Field Mice

1. Raiding Party!

The gray steel structures stood in a silent memorial to world before, skeletal remains of better times. Unease grew among the shadows far below, in the minds of two people, mere ants to the anthill of the old city, who loitered restlessly amidst the debris. The first paced the clearest area he had found in the cluttered ruin, and occasionally stopped to kicked something out of the way for greater space. The second, antithesis to his companion, was still as the place surrounding them; he stood staring at the time on his wrist. At length, he let his arm drop and brought his left hand to the transmitter patch at his throat.

"If you’re not here in five minutes, we’re sealing up without you," the man’s voice was a heavy, consistent oscillation that made the other stop; they both stared upward in anticipation of a response.

"I don’t think they heard you…" the lighter throat trailed off as a broken transmission broke through the reticence. Unmistakable in the garbled message were the words wait and trouble. So much for the clarity of a command

"Three minutes," the timekeeper said, going back to watching the chrome holo affixed to his wrist. He ignored the tangle of red-brown hair that spilled into his eyes as he dipped his head – he couldn’t control it if he wanted to.

"Damnit, Eli, just wait."

That had come through clear. The men exchanged a glance, the first grinning fiendishly,

"You’re in trouble," he mocked the commander, seriousness replaced by a nervous giddiness.

"So are you, Tyler; trust me."

The grin faded, and the man drooped. He had a habit of forgetting the newly aquired transmitters didn’t have to be fiddled with to send signals, and it got him into trouble. That the others had been so quiet was part of the concern the stragglers faced.

A hollow metallic clang sent both men running for cover amidst the ruins, but it was what they were waiting for. From the portal leading into the city dropped four others, heavily burdened with both their own and stolen equipment.

"All right," the last man down the ladder glanced over his open shoulder, then spun around looking for the guard he left behind, "Wherever the hell you are; now you can seal it."

The two that had run sheepishly returned, with secretive glances at the rest of the raiding party as the others left. They quickly scurried up the ladder to effectively break the entrance so that it couldn’t be used again, so they couldn’t be trailed. They finished swiftly, and soon joined their companions in the quick getaway run which led directly through old waterways.

Once they had, the commander dropped back in the file to observe the brooding young men. For hours they traveled in silence, until he called for a rest. They wouldn’t be getting home tonight anyway. His second-in-command took it upon himself to assign guard duty

"Zinan and Tyler," the called upon flinched in recognition of the inevitable, "East and west."

Meanwhile, the commander indulged himself in a little joke.

"Elijah," the man’s broad smile put the younger at unease, "I got something especially for you."

From over his shoulder, he offered the large bag. Elijah accepted it with trepidation, and nearly dropped it, for he wasn’t expecting the weight. It squirmed, and he did drop it, earning a muffled bit of… some language he didn’t know from what… or whoever was within. Everyone who knew better was watching with grinning interest. Naturally curious, he tugged on the bag’s lengthy zipper.

He jumped back when he figured out just what it was, disgusted with his comrades and their little "joke." For their part, they just laughed, snickered, and smirked at him, even as his face grew dark and he tried to cuff the nearest soldier of his level.

"Now, there…" the commander soothed, "We had a little accident, so we decided to bring her along. Congratulations Eli, you get to baby-sit for a while. If she’s not alive when we get back, there will be hell to pay." As of yet, the rebels had never been responsible for an unnecessary death, and he planned to keep it that way. Although leaving the accidentally abducted woman in Elijah’s care wasn’t the smartest thing, like Tyler had said, the man was in trouble, and deservedly so.