Disclaimer: All characters and references to Andromeda belong to Tribune Entertainment, not me. Vex Pac's name belongs to the writers who named him but never gave us a glimpse of his character, therefore, Vex's background and character are my own creation. Feel free to borrow him at your will.
Story Rating: PG-13 (a little angsty, but knowing me, what did you expect?)
Archive: Sure, just tell me where it's going.
Summary: When Harper visits her, the Eureka Maru opens up her database and reminisces about Harper's early years aboard her.
Author's Note: First off, I didn't want to make this another long and endless story, (Raven sighs and mumbles an apology) but it just happened. I wrote a few pages, and I fell in love with it and my sister (my beta) couldn't get enough of it, so it's growing. I'm still not sure when it's going to end, but I'll see. Depends how you guys like it.
This is the lighter fic I've been talking about, but, as much as I tried to keep it unangsty, it does have my my usual tear jerkers and emotional wringers. I was going to keep it light, but then I knew that it wouldn't be an honest story. Harper's had a hard life and is a outcast in the new society he landed in when Beka picked him up. I couldn't just sweep that under the rug. Another thing, this entire thing is told from the Maru's point of view so, quite obviously, events that took place outside the Maru are only hinted at and I can't elaborate on them, but you can fill in the details using your imaginations. Also, the thing that annoyed me most about BAMSR was that Rev Bem and Vex Pac weren't on the Maru. I decided to change that. Alright, I'll be quiet now and let you read. Hope you enjoy. Feedback, as always, means the world to me and will make the muses bite quicker and make me post more chapters sooner. J
Note: Make sure you keep track of the years listed after the record number. They change. (No, really? Sometimes my genius amazes me. I will now shut up and write more useful stuff)
'When you're incapable of expressing compassion, anger or grief, you rely on your crew to express them for you.'Eureka Maru
Database Records Archive: Prologue (10088 – Present Day)
Harper came and saw me today. After Beka's routine supply run had turned sour a few days ago and had left us racing away from the station and the clutches of Nietzschean slavers, Beka had nearly fried my slipstream drive in her hurry to get out of the system. I wasn't upset. After all, her life, my captain's life, had been in danger. Besides, I knew that Harper would find time in his busy schedule of repairing and caring for Andromeda to fix me. And sure enough, he did.
My airlock whined open and he stepped through, a grin on his face.
"Hey, doll. Haven't seen you in awhile." He smiled, glancing around my empty corridors. He let out a low whistle as he looked at my coolant pipes. "You're looking better than ever. Except, maybe, your slipstream drive, but not to worry. Harper's here to fix you."
I love it when he talks to me. Beka does it too. Only, sometimes I wish I could talk back to them. Tell them how much I love it when they talk to me and treat me as if I were a person, even though I'm not.
Usually, I don't mind not having an AI persona. Too much hassle to build and too much of a strain on my systems to maintain. Not to mention that I've heard rumors about AI's turning bad. Some of them had turned violent and had killed their entire crew, or they had gone insane. Of course, I've never let Andromeda hear of these stories. They would terrify her and make her insecurities grow. We are very close and I don't wish to cause her any harm.
Harper whistled as he walked towards the engine room, his tools in his belt clanging against each other.
I did a quick scan of him, checking his life signs and his weight. It wasn't that I didn't trust Andromeda to monitor him properly and keep a close eye on him, but it was so routine for me that I did it anyway.
I was relieved when my scans came back to say that he was in moderately good health, sober, and had gained a few pounds since I last saw him.
I inwardly chuckle whenever I hear Andromeda complaining over Harper's weight. She is always worried sick when she sees that he hadn't eaten dinner, or had lost a pound or two. I always tell her not to worry. Harper is healthier now than he had ever been, and everyday, he is getting stronger.
I remember the Harper who had first stepped through my airlock, nearly five years ago. He had been much thinner. Nearly thirty pounds underweight. Andromeda would have a fit if she knew.
I turned my attention back to Harper, who was scampering around my slipstream drive, still talking to me. Telling me about what he did during his shore leave last week.
Old habits die hard.
Looking at him ducking around wires, swinging and crawling around the pipes in my engines, it's easy for me to forget what year it is.
It seems just like yesterday that he first stepped onboard behind Bobby who had towered over him.
The first time I met Seamus Harper.
Well, at least, that's what Beka thinks.
She doesn't know our little secret. The little secret that has stayed safe between Harper and I for years.
