siren's call

Reflections of the star-filled sky,
I gazed into the magic eye,
Into the soul, the door ajar,
A fate so close and yet so far.

The water here is never still,
My wish can't ever be fulfilled,
For thievishly they stole my heart,
Below the waves it's torn apart.

As I dissolve into the night,
I long for this bewitching sight,
The mystery hidden in the deep,
The secret that the sirens keep.

It shaped the vision in my mind,
A likeness I may never find:
The surface - oh, how does it lure,
So pristine, perfect, primal, pure!




the thirst will be drowned
insatiable and in vain
liquefy carrots



everything repeats
the wheel must not stop turning
run, run for your life


at the fireplace

From across the fireplace
In the summer morning rays,
On blazing skin in early light
The secret wish was burning bright.

Ride across the winter land,
Deliver it with trembling hand,
Acid lungs, cold as the snow,
Longing for her warming glow.

We jumped across the smoking ash,
The slates were blank and hope still fresh,
Victims of those unsung days,
We sat at the fireplace.



proxima centauri

i can see you
small, insignificant, passionate
companion and stranger
together, yet alone

those enigmatic lines
and our lighthearted days
that fleeting moment
innocent and carefree
minute tension
that invisible force
i never felt

strange attractor
meander on
circle, meet square
i never solved the puzzle
will you ever find your place

here's to momentum's mercy
revolutions, take your toll
the odyssey must continue



on sails of silver

The goal is far, so I must travel fast,
The journey's long but I am meant to last,
I blaze a trail into the galaxy,
Imagine all the wonders I will see.

I've aimed my path with such a great finesse,
It's redirected by the lone goddess,
And then I dive towards the burning heart,
There lies the power for me to depart.

Thus comes the time to bid a last farewell,
To spread my wings and to escape the well,
On sails of silver, carried by the light,
I leave the system and begin my flight.

Now I'm alone here in the endless sky,
I float in peace as centuries pass by,
I won't return but I do not miss home,
The realm of stars is where I am to roam.



the mother ship

As usual, the ship woke him up precisely on schedule. Still sleepy, he climbed out of the stasis cell and pulled himself along the hallway, past rows of other cells. The lights on their doors indicating their status had remained the same for ages. All red, all failed.
Except for him, the entire section was dead, but C'rerr had stopped minding long ago. In his usual manner, he knocked casually at some of the glass cylinders as he floated by. When he was not yet fully awake, he found the eternal silence in the ship disturbing, almost frightening, and the hollow sound produced by the other cells barely succeeded in tricking is stimulus-craving mind into accepting the eternal dullness of the ship as sufficiently real and interesting.
Soon he reached a chamber where six corridors met from four sides as well as from top and bottom. He pulled himself up on a handle and floated through the top corridor until he surfaced through a hatch into one of the large, crudely decorated storage bays.
It was filled with cubical crates, some still strapped to the walls, but most of them floating around freely. Many had been marked with red strokes on all sides, those were the containers that were either emptied or whose cooling or thermal insulation had failed and the food inside had perished.
He navigated through a maze of floating crates which all were already marked. This was the last storage bay, once all the boxes here were depleted, it would be over for him. His duty was to persevere. He was the last of the sleeper ship's crew to be alive. Not all stasis cells had failed, some of the civilians were still alive and well, but they would be of no use to the maintenance of the vessel. And as long as they were still frozen, the food would last him longer. C'rerr also slept most of the time, and was only woken up once every two hundred days to check on the most vital systems of the ship and the last remaining passengers.

