Chapter 17: Our Daughters
Jack took a sip of sweet tea as he watched Felicity and Amanda chase each other with Hunter on their heels. Seated in the covered, metal swing he kept on the porch he had the perfect view of the kids as they played. He occasionally swung back and forth, taking small sips of tea from time to time. His position was comfortable and allowed to relax while watching the kids tire themselves out. Happy that all he had to do was watch them he was satisfied just to relax as Felicity chased Amanda, who seemed to be holding back to give her friend a chance, with Hunter trying to keep up. He was certain they’d be worn out that night which would make an easy night for him and Fara who was inside probably watching TV.
The cold weather appeared to not be hindering Felicity or Amanda in the slightest. Being near the middle of January, in the late afternoon, it was cold enough for Jack to at least wear a slim coat. Amanda had just a jacket on but with the amount of energy she was using play anymore than that was unnecessary. Felicity, having a thick fur coat that rivaled Hunter’s, didn’t need a coat or any warm clothing at all. He wasn’t worried about Hunter whose breed was originated from lands far colder than where they lived. From what he could observe none of them were bothered by them in the slightest as they were too obsessed with their game of tag.
What really impressed Jack was the energy level Felicity and Amanda had. For the past three hours he had been watching them run around nonstop, playing the same game. They had done stopped once to use the bathroom and that was over an hour ago. He imagined his energy level was similar when he was their age but with most of his early memories involving working on the ranch that was a hard guess to make. How they were able to move around so much only left him puzzled and amazed, and wondering what they were going to be like when they became adults.
“Where in the world do these kids store their boundless energy?” Jack softly muttered, taking another sip of tea. “If we could harness their energy there would be enough power to run a large city for decades.”
Jack shifted his seated position in the swing as he chuckled while watching the girls chase each other endlessly. As he sat his tea on the small table nearby, he couldn’t help but be a little jealous of Felicity and Amanda, he was even jealous of Hunter’s ability to keep up with them. Just watching them endlessly bound across the yard with their only motivation being to catch the other made him tired. At his age there would need to be a real motivation for him to run around like them. Though he knew he could easily catch them, except for possibly Hunter, he was certain they could outlast him. A few years ago, he probably could have not only outrun but also outlasted them. That was certainly not the case anymore despite still being in great physical shape; with Fara and Amanda joking his mental shape was lacking.
“I guess I’m starting to get old.” Jack softly muttered with a smirk. “I barely remember having that kind of energy.”
At that moment, Jack was glad that Felicity and Amanda were on the other side of the fence so they couldn’t hear what he said and that Fara was inside the house watching TV, so she didn’t hear him admit it. He could only imagine what Fara would say if she had heard him, the teasing would be even more relentless then it already was. Though she had been a lot kinder to him lately, probably getting used to living is with him, that meant she had started joking with him. He guessed it was similar to his military experience with other servicemen as it was a good sign when someone jokingly teased, joked, and pranked others as it was a sign, they liked him. If they didn’t joke around with him than he usually took it as sign they didn’t like him. He assumed it was the same with Fara as she had been teasing him quite a bit lately, always with a smile. Because of that he was certain she would joke with him nonstop if she heard him admit that.
As much as Jack hated admitting it, he knew he was getting old, though more accurate to say out of shape. Though he was only thirty-five he was starting to feel the effects of age. Having spent the previous fifteen years serving in the military as a combat pilot but keeping in prestige physical condition, adjusting to civilian life was taking its toll slowly. Serving through a major war required him to stay physically fit but during his service he went behind that, staying in better shape than nearly everyone else around him. But being a civilian meant he had very little reason to train though that didn’t slow him down. Jack was still able to hike for hours, while carrying a full backpack as he often did hunt and lift nearly as much as he used to. Spending most of him on the move working or in the woods hunting or exploring he was still skilled. People still told him constantly he was in better shape than the majority of people his age.
Despite all that, Jack was starting to feel the aches and pains of not just age, but a lifetime of physical labor combined with military experience. He was starting to feel pain in his joints and quite a bit of stiffness in his back and knees that of the made prolonged physical activity painful. A lot of pain was probably contributed to the amount of time he had spent in the cockpit of a combat aircraft flying at high speeds. The pain he felt often slowed him down didn’t inhibit him and Jack never let it stop him, but it still caused him to be a little lazier than he wished. As a result, he had lost some of his stamina and strength that some of his family, even Amanda, were starting to take notice. Even a slight gut was starting to develop but he was working and to get rid of it, despite Amanda’s playfully teasing.
