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Andrew Murphy

Aberrant: The Long March - Delta Earth: The End of Andrew; Part 1: Loss [Fin]

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March 27, 2049 - Murphy Hospital and Clinic, Topeka, Kansas

Andrew sat at the bed and flipped through the pad in his hand. He reviewed stocks and bonds, research results, sales figures, and more. Anything he could to focus past the steady beep and the IV drip that, to him, sounded like a bad faucet. His left hand tapped on the micro thin computer as he scrolled through another dry report on some marketing pitch for the new photo reactive polymer that his company was working on. His right hand held the withered hand of the bed's occupant. An elderly woman, her hair think and white, her skin wrinkled with age. He felt the hand squeeze his ever so slightly and he turned away from the pad, a look of concern on his face that turned to a smile as he saw the woman's eyes open. "Happy 100th anniversary my love."

The woman smiled faintly, "And?" she asked as though expecting something more.

Andrew laughed, "Happy 125th birthday. I wanted to get you a cake, but your doctor said it wouldn't do."

"You liar," she replied, her voice strong despite her aged body, "You just want the whole cake for yourself ... Dr. Murphy." There was mirth in her voice and her smile was as beautiful as the day he had met her.

*****

July 4th, 1946

The second World War was finally over. Despite their efforts Andrew, Joani, and Ulric had been unable to overcome the force of history. They had been able to delay its start and greatly decrease its scope but it would still go down in history as the greatest conflict in world history. In the end it went down much as it had on Andrew's home world. Andrew had, despite the danger that he could in fact still die, fought in both Europe and the Pacific.

Today though, he wad finally home, or at least finally back in the United States. There were parades and celebrations. People bought the GIs drinks, and women all but flung themselves at the returning soldiers. Through a crowded Times Square, he saw her. Christine had a smile that could stop a man in his tracks; it certainly stopped Andrew in his. For the first time in a hundred years or more Andrew felt the pull of sexual attraction. Like a serpent he wove his way through the crowd, stopping only when he lost sight of that smile, and continuing once he found it again. In the end their first meeting would be shared with millions as a photographer from Life magazine shot the handsome soldier sweep the young woman from her feet and kiss her deeply.

*****

"Caught me," he replied, his smile light. "I love you as much today as I have ever."

"My husband, the sweet talker. I'll forgive you this time." Christine took a labored, deep breath, "How much longer?"

"Not long now I'm afraid, there's simply no more I can do. I knew the longevity drugs worked, I should have started you on them sooner, much sooner." His face bore a sadness more profound than any before it. In all his life he had never felt so helpless.

She patted his hand, "It's alright, 125 years is plenty long to live. Sometimes I can't even imagine your life. Or I think how scandalized my parents would have been if they had known your true age. You've given me a wonderful life, I've no regrets except that I have to leave you alone." She closed her eyes, she couldn't bear to see him cry. After a long silence she said, "Though I do wish I could go flying one more time."

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June 3, 1948

The picnic had gone well, despite the wind, and the sudden short rain storm, and the ants, but aside from that it had been a wonderful afternoon. Andrew lay on the blanket, now located well away from the ants and now dry after the rain, beside him Christine stared up into the sky. "Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be a bird? To be able to fly free on a day like this?"

Andrew smiled at her question, "Nope. Well, I used to, but not anymore."

She turned her head to regard him with crystalline green eyes, "Why not anymore? Did you turn into a bird and flitter about the neighborhood last weekend while I was away?" She laughed at her own question, the sound was precious, infectious, and Andrew smiled in return.

"No, but," he stopped and sighed, "Would you like to see what it feels like to fly?"

"I've been in a plane dear, you take me up all the time."

"That's not what I meant ..."

*****

Andrew disconnected the monitors and the IV, removed the sensors gently, slowly disconnecting his wife from the machines that could have sustained her for days yet. Even without the massive strength afforded by his body's quantum use she felt light as he lifter her into his arms. A tendril snaked out and pushed the French doors to the balcony open as he walked around the bed. Once outside it was a small matter to produce great white feathered wings powerful enough to lift them both into the sky.

*****

"How are you doing this?" Her voice was tinged with excitement as the ground under them rolled away and they gained altitude under the powerful beats of two great wings.

"The same way that the Super Girl is able to do what she does. One day I will introduce you to her, if I don't she'll never speak to me again. We are not of this world, though we are from Earth. I could explain exactly how we are able to do what we do but I do not want to bore you, it is enough that we can do these things."

