“You realize that our mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past.” – Chuck Palahniuk
Commander Deuil Furieux drained the glass of Centauri Mega Gin before laying the empty container on Arkan Ginova’s desk.
“Okay, Arkan. Let’s say I believe you. Tell me of my mother,” he said, gesturing at the barren glass.
The fleet Commander nodded once and rose to retrieve a new bottle of gin from the storage cabinet at the back of his office. Ginova would have to be careful. Acutely aware that Furieux was a man loathe to trust in others, he knew that a retelling of the history of Furieux’s past could potentially cause him to walk. For Ginova and the Raven’s Scouts, it was important that such a thing didn’t happen.
He tilted the bottle and refilled Furieux’s glass. “I’ve always liked your father, Deu,” said Arkan as the cool, clear liquid flowed into it. “Despite his flaws, Ettiene is a good man. Focused, down-to-earth and unshakable. When I first encountered him, he was a very different man than he is now. He was optimistic and impassioned, looking to change things in Zeta Tucanae. Sadly, he became the product of his own melancholy. Your opinion of him is not unknown to me but regardless of how you see him, he always wanted the best for you.”
Furieux rolled his eyes. “I know who and what my father is. I don’t need to be re-informed.”
“You don’t know, Deu. You know very little about the past, but that is no fault of your own.”
“Then cut to the chase,” Furieux replied sharply. “Unless you have something important to tell me about my mother, I’ll be on my way. “
Ginova sat down, faced the Commander and cleared his throat. “Before you were born, your father married a woman named Calista Verlaine in 3268, a red haired waif of some pedigree. The Verlaines were a prominent clan on Darwyn. They were wealthy, highly respected and wielded considerable influence.”
Furieux frowned and puffed on his vapour stick but said nothing. Ginova accepted the commander’s silence as a cue to continue.
“The marriage was, strictly speaking, arranged. Your grandfather, the CEO of Furieux Extraction saw the union as a way to further the standing of the company. The Verlaines had money and power and constantly looking for new investment opportunities. The up and coming extraction firm caught their attention. While your father and Verlaine held no romantic inclinations towards each other, they both accepted what was essentially a contract. During the first couple of years, Furieux Extraction flourished. The company begun to increase its potential to dramatically reshape the precious metal market in Zeta Tucanae through cooperation among market participants, both at home and abroad. It was during this time that the corp targeted the system of Cai with both Silver Advanced and the Ravens’ Scouts being candidate parties for ore supply. It was during this period, that I met your father.”
Furieux recalled the number of times he had seen Ginova around the halls of Furieux House when he was a child. It was more than twenty years ago, but the memories were solid. “I remember the meetings on Elswick Station and Darwyn. You were around the house quite a bit back then. But I’m not aware of any major trade lanes between Cai and Zeta Tucanae. The business relationship didn’t go as planned?”
“Correct,” answered Ginova. “As director of finance for Furieux Extraction, your father was tasked with negotiating terms with external parties. It was on one of these inter-system trade missions that he met your mother, our own Evelynne Blackfeather. After that, things escalated.”
Furieux shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Ginova was delivering this wild story with a straight face. Was there any truth in it? What did Ginova have to gain by proposing this alternate history of his family? What possible motivation did he have by completely destroying everything that Furieux believed about his past? “Escalated? How?”
The fleet Commander rested his chin on a tower that he made from his hands. “All in good time, Deu. Calista was an atypical member of rich Federal families. Something of a socialite, she was also a sickly thing, prone to bouts of depression, anxiety and a was a victim of various illnesses and addictions. She took advantage of her privileged status to over indulge in fashionable drugs, alcohol and extra-marital affairs. When she fell pregnant with Anais in 3269, your father was all too aware that the child was not his. As is the case with many powerful families who must be seen to be upstanding and morally superior, this fact was kept hushed. Brushed under the carpet, so to speak and away from the prying eyes of the media.”
Furieux began to piece this information together. He wasn’t sure if it was Arkan’s words or the gin that was making his head spin. If what he was being told was true, not only was the woman pictured with his father in the holo-pic not his mother, but that his sister Anais was in fact no relation to he or Ettiene whatsoever.
