The story begins with Pedra nju-Kisjeki. Pedra, daughter of Kisjeki.
Pedra is one of the Viðkan, the enslaved people living in suburbs outside the city-states on the planet Minze. Karatus-sub, the suburb outside the capital city, Karatus, has been her home for as long as she can remember.
All the Viðkan suffer in suburbs, which is the much-too-pretty term for death camps. All their lives are cut short by violence or illness.
Pedra’s position is no less precarious.
And yet, there is something different about Pedra. She can see the white flame—what you and I would call souls—inside the Viðkan people around her. The white flame of the god of genesis.
She can see that her own flame burns—not white—but red. The red flame of the god of death.
Seeing souls, though, isn’t a power. It’s a sense. There is something else.
Pedra does not only feel her own suffering. The gods have afflicted her with the curse to feel others’ pain. Her flame can shield her from the pain, at least somewhat. But if her flame fully shields her, she brings no relief to those who suffer around her, and if she casts the flame aside, she can take away their pain.
Now we know what Pedra is (in some sense), but who is Pedra?
A survivor. She has survived twenty-four years of suffering.
A fighter. What she doesn’t have in physical strength, Pedra makes up for with the strength of her mind and the power of her words.
All the Viðkan pray for freedom, but it is Pedra, not the gods, who will liberate them.
Why does Pedra toil unceasingly to save them? Perhaps she wants to end their suffering. Perhaps she wants to end her own.
Perhaps she is atoning for her past sins.
But, one thing is certain: the Viðkan will rise again. Pedra will restore them to their former greatness.
Even if it kills her.