Quantum_Anomaly wrote: »
As always, this is and continues to be, one of the best pieces of fiction I've had the pleasure of reading. Keep up mate, and may your future book deals be regarded highly.
Bugzapper wrote: »
T-Minus 16 hours.
Héloise and I managed to slip away from the ceilidh without too much fuss. After all the speeches had been made, the colonists rightly claimed this night as their own. We returned to our quarters and spent a few precious hours together, revelling in each other's company. As she slept, I made my way down to the Seamoth hangar. One final foray into the deep. My final duty to Aurora's crew.
I have kept vigil here since midnight. In the shadow of the monument raised to my lost shipmates, I have recited the names and callings of each one. I feel that this is the very least that I could do, lest their memory be forgotten among untold others who have also perished alone, so far from their native soil. I do not seek redemption here, beseeching an uncaring Universe to forgive my manifold sins. I speak to naught else but the endless waves. If there is anything resembling a deity Out There, I have seen no signs that even hint at its existence, let alone its infinite love and mercy. No-one has.
But speak their names aloud, and they shall live forever.
Dawn's pale light is creeping above the horizon. I rose and faced the obelisk, my head bowed.
"Mates, ma watch here is nigh endit. By yer leave, I'll head below for a wee spell now. It pains me sorely that ah cannae say who'd stand the next trick in ma stead... But rest assured, ye'll be in verra guid hands. The locals ken too well whit happened here, an' they're powerful sorry aboot it. Maybe they're no' the shape o' men as we conjure 'em, but they still feel as we do, in their ain fashion."
A minor miracle. Tears trickled down my cheeks, for the first time in a lifetime. Bless you, JUNO.
I watched my shadow creeping slowly up the obelisk, as it has done every year. As it reached full height, I took a nip from the flask, then solemnly spilled the rest on the deck and saluted. No triumph, no guilt, no gratitude for being the last of so many. Only a numb sensation of echoing grief.
My voice faltered and broke as I spoke my customary piece for the last time.
"Journey's done, shipmates. Rest easy."
I still have an hour or so before I'm definitely needed back onboard. I might as well swing by the Talking Wall to pay my respects there as well. If nothing else, one last swim may do wonders to dispel this growing air of melancholy. To be honest though, it felt astonishingly good to finally unload some of my heavier emotional baggage, although I've no intention of moping around until the next ray of sunshine appears. Just take the rough with the smooth, and keep on going forward.
The Wall has changed. Another panel has been added to the frieze, and the image it depicts is breathtakingly powerful. It shows the final moments of Father of Tides, his life force all but spent. Apparently, the Warpers have been taking some artistic cues from my own work. Their highly stylised line-work is now more refined, and they have inlaid the Leviathan's body with an intricate mosaic of iridescent shell fragments, held in place with a tenacious resin extracted from Creepvine root holdfasts. Four opened egg cases lay directly in front of the Sea Emperor, and four tiny hatchlings can be seen swimming about his head. To the far right, I can see the unmistakable shapes of six ExoSuits, followed by a stately retinue of Manannán's sea life. Father of Tides' outstretched talon points the way to a new future for our dying world.
The oceans of Terra shall live again.