D’Argo yelped, jerking his singed fingers from a DRD’s wire innards as
a connection sprang to life.
little robot chirped gleefully and spun around on the repair table.
yeah, you’re fixed. Go on.” D’Argo shooed it away.
groaned, wiping sweat from her brow with an oily arm. “How many more of
these things do we have to repair?”
sighed. “Only a few more, I think. Then they’ll take over the job for
ClamShell in the Maintenance Bay flickered. “Moya and I thank you both
for your efforts on our behalf.”
problem, Pilot,” Chiana called with forced enthusiasm. “You and Moya
are feeling better, right?”
Chiana. We are both back to full health.” He hesitated, looking down at
his console. “We need to apologize for our behavior today, especially to
you, Ka D’Argo.”
flexed his leg, now mending well under Noranti’s unusual ministrations.
“It’s alright, Pilot. Like I told Aeryn, you weren’t yourselves.”
most certainly not. Fortunately, the beam from that crystal ended the
influence. To be absolutely sure, though, Moya has flushed all the mist
from her system.”
that fog was the cause, huh?” Chiana asked.
The fog was the water of this world; it’s…lifeblood, if you will. When
enemies of the Builders struck the planet, they evaporated all the oceans,
eliminating the Pilot’s homes and casting the world forever into barren
darkness. The Pilot civilization only survived because the Builders joined
us to Leviathans, allowing transport for all to a new home world far away.
Before leaving, however, the scientists of the day set up a desperate plan
to restore the outcasts to their rightful home. The crystal and projector
were installed as you found and the mists were seeded with Pilot
explains why Aeryn’s Pilot DNA came out,” D’Argo said. “But they
couldn’t possibly have done that expecting her.” He and Chiana
exactly,” Pilot said. “The location of our original home world has
long been lost to the ages. The hormones were placed to provoke genetic
memories in any Pilot descendant who reached the planet. That Pilot, of
course, would need to be able to leave its Leviathan and walk planetside.
I know of very few unjoined Pilots who use Leviathans for transport, and
none who can sever their bond and walk at all.”
it doesn’t strike you as just a little convenient that Aeryn should be
the one to find this planet and then to land on it?” Chiana asked. “A
woman carrying Pilot DNA and able to leave a Leviathan?”
it also convenient John fell through a wormhole and landed with us right
when we were escaping the PeaceKeepers?” D’Argo countered. “Or that
Aeryn’s Prowler got pulled with us? Or that we encountered Salis’ ship
in time to save you? Or that John met the Ancients and received wormhole
knowledge? And met Scorpius? Or—?”
Alright!” she interrupted, shaking drips of some kind of DRD fluid from
her fingertips. “I get it. Our whole frelling lives run on
believe Fate has more influence on this than you suspect,” Pilot said.
“There is an ancient myth about our home world that all Pilots learn as
youths. It includes a line stating that life would return to the planet
‘When the Sun Touched the Ocean Floor.’”
and Chiana exchanged a look.
be,” he argued.
things have happened,” Chiana shrugged. “That avatar-thing knew
John’s name. What was that, anyway?” she asked Pilot. “A hologram or
and I have not yet found an explanation for that,” he confessed.
shivered. “Too weird. I’ll leave that up to you. The DRDs at least
have a schematic to follow.” She frowned. “Where’s John? He was
supposed to help us out with this.”
not sure,” D’Argo said, picking up another still DRD. “I think he
was headed for Command.”
strolled the long, familiar route up to Command. Around him, he saw DRDs
buzzing about, making minor repairs or cleaning up. One broke off from the
pack and whirred over to John, bumping apologetically against his ankle.
paused to brush the DRD’s top affectionately. “It’s okay, One-Eye. I
the door, John paused, stealing a moment to enjoy the silent tableau
before him. Even though they had given in to their relationship, it was
still rare for him to catch Aeryn in these unguarded moments when she
thought she was alone. She had submitted to a medical scan by Noranti, who
assured that both mother and fetus were in good health, the youngster
still safely and obliviously resting in stasis. Now, her long hair still
tousled and wavy from a soothing shower, Aeryn was back in black, the
glossy leathers and sleek T-shirt accentuating her again-Sebacean body.
