Archive for November, 2012

I love a good science fiction movie where the characters are complex, the beauty of the stars a mere backdrop to the real drama of humanity. I’ve tried many times to replicate this feeling in a science fiction novel and only a very few novels have met with these expectations (“The Sparrow” and to a lesser extent “Century Rain”). But “Leviatian Wakes” gets up there. Its noir, its horror, its romance, its political thriller, its drama, all rolled into one. And its set in space. And there are space battles and mysterious alien presences and human settlements in the vast expanse of space. Told from two alternating perspectives, the story follows Jim Holden, the captain of a space ship and Miller, a middle-aged, weary cynical cop as they both race to destroy an ancient alien virus that a group of human scientists have discovered and unleashed on a galaxy that now comprises of Earth, a terra firmed Mars and a collection of colonised asteroids called the Belt. Its nicely paced, smoothly written (despite being a collaboration of 2 people) and has an impressive amount of detailed and plausible world building. I liked the world that James SA Corey create, the hopefulness of space exploration combined with the tension between the three political groups (Earth, Mars and the stations and asteroids that make up the Belt or OPA-Outer Planetary alliance). Holden’s rememberances of his childhood in the free air of Montana contrast with Miller’s own recollections of growing up in the grittiness of the Belt. The characters’ journeys are interwoven nicely into the textured suspense of the narrative as Holden and Miller desperately try to save the virus from engulfing the entire galaxy while trying to maintain their own moral centre. If there was anything that let the novel down, it was the ending. Too quick and sudden, I felt that there needed to be more reflection at the end about where the characters were and where they might possibly be going next. Despite being the first of a trilogy, the ending of this book need not have been quite so abrupt. The epilogue felt more like reading a dot point summary of what the author(s?) intended to write rather than a real epilogue. Nonetheless, the next book is eagerly awaited.

CLEAVE

Posted: November 23, 2012 in Fanfiction
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CLEAVE

Summary: Two brothers. Jealousy. Hate. Loss.

Timeline: Set about 30-40 years after the events depicted in The Peacekeeper Wars (Farscape).

Rating: R for some violence.

Category: Drama.

Acknowledgements: All my favourite female crime writers; Laura Lippmann, Karin Slaughter, Penn Williamson who show me that writing about horribly violent things is all about the character.

Disclaimer: All things “Farscape” belong to the Jim Hensen Company, Hallmark Entertainment, Channel 9 Australia and the Sci-Fi Channel. I do not own these characters and do not receive any profit from this endeavour.

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He held his brother’s hand, clasped it, strong and firm. It was still warm. Each moment longer that he sat there, his brother’s body became heavier as it sank into the hard floor. The blood was everywhere and he could see its red gleam splattered on the walls in the grey light. There was a low hissing sound still coming from the body as death closed in on it. He felt his own hate snake out of him, uncurling and slithering away. He sat there, spent, in the shadows of his brother’s death, and the cold crept up through him and brought with it the unforgiving ache of emptiness.

*****

SOME TIME BEFORE

The command carrier hovered in silent space, on the edge of Peacekeeper territory. It sat, dark and brooding, waiting for the fleet to arrive. It held, in its bowels, a colony of prisoners on their last journey through deep space. They were kept chained in their cells, their every movement watched and tracked. All were accounted for, all except one who sat hunched in a cargo bay as the high pitched ring of the alarm rang through the ship. Heavy waves of soldiers pounded down the steel corridors. It was easy for Kael to slip away, leave his crew to their hunt and listen to the pull of his own heart. He threaded his way through his ship, honing in on the prisoner, closing in on his brother.

Kael could sense his brother before he saw him. He always could. It started with a quickening in his blood, a tingling that went through him and a low distant hum that resounded in his ear. He kept still, listening and waiting. He heard D’Argo shift and saw his shadow spill out from behind a crate. Sticky sweat trailed down Kael’s neck as he rested his arm on his gun holster. Slick fingers curled round the handle of the weapon. He was so close to him, one, two steps and he would be on him, bringing him down. He itched to have him. Instead he held back, his sharp gaze on the other man’s form. D’Argo was taller than him, lean, almost gangly. His dark hair was recently shorn and except for the eyes, they were nothing alike. Kael saw the calm cocky stance of his brother and he felt the grip of hate stir within him. It tasted bitter, a foul taste that lingered on his tongue.

D’Argo moved away from the crate, taking slow steps to the door. Kael followed behind him, silent steps tracing his brother’s path. Then before D’Argo reached the doorway, Kael lunged at him, pulling him back, slamming him hard against the wall. He twisted his arm around and held the butt of his gun to D’Argo’s neck.

“Going somewhere?” Kael sneered, his body pressing into D’Argo, a rising elation sweeping him. The other man, stood winded, his face impassive. Then he broke into a grin that he aimed at Kael.

“Well, y’all aren’t really known for your hospitality.”

Kael hit him again. A punch this time, to his chest and then another that dug into the side of D’Argo’s face. The humming was getting louder and Kael could barely control himself. He wanted to hurt him again, and again but he let his brother lie there trying to pull himself together. He felt blinded by the rage that leapt through him. It burnt him. He reached over then and pulled his brother up, holding him up against the wall, the gun digging deeper into his skin.

“DON’T get smart with me,” Kael whispered in his brother’s ear, his breath hot against his skin.

“Or what?”

“Or I will pull this trigger.”

D’Argo gave a short laugh and lifted his gaze to Kael. “Go ahead then. Pull the trigger. Frell my brains out. Make me a goddamn martyr.”

