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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 2:15 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:43 am
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Location: Texas
Once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes skyward, for there you have been and there will you long to return.
-Leonardo Da Vinci


JJ stopped him at the airport. “Spence, you really shouldn’t be going.”

Reid tried to look innocent. “They’ve got some very interesting papers at the Oklahoma City conference. Dr. Tyler’s giving a presentation on the psychology of the…”

“Spence.” JJ gave him a look. “I checked with the conference. You’re not registered. We both know you’re only going to be in Oklahoma City as long as your layover lasts.”

Reid winced.

“Barely even needed to call, honestly.” JJ looked away. “I’m surprised the others fell for it.”

“I told them it was for medical reasons.” Reid said. “Hotch thinks I need time to recoup from the trauma of the event.”

Now JJ winced. “’Deal with the delusions,’ I suppose.”

“Yeah.” Reid nodded. “Not in so many words, but…”

JJ sighed. “I guess I wouldn’t believe it either, if I wasn’t there.” She muttered.

“I almost didn’t while I was there.” Reid said. “Rossi sort of believes us, I think. Or at least he’s willing to trust that we’re not crazy. And they all know that the place was weird, they’re just… well, it’s a lot to take on faith.”

“Kind of a wonder they don’t suspect you of going back.” JJ said. “If I had a person I thought had gotten brainwashed by a cult, I wouldn’t let them hop a plane anywhere.”

“Aren’t we past the ‘cult’ idea now?” Reid frowned. “I thought Thornberry’d won that argument. With the DRC going public and everything…”

“I think the jury’s still out until we’ve verified that all the ‘missing persons’ have come forward.” JJ said. “And that they’re in their right mind… That’s going to be fun.”

“I think that’s why Hotch allowed the time off, actually.” Reid said. “He doesn’t want me working on that project, so this gets me out of the way.”

“And he’s too overwhelmed to think about this too hard.” JJ nodded. “That probably helps.” Her face changed, and she stepped closer to Reid, tapping his chest with her finger. “But I have the time to think about this, and I was there, and I’m saying you shouldn’t go back.”

Reid slowly nodded. “I know.” He said. “You’re right.”

Neither one of them said anything for a long moment. Reid looked at the floor, then, slowly, his eyes slid up to give JJ a pleading look.

JJ sighed and rubbed her forehead. “Call me.” She said, firmly, looking back up at him. “Call me every morning with your daily plan. And in the evening, with what happened. And don’t pick up any books, or I swear I will head out there and find you and kill you.”

Reid blinked. “In this situation, that would imply that you would also be trapped in whatever bizarre book world I had…” His voice trailed off.

JJ gave him a meaningful look.

Reid swallowed. “I’ll be careful.” He said.

#

His layover lasted about six hours. He spent the time looking through a treatise on Ancient MesoAmerican peoples, finger flicking through the pages on his Kindle with casually stupefying speed.

The flight to Lea County came in around 1 am and he boarded a nearly empty plane. They turned off the lights immediately after takeoff. The whole dark, silent flight, Reid stared out the window at the ground far below.

Lea County Airport was nearly empty too, with only two kiosks for people to buy tickets at. There was still a car rental booth, though, and a sleepy-eyed teen took down Reid’s insurance information for the Ford Explorer he climbed into in the parking lot. From 5 to 6 am the asphalt sped under the SUV’s tires.

The sun was just peeking over the horizon when he rolled into the ranch. The mobile home was empty—Zandi still hadn’t come back yet—and there was no one to see him drive up to the Cleft and descend the ladder. He found the room with the projector easily enough, the signs in the sequencer still marked with the combination for Yeesha’s original message.

Reid began to shift the stones.

In his head, he saw the chamber with the pillars again, the narrow stone ledges above a starry expanse. Except there were no longer stars underneath, now the mosaic of a city could be seen, dizzingly far below. All four pillars were back in their original places, gleaming with a new light.

But the symbols on the floor… the symbols had changed.

Those new symbols now appeared on the sequencer, and Reid pressed the button in the center with trembling fingers.

Nothing happened. The hologram projector remained inert. But outside, there was, too quickly to be coincidence, the sudden roll of thunder.

Reid’s forehead knitted. “Impossible.” He muttered.

“That’s what everyone says.” A new voice said.

Reid turned around. In the doorway stood an olive-skinned woman, clothed in exotic blue clothing, strange tattoos covering her face and arms. Reid had seen her before, in this same room, but she had been an impossible hologram. Now she was an impossible reality.

She gave a smile. “But nevertheless, it is raining.”

She turned and leaned against the door in a way that was clearly inviting. Reid hesitantly stepped beside her and looked up. The sky, clear just moments before, was suddenly full of clouds, and a gentle rain was falling down.

Yeesha stepped outside, and Reid followed. She climbed up the ladder, out of the cleft, and stood on the barren desert. Reid came up beside her and stood, uncertain of what he was waiting for.

“The water picks up many things as flows on its path to the river.” Yeesha said, her voice still in that sing-song tune. “The water has no intent to do so, it is simply in its nature. Many things there are, in the water, that are not the water and are yet are inextricably bound to it.”

Reid’s forehead was knotted. “Is this… a metaphor comparing water’s nature as a universal solvent to the mass migration of… of your people?”

