The Syzygy —
Carved to endure by Aurash —
The high vengeance —

Only Xi Ro’s bait stars let us escape. Only Sathona’s tricks let us reach the coast. But now that we have my ship, I must lead the way. I am the navigator.

We may never see our homes again. Xi Ro seethes with hate and fury for Taox.

But this is my deepest fear —

Our civilization drifts on the Fundament. At the Tungsten Monoliths I learned that thousands of other species drift with us, coexisting on a vast world sea. And the tides of the Fundament move us all.

The Timid Truth says that we are the smallest, most fragile things alive. The natural prey of the universe. Taox would have us believe that our ancestors came to the Fundament to hide from the hungry void.

My father died afraid. Not of vile Taox or the Helium Drinkers, but of his orrery. He screamed to me —

“Aurash, my first daughter! The moons are different! The laws are bent!”

And he made the sign of a syzygy.

Imagine the fifty-two moons of Fundament lining up in the sky. (It wouldn’t take all fifty-two, of course: just a few massive moons. But this is my deepest fear.) Imagine their gravity pulling on the Fundament sea, lifting it into a swollen bulge...

Imagine that bulge collapsing as the syzygy passed. A wave big enough to swallow civilizations. A God-Wave.

I have to find a way to stop it. Before the God-Wave annihilates my species. If I could only get back into my father’s orrery, I could learn exactly when!

We are weeks of travel and many continents away from home.

When I’m paralyzed by fear, Xi Ro sits in the cabin with me and comforts me with soft, brave words. But more and more we have come to rely on Sathona’s wit. She will go off to be alone (she insists she must be alone) and return with some mad idea — steer into the storm, throw down a net, eat that strange beast, explore that menacing wreck.

Somehow Sathona seems to manufacture good luck by sheer will.