A/N: So I was just messing around and I thought it might be interesting to explore the story if Gantu had a more clear reason for working for Hamsterviel, when in the first movie he was, actually, just trying to do his job (just going about it in an extreme way) and was, at his core, someone who values justice and the law. And this popped into my head.
Summary: Gantu has his reasons to work for Hamsterviel, and its name is Janaa. Helpless to do anything about it in his exile, he can only try. At least until 625 finds out.
It starts the way it always does.
It's almost jarring, as the Shaelek finds himself standing in a familiar living room. There's only one picture on the wall- himself and a younger woman, his oddly aloof sister raised by their mother- as it replays the scene recorded that evening when he was accepted to the Academy, and the couch is set against the wall beneath it, a chair caddycorner next to it. It's very domestic, the projected-surface walls playing a familiar movie across from the couch.
In his arms is a being so small that, looking at the large creature, someone might have missed it.
The child peers around curiously at her surroundings- so much larger than the rabbit-like girl would ever grow up to be, perhaps somewhat intimidating, and a memory of thought rings in his head, how he should get furniture more suited for a little Xeronna such as her.
"Welcome home, Janaa," he says to the child, going to set her down.
Quietly he screams, but he can't voice it.
He knows it's not real.
He never wants to let go.
Her feet touch the cold floor, her little claws clicking against the metal, and he can only watch as she darts off to explore her surroundings.
It always goes the same. He watches her explore, and then he turns around to find the scene has changed. More video-pictures line the walls, the holo-vision has switched walls as a picture of him and his Janaa is front and center of the room. A warm, soft rug has been laid out on the floor where the small child draws, her third eye blissfully closed- a clear sign of comfort, so unlike the first time he had seen her, the first time he had saved her. There is a small chair beside the couch, though it often went unused as the child often climbed up to sit with him, instead.
It's bright, and he's holding a plate of ganarin. "Janaa," he hears himself call, his deep voice full of excitement. "Look- I believe I have it this time."
And he sets the plate down, his little Janaa snagging one of them without hesitance as she always did- and she takes a confident bite, as she always did, and she beamed up at him, joy lighting up her little eyes- not like it always did. "Yes!" she laughs, reaching for another one but he easily lifts it out of her reach.
"You'll spoil your dinner," he scolds surprisingly gently, more gently than any of his coworkers would ever expect of the captain of the galactic armada.
Janaa pouts up at him, "But dad..."
How can he resist? "Well, perhaps just one more," he gives in, and as he hands her just one more ganarin he feels the world shift around him.
Now his sister stands before him, Janaa gazing up at him sadly. It was not the first parting they would have and it would not be the last, he knows as he kneels down to his daughter.
"I will only be gone for three weeks," he promises, and somewhere deep inside him a voice calls him a liar- because he's gone for seven weeks, more than twice as long as he promised her, and every day he thinks of the child waiting in his sister's care, waiting for him to return, yet being strong for his crew, not showing one ounce of weakness.
When he was deployed, he was not dad. He was Captain Gantu. And he has to remember that.
Then he's home, and Janaa is there hugging him- too young to care, yet, that he was gone longer than he promised. His sister was disappointed, but that didn't matter- his Janaa was just happy to have her father back home, and Gantu was more than happy to be dad again.
Yet it was never meant to last. The dream passes, faster than he can keep up with, and his trepidation grows with every memory that flashes through his dreamscape, until the dreaded last trip begins.
He promises her he will be back in one week- it was just a bust, a bust and arrest. A court case, and a transport. Then he would be home, he'd be home and they could go to the new park opening up, he'd be home for her enrollment in school as she was finally old enough. An alternative school, for non-Shaeleks to reduce the risk of her being stepped on, a school Gantu's own father would have scoffed at.
Gantu never put much stock into his father's opinions.
She hugs him one last time, and had he known it would be the last he would never have let go. But Gantu can't stop himself from gently patting her head and sending her to stand with her aunt, can't stop himself from walking out that door.
The world around him seems to go dark. In the darkness he only hears two voices.
"What about Janaa?" he asks, a defeated man, as he looks at his video phone where the Grand Councilwoman- someone he had trusted, someone who turned her back on him for doing what it took to retrieve a dangerous criminal, how was he supposed to know the situation had changed? He only did as she told him, yet he was the one punished for it, and the anger, resentment, betrayal wells up in his chest until it's a black hole, swirling and ripping at his soul- looks back at him, her eyes cold and face severe.
"Janaa will be taken care of," she assures him, no warmth or care for her old friend in her voice. "Your sister has agreed to take on full responsibility until your exile is over."
"Please," he almost begs, almost shows his weakness, "If you will not let me go back at least let Janaa come to me."
"No," is the simple answer before the screen goes black, leaving him in darkness.
He wants to scream as everything falls apart. As Hamsterviel's voice echoes around him, laughing.
"I may not be captain but I refuse to work for scum like you," Gantu had spat, he remembers it clearly.
"I had a feeling you would say that," the gerbil-like villain had answered, still in nothing but darkness. But Gantu doesn't need to see. He remembers well what came next. The way the screen turned, the way his Janaa sat in that cell, third eye open and tears on her face.
He remembers how she screamed for him to help her- how helpless he felt, as all he could do was call out to her with comforting words.
"If you reject my proposal," Hamsterviel continues, his voice coming ever closer to Gantu even as his child cries for help, "Then your precious Janaa shall be jettisoned into the deep dark vacuum of space!"
And Gantu looks at Hamsterviel, and he knows it is not a lie.
He looks at Hamsterviel, seeing the monster for what he is.
And for the sake of his daughter- for the sake of his Janaa- he hangs his head and agrees.
He knows each and every time he fails, his Janaa is punished in his place.
And he's helpless.
When he wakes up, Hamsterviel's victorious laughter and Janaa's terrified crying ringing in his mind, he sits there and wonders if he'll ever see her again.
In the privacy of his room, in the quiet darkness of his exile, he cries.