Episode 100: Elections and Memorials

Mayor John Davis speaks to the people of Town and the World Ship in the aftermath of the Yunai’s attack.

          Willow Creek Farms.

          The story of Ronin had started here. Years ago, when his small flying machine had crashed in a cornfield, no one could have possibly known the scale of the adventure that was yet to come. 

          The fields were larger now. The crops had been diversified to appease the always-growing population in Town and abroad. One field, however, was still barren of any crops. Elsie stood in this empty place, observing as the last handful of the recovery crews packed their gear and shouted to one another about things on their checklists. The logistics team had left earlier this morning, which meant the stragglers were left to their own devices to transport the remaining dozen or so cases.

          The reason they had come here was the acquisition of debris from the Upper Level. After the Yunai Incident six weeks ago, a large flying vehicle crash-landed at this farm. The vehicle had come to rest in this very field. It had taken them days to actually set up a shop out here, take the vehicle apart, and transport it to the Grid for further study.

          Now they were nearly done. It would be just a few more days, most likely.

          Next to Elsie, Katherine Willow stood with her hands on her hips, pinching her long dress so that it didn’t brush against the dirt on the ground. Katherine looked disgruntled, which was fairly normal for her personality. The whole operation in this field had cost her a lot of time and space, and she was eager to give Elsie the boot.

          It didn’t help that Elsie had promised to be out of the field three weeks ago.

          “So today is the last day?” Katherine asked, likely trying to get a confirmation.

          “Soon,” Elsie answered, purposely keeping her response vague.

          “I hate that,” Katherine said with a groan. “You can just say no instead of trying to give me some kind of non-answer.”

          Elsie smiled and turned her attention to the farmer. “I am sorry, Katherine. I don’t know the exact day. We still have some equipment to pack. It has been a struggle for us out here.”

          “Well, I struggle with growing crops when you’ve got heavy machinery in the way,” Katherine grumbled. “Take as long as you need, I suppose. I need to get into Town to vote for mayor anyway.”

          Elsie had completely forgotten about the election. “Wait. That’s today?”

          “Most certainly is,” Katherine said, “and it’s an important election for us here in Town. Everyone has been talking about it for weeks.”

          “I’ve been so busy with everything out here, I completely forgot. I’ll have to get my vote in this evening too.”

          Katherine raised a brow. “Who are you voting for?”

          “Is that something we talk about?” Elsie asked. “I have respect for both candidates. I don’t mind either way.”

          “You’re voting for John then?”

          Elsie didn’t respond.

          “Alright. Keep your secrets, then. Can you try to have your people out of here before the next planting season?”

          “We’ll do our best.”

          Katherine groaned, then walked off while grumbling about the merits of honest representation. Elsie ignored her, glancing at the remaining pile of supplies and debris samples. The story would go on, she knew that as well as anyone else, but it did feel like they were closing out the final chapter on a story that began the day Ronin arrived.

           Her communicator buzzed, and she reached into her side pocket to grab it. The identification was unknown, but the administration number indicated it was coming from the Grid. She reminded herself to update her contact list. As more and more people got communicators of their own, she was having trouble keeping up. She chuckled to herself and then declined the call. There was another shipment heading out this evening, so she would help them get loaded, then make her way to Town to vote.

          Flynn Brickshelm had just finished crafting a tower of leftover papers and a stapler so that he could prop his own communicator and watch it like a small display screen without having to hold it the whole time. The tiny screen currently showed a video recording from the World Ship Monitoring System. The video was blurry, the footage rattled this way and that, but Flynn could still make out certain elements as he watched it play. The experts over at the Grid had zoomed and enhanced as best as they could, so he knew this was the best he would get. There were two objects moving fast toward one another, and just as they made contact—

          A knock on the door made him jump from his seat. He looked to see Ruby standing at the threshold with a judgemental look. She had her arms crossed as she stepped inside and closed the door behind her. “I thought you were done with that video. You know there’s nothing else to learn from it.”

          “I am,” he said, relaxing in his chair again. “I just… it’s fascinating.”

