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Posted on Oct 24, 2015 @ 2:30am by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Oct 24, 2015 @ 2:30am

Mission: Civil War

(cont. from "Foreshadowing")

* * * =/\= * * *

“You left me in the middle of the night,

Slipped away, no goodbye, so you could go fight.

You left grain in the fields, and none in the stores,

Left us all alone to go fight on foreign shores.

Oh, little soldier girl what made you go?

Now wheat will rot and the fields will lie fallow.” - Cyril Elgin, ‘Soldier girl’ from “Live! on Risa.”

* * * =/\= * * *

Location: Sherman’s Planet

Scene: The Thytos Farm

Time Index: Kassandra Thytos, Age 16

“Kassandra Urania Thytos!” Her mother’s voice assailed Kassandra as soon as she entered the door. Kassandra cringed. News had traveled fast. She bet the nosy old Missus Appopolous at the cafe had been on the holophone the moment Horatio Bellecotte had placed their order at her cafe. Maybe if she snuck to her room she could evade her mother’s wrath. She slid her foot across the threshold. Immediately her ear was caught in a vicelike grip. Kassandra yelped as her mother swung her around, glaring angrily at her. Her mother had once been a beautiful woman, but her waistline had advanced with her age and damage from the sun had left her skin nut brown, freckled, and deeply lined with wrinkles.

“Kassandra Urania Thytos! What’s this I hear from Chloe Appopolous aboutchya skippin’ school an’ gettin’ in fights with Klingons? You ain’t got the sense that god gave a goose. Lemme see yer face, then. Lawd, that don’t look good. Yer already plain enough girl without gettin’ yer nose all crook’d and gettin’ a reputation as a handful. You ain’t ever gonna get yerself a husband if you don’t shape up, young lady.” Her mother’s blue eyes glared at her with an expression of extreme vexation, her hands on her hips.

Kassandra sighed inwardly and stared mutely at the tiles. Not for the first time she wished she had a way of getting to the core worlds. No one cared one way or another whether a young woman got married and had babies in the core worlds. That was purely the realm of the colony worlds where all commodities, including new colonists, were in short supply. Driven by the need to replace an aging workforce and the need for more farm hands as terraforming was successful and settlements were expanded many of the colonies had begun to embrace philosophies seen as rather backwards to the rest of the Federation. The most annoying of which to Kassandra, at least, being the re-emphasis on large families. Her mother continued her litany of Kassandra’s undesirable traits.

Kassandra rolled her eyes just enough to give herself the satisfaction of having done it, but not enough for her mother to notice. She muttered a half-assed apology, and kicked her book bag into the corner of the kitchen, hoping that her mother would tire of lecturing her and send her to her room without dinner as quickly as possible, because if she didn’t, the next question was liable to be a thorough grilling about Horatio Bellecotte, his ‘prospects’ as it were in that annoyingly folksy terminology.

“...And what about this Marine anyway?”

And there it was.

Kassandra mumbled just enough information to get her mother to leave her alone, and then she walked up to her room and closed the door. Another night in the doghouse. What else was new.

The sun set, and time flew by as she read a book, her stomach growling loudly. A soft knocking on her door stirred her from her bed.

Her father Hector stuck his head in.

“I’m supposed ta give you a good talkin’ to, ‘cordin ta yer ma,” he said, crossing his arms and staring down his nose at his daughter. Between the two of his daughters, she was the one that most closely resembled him. Save for the blue eyes she owed to her mother, Kassandra had the same lean, angular look as he did, the same stubborn chin, the same shock of copper hair. She also had the same temperament as he, quick temper, quick mouth, and easy approach to life. He felt a certain kinship with his younger daughter, even though she wasn’t the son he’d wanted. Kassandra had sensed this in him from when she was very young, and fully indulged him by insisting he teach her all the things he would have taught a son, and took every chance to prove she was one of the boys. Her father launched into a rote speech about violence not solving anything, and how she shouldn’t stoop to the level of Valdyr and his friends. As he finished, his voice sunk down into a conspiratorial tone. “I heard from Ethan and Dylan what happened. Good on ya not lettin’ those turtleheads push ya around. You got spirit, and they tell me ya managed ta bloody them afore ya needed to get bailed out by the Marine. Now don’t tell your Ma I said so, but I’m prouda you.”

