25 Forever Blue
“The attack is over.” Helen said serenely.
“You sure?” Cass asked from under a table.
“Does that mean..?” Brett asked in horror.
“Negative. The pyramid is still alive, but its intentions are now wholly peaceful.”
“Well great.” Cass picked herself up. Everyone else was slowly un-huddling and letting go of whatever they’d been clinging to. There was fallen furniture everywhere, and bits of glass and wire from the screens that had exploded. Cass tiptoed to the emergency closet and got out the safety-vac to clean up the glass.
“Injuries?” Dianne asked. “Get Mr. Richter to medical. Paul, are you all right?”
“Think so.” Paul had shielded his face before the screen blew. “Caught it on my arm, hurts but not serious. I have to call headquarters, tell them we’re all right. Mainland must be going crazy by now.”
Helen offered, “Communications will be restored in approximately three minutes.”
Shelby offered his hand. “Agent Hauser?”
“I’m ok. Thanks.”
“That was certainly interesting.” Winston said weakly.
Communications within Orca came back up, and Dianne was immediately assessing damage and talking to the others, who’d gathered in the galley. “Injuries? Good. Any visible damage? Good. Can you all sit tight a little longer? I think all the residential cabins are safe but I want to wait for a full scan. Dave, you’re in charge. Thanks. Five minutes.”
Power was restored to more functions as Helen felt out the damage. The screen in front of Dianne showed an expanding report.
“What’s the word, Mum?”
“Small hull breaches, main structure still sound. Air systems fine. We’ll have to pump out two of the storage rooms and replace everything that broke, but we were very lucky.”
“So...” now that they weren’t all about to die Cass focused on the next important question. “What about Neri and Jason?”
“If they’re ok, they’ll be back soon.” Brett pulled up a chair and dropped into it, then stood up again and started righting the rest of the furniture. Nothing was bolted down because Orca wasn’t supposed to move.
Paul cursed suddenly, then summoned a cheerful voice. “Madam President...”
The woman looked around, and Brett and Cass ducked back out of camera range. Dianne stepped up, “Madam President, I believe a peaceful resolution has been reached. Our Helen 6000 is in communication with the pyramid’s computer, and reports no further hostility. I anticipate diplomatic contact can begin shortly. Orca facility is not severely damaged. Don’t you dare order another attack.”
The president’s eyebrows arched at this last comment. “I appreciate that you’re a bit rattled, Commander. We will hold off aggression against the pyramid, awaiting possible diplomatic options, as you and others have suggested.”
Brett and Cass looked at each other. What ‘others’?
Ellie stepped into camera range. “Ah, I am Agent Hauser. Director Richter is receiving medical attention for minor injuries. Do you have any instruction for the Praxis agents aboard?”
“Assist Commander Bates in securing Orca personnel and structure and await further orders.”
Ellie bowed slightly and stepped back. Shelby was scowling, wishing he’d thought of it first.
The president signed off, after ordering them to keep her ‘appraised of all developments.’ Dianne sighed. “I hope we can live up to that. Helen, can you tell us anything about what’s happening with the pyramid?”
Helen thought for a minute. “The pyramid listens and speaks. It has a new leader, or rather, an old one.”
Cass rolled her eyes. “He-len! Tell us something useful!”
“Orca officer Jason Bates is inside the pyramid. Is he all right?”
Brett and Cass whooped and hugged each other. “We won!”
“Dunno what happened, but it looks like we won!”
Behind them, Paul was asking over a computer if the minifin was insured against aliens. The two kids heard and laughed harder.
Winston put his hands on their shoulders. “This celebration should perhaps be delayed until we learn what happened. In the meantime we have a lot of work to do to get Orca shipshape again with a reduced staff.” Winston’s eyebrows knitted. “Especially if we are to play host to peace talks between the planets.”
The two kids groaned.
Ellie said, “All the Praxis personnel on board will help.”
“Help clean up? Who exactly put you in charge, Hauser?”
“And for a minute back there you were so chivalrous.”
Helen’s bing interrupted them. “Priority call.” She said and opened two windows. One showed a bandaged Richter up in the medical ward, the other a beautiful woman with sooty-black hair and sharp dark eyes.
“Praxis? I’m Agent Cooper, Cardiff Branch.” She had a lovely accent.
Shelby’s mouth dropped open, at either the words or the agent’s looks. “Um...”
“I’ve read the report about recent affairs down under. As of now, Praxis is closed pending investigation. Any... subjects you have will be treated humanely until my team arrives. That’ll be Wednesday, on the concord.” Her mouth had curled with disgust on the word ‘subjects.’
Richter sputtered. Shelby was still in shock.