          “Which part is so important to you?” Ruby asked. “Personally, I still can’t believe that the bulkheads absorbed so much energy they’re still glowing hot six weeks later. The whole ecosystem up there is a mess from what we’re hearing. The thunderstorms in the atmospheric crossover between levels is intense too.”

          “Sure, all of that is wild,” Flynn said, his mind dwelling on something else. “That’s not really what I can’t stop thinking about.”


          “Ronin charged that thing head-on,” Flynn explained, turning his communicator to show Ruby the video. “He gave everything to save the World Ship. I like to believe I’d do the same, that any of us would, really… but…”

          “Would we?” Ruby finished. “That’s deep, Flynn.”

          “I wonder if he really knew how much power that crystal would unleash.”

          Ruby shrugged. The blast from the Evercrystal had been unlike anything they’d ever experienced before. What had once been a calm ocean in the Upper Level was now a roiling sea of fog. Visibility in the area was atrocious, and the atmospheric impact was still spreading. Even the snowy mountains of Winter Village had become a rainy mess for weeks on end, though the rumor was it might be cooling down ever so slightly as the World Ship was fighting to establish its weather systems again.

          Most of the news they got about the Upper Level these days came from the Hub. In the wake of the Yunai Incident, Town no longer had any vehicles that could easily reach the Upper Level, so their ability to communicate with someone up there was critical. Of course, their input wasn’t any better.

          The official estimates that Ruby had last heard rumored it might take fifty years to get the entire area back to how it was before the explosion.

          “I just wish we knew,” Flynn said aloud, finally letting the truth come out.

          Ruby understood. “I know.”

          “Six weeks. The Yunai would have shown up by now, right?”

          She shrugged. “It waited a long time after we brought it here before it made its move. That’s got a lot of people on edge. William Everett is working on a solution. He wants to launch a vehicle that can brave the ocean to search for signs of the creature’s defeat.”

          In the direct aftermath, it appeared Ronin and Geoffrey’s plan had worked. Unfortunately, they had been lost during the confrontation. Without their voices to confirm things had actually worked the way they were supposed to, every citizen aboard this World Ship was left with a nagging doubt. Some of them, like Ruby, seemed to accept a positive conclusion. Others, like Flynn, were still searching for proof that would allow them to lower their guard. Without concrete proof the creature was gone… would he ever really be able to rest?

          “Come on,” Ruby added. “Enough doom and gloom from you today. We’ve got an election to participate in.”

          Flynn grimaced. “Right. I nearly forgot. I spent so long coordinating the security, then I nearly missed the actual event. I’m supposed to be hidden away with the rest of the council.”

          He reached down and closed the video, then took a deep breath and stood to follow Ruby. His purpose was to protect the citizens. Until he knew they were safe, he would simply assume the risk remained, and he would prepare accordingly.

          For now, though, Ruby was right. It was time to live in the moment, and that meant deciding who would be the next mayor of Town.

          At Town Hall, the council had gathered in their meeting room in an attempt to stay sequestered during the election process. John and Rayland both joined, and Elsie, while a little late, had shown up too.

          The group of them sat there, most of them seemingly busy with work or other coordination efforts as Town started to get back to a level of normalcy that they hadn’t really felt since learning about the Yunai.

          It was Nima Patel, Town’s head of healthcare and science, that finally decided to break the silence, leaning in her chair and pointing a pen at Rayland Walsh as she smiled slyly at him. “I saw you out there the other day. I think I saw you shake someone’s hand. I thought to myself, it cannot be true, but sure enough, it was real. You were actually interfacing with your constituents. I gotta admit I was proud of you, Walsh.”

          “Always my chief supporter,” Rayland said, looking up from his own work with a relaxed grin and a twinkle in his eyes. “If it makes you feel better, it was painful to find myself driven to such lows, but the competition is stiff.”

          “Your resume speaks for itself,” Bryan Steeles spoke up. “You’ve led us through one crisis after another. That kind of leadership isn’t easy to ignore.”

          “Though it is easier to lean away from his campaign when we all remind ourselves that he caused at least one of those crises,” Nancy Rizzo countered.

