Fandom: Jupiter Ascending
Summary: A brief meditation on life, death, and responsibility.
Disclaimer: The characters and situations in this story belong to the Wachowskis, Dune Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures, and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any. The opinions expressed by characters in this story may or may not be those of the author.
This is for Cincoflex, who said I could post it, and whose idea it was in the first place.
(Long-time readers will again note that I am reusing a title. Hey, Cinco said I could.)
“Each unit is refined from approximately a hundred human beings.”
A hundred. It’s a nice round number, easy to remember, and Jupiter does.
Over and over again.
It’s not a memory she enjoys recalling. The whole episode with Titus is deeply embarrassing to begin with, but beyond that is the absolute horror of learning exactly what Stinger had started to tell her and Kalique had been hinting around. Jupiter doesn’t even have to close her eyes to remember the cool dark room with its stacks and stacks of tubes, all faintly glowing; to feel again the slick glass against her palms and hear once more Titus’ exaggerated gasp as he let the cylinder slide from both their palms.
It had seemed a shocking waste, a hundred lives splattered on the floor, even though their intended use was an abomination.
And it haunts her. In quiet moments, rare as they are, Jupiter finds her thoughts drifting back to that glowing splash. So many plans, dreams, hopes. So much knowledge and endurance and love. All of it, reduced to a smear.
She has been six years a ruling Queen before the answer comes to her. It isn’t perfect, but by now she knows that nothing ever is.
It’s close enough.
One hundred lives.
Jupiter begins on Earth, because it’s dearest to her heart, and because she knows that whatever world that broken cylinder came from is empty now. And it’s easy, even if Earth has no idea it’s owned by the genetic duplicate of a 90,000-year-old woman. She already contributes to any number of charities - it’s the best use of Seraphi’s blood money that Jupiter can think of - but this is personal.
So she goes home, to start there. This is the kind of task that Keepers excel at, and she sets them to hunting, and they bring her back a list.
She plans to choose just one, but then Jupiter looks at the sheave and thinks Screw it.
“All of them,” she says, and highlights each one with a tap of her finger. “Let’s do them all.”
So a mother and three kids living in a homeless shelter find out that a distant relation they’ve never heard of has died and left them a pretty little house in a clean neighborhood.
An elderly man faced with spending all his savings to be able to move into public assisted living is handed a room in the best private nursing home around, free of charge.
A young woman who struggles to make it to work in a much-repaired wheelchair discovers a brand-new powerchair outside her front door.
And a cancer patient without health insurance is told that all his bills have been paid - and that all future bills will be covered as well.
For this, Jupiter uses old-fashioned paper and pen, drawing four vertical lines and putting a fifth line through them, and then adding two more next to the first ones. It’s a start.
None of those around her really understand. To Stinger Harvesting is ugly, but he’s a soldier, and Recell has healed more wounds than he can remember. To Kiza, it’s life and health restored, and Jupiter can’t blame her for it.
She doesn’t even try to explain it to Kalique.
Even Caine doesn’t get it, but he doesn’t try to dissuade her. If she wants to do this thing, then he will support her, it’s just that simple. Jupiter loves him all the more for it.
She expands her reach, first to other parts of Earth, and then to the other worlds that are her charge, and beyond. It’s easy to surpass the first hundred, and then the tenth; there is always misery and need to be found, if she looks hard enough.
And Jupiter knows none of it is really her fault, that none of that blood is on her hands; even when she adds the names of those who died that morning in Chicago, and every crewmember on the transport Titus sent to Earth, and those who didn’t make it off the refinery, she knows that none of those lives can be truly laid at her feet.
Still, the whole reason she became Entitled was to save lives. Jupiter does it every day, just by breathing; as long as she lives (and beyond, if she can figure out how) all those planets will be protected.
If she wants to take it further, make it personal, that’s her business. Penitence, mourning, respect - in the end, what matters is that she’s added a little more light to a universe that’s too often dark.
And that, she thinks, is as good a legacy as any Queen can hope for.