“Which one of you is Hauser?”
“You’re in charge.”
All three of them sputtered. Ellie said, “Ma’am, I’d rather not...
“I don’t blame you. But you seem the only sane person we’ve got down there. Sending your authorization now. Your main headquarters has already got a copy. If you still want to resign you can do so as soon as my people are up to speed. Shelby can come back to Wales with us. We’ll teach him to catch aliens.” Her voice lilted mischievously on the last words.
Helen printed out some papers, and Shelby grabbed them. Brett, who was craning his neck, saw the Praxis logo and a T-shaped logo.
Agent Cooper turned her head to listen to someone on her end. Then she said, “Commander Bates, there will be no more interference with the running of the Orca facility or your friendship with the aliens. You’re on the hands-off list at the highest level.”
“Thank you.” Dianne said, sounding a bit stunned.
Cass piped up, “So what took you so long to figure Praxis had gone rotten?”
“I’m just asking. I mean they’re kinda late swanning in to save the day.”
“Not the ethics committee are we. Besides—know what happens when a college student starts chantin’ the Necronomicon over an alien translator?”
Cass grinned and backed off. Agent Cooper signed off their end to, presumably, read Richter the riot act. The group on the bridge shared a glance. Shelby was still staring at the papers that said Hauser was now in charge of the entire Northern Australia branch of Praxis investigations. Ellie was still stunned. Finally she said, “Well. Commander, can we get a lift to the mainland as soon as possible?”
Brett said, “I guess that’s Praxis sorted out.”
Cass said, “I liked her.”
“I believe we are in for interesting times.” Was Winston’s opinion.
Helen binged, and the screen that wasn’t in use showed an image of the pontoon, and there was Jason, getting out of a sleek silver boat. As soon as he was out, the boat slipped under the surface and vanished. Jason waved to the pontoon camera and tapped the elevator call pad.
There was a rush from the bridge to be there when he arrived.
When the celebrating and cheering were over, Jason went to his cabin for a break while dinner was rustled up. He flopped on his bed, an arm over his eyes. Being there when the world was saved—it was tiring!
“There is a call for you.” Helen said.
Jason grunted and waved a hand, which Helen took to mean, “answer it.” The wall screen lit up with four separate call screens: Benny, Lena, SallyAnn, and Mick and Vanessa crammed into one window. There was a babble on the theme of, “Are you all right?”
Jason sat up fast. “We’re fine, it’s all over. Hey, where’s Froggy and Zoe?”
Vanessa rolled her eyes. “In jail. They stole a boat.”
“Well it’s obvious something was going on, so Froggy took a boat from the marina and tried to make it to Orca. Patrol caught them, but the boat owner’s not pressing charges. Mister Reilly’s gone to bail them out.”
Brett and Cass had arrived in time to hear that. Brett groaned. “It figures.”
“Hey he’d better not get arrested—he owes me fifty bucks from the bet on who could deprogram a virus faster!”
Benny said, “Actually I think that was a tie.”
“Shut up and tell us what happened!” Vanessa ordered.
So Jason tried to explain, and Brett and Cass chimed in and they went over it again with interruptions, mostly from Vanessa since she had the loud voice for it. Finally Jason finished, “So Neri is a princess and the world is about to learn about the ocean people.”
“You get beached for a year and you miss everything!” Benny lamented.
Lena thought for about two seconds then said, “I’m coming to Orca.”
“You know...” Cass began, thinking aloud, “I think you should all come. And call Lee and Daggy and Jodie too. If you want to be part of whatever’s going to happen next. I mean, this is about to be big—Madam President is going to announce about the aliens soon I’m sure, and I bet we’ll need all the help we can get. Can you imagine—reporters, UFO nuts, heaven only knows what kind of people are going to want a piece of the action. We’ve got some good-guy Men in Black on our side but there’s stuff only kids can do.”
Everyone was staring at Cass. Jason groaned. He hadn’t thought of all that, but it would happen wouldn’t it? All sorts of crazy and politics and things that would have to be settled before they could go back to normal life.
“Count us in.” Said Mick.
“Obviously.” Said Benny.
Lena nodded vigorously, her white hair haloing her face.
SallyAnn began, “Well...Would you all hate me if I stay in the background for now? It’s just that I’ll never get another chance at this internship.”
“Of course we won’t hate you! Just don’t forget us when you’re famous.”
There was more talk, and Lena went to tell her father they were going on a boat trip. Brett said, “This is getting out of control.”
“It’s been out of control since we first found the pyramid.” Jason told him, “We’re just hanging on for the ride. Now go plan the future somewhere else, I need a break.”
