THE GREATER GOOD

Author: Allison McDonnell

Rating: PG-13 (coarse language)

Disclaimer: They're Amblin's and Universal's. Blah, blah, blah...

Feedback: You betcha! :)

Author's Notes: A huge thank you to Manuela for her beta-read and her extremely helpful suggestions.

Timeline: Post All About Eve

Summary: It's time to unfreeze Devon.

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"We made a terrible mistake when we came here... terrible."

"You have no chance here. We discovered the truth about this planet."

"You can't live here. The planet will reject you."

-- Elizabeth Anson, All About Eve

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Surely, awakening from cold-sleep should be more uncomfortable than this.

Devon had expected to feel some sort of pain; a pounding headache or aching limbs at the very least. But there was no discomfort at all. She'd assumed that her ears would be flooded with voices; the first, of course, would be Julia's as she diligently worked to revive her. Then, there would be an outpouring of jubilant cries from the members of Eden Advance as the doctor announced that the procedure was a resounding success. But there were no voices; no sounds at all except for the low, muffled beeping of a nearby console monitoring her life signs.

Devon could feel her senses sharpening as she slowly regained consciousness. She suddenly inhaled a full, sharp breath which came out as more of a gasp. She continued to pant wildly as she refilled her lungs, drinking in oxygen almost to the point of hyperventilation. Her eyes sprang open and she was shocked to find herself, not stretched out on a gurney, but still standing upright in the vertical, claustrophobic tube which served as her icy coffin. Instinctively, Devon placed her hand on the door and it swung open with very little effort.

She stood there motionless for several seconds, confused and alarmed by the scene in front of her. Bennett's ship was dark, save for about a dozen red and white equipment lights which were scattered along the walls. As Devon's eyes adjusted to the dimness, she inspected the room with the hope of seeing her friends and family gathered together to welcome her back to the land of the living. Another gasp escaped her throat as she made the horrifying realization that there was no one there to greet her.

But before her fear could get the best of her, she heard a quiet trill resonate throughout the room. She squinted in the near-darkness to view a lone Terrian stationed at the base of the ladder which led to the ship's exit. Devon wasted no time and left her tomb, experiencing a mild shiver as her bare feet came into contact with the metal floor. As she took her first step, she was startled when her foot brushed against an unknown object and looked down to see a small, handmade Terrian staff on the ground. She picked it up, briefly inspecting the item before setting it aside and resuming her journey toward the creature at the threshold.

"What's happened? Where are the others in my group? Where is my son?" she asked, trying not to appear as nervous as she felt.

The Terrian trilled again and directed his staff toward the ladder.

"They're outside?" she attempted to clarify, her voice shaking slightly.

The Terrian bowed his head and softly trilled. Taking the response to be a yes, Devon bounded the ladder leading out of the ship with renewed strength. As she climbed the rungs, she could hear a faint whooshing sound which continued to grow louder as she neared the door. She swung open the hatch and scrambled out of the vessel, receiving another shock when she realized that she was no longer in the same mountain range where Eden Advance had discovered Franklin Bennett's disabled craft. In fact, Bennett's ship had disappeared in its entirety with the notable exception of the porthole which curiously protruded upward from the floor. Now, Devon was standing in the middle of a large, open cavern. And to add to her confusion, this new place also seemed strangely familiar.

Another trill echoed behind her. She turned to address the Terrian and her world began to spin out of control as she experienced a mild lightheadedness which she had also become familiar with during her travels on G889.

"I'm on the Dreamplane," she whispered to no one in particular.

She took a few seconds to regain her equilibrium before addressing the creature. "Why have I been brought here?"

When the creature replied with only a stare, she tried again. "My son, is he all right? Please, please answer me," she pleaded, her tone increasingly urgent.

The Terrian lowered his head and pointed his staff toward the mouth of the cave. Recognizing that the being was attempting to shepherd her toward a specific place, Devon nodded her understanding and began to make her way out of the chamber. It wasn't long before the stone floor became a soft sand and the change in terrain caused her to look downward for the first time since she'd left the ship. She was astonished to discover that she was no longer clad in her bathrobe, but was now dressed in a white blouse, khaki pants and hiking boots, one of the outfits she'd worn while trekking across the continent.