She doesn't know that I knew Harper long before she even saw him.
Database Records Archive: 1 (10083)
Specific Time: Sixth day on earth
We have been docked in the filthy space docking station on earth for about a week. I can't stand it. The berth Beka parked me in is crawling with rats, the boards are rotted through and Beka constantly complains about the unbearable stench of filth and death which clings to everything on this sorry excuse for a planet. I'm so glad I don't have a sense of smell.
We weren't going to stop here. Beka and Bobby had both recoiled from the idea of even putting a finger on this filthy hell hole, but after Vex Pac reasoned with them that we really needed those this run, they relented. Beka has refused to leave. She's stayed hole up onboard the entire time we've been here. I can't say I blame her. Bobby and Vex, armed with guns and knives, left this morning in search of a black market boss named Keeler.
We hadn't done a run in weeks. Money's running short, as are supplies, and my crews tempers. So, as soon as Beka heard through the universe's own personalized grape vine that there was a dealer somewhere who needed some weapons and supplies delivered to San Ska Ree as fast as possible, she had hastily volunteered. It was only when we were half way there that Beka realized we would be going to earth. Bobby had been doing most of the driving and Vex had been yelling out slipstream routes so neither Beka nor Bobby really knew where they were going. As soon as they saw what planet we were flying towards, they both just about yanked my controls around and ducked back into slipstream. But, as usual, Vex had intervened and had quietly said that it would only be a short run and that we really needed the money. As always, Beka listened, and, after some grumbling and cursing, so did Bobby.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Not even night time is bearable on this planet. It actually seems as if it's quieter during the day than it is during the night. During the day, people scurry past me like rats, mingling in with the filth of the gutters they crawl through. Some dig through the dumpsters which lie in alleyways and garbage cans which stand on abandoned street corners, stuffing anything edible they can find in their mouths. Others huddle in broken doorways, staring around themselves with black, empty eyes void of all hope. It's impossible to tell how old any of them are. The rags which cling to their thin, boney frames engulf them and make them all look the same. Pale, hungry and miserable.
Nietzschean patrols cruise through the streets. They roam around, pointing and laughing at various of the crouching, terrified figures who either scamper out of the way or hide in dumpsters when they pass. I'm surprised to see some of the Nietzscheans drunk. I had heard somewhere that Nietzscheans hardly ever drank. Something about alcohol rotting their liver. Well, just like the humans here are the exception to all others in the universe, so are the Nietzscheans.
The patrols don't cease during the night. Now, they roam around, kicking snoring drunks out of the gutters or yelling and beating people huddled in doorways who were trying to sleep.
But unlike the monotone activity of the Nietzscheans, the streets come alive at night.
People come out of broken buildings, scampering out of glassless windows and some even hoist themselves out of the dumpsters they had spent the day sleeping in. I'm surprised to see the man holes in the streets being lifted and seeing figures crawl up from the sewers. I'm surprised, but not entirely disgusted. Personally, with Nietzscheans roaming around, I'd live underground too. Slowly, sound starts filling the dead streets. People gather in groups, talking and laughing, the air filling with such vile language that I nearly wince. Needles and bottles of beer are thrown from one person to the next. Apparently the concept of diseases being transmitted this way has never occurred to them. Well, considering where we are, this isn't surprising.
The drunks who had been kicked out of their sleeping places earlier that day returned and slumped over, snoring peacefully. Children lurking in street corners scamper amongst them, and with quick fingers steal bottles of beer, shoes and scraps of food which the sleeping forms have on them. I see prostitutes standing on street corners, talking amongst themselves or 'conducting business' in the alleyways. Bobby calls it something else, but Beka hates the way he refers to it, so she just calls it what I call it. It really is politer.
I am amazed at this world. These people. I'm appalled by the filth and misery which surrounds them and out of which they had built their lives. But what surprises me more is how they have survived, and some, with a smile on their faces.
Little did I know that my engineer would be one of these people. A person who had spent his entire life living amongst these people, and yet, had come out the other end smiling.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Onboard myself, things are quieter. Vex Pac is quietly sleeping on his bunk, and Bobby is stretched out on the bed beside him. Beka is sleeping alone in her room. Bobby had come to her earlier that night, but she had said that she wasn't in the mood. I couldn't blame her.
My entire crew sleeps peacefully and there isn't a sound, except for the quiet trickle of water from a leaky coolant pipe, and the hum of the corridor lights which are never turned off.
Suddenly, my attention is diverted by two figures outside.
