Modo and Mama Sky

Standard fanfic disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters. I'm just borrowing them for, um, typing practice. Yeah, that's it, typing practice. Based on characters and situations created by Tom Tataranowicz and Rick Ungar. Warning: Mary Sue.

Modo and Mama Sky

Biker Mice from Mars

By Susan M. M.

For Rilla Heslin of Windbourne, aka Mama Rilla

Also for Griff-chan and The Third Biker Scholar.

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Modo awoke to hear a kid's voice asking, "Is he a lab rat?"

"My mama didn't raise no stinking rats," he murmured.

"No, of course not," a female voice reassured him. He didn't recognize the voice, but it was soft and gentle. The hand on his forehead was gentle, too. "Now rest. You're hurt."

Modo closed his eyes. Obeying her struck him as a really good idea. As he started to drift off, he heard her explain, "A rat's nose is longer and more pointed, and the tail is completely different. I know what rats look like; I've killed enough of them."

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Modo opened his eyes slowly. His eyelids hurt. His whole body hurt. His left arm was especially sore.

"Mama Sky, he's awake!"

Modo heard footsteps running away, a child by the voice and the light steps. A moment later he heard more footsteps. Slower, heavier, an adult. A woman walked into the room. It was hard to tell with humans, but he thought she was older than Charley. He sniffed cautiously. "Is that pizza I smell?"

"Uh-huh," she replied. Her hair was strawberry blonde.

"Any chance of getting a slice?" he asked.

"With a possible concussion?" she asked in an I-don't-think-so tone of voice. "Let's start you on chicken noodle soup, see if you can keep that down."

"I'd rather have pizza."

"I'd rather be on a Caribbean cruise. We don't always get what we want. How are you feeling?"

"Sore," Modo admitted.

"Good."

"Good?" The gray-furred mouse was sure he'd misheard her or misunderstood her.

"If you'd said anything else, I'd have known you were lying." She gently touched his right arm, an inch or two above the prosthetic. "You and pain are old friends. "

"Friends, no." He started to shake his head, then stopped. Moving hurt too much. "But pain and I, we're no strangers." He looked around, very slowly. He didn't recognize his surroundings.

"Are you feeling nauseous?"

"No, my stomach's 'bout the only thing that doesn't hurt."

She held up her right hand. "How many fingers am I holding up?"

"Three fingers. " He glanced down and saw a long row of neat black stitches on his left arm. "Where am I?"

"My place. I'm Joyce Schuyler. Most folks call me Sky, or Mama Sky. What should I call you, or would you prefer sticking with 'hey, you'?"

It didn't show beneath his eyepatch, but his left eyebrow rose in surprise. Sky had very carefully avoided asking what his name was. 'What should I call you' wasn't the same thing as 'who are you.' "I go by Modo."

"Well, Modo, do you feel up to a little soup? Since you're not feeling nauseous?"

"Yes, ma'am, that'd be mighty nice of you."

"Some people think I'm a nice person." She smiled. "Some people don't." She left the room and came back a moment later with a bowl of soup on a tray. "Do you think you can sit up a little, if I help you?"

Modo started to scoot up, then realized something. He felt the sheets against his bare fur. "Where are my clothes?"

"Getting the bloodstains washed out of them. You'll get them back when they're clean and dry," she assured him.

"But how did I – " Embarrassed, he stopped in mid-sentence.

"I'm a married lady," Sky told him. "And I'm a tactical medic. Open up."

Before he could reply, she stuck the spoon in his mouth. He tried to protest that he could feed himself; she ignored him.

After he swallowed two or three spoonfuls of soup, he managed to ask: "Ma'am, you never did answer my question. Where am I? And how did I get here?"

"This is my home. A young friend of mine found you and brought you here. He knew I had a habit of taking in strays, and he knew I had paramedic training." Sky looked pointedly at his ears and antennae. "He had a feeling you might prefer not to go to a hospital."

"Yeah, I don't think one of your hospitals would deal too well with me," Modo agreed. Charley had warned them that if the government caught them, they might wind up in as much trouble or more as if Limburger caught them.

She placed the spoon in his mouth, cutting off further conversation for the moment.

"Did I hear thunder before?" Modo asked, once she gave him a chance to speak. It had been raining before; he remembered wet roads, or at least he thought he did.

