Futurity

BY : Lursa_and_BeTor
Category: 1 through F > Andromeda
Dragon prints: 8882
Disclaimer: I do not own Andromeda, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Title: Futurity: Part One
Author: Lursa & Be’Tor
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Tyr/Harper
Email: lil_missdangerous@yahoo.com; green_tea37@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: Tribune owns Andromeda and all characters (except original ones). We don’t own anything. We write for fun. We are not making a single dime from this. We just like to play with Tyr and Harper.
A/N: This is part one of a multi-part fic.
Summary: Harper is kidnapped and taken to an alternate universe where he becomes the ‘companion’ of a certain Archduke.

Elssbett stares out over the ornamental lake. There is a tiny island in the center with carefully arranged trees and flowerbeds. She scowls at it, feeling ready to implode with repressed temper. Here she is – beautiful, fertile, First Daughter to Kodiak and sister to the infamous Archduke Tyr Anasazi. She should, by right, have her pick of males offering themselves as prospective mates but instead…Her chin lifts imperiously. Clearly she is too much woman for most men to handle.

This Archduke Charlemagne that her brother had been bending her ears about had indicated interest. He might be acceptable. After all, the man has already exhibited the good judgment to recognize her value by letting it be known that he might be available to her. His appearance was certainly acceptable. She smiles, thinking of the sculpted lines of his mouth and the lean, strong body. True, Charlemagne wasn’t as impressively muscled as her brothers but a fine male all the same. His reputation for decadence was exciting, enticing. If the negotiations continued to prosper, she would be free to spend decades exploring that reputation first hand.

Elssbett rolls her eyes as her mediations are interrupted by the hesitant patter of feet coming up the path. The high petulant voice protesting. She knows that sound all too well. She glances sidelong at the guard standing next to her. “What is it now?”

“It’s the Archduke’s kludge and his handlers, My Lady.” Her attendant, Maud, bends gracefully to whisper in her ear.

Why her brother insists on dragging his little kludge with him everywhere, she couldn’t imagine. Well, she could, but didn’t want to. The amount of time, the creature spent moaning and crying out her brother’s name was a sizable clue. It is really rather embarrassing. All those wives and still her brother is not content unless the kludge is in handy grabbing distance. The wives might visit his quarters frequently and her brother might visit his wives often but it is the creature that lives permanently in her brother’s rooms.

“Well, where is it?” She is ready to go. The lake is pretty enough but she has better things to do than to sit here. Elssbett taps a final note to herself on her computer pad. “It should be almost through with its walk. The thing is more trouble than it’s worth.”

The guard shifts his weight uneasily. “There appears to be something wrong with it, My Lady.”

“There’s always something wrong with the cursed thing.” If she had, for one minute, thought that the Dragans had planned this deliberately when their delegation from earth gave the creature to her brother as a gift…Elssbett growls. As much as she would like to avenge herself on the Dragans, she did not see how they could have predicted her brother’s reaction to the little kludge.

Tyr had never shown any interest in kludges before. Then the Dragans gave him the creature and he won’t go anywhere without dragging it along. He sleeps with the thing every night and when he isn’t sleeping with it, he’s petting it or fucking it. It is mortifying. Not that anyone would dare make any comments about the creature to Tyr but she knows what they are thinking behind those carefully blank expressions.

Then yesterday, Tyr foisted the creature on her along with an absurdly long list of instructions for its care and feeding. Elssbett calls up the list on her pad and scrolls through daily routine orders. As soon as the kludge finishes its second walk of the day, it gets a rest period until dinner. The kludge’s healer had insisted that the creature must be walked briskly twice a day so it is going to be walked however much it presses its hand to its chest and whines about not feeling well. It is just lazy and pampered. A little exercise would do it good. An increase in the creature’s stamina would please Tyr and pleasing her brother benefits her at the moment. Nothing must interfere with her mating negotiations.

“The healer just looked at it. There can’t be anything wrong with it.” Elssbett frowns without turning as the patter turns into a shuffle, a stumble and a thump. A faint gasp of “Tyrrrrrr!” reaches her ears. Her full mouth flattens. She will never hear the end of it if the creature is damaged. Especially if the kludge is too damaged for her brother’s favorite activities with it. Tyr is due back this evening and would be expecting the kludge to be ready and waiting since he had been deprived of its attentions for the last two days. His staff will be displeased with her also since they will bear the brunt of her brother’s temper. The staff officers also know that giving the creature little treats and kindly attentions is one way to soften any mild displeasure her brother might be feeling toward them.

