Aubade: Chapter 12
It's All in the Family
Aubade has action, mystery, futuristic tech and yes, romance too! All you need, right? Here you can read more about how it all began.
What’s it all about?
You’re a woman who’s woken up out of stasis and you find yourself onboard the spaceship Aubade escaping Earth. Forever. Last thing you remember is going to bed. On Earth.
She felt as if she was in the middle.
All this talk of chivalry was mixed with a certain modern way of talking and it confused her. No wonder Evelydia was confused as well. Stapleton seemed proper when needed but he was no saint. And now he knew she had a past that merged with the Old. Just before she rolled over to her side and hugged the pillow she remembered a smile. Jack's smile. She felt a pang of guilt.
On her way to the mess hall she heard that the storm had died and that Stapleton and Fleur were already in the port getting ready for departure. Sara felt the urge to go there but knew that she couldn't be that foolish. Instead she went to sickbay to visit Jack, as promised. He was up walking around!
"Where have you been, I'm dying to take a walk!" His face was a beaming of happiness.
"What? Why such a long face? You thought you could get away with me being stuck in bed another few days, oh no! I'm ready to take a walk!"
Sara finally broke into a smile. How could she feel down in such happy company?
"Let's go for chicken soup without chicken," she laughed and motioned toward the hallway. They walked to the nearest nutrition dispenser, got their soup and sat down at a table.
"So, Stapleton came by this morning," Jack said while spooning up soup.
"Oh really?" was the only thing Sara could think of.
"Yes, he told me he and Fleur had to stay overnight due to another storm. Did you see him last night?"
"Well, I helped them out with accommodation but that was about it."
"Yeah, he told me you arranged the common room for them, nice." He nodded approvingly. So, Vince had not told anyone about their meeting last night. Instead he had lied to his own man. She felt nervous and afraid she would blush. But Jack didn't seem to notice.
"It was the least I could do."
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They ate in silence until Jack thought out loud:
"Sometimes, you know, when it rained and nobody had anything better to do, we'd sit around just like this. Few words, mostly minding one's own business, fixing something or reading. But it was quiet." He seemed lost in some thoughts.
"Where?" she asked.
"Oh, back home," he let out a short laugh and looked up at her, "I guess all this lying around has softened me up to mashed potatoes, gotta get back over there," he aimed his head toward a wall but she knew he was indicating the Defense building, "so I can become myself again."
"We definitely have to get you over there," she laughed, "because I barely recognize the Jack I once knew!"
He smiled and shook his head.
"Just remember me like this, one day, if I change too much. Just bear in mind that I also can look at things the way you do." He looked up at her and she saw that there no longer was a smile.
"Jack, I doubt anyone can look at things the way I do, but I certainly will keep that in mind. And Jack," she leaned over toward him, "where exactly is back home?"
He smiled as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Westport of course! Westport on the Coast!" A few people nearby turned their heads at the loud exclamation but returned to their own business shortly.
This caused both a thrill and a kick in her chest. What were all of these people from the Coast doing in this colony? And Westport of all places! Peter's home! She had no doubt that both Jack and Vince knew or knew of Peter. He was one of the most well-known Generals on the entire Coast. But she was so afraid of revealing herself that she was sooner willing to remain uncertain about their connection to her husband than engage in any discussions that would lead her to divulge more than prepared.
Somewhere, in her mind, she was afraid that she had been taken away by someone opposed to Peter. An enemy, or a competitor. Someone who, just to make sure that maximum pain was suffered on the last day possible, was willing to separate three people, but perhaps not have the heart to kill them.
Sara refused to allow any thoughts about Peter's or Pandora's deaths creep into her thoughts. Simply because she was convinced they were alive. One other little grain of a thought that she had half-secretly allowed herself to think, was the possibility of Peter sending her away. She had not, after all, volunteered. She was aware, during the last year, that unless she applied to become a volunteer she would have a very slim chance of surviving. And still she did not volunteer, because Pandora was too young to volunteer. And she refused to leave her daughter.
