Notes: Oh my god, the epilogue. What? But...nothing is resolved! Everything is still up in the air! What am I going to do about the Alexanders, what about Robbie, when am I bringing back Cody and Ten? What...the...fuck, woman?
I know. I KNOW. Much more will be revealed with the next story, but for now, this one's over. 65k, not bad for a glorified prison fic ;) I've got some housekeeping to do, ie compiling this and The Academy onto their own pages so you can read them without hunting across my blog, but I'll do it soon. The next blog story, btw, won't be in this same universe. I owe a friend a fic and I plan to deliver, BUT! There will be vignettes posted for your reading edification, and to set up the next big arc.
The new story won't start immediately, I've got to finish a contracted novel by mid-month and I've got plans for a few contests between now and then. Stick with me, though, there's lots of free fiction coming your way this year. For now, though...well. Have an epilogue. It's not porny but it's still fun ;)
Title: Redstone: Epilogue
It was strange, being in the company of people he didn’t have to fear again. Well, more people; Kyle was already with Isidore and even Pence, to a certain extent. Now there were Robbie and Wyl, and with five of them on Robbie’s little ship there was no avoiding each other. Wyl had disabled the vessel’s tracking system, essentially making them invisible in space, and then set them in orbit around a red giant while they figured out what to do next.
According to the elusive Peacock, who Kyle recognized as soon as he heard his voice over the comm, the thing to do right now was make themselves scarce.
“I’m not sure of the next play,” Garrett confessed to Isidore and Wyl. He sounded supremely irritated by his own ignorance. “I’m compiling the data you gave me and collecting evidence. I’ve already scheduled a meeting on the senate floor next standard month, which was the soonest I could get in. I might need access to Kyle at that point for tests to verify the genetic modification, but I’m not sure, and I don’t trust having him anywhere near Olympus or even the Central System while I’ve got Raymond on the run. He’s being suspiciously quiet about everything, including the disgrace that’s Redstone. That, at least, is changing.”
“So you want us to stay close but not too close?”
“If possible. And for the love of life, don’t get caught doing anything illegal by any planetary authorities while our entire plan hangs in limbo?” Garrett begged. “I’ve got enough to worry about now; I don’t want bailing you out of some Fringe jail cell to come onto the list.”
Isidore frowned. “What’s worrying you?”
“What isn’t?” Garret replied dryly. “My husband is two weeks out on a trip to Pandora carrying some much-needed supplies after the last hurricane season, my kid is restarting school at the same academy that almost saw him killed last year, and his significant other might just blow up a building this year with hir experiments. Puffin has basically washed her hands of Ten, but I’m not about to do the same. And now there’s the six of you on my radar.”
“Five,” Wyl corrected.
“Six,” Garrett shot back. “Another inmate escaped Redstone during the riots. Three guesses as to who it was, and the first two don’t count.”
“Rory.” Isidore sounded grimly certain.
“Rory, also known as Rory MacAllister, also in possession of nearly a dozen other aliases. One of the most prolific mass murderers in the history of humankind, if the casualties from the ship crashes that he engineered count. Prosecutors certainly thought they did. Thanks for letting that piece of work out along with you.”
“Hey, we don’t like him any more than you do,” Wyl snapped.
“I know.” Garrett sounded conciliatory. “How is Robbie? I expected to talk to him today.”
Wyl ran a hand through his hair. “He’s sleeping. Still. Again. He’s hardly woken up since we left Redstone.”
“Did the Regen not—”
“The Regen worked, he’s healed, he’s just…I don’t know. Exhausted. Unable to stay up for more than an hour at a time. Hopefully it’s just fatigue.”
“If it isn’t, we’ll figure something else out.” Garrett sounded firm. “I’m not leaving you to deal with the ramifications of this on your own. You have the credits, you’ve got all the supplies I could forward to the safehouses, and you’ve got a way to speak to me. You won’t be out there for long. I’ll bring you back soon, I promise. We’ll take out Alexander, undo his xenophobic policies regarding the Fringe colonies and the alien populations within the Federation, and ensure that you’re all cleared of any charges of misconduct.”
“I hope that applies to me too,” Pence said quietly. He’d somehow gotten right next to Kyle without Kyle even noticing; that was one of the downsides to being on their own for now, that there was no way to turn his mods back on. He would have heard Pence from a hundred feet away if he’d had his mods.
Then again, given how small the space onboard was and how tight they were going to be packed, maybe Kyle should be glad his mods weren’t working. Some things he didn’t really need to hear.
“I’m sure you can make a case for time served and assistance rendered,” Kyle said just as quietly.
“It would be nice,” Pence mused. “I haven’t been felony free for the past thirty-odd years.” He stared a while longer at Isidore and Wyl, then tugged at Kyle’s sleeve. “Let’s leave them to it for now, hmm? They’ll keep us up to date if there’s something we need to know or say.” He left without waiting, but after a moment Kyle followed him. He passed by Wyl and Robbie’s darkened room, where he could just barely make out Robbie’s restless form on the bunk. He might be asleep, but he wasn’t still.
