Sunset on Immaculous

Sutter awoke for the last time feeling calm. He had a twinge of anticipation in his stomach, but no remorse. His respect for the Council was impregnable, and when they sentenced him to the sunset he accepted it fully, embraced it even.

The stories say it’s beautiful.

The garden world of Immaculous had been spared the cleansing that decimated most other Coalition worlds, but its people had largely been thrown into the dark ages. They’d survived the last 200 years by burning dead plants as they walked in endless circles around the planet, forced into techno-nomadism. Immaculous didn’t rotate on its axis—every “day” lasted for a full year—and they spent their lives running from the sunset. In the darkness there is only death.

Sutter did not dwell on the chain of events that led him here. He’d made his own choices and faced the consequences as the natural order of things.

The wind had been picking up for several sleep cycles, sucking warm air into the darkness. It pushed him along as he sailed his glider away from the red disc on the horizon. He didn’t look back—it would be a symbol of discontent, and he would allow no such thing.

As he sailed over the greenery, a wave of fire swept under him and consumed the trees. No, not fire. It was a band of temperature change circling the planet. The leaves had turned golden and ember red before falling to the ground in a blanket of death. In another place, this band would have lasted for dozens of cycles and been called a season. But to Sutter, it signified that sundown had already occurred beneath him. A much taller wave appeared before him now, reaching from ground to sky like a curtain. The nitrogen in the air was coming down as snow.

He took a deep breath, kept his eyes forward, and sailed into the frozen darkness.

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