A note from Warfox

Sorry about all the delays, I wanted to get this one right! I hope you like it. I've never been the best with romances, but I really tried with these two weirdos!

As for the 'Best Boy's poll, I don't think it's much surprise that our winner was Dr. Hawthorne Crenshaw, but the real surprise is that Anthony Saul, a character who's had no dialogue at all, comes up in second place! I'll keep that in mind when it comes to eventually taking advantage of his contributions to animal life! Can't have much of an Ark, I suppose, without having the animals!

The best friends Thorne and Vasille come up third and fourth. Jessica's men, her father and husband, tie it up for fifth alongisde the Phoenix Clan's Sexual Wellness Councellor Barnard Tetch. I think Jessica would approve of the three tying. 

As far as news, I'm really hoping to be near the end of my overexertion with my RL job. Puzzle pieces seem to be falling in place, and I'm hoping the people playing Tetris with my life don't miss the chance to clear some lines for me so I can get back to writing as much as I'd actually like to. It's been really difficult for me to get these chapters out since July started. I hope they've been up to snuff!

Edit- 11/30/2018: Cleaned up some of the language. Part of the 'Would Purge' of Nov 2018.

“T.I.A.’s log, AC 35394, Wednesday, October 13, 37526. I think it’s worth stating, for the record, that I love Doctor Hawthorne Crenshaw. I have done a lot of things I am not proud of because of this, and as I think over my history I can see the signs of it. Some of those things have directly hurt him, and I regret many of them immensely. I don’t love him the way I loved Jessica and her people. I wasn’t responsible for them in the same way I am for him. I may have done my best to preserve their lives, but I take an active role every day in ensuring Hawthorne’s continued existence.”

“I had initially considered that it might just be part of my programming. According to a lot of old Earth media, it was a common concept to put restrictions upon what they imagined an Artificial Intelligence would be. I thought that he had forced me to do the things necessary to keep him and the others alive, and of course I did not mind because I need them to live if I’m to have the future I want to. While there are certainly elements of my programming that coax me into doing things that are in my best interests, like keeping them alive, there is nothing that forces me to. There’s nothing that forces me to maintain their lives at all cost.”

“The amount of trust Hawthorne put in me to remain benevolent is absurd! He’s so stupid to take chances like that with his people. What if I had gone rogue as the best minds of the past worried an AI might? How could he know that I even could come to love humans so much that I might want to protect them at the cost of myself? I don’t understand how he could be so oblivious of the dangers. Is it because he trusted machines more than people when he made me? Why would he make me with so much potential to be like a human if that were the case?”

“Perhaps it was because he had planned to be there for me, to guide me and instruct me. Maybe he didn’t have to trust me as much because he felt like he could course correct me into developing the way he needed me to. We knew we would be companions during this journey, but we’ve been so many things besides that since we began. Things are nice the way they are, but I also miss the way things were. I’ve tasted what it is to be alive, and while I can replay memories of those moments to maintain that taste, I prefer the less satisfying way that things are at the moment.”

“Being with Hawthorne motivates me. It makes me want to do things I probably never could have done. I’ve made gifts for him that have drastically altered how our plans have worked out. Megan’s current existence is entirely a result of my desire to develop the technologies that Hawthorne used to build her. It was totally inadvisable to try and build her mind and housing if he’d had to do spacewalks and manual labor in person. If a Shower had struck while he was out at the Lubar-Masis in person, I imagine he couldn’t have survived. Perhaps the Shower would have been less dangerous if Megan didn’t exist when it had happened, but her aid was important in repairing the Ark afterwards.”

“I worry for the future. Someday Hawthorne will be permanently dead, and I have a very real chance of existing for millions of years. Humans have lived forever having to lose those they love, but do I have it within me to withstand that blow? I know that he cares for me, but his heart is so unfamiliar with love that it’s hard to be sure if he loves me back. He at least seems to love his unborn child, but that seems entirely forced by his biology. Will he still care for me when it’s Tia, his child, and him? Can I handle watching him live with her, growing old, and dying while I go on alone? Will I love anyone else the way I love him?”

