Fingers played over an acoustic guitar and an old, familiar song filled the Avenger’s cockpit as it drifted through the outskirts of the system scientists still called Psi Tauri. The song came from the shores of a hometown lake he hadn’t seen in five years. It had been longer still since he and two girls who’d meant more than life to him had last played it together.

He played the old version with a single acoustic guitar, meant for only the closest of friends to hear, and the music soothed his soul. It was a song that reminded him of sunlight and sand on fresh spring mornings. Memories of relaxing in cool water on midsummer nights flitted through his head. There was singing and dancing around a crackling bonfire under bronze autumn sunsets. They’d been kids living life to the fullest as they rushed to make the most of their youth and enjoy the first flowers of adulthood before winter’s cold set in.

They’d all been innocent in that golden age, living each day with all the energy they had and looking forward to the next one. They’d never noticed the storm fronts on the horizon. They’d missed the thunder rumbling in the distance.


Jack opened his eyes and came out of his fugue state of fusion with the guitar that had become his world. His fingers had stopped moving in response to Betty’s single word, but he remembered every note he’d played. They were dark and foreboding, foretelling pain and suffering to come.

His eyes snapped to Betty as he suddenly understood.

“Someone’s coming.”

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