After quite a few more minutes, hardly knowing why, she eased one leg and then the other over the edge of the bed and pushed herself up carefully, still blinking and rubbing her eyes. The air was humid, with a hint of electricity to it. She was thirsty.

The clock indicated she'd been awakened early, way ahead of schedule. She cleared her throat, took another slow breath, and cleared it again.

"Hleo," she croaked, "Hleo, what's going on?"

"Greetings, my lady!" came the voice out of the speaker. "It's early, I know. I apologize, but there’s something important to show you. If you please, clean up, have something to eat and drink, and then join me in the computer room. At your convenience, of course."

Phooey! Hleo had practically no sense of humor, so his faint effort at a joke probably meant he felt a little guilty about interrupting her sleep. There was no help for it but to get herself into motion, carefully. True, it had been a good while since she'd checked in on her people, but even so, it was hard to imagine what Hleo might have thought important enough to interrupt her sleep schedule. He’d never done that before. What could have changed? Could there be word from home? Very unlikely....

"Look at this!" he announced, when she finally dragged herself into the computer room, stretching and yawning. She still needed to fully revive herself, but there would always be time for that.

In front of her were two screens covered with ovals, lines, and rows of calculations and numbers. She blinked several times--her eyes still weren't focusing properly--and tried to make sense of the displays. What was all that? Try as she might, she could find no meaning there. She swallowed and cleared her throat. "Hleo, this is not about war or environmental changes or anything else I was expecting. It looks like mathematics. Have you been dabbling in astronomy again, Hleo?"

"Yes, I have." He sounded a little defensive. "There’s not much to occupy me all the time you are sleeping. We don't have all the equipment we might wish for scientific endeavors, but I do the best I can. Look at what I've discovered!"

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