Eventually he found a good crate. He opened its seal, picked out one of the silvery packages at random and sealed the crate again. He carried the pouch through another corridor, towards the front of the ship. The end of that corridor was marked by a hatch just large enough for a single person to climb through. He opened it and pulled himself into the chamber beyond.
He ate the food paste - it tasted sweet, but he had long since forgotten what dish it was supposed to mimic - under a night sky filled with stars in the rear observational dome. It was the only place in the ship with a window to the outside, everywhere else there were only screens that relayed live feed from exterior cameras.
Either despite or because of - he was not entirely sure himself - all the time he had already spent in this deathtrap of a star ship, surrounded by an entire environment of artificiality, by machines and metal crates, rectangular corridors and bulbous stasis cells, he was still able to appreciate the only genuine experience the ship had to offer. Sometimes he reckoned he would have gone mad long ago if not for this last resort which reminded him that indeed there was an entire galaxy outside, and that their mission - his mission - was more than just to survive for as long as possible. There was, he knew, a goal, a destination. A destiny, if one believed in that.

Back in the storage bay he dumped the empty package in one of the marked crates; junk processing had failed centuries ago, too. Then he climbed and floated through yet another corridor, towards the main bridge.
He found it eerie, but fulfilled his duty nonetheless. He had known the bridge back from when they had a proper crew, when there were rotating shifts of fourteen at all times, five of them assigned to bridge duty. He sat down in the pilot's seat and performed offline checks on the engines and maneuvering boosters. The main results displayed only few signs of degradation on three of the engines, nothing the computer couldn't compensate for. Business as usual.
Then he switched seats and investigated the navigation system. The star charts were correct, the projections and calculations matched their actual motion. The laws of physics, of gravitation and inertia, which ruled the motion of planets, stars and galaxies were as solid as ever.
Sometimes C'rerr wondered what he would do if any of the projections would be off. Of course he could not do anything, but the mere thought seemed bizarrely entertaining in the midst of all this loneliness.
Next seat, engineering. Life support was at a minimum, it could not even recycle enough oxygen for a standard crew. Heating and cooling was the only thing that seemed to function at near normal efficiency, although sometimes he felt it was far too cold in several parts of the ship. The numbers on the sickbay were all off the scale, and he had not dared to open that chamber after they had to seal it off five hundred years ago.

He shuddered and decided not to remember that accident, and quickly changed to the next seat, which was that of the commander. There was nothing to do here, however, no one to be bossed around, and so he quickly moved on.
Then he was at the cryo-stasis controls. Seven thousand seven hundred and sixty-one cells offline, the bodies contained within long dead. Eleven passenger cells in good condition. Two about to fail, they might still work for a couple of years, but the poor ones inside could effectively be considered dead already (but he did not dare to manually shut them off). His own cell was operating normally. It had actually been a passenger cell; about a hundred years ago his original cell indicated system failure, luckily for him just as he had gotten out of it. He had spent three days just contemplating whose cell to take, who would have to die for his and the mission's survival. Eventually, he took the cell of a soldier. Might not need these at all at the destination; and like all soldiers he must have sworn an oath to give his life for the greater good anyway. Sometimes C'rerr even deluded himself into believing that he had done the guy a favor, though of course he knew better.
Among those cells still functioning was, of course, that of The Mother. It was designed with triple redundancy; two of the stasis units had died down, one very early, when the first cells started giving up, the other unit had become unreliable a few centuries later, when there was still a full crew, and they had to shut it down to prevent possible damage to the third unit.
C'rerr checked the cell's status twice, then, still not sufficiently assured, headed back out of the bridge and towards Her chamber. It was located at the very center of the ship, completely insulated and with its own separate set of life support and power supply. They also had it shielded off from all thinkable outside harm; half a meter of lead, several layers of steel and ultra-dense glass of various thickness, and vacuum purer than in most regions of space between the protective layers.

