The fungus was burning, ancient strands of consciousness curling up in the flames and floating away as ashes. Even with the ocean so near, the heat stung Cha Dawn and the smoke scorched his lungs, but Planet's pain seared more than his own.

This destruction was more wilful than the humans' usual assaults. Humanity was ignorant, but he would teach them yet. Those who refused to learn would be scourged, the tables turned. Cha Dawn fought for Planet, which was why the Hive soldiers were hunting him.

Being persecuted was part of a prophet's job description.

Acolyte River slipped on the wet fungus, pitching Cha Dawn violently forward, but he remained on the man's shoulders. "Prophet, I must offer my deepest apologies." Fear and exhaustion were clear in River's voice.

"You are absolved." Cha Dawn did the gesture. "Keep faith and walk on." The latter was directed at all his remaining cult. There were more dangerous things among the fungus than slippery footage. Mind worms swarmed through the thicket, striking against those who would defile Planet, slowing his pursuers. But some of his followers had lost faith and been destroyed for it.

The tidal pools became ever more frequent, and deeper. Soon they would reach the sea, but merely because the land stopped did not mean that the fungus did. Gods were not so limited. The mind of Planet spanned oceans and continents, it was the world.

About half an hour of slow and splashing progress later, they reached the water's edge. "What now, Prophet?" Worm Brother Samuels asked.

Cha Dawn closed his eyes and focused on Planet, trying to feel its will. "We wait here and ask for guidance." The soldiers would not find their small group that quickly among the stinging smoke, dense fungus and roiling mind worms, particularly not with night falling, but the Hive had won this round. Planet was powerful, but it thought on a different scale than humans. "I need to touch the ground." River knelt, letting him clamber down.

Cha Dawn stared out across the darkening ocean. The primary sun would set soon and Hercules was not positioned to give them light. Hercules was a ridiculous name, given by humans capable of seeing things only from their own, selfish perspective. Humans would kill Chiron if left to their own devices, but the second sun brought light and warmth. The native life flourished. Humans who couldn't bow to it deserved death. He was Planet's child, its instrument.

Singing a wordless tune as he felt it come to him through the fungus, Cha Dawn waded into the surf. The water was cold, and the salt stung where a bullet had grazed him, but he walked on until he was immersed up to his waist. His people followed him in, though he gave no command. Some went silently, others tried to imitate his song. The most sensitive ones understood and added their impressions to the harmony.

Wave after wave washed against them, each going a little higher than the last. The ocean turned orange as the sun set, then faded to blackness. Singing became difficult as the cold set in and his limbs became numb, as the water reached Cha Dawn's chest and the tides carried salty spray against his face.

Tears were starting to prickle when he sensed a shape on the horizon, gliding towards them. Cha Dawn pushed himself off the sea floor and swam towards it, no longer caring what his human followers did. He flailed through the water, swallowing some as he struggled to keep his head above the waves. None of it mattered. He was getting closer to his destination, and his destination was coming for him.

With his last strength he grabbed it, pulling himself against the isle of the deep. The outer layers of the organism brushed gently against his face. Knowing what to do, he let go again. The isle submerged for a moment, then surfaced again with him on it.

His soaked robes clung to his body, his limbs ached, Dawn of Planet was destroyed, but Planet still supported its champion. Cha Dawn lay down on his back and laughed. The stars glistened above and in the periphery of his vision, he could see his followers climb onto the isle.

The End