the measure of trust


Beka had spat at him and screamed curses, damning him for a treacherous bastard as they dragged her away - to death or slavery he hadn't enquired.

Dylan had dropped brittle frozen words edged with hurt fury, still disbelieving he had once more been betrayed. Unable to accept that his Systems Commonwealth would undoubtedly fall again, collapsing inwards once it was known he was dead and the Andromeda Ascendant in Nietzschean hands.

Trance had vanished, not even the most thorough search team able to find her, and in some strange way he was more relieved that she had escaped than if it had been any of the others.

The avatar was now just a heap of scrap metal in a corridor on level 12.

And the last prisoner...the last prisoner looked at Tyr with steady blue eyes and for once in his life was silent.

"Nothing to say, little man? No diatribe on my betrayal of your trust?"

Even to himself the words sounded bitter, the canker in the apple already making itself apparent to him, now that the Jaguar had what they wanted, and Kodiak had what he wanted. Harper stood there silently, and for long moments Tyr thought the human would say nothing. Then he spoke quietly.

"You've never betrayed the measure of trust I have for you."

Tyr sneered, certain of Harper's forthcoming insult.

"And just how far does that measure go?"

"I trust you to make it quick."

Not for the first time, Tyr was struck by the fact that for someone who usually wriggled out from under Death's thumb by begging, whining and screaming, there were instances when Harper shone with a pure indomitable dignity.

A dignity that would be stripped from him by the Nietzschean interrogators. Because Harper was too dangerous to use as an engineer, and too well known to leave unbroken.

Tyr reached out, ran a hand through the wild blonde hair, found it as soft as it had always looked. Leaned over, tasted the lips and found them as sweet as he'd always thought they would be.

"You were right to trust me, Harper."

He said, and pulled the trigger.

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