Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pod and Planet Fiction Contest - 8,000 Suns in New Eden Entry

Dancing to Scripture
By Jeremy Melker (Jilthda Mieyli)

It was morning when Damius Omaristos walked into the office of Superintendent Uri Niminen at the Dam-Torsad School of Theology. Both sides of the room were lined with shelves holding religious scripture and as Damius closed the door behind him, the circulation of air caused a small amount of dust to be removed from each of the books and become visible specks under the shelves’ blue lights. The room had a stall smell that reminded Damius of the never used guest bedroom at his family’s house back on his home planet.
The superintendent sat outlined in a granite colored robe behind a black desk in the back of the room with the blinds closed behind him. His face was pale and he had small black eyes. Wrinkles lined his forehead, “He looks like he could crumble at any second.” thought Damius.
Before looking up at Damius, the superintendent closed a Book of Reclaiming that laid as the focal point on his desk. Damius wore a dark blue robe, the same one his father wore when he went to the Imperial Academy and graduated with honors in Military Science. Damius could feel the Superintendent scrutinize his robe’s worn look as they made their way up to his face. Damius’ face wasn’t much different from the one in the superintendent’s datapad. With the lack of light, his face was smoother, a bit of fat gathered around his cheeks. He also had a lack of scars which was rare for a male from such a militaristic family, but his eyes were a dominate and proud green like so many other military sons had.
            “Damius, do you know why I called you here?” The superintendent’s fingers tapped against his desk.
            “Is this about my father, Sir?” said Damius as he remembered the last time he heard from his father just a few months ago. How his father exclaimed how proud he was of Damius before heading off in conquest for the Amarr Space Navy. When Damius heard of his father’s death by the Jove Empire in the Battle of Vak’Atioth he first thought, “Why must God burden us with the reclaiming of the universe?” Then a few days later, while watching the public execution of the Amarrian men who fled the navy during the onslaught that the Jove brought, he thought, “How lucky for him to die so heroically in the name of God and not godlessly like these heathens who deserted.”
            “Yes, this is about your father,” said the superintendent, “it has been concluded by the Privy Council and the Ministry of War that the Battle of Vak’Atioth was lost by nothing other then incompetency, incompetency by the chain of command and all the commanders who were in the battle. Since your father was a commander that day, that means that he is also at fault for this great loss.”
            Damius clenched his fist, “That is not true. My father was a great commander, he was a decorated commander. How can anyone call him incompetent?”
            “Then how would you explain how we lost the battle? We were claiming the Jove in the name of God. Only incompetence can explain how we lost.” said the superintendent.
            Damius gritted his teeth. He searched through his repertoire of scripture quotes, but he could not find one line to answer this question. The superintendent continued, “This display of incompetency has brought great shame on all the True Amarrian people and since your father is your family as you are your family, that means you must share the blame. This school does not allow anyone of ill repute. As such, we must ask you to leave. You must resign by the end of today, or I will have no choice but to expel you. I suggest that you choose to leave with a little bit of dignity at least.”
            “I have no choice,” thought Damius as he bowed his head and choose the former of the options.
            “Very good, you are a smart one. Remember,” said the superintendent looking above Damius “Only through many hardships is a man stripped to his very foundations and in such a state devoid of distractions is his soul free to soar and in this he is closest to God.”
            “I will remember that.” said Damius as he envisioned the lines as they appeared in the Book of Missions.
            Damius turned around to leave and saw a data ticker above the door that had the last part of the scripture quote the superintendent had just said scrolling off the screen. “This old man can’t even remember scripture without help. And he considers himself a True Amarr, how pathetic.” Damius thought as he walked out of the office, into the main hallway, and out the school’s front doors.
Damius found himself staring down at the streets of Dam-Torsad from the school’s stairs. The school was one of the many gold and white marble buildings that reached up into the heavens to mark Damius with their shadows. Damius looked above to see the inverted bird shape of a pray-drone citing scripture along its path around the city. “Go forth, conquer in my Name, and reclaim that which I have given.” said Damius as he finished up the Book of Reclaiming quote said by the pray-drone as it hummed out of hearing distance.
Damius could hear a few other Amarrians around him mumble the same as he walked down the stairs into the only natural light that was reflected off a golden domed roof two blocks to the east. There were more slaves around him then he ever saw before, many of them carried large enclosed packages. In front of him was a wide black street that looked to stretch on for eternity and, even though he couldn’t see it, Damius could image it ended at a parabola steeping white wall. Billboards jetted out above the street with either the names of the buildings they were attached to, or the images of Amarrian prophets and saints with relevant scripture quotes on them. Damius continued into the shadow of the city naming each one, “Dano Gheniok, Saint Junip, Prophet Kuria”.
Damius stopped naming the prophets and looked behind him to the school that now was indistinguishable from the rest of the buildings that touched it. He continued walking down the street and thought of his situation, “I should have beaten that old man until he could see the outline of Sefrim for what he said. No, I suppose that wouldn’t have been smart of me to do and I am sure God will deal with him when his time comes. I handled the situation as well as I could. But how could I have given up so easily? How stupid of me, I should have tried to talk it out better, maybe try to come to a deal so that I could stay. I have worked so hard, I could have graduated top of my class and now that will no longer be. What do I tell mother back home? Do I tell her? I suppose I have to. I guess there is nothing left for me to do here but to go back home. I haven’t been back home since I got here. How nice it would be to see those wheat fields again.”
