How Can I Keep From Singing?

From RPGnet
Jump to: navigation, search

This is our collective farewell to a labor of love and laughter. And it shows.--Maer

Sunday, 09 Apr 2524
Earhart Family Plot
Earhart-Johannsen Ranch, Boros
Georgia (Huang Long) system

The Earharts buried their dead on the land they loved. It was on a rise some distance from the main house, far enough for privacy and peace, and yet not isolated and lonely. It was shaded in the afternoon by an enormous oak that might have predated the claim, but the rise faced east so the morning sun could warm it. Standing at the gate, one could turn and see the ranch and at the foot of hill, a narrow brook ran. Overhead, the great blue bowl of the April sky shone down. At night it would show the stars off to perfection. It was a fitting spot, I thought as I walked through the gate to put my husband and my friend to their final rest. They would not be alone. A couple of generations preceded them. Good. I didn't like the thought of Joshua and Arden lying there with only each other for company.

Chairs had been set up in the space as yet unoccupied by the interred and I found familiar faces sitting in them. Nala and her family, the Earharts and the Johannsens. Nika sat with her sister to one side, Shyla and Harry braced her on the other. Kiera was sitting off the main seating area, her guitar in her lap, her pure voice rising softly over the notes her fingers deftly played. Beglan sat with Rosalie. The Åbergs arrived two days ago and had proceeded to throw a wake like no other. They filled the remaining chairs. A seat was standing empty for me at the front and I took it, and looked up at the man who would Speak for the dead: Shepherd Faria.

He'd somehow gotten word and caught the ride out to the Ark on Decatur, spending the weeks afterward getting everyone's impressions and anecdotes of the deceased. I met his eye and gave him a nod, and he nodded back. I had been unable to talk to him about Joshua but he had been able to offer me some comfort in my grief nonetheless.


Kiera looked intently at the horizon before her, concentrating on the notes and the words that she was creating.

My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife'
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

The wave had come to her as she was sitting by the pool, unable to think of anything else to do. Her old life was alien to her, people she had known, strangers. All of them murmured when they saw her but the dead stare of her gaze kept them at bay on the few times she had ventured beyond into the city. She had given up trying to distract herself by leaving the estate; her mind and thoughts followed her everywhere. Her father, busy with the repercussions of the war, the plague and the cure, left her alone, accepting that the robot that had replaced his child would someday turn into his daughter again.

The blue clarity of the pool had gotten her attention for the past week; she had yet to get in it, but somehow laying in the bright sun kept the misery of the dark nights at bay. She had taken the pad from the servant and stared at it, regarding the words with a stoic stare. She was space bound only an hour later, burning into the Black like a launching comet. Her father had let her use the private ship; sleek and expensive, it now sat forlornly in a back pasture with the cows, its engines still cooling, the staff ordered to have it ready to go back to Londinium as soon as her foot hit the stairs.

She softly inhaled to sing the rest of the song, only partially listening to the gathering crowd.

While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness 'round me close,
songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
how can I keep from singing?

Her voice threatened to waver and she steadied it by sheer force of will. This isn’t happening! she thought fiercely.

Yes, it is Kiera-cat. And you will have to look at those caskets again.

I need to look at the Shepherd. We just met and I need him to cue me. I worked all this out en route you know, she countered in desperation.

Look at the caskets! Your friends deserve that much, Kiera. Look to them.

Her eyes fell, helpless and stricken to the wooden caskets near her and as her heart ripped in two, she didn’t know how she would breathe. But the song kept streaming from her lips unbroken, even as tears began to fall from her eyes, a paean to the dead, her gift to her friends.

When tyrants tremble in their fear
and hear their death knell ringing,
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
our thoughts to them are winging,

when friends by shame are undefiled how can I keep from singing?


Nika's eyes were swollen with tears shed before the ceremony began. She'd taken the time to say her goodbyes in private while the boys were being settled at the grave sites. Now calm she rested her head on her twin's shoulder and held Shyla's hand. This is the last of it, she thought to herself, watching Rina's movements. If we can all get through today. It will get easier. She'd been repeating the mantra for days as everyone arrived with their condolences. The Åbergs were a blessing--they fit in well with the Johannsens, and the wake had been exactly what was needed in her opinion. Fun, laughter, good memories of both men.


