No Salvation
by
Chris Anderson

Disclaimer: seaQuest belongs to other people.

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You believe them, don't you?

Oh, you don't want to admit it. Not even to yourself. Sitting there pretending
the rest of the world does not exist- and yet you do believe what that same
world says about me.

I know you do.

Yes, you believe it. Believe it so much that you would never say to anyone, if
there was anyone to tell, that you used to know me.

It's easier to deny me. I understand.

For the first time I think I understand why you always got on so well with my
father. You have more in common than I ever thought, before.

I should have realized it then.

I hated and loved you both. And I don't suppose that either of you ever knew it.

There was a moment, after Livingston, when I almost reached out. Almost.

The admiral who signed my discharge papers asked me if there was anyone they
could call, and I almost gave her your number. I didn't know then that you had
sold the house, that you had pulled your vanishing act while I was out to sea-
they never did tell us much in those days, you know; editing every bit of news
by hand, least they unsettle us. Little things like deaths in the family, or the
disappearance of old mentors, were simply not passed along. No distractions, no
emotions, no problems.

At least I have proved them false on /that/, haven't I?

What stopped me from reaching out, was the thought that perhaps you would be no
different, from my father; perhaps you would be worse. The ideal of your
understanding was all I had to hold onto, and I wasn't willing to lose it.
Better not to risk finding out.

So I shook my head; said there was no one, as there may as well not have been.
Walked away.

Heard, eventually, about Carol and your "going native". Heard it from Crocker,
actually- he didn't know it was me, but I saw him one day, shooting off his
mouth in a portside bar. Had quite an audience, he did, but I left before he had
a chance to recognize me. If I'd been thinking rationally, I would not have
wanted him to see me, wouldn't have wanted to talk to him, even- or maybe
especially- drunk as he was. But I was thinking anything but clearly.

Something in me broke that day. Not at Livingston, the way they'd tell you, but
that day, when I heard you were gone. Heard it and knew it was true, not one of
Crocker's sea stories- he wouldn't have been telling tales, not about you.

You as I'd known you, never would have run away. And it became an excuse not to
trust myself, that you had- because if I didn't know you as well as all that,
how could I believe what my heart told me? How could I think that you would help
me, trust me, believe in me the way that you always did? No more than a
stranger, how could I think to know what you'd do?

I could have spared you the benefit of the doubt, but never myself. I never
believed that I was worth it.

I probably wasn't.

But that day, I knew that you believed them, the things they said. And if you
already thought the worst of me, I had nothing else left to lose.

You believed it; I became it.

I wandered, I drifted. Let my morals drift away with the scraps of braid, shards
of the old uniform. I didn't concern myself with right or wrong. I simply
existed. And I found that even I could get lost in the underworld that still
exists, far beneath the notice of UEO. If those I met there knew who I was, they
never let on, and it didn't matter.

There's a quaint old term for what I became; mercenary. I wasn't even the worst
of them. I'm not proud of it, but nor will I apologize.

You wouldn't take the apology, anyway. I know that.

It was LeChen who suggested going after seaQuest. He wanted someone who knew her
weaknesses, the old wounds, healed but still vulnerable. He didn't know- I never
told him- what I had once done, just to see if I could. I never tested it,
simply believed that it would work. The day I set sail on LeChen's old Delta-IV,
I sent the activation code.

You know, of course, that it worked well enough.

And how did it feel to be there then, to see your own prized creation crippled
by the hand of your star pupil? Did it /hurt/, Nathan?

It hurt to need you, and not have you there.

You aren't the only one to feel betrayed, believe me. How do you suppose I felt
when I learned you'd gone? I needed you, and you weren't there. Never did I
dream that when you swore off the Navy, you had sworn off all of us as well.
Ironic, and stupid- you were the one who always told us to see beyond the
uniform, but in the end you couldn't take your own advice.

Maxwell and the rest of my erstwhile crew said your name with fear. It took me
back; dread of the great Bridger was little more to me than a relic of the
middie days. You remember. Twenty-five of us, terrified, honored, /blessed/- the
chosen few.

In reality we were lucky rather than special; random assignment by Academy
computers had given us to you, and you to us, but there was no one who believed
strings hadn't been pulled somewhere. Not even me. My family was pleased enough
I assumed they'd had something to do with it.

No one bothered to correct this little misconception. But you, who served
alongside my father for thirty years, must have known that they wouldn't. You
told me once, that merit and luck had landed me in your classroom. But that you
were glad to see me there anyway.

I always wanted, you see, to earn it. The way I had wanted to earn everything.
The way I earned seaQuest. Earned it twice, because if you, the man of the hour,
hadn't thought me worthy of it, you would have seen the command went to somebody
else.

So tell me, why? Why forsake me after all of this time? Why run away and never
speak, never send any word... Why?

Tell me, Nathan, old friend, when did I fall from grace?

It can't have been Livingston. You weren't there. Although when we last spoke,
you on the seaQuest and I on the Delta, your very silence on the issue
proclaimed your views on /that/ subject- not that I can truly blame you for it.
But if not Livingston, then what, and when?

Or was the fact that I wore the uniform after you set yours aside, reason
enough?

I don't suppose that it matters. In any case you must have been right to cast me
from the inner circle, because look what I have done.

I did it for you. So that you would come.

Maxwell, LeChen, they both thought Ford would receive the command, but I knew
better. Knew they would have to find someone else, someone who had the talent
not in latent potential, but active. Rusty, maybe, but active.

I was counting on it being you.

Your old friend Noyce, you see, is very predictable. Given a particular set of
circumstances, I knew what he would do, and creating those circumstances was
very easy. It took him a bit longer than I'd thought it would to convince you,
but I knew you'd come.

You're a smart man. You must have realized by now why I did it. Not revenge, not
against you or the ones who took seaQuest from me- under the conditions of the
day there was little else they could do. No, I didn't care for revenge. Not as
some might think it, at any rate.

My family history being what it is, it must have been very easy for everyone to
believe I was simply crazy. The act I put on for the Delta crew while they were
busy running to save their own worthless skins was just that; an act. They all
saw what they wanted to, of course; for the ones who wanted the archetypical
villain, I was that, and for the ones who wanted the mad Captain Stark, well,
they got that, too.

What I wanted was, in the end, far simpler and much harder to come by.

I did what I did to get your attention. To draw you out, yes, but not...

I never wanted to kill you, Nathan. Not if I could help it.

I wanted, instead, your help... even if that help only went as far as holding
the gun to my head when I lacked the strength for it.

When I was a girl and my father was crazy, or drunk, or both, and my mother was
mourning his death by inches, you were always the one who came to my rescue.

One way or the other I wanted you to save me. Not from the world, heartless and
cruel though it was. Not this time.

I wanted you to save me...from myself.