Another dead day rose upon the world of Armageddon. It was not a true dawn, for the sky had long ago been choked and burned away by the smoke and fumes that poured daily from the massive forge-cities dotting the scorched landscape, permitting no true sunlight into the view of the population. It was a dawn nonetheless, and the cities slowly came back to full life. Massive factories began to pour out terrible clouds of noxious gas and lights flickered on all across the world. Gargantuan train systems began to roll out on their rusting metal tracks across the world. Titanic machines began to vent steam and groaned as they wrenched themselves into their patterns of work and toil for yet another day. The people, little ants within their massive hive, began to shuffle out of their small abodes that were more akin to jail cells than true homes. They shuffled towards their allotted tasks with a dour silence and grim determination. None of them looked up at the choked and blackened sky, they all knew what would await their view. Nothing more than towering spires and smokestacks, and even if they managed to see through a miniscule crack in the ancient rusting buildings the view of the outside world was no better. To any person from off world this whole scene would seem incredibly Orwellian and hopeless but to the shuffling population this was an utterly normal day, because on Armageddon the sun never rose and very little ever changed. Every day the same machines would groan to life. The same factories would churn out the same murderous pollution. Only the amount of metal covering the planet would change, and even this changed glacially. Today was exactly like any other. The armed guards grasped their rifles in their hands as they watched the crowds stumble by for another day of murderous toil. All of these men were loathed and despised, but exuded such an aura of fear that none dared challenge. Few people knew why they had to be armed as if they were prepared to go to war to watch disenfranchised and broken workers but they clenched their weapons regardless. They glowered through helmets shaped like hellions and devils with glowing red eyes, gripping their rifles with the determination of men who had more heroic jobs than demolishing the spirit of people who had little to live for as it was. A few of the downtrodden populace finally had enough of the normal grind of every day life upon this hellish rock and ran at the guards screaming for blood. With a few well-aimed and precise shots every last one of the dissenters crumpled to the floor. They shouted out a few commands through their distorted masks and fired a few more shots into the crowd. The gesture was utterly pointless. The people were broken as it was, and required no coaxing to continue with their lives. Those that had glanced at the grim spectacle simply kept moving along, for they had no real other options. It was nothing new, and was no real reason to disrupt the flow of the hive. “Return to your work posts now.” Crackled out one of the guards, the helmet he wore vastly distorting his pointless message. “We will not hesitate to open fire again. I repeat, return to your work posts immediately.” With a few muffled mutters and grumbles the crowds continued to move along, no one giving a single glance back at the crumpled corpses next to the small squad of guards. They saw this dark slaughter every day, why should today be any different? This minor massacre was just a small little footnote in the casualties of the day. Many more thousands would die in the machines, and other miniscule tragedies amongst the crushing hive. And no one would stop for these either. The crowds of workers eventually reached their designated factories and began their day of toil. Fires and smoke began to erupt from the dragon maws of the pipes and tubes protruding from the hive. Acidic rain began to fall with a soft pitter-patter upon the rusted ceiling of the hive and continued it’s slow process of eating away the shelter of the poor souls beneath. Inside the black factories the workers attempted to speedily awaken the ancient machines from their slumber once more, to do the lords of Armageddon’s bidding. They woke begrudgingly, grinding gears and gnashing cogs as they tore themselves from a peaceful period of rest. Molten slag began pouring into gargantuan vats and began its quick process into becoming another pile of shells for the armies Armageddon fed. Thousands of tons of ammunition were manufactured on this world, and none of the workers ever asked where the product of their toil always went. It was simply made clear to them that they needed to make this as a vital effort for a cause they were not supposed to understand. The day wore on as it always did, with a few of the luckier ones dying in a horrific accident and their replacement’s swift arrival. A few more people fought back against this oppression, usually throwing themselves into the machines for a swift and relatively painless death. This was the only thing to ever slow down the production line, and always resulted in a fresh wave of tyranny against those who had to pay for their comrade’s sanity. The guards often took a sick pleasure in this display of power, stalking through the lines and seeing those who were too apathetic to quiver in the face of their dominance. Any who did so were promptly dragged out and gruesomely executed in front of the whole crowd. Only the guards really seemed to care however, the rest of the workers simply too concerned with returning to their tasks as if they were nothing more than mindless automatons. As the day wound to a close the workers all turned off their machines in unison, all other thoughts forgotten except for those of rest. The machines happily obliged them, shutting down with much more speed and silence than when they were forced into life again. Throngs of people shuffled out of their factories and packed together again for the march back to their cells. They walked much more slowly than they had before, clearly strained and exhausted from another tortuously long 15-hour day. This was all they knew, it was all they could know. Should they learn of the surrounding planets, filled with lush environments and not just burnt rock and ash, they would soon rebel. Those who watched over the planet knew this, and so kept their populace in torturous ignorance. They continued to assure them that soon everything would be better, and all of their toil would be of great gain to them. This was naught but a lie of course. Those who watched over the suffering populace knew that nothing on Armageddon ever truly changed. And nothing ever would.
November 4, 2011