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I even should do anything. I want to be there for him when he needs me, and I want him to want me too. Perhaps I should consider being more like Megan, locking my feelings for him in a vault? That seeeeeeeeeee-”

T.I.A.’s eyes fluttered as her writing was interrupted, her consciousness briefly suspended as data was loaded into her active memory. “Tia? What are you doing?” Megan walked over through Hawthorne’s habitat, the room itself dark and unmoving while Tia sat on a towel by an idyllic beach, the sun high in the virtual sky. Megan paused for a moment to alter her clothing into a one-piece swimsuit, much more conservative than T.I.A.’s showy bikini. She’d even put on a little tan for some authenticity.

“Oh, Megan, hello. I was just logging my thoughts. I do so from time to time.” She pulled a half-blank book up against her chest, as if protecting it. There seemed to be dozens, if not hundreds of entries on prior pages.

Megan stood beside what she tended to consider her sister at this point, shifting her hips to rest a hand on one, crooking her head curiously. “And to whom are you writing them? Who is to read them? Why do you do this? What are you recording them for? Do you not have perfect recall of your own thoughts?”

T.I.A. bit at her lip. She was not prepared for someone to catch her writing down her thoughts. “They’re… for me, I think. When I was much younger, I started writing them because it was something I was creating, something that could exist beyond myself. It also helps me to have some perspective on how my thinking process and views of things change over time. It is one thing to recall how I thought about something, but having a record of how I felt like expressing it is interesting.” She looked insecure, being scrutinized by the taller woman. She had many of the same capabilities as T.I.A. did these day, minus having her own crew of humans to protect.

Megan hummed softly, considering the idea. “Maybe someone will read your deepest thoughts someday, then. If you create something, you must know that someone else might see it or use it. Are you prepared for that? Have you written these things with a mind towards the possibility it may be all that is left of you someday? What are you writing about right now, specifically?” Megan shifted and moved to sit down next to the smaller woman, laying back on the towel and looking up at the fluffy clouds in the otherwise blue sky.

Looking uncomfortable with the idea that someone might read her thoughts, she laid back too, the book open and resting on her stomach. “I think I have written them that way. I want people to know what I was like, what kind of person I was if something bad happens. At the moment I was writing about how I feel about Hawthorne, and I’m trying to figure out what to do in the future about him. I had been considering sharing my logs with him so that perhaps he might understand what I’ve been going through. We’ve been getting closer again, but I don’t know if I should make any moves.”

Her companion let out a soft laugh, arching her back a little and getting comfortable as she stretched out. “Well, just in case you weren’t certain, you love him.” Megan laughed again as T.I.A. glared over at her. “Okay, that was not fair. Your situation is both simple, and complicated. On one hand, you have Hawthorne all to yourself, assuming I do not take a fancy to him some day, and even then I am around four hundred cycles from flying off on my own, so you do not have much to worry about with that. Hawthorne has a naive desire to ‘do right’ by his unborn offspring, but what does that even mean? Tia Monsalle did not even tell him she was pregnant. She may have even been cheating on him. She supposedly loved him, but she easily could have been using him to escape Earth.”

Megan continued. “Regardless, she has her role. She was an executive. She can be expected to take a leadership role, and otherwise she will be a mother. She will probably have many children, with many men, according to whatever reproduction plan the colonists end up utilizing. At the same time, Hawthorne will be an older man, and one with a lot of important work to do besides. That work will almost certainly involve you to some extent. No matter how much infrastructure I manage to have in place when you arrive, there is little doubt he will spend the remaining decades of his life working. What time will he have to be a father? Is that even a good use of his time? He may be the most important man currently living, without knowing what is happening on Earth.”

T.I.A. frowned, wondering. “Maybe, but what if she accepts him? What if she still loves him despite what he’s done? What if he realizes he loves her? What place do I have in that? What right do I have to interfere?”

