Disclaimer: The whole background universe of this story, including the Taelons and Kimera belongs to Roddenberry-Kirschner, and Tribune, among others. All characters that appear belong to me.

Notes: Just another one of those stray fics that tend to show up and bother me until I write them. Fortunately, this one didn't cause me too much trouble.

This is set several centuries (how long, I wasn't told) after "Shari's Letter". Having little experience with family law and related matters, I've probably made unforgivable alterations to whatever procedures there might be.

To fly, alone
By Estirose
Copyright 1999 

"Welcome back to the world," the voice said from above and to the side of me. I'd been blinking my eyes for the last few minutes, trying to escape the reality of finding myself in a hospital. A hospital, of course, is a somewhat unpleasant place for anyone to wake up in, but more so for any of my family. I turned my head, feeling sluggish as I attempted to manipulate myself to look at the speaker. "We've just noted your attending physician that you woke up. Would you like some water?"

I nodded. The owner of the voice, a young man probably not a huge amount over a decade older than me, reached for a pitcher and a glass. Pouring the water, he handed it to me, and watched me as I drank, making no comment other than to remind me to not gulp it. "Doc-tor Riley?" I managed to gasp out, naming our family's physician, who was one of the few people that knew about our family's true ancestry.

The young man, the nurse, shook his head. "Actually, Dr. Ri'alit's been treating you. He'll be the one stopping by. I understand that you have a few other visitors as well. You're going to be one busy girl for a while."

The name of my attending doctor sounded Kimera to me, which was not good. Not good at all. If this was, indeed, a Kimera, then the family secret was out, and all of my visitors were bad news. It also meant that my family was long-gone.

"How long have I been out?" I asked. "Last I remember, that guy was coming towards me...."

"Three days," the young man promptly responded.

Then my family would be gone, no doubt leaving me, and only me, a clue to where they went.

"I'll get Dr. Ri'alit now."

He left me alone. Unfortunately, now wasn't a good time to try escaping from here, for the Kimera physician was sure to note it as suspicious, and I wouldn't have much of a headstart if security went after me. I had to choose the most inconspicuous time possible, find my best route out of there, and find the people my family left the clue with.

But all I could do at that moment was lie helplessly on the hospital bed while some being with a Kimera-sounding name came to visit me. I needed food, I needed energy. Nothing could have gotten me out of that bed at that moment, not even the imminent arrival of Kimera authorities.

At some point in eternity, my doctor came in, confirming my worst fears. He was a typical Kimera, a vaguely humanoid shape of green-colored energy. The longer name possibly meant that he, like myself, was a variety of hybrid, not a pure Kimera. "Hello," he said effortlessly in common. "I am Doctor Ri'alit, your attending physician. I would like to know who you truly are."

I looked at him, confused. "Who I am?"

The physician raised a hand, palm out to me. "Please. Your parents have done you a great disservice. I only wish to help you in your health and happiness."

I folded my arms against my chest, deliberately hiding my hands. It was slightly rude by Kimera standards, but I was betting that the doctor was too well brought up to force me into a sharing. He made a motion equivalent to a sigh, and withdrew his hand. "Very well," he said finally, accepting the temporary defeat and scanning my readings from the monitor nearby. "You seem to have avoided any lasting injuries from your accident, and are healing within normal parameters. I would advise you to rest more until you are at full strength again."

"And then what happens to me?" I demanded.

"I understand a social worker will inform you of that. I believe she will be coming since she knows you are awake and there is some urgency of the matter. My hope is that you find happiness in what was taken away from you."

With that, the doctor left. I didn't blame him; I bet he wasn't used to running across people like me on a regular basis. Of course, thanks to regular Kimera stubbornness, he wasn't quite able to comprehend that someone might not be as enthralled at being Kimera as he was. I probably discombobulated him a bit. Of course, that probably meant he'd be bringing in somebody who could help me 'adjust' to the culture I'd been denied.

Slumping back in my bed, I prayed for the strength to leave before the Kimera took total possession of me. To them, breeding outside the Kimera was a big no-no, and it was a sure way to ensure that one would lose custody of one's children. The Kimera were big on Law but relatively liberal, except for a couple of sore spots. And right now, to the Kimera, my parents were criminals and I was the victim of their crime.

