53.4 \ 235

“I have my update on dragonslayers.” General Claymore took the opening with his top item. “Alisandre Capital has Gerund Aley, the one resident proven. Upon your prompting, Your Eminence, the council decided that it might be wise for each Federet to have a short roster at the ready. A simple request, but tricky to fulfill, since this particular martial art had nearly disappeared under disapproval. Not a lot of people in this generation have dedicated even a portion of their lives to this pursuit; dragonslayers are scarce now, and difficult to find.

“That’s partly due to the mood of distrust they create which hinders our draconid relations, intrinsic to the lives of so many. Where we’ve instated more sanctioned dragonslayer positions, the Dragons become obviously more removed from interaction, where they might otherwise be busy. Those many who agreed to uphold the Viridian Phasing continue to do so on a priority basis.” Claymore drew breath to continue, then just slowly let it out.

53.3 \ 235

“The emergent cultural wave I’ve been observing might frame these occurrences within an interesting perspective,” said the other city official.

“Go ahead, Roznmyk,” said the King Proxem.

“Viewing the portal images in deadzone neighborhoods has understandably become an obsession. I’m aware, on all the obvious levels, of what’s going on, though my viewpoint is restricted to my position. I’m sharing anything from the wildest and most furtive speculation that has crossed my awareness, after making it my particular interest. I really feel like this would spill out better if I could pace around in front of you – may I?”

“That sounds fine,” said the General. The King Proxem nodded.

She straightened her sensible ensemble as she got up and moved to block the view. “This is just more like the posture I use when connecting items on wallboards, and I may ramble because that’s what it’s like coming up with these things. So excuse the fervor, it accompanies the thought pattern.”

“People believe that the Strangers – this is the popular name for the nonhuman figures in the grainy images – that they’ve made contact with humans several times.” Roznmyk paced gently and ordered her thoughts from behind an internal gaze. “It’s been posited that the reason many technologies were shut down on the advent of intrusive communications is because they were invented at least partially by, or originated from, the Strangers, who apparently retain superior command of them.”

“A number of conclusions are being bandied around. There is a theory with strong supporters that we are related to the Strangers, somehow. This is in contrast with those discussing specific times in recent history when there may have been contacts which precipitated captive experimentations akin to xenophobic torture, which gave them projections of intolerable aggression if that were allowed to continue, which set them on a course toward these events.” Roznmyk took a deep breath with a couple blinks, gathering her thoughts to continue. “Some say the Strangers were in contact with people of Hirylien just before HA235 decimated the planet.” She glanced at King Vario, who was holding a fist in front of his set mouth. “That this may have been a reason for using a bioweapon to suppress the populace.” She shook her head to continue. “They know we can hurt them. They’re not working alone.” Her hand lifted, sketching out a few more thoughts. “There’s more, of course, but that’s probably enough for now.” The city official drifted back toward her seat.

53.2 \ 235

“Curfew control is incomplete. There’s a low but definite likelihood of civilian presence on the nighttime streets, if you’re chaos factoring.”

“That’s my department,” said the General, “and thank you for corroborating my expectation.”

“Certainly,” replied Hayze, nodding. “On another note that may or may not seem relevant, we’ve been noticing some neighborhood resource theft. Stores missing part of their inventory, luckily with low amounts of property damage. I don’t think it’s as simple as increasing chaperoned shopping runs; it could be a matter of boredom and lowered incomes, combined with fraying nerves.”

53.1 \ 235

A high-security hovering ovoid was set up at an altitude where two signal deadzones in Alisandre Capital could be viewed. The quality of light had a difference of cast between areas, noticed by Claymore as he let his attention scan the 360-degree view at their 3/4 etage comm bridge. The furnishings were austere but long-wearing. He shifted on his cushion and into his next wind as they prepared to tackle new sets of strategic observations.

Hayze from city planning had just deboarded, and was coming through the triple hatch. One, two, three they closed, and she was in the chamber. She joined them at the view-facing half-moon long desk, and with greetings Hayze began.

“I’m bringing you some noticeable but non-actionable lapses in defensive patterns, so you know where some weaknesses lay. However, the resources aren’t directly there, and reallocation at this juncture does not seem time or effort efficient.”

“I’m glad you’re bringing them to our attention, and we will be aware of them as we go forward.” The King Proxem sat square and tense as he exercised restrained politesse. “Please continue, Auditor.”

52.3 \ 234

She was not interrupted by any of the others as she brought her wireframe form over to settle her head amid the Symbias root branchings. This one’s emotional-musical language met her senses clearly again, and Aelrn called up her sonic analysis data and poetic impression file. In some way, recording poetic impressions created more accurately effective waveforms, distinguishable by their strong ideations. Symbias are able to affect reality through sharing their dimensional awareness with their friends. Once understood to a degree, they’re deft communicators – consistent to forms of address or clarification, making repetitions to get their point across.

Aelrn loved listening to them, though in Vedani fashion she was working to make it possible to let others do this work in her stead. She thought of what she would do afterward, and in what way it might be related or different. Her gained familiarity with these… plants?… warmed her affections more and more, every time she returned and learned and understood. That was the effect of their presence, and Aelrn felt she could grasp a certain deep foundation of the Aquari people. She’d been feeling like she wanted to name her favorite but hadn’t yet, sensing this was a tradition that belonged to others first, others with whom she should speak.

They were working out eight distinct patterns, one for each homeworld of the Aquarii. These were accompanied by a collection of subpatterns, which corresponded to burnt groves on each planet. They were being given spatiotemporal frequency keys. Vedani were able to recognize these principles relating to their own understanding of neurolocation, the way that internal states affect the ability to find or connect to a physical place. In a moment with certain conditions, done in such a way, by such a person, something can have a specific effect. It wasn’t that far a stretch. The Symbias liked this about them. Aelrn shut out the visual aetherscape, and for now listened only to sound.