"Yes," she was looking at him now, and he seemed caught off guard. He inquired what she was saying yes to. "Yes I will marry you." His eyes widened, and they dropped ten feet as he forgot to keep the wings spread wide. "I found the ring months ago, I cannot believe you left it in your coat pocket like that. You tried to hide it but I saw the box under the plates when you were setting lunch up. Don't look at me like that, you aren't the only person in the world with eyes Andrew."

He flew onward, quiet for a moment. "You do not know everything about me, I have so much yet to tell you," he said.

"I know I love you, that is enough."

*****

The winter air was chill but the blankets and Andrew;s warm body kept Christine comfortable. She could feel the life ebbing out of her and she looked up into her husbands face, his features were no longer artificially aged, he looked now as he did when they first met. "Thank you Andrew, my love." She closed her eyes and turned toward his chest, his face and his embrace were the last things she had in her mind as she released her hold on life. In all his years Andrew had never felt so alone or such sorrow as in that moment.

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June 3, 2138

Andrew pushed away from the computer, he couldn't believe what he was seeing, he didn't think it was actually possible.

The computer displayed the Global News Network feed. Prominently at the top of the screen it declared, "Tragedy in Space." It got worse from there for Andrew, the subtitle read, "Super Woman Dead." Andrew shook all over and then forced himself to read onward.

Originally Posted By: Breaking News - GNN Top Story
Tragedy in Space

Super Woman Dead

Breaking Story

Reports are coming in from the Mercury rescue operation that Super Woman has died. GNN feed from Daedalus Mission flagship Scutum shows Super Woman attempting to retrieve a disabled launch vessel from Daedalus base when the Hades solar flare engulfed the launch, Super Woman and Daedalus base. Scutum has been unable to pick up transmissions due to the magnetic and radio wave distortion caused by the flare. UNS Officials refuse to declare Super Woman or any of the scientists in the launch or base dead but one did say, "...it would be a miracle indeed if any of them survived."

Andrew shut the power to the terminal off and stumbled blindly away, tears flowed freely in a way that he had not experienced since the death of his wife. He was alone now, the last of the three novas. He was alone, and buried under the grief was the feeling that he no longer had a place in this world.

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In the end we all die, even a nova cannot escape death forever ...

Andrew, by virtue of his place at the head of one of the world's great multinational corporations had been able to attend the official services and funeral. It was an ostentatious affair fit for a woman who had for more than two hundred years fought to make the world a better place for humanity. It was however a cold and sterile event as well. Nobody really knew who Super Woman was, her privacy had been guarded more fiercely than anything and despite the efforts of the best intelligence agencies of the world they knew next to nothing about her. The woman in the red and blue was a figure of myth and legend come to life for the people of the world. Andrew had assured that.

It had taken some effort to convince Joani to remain anonymous but Andrew had managed. He insisted that they govern their touch on the world carefully. It was easy to point to the horror that had been Michael Donighal, to the way that he had manipulated events and politics to suit his dreams of world domination. No technology on earth could surpass Andrew's and with it he ensured that Joani would never be tracked, traced, or photographed without her consent. For the most interesting public figure of the past two centuries she had managed a low profile.

The monument itself was simple, a statue raised on a plinth. The scene was of one of the few photographs that existed of her in action. She held two young children, one in each arm, and was walking out of the flames of a building. The image was iconic and no man, woman, or child on earth was not familiar with it. Before the statue was an eternal flame. Andrew has laughed to himself at the irony of a magnetically induced high energy plasma flame being part of the monument to a woman killed by a magnetically induced high energy plasma solar flare. The monument itself stood in a shallow bowl that rose away in every direction. One hundred and thirty seven columns stood in rings around the monument, each inscribed with the name of one of the Daedalus victims, those who were unable to escape the wrath of the flare known as Hades.

It was only a monument, there were no remains to be interred, no remains had survived the immolation. Andrew had confirmed that himself to be sure that there could be no attempt made to study Joani's genetics. This world was one without novas, and Andrew knew that the capability was not within these people. In time they would develop the more precise control of psi but that was tens or hundreds of thousands of years away. He had no intention of letting some amoral government or corporation use Joani's DNA to unravel the keys to quantum power. Quantum was too dangerous, too volatile.

One week later a short nondescript man had a headstone placed in a cemetery. The headstone was for a woman named Joani Reikspar. There was no remains to be interred, the woman was long dead for certain. The date on the stone read 2018, it was only a year after her husband whom was buried in the next plot over; Ulric Reikspar. "Together again at last my freinds, I do hope that whatever is beyond death allows you to be reunited." The short man with plain features walked away.

He'd lost the last person he cared about. It was time to leave and he had work to do.

End Part 1, The End of Andrew continues in Part 2: Leavetaking

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