The man hole directly in front of my berth had been quietly lifted, and a blond head appears. His thin face looks pale in the dim light of the broken street lamp, as he cautiously looks around, before looking down at someone standing below him and nodding.
Pushing the metal cover aside, he pulls himself out of the sewers with the easy practice of someone who had been doing so their entire life. Crouching down, he scampers closer to me. Another figure, a darker haired one, appears from the hole and crawls over to the blond one.
Both of them glancing around nervously, they reach down and simultaneously pull knives out of hidden pockets in the bottom of their pants. Neither of them are wearing shoes. After the blond one glances around one more time and then nods at the other boy, they crawl over to my airlock.
As the dark haired one reached up to pry open my airlock, the blond one yanked his hand back down.
"Don't touch it, idiot!" he hissed at him.
The dark haired kid frowned at him. "What do you mean, don't touch it? How the fuck else are we gonna get inside, genius?" he whispered back.
The blond one rolled his eyes. "Think, stupid. This bucket's a cargo hauler. It's probably got a hold on top of it somewhere. Should be easier to get into than the door."
My attention was momentarily diverted.
Bucket? He called me a bucket?!
Grabbing hold of the metal ridges of my outside walls, the two of them quietly scampered up my sides and towards my cargo hold.
Their bare feet didn't make a sound and they climbed with the agility and gracefullness of two alley cats.
They reached my cargo hold in seconds. Not even stopping, they used their knives and their hands to yank open my doors. When one of my doors opened with a quiet groan, they both climbed over the side and dropped inside, landing on the metal floor below them without a sound.
Their knives clutched in their hands, they nervously stared around, their eyes piercing through the darkness around them.
Their pale, thin faces made them look like ghost as they stared around. The dark haired one quietly pointed at the ladder leading to my lower decks. Without a word, they ran across the floor, and scampered down the ladder. They were so quiet that the trickle of water from my pipes sounded out of place in the silence.
The two thieves quietly crept along the corridor. That was when I noticed that their faces weren't the only things which looked out of place on them. It was their eyes.
The blond one had deep, blue eyes the color of the ocean, and the dark haired one had pale blue eyes which glimmered like ice. Their eyes looked starkly out of place in their pale, dirty faces.
The blond one sniffed the air around him.
He pointed down the corridor towards the crew quarters. "The people are down there." He whispered.
The dark haired one nodded and together, they quietly crawled down the corridors towards my kitchen.
I had become increasingly worried when I had seen them starting to walk towards the crew quarters. It wasn't like I had a lot of valuable on me at the moment, but still. Beka's personal belongings are lying all over her room, and I knew that she'd be devasted if any of them were stolen. Like the picture of her and Rafe when they were kids, or her CD's, or the sweater her dad had made for her years before. I was worried over my systems too. From painful past experiences, I knew how easy it was for thieves to rip out my consoles, dismantle my engines and monitors, or unscrew my viewscreens from the ceiling and steal them.
However, when I saw the two of them running towards the kitchen, I sighed of relief. But at the same time, I was curious as to what they wanted.
They didn't act like they were new at breaking into strange ships in the middle of the night, so I knew that they knew that they had missed my engine room and the cockpit by a few corridors, and they had deliberately turned away from my crew quarters.
But when I saw them enter the kitchen and head directly for my cupboards and my fridge, I knew what they wanted.
The dark haired one rummaged around in the fridge, pulling out the leftover pizza from dinner and stuffing a slice into his mouth and taking a sip from the milk carton. The blond one leapt onto my counter, and opened my cupboards. Pushing a few cans aside, he reached towards the back and grabbed an old pea can. Using his knife, he tore the can open and used his knife as a spoon as he shovelled the peas into his mouth.
I had seen many things over my life, but I had never seen thieves who broke in and risked their necks because they were hungry. Judging from the speed they were shovelling food into their mouths and from their stark thin frames, I knew that they were probably a good deal more than hungry.
I quietly watched them as they dug around in cupboards, pulling out more cans and opening up buckets of nuts and dried fruits. I noticed how careful they were not to take too much of anything and not to take anything which would easily be missed.
The dark haired one had made his way over to my counter and had found what I saw was the sugar bowl. Taking the lid off, he peered curiously into the bowl. Carefully dipping his finger into it, he licked his finger. Immediately, a brilliant smile stretched across his face.
"Shay!" he whispered, whipping around. "You got to try this!"
