inspired by: E. Kishon "Auf Mäusesuche" and some Garfield comic strips
On board Ranger-1 during a flight to Texarcota Valley:
"Goose..." Niko came into the rear bay. "There's something going on with your luggage."
"What?" Goose looked up from counting the stored energy cells and made an angry note on the data pad. Inventary lists are boring to death!
"It's making sounds."
He dropped the pad and followed her to the closet where they kept their luggage during the flight.
"I noticed it when I took my second uniform out of my bag."
He unzipped his spacesac and peeked into it. With a fatalistic look he turned toward her. "Niko... I must tell Zachary that we've got a stowaway..."
"Thank you, for allowing us to stay here during the presentation. It's far too crowded in the city. We wouldn't be able to find the time to do our job with all the spectators around."
Mrs. Arroyo smiled. "Our pleasure, Captain Fox. Without you and your team our valley wouldn't even exist now." Barking behind her caused her to turn. "Oh, Lucky, you know them, whatever–"
"POSS!!" Goose, already on the porch, dropped the luggage and hurried back towards the animals.
The lycan sniffed at the unknown animal visitor and waved its tail in greeting, but the cat obviously misunderstood the friendly gesture. With a furious hiss Poss jumped into the lycan's face and drove his claws into Lucky's sensitive nose. With a painfilled howl the lycan retreated, staying carefully out of reach. Poss stood with his back fur raised, clearly acting the big shot. Then he sniffed arrogantly himself and stalked towards the porch with his tail raised high above his back.
Goose's embarassed look followed the cat, who walked past him and entered the house as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Doc, standing on the porch, laughed out loud. "This cat really suits you, my Goose man."
"I think it's obvious who's the boss here now." Mrs. Arroyo said, watching her lycan touching his aching nose with a paw. "To which of you does that cat belong?"
"To me, Ma'am. I'm sorry for the trouble he caused. I didn't plan to bring him here."
"He's a stowaway," Niko explained.
"You should have seen what he did during the flight after we discovered him." Doc grinned, joining them. "Pretty strange reprogramming of the onboard computers."
Zachary simply snorted and picked up his bag.
"You mean, what he did to my shirts before we found him," Goose grumbled.
"Don't worry, Goose." Niko giggled. "I'm sure Mrs. Arroyo has a washing mashine."
Arroyo Estate at Night:
She heard it clearly: a rustle under her bed. Niko sat straight up. What was that?! It was late in the night and all dark. She listened intently again. Something's chewing on cloth... The chewing was interrupted by a faint squeak. A mouse?! She activated her flashlight, looked below her bed and only just saw a tiny brown creature slipping through the blanket that hung down to the floor on the other side and disappearing below her wardrobe. Clearly a mouse! She shrugged and returned to her bed. It's harmless.
But the rustling kept her awake. "Hmpf." She got up, concentrated, and activated her badge. Okay, Mousy, time to get the opinion that it's much nicer outside the house.
Her badge produced only a faint buzzing.
"Not my night!" Niko glanced at the clock: 02:14 – I can't go to the spaceport now to use the recharger on board.
The rustling continued.
I won't get any sleep with this mouse rummaging around! She wrapped herself in the big bath robe Mrs. Arroyo had given her and left the room.
"This beast is keeping me awake with its noise, Shane."
"A noisy mouse?" He raised his brows.
"Believe me, it's louder than you may think." Niko suppressed a yawn. "I would catch it myself but my implant isn't charged at the moment..."
He squatted on hands and knees in front of her bed, looked under it and discovered the mouse near the wall. "Pretty puny." Goose got to his feet again and stretched. "Unfortunate size relation between us. Like a star destroyer against an interceptor." He shrugged. "Stacks the odds in the mouse's favor."
"You want to tell me you can't catch this mouse?!" Niko stared at him.
"Nah, I can catch it. It'll just take a lot of effort. Maybe... Our stowaway'd have better chances to get it quickly." He turned for the door. "I'll go and get Poss."
"Goose, what are you planning with your furry friend?" Doc was already preparing for sleep in the room the three men shared with the cat. (Needless to say that Poss graciously allowed them to stay there, too.)
"He's got a job to do."
"Niko's got a mouse in her room that's disturbing her."
"And Poss is gonna catch it?" The hacker rebuttoned his shirt and fished for his boots. "This I've gotta see!"
They sat Possessor on the floor next to her bed. Niko raised the blankets. "There's your prey, Poss."
The little mouse squeaked, frightened.
She'd never seen the cat move that fast before. "Where is he?"
"Up there." Goose pointed at the top of the wardrobe, where Poss was visible as a tiny ball of fur with great green eyes looking down at them.
"A real hero," Doc commented.
"He's daddy's little space marine," Goose said drily and examined the claw marks on his shoulder. "Looks like we're going to have to catch the mouse ourselves."
The room was empty when Captain Zachary Fox finally came to get some sleep himself. It had gotten pretty late while he checked the security plans for the presentation one last time.
Where are those two? He looked around again. And where's Possessor? That cat should already be scraping my boots.
A faint rumbling from Niko's room next door reached his ears...
"WHAT'S GOING ON HERE!?" Zachary appeared like a demon of morality among them. It took him a visible effort to reduce his voice to a normal sound level as he addressed Niko. "May I asked what you're doing with two men in your room at 3 a.m?"
"We are hunting a mouse." Goose looked up from behind Niko's bed. "If Doc hadn't let it slip between his feet we all would be back in our beds right now."
"Hey!" Doc knelt in front of the bed. "You couldn't chase it properly in my direction and–"
"Do you really think I'm going to believe that?" Zach snapped. "And even if I did... nobody else would buy that report."
"Ahem, Zachary... Just for protocol: right now, there are three men in my room with me." Niko grinned.
"What–" He interrupted himself. "You'd better be able to show me this ominous mouse."
"Where is it now?" Niko asked.
"Under the bed." – Doc.
"Under the wardrobe." – Goose.
The two stopped when Possessor suddenly jumped down from the wardrobe and marched purring around Goose's feet.
"It's gone," Goose said calmly.
Doc groaned and rested his face in his hand. "When it comes to mice, this cat is like a compass that always points south."
The tapping of Zachary's boot tip on the floor grew clearly louder.