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As repair work continues on the Galaxy Galleria, Comorro remains adrift not far away. She has remained largely silent in the days since she announced that she was dying and that she would give birth to an infant Yaralu.
Tharsis is presently sitting in a folding chair beside, well, himself, staring out through the landing bay’s opening to Comorro floating beyond, his expression not wavering as he contemplates. The expression could be said to be one of shock, but a fair amount of sadness.
Kethren hops off the shuttle with a sad expression, and a sad looking calico ser on his shoulder. Coming up behind him is the perpetually cranky guard, Butch. Butch’s macrame is improving. It definitely looks more like an owl than an amorphous blob this time.
Jocaira, having stopped at REM’s temporary home on the Baile to suit up, exits a shuttle looking prepared for the best, the worst, and damn near everything in between. She is laden with medkits and an assortment of armaments intended on discouraging shenanigans and/or ‘salvage’ efforts. Her expression is not shocked and fairly grim.
Alastair Hall is seated at the edge of the landing bay, as close to Comorro as he can physically get. He’s clearly the worse for wear – his red coat smeared in various ichors, dark circles under his eyes from constant chemically-aided wakefulness, and his cybernetic leg is wrenched at an odd angle. The doctor is surrounded by various medical equipment, with tubes snaking across the distance to feed Comorro a steady drip of fluid. A hairless cat sleeps atop one of the warm machines, clearly unbothered by all of it.
James Sterling follows along behind Jocaira, similarly outfitted, though his gear is more toward the armament side than the medical side. He takes in the assemblage of people and whale with a neutral expression.
The voice of Comorro transmits over the general frequency: “The time…has come. I must make the final jump…to oblivion. But first, my thanks…to those who helped…bring us home. And Dr. Hall…for the comfort of these final days…”
Tharsis listens as Comorro sends her final sentiments, but for now, says little. Although his eyes, or at least his image of eyes, start to look a bit wet.
Kethren reaches up to gently scratch the ser on his shoulder, and nods to the others before looking back out at Comorro.
“…allo, mon diable,” Joca says, padding over to Alastair and piling all of the assorted extra medical supplies near his chair. “From our med tent, ehn? We get extra.” She pinches the bridge of her nose and clears her throat. Must be some kind of fumes in here or something. Ahrrrm. The armor plating whirs away from her hand, and she reaches to rest it on the doctor’s shoulder.
Alastair Hall forages through his pockets until he finds a handful of variously-colored pills, which he swallows without hesitation. He clenches his teeth for a moment, then lurches forward and shakes his cane across the way at Comrorro. “I went into research medicine so I wouldn’t have to deal with situations like this!” He shouts, doing his best to mask sadness with anger. “…damn you.”
Sterling stands at a surprisingly (for him) proper parade rest a respectful distance from Doctor Hall and Comorro. “Thanks fer havin’ us, C’morro,” he says quietly.
The voice of Comorro transmits over the general frequency: “Also…an introduction is required.” Slowly, from the docking hub of Comorro emerges a much smaller version of herself – unblemished, unscorched, unbroken, but also unfamiliar with its surroundings. “My son…Morronek. Watch over him. Keep him from harm…until he is of an age…to defend himself.”
“You can count on it, Comorro.” Tharsis says. “Least we can do in return for all you gave us.” He says it, not really concerned with if the old whale can hear him or not.
Kethren nods sadly “Of course.”
Jocaira makes a subvocal noise of concern at Alastair, raking her teeth across her bottom lip. She takes a careful step to be just close enough to ensure that the doctor remains supported by his chair, seeing as his leg is clearly not doing so and his cane is otherwise occupied being shaken in rage. It takes a small, raspy moment before she finds a steadied voice. “But of course, Madame Comorreaux. As promised, we will look aftair. Is sere anysing you can tell, while you still can, about what ‘e will need? We ‘ave made ready both safe water and safe space, and ‘ave gathered much of se organic material.” She clears her throat, awkwardly. “…aaah, ‘allo, leetle Morronek…”
Alastair Hall sighs, and flops back in his chair. He shades his eyes with his palm, and doesn’t look up at Joca.
Sterling watches intently as the smaller Yaralu emerges. “Morronek,” he repeats. “Can it, er, he, understand what we say? Yer the only, er, one like you I ever met, C’morro, so…” He trails off, possibly more awkwardly than his boss.
“Time and patience,” Comorro replies over the general frequency. “It will take him time to…learn to…communicate. When he is ready…he will let you know. He…will welcome you aboard. When he is ready. And…then…he can learn more.”
Tharsis nods slowly. “Much like I was.. in the beginning.” he says quietly, more to himself than anything.
Kethren smiles faintly “Look forward to getting to know him.”
Jocaira says, “Je sais, mon diable,” Joca murmurs, quietly, not looking at or overly fussing over Alastair, just… being there. Stubbornly being there, but at least quietly. “Oui, Madame…” Again, she rakes her teeth over her lip. “…’opefully se poor little guy will tell us what ‘e needs to eat and where ‘e needs to sleep… Maaaybe too big to be comfortable in se water? Monsieur Kethren, we ‘ave airspace waiting by Monsieur Galactix for se leetle one, yes? Merde, I do not know about… very big tiny whale babies.””
“My gratitude again, for…bringing us home,” Comorro says. “It has been…a pleasure…meeting so many interesting souls…in my journeys.” With that, her thrusters flare to life and she starts accelerating – sluggishly, at first – toward faster-than-light drive activation velocity.”
Tharsis looks a bit surprised. “Where… where is she going?” Quickly he does a scan of his nav charts to see if there’s anything along her current course vector.
“He’s gonna … let people live on ‘im too?” Sterling’s gaze is still on Morronek. “I thought that was an odd thing fer, er, you folks t’do.” He frowns as Comorro activates her thrusters, opening his mouth as if to speak, but closing it again.
