The Artist of Manticore

A Dark Angel Fan Fiction

by S. T. Farnham (Lancer47)

Rating: T(PG-13) for some language that's unsuitable for young people and others with tender sensibilities.

Genre: General/Adventure

Summary:

Can an X-series ever really escape Manticore? Not just physically, but mentally.

Authors Notes:
In my Dark Angel Universe, there are no 'nomilies', no Familiars, and Zack is back to normal, well, as normal as Zack ever was. I have made an attempt to be correct continuity-wise, but I have strayed a little from the straight and narrow. So don't be surprised if there are a few small things which are turned and twisted out of order.

Disclaimer:
The Dark Angel Universe is owned by Eglee and Cameron, not me. I'm just visiting, not making any money off it. And may Horrible Flaming Death befall the television executives who canceled the show.

License: This work is licensed under the:

'Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License'.

To view a copy of this license, visit:

creativecommons dot org
Or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

Briefly, anyone is free to add to this work as long as correct attribution is maintained. But commercial use is not allowed or possible.

Prologue

Yellow flames leaping into the air were reflected in Jack-Cat's wide green eyes. The orange tomcat lay on his stomach at the edge of the dark forest, his front claws angrily kneading damp leaves, his tail softly whacking a rotted log, watching strange two-legs running around carrying things with their front paws and acting in a manner Jack-Cat found even more incomprehensible than usual. Then they all got in their trucks and drove off. He watched his house burn. His whiskers and ears twitched as a tendril of smoke swirled in his direction.

He wished there were someone around to call him, so he could think about answering to his name. He would've liked to lie in his two-leg's lap, curled up and warm, her familiar scent suffusing his nose, or even his cousin two-legs with his strange yet oddly satisfying smell.

By and by, his stomach growled. With a heavy sigh he got up and padded off into the underbrush, hoping he would find an unwary but tasty furry chaser.

Chapter I

If you are going through hell, keep going.

Winston Churchill

February,2009

Wild rumors flew around all day. First, we were locked down until noon. Then Colonel Lydecker called us out for formation and made a tiresome speech about loyalty and devotion to duty. We really didn't understand what he was getting at, after all, back then we were only about seven years old. And he had more than the usual number of soldiers standing around watching us. And they all stared with suspicion and fear, more than most days anyway.

Eventually the rumors settled down and a few facts filtered into our barracks. Twelve of the X-5's were AWOL. Escaped, some said. Except we weren't entirely certain of what they escaped to, since we had only a very confused and incomplete notion of what existed outside of Manticore.

After that day, training became even tougher, with mandatory psych sessions, and they managed to figure out a way to reduce what little free time we had to almost nothing. It seemed to me that they were terrified that we might start thinking unauthorized thoughts. Especially since Lydecker never told us what really happened to the missing X-5's. There were even rumors that they had all been caught and executed on the spot. I'm pretty sure Lydecker started that one himself.

Eventually the fuss died down and everything became routine once again. But my own difficulties only increased as time went on because while everyone else was concentrating on learning to soldier, I kept noticing how light affected the landscape. At seven I had never heard of chiaroscuros, but if someone had defined it for me, I would have instantly understood. For to me the whole world consisted of light, shadow, contrast, and color. I studied the light, and I studied how it reflected, and noticed the specular highlights and textures and variations in color and everything about the landscape around us. I had a tendency to be riveted by the way the morning dew glittered in the sunlight when I should have been paying attention to live-fire exercises. Potentially dangerous.

Although live-fire exercise also afforded me the opportunity to study priceless expressions, expressions that I normally didn't see on my brothers and sisters, all Sixth Generation 'X' Series Trans-Gene Engineered Soldiers. Even now I could draw from memory the planes of the faces of my siblings, and imbue those drawings with their deepest fears as bullets zinged by, sometimes only inches away as we dodged and swerved in terror. Although I can imagine situations where such skills could be useful, I had luckily avoided people trying to shoot me: possibly luck had little to do with it.

I couldn't name what I was seeing, not then anyway, and I wasn't sure what to do with what I had observed. But I couldn't help myself from looking at the world through eyes of an artist.

In 2009 I didn't know that it would be five terrible years before I could escape, five years to think and plan and most of all, to survive.

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