Welcome to the final day of the Stories from Guan-Yu event – winners will be announced Monday! Today’s track, “Ice of Phoenix” is off Audiomachine’s most recent public release, Phenomena. Composed by Paul Dinletir, Phenomena was brought to life by 180 musicians in the heart of Air Lyndhurst Studio in London, with the powerful beat of 10 concurrent percussionists, a compelling choir of 80 voices and the commanding force of a 90 piece orchestra. Charged with emotional depth, Phenomena will capture the imagination and complement the core of every story.
I did not hear “Ice of Phoenix” until I was done with the edits of Crucible—but as you listen, I’m sure you will understand how it became one of my favorites at once. This is a track of the beautiful things in ourselves we fight to protect, and the aspects of our souls that we most fear—and the inevitable collision of the two. Vasiliy, a Lieutenant Commander within the human fleet, struggles to make sense of the fact that fellow soldiers carried out a massacre on civilians they had sworn to protect. Still unsure of their motivations, he must come to terms with the devastation wreaked on a human colony, by humans, and he will also come face to face with the most terrifying enemy humanity has yet seen.
Vasiliy is a man who will hold the future of the human race in his hands, who will know what it is to fear humanity and yet give up everything to save it…
“There’s never a weapon that makes warfare better!” Rossi slammed her hand down on the table. “There are only ones that make it worse.”
“Does it matter how terrible this war is, if we win it?” Finally, Vasiliy shouted back. “Because that is the only way we are going to survive as a species.”
“Yes! Think a moment. What happens after we win? Do you think those experiments, on the very slim chance that they have survived, will be left to their own devices with a thank you and a medal, and we’ll never try to make weapons like that again? No. They’ll be unleashed on us, one way or another.”
“The League would never do that.”
“They would. It would be stupid not to. You take the best weapon the world has ever seen, a weapon that ends wars quickly, and it would be foolish to cast it away. Think of what would have happened in the Atollan War if we’d had soldiers like this, think of the lives that could have been saved by quicker battles, blockades taken out. And in any case, it would be wrong to kill them all once they were made. Immoral, don’t you think? So think a little farther, Commander Chagaev. How do you keep a race of very smart, very savage humans so loyal to you that they walk into danger on your orders without question, but sit quietly and do not interfere with the populace when there’s no enemy to fight? Do we keep them in pens when they’re not savaging our enemies? Do you truly think we can make any cage or argument that will hold them back?”
He knew the answer she wanted, and he knew she was right. He remembered Anatu’s voice: You don’t make any sense. How long until they decided, and perhaps rightly, that the rest of humanity did not have the right to rule themselves? How far—his blood chilled—could one of them get in the halls of parliament, alone, against all of the guards? What would Anatu be capable of when she was old enough to fight?
What would she be capable of now?
“No matter how bad things get now,” Rossi said quietly, “we are still human against human. The world is not just and it is not fair, but we have the chance to make it so. We can still topple unjust governments. We can free political prisoners. We have made the world over in our own image a dozen times, when politics and judges have failed us. If we unleash this on our world, no matter how good the intentions, we will destroy our society. They don’t fit, they rewrite the rules. Society functions as it is because we are who we are. They are not that. They are different.”
“I can’t believe that they are only that.”
“Then let me tell you what I believe, Commander—I believe that if we cannot defeat the Henth without making a mockery of humanity, then we should be proud to lay down our lives and die as we are, for there will be no benefit to us in winning—humanity will already be lost. We are not toys, and we are not machines. You cannot tinker with life and have no harm come of it. I know you cannot look me in the eye and say those children are normal, you know there is something wrong with them.
“I fear their brutality because I fear even the brutality of other humans. My father went away to war and his body returned to us, but his soul never came back. And that was humans like us, Chagaev! Humans who feel. What horrors do you think we will make with humans that cannot empathize? They won’t even understand what they’re doing—you’re giving guns to children, who cannot understand life and death, and you tell me how that will end. You do not breed a weapon with a human face. It is wrong. And it is wrong to make a human with a twisted mind and no soul. It cannot be, I will not allow it. It has been given into my hands to decide, and if it is my lot to go to my grave with the deaths of two children on my hands, then so be it. I will do it. Because the alternative is immeasurably worse. It is a light burden after the one Sandoval took.
“So do you want me to fight the Henth? I will. I will sacrifice myself for it, I will sacrifice any person on this ship, but I will not—I will not—sacrifice what we are! It showed me the depths of my own darkness and I will never let it turn me into that! I believe that we can defeat it without taking innocent children and turning them into soldiers, and I believe we can do it without creating a monster that we cannot control. That is no more a weapon than a wild dog.
“I believe that the time is long past for you to believe in fairy tales, and so help me God, if you do not agree with me, you have two choices: turn me in and let me hang for it when we reach port, or keep your peace, for I swear to you, if you try to keep me from doing what I must, I will airlock you with them. Do you understand me?”
Vasiliy stumbled out of the room, leaned against the wall, and shook. The blackness was there. It was waiting for him.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into the world of Crucible, and enjoyed Audiomachine’s beautiful track! To enter for a chance to win a signed copy of the album, as well as a signed copy of Crucible, leave a comment below! Today is your last day to enter, and winners will be announced Monday, June 16!
Juuuuust in case you missed the free download from kickoff day, click HERE to download Solace and Brain Mismatch, two of Audiomachine’s industry releases, for free!