TIMELINE: This is the sequel to Trial of the Eureka Maru which ended shortly before It's Hour Come Round at Last. This story picks up after the events of The Widening Gyre and Exit Strategies.
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AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is answering the question raised in Trial of the Eureka Maru that was never answered. Special thanks to those who expressed interest in a sequel. While Trial of the Eureka Maru explored Beka's character, I thought why not have a story which explores Tyr's?
A SIMPLE GIFT?
Who knew one small box could be the cause of so much trouble?
Granted it was no ordinary box. It held secrets...or at least the key to them. Lost secrets. The secrets of legendary Nietzschean Plu Valtari. Secrets that had been hidden in the wind.
Secrets that Tyr wanted to know.
But it didn't seem like he would be finding out anytime soon. Beka avoided him, avoided the subject entirely, in fact, he even caught the inkling that she was holding some kind of grudge against him.
He had no desire to tangle with an angry Beka Valentine. He knew she prided herself on keeping her promises. And she had promised to tell him. Later. A very unspecific designation of time, he must remember in the future to get more specific dates, but it was too late now to do anything about it. He'd give her time to remember her promise and meanwhile, he could search for clues, insight into exactly what made Beka's brain tick.
It was a task of mammoth proportions, but he would start somewhere small.
He'd start with Harper.
Harper shrugged. "I don't know why she wanted the box." He'd just been working non-stop on one those upgrades that meant nothing to anyone who didn't speak mechanic, not even pausing to imbibe a Sparky cola, which accounted for his less than cheerful mood. His left hand fiddled with his medicinal inhaler that hung around his neck, a grim reminder of what they all had survived. "If you'll recall, I was as much in the dark about what was in the box as you were. Why would I know why she wanted it in the first place? Ask her!"
"Do not doubt it, Little Man. I plan to. But, having been in her accquaintance longer, I had thought you might provide me with some supposition."
"Well, in case you haven't noticed, I've got more important things on my mind." Harper rubbed his forehead wearily, without caffeine in his system, he was in danger of nodding off. The lines he was attempting to read on the flexi clutched in his right hand blurred before his eyes.
Tyr noticed his fatigue. "Shouldn't you be getting some rest, Little Man?"
"It's not bad enough that I've got Rommie as a babysitter!" Harper snapped. "Are you gonna start too? I'd be fine if I just knew where my stash of Sparky Cola had been stashed! I slave for hours trying to keep this overgrown tin can in proper working order and this is how she repays me! And if you're gonna start to I--" Harper flung his flexi with all the force his tired muscles would allow, sending it sailing past Tyr's nose.
"Do not start that with me, Little Man," said Tyr, taking a step forward and giving Harper a look that made the engineer's knees quake. "I came here to ask a question, not to become a target for your cries of self-pity. You are a survivor. To continue to be a survivor you must believe it. To believe it requires using your brain--the powers of which will become greatly impaired if your body suffers from fatigue."
"Hey, you're right," Harper replied in subdued tones. His face turned red with shame. After all, it wasn't Tyr's fault that he'd been born with a super human immune system able to withstand Trance's methods at removing Magog larvae. And, crazy as the idea had seemed to Harper at first, he'd actually come to think of this Nietzschean as his friend. He didn't need to snap at friends who expressed concern for his health. Amends were in order and tired as he felt, Harper squinted and did his best to make them. "It's just...sometimes I can lose myself in my work. It's what I'm good at...and I forget for a little while about the body hatchers. But I'm not gonna let them get me down. I'm gonna beat this!" Harper pulled his work gloves from his hands, preparing to close up shop in favor of the long- held-off and badly needed sleep.
"With that spirit, you will survive!" Tyr patted Harper's shoulder and turned to depart, resigned to the fact that the question he'd come to ask would remain unanswered.
Harper yawned. "Maybe it was a gift."
Tyr halted in the doorway and looked back at Harper, wondering if the young engineer had completely lost coherence due to his exhaustion. Had he honestly just called the Magog larvae a gift?
Harper read Tyr's dubious expression and quickly followed Tyr out into the corridor. "No! Not the worms. Beka's box. You get it? No, I guess you don't get it. I mean, it's just a guess. Like once, Beka helped me arrange a little detour to Infinity so I could be in the Pangalatic Surfing Championships. And remember how she tried to map Dylan the slipstream routes to Tarn Vedra and gave them to him as a present? It's what the boss does for her crew. She finds out something you really, really want and gets it for you when you least expect it. Total surprise!" Harper grinned sleepily at some happy memories. "Kinda strange how much the boss hates getting surprises when she's so fond of giving them. That's what the box coulda of been about. Maybe it was just your turn. Ah well! Time for me to get some shut eye." Harper shuffled away toward his quarters.
Tyr was left to ponder the the thought. A gift, hmm? Perhaps there was some merit in the idea.