This chapter opens one year ago in the Nanavut Territory of Canada. Marina Fraser and her grandfather are hunting seals with their dogs. Marina’s grandfather is shocked when she tells him she’s going to Jupiter.
Back at their home, Marina’s grandfather is furious with her father (the grandfather’s son-in-law) for allowing this. Marina tells him it was her decision, but he would never let her go to such a “terrible place.”
Marina’s father says only the qualified children can save the human race and Marina adds that she won’t be fighting alone, but the grandfather won’t have it. “My daughter wasn’t enough for you, now you’re taking Marina from me!?” The grandfather goes on to call the father an environmental terrorist, since the energy mining company he works for is causing sea ice to disappear, disrupting the Inuit way of life.
Marina yells at them to stop fighting. She has to do this to protect them all in the place where Deus fell. She laments that her family is falling apart and everything her mother loved is being lost. At this, her grandfather crumbles.
Back to present: Marina awakes from her dream of the past. Now on Vimana station in Jupiter orbit. We join Yu Yamato, purchasing ice cream from the convenience store.
He finds Marina and offers her some, but she turns him down. She is reminded of how everyone was forced to see him throw up on camera after their last battle. Yu admits that he also pooped his pants when he fired the Wave-Motion Gun, which left Mifune with a mess to clean up.
Later, Marina has relented and they both eat ice cream. (She’s trying Japanese Sky Ice for the first time.) She asks Yu if he thinks the Seireness are capable of laughing and crying, or if they have family and friends. He comments that either way, they’re still the bad guys.
Marina tells him about the Inuit tradition for settling conflicts. People gather to beat drums and sing until their opponent gives in and laughs. “Like an MC battle,” Yu observes. Marina wishes they could end their battle with Seireness that way.
Elsewhere on Vimana, Mifune brings coffee to Lt. Abbey Yang and Alexei (last seen covertly recovering a sample of Seireness DNA). Abbey points out that personal use of Mifune could get Alexei in trouble, but Alexei explains that Mifune has two levels of AI, which gives him a dual personality, and no amount of tampering can expose him.
Abbey tries the coffee, which Alexei grows in his own garden. But they’re here to talk about more serious matters.
Alexei reveals that the Seireness DNA sample is less than 1% divergent from humans, almost the same as Neanderthals. He posits that they are the same age as Neanderthals, which diverged over 800,000 years ago. He discovered the presence of the FOXP2 gene. “It was the watershed that divided the fate of Neanderthals and humans. In other words, the gene that brought language to humankind. Neanderthals had mutations around the FOXP2 gene.”
“Neanderthals with this mutation couldn’t handle language well. They lost the race for survival to human beings who could hunt more skillfully by exchanging information. And they disappeared from Earth 40,000 years ago.” Alexei explains that Seireness’ FOXP2 gene has a human origin, and “they also have the ASPM gene that humans acquired 5800 years ago.” Abbey is confused about how they could be that closely related to humans, since they’re so big.
“Why haven’t their remains been found?” Alexei asks. “There’s only one possibility I can think of. Seireness will come to be 800,000 years from now. It’s a sapiens that will branch out in the future.”
Abbey is shocked by this revelation; they’re fighting humans from the future. Alexei adds another layer to the mystery when he plays back a secret recording of Carlos Jones commiserating with Cess (in their holographic meeting from chapter 4): “The Fraser ship is down and the Mezidier ship can’t be used. If an intelligence cocoon occurs here, our scenario can’t be carried out. The release of the space-time crystal copy is the last dagger against the future existence of Seireness.”
Abbey is upset that Alexei would surveil their own commander (Carlos Jones), and he says Carlos is associating with “those shady people in Nirvana. They know Seireness is the future of the human race.” Abbey wonders what an “intelligence cocoon” is, and Alexei supposes that it’s a secret weapon we don’t know about.
Wandering alone, Yu Yamato finds Nina Nelson reading a book.
Nina explains that it’s a book titled Endless Universe, a book on cyclic space theory. Yu is confused, so she asks him if he knows what happened at the beginning of space. He correctly cites the Big Bang. “I saw it on YouTube.” She asks how space will end, and he has no idea there will be an end.
Nina offers him three choices: (1) The big bang’s expansion doesn’t stop, and all the stars burn out. (2) Space continues to expand until it breaks like a balloon. (3) Expansion turns into a contraction and closes back down to one point.
Yu chooses answer number 1, and she says all answers are both correct and incorrect. She says the book she’s reading is about answer number 3. “That’s an endless universe, isn’t it?“ Yu asks.
Nina answers: “What if it makes a big bang…again? That is Cyclic space theory. Big crunch and big bounce. The theory is that space repeatedly closes down and bounces back. It’s just a theory. Nobody knows yet what’s really going on. Some people say that if you repeated such a thing, space would be in tatters. But strong evidence has been found to support the cyclic space theory.”
She cites an ancient black hole as evidence, one that seems to be older than the 13.8 billion year old universe they know. It could be from a previous universe, somehow avoiding the big crunch. “According to this book, this is the 49th time for the universe.” This reminds Yu of a game he once played.
Yu explains that he played a game called Kingdom Animalia with a virtual friend. His screen name was “49” since he had played it 49 times. The goal was to build an aquarium, traveling the game world to catch fish. The virtual friend’s screen name was “Nina 7” and they promised each other that they would catch a whale one day. “I wonder what she’s doing now. I think she’s about my age.” Nina is stunned. She starts to explain that SHE was Nina 7…
…but Linne Aegis interrupts them by grabbing Yu’s ears. She chews him out for forgetting that he promised to have lunch with her. Linne invites Nina to come along, but she wants to stay and read.
Linne walks away with Yu and Nina remembers her younger days, when she promised to help “49” catch a whale for their aquarium.
That night, Linne breaks into Yu’s bedroom and climbs into his bunk. He’s dreaming about his mother. “Why won’t you come back…?”
Linne flashes back to a dark memory; Maya Yamato (Yu’s mother) dying in Linne’s lap. “Linne…you were right after all. Sorry…I couldn’t keep my promise.”
A man stands nearby with a pistol in his hand. “Linne Aegis…Seireness will soon be here. Your power is needed…” Linne’s expression sharpens.
TO BE CONTINUED