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Albatross One: The Means to Justify an Ending

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Summary: If River Tam was the Academy's idea of perfection, what exactly had led them to that point? How many lives had they stolen and ruined for their end result? More importantly, what had been the start of it all?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Firefly > GeneralBlackBettieFR1824,896031,3659 Sep 121 Nov 12No

Chapter Two

Disclaimer: I do not own anything pertaining to the TV series, Firefly or any of its subsidiaries (i.e. the movie Serenity, and graphic novels of the same name). Nor do I lay claims on anything pertaining to Buffy or Angel-verse. They all belong to the wonderfully marvelous Joss Whedon. I am simply borrowing several aspects to create a story for my own amusement. If in the process it amuses others, sobeit. I am not making any money from this, so please don't sue me. (Cause I'm broke as a skoke!)

Chapter Two

Gabriel Tam sipped at his tea while he looked over a report on his cortex. So enraptured in the numbers and statistics was he, that even though he’d been expecting a wave all day, he was still startled when an alert sounded from his desk terminal. Gabriel turned to face the monitor where the words “Incoming Transmission...” scrolled brightly across the screen. A smile spread wide on Gabriel’s face; hopefully, this was the wave he’d been waiting for.

After tapping in his security code, the screen blinked to life, revealing the fair face of his eldest daughter. Gabriel couldn’t help reflecting for a moment on how Sabrina looked more and more like her mother with each passing day. That being the very reason why, deep down under layers and layers of psychosis, Gabriel had been anxious to push her away; the stark reminder of his beloved Carra was still too fresh and too near to bear.

“Hi, bàba.” Sabrina greeted, almost coyly.

“Hello, Sabrina.” Gabriel returned her greeting with a smile. “I’ve been waiting for your wave most of the day. Is there a reason for the delay?”

Sabrina’s smile faltered slightly, and her eyes flickered to something off-screen, then quickly back again so that Gabriel failed to notice. “It was nothing, bàba. I twisted my ankle in practice today, that’s all.” Sabrina casually shrugged off the comment like it was nothing. “I am better now, though, so you needn’t worry. Everything is fine.” Sabrina smiled, though the gesture didn’t quite reach her eyes. If Gabriel were a more observant man in the emotional department, he probably would have taken notice. “I miss you, bàba,” Sabrina continued. “Simon and River, too.”

Gabriel smiled. “We miss you too, baobei. Even Regan has-” Sabrina cut him off with a scoff and rolling of her eyes. Gabriel responded with a soft shake of his head. “I do wish you would try to get along better with her, Sabrina. She is going to be your step-mother after-all.”

“That woman will never be my mother," Sabrina said firmly.

Gabriel shook his head again and waved his hand in the air as if to wave away the statement. “We can discuss that at a later time, baobei. Right now I am anxious to know how things are going at the Academy.”

Sabrina sat up straighter and plastered on her best fake, but believable smile. “Things are going well, bàba. The courses and curriculum are just as challenging as they said they would be.” She cleared her throat. “I’m learning to do a lot of things I, um, never knew I was able to.”

Gabriel beamed proudly. “That’s great, sweetheart. And what of friends? Have you made any yet?”

“A few, yes. There are some other boys and girls in my program that I suppose you can say have... come to rely on me. No one particularly noteworthy that you would know, though, I don’t think.” Sabrina cleared her throat again, a nervous gesture that Gabriel didn’t remember his eldest having. “But, we do very well together.”

“Well, that's splendid, darling.” Gabriel’s smile widened. “Splendid.” Gabriel’s prideful smile quickly turned into a sly grin as he changed the subject. “And what of boys, hmm?” He chuckled. “How many strapping young gentleman do I need to impress my fatherly threat upon?”

Sabrina rolled her eyes playfully. This was so not a subject she felt like discussing with her father at the moment. In fact, none of this conversation was what Sabrina wanted to say to him; it was only what she had been told she was permitted to say. “Boys-shmoys.” Sabrina replied flippantly.

“Oh, come now, sweetheart. You can be honest with me.” Gabriel pried. “Why, back when I was in university a beautiful young woman like you would have been fighting men off with a stick.”

