I'm finally getting around to uploading some of the stories I wrote years ago and published to the Earth 2 YahooGroup.
Summary: The Eden Project receive a summons by the Terrians... and it involves Uly.
Timeline: Post Series.
Main Characters: Pretty much everyone
Disclaimer: The characters in Earth2 belong to Amblin and Universal. I write for fun not profit, so I hope they don't mind too much :)
"Where?" Devon shouted, waking herself out of a deep slumber. She sat bolt upright in bed, trying to hang on to the last threads of a dream, a dream that was already slipping away from her. She could remember very few details, but she knew somehow that the Terrians had been dreaming to her, that it was important, and that it involved all of them. With a sigh, she swung her legs off the side of her camp-bed, she was wide awake now, might as well see if anyone else was affected or if she'd been imagining things. No sooner had her feet hit the floor than she heard her name being called, loudly, by several people. She hastily pulled a robe on over her nightwear and left the tent, amazed that Ulysses was able to sleep through first her waking shout and now the racket outside.
Outside the tent, the entire group was gathered, mostly still dressed in night clothing, all looking as if they had been jolted from sleep. *Well, at least I'm not the only one* Devon mused, searching the group for Alonzo. She spotted him deep in conversation with Julia, near the tent he shared with her, but before she could move towards them, she was intercepted.
"Devon, what the hell is going on?" Morgan whined. "I'd like an explanation as to why I've been dragged out of a nice deep sleep in the middle of the night by those ground dwelling tree-huggers!" Devon clamped down on the urge to throttle him and merely allowed her eyes to roll heavenwards as if praying for strength, and pushed past him with a mumbled "excuse me".
"Morgan, how is Devon supposed to know?" Bess chimed in with a large dollop of impatience in her tone; "she looks just as confused as the rest of us! And besides, it's not the middle of the night, the sun is coming up, look!"
Devon glanced to the east; the horizon was just beginning to turn pink. She ignored Morgan's answering grumble and continued to where Alonzo and Julia were talking.
"Any ideas Alonzo?" Devon asked, knowing there were still times the pilot was uncomfortable being the communications link between the humans and the natives of this planet, and not wanting to put him on the defensive. He seemed to be unfazed by this latest invasion though, merely curious, and a little excited at the prospect of something new to break the routine of travelling.
"We've been summoned Devon, I don't know where yet, but it means all of us, and I had a real strong impression that it's something very important, to the Terrians AND our group, maybe even our species." Alonzo shrugged, his eyes conveying his usual disappointment that he couldn't interpret any better. Devon smiled reassuringly.
"So what now?" A low voice grumbled from over Devon's left shoulder. She glanced up at the unshaven face looming over her, topped by a mop of unruly sandy curls.
"I don't know. I guess the best we can do for the moment is to get dressed, eat, and wait to see what happens next. It's not often the Terrians call on us, and never en masse like this, but they usually have a good reason, we can at least see what they want." Devon was a little surprised at how calm and accepting she was over this summons. Perhaps she was getting used to the Terrians, or maybe it was the lingering effects of the dream reassuring her, she remembered urgency, but no trace of danger. This calm seemed to have affected the others as well, for the only voice of dissention was, as usual, Morgan, whose protests were being studiously ignored by the majority of the group while his wife and Denner placated him. He did have one valid question to put forth.
"Do we even know where they want us to go?" Devon turned to face him, acknowledging his query.
"No Morgan, I'm afraid we don't, we just have…"
"I do." A small voice piped up behind her. Devon spun around to see Uly, his hair tousled by sleep, rubbing his eyes.
"You do?" Devon asked, stamping on her momentary alarm, after all, she told herself, Uly was the one who had been healed by the Terrians, why shouldn't they talk to him as well as Alonzo?
"Uh-huh" he said, yawning widely, this set off a chain reaction around the tired group, followed by a few chuckles. "Sort of anyway. I know which way we have to go and we'll know when we get where we're supposed to be." He shrugged, completely unfazed by the cryptic instructions. Devon couldn't help chuckling and ruffling his hair, earning herself a child-sized scowl.
