I like character studies. Does it show?


I will get out of here, Father. The cell was many things, but it was not cold. It was metal, small, featureless, perhaps even dank for brief time when the environmentals had malfunctioned. But it was not cold.

The Bureau were adept jailers. Sette had never harbored real thoughts of escape, which was just as well. There were no weaknesses in the system to exploit, and even if she could escape from this cell, there was nowhere to go. That had been the point of the Orbital Penal Complexes: even if you could escape your cell, there was only hard vacuum outside the walls of the prison itself.

But they were not cruel jailers, and the cell was never cold. She never wanted for food or water. When her cybernetics malfunctioned, they were fixed. When she felt ill, they treated her, without even her needing to say something.

I will get out of here, Father. They were not unkind. She had options for recreation as well. A hand gesture could have summoned something to read or watch.

It was, in fact, a better existence then she had had before by most measures; she didn't have to fight, and her access to reading materials was considerably less restricted.

She did neither. She sat upright on her bed, or she slept in the same posistion, save when she ate or had to relieve herself. And she thought, contemplated. It might even count as meditation, if you discarded what she was thinking about. It had started small, after all. It hadn't even been about her at first, but about Tre. Then with a moment of genuine horror she had realized Uno was a part of it too.

I will get out of here, Father. Jail had tried to kill her. To kill them. Her father had, by both his action and inaction, nearly killed her. When Quattro had decided to collapse the base in a rather spiteful attempt on Testarossa's life, Testarossa had quite reasonably warned Jail that it would kill him too. Jail Scaligetti, being himself, had a backup plan for his own death as well. But he didn't have one for the deaths of his servants.

That meant that Quattro had also tried to kill her, Tre, and Uno. And there would be no coming back for them. Jail might be reborn good as new, but they would not. Oh, perhaps Jail would ressurect them in time, new bodies, but their memories, their personalities, would be irretrivably lost. And considering Quattro would by default have become the right-hand cyborg, Sette had every reason to doubt the replacements of Tre and Uno would have been anything like the originals. More like her, perhaps, but she lacked the ego to be flattered by it and had the wisdom to see that this was not necessarily wise.

Perhaps the Doctor had not realized this. And if anyone believed that, Sette was fairly sure she could also convince them they were capable of breathing the vacuum outside this prison. Jail Scaligetti was a supremely intelligent man with thought processes that worked like lightning. He would have guessed the ramifications of the scenario that played out long before they had ever actually happened. He knew that by not stopping Quattro, he would lose two of his eldest and most trusted daughters. It had not concerned him.

I will get out of here, Father. It had been mere discomfort at first. But Sette knew that her realization was significant, and she had pondered its significance. Discomfort had grown to bitterness. Father had always taken care to present himself as a loving, caring man to his daughters. At the final extremity, forced to choose between the life of his daughters and slaving his wounded ego, Jail had chosen his ego. All the kindness, the love, had been a lie. They were tools, not people. Things, not daughters.

Bitterness had grown to hate. It was the one sure emotion she had developed. Quattro had tried to remove her emotions, and it was now a point of fierce pride that Quattro had failed. The fourth Number did not control her. Other emotions flitted through her conciousness now and then, fleeting, ephemeral, and though she cherished them she could not hold onto them. In the long, silent hours she had only her hate to comfort her.

It had proved more than up to the challenge. Did she hate Quattro? With certainity. Quattro had tried to kill her, tried to kill Tre, tried to kill Uno. Sette knew it hadn't been because Quattro really wanted Fate dead; Fate was a convenient excuse that Jail would accept and approve of. Quattro wanted Tre and Uno dead because they were senior to her and prevented Quattro from direct access to Jail or lording it over the other Combat Cyborgs unopposed.

I will get out of here, Father. Did she hate Jail? Did she hate the man who had brought her into the world, raised her, trained her? She did. She hated Jail to the depths of her soul. He was a liar, yes, and despite all his intelligence and saavy she could see that in the end he had been a fool as well. He had badly underestimated the Wolkenritter and the ability of the TSAB's Navy to redeploy enough firepower to destroy the Cradle. That had been the final determinator; Chrono Harlaown had gotten there with the firepower to end it and there was no way he would not take the shot. Harlaown might end up in therapy afterwards if his friends had still been aboard the Cradle, but he would give the order. That made everything Jail had done, all his plans and preparations, fools' errands.

I will get out of here, Father. And I will ensure you never do.