In Need of Forgiveness

Luther kicked in the cathedral door. It was the only part of Concordance Station that was permitted to forego the triple-redundant locking hatchways required of all other passageways—granted by popular vote, the fools. His left arm was dead below the shoulder, and his right was preoccupied keeping pressure over the fresh hole in the side of his neck.

The attendant in the entryway nearly broke his neck doubletaking at Luther’s loud and bloody entrance.

“Get me an Acolyte!” he demanded.

“The Acolytes are in prayer, sir.” He squinted in disgust and disbelief as he realized how little was left of Luther’s face. “Governor?! Is that you? You need a medical officer right away.”

Luther simmered with barely tempered anger. “Fine. Get a doctor at once. Go!” He barked the last word, and the attendant fled from the cathedral with some measure of relief on his face to be pardoned another moment spent in the company of such a grotesquely injured man. Typical pretender, Luther thought, and spat sticky fluids onto the orntate carpet.

Beyond the entryway the cathedral was empty, though the view of Uranus through the immitation stained glass ceiling was better than any on Concordance. He stared perhaps a moment too long and felt woozy. He didn’t have much time.

The Acolytes were in the side chamber, and Luther let himself in just as he had the cathedral. The four High Acolytes stood with heads bowed in a straight line. They looked up calmly at the intrusion, appraising Luther in synchronicity.

“Forgive me,” Luther choked. His voice had become strained.

“Governor? You’re hurt—”

Luther removed pressure from his neck, sending pinpricks across his scalp, and grabbed High Acolyte Sympless by the throat, pushing his frail body against a wall. “Forgive me,” he said again with difficulty.

The Acolute croaked, “For what?” as the others pulled Luther away and onto the floor where they held him down.

“For everything,” Luther said, his voce a gravelly whisper now. “Quickly, forgive all I’ve done.” His eyes said that he was reaching his end. Concordance shuddered violently, and Luther watched flailing silhouettes through the stained glass, freezing and choking before clouds the color of a robin’s egg. And there he died, not yet absolved.

“What have you done, Luther?” asked Sympless. “What have you done?”

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