posted on 12-Jun-2002 12:55:28 AM by RosDeidre
Disclaimer: The characters of Roswell are the property of Twentieth Century Fox Television and Regency Productions. All original characters and concepts are the property of the author. No profit has been made from the distribution of this work of fiction. No infringement intended towards the Radiohead song, EXIT MUSIC, either. This is just a Radiohead series, let’s face it!

Rating: PG

Category: Tag fiction to How to Disappear Completely, and the entire Gravity Always Wins series. Serena’s POV.

Summary: This short piece takes place the night before Serena leaves to pilot the ship back to Earth in 1946, with all the podsters inside it. Remember, she was in the crash of 1947, and this takes place the night before her own departure from Antar.

Email: RosDeidre⊕aol.com

Author's Note: This story has been building within me for long, long while. I am very eager to hear your reaction--it's just a one-parter short story tag fic. But I couldn't get it out of my head, so here you go. LOL!



EXIT MUSIC

ANTAR, 1946 EARTH TIME

I’ve come to say goodbye. It’s not something either of us was ever particularly good at; we always avoided it, even that very last time. But not tonight. Tonight I’m here because I can’t leave without it, without one last kiss from my heart to his.

So I enter the silent building, my boots tapping out a staccato rhythm on the polished floor, and I survey the familiar rows. Numbers, letters, designations, just a series of them from floor to ceiling, down every corridor I examine. It’s a good thing I know my way, that it’s precisely twenty-two paces down the left hallway to him.

Slowly I walk, removing my driving gloves one at a time; my transport is parked just outside, humming almost soundlessly by the entrance to this marble chamber. It took me more than two hours to get here, under the cover of darkness. Not that I’m forbidden from coming; after all, it is government sanctioned. But this place was the best they’d do for the fallen heroes of their enemy.

For a moment, my throat tightens as I think of our son Rasme, and how he was denied even this. How he was simply pitched facedown in some forgotten hole after the Battle of Narat, his body left exposed to the elements and winter storms that blew in shortly thereafter. And I remember that he didn’t die quickly, or painlessly, but bled a long time as he suffered at the Antousians’ torturous hands.

I only know these scant details because a few of Rasme’s men survived, and afterward, they told me of his fate. And it’s an image I can’t forget; it haunts my dreams and wakeful moments, indelibly imprinted in my consciousness. I wish I’d never known, that I could have at least imagined a noble end for my beautiful, stubborn son.

I squint, gazing eye level with each crypt as I walk, the halogen lighting causing the metallic walls to gleam. Twenty paces, twenty-one, and now I stop. I tuck my black leather gloves into the edge of my holster, and lift my hand tentatively upward, just tracing the marker. General. At least they admit who he was, what he was. No name, no identification, but at least his rank.

And I know this is my husband, even without a marker, because I was told by the military; another unexpected kindness given by this government that I despise. But then again, these inconsistencies no longer surprise me. I’ve come to see them for what they are—calculated maneuvers to slowly pacify my people.

Their agenda is to steal our thirst for triumph, to gradually usurp our rightful place on this planet that was once exclusively our own. Just like they murdered my king and queen, I think, and then immediately wince, as memories flood my mind that I’m not prepared to face. Flashes of blood and slaughter and…I can’t do this, not now. Not when I’ve come to tell my beloved Trasna goodbye. I shake my head, trying to clear the rush of images, and again I trace my fingertips along the burial marker.

General. No other words, not husband of Surinah, not father of Rasme. Just General, as if his existence could be summarized with such a simple title, as if it would even come close to saying all that he’d been.

Beneath his title, there’s a small electronic panel and I depress the metallic button. A memory disk slowly ejects, falling into my palm, and I flip it over for a moment. I’m not sure that I’m ready, if I can handle what I’m about to do. I gaze toward the end of the corridor, and see the small viewing arena, black leather chairs gathered in a respectful grouping in front of the holographic screen.

Almost against my will, I walk toward the viewing center, noticing the steady tapping of my boots on the polished floor. I’m in my uniform, the only one I’ve worn for some thirty years now. Black leather pants, black leather boots. The same uniform Trasna used to tear from my body when he returned from the campaigns--he was always unable to wait for cautious undressing. But Tras was never Antarian in his lovemaking anyway, never reserved, whether in season or not. He was as wild and unpredictable as the dark eyes I first glimpsed years ago, that day inside the palace walls.

I slide the disk into the receiver, dropping heavily into the armchair. And as hazy images from thirty years past flicker into view, I know why I’ve always stayed away.


****
The Antousians are fond of this crypt chamber. They can offer it up as proof of their kindness to an enemy people they’ve fully conquered, as a sign that life here is truly civil. Normal. After all, I’m allowed to visit my late husband’s grave, and now, even to watch a propaganda film about his life—the only images I’ve seen of Trasna since his death three years ago.

But as the grainy pictures begin to flash, and the narrator describes Tras’s “misguided” deeds, I press the mute button, and simply watch. I can’t bear to hear his campaigns, the ones that took so much of his heart, described as traitorous action.

Instead, I settle into the armchair, relaxing just a little, and watch my dead husband in all his youthful glory. Image after image appears, some color, some monochrome, but it’s his eyes that fascinate me the most. I’d almost forgotten that look, the cocksure expression that I fell in love with as a mere girl.