There was one other bedroom in the little ship, and Kyle shared that with Isidore and Pence. Pence had moved in with them with unceremonious expectation, and Isidore had rolled his eyes but let it stand. Part of Kyle still resented the man’s intrusion into what had been something…close, possibly even more than he knew, with Isidore. On the other hand, he appreciated that at least one other person on the damn ship knew less about what was going on than he did.
Pence bypassed their room and led the way to the very tail end of the ship, where a tiny viewport let them look out on their surroundings. Kyle was used to space being nothing but blackness, but thanks to Wyl’s paranoia, he’d found them a lodging in an asteroid belt around an oversized, slowly dying sun. Red light glimmered off the rocks that surrounded them, and astral dust glittered in the spaces between. It was beautiful, and when Pence sat down on the low bench in front of the port and motioned for Kyle to join him, he did so without a second thought.
“How are you holding up?” Pence asked, his expression unaccountably serious. It looked very out of place on his jolly, mustached face.
“Fine,” Kyle answered automatically, then shook his head. “No, actually, not really fine. I thought I knew what was happening, before Redstone. I thought I had a handle on what was going on, and what my place in it all needed to be. Now, I don’t…I’m not sure. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t have a plan, and I’ve always had a plan.”
“Oh, the burden of such responsibility so young,” Pence mused. “When I was your age I was stealing trinkets to give to other naïve young men. You realize it’s all right for you to not have a plan for a bit, yes pet? Our guardian dove seems to have things well in hand.”
“But it’s not fair for me to make other people take care of me when I should be taking care of myself.”
Pence smiled a little. “You’re familiar with the game chess?” Kyle nodded. “You’re clearly used to being a piece of some use. A knight, or a castle. But right now, little lamb, you’re a pawn. An important pawn, the king of pawns, but a pawn nonetheless. And that’s not a terrible thing to be. Let others move you about, let them dispense with your time and service as they see fit. The only thing you have to do right now is continue breathing and maintaining your sanity, which I think you’ve got quite a handle on.” He nudged Kyle’s knee with his foot. “Be a little irresponsible for once in your life. It’ll do you some good.”
“Like it did for you?” Kyle asked with one eyebrow raised, and Pence chuckled ruefully.
“Oh, pet, I was hardly a little irresponsible. I made a career out of imitating other people and borrowing from their responsible personas, so I never bothered to develop one of my own. And I probably never will.” He shrugged. “I don’t mind, at this point. All I care about now is that I’m free of that hellhole, and that for the first time in a long time I’m in the company of people that I don’t despise, and that’s saying an awful lot. It’s like winning a grand prize in life, to be able to tolerate your companions.”
“Are you actually planning on staying with us?” Kyle asked. As confused about his own feelings as he was, he still liked Pence. The man made dark places a little lighter. “You said it yourself: you’re used to being other people. We could set down on a planet somewhere and you could disappear, take on a new persona, and make a new life for yourself. Peacock would probably even give you funds to get started.”
Pence rolled his eyes. “Your oh-so-mysterious bird people. Right, well, if this Peacock gent has the means to do all the things he says he does, then sure, I could book it and start fresh. I thought about it, in fact, but that bit I was saying about not despising you lot? I can’t guarantee that anyplace I set down, I’d be so lucky again.” He smiled, but it was a bit twisted. “I did another stint in prison before this last one, and while it was nowhere near as bad, it was still no treat. When I got out, I found myself filled with inexplicable feelings of misanthropy. Everyone around me was stupid, dull, hateful for not understanding me, for not even knowing that they should try. I was filled with contempt for the universe. It put me into a bad place, and things only got worse from there.
“But now I’m in the company of people who understand where I’m coming from, who can relate to me. Hell, you’re the most innocent of the bunch, it would seem; you or that Wyl fellow, and you’re still better than some random bloke off the streets.”
“My pleasure, pet.” Pence smirked. “The point is, I don’t think right now that I can do better than any of you. There’s no group of people in the ‘verse that I’d rather be with, and you, at the very least, desperately need someone to teach you to lighten up a bit. It’s not going to be any of that lot.” He gestured toward the front of the ship. “Isidore wears seriousness like it’s the latest fashion, and Wyl’s going to be het up caring for his husband until the man’s back to normal, which…” He grimaced. “Could be quite some time. That leaves me.” Pence looked pleased with himself.
It was ridiculous to even be thinking about “lightening up” with everything that was going on, and yet somehow Kyle’s heart eased a little. Life really wasn’t his responsibility right now. He would do everything he could to help, but other than that? “What do you want to show me?”
“Oh, pet.” Pence reached out and squeezed his shoulder. “So many things. You’ll see.” He looked out the port. “You’ll see.”