The whooshing sound had become a thundering roar by the time she'd reached the cave's exit. As she rounded the final turn, her eyes bulged as her suspicions were confirmed as to where she was. A small laugh escaped her lips as she took in the astonishing beauty of the East coast ocean.

She was undaunted by a brief dizziness caused by the Dreamscape and ran full-speed down the beach and into the water just far enough to allow the waves to gently crash around her legs. Tears filled her eyes and she fell to her knees with a splash, overcome at how real the sensation was.

Just as she began to ponder the mystery of how and why her mind had been transported to this particular place, her attention was captured by a shape situated a few hundred yards away. The figure was tall, undoubtedly human, and seemed to be frozen in place, watching her intently.

"Danziger?" Devon called out, squinting into the blinding afternoon sun. "John, is that you?"

Upon hearing her voice, the figure began to walk briskly toward her. Devon charged out of the water and down the edge of the shoreline.

"I knew it was you!" she said, laughing and crying at the same time as they quickly closed the distance between them. She threw her arms around Danziger's neck while his arms encircled her waist, clutching each other tightly.

"It's so good to see you," she whispered, nearly out of breath.

"It's good to see you, too," he replied just as quietly.

As they embraced, Devon realized how unusual this behavior was for the two of them. Both generally shied away from physical contact unless, of course, it involved their children. And, although the idea of being held by John wasn't necessarily an unpleasant one, the fact that he chose this moment to do it was unsettling to her.

She loosened her grip and arched her head backward to observe him. She was surprised to see that he looked different somehow and she struggled to figure out how he had changed. After studying his features for a few moments, she realized that he looked older. Maybe not in his face, but in his eyes.

"How long have I been gone?" she asked pensively, a bit afraid to hear the answer.

He suddenly seemed to remember that he still had his arms locked around her waist and released his hold, taking an awkward step backward. "Thirty-four days," he divulged. Although his answer was nearly drowned out by the crashing waves, Devon immediately picked up on the sadness in his voice.

"And we're on the Dreamplane?"

"Yeah," he stated, motioning upward to a pair of Terrians watching them from their perch on a nearby ridge.

"This isn't the Dreamplane that I remember."

"Really?" he shrugged, raking the wind-blown hair out of his eyes. "Never been here before, so I don't know any different. The Diggers told me to picture a place where we could meet. This beach seemed to be as good a spot as any, I guess."

"It was a good choice," she nodded, briefly turning to gaze at the rolling surf. But, as beautiful as the surroundings were, she couldn't ignore the harsh reality of their situation. "So, I'm still in cold sleep," she sighed.

He gave her a reassuring smile. "No, not anymore," he announced. "Right now you're in surgery. In fact, you'll probably be waking up pretty soon."

A wave of relief washed over her and her eyes again began to glisten with tears. "Oh, thank God," she proclaimed. "What's wrong with me? Why did I get so sick?"

His smile faded away. "You don't have a bio-stat implant," he said. "But I guess you already knew that, didn't you?" His tone sounded too downcast to be an accusation.

Devon glanced away, feeling exposed and ashamed at the same time. "Yes. I realized it when I wasn't affected during the uplink to fix Eve." She veered her gaze back to his. "But what does that have to do with my illness?"

"Morgan was able to decrypt almost all of Elizabeth's medical files. Bennett's group wasn't just a simple research team-- they were Council operatives sent here with orders to do whatever it took to bring the planet under their rule," he disclosed, his expression and voice conveying his disgust. "They did some pretty horrible shit while they were here, too-- all of it government endorsed. Their final assignment was releasing some sort of toxin into G889's atmosphere, an airborne virus which was specifically designed to kill anyone without a neural implant. It was the Council's Ace in the hole that made it possible to monitor the goings on around here."

