Eventually, on that day, I found Lily on the roof of the lab, staring off. It was one of the few places in Dome 6 where grass grew, and there was a clear view of the vast Field beyond.
I never liked the scent of grass -- it smelled how tea tasted, and I was never one for the earthy flavor. You could go so far to say I hated it. But there he was, and I was right there with him.
I spoke first. "Head Lily," I said.
"My name." He turned to me, ethereal eyes cold as ever. "Nicholas."
I was shaken. It had never occured to me that for as much as we had spoken, we had never exchanged names. I thought to tell him mine, but held my tongue as he continued to speak.
"Have you read The Dreams of Astral Men?" I shook my head. "It's about a man named Nick who traverses the galaxy on the back of a Model horse.
It's only a decent read, really, but my mother adored it. I was named for the protagonist." His bitter smile appeared. "The novel ends with Nick being thrown off the horse and into the vacuum.
" He looked at me. "What do you think of that?"
For a moment, I considered what he might want to hear. Upon drawing a blank, I asked, "Why did the Model throw him off?"
"Excellent question. It is never clearly explained by the author."
"Then I should think it a poor ending."
All at once, Lily's eyes lit up. "Isn't it?"
"The subtext would suggest the Model found sentience in Nick's stories," he said. "It's a foolish notion."
I nodded once more.
"I presume you found me for a reason?"
"Yes," I said. "Ash and East and I are awaiting your instruction."
"Are you now?"
Lily glanced back at the Field once more, then walked briskly past me.