Thread: Onwards to the Amethyst Sphere (Aeris' Journal)
My Grandfather was a man of mystery, even to me.
What little I know about his past was the heavily biased rantings of my own father, whose hatred for him was plain to see. A scoundrel, a pirate, a dishonourable stain on the Vladov name, all these and more yet my father sent me to live with him after I was expelled from the Academy on Achenar.
My Father... I call him that yet he was no parent to me. When I lost my brothers, he shed no tear. When my mother was consumed with grief, he took her by the shoulder and told her to stop it. When I was found crying, he took me to one side and said, "They did their duty to the Emperor". I was five years old and had lost all my brothers at once. My heart had been ripped out, for I loved those scoundrels as they had loved me, their only kid sister.
I was ten when expelled from the Academy, an act of rebellion against the system that had in my eyes created my Father. Word had gotten to me that my mother had spaced herself after a heated exchange over dinner protocol with my Father. Was never explained what this protocol entailed, but how I hated every thing he stood for - the Empire, the Military, the Vladov name.
To Qarato I went, expecting the monster that my Father was, only to be met by a large yet loving man. He allowed my grief to flow out, he described how he had wept when hearing about my brothers. This man, this figure of my Father's hatred, was the most kind and generous person I had ever met.
That's not saying he didn't have faults, far from it, but like all true parental figures he hid it as well as he could. Only twice did he ever lose his temper with me, and that was only for a brief moment, but I never forgot his anger.
When we got word that my Father had died, he took me to one side and said, "It's okay to cry, Aeris. He was distant because he loved you too much. Never forget that... he loved you, in his own way he truly did." And cry I did.
I left my Grandfather when I was eighteen, not because I wanted to but because I needed to. Yet in the eight years I lived with him, I did not truly know him.
It was upon his death that he finally opened up to me, and that old bastard laid every little thing on the cards in a letter. Who would believe that in ths day and age, a handwritten letter?
"Aeris.... I am sorry", he wrote...
Without a doubt my memories play tricks on me, yet here I sit hoping that amongst those fantasies uncoloured truth emerges, for without a truthful history what are we?
A story from my youth has been plaguing me these past weeks, and whether it is coloured or not it has a ring of truth within it, yet recall everything I cannot. Still the story was about a stray cat I found when I was twelve, a lovely scraggily tabby which I named Boris. Why Boris? Well he just looked like one, with his battle wear face and slight limp which I swear was only put on when he knew that his was being observed. My Grandfather tolerated him, and Boris... well he did what all cats do and occupied the same space for periods of time. Looking back, I believe more and more that the pair had a common bond that I could not see, a way of seeing the universe for what it was rather than the fantasy most live with.
Still, one day Boris woke me, as he usually did, with his morning gift of a mouse. He was good a keeping those mice at bay, if the rodents could talk they'd probably have some fear mongering name for Boris, a cautionary tale for their children while being tucked up in bed. This morning though, the mouse was not dead, in fact I would say that it was very much alive and in a state of panic. Toying the mouse between his paws, Boris guided the fearful rodent towards my hands. Shocked, I recoiled only for Boris to give me a stare that chilled me to my very core, a stare that both hinted at one possible outcome that involved a great deal of pain. I also knew that cats had dark souls, but for that moment Boris' seemed so deeply shrouded by an abysmal void that I had only one choice.
While my reactions weren't quite at the same level as a feline, I did manage to grab the mouse. The now terrified rodent relieved itself all over my hand but that was of little concern, as my eyes were drawn back to Boris, his face staring expectantly at me. His eyes tearing into the very fabric of my being, judging and waiting or waiting to judge, it ultimately mattered not as I knew what was expected of me. Slowly I raised the struggling rodent to my mouth, placed my teeth around it's scrawny neck and fighting back every single gag reflex I had, bit down as hard as I could.
I can't remember whether I swallowed the head or coughed it up, but the taste of mouse blood cannot be forgotten as it spurted down my throat. Yet all through that time I was more concerned with Boris...
But he had left me, content that I had proven myself as worthy, part of his posse, part of his pride, in that time he had marked me as one of his own. From that moment on I was not me anymore...
"I am sorry."
Months after the death of my grandfather I am still haunted by those handwritten words, etched into my mind and heart alike. To this day I don't know who I mourn more, the grandfather I thought I had or the revelations of a man that broke me.
We all live our lives under a cloak of lies and deceit, we complement people when there is nothing to complement, we say that we are okay when everything sucks and well tell those who love us that we love them back. I wonder how often my grandfather lied when he held me and comforted me, that bear of a man that I thought had a heart of gold.
But the signs were always there that he was not who he seemed, although it is ony now that I can appreciated the events - a form of hindsight born of revelations.
When I was twelve a young boy in my class started bullying me. It was the standard bigger boy bully tactics taking whatever he could from me, whenever he could, for a reason I never found out. I had few friends and the adults that surrounded us chose to believe his every word, even when the bullying got more up close and personal. It was after one such incident, I refuse to call them assaults as even to this day I believe he knew little else about how to deal with those he was nervous around, that I came home to my grandfather. Inbetween the sobs and the tears I told him everything, thankful that at last there was an adult that could tell me that everything was going to be alright.
I was wrong.
He burst out laughing... a loud uncontrollable laugh that scared me, a sound that resonated at a deep yet worrying level. I stopped crying that very instant, very much afraid of my grandfather and what he was going to do next. I remember taking myself to my room and falling fast asleep, still fully clothed.
I avoided my grandfather that morning and took off for school, prefering the bully to the man I thought cared for me. The day came and went without a single incident, then the next day, then the next. Weeks went by and I never heard or saw my tormentor, or any of his gang.