Devon listened with wide eyes as he continued, "That's when things changed for Bennett's group. Elizabeth's last couple of journal entries talk about how she and Bennett had some sort of moment of clarity when it came to the Council. The Terrians were also plenty pissed off by what they'd done and approached Bennett on the Dreamplane to let him know the long term effects of him poisoning the planet. Whatever they showed him musta been pretty damn awful because he became obsessed with trying to undo some of the damage he'd caused."

As Danziger spoke, Devon recalled Yale's horrified screams during his interface with the memory core in Franklin's CPU and wondered if perhaps the cyborg's visions of settlements being destroyed and people dying were actually Bennett's Dreamscape memories of the future of G889.

Meanwhile, Danziger continued, "Anyway, the best that Bennett could come up with was unleashing another virus-- this time infecting Eve in order to break her control of the planet. Eve couldn't stop him from doin' it, but she sure as hell could punish Bennett and his team by crashing their ship and trapping them here on the surface."

He shook his head and scoffed. "It's no wonder that Franklin and Elizabeth were so upset when they woke up planetside. Turns out that they didn't have implants either. They didn't die from cold sleep poisoning. They ended up being done in by their own creation. Poetic justice, if you ask me."

Devon was momentarily dumbstruck as she absorbed Danziger's explanation. Finally, she asked, "But I've been here for almost six months. Why did it take so long for me to get sick?"

He shrugged. "That we're not so sure about. Could be that it's a slow acting virus. Maybe it's dormant during the colder months and we recirculated it into the air when Bess made Spring. Maybe there's a higher concentration of the stuff near the ship. Who the hell knows?" he speculated, roughly scratching at the stubble on his chin. "Anyhow, givin' you a chip should cure you, so that's what we're doing."

She eyed him quizzically. "So, you were able to salvage Eben's implant?"

"No, it was too damaged," he said absently, his gaze momentarily focused on the sun as it moved across the sky at an accelerated pace. His voice grew more serious. "Look, Devon, we don't have a lot of time here and there are some things you need to know."

Devon's stomach clenched in concern as she observed his solemn expression. "Something terrible has happened, hasn't it? That's why you're here," she exclaimed. "Is it Uly?"

"Uly's fine. He misses you. So does everyone else," he said ruefully, glimpsing downward for a moment before remeeting her eyes. "I'm here because I wanted to talk to you before you wake up." He swallowed hard and his face became even more grim. "You need to prepare yourself for what's to come. There's gonna be some tough times ahead for you and Eden Project. But you have to keep moving forward, no matter how hard it is. Do you understand?"

Danziger's cryptic warning caused alarm bells to sound off in Devon's head. His words were made all the more disturbing by her sudden awareness that the daylight was already beginning to wane. She looked over John's shoulder to view the sun rapidly sinking behind the ridge. It made her feel like time was indeed slipping away.

"No, I don't understand. What's going on? What's so important that you had to tell me on the Dreamplane instead of just waiting to tell me in person?"

His eyes again nose-dived to the ground. "Everyone'll fill you in once you're strong, again," he said in a gravelly voice. "Just remember that, what I did, I did for all of us. It's not just about you or the other members of Eden Advance anymore. I did this for everyone that's gonna live here. It's the best chance that we have."

Devon knew that something was very, very wrong. She lunged forward and grabbed Danziger by the lapels of his Ops jacket. "What have you done, John?" she asked emphatically, shaking him. "Stop talking in riddles and tell me what's happened!"

He roughly seized her by the shoulders. "Listen to me!" he demanded, leaning in until they were almost nose to nose. "You have to be ready, Devon. You have to be there when the colony ship arrives. Without you, we lose. I'm not sure how or why, but we lose. I couldn't let that happen, so I made a choice. It was mine and only mine to make, so don't go blamin' Julia or 'Lonz or anyone else. And especially don't go blamin' yourself, okay?"

"What-" she halted abruptly when she was overcome by a sudden onslaught of nausea. "Something's wrong. Oh, God, I think-," she paused to bring her hand to her mouth, "I think I'm going to be sick."

