90 \ 282

Pure light. Breathe in the sound. We’re here to give them time. The time is now.

Shed the muffling cloak. Feel the vibrations thrill over my entire skin, down to every microscopic, electrostatic tendril fuzz. The light around me responds to me, bursts swirling into the patterns of the will of my vision. Elaborate, elegant, embroidery of the air: our beautiful art. Subsume the noise into our tones. Focus on the center of my energy and feel myself a part of everything around me.

I breathe into the air. It is vast and so grows my breath; it extends from me to my fellows who also breathe. It extends from us to those who see us. It crosses the ground, and it touches the sky. Here the sightwave lightspeech has no boundary; it fills all of space, touching us, touching the minds of all with open eyes, reaching their ears.

Some approach who may do us harm, though they may not. They may not know what they are doing, they may not know where they are facing, their surroundings can deceive them. The light and sound of our breath surrounds them also. I will treat them gently, I am here to protect, and so we may keep our lives.

Breathe deeply, enlarge the vision, extend the feeling; I lift my great pendant to hold and throw my wave, to focus my points of perspective. I can touch the air far away from where I stand. Warn them. Speak into their ears.

“What you see and what you hear may not be real. It is unwise to approach. You may cause yourselves harm with any hostile intent. We are not here to attack you. We are your citizens. We ask that you not interfere.”

89.2 \ 281

The sound of a wave rushing into shore crescendoed till it was unmissable. That meant the Aquarii could tell there was something incoming. A distributed double handful of the very tallest among them were wearing cloaks, and they began to glow with color. Those around them noticed, and all the chants changed to, “We Won’t Stand For This!” As the chants continued, people bent over again and splayed their arms as they shuffled around. The horde parted to create aisles of visibility around each glowing figure, resembling a stadium crowd even more. Once lines of sight and areas of effect were established, people helped each other lay down on their backs, linking hands and arms in their sections.

Some of the Hirylien Remainder stayed standing, at their anchor corners and the fenceline. In the distant sky, Esen could now see points of emerging visibility: military hovers approaching in the distance. It had been a while since the last escape flyer took off from inside, like the lingering expectation after the last kernel of popcorn. Once the legion was laying stationary on the ground, the chanting subsided and the sound of long waves rose again. The dots in the air came closer, and the glow of the cloaked figures grew brighter.

89.1 \ 281

“They look like they’re getting ready.” Flyers were coming out of a garage within the facility and positioning near laboratory exits. Esen stood at the fenceline, discussing the movements inside with two others from the Remainder. The protesters behind and around them were comfortably arranged in the loose chaos of the first phase.

“They’ve probably found some of the zerite phronium tags on our squoosh ammo. They’re not attached to any clear purpose, so it’s not an obvious threat, but the facility protocol is extremely sensitive.” Quietly, lab staff crossed the short distances from door to vehicle almost unnoticeably, like finishing a quick errand. “Yeah, they definitely found them. We still have more to send over the fence. They’ll want to prioritize evacuation. I don’t think they’ll be able to gather them all before they clear out. Having any extras around should help our defenses.”

Some of the flyers started leaving, soaring off unhindered. “This is it,” muttered Esen, “it won’t be long until we face control confrontation.”

“They want the staff out before the situation blows up.” They couldn’t see all the exits from where they were, but one of them was keeping count of how many flyers were leaving. There were some call-and-response chants running through the crowd, keeping people focused, connected, and courageous.

A boltball launcher squeezed through the crowd toward them, with one carrier and one attendant with ammo inside his coat. “We got whistlers,” said the ammo bearer. “Want to shoot one over?”

“Yes, I do,” said Esen.

“Okay, check this out. This isn’t backyard stock anymore,” said the carrier. He hoisted it toward the trajectory, and an adjunct assemblage of small interconnected modular construction blocks whirred into activity, Vedani stuff. This squoosh launcher could create its own tailwind, sending the boltball farther, with more accuracy. She was shown the hold, the trigger, and the trajectory. The fence was so high, this could not be a good place. Esen noticed the little embedded glint of precious material in the projectile as they loaded. She shot, and a serene smile spread across her face as it cleared. The launcher pair patted her on the back and continued threading along through the crowd. She turned her head, keeping one eye to the inside of the fence, and the other to the outer edge of their horde – feeling, like this moment, suspended between.

88.2 \ 280

Bare-headed and without their bluelight body shields on, a blond geneticist muttered back and forth with her dark-skinned labmate. They were reading the signs.

Biological Genocide
Hirylien Happened On Purpose
You Know It’s Wrong
Evil Empire Control
We Know What You Did
HA235 is a Designer Label
You Followed the Orders, Didn’t You
Did You Know What You Made?
You’re Not Why We Survived (You’re why we almost died)
Quit Your Jobs
Rise Up & Realize

“Are you recording this?” The labmate had a lapel pin camcom.

“Yeah, for later. We need express permission for anything depicting this facility, remember?”

“Oh, yeah. Will we be able to get the permission? How worried are we for our own safety right now?”

“These look like people who don’t take lives or have heavy weaponry. But, how did they get here? Maybe they have friends. Why today?”

A large member of security approached them quickly. “There are objects landing inside the fence. They have some kind of toy bow or launcher that can shoot high and far. We’re investigating, while initiating the next tier of procedure. Put all of your work away, long storage. Then get ready, and find your exit buddies.”

88.1 \ 280

Out came the swarm, seemingly from nowhere. People ran bent over with arms splayed, carrying signs and gear. They flowed in from a few directions, originating from points that must have been tucked away in folds of the land, to form up outside the fence of the biological research station. This was one of the most remote areas in the high-industry Expansion 6 Federet. These people should have been seen coming from very far away. By the time the staff were aware of the situation, the demonstrators were massed outside of the fence, and there was a stadium full.

Within the facility’s established emergency response system, the combination of numbers and proximity already ranked medium threat. Their projects were sensitive, delicate and volatile, with consequences of disturbance.

The perimeter monitors became the central fascination. While lab staff were recalling their failsafe procedures, they came to stare at screens full of people. There was a pervasive hush while everyone tried to figure out what was really happening, and what they might need to do.