15.2 \ 197

Eyes open, ready to give and receive respect. Princess Ascendant Soleil, Magus, of the Pan-Galactic Imperium, was permitted to choose who she would meet from among those gathered. The chamber was peopled with more than she could possibly match forces with at once, though all would at least be witness to this. While those nearer her had arranged with greater anticipation, her discretion would determine a better audience by cultivating a direct sense of invitation.

Somehow, imagining herself bare nude actually helped. It was close to the truth of the feeling, presenting herself as herself. The challenge of transparency was easy to analogize with the undressed body. Imperfections would be apparent, and she had to make no effort to hide them, but consider them a necessary fraction of her presentation. So with this bareness of feeling, she walked over to the first Aureny awaiting.

They stamped and lowered their head to ground story, presenting their flat capital plate to Soleil, exceeding her height with it. One dust-clearing huff came from the four pits behind the lowered plate ridge. With a two-handed horsewhack, she set her hands firmly against the skullplate, opposite her shoulders. The manner of these people was brisk, and etiquette expressed with precisely directed force. Soleil could recognize etiquette in a new form, and she reflected it at her own volumes. On the second sharp exhale, the Aureny made a slight nod of contact acknowledgment. Then with the third breath, they gave each other weight.

The inexorable movement began at a stretching rate of moments. In the intense condensation of focus that suddenly occurred, she felt each grain of movement, responding equally in time with another grain of her own. Their masses differed, but there was an intentional equality of effort. Though she knew they’d overcome her, she fluidly gave her hands, elbows, and shoulders more of her might. Soleil’s feet planted deeper into the stone of the ledge, leveling her angle as though she could hold the other back while the pressure mounted. She held her root and sank up against this obstacle, which continued to move in knowledgable response to each drop of Soleil’s force.

Her back was to the chasm, with nothing obstructing the edge. She knew that she could die. Choosing this journey had been like leaping an edge already, and she had since chosen it again. She could be no less committed at this moment, and not only on her behalf. The lot of royalty meant that she didn’t know most of the people she was fighting for, but she knew she must – even if she wasn’t entirely sure what she was fighting in order to prevent the worst.

15.1 \ 197

It was a long walk for Soleil, and a shorter one for Mystvall as they led her to the spiral where her introductions would occur. Rosy Glow didn’t walk, she floated. They reached an archway with a large space beyond a ledge. Mystvall stamped a foot in acknowledgment and signaled Soleil through the archway with pointing chin.

Soleil stepped onto the ledge and faced the chamber. It was a round chasm with no floor in sight. This ledge, the width of two or three Aureny, extended spiraling down the side of the pit past various openings. Many Aureny stood awaiting on this ledge, each looking as mighty as the previous. Soleil knew this wasn’t about the strength of her arms. It would be the solidity of her will, the honesty of her desire, the force of her intention, the clarity of her being, and the wholeness of her understanding that would keep her from getting thrown off a ledge or crushed against a wall. Their language occurred in vibrations she couldn’t perceive; she chose to believe that they could sense these things, not wishing to die of skepticism. Skepticism may have been a part of the beginning of this trouble. This was a very formal place for introduction.

She undid her long dark hair, letting it swing down her back and over her shoulders. Soleil zipped her control gloves away in her Vedani piloting suit, and considered Rosy Glow where she sat on a radiant crystal sconce. She sent a small smile. This would not require translation.

14.4 \ 196

In a simple stone chamber, the three faced each other and began the instruction. Rosy Glow’s interpreted voice of the Aureny Mystvall was resonant, lucid, and rolling.

OUR FORMAL GREETING IS KNOWN AS MATCHING FORCES.
GIVE IT YOUR FULL MIGHT, AND NO LESS.
NOT FOR OVERPOWERING THE OTHER, BUT TO TRANSMIT YOUR TRUTH.
THIS BRINGS US TO A PLACE OF HONESTY.
OUR SENSES ARE HONED FOR THAT, IF YOURS ARE NOT.

ALONG THE SPIRAL,
WHERE YOU WILL MAKE YOUR INTRODUCTIONS,
YOU MAY PLACE YOUR BACK TO A WALL OR A PRECIPICE.
IF YOUR INTENT IS TO DECEIVE,
IF YOU ARE PERCEIVED AS BEING LESS THAN COMPLETELY HONEST,
ONE MAY CHOOSE TO CRUSH YOU OR TOSS YOU.
WE WILL NOT SUFFER THAT FOOLISHNESS.
YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO OVERPOWER A SINGLE ONE OF US.
GIVE US YOUR REAL FORCE, AND WE WILL MATCH FORCES.
AS MANY OF US AS YOU CAN GREET UNTIL YOU ARE EXHAUSTED,
WILL BE THOSE OF US YOU MAY ADDRESS AT A SUBSEQUENT TIME.

Mystvall coached Soleil on the physical application until she could confidently and correctly co-initiate. From everything she’d gleaned, avarice was the foremost human quality they’d encountered. Through a simmering shame, the Princess Ascendant aimed to display a different side of humanity – to state through action that the peoples of the Pan-Galactic Imperium were greater than a terrible first contact.

14.3 \ 196

Rosy Glow zipped over the entire group in circles, leaving an evanescent wake of sparkling pink that really alleviated the mood. Some of the Aureny took on communicative announcer postures. The lingering pink twinkles scattered by the Kao-Sidhe coalesced into focused beams of visualization that moved with conscious vibration, like smoke in the air revealing ripples of breath and speech.

Rosy Glow audially translated speech that she could apparently understand, with character tones that carried eerie clarity of individuality – for something coming from a completely different vibrational language pattern.

YOU ARE BRAVE, COMING TO US HERE.
HUMAN BEINGS ARE FRAGILE WITHOUT YOUR MACHINES OF DESTRUCTION, WHICH HAVE CAUSED US EXTREME SORROW.
HERE AND NOW, WE ARE GIVING YOU A BETTER CHANCE NOT TO SUFFER LIKEWISE WHEN THE DECISION RESTS IN OUR MOMENT.
WE ARE GOING TO LEARN ABOUT YOU.

Soleil stepped out from the edge of the group to address them. “I also wish to learn, in order to know what must be done.” Announce yourself by fitting your role, not speaking your title, she remembered from a dim motherly lesson.

WE WILL HAVE YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF ACCORDING TO OUR CUSTOM.
MYSTVALL WILL BE THE ONE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT MATCHING FORCES.
THEY – translated Rosy Glow, selecting the ungendered pronoun not of the draconid set – WILL BRING YOU TO A PLACE OF PREPARATION.

Derringer looked down at himself as he stepped forward.

NOT YOU.
ONLY HER. The Aureny speaking indicated Soleil with their pointed chin.
THE REST OF YOU MAY WAIT IN A PLACE WHERE NOURISHMENT WILL BE PROVIDED.

Everyone regarded Soleil, and she looked back at them gravely as she separated herself further from the group by a couple steps.

THE TRANSLATOR WILL ACCOMPANY HER.
GO NOW.

As she moved to follow Mystvall, the Princess Ascendant looked back over her shoulder at each of her traveling group, saying nothing as she disappeared. Rosy Glow bobbed a courtesy and followed them away, humming.