I still have an image in my mind of how we were as kids. The three of us, and the six hundred and sixty six of us. A sea of little blond heads, with red, white, and black adrift in it. I doubt I could put it to paper; I wasn't very good at art.
Good thing it looks like the one photograph I have left. I'm not sentimental, but there it is on the desk. Him, me, and that other kid, and then all the Citrinitas standing behind us. I could write the caption to that picture; I still remember their names, from left to right. I know the numbers that went with that identical field of faces.
Do you remember?
I don't think so. They were mindless to you. Like me. You threw us away when we became inconvenient. Was that it? We were just a drain of resources. Of course you tossed us aside. Like dogs. Like dogs, we went rabid.
But the photograph doesn't say anything about that. Just the three of us, and the six-hundred sixty seven of us smiling placidly at the photographer. Look at all those identical little boys...
I still have an image.
The alarm peeps only once before dawn. He's the only one that wakes up, rolling over to peer with one violet eye at the digital clockface. Then he's out of bed, switching bedclothes for a uniform in his haphazard but quiet stumble to the bathroom.
He brushes his teeth, washes his face, runs his hands through his hair in a lick and a promise for a better brushing later. Then it's outside, gasping as the cool air hits his wet skin. His breath puffs in the pre-dawn gloom as he scrambles up onto the roof, settling himself facing east to wait.
For just a moment, he feels completely at peace, in unspoken and wordless communion with the world around him. It's not something he'll ever be able to explain, but it still drives him every morning to get up before the sun rises.
Years after the Miltian Conflict, Nigredo and Rubedo would always wonder why their waking dreams were no longer tinted with the colors of dawn.