The First Mother - Chapter 12

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John insisted on telling Will and the rest of the crew which abruptly halted any plans I'd had of going out the next day.

"Could this have anything to do with her abilities?" Robert asked as we discussed the situation the next morning in the medbay.

"It's the most likely culprit." John agreed "Either way, I want to get it removed quickly before it spreads to more problematic sections of the brain".

They were talking about me like I was a broken computer in need of repairs.

"How soon can you do it?" Will asked.

"Today hopefully. It's a good thing we caught it so early so we don't need to do any radiation therapy first" John answered.

"Will there be any side effects?" I asked. Last thing I wanted was to end up brain-dead or worse.

"The brain is unpredictable but I've done this before and with a lot more swelling. You may find it hard to focus for a few days or weeks but nothing much worse than that" He assured me.

"Today then" Will decided. "it's unfortunate but we have to cancel the expedition entirely since someone has to watch Adya and I'd rather not make that trip with just 2 people."

"Sorry" I told them. I knew they were trying to get to the wreck as soon as possible and this was ruining that entirely.

"It's not your fault" Cillian smiled at me.

But it was. I couldn't sleep last night and got to thinking. I couldn't shake the feeling that this whole thing was a result of controlling so many at once.

I couldn't prove it but my head had become messed up right after I let go of the Zylphi. And if that was true, what effect would continuous usage have?

If I was right? Would it get worse if I kept at it? Could I die? I had to be here for Adya no matter what.

'If it came down to it, what was more important? Protecting the species of this planet? Or being able to live a full life with Adya?' I wondered.

If I couldn't have both, what would I choose?

'You know what you'll choose' I heard echo in my head. I winced from the pain, 'Because you're selfish, like the rest of them'

I tried not to show my discomfort.

"Alright, get to it" Will told us "I'll try to get an update from Caitlyn. The rest of you can go, Dani hang back".

John announced that he was going to start preparing for surgery. Everyone else acknowledged and left the bridge.

When it was just the two of us alone, I studied Will. He'd let more of his beard grow over the last few years but now wore his hair much shorter than when Adya was born.

He still looked attractive but now looked a bit rougher than when I first knew him. He also looked older and more experienced since his frown lines had started to show.

"Come closer" he said.

He looked very serious so I obeyed. Adya was sitting on one of the chairs so I hoped it'd be alright. He just wanted to talk. About what, I had no idea.

I stood about 6 feet away from him and waited.

"Closer" he said again.

I further halved the distance between us now a little bit worried. He wouldn't try to rekindle some of our old feelings right there, would he?

"Did you do it?" he asked me plainly.

"Do what?" I feigned ignorance. I knew exactly what he was asking. I had been hoping we were passed this but I guess not.

"Did you destroy the voyager?"

"No I..."

"Look me in the eyes and promise me that you didn't."

Should I have? Was there a chance he would have understood and been on my side? Someone as Mission-focused as Will? He'd changed in the last half decade but definitely not that much.

"I promise you, I had nothing to do with it" I said with all the calmness I could muster.

There was no going back.

"Okay" he said finally "If I ever find out that you did it and just lied to me about it, I won't protect you. Not even for our daughter's sake".

He meant that. He had been looking at her playing when he said that last bit. I couldn't ever let him find out.

As he walked passed me and towards the exit doors, I felt the urge to speak up again. Something I'd always wondered.

"Why didn't things ever work out between us?"

He paused. I couldn't see his face so I couldn't gauge his feelings in that moment.

"Did you ever have feelings for me?" I asked again.

If he had told me then that he did, I would have fallen right back into his arms. There was still a massive Will-sized hole in my heart, a hole that yearned to be filled.

"Do you still see a man when you look at me?" I should have just stopped talking but that was something I'd never been able to do.

"I've never seen you as a man" he finally spoke "Even before you became the beautiful woman you are now"

"Then why?" I asked again.

"Dani, I don't want to talk about this" he dismissed me.

"No? I'm about to have my head sliced open and who knows what will happen after that so I want to know now why you checked out early"

"Nothing's going to happen to you" he said under his breath but just loud enough for me to hear.

"Don't change the subject"

"I don't want to be abandoned again" he exhaled.

I hadn't been expecting that. It didn't make any sense.

"What do you mean? I told you, I just wasn't ready back then"

"Dani, I don't want to talk about this. Go to the medbay" he said as he walked off for good.

=^..^=

John was done prepping by the time I arrived. He explained the procedure as well as he could to someone that had no clue about any of it.

"Don't be worried" he told me as I sat on autodoc. "I'll take care of you, even if you threw me under the bus yesterday"

He smiled at me and I smiled back. I knew what he was talking about. It had been a dick move if I was being honest.

"Sorry" I said.

"It's okay" he replied as he grabbed the breathing mask. "Just go to sleep and when you wake up, you'll be good as new"

I gave him a weak thumbs up as he placed the breathing mask on my face and pressed a button.

