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This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2010-01-04 — sourcemeta

Source: Livejournal, DeviantART
Author:Judith “Stormdance” Kenyon
Copyright:Archiving permitted by author

26. The Synchronium

Lena was sitting in the little alcove off the rec room, waiting for Neri to round everyone else up for an emergency meeting. This morning’s earthquake had been small, but both Cass and Benny were still neatening up their cabins.

The screen across the room came on; HELEN had decided everybody needed to see the news. The anchorwoman gave the update with no emotion whatsoever.

“Reports continue to flood in from around the globe of unprecedented earthquake and tidal wave activity. The rapidly worsening situation has prompted glowing alarm, and several religious sects have announced doomsday. We here at the station cannot comment.”

Lena sighed and backed up so she couldn’t hear the television. Mera was waiting in the back, sitting against the wall. Lena slid down beside her.

“It is frightening.” Mera said.

Lena made a face. “Just now I was thinking that even if we do survive I’ve got no place to go.”

Mera looked at her. “Your father truly does not want you?”

“Really. Trust me. I keep hoping he’ll somehow… turn into the nice person I thought he was. But the truth is that my father is not a nice man.”

“Perhaps he could become one.” Mera said. She was clearly trying to sound hopeful, but not quite making it.

Lena smiled sadly. After a few minutes, all in a rush she said, “When you and Kal return to the ocean planet could I–” And she stopped, sure she’d said something awful.

Before Mera could answer, the door opened and the rest of the gang piled in, everybody except Jason.

At UBRI, Hellegren was assembling the synchronium like a great round jigsaw puzzle. It was harder than it looked. The pieces seemed to want to go together in a certain order. In the right order, the pieces joined and the seam between them disappeared, but if he tried adding the wrong piece they seemed to repel each other.

Kal watched silently from a corner of the room.

“We are making progress. I am beginning to see how the whole thing connects together. Bring up the next piece from the strongroom.”

“Yes doctor.” Kellar said.

Kal stepped in front of her. “No. No more. First you keep your word. You make me ruler of island, then you make rest of synchronium.”

“You will just have to wait.” Hellegren motioned his assistant to step around Kal, which she did.

“I wait long enough. You do what you swear, now!”

Hellegren turned on the boy. “Enough! You are in no position to make demands! You get nothing unless I say! Now, you keep quiet and do as you are told!” He waved to the guards at the door. “Take him out of here, keep him out.”

Two white-clad guards grabbed Kal around the shoulders and dragged him out. Kal struggled and wailed, “You cannot do this!”

“I can do anything!” Hellegren roared after him. “The synchronium is mine now! And realize that while you need me, I no longer need you!”

“We could always try another raid.” Cass said.

“No way. They would’ve doubled their security by now.”

“Benny’s right.” Lena said immediately, “My father won’t be taking any chances.”

“But once they’ve assembled the synchronium surely they will wish to test its powers in the ocean.” Mera said.

“So we wait ‘til it’s on the boat.”

“No. They must not take it to the sea.”

Brett spoke up from beside Neri, “Yeah, we can’t let them get it that far! If it touches the water everything gets zapped, pow, it’s over!”

There was a short pause as everybody thought about that.

Then Lena said, “To get it on the boat they’ll have to use the pier at UBRI headquarters. Why don’t we try to surprise them there?”

“Good idea. And get it back to you two before it touches the water. Only problem is, how do we get there? With the evacuation going on we can’t take a shuttle to the mainland. We’ll need a boat.”

“And the evacuation is using all of them, too.” Cass said.

“Of course, as a cadet, Jason might be able to get one.”

“Then where is Jason? I could not find him.”

Brett sighed. “He’s out diving near ORCA city. He volunteered to fix a sensor. He thought it’d be done before you came.”

Neri pushed herself up. “I go find. We need him here now.”

“Whoa, Neri! Sallyanne’s out there with him, she’ll see you!”

“Cannot care. No time.” Neri vanished out the rec room door.

Brett sat down again. “Well that’ll be interesting.”

Jason plugged the sensor in, for the fifth time. “Is it reading?”

“No… wait… yes! There it is, it’s on.”