Sabrina politely chuckled at her father’s attempt to be humourous. If only he knew how frighteningly accurate such an analogy was, however, Gabriel Tam would not be smiling. Sabrina was fighting off boys, alright; and girls, men, women, soldiers; some older, some younger, some with far more training than she possessed. However, she had never been given a stick to fight with, mostly she only had her fists and other extremities to rely upon; maybe occasionally a small knife, but never a stick. Sabrina didn’t want to fight anyone, but she had learned very quickly that the punishment for not doing as she was told was far more severe than the guilt and disgust she felt after every fight she managed to walk away from; even more painful than the grievous injuries she sustained from the ones she didn’t.

Unbeknownst to Sabrina, Simon’s head suddenly poked into his father’s study; the boy had heard a familiar voice and remembered his sister was supposed to be calling today. Before he could ask if it was indeed Sabrina, however, Gabriel’s hand shot up in a silencing gesture and Simon’s words died on his lips. Then, without looking away from the monitor, Gabriel gestured off screen for his son to enter. A bright grin spread wide on Simon’s face as he made his way over to his father’s desk, where he waited patiently beyond the video capture’s line of sight.

“I heard Lord-General Bosworth’s son is also attending. Have you met him, yet?” Gabriel asked, breaking his daughter free of her inner reflections.

Sabrina got a far off look in her eyes for an instant, the name bringing a vivid memory to the fore of her mind. She quickly schooled her features and cleared her throat, “Um, would that be Daniel Bosworth?” At Gabriel’s nod of affirmation, Sabrina continued. “Then, yes. I have. Though only just the one time.” Sabrina paused and a sorrowful look passed over her eyes. “He was... very nice.”

“And?” Gabriel tried to pry more from his daughter, but it was like squeezing water froma rock.

Sabrina sobered and plastered another smile on her face. “And nothing, father. Like I said I only met him once.”

Gabriel shook his head. “Well, perhaps you should try to meet him again, baobei. According to Lord Bosworth, Daniel had top marks in all his courses before the academy, and was quite popular among his classmates. I’m sure you would be fast friends. In fact, I highly encourage you to make a friend of Daniel Bosworth, baobei. His family is very influential.” Sabrina smiled at her father’s encouragement, though his words twisted something terribly painful deep in her gut.

How could Sabrina possibly tell her father that not only had she met Daniel Bosworth, but that because of her he had been beaten and tortured nearly to death? She couldn’t, that’s how. Especially not with one of them breathing down her neck; literally and figuratively.

Sabrina was constantly monitored; they all were. Her diet was regulated; menstrual cycles scheduled and monitored as if she were some bitch in heat; her weight and vitals taken on a daily basis; injuries photographed and logged along with the progress and duration of their healing time; they didn’t even give her the privacy of using the bathroom in peace! Her bodily waste, whether liquid or solid, was sampled and logged just like everything else. Sabrina had absolutely no privacy and no time to herself... And she had absolutely no idea why. They were testing her that much she knew. Using her, hurting her, pushing her to every possible limit and breaking point, and even beyond... But for what purpose? Sabrina had only ever managed to hear things in passing, or when the doctors and scientists would speak about her when they thought she was unconscious or asleep; mostly brief comments on her extraordinary progress and born-in skills that were unlike any of the others.

The only thing Sabrina had really been able to glean from it all, was that she was here because of something in her blood. Sabrina Tam and a majority of the other ‘students’ at the Academy had all been brought here because they shared one common trait; something in their blood that set them apart from everyone else. A trait that, according to the ‘hands of blue’ as they’d all gotten used to calling the ‘administrators’, who Sabrina found out had only worn the black gloves over the blue latex ones, had made them all prime candidates for these so-called experiments they were running here. It almost felt to Sabrina, like some grand process of elimination. What were they trying to do? What were they looking for? Sabrina didn’t know. She only knew that she was scared, and that she didn’t want to die here. So, Sabrina had to be very particular and careful about what she said and did, which made this entire conversation with her father extremely hard, and not to mention more than a little awkward.

“Sabrina, darling,” Gabriel once again broke Sabrina free of her inner musings. She had been silent a long time. “There’s someone else here who wants to speak to you.” Perhaps seeing her brother would lighten her spirits?

“Hi, jiejie!” Simon’s face suddenly popped on screen and Sabrina’s face lit up just like her father had hoped. Gabriel slowly rose from his seat so his son could sit and have a moment with his sister.

