This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2008-07-26 — sourcemeta

Author:Judith “Stormdance” Kenyon
Copyright:Archiving permitted by author

Oh, and the planet Neri and Mera come from is called Oceanna in the show, but I thought that was so very extremely un-original so I’m using the listies’ name for it: Lapis, based on the way Neri’s people call Earth the Opal Planet. This story starts shortly after the end of season 3.

Lapis Dreams: The Children

On the day after tomorrow…

“Jane, come out of there. You don’t need to take a bath before school, honey.”

(No, but I want to.) Jane Seaforth thought rebelliously. She turned off the water and got in.

“That’s all we’ll see of her until it’s time to leave.” Said the parental mutterings from outside the bathroom door. “I have never met a girl so obsessed with cleanliness…”

If she’d had the words, Jane could have told them it wasn’t being clean she was obsessed with, it was water. The weight of it, the currents. You didn’t get current in a bathtub, but if they’d let her go to the ocean… the ocean…

Mera woke with a start, in her own little sleeping room on the ship. Funny, when she’d been Jane her dreams had been full of how life was on her own planet, and now that she was with her people she dreamed of earth. But this dream had been different somehow. Unwilling to go back to sleep until she figured out how it had been different, she sat up and frowned thoughtfully into the darkness of her room. Someone else was up; Mera could hear the plaintive notes of a wind-flute out in the main room of the ship. She got up and went to see who was playing.

It was Irroleen, Mera’s favorite of the elders. The woman was sitting under a single light, looking like a beautiful statue as she played. The song ended on a wistful, questing note, and Irroleen lowered her flute. “Couldn’t sleep?” She asked.

Mera shook her head, “I have dreams.”

“You also?”

She said nothing more, and finally Mera asked, “What were you playing just now?”

“Your mother wrote it. Her song of sorrow for your father and the others with him.”

“I didn’t know she wrote music.” Mera said, a kind of pain in her voice. “There is so much still to learn about my family.” The words spun and danced in her mind, Family… Family.. so much to learn… Mera looked around, even though she knew there was nothing to see.

Irroleen didn’t notice. She was looking hard at nothing, listening in a way that didn’t use ears. After a moment she shook her head in frustration, “Gone now. Did you hear it?”

“Yes. The same as in my dreams.”

“Our people are many days away, to far to send their thoughts to us. And it was not your sister…”

“Irroleen,” Mera said urgently, “Were there other children with us when we first came to earth? Children as young as I was?”

“Yes…” Irroleen said, obviously not understanding where this was going, “There were several mothers with babies. Why?”

“Could Father have sent them down separately like me?”

“He could have, there were enough life capsules on board for everyone. You think he did? That they’re out there somewhere?”

“I know they are!” Mera exclaimed, eyes shining with the force of her conviction. “They come in our dreams, the synchronium must have woken them—we must go back, tell Neri!”

“We must speak to the others.” Irroleen corrected firmly, “They will decide what to do.”

“Oh guys,” Dianne Bates called across the room to her son and his friends, “We have a surprise for you!”

Brett looked up at his mother, then noticed the light-haired girl standing behind her.

“Hey, Lena!” Benny exclaimed, and Cass added, “Lena’s back!”

“Um, Lena,” Brett asked uncomfortably, “Your, um, father isn’t here too is he?” He looked around quickly as if expecting Dr. Hellengreen to appear out of the walls.

“No, he isn’t.” Lena assured him, smiling. “Father’s off on a business trip, he said I could choose where to stay, and here I am.”

“That’s cool then.” Benny said, “Jason and SallyAnn are on maintenance topside.”

“Getting their work done so tomorrow we can all go—”

“You-know-where to visit you-know-who.” Cass interrupted.

Neri was perched in the top of a tree, trying to worry a coconut off its stem when she became aware of something happening. It was nothing she could see or hear, but it was there. She dropped from the tree and stood silently in the sand, listening. But as she did, the feeling faded.

(Charley?) Neri called silently to her friend, (You hear?)

(Call.) The whale replied, uninterested. (Play?) he added a moment later.

Neri listened until the quiet got boring. (Play.) she agreed, and ran down to the water.

It happened again while they were swimming. Like a half felt echo of a vibration from very far away.

(Sad!) Charley whistled in surprise.

(Yes. Someone is sad. Or, longing.) Neri grabbed onto the big whale’s fin. Someone was very sad, someone was saying—

“C’mon mom, please let me come!” Diana begged, “I’ll be really good, wouldn’t that be easier than leaving me with Gramma?”

“Di, we’ve been over this.” Her mother – foster mother – said in exasperation, “The new job will keep us traveling all over the world. We’ll be in Australia most of the year—”

“So I’ll stay in Australia! I can go to school there and see you guys between jobs, I’m old enough to take care of myself.”

“Fourteen is not old enough to take care of yourself, much as you’d like it to be.” Her father said with a hint of a smile, “We’d have to find someone to stay with you.”

