Enev wasn’t the least bit interested in the pseudo-religious Pilgrimage, but was even less enthused about making the journey with his parents. Going with his grandfather, Hershel, had been the compromise. Grandpa Hershel had nearly a century on Enev, and the two remained cordial but had little in common—they didn’t even look alike. They spent a lot of their time together in silence.
They sat now in the ship’s great viewing dome with exactly 998 other Pilgrims, awaiting the imminent pinnacle of their lightyears-long trek across occupied space. The stars were aligning.
“Enev,” said Grandpa Hershel, “I need to tell you something.”
“Now? Grandpa, it’s starting.”
“Listen,” he rasped, his voice struggling to rise above a parched whisper. “You father is…your father is not your father.”
There were gasps through the dome. The ancient silhouette of humankind’s first interstellar outpost, Alterna Humana, slid over the nearer star’s perimeter. But Enev wasn’t looking.
“Your mother, too…” Grandpa Hershel sighed. “Submit a blood sample…to the registry…on Neo Busan. Claim…your inheritance.”
The room filled with oohs and ahs as the light shifted suddenly, prompting Enev to look up. The eclipse was in perfect alignment. Rigil Kentaurus was a golden halo behind the smaller white disk of Toliman, with Alterna Humana forming the pupil of this celestial eye.
Enev’s own eyes burned, but his tears were of another kind than his fellow Pilgrims’. He turned back to Grandpa Hershel who was no longer breathing; he had gone with the eclipse.
Enev’s true Pilgrimage was still before him, in the archives of Neo Busan.