23.1 \ 205

Wreckage like this, they had not seen on this planet up to this point. Nothing looked so ravaged; where things had been broken off, they were also growing again, but not here. Everything across this wide crater had been taken and scraped bare. After the places they’d seen, full of life and music, chambers of light and artistry, they could almost see what was lost here.

THIS WAS A PLACE WHERE WE BROUGHT OUR CHILDREN TO PLAY. IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN EXISTENCE. HERE WERE RARE LIVING TREASURES LOOKED UPON FOR GENERATIONS. IN THERE IS WHERE WE WILL HAVE OUR DISCUSSION.

The coterie of selected Aureny delegates accompanied the fielded freight sled that carried Soleil and the others who had come here aboard Drift X. As Aureny walk, it had taken them half a day to get here. The floating sled looked Vedani, sharing a few of Moonshadow’s characteristics. The Aureny seemed to carry nothing with them above ground.

THERE WAS A MASSACRE, AT FIRST. WHEN WE REALIZED THEY WERE UNWILLING TO TALK BUT WILLING TO KILL, AND THAT WE COULD NOT STOP THEM, WE STAYED AWAY. WE HAVE SINCE ENSHRINED OUR REMAINS. FOR NOW, THEY ARE GONE, AND WE WANT NO MORE OF THIS. SO WE HAVE ALLIED WITH OTHERS WHO HAVE SIMILAR MESSAGES TO DELIVER TO THE SOURCE OF OUR GRIEVANCES.

“The Pan-Galactic Imperium,” intoned Soleil, head bowed introspectively. Rosy Glow, channeling all this communication, floated petal-eyes half shut inside a whirl of her favorite colors of light. Derringer, Wendel, and Toller observed.

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