"Children of the Blue"
22. Nuovo Inizio
Even if the days,
When I smiled a lot,
Should turn out,
To be nothing but a lovely dream,
That would be alright with me,
If that's all it means…
--"Love Taught Me"
The storm of Blue covered the wasteland plains for as far as the eye could see.
They had battered down the walls of Elysium. The gun turrets were all either smashed or had fallen silent when their ammunition had run dry.
The torn and shredded bodies of the bastard creations of Professor Gorski littered the Community Dome. All of the self-proclaimed "Children of the Blue" had met their fate either at the hands of Yuji's followers or under the crushing weight of nature's fiercest fury, the Blue.
The massive leg of a Double Boat crunched the silver canister better known as a "Blue Call." The mimicked biomagnetic signal emanating from the invention was silenced.
One door remained…
Marlene held on to Yuji, despite the fact that his pulse was gone and no breath drew from his still body. The reality of it—the finality of it—was difficult to accept.
Captain Junker held an assault rifle.
He shook his head in sadness. Yet he knew to save some of the sadness for his own soul because the only other exit out of the Great Hall was now completely sealed behind a pile of molten shrike and still-steaming gore from Gorski's final mutation.
There were no more exits. No more grand escapes.
The bulkhead buckled as the Blue in the Community Dome rammed against it. A few more heavy strokes and it would fall.
Marlene's watery eyes stayed locked on Yuji's closed lids as she spoke to her son: "Takashi…you…need…to go hide…maybe the Blue won't—Takashi?"
She looked up. Her son was not where he had been standing. She glanced around and finally spied him. He was climbing down from the head table and returning in their direction.
He was holding something.
Junker could see the tip of a Chopper mandible cutting through the upper edge of the door.
"Captain Junker," Takashi stood alongside the older gentleman. "Could you please put this into my daddy please?"
The Captain looked closer. The boy was holding a syringe that was half full of some liquid.
Marlene didn't know what to say.
"Takashi," she stumbled. "Your father is dead…there's nothing we can—"
"What is that?" Junker wanted to know of the syringe.
The boy answered, plainly: "It's me. It's Eb-o-lew-shun"
Marlene thought she could explain: "That's Gorski's binding agent with your DNA, isn't that so? That's what he just injected himself with," she spat the words, "that's what turned him into a bigger monster than before…"
Takashi urged: "Captain Junker, please put this in my daddy. There's not much time."
Marlene wasn't sure if he meant they didn't have much time until the Blue came in…or something else.
"That turned the Professor into a monster," Marlene stated.
Takashi interrupted her: "He wasn't daddy. Please," he had a look on his face that said why are you grown ups being so stupid?
The Captain took the syringe and looked to Marlene for guidance. She sniffled and nodded her head.
The bulkhead bent inward. Not quite a big enough hole for the Blue to crawl through, but any second now…
Captain Junker stuck the syringe into Yuji's dead arm and emptied the contents.
Marlene wasn't sure what she was seeing. Yuji's skin—the skin around the hole in his gut—began to flutter. Then it…it reached out. Strands…reaching across the wound toward the other side.
Her mind returned to when they had first arrived at the complex. When they had seen the Professor send a Blue into Takashi's playroom. On their way down to see Takashi, the Professor had said something…
"Your son has a physical constitution like no other…when he hits adolescence his genes will unleash incredible regenerative powers… Inside, outside—against illness and even significant physical injury… That alone will reduce his dependence on medical science."
The blood that had poured from Yuji's body did not retreat—it had already been spilled. But the wound began to heal itself.
The skin from all sides latched and began weaving together like a seamstress sewing a tear in a shirt. Marlene reached underneath and felt the exit wound on Yuji's back. It too was mending.
"What—what is this?" Marlene stammered. "This turned Gorski into a—"
The bulkhead was nearly toppled.
"I didn't come from him," Takashi pointed out, as if he were the adult explaining something so simple to the child. "He wasn't the right fit."
Yuji did not move. He had no pulse. He was not breathing.
Marlene pushed away the blood on top of the wound and saw…skin. As if there had never been a wound. Ever.
"Well I'll be damned," was all Captain Junker could say.
"Mommy," Takashi said. "You have to bring daddy back."
She gaped at her son.
Takashi looked frustrated and told her: "Help him breath, mommy."
It took Marlene a moment but she understood. She leaned over and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Yuji coughed blood.
His chest heaved. His eyes shot open. He cried out in pain and held his gut.
"Yuji? Yuji!" Marlene hugged him.
"Oh man," he said. He was too weak to do more than sit up. "What…what happened?"
The bulkhead burst inward and crumpled to the floor. The Blue began to flood in like a torrent of water through a burst dam.
Captain Junker said: "Well, at least I lived long enough to see a miracle."
Marlene eyed the closing enemy then squeezed Yuji's head.
"I'm sorry…I'm sorry that you came back to this…"
Yuji was in no shape to comprehend what was going on. It was enough for him to understand that he was alive, but he was alive with a pain in his belly and a fuzzy head.
The ground shook as the Blue filled the Great Hall from wall to wall and advanced toward the survivors.
Captain Junker momentarily raised his rifle. He had a full clip. But he might as well have had no ammunition at all.
He looked at the weapon and thought: I've lived my life with one of these in my hands. I think I'd like to die without it.
He tossed the rifle aside.
