Full Circle

The stale walls of the interrogation room feel as though they're closing in on me. I've been here too long. I haven't had my meds. They know I need my meds.   We arrived in the system to find it far less welcoming than I'd hoped for. They boarded the ship. They took me captive. What's going on? Where's fray?   The door opens and Admiral Miranda Thrace herself walks in with a black folder tucked under her arm. "Amberlie Hurst?" She sits across the steel table and rests her leg on one knee. "You have some serious explaining to do."   I narrow my eyes. "I don't understand."   Thrace lays out several papers before me, each pulled from the folder. I see images, printed data files, flight logs, and more. "You can start by telling me how you managed to steal an Eden ship."   "It wasn't stolen. It was given to us." I reply.   "Why?"   "God, I can't even begin to explain." I say with a groan.   She smiles her signature, predatory smile. "You may want to start. You're not leaving till you do, if at all."   "I honestly don't know. My other ship was beyond repair and the Eden avatar, Viritine, commissioned a new ship."   Thrace shakes her head. "No. Viritine was destroyed in The Battle of The Fever Breach, and there is no record of this ship even being built." She lets out a sigh. "The ambassador seemed more than a little upset. More than that, we have reports of you assaulting a vigil world, reports of piracy, and even using weapons of mass destruction." Thrace flails their arms about in frustration. "Tell me what the hell is going on here. I honestly can't even guess."   I turtle up. It's all I know how to do. "Where's my dad?"   "Busy."   "And Fray?" I ask.   "Probably getting their ass chewed out by the ambassador." Thrace tilts her head and narrows her eyes. "Do you even understand how big of a deal this is?"   My mind wanders. It's like I'm not even there. I think back to the other Amber, how happy she was and how I wish that could be me. I've come so far, and still feel like I'm right where I started.   If only they knew. If only they could understand just how much I've been through, what I've learned. I could tell them, but they wouldn't believe me. I have no proof…
 
Fraeia waits outside the steps of Autumn's government complex. Rain falls hard on the colony, the sky black with heavy clouds. Diavae stands over them with their arms crossed.   "Where is Amber?" Fray asks.   Diavae replies, "Interrogation. You should be worried about yourself. I've been waiting a long time for this conversation."   "Is it time for an interrogation of my own?"   "No." Diavae sits on the steps beside them and smiles. "You know what comes next. You have an hour at most. You have one final task to complete."   "I know." Fray says, standing up. "I've been told, but why does it have to be me?"   "You made the deal."   "I will make the deal."   Diavae shrugs, "Same thing." She points to the archives, a stone building nestled on a hill near Autumn.   Fray replies, their voice almost breaking, "Understood."     The walk is long, and when Fraeia finally reaches the archives, they ponder how to handle its guardian.   The Archivist greets Fraeia with arms open, a mechanical man with a single red lens for an eye. "Welcome-" he pauses, scans Fray for a moment then tilts his head. "I didn't know we had another Eden planetside."   Fray thinks fast. It's a shame the first thing they'd do upon meeting Amber's father is manipulate him. "I Just arrived, along with your daughter."   The Archivist's head perks up and his shoulders sag. "Amber? She's home?"   "Yes, but they have her locked in interrogation. I figured you could help."   The word spills from the speaker in a low growl shrouded in static, "Interrogation?" He walls fast toward the doors of the archive and into the pouring rain. Before leaving he calls back, "Wait here. I will handle this. Thank you."
 
"Wait," I shout, interrupting the latest round of scolding. "You didn't bother to check my person when you brought me in."   "A weapon?" Thrace asks, standing from her chair. "That's not a good-"   "No, I don't have a weapon, shut up." I reply. I reach into my pocket, an action that causes Thrace to reach for her side arm. I pull out the memory chip from the Solitude and smile. Finally, something goes right. "You make it out like some kind of loose cannon."   "What is that?" Thrace asks.   "This is proof that what I'm about to tell you is true." It makes sense now. The museum, the statue, how happy the other Amber was. It's a choice, a single action made that changes my future. Is this hope I feel?   "Proof?" Thrace asks, nestling back into her chair. "Proof of what?"   I smile from ear to ear, one of hopefully many to come. "Holy shit, do I have a story for you."
       
