. "That's about when we came home.  They were not happy mice but the owner of the club was very happy, he said he wanted to do some renovations anyway and asked Xander what he'd recommend and how to implement it."
"Two white mice is chaos," Modo's mother sighed.
"Two?" Vinnie snickered, smirking at her.  "Three of my cousins were there!  Five!"
Modo and his mother both moaned.  If three was a planetary emergency when bored, what were five hyper white mice?  "Is the club still standing?" Modo's momma asked quietly.
Throttle nodded.  "Yeah, all but one wall and the bathrooms."
"He was very efficient when he took out the first three," Charley praised.
"Yeah, but he barely left any for the rest of us," Vinnie complained.  "There's no fun in that.  We woulda had much more fun if he had let us have those three and he'd taken the other two.  My cousins probably had to find another fight later on."
"No wonder it took the cops an hour to respond," Throttle's momma said dryly, making her son and everyone else blush.  "Usually they're much faster than that.  I wondered."
"Momma," Throttle moaned.
"Oh, hush, son, if it was good that's all that matters.  Was it good?"
"I don't think it's ever been bad with him," he admitted.
"What about the time you broke your ankle?" Vinnie taunted.
"That wasn't my fault.  That was Dawn's," he said firmly.  "She screamed for no reason."
"Yeah, but wasn't that bad?"
"Not before she screamed.  We worked that out, now she's got to put full shields on the room, even on the wall between hers and ours."
"She wasn't?" Modo asked.  Throttle shook his head.  "Why not?"
"Not a clue and I don't want to think about it," Throttle told him plainly.  "Sorta like how Plutarkians have baby fish.  Not something I want to consider, bro."
Modo nodded, banishing both those thoughts from his mind.  "I understand.  I agree."  He went to get himself a drink.  "We should try to pop home and raid the fridge."
"We should," Charley agreed.  "But we're having a power outage."
"We need a Karbunkle remote," Vinnie said, staring at Throttle and Xander.  "One that summons things like the transporter."
"We found one but there's no way to power it," Throttle offered.  "Out in the cliffs."  Everyone stared at him.  "Xander said one of the dead people out there told him.  He thought we needed to go home and get lube."
"He's practical, I like that about him," Modo's momma offered.
"We powered the one at the house with Dawn's bike battery," Charley offered.  "The lights went out just as I popped out."
"That's an idea," Throttle agreed.  "Let's go see if it works, bros."  They all mounted up, Throttle taking Xander with him since he had the most recent experience with the things.
"They'll be back soon," Momma sighed.
"Hopefully," Throttle's momma agreed.  "Food'll go to waste otherwise."
"I doubt it.  They can eat cold hotdogs and pickled eggs."
"True," she agreed, grinning at her.  "Still good cold."
Throttle led the way back to the hidden transporter, waking Xander up when they stopped.  "Hey, babe, can you make this one work?"
"Maybe," he said, yawning a bit.  He got up and went over there, looking at the cords.  He put them where they were supposed to go, then looked at the power cord.  "Need a supply.  Willow?"  She popped in.  "Or Seal.  Hey.  Can you give us some power here?"
"Sure," she agreed, touching the end of the cord.  "Going home?"  He nodded.  "How long?"
"Say one hour.  That way we can make a store run for some stuff that's needed."
"Sure," she agreed happily.  "Great to see you on Mars, Xander."
"It's only a visit so I can pick out our retirement spot," he said happily, pulling the lever before walking in.  He walked out the other side and stared at the Throttle standing there.  "I did it again?" he asked hopefully.
"No, we needed more bullets," he offered.  "Rimfire went to get some."  He grinned at his self came out. "Just borrowing some artillery.  I'm the one he called earlier."
"That's cool.  Isn't there some sort of paradox principle that means the world will explode?"
"No, our realms are so far apart it's not funny.  Do I still have Carbine too?"
"Nope, she chose duty over pleasure," he sighed.  "I have a Xander now," he said, nodding at him.
"I saw.  He showed me.  By the way, use the Mekonis books to help him before he gives more people a headache."  He rubbed his antenna, noticing the boy was blushing, but he was also walking funny.  "Back from Mars?"
"Just a short hop.  We needed to pick stuff up," Throttle admitted. Rimfire came back with another box of bullets.  "That leaves how many?"
"I can make more, give him another," Xander ordered. Rimfire nodded, going to get another one.  "Need another launcher?"
"Please," he agreed with a grin.  "Those are damn handy for taking down the tower."
"And a launcher too, Rimfire," Xander yelled.  He grinned at Modo.  "Okay, in Throttle's pocket are our three tickets, we owe a case of beer for each.  The beers were in the trunk of the car."
"Still mostly are but I stole a box from one," Dawn told him.
"Fine."  He grinned at Modo again.  "Go ahead and get those, then make a store run for soda and stuff."  Modo nodded.  "Throttle, go with him, your momma could use some and it'll be colder that way."
"Yes, dear."  He went off after Modo.  "More beer too?"
"Probably should, just in case we get more tickets," he said dryly.  He looked at Vinnie.  "Go check on Chef Andy.  The lights are still off and he's probably got stuff about to go bad.  That'll feed a bunch of people and kids on Mars.  Here, take my wallet," he ordered, handing it over.  Vinnie nodded and took off with it, his wallet safely in his front pocket.  "Charley?"
"The usual stuff.  Bandages, cotton balls, alcohol, that stuff?"  He nodded and she went to grab his car to do that.
Xander looked at Dawn, then at Rimfire as he came back.  "Okay.  Let him go home, and then go gather up a bunch of books for Mars.  They're rebuilding their library."  They whooped and went to get the normal books.  Mars probably didn't need magic books and this meant another trip to the bookstore.  Xander grinned.  "Sorry."
"Not an issue.  Can I still use it?"
"Seal.  He's got to go home.  Can you switch to his for a minute?"
"Sure, Xander."  It switched and sucked Throttle in, taking him back.  Then it switched back.  "There you go.  Soon?"
"Fairly so."  He grinned at her and went to raid the refrigerator of anything they obviously weren't going to eat.  Like the bottles of wine Boris had made him bring him as well.  He found some plastic bags and put them in them, gathering everything by the transporter's front.  Modo came back first, loaded down, and put that stuff down too.  Vinnie came back next with coolers of stuff.  "Was I right?"
"You were more than right.  He had stuff that had about six hours," he admitted.  "Just this side of being tossed by his standards.  He said it's still edible and it tasted good when I had a sandwich."
