To still be getting comments on a story I wrote nearly two years ago was enough to get me thinking about continuing the story. This story however exists in a large part due to a lady called Pat, whom I met recently in Atlanta where we were both seeing Gordon Woolvett at a convention. Her constant talk about Coming of Age amazed me and I found myself on my return re-reading the entire story and knowing I could tell more, so here it is... I'm not convinced that many people read Drom fanfic anymore, I hope to be proved wrong, but rest assured I've never failed to not finish a story I start, so I hope there's enough interest in this that I'm not speaking to myself most of the time:)
If you have not read the first story in this series 'Coming of Age', don't worry too much, although I will make reference to the first story its not essential you read it to know the plot for this one, but it could help in knowing a bit more about the original characters that will appear in time.
thanks again, and enjoy the ride!
Coming of Age 2: New Life
Earth was gone, destroyed by the Abyss before they had finally destroyed that glowing eyed monster once and for all. His nightmares should have ended that day, and with it all that has haunted him since he'd first encountered the darkness, all of that should have died too, but he didn't feel it.
Raising the glass to his lips, he finishes yet another drink in one go, slamming the glass down and ordering another in quick succession.
'Leave me alone.'
'We're not going anywhere, but you are.'
Seamus Zelazny Harper simply closed his eyes, before letting his head fall down to rest on his arms that in turn rested on the bar he was propping up that day. His drink never arrived, not that he ever noticed, instead he sunk into oblivion not even noticing the females that gathered him up, and physically returned him to the Eureka Maru that was docked in the space port.
Beka Valentine looked sadly over the slumbered body of her friend. Looking older but not wiser, Seamus Harper was sleeping off another hang over. Beside the bunk sat Doyle, as attentive and tender as Harper had himself programmed her, as she ensured he stayed safe in his sleep.
'I don't know what to do,' Beka finally conceded, with a hint of desperation.
'He needs time,' Doyle offered.
'It's been six months already,' Beka sighed. 'I thought living on the Maru again would give him back some of his spark, but it's not working, is it?'
Doyle looked as though she wanted to argue but words failed her, and she instead shrugged. 'Maybe we can't help him?'
'Great, so we give up on him?' Beka asked, whilst being reminded of the fact she had never completely warmed to this creation of Harpers.
Doyle looked surprised by Beka's words. 'No, but maybe if we stop trying to help him; if we leave him in peace like he keeps asking, maybe he can help himself?'
'Help himself?' Beka frowned with hidden anger. 'Like he did today, when he helped himself to my credit chip and found himself in the local bar?'
'He only did that to escape our continued attempts to get him to help us fix this ship,' Doyle reminded her.
'He's the engineer, and it's his responsibility to fix this ship!' Beka snapped, before turning and leaving the crew quarters.
Doyle checked on Harper one final time before moving the front section of the ship, knowing she would find Beka there. She was now sat in the pilot's seat, and Doyle could sense she was crying.
'Beka, I know this is hard for you,' Doyle moved around so she could look at the blonde captain.
'He's not the only one suffering,' Beka sniffed.
'He's the only one who has lost the only places he has ever called home, with the destruction of Earth, Seefra no longer the place we knew and with Andromeda being decommissioned,' Doyle pointed out.
'The Maru used to be his home too you know, not that he even seems to remember that,' Beka snapped bitterly.
Doyle could see that she had touched a raw nerve, and moved closer to Beka, putting a comforting hand on the captain's arm. 'Harper will get through this, I know he will, he did last time.'
'Last time?' Beka caught.
'When I first met him, or maybe when he first activated me,' Doyle corrected herself after some thought. 'He was a mess, just like now, and he shut himself away and wouldn't talk to anyone, well, except me and Marika.'
Beka dried her eyes, her own sudden memories of the isolation in Seefra being found and just as quickly pushed back to avoid further emotions. 'Was he really on Seefra for three years before we found him?'
'Yes, Marika told me she had found him wandering the caves disorientated, his clothes nothing but rags and he was badly injured,' Doyle recounted.
'Injured?' Beka frowned, welcoming the distraction.
