AN: To anybody still reading this, sorry it's taken me so long to write this next part. I've had a rough year with finishing college, applying to university, looking for work and worries that I might have had a problem with my heart and I just haven't had the time or energy or inspiration to work on this story. I never forgot about it though and I have started to draft out chapter seven of this story as well in my notebook and I intend to start working on finishing that draft and typing it up as soon as possible. Going back and re-reading this, I have noticed all the grammar mistakes in this and the previous chapter and when I get chance, I will go back and correct any mistakes that I find. If anyone does want to be my beta reader for this story and read through and correct mistakes in chapters before I post them, please get in touch. I find it impossible to proof read my work and always feel really embarrassed when I reread my work and see all the mistakes I made. My friend who normally reads through my work has never watched the Ocean Girl series and therefore refuses to proof read it on the grounds that she hasn't a clue what's going on it.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this chapter and please feel free to leave me some feedback to let me know how I can improve my work so that it's even better for you to read.
Summary: They never made a season five so this is what I like to think what would have happened next after the last episode of season four.
Disclaimer: Ocean Girl/Odyssey and all associated characters, places, institutions and ideas are the property of Jonathon M. Schiff. I loved this TV show and I wish they had continued and made many more seasons of it but in a way I'm glad they didn't because I can now write my own interpretation on what might have happened after season 4.
Chapter Six: The Wish of Her Mother
Jason watched helplessly, almost frozen in time as Neri dashed passed him, her long legs propelling her swiftly across the forest floor, feet confident and sure in where they landed. He wanted to freeze this moment, to pull her back and stop her from running head first into a future that would tear them apart, a future which he knew with every fibre of his being that she wouldn't want. He felt almost like he was standing on the edge of an abyss, paralyzed with fear, watching as she unknowing ran unstoppably towards the edge of the cliff, unable to stop her from falling when the ground ran out beneath her feet.
"Neri! Slow down!" He called out to her. "Wait for us!" His voice wasn't as steady as he wanted it and Neri, always perceptive to subtleties of his moods paused and turned towards him, a frown stretching on his face.
"But Mother and Winston are here," A confused expression on her face. "You said it was important, that they needed to speak with me."
Jason felt trapped. He couldn't lie to her but he couldn't tell her the truth either. Not yet. "There's no rush though," He said lamely, knowing the minute Neri's eyebrows raised that she didn't believe him.
"Must be important," She pointed out. "Mother doesn't come to island that much. Too busy at ORCA."
Jason floundered, unsure of what to say. Thankfully Cass stepped in and came to his rescue. "Yeah, but we can't run as fast as you can." She pointed out. "Wait up for us."
The frown on the Neri's face eased a little. "I forget," She said apologetically. "You do not know the forest floor. Come, I want to see Mother but I will slow down," She came back towards them, linking hands with the other girl."You should come here more. Learn the forest floor,"
"I wish I could," Cass laughed, allowing Neri to lead her forward, over the rough path through the trees. "But HELEN keeps me so busy at ORCA I barely have time to stop and eat, to sleep at night before I have to get up and start work again."
Behind the two girls, Brett thumped his older brother in the arm, surprising Jason who yelped. "Oi, what was that for, you little creep?" Despite feeling so much older and more mature these days, sometimes when he was taken by surprise, Jason still slipped into the old teasing names that he had used on Brett as a child.
Brett merely glared at him, consciously aware that Neri had turned at Jason's cry to see what was going on. Why couldn't Jason hold it together for a few more minutes? Cassandra rolled her eyes and pulled on Neri's arm., directing the ocean girl's attention back to her and away from the boys.
"But soon everything will be okay at ORCA." Neri pointed out. "More people come back to ORCA and you have time to come to the island."
"Yeah sure," Cass said awkwardly, a smile lighting her face.
"Good," Neri smiled happily. "I like friends coming to my island."
The path grew narrower and Cass let go of Neri's arm, letting her take the lead through the trees. In places the path seemed to stop at a dead end, blocked by the buttress roots of some of the trees but this didn't stop Neri or even slow her down. She just instinctively found the easiest way up the often steep roots before turning to help pull Cass and Brett up the path, her strong arms easily helping them up.
It didn't take them long to get back to the more familiar side of the island. As they came to Neri's pool, she broke off ahead and ran to the pool, kicking up thousands of tiny drops of water that even in the small clearing surrounded by tall trees that shaded the forest floor from the burning hot sun, still sparkled like millions of precious diamonds and the sun shone through the large gap in the trees. Submerging herself in the water, she swam quickly to the other side of the pool, washing some of the salt off her skin left over from her swim in the ocean.
