Our Captain dreamt.
In the red dark, he walked in the footsteps of those before him.
He walked in his own footsteps.
He saw the Desolation, the Central City, the sprawling tides of the dead, the skeletal faces of those he’d known. Those he’d fought with. Those he’d killed.
He remembered the day of ruining. The orders from Echelon.
It had all been a long time in coming; for decades, the agricultists had been allowed to work their dark science, at the behest of the military. As a people, we strove to unlock the secrets of life, and we used whatever technologies we could, whatever advances we imagined, whatever methods had not yet been tried. We dug into the ground to find the perfect soil in which to sow the abominable seeds. We sent rockets into the starclouds to gather space dust to feed them.
What we had hoped for was forever lost because of what we found.
In the bowels of the earth, we awoke something with an unstoppable, damning hunger.
Creatures with skins of rock and hearts of fire. They inspired us with power.
In the heavens, we awoke something with a terrible justice, a merciless song.
Creatures with feathered wings, and breath of music. They infused us with pride.
We learned to twist everything we touched to our own needs, driven by a desire not to know what we found, but to master it. Some had used the fire as inspiration, as warmth. Some had used the music for beauty. But most, hungry and greedy and wild-eyed with newly-discovered power, used them both for something else altogether.
We took our discoveries, and we made them monstrous.
We enslaved them in our greed, never realizing that in our arrogance, we were destroying ourselves. We thought we could use them to annihilate those who stood against us, those who were different. Other countries, other industries. Other people.
Where we could have found a way to save the world, to feed the hungry, we instead found a way to weaponize life. We learned how to use the fire of the beasts to suck out the spark of creation locked away inside each seed, each cell. We made the things of feather and song teach us to create soaring devices that could infect farms, flocks, the very grass of the earth. It would grow, lush and thick and beautiful, but sterile. When it died, there would be no seed to the fruit, no foal within the workhorse, no chick within the egg. Ever.
The firebeasts raged. The musicthings sang. They tried to tell us of balance, of danger, of life and death and chaos.
The world had nightmares, in the weeks leading up to its death. Bad dreams of a bloodied moon and unending fire.
Only a few of us listened, but by then, it was too late.