The First Shooting Star

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The First Shooting Star is a spoken-word story, passed down through the greater mindlink of Halcyon. Here, it is recorded by Elluim.

There's always the waves, really. Everywhere on Halcyon, you can hear the sound of the ocean—after all, nearly everywhere on Halcyon, you're a part of that ocean. Swimming through it or surfing atop it. When night comes, there's something simple about sitting on one of these tiny beaches, staring up at Ceyx. The moon hangs above the waves, a perfect disc wreathed in a corona of blue light. It leaves the waves shining as well, nearly glowing from below, and as you watch the reflection there, you see an arc of light paint out of the corner of your vision.

Bright, piercing gold, still there as you glance up. A shooting star peels across the sky, before it fades into the darkness again, leaving a faint afterimage in your gaze. "Hee. Do you know where shooting stars come from?" A voice asks to your side. Odd, nobody had even been on this beach earlier. The figure seems simple enough: A slim, lithe otter, gazing down at you from between thick dreads. He just chirps, sliding down to sit on the sand next to you, smoothing out the sarong around his hips.

"There's a story I could tell. About where shooting stars come from!" You can't help but be curious—he's kidding, right? Shooting stars are just meteors burning up in the atmosphere. You try to explain that bluntly, and his smile widens. "Yes, sure, scientifically. But you don't let science get in the way of stories, ya? So." He takes a slow, deep breath.

Once, a long time ago, our people lived on a different world.

It was called Neptune, and Neptunians are what we are—They were our ancestors!

Just like us, they surfed and swam and sang and savored the wonders there are in life.

And just like us, they were happy and vibrant.

Many many generations of us lived like that, until we decided to all leave and head out into the stars, and leave Neptune behind us. There was a big show of it all—each and every one of them spent their last days in gratitude and rushed awe, before packing it all up onto a great starship. And parties, of course. But when the day came, everyone was ready to board—except for one otter.

Ve hadn't been joining any parties, or any of the sunset-viewings. In fact, ve had decided to swim off by verself into the depths. This was before the LifeGuardians, really, so the Benthic Corps weren't a thing: swimming down into the dark was dangerous and risky. Not to mention all kinds of beasts down there: Leviathans, abyss-worms, gyre-sharks… The darkness bred all kinds of savage life, that blink twice at gulping down any otter out there.

Ve knew this, of course; but ver swimming was impeccable, and ve had one last thing ve wanted to do before leaving. Ve wanted to see the deepest place in the world and swim down to meet it. In fact, ve wanted to do this more than anything else—but ve knew that ve would only have so much time to do it.

And so when the other otters were starting to pack up, ve swam far out into the ocean. While they partied and cheered, ve dove down past the dome-cities, with nothing but a rebreather. When they were plotting courses and consulting charts, ve was following crags downwards and downwards.

And when it was time for final speeches and goodbyes, ve was far, far away—down in the depths of the greatest ravine in all of Neptune. Deeper than any other otter had swam! And when ve remembered to shout to wait up for ver...They were already gone, and the world was quiet. Ve was all alone, completely mindblind.

And so ve swam down, crying in grief and woe, deeper than all the beasts were, and deeper than all the light. At the bottom, there was nothing but darkness, really… And ve felt sadness. Everyone was gone, off for another world—and ve was left completely, terribly alone.

But, it just so turns out, ve wasn't alone down there. Labalene swims those depths, just like She always has. Yes, of course She's real… And when there's tears shed in the ocean that sincere, She always listens.

She told that little otter there in the darkness, "Keep going. You can see them again." And from Her blowhole, She shot a light through the darkness, leading the way to swim. That light She cast was the same light in all our hearts—the one that we feel when we come back to see our loved ones. And that light became a shooting star—and through the darkness, everything was just ocean. Ocean to ocean, the light traveled… and when it landed, it landed in our new home. And ve followed it.

That ship that had those otters on it—all of our ancestors—saw that shooting star, y'know, right as they were starting to come down. It followed them through the darkness, and when they landed, that brave otter was there waving on the beaches to them, smiling.

Those shooting stars—why, they're always just like that otter; they're leading those who might be lost back to those that love them.

"What happened to Labalene, you ask? Well, She wound up coming with us. A bit later, sure, but She's never that far." The otter smirks, his eyes glowing the same azure as that great moon.

"Well, I can tell the story of where She really lives, if you'd like..."