Yeesha blinked and smiled. “I’m sorry.” She said, turning slightly. “Father tells me I need to stop getting carried away with all the… poetry. It doesn’t seem to exactly be something I can turn off, really.” She shook her head. “Seems like everything is a metaphor for something else. With so many of us, returning to our homeland, beginning it anew, we should have really considered what traces our disappearance would leave. I’d never really pictured my books being picked up by someone not of D’ni heritage—not sure why, some of our oldest legends are of strangers falling into our stories.”

“How do they work?” Reid knew he shouldn’t ask, but he had to know.

Yeesha’s smiled broadened. “To know the secrets of the D’ni Linking Books would take years of study, and as for my books…” She held up a hand to feel the rain. “…not even the greatest in the Writing Guild could tell you how they work. Nor could I.”

“Is it an… instinctive thing?”

“Perhaps. You want to ask if it’s magical; perhaps it’s that too. I’m just not sure how to explain it. Words are too… imprecise.” Yeesha looked down at her hands. “Even if I could describe the steps, I don’t think you could replicate the process.”

Reid grimaced but nodded. “Like trying to copy a Stradivarius.” He said. “We can know the measurements and the composition, but the product still depends on the craftsman.”

Yeesha’s forehead wrinkled, stretching her facial tattoos into odd shapes. “What’s a Stradivarius?”

“Nothing.” Reid shook his head. He blew out a long breath. “Why did I come back…?” He muttered.

“I truly don’t know.” Yeesha said. “Normally our wanderers are those who have felt the call of their blood back to the ancient city. Why you, a stranger to the D’ni culture, should feel so… compelled to return…” She shrugged. “…but the ways of D’ni are hardly limited by genetics. Perhaps the city left its mark on you.”

Reid shook his head. “I think it’s just unresolved issues. I hate not knowing the answers to things and this… this whole thing has been a series of impossible questions.”

“Life is full of such questions.” Yeesha said. “The very universe around us is full of deeper and more wonderful mysteries than we will ever know. The search for such answers is good, but one must accept that they can never know all of them.”

Reid just grunted. Again he wondered why they were out, staring up at the mountain.

“I have talked with the others.” She said, turning to face him more fully. “We think the city should assume a more public role—at the very least to avoid such incidents in the future. But also—we can hardly expect not to be a part of the world above us. If D’ni is to live again, the water cannot stay in its own pool, it must circulate between many tributaries.”

“You really can’t turn that off, can you?” Reid said. “Is it some sort of reaction against a reductionist viewing or was your childhood education mediated through symbols a great deal?”

Yeesha laughed. “It’s just something I do.” She said. “Though perhaps the D’ni culture’s emphasis on symbols as tied to the nature of reality impacts the psychological development of language.”

Reid looked at her.

Yeesha shrugged. “Hard to say. In any case, the city grows, both from the new and the old.”

She gestured up at the mountain, and Reid, looking up, caught just the tail end of dark shapes moving about the cone. Figures, almost humanoid and yet not, crawling away into the crater like giant frogs.

At the distance, the croaking noises were faint but unmistakeable.

“They return.” Yeesha said.

“The… Bahro, right?” Reid said. “The Least? The D’ni slaves?”

“Our shame and our redemption.” Yeesha smiled. “D’ni was as much their world as it was ours. They too return, and it is to be hoped we can live in better friendship than our mutual ancestors. Those you see up there return to the home you have prepared for them.” Reid looked at her uncomprehending and she nodded toward the book. “The pillars you gathered. They were Bahro religious icons. Those that you returned to their original resting places have called these back home.”

Reid looked up again. The dark forms were almost gone. “I’m… not sure what that’ll do.” He said.

“No one is.” Yeesha said. “But we proceed anyway.” She looked at him. “As you should. With JJ.”

Reid’s eyes grew wide. “How…”

But Yeesha just shook her head and smiled. “No one ever knows what the future holds.” She said. “Or even the present. Most of life is leaping into the unknown with little more than faith to sustain us.” She stepped away. “So leap.”

She vanished, the rain leaving a shimmering imprint of her for a single moment before it splashed to the ground.

#

“Good to see you back.” JJ said, a day later, as he walked into her office. “I thought you were planning to spend more time back there.”

“I was.” Reid said. He perched himself, somewhat awkwardly, on the side of her desk. “It just… seemed like more time wasn’t going to make things any clearer.”

“Figures.” JJ expletive her head at him. “So… what happened?”

Reid swallowed. “Jay…” He said. “Can we talk?”

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”

-Ursula K LeGuin


_______________________________
A/N: And that's that. This should not have taken me so long, but I'm glad it's finished.

Yes, I changed Yeesha's dialogue. I'm sorry, I know she's supposed to come across as charismatic and slightly messianic, but she just comes off as pompous and unnatural in the game. So I gave her something of a mixture of poetic and natural. I also made up details about why you need to return the pillars--I'm certain there will be people here more than happy to correct me about why pillars==more Bahro. I never played Myst 5, though I understand the reunion with the Bahro isn't entirely happy.

Well. Anyway, it's been fun.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:27 pm 
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Obduction Backer

Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:14 pm
Posts: 4232
Location: Digging around in the dusty archives, uncovering Uru history.
Thank you, Afalstein. I enjoyed this ending as much as I did the other chapters.

No need to apologize for the "literary license" you took with Yeesha's dialogue. It worked well for this story, IMO. Besides, I think many of us would have liked Yeesha to have been more like you wrote her.

I've enjoyed this story so much that I highly recommend it to others. To that end, I've collected links to all the chapters and posted it to the "Memorable Threads?" thread. Link to my post.

Thank you for sharing your talented writing and storytelling with us. !chev shem

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