Disclaimer: Andromeda belongs to Fireworks Productions and Tribune Entertainment. It is not mine, can be considered AU in the sense that she does strike out on her own, so in that sense it might diverge from canon events.
Summary: Five Times Beka Valentine Swore She’d Jump Ship and One Time She Did
Written for the Multifandom Five Times Big Bang and will feature Beka Valentine,
“The Other Left, or how to Avoid Becoming Hopelessly Lost in Slipstream” by karrenia
Straight out of the gate they had and tacit understanding that she would not salute and she would not call him captain.
Considering the fact that his only crew at the time had consisted of the holo-avatar and the ship’s avatar of the same Dylan Hunt had taken those conditions with remarkably good grace.
Sure, there had been the usual shake-down of the new and unproven crew aboard a former Commonwealth High Guard ship, but Beka knew herself and she knew her crew; they had sheer grit and determination exuding out of every pore. To her way of thinking Dylan owed them, for saving his skin when they had hauled the Andromeda Ascendant out from the event horizon of a singularity.
Still, a part of her missed the old days aboard the Eureka Maru, that ship had been both home and a means of livelihood for as long as she could remember, and it did tend to grate on her last nerve every time that circumstances dictated that it be put in harm’s way.
Sure, weighing the pros and cons of the situation it had made sense at the time, her ship was smaller, more maneuverable, and with all the jury-rigging Seamus Harper had done over the years in terms of maintenance, upgrades and what not; it also had a lot more firepower than any ship of its classification had a right to have.
That being said, this gig with Dylan Hunt had its merits, had its opportunities, and it was a remarkably comfortable living. A Valentine was worth nothing so much as her word
For that matter, she had always made a habit of moving forward and never looking back. By her reckoning if you stayed in any one place for too long you either ended becoming stalled or something or someone would eventually grind you down. Beka Valentine had no intentions of succumbing to either scenario.
Still, when her father showed up out of the blue without so much as a warning, she’d been furious. If there was thing that she had never discussed much with Harper, or even her Wayist friend, Rev Bem, or even the enigmatic yet endearing Trance Gemini; was the promise that she had made to herself a very long time ago. She would not end up like her father, she would not become addicted the designer and very expensive drug known as flash.
She knew the risks posed by taking Flash. She had seen what it had done to her father, sure it gave you a high, put your adrenaline, reflexes and perceptions up to a heightened state that you felt like you were on top of the world; but it was quick acting and wore off just as rapidly. The crash afterwards, well, in word, was bad, very bad.
She told herself that she could stop and start any time that she wanted, but even as she did so the logical, clinical part of her brain insisted that was merely her way of rationalizing the need to take the drug in order to keep all her senses alert and functioning during the long haul through slipstream. Dylan and the convoy of allied ships had been counting on her to navigate all of them safely through
‘Oh, sure,’ Beka thought, ‘I suppose I could have managed without the drug, but I’d been given a very strict time-table and was it pride and stubbornness that drove me to it?’
She sighed and slumped into a loose-limbed sprawl in the pilot’s chair of the Andromeda Ascendant, thankful for once that she had offered to take the late night watch. Even if the avatar or ship’s android were around and monitoring, it still could not read her mind.
“I guess, we’ll never know for sure, and it’s not like we could go back in time and do it all over again.” Beka grinned.
The visibility in Beka Valentine’s quarters is nigh pitch-black but he can hear her breathing: a dry heave actually, punctuated every now and again by choking sobs and bitter recriminations.
He has known her for a very long time and that insight tells him as much as she may wish to push them all away right now; what she needs is a friend. Yes, the others have tried and have done the equivalent of throwing up their hands and saying that you can’t help someone who does not wish to be helped.
Rev is a Wayist, and odd career and lifestyle choice for one of his specie; added to that is the knowledge that he may be as alone in that choice as makes no difference. He enter Beka’s quarters his eyes quickly adjusting to the change in lighting from the brightly corridors to the semi-darkness and pads quietly along to where he last heard her.
He found her sitting on the ground with her back against the wall. As he had both feared and anticipated she is in the throes of withdrawal symptoms from an over-dose of the designer drug known as Flash.
