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Story [Dark Matter] Off the Radar (Parallel Universe: Derrick/Catherine, Emily) - Complete

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Tarsier, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. Tarsier

    Tarsier Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Title: Off the Radar

    Fandom: Dark Matter

    Characters:
    ·Parallel Universe Derrick Moss (his alternate in the “normal” universe is called One)
    ·Parallel Universe Catherine Moss (her alternate in the “normal” universe does not appear on the show)
    ·Parallel Universe Emily “Das” Kolburn (her alternate in the “normal” universe is called Five)
    ·In flashback: PU Portia Lin (Two in the normal universe), PU Marcus Boone (Three in the normal universe), other PU Raza crew members

    Timeframe: In the parallel universe, sometime after Season 2, Episode 8: "Stuff to Steal, People to Kill." This is a sequel to my story It Just Is.

    Summary: This story takes place entirely within the parallel universe. Derrick and Catherine meet Emily and feel an instant connection.

    Word Count: ~3,800; three-shot

    Notes: If you are not familiar with the fandom, I would recommend starting with this story and not It Just Is, even though this is a sequel. I think this story stands alone better, although It Just Is does provide background to explain some of the confusion. If you are familiar with the fandom, definitely start with It Just Is. Constructive criticism is welcome.

    Other stories in this fandom: Season 1 Drabbles, Season 2 AU Drabbles, Meant to be a Lie




    Das tried to pull her jacket tighter around her. The air was frigid, with just enough of a breeze to bite through her thin layers.

    She’d been hanging around the building all day. It was getting prepped for an event that evening, with workers constantly walking in and out through the sliding doors. If she passed in front while the doors were open, she could feel a brief wash of warmth. Now, as the sun was starting to lower in the sky, when she passed by the doors she could smell food. She couldn’t tell exactly what was cooking, but it was a stark reminder that she hadn’t eaten in two days.

    She considered sneaking in. She could probably slip in behind the workers without them paying her any attention. Then she could at least warm up. And maybe once she was in, she’d be able to pilfer something to eat.

    But she didn’t. She was on the downward slide. If you were warm and had a full belly, it was much easier to confidently brush past someone and slide a wallet out of a pocket. Or casually slip a needed item up a sleeve or inside your jacket. Once you were cold and hungry—shivering, distracted, miserable—what should have smooth and easy, practically a game you’d played since you were six, became a cluster of shaking hands, dropped items, and the sound of voices berating your very existence.

    The last time it had been this bad was right before she first met TJ. TJ had saved her from the slide, introducing her to the group that would be her family for the next seven years.

    TJ wasn’t here this time. TJ was gone, the others were gone. It was just Das.

    - * -​

    Seated close together in the back of the town car, Derrick squeezed Catherine’s hand encouragingly. It had been a tough few weeks and he wasn’t sure they were ready for this. Even though it had been his idea.

    It would be their first public appearance since their world had shifted. Since the Five-Year Plan, the Ten-Year Plan, and the Twenty-Year Plan had all disintegrated in an instant.

    The first doctor’s appointment was bad. It was probably the worst moment of his life up to that point. But the doctor had calmly explained that these things happen, that this is why you don’t tell people right away, that this was merely a bump in the road. It was hard to accept, but there was still a path and they could move forward.

    The second appointment obliterated the path. The path, and the Plan, and everything he and Catherine ever thought they’d be.

    He’d spent the last ten years working long hours at the company because he wanted his family to be comfortable. He’d wanted his children to never want for anything. The last part would be true enough, he supposed—children that didn’t exist couldn’t want.

    They’d been told it was bad luck to pick out a name so early. Maybe they shouldn’t have.

    No. He’d never been superstitious and he wasn’t going to start now. The truth was it wasn’t meant to be. It never had been, even if they’d only just now come to know it. And he was glad that she’d had a name, for however briefly she was with them.

    Catherine shook Derrick’s hand, drawing his attention to the present. “We’re almost there.”