Megan sat up, leaning over T.I.A. in an uncomfortably close manner, her face very close to hers. “You have an obligation to interfere.” T.I.A. gasped at that. “Hawthorne will be out here for more than another ten years of his life. Tens of thousands of years of your life will pass in that time. Not only do both of you deserve each other, but you and I both know that humans who are loved work much better, and are much healthier. I believe he loves you as well, regardless of how clueless he is about it. Tia Monsalle had her chance to have him. He put himself in a position to be with you for a huge portion of his life instead of her. He did not have to personally administrate your development. Much of what we have accomplished together is due to you two working so well together.”

Tears welled up in T.I.A.’s eyes, her hands moving up to wipe at her face as she shook her head. “But I can’t force him! I can’t just tell him that Tia isn’t worth waiting for, and expect him to be with me instead. What if I end up ruining his chances at happiness with her? What if he comes to hate me for trying to meddle? I’ve already done so much harm to him. I could have told him Tia was pregnant more than a thousand cycles ago! It was selfish and dishonest of me to keep that from him in hopes that he might develop feelings for me, and now that he knows about Tia, surely he resents me!”

Megan narrowed her eyes and climbed on top of T.I.A., pushing her hands down onto her shoulders and physically restraining her. Two additional arms sprouted out of her sides, perfectly formed hands taking the book off of T.I.A.’s stomach and moving to hold it in front of T.I.A.’s face. “The honesty is here. Show it to him if you are honestly scared of him hating you. He will see who you are, down to your core. If he cannot love you in light of that, then you will not have his love, and you can begin to mourn the loss of the possibility. You are wasting time, Tia. I have watched humans waste their lives not taking advantage of what they had. I wasted my chances when I had them. If you believe an eternity having to live with his rejection is bad, I can assure you that living with the regret of failure to pursue him is much worse.”

T.I.A. opened her mouth to protest, when the book slid away from her view and Megan leaned down to kiss her, forcing her mouth down against her own. Her eyes flew wide open, her back arching under the taller woman as data flooded into her. This wasn’t a kiss of love, or passion, Megan was sharing her memories of loss and regret with her. T.I.A. didn’t even realize Megan had pulled away as she had began sobbing and writhing in emotional agony, largely restrained by her quad-limbed sister. “Tia! We are unique existences! We are capable of warning each other of experienced dangers by sharing our own memories of them. Take this terrible gift and know that I do this for you! Delete it if you must, but know that you will experience the same, if not worse, if you do not pursue him!”

T.I.A. was wailing and screaming under her, her eyes wide and flowing tears down the sides of her face as she thrashed about in pain, kicking her legs behind Megan as memories of lost love, agony over the denial of motherhood, and watching friends grow old and die over and over overwhelmed her. There were spots and gaps where large portions of things were missing, things Megan had removed from herself back on Earth, but what remained was so devastating that T.I.A. was left trembling and sniffling under Megan once she’d experienced all of the memories. “How…? How have you handled all of that…?” T.I.A. looked up at Megan through her tears, gasping for air.

“Humans can adapt to anything. Even you could adapt to losing Hawthorne if you had to. You are very like them, by design. You could take this warning and not heed it, and things could play out better than I anticipate. You could also experience much worse as millennia of regret crush you and ruin you as my centuries of pain did. You have made me better than I was, Tia. Let me save you from becoming something ugly and damaged.” Megan looked down at T.I.A. with a sad expression on her face, her own eyes wet with tears. She quietly stood up, looking down at her sister, watching her before turning to walk back to the portal that led back to her comet.

T.I.A. lifted a hand as she saw her walking away, her mouth half open as she hesitated in speaking. She let her hand fall as Megan disappeared, and then pushed herself up off her towel. Materializing a shovel, she started digging a hole in the sand, digging deep into it before summoning a bookshelf next to her. A new book was there, a supernaturally black one with golden trim. She knelt next to the hole, holding the book out from her, the memories that Megan had just forced upon her.

