Michelle Pichette


Chapter 61



* * *

     Harper smiled as he slipped into the Andromeda’s mind.  This was one of the things he would miss when he left, being able to play with a mind a million times more powerful than his own.  “Hey, Rom-doll, did you miss me?” he asked as his virtual self coalesced and began to look around.  He knew to anyone looking on from the out side that his consciousness would look like a small bundle of data moving through the Andromeda’s programming, maybe even a virus, but he felt like he did in the real world.  He had a ‘body’ that could function, could touch and move the data moving around him and he started to do just that.  He tightened a little programming with a few quick strokes of his hologram like fingers, glad that he didn’t see any trouble spots as he moved easily through all the data around him.

     “Of course, Harper.  You’re almost a week behind on your maintenance schedule and you promised me some improved sensor arrays,” Rommie told him.                              

     “Ah, the price of the affection of a high maintenance woman,” Harper sighed with a little grin at his own joke.  The sad reality was that was always how it had always been for him, though.  The women in his life cared about him as long as he did things for them, gave them things.  Dom never asked for anything, he thought with a smile and a warm feeling that ran through him.  She only wanted him.  Feeling good about that, he put all of his attention on the matter at hand.  “Hanger Bay Seven is cleared and ready?” he asked as he made sure that the water supply he was going to flood the bay with was set to be pumped in.

     “Yes.  We’ve moved the vessels there to Hanger Bay Three, all maintenance bays are closed and sealed, and the Maria bots have scanned the bay for loose items and removed them,” Rommie reported.

     “Good,” Harper said.  “Emergency retrieval grapples at the ready.”

     “And I’ve run diagnostics.  All systems are optimal,” Rommie told him.

     “Are we taxing our water supply too badly doing this?” Harper asked, looking at their reserves.

     “Water isn’t a problem, Harper.  Once we can find a way to transport the Seaview back to Earth, I’ll purify the water of any contaminants.  We can replenish easily enough by consuming part of a comet or taking some ice from the rings of one of the nearby ringed planets if we lose too much during the transfer,” Rommie said.

     “And I’m going to be shifting some raw materials over to storage bay...uhhh... twenty two to offset for the weight shift of all that water so you won’t be off balance,” Harper said, tapping visuals in front of him, getting ready to move everything simultaneously while they would be bringing the Seaview aboard.  It was going to be a busy few minutes, but he’d had to split his attention between a lot more factors in the past.  It was going to go down just perfect.

     “That’s fine.  Harper, you wouldn’t actually leave us, would you?” Rommie asked, setting Harper totally off balance himself.

     “Huh?” he said, looking up at the large, concerned looking hologram suddenly looming over him.  He hadn’t known for sure if Rommie would care about him leaving and he certainly didn’t think she’d bring it up now of all times.

     “Dylan and Admiral Nelson have been having a veiled argument over who gets to keep you and they both have come to a tentative agreement that it’s ultimately your choice,” Rommie told him.  “I never thought you were unhappy here, Harper.  Well, maybe right after the Magog attack.  I wouldn’t let that happen again.  You should stay here with us.  Dylan needs you and so do I.”

     Harper ran a hand back through his hair, letting out a groan at having to deal with this now of all times.  “Rommie, it’s not that I want to leave you guys exactly.  It’s just, it’s not only me now.  I have to think about what’s best for Dom,” he told her, hoping she would understand.

     “Dylan was hoping she might want to stay too.  We could use a diplomat,” Rommie said without pause.

     “She’s a Marine Biologist,” Harper said in confusion.

     “Yes, now, but later, when she’s older, she’ll be a diplomat,” Rommie replied as if he should know this already.

     “What?” Harper said, then realized that Dom was probably going to be someone famous, someone he should probably know about but didn’t.  Or maybe he did know about her but not as Dominique Babin.  After all, some people called her Dominica or other things.  How intimidated would he be if he knew why Rommie seemed so impressed?  “No, don’t tell me.  I don’t want to know.  Look, she’s my girlfriend and we’re getting married and we want to have kids and stuff.  I can have kids, can’t I?”  Rommie had all his medical records, so she would know if his past had killed any chance of his being a father someday.  He’d been fretting over asking Doctor Jamieson about the matter.  It wasn’t like he wanted to give Jamieson any more reasons to think he needed constant medical care.

