Gregorian chants of Believer choirs echoed throughout the streets as Sister Miriam strolled through the cobblestone walkways of her capital city. The Believer capital didn't possess the glitz and glamour of Morgan Industries, neither did it have the eclecticism of La's U.N. HQ. Nor did it spout the technological wizardry that was University Base. Even the perpetually shrouded Hive capital couldn't compare to New Jerusalem…at least that was what Sister Miriam assumed.
The capital itself possessed a certain something that the other factions lacked. Whether it was the somber atmosphere, the veiled religious fanaticism, or the sanctity and aura of a holy site, no one could really place New Jerusalem’s unique atmosphere. The other faction leaders that had the benefit of visiting New Jerusalem spoke of a feeling they couldn’t describe when they treaded on "the Lord's soil", as Miriam Godwinson was known to say. When the first stones were set at the founding of her capital, Godwinson made sure that the land itself was blessed with holy water. Even the bricks themselves were initially blessed.
The Believer leader grasped her cross-necklace and whispered a brief prayer to the Lord as she headed toward the communications sanctum.
Dawn of Planet
Prophet Cha Dawn stepped out of the bathing pool and approached his fellow Cultists who held his ceremonious robes. The room itself was built next to a stream so constant water flowed through the bathing pool. The Prophet's capital city itself sat on a low hill surrounded by a sea of fungus. Former Gaian malcontents found the boy in a field of fungus, claiming that he was their saviour…their new Messiah.
One of the Cultists stepped forward to dry off the Prophet with a towel while another Cultist applied a homemade cream to the Prophet's skin. Cha Dawn looked forward with indifference. As far as he knew, he WAS the voice of Planet…it’s guiding hand meant to sweep the plague from its surface.
"Your Grace, your meeting begins at 10 AM, Planet Standard Time." A Cultist stated, prostrated in front of the boy-prophet.
Dawn sighed. "Very well, I still have time to meditate and commune with Planet before the meeting," the boy said in his prepubescent voice. "Take me to my spot so I may listen to the Will of Planet."
The Cultists surrounding him placed him in his miniature carrier and headed toward his meditation spot.
Miriam dipped her hands in the bowl of holy water and spoke the Believer prayer of blessing as she entered the communication sanctum. The CommSanc, as it was referred to by the more tech-savvy Believers, had the same design as every Believer government building. The holy water for personal blessing near the front door, the cross of the Lord in the foyer, and the stained glass window above the entrance depicting ancient scenes from Earth Saints as well as the ordeals the Believer faction went through during their time on Chiron.
Sister Miriam pulled back the hood of her dark blue robe and entered into the main hub of the building. The clattering of machines that would be considered ancient by University standards filled the air. Whirring noises intermingled with voices of Believer technicians cross-analyzing data gathered. Miriam smiled faintly as she rounded the various control panels to the main display screen. Lals shipment of her updated communications interface still hadn't arrived…she would have to speak with Lal later about that.
A fellow Believer approached her and bowed. The man spread his arms open but kept his head bowed in deference.
"May the Lord bless you, Sister Miriam." The man whispered.
"May the Lord bless you as well, Brother Arnold." Miriam nodded.
"Sister Miriam," Brother Arnold began, "We have a few minutes to review your statements if you like."
Miriam shook her head in disgust. "There is no need. I know exactly what I will tell HIM."
Brother Arnold bowed in acceptance, "Very good Sister. May the Lord protect you and guide you in this task." Brother Arnold then left to attend to other duties left unfulfilled.
Miriam sat down in front of the outdated viewscreen and waited for the commlink to be connected.
Prophet Dawn brushed off his robes as he ended his meditations with Planet with a simple bow toward the horizon. Dawn adjusted his ceremonious hat and strolled back toward the small group of cultists that waited for his return.
"Take me to the communications array. Planet’s wisdom has shown me the way…"
. . . . .
The small group of robed cultists carried their Messiah through their capital city fairly quickly. The Planet Cult made sure that any pathways in their city weaved around native plants declared "sacred", the end result being hundreds of walkways and cross-sections that weaved and bobbed in no particular or orderly pattern. The stream that fed water to Cha Dawns bathing pool criss-crossed the city in a lazy, meandering way. Fungal tubules lined the paths in decorative fashions.
Unfortunately, the disorderly roads within the city meant traveling from one area to another took much longer than a straight path would have been. Cha Dawn didn't mind that it took a little longer to reach his destination if it meant preserving the life of Planets organisms. Their careful tending of Planet created a bond that not even the Prophet fully understood.
Dawn's daydreaming was interrupted by the sudden stop of his palanquin. He had arrived.
Sister Miriam rubbed her cross-necklace and whispered the Lords prayer to herself as she waited for the heretic to contact her. She knew that it was her bound duty to try and make the heathen see the error of his ways…that their only salvation was through the worship of the Lord.