He had to pass through three sets of airlocks and security checks, in order to enter the chamber. As the last door automatically shut behind C'rerr, he gazed at the beautiful sight of The Mother in her graceful slumber. The sheer size of the chamber and Her stasis cell only emphasized the significance and majesty of this most magnificent being. The cell itself was four meters in diameter and eight high, not a mere cylinder but a wonderfully curved ellipsoid carved from pure diamond.
C'rerr floated towards the huge jewel that had kept Her safe, alive and asleep for thousands of years. He was genuinely touched by Her sight, Her grace and beauty, Her large shimmering eyes that glittered like stars in the night, the delicate yet strong legs and arms, the round and fertile body, but, most of all, he admired her antennae, their gentle curvature and smooth, almost silk-like texture. She was bathed in a golden light that came from within the cell, it emphasized the look of the shining, divine being that she was, encased in a crystal meant to last through the ages.
He loved Her, not just because She was, quite literally, his mother, but because She was The Mother, the sole source, center and purpose everything. His life had been but a gift from Her, and he was to return that gift by devoting his life to Her in return. She was the heart and soul of their very culture, and the sleeper ship existed to ensure Her survival, to let her flourish once again on another - however distant - world.
For some time he just floated still and marvelled at Her in awe, until he finally approached the cell and touched it gently, then laid his head on it. He pressed his body hard against the cool diamond, at least one of his his eyes always fixed on Her. Then he whispered his vow again, the vow everyone had to make before Her in order to be allowed to accompany Her on the journey to the stars:

To follow anywhere,
To serve however required,
To do whatever necessary,
To submit my very life,
To die when my time has come,
This shall be my duty,
For Her Divine Majesty,
In Eternity.

He swallowed hard as he finished the last verse. These were the only words he had spoken ever since he had been alone as the last remaining of Her servants. Now he was Her only hope, and the very thought of it made him feel both proud and insignificant at the same time.
Finally he drew himself away from the stasis cell. He picked up a piece of cloth from a box near the entrance and started polishing the glittering diamond surface with soft, sweeping motions.
This was not an easy task in the weightlessness, as he had nothing to push himself towards against and thus always ended up floating away and towards the chamber's walls, from where he had to launch back again at The Mother's cell and continue from his last position.
When they still had had a full crew, he had partially resented the tedium of this work, and had always been glad when it had been someone else's turn. But now, completely on his own, the mere act of swiping and polishing, of drifting away from and pushing back towards this jewel, had a comforting, almost meditative feeling to it. He could engage in this weightless dance for hours, and indeed he had to in order to adequately pay tribute to Her grandness.

Eventually, once again, it was time for farewell. For a last time he gazed at the glowing crystal throne, freshly polished, white and golden. He nodded in approval of his work and indicated a final bow before he worked his way back through the airlocks.
As he arrived back at his own stasis cell, he inspected it thoroughly, lest it failed upon him in his sleep. He programmed another automatic wake-up-procedure due in two hundred days, then climbed in and put his legs in the designated fixtures (except for his left hind leg, which he had lost in the infamous sickbay accident), then his head and arms, too.
The cell was flooded with a narcotic gas, and soon he fell unconscious. Once the system had analyzed his brain activity and found he was asleep, the gas was slowly replaced by a clear ductile liquid, which enclosed his body like gel and finally filled the entire stasis unit. Then the temperature was lowered until the gel and his body went solid.
He would remain like that until it was time to perform the same routine again. He had lived like this for almost half his life already, staying up a single day for the ship's (and his body's) maintenance and his service to The Mother, then sleeping a night lasting two hundred days during which for him no time would pass at all.

Sometimes, as he floated in the observational bubble, he tried to calculate in his head how long the journey had already been, and how long it would still take. But when he checked his results against the data from the navigation console on the bridge, he was always off by several decades, sometimes centuries.
The Seed Hive 581, as the ship was technically called (the colloquial name aboard had always been Mother Ship), had been en route for roughly 1,200,000 days, and was due for arrival in about 140,000 days, ship time, which would require about 700 of his wake days till the end of their voyage. When he looked these numbers up, he only estimated the last figure himself - he was not sure how many consecutive days he would stay awake as they approached their destination - and found himself quite anxious to see the journey to its very end. Soon, he thought, everything would pay off, all the effort of generations building the giant craft and the sacrifices of those on board would not have been in vain.
He already vividly imagined their planetfall, and how he would stand before The Mother as She eventually would descend from of Her crystal throne to claim a new world for Herself and the hive. In his imagination he gave a short speech and presented a summary of the events during the journey. He would then lead Her to a buffet he would have prepared from food specially treated and preserved for Her, and he would stand guard as She would feed and strengthen Herself. He would tend the eggs She would start laying on that very day, and would teach the first generation of workers that would hatch. Even though he had never been found adequate for mating, in spirit he would be the father of a new hive, a new civilization, and perhaps future generations would remember him, how he alone rescued the ship, The Mother and Her people from oblivion.