"Cool.  You head back first, call the main three and tell 'em.  Modo, you go back to help heave stuff too."  They nodded, heading back to do that and Xander sent the bottles of wine first, hoping they didn't break.  Dawn and Rimfire came back with a few boxes of books and went to get some more, sending them all through at once.  Then everyone else came back and Xander got everything through, stepping through last.  He walked into a hive of activity and smiled at the Seal.  "That everyone and everything?" he called.
"Yeah," Throttle called back.
"Cheese, we're going to be celebrating tonight," Stoker said happily, taking the food from Vinnie's bike and putting it into a cold cart he had on his.  "What's this stuff?"
"Barbeque, it's great," he offered. "He put slaw in there too for those who like it.  I like it that way, but Modo moves back and forth and Throttle doesn't like it."
"Okay.  How do you fix it?"
"Meat, bun, slaw," Xander told him.
"Oh, simple."  He nodded, letting Modo load up the sodas and beer too.  "Why that?"
Xander stapled the three tickets to a case each.  "Payment," he said with a blush.  "Some of that goes to Modo and Throttle's momma for trade."
"Deal," he agreed.  "I'll stop there first.  We don't need that much beer all at once.  Just those three cases should be enough."  He took off once Modo closed it, accepting the last few cases of rootbeer on the back of his bike.  Switch got the books on hers and with her cart, and the rest of everyone moved the stuff to the town square or to the mother's houses for their use, as Stoker had ordered.
Throttle pulled Xander closer for a kiss.  "Thank you for lookin' out for my momma," he said gently.  "She'll be trading stuff for years."
"As I had hoped," he agreed with a grin.  "It's not right that nice ladies like that have to do little more than survive."  He gave Modo a hug.  "I'm thinkin' she'll be sharing."
"I know she will," he agreed, giving him a hug.  "Thanks, Xander.  Especially for those books."
"I saw the library being built earlier and someone's got to teach the next generation so Spike ends up being more than a thug."  That got a grin and even the Seal laughed. "You don't think so?"
"No, I know he'll be more.  His father will make sure of it," she assured him with a wink.  "You did good, Xander.  Very good.  You'll be rewarded for that."  She disappeared.
Xander shrugged.  "Not why I do things," he admitted, getting on the back of Throttle's bike.  "To the mom's.  There's a dinner waiting on us."
Throttle laughed and nodded, taking off down the hill.  Stoker would be coming back for the transporter later probably.  It was a happy group of mice who headed back to the house, Throttle in the lead since it was his mother's.  They got there and he found his mother in the cellar, hiding stuff carefully away.  "Momma, did you share?"
"Of course.  Modo's momma will be back soon, dear.  There's dinner still out back," she called. She came up and locked the cellar, then went to hug Xander as hard as she could.  "Thank you, son," she whispered.
"You'll use it to do more than survive and make sure others do," he said quietly, grinning at her.  "That's all I wanted."  He kissed her on the forehead and let her go.  "There, now go eat."
"Cheese, boy, we already did waiting on you kids," she chided, swatting him.  "You go eat.  You need to eat.  You're much too skinny."  He grinned and went to eat, settling in with Vic to help him too.  She walked over and took the baby from him.  "I said you eat, not help him eat.  You need to eat, Xander.  I made other stuff too.  Eat the eggs, they're good."  She walked the baby off, going to put him down inside.  She came back and nudged her son, who went over to feed Xander by hand since he was only drinking a soda.  "That boy will never survive on Mars if he don't learn to eat when it's hot," she muttered, going to help the others and check on the cellar again.
Stoker showed up the next morning, nodding politely at everyone.  "Well, I'm not sure about that slaw stuff, but the barbeque was good."
"Charley's cousin likes his with pickles," Xander offered.
"I liked it best with fried cave mushrooms," Stoker said with a shrug.  "Think he'd tell us how to make that?"
"Yeah, but you've got to have pigs," Throttle offered.  "Chef Andy made that for us."
"Did you get the transporter moved?" Modo asked quietly, he was holding his great-nieces.
"We're doing that today and putting it in the Council chamber.  I came to bargain with Throttle's momma actually."
"She's still sleeping," Throttle told him.  "Modo's momma got some too."
"Yeah, but your mother got the wine and the Council wants to inaugurate this new techie toy and the laptop we'll be getting from Micah.  How did you set yours up, Xander?"
"Okay, how did she set it up?"  Everyone shrugged.  "So, basically ask Meg?"  Everyone nodded.  "Did she do the communications stuff too?"  Everyone nodded again, grinning at him.  "Has she at least been wearing real clothes recently?"
"Nope," Xander told him.  "She's been doing one on nymphs.  She's been mostly naked."
"I bet Oz had been having a lot of fun," Vinnie said with a chuckle.
"Quite a lot," Xander said wisely.  He looked at Stoker.  "The guy who tried to slide into me said there was other stuff out there."
"We're searching for it now," he admitted.  "One of the dead spoke to you?"
"They like to put him on like shirts," Vinnie told him.  "Mekonis books, Throttle?"
"Oh, yeah, the me from somewhere else said to try those to stop that."
"Which means I'll probably have another headache soon," Xander quipped.
Stoker looked at him.  "Since you can't sit, that might be a good thing, kid," he quipped back.  "Was it good?"
"Even better than when he claimed me," he said smugly, smirking at him and everything.
"All it took was another attempt to steal the Xander," Vinnie offered with a grin of his own.  "And a bit of destruction."
"You mean that club was you guys?"  Everyone pointed at Xander.  "Him?"
"Only three of them," Xander said, starting to pout.  "They were trying to steal me."
Stoker gave Throttle a look.  "I'll find you those books tonight if I can."  He headed up the stairs to knock on his mother's door.  "Momma?"
"What, Stoker? It's still really early."  She opened the door. "No one's even up and eaten yet."
"Everyone's up and they all look less than hungry," he said with a grin.  "But the council would like for me to come woo you for some of that wine so we can celebrate finding this stuff."
"What do I get in return?"
"Two years without taxes?" he offered.  She gave him a long stare and he sighed.  "Free run at the transporter when it's not in official use?  For you and Modo's family both?  All we want is two bottles.  Enough for us."
She walked down the stairs.  "Two years without taxes and free run at the transporter," she told her son.
"It was fairly cheap wine," Xander told her.  "Not the greatest of the great, but pretty decent."
"Five years?" she offered in return as Stoker came down.
