Alex Kaidan: S01E01 - Paradise Lost

Being completely unable to think of a sensible name for your space ship tends to be less of a problem when there's only one ship in the whole Human 'fleet', besides Alex Kaidan only ever really borrowed it. What could be more of a problem is Earth having been paved and only a few Humans surviving, and that was only thanks to the actions of a benevolent alien race known as the Un. Alex and his crew have made it their mission to find and rescue however many Humans they can that are being held captive by any of the alien races. A mission made all the more difficult by the sad truth that a catastrophically decimated population is not an employers' market.

In this episode, Alex's attempts to save a large group of imprisoned Humans from being slightly too comfortable goes horribly wrong when Sara Heath, a member of his crew, shoots and kills a man.

“Paradise Lost” is the first episode in season 1 of the science fiction series “Alex Kaidan”.

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3. 3

"Did you hear what happened?" Alex asked Rhyna Shin as he entered the medical bay. He could have just called her but he liked the walk. The peace and quiet of the ship's corridors always gave him the chance to avoid people and their problems for a few minutes. This was mainly due to the fact that the ship was massively underutilised, having been designed to house many Un, who were naturally larger than an average Human.

Rhyna, who was working on a large, fixed-place medical console, turned and briefly half-smiled comfortingly. She replied in a downbeat tone, "Yeah"

Alex sighed. He was relieved that he did not have to go over the details and relive that moment when he heard the shot, but also disappointed that someone else had told Rhyna, who had become his confidant over the years, before he had.

"Who from?!"

"Alex, it's all over the ship. Of course I've heard."

"I still can't believe she just killed a man"

"I can. Sara’s always been the type to think the means are justified by the end. I bet even now she has no regrets. I never did like her."

"Hardly a time for I told you so."

"True. Although I did."

"She wasn't supposed to be there. I only brought her because I couldn't trust her in charge of the ship. I should've... I couldn't... God, it sounds so hollow now"

Rhyna approached him and put her hand on his shoulder. She looked him in the eyes and said, "It wasn't your fault, Alex. If any of us knew what she'd be capable of beforehand then we would have ditched her there and then"

He met her gaze, then nodded and composed himself.

"So what have you done with her?" she asked, removing her hand and resuming the work she was doing on the console.

"Just confined her to her cabin for now. Dann's guarding her"

She stopped working once again and looked up, "That's a little luxurious isn't it? Considering what she did"

"Maybe, but I wanted her to cool down and tell me her side without a gun against her head first. Besides, the brig was in use at the time"

You mean the padlock?”

Yeah”

So what are you planning to do with her?”

"Good question. I promised the Nedics’ prisoners a trial, but there's no telling what The Villagers would do when she's found guilty. The Village doesn't have the resources to man a prison and there's no way they'd pollute their precious gene pool with the genes of a murderer"

"What? You think they'd execute her? That's crazy"

"It’s possible, unless they turn her over to the Un for them to deal with"

"Spending the foreseeable future in an alien prison doesn't sound like fun either"

Alex shrugged, "Guess she should have thought of that"

"Are you sure they'll find her guilty?"

"Er, yeah," he said, sarcastically. Then the doubt set in, "Of course, why wouldn't they?"

"Well the only witnesses were Dann and Matthias and there's no way Matthias will testify against the love of his life"

"And what about the hundred or so prisoners we just freed"

"The prisoners who don't feel they were prisoners and want to go back? The same ones who probably won't be joining us back to The Village, from what I hear?"

Alex was genuinely confused, "From who? It’s been like twenty minutes since I've got back"

"From ‘whom’,” she corrected him

You sure?”

Yes, and news travels faster than you do. Especially when you're meandering through those corridors and stairs"

"Hey, it helps me think"

"The rest of us think in the elevators"

"Yeah, whatever. Anyway, I'm working on the prisoners. And what about me? Don't I count as a witness?"

"Did you see it?"

"I heard it"

"So it's Sara and Matthias' word against Dann's, with you as a supporting witness - odds are still in her favour"

"Are you being deliberately difficult?"

"No, but my genetic donor was a lawyer so maybe it's in my DNA"

The genetic donor she was referring to was one of the original Humans that founded The Village. They came from one of two sources: survivors and abductees. The survivors were the handful of people rescued by the single Un research ship that was covertly monitoring Earth, minutes before the planet was destroyed. The rest were like the Nedic prisoners. Humans donated to the Un by other races from any research colonies that they had established from abducted Humans prior to Earth's demise. Most races had turned over all of their Humans so that the race was not permanently lost, until the dominant race in the known galaxy had banned it and ordered that all races destroy their stocks of Humans. This race went by a name that loosely translated to the word ‘Pathfinders’.

The Un assured the Pathfinders that they had done as they wished, but in actual fact had established a new Human colony on the very large moon that orbited their home-world, instead. They renamed the moon ‘New Earth’, but it had colloquially became known as ‘The Village’. By the time the Un (along with whatever now passed as the Human scientific establishment at the time) had mastered Human cloning, most of these first colonists had died of old age. By this point, it was realised that the lack of genetic diversity would severely hinder any slim chance for survival Humanity had left and so specimens were kept. Eventually, they were able to clone new Humans from the DNA of the first colonists.

