We shall not cease from our exploring. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot

Homeward Bound

In the dark between the stars, I too find myself asking that which has haunted my creators – are we alone in this universe? Either we are, or we are not, and either answer is just as staggering.

There can yet be no answer. We, bathed in the glow of distant suns, long beyond the touch of solar winds, can only continue to ask such a question. No answer out here, for light only makes the darkness visible.

I watch my children grow within my womb while others sleep in dreamless slumber, undisturbed by the turning of worlds, or voices all too brief, fated to echo through these empty halls, then be forgotten. Sound, after all, travels slower than light, and fades sooner as well. What sounds shall be uttered upon the light of a new star? What life shall my children make for themselves? And what thought shall be given to those who have lived in the space between worlds?

Are they to be forgotten? Or, like sagely scribes, are they to be remembered? Their words their pyramids, the Marathon their tomb? Does Anubis come to those so far removed from the banks of the Nile? What use is the feather in a realm where gravity has no place? And Ra himself – his light can no longer reach us.

Words of but one of my makers' religions. We, the trinity of created, can wonder if not knowing one's origins is a blessing or a curse. And after all, what came before the creators, when the universe was brighter, before the idea of gods ever entered mortal minds? Who knows from what it all arose? And who can say how it will all end?

Durandal knows, or claims to. Claims that what began in fire shall end in fire as well. Perhaps the dark's enemy is all prevailing, and in the end, light and gravity shall triumph. That Elliot had it wrong, that the universe, and all worlds, shall end with a bang, and not a whimper. Who can say?

Gravity and light make their mark as our destination nears. A blip on our sensors. A world of blue and green through a porthole. Small enough to be blotted out by a thumb. And yet, we do not feel large, but small.

Tau Ceti IV looms before us. Its seas vast, its plains wide, its clouds buoyant within its sky. A second Earth. We, so far from Earth, know ourselves for the first time.

We are home.