Sky shook her head. "We're above a bowling alley. It's noisy, but the rent is cheap."1

Modo finished the soup. "Thank you, ma'am."

"You're a guest in my home."

Before the Plutarkians came, those words meant something on Mars. He wondered what they meant here on Earth.

"Aunt Joyce! Telephone!" a girl screamed.

"Excuse me a moment." Sky got up and left the room. She came back five minutes later. "That reminds me, is there anybody you need to call, somebody you should -." She looked at his sleeping body and didn't bother finishing her sentence.

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"Vinnie, Throttle," Charlene Davidson's voice came over the CB.

"What is it, Charley-girl?" Throttle asked. He was a tan-furred Martian mouse, almost as tall as Modo.

"Lil Hoss just limped into the garage, by herself," Charlie repeated.

Vinnie swore, muttering words the white-furred mouse ordinarily wouldn't use in front of Charley. Lil Hoss was Modo's bike. There was no way she would have willingly left her rider behind.

"We'll be there as quick as we can, Charley," Throttle told her. "Do what you can for Lil Hoss."

Throttle and Vinnie immediately headed for the Last Chance Garage, Charley's business and home. Both were too worried for Modo to trade recriminations about what had gone wrong and whose fault it was. Especially since it wasn't anyone's fault. Things happened in war.

Limburger's minions had been chasing them. They'd split up, forcing Limburger's henchmen to do the same. After Vinnie and Throttle had lost their pursuers, they'd tried to rendezvous with Modo.

Only they couldn't find him.

They hadn't been concerned, at first. Modo was a big boy, perfectly capable of taking care of himself. They'd figured he'd been leading Limberger's men on a wild chase. But it had been raining and the roads were slick. Modo was one of the finest motorcyclists on Mars or Earth, but none of the biker mice had much experience on wet roads. When he didn't meet up with them, didn't answer their calls - CB or telepathic - and couldn't be traced through his tracker ... Vinnie and Throttle began to worry.

Ten minutes later, they pulled up into Charley's garage. "Where is she?" Throttle asked.

"Over here." Charlie showed them where she'd been working on Modo's bike. "She's pretty banged up."

"She sure is," Vinnie agreed. He turned his head and saw thick, fluffy white towels folded up on the counter. He grabbed one and tossed it to Throttle, then took another one and started drying himself off.

Draping the towel around his muscular shoulders, Throttle approached Modo's bike. He knelt beside her. "Hey, Lil Hoss. You think you can lead us back to Modo?"

Her lights blinked off and on.

Throttle reached out and caressed the bike's handlebars. "Good girl."

"She should be ready to go out in about ten-fifteen minutes. Until I finish some repair work, she's not road-ready," Charley warned. "I'm not sure how she managed to make it back to the garage, to be honest."

"Heart and stubbornness," Vinnie said.

"She's got plenty of heart," Throttle agreed. "Do what you can for her, Charley."

The human mechanic nodded. "I'll do my best."

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Modo woke up to find two young boys staring at him. The older one was Eurasian, about nine or ten years old. The younger one was African-American. Both were in pajamas. Modo was confused. From what Charley had told him and from what he'd seen on television, humans generally only had one skin color in a family. Not like Mars, where brothers and sisters might have different colored fur.

"What you staring at?" he asked.

"You," the younger one replied honestly.

"What's the matter, never seen a mouse before?"

"Not as big as you," the older boy said.

"Or with a pirate eyepatch," the younger one added.

A teenaged girl came into the room. Her hair was carroty-orange, not strawberry blonde like Sky's, but there was a mild resemblance between the two females. She wore a pink bathrobe over her pajamas. "What are you doing out of bed?"

"We wanted to meet the mouse," the Eurasian boy said.

"Aunt Joyce said to let him rest. Now get back to bed, before Aunt Joyce catches you bothering him." Reluctantly, the boys obeyed her and left the room. Despite herself, she gazed at the fathom-tall mouse, trying not to stare, but failing.

"They ain't bothering me," Modo fibbed.

"Aunt Joyce said you're supposed to rest, and you can't do that if the boys keep harassing you."

Modo asked. "Them boys your brothers?"

She shook her head. "Ken's my cousin. He's Aunt Joyce's son. Malachi lives with her. He's an orphan and his dad was her partner, so she's taking care of him." She paused a moment, then added, "I'm Alice."