On some days he became nervous as the finale drew nearer. He replayed all the emergency scenarios he had been trained to deal with, all the possible problems that had been anticipated, from minor system faults to the catastrophic destruction of the ship, until he knew what he could still deal with alone, and what might either end the journey prematurely or render it void upon arrival. Sometimes he prayed - not to some gods as their ancestors might have, but to The Mother Herself - that the past incidents aboard and how he persevered through them should have been enough evidence of his endurance, commitment and abilities, and that She need not test him any further.
C'rerr found that the ship would arrive in the middle of his last stasis cycle, and decided to forgo that cycle entirely. Instead of returning to his cell as usual, he went to the bridge again, and for a long time stared at the figures and graphs. Twenty days until the ship's giant fusion engines would be fired again; after acceleration the ship had been turned by 180 degrees so that it had effectively been flying backwards all the time. Thus the engines were already facing forward, and would only have to be fired up again in order to commence the long deceleration procedure. Almost fifty days of nonstop fusion fire from the four huge nacelles outside the main bulk of the craft were required to bring the ship into an orbit around the destination star.
It would remain in that orbit for a couple of days during which it would take more precise measurements of all the planet's until it found the perfect chance to launch itself towards the fourth planet, from where it would then slowly spiral inward and eventually aerobrake and then lithobrake on the surface. One side of the ship consisted of thick armoring and heat shielding for this very purpose - to blaze through the atmosphere and at the end even slide across the land for many kilometers until the ship would come to a full stop.

During these days C'rerr was restless. There was not much to do besides his normal duties, as the ship flew completely automatically. If all stasis cells would fail, it would stubbornly maintain its course and programming, and instead of a seed of civilization it would carry but a graveyard to the new world. However, The Mother was still alive, as was he and eleven civilian passengers - enough to found a new hive.
C'rerr wandered around the ship for hours, visited The Mother more often than ever, and on some days did not even eat (while on others he devoured half a dozen daily rations). He also spent a lot of time on the bridge, staring at the big screen which depicted the image before them, one of the few yet to be named stars near their home system which had been found to provide habitable planets. It was one of The Mother's privileges to name the star, the planet and the very land on which She would first set her feet.
He often visited the few live passengers. Sometimes he floated in front of a cell for hours, studying their frozen bodies and the details of their faces. There was a file about every person aboard, and he read those of the still living ones time and time again, until he was even able to recite some passages from his memory. One day he loaded all those files on a portable computer and read everyone their personal record aloud as if he were telling stories to children before sending them to sleep. And soon, he thought, he might be able to do exactly that.
He also read his own file to assure that he still was who he thought, particularly because some of these days he felt almost like an impostor, someone who ought to be dead, too, and had illegitimately refused to die like everyone else in the crew.
Eventually, boredom settled in again, and he considered going into a short period of stasis, but quickly abandoned the idea. The closer they came and the brighter the star on the screen grew, the harder it was for him to remain patient, but also the more anxious he became. He had spent half of his natural life on the ship, he had gone through all the hardships first the crew and then he alone encountered along the way, but now after all that time the final wait was almost unbearable.
It was to his relief when the ship finally reached the outer boundary of the system. He was sitting on the bridge, on the commaner's chair, and marvelled at the images presented on the screen. The ship's exterior had been outfitted with numerous sensors and all kinds of telescopes so that it could properly examine the star system upon arrival; he was presented with a close-up of the outermost planet, a green and brown gas giant. He thought he could even spot one of its moons on the image, then checked the data on another screen and found that indeed it was one of several dozen natural satellites the ship had already detected around that planet.
The sight of another world, even though it was still not the one the ship was destined for, really touched him. Every time another planet was examined and displayed he was full of joy, and proceeded to fulfill his duties with a lightheartedness he thought he had never felt before. When doing service for The Mother he sometimes sang old tales praising Her grandness, or told Her about the system and the many worlds right outside the door, as if he had gone there and actually visited them.