The gun stayed on D’Argo’s neck, cool metal against hot skin. Burning into him. Kael wanted to hold him like this for a long time, pressing the gun into him, slowly, teasingly pushing him over the edge, making him suffer.

“You won’t do it,” D’Argo whispered. “High command wants me alive.”

“Well, maybe I don’t want you alive,” Kael answered, his eyes cold.

“Why, I’m just another job, aren’t I? Catch the rebel, tie him up in a nice little bow and hand him over to high command. That’s what you peacekeepers do, isn’t it? Follow orders.”

Kael smiled a cold hard smile and he leaned into D’Argo’s ear. “But I’m not just here for high command. I’m here for me.”

“What the frell for?” Kael asked, his voice rising in pitch.

“Because I’ve wanted you for a very long time. Now that I have you, I am NOT letting you get away.”

“But I’m just small fry, Commander. One tiny little resistance leader in a whole universe of peacekeeper enemies.”

“Don’t underestimate yourself …. brother,” Kael whispered, his gaze hard on D’Argo, wanting to hurt him, his fingers tight on his pulse pistol. His brother stood unflinching and Kael pulled away slightly. The spray of spit caught him offguard, landing wet and hot on his cheek. Kael pulled D’Argo to him again and slapped him, rough and sharp across the taller man’s face. “You are frelling with your life, brother.”

“Don’t call me that. I am not your brother, you murdering peacekeeper sonabitch,” D’Argo said.

“On that you are wrong, D’Argo Crichton,” Kael answered. “I gather our father did not tell you about my existence.”

“You lying bastard,”

Kael felt the sting of the words dig into him. The familiar hurt squeezed into him, and the old memory clung to him like a scar. The man with his strange words and his mother’s body lying cold in her grave. The young boy lost and drifting, waiting for the father that never came, the other family that turned him away.

Kael lifted his pistol, trialled it slowly up the side of D’Argo’s face and rested its butt on the edge of his temple. “Do you not hear that? That low humming that sits inside your brain? Have you not noticed how it is louder now that it has ever been in your life? And what about Scorpius, who lives with you, inside your mind? Is he trying to talk to you now, can you hear him? I can, he’s calling you, he’s calling me.”

“It’s not Scorpius.”

“What?”

“The man, it’s not Scorpius, it’s Harvey.”

“You can call him whatever the frell you want, but he’s still in you and he’s still in me. We’re the same, D’Argo. Frelling half-breed freaks with voices in our heads.”

D’Argo leaned into Kael. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. My father hated your mother, that peacekeeper bitch.”

The force that hit D’Argo knocked him to the ground. Kael held him down, straddled him, one hand on D’Argo’s chest and the other on his gun. He felt the anger in him burning through his skin. He pressed deep into his brother’s body, crushing him with his weight, trying to focus on the hard feel of his hand on D’Argo’s chest, trying to shift away from the ringing in his ears. One more thrust, one more pull of the trigger and he could end it, kill this man. D’Argo fought back. A push and tussle, uneven kicks, frantic grabs in the grey light, and the two men pounded into each other, the pulse pistol lying forgotten on the hard ground.

Kael felt the sting of each punch as it sliced through him. Blood seeped from the wounds on his knuckles. He felt a raw grasping breath in his throat, squeezing into him. He saw the shadow of his mother over him, her deep dark eyes shifting away, beyond him. A quick slide of his hand and he lifted the blade to his side. He saw his father’s eyes, their clear unrecognising glint catching in the light. He thrust. Pulled back. Another thrust. He felt his brother fall, his weight pulling him down with him. Kael pulled the blade out, a rough slice that tore open the bleeding hole in his brother’s chest. Deep red blood bubbled out of D’Argo and Kael slid back, dropping the knife, its handle suddenly too hot and slimy in his hand.

The humming died down, fading into an echo in his ear and a silent scream rose in his mind. His brother lay slumped on the ground, eyes still open, slow breaths whispering out of him. Kael saw the knife on the ground, its sharp edges dirty and stained. He lifted it, turned it slowly around and pressed its tip into himself. He held it there an empty moment, watching the thin cut fill with his own blood. He grasped the handle harder, steadying himself for one final onslaught. Kael felt a light weak pressure moving his hand down. He looked across at D’Argo, seeing his brother’s face again, pale and drawn but with eyes that looked at him. A soft voice filled the space around Kael, he leaned in, listening. “I always wanted a brother.”

He watched as D’Argo closed his eyes, slow murmurs coming from him. He saw the slow rise of D’Argo’s chest still and the quiet filled his head. Kael touched D’Argo’s hand, lifted it, resting it in his own. He sat, cradling his brother and he held his brother’s hand, clasped it, strong and firm.

**** THE END ****

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW. JUST A FEW ABOUT THE WORLD THIS STORY IS SET IN.

For all the fantasy novels that are published each year, few actually reach the heights of fantasy greats such as George R.R Martin and Robin Hobb. But Mark Lawrence does just that, he has reminded us how good fantasy can be when its done really, really well. His protagonist is Prince Jorg, who at 10 years of age witnessed his mother and brother slaughtered on the orders of his father’s enemy, Count Revan. Jorg himself was severely wounded in the attack but as his physical injuries fade, his emotional trauma intensifies and he becomes filled with a white hot rage and develops an obsession to seek out the Count and avenge his loss. He turns away from childhood and becomes instead brutal, violent and cold. He shuns all goodness in the form of love, affection or forgiveness lest it make him weak and unable to cling onto the rage within him. He runs away from his father, King Olidon and spends the next 4 years roaming the land with a band of rogue criminals, looting, plundering and whoring. When he finally stumbles upon his father’s old priest, held captive, he frees him and decides to return home, hoping for recognition from the King. This is not what eventuates and along the way he finds himself attacking an impenetrable fortress, dallying with ghosts and monsters and seeking revenge once more from his mother’s murderer.

