The Inheritance (a yarn)

BlueBottleBlueBottle Australia Join Date: 2018-02-03 Member: 236674Members
His hands tremble drawing up the syringe, and Bart's mind fills with father's image. It's the harshest thing to truly know your father's weakness. Not to hear of it, not see of it, but to live through it, and then finally to be extinguished by it. The past floods back.

"So to your inheritance my son! The very legacy you were conceived for" The structure grows to fill the Degasi's arching observation windows. Bart flinches at the glare from station's smooth white finish. If only Alterra was so clean as its products! The company drops a Vesper into the orbit of every wild planet they find. If the scans show profit potential they return with the great mining Harrowers. Another world dies but Alterra prospers - ever more powerful.

"Inside the Vesper, Father?" Bart ventures.

"No. But indeed, this caught our first glimpse." A well heeled outcaste indeed, his father's slim silk suit marks him as an executive rather than the expected Mongolian warrior. "You may have wondered how our small Clan competes with the Galaxy's greatest trading behemoths. It is because we see though their eyes and ears, my Son." Paul Torgal gauges his son's small expressions. "This Vesper is such an eye. It has monitored this planet these past 20 years. And so too have we - and well before Alterra! While they await it's transmissions to span the lightyears, we have listened in real time. How so?"

Bart intakes a short breath, "Bugged .... but ... with a quantum entanglement then Father?" Paul Torgal playfully pushes back his son's head. "Ha! Those cognitive enhancements may have been worth the king's ransom after all! Yes we've had quite some success suppressing that technology. Over two decades that's been damn expensive, nevertheless, we still seem to have the only working prototype". Bart ventures another guess. "You have raised me only to master exobiology. So the legacy is ... a biological one then?". Paul studies his son. "Consider boy, what has always been our Clan's strength?"

"Our trade in exclusive weaponry between the Warring Nations. So ... a bio-weapon then Father?"

"Yes, our ancestors swept Terran Europe in the company of a great plague. In the old tongue that was The Kharaa. Through your skills we may yet see our Clan's glory days return."

The implications begin racing through Bart's mind. Then abruptly the time for thinking is over. There is the blinding light. The scream of metal. The fiery descent. Three of them survived. Paul Torgal made certain of that by jettisoning the Degasi's crew module into the path of the quarantine enforcement beam. And with them survives that new bodyguard, Marguerit Maida, but now wild with resentment over this betrayal. This is not of the Honour so prized amongst their race.

Ten years passed since then. Deprived of vital organ upgrades Father aged quickly but died stubbornly - raging always against the dying of the light. And Maida, where is she now? How he misses all her rough certainties. But since then he has found his own way as a survivor - delving ever deeper into the planet's life-secrets. Yes, to survive here means to suffer longer, that is true. But from the start, he has only known love for this strange and beautiful world.

Throughout the decade Bart saw two more ships descend in flames, spewing their venom into the living waters from ruptured core drives. An then, incredibly, he witnessed one new craft built and then escape - an Alterra make. Maida had foreseen it - this and Alterra's inevitable return. So together they laid down all the false trails of ruined bases and edited PDA recordings. But the assassin will surely come, that is known. There is said to be only one constant in this galaxy: Alterra's ruthless pursuit of profit. He can expect no mercy for an industrial spy.

Now to slip the bright needle beneath the skin and feel cool run of the nano gene-editors spreading upwards through his veins. "Will ... I still be human?" he wonders. Yet he knows: Only this melding with DNA from the strange seal creature will allow his flight into the freezing south. Calm now, with the dread deed complete, he lays back into the great world's embrace. He was alien, but now finally a part of it. Finally at home in his inheritance.


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