Rewatching Andromeda, and it turns out that my WTF memories of seasons 4/5 are…really accurate. And season 3 has some seriously shaky spots too. I know what happened to the show, but I can't help wishing it had lived up to its potential a little more. So this is my reunion of two of the characters that I thought deserved way better than they got. For this I'm assuming:
1. Tyr didn't come back after he left at the end of season 3
2. Tyr still has bone blades along his forearms, because a magically altering skeletal structure for no good reason is ridiculous. Seriously, I'll take time travel over that.
3. Seefra happened because I haven't got a good way to retcon two seasons of the show, but I'm happy enough to sum it up as 'a bad, bad time' and the bits that matter will be covered in the fic.
Harper bit back a sigh and the smart retort that he really wanted to make. One problem with running your own business, at least if you wanted to stay in business, was that you couldn't point out when your customers were being complete idiots.
Even if they were.
Possibly especially if they were.
Hey, three years running a bar on Seefra-hell had to have taught him something, and this little run-down repair shop in a corner of a nowhere drift wasn't all that much different than that place, although at least here he didn't have to worry about being attacked for the high crime of fixing something.
Of course, a downside to here was that there were more Ubers around, including the one in front of him, and while Harper was armed, he also couldn't go around shooting his customers and expect to stay in business.
"I fixed your 'corder," Harper said, trying to keep the annoyance he felt out of his voice. "It's the miracle of commerce and capitalism—you pay me, I give you your 'corder back, and everyone goes home happy." Or at least this idiot got the hell out of his shop which was all he gave a damn about.
Well, almost all he gave a damn about. He wasn't in the habit of working for free no matter what the Uber seemed to expect. Call him a kludge, whatever, but he was no one's slave.
The Uber sneered, and Harper wondered idly if he could claim some kind of reward from the other Nietzscheans on the station if this did turn into a shooting match. Surely removing this kind of stupidity from their precious gene pool had to be worth something.
Bone blades snapped up as the man lunged across the counter, and a blast from Harper's repulsor pistol sent him flying backwards into the shelving unit at the front of the store. He hit hard, smashing through the near support post and damaging the one behind it, and the entire unit creaked and began to collapse sideways, stopping only when the top hit the matching shelving unit on the other side of the shop entrance. The man groaned, lying where he'd fallen for a moment, and then growled and began to push himself to his feet.
"Damn Ubers," Harper muttered as he upped the setting quickly. He hadn't wanted to shoot to kill—that would almost certainly bring what passed for drift security down on him, and leaving aside the fact that he didn't have a lot of money for bribes, the word of a kludge wasn't worth much where Ubers were concerned—but he would if he had to. There were plenty of unmaintained corridors around here to dump a body in, and it wasn't much different slapping a couple grav disks on a dead body than an unconscious one. "It's time for you leave," he said coldly, holding the whining pistol level. "That's the door right behind you."
"You will regret this!"
"Not putting a hole in your forehead? Probably, but blood gets down in the floor grates and then it's a pain in the ass to clean up."
For a moment it looked like the idiot might actually come at him again, at which point Harper would remove him from the gene pool and damn the consequences, but instead he snarled, turning and shoving the fallen shelf out of his way.
Harper sighed as metal shelving met metal floor and the bits of circuitry that had held on as the unit had made its sideways descent finally lost their fight and went flying all over the room. "Jackass." He raised his voice. "And your 'corder wasn't even broken, you just forgot to charge it!"
No response from the Uber who was already rounding the corner at the first junction which probably just as well all things considered, and with a sigh he holstered his repulsor and went to see how salvageable the shelving unit was. And, for that matter, how salvageable the contents were. Not that there had been much of value there in the first place, that was why he hadn't worried about it being so close to the door and the lurking pickpockets, but in a place like this every credit counted.
"Still making friends everywhere you go, aren't you little professor?"
Harper jerked, swiveling back towards the doorway, and one hand dropped back to his repulsor automatically. That corridor had been empty just a minute ago. And yet…. "Tyr?"
It was a stupid question, and he knew that it was a stupid question because Tyr was the only person who'd ever called him that, but Tyr was long gone. To the point of dead, Harper had privately figured, since he hadn't been leading the Nietzschean fleet and there was no way he'd willingly have turned that position over to anyone else. And yet the once-familiar figure was right there, arms crossed across his chest and casually taking up most of the doorway, smirking.
"Hey," Harper said slowly, letting his hand fall from his side-arm. If Tyr wanted to hurt him, he could do it before the weapon even cleared the holster anyway. He pushed himself to his feet. "Long time no see."