"Count back from 10 for me" I heard John say.

'10..9..8..7..6..'

It reminded me of stasis.

=^..^=

When I opened my eyes, I didn't know where I was. I could hear birds chirping. Actual birds. I looked around me.

A home, vaguely familiar but I ultimately couldn't recognise it.

Where was I?

The black leather chairs reminded me of old movies. There was an old TV in the room. I knew what it was because I'd seen it a lot in old movies. There were toys scattered on the floor.

I heard voices coming from the next room and followed them. It was a dinner room with a family eating at the table.

Mum, dad, Andy... and me?

I stared in awe. I couldn't have been older than 5 years old. Mum looked so young and so beautiful with a striking resemblance to how I looked now. We could have been sisters.

And there was Andy, younger than I could ever remember him. His dirty blonde hair was much darker than mine, leaning into the realm of brown like my dad's.

We were both dressed alike which was weird. From where I was standing, I could see we wore the same Lacoste polo shirt.

And dad. That was his face. It had been getting fuzzy in my memories since we lost him so early but there it was, plain as day.

"Dad..." I started to say but the next thing I knew, we were outside.

A runway.

Dad, Andy and I stood in a hangar in front of dad's Cessna.

I remembered this day, it was my 10th birthday. Dad finally agreed to take me flying. I was all smiles that day.

I looked nothing like the little boy that stood there adoring his father but the smile was the same on both our faces.

"You listen to me when we get up there okay champ?"

I nodded. So did the little boy. I was crying. That was his voice. I'd forgotten what he sounded like.

"You do exactly what I say" he continued.

I nodded again.

"Dad, he's got it. Let's go" Andy said impatiently.

I admired both of them so much. Even now that I hadn't seen them for years. What would they do if they saw me now?

"Dad..." I started to say again. I just wanted to speak to him one last time. Tell him I was okay. Ask if he was proud of me?

'Probably not' I realised. The things I'd done.

Before I could say any more, I was standing at his funeral.

Mum and I were crying. Andy was trying not to. He was the man of the house. I was sure dad would have told him as much.

I was only 11 when he died. Andy was 15. We were so young. There was still so much he was yet to teach us.

Just like I'd done all those years ago, I cried.

By the time I finished crying, I wasn't even at the funeral anymore. I was in my old home. My mum was wailing and my step-dad was lying on the floor bleeding out.

I watched myself holding that bloody angel. I had a look of genuine shock on my face. The first time I would end someone's life early but not the last.

Why was I seeing all this? What was even the point? Was I dying? Was my life flashing before my eyes?

"You have to run" she'd said to me as soon as she managed to compose herself.

"I can't leave you here" I'd replied.

"I'll be okay, just go"

"I'm not just going to leave you to them"

"Why don't you ever listen?" she said from her position on the floor. She was heartbroken.

In the end, I didn't go. Seven years later and I still didn't even know if that was the right decision or not?

If I had run, I'd probably have died not long after amidst all the chaos that ensued on earth but atleast my hands would still be relatively clean.

"Don't be embarrassed, it's an entirely natural process" I heard John say. I looked around the room and I was standing in the medbay.

John was standing at the foot of the bed watching me holding Adya. The version of me that lay in bed holding Adya.

I watched their interaction. I remembered this moment. Maybe an hour after I gave birth to her, I'd needed to feed her.

Will and John had both left to give me some privacy but I had called John back because I didn't know what to do.

"Make sure to cushion her head and neck" he'd said.

"Okay my nipple is in her mouth, what now..."That version of me had begun to say but then stopped. I watched the look of shock and then joy on her face "She's sucking" She laughed and smiled.

Her eyes alternated between Adya and John with a look of pure innocence on her face.

I wanted to be her again I thought to myself.

"But you can't be" I heard a voice say behind me.

I turned to look and the room around me had disappeared. Just black. The only thing in sight was the glass walkway that seemed to stretch to infinity.

On the path and walking closer towards me was... myself. She looked identical down to the dress we both wore.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"I am Failsafe, a core function of Overlord built to ensure its power doesn't fall into the wrong hands".

"You're the voice in my head"

"Yes" she walked closer.

"Why were you showing me all this?" I asked.

"I was showing myself. I needed to see who you truly were"

"I don't understand"

"I needed access to your memories which I can only get when you're in here."

She looked and sounded like me but had none of my expressions. No expressions at all.

What was this? A dream?

"You value life. So why did you do it?" She asked.

"To protect the innocent life on this planet" I answered "Nothing would change if they were alive and in control. They would destroy this planet just like they did the first one"

"I believe you" She turned around "I will leave Overlord in your control for now"

I watched her take more and more steps forward until she was only barely visible, "But remember, I am always watching"

Soon her footsteps had receded all the way and I was left alone in the quiet darkness.

