“They do not know how hate can burn in hearts once changed from soft to stern. Studying this planet’s ocean, I tend to encounter my own deep-down wells.”
The Taoist walks the streets of a ruined city. He reflects on the company of rebels, the empire, and his ability to control destiny. Except, of course, he wouldn’t want to.
“I induce a sense of disbelief, I deduce the inclinations of the stars. From the angle of this shadow, I can calculate the multi-verse’s circumference. The ecology student was a student of mine, and now he is someone else’s. We are a company of such Panglossery. Anguish, prayer, the lord of Love. We fight for nothing. Not fate. You, my love, were there. And now you are not.”
He talks to himself, muttering under his breath. The strange undergrowth of the grassland they are traversing is mutating into a marsh, but his thoughts are locked onto the ocean. He has strayed far off from earshot, blind to the needs of others.
“The desecration of tombs, all the novelty of the multi-verse technology logged onto your hands, the screaming advertisement, drunk teenagers wave-split their minds open, alcohol in hand, the dead rising. I have seen their desperation at dusk, cursed with the shining of enjoying every moment, seeking the True Romance, unaware of the zombie landscape of unworkers and slaves assorted. Past Karma lingers, history burdens. But this place has no history, so I carry all history in my entrails, hidden massacres and all. In the last days of Troy, the sun was brightest.”
Blue eyes in the marsh weird him out, and he cowers. There comes a little creature ambling forth, unearthly and especially creepy.
My name is “Wyrd”, it says. An alienating silence. Eyes of reptile, body amphibian, perfect speech. Head disproportionate, hand-like paws with numerous fingers, twitching.
The Taoist feels at ease: he commands attention, at last. God, breathlessness. “I wonder where the others are”, he stumbles forth, unsure of his fate. In days archaic, a person’s destiny was a noun. Now it is just a label. Now is the future; little old creature creeps out of the marshes and lets forth tremendous wit, and the Taoist is charmed. What a conversation; though you shan’t hear it. The Taoist indulges in past memories, and the creature cozies up to him, cat-like and lizard-averse. The days of amphibians are yet to come.
Meanwhile, separated from nobody’s spiritual leader, the other rebels are enduring the marshes, on an unknown planet, in a hostile multi-verse. A multi-screen would come in handy, but those are controlled by the empire.
Without a sense of direction, the scientific and the mythical have merged. The Joyride is so far removed from this place. The reed rotting, the water-lapping papyrus, an alkaline flood. Salinity unchanged, aerenchyma breathing, the rhizosphere as anaerobic as their minds. Air-filled cavities dictate their thinking, adventurous though they may have been, their spiritual effort now is seeking alternative electron acceptors.
Kyniska forgets her love, Arion forgets his anger. Xin forgets his new identity, the man of rubbish forgets his tolerance. Europa is no longer a goddess, the engineer is no longer thinking, the soldier is no longer cursing. The student finds himself buoyant, quite the botanist he is. He understand that the manganese precipitates are affecting their minds, and the low oxygen is stimulating their eventual enlightenment.