Many reviewers have described Jorg as evil, horrific, an anti-hero who despite his actions endears a certain amount of charm. I think this completely misses the point of the story. Jorg is neither evil nor an anti-hero. He is a complex character layered with all the emotions that make us human – grief, despair, pain, anger, pride and ultimately, love (for without it, how can there be grief?). The action in the story is no more terrible or violent than in any other fantasy novel – people do get murdered, blood is spilled, people are betrayed. But what we do get that very few other fantasy novels have is absolutely splendid writing, taut and beautiful and we get Jorg, with all his darkness and cunning. He is endearing because like his old tutor, we see him as the man he could be – smart, noble and great.

What we also get is imaginative world building, for the world that Jorg inhabits is a medieval world set 1000 years in our post apocalyptic future. It is a broken empire ruled by ambitious kings and inhabited by spirits and monsters with powers and the dead who come to life (zombies??). And underneath it all are the remnants from our own doomed era, secret hidden arsenals of nuclear weapons and treasure troves of our own forgotten world. It makes for an intriguing narrative linked together by the Shakespeare quoting Jorg with his Macbeth like tortured ambition and the raw naked grief of Hamlet.

What a gift this story is. I only hope that the rest of the story lives up to the brilliance of this first book.

The intriguing thing about the WOOL stories is that they focus on what comes after the apocalypse happens, after the dust settles and the new world unfurls. Its not the apocalypse that we are concerned about, its how the world adapts, falters, grows. And yet, despite this, there is still an echo threading through of what came before and as a reader, the mystery of what caused the world to collapse and who made the silos is like an itch that niggles. Second Shift is the second part in a middle trilogy within the Silo series that focuses on this Before. First Shift takes place largely in the time before the silos while Second Shift sits after the catastrophe but before the events in Wool (I am assuming, its not completely clear how the events in Second Shift relate, time wise with the events in Wool). The story continues to mesmerise and we now know what catastrophic event forced people into the silos. Hugh Howey does a good job of both unravelling one mystery while creating more questions. Is only certain memory erased? What is the ultimate aim of those in charge? Who else remembers? What about Jules? How do the events in Second Shift relate to her and the other characters in the earlier Wool stories? If there is one flaw to Second Shift, its that these new mysteries and questions, made me impatient to get this story over with. I wanted to get ahead of myself and perhaps failed to just relax and sink into the story of Second Shift. Perhaps this is a characteristic of all linkage stories and this is certainly a story that links the Before with the After. And when the story ends, its both tragic and hopeful, twin emotions that one of the main characters, Donald, faces each moment he is awake in the silos. We are then left wanting and waiting both in hope and trepidation of what Howey has in store for the Silos.

The Dark

Posted: November 15, 2012 in Speculative fiction
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This is a story I wrote a while back. Its the impetus of another longer story that I’ve also been working on that unfortunately is currently sitting in the “later/too hard/abandoned” basket.

The Dark

Hana trailed her hand down his chest, feeling her way over skin and muscle.  She like the feel of him under her, his strength nesting her, her own body sinking into him.  She followed the lines of the scars on his chest with her fingers, her heart as always catching at the sight of them.  She knew their pattern by now, how the ropes had burned him as they strung him up, how the wounds had bled open and raw and how the scars that remained were rough, more obvious as the weight fell off the body they coursed.  She thought of her own scars across her body and the unrelenting presence of the war that had marked them there.  She felt his hand on her breast and she closed her eyes, needing the warmth of him on her, his breath at her throat.  She kissed him on the mouth, deep and long, a surge of happiness piercing her.  He rolled her over, his weight not pressing into her, her body open with wanting.  She pulled him to her, felt him inside her and pulled him deeper, and all the time she is calling his name in despair, in hope, Karl, Karl.  She hears the thud of the bed, his low moans and her own voice ringing in her wars and for a moment, she forgets.

The morning hovered over the city like a reluctant lover.  A dull light filtered through dark clouds.  People stepped from their homes released from the night’s curfew.  They moved quickly without lingering, faces drawn, eyes watchful.  Hana looked down at the city, the strong taste of nicotine burning her throat, the cigarette smoke wafting in front of her.  She hated this city now, its battered ugliness a constant reminder of what it had survived.  The traces of four years of war with the Otherworlders clung to it in every crevice.  Buildings stood empty, long abandoned by their occupants.  Rubble cascaded across whole city blocks, burying furniture and people beneath them.  Hana looked up at the horizon and saw columns of grey smoke rising in the distance.  The city now stood in quiet desolation while the fighting continued in the outlying areas, the burning rage of the Otherworlders sweeping through once green and lush fields.

A creak sounded outside her apartment and Hana pushed herself away from the window sill when she saw the brown envelope slide under her door.  She barely looked at it as she slid it under the rug.  She felt the old twist of pain in her chest as she went back to the window, picking up discarded clothes along the way.  For a while she stood at the window, the clothes in her hand, watching the sky and remembering the first time the bombs had fallen, a torrent of sound and fire.  Then she turned back to the apartment, moved on with her tidying and organising, not looking at the threadbare rug.  She heard Karl in the shower, and breathed it in, this remnant of domesticity, and cradled it like a mother.

