69.1 \ 251

She was the youngest of the bunch, at almost eight, but perhaps the most tireless. It had been difficult for the adults to agree to allow her on this stunt, but the combination of her top practice marks under cool self-control and the low-to-zero conflict of this particular action gave her backing when she put her foot down – the foot that could control a gigantic teleporting armor weapon.

As soon as she hit the ground of the Aquari planet Sussuros, the music began. Chrysanthe followed the music. Created collaboratively with the etheric Symbias, it was the means of communication with the environment required to locate a Grove. Subtle reverberatory qualities altered the mech’s sensory inputs so that it could find the path to the nearby Grove, the way Aquarii could when they sang their way to it. The daggerlike device sheathed at her hip also resonated, which strengthened the communication with the charge of intent to live.

Santhie received augmented visual direction of path indicators through the savannah. It was just like a floor routine; she didn’t move around as much in her elevated chamber, but the mechanized form that her body controlled moved further in a leap than she ever could. There was even a little more leeway in execution than a competition routine, since not every step needed to be just right, except for some parts which would ask for a special move. She wore her performance smile, which always helped her be her best! Her dad had done her bun nice and tight.

68.2 \ 250

Uncle Bo was wearing a knee wrap made with some adaptive Vedani material. He prodded Vanessa’s suit at the shoulder. “I tried to beat you at this, you know. If I could, it would be me going.”

“It’s okay. None of the adults beat the kids at this. It was our idea. We worked with it and got good at it. We had more time to be ready, but also mentally. We started this because we want something fixed. Maybe we care the most. We’re not mixed up about what’s important in life. This is important. We know it’s dangerous.”

There was a moment of fond and rueful gaze before Uncle Bo threw his arm around Vanessa, and she wrapped one arm around his shoulders to wrestle back and forth a little like they do. They both mussed each other’s hair slightly.

“Besides,” said Vanessa, shrugging her body into the mekani interface suit, “this isn’t even the hard part. It’s just some night gardening.”

68.1 \ 250

Vanessa was in early varsity track, while school sports was in session. She’d been working at it, and she was good. Stretching and conditioning was important. She did that now, for this event similar in many ways to a track meet. She felt in top fourteen-year-old shape. She was already wearing the interface suit, thick with readable connectivity elements while still light and nimble. It covered her toe to fingertip, and over her head except her face. Like the usual Vedani piloting suits, it was also light impact armor. She finished her round of stretches and shook herself out.

It was her uncle that she’d convinced to come with her into purposeful danger, to reassure and look after her while she pursued her convictions. Vanessa Udar was brave, but not invincible, young though she was. These children of capable ages faced their call to action in seriousness, with the help of each other and their guardians.

Table of Contents

When you’re scrolled up to the very top, it’s there at the top: tables of contents for the first two complete books and the third book in ongoing serialization. And now the third, Greater Beyond, is updated again after another twenty installments. Time goes on, and so does the story. The third book might already have exceeded the novel-length word count of each of the first two, but there is more to be told until the conclusion, and I’m not counting yet. We’ve just ended the fifth hefty sequence of the third book (25th of the trilogy – coincidentally, Princess Ascendant Soleil is the 25th of the Magus ruling lineage). I tell chapter sections in parts so that I know what I’m doing. Each installment is a small work of prose, like flash fiction; and while they add up to a much larger epic, I want each one to deliver an experience, a complete moment of shifted perspective. Shifting perspective is an ability that, when frequently exercised, can lead to greater connection, deeper sympathy, and new degrees of coordination. But please, don’t read science fiction fantasy for the superpower benefits, or they may not actually come to you. Joy is the key, as foreseen by desire. Do what you want. Read this if you feel like it. Love it if you do.