     “You can’t.  You’re a man.  Hasn’t anyone ever told you how procreation works, Harper?” Rommie asked, sounding put out about possibly having to do so.

     Harper rolled his eyes.  “I know all about the birds and the bees, thank you very much.  I wanted to know if I’m capable of siring children or if being kicked around my whole life by sickness and sick individuals has killed any chance of that.”

     Rommie gave him an impatient look.  “You are perfectly capable, but there is some question, at least in my mind, as to whether it would be a wise decision to do so.  I saw what happened when Trance put you in charge of some of her plants when she went away for a few days.”  Harper found himself feeling incredibly relieved and was about to tell Rommie that he was a lot more cautious with babies than begonias, when she looked away from his face for a moment, then said, “Tyr is at Command and has brought me around to start our attack run.”

     “Okay, let’s do this thing,” Harper said, shaking out his hands and getting ready to snatch the Seaview away from Barris.

     “Harper, Dylan wants you to stay and so do I,” Rommie told him again.

     “Not now, Rommie,” he told the ship, not wanting to be distracted.

     “Just don’t make any decisions until Dylan can talk to you about it,” Rommie said.

     Harper nodded, trying to clear his thoughts, but not able to fully do it.  He could be a dad!  Rommie didn’t want him to go?  What could Dylan possibly think he could say that would tempt him to stay?  What would Beka have to say about any this?  It was all a jumble in his head along with what he needed to concentrate on.  NO!  He told himself he was not going to be distracted and forced himself into motion.  Things were starting to happen and he was not going to let anyone down.  As he worked quickly, he had the uncomfortable feeling that pulling the Seaview into the Andromeda was not going to be the toughest thing he would have to deal with today.

* * *

     Tyr stood on the bridge of the Andromeda and had brought the ship around to face Barris’ vessel nearest to where the Seaview was held within.  He had recalibrated several of the vessel’s armaments so that they didn’t pack nearly as much of a punch as they normally did.  Tyr was rather surprised that Barris hadn’t moved, hadn’t done anything now that they were on the move.  The Andromeda had sat stationary since Harper had been taken.  Apparently, Barris was not concerned about the fact that they were moving finally.  Sighting his weapons, Try checked the internal monitors, noted that Harper and Doctor Babin were still alone in Main Engineering and that Dylan and Admiral Nelson had arrived at the internal hatch to Hanger Bay Seven.  All was in readiness, Tyr thought with a private smile, more than happy about he fact that he was about to blast apart part of Barris’ vessel.

     “You don’t want to do this,” came Barris’ annoying voice from behind him just as Tyr lifted his hand to begin their attack.

     Scowling, Tyr said, “In point of fact, I do.”  He began to reach out to trigger the first of the missiles.  He supposed that he could use his modified force lance on Barris, but he would rather see Barris’ face as he blasted the alien’s ship apart.

     “No, you don’t,” Barris said quickly, stilling him for an instant.  “You are a practical man, Tyr Anasazi.  You want to bring the Clan Kodiak back, bring it glory.  Think about how much you could do if you stopped aging right this second.  Think about living centuries, eons!  Young, vital, a father to your people in every way for all time.  I can give you that.  I can give you eternity.”

     Tyr glanced back at Barris, unmoved.  “At what price?  You are a dead, unconvincing thing.  To live forever as you live would be a curse.  Thank you, no.”

     “Wait!” Barris said as Tyr turned from him again.  “I can give you power!  You dreamed of being the second coming of the Progenitor.  I can make it fact.  I can make you ageless.  I can give you immunity from disease, the ability to heal from any wound almost instantaneously.  I can give you strength that is unrivaled.  Who could stand against such power?  Turn from this course of action and I can give you power beyond anything you have ever dreamed!”

     Tyr checked his screens again.  Dylan and the Admiral were checking over weapons and getting ready to run a flexible umbilical from their hatch to the Seaview when it arrived.  Tyr blanked out that screen and turned to the other.  Doctor Babin was standing by Harper, stroking his hair gently was she watched worriedly over him.  “Do you see that little girl?  She has more power than you and she shares it without cost,” Tyr told Barris.