"Can't do that.  They only authorized two years and the free run at the transporter.  Which means I'll have to run back and forth all day."  He gave her a pleading look. "I know your taxes are only ten percent of what you can grow here, but please?  Otherwise I'll have Carbine nibbling my tail all week."
"Fine," she sighed, going to get those for him.  She came back up after locking the cellar again and handed them over.  "There you go, Stoker."
"Thank you, Throttle's momma."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "You should have had some of the barbeque, it was really good."  He left, taking the precious bottles back to the chamber.  Carbine would owe him for years for this. He could set her up on many dates with many mice he knew she could straighten out again.
Momma shook her head and looked around.  "Did you all eat?"
"You needed to sleep in, Momma.  We're a lot of work," Throttle told her, giving her a little grin.  "Besides, I'm only taking Xander sightseeing today."
"You'll still need a lunch," she chastised.
"Momma, we can bargain a few sodas for one," Xander reminded her.  "That way you don't have to cook.  Rest, please.  Or go shopping and buy something pretty that you've been missing for a while."
"I suppose I could," she admitted.  "Then check on Anya and Spike since they're starting a new daycare today."  She frowned.  "But that leaves you all alone, boys."
"Momma, we've got friends we can go bug too," Vinnie promised her.  "I have a whole bunch of cousins I have to show off Vic and Charley girl to."  He grinned at her and she grinned back.  "There's rumors already spreading and they need to know the reality is much prettier."
"Fine, then you be back here for dinner.  I'll have something nice on, kids."  They nodded and got up, heading out to their bikes, Modo heading for his mother's first, while Vinnie took Charley and the baby off to the East.  Throttle and Xander headed deeper into the desert and she shook her head.  "Those boys," she sighed.  "Thoughtful, but clueless.  What do I do any other day?"
Xander stared out over the edge of the ridge they were sitting on, looking awed by the sight of the crater field in front of them.  "Wow," he whispered.  "This is incredible," he said, turning to look at his mate.  "How old is this?  Is this the big one Rimfire was telling Dawn about?"  He looked out there again, just staring in awe at the ancient site before him.
"This is one of the smaller fields," Throttle said quietly, shifting to stroke down his back. "The bigger one that he was telling her about is about two days travel away.  We won't be able to go there this trip."  He got a grin for that. "This one's name translates basically into 'lots of little holes in the way of my travels'," he added, grinning back when Xander burst out giggling.  "One of the older religious orders named it a long time ago.  They used to use these to map their way around the globe."  He looked out at the changing shadows, seeing what Rimfire did, that there were patterns to the shadows, but he still thought it had to be random.  "This isn't exactly a holy spot, but a lot of people think that there's hidden messages in these.  That the shadows move and spell out words and things."
Xander turned around to look at him.  "Are there?"
"Personally, I'm not a big fan of it being a designed pattern.  I like to think that they're random and beautiful for that reason. It makes it more special to me that way."  He brushed a stray hair off his mate's chin.  "You're shedding again."
"It's all this heat.  Fur's neat in the winter but in the summer it's killing me."
"There's ways around that," he promised, stealing a kiss.  "Want to have lunch here or move on to the next spot?  There's a pretty ridge up ahead that lets you see Olympus Mons and the temple that's still up there.  The Plutarkians tried to steal it but didn't get more than bits and pieces.  Every time they did, more seemed to be uncovered.  Some people think that the temple goes all the way through the mountain."
Xander looked out there, memorizing the sight, then nodded and stood up.  "Let's see the next one.  Rimfire said something about the sunset from up there."
"Soon, Xander.  That'll be a trip by itself.  We'd have to travel most of the day to get there, spend overnight camping there, then come back."
"Can we?"
"Not tonight.  I promised Momma I'd be back tonight."
"Sure.  Soon?"
"This weekend good for you?"  Xander beamed and nodded, giving him another hug so they could get back on the bike.  "The next place overlooks two of the former sacred temples and you get a pretty view of that temple."
"Did all the priests in those die out?"
"No, but if there's any left they abandoned these in favor of some of the newer ones.  I don't know why but people have started to walk around inside to take a long look and see what they were protecting all these years."  He started his bike and rolled them off slowly, careful of any crumbling rocks around them.  They didn't need to wreck way out here by themselves.  He heard someone staticky call their name and groaned. "What?" he called back.  It had sounded like Stoker.  "Why?  He nodded, groaning again.  "Understood."  He hung up and looked back.
"We can't go?"
"I've got to go back and look at some readings to see if we can identify what sort of ship just passed Pluto's sensors.  It's a bit too far away for a definite match and they wanted my opinion.  We can visit all of that this weekend if you want."  Xander nodded, giving him a squeeze.  "Okay, I'll drop you at Switch's since they're near the base and that's where he'll be, then pick you up later."  He got them down the cliff and back onto the desert sand, speeding up some to head toward the nearest base. If this was some hoax or something he'd have to flame Stoker's tail for this.
 Xander tapped on Switch's door, seeing the note saying they were at the daycare, and shrugged, heading that way since it had directions.  He hadn't seen a daycare before and it sounded pretty neat, plus he'd get to watch the kids playing he guessed.  He found it nearby and tapped on the door, grinning at the older female mouse answering.  "Switch's note said she was up here and Throttle said I had to come bug her while he looked at some sensor images."
"Come in, dear."  She let him inside, smiling as he walked in and looked around.  "Switch is in with Anya's group.  Let me get her."  She walked into a room and Switch stuck her head out.
"Xander, go play with Spike, please?  He's lonely and none of the kids will play with him."
"Sure."  He beamed and listened for the growls, following them to where Spike was sitting in a corner.  "You're not being nice and sociable?" he asked as he sat down next to him.  "I find that surprising.  You used to love to cuddle up and annoy people."  Spike gave him a look, but it looked pitiful instead of heated.  "Won't anyone play with you, little mouse?" he asked, stroking down his nose.  Spike shook his head, going back to banging his blocks together.  "Hmm."  He looked around, finding another kid that wasn't quite being shunned but was playing alone.  He nudged Spike and pointed at that kid.  "Let's go pounce him and play with him.  He looks kinda lonely and like an outsider," he whispered in the soft ear.  "An easy target for such a powerful vampire mouse."  Spike beamed and got up, stalking over there as best he could as a toddler, and pounced the other mouse, making him shriek.  Xander waved off the room worker, going over to 'save' him by tickling Spike.  The other mouse stared at him, then tickled Spike too.  Spike finally got them both back and sat there staring at the new mouse.  "He wanted to know what your name is, little mouse cadet."
