Disclaimer: All characters or references to Andromeda belong to Tribune Entertainment, not to me.
Story Rating: R (violence and sexual situations and some language)
Summary: For twenty years, Seamus Harper lived on Earth, having to survive poverty, death and the brutal oppression bestowed upon all kludges by the Nietzscheans occupying the planet. After fleeing and finally making a new life for himself, his past comes back to haunt him as he is forced to face his past and all the events and people in it.
'The heavens burned, the stars cried out, and under the ashes of infinity, Hope, scarred and bleeding, breathed at last.'
Harper adjusted his goggles and turned on his nano welder. Sparks flew around him as he neatly cut into the panel in front of him. He moved over a bit and finished slicing through the metal. With a clatter, the panel fell off the wall and crashed onto the floor.
Harper looked down. "Oops." He mumbled, picking it up.
Dylan glanced over at him from where he was leaning against the piloting chair, talking to Beka.
"Mr.Harper, I would appreciate it if you wouldn't break my ship apart."
Harper flashed him a grin. "No prob, boss."
He turned the panel over in his hands and hammered a few dents out of it with the back of his welder. When it was as straight as it could be, he lifted it up to the gaping hole he had cut it out of. Holding it with one hand, he rummaged around in his tool belt until he found what he was looking for. Slowly, he turned the soldering wand on and started welding the panel back into place.
"Do you need some help?" Came a voice from behind him. He didn't need to turn around to know it was Trance.
He turned off the solder and took off the goggles. He grinned at her. "Thanks but no thanks purpleness. I'm done."
He noticed Trance was staring at him.
He frowned. "What?"
She continued staring at him, a confused frown on her face.
He shifted around uncomfortably. "What?"
She pointed at his arm. "What was that?"
Harper glanced down at his arm to where she pointing. All he saw was the sleeve of his navy blue shirt covering that part of his arm.
He had suddenly gone numb. Why was she pointing at his arm? Oh my God.
He gave her a big grin, hoping to divert her attention.
"What was what?" he asked, hoping his voice sounded lighter than he felt. He was slowly starting to shake, panic creeping into him. She couldn't have seen it. No way. She couldn't have.
Trance however, wasn't being shaken off. She continued frowning and pointed at his arm again.
"Those black spots on your arm. I saw them when you were lifting up the panel. What were they? They looked like stars."
Harper found the hairs on the back of his neck standing up straight. He blinked a few times to keep his eyes from widening in panic. He struggled to keep the grin on his face.
"Oh, those? Just birthmarks, Trance. Humans get them all the time. You're born with them. No big deal." He quipped, trying to keep his voice steady. He had to get out of here. He couldn't let this conversation keep on going. He had to shake her somehow. Especially now that Dylan was slowly starting to come over here too. Damn, damn, damn. She had seen them. Damn. He was always careful never to wear sleeveless shirts around any of them. Damn. Stupid panel.
She was still frowning at him.
Panic was slowly starting to make him shake.
"They're just birthmarks, Trance. Nothing special. Now, sorry for cutting this conversation short, Trance, but I got work to do in Engineering." He managed to say. Then he roughly pushed past her and nearly ran out of Command, his entire body shaking now.
He kept on walking, careful to keep the fear from showing on his face. He didn't want Rommie to notice anything and notify Dylan. Or Beka. Man, this was bad.
Damn, damn, damn. Why did she have to notice them? Why? It had been years since anybody had last seen them. Or asked about them.
For about the millionth time in his life he started berating himself for not getting rid of them. But now it was too late. Now, there would be too many questions if he was going to go and get them removed. Questions which would need answers. Answers which would get him killed.
He stopped walking and leaned heavily against the wall. Slowly, he closed his eyes and slid down until he was sitting on the floor, his head leaning against the wall.
Why now? Why now, when everything was going so well? Why did his past always have to come and bit him in the ass when everything was going well?
Fourteen year old Seamus Harper wandered along the streets, shivering from the cold. Night had come and enveloped the streets in darkness. He pulled his dirty, worn through shirt tighter around his thin frame. He was shaking from the cold. He bit his lip to keep his teeth from chattering. He didn't want anybody to hear him.
He walked along slowly, staying in the gutter. He didn't like walking on the sidewalks. Always some drunk or flash fried idiot who sat lurking in the shadows waiting for a young and weak thing like himself to walk by.
He only knew too well what one of these idiots would do to him. Either beat him up because he didn't have any money or drugs on him for them, or they would sell him to somebody to screw with and then they'd keep the money.
Neither scenerio was too pleasant.
He kept on walking, igoring the painful hunger pangs from his stomach and tightened his shirt around him.
He heard a noise beside him and instantly leapt aside, his hand instinctively going down to his shoe where he kept his knife.
