it was all he could do to not cry. That didn’t mean that tears failed to spring from his eyes and run down his cheeks, but it did mean that he didn’t weep, wail or sob.
His stomach knotted itself and he burped as bile rose unbidden in his mouth. Not only was his mind rebelling at what he saw, but so was his body. It was as if it believed that it could vomit the moment away. That spewing the contents of his stomach would turn back the clock and restore normality.
He closed his eyes and took three deep breaths, trying to calm his stomach, trying to force his heart to slow, trying to stop the silent scream that threatened to rip its way out of his throat.
But still, they stood there. The twins. His pride and joy. His strong handsome son, and his strong beautiful daughter. His hand rose unbidden to his glorious top knot, the hair that hadn’t been cut since he was born, and that would only be cut once he was dead, returning him to the Womb of the Mother. None of those who worshipped the All Mother cut their hair. Man, woman, child. It mattered not.
The twins however. They stood there in the blood-red dress uniform of the Sworn. Their smiles, which had been proud and full of the confidence of the young were gone. Their eyes were wide as they stared at their wailing mother, and the tears that flowed down his cheeks into his full beard.
They were Sworn. Sworn to protect the faithful. Sworn to fight the enemies of the All Mother. Sworn to never retreat. Sworn to die in a literal blaze of glory as the freshly implanted units, those hideous boxes around which scar tissue still wept fluid, detected their death and detonated. His twins, his beautiful twins were dead, and yet they stood before him, confusion on their faces as their mother and father mourned.