“We’ll think about it.” Diana’s mother said, “That’s all, no promises.”

Diana grinned and thanked them. She was convincing them, slowly but surely.

Though Diana wasn’t sure exactly why she was so keen to go to Australia. Not that she’d have admitted that to anyone.

Neri ended up at ORCA without really meaning to go there. She came up underneath the docks, the only part of ORCA that was above the surface. She hung there in the water and speckled sunlight, listening.

“Is it reading now?” Jason’s voice said, slightly muffled. This was because he was rummaging in the engine of a pontoon boat, trying to reconnect the navigation system.

“No—Yes!” SallyAnn exclaimed with relief, “And reading correctly.”

“Hey, all right!” Jason said, taking his head out of the engine housing.

Neri came up beside the boat. SallyAnn gasped then said, “Hi Neri, what’s up?”

Jason turned and smiled down at Neri. “Remember to keep your voices down.” Was all he said, “In case somebody else comes out here.”

“Jason,” Neri said urgently, “Something is starting.”

Jason’s reaction was exactly what Neri had thought it would be. “Aw Neri, something else? That synchronium stuff was enough.”

“Yeah, we just saved the world last week.” SallyAnn said with a grin.

Neri shrugged, a gesture she’d picked up from Brett. “It is only starting now. I feel something… someone seeking. Mera fels it too; the ship is still close, I can hear her thoughts.”

“Do you know what it is?”

“What can we do?” Jason asked.

“I do not know yet. Watch.”

“I’ll check HELEN’s news program.” SallyAnn offered.

“We’re coming out to the island tomorrow.” Jason said, “We can all talk about it then.”

“All right.” Neri said with a smile, “Maybe I will know more then.”

At that moment the elevator door hummed open and Morgan’s voice called, “Cadets! You do have two more systems to check today. Let’s move!”

Neri dove under without a splash while Jason and SallyAnn groaned.

Sara-Kate sat on the bench next to her brother Michael. Out the window she could see it was getting on towards evening.

“I wonder where they’ll put us tonight.” She thought aloud, “Back at the orphanage prob’ly, or on cots at the police station.” They’d slept both places often enough before. Sara-Kate waited for a response from her brother. There wasn’t one. Not surprising; Michael talked to himself more than he talked to other people. Grown-ups usually assumed he was retarded, which he wasn’t.

It was too quiet, so Sara-Kate kept talking. “They were talking when we came in, about donations to send disadvantaged kids to some camp. That would be cool. We’re sure disadvantaged enough.” Michael still didn’t answer, and Sara-Kate was tired of talking with nothing to say. So she started thinking just how disadvantaged they were. No parents; no clue who their parents might be. They’d been found one night by people tracking a meteor. The group had come to a huge rock formation where they thought the meteor had fallen, and instead they’d found Sara-Kate and her brother, wrapped in rough blankets, screaming their lungs out like babies do. There had been investigation, of course, but no leads had turned up as to who the babies might be. So they’d gotten names and birth certificates and had started touring the foster homes.

It hadn’t been so bad when they were little, but for the last three years they hadn’t stayed anywhere for more than a few months. And now they’d been turned out of another place. At least this time they knew why. It was because of two weeks ago, the really bad earthquake when the sky turned red. They had been out in the yard when it happened: a sudden feeling of wrongness had swept over her, then the sky had gone dark and she’d heard an awful screaming wrenching sound that went on for a long, long time. When things had gotten back to normal Sara-Kate found herself on her knees in the grass, crying. Michael was even worse off, too badly to pretend they’d just been scared by the quake.

And since then their dreams had gotten really strange, and every so often—

(Every so often this happens.) Sara-Kate thought ruefully. She felt dry, in a way that had nothing to do with being thirsty.

“I’m going to go get a drink.” She told her brother and then their social worker in the next office over. It was late enough that she didn’t see anyone on her way to the water cooler on the ground floor.

She filled one of the little cardboard cups and drank it. It didn’t help. Next she dumped a cupfull of water over her head. Now that was better. Not great, but better. Except now she was all wet.

“No wonder they think we’re crazy.” Sara-Kate muttered to herself as she went back upstairs.

“Welcome aboard Bates boating, nonstop service to Neri’s island.” Brett said through a pretend intercom. “Today there will be no snacks served, no inflight movie—”

Lena interrupted. “Let’s just hope there’s enough room for everybody. Are you sure you couldn’t have gotten a bigger boat?”

“Nope.” Jason told her, “Not unless you want Morgan chasing after us with an order to explain why we all have to go.”

“Are you badmouthing my sister?” Cass challenged.

Jason had heard this before. “Yep. And what are you going to do about it?”

“Agree with you of course!”

“Sit down or fall in, people!” SallyAnn announced, and gunned the motor.

Brett was leaning over the side of the boat, staring down at the water and getting a faceful of spray whenever SallyAnn took a wave the wrong way.