She adjusts a fold of her gold silk robe and waits. She looks sidelong at her attendant who stands with a look of horror on her face. How bad is it? And does she want to know? She really has wasted sufficient time on the kludge already. Elssbett stares down at her pad, pretending to ignore the noises behind her. Out of the corner of her eyes, she can see the look of appalled fascination on the faces of her guard and attendant.

“Oh no!” Maud gasps. Her hand goes to her mouth as she stares behind Elssbett.

“Oh no?” Elssbett looks at Maud sharply. This is beginning to sound like much more than a few scrapes and bruises.

There is a dismayed silence radiating from behind her. Elssbett tilts her head, listening. Scuffling noises. Soft swearing. Hissing accusations that are growing louder.

“You tell her.” Hector demands.

“Not me. I’m not taking the blame for this. You tell her.” Janus’s tone is firm.

Hector hisses with annoyance. “I’m not the one who had the leash.”

“Well, I’m not the one who decided it would be amusing to have the kludge jog the last few yards.” Janus snaps.

More silence. This does not sound promising. Elssbett tucks her pad away and sighs loudly. “What!”

“It’s…dead, My Lady. The Archduke’s kludge is dead.” Maud is standing still, staring with fascinated dread.

Elssbett turns to see Hector kneeling by the kludge, his fingers resting on the creature’s thin throat. She can see that both guards know what this means. Hector’s dark eyes are big with dismay. Janus’ face is ashen.

“Dead?” Elssbett rises from the bench and walks over to stand near the guards. “How could it be dead? We followed every single instruction that my brother left to the letter whether the kludge whined about it or not!”

Hector drops his hand. He looks up hopefully at her. “It did have a bad heart. The healer said so.”

“I know that it had a bad heart!” Elssbett snaps. “That’s why you had to take the creature for walks. My brother knows that it had a bad heart but if you think that will make any difference in his reaction to this news, you are too stupid to reproduce.”

Janus is still staring at the kludge in a dazed way. “It kept saying that it felt ill. Perhaps we should have listened.”

Elssbett waves an impatient hand. “It was always saying that it felt ill. Particularly when it didn’t want to do something. Still, there is no need to trouble my brother with that little detail.”

“What are we going to do?” Hector asks. “The Archduke will be…upset.”

Elssbett snorts. Upset? That’s one way of putting it. Tyr would have the whole place in an uproar. Her brother’s evil temper and bad moods will spill over them all. The whole court would suffer over this kludge’s death. As much as she despised the creature it could always be counted on to distract Tyr from bad moods and sweeten his temper.

She turns her cold stare on the two guards. “I will not have anything interfere in my mating negotiations. My brother will never believe that the creature died on its own. You both know how unreasonable he is about the creature. Everyone knows about his excessive fondness for it. Hector, pick it up. If anyone inquires, say that it’s ill. We’re taking it back to the Andromeda, to the med deck.”

Janus gives her a doubtful look. “But –“

Elssbett glares at him. “The kludge is ill until I say otherwise. Now contact Rhade. Tell him to clear the med deck of everyone but his top two scientists. Have Rhade and his two men meet us there. Be sure he knows that the life of anyone who talks is forfeit. Go!”

&&&&


Elssbett paces the floor, her gold silk robes swishing softly around her. Her decorative arm guards clink as she folds her arms over her chest. “Well?”

Rhade, Gaius and Odin look up from their huddle and turn to study her. Rhade walks toward her. His black eyes reflect his disapproval of her. “We can not hope to conceal this. It would be best to just tell the Archduke.”

“Are you volunteering to deliver the bad news?” Elssbett smirks as she watches Rhade pale. “I thought not. What about the Stable? Are there no kludges there that could pass for this one? I should think one of those would be happy enough to attempt it.”

“No. I reviewed the records of the current resident kludge pleasure providers from the Stable as well as those who have companion status but none come close enough to completely match Harper’s appearance.” Rhade frowns. “Finding a replacement that somewhat matches this one’s appearance is possible but…”

“But what?” Elssbett taps her foot. Why must the man be so obstructive? Her plan will benefit him as well. In fact, everyone on the Andromeda should be grateful to her quick thinking.

Rhade sighs. He runs a hand through his glossy black curls. “As you may be aware, I have a kludge of my own. One can become attached to them. They make…well, never mind that. The Archduke will notice what may seem minor differences to you. He will also be aware of personality differences as well as physical differences. You can not hope to conceal this successfully from him.”