Thankfully, he had the kids to observe having a good time that made him forget his slowly deteriorating fitness. Watching the two girls run around with big smiles on the faces made him smile in return. The two of them had very few reasons to smiles lately for different understandable reasons. Given the situation Fara and Felicity were in she had VERY few reasons to smile. Amanda, after her parents’ divorce and living with a neglectful mother, the reasons she had to smile were almost nonexistent. However, that changed ever since the two of them had met things had changed as they had been smiling nonstop. At first, Jack didn’t think much of it but in that moment, watching them play, he knew it because they had become good friends in such a short time and made each other happy. Hunter only made watching them even more magical. It was a moment he could watch forever seeing the two girls enjoy each other’s presence, though it did worry him a little what would happen once Fara, and Felicity left.
“Mind if I take a seat?” A strong, feminine voice called out softly from behind him, snapping him out of train of thought.
Jack didn’t resist the grin as he turned his head in the direction of the voice, knowing exactly who it belonged to. Though it surprised him to see her walking around, with a cane, he was happy to see the large humanoid, female canine up and moving around. It also surprised him that she was able to get so close to him without hearing her; apparently, she was getting good at moving around with a cane, to the point where she could apparently sneak up on him. She was close enough to swing her cane and smack him upside the head; something he was surprised she hadn’t done yet. Thankfully, she didn’t have the usual fire in her eyes that was usually present, instead looking somewhat relaxed and happy to see him.
Jack smiled and motioned to the swing on the glider next to him. “It’s a free country, Fara.”
“From what I have observed . . .” Fara replied as she smiled and slowly sat down beside him. “. . . that is debatable.”
Jack chuckled. “Yeah, I can agree with that.”
Fara playfully nudged Jack’s shoulder as she leaned back and settled in beside him. Though it took her a moment to get situated, apparently, she wasn’t used to sitting on a metal swing with no support or comfort, she wasted no time and relaxing. Almost immediately she was relaxing just as much as he was, letting out occasional grunts. Jack was certain she was teasing him with the grunting, but he didn’t say anything. He wanted to speak with her as the two of them were silent, instead watching the kids and Hunter play. He was surprised to see Fara so relaxed as she normally had a long pole up her tail hole but kept his mouth shut. Even Fara needed time to relax, and she was obviously taking it, despite the space between them.
“Galaxy that show ticked me off?” Fara quietly muttered just loud enough for Jack to make out.
Jack, at first, kept his mouth shut, but his curiosity eventually took over and he had to quench it. “What show is that?”
Fara quickly turned her head looking surprised that he heard her but quickly recovered and calmly answered. “Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, petty much any show taking place in space.”
Jack couldn’t resist shaking his head. “That is not surprising, you have spent your entire life in space, right?”
Fara nodded. “Yep, I have only set foot on solid ground a few times in my life. That gives me a perspective that many of your . . . TV shows do not have.” Fara turned to Jack. “Nothing against those shows but my life and experience makes it hard for me to enjoy them.”
“That is not surprising in the slightest, Fara.” Jack replied. “Honestly, I would have been surprised if those shows didn’t tick you off somewhat.”
“Well, I got to watch something while disabled.” Fara stated with another shrug. “But it is how the shows handle warp jump, or warp speed as some shows call it, that really ticks me off.”
Jack gave Fara a confused look. “Why would that tick you off?”
“Because we Zordons are the first to achieve Warp Jump technology in the galaxy.” Fara shouted at Jack, causing him to lean back.
Jack tilted his head in even more confusion. “Your people were the first to develop warp speed?”
“WARP JUMP, NOT SPEED! There’s a big difference, jump is just . . . as you humans call it, science fiction.” Fara exclaimed. “And my people are the first AND only species capable of warp jumping.”
“Huh, that’s kind of hard to believe.” Jack sarcastically replied.
“It is true, my friend, we Zordons do have a presence all across the galaxy. If there was another species capable of warp jumps, we would know it.”
“I’m sure you would.” Jack responded, a little caught off guard that Fara called him friend. “So, what exactly is warp jumping?”
Fara leaned back and thought for a moment before answering; Jack guessed she was trying to figure out how to explain it to him. “Hm, I guess the easiest ways to explain it would be to say it is similar to teleportation. Basically, we open a hole through space and time that allows us to instantaneously travel to another point at incredible distances. We enter and are instantly teleported to our destination . . . without having to physically travel the distance.”
“Uh, is that really the best explanation you can give?” Jack nervously asked.