“Hey, you’re going to drown like that and what’ll I tell mom?” Jason grabbed his brother by the collar and pulled him upright.

“I wasn’t drowning!”

“You sure look like a drowned cat.” Cass said.

“There was something down there, a dolphin maybe. Lemme go, Jace.”

Jason turned Brett loose, and leaned over the side himself. “There is something there, SallyAnn stop a sec.”

“All right.” They coasted to a halt in the water and waited, everybody looking around.

A voice said, “Brett, you look like a drowned cat.” Everybody jumped about a foot and then looked around frantically.

Something dark was bobbing in the water. Then it vanished. Then Brett yelped and nearly fell overboard when someone came up in front of him. A girl, with a wide freckled face, impish grin, and tangled hair the dark brown of polished wood.

“Mera!” Jason shouted.

“Hey Mera, what are you doing here?”

“I came back to help out with the adventure of course.” Mera replied.

“Oh, well, of course.” Brett muttered, “Hey, what adventure?”

“Well the oracles said-- wait, I’ll explain at the island, Neri doesn’t know either.” And she dived under the same way Neri did, and vanished… only to reappear a few waves over and yell, “Come on!”

“Oracles?” Benny asked.

Jason shrugged, “You know as much as we do.”

Whatever else might have been said was drowned out as Cass and SallyAnn got the motor going.

Diana looked up from her book as her parents came in. They were in a motel in Sydney where her parents were staying until they were assigned their job. It was a nice place, and Diana had been having fun exploring the city and dodging in and out of the big stores.

“What’s up? Find out where we’re going?” Diana asked excitedly.

“Yes, they finally decided.” Her father said.

“We’ve been assigned on a boat taking surveys of marine life. But you can’t come with us.”

Diana looked demanding. “So where am I going to stay? Do you know yet?”

“Well one of the women we’ll e working with, her husband runs a sort of camp where foster kids get vacations. They’d take you as a volunteer.”

“It’s on the coast, a really nice place.”

Diana was overjoyed. “Really? That sounds so cool! When do we leave?”

Neri and Mera were waiting on the beach. Or Neri was; Mera was bouncing around climbing trees. They both ran down to help pull the little ORCA boat onto the beach.

“So what’s the big news, Mera?” Cass asked immediately.

“There are four other kids from Lapis here.” Mera dropped the bombshell.

The ORCAns gave a collective “Whaaaaaaat?”

“Well it’s like this.” Mera began, “Let’s go sit in the shade, it’s a long story. When the first ship was coming from Lapis with our father Braevan as the captain, they were coming with a message of peace and protection for the people of the Opal Planet. But something happened and the ship crashed on this island. Nobody knows why, but before it did Father put me and the other really little kids in life pods and shot us out to land wherever we could. So they’re out there somewhere living normal lives like I was, and we have to find them.”

“I’ll agree with that.” Jason said cautiously. He did agree, completely, but knew not to promise too much.

“Normal lives?” Lena asked, “No offense or anything, but you two are just so different.”

Neri nodded and cast a questioning glance at her sister, “We could not.” She said and the others realized she knew only as much as they did.

Mera was only too keen to go on, “Irroleen told me that children without any of the gifts could change themselves when they were small, not to need water as we do. On Lapis nobody ever does that, but here they’d have to if nobody found them soon after they had landed. But when the synchronium set the earth right it woke their true natures.”

“Whoa, back up a second. Gifts?” Brett asked.

Neri answered him. “Special magic a few of our people have. The healing gift, the oracle gift, the wave-speaker gift. That is all I remember.”

“You’re right.” Mera said, “The oracle gift is for seeing futures that could be so we can take the path to the better ones. The wave-speakers can calm storms and things like that. They are the treasured of our people.”

There was a silence while they thought about that, then Cass sat up, clapped her hands, and said, “Where do we start?”

Sara-Kate was cheerful. Despite the fact that the road was bumpy and the jeep they were in was hot, and they had an hour or so more to go.

They were going to the camp that Sara-Kate had overheard about. After days spent at the orphanage, Sara-Kate was more than ready to get away from the constant presence of other kids. Other kids who were always noisy, always watching, always there ready to jump on one for the slightest thing… Sara-Kate had never gotten along well with other kids. But now they were going out into the wilderness to somewhere where (hopefully) she’d be able to sneak away from everyone for a while.

“Look!” Michael crowed, pointing out the window at a silvery glimmer through the trees. Sara-Kate leaned forward to see around him.

The driver flashed a grin at them in the rearview mirror. “Didn’t somebody tell you kids the place’s on the ocean?”

“Nobody tells foster kids anything.” Sara-Kate said in her talking to grownups voice, “They don’t have time to explain. When are we going to get there?”

“Not too long. It’ll be dark by then though.”

Michael grinned gleefully, “On the ocean!” he whispered to his sister, “This’ll be cool!”

