VI. The Herald

The dreams persist. They are old memories, but twisted: battling a Guardian in the Prison of Elders and falling before their Light; Athrys banging on the walls of her sleeping pod, calling for the Great Machine.

She can't sleep. Something in the dreams tells her to travel to Earth's Moon, and she follows the sign.

On the Moon, she fights through corpse-stinking Hive like swarms of flies. Their fetid stench is unbearable, worse than the carcass piles at the prison, worse than the battlefield of Twilight Gap. They eat and breathe death, and she resents their breath upon her, so she cuts through them like so much tall grass.

A Knight stalks her deep into the catacombs, staying on the edge of her hearing, matching her footsteps. She lets it make the first strike, and when it does, she cracks its exoskeleton armor with her Sword. The thrill of the fight—hearing the Knight howl as it meets death—is almost comforting. A reprieve from her unsettling dreams.

She's painted with Hive blood as she continues her advance, and when she finally comes upon the ship, a familiar sight causes her to freeze in her tracks.

She remembers this fleet.

She remembers seeing them in the sky like black arrows. She remembers the space where the Great Machine was, and then the blank space where it wasn't.

It was all a lesson in dependence, one that took many years to learn.

This time, the black arrow speaks to her. She knows it's not Eliksni. It's not one of the clumsy tongues of Earth, nor the lilting speech of the Reef. It is something else: a whisper. But one that is so loud and somehow understood so perfectly.

Stop waiting, it says.

No one is coming for you.

You must be your own salvation.

She feels something in all four of her hands, a tingle, a buzz. It reminds her of the broken Arc spear. She clenches and unclenches her fists, staring at the sleek surface of the ship. There's power here. Power that she can grasp.

But not yet.

A waking dream strikes her like lightning. She's transported. The bleak, gray dust of the Moon falls away, and she stands in a white plain of whipping ice and snow. It blinds her, chases her breath away.

Then she is on the Moon again, and the whispers are silent.

She knows where she must go next.

Vita Brevis

Category: Eliksni


V. The Nightmare

Category: Book: The Once-Shipstealer

VII. The Scribe

The Mountaintop

Category: Battle of Twilight Gap

V. The Nightmare