“Finally!” Jason stood up and stretched from where he’d been crouching over the guts of the sensor trying to get one little bit back into place. He reached over to anchor it back to the buoy, glancing back at Sallyanne to make sure the thing was still working.

“Looks good.”

“Great, let’s go in.”

“Look at that!” Sallyanne pointed. In the distance a whale breached and fell back with a great crash of water. Sallyanne smiled. “He’s beautiful. Or she. Can you tell which?”

Jason smiled, leaning on the rail next to her. “You can’t tell from a distance, but that one’s a he. That’s Charley.”

“Oh, the one your imaginary girlfriend swims with. Way to spoil the day Jase.” Sallyanne turned to start the engine.

“Wait, he’s coming closer.”

Charley poked his head up, very close to the boat. Sallyanne gasped. “Wow!”

Jason just waved.

Sallyanne rolled her eyes. “Oh come on, the whale does not recognize you!”

Then Neri surfaced beside the boat. “Jason! Come now, we need you!”

“Neri!” Jason gasped out.

Sallyanne made a little squeaking noise.

“Um, this… is Neri.”

Hellegren was holding up the next piece of the synchronium, turning it to see how it would fit, when a guard burst into the room. “It’s the boy, doctor! He’s taken part of the device!”

Hellegren dropped the part he was holding. “Alert the front gate! Sound the alarms, get everyone after him!”

Kal almost made it to the front gate. By the time Hellegren got there, the boy was pinned under five guys; that was how many it had taken to wrestle him to the ground.

“Sir, the device is safe! We caught him…”


Kal shouted, “You not keep your word, Kal not keep his! I find synchronium, now I take it back!” He squirmed and tried to get up, but the weight of bodies kept him flat until the security chief hauled him to his feet.

“You fool! You think I would let you walk out of here with this? Put it back in the strongroom, and this time secure it properly.”

“No, it’s mine!” Kal cried.

“As for you, my patience is finally spent. Put him back in the cell where he will cause no more trouble.”

“Sir.” Said the security chief. He jerked Kal’s arm up and back, making the boy wince, and marched him back toward the building. The pavement under their feet began to shake.

The alarms went off and kids started screaming as the room shook. Lena yelled, “Get down, get against the wall!”

“Look out!” Someone else yelled.

Brett grabbed Mera as the room jerked and rocked them hard against the wall. Suddenly the light came loose from the ceiling, shattering and plunging the room into darkness. The children had managed to get curled up, protecting their heads as the shaking went on and they were peppered with bits of broken glass.

It seemed a very long time before the floor stilled and emergency lighting came on. Brett yelled, “Nobody get up! Aftershocks!” As one hit.

A few little shakes later Brett risked getting up. He weaved through the toppled furniture and still-cowering kids to the screen by the door. “HELEN? Damage report.”

Two hull breaches and two storerooms flooded. But no injuries reported. Brett announced that, and the kids started to get up and put the room back together.

They were still working when the commander came on the communicator screen. Behind him the bridge was in visible disarray. “Attention all personnel. This afternoon’s quake was measured at over nine on the Richter scale. This makes it much higher than any previous reading. And we believe worse may be to come. We therefore have decided to order compulsory evacuation from ORCA of all residents under eighteen years of age, starting with the youngest. This will begin immediately, with evacuation of adult personnel to follow in the next few days.”

“Well, they’re kicking us out.” Cass said.

“Can you blame them? I kind of don’t want to go through that ever again as long as I live.” Benny said sensibly.

Brett shook his head, and pulled them away from the other kids in the rec room. “What are we gonna do? We can’t get evacuated.”

“It’s no biggie, when they load us onto the shuttle we’ll just sneak away and go get the synchronium. Then our folks don’t worry about where we are.”

“You’re a natural optimist, Cass.”

They were still straightening when Jason, Neri and Sallyanne arrived. Sallyanne was silent, probably in shock. She smiled when she was introduced to Mera, though.

“Sallyanne’s with us now.”

Lena laid out their plan. “We want to be staking out the UBRI pier as soon as possible. I figure we’ll sneak away on the way to the shuttle and go straight there when they ship us out first thing in the morning. If you can, uh, steal a zodiac.”

Jason thought about that. “Yeah. Yeah I think I can, but we’re gonna have to go quickly and hope Dave’s too busy with the evacuation to notice.”

