Eternal September

Mary: Look at the sky.

It's so much closer from here.

The queen spares you the pain of caring for spoilers, and tells you of what this should be. The neuron of light that lit up earlier that night pulses, and electricity flicks off of it. She looks up with a wistful excitement. It hangs heavy on her demeanor, as though waiting for something that will surely come, but she can hardly wait for.

You don't know what she's referring to, and she is eager to share.

Her voice shimmers as she tells you of the clouds of Skaia: beautiful, ever-changing visions of the futures yet to come. They're important to her and to her people, just as the beasts that lay murmuring on the edge of the Incipisphere are to the ominous planet. The absence is noticeable - on certain days where the luminous planet's moon eclipses Skaia, like today, the bedroom you sleep in would have filled with these clouds, one could look outside their window and find them.

You think of apologizing, and make the motions to begin doing so, but she doesn't look disappointed. The queen is beaming, and despite your exhaustion, despite your best interests, despite the crushing weight of failed project after failed project, you've never been able to drop your naivete.

The future is exciting.

You had been alone here before, but Skaia has brought someone new into the world. At the same time, in the same motion, it's like she's always existed. The feeling in your chest reveals itself to you, and it's at once nostalgic and alien: pride.