Space is loneliness. Far removed from any of the system's planets, it is at once suffocatingly dark and blindingly bright depending on which way you turn. A jumpship sits in a fixed position in the black, engines off, oriented so its underbelly faces the glare of the distant sun.
There is no true cockpit inside the Radiant Accipiter; the ship's canopy projects an image to the pilot. No frame, no obstructions, just the infinite gulf. Crow stares up at the blackness between a cluster of stars he can't identify; he wishes he were there. Where nothing is known, where everything can be new again.
Glint rests in his Guardian's lap. He's accustomed to Crow's hands cradling him as though he were a small cat—but in this moment, Crow's head is instead in his hands, fingers tangled in his hair.
Glint is silent, patient. He knows he has to be.
Crow makes a small sound in the back of his throat and the Ghost stirs. When this is followed by an unsteady hitch in his breathing, Glint floats up, presses himself to Crow's chest, and begins to hum.
Crow's hands close around him, clutching him against his heart.
And that's how Glint knows: Crow is still the same inside.
Sulfurous plumes rise from fissures in the Venusian soil. Crow marches across the planet's surface, his boots crushing thin sheets of calcium that skim across shallow, iridescent pools of water. His jumpship is perched atop a rise nearby, clear of the unstable field he now traverses.
"Crow, please," Glint pleads over his Guardian's shoulder. "Can you tell me why we're here?"