“I must come too.” Neri said.

“No way. We can’t risk Hellegren getting his hands on both you and the synchronium. We’ll bring it to you on the island and you can operate it.”

“He is right, sister.” Mera said quietly. “You must not be caught. It is your job to work the synchronium.”

Neri nodded. “Then we wait for you. Tomorrow, on the island.”

Nobody slept much that night. Brett and Jason grabbed their adventure gear and stuffed some clothes on top so it would look like they’d packed. Dianne tried to arrange somewhere for them to stay and ended up muttering curses when she couldn’t get ahold of their father.

“Hey, it’s ok.” Jason said. “ORCA’s set up something, we’ll be fine.”

“I’d rather have you with someone. If I knew where he was…”

“Calm down, Mum!”

Instead, Dianne turned to her guest. “Lena, I’ve sent the details of the assigned accommodation to your father. I know how you feel about it, but I’m legally obligated. I couldn’t get in touch with him directly though.

In the girls’ room, Lena was folding all her clothes into the suitcase she’d brought to ORCA. It had her address on a tag in case she didn’t get back. She didn’t think she’d be coming back to ORCA, not right away. Either the world would end, or she’d go back to her father, or… somewhere else.

The next morning, way too early, a scene of chaos unfolded around the turbolift as kids said goodbye to their parents and piled into the lift. People were hugging and crying. Morgan tried without much success to keep order.

HELEN announced, “Attention all personnel. This is the final call. All passengers aged seventeen years or below should now be at their evacuation posts. If you have not yet done so, report to your crew captains according top colors and numbers for movement orders. This is the final call…”

“Now look after each other ok.” Dianne said to her sons. She was looking tired and frazzled.

“Sure Mum.” Jason said.

“I’ll try to keep him out of trouble.”

“The minute you’re settled in, I want you to contact me. I want to be sure you’re safe.”

“Well, don’t get too worried if you don’t hear from us for a few days ok? I bet communications are gonna be crazy over there. We’ll catch up with Lena, it’ll be like a party over there.”

Dianne raised an eyebrow. “Why is it, just when I’ve convinced myself it’s my imagination, I get this strange old feeling you’re up to something?”

“Look Mum, if we knew how to fix what was happening to the ocean, you’d want us to try.”

“Well, yes. But…”

“Trust us.” Brett said.

“I always trust you. You know that.” Dianne hugged her boys.

HELEN’s voice announced, “Evacuation groups designated red fourteen and fifteen, your craft has arrived.”

“Well, that’s us.”

“Better get out of here.” Dianne stepped back, turned away- then turned back to say, “And remember to put on clean socks occasionally!” And she went back to work, trying not to cry.

Benny hugged his father and picked up his gear. “Bye Dad. Stay safe.”

“You too, son.”

Cass hugged Morgan, punched her in the shoulder, and headed for the lift.

The four of them, met up out of range of family. Jason said, “All here? Good. Remember, slip away in ones and twos. We don’t want to attract attention. The zodiac’s moored under the north side of the pontoon. Lena and Sallyanne should already be there.”

They were, waiting impatiently. When everybody got there Sallyanne said, “Is this the kind of thing you guys do a lot?”

Brett grinned. “Stealing a boat? Sneaking away with nobody knowing where we’re going? Sallyanne, this is nothing!”

Sallyanne looked at Jason, who nodded.

“Oh I’m not backing out!” Sallyanne said quickly, “It’s just… I wasn’t expecting… I wanted to be a marine biologist…” Her voice got steadily quieter, because she wasn’t sure what she was trying to say. “Never mind.”

They heard the shuttle pull away, and everybody who’s been on the pontoon went back inside. Jason said, “Everybody ready?” And started the engine.

The synchronium had become a seamless bluegreen sphere, shot through with disturbing dark red sparkles. They’d found a way to mount it to a crane arm, to move it into and out of the water with precision. Hellegren had tried it on a pool of water in the lab, but the moment the synchronium touched the water the whole pool was instantly converted into a thick cold mist that fogged up the room and beaded on every surface.

“Too powerful.” Hellegren mused. “There is nothing to do but try it in the ocean, as it was intended. Kellar! Have it taken to the boat as soon as possible. And triple the guard, the whole way. I have no doubt the children from ORCA will try something.”