Crowded at the rail of the boat, the children watched the pyramid surface. It rose out of the water and floated, solid in the moving waters. Then the cracks between the stones began to glow and the pyramid started to... open. It rumbled, and opened like a flower, different sections turning and pulling back, opening a wide iridescent tent over the shape that remained.
“Amazing.” Cass whispered.
Dave moored the boat to the pyramid, and everyone got out. They were all in dress uniforms, or fancy clothes for Lena and Vanessa who hadn’t kept their Orca clothes out in the real world.
Ilona had raided Shersheba’s closet; she met them wearing one of the princess’ red and gold outfits. It looked better on Ilona. “I’ll show you where to go. You guys over here, Commander and Winston here. Jason at the front.”
“Hi Ilona!” Cass said, “Good luck when Shersheba catches you in her clothes.”
“She let me.” Ilona smiled and swirled her skirt. “We are friends, I think. There is good in Shersheba.”
Brett said, “Yeah, but we’d need Winston’s deep-scan sonar to find it.”
Light slanted through the iridescent canopy above them, which threw strange blue reflections like underwater light. Jason waited below the statue, squirming and picking fluffs off his dress uniform. His friends whispered together, even his parents were chatting quietly. The commanders hadn’t had much peace since Queen Shalamorn contacted the president of global union to apologize for the behavior of her people. In apology, the queen had used the pyramid to move clouds and ease drought across North Africa.
That had raised more yelling and demands for help, and it had been decided that a team of scientists from both planets would study the pyramid’s powers and how it could be used to help the ecosystem of Earth.
Music began and everyone went quiet. Neri appeared in the archway, wearing a long golden dress and shining in the light. She walked to Jason’s side and he leaned over to whisper, “You look great.”
Neri smiled her warm smile and leaned her shoulder against Jason’s for a moment.
Shalamorn appeared from the depths of the pyramid, Mera walking beside her. The commandos still on earth surrounded them like a ceremonial guard. Mera carried a pillow with a gold crown on it—a crown much like the queen’s, of beaten gold, dripping with pearls and teardrop crystals, in a shape that suggested a flower or maybe flames. Mera herself wore a thin gold circlet and a dress like Neri’s, only so long it streamed behind her. Shersheba walked behind Mera, carrying the train of her dress and not even looking grumpy about it.
Shalamorn stopped to talk quietly to the people she passed, thanking them for their help. She gave gold nuggets and jewels to the children, and Vanessa, Cass and Zoe tried to curtsey and Cass nearly fell over. Lena whispered something to Shalamorn and the queen nodded to her.
When it was her turn Dianne whispered, “Your majesty... your gifts...”
“Nothing can truly thank you for your help, but Mera told me of this world’s ‘money’ and that it is needed.”
Mera whispered. “Tuition, and Vanessa’s rent.”
Dianne nodded understanding. “Thank you.”
Shalamorn smiled at her and went on.
“Here we go.” Jason murmured, and stepped back as the music intensified.
Shalamorn faced her daughter. “Neri... over the years I missed, you have grown into a beautiful and amazing young woman. It is my pleasure, in accordance with the laws of our people, to crown you first-born princess of the royal house and heir apparent to the throne of the ancient ones.”
She took the crown from Mera—who was grinning—and put it on Neri’s head. Everyone applauded. Neri smiled around at them, all dignity for a moment, then she hugged Mera and Brett, and kissed Jason
Dianne found herself choked up. The whole scene looked... like a wedding. She glanced at Paul, and found him looking at her.
Neri put on arm around Shalamorn and held the other out to Dianne. “Mother.” She said as she hugged them both. “My mother.”
That evening Brett and Jason went to the island, just like old times. As they pulled the boat up the beach Brett filled Jason in, “Ilona’s staying on earth. Dad hired her Mum to work on Orca two. Shersheba might go too. And Lena and her father are going to the ocean planet.”
“Yep.” Brett nodded, “Seriously. I guess she’s wanted to ever since before, and he’s going as an ambassador. I guess he feels really sorry about all the trouble he made for Neri.”
“I guess.” Jason said, a little shell-shocked. “Can you imagine Hellegren on the ocean planet?”
“Yeah well, if he has a rotten time he deserves it. And if he does ok... maybe that’s not so bad. I think the poor guy lost a year of life the first time he saw Lena done up in Mera’s clothes—his face was a sight!”
Jason shook his head. “Anything else I missed staying in the pyramid yesterday?”
“Nothing interesting. There they are! Hi Neri!”
“Hello!” Neri chimed, and ran down the beach. She was back in her usual dress, Ilona’s fashion advice hadn’t been able to convince her to wear anything else.