          “What’s a small conflict among friends?” Elsie, who had been pacing the room looking at her communicator, patted Rayland on the shoulder. “We buried the hatchet on that a long time ago. It could have gone poorly, but Walsh saw reason, and I dare say the Explorer’s Group needed a moment of self-reflection as well.”

          “The citizens might not have forgiven or forgotten as easily,” Nancy pressed.

          “Perhaps not,” Rayland said. “That’s what we’ll learn today.”

          “Alright, enough of that,” Samantha Valentine said, standing from her place at the table. “We’ve come a long way for this. The folks outside are picking the next mayor, and be it Rayland or John, we can all agree this council and its head will be someone that cares about our home.”

          “Here here,” Bryan said with a smile.

          “What are you looking at, Elsie?” Rayland finally asked, turning toward her while she continued to wander, barely watching where she was going while she stared at the device in her hands.

          “Readings on the Upper Level,” she said, looking at the rest of the council. “Now that we’ve lifted the lockdown, the Hub has been working to gather better data on the whole event. William Everett is heading up our contributions to the effort. Representatives from the Hub have supposedly made contact with someone from Sanctuary, and their section of the World Ship is unharmed.”

          “Sanctuary?” Nancy inquired.

          “That’s the name of the population center in Section Zero-Nine.”

          “Is that where the jetplane came from?” Nima asked.

          “That’s right,” Elsie confirmed. “Sanctuary is a thriving population group, or at least they were until all of this went down. We have a few of their citizens staying with us in Town for now, and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to build a strong relationship with all of the population groups.”

          “Are we truly unable to reach the Upper Level?” Bryan asked.

          “We have the Sprinter, Ronin’s small ship that crashed here years ago. We successfully repaired it, and it can currently make trips, but only one person can use it at a time, and they must be a qualified and experienced pilot. We’re very limited on our options at this time.”

          “What’s the long-term plan there?” Rayland inquired.

          “We’re working on a vehicle that’s similar to the jetplane Nima mentioned. We believe we might be able to create a kind of flyer that simply uses natural forces and propulsion to climb its way to the Upper Level. We’re in the early stages, of course, but the initial concept is promising.”

          “Until then?”

          “I’d recommend our council work on diplomatic relations. The people of the Hub are free-spirits, and they are of their own minds. They don’t see us as part of them, nor do they have an interest in changing that. I doubt that it will be any different with Sanctuary’s leadership when we meet them.”

          “Alright,” John said, clapping his hands on his knees and looking around the room. “The voting closes in less than an hour. I can’t thank you all enough for the opportunities you’ve afforded me. Win or lose, I’m proud of where we’ve ended up together, and I look forward to serving this town, either as mayor or as good ol’ John. But, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a girl to visit. I wish you all the best.”

          John headed out, and the rest of the council was soon to follow.

          Rayland went last, reaching the front door of Town Hall to see Samantha at the base of the stairs, waiting for him, as she always did these days.

          “Come along,” she said when she saw him. “Let’s walk together.”

          Rayland came down and let her hook her arm through his own. They started down the main street, and Rayland really took a moment to absorb the comfort of this place. He had always loved Town. He had always wanted to keep it safe and secluded. From the first day he took on his so-called leadership role, that was all he wanted for this place. Safety. Still, the events of the last few years had changed him. Tonight he could see refugees, now full-fledged citizens, walking down the street with their young children in tow. He saw older folks that had survived the end of their world and found peace here. He was happy about it. He was glad that things didn’t work out the way he had envisioned. This place was home for so many, and in the days and years to come, it would no doubt become home to many more.

          He was going to miss it.

          “Samantha,” he started, choosing his words carefully. “I want you to know that John approached me about his policies the other day. He knows the public’s opinions. In reality, I have remained fairly popular, which is a bit surprising and I am thankful for it, but I’m not that popular. John is going to be the new mayor, and frankly, I’m glad.”

          Samantha didn’t object. She just smiled. “Okay, assuming that’s true, what will you do?”

          “He asked me to become a diplomat. I’ll become Town’s first Foreign Minister. I would travel to the Upper Level and help build relationships with the citizens living there.”

          “He’s shipping you away?” she scoffed.

          Rayland chuckled. “I suppose so. Honestly, I think I could use the vacation.”

