The Unwilling Vacationer
Earth. Though he had never seen it, he had heard stories about it from his grandmother while living on Adonic-5, a small colony planet on the edge of the terminus systems. She described it him as "the glorious home world of humanity, the birthplace of our species which I hope you will all get to see one day, if we can ever afford it." Though described to him as his home away from home, to Mike Reynolds, Earth was just as alien to him as any other planet he'd been on, even though his species had been stuck on this rock for millions of years. He looked out the window of the transport vessel as it passed over the city of London, first noticing the iconic image of "Big Ben" soaring past him at breakneck speeds as they approached the spaceport just outside of the city.
Mike lay back down against the head rest of his seat, contemplating why he had to be here, then having the images from his mother's message to him flash through his mind, the message of his father's death. In truth, Mike and his father, Joshua, had some bad blood between them for the last 10 years, mainly due to their difference of opinion on "those damned alien freaks". Mike's father was a xenophobe in every sense of the word, he hated aliens, every last one of them, to the point where Mike even suspected that several occasions where his father claimed to be out on "business", times when Mike was playing in a game of baseball or on birthdays and wished that his father could be there for him, were, in fact, outings with some of his anti-alien buddies to terrorize a local turian colony. He'd heard was having problems around the same times his father would be gone, so he began to have suspicions, but that's all they were for a time. Then, one night, on his 18th birthday, his suspicions were confirmed.
At that point, they had it out, Mike called out Joshua on his terrorist escapades, his father telling him he "had to do something about those damned aliens hogging up our colony rights". Mike screamed at his father, enraged that he would simply throw his own son aside to get back at aliens that had never done anything to him. After a long hour of arguing, his father did something he had never done before, he smacked Mike across the face. Mike did the only thing he could think of to answer the action; he punched him square in the face, then walked out. Mike's mother begged him to stay, but he quickly convinced her that he had to move on, and that his father's actions proved to him that he can no longer live on their home colony in peace. That night would be the last time he would ever speak to his father.
After traveling from planet to planet for a while looking for a job, he finally stumbled upon a company called Eses Ventures, a group of amateur asari achaeologists, he soon found that they were headed to a planet in batarian space that was rumored to be the final resting place of an ancient prothean artifact. He introduced himself to the head of the group, Narala Cantalin, and explained that he could be their protection for the trip, as they were sure to run into batarian scavengers or slavers. Growing up on the edge of Terminus space made sure that he knew how to handle a gun, especially since his father was so untrusting of any alien life. Though she at first hesitated, she soon agreed and hired him on as their "military escort", her fancy way of saying "hired gun".
The expedition went about as well as one would expect when one attempts to travel into batarian space. A group of batarian slavers attacked the group, but luckily for the group, especially Mike, it was a small and inexperienced band, so Mike was able to take out a few of them easily, scaring off the rest. There would be a couple more skirmishes, but the reward was well worth it, as the treasure hunters found a prothean data cache, worth many thousands of credits, earning Mike a permanent position as their "head of expedition security" as Narala coined him. They hired on a few more mercs and went on many more trips after that, garnering quite the reputation among the amateur treasure hunter community. All in all, Mike had a pretty good position in life, he wasn't rich by any means, but he live confortably.
His mother would call from time to time to check up on him, which he looked forward to, right up until the inevitable subject change to his father. He never cared what his father was up to and always told her to simply exclude him from the conversation, until, that is, a couple of nights ago.
Incoming call from Julia Reynolds.
Julia Reynolds (JR): Honey, it's Mom, please pick up.
Mike Reynolds connected.
Mike Reynolds (MR): Mom, what's wrong? You sound stressed.
JR: Mike...there's something I have to tell you.
MR: What? What happened?
JR: It's...*sob*...it's your father.
MR: What? Did he hit you? I swear to God if he's started hurting you I'll-
JR: No honey, it's not that...your father...he's gone.
MR: What do you mean gone, he left you?
JR: No...he...he had a heart attack last night and...*sob*...they couldn't...oh God...
MR: A heart attack? You mean...he's...
MR: Mom...I'm...I'm sorry.
JR: Honey...I know you and your father didn't get along, but it would mean so much to me if you were here for his funeral.
MR: ...Ok Mom, for you, I'll be there.
JR: Thank you sweetheart...I love you.
MR: I love you too, I'll be there tomorrow.
JR: If you don't mind, could you stay on a little longer? I...I just need somebody to talk to right now.
MR: Sure Mom.
When he arrived at Adonic-5, his mother was waiting for him at the airport, already in her funeral attire, as was Mike. Mike wasn't sure how to feel about all this, on one hand, he hated his father for all his lies and xenophobic activities, as well seeing fit to smack him for expressing his opinion; and on the other hand, he was still his father, so he still felt some somber feelings towards his death. Either way, his mother was crushed by his death, so he had to suck it up and be there for her, he owed her that much. The service lasted a good 2 hours, different friends of the family came up to the altar and gave eulogies on how much they respected Mike's father, much to his chagrin. He had to give his father one thing, if it was human, he was as friendly as could be, giving off the look of good Samaritan even. However. if someone's not human, he would burn their crops and poison their water supply if it meant another human colony could be built in it's stead, and that's what he hated about his father.
After everyone was done talking, his body was taken to the incinerator to be burned, then his ashes were brought to them to be scattered. Mike's mother brought them to a hill just outside of the colony, where a lone tree stood at the top. She knelt down by the tree and pointed to a series of carvings on the tree that seemed to spell "JR+JS Now and Forever". Mike's mother dragged her hand across the carving, tearing up as she did. "I know you think your father was a monster. I can't blame you, you didn't know him like I did. I didn't agree with his feelings towards aliens, but once you got him past talking about it, he really was the sweetest man in the galaxy. He loved you very much, even if he didn't show it." All Mike could do is stand there, his hand on his mother's shoulder, and listen to her words. He didn't believe them, but he listened to them none the less.