She waited on a rock for the others to pick out the path round the edge of the pool, smiling to herself about the thought that if it had just been her and Jason, he would have followed her into the pool, not caring about getting his uniform wet. She liked it when he took his uniform off and swam with her. He didn't have as big muscles as Kal, but when Jason took off his uniform and swam with her, it seemed like he really relaxed and let go of some of the things he worried about.
Their eyes met as he made his way towards her, his eyes burning with emotion that Neri knew was echoed in her own eyes. She smiled that little smile that she saved only for him, hoping that whatever it was that Mother needed to tell her wasn't anything too bad. She wanted to spend some time with Jason, didn't want to be worried by serious things today. They had the next four days together and she wanted to enjoy every minute of them.
Whilst she spent almost every day with Jason, monitoring the red virus and tracking the progress of the antidote, there was little time for them to laugh and joke. Making sure that the oceans of the Earth recovered and that habitats for all the fish and the plants were restored was a serious and important job and they worked well as a team. But they seemed to spend every day doing, working from early in the morning, well into the early evening, after which Jason had to go back to ORCA to report their findings to Mother and the other humans like her who were in charge of looking after the massive waters of the oceans.
By the time Jason had finished his duties for the day and had headed back over to the island to spend time with her, the pair of them were exhausted and spent most of the time lying on the beach, watching the sun set into the ocean, talking together and enjoying being in each others company.
As they drew nearer, she waited, knowing that Cass and Brett could find their way easily back to the hut that they had built her without needing Neri to guide them in the direction. Watching as Cass and Brett moved on past her, she reached out and stroked her had across Jason's face, gently tracing his lip with her finger. He lifted his hand up to hold hers gently in place when she would have moved away, prolonging this shared moment between the two of them for a few more heartbeats before linking their fingers together as he raised her slowly from the rock and lead her onto the path.
It only took a few minutes for them to reach the clearing where Neri's hut stood. Diane was sat under the shade of a large tree, watching the children as they approached. Winston and Paul were sat by the fire, Paul moodily stirring the embers of the small fire with a stick, listening as Winston tried to cajole him into approving some new and very experimental equipment that Winston felt would help him make a key break-through in one of the research projects he was investigating.
Neri's face lit up when she saw them there. Her hand slipped out of Jason's as she ran up the last few metres of the path, almost launching herself at Diane, who barely managed to stand up in time to catch the girl in a warm embrace. "Mother, it is good to see you," Neri pulled back slightly to look Diane in the eye. "It is long time since you came to my island," She gently rebuked the woman who had become a mother figure in her life.
Diane's lips quirked into a smile, though it wasn't enough to chase the sadness out of her blue eyes, "It has been too long," She agreed, wishing that she'd had more time to get away from ORCA to visit the island and get to know it as well as Jason and Brett, so that she could feel like it was as much a second home to her as it was to the boys, a refuge away from the stresses of life onboard ORCA. "But we're here now," She pointed out gently.
"Yes, it is good you are here," Neri nodded gravely before turning to Winston who came over to greet her, enveloping him too in a warm embrace.
Winston smiled down at her. "Neri, I must say that you get more radiant each time I see you," He told her gravely. "As radiant as the dawn that lights the sky and chases away the winter storms," He complimented her.
Her face lit up with a smile that could indeed under any other situation, chase the stormy thoughts and whirling emotions from Winston's mind. "Winston, my friend," She greeted him warmly. "Have you come to swim the reef with me?" She teased gently, "Or climb to the top of island to look out at the sea?"
A hint of red stained Winston's cheeks at this gentle reminder of the obstacles he had overcome over the years in the company of this beautiful creature. "Oh no! No!" He blustered quickly, unsure what to say. He wracked his brain for a reason why they were here, not wanting to be the one to break the news, or even steer the conversation in the direction that it would ultimately have to follow. Maybe it was it was cowardly, he thought to himself, to almost hide from the truth and the reality of the situation but who could blame him? "I intend to keep my feet firmly on solid ground today. I shall leave the scaling of great heights to the nimble feet of mountain goats and the kiss of the cool ocean to the scales of the fish,"
Brett frowned, "Winston, what on earth are you blathering on about now?" He demanded, still after all these years able to be surprised by the almost poetical answers Winston was able to come out with.
"Brett, don't be rude," Paul stepped forward at this point, glaring at his son's disrespect for one of his mother's colleagues, effectively drawing Neri's attention to him.
She took a few hesitant steps towards him, nodding her head in greeting towards him whilst still maintaining a small gap between him. There was something about this man that made her still wary of him, even after all the help he had given her in the past. Maybe it was still the tense relationship between Paul and Jason, the waves of tension that seemed to surround the two family members whenever they were together. She had never actually seen him relaxed and joking, only ever stern and unbending as though he expected everything and everyone to fall instantly in line with his wishes. She wasn't even sure how she should refer to him in greeting. He wasn't a father figure to her, for after all, it wasn't like she had lacked a father figure in her life. Her relationship with Paul wasn't like her relationship with Diane because she'd always known who her father had been and would carry the memory of his beloved face, the sound of his voice and the wisdom he had imparted to her around with her forever.