          Samantha paused for a moment, then laughed. “Okay, Rayland. Fair enough.”

          “Anyway, all of this is to say… well, I’m going to need an assistant.”

          Samantha rolled her eyes. “Of course.”

          “Would you come with me?”

          “Yes. Yes, I suppose I would,” she answered.

          “Thank you. It means… well, it means the world to me.”

          “Alright. Alright. Don’t be a sappy old man,” she said with a grin. “I’m only going to go so I can keep you out of trouble.”

          Samantha wrapped an arm around Rayland’s shoulder, leaning on him and resting her head against his own. “Now, come on. I want some dessert before we hear the results tonight.”

          In Winter Village, the sun had set, the villagers had started to hide away for the evening, and Grace Randolf stood at the foot of a hill where three black stone markers stood, lifting out of the ground in a striking fashion. William had put them here, calling them “gravestones.” There was one for Ronin, one for Thresher, and one for someone that she did not know. William always loved being mysterious.

          The village had been a mess since the Yunai was defeated. The warm temperatures from the Upper Level had disrupted the normal snow, and it had all melted away, leaving the entire mountainside in a soggy mess. A cold breeze blew past her, making her shiver for the first time in weeks, and she wondered if the World Ship would eventually be able to repair itself.

          “I… I miss you,” she said aloud, uncertain of why she bothered to speak.

          From behind, Grace heard the sound of footsteps against the wet ground, so she turned to see a woman approaching. She had black hair that looked almost identical to Olivia Sun’s, but when Grace saw her face, she realized this must be the mysterious Scarlet Sun, the woman Olivia had brought from the Upper Level during the final moments of the Yunai crisis.

          Scarlet was wearing a black coat, which contrasted against her pale skin and made her look rather ghostly. Grace knew a few brief talking points about Olivia’s family tree. Everyone had heard by now that Ronin was Olivia’s father, but fewer had heard the truth about Scarlet.

          While Grace contemplated this, the woman looked up and saw Grace standing there. She paused, then looked over her shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she said, meeting Grace’s eyes. “I didn’t realize they already had visitors. I can come back.”

          “No, it’s okay,” Grace assured her. “Please come over.”

          Scarlet approached with her arms at her sides. There was a brief moment of awkward silence between the two before Scarlet started to smile. “Are you Grace?” she asked.

          Grace nodded. “I am.”

          “Geoffrey… he wanted you to know he did it for you. The last thing he said was that he was doing everything for you.”

          Grace felt tears building in her eyes. “Of course he did.”

          “I knew him in another life,” Scarlet said quietly. “He was a good man. We grew up together in the same section of our World Ship. Our lives took us on very different paths, but even at his darkest… he was never a bad man.”

          “Misunderstood, perhaps,” Grace added.

          Scarlet chuckled.

          “I’m sorry for your loss too. A lot of citizens got to know Ronin. His sacrifice won’t be forgotten.”

          “His whole life was one of sacrifice,” Scarlet said calmly. “I wish I could have had more time with him, even just a few minutes to tell him I really understood, but… I suppose it would have never been enough time to make this hurt less.”

          “No, I don’t think so.”

          “Geoffrey wasn’t a man to let people get close to him, at least not the Geoffrey that I knew. You made him a better person, Grace, and he gave his life to help these people. Never forget that about him. He was a hero.”

          Grace nodded, not really sure how to digest the words when Scarlet turned to leave. She watched the older woman walking away, then finally called out to her.

          “Thank you,” she said. “Thank you for telling me.”

          Scarlet nodded then continued walking away.

          Olivia Sun sat on a spinning barstool, cracking open another crab leg and trying not to focus on the wild singing coming from the drunken citizens that stumbled around the room, some of them shouting mild obscenities and threats at their buddies.

          The Hub was a very unique place.

          “Why did you bring me here?” she finally asked, turning to look at Karushi Sona, who was also busy at work on one of his own crab legs.

          Karushi ran one of the largest underworld gangs on the World Ship. More recently he had become a rising political star in the city. Some folks even said he’d become the next Emperor of the Hub. Olivia wasn’t sure how much someone like Karushi was to be trusted, but he’d asked to meet with her when she arrived in the city, and she had agreed. She assumed that they would have some kind of formal meeting… not a crab dinner at a rowdy hole-in-the-wall restaurant.