Suddenly, the glass beneath my feet broke and I fell through. When I expected to hit the ground, I woke up in my bed.

=^..^=

I was disoriented and staring at ceiling when I opened my eyes. My head hurt. I slowly panned around the room. The medbay.

Was I back?

I saw my mum sitting on a chair in the room. She was asleep.

I'm not back.

This wasn't a memory. This was definitely the med bay. What was she doing here?

She looked older. Only by a few years but still older than I remembered. She was also wearing the NASA and UN suit we'd worn during the trip here.

I comically pinched myself. It hurt.

Could it be?

"Mum?" I called out. Even if it was a dream, I didn't want to wake up.

She opened her eyes. She could hear me.

"Baby, you're awake!" she exclaimed as she got up and ran towards the bed.

The tears started flowing freely.

"Mum" I said again with outstretched hands.

She connected and hugged me tightly.

I could smell her. It was really her.

'Please let this not be a cruel joke' I thought.

I hugged her back and just cried.

"I never thought I'd see you again" I breathed.

"I missed you honey"

"Me too" I cried.

We just stayed there. I worried that the position would have been uncomfortable for her hut she didn't seem to care.

"How are you here?" I asked as we finally broke away and she sat on the edge of the bed.

"Mrs. Alcove came to meet me. Said I had a ticket courtesy of you. Oh my baby boy, I knew you would do great things... I guess baby girl now"

"Did they tell you what happened?" I asked.

"Yes they did although I always said you took after me a bit too much" she replied smiling.

I smiled too.

"And you gave me a grandchild!" She squealed happily "How wonderful. I never thought I would get one with the new laws"

I was happy she was happy about it. I didn't know how she'd react. This was a pleasant surprise.

"You've met her?"

"Of course, what a bundle of joy she is"

God this was all too perfect. When things were going too well, they had a tendency to crumble.

"Where is she anyway?" I asked

"Probably with your brother somewhere" She answered.

"Andy's here?"

"Of course he is. And his wife. Both my children are doing so well. When Michael died, I thought my life was over..."

"I'm sorry about what I did" I'd never told her that.

"It's okay honey. I shouldn't have put you in that position".

I didn't respond. For a moment, we just sat in silence.

"How do you feel?"

"Better" I replied. I did feel better. Even if my head hurt like hell, it felt freer. "Just a little headache"

"I'll get John" she announced as she stood up.

"Right, you've met him. How long have I been out?" It felt like I'd only been asleep for a few hours at most but that obviously wasn't possible.

"5 days I think" she answered as she walked out the med bay.

5 days? It didn't feel more than a few hours.

More importantly, I finally had time to think about everything that happened. Failsafe, was that real? Did I have any reason to doubt it?

Everything to do with Overlord was still such a mystery to me.

"I needed access to your memories which I can only get when you're in here." that's what she had said.

Where was that? I was just asleep right? Couldn't she have just gotten it while I slept last night? Was anesthesia different?

Could she have orchestrated the whole surgery? Was that even possible?

It took another five minutes for Mum to return with John and I was still no closer to figuring anything out for sure. Just speculations.

If Failsafe could give me a tumor? Could she kill me?

"You have to stop scaring your beautiful mother like that" John said as he walked through the med bay doors.

"Hi John" I said with a smile.

"It's like there's two of you" he said eyeing both of us.

This caused my mum to laugh. She was eating up his bullshit.

"Is that what you were telling the red head I saw you talking to?" she asked playfully.

"Miss Fahey, you know I only have eyes for you" John replied charmingly.

"It's still Mrs." she replied happily.

"Stop flirting with my mother John" I said trying to hide a smile.

He chuckled, "Don't be jealous Dani. It's unbecoming. So how do you feel?"

"Other than the headache, I feel fine"

"Good, let's get that bandage off".

Unfortunately, part of my hair had been removed for the surgery but nothing I couldn't style to cover until it grew back.

Mum and I talked some more. We talked about space and how it had been a terrifying experience for her. She kept thinking the glass would break any moment.

She hadn't known Voyager 1 had crashed until she got to the ground which was probably for the best.

She told me about what life was like after I was taken away. She'd tried to find me everyday but never had any success.

"Mum are you okay with me like this? I was your son" I'd asked somewhere during the long conversation we had.

"And now you're my daughter. Maybe you've always been. Either way, I still love you"

She hugged me.

When we separated, I wiped the tears gathering on my lashes.

"That other guy kept coming to check on you while you were asleep. I forget his name" I heard her say.

"Which guy?" I asked.

"Adya's father"

I could never understand him. There for me one time, avoiding me the next. Protecting me today and assaulting me tomorrow.

"Will. I should probably go let him know I'm okay" I said while pushing off the bed slowly to my feet. I felt great.

"Are you two together?" Mum asked.

