The Dirteaters

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The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death, 1969
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The Colony was alive, like coral. She built herself bones and buttresses, sang to them softly in their sleep. If they hadn't been so in love with their new bodies they would have noticed what a wonder they'd created. They'd left their bodies broken and behind, and were still getting used to themselves. Ellen and Saul tried to keep everybody on a daily schedule, tried to keep them mostly human, but the days turned into years into millennia. Ellen sometimes woke up sweating, dreaming of her father and of the sons and daughters they never got to have. She spoke of this to no one but it burned in her; she knew inside herself that she was a mother, that never had the chance. But she tried.

Tory and Galen fought, sometimes, but everyone agreed tacitly to ignore it. Nothing could really come between them, everybody thought and sometimes said quietly to each other, once they'd retreated to their corners. Maybe they were only following the Tighs' lead, after all. Their love always burned the hottest. And once their singed fingers had healed, it never took too long, they'd all go find Sam to put things right again. Soft and secret Samuel, with a dream in his eyes and a fierceness of heart that kept them all going.

Sam's guitar was left in pieces on the shore, back home, but sometimes they'd dream of beaches together, and he'd sing to them. The guitar he'd find on that dream shore was always perfectly in tune, and his voice was equally mournful and full of hope. As they all were. He'd loved a girl, back on Earth, but she was gone now and anyway, he knew his one true love still waited for them, somewhere beyond the stars. It hadn't happened yet, but in time he would find her. Painting the sky, rushing headlong into light. And after her, he'd become the soul of something greater still. He loved the Colony more than any of them. Perhaps she knew that too. Sometimes he swore he could hear her singing along.

They rushed forward, to save their brothers, on a wave of light and hope, bearing immortality in their hands, and an urgent warning, and the greatest mercy.

Joe will once again be Made, this time as a key advisor to the Guatrau. He can't celebrate, because he hates the Ha'la'tha and he hates selling arms to Gemenon over Tauron and he hates knowing his brother is very soon going to be killing Daniel Graystone. He hates that feeling of complicity that, for most of them, is reason enough to keep going. To stay firm on the soil of Tauron no matter where they stand. Sam doesn't mind killing Daniel, we all knew that would happen and besides, he misses Shannon even if Joe doesn't, but anyway: He knew what was coming and so did Joe, and there's nothing any of them can do about it. He begs Joe to stay with him here, today, to celebrate the promotion Sam's procured for him based on this new level of service, but Joe is a whiner.

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