    - * -​

    As dusk settled in, Das made one last pass in front of the open doors. Guests were arriving, decked out in suits and fancy dresses. As much as she wanted to enter the building, she didn’t. Instead, she took one last, long look before seeking shelter for the night. She hated her cowardice, but she just couldn’t stand to be so close to so many strangers.

    She blamed the downward slide, but the truth was, she had lost her nerve. She’d seen the face of evil and she couldn’t overcome it.

    First her friends: Dead. All of them.

    Then, her escape. She’d thought she’d cheated death. Survived when her friends had not. That was just the beginning of the nightmare.

    She saw faces when she closed her eyes. The faces of evil. It wasn’t pain or bloodshed that she remembered, though she knew they were perfectly capable of both. It was their indifference that was vicious.

    But just when she thought it was over, when she thought the evil had overwhelmed her, killed her, she heard a noise. A quiet, simple sound: click. And so she survived. There was a little bit of goodness in the world after all, found in the least expected of places.

    - * -​

    “Are you ready for this?” Derrick asked.

    Catherine forced a smile. “As I’ll ever be.”

    Everyone was arriving at once. The towncar was half a block away, waiting its turn in line, when Catherine opened the door and exited the vehicle.

    “Catherine!” Derrick scrambled out after her.

    When he caught up to her a few steps away, he was afraid she would be distraught.

    She turned toward his with a pleasant enough expression. “You know I can’t stand to wait in line. I just wanted a bit of fresh air before going inside.”

    Relieved, Derrick waved the chauffeur away.

    It was chilly out, but he felt relatively toasty in his coat, scarf, and gloves. He found the cold air rather refreshing. It drew him out of his own head, and he noticed for the first time how lovely Catherine looked tonight. He didn’t have a chance to comment on it before Catherine was off, trotting down the sidewalk.

    “Emily? Emily!” Catherine called, as she hurried along. Derrick’s chest tightened upon hearing the name. The name would forever be full of emotion for him, but now, hearing Catherine shout it down the street, he was sure that this was a mistake, that he should have given her more time, that the pressure had gotten to her.

    Derrick scurried down the sidewalk behind Catherine, reaching for his com to call back the car.
     
  2. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh, wow. :(

    First off, I like the way the two POVs complimented and contrasted with each other, only to come together in the end. My heart broke for Das - Emily, and then for Derrick/Catherine in a completely different way. The last bit of this was a very, very poignant way to tie this together, and I enjoyed reading it, even with only being vaguely familiar with the characters.

    Excellent job, as always! =D=
     
    Tarsier likes this.
  3. Tarsier

    Tarsier Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Mira_Jade Thanks so much for reading!


    “Emily, Emily!”

    For a second Das froze. She’d never quite been able to completely tamp down her innate reaction to that name. She recovered quickly, lowering her head and hunching her shoulders against a sudden gust of wind. She leaned back into the building, waiting for the wind to die down before she continued her journey.

    “Emily.” A woman, dressed in various layers of white and tan, stopped in front of Das. “Are you alright?”

    “That’s not my name,” Das replied, but her voice was weak and the woman was wearing earmuffs.

    A man appeared beside the woman. The wind continued to gain steadily in intensity. The man’s scarf whipped in the wind, brushing across Das’s face. The woman had to put a hand on her earmuffs to keep them from blowing away. The wind easily cut through Das’s clothes and chilled her to the bone.

    “It’s cold out here. Why don’t you come inside with us?” The man held a hand out, and it took Das several seconds to realize the invitation was directed at her.

    “I can’t,” she replied, but her words were eaten by the wind.

    The woman reached out, took Das by the arm, and started to lead Das toward the warm entrance of the building.

    Torn between wanting to fight and desperately wanting to get warm, Das went along with the woman, shifting away from her grasp as soon as she could but continuing toward the building entrance.

    Once inside, enveloped in warmth for the first time in ages, she nearly cried.

    The man and woman immediately started shedding layers—gloves, earmuffs, coats—and handing them to an android. Das was not about to give up any of her meager layers and when the android held an arm towards her she shook her head and crossed her arms tightly in front of her.

