Chapter 80: A New Beginning

The weeks following the devastation of the Sha capital ship were a blur of temporary alliances and tense negotiations. Leliana was awake for three days after the ship came down; navigating a labyrinth of ruined hallways with teams of elites brought together by the Gungrave military and the monks cooperatively. She’d been trained to work without sleep of course, but that didn’t make the pillow at the end of the stint any less magical when she collapsed onto it.

When she woke, it was to the heated discussion between Lilith and the Overseer regarding exactly how she’d been able to put that much firepower in such a short window directly onto his city and exactly how many more she had. Lilith, being Lilith, smirked and said not to worry his pretty little head about it. Then she waved to a groggy Leliana, sidled onto a waiting airship, and disappeared.

Forever, hopefully.

The Overseer spluttered and raged and went red in the face, but ultimately decided he couldn’t do anything about it for now. There was too much to do in putting his city back together that he even stooped to asking the monks to stay. The weather had turned against them a few days after the fall, dumping half a meter of snow on the recently homeless population of Gungrave. Fortunately the monks had spent decades facing off against nature and were only too happy to share their expertise to ensure the survival of the people.

It was nearly four weeks later that Leliana found herself bouncing anxiously on the newly restored deck of the Titanic Teena, packed and ready to get the hells out of this bleak bore-scape. She gently thumbed the new inhibitor she’d allowed the scientists to install to suppress all the damn noise coming at her from all directions all the time. This one had a manual on-off feature, of course. How had those blue bastards advanced so far as a society without going mad first?

“Hammer.” Teena called.

“Hammer.” Leliana provided.

“Not this one!”

“You’ve got fifty hammers how am I supposed to pick!”

“There’s only seven and they all have very specialized features.” Teena plopped onto the deck and splayed the hammers around her.

Oh…Oh no. What had she done?

“This one is obviously a carpenter’s hammer because of the teeth, see? They’re for pulling nails and chopping planks when they give you splinters and then this one-”

You’d think she’d have learned her lesson after the wrench 101 Teena inflicted on her just earlier that day. Her heart nearly leapt out of her skin when the lift Teena installed whirred to life, depositing a rosy cheeked Jovi onto the platform next to them. She bowed beneath a bundle of bulging baggage. Her hair had broken free of its restraints and had gone wild in the wind, making her look a bit like a tiny mammoth.

“Jovi!” Leliana redirected Teena’s attention the instant her small friend paused for breath. “What are you doing here?”

“Hi Jovi!” Teena chimed. “I was just giving Leli a rundown on some basic tools since we’re going to be working together for a while and it would be silly for her to walk around thinking this was going to be any use to me while I’m trying to beat an actuator into place. THIS?”

Jovi smiled. “Well, that is silly, isn’t it?”

“You’re full of crap.” Leliana crossed her arms.

Jovi’s laugh was almost musical after the long hours listening to Teena manhandle her technology into place. “You’re right, I have no idea. Oh, I am going to miss you dearly Teena. You be sure to take care of yourself and come tell me everything when you get back.” She swiped her eyes. “I’ve just come to bring you gals these gifts from the brotherhood. Just some odds and ends to help get you through the long days.” The bags clanked heavily to the floor.

“Aww, that’s so cool what’s in them? I hope there’s not any tools in there because I’m going to have an awful lot of teaching to do on this trip if there are although come to think of it I could definitely use a thermometer so I can stop checking the steam line with my bare hands.”

Teena hopping up and down and flailing and cursing was a cherished memory that was going to be making Leliana laugh for a long time.

“I’m not sure, sorry.” Jovi said. “I wrote you all letters to be opened once you’re gone, and Gib included a bundle of poetry and a picture of himself that he drew from memory. Everything else was packed before I got them.”

“Thanks, I’m sure it’ll be fun to go through once we’re all dying of boredom in a day or two.” Leliana said. “You guys moving on soon, too?”

Jovi shook her head. “Helga and the Overseer worked some kind of deal out I wasn’t privy to, but it seems like we’ll be staying through next summer at the very least. Probably longer. It’s the only pass through the Watchers for a thousand miles though, so I look forward to seeing you all once the snow melts.”

“Hey!” A tiny voice demanded suddenly from the ground. “Get that stupid lift down here!”

“I’d better be going too.” Jovi hugged them each. “You all take care of each other!”

The lift whirred into action once again, whisking Jovi back to the ground only to be replaced by a sweaty Karina lying in a heap of mechanical parts. “I think I got it all.” She panted. “What was Jovi doing here?”

“Came to drop off some stuff.” Leliana said, scooping up the spare parts and modifications Teena had sent for. The steel parts were freezing and rough and heavy, a stark contrast to the smooth and almost comically light Sha crystals mixed in the pile.

“Chief Engineer Tao says if you ask for any more crystal she’s going to personally come up here and duel you for ownership of the ‘metal man’.” Karina reported.

“I’d like to see her try! If I can beat up those big ogres single handedly there’s no way she’s any challenge. And besides, she’s a metal woman.”

Karina giggled.

The rungs of the ladder up the titan’s leg started to ping, and it wasn’t long before Antros pulled himself over the edge. He wore a scowl and the biggest backpack Leliana had ever seen. “These requisition people are impossible.” He said.

“But did you get the stuff?” Karina looked ready to burst into tears at the thought of going shopping again.

“Yeah, yeah, I got it all. And some extra just because I’m an asshole.”

“Little extra food never hurt nobody.” Karina sighed, relaxing again.

“Well I guess we’re all here… Are you still onboard Antros? We probably won’t hit any big cities for a while. There’s a lot of ruins to explore between here and them. Relics to pilfer, artifacts to steal. You know the game”

Antros dumped his pack unceremoniously into a closet and stretched his shoulders. “Kid. In the four months we’ve known each other, you’ve been almost dead for about three of them. Not to mention the civilization ending bombs, world ending plague, and the alien invasion of psychic monsters. The moment I turn my back on you I’m positive you’ll unearth something catastrophic and then I’m gonna feel like it was all my fault.”

“It will be your fault.” She laughed.

“Oh, oh! Okay, let me get these binders on the wrist and we’ll be ready to go!”

Teena sang as she beat steel and aluminum into submission.

“Okay,” she finally announced, “I think she’s better than ever! Permission to cast off, captain?” Teena stood at attention, saluting.

Saluting who?

Saluting me?

“Whoa whoa, I’m no captain.” Leliana said. She caught Karina and Antros grinning out of the corner of her eye. “What?”

“Gotta be somebody, kid. Why not you?”

“Lead the way cap’.” Karina saluted.

She was suddenly very warm. “Stop messing around!”

Karina giggled again. “I think it’s cute when you blush.”

“Wh- St- LET’S JUST GET THIS THING MOVING!” Leliana buried herself under the mountain of bags Jovi had dropped off as Teena skipped into the control room. The world shifted as the giant took its first new step, then another, and another. And just like that, she was on her way to the rest of her life.

_______________________________________________

Hello Readers!

This is the end of our tale. I appreciate everyone who took the time to read my little project, and I certainly hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Please feel free to drop me a message anytime with any comments or questions –

Happy reading

Author: keyboardcouple

A couple who write and learn in front of their keyboards.

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