Disclaimer: Most of the characters mentioned here belong to Roddenberry-Kirschner, not me. One additional character belongs to Henerson-Hirsch, but that's because he keeps insisting on showing up, even though this is not a crossover. Debra Cebulski gave Moira as Siobhan Beckett's mother's name in one of her stories, and has graciously allowed me to use it ever since.

Spoilers: General for first and second season of E:FC.

Category: Alternate Universe/Offscreen character death

Author's Note: This is an introspective fic that I wrote in bits and pieces on two bulletin boards. It does deal with a character's death, but it has more to do with the viewpoint character than anything else.

Sunward Bound
by Estirose
Copyright 2001

I knew something was wrong when I got up this morning. The day seemed so bright, with the birds singing outside my window in the cheery Irish light.

Mother's birthday was yesterday, and I'd come, sneaking in the middle of the night to visit her. I have no reason to do so in the open. I barely knew her, after all. So, all the interaction I had with her nowadays had to be private moments stolen in the middle of the night or spent gazing at a particular star from the safety of my apartment over the Flat Planet Cafe.

I'd not even used my real ID. Afraid that someone would someday connect me with my trips to Ireland, I arranged with Augur to give me a false ID. So, I wasn't Major Liam Kincaid, after all. I was a suntanned young man from California named Roger Lee. I wasn't famous enough in this little town for anyone to know any different.

Every time I've come here I've had to resist greeting people that I'm not supposed to know in familiar tones. I'm supposed to be here for the atmosphere, a little tiny vacation for some guy who has had a little too much of the California weather. I look like my Mother's age, so I can't be her son. I can't know the people here.

I want to know the people here. Not as Roger, California tourist inordinately fond of this little town, but Liam Beckett, child of Siobhan, child of Moira. But I don't see that happening any time soon.

Suddenly, my global beeps. "Major," Sandoval says. "I know you are on vacation, but your presence is required on the Mothership."

"I'll get there as soon as possible," I tell him. My heart pounds, hoping that this is just some petty power-move or one of Zo'or's superiority moods rather than something really happening. Then I can complain. I'll go home, of course. To the Flat Planet.

This place feels so much like home that it makes my heart ache.

* * *

One portal to Washington, D.C. and a trip over to the Embassy to pick up my shuttle later, I finally arrive on the Mothership. Sandoval isn't down at the shuttle bay, so he must expect me to come up to the bridge. Some more time spent in the presence of Zo'or. Oh, joy.

I've never been to his home town. I have this sneaking suspicion that I'd get the same belonging-but-not feelings that I get from where Mother grew up. I'd want to make myself part of them, but I know I never can. I'm not Sandoval, I'm not Beckett. I'm a stranger in two places that I want to be home.

"Major," Sandoval greets me as I come onto the bridge. "I have some bad news for you. For all of us," he adds.

"What?" I ask. Sandoval's face is the same impassive mask. Even with his memories, I can't tell how he's feeling.

"Captain Marquette has been killed."

I must have been standing there for a moment or so, just frozen, for Sandoval speaks again. "Major?"

"I'm here, Sandoval," I tell him. "How?"

"She was unfortunately involved in an auto accident. The Washington, D.C. police have just received positive identification on the body."

Zo'or rises from his chair. "The reason we called you, Major, is because you will be required to take up her duties, temporarily, until we can find a successor."

"Will there be any investigation into the crash?" I ask, hoping my face doesn't betray me.

"It was a drunk driver, Major. There will be no investigation. I've sent Captain Marquette's duties to your global. Adapt your schedule as soon as possible."

* * *

Lili is dead. Lili is dead.

I keep repeating that to myself mentally. Zo'or and Sandoval knew we were friends, but they don't know the true nature of our relationship. Lili promised my mother that she'd keep me safe. In many ways, she *is* my mother, when my mother can't be one. Couldn't be one. Mom is dead. Lili is dead. I live and everyone dies around me, everyone I care for.

Taking out my global, I skim over the files that Sandoval's sent. Lili was responsible for training many of us in how to fly the Shuttles. It appears that Sandoval wants me to be responsible for overseeing the human shuttle pilots. It's what Lili did when she wasn't assisting Sandoval. Thank goodness he doesn't expect me to be his assistant!

It doesn't look too bad or onerous, though. Something I can cope with. I think.