Danziger held her steady when her knees began to wobble. "You're okay. The Doc's probably starting to bring you around. Don't fight it," he informed her. A bittersweet smile crossed his lips as he took her back into his arms and pulled her against his chest. "You need to wake up now. They're waiting for you."

"You're coming, too, right?" she asked, her thoughts becoming hazy as the scenery began to whirl around her.

"Not just yet," he murmured. He bent his head down and gently kissed her brow before letting her go. "Good-bye, Devon," he whispered, his voice quivering as he backed away.

"Good-bye?" she parroted, startled by his words and the unexpected loss of physical contact. She reached out to latch onto him in an effort to remain upright, but ended up tumbling headfirst into the sand. She looked up in bewilderment to see that, not only had it become nightfall, but Danziger had disappeared without a trace. Panic-stricken, Devon's eyes searched the shoreline for him without success. Even his footprints had been washed away by the tide.

She staggered to her feet and nearly collapsed again. "Danziger! Wait!" she hollered, struggling to maintain her balance. "Where are you?"

The overlapping sounds of crashing waves, Terrian trills and her own pounding heart echoed endlessly in Devon's head as she drunkenly stumbled in the dark surroundings. The beach which she had originally considered to be a warm, inviting place, now made her feel as isolated as she'd been since before Uly was born.

At last, she spotted a flash of movement in the distance. Although it was only a shadow, Devon knew with absolute certainty that it was John. She raced after him as fast as her body would allow, all the while shouting his name. If he heard her cries, he made no effort to acknowledge them and continued his crusade toward the same cavern which Devon had originally emerged from. By the time she'd reached the entrance, Danziger had again vanished from her line of sight.

Devon immediately began tottering through the narrow, web-laden passageway, but her vertigo forced her to stop several times in order to dry heave. When she finally made it back to the vast chamber, she was just in time to witness Danziger slowly climbing into Bennett's ship located about twenty-five feet away.

His lower body was already wedged into the portal when Devon called out to him, "Danziger! Stop!"

The mechanic was momentarily paralyzed, looking surprised but seemingly pleased to see her there. He remained rooted in place for a few seconds-- watching her, studying her, memorizing her. And, in those moments of stillness, Devon realized in horror the choice that Danziger had made.

"No, John! No!" she yelled, hurling herself in his direction. "You can't! I won't let you do this!"

Danziger fully realized that his plan had progressed well beyond the point of no return and there was no way that Devon could put a stop to it. But it was imperative to him that she knew that he had no regrets about his actions. Devon had to understand that what he had given, he'd given willingly. In his mind and in his heart, this was something which John felt that he had to do, both for Devon and for the Eden Project. But especially for Devon.

Danziger's expression was a complex mix of resolve, tenderness and acceptance as he gave her a final nod. He then calmly reached above his head and pulled the hatch closed.

"No!" Devon screamed, losing her balance and toppling to the ground. No longer possessing the ability to stand on her own, she frantically crawled the final few feet to the ship's porthole. She arrived just as John secured the interior lock, barring her entry to the ship.

"Dammit, Danziger! You open this hatch right now!" she ordered, furiously slamming her fists against the metal door. "I mean it, John! Open the door!"

She halted her attack on the porthole when she heard several muted, clanging sounds. She desperately hoped that John had come to his senses and was in the process of unfastening the bolt. However, her optimism evolved into dread when she realized that the noise was actually Danziger descending the ladder leading back to the main room of the vessel.

"Oh, God, John! Please, please stop what you're doing," Devon begged, her voice growing hoarse from her screams. "I don't want this! There's got to be another way! John!"

Her pleas were cut short when her head, neck and upper chest were besieged by sharp, ebbing jolts similar to electrical shocks. Her body began to jerk wildly as the powerful current surged through her. She tried her best to cry out, but could only muster an agonized moan as she crumpled to the stone floor.

"No," she whispered as she lapsed into unconsciousness.

_____

The first thing that entered Devon's waking mind was that she'd never imagined that muscles could ache so much. Her head was throbbing in pain and she was still experiencing a residual dizziness. She was also chilled to the bone and insanely wondered why no one had thought to cover her with a thermal blanket.

