“What would the government of Celebes II want with that?” whispered Pauline in a hushed voice, one so low her suit could barely pick up on it. Maria couldn’t see her face; the glow before them was simply too strong.

“Nothing,” said Maria flatly. “Whatever we were told before, it’s obviously a lie.”

The light pulsed, playing against their suits like the reflection of a tropical sun across the ocean.

“I think it knows we’re talking about it,” Maria added.

“How can it know? How can it even be something that could know?” Pauline cried. “It’s just light.”

“No,” Maria said. “No, it’s not. I think it’s alive, and I think we’re under contract to sneak it through a blockade.”

Maria honestly felt like she was having a failure of imagination. Jessie wouldn’t have had that problem. There would have been theories bubbling out at a mile a minute, half of them funny, half of them brilliant, half of them again 150% ridiculous. Alone, without Jessie, Maria wasn’t able to take that same light and reflect it into vision and creativity.

Her speculation was just a pale glow.

The lights contracted and began to swirl, appearing like some sort of impossible galactic vortex in miniature. “What did you do?” Pauline cried.

“I…I thought about Jessie,” said Maria, her voice now filled with wonder. “And it responded. How could it have known?”

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