“I’m not buying this Ginova. It’s crazy talk. My sister is more like a Furieux than me. And where is this Calista now?” he quizzed.
“What you were offered was a half truth. Calista passed away giving birth to your sister. The years of abuse that she inflicted on her already weakened body meant that she never left the birthing room after Anais was born. As far as your father was concerned it was not unexpected and for him it was more like losing a colleague than a lover. Paternity evaluation was conducted immediately, though your father already knew what the outcome would be. He did, however, swear to raise Anais as his own daughter. Your sister is aware of this.”
Furieux shook his head in disbelief. “No. You’re lying Ginova. Ana would never keep something like that from me. I don’t believe a word of this.”
Ginova didn’t answer. Instead he reached into a desk drawer and removed a small data chip. An archaic form of storage rendered obsolete over twenty years ago. He held it out in the palm of his hand. “You don’t have to take my word for it. The information contained on this chip confirms what I have just told you. The hardware used to read it can be found in one of the rear cargo bays of the Nineveh’s Kiss. I understand that all this may have come as a shock, but you should know the real truth. Be honest with yourself, Deu, you have always felt disconnected from your family. You have always played the dreamer, the loner. It is who you are. I truly hope that this datachip may help you to find peace within yourself.”
Furieux reached out to take the chip but Arkan closed his fist over it. Squinting, he said, “Ah, I understand, first I have to work for you before I get any answers, right?”
“Not quite the way I’d have put it,” replied Ginova. “You really do think everyone has an ulterior motive, don’t you? That is a dangerous mindset, Commander. Rare though they are, some humans are selfless. While closing yourself off may protect you from a sense of perceived harm, it can also lock you away in your own personal cell if you are not careful. Just take a look at your father.”
“Seriously Arkan, I’d really rather you didn’t compare me to my father,” Furieux shot back. “I am nothing like him, nor will I ever be.”
Nodding, Ginova once again offered the data chip. “Perhaps you will feel differently after you discover the contents of the chip. Or maybe not. As for Anais, I do not know why she has kept this secret from you all these years, especially considering how close you both are. Do not be too hard on her. I am sure she has her reasons. Whatever you decide, remember that there that will always be a place for you here in Cai and the Raven’s Scouts. Your mother was one of a kind and accomplished much for us in her time and I see some of that talent in you. We believe that we are approaching war with the Federal Coalition of Paipai, and we need all the personnel we can muster.”
“I already told you Arkan, I am not interested in pursuing a career in politics and war games anymore, but I thank you for your vote of confidence. “
Furieux accepted the item and studied it for a moment. It was an innocuous looking piece of silicon no bigger than a thumbnail. What it contained, Furieux had no idea. He stored it away carefully in a leg pocket of his flight suit. “What relationship did you have with my mother, Arkan?”
“We were Raven comrades and wingmates. Eve saved my life a few times in the heat of battle and I respectively returned the favour on occasion. She was a friend and an inspiration to me and many others in the party. She was the personification of what being a Raven is all about.”
“My sister…if she even is my sister… said that you and my father are not on the best of terms. What happened?”
“It would be best if you discovered that on your own. Take the time to extract the data from that chip. If you still have questions, we can talk again. You will most likely find me out on Griggs Camp in the Paipai system. I’ll be spending some time in talks with Admiral Drayton of the Coalition. Our attempts to avert an all out war are proving unsuccessful and it would seem I have been invited to a Federal summit in order to come to some sort of peaceful resolution.”
Furieux swallowed the last remnants of gin from his glass and stood up to leave. “I’ll be in touch. I kinda like it here in Cai.”
“Glad to hear it. Take good care of the Nineveh and fly safe commander. Lux ex tenebris.”
“Raven motto. Light from darkness.”
Furieux considered this briefly before moving to the door. “Is she dead, Arkan?” he asked pausing at the exit.
“My mother. Is she dead?”
Ginova looked at him solemnly. “I don’t know, Deu. I really don’t know.”