     Barris came closer and sneered at the screen.  “The human girl is intelligent, but I could throw her across a room with the flick of one finger.  She is weak, fragile and foolish.  Look how tenderly she treats that worthless insect!  She has no authority over anyone and doesn’t desire it.  She watches ocean life, she doesn’t create it or change it.  She has no power and therefore has nothing to give anyone.  She is as powerless as the fish that so interest her.”

     Tyr shook his head.  “You are wrong.  She has the ability to see the greatness within each person she meets and to give others the ability to see that greatness.  She will get a important, brilliant, space traveling race see the worthiness of a people barely out of their infancy.  She will give a planet filled with people so busy looking at their neighboring countries with greed and hate that they can see nothing else something worth turning from their pettiness for.  She will bring the human race to glory in the universe and initiate a new golden age for them.  Her children will cure diseases and make men stronger and tame planets to serve them.  Three thousand years after her death, the whole of the Human and Nietzschean races honor her memory and the Perseid people still praise her intellect and diplomatic skills.  She is the most powerful person I have ever met.  Hers is the sort of power and immortality I desire.  What you offer me is empty and worthless.”

     Barris looked at Doctor Babin’s image and seemed baffled.  “She’s just a girl that studies fish,” he said.

     “And because you cannot see more than that, she is who I give my allegiance to,” Tyr said, then activated his weapons systems.

     “No!” Barris shouted at missiles streaked toward his ship and blasted it open.  Tyr had been very precise about what he’d chosen to blow apart.  Two more taps of smaller armaments widened the hole before them and Tyr could now see the glass windows of the Seaview through it.  Cables snapped out of the Andromeda and force screens glowed around them and seconds later, the Seaview was already easing gently toward the safety of the empty hanger bay waiting for her.  “I could have given you everything you wanted!” Barris shouted at Tyr.

     “You don’t have the power to gain your own desires, so I do not trust you with mine.  Go away, undead thing.  I have no more patience for you,” Tyr said levelly as the Barris gaped at him.  Tyr now drew out his force lance, but the alien frowned and vanished as it cleared its holster.  Sliding it back again, Tyr turned back to his screens, thinking that talking to Barris had served the purpose that Tyr had hoped it would.  It had kept the alien from being a nuisance somewhere else.

     Suddenly, Dylan’s voice came over comms.  “Tyr, are you all right?  Rommie said you vanished from sensors.”

     “I’m fine,” Tyr said calmly, then checked his screens again.  “And Harper and Doctor Babin are as well.  The Seaview is now within the Andromeda and you should have access to her shortly.  Everything seems to have gone flawlessly.  I will be there in just a few moments.”  Taking the Andromeda and pulling her back from Barris’ ship, Tyr brought their defenses up to full and set them on automatic, then turned to go to the hanger.  He spared one more glance at the screen showing Doctor Babin still standing over Harper, petting him gently.  “You are a lucky man, little professor,” he commented to no one in particular.  He thought about what he had seen of Harper’s interactions with women in the past and shook his head as he started off toward the hanger.  It probably wouldn’t be appreciated, but he would have a talk with Harper about how a young man should treat a woman that would normally be incredibly out of his league, especially if he hoped to keep her.  He arrived at the hanger to find Dylan and the Admiral just opening the hatch.

     “We’re going directly to the Control Room,” Nelson said.  “Captain Crane should be there.”

     “If he hasn’t been moved,” Tyr replied.  “There were large concentrations of crew being held under guard in galleys and probably other places as well.”

     “You work on freeing those areas, Tyr.  Send any officers to the Control Room and give these to some of the men.  Make sure they understand that they are deadly,” Dylan said, handing him a pack which most likely contained some of the modified lances.

     “Certainly.  Will we be bringing the Seaview crew out of the hanger and onto the Andromeda for security?” Tyr asked.

     “Not at present.  We’ll discuss that once the immediate threat is dealt with,” Dylan replied.  Tyr nodded, wondering if Barris would try to stop them from retaking the Seaview, doubting it after what had happened on the Andromeda’s bridge.  Certainly the alien could have put up a better fight to keep his ship from being damaged, but Barris seemed intent on talking him out of it rather than taking action.  He kept doing that, talking at people rather than taking action much of the time.  What did it mean?  Tyr shrugged to himself as he and the others moved through the hatch.  He didn’t actually care.  The next time he saw Barris, he would use his modified lance, not words.  It was time for this to be over.

* * *



Chapter 62
Belonging, Chapter One
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