Creating planets and guarding the stars leaves novice planet builder Kai Faewiva lonely. For members of Kai’s species who are born with an organ called a caerellon, their true love, their Sun or Moon, is identified at birth. But the novices are people who have lost their perfect love, and Kai’s Sun is long dead, killed in an accident when he was five years old. Or so everyone thought.
After recovering from another bout of the unidentified illness he has battled for years, Kai returns to work. But his quiet day at the planetarium is thrown into chaos when scans of Goka Prime, one of the planets in the Sol-Alpha2 system, picks up a life-form that shouldn’t be there. Kai’s Sun, Oliver Gyin, is alive and well, but how he got to be on Goka Prime, no one knows. Now he needs to be brought home.
Ollie has lived most of his life in the City of Harrea, never guessing he is from another planet. Surprised to find a stranger means the world to him, Ollie wrestles with his loyalties and the drive to return with Kai. To leave Goka Prime, he must give up everything and everyone he knows. But twenty years apart means Kai and Ollie face a fight to secure their destined future.
KAI SCRIBBLED down the readings from the multi-sol apparatus and sucked thoughtfully on the end of the stylus before adding an extra note about how the fluctuating pattern appeared to have righted itself. He slid the stylus back into the tablet, tapped his code onto the screen, and transmitted the information to the central computer. The next set of readings popped up on the screen. He hurried down the gangplank to the viewing gallery for the Section Three planets, his path highlighted by the glow of the Ridaha solar system casting a gentle hue from its giant dome, its planets rotating in a perfectly calculated pattern around Sol-Alpha1. Kai didn’t stop to watch the path of the new comet that had been released that morning. He was too eager to see how yesterday’s adjustments had fared, given the unexpected seismic activity Jian had caused when he’d tripped and knocked the glass. The poor guy had been mortified. Kai had never seen another novice reduced to tears by a Master before.
He raced past the Sol-Alpha2 and Sol-Alpha3 systems. Despite spending most of his days there, Kai still got a buzz from the planetarium. His protectiveness toward the little worlds and the simple species that evolved on their surfaces knew no bounds, and each major milestone they reached made him act like a proud parent even though he couldn’t really take any of the credit. But by far his favorite was the nursery and the way the baby planets developed in their glass bell jars. He’d been so excited when he’d released one into a new solar system the week before, feeling the thrill of sharing the culmination of so many people’s work as the gravitational forces were balanced and realigned with a central star.
Kai intended to head over to the new solar system later, but now he was needed in the planetarium’s nursery. He bounced happily from one foot to the other as he positioned the octispy, careful not to hit any of the hundreds of jars that each held its own new creation. The arm of the viewing device creaked as he wrestled with it, the cumbersome bulk of the telescope making it difficult to handle on his own.
Turning the wheel on the side of the long barrel, Kai focused the octispy’s pointed aperture toward Planetary Body 16a. The small sphere, one of a number he was caring for at the moment, could hardly be called a planet, since it was only a few planetesimals away from a protoplanet. The little protoplanet was the result of his new experiment in gravitational coalescence, and he itched to develop it further and could barely wait to start creating its atmosphere once it finally stabilized. Kai knew he probably had decades’ worth of work to do before it would be ready to join the mature planets—if it passed the strict criteria for joining a planetary system. He’d love it if his little creation was chosen as a home for sentient life, even if these days they weren’t supposed to meddle with evolving species.
Kai slowly turned the octispy’s wheel while peering down the viewer to fine-tune the focus, the lens right up against the side of the glass jar holding his creation. By the look of things, the protoplanet’s surface had cooled enough for the thin crust to start to form, and Kai was pleased to see he’d gotten the mix right for the elements, although he might need to tweak how they were deposited if they were going to be useful to any future inhabitants. In the future he might need to adjust the fissure developing toward the north pole, but all in all, it appeared that Jian’s little accident hadn’t caused any permanent damage. In fact it might have added an interesting feature of a potential mountain chain. But that was really supposition, since the surface features were far from set.
Kai switched on the scan that would measure the standard collection points and jotted them into the tablet as each one flashed up. There was a spike in the heavy metal profile, not unexpected at this point, and certainly nothing that couldn’t be fixed. He really needed to speak to someone about getting the interface between the octispy and the mainframe updated. There had to be a way to fix the bug preventing the direct collection of information, but so far their systems had been rendered incompatible, and it made for a less-than-eloquent process for setting up the computer simulations he wanted to run.
He performed a wide sweep of the space around Planetary Body 16a, which in his head he’d already started calling Olgyin even though the naming committee wouldn’t accept his application until his plans for the breathable atmosphere had been ratified. Everything looked normal in the surrounding space—no anomalies or ripples that could undo his work—and the bell jar itself showed no sign of instability. Yes, Olgyin was shaping up nicely. He could hardly wait to start sculpting the crust. He had grand ideas, knew of vast expanses and hidden caves he wanted to create, the kind of places he would choose to retreat to. Maybe one day he might have someone to retreat with. He snorted softly under his breath for his stupidity. There was no one for him—not anymore.
Olgyin. He wondered why he tortured himself so. Why pick a name that would remind him every day of something he’d never have? At the same time, he thought it fitting to name his first solo creation after something meaningful. Kai’s mind wandered to how his once intended would’ve looked now. He’d have been twenty-six, three years older than Kai, and maybe taller, and Kai would’ve had to reach up to kiss him. Sometimes Kai imagined green eyes and soft lips, and how he and Ollie might have fitted together, wrapped in each other’s arms, sharing their first kiss.