But to us, we hadn't committed a crime.

* * *

I was relieved to find that my social worker was human. She smiled at me, a smile that was probably meant to be reassuring but came off as nervous. I'm sure it was because of the unusual situation I was in. My parents were gone, not that it mattered. She was just a way for the Kimera to go through planetary legal procedures and still get me 'home'.

"Hello, Angharad," she said, sitting down in a chair by my bedside. The nurses had recently cleared away my lunch. "Or do you prefer another name?"

"Angharad's fine, thanks," I told her. All of my friends called me "Ang", "Hair", or "Harry", depending on what mood they were in.

"Okay, Angharad," she said, making a note down on a pad, before reaching out a hand. I was relieved to find it without red marks on the palm, marking her as a human and not a human-Kimera hybrid. Of course, as of late I've not had the red marks, so you can't tell everything. Cautiously, I shook her hand. "I'm Mary McAlee, and I work for Child Protective Services. I'm sure you're wondering why I'm here, and not your parents."

"Does this mean you bring bad news?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

She gave me a weak smile. "I wish there was a better way to break this to you... but, there isn't. Your grandparents, parents, and brother have disappeared. Since you are a minor child, we were called in to help. Basically, what we've done, is give temporary custody over to a set of foster parents until your real ones can be located. Because of your ancestry, the Kimera embassy has been kind enough to locate you a pair of Kimera who have agreed to take responsibility for you."

"Oh," I replied. I didn't want to give her or anybody else any indication that being placed into the custody of any Kimera wasn't a desirable event for me, in the fear that the Kimera might take precautions to make sure that I didn't get away.

To be honest, I should add here that the Kimera are not really bad sorts, and definitely better than the Taelons, in whose space humans live. It's just that with the necessity of rebuilding their species, they've had to put in effect certain laws that my family just doesn't agree with. If I allow myself to fall into Kimera jurisdiction, it's bye-bye choice for me, and I'd rather die than be forced into mating a Kimera.

Problem is, the Kimera won't understand that. They won't understand my ever-great-grandmother's desire to give her descendants the gift of living among humanity. No, we're way too precious for that.

Mary raised an eyebrow but said nothing, so I felt compelled to continue. "Sorry, I just feel like everything's so *unreal* right now."

She took my hand. "I understand. And don't be afraid. We are here to help you as much as we can. I'll be checking up on you periodically just to see if you're okay."

I think I managed a smile. "Thanks."

"You're welcome. If you're ready, I can give the go-ahead for your foster parents to meet you," she said. "You can say no, of course, but I thought you might want to meet the people taking care of you."

Having some insight into Kimera psychology, I knew that my foster 'parents' would only get the more anxious the more I refused them, and the less to make them suspicious, the better. I planned to be out of here before I had to go home with them. "Sure. I'd like to meet them."

She smiled again, and patted my hand. "I'll send them right in. They're rather impatient to meet you."

"Um, okay," I replied, as she got up.

Before leaving, she gave me a small card. "This is how to reach me, in case of emergencies. But don't worry. I'm sure you and they will get along just fine."

I'm sure I was still nodding when my two new 'parents' came in. Gah, how annoying can you get? I suppose they wanted to make me feel warm and welcomed, but there's no way that a pair of Kimera could do that.

"Look," I said, before they could start, "I want to make things clear at the start. I won't pretend I'm happy to see you. I'm not Kimera, I'm *human*, and I resent getting my life meddled with because I have Kimera ancestors. I don't even have a full memory of how to speak Kimera, for goodness' sake!"

The two of them looked at each other. "I'm sorry if I've offended you," I continued, aware that I had perhaps hindered my own plan. "But I know very well that you're not my temporary foster parents, you're my permanent ones, and even if the authorities find my parents it's not like they'll get custody back again. I don't want foster parents, I want my real ones. But if I'm stuck with you in the meantime, I'll make do."

"Actually," one of the Kimera replied in common, in a voice that sounded feminine to me, "You are only partially correct. We have only agreed to take on your care while you are here and for the period of time needed to make arrangements for permanent fostering."

Uh-oh. That meant likely that I'd be sent off-planet, either to reside in Kimera space or on a Kimera ship like the homeship my ancestor had been born and grown up on. There was no way that I could get back to my family if the Kimera succeeded in convincing CPS that my custody should be transferred to them.

