By living Streams among the Trees of Life,
Pavilions numberless, and sudden reard,
Celestial Tabernacles, where they slept
Fannd with coole Winds, save those who in thir course
Melodious Hymns about the sovran Throne
(Ancient Terran poet, Paradise Lost, Book V, 667.M2)
Crataegus Fragmentum. 994.M41
Above him the thorny spire disappeared into a carpet of thick fog that covered the immense forest cathedral around him. Faint rays of light shone through from the branched arches of the bioluminescent canopy high above occasionally illuminating the exhaust vapour that danced slowly around him towards the moist cathedral floor reminding him of water flies when they in great swarms migrated from the foggy treetops of Tor Huath to the water filled streams far below during Dusktide. He could feel a cool breeze coming in from the procession hall where the Elder Ones had met a fortnight ago. It was caressing his barked skin like a dear friend bidding him a final farewell as if the moon itself was mourning his coming departure.
Standing there bathed in the fading bioluminescence of the world around him his memories drifted into the fog high above. He had walked the sacred holloways of the thorn moons for what felt like aeons. He had first arrived as a young Apexist to Crataegus Fragmentum on board one of the last Genetor Explorator Fleets that made it safely to the thorn moons before an insurgence of warp storms had cut off contact with the Great Priesthoode many years ago. Upon his arrival the thorn moons had already been gene-crafted into living machine shrines of moon-spanning electrochemical transistors and bio-conduits celebrating the ancient trees of Crataegus Fragmentum. Since then he had risen to priesthood himself and his life had been a repeating cycle of aging and rejuvenation tapping into the biomechanical cycles of the thorn moons themselves.
Together with the Elder Ones he had overseen the gene-crafting of the biomechanical thorn trees that now made up the main structure in the network of forest cathedrals and shrines on the thorn moon surrounding him. From the first protoxylem so many years ago to the bio-enhanced metaxylem and phloems that made large-scale bioengineering possible. But now the time for a much larger transformation was fast approaching. The human and his team had arrived to Crataegus Fragmentum from beyond the warp storms a few decades ago. Apparently, they had charted a safe passage through the dangerous storms bringing with them a priceless cargo: The fabled Daerwynne Palimpseste. Written and rewritten for millennia it proved the biological link between the original life forms of Crataegus Fragmentum and the life forms of the Sol System. It charted the evolution of life as it had occurred on an interstellar scale and heralded that the time of great transformation was fast approaching. His studies of the palimpsest had made him realise that what the first Genetor Explorator Fleets set in motion on the thorn moons of Crataegus Fragmentum so many millennia ago was about to stand the greatest of trials: The inevitable transformation of the broken Golden Throne into the Green Seat of the Emperor Reborn…
From Throne to Thorne…
Apart from the faintly hissing choir of transistors and bio-conduits the thorny world around Sverre Arrheniusse was quiet. But nutrients, sugars and gene-extracts were roaring through the xylem of his limbs like a raging river of reinvigorated life. He could feel it reverberate through the valley of ancient Haw trees and took a final deep breath, let the carbon dioxide fill his lungs like a gust of fresh wind and, as he slowly exhaled, felt the leftover oxygen leave his lungs. He savoured the feeling one last time as he walked on board the Anaxaegoras.