* * *
Lee was looking over some repair logs when Ro came aboard the
Seaview. Though he hadn’t
seen her, he had thought she was already in and hard at the major rewiring
project that had suddenly become necessary. Frowning a little, he glanced at his watch.
It was almost nine, which was late for Ro to be getting in.
“Good morning,” he greeted her when she appeared to be about to
walk off the Command Deck without a word.
Perhaps she was tired. He
knew that she had been stressed about repairs and hadn’t been sleeping
“Oh,” she replied, just seeming to realize he was there.
She wasn’t tired, she was distracted, something Ro very rarely
was. Lee wondered what had
gotten Ro to thinking so hard. “Good
morning, Lee. Sorry.
I... I’ve had an interesting morning.”
Lee smiled. “Really? Doing
“Talking to Seamus Harper as it turns out.”
That killed Lee’s smile.
“Really?” he asked, aware his tone was cold.
He knew he ought go into the Institute to apologize for his ill
timed words yesterday now that he knew that Harper was awake and in his
lab, but he’d actually been told in no uncertain terms not to.
Lee had tried to apologize to Dom this morning, but while she had
curtly said that she accepted his apology, she had also told him to leave
Harper and her relationship with him alone from here on out, then thrown
him out of her office yet again. It
was strange having Dom mad at him. She
was never mad at anyone!
He knew the Admiral would want him to apologize to Harper
anyway, but Lee wasn’t feeling very apologetic at the moment.
If Harper hadn’t kept shrugging off his efforts last night, he
wouldn’t have still been there trying when Dom had walked in on them.
Lee got mad at himself for thinking that.
It wasn’t fair to Harper, who had been pretty much telling him
that he didn’t care about how Lee had been treating him before
everything had spun out of control. It
was Dom being hurt that had set Harper off.
Of course, Lee would have been protective over Ro, so he could
hardly criticize Harper for that. However,
why wouldn’t Harper care about being treated poorly himself?
Was he mentally unstable? No,
the Admiral would have picked up on something like that.
Lee was confused and frustrated about the whole thing.
What was worse was that he couldn’t shake the feeling that there
was something wrong about Harper, that he was lying about something
important or dangerous or that he was just plain running a con.
Ro frowned at him. “I
know you don’t like him, Lee, but lay off from now on, okay?”
Lee sighed and rolled his eyes, but before he could say a word, Ro
held up a hand. “Lee, he
doesn’t want trouble with you. Just
let him alone.”
Lee was certain his displeasure was showing.
Now Ro was defending Harper? If
that wasn’t strange, nothing was and there was already enough
strangeness surrounding Harper. “Look,
I know I owe him an apology, but I still think he’s a little con artist
“He’s not,” Ro contradicted him.
“I’ll give you annoying or brash, but he’s not trying to pull
Harper is the most incredible engineer of all time,” Lee said
Ro pursed her lips for a moment, then said, “Lee, he’s a
genius, a real genius. We
spent the last hour talking about the project he’s working on and...”
she paused and shook her head, looking utterly amazed, “... and I could
barely keep up. I hate to say
this, but I know he was dumbing a lot of it down after the first few
minutes because he could tell that I was getting lost.
Even the Admiral was asking more questions than I’m used to
hearing from him. Now I know
why Dom adores him. She
thinks intelligence is sexy, so he probably gives her the same shivers you
give most women that look at you.”
Lee was about to argue that he didn’t go around trying to
give women shivers, but decided that wasn’t really the point.
“He couldn’t just be faking this?
Someone couldn’t have coached him about whatever it was that he
was talking about?”
“No possible way. Like I said, I could barely keep up, but I’d know if he
were just trying to get by on jargon or acting off a script. So would the Admiral. He
understood what he was talking about.
I’m sure of it. He’s
brilliant, Lee. I think his
IQ is up there with the Admiral’s,” Ro told him.
If her face weren’t dead serious, he would have thought she was
Lee ran a hand back up through his hair, unable to accept
what Ro was telling him. “Harper?
The little guy with the bad hair?