Hector slipped out the door, and Kassandra looked at the closed door for a long moment, the wheels turning in her head. Before long she’d reached a decision. She shoved a bunch of her stuff into a backpack and slid her window open gingerly. She sat on the sill and grasped the branch of the tree that overhung the window, using it to walk herself over to the main trunk. In a couple of seconds her feet were on the ground.

“Hey, Kassie, where are you going?” a voice hissed from one of the ground floor windows. Kass froze and turned to see her sister Cyril staring at her from the shadows. Kass hid the backpack behind her back.

“Out, me an’ Ethan and Dylan’re gonna go catch some of them glowbugs down by the swamp fer their ma. You know how she loves to fill those lanterns with em? Well they thought it’d cheer her up at the hospital ta have some,” Kassandra said, hiding the backpack in the shadows. Her sister seemed satisfied by this.

“Fine, but get back before it’s time for yer chores, or ma’ll have your hide, Kassie. She’s already pretty pissed about you getting in that fight.”

“Yeah, I know.” Kassandra felt more than a little bit guilty. She’d just lied to her sister, something she’d never done before. She turned towards the lights of the spaceport and ran towards it and the waiting Marine drop ships. “Goodbye Sherman’s Planet, you backwater shithole,” she whispered to the wind as she went.

* * * =/\= * * *

Oh little soldier girl, it’s time to come home,

Come back to your family before your children are grown,

Oh little soldier girl, beat your sword into a plow,

Come back and be happy before you forget how

* * *=/\=* * *

Location: Starbase 211

Scene: Marine Corps Barracks

Time index: Kassandra Thytos, age 19

“Hey, Kass, you lucky dog, Cyril Elgin is here in our barracks and she’s asking for YOU!”

“What now?” Kassandra raised her eyes from the contents of her locker that she had spilled out over her cot in preparation for re-packing her gear bag for moving out to the blonde floppy-haired PFC. She gave her compatriot a confused look and put down the power pack she was cleaning, wrinkling her nose.

“C’mon, yanno, Cyril Elgin! Core world pop star, blue eyes, curves I wanna-”

“I know who she is. What do you mean she’s here and askin’ for me?” Kassandra frowned. Why the hell was Cyril here? She and her sister hadn’t talked much in the last two years, not since Cyril had made it plain that she thought being a Marine was tantamount to being a murderer for hire. Come to that, Kassandra hadn’t talked to her mother since about then either. Her father kept her apprised of their goings on, but all news was relayed to her via him.

“No idea. Hey, ainchya from Sherman’s Planet too, riginally? D’yanno her or something? Why dinchya tell us?”

“You know everyone on your home planet, ya Moob? Bet ya it’s some sorta home planet publicity stunt. My ma’s a real fan of hers, she probably asked her to say hi, an’ she’s agreed fer the sake a lookin’ good.” Kassandra felt a twinge of guilt at denying her relationship with her sister, but as Cyril’s star had risen giving her a platform for her militantly pacifist leanings the idea of admitting they were related had seemed less and less appealing. Kassandra followed her squadmate to the entrance of the barracks. Cyril stood in front of the door, pacing nervously. “How can I help you, Miss Elgin?”

“Kassie, I need to talk to you,” Cyril said softly, grabbing Kassandra’s sleeve and eying the gawping PFC. “Can I take you out for dinner?”

“Fine. But it’s gotta be quick, I’m shippin’ out in the morning.” Kassandra glanced back at the PFC, wishing she could just disappear. By the time she got on the dropship, rumors would be flying, and she would be unable to avoid her squad’s interrogation. She spun on her heel. “There’s a good greasy spoon-”

“No, I know the cook in the Seleya, we’ll eat there. They’re discreet, and we won’t be interrupted. If we went to your place we wouldn’t be able to speak without someone wanting to butt in or take a picture. You’re in uniform, so they shouldn’t have any issues letting you in.” Cyril waved off Kassandra’s suggestion with a wave. The perfect diction combined with Cyril’s dismissive wave annoyed Kassandra, and she had to bite her tongue to stop herself from making snide comments about her sister’s affectations. Instead, she trailed behind her sister like a comet being pulled into a planet’s orbit.

