Under a Foreign Sky

Many Earthlings recently had their people’s celebration of Fathers. That inspired our own Sp’Rark to reflect on hers.

When I was little, my father and I would go under the stars and trade stories. Favula’s sky was a painting of heroes and monsters. Dad taught me them all . . . their names, their tales, their location in the divine mural. I sat wide-eyed by many a campfire as he explained that the sky was a record of my people, a song whose chorus repeated every season but never grew tired, a light that never dimmed. A light, he told me, I would always have to guide me.

One day at school, a teacher yelled at me for “spreading dissident superstitions.” “The Knights of Outer Rings are not real!” she snapped. I had been drawing the battle recalled by my favorite constellation. The fingerpaints had died my hands into the colors of a Nebula. I told her that I saw them take guard in the sky every winter, but that only made her more angry. She soon ordered me to wash, and I, confused and scared, obeyed and kept mum.

Later, I went to look at the stars but found them blocked by smoke, and the sky was filled with the roar of ships. I strained hoping to see one of my favored Knights, or Vex’torix, the Champion. But all I saw was the smoke and more ships charging in, defiling the sky with their unnatural light. Then there was the shout of my father demanding I get into a strange cylinder I had never seen before. We soared skyward and I thought to myself “I am going towards the knights, there we will be safe, there I can be among the legends.” So I thought and prayed as I heard explosions below.

Phobos, one of Mars’ moons

But three light-speed jumps later, we were on Mars. And when I looked into the sky there were two moons. And the seven stars that made Vex’torix were not there, nor the dancing lights that made the Knights of the Outer Rings.

I learned that the Martian sky had its own heroes, its own monsters, its own tales. But for several years I could not bring myself to study them. The stars had let me down once before, and in my pain I did not want to turn to them again. Until one day, my father forced my bitter self out on a camping trip to the depths of one of Mars’ great craters (I resisted so much at first), lit a fire and once again began to tell me stories, stories from a new sky.

Sp’Rark is a Special Reporter for the Martian Muckraker, specializing in high-tech stories and Earthling issues

Picture of Phobos from Wikimedia. Image by NASA/JPL Caltech/University of Arizona

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