She frowned in intense concentration at a holographic map of the system
they had just departed that hovered over the Strategy Table, her chin
perched between thumb and forefinger of one hand, lips pursed slightly.
she noticed his presence in the doorway and cast him an inviting
he answered, sidling over to her.
the view?” she asked, brushing an errant strand of hair back
grinned lovingly, relishing the blush this caused her. “Just thinking
how good it is to see you again. Scared me today.”
Aeryn nodded. “But you changed me back to normal.” She leaned her
shoulder against his. “For which I have yet to thank you.”
nuzzled her hair, bringing a hand up to touch her cheek. “Scorpius
knows,” he whispered.
jerked out of his arms, fear in her eyes. “What?!”
does Chiana, and probably D’Argo.”
eyes flared as she saw everything they’d worked so hard to build in
secret suddenly in the line of fire. “Did Chiana figure it out? Did that
trelk spread another of my secrets to everybody—?”
shook his head, stroking her cheek again soothingly. “No, it’s
alright. He’s known for a long time. I don’t think he’s going to do
returning, Scorpius had closed himself in his cell without a word. John
knew he ought to swallow his pride and go thank the son of a bitch for his
help, but he couldn’t quite bear the taste of that yet.
mean I’m about to turn my back on him,” John continued, “but at
least we can hold hands in public now.”
the very least,” Aeryn agreed, anger falling by the wayside as she
understood the freedom now open to them. She kissed him, their first kiss
now unfettered by the shackles of fear and conspiracy.
what do you say? Shall we take a break and have dinner together? Or does
food still taste weird?”
sighed. “No, it’s not that. I just think I should try to decode more
of this frelling map before I quit for the night.”
stared at the hologram, the dusky crystal sitting solidly at its heart.
“Is it giving you that much trouble?”
scooted over to show him the panel she worked off of. “Well, it was
grown specifically to be read and interpreted by Pilots and Leviathans
working together. Pilot and Moya are doing their best and I’m trying to
handle the more menial parts of the job for them, but this would be a lot
easier if I were bonded to Moya again.”
Pilot,” she explained, leaning on the table, her shoulder passing
through the planet’s orbital path, “especially as our
Pilot, I could sense much of what Moya was doing, even without being
physically bonded to her. I could hear every movement of her engines, feel
the DRDs moving around. I—I could hear
her, John. Moya herself. And now that I’m Sebacean again, it’s like
suddenly going deaf. The silence is a little…unsettling.”
brows creased with concern. “Was it like this the first time?”
She shook her head. “That was different. Very different. I think that
fog enhanced the connection.” She shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant.
“The feeling will pass. In the meantime, I’m determined to help figure
out this map for Pilot.”
don’t you show me what you’ve got so far?” John said, eager to take
her mind off the troubling sensations.
spread both arms in a frustrated flourish at the solar system. “This is
it. It looks like the planet and its sun are the center of the map.
They’re what showed up first.”
are here,” John quipped.
it makes sense. The point of this map is for us to carry it out into the
universe and help other scattered Pilots return to the home world that is
barren salt heap?” John asked. “Lucky them.”
eyes focused middle distance. “As a Pilot, I got the impression that in
a few cycles, the planet will be full of life again.”
Promised Land,” John muttered, staring at the tiny holographic orb.
“Huh. Are Moya and Pilot willing to take on a mission that big?”
are,” Aeryn said with a glance at Moya’s golden walls. “No matter
what they say, I know they were getting tired of fleeing through the
universe with no goals but those of their crew. I think Pilot is looking
forward to being a hero to his species.”
modern-day Moses,” John smiled. “Well, good for him. He and Moya can
go down in history as more than a getaway car.” He glanced at the gem.
“You’re sure no one’s going to be mad we took that off-planet? The
castle ghost down there made a big deal about how you ‘returned the
smiled enigmatically. “That’s not the Heart. The planet is fine, John.
We’re doing the right thing.”
at least one of us knows what she’s doing.” He turned to the map.
