Great men walk with pride, shoulders held high in adversity. “Walk with dignity in the rain,” was an old family saying. When it rains you can’t control it, running, scampering about is beneath you. Take measured strides and show the world, the rain itself you do not care. For you are noble, holder, a knight of the Kingdom…
Today, Kithrus Crases did not feel like a great man.
He walked slowly toward an old terminal in a chapel off the main family estate.
His cybernetic hand tapped at the tech long in need of maintenance. He inserted a data disk and waited for the obstinate machine to acknowledge it.
It wasn’t necessity that drove him to use this terminal in a forgotten mausoleum. It was the desire for privacy away from prying eyes on an off network computer too outdated or too unimportant to monitor. Be it by the Cheshm Khan or other capsuleer powers interested in cutting Kithrus down publicly.
The old machine finally began reading the disk. Normally used to document the dead buried here the task offered it while not hard was something it haven’t done in years.
A holo projector spun to life. A seemingly old man with a metal cane stood before him in plain brown robes.
Kithrus smiled weakly.
“It finally happened old friend.”
The image smiled and fetched a mechanical smoking device from pocket. It took a few pulls and exhaled a shimmering proxy of vapor. The image motioned Kithrus to sit listening intently.
The holder did on the steps of the main alter near by facing the holo.
“I wish I could say it was lung cancer or something I could blame on that damned thing.”
The image smiled again, head shaking as old men’s are want to do when amused like a court jester wiggling it’s tassel bells.
“I’d have paid for it and you’d have gone along as if you were doing me a favour, instead of the other way around. Buy you a few more years but we both know you suffered from countless ailments.”
The image smiled again laughing internally as if the effort too laugh properly would be painful.
“Your son called me last night. Told me you passed away without fanfare. I talked to you not ten days prior. You had so many things wrong with you I’d have never known it was the last. I suppose that’s why you made this program, just Incase you passed because you fell down your own damn steps in the morning.”
The image laughed softly this time, the terminals old system made the sound as if it was crackling.
“You were a good friend. Even with poverty you’d still walk every other day too my house. You’d bring a drink when you knew I needed it despite you couldn’t afford too.”
For the first time the old man spoke. Slowly at first as if the effort pained him or couldn’t find the words.
It was unexpected none the less. Kithrus jumped at the sound.
“I liked visiting you.” It chided.
“You taught me so much …”
“Nothing you couldn’t have done on your own.”
Kithrus bit back a sharp retort, the image laughed softly.
“Life is a great cosmic joke.” The young holder said finally.
The holo nodded.
“You never were religious. You played the part but you were always honest with me. My father hated you and I loved you all the more.”
Another laugh, this time without holding back.
Taking another puff the reply came and it hurt.
“Because I would not see you become a monster.”
“You don’t know what I’ve done…” Kithrus began.
“Yes I do. I was there. You did what you had too. To survive in this Kingdom, in this Empire, in this tiny corner of the universe. I watched you do terrible things to get away with good things unacceptable to the public eye. As I’ve always told you; if not you, some other noble would do it. Consider those things done, it’s the others that define you.”
“I been neglecting my people in space, the real work I want to do. How can I do it without you to ground me?”
A mechanical chuckle replied;
“You’ll come here to your old family tomb and talk till you don’t need too.” It smiled taking another pull from it’s virtual smoke.
“Then destroy this disk when you are ready.”
“You never needed me Kithrus. You need to grieve. To shout at a ghost of a man you can no longer talk too. There’s no great secret in this program. No hidden archive you couldn’t find. No passwords you couldn’t crack on your own. There are things you can use but nothing you can’t do on your own.”
Another pull and shimmering vapour filled the chapel on exhale.
“I brought you a drink because you needed a friend. Now you have Graelyn, Caisius who held your dream together while you took care of family. You have this disk till you don’t need too. Cosmic joke Kith, I know my place as a stepping stone in life. Now the river claimed me like I knew it would but lest I helped you cross. I accept my fate, now fulfill yours.”
Kithrus one real eye shed a tear.
“I’ll miss you.”
“Good, that means you aren’t the monster you fear.”
The image disappeared.
So like him to code a sudden exit, Kithrus thought.
With dignity Kithrus walked out of the chapel holding a broken disk. Striding off toward his house shoulders back, head held high.
He walked on in his emotional rain on a sunny day.