          “Curiosity,” Karushi answered after pulling his prize of crab meat free from the cracked shell. “I’d heard this place was the best in the city.”

          “How does it hold up?” Olivia asked, taking a big chunk of crab meat. “Personally, I can’t get enough. We just don’t have food like this in the Lower Level.”

          “One more reason for me to stay away,” Karushi said, jokingly.

          “Seriously, Karushi. Why did you ask me here?”

          “We have a submersible. It’s one of the older-generation vehicles from Ronin’s personal collection. It made its way here from his World Ship. It’s been retrofitted for use with power crystals, but it can’t fly like the Intrepid could or anything fancy. It’ll still move fast underwater though. I haven’t used it since it came into my possession. I’ve agreed to let Scarlet Sun take it. She’ll be going to Sanctuary to help figure things out there. They had some power crisis stuff. We’re going to help her citizens connect to the Grid and World Ship power grid.”

          “Okay? What does that have to do with me?”

          “They could use your help.”

          “You want me to go to Sanctuary?”

          Karushi nodded.

          “I don’t think so.”

          “So that’s it then?” Karushi asked. “You’ll just see her off tomorrow and be done with it?”

          “Excuse me?”

          “You regret not spending enough time with Ronin while he was here, don’t you?”

          “Of course,” Olivia said, not pretending to hide her sudden wave of emotion. “How could I not? I could have… I should have never left his side.”

          “So, what’s different now?” he asked.

          “I… it’s different.”

          Karushi pursed his lips. “Perhaps… or perhaps not.”

          Olivia shook her head. “You know what? I’m not feeling hungry.”

          “Of course,” he replied. He waved a hand and the server approached. He handed over a metal card, and the server’s eyes went wide. They asked if he was mistaken, and Karushi shook his head.

          The man disappeared into the kitchen with a mile-wide grin.

          “I suspect I overpaid,” Karushi said jokingly.

          “I appreciate what you’re doing here,” Olivia added, trying not to feel devastated by the sudden weight of the world. “I just… I’m not sure I know anything anymore.”

          “Sleep on it,” he replied. “She departs at noon tomorrow from the city’s primary harbor. If you decide to come along, just show up. If not, they’ll sail on and whatever happens next will be up to you.”

          “Thank you.”

          “Of course. I’ll always make time for you, Olivia Sun. For now, I’ll wish you goodbye and goodnight.”

          David Nash picked Olivia up a short time later. He had been as curious as her when Karushi had called, but he was happy enough when she told him that there hadn’t been any illegal talk or conspiring at their dinner.

          “So, what did he want?” David asked as he drove her home.

          “He asked if I wanted to go with my mom to Sanctuary to help them get their city connected to the Grid.”


          “He really wants me to work on the Unification Project.”

          “What’s the Unification Project?”

          “Karushi wants to find and inform all non-native members of the World Ship of their past. He thinks folks might come together as a people, form their own town, or join the Hub’s population.”

          “Well, he’s certainly ambitious.”

          Olivia smiled, but she noticed the street they were on wasn’t anywhere near the police headquarters. She looked around, only now noticing that David had been leading her away from where she thought she was going.

          “What’s going on?” she asked. “Where are we?”

          David pointed ahead. “We’re not far. It’s nothing bad. I… Well, you have to see it.”

          Olivia didn’t care for secrets, but she trusted David well enough, so she continued to talk with him. “I’m not a fan of this,” she added, for clarification. “I’m being led through the streets without any clue of my destination. If you weren’t someone I trusted…”

          “Exactly. Trust me,” David encouraged. “We’re nearly there.”

          They reached an older set of buildings, closer to the coast than most of the fancy structures they were building now. David led Olivia up some rickety wooden stairs, then to an old, albeit sturdy, a wooden ladder that led them even higher. Finally, they reached the top. The view from here was nice, nothing breathtaking, but she could see the harbor at least.

          “What is this place?”

          “It’s the repository… of your father.”

