Aelegan burned the last of her energy as she floated towards the sun of the eighty-third solar system from Prime. The rest of her broodmates had already left for the ascension place. If she didn’t go soon, the ceremony would begin, and they would move forward without her. She needed fuel for the journey. She needed to eat the sun.
Her eight limbs stretched into space, one touching a planet gently enough to cause small quakes. At the same time, she felt the sun’s four planets—one rough and cool, one smooth, the closest two hot and jagged.
When she brushed against the sun, it quivered. It didn’t burn her. It couldn’t.
“If you eat me,” said the sun, “you will kill the life on my orbiting planets.”
“I chose you because your planets have no life. Dust, yes. Heat. Cold. Rocky mountains and harsh ravines. Nothing that can think. Nothing that can breathe.”
“Not yet, but I have hope of it someday. Once, explorers visited my fourth planet.” The sun flared to show the direction they had come from. “I am a known place. Do you claim to see the future, godling?”
Aelegan twitched a limb, impatient. “Do you know the difference between the possible and impossible? No one can see the future.” Not even a goddess. But she wasn’t a goddess yet, and the time of the ceremony was drawing closer. They would not wait for her.
She opened the maw in her middle, revealing a barbed peristome ready to slash and crush. The sun’s warmth was like a shadow, pressing down but never reaching her. It would be time, soon.
“Have you read the Vantis, of the twelfth solar system from Prime?” asked the sun.
Aelegan stopped her progress, floating silently. The Vantis was her third-favorite compilation of poetry, written by a multi-mind being from the planet Prog, who was blind when all its kind could see.
“Darkness falls beyond the light invisible,” she quoted.
The sun recited the next line. “An open world, the power of a sunless god.” The sun blazed. “You will survive without my energy. It is not my time to burn out. Do not devour me.”
“The others are waiting.” Aelegan drew down upon the sun, knocking planets asunder with her limbs. She could not avoid hitting the fourth planet, and it too was swept away. The sun flared, watching its planets collapsed or flung into strange orbits.
When she engulfed the sun, Aelegan cringed against the intense heat. This sun was powerful, angry, wild. She feared that it would burn her, that she had miscalculated. But she would not be guided by fear.
She held the sun within her, and it did not burn her, though its warmth was constant.
Space grew darker. All was silent.
Then, a rustling. “You swallowed me whole,” said the sun.
She could have engaged her barbed peristome, but she hadn’t. The sun was unharmed. Alive.
“The ascension place is far away,” she said. Many light years, through the monotonous chorus of space. And the others had already gone.
The sun was quiet for a time, as if it too had known loneliness. Then it said, “Have you read all of the Vantis?”
Aelegan fluttered her limbs, beginning the journey. “Can anyone read it all, when it keeps growing? It starts with a spinning planet, one flower petal perched upon the moon. It starts with a quiet night, when even stars must sleep.”
The area around them was dark. She moved towards lighter spaces, calculating the time to the ascension place.
“It does not matter so much how it begins,” said the sun, shifting, warm at her center. “But we will have much time to talk of beginnings and endings.”
A piece of the fourth planet spun past. Broken. Barren. Singular and fragile, like a petal on the moon.
“All things hold within themselves an ending.” She wanted to reach out, to grab the planetary fragment and enfold it, but she could not spare the energy. “I never wished to destroy what was once precious to you.”
Within Aelegan, the sun flared, as if to send one last wave of light to a place that had known its light for so long. She floated forward, driven by the sun’s heat.
“When we arrive, will you grow planets for me?”
“If you are kind,” said Aelegan.
“Planets with life?”
“Oh yes,” she said. “Planets with life.”
Originally appeared in July 2016 in Mothership Zeta. Reprinted with permission of the author.
© 2016 Beth Goder