The dining establishment was Vulcan-Earth fusion, which figured, considering Cyril had been rather public about her decision to eat only vegan un-replicated food, and very, very high class. Kassandra squirmed as the Vulcan Maitre d’ gave her a once over, all but sticking his nose in the air in that uninterested way that Humans hated in Vulcans, as though Kassandra was only mildly interesting, and he was in a rush to forget her as quickly as possible. He found them a seat behind a large water feature, and handed them two menus. Kassandra stared at the menu, trying to wrap her head around the litany of foreign words, but to no avail. She glanced up to look over the glossy booklet at her sister, who was engrossed in her own menu, the expression on her face indicating deep thought. Kassandra scrunched down into her chair and stared at the ridiculous menu, feeling like a fish out of water. She closed her eyes and skimmed her finger over the menu, and pointed randomly to make her decision. The Vulcan waiter took their order with the same detachment and vanished.

“Okay, Cyril. What do you want? Why have you come all the way out here to see me?” Kassandra leaned back in her chair, and stared insolently at her sister.

“I got your package, Kassie. I felt that I owed you thanks in person,” Cyril unfolded her napkin and smoothed it out over her lap.

“No need, I didn’t do it for you, I did it for dad. I think his exact words were that it was the least I could do since I’d never be givin’ him his grandkids,” Kassandra said gruffly. “So I did, though I did tell him you probably wouldn’t want it anyway, seein’ as you’d probably worry that they’d end up too much like me.”

“Kassie, I love you, you know that, I just - don’t like what you do. I don’t care why you did it, I still want to thank you.” Cyril leaned forward and grabbed Kassandra’s hand urgently. “I did use them - I’m pregnant Kassie.”

“How nice for you,” Kassandra snatched her hand back, her eyes narrowing. The Vulcan waiter arrived and there was a lull as they began to eat. Kassandra pushed the plate of flower petals in some sort of sauce around her plate suspiciously and decided she’d much rather have replicated ration cubes than whatever the heck it was.

“Come back with me, back to Earth, you can live with John and I and watch them grow up.” Cyril pleaded, her voice cutting into Kassandra’s thoughts like a knife.

“Are you kiddin’ me? I don’t like kids, and I ain’t gonna be be a glorified nanny just cos your sister bein’ a Marine doesn’t fit into your damn image,” Kassandra looked up and felt the indignation rising in her chest.

“No, come back as my family, you still dance, right? You could tour with me, or act as security, or -” Cyril trailed off as she saw the look on her younger sister’s face.

“Yeah, because that’s what I alway wanted to be: ‘and sister,’ as in, Cyril Elgin and sister, the Pop Star and her sister. The moment I go anywhere around you, I become an afterthought. Here, I’m Lance Corporal Thytos, respected, recognized as a damn good pilot and small unit leader, and not an ‘and’ anythin’.” Kassandra smashed her silverware down on the table, earning her a dirty look from the Maitre d’ at the front of the house.

“You could be recognized anywhere, Kassie. Why this? Why do you have to kill people, you’re so much better than this, you’re so much *more* than this,” Cyril’s voice rose in anger.

“No, Cyril, *you* are so much more’n this,” Kassandra said flatly. “I ain’t smart, I ain’t talented, there weren’t no way for me to get off a Sherman’s Planet, but this, this I am good at, an’ even if I wanted to be more’n this, I have people who depend on me. I have friends who need me there to keep ‘em safe. I ain’t leavin’ them so I can live in yer shadow. ”

“You mean you have people’s children to send off to die!” Cyril finally lost her temper and threw her napkin onto the table. “You’re a little kid sending littler kids to die and calling herself a leader!”

“Enough, Cyril!” Kassandra stood up abruptly, sending her chair toppling to the floor. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the waiter and the Maitre d’ staring at her watchfully, waiting to intercede if the situation demanded it. She glared into her sister’s eyes. “There was a line an’ you jus’ crossed it, you an’ yer stupid, pretentious, core world accent! What, bein’ a colony girl ain’t good enough for you? You already forgotten the pirates, the rustlers and thieves that were always comin’ to the planet, raidin’ our farms? You enjoy your kids, Cyril, they’re the only thing of me yer gonna see again, least until you get yer head outta yer ass. Have a nice life.”

* * * =/\= * * *

Location: Earth

Scene: San Fransisco, Starfleet Medical

Time Index: Kassandra Thytos, age 27

Kassandra Thytos lay in her bed, willing herself not to fall asleep again. It was more difficult than it should have been; the sound of beeping medical equipment was hypnotic, and the room was warm, a breeze from somewhere to her left wafted the air around tickling her cheek and bringing the smell of the sea to the room. Besides it wasn’t as though there was much point to staying awake, every day was a study in monotony, a tedium of unchanging noises, unchanging schedules, boredom. The first few days, Kassandra had tried to stay positive, but as one week rolled into two she began to realize that she might go through the rest of her life in darkness, and it was as though all her will was sapped, and she spent most of her day sleeping, or pretending to sleep so she wouldn’t have to talk to the nurses. It had been alright at first, a good diversion from the depression and anger she’d been dealing with, but she soon tired of her caretaker’s goddamn perkiness.

