The Harvester-taken-prisoner stood in the circle of large, avian meat animal drones swaying a bit. Had it read the signs correctly? The Fire-maker had been very insistent in its directions but after weeks of feeding only on rodents and fruit, its wounds sealed but festering, the Harvester-taken-prisoner was in a perilously weakened state and easily confused. It shifted the Fire-maker’s husk and got a better grip on its weapon for all the good it would do.
Doors opened somewhere in this great warren and a monster of a meat animal, easily as large as the drones, entered the chamber. It saw the circle of avians. It saw the Harvester-taken-prisoner. The primary of the avians came to it and spoke with it and though the meat animals were not near and the chamber full of echoes, the Harvester-taken-prisoner still heard what was said.
“Sire, it is a cyborg soldier from the Sand Sea.”
“I’m familiar with what it is, Servitor Sobyeit. What I am wondering is what is it doing in my antechamber? And how it has come to be in possession of my son’s body? Or should I say, why it has chosen to bring it here?”
“Apparently because your son told him to.”
“Perhaps you should read this first, sire.”
“Ch’Voga’s copy of the Scriptures.” The voice went from distant thunder to whispered breeze.
“The creature was carrying it. Your son seems to have written his will in the margins.”
The meat animal carried the book nearer to one of the lanterns lining the walls. It read with it’s back to the Harvester-taken-prisoner for some time. At one point, four more meat animals entered the chamber with fresh linens and a long plank. The primary of the meat animals spoke with them and they came, timid and fearful to the Harvester-taken-prisoner. The primary of the avian drones spoke for them. “They have come to take the body to prepare it for burial.”
The Harvester-taken-prisoner tried to comprehend. The four meat animals tugged gently at the Fire-maker’s husk. Their heat was coming at it in waves, soft, vulnerable. The Need was rising yet it must not feed. It didn’t know what was happening. It didn’t know what would happen when they took the husk. The primary animal had the book. If they took the husk, the Harvester-taken-prisoner would have only one last gift of the Fire-maker. Would the drones attack then? “Please,” one of the soft ones said. It realized it was still gripping the husk tight. It released its burden to them, if only to make them leave sooner. It took its weapon in both hands and waited on ever weakening legs for the inevitable.
It peered at the drones with its remaining eye. They peered back. No one moved.
“Ch’Loi,” the primary animal said, “Come here please.”
It took a beat or two. The last precious words of the Fire-maker. So much to remember. So hard now to recall. The Harvester-taken-prisoner took a halting step outside the circle of avian drones. They made no move to stop it though one muttered, “Good Lord!” It limped over to where the great primary meat animal stood waiting for it. It was only a few strides but it felt longer than all the steps it had taken since it turned its face toward the East. The primary of the meat animals waited. At last it stood before the shaggy great monster.
“My son,” the monster said, “Ch’Voga, he gave to you the name Ch’Loi didn’t he?” The Harvester-called-Ch’Loi chopped the air weakly. The primary watched the gesture with great interest. “He gave you something else, did he not?” The Harvester-called-Ch’Loi raised its hand, not to chop or slash but to show the gift. “Do you know what these gifts mean?” The Harvester-which-chose-not-to-harvest-and-was-without-kin-and-was-taken-prisoner-and-was-completely-overwhelmed slashed.
“I am Chofa. My son, my beloved son Ch’Voga, named you his heir and gave you his ring. He named you Ch’Loi. It means, “Son of Chofa.”” The primary of the meat animals took its shoulders in great furry paws, no claws, just firmness. “It means, you are my son, I am your father and you are home.” The great monster wrapped it in its arms. No longer able or needing to support its own weight, the Harvester-named-Ch’Loi fainted.