Music prompts: there's so much energy in us by cloud cult or daydreamer by young the giant
That first one is just… it’s the theme song for Stolen Century, hands-down. I’ll quote the piece I’m pulling from but just know this whole song is Stolen Century.
We feel our hearts break as the engines fade. / Still need to find it. Still need to find it. / So we took the written words of our philosophers, / And built a fire from it. Let’s get those engines lit. / We took the church’s veil and built a mighty sail. / To carry forth this ship. But we’re still losing it. / And I heard the captain say, I heard the captain say, / “We’ re so close to it, so very close to it. / We still have energy in us.”
We can’t do this forever.
Davenport was in the living area when he had the thought. Most of the crew was there, a plate of decimated cookies that someone was going to have to pick up eventually sitting on the coffee table. “Most” included Merle for once, not a shadowy figure that everyone tried not to look at, not destined to die for the sake of information. He was around more, after the argument with John. Barry was researching something in his room, Davenport was almost certain, from the way Lup had bargained with a closed door earlier. Cookies had been promised, and now they were gone.
It wasn’t even a bad day, and there were plenty of those. Days when they needed to be farther away from each other, where tensions were suddenly high for no reason that anyone could pin down. Days when the twins fought, Merle didn’t make jokes, Lucretia or Barry raised their voices… days when they lost each other. Davenport had seen what every single person in this family looked like when they mourned. Today was not even close to that, but as he looked at the people in the room a coil of dread slid from his heart to the bottom of his stomach, and he was suddenly, horribly convinced that it was a matter of time, they were hurtling towards the end of something and that end was probably their own.
Davenport slowly sat down on one of the armchairs, and Merle gave him that look that told him that his thoughts were plastered across his face. Davenport sighed. “We can’t do this forever,” he said - softly enough that the others wouldn’t overhear. Merle didn’t say anything. “We can’t keep doing this in an infinite loop, eventually something is going to give, something is going to break…” Eventually, as inevitable as the apocalypse in Davenport’s mind, he was going to have to learn how to live without these people. He didn’t know if he could do that anymore, and the prospect of losing either his independence or his family was equally terrifying.
Merle shrugged. “Could be. No one can ever say for sure what’s going to happen next.” And that nonchalance was so out of line from everything that Merle ever said, every complaint he had about John’s general attitude, that Davenport could only stare. “No one can make any of us any promises, is what I’m saying. But you have to ask yourself, does it really matter where this ends up?”
Maybe this was how they would finally fall apart, Davenport considered, indifference in the face of this endless chase. He never would have thought Merle would be the first to stop caring. But Merle didn’t look weary and travel-worn; he looked contemplative.
When Merle broke the silence, it was with another question. “You hear that?”
Davenport listened. The first thing he heard was Lup poking fun at Magnus, who was almost passed out for the pleasant reason of having eaten far too many cookies. He let that sound fade into the background as he picked up something else that was usually just white noise to him by now. The bonds engine, humming away at all hours of the day and night.
“I remember when this started, you couldn’t hear that thing unless it was whining because it was straining too hard during a chase. And now, if you pay attention, you can hear it all the time.” The hum was drowned out by a playful argument that had broken out near the couch; Barry had finally reemerged from his room, notes in hand, to discover there were no cookies left for him. With an air of mock-seriousness, he announced that he was going to have to fight Magnus now to restore his honor after the theft of his cookies. Lucretia pointed out that she’d watched Taako make that batch, it weren’t even Lup’s. Barry insisted that it didn’t matter, and poked a groaning, sleepy Magnus repeatedly.
Then again, maybe it wasn’t accurate to say that the humming was drowned out. It was still there, under the surface and unnoticeable just because it was always there, just because it matched the pitch of the crew’s voices perfectly.
“There’s a lot of love in his ship. Is that enough, to stop what’s happening, save the world and all that crap? Eh,” Merle shrugged, waving the thought off like it wasn’t important. “The better question is, if it all ends tomorrow, was it worth it to have this?”
Before Davenport could answer, his face was hit by a projectile pillow. It was thrown by Lup, who was already walking over and then dragging both of them to their feet. “Come on Cap’nport, Merle, we need all hands in the kitchen for emergency cookie resupply. If you want Magnus to live, Barry must be appeased.” Barry was still poking Magnus directly in the face. Magnus was groaning, but not doing much to stop the assault. “You too, Maggie!”
“You did the crime, now you gotta do the time!” Satisfied that the two of them were complying with orders, Lup left them where they were and loped across the room, starting to push Magnus from his chair. Taako soon joined her.
“You said I could have as many as I wanted!”
“I would never say that, because that would mean all of them.” Lucretia joined the effort, and pretty soon Magnus was out of the chair and onto the floor. Taako, clearly unwilling to but forth any more physical effort, levitated him and dragged him into the kitchen. Merle and Davenport followed the crowd of noise and chaos that made up their family.
Was everything else worth it, to have this?
Maybe the situation wasn’t as simple as that, maybe there were too many factors to reduce everything to a yes or no question, but… Davenport couldn’t imagine life without these people - for better or for worse - so he guessed the answer must be yes.