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TTC: The Cygnus War, Part 45

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By Durkee341   |   
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Published: March 11, 2009
The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #45 (Fear and Strength) By Earl S. Wynn


“Do you know Jenkins? Phoebe Jenkins?” Tessa asked hurriedly. “She’s young, blond, from the Von.

“The Von?” The man asked. “I’ve only met one person from the Von, and her name wasn’t Jenkins.”

“She...” Tessa hesitated, looked away, eyes losing focus again. Fragments of the vision came back to her, the same man, walking up to her at the wake. She swallowed, lips parting absently as she tried to control her quickening breath, her broken thoughts. Am I crazy, or did I... She swallowed again. She’d heard of people having visions, of seeing images and events that hadn’t happened yet, but it had never happened to her, had never happened to anyone in her family. Even as high as she had scored on the precog tests, she’d never been able to see the future. She forced herself to meet the man’s questioning eyes again, forced herself to look into those dark amber mirrors that reminded her instantly of the vision, the package, the little resin figurine that betrayed her less-than-kosher heritage as plainly as anything ever could. The wake would come tomorrow, and then... and then...

“Medical is just down this way.” He turned a little, tried to lead her, but she brushed his hands aside again.

“I– just need some rest.” She grumbled. And about a horse’s dose of sleeping pills. “I came in with that ship, with the Von. It’s been a long day.”

“I bet.” He nodded sagely. “I heard what you guys went through down on Tarsis. I wouldn’t wish that kind of experience on anyone.”

“Save your sympathy for the colonists that were vaporized when the Coralate cracked the planet open.” Tessa managed. “We at least had Seindrives. We had a chance. They...”

“They had a chance to leave when the war started.” He reminded her. “The Colonial Directorate has always offered free transportation for families who decide to abandon the rim while we’re out here fighting the Coralate. They chose to stay. You know that.”

“Yeah,” Tessa managed, then looked up into his dark amber eyes. “Would you have left?” She asked almost casually. “If you had built yourself a home on the rim, spilt tears and blood and sweat to make the land your own, raised a family in the soil of a virtually untouched world like Tarsis, would you leave? Would you have accepted the Directorate’s offer and just split once the war started?”

“No.” He said quietly, shook his head. “No, I wouldn’t.”

“Me neither.” She looked away again. “I guess being stubborn is part of being human.”

“I guess.” He managed.

Tessa’s eyes wandered blankly across the walls of the corridor, absent in their meanderings, losing focus here and there as thought slipped away into a vague void of grey as dull as any bulkhead. The man moved, made some fragment of a gesture, and Tessa’s eyes snapped back, meeting his for the briefest moment before she blinked, cleared her throat, and made a slow, absent gesture of her own.

“Look, I, uh, I’m gonna go get some rest before the wake tomorrow, try to grab some sleep before the grieving starts.” She swallowed, made a face that weighed out somewhere between skepticism and a grimace, then looked up and met his eyes again. “Will I see you there, Lieutenant? Lieutenant...”

“Dimitrov” He smiled softly. “Ben Dimitrov.” He nodded briefly, hands slipping into his pockets with the shadow of a shrug. “Yeah, a friend of mine that flew with Osiris Squadron was shot down yesterday.” He nodded again. “I’ll be there.” His smile spread a little. “Maybe we’ll run into each other.”

“Hopefully not literally.” She cracked a grin.

“Hopefully,” he nodded, his own grin spreading.

“Thanks, by the way.” Tessa added, almost absently. “For helping me back there, offering to help me get to medical.”

“It’s nothing.” He brushed it off with a gesture. “Take care of yourself, Eisenherz.”

“You too, Dimitrov.” She grinned again, just lightly. Part of her wanted to say something more, wanted to ask something more... as he turned and walked away, she half turned away herself, then twisted back to catch his attention before he was out of sight.

“Hey, uh...” She trailed off. “Dimitrov?”

He turned back, the edge of a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Yeah?”

“Do you know anything about...” Her voice caught in her throat, refused to work past the knot that had tightened suddenly within. Her mouth worked soundlessly in the pause. She wanted to ask him... wanted. “Ah... that is,”

“Where you can get painkillers and sedatives without getting stabbed by the doc?” He laughed.

“Yeah...” Tessa heard herself say, breathing a silent, frustrated curse at her inability to ask him about the figure from the vision, the resin sculpt of Saint Von Mitternacht that still haunted her like a hazy specter from another life.

“The Residential Quartermaster has a few things that will probably do the trick, but I’d come back in your uniform if you plan on paying him a visit.” Dimitrov grinned. “He’s kind of a stickler for protocol.”

“Yeah.” Tessa said again, but this time it was quieter, more resigned. She couldn’t ask him about the Saint, about the figure from the vision. Answers would have to wait until the wake, until morning came, bringing with it the memories of all that had been taken from them, all they’d lost, all that was wrong and twisted about the world. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” He grinned, waved. She waved back loosely, and a moment later he was past the corner of the corridor, gone from view.

She closed her eyes quietly and stood there for a long moment, waited in silence, waited until Dimitrov’s fading footsteps passed out of her hearing, became little more than memory.

Memory...
© 2009 - 2020 Durkee341
Full title: The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #45 (Fear And Strength)

Author Blurb: Yesterday, my instructor for Short Fiction (and Euro Lit in Translation) brought in his brother and had us interview him (as a “;published superstar of flash fiction”.) What a joke. Picture this. Man starts garage band in highschool, lives in his parents’ garage until his thirties, then one day randomly scribbles down (I shit you not) a 40-ish word story (aka flash fiction) and sends it off to a major publisher who has his head so far up his crusty rectum he declares the piece “Very modern!” and publishes it. Next thing he knows, Mr. Garage Band (admitting he’s never read a book in his life) is rubbing elbows with the big shots of modern lit, and he lands a contract because he has the cojones to say “I’ve written an entire book of these” when he hasn’t written word one. Two months later (yeah.) He shifts a package of this marginal fiction off to the publisher, and bam. Now he’s #2 on some big prestigious list that no one’s ever heard of and in line for some kind of award. Of course, the other students all fawn over him “Oh, Mr. Published Author, share your secret with me...” and he has the gall to say “Only the best writing ever gets published. If a publisher doesn’t want it, it must be garbage.”

Right. like “Two people stood in a tunnel and walked toward a light” is god’s gift to literature. Is it art? Sure, why not. I mean, as much as spit on the face of a statue is art, right? Is it a story? Oh definitely. “The dog went to the market and bought cheese” is a story. I’m all about pushing the limits and breaking conventions, but there’s something to be said for a story that has some substance to it, and carries enough weight to make it interesting.

Anyway, so I was so mad yesterday after sitting through an hour and a half of that arrogance that I tracked down and sent off nine short stories I’ve been hanging onto for the past year or so. If flash fiction no longer than two sentences and constructed with all the skill of a whimsical and drug-addled cockroach can win awards, the market is gonna crap itself when my shit hits the fan.

Progress report: Just finished #47, working on #48 (I’ve been cutting, revising, rewriting huge sections of it. Heck, it’s the wake. It has to be good, right? So #49 is where the happiness and the space action starts to kick in again, and man do I have some twists for you guys! Stay tuned!

Anyway, this is the forty-fifth installment of TTC: The Cygnus War. You can find the previous episode here: [link] The next episode will appear on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 (PST)

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