Category: John Discovery



Trev: Driven by unspeakable shame, he inexplicably heads back to see Sal. Rain slashes his face as a vicious wind whips a steel gray sky. He doesn’t notice.

Mairi: Unconscious on the cold floor, her head in a small pool of dark blood. She tried to stop Trev from going. He punched her in the face.

Emy: Her new found sensitivity to sound is driving her insane. She is currently floating her agitated arse in an isolation chamber. She holds her brooch in her hand, realizes she can no longer see her mother and starts to punch the side of the chamber. No one can hear. Blood drips from her knuckles. She starts to smile as salt stings her open wounds.

Cait: Sitting in the study with the Commander and Tom. She has been informed of the circumstances and looks on as the Commander outlines his plan. When the Commander mentions Kyra, Cait stands up and yells, “I will not have that bitch in my house!” Ariel appears in the doorway and all three adults turn in unison toward the small child.

Kyra: On her way to Duckhead. She is the plan. She sits in meditative silence on the private transport oblivious to the multi-hued lights flashing by.

Von: Refused to take no. He is with Kyra. His left hand has a firm grip on his right. It shakes anyway.

Rog and John: Making idle conversation. The Matutinal Mercy has not yet been delivered. The room is ice cold. Neither notice.

Yul: Still in hospital. Too high to wonder why. Too low to care.

Kieran: Closely watching events unfold.

The Unknowns: Closely watching Kieran.

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Matutinal Mercy

Steps were heard. Heavy boots, leather and metal slapping and clicking against the silent face of smooth worn stone, the pace methodical, the foot porcine but not clumsy. The rhythm of the stride belied one leg longer than the other and Rog wondered how much abuse his jailer had endured by those more fortunate in birth. Thoughts of home, a place where difference was celebrated, flooded his heart. A child of the shells this man would have been. And Rog wondered how this man’s life would have been different, how his fate would have taken a different course on Hyneria.

The cell door opened, as these doors were wont to do, with a heaviness felt on the skin as much as heard in the ear. One set of dull dark eyes, standing, took account of two sets wide and bright, sitting. The air felt humid, heavy, and each breath felt as fish must feel in labored exchange of effort for life. The soft water seemed to hang in the air as if air and water were easy neighbors long accustomed to cohabitation and conspiring such that the walls sweated reflective beads of cold fear, walls that knew the souls of many men having met once but never again. They say if walls could talk, but these walls chose not, for some things were better not remembered.

No words were uttered as the unbalanced man placed a tray in the center of the cell. He looked again at John and then Rog before backing out of the room and locking the door, the key squealing closure as steps loud became soft until only the sound of labored breathing could be heard.

The tray held two thin octagonal glasses with a crimson hued liquid sitting steady at three quarters mark. John spoke first. “The matutinal drink. Mercy in a glass.”

Rog held his glass up to the dim light. The liquid seemed to glow, to hum, almost as if alive, as if a thousand tiny voices called forth and demanded obedience. Rog put the glass to his lips—”Put that down,” yelled John.

Judgment, in Red


Crimes of infidelity, as this case was classified, were always presided by a single judge, in red. John stood before the magistrate alone; consul not allowed, records not kept. John spoke. The judge listened from behind the concealment of his hood, his identity forever unknown. Query. Answer. Query. Explanation. And on and on as a river winding through a jungle valley. What was true, what was half true and what was false were not significant. Judgment. To Judge. Now that, that was important. And judgment they would have, and in the streets would be rejoicing, for judgment is what they wanted.

The Mask


Cait stood in John’s study and released a heavy sigh as her eyes moved not so much from object to object but from memory to memory. Ariel was in bed and although it seemed like only minutes, several hours had past since they took John away. Her gaze skipped as pebbles across his desk and followed the warm light of a single lamp to the wooden cove behind his leather chair. Upon the wall, framed by books of varying sizes and colors, a solitary beam of light fell upon “The Mask” as the Discovery men called it. Passed from generation to generation, the mask represented everything noble in the Discovery lineage, and until a few hours ago, John had upheld the honor of the house as no one before him.

