Chapter 1

A dream of worlds in unity, millennia gone by, alien and familiar all at once. It leaves behind a data fragment to mark its passing.

[RECORD: GRIEF EFFUSION]

After the informant had come, bringing reports of the end of the Ammonite by the sword of the festering Hive, we did not yet know disaster. Unusual signals at the edges of our Habitable World suddenly had meaning, the intelligence thrice-over credible enough to mobilize. And yet: those at the core of our united Ecumene did not know the scent of fear.

After all, it was to be understood that they would fall. The Ammonite were only one, not a unity. Divided. Meanwhile our Habitable World always grew. We offered the Fathomless Deep to any who wished to learn of our synergy, and it glossed the way to become more than we were.

The day the war began, I was far from disaster. There was celebration. A new client-species drank of the Deep and understood the World as we tasted it. The joy marked the air, and all of us shared it, for all were now Ecumene: welcome, welcome. What could bitter such a thing?

Sunrise-scents were long fading when I read the first report of strife, though delight lingered sweet on my breath. Buoys offline. Sentinels unresponsive. A first strike. A lingering scent we could not understand, though the Deep indicated familiarity. From the beacons: Aiat. Aiat.

I set this day in memory above all others.

[ENACT: REMEMBER]

It has been long and long since the war began. The Habitable World shrinks by the moment. We know not what the future holds but crisis and fear.

I set this day in memory so that we will know, when the lessons are taught in some warless future, unbreathed but true in the fragile hope all of us shelter. Fear did not come suddenly. The first harbingers of violence arrived on the same winds as joy. That of value must be cherished, for it may already be too late.

In the Deep may we be kept.