❯ Goodbye – Chapter 1
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from Armitage the Third, I’m only borrowing them for awhile. This also contains spoilers for the second series Dual Matrix and is a tie in to my larger ‘Eternal City Crystal Tokyo’ continuity.
Armitage III: Goodbye
Naomi Armitage stayed in the shadows, watching cautiously as the young woman waited by the car. Her brown hair fell into the small woman’s eyes, her black leather jacket and scuffed jeans helping conceal her in the shadows.
“Mommy, mommy,” the little redhead ran from the daycare, a blonde boy hurrying beside her, “you’re here!”
“Hi pumpkin,” she bent to squeeze her in a hug then reached for the boy as she asked, “how was school?”
“We learned a new counting game an’ played with dinosaurs,” the boy said excitedly.
“I’m glad,” the woman smiled.
‘Yoko’s all right,’ Naomi thought as she looked at her grown daughter, ‘and the grandkids, too. Good.’ And with that, Naomi slipped away into the night.
Naomi Armitage looked just like any Martian citizen as she made her way from the daycare to the commuter trains, crowding in with the other passengers, but in reality she was something quite different. She was a Third, a advanced android combining biological and artificial components, fully sentient as well as capable of biological reproduction. She, along with all her sisters had been create as part of a program to increase Mars’ population… a program that was abandoned after a alliance with Earth and terminated, quite literally. The Thirds were murdered systematically by their creators even as she and her partner Ross sought to stop the killing and learn the truth of Naomi’s origins.
The train stopped in a residential area and Naomi got off, walking to the street and flagging down a taxi. The driver looked her over in surprise, “You supposed to be out, kid?”
Naomi sighed, once again reminded of her child like looks. “I’m older than I look,” she said as she flashed him her ID.
“Sorry, officer,” he looked faintly embarrassed, “where to?”
“Olympus Cemetery,” Naomi said, sitting back in her seat. It took only a few minutes for the driver to arrive, she paid him then said, “If you wait a few minutes, you can get another fare taking me back.”
“I’ll wait,” he shrugged as he put the radio on, black hair falling into his eyes, “just don’t take too long, ma’am.”
“I’ll try,” Naomi smiled wryly as she walked up the walkway into the Cemetery.
The path through the graves was a familiar one to Naomi, she had walked it quite often in the last twenty years. She passed beneath the cherry tree, then through the decorative rock garden to reach the plot, a well taken care of seven foot long square of grass with a simple stone marker.
“Hi love,” Naomi said awkwardly, “it’s been a few months.”
‘Ross Sylibus, beloved father and husband’ the stone read, the dates of his birth and death inscribed below it. It was a simple enough statement, but it barely summarized the man Naomi had loved for so long. They had been partnered in the Mars P.D., meeting almost as soon as he arrived on the planet. A gruff, intense fellow with broad shoulders and an imposing manner they were polar opposites, but something quickly clicked between them. They fought side by side in the Third murder investigation, battled the military and in the end left for what they thought could be a happily ever after.
Naomi had loved Ross, and ultimately lost him due to old age.
“Damn you father,” Naomi muttered under her breath, “if you were going to make me human why couldn’t you design me to age, too?”
Naomi sat down on the grass with a sigh, not caring if the grass stained her clothes. It had taken her and Ross nearly a decade to first notice, a decade of building new identities, sex and birthing a lovely daughter. But eventually they realized that as Ross was slowly changing with time Naomi wasn’t, and that the age difference was eventually going to become noticeable. Cosmetics helped a bit, but in the end they had to move, changing jobs and cities so that people wouldn’t catch on.
It was hard on both of them, but even more difficult for Yoko who had to leave schools and close friends again and again. Realizing the distress they were causing their teenaged daughter Naomi and Ross ‘fessed up, and ultimately made a hard decision. Officially separating allowed the unaging Naomi to put some distance between them, allowing Ross and Yoko to stay in one place and live normal lives, more or less. Naomi visited often, of course, eventually claiming to be the mythical younger sister of herself, or at times a cousin using wigs or other disguises to maintain the deception.