“What is it Kyra?” asked Von, somewhat puzzled by her dour demeanor.

“It’s Rog. They’ve taken him away.”

“For what?”

“Crimes against the state. I didn’t have the energy to argue.”

“What crime?”

“Seems they stole a military vessel.”

“What vessel?”

“The one they rescued us in.”

“Oh.”

A tear slipped from Cait’s eye. She wept not for Discovery honor. She wept for her own.

Darkness Rendered

Von, Rog and Em sat without talking, each lost in their own world as they waited for the doctor as children wait to hear their name read from gifts under tree. John had had his bandages removed the day before and his sight was now as it was before. Today was their turn.

The nurse called Von. He entered. Sight restored. Next she called Rog. Again, darkness was left behind. Last was Em. She entered in darkness, and after what seemed to Von and Rog like a awfully long time, she returned still in darkness. Smiles turned south. Laugher vanished quicker than the snap of fingers. Em stood, her arms by her side, her head struggling to maintain posture.

“Frail the doctor. I will regain my sight.”

Von and Rog stood speechless.

Em held out her hands. “Let’s go. These frailing aliens don’t give a shiott about us,” said Em using language Von and Rog had never heard her use.

Von looked at Rog and Rog looked away, his face bloodless. He had his sight back. Em did not.

“Von,” commed Kyra, “how’d it go?”

“Not good.”

“What happened?”

“Em is still blind.”

“Oh my Janus. Is she okay?”

“It’s not Em I’m worried about.”


“M
ommy, is daddy in trouble?” asked Ariel.

“I’m not sure sweetie. But your daddy is a very brave man, a very, very brave man,” said Cait.

“Do you love him?”

“I’m sorry hon, what did you say?”

“Do you love daddy?” Slight pause. “Because I do.”

Cait was a strong woman. Tears flowed anyway. “Yes, sweetie, yes. I love your daddy. I love him very much.”

Ariel snuggled into her mothers arms. “Good.”

And so the two rocked quietly lost in their own thoughts.

“Mommy?”

“Yes dear?”

“Does daddy love us?”

After tucking Ariel into bed, Cait picked up the phone. “Sue, where is John? Okay, can you put him on the line?”

“Cait?”

“You [censored] [censored]!”

“Cait? Cait?” John shook the receiver. “Cait?”

The Score

Patterns


“John,” Sue whispered as if John’s ears and not his eyes were damaged, “the commander will see you now.” Standing, Sue took his arm, the two walking in slow step like mother and groom through the door to the solitary chair sitting quietly in front of the commander’s large ornate desk. Pictures, a virtual who’s who lined the walls between shelves of multi-colored tomes on topics of leadership and men, or war and not-war. John didn’t need his eyes, the room breathed history, decorum, tradition, right and wrong, black and white. Taking a breath, the familiar smell of spit and polish mixed with buildings academic, which was to say of government issued paint. Go to any military base on the planet and that smell was there, unmistakably, like some warlike god had marked his hallow grounds. And with that smell came the memories, the shouts, the triumphs and disappointments, the long runs and crappy food. The smell was not just a smell, the smell was military life itself. The sounds would come later as would the images of sweat and blood, but before them all, was the masculine aroma of wood and metal, of cleanliness and government issue.

“Thank you Sue,” said the commander. “That will be all.”

John sat, his back upright at attention, bandages over his eyes. He heard the sound of a chair skirting across the floor, of heels clicking on wood, of papers lifted and placed, of heavily starched clothing resisting the tug and crease of measured movement. John marveled at how quickly his sense of hearing had developed, as if a whole world he had never taken notice of before was dancing before his mind, delighting in the attention as children before relatives. The commander breathed and John felt his heavy bulldog eyes settle into a pregnant gaze. Whether the commander paused for effect or simply because he didn’t know what to say to his most decorated soldier, John could not tell. Either way, the silence was unnerving.