Kiera's song rang calm and clear, though I saw when she nearly faltered. I gave her a nod through sudden tears but kept the starch in my spine. Thanks to Joshua, I wouldn't go back to being the emotionally isolated woman I had been and thanks to his sacrifice, I'd live to love again. I did not know if I could do it but I promised him I would try. But I had to get through this first and bring this part of my life to a close before I could go forward.


Faria stood without a podium, his gloved metal hand clasped in his bare flesh and blood one. When Kiera's song drifted to a close, he cleared his throat and began.

"It is often said that funerals are ceremonies for the living and not for the dead. The truth of the matter is, regardless of how we achieve it, we must find a way to reconcile ourselves to the death of those we loved. We fare best when we have closure. The duty of the living, therefore, is to find it and share it with the grieving whenever we can, to ease their suffering in their time of sorrow. As Speaker for the dead I walked the Decatur in search of those who knew them. I asked them to share with me their impressions and their stories of the two men who lie before us today, so I might Speak for them.

"The Verse and History might very well consider them heroes, and that process is already under way. Humanity owes a debt to these men it can never repay, except to make the most of the second chance they've granted at the cost of their lives. Those that I spoke to were not unaware of their selfless sacrifice and it colored their perceptions and accounts of the men lying before us. It is my duty to look past those distorting influences, however heartfelt and well-meant, to the truth. And what I found was this:

"Joshua Gabriel Drake was a man beset with doubts of his own humanity and worth and yet, he proved to himself and others that he was indeed human in all the ways that mattered and that he believed in the worth of everyone. He found his moral compass and he followed it, no matter the cost. He found a cause to live for and he found a cause to die for. His actions, both executed and refrained, held true to that. All this and more I discovered through those who knew him. But throughout all my conversations, one thing above all rose clear.

"He lived as he loved: Without reservation, with conviction, with optimism, and with faith. I cannot think of a better testament to Joshua's spirit than this and therefore I need not add any more to it, save that he was loved and will be dearly missed.

"As we have two men to lay to their rest, I received a request to share the duties of Speaker. I felt it fitting to grant it. Beglan Shea, if you would please?"

Faria stepped aside and motioned Beglan to come forward.


I thought back to the debates Faria had had with Joshua over the matter of his soul. In his early days with us, I knew the question of whether he even possessed a soul bothered Joshua greatly. In fact, it was one of the cornerstones of our relationship—Joshua and I found ourselves in long conversations about the nature of selfhood and soul, of conscience and responsibility, atonement and redemption. And to hear Faria commending Joshua on these very things at his funeral ... Well, let me say here that the irony was thick. Still, I couldn't fault the Shepherd for it. He was a vital part of Joshua's attainment of selfhood and were it not for their debates, Joshua and I might never have started our courtship dance. So yes, the irony was thick indeed, thick and bittersweet.


His face was solemn as he stepped forward, nodding to his old shipmates as they watched him take a long breath.

"Arden was a private man," he began, his brogue deep and rich. It carried warm and soft over the assembled mourners as a small smile twitched the corners of his lips. "You wouldn't always know that. He was a man who spoke his mind, could be stubborn, and wasn't shy to have an opinion. But there was a gentle and warm soul inside him, one who looked to help his fellow man, who couldn't stand to see suffering, couldn't stand to see injustice. He was always ready to use his talents," he smiled fully then, looking to each of the mourners, "to help wherever our ship landed, seeking out the children, the orphaned, the oppressed. He never charged for his services, gave them freely. Because he loved his fellow man, thought that medicine and science should make the 'Verse a better place, not a worse one."

He sighed then, shaking his head. "He made the sacrifice he did knowing that the price might be his life. It takes a great man to look death in the eye and yet still forge forward, knowing what he was doing was the only thing, the right thing to do. A lesser man would have shrunk away from that burden. He didn't.

"He and Joshua were true heroes, men who didn't think of themselves, thought only of the future and the ones they loved. They were the best of us. Men whose faith was strong enough that they believed that sacrificing themselves for a better future for us all was worth the price of their lives. We can honor them only by taking that better future that they have given us and expand it to be what they dreamed of. And although we all go forward with broken hearts, we must remember the joy that both men took in living and in being with the ones they loved."

He paused, looking for Rina, Nika, and Kiera, seeking their eyes. "Shooting stars burn bright and hard, but light the darkness," he stated gently. "But we lose them all too soon. We must keep their fires alight, remember the joy and tenacity that they lived their lives with, the warmth and the kindness, the gift that we were all given in knowing them. Arden and Joshua were my friends. It was an honor to know them. And I will miss them. But I will remember them with joy and thanks and do my best to make the 'Verse they left behind something that they could proud of."