Elssbett’s dark eyes narrow warningly. Her full mouth pouts under a thick layer of gold lipgloss. “I don’t have to conceal it forever, Rhade. Just until my mating agreements are signed. I suggest you consider a few things yourself. You know how Tyr is about that creature and, yes, it’s dead and yes, the replacement might have some little differences but there is a chance that Tyr will become equally…attached, as you put it, to the new one. As much as I despise kludges, that one did keep my brother entertained and relatively sweet tempered. Perhaps the new one will do the same. If you still entertain doubts on the subject, just think of the coming decades of serving as Tyr’s flagship captain, of decades of my brother being in a really bad mood. What fun lies in store for you, Rhade. Assuming, of course, that some of your senior officers don’t start wondering if your assassination might not put Tyr in a better frame of mind.”
Rhade turns a dark scowl on the two scientists. His shoulders stiffen with anger under the red leather jacket of his uniform. “Present your suggestions to the lady.”

Gaius steps forward. He wears the white and gold of healers. His long hair is as snowy white as his spotless leathers. “We could clone the kludge. It’s true that clones often have health problems but the original kludge already had health problems so that should raise no suspicion.”

Odin sneers. His red brown hair falls loose, just brushing his wide shoulders. The dark navy leathers of engineering wrap around his stocky frame. “And what if the clone should have different health problems? Do you think that the Archduke does not know every detail of his toy’s health issues? I also think that you are failing to consider certain other problems involved, Gaius. No, a clone will not be adequate.”

“What other problems?” Elssbett asks.

“For one thing, there is the time issue. It will take more time than we have to produce a clone and grow it to the correct size. Then there is the matter of educating the clone.” Odin shakes his head. His green eyes glance disdainfully at Gaius. “A clone will not do.”

Elssbett smiles encouragingly at him. She has no objection to these little academic feuds between department heads. The rivalry often inspires creativity and a willingness to take risks. Both are what she needs right now. A clone might do as a stopgap measure but she would prefer something better. “I suppose that you have another suggestion?”

Odin straightens his shoulders and preens smugly under her steady stare. “Yes. I have a superior solution to the problem. There was that time, Captain Rhade will remember, when the Perseids were demonstrating a new device to the Archduke and he destroyed it because we began experiencing anomalies in space and time.”

Elssbett glances at Rhade, noting the thoughtful expression and the sudden gleam of speculation in the black eyes.

Rhade nods. “I remember.”

“So? How does a failed science experiment help us?” Elssbett demands.

Rhade turns to her. “One of the anomalies was that we saw people, here on the Andromeda. Some were strangers but others were familiar. The physical appearance was almost identical but they were clearly different in personality. I saw my own Dylan but his hair was much shorter and he was wearing the uniform of one of those Commonwealth High Guard captains. I knew it wasn’t my own Dylan; he was safe in my quarters.”

Odin steps forward. “I saw a man who appeared completely identical to the Archduke but he was wearing casual dress. I also saw the man who looked like Dylan. If we could recreate that anomaly in a strictly controlled environment, we should be able to return to the same point in space and time. We could find the duplicate of the Archduke’s kludge and bring it back with us.”

Rhade frowns. “There will still be physical differences and personality differences since the new kludge comes from a completely different environment. He will have been shaped by different experiences. He might not be willing to accept his place here.”

Elssbett stares disbelievingly at him. “What does it matter what the kludge thinks or is or isn’t willing to do. It has no choice. Are you telling me that we can’t control one little kludge? You know how disgustingly docile this one was. It was not particularly smart even though my brother did try to educate it to a certain extent so he could talk to it. Are you trying to claim that this new kludge might be troublesome? Ha!”

She paces, considering the matter and then turns back to Rhade. “Arrange it. Fetch us this other kludge and quickly. The sooner we can get it properly trained the better.”

&&&&


Rhade sighs as he stares at his image in the mirror. All insignia have been carefully removed. His plain black shirt and pants give nothing away. He leans closer. The small disc that will blind the other Andromeda’s sensors to him and allow him to communicate with his own ship is affixed behind his earlobe. His hair is too short to conceal it.

It’s almost time to meet the two soldiers that he selected to go with him on the med deck. There is no way that Elssbett will be able to keep this a secret. Too many people know too much already. Gaius no longer has a stake in the plan and will most likely betray it to Tyr at the first opportunity – merely in hopes of causing trouble for his rival, Odin, if nothing else. Rhade grins. It will be too late to do Gaius any good. He has already sent a coded message to the Archduke.

However, Elssbett did make some valid points. The Archduke will be unbearable without the pacifying influence of the kludge. There is an excellent chance that Tyr will be come swiftly attached to the new kludge. Some of these kludges are hard to resist. They have such winning charms and make good companions. Once Tyr became attached to the new one, the kludge should be perfectly able at absorb the Archduke’s excess energies, entertain him in idle moments and keep him satisfied.