It was dark, and a little windy, when the jeep pulled over by a large white sign. Sara-Kate and Michael tumbled out of the car and looked around. It was dusk, blue dusk. Behind the sign the ground fell away steeply and they could see lights and a campfire on the beach below, among the rocks and stunted trees. Access to the beach was by a long set of stairs. Someone was coming up, a blur of pale hair above pale T-shirt. Sara-Kate waved hesitantly, then turned to help her brother with their bags. Two backpacks and one big suitcase, for all their worldly goods.

By the time they’d gotten the stuff out of the jeep, the person had reached the top of the stairs and was talking to the driver. She was a young woman in a camp-logo shirt and jeans, her hair blowing around in the wind. The driver gave her some papers then waved a casual goodbye at them and drove off.

There goes the outside world." The girl from the camp said, watching the taillights vanish. She had an accent, American, Sara-Kate thought.

“Hi.” Said Michael, “Who are you?”

“Diana.” The girl answered as bluntly as she’d been asked, “Let’s go down; those stairs are hard enough to get down in the daytime.”

They started down the steps, carefully in the light of Diana’s flashlight. Sara-Kate was thinking. There was something about Diana, like a memory that flitted around the edges of Sara-Kate’s mind but wouldn’t come in. “How old are you?” she asked.

“Fourteen.” Diana said, “I’m volunteering here while my parents do the scientific world tour. How ’bout you?”

“We don’t have parents, not really. We’re on the foster kids world tour.”

Diana laughed, “Adopted? Join the club. I know I’m lucky to have a family even if they’re not my real one.” She said sympathetically.

“Oh well.” Sara-Kate said, “We manage all right… so what’s there to do here? Can we swim?”

“Right now?” Michael added.

“Not right now.” Diana said, laughing, “Tomorrow you can. And there’s art stuff, activities, sports, we have a boat, and other things. You can sleep in a tent or outside–”

“Outside!” Sara-Kate exclaimed, “I never got to do that before!”

“Cool.” Diana said, “It doesn’t get very cold, don’t worry.”

They stepped off the last gritty step into soft sand. Sara-Kate could smell smoke, and hot dogs cooking.

Diana and the councilors helped them set up some cots near where Diana had hers. Then they hunted up some dinner; apples and milk, those hot dogs smelled good but the thought of eating one was gross. Michael had to be pulled back from wading too far out. Then they sat with the other kids around the campfire and listened to stories about things they’d done, seen, heard of. Sara-Kate and Michael didn’t say anything. Neither did Diana.

Night on the island. Mera lay with her head sticking over the side of the nest and looked down at the pool below her. She wasn’t sure what time it was; late, the frogs were cheeping and moonlight splashed down on the water whenever the wind stirred the trees. Mera was content to lie there and think of nothing at all, except how beautiful the ripples in the water were.

Neri was dreaming. She dreamed she was someone else, catching a handful of water and pouring it over her hair, on a rock in the ocean somewhere where there were no trees to block the moonlight. Then Neri dreamed she heard a sound, and turned to see who was making it. But before she saw, her dream went down another path to other things.

She woke up when Mera swung down the vine into the water and looked down at her sister. “You awake?”

“It’s too nice a night to sleep.” Mera said, “Did I wake you up?”

“I do not think so.” Neri looked around at the moonlight, and the night blooming flowers that perfumed the balmy air, and decided her sister was right. It was too nice a night to sleep. She got up, brushed the leaves off her dress, and swung down the vine into the water.

Later, they walked on the beach in the darkness. It really was a dreamy night, the wavelets in the sand hissed hypnotically. Mera laughed and danced around using two shells for castanets. Neri found a huge shell, the size of both her hands together. It would make a good eating bowl, but first it would do quite nicely to fill with water and dump on her little sister’s head.

Sara-Kate woke up in the middle of the night. She’d been dreaming, but couldn’t remember what, and she was feeling much too dry.

Michael was also awake, sitting up on his cot and looking around. It was a warm night, the air was alive somehow. A night that demanded you be up and doing things, instead of sleeping.

“Michael?” Sara-Kate whispered, “You OK?”

Silence for a long moment, then, “Dreamed about the Blue Thing. But it’s gone now. It went home.”

“What’s the Blue Thing?” Sara-Kate whispered back, mystified.

You know.” Michael sounded exasperated, “The thing that made the sky not red anymore. It’s big and blue and… round. And gone.”

This should have meant nothing to Sara-Kate, but her dream had been about something blueish– and very powerful. Weird.

Michael was getting up and putting his shoes on.

“Hey, where you going?”

Michael pointed down to the water, “Where Diana went.”

Only then did Sara-Kate notice that Diana’s cot was empty too. She got out of bed and reached for her shoes. Whatever the heck was going on, no way was she going to miss it.

The moon was half full, lighting the path just enough for them to walk without bumping into anything. The ocean was black and silver, nearly silent on the rocks.