In the meantime, I think I'll be doing a little investigating of my own, maybe with the help of Doors, if I can coerce him into it. A little memory nags at me...

The face of Judson Corr appears on my screen. He's distasteful, but worth the price. "Gotcha. Put a bomb in the chick's car and blow it up. So, whacha manipulating this time, Sandy?"

"That is none of your business. The money will go into your account as agreed. I really doubt that you need to know any more."

"Nah. Just curious."

"I don't pay you to be curious. Do your job and you'll get paid."

"No problem. You hired the best, I'm going to give you the best."

With that, the man signs off. I just hope I'm right and that eliminating William Boone's main reason for refusing the position will cause him to reconsider. If Da'an has chosen him, then he really doesn't have a choice. This'll help him to see it.

No, hiring assassins to put bombs in people's cars is certainly not beyond Sandoval. He didn't look like he was too sorry to lose Lili, but then again, he didn't look like he was joyful. It was his 'implant face', as usual.

I know the man has emotions! I just so rarely see them that it is only his memories that remind me of that at all.

Now to talk to Da'an about my new responsibilities. I don't know how he's going to react; he's wasn't up on the Bridge, so he must be down at the embassy. Lassiter was heading up his staff, and Lassiter is competent. He's also a bit unquestioning. Okay, except to Mother when she was trying to dig Lili out as a Liberation spy.

I get into my shuttle and run the pre-flight checks. Who is Sandoval going to use as Lili's replacement? He'll certainly want both an assistant and someone who can fly a shuttle. What about that blonde Volunteer that I've seen him with? Aaargh, I don't think we've ever been introduced.

No time for that. I'm still on vacation, so I'll inform Da'an and then go and hide in my apartment for a while. Maybe I should tell Doors and Augur first. I'm not sure Doors would believe me, but oh, well. Da'an, then the Liberation, then go home and hide.

I just can't cry in front of anyone, and I'd like to cry. Lili was the one who took care of me in my brief childhood, she and Augur. But Lili Marquette and Liam Kincaid were just friends, perhaps close friends.

What do you do when your foster mother dies?

I activate the shuttle as Lili taught me. I can almost go through the motions blindfolded.

Lili seats me at the pilot's seat of her shuttle. Our excuse is that the Taelons should have a Companion Protector that can pilot a shuttle, but really Lili wants another Liberation member who is a pilot. Okay, Liberation member by Doors' grudging consent, but still Liberation member. And I apparently show an inclination for Shuttle Piloting, whatever that means.

I wave my arm across the virtual glass shield as she's taught me to, bringing up the main human interface for the shuttle. She just did this a few minutes ago, showing me the main parts of the interface. Now it's my turn, and I feel very much like a nervous pupil, sitting here on the shuttle pad of the Embassy. Lili didn't want to risk being up on the Mothership for my lessons. I raise my hand up towards the coordinate interface, preparing to enter the coordinates that she has give me.

The shuttle flies out of the Mothership and into interdimensional, just as I had been taught. Next stop, the Embassy. After that, one more stop and I can go home.

* * *

"Liam," Da'an greets me. "What is wrong?"

Somehow, I managed to get to the Embassy without crashing the shuttle. Lili would be proud. "Didn't they tell you that Lili died?"

The Taelon got up abruptly from his chair. "They did not. How did Captain Marquette perish?"

"A car accident," I told him as he waved his hands about agitatedly. "A drunk driver."

"Regrettable," Da'an tells me. "Captain Marquette was a valued employee."

I think he wants to say more, but he pauses. Then he speaks again. "And a valued friend."

He falls silent at that, and I don't know what to say. "What of her assignments?" he asks.

"I'm taking over some of them... after I get back from vacation. I don't know what Sandoval's going to do with the duties she had as his assistant, though."

"Liam, were you good friends with her?" Da'an asked. "I know you carried some of the same... associations."

He means that he knows that she and I were both members of the Liberation. "She was there when I was born, Da'an."

"Then you grieve for her, Liam?"

"I do."

"Perhaps I should... extend your vacation, Liam."

I considered that, but finally shook my head. "No, if I call in sick, Sandoval'll get suspicious."

"Then... you must carry on in your duties. Know, then , that I share in your grief."

"Thanks, Da'an," I tell him. "If I may be excused?"

"I will see you on Monday," Da'an replies, making the gesture of greeting and farewell. "Do not worry about coming in until then."