He kept absolutely still, his eyes scanning the dark sidewalk. When nothing happened, he straightened up and kept on walking, his eyes still glancing right and left, ready if anyone decided to jump him.
It had been like this for months. Walking around in the gutters, begging and stealing money and food everyday and sleeping in the gutters too, waking up every few hours to listen for any drunk lurkers who might harm him.
Everyday was the same. Nothing ever changed. Some days he wouldn't get any food, some days he'd be beat up by a group of drug crazed punks, but other than that, his entire life was the same, day in and day out.
He guessed he was still in shock. That's why everyday seemed the same. So monotone. So dull. He still had a hard time getting used to the fact that he wasn't at home anymore.
He smiled bitterly as he walked, kicking the dirt with his shoes. Home.
Everybody had called the camp that. Even he had. Well, why wouldn't he? The camp had been his home for all the fourteen years he had been alive for. Where his mother had raised him after his father had left. Where he had played with his cousins for hours, running around and getting in trouble and then running away from the Nietzschean guards. Where he had run to his uncle Peter whenever his father had come back home and had gotten drunk and Seamus had wanted to run to somebody to protect him. Where he had spend endless years running around with his best friend Osim, getting into trouble together and laughing together. Where his aunt Nina had often come to his house and sat talking with his mother for hours about absolutely nothing. They had been happy. Poor. Hungry. Constantly paranoid. But also happy.
Then the Magog had to come and ruin everything.
He spat onto the ground, his eyes growing bitter with hatred.
Why did they even have to come? Why couldn't they just leave them alone? And of course, just to top things off, they had to come right after the famine too. Everybody had been too weak to defend themselves.
Everybody had tried to run. It was useless to fight. They had no weapons. Just some sticks and rocks which they had tried to throw at them. But throwing rocks and sticks at Magog was about as effective as hitting a Nietzschean with a shovel. It accomplished nothing except making them madder.
His aunt had tried to run. Seamus remembered how she had tried to run, carrying both of her little children in her arms. He had tried to run to her to help her, but the Magog had been faster. They had grabbed her and burned her entire body with their acid venom. She had screamed and had dropped her children to clutch at her face where the skin was peeling off and burning.
Seamus had run closer, intent on grabbing his cousins who now lay on the ground, trying to get up, their eyes terrified as they stared at the Magog above them. But he had been too late. An entire hord of Magog had jumped onto the two children and had engulfed them.
By the time they were done, the two had been paralysed and infested.
Seamus had tried creeping closer, his mind not letting him accept the fact that there was nothing more for him to do. Suddenly, his uncle had stared screaming at him to run. Seamus looked up and saw a Magog standing infront of his uncle, pulling at his arm. His uncle was trying to fight him off, at the same time, hysterically screaming at him to run away.
But he couldn't move. His feet seemed to be planted to the ground. He couldn't move. Even when he saw the Magog throw his head around and saw his uncle flying through the air with a scream of pain as his arm tore off and remained in the Magog's mouth.
Even when he looked down and saw his mother lying there on the ground in front of him.
She had tried to run to him. Tried to save him. But she had been too slow.
The Magog had jumped on her from behind and slammed her body to the ground and had immediately started tearing her to shreds. With one last scream of anguish, she died.
Seamus stared down at her, her entire body mangled and bleeding, so badly torn apart that he could hardly recognize her. Her entire face had almost been ripped in half, but he could still see her eyes.
They stared at up him, pleading him to help her.
But he couldn't. It was too late. Too late to save her.
He slowly bent over and softly closed her eyes. Then he turned and walked away from her body.
That had been the last time he had seen his mother.
Harper squeezed his eyes shut to keep the tears from welling up. Why did she have to die? And that painful way? Why couldn't she have died quietly in bed of old age?
But who was he kidding?
Of course she hadn't made it. Nobody had. Out of 5000 only 60 had made it. And barely 60.
Even his uncle, the strongest out of all of them hadn't made it. Three days after the attack, an infection had started in the stump of his arm. The lack of medical supplies at the camp made him basically helpless. Although Harper had stayed up with him all of those three nights, giving him water and the little food he managed to scrape together, it was all in vain. He died during the third night, but not before begging Seamus to burn his two children, not wanting them to go through the pain which would rip through their bodies as the Magog babies would start to hatch and eat their way out of the two children.
In a daze, Seamus had gone through with his wish. When the survivors in the camp had built a huge bonfire, throwing on all the bodies of the infested, he had grabbed his two cousins and dragged their paralyzed bodies onto the burning heap, ignoring the smell of burnt flesh which stung his nose and eyes.
He had quietly closed their eyes first and wished them a better life after this one. He wasn't sure what other life that was, but he knew it had to be better than this.
