Planetfall: 1

The unadorned walls of her quarters rotate slowly around her as she sits cross-legged on the small prayer table. The well-oiled bearings in the simple platform she has constructed don't make a sound, and her surroundings move around her perspective in blessed silence. The long window comes into view once more and the stars are different, the ship in its own rotational pattern, maintaining an artificial sense of gravity.

You are still Qasim.

The voice of her master speaks to her unbidden. She can hear his rasping, insistent tenor clearly in the arched gateways of her mind. Her own voice responds.

Yes. I am.

She has been her own master since leaving her village. The elders would no doubt be scandalized. Let them be so, she decided long ago. Their pronouncements, made quietly but audibly to the villagers leaving the evening prayers every Friday, are nothing in the face of true knowledge.

There is none but Allah.

She stands up now, planting her bare feet on the platform as though bracing herself against a coming wind.

There is none but Allah. But Allah has put revelation into me. I must make myself worthy to hear it. I must be myself to know myself.

The window comes into view again. Her side of the ship now faces the planet. It takes up the entire window, colored like sandstone, secrets hidden in its thick, implacable cloud cover. The journey is going to end shortly. The mission will be upon them. She must access the deepest parts of herself, where the gossamer strands of insight lay. The path ahead is obscured by great clouds, burning to the touch, annihilating to the unwary.

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