By the time she was recorporealized, Zoya’s detractors were all dead for generations and forgotten in the sheer volume of the forward thrust of history. Still, the fact that she’d made it was a victory. Witnesses weren’t necessary for her to savor its sweetness.
People lived small lives. They thought more of today than of tomorrow, and only that when they thought not of yesterday. They were previous with thing whose impermanence they couldn’t perceive during their mayfly lives, and so they strove to force stability upon the world. They achieved only stagnation.
Zoya was not precious. She thought of tomorrow’s tomorrow, and the eras beyond. Someday the sun—Sacred Sol—would die, and the Earth along with it should it last even that long. But later still the universe would continue its relentless expansion indeed accelerate. The galaxies would be flung apart until even their cold red glow dimmed into darkness in the vastness of an inflating void.
Should they survive, humanity would be locked in a galactic prison, and the stars would finally become countable in number as their formation ceased and they blinked out forever, one by one.
Zoya would not be permitted to build a stellar engine. Sacred Sol was not to be defiled and moved from its natural orbit around the galactic center. So be it. So she departed from the home system on the furthest journey ever attempted—but not the furthest ever conceived. That longer journey was just now beginning.
Zoya had finally arrived at the galaxy’s core.
Astroengineering scaled to galacto-engineering without much burden.
She’d automated the construction of course. She was only here so that someone may experience it. At least one human should.
The stellar engine moved not a star at all, but Sagittarius A*, the lightless heart of the Milky Way. The jet of the engine blasted away from the black hole’s southern pole, pushing the entire galaxy northward. It was the most awesome force the universe had seen in nearly 14 billion years.
The Milky Way, under Zoya’s guidance, would thread the needle between Andromeda and Triangulum, absorbing them both. And then onward to Pavo-Indus, across the Capricornus Void, and to the unnamed superclusters beyond.
She would gather the stars together against the pull of spacetime itself to keep alight the candle of life, whether anyone else wanted her to or not.