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"Kinship"

Kinship

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15

This story is in progress.

Kinship

Part Seven

Wearily, Hank McCoy rubbed his eyes, then replaced his glasses on the bridge of his nose. That accomplished, he returned to perusing the latest status report. Although the starship's engines were still down, the eight castaways had made enormous progress.

It shouldn't be too long before we're on our way again. he thought hopefully.

And a good thing, too -- over two months of non-stop repair work after near-disaster at the hands of the unknown alien craft had taken their toll on everyone.

Overwork and cabin fever -- not a very felicitous combination.

While the bulk of their efforts had gone into the engines, many subsidiary projects had been completed as well. The ship's active and passive defenses were all operational, as were the astrogation systems. As well, they had managed to repair or reinforce both the hull and the life support modules. All in all, they had a lot to be proud of -- despite everything, they had managed to function like a well-oiled machine.

Hank smiled at the thought.

Even my similes aren't straying from the realm of the mechanical...

Nonetheless, the comparison was appropriate, and in some cases, downright surprising.

Trish had shown an entire side of herself that he had never even known existed when she dove into the rewiring project, and had shown herself to be a supremely competent electrician.

"When I was just starting out in TV," she had explained, "I worked at a really small station with an even smaller budget. All they could afford was used equipment, most of it was old, and we couldn't spare the cash for regular maintenance. Stuff broke down about every other time you used it. So given the choice between missing every deadline and learning electronics, I learned electronics. Never thought it'd pay off this way, though."

"You mean you never thought you'd be marooned in space with a gang of outlaw mutants, a borderline psychotic pretender to an alien throne, and a complete stranger who definitely takes the theme of chivalry to previously unknown heights? Your lack of foresight comes as a shock to me, my dear..." he deadpanned.

"Yeah, well colour me shortsighted," she said, smiling.

"Pass me the wirecutters."

Beast grinned at the memory.

Certainly, the newswoman's previously unknown expertise had come in handy -- but the biggest surprise had been Deathbird.

The Shi'ar viceroy was ruthless, power-driven, and openly contemptuous of the human companions with whom she had been forced to travel ... but she knew a thing or three about starship engineering. And given her haughty demeanour, her willingness to get her hands dirty working alongside the rest of them came as something of a shock, albeit a welcome one.

Hmmm ... perhaps Bishop is having some kind of positive effect on her, if that's not too much to hope.

The mutant from the future had an extremely low tolerance for Deathbird's pretentions, and was not at all reluctant to let her know it. In return, despite her anger, she respected him for standing up to her -- Deathbird dealt with confrontation far better than with compromise. With her disdain for anything she perceived as weakness,  it was perhaps understandable that it was so. Certainly when looking at Bishop, the word 'weak' did not readily spring to mind ...

The others had also made valuable contributions to the repair effort -- but perhaps none more so than their unexpected guest, Nomi Sunrider.

The Jedi woman had an uncanny knack for finding problem areas -- and not just in the technology. Whenever sparks threatened to fly between any of the castaways, she quietly interposed herself and defused the situation -- often without the involved parties realizing that that was what she was doing. Certainly, a great deal of the efficiency that had brought them this far could be attributed to her skills as a moderator.

A skill which strangely enough, she had not once had to exercise with her pupil ...

Prior to this trip, Beast never would have believed it possible that Gambit could spend over two months in close quarters with Joseph without one or both of them requiring medical attention, but so it was. More, the Cajun's hostility toward his rival had noticeably decreased during that time. In fact, Gambit had relaxed enough to even joke with the man on occasion. Joseph hadn't known what to make of Remy's change in attitude at first, but was tentatively returning the friendly overtures which Gambit had made.

Wonders will never cease ... I wonder if perhaps those meditative routines of theirs have something to do with it ? Hank mused.

Beast had walked in on Remy while he was meditating once. It was ... an experience -- even for someone as accustomed to unusual sights as Henry McCoy.

Hank had been going from cabin to cabin, dropping off the latest repair assignments. When he arrived at Gambit's door, his gentle knock was greeted with an answer from within.

"C' mon in, Henri ... "

By now, Beast was used to that -- apparently, the Force provided an almost telepathic awareness of one's surroundings -- so Hank was unfazed by Remy knowing who it was before the door was opened. However, he couldn't say the same for what he saw when he entered the room.

Gambit was sitting cross-legged, his hands on his knees, eyes closed in peaceful concentration -- that looked normal enough.

Except for the fact he wasn't sitting on anything -- Remy was hovering a good two feet above his bunk. And though it may have been the lighting in the room, Henry could have sworn that he had briefly glimpsed a pale blue light surrounding the younger mutant.

For one of the few times in his life, Beast was at a loss for words.

"Y' going t' stand dere starin' all night, or are you goin' to give me my list for tomorrow?" Remy asked in a teasing voice.

Gambit's eyes were open now, and they regarded Hank with the warm glow of amusement.

He chuckled softly.

"I shall of course do my duty and deliver the list, although I take exception to the accusation of staring. I was merely undertaking a casual scientific observation of a phenomenon with which I was previously unacquainted."

"Y' were staring."

Grinning, Beast made a dismissive wave of his hand.

"Po-tay-to, po-tah-to ... but seriously -- how does one manipulate the Force? Is it an internal or external operation? Telekinetics manipulate objects by visualizing them -- is that what you're doing?"

