Carpathia III: Epilogue 6 - Going Home

Research Base, New Berengaria

The hours ticked away at the base while everyone was examined and paperwork was rushed in to begin processing refugee claims. In the meantime, everyone did what they could to entertain themselves. One of the few moments of interest occurred when Reuli pulled out his guitar and started to strum a happy little tune, which attracted the attention of Shuichi.

Shuichi: Hey, you're pretty good.

While Shuichi and Reuli talked, Quilyon slid up next to Kaoru and whispered to him.

Quilyon: You've been watching that silver-haired guy a lot. Who is he?

Kaoru hesitated and then shuddered, as though he were just broken from a trance.

Kaoru: Oh! Um... That's Shuichi. He's a singer and guitarist and he also runs children's aid organization, which takes care of orphans and that sort of thing.

Quilyon nodded while tension seemed to leave her body at the same time.

Quilyon: So he's a good guy, then?

Kaoru: No need to be worried about him being with Reuli, if that's what you mean. He has a good reputation.

Meanwhile, while Quilyon and Kaoru observed the interaction, Shuichi put his hand to his chin and studied Reuli's guitar carefully.

Shuichi: Say, can I see that guitar?

Reuli paused and looked down at his guitar. Hesitantly, he handed it over.

Shuichi: I don't believe it. This was one of mine. I remember that it went missing around the same time as...

Shuichi's eyes widened as he handed the guitar back to Reuli.

Shuichi: You go ahead and keep that. I have to see Lynx.

Puzzled, Reuli took the guitar as Shuichi darted to Lynx and began having a hushed conversation. Kaoru and Quilyon looked at each other and then rushed over to Reuli.

Kaoru: Reuli, what happened?

Reuli: I don't know. He asked to see my guitar and then it seemed like he remembered something. Then he ran off.

Kaoru glanced at Shuichi and Lynx and their hushed conversation and wondered if he would ever know what they were talking about. Finally, he simply shrugged.

Kaoru: Must be some big secret. I suppose we'll never know what it is.

Little else of interest occurred for the next few hours. At last, when the final person had been examined and had a shower, it was time to go. Lynx lead the growing group to a series of four limousines parked by the base while the cars of Jaze's and Artemis's family were being loaded on flatbeds to be returned to their respective homes. Not sure what to do, everyone milled around near the cars, waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

Jaze: Adell, if you don't mind my asking, did anyone reach your parents yet?

Adell: Turns out that my mom and stepmom are out camping together. I'm told there are a bunch of park rangers out looking for them now. My dad lives on Andrast and he's already booking the next starliner here.

Adell paused for a moment and then grinned.

Adell: Wouldn't it be funny if my mom and stepmom managed to get all the way home without hearing anything and find me there?

Jaze couldn't help but smile at the ridiculousness of the idea.

Jaze: Heh. Better have an ambulance nearby just in case.

A shadow appeared over Jaze and Adell. Unsurprisingly, it belonged to Lynx, who was now standing behind them.

Lord Lynx: Jaze, you'll be in this car. Adell in the one behind.

It didn't take long to discover that everyone was being carefully divided into particular cars and they each wondered if there was a reason for that. Eventually, after much shuffling around, everyone was where they were assigned and they were on their way.

Car 1
Jaze, Toma, Tuomas, Elektra, Tier, Kradik, and Shuichi

Seated between Toma and Tuomas, Jaze took note immediately of the buttery-smooth ride of the limo and the squishy, soft seats that arced all the way around the rear. He hoped that he could have a nice conversation with his parents, Toma, and Tuomas, who he wanted to get to know, but he quickly noticed an unnerving silence, particularly from his mother, for whom silence had never been a virtue. Shuichi and Jaze's parents all had a somber, serious expression, portending bad news.

Shuichi: Jaze, I'd like to talk to you about Aten.

Jaze now snapped to full attention, hoping there was nothing wrong.

Shuichi: I realized who he is when I saw Reuli's guitar, the guitar that used to be mine.

Before Shuichi continued, Jaze interjected, hoping to head off any bad news that he thought might be coming.

Jaze: So you know him! That's good, right? You know who his family is!

Jaze's misplaced optimism was short lived as Shuichi sighed heavily.

Shuichi: The reason why I know him is because he doesn't have a family. His parents died in an accident and he had no relatives. That's why I know him. He was living in my orphanage.

Emotionally spent, Jaze could only exhale heavily and rub his forehead and he knew there was more to come once details of their little adventure on Yseri became more widely known. Fortunately, his mother chimed in with a ray of good news.

Elektra: Shuichi already told us about this and your father and I discussed it. We have decided to take in Aten.

Though Jaze was happy to hear this, his numbness made it difficult to smile naturally and he did his best to force one upon his face.

Jaze: Thanks, Mom. Aten is a good kid. You'll like him. I wonder why he didn't tell us this.

Shuichi: Aten had only been at the orphanage for a couple of months. I guess he pushed it all out of his mind. I've seen that sort of thing happen before. We haven't told him about this yet. When things quiet down, we'll have to do that.

