manicdak: (Default)
[personal profile] manicdak
Title: The Unknown Galaxies
Five: Rules Be Damned
Warnings: None except for possibly cursing
Summary: Rasa Goes Directly to the Woman in Charge. No more sneaking around for her. Berilo has creepy teeth.

     Ehren sat alone in his old room which had become, in his absence, an office for his father. He hadn’t been inside since he arrived back on Earth, and he found the replacement of his things to be somewhat disturbing. He had told his father that he had been okay with it when Henrich had called to ask his permission for the redecoration while he had been in pre-recruit training, and Ehren didn’t think he would mind. Being there in a room that he could no longer claim as ‘his’ was having a somewhat disconcerting effect on him. It no longer felt like home.

     His home was a tiny single person room in a dormitory on the depressing planet of Tarain. It would have been a depressing revelation if it weren’t for the fact that he’d still have Robin when his leave was over and he finally returned to his post. He found himself looking forward to resuming the routine of Robin bringing him breakfast on their off days and pretending to work out on the rowing machine in the gym while Robin did strength training.

     He sighed to himself and sat on the sofa in the room, pulling out his Inter-Temporal Communication device, so that he could call Rasa within a reasonable amount of time over such a far reaching distance. She answered the call, cheerily chirping out his name.

    “How are you doing?” She asked before he could say a word. “We miss you around here!”

    “You miss me.” Ehren corrected her. “I’m fine.”

     “Do you have a scar?”

      Ehren laughed at her. He picked up the corner of his shirt as if he didn’t fully know what he would find underneath and ran his finger over the smooth patch of new skin that had formed over the bullet wound.

      “No actually,” he said. “There’s no scar tissue at all. The skin just grew back like normal.”

     “Really? That’s awesome. Wait till I tell Berilo. He was wondering about that.”

     “You’re still talking to him?”

      “Of course,” she said. “I like him.”

     “Good,” Ehren said. “Look, the reason I called…”

     “It’s not to say ‘hi’, is it?” She interrupted. “You always want something when you call me.”

     “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t mean to.”

      “It’s okay,” she replied. “What do you need this time? More treason?”

      “It wasn’t treason!”

     “Well, it was disobeying orders,” she replied. “Just spill it Ehren. What can’t you do that’s gotten into that brain of yours.”

     “I need you to find out about Robin’s father.”

     There was silence on the other end of the line as Rasa processed his request quietly. She finally spoke up with confusion in her voice.

     "The Commander is from a matriarchal household…”

     “It’s a long story,” Ehren said. “Suffice it to say that he knew his father, and he went missing in time. His case file is closed, and Robin apparently has fudged his way through years of computer training and basically only knows how to turn one on.”

     “Wait, wait wait.” Rasa stalled and Ehren waited for her inevitable protest. “It’s a locked case file and you want me to hack it? Commander Grey wants me to hack it?”


     “That’s the short of it,” Ehren said. “So what do you say?”

     “I say that is illegal,” she said. “And I’m telling Lieutenant Commander David. She can decided what to do. I’m definitely never spending weeks sneaking around behind our boss’s backs again. It’s not good for my sanity, especially so soon after the last time!.”


     “But you got a commendation for the last time!” Ehren whined. “C’mon, Rasa. Robin wanted me to ask you.”

     “Okay, you know, it’s still kind of weird to hear you call him that,” she said. “I can’t believe you guys are an item.”

     “Trying to change the subject is not going to stop me from whining in your ear, Rasa. Pleeeaaase?”

     “Whining in my ear isn’t going to work this time!” She replied. “I’m going to the Lieutenant Commander, and unless you steal Commander Grey’s TTD, there’s nothing you can do that will stop me.”

      “Maybe I will do that,” Ehren said.

      “And risk falling out of transit?” Rasa laughed at him. “You still don’t know how to work one properly. You don’t have nearly enough training. The only reason you’ve gotten away with using one before is because you piggy-back on the commander when he jumps!”

     “Okay, fine,” Ehren said. “You tell the Lieutenant Commander, she’ll call Robin and Robin will explain to her what he wants and I don’t have to be the middle man anymore. That actually sounds like a better plan.”

     “See, and you were going to be mad at me,” Rasa said. Ehren chuckled at her.

      “Never,” he replied.


