Rations were delivered to them from within the inner systems of Covenant. It was a simple matter of swiping identification cards to inform the system who was dining where, and once they had logged their meal, they would not be allowed access to another until the proper time came.
Lena watched her brother in between mouthfuls, trying to search out the thing she could tell was bothering him. When the food was gone, there was nothing else to occupy him, and she jumped on her chance.
“Are they going to save anything of dad’s?” She asked.
“Sure. All his writings, plans, schematics. They’ll be uploaded to the ship in case anyone wants to see them in the future.”
“What about his belongings?”
“I don’t know…his clothes, his tools, the things he made.”
“They’ll be recycled. Lena, you know this. It’s the same for everyone.”
“I know. It seems different now that it’s dad, though. I feel like I should be holding on to more.”
“Holding on to what?”
“To him. The things he said, what he did—his memory.”
“We have his stories, and our memories of him.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It has to be enough.” Her face took on lines of deep thought, her eyes seeming to focus on something far away from the table on which their meal lay unfinished. “Do you miss him?”
“Not yet. It’s still new, I don’t know if I’ve had time to miss him. Not like mom.” The other kind of death on Covenant. The end of a life unfulfilled. Something to mourn.
“No,” Lena said, her face a gentle mask of sadness at the memory brought up by those words. “Not like mom.” They fell silent as time shrunk between them, carried them both back to the moment they had heard. Their father trembling, trying to be strength enough for all four of them yet longing to give up entirely.
“Leon,” Lena said. “You’re miles away. What’s bothering you?” Leon looked up at the concerned eyes, watching him as he wandered through the past. He felt a sudden stab of shame at having kept the sphere hidden. Here was another with claim to his father’s memory, as much his heir as Leon. She deserved to know of the gift Isaac had created.
“Wait here,” he said. He stood and went into the bedroom, brought out the sphere from the bedside drawer, and went back to Lena. “I found this at dad’s.” He placed the sphere in her outstretched hands, its weight sinking into the sinews of her arms. One hand traced its intricate contours, feeling as he had done—curiously, gently.
“What is it?” Lena asked.
“It doesn’t look like Earth. I’ve seen pictures.”
“Not a model, Lena. The real thing. It can take you there.” She tore her eyes from the sphere to look at him, scoffed, tossed it back to him.
“Sure it does. What are you talking about?”
“Listen to me. It works. I need you to try something, even if it sounds crazy. Just try, okay?” She didn’t say anything, only looked at him with something like disinterest, or perhaps contempt. “Here, take it.” He went to her side, placed the sphere in her hands and closed her fingers around it. “I’m going to turn off the lights. I want you to focus everything you have inside you on that sphere. Don’t think of anything else. Are you ready?”
“Trust me, Lena. You’ll understand in a second. Close your eyes.”
Leon went to the wall and shut off the lights. He kept his distance, not wanting to interfere. Lena, on the couch, her hands around the sphere, became the center of the room. Her breath came even, slow, and Leon held his own. He dared not make a sound. He did not know what the sign of crossing would be. Then it came—unmistakable.
Lena gasped, her breath tangled with a cry, choked within her. Her eyes flew open, the sphere fell hard from her hands to thud against the floor and roll away from the table. Leon flicked on the lights and bent to pick it up, set it gently on the table, then sat and watched the wild motion of Lena’s thoughts as they played across her face. Confusion, fear, disbelief vying against each other for dominance. She picked up her glass of water and drank with trembling hands.
“What did you see?” Leon asked breathlessly. Lena waited, breathed, grew calmer before trying to put words to her vision.
“It was a room without walls,” she said. “I was in the center, just standing there. The floor was soft, and it stretched away, rising above me.”
“What colors did you see?”
“The floor was green. Above was blue—brighter blue than I’ve ever seen. Leon, what just happened to me?”
“It’s the sphere, Lena. It shows you Earth. No, it doesn’t just show it. You can hear it, smell it, feel it. Like you’re really there.”
“I don’t know. Wait here, I’ll be right back.” Leon jumped up and ran to his bedroom once more. When he came back, he had his father’s letter in his hand. He gave it to Lena.
“Dad made this?” She asked after she finished reading. Leon nodded. “Does anyone else know about it?”
“No. Just you and me.”
“You already used it?”
“Three times. The first time was an accident, though. It only lasted a second.”
“What did you see?”
“A stream—flowing water—and lots of trees around me. Last time, I was high up, standing on a mountaintop. It was freezing, and the air came at me in huge gusts. Then the world got dark, and above me—you won’t believe this. Stars.”
“Yes. Not as many as usual, but they were there above. Earth had stars, Lena, can you believe that?”
“I don’t know. You don’t think it’s dangerous, do you?”
“Dangerous?” Leon laughed. “Lena, dad made it for us. He wanted us to have it. How could it be dangerous?” Lena was shaking her head.
“You’re right. It’s from dad. What should we do with it now?” Leon had forgotten his original impulse to hide the sphere, keep it for himself. Now that he had shared it with Lena, together they were with their father again, in a way. There was one other who deserved to have that chance.
“We have to show Damien.”