Slipping Beneath

The valley spring glittered brilliantly under the light of the two suns, a serene pocket tucked away in a forgotten part of the world. The ancient carbon panels, once intended only for temporary shelter, still paved the way around it, their surfaces worn down over the centuries of exposure and traffic. A woman sat on one of the final panels before the water, gazing out at it, and the mountains beyond it. She’d come from another world, one far more densely populated than this one, a sprawl of cities and farms not unlike the the metropolises of the Old Colonies. The air here was fresher, cleaner, less processed and sterilized from the countless atmospheric filters found on urban worlds.

Her mind drifted to her childhood, playing under the glimmering lights of the space docks, the impossibly huge elevator tethers an ever-constant in the distance. Ropes climbing so high into the sky it seemed like they never stopped, tempting someone to try to climb them, see what lay beyond. Of course, eventually, she would ride the elevators, see exactly what was beyond; an infinite universe, a galaxy teeming with life and activity. Humanity, on every world, in every system. Colonies billions strong, colonies with a few remote outposts, people of every imaginable culture and more.

For all of that, she eventually found herself… here. A world not truly remote, but often overlooked, only a few cities dotting its surface. A few cities, and temples. Temples raised in the golden era of expansion, when every colony would erect monuments to a world’s gods. The countless deities of the cosmos, protectors of their worlds and their colonies, given reverence in exchange for salvation in those early days. A time before the Inquisition, before Witches and Mages, before the threat of entire worlds being swallowed whole by eldritch horrors.

None of that mattered here, though. A quaint little world, tucked away off the main travel corridors. Simple people living simple lives, far from the noise of the greater cosmos. A place for her to study, learn, and become something… more than she was, before coming here. To let the past go, and see to a brighter future. To leave the life of venturing from one end of the galaxy to the other behind, completing endless orders, overseeing countless transactions. The pension would have been nice, if she had completed her forty year contract, but she had barely made it half way through it before she had to turn in her licenses. There was little fulfillment to be found, no greater goals to be achieved. It had been a good life, a good career… but something she was unsuited for.

Another approached her, smiling as he sat down next to her, looking over the water with her. The two didn’t say anything, instead sharing the moment together. It wouldn’t be long now, before others showed up, and the ritual began properly. This was to be her purpose, to devote the rest of her life to this world, to its people and their reverence. A meaning to her actions, to her life, that she’d never had before.

She held onto that feeling of purpose as she stepped into the waters, two others holding her arms as they waded deeper and deeper. Everything else melted away as she slipped her robe off, turning and letting the waters drift her deeper into the pool as she lay atop them, looking up at those brilliant setting suns. A life spent in service and dedication, surrounded by those who understood the simplicity of it, the bliss of it. Feeling the serenity as other thoughts slipped away, the worries of her past life joining the spring waters. Her limbs grew heavy, then numb, her body slipping beneath the waters. Her gaze never left the suns, though, not even as she felt her skin grow colder under the waters, the sounds of prayer drifting more and more out of her hearing.

She would have her Purpose. That was all she ever needed.

“It’s a curious thing, Miss.” The Doll stood at the viewing bridge, looking down on the planet below. “This one’s findings are irrefutable; this world has managed to replicate the conversion process without any mechanical assistance, or self-taught magic users. It appears to be entirely derived from latent planetary energies.”

“How long has this been going on?” The Inquisitor leaned over the railing, slowly unwrapping a piece of ration candy.

“Inconclusive. Possibly since shortly after the world’s founding. It is simultaneously an advanced technique, while being rather rudimentary. The conversion resembles the initial generation of Dolls from the Second Expansion, but entirely organic in nature. They have no life signs; it suspects that the planet alone is sustaining them.” A pause. “Shall this one report this world for formal review?”

“How many Dolls were present at the temple?”

“Roughly two dozen, another two dozen clergy along with them.”

“No evidence of Pocket activity?”

“No Miss.”

“Then our report will reflect that. The Flame has more pressing concerns than backwater priests performing unsanctioned conversions.”

“Of course, Miss.”






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