    “Thank you,” Derrick said as the first android left and another approached.

    “Derick Moss. Catherine Moss. Your table is ready for you. Mr. Der Hoeven and Ms. Brand have already arrived.” The second android turned his head to Das. “I see you have a guest. Will she be sitting with you?”

    “Yes,” the man—Derrick, apparently—replied. “But we’d like a different table. Something a bit more out of the way, if you please.”

    “And,” Derrick looked from Catherine to Das and back again, “Tell Darius he’ll have to make the speech. I’m just not up for it tonight.” He smiled, in a way that lit up his eyes, and put an arm around Catherine’s waist. He held his other arm out toward Das, but she did not approach. He smiled at her anyway, and nodded to the android, who started to lead them deeper into the building.

    Das followed.

    -*-​

    Derrick smiled and nodded a greeting to each acquaintance they passed on the way to the table. He pretended everything was perfectly normal, even though it was far from it. Many of the people they passed had pity in their eyes and tilted their heads in sympathy. The word was out, apparently. He and Catherine had not been eager to share their private pain, but neither had they tried to hide anything.

    He kept looking sideways as they walked, in a gesture he hoped everyone would interpret as loving glances at his wife, but really he was trying to keep an eye on Emily. She seemed to be following them, although she had fallen a ways behind.

    He called her Emily, but was that even her name? Catherine seemed certain, but Derrick wasn’t so sure. What were the odds of the girl appearing here, now? And more to the point, why would she be here?

    Catherine, who Derrick had often joked could read his mind, leaned in, her lips inches from his ear. “Maybe she ran away. Wouldn’t you?”

    Catherine separated herself from Derrick, pausing to wait for the girl while Derrick continued to follow the android.

    The resemblance was remarkable, he’d give her that.

    -*-​

    “We met your parents.”

    Das, who had been tearing her way through her third roll, looked up at Catherine. “You knew my parents?”

    Her heartbeat rose with excitement and the remains of the roll fell from her fingers. Das had always desperately wanted to know more about her family, and the strangeness of these people having known her parents barely processed amidst her eagerness to know more. “I barely remember them at all. Please, tell me everything.”

    “I’m sorry.” Derrick reached his hand towards Das’s wrist, but stopped short of making contact. “We mean your adoptive parents. We met them a few weeks ago.”

    Das blinked and leaned back in her chair. The disappointment was a smack of cold water to her face. Beyond the disappointment, it was a puzzling thing for him to say. She looked him in the eye, wondering what the game was, and just how bad things were going to get.

    “I’ve never been adopted.”

    “But…but we met your parents. Becky and Titch. They had your photo. It was you, I’m sure of it.”

    “I don’t know anyone named Becky or Titch.” Derrick and Catherine continued to look at Das, the creases in their foreheads deepening as confusion settled in.

    “What did they look like?” Perhaps someone was playing a joke on all of them, though Das could not fathom who it might be.

    “Well they looked like…I mean if I had to make a comparison…well, to be honest they rather resembled Portia Lin and Marcus Boone.” Derrick fiddled with his silverware as he spoke, and kept glancing from the table to Catherine.

    Das once again felt cold, despite the warmth of the building. “The mercenaries? From the Raza?”

    Derrick straightened his silverware on the table and looked at Das. “Yes. But it couldn’t have been them. Why would they even…? I’m sure it wasn’t them. But whoever it was, they had your photo.”

    “Titch had a scar on his cheek. He couldn’t have been Marcus,” Catherine added.

    Das’s mouth was dry and she thought she might be sick. The face, one of the ones that haunted her, was vivid in her mind’s eye. “Marcus has a scar on his cheek. I know, I’ve seen it.”

    “He…does?”

    Das didn’t respond. A serverdroid appeared with the next course, taking the focus off Das. She pushed away all thoughts of the past and focused on the food in front of her. What happened weeks ago didn’t matter when she had the opportunity to fill her stomach right now.

