# 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
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
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.