Tempting Fate

by Zoe

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Tempting Fate

Dear Keith,

You probably won't ever read this. If you are, then either something really drastic has happened or else I actually sent this off to you in a fit of temporary insanity. Which, I suppose, would be drastic in itself.

(I know: "Since when is it 'temporary' insanity, Lance?" Look, just humor me, okay? Writing this kind of stuff down is hard, you know, even if you're not going to see it.)

Actually, I'm not sure why I'm even writing this. I mean, it's not as if I don't know all this stuff anyway, and it's not as if anyone besides me's going to read it, or would want to - especially after today's battle. But in a way, it's kind of comforting - sort of 'talking' to you without actually speaking to you, explaining things I can't tell you to your face because you'd either laugh at me or turn away in disgust. And entirely risk-free.

That'd surprise you, wouldn't it? Reckless, irresponsible me, prone to taking on entire enemy squadrons by myself, terrified of the risks inherent in one stupid little letter. Laughable, isn't it? It's true, though. Rejection's not something I've ever been able to handle well, least of all from people I... respect. And I do have a lot of respect for you, even if I don't show it. It's just - I don't know. It's so much easier to just push you away, to keep you at arm's length so it hurts less when...

I don't want to think about that. Except I can't help BUT.

I can't blame you for being furious with me. I know I shouldn't have broken formation to go after those fighters. I know it made things harder on the rest of you. I know it was a stupid, reckless, dangerous thing to do in the heat of battle. I KNOW it could have gotten me killed. I know, I know, I KNOW!

I also know that the third fighter I took out was going to plow into Black Lion's skull on a suicide run.

I'm painfully aware that you don't believe in my "hunches." I can't say as I really blame, you, either - even I doubt myself sometimes after I rattle off another out-of-the-blue prediction that sounds wildly improbable even to me. True precogs are extremely rare in most cases, and it's ludicrous to think that the Academy would let one wander around undetected for years, much less send him out to a relative backwater like Arus under the command of a talented but almost completely untested captain. So no, I can't blame you at all for dismissing me as a paranoid headcase at the best of times.

I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt like All Hells, though. I mean, you accept Alfor's advice readily enough - and he's DEAD. Hells, you even take the bloody SPACE MICE at face value! Why is it so hard to listen to me?

No, don't answer that... I probably don't want to know anyway.

Of course, there's a lot about me that you probably don't want to know either...

Do you know what they used to call me in the dorms, before I transferred into the Space Explorer program?


I hated it, of course, before I knew what it meant. As far as I knew, it was just another stupidly homophobic slur, one of many I've heard over the years - you did know about my sexuality when you allowed me on the team, right? I've always wondered about that, though I never did have the guts to ask you outright. At any rate, after a few too many pointless fights I finally did some research. It took some doing - there isn't a lot of information on obscure, long-dead Terran religions in the Academy's databanks - but I finally found what I was looking for. And you know what?

I hated the name even more.

I told myself for a long time that I just hated the myth because of Cassandra's abject stupidity - I mean, really, who'd be dumb enough to ASK for a "gift" like this? Forget tangling with the gods, which is ALWAYS an incredibly stupid thing to do - why bring this kind of torment on yourself? Why condemn yourself to a lifetime of weeping and raging as you watch people you love more than life itself die and die and die and there's nothing, NOTHING you can do about it because nobody believes you anyway?

Um, yeah, I do tend to relate a little excessively. And besides which, Apollo was slime.

So no, I don't really hate Cassandra herself. Not for lack of trying, of course - I really did want to detest the little idiot. Stupid, stupid, STUPID woman, trying to put herself on equal or better footing with a god, making a fool's bargain and for what? A too-short life full of suffering, madness and death. Even I know better not to try something like that! Except... except...

Except we have far too much in common, that thing with Apollo aside. Hells, she might just as well BE me, howling out useless warnings that fall on utterly deaf ears, screaming inside as yet another nightmare comes to pass despite our best efforts, wishing that just once, just ONE LOUSY TIME, we could be completely wrong about something, that the visions could be completely false for a change -

Wait a minute - which of us was I talking about again?

So anyway, Cassandra. I've always been amazed that she never up and jumped off a cliff or something one day - gods know, I've certainly entertained the notion more than once. It gets wearing after a while, all these visions and dreams - and they're never HAPPY, either. I mean, I get tired of the endless parade of deaths and dismemberments playing across my mind's eye like some hallucinogenic snuff movie. I don't WANT to have any more nightmares about exploding Lions or crucified teammates or what have you - I'm so sick of watching every one of you die over and over in various unpleasant fashions. After all, there are far, far more pleasant dreams I can have about you...

Okay, let's just leave that thought right where it is. I'm in enough trouble with you already.

If you were reading this - I should probably say still reading this, after that little non-revelation - you'd no doubt argue that I'm overreacting. After all, it's not like any of this has actually come true, right? And of course, then I'd have to slap you, because do you have ANY godsdamned IDEA how hard I work to keep it that way!? You're always telling me that I need to show more consideration for "the welfare of the team." Well, honey, you have NO idea what I go through for you people! I don't remember the last time I got a decent night's sleep - it has literally been years since I've gotten more than four hours' worth a night, and those could hardly be called restful. You might want to think about that next time you ream me out for sleeping through my alarm or being particularly short-tempered some morning.

You wonder why I skip meals all the time? Well, if it's breakfast, I'm probably still nauseous from the last nightmare. If it's lunch, then I'm most likely having sporadic flashes of something-or-other as a prelude to yet another attack from Doom. And if it's dinner, well, chances are I'm either puking my guts out post-battle or fighting off a vision-induced migraine. I don't even want to think about how much weight I've lost since we arrived on Arus, or how many ulcers I've developed in the meantime. I'm tired, I'm stressed, I'm sick - quite frankly, it's a wonder I haven't suffered a total nervous collapse by now.

If you knew even half of this, you'd probably ground me immediately and send me off to Dr. Gorma. Actually, I probably should go see him - at the very least, I should let him give me some sort of sedative, because as exhausted as I am some days, I probably shouldn't be flying at all. But if I did that, then I might miss something, some threat that will be the death of one or more of you. And I'd never be able to live with myself if I let even one of you die just because I wanted a night's sleep - I'd sooner put a gun to my own head than allow that to happen. Except that I still wouldn't be able to protect any of you, which would kind of defeat the purpose, wouldn't it? At least this way, I can still be of use to you - though you probably don't see it that way.

I don't know... maybe I shouldn't be doing any of this. Maybe I'm just delaying the inevitable. Maybe I'm even making things worse, warping the natural course of events more and more each time I interfere with them, ensuring even worse disasters for you all down the line when things "correct" themselves. But I just can't bring myself to accept that. I can't lose you - I can't lose any of you. I'll do anything to prevent that, and if I damn myself in the process, then so be it.

And I don't think Cassandra would have had it any other way.


- L.

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