“You don’t have to clean my clothes up, you know.  I’m going to put them back again.” Karl’s voice surprised Hana and she looked up and smiled.

“Old habits, I guess.” She handed his clothes to him and watched as he dressed himself.  In the morning shadows, she could barely see his scars.  His damaged body looked almost new, fresh and clean.  He tugged his jeans on and she saw the flash of his ring in the light.  Carol’s ring, she thought and she felt a flush of envy on her cheeks.  She saw how the blue tones in it caught the light, of how they sat with ease and familiarity in their gold band and she thought again how nice it must be for Karl to be able to have something to remember Carol by that did not burn into his soul with pain and grief.  She had nothing of Bill’s, no photos, no old letters or well worn shirts.  Everything had gone, she had burnt them all.  Karl laced his belt through his jeans and she thought again with that sliver of envy how comforting it must be to have one’s loved ones die a natural death.  How easy it must be, to be prepared, to watch them sink slowly into the dreamless sleep of death.  There had been no scorched faceless body for Karl to claim, just Carol’s soulless body, given up finally to the cancer that swept through her.  How lucky, Hana thought, and felt herself blush with the shame of the thought.  Then she thought of Sam and how the only thing she had left of him was the thin scar across her belly and a cold hardness inside her.

“You know that beef dish of mine, the one with the lemongrass?” Karl asked and Hana drew her thoughts back to him.

“The one you made a few months ago?”

“Yeah, that one.  I’ve managed to get hold of some beef.  Do you want to come over later, after work?”

“I can’t see you later.  Mum’s been asking for me, I thought I should go and see her,” Hana said, the lie slipping easily from her.  Karl nodded his head as he worked his foot into his boot.  he looked up at her, a light frown on his face.  “Take care,” he said and she nodded, her eyes on the deep imprint his boot had made on the rug.  She reached for him then, wrapping herself round him, bringing her mouth close to his ear.  “You too,” she whispered, her voice unsteady, longing to be able to keep him with her and hold the day at bay.  She felt his clean shirt, pressed and neat on his body and she wanted to keep him always like this, near her and free from the mud and dirt of the battles.  When he left she ran to the window watching him walk away, leaving her alone in the empty apartment with its unmade bed and dirty dishes.

She finished another cigarette before she looked at the envelope.  She took it out from under the gun and held it in her hands for a while, feeling its weight, trying to guess what her next hit was.  When she finally slit it open, she stared at what she read, a slow sliding dread breaking through her.  Sizan.  The Leader.  Paradise Healing Centre 209 dead, Aureallis docklands 11 dead, Crispin Gardens 112 dead.  She read on and on and at the last line, her breath stopped while deep rumbles of gunfire strained the air.  Orchard School 412 dead. She slowly let the breath out of her mouth and she got her gun out then, laying its pieces on her bed and with firm hands that once brought fragile life into the world, Hana cleaned the pieces of her gun, dusting dirt off the edges till they shone bright in the grey morning.

The city at night was a different place.  The streets emptied abruptly when curfew fell.  The distant smoke that had drifted in during the day from the fighting hundreds of kilometres away still hung about, pressing in on the dark night, bringing with it a hint of burning wood.  Lights peaked out from drawn curtains.  Buildings sat closed and waiting.  A lonely wind rustled along the dark streets.  Hana moved through them now, her forged pass tucked deep in her pocket.  But still she hurried, not trusting that the pass would save her if she was stopped by the police.  She knew the streets and her near blindness in the black night did not make her falter.  She felt her way along familiar roads, side streets and tunnels.  She had lived in this city all of her life but she never knew it as well as she did now.  She knew every turning, every short cut, every hidden doorway.  She lost track of the number of times she had moved through the dark streets, wiping wet blood off her hands as she hurried, her gun strapped tightly to her body.

She felt energised tonight.  She would try to get him in one bullet.  It would be, she knew, a merciful killing for one that had murdered so many.  But she saw an end now and she did not want to waste more time.  She hurried on.  When she arrived at her destination, she paused a moment by the door, waiting for her breath to slow down.  Then she slipped her gun from its hiding place, fed the codes into the lock and quietly let herself in.

It did not take her long to move through the darkened house to the room that she knew he would be in.  Her sources were never wrong.  She had her gun clasped in her hand and the moment she turned into the doorway, she knew that she had her target in sight.  He stood, his face half concealed by the shadows that the dim night light cast on him.  She did not give herself time to think as she aimed and fired.  But he had sensed her a moment before and in the half light, he moved, only slightly but just enough so the bullet lodged in his side rather than in the deep cavity of his chest.  In that moment, as the bullet pushed itself free from the vice of her gun and her hand jerked back slightly at the force of it, Hana caught the glint of something, shiny and bright.  As he fell to the ground, catching the side of his body as he fell, there was only one thing that Hana saw, one thing that her eyes noticed, the gold and blue ring that lay tight around his finger.  She followed him to the ground and all the while there was a tearing inside of her and she sank, deeper and deeper, drowning in her own pain.

She did not know how long she sat facing him, watching him trying to stem the blood that poured out of his side.  His breathing was ragged and deep moans escaped him.  “Oh God, oh God,” he said, over and over and she listened to him, her eyes unflinching, her fingers still round the butt of the gun.  When he turned to look at her, she saw lines that she never knew he had.

