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The Burden of Triumph
by Samuel Marzioli
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My predecessor's genetic memory strands decode and transfer into me. A thousand generations'
worth of experiences, memories and instincts all cram into my mind during the brief span of my
gestation. Thoughts come, spinning tapestries from the chaos, slowly forming meaning out of the
incoherence. I open my eyes and, for a moment, the past merges with the present.
I see the home world, Des Ar Kreon. I see the colonies of my kind living within the technologized
cracks and crevices on the planet's rocky surface, gazing toward the stars. I see my ancient
predecessor and his kin. They board our first starships, risking their ancestral lines to extend our
hunting grounds and birthplaces into the distant recesses of space.
And then . . . there's nothing.
Though there is much to learn, my body is too weak to contend with it now. As my eyes close,
the words of my immediate predecessor echo in my mind: Beware the bipedal meats, my spawn.
Though their bodies are soft and their movements slow, they're more dangerous than they
I arch my head in acceptance of his words, settling into a deep and restful sleep.
My eyes open again, but there's only darkness, wet, soft and embracing. My muscles loosen and
my limbs spread that I may get a better sense of my surroundings. With the receptors on the tips
of my teeth, I probe the surface of my holding place until its sweet scent rushes in.
Sustenance. Intoxicating meat.
I clack it up, swallow every inch, every barrier and rise up through the shredded remnants into an
artificial light. The light punches into the still-delicate surface of my retinas, inducing a blur that
renders the room around me a mystery. There is no pain inside, but I scream. Scream to release
the blood from my lungs. Scream to stretch my larynx, to hear the sound of it quaver in my ears.
Scream to announce my ascendency into life like my every predecessor has done before me. For
a second, I see our unbroken line of birth and rebirth extending back to our origins on Des Ar
Kreon, and I scream again to celebrate our triumph.
A bloated-throat noise erupts from behind me, some undulating bellow that I cannot comprehend.
I turn to confront the sound. Bodies clarify, revealing twin-set eyes; jaws hang wide, exposing
stunted teeth, flat and harmless; and all of it rests upon the bodies of six endomorphic bipeds. All
of them meat. All of them sustenance.