71.2 \ 253

[ from a notebook, cont’d ]

I’m not the only one. All over the place, vehicles are ready, bags are packed. Supplies are the most popular care gift; sometimes they come in cute wrapping.

Some doing the most communication came out of the hospital from the Hirylien Affliction. They seem motivated. Without saying why, people just listen closely to them. Their perspective is crucial every time they offer it.

People are rewriting recent history, coming up with versions that carry the weight of greater truth. They’ve worked with clues deduced from image sequences in signal windows. People are putting this together themselves, from research sought by besieged yet logical minds. People who want to solve the puzzle in order to leave the box. If we figure it out, maybe we can do this right, and not die. Study group is cool again.

The lucky heirlooms. People swear everything works together a little better when we kiss an heirloom, usually after making sure everybody knows its story. Every heirloom off a tower has its own story, and people tell it like they’re getting something off their chest. Doesn’t matter if it sounds crazy or nutty, they tell it, we kiss it, and everyone gets home safe, as if we’re getting the intel. We find what we’re looking for, arrive at the right times. The folk who returned our things – meddlesome or helpful likely depends, but the magic of these totemic souvenirs continues to come in handy. Hasn’t faded yet.

We know this is happening in every federet capital, plus more planetary capitals. Something’s going to happen. But where? Something is happening, everywhere. Except in my mother’s backyard.

71.1 \ 253

[ from a notebook ]

The government has turned into a regime. People are getting sick of this, mostly and especially us, the ones in population-concentrated signal lockdown areas. There exists the slowly but surely dawning realization that this is the returning cycle of problems caused by our own authorities. We’re the ones to suffer, and the way it seems now, they’re more likely to prevent a solution than to create one.

There’s a grim operational silence in the vacuum created by our drastically lowered levels of communication. It’s suspicious, significant of times when the real activity is the in the shadows. What new form of iron grip is encircling the people? When responsible parties are prodded, they give the guilty form of an answer.

People respond in the ways they must respond. I am. I’m in active contact with all my exit strategies. I’m half-packed now, always. We explain movement patterns to each other, noises, signals, waypoint stations. Without having to say too much: always welcome, anytime, whatever you need, knock holler or break a window. That kind of generosity becomes more prevalent when people think they might need it.

70.2 \ 252

Everyone connected to these Groves had felt the returning presence of the Symbias more or less instantly. They rose up; they stirred; they got out of bed. Each new tree was like a beacon of hope. Barely-lost memories of deep heritage resurfaced. The Aquarii focused on figuring out how to nurture and protect the returned Symbias.

They were in the rise-and-fall portion of this Octave, when convictions and questions were spoken together loudly, then quietly and responsively considered in round after round. People received frequencies according to their inclination. Curiosity turned them to their topics, trading responses and switching interests using intentional tuning.

“We do not know these workings.
“They have brought back our friends.
“Our family –
“They are real and true!
“It knows our secret song. It remembers me.
“Still knows the name I gave it.
“The same voice.
“We felt death –
“But what is death?
“Plants are wonderful.
“Symbias are special among plants.
“All plants are special!
“I am loved, and love again.

“What do we do?
“We have to defend them.
“The Symbias –
“The Vedani?
“We have to work with them.
“The destroyers?
“The bringers –
“They learned something we didn’t know.
“They have another, different relationship.
“Is it deeper?
“Is it more true?
“It is something else.
“And now it’s part of our relationship.

“The Symbias spoke with them –
“Showed them into our Groves.
“We have to listen.
“We have to speak with Vedani, learn and share with them.
“This is our mandate, no question.
“This is a turning point.
“For our people!
“We have never before known other sentient Symbias-kin.

70.1 \ 252

An Octave convened immediately following the reappearance of living scions of the burnt Symbias trees. This included a leading singer-artist-speaker-sound-architect from each Aquariid planetary community, including the Sendsingers. A rare convening, this was a Multiplied Octave: besides the lead speakers, many others were also present, loosely affiliated from every corner. They were called by relevance – witnesses, outreach communicators, event interpreters, influencer-listeners. Voices that could make lots of waves.

69.2 \ 251

Vaulting over a tree was only as high as a balance beam to this robot suit. She could do that, easy. Aquarii didn’t have to vault over trees, did they? It was a matter of this particular being’s particular form of entry at this time, unguided. It was this body, this moment, this path. The Vedani-Human development team explained in the pilot training sessions that it would be different for all of them, so they didn’t learn the path – they learned how to take the path that would show itself.

There was a distinct point when the mekani passed through an invisible spatial plane which Chrysanthe could feel, like parting a gauzy curtain. From where she landed on the other side, the whole night looked different. It was hard to say exactly how, but it looked like a nicer night, on a better day, in a newer time.

There was one mourner present at the edge of the Grove. The teal-shelled Aquari stood from where she was kneeling, stunned to see the giant mech appear, bubble on top with a human child inside. The pilots had been told not to mind or harm any mourners; they would be few, and they wouldn’t fight if not attacked. With the recent loss of the Symbias, Aquarii didn’t have much fight, and Groves are sacred places. Doing the work quickly should be no trouble. Night gardening. Stab the vajra dagger like a trowel into the center of the Grove, where there would be plenty of clear space now after the burning. Sink the entire hollow-pointed blade up to the handle, the strength of the suit would make it easy.

Santhie roared like a destroying angel over a toy landscape, and with both hands, reared the implement over her head and sank it into the earth. Smooth, like butter.

Quiet, plus a few sparks. Then she stepped back as a lightning figure shot up from the handle, describing a magnificent Symbias tree: wise, beautiful, great, knowing, loving, and alive. The mourner fell back down to her joints. The image lingered, fading slowly. Before the imprint disappeared entirely, some steam escaped from the top of the squared vajra handle, splitting the elemental generation chamber open on all sides. A bright green start caught the moonlight on its leaves, small but strong, and singing. The suit could hear it singing because it was able to register that music. The mourner could hear it sing because she knew that familiar song.

Chrysanthe gathered her senses and did the flip that blinked her out of the Grove and to the retrieval throughport.