I nod, glad to escape.

* * *

Lili hid her affiliation with the Liberation long before I was born. It was only my attempt to tie the Liberation to the most sympathetic member of the Taelon Synod which finally blew her cover. Of course, I tell myself, this has nothing to do with his knowledge or lack thereof. She died in a simple automobile accident, right?

Sandoval's memories keep telling me that there might be more here than meets the eye.

I head on over to Liberation headquarters. Doors is the next on my list and I look forward to telling him far less than I did Da'an. I can never tell how Doors feels about someone, although I think, *I think* he respected Lili.

Would he have arranged it? He's as capable as Sandoval, after all.

Doors is an enigma to me, a glaring, grumpy man who has lost all the pleasure in his life. I know he doesn't like me, though I'm still not sure if that's because he didn't like my parents, or that he's xenophobic, or what. Augur told me once that Doors distrusts me because I'm a wild card, something he can't control.

Gee, he has a lot in common with Sandoval. He'd probably hire someone to break my neck while I slept if I said it to his face, though.

Lili was the one who made sure the newest member of the Liberation had a way to get to safety. She was always one to take her vows seriously, in particular the one she made to my mother when my mother was in labor with me. She and Augur were always my refuges, and now she's gone. Mother's gone, Lili's gone. What do I do next?

Go and see Doors. He'll not be happy to see me, and I can't guarantee that he won't shoot the messenger, but I have to tell him. He has every right to know before he sees it on the six o'clock news.

Gathering my courage, I run my thumb along the DNA scanner and wait to go in. Will I feel at home there? People like me. People other than Doors. And it's Doors who runs the place. I have to say no. Best to get this over with.

I step into the elevator.

The ride down in the elevator to the Liberation headquarters seems like it takes forever, and just an instant. A cliche, I know, but true. As the doors open, I can see the plastic-enclosed room in the back where I was born. Where Lili took my mom while Boone was busy trying to negotiate with my father Ha'gel, both of which perished. Sometimes I wish that both had lived, although I'm sure Doors would have booted my parents and myself out if I'd survived. Sometimes I wonder if the reason why Doors allowed me to be born was out of a morbid curiosity: would the *freak* kill his mother?

Ultimately, both he and I were responsible. And as much as I love Dr. Park, as much as she's another one of my foster mothers, she was the one who didn't oppose Doors enough. They damaged the CVI and Mother didn't survive after that.

Now I truly feel like an orphan. I didn't while Lili was alive, but I do now. Funny, she watched over me, but I guess it was more a reluctant fosterage at best. She and Augur were reluctant foster parents, and I have to say that Augur was more of a father sometimes than Lili a mother.

The thump-thump of shoes echoes below me, and I look down into the upturned face of Jonathan Doors. "What are you doing here? You're supposed to be on vacation."

I draw in a deep breath and make my way down the steps past him. Here, I must be strong and brave. Doors will eat me alive if I don't.

His shoes go thump-thump again, but I ignore him, making my way down to the area near the conference table. Ben Wiley, one of the Liberation sympathizers, takes one look at us and pours two cups of something that's not coffee for the first time I can remember. The resulting cups smell strongly of tea. "Here, sir, for your blood pressure. You remember what Maria Guerin said...."

"I know," Doors growls at him, as Ben hands the second cup to me. He seems to soften for a minute. "Thank you, Ben."

The FSA agent smiles at him briefly before leaving, his form replaced by Jonathan Doors' frown "I thought you were in Ireland, seeing your *mother*."

I ignore his tone. He didn't like my Mother, and he certainly doesn't like me. We're both tainted by our relationship with the Taelons, especially since he likes to ignore the fact that I'm not Taelon. I'm Kimera. But the fact that Ha'gel's species was wiped out by the Taelons seems to be a convenient fact for him to ignore.

"Sandoval called me to the mothership to inform me that Lili died," I say to him bluntly. Hey, what does he expect? I'm not even a year old, and he has so far robbed me of my Mother. Lili is dead, and I don't know if I can ever claim Sandoval as my Father. I'm the little orphan boy, and I want to grab him by his tie and shake him. Unfortunately, that really *wouldn't* help the situation here right now.

"How?" Doors replies, and though his expression changes little, I can tell he's paling. Of course, Lili was one of his best agents, and he trusted her far more than he trusted William Boone, or so Augur tells me. He doesn't trust me because I'm part alien, and he didn't trust Boone because of the CVI. I guess you can't go expressing contrary opinions around him, not without him thinking you're a Taelon agent.

