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The trilogy is finally done! Okay, so it took longer than I had hoped that it would, but it’s still finished, and that’s what counts. I’m not psyched with all of the ending bits (though some of them are great), largely because I realized that I’d walked myself into a plot hole with one of the sets of storylines. I already know how to *fix* it, it’s just that it would require me to go back and rewrite about ten thousand words, which can be saved for editing. So it’s less of a plot hole than a plot-that-is-waiting-for-proper-resolution.
But no matter! The trilogy is done. Everyone is dead, yet…somehow? There’s hope, that maybe there is a future. Maybe? The epilogue:
Suddenly, he was awake. Blinking, he tried to rub the grit from his eyes. His arms felt weak, as though he’d not used them in years. A few moments later, he became aware of where he was; on a flat, hard bed in a tiny white room. It was nowhere that he recognized, until he rose from the bed. The tubes in his arms disconnected as he moved and he looked down at them, wondering for a moment what they were.
There was only one doorway, and it was to there that he walked. Once he stepped through it, all of it came flashing back. The chaotic flight from the planet. The serenity of space. Learning to fly with the guidance of Major Lindov, just in case there was ever an emergency. Putting everyone to sleep. Saying goodbye to Sualam as they separated. Coming into that room and letting the thing put tubes in his body. And then sleep.
The room thrummed quietly. He looked around; it was all as clean as if he’d just left it yesterday, but Major Lindov had explained that the ship cleaned itself to prevent dust from building up and clogging systems. Though he didn’t understand what half those words meant, he just accepted them. The air smelled clean and fresh, not like it had been going around and around for a hundred years or more.
There was another room to the other side of the control room, and that was where Jovan walked now. Inside, he saw Sualam beginning to wake, struggling against his body’s own weakness, as Jovan had done. Finally, the older man sat up and when he saw Jovan, he smiled.
“We’re alive,” he said faintly.
Jovan nodded, leaning against the doorframe to conserve what little strength he had left. “Yes, we’re here.”
He didn’t know where here was, though, and he’d been afraid to look out of the window, for fear of what he might see. Sualam slowly rose from the bed, stretching his body elaborately and walking, a little uneasily, towards the door. Though it had obviously been a long time since they had gone to sleep, there was little that looked different in Sualam’s face. He was sure that he could even see the same awe that had been on his face when they’d first set foot on the ship.
They walked together to the control room and Jovan took his seat, wondering when Major Lindov was going to show up. It wasn’t as though he had a good grip of the controls yet, but he thought that he was probably competent enough to turn the ship around to get a look at where they were going, as all that could be seen through the front window was empty space. It was threatening and terrifying.
Slowly, the ship began to swing around. “Careful,” admonished Sualam.
Jovan smiled and kept going, though making sure that his movements were slow and fluid, as Major Lindov had told him when they were practicing, while they were flying through the planets that were near his own.
It didn’t take long before they had turned far enough. Before them stood the only planet that they could be reasonably heading towards. From this distance, it looked so small. Jovan saw a moon around it and as they drew closer, he could see that the moon was larger than the one on his own planet. The planet was smaller, though.
But there was more green, vibrant green that seemed to have taken over half the planet. The clouds were the same white, the water was the same blue, and Jovan felt his heart catch in his throat. For a moment, it was too hard to breathe, and he didn’t even try. All he could do was stare, and he could tell that Sualam was doing the same.
“This must be it,” he finally managed to say. “This is Earth.” The top and bottom of the planet were encased in what looked like snow, but nearly everything else was green. “This is…home.”
Major Lindov appeared on the screen again, looking the same as he always had. “If you’re hearing this, then the autopilot worked, the freezing systems worked, and unless I’m very much mistaken, you’re looking at Earth out there in the window. This is home. The other planet we were on? That was just a holiday. A long holiday, but now we’ve come home.”
Jovan reached across and gripped Sualam’s hand tightly. It was hard to control the emotions that he was feeling right now. Even though he hadn’t known that this planet had existed a short while ago, even though he had known all his life that the other planet was where humanity had always been, there was something buried deep in him, that had been buried for generations, that cried out at seeing this planet, that cried out in remembrance of being home.
“Now,” said Lindov, and his voice was all business, “the first thing you need to do is to check to see how many shuttles are operational. It’ll be a lot easier that way, as I’m pretty sure that you can count on no one being there to guide you down from the ground. But…to be sure, open your radio up on all frequencies and say something, anything. If there is someone listening, you will hear a reply, even if it’s one you can’t understand. Activate the external radio by reaching up over the normal com panel and flipping the first and third switches from the left, and then turn the dial forty-five degrees to the right to open up all channels. Do that now.”
Hand trembling, Jovan did as he was told. What if there were other humans down there? He looked across at Sualam, who nodded. Jovan cleared his throat nervously, and then said, “This is…Major Jovan Lindjham,” he said. That was the title that the other pilot had given himself, so Jovan thought that he deserved it as well. “Can anyone hear me?”
They waited for a long few minutes, holding their breath. Jovan didn’t know if he wanted there to be someone on the planet who could hear them or not. They waited, and there was no reply.
But that made something else in him buckle. This was where the last of humanity had been, and now there were none here, either. All of humanity on both planets was dead. The only ones left were those on the ship. It was a terrifying thought, to think that this was all that was left.
“I assume that no one replied, or you would have been given overrides for this recording,” said Lindov suddenly. “So now you need to check on the status of your shuttles. If you look to your right, over past the other chair, there should be a display that has twenty-four lights underneath it. Each of them represents one of your shuttles. If the lights are green, they’re functional. If they’re orange, they probably need fuel and you probably don’t have any, so they’re as good as worthless, and if they’re red, they’re damaged and cannot fly.”
Sualam was the one to check and he said, “There are fifteen green lights.”
“If there is more than one green light, then you are going to put this ship into orbit and ferry everyone down, I’m not talking you into an Earth landing, which would be even harder than it was for me to land mine on the other planet, if I can avoid it. I want you to adjust your course heading…”
And so the voice droned on, reading out instructions that were simple and easy to follow, in the patient tone of a teacher. Jovan knew that he would never need to know any of this again, but that was okay. He was hardly hearing any of it, and merely letting his hands do as they were supposed to. His mind was on something else entirely.
His mind was on the planet before them. It looked so beautiful and so untouched. Down here, there would be none of the problems that there had been in Fayrotin. There would be no rivalries between Califf and Fayrotin, there would be no more of the same strife. Everyone would be able to get along.
This was their second chance, and he wasn’t going to waste it. As Earth grew ever bigger in the front window, he looked at Sualam and smiled. Before, they had been sad because they thought they were leaving home. Now he knew different: they had really been sad because they had been leaving a place of misery. Now they were coming home, home to the place of humanity’s birth, and here it was going to be different. Better. He would make sure of it.
Humanity had come home.
So, that’s that one done with. I’m proud of it and I can say that it’s going through to second draft stage. Final total wordcount for the project (as I’ve just now jammed it all into one file: 600,055).
Now, I move onto the last project of the month: Just a Glimpse, the synopsis of which follows:
Society is on the brink of collapse, the only thing keeping it together are the powerful influences of drugs, religion, and television. But everything is about to implode, in a country where the dictator can’t control his own family, let alone a whole country, and his wife is sleeping with the rebel who wants to bring the whole world crashing down.
But first, a celebratory little break as I switch my mind out of one gear and into the next.