Silence in the throne room, silence heavy like the drone of engines. Out from the throne, through the court, the city. Silence.

You have all died.

You had no time to regret, or fear, or reflect: you died not knowing you died. But your death concussed the country. The news is a fireball; the pictures overpressure. Your people tear themselves apart.

Shot of the Duke standing on the balcony, his face lined and streaked with tears. “He looks old,” your fathers say, and clench themselves like fists. Your mothers are silent; they have had to be strong for the cameras. The Duke speaks, his voice a wind down a dry canyon: “At 8:30 this morning contact was lost with the ship Persephone. Destruction was confirmed at 11:30. There were no survivors.”

In the dunes they are already rebuilding. Each engineer wears an armband high up on her arm; black for memory, red for mourning.