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    The twilight clings as a forlorn lost child as the stars weave themselves into formation. You see your kin—for they are your kin, now.
    The Satellites.
    You are here to watch, and wait. You will not shield—not yet.
    Maybe not ever.

    It is six—seven?—seven cycles since you joined the Satellites.
    Why are you counting? You should not count.
    You joined the Satellites long ago. You do not know when, for time is not Satellitan.
    Is it eight?

    A thought springs into your mind and it is not your thought.


    and you know it is the whispers and memories, the cold Satellitan whispers that are your only hint of life in this deep world.

    The shield is forming. You watch as they create the living thing that is a Satellite‚Äôs purpose—row upon row upon column upon column—every piece in its place.
    The whole are as one, and the one is as all.
    You watch. And you wait.
You have hundreds of memories, each of this same event. You have never seen it for yourself. This is your first time, and it glitters in your mind, as bright as your first new moon.
    The interlocking hexagons shimmer and glaze. Your eyes fade over them—ten, forty, two thousand, a million. Two million and twelve.
    Jupiter comes. He will come with weight and fury and starlight and seven lightning bolts.
    He will throw himself against the shield, for Earth is his. He will rage and shout, but he will fail. He will shatter himself against the shield as you watch.
    You know this, because others have seen it. So you remember.

    The glistering hexagons—two million and eleven. There is a gap. A gap in the shield. You see it, there, right there, and you know the shield will fail.
And still Jupiter approaches.

    The strength of all is the strength of one. But the weakness of one is the weakness of all. The shield will fail and you will die. That is how it will be. And you know that you cannot change what will be, any more than you can change what is.
    All the while the still-human part of you is rebellious.
    Instead of quenching it, this time you listen. You tend it, like you once tended flowers. You remember the five-ish petals on a poppy, and you grow stronger.
    And Jupiter draws ever nearer.

    iwillfillthegap you think, and it is the fiercest thought you have ever felt. Iwillfillthegap and you feel it burn inside you like a memory.

    iwillfillthegap and your heart hurts with the weight of it.




    You will not fail.
    You will fill the gap.

    You reach out. A tentative thought-movement, feeling the edges of the shield. It is soft and golden and warmly-sharp at once, and it draws you in even as you hesitate.
    iwillfillthegap you think, and the shield welcomes you.

    theshieldstarshieldfallingshimmerfilledcomingcomingheiscoming and you absorb the feelings and the memories flow through you and—
    The whole is as one and the one is as all.
    You understand now.
    You are all, everywhere, nowhere, none.
    The whole is as you. You are all.

    And still Jupiter comes.


You can see him. He comes with weight and fury and starlight, and seven lightning bolts sparking and hissing in fury.
    He is here.
    He roars or screams or shouts or maybe all of them at once, a wordless cry that says—
    I will win this time.
    I will own you.
    I deserve to own you.
    You will be destroyed.

the whispers say.

    We will win.
You feel it around the edges of your heart.

    Jupiter crashes like mist and cymbals against the shield and it quivers and trembles with your shaking hands. And then—


—and your heart slowly stitches itself back together from its shattered sevenths.

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