Sunrise on Felore was an unremarkable sight to those who were born on the planet, but to the immigrant Michael Elgrand it was a wonder. In the crisp silence of the dawn, he could clearly hear his every footstep crunching down on the frozen leaves.
But the main reason he went up to Felore’s plateaus was to see the sunrise itself. Elgrand was born on a space station and had lived most of his life outside of a gravity well. His first sunrise had been on a far distant planet, and ever since the Incident, it had become a sort of ritual of his to come up to the highlands of Felore and watch the sunrise. Sunrises, he once mused, were proof that beauty was everywhere, if one just bothered to slow down and look.
Elgrand came to a halt atop a small, bare hill and surveyed the alien landscape around him. The strong gravity was still giving him trouble, but thanks to a rapid bone-thickening drug and various other wonders of technology, the former Spacer was adapting rapidly.
Felore was a terrestrial planet, much like Earth, but colder and farther from its sun. All around Elgrand was a thick forest of crystalline “trees,” covered in opaque, rainbow-colored “leaves.” Most hardly had any movement at all in them, though humans had changed that– more and more of the forests were being harvested for their resources every day. As Elgrand watched, one of the thin, rigid leaves fell and hit the frost-covered ground with a sound not unlike that of a falling stone.
Elgrand removed his respirator and tasted the air. He always did this, every day, though it was technically against regulations. The Felorian germ problems were mostly solved decades ago, as human physicians figured out how to apply Earth medicine to Felorian microbes, but one never knew when a new one would pop up — it happened all the time on old Earth.
Felore’s sun appeared over the horizon, and the alien sky exploded with color, the few off-white clouds in the sky becoming ablaze with yellow and red. Colors that reminded Elgrand, wonderfully and painfully, of the past that was dead and gone.
For several minutes, Elgrand breathed Felore’s thin air, watched Felore’s sun rise, and listened to the silence of Felore’s crystal forests.
A silence that was harshly broken by the sound of his ringing communicator.
“Brilliant,” Elgrand muttered as he took out the device and pressed it to his ear.
The harsh voice of Elgrand’s boss, Mr. Cross, slammed into his eardrum.