Naya climbed onto the deck at Jun’s call. There it was. A shining line cut across the horizon, and sitting near it a collection of grey and white rectangles that marked the Home. They stared at it together, as the ship brought them closer, the buildings becoming clearer. From this distance the place appeared hastily put together, like a collection of organisms that had joined together by some accident. That was accurate; the Home was a collection of people who had been lost in the desert, found a river, and created a place to live. Slowly, over time, people had come to the Home, built a shack to live in, and then never left. And so the Home became a disorganised mess of dried wood and stone, or clay from the river, whatever one could find. And yet, somehow, it worked, even thrived. On the far reaches was a large grey construction, off-limits except to certain important people in the Home: mostly the people who had founded the place. Naya had always wondered what was in there, but had never dared to ask.
They passed a small metal tower, half buried in the sand. It would take the code that Naya had written and send it off to wherever it went. And meanwhile Naya saw figures standing outside the Home — her family, there to welcome her Home after a month. She teared up again, and as the ship stopped she nearly twisted her ankle in her hurry to embrace them.
Jun dropped the sail, hopped down from the ship, and said, ‘I’ll leave you to it. I have business to attend to.’ And he left for the grey block at the edge of Home.
For that grey block was where the code was sent, and it was waiting for him as he got there. He took a look at it. Slowly his expression changed from a smile to a grin to laughing hysterically. He uploaded it to the codebase. He, and the others, had been building the code since day one of the Home. And now it was over.
The effect was very anticlimactic. Jun had waited for this moment his entire life, and nothing had happened. Did it even work? He got ready to leave for another disappointing time.
But then a voice echoed throughout the room in a clear voice, ‘What do you wish to do?’ It was not obviously feminine, but Jun imagined it sounded a little like Naya. Jun spun around on the spot, looking for the source, and realised what it was. He looked up to the ceiling, where a speaker was embedded. He knew it didn’t make a difference but it felt more ceremonial than talking to thin air.
‘I wish to go home.’
A hum grew throughout the building, that escalated quickly into an immense vibration in the air. The floor shook, the ceiling rained a grey dust onto Jun, who was dancing while the ceremony continued around him. Outside, the desert reacted, recoiled from the cacophony. Far off in the middle of the waste, a tiny building that had seen tougher times finally collapsed. The Home started to react as well: some of the more loosely-constructed buildings fell in on themselves. People started gathering on the street to ask each other if they knew the source of the disturbance.
And a huge tower extended out of the ground. And it blocked out the sun. And all the people of the Home turned to face it, and stared in awe as it turned around to face the Blue Star that hung in the sky. There was more whispering amongst the people; whispering because it felt like an important moment, even though none of them understood what was happening. Jun came running down the street towards Naya and her family.
‘What is this?’ she asked of him. ‘Is this your doing?’
‘Yes. We’re going home.’