Our time here was almost done. The last of the Wort had been harvested, the wedding was over, and a lovely couple united. Pricilla and Jaerka had given Moreck three sets of contact lens, as well as a set of children's for any possible offspring. The lens were all treated with a special substance that, with the aid of a small device, allowed them to be found, should the wearer accidentally drop them. Caleb had made the decision to travel to Falth. With Junni's ship continuing to travel back and forth to Kagor, chances were good he could return on her ship. Late that evening, Jaerka and Pricilla left before us, but besides waiting on Caleb, we couldn't leave without a warm and emotional departure.
"Colin, Olivia," I said, "We'll take very good care of Caleb, I've spoken with him, Moreck as well. We think he is prepared, and won't be frightened. If we are unable to bring him back, Junni's pilot Jallack Elevu most certainly will. If we don't see you again, it has been a most wondrous friendship. We wish you all the best for now as well as the coming year's."
We hugged every member of the family, including Moreck and Karla. Morkai then shook Moreck's hand,
"If in fact we are never able to return here Moreck, It will be comforting to know that there is still a small part of Falth remaining here on Kagor, I as well as Holly with you and your new bride all the best." Caleb gave his parents one last hug, Andy waived to Colin, letting him know that he would be in contact. Finally, everyone was buckled in, the engines roaring to life, as we ascended into the heavens. Stopping at Uncle Jeff's farm to drop off Andy and Emily, pick up my parents and allow Sally and her children to say one last goodbye to their grandparents, we were off once more.
As was expected, Caleb was amazed at the ship. Todd became his guide, showing him around, explaining things, and just being a friend. He told Nargra that he remembered when he first came aboard the Na'Vas, being very frightened himself. A couple una's into the voyage, I was on night shift when my father came from his cabin,
"Father, what are you doing up," I asked.
"Couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd come and watch my daughter working.
"Well I just made a fresh pot of coffee, over there, go grab a cup and sit down. Returning, from the small brewer, he asked,
"Is it all right that I sit here?" Pointing to the co-pilot's seat.
'Oh absolutely father," I replied, "the seat will conform to you." After he sat, we sat in silence for a moment as he watched me.
"Just keeping an eye on everything," I said, "the ship's flying under auto pilot, which means that the computer is flying it right now. We don't usually take over until landing, entering or leaving hyperspace, or taking off." he looked at his coffee and made a face,
"Army coffee, tastes like we used to make it when I was in the army."
"Sorry father," I replied. "The brewer on this ship is set up to make Ipsha; Morkai adjusted it as close as he could."
"Oh that's all right Holly," He replied, then pointing to the view out of the large window, he said,
"Is that what you call deep space?" I nodded,
"You never see it from earth, but it's what I call "Heaven," it's the cosmos, but look how beautiful it is, when you see something like that, you can't do anything but believe in God. Some of us always say a little prayer, thanking him for letting us pass through his domain."
As we were gazing out of the window, my mother appeared in her house robe.
"Mother, what are you doing up?"
"Oh I couldn't sleep after your father got up. I checked on J.M. he's sleeping nice and soundly.'
Well I think both of you can find space on that seat, there's hot coffee over there, or as father put it, "army coffee."
"Well I just wanted to see what you were doing," she replied. Then my father said,
"Often times your mother and I have wondered what it was you did, but little did we realize you were actually in control of this incredible machine."
"Now you two knew I could fly one, that's what this patch is for, I'm a licensed pilot."
Both stayed up for another hour as we talked, and they watched me at work. Finally sleep got the better of them, and they returned to their room. Not long after, Nargra came on duty, Hanna was with him as well, so I wished them a good night then checked on J.M. before joining Morkai in bed.
After a time, everybody found their own things to do. My mother knitted, or played with J.M. Todd tried to teach Caleb Falthian words, and the adults talked or played cards. I held a secret wish that when we approached the jump gate, my parents could witness the C-Beams dancing off the Eniath gate. God granted my wish, and they as well as everyone else was treated to a real spectacle. I told them how lucky they were to see such a thing, a natural phenomenon that surpassed anything they could possibly see on earth. I had to wake them up when Falth became a recognizable planet, then a little bit later,
"Mother, father, you can see it much better now, there she is Falth, in all her beauty. My father was standing near the bridge talking to Morkai and me when suddenly space chatter started coming over the ship's speakers.
