Bite-sized Backstory 48: Departure (Destiny)
When we next see Mara Sov, she is far from former Queen Alis Li’s retreat and far above the perfect Awoken world that has been her home for the past several thousand years. Mara, and all that have chosen to take up her call to return to earth, are aboard the massive starships Mara spent millennia working towards.
Embedded in her sensorium, all Mara has to do is think and the systems built into all the ships in her fleet respond to her whims. With nothing but a thought of the banyan trees far below her, Mara opens a channel to the rest of the fleet and starts a final systems check. This plays out much like our rocket launches of today, where Mara as the Flight Controller queries each team leader and gets a go or no go from them. FIDO (Flight Dynamics Officer), Guidance, INCO (Integrated Communications Officer), GEOD (ground tracking?), BIO (life support systems?), Sensors, and Weapons all report go for launch.
With everything ready, Mara takes one last look at the perfect world she is leading her people away from. Through the virtual, all encompassing point of view that the sensors and cameras of her sensorium provide her, Mara gazes back at the Distributary:
There it is. The world of her rebirth, shining water-blue and beautiful, wrapped like a gyroscope in its twin rings. World of laughing Corsairs, world of breathless forest hunts, world of mountains flickering with pale Cherenkov fire, world of sweet berry-stained lips and mathematical insight pure as a rhodium chime. She will never see it again.
And then, Mara thinks of her mother, and we learn that Osana decided not to go with her daughter on this new journey. For a moment, Mara finds herself caught up in the memory of the night her mother told her.
The two had shared a late night of drinks and conversation at Osana’s ranch, but as the sun began to come up, Mara’s mother broke the bad news. To Mara, it was like a nightmare come true. She never really considered carrying out her plan without her mother somewhere close by. When Mara asks why, her mother replies that Uldren isn’t speaking to her anymore.
"Because I already told him I wasn't coming with you. I'm happy here."
“Mom," Mara says, with rising anger, "I'm happy here too. That's not the point—" A conversation that did not so much end as beat itself to an unsustainable emotional pulp, hours later. No catharsis. No closure.
And so, after what seems to have been a long, painful argument, Mara and her mother are left hanging and disconnected from one another as Mara sets off to fulfill her plan.
Back in the present, Sjur’s urgent voice comes over the comms.
"Flight, Sensor," Sjur Eido calls. "I have anomalous starfield occlusions, bearing—"
"Intercept!" Mara shouts. "They're missiles!" It had to happen. Someone had to try to stop the departure, someone good and Paladin-pure who believes they are saving tens of thousands of Awoken from madness and doom.
Uldren, who is in charge of the fleet’s weapons warns Mara that they won’t be able to shoot down all the missiles. This forces Mara to make a painful choice. She orders Uldren to redirect their defensive fire to target the missiles aimed at the gateway that will take their ships back to our normal universe. It means that they will lose ship and hundreds if not thousands of brave Awoken who volunteered to go Mara’s mission, but it is either that or have the gateway destroyed and the mission stopped before it can even start.
With her next thought, Mara sends a command to the fleet ordering all of her ships to abort from the planned countdown and skip directly to launch. Mara’s fleet strains as it accelerates towards the gateway they built above the Distributary. Some of the ship are hit, damaged, maybe even destroyed, but the gateway remains undamaged by the attack.
We don’t get to see the implications or consequences of this new wave of Awoken on Awoken violence. Someone decided to attack Mara Sov, the most powerful figure in Awoken society. They killed hundreds of their own kind and I can only imagine what sorts of justifications and accusations will play out back on the Distributary once Mara is gone. Maybe this attack is smoothed over and the Awoken in their pocket universe go on about their peaceful lives? Or, maybe this violent act shatters Awoken society once more and the Distributary descends into a new civil war? We just don’t know.
Back on her ship, Mara braces against the hard acceleration. Her final thoughts, before her ship reenters the singularity that brought her to this strange hidden dimension, center on her mother. In response, her sensorium tries to open a channel to Osana, and the last thing Mara sees is the error:
No connection. No connection. No connection. Cannot connect to Osana.
And with that, Mara Sov and her Awoken are on their way back to our universe and our solar system. We’ll catch back up with Mara, her brother Uldren, and the rest of her Awoken very soon in:
- Bite-sized Backstory 48: Departure -
- Thanks! I’ve missed these reads - Oholiab, 2019-06-01, 14:08