"Sandoval and Zo'or told me... it was an automobile accident."

The millionare nods, slowly. "Anything else you came here for?" he rumbles.

I shake my head. "Just thought you'd want to know."

"All right, you've told me. Now you can go back to Da'an, or back to your vacation, or whatever."

I don't think Doors realizes it, but I know he wants me to go away so that he can grieve. Just like I can't show any weakness to him, he can't show any weakness to me. Stalemate. I nod and turn away, placing my mug on the table. As I leave, I catch Augur's eye. From his expression, I know he'll be willing to talk to me later.

Question is, will I be willing to talk to him?

I finally make it back to my apartment, lock the door, and collapse against my chair, somehow managing to sit down instead of hitting my tailbone. I've done that once before, early on, and it *hurt*. The light swich is off, and somehow I can't motivate myself to turn it on. It's still a little dark, even though I slept until eleven this morning. Let's see, it's six or so right now. It seems so unreal that it would be six o'clock.

The streets are so clear, not too many people have gone to work yet. Me, I've gone into a cemetery in the middle of the night to wish my Mother a happy birthday, and then been woken up to be told that one of my other 'parents' has died. It's quite a day, and it really hasn't started yet.

I am so happy that I'm still on vacation. I don't think I could bear having to go to work today. True, I could possibly request bereavement, but I think that would get me counseling, not a day off.

Besides, how would I explain that a woman pretty much my age, maybe a bit younger, would be like a mother to me?

I was going to see more of Mother's home, find the brook that she was so fond of, to visit that little place in the wood where she went when she wanted to be left alone and where she took her first boyfriend. I know so much about her. It occurs to me that I don't know that much about Lili.

Where did Lili go when she wanted to be away? Did she run around free in the wood like Mother did when she was growing up? Was there a brook she called her own? I don't know, and she never told me.

I'm sure I could look all the 'official' stuff up. I won't ever know her, not really. I'm not sure that's a curse or a blessing. Sometimes I think it's a blessing, not a curse. Humans are not meant to know so much about their parents.

Below me, the doorknob turns. "Liam?" Augur calls. I don't answer him.

Footsteps pound up the stairs, and I know that Augur is looking for me. His mostly-shaven head appears in my field of vision, followed by the rest of him. "Liam! Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Augur." I tell him quietly.

Much to my surprise, he sits on the floor. Augur, sitting on the floor! I wonder if I'm imagining things. "Yeah, right."

He looks up at me, quietly, and I know this is the point where I'm expected to make a statement. Standard psychology, to force the other person to fill silence up with words. To not make the bond break between two speakers.

Finally, after a while, he gives up and speaks. "Listen, kid, I know that you respected Lili. I know the two of you were friends."

"Sort of," I say, halfheartedly injecting something so that he'd shut up.

"All right, sort of. But I saw your face when you left. Lili means a lot to you. I know she regarded you as a responsibility, and I know that that meant something to you as well."

"It does," I admit, still trying to get him away. I want to get him to go, without hurting his feelings. Callous though Augur might be sometimes, he's still got a heart under all that money, and I regard him as a friend.

"I know you want to be alone for a while... so do I. But I don't think Lili would want either of us to be alone. I cared for her too."

Despite my efforts, I can feel a smile creeping up on my face. Augur's gone for many women during his lifetime, including three or four during my brief life. But Lili... Augur worshipped Lili. He wanted to date her so badly. He even made a holographic image of her, which she didn't *quite* take as a compliment.

"Lili was quite a woman. Boone knew some of the best ones, you know... he's the one who introduced us. You should have met his sister... she was hot! But not as hot as Lili. We would have found our way together eventually."

A short laugh escapes me, and he looks over. "Don't laugh! I think I would have had a chance, sometime. Believe me, kid, some things you still don't know about."

With that, my smile drops. "I'm not a kid, Augur."

His expression drops as well. "I know that. Sometimes I wish you could have been one a little longer... a lot longer. I think Lili would have liked that as well."

Augur gets up, going for the small fridge where I store drinks for when he comes to visit. "Want one?" he says, opening the fridge. "Okay, maybe that's a bad idea. I don't want to explain why you fell asleep. Remember last time you did, kid? You were raving about that girl... what was her name, Karen? You talked about her for weeks afterward."