“Wǒde mā!” Sabrina declared. “What happened to my didi? I’m gone for six months and you turn into a proper gentleman on me! No more growing up until I get home, mister, where I can measure you proper!”

“Oh, that’s alright, Brin.” Simon said. “Regan’s been marking my chart for you. I’ve grown almost an entire inch since you left.” Simon beamed a smile at his sister.

Despite the joyous intention behind his words, Sabrina was stung by them; though she managed to hide it very quickly. The height charts had been their mother’s idea since Sabrina was a small child; one of the last remnants of their mother’s influence on their lives... And just one more thing Regan was taking away from her. “That’s great, bubba.” Sabrina finally managed to say.

“River never stays still when Regan tries to measure her, but we think she’s grown a couple centimeters or two.” Sabrina gave him a close lipped smile and nodded, blinking away the threat of tears. Simon paused a moment and sighed, “I miss you, Brinny.”

Sabrina sniffled, softly. “I miss you too, Simon.”

“When are you coming home? Even if it is just for a visit?” Simon asked hopefully.

Sabrina’s heart twisted and she tried to smile through the pain. Never... She thought before she cleared her throat and answered aloud, “Soon, bubba. You just have to be patient.” Sabrina glanced off screen once more. Simon, far more observant than his father, did not miss the brief glimpse of... well he couldn’t tell if it was fear, anger, disgust or a combination of all three that flashed in his sister’s eyes before the look was quickly hidden away. What could possibly make his big sister afraid?

Simon didn’t have much time to dwell on these thoughts, however, before Sabrina was speaking to him again. Though, she had adopted a serious set to her shoulders. “I’m afraid I only have so long on this thing, Simon. So I really just wanted to make sure you’re keeping your promise?”

Simon nodded emphatically, knowing exactly what she was talking about. “Of course I am!”

Sabrina smiled. “I know you’d never let me down, Simon. It’s just,” she paused. “River is very special, just as much as you. Father and... and Regan may not see it, but I know you do. So, you have to watch out for her when I’m gone, ok?”

“I promised I would, didn't I? You know I never break my promises.” Simon assured her, growing concerned from her tone; it almost sounded as if she were giving him a farewell speech, and not the “See you soon” kind of farewell, either.

“I know, bubba. I love you so much. You, River and father are the most important things in my life. Please don’t ever forget that.” Tried as she might, there was no biting back the tears that started swimming in her eyes, and Simon took notice.

“Is everything alright, Sabrina?” Simon asked with a furrowed brow. “You do not look at all well or like yourself. What’s wrong?” Sabrina suddenly swiped at her eyes as she glanced off screen again. Simon had never seen his sister panicked before so he couldn’t easily place the emotion that flashed on her face. However, if Simon could most accurately describe his older sister’s sudden change in mood, he’d definitely say she looked panicked, even frightened.

“It’s nothing, Simon. Just promise me you’ll take care of yourself and River, too. I-I have to go!” With a brief and high pitched electronic squeal, the image of his sister was suddenly cut off, only to be replaced by a black screen with the words “SIGNAL TERMINATED” blinking ominously across it.

Simon sat puzzled, staring at the screen for a long time; his young mind trying to make sense of what had just happened. One moment he had been talking happily with his sister, the next it had been as if she were panicked for her life. Something about it all did not sit well with Ariel’s brightest prodigy. Simon was highly intelligent, and despite what his father may think, that intelligence extended far beyond that of books and school.

Simon Tam was a bright and observant boy with an uncanny ability to read into things and see them for what they truly were. He knew that something was definitely not right with his sister. It was simply a matter of finding out what was wrong... But how? If there was anytime to put his cortex to good use, this was it... Simon only hoped the piece of go se kept from glitching long enough for him to be able to research anything useful.

(There you have it folks! Chapter 2! Hopefully more to come! Still working out most of the plot deets but I at least have a direction I want to take this so... Here's hoping! Thanks for reading! Don't forget to rate and/or review if you enjoyed it! :D Cheers!)

The End?

The author is currently looking for one or more beta readers for this story. If you are interested, please email the author or leave a private review.

You have reached the end of "Albatross One: The Means to Justify an Ending" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 1 Nov 12.

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