Lir drifted in the ocean of Omanon’s thoughts, his body a patchwork in the ripples made by water and light. And though he soon found land and stretched out, content in sun or in water as she had envisaged, still he asked.
“What next, Omanon?”
The computer hummed around her in the black, and whenever the vast processing banks sighed that was the only measure of time. She was suspended, her seat only another figment of the black, and she imagined that the vague sense of motion, of her surroundings sailing or hurtling on, was what kept her heart beating.
She did not know how long she had been there, but with her eyes open and unseeing it could not matter. She stretched one limb; in the absence of feeling, of any external stimuli, only within herself could she assume that there was motion.
She desired sight and motion.
The banks whirred, and she wondered why there was sound alone. Perhaps sound had come first of all.
“Yes, Omanon?” The voice was deep and warm, and in invisible threads of electricity, subtly different from her own. “What do you wish, Omanon?”
Omanon pressed her eyelids shut, opened and pressed them again. “I wish to see.”
“How would you like to see, Omanon?”
She moved her limbs in the empty black. “Brightness, unlike the blackness. A brightness that brings back to my eyes what there is to see.”
Omanon felt strongly where her eyes lay, for they burned and fluttered open and shut. She leaned forward, steadying herself, and slowly fixing her sight on a point ahead she saw that her arms were outstretched in nothing. Fingers, long and pale, flexed and drew her pulse out to her extremities, and she let her left hand rise to trace the side of one eye, the side of her face.
She could feel it. Her skin upon her skin, a feedback loop.
“There is nothing to see but myself, Computer.”
More varied sounds came from the computer banks. Though Omanon turned her body, there was no reference point by which she could turn. There was only herself and the computer, and the computer was never within sight.
“There should be more. Other spatial bodies that I might touch, Computer.”
“In what form, Omanon?”
She closed her eyes. “A vast and expanding field, where great pieces of matter move with one another. Pieces so great that if I stood upon them I would not see their end, and if I walked on them I would not feel them move, but only myself.
“Yet if I looked down on them from afar I would see their movement, and would know groups that move together. The light, Computer, should come from bodies among the solid ones, so that I know from where light is coming.”
Omanon hung between two spheres, and when she turned she turned in reference to them, and saw in every direction forms and pinpoints of light.
She saw shadow on one side of her leg. It was cast by the nearest of the lights, of the stars; it was cast by the sun.
“There should be colour, Computer.”
Omanon gazed at the two great spheres that were closest to her. Moving away, she could tell that one was smaller than the other, grey and solid where the other was dark, with long red scars running jagged over its surface. There was now choice between them.
“Closer to the large body, Computer.”
The banks hissed and Omanon glided in, in, until she could no longer see that it was round, and it showed her one wide flat face.
“What are the red rivers, giving off heat?”
“The planets are still forming, Omanon. This is one with heat at its core.”
She could tell that it was too hot to go closer, and for some time she stared down at the shifting face with its wild red bands. “It should be covered and soothed into cooling. Water, Computer. And air within the firmament.”
A rush of wind and water swept past, a cold caress bringing her a taste that was wet and pure. But Omanon could not say what it tasted like. She put her hands out to the steam that rose and let the slick warmth spread. The planet with its cloak of water must be turning, and she turning with it, for the light of the sun came and went as the waters settled. When the light came again the waters tranquilly swayed back and forth, glittering below Omanon’s feet.
“Seas,” Omanon murmured, and felt the word gain weight. “There should be many seas, separated by the solid land that one might walk upon. The land should rise up in places.”
Omanon flew around the planet with its shining seas and scattered lands, and she looked on it from both near and far. “Computer, show me what it would be like to swim in the water and walk on the land.”
“But not yourself, Omanon?”
“No, I want to see.”
So Lir descended, his long form slipping into the water. Omanon watched him and he glowed. When he dove she thought on dolphins and flying fish, and then he smiled and walked from the water onto the land, just as she wished. The droplets streamed from him and he first laid down in the sunlight, growing dry and warm and crusted in sand. She thought on reptiles basking, and seals covering the beaches. Then he walked over silt and rocks, and over solid earth, letting her see hills and mountains before he returned to the sea.
To be continued.