Part Ten: For Posterity
Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The saga continues. Enjoy:) There’s now a page on my blog where you can find all the previous posts without hunting around. Yes, I’m a giver.
Three weeks of final preparations gave Garrett plenty of time to question his own judgment when it came to accepting Jezria’s offer, but fortunately he was too busy to consider it much. The lab was being whipped into shape and stocked with several years’ worth of supplies, and luckily for all of them transport issues kept Martina’s ire facing outward, not at her own employees.
Most of the scientists were friendly enough, but Garrett could already tell that apart from a few standouts, he wasn’t going to be socializing much with this group outside of working hours. They treated him with a wary sort of respect, not because of his qualifications, which were good but not exceptional, but because everyone had found out fairly quickly who he was related to, and that instantly diminished their ease with him. Lila didn’t seem to care, and Shekar, her lovelorn shadow, followed where she led, but apart from the two of them and Martina people were pretty reserved. Friendly nods and envious glances at his expensively ergonomic chair were the most he ever got by the time their departure was imminent
All this meant that Garrett felt more keenly the distance between himself and his family back on Paradise. He had expected to miss them. He hadn’t expected the unaccountable sense of longing he got for Paradise, however. Not the planet itself, really, but the locations he was most familiar with: the Governor’s Mansion, the barracks, Wyl and Robbie’s living room and the terrace overlooking the city. He called them more often than he thought he would, and he was always a little surprised that they could take the time to talk with him.
At least Claudia and Wyl usually could. Miles and Robbie were still in the throes of investigating the explosion at the warehouse, as well as dealing with upcoming parliamentary elections. Claudia called Garrett at least as often as he called her, and they ended up spending hours on the video comms just chatting. Claudia talked about her budding vineyard and Garrett amused her with stories of his new boss.
He and Wyl talked a few times a week, occasionally when Robbie was around but mostly when he was out in the field. Wyl tried not to worry, but Garrett was an expert at worry and he saw right through it.
“Where is he this time?”
“Maneuvers.” Wyl was lying on the couch in his living room, stomach down, head resting on his folded arms. He didn’t have a shirt on. Garrett reminded himself that Wyl wasn’t trying to look so disgustingly sexy on purpose, and refocused on what he was saying. “I don’t even fucking know what “maneuvers” means.”
“Field exercises. The rehearsal of military missions without actual combat.”
“Naturally you know.” Wyl sighed and pushed his hair out of his eyes. “They’ve been going at it gung-ho lately. Apparently they have to prepare for a zillion different types of attack during elections.”
“Better safe,” Garrett said with a shrug. “I’d rather have them fuck up someplace where no one could get hurt than out in the field. My dad was part of a unit once that lost over half its soldiers because someone gave a moron who wasn’t properly field-tested a plasma grenade launcher to use. Idiot forgot to activate the safety, then accidentally set the thing to automatic fire. It was a dumb design for him to be able to fuck it up so completely, but still, he should never have had it in the first place.”
“Holy shit. Did he off himself too?”
“No. He lived.” And was subsequently subjected to one of the most brutal court-martials in the history of the Federation. “You see Claudia much?”
“A lot more lately. She’s starting to show a bit. I think your dad is kind of freaking out.”
“I figured he would.”
“I think he misses you, Gare.”
There wasn’t much Garrett could say to that, so he changed the subject.
The night before the Neptune was set to leave with all its hopeful, harried colonists, the Senate of Olympus threw a celebratory going-away extravaganza. Garrett read it as a “Go-be-difficult-somewhere-else” party, but he got an invitation the same as everyone even tangentially associated with the Pandora Project, not just the people who were shipping out.
He convinced himself in a matter of about two seconds that he had no interest in going. There would be thousands of people packed into the docking bay of the Neptune, bland mass food and dull mass music and decorations that couldn’t make the environment any more banal but would probably try. Instead he went to his living quarters, where the walls were now covered with photo-realistic cloth, and thought about watching a movie. The cloth was projecting a picture he’d taken on a job on Dune, and his room felt very cave-like as a result, grays and blues and blacks blending into the twinkling colors of far-off crystal formations.
A light on his countertop control panel was blinking. It was a light he hadn’t seen before, and it flickered on and off with a merry insistence. Garrett leaned over and activated the alert.
Package in holding. Deliver now?
A package? He wasn’t expecting anything. Everything he’d paid for himself so far had mostly been for the lab or carted into his apartment and set up immediately. He checked the address. Paradise.