He tried to talk some more but his words came out disjointed and she had to listen hard to hear him.  “You’re in the resistance.”

“The people’s army,” she corrected him and she did not recognise the calm detached voice she heard.

She heard him give a small laugh.  “God, and I was worried those damn cigarettes would kill you.” He started to give half cries and she knew that he was in pain by the way he sat hunched over his side and the panic that broke through his voice.  His blood pooled on the floor and the tang of copper in the air made her dizzy.  The room felt stuffy and she could feel the dark closing in on her.  She matched his ragged breathing with her own rasping breaths.  She could not bear to look at his face, the lips once kissed.

“Why are you on their side?” she asked after awhile, feeling a rush of tears on her face.

“I’m on my people’s side.”

“Your people?  You’re an Otherworlder?”

“Yes, though we call ourselves the Shin-An.”

“I don’t care!” Hana cried, feeling the anger bursting from her.  “Your people have killed thousand of innocent people.  Your people crossed the border with guns and bombs.  You killed hundreds of people.  You’re a monster.”

“I’m a monster?  Hana look at me.  Look at what you’ve done.” Karl said, his voice even, his blue eyes on her.  “How many hits have you done, Hana? How many of us  have you killed?”

Hana felt a hard pounding in her chest.  She sat looking at him, her silence lay like a cloak around her.  “My God, Hana.  You’re Dark Eyes, aren’t you?  Asha, Minte, Ray.  You did them all, didn’t you?”

Hana saw a streak of lightning through the window.  A summer storm.  She lifted the gun again.  “They deserved to die.  Asha blew up a university laboratory.  Nine scientists died, one was pregnant.”

“He was trying to save his wife.  Do you know what they were doing in that lab?  Making toxins that they fed into our streams, filling our water with poison.  You didn’t know that did you?  That wasn’t in your brief was it?” Karl’s anger jarred on her.

“It doesn’t matter.  That doesn’t matter.  He wasn’t innocent.” Hana heard the burst of rain as it broke through the sky.  She remembered Asha.  Her fourth hit, long ago, when she still kept track of the numbers.  She remembered the clean hole the bullet made in his skull, the thin thread of blood that ran smoothly down his face.  She remembered how she had moved through the dark towards home that night and how the numbness had sat deep in her belly, spreading itself through her that when she got home, she could barely open her door, the keys slipping through her fingers.

Hana stood up and moved slowly to Karl, the boards beneath her feet creaking with every step.  When she was up close to him, she bent down, almost touching him.  His face looked pale and she pressed her gun into his temple, feeling his fear pour off him.  She felt her throat constrict and heat fill her body.  Her head filled with the sound of Sam’s laughter and her finger tightened itself round the trigger of the gun.  She could almost see the hole that she would put in the side of his head, how the bullet would bury itself in his skull, piercing through tissue and vessels.  She tried to pull the trigger but her fingers lay useless round the gun.

Karl slumped against the wall behind his back.  HIs voice, when he spoke was quiet but authoritative, a trace of the old lecturer still lingered in his tone.  “A war doesn’t start with bombs.  It starts with subjugation, the plundering of resources, starvation, poverty.  Enemies are not born, they’re made.  God, Hana, think, think, its never as simple as good and evil, is it?”

She stood, threw the gun spinning across the floor.  It hit the wall behind him with a thud and they both winced, drawing deep breaths.  “Sam went to Orchard School.”  She looked at him when she said this and she watched him close his eyes, soft tears sliding down his face.  She kept going, unable to stop this rush of words.  “He had a sore throat that day but I still sent him to school.  They were short at work, I had to go.  I should have kept him home.  He should be here now.” The pain clawed at her and she held her arms round herself for fear that she would break.

He was crying as much as she was now.  She remembered a day, two years ago, when they had only known each other a short time.  It was summer, a hot lazy day.  The way had been going for a while but the city still had places that looked beautiful, where one could lie in the green grass and taste the scent of budding flowers.  They huddled together basking in the splendour of the day when overhead the creeping sound of a plane broke through the clouds.  The splattering of bullets cut through the air, sending people for cover.  Hana had stood there, an overwhelming urge to run into the fire of bullets overtaking her. She ran, towards the plane, strands of grass still in her hair.  He pulled her back, roughly against him.  “Let me go!” she yelled at him and he held her head with his hands, close against him and said, “Fight it, fight it, don’t let them get to you.”

She looked at him now.  He had lost a lot of blood; the floor around him was stained with it.  She moved to the bed and pulled the sheets off.  She started to tear them into strips and when she finished she went to him and pulled his hand away from the wound.  The blood still seeped from the hold and the wound was deep.  He leaned into her and she could smell him.  He smelt of coffee and beer and she almost stopped, wanting to kiss his neck and taste him again.  Instead, she started to wrap the cloth round his body.  Round and round she went, pulling it tight over the wound.  “Thank you,” he whispered to her.  “You need a doctor.  You need to go to hospital,” she said and looked away from him, unable to say more.

“My phone. On the desk.  Ring RC.  The number’s there.  Tell him I’ve been shot.”

After she did this. she moved over to Karl once more, felt his skin, checked his wound.  The blood sat in a congealed mass over the side of entry and Karl sat still, his skin clammy to her touch.  He kept his eyes closed and when she lifted a finger up to his neck, she felt a soft pulse beating against his skin.  He said something, so faint she could barely hear.  “Go.  Better go.  Now.” She pulled herself away from him, feeling a tired ache in her bones.  She remembered watching him that morning, from her window, walking away and how she had felt a sharp pain then at his leaving.  She stepped away from him but as she turned to go, he lifted his hand, reached for her own and she felt the expanse of his hand on hers.  But it soon slipped from hers and she kept moving to the door and away from him.