When and how to tell Aten was not something Jaze felt he could consider. Thoughts and talk of the future were too difficult and overwhelming. Instead, he preferred to focus on what was going on now

Jaze: Aten likes gardening. Mom, if you still have the flowers, he'd probably like helping you with those.

Elektra: I do still have them and I will ask him. Thanks for the idea!

Car 2
Kaoru, Adell, Artemis, Roose, Keast, Lianne, and Asta

Adell hoped that he might one day meet Artemis's parents, but he never thought it would be like this. Artemis sat limply on the seat between his parents, Lianne and Asta, still barely responsive and clutching Phobos tightly. Adell had done his best earlier to explain to them that Phobos and Deimos were more than mere robots now, but Lianne was still skeptical. Adell hoped that he would understand better once Ryuu had a chance to show him what Phobos was like while they were on Yseri. In the meantime, Artemis seemed content enough to lay with his head on his mother's lap while she stroked his hair.

Their conversation, however, didn't start there. While Adell was thinking about Artemis, Kaoru studied Lianne's mechanical arm and leg intently, both of which were exquisitely decorated with brass and phoney pressure guages, giving them a steampunk look. Kaoru wondered if he might be able to have something like that.

Lianne: Kaoru, sorry for asking your wife to ride in the last car with all the kids, but I'm afraid there was no more room in this one.

Kaoru: That's okay. I'm sure Reuli's just having fun playing with the air conditioner or something. Anyway, we'll be home soon.

Lianne nodded and then moved swiftly to the matter at hand.

Lianne: True enough. Now lift up your shirt. I want to take a look at where your arm was.

Kaoru removed his shirt entirely while Lianne pulled out a small scanning device and pointed it at Kaoru's shoulder.

Lianne: Hmmm... Scarring is pretty bad, but we've got some pretty good plastic surgeons who can help with that. Some of the nerves will have to be rebuilt. Otherwise, the shoulder is completely intact. It's as though your arm was just pulled right out of the socket.

Kaoru: Yes, that's pretty much exactly what happened.

Lianne switched off his scanner and leaned back in his seat.

Lianne: That should make this easier without the bone reconstruction.

Kaoru didn't even hear the last part, and continued to study Lianne's arm and leg intently.

Kaoru: Um... I wonder if I could have an arm like yours.

Lianne's eyes widened and he held up his hand, flexing his shiny, brass fingers.

Lianne: You can have anything you like! A realistic arm is the most popular, but some people like to go retro or future. It's all up to you. I'll leave you my contact info. Once you get settled, let me know and we'll schedule a consultation. Then we can get a detailed analysis of what we need to do.

From another seat, Roose's hand sheepishly went up.

Roose: I'm not sure I understood all of that, but does this mean you can fix me too so that I can fly again?

Roose unfurled his wing and wiggled it gently, attracting Lianne's attention immediately.

Lianne: I would say that's likely. Show me where the problem is and I'll have a look.

Roose grinned excitedly and kneeled on the floor of the car, close to Lianne, so that he could thrust his wing out. Lianne opened his scanner and examined the damaged area while the others looked on.

Car 3
Zet, Ryuu, Lynx, Tora, and Kagurain

Zet wasn't sure what was going on. He didn't know Lynx or Tora, but he had the distinct impression that he was in some rarified company. Putting him at ease, at least, was Ryuu, who seemed quite nonplussed about the entire situation.

Lord Lynx: Mr. Zet, you don't know how excited I am to meet you! Tell me, how old are you?

Lynx's eager face Zet felt more like he was being propositioned than interrogated, which confused him even more, until he suddenly remembered that Kaoru also took an interest in his age when they first met.

Zet: About the same age as Kaoru, I think. Why?

Without answering Zet's question, Lynx moved on.

Lord Lynx: And there are many nekomi where you're from, young and old?

Zet thought back again to his awkward first meeting with Kaoru, feeling much the same now as he did then. He remembered that Kaoru told him a hurried story of the nekomi race being in trouble on Carpathia.

Zet: That's right.

Lynx took a deep breath and leaned back in his seat, seemingly relieved.

Lord Lynx: I don't know if you've heard, but we haven't had a full nekomi born here in fifty years. Though we eradicated the disease that caused this long ago, the damage was done and now we face the end of our people. I would like to ask you a great favor. If you would consent to give us a small blood and tissue sample, that could go a long way toward saving us from extinction. Would you do this for us? I promise you will have our eternal gratitude if you agree.

Zet's eyes widened in surprise. He didn't understand everything Lynx said or how his blood would help, but it was an easy request indeed.

Zet: Sure.

Zet reached into his pocket and pulled out a small knife. Tora twitched to attention as Zet removed the sheath and held out his paw.

Zet: How much do you need?

Zet placed the blade on his paw and pressed. Fortunately, a frantic Lynx stopped him before he could make the cut.

Lord Lynx: No, no! We have much easier ways of doing that!

Zet paused and then returned the knife to his sheath.

Zet: If you say so.

Lynx put his paw to his chest and breathed a sigh of relief.

Lord Lynx: I appreciate your enthusiastic response, but we'll just send someone around to collect what we need at a future date, okay?

With the serious business done, at least for now, the cars rolled down the highway toward the setting sun and the lights of New Berengaria.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover
Kurama chan

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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