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Anathema II - Trust is only dangerous

By S.L. Koss
Page 1 of 15

Anathema - II -

Trust is only dangerous. . .

Anat.ema (A-Nath' e ma) n., pl. aNathemas. 2. A vehement denunciation; a curse.

******

Avon stared pensively out the view portals for at least the fifth time today. He was trying without success to settle his thoughts. He had given the others lists of needed repairs that would keep them busy for days if not weeks. Their indestructible Liberator would seem to be not nearly as indestructible as they had imagined. The galactic war had proved that fact all too well. Still, they were capable of flight and minimal defense. In no time at all they should have everything running properly once again. Blake and Jena's absences were not at all being felt by anyone Avon told himself. He should by all rights be, if not happy, then at least satisfied with the situation. Something undefined was bothering him, something he dared not think about too much, and he certainly dared not sleep. He was all too aware that Cally had been trying to reach over the intercom system for several hours at least. Her latest plea sounded almost desperate and Avon found himself turning toward the communicator despite himself.

"Avon, respond, please. I really think you should see this!"

Avon did not respond, but he did find himself walking briskly toward the flight deck. There were people up there and very probably useless arguing which he really did not want to expose himself to, but he was intrigued. He came up behind Cally's station silently, though it was entirely unnecessary as she was concentrating on the panel in an effort to ignore the general din on the flight deck. He watched her for a few seconds before speaking.

"What is it, Cally?"

Cally signed, not bothering to scold him for his lack of interest or response, as she knew it would do no good. "I'm getting a very faint signal, I can't get a lock on it, but it seems to be coming from the Felinian systems."

Favoring Cally with a blank look that did not in the least reflect the sinking in his stomach, Avon turned to Orac. "Orac, can you boost that signal?"

/I am currently doing all I can to get it through at the current intensity. Ionic reefs in the system are directing and redirecting signals beyond my capacity to sort through./

"Did he say beyond his capacity?" Vila queried.

"Just as well anyway." Tarrant added imperiously. "You don't want to deal with their kind. Besides, I thought Felinians did not use standard communications channels."

"They don't." Avon commented dryly, looking over Cally's shoulder and making a few adjustments. "Doesn't Zen have enough flight simulations for you to run through anyway? This does not concern you."

"I've heard of Felinians." Dayna said, joining Cally and Avon at Cally's console. "They were artificially engineered to look and hunt like cats, but they are supposedly extinct."

"Hardly." Avon returned. "Orac, what information do you have on battle damage to the Felinian systems?"

/Communications traffic would suggest several of their ships were involved in the melee. They have resorted to setting up standard communications sources. This is primarily because they have been warning ships from engaging them. An unconfirmed report some time ago was issued over general information channels which reported that Dartine was under heavy fire and had evacuated the entire population. The signal, however, is coming from Dartine, apparently being deflected off of a failing satellite in Dartine's orbit. The satellite has lost guidance and is being recaptured by Dartine's gravity well./

"Zen, lay in a course for Dartine." Avon said quietly, insistently refusing the knot in his stomach.

/Confirmed. Best speed is currently Standard by eight, time to destination approximately 6 hours./

"Fine, Zen. Keep the scanners alert for Federation traffic and stay of the way of any Felinian ships as well. Orac, keep trying to refine that signal." A single icy glare in Tarrant's direction was not enough to keep him from involving himself in something Avon did not like to have disturbed.

"What's on Dartine that we have to chase now?" Tarrant asked. Cally and Vila exchanged glances silently. Avon turned to him with typical impatience.

"I have obligations there." Avon said shortly. He felt that should put an end to the conversation only to find he had misgauged the pilot's self-preservation instincts, or perhaps it was just the annoying youthful assurance.

"I didn't think you had any of those, Avon." The pilot commented brashly.

Avon turned to him with a perfectly accommodating smile. "You're right on one point."

"The signal is strengthening, I think I can bring in the audio, there is a video signal attached, but it's weaker." Cally reported.

Silently, Avon switched the signal to Zen's main system as a weak, barely audible voice spoke through static. "Liberator, can you hear me? If you send me a locator beam I should be able to tune the frequency better. Of course, the ion interference above is not helping in the least." As Avon had feared, it was Kai's voice and though he had tried to forget it as much as possible, it triggered a variety of responses Avon was not sure he would want to give a name to.

Kai Avon had no right to exist even and it was a cruel chance of Avon's forever dark fate, with the help of the conglomerate called Novacorps and the Federation, that had allowed it. Still, he could not find it within himself to ignore the child whose life would not be if not for his own, bringing the anathema of his past squarely on the head of the four-year-old. Avon signed, opening the channel, realizing everyone was watching him and Vila was busy explaining to Tarrant and Dayna. "Are you aware that your satellite is falling out of orbit? Can you transmit without boosting through it?" Avon asked as a video signal struggled to emerge from the static they were receiving.

