Disclaimer: Earth 2 and all related elements, characters and indicia are trademarks of Amblin Entertainment/Universal © 1995. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations—save those created by the authors for use solely on this website—are copyright Amblin Entertainment/Universal © 1995.
The courier looked nervous. In fact, he was nervous, and he had every right to be. He had never been in 47G before, it was a hell of a lot more upscale than the section of the Stations where his unit was located. Potted plants, the real thing, not synthetics, lined the carpeted corridor lit by rows of small soft lights set into the ceiling. The doors were spaced far apart, and he could only guess at the size of the quarters beyond. Even the air smelled fresh, as if it didn't come from the same refining and circulation systems as the rest of the Station.
He rang the bell, shifting his weight from foot to foot as he waited for some kind of answer. He was surprised when the door opened, and an older woman appeared, her white hair swept up in a neat chignon, blue eyes clear and the mind behind them bright and alert as she looked him over. Her scrutiny made the poor Level 2 acutely uncomfortable, and he fairly blushed.
"Can I help you, young man?"
"Yes ma'am. I mean, I'm here to help you ma'am." Somehow he had gotten himself all turned around, and shook his head slightly as if to clear it. He held out an envelope. "I was instructed to deliver this to a Ms. Heller?"
"Well, you've completed your mission admirably then." She accepted the envelope, and waited for him to say something. When he didn't, she closed the door, and opened the sealed packet.
A data chip fell into her palm. Frowning, Jennifer Heller walked over to her terminal and slipped the chip into the drive.
Information scrolled across her screen... and the words slowed, and finally stopped. Jennifer gasped, and sank into the chair, the hand she raised to her mouth in shock shaking as she read the words her daughter had written a lifetime ago.
The screen beeped as she reached the end of the page. The names of the attached files blinked, waiting for her to open them, but she didn't see the screen. Though her eyes were fastened on it, her mind was halfway across the universe, and her heart struggled to follow it.
Sheila Willis paced. Since arriving, she had seen these four walls and nothing else, and it was starting to make her a little stir crazy. Port Authority had locked the returning colonists and crew up tight, like bugs in jars. They said it was decontamination purposes. Willis knew that was the party line, there had not been one drop of news on the 'Nets about their return, and somehow she had a feeling there never would be.
Not if the Council had anything to say about it.
The door beeped, and then slid aside, revealing a slim woman, her face barely lined with the years her eyes spoke of. There was enough of a family resemblance to make Sheila smile.
"Ms. Heller, I presume. I must be pretty important to rate a member of the Board of Regents."
"I haven't been that in decades, Ms. Willis. And this visit is of a personal nature. May I come in?"
"My cell is your cell, by all means," Sheila made a sweeping gesture, and tried not to look stricken when the door hissed shut once again.
"They told me that you asked for me by name, and that it was you who carried the data chip from the planet."
"I didn't know if they would give it to you."
"I am surprised they did. But then, two generations have passed since I was on the Board. Things are very different now."
"They don't seem that different from my end, I'm afraid. From my point of view, the Council tried to blow me up two weeks ago. It takes a little getting used to, realising it's actually been almost fifty years."
"Yes. It does at that." Jennifer Heller stood, back ramrod straight, not a silver hair out of place, and started at the blank wall of the detainment centre cell as if it held the answers to the mysteries of the universe. "Do you have any idea how old I am, Ms. Willis?"
"No, ma'am, I can only guess."
"I am ninety-four years old. That is without the benefit of cold-sleep runs. I lived every second of those years. I'd like to think that they made me wise. Vanity aside, it may just be that I am an old fool. I lost my daughter long before she set foot on that ship. I never really had her. I thought I did, but... well, the time for regrets is long past."
Sheila remained silent, knowing there was nothing she could possibly say right now. There were simply no words.
"You will be released tomorrow. You all will."
"You seem pretty confident of that, ma'am."
"I may not have the power I once did, but I do still know where all the bodies are buried." Jennifer Heller smiled grimly, and straightened her shoulders. She started for the door, and then stopped, slowly turning back to face the pilot. There was an uncertainty, a fragility in those ice blue eyes now that Sheila had not seen before.
"You saw her, spoke to her. Please, was she... was my daughter happy?"
Sheila grinned, and she could see the waves of relief wash through the woman even before she spoke. "Yes, ma'am. She sure seemed to be."
Heller's smile was genuine then, and melted away the sorrow of fifty years. "She deserved to be happy. She deserved so much. So much more..." she shook her head, and keyed the door.
This time when the door slid shut, it wasn't the final, chilling sound it had been. Tomorrow would be interesting, Sheila decided as she lay down on the padded bench that doubled for her bed. Definitely interesting.
Alonzo Solace rolled over in his sleep, and his hand reached out to close on empty space. His eyes flickered open as he stroked the warm sheets where Julia had lay, and he sat up, running his fingers through brown hair now touched with grey at the temples.
She stood at the window, light from the moons edging her nightgown and hair with silver. He padded over to her side on stocking feet and slipped his arms around his waist, following her gaze to the stars above.
She shook her head, her long braid swinging with the gentle movement, and he kissed her temple.
"Today's the day, isn't it."
"Mum?" a child's voice broke through their reverie, and Julia turned to see twelve year old Adrian Solace-Heller rubbing his eye with a fist, framed in the doorway.
"Hey kiddo, it's past your bedtime." Alonzo tousled his son's dark hair. "Jamie's coming tomorrow, you want to be awake to see your sister, don't you?"
The boy nodded, and Julia bent down to kiss his forehead. "Off to bed, we'll come in a minute to tuck you in."
"Will you tell me a story?"
"I'm going to tell you a very special story," Julia promised. "About your grandma."
The boy scampered back to his room, and Julia smiled. "He has her eyes. I wish she could see us. I wish she could know..."
"She does. She's your mother. She knows." Alonzo kissed her softly, and she hugged him tight.
In her quarters, Jennifer Heller looked out at the silent stars, and a single tears traced a path down her pale cheek. "I love you, Julia," she whispered, touching the cold glass. Twenty two light years away, her daughter smiled in her sleep.
ljc's earth 2 fan fiction