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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
Submitted by natalie jamison on 19 April 2007 - 11:50am. | | |

Eleven years later...

The large brown bag Trisa carried in her arms was overflowing with groceries. It was a good two or three miles from town – a long ways to carry the necessary burden – but she enjoyed the walk. The clean, crisp air always calmed her nerves. But while outside buzzed with the anticipation of spring, her mind was focused elsewhere, contemplating the events that would transpire the rest of the day.
She turned and walked up small cobble-stone path that ended at the door of a beautiful, yet quaint little house. Dr. Niche had found this little house for Trisa, at her request one year ago. She unlocked the arched-shaped door and entered. The lingering chill from outside disappeared as the warmth of Trisa’s little home enveloped her. She set the bag next to the kitchen sink, then turned and flipped on the small V-cine that sat on the island counter. She began unpacking the bags contents as she listened.
“The Government is currently, still on the search for the 'Mischief',” said the voice from the screen. Trisa stopped what she was doing to listen. “The dispatch has classified this man as a Class A outlaw.” A skewed picture of a man’s silhouette appeared on the screen. Trisa chuckled softly. “Nice picture,” she whispered. “Looks just like you.”
The voice continued: “Class A is considered armed and dangerous, and enemy to the union. The Government asks that if anyone has any leads on this man, please report his location or the location of where he was last seen to your local enforcement agency. The Government needs your help to catch this vigilante.”
Trisa scoffed slightly as she turned the V-cine off. “Vigilante?” she scoffed, grinning and shaking her head, and finished putting away the groceries. When this was done, she gazed out the window above the sink. Two children were outside playing in the yard next door - a boy and a girl. Trisa sighed, stepped back, and leaned against the island. She lifted her right hand and traced a finger over the scar that decorated her palm. Memories rushed through her mind of that day. Sighing again, she walked over to the adjacent living room and collapsed onto the tiny fabric couch. She was growing impatient. There were still six hours to go, and she could barely stand it. The day he had left began replaying in her mind.
During the time before and after Toan and Trisa’s father had died, a new political power in the galaxy which called itself simply The Government, was quickly gaining sovereignty. It was declared as an equipoise union, only to mask the sagacious terrorism that underlined the federation. It was a dictatorship, and so many were blind to see it. There were those that did not concur with the new system of government. They were the individuals that could see through the deceit, and took action against The Government. In turn, they were alienated as rebels, and soon became known as the outlaws. People were convinced by The Government that theses outlaws were dangerous and “malicious”, and to stay away from anyone who was suspected of being an outlaw.
At 16, Toan began to feel the confusion, as though he didn’t think he belonged on Centrion - he didn’t know where his place was, and he wanted to find it. At the same time, he did not want to leave. After all, he’d made a promise not too long ago.
“You want to leave, don’t you?” Trisa asked as she confronted him one night. She could see through his facade better than anyone, even better than their father ever had. Toan said nothing and looked down. “Trisa… I can’t,” he choked out.
“Why not?” She knew it was a dumb question, but asked it anyway.
He looked down at his palm. “Trisa…I have a promise to keep.”
Trisa reached out and grabbed his hand. “A promise you made a long time ago when I was very scared, Toan. I’m not a little girl any more, and I’m certainly not scared.”
“But I pro…”
“Toan,” Trisa interrupted, “I can see right through you, you know. It’s in your eyes and it‘s in your actions: you want to leave, and I’m not going to be the reason to stop you. In fact, I am forcing you to go. You not going to be able to stay here and be completely happy at the same time.”
“But what about you? You…”
“I’ll be fine. Dr. Niche will take care of me until I am old enough to be on my own, which is only four years away. Toan, please – I can’t stand to see you torture yourself. You just aren‘t happy here anymore. You need to get out or it will drive you crazy, which will in turn drive me crazy, and then I will be unhappy too.” She could still see the struggle in his eyes, and came up with an idea. She lifted their hands to eye level. “Let’s make a new promise.” Taon looked up, hopeful. “A new promise? How is that supposed to work?”
“Oh, come on. Humor me.”
Toan chuckled. “Ok. You know I’ll promise you anything.”
“Don’t forget about me. I expect letters and pictures every week, not every once in a while when you get around to it. Okay?” Toan smiled at the request, squeezed her hand and pulled her close for a hug. “Of course,” he whispered. “Thank you.”

The next morning, he was gone. She didn’t know when she would see him again, or if she would see him at all. This terrified her, but she would never let Toan know that. For the next five years, she received detailed letters of everything he was doing. He’d joined the alliance, acquired his own star ship, found a close friend, and had become increasingly talented at driving The Government insane.
Trisa was brought out of her trance as the small clock on the wall chimed two o’clock. She sighed, and went back into the kitchen.

