Chapter 7 -- Atomsk's Heir
"I want your forgiveness above all, and I want you to be able to call me 'mother,'" Atomsk said. She was about 5'7", blue eyes, and black hair to the middle of the shoulder blades, and in her mid-thirties, apparently.
Naota froze. Rehara's mouth dropped open. "Dude…you're a chick?"
Atomsk rolled her eyes. "No, I am a sexless being. But when I become human, I have to assume a sex. Twenty years ago, I went to Earth and took on this form, and stayed there for about seven, eight years. Then I got bored and moved on."
"You…you can't be my mother. You just can't," Naota said.
Atomsk looked at him. "Can't I be? You are the most powerful channeler in the galaxy by far, and I mean by far, even though you come from a planet where only a handful of people can even be called channelers, and they are some of the most pathetic that side of the galaxy? You think you just randomly evolved the ability, in a single generation? Your N.O. channels have been open for nine months without any but the slightest sign of decay. In the first week you channeled two guitars and a whole gaggle of giant robots without experiencing the slightest sign of duress, and in the last week you channeled a specific object from the literal opposite end of the galaxy without complication. That alone is proof that you are at least a thousand times as powerful as the next most powerful channeler in the galaxy. Where did that power come from, Naota? It came from your mother. Me."
"Why did you drag us out here, Atomsk?" Haruko asked. "You said that it was to help your son, and if Ta-kun was your son, we could have helped him at any time. What does he need help with, anyway? He seems fine, to me."
"Gee, I don't know, you mean aside from the black hole in his head where his brain should be, having powers of a god but not the training or wisdom to use them properly, or the fact that the woman he loves wasn't going to come back for him?"
"I was too going to come back for him!" Haruko said.
"You wouldn't have been in time. Weren't you listening to my story? I went there twenty years ago. Naota is a little over a decade old. You would have returned in three of four decades, by which time he would be the equivalent of a four- or five hundred year old man," Atomsk said. "Didn't you notice? What about you, Rehara, didn't it strike you as odd when he told you he was twelve local years old?"
"I thought he had used the wrong word," Rehara said.
"By the time you would have returned for Naota, he would be an old man," Atomsk said.
"I…I didn't realize," Haruko said.
"Because of us, he would never again be a normal Earthling," Atomsk said. "I awakened his powers, and you used them. I take the full burden of the blame, though; you were just a pawn in my game to destroy Medical Mechanical. Living in Naota's head made me realize that playing with people's lives was wrong."
"You expect me to believe you had nothing but the best intentions in mind?" Haruko asked.
" Well, maybe not nothing but the best," Atomsk said, smiling sweetly.
"Damn it, Atomsk, tell us the truth," Haruko demanded.
"I always tell the truth, Raharu; even when I lie," Atomsk said.
"Don't play with me; what did you do?"
"Your world is now at war with Medical Mechanical," Atomsk said.
"What! They can't win! MM has control over worlds across the galaxy!" Rehara said.
"This was why you did it like this, isn't it?" Haruko demanded. "You framed MM for crashing that ship into our planet, and I helped you do it! You evil, maniacal bitch!"
"If you're worried that this war is built on false pretenses, relax. They wanted a reason to kick MM of their planet for a while. I just gave them an excuse. Besides, they had access to Canti's memories. You can download a robot's memories, remember? They knew that since both of us couldn't be right, it was a fifty-fifty chance that what I was telling them was…wrong. They wanted the excuse, and they used it," Atomsk said. "If, however, you're worried about losing the war," she shrugged, "well, you have the might of the Pirate King backing you."
"You'd really throw in with us? That's not your style."
"Me? No. Didn't you hear? I'm retiring. Naota is the new Pirate King," Atomsk said.
"What? How am I supposed to do anything about that?" Naota demanded.
"You'll have Raharu to help and train you. Raharu, I believe I promised you power, correct? Well, here he is."
"This isn't what I meant," Haruko said.
"Well, tough. It's what I meant, and I'm the one who made the promise," Atomsk said. "Besides, you really shouldn't bitch. You're getting what you want, if in a roundabout way."
"Why are you doing this?" Haruko asked.
"Because you love him, and I know that you will take care of him. Someone has to. He has a gaping hole in his head and no way to control what comes out of it, for the love of gods. Even I don't know everything that can come out of that, and I know pretty much everything that goes on in this galaxy," Atomsk said.
"If you're his mother, why don't you do your duty to your offspring and raise him?" Haruko demanded.
"I am hardly a proper role model," Atomsk said. "I'm amoral, ruthless, callous, and until recently I didn't really care about him. Also, human life is cheap to me. I have lived for millions of years and in that time I have seen humanity itself rise and go extinct a dozen times. That sort of thing tends to make you a little callous."
