The Kueri that Lore appeared in was not the lush, well-treed Kueri of
years past. With the onset of drought, the trees had withered and the
grass had died. The people grew hardier plants now, fruit bearing
shrubs with rubbery skin thicker than one's thumb that would not dry out
in the worst of the desert clime. They used to be grown as conversation
pieces during the time of Mother Brain. Now they became a matter of
survival. Hugh hoped the Biolab would be able to genetically engineer
variants of the plants that would be able to provide more of the
nutrients Palmans needed, nutrients that had previously only been found
in the plants native to Palm, those which could not survive in the open
air of arid Motavia.
At the thought of Hugh, Lore's thoughts came down again, ruining any
comfort of coming home. But here she could find someone to talk to,
someone who was more distant to everything else that was happening.
Face to face was better than messaging back and forth.
She walked through town, gazing at streets far less lively, perhaps even
less sunny, than in their prime. Somehow Kueri even struck her as being
desolate. Her family's home was towards the eastern edge of town,
overlooking the tracts of empty land that used to be the suburb of
Nesha. After the biomonster attack and the resulting fire, Mother Brain
had razed all the buildings to the ground. There was nothing left now,
not even the foundations, but it still held memories. That was probably
why her father chose this place for their next home. Memories serve as
reminders, he would say.
She came up to the house, a two story affair with a simple design and
plenty of room. There were two bedrooms upstairs and a third on the
bottom with an exit for the yard. The old house had had four bedrooms,
but the new home would have been too empty with another.
Lore thought about knocking on the door since she wasn't expected, but
thought better of it and let herself in. "Anyone home?" she asked as
she stepped inside.
"I thought you'd show up," said a voice, coming from the open doorway of
the ground floor bedroom. "Dad's out running an errand."
Lore came to the doorway and looked inside. A young woman, also with
long black hair, sat in a wheelchair by a desk. She used to have a sort
of hoverchair to help her around the house and through town, but it had
broken down a year ago and they had been unable to find a replacement.
The woman was tiny and frail, her body much bonier than it ought to be.
She was bent over a sheet of paper with a variety of watercolors
arranged around her. Another landscape illustration, Lore could see.
"Jake's at the hospital right now," said her sister. "He'll be back to
check on me before the end of the day." She needed a lot of care,
especially now that the medical community could not provide nearly as
much as it had before. Jake was not part of the family, but he had
started looking after her during these recent years. He was a doctor
himself, so he personally handled most of her treatment.
"Myth, I want to talk," said Lore.
She nodded and set down her brush. She reached for the wheels of her
chair and gave them a push. She carefully pivoted and looked directly
into Lore's eyes. "I know. That's why you came. I suppose I shouldn't
have been so humorous in my last few messages, but I really didn't think
it would be this bad."
"Do you know what happened then?"
Myth shook her head. "No. Not exactly anyway. I just know it wasn't
anything good. It was just a feeling, nothing solid."
"There's a lot to say then. I'm not sure where to start."
Myth gestured for her to have a seat on her bed. "How about at the end
of our last message?"
"Bringing back the dead? Oh god..." Lore slumped on top of the bed.
"But he's not dead. He's in a coma. At least I can be thankful he's
still alive. Not like Aeon. I meant well, but..."
"Usually you do. And I doubt anyone's blaming you. But you're dancing
around the problem. Okay, he's still alive, you're grateful. That's
the end. What about the beginning? I can only guess so much. The rest
you have to tell me."
Lore sighed and Myth nodded in encouragement, behaving now more like an
older sister rather than the seventeen-year-old she was. "Take a deep
breath," said Myth. "I don't have much else to do right now except go
back to my painting, so take all the time you need. If you need to take
a break and get something to drink or eat, I know Dad has our kitchen
"Hey, you're the one with the legs between the two of us. You've got to
get out there and accomplish enough for us both. I've got nothing to do
all day but stew and practice my levelheadedness."
Lore smiled, knowing that wasn't entirely true. So she went to get
something to drink, came back, and told her the story. She tried to
include all the details, her hopes and frustrations, and to leave
nothing unaccounted for. But she fumbled over the recounting of her own
speech, the one that the gunman had heard. Myth let her take her time
though, only pressing for more information when Lore was able to handle
it. When she finished her tale, Myth did not speak for a long time.