      ***

     Rasa marched purposefully down the hallway of the Inter-Galactic Action Squad Headquarters stationed on the sodden gray planet of Tarrain, an out of the way rock in a remote corner of the Aposite Galaxy. It rotated slowly in an orbit that was furthest away from the solar system’s star, a useful location for the Inter-Galactic military force to be stationed, but not a particularly scenic or comfortable one. She wasn’t particular enamored of the location, nor pleased that the special task force she had been assigned to had remained there, but there was nothing she could do about it. It was her job for the moment, and she was grateful for it. In the grand scheme of things, not many people got to experience Inter-Galactic travel. Rasa felt as if she were one of the lucky ones, even if it was gray space-filled boredom punctuated by intense rushes of mortal peril on some far away land.

     What she was not pleased to do was Ehren’s bidding. She had narrowly avoided trouble the last time she had broken the rules only because she’d been integral in bringing down the highly corrupt Vice Admiral of I-GAS. That had earned her a commendation, despite her disorderly conduct, but she wasn’t going to risk it again. Opening a Time Detective’s sealed records was far beyond even that lucky covert investigation that she had been a party to at Ehren’s behest.

     She wasn’t going to mess with the Detective Squad without help or clearance no matter how long and hard Ehren whined in her ear. There was one person she knew without a doubt she would be able to trust.’ She knocked on Lieutenant Commander Beatriu David’s office door and waited patently until Beatriu invited her in.

     “What can I do for you, Starman?” Beatriu said to her as she gestured at the seat across from where she sat at her desk.

     Rasa sat ramrod straight in the chair, determined to be professional if it killed her. It was difficult to be professional where Commander Robin Grey and Lieutenant Ehrenfried Behrendt were concerned, since they were her friends as much as they were her superiors. Then again, she wondered if that wasn’t a big part of the problem. That they were friends was the reason Ehren was calling her up from millions of light years away to ask her for a favor: a highly illegal favor. It wasn’t going to happen. Her hacking days were over.

     “Have you spoken to the Commander?” she asked Beatriu.

     “Not lately,” she said. “I assume he’s off living the high life on Earth.”

     Rasa couldn’t hold her laugh back that doing anything on the Earth could remotely be considered the ‘high life’.

     “I’m sorry,” she said, once she’d finished laughing, much to Beatriu’s amusement. “It’s just...Earth. It’s a funny place. I’m pretty sure the Commander didn’t go there for a good time though.”

     “Oh, I’m sure he didn’t.” Beatriu nodded in agreement. “I think he’s on a mission to meet the parents. The last time I talked to him, he was attempting to make a good impression by learning to speak Earthian and not altogether failing. I suppose Ehren might have been a decent teacher in another life if he managed to get Robin to learn anything through that thick skull of his.”

     “While that maybe be true,” Rasa said, “I think he had ulterior motives. Ehren just called me and he wanted me to hack into the Detective’s database and unseal his father’s case file. He actually already tried to do it himself, but Ehren calls him a Luddite. Not that it wouldn’t take a super genius to hack that network, because it would...but”

     “Rasa!” Beatriu held up a hand to stop the torrent of words that Rasa had unleashed upon her. Like ripping off a bandage the words had come out in a rush, so Rasa could get her confession over and done with.

     Before being assigned to their I-GAS special forces unit, Beatriu had been an officer in the Internal Disciplinary Squadron, and she had been sent there for the express purpose of keeping an eye on Robin, a man who had a history of breaking the rules on a regular basis. Rasa had figured that she wasn’t going to like the news, and all of her suspicions were confirmed with the rising red flush of anger that had risen to her cheeks. Beatriu was Utopian, and Rasa, being from the Zahran Galaxy as well, knew a think or two about their race. With an extremely low body temperatures and skin that reflected the harsh rays of their four suns, it was a pretty great feat to get one as hot as Beatriu looked in that moment.

     “Ehren did what?” Beatriu said through clenched teeth after a moment of angry contemplation.

     “Don’t blame him, you know...” Rasa hung her head in order to avoid Beatriu’s glare. She couldn’t help but defend Ehren. When they had been pre-recruits together, he had always been smaller than the rest of their peers and the butt of every joke since he was the only Earthian in their class. He had gotten the last laugh, however. He was an officer, a lieutenant no less, while most of them were still in the Recruit stage. He didn’t really need defending, but Rasa couldn’t curb the instinct in her, nor could she curb the instinct to help. That was why she was sitting there in that moment, bearing the brunt of Beatriu’s ire.

     “I know,” she said with a sigh. “It’s all that Robin’s fault. He can’t leave well enough alone. Who goes on a quest for their donor parent? It’s just not... It’s pointless.”

     Rasa nodded silently. She was in no position to comment on Utopian parentage. It didn’t work the same way on Dysprosia, but she couldn’t pass judgment when they had their own way of doing things.

     “So what now?” Rasa asked. “Should we go talk to the Detective Agency? Maybe they’ll let us...”

