Fragment: First Snow (December prompt for [community profile] nexus_crossings)

Feb. 11th, 2017 10:54 pm
rekindledtitan: (End of the day)
[personal profile] rekindledtitan
-------TRY RECALL--///

There’s a plain out there where snow has lain for three billion years. The sky burns blue and ultraviolet, casting reflected fire onto the ice that stretches in every direction. There’s a little atmosphere, thin and metallic with the taste of irradiation; the stars shine down clear and sharp, needle-pricks of warmth on your metal skin. If snow falls from the sky it comes with a shuddering rumble from beneath your feet, a stirring of the titan beneath the ice.

Before you’ve found your feet comes the sting and splash of briny sleet down upon your shoulders, chunks of ice thumping down in soundless puffs of the snow around you. When you turn you have to crane your neck to look up, up, up at the impossible plume launching itself miles into the burning night


It’s perfectly timed. The snow crashes down over her shoulders the very moment she materializes in the courtyard. Blinded, blinking, she spins on her heel and for a second she thinks the sky is the wrong color-

Then the wind presses up against her, the crack of banners overhead and the laughter of her brethren welcoming her home. She snorts at the pair of laughing Warlocks, the Hunter behind them with the smirk that makes her think it was his idea. She can feel the snow still piled up between her antenna so she reaches up and scrapes it down, scoops the clumps on her shoulder pads into a ball she can throw at the Warlocks. They both duck: it’s the young Hunter who gets a mouthful of snow. That sets the others off again, giggling helplessly at his stunned indignation.

Blaze laughs the loudest. If he wants to pay her back, let him. For now her honor is satisfied. She looks round at the snow swirling gently down onto the Tower. It’s piling up in drifts around the plaza, thanks to the long-suffering Tower Frames. When she looks out behind them she can see it’s falling all across the City, clouds swirling about the enormous silver sphere above.

“I didn’t know it could snow here,” she says to her Ghost. But this is no surprise: she’s been risen less than a year, and the young Titan is quite used to everything in the world being strange to her. The familiarity of novelty. There’s irony.

The seasons are gentle here. I think the Traveler keeps it that way. But we are still in the mountains.

She shakes her head - not because she disagrees, because the snowflakes are tickling her antennae. Even Ghost lets out a little giggle when she bats at them. Maybe she needs some kind of a hat. But there’s something intriguing about how it’s transformed the Tower, about the Titan demonstrating how to build a snow-dreg, the cluster of Guardians dancing in the snow together. A Frame complains aloud about the snow piling up around it - what to do, what to do? - and a nearby Warlock obligingly twirls through the piles around it. The snow erupts in steam around her feet, solar Light rippling from the flying hem of her robes as she dances. Blaze has seen snow before; she has not seen this.

She wonders.

“Hey, Ghost,” she says. “Want to see what happens if I use the Fist on a snowbank?”

///--END RECALL---------------INITIATE--///
Blaze holds out her hand, watches the first few flakes tumble down and splat on her palm. They puddle into liquid and stay there, proving they’re merely water. Around them the red sands roll in dunes and pile in drifts, broken where the upper floors of a once-pioneering colony burst through for air. She’s standing on the lower slope of one, momentarily diverted.

First snow on Mars, she thinks. They’re not so far from where the Ares One team met the Traveler, the day humanity stepped onto a world named for war and found peace instead. The thrill runs down her frame. Here she is at last, walking in their footsteps, renewing the path her ancestors dared their lives to forge.

Once that would have been carbon dioxide,” Ghost says. She thinks she knew that. “According to the records, substantial fractions of the atmosphere would freeze out during winter.

“I wonder what it looked like in the Golden Age,” she says. All the cities of Mars are dead and half-buried; their ruins make distracting shadows against the sky. She’s seen trees here, gnarled things, all of them dry and bare. They might have looked like the red-leaved maples of the Tower.

Perhaps we’ll find out when the Darkness is gone.

“When the Traveler wakes,” she says. He’s right. There is still water here. Water and oxygen. Maybe there’s even living soil buried beneath the surface. This shadowed planet is no garden, but neither is it dead. It hasn’t forgotten the day it was reborn.

Blaze turns her gaze to the sunken towers up the slope. There’s an open gash (collapse? Weapons damage?) that will serve as an entrance. “Let’s see if the colonists left us any records about it.”

She trudges on up the drift, her boots leaving gashes in the white-speckled sand. The snow goes on falling behind them and it is a gift, a memory made new, a promise that this beleaguered world still knows how to live.
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