“Beka.” He whispered her name as softly as he can but with the intention of getting her meandering attention.
“Go away,” she muttered. The intent is there if not the conviction.
He crouched down beside her and began to gently brush the blond wisps of hair away from her eyes.
“Rev,” she muttered. “Ironic isn’t, that I’m always the one who has it all together, but right now I feel like I’ve been shattered into a million pieces.”
“I have always believed that the Devine loves us best at the broken times. You know I will do everything I can to help you through this, we all will. Do not lose sight of that.”
Beka heaved a shuddering sight that nearly shook her entire slender frame. "I know that you mean well, and I before I forget to mention it, thank you. It hurts; I never imagined that something that used to feel so good could hurt this much."
"I will tell you what I told Harper, a credo that I have found useful in my own life. My pain belongs to the Divine. It is like air, it is like water."
"Rev, I don't know if it will help, but thanks anyway, for just being here, for being you."
"I shall always endeavor to do so, always."
“Thanks, Rev. I mean it, I don’t know what I did to deserve….” She trailed off.
“Hush,” he said laying a furry hand on her wrist. “Just you need to rest.
Beka drew a ragged breath and then another, one after another, her shallow breathing gradually relaxing and her rapid heartbeat once more something resembling normal and he watched her eyelids flutter close and she got much needed sleep.
The second time she had seriously considered jumping ship may have had more to do with their resident Nietzchean weapons officer than it did Beka. And yet she was not at all certain if, in the grand scheme of things, what the actual percentages were. And at the moment she does not really care all that much.
In fact what hurt the most was the impression that Tyr had only been stringing her along, playing on her emotions, as if it was all a game to him. Oh, she was a realist enough that she had more than likely done her share of leading him on. Tyr once told her that as a Nietzchean that he could never be attracted to a human female and she had taken not so much as an insult but as a challenge.
Now that he too, had jumped ship, and taken her against her free will to literal belly of the beast, namely the heart of the Magog-world ship; now that the dust had settled and she was capable of looking back at how he used her, used Dylan and the crew in order to advance his own ends, Beka had to wonder if Tyr had been merely arrogant, self-centered and ambitious, but also just a little bit fore-sighted.
She hated being used, hated that Tyr might have been lying to her from the very beginning, but hey, that sort of was the nature of the push-pull game that they had enjoyed playing with each other.
And in the back of her mind Beka had to admit that she did have a frequent tendency to fall for the alpha male, bad-boy types. He had left a holo-graphic message, as if that made up for the fact of his leaving. Still, was he leaving her, or the ship or Dylan, or some combination of all of the above?
Following closely on the heels of ‘that’ particular thought, it suddenly occurred to her with the impact of a sucker punch to the gut, “That it would not be the first time something or someone like Tyr Anasazi would come along and get her hyped up only to string her along and discard when he no longer had any use for her.
“It’s not like I really mind the whole ‘love-em and leave-em types, but it hurts, But damn it, Tyr! I really thought that you were different.”
His tacit rejection and the more obvious betrayal of their trust would hurt for a while; of that, she had no doubt whatsoever. ‘Life happened; she thought, as she pounded a clenched fist into her pillow, you dealt with it and moved on.’
"Take this Mission and Shove It
The third time she swore she would jump ship was the when she began to count all the times that Dylan Hunt, pragmatic, assess the risks and find them acceptable, put her beloved Eureka Maru in harm’s way. She loved that ship, for years up until she hauled both his ship and his rear-end out of an event horizon of a black hole; that freighter had been her home. More so than any other place that had served as a temporary living quarters for her and her crew.
She had confronted him on it, any number of times, and she could have sworn that the furious rages to which his bland, logical reasoning provoked in her that he actually enjoyed them.
“Damn you!” she exclaimed.
“Well, hello to you to you,” Dylan murmured. “To what do I owe this particular little ray of sunshine?”
What with all her skill and experience in navigating through slipstream, which was considerable, thank you very much; she still felt that she had not quite found her niche.
Dylan needed her, her crew, for his damn mission. And if she were being honest with herself, Beka could take pride in that fact. However, after a while she still could not quite lay a finger on what it was about Dylan that made her stay as long as she had, or maybe it was not that mission per se, but the man behind the mission. He had charisma, vision, and wherewithal to see that mission through. Added to the fact, yeah, the Andromeda Ascendant was a nice ship, with a lot of fire power and it’s an absolute pilot’s dream to fly. So, why do I feel like I still don’t belong?
“Want a list?” Beka snarled.
“It might help,” he replied.
“Okay, let me start by saying that Maru is my ship, and you had no right putting it harm’s way. Second, if you were going to do it anyway, why didn’t you ask me first?”
At least he had the grace to look a bit abashed by the implied rebuke and held her gaze for a moment before he glanced down at the deck and then back up at her. “You know, I think the fact of the matter is that while I realized it was your ship, the thing of it is that you and Harper, and Tyr and the others have been a part of my crew so long that I just automatically assumed it was part of the ship’s assets.”
“That’s not the only asset that I might want to kick out,” she muttered under her breath.
“You’re angry, I get that,” Dylan replied. “Would it help if I said I was sorry?”
“No, yes, maybe. Oh, what the hell!”
Dylan nodded. “I’m glad we had this talk.”
“You bastard,” Beka replied, glaring daggers at him. “Sometimes I think you’re really that oblivious at other times I think you display a certain low cunning.”
“In your current mood,” Dylan replied with a narrow-slit grin that would not have been out of place on the proverbial cat that ate the canary. “I think I will take that as a left-handed compliment.
“You would,” she replied. “And it is.”
“Do you always have to have the last word?” he asked.
“Yeah, pretty much.” Just promise me one thing, moving forward,” she replied.
“Anything,” he said emphatically.
“Next time you feel the urge to place the Eureka Maru into the line of fire; ask me first.”
A Piece of the Action
‘Say what you will about her younger brother, Rafe. Beka shook her head in mingled severity and fondness at her estranged and incorrigible sibling’s penchant for getting into trouble, right when it appeared as if the next
big score was in the offing only to see go fizzling by the wayside.
Still, as irritated as she had been by Rafe, even when they were younger and they had seriously played at the game of one-man-up. It was a game as much as necessary survival tool; not just with each other but also as a means of holding their unpredictable and volatile father’s attention. Now, that they were adults the game had evolved into a kind of tug-of-war between them which they had likened to Valentine Smart, Valentine Smarter.
In fact, she had even enjoyed it immensely, when it didn’t irritate her.
When they had gone their separate ways neither had much use for looking back or holding onto useless grudges, so when Rafe came back she had automatically assumed he’d been looking to make the next big score.
Which he had but when it came to Rafe Valentine nothing was ever quite as it appeared, or that simple. It suddenly occurred to her that maybe, just maybe, the problem of feeling that those she cared about were slipping away from her, or that she pushed them away. Maybe the problem lay with the others.’
Still, even as she stood watch on the bridge, sprawled rather than seated erect in the pilot’s chair, “What difference does it make?”
Take this Mission and Shove it
Finally, it’s a case of where she has to think that while it’s been a hell of a ride, there comes a time when she has to look out for number one and if her friends and former crew-mates from her Eureka Maru days want to jump ship with her.. ”Well,” she remarked aloud, “that their choice and their look-out. Can’t say that I would blame all that much you did leave and I won’t force them to make a choice one way or the other, but I think it’s best for all of us to get out while we still can.”
“Have you discussed this with Dylan?” Harper, of course, is the first to find voice for raising questions, concerns, and opinions on just about any subject imaginable, even one that might conceivably alter the status quo aboard the Andromeda.
“Yeah, I have,” Beka replied.
“What did he say?” Trance asked quietly, knowing that the crew was still not quite as sanguine as they might wish for her to believe given the radical alternation in her appearance; from her more youthful, bubbly version to her adult golden and serious incarnation.
Deep down where it truly mattered, she was aware that the change had been necessary under the circumstances, despite the risks. Going into the exchange she had asked her younger self whether or not she knew and accepted those risks and had been almost one hundred percent certain that her younger self did so.
