Through the Looking Glass
Chapter 19: Fable
"Worlds will fall and star systems will crumble.
What was known at last will have no lasting meaning.
In the rough hour of swirling vortexes.
She will rise.
And after centuries of darkened sleep;
She will wake"
-Unknown Poet, CY 71700
Kallianax groaned slightly as she pinched the bridge of her nose.
This was not what she had been expecting to hear.
Not at all.
She had hoped that her son would have been off on some deep sabotage mission or some other violent activity to bring increased status to their family's already prestigious line. But all she had heard, she knew, would bring nothing but shame.
"So you're telling me," Kallianax said slowly. "That for the past year..." she took the same stance as her only son, face perplexed thought instead of challenging. "That you've been running around with a...mongrel team of...scavengers...who are completely beneath you, for some aesthetically pleasing kludge and her half-breed child?"
"Tell me if I got that right."
"Telemachus, tell me if that's right."
"Yes. It is."
Kallianax was silent for a minute. "Are you trying to break your mother's heart?"
Telemachus dropped his arms from their crossed position and shook his head. She was taking this exactly as he thought she would.
"She's your granddaughter."
"She's a kludge. Her mother is a kludge. Do you have any idea what this is going to do to us if it gets out that you've actually willingly bonded with this girl? You're lucky you have such loyalties in this Pride. What the others didn't say about your little 'vacation' has saved this family a black mark. A humiliation! I'm your mother. I can't have any other children. What you do reflects on me."
"It's not like your genetic worth will be questioned. And why should mine anyway-"
"It shows you're soft. If you embrace them, you pity them. How can you be an effective field leader if you sympathize? Your triumphs brought glory to our family, showed them that a sterile female could still raise a champion and now you do this. When your father's seventh wife died I took you in as my own. Why would you do this to me?"
"She's my daughter."
"Mistakes happen. There are half-breeds all over the galaxy, children by kludges, tainted blood. They're not worth counting, just because you ran across...it...doesn't mean you have to take it in."
"If you'd just look at her genetics-"
"No I won't."
"-if I can produce a child with that kind of DNA with a human-"
"So now they're human."
"-albeit her mother's genes aren't half bad-"
"I didn't hear that."
"-just think what they'd be like full Nietzschean."
Kallianax shook her head and laughed mirthlessly, nearly painfully. "You're destroying all of your chances here Telemachus. You can't possibly be thinking of keeping them. Don't do this. Don't throw away all you've worked for for nothing. Because that's exactly what you'll do if you leave again. You're not in the field, you're not anywhere. You might as well be dead to us."
"Don't say that."
"It's true! And you know it too! What you need to do right now is forget about those kludges and settle down. Mariska is looking for a husband. Her genes are pure and strong. You'd be beautiful together. You're also a genetic reincarnation. Proof that it can be done. Your children have the highest probability of being a reincarnation of Museveni himself! The Matriarch's have said it, everyone thinks so. Yet you don't marry. You just don't-"
Kallianax gave an aggravated sigh. This whole thing must be his hated Majorum genes acting up. They lived side by side with a multitude of species. They were un-Nietzschean. Maybe it was an inborn trait. It had been delightfully dormant for years but now a damn child's in the mix. She would almost prefer the mother to be Sabra. At least then it wouldn't be a blatant tragedy. Disappointing yes, but not as embarrassing as half kludge.
If there was one thing a Nietzschean loved more than themselves it was their children. They were the future of a line, the legacy of a name.
Why did he have to start behaving oddly now?
Maybe she didn't have to tell anyone. She was an amazing liar already; and there was no point in telling anyone what Telemachus was really doing behind their backs. He was already set; she knew that once he made up his mind about something he saw it through. She'd never been able to talk him out of anything before so why would she be able to now? And truth be told, she had really grown attached to him. What had started out as her cute little experiment had turned into her son. The baby boy whose lineage had nearly given her a heart attack had become an amazing fighter and pilot, whose victories brought praise from all, and was now a man who was set to break her heart in two. Everything she had thought he'd become was now gone. If he left back for that little tramp and urchin that stole him away from his Pride then that was it.
Saying anything would tarnish the Nez Pierce name. They would become fools drenched in their own over superiority and stupidity for allowing a child to be brought in with no Drago-Kazov lineage. Telemachus would be known for nothing but abandoning the Pride. Everyone would be too stubborn to think loyalty to ones child because it shouldn't matter. Kludges weren't people.
Kallianax dropped to the couch behind her and rubbed her temples. The boy was always a headache, as much as she had come to love him she now understood why co-wives were such a wonderful thing. The new childless ones made great baby-sitters and even the ones with children took turns dropping them off and watching others.