"Let's... start at the beginning," the other said. I bet he was the male of the couple, and that these two were mated. "I am Ne'aliat, this is Kar'eto."

More hybrids, then, despite their appearance. I was betting that the female had some sort of human ancestry by her name, making her slightly more related than the male. "I'm Angharad," I replied.

"We are pleased to meet you, Angharad," Kar'eto replied. "We are the ones that will be responsible for your care while your parents are missing, and possibly a little after."

"Do you have kids yet?" I asked.

"Two," Ne'aliat replied. "Both are grown, and we are between children. We were chosen because we have parenting experience, and both of us have human ancestry."

Both of them had human ancestors? Somebody had brains to choose these two; even I felt a little at home knowing that they were kin. But I wasn't going to show that outwardly. "Oh," I said.

"We realize that this is an uneasy and unhappy experience for you, given your background," Ne'aliat told me. "And that you no doubt feel like being uncooperative. But we would hope that you would give us a chance despite your background."

"I can't promise anything," I said, honestly. Like I was going to be around long enough to worry about the Kimera trying to correct my mother's 'mistake'.

"We know," Kar'eto replied. "It only remains our hope."

* * *

Food had come, and I was gradually getting stronger. Strong enough, I hoped, that I could leave in the night. Just like my original hybrid ancestor had taught his daughter how to do all sorts of interesting and wonderful things, so had my family brushed up on those things we might need if trapped in a situation like this.

Around midnight, I felt strong enough to leave, trusting nobody would check in my room anytime soon. Checking my clothes, I found my pants and shoes were the only things to survive the trip. That was okay; I'd need scrubs anyway. I removed a pair of nail scissors I had pocketed away during a nurse's trip and used it to cut my databand. A few sneakings around later, some talent applied, and I was out of the hospital and heading towards a favorite hiding place I'd chosen long before.

Checking to see if everything was secure, I went to sleep.

* * *

"Harry?" a voice asked quietly as someone's shoe nudged me. I don't come out of sleep very well, but somehow I managed not to kick the owner of the foot.

"Yeah, it's me. Hi, Jezzy."

I'd known Jeremy since we both started school, and he knew all my spots, so I wasn't surprised to see him there, nor was I surprised when he sat himself down on the floor next to me. "You know a lot of people are looking for you?"

"Well," I drawled, "It could be because I didn't bother to go through all the procedures in checking myself out. How're things?"

He blinked. "Well, between your folks going missing and you going missing, we've had a lot of excitement around here."

"Well, *they* know, so I can't exactly stick around, and neither could my folks."

"Yeah," he said, tracing an arc in the ground with his foot. "I'm sorry. I tried to get them to get you to Dr. Riley, but they didn't listen to me."

I sat up. "Aw, I know you did your best," I told him soothingly. "Look, can you do a really big favor for me?"

He didn't even hesitate. "Sure. It's not like I don't owe you a couple, anyway."

"My family would have left a disk with somebody, either the neighbors or someone else they could have handed it to. Since it seems I can't go around in public, I need you to find it. It's got where they've gone and the location of some travelling funds in it, and I need it before I go anywhere."

"Got it," Jezzy replied. "Don't go anywhere."

"I'll try not to," I replied.

* * *

It seemed like hours passed, although Jezzy told me that it was less than two before he found the disc. "Told everybody I misplaced a school report, and really did so, just for realism. I don't think anybody realized it had anything to do with you."

"Thanks, Jezzy," I replied, holding the disc in my hands.

"Thought you might appreciate this too," he said, holding his disc reader.

I blushed. "Double thanks for that." Slitting the data disc into the reader, I quickly memorized the account and location information and deleted both the disc and any possible records on the machine. "Sorry I can't tell you where I'm going."

"That's okay," he said, though his eyes spoke otherwise, and for a moment, I felt sad. "Promise me one thing, though?"

"What?"

"I know it sounds hokey... but when it's safer, and we're adults, come and find me sometime."

"I'll do my best."

"You better go now," he said, "Before they find you."

Leaving him behind, I did. I had a long ways to go to find my family. But at least I knew one thing.

I was free.

-end


Earth: Final Conflict fics