There was a sharp click and her body tensed, bracing itself for a bullet expecting a slice of pain to hit her any minute.  But a shot never came and she kept moving, not looking back.  As she stepped outside, a heavy rain slashed into her face and she ran into it, her heart beating unevenly and her body trembling.  She moved into the dark, feeling the tears on her face and his dried blood on her hands.  She felt herself breaking then and the smell of burning air lined her lungs, tearing into her.

Ibu

Posted: November 15, 2012 in Fanfiction
Tags: ,

The first bit of Farscape fanfiction I wrote.  God, I miss that show.

Summary: This is about lots of things but on the surface its about a heavily pregnant Aeryn and a blind Chiana hiding from intruders who have boarded Moya.

Timeline: Set sometime after the events depicted in the episode “Bad Timing”

Rating: PG-13

Category: Drama

Disclaimer: Farscape is the intellectual property of The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network Australia and the Sci-Fi Channel. I do not own these characters but have used them to explore a variety of life themes. My thanks to the creators of Farscape for creating such a rich tapestry to work from. Naturally, I do not intend to sell or profit from this story in anyway.

Acknowledgements: My heartfelt thanks to those who have read various drafts and offered their insights.

Even through the pain Moya had moments of clarity. She felt the intruders tear through her hungry for the life she held in her, the richness that filled her. She knew what they sought, felt what they did and was paralysed to stop them. She felt them moving inside her, their rough voices searing her senses. I have lost myself in this, she thought. She wanted them to be gone, to take what they wanted and to leave her. Let me die she thought. Let it be now. The pain, it came in waves. Strong. Intense. Unbearable. Then it ebbed and left her drained. Each time she hoped it would be the last but the lull only preceded a more forceful reckoning. I could end it, she thought. Surrender. Shut down. But even through her pain she had moments of clarity. It would not happen. There was more to lose than her own life. She could not save Rygel but Aeryn and Chiana still lived. She could protect them, save them. Her sense of them was faint, drowned out by the roar of pain in her body. But they were there, in the shaft, tier 8. Hiding. Waiting.

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The shaft was narrow and dark. It spread, like tentacles throughout the ship, a maze of hidden connections. The two women sat huddled in it. Listening.

“How much longer do you think they’ll take?” Chiana asked.

“How the frell do I know?”

Chiana bit back a retort. It still surprised her that they were alive. They should have died long ago when the first fire ripped through tier 7. The intruders had come when they slept. It had been Aeryn that pulled her out of bed, dragging her to the shaft as they tried to find some makeshift-hiding place. Frell. How long had they been here? Two, three arns? She was used to hiding, that was the easy part. What was not so easy was staying put, hearing them tear Moya apart, stripping her bare.

“We should do something, Aeryn. We can’t just let them do this.”

“And what could two of us do? You’re blind, Chiana. And I’m too pregnant to do much good. There are hundreds of them. All armed. All over the frelling ship. We sit and we wait. We go out there now and we’re frelled”

“Yeah, well we’re frelled if we do and we’re frelled if we don’t.”

Aeryn sighed. Her head ached. She could not think straight. Chiana was right, they should do something. They should have done something. Before. When the Intakar first boarded. That was the moment to strike. But she had missed it. She closed her eyes and saw a vision of her former self. She would have reacted, attacked, defended them. She would have stopped this or at least have died trying. But she was gone. Aeryn shifted. The baby weighed her down. She rested her hand on her belly.

“I say we crawl our way to Pilot’s den. We work with Pilot and Moya. We do something”, Chiana persisted.

Aeryn looked at Chiana, who stood with her eyes wide, her body posed for attack. Aeryn nodded her head slightly, placed her hand in Chiana’s and led the way. She felt her way along the shaft, listening to the movements of the Intakar, letting her hands guide her where there was no light. The walls snaked round leading them deeper into Moya. Aeryn found herself struggling, her body made cumbersome by the baby, slight cramps creeping up her legs. She did not recognise herself anymore. She was slow, awkward, heavy. I have lost myself in this, she thought. Everything was different. She led them along, her footsteps no longer confident or purposeful. She was hesitant. She dragged herself and Chiana forward till finally she had to stop, her breath shallow and uneven.

“Are you OK?” Chiana whispered.

“Yes. Just need to catch my breath.” Aeryn replied.

“How much longer?”

“Not long. It shouldn’t be too far off now”.

Chiana waited while Aeryn rested. She felt Aeryn’s quick gasps of air, sensed the weariness that enveloped her. She wasn’t quite sure if they would make it, if Aeryn would make it. So much for frelling bed rest, she thought. She felt the tug of Aeryn’s hand as she was pulled further through the shaft.

“We’re here. I can see Pilot. It looks as if they’ve been through here already. We’ll need to be quick, I’m not sure if they’ll be back. Follow me?”

“Are you crazy? You aren’t going anywhere.”

“What do you mean? I thought this was the plan”

“No, the plan was that we would crawl to Pilot’s den and then I would sneak out to Pilot while you cover me. I just didn’t mention that bit. You still got the pulse pistol?”

“I’m not letting you go out there on your own, blind, unarmed when they could be round the corner.”