Still, there were times, some isolated, some more frequent that Trance Gemini asked herself whether or not she had done the right thing. Beka was a dear and close friend; she had done what she had to prevent the outcome of sidereal timeline where Beka’s life was on the line. In fact, there was an encounter during that near-disaster where Beka had come face to face with, well, not quite a doppelganger, but an alternate future version of herself, as a cyborg.
She had not wished to go into details about that encounter and Trance had not wished to press her on the matter, still, it could not have been pleasant, and although she harbored a good amount of curiosity, she knew that deep down if Beka did not want to open up about how she felt, then there was no budging a Valentine when she absolutely refused to be budged. That innate stubbornness had seen Beka Valentine through any number of fights; and even to the last, Trance would stand by her best friend, no matter what.
“What you might expect. She sighed and then brushed a hand through her hair. “Look, I know it might look that I’m jumping ship, which I am, in a way, but it’s not that I don’t believe in the mission or what Dylan’s trying to accomplish. I just think it’s time I, or rather we, went our separate ways.”
“Bet that went over like a lead balloon,” Harper remarked, the acting ship’s engineer favored anachronistic old-Earth expressions and he looked down at the deck below his booted feet, at the walls, at the screens where the ship’s holographic image looked on. And then at the avatar, who stood with her arms akimbo and if an avatar was capable of expressing emotion, then the look on her face could only be described as disappointment mixed with regret.
“I would hate to lose all of you,” Rommie stated quietly.
“Romm-doll,” Harper drawled, “It’s not like you’re losing us. Right, we’ll stay in touch. Come on now. I don’t want to leave; I mean this gig has been the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Harper,” Rommie said. “Should I be capable of this organic reaction, than I would have to admit that you are making me blush.”
“He does have that effect on those of the opposite sex,” Trance murmured.
“Not helping, Trance!” Beka scoffed.
“Uh, ladies!” Harper protested in mock-offended dignity and outrage. “Come on! Give a guy a break!”
“Then you’ve made your decision to come along, Harper?” Beka asked.
“Yeah, I think I have,” Harper said in a more subdued tone of voice. “We’re taking the Maru and striking out on our own, then?”
Beka paused and did not immediately answer Harper’s question. “With the modifications and upgrades that you’ve made to her over the years, I believe that we’ll be back in the game, and besides we’ve got a reputation now.”
“Better than the one we had before?” Trance asked.
“Yeah, as much as I hate to admit it, our old reputation was well, skivvy at best. Now, we’re golden.”
“Have you given any thought what you’ll do on your own? Were you planning on going back to being salvagers?” Rommie asked.
“No, well thanks to Captain Dylan Hunt, as much as may owe him. And I, we all owe him quite a bit, that good-will ambassador, for the common good has rubbed off on all of us.
“He wants to restore the Commonwealth, unite the peoples of the galaxy,” Harper added.
“Yeah, I believed in his cause, I just can’t keep doing it anymore.” Beka sighed. “I don’t know quite how to explain it and I’m sorry that I’m not putting this very well, but….
“Do all of you feel this way?” Rommie asked.
Harper and Trance exchanged a significant glance, one which Rommie could not fail to miss or miss the implied implications. “Yes.” They replied almost simultaneously.
“Then it’s settled. I shall relay to the Captain, effective immediately, your resignation from active duty.” Rommie replied, her tone of voice flat and emphatic.
Harper who had spent much time getting the avatar to resemble something that was as close as a High Guard Commonwealth ship’s avatar could simulate human emotions and expressions, felt as though he might break down and cry. “It’s not long we’re abandoning you, Rommie. We can always come back and visit.
“I would like that,” Rommie replied. “Now, if you will excuse me. I have matters to which I must attend.”
There followed a moment of awkward silence, clearing of throats, and shuffling of feet, before Beka finally muttered, more to herself than anyone else, “Well, that went over better than I had expected.”
“What were you expecting?” Harper demanded.
“Don’t bug me, Harper. Not now. If we’re going to do this thing, then we’ve got a lot of work to do in the next seventy two hours.”
