From the light of the sea to the urban sprawl of the desert, there lay endless rolling dunes submerged in deep azure light and tranquility of the star-studded sky, where heaven left its unregarded mark on those in its passing. The sand sparkled beneath the starlight, an impress of being in some other time, far from normality, far-flung from the era of informative mediocrity, where people were mainly not, and only nature was there to witness it. The sea reflected the remnants of a moon above, showering its steel blue glow, and in the lagoons between the dunes, a trail of dust reeled back into its hunk of world—weeks after it was to collide again.
It was an astonishingly deserted world that posed in the outer arm, Scutum-Centaurus of the Milky Way, smeared by sand and wind, ravaged by war and heat, often in cacophony and pandemonium. In an imperious tug of war, there were two wings in opposition to the other’s ideology. Logicians posited their works to a newfound government that placed value at its summit, rightly designated as the Axiocratic Republic. The opposers were empiricists that reputed their Noocratic Democracy, both sought a violent resolve, and how foolish it was that they were one of the same. One was to be dissolved by the other, shortly.
Fixed in the Noocratic domain, the planet New Byzantium was experiencing the arousal of conflict. Mercenaries predicated to extremist democratic impulse sought control over the social body of a quiet polystate barter centrum that rarely underwent uproar. A sea straddled the terrain beside the centrum. Where the stygian sea washed out to a milky margin at the bend of the horizon. A blue penumbra was cast on the slip face of the dunes from the scattering of the starlight and the many moons that hung above.
When the vessel of the Axiocratic soldiers approached the breadth of the world from space, they took upon its beige, against the vast stygian oceans. It boasted its dark, glassy seas and the coupling of its sterile continents. It posed in solitude, destitute against the empty thick of the void. In their sight, the world had become swollen and grew large. The surrogate inside glimpsed beyond the hull, at vessel’s descent, the blackness of space became lighter, and a wall of land became sharper, and the haze of the distance settled.
Inside, the Primary regarded his men with a cold sneer behind his helmet, empty black visors looking at one another in dark, vulgar solitude, silent. They faced the wide-panes, staring out at the overcast of shadows and the grand sum of the vivid blue radiances from above. The aura within the vessel didn’t seem at all stirring of conflict. The only feeling within was of tranquility, warmth, and hope.
When their ship came steadily to the ground, the bay doors unhinged and swung down, and it kicked the sand into the air, and it gently eased back down, and they streamed out on its ramps in silence. They pursued in the direction of their Primary. One foot following the other, hard against the ground, heel edged into the sand; it was merely placid and open.
They continued their trek across the dunal plane arms in hand, ready to be willed against the aggressors, swinging back and forth in their trudge. From the tops of the dunes, they scurried down and took courses around the lagoons to keep from wading, and making a plashing noise, then mount another build of sand. When they came close, picking out the moving figures, they began to take cover.
When the time came, and the command was given, they raised their weapons against the mercenaries, and the terrain soon erupted into an uproar of violence and upheaval. Every dingy, chiseled helmet of a soldier that peaked above the sand drew a volley. A cacophony of conflict and crossfire grew restless, bolts of light were exchanged, abrasive sounds left barrels with abrupt flicks of light. Faces withheld behind their helmet were course and pale, faces open to the wind were gritty. Not every soldier had an expression of fear, but not all of them were courageous either. Some stumbled forward and advanced on command, the cowardly kept to their place behind the dunes, or perhaps they were wise, and the others stupid.
The soldiers’ Primary lumbered forward to his command, and he was not unwise to take moments behind cover, formulating a tactically coherent approach. His mobility kept the soldiers on their toes. There’s no doubt that a time came when he flinched to a close encounter, but his emotions were cold, and he had an unmoving faith in his strategy. His role in time is infamous, but his name remains mostly uncredited. But it cannot be easily forgotten, and it is well-received among his comrades, Lucian Caliginous, the man of light always posed in shadow.
He spoke into his helmet without a stutter or a pressing slur, and a soft, calm transduced voice came across to four soldiers.
“Harman, Conrad, take to their left flank from the east. Fane, Medus, take to their right flank from the west. Drive them back to the foredune.”
Lucian’s whittled boots sloshed in the lagoon. The heat intoxicated those around and beside him without a helmet visor. They were feverish—muck sweat welling from their temples, and foreheads, down the brim of their noses, most of their body was kept cool by their warring attire, and it’s many utilities.
The soldiers wore a hygroscopic, skintight fabric. It was almost constricting, and it had synthetic carbyne muscle-tissue, and wrapped around, was a heavily stonewashed, but impenetrable, nucleohyle cloth. They wore mechanical footwear, and artificial microtubules were crafted into the muscle. They ferried materials, nutrients, and hydration, synchronically, while regulating and administering changes in the temperature, pressure, and moisture within the suit. It was a form of biomimicry imposed by coupling in biomorphic and synthetic materials. A contrivance lens was rooted in their eye, relaying information. A catch-pocket was hinged to the back of their attire for sustenance storage, which was gathered and utilized human-made algae, infused into the suit. They operated as a bioreactor to harvest and accumulate energy for its user. And the fabric corresponded to the color of the sand. The remaining utilities of a soldier are biomorphic ingrafts.
As the volley progressed, keeping to its aggravating thrum, hissing against the wind periodically. The sounds became mesmeric, and Lucian entered a trance. Caught at the volley’s edge, hit with one bolt, he fell backward, his sight dissolving into darkness, laying cold and empty as he slid down the dune’s stoss.