'He had slashes all over his upper torso, like an animal had attacked him but there were no animals able to inflict that damage on Seefra-1,' Doyle remembered the images Marika had shown her. 'It unfortunately endeared Marika to him, as she was intrigued from that moment by Harper, and the secrets he withheld from her.'
'The Magog,' Beka realised the source of the injuries. 'The station he was on, just before Trance did her tricks in sending us to Seefra, it had been over run by Magog, but I didn't realise he had actually been attacked,' she shuddered slightly, and wished she had known that sooner, knowing it must have affected her friend in a way she hadn't considered.
'It took him a good eighteen months to fully recover, his left arm was useless for a lot of that time and the trauma, he hardly slept and a few times we had to force food into him,' Doyle remembered sadly. 'I suspect now that he built me to not only protect him, but to look after him as well, a lot of my duties involved preparing meals and encouraging him, being a friend,' she smiled fondly.
Beka considered this new information. 'Why am I only learning about this now?'
'By the time you came along he was ok again, fully mobile, eating well and had put the weight back on,' Doyle smiled. 'I guess we just didn't see the need to open up past wounds.'
'So when we arrived, would you say he was ready for a new challenge?' Beka now queried.
'I would say you arrived just as he was starting to establish himself, finding his feet in a world gone mad, yes,' Doyle agreed.
'When Dylan found me, I was finally getting my head together after six months of hell and was able to accept my new position in the universe, going back to my old tricks,' she stressed, sitting up now.
'So are you suggesting that Harper spent three years on Seefra because it was the time he needed to prepare himself for the challenge we faced in destroying the Abyss?' Doyle realised.
'That's exactly what I'm saying,' Beka enthused. 'Rhade only needed nine months to work out his anger to a point he could be semi-reasonable again, and Dylan, well, he just needed a blink of an eye to be ready for that fight.'
'Why did Harper need the longest time? He didn't need to be physically ready for that fight, his mind remained sharp and ready for any challenge,' Doyle then asked. 'He built me, and had tech not been banned in Seefra he could have probably achieved a lot more while there, offered so much to those people in need of something,' she stressed.
'Maybe his mind wasn't ready for the challenge of the Abyss, or the Magog, his greatest fear,' Beka frowned. 'He was in a strange place, mentally, just before we found ourselves in Seefra; he had a lot going on. He'd started to make mistakes that were beginning to cost us, where his decisions raised concerns.'
'I don't understand,' Doyle admitted, and saw Beka frown.
'He started to disobey orders, and mess with systems that shouldn't have been touched, he was losing Dylan's trust,' Beka remembered the time bridge, and reprogramming Andromeda's systems. 'Maybe he had got too comfortable, too reliant on us as a crew to look out for him, to save him,' she pondered idly.
'I never felt that,' Doyle admitted. 'He didn't have much trust from any of you to begin with, you judged him, when you all first arrived on Seefra, if anything you all seemed to resent that Harper had made a life for himself there,' Doyle remarked.
'To us it seemed Harper had slipped back into old ways, survival ways that were not the conventional ways we approved of, but maybe he needed that time away from us to revert back to that state, having him as sharp as he'd been on Earth, that certainly helped us in the long run,' Beka realised.
'Harper felt at the time, when you all reappeared in his life, that you all hated him, he turned back to the drink during that time,' Doyle remembered sadly.
'Let's not get into this again, regardless of our arrival I think I'm beginning to know why Trance did what she did, we weren't ready and we all needed our own space to get ready for the fight, she helped us by separating us for a time so we could grow stronger in our own way for when the final fight arrived,' Beka sighed and let her head drop back against the seat. 'And we won, she did right,' Beka offered sadly and moved from her seat to the back of the Maru's cockpit. 'Doyle, I know you and Harper are close, he made you that way, and you were able to spend a good three years being best buddies, but the fact is we're friends too, and we've been friends a lot longer.'
'You do not own Harper.'
'Neither do you,' Beka returned sharply.
'So why did things change?' Doyle innocently asked. 'Why did Harper start to lose the trust of his crew mates?'
'It all started in a place called Edenia,' Beka frowned and left the cockpit leaving more questions unanswered for Doyle.