Tyr uncrossed his arms and entered, giving the shop a slow once-over, his face not giving anything away. "I can't say that I expected to find you here," he said finally, returning his gaze to Harper.
Harper shrugged, a dozen different responses floating through his head, but "Could say the same to you," was all that came out in the end. In another time and place he might have said more and trusted that Tyr would understand, but things had changed a lot since then. He'd changed a lot since then.
Tyr dipped his head slightly. "I take it from the sign outside this…establishment…that you hire out your services."
"For the right price," Harper said with a nod, feeling a little more solid. And a tiny bit annoyed at the skepticism in Tyr's tone, even if he knew Tyr well enough to know that most of it was feigned. Probably. "To people who don't talk trash about my shop."
That got a scoff. "My ship has developed a tremor when I exit slipstream. I've had no issues in transit itself, and diagnostics have cleared it three times, but I know what I feel." A pause. "When the examination here was complete, I was informed by this station's primary mechanic that travel in slipstream is often trying on the nerves. You'll understand why I'm looking elsewhere for assistance."
Harper grinned despite himself. "Old Kemmer actually told you that you were imagining things? To your face?"
"Over a vid screen. For some reason he wasn't available to meet in person."
"There's a shock."
Tyr shook his head, a shadow of a smile crossing his face as well. "I came here because I heard a rumor from a pilot on another ship about someone down in this area who could fix anything. I'm not sure that he was referring to you, but sometimes one must make do."
A good recommendation was always nice to hear about, whatever else Tyr had to say, and Harper grinned. "I am the best, and you know it. And I suppose I've got the time." An actual paying job would be better than trying to get this place back in order anyway, especially since it looked like he'd have to sell that Uber's 'corder if he wanted to get anything out of it. The Chichin that ran the pawn shop always gave him the creeps. "Five hundred thrones for an hour of diagnostic work. If it looks like it'll take longer we settle on price before I continue."
"One hundred, and I won't smash up anything else in your shop."
"Try it. I already shot one Nietzschean today."
Harper expected a sneer and a comment about inferior specimens, but instead something dark and unidentifiable crossed Tyr's face and he shook his head. "Three hundred."
"I'll grab my gear."
Tyr glanced down at Harper, keeping pace beside him despite his shorter stride, and felt a definite sense of familiarity. And a hint of fondness, not that he'd ever admit that. A few years ago this would have been a common enough occurrence; the two of them sent off on a supply run or one of Dylan's nonsense crusades and trying to make the best of it. Now, though…a lot had changed. And not just for him, it seemed.
When he'd heard the rumors about a kludge who could fix anything he'd been desperate enough to track down whatever was wrong with his slipstream drive to pay a visit, but he hadn't expected to hear a familiar voice facing down some fool. And then taking down said fool when the idiot didn't take the hint. For all his small size, Harper was a survivor, and fewer recognized that than should.
He still didn't know why Harper was here, though. In the minds of some in this universe Tyr's name would always be linked with the Andromeda Ascendant so it was in his best interests to stay informed as to their general status, and as last he heard they were off playing savior somewhere in the Orr'ien sector with no indication that they were missing an engineer. Or that they had been for some time, if the fact that Harper had an established shop here was anything to go by.
"So, stab anybody in the back recently?" Harper asked as they entered the main concourse, before Tyr could ask any questions.
"Only when it served my purposes," Tyr responded, keeping his tone equally casual.
"Do you intend to hold my previous actions against me?" He should have asked that before even mentioning his problem, but Tyr had been surprised enough to find Harper—and, honestly, glad, because even if he would never say it out loud if anyone could identify his trouble it would be the little professor—that he hadn't thought a great deal about it. A transaction had been made; what else needed to be said?
"Extra, extra, read all about it," Harper said with a roll of his eyes. "Nietzschean acts like Nietzschean. In other news: water is wet, space is big, and Seefra sucks."
Harper waved it off. "What's done is done. You didn't get us killed so I can't exactly hold that against you, and a lot of things that pissed me off five or six years ago just don't anymore. You've got a job that sounds marginally more interesting than being smart enough to plug in a charger so I'll do it."
"Good." Of all his previous crewmates from the Andromeda, Harper's views had—generally—been close enough to Nietzschean enough to be reasonable. And yet…. "Five years? Did that fool strike you in the head? It hasn't even been three since we last saw each other."
"For you." Harper looked up at him, a tired expression crossing his face. "Here's another bit of news that we both learned a while back: time travel's a bitch."
It wasn't until Tyr's hand landed against the back of Harper's neck, fingertips flexing gently against skin, that he even realized that he'd moved.
