From the Story Arc: The Fading Flame

Previous Story in the Arc: Friend In Deed by John Murdock (Saturday, July 07, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: Cries by Dr. Jacob Garvey (Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

(posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

Quos amor verus tenuit, tenebit. "Those whom true love has held, it will go on holding."

Sera remained seated on the raw stone of the rough corridor, too spent for the moment to think clearly. Jessica had given her back those energies that remained after she took on form and substance, but conservation of matter and energy held firm in this universe, and she had no connection with the Infinite here to allow her to steal some minute portion from a supernova to augment her own. The energies were exhausted and there was no calling them back.

He is a good man, came the whisper from the revenant at her side. As yours is a good man. They came through a hell of a lot, and it's amazing they came out the other side as good as they are.

"I know," she whispered aloud.

He'll do you right, now. Jessica seemed certain of that. But the crippling weight of despair that permeated everything here made that seem...unlikely. His unbelief was so strong. Could even this overcome it?

Footsteps running down the corridor, familiar ones, made her look up. The twins shot into view, their "family sense" guiding them to her unerringly.

From Jessica she sensed raw longing. The children she should have had with her John...

A thought sluggishly made its way through the fog of fatigue. there were so many of the people she knew that had counterparts here...especially the ones closest to John. But there was no counterpart for her....

Nor could there be.

The "angelic spirits," the Kindred, were unique across the multiverse. There was only one "Seraphic Flame." Any other "Sera" elsewhere was either another Seraphim, or was purely human. Humans, however, had their counterparts; their spirits were born, not created, and as they passed from life into death, tended to remain within the same shard of the multiverse in which they had been born, being re-incarnated, unless they joined the Host at the Heart of All Time.

And there could be no other Seraphim here to make the choice that she had, the sacrifice she had, not only because she and her solution seemed to be unique in that way, but because no Seraphim could come here. Save by Portal, there was no way for a human to enter. And the moment a purely angelic spirit battered its way inside, it would be beset and flung out again.

There could be no duplicate Sera here. So...perhaps she was here now, because she had to be?

"MA!" Aedan ran to her and pulled her up to her feet by the elbows. ""Ma! Are you all right? Did he hurt ya?"

Rather than answer with words, she sent him a pulse of exhausted reassurance.

"Ma, we gotta get outa here. Serious. This place is..." Aedan shook his head. "Not enough ways to say how wrong it is. "Forget these guys. We gave it a shot, but we need to make a break for it on our own. This place is death. But K'takei and I might have figured something out. I've been getting a sense of how things work here, and have been picking up on some weird gravitational stuff. We're both pretty sure it's a Portal. If we can get there, and just get a little time, K'takei says that he can probably walk me through the heavy-stuff. It's risky, but it's our best shot of getting home."

Astra stood up, helping her mother to her feet. "Mom, we have to get home. We can't help these people. And that...Sarge...he doesn't want our help--"

A young and disheveled soldier walked into the hallway just then. He took in the scene, losing his words for a moment. "Uh, sorry. Sarge needs to see all of you, immediately. If you'll follow me please, ladies and gentleman?"

Astra clearly wanted to protest. Aedan looked as if he might deck the young man and run. Sera cautioned them both. < Something just...happened here. Let us at least see what he wants. We have to contrive some way to escape with JJ if we do escape anyway. >

Aedan's thoughts rang out in all of their minds. < I don't like it, Ma. But I guess we have to go along with it for now; it's not like we'll be able to sneak away with these people actively looking to talk with us. >

The three of them followed the soldier; a moment later another appeared ahead of them shepherding Ratt. All four were ushered into a small room with only a map-table in it. The Sarge was there waiting for them, but so was the General.

The General nodded at Sarge, who took that as his signal to speak.

"Thanks for gettin' here so fast, folks. We've figured out something. Somethin' to get y'all home."

For one moment Sera simply did not understand the words. It was as if they were in a foreign tongue. She had despaired so deeply of seeing home--John--

Even then, hope did not explode within her. First, there was just a tiny spark of something she had thought extinguished. Then the spark grew into a flame. Not a large flame but...a steady one. But it was light in her darkness, and she began to feel...better. Stronger. More like herself again.

In Astra, however, the hope and joy did explode; she was like a fireworks display in all their minds. "How? Where?" she demanded breathlessly.

Ratt looked startled, but excited.

"What's the catch in this? Why the sudden trust?" Aedan folded his arms across his chest, still not convinced.

The Sarge leaned forward, resting his hands on the map-table. "I've been talkin' with the General, here. We've decided that, militarily, it'd be in our best interest to open up a logistics train from outside of this world. Till now, we haven't had a concrete destination to go to for help; we only have one shot at gettin' some folks into the facilities that the government houses the Portals at. If we blow it on a chancy jump to an unknown parallel world, then we'll have effectively committed suicide for nothing. As it is, your mother," he looked to Sera,"...helped to convince me that you people might have a shot. So, this is the 'catch'. We arrange for y'all to get to the Portal, and we keep you safe long enough so you can make a hop back to your world. Your job is to get people on your world to help us out, here. Evacuation, food, weapons, medical supplies; this is stuff that we need and can't adequately provide for ourselves for much longer. You guys can, if you're the real deal." He stood up, spreading his hands wide. "That's the deal. I know from our earlier interviews that the twin boy, Aedan, along with his symbiote have some aptitude with Portal tech. D'you think you can get your family home if we can get you to the Portal, kid?"

"I can do my best, which will have to do. I'm the only one anywhere near qualified out of everyone."

"That's right. So, what will it be? We're riskin' our people on this one, so you need to be sure, and damned sure, if we're gonna try for it. And there isn't much time to decide; we've got more incoming. They're startin' to track us, or you folks, somehow. We need to get rolling. Decide."

The glories of the Family Channel. No one needed to discuss anything. "We will go," Sera said. She was sure that there was more here for her to do...but.

< Mother.....yes. We must...go. >

The three of them on the Family Channel all froze. It was Sera who reacted first, with unfettered joy. < JJ! >

The reply came tinged with his father's sense of humor. < I was...just taking...a little nap. >

The Sarge looked at their transfigured faces in puzzlement for just a moment, then shrugged. "Get the gear y'all can carry, and nothin' more," he told them, "We're movin' out in thirty."