"Piston," he said, staring at him.  "Who're you?"
"I'm a Xander mouse.  I watch Spike sometimes."
"That's neat," he said, sounding interested.  "You were on the 'net?"  Xander nodded.  "That one mouse brought you back.  Did he rescue you?"
"Only from boredom and too much heat.  I was watching his son and his girl."
"Oh."  He blinked at him, then at Spike.  "I know you, you're Mr. Stoker's son."  Spike beamed and hugged him.  "Hey!"  He pushed him back.  "I'm not that kinda boy."
Xander chuckled.  "You'd be surprised, little mouse.  Hugging is just fine among boys.  It makes them know what to do when they're older and they find someone special and makes them bros."
"Oh."  He nodded.  "Okay, I'd like that.  Can Spike play with me?"
"Ask him," he offered, waving at Spike.  "Spike, would you like to play with Piston?"  Spike nodded, handing over one of his blocks.
"Wow, you have blocks!  Where!"  Spike pointed at his corner.  "Let's go!"  He got up and ran over there, Spike following in his usual toddler saunter, and Xander crawled after them, stopping to tickle one pouting little mouse.  "Don't play with him, Mr. Xander, he's got an upset tummy.  He puked on someone earlier and someone laughed."  He looked at Spike.  "You?"  He beamed and nodded.  "Cool!  Wish I had."  He nudged Spike and they sat down to build and destroy whole empires between them.
Xander looked at the upset tummy mouse.  "Need a hug?"  He shook his head, still pouting.  "What's your name, mouse cadet?"
"I know a big mouse with that name."
"He's my unca."
"That's kinda cool.  He delivered some mail to us on Earth."  He patted that one on the back.  "Did you eat too much earlier?"  He grinned and nodded.  "I do that too sometimes.  Especially when it's so hot."  He nodded.  "Want to come play with Piston and Spike?"
"No fank you.  I play Ramjet," he said, pointing at her.  "She my sissy."
"That's fine.  If you want to, just come over and start playing."  He patted him on the ear and went back to playing with the boys.  He grinned and winked at the room monitor, who giggled and waved him off, letting them play.  "What're we doin', guys?  Building castles and storming them with big, huge fire breathing dragons?"
"Not exist," Spike said firmly.
Xander tweaked his ear.  "How do you know?"  He smirked at him.  "There's whole bunches of things you don't know about, like alternate realities.  There could be dragons there."
"They not exist either," Piston told him.
"Yes, they do," Spike and Xander said in unison, grinning at him.
"He knows," Spike agreed, nodding at Xander.  "He naughty, play transporter."
"I did and I called an alternate Throttle for a few minutes and gave him some artillery as a transporter welcoming present.  That's just the kinda mouse I am," he said happily.  The room monitor gave him a funny look.  "There are."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, one of my ex's created one," he admitted dryly.  "Some of the stuff I got into on Earth would make adults howl with laughter at times."  He patted Spike on the back of the head.  "He likes to hear the cleaned up versions."
"Do his parents know?"
"Oh, yeah," he admitted, grinning at her again.  "They know all about it.  So does my mate."  She giggled at that.  "He's off doing something with sensors and a ship and Pluto.  I'm wondering if it's the dog or the planet."
"Dog?" Piston asked.
"Disney's a company on earth and they have this line of characters that act in their cartoons," Xander explained.  "Well, one of their bigger ones is a dog named Pluto.  They have one talking dog, Goofy, but Pluto's a normal dog.  He sniffs and he tracks, and he's a bit smarter than his owner now and then."
"I've heard of this Disney.  Doesn't their main character only have three fingers?"
"Yeah, and he only ever wears shorts," Xander offered with a smirk.  "Vinnie calls him a subversive influence on clothing trends."
"In other words he calls them a solicitor of nudity?" she teased back.  He nodded.  "You know Vinnie VanWham?"
"I'm a Xander mouse."
"Oh!  You're the one he brought up, who was watching his son," she said.  Xander nodded.  "That's so cool.  What's the little tyke's name?  Our Aunt Kismet wanted to know."
"Victor, but we call him Vic."  Spike poked him.  "Sorry, Spike.  Spike likes to use Vic as a pillow."  She laughed at that.  "I met Chassis, Bullet, and Starlight last night."
"Starlight's my brother."  She winked.  "We'll talk later."
"Sure."  He went back to helping the boys, putting a roof on their building, which Spike smashed with a wicked chuckle, one that even made Ramjet and Thruster look at him in awe.  "He's our little vampire mouse.  He was named after a vampire I knew."
Ramjet got up and walked over there, pushing Spike to the ground to stare down at him. "I'm Ramjet," she said, pursing her lips.  "You look cool.  You can play with me if you want."
"Someone needs tickled," Xander said, grabbing her to tickle her.  Such egos weren't good on kids that young.  She got free and swatted him, giving him a pissed look, but she was smirking.  "What?" he asked with a grin. "Spike could've."
"I'm sure, but he's a little mouse, like me.  Therefore he can play.  You're too big to play with me."  She looked around. "Thruster?"
"Puking again in the corner," Xander said, pointing at him.  "What did he eat?"
"Six of those sandwiches from last night."  She grimaced.  "Not my thing, I like hotdogs better."  She looked at Piston.  "Do I know you?"
"My daddy works on the base in the telem...telem...the sonar and stuff."
"Telemetry?" Xander asked.  Piston grinned and nodded.  "That's a cool job.  That's where my mate is right now," he sighed.  "We were sightseeing."  Ramjet grinned at him.  "It's my first time up here."
"You were born on a prison world?"
"No, I was born on Earth.  It's not quite a prison world, yet.  Though some countries do try."  She blinked at that.  "Sorry, socio-political talk is a bit above your age range, little lady.  Did you want to help Piston and Spike build and destroy stuff?"
"No thank you.  I'm a princess today and Thruster is my faithful, yet ill, knight."  She flounced back to her spot, going to play with the wooden horse she had picked out earlier.
"They certainly are," Xander agreed quietly, making Spike and the room attendant chuckle at that.  He looked up, hearing an alarm going off, and looked at the scared looking room attendant.  "Info, what is that?"
"Plutarkians," Piston said, very pale.  "We have to evacuate to the base, to the shelter."
