Imagine a vast expanse of nothing, endless miles of nothing, so much nothing that you could live and die a billion times exploring it and not even cover a fraction of a fraction of a percent of that darkness. A nothing to make the skyscrapers seem miniscule, a nothing to make war seem trite, to make all of mankind's struggles seem worthless, a void to let a man know exactly what he was worth.

And within that nothing, among billions of billions of rocks and billowing, furious nuclear reactions that warmed their surfaces, on one of those lumps of rock, one with a light dusting of life and an even more scarce dusting of civilization, billions of eyes staring out at that void, at that endless black, with wonder and ambition. Billions of pairs of eyes, each relaying images to three pounds of brain. Brains that devised machines to pull metal out of the rock they were living in, brains that planned other machines to send tons of that metal hurtling into that void. Brains that dreamt of what they might find, brains teasing and pulling vast amounts of information from the world around them. Brains that searched, built massive relays to send out signals, watching constantly for a response that might indicate others like them somewhere out there, on another rock somewhere in the middle of nothing. Countless billions who became confused when they found nothing.

This is not a story about those disappointed dreamers.

This story is about one pair of eyes connected to three pounds, four ounces of brain that gazed up at the night sky and the endless black dotted through with stars, countless already dead, their light reaching out through the void to touch those eyes still, one pair of eyes that looked up at the sky and even knowing what that flat black was, even knowing the infinite untouched space behind it, still looked and was unsatisfied. A brain that thought, faced with infinity, "That's it, then?"

And then, after twenty-four seconds of silent contemplation, "Well, we'll just have to fix that, won't we?"

This story is about one pair of eyes connected to two pounds, fourteen ounces of brain that gazed up at the night sky and the endless black dotted through with stars, ancient patterns so ingrained in mankind's memory that out of the thousands visible single stars had been named for thousands of years, a pair of eyes that stared at all those lights and knew fear, a brain that didn't understand why in the world all this effort was

being spent to send people so far beyond where they were ever meant to be.

This story is about one pair of eyes connected to three pounds, one ounce of brain that gazed up at the night sky and the endless black dotted through with stars, stars that had been worshipped as gods, stars that had been misunderstood for thousands of years, eyes that wished for nothing more than to be out amongst that nothing, to see the birth and death of stars, to understand the forces behind them, to understand and recreate everything that the endless void possibly had to offer, to live forever observing, understanding, puzzling and creating, grasping, reaching, clawing at the nothing, learning its invisible secrets, if, only if, with incredible despair, with endless tides of jealousy and yes, hate, if it only had the means to do so.