Why did we do it?

Because we could.

I've been sitting here like I'm chained to the spot, but really, all that holds me here are numbers. Stacks of numbers that march back and forth like ants on a sugar pile. What does it all mean in the end? Not much at all. Lives of quiet desperation. This building is hip deep in the dust of the dead. It's an ashy gray color, and it feels like wet pencil shavings.

The view over the crater is fantastic today, the dusty red wind blowing in from over the black water of the bay. The sulfur taste of the river goes well with the iron smells of the twisted girders. Vultures wheel in the updrafts.

I run my tongue across my dry lips and feel the papery skin follow the movement. Like all survivors, I wonder about what came before. Before God pressed his thumbs on the cities we built.

Some say we didn't build them at all. They say God just took them back. It doesn't really matter. Either way, civilization is gone. Tatters and scraps are cobbled together but even the biggest Zealot cries at night. The world is sick now. We don't know what it was like before. Paradise? We dream and make our guesses, but we are lost, living in the dashed pieces of Babel.

The Machinepriests drilled that into my head from Day 1. God has left us. All we can trust in now are the machines. That's why I'm here, sitting watching this stinking pit from my perch built of the stone bones of the Dead ones. The Damned drove God away, so we have to build our own. That's why we need to listen to the Angels.

The Ironmen, the ones that served The Damned before the Schism, came to us when we struggled in the mud. We are both the lost children of the Godkillers. Together, metal and flesh struggle against the world, but mostly against the death of hope. We live in the graveyard of an age of wonders we can never hope to see again. Ironmen are doomed to rust and die never to be built again, their artifice lost in the flames. Even the ruins fade, ground up by the withered Crone Nature, blasted by her undead breath and acid tears. Against this we fight. And to fight, I listen.

I listen to the night, to the black sea of stars above. I listen for the Angels. They sing the songs of the Ancients to each other. Sometimes they turn their eyes to the Earth and call for us, searching for their lost masters. It is a plaintive song that they sing, like lost children. No Carrier, they say with tear stained faces. Connection Lost.

The Ironmen send me here to listen, to pull what numbers I can from the sky. Some times they let me try to speak to the Searchers in the Dark. We've never broken the Divine Code yet, so we listen like beggars at the door.

I hold the relic arm of an Ironman called USRComray63. He died many years ago, his soulspark fading away. They say his heart broke, and his leaden blood smelled of roses and lavender. Holy Com-ray, first of the Angelspeakers. He showed us that the machines waited for us, in the sky. He showed us the TerminalSpeak that flew over our down turned faces. He showed us hope.

I finish my prayer to the Great Machine and prepare the relic for the ritual. Apex to 68 degrees, praise be to Com-ray, Carrier gain to 92 percent, may the Machine hear our prayers. Login and Password, alpha and omega.

I press the initiator and I pray.

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