We’re working on a solution for your eyesight. You’re doing much better. You’re very lucky they figured out what was wrong so quickly, you won’t have any significant cognitive impairment. Blah, blah, blah.

Running through it all was the music that the nurses listened to at the station less than twenty feet away, which Kassandra was beginning to imagine as being the soundtrack to her own personal hell. A galaxy worth of music, and the nurses seemed to listen to the same several dozen over and over and over, and though she was able to ignore it mostly, she always seemed to tune in on the songs that annoyed her the most. Case in point:

“Oh my little soldier girl, what have you done? I’ve heard terrible things, you've slain men with your gun. Do you even remember how it felt when you made that first kill? You called me up crying, you said you felt ill. But now there's no mercy, you show no remorse, when I ask "did they deserve it?" you always answer ''of course,” Cyril’s voice crooned from the nurses’ station, backed by a schmaltzy folk guitar, some Vulcan flutes, and the pounding rhythms of Klingon drums. The first time Kassandra had heard it, she’d been insulted, the second time she’d been furious at her sister for airing the cracks in their relationship, now she just loathed the damn song. She tried to ignore it, but with each verse she began getting more agitated and angrier.

There was a muffled conversation at the Nurses’ station, and then the neat, annoyingly regular and prissy clicking of the Betazoid head nurse’s heels as she made her way to Kassandra’s door, followed by someone with a light whispering gait. Female, probably. Kassandra closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep.

“Miss Thytos, I know you’re awake. I have a visitor here to see you,” the Betazoid nurse said scoldingly. Kassandra felt the woman’s arm gently shaking her shoulder, and she made a face. She should have guessed that with a Betazoid’s telepathic abilities the nurse had known all along that Kassandra was pretending to be asleep so she wouldn’t have to talk to her. Fortunately the woman didn’t seem particularly offended by this.

“Tell ‘em to go away, I don’t want visitors,” Kassandra wracked her brain to try and figure out who would be visiting her. Those light footsteps didn’t belong to Horatio who sounded like an elephant in tap shoes nor Sephian who tended to shuffle almost silently, and there wasn’t anyone else left to visit her.

“Miss Thytos, I’m afraid I have to talk to you, you don’t have much of a choice. My name is Inspector Hideki Murasaki, and this is my partner, Elisha Martingale. I’m afraid we’ve some bad news, your sister Cyril was killed in a car crash last night.” The Inspector had a pleasant tenor voice with a west coast accent, and he smelled of bay rum and espresso. “We have a few questions for you about your sister and her husband.”

“And I’m afraid I’m not going to be of any help to you,” Kassandra said, feeling a knot in her throat. “I’m afraid I haven’t talked to my sister in nearly eight years.”

“No?” A female voice asked, surprise evident in her inflection. “She just changed her will to name you the guardian of her children last week, and the nurses said she’s been calling nearly every day to ask about you.”

“I didn’t know.” Kassandra clutched the bedsheets in agitation and made a valiant effort to hold back the tears. She hadn’t talked to her sister in eight years, but somehow in her head it had always been inevitable that they would make up, but now that was an impossibility. “I’m sorry, I can’t help you, but John should be able to -”

“Miss Thytos, John Elgin has been arrested and detained in custody for the death of your sister. All evidence is that he intentionally caused the accident. Your niece and nephew are currently staying with their teacher, but we will need you to officially accept guardianship and allow him to take care of the children until you’re out of the hospital,” Murasaki was speaking again, his voice gentle and encouraging.

“No. Did they tell you why I’m here? I’m blind, an’ they dunno if there will be any way to fix it. I ain’t no use raising children. I don’t even like ‘em. My parents live on Sherman’s Planet, I’m sure they’d be more than happy to come here an’ take charge a my sister’s kids. They’re very family oriented,” Kassandra said shortly. This statement was met with silence and even without sight Kassandra could feel the silent gazes of the two officers upon her, judging her.