Devon could hear voices, too. First there was Julia as she praised Bess, Yale and Baines for their invaluable assistance during the surgery. She went on to announce that, although there were a few rough spots during the fifteen hour operation, it had been a complete success and she expected a full recovery. Devon was surprised to hear the crew take the good news in a decidedly more somber fashion than she had expected. She wasn't sure, but she swore that she could hear at least one person crying softly.

Devon felt as though her eyelids had been saddled with lead weights, but she finally managed to force them open. At the same time, she took in a large gulp of air, sending the nearby group into a frenzied state as they rushed to her bedside.

"Mom!" Uly cried happily, diving forward and flinging his arms around her.

Devon tried to return the gesture, but lacked the energy to lift her arms. "Uly," she mumbled, her voice sounding like her mouth was full of marbles.

Yale stepped forward, giving his former charge a reassuring smile before gently pulling her son back to stand next to him.

Julia's face came into view, greeting her with bloodshot, relief-filled eyes. "Devon, lie very still, okay? Don't try to talk. Just keep taking deep, even breaths," she instructed as she hurriedly scanned her with the Diaglove. "I want you to blink twice if you understand me."

After Devon did as she was told, the physician said, "Good. Blink twice for me if you're in pain."

The leader's eyes relayed her discomfort and Julia wasted no time and administered a pain block into her neck. The medicine's result was immediate and Devon's aches were replaced with a warm, numbing sensation.

"Were you on the Dreamplane?" Julia asked. "Were you able to speak with John?"

Devon blinked her answer. "Good, I'm glad," the doctor nodded, unable to mask the sadness in her face and voice. "It was important to him that he see you one more time."

She completed her examination and removed the Diaglove from her arm. "You're going to be fine," she relayed, setting the equipment on a nearby tray. "Your body's just adjusting to its new implant." She briefly hesitated to reconsider her choice of words. "Or, I guess the better explanation would be that the implant is adjusting to its new body."

"There might also be some side effects from the koba poison," Bess added.

Devon's eyes narrowed in confusion, prompting Julia to explain, "We knew that, in your weakened condition, you wouldn't survive a long, invasive surgery. And introducing a bio-chip into your system was an extremely delicate procedure. In order for me to work, I needed several of your major organs to stop functioning."

"Plus, the neural implants have a fail-safe mechanism which precludes anyone from attempting to tamper or remove them by causing irreparable harm to its host," Yale furthered. "A small dosage of koba venom solved all of our problems."

"We figured that we couldn't kill you if you were already dead," Alonzo said, trying his best to smile.

Julia could see that Devon was becoming increasingly upset by the conversation and comfortingly placed her hand on her shoulder. "We'll talk more about this later, okay? Right now, you need to get some rest and start rebuilding your strength."

As the physician, along with Yale's assistance, began to gently usher the rest of the crew out of Bennett's ship, Devon's head flopped to the side and she searched the room with frightened, distraught eyes. She craned her neck to look beyond the sympathetic faces of her friends and family to view True standing by herself at the base of the cold sleep chamber located directly behind them. The little girl's forehead was pressed against the misty glass and Devon could hear her sniffled cries as she studied the features of its occupant.

Through the sheer force of her will, Devon gathered enough strength to raise and outstretch her hand in the direction of the crypt, holding it there for several seconds.

"John," she croaked out, exhausted as her hand fell limply back to her side.

___________

This was Devon's first trip back to Bennett's ship. Julia had wisely removed her from the craft as soon as her vital signs had stabilized, hoping to spare her the agony of bearing witness to Danziger's lifeless body entombed only a few feet from her sickbed. Instead, she'd been allowed to recuperate in the comfort of her own tent which she shared with Uly and now True, the newest member of her family. Those first few days, as her physical wounds continued to heal, Devon spoke very little. However, she listened to the others as they relayed the emotional turmoil which had come close to breaking them apart during her five week absence.