“Sure, Sure. You got it, Boss!” Harper said then pivoted on his heel and stalked down the corridor to his quarters but stopped on the way there in Machine Shop Three where he began to pack tools, equipment, and sundry items that might need when they left. He was about half-way through this process, when took a glance around and quietly whispered to the walls, “I’m going to miss you, old gal. We’ve had some good times together. Promise me, one thing; don’t ever forget your Harper, because I definitely will never forget you.”
So softly that it was almost barely perceptible a response came back, “I promise.”
Harper grinned and then left the Machine Shop carrying several boxes of tools, supplies and other items.
Beka stood on the viewing platform addressing a crowd at least a few hundred strong cheering and heaving like the waves of an ocean. With her hands clenched tight over the molded leather sides of the lectern she had to wonder how someone like her had managed to become not only the focus of attention for the masses, but actually sought after to give these damn speeches.
Not for the first time Beka cursed Dylan and his crusade, his magnetism and his charisma that had somehow without her quite being consciously aware of it, had rubbed off on her. Now she whether she wished it or no, she was asked to give good-will speeches in order to promote the creation of the new Commonwealth.
“Uh, Ladies and Gentlemen, and envoys from all the nations, as some of you may or may not be aware, I am not Dylan Hunt, nor do I ever aspire to be him, or like him. I’m just me. That being said, I both respect and admire what he’s trying to accomplish.”
“But the rumors going around say that you jumped ship, left him in the lurch.”
A man who sported a silk shirt and tie elbowed his way through the crowd until he came right up to the edge of the stage. With his arm upraised and a micro-phone in one hand he got right up into her face. Ignoring the subtle and not so-subtle efforts of the planet’s security detail he got right up into Beka’s face.
“My statement remains, I believe in Dylan and his mission. I just felt that it was time we went our separate ways. And the only person I feel that I have to justify myself and my actions to, is myself.”
“Is it true, that you once believed that his crusade to restore the Commonwealth would do more harm than good?” another reporter asked.
“Maybe, maybe,” Beka nodded. “But the fact that we’re here, even having this discussion proves that it’s possible. At least seven worlds have already become signatories of the new Commonwealth and it’s likely that an eighth will soon join. So, in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, que sera sera. And that’s all I have to say.”
The facilitator of the event appeared both amused and disgruntled by Beka Valentine’s famous cavalier and fierce approach that she had taken to her presence, body-language and her actual speech, but to his way of thinking, it has gone over spectrally well, and nothing had blown up, shot at. In his book, Marco Palermo, thought, I count this as a win.’
Noticing that Palermo’s attention was focused on her Beka offered him a grim, yet determined smile and then gave him a thumbs-up sign. “Marco, get me out of her, I could use a good stiff drink.”
“Of course, Beka, dear, of course,” Marco replied agreeably. He was no fool; he had gone into the event having done an exhaustive amount of research, as much as could legally be obtained by the head of a planetary system without hacking into secured files. The crew of the Eureka Maru had a chequered past, smuggles, salvages, and who knew what else.
However, their time among the crew of the Andromeda Ascendant seemed to have changed everyone involved with her and her captain; apparently for the better. “If you would not mind, I think I will join for the drink. I think we have much to celebrate.”
“Lead the way, Marco.” Beka stepped toward him and offered him another of her trade-marked dazzling smiles.
An Incident along a Poorly Defended Border
When Beka got back to her quarters, a bit woozy from the amount of champagne that she had drunk, she went to over to the faucet and splashed water on her face and then brushed her teeth and looked forward to going to bed. It had been a long day, and until recently she had never been one much for crowds and speeches, and honestly she would have been most at home aboard a ship rather than on the surface of a planet, but either way, the accommodations on Viridan IV were very nice.
She turned around and left the bathroom and went into the bedroom when, out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of someone moving in and out of the shadows. All of her senses on alert Beka wished that she had not had to leave her weapons in a case in the Prime Minister’s office.
Still, she might have been mistaken and that fatigue and alcohol may very well have been acting to make her think that she was seeing things that were not there. “Still,” she whispered, “There’s no reason to take chances.”
She glided forward, careful to make no sound as her bare feet crossed the heavily plush carpet and waited for the figure to cross back into the slanting moonlight that came in through one of the windows.