Damius continued his thoughts of home. He remembered how his father would lift him up to see above the wheat fields when he was a boy. The sun would shine down on the crops to create angled hashes on the ground. Wind would whistle through the wheat’s husk and make them sway back and forth. He could remember how his mother would sing her favorite quotes from Prophet Anoyia on the front porch and how he would sneeze at the smell of the wheat being harvested by slaves.
Damius was removed from his nostalgia as a man carrying a package and datapad under his arm bumped into Damius’ shoulder. Damius was turned around and saw the back of the man. He was wearing typical Minmatar clothing and had a hood that covered the back of his head. “Watch where you are going!” Damius said, but the man was already out of hearing distance.
“Never have I seen a slave so brash as to walk straight into an Amarrian and not beg forgiveness after.” thought Damius, “These Minmatar slaves seem to grow bolder everyday, a Ealur is much more disciplined. Something should be done to make sure that slave shows more respect in the future.”
Damius looked around him and saw no other Amarrian on the street, instead there were only other slaves around him. Damius could see their eyes, ranging from light brown to gray, glancing at him. Their tanned skin blended into their hand-me-down clothes that were kept in good repair as not to offend their Amarr owners. Damius looked back to see the outline of the slave who bumped him turning left at an intersecting street and thought, “I suppose it really doesn’t really matter.” but Damius began to follow the slave anyways hoping that the slave may lead him to his master and that he could request appropriate measures be taken.
Damius walked to the crossway and looked left to see the slave slipping into a narrow alley way. A fellow Amarrian walked towards Damius, “Obviously a man of not much importance if he is out here at this time of the day.” Damius thought.
 “Excuse me sir,” he said to the Amarrian that was about to pass by, “do you know what is down that alley?”
“How would I know,” said the Amarrian, “probably just scum and slaves living down there.”
“So, slave courters then?” said Damius.
“I already told you I don’t know. I am busy and don’t have time for your trivial questions. Move out of my way.”
 Damius tried to say something back to the man, but the man had already pushed his way past him. “How rude,” thought Damius looking back at the man and then towards the alley, “I guess I will just find out what is down there myself.”
The alley was narrow. Its marble walls seemed to be held together by mold and tapered the farther Damius went down. Every step Damius took made a slight hollow thud against the scuffed brass street. “This place holds no respect to my Amarrian ancestors,” he thought, “one touch and this whole alley, maybe even the whole city, could begin crumbling.”
The path snaked right and left until Damius saw an open area ahead. “Ah,” he thought as he walked closer, “Praise God, I must finally be out.”
In the opening, light flooded down into a circular cul-de-sac from the sun above. Wooden shacks circled the outside and in the center was a small fire where Minmatar men and women gathered. Damius slipped into the shadows of the alley, “There are more Minmatar here then ever should be allowed to gather in one place.” he thought.
The Minmatar men sat on the ground and quietly talked while passing around a datapad and occasionally looking up to the sun. The women danced to an invisible melody while the light illuminated their outlines. Damius couldn’t hear anything, there were no pray-drones or commuters citing scripture and no music. The only sounds Damius could hear were the sounds of tapping against the worn brass ground from the women. Damius looked away from the Minmatar women and back towards the men. The man who bumped into him was sitting next to another man. Damius looked at the man that bumped him, “He isn’t a Minmatar,” he thought as he saw the golden eyes and pale skin of the man, “he is a Gallente.”
The Gallente man passed the package he carried over to the Minmatar man next to him. From the package the man pulled out a couple of multi frequency weapons and passed them to other Minmatar men around him. Damius felt a shiver, “I should get out of here.” he thought as he took one more look at the Minmatar women and began to walk back into the narrowing alley.
Damius made his way back into the main street of Dam-Torsad and started heading in the direction of his apartment. “Face the enemy as a solid wall for faith is your armor and through it, the enemy will find no breach” said a pray-drone above him. Damius chuckled but quickly stopped himself. From the billboards above, the faces of prophets stared coldly upon him. “How agonizing for you to have to hang there all day.” said Damius.
Damius arrived at a familiar crossroad and looked right to see his apartment building. As he walked into the elevator of the building and pressed the thirty first floor’s button, the elevator’s automatic speaker system started up, “Which test reveals more of the soul, the test that man will take to prove his faith, or the test that finds the man who believed his faith already proven?” Damius closed his eyes and found himself envisioning the dancing of Minmatar women in rhythm to the scripture’s syllables. The dinging of the elevator made his eyes open and he walked towards his apartment’s door.
The door opened up to a gray painted room at a swipe of his id card and Damius entered into his apartment. The room was plain with a glass table and chair in the center facing a holographic television set. To the left of the entrance was a plain white tiled kitchen and to the right were two doors that lead to his room and bathroom respectively. Damius closed the blinds in the back of the room before sitting down on the chair.
For what seemed like hours, Damius tried to recall any scripture he could remember, but always the image of the Minmatar women dancing would return to him to dance to the scripture in his head. Eventually those images faded; instead Damius felt the floor beneath him shake and the cries of the apocalypse realized. He opened his eyes in hope of a purified world, but instead he heard the crackling of the city’s speaker system, “This is an automated message, due to recent events we ask that everyone remain a secure building until otherwise notified. Thank you.”
Damius stood up and went to look out of his window. The sun was straight above the city and light shined upon the streets of Dam-Torsad. On the street, hundreds of Minmatar were in revolt. Shadows of non-Amarrian spaceships zoomed across the ground. The Amarr Space Navy was caught off guard by the sudden attack, but they quickly got into position to defend Amarr Prime as a large battleship class ship slowly blocked out the sun. Something inside of Damius escaped as he began to laugh uncontrollable. The prophets on the streets bellow laughed with him as they shook to the resonance of an explosion. “I guess I won’t be going home for a few days.” he thought.

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