This is an idea I had for a scene in a novel I'm writing. It may appear in the book in this form, a different form, or not at all. Tell me what you think.




“Pal, take us to one gravity, please. Keep us there until I say so.”

“You got it, Seb. One g coming up.”

The pitch of the engines changed slightly as the
Milton adjusted its acceleration. Becky stared at Sebastian, presenting an inquisitive eyebrow despite the grav-strain writ clear across her face.

“Will you be alright, girl?” She nodded.

They were sitting cross-legged on the floor in the training room, a wide, low bowl between them. Once the acceleration had steadied out, Sebastian proceeded to fill the bowl with water. They then waited until the water calmed and became still.

Both were silent for a while until Sebastian finally spoke.
“Tell me what you see.”


“Look into the water, and tell me what you see.”

Becky looked at the bowl. It was just a metal bowl. She looked back up at Sebastian, but he remained expressionless. She stood up, looking down at the water, trying to see what she was supposed to see. The metal of the bowl was polished to a mirror sheen, and she saw a reflection of herself. “I see myself. My reflection.”

“Exactly. That is what the Aether is- a reflection of our world, always present, always looking back at us. And if our world was as flat and calm as the water, that’s all it would ever be. But it’s not.”

Sebastian reached into a pocket and pulled out a handful of nuts, bolts, and screws. He tossed one into the bowl with a splash, ripples spreading out from the impact. “Sadness.” Splash. “Joy.” Splash. “Hate. Love. Anger. Lust. Pride. Ambition. Compassion. Greed. War. Hunger. Suffering.” Each word, punctuated by a splash, was pronounced with all the gravity of a doom. “Now what do you see?”

Becky stared down at the water, at the reflection now altered by the overlapping ripples. It was different, twisted, almost...demonic. Her eyes widened.

Sebastian saw the realization hit her. “That is what it is. That is what we fight. All of humanity’s emotions, all our best traits, and flaws, reflected back at us. It is a place without balance, without rules or restraint. It is us. We create it, we feed it, and it wants nothing more than to give us what we seem to want. And believe me, what we want would kill us. As long as a single living being exists, so will it. That is why this war can never be won. It can only be fought.”