When it did she rushed forward and tackled it, the force and speed of the movement landing them both on top of the bed. She held the slight but sinewy figure down in a tight grip refusing to let go, hearing the breath rasp in and out of his lungs. She could tell that whoever and whatever the intruder was who had managed to slip into a locked room; he was male, because under her grip his Adam’s apple was bobbing up and down like a cork in a water barrel.
“Hey, Sis,” the stranger remarked as if he was not slowly being choked to death. “Nice, uh, uhh, to see to you, too.”
“Rafe!” She exclaimed. She released her grip all in one smooth motion and hauled off the bed and then flung him onto the floor.
He lay there sprawled for a few seconds as he got his wind back and looked up at her.
“Didn’t I say that I’d find you again?” You did get my letter, didn’t you?”
“I really don’t need this right now!”
“Yeah, I know. The thing of is, you’ve earned yourself quite a reputation not to mention an entourage, and I must say, even with someone of my capabilities, getting in to see you has been, well, difficult to say the least.”
“The very least.”
“Now, now, don’t be like that. I can’t say that I was, well, the last time we parted, under the circumstances, I admired you for sticking to your guns, for taking the high road. Honestly, I mean it.
He flashed her one of the his trade-mark stock grins, the effort to do so stretching the mobile lines of his face and a life-time’s experience in interpreting both the expressions that altered his face and eyes, that Rafe Valentine could seemingly wear like masks, put on and discard seemingly at will, whatever the situation and circumstances; she felt he was sincere, at least sincere enough for him.
“What do you want?” She sighed.
“I’ve got a proposition, and I think that once that you’ve heard what it is, that you’ll want in on it, too.
“Look, It’s been a hell of a long day, and I’m frankly exhausted,” Beka replied. “Whatever it is, can’t it wait until morning?”
“No, no, not at all. You see it’s like this. I think I’ve finally learned what you must’ve, because otherwise you wouldn’t have struck out on your own.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“I mean, why else would you have jumped ship?” he said.
“I mean left the Andromeda.”
“I had my reasons,” Beka replied defensively.
“Exactly. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve come to realize that I’ve been spinning my wheels, looking for the next big score , and although I don’t like to too to my own horn,” he had the grace to look sheepish, but the expression quickly vanished as rapidly as it had appeared. “I can only go so far on my own.
“I don’t believe in going backward only moving forward. So, if you’re suggesting that we team up again,
“No, no, I understand you’ve gone legit, hell, you’re even being wined and dine by signed and potentially signees of the restored commonwealth. I want in.”
“Oh, hell, that has got to be the singular most insane thing that I have ever heard you say, and you’ve said some insane things in your time.”
Rafe nodded. “I know, I know. So what’s it to be?”
“I’m tired and drunk and not thinking very clearly and I think the others would be suitably and appropriately appalled by the very idea.”
“So, will you do it?”
Suddenly, she felt as she may very well cast caution to the wind, that finding her niche was wherever time and circumstance and her own skills might take her, and the Mara, as well. With a wolfish smile that was almost but not quite an echo of her younger brother’s, she replied. “Sure, why not?”
He actually jumped up and bounced like an eager puppy, but she knew him too well, to be taken in by the eager look. In the meantime, I figure you must have more than a few bounties on that devious head of yours.
“A few,” he admitted.
“So, go hide in the closet. I’m going to sleep.”
Beka leaned back in the padded leather seat of the pilot’s chair aboard the Eureka Maru and placed her arms at the back of her head, allowing the auto-pilot to take over for the moment.
At first neither Harper or Rev had been at all that thrilled with the inclusion of another member, especially one with the track record of Rafael Valentine, but they had come around eventually. Still, she had committed to striking out on her own; it was rather late in the game to be second-guessing herself now.
Dylan may want her back at some time and she might even considering going back, however, she would have to consider the pros and cons, not to mention a few other concessions before she would go back. However, right now she more than enjoyed spreading her wings and keeping her horizons open for new adventures. And she thought much the same was true of Harper and Rev as well.
Later on, perhaps tomorrow she would let her younger brother know in no uncertain terms what she expected from him, as a crew member and not as an incorrigible and unreliable sibling. For now, she figured that tomorrow was a new day, and she would take each day as it came.