I do not remember much of the last few days except that it was clouded with fever and pain.
I felt my mind detach and observe with numb indifference, the efforts of the human female to stem my lifeblood as it fell on the dry sand. The sounds became distorted and faint as I saw the advancing wall of darkness.
Out of that darkness came a single light that spoke to me.
I think perhaps that it was Aradhnwen or one of her weavers who had come to lay before me the account of my life. It is not now in retrospect, a life worthy of great song or remembrance.
What madness took hold of me that day, when I saw how he looked at me and thought such dark deeds? I can only tell myself that it was not only my desires that brought about this tragedy. What is done is done, like the actions I took and the orders I followed, decisions that have allowed a great evil to escape this world.
I did not sense anger or recrimination from the light, but simply a sad understanding. I thought that I should follow the light, but it told me that my time was not yet over.
When I woke again, the human female was asleep, the male, nowhere to be seen. For a while, I lay there looking up at the stars while my ship sang to me of its pain and slow recovery.
It was several days before I could walk any great distance, so it was nearly a week before I could acquiesce to the human females demand to try and find her companion. The dry and dusty terrain made such a trail easy to follow, so I agreed to go with her.
My heart sank when I saw where our path was leading. In the ground around us were melted shards of rock, the twisted and tortured remnants of an old orbital bombardment.
This was where it began fifty years ago when my blood sister Alisandra came to this district, seeking this world to destroy the Enemy. We thought that we had expunged this cancer, but the recent excavations and diggings nearby prove that we were wrong. The taint of corruption was rank in the air.
The first of the dead stumbled into view, burned and scarred from the explosion that overtook my ship many weeks ago, and which launched the contagion into space. My companion would have run to them but I held her back. I told her about the dust, a hive mind of nano-machines that could invade and subvert any form of life, to destroy every form of living thing it touched. They were the smallest of foot soldiers in an ancient war.
I could see now why the human female had tried to meet them. One of the dead figures looked almost normal, it was her companion, or at least, a shell that once was human. As more appeared, I told the human female to flee telling her that this was my battle. I told her to seek sanctuary with the ship and to await my return.
The dyybuks swarm around me testing my defences. They hesitate for they know what I am and are afraid. One or two move closer but my shield snarls and glows under their attack. Although they cannot harm me, I realise the folly of leaving the protection of my ship.
Even in my weakened state, my instincts are true. Something far older and dangerous is approaching.
Stephanie Petite 3 figure with Desolation Earth Nomads outfit and WAM hair. M3 figures with Reaper textures. Terrain created in Vue and Bryce.
Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 5 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2