"Okay," Xander said, standing up.  "All you kids grab what you came with, jackets, shoes, whatever, and line up by the door.  Do it now," he ordered calmly.  A few were crying so he got them moving, including the room attendant.  "Okay, take hands.  Let's go," he told the room attendant slowly and clearly.  "You lead, I don't know where it is."  She nodded, checking the halls first before leading them to the main doorway.  The other groups were doing the same thing.  Xander got the rest of the kids moving, making them hold hands, even Spike, who didn't want to.  He watched as more of the kids traveled out, finding some stragglers and no adults around.  "Switch!  Watch the kids!" he yelled, heading back for them and to do a turn through the daycare to make sure all the kids were out.  Having big ears means he could find the crying kids in the closet and things like that.
He got the last group moving out when he found them paralyzed in their room, letting them take the crying, hiding kids.  Then he followed them.  He saw a few wandering off and the room attendant for his group trying to call to them.  "Go ahead," he yelled, waving her off.  He jogged after them, taking the kids with him.  He handed off those and went back to make sure there weren't any others.  He saw a few older folk and let them go, then scanned around.  Two kids were still staring out at the sky.  "Shit, Spike," he muttered, heading after him and Piston, who were still holding hands, but being fairly dumb at the moment.  "Following orders is a good thing," he complained as he grabbed them, following the last few people toward the base.  He heard the explosion and ran for cover instead, ducking inside just as a bomb went off.  "Fuck!"
"Bad word," Piston said quietly.
"Yeah, well, sometimes it fits," Xander said calmly.  He looked outside, no ground troops.  He looked at Piston.  "Where's the base?"
"Two clicks, that way," he said, pointing.
"Sure.  You direct, I'll walk."  He looked at Spike.  "You watch behind us, little man.  Don't be scared by anything.  It's just props from a movie, this is all just a movie," he soothed.  Both kids clung to him and Xander checked again, finding a mouse out there.  "Hey."  He walked out, handing off Piston.  "From the daycare, they were straggling."
"Who're you?"
"Xander, Throttle's mate."
"Oh!  The base is this way," he said, leading him there.  "He thought you'd be with them."
"I was but I went back to make sure they all got out."  He walked inside, taking Piston back.  "Need help?"
"Go report to Stoker to hand him back his kid, he'll tell you where to go and give you a gun."
"Thanks."  He walked in, going past the standing people.  "Guys, wasn't there supposed to be a shelter you're supposed to be using?" he called.  Most of them started to move again.  "Now, people.  Kree!"  He shooed those in front of him, finding the command center.  He handed off Piston to the woman crying in the corner and Switch took Spike too.  "At least they were holding hands.  They were just staring up at the sky."  He looked at Stoker.  "Gun, coordinates?  Who'm I ridin' with?" he asked, popping in a piece of gum.
Stoker looked at him.  "This is a space assault."
"Okay, I know zero-G in theory.  There's still people out there too.  Where, gun, person?"
"Person, go on Switch's bike.  I want you to head out this way," he ordered, tracing a path.  "That's back toward the desert, there's a few farms out that way.  Mostly families.  I want them found, herded in here.  Council's orders, everyone's to shelter in the city if possible."
"Then you need to shoo people down.  Gun?"  He popped a bubble and took one when it was tossed to him.  "Spare batteries?"
"Not available," Stoker told him.  "Solar recharger if necessary."  He pointed at it.  "Used one?"
"Smaller models, still fires and aims the same."  He put it over his back.  "Her bike?"
"Out in the yard.  She was on the course."  He tossed over the keys.  "Tell her I said so if she balks."
"I helped rebuild her, Stoker, I doubt she'll balk.  Copy of the map?"
"Yeah, here," he said, rolling one up and handing it over.  "That's all I can spare."
"Decent enough.  I've got gum."  He headed out at a trot, finding the yard by following some people who were headed there.  He looked around, finding her bike pressing on some chains.  He walked over, shooting the chains from around her.  "We're heading.  She's being a momma."  He climbed on and the bike shivered.  "Now, dear.  You know me.  I helped rebuild you.  Stoker said so."  The bike beeped and took off.  "Desert," he said, steering her out the gate being held open for him.  He checked his map, then headed off for the farthest farm marked.  If Stoker wanted them all in, he'd herd them like cattle if he had to.
Throttle came back from his circuit, looking around.  "Switch, Xander?" he called when he spotted her.
"On my bike, out at the farms, herding people in."  She handed him some coffee.  "He'll be fine.  My bike's experienced."
"Yeah and so's Xander, but not here."  He gulped the coffee.  "Any word?"
"Satellite's down," she admitted.  "We're working on the radio signals.  There's a storm coming."
"There's also a ship coming by the radar.  Plutarkians are heading this way, one's split off and is on an interception course.  A battle cruiser, the sort that can land."
"Fuck!" she said, just loudly enough to be heard by her mate, who was trying to nap.  "Stoker!"  He finished waking up and looked at him.  "He's back."
"Good.  What's going on?"
"Stench cruiser, landing capabilities.  One split off from the group, headed on an interception course."  He handed over the letter he had stopped to get.  "You let Xander go alone?"
"Yeah, he offered.  We needed the help," he said firmly.  "He'll be fine.  He's mostly mouse."
"I know that," he said, hitting him on the arm. "He's still got balance problems too.  We've only got three hours.  How far out did you send him so we can go rendevous and help?"
"The farms," Switch said, pointing them out.  "Which way would he go, soonest or furthest?"
"Furthest, that way they can rest on the way back.  He and I think alike on these things."  He grabbed a map.  "Heading there."
"We need you here."
"We need those people here first, Stoker.  We can't hold the base with what we've got."  He kept going, grabbing Modo and Charley on the way.  "Xander got sent to the farms.  Furthest out is about two hours travel.  He should have hit that one, been on his way back, at least to the third one back by now.  That's with a lot of panicking people."  They nodded.  "Here, study, go find.  We've got three hours to get them and him back here or we're the front line."  They looked at it, Vinnie pointing at his and taking off.  Modo pointed at the one on the right and he took off for it.  Throttle looked at Charley.  "Stay here, patch up bikes.  We'll need 'em," he said, giving her a hug before walking out to his bike.  He'd go straight up the middle.  Xander would go for them first and swing out for those side farms.  Or he'd send someone competent for them.  More people up the middle of the old valley.   He rode out at top speed, not caring if it was safe or not at the moment.  He considered it.  Xander had to have his helmet.  He had been wearing it. Theirs had a shortwave function in it.  It didn't need the satellite everyone else bounced off of.  "Xander?" he called.
"Where are you?"
"Next to last farm.  I've got sixteen scared people, ten bikes, and two left to get.  I got the side ones."
