After all they had been through..... How could he think that she wouldn't come back to him, just because for a time she had been uncertain. Hadn't he driven her to it? That perhaps it was she who had driven him, that he had given Kataya something beautiful and desperately needed, that she herself might give such a precious gift to a man like Stenmark, none of these thoughts could occur.
Commander Stenmark in particular she watched, and began to wonder at this grizzled pioneer whose age was so incongruous to all around him, most of whom were under forty.
'Would it be all right? Though the question had been directed to Stenmark, Sylviana felt the intrusion keenly, as if she had received yet another slight from this woman, who continued to encroach upon her most intimate acquaintances. 'Anything you have to say to me, she replied without turning, 'You can say in front of the Commander.
'I don't care! cried the young woman bitterly. 'You have to care, said Stenmark grievously, 'Even if it happened before you were born. And even then, that's only the smaller part of Kataya's anger. You lost your father, as we all lost those dear to us..... Imagine if you had lost Kalus, in the full flower of your pure and uncorrupted love for him?
'Back on the ship, Christian lost her mind when she saw the devastation, and knew that her husband and son were dead, like all the others. She couldn't live without them, and so she killed herself. That left only Stenmark and Doc McIntyre to try and decide our fate.
'It's not my fault, either. Stenmark sighed. 'She knows that, on an intellectual level. But to lose so much. His expression became faraway, recalling perhaps some bitter pain of his own. 'So much suffering. Sylviana looked full into his face, deeply stirred by the physical and emotional closeness to this wise and noble man, who had seen and known so much of life.
The bloody butchers who called themselves our leaders had finally done it: missiles and satellite stations vomiting their nuclear death, and pounding the cities flat. The emotions of those conscious -most of us were in a suspended state, so as not to age unnecessarily during the voyage -I can't imagine. But Stenmark, and the Doc, and poor dead Rene' Christian, well, they had to do something.
You MONSTER. You whore. And she fell to weeping. Kataya swallowed hard, then left to control her own emotions. Rising, Stenmark spoke for her, perhaps for all the company. 'Sylviana. SYLVIE. I know you don't want to hear this right now, but I think you have to. The young woman fell back upon the stool, sobbing.
'Commander Stenmark, and Sylviana, too, must share the blame for this. There was a note of reproach in her voice, though she had not intended it. 'You reacted in the way your world has taught you, a world that none of us can know, and in which there is no shame. You are welcome among us, and you will stay. There was an awkward silence.
Stenmark began to rise diffidently, but she took his arm and would not let him, unsure herself if she wanted his strength to lean upon, or simply did not wish to grant anything so personal to the woman who had hurt her so badly. 'Really, Sylviana, maybe I should go. But the childlike anguish he saw in the honest look she gave him, made him turn instead with a sigh. 'Please come in, he said.