Neri awoke the same way she always does, in her tree nest overlooking her beautiful island. Of course she loved that the boys had built her the cabin, but to her there was nothing like sleeping up in her nest. Among nature and under the stars.
She heard Charley's call and made for the beach. Slowly through the trees its majesty is revealed. The perfect white sand hot under foot. The sparkling blue water erupts as Charley's massive frame burst from below. A quick dash, dive, and she's gone. One with the forever blue.

Brett hovered over his older brother's sleeping body. Poking and prodding him to no end. "Jason...Jason...time to wake up." Brett kept on trying to wake him, but nothing worked. Then a rather mean thought popped into his head. Weighing the pros and cons for a moment, "HELEN, music please, anything available. Volume level 8."
The highly advanced computer took barley a second to fill the room with music, so loud it was impossible to determine what song it was. It may have been incomprehensible, but it did the job. Jason shot out of bed shouting, "HELEN turn that off, now!" The room went silent, except for Brett's laughter. He kept on laughing as Jason stood there dazed and confused.
"That was great. You should've seen the look on your face."
"Great...you think that was great?" Jason's face turned beat red. "I'll show you great!"
Brett barely had time to move as Jason leaped at him. "Calm down, it was only a joke". Jason jumped at him again. "Seriously calm down. I mean...yahh!"
Brett almost didn't reach the door in time to escape. Jason was right behind him as he fled down the corridor. At first Brett was just running, but then he got another idea. With a turn to the right he was no longer fleeing form Jason, but leading him.
"Better run faster Brett. He's catching up," Cass laughed at him as bolted past. Everybody else in the hall stopped to watch too. Seems nobody can resist watching a half-naked man chase a kid through the halls.

"Commander Bates, the status report you requested."
Diane took the pad and gave it a glance over, "thanks David". She was glad to know there was nothing unusual to report, but something had been nagging her of late. She was finding her command position a little boring. Reading status reports and descipling crewmembers wasn't her idea of a good time. She wished she had something to bury herself in again, like her whale research. They still had so much to learn, and with Neri it would only be a matter of time. In two months her term as commander would expire. Perhaps she would step down and go back to her research, perhaps.
"Commander there are multiple reports coming in of a disturbance in the corridors."
Diane looked at the officer puzzled, "what kind of disturbance?"
Before the officer could speak the answer burst into the room. Brett was able to stop himself, but Jason wasn't so lucky. He crashed into Brett's back, and sent them sprawling on the deck. When they finally came to Diane and Officer Danton were standing over them.
"Hi mom", the pair tried to sound as innocent as they could.
"What are you two doing?" said Diane
Brett explained the whole situation as fast as he could, and added as much blame to Jason as he could. Jason meanwhile finally realized what he'd done, and what or wasn't wearing. He stood there in front of the whole bridge crew like an officer, trying to mask his embarrassment with good posture. He failed miserably.
"That's quite enough Mr. Bates," Officer Danton snapped. "You've caused a bit of commotion today and you will have to face the consequences."
"My shore leave starts today," Jason reminded him. "Will this affect that?"
"Well I should certainly think."
"No", Diane interjected, "you use your vacation to relax."
"But Commander he must be penalized for this. Surely you must agree."
"When he gets back Jason will be on clean up duty for three weeks. Is that satisfactory Officer Danton?" He nodded in agreement. "Good, than you may leave Jason, and say hi to Neri for me."
"I will, and thanks".
Diane waited until Jason was gone before she turned back to Brett. "As for you, you'll be on clean up duty for the next month." Brett was going to complain but decided he better not. " And I hope you realize I expect more from you. Your seventeen, act your age, and leave Jason alone".

