Here it is–the final chapter (so far) of Eyes of Earth. Thank you so much to anyone who followed along with the story, I hope you enjoyed it! Posting this story has allowed me to take a look at it from a new perspective, and I think I’ve come away with a lot of good ideas for reworking the story even further. If you’re still here, thank you again. Without further ado: the final chapter.
Damien did not return to his quarters, nor was the relief he felt at Leon’s retrieval as complete as the others’ had been. After he left, Leon’s ordeal became secluded in the far reaches of his thoughts, shunted to the side by something larger, darker. He tucked the sphere into the thin jacket he wore over his shirt, out of sight and barely noticeable to anyone he passed as a slight protrusion near his right hip. He walked the corridors of Covenant with a singular purpose, one which he had almost forgotten, but which now recrystallized in such a way that he was not sure he had ever truly given it up. At last he reached the ship’s library and slipped into a chair that was hidden from the entrance in a small alcove. He placed his finger to the screen of the viewer and it blinked to life. His fingers moved with a life their own as he entered the ship’s database and typed out the query that would not relax its grip on his thoughts.
Personal record: Bergman, Andrew
“Access denied. Familial authorization required.” Damien stared at this message. He had half-expected it, but that did not prepare him for the feeling that he had smashed into a wall. The words shimmered before his unblinking eyes, and his mind swirled around the truth of what he knew must be done. He resisted it, tried to think of an alternative, anything other than the course which seemed inevitable.
Twenty minutes later Damien was in his quarters, a finger hovering over the screen of his communicator. It was only the knowledge that his call would not be answered that gave him the courage to connect. The message he had expected to see flashed across the screen.
Elle Bergman is not in her quarters. Leave a message? Y / N
Damien touched the Y and heard a faint crackle of static that signaled the microphone activating.
“Elle, this is Damien. I know you’re at Leon’s, so I called you here. I need you to contact me when you get this. It’s about your father. Please don’t tell Leon I called.”
Damien closed contact, then sat in the armchair at the center of the room to wait. The ship was nearing the end of the waking cycle. All throughout its myriad passages and doorways, Covenant prepared for the night. If he strained his senses, Damien imagined he could feel the thrum of activity passing through the metal walls around him, hear the shuffling feet, doorways closing against the light of waking.
The sound of the communication interface woke Damien. He jerked his head forward and felt the base of his neck protest the sudden movement. He stood, rubbing a tight knot, and crossed to the communicator. The name Elle Bergman was flashing on the screen.
Damien’s heart skipped a beat as he closed the contact and connected.
“Hi, Elle,” he said. Now that the moment he had been waiting for had arrived, Damien felt at a loss for what to say. He tried to search for the words he needed to put his request into action.
“Is everything okay, Damien? You sounded strange in your message.”
“Is Leon with you?”
“No, he’s in his quarters.”
“Yes. What’s this all about?”
“It’s about…” again Damien tried and failed to form his request. He sighed, and with the air he exhaled, almost without him realizing, the truth breathed into being. “It’s about the sphere. I need your authorization to access your father’s records.”
If not for the slightest hum of the interface, the barely noticeable signal that the connection was live, Damien would have thought Elle had terminated the call. He found himself drawing nearer, leaning toward the interface as though he might hear her thoughts from across Covenant.
“I think that the secret to how it works is hidden in your father’s files. The blueprint we found in my father’s quarters was incomplete—or rather it seemed to contain only the final steps. I need more to find out how it works.”
“I know that ,” she said. “We discussed the possibility that there could more there, but Damien, do you realize what you’re saying? You just saw your brother almost die because of that thing. Now you want to learn its secrets? It should never be used again.”
“I didn’t say I was going to use it!”
“Then why? Why do you need to know?”
“Elle, the sphere is the one thing my father—both our fathers—wanted to give to Covenant. We can’t just forget about it.”
“Damien, it’s dangerous.”
“Dangerous because we don’t know how it works. There might be a safer way—we need to find out.”
“You can’t be sure of the that. What if our fathers were wrong? What is Covenant doesn’t need Earth? It’s the past. We can’t really get it back. The sphere just shows us a dream.”
“A dream so real we can become lost in it. Think about it, Elle: most people on board Covenant have never even seen pictures of Earth. They’re buried in library catalogues decades old. Most people only know space. We can change that.” Now it was Elle’s turn to sigh.
“I need to think about it,” she said.
“Okay, good. Will you call me when you decide?”
“Yes, I will.”
“I know—I won’t tell Leon.”
With a click, the call was completed, and the connection severed. The silence the followed lasted well into the night. Damien lay on his bed, unable to fall asleep, wondering unceasingly what Elle’s decision would be. He could not explain his determination to unlock the sphere even to himself—after what happened to Leon, he should have wanted to rid himself of it, destroy it, throw it into space. Instead he felt a force, irresistible, slowly pulling him beneath the surface of the sphere, into a promise of the secrets contained within. Then he slipped into a world of black unconsciousness and knew no more worry.
When she ended the call, Elle knew already what her decision would be. It was only fear that kept her from immediately telling Damien—fear of herself, and the desire she felt within her that screamed against all logical action. She had almost lost Leon—had been hours away from seeing the man she loved waste away into the world within the sphere. Still, the sphere had come from her father—would he want her to ignore it? Had he known of the danger?
Elle sat in the darkness of her quarters and asked herself the same questions a hundred times. Nothing seemed to move her any further away from the fear and guilt she felt gnawing at her. Still, she had not lost the sense of inevitability—her decision had not changed, though her attack on it had been thorough. She stood up, and fear shed from her like a heavy cloak falling to the floor. A distance of five paces stretched through the darkness between her and the communicator. She crossed it, determination strengthening with each step, and in a moment, contact was made once again.
Damien woke in a haze of alarm bells, his ears desperately searching the world to locate the sound that had pierced through his slumber. When he realized it was the communicator, he did not hesitate to run to it. He pressed the screen to connect, and Elle spoke the words he had been desperate to hear.
END OF PART ONE