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Phlegethon II

When the creation of our Witness was first proposed, we argued. As a philosopher, my voice was one of the loudest. Such a profession may seem to you like idle luxury—but we had no lack of resources or time. We desired only purpose, and I was but one of many who sought to find our path forward.

As a people, we may have differed in our methods, but our principles were inviolate. We desired to end the universe's suffering. After many long years of debate, I felt assured that, as our final shape, our Witness would embody our cause. I joined my voice with the others'.

Our Witness broke free of the confines of our minds and bodies. We left our world and followed in the Gardener's wake. We met other spacefarers on our way, but at that time we were fixated on finding the Gardener. For a long time, the hum of the universe was our only permanent company.

The Eurhythmia received us with open arms. A generosity few species before them had shown. They offered us Light-woven supplies and sang with voices that resonated through the Darkness. They shared what they had and asked for nothing. They were still smiling when they showed us the source of their prosperity.

At that time, we were naïve. We yet believed that we alone had been blessed by the Gardener. That we had been chosen.

When the haze cleared, the Gardener had fled once more. Its works laid in ruins. The home we had been invited into was so much rubble.

And we, our Witness, stood poised over the last of the Eurhythmia.

I remember how they looked at us. Not with rage or hate or bitterness. Their smile, peaceful and accepting. The last notes of their song embracing us even in their death throes.

In the chorus of our Witness, my whisper was almost lost. But such is the nature of our Witness, that even the quietest voice may be heard by all.

(What have we done?)

(—-The Gardener's corruption has suffused this place. It must be purged.—-)


(—-What was necessary.—-)

(We are the liberation from chaos! The relief from pain! The end of suffering! What we have done is—is—)


Necessary! NECESSARY! This needless violence, this sick hateful jealousy—necessary! I screamed and raged until our Witness cut me free.

Our Witness is deaf to my fury. To us, I am a temporary defect; a minor imperfection created by an unsteady hand wielding tools for the first time.

I may be a mistake, but so is our Witness. I feel the destruction we have wrought as an open wound. It cannot heal. It will never heal. In our pursuit of the end of the suffering, we have become its harbinger. Millions of voices silenced forever. A thousand worlds in ashes. The multitudinous seas incarnadine. Our final shape is built atop a mountain of corpses.

Destroy our Witness. End our madness.

Phlegethon I

Category: Book: The Rubicon