It was time to return to the ship, time to make the final jump to the Lazloi home worlds.

The Lazloi herded us forward to wait for admittance at the access door. Cyana tapped the door with the handle of her data sampler and grinned. The preternatural blue metal rang with a dull note. "I think I know what this stuff is, and it's pretty darned cool!"

The Thunderbolt crew smiled politely. They were well used to Cyana's child like fascination with science and technology. Since we had fallen under the wing of the Lazloi, Cyana had ample opportunity to see the Lazloi and their machines first hand. Though we lost most of our belongings when the Thunderbolt fell, she had held on to a scientific hand computer and its basic sensor package. Most of us had been satisfied with watching the remnants of our vid library recovered from a damaged memory crystal, or watching the splendour of the stars from the view plates of the ship. Cyana seemed to be spending every waking hour exploring the ship and pestering the Lazloi with questions.

Most of the Lazloi soon learned to avoid Cyana, but one of them seemed happy to share her enthusiasm. Lyi ny Dyana hept Zynklaea described her job as 'caretaker' of the ship rather than engineer. It was not enough to service the functions of the ship, Lyi said; she also looked after the wellbeing of the ships artificial intelligence.

"It's based on a platinum group metal. Its sometimes nicknamed Blue Steel, but its proper name is Lumina." enthused Cyana, waving the data sampler over the sculpture embedded in the door. "I thought it was Osmium, but now I think it was originally Iridium. The Lazloi must have found a way of changing its crystalline and atomic structure, making it far denser and stronger. They must have done something to the electron structure too, that's why it's blue and unreactive. It's amazing!"

Cyana was forced to jump back as the door began to open, but her monologue continued unabated. "I've calculated that this door weighs about 50 tonnes. If this was natural Iridium, it would be worth a billion credits." The Lazloi behind us urged us forward with their musical and thickly accented commands. We walked across the threshold we had traversed so many times before, but this time with a new reverence. "I reckon the whole ship weighs over 60,000 tonnes," said Cyana running her hand along the corridor wall. "It's worth a trillion credits in metal alone! Of course, you could never get that much money; the market would crash. There's more Iridium metal in this one small ship than has been mined in the history of all our worlds combined."

A Lazloi stepped from a side corridor and gently chided Cyana in broken Standard. It was Lyi. "The ship does not appreciate being compared to a mass of raw metal. It is a living being. You might think of it as just a computer, but it is more than that. The technology of the Creators has allowed some rare individuals to live on inside our ships. Our bodies last far longer than yours, but eventually the end must come. A lucky few can leave their bodies behind."

Cyana pulled her hand from the wall. "The ship is conscious?"

I reached out and touched the metal. "It has a soul?"

Lyi shook her head. "Even the Creators could not answer that question, even with all their powers. They had the power to create this metal, the power to create this ships intelligence, and the power to create the Lazloi; still they did not know about the soul. Did you know that our Creators believed in a Creator?"

-- Tara Alessia, aboard the Lazloi courier ship, "Aradhnwen's Grace"


V4 figure with Marielle Hair and Xurge suit using custom texture. Space craft is an original model created in Cinema 4D.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Cinema 4D R13 Visualise. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

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Updated: 23 March 2012

© Mark Hirst, 2000 - 2016