I shook my head. She didn't say anything else.

=^..^=

I met Will on the way to the bridge saving me the rest of the journey. Mum had insisted on walking me and eventually I'd acquiesced. He looked pleased to see me atleast.

"I'm fine mum" I said as I got closer to Will.

"Alright sweetie. Hello" She acknowledged him before turning and walking away.

"She loves you" Will said as soon as she was out of sight.

"Yes" I agreed "I can't believe she's here".

Will looked disturbed so I asked, "what's wrong?"

"I owe you an apology" he answered after some thought.

"For what?" I asked genuinely confused.

"The Voyagers descended three days ago. The zylphi attacked them. The new chutes were strong enough"

"Thank goodness" I said. I really meant that. I didn't want anyone else to die. My mind was clearer now. I still stood by my actions with Voyager 1. The worst was over and the last thing I wanted was a repeat.

"I blamed you for that horrible event. Dani, I'm so sorry. Can you forgive me?" he asked remorsefully.

"I forgive you".

=^..^=

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Be sure to let me know what you think about the story so far. Thanks for reading.

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Comments

Didn’t see THAT coming

Emma Anne Tate's picture

I wonder if the other crew members’ families were extracted too? If any were on Voyager 1, Dani will feel even worse. Pure luck that she didn’t destroy her Mother and brother.

It’s interesting to me that Will was put in charge of the mission. His psychological scars seem to be pretty permanent, and I imagine he was carefully screened. His fear of abandonment has made it impossible for him to have a good relationship with Dani, but I could see it having more wide-ranging and mission-threatening effects too.

Hey — maybe next chapter they’ll be able to revive poor Heather!

Emma

Poor Heather

Emma's picture

Imagine going to bed 25 and waking up 31. pain

Fail safe………

D. Eden's picture

An interesting addition - I’m actually surprised they didn’t use the two man rule, but in a way I guess they did.

For those not familiar, the two man rule was developed to prevent one person from arbitrarily setting off a nuclear weapon. The two man rule requires a second person to confirm, or perhaps agree is a better term, with the command to utilize a nuclear weapon. It is required at multiple stages of the process.

Contrary to popular belief, the President of the United States cannot simply order a nuclear strike - it takes confirmation of the order by a second civilian within the chain of command - and that person must also be either an elected official or an appointed official confirmed by Congress. This prevents one mad man from ordering a nuclear attack on their own. It is also in keeping with the Constitutional precept of civilian control of the military.

Additionally, at the actual implementation level, it also requires two separate individuals to physically activate a strike at the same time, from positions situated far enough apart so that one person cannot do it alone; the nightmare scenario being that, “if I’m dying, everyone is going with me.”

Fail Safe in real life was a point in an attack which forced a pause and re-verification of the order. It originally referred to a point in space where nuclear armed bombers would orbit awaiting electronic confirmation of the attack order. The bombers were not to proceed beyond their fail safe point unless they received said confirmation.

I guess the Fail Safe referred to in this story would remove Dani from control of Overlord - the question being whether that would require her death or not? Additionally, the separate “personality” of Fail Safe creates a two man rule situation.

D. Eden

Dum Vivimus, Vivamus

I am so confused.

her mom made it to the new planet? can this be real?

DogSig.png

The Flashback Sequences

joannebarbarella's picture

In 2001: A Space Odyssey come to mind. Dani has awakened with no control of her memories and times and her brain must come to grips with the consequences of the operation.

The one good thing is that she was unconscious when the remaining Voyagers landed, so she cannot be blamed for any attacks on them.

Don't forget to enter the New Year's Contest!

Well, That Really Turned Things Around...

My clear assumption was that the tumor was Overlord, and that it was Overlord who wanted to kill the Voyager colonists, overcoming Heather's empathy in order to do it. But the tumor's gone, Fail-Safe is still around, and it apparently was Heather who wanted to wipe them out. (Then there's the question of the birds trying to repeat their attack while Heather was unconscious. I can think of a few possible explanations for that, but it did get Heather off the hook.)

Fortunately for the planet, it's a really good guess that all the political alphas and wealthiest industry leaders were in the ship that crashed, wanting to go down in history as the first settlers (once those inconvenient criminals on the scout team were out of the way). I suppose it's possible that the second- or third-line leaders who were relegated to the later ships will be so obsessed with competing for the top spots in the new pecking order that they won't start in on the native life for a while.

Eric

Heather?

Uhhhh . . . Heather has been in stasis since before they made planet fall. She's the one they took the female reproductive organs from that got Dani preggers with Adya.

I'm guessing you meant Dani in that case.

And I'm still waiting to see how Heather reacts to that little girly factory robbery once they get her up and out of the malfunctioning stasis pod.

- Leona

Dani, Of Course...

I'm rotten remembering names, but usually when I'm uncertain I realize it and go back and look...

Eric