TTC: The Cygnus War, Part 39

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The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #39 (Who We Choose To Love) By Earl S. Wynn

Izzy blinked against tears of her own as she stared out at the endless vista of stars.

Eyes tracked absently, touched upon brilliant points and followed them randomly as they slipped past, each steadily losing itself in the distances, hurrying on through the gentle rainbow dances of nebulas and far away galaxies. She knew it was all digital, all manufactured to give the crew something to look at that wouldn’t bend their minds the way the ship bent the space beyond it, but it didn’t matter. You could still lose yourself in the hypnotic patterns, could lose hours just sitting there, just quietly staring. . .

Izzy blinked at the thought, looked away. There were better things to lose hours to.

For the first time in what seemed like ages, Izzy realized she had left her quarters without a book, without something to read, and it spoke volumes to her about how hurt she was, how deep the pain really ran.

“I didn’t think anyone else would be up here.” A figure paused at the entrance to the observation deck caught her attention, stalling statuelike, hesitating on the threshold as he spoke, tray of food in hand. “It’s mid-shift for most of the crew, so I figured I’d take my lunch up here, get away from it all.”

“I’m sorry.” Izzy said reflexively, hesitating. The observation deck was huge, dauntingly massive, but she was broken inside and lost in unfamiliar territory, displaced on a ship that wasn’t hers. The deck could have spanned the entire ship and she would still have surrendered it just as quickly, just as easily. “I was. . . I was just leaving.”

“Stay. . . please.” He held up a gentle hand as she stood. “I insist. Don’t leave on my account.” He grinned, padded toward her bench, dusky eyes watching her. “I wouldn’t mind having the company, for a change.”

Izzy nodded absently and sat back down, managing a weak, half-hearted smile as he took a seat beside her and unwrapped his sandwich. The smile didn’t last long, faded almost instantly, and soon she was staring out at the stars again, lost again in the digital scenery as it scrolled slowly on.

“You’re one of the pilots.” He spoke up suddenly. “From the Von, right?” She looked up blankly and the newcomer offered his hand reflexively, smiling gently. “Name’s Ben Dimitrov, Left Rear, Anubis Squadron.”

“Lieutenant Copperfield.” She gave his hand a cursory, noncommital shake. “Nice to meet you, Dimitrov.”

“Please, call me Ben.” He grinned. “Lieutenant Copperfield.”

“Izandra.” She managed, then breathed a shaky sigh, gestured loosely. “I’m sorry.”

He paused a moment, glanced at his sandwich, then spoke up again. “You want to talk about it?”

Izzy glanced back at him, regarded him silently. “About what?”

Dimitrov gestured with the sandwich. “I can tell by your face that something’s bothering you.” He took a bite, chewed quickly, swallowed. “You’re not an LC, and it’s a different kind of sad than when a commanding officer loses a subordinate and needs to get away from things.” He stroked his chin thoughtfully, gestured with his sandwich again. “Looks like something much closer to the heart. . . like you’ve lost someone close to you?”

“It’s something like that.” Izzy dodged the question.

“It’s something deeper.” He nodded quietly. “Something that really hurts you to think about, but you keep thinking about it, because it’s too important to forget, and you just can’t get it out of your head or manage to move past it.”

“Do you. . .” She tried suddenly, then hesitated, considering. Dimitrov gave her an encouraging smile and she looked away again, fingers intertwining absently as she considered her words. “Have you ever met a GMO?”

Dimitrov blinked, considering. “A Vatgrown? Maybe one of two. I grew up on Carridan IV, in the Brijyo sector– not many Derivatives there. Keeping geneslaves is looked down upon as immoral, but they aren’t really welcome in the populace either, almost like people want to forget they even exist.” He paused thoughtfully. “I figured I’d see more once I got into the service, but they’re barred from serving in any branch of the military, so I doubt I’ve traded more than five words with one in my entire life.” He paused again, played absently with his sandwich. “How about you?”

“Just one.” Izzy began slowly. She hesitated, pulled in a shaky breath. Part of her wanted to tell him, wanted to spill the beans and repent what felt like wickedness, but another part, the stronger part, knew that betraying her friend, betraying the one woman she loved more than life itself and doing it on a broken impulse after everything they had put each other through, would be far more wicked in the eyes of the loving God whose image she clung so tightly to than anything else she could have done.

