"You have done nothing but exploit and abuse us for our powers," Mera said, standing in front of the eleven men and women that made up the council of elders. "Not only have you strived to advance our powers for your own selfish gains, you have impregnated both of us in order to try and ensure that will always be Chosens to exploit.
"No more. I am leaving for Earth and taking Neri with me. I don't ever want to hear from you people again."
She turned on her heel and left the chamber, ignoring the yells coming from behind her.
She broke into a run for the spacecraft that Neri was already aboard and that was ready for their departure.
"Lift off now," she told the pilot as soon as she entered.
"Yes, Chosen," the woman, who was one of the two who had volunteered for the job, said.
"Please make all speed to Earth," Mera said as she headed to the back of the spaceship to where Neri would be laying.
"Hey," she said, brushing hair back from Neri's forehead. "We're lifting off now."
Wonderful," Neri said weakly, opening her eyes momentarily before closing them again.
Mera sighed before sitting down on her own bunk.
Ten days later, they entered orbit around Earth.
"Thank you so much," Mera said to the two pilots that had worked night and day to get the pair home.
"It was our pleasure, Chosen. Are you sure you will be all right?"
"I'll go search for our family tomorrow."
"We'll stay in orbit for a few days. Let us know if you need anything," the woman said, handing a communicator to Mera.
A minute later the spacecraft lifted off, leaving Neri and Mera on their island.
She had left Neri leaning against a tree while she said goodbye to the pilots.
"Come on Neri," she said, helping her sister stand.
"You really go search tomorrow?"
"Why not now?"
"It's far too late, Neri. Besides, we need to relax."
They walked slowly toward the inland lake, only to be stunned when they saw a house sitting only a few hundred meters from the edge.
"Is it mother?" Neri asked softly.
"I can't tell. Stay here, I'll go check it out."
The back of the house was facing the lake so Mera snuck quietly around the side to the front.
She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Jason and Brett sitting on the porch doing homework and listening to music.
"Jason?" she called out.
"Mera? You're back?" he said, slipping the headphones off and standing up as Brett did the same.
"I left her on the other side of the lake. We've had a really rough couple of months and she's in pretty bad shape."
"Show me," Jason said quickly.
"I'll wake Mom up," Brett said, heading into the house as Jason followed Mera off the porch.
"Are you all right?" he asked as they walked around the side of the house.
"I'm in better shape than Neri is, but even so…"
"They just wanted us for our powers. Even though they did help us advance what we can do, they cared more for what we could do for them than who we were, or what we wanted," Mera said quietly.
They were both silent for a moment as they kept walking.
"How long have you been here?" Mera asked.
"Umm, about six months. Mom is still working on the dictionary, we've just got all the equipment set up here now."
"Is she still working for ORCA?"
"No, she found another non-profit sponsor that allows her to work here on the island and give reports to them about once a month."
"She's right over here," Mera said quietly.
Jason gasped when he saw the much too skinny Neri.
"Hey there," he said when Neri opened her eyes, kneeling next to her.
"Hello. It is great to see you."
"I wish I could say the same. You look horrible."
"Put your arms around my neck," Jason said.
Neri did and Jason picked her up.
They walked back around the lake and house quickly.
Dianne and Brett were anxiously waiting for them on the porch.
"Hey there," Dianne said, hugging Mera hard.
Mera buried her head in Dianne's shoulder as Jason set Neri down on a chair.
Mera finally broke down, sobbing as Dianne held her.
"Hey," she said, holding Mera and just letting her work out what she needed to.
When Mera finally let Dianne go, she noticed they were the last ones there.
"Thank you," she said as Dianne handed her a Kleenex.
"That's what I'm here for," Dianne said with a small smile as they sat down. "Do you want to tell me what happened?"
"Jason and Brett should hear this too."
"I think Neri is going to tell them."
"All right. This past year was a nightmare. It started out all right, but two months after arriving, they stopped caring about us as people and started exploiting us for our powers.