They'd recounted their appeals to the Terrians to heal her and the creatures' response that, although they would take the necessary steps to ensure that future generations born on the planet would be immune to the Council's virus, saving an adult already stricken down by the disease was beyond their capabilities. So, at Danziger's urging, the group had decided to continue onward to New Pacifica with the agreement that they would return for Devon after the Jamestown had arrived and an implant could be constructed from their new supplies.

But the Terrians had interceded, stopping them before they could leave. Alonzo was shown a terrifying vision of the likely future of humanity on G889, the same vision which Bennett had been shown fifty years earlier after he and his Council advance team had defiled the planet. However, Alonzo's forewarning had included one small but extremely critical detail that made all of the difference in the world-- the possibility that it could be prevented from happening. According to the Terrians, the group had the ability to alter their foreboding future if they could somehow find a way to return Devon to her prior health and to her vital role as the leader of Eden Project before the colony ship reached its destination.

The crew had frantically searched for a way to cure her, but was unable to discover a viable solution. That is, until Danziger made the alarming suggestion selflessly offering himself as a donor. The arguments over his proposal had been heated, especially the ones between John and Julia, who'd initially refused to perform the transplant. It was only after every alternative option had been exhausted and Morgan had suggested the use of koba poison that Julia was finally persuaded to go through with the procedure.

And now here Devon was, nine days later, sitting on an uncomfortable metal chair in a darkened Venus-class starship, staring into the cryogenic module which housed the man who she'd once thought of as an adversary, but who she now considered to be among her closest allies... perhaps even closer than that. Her eyes drifted to the nearby equipment to verify that the cryotube was in working order. There weren't any brain waves or biorhythms for the machines to monitor. Thanks to the koba venom, Danziger had been pronounced clinically dead before Julia had begun the operation to extract his implant.

Devon's gaze returned to the mechanic and she studied the faded, oft-patched shirt and trousers which they'd been forced to clothe him in when they were unable to locate a bathrobe large enough to fit his burly frame. He looked paler than she could ever remember seeing him. His head was slumped forward and several wisps of dirty-blond hair partially shrouded his closed eyes. Those same curls, along with white gauze, successfully concealed the surgical staples placed in the back of his neck. Involuntarily, Devon reached up under her own hair to trace the line of the three inch scar forming on her skin where the vertical incision had been made.

She took a deep, shuddering breath before speaking to his inert form. "I, I don't even know where to begin, John. How to thank you for what you've done. How to tell you what's in my heart." Her eyes fell downward and she paused to swallow the lump forming in her throat. "I'm not sure that there are words for what I'm feeling right now."

Her gaze remained trained on her shoes as she continued, "The others told me everything. I know all about the Terrian's premonition that, if you'd left without me, the entire mission would have eventually failed. They described a future to Alonzo that was... horrible."

She lifted her eyes and searched his expressionless face, her voice raising slightly. "I don't know exactly what went wrong. But what I do know is that none of it was your fault. You did everything that I asked of you, John. You took care of Uly and kept the group together. You made it to New Pacifica. You built the colony from scratch and made sure that everything was ready in time for the arrival of the Jamestown."

Devon let out a pained sigh. "But it wasn't enough. The colonists didn't trust you or the Terrians. Maybe they were blinded by their prejudices or their fear of the unknown. Maybe there were more Council plants on board who sought to undermine your authority. Maybe it was all of the above. But, for whatever reason, you couldn't convince them to let the Terrians heal their children. By the time I'd rejoined you, it was too late and the damage had been done. The colonists ended up rejecting the planet. And, ultimately, the planet rejected them, and us, too."

She rose to her feet and walked to the chamber. "So, what did you do? You changed the future," she exclaimed, shaking her head in amazement. "Julia told me about how she and the others fought you tooth and nail about this, this... sacrifice that you insisted on making. I can almost hear you yelling at everyone in that pushy way of yours, refusing to give an inch. Justifying your decision by saying that the obligation fell on you because you were the one left in charge. That you couldn't stand back and allow someone else to give up their implant along with two years of their life. That there were no guarantees that whoever went under the knife would even survive the first surgery to remove the chip or the second one to replace it."