"Hello, Alice." He tried to think of something else to say, hoping to get his brain to start working at full power. He failed. The pain blocked out most thoughts more complex than 'ouch.' "How many of you live here with your aunt?"

"Five at the moment, six counting you. Me and my brother, we're staying with her while my Dad is overseas and Mom goes back to school. Ken's her kid. Malachi. Sometimes others. People who need a place to stay for a day or two."

"She said - she said something about taking in strays."

Alice nodded. "She does. The guy who found you, he stayed with her for a few months." She stared again. You didn't see a six-foot tall mouse with antennae every day. "I - I should probably let you rest."

"Gotta admit," Modo yawned. "Rest sounds good."

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It was closer to half an hour before Charley pronounced Lil Hoss fit to return to the road to search for Modo. Throttle and Vinnie had put the time to good use: getting dry, warming up, eating hot dogs, and drinking root beer. Charley had learned to buy hot dogs and root beer by the case for her Martian friends; it was cheaper and easier.

Charley wiped the grease off her hands. She reached for a helmet.

"Uh-uh, Charley-girl." Throttle shook his head.

"Excuse me?" the brunette asked.

"You need to stay here, just in case Modo manages to make it back on his own."

Charley opened her mouth to protest, then shut it again. Throttle was right.

"We'll call as soon as we know something," Throttle promised. Vinnie nodded in agreement.

"Be careful, guys." As they drove out into the night, she quietly quoted Milton to herself: "They also serve, who only stand and wait."

And she waited. And waited.

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Modo felt something touching his forehead. Assuming it was an enemy's weapon, he reached out with his left arm to grab it. His paw clutched only air.

"Easy, easy," a female voice said. "Just checking your temperature."

"Charley-ma'am?" Modo asked weakly, not fully awake. He opened his eyes. He saw a human woman, but it wasn't Charley.

"Do you remember me?" she asked gently.

Modo struggled through the pain for the memory. "Mama Sky, you said."

"That's right. Do you remember what happened, where you are?"

"Chicago. Some of Lim- " He stopped himself, not wanting to say too much when he didn't know if he could trust her or not. "Some folks who don't like me very much were chasing me and my bros. We split up, tried to lose 'em. My bike skidded on wet roads ... My bros, my bike!"

"A young friend of mine found you and knew I had a habit of taking in strays," she reminded him. "He didn't see anyone else."

"And my bike?" Concern for Lil Hoss filled his deep voice.

"He only saw you. Didn't mention a bike."

"Maybe she got away," Modo murmured.

Sky raised an eyebrow at that, but didn't ask. She'd heard rumors of motorcycle-riding giant mice who left mayhem in their wake. Some said they were nothing but urban folklore. Some said they were real, but disagreed as to whether they were vigilantes, villains, or vandals.

"Think you could manage a glass of water?" she asked.

"Yes'm."

"You allergic to aspirin?" She longed to give him something stronger, but had no idea how it would react with his alien anatomy.

"Not allergic, but they don't do much for me," he explained.

"You can have water and two aspirin, or just water. Your choice," she offered.

"Make it four aspirin, and you got a deal," he told her. Any dosage less than that his body wouldn't even notice.

Sky shook some pills out of a waiting bottle. She handed him the pills, then held the glass for him as he drank. Then she sat beside the bedside until he fell asleep again.

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Throttle and Vinnie followed Lil Hoss through the dark streets of Chicago. Lil Hoss led them to the scene of the accident.

Big metal trash cans were scattered across the alleyway. Vinnie and Throttle sniffed in unison, then frowned. There was blood on the trash cans.

"Skid marks," Vinnie said, pointing to the pavement.

Throttle reconstructed the scene. "He lost control of his bike on the wet road, slammed into the trash cans. Got hurt." He sniffed again, then shook his head. "Can't follow the blood trail. The rain washed it away." He turned to Modo's bike. "Can you lead us to him, girl?"

Lil Hoss' front wheel twisted back and forth, clearly saying no. The two Martian mice examined the area as best they could, but they were soldiers, not detectives. If there was a clue there to Modo's whereabouts, they couldn't find it.

Dejected, their tails and antennae drooping, they returned to the garage. Neither felt up to going back to Quigley Field. When they arrived, they hugged Charley wordlessly, then crashed on her couch.

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