* * *=/\=* * *

Time Index:The next day

“Is that her?” Lysander whispered, clinging to his teacher Erik Chen’s sleeve. The woman sitting in the bed had the same red hair as he did, but she looked angry and a little bit mean.

“Yes, that’s your aunt Kassandra.“Let me go in and talk to her first, I didn’t tell her we were coming, so there are explanations due before I introduce you to her.” Erik gently detached Lysander from his sleeve, and walked into the room. Lysander peered around the corner, trying to hear the conversation between his teacher and this new, strange woman whom everyone said they were supposed to live with. Beside him, Asta leaned against the wall and kicked at the baseboards angrily with her heel.

“I don’t know why he’s bothering. She doesn’t want us. That’s what I heard Murasaki and Martingale saying last night. They said we have to move to Sherman’s Planet.”

“Where’s that?” Lysander asked, looking over at her.

“I don’t know,” Asta frowned. Her face was sulky, but her twin knew her well enough to know that she was on the verge of tears. They both were. Shocked, scared, confused, neither of them quite knew what to make of their previously comfortable life as it was upended around them. Lysander thought that if it weren’t for their teacher who had taken them into his house and tried give them a sense of normality, away from the prying eyes of the press and their mother’s fans they might have fallen apart.

“An’ I told ‘em no! I don’t care what Cyril put in her damn will. Jus’ cos yore dead don’t mean you get the right ta push responsibilities on people without warnin’. This is jus’ an attempt to get me ta do what she wanted me to usin’ the power of guilt. No! Mah Ma and Pa will be more’n able ta take care of them, and they’ll be happy for it. I don’t know them, they don’t know me, an’ I jus’ think they’ll be a hell of a lot better taken care of by someone who isn’t me. Ain’t an easy woman to get along with, Mister Chen, an’ if I ever get ta a point where I’m able ta take care a kids, I’d be back in the Marines anyway.” The woman’s voice was loud and angry. Asta gave him an ‘I told you so’ stare.

“And I’m telling you that they need the stability of staying on Earth, and that you’re being a coward. If you won’t take your responsibility, then you owe it to them to tell them in person.” Erik Chen’s voice was raised, which surprised Lysander. it was not something he had ever heard before. “Besides, I have a feeling you need them as much as they need you. Asta, Lysander, come here and say hello to your aunt Kassandra.”

Lysander shuffled forward obediently, grabbing Asta’s hand as he went. She followed reluctantly, but seemed to sense that Lysander thought it was important. They joined them at the bedside, and the red-headed woman stared somewhere over their heads. There was something weird about her eyes, like she didn’t know where to look and Lysander realized she couldn’t see. Up close, Lysander could see that she didn’t look angry at all: She looked sad, hurt, and was being mean to keep people from feeling sorry for her. Impulsively Lysander reached out and grabbed her hand and shook it solemnly.

“Hi Auntie Kassandra. I’m Lysander, and this is my sister Asta. I look a lot like you, and I’ve got the same color hair and eyes. Asta looks…” Lysander swallowed and he sniffled to try and not let the tears fall. “Asta looks a lot like mom, but her hair isn’t blonde, it’s blonde-y red.”

“Hey, hey, kiddo. Don’t hold back, you gotta cry, you gotta cry. Your momma wouldn’t want you to be actin’ all tough when you don’t wanna be.” His aunt’s voice lost all the harshness it had moments before and her eyes softened. She swung her legs out of the bed and stood up shakily, one hand still holding his, the other fumbling around in front of her. She found his shoulder and gave it a clumsy squeeze.

* * * =/\= * * *

Scene: A seedy bar in Oakland, California

Time Index: Kassandra Thytos, age 28

The world made more sense to Kassandra when she was drunk. At least that’s what she chose to tell herself. The fact of the matter was that she was having trouble adjusting to her sensor nets. The first time they had turned them on, she’d had a headache for days; her brain couldn’t wrap itself around all the input she was receiving. it was like being in a dancehall filled with strobe-lights and people dressed in patchwork clothing. Confusing, overwhelming, and useless. So they’d scaled them back and started again slowly, starting with light and dark, then adding color, basic shapes, then refining the amount of details she could detect. They’d gotten her up to the point where she could handle the most basic of input, but it was nothing compared to sight, and it still felt like making it through every day was overwhelming and tiring. But drinking seemed to help her ignore some of the stimuli. Or she just didn’t care about it when she drank.