Devon's voice was becoming strained as the words continued to pour out of her. "I heard all about how you divided up your responsibilities to the group. You made Julia and Alonzo co-leaders of Eden Project until I'm well enough to retake control. Bess is helping me take care of Uly and True until then, too. You put Walman and Magus in charge of the vehicles. You left very specific instructions with Yale about looking after me and making sure that I don't push myself too hard. You even had the Terrians transport us to the Dreamplane so you could tell me good-bye in person." Tears began to well in her eyes. "You thought of everything, didn't you? Everything and everyone," she choked out, her tone deflated. "Everyone but yourself."

She leaned forward, setting her head against the cool glass, whispering, "God, this is so like you, isn't it, John? Putting everybody else's needs before your own. Deciding that your life isn't as important. That we'll be just fine without you around."

She exhaled a disheartened breath. "There aren't too many things that I'm sure of anymore. But one thing I'm absolutely positive about is that the world is a better place with you in it." The edges of her mouth crept upward to form a small smile. "It's certainly a louder place, but it's a better place."

Her smile evaporated as she lightly smacked the chamber with her open palm. "A part of me is so angry with you right now that I want to break down this door so I can wring your neck. Another part of me is so grateful to you that I want to..." Her voice trailed off, overwhelmed by her grief as well as other, more complicated feelings which were best left unexplored for the time being.

Devon reigned in her emotions and took a step backward. She squared her shoulders and raised her chin, outwardly displaying a renewed sense of confidence despite her lingering weakness.

"Things are going to be different now," she pledged, brushing the tears away with her fingertips. "I'll do whatever it takes to make sure that the Terrian's prophecy doesn't come true. We'll be prepared for the colony ship and for the problems that come with it. And, after the Syndrome children are healed, Julia's first priority will be getting you a new implant. One day in the not too distant future, you'll be standing next to me on a different beach-- the one in New Pacifica. We'll be together again-" she paused and snorted, "-and then I'm going to strangle you with my bare hands."

Devon was stopped from disclosing any of her other prospective plans for Danziger by the sound of approaching footsteps. She wiped another tear from her cheek before turning to see True standing behind her, her eyes longingly staring up at her father.

"Devon?" the child beckoned with a shaky voice. "Walman says that we're ready to head out."

Devon nodded her acknowledgment, but didn't attempt to retreat from her position. Instead, she rotated back to John, her face openly displaying her heartbreak. True's expression mirrored Devon's as she grabbed the nearby chair and dragged it across the floor until it was situated directly next to her at the cryotube. The little girl then carefully climbed onto the seat and stood up to her full height, putting her at eye-level with Danziger. She edged forward and kissed the glass.

"Good-bye for now, Daddy," she whispered sadly. "I love you and I'll see you real soon, okay?"

As much as Devon and True's aching hearts begged for them to remain with John, they knew that they had to accept the fact that nothing could be done for him at the moment. There was no other choice but to leave him behind and recommence their long journey to New Pacifica.

True stepped down from the chair and delicately set the furniture against a neighboring wall. As she did so, the corner of her eye caught a glimpse of red fabric hidden in the shadows of a nearby countertop. She immediately recognized it as the child-sized Terrian staff which had been tossed aside days earlier when Devon had been removed from her cryotube. True picked up the item and gently dusted it off as she made her way back to the chamber. She exchanged another grief-stricken look with Devon before sliding the staff into the door handle of her father's tomb.

Devon could feel the sting of tears reforming in her eyes, but made the conscious decision to suppress her sobs before they could be allowed to reach the surface. Right now, she had to remain strong-- not just for True and for the other members of Eden Project, but for John Danziger. They were counting on her... and she wasn't going to let any of them down.

She reached out and touched the glass a final time. "I promise that I'll come back for you, John," she vowed, her tone exuding both anguish and determination at the same time. "I promise that I'm going to make things right."

After another few moments of silence, Devon reluctantly tore her gaze away from the cryocrypt. She took True by the hand and they turned to begin their slow processional out of the craft. They simultaneously tightened their grip on each other as they walked into the brilliant morning sun.

The End