Darkship Revenge – Snippet 18

Darkship Revenge – Snippet 18

But at the end, all of it hadn’t done much for them.  Oh, they’d acquired great power not once but twice, world power, the kind of power that controlled entire territories, peoples and lands.

None of which seemed to have made them happy.  What I’d known of Doctor Bartolomeu, what Kit’s brief struggle with Jarl’s personality, what I remembered of my father, had revealed unhappy personalities, forever seeking for something they couldn’t find, and for which power and wealth, possessions and adulation could not compensate.

I’d come to believe it was that they’d not been raised as humans but as something both better and worse, both superhuman creatures capable of saving mankind, and as things: artifacts made and operated for a purpose.

The split between the two sets of expectations had cleaved their souls.  So it hurt to see a picture of these three, young and seemingly happier in their friendship, their new freedom and their newfound ability to travel than they’d ever be again, even at the pinnacle of power and strength.

I managed to turn the hollo off, which was good since it had gone blurry as though my eyes were filled with tears, which was stupid, because what was there to cry about? They were all dead and beyond hurt.

The next attempt at breaking into the outside world with this link actually got out and I found myself setting a search on the news.  There were about a million news items about ships: launched ships, stolen ships, war ships, bombed ships, ships in engagements in war at sea.  There was nothing about triangular ships, and the search brought up no images that looked like the ship that had attacked me.

A momentary panic assailed me, the fear that I’d dreamed it all.  In some of the books I’d read there was stuff about pregnant women hallucinating or going insane.  But surely hallucinating an entire battle was beyond even my ability.  And it would mean Kit had what?  Fallen off the surface of the ship?

No.

I started searches on the names of my friends.  Jan Rainer came up in reports of military actions.  Sieges and assaults and the like.  I judged he was likely to be a commander in the active war, and therefore not someone whom it would be safe try to contact.  I noted in some interest that he was still called the Good Man.

I then searched for Simon St. Cyr.  What came up was a holo of someone holding up a decapitated head.  I blinked.  Then swore and turned it off.  It felt like I’d been punched in the stomach and it took me a moment of shaking before I collected myself.  There might have been tears.  I’d never loved Simon.  At any rate not like I loved Kit.  It was more that we’d been friends since we were very young, and I’d liked him a great deal. We’d been lovers more out of boredom than out of love, but we’d belonged to the same broomer’s lair.  We’d planned operations together, we’d fought together.  And most of all, he’d listened to me, and I’d listened to him.

Kit thought he was many kinds of reprehensible, and truth be told, he was, but it wasn’t bad reprehensible.  What I’m trying to say is that in the end I’d be able to trust him with anything, just as he could trust me.

That severed head.  Those staring eyes.  The blood.  I swallowed down hastily.  I couldn’t imagine Simon losing control of the situation to that point.  What in holy hell had been happening on Earth while I was gone?

Half blinded by moisture in my eyes, I typed in Lucius Keeva’s name.  It came up almost immediately, in page after page after page.  Apparently Luce had been doing broadcasts of some sort every week to rally the troops.  They called him Lieutenant Colonel Keeva.  I realized with a pang that when I’d asked for him on Circum as Good Man Keeva I’d been wrong.  No wonder they’d been confused.

But even though I should feel upset that I’d run in such a precipitate way and ruined a good air-to-space for no reason, I was so relieved that someone I knew was alive and in power of some sort, after I thought he’d been killed, that all I felt was relief.

I sat there for a moment, then started looking again at Keeva’s location.  Yeah, the military title might mean that he was away at war, in some dangerous location, but then the weekly broadcasts argued against that.  I found a reference to Lucius being quartered in Olympus, and I thought I must get to him.  If he had his finger on the levers of military bureaucracy, he would be able to tell me if those triangular flyers even existed.

I decided it was late enough – or early enough, depending on how you looked at it — to get going and got up, changed Eris again and fed her, then wrestled her into the improvised infant brooming suit.  It seemed to me that human infants had been maximized for difficulty of dressing, moving every which way except the way that would help you dress them.  As she became more awake, it was sort of like trying to wrestle a greased octopus into a party dress.  Her arms flung everywhere except where they needed to go, and when I pulled them into the right place her legs started kicking.  And then she smiled, as though it were the best game ever.  I had a vague impression this one was going to be trouble.

She stopped smiling when, after I’d dressed, I strapped her to my middle.  She made a face like she was going to cry, but then thought better of it, as I opened the door.  Fuse was waiting.  I had a moment of alarm, but he looked worried, not menacing.

“Thena?” he said, staring at me.  “Where are you going?”

“I need to go to Olympus seacity,” I said.  “I need to find Lucius Keeva.”

“Who?” Fuse said.  And I realized even though his brain might be getting fixed by whatever the nanocites were he’d been given, he wasn’t going to remember or to remember very clearly the things that had happened while he was brain-damaged.  I said, “Max’s older bro –” Then remembered he knew as well as I did why we’d been made, that is as body-replacements for near-immortal and unable-to-reproduce mules.  “The first clone Dante Keeva had made.  He was rejected beca — He was rejected and sent to prison on trumped up charges, because they thought he’d realized about the brain transplants, but his father didn’t want to discard him in case he needed –”

“An extra body,” Fuse said.  “Like my father.”  He seemed already more coherent than yesterday.  “I see.”  He frowned.  “I have a vague memory he’d murdered someone…”  He shrugged.  “But those things can be faked.  He’s Good Man again? I remember him in the lair.  Looking for Nat.”

I frowned.  “He’s an Usaian, and he’s serving in the army of Olympus Seacity.”

“Oh.  Was Max an Usaian?  Did I forget?”

“No, I think Lucius converted.”

“Why do you want to see him? You’re safe here.  Why would you go out of here?”

I told him.  I told him as simply as I could.  He didn’t ask me to repeat but he did frown as though he were making an extraordinary effort to follow the thoughts.  At the end he nodded.  “I shall go with you,” he said.

“No.  You’re hiding here for a reason.  If Jan finds out that you –”

“Jan can boil his head,” Fuse said.  “He’s not my boss. I’ll be with you.  You won’t let my father take me.  You’re better than Nelly.”

In the context, being considered better than a single-column robot with cutlery arms was high praise.  After all he’d build Nelly himself.

“I’ll fix Nelly,” I said, feeling guilty.  “As soon as I can.”

He shook his head.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll just go with you.  I remember how you fight.  I’ll be fine.”

He disappeared towards his room and I considered getting dressed very quickly and escaping, but Fuse did seem to be much better and he didn’t deserve for me to behave so churlishly to him.

So in addition to Eris, I’d have a half-child I’d be responsible for.  I missed the days when I was only responsible for myself.

 

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