Title: A Change of Vector
Distribution: Already submitted to Leviathan; everyone else please let me know
Spoilers: The Premiere, The Hidden Memory
Disclaimer: not mine, no money changing hands
Summary: Thirty cycles, to bring him to this place.
Notes: Set at the end of the pilot. A change in the speed or direction of an object is a change in vector. Beta by Vehemently and Melymbrosia.
Feedback makes me do the wacky. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Change of Vector
The bridge was silent but for the whispers of techs at their consoles. If Bialar Crais listened very hard, he imagined he could hear the ticking as the Frag cannon cooled off, three levels down and far forward. Lieutenant Teeg stood at attention beside him, her face blank; about him the bridge crew went about their business, as quiet and efficient as ever.
The glossy black surface of the command console reflected back Crais's own face, dark with unspoken rage. The viewscreen and the holographic projector both remained determinedly empty but for the nameless planet spinning below. The Leviathan was gone, and with it the Human.
Teeg shifted, and cleared her throat, but said nothing. As aides went, she was acceptable. Ambitious, effective, athletic in bed, and not too proud to serve under a recruit if it got her what she needed.
She expected him to crack; he was, after all, only a recruit, and they had just failed spectacularly to capture both the escaped Leviathan and his brother's killer. Peacekeepers were pragmatic, and felt revenge was wasted effort -- but recruits were not known for their pragmatism, or their competence. The lauded heroism of Sub-Officer Dacon was a long time in the past.
For a long moment, Crais allowed his gaze to rove over Teeg's controlled blonde perfection, not saying a word. As expected, she neither spoke nor flushed.
But that wasn't control: that was arrogance, the cold senseless pride of those born to service.
Born to service. As he was not.
Born and raised in the creches on the largest Command Carriers, on the stations, on the Leviathans. Born to the knowledge, born to the comradeship. Born to their ranks, or so it had seemed to him for much of the past thirty cycles.
Lieutenant Teeg and her kind had had it easy. She had not been yanked from her soft bed at thirteen and thrown into the bloody hothouse of the pre-classification testings. She hadn't been raised to shovel manure and think of wealth in terms of livestock and forage, rather than plasma rifles and planetary systems. Teeg had never been hungry, or scared. She defied nothing, sacrificed nothing to be where she was; and she had no family but the service.
Captain Barlon didn't have to score higher than ninety-eight percent of the trainees merely to get the chance to fail tactical training. Didn't have to dodge the slurs of his yearmates, dispel the doubts of his instructors, in order to get his commission. Didn't have to learn a new writing system from scratch, a new technology, a new way of thinking, a new slang. It was in Barlon's bones, as easy as breathing.
Even Crais's own renegade Officer Sun had never curled herself into a corner of her bunk and chewed her lip til it bled, the night before the final series of genetic tests. She'd never feared being classified as a tech, or worse, a server, little better than a manual laborer. She knew she was going into Commando training -- she was born to service, wasn't she?
None of them would have sponsored Tauvo into Commando training, just to have someone around who would understand. Who would know *why* it mattered so much that he was captain of a Command Carrier. That three thousand soldiers, four hundred Commandos, two dozen Marauders, and fifty Prowlers answered to *him*. To Bialar Crais, born in the mud of a drelnitz farm: the first recruit to make Captain in three hundred cycles.
Tauvo knew, and was proud of him, as their parents never would have been. Their parents, who had been ignorant and soft, dirt-grubbers from the day they were born until the day they died. They'd never have understood why Crais had mounted the heads of three Hynerian resistance leaders in his quarters. They'd never seen a wild Leviathan banking through the sixteen rings of Mialsa VII, or the volcanoes at dawn on Pedsen-Kar.
Tauvo knew, and understood, and cared. Tauvo would have understood the fire inside him, the rage. The need to crush this Human under his boot like a Tarsian slivnot, to smear his brains across the polished floor.
But Tauvo was gone.
All Crais had now was a ship full of cold soldiers like Teeg, and no one to understand the subtle puns Fellish allowed, no one to wink at him from the sub-officer's table in the commissary: no one to remind him of why he wanted to be here in the first place. Here where war was clean and everyone was well fed.
Tauvo was gone, and Crais could feel the dirt under his nails. He let his fingers curl into fists. Thirty cycles, to bring him to this place. Thirty cycles of curbing his tongue, losing his accent, learning to kill.
Peacekeepers were, above all, practical. Revenge didn't further the service.
Teeg straightened even more, if that were possible. "Sir?"
Thirty cycles of his life, and only just now discovering he wasn't really a Peacekeeper after all.
"Set a course for the Uncharted Territories."
Notes: thanks, again, to Vehemently, who salvaged this, and Melymbrosia, who (again <g>) made me justify my choices. Any errors or inconsistencies are to be laid at my door, not theirs.
I'm the darkness in your daughter
I'm the spot beneath the skin
I'm the scarlet on the pavement
I am the broken heart within
--- Yes Virginia I am ---
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