"On my way," Vinnie called.
"Me too," Modo agreed.
"Me too," Throttle agreed.  "Hustle, people."  They sped out there, that was still over a half-hour away.  The three bros joined up, speeding to meet up with them.  They ran into Xander at the next-to-last farm and helped him get the people out of the wreckage.  "Xander, about two hours and then we're in deep and the front line," he said quietly, staring at him.  "We need to go now."
Xander nodded, getting the last person out and getting her on the back of his bike.  "One more farm," he said.  "Then they can ride in with an escort from the base."  He headed off, going after that last family.  He had cased the farm on the way past, he knew there were people there.  He found them in the windows with rifles.  "Let's go!" he yelled.  "We've got an hour to get you back to the base before bad things happen like a flashback."
An older man stepped out.  "We're staying here, young one."
"Council's orders, everyone goes to the base to be protected."
Throttle took off his helmet.  "Citizen, there's a cruiser coming in an interception course.  You're going.  Now let's go."  The old man gaped.  "Now.  We don't have time."
"We've got an hour and a half," Vinnie offered.  "We can get them back there."
"We don't bike," the man told him.  "We gave that up."
"Never mind, I stand corrected," Vinnie said dryly.  "That's fine, you can ride on the back of ours, citizen. Let's go."
"You don't use technology at all?" Xander asked, noticing how ancient his weapon was.  "Okay.  Chain!"  She came running up from the back.  "This bike gets back to Switch, Stoker's wife, or I'm having your antennas for dinner."  She nodded, saluting him.  "Go now, lead the rest off.  We'll cover these folk while they run. There's cover on the way, tell Stoker we're heading through the pass instead of straight up the valley."  She nodded, heading off, leading the others off.  He looked at the old man.  "Let's go.  Now."  He nodded, getting the rest of the family out.  "Guys, either cover or run escort," he yelled at Modo.  "We can make it to the caves at the very least.  We can sneak back from there."
"The base'll be closed by then."
"No it won't.  People will have to come out.  We can prove we're mice and mostly mice."  One of them looked at him.  "What?  Gonna hold that against me? You can die here."  The man shook his head and took off after the others.  "I'm heading with them.  Trade me guns, give me another blaster, I'm dry."  He and Throttle changed guns and he got his blaster too, then a quick kiss before taking off after them.  "Ride escort, they need you more there."
"Fine," he agreed, riding after Vinnie.  "He'll be fine."
"He won't be fine."
"He'll be fine.  He lived through that last battle in Sunnydale, Willow's up here, he'll be fine."
"Vincent, he'll be fine," Throttle ground out.
Vinnie looked at him and nodded. "He'll be fine," he reassured him.  He knew he needed that.  They caught up to the end of the line just about as they came to the base and headed inside, Vinnie and Throttle staying at the gate to watch for the stragglers.  There were probably more.
"Where's Xander!" Stoker yelled.
"With some Amish mice," Throttle yelled back.  "They don't believe in technology.  He took 'em by the caves."
"That's where it's landing!"
Throttle looked at him.  "He'll be fine."
"He may be, but what about the citizens?"
"They'll be more fine than he will be," Vinnie said firmly.  "Remember, he's like that."
"That's still a dangerous plan."
"It's not like we liked it either, Stoker, but they refused to get on the bikes!" Vinnie shouted back.  "Now make some damn plans!"
"Vinnie, calm down," Throttle said calmly.  "He's my mate.  I'm going to get hysterical, your job is to calm me down. Remember that, bro."
"I do," he said patiently.  "It still bites."
"Yay, welcome to my world," Throttle said bitterly.  He looked up, saying a silent prayer for his mate to be okay. If that cruiser was landing here, they'd be in trouble.  He looked back at Stoker.  "Front lines?"
"Dig in and hold on."
"Bullshit," Throttle told him.  Vinnie stepped away from him, whistling gently and pulling Modo away.  "We have too many people here to risk laying low and digging in.  This base can and will collapse under heavy fire.  We can take out most of them and at least hold them to their ship if we do a front line."
"We can't do a front line.  We've only got two units of fighters, Throttle."
Throttle considered it, then looked around.  "How many of you are Freedom Fighters?" he called, recognizing some of them.  Most everyone held up their hands.  "How many of you have bikes?"  Most of those hands stayed up.  "We have a cruiser, coming in to land, within an hour.  It'll be by the cliffs, we think.  If not, in the middle of that valley is pretty tasty as a landing spot.  We'll need base defense."
"We can do that," one older mouse said.  "I'm old but I'm good for home defense, son.  You are?"
"Fine."  He nodded, looking at Stoker.  "I like that plan better, Stoker."
"So do I, but we don't have enough mice.  We could all die and there's kids here."
"Then take them out the old tunnels down to the river," Vinnie said.  "This area's littered with caves and stuff down there. I used to play there myself.  Get some of the local kids who've been here to do that."  He looked at the teenager Xander had picked to take his bike.  "You know where they are?"
"Yes, sir," she snapped, saluting him.
"Don't do that, kid," he whined.  "Gather up the elderly who can't fight, the mothers, the kids.  Take 'em down there, find a place, dig in.  Stay dug in until someone you personally trust comes down."  She nodded, running to do that.  "Take Switch with you!" he yelled after her.
"Take Charley with her," Modo said quietly.  "Primer too."  He sighed.  He knew they weren't going to go.  Them, Staff, or his mother. "Do we have more guns?  We need to reload and refuel."
"Go refuel.  I'm not sure about guns."
"I traded mine for Xander's," Throttle admitted, tossing over the empty one.  "I'm guessing here but I think he ran into some creepers by the marks on his jeans."
"Fine."  He nodded them back to the staging area.  "Let's go make a front line, guys."  The listening people cheered and they went to make the plans.  They made a staging area a few miles away for the front line.  No matter which area they landed in, they could hit the cruiser within minutes.  Even if it hit the town instead.  Those who were staying were given guns and supplies.  The rest of them rode out to dig in and hold that area.
