Fic 2: Rapture

Title:  Rapture (WIP)
Author: @JoesWoes

Characters / Pairings:  Spartan / Tekla, Gideon / Tekla
Word Count, Chapter 1:  ~2,000  / 50,000 (?) words 
Rating:  R for mature themes and mentions of canon-consistent war atrocities.
Summary:  The bugs attack Terra nine days (rather than nine years) after Gideon’s death
Spoilers:  Generalized spoilers for the Starveil series.
Disclaimer: The following work of fiction is based on Mike R. Miles’ Starveil series. The rights to the characters, situations and storylines from this series reside with the associated authors and studio. I make no claim to these rights, nor is this work intended for any monetary gain. It is simply a creative process.
Author’s Notes:  This fic was written for @StarVeilBrian1981 for the prompts SparTek angst, an abandoned house, a bobby pin and for the quote ‘once more the storm is howling’ (from a poem by Yeats).” 

 

 

 

Rapture


Chapter 1

 

The bugs attack Terra nine days after Gideon’s suicide.

 

Tekla’s still living in a haze of grief and guilt, her life passing in a blur of alcohol and cigarettes.  She wants to be dead, like him.  Wants to crawl into the casket.  Burn herself alive on a pyre of their destroyed love.  Slash her wrists and let her blood flow until she disappears.  But the only punishment she receives is her father’s advice at Gideon’s funeral: “Suicide is a mortal sin, punishable by God.”

 

So Tekla opts for self-destruction instead. 

 

The spider-like alien craft that appear in the skies that morning are an echo of her own desire. The fire that follows, an afterthought. She doesn’t even feel fear at the sight of Terra burning.  Just stares forward through the cloudy window, struggling through a fog of alcohol to understand what the mushroom-cloud shaped smoke means.  (She hasn’t stopped drinking since Gideon killed himself.  It might be eight in the morning, but she struggles to stand upright.)  Seeing the world ending, something like relief begins to unfold inside the walls of her chest.

 

Death’s coming for me, her mind whispers half a second before she hears a footfall behind her. 

 

She turns, in alarm, to see Matt Spartan: classmate, friend, sometimes-lover, waiting.  He’s been sleeping on her couch, her foggy memory offers.  In the impossible light of nuclear morning, his mouth is agape, blond hair mussed and dirty, his eyes swollen half shut with exhaustion.  He comes to stands beside her now, his face awe-struck and terrified by the sight.

 

“Oh my god,” he says.  “The bugs have attacked.”

 

Tekla doesn’t know exactly when Spartan showed up at her apartment.  He’s been on bereavement leave from the Star Freighter Hyperion since his best friend’s death, (Tekla remembers that much), but exactly why else he’s still here she hasn’t quite figured out.  The relief she so briefly held in her hands is torn from her grasp.  Gideon’s dead, but Spartan’s still alive, and that means that she cannot let him die.  Her penance for betraying Gideon will be Spartan’s survival.

 

For a moment she wants to scream in frustration.

 

“We need to get out,” Tekla announces, a wave of sobriety coming with her anger.  “Get to the moon base and help them.”

 

Another bomb – nearer now – goes off, and the two of them drop down to the floor on instinct.  The windows are shuddering with each explosion.  Tekla’s apartment is in a far eastern suburb of San Francisco.  The falling nukes haven’t hit the city centre yet, but their plumes, coming from distant coastline and the interstellar shipyards nearby, fill the horizon like macabre flowers.  Spartan struggles up to his knees, his face contorting in anger.

 

“Those bombs have gotta be near Los Angeles.”  His face closes off for a moment, horror becoming something else.  “My parents...” he says in a strangled voice.

 

“We need to go,” Tekla snaps, “The bugs—”

 

Spartan interrupts her before she can finish.  He’s breathing hard, his eyes darting through the apartment, already making plans.

 

“They’ll take out the military targets first,” he argues.  “We need to get out of here... if another wave of attacks come, they’ll move to smaller targets.”  He reaches out, grabbing hold of her shoulder painfully tight, his voice loud.  “For god’s sake, Tekla, San Francisco could be next!”

 

She takes a shaking breath, feeling the last hope for a quick death slither away from her and disappear.  Spartan’s waiting, his blue eyes bright with desperation and that impossible hope she has never really understood.

 

“Then let’s move,” she growls.  “The truck’s in the garage.”

 

~~~\o/~~~

 

Tekla avoids all the main streets, driving over lawns and through yards to get away.  People are stumbling through the streets like sleepwalkers.  Parentless children, lost and crying, standing on street corners.  Random gunfire comes from the distant thoroughfares, vehicles piled up to become impromptu roadblocks, penning them in.  Tekla ignores it all, popping the vehicle into four wheel drive before gunning the engine.  There are no rules anymore.  Her only focus is escape.

 

Twenty minutes later they’re on one of the dirt roads outside the city, heading up into the hills, and from there to the mountains.  They have three quarters of a tank of gas and no supplies, save the few things scrounged from the apartment and thrown in the back of the truck.  They have a few survival items Tekla had on hand, all her food. They have no iodine for radiation poisoning. And only one firearm: a handgun.  Tekla’s mind sifts through all of these details like a list of numbers, balancing them against their chances of survival.  All the while, another part of her mind is back on the events of a week ago.  That was the afternoon when Spartan showed up at Gideon’s funeral and she looked up, catching him staring at her.

 

Spartan may have been drunk, but he hadn’t forgotten that night they’d shared either.

 

Her fingers tighten on the steering wheel.  Gideon killed himself because of their discretion. His best friend, Spartan, will survive if it’s the last thing she ever does.

 