Hank couldn't restrain his curiosity -- if he could, he never would have become a scientist. This 'Force' intrigued him no end -- it apparently had no genetic marker, so it differed substantially from the X-factor which was causative of mutant powers. And unlike the conventional natural forces which he dealt with, it had no fundamental component -- be it a quark, monopole, graviton, or other -- which could be used to somehow identify it, directly or indirectly. Faced with such a phenomenon, Beast's natural inquisitiveness was in overdrive -- he simply had to know more about it, and how it worked.

Gambit smiled.

"Non -- it ain' like that. Jus' now, I'm not t'inkin' 'bout floating, or whatever it is dat Jeannie does wit' her TK. I jus' thinking 'bout balance ... an' here I am," he replied, shrugging his shoulders.

"Balance?"

"Oui -- an' before y' ask me what kind, lemme ask you dis: ain' every man's life a balancin' act?"

"Touchť ... " McCoy replied with a thoughtful frown, deciding to leave that line of inquiry for now.

"And my other question?"

"Y' mean if I'm channelling somet'ing inside m'self, or outside ? De answer is neither -- both, if anything. Kind o' flows 'round ya and through y' at the same time."

"Most interesting ... and can you somehow perceive the Force, even when you aren't using it?"

This actually provoked Remy into a soft laugh.

"Kind o' hard t' miss it, when it all around ya."

"So ... you can actually see it?" Hank continued eagerly.

Gambit looked thoughtful.

"Non ... y' can't see it. It's jus' ... there, dat's all."

"Not exactly the descriptive answer I had hoped for ..."

"Hank, you can' see the air y' breathe, but you know it's there 'cause y' breathin' ... de Force is like that."

"Almost like an involuntary response? Do you think that's why you can talk to me and still ... do whatever it is you're doing at the same time?"

Remy shook his head as he replied.

"Non -- don' I wish ... dat's six weeks o' Nomi's teachin' and a lot of practice. If y' came in on me two weeks ago, I would've lost m' concentration an' been flat on my butt by now."

"Well, my Cajun compadre, you've certainly given me some things to think about -- might I ask you some more questions at a more convenient time?"

"Pas de problÍme, mon ami."

Hank beamed.

"Thank you -- and so I bid you good night ..."

He hadn't even turned toward the door when Remy stopped him with a chuckle.

"Hank?"

"Yes?"

"De list?"

Beast had gotten so enthralled with his questions, he had forgotten his original purpose. With a sheepish smile, he had placed it on Remy's bedside table and left the room.

McCoy smiled in recollection -- after all, it wasn't every day that a scientist came across a completely new and hitherto undocumented natural force. Perhaps Nomi herself would not be averse to aiding his inquiries. The thought certainly bore looking into -- but at the moment he had more pressing concerns.

Adjusting his glasses once more, Beast returned to interpreting the numbers on the status report.


Soon ... Nomi thought to herself.

After all that time she had spent in a twilight state of existence within the pod, she would finally set foot on a planet again.

No matter what she and her new friends would face once they were actually there, she longed to be dirtside again. If she could never again return to her home, she could at least see a sun rise or set, be caught in the rain, breathe air that was not the product of a life-support system once more. It would be something to cherish, despite the danger which they were sure awaited them.

And she had a responsibility to give her purpose.

I never thought to be a Jedi, much less a teacher of Jedi ... she smiled.

Her thoughts turned to Gambit, and she allowed herself a moment of pride.

He's come so far, so quickly ...

She had been right about his skills with his mutant powers assisting with the development of his Force-talent -- and Remy had a natural feel for it.

His training as a thief didn't hurt either she thought with amusement.

It was actually quite funny how the disciplines Gambit had nurtured within himself to become a Master Thief were often directly applicable to Jedi training -- patience, timing, maintaining a calm mind in the midst of chaos.

Master Thon would have approved

Remy had made such great strides with his powers -- he was downright precocious! When he had told her of contacting a child who seemed to be from her own corner of the universe, she was amazed at his ability and relieved to know that the Jedi lived on. That fact was proof enough of the Sith downfall, and she took comfort in it.

It looked as if communication skills with the Force would be one of his special talents, with duelling being another -- already Remy was handling his 'saber as if he had been born to it.2

And a good thing, too ... I have a bad feeling he'll be needing it before too long ...

 

Continued in Chapter 8.


Notes:
1.
In physics, it is theorized that all natural forces are interactions between particles or waves, with so-called messenger particles acting as the go-between. Quarks are the fundamental components of all matter (there are six types of quarks, five of which have been observed via experiments {top (also called truth), bottom (also called beauty), up, down, strange, charm} -- the sixth (charm) has still not yet been experimentally observed. The monopole is the fundamental unit of electrostatic force (no magnetic monopole is known to exist). The graviton is the theorized messenger particle for gravitational interactions, which also has not been experimentally observed.
2. Those with Force talent often exhibit one or two skills which are more powerful or more finely developed than the others -- with Nomi Sunrider, they were battle meditation and healing (as far as I can gather), Anakin Solo was taking apart and reassembling computers by age three. What are Remy's? -- well, we'll see ... :-)


" To win one hundred victories of one hundred battles is not the acme of skill; to subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill. " -- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War

 


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