A Heart Full Of Dust
Al Bruno III
There was enough hard radiation in the chamber to kill a normal human in seconds but Adiramled was beyond such concerns.
Once, over a millennia ago this had been the reactor chamber for the Monarch's glorious New City. Delivering heat and light to the sprawling thirty mile wide, seventeen level deep underground complex. It had been a sight to see, a city of the future they had called it, monitored and protected by technology generations beyond what was available anywhere else. There was a digitized library full of wonders to rival Alexandria, there were mechanized sentries on every street corner, there were hospitals that could cure any ailment, heal any wound.
And there were pleasures to be had as well.
Such pleasures. Adiramled smiled as he entered the reactor chamber and began to disrobe. There had been drugs of every type and virtual reality pleasure domes where you could defy the laws of morality and anatomy. The Monarchs' favorites- the privileged few such as himself- had the power of kings. They could take whatever they wanted, they could kill with near-impunity and their credit was always good.
Those had been such good times. Adiramled stepped forward, trembling slightly, his bare feet padding over the floor.
The remains of the New City were a mile above them, nothing more than a tomb now. It had been destroyed when the Monarchs' Jihad had spilled over to Earth. The destruction was not the Monarchs doing but their arrival and subsequent battle had caused cataclysm after cataclysm. The reeling nations of man immediately suspected the others of attempting a first strike and launched their missiles. The New City had been simply been too close to one of the strike zones.
Adiramled remembered that night as well. He remembered standing on the outskirts of Tientsin, watching as the waves of flame washed over everything, scouring the land. It might have been a trick of the flames but he was sure that he saw a pair of the warring Monarchs in the heart of the firestorm, their pincers flashing, their mandibles locked.
Those glorious giants carved in fire bore little resemblance to the creature nested in the back corner of the chamber. Ltolox had been gravely wounded when Adiramled found it, forced to cannibalize itself in order to survive. Gone was the mammoth god-beast, it was no bigger than him now.
Standing in the center of the room he watched as the shivering monstrosity slowly made its way towards him. Its pale emerald hide was stretched tightly over its ovoid skull. As it drew closer Adiramled found he could actually see his reflection in Ltolox's round segmented eyes. It reached for him with a trembling pincer.
Adiramled drew it up and held it in an awkward embrace. Ltolox's mandibles spasmed as it used what little power it had left.
There was an almost imperceptible hiss as their atoms began to mingle.