Fara glared daggers at Jack. “Yes, it was developed shortly before I was born and honestly, I have never put my thought into understanding exactly how it works. For me, it works quite well and allows us to travel insane distances instantaneously that even traveling at light speed would take . . . let’s just say a VERY long time.”
“Hm, I think I understand the basics of what you’re trying to say.” Jack said, trying his best to keep the subject moving to prevent Fara from smacking him with her cane. “To sum it up it allows you to travel from Point A to Point B at an instant?”
Fara nodded. “That is very basic summary of our warp technology, some would probably find that offensive, especially our scientists.”
“Ah, good thing I don’t give a crap about offending people, my military experience playing a big reason in that.” Jack joked up but a little worried he’d upset Fara.
Fara laughed softly. “That makes two of us.”
“No shock there, you are the last person I can see carrying about offending people.”
“Indeed, I could probably say the same about you.” Fara lightly punched Jack’s shoulder. “But seriously, do not say that around any of the scientists of they may use you as sudden target practice for a new weapon.”
Jack gave Fara a surprise and sarcastic expression. “You speak like you have experience in that area.”
Fara stared sternly at Jack but there was a hint of sarcasm as well. “You do not want to know; it is a long story.”
Jack shook his head, unsure of why he expected a different answer. “Of course, point taken.”
“Ah, you are starting to learn.” Fara replied as she nudged Jack’s shoulder.
Jack sighed loudly as he and Fara went back to being silent, once again focusing on the kids. Though he wanted to continue the conversation the female canine didn’t appear to be interested. She made no obvious sign that she wanted to, but with his lack of communication skills he would have a hard time telling if she was. He guessed she was just tired, probably due to the pain relievers he had given her, which was evident due to her occasionally yawning. Instead, she seemed to be more focused on the kids as they were getting farther away but still staying within ear shot.
Jack made it clear to both Amanda and Felicity early on to not go past the tree line at the far end of the yard. The way his yard was shaped, he had a good couple open acres for the kids and Hunter to run through before coming to a thick tree line at the edge where the forest began. Having spent many hours, more like days if all that time was combined, hiking and scouting the forest and because of that had good reason to keep the kids from going back there. Fara certainly agreed with him, despite having never been in the woods due to her injuries and had been very helpful in reinforcing it with the kids. Amanda had it stitched into her mind from how often he reminded her not to go back without him being with her that he was certain she wouldn’t even consider entering the woods. Felicity seemed to have either learned it quickly or Amanda was there to keep her from disobeying.
All Jack and Fara had to do was watch the kids till one of them spoke to each other. He was happy to have a good reason for not speaking to Fara despite wanting to. She seemed more focused on the kids anyway than speaking to him, probably glad just to be out of the house. The kids certainly didn’t make it easy as they ran nonstop all over the yard. They darted through the tall grass with the special stick Felicity had made for a game with Hunter before Amanda arrived, chasing each other. At the moment Amanda had it and she was not making it any easy for Felicity and Hunter to keep up with her. Due to her age and size advantage over Felicity and was using that to keep the stick for as long as possible. From what Jack could observe Hunter appeared to be wearing down while Amanda and Felicity showed no sign of exhaustion. He nearly felt sorry for Hunter but remembered he enjoyed chasing the girls, but he would have to rest soon.
“So, what is the story with you and Mary?” Fara blurted out of nowhere once the kids were far enough away.
Jack’s head spun around to face Fara that his neck popped, causing him to let out a low pained groan. “Dang it, Fara.” Jack moaned and rubbed his neck. “Where the heck did that come from?”
Fara shrugged as she let out a short giggle, seemingly amused by his pain. “Just curious, that is all.”
Jack glared at Fara but eventually relented under her sarcastic smile. “Why are you always curious about my personal life?”
“Pretty sure it is the same answer as last time, just trying to learn more about you since we have to live together for the time being.” Fara gave Jack a serious look. “Mostly, I want to learn what mental deficient you have that made you consider marrying Mary. That is really all I want to know.”
“Ah, then that is all I will explain.” Jack replied as he sat up. “I met Mary not long after I graduated college and was stationed in California. This was shortly before the Palestine-India War, so I was pretty naive at the time.” Jack looked up at the sky and sighed loudly. “Growing up in an isolated rural area didn’t help as I was also naive and . . . desperate when it came to women.”
“Oh, that explains pretty much everything.” Fara interrupted with a disappointed but understanding tone. “You are far from the first guy to fall for the first woman who showed you romantic attention.”