It took a little while for me to forgive my grandfather, but eventually I started talking to him again, beyond the one word answers I had been subjecting him to for weeks afterwards. So I mentioned that I had not seen or heard from the bully. He just looked at me and said,
"Sometimes, when given a choice, people chosen foolishly. Maybe he was one of those." And he just laughed, but a merry laugh, to which I joined in.
At the funeral I spotted Uncle Symon flanked by two young men around my age, probably his grandsons he was always teasing me about, but we did not speak. Not that words would have come out, but with the death of my grandfather there seemed to be a wall placed between us. So it was to my surprise that he was waiting for me on Qarato 1, but instead of his scruffy attiture, his true colours we on show - here before me was an Admiral of the Federation, the so called enemy my father had drummed into me at such an early age. SO is this why my father hated my grandfather so much, the fact that his friend was a Fed?
I spoke with Uncle Symon for hours, discussing trival things like we always did, but then turning the topic onto the hidden lives of my grandfather.
"The letter he wrote is the truth, Aeris. He was a pirate, a murderer, a revolutionary, an anarchist, an assassin... a great many hats were at times worn by that man, yet he was my friend, even when I commanded a fleet to chase him around the galaxy. He was the godfather to my own son like I was to your own father, your grandmother was my wife's sister - our families were united in many ways.... you're the granddaughter I wish I had. But yet this all came about during a little known war that lead to two opposing pilots crash landing mere metres apart."
I was never told the story of how they met, of a raging battle above the rock known as Qarato 1, and how two young pilots fought each other above the surface but who banded together to survive once stranded. The way Uncle Symon told the story you would think that my grandfather was a hero through and through, he took the downed Federation pilot who tried to kill him on no less than three occasions, and after a month of being marooned helped lead the rescue to an extremely ill survivour.
"While he helped me survive, his own career in the Imperial Navy was destroyed, as he was seen by many to be a traitor and a turncoat. But to this old man, he was a friend that I never knew I needed. But Aeris, my dear, he knew he was dying...."
I looked at my Uncle Symon, unsure how to take that final piece of news.
"He visited me, out of the blue, and gave me this box..." he motioned towards a wooden box on the ground not far away from the entrance "'She'll hate me, Symon, she really will.' He said to me, 'But all I want is for granddaughter to understand that she was loved, even if the man giving her that love had a heart blacker than the void itself.'"
We talked for a while, before he made his excuses to leave. And it was then I opened the box, my grandfather's final gift to me...
Inside was a knife.
"What are your orders?"
I sat there, trying to put a bow on Boris' head, perhaps aware of the potential of reprisals from that murderous feline, probably more wanting to prove that I was the superior mammal in that room. How he struggled, how his eyes took on a murderous glint and how the hairs on the back of my next. I knew that he was just waiting... his chance would come later, but I felt the rush as I tormented him in the here and now.
The rattle of the boost was such a welcome bird song as I twisted the stick to avoid the oncoming missiles, aware that I had one chance to make my mark. A smirk started to form on my lips... how I loved this part.
"Madam, your orders?"
Hatred welled up inside of me as I slowly lifted Boris' head off his front, through each of his paws a nail was driven and he was left hanging to die outside of my cabin. I had been gone over a month...
"Aeris, your orders?"
My father was shouting at me, pointing at the holopictures of my late brothers, pacing with such force I was worried the floor would collapse. Never once did I look him in the eyes, but I knew that if I did there would be nothing but hatred and disappointment on show. He never understood that I was not like my brothers, disciplined waiting for my turn to enlist in the hypocrisy known as the Imperial Navy. At that very moment I wanted to punch that pompous man, and if my memory serves me right, I did...
I smirked no longer a prisoner to these memories, aware of the expectant looks coming from around me. I am older now, wiser perhaps but also a respected leader of The Cause...
"Burn them, burn them all!"
And we did...
It's been over a month since I lost it all.
My failure is like a fine needle pushed right through my eyeball, a pain so unbearable that to dwell upon it would drive even the most sane out of their minds. Yet dwell on it I do for each stab of pain reminds me of those that I have lost, my companions, my soldiers, my friends... my family. I watched them all burn, and once they were nothing more than ash they dispersed every last fleck into thew void of space. No ceremony, no prays and no recognition.
They said we were murderers and criminals, and death was too good for us. People were told that like those ancient Norsemen we raped and pillaged what we could not control, we were the devil incarnate or demons with multicannons. Not a single tear was shed when Hargat was vapourised, leaving his struggling brother and sister in law at the mercy of the Imperial system, or when Ana found her fighter surrounded by a wing of Federal combat ships unwilling to accept her surrender. They exstinguished every single one, and when I was finally caught, they strapped me to a chair and forced me to watch every single execution - for there is no other word for it.
And how they laughed and cheered when Baron's last stand finally fell, and took no heed of Freya's young age as they bludgeoned her escape pod.
My body suffered a lot in the weeks that followed, but bruises were just bruises, blood was just blood. I was forced into many things, some infront of cameras, others behind closed doors while the worst... well they were no better than those ancient world invaders. But my pain was my failure. And it was that that hurt me, that drove me beyond my sanity...
All those beatings and they never asked any questions, that was until yesterday. Just one question, "Where is the Amethyst Sphere?", quietly asked, without overt menances. "Where is the Sphere?"
And it is now, a darkened room with only the light from the edges of the closed door illuminatingmy plight. Hope nothing more than a pipedream and the voice of Uncle Symon telling me to get up and prepare to run...
The light from the door is getting brighter...
Clothes or no clothes I am well prepared to run.
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