[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 81
The old man’s eyes, beady and black like death, bore into Vic’s face. His face, wrinkled and covered with a thin beard and moustache, frowned.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were dead.”
Vic’s dad, Hector, stepped to the side of Joey, releasing his grip and allowing Joey to gasp for breath. He wore long, pale-red robes tied off at the waist with a thin, black belt.
“That was your first problem. You thought. Never did you think properly, did you? Always you thought you knew better. Always you thought you were right. You haven’t changed. Not one little bit.”
“Dad, you don’t look so good.”
“Don’t I? I waited for seventy years for you or your mother to come and save me.”
“Dad, I didn’t know. You even said yourself that time moves differently…”
“Don’t talk back to me. I wanted you to suffer as you made me suffer when you left me to rot back on that planet. A prisoner. That’s all I’ve been since I got here. A prisoner. I wanted to roam the galaxy and make it give up its secrets. I wanted to see everything. I should have been allowed at least that. But no, I was captured and jailed and because I wasn’t a telepath, I couldn’t defend myself. Each word I spoke just lengthened my sentence.”
“I didn’t know…”
Hector pounded his chest as if to free his voice. “Do you know how difficult it was to see you arrive? My boy. I wanted to hold you and tell you how glad I was to see you, but I couldn’t. I wanted out. And you showing up, nearly helping me to escape. When the escape pod ejected from the exploding ship, I waited, and waited. I waited to see you come back and save me. To save Bakcha.”
Argmon growled at this name. The name of his brother.
“Bakcha tried everything to signal to you, but your ship just kept pulling away. Bakcha fought and resisted, but they killed him. Do you understand? I had to see him die. I had to see you leave.”
“Dad, I saw the ship explode. Argmon saw the ship explode. We didn’t think anyone could have survived.”
“Even if you hadn’t come back for me, I could have forgiven that. I could have understood. I escaped from there three years ago. I came to find you. My only son. The fruit of my loins. The one to carry on my legacy. And what do I find? My son, a common criminal, gallivanting about the galaxy doing petty jobs for petty people and squandering his time with a petty business.
“I didn’t build my machine to come into space so I or you could use it to become a crook.”
“So you tried to kill me?”
“Not at first. I tried small things to deter you from your path of crime. I made things difficult for you. I reported you several times to GCP Central Office so they could start a case against you. But that did no good. Your crimes, they said, were so small that they couldn’t be bothered with trying to collect you.
“Two years ago I put a plan into action. Two years I’ve been trying to bring you down, boy. I couldn’t see you continue to run our family name into the ground. I hired Mike and we started to watch you from afar, then I saw how you picked up miscreants and outcasts. Mike fit into you crew quite well, don’t you think?”
Vic’s mouth fell open. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“I didn’t know Mike had a screw loose or I would never have used him. I didn’t want you dead, not at first. I had him try everything to get you to stop. Damn you’re a stubborn one. Even with your ship on fire and on the verge of breaking apart and being pursued by the authorities, you still didn’t stop. Even after your ship crashed, you still didn’t stop. I’m convinced now that nothing will ever stop you. Ever. Except this.”
Hector pulled a dagger from his belt. Vic, even in his weakened state, knew his father, old beyond belief, couldn’t fight.
“Dad, what are you thinking? I’m your son. I don’t want to fight you.”
“Then you make this all that much easier.” Hector swung his arm back and swiped the dagger across Joey’s face. Joey winced back.
“Hey! They’ve got nothing to do with this. You leave them alone!”
“Oh, so you’ll stick up for this lot, will you? Where were you when I needed you? You never tried to help me. You left me, your own father, to rot on that hell hole of a planet. Do you know what being locked up that long can do to a person? Do you!”
Spittle flew from Hector’s mouth as he raged. He gnashed his teeth and lunged at Vic. He stopped when Argmon growled, pausing for a moment to pull a gun from the folds of his robes. He raised the gun and fired it at Argmon. With a howl Argmon fell to the ground.
“No! Stop this. These are my friends.”
“And you’ll all die soon enough.” Hector tossed the gun to the ground and rushed Vic with the dagger.
Vic sidestepped and tried to grab his father’s wrist. He was rewarded with the blade puncturing his hand. A sharp intake of breath and he pulled his hand back and gritted his teeth. Hector look frenzied by the blood and pressed his advantage. With a scream he leapt at Vic.
Vic did manage to catch Hector’s wrist, but the weight of the old man pushed him backwards. The back of his legs caught on the bed and he fell over backwards.
“Yeeeeooooowwww!” Hector screamed.
With the weight of Hector behind the point of the blade, Vic couldn’t stop its advance. The pain wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be as the blade entered his stomach. He closed his eyes and coughed up blood. It couldn’t end like this. After all they’d been through. It couldn’t.
Hector leaned down and whispered into Vic’s ear, all of the insanity gone from his eyes. His voice sounded like that of a priest. “I couldn’t let you disgrace me, Victor. This is the way it has to be.”
Vic couldn’t move even if he wanted to. The blade in his abdomen felt like it sucked his life out.
“Be still now, Victor. It’ll all be over in a moment.”
Vic tried to raise his arms, but he couldn’t move. No! It couldn’t end like this. After all they’d been through only to die at the hands of a crazy old man. It just couldn’t end. Not now. Not like this.
“Dad. No. Please.”
As his vision faded, Vic heard something hit the door and crash it inward. A green blur crossed his fading sight and he his father’s weight disappeared. Vic laid his head back and heaved a struggled breath.
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