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Chapter 21

It had taken the best part of the day to finally patch things up. Banjo stood hand in hand with Cass, bandages and plasters littered his face, and one arm hung from his body held in place by a sling. She stood close to him, holding onto his bandaged hand and smiled as she pressed her body against his. Aston stood in the threshold of this own craft and watched as Lotti stood with the couple talking vigorously with them over something or other. He cast a glance toward the sky, clear from the rain...and clear from cloud and wondered about the future of the colonists.

"Father!" shouted Lotti as she turned to see the Reverend framed in the craft's door. He waved and slowly walked toward them. Hs own body aching from the fight in the cavern, and his own bandages masking his injuries. He smiled at the trio as they greeted him, before allowing his own smile to fade briefly as he spoke.

"It is done" he said simply. Banjo and Cass nodded their understanding and smiled back.

"What now?" asked Cass.

"A ship will be deployed from Earth to collect yourselves and the remaining colonists, you will be given the adequate compensation for the twelve-month period or so for your time on this animal and helped with relocation to Earth or another colony of your choosing" explained Aston.

"I feel like I've wasted a year of my life" complained Banjo through swollen lips. He smiled and looked at the woman draped over his arm, "but it’s not been a complete loss". Cass smiled back and pulled him closer, snaking an arm around his stomach and squeezing tight. He grimaced slightly under touch, "easy their honey" he complained playfully, "still a bit delicate" he laughed as he spoke and gazed at her with love filling his eyes.

"Better go and pack then" Cass said sadly, her eyes briefly wondering off Banjo and over to her Bio-Dome. She turned her attention back to the Reverend and Lotti and smiled. "I guess this is goodbye then" she said.

"Oh, never goodbye" said Aston, "perhaps we shall meet again...perhaps" he smiled and extended his hand. "Until then let us just say Au Reviour".

Banjo accepted his hand and shook it heartily, nodded toward Lotti and turned away. Cass threw her arms around the young girl and whispered in her ear, "you be careful and look after yourself" she warned and smiled at her as she pulled away.

"I will" promised Lotti.

"Father" Cass said and nodded toward him, before she too turned and ran after the disappearing form of Banjo as he stalked his way down the causeway into the town.

Aston and Lotti stood side by side for a moment in silence watching as the pair laughed and walked into town. "They will be alright, won't they?" asked Lotti.

"Who knows, what the future will bring" commented Aston, then as he saw a frown cross the face of his companion, "yes!" he urged, "of course they will be". Lotti gazed wistfully after them.

"What will happen?" she asked.

"Like I said, Earth authorities will collect them and relocate them elsewhere where they can get on with their lives"

"And this place?"

"The creature will be placed under universal quarantine" explained Aston. "Warnings will be secured to all space freight routes over possible contamination, that should deter any future landings to this creature". He smiled as he spoke, gazing into the sunlit skyline. "It can live in peace"

"What about us?" asked Lotti.

"Who knows" he commented. "We'll get some rest...then go wherever the future takes us". He took her hand and led her into the small shuttle.

As the door slid over the craft, the rays of the sun cast a shadow across the hull of the vehicle as light spilled over the landscape. Peace had finally descended on the world and the creature echoed the radiation from the sun and basked in its warmth.

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