     “No,” Beatriu interrupted her. “We needn’t bother them. It’s a useless gesture. If the record is sealed, then it’s sealed for a reason. The Agency exists to make these decisions and it’s best that we trust them. Time is a dangerous thing, Rasa. I don’t need to tell you that. I suppose I’m going to have to call the Commander and see what is going on in that brain of his. Sometimes I just don’t know what to do with the man.”

     “Yes, Sir,” Rasa replied.

     “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Starman,” she said and smiled up at Rasa when she noticed that she was nervously fidgeting in her seat. “It was the right thing to do,” Beatriu assured her.

     “I hope so,” Rasa replied. “I don’t want to get them in trouble.”

     “Honestly, they get themselves into their own trouble,” Beatriu said. “They’re trouble magnets, those two.”

     “No wonder they ended up stuck together,” Rasa muttered to herself. She didn’t even try to suppress her giggle either and only stopped when Beatriu cleared her throat.

     “Sorry, Sir!” Rasa said.

     Things were so relaxed around HQ that she sometimes forgot what was proper and when. She was on duty and discussing her friend’s love life was definitely off limits then if it wasn’t in her down time.

     “It’s alright, Rasa,” Beatriu said.

     “I should get back to work,” Rasa said as she stood up from her seat. “I’m sorry to have bothered you again.”

     “Don’t be sorry,” Beatriu replied as she stood up herself. “Don’t go just yet. I think I have an assignment for you to work on. Meet me in the hangar in twenty.”

     “The hangar?” Rasa eyed her suspiciously. “What’s in the hangar.”

     “I think you know what is in the hangar,” Beatriu replied. “You will find out when for sure when you get there though. Don’t be late. Dismissed.”

     Rasa left the room not knowing if she should be pleased with the promise of a new assignment, or terrified at the prospect of what might lie in the hangar. She ran into Berilo on the way back to her desk. He appeared to have been hovering there, waiting for her return with his hands behind his back. She smiled upon seeing him there in his natural colour, a bright blue with turquoise green spots about his head and neck. He was an amphibious humanoid from the planet Birosphere in the galaxy neighboring Zahran. It was unusual to see one out and about in space, for they had to wear a specialized ‘wet suit’ to keep their skin as moist as possible in dry climates. Berlio was from a clan that had the somewhat rare ability to change colour. She remembered the first time she had seen him change to match the dull grey colour scheme of the inside of a ship. It was a handy skill to have, and Berlio often took to showing off for the other recruits in the cafeteria. He liked the attention, and he was the only one who gave the Pexian, Axel, a run for his money in the ‘life of the party’ category. They made quite a pair.

     Rasa shook her head as she thought about it. She was surrounded by trouble on all sides it seemed, but she wouldn’t trade her squadron in for anything. They were the best in the business after all. Or maybe they were just the luckiest. Probably the luckiest she thought as she noticed Berilo was not so subtly making his ears and cheeks turn pink in some sort of facsimile of a blush. It wasn’t quite working.

     “What are you doing?” she asked. “This is a no loitering area you know.” She waved her hand over her desk.

     “I brought you this!” He pulled a small bundle of smile white flowers from behind his back.

     “Dewflowers?” she said.

     “You said you liked them?” he replied. “Did I misunderstand?”

     “No, they’re beautiful.” She took them from him and placed them in the stylus cup she kept on her desk. She spend a lot of time on computers and as a result wasn’t as fond of poking her hands into holographic displays as most people.

     “Where did you get them?”

     “Outside. There is an entire patch out by the garbage compactors. Hadria showed me where they were,” he said.

     “You went outside?”

      “I know you don’t like the rain,” he said. “I need not remind you that I pretty much live for it. It’s not so bad out there. You know there’s a lake not far from here. Not even an intergalactic mile. Just over the hills.”

     “Yeah,” she said. “Lake grumpy.”

     “Delicious fish there.” Berlio grinned at her, showing his rows of small pointy teeth, a Biron trait that Rasa found nearly as unnerving as a Utopian’s cadaverous and cold skin.

     “Do you like fish?”

     “Not fish that you caught in Lake Grumpy,” she said.

     “Why not,” he said. “It’s a perfectly good lake. A little chilly for my tastes, but delightfully clean and refreshing. It’s nice to get out of this wetsuit every once and a while.”

     “Is that all?” She said, not in the mood to hear about Berilo’s naked exploits in the wilds of Tarain.

     “I just wanted to give you the flowers.” He smiled at her. “I hear that is a tradition on Dysprosia?”

     “I think you are thinking of the Milky Way Galaxy,” she said. “We have no such tradition on Dysprosia. You must have been talking to the Earthian again. They are very nice, though.”

