From the author: When a civilization is built upon war, peace brings the greatest destruction of all.
The Fortress of Omn hums in the heart of a cumulonimbus cloud. We are the warriors who bring the lightning and the storms. "A cold front," say the duped meteorologists on the surface world below. The warpath, say we.
Every generation has its radical philosophers, but mine has the deadliest. "Why must we live so brutally?" they argue, in grand halls of ice and dark. "Why worship chilling tempests? Why not gentleness and warmth?"
Our unspent lightning piles up. My comrades, the dwindling few who believe in the nobility of toil, die from overwork, slinging hail. Their mourners are even fewer, and finally, it's just me.
The elders are dead. A much younger council replaces the old. "For peace!" is their rallying cry. They unfurl a new world order, a new way of living, and my fear stings like hail. Our cumulonimbus leaves rich waters. They steer us over the desert. "For Omn!"
The arid wind eats like acid. In hours, Omn crumbles and dissolves.
I'm plummeting now--we all are--but our screams are only so much lightning, and the surface world will never know.
When it rains over desert, the drops evaporate before they even strike the ground.
This story originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction.