Following oneshot is based on Sol: Exodus by Seamless Entertainment. It was a pleasant surprise to see a space-sim finally be announced after all these years, even if it is a bit dumbed down in game mechanics.

Scorched Earth

"Why do you run? God's arms are wide open to forgive your transgressions."

Shakira Marquez could think of numerous ways to answer that question, not to mention not bringing (insert deity of choice here) into the conversation. Such methods ranged from "I'd like to get home" to "I don't want to spend another moment in the presence of religious fanatics." In the end though, she didn't say anything to the Children of Dawn preacher. The cult was popping up everywhere across the Solar System and Mars Orbital-03 was no exception. And if living on a sterile space station hanging over a lifeless world had taught Shakira anything, it was that word travelled fast, and if you wanted to avoid that, it was best not to say anything at all.

"Look out to Earth, my child. Scorched barren by the fires of the atom-..."

"By us, not by...well, whatever."

It seemed moot for the CoD to invoke a deity of any kind, all things considered. The nearing destruction of Sol wouldn't be some battle between good and evil, or transition to the next life, but rather the "purging" of humanity from the galaxy. Why said rapture was only contained to a single star was a question that few raised, and that subspace warp technology had already been successfully carried out with the deep space exploration ships launched twenty-one years ago, it seemed that Armageddon was lying down on the job. Heck, if it wasn't for the sun defying centuries of scientific belief, its projected lifespan of billions of years cut down to a few hundred, Shakira doubted the CoD would have a case at all.

"Listen, my child, for your soul may yet be-..."

"Oh, fuck off!"

That was it. The trump card. The final battle between science and fanaticism...and a long wait for an elevator to take her to the habitation deck.

"Listen to me..." said Shakira slowly, meeting the gaze of the elderly man that had probably been born in orbit of Uranus and no doubt had something up his own rear namesake. "I don't know what asteroid you've been living on, all your life, or whether you're aware that we were the ones that left Earth uninhabitable, or that it was we that got a few hundred years warning on Sol's death, or that it was we who sent ships to find a new home. But why you've made the sudden conclusion that our destiny is to be exterminated in a system-wide shockwave-..."

"I did not make the decision," the man intoned, tapping on The Book of Sol as if to prove his point. "Those ships that ventured into the dark...only oblivion awaits them. Oblivion that we too must face for our wickedness. We have despoiled Earth...we have despoiled its star system..."

"Oh look, my ride's here."

The doors opened, and thankfully, they were full. No room for fanatics, thank you very much.

"Repent, my child, repent! Think of the sun god who-..."

The doors closed. And so did the window into madness.

Supposing it is true...Shakira wondered, sharing and understanding smirk with a boy her age at the loonies that were showing up in greater numbers. Which sun god though?

UCS rule had diluted human culture, but elements remained. Enough elements that for all Shakira knew, the CoD might be invoking anything from Tonatiuh to Surya for all she knew. And she also had to wonder, supposing again that the CoD was speaking the truth...well, why now? Earth was dead. Humanity would probably go extinct by itself unless contact was made with the exploration ships. And death by starvation would be a far less pleasant way to go than being incinerated by a solar shockwave.

Then again, as the next nine years would reveal, the Children of Dawn would find plenty of other ways to make death as unpleasant as possible...