    -*-​

    Catherine had gone to the ladies’ room, so it was just Derrick and Emily at the table.

    Derrick carefully finished chewing a bite of food and cleared his throat. “Thank you.”

    Das looked around, though there was no one else within the sound of Derrick’s voice. “Me? I haven’t done anything.”

    “You’ve done more than you know. I hadn’t seen Catherine’s smile in weeks before she met you.”

    Just then, Derrick noticed Darius waving to him. He waved back, hoping that would be the end of it, but that just lead to Darius beckoning to him. Derrick tried to wave him away, but that just intensified the beckoning.

    Derrick turned toward Emily. “I need to leave for a minute, will you be okay?”

    Emily nodded.

    “You’ll stay here?”

    He got no response, but she was busy eating, so Derrick hoped she would stay put for a few minutes.
     
  4. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh, poor Emily. :(

    Yeah, this is quite the mess for Derrick and Catherine to sort through, especially when they are dealing with their own personal pain, but you definitely are tugging on all of the right heartstrings while doing so. I'm intrigued to see the resolution of this in the next part. =D=
     
    Tarsier likes this.
  5. Tarsier

    Tarsier Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Mira_Jade Thank you very much for commenting! Seeing your comments always make my day! :)


    “I can’t make the speech tonight.” Derrick followed Darius as he weaved his way toward the VIP table at the front of the room.

    “That’s not what this is about.”

    “Then what? I need to get back.” Derrick looked back towards his table, but couldn’t see it through the crowd. It was a good turnout, they ought to raise a lot of money for the charity.

    Worried about young Emily left all alone, and about what was taking Catherine so long to freshen up, Derrick nearly stumbled right into the VIP table.

    Recovering his balance, Derrick saw the table was a flurry of activity. People were jabbing at their tablets, hissing into their coms, and jotting and exchanging quick notes.

    “It’s the Raza,” Darius explained. There’s been another attack. This time they hit Alderaun, just one system away from here. No word on the extent of the damage yet, but at a minimum it will be disrupting trade routes in this sector for months. I don’t know if we’ll be able to go through with the announcement tomorrow.”

    “Have we sent aid?”

    “Yes, we are just about to dispatch a small taskforce to investigate firsthand and render what help they can.”

    “You’re sure it was the Raza? Mekkei doesn’t have major installations on Alderaun, none of the corporations do.”

    “None that we know of,” Darius corrected. “The reports are a small ship appeared out of nowhere, decimated the planet, and disappeared. Who else could it be?”

    “Almost anyone,” Derrick countered. Darius wasn’t listening; he was focused on a tablet someone had thrust into his hands.

    It could have been anyone behind the attack, but logically the Raza was the most likely candidate. At war with at least one of the major corporations at any given time, they had been terrorizing the galaxy with random attacks for months. Before now, none of them had occurred in this sector. It was naïve to have expected that to last.

    Looking around at the frantic activity around the table, Derrick was sure there was nothing he could add at this point. He might as well return to Catherine and Emily.

    -*-​

    Emily was smiling, that was the first thing he noticed. One of the serverdroids, tray in hand, was stopped at the table. Derrick overheard him speak.

    “Yes, your joke is very humorous.”

    “Then why aren’t you laughing?” Emily asked.

    “I am not programmed for levity.”

    Emily laughed. “Says who?”

    “I must continue with my duties.” The android left, and Derrick returned to the table.

    “You like androids?” Derrick asked.

    “Yes.” Emily took a few more bites of food, then she paused and looked at Derrick. “You’re nice to them. You say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Most people, especially people dressed like you, aren’t nice to them.”

    “To be honest, I’m not that comfortable with androids. I didn’t grow up around them, I’m not sure how to act around them. But they seem like people to me, so that’s how I treat them.”

    Emily was quiet for a moment, and when she spoke her voice was low. “Androids are people. They say they can’t feel emotions, but that’s not true. Some androids are more human than some people.”