“Fine, deliver now.” Garrett thumbed the deliver button and waited. A few moments later a small box thumped into his receiver. It was the same system they used to send food from the mobile mess, and he wasted a few moments wondering just how sanitary that was before pulling out the box and undoing the clasps holding the top on. Garrett looked inside, did a double take, checked the included note and groaned. “For fuck’s sake.” He turned and marched over to his video comm and punched in Robbie and Wyl’s number, not caring what time it was there.
It rang. It rang some more. Finally Wyl activated the call, appearing sleep-rumpled and pissed off as the lights in his living room slowly brightened. “Gare, what the hell?”
“Do I look like an adolescent girl to you?”
Garrett rolled his eyes. “A diary, Wyl? Seriously?”
“It’s an interactive holographic recording journal and personal planning tool,” Wyl corrected him. Garrett’s discomposure was obviously amusing to him, and he started to smile. “Top of the line.”
“Whatever. Why did you send it to me?”
“Because who are you gonna talk to on Pandora?” Wyl asked point-blank. “Who are you going to confide in? Who’s going to be your best friend, Gare? You need to talk shit out, and once you get into the fringe the time lag will be too much for you to talk to anyone here face to face. At least this way you can get it out somehow, even if you’re the only one who ever listens to it.” He yawned, then added, “Besides, it was Robbie’s idea.”
“I do have a social life, you know.”
“Yeah, and I know most of the people you work with won’t tell you “boo” and the only person who will is gonna be too busy to cater to your needs once things get going.” Wyl sighed. “Use it or don’t use it, man, just take it for what it is, okay? A concerned attempt to keep you from getting lonely.”
Garrett really, really wanted to say he didn’t need a fucking lame recording journal to act as his goddamn sounding board and that he wasn’t lonely, not one fucking bit, but he didn’t want to lie like that to Wyl’s face. “Robbie around?”
“Tell him thanks for me.”
Wyl grinned at Garrett’s capitulation. “I will. Now I’m going back to sleep. G’night.”
“Yeah, good night.” The comm switched off and Garrett swiveled his head back towards the box, then huffed and went over to it. He lifted the recorder out and examined it. It was nicer than most of the ones he’d seen, a small, compact metal disk equipped with a camera, sensors to detect where he was so it could record accurately, a black-out mode, touch activation so that the only person who could access it was him…he sighed. It was a toy for a goddamn adolescent girl, and he was going to use it because his fucking ex-boyfriend was an asshole who knew him way too well. He read the note again.
Don’t think about it, just use it. Trust me. Robbie.
“Whatever.” Garrett fumed silently to himself even as he programmed the recorder to his personal specifications, finally setting it across from him on the counter and glaring as the holographic operator appeared. Following a sarcastic impulse he’d chosen a cartoon for his operator, a fluffy little creature with four long ears and goggle eyes. It wiggled its poofy little tail and tossed him a salute. “Ready to record?” it asked in a squeaky falsetto.
“Oh hell no,” Garrett muttered. “Recorder, lower vocal range to bass.”
There was a chime, the cartoon blurred for a moment and when it next spoke, the cute little creature sounded like it could have starred in a testosterone-driven action movie. “Ready to record?” it boomed.
“Better. Sure, why not. Record.”
“Journal record one, beginning.”
“Robbie, you are a piece of shit for sending this to me,” Garrett began. “I am not a child you need to hold by the hand and coddle as it takes its first fucking steps. I have plenty I could be doing apart from using a freaking holographic recorder to talk about my excruciatingly dull days, but now I’m obligated to use it because you and your damn boyfriend are double-teaming me. And not in the way I’d like.
“But fine, whatever. Dear diary, or journal, or planner. I’m peachy. We’re leaving tomorrow for Pandora, where if things continue as they’ve begun I can look forward to three years of an insane boss, meek coworkers and clean, wholesome, mind-fuckingly dull living. Half of me wants to kill Jezria and the other half makes me want to beg her to cancel my contract and let me go back to Paradise, or somewhere else. Anywhere else.
“But I won’t because I can dedicate myself to something and see it through, no matter what certain other people may think. I’ll do this and chock it up as a learning experience and use it to get sympathy fucks, not that I need sympathy fucks but god, I could really go for any kind of fuck right now.” He sighed. “I haven’t slept with another person in over a month. Wyl would ask if I was sick. There’s a thing tonight, which will probably be awful but is also likely the last chance I’m going to get to drink myself sick for a while, not to mention find a hook-up. In fact, with that in mind I should probably be getting my ass out there instead of wallowing in silence in my rooms, but it feels like doing penance. Plus I don’t have anything to wear.”
Garrett stopped, groaned and put his head in his hands. “Fuck, I am an adolescent girl.” He shut off the recorder, went back to his bathroom and started up his shower. If he was fast, he could be there in half an hour.