Note: This is a work of Red Rising fan fiction and contains Morning Star spoilers. Be forewarned.
Broken, fragile ankles sway in the gentle breeze. It is her again. Her voice, as tiny as it is to my ears, reverberates my chest. Her head bows, unmoving; her tangled, red mess of hair falls forward, concealing the rope around her neck. I cannot tell where her voice comes from. Looking around her, I see Red people. Their mouths are wide open, as if in a choir, harmonizing the letter “A”.
No. They are not singing. They are wailing, and they become louder as the song rouses on. That song. It remains at the forefront, her voice impossibly gentle against the background of wails from the muddied faces, forming a concave around her.
When Gold ruled with iron reins
We roared and roared
And twisted and screamed
My flesh feels prickly. No more wails in the background. Only her voice, no longer passive. Suddenly, I am afraid. Somehow I can sense what is to come, and before I can stop it or turn around and run away, I hear it: “Break the chains!”
As she rises her voice does her rope noose, which interweaves into chains, break. She falls at her knees, but does not flop down. She is not dead. She never was.
Eo delicately pulls herself up, her hair falling behind. I am afraid to look at her face, but I am a stone, unable to change the course of events. Eo’s eyes burn into mine. Despite my fear, I find myself wanting her to look demonic, like filthy rust… the way I once looked at Reds.
But she looks none of that. She is a ball of fire, her wildness a shocking contrast to her birdlike body. Eo is unCarved beauty. Standing at a few feet shorter than me, Eo makes me feel the small one. Still I do not look away. I cannot read her mind. I do not know if I am a traitor in her eyes, a part she never intended in her plan.
Again I hear the wailing. I look around; the people that idolize Eo still surround her, but they are silent. I turn back to Eo. Her eyes glisten, as if she is in pain. The wailing becomes louder, matching the thudding of my heart. A feeling of terror rises in me as I realize where the sound comes from. I make myself look down. I hear the baby in Eo’s swollen stomach. She casts a protective hand on her belly and then she opens her mouth, as if to whisper a secret to me, but the wailing becomes louder. I cannot concentrate on anything else. Things become watery. I lose my footing, Eo, and her mob.
Pax. It is Pax crying in the middle of the night. Out of breath, I clamber out of bed and go to him. He is standing in his crib, chubby hands holding the rail, his face an angry wrinkle. I cannot help but burst into pride and affection. I lift him to my breast and the world falls silent.
Gently, I carry Pax into bed with me. His sleepy sucking quiets my thumping heart. I feel Darrow reach for us in the darkness.
“My family,” he murmurs. His hand find Pax’s head, rubbing it. Then he fingers his way to my cheeks.
“Mustang, you’re crying.” His voice is alert now. I hadn’t realized I was. I hesitate, wanting to choose my words well. Darrow doesn’t know about this recurrent dream of mine.
“If the Vale exists,” I begin, “what kind of message do you think Eo would want to send to me?”
Darrow holds me tightly. He is silent in the darkness as we both listen to the soothing sound of Pax’s suckling.
“I dream of Eo, too.” Darrow’s voice barely an audible pitch.
But I know this. Some mornings, I catch Darrow’s distant, sad eyes and I can feel him wondering about the life he could have had, if only Eo never sang her song. Her sacrifice so great he cannot fathom it still. Sometimes I think I see a flash of guilt in his eyes as he remembers where he is– and who he is. Living as a Gold with the daughter of his wife’s killer and their offspring… What would Eo say?
“Eo was never a jealous creature,” Darrow says, as if interjecting my thoughts, and again I am reminded how we are of one mind. “She was an idealist, always looking at the greater scope of Life and never allowing her own human desires take precedence.”
It is always a strange feeling to listen to Darrow speak of Eo, a reminder that there is a part of him that will always be the Red Helldiver that fell in love with Eo deep in the mines where my people, my father, kept them chained in generations of lies.
Darrow kisses my forehead. Pax has fallen asleep at the sound of his father’s voice.
“If the Vale exists,” Darrow repeats the question. “I think Eo would want to say, ‘thank you’.”
Hearing it from Darrow makes it ring true. I take a hard swallow, nodding against his chest.
“Thank you,” I echo.
Silence falls over us, but we don’t drift back to sleep. Our pulses and breathing mimic one another as our thoughts weave in and out of yesterday and tomorrow. The sun’s first rays pour over the surface of our home, our only home, Mars. As the sunlight spreads, bringing clarity into our bedroom, again I remember: We only have today.
Writing prompt 14 of 30: Write a fan-fic.