The Empty Reflection, Ch. 1
Monday, July 20, 2009

In another alternate history, Dicey Morgan leaves home, without a past, and with a brother that wants her dead. She has to figure out who she really is; someone new, or the reflection of a dead woman.


"...that leaves me with two options - she signs it over willingly, or she goes back to sleep. For good," he finished in a nasty tone. The man stood average height, with slightly better than good looks, blonde and blue eyed, his coloring more insipid than 'golden'. He should have looked sharp in the expensive suit, but the look on his face marred the end result, making him look like a spoiled little boy, dressed up for some special occasion. He turned sharply, a nasty smile curving his well shaped, if slightly thin, lips. "If she dies in her sleep... in the coma... then it all goes to me. Anything else results in confusion and lawsuits and I WILL NOT HAVE IT. That money is mine." Christian Venice turned again to look out the window of the lushly appointed office. The two men on the other side of the desk; a short, vaguely Hispanic looking weasel of a man, and a huge hulking mountain that seemed to be slightly lost; stood listening to Christian's every word. Or at least the Weasel was. He spoke up, "Seems like an easy fix, boss. The doc sent up a syringe," he gestured, and the Man Mountain lifted the case in his hand. His size dwarfed it, making it seem tiny. Weasel continued, "Give it to her anytime ya like, Boss." Christian turned back, sneering, "Why do you think I asked for it? She's back at the compound - find her, stick her, and get out. I'll handle the rest." He turned away, and the men knew they'd been dismissed. They turned and moved out of the office quickly. Outside another door, a man in a butler's uniform looked slightly sick, and closed the door he'd barely cracked a moment earlier. Enough to hear the conversation. He was an old man, he'd almost retired, rather than work for Young Mr. Venice. The young man had found it novel to have his father's old servant working for him, and found the slight panache of having an actual valet a fun novelty among his social crowd. The old man took a deep, steadying breath, and turned around, heading back the way he'd come. He still carried the tray, forgotten, and he left it on the first convenient surface he passed. A few moments later, he was turning off a video communication with Andre, the chef at the compound. The old man looked even older than he had before, by ten, even twenty years, and with another deep breath, he turned the screen back on, and began recording his resignation. ~*~

Andre turned off the screen, his breath catching in his throat. It was too evil, even for a little wretch like that Christian. His own sister? And her in the state she was? He took a deep breath, unknowingly echoing the old man that had just delivered the news. He had to act on the plans that had been bandied about his kitchen after hours, but the sweetly naive, innocent young woman they were all taking care of. Those late night talks, when her loneliness overtook her, and she wandered the compound, eager to talk to anyone willing. She had taken to spending time here, listening to him talk for hours, drinking the peppermint and chai teas he would brew for her, laughing as he shook his head at the amount of sugar she would add. "Only li'l children drink tea so swee', cher!" the tall black man would laugh, his teeth bright against his ebony skin, "Adults drink t'straight, bittuh, and they LIKE it!" She would smile, that free smile without embarrassment or reticence, her blue-grey eyes looking more blue than ever against her dark red hair, "I LIKE it sweet, Andre. It doesn't taste right otherwise. Besides.. I'm only, what? One and a half! I'm still a baby." And she lifted her mug, half hiding behind it. She was right, too. He understood her position, her state, even if he couldn't imagine being in her place. Not a single memory from before her horrible accident. Nothing to tell her where or how or from who she had learned things she knew, like how to walk and talk and drive and everything else she did. She'd told him about her first experience in the driver's seat, only a few weeks ago. She'd fought with Christian, and escaped to the garage, thinking what an empty threat it was, until she realized all the controls made sense, and she could drive if she wanted to. He smiled, remembering how she'd so easily forgot her anger int he excitement of learning something about herself. And now, she had to learn something about her brother. Something that wouldn't come as a complete surprise - or shouldn't. You never knew, she seemed to expect only the best of everyone, and was always surprised and disappointed when she found out people lied, people could be cruel. He hated to think what would happen to her tomorrow. First things first, and he left his kitchen, heading for his quarters, for supplies and more private communication. ~*~ Take a moment if you dare, Catch yourself a breath of air. There's another life out there, And you should try it.