“Indeed, doctor.”

In his cell Kal sat wrapped in a blanket. He didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t his body that felt cold.

The door opened and a guard came in with a plate of food. Just bread and water, not the tasty food he’d gotten before. Kellar came in also. “I thought you might like to know we’ll be loading the device onto the boat in just under an hour’s time.”

“Thief.” Kal said softly. “You break your word.”

“You think we ever meant to do otherwise? Now we have the synchronium, and you.”

The children made it to the pier outside UBRI and hid the zodiac. They waited, hunkered down until Kellar and a dozen white-suited employees brought the synchronium down to the big UBRI boat. Hellegren appeared and yelled some orders. They were having some kind of trouble loading it.

Jason said, “This looks like our best chance. If the rest of you distract that guy, I can grab it. Or whoever gets to it first.”

“This is crazy.” Benny whispered.

Cass said, “Only one of us has to make it, Benny.”

“Yeah, and how are they gonna keep tabs on all of us? Tie us up?”

Ten minutes later they were all tied up.

The moment the children had come out of hiding, a whole crowd of UBRI guys had come out from behind every bush and crate. They’d grabbed the kids without much effort and, at Kellar’s suggestion, tied them up around a pole. Squirming and yelling had not helped.

“You are more stupid than I thought.” Kellar said as she checked the knots.

Lena was the only one not secured, but her father was holding her wrist hard. “I will not have you as my enemy, Lena. Come.” He dragged her along, turning back to say to Kellar, “Make sure they are secure. Load the synchronium. We have wasted enough time already.”

Watching while he tried to work his hands free, Jason thought Lena was their only hope. She looked furious. Hellegren wasn’t even looking at her and she looked angrier than Jason had ever seen her. Suddenly she yanked free and made a dash for the synchronium.

Kellar managed to grab Lena and knock her down. She motioned to one of the guards. “Tie her hands. Doctor, if you insist on bringing her along let us at least make sure she is no more trouble.”

Lena turned to her father.

Hellegren didn’t say anything.

Neri and Mera sat at the edge of the water, waiting. It was all they could do. The sun rose higher.

Suddenly Charley called to them. The boat goes! They have the Thing!

Neri surged to her feet. Our friends? Are they safe?

An uncertain whistle. Charley couldn’t see anyone he knew on the boat, but it was hard to tell.

“Something has gone wrong. We must stop them.”

“Yes. Now is for us to do alone. Come.”

Kal stood on the table in his cell, and pushed one of the ceiling panels aside. He grabbed the edges and pulled himself up and looked around. He’d been hoping to be able to get away through the wall, like Brett and Cass talked about doing in ORCA, but the walls went straight up, and the next layer of ceiling was solid.

While Kal was thinking what to do next, one of his guards realized the cell was empty and came in. His first thought was that Kal was hiding behind the bench, and when he bent down to check Kal jumped down from the ceiling and out the door.

An hour had passed. The children had tried everything they could think of to get loose from their bonds, but with no luck. Brett was still chewing on the rope on his wrists. Benny had already said everything, until Cass offered him five dollars to be quiet. Sallyanne hadn’t complained at all. She was getting awfully closed to crying though.

“Hey, look.” Cass said suddenly.

The others looked up, Jason and Benny craning around the pole to see. Kal was walking down the driveway from the building.

“What’s he doing here?” Jason asked generally.

“The synchronium?” Kal said.

“They took it.”

“Yeah, thanks to you.” Cass added. “Hey, give us a hand here?”

Kal crouched to help her get her hands free, then helped Jason. “Where Lena?”

“Hellegren took her, and the synchronium.”

“He lies to me. He cheats me to have it for himself.”

“Yeah.” Jason shook some circulation back into his hands and turned to untie Sallyanne. “Just like you lied to Neri.”

Kal stepped back. He stood very still for a minute. “Kal feels… shame.” Then Kal turned and ran down the dock, diving into the water at the end.

“Hey, where you going?” Cass called after him.

Kal was gone.

“Question is, where are we going?” Sallyanne asked.

“Back to the zodiac. The island. There’s no way we’ll find the UBRI boat.”

