Olympias Prana: A Biography (II)

Chapter VI: Betrayal of the lamb

Andie Lamb was born Assumpta II, the scion of a prominent exo-colony dynasty. Her grandmother, Assumpta I, had successfully negotiated the purchase of the Moon’s entire supply of platinum, which Andie’s mother, Assumpta II, expanded to also include manganese. Andie was raised on Earth, though she was expected, on a yearly basis, to make a pilgrimage to her grandmother’s gravesite, in the Sea of Serenity. She would have been familiar, therefore, with all the pleasures and terrors of space travel and habituation; she and Olympias had this, and other experiences, including the guardianship of troubled mothers, in common. In contrast to Olympias, however, Andie grew up with the expectations of a child of destiny. As the heir to the Lamb fortune, that she was predestined to one day govern the better half of the Moon’s resources and supervise their extraction, a fate for which Andie was prepared with the unfailing exactitude and fanatical diligence of a pious prince. But destiny had other goals in mind by 2251, when a once-formidable dynasty crumbled into the sea and its last daughter found herself buried in the darkness of civilization’s near-total collapse.

Olympias and Andie Lamb met at an indeterminate point halfway through the Black Decade, in what may be the most famous chance encounter in history. Andie and a man—his name has been lost to history, or perhaps purposefully obscured—had been sheltering in an abandoned meat-packing factory following the collapse of their bunker. After an acrimonious dispute, the man locked Assumpta III in a meat locker, presumably with the goal of suffocating her. Olympias had been on a foraging expedition at the time—one of her first aboveground—when, as if by divine intervention, she came across him in flagrante, in the very act of shoving the metal door to the locker closed, its rubber seal squelching, abruptly silencing Andie’s panicked screams. Olympias, ever quick to act and acutely sensitive to such injustice, wasted no time in gutting him with her quantum knife. Given the bloody circumstances of this meeting and the depth of their subsequent relationship, the relationship between Olympias and Andie has been variously described as “pure loyalty of a knight to a monarch,” “religious devotion akin to priest and follower,” and, by Baby Blood, the most reliable chronicler of the time, as “as ironclad as the bond between master and dog”. He might have chosen a different comparison had he been aware of what was to come.

(Caption below accompanying photograph of Brave Olympias Rescues, circa 2500). The same unknown painter who captured Olympias’s mental anguish in Brave Olympias Resists resurrected her once more in Brave Olympias Rescues: rendered again in vibrant oils, Olympias is at the height of heroism here, clothed in a black neoprene bodysuit, holding a taciturn man at knifepoint while Andie, wailing and maiden-like in a shredded white dress, clings to her leg. Though the painter doubtlessly added extra detail for dramatic effect, the gist is largely faithfully preserved.

The story of Olympias’s rescue of Andie has been called apocryphal; indeed, the veracity of no story from this time can be above question. However, the tale comes to us from Baby Blood and was related to to him, as with all his tales, by Olympias herself. Andie never offered her perspective; she was as secretive as Olympias was voluble, and her writing has not survived in any form. She may have known better than to record her thoughts. Olympias had no such reservations. From the day of their first meeting, Olympias wrote of Andie constantly. In her diaries, Andie is often described as a chimera: “half-cyclone, half-woman,” “…halfway between storm and woman,” “clouds and wind and flesh.” These comparisons have puzzled historians for centuries. Unlike her female forebears, Andie was not known to be mercurial or stormy of temperament. She was repeatedly described, by multiple different contemporaries, as calm, unflappable, even “laid-back”. The story of her rescue from the meat locker is the only story that features an emotional Andie, and was never widely shared during her lifetime. But perhaps, when Olympias wrote of Andie as a “storm,” she was drawing on her own experiences of adverse weather, which was likely limited to encounters with sand storms. While rarely dangerous, these storms would regularly submit the Martian habitations to cycles of the profoundest darkness. Unlike terrestrial storms, sand storms on Mars did not rattle frames nor shatter glass; instead, they extinguished every light. Beneath Andie’s aloof, even dour, nature, lay a maze of shadows.

When Olympias entered the Black Decade, she was barely older than a teenager; she had lost her mother and was functionally an orphan. She had no support network, no motivating cause, and no clear means of survival. By the end of the Black Decade, she had all three. Andie accompanied everywhere as her steely-eyed bodyguard: the dark yin to Olympias’s exuberant yang. Olympias trusted Andie Lamb with her life and was rewarded for this faith at least three known times. The third time, Andie led the expedition into President Tadpole’s own quarters to rescue Olympias from certain execution. What could possess a woman so devoted, then, to ultimately betray Olympias to President Tadpole in 2590?

Some historians have hypothesized that Andie was a sophisticated artificial humanoid, and thus a perfect vessel, once infiltrated, for the President’s plans. Olympias had, after all, at least three known android companions with treacherous devices in mind (see Annex 3). But this hypothesis strains credulity as Andie and Olympias met well before the development of Class 5 androids. Another explanation posits that Andie was recruited by President Tadpole during the bunkering years of the Black Decade, shortly after his AGI awoke; in this version of events, her “rescue” by Olympias would have been orchestrated by the President, and her plight at the hands of a would-be murderer an exercise in theater. These explanations—”android Andie” and “sleeper agent Andie”—while fringe, retain popularity among the public, because the alternative is that the President recruited Andie in mid-2580, at which point she would have already become Olympias’s closest companion. It is easier to believe that Andie did not possess a human heart than to believe she was persuaded, at the height of her dog-like devotion, to betray Olympias in a way that would lead to her annihilation.

Whatever the reason behind it, Andie Lamb’s ultimate defection to President Tadpole was so cruelly unexpected and so personally devasting to Olympias that for years later it would succeed in altering the accepted definition of “lamb” from the unsuspecting target of slaughter to its principal agent. Considering Olympias’s mixed reputation with the public, that general sympathies lay with her following the completion of the President’s plot is all the more striking. But the vividness of the betrayal also cemented Olympias’s legacy. As Polly Trunk once sang, in what was half-lament and half-warning: “Cherish the Lamb/Stay the blade/Her choice is your ascent/Stay the blade.” Andie’s betrayal transformed Olympias, in the aftermath of rebellion, from an ordinary insurgent to a scorned angel. The treachery committed against her made her untouchable.

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