That Harper? He’s
“I’m just glad the Admiral doesn’t want him anywhere
near the Seaview or I’d worry about my job,” Ro said to push her point
That the Admiral didn’t want Harper near the Seaview came
as good news, but it made Lee curious.
“Why not what?”
“Why doesn’t the Admiral want Harper near the Seaview if
he’s so brilliant?”
“From what I picked up on this morning, it has something
to do with his health. The
thing Harper was showing us... I can’t go into what it is on the
Admiral’s orders... the Admiral was thinking about testing it on the
Seaview, but he said that Harper would have to settle for radio reports as
to how it went. For some
reason, it seemed like Doctor Jamieson would never okay Harper for a
cruise and the Admiral doesn’t want him near the Seaview’s reactor or
radiation in general,” Ro said.
Lee frowned. That made no sense. If
there were any danger from radiation poisoning, they would all be at risk
or horribly ill. Lee knew
Harper was sick or something, but the Admiral had said that it was nothing
to worry about. “What does
that mean?” he asked, unable to work out what was going on with Harper.
Ro shrugged. “Could mean a lot of things.
Who knows? It’s none
of my business. Look, I’ve
got to go. Just stop snarling
at him. He’s not a threat
to the Institute. In fact,
I’d be more worried about outside forces trying to steal him away if I
were you. I wouldn’t want
his mind in enemy hands.” With that, Ro gave him a kiss on the cheek and disappeared
off into the Seaview. Lee
felt like trailing her, but decided to let the whole thing go. Harper was barred from the Seaview. That officially made him not Lee’s worry.
He just wished he could shake off the feeling that little, scrawny
Harper was somehow a danger to all of them.
Nelson was just leaving Harper’s newly appointed lab
shaking his head, but doing it with a smile.
Cold fusion! Harper was going to give him a working cold fusion reactor!
Glancing behind himself, through the window, he could see that
Harper was back to working on his schematic, his back to the door.
Nelson would have to see about having some opaque glass installed,
thinking that this most likely would not be the last time that Harper
would be working on something that Nelson would want to keep totally under
wraps. Nelson watched the boy
carefully adding detail to his drawing.
He had asked about turning the drafting table, but Harper had said
that where he had it was where the best light in the room was.
Nelson didn’t want any harm to come to Harper, especially now, so
if the board’s current position was the least taxing on the boy’s
eyes, that was where it would stay. Fortunately, everything important was
too small for anyone to see from this distance.
Nelson was just turning from the door, still smiling, only
to find himself face to face with Barris.
“I see your new slave is pleasing to you,” Barris said, giving
Nelson one of his toothy grins.
Nelson frowned. It was bad enough that Barris was back, but that he was
commenting on Harper and Harper’s previous station in life as if nothing
had changed was disturbing in an entirely new way.
“What do you want, Barris?”
Nelson demanded, stepping so that he stood directly between Harper
“Why, to repair your vessel and serve you in any manner
you choose,” Barris told him eagerly.
“Then you are wasting both of our time,” Nelson said,
crossing his arms over his chest. He
would not walk away from Barris this time and leave Harper in possible
“We would not be wasting time if you allowed us to serve
you,” Barris said doggedly.
“I have no use for what you are offering.
Go away,” Nelson told him. He
could only imagine that someone was going to come along and see Barris at
“You will,” Barris said, his smile suddenly changed.
There was something dangerous in it now, something that Nelson had
not seen on the alien before. “You
find yourself in danger from outside forces continually.
Forces assail you constantly that damage your property and the
people that work for you. Wouldn’t
it be nice if, for once, there were someone under your command that could
dispose of such threats before such dire circumstances occurred?”
Nelson’s eyes narrowed.
“Are you threatening me?”
“No, of course not, Admiral,” Barris assured him, though
his face was anything but reassuring.
“Merely stating an eventuality that suits neither of us.”
“Leave now, Barris, and don’t come back,” Nelson
ordered the alien, anger darkening his features.
He had to remember to go to munitions and get something to shoot
Barris with the next time he appeared this way.
“For now,” Barris said, then looked past Nelson to where
Harper was. “One should set
a tone with new slaves...”
