I’m supposed to be working on the script for our Doctor Who fan production. Shame on me. But Paul McGann plays both the Doctor (the eighth one) and Lieutenant Bush and Bush in the movies just has this sort of wry, understated humor that was absolutely fantastic and I was sort of daydreaming and then this plot bunny came up. (Hornblower and Bush make such a dynamic team and are such awesome friends and if you dare to disagree with me I will find you and feed you to the Kraken.)
If you were wondering, this actually references some events from the books but is closer to the movies for characterization.
I give you: the Hornblower final frontier resistance AU you never knew you wanted! Late merry Christmas (and especially you, WriteFury! 😉 )
I am determinedly angry today.
I would say I’ve never been this angry in my life before, but I’ve been angrier. There were bullies in the group home I grew up in and I learned righteous anger early. I still haven’t learned prudence, it seems.
But this morning I woke up, remembered, and decided to hold on to that anger. I am not going to die of gangrene here. There is no British Empire any more, and some would argue that there’s no reason to fight any more. That’s another thing I always have been, though—stubborn. Stubborn as an Old Earth mule.
I wouldn’t know an Old Earth mule if one fell on me out of an apple tree—which is another thing I have never seen. Child of the Frontier, me. Born and abandoned on Proxima Centauri X, the planet no one bothered to name, just numbering it after its star. I don’t even know if I’m remotely British in extraction. But the cause sounded right to me, and that’s why I’m here, right now—William Bush, Third Lieutenant of the HMS Resistance—before it was destroyed. Not even a citizen. And now a prisoner of war. Though Napoleon’s new Empire—New France, though it’s really only a pretense at a culture no one really remembers any more—wouldn’t call it that. To them, we’re anarchist upstarts.
The door creaks open and I look up, though there’s really only one person it could be. It’s a two-room suite in a prison that used to be a hotel, and the front room door has been sealed for the past few weeks, ever since they threw us in here and forgot about us. It’s not so bad… except that Horatio keeps banging on that front door and shouting that we need a doctor.
He might as well not waste his strength or wear his voice out. There is no one coming. The men out there—our jailers—aren’t even military men. They don’t have the same ancient code that we try to uphold. No civilian really understands a soldier. It’s a basic truth of the universe. Their security systems—stolen and smuggled out of Ganymede, no doubt—are good, but nothing else about this place is. They probably haven’t even posted regular guards. Horatio’s clever and I have almost twenty-four years of experience. We’ll find a way out of here.
Just as soon as my leg heals and provided I can fight off any infections that I’ll doubtless contract with no medical care.
Horatio Hornblower, twenty-three, from the Mars colony. Absolutely British, right down to the core. If I’m fighting because the cause was one I could believe in, he’s fighting for his home and the memory of his family. Not that he ever talks about them, but he had one. His father was a doctor who knew a Captain Keene, and I guess it must have seemed like the thing to do at the time.
He’s looking at me now. What is that expression? Is it concern or pity? I don’t want pity. I have no use for it.
“How are you doing?”
It’s almost like he’s never seen an injured man before. No, that’s not entirely accurate. This was… a friend, I guess, though we sort of empathized with each other, in passing—this is the first time we’ve ever had a sustained conversation. It’s rather pathetic, really—almost like he’s never had an actual friend in his life. Or like he’s not quite sure what he’d do if he found one.
“I’m going to heal, and we’re going to escape,” I say firmly. He nods, doubtfully.
“It looks bad.”
“I’m still going to survive. I’ve decided I’m not dying here, and I’m not about to change my mind.” That surprises a sort of snort out of him, and it’s a little bit funny.
“You know, there were veterans of the Taurus civil war, back at home… On Earth, they make prostheses. Good ones, too,” Horatio says hesitantly. I give him a level look.
“I hacked their Ethernet on our first day here. Those get bugs on almost a daily basis. No, I’m going with wood—something I can rely on. I am going to learn to walk again.” There’s a sort of admiration in his smile.
“How long do you think you’ll be?” he asks, sounding a bit less awkward, a bit more considerate, a bit more compassionate, and much more human. He sits down—backwards—on one of the ladder-backed chairs and laces his fingers, resting them on the top slat and his chin on them, brown eyes boring into me. I smile.
“I can’t say exactly, but I’m determined that it’s going to be less than a week,” I say firmly. He smiles.
“I have an idea for us to escape.”