His head bowed then and he went to sit with Rosalie, his fingers entwining with hers as she lay her head on his shoulder for comfort.


Nika's gaze tipped toward the sky above, and though she listened to the words her mind wandered just a little. Myriad images of Joshua and Arden slipped through her thoughts but the ones that lingered longest were ones of smiles. The cajoling smiles of her little brother when he would tease her. "What on earth do you mean, captain? Are you saying you can't do it??" The soft, warm smile Arden offered when he first woke in the morning, his gaze still sleepy as he played with her long hair.

When Beggar stepped up to the podium her deep blue eyes flickered to him and met his gaze. There were tears shimmering in her eyes, but they were no longer falling so often. The weeks of travel had not exactly eased the sadness so much as given her the chance to grieve as fully as she needed to. This, burying her brother and her lover here, near her parents' graves in this peaceful place, was the last bit of closure. Knowing that they were home was all she needed to be able to let go of the overwhelming sorrow and begin truly healing, to be able to think of them as they would have wanted -- with love instead of pain, with pride for their actions instead of the anger that she'd had at first for their choice.

As Beggar retook his seat, Nika's eyes drifted once more to the sky above and a soft smile touched her lips. If it is true that we go from lifetime to lifetime in the company of the souls closest to us, we will meet again. If there is something beyond life in a mortal casing, it helps to know you'll be there waiting. And as we go our separate ways down here, please look in on Kiera and Beggar from time to time? Don't you worry about me and Rina and the baby -- we're home. And we're going to be okay. Take care of each other out there and know that I love you both.

She laid her head on Nala's shoulder and simply sighed softly, choosing to continue to bring forth her good memories of both men and commune with them in silence rather than speaking at the ceremony at all.


I am the fast burning candle, Rina. So Joshua always said. I loved him as hard and as fast as I could, and after the plague hit us, harder and faster, in a race against the dead. It wasn't enough to keep him with me, but it might be enough to see me through. It was certainly more than enough to start the life within me. I wasn't showing yet, but soon.

I met Beglan's gaze and nodded. I would have to remember the good times as well as the bad, so that our baby would know his father through the stories I would tell. I hoped my memory would be up for it. Though the ocean of my despair was still with me, the good days where it lay quiet were slowly drawing even with the bad where it surged and crashed within, allowing me to remember without as much pain.

I watched as Beglan took his seat and Faria motioned the men to lower the caskets. And that was when movement to the side caught my eye.


Kiera walked off as the men began to lower the caskets into the graves, head bowed. Touching her heart, she then raised her arm to her ship. There is silence and then:

“Why are we doing this?” her voice rang across the meadows from her ship speakers.

“It’s cool!” Joshua exuberantly yelped. “Don’t you wanna hear what we sound like?”

“No,” came the flat, quick answer. “I can’t sing under pressure.”

“You can’t make something beautiful with Arden watching but you don’t have a problem killing people with us watching?”

“You are such an ass! How one person can be so damn annoying—.”

“I don’t have all day,” Arden’s droll voice interrupted.

“And what else are you doing, Arden?”

“I don’t know. But something better than watching you two fight.”

“Blah, blah, blah,” came Kiera’s voice. “You can make believe you are having a threeway.”

“Behind the vid recorder and with Joshua?” was the sarcastic retort. “Oh baby.”

“That’s not what you said the other night with Nika.”

“Hey now!”

“Arden, Kiera, please,” came Joshua’s voice. There was a sigh, a chuckle, and then softly, chords began flow and her voice rang true into the cool air of the day.

One look at love, and you may see
it weaves a web over mystery,
all ravelled threads can rend apart
For hope has a place in the lover's heart.
Hope has a place in a lover's heart

And then, wrapping itself within hers, rich and strong, Joshua’s voice joined in, ringing across the waving grass as they sang together.

Whispering world, A sigh of sighs,
The ebb and the flow of the ocean tides,
One breath, one word may end or may start
A hope in a place of the lover's heart,
Hope has a place in a lover's heart.

Under the heavens we journey far,
on roads of life we're the wanderers,
So let love rise, so let love depart,
let hope have a place in the lover's heart
Hope has a place in the lover's heart.

Go back to: Season Seven, May 2523 - Feb 2524