I keep thinking about work. It worries me. The citadels have always been willing to alter or enhance psychological conditions. Nanites in your skull record every waking memory or speed up reactions, suppress emotion, and clarify tactical thinking. But now the science heads have gone just one bit further.
One of the Rim worlds in rebellion happened to have deserts that consisted of black sand, and produced fierce storms. Well, the last big sandstorm on the planet hadn’t been natural. It was nanotechnology, making new inroads in psychological alterations. A rebel village within the test area had switched allegiance within hours of the storm. Their betrayal had led to a significant victory for the reoccupation, and a beachhead for further operations. The shifts of perception and priority among the infected had remained for days after exposure. There had been few casualties. Now the world was turning loyal. Black sandstorms covered the planet. The Profusion had just found a new way of war.
Maybe that’s why, the third time, I don’t leave after service. Still another priest approaches, a pregnant woman clearly in the first years of her adulthood. “Everyone should have a choice, yes?” she says, and I nod as though I know what she’s talking about. She picks up the bread and wine she carried over. “But how can you choose,” she said, “if you don’t know?” She tips the basket and winks as she pours wine into a glass from a silver carafe.
“I’m not supposed to do this,” she says as she dips the bread in the wine. “But then, I suppose, you probably aren’t either.” She presses a single finger to my lips as I gulp down the saturated bread.
And I understand why these people devote so much time to personal stories, and why they take their food from a common source. The wine isn’t just wine. I feel the memory nanites working through my blood as soon as the bread goes down my throat. And then I know the pregnant woman’s memories, walking through days of her in moments. I laugh. By the Profusion. The Church of Blood are running around with some bastardized version of the military’s instruments of oversight. And they aren’t telling their own stories, they’re telling each other’s. I laugh and leave, not knowing what to do.