Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Fugitive Pair - Chapter 44

My third novel, Scout's Duty, is out in ebook form! In celebration, the first two books in the Scout series--Scout's Honor and Scout's Oath--are on sale for 99 cents each. Also, Kindle Unlimited subscribers can now read all three books as part of their subscription.
< Chapter 43                                                                        The Recognition Run - Chapter 1 >
With our heroes safely set up on Ark’s Landing, it’s time to wrap things up and bring The Fugitive Pair to an end.

I wish I could say the council hearing was the end of the matter, but it wasn’t. Within days, a new Terran Federation ambassador arrived at Ark’s Landing. She carried recall orders for Bransen, who very carefully met with the new ambassador outside of the embassy. As the embassy was officially Terran Federation soil, he would have been subject to Federation law inside the embassy’s walls. No one was surprised when Bransen submitted an official petition for asylum to the Colony Council.

Diane Reynolds, the new ambassador, protested both Bransen’s asylum and ours. Accusing Ark’s Landing of harboring fugitives from Federation justice, she threatened an impressive array of economic sanctions against the colony. These ranged from import tariffs to calling in all loans issued to the government and colonists of Ark’s Landing.

By the time the situation deteriorated that far, Dad and a whole raft of GenCo lawyers were on hand. They took point in combatting the threats, working in conjunction with the council. Hard as they fought against Reynolds, the lawyers could only manage delaying actions against her authority. Fortunately, we had a much greater ally on our side.

While Dad and the legal team were on the defensive, Magda—Michelle’s mother—Mom, and Nancy went on the attack from a different direction entirely. As newsies flocked to the colony chasing the biggest story since the Ark 2 was found, these three formidable women launched a massive campaign to sway public opinion in our favor.

Michelle and I were dragged in front of vid recorders, recounting tales of rescuing my parents and our desperate struggle to stay together. Then they brought Zav and the kids before the recorders. Cassie was as personable and enchanting in vids as she was in person, but the real tipping point came several days after that broadcast. That’s when the newsies’ vid recorders captured Gene and his parents—carried to Ark’s Landing in the fastest GenCo ship available—holding a tearful reunion at the landing field.

Mom followed the reunion by bringing all of the other psychics before the newsies, introducing them one by one, then announcing GenCo would happily bring family members of any of the others to Ark’s Landing. The newsies recorded seventeen more reunions, including ones for Kristin and Mark.

Seeing Cassie’s popularity among Federation citizens, some enterprising newsie tracked down her parents and asked why they weren’t already on their way to Ark’s Landing. Cassie’s father told the newsie, “We turned the little freak over to Psi Corps years ago. She’s not our problem anymore.” Then the man shut the door in the newsie’s face.

The second Michelle and I saw that recording, we took Cassie aside and told her about it as gently as possible. Mom and Magda showed up just as we ended our buildup and told the young girl how her father reacted. Cassie listened quietly as we wrapped up. Michelle enfolded her in a hug and I sat ready to join in as soon as Cassie’s tears began flowing. Only, there were no tears.

Looks of concern appeared on Mom’s and Magda’s faces. Mom knelt in front of Cassie and asked, “Are you okay, honey?”

“Sure,” Cassie replied. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Her concern deepening, Mom said, “Doesn’t it bother you that your family rejected you?”

Cassie finally showed a reaction, scowling as she spat, “They aren’t my family. I was born to them, that’s all.”

“Um, that’s sort of the definition of family, sweetie,” Mom said, taking Cassie’s hands.

“No, it’s not,” Cassie insisted. “Matt and Michelle aren’t related, but they’re still a family. They love each other and made themselves a family. I love them and that means they can be my family, too. Just like they said back on Piscain Station.”

Magda cocked an eyebrow at Michelle. “What was it you said to her, Michelle?”

“We told her we’d adopt her,” Michelle replied, obviously gearing up for an argument.

Magda smiled and said, “What a lovely idea!”

Mom smiled and added, “I agree with Magda, but I’d like to ask Cassie one question.”

“Okay,” Cassie agreed, a broad grin on her face. In a stage whisper, she added, “I already know what you’re going to ask, but I want to hear you say it anyway.”

“That is going to take some getting used to,” Mom said, her smile removing any possible sting from her words. “Well, Cassie, you know that Matt’s father and I were prisoners of the pirates from the time Matt was thirteen until he was twenty. That means I missed watching and helping him grow from a boy into a man. But if you’re willing, I would dearly love to watch and help you grow from a girl into a woman.” Tears started rolling from Mom’s eyes, but she never released Cassie’s hands. “How would you like having Matt as a brother instead of a father?”

“Oh, then Michelle would be like my sister! I’d like that a lot.” Cassie paused for just a moment as if considering exactly what to say next, then she said, “Mom.”

The next few minutes involved a lot of hugs and tears and smiles. When everyone settled down, I tapped Cassie’s shoulder and said, “Just because you’re my sister now, don’t think you can get out of babysitting for the girls when the time comes!”

Mom and Magda exchanged startled glances before turning very intense looks on Michelle. Then Magda asked, “Is there something you should have told us, Michelle?”

“I’m not pregnant if that’s what you mean, Mom,” Michelle replied. “At least, not yet. But Cassie has already seen two daughters in our future. I can only guess when from the way we looked in Cassie’s drawing, but probably in the next two or three years.”

That set off a new round of hugs and tears and protestations from each of our mothers that they were too young to be a grandmother.

Adoption on Ark’s Landing proved a pretty simple procedure, especially given the vid of Cassie’s father. The news of the adoption was wildly popular in the Federation and marked the end of the Federation’s attempts to strong-arm the colony into returning us all for trial. Popular opinion was heavily on our side, especially since all of the psychics were on a planet outside of the Federation. Our story was popular, but it wasn’t enough to bring about an end to the psychic impressment laws. But at least we had a firm foundation on which to build that support.

Safe from the Federation at last, I felt a knot of tension I never even knew I had melt away. I shared the feeling with Michelle and discovered she felt the same thing. I pulled my wife close and let our emotions flow between us.

“Too bad we don’t need to get intimate for you to share your emotions with me anymore,” Michelle said.

“When have we ever let that stop us?” I asked and began unbuttoning Michelle’s shirt.

The End

Check back on Friday for the first chapter of The Recognition Run, the first novel in a new series.