“Look. I can do it. One of us needs to watch for them, and I sure can’t do that. Trust me. I’m blind but I still know Moya. I can still find my way to Pilot. Besides, by the time you get over there, they’ll be back.”

Aeryn released Chiana’s hand and watched her slither out of the hatch and work her way to Pilot. She held the pulse pistol tight, aimed, ready to fire. She scanned the room, listening for sounds of the returning Intakar. The room had been destroyed, the paneling torn free of Moya. Pilot’s console was gone, an empty casing stood where it once lay. Aeryn’s eyes rested on Pilot. She drew them away, the hurt was too much. This was supposed to be a safe system. This was supposed to be the end. Journey over. Life begin. She remembered the lightness of John’s kiss as he left. Don’t worry baby, we won’t be long. We go down to the planet, chose a settlement, come back. Two solar days max.. What could happen? Invaded by a ruthless group of pirates, that’s what. Aeryn tightened her grip on the pistol. She felt another cramp.

Chiana threaded her way across Pilot’s den. Twenty paces right then ten paces left. She tried to concentrate and ignore the foul stench of rotting flesh that invaded her senses. Soon, soon she would be with Pilot. For once she was glad that darkness surrounded her, sparing her the sight of Moya bleeding. She knew that she was close to Pilot. She heard his breathing, ragged, laboured. She reached out and her hand grazed Pilot. She moved forward, keeping her hand on Pilot, feeling his rough, broken body. She did not need her lost sight to know that he sat crumbling in front of her. Dying.

“Oh, Pilot, what have they done?”

“They have invaded us and stolen our lives. There is nothing you can do Chiana. You must leave now. Moya and I implore you.”

“No.No. We’re not leaving you here. There must be something we can do. Tell me how we can get them off Moya. We’ll do that then we’ll get you and Moya to a healer.”

“Its…too late, Chiana. Moya and I will not survive for much longer. You must save yourselves. Moya has been able to secure the doors to the hanger. You and Aeryn can get there from here. Follow the shaft.”

“No Pilot. That’s not an option. We’ll send a distress call to D’Argo and John. Or we could release a toxin. Frell, there’s lots of things we could do. Don’t give up!”

“Go, Chiana. It is our time to die. Moya and I both know it. If you do not save yourself, you WILL die. The Intakar do NOT take prisoners. What do you think they will do with a pregnant Sebacean?”

Chiana felt herself trembling. She ran her hands down his face, closed her eyes and remembered what he looked like, how his beautiful eyes would enfold her with love. One of his arms traced the course of a tear as it trickled down her cheek. There was nothing more to say. She could not argue with that. Moya and Pilot for the baby. Chiana slowly moved away. She became slowly aware of sounds approaching the den. Footsteps, drawing closer.

“Chiana! Chiana, hurry, there’s someone coming!”

Aeryn’s voice rang out and Chiana turned around. She felt herself stumble. Where was she? How many paces? Was she even facing the right way?

“Aeryn. Aeryn, where are you?”

Aeryn saw Chiana slip. She tried to crawl out, to catch her, help her back. She felt another spasm and stopped, her voice catching in her throat. The door to Pilot’s den opened. A large balding Intakar stood in the doorway. He saw Chiana and headed towards her. Aeryn fired. She felt the force of the pulse as it left her pistol. She heard the bolt sear into him and saw him fall. She doubled over, another spasm rocking her.

“I’m here, Chiana.”

“Is he dead?”

“Yes. Hurry. There will be others after him.”

Chiana felt her way to Aeryn, grabbing onto her. She felt the roundness of Aeryn’s belly and her tears washed down her face. Moya and Pilot for the baby.

Aeryn pushed Chiana into the shaft, her own despair echoed in Chiana’s mourning tears. She turned to see Pilot, his gaze enveloped her. His eyes lowered as he inclined his head toward the open shaft bidding her to go. She nodded. He knew, she thought, knew that her heart was breaking. How can I do this? She thought. How can I leave him? She hesitated, not knowing what to do.

“Go, Aeryn….go. Moya and I want you to be safe.”

Aeryn nodded again, turning, tears stinging her eyes. She kept walking, reached for Chiana and led her away from the den. She held Chiana, sheltered her from the pain. To the hanger. To John. Leave Moya. Leave everything. She kept moving, crawling through the shaft, leading Chiana, not thinking of anything but moving forward. She could still hear the Intakar moving around outside, laughing, reveling in their find, their treasure trove of a dying Leviathan. Then she stopped as a flash of pain swept through her. A moan escaped her.

“What’s the matter?” Chiana whispered.

“A cramp, just … a cramp,” Aeryn breathed sinking into the ground. She closed her eyes. Ride it out, ride it out. Another moan, louder this time, filled the dense air. She felt her belly; it was tight. She could feel it contracting beneath her hands.

“Aeryn, what is it? You’re scaring me”

“I’m scaring you?” Aeryn answered, a wry smile playing on her lips. “I’m OK. Just all this crawling around is giving me cramps. I’ll be fine once we get out of here”. Her voice was too light, too shrill to ease Chiana’s unease.

Aeryn tried to move again, then stopped. She sensed it before she felt the rush of warmth spill down her legs. She felt its stickiness against her thighs. The baby. Coming. We are lost. She looked up and met Chiana’s fearful eyes.

“Is it coming?” Chiana asked.

“Yes” Aeryn whispered all hope leaving her. “I can’t …go on. You go.”

“Stop talking dren, I’m NOT leaving you.”