By the pond, Ila had a computer open and was looking at the plans for Orca Two. Ilona sat next to her mother, scrunched close enough to see the screen. They were talking quietly.
“Hi Ilona, how are you?”
Ilona smiled up at Brett. “Excited. Scared. It will be a new life for us on your world.”
“Only for a couple months, until the queen fixes the pyramids. Then we’ll be able to go back and forth whenever we want.”
“All my friends will want to visit.”
Mera added, “Laeka tells me her little sister wishes to come.”
Mera was wearing her old dress, with the gold collar over it. She’d taken off the little crown, but somehow it seemed like she still wore it. Learning that her friends were alive had unlocked something within Mera; she stood straighter and smiled freely now.
Shalamorn crouched by the pool, splashing water over her head. She looked so casual, not queenly at all since she’d left her crown in the pyramid. She stood up and turned to the boys. “Hello my friends.”
“Your majesty.” They said.
“Come, walk with my daughters and me. I would speak of their future.”
Jason felt a stab of worry and put his arm around Neri. She looked troubled as well. But they followed Brett and Mera and the queen down to the shore. The sun was sinking towards the water but the sky above was still blue. Charley breached beneath the sun, and another whale rolled in the water closer in. Neri and Mera looked at each other and laughed.
“Now the virus is cured, Charley’s girlfriend came back. I will introduce you later, sister, mother.”
Mera nodded enthusiastically and the queen said, “I would like that.”
There was silence for a few minutes, broken only by the sound of the waves and their feet in the sand. The Shalamorn said, “My daughters... I must return to our planet. There is much to do. I would wish to have both of you with me, but I think that is not your wish. Neri...”
Neri smiled. “Thank you mother. I want to see the planet of my birth, and spend much time with you, but this is my home.”
“Then you will stay here until the day you must take up your inheritance as queen, if that day should come. It may be our people will choose another leader, or Mera will inherit.”
“Not yet!” Mera said quickly, “To rule is hard, and I am not ready. I just want to—be a kid for a while.”
“And so you shall.” Shalamorn said, and hugged her daughter.
Mera smiled a slightly wobbly smile. Suddenly Brett said, “Can I come with you? Like interplanetary student exchange. I’ll ask Mum. What do you say, your majesty?”
Jason and Neri lagged back as the other three continued down the beach. Brett was on his vidphone, and he casually slipped his free hand around Mera’s shoulders.
Neri was grinning. Jason stepped next to her, smiling and shaking his head. “Brett...”
“It is good to see my sister smile.”
“Neri, I...” Jason began.
“You are glad I stay, Jason?”
“What do you think?” Jason said, because there weren’t words for how glad he was.
Neri glanced out to sea. “Charley is happy.”
“Not as happy as me.”
“Or me.” Neri chimed, and they kissed, and stood together in the sunlight.
Why I went to all the trouble... season 4 just felt wrong. The characters’ reactions just felt off—Jason wasn’t mad enough when Praxis nearly killed his girlfriend, Ellie and Shersheba both went from really bad to not-so-bad way too quickly, and Shalamorn was supposed to be an all-loving, all-wise queen, but if you read what she actually says, she’s awful! “Do not question, obey.”?! Good freakin’ grief! And the real kicker was Shersheba’s “perhaps she talks to fish also” line.
Honestly, I’m not sure I improved on the show all that much. Ocean Girl doesn’t really lend itself to the written word—it’s hard to feel the emotions without the music and sights, but on the other hand I don’t have to stay within a budget re:the sets and special effects! How well I did... that’s up to you the reader to decide. I can only boast that I did my best, and managed to post a chapter a week, without any delays!
And for anyone who recognized “Agent Cooper,” yes that is a not-so-secret Torchwood reference. When I saw this season again a few months ago I realized Shelby = Jack Harkness, if Jack were a total… namby pamby mama’s boy! I laughed loud enough to scare the cat. Still can hardly look at Shelby without snickering. He is such a wannabe! I was terribly tempted to have Jack swanning around Orca and flirting with Winston—but that would have taken this story into the realms of crossover fanfic and out of the realm of serious novelization.
Special thanks to:
Savant, who gave season four to the world. This book was written from his tape and his scripts, and I couldn’t have done it without both of those.
Alana, for ideas, long talks, and for being the only person who commented. I don’t think I’d have finished this with nobody reading it.
And last and most, thanks to the creators of Neri—the writers, directors, and of course Marzena Godecki who loaned her beautiful face to the role. The spirit of Neri gave something to my life—enriched it or some word like that. My fanworks are my way of saying thanks, since I can’t make cookies for people on the other side of the world, much less a fictional character!
Novelization completed May 2008, by Judith Kenyon email@example.com