Today's the day. I will be drinking the blood of god and the Modifiers will bring me closer to MEKHANE. I don't know what will happen, but I'll make sure to tell you. After all, you know everything about me.
Levy was barely listening to the sermon, his eyes were focused on his arm. His new arm. Never before had he felt so close to MEKHANE. He didn't remember much of his first ascension ceremony, just coming to his senses after everything was done. Feeling the pull of his arm's increased weight. Seeing the light reflect by the brass. Hearing the clicking of the gears as he moved it for the first time.
"You should really pay attention!" Judith's whisper snapped him out of his memories. She was right of course, looking out for him as usual. Legate Karlen was overseeing today's sermon and he was not known to overlook inattention.
After the sermon, Levy went back to the small chamber he called his own. In his drawer, hidden under a copy of The Schema of the Patriarchs #13: Standardized Metallurgy, was his diary. It was frowned upon by the church but it was a habit from his life before that he couldn't seem to shake. Lost in thought, he lay down on his bed, admiring the clicking noises his arm made.
I have no words to describe this feeling, I can feel MEKHANE working through my new arm. In time, I will be ready to join the Legates.
"Did you hear about what the Builders did?" She sounded worried.
"No, what happened?"
"They attacked the Foundation."
"On their own ground?" That was bold. Levy couldn't imagine that such a thing would have an outcome that made it worthwhile.
"Apparently. It seems they… found something. I overheard a preacher talking about it. He seemed disturbed." There was something in her voice that made him nervous. What kind of thing would unsettle a preacher, stalwart in their faith?
"What was it? What did they find?"
"I'm not sure. They noticed me listening and sent me away. But they didn't look happy. Scared."
There have been rumors going around. Rumors that the Foundation… found God. Literally. Ridiculous, right? But then why is everybody so freaked out about it? It's not like we don't know better.
The last few weeks there had been a noticeable tension all around the monastery. People were huddled together in small groups, discussing the Foundation's alleged discovery, immediately dispersing if a Legate came near. Levy had heard that several people had been restricted to solitary confinement for unknown reasons. Some said they were openly spreading heresy, saying the Foundation had disproven MEKHANE. Others said they had been secretly working for the Foundation and were now being tortured for information before being executed as traitors. Others again said the vanished people were not actually in solitary but had left the monastery, never to come back. There was no end to the different rumors.
Levy wasn't sure what to think of all this. Were they not strong enough in their faith to see that this were just lies, spread by heretics to sow dissent? If it were even possible to literally find the MEKHANE, surely the blinded pawns of the Foundation would be the last ones to manage that. Slaves of the FLESH, all of them, blind to how this world really was.
Sighing, he turned the corner leading to Judith's quarters. She was his rock, his best friend, unwavering in her faith. Her first ascension ceremony was coming up soon. He wondered what part of her would be exalted. It was exciting to think about.
Levy was about to knock on the door when he heard her voice, muffled but partially understandable. He wasn't sure what compelled him to spy on his best friend, but instead of knocking he pressed his ear against the door and listened.
"… calling for headquarters. Stigma Nine passphrase…" He couldn't make out the next few words. Who was she talking to? Calling? There were not telephones inside the monastery, such devices were heresy. And what was she talking about? Stigma Nine? Headquarters? This didn't make any sense. He was about to open the door when he could make out her words again.
"-tion Hippodrome seems to be a success. Rumors are spreading like wildfire, everybody is really nervous. It appears…" Judith's voice seemed to go further away and Levy couldn't make out her words again. His head was racing with questions. What did Hippodrome mean? Why did she seem pleased with the spread of the rumors?
Not willing to tolerate this any longer, he burst into her room.
Judith. She's… I'm not even able to write the words. How could she? She has a cellphone! This is heresy! More so, it's treason! She was talking to the Foundation, it's clear to me now. But why? Why would she do this? I thought I knew her. I don't know what to think anymore. There is nobody I know better than Judith… What else have I been wrong about?
Levy had been keeping to himself ever since he caught Judith. He hadn't been sleeping much and if he did, he was tormented by nightmares. Barely able to perform his duties he was already disciplined once when he fell asleep during a sermon. The feeling of anxiety all around the monastery was almost touchable. Most people avoided eye contact, and Legates were patrolling the hallways constantly. It had become silent where the air was usually abuzz with theological discussions.
Late at night, Levy found himself standing on the monastery's roof, staring into the sky. Supposedly the thing the Foundation found came from space. The thing they were saying was the MEKHANE. He remembered being taught about the existence of other planets in school, a long time ago. The sermons never mentioned anything about space. The church was trying to fix the world, to order it. But what about other worlds? Didn't they need fixing, too? He tried to imagine space, with thousands of other worlds in it. It made him dizzy. He felt small and lonely.
There was a fight yesterday. Couple of people died. A group of initiates attacked a Legate. Couldn't have imagined such a thing to ever happen. And yet it did. Thinking about the smell of the blood makes me nauseous again. So much blood.
I know I should have reported Judith but… I can't. She might be a traitor and a heretic but she's still.. her. My friend. My confidante. The thought of her being interrogated, tortured… I can't bear it. I've been covering my arm lately. The ticking of the gears has become irritating. Trying not to move the arm too much.
Staying in the shadows, Levy watched the entrance to the Archives, trying to keep his. He wasn't supposed to be here. But neither was Jared. He was an acquaintance who usually quietly performed his duties. Levy couldn't remember ever hearing anything out of the ordinary about the man. And yet there he was, sneaking into the Archives where some of the closest guarded secrets were kept. The guards had been distracted by a fire in the nearby dormitories. Did Jared orchestrate this? Or was he just seizing the opportunity? He couldn't help but wonder if there were more traitors like Judith in the monastery. If his best friend could deceive him, how easy would have been for people he barely knew?
What if the preachers had deceived him, too?
I feel like my whole world is collapsing around me. Judith is gone, no idea what happened to her. Legates won't tell me. Haven't been to the last sermons Told them I was sick.
Can't even look at my arm anymore
It had become a ritual for Levy to go up on the roof at night and stare into the night sky. Sometimes he also stared at the mountains surrounding the monastery. Inescapable.
He felt the cold sweat on his palms, when he clenched his fists. The ledge of the roof had been calling to him lately. It was tempting him, promising him freedom. Escaping the looming, unending threat of the sky and space, lurking just behind. All that nothingness. His breathing shortened at the mere thought of it.
can't sleep anymore, I'm trapped cant get out
theyve all been lying to me lying lying lying
Levy stared at the scene before him. Preacher Colen, in a pool of his own blood. The word 'LIAR' in crude letters, carved into his bare chest. The cold feeling in his stomach told Levy to get away from here. Back to his room. Back to safety. Clutching his arm to his chest, he ran. It disgusted him, his arm, almost as much as the corpse he was leaving behind.
Why was there a bloody knife in his hand?
cant get out need to get out need to get out
just get out
they know and theyve been lying