Fray ventures deep into the untouched chambers of the archive. They know what they're looking for, and find it in no time at all.   They stand at the threshold of an open chamber, a cryopod laid horizontally at its center. Numerous devices connect to the pod, scanners and medical equipment. A woman lays in the pod. She has bleached hair. Her veins show a faint hue of green beneath pale skin. "Invicta."   Fraeia takes a deep breath and shudders when they finally get to work. It's shocking how easy it is to access the galaxy's most wanted criminal.   They search the room and find bags of blood stored in a nearby cooler, kept just in case a solution was ever found.   Waking invicta proved to be a simple process from there. The cryo fluid drains from the body, replaced by the blood. What little color the skin could hold returns.   Invicta opens her eyes wide, gasping for air as her body starts to die once more. Fray looks down at her, studying her face.   Fray takes a medical syringe and plunged it into their arm. "I'm here to pay my debt." Black blood fills the syringe and when removed, Fray pricks Invicta's neck, injecting it into her bloodstream. "This should do it, I think."   "Who-" Invicta says through labored breathing. "Wait. I've seen you before."
   
The room is definitely closing in, though it's only because of how many people can manage to fit in it. My father, mouse, thrace, even Elder Caydie Kines all read over my shoulder as I walk them through my travels.   "You mentioned how that ship has no record of being built?" I ask. "Good. That means we can use it. Do you have any idea how far it can shoot our technology?"   "How did you manage this on your own?" Mouse asks.   "Fray helped," I reply, "well they did most of the actual work if I'm being honest. I'd be dead if it wasn't for them, many times over."   Caydie speaks then, "This is… this could save us, you understand that? This could change everything."   My father waves his hand to get my attention. "Why were you so close to a black hole, if I may ask."   I shrug with a smile. "No comment."   "Mouse, we should take the ship to drydock 7 and start-"   The door opens and a young man enters the room. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but admiral, we have a situation."   "What's wrong Adam?" Thrace asks, the smile slowly fading from her face.   The man looks at me and hesitates but finally speaks, "You should just come see."   We leave the room and storm down the halls of the complex. When we reach the front lobby, I see a circle of soldiers with their rifles raised. I hear shouting, and one of the voices sounds like Fray.   "Stand down or I'll make you." Fray says.   "I just want to see my daughter," another voice calls, a voice that stirs up memories drenched in tears. I feel them welling up, my body aware of the speaker long before I realize.   "Stand down," Thrace commands. The soldiers obey, slowly backing away from the perceived threat.   "Move." My father pushes through the soldiers, knocking two to the ground violently.   "Hello Lorne," the woman's voice says. I see her. She's awake. How is she awake?   I try to speak but the words waiver, breaking apart between the onset of sobs. In the end, only one word makes it out intact, "Mom?"   She hears me and tries to peer through the small crowd. "Amber?"   Everyone turns to me and it's as if their stares weigh me down. Her eyes meet mine and slowly sink to my knees. I can't speak, even if I tried. I haven't cried this hard in a long time.   My mother rushes forward, startling several soldiers as she dives to the floor. She wraps her arms around me, her clothes still damp from the rain. She holds me as I've longed to be held for so many years. I don't even register how grating it is to be touched.   "Baby, it's okay. I'm okay," she says, tears breaking through her infamous iron will. "Jesus you've grown." She sniffs and laughs. Her fingers dance through my hair. I forgot how that felt. It's only soothing because it's her. "It's okay."   I look up to Fray who smiles with pride, with joy. They nod at me and step back toward the door. They did this. They saved her. I don't know how I know but I do.   They leave the lobby and sit on the steps outside. They watch the rain fall, the smile still visible when they turn their head.   That's it then. My mission is complete. It's then I came to an unsettling thought, one that rises despite the beauty of the moment weighing it down:

I'm done.

Comments

Author's Notes

I hope it lives up to the hype and I do hope this season has answered some of those burning questions, though I'll admit I've buried the answers here and there. I want to thank you all for reading. Many of you have been here from the start and I just can't thank you all enough. I'll never be able to repay in full the time and love you've given me. Thank you all so much.   With that said. I have one more article left, some last minute answers and hopefully a fitting conclusion. Shall we?


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11 May, 2022 04:08

Good. Amber deserves her mother. I am glad Fray was able to do that for her. This had been an amazing season, you have outdone yourself once again which is especially impressive considering how often you keep doing it.

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities, and Vazdimet, its darker spacefaring future.
11 May, 2022 13:08

Wow, I never imagined it would come full circle like this! What an amazing trip. It is we who should be thanking you for a fantastic three seasons. Your imagination and sensitivity in writing characters is humbling. Please do send us that last article and, if it's not too soon, let us know what your future plans are, so we don't miss anything!

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