"I knew you were bored but this is ridiculous."
Telemachus grinned. He knew he had won. Moving towards Kallianax, he knealt in front of her and rested his forearms on her knees.
"You can always write me," he said.
"I don't...I don't know why I'm doing this," he said, "but I have to see where it goes. I want to watch her grow. There are a few pictures on the flexi; she looks like me."
Kallianax ran her hand through his dark hair and trailed it down his face. He took her small hand in his larger one and kissed the palm.
"I'll be in touch." Kissing her hand again, Telemachus got up and left.
She looks like me.
Telemachus looked so much like his biological mother. Dark hair, hazel eyes, fiery glint and Kallianax wished, not for the first time, that he had truly been hers. For one thing he wouldn't have thought twice about marrying a few females.
Snorting she picked up the flexi beside her and played with the edges. Fanning it, she got up and decided that it was time again to fabricate yet another story.
Beka groaned as she finished going through the mail that had just come in. Among the assortments of junk that Trance seemed to thrive on, the letter from her dad asking them to visit soon,
"Aw come on! You mean we're not going to Infinity?"
"That's right Harper."
"It's because of the Nietzschean isn't it?"
"You got it."
"Can you imagine that meeting?"
"That's why we're not going."
"But I could-"
And then there was the cause for her groan.
A summons from Gerentex.
Yes, she still owed him half the payment from the Maru but after a year and nothing, she was starting to think, and hope, that he had forgotten about them and their debt.
There was nothing in his letter about the job either. She would have preferred to know what she was getting herself into before she met with him in order to formulate a Plan-B. Upon seeing how skittish Gerentex seemed to be on screen, she was more than a little worried about what he wanted them to do. A Plan-B would be good just in case. Or when dealing with Nightsiders, maybe even a Plan-C.
She didn't like shady dealings and if he was trying to do some sort of drug run she'd get the money somehow and pay him off her back. Forget working it off. She wasn't into that sort of thing, and she couldn't think of anything else that could turn out a pretty profit like he was hinting at.
"Something is troubling you."
Beka glanced behind her and gave Rev a small smile.
"Gerentex called. Seems we owe him one now."
"Gerentex...that Nightsider you spoke of."
"Has he informed you what we will be carrying?"
"No, he was kinda on the cryptic."
"Mmmmm, but we are still going to find out I presume?"
"As soon as everyone gets back."
Harper had taken Trance down to Dreigal-Six in an attempt to find some...thing...that he needed for yet another of his contraptions. She didn't even attempt to understand his quickly-spoken excited rapid fire explanation of the thing but if he found it, she was sure that he would show it to her.
And then there was Telemachus. He had gone back to Enga's Redoubt for some...familial loose ends she supposed. She just hoped he didn't bring a Dragan task force back with him.
If he comes back.
Beka sighed. This last year had been trial and error with them, trying to find a rhythm that worked between them if they were to have...anything really. And she had learned that he was more than just a pretty face; which hopefully he had gotten the same impression with her.
"You're thinking of Telemachus."
Rev's statement didn't phase her in the least. The Magog almost always tended to know what she was thinking about at any given moment.
"Why wouldn't he return to our wayward little family?"
She could hear the smile in Rev's voice and couldn't help one of her own from forming even with the insecurities and anxiety that he might not show up and just vanish from their lives forever. It was a big universe, their second meeting was a fluke. If they parted ways now she knew they'd have a big chance of never seeing each other again.
"How about some pretty little Nietzschean flashes her boneblades at him?"
Rev nodded. "What you-"
"15:54," came the Maru's male voice.
"Half an hour," said Emily dropping herself in Beka's lap, "until Harper and Trance get back and then another hour for dad."
Beka smiled into her child's hair. The faith she had in Telemachus was unfathomable. Where it came from, Beka could only guess but she supposed it had to do with a child's need to trust completely in her parents. Her mother was more cautious though. She didn't want Emily's faith to be so cruelly shattered like hers was. Beka knew all to well what it felt like to be walked out on. It was a constant in her life, all starting with Talia. She could never again call the woman 'mother'. Hopefully Telemachus would be back like he promised. She'd been disappointed by so many already and it was something that she didn't want her daughter to have to suffer through. Not if she could help it.
Beka kissed Emily's temple and tried to shut out her worries. She had managed to ignore them this long so what was an hour longer?
An hour and a half later Beka was tapping her fingers incessantly on the edge of her chair. He was late. But then again anything could have happened. Resters, ion storm, problems with the other Dragans. A multitude of things. A marriage.
Not that she cared though. Even with the year that he'd been with them, he could have still changed his mind. She might be a little fond of him but that was it. Really. Sure she was used to him now and the sex was amazing but that was it. His presence was more for Emily than anything else.
