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Section 1 MISSING

Section 2

I started working on weapons around the same time Telemon and I used to meet at Mollin's cafe. Our academy days were behind us, but we were still friends. We'd lunch high over the Redu delta, watching a thousand small brown bodies navigating the water channels in their gondolas, and like a mirror image, the river of skyships above. When he arrived, Telemon always looked out and said "We are god, and these are my people", then we would both laugh.

I remember the spectacular glass floor, and the otherworldy cuisine. At night, they held dances, and the skyships and boats were like candles all around. Molin used to come out and greet us, and he was especially fond of Telemon. They remain firm friends to this day, each so driven by their art, that life and family were left behind. Molin was old then, so is ancient now, Telemon's private chef and casual advisor.

The cafe's still up there, but I haven't been back. I won't watch the delta fold into the earth from up in the city. I prefer to be down here, amoung our Foundations, so when the big one comes I can be the first to go. We are far from god now, if ever were near.


Section 3

Telemon was a junior of the Assembly back then, but an idealist, and I thought it would take him far. I was his oldest friend, and he expected to make few others, in politics at least, saying his best chance was to thin out his enemies until he could pick off the few that were left. Even so, I think I misjudged how ruthless he could be.

We both used to sit there at Molin's, drinking vittles, committing heresy. It isn't on to brag in Sabor, you know, but we slipped our advancements and successes under out napkins like spies. Telemon was interested when I told him more about the weapons. At the time they were prototypes, abstracts. I said I was worried about how much Atlas they would use. Telemon agreed it was a risk, after all, the Atlas states had voted against them, two centuries before.

Maviana helps me by winding the torch. The whirr, then the light faded up, until it is bright enough to reflect in the water below. She attaches the torch to the rope on the pulley, and the beam steadies. We see that more rock has fallen, and made islands in the pool like gritty porridge. There is a dull greening - little pinheads of light from the Atlas. We begin our descent.

My family tell me I'm old enough for the rising place now, but I won't go. Damn them for suggesting it! I've not done enough to join an Aetherium - if one exists. I'm as mortal as they come, and much the better for it.

The best I can hope for, is that when my time comes, I can learn to forgive myself. Thirty years ago I helped build those weapons and wheeled them in frot of the Redusa assembly. I was just doing my bit, I was helping begin our end.


Section 4 MISSING

Section 5 MISSING

Section 6

We all knew things were changing, and when it was proposed at the Assembly, the question of our duty to preserve was choked. I remember when we lived in harmony with the land, when we lived in harmony with its caretakers, the Pilipai. That was a golden age, but ages pass, busts on pedestals come toppling down.

The delta is drained, the animal bodies litter the empty runnels where water once gushed. That is not perfection. We cannot simply ascend into the clouds, up and up. Telemon says gods are "unbound from the chains of the earth'. Yet there are chains aplenty - long lines of chains that bind the men, women and children of Darat to the mines, day and night scratching for stone, with nothing to look forward to but an early death.

Back then, I was so angry, I went to see him in person at the Committee office. I remember the skyship dropping down between the glimmering masts of the Stalk, and that I couldn't wait to get at his throat. I stormed in, bust the white door wide open, and Telemon just laughed.

"It's done now, isn't it?" he said.

"It is slavery Telemon!"

"We must preserve the cities. Nothing else matters."


Section 7

Much of my rage faded at that moment, and sadness slopped in. All the time I had spend with Telemon felt wasted, and our friendship failed. The man was grotesque, his godhands brutal, his propaganda copius. Then I reflected on what I had done. For the first time I felt responsible. War would come, and my weapons would take lives.

So it has come to pass - war with the Unity, and every day the ground shakes. We citizens are so naive: we've never seen military operations, we've no notion of the killing, and yet we take personal credit for each report of victory. What teaches us? It is the parades of Essedari, the precision ceremonial drills. The spoils of war triumphantly draped from our ships, the women and men of the Assembly stooping through the garlands, and fighting puffs of confetti. Presentations by eager children to the girm-faces servicemen who've come back heroes. It is even the pageant celebrating the ascent of those that never came back that feeds our ego.


Section 8 MISSING

Section 9

Telemon just spoke over the radio. He said war was inevitable, and that Sabor must be preserved.

"...We are the envy of the world, we cannot fall...the Saborian way, is the only way. We are gods."

The assembly, strongarmed by Bulgus and his godhands, will agree, and the war will go on. Bulgus is vindicated now Kioki have rejected peace, and he has Telemon's full support.

The dream of how things once were clings to us like film. We will not relinquish the past if we still think we live in it. I hope somewhere inside Telemon is hurting, and that I have made him hurt. I look at Maviana and she looks back at me. She's afraid. I'm afraid. We carry on winching the reels up to Endrus.


Section 10 MISSING

Section 11 MISSING

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