Title: When I Must Remove Your Wings
Author: serenissima
E-mail: cortigiana@gmail.com
Recipient: the Jack
Featured Character: Elijah Snow
Rating: G
Summary: Spoilers through Issue #22. Elijah Snow: "I know how that is."

Anna Hark: "Your Miss Wagner, of course." - Planetary #16, "Hark"

I. Mother

When you look at her, it is her mother that you see in her first. Crossbreed or no, she is a child of Opak-Re - that ancestry is written in the lines of her face, the fall of her hair, and most of all in her eyes, which display emotion so transparently, for they are quick to sparkle with joy, darken with sorrow, or flash with anger.

Anaykah may have been one of the intellectuals of Opak-Re, but she never displayed the cool detachment you associated with the rest of them. Clever and passionate, she was challenging and brilliant, hungry for knowledge of the outside world, eager to teach and to learn, but also to debate, to argue and to challenge assumptions. You've lived a long life, lost as much knowledge as you found. Your recall is hazy, names and faces get confused, and sometimes you can't remember whether an event happened in one year or the next, in this world or another. But certain memories you've managed to keep: the long evenings spent talking as the sun set over the roofs of the golden city, the look in her eyes when you told her you were leaving, the desperation in her voice when you returned. You'd been younger then, and she was the first to understand you, accept you without question. You wonder if that was why you loved her. Much was lost in sealing of Opak-Re. But there is the gift you were given, that which was saved.

II. Father

When she moves, you see her father in her. Though she herself does not know it, she carries that inheritance in her every breath, from the way she stands and shifts her weight, the flow of her muscles, even the small instinctive actions, like the particular way she uses her elbow to deliver a killing blow.

Blackstock was a legend, a hero, born on the cusp of the century. His particular abilities included superhuman speed, strength and stamina. More than that, though, he possessed a kind of grace. It infused his every gesture, so that even acts of great violence were beautiful, like the steps of some arcane dance. In your mind's eye, you see him falling out of the sky with a shout, wrestling Esin-Ka, his movements as swift and sinuous as those of the great snake. In those images he is always moving, unable to remain still, filled with a nervous energy. In this you understand (although you did not, then) why he was a match of Anaykah, for they both sought novelty and feared boredom, the restless mind and the restless spirit. Somewhere in your journals there is a note about his fate. You sought him in England, afterwards, hoping to tell him about the child, but he'd already moved on, returning to the wilds of Africa. He was never seen again. Later, you discovered he had perished, fighting to prevent the return of an ancient god, fulfilling to the end his role as protector and champion.

III. Mentor

And yet more than either of them, she is your child. For you have shaped her, raised her, and influenced her more than any other. What she is, what she knows, and what she does, all of it has been according to your plan.

Anna Hark spoke truth when you confronted her about James Wilder, for you know what it is to raise a child not your own. At times, you wonder if you've been any less manipulative in your intention. The memories get confused again, but you can remember the solemn face of a baby looking up at you, and later, the warm, sticky pressure of a child's hand slipped into yours. You chose the Wagners as foster parents, told them what they needed to know. You visited every year, and when the girl was old enough, you took her away with you, taught her, trained her and traveled with her. You showed her the secret archaeology of the century, and asked her to help you uncover it. She agreed, as you knew she would - it would keep her from becoming bored. You don't know when it happened, exactly, but at some point she stopped being a child, and became your second, your manus, your strong right arm. You've always known her strengths and weakness, just as you've known how far you can push her, how far you can trust her. You think you may even love her. Sometimes it's hard to remember. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

IV. Daughter

But the whole must be greater than the sum of its parts. She has decades of experience, and she led the team for years in your absence, selecting the recruits, choosing the battles. And in the end, all you can do is hope that she will know what to do when the time comes, and that she will do what she thinks is right.

She even sought you out and brought you back, despite the fact you'd given her orders not to go looking. Her decision returned you to the team, and started the process that brought the memory blocks tumbling down. Now that you know who you are and what you were, you feel the pull of your old anger, and the promise you made to destroy the Four at last. Still, there is more to it than that, things you can't quite remember, questions you can't yet answer, about what you're doing, and why. You see the doubt in her eyes when she looks at you, and that uncertainty hurts more than anything, but there are more important issues to consider, more at stake than mere emotions, simple lives. Mother, father, and mentor: she has and inheritance from each, written in blood and bone and memory. It's time to remove her wings and let her go. You can only hope that you've done it right, so when the time comes, she will be able to make the hard choices and sacrifices that are necessary. And then, she'll fly.