Day/Theme: June 4, "there is little gossip among the stars"
Series: Original (one of two)
"I saw a phantasm today," Mirion said.
Anna had run ahead of her friend, clutching her schoolpad tight to her chest so it wouldn't get bent again and earn her another scolding, but now she stopped and looked back. "That's stupid," she said.
"It's not stupid," Mirion said, smiling. "It was beautiful."
"Oh my god, Mirion!" Anna was on top of all the latest slang; religious oaths were starting to come back into favor. "Don't say things like that. Do you even know how many things are wrong with what you just said?"
Anna was already answering. "One! Phantasms don't come down to the surface. Two! No one's ever spotted a phantasm in the solar system. Only in other stellar systems! Three! It doesn't matter how beautiful they are. They're dangerous."
"I didn't say it wasn't dangerous," Mirion protested. "But it was beautiful. It looked like someone had stretched a star out into the shape of a horse and given it wings."
Anna shifted uncomfortably. She was holding her schoolpad too tightly, just like Mirion was holding hers too loosely. "That's all?"
"When it walked, I heard space tearing," Mirion said. "Just a little. I had to look away soon, because my heart was beating too fast and it was starting to lose its horse form and become something else. When I looked back it was gone."
"You imagined it," Anna said. "Phantasms only appear in systems we've used the vacuum warp to get to. That's how they were made, remember? It's in the textbooks. They couldn't be as close to Earth as Ganymede already. We have defenses to keep them out."
"We haven't heard from the other systems in a long time," Mirion said. "Have we?"
"That's just because sending messages attracts the phantasms," Anna said. "They're more sensible than you. They don't send messages unless they have to."
"We send a lot of messages here in the solar system," Mirion said.
"Shut up!" Anna glared at Mirion. "Don't talk like the phantasms have gotten to Ganymede. We're safe here."
Mirion shrugged a little. "It was beautiful," she said. "But I felt a little sick after it was gone, like it had taken something from me."
"You'd feel much worse if you'd really seen a phantasm," Anna said. Then she hesitated. "Well...if you looked for very long..."
Above the dome of the colony, Jupiter hung huge in the sky. Across its swirling surface, something that had once been shaped like a horse with wings flashed and was gone, headed closer to Earth.