Content warning for: mass death, infectious afflictions, and planetary prison camps
Author’s note: This story is set in the “Goddess of Anarchy” universe. Reading the main storyline is not required, but recommended nonetheless.
When we speak of the gods, our attention usually turns to the greatest and oldest among them, to the great deeds they performed in the creation of our common universe. But between us and them rests an infinitely layered hierarchy of mediating beings, many of which we could consider gods in their own right. One of these intermediary classes is the so-called ‘yeoman god’, a landed dependent who generally overlooks but a singly pocket dimension or planetary system. Our present tale concerns one of these beings, and the wonders they spawned in their absence.
In truth, the average yeoman god was nothing but a spiteful landlord, a mediocre being who took out his insecurities on those he happened to rule over. So it was with this being, who took the name of the system he had created: ThreeMoons. To his subjects, ThreeMoons presented himself as an imposing gas giant, around which the Three Moons of his creation orbited. By directing the winds of his upper atmosphere, he could carve intricate patterns into his outside appearance, using these to issue commandments to his flock. A central theocracy soon dwelled among the Three Moons, and their god took great pleasure in the various ways he could toy with these little sentients, no matter how sadistic his games got.
But this story knows a happy ending, for every yeoman god had their own obligations, which they sometimes failed to meet. So it was with ThreeMoons, who-through a series of bad bargains and complicated financial schemes-found himself defaulting on a metaphysical mortgage. As such, his creation was seized by a higher authority, and when they could find no use for these meagre moons, the planetary system was left to its own devices.
When their god’s messages ceased, and their magical implements became powerless, the people of the Three Moons were naturally confused, with despair soon to follow. But beyond these initial fears, each moon would ultimately react quite differently to the sudden absence of divine influence. In the next three sections, I will lay out their respective histories, going from the most populated homeworld to the smallest of colonies. I hope these tales will enlighten you about the freedom of life, and the freedom from masters. Indeed, there is much freedom to be had in the following, though always at the cost of struggle. Let us be mindful of that.
1: The Rocket-People
The people of the First Moon never gave much thought to the past; the “Death of God” passed them by quite peaceably, as if some other agent had already prepared them for it. The universal priesthood was disbanded without much upheaval, as even the ruling classes didn’t seem to mind the absence of religious leadership; their political philosophers just had to find a new strategy for justifying of state power. Within a generation, there were “People’s Republics” aplenty.
Then came a time of false understanding. The people had explored every continent of their little globe, which was now controlled by a small collection of rivalrous republics and empires. Great inventions were the order of the day, from the liberating aeroplane to the productive spark of electricity. Of course, the specter of great conflict also hung over their heads, threatening to turn their era into one of warring states. But even this danger was not alien to them, and the truly unfamiliar would come from another place entirely.
First impact occurred outside of civilization, in the not-so-lifeless grasslands that defined an empire’s periphery. Curious nomads might have been the first to be affected by the cursed magics which emanated from their cosmic visitor, though the exact identity of patient zero is impossible to trace back. What is certain is that enterprising prospectors came upon it soon after impact, and took the mysterious meteorite on a tour of the empire’s metropoles. This naturally accelerated the spread of the new cosmic affliction, though most of its carriers were and always would be asymptomatic. Even those with the proper capacities were yet unaware of their newfound powers, and it would take a very specific trigger to bring this augmentation into focus.
This trigger was the much-prophesied World War, a horrifying conflict that brought out the worst in the international order, and ultimately cast the entire logic of empire into doubt. But before it did so, it first condemned millions of young beings to their pointless deaths, conscripted into a conflict that they neither understood nor particularly cared about. All armies quickly ran out of nationalist zeal, and their soldiers were mostly motivated by enemy fire and the whip of the commissar. But amid such slaughter, a precious few saw their miraculous ability awaken, a power which allowed them to move instantaneously into a low First Moon orbit. These were the Rocket-People, and though none knew it yet, their fate was now intertwined with that of the world entire.
To most new spacefarers, their first cosmic excursions were nothing but a cause of death, either from shock at their sudden transportation, or the resulting asphyxiation. Those who already wore an oxygen mask fared better, although the cold vacuum of outer space was even less bearable than an enemy gas attack. But with enough time and secrecy, they managed to adapt their equipment to the new realm that awaited them, and together they formed a burgeoning community.
Tragically but inevitably however, this cosmic domain and its subculture were eventually discovered by the warring powers, and many of the Rocket-People were either bought out or coerced into military activity. When the World War was ended through the orbital bombardment of an imperial capital, it was clear that this new era would know no peace, only standoffs and stalemates. The Rocket-People had how become mere pawns in this militarized spectacle, constructing great orbital weapons at the point of a bayonet. To realize their agency, they would have to once again band together in secret, to build up the solidarity that might ultimately stave off mutual destruction.
And so they did. First, they re-established the pidgin language that had served them well before. Then they used coded signals to shared improvised manuals for cosmic living, using these to build hidden homes for the trans-national families they had founded out in space. As long as they kept the orbital weapons operational, their moon-bound handlers were none the wiser. Only when over eighty percent of the orbital population took part in the General Space Strike of Year 812, did the ruling classes of the First Moon finally learn that their precious Rocket-People had become a political liability. It would be the beginning of the First Inter-Lunar Class War. Many more were to follow.
