"SQUAD R: Journey into the Unknown!"

Episode 26: I miss you, my love

Once all the welcome-home festivities ended and things began to settle down, the crew of Squad R attempted to readjust themselves to living on Earth. Their home had been a spaceship for 720 days, their light mere electric bulbs, their food supply rations, their beds bland and foreign. It nearly felt like culture shock, although some people adjusted better than others.

Carlisle Renchina got back into the swing of things almost at once, setting up her own garage where customers were treated fairly and honestly. She was sometimes visited by her friends—Chelsea and Lenneth the most—and she always welcomed them warmly, usually adding wild tales of sexual conquests on the side. In truth, though, she sought a slightly calmer life, and began to search for a proper lover to "tie herself down with". There were very few men willing or able to bear the aggressiveness of this woman, but if they did, they could be considered the luckiest and most beloved men around.

Mika Johansson continued serving Ellen and Clarissa Astor, and was hired on as their full-time chef. On the side, she also frequented some of the classiest restaurants in the area, though she never allowed fame to corrupt her, nor did she forget to devote much of her time to Clarissa, who was now sixteen and starting up school again. Though Mika would not be comfortable pushing any romantic boundaries for several years, she remained utterly loyal and loving to Clarissa. One day, she made a pilgrimage to her home country, to pay respects to those she killed during her brief career as an assassin. Rumor had it that a mature young lady with long dark hair and glasses accompanied her.

Clarissa Esriel Astor assumed her original name immediately, and moved into her grandmother's small house until she was old enough to strike out on her own. Having missed two years of school, she went right back to her studies and soon excelled in nearly everything she did. Her personality underwent a change for the better, and she became sweet and polite again, and more tolerant of other people's actions and decisions. A great chunk of her free time was spent in the company of her grandmother, whom she expressed her love to daily.

Trina Mack never recovered from her disastrous luck, but she always had Raven with her as a companion, to pull her up and nurse her wounds. Since botany and demolition were the only things she was good at, Trina was hired part-time as the "secret tool" of a construction company whose job was to raze buildings and other structures. In her spare time she helped create and design lavish gardens and forests. Her patrons continually swore that, due to the miraculous end results, there must've been fairy blood in her. To this she usually just giggled.

Naturally, Raven Bronson ended up as a diplomat. She and Trina both forsook their home worlds and remained on Earth for the rest of their days. There is no proof of any further union between them, beyond the aspect of pure love, but one could say that they were spiritually and emotionally wedded, juxtaposed physically and mentally. The home they moved into was as disaster-proof as possible, but even then, sometimes, the clumsy Trina wrecked something. Raven couldn't help but fall deeper in love with the gentle giant every time.

About three months after their arrival, Shiho Tsukei and Ivy Stellway were officially married, though the ceremony was quiet and somewhat private. Tsukei found the road to teaching easy and soon distinguished herself in the field (particularly when she took a certain former crewmember under her wing), and with the help of her new wife, gradually faded out of her stiff demeanor and became a warm, loving woman. Ivy, however, had a more difficult road ahead of her. Her doctor's license was still revoked, though she worked hard to reverse it. Eventually it did return to her, though by that point, she had made a small name for herself writing children's storybooks.

Lenneth Coral moved to Australia so she could be around the Great Barrier Reef she adored so much. The mermaid became famous carving coral statues, busts, sculptures, and other forms of art, and she even moonlighted as a singer in Sydney's famed opera house. Lenneth rarely saw her friends due to the distance, but she made sure to see them every once in awhile, stopping by Carly's garage first to trade gossip and stories. Years later, rumor had it that she was dating a human, and the relationship was getting serious.

Ellen Astor and Dulcinea DuToré continued their lines of work, and teamed up many more times in the future. Peacekeeping missions still took high priority, even a quarter-century after the terrible war, and few were more qualified (or revered) for the job than those two. Ellen and Dulcinea did get married later on, but the younger member clearly stated she wanted no "grandmother" business from Claes. All in all, everyone's life after their adventures went well, and they enjoyed the fruits of their labor for many years.

All, that is, except for one.

The one who had lost her heart, and never regained it.

Lucky number thirteen.

………

Night came slow, because summer was just starting, and the wind was shaking the last remnants of chill from it, yet it was empty, as empty as the clouded sky and the endless waves rolling back and forth, back and forth, hypnotically singing to the lonely woman as she stared at the gray distance. She ignored her small home and drew her legs closer to her chest, an agony incomparable dwelling deep in her soul. Every person she had ever dared to love was lost to her, and every loss forced her deeper and deeper into depression, into loneliness and sorrow, making it all the more difficult to pull herself out. Wendy began to wonder what the whole point was—after all, why even bother living if she had to go through so much? It was too much to bear, and yet she was alone, eternally alone, so she had to carry the weight by herself.

The sand groaned quietly as the sluggish pace of feet crossed its expanse. Wendy heard someone coming but thought it was just some ghost, playing a dirty trick on her. Raven and Shiho were happily engaged with other people, and Fole was dead, having left this world nobly and foolishly, protecting a worthless clone. Nobody would ever dare approach Wendy because they wanted to, not unless they intended to hurt her. Yet this person approached her, coming nearer and nearer until they were standing over her.

Without a word, Chelsea McGowan sat down, dressed in her usual childish clothes, her hair now permitted to fly as it willed. She edged closer to Wendy, who watched her with sad eyes, and reached out to take the woman's hand. The two friends smiled as their fingers entwined, and together, they cured so many dark diseases and cleansed so many polluted memories—even as they stared, wordless, at the ocean and the sky, as the sun went down and thousands of familiar stars sparkled forth to play.

The End