Jack gave Fara a slight smile. “Yep, that about sums it up. My stupidity and naivety caused me to make a beyond stupid mistake.” Jack turned to Fara and spoke softly. “Looking back, I still can’t believe I was stupid enough to marry her, while having suspicions she was unfaithful. But it did give me Amanda, so it was not completely bad.”
The sympathetic smile Fara gave him was enough to ease Jack’s depression caused by the memories of Mary. “I can agree with all of that. At least I can say you are a good father or trying to be when Mary is not getting in your way.”
“And I’m looking to change that so I can have Amanda and raise her properly, but it is going nowhere.” Jack glanced back towards the kids to check on them quickly before continuing. “I would say that is enough on that subject so how about we move on?” Fara gave Jack a confirming nod as a question popped into his mind and he blurted it out. “So, what about you? Do you have any family besides Felicity?”
Jack turned to look at Fara, expecting to hear just a growl from her before she knocked him unconscious with her cane, only to see her simply looking back at him. “I suppose it is only right I tell you since I made you talk about Mary.” Fara leaned forward and spoke softly. “I got a father, who is the Admiral of my fleet, a half-brother, and a . . . as you call it stepmother who is my age.”
Jack tilted his age in confusion. “A stepmother that is your age?”
“Well, technically a couple cycles older but we are so close in age that does not really matter. My mother was killed in one of the recent Xulon attacks and my dad got a life mate a few cycles later.” Fara said so quickly that Jack had a hard time following. “That is all I will say on the subject.”
“Which subject, the conversation as a whole or your step-mother?”
Fara shrugged. “I guess my step-mother. Since that really is all my family, beyond an extensive list of cousins and other relatives. It wounds take so long to go over those that I really do not care or want to.”
“Can’t say I blame ya there, my family is essentially the same, pretty big with lots of branches.”
“Yeah, sounds about the same. We would probably be seated here till sunrise tomorrow if we did.” Fara stated with a semi-serious look. “So, can we drop the subject please?”
Jack nodded, a bit shocked by Fara’s bluntness but not surprised by it, it was a quirk of hers he got used to very quickly. “Of course, it was staring to get a little awkward for me to.”
“Good, I was not going to continue about my family anyway.” Fara replied as she leaned back into the swing.
Jack let out a soft smirk. “I would expect nothing less from you.”
Jack leaned back, focusing on Amanda and Felicity while keeping Fara in his peripheral. The girls didn’t appear to have overheard a word they had said, and he was glad for that, and certain Fara was too. He noticed they were considerably closer than when he and Fara had resumed their conversation, currently near the back shed where he kept the lawn mowers. The kids appeared to be finally settling down as they were no longer running, instead they were just walking around with Hunter following them. He had to squint to see they were mostly talking and laughing, about what he couldn’t know. It made him jealous of Fara’s canine ears who could probably overhear their entire conversation. But just seeing it made him smile, happy to know that the girls were getting along so well. They had become close friends in such a short time, and it surprised him as Amanda was not the best when it came to making friends. It gave him hope that his daughter finally had a friend though he was reluctant to hold on to it since once the Zordon rescue team arrived Fara and Felicity were leaving.
Through his peripheral Jack was able to notice Fara looking somewhat stressed. By barely turning his head, enough so that Fara wouldn’t notice, he could see that appeared to be deep in thought, while keeping the kids in view. Knowing her as well as he did, which was surprisingly well despite having not known each other for very long, he was almost certain she was thinking about her and Felicity’s situation. Though she had only bought it up a couple times he knew the thought was always at the forefront of her mind. It didn’t appear to help that she’s had limited communication with her people, so she was limited on what news she was receiving. For once, Jack decided it would probably be best to initiate the subject, maybe get her to open a little and hear some news himself. He just had to approach it delicately since she still had her cane in her hand which was a big risk.
Jack turned to Fara and spoke softly so the kids wouldn’t hear. “So, have you heard anything new from your people?”
Fara looked away from Jack and frowned. “Not as much as I would like, to really make me feel secure. Communication has been limited since the fleet is on high alert to only essential messages.”
“Huh, is that common for your people?”
“It is when a fleet experiences contact with the Xulons, no matter how insignificant.” Fara quickly answered. “We take the Xulons VERY seriously after experiencing them firsthand.” Fara sighed loudly as she looked back at Jack. “The Xulons are brutal and WILL take advantage of every opportunity presented to them. So, of course, whenever Xulons are around we go on high alert.”
Jack nodded in agreement. “Makes sense from what you’ve told me about them. I should have taken that into consideration and why it’s taking considerable time before rescue arrives.”
“Indeed Jack, our whole situation can be blamed on them, and my stupidity.” Fara replied, hanging her head.