"I think Neri felt the same way I did, that if we didn't do what they asked, we would be letting the memory of our mother down.
"It umm reached a climax last month when one of the doctors and the council of elders decided that two Chosens were not enough.
"So both Neri and I are about a month pregnant. After finding out what they did to us, I conspired with several people I could trust to keep it secret and made plans to leave.
"Neri's had it much harder than I have. She's tried to shelter me from some of those 'jobs' we were forced to do, but I know what they were.
"I'm worried about her."
"So am I," Jason said as he came out onto the porch, with Brett right behind him. "She gave us sort of a short version before she fell asleep."
"How could you let them take advantage of you like that?" Brett asked.
"It didn't occur to me just how bad they were using us until just a few weeks before they impregnated us. I started fighting them and so did Neri. Maybe they thought pregnancy would settle us down or something."
"How long are your people pregnant for?" Dianne asked.
"About seven Earth months."
Dianne sighed. "Do you want to keep it?"
"Of course. I might not have asked for it, but I certainly don't think it would be right to terminate it."
"Will people come after you?" Jason asked.
"I don't think so. Our people are relatively reasonable. I think they'll realize that they blew their chance for our help."
"Good. It's going to be difficult enough around here with the two of you pregnant to a day."
Mera sighed. "I
know. I'm worried Neri might lose hers."
"Hopefully with a few days of rest and good food she'll gain some weight and not be in such danger."
"I hope you're right."
Two months later, Mera was already starting to show, surprising everyone since Neri was still flat-stomached.
They had already found a midwife willing to move to the island for the duration of their pregnancies and Maria thought Mera might be carrying twins, but she explained that there was really no way to be sure until later.
Six months later, Neri settled down into one of the two rocking chairs kept on the porch for her and Mera, wearing a long sleeveless white dress that was supposed to go to her ankles but with her stomach getting so big, it only reached her knees.
It was one of the hottest days of the summer, and she was certainly feeling it as she tried to walk around.
With only a few days left until the birth, at least according to Maria, who checked both her and Mera every day, Neri was finding it more and more difficult to get around, though Mera was having more trouble, it having been confirmed that she was indeed carrying twins.
Jason had been extremely supportive of her and they had started dating each other, even if only on the island.
Both Neri and Mera had renewed their friendship with Jali, but it had become more and more difficult to move around for both of them and they had had to give up swimming until their children were born.
Jason and Brett had been teaching Neri to read in the evenings and even though she was learning quickly she didn't spend a lot of her free time reading.
Mera walked onto the porch and sat down in her own chair with a groan, a book of names in hand.
"Uhh, why is it so hard just to walk?" she asked.
"Mother thinks it is to keep us off our feet."
"Yeah, well that's hardly convenient."
"Any names yet?"
"I've got a few. I want something unusual, but human. What about you?"
"I think I will wait until it is born."
"That's one way to go."
Maria opened the door and came out onto the porch then. "Hi, I'm going swimming. Want to join me? You guys look pretty uncomfortable."
Mera and Neri looked at each other and Mera smiled. "That sounds great."
"I'll tell Dianne that we're going swimming while you two change."
She helped the pair stand up and followed them back into the house, stopping at the door right inside and knocking.
"Come in," came the call.
"Hey," Maria said, opening the door. "Neri, Mera and I are going swimming. Are you interested in joining us?"
"Of course," Dianne said, pushing her chair back from the table. "I could use a break."
Five minutes later they started walking over to the lake. Neri and Mera had stopped being able to fit into their dresses several months before, so Dianne had taken them bikini shopping since there was no way of knowing how much weight the pair would gain, they went for bikinis instead of maternity one-pieces. Mera's was a dark blue, while Neri's was a dark green.
Mera dived right in when they reached the lake, and Neri was right behind her.
Dianne spread a few towels out on a flat stretch of ground before joining them and Maria.
"Good idea," she said to Maria.
"They looked pretty uncomfortable, so I figured a swim would help them relax. They're both ready to deliver any minute now."
