If you take yourself seriously, nobody else will.
- by Vellekla
I used to think about it all the time when I was young.
What was out really out there, beyond the impossible tapestry of stars suspended in the night sky. I thought would never know, forever on the inside looking out. The knowledge pained and comforted me.
Distilling the needed chemicals was a complicated and dangerous process. It took time and patience. I had ample amounts of both.
One day, impossibly, I found out. We all did. The gods had found us, or so we thought. Gods encased in silver and black metal, descending from the heavens to see and to speak to us! We quickly found that they were not gods, but demons barely held at bay.
These capsuleers, as they were called, were gods in a box. Controlling the galaxy in their terrifying constructs, their bodies atrophied and suspended within. They were entombed and unbridled all at once. Free to move in ways undreamed of, but not moving at all.
The crystals were beautiful. I was reminded of how the stones shown in my mothers necklace. Like so many others, she was dead now. I had not thought of the necklace in what felt like lifetimes. I wanted to close my eyes and cry, but my work would not permit it. I slowly ground the crystals into the consistency of sand.
While they roamed the galaxy inflicting suffering on each other, we found that we would be safe. CONCORD, the eternal enforcers of order, kept us safe. Keeping our way of life and our world intact. Or so we thought.
I would be searched, but it would be cursory. The second part of the reagent was easy enough to smuggle under a fingernail, just a trace amount would do it.
Then these celestial guardians left as swiftly as they came, CONCORD abandoning us to out fate. The capsuleers came swiftly, employing their minions and using their might to threaten and cow us. Without mercy, they began sucking the marrow from our world.
I mixed the sandy substance I had created with a silicone gel I had managed to procure, mixed with an anesthetic. Even so, the pain would be excruciating. I didn’t care.
Still, out world suffered less than most. The capsuleers would not come themselves to oversee the rape our planet. There was something about the atmosphere I heard. Some combination of ions and magnetic fields that scared them – scared the gods. I was told that if one of them died here it would be the true death. Death without resurrection.
I stifled a scream as the needle plunged into my abdomen. I could see my muscles begin to smooth out, and then fatten as the coarse and viscous substance flowed into me. I could not attract any attention, so I had to move the needle around to keep the topography around my stomach and waist consistent. I used a dermal regenerator to seal the wounds as I went along.
I didn’t know what do to when it all began. I wanted to fight, but who could fight against such might? Those that did so fell quickly, including all of my family saving only me. I had to do something. I decided that I was going to turn in on myself, and create a vile chimera of the man I once was. I would assist them in the slow destruction of our world, to the best of my ability.
The chemicals I had injected into my body would spread out and kill me in a matter of hours. It would be enough time.
At first, I was viewed suspiciously. They needed help badly, but were slow to trust. I proved my loyalty and worked my way up. I told them I wanted to help them do this to other worlds, and that I worshiped them as gods. This pleased them greatly. I inflicted great pains on my own people to squeeze more and more from the land and the sea. I was rewarded for my cruelty and for my devotion. I instituted a compulsory religion heralding them as deities. In a few years, I became one of the most trusted and powerful people on the planet.
I stood in the shower, warm water mixing with my tears. I looked back into my memories. I could still see my brothers and my parents. I thought about how I had worked so hard and so very long. I did it for them, for all that they stood for. For my planet. For my people. The price had been my soul, a price I had willingly paid. I stepped out and dressed in my finest uniform, with its flowing ribbons and medals and assorted false pageantry. I slicked my hair back and hardened my expression. This would be the last time I would have to wear the mask.
Over time, the populace because subdued. The planet was producing, but not nearly enough. Greed overcoming caution, the capsuleers were coming down to visit personally. We had a metal they needed for their war effort, and they needed more of it. Not one, but three of the gods were coming, each representing a member of an alliance they had formed. They would be meeting the small group of people that ran the planet to discuss how we could increase production. It was an important matter.
I took the nail file and cleaned my nails. One was filed especially sharp, with a small jagged point. A small amount of a special chemical was smeared underneath it. As my eyes swept the room for the last time, and I opened the door and walked out to see my security detail. As one of the most reviled beings on the planet, I needed their protection, and they needed to keep their families alive.
We would be meeting them at night. Far from pomp and circumstance, they wanted to keep the meeting quiet. They still feared the true death. I arrived, and was patted down. The sergeant withdrew the body scanner from his belt, and I gave him a withering stare. He waved me through. The others had arrived, and I could not be kept waiting.
The room was large. Three small pods stood at the top of the altar that had been hastily constructed, the meeting spot kept a secret until the end. As we sat down, a small light came out of the pods, and we saw projections of what could have been our own kind before us. They looked on quietly.
Before anyone spoke, I knelt down before them.
“O true gods. O gods of gods, grant me a boon. Let me gaze upon your wonder. Let me see you as you truly are. I beseech thee.”
The room was quiet. I felt numb with purpose. I felt outside myself, watching what was happening.
I had to know.
A hollow metallic sound reverberated of the wall. “You have pleased us greater than any other. We grant your request. Come forward.”
As I walked up the steps, a small window opened and green light flooded out. I looked in. As my eyes adjusted, I saw what looked like a fetus, except larger in size. Wires protruded from the form, and soft lidless eyes stayed blankly out. I was looking at a perversion, a devolution of nature. These beings had surrendered themselves to technology. They has becomes its slave, as they had made us slaves. They could not taste foods, have sex, or ever feel the grass under their feet. They were a grotesque mockery of life.
I stood up, and turned around. Their holograms slowly turned toward me.
“You are not gods,” I said calmly. “You are nothing. You will take and destroy until there is nothing left. In the end, you will turn inward and find nothing there.”
“You are fortunate though. You will not be there.” The holograms wavered and a noise rose behind me. I raised my hand, forming a claw. I gritted my teeth and tore at my stomach. As it bit true, I looked up and saw the face of my mother smiling at me.
Somewhere above out plant, if anyone was looking down, they would have seen a small while light appear.
Just like the stars I used to think about all the time when I was young.