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The Human adults had been given one of the soft meeting rooms to discuss their part of strategy. They had strong feelings about their young activists going into a threatening situation, and they decided to express their desire to protect by brainstorming additional sources of social support. It may be that a mass of citizens with the right amount of political protection could create targeting hesitation. Somehow, if there were enough willing. Vedani strategists accepted their initiative, remaining open to request, providing space, and being communicative with relevancies.

It was a large room with a plush floor, suited to the Vedani manner of collaboration where they could sit or lay down while working together in the aetherscape. The Human adults here also gained the habit of laying down to think.

Mirya Ayo was the one who had been collecting ideas on how best to talk to other humans about their motivations and situation. How to explain that children in giant mek suits might need an additional level of citizen protection from Pan-Galactic forces? What would people want to know and need to know? Many felt certain that people would be ready to join them. “What I have here isn’t a dialogue script,” she said, standing to address the room, “but a collection of things you’ve all said that you’d like to say to people. Oibhn was telling me we may have a chance to communicate with some who are more motivated, sympathetic, curious, and understanding, and also uneasy with the current state of government control. People who may be willing to take a risk.”

One of them accepted a chip from her, which contained a key code that would give them access to this document at an aetherscape terminal. “We don’t yet know who we’ll be talking to, though.”

“No,” replied Mirya, “but they might be better than who we would choose.”

“So we might really be able to have a volunteer buffer. How desperate is Vario? Is he ready to shed civilian blood to keep covering his ass?”

“He already nearly did, remember. Ours and our kids’. They could have had the counteragent out right away, but they delayed precious days until they had a cover story, which Sturlusson generously offered.”

“Well Sturlusson actually did have a backup ampoule stashed in his arm. And they could have just taken it out, but either Vario thought bloody vengeance was a good look – and at the time, I might have agreed – or, he was that unhinged under pressure. So, that’s who we’re dealing with.”

“The way I’ve heard it explained by Hirylienites, in this edition of the Affliction, the terminal point was changed into a turnaround point, which we registered as a vision which could bring people to face the truth of what happened on Hirylien. It was never going to kill us in the first place, it was supposed to communicate the survivors’ viewpoint and make the dynasty cough up the counteragent and confess that they had it and chose to let a planet die. But they didn’t and still haven’t given up their dirty secret, so here we are, ready to right some of their wrongs. Led here by our kids.” This was from Daniel, Chrysanthe’s father.

“But just in case, Sturlusson had a real failsafe. And lost his arm delivering it.”

“He’s not guiltless, his own people admit.”


“But our kids are.”

“Mostly,” Mirya said with a small smile, “Like you said, they got us here. So figure out what you want to say to someone halfway ready, and let’s hope some people come through.”

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