He also wasn't commander of ORCA because that was Diane, that was Mother's title and all the respect that she knew the title deserved was as such directed towards Diane. She knew that Paul had greater authority than Diane and was in charge of other things as well as ultimately in charge of what went inside ORCA, but she had never seen these other places, couldn't even begin to imagine what they looked like and therefore couldn't really begin to feel anywhere near the kind of respect that she knew she should feel towards him.
Calling him by his real name seemed disrespectful as well. "Jason and Brett's father," She finally settled on greeting him as. The formalness of it was achingly unfamiliar to her but it was the only way she could think of referring to him. "Welcome to my island,"
Paul seemed poised upon taking a step forward to embrace the girl he was starting to look on as his own daughter. The way Diane and his boys talked about this girl in such glowing words, it was impossible for him not to feel in someway connected to the girl. A glance over her shoulder though at Jason's frowning face convinced him that hugging her would not be the right idea. He had no idea what Jason and Brett had told her about him, but he doubted there was much good included in there and she had often witnessed the discord between him and his eldest son. By hugging her, he would probably be trespassing into a part of his family's life that he wasn't fully welcomed to yet.
So instead his stern face softened into a smile. "Neri, it is good to see you again. Your island is a beautiful as the boys told me," He complimented her, raising his arms up around him to indicate their surroundings. "But please, call me Paul."
Neri returned his smile tentatively. "Welcome Paul," She greeted him again before turning to the others, "Come, sit," She moved towards the fire and sat down on a large, smooth rock that was next to it and indicating to other similar rocks. She picked up a handful of berries that had been left on a large leaf that she had left out for Mother and Winston to eat. She examined one carefully, checking for any signs that insects may have reached the ripe fruit but after a moment popped a couple into her mouth, savoring the sweet taste on her tongue.
Jason was the first to move, crossing the clearing to sit behind Neri, his hand tenderly brushing her hair and shoulder as he moved. Brett and Cass instantly moved their normal seating positions where they normally sat when they were here, Brett to a huge boulder just inside the shade of the trees on either side the clearing, the muscles in his arms working hard to haul his body to the top of it, whilst Cass moved to sit on the opposite side of the fire to Neri.
Diane moved to sit slightly to the right of Neri's calm figure, knowing that time was running out but still totally lost as to how to bring the subject up. Instead she stalled for a few minutes, trying to buy a few extra minutes in this paradise. "Thank you for the food you left us," She indicated the few remains of the fish that had been slowly cooking over the fire. "It was absolutely delicious,"
"Much better than Jason's cooking," Winston agreed, gently teasing the silent boy behind Neri as he made his way over to sit down, carefully easing his body down to sit on one of the larger boulders slightly set back from the fire. "I think it is you that should come and live on ORCA with us and treat us to your wonderful cooking each night, whilst Jason stays here on the island."
"I do not think so," Neri smiled, appreciating the joke but seriously pointing out, "My place is here on the island, my home. I do not belong in your world," She pointed out, reminding them of the time they had early lost Charley because she went to stay on ORCA to help with Diane's research work and almost lost the ability to speak with him. "There are millions of beautiful things in your world but I cannot stay there too long,"
Paul, who had moved towards the group but had remained standing, looked down on her. "But one day you must leave here," He pointed out. "One day you will return to your own planet and leave Charley and this island behind. Your real place is there, not here," He regretted the words as they came out but there was an element of truth there that he couldn't deny.
Diane looked horrified at her ex-husband, shocked at his words. "Paul! How dare you say something like that!"
Neri smiled bitterly. "But he is right, is he not?" She reminded Diane. "Mother says that one day I must leave Earth and go back to the Opal Planet. That day my heart will break but I will go,"
"Until then though, you belong here! This is your island, your home and it always will be so long as you are here on earth," Brett found himself saying vehemently, even though he knew that this wasn't the case. "And as part of our family!"
The warmth of the love that she felt towards these people made Neri speechless for a moment. After being on her own for so long with only Charley for company, having a family once more was something she would forever be eternally grateful for. "I hope it is so, I wish it so," She agreed with him, leaning back a little into Jason, feeling his arm creep reassuringly around her waist before she continued speaking. "But I sense that something is wrong. Something bad has happened. Something here on Earth. My sister say that all is well on Opal Planet, that the virus is clearing and that the people welcome my Mother back with joy, here in their hearts," She raised her hand to cover her heart before continuing. "But you look sad, Mother, and you too Winston." She frowned a little and turned to look questioningly at Jason, who for the first time since she'd met him on the beach that day allowed the stress to show upon his face.
