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Darkship Revenge: Chapter Seven

       Last updated: Friday, March 17, 2017 22:16 EDT



Mapping the world

    I woke not knowing what time it was, with Erin complaining. It was her “I am wet” complaint. It’s amazing how in a very few days I’d come to know her range of sounds. The wet cry was not a full throated cry, like the one when she was dirty or needed food. Rather it was a low, rambling complaint, as though she were muttering in her sleep.

    I said “Light” and the light came on, as it had been programmed in most of the house. For the first time it occurred to me to wonder where the energy for this part of the house was coming from, considering the stripped condition of the house above. Then I nodded to myself. Of course father must have had a backup power source for this place. If he hadn’t, someone who helped run the rest of the house – housekeeper, butler or manager – would have noticed the power consumption and initiated a search for where it was going, thereby risking disclosing the secrets father would like to keep secret, including but not limited to the fact that he’d lived for over three hundred years and was one of the dreaded mules once created to administer entire countries.

    Possibly, too, this part of the house had some sort of emergency power supply, since I had the vague idea that it had been meant as a safe place, where Father could ride out a full attack on him. Wars between the Good Men for various purposes, including trade advantages, hadn’t been unusual in the three hundred years since the turmoils.

    I changed Eris, and put the used diaper down an incinerator chute, wondering if it would in fact get incinerated or if that system was now disabled and if it was just falling into some place below, from where no one would retrieve it. Not that I cared much either way, it was just an odd feeling not to know which systems I could count on.

    Eris went back to sleep almost immediately. I had no idea what time it was. The only thing approaching a window in the room was the repaired place where I’d once smashed a chair through to create an impromptu exit.

    I looked at it, amused that it had been inexpertly repaired. I suspected father had had this place built long ago and the workers who’d built it assassinated. So to repair it without being discovered he’d likely have had to do it himself in the scant time between my causing the damage and his death.

    Then I remembered my idea. I set Eris down in the nest of blankets and slid into the chair behind the desk with dad’s link, the one that had kept all his secret projects, reports of his prisons, and who knew what else.

    To begin with the link gave me the most immediate information I needed. It was in fact five in the morning. Outside, the sun would be shining still pale, and veiled, from behind the clouds. How pale and veiled depended on the season, which I tried in vain to calculate before looking at the calendar in the link’s memory and finding out it was November. So the sun would be very pale and veiled indeed, I thought, as I started poking around the link, trying to find my way.

    The last time I’d used this link or its predecessor, I was looking for something very specific, to be precise where exactly my father had hidden my husband.

    Now, while my husband was still hidden and I could not find him, and a forlorn, attempt at calling him, just now, with Kit? Brought no answer, I didn’t think I could find the location in my father’s files.

    In fact, since my father had been dead for two years or so, I couldn’t find the answer to any current problems in his records. It was not his records I wanted. It was recent news which I wanted to search for any mention of a triangular ship, and any reference to anyone arriving from space recently. In addition I’d like to know if any of my old friends were still in power and could lend me help. I presumed Jan Rainer, of Sea York Seacity was still alive, or had been at a recent time. But whether that meant he was still in control of anything, I couldn’t know, and I didn’t also know if Fuse could even understand the concept of a Good Man’s power.

    So I slid in front of the link full of determination.

    I’m not a programmer or anyone who can bend computers to her will. Of the two of us, Kit was better with that. I’m simply good with machines, and because of that could, sometimes, with much effort, alter programming and make things work the way I wanted them to.

    Daddy Dearest’s system proved a pain in the behind. In truly paranoid fashion he’d hidden all his records behind multiple passwords. Fortunately I now knew enough of his past to crack those. Not that I did it at first. What I didn’t expect and only a truly insane man would do is that he also had locked all the search functions of the link behind multiple passwords.

    While floundering around, trying to get the link to do what I wished, I activated something, which projected a hollo onto the desktop. I took in sharp breath at the sight of it. I’d seen it before, much faded and discolored and in small format in the house of a man in Eden. Or rather in the house of one of two mules who’d stayed behind in Eden, with the bioed but human mule servants. The rest of the mules had continued their voyage to the stars in the interstellar spaceship tragically named Je Reviens. That Mule, Doctor Bartolomeu Dias had been the one who’d decanted Kit and, truth be told the one who had saved Kit’s life before he was even born. He’d served as a sort of surrogate father to my husband.

    The hollo showed him as a young, tanned man of Mediterranean looks, short but muscular with dark curling hair and dark, smiling eyes. He was leaning on a tall, red-headed man who, except for hair color and the fact his green eyes were perfectly normal human eyes, was a dead ringer for Kit which made sense since this was Jarl Ingemar, the originator of the genetic code Kit carried. I wasn’t so stupid as to think I knew Jarl. But his personality had been accidentally superimposed on my husband’s for a brief time, when Kit had been given a cutting edge treatment to restore brain function after an injury. I wondered sometimes if parts of him still remained in Kit. Then I wondered if the treatment they’d given Fuse was of the same kind, and wondered what personality they might have given him.

    Leaning on Jarl from the other side was another young man, also much shorter than Jarl, and also vaguely Mediterranean. Dark hair, and blue eyes, a lithe build and a more-pretty-than-handsome face. The young man could have been my brother. Which he was in a way, since he was the originator of the genetic code to which I’d been built, even if they’d somehow managed to gender-shift me.

    At the time this holo had been taken, they were very young. Even though mules aged slower, and it was possible that they’d looked this young over the next thirty years or so, I knew they were young from the attempted insouciant poses, the white suits which looked like they were the somewhat expensive but not tailored, the kind of clothes that young bureaucrats would wear.

    I assumed this had been before the Fish war, the first war between the land nations and the Seacities which, in collapsing society and destroying much of the world, had first catapulted the bio engineered young men into power as Bio-Lords, the same young men who would, after the turmoils, rule under pretense of natural humanity, as the Good Men.

    Not for the first time, it occurred to me that these bio-improved men had been given everything, or at least everything that the bio science of the time could give them. They’d been made superhumanly intelligent, agile, strong and healthy. Other talents had been heaped on them depending on who had built them and for what purpose: Simon seemed to have been a naturally good actor, like I was an instinctive mechanic, for instance.



    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?


    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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