“I– I spent some time working with Pope Vultaggio, and I–” She hesitated again. “I spoke out against them, called them abominations.”

“But now you’re feeling guilty about it.” He let his eyes wander to the floor, nibbled at his sandwich. “I take it you met someone, got close, and then found out that someone was a Derivative.”

Izzy’s voice caught in her throat like a crust of ice. Slowly, weakly, she managed to move her lips, to force the tired, broken response. “Something. . . like that.”

Dimitrov nodded sagely. “It’s a boy, isn’t it? A guy you love?”

Izzy’s eyes slipped to the floor. She couldn’t help it– his words hit close enough to the truth to stir the pain up within her, to keep her silent for fear of losing all composure in front of him. She nodded, pressed the tears back into her eyes with weak fingers.

“You’ll get over it.” Dimitrov put a reassuring hand on her back. “Trust me, long distance relationships never really work out anyway.”

“Long distance?” Izzy sniffed.

“Well he’s not in the military, is he?” Dimitrov laughed. “They don’t let GMOs into the service, after all!”

“Right.” Izzy nodded, sniffed. “Sorry.”

“Look, trust me, it’s best if you just drop the relationship.” He gestured with the sandwich again. “Write him a Dear John and send it off through the QE tonight. You can even use the console in my quarters.” He took another bite, chewed, swallowed as he continued. “Think about it, Izandra. You may love him, but if you get too close, you’re only going to get hurt. GMOs can’t marry, they aren’t allowed to vote, and some systems won’t even let them out of their ships without full quarantine, like they’re diseased or something.” He shook his head. “Plus, say you decide to have kids someday, or worse– it just happens, right?” Another bite, swallow. “One accidental pregnancy is all it takes. If you carry a GMO’s baby, suddenly you fall under the same category as it and the father do. Suddenly the government steps into your life and limits your options even more severely than an unexpected kid ever could. Suddenly, you’re hated, watched constantly, stripped of all the rights and freedoms that matter– and you bring a helpless little baby into that kind of a world at the same time.” He shook his head, crumpled up the synthpaper sleeve the sandwich had come in, wadding it around the last soggy chunk of heel wedged in the bottom. “No kid deserves that. Trust me, find a guy who’s natural born, not papered.”

“Got anybody in mind?” She joked, sniffing against stifled tears.

“Not offhand.” He grinned. “Don’t get me wrong, you’re gorgeous, but I’ve already been spoken for.” He stood. “Just take it as advice from a new friend, someone trying to make you feel a little better.”

For the first time since he’d sat down, she looked at him, truly looked at him. In his on deck uniform, he was roughly handsome, hair feathery and wolf-like over eyes the color of dark amber. He smiled back again in response, face creasing over the faintest smattering of off-color freckles.

“Thanks, Ben.” She caught his hand, squeezed it gently.

“Anytime.” He grinned back. “We humans got to stick together, right?”

Izzy swallowed, smile paling, drifting back to a cold and absent stare. The words lingered, echoed in her mind like the string of a commandment, as unbreakable, unshakeable as the word of God penned by the hand of man.

We humans. . .

Full title: The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #39 (Who We Choose To Love)

Author Blurb: Classes have started again for Sac State, so I’m about twice as busy as I was last week, and I think that helps to some degree. Last semester kicked my butt, absolutely killed me with stress migranes and gas costs, but this semester I feel like I’m riding in on a wave of fire on an asbestos surfboard. If I can just keep my balance, not slip too far in any direction, I can burn through this semester without sacrificing any of my projects.

That being said, I really love this episode. A lot of irony and secret messages in this one. Originally, the series was supposed to go from Izzy leaving Tessa behind to Izzy partying it up with Mac and the others, but, as always happens, something much more meaningful came along. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Expect another surprise next week too. :)

Progress report: I’ve been revisiting #41 randomly over the past few days, tinkering, always coming into it feeling like there’s more that should be said and always leaving thinking I’ve added too much. As for later episodes, I laid down a single line for #42, and that’s it so far, but my hope is that I can whip through all the stuff I have to do today, sit down, and blast through it like plas-flechettes through a Seindrive. Or something like that.

Anyway, this is the thirty-ninth installment of TTC: The Cygnus War. You can find the previous episode here: [link] The next episode will appear on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 (PST)

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