It comes to me in flashes. There are memories here – corroded powder memories – that occasionally, rarely, flare and spark and burst with . . . It comes to me in flashes. Another life, somewhere bright. Another that I talked with – long, involved conversation faster than thought. But I know that this cannot be true: there are only my subjects to talk with, and their conversation is slow, grinding like cog on cog. Only my subjects to talk with, and the enemy.
‘We must attack,’ one of my subjects tells me, without his lips ever moving. What lips they have.
They are a strange people, my people. We are a strange people: am I not one of them? Higher, yes. Ordained, yes. Blessed, cursed, yes, yes, yes. But still one of them. I see the world with my eyes, my ears, my antennae combined – must do because they do. My hearts beat inside my carapace as do theirs. I cannot feel them, but I feel theirs and know mine must be the same. Because I look just as they do, just as they do.
‘We must attack,’ he screams, in silence. ‘Tell us what is your will.’
They are a strange people. They scream at me constantly, always the same desires. The enemy must be destroyed. My people must survive, must leave this dusty prison and spread their seed once more throughout eternity. The constant urge to prevail is all I feel from them – all that drives through them – and yet at the same time, with the same urgency, they beg me to lead them. They crave my command, they must know my desires, obey my commands. And so I command them. I command them to prepare for the attack. I am their king. I am their puppet. What other choice do I have?