Summary: The chaotic and troubled thoughts buzzing round Jason's head in those bleak hours when it seems like Neri is dead.
Disclaimer: Ocean Girl/Odyssey and all associated characters, places, institutions and ideas are the property of Jonathon M. Schiff. This story is just my interpretation on what was going through Jason's head during this emotional part of season four, inspired by the fact that I just bought the series on season 4 and rediscovered my love of this awesome programme I used to watch when I was a kid.
When the Moon Vanishes the Forest Falls Silent
I don't remember much about my grandmother. She died when I was about six and she was just this weird old lady my mum and dad used to drag me and Brett along to see every few months or so. The main thing that I do remember about her though was the fact that she always used to tell me that a person never knows how much somebody really means to them until that person is gone.
Back then I never understood what she meant so I just shoved the memory to the back of my mind and forgot about it.
I do now though.
Looking down at her still body, lying so still on the bed, skin mottled and swollen, her chest still bearing testament to the bitter truth of what had happened. It no longer rose and fell as she breathed because she wasn't breathing anymore. Her heart was still, I'd felt for her pulse a few minutes ago and there was nothing. No sign of life in the one person who had always been so vibrantly alive and well, so full of love for life and everything around her.
She was dead. PRAXIS had killed her. They'd taken her away from us and strapped her down on a laboratory table away from water, away from the sun, away from the things that she needed to keep her alive and they had poisoned her with new drugs that barely even worked successfully on humans, let alone someone from another planet.
They had treated her like she was scum, like she was an animal that they could do what they wanted with her. To them, she wasn't a human being; she wasn't a girl with hopes, dreams and feelings, someone with rights that couldn't be ignored.
To them she was just an alien. Heck, not even that. What was it that Agent Shelby had referred to her as, the Extraterrestrial Biological Entity? So just because she came from another planet, just because she wasn't one of us, she wasn't even a person, just a thing.
I don't understand how they could do to her what they did! Neri never hurt anyone in her entire life. She cherished life, strove to look after everything in sea and she saved people! Not just my mum and people like her who got into trouble, but people who would do her harm given the chance. People like Dr. Hellegren and Shersheba. Helping someone else was the whole reason why she was captured in the first place. If Neri hadn't of gone back to help Hauser then we could have got away. We could have found somewhere to hide until my Dad got here and then we could have escaped, Neri could have reached the ocean and then it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack for PRAXIS to find her.
I just can't understand how they could do this! It's just inhumane! It's disgusting! Repulsive!
She was just a girl.
Just an innocent girl caught up in something too big for most people to understand.
I reached out to touch her face, stroking the line of her cheekbones gently as I tried to fight the tears welling up in my eyes. Like Cass said, it's just not fair that something like this happened to Neri, someone so gentle and full of compassion.
Neri has been a part of my life for so long now it's impossible for me to imagine life without her. She's my best friend, a constant in a world that always seems to be changing so fast. When here on ORCA, people and friends were coming and going as contracts ran out and people moved on to new and better posts, as my mum's jobs and duties changed, as cadet duties started getting harder and harder, when Dad came back and with all the craziness of the world around me changing, Neri was like a rock, giving me something strong and firm to hang onto.
I guess that was because for Neri, her life revolved around nature and the cycles that plants and animals followed, things that while they varied from year to year, always followed a similar cycle. She lived with nature, taking just enough to stay alive and no more. She wasn't greedy and looked after the world around her, thriving in a place that looks like paradise. She respected the world around her, knew where it was safe to swim, what berries she could eat safely, which animals could harm her and what plants to use as medicine.
She taught me to love the world around me, to look at nature and be glad of its beauty and resources. With Neri around, I didn't need all the gadgets and computers that I used to love when we lived on the mainland. I was never bored with Neri around, even when there was no one threatening to hurt Neri or trying to take over the world, there was always somewhere new for her to show me, to let me explore, always something new for me to learn or some new animal to see.
She showed me every part of her world, sharing it with me unconditionally, trusting me with every little thing. Her world was so free and uncomplicated; a way of life long since lost to us humans with our need to advance, to develop new technologies to make our own lives easier without any concern for the world around us. We destroy the world around us just to make our lives a little easier and Neri showed me how wrong it is to that.
To go to her island and sit by her fire beside the waterfall, to race down the beach with her, to go snorkelling on the reef, watching her dart around like she was a fish herself while I was just an intruder in this underwater world, it was just more than anyone could ever ask for. It was pure heaven on earth to me.
But now all that is gone and there's no way to ever get it back.
Neri is dead and there's nothing, no technology that humans have ever invented that can bring the dead back to us and nothing to make this pain go away, to mend this aching, burning hole from chest.
How am I meant to go on without her? How am I meant to just walk around and act normal to everyone as though I haven't a care in the world when the best part of my life has been ripped out of it like this? How can I go about my duties on the Command Bridge, talk to my friends, walk around ORCA when there are so many memories of her scattered around these pods and corridors? It's just impossible.
She was the love of my life and I never understood that until I saw they took her away and we couldn't track her down, till I saw her in the lift shaft of the bunker, barely conscious, barely able to hang onto life as Agent Hauser tried to drag her body up that ladder. I swear my heart froze in my chest when I saw her like that, my worst nightmare had become a horrifying reality and I couldn't find any way out. Unlike a dream, this wasn't something I could wake up from to find that everything was just fine.