All Jason could do was wrap his arms tightly around her and pull him back into the shelter of his body, burying his face in her hair as he whispered her name over and over again.
Alarm grew in Neri's eyes and she turned to stare at Diane. "Mother…?" Fear filled her voice.
Diane sighed, mentally cursing Paul for his clumsy words that had let the conversation spiral out of control into this mess. "Neri, I got a call from Madame President this morning," She admitted, struggling to keep her voice steady, now that the dreaded moment had come. Her eyes started to well up with tears that she had to fight to keep from falling. "She has taken to heart your Mother, Queen Shalamorn's wishes that you bring the human race and the people of your own planet closer together. She feels that you cannot do so by remaining here on the island, living isolated from the rest of the world. In a few days, she wants you leave your island and become an ambassador of your people, to teach the human race about your planet and people and to show that you mean them no harm, that your people are not something to be feared, but to be welcomed to our planet with open arms,"
"But my home, my family," Neri protested, pain like nothing she had ever felt welled up in her heart. "I cannot leave here, I cannot leave you or Charley…" Her mind called out to him, pouring out what was happening, the pain in her heart, her terror at the huge human world that she did not know. His answering song was filled with the echoing terror and pain shared by the whale at the thought of them never seeing each other again. But below that, she could feel his love, a love that she returned whole-heartedly.
"Madame President understands how difficult this will be for you, Neri," Paul broke in at this point. "But she is in charge of helping the Earth to recover from Malakat's attempt at invading this planet and wiping out the human race. People have seen terrible things happen to their homes and lives, seen whole cities destroyed and a terrible virus sweep through the seas, destroying everything in it its path. They are scared and nobody really knows what happened. They know that aliens tried to destroy their planet but where beaten back. For all they know, they think that more of your people would come back and try to do the same and they would do whatever it took to annihilate them before they could even land on this planet. Queen Shalamorn said that many of your people want to come here, to see what this world is like and maybe even make their home here, away from the bad memories they have from the Opal Planet. Defenseless women and children, whole families coming here looking to make a new home for themselves but because the human race would think they were coming to make war, they would be hunted down and killed or worse, held hostage like you were with Praxis until they died a very slow and painful death,"
He paused for a moment, looking for the right words. "I know this is your home and that Jason, Brett ad Diane are your family. But this goes beyond us all. You can stop this happening, Neri, you can show them the truth with your kindness and goodness. You can save lives and bring our people together. Think of all the help your scientist could give us to restore the oceans, to better look after the Earth, to better protect it and look after it. Your father came here with you to safeguard the Oceans, to look after them and take care of them. Think how much influence you will have on the world. You'll be meeting the heads of every country on this planet, the people who have the power to change things. You could make a difference in a way that nobody else could,"
"By moving away from the island, living in our world and understanding how we live our lives, you could make a difference. You could save lives and make changes that no one else could. There's a huge beautiful world out there, millions of different people and places, untold numbers of stories for you hear and things to see. You could make the difference that your father wanted to make, to do what he couldn't and keep his memory alive."
The sound of the fire crackling, the birds and animals moving around the forest, calling to each other seemed deafening in the silence as Paul fell silent. Nobody seemed to know what to say but everybody's eyes were fixed on Neri who looked like she was almost drowning under the weight of what Paul had just told her. The truth in what had been said was undeniable and as much as each one of them wanted to argue, to fight against fate and keep Neri there, safe on her island, each knew that it was a selfish wish that drove them, a wish that ultimately would be futile.
After a moment she spoke. "My heart says I must do this, that this is my path," Jason felt her body shaking against his and held on even tighter as though he was afraid that she would slip through his fingers like smoke and disappear into thin air. He had no idea how she managed to keep her voice calm and steady. "But how can I do this, leave my family, leave Charley and my island, to leave Jason," She asked, her voice breaking with utter despair. "I do not know your world, I would not belong there…"
Diane spoke up, leaning over and wrapping her arms around her heart's daughter. "We will always be here Neri, always part of your family." She told the girl gently, even as her heart broke inside her chest. "You can always come back here any time you want to and we'll be here waiting for you with open arms," Diane said fervently, praying with all her heart that her words were true, that Neri would be allowed to return here to see them, to return to the open arms of her family.
"Then I will go," Neri spoke, her voice shaking and barely audible to the rest of the group looking on. "If this is the wish of my Mother and my people, I will do it," Neri's hand found Jason's as she spoke, threading her fingers through his and squeezing tight, holding on as if for dear life.