"Yeah, this morning when I checked Neri was a 2 cm and Mera was at 3. I don't know that it will happen today, but certainly within the next couple of days."
"This is wonderful," Mera said, popping up next to the pair.
"I guess we'll have to do this more," Dianne said with a grin.
That evening Mera woke up all of a sudden as pain tore through her body from a contraction ran through her.
"Oh god," she whispered as her water broke and the pain intensified. "Neri," she called out. "Neri, wake up."
"What is it?"
"I'm in labor. My water just broke."
"Would I lie about that?"
That woke Neri up really quick. She got out of bed and walked over to Mera's.
"Try and relax. I will get help."
Mera tried to get comfortable but nothing felt right and she gave up as another contraction hit her, closing her eyes as the pain felt like it would tear her in half.
"Hey," Dianne said, sitting down next to her on the bed and grabbing her hand. "Breathe."
When the contraction passed a minute later, she cracked open an eye. "It hurts so much."
"I know honey. I wanted to save the two of you from having to go through labor."
Mera wasn't surprised to see Jason and Neri sitting on the other bed as a soft knock came at the door.
Maria opened the door slightly and slipped in. "Hi. Do you mind if I turn on the light?"
"Go ahead," Mera said.
Mera winced at the bright light but didn't say anything.
"Let me just check you quick. Are you wearing underwear?"
"Umm, no," Mera said, blushing.
"That's all right," Maria said, patting Mera's knee and lifting the sheet that was still covering Mera up to her chest, pulling the far end out from under the mattress so that she was still with some modesty.
"Wow. You're already at 9 cm," she said as she covered Mera back up. "I've got a couple things to get ready quick before you get too much farther."
Mera nodded her understanding as another contraction hit, holding on to Dianne's hand hard.
"Oh god," Neri said all of a sudden, clutching her stomach and grabbing Jason's hand. "I think my water just broke."
Maria's head whipped around from her preparations as Jason helped Neri lay down.
"Oh no," she said.
"If need be, Maria, I can help," Dianne said.
"Ok," Maria nodded. "Let me check you Neri," she said moving over to where Neri was laying with Jason holding her hand, obviously in pain.
"Well, you're only at eight, so you've got a little bit to go, Neri," Maria said as she covered Neri up with a sheet, obviously trying to figure out what was going to have to happen. "I guess we'll have to just have to take what comes as it does," she muttered as she finished her preparations.
"Oh god," Mera said as another contraction hit. "I've got to push."
Maria rushed over and helped Mera and Dianne grab Mera's legs. "Go ahead.'
It only took three pushes to get the first baby out. "Congratulations, it's a girl," she said.
Mera didn't have much time to rest though as another contraction hit her almost immediately.
Maria wrapped the first baby up and laid her down in one of the three bassinets already waiting for the babies.
"How are you doing Neri?"
"Not too good."
"Will you be all right for a minute?" Maria asked Mera, covering her back up.
"I don't think this one is coming for a minute. Go ahead."
Maria checked Neri and raised her eyebrows. "You're there. Ready to push?"
Neri winced, but nodded. Jason grabbed one leg and Neri the other and after seven pushes, Neri's daughter was born.
Maria quickly moved back over to Mera after wrapping the second girl up and handing her to Neri.
"Do you have a name for her?" Jason gently asked Neri, who was leaning heavily against his shoulder.
"Cassia," Neri said quietly, gently pushing back the blanket from Cassia's face and revealing red hair and light green eyes.
"Thank you," Neri said as Mera groaned.
"You ready to push again?" Maria asked Mera after pulling the sheet covering her back up over her legs.
"I'm tired," Mera said softly.
"You can rest as soon as this one's born, honey," Dianne said softly.
"It is so hard to, though."
"You've got to try though, hon. Jason, can you take a look at her first one
and make sure she's all right?"
"Of course," Jason answered as he laid Neri down, taking Cassia from her, and gently laying her down in another bassinet before picking Mera's daughter up.
