Chapter 3

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

The color white exists as a symbol of uniformity, sterility, and sameness. "In Light, there is only death." The same message VIP #2014 received in the lunar Pyramid. Again, uninteresting.

[Personal notes, scored in Hive leather with a knife.]

I do not believe the Darkness has returned to destroy the Traveler. Surely, it could have done that while the Traveler was maimed and stranded. Why wait for a sign that the Light had returned to its strength?

Perhaps the Darkness has returned for us. Guardians are the Traveler's final memorial. We are its selfless legacy and last argument.

The color white—stasis, blankness, bone—

Flag of truce.

This is an opportunity. We must do as we did before. Encounter the enemy's power, learn what we can, and report back. And if we return with nothing but beautiful and violent words, then we will study them as scripture and find some way to turn the enemy's power to our use, just as it wishes to turn us to its purpose.

My wok is filthy with burnt oil. I need baking soda to clean it, but there is no trona on Io. Instead, I bubbled carbon dioxide through sodium hydroxide (it burnt like Hive blood) and retrieved enough soda to clean the wok.

While I was scrubbing, a young Guardian approached. She had an ancient name. Akkadian, perhaps, or Sumerian. She said that she had heard of me, and she wanted to help me search for knowledge.

I snapped at her to bring me a pine-apple. I know I was cruel.