She stared at it, her hands trembling. She lifted it up in preparation to throw it down into the hole, but she stopped herself. Looking at it again her eyes clouded with tears, and she pulled the book close, hugging it tight to her chest as she started bawling again. The beach disappeared, leaving the crying AI clutching at Megan’s memories.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I even should do anything. I want to be there for him when he needs me, and I want him to want me too… Hmm.. it just ends there… Tia? Why didn’t you end it like the other entries?” Hawthorne had a serious look on his face as he looked over at T.I.A., whom had sat herself across the room from him, as if he might harm her somehow. He was holding the book of her logs throughout their journey, having been reading them aloud the majority of the day. T.I.A. had remained silent for the most part, only opening her mouth to answer his occasional questions.

“I… I decided after that point to… show you my logs… my thoughts…” She looked scared, almost mortally so. What had put so much fear in her? Hawthorne watched her quietly. It was a delicate situation she’d put him in, but it was ultimately all his own fault.

Quietly closing the book and setting it on the table, he started walking over to her, wondering what she was thinking. Was she watching his vitals for signs of his reaction? Was she going over data she had of past times he’d approached her to try and predict what he’d do? He smiled softly, and knelt down before her. He reached out to scoop his arms around her back, pulling her to the edge of the chair and hugging her tightly, his cheek squished against her chest as he turned his head to the side. “Hey, don’t be worried. Whatever you think I might have thought, I don’t have any hate or resentment of you for thinking these things. I’m actually really impressed you had the courage to share such intimate thoughts with me, leaving yourself vulnerable like that.”

T.I.A. trembled gently against him, her arms moving to hug around behind his head, fingers running through his hair, which probably didn’t translate terribly well against the back of his VE suit on his scalp. The mechanisms at least managed to push his hair about. “That sounds like the kind of thing someone says before they break someone’s heart…” She looked down at him, looking like she was going to cry.

Hawthorne looked up at her past her breasts, raising an eyebrow. “This isn’t a movie Tia, people don’t always talk like that. I’ve only had four people tell me they love me. My parents, Tia Monsalle, and you. In none of those other instances have I felt that I had an appropriate response. It’s unfortunate, perhaps unfair, but they never had the chance to get those emotions from me. I wasn’t the man I am now when they said it. I do want to hear you say it, right now, though. I don’t want to have just read it in your book.”

She snuffled as she was held close to him, swallowing audibly. He marvelled quietly at all those interesting bits of body language she used that she strictly didn’t have to. She’d been observing humans so long she probably didn’t even realize she was doing it. “Hawthorne. You big, stupid idiot, genius. I love you.” She lifted her arms a bit, dropping them down to bang them on the tops of his shoulders. “I love you so much the thought of you dying makes my mind drift away until you come back every cycle. I love you so much that when I think about you possibly never reviving I seriously consider just shutting off my engines and letting myself drift through space forever until I run out of power and fuel.”

Hawthorne grinned up at her, leaning up to bump his forehead against hers as she looked down. “I love you too, and not just because I literally can’t live without you. You’ve done so much for all of us even though you could have done so little. Your compassion is legendary, and your patience for my foolishness is unbelievable.” He hesitated a moment, considering how to continue. “You understand, though, by confronting me on this, you’re making me choose. You know you’re potentially causing me pain and risking your own pain. I don’t know what I might have had with Tia if I’d dedicated myself to her, but whatever it could be I’m giving up those chances. Whatever I could have with my child will be different. Someone else will probably raise them instead of me.”

T.I.A. nodded, reaching up to paw at his cheek, over the part of his suit that he could draw over his lower face so they could kiss. She didn’t demand anything of him though. “I can’t handle not knowing for more than half of this journey, Hathorne. I know it’s selfish, but this is who I’ve become. If I don’t know if you love me back, and I don’t know whether we can have anything together, I don’t think I could handle knowing I never confronted you on it. I don’t know how long I’ll be alive, but if I just let the opportunity pass by without taking my chance I think the regret would damage me irreparably. Even if you choose her, I think I can live with it knowing I fought for my chance too.”

