53.2 \ 235

“Curfew control is incomplete. There’s a low but definite likelihood of civilian presence on the nighttime streets, if you’re chaos factoring.”

“That’s my department,” said the General, “and thank you for corroborating my expectation.”

“Certainly,” replied Hayze, nodding. “On another note that may or may not seem relevant, we’ve been noticing some neighborhood resource theft. Stores missing part of their inventory, luckily with low amounts of property damage. I don’t think it’s as simple as increasing chaperoned shopping runs; it could be a matter of boredom and lowered incomes, combined with fraying nerves.”

53.1 \ 235

A high-security hovering ovoid was set up at an altitude where two signal deadzones in Alisandre Capital could be viewed. The quality of light had a difference of cast between areas, noticed by Claymore as he let his attention scan the 360-degree view at their 3/4 etage comm bridge. The furnishings were austere but long-wearing. He shifted on his cushion and into his next wind as they prepared to tackle new sets of strategic observations.

Hayze from city planning had just deboarded, and was coming through the triple hatch. One, two, three they closed, and she was in the chamber. She joined them at the view-facing half-moon long desk, and with greetings Hayze began.

“I’m bringing you some noticeable but non-actionable lapses in defensive patterns, so you know where some weaknesses lay. However, the resources aren’t directly there, and reallocation at this juncture does not seem time or effort efficient.”

“I’m glad you’re bringing them to our attention, and we will be aware of them as we go forward.” The King Proxem sat square and tense as he exercised restrained politesse. “Please continue, Auditor.”

52.3 \ 234

She was not interrupted by any of the others as she brought her wireframe form over to settle her head amid the Symbias root branchings. This one’s emotional-musical language met her senses clearly again, and Aelrn called up her sonic analysis data and poetic impression file. In some way, recording poetic impressions created more accurately effective waveforms, distinguishable by their strong ideations. Symbias are able to affect reality through sharing their dimensional awareness with their friends. Once understood to a degree, they’re deft communicators – consistent to forms of address or clarification, making repetitions to get their point across.

Aelrn loved listening to them, though in Vedani fashion she was working to make it possible to let others do this work in her stead. She thought of what she would do afterward, and in what way it might be related or different. Her gained familiarity with these… plants?… warmed her affections more and more, every time she returned and learned and understood. That was the effect of their presence, and Aelrn felt she could grasp a certain deep foundation of the Aquari people. She’d been feeling like she wanted to name her favorite but hadn’t yet, sensing this was a tradition that belonged to others first, others with whom she should speak.

They were working out eight distinct patterns, one for each homeworld of the Aquarii. These were accompanied by a collection of subpatterns, which corresponded to burnt groves on each planet. They were being given spatiotemporal frequency keys. Vedani were able to recognize these principles relating to their own understanding neurolocation, the way that internal states affect the ability to find or connect to a physical place. In a moment with certain conditions, done in such a way, by such a person, something can have a specific effect. It wasn’t that far a stretch. The Symbias liked this about them. Aelrn shut out the visual aetherscape, and for now listened only to sound.

52.2 \ 234

There were plenty of comfortable alcoves for people working aetherically, and Aelrn sought the nearest unoccupied. She lay her body down in the center and closed her eyes to access entry to her grove, which had grown in many ways. There was more traffic there now, and the Symbias enjoyed it.

52.1 \ 234

With her impassioned stint as a botanical researcher reaching its zenith here, Aelrn Lkcd took a moment to appreciate the live workings of her lab. Previously only a project in the aetherscape, this amazing concept was being given its best chance with the resources and motivation of the allied effort.

This was a possibility to turn tragic casualties into collaborative progress of understanding. Not to make a wrong right, but to get good from bad, maybe just one slightly more beautiful future. This is the kind of scenario the Vedani preferred, and had believed possible in the beginning when they first discovered people similar to themselves in alliance with others even more different. Now, the Vedani were choosing to fight for self-preservation from a civilization that had shown potential to turn successfully hostile on a species-threatening scale. Some, like Aelrn, were yet convinced that the future could be better in concert than in conflict. What she’d been discovering could make that possibility nearer, making amends and bonds during the process of resolution. The aetheric Symbias trees expressed total acceptance and support of this intention.

From the curve in the room where she stood observing, the lead researcher watched the different stations. There were the test patches of soil, large enough for two to four people to sit upon the imported earth. There they tested and refined soil-to-aetherscape readings. It looked like people sitting on the dirt and patting it occasionally, sometimes sinking their fingers into it. Aelrn closed her eyes and peered into the aetherlab, where each pat of the soil elicited sonic dialogue from the energetic Symbias treeforms. They pulsed with brightness, especially around the roots, some of which terminated in a carefully coded, self-iterating pocket of formulae. These pockets were encased by the electric outline of a spike.

Opening her eyes, Aelrn set her gaze on the long bench of toolforms receiving refinements. Here lay spikes of corresponding shape, which themselves pulsed as they received information from the formulae responding to the energetic trees. These daggerlike spikes were hollow, eight-sided for specific resonances, with a chamber of intersecting rings at the top of a hilt that could be gripped by the mekasuits. Two engineers were there working on these round upper chambers, laying light circuitry and pressurizing elemental vapors. This tool should pulse when one of the others pats the soil. The prototypes were receiving, but the connection needed work in order to be strong, sure, and complex.