72.1 \ 254

From where they were inside the Service Hallway, they couldn’t see the curve in the far distance, through the medium-dim light friendly to the technologies exposed here. Buckminster Woollibee and Arjun Woollibee – along with their lever-pulling electrical engineer Leryn Onk – were reviewing the modification setup that was now installed along the entire hairpin length of the Arch. They’d been figuring this out and setting it up for a little while now, since the discovery that a central key to their experiments lay within the sonic spectrum; fine tuning the largest possible and highest-energy-allowance sound system that could project and respond at various levels, and ideally interface positively with the surrounding aqueous molecular matrix.

“Do you remember when we first hearkened to Arctyri, when the Councillor and General were here in their official capacities? A lot has happened since, I know, and now both of them are actually back without their titles, arrived separately. But you remember the cold current we set up, unbroken from room to room, using every unusual air regulation device?” Arjun tapped a pen against his forehead while he asked this.

“Yes,” replied his twin Bux, “it was very convoluted. We were caught up in the moment.”

“Maybe we could have done it in here.” Indicated with an upraised hand, the continuity of this connecting space was unquestionable.

“Possibly. Though it may not have been as interesting. Being interesting could be a factor when attempting to call up a Dragon.”

“You may be onto something there,” acknowledged Arjun, using words they’d been tossing to each other since they could first work on a puzzle together. Meanwhile, Onk was stepping aside to gently fondle every newly-wired bank of sensors and emitters, for yet another once-over.

71.2 \ 253

[ from a notebook, cont’d ]

I’m not the only one. All over the place, vehicles are ready, bags are packed. Supplies are the most popular care gift; sometimes they come in cute wrapping.

Some doing the most communication came out of the hospital from the Hirylien Affliction. They seem motivated. Without saying why, people just listen closely to them. Their perspective is crucial every time they offer it.

People are rewriting recent history, coming up with versions that carry the weight of greater truth. They’ve worked with clues deduced from image sequences in signal windows. People are putting this together themselves, from research sought by besieged yet logical minds. People who want to solve the puzzle in order to leave the box. If we figure it out, maybe we can do this right, and not die. Study group is cool again.

The lucky heirlooms. People swear everything works together a little better when we kiss an heirloom, usually after making sure everybody knows its story. Every heirloom off a tower has its own story, and people tell it like they’re getting something off their chest. Doesn’t matter if it sounds crazy or nutty, they tell it, we kiss it, and everyone gets home safe, as if we’re getting the intel. We find what we’re looking for, arrive at the right times. The folk who returned our things – meddlesome or helpful likely depends, but the magic of these totemic souvenirs continues to come in handy. Hasn’t faded yet.

We know this is happening in every federet capital, plus more planetary capitals. Something’s going to happen. But where? Something is happening, everywhere. Except in my mother’s backyard.

71.1 \ 253

[ from a notebook ]

The government has turned into a regime. People are getting sick of this, mostly and especially us, the ones in population-concentrated signal lockdown areas. There exists the slowly but surely dawning realization that this is the returning cycle of problems caused by our own authorities. We’re the ones to suffer, and the way it seems now, they’re more likely to prevent a solution than to create one.

There’s a grim operational silence in the vacuum created by our drastically lowered levels of communication. It’s suspicious, significant of times when the real activity is the in the shadows. What new form of iron grip is encircling the people? When responsible parties are prodded, they give the guilty form of an answer.

People respond in the ways they must respond. I am. I’m in active contact with all my exit strategies. I’m half-packed now, always. We explain movement patterns to each other, noises, signals, waypoint stations. Without having to say too much: always welcome, anytime, whatever you need, knock holler or break a window. That kind of generosity becomes more prevalent when people think they might need it.

70.3 \ 252

“There’s something else going on with them, isn’t there?
“This isn’t all they’re here to do.
“Did you see any of them?
“The electricity – it was a complex and powerful spark, live yet controlled.
“This was a feat of technology and elemental engineering.
“The chamber, did they spark the primal elements?
“What could then form those elements and create a physical body of a tree we know?
“What do they have to do with the signal attacks, in the cities?
“And the fleet attacks, did the energy signature seem familiar?
“We’ve been barely involved, it’s hard to know.
“What do the trees tell us?
“They can’t catch up with everything and everyone at once, they have to grow too.

“What do we do? We need the Vedani.
“They’re part of a complicated allied conflict against the society of our citizenship.
“It’s hard to know what we’ll do.
“We will have to learn more.
“This changes the way we relate.
“Moments ago, it did not seem that we had a future. But we do again, or still.

“We will reform the way the worlds work to protect our teachers and rebuild our lineages.
“This is the way it is.
“Did anyone see them?
“We saw humans, child humans controlling the meksuits.
“Are Vedani related to Humans? The Symbias are hinting.
“They’re related to us, now.
“We will have to solve the problems that come with it.

“We are communicators, we’re connectors of planets.
“We learned that with the Symbias, who have always taught our generations.
“Flex your tendrils friends, stretch out your manes.
“We are going to have to communicate clearly, in such a way that the peoples will understand.
“We must not lose our families again, these friends who speak with the voices of our ancestors and hold our memories.

“Do we have enough skilled artisans to nurture them?
“Yes, we have enough.
“We have a lot.
“Lots of people want to spend time with them.

“Everyone with power pendants and focus pieces should activate and wear them.
“It’s time to expand our crescendoes.
“We’re going to want to give this everything we’ve got.
“We will put our worlds back together.”

70.2 \ 252

Everyone connected to these Groves had felt the returning presence of the Symbias more or less instantly. They rose up; they stirred; they got out of bed. Each new tree was like a beacon of hope. Barely-lost memories of deep heritage resurfaced. The Aquarii focused on figuring out how to nurture and protect the returned Symbias.

They were in the rise-and-fall portion of this Octave, when convictions and questions were spoken together loudly, then quietly and responsively considered in round after round. People received frequencies according to their inclination. Curiosity turned them to their topics, trading responses and switching interests using intentional tuning.

“We do not know these workings.
“They have brought back our friends.
“Our family –
“They are real and true!
“It knows our secret song. It remembers me.
“Still knows the name I gave it.
“The same voice.
“We felt death –
“But what is death?
“Plants are wonderful.
“Symbias are special among plants.
“All plants are special!
“I am loved, and love again.

“What do we do?
“We have to defend them.
“The Symbias –
“The Vedani?
“We have to work with them.
“The destroyers?
“The bringers –
“They learned something we didn’t know.
“They have another, different relationship.
“Is it deeper?
“Is it more true?
“It is something else.
“And now it’s part of our relationship.

“The Symbias spoke with them –
“Showed them into our Groves.
“We have to listen.
“We have to speak with Vedani, learn and share with them.
“This is our mandate, no question.
“This is a turning point.
“For our people!
“We have never before known other sentient Symbias-kin.