He was on the bridge as the ship cut the engines as planned when they had reached their designated orbit around the star, between the fourth and fifth planet. The fifth planet was technically unremarkable, yet still as exciting for him as all the others; it was a piece of rock with no atmosphere, and the only interesting surface features were the enormous craters scattered across most of its surface.
But the fourth planet, that was their destination. Most of its surface was covered in a multitude of shapes of green and yellow, with bodies of water like freckles all over the surface. There was only one blue area that was large enough to be considered an ocean, but it was still entirely surrounded by land and thus resembled a giant lake, and much of it was covered in thick white clouds. The planet had two moons, one of which was entirely encased in a thick layer of water ice, the other was rocky with a very thin atmosphere of hydrogen and helium.
C'rerr found this setup perfect, as it provided them with future goals for a a new space program in the distant future, when the new civilization would have grown and developed to become space-faring once again. A moon with abundant ice and one covered in fuel was the absolute best anyone could have ever hoped for, enormous deposits of resources for endless generations of future space travellers.

The ship remained in solar orbit for three days until it reoriented itself and started the engines for a last time. It had calculated many different possible courses and eventually found the least stressful. It gradually lowered its trajectory until it closed in on the lush planet, approaching from behind and above in its orbit.
After they had crossed the orbit of the innermost moon the ship dumped all remaining fuel into space and then detached the four engines, which began drifting away from it in all four directions. They would have provided a liability while lithobraking, and the fuel now was just dead weight.
The day before planetfall he held a feast. He browsed through all the remaining intact food crates and picked the most delicious packages and even found a small sack of sugary beverage. He took the food and drink to the bridge and ate for several hours, until the thought he would not be able to eat for days. He indulged in the view of planet, which was now displayed as it would have actually appeared if he were looking out of a window; it did not even remotely fit on the screen.
On a smaller screen he had the relayed video feed from The Mother's chamber so that she could join him in the festivity. Between packages of food and drink he chatted with Her as if she could hear him. He talked about the journey in a joyful manner, about incidents and accidents and the death toll as if it had never meant anything to him. He even made some jokes which under normal circumstances no one would ever dare to direct at Her, but the surge of relief and happiness had made him almost reckless.

C'rerr clenched to the edge of his seat as the rumble grew worse. He could feel the deep vibrations that rolled through vessel as it sped through the upper atmosphere. The image on the screen was lit in fire as the air in front of them was compressed and heated up.
He looked at the status summary, and found with relief that though they were slightly off the perfect trajectory, their course was still well within the narrow corridor that would decelerate them sufficiently without neither slinging them back solar orbit nor roasting more than just the heat shield.
The first pass-through took only a few seconds. They had blazed through the upper layers of air and then were back outside, sufficiently slowed down now into a highly elliptic degrading orbit. Apoapsis came and went and the ship dipped down and fell again towards the gravity well. It cut through the atmosphere again and came out again on the other side, even lower and with less velocity than the first time.
This cycle was repeated several times until eventually the ship was slowed down enough. For a last time the enormous bulky craft entered the atmosphere. The vibrations quickly grew heavier than ever before as they broke through a blanket of grey clouds and reached the lower atmosphere. Then the screen went blank.
C'rerr panicked and looked around desperately in an attempt to find any button he could press to fix it again, but all he could find was a status message that indicated that all exterior cameras had failed from heat damage.
"Please, don't start falling apart now!" C'rerr prayed loudly. He flinched as he heard a sudden creaking noise that seemed to have come from all directions at once. Minutes of sheer terror felt like hours. Then, all of a sudden he was shot forward and back again in his seat and the noise grew still louder for a last time until it was finally reduced to a low rumble.
Knowing nothing else to do, he prayed to The Mother now. She was calm on the screen, still resting silently inside her crystal throne, and that imagine instilled C'rerr with enough calm to not despair completely.
He staggered and fell as he tried to jump over to the engineering seat. The return of gravity had not mattered much when he was still seated, but moving around now felt entirely unnatural. He barely managed to crawl to the seat and drag himself into it.
According to some screens on the console, there must have been a major hull breach. The ship was really falling apart now, he thought. There was nothing he could do but watch and wait. Not long until the ship would touch ground. He knew that with the damage it had suffered, there was no way to say what would happen once it started sliding on soil.
He adjusted his position in the seat, still uncomfortable with his newfound weight. Then for a moment he was pushed down heavily as if the gravity had doubled or tripled all of a sudden. But the surge of additional weight went by and he was back to normal.
He concluded that the sudden bump must have occurred when the ship hit the ground. This also meant that they were already sliding. The maneuver had been planned by the ship's autopilot. From orbit it had looked for an open area devoid of major hazards like large rocks or cliffs and then calculated when and where to commence atmospheric entry in order to touch down in the desired place. Apparently it had not miscalculated. The ship kept vibrating, but otherwise it was steady. C'rerr found the display indicating their speed, and was pleased to see the numbers dropping rapidly towards zero.

