Episode Eight (Excerpt)
Velto Wram faces censure in the Ramaxian Cloister for her actions against the Slavs, while Sofita Kul crosses paths with a wily local man who may not be what he seems.
Surface District, Ramaxia
10 Bamx 2228 – 1830 Hours
Hizaki embraced the eastern ice for its uncertainty, while the marixi used the white to test their endurance. Subaki dreaded the tundra winds, an enticing menace that killed them for just breathing. Bizaki had no use for the surface, yet of all the castes, theirs was the most familiar with it.
For zaxiri, the white was where they first turned on each other.
The Femmar’s first effort to reproduce had caused the deaths of five thousand zaxiri and eventually led to the subjugation and death of hundreds of subaki. Embittered by their treatment, the breeding castes came together and abandoned the others.
Social decline soon hindered those left behind.
After exhausting all avenues to bring their breeders back, an appointed judge chose a primary and committee to resolve the issue. Use of force was dismissed, since losing their agency had been what pushed the breeders away from the start.
They’d agreed that more time was needed; zaxiri would be the first to give in to their urges and return. Yet, after finding the bodies of two zaxiri exposed on the surface, hizak-leader Fusofitakil accepted that the breeder elite would never allow those hindered by sentimentality to derail their efforts.
Long after the breeders’ return and long after producing a generation, zaxiri began presenting their newly deceased to the white in an Exposure Ritual, atonement for failures unrealized or apparent during the Lonely Time.
Ilo Cux had chosen such a ceremony.
Though weary from crying, Velto found peace in the chilling polar night. Ilo’s faded blue corpse lay before her, daring the bizak to move on with her life.
“Citizen Wram,” said the green-hided subak beside her.
Velto looked at the young citizen. “Are you safe up here?”
Beneath her sympathetic eyes were tiny yellow dots that faded when she smiled. “I’m inoculated, Citizen Wram.”
Ilo’s firstborn had been a subakidoe named Woxas.
The donux belonged to comedienne Yam Julo, a subak who’d bonded to a pair of bizaki engineers bound for the AC. Back then, Velto served West Toxis in the Cloister, and upon hearing news of Ilo’s first delivery, she’d rushed to the birthing center to hold the little subakidoe.
Woxas had been rose-colored, with bits of blue on her nose and tummy, and when she opened her eyes and smiled, Velto fell in love.
Ten days after arriving in the AC, baby Woxas succumbed to fematicolixa. Though she’d had other donats, Yam plunged into despair, as did Velto, despite her having no genetic connection to the subakidoe.
After learning a vaccine therapy got withheld from the citizenry due to politics, Velto cracked enough ice to reverse its trial status. Once released, physicians dispensed the serum to every newborn subak in the Eleventh, and this sweet and patient Recycle Clerk proved a testament to its success.
“We’re going to take her below now,” the subak pulled Velto up with her when she stood. “Would you like to witness her recycle?”
Velto was ten when she’d witnessed her nestor’s recycle. Elders had escorted her and her sib into an observation room where they saw Hal Wiv’s body materialize within a transparent chamber.
Zixas had stood alongside her, hands and forehead pressed to the glass.
A purple cloud filled the enclosure and shrouded their maker from view, yet when the mist cleared, nothing remained but internal organs, slick and loose amidst a purple-coated skeleton. Light blue dust exploded under the glass, followed by a flash of bright yellow light that burned away any trace of biology until only clean bones and loose hair remained. A mighty hum shook the chamber, and as it trembled, a blinding white light had forced little Velto to avert her eyes.
When she could finally look, nothing remained of her deceased mako, except a fine pale dust.
“I’ve seen too many femmar that I love, recycled,”
“You don’t have to witness the procedure,” the subak put her arms around Velto. “Today and forever forward are better memories to enjoy.”
Touched by the rehearsed sentiment, Velto embraced her.
“Preparations for the delivery of her shishitav are—”
“-Ilo made plans,” Velto interjected; years ago, the zaxir had organized what she called an epic recycle-ceremony. “I need to get some things done,”
“It’s all done,” said the clerk. “Citizen Banto arranged everything.”
Velto stared at her.
“Citizen Banto brought Ilo’s guidelines to us, and we’ve followed them to the letter,” she assured. “Should you decide to witness the recycle, Citizen Banto asked that we make sure you arrive in Toxis on time for the goodbye ceremony.”