Xander got them to the first caves when he heard the whine of engines overhead.  He looked up, noticing the ship was purple, it was shaped like a hornet about to sting, and it was ugly and had guns.  "Okay, I'm guessing that's a cruiser."  He looked at them.  "Ten minute break.  We can watch them land and sneak to the next cave.  It looks bigger."  The old men stared at him.  "You wanna die holding this open spot?"  They shook their heads.  "With any luck, we'll make it back to the base by slipping around the lines I can see in the distance.  If the Plutarkians move that way, we can go cave-to-cave most of the way back, then there's a tenth of a mile of open ground to the town, where we can go building-to- building.  Before anyone asks, yes, my experience is in small group combat."  The mothers with kids held them a bit tighter.  "Sorry, people, but if you would have ridden, you'd be safe by now.  Your morals are great and I understand, but now's not really the time to argue sneaking."  He looked out, watching as troops unloaded.  "Shit, they're not even paying attention to the line.  They're looking this way.  Stay here."  He slipped into the next cave, looking around, and saw why.  Supplies.  Charming.  He whistled.  "Slowly, one by one," he ordered.  He came to the mouth of the cave to cover them in case anyone saw them.  "Grab whatever you can.  The less they can grab the better off the mice'll be."
"That's stealing," one woman said.
Xander looked back at her.  "Woman, stealing is when you take something that doesn't belong to you.  That's already stolen property.  They took that from you and other peoples by ruining their worlds.  They're here to steal it again since they only hid it last time.  You're taking it back.  If they get it back, they'll use it on you and the kids.  Got it?  Another bad time for morals."  He turned and found a guard there and shot him, then kicked his body off the cliff.  "So we make a stand here."
"That's killing," one of the kids said.
"No, honey, that's called survival.  If your parents don't want to do that, they can pass their guns this way and you can turn around."  She nodded, and the men did that, taking their families to the back of the caves.  Xander set himself up, pulling some of the artillery cases closer.  At least he had batteries now, hopefully some were charged.  Some cases said charged.  It also gave him some cover and something to lean on.  He took a deep breath.  "I hate war," he muttered, taking another shot, getting the person in the shiniest armor.  A military leads on its head, not on its feet.  "Shoot the generals, you get a power struggle.  Shoot the soldiers and you get a struggle," he quoted, going for the next person with shiny stuff on.  "I'm hoping these are generals."  He heard a staticky voice over his radio and took off his helmet, it was only distracting him.  "Someone come tell me if I get orders," he called, tossing the helmet back toward the families.  "That way I know if something's going wrong."
"Sure," one of the men said, coming to take the helmet and listen to it.  "Its mostly static.  Something about purple, babes, and big fins?"
"Okay, I was shooting at the wrong people.  That was my mate," Xander said, shooting at the people in purple with the big fins.
"You're gay?"
"Yeah, got a problem with that too?"
"No," he said, backing off.  Not a full mouse and gay.  What was his world coming to?  "We're gonna go back here and pray."
"Sure, send one up for me that some of these are charged."
"Fine, son, we'll pray for you," he agreed.  He went back to tell the others.  They looked at him oddly but he wasn't hurting them and he was defending them, even if he didn't understand and he did occasionally talk down to them.  That was probably because he didn't understand.  They sat down to pray, praying for him to find the peace they knew as well.
Throttle smirked and looked at Stoker.  "Well, he can kinda hear me," he offered.
"Yeah, that was a general at least," Vinnie agreed.  "What's up there?"
"Old supplies," Stoker said, looking at his map.  "We ready?" he called.  Everyone nodded down the lines.  "Then let's go, folk.  Rock..."
"AND RIDE," the rest of them chorused, heading down the cliffs, mostly in controlled jumps, some just straight down if they thought they could do it.   They caught the front line of foot soldiers and started blasting away at them, noticing the ship had shields.
"We've got shielding!" Vinnie yelled.
"Aim for the guns!" Throttle yelled back.  "Or for the bottom nose!"  The mice around him changed targets and the others did when they saw what was going on.  A few continued to fire on the shields.  "Greenies, wonderful," he muttered.  He saw Xander take out another top person and mentally cheered, but marked him as a protection spot.  He couldn't worry about Xander at the moment.  He needed to drive this fishheads back into their ship so they could take off or die.  Dying would be fine too, then they could cannibalize the ship once they cleaned it.  They'd be needing a new satellite anyway.  He saw a few bikers head that way and swerved to intercept.  "No, that's friendly fire," he yelled.  "Trapped citizens who don't ride."  They nodded and moved to flank the ship on that side, helping them.  Throttle stayed with them.  Just in case someone else got a bad idea.
Xander mentally cheered as the line moved, taking out another one.
"Mister?" one of the children said.  "Is it proper to break open the case that says food?"
"Yeah, kid, they stole it from you.  It's yours by right of existence and finding it. Finder's keepers and all that."
"Thank you, Mister."  He went back to tell his mother what he had said and listened to her explain why he was wrong.  "But he said it was stolen from us.  Isn't that recovering instead of stealing?" he asked her. "I'm really hungry, momma."
"Let the kid eat," Xander sighed.  "They stole it from the military in the first place.  It's not theirs."
"Then it's the military's and only they can tell us we can have it," the mother said firmly.
Xander glanced back.  "Lady, I am the military as of this moment.  I'm one of the people fighting out here to protect you.  That makes me military and a freedom fighter.  Now, crack open that case and let the kids eat.  I know how slim food is around here.  Don't make me do it myself."  He looked back and found a guard, but a biker guard.  "Hey.  Stoker send you?"
"No, Marshall did," he sneered.  He pulled up his blaster.
Xander shot him but in a non-fatal spot, grabbing his helmet back.  "We've got people under mind control.  I just got one," he reported.  "I'm doing those non-fatally if possible."  He hung up his helmet and went back to it.  This was bad.  So very bad. He said a silent prayer for there only being a finite number of these greasy, smelly land sharks, he didn't think he could take another series of fights like he had with the Bringers.  His present gun ran out of charge and he popped open the case that said 'charged' on it, hoping to find one that still had one.  He popped in the first battery and it read empty.  He groaned and checked it, then looked at the others, tossing the empty ones at people.  At least they made good throwing rocks.  He kept any that had any charge, using an empty one to hit the mouse trying to sit up again.  Then he went out and hit him across the jaw, taking better aim outside.  He was still good enough with this, especially when he was using his Martian eye.  "Neat, I've got better depth perception but it's throwing my aim off."  He closed that one and used his natural one, getting more of the soldiers until he ran out of charge again.  Then he went back and grabbed another half-charged one, using it until it ran dry.
"We could use the cavalry.  Come on, cavalry," he muttered.  He saw the mice turn the Plutarkians away from his position.  "Okay, let's go," he ordered.  "We're moving caves.  Gather up what you can and let's go now!"  He grabbed the remaining partially charged ones and the case of food, carrying it after everyone.  He counted noses and went back for the few people who were sleeping.  "Now, it's time to move, now!"  They got up and ran for the next cave.  That was downhill and he paused them there.  There were a few Plutarkians in his way.