A few breathless moments later, the rumble had stopped. The ship was still, and the display indicated that they had indeed stopped. He let out a heavy sigh and then let his upper body fall down onto the console before him. He felt entirely exhausted now. The journey was over, his job was done and he had not failed The Mother.
He rested on the console for a long while until he climbed out of the seat weakly and staggered towards the exit. The handles that covered all of the walls in the ship, which he had used to pull himself along in zero gravity, were still useful for keeping him from falling over. When he stumbled into The Mother's chamber he did not bother to close the airlocks behind.
For a last time he touched her stasis cell and repeated his vow. Then he operated the controls at the foot of the giant apparatus.
It took some time for the temperature inside to rise and the gel to be removed, but eventually he could see Her stir and look around. The entire front of it swung aside slowly as the cell opened. There She stood, towering over him and immediately investigating the the chamber with Her large, shimmering eyes and palps.
Only then did he realize how inappropriate it had been of him to wake her up without all of her personal servants around, and he quickly apologized and started explaining what had happened, that most of the people aboard were dead, and that the others would soon be woken up automatically.
The Mother did not even look at him as he spoke, nor did She indicate even a hint of acknowledgement of his story. Instead she moved past him and through the open doors. He followed her at a distance, unsure whether he should have talked to her at all.
He remembered how he had imagined planetfall, how he had planned to greet her with a feast, but now he realized that he had become obsolete the moment he had touched the controls of Her cell. He had been born, raised and educated, to become part of the flight crew. That had been the entire purpose of his existence. The Mother only gave life for a reason, and his reason had now ceased, his entire caste of astronauts was useless now until the time came to construct another seed hive in a distant future.

The corridor led to a set of huge doors near the side of the ship, which opened with a heavy creaky sound as She approached it. Behind the doors was another short section of corridor, and another set of similar doors. Sunlight fell through the slit the moment those outer doors started to stir.
He did not move as The Mother stepped outside and lay immediately Herself down on an array of soft green-yellow plants that happened to be near the exit. But then suddenly he felt the urge to go, too, and get close to Her again. He trembled and staggered through the last bits of corridor and sunlight until he stood in the grass right in front of her.
He could smell her hunger, a smell that attracted every fiber of his body to Her presence. He fell to his knees and bowed his head down. Behind him he could see the first few of the remaining passengers crawl out of the ship, apparently affected by The Mother's scent as well. They knelt down beside him, and nodded at each other in revered approval, but did not dare to speak.
Then C'rerr felt Her breath right above him. Finally he could come to rest. Though he would never attend to the first generation, at least he would feed them. Relieved and happy, he bathed in his Mother's drug-like presence. He nodded back at his peers, who looked just as content as he. Then he breathed in for a last time before Her grand mandibles closed around his neck.

I have not failed Her, was his last thought, neither in life nor death.