"At the next contraction start pushing, all right?"
Mera nodded and grabbed one leg while Dianne grabbed the other and after ten pushes: "Congratulations Mera, it's another girl."
Maria wrapped her up and handed her to Mera before taking the first one out of Jason's hands to check on her and handing her to Dianne.
"Do you have names?" Dianne asked softly as she compared the twins, she was holding the larger of the two who had light brown hair, and blue eyes, and Mera was holding one with black hair and brown eyes.
Mera nodded. "You're holding Danae and I'm holding Alaqua."
"Wow, where did you find those names?" Maria asked as she cleaned up the after-birth and placentas.
"Just in that book of names."
"Did you know that aqua means water in Spanish?" Jason asked as he picked Cassia back up and sat down next to Neri.
"No, I just thought it was a really pretty name."
"We should change those sheets before you two go to sleep. Are you up to a little walking?"
"I'm exhausted," Mera admitted. "I don't think I can stand up."
"I do not think I can either," Neri admitted, still leaning heavily on Jason.
"It's all right," Dianne said, putting Danae down in a bassinet and taking Alaqua from Mera and putting her into another bassinet. "Put your arms around my neck. I'll carry you."
Mera did and Dianne carried her over to one of the two rocking chairs sitting near the bassinets as Jason did the same for Neri.
"You know, I just realized something," Jason said after setting Neri down. "We didn't wake Brett up."
"Well, I'm not going to bed for a little while, and it's almost time for him to wake up for school, so I'll let him know," Dianne said, glancing at her watch as she stripped sheets off the beds. "Can you go get some clean ones please, Jason?"
It was another twenty minutes before Neri and Mera were back in bed and sound asleep. All three babies were cleaned, fed, diapered and clothed before falling asleep in their bassinets.
Dianne gently closed the door behind her, Jason and Maria.
"Man, what a night," Jason said with a yawn, covering his mouth.
"I'll call your school before I go to bed so you don't have to go this morning," Dianne said with a yawn of her own. "I can't believe they both delivered within minutes of each other."
"Me either," Maria said, leaning against the wall. "I was afraid something like that might happen."
"Thank you so much for your help."
"It was my pleasure. It was the chance of a lifetime. You don't owe me anything for this."
"I'll give you something," Dianne said.
"I'm going to stick around tomorrow and then I'll leave Sunday, all right?"
"Sure, that sounds fine."
"I think I'll head to bed then," Maria said. "Congratulations."
"Good night," Dianne said softly before heading to the kitchen and sitting down at the table, where Jason joined her.
"I figured you'd be heading to bed too," she said.
"Strangely enough, I'm too excited."
Dianne grinned. "That's the way you should feel honey, that is if you really love Neri."
"Morning," Brett said with a yawn as he came into the kitchen, before he took a good look at the pair. "Man you two are pretty awake."
"We've been up for a few hours," Dianne admitted. "Jason, you tell him what happened, I'll make some coffee."
"What's going on?" Brett asked as he sat down.
"Thanks Mom," Jason said, rolling his eyes before turning back to Brett. "Neri and Mera both went into labor last night. You have three nieces as of about oh, half an hour ago."
"And you didn't wake me up?"
"There wasn't anything you could have done except wait, so I figured we would let you sleep," Dianne said.
"I guess I can say thank you, then. So, what are their names?"
"Neri named her daughter Cassia, and Mera named hers Alaqua and Danae. Thankfully, none of them look alike or I think we would have a real problem."
Dianne nodded. "Cassia has red hair and green eyes, Alaqua has black hair and brown eyes, and Danae has light brown hair and blue eyes."
"That makes it easier at least."
The next few months were centered around the newest members of the Bates family as Jason and Neri got closer and closer and finally got married a couple years later. Brett and Mera were married a few years after that.
Author's note: I might expand on this later with something about people from PO returning for the girls and their daughters, but right now, I've got too much on my plate as it is. Sorry!