     Berilo looked slightly disappointed for a moment, then shrugged, his grin returning. “Have you a shift this evening?” he asked as he looked pointedly toward his own desk, making it clear that he had a long night ahead of him.

     “I do,” Rasa said. Berilo looked excited about the prospect of having someone there with him, but Rasa shook her head. “Sorry to disappoint. Seth will be here, but the Lieutenant-Commander requested to meet me in the hangar.”

     “The hangar?” Berlio looked curiously upon her. “What is in the hangar.”

     “Well.” Rasa shifted in her place nervously. She didn’t like to remember what had gone down the last time she had been in the Milky Way Galaxy. It hadn’t been the great adventure she was looking for. It had been a quickly executed rescue that had almost resulted in the death of her best friend, and it had all taken place on the Time Ship Darkness. The ship had been stolen years before by a Utopian arms dealer by the name of Ganix Viernes. Ganix had fled capture, but the Inter-Galactic Action Squad was now in possession of his ship as well as a handful of crew members, including his wife. In any case, Rasa was in no hurry to go back to the place where a hired assassin had almost gotten the better of her squad, but she had a dreaded feeling that she wasn’t going to have a choice in the matter.

     “I think Beatriu has an assignment for me on the Time Ship Darkness,” She practically whispered at Berilo. He looked surprised at the news and distressed.

     “The damned thing should just stay time locked for the rest of eternity,” he said. “There is no need to go back there. It has been scrubbed of life forms. There is no need for it.”

     “We’ll see,” Rasa replied, her voice resigned. “Maybe it will help us find Ganix.”

     “Hopefully he fell into a black hole,” Berilo replied. “After what he did? I might never even see my sister again because of him. Who knows what he’s done. She might be dead already for letting us onto the ship in the first place.”

     “I’m sure she’s fine,” Rasa said. She reached out a hand to comfort him, but he only looked at her with skepticism clear on his features.

     “Thank you,” he said. “But Ganix is a man who kidnapped a man right out from I-GAS noses. Pardon me if I don’t have faith in them to protect my sister. She’s resourceful, sure, but so is the Viernes clan.”

     “Yeah,” Rasa said. She gave him one last reassuring pat on the arm and then took a step back. “Well…” She awkwardly jerked her thumb in the opposite direction. “I ought to go if I want to make it to the hangar in time. I don’t want to keep Beatriu waiting.”

     “Definitely,” Berilo agreed. “She’s not as easy on us as the Lieutenant Behrendt.”

     “Ain’t that the truth!” Rasa laughed and gave Berilo a tentative wave goodbye. He returned her wave along with another one of his toothy grins.

No, she thought, she was never going to get used to those teeth.

****

Later, after Rasa and Ehren said their goodbyes and Ehren departed the lonely room to find Robin. He was lying shirtless on a lounge chair in the back yard, taking in the sun.

     “How’s it going?” Ehren said as he sat down in an adjacent chair and removed his own shirt. He assumed a similar reclined position and crossed his arms behind his head.

     “Fine,” Robin said. “Just enjoying the heat. You?”

     Ehren glanced over at him. “Just enjoying the view,” he said.

     “Flattery will get you everywhere, Lieutenant.” Robin chuckled to himself. “But you’re still not going to get out of telling me what Rasa had to say.”

     “Well…” Ehren paused cautiously before continuing. “You will probably be getting a call from the Lieutenant-Commander in the very near future,” Ehren said. “Rasa refuses to help without going through the proper channels first. Something about illegal activities and sneaking around…”

      “But she got a commendation the last time!” Robin grumbled. He was not looking forward to having that chat with Beatriu. In an effort to take his mind off the impending conversation, he asked Ehren what he did on Earth for fun. Ehren glanced at him curiously and shrugged.

     “We eat,” he replied. “We eat and go to movies and study.”

     “Exciting,” Robin replied. “This is really what you want to get back to?”

     Ehren didn’t reply. He put on a pout and faced forward. He was thinking about the possibilities a sedentary life on Earth would have meant for him. With no moral objections to any of the Earthbound careers Ehren had been thinking about, he’d probably still be with Jan. He was wondering what that kind of life would have been like. Would they have children by then, and a pet?

     “I don’t know, Robin,” he said. “Isn’t there something in between?”

     “I didn’t think you were a pencil pusher,” Robin commented. “I remember you saying something to that affect at one point. There was also something in that speech about me being an asshole, if I remember correctly.”

