Flashback: The Agony of Defeat

From the Story Arc: Grim's Gamble

Previous Story in the Arc: This Just In by Astra Kyne Murdock (Saturday, November 04, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Helloween: It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To by Astra Kyne Murdock (Monday, November 06, 2006)

(posted Sunday, November 05, 2006)

Days Earlier:

Aunt Vickie had delivered Aedan back home with the air of someone who was bound and determined to make sure he didn't go running off and doing something stupid. While Aedan shuffled off to his room, Aunt Vickie had what sounded like the start of a long heart-to-heart with his Ma.

Aedan was very glad that he and Astra now had rooms on opposite sides of the apartment. He didn't want to talk to her. He didn't want to talk to anyone. He didn't want to "talk" at all. He'd already clamped down hard on the "family line" empathic connection; nothing was getting in or getting out. He wanted to hit things. Hard.

He couldn't cut off the twin-bond without cutting off his head, but Astra was getting a lot better about not bugging him when he shut her out. There was just the faintest little brush of worry/sorrow/love and then she left him alone in his own head.

Or as alone as he could be, given he shared his head rather more intimately with K'takei than anyone other than the two of them really knew.

< You did your best. You did more than your best, you exceeded your best. >

"Yeah, well that just wasn't good enough, was it?" He refrained from picking something up and smashing it only by supreme effort of will. "I shoulda just let him--"

< Take you? Don't be a fool. That would accomplish what, precisely? Only to draw your parents and siblings into a rescue attempt on his terms. Yes? > Aedan shook his head. It made sense, but he didn't want it to. He was useless, and now people were going to die because of it.

< What did Sera tell you? That you could fail. That you might not be able to save these children. You are dealing with a madman who can operate with impunity on his own ground. Sometimes we fail, Aedan. Even your father and mother. Even me. > It was an attempt at humor, but it fell flat. < You were not the only factor in the equation out there, Aedan. Victoria Victrix failed as well. All her carefully planned magic went for naught, and she was the one who was meant to catch and hold him. >

"It doesn't matter, Old Man. I wasn't good enough. I'm not a hero; I didn't stop him, I didn't even budge him. I can't. I'm not strong enough, and too much of a coward to sacrifice myself or---" Aedan went silent. He could see he was just going in circles, and not helping at all.

< A coward for not being a fool? > K'takei's mental tone turned dark. < Please do not tell me you truly think that. Had you "sacrificed" yourself, as you say, you would have accomplished precisely one thing. To put your parents, your siblings, right in the hands of someone who would do far worse than merely hurt them. You would only have been the bait for a trap. I... > There was the sense of someone taking a very deep breath. < I was witness to what might happen if they were placed in an untenable position once. It is not something I care to repeat. Ever. > The mental tone softened. < You are a hero, Aedan. If you cannot save everyone, you have had, and will make, a difference. A profound difference. Especially to one "Old Man." I trust you will forgive my selfishness, but I find that rather important. > Aedan sensed the Kheldian turning things over in his own mind. < Perhaps this will make more impact on your current state if I were to remind you…. >