"Relax father," I replied to his alarm, "It's only space chatter, radio traffic from hundreds of other ships all talking to someone." Before long it was our turn, as Morkai contacted Shai Alyt traffic control requesting a pad to land at. My parents as well as young Caleb took it all in. I was paying special attention to Caleb's behavior, but Todd was right in there helping as well. His mother had asked him to act as a guide for Caleb, reminding him that at one time he had been frightened by all the strange things he was witnessing.
As we were preparing to enter Falth's atmosphere, I told my parents,
"We'll be landing at the Shai Alyt landing area first. They will come aboard to check and register our cargo, then issue a payment authorization. Security or maybe even Sandrick will come aboard to enter you and Caleb in the security register. Then when we get the word, we'll leave again for Akdor where Sally and Drokai, as well as we live." After landing, Sandrick did come onboard to register my parents as well as Caleb, placing him in my direct custody. While he went about his business, we chatted about this being the last harvest, as well as talking to my father and thanking him for his help in the whole effort. Then it was time to leave. Just a short flight to Akdor, and we were home. Morkai had called the field office to have them notify his parents, who met us after we landed. It really warmed our hearts to see our parents united again, after having met several dorms ago at my Uncle's farm. Warn hand shakes and hugs Morkai and I looked at each other and smiled. Then their attention was turned to J.M. and Caleb, J.M. wasn't sure about all the attention he was getting so started to cry, which set off Graza. It took a bit to settle them down, but Hanna and I as well as Sally managed to do it. Morkai and Nargra brought out all of the luggage, as we said goodbye to Jorkail and Kemra.
"Holly, Morkai, Hanna, Nargra. We had a wonderful time. We saw things on Kagor we'll remember all our lives. Thanks again for an incredible experience."
Finally with the assistance of a servicar we got all our baggage home. Naturally our parents had to get re-acquainted, as well as remark on their grandchild. That evening, we all sat out on our porch and basked in the light of Solis and Syria. It was a very special evening, Morkai and I listening as our parents talked, my parents still adjusting to actually being on another planet. J.M. got plenty of attention from two sets of doting grandparents. Since Morkai and I had to attend various meetings, and couldn't join my parents, Morkai's folks offered to show my parents several interesting locations until we could go with them.
Although Caleb returned to Falth with us, he stayed with Karuk and Sara, her being his Aunt. We took him via the monorail to Armaka's home, something Sara and I worried about, but only brought gasps of wonderment and questions from Caleb. Both he and Armaka laughed with joy at their re-union, with his parents thanking Sara and I for bringing Caleb. He stayed with Armaka for close to a relfa, with his parents treating us to a splendid fair-well dinner on our parting. Caleb told me he was simply amazed at the school Armaka went to. He met all of Armaka's friends and although he had difficulty articulating the technical nature of his experience, I gathered that he appeared on another school video program broadcast throughout the school system. Before we left for Kagor, Caleb also attended Todd and Jenny's school as well, receiving considerable attention.
I also took my parents to "school," as well. Or more aptly, the Kagorian studies department, and professors Narkoa, and Jenjovig. Of all that she saw, I think my mother was most impressed with the Kagorian studies department, as well as the fact that I was part of it all. She had always been terribly impressed with higher learning for women, and here was I her daughter, deeply involved in a university program on another planet. Professor Narkoa talked my father into addressing a gathering of students as well as faculty at one of the larger halls. It turned out to be a very well attended affair. Translation was done through a device with a microphone that my father spoke into then translated into Falthian. He spoke on The United States taking the lead in steel technology, developing new materials that he hoped one day would enable earth to travel the stars as the Falthians were doing. Telling me later that he didn't consider himself a fine public speaker, none the less, he received a standing ovation, one of the very first Kagorians to address the Kagorian studies department.
It was partly due to this speech that Drokai was able to arrange a small tour for my father to view Falthian metal technology and development. Of everything he saw on the tour, none impressed him more than Macpherson an incredibly thin metal that was like paper, but extremely flexible. However, of all that they experienced, none was more impressive or memorable than the grand tour of Falth. The plains of Khaiabad with it's dinosaur like Skrithik's. The majestic canyons of Krontor with the falls of Ricathia. We took a special tour aerostat. Morkai, his parents, as well as my parents and I experienced the thrill of floating thousands of kat's above the base of the falls right up to the falls themselves. We also took a tour over the Skyblood mountains seeing the tallest peaks at dawn. Then it was time to visit Cluria, a city my father said made New York look like a country crossroads.