“Nevermind,” Ehren said. “I still have two years to serve before I have to even make that decision. I’m happy where I am right now, you don’t have to start preemptively trying to convince me to stay in Action Squad. You were right, I was just feeling sorry for myself. There’s no room for second guessing in this job and the sooner I learn that the better.”

     “Good,” Robin said. They spent the remainder of the afternoon napping out in the sun until they were interrupted by the sound of Robin’s bleating ICD.

     “That would be Beatriu,” he muttered in a sleepy haze. He glanced over at Ehren who was in the midst of a deep sleep, looking peaceful with his eyes closed and his mouth slightly ajar letting out occasional breathy snores that made Robin smile.

     “Grey,” he barked into the receiver as he answered it.

     “Yes, hello,” she replied. “This is Beatriu. I just had very interesting conversation with Starman Rasa.”

     “Is that so?” Robin yawned an attempted to play dumb, an effort he knew was wasted on his best friend and partner in running his squadron.

     “You know damn well, Grey,” she snipped. “I know you put Lieutenant Behrendt up to it too. What are you thinking? Don’t you think maybe he deserves a little rest after what you put him through?”

     “What I put him through?” Robin huffed indignantly and glanced over at Ehren. His eyes landed on the patch of new skin on his abdomen, and he frowned.

     “I did not force him to jump in front of a bullet,” Robin hissed quietly into the receiver so as not to wake Ehren. “I definitely was not interested in him investigating my mother’s assassination, Beatriu. His insanity is his own, and I didn’t put him up to any of it. I can only thank him for it now.”

     “Fine. Fine.” Beatriu dismissed his words impatiently. “I still don’t know what your problem is. Why do you even want to look into this? You already have a family. Just leave it alone.”

     Robin could feel the anger start to rise in his belly, but he took a deep breath to try and calm himself. It wouldn’t do anybody any good to blow up at Beatriu over a communication device millions of light years away.

     “You don’t understand,” Robin growled at her. “You’ll never understand. My father was a part of my life. I want to know what happened to him.”

     “You’re right, I don’t understand,” she said. “I don’t see why you can’t be happy with two parents like everybody else is. Are they not good enough or what?”

     “That’s not fair, Beatriu.” He scowled angrily into the receiver. “You know that’s not what this is about. Nobody could love their mothers more than I do.”

     “And that should be good enough!” She said. Robin held the receiver away from his face before he unloaded his pent up anger into it. He counted to five and placed it back on his ear only to hear Beatriu going on about how she had never had an urge to find her birth mother and that her fathers were the only parents she ever needed.

     “They were Utopian,” Robin finally snapped out an interruption. “All three of them. You’re Utopian through and through. There is an whole part of me that I don’t even know, Beatriu. It’s a part of me that I’m never going to understand if I don’t find out where I’m from. I am half Amarantian and I’ve been ignoring that for my entire life. I’m not gong to ignore it anymore. If I have a family out here I want to know about it. Maybe that’s a strange and foreign concept to you, since you’ve never gotten the shit for being different…”

     “Robin…” She murmured.

     “It’s really not okay that you’re being such an ass about this. It’s so…it’s so… It’s so fucking everything I hate about Utopian society that gets swept under the carpet. How otherworlders get treated like so much shit there.”

     “Robin…”

     “No!” He stopped her once again. His voice was increasing exponentially in volume as he continued, and he had awoken Ehren from his light slumber. The Earthian was wordlessly curled up in his chair, watching the conversation in front of him unfold.

     “Look, Beatriu,” he grumbled. “Your unsolicited opinion about surrogates and donors aside…are you going to help me or not? Because if not, then this conversation is over, and I don’t think I have to remind you that I’m friends with people who are not always on the right side of the law that would be perfectly willing to lend a hand.”

     “Why do you say that kind of shit to an IDS officer?” She muttered at him, and he could almost feel her rolling her eyes on the other side of the Universe.

     “Because you’re not going to turn me in,” he said softly. “Now what do you say?”

     “We’re going through the proper channels,” she said. He groaned at that but didn’t reply and she continued. “I’ll see what I can get out of them, but there are no guarantees. There’s a reason that they lock case files like that. There’s a reason they wouldn’t want you to know.”

     Robin snorted indigently into the ICD. “Detectives think they know better,” he said. “Fuck them. They don’t know better than anybody else. They’re just people like you and me.”

     “Don’t get your hopes up,” she said. “Goodbye.”

      She hung up on him and left him angrily glaring at the ICD.

     “Don’t throw it,” Ehren spoke up from where he had been quietly observing. Robin was startled out of his glaring then turned to Ehren. He smiled ruefully at him and laughed before running his hands through his hair.

     “Sorry,” he said.

     “It’s okay,” Ehren replied.

 
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