The Mouse

[April 2001]

Fandom: Dark Angel
Title: The Mouse
PenName: Empress Vader
Character(s): Zack, Zane
Rating: G
Summary: Zack and Zane get into conflict over Zane’s pet.
Disclaimer: This story is a fanwork based on characters featured on the TV series Dark Angel. A television series created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee.

“Pst, Harry, Harry, come here,” the little boy said as he leaned under his cot.

“Zane, what are you doing, there going to be coming soon,” a older girl said to the young boy as he looked underneath his cot.

“I’ve got to find Harry”

“You shouldn’t have a rat anyway.”

“It’s a mouse,” he shouted at the girl. “Rats are much bigger.”

“A rodent is a rodent.”

“Not this one.”

“She’s right,” Zack said pulling Zane up off the floor. “Rat, mouse, it’s a rodent and it’s not important.”

“I’m going to find Harry!” Zane shouted. “He needs me.”

The marching of men outside alerted the children. Everyone fell into formation, except for Zack and Zane who were still fighting with each other.

A Tac leader stepped into the room and approached the boys. They let go of each other and looked at him.

“Is there a problem boys?”

“No Sir” the children said together. They stood at attention and saluted their superior.

“Fall in!” the Tac leader shouted. The two boys grunted and fell in line, each eyeing each other, letting the other know this was far from over then they began their march down the hallway.

It was a long day for Zane, all he could think about was his missing pet and he didn’t get a chance to go back and look, not that he expected to. Once classes began, they went on all day. From morning to night, they were in training.

Zack had been eyeing him all day. And at lunch he had sat down beside him and said through gritted teeth, “You ever do that in the morning again soldier, you’ll regret it.” Then a Tac Leader came up to them and said Lydecker wanted them. They left their food and went to see Lydecker in his office.

“Morning Soldiers”

“Morning Sir!” the boys shouted.

“Even though it’s actually approaching Afternoon, sir,” Zack added.

‘Kiss up,’ Zane thought.

Lydecker looked between the two of them.

“I hear there was a fight between you two this morning.”

“The conflict is resolved sir,” Zack said.

“Who started it?” Lydecker asked.

“I did sir,” Zack said.

Zane stared at him, visibly shocked.

“Is this true?” he asked Zane.

“Well sir –”

“It’s true,” Zack interrupted. “It was my fault sir.”

“Fine, your dismissed,” he said to Zane.

Zane filed out of the office.

Zack was always surprising you. Just when you thought Zack was being hard on you, he’d turn around and protect you. He felt bad, he wanted to go back in there and tell Lydecker the whole story. But that would have been like saying Zack a lied and he’d wouldn’t betray his brother.

When they returned to the barracks, Zack was there. As soon as lights were out Zane walked over to him.

“You didn’t have to do that Zack.”

“Your my team, your mistakes are my responsibility.”

Zack climbed out of bed and walked him over to the trash bin. He picked up a paper towel. Laying there was the dead body of a mouse.

“Harry,” Zack said simply.

“Oh no. You didn’t?” Zane said sitting in front of the trash.

“No, I didn’t, though I wanted to, Johnson did,” Zack said. “He killed him and dumped him in the trash. I knew it this morning. I tried to stop you from looking for him, hoping you’d think he’d run away and move on like anybody with good sense.”

The next day they were outside for field training. And even though the weather didn’t affect them like it affected others, the day seemed unusually long, especially for Zane who was morning his dead pet. By the time they showered and climbed into bed, even those who didn’t sleep were ready to lie down and rest. And those who did sleep hardly required sleep every night. So it was quite unusual for everyone to be ready to climb into bed.

When Zane woke up that morning, he felt a metal case beside him. He quickly moved the blanket and looked  at it. He sat up, laid the box on his lap, and opened it. Inside was a little mouse.

“Where’d this come from?”

“I found him outside,” Zack said. “I stole the case, it has sufficient air holes. Hide it.”

Zane smiled. He didn’t say thank you, he knew Zack wouldn’t like it. But when Zack turned around he saw the other kids were smiling too.

“I think I’m going to let him go,” Zane said holding the small mouse in his hand.

“What!! After all that whining you did over Harry, you’re going to let him go?”

“Well, Harry came in here. He needed me to protect him,” Zane told Zack. “But this guy, he was free and you captured him.”

“Do whatever you want,” Zack said walking away.

Zane was forced to keep the mouse caged for a day, sneaking bread crumbs to him, the way he use to do for Harry. Then when they went outside to go through some scenario dreamed up by their instructors, Zane let him go.

Zack happened to be standing beside him when he did it. He kind of admired him for letting the rodent go. It was something he wanted, yet he just let it go free. Free, that word was starting to mean more and more everyday. He tried to stay focused, to listen to instruction, to be above the petty world outside, but he couldn’t help but wonder what was beyond the wire. Would the mouse make it that far? Travel places he had yet to see? Or would some predator leap up and destroy it before it got that far? And did Zane, in letting the mouse go, understand something he didn’t? He shook these thoughts out of his head.

“Come on Solider,” Zack said tapping him on his soldier.

And the two boys went back to their training.


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