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Anathema II - Trust is only dangerous

By S.L. Koss
Page 2 of 15

Without looking at her, Avon commented clinically. "The genetic selection involved required that the choice be human or Felinian. The combination of the two does not allow for mixing of attributes, though his eyes defy explanation. He has Felinian vision, but human eyes." He reached over casually to open the connection again, puzzled. "Kai, why does your mother require medication?"

Kai looked at him curiously for a moment. "I did not think I would have to tell you, I thought you knew. I did try to reach you a few months ago, you were out of range. She's pregnant, she needs the anti-rejection meds so she does not get sick from the human DNA in her system." Kai turned as a rain of sparks flew from the electronics behind him. "That's my last battery and the generator is in no better shape, I have to shut down." He stared for a moment into the screen before the signal was gone. Though Avon was not at all sure, he thought he had seen trust in the boy's frightened eyes. No doubt it was and exercise of Avon's imagination. He had given the boy no reason to trust him and did not intend to. The absolute need to trust in no one came instinctively for Avon and had for some time, it was a difficult lesson to learn, but if he needed to, he would make sure the boy learned it.

Vila folded his arms across his chest in agitation. "Does it get any worse? Now Avon's trying to repopulate the galaxy in his own image."

Avon turned a particularly acid stare in Vila's direction and said flatly. "It isn't mine, it's not possible."

Cally turned to him almost causally. She knew she would not get any information willingly from him, but she also knew his body language well, his refusal to answer would tell her what she wanted to know. "I'll believe that, Avon. Just tell me that all you did when you went down there was talk to her."

He turned the usual lack of interest to her, but to her surprise he did answer. While it did not address the question directly, he did not like to lie outright and the form of his comment told her more than the words did. "If you had bothered to study the files Orac got on Pandora." He answered flatly, while calculating a flight path and feeding it to Zen's navigational circuits. "You would have found that the doctors on the project went through various combinations of hormones and physical stimulation just to make her fertile. Quite purposefully, it does not happen naturally, but is a response to the venom in their male's claws." He looked calmly back at Cally to assess whether he had gotten his point across. "In case you hadn't noticed, I don't have claws or venom."

"Well, your half right anyway." Vila chimed from across the deck.

"I did read something about the Gentechs who created the race wanted total control over their breeding since they used selective breeding, they had to have a way to make sure they controlled and tracked all traits and how each combination turned out." Cally said, only half convinced. Avon had too obviously not denied contact with the young doctor on his six hour trip to surface in search of answers. If he would not answer directly, she had few other choices, she had to persist, though she knew it annoyed him no end, he was entirely too calm to suit her. "I can conceded that the particular genetic adaptations made to the Felinians makes it highly improbable. But, if she is pregnant, then who is the father?"

"Giareth." Avon was coldly unequivocal and not at all disposed toward staying on the subject.

"You think he went back after you left?" Cally asked.

"He never left. The cave system is intricate and expansive beyond the living quarters. Scans before we left orbit indicated an anomaly not far from the living quarters but within range for Felinian hearing." The conversation was closed and Avon did not intend on participating any longer. He headed for his cabin where there was sure to be something to take his mind off its current line of thinking. It was without doubt he told himself impossible for the child to be his, yet, not nearly as impossible as he would have liked. The boy had been holding something back and he was sure of it. He knew very well how the boy's mind worked because it worked precisely as his did and Avon knew well redirection when he heard it. He also knew that if left with no other alternatives, Kai would have no other recourse than to try and reach Novacorps. Of one thing Avon was deadly certain, they must never know of the child's existence, the conglomerate which had been his birthright would never be his sons' and he would do gladly whatever needed to be don to keep that from happening. He stopped before Zen to give it final instructions before disappearing and leaving the others to their inevitable conjecture and snickering. "Zen, bring us in behind Dartine's moon and let me know when we're in teleport range. Meanwhile, run through all data on the Felinian race for Tarrant and Dayna."

Though she would never comment on it to the others, Cally noted the particular and intense way that he clasped his hands behind his back screamed volumes at her that he would never voice. She smiled to herself as she returned to her station.