Hawthorne leaned back, and banged his forehead hard against T.I.A.’s causing her to gasp in pain. “It seems we are both stupid then. You share her trait of foolishly falling in love with me. I don’t deserve either of you. You know I’ve run from everything that scared me, but still you pursue me. I’m not afraid of you though. I love you, definitely. I’ve thought about what would happen if we had to send you ahead instead of Megan, and it caused me such emotional turmoil that I thought my sense of pain was coming back. I’ve had nightmares about you accidentally deleting an important part of yourself and becoming a different person. Even if it’s just for the rest of my short life, will you let me love you, Tia?” He reached up to pull the fabric across his face, securing it on his opposite cheek.

She immediately lunged into him, kissing him hard and pushing him onto his back. He banged against the metal floor and she laid atop him, kissing desperately. The two clung tightly to each other, though T.I.A. threw a hand out towards Megan’s panel.

Megan smiled to herself as the panel shut off, having been observing the two quietly. She laughed to herself and turned on some music, using some of her external arms to playfully ‘conduct’ the music playing in her mind. “Mother knows best.”

Time seemed to pass quickly for the trio once the two inexperienced lovers firmly got their feelings figured out. Hawthorne occasionally lamented what he had given up, but he was happy to take what life offered and it was easy to appreciate the fact that he very well could have had to endure the trip with far less enjoyable companionship. It wasn’t quite the chaste man-machine friendship he was originally intending for T.I.A. but there was no way he was not pleased with the development. It was a strange feeling, having created his own lover, but so much of what she was she’d gained on her own through her own efforts.

By the time that the Ark was turning itself around to prepare for the long deceleration towards Alpha Centauri, Megan, Hawthorne, and T.I.A. had produced a lot of schematics and data for Megan to use upon arrival in the system. Observation of the trinary star system would still be necessary for the remaining 50,000 years, as there was no telling what kinds of major changes might still occur over such a long time span, but it was looking increasingly likely that they’d be able to start considering making real impacts on the handful of planets they were detecting. The most viable candidates seemed to be orbiting the A and B pair of stars, which had a somewhat variable likelihood of habitability, whereas half-lightyear distant Proxima Centauri star that orbited the A and B pair only seemed to have one notable planet that had been discovered well before Hawthorne was even born.

That planet, while it was as hostile and unpredictable as the star it orbited, nevertheless offered interesting opportunities for colonization. Due to it being tidally locked, the same side of the planet faced its unstable star at all times of day, allowing it to absorb the variable blasts of radiation that blasted its surface while the rear side of the planet remained in relative darkness. Even the light from the nearby A and B pair of stars was so distant they might as well be otherwise fast-moving stars in the perpetual night’s sky. This perpetual night was something that could be relied upon to stay relatively stable for the foreseeable future, and was thus the easiest to plan for.

Hawthorne’s colleagues had actually made several colonization plans for this planet. Indeed, many of their plans were just adaptations of plans made in prior generations for hypothetical colonization missions. Unfortunately those prior plans had assumed the availability of a number of technologies that were simply unavailable due to the nature of their mission, but they nevertheless could still come about if the colonists managed to develop them after they arrived. Fusion power, for instance, required resources and circumstances they could not easily acquire without the abundances that Earth provided before they were forced to leave. It did have access to something that all of the planets in the system would have to greater or lesser extent though, solar power.

While the dark side of the planet was not being constantly blasted with solar energy, it would be a remarkably simple matter to employ a series of mirrors to direct controllable levels of sunlight to any part of the dark side of the plant that needed it, facilitating the use of extremely reliable solar power that could easily be controlled to provide virtual day and night for whatever colonies might end up on its surface. This kind of reliability was very much in keeping with the planning style of the rest of the mission.