And now I’m back in time, I’m not even thirty and it’s my first day at the palace. My parents have pledged me to the king’s protectors, an incredible honor, but a terrifying one for a simple country girl who’s barely ever visited the city. The calling had skipped a generation in my family, and no one had been given in pledge since my grandfather. Not until me, and as I marched evenly behind my unit commander, wide-eyed as I surveyed the palace, suddenly a Captain and three of his men passed us in the corridor. The Captain’s bold swagger and easy smile caught my attention that day. He seemed exotic, like a larger part of something I’d been sold into at the palace. And then inexplicably, he looked at me, into me, his eyes dancing a bit with something unnamable.

And I couldn’t look away, stared much longer than I ever should have, as we passed in the hall. I kept thinking he’d turn back to his soldiers, but Trasna was never one to back down, and finally my cheeks burned hot as he brushed past me with a knowing smile.

I’d trembled for almost five minutes afterward, marveled at the way my throat had gone dry from such an innocent interchange. But it hadn’t felt innocent, it had felt daring, as daring as the captain’s audacious gaze.

I couldn’t sleep half that night, as I sat by the tiny window of my quarters, staring out at the gardens and wondered who he’d been. He’d seemed a prince to me, in his splendid uniform, and with his strangely magnetic eyes.

The same eyes that, even now, stare almost through me from the holographic display. It’s an odd moment, because he must have glanced nearly into the barrel of the lens that day, and now he’s gazing right into me. Suddenly time has dissolved perfectly between his moment and mine, and I’m blushing again. It’s my first day at the palace, and my face is burning from the crown of my bare head to my very tiptoes under his brazen stare.

Without meaning to, I’ve begun to clutch my hands at the base of my throat, begun to breathe erratically, because my husband is as glorious in these scenes as he was in my arms, in my bed…in life.

But I’m not expecting what comes next, and it’s so quick that when it does, I can only cry out in sharp pain. There’s a brief clip of our son Rasme, standing alongside his father at a public ceremony. But the image instantly blurs, obscured by the tears that have filled my eyes unbidden. I wipe at them with the back of my hand, reaching for the control panel. The scene begins again, and this time the volume has automatically kicked back on.

“The general’s bravery was matched perhaps only by his son’s. It is one of this government’s greatest regrets that these two soldiers chose to fight for the…”

And I kill the sound again. I can’t listen, can’t hear them betray my family’s memory, as they rewrite my planet’s history, twisting it for their own purposes.

Abruptly, the image of the two men dissolves, as the screen fades black and the memory chip ejects from the machine. I’m left only with the quiet, industrial hum of this burial complex all around me, and it causes me to shiver. I glance upward, my gaze falling on a small camera inserted overhead. Of course, I’d known they’d be watching, they always are, and that’s why it’s good I’ve come to this crypt before.

Because in only a few more hours I’m leaving on the most important mission of my life, though the government doesn’t know it. To them, I’m only a mourning wife and mother, a member of a dying social class that clings to meaningless traditions like the fools they think we are.

But they don’t know about our subterfuge. They don’t know that the pods are packed safely onto our ship, hidden as clandestinely as our ship is near the Vatari Port. I wipe my eyes, bowing my head away from the camera so that the watchers won’t see me smile.

The General would be so proud of his lifemate, and the soldier so proud of his mother. So, yes, I smile, even as I wipe the dampness from my cheeks, even as I know this is finally goodbye.

***

I pause again briefly at his crypt, stroking my fingers across the lettering, wishing that somehow it could be Trasna’s cheek, not impassive stone. I won’t be this close to him again, at least not physically, because I won’t be coming back, of that I have no doubt. I head to Earth as the king and queen’s protector, as protector to them all, and if there is a coming home, I doubt I’ll ever be part of it again.

For a moment, I rest my head against the cool marble of his crypt, and I’m so tired. I’m so tired of all the death, and war, and fighting, and all I want is to rest right here with Tras somehow. But there’s no time for that, not when the transport ship leaves in just a few hours, which means I must leave for the port shortly.

I lift my head and stare at the crypt one last time. The memory chip has cooled within my palm, metallic and powerful. I flip it between my fingers for a moment, and know that I should leave it, just insert it back inside the panel where it belongs, and walk away.

But I don’t want to do that.

I want to take it with me on the ship. I want to take it to Earth, so I can watch my family when my keening for them grows too much. But it’s more than that. I want to buck this system one last time; I want to purloin something from them for the hell of it, just because I can.

Just like they stole all that mattered in my life from me.

I turn the chip over in my hand, staring at the way it shimmers beneath the lights, almost like a precious coin or jewel. It means nothing to them, and no one else will ever come here to this grave once I’m gone. So in a sense, this piece belongs to me, since after all, these are my memories that the state offers up for public viewing.

Reaching to the crypt, I make a display of reinserting the crystalline memory chip, while actually keeping it hidden within my hand. Then, I carefully slip my driving gloves back on, one at a time, concealing the chip within my palm as I march toward the exit door.

I hold my head high, as the corridor blurs with my unspent tears. With every pace I mark off, I know what I leave behind me tonight, who I leave-- yet there’s nothing left for me here either. I’m cast between two worlds now, yearning for one that is gone, apprehensive about the one that awaits me.

But I leave for a free world tonight, escort my king and queen there, and for now, that is enough.

Trasna would want nothing less. After all, he bought that chance with his very life; and so I seize it.






[ edited 4 time(s), last at 12-Jun-2002 2:00:25 PM ]
posted on 12-Jun-2002 2:01:45 PM by RosDeidre
I'm so glad you guys responded to this story! Serena has always been near to my heart in these stories, and actually a fairly complex character in my mind. I just don't get much space to write her story! Thanks for reading, guys. hugs, d