"That answer your question Morgan?" Walman asked, grinning merrily at the lawyer's indignant expression. Morgan just sighed and stomped back to his tent to dress.
They set off within an hour, Devon was reluctant to leave the camp unattended, fearing that an unpopulated camp would prove too big a temptation to G889's other dominant species, the Grendlers. The large tri-toed traders wouldn't hesitate to steal anything not bolted down (and that was only if they didn't have a spanner), but Alonzo and Uly both insisted that everyone had been called so everyone had to go. Baines reassured her that between Zero and the perimeter defenses, the camp was guarded well enough to keep out even the most determined intruder.
With Uly in the lead, they trekked through the steadily brightening forest, chatting amiably among themselves, curious as to what the Terrians were up to this time. An hour or so later, Devon was just about to call a brief rest when Uly shouted excitedly and pointed to something ahead of them. A Terrian stood in a narrow gap between two large trees just ahead of them; it beckoned to them before stepping back out of sight. Devon tried to catch Uly, but he was already racing ahead, ignoring her calls. She shot a helpless look at John, who merely shrugged and followed as she jogged forward to join her son.
As the group squeezed their way between the two trees where the Terrian had been standing, they found themselves in a large, almost perfectly circular clearing, with a single, very strange looking tree in the exact centre. The clearing was surrounded by some of the tallest trees Devon had ever seen. Trees that were so densely packed that their entrance seemed to be the only way out, in fact, Devon realised as she executed a slow turn to take in her surroundings, she could no longer see the gap they had squeezed through. She swallowed a surge of panic, hoping nobody else would notice. Fortunately most of the group were too curious about their general surroundings to take in such details, but a glance at John and Yale told her that they too had noticed the disappearance of their entryway. *Optical illusion* Yale mouthed.
Devon's attention was drawn to the lone tree in the middle, it was unusual, not very tall, twisted and gnarled, but oddly beautiful, its branches intertwining around each other, its roots so thick and tangled it was impossible to see where the roots ended and the tree began. Uly was standing at the base of the trunk, staring up at it, a slightly puzzled frown on his face. She was about to approach him when the ground began to rumble.
The humans retreated a little way towards the middle of the circle as Terrian after Terrian erupted from the ground to join the one that had been guarding the entranceway. Finally the ground finished rumbling as the last one arrived. Devon did a quick count, a total of fourteen Terrians and fifteen humans were now gathered in the clearing. The Terrians had risen from the ground in a circle around the strange tree and now beckoned the humans, the first Terrian trilled to Alonzo.
"We need to join the circle, each one of us stands between two of the Terrians." He instructed, moving to the space next to the speaker.
"But there are more of us than there are of them, who gets left out?" Asked Julia. Devon suspected she knew the answer and shot a worried look at the pilot. He gave her his best "don't look at me" expression.
"I stay here." Uly said, his head tilted to one side, his gaze never leaving the tree in front of him, he almost seemed to be memorising the details of it. Devon felt another of alarm at the flat tone of his voice; it reminded her strongly of Moon Cross, when her son had seemed to retreat into a trance.
"Alonzo what's going on here? Why are we here and what's going to happen?" Devon asked, as the Terrians began a low chant.
"I don't know Devon, all I get is a sense of how important this is, for all of us, and that no harm will come to Uly, they promise that." Alonzo's voice slowed down, became almost dreamy. Devon found herself being lulled by the chanting, and finally took the final place in the circle. As one being, the Terrians drove their staves into the ground in front of them and crouched down, each placing one hand on the earth. Acting as if instructed out loud, the humans did the same, all the while the chanting continued, surrounding them, calming them, it seemed as if the sound was becoming a living creature, swirling through the air. Devon felt her skin tingle, her hair beginning to rise up as this energy, this life force filled her, the air around them crackled with it. She looked over to where Uly still stood, he was glowing, the energy surrounding him setting off thousands of tiny sparks, his expression was one of enrapture. As the chanting continued to rise in intensity, Devon saw a tremor run through the branches of the tree. It was then that she noticed that the leafy crown of the tree had lost almost all its colour, its leaves were wilting, dying and falling off in a steadily increasing shower around Uly.