Miriam had been waiting for almost twenty-minutes when the commscreen came to life. A Believer technician's face filled the screen, breaking Godwinson's concentration in mid-prayer…
"Forgive me, your worshipfulness. But we are receiving a communiqué from the Cult of Planet. They are requesting to speak with you. Shall I patch them through for you?"
Sister Miriam quickly finished her prayer and replied.
"Yes, send it through. The Lord's Will must be done."
The image of Cha Dawn immediately swirled to life on the viewscreen. The boy-prophets orangey-yellow skin was almost sickly to Godwinson; A blasphemy and violation of the Lord if she ever saw one. The slow boiling heat in her chest made her realize that her anger was slowly coming to the surface.
"Greetings, Sister Miriam. I am Prophet Cha Dawn. May Planet's Will be Done."
"I am Sister Miriam. May the LORD guide us in these troubling times."
She noticed that her implied emphasis on the Almighty did not sit well with the heretic. A small grimace and flash of annoyance crossed the boys face for an instant. The boy is no Chairman Yang, Godwinson thought.
"Why have you requested to speak with me, Sister?" Cha Dawn immediately barked out with annoyance.
"I believe you already know the answer to that, my boy. Your worship of this Planet as a god is heretical; You and your followers live in such despicable sin that only by embracing our Lord can you find salvation."
Dawn immediately went on the offensive. "No, it is YOUR followers that live in ignorance of something greater than your god. Planet is the true saviour of our peoples and I will lead us to it!"
Miriam couldn’t stand hearing blasphemy any longer…
"How DARE you! You are nothing but a stupid child! You know NOTHING about the grace of God! You are wicked, Cha Dawn. Your followers are wicked. And you are all sinners who are nothing more than tools of the Devil himself! Your paganistic ways must be stopped before you unleash the Great Beast upon us all!"
"Planet sees past your religious dogma! The Believers worship an entity that does not exist! How dare you call me a sinner, Miriam, when YOU are the heretic! You walk upon the surface of a god, destroy his creations and burn his lifeforms because you are blinded by your false faith! I will guide humanity and teach them to respect Planetlife! I will be the one to lead us to salvation." The boy-prophet shouted, slamming his small fists on the console in front of him.
"Yours is a false god, boy. You are a false prophet sent by the Devil to trick us into damnation. The faith in the Lord will protect us. The Lord's Believers will be the ones to save humanity from eternal damnation." Sister Miriam shouted directly at the boy’s image in front of her.
The shouting match between the boy-prophet and the pious woman caught the attention of technicians on both sides of the communication. Believers stopped monitoring their workstations to listen to their leader preach the gospel to the pagan heretic. Cultists ceased their duties to observe their Messiah extol the righteousness of Planet’s Will.
Both leaders stood on their opposite ends screaming at each other at the top of their lungs claiming their religion was the only one that would save humanity from certain doom. Miriam clasped her cross-necklace and shook it in front of the monitor as she called out for the Almighty's wrath to eradicate the false Messiah and his band of sinners. Cha Dawn stood on his chair and repeated slammed his fist on the console as he pointed at the despicable woman, screaming that Planet would send so many mindworms at Miriam that she and her followers would choke on them.
"I am the only Prophet that will save us, sinner." Miriam concluded. Her hands shook with righteous anger. "The Lord will strike you down and your band of heathens. They will burn on the cross as He sends the righteous fires of Heaven to burn your cities to ash."
"I am the only Prophet that will save us from Planet." Dawn finalized. His eyes glowed eerily red. "Planet will awaken, I have seen it. There will be mindworms as far as the eye can see that will cover the face of Chiron. I will be sure that YOU will be the first to witness the end."
Sister Miriam stared at the image in front of her with burning hatred. "There will be no peace between us while both of us remain in New Eden. The Believer faction declares a Holy Crusade against the vile Planet Cult."
"The Lords Believers will receive no respite from the Cult of Planet. Your faction will be flattened." Dawn stated.
Both connections disconnected unceremoniously.
The images of both self-righteous faction leaders barked at each other and filled the room with their shouting match. Both leaders looked so ridiculous that it would have been comical if it didn't mean that untold deaths were about to occur between the Cult and the Believers. Nevertheless, someone found it funny.
The communication cut off and only the seal of the Cult of Planet and the Lords Believers remained.
A booming laughter suddenly echoed across the room.
"Classic, utterly classic." A gloved hand moved to playback and record the shouting match.
"I haven't laughed this hard in years. You two are really full of yourselves aren't you?" The gloved hand reached for a glass of water right next to the display…
Despot-(1a) : a ruler with absolute power and authority (1b) : a person exercising power tyrannically
Beyond Alpha Centauri-Witness the glory of Sheng-ji Yang
*****Citizen of the Hive****
"...but what sane person would move from Hawaii to Indiana?" -Dis