“And quick.” Brett agreed.

As they pulled the zodiac into the water Cass said, “You know, when everything goes south what do you wanna bet that island’s the safest place to be? It’d be, I dunno, fitting.”

The boat dropped sea anchor, far out of the way of the shipping lanes.

Lena had been crying. Not because Kellar had tied her hands brutally tightly, but because he father hadn’t said anything. He really did care more about the synchronium than about her.

“Now is the time. Is everything ready?”

“It is, doctor.” Kellar said.

“The whale recordings?”

“All set.”

“Start the whale song. Lena. Come.”

Lena stood up and walked unsteadily across the deck to where her father stood beside the synchronium. Kellar turned on the sound system and mourneful whalesong filled the air.

“All I have to do is lay my hands on this device and you will see the might of the oceans mastered at my command.”


“Neri!” Lena gasped, stumbling to the rail. Both girls were there, looking up from the water.

Hellegren stepped up to the rail, looking down at them. “So we meet again, my girl from the ocean. And you too, Jane.”

“My name is Mera.”

“We come for what is ours.” Neri shouted, her voice ringing clearly in the air. “The synchronium is of my people. Only I can use it.”

“And I am about to prove you wrong!”

“No!” Neri cried, “If it goes to the water from your hands all the oceans of the world, and everything in the ocean will die. All will be destroyed!”

“Hysterical threats.” Hellegren pronounced.

“Father, please! She’s telling the truth!”

“Still no faith in me Lena? Then let me show you.” Hellegren smiled at his daughter, then turned and put his hands against the synchronium, leaning close to its bluegreen surface.

The boat jolted, and the sky went black.

Lena screamed. She couldn’t help it; the sudden change from day to darkness and the sky solid with black clouds. The boat rocked again, the waves getting bigger, and the wind began to rise. Lena hung on to the rail with her bound hands.

The synchronium had gone red as blood. Hellegren stepped back from it, gasping and looking around. “Dear heavens!”

Red lightning crackled around them, along the underside of the clouds. Everything had gone red. Looking down Lena saw the ocean bubbling like boiling water. Wind plastered her hair against her face.

Kellar operated the crane, swinging the synchronium over the side.

Neri shouted, “Doctor Hellegren, take me!”

“Yes, take us!”

“You search for us. You try to catch us. Keep synchronium out of the water and we will be yours to study forever!”

“An interesting offer, but no!” Hellegren shouted back over the noise of the wind.

“You wish to be the man who kills your whole planet?”

“No, to harness it!”

“Please, you can’t!” Neri cried as the synchronium descended towards the waves.

Lena stood up. “Stop, father! You’ll kill Neri and Mera! They are my friends!”

Kellar was grinning, all teeth, exhilarated by the madness around them. “So what? We have the boy Kal!”

Lena made a decision.

“Lena, no!” Neri shouted.

Lena braced her hands on the rail and jumped over. She hit the water and sank like a stone, all the air knocked out of her. She had time to register that the water hurt her skin, that she couldn’t breathe—and then she was at the surface, gasping and sobbing for air as Neri freed her hands.

“That was stupid.” Mera said, then, “Hang on to me.”

There was shouting on the boat. Lena heard her father’s voice, but was occupied wiping water from her eyes. She finally got a full breath and screamed, “And me, father? Will you kill me too?”


They were almost wrestling at the controls of the crane. Kellar shouted, “Are you insane?”

“We have to get her out!”

The synchronium hung over the water, crackling with some bizarre energy. If it touched the water, they would die.

“Why? She betrayed you!”

“Father, please!” Lena screamed.

Too late. Any second now it would touch—

Kal was there, bursting out of the water. He grabbed the synchronium and jerked as all the energy grounded itself in his body. The red light went out. All the light went out. The synchronium fell free and sank.

“Kal?” Lena cried. She was suddenly alone in the water. The girls had dived after the synchronium, and to rescue Kal. Lena wanted to help but she could hardly manage to stay above the surface. A wave broke over her head.

“Lena!” Her father was halfway down the ladder. He threw out a life preserver. “Grab it! Lena!” Holding out his arms.

The kids were hunkered down on the beach, staying down as if they could avoid the crazy red lightning. There was nothing they could do but hang onto each other.

