84.2 \ 276

The protest volunteers had come from many places, through their contact with Vedani networks. There was an unreachable but not inhospitable meadowy plateau where they rested up, in comfort and secrecy. They were both provided for and prepared. Each group took a throughporting to the aerial river island to do some run-through training, simple, not too taxing. With them went a few organizers who could answer questions, and an Aquari Aegis to prepare them.

Soft Sand, wearing her aegis pendant, rose from where she sat watching the run practice. She went over to Mirya, standing with a Hirylienite observer and a Vedani wireform presence. “They look confident,” said Soft Sand, “and ready.”

They moved on to practicing the flattened group run with increasing surrounding levels of intense Aquariid vibrational manipulation. At practice peak, the rapids seemed to change character entirely, sound whooshing as though raising one mighty voice, light waves glistening off the water in blinding rainbows. This of course would be almost nothing like what they were anticipating – those moments would be situational – but it was a solid check to see if the buffer volunteers could withstand amounts of intentional distortion within a chaotic atmosphere of unstoppable forces. Some found their limits, while many others confirmed their willingness and capability.

Wrapping things up for this session, Mirya found the two in the group who were her actual cousins. She’d been able to identify and communicate with them over the local secret network in their locked-down area. They’d involved other willing relatives, and the bunch made it through the cooperation and readiness checkpoints to serve as backup for their little guy Bassel. He wasn’t going to be in a meka, but this massive situation involved him, and they decided to be supportively present. “How are you feeling?” she asked them.

“Whooo!” said elder cousin Qribu. “I’m going to want to process that later with a nap. When I wake up, it’ll be in a normal world where things like this happen.”

“There are things about this that I hope don’t become normal, but I support you holding onto your remaining sanity with whatever coping mechanisms you can safely employ. You’re my new coping mechanism. I’m just so thankful for your strength, my family. Our boy is amazing. He cares so much, and he’s so good. Thank you for letting the child lead the way.”

“It was time. We were ready to understand the things he wants to teach us. Blood harmony.”

“Sweat symphony.”

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