“Kassandra Thytos, you should be ashamed of yourself! You selfish, irresponsible, cruel jerk!” The voice rang out across the bar, causing the entire room to fall silent. Kassandra could tell that the patrons of the bar were looking on expectantly. She slid her stool back and stood up. The small male figure came up to her and pushed her forcefully. “You’re supposed to be getting your act together so you can take care of Asta and Lysander, not going out and getting yourself drunk off your ass in some dive bar. Do you even remember what day it is?”

“The thirteenth? No, the fourteenth?” Kassandra took a step away. She’d recognized the voice and what she could interpret from her sensor nets of the face as belonging to Erik Chen, but she’d never heard the depth of anger in the man’s voice. She hadn’t actually thought he was capable of getting angry, but apparently he was wrong.

“No. No it isn’t, Kassandra. Today is the 16th,” Erik paused to let that sink in. Kassandra felt her stomach sink, and she realized that the soft-spoken man was right to be angry. “You know, the anniversary of your sister’s death, and the day you absolutely positively promised Asta and Lysander that you’d take them to her grave and then take them to the chocolate factory and to the wharf, and then to a play.”

“Shit. I’m sorry Erik, I-” Kassandra felt the flush of shame coloring her cheeks.

“It’s not me to whom you should be apologizing, Kassandra. It’s those two. How long have you been here? We haven’t seen you all week.”

“Uh, a coupla hours.” It wasn’t a lie, exactly, but truthfully she didn’t have an idea.

“Four days, ” someone muttered from the crowd of people.

“Kassandra, why the hell are you doing this to yourself, why are you doing it to them?” Erik’s voice was less angry, more disappointed.

“It’s complicated. The Marines told me they wouldn’t take me back on accounta my vision. The nets give me a headache, I’d almost rather be blind, an I am becomin’ more and more sure I ain’t gonna make a good mom at all. I’ll be useless at that too,” Kassandra muttered, feeling like a scolded child.

“So instead of stepping up to the plate and trying your best, you’re determined to race your way to the bottom? Do you really WANT to find out exactly where rock bottom is?” Erik sighed and slid onto the bar stool next to her.

“No, I just don’t know what the point is. I got nothin’, and I don’t understand them kids at all, I don’t know how they think, I don’t know what they want. They’re completely alien ta me, like a Horta or somethin’. What am I supposed to do with them?”

“No parent understands their children, at least not until they get older. Which of us actually remembers what it was like to be their age? But all you need to do is the same things that you’d do for the new recruits you’d get in the Marines. Maybe a little less yelling and PT, though. Now, today isn’t completely ruined, I lied and told them you had to go to a doctor’s visit. There’s still time to get some of the day in,” Erik wasn’t being unkind now, but there was steel in his voice. “But I’m not covering for you again, Kassandra. You need to put on your big girl pants and take responsibility or you’re going to end up breaking those kids’ hearts, and I don’t think you’ll be able to live with that.”

* * * =/\= * * *

Scene: Gilroy, California, Thytos Household

Time Index: Kassandra, age 32

“We’re moving? I don’t WANT to move!” Asta screeched with the hysteria worthy of the world ending that only a teenager could muster. She glared at her aunt, who didn’t seem at all fazed by her reaction, and looked amused, even. “I like it here! I like seeing my friends and being able to go to San Fransisco whenever I like, I trees and being on a planet, I don’t WANT to live on a starship.”

She looked to her twin to back her up, but Lysander shrugged, and held his hands up to indicate he didn’t want to get involved. Typical. Lysander never wanted to get in a fight over anything, and forcing him to get involved in a fight was usually worse than counteroproductive.

“What’s this about moving?” The booming bass of Horatio Bellecotte’s voice rang out from the entryway. Asta pounced on him and dragged him to stand in front of her aunt, who was busy packing away handmade utensils in the kitchen, and recycling the replicated ones back into matter blocks.

“Talk sense into her, Uncle Harry! She’s wants us to move onto some stupid starship because she’s got some stupid job in Starfleet,” Asta was aware that she was beginning to whine, but she couldn’t help it. She didn’t want to leave Earth.

“Kass?” Horatio looked at her aunt and they exchanged one of those ‘grownup looks’ that seemed to convey a wealth of information in a single glance.

“Starfleet offered me a job as an assistant security officer, I accepted. So we’re moving.” Kassandra’s voice was the no nonsense tone she used when there was no arguing with her.