* * *

Toan sat at the bar, swirling what remained of his drink around in his cup. He glanced at his watch and grunted. “Where is that moron?” He set the cup down and rubbed his face with both hands. Today was the day – and he wondered if he would be able to stand going back. Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice the man that sat down on the stool next to him.
“Toan, you in there?” The friendly, though comical voice was accompanied by a hand waving in front of Toan’s face. He blinked and shook his head, then turned. The man smiled wide and laughed. “Welcome back!”
“Kayan! Where have you been? You were supposed to be here an hour and a half ago!” Toan yelled.
Kayan held his hands out in his own defense. “Hey, settle down. The galaxy isn’t going to be in ruin because I was a few minutes late.” He turned to the bar tender and ordered a drink.
“Well?” Toan demanded.
“Well what?” asked Kayan, trying to look innocent while thanking the tender for his drink.
“What do you mean well what? You know what!”
“I got caught up, is all – helping a friend.” He grinned and finished his drink.
“Do you have any other hobbies besides conning girls into thinking you’re the most amazing thing since anything?”
“Oh, whatever,” Kayan shot back. “I’m charming and you know it. Besides, like I said, she just needed some help with some stuff she was loading onto a carrier, okay? So I helped. Honest.”
“And that took forty-five minutes?”
“It could have.”
They both laughed, until their attention was turned to a large V-cine as the familiar informatory voice began to speak: “The outlaw known as the “Mischief” is still on the loose…”
“Hey, you’re on the screen again,” Kayan whispered to Toan, and Toan smiled.
“…He is considered extremely dangerous. Please contact your local enforcement agency if you have seen this man,” continued the voice. A picture flashed up on the screen. It was an awful picture - it was too dark and barely showed the side of his face.
“Nice pic,” Kayan teased.
Toan slugged him, then looked at his watch. “Wow, I gotta go,” he said. He stood up from his chair and Kayan followed.
“Who was it you were going to visit again?” Kayan inquired.
“My sister,” Toan answered plainly.
“Oh, right. What was her name again?”
“How old is she?”
“Forget it.”
“What? I can’t ask a harmless question?”
“What does she look like,” Kayan pushed. Toan stopped and glared at him, then sighed. He reached inside his coat and pulled out a photograph, and handed it to Kayan.
“Hey, she’s pretty cute, for a kid,” said Kayan as he handed the photograph back, and continued walking along side Toan.
“This picture was taken about five years ago. I have no idea what she looks like now.”
“You haven’t seen a pic of her in five years?” asked Kayan.
“Does she know what you look like?”
“Nope. Once I got into “the business”, I felt it was best not to send pictures.”
“What about those letters you write? I’d imagine if anyone got a hold of those, they could do some damage.”
“Nah. I never send them interstellar post.”
“Oh, well that’s good…I guess. So, how you two expect to recognize each other?”
“You are a moron, you know that?"
“Has she described herself to you at all?” asked Kayan. Toan groaned annoyingly and shook his head. “What?” Kayan defended. Toan shook his head. “I suspect she’s taller now.”
“That’s it?”
“Oh come on.”
“She‘d never write much about herself. She’s not a narcissist like you.”
“Whatever. What’d you write about?”
“Oh, just about everything.”
“Even me?”
“I might have.”
They didn’t speak the rest of the way to the ship field. Kayan walked with Toan to his ship, but stopped when they reached the stairs of the massive frame that rested beside his star ship.
“Hey, when will you be back?” Kayan asked.
“In one month,” Toan replied. “I’ll meet you hear in exactly one month.”
“Got it.”
Toan began ascending the stairs toward the main door of the ship. “Be careful!” Kayan called after him. Toan chuckled and waved as Kayan turned to leave.
Up at his ship's entrance, Toan punched in the code on the dial pad next to the door.
“Welcome back, Toan,” said a mechanical voice as he entered the hull.
“Hey, Mag. How’s the ship doing?”
“Everything’s repaired and operating at 100%.” Mag answered lively. Toan laughed – it wasn’t very often you met something mechanical with such a human personality. It was rare, and Toan loved it. “Good. Let’s get ready to launch.”
“Right away.”
Toan made his way to the bridge and sat down in the pilot seat. “Primary thrusters on,” he said as he began the check list. “Request green,” replied Mag, his voice resounding through the overhead speakers. “Pre-launch systems set.”
“Fire engines. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two…” The ship’s engines roared to life as the ship began to thrust toward the sienna atmosphere. White smoke filled the air around the launch pad. Within moments, the red tint of Linoa dissolved into a black blanket dotted with stars.
“What if she’s not there?,” Toan asked himself, leaning back in his chair.
“Who?” Mag inquired.
Toan had been unaware he had said it aloud. “My sister. We are going to Centrion to visit her.”
“Oh. I didn’t know you had a sister.”
“You don’t know a lot of things about me, Mag.”
“That is true. What does your sister look like?”
Toan pulled out the picture as a small, cylindrical robot appeared next to the pilot seat. Toan handed it to the robot, who took it in his three-fingered, mechanical hand. Mag starred at it. “She’s very pretty?” he asked. Toan laughed, and answered. “Yes, she is. She looks like our mother.”
“May I ask you a question?” Mag inquired.
“When are you not asking questions, Mag? Sure, what is it?”
“If something were to happen to you, to whom would I be left?”
“Are you still stuck on that?”
“A lot of other so called ships ‘know’ who they will belong to when their pilots leave them - they are programmed to know. I just want to know who or what I will be inherited by.”
“Does it really matter right now?”
“What about her?” Mag held up the picture.
Toan laughed again. “Sure, Mag. What the heck, you will belong to her.”
“Oh, good.”
Even though he was a computer, Toan picked up on the sound of relief. “Why is that so good, pre tell?”
“Now I know that at least I will not be left to that bum Kayan you call a friend.” Toan laughed aloud again. Mag was not very fond of Kayan, ever since Kayan had accidentally almost blown Mag to smithereens. “I think you’re too hard on Kayan, Mag. He‘s not all that bad - just stupid sometimes. And how do you know the word ‘bum’? Have you been watching the V-cine while I was gone again?”
“I might have,” Mag replied, then headed to the back of the bridge. Toan chuckled, then sighed. Hopefully, he thought, I will never have to leave you with anyone, Mag.

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