~~~\o/~~~

 

Two hours outside of San Francisco, the radio – which has, so far, been announcing the alien attacks and the sight of bugs in the streets – goes dead.  Spartan sighs, then leans forward and flicks it off. 

 

For the rest of the morning, they drive in silence.

 

~~~\o/~~~

 

They make it to a small, abandoned community mid-afternoon.  There are piles of bodies lined up like cordwood in the street, executed, it appears, by some now-absent force.  Tekla’s eyes are drawn to them: children, adults and elderly alike. For the first time, she truly feels fear.

 

“The bugs are killing survivors,” Spartan says, startling her.  “They’re hunting them. They’ll be looking for us too.”

 

Tekla nods.  The town is impossibly quiet, but she knows it’s an illusion.

 

“Then we need to move fast,” she says, her mind switching gears midway, anxiety replaced by determination.  “I’m going to siphon another tank of gas.  You look for supplies.” 

 

Spartan pushes the weapon into her hands.

 

“Here, take your gun,” he mutters, not holding her eyes.  “Just in case.”

 

“You’ll need it more than me,” she growls, and turns away before he can argue.  “Let’s just hurry up and get the hell out of here.”

 

~~~\o/~~~

 

By sunset, they’ve hit the logging roads, the ones with the yellow signs announcing “downhill has right of way”.  Tekla switches the truck into low gear to compensate for the incline, slowing down as they gain elevation.  She doesn’t know where they’re going, but Spartan has been prattling on about fallout and radiation, and ‘up’ seems as good a direction as any.

 

When they get to the end of the road it’s twilight and Tekla slows the truck further, doing a three-way turn so that it is facing downhill.  In case, her mind hisses, but she doesn’t let the thought go any further.  If the alien force find them, they’re dead.   

 

As she makes the final adjustment to the wheels, Spartan takes a sharp intake of breath, and Tekla’s hand goes to the weapon she’s no longer holding.  She turns to Spartan, but he’s already staring out the window, his face bright with something.  His hand rises up, pointing into the distance with shaking fingers.

 

“There...  there’s a house there,” he says.  “When you were turning, I- I saw it through the trees.  Just over that rise,” he gasps.  “A house.” 

 

Tekla doesn’t know how to answer him, but she doesn’t have to.  Spartan turns toward her, pulling her into a tight hug, his chest shuddering as he fights to control his breathing.  He’s almost in tears, the panic of the last twelve hours right at the surface.  She can hear someone talking calmly, saying nonsense words that sound oddly familiar.

 

“Shh... shh... it’s going to be okay, Spartan. Just breathe. We’re going to be fine, sweetie. Just fine.”

 

Tekla realizes the person talking is her.

 

~~~\o/~~~

 

They don’t want to break the windows if they don’t have to.  (Fallout is going to be an issue at some point, and the more enclosed their shelter is, the better they’ll fare.)  Instead, Tekla uses a flashlight to search amongst the clutter on the floor of her truck.  After a few minutes, she locates a bobby pin and grins.  The house is old, the lock simple to pick, and minutes later, they’re standing inside. 

 

The cabin – cross-timbered with faded stucco – is old and has been abandoned for years.  The interior is covered in drop-sheets and smells of mothballs and mildew.  There are a few, dried supplies in the kitchen, but they’re full of mouse-tracks.  Tekla recoils in disgust, wiping her dusty hands on her pants.

 

Beggars can’t be choosers, an inner voice admonishes. 

 

With a scowl, Tekla separates them out as best she can and sets them aside.  They don’t need this food yet, but if they’re starving, it might be a different issue. 

 

There’s a fireplace, but they don’t risk a fire.  The scent of smoke travels far, and both know that their best chance of surviving is to avoid detection by the alien force.  (They’ve already covered Tekla’s truck with branches, and built a blind for the area where Spartan caught sight of the house through the trees.)  Now, as darkness takes hold of the mountains, the wind begins to blow.  Icy fingers push under the eaves, leaving both of them shivering.  Down in the valley a storm is howling, heading higher by the hour.

 

Spartan brings a pile of musty blankets into the living room, dropping one around Tekla’s shoulders and sitting down beside her. 

 

“I’ll take the first watch,” he says quietly.  “You try and get some sleep.”

 

He puts an arm over her shoulder, the two of them resting for the first time in this endless day.  It’s that gesture – Spartan trying to comfort her – that finally breaks through her self-control.  Tekla turns to him, her face torn with anguish.  After hours of running, she’s far too sober, but the words are there, forcing their way to the surface.

 

“Spartan,” she says, voice shaking.  “Gideon knew about us.”

 

His expression, calm before, grows icy cool. For a moment she thinks he doesn’t remember that night, but then he nods. The truth waits between them. 

 

“I- I didn’t realise,” Spartan says and his face contorts.  It’s the same look he had when he’d seen Los Angeles burning and knew his family was dead. “How did he find out?”


Tekla shakes her head.  There’s no way to explain it, to make it okay.  So she just says it.

 

“I told him.”

 

Spartan’s eyes widen, horror replacing the shock.  She swallows hard, forcing herself to hold his gaze. For a few moments there’s only the sound of Spartan’s breathing, growing harsher by the second, and then the wind, like an angry ghost, swirling around them.


“Why?” he finally asks in a broken voice.  “Why would you tell him, Tekla?!”  She can hear the fury behind his words.  Can see him fighting for control.  “Dragnat all! He never needed to know!”

 

She shrugs sadly, remembering the affair.  Hating herself for allowing it to happen, but unable to stop.  The drunken kisses in dark corners, Spartan’s hands against her thighs, rising higher... She takes a sobbing breath.  This admission is a form of atonement too.  It will do for them what her weak will never could:  It’ll tear us apart.

“Gideon was a good man and I loved him,” she says with a sad smile.  “He deserved the truth.”