A beeping on the console brought her out of her thoughts and with it a breath was released. It was funny though. She never thought she'd be relieved to see a fighter bearing Drago-Kazov markings. Letting the smaller ship dock neatly, Beka was up on her feet and heading to the cargo bay.
Familiar heavy footsteps filled her ears as she walked in and found the missing Nietzschean already stalking towards her.
"You actually came back," Beka stopped and put her hands on her hips.
"What can I say? You've grown on me."
As soon as he came within arms length of her, Beka found herself pulled towards him and lifted to eye level. Her arms going instinctively to his neck and shoulders as his lips met hers in a demanding kiss.
"Is that a hello?" she asked breathlessly.
"I know I'm late."
"So an apology? Didn't know Nietzscheans gave those out."
Telemachus snorted. "Think what you will."
"Anyway we have a run to do so if you could put me down..."
"It can wait." His lips skimmed her neck.
"It's from Gerentex."
Gerentex. Telemachus stopped. Where did he know that name from? Creasing his brow he finally got it and growled while he dropped Beka back on her feet.
"Came to collect."
"After all this time?"
"Hopefully it won't be that bad."
"You killed the moment."
Beka laughed at his frustration as Emily killed the 'moment' even further.
Telemachus hauled the girl over his shoulder and gave Beka a pointed 'this isn't over' look before taking off with their child as she went on about how everyone left her with nothing to do.
Olivares Trust was neutral territory. Beka was comfortable there and she was known. Who could ask for a better meeting spot. Though looking over the table at the Nightsider she still didn't like the meeting. Period.
"How familiar are you with history Captain Valentine?"
"Well enough, get to the point."
Gerentex grinned. "Three hundred years ago, the Commonwealth and the Nietzscheans waged an utmost brutal war..."
"He wants us to what? Are you serious!" Harper was practically salivating when she had first broached what they were heading to salvage, his eyes had nearly popped out of his head when Beka had handed him the flexi.
"Beka are you sure this is wise?"
"Not like we have a choice. He needs salvage work and this is salvage. We're also working off debt here remember? We were also offered seven percent of profits and he didn't have to do that."
"Well he was right to!" said Harper reading over the last bit of information. "This is the event horizon of a black hole we're talking about here! The equipment we'd need for this job alone..."
"Covered. Gerentex is getting us fitted with what we'll need tomorrow. After that we head for Hephaistos."
"This is insane."
"Think we're all going die huh? That's a great attitude to be going into this with." Telemachus glared at Harper.
"Regardless we're going."
"Man, can you imagine what just seven percent of the moola we rake in is going to be? I'm going to be swimming in women and silk wall hangings. This is it, this is really the big score."
"And it's pretty too," said Trance.
Bucky cables away attached to stationary metal. Reverse engine thrusts and a big bang in the engine room and it was finished. As Beka brought them about, the pride and glory of the old Commonwealth sat perfectly still for them out the cockpit window. The salvage of a lifetime.
"Ok, I would just like to say, for the record, we rule," said Harper staring out at the magnificent ship.
Telemachus crossed his arms and snorted.
"I've seen better."
"Hey would you mind not ruining the moment here?"
Telemachus rolled his eyes. He had seen better. There weren't many who had been graced with duty in the Tartarus System but he had. 53 captured High Guard ships. Their AIs fully awake for the past three hundred years and entirely unpleasant. Their scientists were only now getting the handle on the technology to erase the artificial intelligences. The AI on this ship would probably still be still active as well...unless the blackhole's gravity completely messed with the internal systems.
Gerentex's eyes glittered as his mouth was set in a toothy grin. This was it. What he had spent the last few years coming to realize. All his dreams would finally be coming true and he would finally, finally be rich. Rich!
Letting his thoughts wander to everything he would be able to do, he stared out the window with the rest of the Maru crew at the Glorious Heritage class Heavy Cruiser.
Pride of the OldCommonwealth.
The Andromeda Ascendant.
END PART ONE.
A/N: Whoo! Finished Number One! Now I can rest a bit and go over my notes for the second chapter of this trilogy. So yes, A SEQUEL IS COMING!
Thanks for your reviews for everything and for the last chapter too! Glad you think I got Rev's characters down:) I miss him completely. Just like Purple Trance. He was the spiritual centre and when he was gone the crew had no one to turn to for guidance.
coldqueen: I hope the nine pages of this chapter made up for the short Chapter 18;)
Thanks so much: babsji, SomoneElsesDream, Martinie Party, Artemis1000, Ryua Malfoy, Beka Rhade, Snupi3, coldqueen, Sara, Rachelle, Danielle, Prin69!