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“This is a strange way to mobilize,” mused Arjun Woollibee to the key group seated at the Peak while reviewing the process list, “mobilizing to immobilize. Getting everyone not to do anything is almost harder than getting everyone to do something. We even have to set things up, so that no one has to do anything, for even a short span of time. It’s not quite like any of our practiced emergency drills, but we’re at least that prepared.” He turned to the Princess nearby. “Are you ready to give the instruction and the signal, Your Grace? Throughout the building, everyone is in group and in place.”

Preparing to direct a building full of people to a mindstate, Soleil was partway to that mindstate already, eyes half-hooded. She decided there would be something right about wearing her dragongift visibly for this; her lips, where she’d laid a kiss of compassion on the tooth of the Dragon that killed her mother, showed blackest black. She didn’t explain that to everyone, because it was still difficult to explain to herself, except that it felt like one of the most human things she’d ever done.

“Sure,” she said, reserved and concentrating. She brushed her hands down the light fabric of Marian Waters’ mental escape sundress, something she’d been offered to change into while giving her Vedani control suit a break. “It’s probably more evocation than instruction, but yes, I’m ready.”

“First, we’re going to emergency dim, then you’re on the system speakers.”

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