I'd never seen her look so ill, so helpless. Not even when she went into the desert on her own to try and track down a piece of the Synchronium and she arrived back at the island late in the evening looking like she was about to collapse with exhaustion and exposure. Now she looks a hundred times worse than that, she looks like she's been through hell and couldn't keep on fighting to stay alive any longer.
When we got her out of the water and into the car, when we were driving back across the mainland towards the heliport where Dad had a chopper on standby ready to take us back to ORCA, I held her on my lap and willed her to keep fighting. She seemed barely aware of where she was but part of me needed to let her know that I was there, that she was safe now and that if she just kept fighting I would keep her safe. I was pleading with her, desperate because in that moment I knew it wasn't just her own life she was fighting for, but my own too.
My life, my future was inextricably bound up with hers. I just couldn't imagine a world without her. To me, Neri was always like a superhero, always determined to charge in and save the world whenever there was anything putting her beloved ocean at risk. She was always so strong, so determined to do the right thing, to keep fighting even when the odds of winning were getting smaller and smaller and I couldn't see a way to get through it all.
She was the most selfless person I've ever met. Everyone she met seemed to see the innate goodness that seemed to surround her like a glowing aura. She might not know much about the human world and all its technology but she understood people and showed them compassion and understanding that no one else did. I've seen her give a blind girl back her sight through using touch to feel things and recreate them in clay, I've seen her stand up to bullies for a strange boy in Port Douglas and seen her rescue a ball for the girl who fell down the well in Egypt once she'd made sure that the child was safe. Heck, even Vanessa who seemed to mistrust and alienated everyone she ever met, loved Neri and would have done anything for her.
Leaning down, I picked up one of her hands and laced my fingers through hers. Her hands felt so cold against mine. I wanted to rub it between my own hands to try and get some warmth into it but it would do no good, not now.
I looked up at her face wishing that I could see that stubborn look that used to frustrate the life out of me one more time, or that smile that could light up my world, or her deep understanding eyes that listened and understood. I wish I could just pretend that she was asleep and that any moment she would wake up and suddenly the world would jerk back in motion, my life would be back on track and we could go on fighting to keep Shersheba and Malakat from getting the golden ankh.
But that wouldn't happen now. They do have the ankh and they'll probably figure out a way to recharge the ankh and harness the power of the pyramid and there is nothing I can do to stop them. I've let Neri down this time and there's nothing I can do to make it right.
What feels worse though is the fact that Neri wouldn't blame me for losing the ankh. She'd know that I'd done everything to try and keep it safe and instead of focusing on blaming me, she would be worrying about what they might do with the ankh, trying to find a way to stop that because she's stubborn like that.
Neri never gives in and admits defeat. She just keeps stubbornly trying to find new ways to achieve things. She's impatient like that, especially when we were searching for the Synchronium and she thought we weren't finding pieces fast enough she'd keep pushing and nagging at us to look harder, pushing us to keep our promise. I guess living the way she had for so long, always able to do what she wants the minute she wanted to, she didn't understand that for Brett and I, sometimes we couldn't do things as quickly or as fast as she wanted us too because we had ORCA duties, cadet training or school to take up our time as well as making sure we didn't disappear too often to arouse suspicion.
And she never liked it when we tried to keep her safely away from the action. If there was any hint of danger or if something needed to be done, she always wanted to be there, taking the risks. She hated being left out of it while others did the work, probably because it gave her too much time to worry and if her friends were in danger she wouldn't be there to help. I remember when she got angry at me once because we were meant to be launching a raid on UBRI HQ and I lied to her about when we would go so that she would come to ORCA on the wrong day so that Brett and I and a bunch of our friends could go a day earlier so that Neri wouldn't be in any danger. She trusted me implicitly and I hated letting her down.
Despite my best efforts, tears poured down my face as I sat by her body, standing guard, still ready to protect her body and memory from anything that might try to take her away from me. I guess by now protecting her had become as natural to me as taking breathing. I just did it automatically.
I just didn't want to leave her on her own now. For most of her life she's been alone with only nobody but Charley to keep her company. She'd once admitted to me that she was used to be alone and I always hated the thought of her being alone with no one there if she was sick or injured, with no one to talk about her worries or fears with like I had Mum and Brett to talk to when I needed them.
She must have been so scared when they took her to that bunker. So far away from safety, from the people who loved her and would protect her from people like Shelby who would hurt her and think nothing of it. She would have been too far inland to call to Charley and even if she could have reached him there was nothing he could have done for her. Surrounded by strangers, the kind of people who her father had warned her about, all trying to force her to talk to them, to find out as much about her as possible.
There was no one there to fight her case, to make them see what an amazing person she is; to hold her hand and reassure her that everything would be all right. She was alone in an alien environment with no way out and no way to get to safety.
She would have been brave, I have to believe that. She wouldn't have told them anything or said a word. She would have just faced everything quietly and with dignity, watching and waiting, looking for any chance to escape.
But that chance came too late.
I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for not getting there earlier; for wasting all that time being sucked into Shersheba's games instead of focusing on getting her back.
I don't think I will ever forgive myself for the mistakes.
I know I'll never forget her. She was my everything and I'll never stop regretting that I didn't realise just how much I loved her until it was too late.
I know, too, that I'll never stop trying to make PRAXIS pay for what they did. They might have thought that I was a nuisance before this, but it will be nothing on what I'll do in the future.
I swear, I'm never going to let what happened to Neri happen to anyone else if I can help it.
It's just not right. Just not humane.