“John, as a career military man, I’ve been taught all my life to look for patterns, that patterns don’t lie. Men lie. Men rationalize. Men plot and plan, scheme and dream and change their mind more often than women, but one thing remains true–the patterns of a man’s life, the decisions he makes over time. Free will; that is bullshit. We aren’t free. We are programed, from birth. Me, you, and everyone else on this god forsaken planet. You understand what I am saying?”

John shifted slightly in his chair. “Sir, I’m afraid I don’t quite follow you.”

The commander picked up a folder, flipped through it like a professor bored, and placed it back down on his desk. “I’ve known you for more than twenty years. Saw you graduate first in your class, the best fighter pilot our academy has ever produced. Then I saw you enter medical school. Graduate in three years with honors as a world class heart surgeon before you reentered the academy and virtually rewrote our leadership training. I’ve got an entire filing cabinet of your exploits since. Not a single solitary blemish. On a personal note, I attended your wedding to Cait, was present at the birth of Ariel, and have enjoyed having you as our guest on many dinner occasions. You see John, I know your patterns. I know your choices. I know you inside and out, probably better than you know yourself. What you did John, fits no pattern that I know.”

“Yes sir.”

“You know, there are limits to how far I can go to protect you?”

“Yes sir, I understand.”

“Damn it John, do you? Do you understand the trouble you are in? And I’m not just talking about your career or the thought of prison, I’m talking about Cait too. Do you know how many times she has come to me. Asking me what was going on and I had no answer? Do you know she loves you like you were the last man on world? Do you know the pain and anguish you have put her through? Not to mention Ariel.”

John’s head bows as the weight of a sigh forced itself free.

“Well? Do you son?”

“I do.”

“I do? Is that it. I do? Care to elaborate? I’m all ears.”

One hour later . . .

“So her name is Kyra.”

“Yes sir.”

“And I should believe all that you have said?”

“Sir, at the risk of sounding sarcastic, what does my pattern tell you?”

The commander stood up. Without taking his eyes off John he clicked his comm, “Sue. Come in here, right away.”

Jackassery


Rog: So you have a dream chip?

John: Von, would you tell our friend it might be best if he kept his frailing mouth shut.

Rog: Why?

John: Why! Are you shiotting me?

Rog: What?

John: Von, you want to take this one?

Von: No John, I think you’re doing just fine.

Rog: You’re not still mad are you?

John: Mad? You think I’m mad? Von?

Von: Rog, if I may, I think the fact that there is a small chance we will not regain our sight, and the fact that cause and effect points to your, how do I say it, Jackassery, well, I think that might have something to do with John’s attitude.

John: Jackassery. Thank you Von. You know what Jackassery is Rog?

Rog: (quiet)

John: I’ll tell you what Jackassery is! It’s you pulling out that las pistol. What the frail were you thinking?

Rog: You know what I was thinking . . . .

John: Well?

Rog: (raises voice) I was thinking someone was going to get off his arse and do something! You heard the same cries I did.

John: Yeah, well, did you not think maybe, just maybe, Von knew what he was talking about? Maybe, just a little? (holds out hand and uses fingers to illustrate before realizing no one could see him)

Rog: Look. I did what I did and it is what it is. I’m not going to apologize for making something happen. In fact—

John: Don’t frailing say it.

Rog: Frail you. In fact—

Kyra: Rog. John. Let it go. Intent, by both parties, was pure and I find no fault in either the action or inaction, as the case may be. Von, you were right. Rog, I love you for being yourself. I wouldn’t want to go into harm’s way without you. And John, get use to it. This won’t be the last time you see some Jackassery out of Rog. (slight pause and then she starts laughing, followed by Von, John and Em)

Rog: Kyra?

Kyra: Yes Rog?

Rog: I love you too.

Kyra: You’re welcome Rog. Now I suggest you guys get some rest. We’ll be docking in about twelve hours.

John: Kyra?

Kyra: Yes John?