For the next few hours, Avon remained in his quarters, idly working on stray projects. Listening half-heartedly to the conversation and comments from the flight deck conveyed through his intercom. He had adapted the circuits some time ago to pick up various areas of the ship. Information was always key and though he much preferred to remain out of range of the constant chatter that went on, he needed the information.

His own thoughts took on a different tangent as Dayna expressed surprise to find the doctor, Kai's mother was younger than she was, being only 13 when the child was born. Tarrant's comment that it would be impossible for someone of Avon's age to keep up with such a woman he tried unsuccessfully to ignore. He knew he did not like the young pilot for some reason and until he proved himself, Avon was not at all sure he needed him. The cocky pilot would be surprised indeed at how many times he had made love to her, though he had spent so much time in the interim trying his best to forget her and convince himself he had not been disloyal to Anna. Conversation had all but died down by the time Zen announced they had achieved the requested orbit and that Dartine's moon indeed cut down on the ionic interference. They were safe where they were until they came within range of the teleport coordinates. Avon got up to head back just as his intercom chimed with Cally's voice calling him.

Avon seated himself confidently behind his console, reviewing the scan data being sent to it. "Vila, what's it like down there?" He asked.

"General havoc and mayhem." Vila answered, considering his screen once more. "Most of the cities have been destroyed. The ion storms have rendered nearly everything electronic useless. Temperatures due to the constant storms have dropped to just above freezing. Zen indicates a ship has landed on the surface near our coordinates."

"Zen, put up the ship, scan for life forms in the vicinity." Avon said, looking at the main screen as a small ship appeared sitting in the midst of still smoldering grasslands.

"That's a short-range atmospheric fighter. It's intact, so it did not crash." Tarrant offered authoritatively. "Burn patterns on the nearby landscape would suggest it came in for a very precise landing under power. It's pretty beat up, it's obviously seen some action recently."

Avon studied the craft critically. There were various symbols inscribed on the wings, of the craft, it appeared to be more of a glyph of some sort rather than writing. Taking into account Tarrant's assessment, he needed more information to assess the danger represented by teleporting down there. "Zen, can you identify the markings?"

/Markings on the craft are consistent with the type used by Felinians as clan designation, there is no information on which clan is signified./

"There's nothing on the communications channels." Cally reported from her station. "Who do you think they are?"

"At least it's not the Star Commander. Major clan designations are always inscribed in gold." Avon answered. "If I had to guess, it may be Tarsia, the color matches his uniform. The Felinians are very visual, they use color to signify many things, clan designation being only one. Zen, who's down there?"

/Two life forms are confirmed./

"Fine." Avon said, heading towards the weapons cabinet and strapping one on. "Vila, operate for me."

"I'll come down with you." Cally said, retrieving a weapon of her own. Tarrant followed silently, but curiously.

As Vila slid behind the teleport console, Tarrant turned to Avon. "You don't mind if I come, do you? I'd like to get a better look at that ship."

"It's your choice, so long as you remember that if you even think of touching your weapon, whoever is down there will drop you where you stand." Avon said, putting on a bracelet and bringing an extra.

"Yeah, don't go getting yourself shot, we don't have the doctor around anymore." Vila complained as he manipulated the controls.

"Vila just put us down." Avon said, testily.

They had teleported into midday, but clouds overhead made it appear darker. Avon eyed the fighter suspiciously as he raised his bracelet. "Down and safe."

"You're coming in clear, but Zen says there's another storm coming and should be there in about three hours, so don't make yourselves comfortable." Came Vila's disembodied answer.

"Hardly." Avon commented to himself. Tarrant had started off toward the ship blithely. Avon watched without comment, taking in the surroundings quickly. Cally stood beside him, clutching her surface clothes as an icy wind blew across the scarred plain. As Tarrant neared the ship and reached out to touch the nose of the bright indigo painted craft, he froze as a deep warning growl sounded from the opposite side of the ship. Tarrant remained still, looking up at the Felinian clad in black with an indigo cloak caught by the wind who crouched on the opposite wing on the craft and pointed a rifle at him.

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S.L. Koss

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