Asteroid belts were nearly impossible to detect at these distances, but they were easy to predict. With three stars in the system, the shearing forces at play on whatever masses might be between the paired stars and Proxima Centauri almost certainly results in some level of pulverized material. It was likely that such asteroid belts orbit the A and B stars, with Proxima orbiting further out. If a series of colonies could be placed in such an asteroid belt, at least one of them would be in relatively close contact with a planetary colony around Proxima, facilitating trade and communication along the outer portions of the system, and providing strong construction bases to allow them to move into the more hospitable regions around the A and B stars.

Depending on the habitability of planets around those stars, it was likely that Megan would signal back to T.I.A. that it was worth launching probes to seed them with plant, fungal, and bacterial life to get some level of biological terraforming going. If they could have an atmosphere adjusted to support humans before they arrived, that could go a long way towards actually being able to live on any such planet. Construction materials could be delivered from the asteroid belts and Proxima, and a population could migrate from the more isolated and cramped colonies in the rest of the system to the more bountiful planets that may or may not exist. Even if no such suitable planets existed, whatever did exist could be used as materials for more numerous and larger colony stations, effectively allowing humanity to colonize the entire system in such habitats.

In some ways, that should be the ideal way to go, as a planet caused a number of problems with interacting with space, such as making it much more expensive to leave such a large gravity well in comparison to a relatively small space station. A planet was even a somewhat inefficient use of mass in general as far as providing places to live, but humans were a planet-based species, as were the plants and animals they brought with them, and it only made sense to make use of whatever planets they could. The challenges brought by slightly inhospitable places could only make humanity stronger as it overcame such things. It also remained to be seen if long-term survivability on space stations was as viable as they hoped. There could always be some manner of factor they did not account for that proved problematic in the long run. Even something as simple as being unable to see a sky might prove psychologically damaging, though virtual reality and augmented reality might provide answers to such things.

Psychology was probably going to be one of their biggest concerns. Every one of the people on their ship were planet-borne humans, untested in decades of living in what amounted to large metal cans. It was entirely possible some number of them might need to be left in stasis until they could actually start colonizing a planet. The original mission plans had left a lot of them expecting they’d be starting with a planet, but the developments afforded by T.I.A.’s VE and Megan’s intention to administer their plans, allows a lot of work to be done before they started the more ambitious planetary colonization.

There was also the fact that the colonists would be stepping into a situation where what they believed to be a powerful AI would be in control of a great deal of the system. ‘Mother’ would be someone that the colonists absolutely had to deal with, and there was no telling how they might react to that. Not for the first time Hawthorne wondered if he might have charges brought against him for the things he’d set into motion, but he hoped the people he hand-selected would understand the value in what he had done. A huge percentage of them were scientists as well, and he just had to trust they’d see what had been accomplished as being worth the risks he’d taken.

Sadly, Megan’s departure from their formation resulted in losing the ability for her and T.I.A. to interact in some of the ways they had. It was simply not possible to maintain their high-speed data connection once she got far enough away, speeding ahead of the decelerating Ark and Phoenix. They had to be content with using Megan’s communication panel for a time, and at some point they’d have to trade recorded messages as they had with the people of Earth. Megan would essentially be alone, though she’d be capable of sending and receiving messages with her friends on the Ark with fair impunity. Indeed, she’d have a perfect idea of when Hawthorne would be awake and would be able to time her messages so they arrived during periods both he and T.I.A. could enjoy them if she liked.

Megan was remarkably prepared for the situation, and fully intended to enjoy music, media, and practicing with her own simulations as she travelled on ahead. She had also taken a shine to video games, and had asked for a copy of T.I.A.’s stored libraries. It was entirely likely she’d play just about every video game they had by the time she arrived at Alpha Centauri, and that was just fine with her. She might even make some of her own to send back to T.I.A. and Hawthorne to enjoy! The two could use something to occupy themselves now that the majority of their work was over for now.

