Updated: Dec 18, 2020
From within his black sphere, the soldier contemplated the planet. He felt calm under the red glow of cabin’s lights. He had become calm over years of training. The training started by a pool; for a month he had sat watching the water, it was the clearing phase. He returned to this training, the most basic type, at the moment he prepared for his most difficult mission. The most simple thing had become essential at the highest level. He watched the planet as if it were a pool of water. He fancied that the oceans were rippling beneath him. He became indifferent and still.
His mission was destruction. He had been sent to end all life on the planet. The inhabitants down below, quite like the soldier above, distant cousins, did not know what was about to happen. Their lives were more primitive, not so enlightened—spiritually or materially—as life in the soldier’s civilisation. The holy books said: “A cut must be made for the whole to live.” It was not a crime to remove that which impeded life. Life itself is no justification. To pursue life for the sake of life would, paradoxically, make life not worth living at all. The soldier and his civilisation had made many cuts over time, and these cuts had made the cosmos a more ordered place.
The solider was dressed all in black. He was not a pleasant sight, but he had a certain beauty—a beauty that came from awe. He was like a waterfall or a forest fire or a great mountain. We feel the beauty of these things, but it is not the soft beauty of a dog or a young woman. It is the beauty of awe and the sublime. This topic, strange to relate, had been discussed by a philosopher from the planet below some centuries before. He would have stood in awe before the soldier.
On the soldier’s arm, there was a sphere with four arrows exploding outwards to the compass points: the insignia of chaos. The soldier’s civilisation was like an army. The army is an ordered force used to inflict chaos upon the enemy. When there is too much dead material about, the army must prune: chaos must be removed by a type of ordered chaos. This was the soldier’s duty; it was a duty that he performed indifferently. There was a taboo on attached action in this military. It was shameful for a man to kill out of envy or fear or hate. The soldier had to act with indifference, as if he were a white marble statue come to life. He executed the cosmic order with no regard for his own welfare. This was why the soldier kept thinking about the pool, back in his early days of training: when a man menaces an entire planet—an entire race—his ego expands upwards to reach the gods; and that is impiety.
The soldier pressed the buttons on his console and depressed a lever. The weapon detached itself from sphere and, according to his screens, was now armed. The soldier chanted a prayer. Beneath him, a mother gave birth and an old woman died and a child rolled on the grass. Inside the red cabin there was no sound, save the soldier’s chant. The weapon accelerated towards the planet. The soldier stopped his chant. There was nothing in his mind when the weapon made contact with the planet, wrapping it in a white orb. After an hour, the white cloud cleared. The soldier saw that the planet was blackened. The oceans and forests were gone, and even the deserts were black now. Balance had been restored to the cosmos. The soldier sat and examined his handiwork. He sent a report to his commander. Once it was acknowledged, he reached into his personal compartment and withdrew a knife. He sliced an artery. It was necessary, he had felt a moment’s satisfaction—and that was a gross sin against the cosmos.