Peter had volunteered but due to the double secure contract he had no chance of discussing his assignment with her. The only thing she was able to find out was that he most likely would be onboard one of the ships. The last time they had seen each other was three months before his departure. By then they were used to the separation. Peter was not and had never been willing to live in NYC and Sara's assignments would not permit her to live on the Coast.
Peter had dedicated his life to the Mission and when he had to choose he remained loyal to his people and the future he believed he was helping stake out. His wife was the most beloved thing in the world, but his people were the most important. They had discussed it so many times, over so many different meals, overlooking even more vistas whether in NYC or in Westport, but it remained something immovable.
Peter believed so strongly in his mission that he was willing to give up everything for it, even his wife and his daughter. But Sara was beginning to wonder if, perhaps, he hadn't. This thrill at hearing Westport mentioned, and the initiation into the Defense crew "brotherhood" planted a seed of hope in her. She wanted to believe that he had saved her. There, she had even tried to hide that thought from herself.
She did not want to place herself above others. She was not more important than others, and she knew how selective they had been when sorting through the volunteers. She doubted she would have been placed even if she tried. That was why she was even more puzzled and frightened to find herself here, amongst the best of the best, in this colony.
Everyone, except her, had some special and unique skill or capability that made them valuable and priceless on this mission. What skills did she have? Muscle endurance beyond the ordinary. Not as uncommon as some of her fellow crew might think. What else? She was an accomplished Historian, no doubt, but why would they need her?
There were so many other Historians who had spent their entire lives studying topics that were far more important and relevant to their situation than her focus on people of the Old and of rituals and structures that had fallen out of law or memory. Unless, of course, someone wanted that information for their colony. Peter?
She was so nervous now that her stomach was cramping. All she could say was:
"So tell me more about Westport, was it?" trying to fake an ignorance about a place that she knew better than her own city.
Jack was eager to tell:
"The Border Wars really made Westport into what it is. I was born between the first and second Border War, so I grew up with the Defense crew at my mother's dinner table." He finished his soup and continued:
"Before I turned fifteen I decided to join the Defense Academy and I've never regretted it." He looked up and smiled:
"And see where it's taken me!"
They both laughed, perhaps a bit too bitterly.
"And your family?" Sara decided to keep trying, hoping that she had chosen the correct wording.
"I don't know how much you know of my home country but we take care of
our families. But we also encourage each other to do what must be done. They knew before I was old enough that this is what I had to do. No one could stop me, not even my brother."
"So you stayed away from home for long periods of time?"
"Yes," he gave her a grave look, "I missed many important events, but hell, so did my father and brother." He was tapping the spoon around his knuckles while talking.
"So your mother was alone?" she hoped she could learn something, anything.
"Well, not really, women there knew better than to feel sorry for themselves. Besides, she was taking care of the distillery, and that's enough to keep oneself busy." She nodded at this, but slowly and with increasing intensity she began to feel that something he said sounded so familiar.
"One, look, I'm sorry to say this but I am exhausted from eating soup. Gotta get back to that hard bed before I will lose these legs again."
At this he stood up and showed himself very ready to leave because he swayed a little before stabilizing himself with a chuckle and head shake. She also stood up and as they walked down the hallway back to the sick bay, she realized what had sounded so familiar.
"A distillery you said?" she was thinking out loud more than posing it as a question. He looked at her with a curious smile:
"One of the oldest on the Coast. Thanks for lunch!" He reached out to squeeze her shoulder, and she instinctively touched his hand. She could sense his eagerness to show affection, and it was almost endearing.
They had reached sickbay and Paulon was sitting in the small office going over charts. He saw how tired Jack looked and gave Sara a stern frown to which she smiled apologetically. Before the door closed she asked one more question:
"What was the name of the distillery?"
"Westport." The door closed and as she looked at the brushed metallic finishing she knew exactly what it felt to be filled with excitement and shock. Jack was Peter's brother! Her knees almost gave way underneath her, and she broke out in a sweat.
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