    Emily looked up at Derrick just as Catherine returned. “You were talking about the Raza, earlier. I…I was on that ship.”

    -*-​

    Portia led the way. Marcus held one of her arms, another man—she hadn’t caught his name—held her other arm. The Android followed behind.

    They held her so her feet could not touch the ground; they hadn’t appreciated it when she’d dug her heels in at the start.

    She kicked. She screamed. She used every ounce of strength she possessed to try to break free. It was no use. It only made them grip her arms harder. They were already gripping hard enough to bruise, a little more and she feared they would break her bones.

    Exhausted, she stopped struggling and tried to catch her breath. She hoped her captors would relax their grip and maybe she would be able to catch them off guard. No such luck.

    She had one last hope. There was one person on the ship who had voted not to space her. He’d given her a sympathetic look after the decision was made. He’d walked away, not participating further but seeming resigned to her fate. If she could reach him, maybe he would help her, protect her from the others. She took a deep breath and screamed, louder than she’d ever screamed before. It wasn’t going to be bloody, but she screamed murder for all she was worth.

    He never came.

    They arrived at the airlock and Portia slapped a panel, opening the inner door. The men threw her to the ground and the door was closed behind her before she could turn around.

    Her throat ached from the useless screaming and she was crying now, tears streaming down her face. “Please,” she begged. Portia looked her straight in the eye, without a glimmer of compassion. Das sank to the floor, knowing it was over. She couldn’t save herself and no one would help her.

    Marcus raised his hand, about to hit the button that would open to space. Fifteen seconds. That’s how long a human could survive in space. That’s what remained of her life. She was about to start counting down when she heard it.

    -click-

    Marcus hit the button, but nothing happened.

    “What’s going on?” Marcus turned angrily to the Android. “Why ain’t it opening?”

    “I’m sorry, there appears to be a malfunction with the outer door. It is…jammed.”

    “Well, unjam it.”

    “I cannot. It is too dangerous to attempt repairs on the airlock while in space. Repair will have to wait until the ship is docked.”

    “Dangerous, my ass. Just fix the stupid door.”

    “Actually, I’ve got a better idea,” the other man said. “I know a guy that’ll pay good money for a girl like her. No sense in jettisoning valuable cargo.” He had such a wicked smile, Das suddenly wished the outer door would open. “In fact, open the door. I’ll make plenty of use of her in the meantime.”

    The Android stared blankly ahead. “I cannot.”

    “We just opened the inner door! Open it again!”

    The Android pivoted to face the man accosting her. “The safety of the crew is my highest priority. Opening the inner airlock while the outer airlock is malfunctioning would place the entire crew at significant risk.”

    “We’ll risk it.” The man moved to hit the button. Portia stopped him.

    “The Android said no. Now get outta here! Both of you.”

    Scowling, the men departed.

    After a moment, Portia turned to the Android. “This door stays closed. She doesn’t come out, nobody goes in.”

    “Understood.”

    Several hours later, the ship docked at a space station. The second the ship touched down Das heard it again—the sound of her life being saved:

    -click-

    The sound of the emergency lock. This time it was being disengaged. Soon the door to the outside opened. She leapt to her feet and ran, never looking back.

    The android had saved her. The android, with her neural link to the ship’s computer, could control any aspect of the ship at any time without any outward indication of what she was doing. Against programming, against direct orders from her crew, that android had saved Das’s life. There was no logical explanation why, other than that she possessed more compassion, more humanity, than the entirety of the human crew on that ship.

    -*-​

    “Those people—the ones who claimed to be my parents—I don’t care what they looked like. They weren’t Portia Lin and Marcus Boone. You would have known if it was. People like them, they can’t pretend to be normal.”

    Derrick nodded. “There was an attack by the Raza just a few hours ago. On Alderaun in the next system. I’m sure it’s not related, but the timing is unsettling. I’ve worked very hard to keep CoreLactic off the radar of the Raza, but if they’ve decided to target the company…”

    “Since they haven’t blown you to pieces yet, if they’re interested in your company it’s because they want your tech. What kind of security protocols do you have? Have you dumped the hack logs? Done a full scan of all systems looking for any anomalies?”