* Everything around here makes your pretty head spin. Its piling up high and you're back where you begin. Moments you have tried so hard to forget Are promising to 've been the best one's yet. * So if you're careful, You won't get hurt; But if your careful all the time then what's it worth? ~ "Cosy Prisons", A-ha, 3/27/06 Dicey sang along to the words of the song, some of them coming a little too close for comfort. She stood at her bed, the box from the hospital there, the lid still closed. She finally used one finger to break the tape, and pried the lid off. She hadn't known the box was here. Christian hadn't mentioned it. She'd found it herself, a short time ago, in a forgotten corner of the compound. The word still sounded strange - the 'compound' was really just a large estate, complete with mansion, garages, pool, athletic courts, gardens, and more. Her father had built it long ago, and added to it as his wealth increased. It was his true kingdom, as much as the virtual world of money and business that he had lived in off the estate. Or so she understood from the stories she heard. She stared at the contents of the box. Everything was wrapped in plastic, and marked with Alliance Army logos. Her eyebrows drew down in a frown. None of it was opened. Everything was dated over five years ago. "Oh..." she said quietly. She pulled out one of the small plastic bags, opening it to dump a small silver ring into her hand. She picked it up, dropping the plastic bag on the bed. A reddish-orange stone, oval shaped and badly faceted, nestled in a solid, old-fashioned setting between two triple looped shapes, with points like a triangle. She'd seen it before, decorating something. It was pretty, a little rough, say, old-fashioned. Not like the fancy jewelry she'd seen lately. This looked old. She looked inside the band, seeing nearly worn-away initials. Something.. and "R.". She couldn't make out the first letter anymore. She looked at her hands a moment, then at the ring, and tried it on the first finger she considered, without really thinking about it. It fit her left ring finger perfectly, and she considered it for a moment. She had this... feeling. It was a wedding ring, she was suddenly sure. It looked a little two 'right' there. And it was so obviously old. Her mother's? Or her grandmother's, maybe. She smiled, and left the ring on her finger, looking for the next bag. Dog tags, Eurydice Venice, Alliance Military. She tossed them aside on the bed, not sure how she felt about them. Another bag, and she found clothes, socks and pants and everything, each one folded and bagged separately. Except for the socks. Part of her was surprised they hadn't packaged them separately. Under the clothes, she found a coat. She removed the plastic, and held it out. Brown, nearly knee-length, a little heavy. Worn, but clean - in fact, everything had held the faint odor of the recently laundered. She opened it to try it on, and spotted the name inside, "D. Morgan". Another gift from her long dead mother! She was sure D must have stood for Demeter. The jacket had a faintly military look to it, and her mother had been a soldier. She hugged it to herself a little, feeling silly. She caught a glimpse in her mirror, and grinned at the odd look of the old brown coat, the brilliant emerald tank top, the black denim pants, and bright blue boots peeping out at the bottom. Her hair was, as usual, twisted up in a knot to keep it out of her face. It was still unstyled, just growing wild, and until she could settle on a style, she just pinned it up out of the way. She frowned a little at the way it made her neck look skinny, her shoulder bones a little too prominent. She still needed to fatten up a little. She didn't like the way it made her look. Frail and delicate. Someone who needed to be sheltered, protected, babied. She scowled at her reflection, and decided to order up something truly awful from Andre for dinner. She turned from the mirror, glancing around her room a moment, at the many unfamiliar things she'd sort of pushed back, and the paltry few new, familiar things she'd tried to put in front of them. She moved to the dresser against the wall, and opened the jewelry box there, looking at the shiny treasures inside. She was picking up a necklace of blue stones, when she heard the knock on the door. She dropped the necklace, forgotten, and moved to open it, smiling at the sight of Andre on the other side. He didn't return her smile, and as she suddenly realized he'd never come here, to her room before, he stepped inside, apologizing quietly. "Miss.. you mun go. Tonight," he told her, closing the door behind himself. "Take whatevuh you can, now, pack t'up." His face was serious, grim, and she reacted to it on instinct. She grabbed a bag from her closet, and shoved a few sets of clothing into it. The clothing she now realized she'd bought, she'd set aside, she'd chosen specifically for... this day. As she went from clothes to a few personal necessities, she asked him tightly, "Why am I leaving now, like this?" Andre sighed, watching her, a little surprised - and yet, somehow not, for he'd been hearing more and more about life away from the compound, her questions, her musing - and he explained to her what old Perkins had told him. "Yo'ah brother wants