52.1 \ 234

With her impassioned stint as a botanical researcher reaching its zenith here, Aelrn Lkcd took a moment to appreciate the live workings of her lab. Previously only a project in the aetherscape, this amazing concept was being given its best chance with the resources and motivation of the allied effort.

This was a possibility to turn tragic casualties into collaborative progress of understanding. Not to make a wrong right, but to get good from bad, maybe just one slightly more beautiful future. This is the kind of scenario the Vedani preferred, and had believed possible in the beginning when they first discovered people similar to themselves in alliance with others even more different. Now, the Vedani were choosing to fight for self-preservation from a civilization that had shown potential to turn successfully hostile on a species-threatening scale. Some, like Aelrn, were yet convinced that the future could be better in concert than in conflict. What she’d been discovering could make that possibility nearer, making amends and bonds during the process of resolution. The aetheric Symbias trees expressed total acceptance and support of this intention.

From the curve in the room where she stood observing, the lead researcher watched the different stations. There were the test patches of soil, large enough for two to four people to sit upon the imported earth. There they tested and refined soil-to-aetherscape readings. It looked like people sitting on the dirt and patting it occasionally, sometimes sinking their fingers into it. Aelrn closed her eyes and peered into the aetherlab, where each pat of the soil elicited sonic dialogue from the energetic Symbias treeforms. They pulsed with brightness, especially around the roots, some of which terminated in a carefully coded, self-iterating pocket of formulae. These pockets were encased by the electric outline of a spike.

Opening her eyes, Aelrn set her gaze on the long bench of toolforms receiving refinements. Here lay spikes of corresponding shape, which themselves pulsed as they received information from the formulae responding to the energetic trees. These daggerlike spikes were hollow, eight-sided for specific resonances, with a chamber of intersecting rings at the top of a hilt that could be gripped by the mekasuits. Two engineers were there working on these round upper chambers, laying light circuitry and pressurizing elemental vapors. This tool should pulse when one of the others pats the soil. The prototypes were receiving, but the connection needed work in order to be strong, sure, and complex.

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