Zhange's Sandbox of Gay
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The ceremony takes place in a Mekhanite church, vast and glowing with the light of thousands of golden clockworks. White rose petals float through the air, punctuated by hymns praising forgiveness and prosperity. Ion awaits at the altar with Hedwig, overlooking a sea of faithful sparkling with metal and tears of joy. Sunlight diffracts through his tentacles to make fiery lights dance across his black robes and smiling features. Prompted by a loud gasp from the crowd, he turns towards the door, all four eyes widening in excitement.

The priest of metal emerges, radiant in white robes, face hidden under a veil embroidered with clockworks. An armored Trunnion holds his arm, her own cogs whirring with pride as she leads the procession down an aisle of scattered flowers. A group of cherubic Mekhanite and Nälkä children follow, lifting the train of Bumaro’s skirts and releasing a flurries of crystalline birds into the air.

After what feels like an eternity of anticipation, Ion is joined by Bumaro on the high altar. He is close enough to see the slight tremor in his lover’s metal hand as he holds his hammer and smell the faint fragrance of oil and myrrh incense on his veil. "You look beautiful."

Bumaro raises his head, and Ion can detect a smile even through the frosty satin. "So do you."

Hedwig waves to silence the crowd, then begins in her pleasing electronic voice.

“For eons, flesh and metal have been divided, their gods at war beyond the realms of time and space. And for millennia, we, faithful to their teachings, have followed blindly in their cosmic conflict, bringing countless tragedies and horrors upon this earth.”

She scans the crowd, then the faces of the two devoted. “Yet our ancestors forgot that our gods were joined in the beginning, in the immemorial past when the universe was at peace. They were the two halves of creation- birth and entropy, intelligence and instinct, machine and organism. From this fabric was our universe woven, and from this union did all of life bloom.”

“Now, we stand witness to a new bond, one which will repair the fissure between us like the last gear in a clockwork machine, or medicine for a wound left to fester for too long. This is the holy love that will raise a brighter dawn, a synthesis of metal and flesh, and a union blessed by the stars to bring peace to the cosmos!”

The gathered cultists cheer deafeningly. In the shimmering rain of petals, the Grand Karcist smiles gently down at his lover and takes his hand, cool brass in warm flesh.

Ion begins the ritual words, soft as the distant stars. “I, Grand Karcist Ion, take you, Robert Bumaro, Builder of the Broken God, to be my sacred husband. I will protect you against all enemies, anomalous or ordinary, in this dimension or the next, in blood and pain, health or decay, until my day of death. Under the many eyes of Yaldabaoth, here do I proclaim my vow.”

Bumaro responds, a hint of passion permeating his metallic voice. “I, Robert Bumaro, Builder of the Broken God, take you, Grand Karcist Ion, to be my sacred husband. I will remain by your side against all enemies, heretical or faithful, in this eon or the next, in suffering and joy, hope or despair, until my day of deactivation. Under the sacred clockworks of Mekhane, here do I proclaim my vow.”

Hedwig motions for Jack Sparks to bring up a large brass box. “Does anyone object?”

“WE DO!”

The crowd of muttering cultists part for a GOC Strike team who flood into the church with assault rifles aimed at the altar. Ion's eyes narrow dangerously. Before he can banish them all to a nightmare dimension, he is stopped by Bumaro's light touch on his arm.

Bumaro whispers a few words into Ion's ear, causing his face to soften into a smile. "Alright, anything for you."

With the wave of a hand, tentacles burst from the ground, catching the Strike agents off-guard and pinning them to the walls in fleshy prisons. Bumaro looks at them in pity.

"It was wrong of you to interrupt us," he explains to their leader as if addressing a misbehaving altar boy, "so you must repent for your sins by helping out with decoration."

The screech of warping steel comes from the Strike leader's gun. He opens his mouth to scream but immediately catches sight of his comrades, all of whom now hold lovely metal bouquets.

"And please call off your Foundation friends." Bumaro gestures out at the sky, where a few hovering dots are desperately trying to avoid detection. "I would not enjoy spilling the blood of your people on this day."

The Strike leader nods stiffly and begins to mutter commands into his com. Satisfied, Bumaro returns his attention to the ceremony. “Apologies, Hedwig, please proceed."

The Maxwellist saint opens the box, revealing two circlets laying side by side. One is of crafted bone and adorned with glowing red veins, the other silver and shimmering with crystals.

“You may exchange halos.”

Bumaro lifts his veil and a delicate face of uncanny beauty gazes up at Ion. He takes the metal halo and places it over Ion’s head, making the Sarkite tremble at its cool touch. Ion brushes aside strands of white hair and sets the bone halo down, marveling at how the paleness complements Bumaro’s already angelic colours.

Hedwig smiles and raises her hands, as if announcing the dawn of a new epoch. “You may kiss the groom.”

Without hesitation, Ion pulls Bumaro into his embrace and brings their lips together. The world melts away in the sensation of the priest’s smaller body pressing into his, brass augmentations grinding against warm flesh through layers of religious regalia. A million suns burn and die in that moment, and the existence of reality becomes ephemeral compared to each other.

When they finally break apart, the thunderous cheering and applause of their believers assaults their ears. Ion lifts his blushing lover into a bridal carry, making his way down the aisle in a shower of flowers and blessings. Bumaro, snuggling into his arm, asks demurely, “Where are we going now?”

“We’ve had fun in your church, and now it’s time to visit mine.” Ion’s grin turns devilish, “and you know what we’ll be doing there in front of everyone.” The Nälkä are famous for their creativity in bed.

Bumaro grows even more flustered but nods in eagerness. As they emerge into the outside world, the sky breaks into a dazzling spectacle of prismatic light, as if the universe itself is congratulating this marriage.

Far above in the cosmic chambers beyond time, Mekhane and Yaldabaoth dance among constellations, their newfound infatuation making the dimensions ring out in joy. The world is harmonious once more, and a brighter age arrives with the holy union of flesh and metal.

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