Diana was sitting on a boulder, one of the far-out ones you had to jump from rock to rock to get to. She was dangling her feet in the water, and her hair was wet.

“Hi Diana.” Michael said as he landed next to her.

“Hi.” Diana replied, and scooted over so there was room for them on the rock. “Did I wake you up?”

Sara-Kate was taking off her socks so she could put her feet in too, so she almost missed her brother’s answer.

“We were dreaming about the Blue Thing too.”

Diana turned and looked at Michael for a long, long moment. “What is the blue thing?” It was the same question Sara-Kate had asked, but she’d meant ’huh?’ while Diana was admitting she believed in… whatever.

Sara-Kate listened in confusion as Michael tried to explain. “It’s the reason the earthquakes stopped. It’s big and blue and –” his voice dropped to a whisper, “And magic. But it’s gone now.”

“Yeah” Diana said, “It went and came back, but it’s gone now. Out there.” And she pointed out at the stars.

“Hey, whoa, wait a sec.” Sara-Kate protested, “what are you two talking about?”

Diana shrugged. “Don’t ask me. Just weirdness.”

“It is not!” Michael exclaimed, “It’s real, since the sky turned red and the Blue Thing fixed it.”

“Um, don’t tell anybody about this, OK?” Sara-Kate begged.

“Oh, I won’t.” Diana looked over Michael’s head at Sara-Kate. “They’d think we’re nuts.”

“And what do you think?”

“Dunno.” Diana said, “Maybe we’re nuts or maybe not. I think we need to compare notes.” She yawned and added, “Tomorrow.”

“Good.” Michael said, “Just don’t forget or we’ll never get back.”

“Back to where?” Sara-Kate asked curiously.


“Brother.” Sara-Kate muttered, and started drying off her feet so they could head back.

The early morning sunlight slanted down through crystalline water. The light reached ORCA as only a hazy blue-green outside, and the lights coming on inside. That deep under the waves, all was peaceful. Except…

“We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow--” Brett saw the look on Lena’s face and shut up. “Um, hi Lena. Find anything?”

Lena spun around on her stool on front of one of HELEN’s big terminals and debated whether or not to pardon the ’singing’ and tell him. “Yep! Look at this.”

Brett looked, “Wow! You hit the jackpot!” On the screen was an article entitled ’Alien babies? Meteor trackers find abandoned children’

Lena shrugged, “I don’t know if it’s them or not, that article is from National Inquirer.”

“Well it’s a clue. Let’s make some copies and show Jason.”

“Copies are made.” Lena said, holding up a folder, “Hang on while I save the search stuff I put in, then I’ll come have breakfast with you guys.”

Crowded around a table in the cafeteria, they talked.

“It has to be them.” Benny said, “The timing is right, and the meteor sighting…”

Cass nodded vigorously, “I agree. Is there any other information?”

“No other articles, but look here.” Lena pointed to the copy she held, “Names. Sara Kaitlyn Smith and Michael Johnathan Smith. That’s what they called the babies; I’m going to do a search on those names as soon as I can.” She was practically inhaling her cereal with impatience.

“Can we show this to Neri? Who’s free today?” Cass asked.

SallyAnn scowled at the duty roster from where she was sitting, “Not me. But Jason’s got today off. And there’s no school for you kids.”

“Us kids?” Brett repeated, aiming a spoonful of cereal in her direction.

Jason came over, after checking if he was on duty today, and getting his food. “We have a problem. Minor. There’s no school but also no boats. How many of you can fit on a waverunner?”

“Oh marvelous, Jace…”

“OK.” Sara-Kate said, “Let’s be logical about this.” They were sitting in a little hollow sheltered by rocks and the twisted little trees. Diana was sitting on a branch where she could see anybody coming up from the beach. It was a beautiful day, and Sara-Kate would have been content to just bask in the sun all morning.

“Logically, we’re all orphans and we all have the same weird dreams so there must be some connection between us.” Diana said as if daring someone to argue.

“More.” Michael said, “You say them.” He was evidently nontalkative right now.

Sara-Kate was not particularly happy to have this dumped on her, but she tried. “We came up with a list of all the stuff that’s weird about us.”

Diana interrupted, “So that’s what you were talking about at breakfast. I had to sit with Anna and them… you know.”

“Anyway.” Michael said impatiently.

“Anyway, dreams. And that water thing.” She stopped, embarrassed.

“Like if you don’t get wet right now you’re going to go nuts or something?” Diana suggested.

“Yeah! Waitaminute-- you get it too?”

“Mmhm. It’s very inconvenient.” She grinned.

Michael was leaning on the sunwarmed rocks, smiling excitedly at his sister and their friend. He nodded at Sara-Kate to continue.

“And the way we don’t even have a hint about our parents. We were found in some rocks where a meteor fell.”

