OK, how many of you just started hearing “Rise again, rise again, like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again!” ? Un huh. I keep being surprised by how many people have heard the song, have taken it as a personal anthem, and who can recite the last verse and chorus with impassioned fervor.
For a long time, I thought the song was a Makem and Clancy original. Nope, it turned out that Mary Ellen Carter, like, Witch of the Westmerland is by Stan Rogers.
Anyway, a few months ago I was listening to the song again after several years of skipping it. And this emerged:
“No! Damn it no, I. Won’t—” Rada dug into the chaos with every bit of her being, body, heart, and soul, reaching for the symbiote as the Dark Hart began spinning into bits around them. “No.” The interior of the scout ship disappeared into shards of color, then white. The display and warning lights scattered into a mist of motes. “No!” Rada’s body seemed to be tearing apart, she could no longer feel herself as time stripped flesh from bone. NOOOO! Rada reached out, back, into her memory, reaching for her name, her true name, the name she held locked in her heart, and then reached for the symbiote.
The alien mind touched hers. Together they held firm as everything swirled and spun into nothing. They existed, pilot and processor, Wanderer-hybrid and symbiote, two creatures that should never have been. They caught and they held as time tore at them, as gravity and space and distance seemed to snatch at the two creatures with eternal ice claws, burning and freezing, as cold as space’s hell. Rada and the symbiote locked their awareness together. The creature found an undisturbed time thread, a minor strand leading to a distant potential. Rada built a body, one for the symbiote, then one for herself. Then she pulled together bits of ship, drawing on the symbiote for strength as it pulled her memory of order and physical existence. Together the creatures forced the chaos back, creating a tiny hint of order from the unending battle of entropy. Rada saw the time thread, the trace of possibility becoming more probable, more solid.
Rada’s body returned to her ken. She sensed the symbiote’s tank solidifying beside her, and the navigational display. Together Rada and the creature built the Dark Hart from the fragments of matter, bits and crumbs of creation. Painfully, atom by atom, they returned to physical existence. The symbiote found a workable planet. Rada confirmed it, as best she could this far from her known space, and they dragged the scout ship out of the spaces between times and into four-dimensional existence once more. The Dark Hart landed with a gentle thump, but whatever surface sat beneath it held. The two creatures separated their minds and sank down, one into the pilot’s chair, one into its liquid habitat, and existed. They were alive.
Where it will go, I’m not certain, although I suspect it will emerge in the next-plus-one Cat book.
(C) Alma T. C. Boykin 2016 All Rights Reserved