Sitting cross-legged on the observation platform on the roof of their home, Liam Kinearth looked out to the gentle waves of the ocean that was their backyard and watched his father as he windsurfed, clearly at peace with their new world. Liam felt the smile forming on his face and he just knew his eyes were going to be full of the wonder that still touched his soul at times... his father, their house... their home.
The disaster that had brought them to Ringal had been such a blessing in disguise that he still sometimes felt like it had to all be a dream. From the day of his birth he had longed for one thing, to be part of a family. His mother had been taken away from him by the realities of the world that they lived in; his father had seemed beyond reach. Not here, though. Away from the factions and the behind the scenes maneuvering they had been granted the most precious gift either of them had ever been given; freedom. Freedom to be themselves, freedom to choose, and freedom to love... and he did love his father, more and more every day.
His father showed infinite patience with him; a gift if you were a child, an unexpected blessing if you were... well, him. He was an adult; that had been his fate from the moment of his conception. Ha'gel had needed his child to be fully ready for a dangerous world and had created him the body - and given him the mind - needed to survive in that world. It would have been nice to have had a childhood, mused Liam, but, in many ways, this was better. He and his father were equals. The bonds that bound them together were shared respect for each other's abilities, duty to others, and duty to self, friendship and love.
Unique had been the word he'd been tagged with from the day of his birth - that and first of its kind. Could his relationship with his father be any less unique? Since they'd arrived on Ringal, they'd walked side by side down a path that uncounted millions had travelled; parent and child. Their steps, however, marked uncharted territory... there had never quite been a parent and child like them. They would embrace all that fate could throw at them, content as long as they were together.
Liam shook off his musings and got to his feet. It was his turn to make dinner and his father would have worked up an appetite after all that windsurfing.
Leora Kinsalis sighed as she stared at the results of the tests in front of her. Chief Diagnostician and Healer for the Southern Enclave Ocean Guard she had been tasked with the care of the Guard's two most unusual members - the Kinearths. Those two men had shaken the very foundations of their world but it was hard to take them to task for it. They were gentle, caring and supremely dedicated - both to their duty in the Ocean Guard and to each other.
She had quickly become fond of them both and it was her staff that had been given the duty of looking after their health. This was not as easy as it seemed - both flung themselves head first into danger's path if an innocent life was in need or a guilty party needed to be brought to justice. Add to that their uncanny intelligence and peculiar familial relationship and you'd think that that would be enough for most people. Leora snorted at the thought.
Liam's blood-work never failed to have the diagnostic equipment in fits - bells and whistles went off every time he entered the facility. They'd explained to her his heritage was 'a little bit different' and said that the machines wouldn't know what to make of him. Little bit different, my foot. Walking enigma was a far better description; and then there was Ron.
Ronald Kinearth was a hard man to read - except for the love and caring in his eyes every time he looked at his son - but he had a good heart. Leora knew her feelings ran quite a bit deeper than that - a fact that had surprised her no end when she'd realised exactly what she was feeling - she'd lost her husband four turnings before the Kinearths had arrived on Ringal and had more or less accepted that she'd lost the only man that she would ever love. Ron Kinearth had quickly disrupted that assumption.
It had taken half a turn of gentle persistence before she'd managed to convince Ron that she was serious and he still refused to take things further than a few intimate evening meals. His reasoning had been plain. The implant in his head would kill him - sooner rather than later - and there was nothing anyone could do about it. He said he would not let her become too emotionally attached, that he cared about her too much to let her love him and then lose him. The CVI - as he and Liam described it - was so far beyond the medical technology of Ringal that there was nothing that they could do about it except monitor him. The bleak look in Liam's eyes whenever it was discussed could not be disguised. Her heart bled for them both still. Their time together was finite and they knew it.
Leora wiped away the solitary tear that was tracing a path down her cheek. The full body scans from their recent tests could not be changed by wish or prayer... it had started. Ronald Kinearth was dying. He had a quarter turn at most.
She lifted the receiver on her vox to call them both to her office when her assistant burst in and disturbed her. The base was going on full alert. There was a passenger ship in trouble - it had collided with a fishing vessel that had been fishing illegally in protected waters. Both ships were going down and all available rescue personnel were on scene... casualties would be arriving soon.
