Title: Redstone Chapter One, Part One: Memories
It wasn’t the solitary confinement that bothered Kyle so much as the waiting. He could handle being alone. He honestly preferred it much of the time, despite being trained from a very early age to work a room, to capture the attention of a crowd and hold it. Kyle wasn’t naturally gregarious, but nature didn’t matter when the combined expectations of an extroverted father and a politically-minded brother had guided his actions for most of his life. Kyle was smart, and he’d always been able to gauge which way the winds of guardianship blew. He also learned far more about the darker side of family dynamics quite young, and if that meant he needed to become something new in order to survive, then he did.
Kyle stared at the ceiling of his cell, the surface undulating with a mint green light that was meant to be calming. It might have started out that way, but his anxiety was high enough now that it didn’t even come close to working. The lavender aromatherapy that scented the air was merely cloying, and the faint thrum of music that was meant to soothe grated instead. Kyle was well aware that his current imprisonment was just about as comfortable as it could be, given the charges, but the uncertainty of his future imprisonment took the comfort out of his present circumstances.
Would he get to stay here until his trial? During it? Or would he be sent off to Caravan or Redstone? He didn’t know much about either place and his implant had been curbed, cut down to only very basic functions, so he couldn’t look anything up either. His counsel could only come to see him once a standard week, and their conversations had been so busy that Kyle hadn’t remembered to ask about the details of the prisons.
Dwelling on it only made it feel worse, like the room was constricting, pressing in on him. Kyle hadn’t had a panic attack for years now, but thinking like he was thinking was tempting fate. He needed a new train of thought.
He rolled over on his mattress, felt it shift to cushion the new layout of his body. A smart mattress was just a little luxury, but probably one he’d be giving up if he went to prison. The last time he’d gone without that kind of amenity for any length of time was when he was seven years old. The escape pods on his father’s ship had been about the bare essentials, and Kyle had existed in the five-by-five foot space for ten days before his emergency beacon was located. By the time he’d been found the air in the pod had been redolent with the stench of vomit and urine, and he’d been unresponsive. He could remember his sister reaching for him, though, pulling him into her arms despite how filthy he’d been. Kyle’s memory had always been too sharp for his own good.
He shut his eyes, remembering. They’d been making a trip to Ceyla, his father at the helm, his mother and three of Kyle’s older siblings along for the ride. He was the youngest, the baby out of the eleven kids that Foster Alexander had fathered so far. His father had been larger than life, looming like a titan in Kyle’s young eyes. There was love there, but fierceness as well. Kyle hadn’t felt comfortable alone with his father, so he spent most of his time with his siblings. Ariana had only been two years older, and they’d played and done lessons together, his mother overseeing things with a distant gaze from where she sat on the couch and played with her tab.
Kyle remembered the alarms. Blaring sirens, flashing orange lights. His mother startling, dropping the tab to the ground. That had been odd to him—she never dropped things, was never less than utterly elegant. He remembered his father’s voice over the com: “Get the kids into the pods, Haven, now.” It was the last thing Kyle had ever heard his father say.
“Come on, you two.” His mother took his and Ariana’s hands and led them out of the central sitting room and down the hallway, past the bustling crewmen moving with a purpose that Kyle didn’t understand, all the way to the very end where six tiny pods waited, each with its own orange and yellow door. She’d opened one of them and pushed Ariana toward it. Ariana had balked.
“I want to stay with Kyle!” she’d insisted, taking his hand and pulling her along with him. He’d gone willingly, wanting to stay with her—and she wanted him to. Why should they be apart?
“They aren’t big enough for two of you,” his mother had replied. “It won’t be for long, Ari.” She’d leaned in and kissed his sister’s forehead, then forcibly separated their hands. Ariana had resisted, accidentally scratching Kyle’s wrist with her fingernails as they were pried apart. But she’d gone into the pod without more fuss, and a moment later it was Kyle’s turn.
“What about Bryn and Polla?” he’d asked as she’d settled him back, buckling him into the overlarge chair.
“They’re coming, Kyle, they’ll get into pods too.”
“And you and father?”