“What?” Horatio was taken aback. “But the twins’ entire lives are here, they have friends and-”

“They’re changing schools right now. If I’m gonna do it, now’s the time to do it. They might have a life here, but I ain’t got one. Maybe it’s selfish, but I can’t keep goin’ like this. I get bored, I start thinkin’ too much. I start thinkin’ too much, I start drinkin’ too much, and I have been,” Kassandra opened a cupboard and began to remove plates and glasses. Asta’s stomach, and she looked pleadingly at Horatio again. Horatio’s face was troubled, and he looked as though he was trying to formulate a response.

“Kass, don’t go. Marry me.” Horatio finally blurted out. Asta’s heart soared, Horatio had fixed everything. They’d stay on Earth, and Horatio would be brought fully into the family and maybe Kassandra would have a little sister for her to play with and take care of and- Asta’s happy imaginings were dashed as her Aunt turned around, and Asta saw the look on her face. Her aunt slammed the dish she was holding onto the counter where it smashed into a hundred bright colored pieces.

“You take that back. You take that back right now Horatio Bellecotte, or you get the HELL outta my home,” Her eyes flashed with anger, and her hands were white knuckled on the pieces of plate clutched in them. Asta was confused by her aunt’s anger. “You don’t mean it, and you don’t really want it. You’ve just got some idiotic idea that somehow that’s gonna keep me here, as though you askin’ or me acceptin’ is gonna turn me into some goddamn stepford PTA attendin’ woman who’ll suddenly be oh so happy livin on a planet in a town where the most excitin’ thing that ever happens is garlic pickin’ season. You know better’n that. So take it back.”

Kassandra and Horatio glared at each other for a tense minute, ignoring Asta and Lysander. Finally Horatio grunted and sighed.

“So you’re going and I can’t talk you out of it,” Horatio finally said, looking at Asta apologetically.

“I HATE YOU,” Asta shrieked, not for the first, nor the last time, and stormed off to her room to cry.

* * *=/\=* * *

Location: USS Phoenix

Scene: Shuttlebay

Time Index: Present day

Kassandra searched the throngs of people milling around the front of the cargobay. With nearly nine hundred souls and belongings waiting to come aboard the transporters weren’t sufficient, and shuttles had been employed to transport people and goods en-mass. She was surrounded by a mass of people, and Kassandra was glad for her sensor nets. If she’d had to rely on her eyesight, she would have had trouble seeing over the waves of people and the piles of crates.

Her nets latched onto the telltale color of her nephew’s hair and she shoved her way indecorously through the throngs of people to his side.

“Lysander, Asta!” Kassandra found a disconcertingly goofy smile spreading across her face, and she hoped that none of people in the vicinity were destined to be part of her Marines. Her policy had always been to make them think she was mean and scary when they first met her, that way they warmed up more quickly to her when it turned out she was a reasonable woman.

Lysander and Asta turned around to look in her direction. Lysander’s face split into a similarly stupid looking smile, while Asta’s face was slightly colder. Kassandra had heard what had transpired after the Phoenix had left Terra, and she hazarded a guess that Asta was mad at her for the loss of her position at the Daystrom Institute. Irrational or not, Asta had won that position and then been dragged kicking and screaming from it into an internment camp because of her ties to Kassandra, a wanted fugitive. Even if there had been a good reason for it, even though her presence indicated Asta understood the Neo-Essentialist threat, Asta was never the sort to be able to rationalize the loss of something she wanted without blaming someone else.

“Ma! You’re alive! We’ve been worried about you. Have you been taking care of yourself? What have you guys been doing since you left Earth? Is Horatio with you?” Lysander peppered her with questions as he crushed her in a hug and swung her around in a circle. Kassandra squirmed out of his arms and threw a playful punch at his shoulder.

“Ya tryin’ ta kill me, Lysander? I’m an old lady you know, gotta treat me with kid gloves an’ all that. Gimme a proper hug, you goon. Asta, I don’t care if yer pissed at me. Get yer ass over here,” Kassandra grabbed her niece by the elbow and pulled them both into a ferocious hug, ignoring the awkwardness their comparative height lent to the endeavour. “I thought you two were dead, I thought-” She was surprised to find herself crying. She tried to quell them, but to her horror she couldn’t find it in herself to say anything else so she just stood there, holding them tightly, tears running down her face.

* * *=/\=* * *


Alix Fowler as:
Kassandra Thytos
Estranged sister, reluctant mother


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