"Karone," I correct him absently. A brief image of a young woman in a black leather sleeveless top and leather pants dances briefly in front of my eyes.

"Karone. Right," Augur says, closing the fridge door and popping the lid off his beer. "Anyway... Lili, I think she loved you in her own way. Okay, it may not have been parental, but face it, she watched you grow up."

"Like an aunt, almost," I said, a brief image of a younger woman flashing through my head. One of Sandoval's aunts, I think. Mother didn't have any aunts or uncles, and certainly none of that hue.

"You're right," Augur said thoughtfully. "I think that's how she saw it, too. Like the nephew she never had. Did you know she had a brother?"

"Only through her files," I tell him quietly. "I know that he and her father are dead and her mother's still alive."

"Yeah," Augur replies distantly, and for a moment, I wonder why. Then I remember....

A man stands in front of me. He has been introduced to me as Colonel Robert Purcell, an intelligence agent. Taelon technology has permitted the man to take the form of a thief and use that form to flush out Jonathan Doors and his Liberation movement. The Colonel stares at me with the steady assurance of a man who knows what he's doing and what he needs to do to get where he's going. Through my own sources, I am reassured that he will bring Doors down.

I tug at Sandoval's memories some more and remember that Purcell, Lili's father, later turned up on the streets, his stolen body killed.

"I wonder if they told her mother?" I wonder.

"She's probably the one that identified the body, if Sandoval didn't," Augur offers, and I realize the truth of that. I wouldn't have been called. I'm not supposed to know her that well, and besides, I was on vacation.

Would she still be alive if I had not gone to see my Mother?

"It seems wrong," I tell Augur. "It's like... she wasn't supposed to die like this."

"I know, kid," he says, though his tone indicates he's thinking of something else. "I think she would have preferred going out fighting. Not in some stupid accident."

"That's why they call them accidents, Augur," I reply, trying to keep the tiredness out of my voice. "I don't think that's how she intended to die, either."

I leave my suspicions out of my voice. Accidents are so easy to arrange.

"Yeah, at least she didn't die a prisoner," Augur says. "I never got the chance to show her my charms."

Augur's expression causes me to smile. "Every time I mentioned you she rolled her eyes," I tell him.

He gives me a mock-disgusted look. "That's because I never really got a chance to start."

"Sure, Augur," I reply.

"You're hopeless, kid, you know that? Actually, forget I said that."

I don't blame him. Somehow, 'hopeless' doesn't seem that good a word to use right now. "Forgotten. I know what you mean, though. I would have never seen you in that way, but sometimes I really wished she looked at you."

"Actually, I don't think I would have ever had a chance. Did you know that she was secretly in love with William Boone? Don't know why. I could tell in the way she sometimes looked at him, though I think she was careful not to do it in front of Doors."

"Good idea," I tell him. Doors definitely didn't like Boone much, and Boone was human!

It occurs to me that Lili was good at hiding things. Did I know her at all? Did Augur? Did Doors? Did Boone? I wish I had her memories. I wish I knew her as intimately as I know my parents.

"You'll be okay, kid?" Augur asks, and I nod.

"I think so. At least for the moment."

Augur pats me awkwardly on the shoulder and leaves, probably for his own private spot. I think he has to grieve, too, and I don't think he thinks I'll understand.

* * *

I show up the next day at the Embassy, although it's hard. Being part Kimera doesn't help with jet lag, or whatever they're calling it nowadays with the portals now a part of life. I'm sure somebody's found a name. They always do. The part of me that is Sandoval remembers shyness somehow becoming social anxiety disorder.

"Da'an," I greet my Companion. He's so used to me that I don't offer him the Taelon greeting, and he does not give me one. I'd like to think that it's because he sees me differently because of my Kimera heritage.

I scan through my schedule, noting that the arrangements for Lili's memorial service have been entered into my calendar. I guess Da'an's attending, so I'm attending. A note in my mail tells me that she's being cremated. I knew she didn't want to leave a body behind, not when the Taelons could get a hold of it.

Rubbing my palm, I mentally go through my schedule for today so that I can tell her friends and loved ones when the service is. I guess since at least Da'an is there most of them can't come to the regular service, but I'm sure they'll arrange something. Heck, if Augur gets enough notice, he could probably arrange for someone to plant a camera.

