Read me the story:
Vetkar Allis looked down at the faces of his sleeping children and fought a welling despair that threatened to close his throat. Angrily, he blinked back tears, futile and redundant. When you existed in a chasm of endless, overwhelming grief, tears were—
Well, Father Rillem talked about Man’s duty to accept the Creator’s Providence without understanding it, but Vetkar still had trouble understanding any Providence that would let a whole world of believers be destroyed. Half a billion children, men and women, including his own bride, Gislet. Gone. All that Man had created in reverent obedience to the Creator’s will, warrens and factories and domes and agroneries and, yes, Churches, including his own agronery. Gone.
He’d feel worse, he knew, if it weren’t for the anti-shock meds that were added to the food, and the subliminal broadcasts designed to soothe and encourage the survivors. At least they were honest about that. Subliminals had been outlawed for all of Klaros II’s history, their use permitted only under medical supervision and with the approval of an Ecclesiastical Court. But now, who could argue? Anything that would help them get through another day.
His hand went out, finger extended, toward the sweet curve of Kace’s cheek, but he restrained himself from touching the boy. Let them sleep. At least the nightmares were lessening, now, and the long bouts of tears and pleas to “bring back Marm, Da, please, can’t we bring back Marm?” were over. Again, he blinked back tears, and turned away from the narrow bunk Kace and Pralet shared. He needed sleep, too. Everyone’s workdays were long, now, and his came even earlier than most.
He hadn’t far to go; his own narrow, fold-down bunk was on the other long wall of the tiny compartment, a bare step away. Tired as he was, he dreaded lying there in the dark, desperately wanting sleep but tormented by the fear that he’d dream again of all they’d lost. They’d given out transdermal patches, at first, to help people sleep, but that was only for the first few days. Then they’d put sleep-induction vids on the com menu, but now com hours had been cut and the only ’casts permitted after hour twenty were emergency messages from the Church or the Civs.
Power, like everything else, was strictly rationed.
He had to sleep, though. Tomorrow they were taking down the big carb-processors for maintenance and he’d have to be alert. Having an important job was the only guarantee that he and Kace and Pralet would be able to stay together and earn a decent Colony Share when the survivors finally moved to Klaros III. Maybe even another agronery. New colonies always needed skilled producers of raw foodstuffs, and at least he had the experience. A new agronery… maybe if he could get allocated enough cubage he could even try breeding his own strain of maticale, something that could be licensed— that would ensure that Kace and Pralet would have status and generous family stakes.
When sleep came, he dreamed not of his own, familiar agronery, but of terraces and shelves of growvats, waving with pale-green spears bearing fat heads of ripening grain under an unfamiliar sun.