Julia walked up to the edge of the hill, her husband's urn clutched in her arms. She knew that, in her arms, what was once the man she vowed to live and die with was now cradled in a clay urn, and that she would have to let it go. He always told her what he wanted done when his time came, but she never thought she'd actually have to do it. With as much strength as she could muster, she opened the urn, flung the contents off the hill face, effectively scattering them to the winds. She then buried her face on Mike's shoulder and sobbed.
Mike and his mother simply stood there for a few minutes and looked out over the sunset. Finally, Mike's mother broke the silence. "Honey, I want you to do something for me." Mike looked at her and said, "Sure Mom, what do you need? A box of chocolates? Tissues? A prat fall to cheer you up?" His mother chuckled a bit, appreciating his attempt to cheer her up, then became dead serious once again. "You know your father loved Earth, he always wanted to go there but could never afford to. The trip is so expensive, so he saved up for years to be able to afford it. Just a couple of days before he died, he managed to save up enough money for a trip...for the both of us." Mike looked at her, puzzled. "Yeah, I know, sometimes all he wanted to talk about was how much he dreamed to take all of us there one day. What about it?" Julia walked over to the edge of the hill, looking out at the sunset, and said, "I can't possibly go to Earth now, I have too many responsibilities with the hospital, since the outbreak of Riker's disease over at Ripley's Hope, I'll be lucky if I have any time left to get out of this damn dress and into my doctor's uniform before I have more patients to deal with. So what I want you to do is this: I want you to take this money and go to Earth. Stay at a nice hotel and enjoy yourself for a couple of weeks. God knows you've earned it."
Mike could only sit there in silence until he finally managed to say, "Wha...are you sure? I mean, we could wait until you have a chance to go." His mother simply shook her head. "No, I read on the extranet that only shuttle service from here to Earth is about to change it's price for the trip, soon this money won't be enough for it. And before you offer to pay for the trip later, understand this: You're father slaved and toiled to save this money for years...I can't let all that effort go to waste, not when he did it for us. Please, take the trip and have fun, if not for your father, then do it for me." "...Ok Mom, I'll do it. I'll have fun...I promise..."
Attention passengers, we have arrived at the London Spaceport, you may now unfasten your safety belts and remove your luggage from the overhead compartments. Thank you for flying with us, have a nice day.
Mike shook himself out of his flashback and opened the overhead compartment to grab his bags. After exiting the craft, he looked out into the distance to see the beautiful London skyline, from the new buildings from the last century, to the old clock tower he'd noticed earlier. He made his way to customs to make sure the pistol he took everywhere was authorized, he didn't want to be in the middle of vacation only to be accused of being a terrorist. Walking out of the spaceport, he hailed a cab and was on his way to the city. As was usually his luck, he managed to find the one cab that had a defective autopilot, so his was being manually controlled by a human at the the cab company HQ. As was usually the case when this occurred, the "driver" felt the urge to talk to him during the ride.
"So sir, how long you plannin' on stayin' 'ere?" The driver asked in his Cockney English accent. Mike simply looked up and replied, "A couple of weeks at the most." "Excellent sir, you'll love it 'ere in London, so many historic sites to see, as well as some of the best cuisine the galaxy's ever seen." Not from what I've heard. Mike thought, remembering how he'd heard from his grandmother that England had long had a history of sub-par cuisine, even as far back as the 20th century. The cab fell silent for a while, the only sounds coming from the passing vehicles as they sped through the London skyline. After a long, awkward silence, the driver cleared his throat and said, "So, uh, you on a business trip then?" Mike thought for a moment and said, "You could say that." The driver clearly became intrigued. "Really? How so?"
Before answering, Mike took out a picture he had kept of his family for years and looked at it for a few moments. It showed Mike standing next to his mother in front of their home back on Adonic-5, Mike was holding a hotdog in his hand while his mother was holding a beer. Part of the holographic picture seemed to be corrupted, but the truth was Mike made it that way, because that corrupted part was where his father was once in the picture. After staring at it for a few seconds, Mike looked up and said, "Because, in a way, I feel like I'm just taking care of some old business."
The driver was clearly perplexed, but shrugged it off and remained silent for the rest of the trip until they finally arrived at the Buckingham Terrace hotel, a towering mass of glass and steel that must have been over 50 stories high. Landing at the halfway check-in, halfway being at the 25th floor, Mike took his bags out of the trunk of the cab, bid farewell to the driver on the front view screen, even going as far as to pay him a 15% tip, and made his way to the check-in desk. The desk gave him his room number and key and he soon arrived at his room. For a 4-star hotel, Mike had to admit, he was impressed; a 20 by 25 foot room with a nice 45-inch holoscreen, decent sized closet and a king sized bed big enough for an elcor. Mike laid his bags on the bed and then laid himself down next to him, kicked off his shoes and put his hands behind his head. Before drifting off for a quick nap, he thought to himself, One forced vacation coming right up. This is gonna suck. Little did he know how right he was.
I'm BAAAAAACK. Wow, I can't even remember how long it's been since I actually wrote something for this site. Anyway, I'm back, I've got a great story in my head and I'm ready to share it with anyone who'll read it. I'm gonna be posting up these prologue chapters just to introduce the characters and help build up the story a little. I hope you guys enjoy it and I would really appreciate a review. I've missed reading those.