“Look!” Jason yelled. Someone was walking out of the water, indistinct in the darkness. Everybody ran to help.


“What happened?” Jason asked. He reached for Kal, grabbing the boy under his arm while Brett supported Kal on the other side. Kal was staggering, but his eyes were closed.

“He is hurt. Give water, keep warm.” Neri said. “We must use synchronium.”

“Yeah. Yeah. Come on Kal, let’s get to the trees.”

“Man, he’s really out. Cass, help us here…”

Neri and Mera took the synchronium to the ocean.

The boat was tossing back and forth in the waves. Lena was holding onto the steering console. Her father crouched over her, shielding her with his body. They were both soaked to the skin.

Kellar still hung over the rail. “The synchronium!”

“It is gone! Get under cover! It is too late!” Hellegren shouted to her.

“You give up?”

“Kellar! The lightning—!”

A massive red bolt hit the crane, sending Kellar tumbling across the deck. She landed lying very still.

Hellegren slid across the deck to grab Kellar’s arm and pull her under shelter.

Lena was so cold. She wondered if she was dying, maybe the synchronium had wrecked the world. But maybe her father did love her. So…

The sea began to calm. The sky cleared, and the light came back.

The girls left the synchronium in the shallows. It was glowing like a beacon under the sun. The other children slowly got up, wondering if it was over. They met Neri and Mera at the water’s edge.

“The ocean heals. All will be well.” Neri said, and threw herself at Jason. They hugged and kissed, and nobody noticed because they were all hugging and cheering too, and running around splashing each other. The water was sweet again, smelling clean and salty.

“And the reef?” Benny asked, “The fault line? Everything?”

“Everything! Trust me!” Mera laughed and hugged him too.

Kal was sitting leaning against a log, watching them. He smiled a little. After a minute the others remembered him and they all came up the beach.

“Hey, Kal.” Cass said, “Are you ok? What happened?”

Neri said, “Synchronium was bad. Kal grab it, it did bad to Kal.”

“Head hurt.” Kal said, “Hands hurt. Want to sleep.”

They helped Kal to his bed, and Neri and Mera got busy making up some medicine while the kids got food.

Brett had been trying his communicator every few minutes, and he finally got through. “Mum!”

“Where are you?” Dianne asked from the other end, “Everything got crazy but it seems to have calmed down. Lena called, she said she’s all right. Boys, what is going on?”

“Um.” Said Brett.

Jason grabbed the communicator. “Tell you all about it when we got home Mum! Half an hour!” And he cut the call.

Kal opened his eyes. “Tell Lena.” He said.

Brett crouched down to hear, “Yeah, Kal?”

“Tell I be happy to see her again someday. She is friend.”

“Sure Kal, I’ll tell her. I don’t know when we’ll see Lena again though.”

Neri returned with a cocoanut shell full of some nice-smelling goo to put on Kal’s burned hands. “Lena is with her father. It is well. Believe in her.”

“Yeah I guess.” Jason said. Lena was pretty amazing, but it might take super powers to make her dad anything but a class A creep. “Um, we really should go back before our parents start freaking out. Are you ok?”

“Yes. Kal sleeps. We will sleep too.”

Jason smiled. Kal had indeed dozed off again. Then he had a terrible thought. “Oh no, the zodiac, there’s no way it’s still here.”

Neri looked away for a moment, then, “Charley says it is on sandbar. I show you.”

“You mean to say you’ve known about this… synchronium for months and never said a word?” Dianne said after the boys had tried to explain.

“Well, things got sort of complicated.”

“Evidently.” Winston said.

Jason added, “Well, Neri said you had enough to do trying to keep the tribunal from letting UBRI blow up the seabed. It was sort of a full time job. And anyway, the ship’s leaving tomorrow night so Mera said can you guys come to the island for dinner before then?”

“Of course.” Dianne said, then glanced at the mountain of paperwork the last set of quakes had left. “We can think of something to tell the seismological society, I suppose.”

HELEN said, “Incoming call for Brett or Jason Bates.”

The boys crowded around the nearest screen and HELEN let the call through.

“Lena! Hi, where are you?”

“At home.” Lena said. She looked tired. “Did it work? The synchronium? Is Kal ok?”

