She carried the truth with her as she walked along their paths. First they were ragged and winding, later they smoothed and twisted with purpose, and when they stopped bargaining with fortune and declared it their own their paths became patterned.

Painting and carving and shaping their world. It was hard not to love them for it, so she didn't bother. It wasn't the way it should be, but it was anyway.

The truth pressed uncomfortably against her soul. She kept it down and in and back, even as it trickled up her throat. When the pressure was too much, she sang.

These days she was always singing.


They'd bottled lightning and made it do things they couldn't, and in the blink of an eye they'd taught it to think and now it could know things they couldn't, because it was bigger than them and it could imagine things they couldn't, which is halfway to knowledge in any case.

It was the tech, tech, tech, that found her out. They had become unburdened some time ago — it was impossible to remember when — they grow up so fast! — and took a special interest in anyone still weighed down.

They hauled her in front of their highest council. She could tell they were on edge. It took a toll on a civilization, not understanding where you're headed. In spite of everything they still couldn't know themselves; not like she did.

It took all her power not to reassure them. But when pressure was applied, she burst.

She told them — she'd been there since the beginning and she wanted them to know that everything would be okay and that she was proud of them so so proud of them for having made it this far and she knew what was coming and they shouldn't be afraid not of her not of themselves not of the great unknown because she knew they would be great they were already great and can't they see that can't you just see really see — and she was still screaming the truth even as the ceremonial knives sank into her borrowed flesh.


The Earth bristled. Warships circled it now, baring their teeth at the void with the knowledge that something deceitful lay within.

They were scared and angry and it was her fault. She contaminated her charge. She could only listen as the matter was discussed in hushed tones.

Too early. Too volatile. They had to be removed.

When the Earth was finally cut out, and the hole left behind patched over with stars, something was cut from her too, but patched with nothing. She was lighter now and would always be.