John: Care to tell us what happened?

Kyra: No, not really.

John: Okay. Just thought I’d ask. You know, since, well . . . .

Kyra: Don’t push it John. Remember, I still have your chip.

Rog: Yeah John, she still has your chip.

John: Frail you.

Rog: You got that half right.

John: What?

Rog: I’m just saying.

Kyra: Hey. Enough. Lights out. See you in eight. (turns out the lights and leaves)

Rog: Nice job Disco.

John: You’re welcome, Jackassary.


Kyra held a small golden disc in her hands, not much bigger than the pad of her pinky finger.

“I bet you’re wondering what that is,” said John, rubbing the back of his head and realizing Kyra had inadvertently found and released the chip as she tightened his blindfold.

“Well, I wasn’t going to ask.”

“It’s what is called a dream chip. Kulmyk fighter pilots, for training purposes had a small chip installed in the back of their head. It recorded brain activity and allowed specialized neuronic training, a way to accelerate the learning process, or so they said.”

“I see,” said Kyra, taking the measure of John’s face. His blindfold secure. “So why do they call it a “dream chip?”

John smiled. “The chip also records dreams. Our scientists thought this was important in the evaluation process of new fighter pilots. They wanted a window into a Kulmyk’s hopes and fears, into his psyche, his dreams if you will.”

“So this chip has your dreams on it?”

“Yep.”

“And this chip allows you to view your dreams, to watch them like a movie?”

“Yes.”

“So I could, if I wanted, see your dreams?”

“Yes, you could, if you wanted.”

“And right now, in your condition, you couldn’t stop me, if I wanted?”

“I suppose that’s true.”

__________________

From Nashville for my Dear Beautiful Soul:


The concern over Kyra notwithstanding, the crew had much to celebrate. After all, prayers had been answered, how had not been discussed, but six days became seven and seven eight and everyone was just a little too overjoyed to tempt fate with questions.

John poured four glasses of amsec and handed one to Rog, one to Von and the last to Em. Lifting his crystal flute to the center, the others followed suit, the four golden glasses shinning like a chandelier as eyes looked upward for words to be spoken. A toast, he said as his voice trailed off.

What started as a slight vibration, a disturbing ripple across nectar held high, held firm, grew, exponentially; and in an instant, amsec rained down with shards of crystal and their small vessel rocked as if the hand of a giant had slapped the hull. As the four struggled to get to their feet, a second concussive wave knocked them down again as a young boy might shake a box of toy soldiers. Lights blinked and klaxons wailed and as quickly as the vessel was hit, stillness returned.

Rog yelled, although he didn’t need to, “I thought you said we had shields?”

John yelled back. “We do!” Picking himself up, his sea-legs betrayed him and only his strong arms kept his head from banging the control panel. “Our systems must be down?”

“What?” asked Rog.

“I said our systems must be down. Not a threat within a parsec, the screen is blank.”

“Blank?” said Von.

“Nada.”

Rog took the pilot’s seat. Then a low vibration, almost a moan wafted over the comms followed by a sickly gurgling sound. “What the—“

The hair on the back of Von’s neck stood up. Before anyone could react, a blood curtling scream, unmistakable in tone, permeated the room.

“My Janus,” cried Von. “Its Kyra.”

Unknown #1: We put her at great risk.

Unknown #2: We have no choice.

Unknown #1: Are you prepared to lose her?

Unknown #2: (with hesitation) Yes.

“Open the frailing door!” screamed Rog, his nerves frayed by the unworldly cries from within Kyra’s room, his hands bloodied from effort.

“It won’t budge,” screamed John back.

“Move!”

“Won’t do any good,” interjected Von.

“What?”

“The door will open when it is ready to open. You’d just as soon change the fabric of reality as to pry it apart.”

“Are you suggesting we just sit here?”

“I’m not suggesting anything. I’m telling you the matters at hand are beyond our ability to influence. Take that as you will.”

“So what do we do?”

“Bow our heads and pray we see our girl again.”