Translator’s note: Eh is the modern Inmararräo way of spelling `e. Both are pronouns. Even so, in Inmararräo, pronouns are not conjugated. When localizing these texts, we invented an English compatible conjugation for Eh, to Inh, Ihns, and Ihnself. `e is Fenekere and conjugates in a different, very clunky way. When Eh titled this chapter, Eh put the unconjugated `e into the Inmararräo sentence. In previous chapters, Eh used an old masculine pronoun when referring to Father `e, so we translated that directly. So to maintain the intent and form of Ihns language as best we could, when translating this title we treated it more like a name rather than a pronoun and made it possessive with an apostrophe and an s.
Immediately below, Eh explains their reasoning for the title.
`eteqeye is the Fenekere word for the sun. Rrinwuf is ancient Inmararräo for “tiny black thing”, commonly used for specks of dirt. The Resistance imported `eteqeye into Inmararräo, instead of using the Inmararräo word for sun, to make a particular point.
There is a creation myth that was buried in the oldest records of the language. It was the kind of thing that Ninshai was always searching for, but it was Ikri who found it. She found a couple of the oldest myths and memorized them in order to argue with Ninshai better, and show him up occasionally. And in this creation myth, the sun is described as having been created from the right eye of the Parent of the Ktletaccete. The left eye became the moon. And the Parent of the Ktletaccete has a name. It’s `e.
Father `e really had called himself “God”. But apparently, that was a requirement for the way Exodus Ships were constructed and run. Someone had to take that title and define it with their own actions.
If the records were to be believed, there had been many `es before Father `e, each the default Captain of their own Exodus Ship. Maybe, on other ships, there had been turnover. Maybe it was a temporary position. It could only be speculated. I believe Father `e had found a way to be permanent.
By the time the Resistance were able to build a new Exodus Ship, they knew that it would merely be an insult to his existence, and then it would be gone. An irritation. Like a speck in his eye. Once removed, never to be seen again, flying away under constant acceleration, easily forgotten.
And really, it was the people who populated that ship who would live with that name. And the Founding Crew of that ship agreed that they would be proud to remember their beginnings in that way.
And maybe it would be a reminder specifically to whomever took the title of `e to always consider what that ship represented.
So, when the opportunity to build that ship presented itself, a lottery was held, and cell ogivamet was given the lead to the project, which is exactly when that cell learned their designation. Ogivamet was the Fenekere word for the number 634,890.
That cell then chose their `e, who then was tasked with filling out their Crew from all the other available cells.
Of the elders in that cell, Ikri was the only one who was awake when the instructions arrived. And, of course, she ran to Yenfiri.
Father `e was still imprisoned, but there had been several governments since he had been first locked up. Enough of them had agreed to continue to the source of new matter, that the ship had arrived on time, more or less. The factions that each government represented all agreed that someone had to leave the ship. In fact, it might be possible to build multiple new Exodus Ships there, and each faction could have their own physical world, never to see the others again.
But there was a contest to see who could control the ship when the time came.
It was during this contest, these centuries of war while the Terra Supreme decelerated toward its mark, when the construction nanites were used on people. While Crew fought for dominance over the Network and operation of the ship, they took to attacking each other’s descendants to prevent future gains in power.
News of this reached the Resistance cells through the trickle of new recruits that continued through this time.
And it was in the knowledge of this horror and what was at stake that Ikri interrupted Yenfiri with the news that it was time.
Time to deliberate and then act.
They really were going to make their own ship!
If they could survive the fight to control the shipyards.
Fortunately, their cell had already worked out who within their ranks would get which title. It had taken a long time to negotiate that, but they’d had that time.
And while Yenfiri was going to be poring over the ranks of the other cells chosen to act, to select their Crew, Ikri was going to be building the ship itself by directing the construction nanites to do her will.
And as she woke Yenfiri up, she was wrestling with herself about whether she wanted to treat Jenefere as her new name fully, or if she still wanted to think of herself as Ikri. Ikri could be the name she used amongst loved ones. They could do anything once they were on that ship!
It was a silly thing to be focused on, she knew. A distraction from the tasks at hand. It could be decided later, and she could always change her mind.
But she also knew it was just natural for her mind to do things like that, and she let it.
She briefly tried, as she’d done so many times before, to imagine what it would be like if all her thoughts were words like Yenfiri experienced. But she couldn’t. She decided, once again, that she was grateful that they weren’t. It seemed it would be even louder and more distracting than what her mind was doing now.
Instead of letting her into their space this time, Yenfiri appeared where she was, in her space, which was a pristine, unpopulated model of the new ship as they’d all designed it together, `etekeyerrinwuf. They stood on the beach of a park in Shaikye’s pet project city, Hiheshefa, “beautiful bay” or “fair port”.