The earth trembled, only slightly at first, but gradually the tremors built up into a definite shaking. A loud crack split the air as a branch split from the trunk of the tree and crashed to the ground. Devon would have leapt up, pulled Uly away, but she was frozen in place, all she could do was watch in terror as more branches began breaking, splitting and falling all around Uly, all missing him, some by mere centimetres, but not a single one touched the boy. Before long the only part of the tree still standing was the trunk. The chanting reached a crescendo, a living entity that resonated through all of them. Just as Devon felt she would shake apart, Uly reached out one hand and touched the trunk of the tree.
The tree exploded. If it made a sound, nobody heard it above the chanting and rumbling of the earth. Devon felt one mighty spasm run through the ground under her, and the tree simply blew up into dust, showering the clearing and everyone in it.
Silence. Not a single noise, no birds, no insects, it felt as if the world had ended, like she had gone deaf.
Devon slowly opened her eyes, blinking to clear them, and took a breath; she coughed once to blow the dust from her mouth and nose. As her focus returned, her gaze locked onto the scene in the middle of the circle.
Uly was still standing there, apparently unharmed, surrounded by dead branches. He still had one hand raised, palm out, touching the chest of a Terrian. What struck Devon was that this Terrian was not much bigger than her son was. They seemed to be communicating with each other somehow. Then Uly dropped his hand and turned to face his mother.
"He's going to stay with us Mom." Uly said in such a matter-of-fact tone that Devon would have laughed out loud if she hadn't been so stunned. Suddenly it was as if ropes had fallen from her and she was able to move again. She rose unsteadily to her feet and stood there, just staring, trying to work through the events of the last half-hour.
"It was a bonding ceremony." Alonzo's quiet, awed voice cut though the silence that had fallen once again. "At the birth of a new Terrian, the tribe gathers, the young one is bonded to the tribe, and to its mother, the earth. This tribe understands that we have come to live on this planet, they know how Uly has been changed, how he is bonded with the planet. In some way they also understand that this was a sacrifice for us, that Uly is different from us now. To show their willingness to share this sacrifice, this new Terrian has been bonded not only to the earth and its tribe, but to our tribe as well. It is to stay with us, to teach us their ways and their rules, but also to learn from us. They want to know us, they want to understand us and find ways to share their home with us in peace, and they feel that this is the best way to do it."
Devon opened her mouth to speak, but for once no words were forthcoming, she was too overwhelmed by Alonzo's revelations. Before she could gather her thoughts, the Terrians took up their staves and sank into the ground, disappearing without a trace. As the normal sounds began to return to the forest, the group found their voices and began talking in quiet, amazed tones. Devon walked over to Uly and gathered him in her arms, still speechless, awed that the Terrians would do this for a group of intruders into their home. She wondered if she would be so welcoming if the roles were reversed. She felt the comforting presences of Julia, Alonzo and John nearby and caught their eyes, noting that they seemed to reflect her feelings.
"I wish I knew what to say. We should have thanked them somehow." Devon muttered. The Terrian trilled and Uly smiled.
"They already know." He said. With that, he and his new companion turned and made their way instinctively to the clearing's camouflaged exit. Not much was said on the way back to camp, each person caught up in his or her own thoughts. Devon decided they would stay put for the rest of the day, an announcement that put everyone in a great mood, they went swimming, rested and generally relaxed, the burdens of travelling lifted for a while, and spirits buoyed by the incredible events of the morning. They all knew they would be travelling again in the morning, and that they still had a long way to go before they reached New Pacifica, but somehow that didn't seem to matter so much. In the months since they had crash-landed onto this new world, the general feeling was that humans were intruders, unwelcome, unwanted, and that making a life here would be difficult, a constant struggle. Now for the first time, they had been given a sign that maybe things would work out all right after all, maybe they could call this new planet home.