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Interstellar Perception: Volume III

Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.

- Alan Wilson Watts



Concept science fiction story inspired by Kristall & Isa from Paysage d'Hiver.


A setting in space was chosen:

Object: 4 Vesta

Type: Asteroid

Galaxy: Milky Way

Constellation: N/A

System: Asteroid Belt, Sol

 

Countless celestial objects sweep across the dome of the galaxy, concealing and revealing distant starlight in flashes. Watching the twilight from beyond the permafrost, a Vestal holds eternal vigil upon the largest object of the asteroid belt’s innermost ring. As the perpetual observer, the Vestal knows how this asteroid once was, how it is and, in time, how it will be.


Seized by faint gravitation, lesser asteroids continually reshape the surface. Multitudes of dissimilar craters rest erratically throughout expanses of grooved depressions. In equivalent continuance, the Vestal travels through the arid grey terrain in recognition of the changing environment.


Outspread from the circumference of a recently formed crater, a lengthened circular shadow is cast from the sharp rim. Scaling the exterior crater edge, the Vestal gazes below into the interior. Regolith on the tundra floor is still smooth. Swaths of the fine sediment uplift from stellar wind forming a grey haze that gradually flows out and onto the plains. Reflecting errant rays of starlight, the crystalline clouds of iced dust descend back to the surface as slowly as it rose.


The Vestal returns to flat ground and passes through the swelling billows with undeterred resolution. Wandering on through an undulated basin, the patterns of stars continue in swift cycle overhead.


Approaching an eroded precipice, a vast rift in the landscape inundates the vista. Dust clouds sink and permeate the wide trough overshadowing distant crumbled crags and ridges. The Vestal remembers the ancient tremor. Then, the surface could be traversed unhindered. Now, the immense lineament cuts across a third of the asteroid providing a direct path to the impact site that created the gaping trough.


The Vestal roams, below. Star light diminishes yet the fathomless chasm is as familiar as the lighted surface. Dispersed dirt and ice accumulate at the bottom of the ravine leveling the ground into a path. Jaded pillars of frozen rock hold firm in areas and contort the passage. The dark course is memorized from eons of straying the depths.



The deep path steadily rises. Dim shades of grey take form as the blackness wanes and glints of starlight appear through the clouds once again. Passing through the flanking slopes, the terraced sides of the trough merge into an elongated crater rim. Prominent, the elliptic edge spans to the horizon with its opposite side concealed in the distance. Entering the opening of the crater from the trough, the Vestal perceives the latitudinal contrast of the opaque surface to the sheen of black stars. Beyond the high wall of the crater rim, a rare, dark expanse is devoid of star light.

This has happened before. The cosmic ebon shape grows, screening more stars. The Vestal fades back into the abyss of the trough and gazes out of the protected slopes. Slow yet steadfast, the colossus descends towards the opposite end of the crater. Contact.

Interstellar momentum unites surface crust with foreign granite, crystal and ice. Upheaved into space, masses of compacted rock begin new journeys towards other realms of the solar system. Gravity maintains grasp onto portions of the ejected grey plume while seismic shocks emanate deep below. Coalescing with the maelstrom of falling debris, mighty hardened compounds rise out of the pierced surface from the mantle. Dust envelops the malleating monolith buffeting down its length as a radiating tempest.

Tectonic foundations of the asteroid strain to absorb the impact and the Vestal senses a reverberative shifting of mass far from this location. Another fissure. Cleaving the terrain, a new trough cuts outward. The blasting shock waves push surface regolith over the convexed escarpment in streams. Remnants of boulders, craters and entire hillsides lay decimated at the bottom of the labyrinth.

The quakes subside as falling rock and dirt settles within the massive new crater. Only the dense grey cloud of dust remains in movement and, then, stillness. And yet, stars are still hidden. Enshrouded by dust within overlapping craters, a dimly outlined enormity has replaced the once malevolent void. A sliver in the haze reveals a stemmed ridgeline of protruding pinnacles. Steep bluffs display broad compressions of rock containing wavered layers of grey, umber and emerald hues. Intersecting ridges become pronounced as the dust drifts into distorted cracks.


Looming high above the horizon, the silhouette of the great mountain and its full encompassing form is realized. An unprecedented new perspective awaits upon the obscured peak for the wandering guardian.


With absolute familiarity of a constantly changing environment comes constant wandering.

 

This Universe now knows this place amongst its stars.

 

Originally written for A Vigil of Black Stars published by Mount Abraxas Press.

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