Before Landing (-702): The Last Straw
Summary: Grey gives up his freedom. It's a fair exchange.
Date: 5 June 2016
Related: None directly.

702 Days Before Landing — The Ark

The Grey family quarters are in disarray. They have been since the death of Paris Grey and his domestic tyranny. The sixteen-year-old Lucian Grey who slinks back in the door is not the same Delinquent who will land on the surface of Earth. He still has nearly three inches to grow, his shoulders have not reached their full width yet, and although Guard training has added a little bulk to him, he's still thin. The hunch of his shoulders doesn't help matters in the slightest.

"And just where do you think you've been, Lucky?" The 'nickname' is formed of pure venom, provided to him after his father's death by his mother. "Wasting time with your loser friends?" Her voice should be shrill, given the hatred and scorn that she spits, but instead, Joelle Grey has a rich, silken voice. It's what first attracted Paris Grey to her, before he learned just how sharp her tongue could be.

Grey opens his mouth to say something, but there's nothing to be said, no way to mollify her. He can smell the cheap moonshine on her breath as she circles in close, pointing a finger up at his face, "I don't know what they see in you. Or are they just hoping you'll be the same sort of pathetic failure your father was, and you'll do them favors if you ever manage to become a Guard?"

When Joelle takes a breath to continue, Grey ducks his head further, twisting to step past her and strip off the faux leather jacket that was his father's, but the harridan follows after him, "Not that you'll ever do it. Become a Guard. You don't even have the ambition your worthless, abusive father had."

"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Grey's scream cracks in the middle as he hangs the jacket alongside his Guard uniform, rounding on his mother. "Just stop it. I don't want to argue! I was just talkin' with Q after training." And there's a weakness for his mother to pounce on, and she does.

"I don't even know why you bother with her. She's never going to look at you, boy. She's too good for you in every way." This isn't what the boy wants to hear, especially not after the perfectly friendly conversation that the two Cadets had down at the mess hall. Friendly. Lucian's shoulders slump, and sensing victory, Joelle closes in, pressing the tip of her finger into her son's chest.

"Face it, Lucky. You're friend-zoned hard, and you're just wasting your time. You should've been cleaning this sty up like I told you to. You're never going to amount to anything." Lucian turns away from his mother, his fingers grasping tight to his father's jacket and his own uniform shirt as his mother continues, "You're never going to have any friends who aren't leeches, you're never going to be a Guard, and you'll never get in that girl's pants." Her voice lowers, purring venom from inches away, "The only good thing you ever did or ever will do is get your worthless, no-good, scum-sucking father killed."

And that does it. It's too much. The last straw. It's so easy for Lucian to reach out to his gear, hanging right in front of him. The cool metal of the shock baton feels good in his hands, feels right, and when he whirls about and snaps it out to his side, clearing it just like his father taught him, he can see the surprise in Joelle's eyes. And then her face hardens, and she opens her mouth to spit more bile and pain at him, but he doesn't give her the chance.

Electricity crackles in the small apartment, brightening the dimness and casting harsh shadows across the clutter. Joelle screams, and the energy arcs again and again, the baton rising and falling in young Lucian's hands.

Eventually, the screams stop. There is the thump-crackle of another blow of the shock baton, one more, and then the only sound in the room is the harsh breathing of Lucian Grey and his half-stifled sobs. Trembling from head to toe, he carefully thumbs off the shock baton, starts to collapse it, and then stops, looking at the smear of blood on the black steel through a blur of tears. Suddenly, it feels like everything he ever ate is crawling up his throat, and he drops the baton on the ground and rushes to the toilet, spewing his guts into the bowl in three hard clenches of his stomach, and then dry-heaving a time or three for good measure.

Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he staggers back to his feet, looking at himself in the mirror. He has to blink hard to clear his vision, and when he does, he wishes he hadn't. Spatters of blood dot his gray face, and he touches one, drawing the droplet out across a face that feels like someone else's. His eyes dart past his own reflection, to where his mother's body still lies unmoving on the floor. Is she? She has to be… doesn't she?

Slowly, jerkily, he turns around and walks back out into the living room, kneeling down and reaching out with one hand. For a long moment, he can't do it, but after three tries, he puts two fingers to his mother's throat. No pulse. Panicked thoughts run through his head, could I hide the body? The garbage chute? No, she won't fit — it won't fit. Grey looks around the messy room, bury the body in junk? No, smell. Break it down and get rid of — And then he stops. Pushes himself to his feet. No. That isn't gonna happen. I ain't gonna hide. I did it.

Grey picks up the shock baton again, wiping the blood off its segmented length with his mother's sleeve, and then collapses it, tucking it back into his webbing belt, and then he moves over to the comm, calling in to the duty-sergeant at Guard HQ, "Sergeant Escobar? This is Cadet Lucian Grey." There is a tremble in his voice, and it catches in his bile-roughened throat before he forces himself to continue, "I have a murder to report in my quarters." Surprise and shock paints the sergeant's face at the words and the Cadet's tear-streaked features, freezing in place as Grey continues.

"I did it. I killed my mother, Joelle Grey. I'll wait for the Guard patrol to arrive."

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