Prologue of Wings of Creation
It took Chelo nearly two weeks to tell the tale which we published in one collected stream as Reading the Wind. This story, Wings of Creation, is composed of Chelo’s tale, her brother Jospeh’s tale, and also of Alicia’s tale. This is where Chelo picked up the story effective September 17th, 222.
War leaves fear and loss worse than bitterlace in the hearts of everyone associated with it. There are no winners. Only scars, and for the lucky, the time to heal them. We were not lucky.
The first tale I told you detailed how I separated from my brother Joseph and three of the other six people that made up my heart. The second tells of the events before an even bigger sundering, after Joseph came back. He saved my life, and the life of my world, the colony planet Fremont. He won the second war fought on her soil. Not singlehandedly, but he made the difference.
Joseph almost died. My children almost died. Some parts of me died.
So now I’ll tell you about war, since my life is built on its bones. Then I’ll tell you about the actual sundering, since you asked how I felt when we left Fremont for the Five Worlds. But since it’s an old memory, I’m going to creep up on it so I can tell it fresh.
I was born during the first war of my life. That happened on Fremont, a planet big enough and empty enough and challenging enough that everyone involved could have lived there in peace. That war cost me my parents and many who might have been my friends, all gone, fleeing or killed by the first settlers, who refused to give up their claim. And who could blame them? They were, after all, on Fremont first. They went there to escape people like my parents. They lived through paw cats and yellow snakes and earthquakes and meteors rather than face a world of shifting genetics.
At the end of the war, my parent’s people had to leave seven of us behind: six children and an injured adult. The colony raised us, but made us pay for being different.
So you see, even before the Star Mercenaries came, I knew the sharp pain of war. We were beginning to lose our scars when my own father caused the second war. He sent mercenaries from Islas to kill everyone on Fremont. I cannot feel guilty for that, since he and I were separated when I was six. I didn’t even see him, or know he lived, until the day he died. But I feel tainted anyway. How could I not? You see, my decisions helped further the war he started from the first day the mercenaries landed among us. I chose the first deaths. I helped until the day the Star Mercenaries fled my brother’s strength, leaving Fremont free. That’s a story I’ve already told, and it hurts to think about it.
So on to the sundering.
I remember how my body felt trapped. I lay strapped to an unfamiliar chair aboard the spaceship Creator, watching the only home I’d ever known grown small in a viewscreen that hung above my head. Already the people I loved were too far away to see; their absence a sharp twintree fruit thorn thrust deep into my heart.
Akashi, Sasha, Maya, Sky. The hot breath of my riding animal, the hebra named Stripes. The dead: Nava and Stile and Eric and a few hundred more. They might as well all be dead now, at least to me. I had no illusions I would see any of them again.
Fremont was warm, wet, and wild. The space ship, Creator, was cold, dry, and followed my brother’s commands like a well-trained house-dog. Far more metal than life filled the hull.
Kayleen and her mother, Paloma, watched over the two children. For the take-off, they occupied our new, tiny, home – a section of sleeping compartments that shared a common room, which included four ugly benches that could each be turned into something full of restraints and support that Joseph called acceleration chairs.
Liam and I lay strapped into similar chairs in a different set of rooms, unblinking eyes fastened to the last sight we would ever have of home. We were close enough I felt his warmth as we watched the single city, Artistos, grow so small that the view included the cliffs and the Grass Plains and the Lace River and the High Road and then even the volcano Blaze. The force of flight kept me from turning my head, so surely Liam didn’t see that a tear fell unbidden down my cheek. Even though the people of Fremont had hated us, how could they live without us to help them? Who would stop the paw cats and tend the electronics?
My own family had cast me out. I could never know how their tales ended, and they could not know how mine ended.
My eyes stuck to the viewscreen until Fremont was only a speck around a sun and the thrust had fallen off enough for Liam and I to look at each other. He was beautiful, with honey-colored hair that fell around his broad shoulders, and his face in profile now, showing his high cheekbones. “Is it safe?” I asked.
“To get up? I guess.”
My brother, the pilot, had told us we could move around when we were no longer forced down by acceleration. Joseph had warned me, so I didn’t stumble when I felt too light. I clutched Liam for balance, and he pulled near too easily, as if I were drawing a child to my chest. A reminder a ship is not a planet. At least he still smelled like himself, and still, faintly, of the Grass Plains and of hebra. For that smell, I clutched him to me, breathing deeply while I massaged the stiff muscles in the small of his back. He leaned down and kissed me, and then we stared at each other for a long time, as if breaking away would be the final movement away from home.
But of course, we eventually slid from each other’s arms. There were no words for our loss. It was as great as the gulf between us and home, widening into forever.
Thirst and hunger drove us to the nearby galley for bread and goat’s milk cheese and water. After, I returned to the viewing room and Liam went to check on the others. By the time I sat back down and focused on the screen, we must have turned or gone further than I thought, I couldn’t find Fremont in the vast starfield. Just darkness and points of light that were whole suns.
So many stars. It made Fremont so small. Me so small.
Joseph had warned me of the vastness of space and how Creator would be a small speck of dust travelling between grains of sand on a beach of stars.
I had been made to find the positive, to see opportunity in difficulty, to lead through hope. And what better place to feel the hope of worlds than the incredible beauty of space? I had expected to live and die on a single grain of sand. And now, now I was going off to a new future in a faraway place.
This is the loss and awe that frames this part of our story, writ large: leaving everything we knew behind, and moving through the vastness of space with our tiny, fragile family. We didn’t yet know we flew toward beings more beautiful and complicated than I’d ever imagined, and so my worries were diffuse. Under the awe that filled my very bones, I knew there would be humans in space, and thus, there would be war.
I swallowed and saluted the viewscreen, then got up and went to find my family. Among humans, there would also be love. This moment was good for love.
stream created July 23rd, 229.