Setting the vox receiver down, Leora did her duty and got her staff ready for action. Her friends would have to wait; her duty came first this time. Besides, Liam was probably at the centre of the rescue operation.
Leora Kinsalis set a reassuring hand on the tense shoulder of her dear friend and unwilling love, and said, "I'm sure that he will be fine, Ron."
She felt a shudder traverse his frame and blinked back tears at the anguish in his eyes as he said, "He's fourteen hour-- arns overdue, Leora! His team got the girl he put in his own harness and pulled her out. They've lost contact with him! It's getting dark and--"
"And you're worried. You have every right to be, Ron. We all are. Liam touches hearts wherever he goes, you know that. If it were at all possible for the teams to keep searching they would be. They'll be back out there at first light and you know they'll keep looking until--" Her voice cut off and both their heads whipped round at the sound of feet running along the corridor.
The gasped message from the runner from the control centre had them all running back down the corridor and out to the jetty. It was true! Leora gaped at the sight that greeted them. Liam was alive! Nobody moved as they stared at the amazing sight of their star pilot as he floated, arms wrapped around the fin of the large dolphin that supported him. His tired, "I could do with some help, here," broke the stasis that the crowd seemed to be caught in and two of his squad jumped into the water to support him to the edge of the jetty and lift him out of the water. He was lifted straight into the blanket that Ronald Kinearth had grabbed from one of the waiting medical technicians, and wrapped, both in it, and the loving arms of his father.
The questions and yells from Liam's squad and the medical personnel cut off abruptly as all eyes turned to the large white dolphin. A white dolphin was a miracle in itself. Nobody had seen one in living memory and they had been thought to be all but extinct. That one had somehow rescued their friend was absolutely unbelievable. All eyes watched as the dolphin swam as close to the jetty as it could before lifting itself to balance on its tail in front of the still embracing father and son.
Leora watched as Liam turned his head and rested his cheek on his father's shoulder. Clearly exhausted, he looked at the dolphin and said, "Thank you, my friend." Leora bit back a gasp of wonder as the dolphin bowed its head in acknowledgement of the young man's thanks. All eyes watched as Ronald Kinearth gently loosed his arms from his son and bowed to the dolphin, his hand raised in a curiously strange - yet obviously familiar - gesture of respect; again, the dolphin bowed. It then slumped back down into the water and turned back out to the deep waters of the ocean.
"All right, then," cried Leora, clapping her hands to get the attention of the still stunned personnel on the jetty, "let's get this young man checked out and notify Central Command of his safe - if somewhat unbelievable - return."
Leora sat in the silent family room of the Kinearth household. It was three dawnings since the 'Ocean Miracle' as the newscasts were calling it. The miraculous rescue of the 'star' pilot, Liam Kinearth by one of the most fabled ocean creatures of Ringal had been headline news for the past two dawnings. It was considered a powerful sign of hope all around the planet and had excited much debate about a species thought extinct. The crew of the fishing vessel that had caused the accident were facing stiff penalties as the planet's focus once again turned to protecting the ecosystem - especially with the reappearance of such a rare species.
She looked at the calmly acceptant face of Ron and the terror shining in Liam's green eyes and said, "I'm sorry. I meant to tell you the day of Liam's rescue but things happened so fast. I let you both have as much time as I could but Ronald had to be told."
"How long?" asked Ron, hand reaching out to reassuringly touch his son's forearm.
"A quarter turn at the most."
He nodded his head in acknowledgement and looked at the pale face of his son. Returning his gaze to her own, Leora heeded the plea in them and excused herself saying that she had to get back to the base.
Once Leora had gone, Ron acted on instinct and put an arm around Liam's shoulders and pulled him in close. Placing his forehead on his son's, he said, "It's all right, Liam. I'm ready. I've had more time with you than I ever dared hope for. I have no right to ask for more."
"Yes, you do," whispered Liam, two tears falling slowly down his face. "Somehow, I'll fix this."
Heart heavy at the anguished determination in his son's voice, Ron placed a quick kiss on his forehead and left to make the evening meal, allowing Liam the time he needed to compose himself.