Diana’s hazel eyes went round with excitement, “I was found on a beach! What night, what night?”

Sara-Kate told her, and Diana shouted “Whoa!” and jumped off her branch, “The same night! I was left ’till morning, but it was the exact same night!”

“Oh whoa.” Sara-Kate said in a blank voice, “That is so crazy, it’s just not possible.”

“Yeah-ha!” Michael yelled, “I knew you were just like us!”

Sara-Kate wanted to argue, but the only thing she could think of to say was ’it’s too weird’ and it seemed like that had already been said. So she stopped saying anything for a while.

Diana looked like she too was having second thoughts. It got quiet for a while as she worked through them. Michael looked from one to the other, waiting.

“I think so too.” Diana said finally, making Sara-Kate frantically backtrack to the last thing she’d said, “It’s too unlikely, too perfect. But unless one of us is lying, and it isn’t me, there has to be some connection between us.”

“Yeah.” Sara-Kate said after a while, “But it’s just…” She made a fist, as unable to catch the air as she was to catch an argument. “Oh, I don’t know.” She scowled at the rock she was leaning on.

Diana nodded sympathetically, “Let’s handle today today and see what happens tomorrow? If nothing ever does, then we don’t have to do anything about it.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“But we have to try and find stuff out, about what we are!” Michael exclaimed.

“Of course.” Diana said immediately, “We have to.”

Sara-Kate didn’t see that they had to, but she went along. “It won’t be easy to learn from here, no libraries or anything.”

“Even if we knew what we were looking for.” Diana agreed. Then she turned to look at Michael, “Do you know what we’re looking for?”

Michael had turned his back to them and was looking out at the ocean. He shrugged. Diana mimicked the gesture.

Sara-Kate laughed and lay back against a rock. “Maybe we’re aliens. The flying saucer came down and dropped us off and then vanished never to be seen again…” she said languidly.

“Sure, right.” Diana made alien eye-stalks with her fingers, “We-come-in-peace. Take-me-to-your-leader.”

They all laughed at that.

“Oh no,” Sara-Kate groaned at a familiar smell from below, “Not those awful hot dogs again.”

“Hey, it’s a cheap camp, whadda’ you expect?” Diana said, “There’s the food bell.”

“I bet on our planet they’re all vegetarians.” Michael muttered darkly.

I’ll second that." Diana said cheerfully, climbing out of their little hollow and starting down the hill.

“Who’s for raiding the vegi bin before certain of us have to go sit with their certain other friends?” Sara-Kate asked, aiming both certains at Diana.

“You’re welcome to join us.” Diana said right back, “But I don’t think you’d be interested in the things we talk about. No aliens.” She grinned suddenly.

“So when do we get to talk aliens again?”

“Tomorrow. Or whenever.”

In the end only Jason and Brett could go. They had a fun ride out to the island crowded onto a waverunner, and arrived very damp. Mera was on the beach, tracing designs in the damp sand.

“What are you doing?” Brett asked after they pulled the waverunner up onto the beach.

Mera smiled at them, “This is how they write on my planet. I am learning fast, but have to practice.”

Brett looked at the graceful tangle of lines and symbols taking shape under Mera’s stick. “Wow. What does that say?”

Mera giggled, “It says, ‘I had a coconut for breakfast. I would rather have a pan-fruit.’ That bit does. Pan-fruit grow on my planet in the water. Neri went to the spaceship, I said I’d bring you as soon as you got here.”

They trooped down the beach towards the side of the island that hid an entrance to the crashed spaceship that had brought Neri to this planet. The door to the spaceship was a large hatch next to a fallen tree. You got in by climbing down a vine Neri had set up.

“Neri? You there?” Jason called into the hole. His voice echoed.

Neri’s voice drifted up to them, “Yes, come down.”

Jason swung his legs over the rim and slid down the vine into the ankle-deep water that carpeted the floor. The spaceship was a mystical place to Jason. The sparkling drops of water and curtains of seaweed in the dim light made it feel like a fortune-teller’s tent. Add to that shafts of sunlight that couldn’t have come from the real sun, and water-sounds that were never completely silent, and you got a world both eerie and beautiful.

Neri was in the room of the ship’s log, the room where they had found Kal. She was touching her hand to the wall, to make the drawers and things come out. Neri didn’t look quite at home in this strangeness, and Jason noticed that she never looked at the place where Kal had been. “Neri? You all right?” Jason asked, going to her. She leaned against him for a moment.

“Jason, I feel the people who were here, I feel what all of them were like. They are my people, but they were not all like me, like Mera and Father. Some like Kellar.”

Jason was surprised. On a planet that had no word for fear, how could there be people like Kellar and Dr. Hellengreen? “Never mind them. They’re past, what we have is now. What are you doing down here?”

Neri smiled a little, her eyes warming. “I remember they kept a list of everybody on the ship. If I could find, would have the names of the lost children.”

