Talar and Laquin led Anaxis, Mills, and Xala up through a long, steep stairwell from the main chamber at Haven. It opened up into a vast, darkened space.
“Ready?” Laquin asked the newcomers in the darkness.
“Ready,” Anaxis answered.
“Not if it’s going to be scary,” said Mills.
Laquin threw a switch and the space was flooded with light. It defined a round room capped with a massive dome, occupied almost entirely by a giant mechanism that sat in its center. The mechanism was comprised of tubes of various lengths and widths, all connected to a platform that say on a circular base.
“What is it?” Xala asked.
“Our eye to the sky,” Laquin answered. “It’s a telescope. It’s how we knew of the crash in the desert.”
“What’s a telescope?” asked Mills.
“It is a device that collects electromagnetic radiation,” answered Talar.
“Visible light,” Laquin added. “This one is composed of mirrors that help to collect and focus the light beyond our planet. With it we can study the cosmos.”
“What’s the point?” asked Mills.
“Haven’s entire reason for being is anticipating the return of our ancestors from Alm,” said Talar. “And it seems as if our waiting has finally been answered.”
“This whole thing is for that?” Mills asked.
“Primarily,” answered Laquin. “Though we have been able to study the movement of the stars with it. And to anticipate possible meteors or asteroids that might pose us threats, a lesson learned from our ancestors on Alm.”
“We heard a bit about that,” said Anaxis, “About our ancestors being from another planet. So it’s true?”
“Certainly,” answered Talar. “The people of Alm left many thousands of years ago to explore and colonize new planets, and that’s where the first humans on Valor came from.”
“And they haven’t been back since? Not until now?” asked Xala.
“No,” answered Laquin. “We are hoping to find out why by studying the information we gathered from the crash in the desert.”
“Fascinating,” said Xala. “Can I have a look, in the telescope?”
“Of course,” Talar said. “You all can.”
Xala stepped up to the viewing platform. Laquin manipulated some levers along the wall, and the dome of the room started to open.
“Whoa!” Anaxis cried. “How’s it do that?”
“Very carefully,” Talar answered. “And secretively. We’ll have drones from Gnirean coming by soon on their daily rounds, so we’ll have to be careful to close it back up before they get here.”
“Can’t they recognize it from the outside?” asked Anaxis.
“We’re very well camouflaged,” answered Laquin. “Go ahead, Xala, have your look. Quickly.”
Xala put her face to the viewing apparatus and gasped.
“It’s like I can see into eternity!” she said. “How far am I looking?”
“Many light-years,” answered Laquin. “We’ve not reached an end to its sight, yet.”
“What’s a light-year?” asked Mills.
“That’s how far light can travel in a year,” answered Talar.
“Light travels?” Mills asked.
“It does,” answered Laquin. “So quickly that it’s hard to discern on Valor, but in studying the cosmos, we see light reaching us from very, very far away. In a way, looking at light that has travelled a long enough distance is like looking into the past. What we are seeing is only what has reached us at this point, not what is actually being emitted currently.”
Mills looked overwhelmed for a brief moment, then shook his head.
“That’s pretty crazy,” he said.
“Can I look, Xala?” asked Anaxis.
“Go ahead,” Xala said, stepping back from the viewing mask.
“Here,” Laquin said, manipulating the levers to rotate the telescope into a new position. “Tell me what you think of that.”
Anaxis put his face to the viewing mask and gasped. He saw a stunningly bright circle, reflected in such detail that he could make out spots and whip-like flares dancing around and across its surface.
“What is it?” he asked.
“That’s our sun, Arum,” said Laquin.
“It’s alive!” he said. “The sun is alive!”
“It sure is,” said Talar. “A massive thermonuclear furnace churning in the cold void of space, keeping us warm and giving us light.”
“It’s so beautiful…” Anaxis murmured as he continued to stare.
“We can look again later,” Laquin said, “But the drones will be by soon. It will be best if we stop for now.”
“Alright,” Anaxis said disappointedly.
He stepped down from the viewing platform and Laquin closed the opening in the dome.
“Shall we go see what Orn and the others have been able to find from the information we obtained from the crash?” asked Laquin.
“I’d love to know!” said Xala.
“Me too,” said Anaxis.
“Are we going to go home soon?” asked Mills.
“Soon enough, Mills,” said Laquin. “Just hang in there a little longer.”