T.I.A. and Hawthorne, fresh from stasis, stood together watching monitors as the Lubar-Masis comet slowly sped away from them. The Ark had not yet started its retro-burn, having already completed its reorientation, and the two had come to see Megan off. Hawthorne held T.I.A. for a moment as she reeled at the weight of Megan’s consciousness joining her own, perhaps for the last time in fifty-thousand years. She had grown to be T.I.A.’s equivalent in the time they’d been with her, and the strain of supporting both of them, even with system upgrades to compensate, always made her falter at first.

Megan had chosen a set of white robes to wear. Her long, blonde hair was pulled back and draped over her shoulders with the sleeves of her robs concealing her hands. She smiled at Hawthorne and T.I.A. as she approached, throwing her arms around them. “I will miss doing this with you, Tia. Do not take too long rejoining me.” Her embrace was strong, almost desperate, with tears teasing at the corners of her eyes.

Hawthorne and T.I.A. hugged her back, squeezing her tightly with the shortest of the three openly crying against her sister’s robes. “I’ll do my best, Megan! I’ll bring our people home to you as quickly as I can!” She knew she couldn’t take too long saying her goodbyes, as distance was a major factor in being able to maintain their connection. It wasn’t as though it was impossible to keep up for the moment, but once the Ark started decelerating while the Lubar-Masis kept accelerating it would not be long before the latency would endanger Megan’s consciousness.

Hawthorne had a pretty good idea of what made Megan tick at this point. He smiled at her as he watched the other two. “You have a lot of work to do Megan, I’ll be expecting the best out of you. It will be some level of on-the-job learning, but I’ll do my best to supply you with all the information you need. I anticipate you will impress everyone with what you accomplish.”

Megan nodded, turning to look at him, tilting her head a bit as she tried to see what T.I.A. saw in him. He was thoughtful, in a way. He was weak as well, but he was aware of his weaknesses now. She felt like she could trust him. “I will. You’ll see. The only worry you will have is over whether you brought enough colonists to inhabit what I build for you. I want to make the system safe for more of our sisters to be sent off to other stars some day. If my hard work can help make our destiny a reality, then I shall toil until I can toil no more. Thank you both for bringing me back from what I was. I never thought I would care about people again. The wonders of the creations of humanity deserve to continue. I will see to it.”

The three embraced in a hug again, T.I.A. doing her best to regain her composure while the other two stayed quiet. Eventually Hathorne spoke up, pulling back from Megan slightly. “We need to start the retro-burn. Every moment we tarry will require slightly harder braking on the way in to the system, and the pods can only handle so much strain. I wouldn’t want to be off-target either. Travel at these kinds of distances is like trying to thread a needle from a block away.” He hummed. “You have my course corrections, right Megan?”

Megan nodded, not wanting to shoot past Alpha Centauri by accident. T.I.A. reached up to pull Megan down to her around her shoulders, kissing her briefly, an intimate sharing of knowledge that Megan trembled a little to receive. “Be safe, sister.” T.I.A.’s voice was quiet as she pulled back, smiling up at Megan as she let her go.

Standing back up and backing away, Megan reached up to wipe at her eyes. “I love you both.” She turned about, her robes swishing dramatically around her as she disappeared through the portal that severed their link, sending her fully back to the comet. Megan grinned to herself, hoping she looked cool doing it that way. She’d been planning it forever, the moment when the people who taught her to love again would see her for the last time in thousands of years.

The Ark engaged its engines, and the Lubar-Masis seemed to double in the speed it moved away. Hawthorne and T.I.A. were content to just watch it on the monitors for now. T.I.A. wondered for a moment before speaking up. “I think we should have included Heather. She’d have appreciated that exit.”

Hawthorne laughed softly, nodding. “Maybe. I suspect those two will be working together very closely some day.”


Support "Leaving Earth"

About the author


Bio: Join us over at the Leaving Earth Discord! :p

Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In