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He had been following those instructions for what felt like his entire life. Meanwhile, she was off exploring the outer rims of known space, discovering new planets and species, and climbing her way up through the ranks of the Narian Scientific Advisory Board. Mikael and his twin sister Maat had all but given up any hope that she would put in a good word for them.

Mikael pushed himself out of his chair and wandered over to the window. He stared at the planet, tracing the main continent with his eyes. He and Maat used to laugh about how much it looked like the scar on Uncle Tarrin’s cheek, squarish and jagged around the edges. The joke had worn thin within five cycles. After fifty cycles, Mikael had stopped thinking about the planet as anything more than statistics. He felt like he was drowning in a sea of numbers, from live birth rates, daily average temperatures and seasonal crop yields, to the migration patterns of the bald yak, an essential food source for human settlements in the northern provinces. Finding plausible correlations in that mess was a never ending struggle. Mikael squeezed his eyes closed, his head spinning. He needed to take a break.

He wandered out of the lab and down the main corridor, dimly lit at this time of night, towards Maat’s holographic recreation room. It wasn't far. Their orbital science station was efficient in design, a single ring surrounding their miniature sun reactor. The engineering bay and ship mainframe were all down in the spire. Maat was responsible for keeping everything running smoothly, but she barely needed to do anything. The ship was smart enough to repair itself, most of the time.

Mikael paused outside the holo-room, taking in the first shafts of sunlight streaking over the edge of Tyria. It reminded him of his first few cycles on this mission. He and Maat had been so excited back then, watching their humans like doting parents. When his mother set up the experiment, she had taught the population to believe that Maat and Mikael were gods. It had been fun, at first, to hear them compose songs in Maat's honor or use Mikael's name as a battle cry before bringing down a mighty beast, but then they had their first great war - a battle over who had the right to use magic. The male magicians rallied together under Mikael's name while the priestesses dedicated themselves to Maat alone. The magicians lost and were driven out into the Desert. Mikael’s name became a curse and from then on, he was referred to the 'Dark God', but he had stopped caring.

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