"Liam," Da'an greets me finally. "You have been informed as to Captain Marquette's memorial arrangements?"

"Just getting the information now, Da'an," I tell him.

"Captain Marquette's mother wishes that one of her co-workers speak in memory of her. I felt that you would be a better speaker than Agent Sandoval in this matter. Will you accept?"

"I can do that," I tell him, "I'll have to make sure you're protected, though."

"I am confident as to your abilities," he tells me. "And I have conveyed your willingness to Captain Marquette's mother in advance. She was most gratified that someone familiar with her daughter was to speak."

"You volunteered me," I say, though amusement colors my voice.

"While I was more familiar with Captain Marquette in her professional life, as was Agent Sandoval, you were more familiar with her personal life. The Captain's mother required an answer, and I anticipated your willingness."

"I thought you knew her better than that," I tell him.

Da'an actually blushes, which falls in line with what I know. They once shared minds, shortly after Lili crash-landed with Da'an in the forest when a virus ravaged Taelon embassies worldwide. "While I have Shared with her, I do not presume to have known her enough to speak for many."

"Da'an," I blurt, "were you ever upset with her about her... affiliations?"

"I found her affiliations unexpected, Liam, but welcome. Would not all benefit from some merging of views?"

"I guess you're right," I say carefully. "Everybody has their doubts."

"Captain Marquette remained a loyal Companion Agent at the end and benefitted the Taelons greatly. Should I not give allowance for an individual human's ponderings, with no Commonality to reassure her?"

"I don't think she'd go for being in a Commonality."

Da'an gestures gracefully. "She indicated a preference for individuality before," he says. "I have no doubt that she believed that."

I nod. I have no doubt that Lili would have been terrified to become part of such a gathering as Da'an is used to belonging to. Humans are so individual, not feeling like being so attached as the Taelons are, and from what Da'an's teachings and my memories say was the way of the Kimera as well. The Taelons, like their Kimera ancestors, are more beings of the mind than the body. At least the closer-to-purebred were. I am a being of the body. My very solid body.

"I guess I'll have to work on what I'm going to say then," I tell him. "At least I have a few days. I'll be right back, Da'an."

With that, I go to make some calls.

* * *

I pull irritatedly on my uniform. It's odd to be wearing it again; I wear it so rarely nowadays and I'd never put it on before Boone's funeral. Now it's Lili's turn to be remembered and I wish I were somehow up to the task.

With Lili gone, I'm the main information point for the Liberation, which annoys both me and Doors to no end. I've managed to come to some point of compromise by working almost exclusively with Augur.

But this cannot go on forever, and he and I know that. Sometime Doors is going to be so fed up with having his news filtered through Augur that he's going to be demanding that I report to him. I think it hurts for him to have to ask anything of me. He'd gladly toss me through the airlocks along with the entire Taelon species and everyone on the Mothership.

Augur assures me that they've set up cameras at the funeral parlor. There'll be some cameras there, but Doors wanted his own private perspective, apparently. I wonder if he thinks I'm going to screw my elegy up?

Da'an comes around the corner. I think he's as shocked as I am about Lili's death. Right now I wander between it being the death of the nearest person I ever had as a mother and thoughts that I was just an obligation to Lili, something she had to take care of.

As Da'an seats himself in the shuttle, I go through the flight checks again. I don't want something to happen, not today. I'm afraid if I lose the least of my attention that it'll be a disaster, and then I won't live up to her standards.

Lili Marquette. Shuttle Pilot. Aide to Companion Protectors Boone and Sandoval. Liberation Agent. And the woman who helped me through the first days of my life.

I complete the flight checks and move my arm to bring up the coordinate screen. In a few moments, the supplied coordinates come through. I keep my eye on every movement of my shuttle, breathing inwardly in relief when I make it to the landing outside the place where Lili is to be remembered. Agent Lassiter and a squad of volunteers greet me, and I see another shuttle land nearby. That's right, Zo'or was going to come as well.

The parking lot isn't busy yet, but I know from security briefings that they've rented others, even though the service is by invitation only. Lili was well loved, even though some who loved her can't come.