The video image congealed itself to show a young child, sitting atop a pile of rubble and surrounded by electronic equipment. Smoke rose in the background and lightening flashed ominously. "My instruments register a firmer fix, though I can't really rely on them, the interference in the upper atmosphere is tremendous." Kai looked up at whatever was sending his video signal and smiled. He looked decidedly singed and there were several cuts and bruises on his face. "I was beginning to think no one was out there." He said, obviously relieved and tapping his screen with irritation. "My power is limited and I thought it would be better to concentrate on trying to get a signal out while the satellite was still up there. I lost orbital boost, I tried to skip it off the atmosphere, but that didn't work, half the boosters were damaged in the attack." He looked around himself suspiciously as his dark hair whipped about in the growing winds.

Cally, at Avon's shoulder, looked at him worriedly. "Kai, are you okay? Where's your mother?" She asked.

The boy's distant eyes seemed about to give into tears, but he held them back without obvious effort. His voice was strained and quiet, afraid he would lose control. "They evacuated everyone when the attack started. All the legitimate citizens anyway. I think Giareth rather hoped I'd get blown to pieces, solve all his problems."

Cally, with a severe look at Avon, muted the communications channel and put her hands on her hips. "You can't just leave him there, Avon, he's a little boy and he's afraid and he's alone. Zen, can you get us within teleport range safely?"

Without looking enthused with the idea, but not arguing either, Avon considered his options. Certainly, the Star Commander would not care if the half human, half Felinian died on Dartine's ruined surface. Of one thing he was certain, the boy had to be returned to his mother, he certainly could not be responsible for a child at this point in is life, nor did he wish to pass his own uncertain future onto a four-year-old. Zen's report solidified his choice at this point.

/Safe teleport distance can be achieved, though atmospheric and ionic influences will make aquisition of coordinates difficult. Orbit will be achieved in five point six five hours at present speed./

If it had not made up Avon's mind, it made up Cally's. "Thanks, Zen, run course program." She keyed the communications circuit once more. "Kai, we can be there in about six hours, do you have some kind of shelter until then, it does not look safe where you are now."

"I had figured that once they hit the city, they would not strafe this area again, plus this is the highest spot, it used to be the communications complex. I think they hit the caverns because they detected the power signatures, otherwise they left the rest of the landscape untouched. I . . .didn't know what else to do you said I could contact you." The boy looked distant, wondering if it had been the best idea to waste all his resources on a call his father may very well not want to answer.

Though if he would have let himself admit it, he would much rather the child's mother be able to take care of him at this point, but he had promised the child and would always, if anything, be true to his word. "Don't worry, Kai, I'll be there. But, I do have repairs of my own to worry about, Liberator is not exactly in its best shape right now and Zen is not certain the teleport can accurately penetrate the ionic interference." Avon said defensively, studying at the same time long range scans on the atmosphere of Dartine and its highly volatile ion storms, which had apparently increased since they had last been there months ago.

Kai looked around him perceptively. "The storms come and go. The ion generators were blown up and most of the energy discharged to the atmosphere. Like a tidal effect, they are pushed back and forth across the planet by the moons. Dartine A just passed over an hour ago, though I can't see the sky through the clouds I think I know what time of day it is. Dartine B should be passing over in about 5 hours. If you stay behind it on its dark side, it will be pushing the ionic reefs in front of it, you should be able to get a lock. The fields have burned themselves out by now and I will make my way back to the coordinates I gave you before, the energy flux from the city is considerably less there." He looked at the ground for a moment, trying to keep the shaking from showing in his hands.

His eyes pleaded as he turned back to the screen, reaching out for something he needed, something Avon was not at all sure he could fill. "I wouldn't have called, I can take care of myself, but mother left without her medications. I brought out all the portables and she had made up a couple weeks supply, but it was still there, she can't be without it for long." Kai was trying without much success to keep his feelings at a tolerable level, but he was clearly near tears. He looked away purposefully, reaching behind him for the frazzled and scorched end of his tail, barely a foot long. What was left of the once thick braid was thin and the golden clasp at the end barely had anything to hold onto. Avon noticed without comment the black piano key still bound to the remaining braid. Felinians valued their tails as a symbol of their separateness. Of the several trinkets Kai had kept in it, few were left.

Dayna had come up behind Avon and peered curiously over his shoulder at the image on the screen. "He does look like you, Avon."


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