“Hey that’s a good idea. So what does this list look like?” Brett asked.

Mera climbed around a fallen beam, “Probably a crystal. That’s how my people store information.”

“Makes sense,” Jason muttered, “I guess it’s too wet for books on your planet.” He and Neri got up to poke around some more.

“I’m going after Mera.” Brett said, and did. His voice faded into splashing, “Boy is this a weird place. Do you people really live in these things for months?”

“Well the floors aren’t tilted usually…” Mera replied.

Jason saw a small box float into one of the beams of not-sunlight, so he waded over and picked it up. “Hey Neri, have you seen this yet?”

“No, not this one. Let me open.” She did, and a blaze of light came out. “This is still alive!” Neri reached into the box, closing her eyes so she wouldn’t be blinded.

“What is that?” Jason asked.

He felt Neri shrug, “I do not know. It is broken I think, but not dangerous.” She bent down and dipped the box in the water. Its light dimmed.

“Crystals!” Jason exclaimed, “Maybe one of these is what we’re looking for!”

Neri turned to him, looking perplexed, “How you find this right now? I looked in water but did not find.”

“It was just floating there.” Jason said, mystified.

“This ship is alive. It shows things.” Neri said flatly. She handed the box to Jason and went to look for her sister and Brett.

Behind the fallen beam was a short tunnel that might once have been a room. On the other side the open space sloped downward suddenly, and was full of water. Brett was waiting on the ’shore’; before it got too deep. As Neri and Jason came out from behind him, Mera surfaced in the pool. She gasped for breath and said, “I found our room. Ours and father’s. I know because it had this.” She held up a sphere of glass, clear as water and shining with a soft light.

“Whoa, what is it?” Brett gasped.

Neri answered him, “A message. For us, when we were grown.” No one asked how she knew, or doubted that she was right.

“Well let’s go see it then.” Brett said, and reached to help Mera out of the pool.

But back in the main room, Neri was reluctant to do anything with the crystal ball. Instead she and Mera looked at the crystals Jason had found, plugging them into the wall. Most of them didn’t do anything. Two had messages from Kal’s mother; more of the ship’s logbook. One was the passenger list. A picture would come up on the screen while a voice spoke in the Lapis language about the person. Neri translated the first few, then stopped when it got boring. They watched. Neri’s image came up, a child-Neri with soft brown curls and big eyes. Then Mera, a little baby. Then other children. A baby girl with soft pale hair. “Aysah.” Neri translated, “Possibly a wavespeaker. She would be… fourteen if I add right.”

Mera spoke for the next two, “Laeka, twelve now. Raef, ten now. If I add right.” Laeka had a fuzz of brown hair; Raef looked like a baby.

“Rinelle, from a family with the oracle gift.” There was no picture, only the voice. And that was all. The crystal came free of its keyhole in the rock wall, and Neri put it back in its box. “Now we know a little.” She said, “Aysa. Rinelle. Laeke and Raef, brother and sister.” She sat down in the water, and splashed it over herself. Jason decided to help, and there was a short free-for-all in the buried ship.

It stopped when Brett said, “Do you realize we’ve been having a water fight in an alien spaceship with two aliens?”

Mera jumped up, scattering rainbow drops everywhere, “I almost forgot, the ball I found!” She pounced on it where it was floating, and handed it to Jason.

“This is heavy… how come it floats?”

Mera didn’t answer. She made a stand come out of the wall, and Jason carefully set the ball onto it. “Ummm, now what? Will you help me, sister?” With her words, Mera changed from an ordinary girl in a strange dress to a noble young princess. Neri nodded, and stood beside her. Jason and Brett got behind them as Neri and Mera reached out to touch the crystal.

As their hands met, there was a flash of blue light. Then darkness, as all the ship’s sunbeams died. Then the screen in front of them lit up, and a picture appeared. A beautiful woman stood as if she were looking at them through a window instead of across ten years. She had soft brown hair and brown eyes as deep as the sky. She looked a lot like Neri…

“Mother!” Mera gasped, “She is our mother!”

“Quiet, she is talking.” Neri said shortly.

As Neri translated, it seemed to the others as if they could understand the language of Lapis more and more. Remembering later, Jason would have sworn he heard the woman speaking without needing Neri to translate.

"Greetings, children of the future. Braevan, Neri, Mera, I hope you may be seeing this together, but if that cannot be, I will tell the whole of it so any may understand.

“My name is Neffarin, and I am a queen of the people of the Lapis planet. I leave this message for my children so they will know their true destinies. Neri, daughter, you are meant to be one of the leaders on our planet. In case your father has not told you, our people are led by a group chosen by all the people, and by members of the gifted families. You, Neri, are from the highest family of healers in our world, and I know your father will raise you as a kind leader. No matter what happens, you must return to Lapis and take your place here. The oracles have said this.”

Jason felt a pang of fear, and glanced at Neri. She was staring spellbound at her mother’s face.

