They had made their own star. It adorned the heavens, a jewel in the crown of their technological triumph. It was not, of course, actually a star, but rather a satellite – a space-station, to be precise. Not the first of its kind, but the first to be so large as to be visible from the surface with the naked eye, as it passed through the night reflecting the burning, invisible sun.
The occasion of its launch had been one of great fear. So many things, after all, could go wrong. But when it settled neatly into its orbit, most of its creators breathed a well-deserved sigh of relief. Most, but not all. One watched on with a particular concern. Surely, he thought, it would now be obvious to them? They would realise the truth long hidden in plain sight?
The war had been almost incomprehensible in its scale. Vast aeons of time could not disguise the shattered remnants of the all too human cost it had exacted. Ships in the thousands – millions, even, had burned. Too many to clean up, too few left to do it – they drifted aimlessly as centuries passed, macabre monuments to the folly of man and the brothers who had killed one another.
So much time had passed, in fact, that the war was all but forgotten. Only the barest few knew it had ever happened, and carefully swept all traces of it from sight. All traces, except the ships. But the people had never questioned those – merely accepted the explanation provided, and carried on, regardless.
The nearest one always seemed the largest, though in fact it wasn’t, though it was by no means small. A colony ship, it had been entirely black once, its hull blending into the night. But for millennia it had shown a face – its bow scorched by fire of extraordinary vehemence, it shone a bright grey. The forces of gravity held it forever facing down, its heavier stern pulled away, into the skies, as it spun around the earth. The result; a perfectly circular beacon in the night – for it too reflected the sun – and so they told the people it was spherical, and called it the moon, and if you didn’t think about it too hard, you could believe it.
Further out, the fleet of a million million ships glittered in space, still carrying their long dead crews through the aeons. And they called them stars.