          David unlocked and opened an ornate door that led into a square room. She stepped inside to see that the walls were lined with shelving, and on those shelves were dozens, if not hundreds, of books. Unlike a library, almost all of these books matched. She stepped over to them and saw the gold filigree numbers etched on the spine of each book. “Two-Two-Nine-Six?” she asked. “That was the number of my father’s World Ship.”

          “That’s right.”

          Olivia opened the book and saw the handwriting. Page after page of journal entries written by Ronin the Lightbringer… her father.”

          “I’ve read a lot of them,” David admitted. “Your father had skills with writing. There’s a whole history here of his life. He wrote it all on these pages.”

          Olivia couldn’t believe it. She flipped through a few pages, then started reading. The words went through her mind, and she could practically hear his voice speaking them. It was surreal. Somehow, it was like a small piece of him had survived here. She’d spent the last six weeks wishing she could have gotten to know him better, and now she would have that opportunity.

          She turned to David, tears running down her face, and she embraced him.

          “Thank you,” she said. “This means… this means so much.”

          “I knew you wouldn’t be able to just stay here and read them all, by the way,” David added, pulling out a tablet display and handing it over to her. “I hired some help and we transcribed each and every journal, start to finish. It’s all on there for you to read from anywhere, anytime.”

          “I can’t believe it. That must have taken ages.”

          “I started a while back,” David admitted. “I wanted you to have this collection from the moment I learned you were Ronin’s daughter.”

          “I’ll read every page,” she said, smiling.

          “So, uh, I don’t know how else to put this, but I agree with Karushi on this one.”


          “Your mom is leaving tomorrow. We might not see her again for a while. The truth of the matter is, she’s your family too. Most of us on the World Ship don’t have those kinds of connections. I just… I don’t know… I feel like—”

          “I appreciate your input,” Olivia said calmly. “I really appreciate it.”

          “Anyway. I should get you back to the hotel. It’ll be a long day tomorrow.”

          She nodded, clutching the new tablet close, then started out.

          The ride to the hotel was mostly silent. Olivia knew that Karushi and David were right. She hated the feeling she had in her gut that told her she missed out on so much time with her father while he was alive. She didn’t know Scarlet like she knew Ronin, and Scarlet knew so much more about her than she knew about herself. It felt awkward and new, but if she let her mother go now… if something happened and she lost the last chance she had to be with her family…

          She held the tablet tight.

          She just needed to sleep.

          Scarlet Sun arrived at the main dock of the Hub as expected. The submarine, known only as Zero-Two, was already being loaded with supplies for the trip across the Upper Level ocean. Annie Arkly stepped out of the main hatch and waved to her, then climbed down and walked over with a clipboard in hand.

          Scarlet noticed a lot of security was present on the dock while Annie approached, and she realized that this vehicle was particularly high-value in the current conditions.

          “Hope you’re ready to travel in style,” Annie said. “I’m a big fan, by the way. I’ve been reading up on some of the data your people sent ahead about the power grid in Sanctuary. It’s really impressive.”

          Scarlet smiled. “I appreciate that.”

          “I’m really eager to see it,” Annie added. “I’ll be leading up the team that’s going to get you connected to the Grid. We’ll have your city bathed in electricity again in no time at all.”

          “I’m sure the people are ready for it,” Scarlet said, frowning slightly. “I never meant for the Evercrystal to leave the city, but now that we have it stored away safely in the Core, I feel better. The people will be happy to have power back, no matter the source. I’m sure they’ve had rolling power outages ever since we flew away. I just hope they’ve stayed in good spirits. We’ve got our work cut out for us, Annie. I hope you’re ready.”

          “Absolutely,” Annie said. “I’ll finish loading the supplies and let you know when we can power up the engines and be on our way.”

          Annie rushed back to the submarine and slid inside the hatch with a single motion. Scarlet smiled, then took a moment to look at the Hub. The city was an absolute mess. The towers were all unique, strung together with bold ideas and questionable designs. It was Ronin’s refuge. She thought about her love living here all that time while thinking he had lost his love and his family. They had been so close to one another, oblivious to the truth. Still, she was thankful for his legacy. The citizens of the Hub loved Ronin, and because he had loved Scarlet, they loved her too. She felt guilty to watch people like Annie Arkley treat her with such respect and admiration when she didn’t deserve it. She hoped, when they all reached Sanctuary, that they didn’t see the truth about her, the dark reality that she’d spent all this time thinking Ronin had abandoned her and her child.

