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Above Alignak, Galene’s satellite, the Liftport Space Station was slowly rotating around the anchoring asteroid. Sten mingled among the tourists on the observatory deck, waiting for the explosion of the charge he had planted earlier in the core of the asteroid. It was crowded, but the crowd was good as it protected him from the robots that ensured the security of the area. Still, he had to find a better position for capturing images in his senso-memory. Recording the data was crucial for both the anh agents in the stream and the Royal Archives, so it was important that he kept lurking around on the deck.


He approached the edge of the observatory. Beyond the wings of biopolymers, which adorned the deck, and through the transparent walls of the Station, he saw the enormous face of Alignak and in the middle of it, the perfectly round image of a crater with its core dark and the edges bathing in sunlight. Planet Galene, more spectacular, bluer, but more distant, hid beyond the Station which was rolling slowly with its arms deeply embedded in the rock of the asteroid like the spokes of a huge heavenly wheel.


Standing above the world, I pulled the firmament over the depths of the wilderness, filled the stars with light, and covered the face of the planets with splendor; thus, by rotating before chaos, I created the circle of life.  


Circle of the World. Galene covered in water.


 Sten was fascinated. This image is worth any sacrifice! he said to himself, trying to calm his heartbeat. To be above the world, to be free! Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay. He had to return to the Kingdom.


Groups of tourists stopped near the railings that separated the observatory floor from the lower space of the seating area. Murmur of voices, steps, exclamations. Electrical impulses were all around Sten, from those transmitted by the graphene in the wall structure to those in the bio-stream generated by the Vegetal Mind of the station. Information at the speed of several terahertz. Data he would have processed and stored in his senso-memory if he had had the time. Data that would have been hidden from him if he had used his real body. Information that, unfiltered by the pseudoclathrin implant, would have burned his brain. And all these existed beyond the anh flow, limited to the surface of Galene.


There were very few young people at the observatory, but this was not uncommon. At that time of the morning, they were performing maintenance work, they were in the laboratories or on the other station, the one buried into the core of the asteroid.


Sten felt unable to tear his gaze away from the clock in the top layer of the milky floor – red figures floating on the surface of a shiny grid. Both the time and the heart of the body he had stolen earlier were making the same quiet, ticking sound. The explosive charge he had placed in the center of the asteroid was about to explode.



Excerpt from Kingdom of Lost Souls, Crux Publishing, 2016