My parents were utterly astounded at our capitol city. The sky cars, and transports zooming around above their heads in the sky, the majestic spires and tall buildings. Above all, it was the expanse, the city design, and beautiful color to it all. Cluria has a blueish gold to everything. When I first viewed the city, I thought it must be the effect of the sun, but it's a combination of the clever use of color in the building materials, as well as the sun. However it as seeing the city at dusk when the sun was on the horizon and the lights of the city were just coming on that enthralled my father. I took several photos for him, but both he and mother now understood why I chose to live here.
The nineteenth century club was putting on a dinner and dance celebrating the end of our harvesting efforts on earth. Everyone we had dealt with from the Shai Alyt to the government was invited. My parents were our guests of honor. Sandrick gave a wonderful speech, one with humor and insight. At one point, my mother had a chance to talk with Weeko, promising to invest in organizations that were helping the Indians in their plight. Afterwards a ball was held, everyone dancing Falthian dances that were rather shocking to my mother, but then she'd had to get used to a lot of things that had scandalized her. However both my parents had a wonderful time, meeting and talking with quite a number of people. I also think the event put to rest any doubts they may have had concerning my new life here on Falth. Then it was two una's back in Akdor, where we dined with Morkai's parents, as well as Sally and Drokai. Then Caleb returned, Sara and Pricilla would be accompanying us for the last time back to earth. Ann had declined, saying that her final departure from her parents had been rather heartfelt and emotional, and that she felt that one "goodbye," was enough.
Since the harvest was over, there were no more harvesting crates, or harvesting and seeding machines. The run-a-bout was still on board, but Morkai rented temporary cabins, so everyone had decent places to sleep, along with an extra "necessary." When I asked Caleb about his experience, he became very sad at the thought of never seeing Armaka again. He came to Morkai and me with tears in his eyes,
"Mr. and Mrs. Draaka, I can never thank you for all that you have done for me. I almost decided not to come, I was scared. But you convinced me everything would be all right…You know, it was. I will miss my friend Armaka very much. All that I have seen, all that I have experienced will remain with me for the rest of my life. I will never be able to look up at the stars without thinking of him." We told him that something could probably be arranged with Junni concerning letters between him and Armaka, and to talk to his father about it.
And so we began the first half of our final trip back to earth. My parents became very emotional concerning J.M. Barring some unforeseen event; this would be the last they would ever see of him.
Practically all of their time was spent with him. He was walking and talking now, and knew who they were. I sat down with him at one point and told him to treasure these moments, as it was very likely he would never see them again.
We landed at my Uncle's farm first, where in the brief time we spent there; my parents took J.M. for a long walk in the sun letting their grandson get one lasting experience of earth. Needless to say it was a very sad and emotional departure. My father and my Uncle shook Morkai's hand, my mother hugged him asking that he take good care of J.M. and I. My Aunt had two beautiful apple pies for him. I cried, hugged and kissed them both, then it was off to Colin's in Dakota Territory. Here it was time for Sara and Pricilla to get emotional. Pricilla took a long walk with Karla; Sara spent a lot with her brother as well. While Sara and Pricilla were occupied, Hanna and I took Colin's buckboard into Deadwood for one last visit to her friend Mary's grave. Olivia let Hanna pick a bouquet of flowers from her garden which she carefully placed on Mary's grave. Kneeling down, she said a prayer, and with it,
"Mary, this will be the last time I visit you, for I will be far far away. However I will never forget you, thoughts of you will always be in my mind. I still have that silver dollar you gave me so long ago; it will go with me to my grave. I have always regretted that you never knew my best friend Holly here. She has always stood by me, as well as becoming my best friend. Oh what a trio the three of us would have made." Hanna then bent over and gently kissed the headstone. Needless to say, for the rest of the time both here on earth and the trip homeward, both of us were very blue.
Finally the time came to leave. Morkai and I had a long talk with Moreck, who promised to forward us letters enclosed with any material he sent back to Falth. So this time it was Pricilla and Sara who cried as they said one last goodbye to their family Sara passing on a letter for her brother to send on to their parents. Life was rather glum for everyone as we headed back to
So my story has come full circle, the long journey is near at end, I've traveled a unique path, one not on a familiar trail trodden by many, but one across the universe to another world. I've made a life with a man who traveled his own path to find me. As I look back, I remember all the experiences I had or shared with others. Hanna and I are always amazed at the incident that began our trip to the stars. My friends are also fascinated by their personal journeys as well. We talk from time to time about what common traits we share that brought us all to the same road. Whatever they are, every one of us thanks our God for bringing us to this place. Maybe there will be a time in the future when more from earth will join us, so for now I sit next to my husband and begin my story.