“Yep, everything’s back to normal. Kal’s hurt but he’ll be fine.” Brett said.

“Thanks for calling. Neri said you were ok but…”

Lena smiled. “Thanks for worrying. I’m fine. Um, Miss Kellar got hit by lightning on the boat. She’s in the hospital, Father’s paying them to take care of her until she wakes up.”

Brett muttered, “Couldn’t have happened to a nicer lady.”

“So what are you going to do, Lena?” Dianne asked, giving Brett a shove away from the camera.

“I’m… I’m staying with my father. For now. I think it’ll be all right.” She took a breath and called to someone off screen, “No more boarding school!”

Dianne smiled. “Good. I think he deserves another chance. But you know where to find us if you need us.”

“Yeah, Dave said you’d be welcome in the cadet program.” Jason added.

Lena’s eyes went wide. “As in helicopters and getting yelled at by Cass’ scary sister? Uh, no. Look, I… I guess Mera and Kal are leaving?”

“Tomorrow.” Brett said, coming back into camera range.

“Well tell them goodbye for me. I really wish I could come back and say it in person but… I can’t right now.”

“We’ll explain it.” Jason told her. “And Kal said he’d like to see you again sometime.”

Lena blushed. Everyone pretended not to notice.

They had dinner on the island, before the spaceship left.

Now that the danger was over Mera had transformed amazingly, back into the cheerful girl they’d known for only a little while. She sat between Dianne and Winston and chattered away about what life was like on the ocean planet.

The spaceship landed, in broad daylight to the delight of the kids watching. Rulmyr and Onoelle practically ran down the ramp to hug Mera. “You did it, my child!”

“We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help. Cass, Benny, Sallyanne. And Kal, he saved us.”

Kal smiled faintly. He wasn’t feeling well enough to join the party, but sat quietly in the back, surrounded by food Neri had brought him, watching everybody.

Then Kal’s grandfather came out of the ship. A smiling old man with brown skin and frosty white hair, he looked around interestedly before going to sit with his grandson. They spoke quietly and Kal’s voice became more enthusiastic.

After sitting and eating for a little while, it was time for the visitors to go. Rulmyr helped Kal walk into the ship. He said, “Kal, you will sleep during the journey. When you wake your body will be strong again.”

Clearly, Kal thought this was great news. But he paused on the ship’s ramp to say goodbye to his friends from Earth. “It has been good on your world. Thank you for being my friends.”

“You helped save our world, Kal.” Jason said.

“Yeah, if you hadn’t grabbed the synchronium…”

Kal smiled. “Good. Is good world, I am happy I help. And sorry for… sorry.”

“Hey, it’s ok. You fixed everything in the end!” Cass said, and gave Kal a friendly pat on the arm.

Benny shook Kal’s hand. “Maybe we’ll hang out again sometime, if you come visit.”

“Yes, maybe.” Kal said happily. There were a few more goodbyes, and Kal spoke quietly to Neri for a minute. Nobody else heard what he said, but then Neri hugged him and kissed his head. “Be happy, Kal.” Neri said.

Kal took his grandfather’s hand and turned to go into the ship. The last thing the others heard him say was, “Good, want to sleep now and have head not hurt!”

“I’m gonna miss him.” Cass said, sounding a little bit surprised.

“I guess you’re going too, huh, Mera?” Brett said sadly.

“I must. It is where I belong.” Mera hugged him.

“Yeah well, next time I’m coming with you.”

Mera smiled at him but didn’t answer, just turned to hug Jason and Winston and Dianne.

“Travel well my darling.” Dianne murmured to her. “I wish you could stay.”

“I will return, Mother.”

Neri and Mera moved off a few steps and held each other for a minute, being together as family, connected. Then Mera stepped back and said, “Until we see again.”

“Goodbye, my sister.”

The ship took off in a cloud of clean-smelling steam. Benny and Cass watched in awe. Sallyanne kept shaking her head like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Winston had his arm around Dianne, who was looking a little teary. Brett looked sad too, but he waved as the ship faded up into the sky. Jason looked at Neri. She was smiling broadly, and moved to stand close to Jason. “We have this world still. Beautiful world. Many more days to see it.”