Alastair sluggishly attempts to rise to his feet, his mechanical leg giving out under him. He grabs onto Jocaira’s arm unsteadily, and then bows towards Comorro. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to live in symbiosis with you for these few years.” He says softly. “I am sorry that it could not continue longer.”
Kethren nods to Joca “I’ve already arranged, as if it was necessary, for normal traffic to give Galactix a wide berth.” The shoulder mounted calico just chitters sadly.
Sensors will show that Comorro is aimed vaguely toward Hekayt Prime. But those familiar with her physical condition may surmise that she is liable to tear herself apart once she breaks the light-speed barrier. “Goodbye,” she says over the general frequency. Blue light coruscates along her hull and then, in a flash, she vanishes from view.
“Kaoha, Madame Comorreaux,” Joca says, bracing herself so that she can hold Alastair up. “Kaoha.” Both a greeting and farewell, in a tongue likely elsewise lost to time.
Sterling stares silently at the spot where Comorro vanished, straightening into a not-entirely-intentional attention pose.
Tharsis frowns a bit as he watches Comorro disappear into what very well could be oblivion, and says nothing. His gaze is just transfixed upon where she disappeared for several moments. It’s then he speaks up. “I have to admit… she was a friendly port in the storm.”
Alastair sinks back down into his chair, and gropes at the computer console next to him, finally managing to locate the ‘off’ switch. He wipes the back of his hand across his eyes, and sighs. “Well.” He says grudgingly. “I think I need to get wasted, and then sleep for a week.” The hairless cat hops down from the device, and rolls on its back, batting paws at one of the now-floating tubes.
Kethren stares out at where Comorro was “Goodbye…” The calico on his shoulder sits up a bit straighter, and offers a sad wave goodbye.
Morronek fires thrusters briefly, maneuvering to drift alongside the Galleria.
“…she put up wis us, and she fought well,” Joca says, simply, once again pinching the bridge of her nose. Ahrrm. She leans her hip against Alastair’s chair. “We got place on se Baile, mon diable. Good medical facilitie, good supply. You tell me what you need, and you will get, darling.” She clears her throat again, brushing her hand, feather-gentle over his shoulders before padding carefully closer to where the ‘little’ fellow drifts. After some considerable pondering, and a gamut of ‘fish out of water’ expressions, she offers, “Allo, leetle fellow… maybe you can understand, maybe can not, but we are going to take care of you, okay?”
Sterling reverts to his more typical slouchy stance and shifts his attention back to the newborn Yaralu. “How d’we tell ‘im where’s home?”
“That’s assuming he even knows the concept of communication at this point…” Tharsis says. “But I do have some linguistic skills. If he can speak up maybe we can get some translation going, though it’s a long shot… I don’t think I’ve ever heard Comorro speak in her true tongue.”
Kethren glances at Tharsis “Worth a shot.” before nodding to Joca.
Jocaira returns the nod to Kethren, before offering Alastair a careful squeeze around the shoulders. “You will ‘ave very nice vacacion, darling. We get you nice suite in se One Tree, se room service, it will be good. No more work for you, we take care of everysing until you are rested.” Tharsis gets a one-shouldered shrug. “Worth se try, yes. Se Madame say it would take a while for ‘im to learn to communicate. Probably ‘earing sings is a way ‘e can learn? Like… to teach any baby ‘ow to talk?”
James Sterling says, “Sounds like egghead work t’me.”
“I’m willing to give it a shot. I intend to be here a while so I’ll send some random, and hopefully soothing, transmissions to the little fellow and see if I get any response.” Tharsis says. “It could take a while..”
“A suite in a Tree? From one endosymbiotic macro-organism to another, then.” Alastair rubs his hand against his thigh, and moves the foot on his cybernetic leg in a jerky, twitching fashion. Blue sparks sizzle from the knee joint, startling the cat. “I am also going to need a new leg. Again.”
Kethren starts to say something to the doc, but just shakes his head and chuckles “Eh, it’s true enough, really. Anyway, if you need a new leg made, I’m sure Aina’d be willing.”
“Well, we can go to se Nu Auberge if you prefer, but I trust se medical facilities on se Baile better, non? But yes, se Capitan Aina can make fix for you, like Monsieur Kethren say.” Joca says, ‘casually’ dipping her shoulder on the off chance the doc would like to use it as support. “And sey make a local liqueur sat I sink you will enjoy.” She looks over at the now-snoozing Yaralu-bebe, lips pursing in thought. “Hnn. Monsieur Kethren, you sink maybe Monsieur Galactix can come and meet se leetle Moronnek when ‘e wake up? Sen we can make maybe a little ‘erding to se proper space?”
Sterling nods sagely, his eyelids drooping. “Sure’n there’s enough brainpower t’make sure the little fella gets set up right,” he declares. He gives Joca a half-lidded look and a faint smile. “I’m headed back t’the boat.”
“Wherever is fine.” Alastair says, sounding exhausted. He struggles back to his feet for the second or third time tonight, and leans heavily on his cane. “I am going drag myself somewhere dark and quiet and collapse.”
Kethren nods to Joca “Yeah, I imagine we can arrange something on those lines. Certainly a better idea than hoping he just wanders into a Baile orbit.”
Jocaira nods to James, neatly and subtly stepping to make sure she’s there for the doc to collapse at. “Iiii, am going to stay on se Baile tonight; mon loup, I will call you in se morning. Come on, Doctair, let’s get you to bed, ehn?” She leans a little closer to murmur, “Je suis heureux que vous etes en vie, mon diable,” before gesturing at Keth to hail them a shuttle.
“Enjoy,” Sterling grunts, turning and walking back toward where the shuttles land, calling for one of his own.