Finally, she said, "Those are the risks one must take in view of the
public eye. There is no way you can inspire people, whether for good or
ill, without appearing in front of them. If there is anything worse
than malicious intent, it may well be ignorance, but you know better
now. If it happens again, it won't be for lack of you trying to prevent
Myth shrugged. "Well, I hope not. It's nothing I sense if
that's what you mean. We can't divine the future, save for a
premonition or two." She coughed and wheezed, wheeling herself over to
the nightstand to pour a medicated drink. "At the same time, you can't
hamper yourself out of fear that it might happen again." Myth swallowed
painfully and set down the glass with a wince. "People need you. You
might not believe it, but you're quite a figure these days. We hear
about you in Kueri sometimes, and we're not exactly the hub of activity
on post-Mother Brain Motavia."
Lore didn't know what to say to that, but apparently Myth did.
"You're here now," she said, "so if you don't have to go back to Paseo
right away, take some time off and think about it. Things are moving
faster than they have in centuries, unless I miss my guess. If ordinary
people like me feel overwhelmed every now and then, I can only imagine
what it's like for you and your friends."
* * * * *
Maybe this thing with Hugh wasn't like the time with Aeon. In early
AW1284, the final year of Mother Brain's rule, there had been a powerful
biomonster attack on Nesha, one of the suburbs of Kueri. It was the
viciousness of that attack that caused people to question the protection
of Mother Brain for the first time, and also when the Palman government
issued the warning that people should not to leave the cities for their
own safety. People fled from the suburbs and into the comforts of the
more crowded cities, but was all too late for Lore and her family.
Nesha had been their home ever since they moved from Camineet on Palm to
the more rural Motavia.
Lore had returned from a day at work to find the suburb aflame,
biomonsters everywhere, and people running and screaming. Survivors
were gathering a short distance away, but she learned that her siblings
were not among them. Her brother, Aeon, had run home to save Myth, who
would never be able to make it out of the wreckage on her own. Without
much thought herself, she chased after him.
There were still biomonsters about, some being wrangled by hunters and
others plain running wild. Her father had taught her how to use a sword
however, and Lore managed to fair well enough on her own. One good
strike and an aggressive shout was usually enough to deter them, and as
the fire spread, less of them seemed as inclined to stick around.
By the time she caught up to Aeon he was already helping their sister
away. They couldn't take Myth's hoverchair because of all the fire and
debris, so he carried her. Myth was thirteen at the time, and tiny for
her age, but Aeon was a few years older at age sixteen and in good
Lore shouted for him to follow her, and he did. The three siblings
picked a path through the fire, the smoke, and the steel. Lore thought
that since they were together they would be all right, but then a
support beam blew from a nearby house, and the debris collapsed around
them. Lore escaped unharmed, but Myth suffered a blow that rendered her
unconscious and Aeon was pinned beneath what was once part of a wall.
She could have freed him. In fact, she insisted on it. But Aeon was
still conscious and yelled at her to take Myth to safety. Even if she
freed him, he argued, she could only help one of them to safety or
they'd all die.
Lore was the oldest, she was supposed to have been in charge. She was
supposed to have been in control. But how could she have chosen between
one sibling and the other? Aeon's frantic words pounded at her,
screaming, and she carried Myth away, but long after the fires had
cooled, long after the funeral for Aeon, she carried the thought with
her that it should never have been her right to choose.
Since then she never wanted there to be a death of someone she knew if
she could prevent it. Hugh had been a close second, but he lived. She
would not have to be haunted by his eyes or a dying shriek. Hugh would
wake. Please let him wake. This was not like Aeon. Lore did not
choose to hurt him, and next time she would be more careful.
* * * * *
Lore would end up spending over a week at her family's place. Her
father, the historian Orpheus Drakon, welcomed her home and briefed her
on Kueri's local situation. Before Mother Brain had banned the use of
vehicles, fishing was a popular pastime here. Now some people had begun
to have the courage to build their own boats. The size of the average
catch wasn't what it used to be, and people weren't exactly certain if
that was due to the lack of technology or a change in the fish
She figured that marine biology would probably be one of the last things
on Hugh's mind, if he was conscious, being that all the absolute
essentials were plant-based. But if the fishing could help support the
population in Kueri, it might be worth at least getting a couple of
students to look at. Maybe given enough time, an arrangement could be
worked out with the other cities. Kueri could provide them fish in
exchange for other items. The concept of importing and exporting was
better applied between cities now rather than between planets.
