Author : Tom Moro

We are the light of life
We are the seeds of salvation
We are the light of life
We are the gateways of creation
We are the light of life

Gene slammed his head against the wall, tears streaming down his small, flushed face. Fear had been pouring through his body for so long that he was crashing into adrenaline exhaustion, shaking, fevered, barely able to move. But he was so close. They wouldn’t win, not now.

The chanting was intensifying as the asteroid neared its destination. In the sightless black, desperately feeling along the wall, the boy was permeated by the deep, dead voices. We are the light of life… The sound had been going on for weeks, so long that his lips unconsciously mouthed the words, his brain too tired to resist. He could not remember sleeping. He could barely remember anything but these endless, dark rooms.

The priests had taken his family to the temple. He could remember that, the confusion of his little sister, his mother’s straight back. They had stayed in the temple, marked as priestesses (whores/slaves) to pay for his father’s sins. The sons though (brothers he had brothers) were taken to the depths, to the rocket chambers. A man with holy hollowed eye sockets had made them kneel and showed them the rockets and told them what an honor this was for the planet, for their family.

They were walking miracles. They would go up into the sky and travel in a great blessed mountain. The mountain would be full of life, seeds and bacteria and humans (blood sacrifice), and it would fall on to a dead world. They would die, crushed and burned, and it would awaken that world for the Great Mother. They were heroes. They would go to Heaven and have ice cream and vids and sex. Miraculous.

They put the heroes in ships and then in repurposed asteroids, and locked them in and played the chanting. We are the seeds of salvation… Gene had sat against a wall for days and peed on himself. There was no food. The boys in the asteroid muttered to each other and lurched around, but slowly, the heroes all grew still. They all began to chant.

Gene liked to read. And the priests might have stuck him in the dark and filled him with chanting, but he still understood things like terraforming and conquest and theocracy and tyranny. Better yet, Gene was a mechanic’s son who liked to read. And they could take away sleep and sight and family, but they couldn’t take away that Gene damn well knew how to stop an engine.

It took him two weeks of crawling and fumbling to understand the vents, to begin to picture how the great engines shoved them through the stars. It took him three more days to find a crippled boy who had a metal walking stick. Another day waiting for that boy to die. And then four to break and break and break everything he could reach.

Two more vents. Two more vents and the engines would automatically shut down to avoid a useless, still-in-space explosion. They would be stranded in orbit until someone fetched them. They would all die, mindlessly chanting, starving. But they wouldn’t die burning on a dead world, sacrificed to spark life in the service of the Great Mother. They would be a failure.

Gene pushed himself up. Two more vents.


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