Observers on Cydonia

They came without warning.

After so many years of finding nothing, the scientists had given up hope of ever finding life on Mars. Despite all of the probes, all of the rovers, Mars seemed destined to remain a dead planet.

Spirit had been silent for years and it seemed that Opportunity would so follow on in its sister’s wake. Curiosity soldiered onward, drilling and lasering its way across the dusty ground.

Each week it seemed, there was some new discovery; compounds from meteorites that revealed how the early solar system had come to be, ancient rocks that could only have been shaped by flowing water, deep in the red planet’s shadowed path.

But never the Holy Grail, the one thing everyone wished for, even if they could no long admit to it in public.

Never signs of life.

Never the slightest hint that Earth may not have been unique in the universe.


A Sea of Stars - Ch. 24 - Aftermath

              the
              only 
    real reward for a job well
       done is another job
          worse     than
         the         first

               the
              only
    escape is to never finish.
      but in the end, even
          that      is
         not        really

           an option

Lillian awoke and was immediately struck by a strong sense of déjà vu. She was lying on her back in a hospital bed, just like the one she had woken up in–hours? days? years?–ago. Once again, she was strapped down, but more loosely than before. There was a little give at the arms and legs, although the band around her middle was just as tight as before.

There was no pain, which was curious. She wondered about that until she spied any IV with an innocent enough looking bag dispensing some sort of clear liquid into her arm. Must be some sort of pain killer.


A Sea of Stars - Ch. 23 - Trust

    trust
              is a 
             double 
    edged sword; razor sharp and
      capable of harming both
        he who trusts and he
          who is   trusted     
         one and   the same

                    likewise
              it
             is he
    who is trusted who will
      cause the most harm
        when      every
       thing        goes

    wrong

The flight back was uneventful. Lillian and Jacobs took some time to talk about Watkins. It had almost certainly been Adrian, but why Watkins? He had to have been close enough to take a shot at either Lillian or Jacobs, why hadn’t he taken it? And where was he? There was still no sign of him anywhere–not a blip on either the shuttle’s sensors or on Borealis’. Well before they reached the shuttle bay, their conversation started looping back on itself and gradually faded into silence. But it was the kind of silence between good friends–the kind of silence that they’d used to share back before Lillian had gone off on the Daedalus. It was nice to finally find it again.


A Sea of Stars - Ch. 22 - Reboot

                   the 
                 modern
        computer is nothing short
           short of a miracle
              with    billions
            of tiny    circuits

          and                role
        billions           to play
    of lines of code  and each important
      each  having        in     its
     their      own      own      way

Once back out into space, Lillian settled down to try to figure out how this was even going to work. They’d loaded dozens of metallic panels into the back of the shuttle, all carefully stacked. They were rather heavy now, but that wouldn’t be a problem when they got there–Watkins could just shut the gravity plating off.

She pulled out the tools she’d collected and arranged them neatly on the floor. Most of them she wouldn’t need and there was only limited options. Mostly it was soothing. Organizing things always helped to calm her nerves. It took up most of the time on the short flight back out to the damage and by the time she got there, she was completely calm. Ready.

Except there was Adrian. That wasn’t exactly calm-inducing.


A Sea of Stars - Ch. 21 - Triage

            all
            that
    you know and all that
     you are can be gone
        in an instant
       all         that
      you            can

           hope for

             is
            that
    your instant takes an
     entire lifetime to 
       find you and to
        claim     its
       final       due

“Lillian, what is it?” She heard Jacobs’ voice, but it felt far away, inconsequential. She floated on the ceiling, barely aware of time slipping by. Seconds, minutes, hours. Jacobs was talking, but she couldn’t even make out what he was saying. What did it matter anyways? Quinn was dead and it was all her fault.


A Sea of Stars - Ch. 20 - Spacewalk

         in
       space
    one can truly
      be   free

As Lillian shimmied into the suit, with Madeline’s help, she took a moment to think about what was before her. She was going to have to leave the relatively safe confines of the Borealis–safe at least while the shields weren’t disabled–to voyage out into the interstellar void. Outside of the ship, there was nothing. Not the sort of nothing that you could feel when you were in the middle of a deserted road deep into the night, but the crushing nothingness that the human mind isn’t really equipped to handle.


A Sea of Stars - Ch. 19 - Traitor

              is
            there
    anything more terrible
     than being betrayed
        by a       man
       that         you've
      come            to call 

             friend

”… Adrian.” Lillian jerked straight up in her bed. For a second, she wavered between her dream of events years gone by and the disasters of the present day.


Starfall

Lying on my back, looking up into the night sky, I could feel the most curious sensation of being pulled up into the night sky, being pulled away from they very Earth on which I lay. I reached out with arms and bare feet, grabbing onto the soil with fingers and toes, determined to remain firmly grounded, firmly of this Earth. The attraction grew, I could feel my body lifting away, pulling against my four firm points of contact, fighting against myself for what little hold I still had.


A Sea of Stars - Ch. 18 - Daedalus

            the
            mind 
    is a miraculous tool
     for bringing order
        to      chaos
       and       truth      out
                           of the
                   darkness; but with this
                    ability comes the risk
                        of      seeing
             real,     what       isn't
            making
    phantoms of shadows and
     conspiracies of those
        that      mean
       no          harm

For the first time, Lillian had been trusted with a solo mission to repair a damaged gravity plate. She gotten up that morning to check her assignments for the day and there it was:

LILLIAN SHAW - 0800 - REPAIR GRAV PLATE 1352 IN MESS

Her mentor finally trusted her! Today, she was extra careful as she collected her tools from the small chest under the bed in her bunk and fastened them around her jumpsuit. Tanaka-sensei had given her the belts–made with a mix of Velcro and elastic bags–and she loved them. A place for everything and everything in its place.

One last check to make sure she had everything and off she went. Her first solo!


A Sea of Stars - Ch. 17 - Darkness

         all
        those
    who are afraid
     of the dark
     are   afraid
    for       good reason

           in
          the
    cold dark of space
     there is no one
       there    to
      save      you

The second time she came to, it was to a sharp pain in her side. Although she was still floating in the near darkness, her light was in front of her this time, so there were no shadows to threaten her awakening. As she woke, one hand flew to her side where it met with Eve’s shell.

“Do you mind?” Eve’s voice sounded in her head.