Lore sighed. Hugh needed to wake up. He had to. Perhaps nowhere else
on Motavia could she see how much the Biolab was needed. But this day
she came out in the barren fields to stay beside Myth, who had wanted
some fresh air. Lore had a suspicion that Jake was secretly glad for
the time off. Jake and Myth were close, but caring for her these past
few years couldn't have been easy.
After Aeon died and until Jake came into the picture, Lore had done much
of the at home caring for Myth. When Hugh told her he heard of a
government agent on a mission to solve Motavia's problems, she wanted to
help out. Dearly, she had. But she couldn't. Not with all the care
her sister needed.
"I had a dream," said Myth, looking up at the sky.
"About what?" asked Lore. Her sister often had dreams, and most times
they were unusual by Palman standards. Not necessarily for their
imagination, but because of the eerie way she could read into them.
Myth could sense things in her dreams, things that allowed her to make
guesses and predictions about what was to come. Sometimes Myth could
actively perceive things while awake, but her talent worked best with
dreams and subconscious revelations.
"This one was more distant than normal," said Myth. "I don't think it's
going to happen for a long time, but even though it's so far away, I
feel nothing but certainty from it. It's going to be a big event."
"In what way?"
"I don't know. I see a man in blue. He's ageless and terribly sad.
And behind him the sky is falling. I... I think he wants to help
somehow and he has something important to do. I think he heralds a time
of change. Something is going to happen, and it will be in a few years
This last was spoken more confidently than the rest.
"That's not much of a warning," said Lore.
"I don't think it's meant to be, at least not in the way you would
think. I've never sensed anything on such a large scale before. It's
always been people I know or maybe the area around Kueri. This will
effect everyone on Motavia. More than that, I think this message is
meant for me specifically. It's not a warning for everyone on the
planet so much as telling me that something will happen to me
when that event occurs."
"What will happen?"
"That I don't know. I hope the man in blue visits me again. I think he
will, but it might be a while."
Lore eyed the sole cloud in sight. "The sky falling... How does it
look when the sky falls?"
"Like bits of molten glass tumbling to earth."
* * * * *
Myth never minced words, at least not when she could find the right ones
to express herself. Usually she was all right, but her birth had been a
difficult one, and at one point the umbilical cord had wrapped around
her neck, nearly strangling her. During the time between when the
doctors made that assessment and when they were able to free her, small
portions of her brain had been damaged. They had managed to regenerate
parts of it, but not the whole thing, and Myth was already tiny for a
baby. Her father thought that might have been why Myth never caught up
in size and shape to her elder siblings, and possibly the odds quirks in
her personality as well.
The birth had cost the family more things than Myth's health. When Lore
went to the cemetery, it was not to visit one grave but two. Peta
"Eurydice" Drakon had died giving birth to Myth and there had been
complications while trying to revive her. Lore's father would never say
exactly what they were, but he missed her terribly. Lore missed her as
well, but more as a person she could have known, than a person she
Most young girls probably did not grow up feeling so much of a need to
protect their families. Most young women probably were not as fearful
of losing a loved one. But Lore wasn't like most girls.
The visit to Aeon's grave was brief. She brushed the dirt away and
pulled out the few hardy weeds nearby. She had no flowers since they
rarely bloomed anywhere anymore on Motavia, but she opened a small bag
she brought with her and retrieved a mix of colored stones. They did
not smell as pleasant, but they would do. She lined the headstone with
the rainbow pebbles, just as a simple sign to show that someone had come
and paid respect. Then she gathered her belongings and walked to an
older portion of the cemetery.
Lore knelt at her mother's grave, sheathed laconian sword in one hand
and her bag of pebbles in the other. She set the sword aside and
arranged the stones around the marker as she had for Aeon, but while
seeing them around Aeon's grave made her feel better, these made her
lonely. Lore closed the bag and settled herself cross-legged on the
bare earth. She pulled the sword on her lap and set one hand lightly on
its hilt. The weight was comforting, reassuring. The weapon, a family
heirloom, had been a gift from her father on her nineteenth birthday.
Orpheus Drakon had always told Lore that while she inherited his dark
hair, his music, and his love of history, her eyes and her heart came
from her mother.
Even Mother Brain could not bring back the dead, at least not after a
certain amount of time had passed, but today Lore hoped to bring out
some part of her mother, that part she found in herself.
Lore cleared her mind and closed her eyes. Here. It somehow felt right
here. By her mother's grave and with the sword she carried the day Aeon
died and the day she fought for Hugh on the spaceship Noah. History was
engraved in this sword, and with the understanding of history came
peace. Lore wanted, needed, to understand and accept.