Phoenix of Spain

Thirty ships make it away from the cinder-crust of Earth.

The wave of the solar system's slow catastrophe fills their sails for a new land. The same wind fouls communications, washes away any hope or contingency. Astronauts, politicians, engineers, scientists, all tumble into the dark, buoyed in suspension.

The voyage of one, the Catalan ends in a slow orbit around an unremarkable planet. The computer banks carry a trajectory calculated some thousand years gone to suspension (to entropy, to asteroid missions, to the vestiges of long-lost television shows and radio).

Beneath, there are forty tanks. Thirteen have failed: entropy, corrupted data, unforeseen complications.

And now -

Maria stumbles under the strange, alien sky, slow from sleep, and from age. Her tank failed some sixty years gone. Suited, she is a fragile bubble under a thin atmosphere. In the stinking bubble of the Catalan, she is even more fragile: bruises and fractures in the hastily-architected interior are far more dangerous now.

Soon it will not matter. She will trigger the device she carries. Above, the slow disintegration of the Catalan will begin, a rain of light and data as personnel holds separate, descend.

Her thumb moves: activates the device. For a moment she is lost in agony.

But her vision rights, even as her body, even as the reactor, glow like a new sun. She is aware enough for this: lurch of Pyrenees. The taste of sidra on her disintegrating tongue. The spread of coastland, the ephemeral memory of seas-yet-to-be-born sweeping in persuasive nanotech through the crust of the world.

She is the familiar spires of Sagrada Familia reborn. She is birch trees finding rich volcanic soil of faraway. Her mind feathering out into the air itself, she is nothing less, and everything more, than her home.