Kemet, Desher

Many years later, the historians would call him Yadom the Crenelator.

His many castles towered over the rugged, iron-rich landscape, yet served no military purpose.

Rather, they were emblems of his power over the land, over the pipelines flowing through the frigid, bone-dry desert, over the multitude whose lives he burdened.

A cannon would have pierced his walls, a missile flattened them, but there were none such on this world. Who would confront the master of the automated pumping stations that carried life from the frozen poles?

In the light of each new day, the sun reflected off of the transparent, pressurized greenhouses that kept humanity alive.

Overseers, little removed from the serfs themselves, ignored the growing piles of white saltpeter crystals, painstakingly refined from ponds of human and animal waste. Nitrates are fertilizer, after all, vital for the crops that fed all. Then again, those same overseers quietly gathered cellulose from old cotton clothes and from the fibrous bark of fruit trees. And every greenhouse, despite severe restrictions on fires, had its own innocuous pile of carbonized plant matter. Everyone knew the ancient recipe: sulfur, carbon, potassium nitrate, although none would have admitted it.

In the temporary hush of the noon, the serfs ate their daily meal, and quietly recited their history to their children: “We were Princes once, rulers in the Old World, wealthy beyond human ken. The Founder lead us here, but the bitter cold of this world ate our freedom, ate our wealth, and left us only ashes in return.”

In the bright light of the afternoon, the serfs set aside a mouthful of their personal water allotment for the ornamental cactii that all kept. To any who asked, these were symbols of their relationship to the desert, but a cactus could also store precious reserves of water for the day that must finally come.

In the ruddy sunset, in all of the domes and hypogean tunnels of Yadom’s frozen world, ancient speakers crackled to life with the daily sermon. As on all days, a reading from the works of Saint Banks. On feast days, this was followed by a shorter reading from Saint Adams.

And in the twilight, the preacher signed off with the catechism, while in every dwelling, the masses recited along:

Glory to Yadom, who rules from Valley to Mountain.
Glory to Yadom, who conveys water to the desert.
Glory to Yadom, who enlightens our world.
A curse on the benighted masses of the Old World.
A curse on their rulers.
Glory to the Founder, who brought us to this world.
Glory to the Founder, who lived out his days here.
Glory to the Founder, who did not die on impact.