By: R.J. Newlyn


The attack came soon enough, our pursuers shading the distant sun as they flew in low over the glacier. We fought off the first assault easily, strewing their blackened remains across the ice, and the next wave was successfully lured into a narrowing valley from which they couldn�t escape. Their wings became entangled in that tight space and we rained down fire mercilessly from above. But they learned from their mistakes.

Lily had spent most of her time training the young ones who would (and did) follow her to their deaths. I�d watched the older folk looking sadly on � they knew what would come of this. I wondered whether Rhea would ever recover her children, a whole generation lost in that pointless slaughter.

There were just too many in the end. Flying up above the meagre atmosphere with ten others from our army who could make it that far, I saw the fleet waiting in the darkness and knew that we�d lost. We still managed to take out the mother ship but I was the only one who returned. Lily and I looped around Saturn, using its gravity to escape, leaving our friends to their fate. I�m not proud of that.


When I dream, I am always back on Earth. Usually I�m walking through the old pine forest to my grandfather�s cabin and he�s pointing out the stars beyond the treetops. Sometimes my parents are still living there, sometimes the house is empty. I was quite young when they were taken and their faces are always obscured.

In the dream that came after the battle on Rhea, it was just my mother waiting for me. I was running through the forest but the cabin was already burning and dark figures were bundling her into a van. I tried to scream but my grandfather�s hand was over my mouth, pulling me into the shadows out of sight.

I woke with a start on bare stone. Lily was sitting close by, staring straight ahead, her face fixed and grim. The rock on which we were sheltering orbits far beyond Pluto and Charon � in the outer darkness where the sun is barely distinguishable from other stars.

But creatures survive even here. I was about to say something to Lily when I noticed that she�d risen to her feet. A pair of huge, pale eyes was closing in on us, other shapes following close behind.


I�d heard the stories of course. I remember my grandfather telling me about the nameless things that live in the expanses between the stars, feeding off the dark matter that astrophysicists struggle to explain and occasionally interfering with their observations (always recorded as methodological anomalies). But then my grandfather was full of odd ideas and I�d never really believed him.

They flocked around our rock, a few close to our size but most much larger (one or two a little way off as big as mountain ranges). They mainly came in shades of grey: some so dark as to be barely visible, a few of the smaller ones covered with shimmering ultraviolet bands that ebbed and flowed across their skin. And there were so many of them � the night sky was filled with their assortment of wings, tentacles and staring saucer-like eyes.

The noise they made was beautiful � a little like whale song but sadder and, if it makes any sense, more �empty�. Lily seemed to have no difficulty communicating with them and it was clear that they had come to her war-call.

My heart sank when she gave me my orders. But then I thought at least I�d be going home.


Resting for a while on the plain they call the Sea of Tranquillity, I dug my toes into the moon dust and sat there, gazing up at the Earth as it hung over the jagged horizon. I watched the whorls of cloud drifting slowly over its surface and imagined all the lives lived out beneath. I could identify some of the land masses and tried to locate the place where I once lived � remembering the dark pine forests and my grandfather�s cabin where I had first looked up at the stars and realised I could reach them.

I felt the soft vibrations of footfalls and glanced around to see one of the detachment commanders standing over me. The lights from his ship glistened on the moon�s surface. I remained seated.

�You took your time,� he said. �We thought we�d lost you.�

�I improvised,� I replied, shrugging.

�Improvised? You took out our mother ship at Rhea.�

�It was the way things were going. They have to trust me.�

�So what about the bargain? Will we have her?�

I thought about Lily following her longer route through the darkness; I thought of her plan and my part in it.

�Yes, she�ll come.�

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