Jack hesitantly patted Fara on the shoulder. “Don’t blame yourself too hard, what’s done is done and cannot be changed, until someone invents a time machine.”
Fara gave Jack a slight grin and sarcastically supplied. “Thanks for the support, Jack. I have already accepted my situation and am trying to make the best of it. Having you around does help quite a bit and I will do what I can to thank you when we are rescued.”
Jack gave Fara a nodded while tearing up on the inside from being thanked by Fara. “I am sure you will, Fara, you strike me as a woman who keeps her word.” Jack leaned back and addressed Fara seriously. “So, what do the messages you’re getting say?”
Fara let out a loud huff and answered. “Not much beyond anything I do not already know. Most of it is just updates on preparations and status of the fleet as they get ready for a potential Xulon attack.”
“Huh, that is about what I expected. But what about a rescue update?”
Fara shook her head. “Nothing beyond a rescue team is on its way. Due to the Xulon presence and the PDF searching for us it is imposing do go estimate their arrival.” Fara turned and looked towards Felicity and Amanda. “So, all we can do at the moment is wait.”
Jack opened his mouth to reply but immediately shut it once he realized Fara was done speaking. Her expression and attention being solely focused on the kids made that crystal clear. It didn’t take Jack long after rescuing Fara and Felicity her tells as she was usually blunt. She was usually easy to read and for Jack that made his life safer. At that moment, he knew she wanted the subject dropped and he mentally agreed without saying a word. Pushing an issue with Fara when she was done with the conversation, especially when he was within striking range of her cane, was a dangerous idea, making it easy for him to relax and be quiet.
Jack glanced at his watch and smiled when he saw what time it was. “Well, I guess it’s nearly dinner time.” Jack slowly stood up. “I might as well get started cooking.”
Jack could’ve sworn he saw lick her lips and drool as she leaned forward. “Mm mm, there had better be bacon involved.”
Jack restrained himself from shaking his head as he smiled back at Fara. She wasn’t hiding her love for bacon, something the Zordons didn’t have, her tongue and drool making it quite evident. In an earlier conversation and explained that the only real advantage humanity had over ten Zordons was their food. To quote Fara from that conversation “Zordon food is crap compared to human food.” Jack wasn’t certain if that was true or not since he was a good cook; at least that’s what everyone told him. Still, it made him happy to see that even aliens liked his cooking, though he wished Fara wouldn’t suggest bacon as much since it was expensive, and he wanted to experiment with them more.
“That’s what I thought.” Jack stated with a smirk as he stood up and shouted loud enough so that Felicity and Amanda could hear, and probably his nearest neighbors. “KIDS, COME INSIDE, SUPPER WILL BE READY SOON!”
Much to Jack’s surprise, Felicity and Amanda not only listened to him but they immediately dropped what they were doing and sprinted towards him with Hunter following close behind. He barely had time to head for the sliding glass door, let alone blink, before all three were in front of the door. It wouldn’t have surprised him to see cartoon burn marks on the grass from how fast they ran, making him think of the old Looney Toon shows. All three were visibly excited, practically jumping as they waited for him and Fara to let them in; due of how heavy the door was an adult had to open it; though Amanda could do it she struggled. What made the moment even cuter was seeing Felicity’s tail wagging even faster than Hunter’s, making it hard for him to resist laughing.
Jack grabbed the door handle, opened the sliding glass door, and held it open for the others, politely bowing to the girls. “Ladies first.”
Amanda and Felicity bowed and comically replied. “Thank you, kind sir.”
Amanda and Felicity sprinted through the door past Jack followed closely by Hunter. The sounds of shoes and paws on the floor and excited laughter made his smile even bigger. He smiled as he raised his head only to see Fara standing in front of him giving him a stoic glare. It made him somewhat nervous to be under her gaze and not know what she wanted. He just smiled back at Fara and awaited her response as she stood there with her cane while the kids were doing who-knew-what in the living room.
Fara put on a big, devious smile and spoke in her best southern bell accent. “Oh my, what a gentleman.”
Jack nearly doubled over from laughing so far as Fara walked past him without saying another word. Just when he thought she couldn’t get any more ridiculous she went and pulled a stunt like that. Though her southern bell accent was atrocious it still was a humorous attempt to tease him. As she walked past him, not dropping the act, he couldn’t help but be surprised at how far they’ve come in such time that she was openly joking with him.
At least we’re finally making some progress. Jack thought as he slid the screen door behind shut behind him. We just need to work on her southern accent and MAYBE she could fit in around humans.