Earth is a planet that houses four billion people on its seven continents and the islands interspersed among them in wide oceans. The population was much larger a hundred years ago but was almost halved by a series of catastrophic natural disasters that decimated the icebergs. The ocean levels rose, forcing people to move inland in order to escape the rising tide.
Maybe Mordern foresaw that this would happen. Maybe the Providences gladly traded in half of their estimated lifespan and their freedom to be secure in the knowledge that, no matter how many icebergs melted and islands went underwater forever, they’d live through it all. The founders envisioned a self-sustaining Miralay, one that would continue to grow and prosper even if Mordern ceased to exist, even if humanity on Earth ceased to exist.
Why didn’t that ever come to fruition? Would that not be profitable for Mordern? They’d certainly be rolling in the big bucks from survivalists fretting about the seemingly impending apocalypse.
Liv is dead. Liv was murdered. Once we touchdown on Earth, everything should go back to normal, shouldn’t it? I’ll combine the notebook I’ve kept hidden in my clothes with the diary still tucked away somewhere in my room and I’ll go back to dreaming in the city that doesn’t exist. Amelia still doesn’t know about it, I think. The brain-machine interface can’t access thoughts, can it?
The whole point’s moot. You’d need a pendant to get into the loop of time, and with the revolution on Miralay about to begin, Amelia wouldn’t dare relinquish any troops to Earth. She’d gain nothing- at least, I don’t think she would.
I never want to go back to Miralay or have anything to do with Miralay or Mars ever again.
I don’t want to be the “Providence” or “former Providence” or even a “Miralayan”.
I just want to be Eponine Westal.
Is that too much to ask?
But Sully’s here. Sully’s with me. I can’t abandon her here alone on Earth. Sure, there’s Limberstein, and it’s not too far from Heavestone- a half-hour’s lightrail ride there and back. But sending a girl who’s lived only in one particular stretch of the Miralayan confines through the mass transit system on Earth? Does Sully even know what a lightrail is?
There are going to be a lot of things here on Earth that I’ll have to explain. Not just to Sully as she adapts to Earth, but to my parents- my overbearing mother and mostly-absent father. I’ve been gone for almost three weeks. Just like a summer camp, eh? That’s the worst summer camp I’ve ever been to.
That reminds me- summer day camp is this month! How am I going to explain to the staff and all of the other campers there that I’ve got a Providence dot now? I’ve managed to pass off as Earthen so far- just remember not to get into any dark places with someone else or a camera watching. Remember to slather on sunscreen before stepping out into the harsh sun so you don’t burn into a crisp, and ignore anybody who makes fun of your pale skin. Don’t do anything that might result in falling from high places. Don’t do anything that might get you into the first aid office where a professionally certified but overweight nurse might discover that you have two hearts and accidentally diagnose you with a heart attack and end up causing a hullabaloo with ambulances and an AED because then you’ll never be able to go back because now your health forms are absolutely screwed and the government will wonder where your permission from Mordern to reside on Earth is.
Not that any of those things have ever happened to me. Camp’s probably the only place where the only things that could remind me about Miralay are the campers wondering about what’s going on there. What am I going to say this year when the inevitable conversations start up anew? That their fantasies of a benevolent king and queen in medieval dress guiding people or aliens far evolved from humans with fantastic technology are false? That there’s no way they’d be romanticizing the Providences if they knew the truth?
Who am I kidding? Everyone loves a good dysfunctional government to point their fingers at and laugh and daydream about.
Maybe I can pass my Providence dot off as myself having converted to some lesser-known religion. Maybe I’ve joined an eclectic cult that operates in a different country and shrouds itself in several layers of secrecy and just so happens to mimic Miralayans due to some twisted reverence for them.
Yeah, I think I’ll go with the cult option.
Sully’s still in her sleeping pod, dreaming away while her muscles tingle with controlled shocks and strengthen. I’m in the pilot compartment of- what was this ship called again?- Bessie One, watching Earth loom ever so closer as I float along inside here. Autopilot is doing everything. Farrow is catching a quick nap before he’ll have to oversee the landing. I couldn’t sleep in there any longer. Not after Farrow accidentally thawed me early instead of after landing on Earth like he was supposed to and then shrugged his shoulders and said that I could watch as we fell from the sky.
I never knew there were so many stars in the universe. Maybe they’ve all got their own planets. Maybe all those planets have their own Miralays, their own outcasts, their own aliens-
I’m being melodramatic. Liv’s cursed me posthumously. I’m alive, and I’m going home, and the person who caused all of this is dead, and that’s all I need to worry about right now.