I actually wrote this a couple of months ago, probably sometime in late summer but I’m not entirely sure when, and then just left it kicking around as a backup story for a slow day. Today is definitively a slow day. Or at least it’s a day where I don’t really want to expend any more energy doing something complex. Thus, rather than leave it drifting around even longer to maybe eventually fiddle with it later, I figure I might as well post this one!
People come from all across the galaxy to explore the relic. Trained and untrained, rich and poor, prepared and clueless, they come, they land, and many of them never leave. They call it a relic, but really, no-one even knows if that’s the appropriate word for it at all.
Seen from several AU away, it looks like a glowing thistledown, ephemeral and fragile. A ship closing in at sublight speeds could watch it grow, slowly, the initially fluffy appearance growing ever more complex. At its furthest extents it’s more than 2 AU across, filling and overspilling a volume of space similar to that enclosed by the orbit of the Earth, and it’s lit all through with the light of the star at its heart. Close up, it begins to look almost fractal, with delicate detail on every scale.
Another ship lands, and more explorers disembark. They come every day, to seek and to study. Some enter the many and varied training programs that have sprung up around the landing sites. Others shoulder their packs, pick up their cases, and begin to walk.
The areas surrounding the landing sites are well-mapped, and even so, now and again an explorer will find a new surprise. But it’s further out that the real finds lie, strange and true. Some have still never been seen by human eyes. Some may be worth vast amounts — but most explorers of the gossamer relic aren’t in it for the money.