(Please note this interview contains spoilers for Adrift!)
He meets me at the docks, on the rickety catwalk overlooking the landing pads. He’s wearing flight fatigues and a stern expression, which does nothing to detract from his stunning good looks.
“I don’t have a lot of time,” he says. “Let’s keep it short, shall we?”
I refrain from informing him that his partner is most likely getting wasted at the station canteen even as we speak.
“Very well, Mr. Easom. That is your name, right?”
“Yes. ‘Faine’ was an alias, of course. I’m using my own name now.”
“You’re not accustomed to lying, aren’t you?”
“I try to adhere to the truth whenever possible,” Ryce says dryly.
“In that case, you won’t mind telling me how you really feel about being discharged from the Fleet? You were a combat pilot, after all, a Flight Lieutenant. Do you regret having to leave all that behind?”
Ryce purses his lips.
“Obviously, it’s hardly thrilling,” he says finally. “I’d wanted to join the Fleet ever since I was five years old. Being accepted into the Academy was a dream come true, despite my family’s objections. I can’t deny that being discharged was…quite devastating, to say the least, even if I were lucky not to stand trial for what happened in Colanta. So yes, I regret having to give up on the Fleet. But I don’t regret my decision to speak up against Commodore Archer, and I don’t regret meeting Matt and coming here, on Lady Lisa. Not even for a second.”
“You mentioned your family objected to you joining the military. Why was that?”
“Shyr-5 is a small colony, and the mining operations there had never been very lucrative. It received almost no subsidies from the Federal Government in regards to health services, accessible communications, and security. My parents wanted me to live up to my intellectual potential and become an academic rather than risk my life in service of a mostly absent political entity.” He sighs. “They were right about one thing; it really was absent when they needed it most.”
I recall Ryce’s adoptive parents were killed in an Alraki raid that had devastated the mining colony some years ago. I have a feeling that despite their differences, Ryce’s had been a loving family. But the circumstances surrounding his birth were still mostly a secret, even to Ryce himself.
“Have you tried finding your real parents?” I ask him.
“I know who my parents were,” he says sharply.
“You know what I mean. Your biological parents—your Onorean mother and—”
“My mother made it clear she didn’t want anything to do with me,” he interjects. “Not that I can blame her. And my father…All I know is that he was a pirate—a rapist, a murderer. I hope I’ll never find out who he was.”
There’s an uncomfortable pause as he glares at me, and I try to steer the interview in a less disturbing direction.
“I understand you’ve never been romantically involved with anyone until you met Matt Spears. Are you happy with your relationship?”
Ryce’s expression softens.
“Yes. I’m happy. Ridiculously so, really.”
“You were up to a rocky start,” I remark.
“I believe that’s an understatement,” he smiles. “Funny how these things work out. I despised Captain Spears at first, when I first met him. I thought him nothing more than lecherous scum. But then I got to know him better, and I saw that he was a good man underneath all that cocky posturing. He has a pure heart, even though he might want to punch me if he hears me saying so.”
“With your evident intellectual superiority, aren’t you worried that he might feel inadequate in comparison?”
“That’s absurd,” Ryce says firmly. “Matt can be self-deprecating at times, but he must know that I don’t consider him to be inferior in any way, intellectual or otherwise. He’s smart, he’s educated, and he can keep up with anything thrown his way.” He glances at his commlink. “I’m sorry. I must go now.”
“Sure.” We shake hands, and I wish him good luck, even though there are still a lot of questions I want to ask him. Perhaps next time, I think as I watch him stride down the catwalk.