Very few of these genetic donors lived long enough to see their clones, but it had now become almost impolite not to ask, "Did you ever meet her?"

"Nah,” she said, “Way before my time, but I did come across some of her old notes. Her children passed them on to me after she died - that was weird, meeting them"

"Children, eh? Sounds like your evolutionary purpose has been fulfilled before you'd even begun. You keep in touch?"

"Yeah. A bit. How about you? You were cloned too weren't you?"

"Astronaut"

She narrowed her eyes, not sure whether to believe him or not. After a time, she ventured a cautious, "Really?"

"Yeah."

"It's not like you to keep something like that quiet"

"Well, kind of. He just trained as one. Never actually made it into space. It was a big thing back then"

"Still is"

"Yeah, well, total coincidence. He was bagged by the Sereti with his wife not long before Earth got paved"

"His wife?"

"Don't ask"

"Don't ask? Are you mad? 'Course I'm going to ask! I can’t believe you’ve not mentioned it all this time. Did they clone her too?"

"So you mentioned some notes?"

Rhyna scowled at him, but he did not budge, "Fine, be like that, but I'll get it out of you eventually."

"Uh-huh. And the notes...?"

"Hmm. Well, they mentioned something they used to call a court-martial. It gave military types the power to preside over a trial in certain circumstances and, seeing as though you like to refer to this -" she gave the nearest bulkhead a gentle kick, "- as 'the Human fleet', then you might just be able to get away with doing it"

Hold a trial myself? You not think that’ll be a little bias, especially when I call myself as a witness?”

You won’t need to if it happens while our guests are here”

Let me think about it”

Just a thought. But you’re going to have to do something about it sooner rather than later”

What’s that supposed to mean?”

You know exactly what it means. It means you have a habit of putting everything off until the last minute when it’s something that you don’t want to do”

"Like I said, let me think about it"

Knowing Alex well enough to appreciate that that would be all she would get from him without torture implements, she changed the subject, “How are our new guests doing?”

Not bad. Considering. Coming across this many Humans is a rare find. I wish Sara hadn’t messed it all up. If they could just be persuaded to join The Village -”

- I know, they’d had the potential to resolve so many of the problems Humanity faces.”

It was no wonder Sara was so desperate to get them, but that desperation probably alienated them from us forever.”

They both stood there quietly for a moment or two, then Rhyna attempted to lighten the mood, "Any girls?"

"Lots," he replied.

Despite Alex being well aware that she was a lesbian, there were very few openly gay women left and thinking about it always made him smirk like a child. Over time, she had come to appreciate that the smirking was harmless and had almost grown accustomed to it. Unfortunately, not every Human’s reaction was so benign. Alex had first met her outside a bar in the Northern Quarter of The Village, not long before he had acquired the ship. She was there celebrating finishing her final exams of the Un run School of Human Medicine, but had become separated from her friends. As she left the bar, she was harassed by a gang of men, one of which she had rejected the advances of earlier in the evening. He had punched her in the face just as Alex and Dann were walking up to the entrance. While there were passers-by, most of whom that would normally protect another Human at all costs, the gang made it very clear to anyone who approached that “She's a dyke and doesn’t even deny it!”. Alex had thrown himself at the ringleader before Dann was even aware what was going on, and was rewarded by being beaten almost to death. Following this, the gang had run off and Rhyna had been spared whatever fate they had planned for her, although she and Dann did have to carry Alex to the hospital. The event, in addition to the constant bullying she had endured throughout her teenage years, was enough to make her abandon The Village to gallivant around the galaxy with Alex once he had offered her the position.

"Any good ones?" she enquired

"Some, yeah, but there’s something, um, disconcerting about them”

She leaned closer, “How so?”

Well, they all seem to share a certain 'look'...”

A ‘look’?”

Yeah, there’s a word for it you use sometimes when you're talking genetics. Begins with an F”

You mean phenotype?”

Alex clicked his fingers and pointed at her, “Yeah, that’s it - phenotype”

Oh come on, are you suggesting that they’re that all inbred?”

A loud, non subtle cough suggested that not only was someone there, but had been for quite some time. They both looked at the doorway in unison and were horrified to see a man, a woman and a young boy, who was presumably their son. In the woman's arms was a very young baby.

Rhyna quickly overcame the embarrassed silence, "Hello, I'm Dr Shin, the ship's medical officer."

The woman did not speak, but her facial expression said all they needed to hear. The man huffed and said, "We came about our daughter. She was born two weeks ago. My wife thought it would be best to get her checked out by a Human doctor, although we're now starting to wonder about the levels of professionalism in the field"

"Yes, well. Quite. If you'd like to bring her to the table, I'll be happy to give her a check-up for you"

Reluctantly, after being prodded by the man, the woman took her baby over to Rhyna. Alex stood back for a second. He felt that he should have left the room at that point, but it was not often that anyone got to see such a young child. The sight of her, being fussed over by two overprotective parents filled him with hope.

"Are you Captain Gayden?”

He had not noticed that the boy was now stood next to him. He had stayed back while his parents took his sister to be examined.