“I still wonder if we made the right call,” Naomi sighed.
Finally, when Yoko hit her thirties Ross began to decline, and posing as a nurse Naomi moved back in. Talking care of him those past three years was a mix of pain and comfort, and she wouldn’t have missed it. They were there when Ross finally passed on, Naomi holding the sobbing Yoko close, murmuring words of comfort to her grown daughter… who already looked a bit older than her mother.
Over the past year Naomi had stayed in off and on contact with her daughter and grandchildren even as she dove more and more into the police work she had returned to. It filled her days but not the long nights, thinking of Ross, her father and all the things she still didn’t understand about herself or her world. There was a restlessness in her she couldn’t explain, and finally it had driven her to act.
“Ross,” Naomi reached out to touch the stone, “I may not be back for awhile. I need to find some purpose in my existence beyond motherhood… and for me I think the only way is to be a cop. Earth is a fucking mess right now, they could use me.” A sigh, “And it’ll let Yoko get on with her life without having her ageless momma nearby.”
Naomi rose, brushing off her pants then paused, almost as if she was waiting for an answer. The Martian wind blew her hair gently back, the unique scent of it evoking memories of the times she had spent with Ross and Yoko in the parks together.
“Goodbye,” Naomi whispered, reaching up to catch a few tears on her fingers before turning to walk away.
“About time you got back,” the cabbie said, though the look in his eyes was gentle.
‘Wonder if he can tell I was crying?’ Naomi thought wryly. “I need to go to a apartment on Heinlein street,” she said briskly, “then a trip out to the spaceport. You up to it?”
“Of course,” he saluted then they were off.
Naomi only needed to pick up her suitcase at the apartment, one bag of stuff for nearly eighty years of living here on Mars, then it was off to the spaceport. He made good time so she added a tip as she left, “Thanks.”
“My pleasure,” he nodded, “good luck.”
Naomi walked to a small gift shop and bought a card, sitting down on one of the hard chairs for waiting passengers to compose her thoughts. She debated various beginnings, all the different ways to say it, then decided to keep things as simple as possible.
“Dear Yoko,” Naomi wrote, “by the time you get this, I’ll be on Earth. I’m sorry for not telling you this in person, but I suspect you’d try to talk me out of it. My reasons for going are many, but putting it simply I don’t want to be a burden to you or to the kids. I’ll have a address for you to contact me soon, and I hope you’ll forgive me.” With that she finished, “Your loving mother, Naomi Armitage.”
With a decisive move Naomi folded the card into the envelope, bought postage and dropped it into the mail, committing herself at last. Taking out her prepaid ticket she headed up to the counter, drawing her sunglasses from a pocket and putting them on with a snap.
“Good evening,” the second generation android said to her cheerfully, “may I have your ticket please?”
“Here,” Naomi passed the ticket over.
The android scanned the ticket and looked mildly surprised. “You are aware that Earth is currently listed as a class two disaster area, and the spaceline can not be held responsible for any injury you might suffer on the planet if….” she said.
Naomi cut her off, “I’m well aware of the current situation there.” Naomi smiled slightly, “That’s why I’m going.”
“Good luck, then,” the android bowed before allowing Naomi to board.
Naomi made her way to her seat, surprised to feel a bit of both excitement and fear. The countdown was a long wait, but finally with a soft rumble they were off, leaving behind the city and a life she had lead for so long.
“Good bye, Ross,” Naomi murmured, “good bye, Mars.”
Notes: It can be assumed that Naomi returned to the Armitage name sometime after the end of the second movie, possibly registering as a ‘different’ woman using false documents. The idea of her being ageless occurred to me after seeing Dual Matrix and noticing how little she seemed to age. Earth being a disaster area is a reference to ‘Eternal City Crystal Tokyo’ my future fanfic of which this is a prelude to.