2: The Cosmodrome
The people of the Second Moon had never taken to worship in the way that others did. Their home had always been treated as an outpost, a refuge, a prison camp. It was the inhospitable place where you would end up if your master would rather have you out of sight and out of mind. This was also where your Lord would find a new use for you; such a population of prisoners and exiles made a perfect stock for divine experimentation. The effects of gene-splicing and aura-breaking were clear to see among this population of unfortunates, but it was not without its benefits. Not only had these beings been augmented in a physical or mental sense, but they had cultivated strength and solidarity among the downtrodden, and this would serve them well in the uncertain times ahead.
In the godly days, the inter-lunar transport of people was controlled by great spells and gates, which obviously ceased their operation once its main power source had departed the system. Without God, there was no more harmony or flow between the moons, and the Second Moon was now truly a place of exile. It quickly became clear who would profit off this isolation, as any old authorities found themselves overwhelmed by riots and rebellions. Once cosmic abandonment had resolved into social revolution, the surviving outcasts finally came to understand how alone they were. In defiance of the punishing paternalism that had brought them here, would they be able to fend for themselves?
Though the barren wasteland of their desert moon suggested otherwise, the people flourished in their newfound freedom. Their banished Lord had inadvertently granted them the great gift they needed to overcome this environment: diversity. With so many skills and abilities among them, there was little they couldn’t achieve, and they took great joy in celebrating their arts and deeds. Scarcity soon became nothing but a historical curiosity, and their common distaste for hierarchies ensured their egalitarianism. Indeed, with all this accomplished, what was there left to do?
The answer to this question came from the irrepressible call of sentient curiosity. While the memory of other moons still brought up feelings of resentment, the allure of space travel was undeniable to these idealists, and so they set up several design collectives to tackle the challenge of spaceflight. Because these teams were organized by different governing principles, a friendly rivalry soon emerged between them. While all would share in the discoveries of space travel, only one of them could get there first, and each of the design collectives was eager to prove its methods superior.
Most of these engineering teams were informally lead by certain charismatic individuals, those who personified the general spirit of their common approach. Among these most prominent designers were Velkoor, the communist whose ambition was unparalleled; Echomile, the syndicalist who had the ear of every union representative; and finally Holgusk, the mutualist who liked to keep some things to himself. While other teams and individuals would emerge in time, they were the main players of the early Space Race. Before too long, their teams knew how to reliably build and test a rocket, and they competed fiercely for the chance to get the first sentient into space. As they worked in blissful anarchy, the stars seemed ever closer.
3: The Ecosystem
The people of the Third Moon had founded their first colony as a religious retreat. So when the skies turned violent, and the comfort of a godly presence was no longer known among them, they fell into despair with notable ease. “The Lord has forsaken us!” cried out the preachers of this world. As it turned out, a culture build on obedience could not countenance the absence of its master, and the morality of power cascaded down into increasingly petty forms as society slowly collapsed. Within a few bloody decades, the dominant sentients had practically driven themselves into extinction. But beyond this suffering, a new potential dwelled.
In their drive towards self-destruction, the zealous sentients of this place had not considered any of the cosmic effects that a divine absence might entail. As such, the momentary interruption of their moon’s magnetosphere came as a complete surprise to them, and the resulting influx of cosmic radiation made short work of the last remaining sentients. The local flora and fauna, which had adapted to this electro-magnetic chaos over millions of years, proved more amenable to these changes, and the eventual strengthening of the moon’s magnetic field allowed a whole new ecosystem to emerge. The buoyant omnivores who abounded in this low gravity environment were now cast even higher into the atmosphere, inviting their feathered predators to move along. It is these latter creatures who were promised a greater destiny, for their burgeoning sapience would finally be given the freedom to flourish.
Awareness is always a gradual process, and so it is impossible to say when the bird-people of the Third Moon became ‘fully’ sapient-if there even is such a thing. However, their wingtips adapted to tool use fairly quickly once their last hunters had perished, and they used the literal rise of floating rocks and islands to carve out portable domiciles. From there, domesticating their usual prey was an easy task; the real challenge lay above them, as they saw the treasures of a departed God swing around their little world. Getting to this bounty would be a strong motivating factor in the development of their society, and daring fliers would try whatever they could to slip the bonds of gravity. Orbit seemed tantalizingly close, and those who participated in this biological Space Race knew that another cosmic shift was close at hand. Looking up at the wealth of the beyond, they dreamed of transcendence.
Here we have it then: three tales of cosmic discovery, of abandoned peoples finding their way to the stars. To be sure, their respective futures were not without conflicts or setbacks, but neither did this new space age allow itself to retreat back into obscurity. From this vital point in their common history, we can look towards the next milestone, that precious moment in time where hand, limb, and talon first met, and the Three Moons were reunited as one. This time though, it occurred from a place of authentic existence rather than imposed theocracy. Together, these three peoples would forge themselves a transcendent destiny, one that ultimately redeemed their erstwhile creator. But that is a story for another time.