It was Charley who first noticed the small boat gliding over the water. Neri gave her rather friend a hug on the fin, and left. With the grace of a dolphin she crossed the distance to the boat. Jason saw her approach when she broke the surface only to dive back under again. It still impressed him how fast she could swim.
"Hello", Neri swam along side the boat.
Jason cut the power, "coming aboard or are you going to swim to the island?"
Neri dove back under the water, and with a powerful kick launched herself out of the water, and grabbed onto the side of the boat. Jason was quick to help her over the side, but they lost their balance and fell over. Neri landing on Jason.
"That was graceful", Jason laced the words with sarcasm.
Neri smiled.
"You don't come to ORCA enough anymore. I missed you."
"You don't come to island enough. Remember when we would spend all day together, with Brett."
Jason took Neri in his arms, "I remember, and I intend to spend a lot more time with you for now on". He kissed her passionately. "I love you."
Neri kissed him again. Their lips pressed tightly against each other's. Breaking the kiss she looked in to his deep blue eyes. "And I love you."

" I can't believe I got clean up duty for a month," Brett slumped into his chair. He'd been moaning about clean up duty and how bad it is for the past ten minutes. Cass and Winston finally stopped their work.
"You provoked Jason", Winston pointed out, "it is your own fault."
"Yeah, and you also exposed half the people on ORCA to your half-naked brother", Cass added. "Actually I'm sure the women weren't to upset."
Winston sighed, "never mind. Brett, you disrupted half of ORCA. Did you expect nothing to come of it? You were also foolish enough to take it to the bridge."
"I thought it would funny", Brett tried to defend himself. "Besides, isn't a whole month of clean up duty just a bit excessive?"
Cass and Winston shot him a look. "No!"

Neri and Jason arrived at the island in time for lunch. They sat around Neri's small cooking fire. Jason poked at the fire. His thoughts wandering, and on nothing in particular. Just old memories. " I can't believe it's been a month since I was here. Hard to believe we used to spend almost everyday together. We swam, explored, whatever. I miss that; I miss that a lot."
Neri moved next to him, putting her arms around him. "We're together now. We can swim, explore, whatever. I am happy."
Jason laughed, "Your right, and I am happy."
As they sat there together, not moving, not even talking, Jason was happy. Truly happy. He couldn't think of anything better than simply being with the woman he loved.

