Divinity, Part One

12:00 pm

Image Credit: Mats-Peter Forss

So, I've lost the knack for writing a little recently, and this is as far as I got with 'Divinity' before then. I decided to post it, almost as proof I wrote something at some point in the past, but also to remind me that this story exists and needs to be finished. I want to finish it, I just know it won't be any time soon. 

Here's Part One of 'Divinity', the rough first draft, and I honestly don't think I've proofed it for about four months.

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She raised her hand to cover her brow as she looked out across the violet landscape, a veil of pink shimmering in the sky to the tune of the chants that echoed in the valley. Leaning into her side was the shoulder of the cohort she had in tow, his hand gripping into the top of her bare foot as he tried to keep his balance. The ground was dust, glowing orange with the light reflected from the spectrum glittering above. It was getting into his joints and making things more difficult than they needed to be, but she would strike him down with a glare if he tried to get to his feet. They needed this image as their cover if they wanted to get across the desert alive. He depended on her to get through this, and she depended on him, however much she resented admitting it.


It was night-time, but you wouldn’t guess from the brightness that surrounded the woman and her motorised companion, dragging his knees down the dune-side as he clung into the straps of her haulage sack. The indigo skin covering his knuckles had started to crack and flake, revealing the intricate map of nerves and wires that lay beneath to the frozen sun above. The chants grew louder as they usually did as night moved onwards, reverberating off the dust below until the entire valley was singing. 


“How long until extraction?”. He peered up, squinting through a dust cloud to get a good look at the woman’s face. She was hard to read, a permanent grimace across her dimpled skin, not much her own fault, but that of a lifetime of bounty hunting and finding herself on the wrong side of a lot of people. Her eyes flickered down and scanned his face, sensing his tiredness.


“Too long.” She eventually responded. A sigh, not at anything in particular, certainly not at him. Just a sigh. “We can rest now.” She dropped her sack onto the floor, which he took as a sign he could finally let go of her, rubbing his knuckles with the palm of his hand. He hated to see himself fall into this state of disrepair. Really, he had never been in this bad a state, but there was little he could do about it now. Complaining to her never got him anywhere, so he silently continued to investigate the damage as she unpacked the shelter, piece by piece. She laid various joints and bolts into a circle in the dust, occasionally adjusting slightly until evenly spread. He was used to her idiosyncrasies by now, but she was taking a little too long for his liking. Eventually, with a click of her fingers and her tongue sticking out the corner of her mouth, the shelter sprang up, fully-formed and airy, ochre to match the desert floor.


“Home, sweet home.” She muttered, removing her goggles as she stepped into the glorified tent. There was a stove, so that was something, and separate beds, which was definitely something. People with bounties on their heads never made good bedfellows. She had learned that more than once. Her companion’s knees grated as he finally got to his feet, taking a tentative pace into the shelter with gritted teeth. He didn’t feel the pain, desert nerve wear the norm by now, but the sound of his damaged joints made his brain itch. A reboot sleep would sort that out, then he’d be in good enough spirits tomorrow to brush some of the dust away. 


The woman sat herself down on the bedroll with a groan, removing her desert boots and socks. Dust now littered the floor of the shelter, but she felt a lot more comfortable for it, so she didn’t really mind. She looked across to the cyborg, watching his eye twitching as he bent his knee to and fro. There was nothing she could do for him, nothing she was allowed to do anyway thanks to her own set of rules she set down firmly, many years ago. More years than she was willing to talk about. She found herself pondering on time for a moment, then shook her head, as if to disintegrate the thoughts, punishing them for ever appearing in her mind. But thoughts can’t be destroyed. They grow, especially when you’re trying to ignore them. They scratch away until they’re noticed, until they make a well in your mind that cannot be filled with anything but the thought itself. It makes itself at home.


They settled for the night without another word, the gentle whir of the companion’s mind a gentle backdrop to the chanting that still filled the desert valley, enveloping them as they slept.


The navy of the morning sky appeared slowly, the shimmering veil disappearing, only to return when the midpoint of the day had passed. The woman had slept an interrupted sleep; her companion was well-rested, his heart back to a full-bodied flutter. As she cooked a small breakfast for the two of them under the new day’s sky, the cyborg spun his ankles off their threads and began to dust away the desert residue with a small brush tucked into the inner pocket of his jacket. The whole ‘lack of having lungs’ thing meant he couldn’t just blow the dust away, plus he rather liked the meditative state this task required, grounding him in an otherwise quite stressful situation. He also didn’t have the capacity to smell, but if he did, he would know that his breakfast was in the process of being slightly burned as the woman studied closely a small set of blueprints she kept stashed in the side of her haulage sack. Fortunately for them both, she did have olfactory senses and was immediately back at the stove, quietly scraping the slightly singed protein package off of the bottom of the pan, embarrassed. Fortunately for her, she seemed to lack the ability for her cheeks to flush, so the cyborg wasn’t any wiser.


Both of them knew why they were heading to the extraction point, but neither of them wanted to discuss it. Cyborgs were being shipped off to another, less-prone-to-dying planet, to create a new colony and thrive. They were, of course, the future of humanity, or mankind, or whatever society they could be called despite their sparse remnants of human flesh. Humans were to be left here, on yet another planet they had so selfishly destroyed, whilst the bright young (shiny) things of civilisation could live on elsewhere in the universe, the push of a button away. And that was the woman’s job: the hunt down the last remaining cyborgs, the ones who refused to leave, each with their own reasons. She didn’t care about their reasons. She would ship them off, receive the bounty, and live on this planet for however long it had left, roaming the ochre deserts and dry salted sea beds solo.

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