Harper's expression softened a little, and one skinny elbow bumped Tyr's ribcage. "Kind of missed you, big guy. You might drive me crazy sometimes, but at least I get how you think." A pause. "Plus, there were a lot of bar fights."
Tyr felt a flicker of amusement and released Harper with a shove as they reached the docking bay. "That is my ship." It was nothing special, at least on the outside, a rebuilt scout from one fallen empire or another with a bit more cargo capacity than some. He'd paid good money for the work done on the engines, though, and the speed they granted him, and he wasn't surprised at Harper's low whistle when Tyr let him into the engine room.
"You got a nice setup here," Harper observed as he stepped closer to the drive. A pause. "What do you even do these days?"
Tyr let a dangerous smile cross his face, deliberately stepping up and looming over the smaller man, and for a moment he again saw a flash of the Harper he'd known as Harper jumped back. But there was no accompanying yelp, and the hand that fell to his belt was steady. And rather than the nanowelder that he'd tended to reach for on Andromeda, today it landed on the handle of a pistol. Whatever else the last two—or, apparently, five—years had done, Harper had gotten harder.
He relaxed his posture, and after a minute Harper did the same. With a muttered comment about Tyr's sense of humor that Tyr let pass.
"I primarily offer my services as a bodyguard and courier," Tyr said instead.
"Not really what you were going for when you left," Harper said.
"No," Tyr agreed. "Perhaps Dylan's notions infected me more than I realized, but I expected…." He shook his head. "I expected more from them." He didn't specify who, but then, he didn't have to.
"I sort of figured you'd be running the whole thing."
"If I had been, things wouldn't have gone so easily for you."
Harper's jaw clenched, eyes flashing, and Tyr remembered abruptly just which planet had been destroyed in the final days of the war.
"But they were unable to look past the status-quo to the future," he said, pushing on rather than trying to backtrack. His words had been true enough—the Commonwealth wouldn't have had such an easy fight if he'd been in command—but there had been no advantage to gain by destroying such a nothing of a planet as Earth. He wouldn't have done it. "They were unable to look away from the way they'd always done things to the possibility of…." Tyr trailed off with a shake of his head, feeling disgust rising again. He'd known that he'd have to include the Drago-Kazov in his united Prides, as little as he'd liked the idea, but even he had never expected the level of inferiority they'd shown. Of the complete unwillingness to see the greatness that could be.
In the end it hadn't been just the Drago-Kazov, either, none of them had been willing to take that step. When they'd cast him out of their alliance it had been almost anti-climactic. And then they'd gone and lost. In a way he'd been glad to see it, even as he'd accepted that he'd been watching the collapse of his greatest dreams. He would still work for the betterment of the universe as he could, if only to give his son a situation improved upon his own, but the grand alliance that he'd hoped for had been a grand failure.
He sometimes wondered if that was how the Nietzscheans who'd tried to take over in place of the Commonwealth had felt three centuries ago.
"Yeah, after a while it gets tiring trying to save a universe that pretty clearly doesn't want saving," Harper said quietly. Before Tyr could think of a response, he shook himself, his tone returning to normal. "So let's see what's up with this slipstream drive of yours."
"The main access panel is there."
Harper nodded and opened his tool bag, popping the cover of the panel off and going to work among the wires. Tyr had enough knowledge of basic engineering to manage the most common, simple repairs, but that was all. For the rest he'd had to trust to mechanics scattered across drifts. It was good to have someone that he knew was competent taking a look.
Harper seemed to relax a little as his fingers flew across the boards, and it wasn't long before he twisted sideways and popped open another panel without asking for approval. Tyr shook his head and retrieved a flexi to read while Harper worked. It was obvious that his presence had already been forgotten.
Harper finally stepped back, half a dozen more panels open and wires exposed, and frowned up at the slipstream core itself.
"What is it, professor?"
"They're right, Tyr." Harper looked over at him. "There's not a damn thing wrong with your drive. Slipstream or otherwise. I mean, I see about twenty things that will need to be fixed soon, and about fifty things that one lunatic or another decided were good shortcuts that make my head hurt just looking at them, but there is nothing here that would cause a tremor."
"I am not imagining things."
"Yeah, yeah, I didn't figure you were." Harper returned to frowning at the drive. "Can I get into your computers? Take a look at the records from the jumps themselves?"
"Mind where your attention goes," Tyr warned.
"Yeah, I got it."
Tyr gestured for him to go ahead, and after a moment of work Harper took a seat on the floor and jacked himself into the system. The important files were encrypted—obviously—although Tyr doubted that that would make much of a difference if Harper decided that he really wanted to know. Harper had a problem in front of him, though, and unless he'd changed a great deal more than Tyr thought, that would remain the only thing on his mind for the time being.