Two nights later, Liam was once again back on the observation platform. This time, he was sitting leaning against the far wall with his arms wrapped round his knees. His eyes were raised to the stars but he saw none of the celestial wonder overhead. His mind's eye was caught up in the memory of Siobhan dying in his arms; hand clasped tightly in his own as he showed her the truth of who he was.
His eyes dropped to his knees and he opened his hand to stare at the palm that had clasped his mother's slender hand. His eyes narrowed at the small mark of his shaqarava... it hadn't been that clear in years. His eyes slowly widened as a thought occurred to him and he quickly settled himself into the lotus position. Slowing his breathing and calming his thoughts, Liam reached out with his mind. He called out one word, Ha'gel!
The next thing he knew he found himself standing on a sandy beach, the glowing figure of his Kimera parent at his side.
"I was wondering how much longer it was going to take you, my son," said Ha'gel, with a gentle smile on his aristocratic alien features.
"Please," said Liam. "No cryptic mumbo-jumbo. Not now."
Ha'gel looked into the green eyes of his human child and saw the pain and worries there. Unused to the act though he was, Ha'gel placed a reassuring hand on the young man's arm and patted it gently. "As you wish, Liam.
"You're here because of your human father's failing health and the sudden insight that you had in your meditations." It was a statement, not a question.
Liam nodded. "Can I do it, Ha'gel? Can I heal him?" Liam held his metaphorical breath in this thought-plane as he waited for an answer.
"Yes, my son."
"Remember what I told you before, Liam. Your Kimera abilities were submerged on Earth. Mostly as a self-preservation instinct but some of it was because of your continued existence on the planet. You are back amongst the stars, my son, and in a world and an environment where you feel safe. Your abilities are waking from their dormancy and will continue to grow stronger now that you are secure in your freedom, and in your human father's acceptance and love."
Ha'gel couldn't help but smile at the joy in his son's eyes. At Liam's query of how to heal his father, Ha'gel replied, "Remember your friend Augur."
Liam nodded his understanding just as they both heard a faint voice calling, "Liam!"
"Go, my son. He is calling you."
Ha'gel watched as Liam took a deep breath and nodded. Liam raised his hand to his father, and Ha'gel, touched by the generous offer, raised his own hand to briefly Share with his child. Liam let him see his peace and happiness and Ha'gel reciprocated with his affection for and great pride in his child.
"Goodbye, my son."
Blinking his eyes slowly, Liam looked into the concerned depths of his father's eyes. Impulsively, he wrapped his arms around him and hugged him. He then scrambled to his feet and began to jog down the staircase and into the house, calling for his father to follow.
It was an arn later before Ron had heard everything to his satisfaction and he wasn't quite sure of what to say. He opened his mouth to say so but the expression in Liam's eyes stopped him. Liam wanted to... no, Liam needed to try this. Sighing, Ron nodded his willingness to his son and said, "What do you want me to do?"
Liam smiled fondly at the uncertain tone in his father's voice. "Just sit there and trust me, father."
"Always, Liam. Always."
Liam moved to sit on the small hand-crafted table in front of his father's seat and put one hand on his father's forehead, and the other on his chest. Then, he opened his heart and his mind and acted on faith, instinct, and his soul-deep need to keep his father with him...
The next evening found them in Leora's medical centre. She'd run Ron through every test she could think of - twice - and could find no trace of the cellular decay that had been killing him less than two dawnings before.
"I have no idea how he did it," she said with a smile while looking at Liam and Ron, "but I can't find a thing wrong with you, Ron. You're healed."
Ron accepted the hug she gave him with good grace. He then looked at Liam for a long moment and then said in a simple yet eloquent tone of voice, "Love healed me, Leora."
She smiled as they both left her office and headed home. Love. Love like those two shared was a privilege to witness. The father and son from the stars gave them all hope. Their world had been blessed when these two arrived on it and she knew it, they all did - the only two that seemed unsure of that fact were Liam and Ron themselves.
Well, Ringali were nothing if not patient. They'd convince them of their worth if it took another fifty turns to do it. Packing up her things for the evening, Leora headed out to have a walk on the beach. Ron was healthy, Liam was happy, and her heart felt a hundred times lighter than it had in a long while. It was a good day to be alive.