Da'an leads me in, surrounded by security, and we are shortly brought to the chapel. Pictures of Lili surround us, Lili in uniform, Lili as a child, Lili in formal, out-of-uniform poses. Da'an goes forward to greet a woman, and I soon learn that this is Lili's mother. It seems so strange that Lili has a mother, though I know she does. Soon the minister is there and I find myself talking to both of them, finding out what I'm supposed to do. I take a brief break to make sure everything is all right with Da'an's security and Zo'or's. Wouldn't like something to happen here.

After what seems like forever, the chapel is filled with mourners. The place had seemed so large when I came in, but with all of these people it seems so small. Friends, family, professional representatives, all here. I look at my watch just as the minister starts speaking.

* * *

Finally the minister pauses in her speech and grabs a quick look at me, before announcing that it's my turn. Mindful of security, hoping that Lassiter and the Volunteers will do all right, I get up and stride to the podium.

"I only knew Lili for a short time," I say, looking over the audience of dignitaries, family, co-workers, and friends. "But from the first day I came to work for the Companions, she made me feel at home. Lili of course had a tough marine shell on the outside, but I was privileged to know her and to call her a friend. She was the one who took me, someone who'd never flown in his life, and taught me how to fly a shuttle.

"With the shuttles, she took an utterly alien interface and adapted it for human use. She trained many of the early shuttle pilots, and her talent was so great that she could teach those who had never driven more than a car. She was enthusiastic about her work and her commitment to the Taelons.

"I also had the luck to know her off-duty. We shared some of the same interests, and she applied the same enthusiasm to those as she did with her work with the Companions. She loved life and she loved people. Those of us who were her friends found ourselves with someone you could talk to and get sympathy but also have some sense talked into us.

"Lili liked to joke about sex at bars and then go home to relax by herself. She was equally comfortable with people but she was a self-sufficient woman who didn't like to rely on anyone.

"I know her spirit will fly free, and that her idea of heaven would probably include an endless vista to travel through. Lili, it seemed to me, was a creature of the sky. She was born to reach the heavens, and she reached beyond them. She fully embodied the John Gillespie Magee Jr. poem, 'High Flight':

"'Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sunsplit crowds and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.'

"Like John Gillespie Magee Jr, Lili died before her time. But she lived a life to be envied, and indeed saw things that few others got to experience. Somewhere, I have no doubt, she has found her heaven, and it will no doubt be as exciting and wonderful as the life she had down here. Be at peace, Lili Marquette."

With that, I stride from the podium, seeing the minister returning with a broad smile on her face which she quickly smothers, mindful of the solemnity of the situation. I settle back next to Da'an, my mind trying to keep me busy with security details. Now is not the time for me to break down. Even here, I have a job to do.

* * *

It's night again here in Mother's home town, but not late enough. I lean on the window frame, looking out. From here I can just see the church, and can't see where Mother rests at all, but I know she is there.

There is a star twinkling in the heavens, and I think it's hers. I think that I find her more there than the place where her body is buried, although those are the only physical reminders that remind the outside world that Siobhan Beckett once existed.

They're putting up a stone in a memorial wall for Lili. I guess we humans, and we part-humans, like to have a physical presence to remember our loved ones. A reminder that they were somebody and they did something. I know that Lili went to a certain cemetery every Saturday and placed flowers at a certain grave. A reminder to herself of what the Taelons were and what they could do, I guess. Now it is our turn to place flowers in front of her stone.

Have you seen her yet, Mother? For all that you two were on opposite sides, were times different, I think you'd get along pretty well. I know that you trusted her enough to leave her in charge of me.

And now I'm in charge of myself. I have Augur, Dr. Park and Dr. Belman, and Da'an to watch over me. I asked Augur after the memorial service about the possibility that it was an accident. It turns out that he had his suspicions, too, but I guess it was a genuine accident. Senseless, but all too real. Who would have known Lili would have died that way? But I think she would have preferred this death to death in the course of her duty to the Companions.

Earlier today, I walked the streets of this little town. I want it to be home, the quiet place to go when I want to be alone. But it still isn't. I met my grandmother on the streets today, and I had to clench my fists to keep from hugging her like Mother used to do. Roger Lee doesn't know Moira Beckett, and if I want to keep my sanity, he never will.

And with Lili's death, one less person knows me for me, not Major Liam Neville Kincaid, not Roger Lee, but Liam, the little boy born to Siobhan Beckett. I think Lili loved me. I know she knew me.

Looking one more time at the church, I raise my eyes to the heaven again, and utter a prayer for Lili's spirit.


Earth: Final Conflict fanfic