"Yeah, I could imagine," Rehara said solemnly.
"No, you can't, just imagining it would make you value human life less," Atomsk said. She sighed, "When I think about it that way, it seems to be obvious that I should have left a long time ago."
"And you're going to trust the fate of the galaxy to Ta-kun and myself?" Haruko asked.
"The way I figure it, even if you screw up completely, I have seen worse," Atomsk said.
"Didn't you just say that you saw the human race go extinct twelve times?" Naota demanded.
"Oh, more than twelve," Atomsk said. "I'd pay to see you top that.
"Anyway, this is my gift to you, my son. You will be with Raharu, the way is paved to the end of Medical Mechanical, and you are now the most powerful creature in the galaxy. The path will not be easy, but nothing worth doing is. Or so they say; I wouldn't know."
"But I don't want to be the most powerful being in the galaxy, and I don't really know enough about Medical Mechanical to have any real emotions about them," Naota said.
"No, those were my wishes," Haruko said.
"And you'll have them. Naota controls the most powerful force in the galaxy, and you control Naota," Atomsk said. "You see what I was doing now? The path is laid before you, I have arranged things so that you can walk it."
"But if we stumble from the path you picked out for us, we'll crash and die," Haruko said.
Atomsk shrugged, "Ever heard of the carrot and the stick?"
Naota stared at her. "Are you serious? Jesus Christ, I'm glad you didn't raise me!"
Atomsk smiled smugly and bowed. "Look, it may seem a little harsh, but I can't really help it. I am literally entrusting you with the fate of the galaxy, even if just for as sort a time as your lifetimes and however long it takes for the repercussions of your actions to ripple into nothing. Screw ups can't be tolerated. No matter what you do with the galaxy, you're going to need each other, you're going to need the power, and you're going to need the N.O. channel conjunction under this place or one very much like it. A hole in your head the like of that, you'll need a place like this just to defend yourself. Don't worry, you'll learn, and you'll live, and if you're not happy it will be entirely your fault. I'm literally giving you the keys to the galaxy here."
"But…you haven't told me anything. I have this great power, and I don't know how to use it, you saddle a war on my shoulders, and I'm on the opposite side of the galaxy as my home planet, when only a handful of Earthlings have even left it. I'm lost and confused…"
"You'll learn," Atomsk said. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm leaving. All this yakking is driving me mad." She turned into a giant bird, and flew away.
"Wait! What about--?"
"There's a manual in the computer's files, it ought to tell you everything you need to know," Atomsk shouted back before disappearing from sight.
"Talk about one weird week," Rehara said.
"I've had weirder," Naota said.
"Oh, yeah?" Haruko asked.
"You should know," Naota said. "You were there."
Author's Commentary (As If You Care)
Yeah, I know the last chapter is short, but what can I say? I was kind of building it like a Sherlock Holmes thing where everything is revealed and explained in the last chapter, and when I managed to do that in half the allotted space, well, the story ended.
This is actually one of the first stories I ever set out to do. It was in the same folder as Never Trust a Demon from when I just started visiting this site, but if you're reading this than you probably read the commentary on chapters 1-4, and so know all about that.
I am particularly proud of the twist. It was the singular stroke a brilliance that kindled the flame of this story to life (am I mixing metaphors?). Yes, it was planned from the beginning, and even after forgetting the story for god knows how many months, the first thing I remembered when I looked at this manuscript was that at the end, it's supposed to turn out that Atomsk is Naota's mom.
I didn't really go into as much detail as I would have liked about the alien cultures, customs, etcetera encountered in this story, which was unfortunate, but seems to happen to me a lot. Rehara's world was supposed to give you the feeling of a hot, dry place, and I hoped it did. Chyochi was supposed to feel like, well, I guess like a cruise liner, sort of. And of course, there was supposed to be a lot of blue. I think that Chyochi, at least, conveyed the way it was meant to. I never got into the pastel colors of Rehara's world. Also, I had this idea for this whole sub-adventure that was supposed to happen on Chyochi, but I didn't get to a computer fast enough, so now it is lost to memory. Ah, well.
The first response I got to the first four chapters commented on how Naota forgot Haruko's guitar, and I swore to myself. You see, Naota had a really good excuse for forgetting it: because I forgot it. I did manage to work retrieving it into the story rather smoothly, however, so it was for the best.
I hope you liked it, and if you did, you should also read Don't call me Ta-kun. (I make it a point to always plug those works of mine that are in the same whatever, series, I guess.) That one, I remember, was inspired by "Firestarter" (episode 2, I think). I say so here because I never did there.
Thanks for reading, hoped you like it, please R&R, and all that other crap. No, seriously, though.