Part I

Pytheas inclined his head towards the sky, stared up into the darkness that was space, and simultaneously cursed the lights of the city. He could not see the stars. They were drowned out by the brilliance of the city night. Cities never seem to sleep; there was always a light on somewhere, casting it's unholy radiance upon the streets. Pytheas glared at them, wishing that his gaze could snuff them out, but they remained, steady and unchanging. That's what his life was, steady and unchanging. He grimaced, and thne continued on down the street, his head angled back to the ground.

He carefully stepped over the refuse: there was garbage thrown from the top window of a nearby building the day before laying sprawled and rotten across the clear patch of sand; smashed to pieces was a liqour bottle somebody had casually tossed from their passing hov; the shredded remains of some poor soul's clothes were caught upon several of the cacti. Pytheas grimaced at the carnage in this section of town. He didn't like this section of town normally, he certianly would never live here, as all the malcontents made this there home, but it was also the best place to see the stars; it was on most nights.

As he walked he would occasionally glance into the vaults of the heavens and catch a faint glimmer. The moons were hiding behind the clouds or building, he saw neither one of them. A sudden breeze brought a chill to his body, and pulled his overcoat closer to his scaled hide, relishing the warmth it provided. In the day there was no need to wear such vestaments, but at night, it grew too cold for a man to handle, so they bundled up in thermogear. He wondered idly if the tales were true, that his people had not always been this way, that they at one time could have walked out at night without such gear. It was such a ridiculous proposition though, but the mysteries spoke of it. There were ruins about the land that spoke of some other time, but the sands had buried many of them. It was just as well, this world held no life that interested him anyway, he wanted to reach the stars.

Before he knew it, he was nearly at his own home. His wife tolerated his need to see the stars, and often asked him why he just didn't take the hov out of the city. He had a reason, but it was a hard one to explain. The only way to experience the stars was with the presence of technology, for truly they could reach the stars, had and continued to do so, but there was sometihng that prevented him from going as well, even though he had spent his whole life in that one pursuit. His genes. They were perfectly normal, nothing different in them from the majority of the population. That was what was wrong. The only ones who could survive through space travel, or so they claimed, were those born with a genetic anomoly. One in a million were born with it, and Pytheas was among the 999,999 who were normal.

His brother Aramaes had been to the stars, and his brother Aramaes kept coming back younger it seemed. He heard it explained once, something about the speed of light, but he still cursed it. Everytime he saw his brother again, once about every five years, he looked no older than the last they met. Pytheas would be old and dying, and Aramaes would still be fit and trim. Pytheas felt a sif his blood would boil from the cosmic injustice. Still, Aramaes was his brother, and it was not his fault that he was born the way he was. Could he hate him for something that was not his fault? No, he was not that kind of man. Aramaes was his brother, and for that reason alone, he loved him.

He took one last look at the sky, and then entered his home. Of course, the children were long since asleep, but his wife had stayed up, sitting at her drawing table as was her custom, and sketching some figure that he could not make out from the light. Her saurian features flashed by the candlelight emanating from atop her table, her tongue stroking the back of her teeth as she sat, stencil in hand. She turned to him, and her eyes took on a slight glow. "How were the stars tonight, my Pytheas?"

Pytheas sighed, "I couldn't see them, my Lethia."

"Poor Pytheas." she slipped from her perch, her stencil still held in her hand as she approached him. She drapped her arms about the back of his neck, and looked him in the eye. "You look cold."

Pytheas gripped her about the waist, feeling the base of her tail twitch at his touch. "It is very cold out in the night air." He brought his head to rest on her shoulder, just as she rested her head upon his shoulder. "Not as cold as space." He said almost as an afterthought.

"No, not as cold as space." Lethia agreed, patting his back with her hand. He could tell she still held the stencil, it's end poking his hide rather uncomfortably. Yet he did not complain.

"The children asleep?" he asked, though he knew they were.

"Hours ago." Lethia remarked lowering the stencil tot he table finally, and leaning back form him. She stepped out of his embrace, and picked up the parchment, neatly rolling it up before he had a chance to see it. She never let him look at her work. It was her own private world, one in which he did not take part. He did not object to it, just as she did not object to his nightly strolls. Still, he wondered at tiems what it was that she sketching. Just what pictures had she constructed, just what was she trying to create with her nimble hands?

Pytheas smiled. "Shall we turn in then, my Lethia?"

"Yes. Let us sleep, My poor Pytheas." Lethia lowered her head, gazing at him affectionately, proding him slightly on the chin with her brow. He touched her bare hide with his right hand, and then nuzzled her as well. Though he had not seen the stars, he knew tonight was a good night. For there were greater things than stars in his life, and not all dreams could be fulfilled. Life was not meant for self-satisfaction, it was meant for others. He took off his thermoware, slipped into his bed with his wife, and they cuddled together in sleep; their bodies entwined, tail about tail, arm about arm, and muzzle upon muzzle. He heard Lethia sigh contentedly before slipping into the murky waters of sleep.

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