My dearest Valia,
There is nothing like the heart to create a paradox of space. There are moments when I swear that you are with me, when my heart renders your memory so vibrant that it is as if we have spent no time apart. At other moments I feel as if there is a great void between us, a chasm that will never be bridged.
Shortly after you left my number got called for mandatory service, and I received an offer I could not refuse. If I signed on with the Alliance for ten years, they would provide my schooling, and I would come out certified as an aerospace engineer with solid work experience. I jumped and found myself whisked away before I could renege. That is why it took so long for me to respond to your letters.
My first assignment is building a space defense post at the outskirts of the Savir system. The Solar and Savir systems are on opposite ends of Alliance territory, and it was a two-week journey with four refueling points for the jumpship. I wondered at the opportunity to travel such a distance, but it turns out that there is a rare metal found on Venus that is required for construction.
You did not mention your journey to Attranor in your previous letters. I found jump space very unsettling. I was in my tiny little quarters when the shipped entered our first jump and felt myself falling away as if my molecules were dissipating into nothing. I wonder if we truly know what we are doing when we bend the fabric of space. Perhaps we are doing irreparable damage. I suppose scientists would laugh at my uneducated worries. Still, there is something deeply wrong about jump space and spending an extended amount of time there nearly ripped my mind to shreds.
Our first refueling stop was at a space station orbiting Tulia, and the captain allowed us to disembark while he refueled. We spent a day in the city of Cormiant. Have you an opportunity to meet any Olorelaths? They are amazing creatures with wild, tawny manes, bodies covered in sand-colored fur, and hands that end in jagged protractible claws. They look predatory, and the sight of them sent my heart thundering. I felt as if I was looking at monsters of ancient myth.
When not speaking the common language, their words flow both rough and rolling, and I found myself drawn to the currents of their speech. I wandered the city for hours, spellbound. One could almost believe that they had found themselves in a time before jump engines and aliens in that city. The streets are cobbled together with white stones, and spires rise up on all horizons drawing the eyes to the golden sky. Tulia’s star, Brinia, is much cooler than our sun and so Tulia orbits closer. At noon Brinia is a perfect sphere three or four times the size of the sun and so orange that it is nearly red.
I have a briefing that I must attend, or I would write more, but I promise to write again soon. I bought you a small carving of the Olorelath war god, Maahes, though I have no idea how I will get it to you. My heart yearns for you. It would take more than the darkness of space to make me forget you.