Any life had to be better than this.
The Nietzscheans had liquidated the camp soon after that. With only 60 people left, they didn't have the strength to grow the thousands of kilograms of crops which the Nietzscheans demanded from them every week.
They had been gathered together one day and had been ordered to leave. Just like that. Not being allowed to take anything with them, not being allowed to be given a place to go.
The Nietzscheans had never given a damn about them, and that day, it had really showed.
Standing there in the crisp morning cold, shivering underneath the filthy shirt he had clenched around himself and ignorning the hunger pangs from his stomach, Seamus glared up at the Nietzschean guards who sniffed and told them to get going. Seamus opened his mouth to mouth him off, but thought better of it. He didn't want to get another beating. He had gotten one when he had been seven. For stealing some food off a sleeping guard. It hadn't been fun. He had sworn right then and there never to open his mouth unless it was absolutely necessary.
This wasn't one of those times.
He glanced sideways and saw Osim, glaring at the guard too.
Seamus moved over a little and was about to whisper to Osim to keep his mouth shut. Complaining and whining would only get them all a beating.
But Osim didn't notice Seamus trying to keep him quiet.
He angrily opened his mouth, glaring at the guard.
"So this is it, huh? You don't need us anymore and you just tell us to get out of here?"
The guard glanced at him. "You're a quick one." He said, his eyes flashing dangerously, clearly warning Osim not to step over the line.
Seamus moved over and sharply kicked Osim in the shins, not caring whether the guard would hit him for moving without being told to. Oh, God, Osim. Just shut up.
But Osim was too angry to notice Seamus kicking him.
"Well, I gots news for ya Nietzschy, we don't need you neither so why don't you pack up and get the fuck out of here?"
The guards eyebrows shot up and his hand flashed out and he grabbed Osim by the front of his shirt and yanked him up until he was hanging above the ground, staring into the Nietzschean's eyes. Panic slowly gripped him as he started to struggle.
The Nietzschean laughed. Seamus shuddered and clenched his teeth. He hated their laughter. They always laughed. And always in such a way that it made him feel worthless. Little. Inferior. He hated their laughter.
He opened his mouth to try and save Osim, but he knew that there was nothing he could do. He closed his mouth again and turned away, not wanting to see his best friend being dragged off. But he heard him. Heard his screams, his cries for help. He had even called his name once. Begging for help. But Seamus didn't turn around and blocked out the sounds. There was nothing he could do anymore.
Seamus tripped over the sleeping form of a person sleeping in the gutter. He fell onto the pavement, scraping his knees on the hard ground. He bit his lip harder to keep from crying out. The less attention you drew to yourself, the better.
That's why he didn't try to help Osim. Not only would it have been useless, but it would have resulted in him getting beaten as well. It was selfish, he knew, but there was no other way to survive.
Osim had been dragged to the little chamber the Nietzscheans had by the gate of the camp, reserved for punishment purposes. His shirt had been ripped off and he had been tied onto the table, screaming and crying for help the entire time. Seamus hadn't turned around from where he was standing. He knew only too well what that table felt like. Knew how terrified Osim was at the moment.
Don't think about it, Seamus. Don't think about it.
He remained standing there, listening to his friends cries for help slowly change into screams of pain as the whipping started.
Don't think about it.
He tried to block out the sounds, but they tore through his mind, not letting him ignore them. They went on and on. The heavy cracking of the whip. The insane screams of pain tearing from Osim's throat.
Don't think about it.
And suddenly, there was silence. Seamus thought he had gone deaf, but then the person standing beside him coughed and he realized that Osim was dead.
He didn't know how he knew. He just did.
He saw people die everyday. Knew how silent they got when they stopped moving.
Osim was dead.
Just like his entire family, Osim was dead now too.
He blinked, shock still engulfing him.
The Nietzschean guard came out of the chamber, stripping black, blood soaked gloves off his strong hands. He came over to the small group of huddled, wasted people.
Silently, he pointed at the gate.
Slowly, without a word, the group of people started moving towards the gate, dragging their tired, wasted bodies along the ground.
Seamus slowly followed the crowd, not noticing the gate as they passed through it, not noticing when the dirt road they were walking on turned to cement, not noticing when the people around him started dropping to the ground, their bodies no longer moving, their eyes staring blankly at the sky above them.
When the shock finally wore off, Seamus Harper, age fourteen, found himself in the heart of a wasted, broken city, completely helpless, and completely alone.
He clutched his stomach as he walked along. God, he was hungry. He didn't remember the last time he had eaten something. Was it yesterday? The day before? He didn't know. It didn't matter. Thinking about it wouldn't make the hunger go away.