“He is a valued employee, not a slave,” Nelson said, not
liking Barris’ interest in Harper one bit.
“Pet then,” Barris conceded, though Nelson didn’t like
that description much better than slave. “You have it under lock and key, which is a good start.
You should beat it soundly now, make certain that it understands
that it is your property and that it lives and dies by your will alone.
I only wish to save you bother later.
It has a history of disobedience.”
With that, Barris vanished in a cloud of foul smelling black smoke.
Nelson forced down his anger over Barris’ threat to the
Institute and turned to look back at Harper.
He hadn’t forgotten what Jamie had said about his holding a
position of power over Harper and how the boy might feel about that.
It had rankled on him then, but now he actually worried about it.
He knew, after their lunchtime conversation yesterday that Harper
more than respected him, that the young engineer felt humbled and awed in
his presence, that Harper would probably walk through fire for him.
Though that had been a huge ego boost, Nelson didn’t want that
sort of thing to go too far. Did
Harper consider himself a slave or pet, albeit a well treated one?
Sliding his security badge through the door lock, Nelson
went back into the lab. Harper
turned and smiled warmly at him, saying, “Forget something, Boss?
I know I said I’m quick, but I’m afraid that it’s gonna take
more than three minutes to finish up these schematics.”
Nelson walked over to where Harper sat and gently laid a
hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Take
as long as you need. You
shouldn’t feel rushed. I
needed to ask you something, though.
You never said, exactly, but I need to know for my own piece of
mind...” Nelson paused, not
knowing how to ask what he wanted to ask without it being insulting.
“Ask me anything, Boss. My
life is an open book. It
isn’t great reading at the start, but lately it’s getting whole lots
better,” Harper said with an easy grin.
“Seamus, when you were first lived on Earth, you were a
slave,” Nelson stated rather than asked, thinking he’d like that in
particular to be confirmed or denied.
“So the Drago-Jerkoffs wanted to believe,” Harper
replied, not seeming affected by Nelson having said it aloud.
“I allowed them their delusions, but made sure they paid for
them.” A malicious glint
formed in Harper’s eyes. Nelson
remembered him saying that he had made things for the resistance fighters
to use on the Nietzscheans. Harper
had obviously not been broken by his previous circumstances and had fought
back how he could. Good for
him, Nelson thought with a grin of his own.
“Probably what I would have done as well,” Nelson told
him, which made Harper’s smile brighten. Harper liked comparisons being drawn between them, Nelson
knew, and it didn’t bother him to make them occasionally. “I just wanted to make certain that you know what your
position at the Institute is, and what it isn’t.”
Harper’s brow knit for a second, then his face relaxed and
he laughed. “Boss, I
don’t think you’re gonna throw me into chains and start beating the
crap out of me for being too slow with the free hand drawing. At least not any more. We
won’t go into the stuff I was thinking in your office yesterday morning
when I first told I was from the future, ‘cause it’s way too
embarrassing. And you should
really forget about the Neitzs and about how things were in my past.
There’s nothing to think about anyway.
It’s not like I’m gonna have those sorts of problems anymore,
right?” he asked, obviously pleased that was the case.
“Of course not, Seamus,” Nelson agreed, then ruffled the
boy’s already disorderly hair, quite pleased himself that Harper was
happy with his new life.
“Hey!” Harper protested with a grimace.
“Twenty five here, not five!”
He made a disgusted sound and went back to work.
Nelson chuckled, patted Harper gently on the shoulder, then
started toward the door. Let
Barris believe what he wanted. Harper
was his protégée, not his pet, and Harper understood that.
That was the important thing.
Still, Nelson thought with a frown, what mayhem was Barris
going to cause to convince him that he needed ‘protection?’
Nelson sighed, wondering if he needed to arm people or not.
Probably not, he decided, since Barris didn’t seem to want anyone
to know about his presence besides Nelson himself.
That didn’t make his most recent visit any less disturbing. The threat and his advice concerning Harper were both far
darker than anything that Barris had presented so far and Nelson began to
wonder how evil Barris truly was.
|Belonging, Chapter 1|
|Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents Page|
|Other Fan Fiction Contents Page|