Chapter 15: The Sins of the Father
Thankfully a prison was not something PR’s facility had need of full-time. ‘Detention’ consisted of shoving us into the old athletics equipment storeroom and posting two Deadmen to guard us.
It still managed to fit all the criteria of a gloomy prison cell. It was dark, windowless, lacked a toilet and stank of sweat, mildew and old leather.
The absent toilet worried me most. Not for the obvious reasons, just that it implied PR did not intend to keep us long-term.
“Fantastic.” Tachi grumbled. “This is another fine mess you’ve managed to talk us into.”
“Say what? This is my fault now? Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Ever since we first set foot on his soil Patriot Rap has treated us all as respected guests, afforded every courtesy. You’ve been awake for less than an hour and already we’re been thrown into a locker room and shut in the dark.”
I gave it a moment’s thought “Alright. When you put it like that it sounds compelling. But as PR clearly wanted to keep Atom for himself how else did you think this was going to play out?”
Tachi full-on growled at me. “For the love of god Dust. Don’t you think it’s possible that if you’d treated Kitty and PR with an ounce of respect that perhaps you might have been able to bring them on our side?”
“If you think I should have handled the debriefing differently, saying something at the time would have been helpful.”
“Because you would have listened.”
“What the fuck are you talking about? When have I ever rejected anything you’ve said out of hand?”
Tachi growled again. “When have you ever really listened either?”
“What? I’m sorry is this your female or your Japanese side that’s bringing this shit up because you’re not making any…”
I was swiftly interrupted by Tachi’s prosthetic fist in my gut. The impact knocked me right off my feet and a stray football broke my fall.
“Ooooph. Fucking hell mate.”
Tachi ‘Hmphed’ at me. “You have no-one to blame but yourself.”
My pain editor left me with nothing but the memory of the punch. I felt something warm and liquid inside my shirt. “I think you reopened my bullet wound.”
Tachi breathed a pained sigh.
I reached under my shirt to check. In the darkness I could only tell what the substance was by smell and taste. I smacked my lips. “Yeah that’s blood alright.”
Tachi grumbled something. Then suddenly blurted out. “I’m sorry Dust.”
“It’s okay.” I said. “I should have watched my mouth. Besides it should clot in a minute.”
“I cannot help but notice that isn’t really an apology.”
“Oh god. You want me to say I’m sorry, is that it?”
“It would help.” Tachi said sternly. “It would have helped with Kitty too.”
I groaned. “I blamed everyone.”
“I meant back in Melbourne.”
“What? I apologised for that?”
“You may have felt sorry Dust, but you never said it to Kitty.”
I rolled my eyes. “And that would have prevented PR from throwing us in here how?”
“That’s not the point Dust. The point is you expect everyone to behave like you.”
“What’s wrong with my behaviour? I’m focused on the task at hand, I keep a lookout for realistic dangers and I keep my whinging to a minimum.”
Tachi drew a breath to compose himself. “This is what I mean when I say you don’t listen. I never said there was anything wrong with your behaviour. What I said was wrong was your expectation that everyone should do things your way?”
Despite the darkness I held up my hand in surrender. “Alright, alright. I give up. I can’t be arsed arguing any more. What do you want me to do?”
I heard Tachi sit down in his patch of void. “I actually want to talk about something else, but I want you to listen and think, not say the first thought that pops into your head.”
I pulled myself up into a sitting position so I could at least be a little comfortable. “What do you want to talk about?”
Tachi didn’t say anything for a few moments. I didn’t realise he was also going to take his time thinking about his questions too.
“About our conversation in the container?”
“What… what do you think about… about what was said?”
“I think you told me you used to be a woman, then you got installed into a biopod and chose a male chassis for your prosthetic body. Was that about right?”
“I asked you to think about your answers.”
“Why was I wrong?”
“You’re missing the point again.”
I stopped myself from groaning at Tachi and thought it over. “You’re wondering if that somehow… changes something… aren’t you?”
“Well. It doesn’t.”
He had to be kidding me. “How does it not change anything?”
“How can it not change anything? One of the key factors of my identity used to be the exact opposite, had you met me when I was still a woman your reaction to me would have been entirely different. My race would have made less impact on how you would have behaved towards me than my gender.”
“Maybe I’m just an enlightened 21st Century guy?”
“Enlightened is never a word I would use in the same sentence as you.”
“What? Even if you had the word ‘not’ in there as well.”
“Not even then, I would find a way.”
“Stop dodging the issue Dust.”
Damn it, I thought a good laugh would clear everything up.
“What issue? So you used to be a chick. Who cares?”
“Everyone I’ve ever met cares. I was raised to believe that family came before everything, so I put my family and their needs above everything my entire life. Then once, just once, I step out and finally do something for myself and overnight I went from the golden child to the black sheep. Why? Because I defied the one aspect of my life that set everything else in stone.”
“I get that.” I said. “I get all of that. What I don’t understand is what any of this has to do with me. If you’d told me you’d once been a serial killer or committed an ethnic cleansing or you’d married a dog once, all of those I would have worried about. All of those are things you would have done, not things that you are.”
Tachi gave me a disappointed sigh.
I made an exasperated one. “What? What is it? You tell me you’re worried I won’t accept you, I’m telling you I totally do. What is it that I’m saying wrong here? What the fuck are you not telling me?”
“Let me put this in simpler terms: If I’d been a woman this entire time, would you have hit on me?”
I let an annoyed noise that halfway through realised he had a point and changed to an uneasy one.
“By this time? After everything we’ve been through… yeeeeaaaahhh I’d have totally hit on you by now.”
Tachi didn’t say anything.
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