The workers’ revolution began on the hive’s nine hundred and third day, when the Hero pulsar was above the horizon to the north. A pod of predatory shaghāl emerged from behind a small asteroid to the west. The exhaust of their thrust was shielded by their bodies, but the point shines of their souls were visible to those in the colony who had souls. The shine was just slightly blue-shifting.
The skates were not ready. Only half the princesses were fueled in the launch tubes of the hive. Indecision washed over the colony. Skates and souls yelled over each other. Then, a thousand tiny reactions bloomed. The colony panicked. The flat, triangular skates hopped along the regolith in different directions on steely fingers.
Diviya stood above the rising dust, on a mound of mine tailings. He had been meeting with a half-dozen revolutionaries in the slums past the worker shanties. None of his revolutionaries possessed souls, so they could not see the shaghāl, but the panicked radio bursts from the hive alarmed them. Some thought that a squad of hive drones had found them.
“Oh no,” Diviya said.
“Flee!” Diviya’s soul crackled to him in the radio static. “Save the princesses!”
“Diviya, the revolution isn’t ready!” Tejas said. Tejas was a soulless worker, made of carbon-reinforced ceramic. He was triangular and flat, with a single, lightly abraded lens on the vertex of the leading edges of his wide fins. “The workers are not assembled.”
Hours away yet, the shaghāl split into two pods. The first pod of predators continued toward the hive. The second angled to intercept the migration, before it had even launched.
“The whole colony is already late,” Diviya said. “The revolution must happen now.”
Nearby, three skates hopped between the dusty mounds of mine tailings toward the hive. Their radioactive souls shone hot behind their eyes: tax farmers, coming from the farms to join the migration.
“We have only minutes,” Diviya said in a radio discharge. He felt sick with doubt. He led his followers forward.
The revolutionaries leapt upon the three tax farmers. Diviya screamed out his own fears. The violence against kin was surreal, matching the strange panic that exploded all over the colony as its last hours played out.
The tax farmers struggled, stirring graphite fines in the vanishing gravity of the asteroid. The revolutionaries pinned the tax farmers upside down. Their steel fingers waved uselessly and their mouths were exposed. Diviya’s conspirators held tight to the frozen subsurface.
The tax collectors cried out with crackling radio noise that carried far on the great asteroid. But while the colony was launching the migration, no one would notice. Too many hurried to save the princesses, the princes, and themselves.
In this chaos, the workers’ revolution could become real.
One of the three tax farmers appeared to be a landlord by the brightness of his soul. He was the most dangerous. Beneath the hardened carapace of boron carbide, his soul spattered the hard, energetic radiation from uranium and thorium, and the soft, diffuse glow from tritium and potassium. The landlord’s soul spoke frantically. Diviya’s soul was strangely quiet; it feared Diviya.
The landlord’s rows of short legs waved helplessly and he was hot. His soul heated the landlord’s whole triangular body. Although it was a sin to waste reaction mass, Diviya did not put it past the landlord to pour the stored volatiles over his soul, launching himself, and everyone on him, into orbit. They could not hold him if that happened.