The image of a tall, willowy man appears behind him. Lights gleam off the long, tousled brown hair. The pale eyes study him closely. The voice is soft and pleasing. “Are you going back out again, so soon?”

Rhade sighs with pleasure as the kludge’s hands settle on his tense shoulders and began kneading. Amazing how sensitive Dylan was to his moods when he made the effort. His wives were more likely to just ignore his moods and go on about their own pursuits. “Only for a moment. I have something to do for the Archduke. I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Are you going down to the planet?”

Uh-oh. He can see the beginnings of a pout forming. Dylan has been asking to go down and he has been promising to arrange it as soon as he can. “No, not down to the planet. I won’t be leaving the ship for this.”

Rhade turns and pulls Dylan down for a quick kiss. “It’s a secret but I’ll tell you when I get back.”

“A secret?” The pale eyes light with eagerness.

Rhade smiles. His kludge did so love to know a secret. He made it a habit to have a small fund of harmless secrets to tell Dylan. Dylan never told anyone any of them; the kludge just liked knowing things that most others did not. Besides Dylan might be helpful with the new kludge. Someone would have to train it and Dylan had the knowledge and time to do so. It will also be useful if Dylan can befriend the new kludge, considering how fond Tyr was of the old one. “I have to go now. Be good and I’ll tell you the secret when I get back.”

&&&&


Harper touches his flat stomach in disbelief. He has not been able to stop touching it off and on all day. He can hardly believe that the larvae are gone. He’s finally free of the damned things. A wide grin spread over his face.

He feels a little guilty as well for being so happy when Hohne is dead. He is sorry that the Perseid is dead; it is a great loss to science. Yet he is relieved that Trance took the decision out of his hands and glad that he is alive.

He settles his tool belt more firmly around his waist. Maybe with the rest of the crew busy, he will get a chance to catch up a little more on repairs. Dylan, Rommie and Trance went down to Sinti to offer assistance in recovering from the temporal distortions. That should keep them out of the way for a while. Tyr and Beka are sparring in the gym. That leaves one Seamus Z. Harper free to repair uninterrupted, the billion and one odd job kind of things that always keep cropping up.

Harper strides down the corridor, grinning. Finally, the universe is smiling on him.

&&&&


Tyr crumples the flexi in his hand. He sniffs. So his poor, little Harper is dead. While in his sister’s care. He had been looking forward to returning to his quarters and being welcomed back by Harper. It is just like Elssbett to think that she can substitute another kludge and that he will notice nothing. Tyr snorts.

He stares out over the valley, ignoring Charlemagne standing on the other end of the balcony, watching him. Poor little one. He can remember the first time that he saw Harper and the amazing way that the kludge’s presence had eased his temper. He never slept as well as he did when cuddled up against his Harper. There was something so soothing about Harper’s scent. So pleasant to make the small kludge his pillow.

He will miss the frail little thing sitting around his rooms. Harper tried so hard to please him. The kludge would massage him and stroke his hair for hours. Harper was always content to quietly curl up next to him while he was writing and reading reports. When he wanted more, Harper was always willing to do anything to give him pleasure. He had always known from the first that the kludge was in bad health and that it was only a matter of time despite the best of care.

Still, the idea of another Harper is both disturbing and intriguing. How different will the new Harper be from the old one? Rhade had said that the new Harper is from a different universe. Perhaps this one will be healthier and last longer. Although he will miss the old Harper, the arrival of the new one will offer a distraction and something to look forward to after dealing with Charlemagne all day. Plus there is the welcome prospect of finally getting his sister settled. She can be someone else’s problem.

&&&&

Elssbett stares down into the pale face of the new kludge. Odin stands next to her and Rhade is on the other side of the biobed. Rhade looks impatiently at Gaius who is standing at the foot of the bed studying the small screen on a hand-held monitor. “Well? Is it in good health?”

Gaius smiles. “It’s in much better health than the first one. It should last for decades with proper care.”

Rhade relaxes. The Archduke will be pleased to hear that. “Good.”

Elssbett yanks back the sheet and looks the kludge over. “It looks better. It has muscles. It must exercise. Hmmm. The hair is much shorter and lighter but otherwise, it seems a good enough match.”

“It has a dataport.” Odin stares down at the pale throat.

“What?” Rhade frowns. How had he missed that?

Odin wordlessly turns the kludge’s head exposing the dataport high on the pale throat.

“It must be smarter than the other one.” Rhade stares down at the dataport. Smarter is not necessarily good. Intelligence can make a kludge difficult to manage properly or so the trainers had said at the house where he had acquired his Dylan. “It might be troublesome.”

Elssbett snorts. “You give those kludges too much credit. How much trouble can one little kludge be?”

TBC


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