His mother’s smile had been tight. “Of course. We’ll all be together again soon. You just be brave and quiet and this will all be over soon.” She’d kissed his forehead too, stroked one hand over his cheek, then left the pod and shut the door. Kyle had been too stunned with the speed of it all to object, to cry, to do anything other than sit there, quiet and as brave as he thought he could be, as the pod was ejected from the ship. And then…
Nothing. For ten days. And he remembered it, he remembered every crawling minute of it, every awful fumble of his too-small fingers at the harness that restrained him until he finally just squirmed out of it, the work of hours. He remembered looking through the small porthole trying to see other pods, or the ship, or anything that looked familiar, but there’d been nothing. Nothing but the blackness of space.
Kyle had tried the rudimentary radio attached to the pod’s tiny control panel, but no one had responded. He had looked for directional controls but none existed for the tiny pod. He’d found the emergency store of food and the rudimentary toilet, and then he’d settled back in to wait. And wait. And wait.
He remembered being found, and too out of it to respond to his oldest sister’s gentle exhortations. Berengaria was one of the children from his father’s first marriage, and he’d never gotten to know her very well. But she’d smelled good, and her bright blonde hair was familiar, and Kyle had finally felt warm again once he was wrapped up in her arms. It had been hours before he felt ready to talk, but when he finally did he asked, “Ari?” Berengaria shook her head.
“Her pod doesn’t seem to have made it. There’s no sign of it in the wreckage of the ship, but there were no pings from her emergency beacon either.”
Wreckage? Kyle had wanted to ask, but that was when the tears caught up to him, the first time he’d cried since he’d been ejected into space. His oldest sister had held him and soothed him as best she could, but she wasn’t his mother, and she wasn’t Ari. She wasn’t important to him yet, and she couldn’t make him feel better about the horrible things. Not until later did that happen, and only briefly.
Kyle remembered everything, everything from about the age of three on, until he was eight years old and Berengaria lost custody of him to Raymond. Raymond was the oldest of the Alexander children, more than fifty years older than Kyle, and he hadn’t known much about Raymond other than his father had disliked him and Berengaria hated him. He could see the tears of frustration on Beregaria’s face, and hear the distress in her voice. He could hear his brother, projecting confidence like only a politician could. He remembered being swept up in strong arms that held him too tight, jerked away again from yet another sister and taken off with Raymond. And then…
Nothing. He had absolutely no memories from the next year and a half of his life, right up until he started boarding at the Academy prep school. It had taken years for Kyle to realize that that was wrong, that something had likely been deliberately done to him to wipe those memories from his mind. By the time he’d been able to do anything about it, he’d decided not to. He didn’t need memories from his childhood to know that Raymond was an absolute dick.
Kyle couldn’t have jumped onboard Admiral Liang’s covert operation faster. Research into his family’s deaths had been damning, not just about his parents’ but other siblings as well. The more he learned about Raymond Alexander, President of the Federation, the less he knew he could trust the man. Family was nothing to his brother, power was everything. Power and prestige. The chance to take that away from Ray was worth everything to Kyle, even his freedom. Even his life.
Although getting to keep those would obviously be way better.
The door chime dinged. Kyle sat up and turned to face it, curious. It wasn’t the right time for a meal, and he wasn’t supposed to see his counsel for another two days.
But there his head lawyer was, a grim expression on his face. Kyle felt his heart sink.
“Redstone,” his lawyer confirmed. “Our injunctions were denied by the new judge, who incidentally was brought on just this week after Judge Carter succumbed to some very startling and unexpected allegations of misconduct.” He shook his head helplessly. “There’s nothing I can do to stop the move, Kyle. All I can do is push for a faster trial, which is going to make gathering the witnesses we need difficult. I’m sorry.”
Redstone. Not Caravan, which would have been bad but was at least in the Central System, which followed guidelines and had oversight for their prisons. Redstone was a maximum-security detention center in the middle of nowhere that held some of the worst offenders the Federation had ever taken alive.
“Also…your brother is here. He wants to meet with you.”
Fuck. And Kyle had thought that this day couldn’t get any worse.