Chiana gripped Aeryn’s hand as another spasm coiled round the labouring woman. She sat there together with her friend, tensing when another pain came, sinking with relief when she felt its end. They rocked, their bodies bunched together on the cold floor. The only intrusion into their silent ancient rhythm was the heavy, bulky movements of the invaders walking, tearing through Moya’s systems. Chiana listened to Aeryn’s struggle to keep silent, to keep the pain within her. How much longer till someone heard them? Walked passed and frelling heard them? She thought of all the times that Aeryn had saved them, saved her. What was she to do? How to repay the debt? Get the baby out, she thought.

“We have to get your baby out” she whispered in Aeryn ear.

“I’m trying! What do you think I’m doing?” Aeryn spat at Chiana.

“Shh,,,,shh..I know. I just mean that we’ll do it together. You and me. Here…now. We’ll get the baby out, then we’ll be …..be OK”

“Chiana, they are going to find us.

She lay her hand on Aeryn’s back, stroking it, kneading through the pain. She shook her head.

“No, don’t say that. We’ll be OK. They’re making so much noise out there anyway, they probably wouldn’t hear us if they were sitting right on top of us.”

Aeryn didn’t respond. A spasm of fear shot through her. She looked at Chiana and rubbed her hand over the tight skin of her belly. I can’t save you, she thought and a wave of grief swept through her. There was nothing left to do. She slumped back against the shaft, bit down on her arm to stop the scream that rose up. Her sobs came after that. This is the end, she thought. She waited for the next spasm, braced herself for the Intakar to find them. Instead, she felt a deep warmth course from the walls. The heat sank into her, pushing back the pain. A lonely breeze trailed through the shaft. A thin sliver of calm seeped through Aeryn and she ran her hands down the grooves that lined Moya’s walls. She rested her head on the wall of the shaft. Moya. Exhausted, she closed her eyes and yielded.

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Aeryn felt a deep pressure pressing down on her. She pushed. There was no more time to think. Push. Push. Push.

Chiana lifted Aeryn’s skirts, her hands guiding her to the baby. She felt its hair, wet with blood. She remembered the other birth, difficult, long, dangerous. She needed to make this one work. She rested a hand on Aeryn’s belly, feeling for Aeryn’s contractions, murmured words of comfort. Softly, softly so no one would hear. Another push and the baby slid into Chiana’s hands, its slippery body wet against her thighs. She picked it up, barely held it without it wriggling away. She felt it. Its face, arms, fingers, toes. All there. The baby kicked. It was strong, alive. Chiana almost smiled. She’d done it. She had brought the baby through. She cradled it against her, coaxing Aeryn to finish what needed to be done, trying to stop the inevitable cries of the newborn.

Aeryn’s heart raced, her baby’s cries drummed through her head. And the Intakar, ever closer, heard them too. There were shouts, the rumbling of footsteps as more Intakar joined the hunt. And through this the infant cried as his mother clumsily held him and failed to calm him.

“He’s crying, Chiana.”

“I can tell.”

“Well, what do I do? How do I stop him?”

“How the frell should I know? Maybe..maybe he’s hungry. Maybe you should feed him”

“How?”

“I don’t know! Just stick him on!”

Aeryn latched him on. He sucked hungrily at her as the pain dug into her. She closed her eyes, forcing herself to hold him to her. She knew that it was too late. She finally looked down at him. He looked like his father, she thought. The bluest of eyes. For a moment he pulled himself off and her breath held as she waited for him to start his cries again. But he just looked at her, gazed at her. Then he turned again, searching for her breast. She braced herself, felt for Chiana’s hand and waited.

“Aeryn, listen…” Chiana whispered. “Can you hear that?”

The sounds that drifted towards them were no longer battle cries but the sounds of desperate men, dying men. They were suffocating. Aeryn pulled Chiana to her.

“Moya is killing herself. She’s shutting herself down and removing life support.”

“Why the frell aren’t we dead then?”

“She’s probably sealed the shaft off. We’ve gotta get out of here”.

“Can she do that?”

“Yes. But she’s in pain. We have to get to the prowler. Now!”

Chiana nodded. She leant forward, her lips lightly grazing his check. Moya and Pilot for the baby.

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Aeryn coaxed the Prowler to life. Her arms gripped the steering. She felt enlivened by its strength. It had been so long since she had sat here. Since she had moved and listened to the rhythms that it made. She pushed back her exhaustion and willed herself to stay focused. They had minutes, seconds to spare. Her hands ran over the console, the automatic movements slowed down by her weakness. Chiana settled in behind her, holding the baby close. Aeryn glanced once more at her son, nestled securely in the sling of Chiana’s coat. Aeryn pulled back the joy stick and they lifted. To freedom. They shot out of Moya with deliberate speed. Aeryn flew as far from Moya as she needed and then she turned the Prowler around. She locked her target in sight and fired.

Moya had known what she needed to do the moment she heard his newborn cries. And when it was over, when the intruders lay dying and she tried to bear the pain just a moment longer, she saw the three of them crawl into the Prowler. And she knew it had been right. She was not surprised when she realized Aeryn had locked onto her. Aeryn had always done what was right. Then through the pain she saw him. Her poor, beautiful, damaged son. Talyn. She smiled. He was waiting. And then, turning, she surged. To him.

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* “Ibu” means “mother” in the Malay language

Comments welcome…please

Hello!

Posted: November 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m hoping to post my stories and works in progress here.  Let me know what you think.  Apologies for all the racey adds on the site …. that’s what you get for using something for free!