The blond one—Shay or whatever his name was—turned around and peered at the white powder.
"Looks like crystal." He mumbled.
The dark haired one waved a hand at him. "Nah, just try it. It's really sweet."
Cautiously, the other kid dipped his finger in and tried it. Right away, his eyes sparkled and that exact same grin appeared on his face.
"Shit! This is good. Man, Pez, when you dig 'em, you dig 'em good." The blond one mumbled, dipping his finger again.
The dark haired one—Pez I gathered—rolled his eyes at Shay and then yanked the bowl out from underneath his fingers.
"We take anymore, then tomorrow they're gonna have Ubers all over this place. You know they just have to sniff around to know it was us."
Shay rolled his eyes. "Fucking Nietzscheans."
Pez laughed, his pale eyes shining in the dim light.
Quietly, the two of them straightened up the cupboards, closed the fridge and put the lid back onto the sugar bowl before creeping along my corridors towards the ladder.
Scampering up it, they quietly ran over to the open cargo door, through which the dark night sky peered at them.
Quickly, they ran over to my walls and climbed up them, using pipes and dents in the walls as footholds. Crawling up my walls as if they were monkeys, they reached my ceiling and swung themselves around until they were able to hoist themselves out of my cargo hold.
Shay reached the door first, and then reached down and pulled Pez out of it.
Quietly, they pulled the door shut and then jumped down, landing soundlessly on the rotting boards of my berth.
Coming as quietly as they had come, their knives still clutched in their hands, they ran over to the open man hole. Sitting down, they swung themselves down into the sewers and then pulled the metal lid down over their heads, leaving nothing behind except the dark night and the busy streets.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
They came back the next night. And the next. I got so used to my hungry night time visitors that I found myself looking forward to their visits.
After a few nights, we had settled into a quiet routine. The two would emerge from the sewers directly in front of my berth a few hours after everyone onboard was asleep and quietly crawl up to my cargo hold. They'd hoist open the door and drop inside and quietly make their way to the kitchen. Once there, they'd go through the fridge and the cupboards, taking handfuls of food and stuffing some crackers or chunks of cake into their pockets to take home. They never made a sound when they came and when they left, and they were so careful with the amount of food they took that Beka, Bobby and Vex never suspected a thing.
After that first night, Bobby had torn open the fridge in the morning, rummaging around for the pizza. I would have held my breath, had I any breath to hold, as I prayed that he didn't notice the missing slice which Pez had taken. But, asides from frowning at it a bit, he just shrugged and took another slice.
I guessed my young thieves relied as much on their own silence as they did on the sloppiness of the people they stole from. Besides, Bobby wouldn't have noticed if they would have taken the entire fridge.
The only food item, rather, beverage, he took careful stock of and guarded as if they were his children, were his bottles of whisky.
Shay found them on the third night. Carefully unscrewing the lid, he'd sniffed it, grinned and took a swig. He'd held it out to Pez, who just wringled his nose at him and had turned to the sugar bowl. Laughing quietly, Shay took another sip, then screwed the lid back on and carefully put it back up on the shelf.
The next morning, Bobby dragged himself into the kitchen, bleary eyed and yawning. Right away, he headed to the shelf and took down the same bottle my blond haired thief had drunk from a few hours ago. Unscrewing the lid, he took a sip, before slowly putting it down and licking his lips. A frown formed on his face and all signs of fatigue vanished.
Turning around, the bottle in his hands, he roared down the corridor. "Who the hell has been drinking from my whisky?!"
Beka's laugh floated down from her room. "Oh, damn, I didn't think you'd notice, you know, me being the huge alcoholic I am and everything."
"Vex!" Bobby yelled down the corridor, ignoring Beka.
"Yes, Bobby?" Came the soft spoken reply.
"Did you drink from my whisky?!"
"No, Bobby. I didn't. I hate whisky, you know that. Why? Did someone have some?"
Bobby rolled his eyes and took a frusterated sip. "No, you god damned idiot! I just yell around this early in the morning about people drinking from my whisky because I fucking feel like it!"
Silence met this. Vex knew better than to retort an answer when Bobby was in this mood.
Grumbling under his breath and muttering something about 'thieving swine', Bobby glared around himself before taking another sip.
A couple of sips later, his temper had simmered down, and his ranting and raving had died away. Moments later when Beka came in and asked when Keeler would bring them the shipment, Bobby set own the bottle on the shelf and forgot about it all together.
The secret I shared with my two young thieves was still safe.