Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reformation: Chapter Forty

Notes: Only a happy reunion to go, I think. Because of course I've got to draw this out! Enjoy some political machinations and people knowing things they shouldn't. And by people, I mean Garrett.

Title: Reformation: Chapter Forty


Chapter Forty

“There’s fighting in the Senate.”

“What a shame.”

“Open fighting. Just fists so far, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone pulls a weapon or sets their bodyguards on another senator before the morning is done.”

Garrett shrugged. “You can’t expect me to be bothered by any of this, Sigurd.”

Admiral Liang’s sharp, knowing gaze stayed fixed on him. “I wondered if you had any idea how far you wanted to see things fall, in the end. Political chaos is inevitable, now that Alexander’s demise is being broadcast on every holo station.”

“And evidence of his perfidity,” Garrett added. “You’re the one who helped me dig that up and make it public. Everything they’re reporting on about the dark fleet, the money laundering, the attacks on the Fringe—that’s all coming directly from your investigation. If you were really all that concerned about instability, you would have waited until someone else had consolidated power to release that information. I wouldn’t stop you either way.”

Sigurd inclined his head. “I know. And timing-wise, if we’re going to prevent another regime from springing up among the former president’s followers, it had to be now. But you can’t simply run away from the mess you helped make.”

“Watch me.”

“Settling back on the Fringe isn’t a long-term plan, Garrett, especially not now that the planets’ legal status is unclear. There will almost inevitably be power plays made out there that the fleet can’t respond to. There will be interplanetary war, every pirate or Drifter with enough people and ships making a play to increase their status, not to mention conflicts between the planetary governments themselves.”

“It’s a good thing that what’s left of the Fleet is out here already then, isn’t it?” Garrett drawled. Jonah snickered next to him, and he resisted the urge to smile. “And that they’ve got you as their commander in chief.”

“I don’t command the entire navy.”

“But you do have ultimate authority over the Academy and its cadets, who are doing the patrolling out here. The rest of the fleet might be powerful, but it’s scattered. You’ve got a nexus of power recovering at Pandora, and better yet, you’ve got the children of people in positions of power. Nobody’s going to move against you with this kind of leverage, and while Alexander’s dark fleet might have been a trial for Federation forces, no real pirates or municipal navies will be able to muster anything like that level of offense. You’re the king of the Fringe.”

“I don’t believe in monarchies.”

“Well, I hope you believe in a benevolent dictatorship, at least for a while, because that’s what I’m putting you in position for.” Admiral Liang’s gaze narrowed, and Garrett hastened to explain himself. “It’s got to be you. You already know that. There’s nobody else in the entire government who comes close to your level of trustworthiness, and your reputation is unassailable. And so are you. You have no family, no children.” And I know why. “Your work is your life. You want the best for your cadets. Well, that’s going to be whatever treaty or reconciliation you can hammer out of those hardheads in the Senate, and you need to act fast, while they’re panicked. Their fortunes are falling, their lives are chaos, and who knows if they even have any legal authority anymore? They’ll listen to you. They have to.”

“Perhaps for now. By next week I could be dodging assassins of my own.”

“You’re not that easy to kill.” It was the closest Garrett could come to being totally blunt, and he appreciated Sigurd’s simple nod of acknowledgement.

“And why should I let you fly off into the sunset and leave me to fix this mess without your help? You have a lot of influence here. You’re the architect of this dismay. You should have a hand in cleaning things up.”

“I can’t.” He couldn’t be any more honest. “I—I can’t. I almost lost everything already, I don’t even know if—” He couldn’t say it. “I’m not saying I’ll be gone forever,” Garrett said. “But I can’t stay right now. I have to be with my family, I have to make sure they’re okay and get them somewhere safe to recover.”

“Where do you have in mind?”

“Somewhere beyond the reach of the Federation, diplomatically speaking.”

Admiral Liang’s eyes widened slightly. “Perelan? Will they accept your presence?”

“They will if their ambassador has anything to say about it. They’ve already got Claudia and the girls. It won’t be permanent, but it’ll give us space to breathe and recover.”

“I suppose it will.” The admiral sighed. “Go, then. Take your well-earned rest, but I want you to maintain a channel with me. If you vanish off the face of the universe, I’ll assume the worst and come after you, even if it causes an interplanetary incident.”

“I understand.”

“Then good luck, Garrett. Tell Cody I’m disappointed he and Tiennan won’t be attending classes any longer, but that I understand.”

“Well, I’m not sure that Ten—”

I am.” He cut the connection, and Garrett sat back in his chair with a loud exhale.

“Well. That went better than it could have.”

“A lot better,” Jonah agreed. “Wouldn’t have surprised me if he kept a few ships in reserve just to send after you and escort you back to help him deal with this clusterfuck.”

“Sigurd Liang is an expert at dealing with clusterfucks, he doesn’t need my help.” Garrett’s eyes unfocused a little bit as he thought about it. “I managed to track him. Did I tell you that? Found evidence of him throughout the centuries, new names and new jobs after his wipes, but a lot of it’s the same. He’s always a stand-up guy, and he’s always competent at whatever he puts his mind to. He’s dealt with rebellion, revolution—hell, he’s led a few of them himself. He might not remember the details, but so many years of experience will come through for him. He’s going to be all right, and whatever he hammers the Federation into after this, it’s damn sure going to be better than the mess we had before.”

“Is there anything you can’t plan for?”

“Too much.” Garrett checks his comm again—it doesn’t matter that he would have heard it going off and dropped Liang’s call in a hot second if it meant getting through to Pandora—but there was nothing. He was in his private ship, and the comm system didn’t come with the bells and whistles that would get him more immediate contact with Pandora. From his official quarters, he would have been patched straight through to Jezria. Without them, he was one of what was probably a very long queue, especially since it looked like the Fleet really was using the planet as a place to refit, and taking up most of their bandwidth at the same time.

Garrett sighed. Soon. He’d be there soon, and then all this waiting would be over and he’d know whether or not it was worthwhile for him to keep…going. He was so tired. Fuck, he was so tired of everything, and he still didn’t know what he needed to. His husband, his son, his father—were they even alive? Odds were good that at least someone had survived, but Garrett wasn’t sure that someone would be enough for him at this point. It had to be everyone. He needed everyone, or else he might as well fly his ship into the nearest star with no one but his hallucination for company.

“No, darlin’.”

“No what?”

“No, you’re not gonna do that.”

Fuck, I forgot he’s not real. He can actually read my mind. Garrett chuckled. Because he’s all in my mind. Only in my mind. “How would you stop me?”

“I’d find a way. For now, though? You need some sleep. When you wake up, you’ll be that much closer to Pandora.”

That was a good thing. So why was he dreading it so much? “Okay.”

“Good.” Invisible hands helped Garrett over to his bunk, the autopilot keeping everything on the ship running smoothly. “It’ll be all right. Promise.”

“You can’t promise.”

“How ‘bout you let me worry about what I can and can’t do?” Gentle lips pressed a kiss to his brow. “Sleep, sweetheart. Sleep.”

Garrett did.


  1. I don't know how or why I took a long break from you, but one day I had a hankerin' to read the Pandora stories again, and that's when I found Kyle in prison and this marvelous story. I read everything in less than a week. I'm thrilled (and sorry) to say I've caught up. Cari, you just keep getting better and better! I enjoy this little band of characters so much. (Gotta post as my Google self, I haven't been here in so long.)

    1. Aw, yay! Thanks for picking me back up! I hope you enjoy the conclusion (so close, we're so close!).