Illumination: Nine Worlds’ prologue

This is one of my favorite bits from Nine Worlds. It appeared as the book’s Prologue.


“I know what you’re thinking, Alex,” Prometheus said. “Everyone wants to know two things when illumined. First, you’re going to ask me how this all started.” He waved his hands. “How the universe came to be like this. How you have any awareness or power at all in the first place.”

“You’re right. I was going to ask you that. So, can you read my mind?”

“No. No, I can’t do that. Let’s just say I’ve done this before. The questions are always the same.” Prometheus’ lip curled in a wry grin. “Why should you be any different?”

Alex had no reply, and silence crept between them. He looked out the rosy glass window of the strange piscine vessel they had boarded in the train station. People were everywhere. Most raced to meet their connections. Some waited along the wall reading newspapers, eating sandwiches, or drowning out the world with headphones.

Not a soul seemed to acknowledge the huge bronze and glass fish hovering in the steam near Terminal 3A. No one except for a small boy who stood staring, mouth agape at the glassy red eyes of the fish, from where Alex surveyed scene. Alexander waved at the child, and the child cowered behind the legs of a woman that must have been his mother. He heard Prometheus chuckle.

“What about the second thing?” Alexander asked coolly, still staring at the boy.

“You don’t miss much, do you?”

“Not much.”

“That’s good for you. The second thing you’re going to ask me is what you should do about it — about the hidden war, the powers that be, the ignorant masses of humanity. …” Prometheus motioned to the bustling travelers outside.

“Right again. So? You’re the big, bad Titan, right? Surely you have some advice for what I should do now. Or, maybe what you’d like me to do?”

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you, Alex? I’m loathe to disappoint you. The choice is yours.” Prometheus leaned back and sighed. “I have no earthly idea.”