yo'ah fathuh's money. All of it, fo'ah himself." She looked up at him, "So? Let him have it! I don't need much.. " she trailed off at the look on her friend's face. "No, miss. Yo'ah fathuh, he di'n't leave that money to him, s'for a reason, cher. Yo'ah fathuh, he knew bettuh than t'give t'him," he reached into his jacket, and removed a large bundle of cashy money. He stepped forward, and placed it into her bag, "Yo'ah box, too," and he gestured at the jewelry box. She nodded, and grabbed it, dumping the mostly very valuable baubles into the middle of the bag with the money. She might be one of the richest women in the 'Verse, but she was still in Christian's "care" and he controlled everything, including how much money she had. He couldn't completely keep her from her money, but he controlled it, in the end, and she knew he would be able to tell when she took some. He'd know where, and when, and he'd use that information. She added a few more items, including a data pack, filled with the files she'd been given when she woke up - in short, the life of Eurydice Venice, in digital form. "So.. what's the sudden emergency? Spill it, Andre." He sighed, "Perkin' call me oop, heard yo'ah brothuh givin' orduhs to hi' rottweilers, sayin' ta come and stick ya, miss, wi' a needle full o' no good. Ta put ya back ta sleep. And then ta make sure ya died asleep. Then all the money's yo'ah brothuh's. It's despicable. If I hadn't known yo'a h mothuh, Miss, I'd believe him no son of Mr. Venice'." Dicey smiled, she understood. She and Christian seemed to have absolutely nothing in common. In fact, he seemed to almost hate her, but he kept it badly hidden behind a thin veil of brotherly concern. She was very, very tired of brotherly concern. "Fine... Christian.. " she paused, frozen in mid action, the words really sinking in. "He really wants me dead. That's... but... " she turned her head, meeting Andre's black eyes with eyes gone grey with emotion. "Good god.. he's my brother! How can he... that's why father didn't give him the money. That's why I have to stop him. Father must have seen that there was something wrong with him." Andre nodded, "I think he hoped mebbe he would grow up, grow out o' all that." Dicey zipped closed the bag, stuffing her wallet and papers and all her personal pocket items into her mother's coat, the inner pockets proving handy. She knew some women carried purses for all that, but she didn't need two bags to look after. It was like there was a little handbook in the back of her mind, with lists for what to bring, what do, what was important and what to forget about. Sometimes, she almost felt like her brain was full of someone else's notes, and she had only the vaguest notion how to read them. They told her what to do, how to do things, but she had no frame of reference for the learning of the things on the list. She shouldered the bag, and turned to Andre, licking her lips and setting her shoulders, "All right. Where do I go? Should I take one of the cars?" Andre nodded, "Take th'red one, th'gate guard wi' let you pass." He pressed a bundle of items into her hands, "The Nav disk is set ta the dockyards. Find a bunk, any ship, go'an anywheruh. Jes' go, and keep go'an. The's a way ta contac' me, and mo'ah here. Jes' go." She'd talked about going, talked about finding out what the rest of the 'verse was like. This was her chance, and it was her only hope. Here, she was in Christian's control, wholly and utterly. Out there, maybe she could disappear. The 'verse suddenly seemed very small, when she considered Christian's two thugs might come after her. Or Christian could fake the whole thing... maybe... or she might not even make it off planet. She headed for her door, pausing only to impulsively kiss Andre on the cheek, and then she was gone. He smiled a little, and said a little prayer under his breath, leaving her room and closing the door. He headed back the kitchen. There was prep to do for breakfast still. And sadly, no late night chat. Not tonight - and not anymore. Unless she could find a way to beat this, to beat him, she wouldn't be coming back here.


Monday, July 20, 2009 7:10 PM


Chapter two is in the works, and should include our favorite crew. Apologies to all who hate this sort of thing, but I promise to try and handle our crew as well as I can. I just... I have to get this story out of my head, so I can' FINALLY see something new lol.


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The Empty Reflection, Ch. 3
Dicey meets the nice young doctor, and Zoe finds out who this girl really is.

The Empty Reflection, Ch. 2
In which Dicey finds her freedom, but not for long; Weasel and Mountain show up to take her in, and a rescue comes from an unexpected source. (revised and updated 7/23/09 9:05pm)

The Empty Reflection, Ch. 1
In another alternate history, Dicey Morgan leaves home, without a past, and with a brother that wants her dead. She has to figure out who she really is; someone new, or the reflection of a dead woman.

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A chance meeting in the dockyard, told from the point of view of first Malcolm Reynolds, then from the point of view of Dicey Morgan. Not canon, written mainly for my own amusement.

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