Neffarin went on, “Mera, in you our healing gift runs stronger than in me or anyone else I have heard of. The path you choose is your own, but I would wish you to use that gift to help others.”

“Or course, Mother.” Mera whispered, almost inaudibly.

“But I must tell you both how our people choose their leaders. There are three tests any leader must go through. These trials need wisdom, hard work, and kindness, and can only be completed by those worthy to make decisions for others. For you the trials begin on the Opal Planet, for the oracles have seen the destinies of our two worlds are one. Daughters, hidden on the Opal Planet are three sacred symbols which you must find.” Neffarin held out her hand, and an image appeared above it. Three shapes like Christmas ornaments or fantasy castles, gold and silver set with gems. One was like an icicle with a spiral around it, one was egg shaped, and the third looked like a letter from a strange alphabet. “When the three symbols are together, they will make a signal to Lapis and I will come to the Opal Planet to meet you. I cannot tell you how to find them; perhaps they will find you. When the tides begin to move.” The symbols faded away. She bowed her head for a moment, then looked up again and smiled. “I am no oracle to tell the futures, but I believe you will be well on your strange world. I miss you already. Breavan, I love you always and hope I may see you again someday. Neri, little queen of the waves, be brave. Mera, ocean child, be wise. I will wait for you.” Neffarin turned away and her image faded from the screen.

They were silent as darkness fell in the spaceship. It held for a long minute, as if light and real life didn’t want to interrupt the echoes of a mother’s love. But then the sunbeams came back on. Neri stood still and silent. She might have been crying or smiling; Jason couldn’t see in the dimness.

Brett stepped back, tripped over something, and fell on his behind with a yelp and a loud splash. Everyone laughed as Mera helped him up.

“Let’s get out of here for a while.” Jason said, “We brought an article Lena found, it’s about the kids.”

Brett was trying to wring out his soggy shorts. “A boy and a girl together. Raef and Laeka I bet, now we just have to see if HELEN knows where they are now.”

“Did you have this much trouble trying to find me?” Mera asked. They were under the ’door’ by now, and she jumped to grab the vine as high up as she could.

“Oh you were easier to find.” Jason hung on the rope to weight it for her, “The guy who found you…”

“He was cool. We ought to go visit him someday, introduce you guys.” Brett added.

Neri shook herself out of her trance, “Sure, someday. Now we eat. How long has it been?”

“Not that long,”Mera’s voice floated down to them, “Not more than five– I mean an hour. Come on up guys, I’m hungry.”

None of them really wanted to think about what they had leaned from Neffarin, so they chattered about other things while they had a long feast; about bananas and Lena’s work with HELEN, about finding the children and the possibility of another dance at ORCA, about work and water. Mera and Brett went off on a ramble across the island, so Mera could show Brett a cave she’d found where bats lived. Neri went to talk with Charley, and Jason thought while he cleaned up after their feast. Not that there was much cleaning to do; banana peels went in the trash pit and were covered with a layer of dirt, shells were set in the stream to rinse overnight, and coconut shells were left on a branch where the possums knew to come and get them. Jason finished up and went to the beach to see if Neri had returned.

The sun was setting, turning the sky copper and the water gold. Neri was sitting in a hollow in the sand, her head on her arms, listening to the waves hissing on the beach. There were tears on her face, but she was smiling.

“Neri?” Jason asked sortly, sitting next to her.

Neri turned to him and smiled wider, her face shining with joy. “We have troubles ahead. But… Jason, I did not know my mother. Not her name or her face or her voice. Now suddenly I do. It is like a gift.”

It was somewhere past midnight. Sara-Kate was sitting on her bed, curled up in her sleeping bag staring into the dark. She was troubled. It was such a nice night, warm with a little breeze, but she couldn’t enjoy it. Something was coming. Not just one thing, but many things one after another. And when they were done everything would be different. Maybe better, maybe worse, maybe both. But different for certain, and that was what kept Sara-Kate awake and frightened on this beautiful night.

Michael was aware that his sister was troubled, but there wasn’t anything he could do. Except tell her everything would work out, but she didn’t believe that. So he curled up tighter in his sleeping bag and saw his mother’s face ripple in reflection on the water in his dreams. Whatever was going to happen would bring them to the truth about themselves, and Michael couldn’t wait to know.

Diana had never gone to bed. She’d put her pajamas on over her swimsuit and waited until the councilors had gone by on their rounds. Then she got up, very quietly, and went down to the rocks in the ocean. On the farthest one out, she bent down and flattened her hands above the surface, so the waves just licked her palms. For her, the water wasn’t cold. The ocean told her that something was coming. Soon, everything would change forever. Diana was afraid, but the night was too big and the ocean too kind for her to listen to her fears. She sat back on her rock and waited.

Three children, the sea, and the night wind waited quietly for morning, and for whatever a new twist of fate’s kalidascope would bring.