A/N: Life happened, sorry!
"I don't need you. Just- go be useless somewhere else, 625!"
Wherever the little trog was, Gantu doesn't care. He clearly isn't here. Gantu came back, empty handed as he usually did, to find his ship empty. 625 is nowhere to be seen, and Gantu falls heavily into his seat.
The stress of a year, a year of knowing that monstrous gerbil had his daughter- not knowing what was happening to her every time he reports failure- falls heavily on his shoulders. He is about to crack, he can feel it, and the argument with 625 that morning was not a pretty one.
Though they never are. Gantu doesn't like to fight with the one person he can almost consider a friend- almost. 625 was too apathetic, too sarcastic- too manipulative, if Gantu was willing to admit even to himself. He can't bring himself to trust 625 with the truth.
"Why do ya even listen to the rodent? Ya don't even like him! Come on, G-man, if this is about the money ya could do better. Ya don't need him."
And Gantu knows, deep down, that 625 means well. As far as 625 knows, this is a matter of paying the bills. Gantu and 625- there was a number of things they can do, and it would be more beneficial than what Hamsterviel gave them. No, Gantu doesn't need Hamsterviel.
But he needs Janaa.
625 doesn't know about Janaa. Gantu knows he should not have directed his stress, his anger, his fear-fueled rage at 625.
He should have done something differently.
But he didn't, and now he sits alone in the echoing quiet of his ship, knowing any moment Hamsterviel would call. Knowing that his Janaa was about to suffer, all because her dad couldn't save her a second time.
You were supposed to keep her safe, he thinks bitterly, unsure if he is directing it at his sister, the Councilwoman or even himself.
The screen lights up, Hamsterviel's scowl the first thing that registers in Gantu's mind.
"So," the rodent begins, staring displeased at Gantu, "I see you have failed again."
"The girl and the trog had friends this time," he tries to defend, though he knows it's all in vain. Hamsterviel has never accepted his excuses before, after all.
"Where is experiment 625?" Hamsterviel questions, peering through the screen with suspiciously-squinted eyes.
Gantu tenses up. "Not here," he answers simply, a nervous tightening in his chest. A terrible, foreboding feeling washes over him, and then Hamsterviel's scowl turns into a bloodchilling grin.
"Finally!" The rodent rubs his tiny hands together in glee. "Finally, without that intrusive little nuisance I can show you what happens when you fail me!"
His heart skips a beat.
Hamsterviel never lets him see Janaa, not since revealing that he has her. Never makes Gantu watch whatever she was going through.
Why, he wonders, does 625's absence make a difference?
Was Hamsterviel so afraid of losing his trump card that he doesn't want anyone else to know?
Was Gantu really so predictable that Hamsterviel knows he never told 625 about Janaa?
Is Hamsterviel afraid of 625?
The camera jerks to the side as Hamsterviel points it towards Gantu's little girl, and his heart breaks at the sight of her.
Third eye wide open, malnourished, gleaming copper fur dulled with dust and bruises, long ears hanging limply behind her- the fur tufts on the end patchy at best- and her tail curled around herself as she sat there, a shadow of the happy child Gantu had left behind.
She looks as she did nearly five years ago, when he rescued her from the slavers. Only now she's older and has known another life, a happier life, and the fear in her eyes is so much more than back then- filled with much more understanding.
"Janaa," he almost whispers, fear hammering in his chest. He reaches out, as if he could reach across the vast expanse of lightyears separating them to hold her again, but his fingers touch the cold screen instead of soft fur, and he can barely remember what it feels like to hug her.
She looks back at him. "Dad," she says, her voice cracking and so full of fear and pleading, and tears well up in her eyes. "D-dad...!"
Gantu hears Hamsterviel laugh, and the cell around Janaa lights up. She screams- of course she screams, she was only seven when Gantu left her with his sister- and Gantu is seized with horror- terror- disgust- anger-
"Stop!" He isn't sure if he screams or thinks it. "She's just a child! You're hurting her! Janaa!"
He's standing, leaning heavily on the console with one hand on the screen. There's a desperation coiling in his abdomen, and he tries to plead, because now he isn't ex-captain Gantu but dad, a dad watching the child he swore to protect suffer for his own failings.
When the electricity cuts out, leaving the child nearly unconscious in the cell, Hamsterviel cackles. "Now you know what is at stake," the rodent says as he pulls the camera back to him, and Gantu feels such murderous hatred for the villain. He clenches his fists, wanting nothing more than to strangle the monster gerbil, but Hamsterviel either doesn't notice or doesn't care. "I expect no more failures from you, Gantu."
"I'll kill you," Gantu growls, glaring at the rodent. Hamsterviel is nonplussed, simply chuckling at Gantu's words.
"You can't even catch a pesky experiment, how are you to kill me?" he taunts. "Remember, Gantu; no more failures, or else."
The screen cuts out and Gantu can feel himself trembling in rage, the metal beneath his fists denting. He wants to scream. He wants to break something.
He can't understand how anyone could be so bad, so full of evil that they were willing to torture a child.
I'm sorry, Janaa, he thinks, resting his head against his hands. Why am I never able to keep my promises to you?
All he wants is to hold her again. To watch her play with her toys, watch her put on a one-child play for him- to laugh and tell her what a good job she's done, even if her acting skills were just as bad as Gantu's singing. All he wants is for her to be safe.
But he was a failure. A failure as a henchman, a friend, and a father.