❯ The Daughter – The Beginning ( Chapter 1 )
Captain Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthilll stood on the bridge of his command, the Dome-ship HeartSword. The warship hung in the blackness of space. Fully capable of taking on even a Visser’s Blade ship, she was a beautiful work of art. But for once, her mission was not one of war.
« Receiving data from the Hawk, sir. » said the human helmsman, breaking Aximili out of his reverie. Axilmili commanded one of two mixed crew ships in the combined Earth/Andalite Navy. The other, the Millennium, was commanded by Admiral Jake Tigris. Not his original last name, because he’d changed it after his family was killed in the attack on Earth, as had Marco, becoming Marco Beringei, both taking the scientific classification of their battle morphs to be their last name. Only Rachel and Cassie’s families had survived that attack.
« And? » Aximili asked, turning to face the helmsman, Lt. Reilly.
« Well, the asteroid is mainly ferrous, with some copper and two unidentified elements. So far, no information on what the radiation is from. »
The HeartSword had been sent to investigate a strange radiation reported by the scouts. At the moment, Tobias and Rachel Fangor were out in their ship, the Hawk, taking a look.
Tobias Fangor had been a nothlit, trapped in the body of a red-tailed hawk. Two years after the Andalite/Earth Alliance had been formed, a procedure had been developed that could reverse the effects. It had been, and still was, an experimental procedure that was dangerous. Despite that, Tobias had decided to try it. Not only had it worked, he had also retained his ability to morph. Not long after that, He had decided to take the name his father, Aximili’s brother, had used on Earth.
He had married Rachel four years ago, and they had a three year old little girl, whom they had named Loren. Loren was asleep in their quarters, the intelligent child having somehow gotten into the Engineering section, and had pestered the crew there with questions until Tobias had found her. Not that the crew had minded. Loren had entertained them, watching with wide eyes what was done every day to keep the ship running.
Aximili smiled, as well as an andalite could, at the memory. Then he saw something out of the corner of his eye that drove all thoughts of amusement out of his head.
From the asteroid, a small ring of reddish haze was growing. He didn’t know why, but that ring was giving him a very bad feeling.
« Science Officer! What is that ring? » he asked, swiveling one of his stalk eyes towards her.
« Unknown, sir, « said the Science Officer, a delicate looking Andalite female by the name of Sarala-Kemtar-Eliss. « It’s not showing up on any of the scans except visual. Recommend that we recall the survey team, sir. »
« Recommendation noted, S.O. Tobias, » he continued, opening a thought-speak channel to the Hawk, an annomaly has been detected, coming from the asteroid.
« Yeah, we noticed it. We’re coming back, » came Tobias’ voice over the voicecom.
The Hawk started to turn…
The red haze seemed to solidify, then raced outwards, overtaking the Hawk, racing towards the Heartwood. Aximili had just enough time to yell « Shields! » when the wave of red hit them, the impact knocking everyone off their feet.
The ship shook hard, and 3 year old Loren Fangor sat straight up in her bed. Something was wrong. It wasn’t the shaking of the ship. The ship shook a lot, sometimes because of rocks from the asteroid belt, or something like that.
No, something was very, very wrong.
« Computer, where are Rachel and Tobias Fangor? » Loren, knowing from experience that if she said « Where’s Mommy and Daddy? » the computer would say « Insufficient data, » and wouldn’t tell her.
« Rachel and Tobias Fangor are not aboard the ship, » the computer replied. Loren swallowed, then pushed herself out of the bed, pulled on her jumper, then ran out into the hall. She wasn’t supposed to go to the bridge. The bridge was where Uncle Ax made important decision about what happened on the ship, where the officers all had important jobs to do, and she might get in the way. That was the one rule Mommy and Daddy were very definite about Loren was not allowed on the bridge.
And now that was were she was going. She was going there because Uncle Ax would know the answer, even thought Loren wasn’t sure what the question was. So she ran to the bridge.
On the bridge, everyone pulled themselves to their feet. On the view screen were a few pieces of debris, none larger than a human fist.
All that was left of the Hawk.
Aximili stared at the image, and, knowing deep down that it was a futile hope, said « Scan the debris. »
« There is a small percentage of organic debris in the wreck, as well as the metal, » Sarala replied in a toneless voice.
The bridge was silent as this sunk in. The impact was enormous. Rachel and Tobias were dead. There was not a single person on the ship that this did not affect.
Aximili closed all four eyes in grief. Two of his best friends, his shorm, were dead. His hearts screamed.
« Where’s Mommy and Daddy? » came a child’s plea from the bridge entrance.
Heads turned all over the bridge. Standing there, in the doorway, was a small human child, with dark blond hair and grey-blue eyes. Loren.
No one could answer her. But their silence was all the answer she needed. The child burst into tears, running past everyone to Aximili. He knelt down slightly and held the sobbing child, remembering the conversation two weeks ago between Tobias and himself…
He had eaten with them that night, and Rachel had gone to put Loren to bed.
« Ax, » Tobias began, « I want to ask you something. »
« Yes? » Aximili said, curious.
« Rachel and I were talking, and… Ax, if something happens to us, we’d like you to take care of Loren. »
« I am…honored, but…what brought this on? »
Tobias laughed. « That close shave at Hemsat. It reminded us of our mortality. »
Ax clasped his friend’s hand. « I would be honored to care for Loren. But forgive me, » he said with a smile « if I hope I will never need to. »
It had seemed so impossible, two weeks ago. But it was now a reality, and he would take care of Loren, even if the whole Electorate were to stand in his way.
« Inform Command, » he told the communications officer, a human named Ensign Peters. The ensign nodded, her face grave. Aximili exerted all of the strength in his arms to lift and carry Loren off the bridge. The red haze, it was later discovered, was a Yeerk energy weapon, creating a field of super-pseudo-gravity that pulled in all directions, tearing whatever it incased apart. Shields disrupted the pseudo-gravity, making the weapon useless in mass fighting.None of that made any difference to those whom Tobias and Rachel had left behind. But as the old cliche goes, time heals all wounds, and life continued.