He had learned that very quickly too. Fantasizing about things which would never happen only set him up for more pain. So he tried thinking about the present. Not the past. Too much pain there. Not the future. Too much hope there.
He tripped over the sleeping form of a drunk lying in the gutter. He picked himself up and was about to keep on walking, when he saw the drunk clutching something in his hands. He quietly crept over and bent over the snoring body of the man. He reeked of alcohol and dirt. Seamus ignored the stench and silently slid his hands along the man's jacket, searching for pockets. Finally, he found them. He quietly rummaged around inside of them, his fingers grabbing hold of a few thrones. He yanked out his hands, growing excited by the prospect of having food soon. He was about to get up and run away, when he saw the beer bottle still in the man's hand. Seamus glanced around in the shadows. Nobody could see him.
Without another thought, he grabbed the beer bottle. Pushing himself off the ground, he ran as quickly as he could down the street.
He ducked into a broken doorway of a dirty store and huddled there, clutching the bottle and the thrones in his hands.
Suddenly, he heard the familiar sound of heavy boots stomping down the street. His eyes widened in panic and he crept further back into the shadows.
Nietzschean night patrol.
They roamed around the streets, killing anybody who came across their path. They loathed the gutter sleepers and the few druggies who lay around the streets all night and spent their nights shooting them or beating them up for entertainment.
Seamus pushed himself further back, careful to breath as quietly as possible. He had been caught by them once. He had been sleeping the gutters and they had grabbed him.
Seamus shuddered and closed his eyes at the memory. They had beaten him up and then stripped his clothes off of him and laughed at him until bitter tears of humiliation stung his cheeks.
He had sworn right then and there never to be caught by them again.
He clutched the beer bottle and took a quick sip. He shuddered and nearly spat it out. It tasted like urine. Disgusting.
But, it was still good alcohol. He shrugged and drank some more.
The boots came closer. He started panicking and started wildly looking around himself for a better place to hide. Sitting in a fucking doorway wouldn't do him any good.
Suddenly, a voice from the shadows whispered to him. "In here. Quick."
He stared around himself, wondering where the voice had come from, when a arm shot out and grabbed him and yanked him behind a piece of wood leaning against the wall.
Seamus landed on his face on the ground, the beer bottle nearly having smashed against the wall, but he quietly lay there, not daring to move.
The boots came closer and he heard one of them laughing as they slowly passed by. Seamus gritted his teeth. He hated their laughter.
He stayed lying on the ground, shaking from panic, until the sound of the boots faded away into the night.
Only then did he push himself up and brush the dirt off his shirt and turn around to see who that mysterious hand had belonged to.
He found himself facing a young boy, who couldn't have been any older than he was. He had shortly cropped, filthy black hair and his eyes were the color of pale ice. They shone in the faded light from the moon.
Seamus stared at him. "Thanks." He mumbled. The other boy shrugged.
"Nothing you wouldn't have done for me."
Seamus didn't take his eyes off him, his guard still up. He had learned very quickly that it wasn't smart to trust people quickly. It was too easy to get stabbed in the back. Slowly, he held the beer bottle towards him.
The boy was also still staring at Seamus, judging and measuring him up with his eyes. He didn't hesitate however, when the beer bottle was offered to him. He took it and took a swig. He made a face.
"Man, this tastes like piss."
Seamus grinned warily. "No kidding. But it's still beer."
The other boy smiled back, some of the suspicion gone from his eyes. "I'm Pez. Pez Madden."
Seamus continued staring at him, slowly letting his guard down. Anybody who told him their name so fast must be trustworthy.
"I'm Seamus. Seamus Harper."
The boy nodded, still smiling.
"How long have you been running around the streets for?" Pez asked him, taking another sip and handing the bottle back to Seamus.
He took a sip and shrugged. "Couple of months."
Pez nodded. "You didn't look like a newbie. I've been here almost my whole life. You got parents?"
He shook his head. "Just my dad, but he left two years ago. Haven't seen him since."
Pez brushed some of the dirt off his own filthy shirt. "My ma and pa both died in a Nietzschean raid a year ago. I've been on my own since."
He looked up at Seamus. "Hungry?"
Seamus noddded. "Haven't had a bite in what seems like forever."
Pez nodded and leapt up. Seamus stood up too and they stood there for a bit, listening to any suspicious sounds. When they heard none, they walked out from behind the wood and started walking down the street.
When they came across the sleeping form of a couple of flash fried druggies, both of them set to work rummaging through their pockets, without a word.
When they were done, they got up and ran down the street, still not talking. Only when they were a safe distance away did they show each other what they had gotten.
A piece of bread and an old chicken bone with some of the meat still on it.
Pez grinned at him.
"We make a good team."
Seamus smiled back. "Seems like we do."