Jason pulled free of Neri's grip. He'd run out of air. He surfaced, took a deep breath, and dove back under the waves. The pair continued their journey. Neri had spent almost her whole life living around this reef, and she still found new things to amaze her. They watched as schools of fish swarmed around them, and a pair of rays glide away into the reef. Suddenly the school of fish broke apart, and went wild. Neri was able to pull Jason away to the surface in time to see all the birds on Neri's island fly away. They wasted no time getting back to the island.
"What was that about?" Jason sputtered.
"Noise. You cannot hear it?" Neri clasped her hands over her ears. "It gets louder."
"No, I don't--wait", Jason could hear something. It was a high pitched beep that wouldn't end. "I can hear it. Where's it coming from?"
The ground began to vibrate. It wasn't more than a subtle bounce, no quake. There was no way the sound could be natural. Then it dawned on Neri, the spaceship. The noise increased slightly as they neared the ship. She threw the hatch open. A brilliant, blinding light shot from the opening. Their eyes adjusted, they could see into the ship.
"I don't remember any lights", Jason was puzzled, "do you?"
"No". With that she dropped down into the ship.
Jason shrugged off his misgivings and followed her in. He gasped when his feet hit the water. It was ankle deep, fairly cold, and a definite shock. Once he stopped thinking about the cold Jason noticed how different the spaceship looked. The once seaweed covered metal had an eerie glow, like water reflecting light. When combined with the water it was enough to disorient Jason a tad. He had to press against the walls to keep from falling over. He felt a gap in the wall. "Neri, over here."
She came running and saw what he'd found. A door in the wall. It was perfectly blended into the metal. They tried to pry it open, but not a budge. Even Neri's incredible strength wouldn't move it in the least.
"That door", Jason said, "I don't remember it either."
"It was not there", she said flatly. Neri peered into the door hoping to see what lay beyond, but she could see nothing. Disappointed, but still curious Neri moved on. Together they search the whole of the upper level without finding anything new. The ship may have looked different, but it was still pretty much the same.
It finally came time to exlpore the lower level where Kal had been found. Neri had to wonder if she would find anything that exciting again. She doubted it. Finding Kal in the deep sleep was the kind of experiance that didn't happen often. Kal, the betrayer who had saved them all in the end. She pushed the toughts away. Too unpleasant to think about.
"I must go alone",Neri told Jason.
She pointed down the tube that lead to the lower level. It was flooded with water at the same height as on the floor. Jason understood he wouldn't bea able to his breath long enough to help. He watched Neri slide into the water filled tube, and disappear down it.
It was strange to swim in Neri thought to herself. The way the metal reflected the light along with the water made the whole place seem like it was liquid. She bumped into a few walls anbd the ceiling before she got her bareings. Once righted Neri searched the area as fast as possible. Ending with the room they had found Kal in.
The thoughts of Kal came rushing back, and wouldn't be pushed back. The amazment of when they found him asleep, the panic and sadness when he was lost, and then the betrayal. It hurt more than anything she had ever felt. Neri had always partly blamed herself for it. If she had paid more attention to him, and made more of an effort to teach him of life. Perhaps his innocense would not have been crushed by UBRI. Kal had redeemed himself when he saved the synchronium, but it was his fault it had been taken in the first place. The conflicting emotions coursed through her mind. She swam away, her tears merging with the water around her.
Neri had just gone into the tube when Jason noticed a flicker of light. Ignoring it for the moment he continued to wait, but it happened again. Backing into the main room, he saw another flicker. The light flickers came from the gap in the wall by the enterance. He watched the lights stutter a few more times until they stayed on.
Jason figured if the lights work maybe the door will open too. Seemed reasonable to him anyways. Putting all his muscle into it didn't help at all. The door still wouldn't budge. He tried again, but gave up quickly.
He decided if he couldn't open the door he could at least look through it. Beyond the door was actually nothing of much interest. Just a corridor with a lot of doors. Jason sighed slumping to the ground, and springing right back up. The water was almost two feet deep now. With being so distracted he hadn't even noticed the water was rising. He trudged through the water back to the tube, and waited.
The water continued to rise, and it was rising faster now. She's been down for over fifteen minutes. He could feel the water at his waist. Neri would be fine with the water, he knew that, but what was causing the flooding? He had sealed the crack a long time ago, and it had held until recently. What if it was something else? The ship might not be a safe place to be. He looked at his watch, eighteen minutes now.
The water suddenly began to rise extremly fast. A foot in not quite a minute. Jason decided they had better leave soon, and dove in after Neri. He met Neri at the botom of the tube. She looked like she'd been crying, but he brushed it off. Taking her arm he gestured up the tube. Neri nodded and swam up the tube, with Jason trailing behind.
Neri surfaced, and found the water was up to her neck. She looked around the room, and through the crystal clear water. Jason came up beind her, "I think we should leave."
"How did so much water get in?"
"I'm not sure, but it's flooding fast. We better get out of here. I don't think it's safe anymore."
The pair made their way to the exit through the water. Jason pulled himself up the rope, and out first. Neri stopped halfway up. She had seen the light coming from the gap in the wall. Letting go of the rope she went back to explore it.
"Neri come on!"
Like Jason she tried to open the door, but failed. She also looked inside, and saw nothing of interest. It was a huge disappointment to say the least, but at the same time very interesting. What could be behind those doors?
"Neri! Come on."
She climbed out of the ship, and onto solid ground again. She turned to Jason, "why did the water come?"
"I don't know, but the flooding might mean the ship's opened up. If it's cracked under stress the whole ship might collapse."
Neri wasn't totally convinced Jason was right. Why were there lights? Why was the gap in the wall there? Why would a hole in the ship do that? She wasn't sure, but she would find out.
"There might be a way to know if its safe or not", Jason continued. "We could ask Winston about it. He knows about this kind of thing."
Neri nodded in agreement. They would leave tomorrow morning for ORCA.

Neri couldn't sleep much that night. She laid awake in her nest staring up at the stars. The sky was so clear she could see everything. Including the star her home, the Ocean planet circled. It had been a long time since she'd had a restless night. Not since Malakat had been defeated had see been this distracted. The ship, and its lights were a mystery that needed to be solved. It was tempting to return to the ship again, but Jason wouldn't like that. He worried for her. She let the idea of going back slip away. She couldn't ; she wouldn't.
Neri wrapped Jason's arms around her and moved closer to him, resting her head on his chest. She could feel his warmth and hear his heart beating. He worried about her safety, and he loved her with all his heart. With his help she would discover this mystery.