"Why do you shoot them?" one girl asked.
"Because if I don't, they'll kill us," he told her simply.  "That's survival, honey.  It's unfortunate, but true."  Her mother covered her eyes and he looked at her.  "It is."  She nodded, her lips pressed together as he went back out to take out that arm of the army.  He went down to push them aside.  "Okay, clear," he called, scanning the next cave.  "Whoa!"  He shot the few in there, dragging them away from the cases in there.  He got to the next cave and waved them down to it instead.  It was more shallow and there couldn't be anybody in it.  "This'll upset you," he offered, shooting one coming up the path.  He glanced back and they were all turned around so they didn't have to see.  He mentally sighed and went back to it, taking out that battery and throwing it at someone coming up the path, switching it out.  He patted the bag on his hip.  "Two left.  Charming."  He shot those two when they got close enough, turning down the setting on his gun.  At least that would keep them from coming back.  He looked around for his next target.  It was across open ground.  He saw a few mice nearby and turned, grabbing one of the men to point at it.  "I need you guys to head there.  From there, move around the corner," he said, pointing at it.  "On the other side there's another set of caves.  I'll join you there."  He nodded.  "Let me go set up a distraction then you go."  He nodded, watching as Xander ran off, taking out a few more Plutarkians.
"How many more are there?" he demanded.  He caught Vinnie's eye and pointed at the cave.  "Open ground, cover!" he yelled.  He got a nod and a new gun, which was very nice.  He whistled and waved at the people, watching as they ran, with the food thankfully.  They made it to that cave and he backed up, taking out more of the line.  "Go!" he shouted.  They ran to the other cave and someone screamed so he headed that way.  "Hey, a Rat!"  He shot that one too.   The screaming stopped and he got them into that cave.  He took out the map he was carrying, looking it over.  "So far, the Plutarkians have been contained to here.  I don't know about the rats."  They all looked scared now and he glanced behind him.  "Are those Sand Raiders?"  They all nodded.  "Wonderful.  It just gets better and better," he said grimly.  He looked up.  "Yo, a bit of cooperation here?  I'm being a good guy."  He heard a voice from the back of the cave and grinned.  "Chain?"
"Yeah, come get these people."
"Coming."  She came up the back of the tunnel.  "We're underground."
"Good, we've just grown by some sand raiders.  Take 'em and go.  Share the food with them.  They're technologically not going to help.  They're pacifists who don't use it and think it's stealing to take it."  She nodded, herding the scared people in front of her.  One of the kids came back to hug him but then ran after her parents.  Xander looked out and started firing on the sand raiders, moving to another cave so they couldn't figure out there were people in that one.  If he knew how to use their dune buggies and carts, he would, but he didn't.  At least it was keeping them out of the lines.  He got most of their vehicles not working and started on the wandering beings, not caring what they were at the moment.  He was using non-fatal shots since his gun was running out of power again.  He tossed it when it went 'phhfft' on the last one and pulled the blaster he had gotten off Throttle.  A handgun was a last ditch weapon in his book.  Little range, low charge, lots of room for error.  He heard a shriek and glanced out, shooting the two plutarkians trying to go into the next cave, going in there to defend it from any others.  He found a few more with some wounded and decided he didn't believe in mercy.  He shot them and then moved back out to defend this cave complex.  He saw Modo ride past and take out some of the Raiders with his arm cannon, mentally cheering him on.
He changed his piece of gum and went back to taking careful shots, not hearing anything coming up behind him.  He didn't hear anything at all until something clamped down on the back of his neck and bit, sinking in inch-long poisoned fangs, or so it felt, and wrapping a tail around his waist.  He screamed and beat at it, backing against a wall to try to get it off.  He finally managed to get it off and shot it, stomping it for good measure.  He looked up and his vision was blurry. He couldn't tell what was standing there.  It was fat, but it looked furry.  "Identify yourself."
"Whoa, Xander!" Vinnie shouted, pushing past the mice in front of him.  He looked at the thing, then at his back.  "He got bitten by a sucker fish!   Medic!"  One came rushing in and he was carried off.  Vinnie went back to report that to Throttle and Stoker, who were working together to drive the last of them back into the ship.  He rode up beside them.  "Xander got bitten by a sucker fish.  I don't know where his people are."
"Those caves lead to the underground," Throttle called back.  "I used to play there."  He punched one and sent him flying and the rest started their retreat.  Some up on the cliffs raised themselves but the remaining mice shot them too.  Throttle stopped, looking around.  There were some casualties.  There were some guys now without bikes.  He looked at Stoker.  "Regroup?"
"Regroup.  Go back to base and see about him.  Take your bros with you.  Send out a fresh troop of the old guys."  He nodded, going to do that.  Stoker stayed in place to redeploy and target the new troops, then went back to check on everyone.  He walked into the infirmary, seeing Throttle on a bed.  "What happened?"  Vinnie grabbed his head and fell too.  "Torians, now?"
"Wood," Throttle moaned.  "Allergic.  Dawn said so."
"We don't have any wood!"
"Bullets," Vinnie told him. "Home!"
"Shit!"  He ran to the Council's chambers, dialing the transporter for the bro's home, hoping that the electric was back on there.  He got a connection and Dawn.  "We have Torians."
"Coming right up.  We were just making more," she said cheerfully, going to get him some weapons.
"Need anything else?"
"Yeah, about sixty thousand more mice.  We have a landed cruiser and Xander was bitten by a sucker fish."
"Want me to come help?" Rimfire asked.
"No, if they're headed this way, they're headed for Earth.  Only one cruiser landed, Rimfire.  Mobilize, now."  He accepted the two assault rifles and went to hand one to his best shot, taking the other.  "Torians are allergic to wood.  There's one broadcasting into the infirmary."
"Are you sure it's not that strange mouse?"
"He's never been able to before."
"Fine."  He looked.  "Spotter.  I need a spotter.  Modo!" he called, catching sight of him.  "I need a spotter.  Torians!"  Modo looked and finally found their ship, pointing it out with a whistle.  "Bless you, brother."  He took aim and started to fire.  "Hey, they explode in pretty colors with these."
"Xander makes 'em," Stoker admitted, firing on them himself now that he knew where they were. He saw a few Plutarkians coming their way and shot them too.  Bullets made of wood worked just as well as metal ones or laser blasts on them.
To Part 40
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