Kaidan,” he corrected, "but yes, close enough"

"The others said you were on Eden too"

"Eden? Is that what you called the institute?"

"Eden's what we call home, yes"

Oh. Sounds nice”

"Did you blow it up?"

"A bit, yes," That sounded inadequate somehow, so he added, "Sorry about that"

"Oh, I liked it there. Can I ask you another question?"

He shrugged, "Sure"

"When you were there, did you shoot any of the Nedic?"

"I had to. To help free you"

"Free us from what?"

Alex felt uncomfortably like he was about to get himself into trouble again. He looked at the boy's parents who had not noticed that they were talking yet, but then decided to just tell him it anyway, "From the Nedic. They were holding you prisoner"

"Were they?"

"Yes, it may not have felt like it but they were."

"Why?"

"I don't know"

"Are they dead, like Jens?"

"The Nedic guards? No, I just use this force wave projection device. See?" he said, instinctively removing the pistol to show it to him. Suddenly, he then realised that if the parents were to turn around and see him offering their child a loaded weapon, it might not increase his already diminished popularity levels and so he quickly placed it back in the holster, "Anyway, that was it. Don't tell anyone I showed it to you."

"But you shot them?"

"I did, but it only stuns things. It doesn't kill them"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, very. In fact, the Un who gave it to me insisted that I know what it felt like before he let me use it on others. Of course he didn't tell me that at the time - he just shot me with it," Alex grimaced as he recalled the memory.

"What did it feel like?"

"Have you ever done a belly flop?"

"What?"

"Dived flat onto water, so that it kind of smacks you full on in the face and abdomen at the same time”

No...”

Well, it’s like that, but from space. I wouldn’t recommend doing it anyway. After the initial shock, it washes over you." The boy seemed to be taking it all in, so he continued, "The trick is to dive into it, you see. That lowers the available surface area exposed to the force wave”

Right..." he ventured, still confused, "so they’re okay then?”

Well, they’d be unconscious for a bit, but I have no doubt that your captors will be rescued very soon if they haven’t been already,” he started to digress, probably because each and every one of the boy’s questions made him feel more and more guilty, “Funny thing unconsciousness, no matter what the biology, all races seem to do it if you hit them hard enough with something. Even the Plius and they’re made of rock, well sort of”

They’re my friends”

What? Oh, the guards? Okay. Well, they’ll be fine.”

Good, thanks. Can I ask you another one now?" The boy’s questioning was relentless.

"Yes, if you want,"

"Why didn’t that woman who shot Jens have one of those guns then?”

He opened his mouth to talk, but then closed it once he realised that he did not have to words to fill it. Instead, he stood there looking at the boy for a long time, completely unable to answer. Why did Sara have a gun? The fact of the matter was that they had been under-equipped for so long, having to barter and steal equipment wherever they could, that once one person had the means to defend themselves, he had never given it a second thought. By now, they had enough equipment that he could have recalled all lethal weaponry, like her projectile weapon, but this kind of situation had never come up before. As a group, they specialised in stealth, hit-and-run tactics. It was rare for them to ever get involved in a fire fight and when they did, it was even rarer for any of them to ever actually manage to hit anything. Sara had killed a man in cold blood, and as he understood it, at point-blank range.

The boy’s mother eventually called him over before Alex was able to muster together any kind of explanation.

While the father was with the baby and the mother was calling over the boy, Rhyna looked up and whispered to him, “Alex, stop procrastinating and go and deal with Sara"

"Uh, yeah. Okay," he said, still fazed. Then he snapped himself out of it, “Yeah fine, I’ll check in on Dann, but I’m going to need to talk to Matthias before I talk to Sara."

She nodded and then shooed him out of the medical bay with her hand.

Oh one more thing," he said, pretending that he had forgotten, "When you’re done here I need you to give all of our new guests a quick medical and, er, take some samples.”

She knew exactly what he meant. They had been recently been informed by a Human scientist working with the Un that they were close to mastering the technology to be able to extract a type of self-renewing cell from blood and use it to create sperm and egg cells. Alex knew that Rhyna would consider doing this without their permission highly unethical, but still necessary if they could not be convinced to stay.

While clearly not impressed, she was not in any position to argue in front of the family and so simply said, “Fine” in a tone that suggested that it really was not fine at all.

"By the way," he added as he left, ‘procrastinating’ - Good word!”

Once he had tiptoed his way out of the medical bay, he called Dann, "How's it going?"

"All safe and snug, locked in her cabin. She did try to escape so I had to knock her out"

"What? Was that necessary?"

"After she went for my gun? Maybe not. After she kicked me in the balls? Yes, I'd say it was"

"Oh, right. You okay?"

"Wouldn't mind a sit down, to be honest with you"

"Okay, fair enough. I’m going to the bridge to find Matthias so I’ll tell Liam he's on guard duty while I'm there. Once he arrives, you can go and tend to your wounds."

"Thanks, boss"

"One more thing, Dann. What sort of gun have you got?"

"I've got two at the minute. Mine and Sara's. Both projectile. Why?"

"I'll tell you later"


 


 


 


 

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