She takes a moment to catch her breath, and take in the view. The curve of the ship is obvious here, trees hanging dizzily overhead, deep silence of growth and running water. She breathes deeply, shinrinyoku, letting the forest fill her lungs, then digs bare feet into shipsoil and continues climbing.

There is a cave at the top formed in the trunk of a massive red cedar. She worms her way inside, scraping blood, hair, skin off on shaggy bark, an offering to the oracle. Wood breathes her in. Once past the gates it opens up. She blinks her lights on. Dry earth and the terminal rising out of it. She runs her fingers over its face.

“Speak, O Pythia,” she tells it. Shipquake. Dirt rains down from cave roof. She lowers her arm. “Speak, O Pythia!”

The ship’s logo—a pair of crossed escherichia coli—appears briefly, then fades. “Speak!” Logo stutters, then resolves. Pythia speaks, vast and intimate, many-voiced, bark to branch. Status report. Thirty years out. Sustain, develop, germinate.

The colony ship sails on.

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