"It's 0600 hours, Brett", HELEN's voice chimed, "time to wake up and get ready for work."
Brett fumbled out of bed and onto the floor. He crawled his way into the nearby shower stall. Brett was greeted with a nice refreshingly cold burst of water. Gahh, he adjusted the temp and relaxed as the water warmed up. All he could think of was how stupid clean up duty was, and how he could be doing something with Cass instead. Brett dressed and left.
Brett was suprised to find the mess hall empty. He'd never seen it this empty before. It was kind of spooky. He ordered his breakfast and sat down to eat. Eating alone in a large empty room, wasn't the nicest way to spend the morning.
"Mind if I join you?"
The voice startled him. It was Sheri Campbell, the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. Brett had noticed her before, but never really introduced himself. A war with a bunch of aliens can keep you busy, and he hadn't seen her since.
"Are you okay?"
Stuttering he replied, "yes...I mean no...I mean sure, sit down."
Bret watched her sit, brushing her long, black hair behind her ears. Her full lips part to take a bite out of her peach. "It's nice to have company for once. I'm usually all alone down here."
It took Brett a moment to snap out of it, "you always eat so early?"
"Yeah, I'm a cleaner so I have to get up early. usually I'm fine, but today I've got to look after some goof off kid. I don't need that. I'm a cleaner not a baby-sitter."
Brett went red with embaressment, "I'm not all that bad a guy you know." Brett had certainly caught her off guard with that revelation. "I look forward to working with you." It should be interesting.

Jason woke with Neri in his arms, sound asleep. He was glad she'd gotten some slepp instead of worrying about the spaceship. Deciding to let her sleep Jason carefully pulled away from her. He prepared a small breakfast for later on. When he was done he crawled back into the nest with Neri, and laid beside her.

Neri watched her mother and sister approach from the the great pyramid. She was filled with joy at the sight of her family, but it was swept away in a rush of flames. The fire erupted from the pyramid and rushed to meet her, stopping an inch before her. The face of Malakat appeared in the fire, laughing at her, then disappeared. It was replaced with another face, one she'd not seen before. The woman luaghed and mocked her. Saying how pitiful and helpless Neri is. The fire vanished in a puff of black smoke, the stench was overpowering. Coughing and hacking Neri fell to the ground. The air choking the life out of her. When the smoke lifted it revealed hundreds of people fighting each other. Swords clanging, and lightening bolts flying across the battlefield. Neri tried to stop the fight, only to be run through with a speare. Her eyes gone wide Neri collapsed, dead.
"Ahhh!", Neri's terror filled screams rang across her island. She shot up and tried to feel for the wound in her chest, but could not find it. She didn't realize it had been a nightmare. She didn't hear Jason's concern as she tried to find the wound.
"Neri, what's wrong", he stared at her, wondering what could frighten her so.
Neri began to think it hadn't actually happened. It must've been a dream. There was no hole in her chest, or smoke and fighting armies, but it had seemed so real. NBeri's arms shook as they wrapped around Jason. He tried his best to calm her, and reassure her it had been only a dream, but it hadn't. It was no dream, it was a vision of what was to come.
Jason decided to leave for ORCA quickly. It might give Neri some distraction from the vision. Jason was suprised that Neri could have dreamt something so horrible. It just didn't seem right coming from the most peaceful person he'd ever known. It must have been a vision, Neri's mind wasn't capable of such distructive thoughts.
Neri watched Charley break the surf along side the boat. He had sensed her fear, and came to see if she was good. Neri explained the vision as best she could, and Charley understood why it had frightened her, but not all of the imagery. He also reluctantly agrred to stay close to the island incase something unusual occured.

Back on the island sometime odd was happening. The inerior of the ship was draining at an unbelieveable rate. In minutes all of the water was gone, and the interior was completely clean. No dirt, seaweed, or anything remained.

