During the dark days, we wandered blindly through the misty field toward the sea. It was not within our power to change the darkness of our world. Her hand held the magic light, which guided us through the fog. The moisture from the air engulfed our lungs. We coughed sporadically. But we were used to this environment. "By the sea is the ship upon which we shall set our destiny," Asteria told me again. Her eager, young voice had repeated those words often. My ears responded eagerly. "Only God knows our destiny," I said compulsively. The Village Elders taught us that this was the way. They declared that the true religion pre-determined our destiny. They shunned Asteria when she arrived because she was not a part of our destiny. I was different than them. I raised questions that the Elders refused to hear. Why was our world so dark? It was God's will. No, I was sure that it was a natural phenomenon. I had watched the stars change in my lifetime. Each change brought more darkness. I believed that it was within our power to chart our own destiny sometimes. Mine was to follow Asteria for answers. She reached for my hand and led me forward. I could not deny that Asteria was a unique beauty of incredible proportions. She was silver in color. She moved before me as a silver lady with a silver tail. Believers of the true religion called her the Shell. I knew otherwise. Her language was foreign to the village. She told us that she came from the north. Little is known of their ways. She was as human as I was. I predicted that her human interior would burst forth. Her non-human physical exterior was unimportant. My physical exterior could not wait. The waves splashed hypnotically upon the shore. The reflections of the stars and moon were diluted in the dark, green water beyond the next ledge. A dull sound like the buzzing of bees penetrated my ears. She drew aside the final branches from the lily trees along the shore. Her ship awaited our entry. The village would curse me in the morning. I would laugh at them as I left here for a better place. This destination included Asteria's presence at all times. "We have arrived," she said. There were no sails or ores. A tremendous circle of metal bobbed as a log upon the sea. From that object the sound increased. "But where is the ship?" I asked. "There and you will be upon it," Asteria said. It rose and hovered above the sea. Small lights flashed rhythmically around its center. They were blue, red, and yellow. There were more lights than I had seen in a generation. The Elders could never question an image such as this. Oh, if they could see this amazing site. I jumped at the sudden, painful prick on my shoulder. I was confused. I glowered at Asteria, "What have you done?" I demanded. "You asked that I take you to a better place away from the darkness," Asteria said. I felt dizzy. Sweat beads formed on my forehead. My stomach churned. I sputtered, "I don't understand." "I call it a laboratory. There are bright lights there." Asteria removed a small object from a compartment hidden upon her skin. Through my fogged eyes I saw her bring it to her mouth. I no longer believed that she was from the north. Her words were strange, "Asteria to Spacelab Command, Male specimen drop incoming." I witnessed the slow opening of a doorway from the object before me. The light within the object brightened. Asteria smiled at me as my eyes glazed over and the lights went out.
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