“Brothers! Sisters! The day of prophecy has arrived!” Zhi-Yao spread her arms over the sea of cheering people. Ten million strong, the crowd was one of many across the world. For the first time since the days of the Ancients, humanity was united. Wars had been fought, cultures eradicated, whole islands sunk beneath the waves, but it was done. This night, the Nine stars not fallen shone brightly, arranged in a perfect circle above them. The heavenly Ring's rotation was halted for over the for the first time in millenia, her silver sides reflecting the sun’s light to the shadowed mountain below. Samantha’s Child was not yet visible. Tonight would be her final orbit.
Zhi-Yao held a crystal tablet aloft, its glowing letters shining bright.
“As it was written in the Book of Truth, handed down from the Ancients to the First Children, held by the wisest and most pious through the Mad Age, so shall it occur. The Machinari keep the Ancient destinies alive, and as they have before, they shall today. Samantha’s child, whose name we have kept for so long, shall fall. Our saviour shall be born! We will witness the birth of a new world, a free world!”
The cheer was a volcanic eruption of noise.
She turned to the angel standing beside her. Sleek, with a body of silver metal and robes of shimmering gold, the Machinari was a reminder that once, the world had been clean. Once, the world had been pure, good. And that it would be again.
“Keeper of Samantha’s spirit,” she said, bowing. “When shall the Child fall?”
The angel’s translucent eyes, hovering lines of light, did not meet her gaze. Such would be below a servant of the gods, despite her divine position.
::Soon:: the angel said, in its electric voice. Its grip tightened on a long crystal staff, an object she knew could obliterate and create with the slightest motion. ::Very soon::
Zhi-Yao’s heart quivered, but she put it down to excitement. Millenia of war would end. Famine, poverty, hate and injustice would all come crashing down once the Star fell. All her crimes would be forgiven. All the blood washed off her hands.
She turned back to the crowd. “The Child falls soon! Let us pray to welcome her!”
Her words spread like a wave. When all had knelt, she began to speak, her words echoed in a great roar.
“Ancient gods, from worlds near and far,
Holy Samantha, mother of us all
Forgive us our mortal sins
Pity your children, who have forgotten who we are
Let your Child fall
Let your daughter be the saviour of us all.
Fall, Fall, Samantha’s Child
Open for us the heavenly door
Give us, O Child, a whole new world”
A cry went up on, emanating from the west. Samantha's Child was rising. She travelled speedily across the sky, far faster than any of the Nine. How she fell was anyone’s guess. Would it be in flames? Would it be slow, like a leaf in the wind? Or would she rocket into the sea, casting up waves? The island they stood upon was not overlarge, and her every inch was covered in human beings, from the olive groves to the hot springs. It mattered not. It would be beautiful.
The Star moved overhead. A great cheer rose from the people. Zhi-Yao found herself weeping.
The Star passed, and continued on her way.
The cheer transformed to confused rumblings, murmurs and screams.
A sudden silence, spread at the speed of light, cut the crowd.
A red star rose on the horizon.
“Angel,” Zhi-Yao turned. “Did we do wrong?”
The angel’s gaze met hers, the shifting lights dimming to a somber blue.
::The decision was beyond me:: the angel said. ::I am sorry::
The space around the angel warped, pulling over its form as a tired man pulls a blanket. The air puckered as it disappeared.
The Red Star shone. There was a great heat, and then nothing at all.