HELEN greeted Neri and Jason as they entered the main lift, "hello Neri, Jason. It's nice to see you back on ORCA."
"Please tell mother I wish to see to see her", Neri said somberly. Since she'd had the vision her attitude had changed. She seemed depressed, but she'd faced threats before. Jason was curious why this was so different. What he didn't realize was that Neri had hoped to see the last of the fighting with her mother on the thrown of the Ocean planet. The idea that people still wanted to fight amde her sad. Sad for the people who had all that hate in them, that they had to fight.
Jason was glad he'd brought Neri's ORCA uniform when the door slide open. Nobody took a second look at them as they walked through ORCA. Diane met them in the halls and walked them to her quarters. She could see the sadness in Neri's face. Once inside the room Neri told her about her vision, and the spaceship.
"Oh, my dear", Daine huuged Neri close to her, "Are you absolutely sure about this vision". Neri nodded yes. "You've been through so much. When will it finally be over."
"As long as I am princess", Neri said, "never". She understood that her duties as princess and heiress to the thrown would keep her in the idle of all the conflict for her entire life. She might never truely be free so all the violence in the two worlds, but that would not stop her from trying to bring peace.
Jason decided a subject change was inorder. "About the space ship. Do you know of anyway to be sure it's safe?"
Diane had to about it think for a moment. "Yes, Winston will have a machine that tests for instabilities in the ocean floor. That might work, but you'll have to ask him for sure".
"Thank you mother", Neri said. She stood and looked at the woman she had once thought of as her one true mother. She still loved her like a mother, but she was not. Just another bit of confusing emotion lumped onto Neri's mind.
"Always glad to help. You know that."

Winston was very interested in Neri and Jason's news. He listened intensly to every detail of their story. "And mom said you could help us."
Winston was fascinated, "you don't know how or why it flooded, or how the lights came on. The door blending perfectly with the wall is also an interesting phenomenon. No indentation or any signs of an actual door even after it has been opened, and the way you describe the lights reflecting off the metal."
"Winston", Jason interputed.
"Oh yes, of course. I didn't mean to ramble on, but it is an interesting story. I think I can help. Go to storage shed 19B on beta level, and get my geo-survey equipment."
Winston handed Jason a piece of paper with a list of all the equipment he needed. Jason read the list and put it in his pocket. They waved good-bye, and left for storage shed 19B.

Bret was getting really bored. Three hours of mopping the halls and anyone would be bored out of their mind. Normally Brett would be saying some smart-alek comments about clean up duty, but he bit his tongue. He wasn't going to make himself look any worse in front of Sheri than he already had. The tought of her thinking he was a whinny kid who couldn't handle a little work didn't have much appeal.
He had done pretty well at keeping quiet too, until Cass showed up that is. She came by to heckle him about the clean up duty and such, but Brett was able to stay calm.
"Come on Brett. It's no fun if you don't fight back", it was only half true. Him fighting back only increased the fun level of the activity. "You used to be more fun than this. The verbal repartai, the whit and scathing humiliation of a good insult. Maybe your just losing your edge.
That was it, Brett finally snapped. He was about to unleash the ultimate insult when he was thrown off his feet. All of ORCA was rocking violently. The lights went offline, and power shut off in all non-major systems. HELEN's voice blasted in the halls, "tremor detected. Emergancy procedures initiated".
The lights came back on.
Brett got to his feet, a little shaken but fine. He could feel something warm on the back of his head. Running his hands across his scalp he could feel the blood. He must've smacked his head on the bulkhead. Sheri was helping Cass up off the floor when she noticed the odd look on Brett's face. "Are you okay?"
"I'm bleeding...,but I don't feel anything."
Sheri took a quick look at the abck of head. It was hard but she found the cut in the tangled hair. "It's nothing", she assured him, "but you'll need to get it patched up. Lets get down to the infirmary".

Neri lifted Jason off the floor. Neri tried to call to Charley , but she couldn't hear him if he was responding. She kept trying until he called back. He told her that after the big shake he went out to ocean. He didn't want to beach himself again. She thanked him for trying to help, and said bye.
"What was that?"
"Do not know, but is no time to learn. We must get equipment for Winston, and return to island."
Neri kept on heading for Delta level. Jason caught up to her. "Why didn't HELEN's early warning systems detect anything", he wondered. "What if Winston's fault is acting up again".