Lady of the Stars

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The Lady of the Stars found her when she was only an infant, an orphaned ball of molten rock hurtling through the cosmos. She adopted her. Nursed her. Nurtured her. She named her Earth. And in the eons that followed she thrived. Mountains sprang forth from her surface like newly germinated flowers. Water condensed, pooled, bulged into vast sprawling oceans.

And perhaps Earth’s most important accomplishment: life. First were born the amino acids. Then the single celled organisms. Then the plants and animals. Each form was more complex than the last, and each was assembled under the expectant gaze of The Lady of the Stars. Soon the planet teemed with life. And finally, Earth’s crowning achievement: humanity.

Humans. Her daughter’s children. The Lady swelled with pride. She loved them as her own, spoiled them with all they could ask for and more.

There was peace.

But the Lady had sisters, and they were jealous, for they were barren and could have no children of their own.

“I’m like you,” she protested when they confronted her. “Earth was not my own. I adopted her. Can you not scour the cosmos for your own adopted children?”

But they were too consumed by their hatred to hear her words. Instead they bound her, cast her outside the boundaries of space and time. Earth became distressed, torn by the competing interests of the Lady’s sisters. Humans mirrored their divisions and formed divisions of their own. There were wars. People died. Earth rumbled in pain.

The Lady, hearing her daughter’s distant cries, was overcome by grief. She broke the chains that bound her, and today she runs toward her child, toward her grandchildren.

Will she come too late?

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Sacrifice

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Max stood in the middle of a darkened desert beside a man whose name he did not know.

“I didn’t ask for this,” said Max.

“No,” the man agreed. “You didn’t.”

He sighed and gazed up at the stars, knowing full well it could be the last time he saw them.

He’d been given a choice. Lose the world and save it for future generations, or stay and fail to prevent the world’s end. There were no compromises, no half measures.

The man shrugged his shoulders. “You could just walk away, you know.”

“No,” said Max after a long pause. “I can’t.”

The man offered him a sad smile. “That’s why I picked you.”

Max took one final drag of air from an atmosphere that no longer belonged to him. Then he took the man’s hand, and together they disappeared into the dark.

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