John Hart whistled soundlessly before remarking in a hushed tone, "It really is a palace underneath the pavement!"
Will had taken his hand in hers and led him on a merry chase down into the dark depths of Torchwood Three, far beneath the bright lights and constant hum of their Captain's treasured Hub. They'd navigated through what seemed like countless twisty-bendy tunnels, occasionally taking a wrong turn and encountering mysterious locked doors or other equally inaccessible dead-ends. Only the gods knew what Jack Harkness kept down there, and it was probably best kept that way.
Finally they arrived at their destination – an enormous, frigid cavern. The chamber was at least several kilometers long and equally wide. Within it rested Sunjammer – after all this time still the most beautiful spaceship Wil had ever laid eyes on. Sunjammer's immense silver membrane mirrors took her breath away as they shimmered softly under the dim light. Although the damp underground cave had the feeling of a mausoleum, Sunjammer looked alive and alert. It seemed almost as if the ship was breathing. Vibrating.
John squeezed Wil's hand gently, "I've never seen Starfog berthed like this before, with her sails unfolded…"
"Starfog?" she asked.
He tore his eyes from the ship and looked at his lover's face, "Yes. That was her given name. The name she had when I acquired her. The name I kept." He smiled thinly. "When Jack got his hands on her he made a few changes and, as I said earlier, rechristened her Sunjammer. It's an okay name…"
"It's a good name," she interrupted him, her eyes sparkling.
"Sure," he nodded. "It's a good name but it isn't her name. She's Starfog to me. Always has been, always will be."
"Starfog it is, then. Fine by me, John," Wil consented, not wanting to split hairs over the ship's name. She let loose of his hand and began walking toward one of the gleaming five-hundred meter-wide solar sails, inspecting the nanotube mesh carefully. "I am worried about one thing, though… well, several things, but one thing in particular. It took the quantum-brilliant Toshiko Sato, in addition to a substantial support crew running the ship's land-based systems, plus the assistance of both NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense, to get us off the ground and into low-earth orbit the last time Jack and I flew her. We have neither Toshiko nor an experienced ground crew at the moment… Needless to say we're also missing NASA and the D.O.D. as well."
"Uh-huh," he said distractedly as he looked at his Time Agency wrist band, "not a problem…" John was using his thumb to do something to or near the strap's vortex manipulator. A few seconds later, one by one, Starfog's pale blue running lights began blinking on.
"Hello, baby," he crooned softly as he looked up. "How have you been?"
Wil glanced around, momentarily confused. "Who are you talking to, John?"
"My ship, of course," was the nonchalant response. "Who else it would it be?" He smiled mischievously then winked at her. "Remember I said Jack made a few changes?"
She nodded mutely.
"Well, Jack likes smartass A.I.'s even less than I do. So when he got her, he put Starfog's A.I. to sleep, and let me tell you – she is a hell of a smart Artificial Intelligence. I…" John shrugged, "I just woke her up. You're not the only one who has a special invisible friend, Wil…
"Starfog? Say hello to Wil Beinert, sweetie."
Hello Wil. I'm very glad to meet you.
Wil's eyes went wide.
Author's Note: Starfog (aka: Sunjammer) first appears in my story "Plague."
"When I stand before thee at the day's end, thou shalt see my scars and know that I had my wounds and also my healing."
I hope you enjoyed this story. Thanks for all the reviews – I am truly grateful for and honored by them. Sequel? Maybe… Your encouragement helps… Watch this space.
Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?
(Kung Fu, pilot episode)
"Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on."