    “Umm…” Derrick looked around the room. “I’m sure we have security, but tech isn’t really my area.”

    Then Derrick settled his gaze on Catherine, smiling as a new thought struck him. “But you know a lot about this tech stuff don’t you? Would you be able to… do what you just said?”

    “With full access to your computer systems, sure, no problem.”

    “Alright, then. How’d you like a job with CoreLactic Industries, Emily?”

    She hesitated.

    Catherine beamed excitedly. “If it’s the commute you’re worried about, we have a spare bedroom in our condo just a few blocks away from headquarters. You’re more than welcome to stay there. Or we could find you your own little apartment. CoreLactic could help with the relocation costs.”

    Emily looked from Catherine to Derrick. It seemed too good to be true, but what did she have to lose? “Okay. I accept.”
     
  6. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    A very good read.

    Not being familiar with the fandom, and your SyFy link taking too long to load on my phone, I needed Catherine's recognition of Emily to start getting an idea of what was going on.

    Now, if this is purely a tv show, no written media or spin-offs, then I am mightily impressed with your material in the first chapter, describing the slide, and the effects it and the cold were having on Das.

    Very good characterisations for all the main characters in the three chapters, as well as the Androids - for one to have a neural link, is there some human or organic matter in there?
    Great descriptions at a pro-fic level of quality, from walking past automatic doors to get blasts of warm air, to how the Raza crew held her as they carried her.

    I'm not sure what to say about you carrying the 'click' secret between chapters; if I had not reached the third chapter, I would have thought someone's gun ran out of bullets before topping Das.

    An easy 10/10, and if you'll allow me to, for the first time, channel the British Schools' Examining Board, you can have an A Star as well. Excellent work for such a recent fandom.
     
    Tarsier likes this.
  7. Tarsier

    Tarsier Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Sith-I-5 Wow! Thank you so much for reading! And for leaving such a nice review! :cool:

    Not being familiar with the fandom, and your SyFy link taking too long to load on my phone, I needed Catherine's recognition of Emily to start getting an idea of what was going on.
    Thanks for feedback! I changed the link to the wikipedia page, that should load faster and is probably a lot more helpful. I do wonder if having only a vague idea of the show would actually make things more confusing - the show takes place largely on a spaceship and features a lot of people running around in black leather with big guns, very little of which happens in this story… :p

    Now, if this is purely a tv show, no written media or spin-offs, then I am mightily impressed with your material in the first chapter, describing the slide, and the effects it and the cold were having on Das.
    The show, or at least the first couple episodes, is based on a comic book (I haven't read it). The show begins with six characters who have no memory of who they are. Without their memories, they become rather different people than who they were. Here, Derrick and Emily are essentially the pre-show characters (with memories intact), but with the extra twist that this is a parallel universe where certain past events are different. So the characters here are more or less twice-removed from the characters on the show.

    for one to have a neural link, is there some human or organic matter in there?
    Good question! Androids look completely human (and are played by regular human actors), but I believe are supposed to be entirely metal/circuits/wires/etc beneath the surface. Humans can also form a neural link to the ship’s computer (though it soon makes them go insane), so it's possible androids have some organic components. Accurate science is not the show’s strong point….

    I'm not sure what to say about you carrying the 'click' secret between chapters; if I had not reached the third chapter, I would have thought someone's gun ran out of bullets before topping Das.
    Thanks for sharing your reaction, it is always nice to see what readers are thinking! The click coming from an empty gun was a good guess. I expected that the ultimate conclusion of the story - Derrick/Catherine and Emily coming together and helping each other – would be quite predictable, so I was looking for suspense elsewhere. I believe fans of the show would assume that Das had been spaced on the Raza, so I was hoping to keep people reading to find out how she survived.

    Thanks, once again for your comments! I’ve never received an A Star before, that is very exciting!![face_party]
     
    Sith-I-5 likes this.