Marlene kissed Yuji on the head as she said: "Takashi…don't watch…look away…look—"
The shaking of the ground stopped.
Marlene saw that Takashi was no longer nearby. She turned and saw where her son had gone.
The boy was standing a few feet closer to the line of Blue, his back to Marlene and Junker. That approaching line had stopped…right in front of him.
The room was full of hundreds of mankind's most horrid enemy…but they were standing still. And there was a silence in that room that was thunderous.
That silence was broken by a child's giggle.
Takashi turned to face his mother. He had an amused smile on his face.
He told her: "They think we're weird looking…isn't that funny?"
Yuji was holding his head. He was alive but still trying to gain his senses.
Captain Junker didn't know what to think or do so he did nothing at all. He watched.
Marlene started, "Takashi..?"
The boy returned his attention to the line of Blue but spoke to the humans in the room.
"They'll be going now. They're all finished."
Then the Blue did just that. They turned about and returned in the direction they had come. They marched out orderly and quickly.
As they left, Takashi Kaido waved goodbye.
Captain Junker and Marlene finished the job. It was not a pleasant job, but it was a job they had to do. They were compelled to do.
Outside of the eastern gate to the redoubt stood four crosses made of wood. Those crosses had names inscribed on them.
Pistol Jones, Gunther Gerhardt, Darren Moss and—fittingly next to Darren—Denise Karr.
The first two memorials stood above mounds of unearthed dirt where they had placed the remains. The other two were above undisturbed soil.
Takashi and Yuji appeared through the smashed-open gate. Yuji was walking with a crutch they had found in the medical center. His legs were fine but the pain in the mid section of his body was acute. The crutch helped take away some of the weight and lessen the ache.
He was going to recover fully…it was just going to take some time.
"Mommy, what are those? What are you doing?"
Marlene realized that even though Takashi had taught them so much about the future of humankind that they—his parents—had much yet to teach him.
"We're saying goodbye," Marlene told her son. "Each cross is for the friends we lost while we were trying to come save you."
Yuji chimed in: "These people didn't need to come. They wanted to, because they cared about you. They wanted to help."
Marlene added: "They were part of our family."
The adults couldn't help but remember there were many more crosses back at the village, including one over Bo Fuentes.
Takashi stepped forward toward the markers and said, "Thank you."
Then he turned away.
"They were good people," Captain Junker offered. "This is going to be hard when we get back. Pistol had kids, you know."
Captain Junker put a gentle hand on top of Pistol Jones' cross and spoke: "You weren't so bad, for an Arkansas boy."
Most of the group walked away and returned to the inside of the walls.
Marlene removed her battle-scarred green upper body armor. She hoped she would never need it again.
She stepped toward Gunther's marker, then placed the gear against the base of that cross.
"For you, Gunther. We'll never forget. I will never forget."
The launch catapult and most of the vehicles had been completely wrecked: the Blue had come to the redoubt with the intent of total destruction and, for all purposes, had done just that.
Yet Captain Junker found an air ship that was in workable condition. The group then loaded it with as many supplies as they could take and topped off the fuel tanks until they were virtually overfilling.
They slept in that transport over night then, at dawn the next morning, the air ship gently lifted from the tarmac and climbed high into a beautiful day's sky.
Captain Junker was at the controls. The other three emerged from the cargo hold area and walked along the passenger aisle.
Marlene stopped then sat in one of the seats near the rear. Her two boys noticed her absence and returned to her. Yuji kneeled in the center aisle at her feet (he was feeling much better and didn't need the crutch).
Marlene did not seem happy.
"What is it? What is it Marlene?"
She didn't want to speak but Yuji's questioning face compelled her.
Marlene Angel told her husband: "It's just that…all this is over now…and the only thing…the only thing I learned is that I'm really good at being a soldier and killing. I'm afraid of that part of me that's inside…the brutality. It's like I have another person in me. Like you and the b-cells."
Yuji shook his head.
"You're wrong," he told her, calmly. "It wasn't by accident that you and I met, Marlene. Takashi comes from us—both of us. He's more than the b-cells combining with human genes…he's my b-cells with you."
"I've seen your strength and your will to fight. But I've also seen your heart and your compassion," Yuji was in awe of her as he spoke. "That's what you've given to our son, Marlene. You aren't two people; you're one complete person who can do so much. And you were a part of the will of the Earth, too. It had to be you. Only you. No one else. You are the mother of the next evolution of man."
He paused to let that sink in, then told her: "And that's why I love you so much. That's why I've always loved you…from the beginning."
They kissed gently and then their son threw his arms around them both.
A voice came from the front of the transport.
"Um…I hate to break things up back there," Captain Junker said. "Especially to tell you something you already know…"
Yuji led the family forward, toward the control panel and pilots' seats.
Junker completed his thought: "…we don't have anywhere near enough fuel to get all the way back to the village."
Yuji looked beyond the windshield at the journey ahead.
He told the old soldier, "That's okay, Cap. We'll get there eventually. Besides, it's a big world out there…"
Marlene sat in the co-pilot's seat. Takashi jumped onto her lap for a better view.
Marlene Angel added, "And it's about time we saw more of it."
Captain Junker nodded and held a steady course.
Yuji Kaido knelt alongside the co-pilot's seat and threw an arm around his wife and son. Together they gazed with anticipation toward the heavens stretched before them.
The air ship sailed for the horizon over peaceful clouds and under a clear sky of blue.
May 25, 2004