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I. Ancien Régime

Meat again. Meat at every meal, luxury even for Alphas. Blake could almost imagine the Federation wants to kill him with kindness.

The smell of it. Heavy and rich, almost liquid, filling his nose and mouth when he breathes.

And again, he remembers.

The smell of it. A cellarful of burnt meat, charred by energy rifles. Falling, face to the blackened hollow of someone's neck.

He lurches to the toilet and vomits. Vomit at every meal. His throat burns. He swallows down water that's bittersweet with drugs.

Hunger won't break him. Nor memory. Someday, they'll pay for all of it.

 

II. Year Zero

Lights in his eyes like teeth, chewing him up, grinding in and in to his defenseless brain. Monsters, cannibals, he always knew the - the - always knew they ate people.

The Federation. Federation.

Burn people, eat them up. That smell.

A roar all around him, a hundred thousand unoiled gears, metal tearing metal, and he's inside it. And it's inside him, the machinery shaking to pieces in his head. Shrapnel, mincing his thoughts.

Something - Federation - oh the lights

teeth freedom that's it scraps he's nothing but

why are they

smell of blood why

hundred thousand broken gears

 

III. The New Calendar

End of another Ninthday. Queuing at the Alpha cafeteria, Blake listens to the chatter of plans for tomorrow's rest period. No one asks him what he'll do. He's never been good at making friends.

There's beef stew tonight, rich-smelling and delicious. As he eats, he watches the central vidscreen. Nothing much in the news--Dome 18 won at the footy again, some planet joined the Federation, and a couple of subversives were arrested. The fight against terrorism, the announcer says, will be the big issue in next year's election. Blake stops listening. Why do people get so fussed about politics?