Title: The Last Starship

Author: Starbaby

Series: Andromeda

Disclaimer: If I owned them I'd share.

Summary: Ah, Tyr…the body of a god and the soul of a poet. This is my attempt to crawl into that glorious, devious brain. Beware, though, this was born at 3.a.m while I was very depressed. Mucho death and angst, compadres.

The Last Starship

11/18/01

"There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it."

-----Bernard Shaw

"What is Andromeda, Father?"

Your young son asks the question on a day like any other. He is the middle boy in a pride of seven males and five females, all born of yourself and an exceptional Nietszchean woman. Your sons are brilliant, your daughters strong. You expected nothing less, being Tyr Anasazi of the Kodiak pride. Twelve perfect children and a shining jewel of a wife have restored you to your former glory. She is a worthy mate, so perfect that you can forgive the mocha color of her hair and skin, and simply replace it in, in your mind's eye, with the tawny gold of sunrise and young lions. She comes from good stock, and it doesn't matter that her eyes lack the fire--and her name the lyricism--of a Rebeka Valentine.

Once, just once, she asked you this question, but you turned away. It was in the night, when you awoke, shaking and beaded with sweat, from a dream of the Magog. Per usual, you were drowning in a sea of fur and claws, with the screams of the other ringing in your ears. That you cared at all for his suffering was, in many ways, more frightening than death. When your good wife returned to sleep, you rose and checked on your twelve sleeping possibilities, prowling the hallway, keeping watch, as you did in the weeks after the world ship, when screams from various quarters would rend the night and bring back the horror. She could never fathom the terror of that heart-rending, blood-drenched day, or the tragedy of what came later. So you turned away.

But, this time, the question is asked with the wisdom and grace of a child.

"The Andromeda was a ship. A beautiful ship."

You are always honest with your progeny, and, in return, they are mannerly, and truthful, and speak when spoken to. The starship was beautiful, in all her incarnations, as a bright, steel giant hurtling through slipstream, as a face on the viewscreen, and as the avatar they called Rommie.

Andromeda Ascendant…the last of the mighty Highguard fleet…

Nothing remained of her, now, except, perhaps, scraps of metal still floating in subspace. That happened years after you left, when only Dylan Hunt and Trance Gemini remained. You have nothing of those years, not even the photo taken late in the journey, when the purple girl thrust her camera into your hands. You snapped the shutter out of curiosity, and the result was flawed, blurry, and tipped at an angle, but she presented it like a cache of Drago-Katsov gold. If, sometimes, you wish that you'd taken the picture with you, that's only because it is a souvenir of a great adventure, not because of the people captured within the frame, some sprawling at their stations and others sitting bolt upright. Dylan Hunt occupied the left-hand corner, dressed, as always, in the uniform of the long dead Commonwealth Argosy. He wore it, you are certain, until the day he died.

"Who flew the ship?"

All of you, at one time or another, by choice or by necessity. Some were more successful than others, you recall, remembering how Trance Gemini flew straight into the battle of Witch head. But, most often, it was her. Whatever demons plagued the Captain of the Maru, her piloting skills were the stuff of legend. It wasn't lack of talent that killed Beka Valentine, just bad luck. She simply ran out of time. A spark in the shuttle's engine, and you were left with only the memory of her in starlight, in the Broken Hammer, and in gardens green.

"A girl." Your answer is simple.

But its been so long since you thought of them in those plain, concrete terms--as the preacher, the Captain, the alien. The boy. You couldn't save him, in the end, so he saved himself from a horrible death by Magog larvae. When there was no hope left, he took his own life, down in the heart of the ship, among his engines. You remember shaking the little man's body like a rag doll, and the sense of déjà vu that swept away all your hopes.

"Wake up!"

He never did. Nor did Rev Bem, on the morning they found him dead in his quarters, probably the victim of age. Somehow, you know he went with the name of the divine on his lips, trusting in his God. And what of Dylan Hunt, the idealist? Some said the tragedies broke him, but you disagree. It was the death of the dream that stole the spring from his step and the mad, determined gleam from his eye. Still, he fought on, even with the bitter knowledge that there would be no rebuilding of shining Tarn Vedra, no return in glory. Then, slowly--so slowly--he lost his drive, and the Andromeda fell into disrepair. The avatar flickered out of existence one day, calling code red in the corridors of a ghost ship.

You escaped with the corpse of your prophet. You couldn't stay. That way lay death.

"What was the Captain like?"

You think for a long time, remembering how it was to wake in the night and hear the rhythmic slap of a basketball hitting the floor, decks above. You knew it was him, formulating insane plans, even at the stroke of midnight. You remember his friendship and his gloriously devious mind. You remember his good heart.

"He was…a dreamer."

You take your sons hand and lead him out into the sunlight. You're ready, now, to tell the story. No one knows it but you, except, perhaps, Trance Gemini, who disappeared after the ship's destruction, just like her mysterious counterpart. You wonder if she'll come again someday.

You begin in the middle, when the paths of the Andromeda and the Maru converged.

"The first time I met Dylan Hunt, he'd just woken up from a three hundred year nap on the event horizon of a black hole. He was not pleased…"

FINIS