“So any Commerce Planets around here or is our romantic dinner going to
be stale food cubes and recycled water?”
grimaced at the thought. That meal was bad enough on a normal palate.
“We’d do best to StarBurst. I’ve decoded light-years radius around
the star and there’s absolutely nothing out here. The planet is
completely isolated from the rest of the galaxy except by StarBurst.”
convenient wormhole…” John said, mind working. “Could the Ancients
have known about the Pilots?”
shrugged. “You’re the expert. How did they lose their home world
met each other’s gaze. “Looks like we all have something to work on
now,” Aeryn said.
Earth be on that map?” John asked breathlessly.
can’t tell yet. I don’t know if anyone could have known about Earth
things have happened,” he murmured. “If you find anything—”
know,” she assured him.
He kissed her cheek. “If you’re going to work here a while longer,
I’d better go help D’Argo and Chiana with the DRDs. Give me a call
when you’re done.”
a date,” she called after him.
again, she turned back to the scroll of symbols on the readout before her.
She wondered if this was how it felt for John to read wormhole equations;
picking individual symbols out and comparing them against the others she
knew until they flared into a pattern in the hologram.
with the alien coordinates plucked from the crystal’s lattice, the
relative silence of Moya began to press on Aeryn. It occurred to her that
a part of her felt the slightest bit of resentment at being Sebacean
again. She squashed that impulse. Still, to be able to multi-task, or
consult Moya’s opinions…
trill at her elbow drew her wandering attentions. She glanced down at the
DRD Pilot had sent to aid her. “What?”
another series of chirps, it extended a small arm, the pincher clasping
something little and shiny.
recognized it immediately. Crais had put it in her duffel when Talyn and
Moya reunited over a cycle ago, a silent reminder that she would always
have a home with them. Discovering it while still dealing with her grief
for the dead John Crichton, she had pitched it across the room and
forgotten about it. Apparently Moya hadn’t.
Aeryn reached out and took the neural transponder in her hand to examine
it. It had clearly been modified, touches of golden biomechanoid
technology highlighting the silver and black.
looked back at the DRD, who sat, yellow eye-lights eagerly awaiting an
answer. She looked at the hardware again.
me think about it,” she told the droid. It beeped cheerfully and
turned her attention to the database again and began to pocket the tiny
device, then thought again, turning it in her fingers so the light caught
the colorful metals in it.
she placed the transponder on the Strategy Table beside her and scrolled
up another line of code. Her mind, however, began to consider the new
possibilities she suddenly saw open to her.
sparkled blue in an act of natural beauty unrivaled throughout the
universe and StarBurst away from a small planet circling an unnamed star
in a distant arm of the galaxy.
the surface, this phenomenon was too small to be seen, but it hardly
mattered. The planet certainly had enough to occupy its attentions.
Millions of square miles of fog unleashed a continuous torrent of rain
across the globe. Thunder and lightning cracked the air that had lain
silent for too long. Parched earth drank in the water greedily, vast
rivers of overflow poured in waterfalls down into the canyons that would
soon be seas and oceans. The megalithic fossil beast found itself almost
completely submerged again, only the plates of its back peeking above the
within its shell, a small column of manufactured technology blinked
rhythmically. No sound was made, but anything on the planet could feel the
pulse of it. Scrub brush drowning in the current embraced the rhythm and
found itself evolving at an astonishing rate, roots altering to a more
freeform lifestyle and long kelp-like leaves unfolding.
even this, a cluster of chemicals and primitive amino acids in the peat
around the leviathan’s sternum drifted lazily and slid against each
other. Without fanfare, without distinction, so subtle that it was
difficult to say at exactly which second it happened, the primordial ooze
birthed the first new native life to inherit the planet.
the skies, the rain over the ocean came to a temporary stop. Exhausted
clouds, drained pallid with the effort of their labor, parted and sat back
to observe the rushing water with the peace of new mothers. A rainbow
arced over the waves. For the first time in millennia, sunlight shone on
the surface and warmed the muddy earth.
lonely planet’s heart had at last been restored.
Feedback is always appreciated. Please email this author that has take the time to share their vision with you.