splinters.htmlTEXTStMl/> Splinters

Disclaimer: the characters and concepts in Deepwater Black/Mission
Genesis are the copy- righted property of Sunbow Productions, Empire
Entertainment (I think!), YTV, the Sci-Fi Channel and are used here
without permission. This work is a piece of fan- fiction and is not
intended to infringe on said copyright. No profit has been made.

by Jacynthe Demorae

Bren stood frozen, his entire being focused on the scene playing out before them. The damaged Deepwater, most of her lights dark, her hull scarred and pitted, accelerated towards the alien ship. There had to be more time, time to find a solution, keep him alive. If he could just make his hands move, he could bring the ship's weapons on-line. Could save that other Reb.

Keep Reb Anderson alive. Not his own thought, not a prex or a memory, but that command still seared therough his mind.

Light flared on the screen, washing it out in a burst of white fire. Bren stared at it, the image searing itself onto his retinas. No sound, of course, not in space. Hundreds, thousands of lives could be obliterated without a sound. This can't be happening. He was a soldier, damn it, it was his job to be on the front lines, to draw the fire, to take the risks. Not the civlians.

Not Reb.

"Bren, scan for lifepods!"

Yuna's voice snapped him out of his unnatural daze. Lifepods. Right. He might have set the ship on auto, made his escape. Half-hysterical thoughts tumbled therough his head, remote possibilities he wanted to change into certainties. Reb held up a hand. Even from his station, Bren could see the tremor.

"Don't." Reb paused, cleared his throat. "Don't bother. He's dead."

You don't know that, you can't be sure... But if anyone would know for certain, it was their Reb. What did it feel like, to watch yourself die? Had he...felt...it? He stared at the back of Reb's head. The blond engineer sat frozen, staring at the screen even after the last of the explosions had died away.

"He's dead," Reb repeated, as if to convince himself.

He stood, turned away from his station. Bren thought of trying to intercept, to make him stay put until Lise looked him over. Something in those glazed blue eyes made him look away. He'd seen a too-similar look in the other Reb's eyes.

He stared at the instrument panel, automatically tracking function lights, setting the weapons console on stand-by.

"The alien ship has been destroyed," Gret said, her voice husky.

The simple words struck Bren like a fist in the kidneys. He had to grip the edges of his console to keep himself upright. When it mattered most, his training had failed--no, he had failed. He was the sole military presence on the ship, charged with protecting the ship and the Mission. That was why his donor had been chosen by the original Deepwater Black team. But it was the actions of the civilians that had saved the ship and the mission. Hell, his clone had died in cryo. And Reb Anderson had died.

"I'm going to see if he's all right," Yuna said quietly, rising to her feet. "Gen, take over."

"I have the helm," the AI confirmed.

Bren listened to the light, quick sound of Yuna's footsteps as they echoed down the corridor. On impulse, he turned and followed after her. He knew how to move silently, even on the metal deckplates of an arkship. Yuna, several feet ahead and intent on her own errand, didn't notice him. This corridor was the main artery of the Deepwater, from here one could eventually access the gene bank, the shuttle bay, or the cryo chambers and the cloning module. When Yuna didn't turn down any of those accessways, he knew exactly where Yuna--and Reb--were going.

He took a gamble and ducked down a narrow maintenance passage, approaching the Habitat from another angle. He didn't want the two of them to know he'd followed after them. After a bit, he heard voices.

"Are you all right?"

Yuna's voice.

"I will be. In time."

Bren stopped just at the entranceway, keeping out of direct sight. Moving with care, he craned his neck so he could glimpse past the frame, and into the Habitat. Reb and Yuna sat at the large table the crew used for their meals and meetings. Reb, his tough words to the contrary, still looked like hell. Yuna sat near him, cradling a mug of something that steamed.

"You still look pretty shaken up," Lise said, switching off her pen-light. The other Reb blinked dazedly.

Probably had a swarm of red and purple dots in his vision, Bren thought. He couldn't quite take his eyes off their new arrival. Two of them. As if life weren't complicated enough.

"Something hot with sugar in it should help settle you," Lise said. "Any preferences?"