And she looked up at Yenfiri and asked, “Are you ready?”
“I better be,” Yenfiri said, looking around. “I’m already getting lists of names and biographies.”
“Better wake Ninshai and Shaikye, then, huh?”
“And all the others.”
There had been a star there.
What was left in the middle was no longer very star-like. It no longer sustained fusion. In fact, its form of matter didn’t do anything typical anymore. It was technically, according to some people’s taxonomies, a single, gigantic molecule or atom. It also span very quickly, expelling a spiral of radiation. And from the right angle, this looked like blinking.
Around this ex-star was a nebula, which was being impacted by the remnants of that star’s stellar system and its own outer layers, expelled and disintegrated violently in the explosion of its death, a supernova.
The nebula now had a hole in it where the supernova had occurred, and the edges of the relativistic shockwave that had occurred were particularly dense with matter, and a spectral analysis of that matter would reveal relatively high quantities of iron, oxygen, carbon, silicon, and a number of other elements that are quite rare around the rest of the universe, all in a convenient soup of plasma and gas.
The ex-star was a ball of neutrons about 15 kilometers wide, but no one would go near it to compare its size to anything else. That would be silly and suicidal. But its remnants in that nebula attracted an alien configuration of matter that was much less dense than the ex-star and was hundreds of times its size.
It is speculated by a rare few that something could have been watching as this strange interstellar object, expelling its own radiation and plasma roughly in the direction of the ex-star, smoothly decelerated over the course of several kiloparsecs so that it would settle at just the right velocity in the expanding ring of its remnants.
But that something would not have resembled any kind of life, as life usually likes to define itself.
There was a lot of life aboard that interstellar object, though. And it got furiously to work.
The shape of the object was fascinating. No typical astronomical forces would create such a thing. It was too complex. Though, at this point, the life aboard it could probably be considered an astronomical force itself, simply by virtue of creating the object.
It was 2,500 kilometers long. The widest diameter of its main body, which was the sphere at one end of it, was 250 kilometers wide.
This was incidentally very close to the size of one of the bodies of mass that had orbited the ex-star when it had still been a star. That body was now spread across several lightyears of space and moving very fast. And the visiting object was now the most solid thing in its vicinity.
Right behind that large sphere, there was an array of four spires that arced gracefully out in radial symmetry, creating an X shape that was about 1,200 kilometers wide from tip to tip. And this array seemed to generate powerful magnetic fields that began to funnel the mass of the nebula toward the sphere as the visitor passed through it.
Behind that was a rotating cylinder that was about 400 km long and 210 km wide. And behind that was a spike that comprised the rest of the length of the object. The spike had been what had expelled all the plasma, decelerating the whole contraption. It was now cooling in the remnants of the supernova, as the cylinder’s surface opened hundreds of hatches of varying size. And, driven by centrifugal force, but directed by the magnetic fields, carbon dust infused with complex microscopic lattices of trace elements poured out to meet the gasses being collected by the spires.
How much time all of this took really depended on where you were observing it from. But, in the grand scheme of things, particularly from the perspective of the ex-star, it was less than the blink of an eye. For a certain definition of “eye”.
Soon, at the tips of each of the collection spires, all that swirling mass began to collect enough to start becoming solid again, starting with spheres about the same size as the one at the prow of the visitor, the Terra Supreme.
As this proceeded, larger clumps of solid mass would fly out from the hatches lining the Terra Supreme’s habitat cylinder. And they would be directed by nanites, ion thrusters, and magnetic forces to meet the growing structures near the tips of the collector spires. And there they would be incorporated into what was being built there.
And this whole pinwheel traveled backward through the densest part of the nebula, collecting mass as it went and incorporating it into these new structures.
Eventually, where there had been one generational starship, there were now five. Each one pointed in a direction perpendicular to the others.
The four new ones didn’t have any life on them yet, but that would change fairly quickly.
The first one began to rotate itself so that it was pointed in the direction it had been moving, while the other four began to gently apply thrust to accelerate away from it. And by the time the Terra Supreme was ready to resume its course, the others were far enough away from each other to safely activate their fusion torches at a full burn.
And as they all sped away from each other, they topped off their fuel tanks and kept them full using their Bussard collectors in the process.
One of those child ships had named itself `etekeyerrinwuf, the Sunspot.
And on the Sunspot, a Crew member by the name of `ekele`e was being introduced to the idea of Tutors by another crewmember by the name of `ebewene. And Fenemere, Jenefere, and Eh all participated in the heated discussions that followed, as did anybody else who happened to be near them.