          She felt guilt washing over her again.

          She held back the tears as best as she could until she heard a small voice.

          “Hello, mom.”

          She spun to see Olivia Sun on the dock.

          The two were quiet for a moment, then Scarlet let the words flow. “My daughter, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know the truth. I… I’m so ashamed. I wish I had done things differently. I wish I had—”

          “Mom. When I found out Ronin was my father, I retreated. I had questions for him. I wanted to know about my life, about you, but it felt so strange to be someone with a legacy when no one else on our World Ship was like me. It alienated me from my friends. I… didn’t know what to do or how to start the conversation, so I just… didn’t. He and I went our separate ways, and then everything went wrong. Before I knew it, he was gone.”

          Scarlet didn’t speak. She just wept.

          “I know how you feel more than you realize,” Olivia continued. “The point is, I do not want that for us. Ronin loved you, so I want to get to know you as he did. I want to be able to share my life with my mother. Is that still an option?”

          “Are you sure?” Scarlet asked, her voice hopeful. “I didn’t treat you well in Sanctuary.”

          Olivia smiled. “When I first met Ronin, I threw him in jail. We’re not so different.”

          Scarlet looked at Olivia with tears on her face. “I am sorry.”

          “Me too,” Olivia replied. “So, what do you say? Want to start again?”

          Scarlet nodded. “Please, yes. Should I… should I cancel the trip?”

          “No, that’s okay. I’ll be coming with you to Sanctuary.”

          “Are you sure? What about your life here? I can’t take you away from them.”

          “Oh, I’ll be back soon enough,” Olivia said. “If they need us, they can call.”

          Without another word, Scarlet stepped forward and grabbed Olivia, pulling her tightly into an embrace, practically squeezing the life out of her in the process.

          Olivia, openly crying and feeling overwhelmed, returned the embrace. The two of them stood there on the docks, weeping and laughing, smiling and crying, while some of the more curious onlookers pondered their situation, and others simply tried to ignore it.

          Finally, from the submarine, the pair heard Annie Arkly calling for them.

          “We’re ready to roll,” she shouted. “All aboard!”

          “You go ahead,” Olivia said. “I have one more goodbye.”

          “Okay,” Scarlet said, still wiping tears. “I’ll see you onboard.”

          Olivia wiped her own tears and stepped back until she found David Nash with the other security members. He looked at her and expressed concern, but she waved dismissively and smiled at him. “I’m going with her.”

          “It’s the right thing,” he said, looking stoic.

          “I’ll miss you too,” she said.

          “You will?”

          “Yeah, though last time around you were the one that disappeared into the unknown.”

          “I can’t argue with that,” he said, chuckling. “Well, get on to the next adventure, Olivia Sun. I’m sure you’ll come parading back here eventually, and hey, maybe we’ll cross paths again.”

          “Maybe so.”

          “Until then… I guess I send my best regards.”

          Olivia nodded, then started toward the submarine, spinning around one last time before she climbed aboard. “Oh, and tell John congratulations on the new job! I expect his Foreign Minister to make a visit sometime!”

          David laughed. “I’ll let him know.”

          Olivia climbed inside the submarine and sat down next to Scarlet as Annie powered the vehicle and they began to sink into the ocean waters. The submarine wasn’t quiet by any means, but with no one talking, there was time to think, and Olivia wasn’t in the mood to think.

          “Okay,” she said. “We’ve got a long trip ahead of us. So, tell me, how did Scarlet Sun meet Ronin the Lightbringer?”

          Scarlet rolled her eyes and laughed. “Oh my. That is a story to tell, indeed. In fact, you’ll be surprised to know just how many people you’ve met that were involved on that fateful day. It involves a certain Captain, a pirate crew, and a dark spirit in the woods…”

          The submarine slowly picked up speed, and they were officially off to their next adventure.

To Be Concluded…

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