The other Reb looked away from Yuna. "Um...tea is fine. If you have it."

"I'll get it," Bren said shortly, glad to have a task to occupy himself with, even a minor one like this. He went to the dispenser and set it to provide hot, sugared tea.

It just wasn't right, to see replicas of others. On that other Deepwater were potential copies of himself. He had enough trouble accepting the fact that his memories, his skills, belonged to someone who'd been dead for centuries. That all of his life experience had actually happened to someone else, someone with his face and voice. The dispenser beeped, and a panel slid back.

The mug radiated warmth, a soothing familiarity in this new strangeness. He picked it up and carried it over to the table.

"Here's your tea," he said, handing over the mug.

The other Reb stared up at him, searching his face. Bren met his gaze, wondering at the other's expression, that bleakness. Then the blue eyes lowered. He took the mug with a murmured thanks.

Bren retreated, trying not show his disquiet. Another Deepwater. Another Reb Anderson. Another dead Bren Stuart.

"How many of us do you think are out there?"

The question dove-tailed so neatly with his thoughts that for a moment, he wondered if he had been the one to speak.

"We're in the gene bank," Reb ansered. "There could be fifty, a hundred each."

Silence again. Bren forced himself to stillness. If he moved, even to walk away, they would hear him and know he'd been eavesdropping. He would have to continue as a silent observer.

"She looked a little different," Yuna said.

How had his clone looked? Bren wondered--aside from dead and covered in green glop.

"Maybe each...crew...is a little different. Tweak a few genes, add a few
lines to the memory implants. We don't know what went on in the
Deepwater Black Project. We didn't even know there was another

"So what's really bothering you about this?"

If I knew, I'd say.

"I feel like I should understand him, but I don't," Reb admitted.
"First, he's ready to sacrifice our ship for his revenge. Next, he's
telling me to take care of her."

"You mean the Deepwater."

Bren heard the quaver in her voice, even if Reb didn't.

"Well, yeah. That's what he said, right? 'One day you'll see how
precious she is.' She's a first-rate ship, but she's still just a
ship, she's nothing to get poetic about."

He wasn't talking about the ship, you dolt. He'd seen how the other Reb had watched their Yuna. How could Reb have missed it? Then again, Reb didn't seem to notice how Yuna watched him. For an engineer, Reb could be as dense as a neutron star. But then, he had a lot of company.

"Well, maybe in ten years time we'll feel different. Maybe we'll
see things then that we don't see now."

So much emotion in her voice. How could Ren not notice? Maybe he does, he thought with a start, but can't or won't acknowledge it.

Now, why would he do that?

"I guess," he said with a gusty sigh. "I just wish I understood him,
that's all. I mean, he was me, right?

Bren heard one of the chairs scrape back. Footsteps, as someone moved around the room. They paused for just a moment, then continued. Bren held his breath and retreated back around the corner. If he turned his head to the right, he could glimpse the accessway to the main corridor. Anyone leaving the Habitat would have to pass through it.

Reb entered his field of vision, passing so close that he thought he could feel the heat of the other's body. Close enough to touch. Bren balled his hands into fists, keeping them at his sides. He would not touch, he would not! He followed the engineer with his eyes, watching with a hunger that didn't bear close examination. So caught up in Reb, he totally forgot Yuna.


He met the pilot's startled eyes. He felt his cheeks heat, gave silent thanks for a darker complexion that better hid his emotions. Yuna was still waiting for him to say something.

"Somebody has to stay on duty," he snapped, concealing his turmoil in impatience.

Yuna's gaze softened in understanding. Bren looked away, gritting his teeth. She had no call looking at him like that, she had no idea what lay behind this.

And you do?

Now, that was a question he really didn't want to answer. He knew this much--he would never again be forced to stand by and watch Reb Anderson--any Reb Anderson--die.

Never. Again.

"I'm going back to the command deck," he growled. "Whenever you're ready."

"Sure," Yuna said softly.

He turned sharply on his heel and stalked off, pretending he didn't feel Yuna's eyes on him. Pretending he didn't want to follow after Reb.

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